D4D

Don't get mad - get a shotgun.

Archive for the category “Thoughts”

Squish (Follow On)

This year, I’ve seen a lot of roadkill – as I’ve commented before – which is at least somewhat related to going back to doing a fair amount of driving on fast roads, dual carriageways, motorways and the like.

I don’t mind that too much – although I think it’s quite sad to see it – but there’s something that bugs me about it, which is this.

No matter where the bodies are on the road – including right over by the edge and (particularly on motorways) right in the middle, near the central reservation and safety barrier, right out of the traffic lanes.  Yet within a couple of days, the bodies are flattened, all bones crushed and so on.

It’s not decomposition – OK, it could be, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t happen that fast.

All I can assume is that there’s a certain breed of driver who feel it’s acceptable (or perhaps even amusing, I don’t know) to run over the bodies, even if it means curving out of the lane, towards the crash barrier in order to do so.

And really that just boggles my little mind…

A Lack Of Tolerance

Sometimes I do wonder if it’s a good thing to have this 100% success rate when it comes to interviews. I know it gives me more confidence to not accept shit from workplaces and the like, and makes me less tolerant of bad situations and setups. If I’m not happy, I just start sending out the CV, get interviews, and know I’ll be somewhere else very quickly.

I don’t see the point in hanging on somewhere when I hate it. I know I’ll get something else with very little delay or hassle, so why hang around?

But does that mean that sometimes I’m just not prepared to take the shitty bits? Maybe. I don’t quite know. This year I’ve had some really shite jobs, and moved on from them with alacrity. Will I look back in a year’s time and think “I wish I’d stuck with that one”? I don’t know. I doubt it, to be fair. There have been a couple of occurrences where I have thought that of other roles in the past, with a lot of hindsight and some remoteness from the situation. But very, very rarely.

I’d like to think I’m pretty good at evaluating a workplace (and colleagues) when I’m there. (On a side note, I’d like to be a lot better at evaluating them like that at interview stage, rather than only once I’ve taken on the job. But well, such is life) I’m pretty sure I’m OK with knowing when a place is just going through upheavals, and when it’s actually a bucket of warm shit.

Maybe one day I’ll regret moving on from somewhere I’ve hated. But at the moment I just can’t see that being the case.

Minimum Viable Product

One of the buzzwords in the current (but please God, not much longer) workplace is “Minimum Viable Product“. It basically means “The customer gets what they’ve asked for, and nothing more”.  In other words, “Yeah, fuck it, that’ll do”.

It’s a good concept when a business is starting, when you’re writing the first versions, where it’s a product idea and you don’t know if it’ll work, and/or what’s going to be the popular or desired features. So you write the minimum to launch it, make things work without bells and whistles, and find out what people want. It stops you from diving down the wrong path (and yes, mixed metaphors, live with it) and wasting time that’s valuable, that could be better spent on creating the things people do want.

It’s great for a startup, for a new product.

It’s NOT great in any other eventuality, and particularly not for an established product with customers paying shedloads. It leads to inconsistencies, weird functionality, and general oddities. Buttons disappear, sections are different, and it’s all a bit amateur.  And that’s exactly what we’ve got.

But can you persuade them? Nope. It’s the buzzword, it’s How Things Must Be.

Which just isn’t healthy.

Leisure Mileage

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve covered over a thousand miles just for social stuff.

Last weekend (the Bank Holiday) was notably mental, even by my standards. It involved :

  • Friday. Go to work, come back at lunchtime, drive down to the O2 to see Nine Inch Nails in concert, and drive home.  Home at 1am.
  • Saturday. Drive down to Tunbridge Wells for a friend’s birthday do. Enjoy that, not drink much, then think “sod it” and drive home at the end of the night rather than sleeping in a tent. Home at 1.30ish.
  • Sunday. See the parents for a fleeting visit, just so we all know that each other is alive.
  • Monday. Drive over to Brentwood to meet up with friends. Drive home.

All told, that little lot amassed some 750 miles – and meant I travelled the same section of M25 (from M1 round to Dartford Crossing, or thereabouts) no less than three times in four days..  And then a meeting on the Tuesday down in Hampshire.

This weekend is a little bit calmer, but still consists of

  • Friday. Normal work travel, cinema in the evening, then home.
  • Saturday. Into Milton Keynes, collect new glasses and do some other domestic tat. Then drive down to Somerset for a house-warming thing, stopping off at Bristol to collect a couple of train-travellers and get them there too
  • Sunday. Come back. (Unsure yet whether that’ll also be via Bristol or not)
  • Monday. New job, new office, similar commute to the last month.

And next weekend involves a trip into London to meet up with friends and visit a couple of galleries with exhibitions I want to see.

I must be bloody barmy…

The Devil in the Details – Lloyds

Following on from yesterday’s post about Nissan’s dodgy advertising, maths and small-print, the other ad currently incurring my ire is from Lloyds Bank, advertising their new “Club Lloyds” current account.

Now, while I think that clubbing Lloyds would be a fantastic idea, that isn’t the thing with this new account.  Here’s the ad…

And again, here’s that small-print, while they’re bleating on about how great it is to have an account paying 4% interest…

Pay two separate monthly Direct Debits to earn variable tiered monthly interest. 4.0% AER (3.93% Gross) on balances between £4,000 and £5,000. Lower rates apply for lower tiers

So yep – that 4% interest ONLY applies if you keep more than £4,000 in your current account – but below £5,000. And if we look at that Club Lloyds webpage, what do we find? (I’m going to paraphrase, but you can look for yourself)

  • Balances from £1 – £1,999.99 – 1% interest
  • £2,000 to £3,999.99 – 2% interest
  • £4,000 to £5,000 – 4% interest (and note how that band is half the size of the other two)

And right at the bottom of the explanation?

