D4D

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Archive for the category “Business”

Phoneless

Via an article on Raptitude ( The Simple Joy of “No Phones Allowed”) I came across a company called Yondr whose idea/offering seems simple and pretty brilliant.

Basically, they create “phoneless areas” for concerts (as well as other events, but mainly concerts) by locking them away.  The smart bit is that they’re not stockpiled somewhere (which would be way too tempting for thieves etc.) Instead, they’re put in a pouch that locks, and the phone stays with the owner.

If the phone is really needed, there are unlock-stations outside the concert area, so the bag can be unlocked and the phone used.

But – as per the article, and as per my own experience – people in general are fucking lazy, and even that extra effort of moving twenty yards to unlock the phone to use it is more than most can be bothered to do. And so those people stay in place, watch the concert (or whatever) and aren’t distracted by their phones.

I’ve griped (on several occasions) about concerts now where more people seem to be filming the gig through their phones than actually watching it and how distracting that is for those who actually want to see the performance (although Yondr won’t fix the other issues mentioned there of people constantly chatting to their mates while the show is on, or keep going to the bar etc.)  and this seems like a really good way of reducing that desire.

Yondr don’t say how much their service costs to install – I assume it’s not going to be cheap – but I really do hope it’s something that both venues and artists support and promote.  I know I’d be more likely to go to a gig/venue that was ‘phones-free’…

2018/19 – What’s the Plan?

As has become traditional round here, it’s time for a list of what I’m aiming for and hoping to do in the coming year.  Some will be familiar (because I keep starting and not finishing) but I’m also hoping to get rid of a couple that never really happen, and maybe add a couple to replace them.

  1. Keep on working on losing weight.
    This one is a long-term thing, and one I’ve written about before. For me, it’s a struggle – I’ve worked with a number of resources this year so far, and feel better-informed than I was, but there’s still a long way to go. If nothing else, this year so far has eliminated a lot of options and bullshit.
  2. Keep on improving fitness/health
    Linked to losing weight, I’ve had more success with this one over the last 12 months, but there’s still stuff to do and improve.
  3. Continue doing the stuff I enjoy
    Various bits here – but basically, do stuff I want to.  Not as a “fear of missing out” (“FOMO”) thing, but just as in “I really want to see/do [x]” and doing so.  (This is, of course, in direct contrast to ‘doing less’ in the list below, so it’s a bit of a balancing act!)
  4. Be more sociable
    I’ve realised this year that I’ve been utterly crap with seeing friends – I’ve been doing a lot of stuff, but at the same time it hasn’t been overly sociable, hasn’t involved going to see friends at all.  And that needs sorting.

I’m getting rid of some of the longer-running goals. They’re still things I want to work on – I’m not giving up on the plans, just on the having them as goals – but it affects me more when I see my ongoing failure to complete/do/start them year on year.

So I’ll note them here as reminders, but they’re not part of the main “What I’m aiming for” list. See if it works better for me as advisories, rather than as targets/goals.  And those reminders are…

  • Writing
    I want to do more writing – I’ve got the ideas, but it’s finding the time, inclination and drive to get them actually going. I hope to schedule more in – I’ve also invested in some tools that should allow me to do so – but we’ll see.
  • Business plans
    As with the writing, I’ve got the ideas, but need to allocate time and energy to getting them to work.  In some cases I’m frustrated by time, in others by funding for getting them how I want them. We’ll just have to see how things go.
  • Doing Less
    This is kind-of related to the above two – if I could sort my brain out so that ‘doing less’ was better, then I’d hopefully have more time to spend on the writing and business ideas.
  • Plan Better
    And the final one, which controls all of the others – make better plans, notes, and be better organised.

Moving Office

As well as all the other stuff I was doing last week, I also moved office. As you do.  Because of course life wasn’t already busy enough, and all that.

As it was, it wasn’t that much of a slog – I’ve stayed in the same building, but moved three floors down, and to the other end. So why move?

