Category Archives: Geeky

Sequential

Over the last week, I’ve had two significant (to me) numbers come up on the car’s odometer.  I missed one, and managed to capture the other.

So the one I got was this

And the one I missed was (the even better) 141414 . That’s annoying, because obviously it’ll be another 10,000-ish miles before I even get a chance on that one.

I know these things are silly, but they amuse me along the way.

Zapper

Back at the start of July, I finally caved and bought one of the big bug-zappers, to see how it worked out in comparison to the other devices I’d purchased in previous years that proved to be far less successful.

And I have to say, I’ve been really pleased with it – it’s not 100% perfect, but that’s mainly because flies and bugs are stupid, and don’t just dive straight into the zapper.  However, it’s been a lot more successful in its body-count than any of the other devices.

Even better, it’s been pretty good (surprisingly so, in fact) on power – considering how much it’s been in use, I think it’s added a pound or two to the summer’s bill, but that’s it.

Really, the only downside for it is that it’s somewhat… explosive. The fly/moth bits can pop outside the case/grille of the zapper, so I’ve had to use the hoover a couple of times to just clean up the bits.   And sometimes the zapping itself is noisy – occasionially, the bugs get caught on the wires, and sit buzzing away for a surprisingly long period of time.  Even the usual zaps can sometimes be loud and sudden, if it’s been quiet for a while beforehand.

Regardless though, it’s been a good buy. I hope I won’t need it as much between now and next Spring, but we’ll see.

The Joy of Tech

Yesterday, while doing a quick shop on the way to work, I suddenly realised I’d left my wallet at home. Bugger.

I was just about prepared to take everything back to its shelves/locations, when it occurred to me that actually I was still OK – I had my phone with me still. That meant I’d got the ability to make a contactless payment – and because I’d also added the details of my Monzo card/account to the phone, it meant I had everything I needed.

It’s pretty amazing, the way these things have now become so much more mainstream than they were ten years ago, or even five.  Since I got the Monzo card eighteen months ago (it’s the only one I have that also connects into my ApplePay account on the phone) I’ve stopped carrying cash except for specific occasions – for example, the car wash I use still only takes cash.

I still prefer to carry physical cards (hence usually having a wallet) but it was still interesting to realise that forgetting it is no longer the “Oh shit!” moment it used to be. (So long as I remember my phone, and that I can use it, anyway)

Ain’t progress grand?

Weirdly Consistent

When I moved here six-and-a-half years ago (and yes, that does still freak me out) I got a Cineworld Unlimited card, so I could see as many films as I wanted to.  It’s a decent deal, less than £20 a month, so as long as you see more than one film per month, it’s paid for itself.

Because I’m a geek, I also started listing what I’d seen, with a separate sheet per year.

And it seems like I’m really quite consistent in how many films I see each year – not through any plan or schedule, it’s just the way it’s worked out.

The totals are

  • 2012 – 26 films (although that’s in under six months, as I didn’t get the card ’til July/August)
  • 2013 – 61 films
  • 2014 – 64 films
  • 2015 – 64 films
  • 2016 – 54 films
  • 2017 – 66 films

And so far this year I’m on… 62, with a couple of weeks to go.

Each year I think I’ll up my quality control a bit and see fewer films (when you’re not paying anything to see them, it’s remarkably easy to just say “Yeah, fuck it, I’ll give that a go”)  And yet it all ends up being much of a muchness.

It’s odd, but I’m not going to complain. At least I know I’m getting value for money out of my Unlimited card.  (It’s an outlay per year of £215 all told – so each film is costing me an average of £3.30, which is one fuck of a lot cheaper than the £10-ish for a single ticket!)

Dickhead

There are times where (as many people already know) I’m an absolute dickhead. This is the (fairly short) tale of one of those times.

One of the reasons I wanted to visit Toronto (which I finally did earlier this year) was because I’ve been a fan of a band called the Cowboy Junkies (who I’ve written about several times, and saw twice in November) for a very long time – since the first time I heard their “Trinity Sessions” album, in fact.  The Trinity Sessions was an album that was all recorded at the Holy Trinity church in Toronto, with only one ambisonic microphone to pick up all the voices and instruments.  It’s one of my all-time favourite albums.  However, I’d never seen a picture of the church. (This is relevant)

Then, on the anniversary of the recording of Trinity Sessions, they put a photo on their Facebook page of the church

And I thought “I recognise that church“. It turns out we’d gone in and visited it while we were in Toronto, and I hadn’t even realised it was the same place.  Indeed, we only went in because it looked interesting (and was hidden away down a little side-street, so we’d only glimpsed the place and its architecture) and it turned out to be a great little find, because it’s beautiful inside, as well as having an absolutely massive organ. (Fnarr)  And I knew it was called the Holy Trinity church. I just hadn’t connected the two.

So it took me another six months to realise that I’d actually been in the place, despite all the clues that were there.

And that, in this case, is why I’m a dickhead.

Upgraded

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.

Typos

Note 1 : Owing to Muphry’s Law , there will likely be at least one typo in this post.

Note 2 : It may also induce eye-crossing rage/despair in some.

Anyway – this week I’ve had two emails containing images that include typos (or just piss off my pedantry) The first came from Cotton Traders.

For fuck’s sake

Seriously, how the hell does that make it through umpteen proof-readers, editors, and marketing twerds? #rage

The second was a promo for a novel, and I’ve trimmed it down to just the bit that grated on me.

This one is a bit more pedantic – but it grinds my gears anyway.  “A prickly woman” is fine. But crossing out the “Prickly” makes it “A Independent Woman” – which isn’t right.  Find another word for “prickly” (which they’ve chosen because the title of the book is “The Cactus”) that starts with a vowel, or a synonym for independent that starts with a consonant.  Then it works. And wouldn’t annoy pedants.

Anyway, now I’ve shared my irritation. You’re welcome.