Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Canada Post FlexDelivery: Review Appendant

This is second installment of (or shall we say a supplementary to) my earlier blog about Canada Post’s FlexDelivery feature.

After experimenting with some packages, delivered to my local post office, from different sellers I have come to the conclusion that unless a package is trackable with a tracking number, FlexDelivery system will not email you to notify that your package is ready for pick up at the post office.

Someone has mentioned in one of the comments under my previous blog on this topic that the packages ordered from abroad are not being notified about via email when they are at the chosen post office. In my experience, most sellers who send packages overseas – across the border in case of most of the US – they use the cheapest modes of shipping, which, in most cases, do not offer a tracking number; even if they do it is useful only within the country of origin of the shipment. The barcodes from other countries are not scanned by Canada Post.

My guess would be that if an overseas seller uses an expensive or more reliable shipping method, there is a good chance that FlexDelivery will notify the buyer about the arrival of his or her packages.

In my observation, when a good (read expensive) shipping method is used by a seller abroad, the parcels sent so, once they enter Canada, are given Canada Post’s own tracking number barcodes which will be scanned, unlike those issued outside Canada, at the time of delivery to the post office of buyer’s choice.

To put it simply, if your package is trackable in Canada, FlexDelivery will notify you by email about its arrival at your PO Box address. Otherwise you are liable to potentially lose your long awaited parcel if you do not obsessively keep checking with your post office either in person or by phone.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Microsoft Excel: Cricket: Convert Balls into Overs

In cricket, converting balls to overs is equally difficult as overs to balls when there are fractions of overs involved. If a given number of balls is a multiple of 6 (each over has 6 balls) a simple division is enough. If not, then you have to take the remainder and convert it into fraction part of resulting overs. For example, converting 19 balls to overs gives 3.1. Divide 19 by 6, answer is 3 and remainder is 1, hence, 3.1 overs.

Unfortunately, Microsoft Excel cannot handle this hybrid system of base 10 and base 6 mathematics that is the specialty of arithmetic of Cricket overs. To convert balls into overs in Excel use following formula:


J17 is the address of cell containing balls. Following illustrates an example of this formula in action:

In above example, each yellow highlighted cell contains aforementioned formula. Turquoise highlighted cell contains formula explained here. Runs were added using a formula detailed here.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Microsoft Excel: Cricket: Convert Overs into Balls

In cricket, any digit after decimal point of a number representing overs is not fraction of overs but the balls of next incomplete over; for example: 3.2 overs means 3 overs and 2 balls. Converting 3 overs into balls with or without Microsoft Excel is simple. All you have to do is multiply 3 by 6 which would be 18 balls. To convert 3.2 overs into balls, first you multiply 3 by 6 to get 18, then add 2 to get 20. This can be a little challenging in Microsoft Excel too. To make it simple, use following formula:


J2 is the address of cell containing overs with or without fraction. Following illustrates an example of this formula in action:

In above example, each yellow highlighted cell contains aforementioned formula. Turquoise highlighted cell contains formula explained here. Runs were added using a formula detailed here.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Microsoft Excel: Convert Centimeters and Meters to Feet and Inches

Microsoft Excel does not have a built-in function to convert any measurement of length into inches and feet with single and double quote. Therefore, I have following formula that can convert any length specified in centimeters into feet and inches of x' x" format:

=TRUNC(B3/2.54/12)&"' "&TRUNC(MOD(B3/2.54,12))&""""

B3 is the address of cell containing centimeters.

Practical example:

Similarly, to convert meters into feet and inches of x' x" format use following formula:

=TRUNC(B8*100/2.54/12)&"' "&TRUNC(MOD(B8*100/2.54,12))&""""

B8 is the address of cell containing meters.

Practical example:

Warning: There are two disadvantages of above two formulas. First, results (6' 1" & 5' 3") are in text format rather than numerical format, therefore, they cannot be used in further calculations. Second, for simplicity sake, fractions of inches are simply dropped, not rounded off, but dropped.

Following formulas will round off inches to the nearest integer:

cm to ft' in"

=TRUNC(B3/2.54/12)&"' "&ROUND(MOD(B3/2.54,12),0)&""""

m to ft' in"

=TRUNC(B8*100/2.54/12)&"' "&ROUND(MOD(B8*100/2.54,12),0)&""""

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Microsoft Excel: Adding Overs in Cricket

Those of you who know the gentlemen's game are aware of the fact when talking about overs, the number after the decimal point always indicates balls that have been bowled. For example: 6.5 overs means 6 overs and 5 balls, 11.2 overs means 11 overs and 2 balls, and so on so forth.

Since each over has 6 balls, here is how mathematics of cricket overs works:

In first line, we are adding 1 ball to 6 overs and 5 balls resulting in 7 complete overs. In second line, we are adding 4 balls to 11 overs and 2 balls resulting in 12 complete overs. In third line - that's where things get a little interesting - we are adding 2 overs and 3 balls to 5 overs and 4 balls. Adding 3 and 4 gives us 7. Since an over cannot have more than 6 balls, we mentally subtract 6 from seven and get 1. We turn 6 balls - that we just subtracted - into 1 over and carry it over to other side of the decimal point and add it to 5 and 2. Using the example of elementary arithmetic we get:

This seems like a hybrid of base 10 and base 6 mathematics. Since base 6 is not built into Microsoft Excel, doing this kind of addition can be challenging, if not impossible, in a worksheet.

