Honestbee review

I received my first Honestbee groceries delivery yesterday. Well, they were more than 3 hours late. So much for “get groceries fast”. I was sceptical and my scepticism turned out to be right. If you read their website about how they work, they basically recruit temporary staff to do all the work – packing and delivery, and I would imagine that more often than not, these temporary staff are not up to the task, especially if they only do the work on and off.

I was handed 3 recyclable groceries bags, and among the items I bought were frozen mid joint wings. Guess what was the state of the frozen mid joint wings? That’s right, half thawed. Obviously, with many deliveries to fulfill, it is not unreasonable to assume that by the time i received mine, it would have been at least more than an hour since they packed the stuff (or worse, and i think likely the case, it could have been more than 4 hours, since they were more than 3 hours late). Without cooler boxes, frozen items thaw very quickly. It goes to show Honestbee has not given enough thought to their operations. In contrast, Redmart delivers frozen stuff in cooler boxes, and they can even deliver ice cream without problem. Furthermore, the Redmart delivery always comes in sealed boxes which are only opened in your sight, so Redmart saves themselves some trouble if there were to be any discrepancy between what was ordered and what was delivered – it can only be caused by the packing personnel. And since packing is done in a centralised location (unlike Honestbee whereby they actually gather the stuff together from an actual supermarket – which I think introduces a lot of unpredictability), Redmart can deliver on time. The delivery window for Redmart is 2 hours, whereas Honestbee is overly optimistic in setting theirs to be within one hour.

Anyway, why did I try Honestbee? It’s because of the one-off promotion of $25 discount on a $60 order. Will I try Honestbee in the future? Only if they have attractive discounts. The minimum purchase required to get free delivery is $60, which is harder to hit than Redmart’s $50. Honestbee did get themselves onto Shopback.sg though, offering less than 9% of cashback. Now that Redmart is no longer on Shopback (Update 9/10/2015: Redmart is back on Shopback), perhaps there is a case for Honestbee. But honestly speaking, I think Honestbee will have to make their operations a lot more fail-proof.

It is interesting to note that the Uber (part time taxi driver) business model can even be applied to selling groceries, whereby you get part time helpers doing marketing (buying groceries) on your behalf. Goes to show that there is a huge shakeup that is happening in all traditional business models, to the benefit of consumers. It is slashing at the margins. Adapt or perish.

Update 15/11/2015: Get 9% cashback on Shopback for your Honestbee purchases. On top of any other discount you’re getting, you can get a further 9% discount on the final amount of your order.

Update: They’re no longer on Shopback. I guess they leveraged Shopback for their kick start marketing, and they don’t have much margin to allow such deep discounts, unlike Redmart. Theirs is a very high cost operation.

Taobao product recommendation – Orico Dual Bay Hard Drive Dock

These days, with everything going digital, everyone needs some kind of digital backup storage (to store photos, videos, documents etc.). It can be in the form of an external harddisk, thumbdrives, cloud storage (Dropbox, Google drive etc.) or the now-probably-obsolete optical disks (DVD, Bluray). In terms of safety, probably nothing can beat cloud storage, since it is managed (someone guarantees the safety) and it is offsite (you’re fine even if your house is burnt down). To store a large amount of data (in the Gigabyte range), though, it is probably not practical to use cloud storage, since it will be expensive and considerably slow even with the high-speed internet we have today. I’m a cheapo when it comes to.. well, everything, and my choice of a digital backup storage is a hard drive dock.

Prior to this, i used DVD-Rs to backup photos. Although cheap, it is quite a chore to burn the DVDs, plus, if you missed out some files, you may not be able to add to the already burned DVD. The size of DVDs at 3.7GB is usually not enough to contain all your photos, so your photo back up will span a few DVDs, and it is again a chore to load and eject DVDs if you wished to view the photos. The next lowest cost storage available is the hard disk. A hard disk overcomes all the shortcomings of a DVD, except it may not outlast a DVD. Hard disks have a typical life span of 2 to 8 years, with the added risk that they may fail abruptly at any time. The way to tackle this problem is to have redundancy – do the back up onto two or more hard disks. The likelihood of both hard disks failing at the same time is small enough to make this solution workable. In fact, the practice of having redundancy of hard disks has become standard to the point that a standard is actually devised, called RAID 1. For the average consumer, to be able to take advantage of RAID 1 simply means buying a hard disk enclosure or a Network Attached Storage (NAS) that supports RAID 1. The price point of such an enclosure is around US$70 at present (this excludes the price of the hard disks). The advantage of using RAID 1 is that you need only to do the back up once and it will be automatically duplicated onto the hard disks. If, at any point in time, one of the hard disks fails, you can simply replace the failed hard disk and all the back up data will be duplicated onto the new hard disk automatically. The disadvantage of RAID 1 is, well, the price. You do have to pay a premium for having this facility.

