Goodbye Windows Phone, Hello Blackberry Q10!

After sticking with a Nokia Lumia 620 Windows phone for 9 months, I gave up. I missed my old Blackberry 8520 I had. It was slow, but it worked. So I bought a BlackBerry Q10 and love it.

The things I didn’t like about the Windows phone were that it was very difficult to hold the phone itself without pressing either a number of function buttons on the side of the phone, (thereby tweeting a photo of your crotch to everyone on your facebook email address book) or failing that, some button on screen. There doesn’t seem to be any easy way to hold these new big screen touch phones, and I found that uncomfortable.

Used to the push Blackberry e-mail service where the phone beeps the very second an e-mail arrives, I was disappointed that the minimum e-mail poll time was 10 minutes! I mostly use the phone for checking e-mails, so this was a huge downside for me. However, after some testing, emails do come through almost immediately so it’s actually not that much different.

When I originally bought the Windows phone, you could not customise the ring tones to anything other than what was on the telephone. A recent software update allowed customisation of this. It was only when I tweeted the Windows phone support twitter account that they suggested I vote for it in some strange online forum where thousands of people had done the same. But it was also interesting to see a list of all the other features that other users of the phone found lacking. Upon reflection I cannot remember some of them, but at the time I was pretty shocked at the basic functionality that appear to be missing. Some people were saying is no way to turn off the way the screen shows a preview of the text message or Facebook post or e-mail as soon as it comes in — what if you were in a meeting and it was on the desk and you got a text from your partner that was rude, for example? Everyone may get the chance to see it!
The twitter app for the phone was also horrendously slow, crashed constantly and did not load photos. I also could rarely get the Internet to work when I was away from my WiFi signal at home. You couldn’t install apps on the SD card – they had to be installed on the small phone memory!

The Blackberry Q10 was released in January 2013, almost 10 months before the Nokia Lumia 620 that I bought in October 2013! But what a refreshing change when switching from Windows back to Blackberry. Speed — the phone is faster to do most things. It has more memory as standard. E-mails — the minimum polling time is 5 minutes, but e-mails appeared to arrive almost as soon as they are sent. It has a very high resolution touch screen.
Flash works on webpages! You can hold the phone without pressing buttons! And of course, how could I forget a full functioning QWERTY keyboard!

I love the Q10 and now regret purchasing the Windows phone that I have. I think I would certainly avoid purchasing any large touchscreen phone in the future.

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Pears Soap doesn’t last

I’m talking about the translucent orange bars of traditional Pears soap.
They put it in a heat sealed plastic bag inside the box, which keeps it soft and doesn’t let it harden like other soaps. Harder soaps last longer, naturally.
I got about 6 showers out of one bar.
A Wrights soap bar in contrast has lasted at least 12, which was just wrapped in paper and not packaged in a plastic bag!

Tip? If / when you buy Pears soap, take it out of the bag as soon as you get it home and allow it to harden.

As an aside, the physical size of the bar seems to be about half the size I remember it, but maybe I last used it when I was a child with smaller hands?!

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Sky TV memories early 1990s

One of my memories of Sky TV from 1991 when we first had it was that you had 48 analogue channels and could watch a number of German TV stations. They seemed to have Alf and Married with Children on all the time (dubbed in German). RTL, RTL2, Tele5, etc.
Going on YouTube and watching Married with Children 22 years on, I find it hilarious! I don’t know why it’s not on UK TV repeated somewhere. And considering how conservative the US is, I just watched an episode where the son of the family gets caught masturbating in the library. The whole episode is based around this! No UK sitcom would even do this.

A few years later, they ran adverts for the channel expander gizmo, a little box you plugged in to get more channels. It effectively doubled the 48 you had. By the way, all the channels were in no order, so there were a great number with just static, then a UK one, then 2 German ones, then another UK one, then a scrambled one where you could only hear the audio – nothing like digital TV today.

One of my favourite things to watch early-on was when Lifestyle channel (with a butterfly logo, fronted by David Hamilton) ran “Sell-a-vision” paid presentations in the evening. They were American, and one was for Auri 2000, a car polish product, another was for a Jack Lalane juicer, a vertical steam iron, and one for a thing that poked thread through jumpers that did patterns. They were all fronted by the same enthusiastic wacky-jumper wearing guy who I recently read has passed away but owned the entire company selling the products – he wasn’t just the presenter. It seemed quite exotic at the time when we only had 4 terrestrial channels to see this evening dedicated to selling one product.

Another thing I used to enjoy watching was the Astra promotional video from the company that ran satellite TV in Europe that Sky was on. It ran in a loop all day on a channel, presumably as a test. The content of the video was updated sometimes when they added more satellites to orbit. Fairly poor quality versions can be seen on YouTube in English and German (each channel in those days had several sub-carrier audio frequencies that meant you could hear foreign language translations of compatible programmes). I used to like the music they used on the video, and still remember it today. This video too seemed very exotic and European to watch, talking about Switzerland and thinking that anyone all over Europe could be watching this exact same video at the same time.

However, I despair at British TV today. It seems the more channels there are, the more the quality of programming is diluted. Just look at the money that was spent on Two Ronnies or Stanley Baxter Christmas specials back in the day. You just don’t see anything like that now. Hundreds of channels, all peddling patronising programming for dullard sweary youths.

I watch Kojak on ITV4 which is absolutely brilliantly written and acted. I’m a huge fan – not even born when it was first on.

I’ve watched all the Columbos, all the Diagnosis Murders, Dog the Bounty Hunters (currently on Dog & Beth On the Hunt), Bondi Rescue, and watching the original Hawaii Five-0. Watching any new episodes of Cops that are on, too.

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Pulling plug on laptop causes problems

In my vain attempt to save money on electricity useage, I started unplugging plugs from the 12 mains sockets in my bedroom. Alas, one of them was my laptop power supply, and I don’t keep the battery in the laptop in case it wears out or overheats or anything, so CLICK – off it went. Since restarting, it’s never been the same. I’m not sure if literally ‘pulling the plug’ has caused a hardware issue with memory or something, but it started to just ‘hang’ with the mouse pointer not moving usually when I was doing some memory intensive task.

Since I re-formatted it an re-installed Windows 7, it’s never been able to install Windows 7 Service Pack 1. It tries to, downloads it and everything, but ultimately just says it can’t. It’s a Toshiba Satellite Pro.

I used to spend evenings on the PC in my upstairs office, but since getting a laptop, it just lies on the bed next to me. I couldn’t live without it now. Watching and listening and reading so many entertaining things to get to sleep on a night. Then waking up with an idea to search for in the morning. It’s great. I have it rigged up to my 32″ LG TV on the wall at the end of my bed (very noisy – buzzing sound – I’d never buy another LG TV) and a Bose Video Room-mate speaker system (retro one from the 90s, which is superb).

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M&S Valet by Conran

I’ve just ordered a Marks & Spencer (Conran) valet for my bedside. I’m currently using a camera tripod to hang clothes on. They were about £400 I seem to remember, but were made of walnut wood. Now made of oak, they are on sale for about £270. I was hesitant to buy one previously because the photos on the M&S website seemed to show the unit having lovely soft edges in some photos, but looking very unfinished and hard-cornered in others.

We’ll soon see.

FOLLOW UP:
Received it today. 2 men came and built it for me, which seemed a bit OTT as it just needed the marble bowl and table bit screwing on. Anyway, the ‘instructions’ say the wood is AMERICAN WALNUT. I do wish they’d make their minds up what the wood actually is. I think it might be blonde oak in actual fact. It looks very nice (although for the price there’s not a massive amount to it – I’ve just ordered a hall console from Oak Furniture Land for £200 and it must use 50 times more wood than this thing). I think I’d prefer more horizontal bars to put clothes on rather than a table and a bowl, as I have bedside tables to put things like my phone on, I don’t wear cufflinks, but always seem to have a huge number of pairs of trousers or jumpers in a heap that could benefit from being draped over this valet.

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60Mb Broadband Upgrade

I called Virgin Media because they had an offer where you paid £120 up front for a year’s telephone line rental. I have 2 lines, so paid £240. Then the other day when I got a bill I noticed that they’d been charging me £14.99 a month for one of the lines, despite me having paid up-front for it! I don’t get angry at the call centre person, because it’s not their fault, but they refunded me the £120 saying you can only have the offer on one line. Grrr.

At the same time I enquired about upgrading broadband. My 3rd (different) cable modem had died in the last 5 years and been replaced by one of their ‘super hubs’. I was on 20Mb, but the engineer put me on 30Mb free of charge after fixing the problem (something to do with an engineer erroneously putting an attenuator on the signal in the box). Anyway, the Indian call centre person said I could have 60Mb broadband for just 95p extra a month for the first 6 months, then £3.45 a month after that. I said yes, and she came back and said I could have it for free and they’d knock something like £2 off my monthly bill anyway. (my monthly bill is never less than £75, may I add!). So that was good.
I think I’ve slightly noticed the difference with YouTube videos in 1080 HD. Speedtest.net says it’s only 47Mb, but I’ve often thought the speed limit is how fast the website server you are requesting data from can keep up with your connection.

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2013 – my personal year in review

This year I:
Watched episodes of Married with Children on YouTube
Watched 1992 WWF videos for a bit
Enjoyed reading old copies of Amiga Format and PC Pro Magazine
Recommend a duck down duvet
Discovered the Seeburg 1000 online background music station at www.seeburg1000.com
Watched lots of Disney Soundsational parade videos on YouTube
Watched Efteling Holland theme park ride videos
No longer have any DAB digital radios – just CAT5 internet radio for me now
Watched almost every episode of Kojak on ITV4 and became a great fan of Telly Savalas in the process
Watched American DJ aircheck videos on YouTube
Discovered Brother Theodore
Enjoyed driving a new Volvo XC60

Hmmm….I actually don’t know what I’d do without YouTube for entertainment come to think of it!

