Blog

City Hall

I may not agree with everything our delightful new Mayor does but I have to say that I think the London Assembly building, which was opened by The Queen yesterday, is a stunning building.

I may not agree with everything our delightful new Mayor does but I have to say that I think the London Assembly building, which was opened by The Queen yesterday, is a stunning building. I am pleased to see that, in this age of taller, squarer buildings, we (occasionally) still strive to build something that is visually stunning. Now all I have to do is get down there and see it with my own eyes.

Try the M11

You can see what this is about when I say, “eventually, the car is unloaded outside my house at 2.45am (with apologies to all my neighbour who would have been woken up by the noise)”. Obviously, I didn’t win a brad new car.

I feel it was an interesting weekend. Some of it I don’t want to repeat but mostly good fun and the kind of things that should be done at weekends if you slave all week in an office. It started yesterday afternoon when my brother arrived and we spent two hours in a car driving round south London roads to get across the river and on to the M11 motorway. It’s not the easiest thing from South West London and should really start another rant about the state of London’s roads but I am too tired for that! (it’s also good to see somebody else wondered what the strange tower was)

Arriving in Takeley for a family christening and all is well. It is nice to see some of the members of the family who I do not see too often. We had planned to leave around 8pm and head back for SW17 but we were having a good time and partied until 11pm. It’s hard partying drinking only water but I still had a good time.

So, off we set. 10 minutes on the M11 and the radiator overheats, I lose all power on the car and just about manage to get it onto the hard shoulder before it grinds to a halt in the middle of the carriageway. Then, 50 minutes later a bloke from the RAC arrives and, without really looking at the engine because he can tell it would do no use, loads the car onto the back of the truck and me & my brother into the cab for the ride south. Then we hit the Blackwall Tunnel. At 1am (Sunday) we are caught in a traffic queue for an hour as traffic try to negotiate one lane in the tunnel (cue for another rant about London traffic). Eventually, the car is unloaded outside my house at 2.45am (with apologies to all my neighbour who would have been woken up by the noise).

A Cool Forty Million

Apparently we need £40 million to cope with our rising fridge problem. I don’t have a problem with my fridge but if I was recycling it then I would be contributing. To be honest, that’s all there is in this post so you don’t need to read anymore.

Apparently we need £40 million to cope with our rising fridge problem. £40 million! It amazes me how much we need to spend to recycle. Wow. And I can’t get the council to deliver my recycling bags. [recycling link]

A Non-Existent Dream

If we’re not careful, the UK will topple over as the South East of Britain sinks into The Channel under the weight of all the people migrating from other parts of the country.

After last night’s little rant on the state of the London Underground system, I heard about this morning’s nonsense from the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) to start charging commuters more to sit on over-crowded, dirty, late-running trains. I guess the plan reasons that charging higher fares means fewer people will travel by train. Surely, this proves that an integrated transport policy for London’s workers remains a non-existent dream. Ken Livingston wants to charge people for driving into central London. The SRA wants to charge more for travelling on trains. How are people expected to get into work? The answer is they will still drive and take the train and it will cost them more – status quo remains. It seems to me that nobody is prepared to do what it takes to sort transport in the South East out. And that still stinks.

So then, I got to thinking about John Prescott’s [John Prescott as Boss of Bosses?] little plan to build more affordable housing in the South East of England (to ease the cronic housing shortage, apparently). Affordable housing implies that this is aimed at people on a lower wage (am I taking a big leap here?). How, exactly, are these people going to get to work in London if train prices rise and roads get tolls? Again, it appears inconsitnet and badly thought out. Why not take some of these £4 billion and encourage businesses to move out of the South East to areas where there are too many houses or where there is less congestion. If we’re not careful, the UK will topple over as the South East of Britain sinks into The Channel under the weight of all the people migrating from other parts of the country.

London Life Underground

It’s a rant about the tube. Summer brings its own special brand of problems for London’s sub-terrain commuters: hot, sweaty and stuck in tunnels on the way to the office does not make for a contented work force.

