Category: Adulting

The Politics Post

Today is General Election day in the UK. I’ve already been out and voted. In fact, I was eager enough to do so that I was a couple of minutes early, and had to actually be socialable and chat to the folks in the polling station until they were allowed to give me my ballot paper.

“I’m not normally one to discuss politics, but …” is something that is all too familiar on my social network feeds today. This is usually followed up with a proclamation that the poster has voted, then a statement about how everybody else needs to go and vote, to finish up with a sly (or in some cases, outright blatant) comment that is designed to shame anyone who voted in a way that they didn’t.

I’m not going to do that. I am proud to be able to say that I have friends across the entire political spectrum; many who are very vocal in their support. I’m comfortable enough in my own political beliefs that I see no need to deride them for theirs – even when I strongly disagree. More to the point – the idea of only listening to people who share my own politics is very uncomfortable to me. To put it bluntly – if I exist in an echo chamber, I don’t see how I can form an informed opinion. If I never challenge my convictions by listening with an open mind, then can I really have any faith in my convictions?

More importantly – if the strongest power I have as a voter is the ability to change my mind, how can that ever happen if I don’t listen to all sides of the argument?

Enough of that, though. I am straying from the point I’m wanting to make in this post.

Those of us in the UK live in a democracy. We are lucky to do so. That did not come for free. It may seem like an old cliche, but people have fought and died to give us a vote – the ability to stand up and have our say. There are countries out there were people like you and I do not have the chance to vote.

I don’t care how you vote. I only care that you do. So, if you are eligible to vote in the UK today, I really hope that you are going to pop out today and do so. You have until 10pm.

The fact it is raining is not an excuse. There was once a woman who deliberately got trampled by a horse in her fight for the right to vote. Google Emily Davison if you’re curious. Get an umbrella, get down to the polling station, and be counted.

Find all the candidates uninspiring? Better to spoil your ballot paper than to not vote at all. If enough people did that instead of not even showing, well … I can imagine it would be a better form of protest than not even bothering.

For those of you who have read this to the end – thanks for reading. I do hope you’re voting, or have already done so. If you’re not voting but are eligible to do so, please have a word with yourself. The cost of our democracy has been high. Just because that cost has not been paid in your lifetime, it does not mean that the cost was not real. Don’t waste the price that was paid for this.

Still Alive!

Howdy, readers!

It’s been a while. My apologies!

It’s not that I’ve disappeared – or even that I haven’t had stuff going on. I tend to write about stuff that interests me, and in recent months, the main thing that has held my interest is politics – both UK and world wide. Given how contentious these subjects can be, particularly online, I just didn’t feel compelled to write about it here. There are many political blogs out there, and I have no intention of this becoming another one of those! Love it or hate it, I’m pretty sure that these are the most interesting times politically that I will see in my life time.

That said, I have been up to rather boring adult shenanigans – I’ve started decorating my new house, and I’ve decided to start my adventure into being fit once again.

I’ve started doing the Insanity workout. I’m on day 2, and I hurt. I suspect that this is going to prompt a series of blog posts which will generally query why I thought putting myself through this kind of torture is necessary. After one bout of a fitness test and the plyometric cardio circuit, I think I hurt in my everything. With any luck, when I get to the end of the 60 days, I may actually be brave enough to post before and after pictures. With further luck, the after picture will actually look better than the before picture.

Confessions!

So, I didn’t meet last weeks goal of going running 3 times and doing my exercise DVDs twice. I did get part way there though, so its not a complete wipe out. I ran just over 3 miles twice, and I did one DVD.

Go me, I guess? The next goal is to build up on that next week. I’m not going to beat myself up on this week too much, since I feel that I got to over half way to the original goal. To celebrate, I am making cake.

Ok, that’s a lie. I’m not going to make cake to celebrate failing to meet my goal for last week. I’m making cake mainly because I want to make cake, and I don’t have any real reason to be making it beyond ‘I like cake’.

Adulting is hard because cake is delicious.

Mobile Phone Sadness

Last year, I accidentally nuked my trusty windows phone. Along with my electronic cigarette.

I managed this feat of ineptitude by first plugging in my phone to a newer micro USB cable and mains plug. Finding it odd that my phone immediately rebooted itself after this, in my infinite wisdom I plugged in my electronic cigarette.

Yup, I am occasionally incredibly dumb.