The alternative to RAID 1 is to duplicate the back up data onto each of the hard disks manually. This simply means you need to back up the data more than once (usually twice, since two hard disks is normally sufficient redundancy). I have chosen this as my back up solution, because the hard disk enclosure/dock without RAID 1 is far cheaper. I managed to get one from Taobao at 126 Yuan (S$28) – Orico dual bay hard drive dock (USB 3). Orico is a well known Chinese brand that’s sold on Amazon as well. At this price point you can forgive the slogan ‘Easy your PC’ (a literal translation from Chinese that’s supposed to mean making PC usage convenient) and the past tense of back up being spelt ‘backuped’.

Orico_dock_box

You can plug either 2.5 or 3.5 inch hard disks into the dock. Obviously, a 3.5 inch hard disk is cheaper, so you’ll go for that. I got Toshiba 1TB drives since they are the cheapest available (S$61) and they cost only marginally more than the 500GB one. With only 2 years warranty, these probably will not last much longer than 2 years, if it will last 2 years at all, but redundancy takes care of that anyway. At any point in time, if one of the hard disks fail, you’ll get a replacement and copy all the data into the replacement hard disk, and you’re safe again. And the beauty is, neither brand/model nor the capacity matters. You can just get any harddisk that has at least the same capacity, or more.

Orico_dock

First test run of 10GB back up took 4 minutes to be copied into both hard disks, not bad. To make it easier to copy files to both hard disks simultaneously, i used the utility n2ncopy. My 4 years old laptop didn’t have USB 3, but thankfully it came with an ExpressCard expansion slot. I got hold of a USB 3 ExpressCard from Taobao for 38 Yuan (S$8.50), which is dirt cheap. So, for a grand total of S$166 (inclusive of shipping cost), i managed to put together a 1TB redundancy back up solution with decent data transfer speed.

Honda Jazz 2009 Review

Honda_Jazz

I’ve had my Honda Jazz 2009 1.3A for a month now. Here’s my verdict of the car:

The good

  • Spacious interior
  • Excellent field of view
  • Good fuel economy
  • Paddle shift allows for manual override
  • Agile handling
  • Effective air conditioning

The bad

  • Underpowered
  • Poor noise insulation
  • Soft brakes
  • Slightly bouncy ride

The ugly

  • None actually, this is a pretty stylish car

I had high expectations in terms of fuel economy for this car, something to the tune of 15km/l, but so far i managed to get only 12 – 14km/l (depends a lot on how much distance is travelled on expressways vs roads laden with traffic lights). I think it takes a while to know the car enough to know how much pressure to apply on the accelerator so as not to waste fuel unnecessarily. I am confident that in the near future i will achieve 14km/l or more consistently.

The car pickup is dismal and it struggles up slopes. Stepping harder on the accelerator makes the engine roar seemingly in protest, burning lots of fuel without really delivering. The screeching sound of worn out brakes of surrounding vehicles can be heard loud and clear, not to mention the rumble of buses. These are the main gripes i have of the car, but i can’t fault the car too much on these since my priority is to have a safe, comfortable and cost effective means of transport.

The expansive field of view gives you good visibility, as do the large mirrors, so you can drive safer. The legroom and headroom available seats 5 adults comfortably enough. The ride is a tad on the firm side, but i think the suspension was designed this way to achieve better contact with the road to give a more secure feeling. I definitely prefer this to cars that seem to float.

All in all, i am pleased with this car. It does the narrow lanes, narrow parking lots and 90km/h speed limit we have around here just fine.