The great struggle to and from work in London is over as another strike by London Underground staff finishes and the tube returns to its normal, over-crowded, hot, sticky self. I don’t think there can be a person in this City who does not believe that the Underground is under funded and appears, at times, not too far from breaking point. Summer brings its own special brand of problems for London’s sub-terrain commuters: hot, sweaty and stuck in tunnels on the way to the office does not make for a contented work force. When will Tony Blair, Ken Livingston and Bob Crow stop using the Underground as a great big political football and start doing something to ease the plight of those who try and use London’s public transport on a regular basis? I, along with most people who have chosen to live, work or visit London, am fed up with the self-serving posturing of the politicians and union leaders. I can’t say if I think the strike was wrong or not but I do know that the very fact that none of the parties involved are currently at a negotiating table resolving all issues and developing long-term strategies for coping with increasing commuter volumes stinks worse than the armpits of that harassed member of the public I will be squashed against tomorrow morning. Please somebody, for the sake of those of us who voted for you and pay for you, sort out the mess. [current tube status]

50 Things

The list of 50 things that have most affected our lives in the last 50 years is one of those fascinating lists that I will read and re-read for a long time to come. I can’t decide which affected me most.

Overyourhead is London-based blogger bloke. He has this list [official site] from Birmingham’s Thinktank. Thinktank is the city’s new museum of science and technology and looks fantastic. I will certainly pay it a visit on my next voyage to Birmingham.

The list of 50 things that have most affected our lives in the last 50 years is one of those fascinating lists that I will read and re-read for a long time to come.

1980 Ghetto blaster and Sony Walkman
1981 Compact discs on sale
1982 Video keyhole surgery
1983 Synthetic human insulin cleared for sale
1984 DNA fingerprint
1985 First registered dotcom

I can’t decide which affected me most but there was a woman on the radio last night citing 1955 – the invention of the non-stick saucepan – as being fairly important to modern life. As I have never found a non-stick pan that is exactly that, then I would have to disagree.

All For A New Pair of Shoes

While there, I was made to run up and down with my trousers rolled up.

Tonight was the Official Opening of The Commonwealth Games. Does anybody still care about The Commonwealth except when they have these games? And I missed the opening ceremony – which, to be honest, is likely to be the only bit I would have watched. I was running in my new running shoes which I suspect is one of the best excuses I have ever had for not sitting on my backside) I bought them this afternoon. I went to Run and Become which has a branch not too far from where I work. While there, I was made to run up and down with my trousers rolled up. Apparently, this was so that the sales assistant could see how I actually run. Personally, I think she was doing it for the amusement of the diners in the cafe opposite. Anyway, I came away £60 lighter with a nice new pair of running shoes.

Less Substantial Thinking

I know one thing for sure, Google is a lot easier than the old Encyclopaedia Index volume.

Why do I always seem to post the links the rest of the blogging world sees? Anyway, this caught my attention today. I use the internet for research purposes but I was not fortunate enough to have access when I was studying. This article essentially implies that researching on the ‘Net is not as good as reading a good old-fashioned book. “The quality of information [on the Internet] is below what you find in print,” according to the story. Perhaps it is but then most of the information still remains free on the web. I wonder if we’ll ever get an appropriate charging model that allows people to use the ‘Net for the research they need but pay in the same way as those who buy the books. Is it down to the libraries to pay to put the information online? On the upside, “‘Net thinkers are said to generate work quickly and make connections easily”. I know one thing for sure, Google is a lot easier than the old Encyclopaedia Index volume.

Number One

Well for no reason at all, I decided to look up what was the number one UK single on this day in 1982 (I don’t even know why I chose that year). Well, it’s a bit of a minefield as it somewhat depends on which chart you count as being the “official” chart.

Well for no reason at all, I decided to look up what was the number one UK single on this day in 1982 (I don’t even know why I chose that year). Well, it’s a bit of a minefield as it somewhat depends on which chart you count as being the “official” chart. Still, it would appear that it was Irene Cara and the theme from Fame which is, of course, one of the greatest records from my childhood.

Online Advertising Wasn’t The Same in 1996

Looking at yesterday’s Way Back Machine link again, [yesterday’s link] I am struck by the lack (almost, anyway) of commercial messages on the Yahoo! Page from 1996. Obviously, any sensible person realises that, in the end, all this great web content has to be paid for somehow. I am more than happy that the company I work for manages to pay my salary on a monthly basis. Still, can’t help wondering if it’s all gone mad now: Is Our Industry a Modern-Day Sodom and Gomorrah?