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Stop sending large graphic signatures on your emails!

All these green campaigners recycling paper and saying ‘don’t print e-mails’, but there are so many people who have humongous e-mail signatures containing large jpg or gif graphics of their company name, promotional banner adverts or slogans which fill up hard drives which require greater storage capacity and the purchase of more storage which needs to be made in China at great pollutant cost. Why is it still acceptable to have such huge e-mail signature graphics?

I get e-mails from companies where their signature graphics are 200 kilobytes. If they e-mail me several times a day, which they do, this starts filling up my hard drive and server space and means I need to purchase more hardware to accommodate this as I cannot delete the e-mails because it is against European law to do so if running a business. One photographer’s signature was almost a 1Mb each time, and doubly compounded with every reply.

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Very valid comments about the BBC

The BBC licence is a liberal tax on society pumping out liberal propaganda. We have the choice to choose our own indoctrination without being forced to pay for BBC indoctrination. The Licence is an anathema which is no different to the state owned news in old Libya, Cuba and the old Soviet Union and North Korea. Its unaccountable and undemocratic.

Isn’t it about time we just stopped the BBC and let people choose which media outlet they wish to pay for? The BBC has become a blatantly Leftist and metropolitan institution far removed from the normal British person. It lies, censors, is arrogant in its promotion of Left-wing views and has failed to get on the side of British people in key moments of national interest. It simply has to go!

How dare this bunch of liberal socialists try and hide evidence from the Public, they only exist through enforced public subscription, who the hell do they think they are?

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Valid comments on the tall buildings built in the Middle East

More countless Arab billions squandered on gaudy bling. Can these people not invest in something worthwhile? Medicine, new energy sources, environment, technology that benefits people? Who on earth are they trying to impress with these pointless buildings in the desert?

When the oil finally runs out and the whole of the middle east becomes a burned up strip of worthless hot sand, this will be a fine monument to vanity and misused resources. Make the most of it lads, you can’t eat or drink sand.

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My relationship with Bose speakers

I have a total of 23 Bose speakers in my house.

I became somewhat fascinated by the Bose name after a visit to the (then) Tussaud’s Group owned Alton Towers, a large theme park in the UK. Any outdoor speaker there was a Bose 151. All along Towers Street, almost every 10 feet on the soffits of buildings these Bose 151s with their kevlar cones and 5 year guarantee pumped out the theme music. In the farm section, a larger Bose column speaker was hidden in a vehicle pumping out farmyard-y music. Bose 101s were in the petting zoo barn. Bose 802s were scattered among the queue line at the (then) newly opened Nemesis ride.

Yes, there were still Paramount Omnispeakers (the in-ground type with 360 degree sound dispersion) dotted around. Another new ride, Toyland Tours (now no more) used literally hundreds of Bose 151s along the water’s edge as your boat cruised through a toy factory. Even in the Haunted House (before it became the vulgar ‘Duel’ laser shooting game) there were the smallest Bose freespace speakers positioned near animatronics (only visible upon examining flash photos taken at the time).

The “Peter Rabbit and Friends On Ice” show in the big top had Bose Panaray 502As suspended in the air. I now have a pair of these curvy beauties either side of my TV in the lounge! They were priced at £1,230 per pair at the time back in 1994, but I managed to get a nearly new pair on eBay in about 2004 for about £150. They are still being made today. As an aside, I recently saw that they are the speakers that multi-millionaire composer Andrew Lloyd Weber has in his lounge too.

I must say I’ve never bought new Bose speakers. The only new Bose product I have bought is the bluetooth headset for my blackberry, which is very good (but wasn’t at all cheap).

Starting outside, I have 2 x Bose Panaray 502As on the patio. They’ve been there for 6 years now. BUT I only recently discovered that they aren’t actually weatherproof. So one of them no longer works. I have a pair of Bose 151 (the original ‘cube’ shaped type) pointing into the patio from the garden wall. I also have a Paramount Omnispeaker nearby, but this isn’t yet wired in. On the front porch is a single Bose 151. There is also a Paramount Omnispeaker near the front wall next to the gate. I can speak into a microphone in my office through both of these speakers.

In the kitchen we have a Bose 101 in white with a cloth fabric grille on top of the fridge that pumps out the radio from a Cambridge A1 amplifier. In the dining room, a Bose Wave Radio that I was given by a family friend who didn’t think it kept the correct time (it did) pumps out wifi radio (notably KABL and BBC Radio 4 Extra).

In the lounge, as mentioned, are 2 x Panaray 502As either side of the TV on the wall. A 600W subwoofer fills in the bass. A Bose Video RoomMate pair in white are either side of the sitter on a sofa (in case I fall asleep!). The Video RoomMates have a built-in amplifier.

A pair of black Bose 101s compliments a pair of JVC speakers in my upstairs office. In my bedroom I have a black pair of Bose Video RoomMates plugged into my laptop at the side of the bed. I also have my prized and rare Bose 171s which aren’t plugged in. These look great and are magnetically shielded. I was going to use these in the dining room, but they’re just so nice and brand new.

In the garage I have another pair of black Bose 101s, a single spare 101, and a spare pair of 151s. I had previously owned a few pairs of 32SEs, but because these were 100v line systems and I didn’t have an appropriate amplifier, they always sounded very quiet so I sold them on eBay. I think I actually made a profit on what I paid for them.

I once read that Bose are a non-profit making company, in that the put all the profits they make back into research and development of new products. I’m not sure if this is entirely true, or if everyone who works there is just on one hell of a salary.

All the speakers seem to use the same speaker cone, and multiples of it – a full range driver, so no separate tweeter or woofer. If all their money goes into R&D and they’ve been using this same full range driver for the last 30 years, then they must surely be just designing cabinets for them? Even the ‘omnispeaker’ style garden speakers just have the Bose 151 kevlar cone driver in it. They say full range drivers “are more reliable than conventional speakers whose small, separate tweeters often cannot handle the high power and extended use demands of professional applications.”

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No more trainers

When this blog was located at vo.kost.co.uk (goes back to 2004 – check it out kids!) it used to garner much interest when I talked about trainers (UK) or sneakers (USA). Ultimately, I don’t buy any more shoes these days. I bought too many really. The last ones I bought were some Adidas TOMS style things which had a rainbow pattern and looked very 1980s (which is why I bought them). However, they didn’t fit – either UK size 9 or 10 (I’m normally an 11). They were either too big or too small. So they got sent back to the ever-forgiving Schuh. 3404549970m6_main

I often wonder why TOMS are so relatively expensive for what they actually are. They look rather cheap to me, made of no special material or anything. Like the sort of things you’d get in Lidl or Aldi, or a seaside shop. And they want £40 for them?

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Music at your own funeral

What music would you want to be played at your funeral?
Maybe a sad song to start with, then a fun or silly one to make everyone laugh (assuming anyone’s there, of course!). It’d be cool to have a custom-sung jingle played, I think. Not cheap though, but I’d probably forgo a posh coffin for it. I’d also want it to be played through a really good PA system, not the church one. Bose speakers, subwoofers, the lot. And why not have a heavenly dry-ice fog effect on the floor throughout the service?!

The music from the BBC TV series “A History of Britain” has a great deal of very moving melancholy songs from hundreds of years ago. Three Ravens is the one that just makes me cry whenever I hear it, and is the only song that makes me do this.

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Xmas break is over, work tomorrow

I really enjoyed the Xmas and New Year break – 11 days off (we have in the UK – everyone else seems not to). I checked emails and had a replying session only once so as not to make customers think I was ignoring them. I didn’t put the auto-responder on, because I get so much spam. I’m rather dreading going back tomorrow, as it’s been so nice. There was even a discussion of moving my office into the lounge, then I thought maybe a good tablet would work ok, but then thought everything is so nicely set up in my office it would be a shame to move it all. Then we discussed moving the 2 sofas into a slight ‘V’ formation around the wall-mounted TV, but that was poo-pooed. It would create wasted space at the back of the sofas. I will still work on it though, as it seems a more social way to arrange them. (at the moment they are both flat against the wall opposite the TV).

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Weak wi-fi signal to Android Tablet from Netgear Router

I bought an android tablet about a year ago. Not very good, I thought at the time. This Christmas holiday, I started installing free games on it, and it’s actually good fun to use. I don’t like how some apps or games automatically run in the background of their own accord, without being loaded, seemingly at random. That’s when the kill active apps program works well. But you shouldn’t have to use it really.
All the computers in my home are connected via CAT5E cables. No wi-fi. However, when we got Blackberries I switched wi-fi on so that we could get emails quicker and it wouldn’t drain the battery as fast.
The tablet needs wi-fi, of course. However, even though the router is only in the next room, and on a channel that isn’t used by 61ZsIjoQPCL._AA1500_anyone else, it’s just not good enough to beam through the door to the tablet in the lounge. So I’ve ordered a TP-Link TL-WA901ND Radio Access Point/ Range Extender to blast the signal all over the place, and hopefully get better data speed on the tablet. When it’s on 2 or 3 bars, it’s 10-50k a second. When it’s on 5 bars (and when I’m in the same room as the wi-fi router) it’s about 1 – 2Mb a second – a huge difference.
Anyway, that’s what’ll happen. Hope it works out ok.

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Financial income of once-famous people

moneyWhere do famous people, who maybe don’t work much anymore, get income?
We now know that Patrick Moore was generous to a fault, spending all his income on parties and putting people through university, etc. But think of someone who was on TV in the 80s or early 90s and just ask where the money for them to pay bills, buy food, council tax, etc is coming from.

Personal appearances?
Royalties? Residual payments?
Money from shares or rental from property wisely purchased when the ‘going was good’?
….

