Category: Opinion

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.


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 ūüė¶

Argos update the Third.

Yup, two blog posts in one day!

So, I just received this from the wonderful folks at Argos.


So, in a nutshell Рthey offered to reimburse me for my day of  annual leave, after they rescheduled my order. And they are now retracting that offer because their rescheduling my delivery means that I should have anticipated taking a day of annual leave.

I guess they realised that an hour of my time is in fact quite expensive.

So, I’ve emailed them. I’ll also be calling.

Dear Argos,

Please see the attached letter I have just received through the post.

This is unacceptable – I arranged for delivery on Saturday the 19th¬†through your website. I originally arranged this for a Saturday because I didn’t want to have to use annual leave for this.¬†It was then *you* who called and rescheduled for the 21st. Me, just wanting the bed to arrive in time for family to visit, reluctantly accepted that I would have to book annual leave for this.

I strongly suggest you review this. You are attempting to claim that that I would have had to anticipate taking a day off for this? That is completely incorrect. Thankfully, I have all previous automated emails, receipts, etc that will back this.

It’s bad enough that I have had such a terrible experience with your company – for you to then offer reimbursement earlier in this email chain, then attempt to tell me that I should have anticipated taking a day off after you rescheduled the delivery day is quite frankly unacceptable.

Sort it out.

Just for extra fun, I’m organised enough that I have kept all prior emails to this. Here’s a screen shot of the email I received on the 5th (when I actually made this order):
But no. I should have anticipated having to take a day of annual leave when I deliberately arranged delivery for a weekend when I don’t have to work.
One angry phone call and call back later, apparently it is not in their policy to reimburse for the first day off taken, and the person who told me this in the first place is apparently in trouble!
I find this pretty unacceptable. I’ve already sent details of this shenanigans to BBC Watchdog. Trading Standards next.
EDIT The Second
I’ve sent another email.

Hello again Argos.

Your below email is incorrect. After receiving it, I briefly panicked, thinking that I would be unavailable to hand over the items for collection. Thankfully, my manager is understanding and allowed me to work the rest of the day from home.

I did have cause to phone you today though, after you decided that my time is apparently worth too much for you to give the reimbursement for loss of earnings that you initially offered. I was told that the bed was indeed booked in for collection today, but you were unable to give me any times. So, I was transferred to your collections department, who let me know that the collection was not in fact booked in for today.

Thanks for wasting more of my time.

I have now been told it is booked in for collection on Monday 5th December between 12 and 6.

At this point, I am not holding my breath. Your service is absolutely shambolic. This is now a second day when I have been told to expect some kind of service, and I have had to chase things up with you when said service fails to transpire.

If I have to arrange delivery to your warehouse myself, I’ll be sending you the bill. I want this bed out of my house, and I want my refund.

I have already submitted this whole farce to BBC Watchdog and Trading Standards.

Trolley Rage

This has been a frustrating week. I have encountered various scenarios where life isn’t going quite as expected, or neatly following the carefully laid out plans in my head.

Of course, this is just life being life. I’ve just never been able to deal that well with curve balls. I like my routines. I like things behaving *properly*. This has been a week that has thrown me for a loop. I am generally more irritable and distracted from the things I should be focusing on as a result.

That brings me to the icing on the cake. The straw that broke the camels back.

The supermarket where I do my weekly shop has moved all of the aisles around.

I get why supermarkets do this. They like to have their customers meandering around completely lost, viewing all the available merchandise, and potentially making an impulse purchase. All this does for me is serve to irritate.

I am the kind of person who makes a shopping list. I do not deviate from it. In addition, I have my shopping list carefully ordered by aisle, so I can get in an out as quickly as possible.

Imagine my sense of outrage when I went to pick up a bottle of Pepsi, and instead found myself facing packets of crisps. Tragically, this was the first moment I realised things had moved, since I was existing in my own head already seething about all the various other things that haven’t gone quite according to my own expectations this week alone.

I went to find coffee. That now lives where all the wine and spirits *used* to live.

Two of my major caffeine supplies have been moved. Seriously. I think it was lucky that no one died when I was doing my shop. It was a brave move on the part of the super market planners. Frankly, I’m amazed that there haven’t been blood baths caused by these kinds of impromptu switch arounds. What kind of nutcases move the caffeine?

