Archives for the month of: November, 2011

We’re nearly out of the back end of November and so the Christmas rush can well and truly begin.

In truth, the Christmas rush began some time ago. The retail industry kicked Christmas into a mid range gear somewhen around the end of October, although to be fair this year hasn’t been as bad as some years in recent history.

Those of you that were around here last year will know that we seem to have started a trend with the more distant (although not that distant) members of the clan whereby we have Christmas day early, to get it out of the way.  This year it’ll be on Sunday coming. There will be a slap up bit of lunch and some generous gift giving.

Mr Ball senior has acquired a MacBook Air this year – as a result of sister ball taking a business trip to the US and he as some associated bits and bobs to go with it. Even though Mac’s are notoriously easy to set up, he is understandably a little nervous of what is to him “new” technology and so I’ll be spending a large portion of the day helping him get it up and running. Quite looking forward to that to be fair.

I believe I have a new generation Apple TV on it’s way thanks to Santa, but I’m dismayed to learn that Air Play mirroring isn’t supported by my now ancient iPhone 4 and iPad 1…  humph…  A bit of a dig around shows that you can get the latest versions of these at a substantial discount if you go with refurbished kit – and apple refurbished basically means new with a brief previous owner. I’m sorely tempted, but funding will be the issue. Let’s see what the South African Santa brings first…

And on the subject of Santa… Having recently(ish) signed up to LoveFilm the flow of movie rentals has been thick and fast through the Golfyball residence, but as yet I haven’t found the time to right about my viewings, so let’s try and fix that here.

First of all, let me share with you THE Christmas film of the year, recently released on DVD.  “Rare Exports” is something I’ve spoken of before on here – a couple of years ago when the first teasers appeared and last year when it went on general release – although not to great acclaim. However, I think the lack of support is down to it being a non-english film in part – but that IMHO just adds to the believability factor.  

It feels a little like the original version of “Let The Right One In“, but without the vampires and with Santa, coupled with a european version of “The Thing” (which I read is also being re-made – totally unnecessarily). Anyway, it’s great fun, but not for your young kids who might well still “believe”. However, once you’ve seen it, you might believe again – and be scared…   great stuff and here’s the trailer…. 9/10

So to touch briefly on the other viewings I’ve had of late, here’s a quick run down:

Cars 2
More great fun from the late Mr Jobs’ film studio, Pixar. Your kids will watch this a thousand times probably and I don’t blame them – it’s great fun in the same vein as “Cars” but with the added benefit of the great Sir Michael Caine. 8/10

The Rite
This is a bit like “The Exorcist – Lite” It’s not terrible, but it left me feeling a bit “Meh”. Sir Anthony Hopkins should know better – not that he does a bad job, but his welsh/italian is a bit dodgy in places. 6/10 

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot
A cracker and with a couple of my favourite hollywood names in place. Clint Eastwood and Jeff (The Dude) Bridges. It’s Michael (The Deer Hunter) Cimino’s directorial debut. It’s Well-written with strong performances and is about a complex caper in which Bridges plays a young drifter who teams up with an ex-con (Eastwood) and his former partners in crime to re-stage a difficult safecracking heist. It says here: “Conveyed in a tone that mixes dramatic and comic elements, the film is a rich blend of engaging characters and action” and very true that is. Quality 1970’s movie making at it’s best – 9/10

I should add – that the trailer doesn’t really do it any justice at all…

Mr. Nice
Another favourite of mine is Rhys Ifans and once again he doesn’t disappoint. This is a biopic of drug smuggler Howard Marks. Beautifully crafted, and quite believable if this sort of stuff is to be believed. There’s been a successful book and a speaking tour by Mr Marks and it makes for entertaining viewing. One point – David Thewlis – as the man from the IRA – very nearly steals the show. 7/10 

Inside Job
Narrated by Matt Damon, this is a documentary that tells the story of the banking collapse of 2007 and strives to suggest some of the reasons it happened. It provides a fascinating insight into the way government and banking works – or rather doesn’t work and should be required viewing for anyone with any interest into what the hell the banks think they’re playing at. 8/10 

