Archive for October 2008

Pointless Post

Posted on Thursday 30th October 2008 at 00:00
On any given day I sit down at the computer, or pick up my iPod and open the Mail app to check my email accounts. And on virtually each and every occasion I find my inbox stuffed full of the usual things. Adverts for viagra, a Nigerian Prince wishing to give me all his money, a bank telling me that there is a problem with the account I don't even have with them, an angry Ebay user threatening to sue me for the non arrival of the laptop I supposedly sold them. The usual stuff that I'm sure each of you gets as well.

That is OK. I expect to find such stuff. It is only to be expected that antisocial individuals with far too much free time will waste it finding ways to annoy other people. None of the emails should be taken seriously, because even the people who write them never expect to get anything out of it.

What I find slightly more concerning is that other junk mail. You know, the paper kind that someone has to actually take all the way to your letter box. Remember that junk mail? It was the most annoying thing in the world before computers came along and upped the bench mark.

That sort of junk mail isn't from a nobody who still lives with his or her parents. That kind comes from real companies and costs real money to produce. Lots of money, actually. So what confuses me is why these companies seem happy to distribute these leaflets and letters without paying any attention whatsoever?

I ask this because since I've been living here, I've received quite a number of these things that not only aren't applicable to me, but couldn't possibly be applicable to anyone else living in my flat.

The most common of these is, of course, estate agent adverts. I probably get one of these at least once every three days, and not one of them is any good to me because, like every other person living in my building, I rent my flat. And because I rent it, it isn't mine to sell, which means I really don't need an estate agent just now, thank you.

I also don't need my windows replaced. One of the joys of living in an apartment block is that all exterior fixtures are the responsibility of the owner of the whole building, which means even if I did own my flat, I couldn't have my windows changed unless I bought the rest of the building too, and had the whole lot changed. Which I'm not going to do, obv.

For the same reason, no thank you, I don't need you to repair my roof. Or fit a new television aerial to it, though it's very sweet of you to offer.

The stair lift was a good idea, and one that I was actually considering, right up to the point that I remembered I live on the ground floor. I feel quite sorry for the various companies who waste their marketing budget trying to sell myself and my neighbours cheaper gas. If they'd done any research at all, they'd have noticed that the building is electricity only, which means my gas bills are pretty much as low as they are ever likely to go, although if they would like to pay me for the gas I don't receive, I'd be more than happy to consider it.

Perhaps my favourite so far was the catalogue I found on my doormat this afternoon, displaying what it assured me is the best range of electric wheel chairs in the South West. Whilst I don't doubt that the products in question are good quality, I'm perplexed as to why the distributor actually came into the building, noticed the lack of disabled access, looked around and saw that every single person living here is under 30 and no one is disabled, and then decided to leave everyone a catalogue anyway. Talk about a job's worth!

Have you received any junk mail recently that you felt perhaps should have been targeted more precisely at someone else? If so, why not tell me about it in the comments box?

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I Really Should Be In Bed

Posted on Thursday 23rd October 2008 at 00:00
Just a very quick post to let you all know that I've finally fixed the baffling problems with the database tables that this website uses to display its content.

For reasons I've been unable to explain, entries have been popping up in completely the wrong order for weeks, and it has brought the site to its digital knees.

After about an hour of troubleshooting with a friend of mine, we discovered that there has been a change in the coding standards for MySQL database queries. It is only a small change, but it broke everything.

They've decided that everywhere I've written a ' in every database look up I've done for the last 5 years, I've now got to replace it with a `.

That's right, ' must become `. That pointless little decision, which wasn't picked up in any error messages has cost me around 10 hours of troubleshooting time over the last couple of weeks.

Thanks a bunch techy people!

I'm going to bed.


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Time Ticks By

Posted on Monday 20th October 2008 at 00:00
Well Dear Reader, I am here once again. I hope you will forgive me for this horrifically prolonged absence, especially in the absence of any forewarning of my neglect here.

I've been away from these pages so many times over the last 18 months or so that I won't waste my breath promising to blog three times a day from now on or write you all personal messages, as that would be extremely stupid of me, especially since we all know it won't happen.

I shall resolve, therefore, to blog as little or as often as I have time for over the coming months. I'd like to think that I'll be here at least once a week, but I know if I commit to that in writing I'll fail to stick to it within a fortnight, so it is probably easier not to both.

There are two reasons for my absence these last few months, which I offer to you by way of explanation, rather than feeble apology. Firstly, I had a very busy Summer and, so far, Autumn is shaping up pretty much the same way, as I'll cover in more depth in a moment. Secondly, as often happens, my blog was hacked and sadly suffered serious database damage as a result. I've not quite straightened it all out yet, but hopefully we'll get there eventually. At any rate it is usable again now, so use it I shall.

So, what news then?

Well, first and foremost, after 5 years of living the single life, in July I found myself a new girlfriend, who from here on in I shall refer to as "L". She is a large part of the reason why I've not had time to blog recently, because as those who have girlfriends will know, they can be extremely time consuming, and doubly so if you actually like spending time with them, as is the case in this relationship. The only reason I can find the time to talk to you now is that L is currently in Plymouth, where she attends university, and I'm here in Bristol during the week, which leaves my evenings free to get on with the stuff I'd ordinarily be trying to do at the weekend, such as blogging.

The other drain on my time recently has been work, which dramatically increased in July from 4 hours a day 5 days a week to 15 hours a day 7 days a week for a time. Luckily it has calmed down again now, although it's now so low that I'm actually looking for another job on the 4 days a week when I don't have uni. If you know anyone who is actually hiring in the Bristol area, please let me know!

Thanks largely to L's motivational influence I made it through my exams in the summer and so was finally able to embark on my final year of my degree in September. If I'm able to pass everything this year I shall finally be free of this monster that has cast its shadow over me for nearly 5 years now.

Work continues on, with the hope being that I'm able to finish it very soon and link to it on my CV when job hunting. I'm actually quite impressed with what I'm coming up with, even if the progress is far slower than I'd like.

The other day I switched from Internet Explorer, which I've used loyally since I first got internet access in January 1998, to Firefox, which as those who use it know, is basically better. My IE was beginning to break down and I was getting less and less satisfied with its performance, so it seemed like a good time for a change. At some point I might write a little article on Firefox, once I've had longer to play with it. The difference most applicable to this post is the built-in spell checker that allows me to type this directly into my browser, rather than first having to write it in Microsoft Word and then copy it across after checking it. Much faster. Until such time as I write up a review of the browser, if you are interested you might consider this excellent blog post by Stephen Fry on the advantages of Firefox over other browsers. In fact, I can highly recommend Stephen's blog generally if you are after a good read, as his is one of the best on the internet, in my humble opinion.

Well, the clock is ticking steadily around to midnight, which means I should be making tracks, since my uni timetable demands that I be up at 6:30am tomorrow. I've enjoyed writing this post immensely, and I hope you feel the same way about reading it. I do hope so.

I shall return when next I can find the time to pop in and say hello, but until then, if you are new to the blog, why not look through the archive to see what I had to say back when I was posting daily?

Some of it was quite good you know, even if I say so myself!

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