Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nokia N8–Friend or Foe?

It’s now been a few week since I got my N8 and I am quite confident that I have been in to just about all of it’s nooks and crannies. 

I am please to say that the only disappointment so far has been Nokia. 

Lets start with the negative, to get it out of the way.

For some unexplained reason the device ships with no podcasting (podcatcher) software installed and despite my best efforts I have not managed to get one of the .sis files offered on the Nokia website to actually install.  I have spoken to their help desk and been promised  a call back but, as is their way, none has been forthcoming.  It has been a couple of weeks since I last tried, and I will try again (as this is really the only fly in the ointment).

The only other thing that does not work is the Audible player (so I can listen to audio books) but I do not hold this against anyone (not even Nokia) as it is a very new phone and I am sure they will come up with a version that works asap.

So let’s move on to better things…

I manually copied some podcasts and music to the N8 and, as is my way, proceeded to delete them as I finished listening.  Arrggghh!! an old N97 “feature” appeared.  One of the podcasts refused to delete and kept on telling me that it was “in use”.  This was not possible as I was playing other media in the player.  I tried using the file manager to remove the file, but to no avail.  Eventually I connected it to my laptop and delete the offending file (brute force and ignorance).  I was expecting the file to still appear in the music player and clutter the place up for ever and a day, as it did in the N97, But NO!!  When I went back in to the player it was gone.  Joy!!

I have had a few syncing issues, duplicate calendar entries, addresses etc, but I suspect that was because I was using Goosync and the Nokia Ovi over-the-air Sync AND Ovi Suite.  Since I stopped doing that and restricted myself to Goosync and the Ovi Suite things have settled down.  I am syncing, via the PC to Google and Ovi, but can’t decide if their is any point to the Ovi stuff.

Other than that the Phone is great!  Email syncing with Gmail and Live Mail works well.  Why would you want a Blackberry?  I have loaded a game or two, just as a test as I really am not a gamer, and the graphics are stunning.  The Camera is beyond fantastic, although I currently have 2 stuck MMS’s that have gone but will not clear from the Queue.  I suspect it is because I sent very high res images.  Doh!

One bit of good news since I started writing this.  I have found a site that has great Free Symbian applications I have loaded a podcatcher from here.  It is a beta, and a little flaky, but does do the job and I am sure it will get better.  I also have a file manager that makes the inbuilt one look like a bit of an embracement. The site has loads of other tools and apps that can really enhance your phone.  Or bugger it up.  So beware and load them at your own risk.  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!

One feature that I really like is the ability to lock the phone by sending a text message.  One message with a secret code word in it and the phone locks itself, the SIM and the memory card. Fantastic if I ever leave the phone somewhere.  It means that I know that it cannot be abused while I figure out what I have done with it.

Anyway, I will end now and may add some more comments later.  Suffice to say that this is a major improvement by Nokia and it sounds like Symbian ^4 is on it’s way which should be a good thing.

Shame Nokia support is so poor.

Anyone know how I can get rid of the stuck messages?

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Nokia N8 – First impressions

After a long wait my new Nokia N8 has arrived.  I will, over the next week or two give a bit of a review of it, but lets start here with some initial thoughts.

Looks – This phone looks great!  unfortunately the camera lens sticks out of the back, but I am willing to live with that for 12mp camera with auto focus and real flash.  On the back of the unit there is a logo that sticks out too, which is rather irritating.  I would have preferred it if the back was covered in a non-slip coating like many of the Android phones out there.

Keyboard – There isn’t one. That is one thing I really will miss from my N97, except the hinge was starting to go so I wonder how much longer it would have been before it completely failed.  The onscreen keyboard is actually quite usable, when you turn the phone sideways so you get the qwerty keyboard.

What am I expecting?  Well, what I would like is the N97 that works! 

So far that seems to be what I have.  Alas it does not have the podcasting app installed as standard (why not!!????!!!)  but I am working on that (as the ones I have found on the Nokia site do not work).  Also the Audible player will not play! but it does install?  Very strange, but again I am working on that.  My laptop has decided that it does not want to see the phone in Ovi or  PC Suite; strangely it does allow me to access the disk on the phone, so I am not too upset.  I really need internet access on the move, but I have some alternative tethering tricks that I will be trying over the next few days, so all is not lost.  I must say that I think that my laptop could probably do with a reinstall so I don’t blame the phone for the last 2 failures.  Windows 7 also does not seem to have all the required Bluetooth drivers, this is probably due to the fact that the phone has not actually been released yet, so I am willing to  give Nokia the benefit of the doubt for a week or 2.