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MR16 halogen downlighters – the secret for long bulb life

In my home, I have a total of 103 x MR16 halogen downlighters. They’re all 20 watt bulbs – for the extra power, 50 watts doesn’t seem to actually be 150% brighter, and so 20 watts is adequate. In 5 years, only 4 bulbs have needed replacing. The secret? For every 2 x 20 watt bulbs, I have 1 x 60va transformer. Simple. Each transformer is under-loaded and it works like a dream.

When LED bulbs become much cheaper, we’ll probably switch to those, but currently it would be a very expensive investment! (and would require all the transformers to be replaced!).

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Streamline Card Processing – update

More incompetency to report at Streamline!

In October I signed up via their website to say I don’t want Streamline to fleece me for £1.80 each time they send me 2 pieces of paper (my invoice). The next month I got charged for it on my bill. I called them up. They had no record of receiving my submission, and they’re not even doing online invoicing yet. SO WHY INTRODUCE THE PAPER CHARGE BEFORE YOU EVEN OFFER AN ALTERNATIVE???

I signed up again whilst I was on the phone. In December I get an invoice posted to me, again showing a £1.80 charge for a paper invoice. In mid-December I get an email asking to confirm that I want to opt-out of being fleeced. YES, YES, FOR GOD’S SAKE YES! This company is driving me insane!

And as a footnote, their excellent security pointer in their email is surely unsurpassed in this modern age, “Please note, all emails from us will have an email address @streamline.com.” Phew! I’m so glad that isn’t possible to falsify! By anyone, anywhere.

I think I may send some emails to them from @streamline.com just to confuse the hell out of their innocent little minds.

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Patrick Moore

Patrick Moore passed away today, aged 89. He’d presented the same TV programme for over 55 years – the longest running presenter of any programme in the world. He didn’t have a contract with the BBC and didn’t get paid – just a gentleman’s agreement. I almost bought a cuckoo clock after seeing his (an early birthday present) on a nice short documentary about him on YouTube (below). And got my hall parquet floored after seeing his. Yes, I know they’re two strange things.

I must say I welled up watching the breaking news on the TV. Later in the day I shed a tear.

Here is a very good video about him:

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Fun looking back on computer magazines

I am enjoying reading old issues of Amiga Format magazine before I go to bed. They’re from about 1990 to 1994 (when the Amiga 600 came out and it started to feel less relevant to me). It all seemed so innocent back then. Games used to fit on 600k floppy disks. Hard drives were optional and cost £300 for just 30Mb of storage. Printers were 9 or 24 pin dot matrix, or black and white inkjet if you had £500 spare. It was like you were on the cusp of computing really becoming a big thing. I have about 30 copies of Amiga Format, along with my working Amiga 500 and hundreds of game disks to reminisce with complete immersion (even if it’s on a flat-screen instead of CRT TV).

There was another personal revolution in about 1996 when PCs started to come down in price and seem much more accessible when ESCOM shops started opening up in high streets around the UK. Processor speed and memory spec seemed to double every 9 months and not increase in price. Now, it all seems to have plateaued somewhat in that department. I remember bringing an ESCOM flyer in and giving it to my computing teacher to show how cheap PCs had become. Within a month our school’s computing room had done away with the old Archimedes computers and replaced them with new ESCOM PCs. I should have been on commission! My first PC was an ESCOM Pentium 75MHz with 8Mb of Ram, an 890Mb HD, SoundBlaster sound card, quad speed CD ROM drive and a 14″ CRT monitor. Windows 3.11 was the operating system, and an HP Deskjet 660C colour inkjet printer finished it off. It ended up costing about £2,500.00 in total. Later we got speakers, a hand-held scanner (which looked like a fat mouse that you pulled over what you wanted to scan), then an HP flat bed scanner.

I only seem to have 1 PC magazine – a copy of PC Plus (about an inch thick) from 1992.

Only later did we get a dial-up modem to connect to the internet. I had signed up for a Hotmail email account at school using their ISDN connection on one of only 2 computers connected. This was in about 1996 or 1997 I believe. It was the original design of Hotmail before Microsoft bought them out. You could get about 5k data download per second on a good day. I signed up for a Geocities web hosting account and learned manual coding HTML. A .com domain name cost about £200 back then, so consideration was given to that for my parents’ business. I hand-coded a website with online ordering (back in 1998) somewhat before the online shopping revolution had really caught on. I think we were all surprised when any orders actually came through!

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West-end Musicals I have seen

Starlight Express (original version) 1990
Phantom of the Opera (Peter Polycarpou Phantom)
Chess (touring version, at Newcastle City Hall) 1991
Phantom of the Opera (again – yes, it is that good!)
Miss Saigon (Drury Lane)
Beauty and the Beast (Dominion)
Grease (Dominion)
Les Miserables (Palace)
Witches of Eastwick (with Ian McShane) (Drury Lane)
Acorn Antiques

I have not seen a musical since about 2003.

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Anniversary

It’s been over a year since I started this blog. My original blog, at vo.kost.co.uk is continuing to achieve a far greater number of visitors, but it has many hundreds more posts (probably about more interesting things, and better written!). All this one seems to attract is comment spammers. Not that many hits, and no-one clicking on the ads. But I will not surrender! I have also worked out how to put photos on posts, so will be retrospectively adding those. Stick with it, chuck!

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X Factor 2012 Winner Prediction

I predict the miserable potato one from Middlesbrough will win X Factor this year.

I don’t like him or his music, but judging by the YouTube view counts, his videos are getting twice the number of views that other contestants are getting. I think Ella Henderson will be 2nd.

UPDATE: I was right about the winner, over a month and 2 weeks ago. Not a fan though, and there’s only one series left in the contract for ITV. Format is tired now. How many trawls of the country can there be before you run out of even mildly talented singers?

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The difference between being rich and being wealthy

A little obvious to start with, but stick with it, because some truly excellent points are made by Paul Daniels at 4:09 and 5:28  and 5:57 regarding becoming rich, the difference between being rich and being wealthy and how money attracts money (in a way).

I also thought it was nice of him to do a video like this – like an old man passing on wisdom.

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My ideal home

I’ve been wondering what type of building/setting would be my ideal home…

Would it be a house in the country?
A cottage in a village?
A house somewhere remote in Scotland away from people?
Or a big old haunted looking house like in films?
On an island perhaps?
Or maybe just an apartment on the top floor with no noisy neighbours and good sound proofing!

I think a good view is important. I just bought a house where on the 2nd floor there were velux windows and you could see a sweeping vista of the surrounding area. I haven’t lived in a house like that for about 7 years (where I loved the boarded-out loft, with its 2 velux windows and stored items from the 80s – it was like going back in time to being a child, and I would regularly fall asleep on the wooden floor!).

So far in my life I’ve lived in a 3 bed semi (for 26 years), a hotel (1 year), student flat share (1 year), bedsit (2 years), a 3 bed detached (2 years) and now a 4 bed detached (5 years so far).

The hotel was full of students (as was I) and was rather noisy because of that, as they all used to sit on the stairs and landings talking for hours, but I can see how living in a quiet or modern hotel with good soundproofing (very important!) would work. The student flat share was the first and second floor above a travel agent on a busy junction, but there were no neighbours. The bedsit was on the first floor, just 1 room essentially in a 10 bedroom house. It was fairly new when I moved in, as I was only the 2nd tenant. It was near the top of a steep road, and so had a nice view over the rooftops and out to sea. Poor soundproofing though – just normal cheap domestic hollow doors to each flat, slamming, downstairs having loud sex, etc. Looking back, I seem to have become more sensitive to noise since those days. I could be described as ‘hyper-sensitive’ which is quite a burden really. It all started when the elderly lady who lived next door moved out  and it became a rented property. The first tenants were drug dealers and had all night parties with music on full blast from late at night until the next morning. This coincided with my first full time job that made me need a good night’s sleep more than ever, so I started cataloging noises with the thought of complaining to the council noise people. Eventually, the man went to prison and the woman’s dog was taken away because she wasn’t looking after it properly. Students moved in who were much quieter I seem to remember, then a woman and son. I moved out shortly after this.

I like the thought of a large split-level lounge with large floor to ceiling windows around, as long as it was high enough up in a green area or had mirrored glass so no-ones sitting there watching you! Jimmy Savile’s flat looks great, but needs a lot of modernisation, is in Leeds and has the (now) infamy of Jimmy Savile having lived there. I wonder who will buy it? It’s on the market for £325,000.

When it’s really windy or rainy, where I live at the moment there’s always a concern about water coming in through the garage door, last time it rained it started coming in through the tiles in the garage roof, gutters overflow, etc. All quite concerning. In an apartment this wouldn’t be an issue.

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Streamline card processing

I’ve been a Streamline customer for almost 10 years.

I really HATE being a Streamline customer.

Every year they’re creeping extra charges onto the bill – loyalty (and vastly increased volumes put through the terminal since the early days) account for absolutely NOTHING with Streamline. If anything, you feel penalised for it.

Last year they started adding a premium charges, which essentially are an extra 1% if the credit card is from outside the UK. And if it’s a debit card from outside the UK, instead of a fixed rate of 47p, it’s 2% charge, just like a credit card! Their reason? “Because there’s extra risk”. Yes, but if there’s a charge-back, you just take all the money off me, so they’re not at risk at all!

There is absolutely no joy whatsoever in being a Streamline customer.
No wonder PayPal are making such in-roads with online payment processing. I don’t feel quite so much like I’m being fleeced in my sleep with them, as I know exactly what the fees / rates are. I hate to see how much money anyone takes from me after all the hard work I do to market and sell things, when they just seem to do nothing but collect the money. Bring back cash!

Don’t even get me started on the £20 charge to fill out the PCI compliance web form which took 3 minutes and was multiple choice – you even had to print the certificate off yourself. Now, how on earth is the £20 cost justified in that?!?!?

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Rules of board games baffle me

In the last couple of weeks I’ve bought Scrabble, Yahtzee and Rummikub.