The final insult to this already¬†grievous¬†injury was realising that all the goods in the chillers have been shifted around to. My usual quick 5 minute rush doing my weekly shop was delayed further as it took me another 3 minutes to find where the Philadelphia snack pots now live. If I hadn’t been so irritated, I suspect that a calmer mind may have found these at least 2 minutes earlier.

I realise this has turned into something of a rant, and there are way worse problems in the world. I guess I just want to shout out that I’d very much like to smack supermarket planners upside the head with a dead fish¬†a few times. Although they would have plenty of time to run and hide in the amount of time it would take for me to find where the fish are now situated in their newly shifted around store.


Frustration! The House Edition.

Once upon a time, I had an idea in my head that buying a house would be a somewhat long, but overall easy enough process.

At this point in the house buying process, I’m still good to buy my house. Yeay! However, it’s not going to be quite as quick as I anticipated.

Turns out I’m in a chain. *Someone* in this chain (not the people selling to me, thankfully) has been playing silly buggers. Now, the people selling to me are a young family, with another small one due in October. They need to upsize. The house they are buying is in a street where a similar property sold for a lot more than what they are trying to buy their own future home for. Turns out the person selling to *them* realised this after agreeing a price. Cue shenanigans. From what I’ve heard from the estate agents, he proceeded to try and ask for more money, had various inquiries that further stalled the whole process, and was generally being a pain in the backside to the people selling their house to me.

From being told only a few days ago that I should be able to exchange contracts on Friday, I had a call this week to let me know that there was a delay – the dude playing silly buggers has now pulled out entirely, stating an unspecified ‘family issue’.

The people selling to me are back to square one – house hunting. They¬†are understandably gutted. They’ve been hoping to get everything signed and sealed before the end of this month, as their anticipated October arrival may hinder a smooth move. They still want to sell to me. Thankfully, I have yet to give notice on my flat, so they’ll get no pressure from me to hurry things up. I’ve waited years to get to the point of buying a house – a few more months won’t kill me.

Still, it is incredibly frustrating. I suspect that I’ll soon see the house they were hoping to buy back on the market soon at a much inflated price. I can only imagine that the seller thought he had a young family over the barrel, and got greedy. I’m half tempted to turn up at any potential viewings and be an arse. Which I wouldn’t, of course, because that would be petty and beneath me. But still – one can dream.

One thing that this whole process has just taught me though – they have a way better system for this in Scotland that prevents this kind of shenanigans. I really wish we had it in England.

Respect the facilities

First off, I don’t think of myself as a particularly judgmental person. However, there are some things that will make me judge people.

In particular, signage in toilets. Or office wide emails about toilet issues.

This may have been prompted by an office-wide email asking for the second time in as many weeks that whoever is flushing inappropriate material down the gents toilets and causing blockages to stop it.

The signage in toilets will make me judge the clientele of a building. Just how bad is the problem that a sign saying ‘Please dispose of your sanitary items in the bins provided’ is necessary? Even worse when you see the evidence of why this sign is necessary. Or ‘Please do not stand on the toilet seats’?

Of course, there is no way of knowing *who* the cause of these problems actually is without going all Big Brother and installing cameras. Which nobody wants, because … ick.

In my mind, you treat the facilities of a place that is not your home *better* than you would treat your own. Or at least in the same manner. Maybe the people doing these things are treating things in the same manner (ew.).

I guess my point is that these kinds of signs or emails should not even be necessary. You expect fully functioning adults to actually be toilet trained to a reasonable standard. Yet is seems that there is a minority who aren’t. And knowing that the culprit is a colleague is kind of icky.

So – don’t be that person. Clean up your own shite. Sometimes, literally, I guess. No one else needs to see or know. It shouldn’t even need to be said.

Respecting the facilities provided is really not that difficult. Leave things in the state you find them, at a minimum. It’s really not hard.

Of Marriage and Commitment

The blokes kids took me by surprise this weekend.

Are you getting married?

After I’d stopped spluttering, I replied with ‘Nope, no plans to!’. Somehow, the little ones have this idea that I’d be around all the time if their father and I were to tie the knot. Not sure where they got this idea from, and the bloke was as mystified as I was. I pointed out to them that it would make little difference, and that they’d get annoyed with me if they saw me all the time anyway. Hell, I get annoyed with me, because I’m around me all the time.

