Thursday 30 May 2013

Forgot Your Book .. Try TED

This is just a short post about what happened to me yesterday . Nothing special , but I usually take a book to read on the way to work , currently Simon Winder's Germania. Anyway yesterday I forgot it. I have a smartphone , a Samsung Note 2 , on which I have two E-Readers (Aldiko and Kindle) , internet access with 4G Speed if I'm in rage of a signal and the TED (Technology Education and Design not the Seth MacFarlane film , though I do love Seth MacFarlane's stuff)  app. This enabled me to download a few talks when I was waiting for the train in Newcastle , which served me for the journeys to and from work.

There's thousands of tals all of which are both useful and entertaing. The first was to save time when using technology , then there was one about tracking down the Kraken (giant Squid) . I've included them for your own extertainment but it's now time for me to get off to work.

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Go And Yodel

I'm extremely annoyed with the so called delivery firm Yodel. This company are arrogant and don't seem to know what their function is. I ordered an item from Argos , provided my contact details and expected some indication of when the item would be delivered. The house was empty for an hour and they slipped a note through , saying they would attempt to deliver tomorrow and the day after then return the item to where it came from. They gave a choice of weekday when I could have it redelivered but that's no use to me. I also have the option of picking it up from their depot as long as I get there between 9 and 5 (when most people are at work). I thought they were supposed to deliver.

Anyway I thought I 'd try and speak to them , each time you go through the IVR , select the speak top someone option and you get cut off.

I phoned Argos who seemed a trifle irate as this obviously reflects on them , they gave their direct number to Yodel. This type I still had to negotiate an IVR system but finally got to speak to someone. I asked them to contact the driver as someone couldbe in to recieve the item.These are the points they put to me:

  • The can't contact their van drivers as they don't carry company mobile phones
  • They would contact the driver if he returned to the depot
  • Had I contacted Argos as they had recieved a query
  • The time of delivery is at the whim of the driver 
  • They couldnt even arrange a late or early delivery
I find it amazing in this day and age that a company like that can continue in business. The showed no respect and seemed completely oblivious to the fact that I am their customer , not Aros. If I hadn't bought the item they wouldn't have anyting to deliver.

Trying to think of a song to go with this and Frank Zappa's Flakes sort of fits the bill. Argos were helpful and professional. Yodel arrogant and useless , I certainly would not recommend them,

By the way this is the second occasion this has happened with this company.

Monday 27 May 2013

Slide Comes Before A Fall

..and my how I fell , wandering into the bathroom barefoot and 18 stone of me hit the Amtico floor with a fair jolt . Somehow the floor and Kitchen ceiling were undamaged , while I survived with a sore back and bruising. Think that the Tom Petty song title is fairly appropriate for the situation.

After that have had fun with passwords and mobile phone and broadband technology with Orange and Virgin , eventually succeeding despite the best endeavours of the website "designers" to make their site unusable. I've worked with a few programmers and one of them cauled Paul who I worked for at the National Bus Company gave me these three rules for a program , though they can be applied to anything you do:

  1. It must work and do what it is supposed to do
  2. It must be legible and easily understood and documented
  3. It must be efficient
It seems very few designers / programmers take those maxims into account these days. Many of the people on the end of the phone are fine but they do have to work with systems that make their job very difficult , although you get some places that actually blame the incompetence of the user , with "You must have done something wrong" or "Try later" , as though some magic is going to suddenly make things work. If it doesnt work now , it wont work tomorrow unless it gets fixed. I'm thinking Tesco , Barclays and Nationwide for this particular bad attitude.

Anyway it's the end of the Bank Holiday , work starts again tomorrow , and it's almost time for bed .

Saturday 25 May 2013

Bongo Fury

The weather is beautiful , but the mood is ruined by the thugs of a certain organisation organising a protest in the cetre of Newcastle. It's amazing how many people seem to think they have a point. Then they start complaining about the Germans taking over London tonight !! Bayern Munich and Boruusia Dortmund are there because they're the best footballing sides in Rurope this season.

Anyway after that I was looking into phone companies terms and condition for internet data usage and check this snippet out:

"Inclusive Mobile Internet:  Mobile internet browsing (whether as part of an inclusive allowance or not) is not to be used for other activities (such as non-company internet based streaming services, voice or video over the internet, instant messaging)."

From that I assume you can't watch Youtube , message friends on Facebook, Twitter or any non approved method, or maybe I just read it wrong.

I just find it annoying when organisations attempt to impose themselves on you in an attempt to control you.

The title of the post comes from a Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa collaboration , so I think I'll dig out a Beef heart video to cheer me up.

Sunday 19 May 2013

Black Sabbath Saved Me From Being A Kiss Fan

Not me personally , but Chris Cornell of Soundgarden who was just being intervied on BBC Radio 6 , the best radio station in the world, on The First Time show. The irony of this post post is that it's not going to be about Black Sabbath or Soundgarden or even Radio 6 but the afformentioned objects of my disdain Kiss.