A flash of blue light later, I soon after realised that what I had managed to do was fry the micro USB port on both my phone and my e cig. Meaning that I had lost the ability to charge the battery in both the phone and my e cig.

Oops.

So, long story short – I was forced to get a new phone. Having endured years of sneers along the lines of ‘Oh, a windows phone?’, and ‘You should get a *proper* phone, like an Android one’, I but the bullet and got myself a Galaxy J3.

About all I have gained from this is a cheaper monthly bill (as I switched tariffs), and access to a greater selection of mobile applications. Everything else? Sorry, I find it lacking in comparison to my old Nokia Lumia.

I found the Windows UI easier to manage – though this is a small hurdle, and I very quickly picked up how to effectively use my new phone.

Other niggles – occasionally, my new phone just refuses to connect to a wireless network it already knows. Or to any. I have to reboot it to fix this.

The Microsoft Health app is constantly pinging my Microsoft Band now – resulting in the battery life of the band being half of what it used to be. I have gone from having to charge it once a day to twice.

I have had to install an application that cleans up all the junk left behind by normal phone usage. I never had this issue on my old Windows Phone.

The major issue I have is how the Android system manages its storage. Granted, a bit of research here would have had me buying a phone with more space on it.

Android has the concept of internal and external storage (so, phone and card). This would be fine. Except the Android OS is actually quite clunky. It insists on having applications on it that I have no use for – yet I’m not allowed to uninstall them. Like Microsoft Office mobile apps.

I am at a computer all day, every day. If I need to use any Office application, I will use my computer. Not my phone. I use dropbox, not one drive. Yet these applications are sitting there, taking up precious internal storage space, not being used, and not allowing me to uninstall them. I have 8GB of internal storage.

What would be nice is if I could move these to my 64GB SD card, along with any app I install. But no. I’m not allowed to do this either.

Even though I have jumped through various hoops to try and make all new down loads go to my rather under-utilised 64GB available storage, Android insists on downloading new content to the internal storage. Of which there is very little left. Only certain applications will allow themselves to be moved to the external storage.

To add insult to injury – any time an app that I have managed to get stored on my SD card updates, it gets moved back over to my internal storage without letting me know. I am now in the habit of checking my SD apps after every update to move them back to my external storage. And even better – I can only move one at a time. And even the small apps take an age to move over.

From reading around this, I need to do 3 things – have my phone running in developer mode, root the phone (and invalidate the warranty), and do a mixture of hacking it myself and installing an internal to external application just to have some control over where my applications will be stored.

This is ridiculous. I never had this problem with my Windows Phone (which also had very limited internal storage). It had ‘Storage Sense’ – which let you pick and choose what got stored where. Such a simple concept.

This level of not having control over my own device is also the text book reason for why I do not use Apple products.

So, to all the snobs out there who mocked my usage of my Windows phone, and that Android is a ‘proper’ phone in comparison. Just no. I’ve used both, from a point of no prejudice, and while the Windows phone apps are lacking in comparison – at least the Windows phone let me have a choice in what is installed on it, and where it is actually installed. Android – I am really unimpressed, and will likely be back to using a windows phone once the contract on this one has run out.

The bottom line is this – I haven’t been able to play Pokemon Go because I apparently lack the storage space due to needing/wanting the apps I have installed. Sad times 😦

Last Years Disappointment

One thing I have been waiting for – ever since I first saw the Red Dwarf episode ‘Better Than Life’ – is Virtual Reality gaming. To give some scope of how long I have wanted this, that is well over half of my life.

In recent years, as technology starts to slowly poke at this, I have had to open myself to being disappointed. Not because the technology is lacking, but because I am physically not suited to it.

The first hint of this I got was the advent of 3D cinema. After about 10 minutes of attempting to watch anything in 3D, I develop a splitting headache, which all too soon becomes that pit of despair known as a migraine.

I figured that I was just unlucky, it was only cinema, and still held a vague hope that I could be alright when the shiny VR stuff becomes more widely available.

Then I got to play with an actual VR headset at a technology museum. It was a roller coaster simulator. I lasted about 3 minutes before my motion sickness became too much to ignore, and I was left feeling nauseous for about half an hour afterwards. I told myself that the technology isn’t all that developed yet, so I could still have hope that future offerings would work some magic that would mean I would not get motion sick.