I like the 3 home screens, and the onscreen widgets are great.  I especially like the way it integrates with Gmail and gives me Blackberry like functionality buy checking mail on a schedule and buzzing when it finds some.  Made doubly useful by allowing me to select a “Blackout” period (11pm-8am) when it will not bother me.

So far so good.  I have not had that many calls since I got the phone so I have not yet had a chance to experience the worse failings of the N97 (i.e. missing calls because the pesky thing would not let me answer them and not giving me access to a dial pad so I can choose 1, 2 or 3 to control my auto attendant).

One feature that does seem missing (possibly because I have not looked hard enough) is the ability to lock the phone remotely by sending a text.

Anyway, enough for now and I will post some more in a few days when I have had more time to use the phone.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Quote from Edith Wharton

"Another unsettling element in modern art is that common symptom of immaturity, the dread of doing what has been done before."

View article...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Senna and the death of F1

This weeks Top Gear was a cracker.

The film celebrating Senna ( really brought it home that F1 has slowly been drowning under a sea of technology. (oh and, had Senna lived, that would have been one of the greatest F1 years ever!).

Don't get me wrong. I love technology and I think that for mere mortals it can be the difference between a nice fast drive in the country and a hospital ward. But there is nothing finer than watching a skilled driver tame an F1 car and drive on the ragged edge. Some of the shots of Senna controlling 1200 BHP as the car squirms it's way down the road are amazing. Even Mr Hamiliton (who is no mean driver himself) admitted that it was a totally different driving experience.

I know that F1 is a test bed for new car technology. But to survive as a spectator sport it needs to bring some of the "fun" back. Michael Schumachar, great driver that he is, is just boring to watch. Get him in a good car and he just wins, he is a machine. Well I have a Playstation if I want to watch a machine drive. All the races I have watched recently are just to clinical. The computer is controlling big bits of the car and preventing all the shimmies and squirms. Until the point the driver cocks up or something breaks, in which case it crashes. Where's the skill? (no I am not saying they are not skilled drivers, anyone that can can control a car at those speeds is clearly a skilled driver, and has nerves of steel) I want to see cars scrapping and duelling for position. Wheel to wheel combat. I want the guy at the front to have to fight for it and then defend it all the way to the line.

Currently, who ever has the best technology, gets the best grid position and wins. BOOORRRIINNNGGG!!!

How about randomising the grid? Just pull starting positions out of a hat? or reverse the grid so that the winner of the last race starts at the back? or have the drivers pull a car number out of a hat? (that would make the constructors and drivers championships really mean something!) or simply have a rota so that every driver drives every car (over the course of the year) not sure if the numbers work on that one, but you get the idea.

Get rid of the driver aids! I can see the argument for ABS but surly this level of driver can cope without traction control and launch control? I can see the point of flappy paddle gear box's but lets make them dumb. Press the button and the gear changes, do it at the wrong speed and the gearbox explodes!

Let's make the drives DRIVE not just be passengers is a glorified video game. Actually. We could take the drivers out of the car, make them drive by remote control and then take all the restrictions away so the cars can go as fast as technology (dam!) can make them go.... Hmmmm... Now I am being silly.... Or am I?

It's been said before... The 80's were a great decade. Let's wind F1 back a bit.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Weight Loss Using The Dog Food DIET

I was buying 2 large bags of Purina dog chow at Wal-Mart for my dogs, Winston, Chief, Gus, and Maximus. I was about to check out when a woman behind me asked if I had a dog.


Surprised by the question, I asked her: 
"What do you think I have? A small elephant?

Since I had little else to do, on impulse, I told her: "NO, I didn't have a dog. I was starting the Purina Diet again, although I probably shouldn't because I ended up in the hospital last time I was on it. However, On the bright side though, I'd lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care ward with tubes coming out of every hole in my body and IVs in both arms.

