Raising Rants to the Level of the Professional

Hectic (Again)

This last week has been (yet again) pretty hectic and chaotic.

Since Saturday’s half-marathon walk, I’ve been…

  • out for an Oktoberfest meal with friends on Saturday night
  • into London again on Sunday for a meal in the evening at Helene Darroze (with an added 5 miles of walking)
  • then cinema on Monday evening to see “The Accountant
  • into London on Tuesday evening to see “No Man’s Land” at Wyndham’s Theatre, starring Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen
  • cinema on Wednesday evening to see “Dr Strange

Today is slightly quieter, Friday I’m in Chesham, and then for the weekend I’m up in Manchester.

I must be bloody barmy.



A while back, I laid out one of my main targets for next year, to do the Shine Nightwalk Marathon. And because of that, I also set myself the “lesser” challenge of walking a half-marathon, as a proof that I was at least capable of it.

I wanted to prove – as much to myself as to anyone else – that I could walk that 13.1 miles in a reasonable time, not fall apart by doing so (or afterwards) and really just that it was doable.  I also wanted to be get a rough outline of how long it would take, to give myself a feasible target time come September.

Yesterday, with sod-all planning or training, I went down to London (might as well do the trial in the same kind of place as the actual event, after all) and did it.

13.1 Miles of prime London walkingIt wasn’t as fast as I’d hoped for, but at the same time it was about what I expected. There’s still stuff to be done, and I’ll be working on all of it – more walks etc., better distances and better times – but for a first attempt, I’m pleased with how it went.

All told, I ended up walking about 15 miles in the end – as the map shows, the 13.1 miles took me so far, but I’d mis-judged things a bit, as I’d aimed for it be a lot closer to my destination at Euston station. Instead, I was a couple of miles away, so ended up still walking those miles back to Euston as well. (As has been said before, I’m a bloody idiot on occasion)

I’m less sure now that I’ll be able to do it in my intended six hour target, but an eight-hour will be certainly be doable, with seven being (I think) realistic, and I’ll be happy with that, although I’ll continue to aim towards the lower times and see how I do.  I slowed down significantly after about 8 or 9 miles, which was partly being tired, but also partly being held up by lots of slow-moving people.

I hurt a lot less than expected afterwards, too. Sore feet and some muscle aching in my legs, but that’s about it.

I’m pleased that I’ve done it, and that I’ve proved to myself I can do the full thing. I know the full thing is still double that distance, and that it’s still a big thing to complete, but I do feel more confident now that it’s something I can do.

Booked in Advance

Considering that I’m planning on a quieter year in 2017 without quite so many busy weekends, is it a good or bad thing that I’ve already got two things booked in for September 2017?

And of course, me being me, they’re both on the same weekend.

I suspect I may just be an irredeemable idiot.

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.

EE’s broken payments

As I wrote yesterday, I ended up having some major issues with the cottage’s already-installed 3G Dongle through EE.

Basically, it’s either not been used for a while, or the previous people ran the account into the ground – there’s absolutely no credit or data available on it.  That’s OK, you can connect to EE still and add a credit.  Or at least you should be able to.

Basically, the device is set up so that it can still connect to ee.co.uk , and that doesn’t come out of the data allowance. All’s well and good. But. Ah, but.

The thing is, when it comes to processing payments, the processing isn’t all done on ee.co.uk.  It also goes off to get the 3D secure (also known as “Verified by Visa” or “Mastercard [something]“) from the relevant bank.  Only that’s from a different (and thus not-allowed) domain outside of EE, and because there’s no data allowance, the connection is refused, and the credit transaction fails.

All you get to see on screen is “An error occurred” with “Try again”.  Which is… unhelpful.

What’s more unhelpful is that EE’s transaction system has pre-authorised the amount you’ve topped up by. So the funds are then locked by your bank. They’ll be released when the transaction doesn’t complete – but it can take two to three working weeks for that to happen, because banks are paranoid and slow and shit.  And EE are just shit, because their failed transaction doesn’t release those funds.

Even better, you can’t then offer feedback or contact EE. Because – yes! – all the online feedback is done through a third party, and goes off to a different domain.

So you’re basically left with no data, no top-up, locked funds, and no way to contact EE to tell them so.

Even worse, I suspect it’s only because I’m a techie that I understand it this much – for Joe Public it’d just be “it’s broken, and EE are shit”.  (Which isn’t something I could argue with either, but at least I can understand why it’s broken!)  It’s a simple scenario, but one I’m willing to bet they’ve never tested, going on the assumption that people would top up before they ran out completely, etc. etc.

I’ve written to them to explain the same situation, so it’ll be interesting to see what they come back with (if anything)

Mobile and Connected

This weekend, I’m away in Dorset, hoping to spend some time relaxing and writing, getting some of the stuff out of my head that’s been resident for way too long.

I’ve been to the particular place I’m staying before, and knew they had a semblance of internet connection (albeit through a 3G Dongle thingy) but when I got here, I found it’s not working properly. (It’s on EE, and because they’re shitheads, there are mega-issues when there’s no remaining data on the device. That’s a post for another day)

So anyway, while I’m wanting quiet, I do still need connection for a range of things. As a result, I went into the nearest town, and bought a MiFi device of my own which turns out to be working pretty well. Considering the location (in a valley, with next-to-sod-all anywhere nearby) I’ve got enough of a 3G signal (blipping up and down to a single bar of 4G) to keep things connected and fine.

It’s meant that as well as doing some writing, I’ve also been able to do some outstanding work stuff that needed completing, and all that usual stuff.

Indeed, it’s doing well enough here that I’ll continue using it, and be interested to see how it works in other places I go to over the next few months. Ain’t progress/technology interesting?

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.

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