Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The stupidity of Barclays Banking forms

I've just had to fill in a details form for a third-party mandate on a business bank account and got stuck quite quickly due to the atrocious wording being presented to me, try this for yourself:

Friday, April 26, 2013

In love with Lidl

Lidl's the cheap store, the one that I was told was "filled with chavs and gypos" (at least around here) that you only go to if you're desperate and every other store is shut and then only maybe; and I love it.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

County Council elections 2013

It's the county council elections next week, but something's missing. We've got the battle bus, the  leafleting/canvassing and the pro-Con bleatings in blogs;. but where's all the rhetoric and finger-pointing in the letters page of our local newspaper? Normally at this time we've a member (or candidate) for Party A blowing their own trumpet over something they've done while at the same time Party B is highlighting the failures of Party A and how they'd be so much better at sorting things out.

But it's all gone quiet.

Have they all finally grown-up? Have they realised that the general public see through this transparent politicing; or has the Shuttle got a new policy on such blatancy?

Whatever the reason it's quite refreshing. It also means I can do something a little odd and ask "What does the county council actually do?"

Monday, April 22, 2013

ICO and the waterfall

My previous dealt with why ICO as an escort mission works, although the order is out this started out about one particular mission - the Waterfall. I don't think anyone playing through ICO for the first time has ever 'got' the waterfall section the first time around and what doesn't help is that nearly ever walkthrough gets this wrong.

ICO and the escort mission

I've finally got around to playing the remastered version of ICO; does it hold up after all this time... yes. Emphatically yes; sure some of the wall textures are a little blurry at times and the controls are reminiscent of Resident Evil, but the core of the game remains pure - that of an escort mission.

Don't run away I know what you're thinking "But the escort mission in games is the part that sucks the most; a whole game that's an escort mission - no way!" Let me explain why escort missions suck and why oddly enough Ico doesn't.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Comparing laptops and why it's not the brand that matters

A friend is looking to buy a new laptop and as the guru I was asked my opinion; I'm always happy to help but dealing with laptops can now end up a lot like dealing with questions along the lines of "Exactly why does my beef lasagne contain horsemeat?"

The order that I notice people evaluate laptops by is Brand, Spec, Physical Appearance, but in reality it should be the opposite and here's why.

Why you need to look at your electricity bills

Another vacated property means another electricity bill. The trick on their part is that as we're out of contract they can bill us the massive out-of-contract rates until it gets finalised. In this instance being charged 20p per kWh for both night and day rates.

The first bill arrives post contract. It's been estimated that this empty unit used 100 night units @20p and 400 day units @20p as well as 50 night units at the new contract price of 10p and 400 day units at the new price of 15p.

Nuh-uh we used 50 night units and 300 day units. A new invoice is sent and we're credited out 100 night units @10p and 500 day units @15p. Can you see the flaw?

We were charged for the 50 night units we used at 20p (£10)* and then an additional 50@20p and 50@10p (£15 total) and credited 100@10p (£10)

We were charged for the 100 day units we used at 20p (£20) and then an additional 300@20p and 400@15p (£120) and credited 700@15p (£105)

Or £30 over

At least when I pointed this out they instantly saw it and another new invoice is on its way. Given the way Electricity Suppliers change prices mid-invoice I do wonder how many in the same situation would  just note the credit and think it okay.

*although some of those might have fallen into the new period

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Priorities in news

The continued hagiography on the news channels of Margaret Thatcher while covering the preparations for her funeral this morning led me to more channel flipping.

BBC, ITV and Sky - Margaret Thatcher, and the bombing in Boston that killed 3 people.
 Al Jazeera and RT - The bombing in Boston that killed 3 people, the bombing in Pakistan that killed 17, the 7.8 earthquake in Iran that killed "dozens"; the riots in Venezuela that have left at least 7 dead.

Always good to see how our news media assesses priority.

Never learn lessons about Highways

I published a post in February about the three-way lights set-up in Dunley Road, how being manually controlled meant there was no requirement for them; how they could work well provided that those in control were monitoring the end with the majority of the traffic. Well guess what they've just set-up on Dunley Road? Another three way set of lights. Not in the same place I might add, and not even in the same circumstances - it's worse.

In this instance the third part is at Areley Lane a barely used carriageway. The controlling lights once again however are just at the end of this so the situation is identical, but with even less traffic to monitor at the third point. Amusingly (or not) lights had already been placed at exactly this same point - two sets of lights and everything worked with no problem. Not content with making the delays longer the contractors monitor the controls from only the Areley end and as they're positioned on a bend they can't see the either of the other two exits without walking around to take a look.