As you can probably guess, that hasn’t happened. My Dad got the PS4 VR headset offering. I was nervous about giving it a go, but excited all the same. I had a play of a deep sea adventure.

It was stunning. It was thoroughly immersing. Incredible. And I could only take it for about 15 minutes  before the motion sickness started creeping up on me and I developed a splitting headache. I lasted longer than my previous attempt at a VR headset, but 15 minutes is not enough gaming time to fully experience what VR will offer in the future.

Gutted does not even cover how I feel about this. Given some of the issues surrounding the VR world, I can hope that in the years to come this can yet be solved. I know I’m not the only gamer who has encountered this. At the same time, I am now feeling a very genuine fear that I am about to be locked out of a future generation of gaming because I never grew out of my motion sickness (as I was assured by countless adults when I was a child that I would), and my head is prone to attempting to split open when a screen is in my face.

As first world problems go, this is fairly minor. But gaming has been a huge part of my life as long as I can remember – coming to the realisation that I may have to miss out in the future is unsettling and incredibly disappointing. Going forward, I’ll just have to keep hoping that these issues get solved by the people making the hardware, and console myself with the likes of Minecraft and Dark Souls.

Fitness Goals and Inherent Laziness

Last year, I got into the whole lunch time running thing. Then slacked off all through December, because Christmas.

I’m slowly starting to ramp up again. As in, I’ve been for a whole 3 runs this month.

I’m telling myself to up my game. I told myself that I was going for a run last night, but opted to sit under a blanket and watch videos on youtube. I was going to go for a run this morning, but decided it was cold. That said, today is not a total washout – the bloke has decided we should go climbing today after a successful wall climbing venture with the littles last weekend. Today, we’re taking a proper course so we can play on the rock climbing wall of choice without other adult supervision.

Given I slacked off all throughout December (both with the running and fitness DVD’s), venturing back into the world of getting fit hurts. My shoulders and arms are barely recovered from last weeks climbing venture. Granted, this did in part include me dangling from the ceiling and relaxing. I have had to admit that my upper body strength is pretty appalling. So in that regard, this climbing malarkey should do me a world of good, or something like that.

My legs still hurt from running on Thursday. I know the more I do all this, the less it will hurt. However, sitting wrapped up in a warm house, eating cheese sticks with copious amounts of dip in front of the TV is far more appealing. It doesn’t make my muscles hurt. That said, looking at my pre-December run times versus my current run times provides a very stark contrast that I should feel more shame than I actually do over.

I can do better. I’m just being lazy. So, moving forward, I figured I should publicly set some goals. It may be the kick up the bottom I need to get back in to looking after myself properly.

Tomorrow, I will run. I will also run on at least 3 week days next week. I’ll do my DVDs at least twice next week. And I will do a full check in next Saturday so I can be mocked if I fail to actually achieve these things. At this point, that should be enough incentive for me to get off my arse and do things. So, dear readers – please do mock me should my efforts be lacking.

If I do manage to meet these goals for this week, I am rewarding myself with something unhealthy. Probably a Dominos pizza all to myself. Nom.

Happy New Year!

Welp, I have this scheduled to post on New Years Eve. It’s been written early since I’m planning on not being at my computer.

First off – I hope that everyone had a great 2016, and will have an even better 2017!

2016 has been pretty awesome and eventful for me. I got a new job, and most importantly, fulfilled a long term ambition of mine – house ownership. I’ve surrounded myself with awesome people after a less than stellar 2015, and I feel like I am checking off all of life’s tick boxes.

My 2017 plans so far involve house decoration, and buying curtains. Which is horribly boring and adult, but is exciting to me since it’s the first time I’ve been able to make the call on things like that.

So, I hope everyone is having a fabulous time seeing in the new year. Happy new year everyone!

Merry Christmas!

I’d just like to take this opportunity to wish everyone who is reading a very merry Christmas 🙂

I hope Santa brought you everything you wanted, and do bear in mind that calories don’t count at Christmas, so you should eat a lot of cake. And turkey. Just eat all the things, ok?

One of my best presents so far – my Dad got me an Amazon Echo. It makes me look forward to getting home so that I can get it all set up properly 😀

The Christmas Decorations Post

I’ve upped my attempt at Christmas decorations from last year. I have upgraded to having an actual Christmas tree.