Aside from Scrabble, I’m finding it impossible to figure out the rules of Yahtzee and Rummikub – it’s like the person who wrote the rule card forgot the most important parts of the game that people would, upon playing for the first time, have questions about.

ie in Yahtzee, do you fill the upper section AND the lower section at the same time? How do you know which combination is best to pick? (I only recently learned you have to fill in all 14 boxes on the score sheet).

In Rummikub do you take new tiles from the pool after each go? So you always have 14 until there are none left in the pool? Or do you only have the 14 you pick at the start and when they’re all gone that’s it, you’ve won? What happens if you can’t see any opportunity to put a tile down in a run or set? Is that it? The game just ends so soon? There aren’t going to be many runs or sets when there’s only 2 of you playing with 28 tiles in total. Why are there so many tiles if not?

I don’t remember board games (or rather the instructions) being so complicated to understand when I was younger. I had “Frankenstein”, “I Vant to Bite Your Finger”, Jaws, and I always wanted Mouse Trap because my friend had it and I lover the chain reaction at the end, but never got it. Another friend had the “Game of Life” which seemed boring at the time (I was about 8) but now would be a bit more interesting (speaking as a recluse!).

One thing is for certain though – board games are a bloody racket. £13.99 for some plastic tiles and plastic racks? The box probably cost more to make than its contents. And these very brief rules printed in grey and white on bible paper (ie very thin). It’s a swizz.

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Mont Blanc pens

If you want cheap Mont Blanc pens, I certainly WOULD NOT use these guys.

They spam this blog with so much comment crap that I have to sift through.

NOT a good way to market your company, I wouldn’t say.

So a big THUMBS DOWN for these arse holes:

montblancfountainpensuk.eu

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Laptop in bed

Since I got a laptop, I no longer spend hours in front of the office desktop PC trying to get tired for bed.

Initially, I watched Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K), episodes of Never the Twain and interviews with Frankie Howerd and Kenneth Williams on YouTube. Then wrestling, realising that I’d only been a WWF fan for 1 year in 1992. Then I realised there were a number of full length films on there. Married With Children has been the recent craze! I remember it being on Sky One all the time when we got analogue Sky TV back in the early 90s.

Do people online shop in their sleep? The first you’d know about it would be confirmation emails in the morning, or if you go to work it may all be too late and the stuff’s been dispatched.

My Toshiba laptop is 1 year and 2 weeks old, and suddenly the track pad is right clicking on everything without me pressing the right click button, then Windows Live Mail won’t run because it says it wasn’t installed properly or is out of memory, desktop gadgets don’t load, Windows Update doesn’t run, lots of things just stopped working. Even system restore, which was my first thought – it said there was an error on trying first time, then there’s no option to even try it again now. So looks like I’ll be re-imaging it with the recovery DVDs they make you burn when you first switch it on.

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Dell 1320C Colour Laser Printer

Here is the other printer I will be throwing out:

The Dell 1320C Colour Laser Printer

This is a fantastic printer, and has served me well for around 2 years. I’ve even written evangelical product reviews about it on websites. But now the black is printing as light grey and despite changing the toner cartridge, makes no difference. All forums point to the PHD unit being on the way out, but as these cost more than a new printer, you’d just throw the whole thing away, don’t you? No point bothering, unless you’re a eco-warrior. What a waste. It’s been squeaking and whistling for a while now anyway – had no idea where to oil it so couldn’t do anything about it. Problem is that I have 5 spare toners for each of the 4 colours left! I got my mum the exact same printer upstairs, so she’ll be able to use them I hope.

So, it’s back to the HP2600N which worked fine and gave me a worrying message saying the toner was running out about 2 years ago (hence me buying the Dell). Upon later investigation, there was 38% capacity left in each toner cartridge, so needn’t have even bothered. Silly printers. Bane of my bloody life sometimes, they are, ain’t no mistake.

****UPDATE TO POST 3 MONTHS ON ****

The Dell 1320C has stopped sqeaking of its own accord (perhaps it reads this blog down the CAT5 network cable?!), a new black toner appears to have fixed the problem (you have to let it do a number of prints before any difference is visible). On large black solid areas it’s still not deep black, but it’s hardly noticeable now. So all is forgiven and I’m able to get through the rest of the toners I have in stock. Hurrah!

****UPDATE TO POST 1 YEAR ON ****

It doesn’t squeak. The black is black. But red is light orange! Gah! Have replaced all toners, hoovered out the front and inside the rollers etc as suggested on a number of websites where other owners are having similar issues, but to no avail. Replacing the expensive PHD unit appears to be the suggested fix by Dell but doesn’t seem to work in most cases. So I have bought another printer to replace it. More on that in a future post.

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Kodak ESP 3250 Printer – RUBBISH!

This week I will be throwing out 2 printers. Here’s the gen on the first one:

The Kodak ESP 3250 

We bought this from Staples as a photocopier. We brought it home and it refused to set-up correctly, always saying “Error: Paper Jam, remove rear access cover, Clear all paper, attach cover, press OK to continue”. We took it back to Staples who swapped it for another one. This one worked ok, but I noticed that even though we’d never printed anything in colour, and had switched off colour printing altogether, the colour ink cartridge status level slowly went down. It must be a year or two since I used it, and now both levels are down to half, despite having only made about 10 black & white copies on the thing. I’m trying to print something via the computer now, and this new one is giving me the paper jam error message again. I simply can’t be arsed – these things use ink when you’re not even printing, and go wrong too often. I will never buy Kodak printers again. Totally shit.

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Oh dear, neglecting it – aren’t I?

Well, how are we all? The problem with Facebook, twitter and the usual blogs is that your message is now diluted across all these platforms. In the days when I just used to have a blog (remove the ’2′ from the subdomain URL and you’ll be able to read it!), everything went on it. Now tweets of frustration I publish on twitter because it seems not worth making a new post on this blog.

Things that have recently galled me include:

People who have big dogs that they either let off the lead, or weigh much less than. They have no control over them and are a menace. I heard that in some gated communities either in America or Paris, there is a rule about having dogs below a certain weight and size. This should apply for everything.

People who spit in the street — why don’t you spit in the road if you have to do — don’t do it on the pavement when everybody has to walk in it. Idiots.

This is why I never go out, see?

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Crow T Robot biography excerpt

Crow’s accomplishments include writing several screenplays, including Earth vs. Soup (his seminal work), The Spy Who Hugged Me, and Chocolate Jones and the Temple of Funk, as well as a satirical political musical called Supercalifragilisticexpiali-wacky!

Crow underwent a complex personal evolution wherein painful confusion has given way to what he likes to think of as some degree of wisdom culminating in his current Zarasthustrian sense of self. Often panics when making sandwiches.

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Haggling doesn’t work

I have this customer who rings up and always haggles over the price of everything, and shops around and spends hours price matching, and I work out that competitors are making £20 profit on a £600 sale. Anyway, more fool him because I have him set up on our phone system to show up as “haggling time waster”. Haggling may get you a slightly cheaper price, but it simply gets everyone’s back up and I would never go the extra mile with this customer as I would for customers who are prepared to pay the normal price and not waste so much time haggling. Essentially, you get a bad reputation with the company you deal with and they dislike you. This isn’t just me, but all the suppliers I deal with on a daily basis as well.

So let that be a lesson to you all, especially after you’ve watched the ‘buying/sourcing’ episode of The Apprentice.

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Thoughts for today

Oh dear, I’m not keeping this up very well am I?

Thoughts for today:

I am patriotic, so why would I want people who don’t live in the UK to be making major decisions that affect our lives doing so? (ie the beurocrats in the EU). I’m all for a Guy Fawkes for the EU parliament building! Huge waste of money. Accounts never signed off – ever. Billions. Stupid. Arse holes.

Back in the 80s, in the UK at least, you never saw anyone with Christmas lights outside their house, did you? It all seems to have started happening in the 2000s. Wonder why? Was waterproof light technology not up to it back then? Or was electricity more expensive? Of course you saw it in all the American Christmas films like the National Lampoons one with Chevy Chase. Maybe that was the influence.

I predict colour changing LED Christmas lights to start becoming more popular. I saw some on a tree outside a house nearby and they are excellent. Hard to find anywhere that sells them at the moment though.

Makro is the best place to buy eggs. 20 eggs for £1.99. You’d pay that for 6 in Tesco. This is even after Jamie Oliver has interfered with it all making sure that poor people eat fewer eggs because they can’t afford them because they’ve been made too expensive. That man is such a moron – I dislike him intensely.

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EU Fishing Quotas – Ludicrous

All you leftie liberal EU fans who are always donating to the ‘starving’ in Africa, just think of all the British fisherman who have to throw away TONNES of fish they’ve caught so that they don’t go over the European quotas. WHAT A WASTE OF FOOD. Pro-Euro arse holes should be bloody ashamed of yourselves.

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London Property / Rental Cost

I’ve just looked through the Homes & Property section of the Evening Standard. Two things are interesting – most show the living room and not the outside of the property, and the cost.

Wow! London must be a pretty bloody amazing place to live to pay that much per week for a one bedroom flat!

I lived there in a hall of residence off Tottenham Court Road for about 4 weeks back in July 2000. It was great fun. There was a Concorde and Red Arrows fly-over Buckingham Palace when I was sitting near the window reading a book once. It really did feel like the centre of the universe living there.

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Beige computers and peripherals

It wasn’t all that long ago that all PC towers, desktops, monitors, printers and peripherals like scanners and speakers were all a utility beige colour. Matt beige was the only option available. Perhaps a bit boring, but what a practical colour for surfaces that attract dust! Then, about 6 years ago that things started being made in black or silver to make it look more futuristic (presumably) and different from the other beige products that, in contast, looked dated. Beige is now hard to find. But for shame! Now nothing matches. I have a black monitor, a silver scanner, a black and grey printer, a beige mouse - it’s silly. I don’t want to be cornered into the technical spec or price of a product just because its colour has to match the rest that I have. I’m pretty much always ahead of trends, so I reckon beige is due a comeback!