I Like Yahoo!

A nice clean interface for the new look Yahoo homepage which is very nice indeed.

The new look Yahoo homepage (http://www.yahoo.com/) carries on Yahoo’s tradition of a clean interface but brings a fresher look. I have always liked that clean feel about most of Yahoo’s interface. I hope they bring it to the UK site soon and make similar changes to My Yahoo! It’s so sad that this makes me happy!

UPDATE: Of course the problem with a post like this is that it dates very quickly. Still, back then Yahoo was a very clean interface!

Did They Make It Up?

I swear some news is made up: A pair of Canadian otters brought to Britain a year ago are under 24-hour guard at the National Sea-life Sanctuary, near Oban in Scotland, because of fears they will be attacked by indigenous cousins unable to understand their “foreign accents”.

I swear some news is made up: A pair of Canadian otters brought to Britain a year ago are under 24-hour guard at the National Sea-life Sanctuary, near Oban in Scotland, because of fears they will be attacked by indigenous cousins unable to understand their “foreign accents”. [Independent]

Amazon A Go-Go

I love Amazon. They’re they way the world should do the online shopping experience. Then again, I hate Amazon. They keep recommending stuff I want so I buy it. But just now, I love them. I got my first two reviews published!

I love Amazon. They’re they way the world should do the online shopping experience.

Then again, I hate Amazon. They keep recommending stuff I want so I buy it.

But just now, I love them. I got my first two reviews published:

Start Up – Jerry Kaplan
Piloting Palm – Andrea Butter and David Pogue

Continue reading “Amazon A Go-Go”

In My Thoughts

My granddad was born on 1 July so it would have been his birthday yesterday. He died several years ago and I have to say that I miss him. I lit a candle at St Paul’s Cathedral on Sunday.

My granddad was born on 1 July so it would have been his birthday yesterday. He died several years ago and I have to say that I miss him. I lit a candle at St Paul’s Cathedral on Sunday. I just had the urge. I wonder why I did that? I am not the most spiritual person in the world nor am I the greatest believer. St Paul’s was so peaceful and relaxing I think I will go again. And it’s really beautiful inside – which is something I had never noticed before.

Shopping Madness

So, you would rather give me my money back than work with me to arrange delivery. Isn’t that rather short-sighted. Why would I ever shop with you again?

So, I try and buy a new power supply from a computer supplier (let’s say they are called Tell Computers).

Buy online and pay by credit card. They will only ship to credit card billing address. No problem I say, somebody will be there to pick it up and sign for it. Takes so long to arrive that nobody is there anymore. So, I think, I’ll have the courrier redeliver to work. They can’t change delivery address without Tell’s permission. OK, I say, somebody will be in on Thursday, please deliver it then. They try and deliver Friday.

No problem, thinks I. I will have them deliver one evening. “We don’t do evening deliveries,” they say. So I say, “I’m in Saturday”. “We don’t work weekends”. Huum.

“What about if I collect from your depot?”

“It a delivery centre with no collection point. Try calling Tell to have the address changed.”

“Hello Tell. Here’s my problem”

“Sorry, I’m in billing. Here’s customer service.”

“Hello Customer Service. Here’s my problem.”

“We can change the address. Oh, you bought online. You’ll need to speak to our Internet team”.

“Hello Internert Team. I have a problem and I’ve spoken to many people. I am assured you can help me.”

“No. We can’t change the address because you paid by credit card.”

“But here’s the problem. I am not at home during the day anymore. You don’t deliver evenings, weekend and you don’t have a collection point.”

“Can’t help you. Sorry.”

So I say, “I will have to send it back and have a refund”.

“Certainly Sir, no problem.”

“So, you would rather give me my money back than work with me to arrange delivery. Isn’t that rather short-sighted. Why would I ever shop with you again?”

“Sorry, that’s our policy. Somebody will call within the hour to confirm the refund”.

That was Thursday morning. Nobody has called.

Agggggggggghhhhh