We don’t pay interest on amounts over £5,000.

Yep – no interest at all if you’ve got over the £5,000 in there.

Fuck you, Lloyds.

The Devil in the Details – Nissan

As regular readers will know, I have a really bad habit of reading the small print. (I say ‘really bad’ although it’s not – anyone who doesn’t deserves everything they get. It’s just ‘really bad’ from the advertiser’s perspective)  There’s two ads doing the rounds at the moment that annoy me, so you know what? You get two posts out of it.  Lucky you.

The first (which arrived in my inbox just now, and motivated me to write it) was for a leasing arrangement on a new car – a Nissan Leaf, if anyone cares.

The deal offered is this :

The 100% electric New Nissan LEAF Visia Flex FROM ONLY £199 A MONTH*
WITH A £3,250 ADVANCE RENTAL CONTRIBUTION

OK, so they mention that “Advance Rental Contribution” (which is a deposit, surely?) right at the start, and already it’s skewing the figures. But then we get to the bottom, and the small print…

Finance is available subject to status on eligible new vehicles registered between 01/04/14 and 30/06/14 in the UK to persons aged 18 or over. Rental stated is for Nissan lease. Advance rental of £5,750 (includes £3,250 Advance Rental Contribution) followed by 48 monthly rentals of £199 a month and final rental of £6,201.

Hang on – £5,750 upfront? That’s another £2,500, on top of the “Advance Rental Contribution” – where has it come from, and what’s it for? Even if you take out the first month’s £199, that’s still £2,300 unexplained.  Fucking hell.

All told – with all those amounts listed, that comes to £21,503. For a poxy Nissan Leaf.

But then it gets better…  (Sorry, “better”)

Once you have paid the final rental you can keep using the car by paying an annual rental of £50 + VAT; if you choose Nissan lease then you will never own the car.

As well as entering in to a lease agreement for the vehicle, you will need to enter in to a separate lease agreement for the battery. Monthly price shown includes the on-going monthly battery lease charge of £70.

Now they’re just taking the piss, surely ? So even when you’ve stumped up your £21,503 – sorry, £21,563 including that little final ‘annual rental’ charge, then you will *still* be paying £70 a month for the fucking batteries?

Up yours, Nissan.

Location Fixation

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been thinking a lot about location – where I live, where I work, where I want to live, all that. I’ve been in the current house for two years now, and I know I’m getting a bit twitchy.

The current tenancy doesn’t expire ’til November though – due to an initial six-month one, followed by 12-month ones. As a result, I’ve had plenty of time to think about it, look at the pros and cons, and – I think – I’ve now pretty much made a decision.

As has been noted on many occasions, I’m not all that good with permanence – I like change, embrace it even. It suits me. So two years in the same place is enough to make me twitchy, to start to feel that itch in the back of my skull.

It’s not too bad at the moment though. I’ve certainly had it far, far worse than this. If I were still in the same job as well, the options would be different – I’d be needing to move on in both cases. As it is, I’ve been back on the contracting since July, and it’s kept things decently varied – which means the house side of things can relax a wee bit.

There are places I’d like to move to, some new locations and some old. (Or at least close enough to qualify as revisits) They’re more about reflecting how much life has changed in the last few years, most particularly the ability to drive, which opens up whole new vistas.

For example, I’d like to go back to the North-West, live around the Peak district somewhere. I wouldn’t live in Manchester itself again, but there’s loads of places around it that I really like. It’s still a front-runner when the move does happen.  The same applies for the South Coast, and Dorset in particular. It’s an area I love, but didn’t really get to appreciate as much as I could’ve done, because I didn’t drive. So yes, that’s also a front-runner.

There’s other places too. A revisit to Bath and/or Bristol wouldn’t be out of the question – particularly when not combined with an insane commute, ideally – and there’s new locations too. I’d consider most places, but Nottingham and Derby have always been good to me, and there’s a whole heap of other places. (Plus a long-standing idea to sod off to somewhere like Cork)

However, right now there’s also a bigger plan in place. Rebuilding after the bankruptcy, seeing what comes next, as well as looking at work and finances and what the hell I want to do/be when I grow up. There’s ideas on that score, but I need to have the time and inclination to do something about them. Time I’ve got. Inclination? Less so, right now. But that’s a post for another day.

I could move, sure. But practicality-wise, where I am right now is pretty much perfect for me right now. It’s not a long-term location, but for now it’s good. I’ve got all the transport links I need – my commuting radius for work covers an insane amount of miles. It makes my contractor life a lot easier. Location isn’t in many (if any) of those calculations I have to do. For me, right now, that’s an important factor, and outweighs pretty much everything else.

Financially, it’s easy. If I move North then the odds are that my rent would drop. But for where I am, for what I’ve got right now, I couldn’t do much better. I’d like some extra space, an extra room or two – but it’s not something that’s necessary right now either.

All told, while I would kind-of like to move, I don’t need to move. And staying put has its advantages too – location, money, blah blah.

That means that – in the lack of a good reason for moving other than “But I want to” – I’ve decided I’m going to plan to stay where I am for the next eighteen months. The six months from now for the current tenancy, and then extend it by another twelve.

Of course, the landlord might decide to sell up or something, or work may throw up something that makes me have to move. Neither option is likely, but they could happen. But short of those kind of eventualities, I’m going to face up to things, and not move.

By that time – November 2015 – I’ll have been in this place for three and a half years. Then I think it’ll be time to move on – or at least move up. If my work is still keeping me based in a way that the current location is still OK then I’ll just look at moving to a bigger place locally. If things change or work isn’t a limitation (I can work from pretty much anywhere, after all) then it might be a big location change too. We’ll see.

Post Navigation