Here’s what Wikipedia says about ‘beige boxes’!:

In consumer computer products, a beige box is a standard personal computer (PC). It has come to be used as a term of derision implying conservative or dated aesthetics and unremarkable specifications.

The term is ultimately derived from the style of many early consumer computers (e.g. Atari 800, Apple II), which were usually beige or similar colours. These colours were presumably chosen to allow the machines to blend inconspicuously into a variety of settings, especially similarly coloured offices. The early Macintosh models were a beige color (specifically Pantone 453). Although Apple switched to a desaturated grey they called “Platinum” in 1987, users began to refer to them as “beige” following the introduction of the brightly colored iMac. It then became a standard term to identify any previous OldWorld Macintosh, such as the “Beige G3.”

IBM’s early desktop computers (e.g. IBM Personal Computer, IBM PC/AT) were not only beige, but were distinctly box-shaped, and most manufacturers of clones followed suit. As IBM and its imitators came to dominate the industry, these features became standards of desktop computer design. Some industrial design critics derided them as indistinguishable “beige boxes.”

The term is also sometimes used to distinguish generic PCs from name-brand models such as Compaq, Dell, or HP. In the early years of these companies, most of their units were beige as well. More recently, as name-brand manufacturers have moved away from beige (typically switching to black, dark gray, and silver-colored cases), inexpensive generic cases (which have changed less dramatically) have become more distinct as “beige boxes”. Today the term “white box” has largely replaced this usage.

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Thermal printers

When you just want to print off little notes or things, I always hate to print to the (fantastic) Dell Colour Laser 1320CN printer because you’re ‘wasting’ a sheet of paper for something so small in the corner, and it’s having to heat-up and cool down. I’m not bothered about the energy consumption (which goes over 1.2kW at its peak) but just the wear-and-tear on the parts the get hot and cold. So, my theory was to buy a thermal receipt printer (just like you get in shops and supermarkets when they print out the receipt) which doesn’t need to heat-up in the traditional sense, or indeed use a full sheet of paper just to print a couple of lines of text. So I uhmmed and ahhed for a while, then ordered an Epson TM-T20 thermal receipt printer from ERS (£142 ish). There were some on eBay for £50, used but with a serial cable connector and my PC doesn’t have one of those anymore.

I received it yesterday. It was easy to install and I was surprised at the number of customisable features it has. I’m not using it in a particularly traditional sense for what it was designed for. I’m not doing hundreds of receipts every day using a till. I’m printing bits and bobs off a few times a day. Is it ‘green’? Well, I suppose it is because you’re saving paper and energy and toner cartridges. Thermal printers simply heat the paper to make it go black, so you don’t need toner – just the thermal paper. I’m not an eco warrior at all, and the initial investment cost won’t really be recouped until you’ve printed out TONS on it. I bought a box of 20 x 80mm wide thermal paper rolls which I think will last me into retirement. But they are only £1 each and are many tens of metres long. The printer cuts the paper after printing, and you can store a number of logos or graphics in the printer itself which are automatically printed at the beginning or end of the job.

You don’t realise how good these printers are until you have one. They open up a world of possibilities. Small businesses could use them to print receipts quickly (they do print out the job very quickly by the way). They could also be used to send jobs or packing lists downstairs to their factory or packing area. You can set the printer to make a loud beeping noise once it has finished printing, alerting them to a task that needs fulfilling. This would be great for restaurants or hotels too for food orders. A wi-fi and ethernet version is also available, so it could be placed further away from the ‘sending’ computer. But, perhaps if the paper was 2 or 3 times the width, they would be great for domestic use – shopping lists, emails, order confirmations from amazon, etc. Maybe not letters or CVs or photos or school projects, but virtually everything else.

I’ve often wondered why normal A4 paper isn’t 40gsm as a standard with instead of 80gsm – it fulfills the exact same purpose, but uses half the amount of trees to make (and presumably would therefore be cheaper to buy?). Then I’ve wondered why A5 isn’t a commonly used alternative paper size — let’s be honest, the majority of non-work print-outs you do could be fitted onto a piece of A5 paper instead of A4, right? Just a slightly smaller font size and moving things closer together.

A4 thermal printers are available, and people like Screwfix use them, but I’m not sure of the cost of the paper. The printers are about £300 – £400.

So, in conclusion, this Epson TM-T20 thermal receipt printer is great.

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Old TV adverts

On DVDs of old TV programmes, why not have an option to watch the old TV ads of the time to complete the experience?

Great idea!

(Progs that were on ITV or Channel 4 of course.)

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Owl Energy Monitor Installed

I fitted an Owl energy monitor this weekend. Worryingly, when I’m lying in bed with everything off or on standby, the house uses 370 watts! I know my office uses 70 watts when everythings off/on standby which is pretty appaling, but I don’t really want to be scrabbling around under the desk unplugging everything every night. I’m not sure what the main culprit is…I thought it was the subwoofer in the lounge which has been on constantly since we got it, but that’s only 20 watts. The fridge/freezer aren’t ‘on’ whirring constantly. The only thing to do is to switch absolutely everything off, but then programmes won’t record on TiVo while this happens, and thing start defrosting, door bell doesn’t work, phones don’t work, etc.

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Culture Vulture, Blackberry, Fireworks

Culture Vulture strikes again! A new catalogue arrived last week, most of the old stuff still there but a good number of new items. Made another list of nice things and ordered online. Very nice items.

In other news this week, my BlackBerry is ace – should have got one much sooner really. It’s faster and more user friendly than my Nokia e63 (which looked a LOT like it!). I think the thing I miss most is the Nokia e63′s keyboard. It had a nicer feel, better spacing of the keys and you didn’t have to press the ‘alt’ button for punctuation.

I have found my collection of Heinz Noodle Doodles promotional items (well, only 3 – snakes and ladders game (unused), dominoes (unused) and snap (unused)) so hoping to get a few games in soon.

Fireworks night was ok – I used to be a huge fan of fireworks and was considering it as a career. Then I had an incident that nearly seriously injured me and burned the house down, and I was suddenly less keen. Now our dog is a nervous nellie with the bangs, so we have to drug him up to get through the night. It’s quite upsetting seeing him trembling. Until you have a pet that’s affected by the explosions, you don’t realise how anti-social and intrusive fireworks are. He is daft though because none have ever caused any harm to him or anything. He is not affected by the vacuum cleaner however!

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Now got a BlackBerry

I have now entered into the world of Blackberry!

After buying my mum a Blackberry about a year ago, I’ve done the same after sticking valiantly with my sporadically horrendously shit but mostly good Nokia e63. The recent “memory full” messages,  despite the phone having nothing stored on it and having a 2Gb memory card, have prevented me being able to use it for mobile email collection, which is the #1 reason I need a phone for.

So far, so good. Blackberry Messenger is good fun and free, so looks like I’ll never even use my 500 free texts allowance now!

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Mobile phone call costs

Why does Virgin Mobile charge me only 8p per minute to call other mobiles on pay as you go, yet my Virgin Media land line charges me 28p per minute? Surely it’d be more expensive to call a mobile from a mobile? And as it’s all part of the same company, can’t the charges be at least FAIRLY similar? Not 350% HIGHER?!?

I really don’t understand why it is so unfairly expensive to call mobile phones in the UK.

It’s cheaper for me to call a mobile phone on the other side of the world using VOIP than a mobile phone in the next room for God’s sake!

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Jedward – Lipstick

Quite literally the best LED screen graphics I’ve ever seen:

Jedward: Lipstick (Eurovision Song Contest Final 2011) – whizz on to 0:47s

Cool song too!

And here’s how to make a better music video than the official one using mostly still images – clearly a very talented person put this together:

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KFC meat is Halal

I’m an atheist so I don’t want my food to be blessed before I eat it.

And that’s why I don’t eat at KFC.

And I don’t know why KFC assume that all of its customers are muslims!

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If the UK tax system was a drinking club

What do you mean if! But seriously, my accountant sent me this and it has stuck with me:

The Tax System

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to £100…

If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this…

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay £1.
The sixth would pay £3.
The seventh would pay £7.
The eighth would pay £12.
The ninth would pay £18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay £59.

So, that’s what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve ball.

“Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by £20″. Drinks for the ten men would now cost just £80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes.

So the first four men were unaffected.

They would still drink for free. But what about the other six? The paying customers?

How could they divide the £20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?

They realized that £20 divided by six is £3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay.

And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% saving).

The sixth now paid £2 instead of £3 (33% saving).

The seventh now paid £5 instead of £7 (28% saving).

The eighth now paid £9 instead of £12 (25% saving).

The ninth now paid £14 instead of £18 (22% saving).

The tenth now paid £49 instead of £59 (16% saving).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings.

“I only got a pound out of the £20 saving,” declared the sixth man.

He pointed to the tenth man, “but he got £10!”

“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a pound too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!”

“That’s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get £10 back, when I got only £2? The wealthy get all the breaks!”

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison, “we didn’t get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!”

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is how our tax system works.

The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction.

Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore.

In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics.

For those who understand, no explanation is needed.
For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.

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The Original Gift Company “express delivery”

7 days ago I placed an order with The Original Gift Company. All 3 items in my order had an express delivery graphic next to it in the catalogue. I have so far received no indication that the order has been dispatched yet — hardly express delivery in this day and age! ‘Express delivery’ is ‘next day’ delivery I would have assumed?

I just e-mailed them asking whether they can give me an update on an estimated arrival time for the order and immediately an automated e-mail response was sent back saying that they will get back to me within 4 days!

What century does this company live in?

Maybe I should have just written them a letter…

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My Nokia e63 phone ‘memory full’

It is funny how your relationship with a product can go from recommending it to friends to hating it.

