When the revolution comes, my friends...

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.

An Expensive Week – finale

Collecting the new (to me) Kia Ceed yesterday, it made me think again about how much things have changed over the last few years. Back when I had to get the Saab, I was mid-bankruptcy, and the available funds were super-tight.  I got lucky with the Saab – very lucky, in fact – and in some ways I needed to get that lucky.

This time round, while things haven’t been perfect, I’ve been able to do much better. I’ve moved a fixed amount from savings to bank account, and worked within that larger-but-not-huge budget to get the Kia. I could’ve taken out more, but didn’t want to drain the savings entirely. I could’ve spent more from the budget, not bothered with the maintenance/parts warranty. I didn’t want to, but I could’ve done. I had options.

I hope that the Kia will last me a couple of years. I’ll spend that time rebuilding savings and so on, and hopefully be in a better place again when it comes times to replace it. By then I should be OK to look at sorting out a finance agreement, rather than paying outright, which will be another step in the rebuilding process.

A lot has changed in the three-and-a-half years I’ve had the Saab. A lot more will change during the expected lifetime of the new one. And that’s nothing but good.

An Expensive Week – Part Two

Following on from the whole car kerfuffle last week, I’ve made a decision – it’s time to get rid of the Saab. It’s been decidedly iffy this year, and with the latest issue, I just can’t rely on it when I need to. I’ve still got a thousand-ish miles to do by the end of this month, let alone the stuff for the rest of the year, so need something I can trust will get me from A to B without the need for recovery, garages and the like.  Basically, that’s it.

The Saab no longer fits that bill, so it’s time for it to go.  I know I still won’t qualify for a car finance agreement etc., so it’s been a case of sorting out a transfer of funds from the savings account. It means a fixed budget, and see what fits that bill and those funds.

I spent some of the weekend looking at new (to me) cars, and have one sorted, to be collected on Wednesday.

It’s a diesel Kia Ceed, so fairly crap. But it’s only 70,000 miles, and came in well under budget. I’ve wangled a service and a year’s MOT out of the dealer, as well as a parts guarantee for a year (or 20,000 miles, whichever comes sooner)  The deposit has been paid with a credit card, which covers me under Section75 for the full price of the car, should it turn out to be a lemon. (That’s something I didn’t know ’til recently – so long as you pay more than £100 on a credit card, S75 covers the whole amount, not just whatever was paid by the card) In short, I’m as covered as it’s possible to be.

In all, it’s not a bad deal. The price is good, and having checked further since, I reckon it’s going to be saving me about £100 per month. Yeah, per month.  The road tax is £30 for the year, rather than the £25 a month I was paying for the Saab. (It fell just outside the newer emissions regulations, which I didn’t know at the time I got it) and the insurance is £30 less a month.  With the reduction in fuel costs as well – diesel vs. petrol, and so on – it stands to be a significant saving.

Then there’s what I got for the Saab – I took that back to the Saab garage on Monday, transferred the ownership, and basically got back what I initially paid for it. It’s still cost me money over the three years, but it’s nowhere near as bad as it could have been.

I’ll see how things go with the new car – I’m not expecting lots from it, just to be reliable and to do what it should. It’s going to have a busy couple of weeks once I’ve got it, including longer runs to Dorset and Manchester, so by the end of the month I’ll know more about how it fits my requirements, and hopefully that it’s generally reliable.

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