Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bring out your dead, bring out your dead!

This week, for one week only, Phill Jupitus and the team bring Spamalot to Cambridge.

Much silliness ensues.

O/H in Cambridge

"I'm not very much in favour of people exhibiting themselves, but i have to say he's really rather good"

Image correction coming later!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I kid you not... A beer a night keeps heart disease at bay

So a) better up my game :-)
b) Mrs B will be pleased to know wine is an acceptable alternative

And... you just know some people are a few years ahead of schedule!

Monday, February 21, 2011

How to predict the #UniversityChallenge winning team

Before even a question is asked....

Each team is introduced to the viewers, At the beginning of each introduction, the team member gives their name.
If they start with the word "Hello" they score a Bryant Factor of 100. If they start with "Hi" then score a Bryant Factor of 1. If they use neither word, for instance "I'm Fred Scumble" then score a Bryant Factor of 10.

Add up the team's total Bryant Factor, and the team with the highest BF (with a greater than 90% accuracy rate) wins.

There are (like Mornington Crescent*) some variations to consider:
* Colonials (especially US and Oz) are permitted to score 10 for a "Hi"
* Those with English as a second language (other than Americans!) may only score 10 for "Hello"
* personal judgement is key in these areas...

In the event of a tied score, then there is no prediction.


* see for more details.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Promise, Channel 4

There's something about this programme I cannot put my finger on, my grandfather was in Palestine in the 30's although he died too young for me to have talked to him about it, but I have an intangible connection that I cannot identify or specify. Maybe it's wishful thinking.

When the ordinary lives of people living in the near permanent trauma that is the Middle East are portrayed meaningfully on TV, I feel a disproportionate sadness for what has happened, and is happening. I hope that maybe the events shaking up the North African and Middle Eastern countries right now might lead to a breakthrough that changes the game.

I have my views, and for peace and quiet I'll not elaborate here. But a never ending cycle of revenge is unlikely to lead to peace. Sadat and Begin took an incredibly brave step in the 70's. Maybe it's time for a second such event?

This is one of the dykes checked by Police last week..

he went missing 4 years ago, and Cambs/Norfolk search and rescue were all over the fields and dykes behind Corylus Towers last weekend looking for him, his bike, and his court tag. nothing found...

Friday, February 18, 2011

70 years ago today, tear gas on the streets, and no health and safety around

An interesting read in the Telegraph today.  They’ve been running a 70 years ago column with extracts from the wartime papers.  This one really struck me, in times of war, things differ.  But also, that the scenes described are not dissimilar to some of the scenes currently (and recently) seen in North Africa and the Middle East.
But most of all, just imagine the fuss if we wanted to do something similar in the modern era.  It just wouldn’t get off the ground.  In 1982 the insistence on keeping to peacetime safety policies (in part) led to more men remaining on the Sir Galahad in the Falklands, and died as a consequence – and that was in an active combat zone.
I’d link to the article, but after a brief browse, could not find it!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cancelling a service provider?

Then you should give serious consideration to cancelling any bank arrangements simultaneously.

My recent spat with VirginMedia (elsewhere here) is a case in point. By cancelling the DD I made sure that they could not take money to which I thought they were not entitled. It puts the provider on the back foot, chasing you, rather than you hassling a large, insular organisation for a refund (or chasing your bank under the DD mandate rules).

It's a tactic I have used on many occasions, have yet to regret it. A personal banking service to whom I can send an email requesting the cancellation (or a telephone banking service) aids a speedy execution.

One word of warning though. Some companies (energy providers) have a clause to cancel discount arrangements if you do this. As ever, read the terms and conditions, and make sure.

Take control, and use the weapons at your disposal with big business:
* your custom
* your money
* your use of social networks to publicise your complaints.

Oh, and if they get it right, publicise that too!!

@VirginMedia Hurrah - case closed - seems I finally got through to someone who got it!!

Fwd: Virgin Media account

Hello Mr. Bryant,

I've been asked to investigate your account and the charges that have been generated since moving to your new provider. While we received notice that the MAC had been used and given to your new provider, unfortunately we never received the notice that the work had been completed for us to close the account.

As payment was made for services up to the <date removed>, I have removed all outstanding charges from the account and ensured that the account is closed to prevent further charges being made in error. Your account is now closed and completely settled.

Please accept my sincere apologies on behalf of Virgin Media for any inconvenience caused in this matter.

Kind regards,

<name removed to protect the innocent!>
Virgin Media National
Customer Complaints Team

Monday, February 14, 2011

@virginmedia - and the saga continues... I'd reply to the email, but you black hole it...

