Make money by using your computer’s idling time

Most of us have a computer in a form of a desktop or notebook at home, school or at work. Did you know that there are companies willing to pay you to let them use your computer and internet connection to do performance audits of other websites? The first thing that comes to your mind may be privacy concerns. I have been a user of Gomez Peer Zone for more than 5 years and never had to worry about security and privacy. Gomez Peer runs in a sandbox and in the background. They primarily provide performance testing services for their clients and will pay you for “processing time”.

The catch? Applications are approved manually and by their needs. For example, if they have a project that requires performance testing from participants from Singapore, you will be likely to be accepted within a week or two. Minimum payout is US$5 and your earnings will roll over to the next month if you did not hit US$5 that month.

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Grand Lexis, Port Dickson

It started when my fiancée told me that she had always wanted to stay at Grand Lexis in Port Dickson. I started planning 2 months prior to the trip as a surprise treat for her birthday. In order to add personal touch, I did not sign up through a travel agency.

I linked up with the reservation, Normala, via email and told her my requirements which included a special bouquet of pink roses and a birthday cake that were to be delivered at 12 midnight on my fiancée’s birthday. After some deliberation, I decided to opt for the Grand Pool Villa with full sea view which comes with the following:

• Size of units – upper 1312 & lower 1291 square feet
• Number of units – upper 23 & lower 23
• 2 king size beds
• Can accommodate 04 persons
• Glass panel for underneath sea viewing
• Private swimming pool with garden
• Dry Kitchenette
• Separate bath and toilet
• Rain shower
• Wall mounted hairdryer
• Mini fridge
• In-room safe box
• Astro – 19 channels
• 42’ LCD flat screen TV
• Coffee and tea making facilities
• Electric kettle
• IDD telephone
• Ceiling mounted air-conditioner
• Ceiling fan
• Stationary exercise bicycle
• DVD player
• Microwave oven
• Iron and ironing board (upon request)
• Bathroom weighing scale
• Umbrella

* Surcharge of RM150.00nett per room per night will be applicable for Full Sea View Room (Room subject to availability)

Normala sent me a form via email to fill up and also asked me to send her a copy of the front and back of my credit card to secure the reservation. Not hard at all.

Next was transport. I called up almost every coach company in Singapore and found a bizarre fact that while there are coaches to Port Dickson, there was none back to Singapore. I never quite understood why even till this day. In the end, I decided that we will fly to KL and get a cab to Grand Lexis.

On the day of our arrival, we arrived pretty early at the hotel as we took an early flight from Singapore. It was barely 11am when we registered at the front desk. We were very tired as we had gotten up at 5am that morning to catch our flight so I requested for the staff to get us the room quickly. Unfortunately, they appeared to be fully booked the night before and we had to wait for the guests to check out. I left my mobile number and deposited my luggage at the bell counter (Which is just a corner of the lobby) before taking a nice exploratory walk around the hotel with my fiancée. It was very windy and hot out there as it was almost noon. We returned to the lobby after 30 minutes to cool down from the heat.

Hotel Lobby
Hotel Lobby
Our room ... two king size beds
Our room … two king size beds
Bathroom and private pool view
Bathroom and private pool view
Another view
Another view

The lobby was pretty crowded as the Great Eastern Life group were having their corporate event. It irked us that their staff were pretty noisy and taking up most of the seats in the lobby. They appeared to be having a treasure hunt game – it was unbearable for us as the noise level was unacceptable. In the end, I suggested to retreat to the hotel’s Duyung restaurant for a light meal. Shortly after placing our order, I got a phone call informing me that our room is ready! As we couldn’t wait to get to our room, we requested for our order to be sent to our room instead.
We finally met Normala in person at the lobby and she arranged for a buggy to send us and our luggage to our room. As I had booked a full sea view room, the allocated room is understandably one of the furthest from the front desk. Before boarding the buggy, the General Manager of Grand Lexis, Mr Chan, came out to greet us personally. I could see from his profuse perspiration that he had been walking the ground and helping with ground work together with his staff due to the high occupancy!

When we arrived at our room, we couldn’t contain our excitement and started running around taking photographs of our large and spacious room. We even neglected the food that we had ordered earlier amidst our excitement! The team at Grand Lexis had painstakingly laid out rose petals of red and pink on BOTH our king size beds, TV console and coffee table! Check out the photographs!

After taking photographs, we laid down beside the glass panelled floor which showed the sea. Even though we were not able to see any marine life, the presence of a window on the floor to the sea was a very unique experience for both of us.

We took a free shuttle to Port Dickson’s waterfront at 3pm so as to get some supplies from the supermarket. In the end, we also bought bread and pizza (Dominos) before catching the return shuttle. Nothing to shout about at the waterfront and we were so glad to be back in our room by 6pm. Port Dickson would have offered very wonderful sunset views if not for the haze that was plaguing Singapore and the coastal areas along the Malacca straits.