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Granted, I need more tinsel and baubles, but I think it’s definitely a good start. I now have a serious decision to make.

Should I top this with a star or a fairy, or something else? 1st world problematic decisions are hard.

Argos Shenanigans – Final update

This should be the final update to the Argos saga. Hopefully.

So, I reported Argos to trading standards. I got this response from them:

I understand from your email that at the start of November you ordered a bed and mattress from an online trader which stated would be 5 days for delivery. The goods were eventually delivered on the 27th but one of the pieces was for a different bed. You have asked the trader to collect the item and refund you which they have advised they will do today. They had also agree to look at refunding you for a day’s holiday you had to take but have now refused to do so.

Your rights and obligations
Under The Consumer Rights Act 2015 you could claim that when delivered the goods were not of satisfactory quality or fit for purpose. This may entitle you to reject the goods for a full refund under your short term right to reject which covers goods for the first 30 days after purchase. You should be refunded within 14 days of the goods being returned to the trader. The onus or burden of proof will be on you to prove the goods are not of satisfactory quality.

You may be entitled to make a claim for consequential loss if you have had any loss of earnings but the law would look for you to provide evidence of this and why you believe that the trader is liable.

If you are unable to resolve this with the trader then as you paid for the item on your debit card you may be entitled to make a claim against your card provider for a refund under a scheme called Chargeback, this is a voluntary scheme so your car provider is not required to be a member. There is also usually a time limit for any claim, we would advise that you speak to your card provider for more information.

Your next steps
Should the trader fail to collect the goods then we would advise that you formalise your complaint in writing to the trader stating a reasonable period of time for them to reply back, send this by recorded delivery so you can prove it has been received and keep a copy of the letter for your own records.

There are template letters available on our website, click here for the most appropriate to your complaint.

What we’ll do
We will notify Trading Standards of the trader’s activities. Whilst this would not help with your complaint, this is valuable intelligence for them, which may be taken into consideration in any future dealings they have with the trader.

After that – before I’d had to take any further action – Argos actually collected the bed! Then began the adventure to actually receive my refund. I let them know what was going on via email:

Well, after the last email, the bed was finally collected yesterday (5th December, a full month after I placed this order in the first place). However, the delivery driver was unable to let me sign for anything, as his PDA device was apparently out of order.

Given my current experience so far, I would like you to confirm – is my refund now being processed, and when can I expect it to come through?

On the 6th, they sent me a confirmation that I could expect a refund within 7 working days. Ok.

Thank you for your email regarding your refund.

I can confirm you refund has been processed and should be showing on your Visa statement within the next 7 working days.

Surprise, surprise, it turned out that this was in fact another lie. I ended up phoning them 7 days later to ask them where my refund was. The woman I spoke to asked if they had collected the bed. They seemed to have no record of collecting things. Awesome! I had to send another email.

Hi Argos,

I still have yet to see a refund either in my account or in the pending transactions of my account. I have once again phoned you to ask where my refund is, and I can apparently expect a call back within a few days, as there seems to be no update in your records as to the status of my order.

Let me be clear. You have messed me around completely. I am out £299.99. You collected the bed on Monday 5th December. I noted down the registration plate of the lorry and the time of collection, as the delivery drivers were unable to let me sign for the collection, as their PDA was conveniently not working. If your delivery drivers run as many other companies do, this will match up with their GPS system on the day.

Trading Standards have told me that if I don’t receive my refund within 14 days of collection, I have a case. I will be taking this further if you refuse to give back the money I am owed, due to your inability to send your goods on time or as described.

For reference (although you should be able to find this in one of the MANY emails I have sent about this) – my order number is *********.

Where is my refund?

This (a day later, I may add) generated this email:

Thank you for your email regarding the above query, I have looked over the notes of the sale in question and can see that the refund has been actioned and should be in your account in 3-5 working days. I do apologise for any delays you have experienced and wish you a great Christmas and New Year ahead.

The refund eventually landed in my account on the 19th. Exactly 14 days later.

In addition, Argos actually phoned me. They’re going to send me a cheque for £50 to apologise for the inconvenience. But that won’t be processed until the 28th December, as they’re all going on holiday now.

At this point, I’m going to leave it there. Trading Standards are investigating, so the relevant authorities are involved. I’m not holding my breath on actually receiving a cheque, and I certainly will not be using their services again – or recommending them to anyone else.

Sage over!