From little acorns…


A few weeks ago the Memsahib received a fairly large Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) compensatory refund. At the same time her PC began to “play up”. She decided to use the windfall to buy a new laptop computer. After much searching she found one, costing at least a couple of hundred pounds more than the incoming funds. Everyone agrees that it has far more capacity and processing power than she will ever need, but I am sure that Microsoft et al will soon find a way of using it all up!

“Before setting this up, I think the office needs a good clean and a lick of paint”, she said. Uh-oh. Well, it has been twenty years since the last redecoration.
“So we will need to clear it out and re-organise.” Uh-oh.

My turn. “Before we redecorate, why don’t we get more electric sockets installed”, says I. Our needs have grown since we adopted the smallest bedroom as an office when moving in in about 1997. On examination we are currently running a 4-socket extension, which is run from a 6-socket extension, which, together with an 8-socket extension is run from a 4-socket extension, which, together with a halogen uplighter with 2 sockets, is run from the single wall socket (with a residual current breaker fitted). Altogether plugged in, but not all active, we had 3 computers, 3 printers, the light, 2 desk lights, 2 storage drives, 2 USB powered hubs, the BT telephone and wi-fi connection, the wi-fi router, the burglar alarm, a label printer and various phone charging adaptors.

Now, from out of the blue, comes the idea that we need to replace both desks and review the wall-mounted shelving. My old desk will move to the shed (which will therefore need a complete reorganisation) as an extra workbench. Her desk (essentially a large table) will replace the table in the back end of our living room as my indoor hobby table.

And so, absolutely everything has to be moved out. Shelves are cleared. Filing cabinets purged and emptied into Really Useful Boxes. How come the contents of the smallest “bedroom” now fill every inch of spare space in the two next biggest rooms?
My desk is broken down for removal. Holes in the wall are being filled….

Things ain’t like they used to was.

I am very disappointed with the quality of products nowadays. The latest to land on my disapproval list is Swan Vestas matches.

Apart from reducing the sandpaper from both sides of the box to one only, the company has also developed a detachable match head that flies off in preference to actually catching fire.

After trying to light my pipe this evening, here are the remnants of the vestas.

The pipe is still not lit.  I will try again with cooks’ matches.

Meanwhile I have five new pieces of 1/300 scale timber. 🙂

And, by the way, nostalgia isn’t as much fun as it used to be.

Banks!!

Today I was notified that a mobile telephone company had previously taken, and is planning to take, payments from my account for a telephone that has been destroyed, the account closed, and for which all direct debit authorities have been cancelled.  I have today again cancelled the direct debit authority using my bank’s online facility, just as I did before.

My bank informs me that I can cancel the direct debit authority, but the payee may revoke the cancellation and take the money in any case.  That is not how I understood the agreement with my bank and I am disputing it.

The agreement was for a flat fee of £5.00 per month, including a set level of calls.  The telephone was destroyed some months ago, so why did they take without authority £9.88 last month and intend to take £5.19 next month?

Quotes

“Direct Debit is the safest way to make payments in the UK. The Direct Debit Guarantee gives you a right to immediate refunds for any payments which shouldn’t have been taken.” (Gocardless.co.uk)

“Money shouldn’t be collected from your account after you have cancelled and under the Scheme rules, an organisation would have to obtain your authority to reinstate a cancelled Instruction.” (www.directdebit.co.uk/DirectDebitExplained)

“Yes you cancel it anytime , we never will stop you for that, but the signed agreement is with virgin , you can control standing orders but direct debits are all governed by the companies with whom you have the set up.” (HSBC chatline 30/10/2018)

So, I assume that Virgin Media is simply ignoring the agreement and making up its own numbers each month, and that HSBC cannot be bothered to dispute the fact that I said “No more.”

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Since posting I have spent over an hour failing to create a user account on the Virgin Mobile website so that I can register a formal complaint.

 

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ACORN

ACORN – A Comment On Random Nomenclature.

In recent news it appears that the MOD (Ministry of Defence) uses far too many acronyms.  In fact many are not acronyms, as in ACORN, but initialisms.  They seem to be designed to include “those who know” and exclude “those who can only guess”.

Some years ago, at a business seminar, the assembled middle management was requested to write on “post-it” notes what was wrong with the company.  These were stuck on the wall and chosen at random for discussion*.

One of mine was selected.  “Too many TLAs”  The obvious first question – “What’s a TLA?”.  “A Three Letter Abbreviation.”  Point proven.

It does appear that frequently projects and departments are named specifically to provide an acronym from their name.

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* A second note that I submitted: “Nobody told me that we had a communication problem” was also discussed.

Anachronisms and organisation

Someone on Channel 5’s “Great British Model Railway Challenge” first episode commented that in the recent film “Dunkirk”, the characters boarded a 1960s train.

Sorry, but that film began to lose me within the first two minutes when our hero walked past an obviously late 20th century building. I think the producers or directors may have been too caught up in the actual location to seek a realistic location.

And today, while clearing up and meticulously filing (yes – I am getting organised) models from my most recent wargame I have “The Cockleshell Heroes” on the TV in the background. A gratuitous and unnecessary* side shot of a German warship clearly bearing a British frigate reference number. Showing the crew wearing German hats a few moments later does not rectify the glaring error.

But while organising my 1:285 and 1:300 scale models I see that I have far too many 1940 Germans representing 1944 types – exactly like most film costume designers.
And I have created Arnhem with British church ruins and Normandy shops. Who am I to criticise?

Incidentally, during a TV advertisement break in the film I was informed that Colgate toothpaste is created by professionals. Well, that’s another worry resolved!

*Gratuitous and unnecessary. Is that tautology? I stand open to correction from fellow pedants.

Game of Thrones

While driving around the country yesterday I listened to the first 5 hours of the audiobook “A Song of Ice and Fire”, better known as volume one of “Game of Thrones”.

Today, with a mountain of ironing to process, I watched the beginning of the TV series. I have seen it before, but with the original writing in my head it made much more sense. The production, locations and characters are superb, and as close to the book as one can achieve for an entertaining TV series.

I particularly like the opening sequences (developed as the story progresses) depicting mechanical gearing operation, indicating the background political mechanics, and which is later reflected in the pseudo-mediaeval castle backdrops.

One problem with the audio book is the allocation of British Regional accents to characters, and particularly the lack of consistency. I am not sure that I am in favour of using regional accents to identify characters, even if Westeros has similarities to Britain in its geography. But when a character who speaks with a Lancashire accent for three chapters suddenly becomes Welsh and a scotsman migrates to Yorkshire at the same time I start to question the production values.