I purchased my Nokia e63 mobile phone a year and a half ago. It was easy to set up, worked exactly how I wanted it to with emails, and gave me the flexibility to leave the office while still be in contact with my e-mail inbox for any orders etc. I found the battery lasted about a day or so, until I realised that if you connected to your home WiFi network the battery would last at least 3 days. Before this time I had not switched my home WiFi network on, as I have no other devices that require it.

I extolled the virtues of the phone to a friend and they bought the next model up, the e73. I liked my e63 so much I even bought the same model phone for my mum. Sadly, we couldn’t get the Nokia e-mail program to work on her version of the phone as it did on mine, even though the model was identical. It was soon rejected and I bought her a Blackberry instead which works fine.

But I still have my original phone. Just recently however it has been giving messages saying that the memory is full and I should delete data. Seeing as all the applications and messages are all stored on a 4Gb memory card, this warning message is ludicrous. On checking the status of the memory of the phone, it tells me simply 118Mb is used up simply running the phone’s operating system. Yesterday I had 3Mb of free memory, and even though I have not used the phone since I last checked the memory status, I now have less than 300kB of free memory. What the hell is using it up!? I have cleared my privacy data from the web browser which has brought it back to 1.2Mb, but where the hell is 1.8Mb of memory gone? I am on pay as you go, as I rarely leave the office and have 3 landlines connected already, so don’t use the mobile for calls and so don’t want to have a pay monthly contract.

Bah! It was going so well for so long. I don’t really want to have to spend more money to get a Blackberry to replace it. Having a working smart phone seems to be quite a costly business! And I certainly don’t want an iPhone thank you very much.

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Nutella health claims

There’s Nutella advertising their gloopy, claggy chocolate spread on the TV as some healthy start to the day with nuts and milk and cocoa in it. The last time I looked at a label of Nutella, hydrogenated vegetable oil (ie trans fats) was the 2nd thing on the ingredients list. Not quite the healthy start to the day I’d be looking for!

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Buying from bid tv

I bought a game console from Speed Auction TV this evening. 100 classic arcade games on a hand-held console. I saw it on bid tv at about 1:45AM this morning with Peter Simon and Marina Berry where it went for £14.99 plus the rather overpriced £5.99 delivery (it’ll arrive in 2nd class post no doubt). I couldn’t find it on their website to put a web bid on it for the next time it appeared, and it was on for £30.00 to ‘buy it now’. No-one in their right mind would pay that though, knowing it would be on again soon for £14.99 or less. ANYWAY, I searched and searched and after lookng through all the products that were on in the next few days on all 3 channels, I found it coming up on Price Drop TV at 6PM today so put in a web bid for £14.99. In the end, it went for £12.99 so that was good (everyone pays the lowest price). So I got one.

I also saw some ice stones (like ice cubes but made from soapstone so they don’t dilute your drink) which will be a gift for a whisky loving friend — I’ve seen them go for £1.00 before so I bid £2.00. And also some yellow Egyptian towels which I’ve bid £10.00 for but I’m not sure I’ll get (normally they go for £20.00 but you never know). That auction ends tomorrow.

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LinkedIn – count me out!

I don’t know how LinkedIn works.

Here is why:

I’m a supplier of products. I am ‘connected’ to and in communication with my suppliers simply by virtue of the day-to-day running of my business. My customers want to connect with me on LinkedIn. If I accept their connection, they see all of my suppliers contacts and can simply go over my head and deal directly with them! I always thought contacts were very important in businesses, but the whole theory behind LinkedIn seems to literally publicise your rolodex to all your customers and potentially competition to see who you know. Unless you keep them both mutually exclusive – ie only connect with suppliers, or only connect with customers. I mean, I’ve found out some of my suppliers suppliers, and also added some of their customers hoping that they’ll buy from me next time. Madness.

 

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More Makro

In tonight’s Makro visit we got some great value eggs, beetroot, onions and asparagus. Cheaper than we’ve seen anywhere else, so great selling. It was busier in there tonight than we’ve ever seen it – maybe just ‘cos we never normally go on a Friday. Got my mum another 5 hidden object games – she has almost a full shelf of them now! I got some prefessional Febreeze toilet air freshener – “professional” for just £2.00. Also step ladders, sloe gin, olive oil, Frosties, Just Brazils as a present, orange Matchmakers and that was about it. We’re collecting the stickers for the knives offer and have 3 lines so far.

They’ve completely moved the entrance door to the store to the other end of the building, so you walk through all the Christmas gift boxes first, and the freezer produce is at the other end of the store (whereas before it was the first thing you walked into). Quite a major change. They don’t seem to ask to see your membership card these days either. Years ago they’d swipe it onto their computer before letting you through the barrier, and you had to sign this piece of paper. It was crazy – none of the signatures were legible, and you didn’t have to print your name or the time when you’d “signed in”. What on earth was the point of it? On one occassion I scribbed an illegible autograph thinking even the woman behind the desk knew what a futile excercise it was, and she made me do it again, properly!

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Police dashboard cameras

If we all had cameras in our cars like the police, we could all actively report motorists who break the law by submitting the video clip via a police website as evidence. I drive within the speed limits, so I find it offensive when cars overtake me, clearly breaking the limit and thinking the law doesn’t apply to them. As there are so few police on the roads – I’ve just been driving for an hour and didn’t see one. I think if a number of people had cameras on their dashboards, drivers who regularly flount the law would think again as they wouldn’t know when they’d be getting filmed during the crime. Maybe if we got a percentage commission of any fines levied on the criminals we caught on camera, this would be added incentive? What do you think? Comment below.

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Joy

Without exception, every single person I’ve met called Joy has been a completely joy-less person.

The irony of life is a fickle mistress.

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The timing of AVG scans

Ahhh AVG Antivirus – always there to make a quick 1 minute job on the computer take 20 minutes due to its unstoppable FULL SYSTEM SCAN that you don’t want to happen.

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Donald Sinden

I’m convinced Donald Sinden is one of my neighbours. Looks like him, similar voice, locks his gates as I’m sure Simon Peel from Never the Twain would do in this day and age too. Nice chap. Only ever said good morning to him once. What goes on behind closed doors, eh? I’m sure this would be a nicer neighbourhood if we all talked to each other a bit more – there seems to be some interesting characters around here. But how? Do you just knock on the door and start gabbling to them? There’s only really so many excuses you can use to strike up conversation with neighbours who you don’t see out on the street. Borrowing things I suppose is one, sharing an aerial photograph of the area that you have found on the Internet is perhaps another, and perhaps a power cut — unless there gates have an electric intercom, in which case no luck!

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Toner cartridge weight difference

I just weighed a black toner cartridge that I’ve been made to replace by my printer, and a new one, and the difference in weight is only 23 grams! I only pay £12 for the cartridge (it’s a Dell 1320N printer) but still…that’s like 50p per gram!

Try weighing yours next time you have to change it.

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X Factor 2011 Winner Prediction

I predict Janet Devlin will win X Factor 2011.

Bear in mind it’s only week 2 so I’m predicting way ahead here!

*** UPDATE ***

I was wrong. She got voted out on week 8.
At the end of the series, it was revealed that she had received the highest number of votes for the first four weeks, which was the highest consecutive public vote out of all the 2011 contestants. So my prediction was going with the flow at the time!

Little Mix, a girl band, won.

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Cool 80s TV vehicles

Postman Pat

I love Postman Pat’s van – always have, always will. The old square one though – I’ve read he has a boring electric modern curvey one now.

postman_pat_car

I had a Dukes of Hazard birthday cake when I was about 4 or 5.

General Lee

I also liked (the original) Knightrider which was in fact a Pontiac Trans-am. I would like to buy one, but I never would. Not sure how practical it really is for someone who isn’t really a ‘petrol-head’ or mechanic.

kitt

I’d rather have quirky cars than turbo boosted ones or anything silly.

I used to love driving the pedal-powered ice cream van in playschool.

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Energy tariffs

One way to help people with electricity and gas bills is for the energy companies to

a) stop being so bloody greedy and

b) just have one single tariff – the BEST PRICE tariff for us ALL.

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Board games – I’m missing a trick!

It suprises me how much board games cost to buy. I’m looking at Risk and Stratego, maybe Pandemic, and they seem to comprise of little more than a basic board, plastic things and printed cards to warrant an outlay of approx £20 – £25.

It does seem quite a lot, doesn’t it?  I wonder how the price is justified. Comments welcome!

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Dinner Party

We hosted a great dinner party on Saturday night for very long-standing friends who are fabulous cooks and great hosts, and are very well practiced at it – they host dinner parties all the time. We have about 1 a year – for them! Moet and Tattinger flowed, caviar was munched, royal fountains sprayed over the cakes made by the delicatessen, then a guest suggested a dance in the hall to Michael Bublé. I brought out my new moving head LED light fixture and my older 250w halogen scanner with smoke machine which made the whole thing hilarious and the highlight of the evening.

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Why is breeding encouraged by governments?

If over-population is the underlying cause of climate change et al, why is it that the Government actively encourage citizens to breed more people? It’s a known fact that you are better off financially if you have a baby, as the gov will merrily give you a house and various benefits, or credits if you do happen to work.

If you live as a single person, your council tax is only reduced by 25%. How is that fair? If you have 6 children plus partner, total of 8 people, you only pay a quarter more council tax for all of the extra schooling, healthcare, rubbish removal, etc. that these extra bodies require?

The whole thing is completely contradictory to the whole carbon credit thing they’re always going on about.

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Makro – I like

I do like Makro…now. It was a bit uncared for and not particularly cheap about 5 years ago so we stopped going. We visited a few  weeks ago just to pop-in and it’s all been refurbed so there are whole massive refridgerated rooms for cheese and meat and the prices of a lot of things are very good.

