Rotating Skyscraper Planned For Dubai

The architects from Dynamic Architecture Group have devised a rotating skyscraper to be built amongst the Dubai landscape.

The concept is interesting, to say the least. Strong wind gusts will rotate the skyscraper’s floors for an ever-changing design. Owners of apartments will likely awaken to a new view each morning.

Coming from a technical background, I can only wonder if the parts required between the floors are durable for long-term use. Oh wait, they have plenty of oil to use between floors!

Given that the architectural landscape of Dubai is similar to that of the Las Vegas Strip, once the investors have gained a sizeable return on investment, I’m sure they will tear it down and start anew.

E-mail Scams : Job Offers

I’m going to discuss a type of e-mail scam I’ve encountered lately. Actually, I find my spam box littered with dozens of these so-called “job offers”.

I bet we’ve all seen spam e-mails promising $4K to $10K per month (or $200 to $300 per day) in residual income for processing sales orders. Most individuals safely ignore these e-mails, but some seek further details.. and eventually get caught up as a helpless victim (or jump ship early).

There’s plenty of legitimate opportunities for residual income processing sales orders. However, there’s also ones that are clearly illegal. Let’s start with an example. Joe has a factory in Europe that makes shoes. Joe does $100K a month in sales and needs individuals to capture some of the American and Canadian market on his behalf. In doing so, Joe will pay you 10% of the sales volume that YOU process on his behalf. Joe expects you to wire 90% of the proceeds from YOUR sales to either your bank account or a bank account or his choice. Sound familiar?

Let’s break this example down a little. Joe wants you to set up shop on his behalf, in your own country. With the sales volumes Joe’s doing, he could easily set up shop in your country using various methods. Next, Joe wants to use your bank account to collect the funds. Never give out your banking information. On top of this, Joe wants you to set up a merchant account with an online order processor. Then, Joe promises you he’ll send you a couple hundred orders per month for you to process. Well, guess what? Those orders aren’t really “orders”. They are false orders created using STOLEN credit card numbers and customer data. Now, I hope you can put two and two together and see where I’m going with this (money laundering). In the end, you make nothing and actually lose money spent on credit card processing fees and chargebacks from unknowing “customers”.

In the end, you will be held accountable for YOUR actions, not Joe in Europe. If you have landed yourself in hot water by falling victim to such a “job offer”, I have information that can help you out.

Disclaimer: I discovered the information above a couple of years ago, being inquisitive and pressuring details out of a individual posing as a marketing manager for an online company. Sometimes, you just have to play dumb, but yet not fall victim.

Another day, another scam.

I received an envelope from Imperial Majesty Cruise Line Vacations (aka Ramada Plaza Resort) today.

Inside the envelope, there was a travel voucher worth $1300. I was promised 4 days & 3 nights at a Ramada Plaza Resort in Florida, another 3 days & 2 nights at another Ramada Plaza Resort in Florida, a 2 night Caribbean Cruise and 7 days transportation by Alamo Rent-A-Car with unlimited mileage.

Too good to be true? Well, you know how the saying goes.

This Ramada Plaza Resort scam is fairly well-known. In fact, back in 2005, I filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and also the Florida Attorney General upon receiving this scam. They acknowledged the complaint as I received a formal response from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

This “deluxe” vacation package consists of two sub-standard hotels and a very old, poorly kept ship. This “deluxe” vacation package also violates the following sections of the Sellers of Travel Act: 559.932 (Vacation certificate disclosure), 559.933 (Vacation certificate cancellation and refund provisions) and 559.9335 (Violations).

If you have been scammed by Ramada Plaza Resort, contact me using the comments section of this blog entry. I have enough legal documentation to get you a full refund.

Starbucks vs Tim Hortons: Decaffeination Strategy.

I had a decaf, non-fat, no whip mocha from Starbucks this morning.

It did nothing for me. I didn’t expect it to. It’s the only way I can enjoy the taste of coffee without inducing a headache.

So, I did a quick Google search to determine the caffeine content in a ‘decaf’ coffee. No, it’s not 0 mg. US FDA standards state that 97% of the caffeine in a coffee bean must be removed to be denoted as ‘decaf’. That amounts to 15 mg or more in some Starbucks drinks. That’s far from being caffeine-free.

Shortly thereafter, it occurred to me that I should check to see how safe the decaffeination method used by major coffee vendors is. I asked myself, “Is decaffeinated coffee safe to consume?” I set out to find the answer by doing a couple of quick Google searches.

I discovered the following:

Starbucks uses two methods of decaffeination: the direct contact method and the Swiss water process. With direct contact, a solvent (methylene chloride) is introduced to the green coffee beans as they soak. The solvent bonds with the caffeine in the beans and removes it. The solvent is then taken away from the beans and the coffee is roasted at over 400*F. Since the solvent has a much lower boiling point (114*F) the coffee bean that come from this process produce a cup of coffee that has no detectable trace of methylene chloride.

The Swiss water process involves using hot water and steam to remove caffeine from the coffee. Then the solution is run through charcoal filters (similar to a giant water filter) to remove the caffeine. Currently our retail stores offer one coffee that is processed using the Swiss water method. It is called the Decaffeinated Komodo Dragon Blend.

The thought of using chemicals to remove caffeine from coffee beans disgusts me. You’d think a premium coffee vendor would use the safer ‘Swiss Water’ method for all of their blends. I mean, we already pay a premium relative to other brands, don’t we?

Let’s look at Tim Hortons:

Swiss Water?* Decaffeinated Coffee … . This patented Swiss Water method of 100% chemical-free coffee decaffeination provides a natural way to deliver that same great Tim Hortons quality without the caffeine.

A cup of decaf coffee from Tim Hortons uses the chemical-free, Swiss Water method to extract caffeine from coffee beans.

That says a lot. At a fraction of the cost of Starbucks, Tim Hortons decaf coffee is safer to consume. Starbucks, are you listening?

Sources: (a little difficult to find otherwise) and

Update (11/19/2008):

I discovered that Tim Horton’s decaffeinated coffees contain SOME caffeine. Check out this hyperlink. A small decaf coffee contains about 5 mg of caffeine and an extra large coffee contains about 12 mg of caffeine.

Canadian Dollar Hits Parity Today

For the first time in 31 years, the Canadian dollar hit parity with the US dollar today (at 10:59 AM). No longer do Canadians have to put up with mockery (well, for now) :).

The funny thing is, I went to today to check some hardware prices and the number one search term was… Canada! That says something, and it’s good.

Consumers have taken advantage of the strong Canadian dollar to purchase goods from the US without much of a premium (well, maybe a little bit). As I work near US customs, I can attest that there has been a surge of Canadian traffic to the US over the past two-and-a-half months. My co-workers and I have put up with long border lineups, nearly two kilometers long, on a daily basis for the aforementioned time period. On the contrary, there’s no longer an incentive for Canadians to sell goods in US dollars, especially with the Canadian dollar likely exceeding the US dollar in the near future.