You can use following rather complex formula to add overs of multiple players in a score card:


C2:C10 is the range of cells that contains overs that you want to add. Here is this formula in action:

Another slightly modified example:

Remember: Above formula is of a special kind called array formula. After you have typed or copied this formula in your worksheet, press CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER to calculate. Every time you edit this formula, you will have to use same three keys to recalculate.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Microsoft Excel: Sum of Cricket Runs with Not Out Asterisk

If you are trying to add runs of individual batsmen of a cricket team using Microsoft Excel, you soon realize that the software skips the score with asterisk (example: 32*) indicating not out. The reason behind this is that Excel treats the value of cell containing a number and asterisk as text, therefore, does not include it in SUM function.

Following formula can solve this problem:


B2 is the cell containing runs of first batsman and B9 contains the score of second last batsman. B10 contains the score of last batsman who is not out. This cell has asterisk with a numeric value.

Here is an example of this formula in action:

The total of 174 was acquired by using above formula.

Warning: For a scorecard where all batsmen are out use following simple formula:


Using this simple formula in above example will result in false total of 171.

Let us take a look at more complex situation on a score card. This is most common one. At the end of a match we usually have two batsmen who are not out, hence, have asterisks with their runs. For such a situation, use following formula to add runs of all batsmen:


Remember, this is not a simple formula. It is a special kind of formula called array formula. Here is how you use it.

B2 is the first cell in the range containing list of scores and B10 is the last. As always, you'll have to change it to the range of cells that you are using. After you have typed or copied this formula in your worksheet press CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER to calculate. In the formula bar, the formula will look like this:


Important: Every time you edit this formula, use CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER to update the results.

Here are two examples of this formula in action:

Example 1:

Notice that the positions of two not out batsmen don't affect the calculation.
Example 2:

Here B2:B10 was used as range. Notice that blank cells also don't affect the calculation.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Canada Post FlexDelivery: Early Review

In early May 2015, Canada Post introduced a new parcel delivery feature which has been dubbed FlexDelivery. It is simple enough and cheap enough – it’s free – that it can easily attract a huge following among online shoppers… IF it works.
Don’t get me wrong. It works but only 50%. At least that is the case in my experience.
FlexDelivery is very similar to buying a mailbox in your local post office but it’s free and it has better perks.
  • You sign up for FlexDelivery online at www.canadapost.ca.
  • You choose post offices that you would like to pick up your parcels at. You get a different address for you for each post office. Each address will have a P.O. Box in it.
  • Instead of your own address, you use one of your post office addresses for receiving parcels.
  • Once your parcel is at the post office ready to be picked up, you get an email alert.
I am of the view that for FlexDelivery to work two things have to happen.
  1. Your parcel has to get to your chosen post office. CHECK
  2. You should be able to pick up your package at that post office. MEH
To be able to pick up your package at the post office you should be notified first that it is there. You see, in my case, I never did get that notification that was supposed to be emailed to me.

I checked my email daily, kind of obsessively, to no avail. Called Canada Post a couple times. They gave me no reason FlexDelivery might be at fault.

Finally, one day, I walked into my local post office and poured my heart out. The little old lady at the counter looked at my ID, without saying anything, walked into the storage room behind her and came out with a parcel with my name on it. It was revealed to me that the much coveted package had been there for an entire week.

I called Canada Post and inquired as to why I had not received any emails as promised by their website. I have been told that I am the first person, who has had problem with email feature of FlexDelivery.

Now I am thinking I am probably the first person who has signed up for FlexDelivery. I never signed up to be a beta tester of a pilot project.

Did I mention you have to persuade your shipper to use regular mail and not one of the couriers like Purolator, UPS, FedEx or DHL?

See also:

Sunday, 24 May 2015

English-Urdu False Friends

For those of you who don't know, Urdu is national language of Pakistan. It is written right-to-left in modified Arabic script.

False Friends are pairs of words from two languages which have different meanings in each language but they sound almost or exactly the same. One example is the word die. In Dutch it means that one and in English - well you know what it means in English. I think you get the point.

There are several words in Urdu that have false friends in English with totally different meanings:

Following is a small list of English words and their totally different meanings in Urdu:

English Word Definition in Urdu
Ball Hair, Child
Bay 2nd letter of Urdu, (prefix) Without
Be (loosely) Ma'am
Bean A musical instrument
Bot Weights for scale
Bus Stop, End, Enough
Car Work, Action, Act
Cheese Thing, Object
Chore Thief
Coffee Enough
Fa├žade Corruption, Riot, Infighting
Fay 26th letter of Urdu
Fuck Pale (usually with fear)
Gall Cheek
Gee Yes
Gill A clan of Jat people
Gnaw No
Hay 9th and 33rd letters of Urdu
Hey 9th and 33rd letters of Urdu
Late To lie down
Light Electricity
Mall Money, Wealth
Naw No
Noon 31st letter of Urdu
Now Boat
Pawn A chewable stimulant made of Betel leaf and tobacco
Pit To lose a contest
Pore Part of Finger
Pull Bridge
Ray 14th letter of Urdu, (a rude way of addressing someone) hey, you
Seen 18th letter of Urdu
Shean 19th letter of Urdu
Wow 32nd letter of Urdu
Yay 35th and 36th letters of Urdu

I will update this list as new words come up. Please visit again.

Last Updated: May 24, 2015