Friday, May 29, 2009

Service With A Scratch

About a month ago my phone (an HTC Touch HD) started to behave oddly, often not having reception in residential areas and not being able to make calls or send text messages even when it did. Being used to fluffy (l)user support calls I gave it some time and eventually compared the reception of my phone to my friend's HTC Diamond Pro. The reception of my phone was undoubtedly, markedly worse so I started the returns' procedure, which apart from an amusing email ("The quotation has been resolved... Don’t worry, we’ll keep you fully informed.") and phone call ("What does 'The quotation has been resolved' mean?... This line's very bad... isn't that a bit of a problem for a call centre?") went smoothly and my phone was picked up and fixed under warranty, without question (despite the fact I'd bought it on eBay) in 5 working days. However the screen has been scratched and the unlock code wouldn't work as they'd changed the main board and hence the IMEI number. So I called them up again (I have to say that it really is a lot more pleasant and less stressful to speak to a native English speaker) and again they agreed to take it back to fix it without question, they will even collect it this very afternoon. So I am left with an overall sense that HTC offers good service, despite the fact that if their phone hadn't broken in the first place, and then hadn't been scratched while being repaired I wouldn't have had to go through their returns procedure, no matter how quick and pain-free it is.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bear Grylls Is A Fucking Idiot

I've only seen two bits of Bear Grylls' TV program. Is it just coincidence that both of them have brought me to the conclusion that he's a fucking idiot? The first time I just walked in in time to see him crawling breathlessly a few metres through a mangrove swamp in Panama. He finds some sort of mussel type thing, stabs it with his knife, tastes it, spits it out with a horrified "UGH" and throws the poor wasted thing away. He then climbs a tree for no apparent reason, takes his shirt off for no apparent reason, other than perhaps to give the lucky viewers a chance to see his torso and does a frivolous back flip off the tree back into the swamp. He then struggles another couple of meters onto a sandbank, spies a crab which he again stabs with his knife. He lets us know that the crab is well and truly dead, despite the fact that it is still desperately trying to flee and you can almost hear it screaming in pain and frustration. He then rips off one of its claws, sucks out some of the flesh, again finds that the taste is not to his liking and throws the wretched creature away.

The second clip that I saw was picked for me by the annoying guy with stupid hair from the Saturday Night Project. In it Bear Grylls is demonstrating that you can drink the freshly squeezed juice of elephant dung. Nobody needs to know that, let alone have it demonstrated. He's just showing off.

Now it may seem that all survival shows are this pointless and frivolous, but somehow people such as Ray Mears just don't seem that bad. Ray Mears is so much calmer and more thoughtful, and although I can't really see myself getting stranded in the Rockies and needing his camping skills, he does demonstrate things that you could see yourself doing. I cannot see myself trying still warm crab, nor elephant shit juice. Apparently I am not the only one to make this comparison.

If you're interested, the first clip I mentioned is here and here, but you really don't need to find a specific bit of his program it's all ridiculous, just before these clips he covers himself in mud.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that my parents seem to think that Bear Grylls is some sort of modern day missionary, though I am not sure where they got that idea from.

UPDATE: Apparently he has helped some people.

UPDATE: Thanks to Anonymous below for pointing out:

These hilarious videos (you need to watch to the end):

And this video showing that Bear Grylls continuously lies about being the youngest Briton to climb Mount Everest.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The World Is Not Barclay's Oyster

Does Not Play Well With OysterI started using a new wallet recently. And my oyster card stopped working. My being a cyclist combined with the rush usually associated with public transport I didn't have a lot of opportunity to investigate. It was a bit confusing though as it is just a standard leather wallet. It recently occurred to me however that it could be down, not to my wallet, but my new Barclay's debit card, which has these wavy lines on. I called Barclay's only to be told, rather condescendingly that the two cards will not interfere. So I off I trotted to Blackfriar's station, had a little chat with the guard and did some testing. Sure enough, the Oyster card was fine when my Barclay debit card was not in my wallet. The card reader even stated "Too many oyster cards" when my debit card was present. So I called Barclay's again to request a new card sans "wave and pay" technology. No deal. But I was told that I needed to call Oyster and give them my card details which would sort the problem. Needless to say I was not convinced. I called Oyster, but unfortunately I don't seem to have the right sort of card, you have to have a OnePay card to be able to pay for Oyster directly from your Barclay card. I am now bored of talking to people in call centres, do I really have to move banks to fix my Oyster card?

UPDATE: My third phone call to Barclay's got the answer I was after: Apparently I can request to "downgrade" my debit card, but only at my local branch.

See also my further update.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Welcome To The 21st Century

I called my GP surgery today to ask for a repeat prescription. I was staggered by their response: email the request.

If it's surprising to see the NHS finally reach the computer age (I can also view my blood results on-line, though there seems to be no cohesion between departments, the website I use is for renal patients only) you would hope that a major telecoms company has their shit together, unfortunately this is often not the case. When I signed up with O2 broadband I had to use a different username and account to my mobile account. After a little while I was given the option to link the two accounts, but this does not mean that the two are integrated, just that I only have one username, I have to chose to switch between the accounts once I am logged in, despite the fact that I have a "My Broadband" link while using my mobile account.

Paypal are still sending out emails that look phishy, showing a link that looks like, but which actually links to

I've had increasing levels of spam in my gmail inbox in the last couple of weeks, I can't remember the last time I saw a piece of spam before then. It started with one or two a day but rose to about 7 on Sunday. I haven't had any today or yesterday so hopefully that's the end of it.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

rss2email Update

Setting up rss2email on your own server and then adding functionality to allow anonymous users to subscribe to your blog is a bit long-winded and would feel a lot like reinventing the wheel, so let me introduce you to FeedBurner. To be honest I am not sure what the point of FeedBurner is, but hidden away in its functionality (Feed -> Publicise -> Email Subscriptions) is the facility to offer users the ability to subscribe to your blog updates by email. See the Subscribe by Email link on the left for example. This is still a little bit of a long-winded option as the setup isn't the most straight forward and there seems to be a lot of functionality on offer if all you're interested in is updates by email.