Last week, I upgraded my internet connection to an “Ultrafast” one – known by BT / Openreach as G.Fast. Apparently they’re slowing down the roll-out of this in favour of full FTTP (Fibre To The Premises) roll-out, but for now it’s the best speed I can get.
G.Fast offers a guaranteed 100Mbps download – and I’ll get compensation if it dips below that – which is amusingly ridiculous. When I moved here six-and-a-bit years ago, I was only just able to get ADSL and a 2Mbps connection. It was painfully slow, although it did enough for the necessary at the time. When FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet) came here, I got it, and went from 2Mbps to 75 overnight. At that point I could do streaming TV and so on with no problem at all. And now I’ve doubled even that. Truly insane.
I wasn’t actually aware that this tech had been installed in my area, but BT sent me a promotional mail about it at the start of November, and I’d dragged my feet on it a bit. But then I got a “Black Friday” promotional letter about it as well, where I could also get it installed for free, for an extra £1 a month on what I pay already. Well OK then.
(As an aside, it’s the only “Black Friday” deal I bothered with at all – and only because it saved me money on a product I was actually interested in)
The engineer came round on Friday to do the installation – it needs some changes at the cabinet, and as it’s still new stuff, they’re doing it with engineers rather than self-install. This had a happy side-effect, in that he also appears to have finally fixed the line problem that’s been plaguing me for more years than I care to mention. (And has cost me the price of an engineer visit on one visit out of the five, because they worded the ‘fix’ badly, but that’s a dead issue now)
Ever since I moved in, the line has been dodgy on occasion, and it’s just got worse over time. The broadband connection has been fine in general – unless I have to make or receive a phone call. At that point the crackles on the line were enough to knock out the broadband connection. BT insisted this wasn’t possible, and that all the options I suggested were Just Wrong. (Because obviously I don’t work for them, so what could I possibly know?) In that time, I’ve had five master sockets, and swapped from ADSL to FTTC for broadband, so I knew it was nothing in the house. It was always either going to be a fault in the line (“Oh no, sir, that’s not possible, more people would be complaining if that were the case”) or in the cabinet itself (also apparently “impossible”)
Anyway, this time the engineer could hear the problem, and tested to find where the problem was. Surprise surprise, it was in the cabinet. So while he was redoing connections for my new broadband, he had a look round the cab, and the terminators on my line (I dunno) in the cab were “worryingly loose, I could just pull them off, didn’t even need pliers“. When he came back to the house, oooh look, what a surprise, no crackle on the line.
So, I’m now working with a 150Mbps download connection, and a lovely crackle-free phone line. All told, bit of a win.
This week, I’ve found myself actually shocked by the news stories about Pret a Manger and their labelling – and more relevantly, the whole story about the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered an allergic reaction to unlabelled sesame in a Pret sandwich.
The inquest into Natasha’s death was this week – she died two years ago – which is why it’s been in the news this week.
It turns out that the UK’s Food Regulations 2014 have an exception that allows freshly handmade, non pre-packaged food to not be individually labelled – which is the loophole that allowed Pret to get away with not labelling each sandwich individually. To me, that’s disgraceful. The loophole was (understandably) intended for small sandwich bars etc. to not be constrained by huge amounts of red tape. It’s not intended for large commercial efforts. (Although of course they’ve taken advantage of it)
Even worse, Natasha isn’t even the first person to have died as a result of this mis-labelling or lack of information.
All told though, two things in the whole sorry story left me utterly gobsmacked and despairing of people and corporations.
The first was how badly the staff on the flight handled Natasha’s allergic reaction. The doctor who attended to her wasn’t made aware of all the equipment on the plane, and also that “because Natasha went into cardiac arrest as the plane was landing, it would have been unsafe to retrieve the defibrillator from the back of the plane, where it was stored, while Natasha was being tended to at the front” (that quote is from the Guardian story) I mean really, for fuck’s sake, how robotic and uncaring do you have to be, to go “Nope, I’m not going to get that, we’ve got to be prepared for landing the plane”?
The second thing – and to me, the worst – is the timescales involved. Pret a Manger knew about this issue when Natasha died. Two years ago. Yet it’s only now, once the coroner has finished the inquest, that they say “We’ll look at changing our labels“. That’s two years where they’ve known about the problem, and have done nothing. I wonder what the reaction would/will be if someone else turns out to have died for the same reason within that time.
I assume there’s been some corporate legal bullshit going on that says that if they changed the labels before the inquest, they’d be acknowledging they were liable, or some such. Thing is, they were – and are – liable. If the labels had been in place, she wouldn’t have taken that sandwich, and wouldn’t have died. How on earth can that be anything other than being responsible for her death?
It seems at the moment like there’s a massive conspiracy going on that makes access from my area to Milton Keynes into an absolute nightmare.
Last month, the Highways Agency started work on the M1 from J13 to 16, installing “smart motorways” stuff, and shoving in a dirty long 50mph speed limit, enforced by average speed cameras. (And there’ll be a post on those some other time) That work is going on ’til March 2022.
Next month, Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes councils are starting the second phase of their joint project to make the A421 dual-carriageway between J13 of the M1 and Milton Keynes. That’s going to have a 40mph limit on it, and will be in place ’til the end of 2020.
So for the next 18 months minimum, the two primary routes into Milton Keynes will be speed-limited and being worked on at the same time.
