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Archive for August, 2008

Shop thy neighbour

I have never in all my days of reading the local papers, read of such a horrendous scheme as that reported in the Newcastle Journal today, proposed by the police in Swarland near Alnwick – in which they propose that neighbours anonymously shop drivers they THINK are speeding talk about abdicating responsibilities!! The first thing that came to my mind when I read this, was the McCarthy era in the USA in which residents were encouraged to shop potential communists or even Russia under the thumb of the CCCP.

How on EARTH would someone who does not drive a car be able to accurately gauge whether or not a driver is speeding and does ANYONE really believe we have the self discipline NOT to shop those we dislike? Given the opportunity to anonymously and safely shop a speeder I’d imagine a healthy minority, perhaps the majority would use this as an opportunity to shop the fellow who persistently uses up their parking space or perhaps the neighbour who’s been rude… whatever happened to accountability?

There are many schemes for slowing down motorists, the much-hated speed bumps being a prime example, solar-powered warning signs being another this is NOT the solution and it will bring out the worst in people. This pathological hatred of motorists would not be so bad if our police were more successful with other types of crime like burglary. How about letting us bash the life out of burglars as many of us would love to do that’d be a more useful way of doing the law’s job.

If someone shops me on suspicion of breaking the law I want to know who they are so I can sue them when their accusations are proven false! This is not right.

SHOP THY NEIGHBOUR

I have never in all my days of reading the local papers, read of such a horrendous scheme as that reported in the Newcastle Journal today, proposed by the police in Swarland near Alnwick – in which they propose that neighbours annonymously shop drivers they THINK are speeding talk about abdicating responsibilities!! The first thing that came to my mind when I read this, was the McCarthy era in the USA in which residents were encouraged to shop potential communists or even Russia under the thumb of the CCCP. How on EARTH would someone who does not drive a car be able to accurately gauge whether or not a driver is speeding and does ANYONE really believe we have the self discipline NOT to shop those we dislike? Given the opportunity to anonymously and safely shop a speeder I’d imagine a healthy minority, perhaps the majority would use this as an opportunity to shop the fellow who persistently uses up their parking space or perhaps the neighbour who’s been rude… whatever happened to accountability?

There are many schemes for slowing down motorists, the much-hated speed bumps being a prime example, solar-powered warning signs being another this is NOT the solution and it will bring out the worst in people. This pathological hatred of motorists would not be so bad if our police were more successful with other types of crime like burglary. How about letting us bash the life out of burglars as many of us would love to do that’d be a more useful way of doing the law’s job.

If someone shops me on suspicion of breaking the law I want to know who they are so I can sue them when their accusations are proven false! This is not right.

Orange – Update – the phone works- kind of

The ongoing saga of Orange…

Around 3 weeks ago, it became that time of year when I could upgrade my phone. Only a few weeks earlier my wife had upgraded her phone to the HTC Tytn II – and so I rang up to upgrade my phone, currently the earlier original HTC Tytn model. No chance – out of date. My options (given a need for Microsoft Mobile Pocket PC version – ie touch-phone) boiled down to the new HTC Touch Diamond or another HTC model both of which I could have for free- given my long-standing use of Orange.

Fine so far, I checked and the other model was far, far too big to fit in the pocket. So I went for the Touch Diamond. Well, the fellow I originally spoke to apologised that the phone was not in stock and I’d get an SMS as soon as it was. That was 3 weeks ago. I rang up last week to see what was happening. This time I spoke to a fellow who was most insistant that the term “smartphone” was so generic as to mean very litte. I’m not sure why he told me that – but he did. “But the Touch Diamond IS in stock” he said. That’ll be £39 please.

I pointed out that I generally don’t pay for such phones and I’d been assured that the phones were both available to me free according to the previous fellow. No, the Touch WAS in stock but would be £39 and the other phone would be £149. He pointed our that Orange, like any other company was free to change it’s prices from day to day. I said I’d leave it and study the options. Clearly I was not going to get anywhere with THIS employee.

The next day I rang back and got another employee – this time a young guy who seemed pretty switched on. He said that the phones were £39 as per the previous guy. I asked whatever happened to the importance of customer loyalty to Orange. This was after all the same price offered to new customers. He pressed a few buttons – and came back to me – how about the phone for FREE and a £5 loyalty bonus (let’s not forget they get a new 18 month contract out of the deal and some suppliers give an ITOUCH away for free). THAT’s better I said happily – “I’ll have one – when can I have it?”. Initially he said they could deliver tomorrow – so I ordered the phone – at which point he told me “I’m sorry, but the phones are out of stock”…. HOWEVER he WILL send me a text when they ARE in stock. Really – and he’ll keep a personal eye on incoming phones and contact me.