"I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and that the way that it works is to load your pockets with Purina nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry and that the food is nutritionally complete so I was going to try it again."

(I have to mention here that practically everyone in the line was enthralled with my story by now.)

Horrified, she asked if I ended up in intensive care because the dog food had poisoned me.


I told her: 
"No. I had stopped in the middle of the parking lot to lick my butt and a car hit me."

I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack, he was laughing so hard!

WAL-MART won't let me shop in that store anymore.

Sunday, June 06, 2010


Well it had to happen.

I have just spent the evening messing with a virtual Ubuntu 10.01. And I must say I quite like it.

Being as it is on a VM none of the visual effects (if there are any) work, but other than that it was easy enough to install and get working. Actually all I did was install it and it started working by itself. I did manage to break the network connection for a short while, but that was down to it being on a VM and it did not take long to fix.

Most of the pre-installed apps are ok, but the messaging tools are great. Being able to login to all my assorted messaging apps in one place is really handy.

Considering that it is running on a desktop PC that is also running a virtual XP and only has 512Mb allocated to it the performance is great.

I would like to give it a more extensive trial, but am not quite brave enough to make it my main platform yet. This is because by laptop is critical to my work and I am not au faix enough with Ubuntu to be 100% confident that I can get it to do everything I need in double quick time. This laptop is ageing and as soon as I can replace it I think I will make it 100% Ubuntu and run it in parallel to what ever new machine I get.

As I have said before, the platform is far less important that the tools (apps) that I need to use. Maybe I will be able to find free, Linux based, alternatives to all the tools I use. Alas there is no MS Office for Linux (Open office is just not compatible enough) <flame suit on>, Maybe XP (Win 7) in a VM ;)

Just My 2C worth.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Homebase Finally Respond

Well, Well, Well….


Finally got a response from Homebase.


They have basically totally failed to respond to any of my questions and comments, but have apologised for “inconveniencing” me.


They have also given me £30 worth of Homebase vouchers.  That does not really cover the time I have wasted on this or address any of my issues, but I really don’t want to waste any more time on them.


A result of sorts….

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Homebase Enquiries

Just spoken to Paul at Homebase.
He has promised to get back to me within 24 hours.

We will see....

Re: Your Appalling Service

The Arrogance of this firm is outstanding! The cannot even send me an email that is written in decent English!

Lets's not forget the fact that that they refuse to address my issue!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Homebase Enquiries <>
Date: 18 May 2010 15:17
Subject: re: Re: Your Appalling Service

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for your e-mail regarding Your Appalling Service parking fines.

I am sorry for the delay in responding to your e-mail, whilst we do aim to ensure that all e-mails are answered within 48 hours, due to the high number we receive this
may not always be possible.

Whilst we never like to hear that anyone less than satisfied with the service they receive we do appreciate knows where we need to make improvements.

I am sorry you received a parking fine while shopping in a Homebase Store, as you do not state which store, could I suggest you take your receipt and parking fine into this store and speak to the manager who will try and assist you.

Should you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us at or call us on 0845 077 8888.


Carol Grace
Homebase E-Commerce Customer Service Team.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Downing Street Siege

The Downing Street Siege ended peacefully this week when a fifty nine year old man (of no fixed address) was taken into custody to answer charges of impersonating a British Prime Minister, electoral fraud, and causing wilful damage to the economy. The accused reserved his plea, and was bound over to be on good behaviour until his next appearance.

The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money. - Margaret Thatcher

Friday, May 14, 2010


Still no response from Homebase…

The sound of silence is deafening.

Is that what they think of their customers?

Think I will have to investigate the head office number and pursue it there.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Re: Your Appalling Service


On 12 May 2010 13:28, Homebase Enquiries <> wrote:
Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for your e-mail regarding the service you have received.

I am sorry you have been unsatisfied with the service you have received.

Please forward us your complaint so we can investigate further.

Should you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us at or call us on 0845 077 8888.


Sarah Gate
Homebase E-Commerce Customer Service Team.

For your reference the above reply is in reference to your earlier email

Much though I hate to repeat myself....

