Archive for January, 2012

Excellent government reports

January 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Since we moved home I’ve been thinning out the amount of paper on my shelves – old notes, research briefings, policy documents, stuff that just arrives in the post because I’ve been on the mailing list of various organisations. A lot of it’s well over a decade old now and it was pretty ephemeral when it first came out.

And V says ‘I really like those government reports. They’re excellent.’

We have a multi-fuel stove in the living room. That’s the context for her comment.



January 27, 2012 2 comments

‘Before using the product for the first time, take time to familiarise yourself with the product first. Read the following operation instructions and safety instructions carefully. Only use the product as described and for the designated areas of application. Please keep these instructions in a safe place. If you hand this product on to a third party, you must also pass on all documents relating to the product.’

I was sorting through old paperwork and came across this. It’s the beginning of a 7-page instruction manual…

… for a bath mat.

Elvis the phisher

January 26, 2012 3 comments

I haven’t been posting much because, frankly, I’ve been too busy to do much on here. However I thought I’d share this – a phone call from Elvis.

He called from, apparently, 0151 808 0315 (a Liverpool number – that’s what he said, but the phone itself said it was a withheld number) and announced himself as from the technical department of Windows. Oh yeah? Yes, his department is a ‘partner’ of Microsoft. Or something. Tells me they’ve had reports of malware being downloaded onto my computer and creating ‘errors’ with the hardware. If I can just log on and follow his instructions he can clear up the problem.

OK, so the guy is phishing. It’s the first time, though, I’ve experienced this as a cold call on the phone. I ask a couple of other details. Which computer are we talking about? The ‘laptop’. Fair enough, which laptop? He can’t tell me.

I put the phone down. But he tries again an hour later. This time I say, if you’ re really from Microsoft and this is a real problem, you’ll be able to tell me the IP address you logged the problem at. He takes a stab in the dark, presumably thinking I don’t know my own IP address. Not having had nearly enough coffee at that point and being pressed for time anyway, I wasn’t thinking creatively but I could probably have got a load more information out of him and had some fun with it.

As it stands I’ll write a short horror story around it – when I have the time! I got the basic idea for the plot almost as soon as I put the phone down on him…

Categories: Advice Tags: , ,

Gogglebox, a random thought

January 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Just a quick thought from a random conversation.

In my youth, ‘gogglebox’ was a slang term for a TV. I’d have thought by now someone would have come up with the obvious equivalent slang for a computer – a googlebox?

Apparently not. Oh well.

Toilet seat blues!

January 5, 2012 Leave a comment

Yesterday I decided to change the toilet seat in the upstairs bathroom. I suspect the previous owners (you’ll see previous posts alluding to the fact we just moved) just bought the cheapest one they could, which was plastic, didn’t fit properly, the lid kept falling off, etc.

I bought one that isn’t exactly ‘high end’ but is substantially pricier than quite a lot of what’s available because it has a ‘soft close’ mechanism and no kitsch decorative motifs or castings on it. Plus it’s moulded and painted wood. I figured – how’s this for rational consumer behaviour? – on a ‘per use’ basis it would end up being both cheaper and more comfortable!

So today I thought it would be a good idea to fit the thing. Easy job, right? Undo the wing nuts holding the old one in place, fit the new one, tighten the nuts and job’s done. Ten minutes.

Nope. An hour later I was still trying to work out how to make the little plastic spacers that are supposed to sit between the chrome hinges and porcelain toilet pan actually fit neatly on the bottom of the hinges. They were ridged in a way that indicated they should fit around the edge of the hinges, except they didn’t. I tried various tricks I’ve picked up over the years, such as leaving them to warm up in hot water and stretching them gently to fit. I tried a dozen different ways to get them to sit in place. No luck.

In the end I re-used the old plastic spacers, cut down with scissors to fit. This works, but it still niggles me that I can spend that amount of money and discover the problem that causes me time and aggravation lies with a couple of small pieces of plastic that cost a few pence (or cents, depending on where you’re reading this). If a company’s charging for an allegedly premium product, why isn’t the whole thing, right the way down to the smallest components that would probably be the easiest things to get right, properly made and accurately sized?

If that isn’t enough trivia for you, you can read someone else’s rather more moving story of toilet seat blues here; a post evocatively titled ‘Teach your children well: Aim straight, aim true‘ (you can imagine why); and no one, as far as I can tell, has recorded a song called ‘Toilet Seat Blues’ apart from someone’s drunken improvisation on YouTube (there is a slightly related intrumental by Neil Innes called ‘Twyfords Vitromant’, the name of a urinal popular at one time in English pub toilets if I remember rightly, but no freely-available performances I can trace!). Maybe it’s an idea whose time has yet to come…


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