D4D

When the revolution comes, my friends...

Archive for the category “Getting Organised”

Writing Tools

At the moment, I’m waiting for some new tech stuff to arrive, that will (hopefully) enable me to do more writing while I’m out and about.

All my current easily-portable tech is either too big (laptop-sized) or has a shitty on-screen keyboard, which is OK for small amounts of typing (email etc.) but bloody hateful when it comes to writing larger amounts of text.

Weirdly, two are keyboard/typing alternatives, and the other is a new device that I’m pretty excited about, and hopeful for.

The first of the keyboards is the WayBlade – what looks like a really nice keyboard, and I’d like to finally get my hands on it. However, as I ordered it three fucking years ago, I’m not holding my breath for it to finally arrive.

The second one is a typing device, rather than a keyboard. It’s the Tap, a wearable device that appears to use chording as a typing method. It’ll take a bit of learning, but I had a device back in the 80s (the Microwriter AgendA) that also used a chording keyboard, so it shouldn’t be too unfamiliar.

Both of those will be useful to have (assuming they actually arrive) regardless – well, it’d be nice to have one or the other, but knowing my luck, both will turn up within a couple of days of each other. But whichever one works best will stay, and be useful with the phone at least.

The final device though is a bit different.  Way back when I wrote about writing tools before, I waxed lyrical about the old Psion devices, the 3a/mx, the Revo and the Siena, that were tiny devices with brilliant keyboards – and how it was surprising that there weren’t any similar things around currently.

And now, there’s a new device coming, the Gemini. They’ve obviously worked from the same kind of viewpoint I had, including partnering with the people who designed the Psion devices. They look really promising, and I hope it’ll be as good as it appears to be.

So hopefully, going on the evidence of preview reviews and so on, the Gemini might just turn out to be a decent replacement for most of the stuff I currently use the phone for. It’ll be interesting to find out, anyway.

 

Reducing Caller Spam

When I moved to the current place, I got a new phone number – not surprising, as I was in a new area, and a new (to me) house.  As always, I registered that number with TPS and so on, and made sure it was ex-directory.  I usually only use landline phones for broadband purposes – although it turns out I also use it here for some calls, as the mobile coverage inside the house is shockingly bad.  So I have a phone landline, and a phone connected to it.

Unbeknownst to me, the number I got had obviously been owned by someone else before me, and that person was the type of fucking moron who’d sign up for all kinds of promotions, and ran up all kinds of debts.  So right from Day One I was getting a couple of calls a week looking for the previous occupant. (Well, the previous owner of that phone number – it wasn’t a name connected to the house at all)  And because they were for a previous person, it turns out that TPS doesn’t really apply.  (Which is an interesting, and fucking annoying, loophole)

Even so, I re-registered with TPS, and put a spam-calls block on the line. (Which was absolutely useless, and so came off again) It was only a couple of calls a week, and usually while I was out at work. *shrug*

Over the last two years though, it got worse.  The phone’s call log would get filled up in the course of a week, all with “Number Withheld” and “International” numbers, along with the ones who didn’t conceal their numbers, who left messages and blocked up everything else.  I used a couple of other number-blocking services, none of which did much good.  Hell, if I were cynical I’d say they were the ones who sold the number on and spread it ever further. Not that I’ll ever know for sure, one way or the other.

Late last year, the situation was ridiculous. We’d gone from a couple of calls a week right up to filling the phone’s call log every day.  Nothing was working to prevent the calls, and it was just getting stupid.

So I bit the bullet, and changed my phone number. I explained to BT why I was doing it – in the hope that they now blacklist that number completely (although I doubt it, they’ll just have farmed it off on some other unsuspecting sap) – and got a new number allocated to me. Same set-up, it’s ex-d, and registered with TPS.

The big difference though, is that in the three months since I got it changed, I haven’t received a single solitary spam call. My phone call log stays blank (as I said, I don’t use it that often) and it’s lovely.

Sometimes these extreme measures are the ones we need to take. I wish I’d done this one two years ago…

Health Check

It’s been about two years since I last darkened the door of my GP for a health check, so a couple of weeks ago, I made the appointment. That day was today.

I’ve done about half the stuff for now – I apparently now need to go to the local hospital in order to get blood tests done, among other things – but everything so far is apparently ‘very good’, and even ‘puts a lot of our patients to shame’. I’ll take that, to be honest.

  • Blood pressure hasn’t changed, and is 130/80.  Slightly high (according to charts I’ve then looked at since) but well within acceptable limits
  • Blood sugar was perfectly fine – on a “random” check (I had eaten within the time-span, so couldn’t do a fasting blood-sugar etc.) it came back as 7, so the proper fasting one should be lower, and well within limits
  • No idea on pulse-rate, but the nurse said it was absolutely fine, so again, I’m happy enough with that.
  • Weight, as always, is too high. I’m still working on it, and getting a couple of referrals to other departments to see what they say, or can help with.

So, we’ll see how it goes with the other stuff – I’ll get it lined up to be done this week – but for now I’m feeling pretty content with where things are.

Parking Penalties

Way back at the start of November, I went to a restaurant in Cambridge, and parked up in a marked parking area where you either displayed a ticket, or used an online payment app. There was a sign saying “Maximum stay 2 hours“, but nothing about “no return within [x] hours” or anything.  I paid using the RingGo app on my phone, and decided that if I exceeded that 2 hour limit, I’d simply buy another ticket via RingGo.