I am dissatisfied with the following....
  1. Wasting my time having to make several phone calls and send several emails just because we wanted some of your products and had the temerity to spend more than an arbitrary amount of time in your car park.
  2. Receiving a demand for £95 that is made up to look like an official PCN. I am now led to believe that these documents are not legally valid and I should have just binned it! That is just extortion.
  3. The fact that having made 3 phone calls to 3 different members of your staff, I was told 3 different things!
  4. The fact that having made a formal complaint to you I receive no formal responce.
  5. Repeating myself because you do not keep track of cutomer interactions.
Need I carry on?
Any Decent Company would have a manager contact me in order to resolve my issues.
Clearly Homebase does not care about it's clients!

The "Conversation" Continues..

From: Me
Sent: 12 May 2010 13:17
To: 'Samantha Stevens'

Yes, I read that in your 1st message.

During the many conversations I have had with your company I have raised a number of specific complaints. These should be on the record.

I am formally requesting a response from Homebase to my questions.

And one more question,

You Say “However, we do also appreciate that there may be occasions when customers are shopping in our store longer than 90 minutes. Under these circumstances, the store does have the discretion to advise the car parking agent to ensure no penalty is issued.”

Your store staff do not seem to know that as they were adamant that there was nothing that they could do, when I called the store. What do you intend to do to ensure that your staff have the correct training on such matters.

I cannot believe that I am the only person to suffer from this situation that is nothing more than extortion.

By the way…

Parking in Homebase

This appears to be Homebases way of saying “Go away and annoy someone else!”

They really value their customers….

From: Samantha Stevens []
Sent: 12 May 2010 13:05

A waiver letter was sent by G24 on the 6th May.

If you haven’t received this I can arrange another copy.

Samantha Stevens

Retail Operations

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Reply to them

Actually it does!


1. I would have though that you would have been pleased that people were spending time in your store, not penalising them and inconveniencing them!  I have had to make several calls to clear up this mistake on your part.

2. You had better train your staff in store better.  I spoke to them and was told that there was nothing they could do.  Either they did not know what to do or were too lazy to do it!

I am totally lost for words by the poor level of service Homebase provide.


Homebase Finally Reply

On 11 May 2010 17:31, Samantha Stevens <> wrote:

Thank you for your e-mail of 6th May and apologies that you have not previously received a response.

Car parking regulations have been installed at a number of our sites as a measure to ensure our customers have access to our store at all times. We would not wish to think this deters any of our loyal customers from shopping with us.  Due consideration was made prior to this measure being taken and it was felt that 90 minutes would be adequate parking time.   However, we do also appreciate that there may be occasions when customers are shopping in our store longer than 90 minutes.  Under these circumstances, the store does have the discretion to advise the car parking agent to ensure no penalty is issued.

With regards to your own circumstances, having since consulted with G24 they have confirmed that you have been in contact with them directly and that your PCN has now been waivered. Therefore I trust this matter has now been resolved to your satisfaction.

I apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused you and I trust this incident does not deter you from shopping at Homebase in the future.


Samantha Stevens

Retail Operations


Saturday, May 08, 2010

Your Appalling Service

FYI – The world is now aware of what you think of your customers!

Update on Homebase's rubbish Customer Service

Update on Homebase's rubbish Customer Service

Can I request a reply!!!!!!

I have made a formal complaint to customer services!!!!

Update on Homebase

Well they have caved.

We received a letter to day saying that they have cancelled the charge.

Funny thing is, BBC TV’s Watchdog program says that the best thing to do with that sort of ticket is bin it!!  So it is gracious of them to cancel it NOT!!!

I shall remember this and use a match next time.

What a shower!  Can you believe that a company fines it’s customers for daring to go in and buy things.

We shall not be returning to Homebase.  Hopefully other customers who get fined will do the same and they may wake up to the fact that this is a bad policy.

By the way.  Even though I made a formal complaint to them they have not deemed to reply.  What high quality customer service…

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Homebase Fines it’s Customers!

It is with great disgust and annoyance I find myself having to write this.

On the 27th of April we went to the Kidbrooke Homebase store and spent some money. I think you will agree that in these times of rescission that is a good thing for them.

We left with our purchases and thought no more about it.

You can imagine my surprise when, today, I received a £95 charge for having the nerve to use their car park!