Now, it’s not that I’m against marriage. It works for many, many people all over the world. That said – it’s not for me. I’ve never felt that I¬†needed a bit of paper or a ring to know that I’m committed to someone. Also, being very honest with myself, I have a poor track record for relationships. Sometimes because of me, sometimes because of the other person. Usually a mixture of both. Maybe that’s part of my aversion to the idea.

Of course, that’s not to say that I’d flat out refuse to consider it ever. But I’d need some pretty compelling reasons to do so. It’s not a deal breaker issue for me, mainly because I don’t have any really strong feelings on the issue. I guess my view on it is more along the lines of I can be in a partnership with someone without the need for a ceremony and legal trappings. And I’m ok with that.

How many software engineers does it take to return a call?

I managed to embarrass myself with what should be simple technology today.

I have a phone on my desk at work. I’ve worked here for just over 7 months now. My phone has never actually rung before. I’ve never had to use it – everyone who needs to speak to me is seated in my general vicinity. I have no need to speak to end users for my role.

Until today. It rang. I picked up the receiver to answer. Imagine my joy that it immediately went on to speaker phone! I briefly explained to the caller that he was on speaker phone, and told him I would try to fix it. I pressed the button that looked like a speaker icon.

Seems reasonable, right?

Pressing the button hung up on the caller. Cue laughter from my office buddies when they realised what I’d done.

So, I started trying to figure out how to call the person back. An office mate came to help me, and pointed out that my calls were all being forwarded. We went through a few options, and managed to not be able to find how to turn it off, so we gave up. He didn’t know how to find the history, though. So, another helpful office mate showed me how.

I found the number, and clicked the redial button … to be put through to the reception desk downstairs. I was very apologetic when I explained that I’d rung the wrong number, and hung up to try to return the call again.

This is when I realised it was an outside number. Which apparently needs to be prefixed. Some asking around later, and it turns out that the magic prefix is ‘9’. Another office mate helped me to figure out how to return a call with a prefix.

So, I did this. The person who had called me answered. I hadn’t had chance to ask his name before I inadvertently hung up on him, but thankfully I remembered his voice.

More apologies later, and what was my mystery caller after? Turns out he’s a recruiter, who somehow got my extension number – which is a mystery in itself, since I haven’t published it anywhere. After all, people might phone me if I did!

15 minutes and 3 software engineers later, all so I could tell someone ‘thanks, but I’m happily employed where I am’.

Not that I’m bitter or anything – but I can think of no good reason why a phone has been complicated to the point¬†that it’s taken 15 minutes of my life to phone someone back. And my calls are apparently being forwarded elsewhere now, and I don’t know how to turn that off. Or see where those calls are actually being forwarded to. Yeay?

tl;dr : It should not take 3 people, 15 minutes and an instruction manual to either answer a phone or return a call.

Some thoughts on the disgraceful events of New Years Eve.

A bit of a more serious post here, I’m afraid. Typically, I avoid commenting on topics like this, as that’s not really the tone I want to set for something I’d like to keep for the most part lighthearted. Sometimes, though, I feel so strongly about something that I just need to get it typed out.

I’ve been following the news this week about the New Year Sex attacks across Europe. Whilst the attacks in Cologne are currently the most widely reported, there are reports of similar happening in different cities throughout Europe.

Just reading some of the accounts from some of the victims is terrifying. Women going about their business were subjected to unprecedented sexual abuse. The police, whilst present, were of such small numbers that they were rendered impotent to do much about it as it happened right in front of them. Men who were out with their daughters and wives/girlfriends were powerless against a horde of barbaric arseholes who seem to think of women as little more than chattel for their own perverted amusement.

I don’t even know how I’d react if faced with a similar situation. It’s just flat out unthinkable that events like this can even happen in what are supposed to be civilised areas of the world.

The reporting on this has been slow, for flat out politically correct reasons, with an undertone of attempting to avoid a backlash. It took 5 days for these events to reach headline news, which is pretty appalling. The usual apologists are crawling out of the woodwork to engage in victim blaming, which is downright crazy in these circumstances.

I guess when it comes down to¬†the threat of being called a xenophobe, people would rather stick their fingers into their ears and start¬†shouting ‘I can’t hear you!’.

This attitude will not fix anything. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away.

