There's something I should tell you. I'm not left-handed either.

Archive for the category “Cynicism”

ReKindled (Again)

Just to top off a pretty expensive fortnight, while I was away over the weekend the Kindle broke. As with previous ones, the screen film cracked, so half of it is working and the other half isn’t. In short, fucked.

As it turns out though, I can’t be too annoyed (annoyed, sure, but not too annoyed) as it turns out I’ve had this one just short of three years. Considering that before that I had a spate of broken screens in less than a year, it could’ve lasted a lot less time.

Yes, I’d rather these things were more resilient, were designed to last longer than 18 months.

Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how things have progressed with Kindles, and whether they’ve improved the ways to reload content onto a new device. It was horrific three years ago, so I’m hoping for improvements, it’s fair to say. (And if that doesn’t happen, I’ve got a backup from the old device – so maybe I’ll just be able to roll that onto the new one.)

We’ll see.

Apprentice Thoughts

Once again, the BBC has a series of the Apprentice running. And yet again, every single contestant currently appears to be an inveterate fuckknuckle with all the business skills of a bundle of second-hand scrotum skin.

What I don’t understand about the competitors (more even than being so massively underprepared and underqualified) is what think will happen afterwards.  This year, there’s 18 competitors, and that means that 17 are going to lose, and go back to reality.

But anyone who has seen the programme will know that they’re insufferable, incompetent, and in most cases utterly vile human beings who couldn’t truly run a business if their lives depended on it.

So – what happens when they look for new work? Or even just return to the job where they’ve managed to negotiate a break or sabbatical? (Come to think of it, that situation might be even worse, with the added weight of expectations etc.)

I know that if, regardless of whether I were interviewing or being interviewed, any single one of them were in the room, I’d know they’re (at best) useless, gobby, opinionated, and shit at their supposed job; and wouldn’t work with them.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d do the same.

All told, pretty mind-boggling.

Advertising Standards – Feedback

A while back, I wrote about OpenTable and the dodgy wording of their Dining Points loyalty scheme. At the time, it had just been referred to the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority), who were investigating further.

Last week, they came back to me – and while it’s still informal, OpenTable are supposedly changing the wording on the screens, to make things clearer about how the Dining Points scheme works.

It’s still not a situation I’m entirely happy with, because it can still be easily misinterpreted, and there’s a lot of inherent dodginess in the entire thing.  But at least it’s progress.

It’s still with the ASA, following on from my own responses, but it’ll be interesting to see whether anything else comes of it.

The End Is Nigh

ScroogeIt’s the first post of the year to see Scrooge!

As of tonight, we’re officially in the run up to the Festering Season.  How do I know? Because tonight on TV there’s the first episode of the new series of X-Factor.

Not that I’ll be watching it, but it’s definitely the harbinger of the year’s end…

Eating Well For Less

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been watching the BBC’s “Eat Well For Less” series.  It’s an interesting concept, helping people with their eating habits (and more accurately, their spending on food) by removing all the labelling and branding from food in people’s houses, removing all the prejudices etc. around their food spending.  They replace expensive branded stuff with ‘own-brand’ or cheaper alternatives (and in some cases with more expensive, but better/healthier options) and also leaving some things alone.  Additionally, they help people with recipes for their favourite meals, rather than buying pre-packaged and so on.

A lot of it is insanely annoying, but the core information is (in my opinion) worth it, for both the families on the programme, and people watching it.

But oh Dear God, those families are fucking pathetic. There’s lots of preconceptions about brands being preferred “because they wouldn’t be so popular if they weren’t the best” and so on, which drives me crackers.

The most recent one tonight, though, drove me crackers. One family member had been diagnosed as coeliac, and had spent six years eating salads he hated. Six. Fucking. Years.  How does anyone end up eating stuff they don’t like for six bloody years? There’s no logic in it that I can see – unless they haven’t done any enquiries or research about what’s got gluten in and so on?

In this case they were buying loads of pre-packaged food – and I get that more, because they were so worried about cross-contaminating from their foods to his, and making him ill – but with no thoughts or understanding. I think the peak point for me was buying pre-packaged “gluten-free” rice, not understanding that all rice is gluten-free, in the name of Jesus H Pant-shitting Christ.

So yeah, it’s been an interesting series, but Holy DogEggs, some people are fucking lazy/stupid/pathetic*.

(* Delete as applicable)

Descriptions vs. Reality

I’ve written several times about some of the restaurant stuff I’ve been doing this year – and I now have my bookings sorted through to October – but there’s been one thing that’s bugging me, which I addressed a bit yesterday.

Some of the restaurants use OpenTable for their booking system – which is understandable, it must make life a lot easier to have all that side handled by someone else.

OpenTable offer a “points” system, so that after a certain number of meals booked through themselves, one can get a discount card/voucher etc.  They specify it as “points with every booking made through Open Table”…

The initial explanation of OpenTable PointsThey say the same in two different places on the site

Further Explanation of OpenTable PointsOnly that’s not actually how it works. I’ve made several bookings – and honoured them by going to the restaurants and having the meals – and earned a grand total of sod-all from them.

Zero Points - Again

So yesterday – having made yet another zero points booking – I got in touch with them, asking how they justified saying “Every booking gets points” when it was so blatantly untrue.

Initially they came back saying “Oh, that’s only for bookings directly through OpenTable, not for when you’ve come through from another site”. So I tried another booking for the same restaurant, but direct through the site. Lo and behold, still zero points. So I got back in touch, and basically said “Bullshit“, with added screenshots and history to show the progress.

I’ve now had a further reply that can be summed up as “Oh shit. Yeah, there’s been a problem. We’re looking into it“.

It’ll be interesting to see if things do get fixed. For now, my account has been credited with the missing points, and we’ll see what happens with the upcoming bookings as well (the next one is happening this weekend) but at least they’re now aware of the problem.

Resilient – or Not

Over recent weeks, I’ve been having dealings with a number of companies I don’t usually deal with. There’s probably more on those to come, once the issues are sorted, but what’s struck me initially is just how ill-prepared they are for anything going wrong.

I’m not talking (necessarily) at the whole ‘disaster recovery’ level, where the business will die if it doesn’t have backups and a spare data-suite etc. hanging around on the off-chance. This is more at the customer level, but (to my mind) no less important for all that.

In three different cases over the last couple of months, I’ve been promised call-backs from various people, all of which haven’t happened. The excuses differ, but basically come down to “the person who organised that was away and no-one else knew anything about it“.  Now, I get it, stuff happens: people go on leave, get ill, or change jobs. (And sometimes all three) But that lack of handover, lack of communication, lack of back-up procedures and so on, is a worry.

What would have happened if – for example – I were a customer, wanting a quote or whatever, and expecting a response that doesn’t happen? Or when complaints are waiting to be handled, because the only person who knows about it has chuffed off somewhere?

For my own business and work, I make sure my end client always has access to a copy of the stuff I’m writing and doing. They get to see what’s changed, and can see that work’s being done, even if not necessarily the details and the ins-and-outs of the code. But they have access – so that if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, or go off with some kind of long-term illness (or any of the other options) then they can carry on. I don’t kill their businesses by being unwell, or dying.

In this age of technology, it’s not even that difficult. Calendars and emails can be shared, and accessed by colleagues (assuming the procedures are in place) when the owners are away. Out-of-office notifications can be set at the server level by IT if they’re made aware someone’s long-term ill etc., and emails can be auto-forwarded to someone else if the original person leaves.

It’s not at all difficult – but it still seems to be too much effort for any number of companies and organisations to set up. Lowest common denominators, and all that.

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