They had some really cheap beetroot which was great for salads we were having, then we bought a box of Irish recipe sausages. We currently have a craze on paté, and at £2.49 for half a kilo it’s very good value. We’ve decided that their own brand beef burgers are better than any we’ve bought from any supermarket too. They also have a good range of spirits, so we’ve bought Cointreau, Amarula cream and some Limoncello this evening.

Last week we went crazy with massive Christmas baubles, etc. as I’m sure you’ve read about and seen here. They are still in a bit of transition what with getting rid of their audio/visual section and book section, so a few weeks ago there were huge swathes of empty racking. I don’t think they make enough of the offers that are on – sometimes we buy stuff and it’s only when we examine the receipt that we realise there was a 25% off on that range of products. Things are mis-priced (by which I mean you end up paying less, so it’s a nice surprise). Years ago they used to have electronic shelf-edge price displays which were thousands of little LCD screens that could be centrally updated via a series of infra red lights in the ceiling. Very futuristic (and accurate) but now it’s back to printed price labels it seems a bit of a step backwards.

We go in the evening and it’s quiet, so it has a nice leisurely atmosphere… to quote a line from the 1944 existentialist play No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre, l’enfer, c’est les autres (“Hell is other people”).

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Imperial rule

Just received a catalogue through the post (Ancestral Collections) and all measurements for the products are in inches. I thought we were a metric country now? (Obviously apart from pints, motorway road signs that are in miles, speedometers, height, weight, and virtually everything else!).

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Electrician now gone

The electrician has finished – a day and a half in total. We worked out that since I started using him 4 years ago he’s been working in total for about 3 weeks! Bit of an ongoing joke, but he is good. I say he should send me a postcard from all the holidays he goes on, especially as I’m paying for the bloody things!

Double plugs fitted in 3 places to replace single ones, more downlighters fitted in the kitchen, my TV mounted on the wall of my bedroom, outdoor pipes insulated that froze last year, drain pipes fixed, new blinds fitted in kitchen, new house number and an attempt to fix the intercom (without success – we ended up getting a taxi’s radio channel on it!)

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♪ ♫ Tea for two, and two for tea ♪ ♫

After having paté on crackers for lunch and never leaving the house, I realised we’re turning into the Beales of Grey Gardens.

Edie!!!

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Wallace & Gromit rocket soap

Wallace & Gromit Rocket Soap

The Boots Christmas catalogue is always a traditional read and has been for at least 50 years. Only one thing caught my eye this year – the Wallace & Gromit Rocket soap. Nice shape (unsure of size though, as no dimensions or weight spec given in description). For £4.00 you can get some pretty huge bars of soap from Nesti Dante (Italian).

It’s also worth pointing out at this stage that Boots automatically discount invoices that their suppliers submit to them by 2% before making payment after 60 days (no matter what the supplier’s terms are). Why? If a customer bought a sandwich from a Boots store, took 2 months to pay and didn’t give the cashier the right amount of money for it, I think they’d be pissed off. There are lots of websites that discuss it. It’s rotten practice, and I dislike Boots quite vehemently because of it. It particularly takes advantage of small businesses. And so I won’t be buying this or anything else from Boots ever again.

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Downlighter installation – top tip

I have our electrician and gardener both coming over tomorrow. I’ve waited about a month for them both to be free to do some work, and they both arranged to come on the same day! I’ll finally be able to have my TV mounted on my bedroom wall to watch my DVDs as I nod off. I’ve just ordered the Mysterious Cities of Gold DVD box set to celebrate. 18 hours though…but very 80s.

As if my home couldn’t have any more downlighters, 3 more will be installed in the kitchen, plus 2 x par 16 birdies to illuminate a painting. There’s a dark corner now since the new kitchen was fitted, and the idiot of a kitchen fitter wasn’t at all keen on installing under-counter lighting (even though LED strips would have looked great) so it’s a bit dark in places. I have a box containing 120 MR16 bulbs in the garage after I lost a box, re-ordered, then found the lost box!

We’ve been living here for over 3 years and out of over 100 fittings only 2 bulbs have needed to be replaced in that time. The secret is to have a 60 watt 12v ac transformer feeding just 2 x 20 watt MR16 fittings (instead of a larger 200va transformer feeding 10 x MR16s). The transformer is not overloaded, and the bulbs last forever. In my opinion 50 watt bulbs are over-rated unless you have really high ceilings – the difference in brightness isn’t noticable for the 150% increase in power use. At the moment, LED bulbs are either too dim but cheap, or a bit brighter but give too focused a spot of light and cost a fortune. I’d have to order over 100 LED bulbs and replace all the transformers at the same time – it ain’t gonna happen bud.

Anyway, I’ve been catching up on receipts and invoices for my company for the last 4 hours, so it’s time for bed.

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Windows Update -a-thon

Formatted and re-installing Windows XP on my 6 year old HP PC. Installing update 1 of 75…yikes! It restarted ultra-fast without any updates installed…I wonder what it’ll be like after this little lot have chugged their way through?

And another thing — on Windows Update, who the hell thinks THIS means ANYTHING to all but the most geeky programmers?

Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1 is a full cumulative update that contains many new features building incrementally upon .NET Framework 2.0, 3.0, 3.5, and includes cumulative servicing updates to the .NET Framework 2.0 and .NET Framework 3.0 subcomponents. The .NET Framework 3.5 Family Update provides important application compatibility updates. This combined Service Pack and update is applicable to .NET versions 2.0 through 3.5.

Now, I have no idea what this is. I use the PC to go on the web, edit audio and videos. I don’t even know if I have .NET Framework on it. Errr…why would installing this benefit me or the PC in any way? Seems to me it will fill it up with up to 65Mb of guff. I don’t even know if any programs use it?

Just a major WTF.

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Rattan Hens

About 9 years ago I bought a pair of rattan hens from Scotts of Stow catalogue. I nailed them to the shed roof, but have since moved house (I thought I’d better leave them there otherwise removing them would have left to large holes in the shed tarpaulin roof!). I have just searched on the Internet but could not find any mention of them at all. I wonder who makes them? Or if they are still available anywhere? If you know, please leave a message below!

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Online shopping total

Just totted it up and I’ve ordered 95 things online in the last 75 days.

And on a similar note, wouldn’t it be interesting (although perhaps not in their best interests) for Amazon to display the total amount of money you’ve spent with them since registering with the site?!?

I once manually added it up for my play.com account and was rather shocked.

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Strange Amazon Marketplace seller’s name

Samburu & The Tyreco – gifts for animal lovers and bicycle tyres

Ideal if you love animals, or bicycle tyres – or both!

(Or if you buy gifts for the tyres of your bike?!)

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Rousseau Cushions

Rousseau Cushions

This week received these great tapestry cushions based on the flowers and foliage of ‘Tropical Forest with Monkeys’ painted by Rousseau in 1910. Really nice (not cheap though! £76 the pair)

 

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Baubles, bangles and beads

We went out to Dunelm Mill for a non-slip backing for the Kandinsky rug for the hall this evening. It’s a lovely rug (from Culture Vulture, £199) but slips like crazy when you stand on it. Dunelm do a non-slip backing which cements it in place.

Then we had a Burger King meal (Angus 3-pepper – v. hot, freshly done but loads of onions in it) and then on to Makro where I got some hidden object games for my mum (she loves them),  a Hummer driving game for me, a submarine simulator game for one of my suppliers, some paté, some salami, some eggs, and loads of massive Christmas baubles (20 and 30cm diameter ones for shopping centres!). We’ll be putting them on the cherry tree outside. Here’s a peek at them, along with the new parquet flooring in the hall (completed today):

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Poor courier delivery drivers

Just been having a read of the threads on parcelforum.co.uk.

As I use couriers every day, I never knew how it all worked. The so-called ‘self-employed’ couriers like Yodel (used to be domestic DHL) and Hermes that rely on their employees own vehicles only pay them 50 – 65p per delivery! As one of them said, Amazon send out £700.00 plasma TVs without needing a signature and the driver gets 65p for doing it. eBay, Amazon, Next etc. all add to the parcel numbers, so some get over 100 parcels to deliver each day. You can imagine how bad it got with the snow last winter.

I’m always nice to them without having known all this, and I’m at the door before they’ve even got out of the van most times just to save them time. I’ve even given nice ones cans of San Pellegrino lemonade on hot days! Aren’t I nice?

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Parquet flooring now completed

The floor fitter has now finished. It took him two and a half days to lay the parquet floor, but he’s done an excellent job. We gave him a bottle of wine, we were so pleased. A real craftsman.

Yesterday a pair of his colleagues visited to admire it as it isn’t a flooring the do that often. He said he was very pleased with how it looked.  A local company too, so always good.

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The Gift of Music CD Catalogue

The Gift of Music” CD catalogue has taken me with great interest last night. No track listings, which I think is a bit crazy in this information age, and with such great titles as “Forever England“, “Music for Motoring” and ”Under an English Heaven” it presses my patriotic buttons!

Another interesting discovery was “Pax Romana” – music from 5th Century Europe under Roman rule and as they describe it  “recreating the sounds that might have been heard in a Roman villa in 5th or 6th century Europe using a wide variety of instruments which were known at the time“. Very atmospheric stuff after hearing the samples.

What they do at The Gift of Music is a very good idea — a catalogue of well-designed CD covers and tantalising descriptions of the type of music on them. What is better is being able to go on Amazon and listen to the tracks to sort out which CDs are actually any good and which are a hodge-podge of recordings of strange treatments of the songs you thought you were getting. To be fair, they do have track listings of all the CDs on their website.

However, in the end, I bought a few from the Amazon Marketplace (sorry The Gift of Music!). One was only 1p! They work out at about £6.67 per CD via the catalogue (£9.99 each, but if you buy 2 you get a 3rd one free), but you have to pay £2.99 postage and let’s be honest — no-one likes having to pay postage.

Anyway, I just thought I would share this with you.