That's fine in the morning when that's the way most of the traffic flows, but in an evening.... well let's just say that the 3.5 queue mile running through the town last night demonstrated how well that worked.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Ban this filth? Ding dong!

In the wake of Baroness Thatcher's death the song "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" is topping the UK download charts. As a service to its listeners the BBC plays the songs currently in the chart. The Daily Mail is foaming at the mouth over this.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

FeministFrequency vs Thunderf00t

As part of my viewing schedule I was pointed to the first video in FeministFrequency's new series Tropes vs Women in Video Games entitled "Damsel in Distress" this prompted a response from the blogger Thunderf00t called "Feminism versus Facts". Oh me oh my this is the "Understanding is a three edged sword" type of conflict. Both can be accused of viewing things through their own belief systems and drawing the conclusions they want, but is one more 'right' than the other?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The continuing coverage of the death of Baroness Thatcher

Obviously not paying attention to the Daily Mash's guide; the media is still flogging tins of Asda cornbeef. What has been interesting is playing compare and contrast to both 'sides' of the what did you think of Thatcher debate.

Monday, April 08, 2013

The death of Baroness Thatcher

Between the extremes of paens from ft.com and the purile "Ding Dong the witch is dead"'s; is it possible to examine the policies enacted during Baroness Thatcher's term of office?

Relative temperature or why do some things feel colder than others?

With snow falling it's time to turn up the heating; except wait a minute why do we need to do that? If you have thermostatically controlled heating it will switch off when it reaches a certain temperature regardless of what it is outside. Sure you can turn it up to make it heat up quicker; but once the heater switches off the temperature now should be the same as yesterday. So why is it colder?

Friday, April 05, 2013

Gotta love Outlook compacting

I've already done a bit on the most efficient way of reducing the size of Outlook files looking at how insane the compaction method is, but let me bring that home with some real figures.

I've a main PST file and an archive PST file. I need to do some archiving so I compact them both. They are both fully compact and can be shrunk no further. I now transfer some of the data from one to the other and the archive PST file increases by 180Mb. What do you think would happen if I tried to compact the archive file?

If you answered nothing as I've obviously just transferred some fully compacted data you obviously don't work for Microsoft. The answer is I remove another 70Mb of data. So only 100Mb was actually there? What was the other 80Mb that was supposedly already compacted? Who knows. So what happens if I compact my original file from which I removed 180Mb of (supposedly) compacted data?

It decreases my 160Mb.

So removing 180Mb of data allows me to reduce my file size by 160Mb, but there was only really 100Mb worth of information there.


Thursday, April 04, 2013

Stourport Total is now an Esso

Drove past this morning and they were taking down the sign at the Total garage in Stourport; drove past again and it's now an Esso.

If I got this right the independent at Dunley is now a Total; the Total in Stourport is now an Esso; the Esso that was next to the Shell is now a block of retirement apartments and the Shell is still a Shell. Shell that was next to the Esso in Vale Road is now a block of retirement apartments and the Esso in Vale Road is still there. So two Essos in Stourport. Wheeee!

All in all ready for the Tesco and its petrol station... whenever any of that's going to arrive

Hate Crimes

A quick blip from the news this morning that Greater Manchester Police will now include attacks on goths, emos etc. as "hate crimes". Cue the a Torygraph blog entry "Isn't 'hate crime' against goths and punks just old-fashioned yobbery?" Playing the card hand of the "where do we stop?" and "how will [those it was originally] designed to protect, feel".

Should beating up a random person be treated as the same as beating someone up because they appear to be a member of a particular subculture? Oh and no I'm not using his term of "youth subculture" as this has the implications that the adherents will 'grow out of it'.

If someone targets goths in particular how is that any different from targeting Asians? The argument he presents is that goths etc. can change whereas you can't change your skin colour. Is that how hate crime should be defined - targeting a person due to a trait intrinsic to that person?

If that's the case how is telling goths to change their appearance so they won't be beaten up any different from telling homosexuals not to 'act gay' in public to avoid the same repercussions? Should we be instructing Polish immigrants that they should stop speaking Polish in public otherwise it's their own fault for being attacked?

What Mr Freeman seems to not understand is that those who hate a group are more likely to look for and try to beat up members of that group rather than get involved in the type of random dust-up he provides as an example. Of course beating someone up just because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time shouldn't be treated as somehow 'better' than attacking someone due to their clothing, but it does send a strong message that actions towards the 'different-to-me' won't be tolerated.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Can Negative Equity be a good thing?

Negative Equity seems to be the bĂȘte noire of a certain newspaper - anytime house prices start to drop out pops the headline of "millions in negative equity trap" by itself this wouldn't be a problem; except that for some strange reason politicians and a fair chunk of the population seem to believe what they're saying.

So what is negative equity and why is it such a concern?