Anyway, the meal took a lot longer than the two hours – but when it came to the time, I started to get another ticket, only to be told “No return within an hour” by the app – the first time it had been mentioned anywhere. (The parking was too far from the restaurant for a “quick dash” to pay cash for a new ticket, as wellBollocks, thought I.

Once the hour was done, I got another ticket (yes, the meal went on that long) but I was pretty sure I’d have a ticket when I got back to the car.

And I did.  I also re-checked the signs, and took a photo of them, to prove there was nothing about the return clause on the signage.  Once I got home, I paid the ticket – I couldn’t argue that it had been issued correctly, after all! – and then appealed it, becaue of the lack of information and signage.  Despite information on the website saying I could (and indeed should) pay and then appeal, immediately it started throwing problems of “You’ve paid this, so can’t appeal it” and so on.

I ended up getting in touch with Cambridgeshire Parking by email, explaining the situation, that the signage and app made no mention at all of the ‘no return’ clause, including the photos and screenshots. And once it was sent, I waited. And waited.

Two weeks later they came back, saying “It says about no return on the ticket machine. Appeal denied”.  And that was pretty much it. Nothing else about how to appeal a decision to an independent review (which, according to the website, should be provided every time an appeal is denied) or anything else. So I wrote back, explaining the situation again, that I’d gone nowhere near a ticket machine – having paid online – so never saw the one place they say the clause is detailed.

Another two weeks, and another “Nope. It says it on the ticket machine. You should’ve checked. Appeal denied” response. (Admittedly I’m paraphrasing – but not by all that much!)  And still no information about how to take it to an independent adjudicator.

Eventually though, just before Christmas, I ended up speaking to a manager. My sense of humour had utterly failed, I’d escalated it to a full-on complaint, and got the call.

The entire situation is ridiculous. In order to get the information about the adjudicator, I’d have to get my initial paid fine refunded, let the council go through DVLA to find the vehicle owner, send me a formal notice, then I could appeal it, get denied, and get the information about the adjudicator. Which might take up to three more months. Utterly, utterly farcical.  But still, I was prepared to do it – not for the money, but simply for the fact that Cambridgeshire Council seem to think that it’s OK to not provide the information, and then fine drivers who haven’t actually walked to the ticket machine.

Anyway. Common-sense finally kicked in. The fine will be refunded, and they’ve accepted that signage (and app information) needs to be improved.  The manager still insisted that “no signage mentions the no return clause, that’s a national thing” and so on, but there’s going to be a review.

The real icing on the cake for that, though, was that after two months of dealing with this, I was back in Cambridge the following day, and parked at a different piece of on-street parking.  And lo and behold, on the information for that one, the signs say about the no return clause, and so does the app.  Which means it’s definitely about inconsistent information within the council, rather than my being utterly wrong.

And yes, I did re-email the manager to tell them that as well…

364

And there we go, it’s over for another year. Now we’ve got the perineum of the year, the days between Christmas and New Year, where no-one seems to know what the hell they’re doing.  (Me, I’ll most likely be working, but there we go)

And then this time next week we’ll all be back to work, and it’ll be 2018. Time flies, and all that piss.

I’m also taking the opportunity to plan things out a bit for at least the first half of 2018, so I know what the hell I’m doing. (Well, at least have a pretty good indication of what I’ll be doing)  I’m already solid for January, but from there I’m hoping to cool things off a bit. (I know, I’ve said the same thing for the last two years as well)

Anyway, for now I’m just happy that we’re about as far away from the Festering Season as it’s possible to be. And that’s definitely a good thing.

Downtime(ish) Follow-up

Of course, following on from that ‘quiet’ weekend, this week so far hasn’t stopped at all.  And I’m really not in the mood for it.

I’m doing the normal work stuff, but I’ve also been out in the evenings of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I think tomorrow I’m home, and then I’m out again Friday evening, and Saturday.

Not only that, but I’ve now realised that I’m fully booked for every weekend between now and New Year (and actually through to February).

So it’s looking like last weekend really was the calm before the storm.

I really am a bloody idiot.

Back To Walking

One thing that was good about my London trip over the weekend was that it was the first decent walks I’d had since I stuffed up my feet around the walking Marathon.

Since then, I’ve taken it a bit easier – I’ve still been walking a lot, but in much smaller distances than usual. But at some point I had to get back into it, and this weekend seemed as good a time as any.  I knew the routes I’d be taking, and all the stuff I wanted to do – plus I was prepared.

So on the way to Taste, I purposefully took the Tube a couple of stations further than I usually would, so that the first walk back would be three miles instead of the usual five.  I was back to wearing the newest walking boots, and everything was fine for the three mile walk. Even with my intention to ‘take it slow’ I was back to pretty much my standard speed and so on, and that was successful.

On the way back – a different route, as I was heading to central London – for another three miler, it was much harder. Miles five and six, in particular, hurt bits of my feet still.

Fortunately, I had a backup plan, and it all worked out fine. I had a lot of time to kill once I got to central London, so I ended up using that time, getting the tube back up to where I’d parked the car, changed my boots and socks, and then headed back to the same place.

All told, I covered 12 miles on Saturday. My feet got sore, but there was no damage. That’s definitely a win. And once I’d changed boots, it was all fine again.

I do think that the boots haven’t helped – it’s not just that they’re still not properly worn-in, but also there are design differences between the new and old ones that rub in all the wrong places. I think I’m going to have to look at some other alternatives, different boots and talking to retailers and so on that actually know what they’re doing.

Annoying on the score of the boots, but all told I’m happy with how things are going.

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