Basically, the previous office (which I moved to about a year ago) suffered from the absolutely shitty combination of ridiculously thin stud walls, and being surrounded by excessively noisy and selfish people.  It was tolerable for a short(ish) while, but all told it conspired to end up pissing me off.

Of the three companies around my office, I had one lot who simply operated at maximum volume all the time, and who I could hear through the ‘wall’ all day every day.  I had one lot who weren’t too bad, but were a counselling organisation so you’d sometimes be able to hear people breaking down and crying etc. in the middle of a session.  And the final lot were just incapable of closing their door, so again I could hear everything that they did.  (And if I returned the compliment and left my door open with the radio on, would complain that I was disturbing them, while paying absolutely no heed to the fact they were doing the same consistently)

There were other bits too that ended up pissing me off – the way others would turn all the lights on, but be incapable of then turning them off again (I suspect they had partners at home who just followed them around turning stuff off, as they were so incapable of doing so) and leaving the communal toilets either stuffed full of bog roll, or completely unflushed – and doing so Every. Fucking. Day.

So all told it just got to be too much, and I wasn’t enjoying going to work.  I looked at offices in other places (particularly with the added issues of the commute for the next two-ish years)  However, none of the ones I looked at had the convenience of location and facilities around, and all seemed to be at least three times as expensive as where I currently am.

However, I ended up talking about that with one of the directors of the foundation that owns the current building, and it turned out that a different unit was just becoming available. Ideal. Quieter end of the building, better walls, and just generally an improvement.

Non-Stop

This last week has been (and continues to be) pretty non-stop, even by my standards. It’s been a weird mix of work, social, and work-related social.

I’m still trying to calm things down – and weirdly, at the moment my weekends seem to be freer than my weekdays, so I suppose that’s some kind of progress? But as usual, something has to give – and this time it’s been writing on D4D™.

I’m aiming to find a better balance of things, but right now it’s all on some kind of weird mutant seesaw/roundabout combination, and figuring out the physics of that is pretty tiring in and of itself.

I’ll get there, though.

Technical Dipshittery

Yesterday, I got a text message from O2, telling me that they were going to be closing their TuGo app (an app that allows phone calls to be made/received through my wifi connection, when the mobile phone signal is bobbins) at the end of November.  It gave some options for enabling better alternatives, including their ‘4G & WiFi Calling’ through a range of phones, so it will no longer need a separate app.

That’s all well and good – and TuGo has always been a bag of shite anyway.  So I started to go through the process, as ‘detailed’ by O2 of how to get it all set up on my phone.

Except that once I’d enabled it on my phone (or tried to) it told me I needed to do it via the O2 website, to activate it on my account. Bit of a pain in the arse, but OK, let’s get it done.

Oh.

The page detailed in the message doesn’t actually contain the information necessary. I can see a link explaining how great the 4G and Wifi Calling is, but nothing to activate it.

So, I start up a LiveChat with one of their Tech Gurus, who tell me that it’s still showing I’ve got Tu connected to my account, and that needs to be removed before I can do anything. No worries though, they’ll sort it out.  Give it about half an hour, reboot the phone, it’ll be done.

Except it wasn’t.

So I got back in touch with O2, this time by phone instead of LiveChat. Oh dear, oh dear.

I (eventually) got through to another of their Tech Gurus, who again says that Tu is still connected to my account, and that I have to uninstall the TuGo app on my phone in order to get rid of the connection. No idea why the previous tech person said they could do it, that’s not possible, it can only be done from your phone, sir.

So I uninstall the app, in the usual way.  Oh no, sir, you haven’t uninstalled it. You’ll need to go back to the app store, reinstall the app so you can uninstall it. (Eh? What?)  Yes, you’ll need to reinstall the app – you didn’t uninstall it, “you just deleted the little picture on your phone”.  That’s a direct quote. From a Tech “Guru”. Who doesn’t appear to even know the word “icon”.