When I first heard about Kiss as a teenager , it was this amazing American band with outrageous full face make up , flame throwing guitars and stage show that just had to be ssen. I assumed the music would live up to the hype....

...It didn't . Typical American AOR dross backed up by a husge amount of record company hype. Faceless formula rock such as "Detroit Rock City" or "Crazy Crazy Nights" or turgid ballads like Beth. Kiss became consumate bandwagon jumpers with their own comic featuring ink laced with their blood.. Then actually cam a halfway decent song when they jumped on the euro disco bandwagon ably helmed by Giorgio Moroder with "I Was Made For Lovin You" recently relvived for a decidedly disturbing Costa advertisment.

Gene Simmons does actually make a great screen villain as Luther in 1984's Runaway with Tom Selleck , but don't think he followed that up to its full potential.

So I had great hopes for Kiss but was so disappointed with the final product. Black Sabbath and Soundgarden are far far better.

Saturday 18 May 2013

Here Comes The Summer

Well , maybe. It's pouring with rain at the moment but we've had a few glorious days this week. We know that it's scientifically proven to be more likely to rain at the weekend because the emission from transport builds up during the week resulting in precipitation at the weekend. May this is a good argument for working from home , less rain at the weekend.

Anyway , today is also the Eurovision Song Contest based in Malmo in Sweden , although 35 years on we're still waiting for another Abba. I did enjoy Lordi 's victory a couple of years back , that was rather good , and this year I heard Hungary's version which sounded good , but apparently Denmark are the favourites , so we'll just wait and see.

I do find it amazing that so many English Eurovision entries are based on a German Oompah Band song structure, Sandie Shaw's "Puppet on a String" for instance. Unfortunately the easter European block voting has sort of made a mockery of the contest , but that's what happens when you try to be democratic in a situation where the populace can only see what the have been told to see . A bit like X-Factor !

The best way to watch Eurovision (this only works if the artists sing in their native language) , is with subtitles turned on and copious amounts of alcohol.

So enjoy tonight.

Wednesday 15 May 2013


Do you need  visual verification when buying alcohol at an automated supermarket checkout when paying by card? Surely the card can be used to verify your age. Asda, Sainsburys Waitrose Tesco they're all the same. I could understand if you pay by cash but if you can do contactless then you can verify someone's right to buy an item.

Monday 6 May 2013

Living Without A Fridge

Coming back from holiday , apart from the bathroom leak , found that the fridge / freezer was not really working. Given that it's a ten year old Servis (and they went out of business in 2008)and  the last time I got it fixed by Repaircare it cost me £100 and you can buy a new one for £200 decided to go for a new one to be delivered on Friday.

It's interesting when the fridge is maintaining "room temperature" and 3/4 of of the freezer drawer seem to be cold enough to freeze water quickly so it is sort of odd to live with. Typical that it's come just as the good weather has hit but it's odd trying to keep things cool. It's either freeze or warm , so hardly ideal but it's a case of running down the freezer til the new one appreas on Friday. Oh and just to make it difficult our new device has to be less than 50cm wide , there aren't that many around.

Friday 3 May 2013

Shrewsbury In A Nutshell

Coming to the end of our week in Shrewsbury , well Hook-A-Gate and it has been most excellent. Lots of new discoveries meeting great people and finding things I didn't know were there , but thats the joy of going to different places.

I always look for the positives in things and got a phonecall from my neighbour , he'd discovered a leak in our second bathroom , luckily it stayed in bathroom but leaked through to the kitchen , so will see the full extent tomorrow. Just shows what  brilliant neighbours I have , so will have to make sure I get an extra special looking after the house present.

Anyway this week I have discovered , in no praticular order of brilliance:

  • A wonderful pub , with excellent staff , great food and excellent service, The New Inn at Hook-A-Gate.
  • A wonderful cottage to stay in , The Old Coach House, very comfortable , well equipped with really friendly owners
  • Excentric Tattoo Parlour run by Val and Dirk and two girls who may or may not be their daughters , but crammed with amazing stuff , and all as friendly as anything
  • Attingham Park a wonderful National Trust property with amazing grounds and a fantastic stately home , complete with deer and sharp horned cattle
  • Cromwell's in Shrewsbury , incredibly friendly , and they do excellent food but make you feel very welcome.
  • In The Groove - an excellent vinyl and memorabilia emporium with a really nice lady running in . I dont normally buy vinyl but came away with some very nice stuff. It's in The Parade Shopping Center in Shrewsbury which is full of interesting shops.
I'm sure I've missed out loads but it's time for bed now , and will maybe expand on some bits later.

Wednesday 1 May 2013

May Day

This time last year I embarked on my "Post A Day In May" just to see if I could do it. I ended up doing 37 posts which at that point doubled my blog posts for the year. I know that I can do it so I'm not going to try this year , although I will still be posting.

Still on holiday , and working yhrough The Wire (Series 1) and just finished Mad Men (Series 3) , and just found out that Seven Stories in Newcastle is hosting an Enid Blyton exhibitions. The weather this week is being excellent and am about to zip off to visit somewhere I can take photographs of.