And then just to top things off, one half of the other primary route (on the other side of Milton Keynes) is undergoing resurfacing work for the next couple of months – which means that my only other primary route is going to be handling all the traffic that should be on that one.
Like I said, it’s all just seeming like either a sinister plot, or a massive organisational clusterfuck. Both of which have the same results, when all’s said and done.
While driving down to London yesterday (of which more in another post) my car started to make an odd noise. Primarily a whining noise when under acceleration, and generally not all that well.
I called my usual garage, told them what was happening, and got told “Oh, first time we can look at it will be September 3rd”. (The usual “fob off the customer” approach that they’ve excelled at so many times) So instead I contacted the other dealership in the area – part of the same group, but run as a separate entity – and the person there made noises of “Oooh, that’s not good”, and asked if I could bring it in the next day (today)
I did so, and as I’d suspected, the turbo is on its way out. Bollocks.
So the car’s booked in for the work – not cheap, but less than getting a replacement vehicle – and I’ve got a replacement vehicle while they do it.
So far, the new dealership looks really promising – the service department have been great so far, and the deal I’ve got from them has been positive. It may be that they turn out to be shite – but if not, I’ve got other options.
It’s surprising to see the difference between the two dealerships – the previous/main one (as I’ve mentioned before) consists of a patronising bunch of fuckknuckles. They seem so complacent about everything, and their idea of customer service appears to be to make the customer feel like a fuckwit.
What they’ve never understood – and the new place appears to – is that the service department is just as much of a sales tool as the actual cars in the showroom. If I’m being treated like crap by the service department with the current vehicle, what on earth would make me buy another car of the same make, and lock myself into further years of being treated like crap?
That’s what the new one seems to understand – that this is the way to keep people coming back. It’s what the Saab garage I used with the previous car understood – and so did the Ford one before that.
We’ll see what happens now, and how things go after the repair. I’m hoping that this time won’t have the same knock-on after-effects that it did when the same thing happened on the Saab. (Although this time it’ll also help that the turbo was just on the way out, rather than having gone pop when travelling at speed, as the Saab one did!)
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the dumb-ass “Would you recommend this hospital to your friends and family” survey that I received. Between here and Facebook, I received a number of comments from friends saying “Yeah, we keep getting those as well”.
So I complained to the hospital about it, and how stupid it was as a question, and how ill-thought-out it was.
Turns out, this question is that this is the “Friends and Family Test“, which is the NHS’ major/primary metric on what people think of their hospital visit.
According to the NHS, it’s “an important feedback tool that supports the fundamental principle that people who use NHS services should have the opportunity to provide feedback on their experience. Listening to the views of patients and staff helps identify what is working well, what can be improved and how.“
Of course, that’s still garbage, because the question has absolutely nothing to do with what can be improved, or how the actual visit/appointment was. So it’s all a bit pointless.
So it’s worth knowing that if you are someone who gets a lot of these surveys, you can talk to the PALS department of your hospital and get taken off the survey list.
And finally, if you think it’s a dumb-ass question and a pointless survey, it’s worth registering a complaint with the hospital about the survey. The only way they’re going to learn it’s shit is if enough people keep telling them it’s shit.
Yesterday, I had a (non-urgent, outpatients) appointment at my local hospital. All went well, and I’ll be returning occasionally over the next few months. Which is all as expected.
What was less expected was a text message today from the hospital, containing a “Patient Satisfaction” survey.
The first question? “Would you recommend this hospital to your friends and family?“, and a set of five options for the likelihood of doing such a thing.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I really don’t recommend that my friends or family visit a hospital. Certainly when none of them are even in that hospital’s catchment area.
What kind of cretin comes up with this shit? Even more relevantly, what kind of cretin approves this shit?
And if I’d been – for example – visiting the Oncology department (I wasn’t) for treatment, I wonder if I would have received the same survey?
Every so often, I decide to play the role of “responsible human being”. Today, it turned out, was one of those days.
When I got in to work, I could see that three cars in the vicinity had been broken into (or at least had their windows smashed) so opted to do the ‘responsible human’ thing, and called 101 – the UK Police’s non-emergency number. No point in doing an emergency 999, as no-one else was visible, and the damages could’ve happened any time overnight.
So 101 it was. And while I get that it’s for non-urgent stuff and so on, but man alive, what an absolute faff.
The call goes through, and starts off with “Which police force do you require?”. (Probably because I called on my mobile – calling from a landline would’ve localised things. I assume) That’s fine, if you know who you need to speak to. But if I hadn’t known that Milton Keynes is covered by Thames Valley Police, I’d have been knackered from stage one.
Then we go on to a recorded message from the chief of Thames Valley. Why? No idea. I assume it’s part of the script of 101 – I’ve heard similar on other calls to different forces – but it seems (to me) to be utterly pointless.
And then we get the voice-response asking what you want to do. If you know the name/number you want to speak to, type it now, or press [whatever] to report a crime.
And then we get some piece of crap recorded message about victim support.
And finally, finally, when all that’s done, I finally spoke to someone – who was helpful, and made sense. But what a horrific fucking faff in order to do something I didn’t even need to.
All told, it certainly makes it easy to see why people prefer to call 999, even for non-emergency stuff. At least the response to it is quicker, and gets rid of all that recorded bullshit.