The thing is – there ARE some competent guys in Orange – and they DO have some decent deals – the problem is the total, utter and completely inadequate training they get – as in many areas, I suspect the ones who give good advice spent some time learning off their own bat. If you read one of my earlier blogs (and I’ve had a running battle against Orange incompetence for years), you’ll know that I only found out that Orange offer an excellent unlimited (3g) broadband deal for mobile phones by WORD OF MOUTH from a pal of mine – despite years of using data they’ve never offered this to me and it’s not readily apparent on their totally crap website (which if you try to DO anything with it, usually ends up saying you need to contact an operator, or it’s down for maintainance or it’s just plain BUST).

I’ve now got a good deal on broadband use and I’ve ALMOST got a great phone …. with Orange however it’s always a case of getting from the DREAM to the REALITY, that last step – that sometimes feels impossible. If this is the future, we’re in real trouble.

Update: I received an SMS yesterday to say the phone is in – AND the guy made sure I understood the contract – turns out the £5 is actually a fiver a month OFF.. so if this all pans out I’m well impressed (by the deal, not the training) – as it looks like I’ll be getting all the above for £25 a month. The HTC Touch Diamond turned up today – first impressions… it’s the nearest thing I’ve seen up to now to a miniature i-phone.

Second impressions: The phone is WAY ahead of anything HTC has done in the past, but typically, it’s far from perfect. I managed to confuse it within a day and had to turn it off. What’s amazing about this model compared to previous models is the Opera browser. I’ve never rated Opera but in this case it works a treat. The high-res screen (480*640) handles web page zooming in and out – and like the iphone it has an accelerometer so it knows when you turn it on it’s side – sadly that only works for a few programs. But I have my wifi router software and some net radio streaming stuff all working a treat on it – and it handle YouTube videos virtually perfectly – that’s a MAJOR advance. Last night at the pub I noticed it was very warm – and had flattened the battery – so the case needs looking at – I think I’ll buy something other than the standard cover. Would I pay £450 for it as advertised – hell no, but for a phone on contract, this surely has to be the best on offer?

Well yes and no. The phone is wonderful – but it has bugs – one is battery heating, another is sluggishness or crashing. I checked the ROM numbers and they are dated June 2008. 2 months later HTC brought out upgrades which fix the problems – but if you try to enter your ORANGE serial numbers into HTCs site – you get no-where and so can’t get the updates. You can get them from XDA developers but of course that’s your guarantee up the river.

Users have contacted Orange only to get the usual dense responses… but apparently one dealer contacted Orange sho said that updates will be available in September. I will be following this very closely.Orange are not known for encouraging user fixes to their products.

Day one the battery didn’t last the day!

Update: Armed with the prospect of waiting for Orange to supply updates (which can take months if ever) I went off to the XDA developer’s group – and they have update ROMS. I’m taking no responsibility here as these DIY updates can turn your phone into a brick – suffice it to say that a few days later, I have a phone that is updated to the latest versions – it’s working fine – but battery life is still an issue – no way will the phone last a whole day without a top-up so I’ve ordered a spare battery + charger from Hong Kong. Anyway for those who like to dabble – here at least is the link

Update March 2009: Now on my THIRD Touch Diamond from Orange, eventually ALL of them have had a ringtone problem – this one won’t ring – you can hear the ring on test, the volune looks ok and sounds ok when you mess with the volume control – the notifications are set to ring on incoming call – but when an actual call comes through – NOTHING. I’ve tested this very carefully – there is CLEARLY a design fault with this phone and no-one seems to know what to do about it. In the morning I am once again going to get onto Orange and demand they do something about it. Last time they said I could choose a different model once it had been replaced 3 times – we’ll see how that pans out.

Britain really DOES have Talent

If the names Paul Potts and Connie Talbot are old hat to you – stop reading. I couldn’t help but share this however…

Well, to cut a long story short, I must’ve been living on an alternative universe for the last year, because despite watching X-Factor occasionally, I’ve missed the “Britain’s got Talent” series which culminated in a variety show performance in front of the Queen.

The winner was a guy called Paul Potts… a mobile phone salesman who’d always wanted to do opera… stumbled on it this morning. When you see the video for the first minute you’ll think I’m barking mad for suggesting it might just reduce you to a knot in your throat– until you hear him and watch him perform. Watch the faces of the audience and the judges – absolutely blew me away. Here’s his first shot at the show…

Well, as happens – once you look at something in YouTube you have to have a look at the rest… and the runner up in 2007 next to this staggeringly talented gentleman – is a 6 year old called Connie Talbot. I didn’t think it was possible to get excited about TWO artists in one day… but amazingly – well, judge for yourself – and remember SIX years old…