Should we provide asylum to those in need? Yes.

Should women be able to go about their business without fear of being assaulted? Hell yes.

I don’t know what the answer to the whole thing will be. It won’t be an easy one, for sure. But attempting to ignore the fact that the rights and freedoms of women are being overlooked – and even eroded, given the calls for women to alter their behaviour in response to these events (only travel in large groups, stay at arms length from men) –¬†in order to be politically correct about a migration crisis is not going to end well.

For the sake of political correctness, women – and the large majority of migrants who are very likely not engaging in these barbaric displays – are being completely let down by a system that increasingly discourages upholding the laws of the land, or even speaking out, for fear of being branded a racist. I hope that the perpetrators of the events on New Years Eve are held accountable for their actions. Given the current reaction though, I’m not holding my breath.

The problem with the arcade

On New Years day, I was with the bloke and his girls at the seaside. We ended up in the arcade, and fed them 2 pence pieces for some of the machines. We had fun, and the girls managed to win some toy dinosaurs to add to their collection.

One thing that disappointed me, however, is just how blatantly *fixed* some of the games are in these places still.

Now, I know that there has always been a level of fixing in arcades. But one thing I do remember is when I was younger – we’d go on holiday to Skegness, and my older sister and I would spend hours on the ‘grabby machines’. These are the machine where you have a claw that you can control with a joy stick, and you attempt to pick up the toys inside. It’s a game of slight skill.

My sister and I were good at it. We used to return to the holiday chalet or caravan absolutely loaded with cuddly toys. It was great!

Sadly, this golden age of grabby machine was short lived. A few years after that, we stopped playing when the claw would grab your prize, rise up, and slightly loosen its grip to drop the toy before it had even given it to you. I suspect that the parameters of the machine only keep the grip closed about once in every thousand goes.

I was explaining this to one of the blokes daughters when she desperately wanted a go of one of the grabby machines that was populated with Minion cuddly toys. To demonstrate the problem to her, we hung around and watched someone else play it, so she could see the ‘fix’ in action. As soon as she saw the guy successfully grab a minion 5 times in a row, only for it to be released as soon as the claw raised, she was no longer interested in playing.

I guess that’s the point of this post. Even small children don’t want to get ripped off. Whilst a level of game fixing is to be expected, some of the machines take it too far. I stopped playing grabby machines years ago for this reason. As did my sister. And even a 9 year old has now been put off playing them.

I’d much prefer to pay more to play the game and actually feel I have a fair chance of winning the prize, than to watch time and again as I ‘win’ without actually getting my prize.

I doubt the arcade industry will change this behaviour. It’s obviously working for them,¬†but if a 9 year old with little concept of the value of money can see the blatant scam, then you’re probably being a bit too obvious¬†about the whole thing.

The Great Pottery Throw Down

It’s not my usual television show choice. However, me and the Bloke have ended up following this.

It started when we stumbled across the show in the TV guide, when looking for something to brainlessly watch after dinner. I just wanted to see how my home town would be portrayed. The bloke, on the other hand, has a total man crush on Sara Cox.

We first watched it expecting to turn it off part way through out of boredom. This was not the case.

This show is hilarious Рespecially if you have a somewhat juvenile sense of humour, as the Bloke and I do. We giggled our way through the first full episode which was dripping unintentional innuendo. This is helped by the Blokes observation that anything Sara Cox says sounds dirty. The main stars of this are the contestants, though.

Some choice quotes from this so far:

‘The shrinkage of this clay is 17%. That’s almost as bad as VAT!’

‘It’s only a little crack!’

‘It is, and I’m filling that baby up!’

‘Who mastered pulling, and whose touch has let them down?’

The judges almost feel surplus to requirements.¬†Keith Brymer Jones is a strange looking man. His gelled up comb over makes it look like he has horns from a distance, and he’s prone to bursting into tears. Which is uncomfortable, to say the least. I’m also convinced that the other judge,¬†Kate Malone, is constantly stoned, she’s so airy and arty. Little innuendo comes from these guys, and really – the filth is the draw of this¬†show. I think I’d quite happily watch this show with just the contestants and Sara Cox every week, just to see the banter.

Next week is the final, and I’m going to miss it. The bloke and I are¬†hoping that Jim wins, as his Elvis hair totally steals the show. The man is a legend!