I have called their help desk (3 times) and been given 3 different stories. I have called the store, on the basis of one of these stories and been told something else. Now Becky tells me to email and let them know. That I have done and have sent copies of all relevant docs (fine, receipt). Oh and apparently I have to have a valid excuse for using the car park!!! How about SHOPPING IN HOMEBASE!!!!

Basically the story is that the car parks are not theirs and so bad luck!

What a joke.

I will keep you posted.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Home Automation and AV Distribution

For the past 3 years I have been arguing with AV equipment vendors about their chosen method of AV distribution (extremely expensive cables).  Their argument has always been “Users want the best quality and CAT5e can’t deliver it!”.

My thinking has been good enough is good enough.  In the front room I want the best quality on my huge TV.  In the bedroom, other rooms, I only have small TV’s and I am, generally, not settling down to watch a film or some such.  In these other rooms I am doing other things and the TV is background (such as sleeping).  If I am watching YouTube or standard television the quality, as long as it is reasonable, is not paramount.

I want to be able to use my laptop to view, or pretty much any device I have to hand that is capable of displaying video.  I also want to be able to control the devices in my house using the same device.  Why do I have to pay a huge amount of money for touch pads that have less functionality than my laptop.  I am not saying that these devices do not have their place, just that I want the option.

My TV (all of them) should be capable of connecting to my LAN, as should other devices (but one step at a time), all using standard IP protocols.  Slowly some OEM’s have been listening and there are now TV’s with CAT5 sockets and wireless adaptors built in.  I can now browse to my media server and play a film!!!  I even have a cheap device (£100) that allows my non-IP enabled TV to do the same!  I can’t control it, but we are heading in the right direction.

Imagine my surprise to see in the April edition of HCD (Home Cinema Digest) an article entitled “The IP Crowd”.  I am shocked to see that they are starting to swing to my way of thinking.  There is money to be made integrating and future proofing a house.  Software (as in control systems) is important, the current slew of software controls for iPad etc are basic and non integrated, but early days.  I do detect some resistance from the existing cable based installers, but hay ho.  They will learn and bend to my will!!!

I am a very happy person today.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Anyone for Tea?

Originally uploaded by CosmaP
The boys have a party in the garden.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Park Right!

Customer Satisfaction

Customer Satisfaction

Dear Tide:

I'm writing to say what an excellent product you have! I've used it all through my married life, as my Mom always told me it was the best. Now that I am in my fifties, I find it even better! In fact, about a month ago, I spilled some red wine on my new white blouse. My inconsiderate and uncaring husband started to berate me about how clumsy I was, and generally started becoming a pain in the neck.

One thing led to another and somehow I ended up with a lot of his blood on my white blouse. I tried to get the stain out using a bargain detergent, but it just wouldn't come out. After a quick trip to the supermarket, I purchased a bottle of liquid Tide with bleach alternative, and to my surprise and satisfaction, all of the stains came out! In fact, the stains came out so well the Detectives who came by yesterday told me that the DNA tests on my blouse were negative and then my attorney called and said that I would no longer be considered a suspect in the disappearance of my husband. What a relief!

Going through menopause is bad enough without being a murder suspect!

I thank you, once again, for having such a great product. Well, gotta go. I have to write a letter to the Hefty bag people.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Scuba Humor

(Turn the sound off if you speak German!)

Friday, January 22, 2010

I can't make Mass this week

Perils of a Catholic Upbringing
As I walked down the busy sidewalk, knowing I was late for Mass, my eye fell upon one of those unfortunate, homeless vagabonds that are found in every city these days.

Some people turned to stare. Others quickly looked away as if the sight would somehow contaminate them.

Recalling my old pastor, who always admonished me to 'care for the sick, feed the hungry and clothe the naked,' I was moved by some powerful inner urge to reach out to this unfortunate person. Wearing what can only be described as rags, carrying every worldly possession in two plastic bags, my heart was touched by this person's condition.

Yes, where some people saw only rags, I saw a true, hidden beauty.
A small voice inside my head called out, 'Reach out, reach out and touch this person!'

So I did.......

I won't be at Mass this week.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Oldy But Goody!!

This is great fun but a real time waster as its hard to give up !!!!!!!

This is cool!

Try not to spend all day at this...

Hint: watch the wind sock.. err undies... for wind speed and direction!