I wonder if my history of reading the Tridias catalogue (of which there is no mention on the Internet at all, but when I was about 6 to 10 years old this catalogue was my Christmas shopping list!) and the infamous Innovations catalogue has made me fond of catalogue shopping over online shopping?

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City Link and the Parcel2Go TNT Rebooking

So yesterday evening I book City Link to collect 2 parcels using Parcel2Go.com who are great. Then at lunchtime today I get an email from Parcel2Go saying the City Link booking network has a fault so they’ve re-booked it with TNT at no extra cost, and would I please put the new paper work on the boxes to replace the city Link paperwork. This I diligently do, and half an hour later the Citylink van arrives to collect them! I told him what had happened, and he went away empty-handed. I’m sitting here 4 hours later still waiting to TNT to arrive. Grrr.

The reason I book City Link is because the man is nice, but the TNT man snapped at me once telling me “I haven’t got time for this” when I didn’t have the correct account number on a document. Okay, it was a couple of years ago, but I remember things like that.

I suppose all this is nobody’s fault, and Parcel2Go are only doing their best to avoid aggro from other customers , but maybe I should have stood firm and only stuck the TNT paper work on the boxes when the TNT man was actually walking down the drive!

***UPDATE 1 year 2 months on***
TNT man has been replaced and is very nice now. CityLink subbed out a collection to two thugs who arrived in a rusty un-marked blue transit van who didn’t have a working pen and had eyes like shit-house rats. I now don’t use CityLink but instead use TNT and UPS, almost exclusively through Parcel2Go.com with whom it is a pleasure to send out consignments domestically and internationally.

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PC gets slower

When it takes 6 minutes to open a webpage whilst wuaclt.exe is gurgling around in the background eating 200Mb for no reason, it makes me think that the formatting and re-installation of Windows XP on this 6 year old HP tower PC is overdue…

Although equally tempting is to just use a ‘standby’ desktop Fujitsu Siemens PC I have next to it. Doesn’t have as many expansion slots for an extra SATA though.

And the crime is that I still have a 60Gb SSD HD on my desk that I don’t know how to fit!

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Satisfaction

There’s a certain satisfaction received from using a paperweight made of oak from the HMS Victory on a pile of purchase orders from France. :0)

I am a British patriot.

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Chris Rhodes on Speed Auction TV

Chris Rhodes

As a long-time fan of Peter Simon on Bid TV, Chris Rhodes on Bid’s sister channel Speed Auction is a very entertaining watch. Last night he was drifting between impressions of Ronnie Corbett selling some armchair covers, then to Jimmy Saville selling coat hangers. He’s self deprecating which is always an appealing trait, but he’s obviously wasted on this channel. However, this means he can entertain in a more informal way than the ‘hard sell’ presenters.

Chris Rhodes

He knows his products – no consulting the notes, and has a relaxed presenting style. He’s clearly their lead presenter as he’s on at prime-times. Worth a watch. And if you do watch, don’t just watch for 2 minutes because he’s obviously there to sell, but if you watch for longer you’ll hear the quips, gags, impressions, etc. that make it fun to watch.

I’ve put a few clips of him on YouTube. Check it!

Chris Rhodes

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Culture Vulture

I ordered some trainers from La Redoute, and they sent a Pia Jewellery catalogue with them. I asked my mum if she wanted anything from it for Christmas, and she picked a pair of earrings. I received them (weight 25g) along with 450g of catalogues! In the post the jiffy bag had opened so anyone could have helped themselves, but in fact the catalogues turned out to be very good.

Notably, Culture Vulture. Lots of very nice items, well presented and appealing to me - great as gifts, so a large order was placed the next day! Can’t say too much because almost all were presents, but a Kandinsky rug is for the hall (on top of the parquet). It all arrived today, 3 working days after order was placed.

There was also a Museum Collection catalogue which had some nice items, mostly mixed packs of retro Christmas cards of all shapes, sizes and styles, so another order was placed which also arrived today. This included a lovely little Corinthian owl:

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Oral B Toothpaste

I’m sure we all bought a few tubes of the new Oral B toothpaste when it was launched in August. I know I did – it was pretty cheap! And what great toothpaste it is – the all-round protection one tastes and smells like dentists mouth rinse. Well, today I ran out of it and went back to my half-used tube of Aquafresh. Yikes! Talk about slimey in comparison – it was pretty yukky in contrast, even though I’ve used it for decades. I hope there’s another offer on the Oral B stuff, as it’s pretty expensive when it isn’t discounted!

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KABL Radio

There’s an absolutely fantastic radio station I listen to on my bedside WiFi radio called KABL.

KABL serenaded San Francisco with lush, beautiful music, very few commercials, and rich-voiced announcers who wooed the Bay Area with poetic paeans. This gentle KABL sound soon swept the area.

Listeners responded to its elegant charm and sophisticated whimsy.

The music they play is best described by KABL’s website,

Lush, timeless instrumentals, unforgettable vocalists, swinging Big Bands, sophisticated jazz and countless cool musical surprises that you haven’t heard on the air in years.

It will remind you of the San Francisco of long ago, mornings in the Financial District, afternoons in Union Square, evenings at the Top Of The Mark, weekends at Playland At The Beach or simply wandering around Fisherman’s Wharf.

Doesn’t it just sound great from the description alone!?

It used to be an AM station in San Francisco (960 KABL) but now broadcasts only online as a tribute stream. Fantastic songs, no DJs most of the time and no adverts (although they do want advertisers). It’s a bit like my beloved PrimeTime Radio again. I’ve been listening for weeks, I’ve never heard the same song twice, never heard the same ‘memories of San Francisco’ interlude twice. Absolutely love it!

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New LED Lenser Torch

I treated myself to a new LED torch from Maplin last month – an LED Lenser 1088923 (what a catchy model name!).

It uses 3 x AAA batteries and has adjustable focus. It’s very bright for its size and a cool white light. They put a leaflet in the box with it and they do larger ones which you think, “awww…I’d have got a bigger one if I’d known” but the largest in the range, the X2, is probably too bright for use in the house to look for things in dark corners of a garage etc. It’s also nearly £200.00.

There are lots of people on youtube who do torch reviews. This led me to investigate the O Light SR90 Intimidator. Supposedly much brighter than the X2, and with a rechargeable battery, but if you are prepared to pay £316 for a torch you must have a proper use for it (like a game keeper or security guard or search and rescue or something).

I’ll stick with my 1088923!

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Parquet A-OK

The floor fitter was here all day and has only done around the outside edge of the hall. Apparently that’s the most time consuming bit. Tomorrow he’ll lay the rest of it. Took longer than I thought.

I’m about to have a shower where I have a waterproof notepad and pencil that I use if I have any good ideas in there. Very useful thing to have! “Rite in the Rain” are the manufacturers of the pad. It’s a clever idea and aimed more at military and field-work scientists rather than entrepreneurs in showers, but….

 

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Cats ‘law unto themselves’

Cats are ‘free spirits’ but dogs need legal insurance. By law, you can’t be sued if your cat causes injury or property damage.
You can with dogs.

Luckily, my throwing arm is a free spirit. Usually with a handfull of gravel when I see one doing a big shit in my garden.

Maybe if I dress up as a cat and do one of my “Colonel Stinkers” in the cat owner’s rose bed they’d know how we all feel.

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Time for parquet

Getting the parquet flooring done in the hall now. The border seems to be taking ages to do, but I suppose it’s the trickiest part, with all that cutting.

If you eat the bran you can get from Amazon on that French doctor’s diet, just make sure you’re never too far from a toilet. That’s all I’ll say about that. I’m having to hold my farts in today because the floor fitter will be the first to register them if they creep out of my office…

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Barometer Calibration

Today I calibrated our barometer. It was set in Germany, so bound to be a bit off. It was about 20 …er…pascals(?) off.

I received delivery of a beautiful La Creuset mug in volcanic orange that I’ll be giving my mum. Looks more impressive than I was expecting, so now looking at ramekins too.

I also got a snazzy pair of digital Salter kitchen scales which are very accurate. Bought it more for weighing things to post with the Royal Mail’s online postage website really, but will be used for cooking too I’m sure!

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4AM, and I blame the blog!

I must say blog ‘technology’ has come on a long way since…er…March 2010, when I last used blogger. This is all done on WordPress now – more ‘techie’ but much more to customise. Je suis happy!

Although it is now 4AM and I have work tomorrow. Luckily, unless a customer calls me really early, I get up at 10:30 on a weekday. Nothing seems to really happen before then in the field of work I’m in.

We’re getting the hall floor done in Karndean flooring on Tuesday. It’s currently covered in screed. It’ll be a parquet finish, so I hope it will look good. It bloody should for what it’s costing! We had a new downstairs toilet installed last week because the floor fitter has to cut round it and it was a bad toilet.

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Trainers – update

The last post (13 March 2010) in my previous blog (vo.kost.co.uk) was to promise I wouldn’t buy any more trainers for years. Alas, this did not happen!

I got some La Coste Avant trainers for a discounted price, and really loved them. So much so I bought 4 pairs in total.

Also some nice Reebok hi-tops (Reebok Exofit Plus Hi Ultralite), but nothing else. These are my favourite hi-tops now. So lightweight, and mesh outer to keep your feet cool. It was only upon searching for illustrative photos for this blog that I read that the purple ones are the ones Justin Beiber is always wearing. I can certainly understand why. I paid only £15 for them. A real bargain. Can’t find them anywhere for a price near this now unfortunately.

I did order some Puma running shoes from La Redoute in their sale, but they were very tight compared to my other shoes so I had to send them back.

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Here we go again!

Welcome to the new VO. My previous blog vo.kost.co.uk came to a frustrated close when blogger stopped FTP support about 1.5 years ago, but I missed doing it! Twitter isn’t floating my boat, so here we go again…this is more for my benefit than yours really, but you’re very welcome to stop by and read-up!

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