At 12:05am, 2-3 hotel staff arrived in a buggy (I could hear from inside my room) so I quickly rushed out to grab the bouquet of roses and the cake from them before my fiancée noticed. My surprise was successful thanks to the Grand Lexis team!

The mini kitchenette was great as it came with a microwave oven, cutlery, plates and bowls for two, an electric kettle and the standard tea bags and coffee sachets. Due to this, we never had to eat cold food. Thumbs up for this as well!

Wi-Fi coverage was very good as there were two Access Points per room. There was one for the room and one for the pool area behind the kitchenette. Unfortunately, all the APs in the hotel grounds appear to connect back to the very same internet connection. This means that all guests in the hotel were competing for bandwidth and the internet connectivity was of little use to us throughout our stay. On the brighter side, we were supposed to be enjoying this vacation detached from our electronic gadgets so it wasn’t that bad after all.

Would we come back again? Absolutely! We would love to also try their new project, the Hibiscus, which is about an hour’s journey from here and it should be ready by next year.

Before I end this, I must add that the sleep quality was so good that we spent hours and hours sleeping on the comfortable king size bed. Absolutely wonderful!

Bad service from Toll Global Express

My rating:

I am a frequent a frequent online shopper and have encountered my fair share of horrendous level of services with courier companies.

These are just some of their traits:

  •  They don’t come at the agreed time range. For example, delivery timing of between 2pm – 6pm was arranged but they arrive at 12pm or 7pm.
  • When you  call for re-delivery and ask to send to address B instead of  address A, they agree but still sends to address A resulting in yet another failed delivery.
  • When you call for re-delivery, they will say that they have no more slots and ask if they can deliver X days later
  • When you call for re-delivery, everything appears to be fine but no one turn up. You call to complain and they arrange for re-re-delivery. You leave the premises and the driver turns up when you have already left.
  • Many more …

Recently, I ordered something for my girlfriend and arranged for courier service. The item was shipped on 29th April 2013, arrived in Singapore on 30th April 2013. Everything looked perfect!

1st May was Labour Day so fair enough, they ain’t working. On 2nd May, the courier guy named “Renhao” dropped a delivery advice at my door as he came at 4:25pm when no one was around. I was impressed that he wrote down the colour of my gate and door as proof of attendance (though I’m not sure how my gate is the colour of bleach).

3rd May first thing in the morning, I called up Toll Global Express, the courier company, to arrange for re-delivery. I asked for delivery to my office near Ubi and the staff agreed. I gratefully thanked him and gave him both my mobile numbers just in case the courier guy couldn’t reach me at one of my numbers. Delivery was arranged for 2pm to 6pm on the same day.

At 5:30pm, there was still no news so I called them again. A staff answered and assured me that according to his system records, the delivery will be done by 6pm. I asked him to call the driver to confirm as I am leaving the office at 6pm. He promised to call back.

He didn’t.

I called again at 5:57pm and spoke to another guy. I took his name down this time. He said his colleague had already called the driver but they don’t know where my item is. I was like “WHAT?!”

He said he will check with his supervisor and will call me back. He called me back shortly and said that even his supervisor could not trace my item. He then asked me if he could arrange for re-delivery the very next day.

I asked him how was he going to arrange for re-delivery when none of them know where my item is? He could not give me an answer and just kept asking me whether I can make it for the following morning.

I told him no as I am leaving the house very early in the morning and will be out the entire day.

He also admitted that nobody made arrangement for re-delivery today and asked me who I spoke to. I asked him to check who had updated both my mobile numbers in the system (because he could read them back to me).

He responded sheepishly that they have many new hires and they are sharing a single ID right now which made it impossible to trace who was responsible. Great, now they make THEIR internal problem MINE.

I asked to speak to his supervisor and he said his supervisor is out and he will ask her to call me back later.

I asked him to arrange for a Sunday morning delivery which he said that only his supervisor can approve.

I agreed to let him get his supervisor, Giselle, to call me later to confirm the Sunday morning appointment.

Giselle did not call at all.

Well, let’s see if I get my item on Sunday.

I don’t think that I am unreasonable. I paid premium for courier delivery, I cannot accept the courier company saying that they don’t know where my item was, they don’t know who took my re-delivery request because they were using a common ID, etc. They should call themselves TROLL Global Express.

Toll Global Express's ridiculous service level
Toll Global Express’s ridiculous service level


Update: 5 May 2013

My item appeared magically at my house when I specifically asked for them to deliver to my gf’s place as I wanted to give it to her over the weekend.

No calls, no apologies, still as screwed up.

Thumbs down.