“We're really sorry to hear that you're cancelling your Virgin Media service. To get the ball rolling, we'll be sending in a cancellation request for you and your service will be removed.  We'll get in touch with you again to confirm your disconnection date but, just so you know, our target disconnection date is currently:
Just so you know, if you're cancelling your phone service with us, you'll need to find another supplier, or you might be left without a working phone line!
If you have any questions in the meantime, you can contact us using our webform at To talk it through with one of our team, just dial 150 from your Virgin Phone or 0845 454 2222 from any other phone line.
**Important Information**
If you're moving house and you've asked us to transfer your Virgin Media service to your new address, we'll be processing your order as soon as possible.  If you've already given us your new address and telephone number, we'll start processing your order soon after the services at your old address have been cancelled. We know you,ll be busy with the move, but if you haven't given us your new details yet, do get in touch as soon as you can, so we can get on the case for you.
Kind regards,
Mark Davidson
Executive Director
Customer Care
Virgin Media”
Customer Care?????  Incredible how you can put in a disconnection request for a no longer operating service.

@virginmedia - their uselessness and systematic incompetence knows no bounds. #fail

The account was cancelled some time ago, along with the DD.
A final net invoice was requested, and agreed, but as yet not provided.
You continue to act as if the account were active and add further charges.
You now write threateningly, particularly with respect to damage to my credit rating.
Just you bloody try!!!  Now sort this, this week, or else I will start billing you for my wasted time, and that will more than cancel out the charges you are requesting.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sphinx impersonator!

Eyeballs at risk of cooking though...

Friday, February 11, 2011

An afternoon of fixes, and I'm in a good mood for the #6Nations tomorrow!

This afternoon, after some interesting supplier negotiations on behalf of a client I had some “free time”. So I looked at the “problems I really ought to look at” list.

Item 1
Patching my first and oldest server. This machine is an elderly, but perfectly serviceable dual processor box running Windows 2003. Having successfully sorted out the horrendous .NET Framework updates last year it was still objecting to a few minor Windows patches applying properly. For once, the simple step of applying a few at a time fixed it all. I’m not going to try to work out why, just take satisfaction that the box is doing what it should for once!

Item 2
I needed to replace a laptop just before a trip to the US last year, and had some fun and games whilst out there. Ever since the laptop would not let me logon with my own id. It always happened when time was at a premium so I could not be bothered. So looked around a bit more and found by accident (whilst rebooted the old server that still hosted a roaming profile), that the machine would boot when the roaming profile was missing. This led to Error message when you log on to a Windows Vista-based or Windows 7-based computer by using a temporary profile: "The User Profile Service failed the logon. User profile cannot be loaded"  which identified bad profile data in the registry. Now this made some sense, I think I may have wiped the local copy of the profile in the US, and not done anything more about it later. A swift deletion of the keys, a reboot, and voila! I’m in.

Now for dinner, some R&R and the Six Nations tomorrow. Come on England!

PS. For the record, the original google search term was: windows 7 64bit logon pauses cannot create profile

Thursday, February 03, 2011

@eileenb 1957 Telegraph marmalade recipe just add vodka :-)

Second time around with a complete picture!

More @virginmedia incompetence, they just don't get it #fail

Today I received a letter from Virgin Media requesting that I contact them about my account as there was no longer a valid DD in place through which they could collect funds.

There is no surprise to me in this as I left Virgin (once having been an NTLWorld customer, and now finally tired of their poor customer service) and as a precaution cancelled the DD at the bank.

I spoke to Megan and explained. She said I had to pay, I explained I was unwilling to pay when it included advance payment for a service I no longer used. That would be OK, she explained, as Virgin would take the money and then refund me with a cheque. Yeah, right I thought. I explained that on several occasions I had requested a final invoice from them and once I received that I would pay up. Apparently the final invoice *could* be emailed me to me, so she did. However when I asked if it covered the termination period and therefore did not overcharge me, it got less clear. It seems that having now requested a nett invoice, Virgin would be unable to email me the correct information, I would have to wait whilst she spoke to the cancellation team. Will this take long? I asked, just a couple of minutes I was told. Ok, said I, I'll hang on whilst you do that, but for 2 minutes.

Four minutes later I hung up.

Virgin, you have to do better. I have left you. I want a final invoice that covers the few days the service was in place before I moved to a better ISP (a capability already demonstrated), and the phone charges from the previous month. I am not willing to overpay you and wait for a refund cheque; you can work it out, you have the information; and I hazard a guess you have a few computers on which you can do the sums. Do them and let me know.

These are *my* terms of business.