So. Let’s see how this goes.  Phone call goes to speakerphone, so I can go through the process while the “Guru” is still on the call, and telling me what I need to do.  I reinstall the app – and in order to get in to it, I have to rebuild the connection and association with my number – because uninstalling the app has got rid of all that information . Which is exactly as it should be.

I rebuild the connection, then go into the app’s Settings and Delete the Account.  The Guru says “Oh there we go, I can see you’ve now uninstalled the app”. No, I haven’t, I’ve deleted the account. The app is still installed, I can see it.  “No, it’s uninstalled”

All the way through the call, that “Guru” couldn’t tell the difference between “Delete the Account/Connection” and “Uninstall the App”.

It’s resulted in two further interactions with layers of O2 management, telling them the problems, fixing the issues, and generally getting it more sorted.

And all the way through this, all it would have taken was for that “My Device” webpage saying “You’ve still got an active connection to TuGo – you need to remove that before we can progress. Here’s how.”  That would’ve fixed everything, and I wouldn’t have needed to speak to O2 at all, let alone a total of four times.

Sometimes I just despair of people, and companies.

King of the Air

Today, the news is full of the ‘shocking’ news of Monarch Airlines ceasing to trade.  I’m more surprised that anyone’s surprised, to be honest.

Now OK, Monarch are (semi) local to me, I know people who work(ed) there – but no-one who was in key positions, finance etc.  However, it’s no shock to me at all that they’ve gone under – in many ways I’ve been more surprised that they’ve gone on as long as they have.

The Wikipedia page contains a summary of it – but it’s stuff I was aware of anyway, having watched the news and so on.

Three years ago, they were nearly bankrupt. They got a last-minute bailout/buyout by Greybull Capital, which was all that allowed them to keep trading. Three years ago.

This time last year, rumours came up about their potential bankruptcy. They got a last-minute extension to their ATOL licence (similar to the activities of last weekend) after another £160-odd million fund injection from Greybull and other investors.

Between those warnings, the drop in customers in markets that were key to them (tourism to Tunisia and Egypt, primarily) and other competition, and the general atmosphere post-Brexit, it was no surprise at all.  I fully expect a couple of others to collapse as well.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a shitty situation – for the people who work there, and for the passengers and customers who are currently wondering what’s going to happen.  But it still shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Personally, I know that I wouldn’t have booked anything with them, regardless.

Of course, every cloud has a silver lining – I suspect RyanAir are ecstatic about all those extra Monarch pilots and crew suddenly becoming available (and without even needing expensive relocation packages) that can fill the gaps in their current schedule.  Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if RyanAir didn’t aim to buy up a lot of the Monarch stuff – planes, staff, routes etc., and make money off the misfortune of Monarch.

Moving Emails

Over the weekend, I ended up moving a lot of my email processing over to Amazon’s “Workmail” product. So far, it’s gone pretty well, but we’ll see what happens over time.

The email server/service I was using (via a company I do a lot of my hosting with) was generally OK, but had some significant issues which they didn’t appear to be able (or willing) to fix. The main one was that emails with attached files – particularly PDF and Word documents – would occasionally disappear. They wouldn’t bounce back to the sender, and they wouldn’t tell me (the recipient) that something had gone wrong, they’d just disappear with no notice to anyone.

Generally it’s been survivable, but last week there were things for HMRC and others that didn’t make it – things that were, safe to say, bloody important.

So I’ve moved the primary accounts over to Workmail, and it’s been quite smooth.  The setup didn’t take long, and while there were a couple of teething errors when it came to migrating the emails from Old to New, it all worked pretty nicely.  Once I knew what the hell I was doing (and/or looking for) it became even easier/better.

After that, the main ball-ache has been putting the new accounts onto all my devices, and getting everything to syncronise properly again. It’d be nice if you could just push the new account to your devices, but that’s a level of tech that’s above and beyond what we’ve currently got, sadly.

Still, it’s all worked, I’m fully moved over with all my key accounts, and it hasn’t made me want to throw computers through windows. Even that is pretty noteworthy, I think.

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