The Blind Side
Her out of “Speed” and a big fella we’ve never seen before (Quinton Aaron). He’s a not-quite orphan, she’s a christian hearted mom who takes him in – gives him opportunities to succeed and he ends up being a pro-american-footballer. That summary does it a massive dis-service. It’s another biopic – of sorts – of the life story of Michael Lewis. A proper feel good weepy that the missus will love – if she likes that kind of thing. Sandra Bullock is still great to look at and I actually think she deserved the Oscar that she won for this role. 8/10

So that’ll do you for now, but just so you know, still to come: a few words about, “Sucker Punch“, “Freeway Killer” and the foreign films: “Point Blank“, “Julia’s Eyes” & “The Silent House

 


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

P132

Perhaps I’m becoming cynical in my old age – well, older…. Not actually “old” – yet. You see, there’s a story going around that I find basically patronising.

Now, we all know that insurance is the biggest scam going. You pay someone (now) so that they can then to pay you (or someone else) in the event that something might happen in the future. It’s basically a form of gambling with the odds stacked in the favour of the person you’re paying.

In the UK insurance is mandatory for vehicles on the roads. The insurance companies that you arrange a policy with are generally rubbish at predicting the future (surprise, surprise) and they’re also a bit pants at figuring out when someone is trying to diddle them – so they’ve been paying out and that along with the global economic situation means they’ve been paying out a lot. As a result the premium you pay for this insurance has gone through the roof.

The cost of fuel and road tax has also become extortionate of late and as we’re constantly reminded, we’re all becoming victims of the obesity crisis. This in turn has led to a decrease in the use of cars for short journeys and an increase in the use of the bicycle.

Of course, if you’re in the business of making money out of people insuring their cars against accidents and then they get rid of them, your income will drop. Furthermore if you then realise that these people are then all riding bicycles which are free from insurance, what would you do?

You’d release a story into the press…. Try and rattle a few cages… Make the natives restless… Start a new income stream…

And so it is that this has appeared:
** Cyclists ‘urged to get insurance’ **
Not having a comprehensive insurance policy could prove costly, cyclists are warned by the Association of British Insurers.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15892074

I’m not buying it.. And I won’t purchase any either!!


This post originally appeared here: Posterous
I know, that yet again I’ve gone through a quiet spell in terms of blogging. It’s not that I haven’t been here or that I’ve been ultra busy – I just haven’t blogged. I’ve still shared though, although I admit not necessarily with you. I’ve shared with various circles of friends, family and acquaintances. I hope you do to…

http://gplus.to/golfyball

Happy Black Friday.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous
Black Friday iTunes malware alert

Security experts warn that criminals are targeting shoppers with malware that claims to be from Apple’s online store to coincide with the US http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15881034


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To use the parlance of our times… Awesome!


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

By the, way….  It’s not me.

This company “EverythingEverywhere” which is what Orange and T-Mobile have become are clearly trying to rip him off – and possibly you if you’re with them.

Their website has the following blurb:

As one company, we now have almost 28 million customers, 15,000 employees and 720 stores nationwide. We run two of Britain’s most famous brands – Orange and T-Mobile – and we’re here to give our customers a better experience than they’ve ever had before – with the widest coverage, smartest support and best choice and value.

 

Olaf Swantee is the name of the Chief Executive Officer of Everything Everywhere, and so with a little digging my friend was able to find up his email address and sent him the following message which for the good of the general public he has asked me to share with you.

 

To: olaf.swantee.orange@everythingeverywhere.com
Subject: Orange Data Roaming Charges / Complaint
Date: Wed, 16 Nov 2011

Dear Sir,

I am writing to vehemently complain about your outrageous data roaming charges,

I am a long standing customer with Orange (about 13 years !), but have recently become disillusioned with the Brand and the way you operate your customer services, and appear for want of a better phrase “rip off” your customers, that’s aside from the poor signal (especially the 3G signal !) that I appear to also be suffering with since the merger of T-Mobile and Orange (the signal “appears worse” despite the claims of me being able to use Orange or T-Mobile !) ..

I am used to having large phone bills (circa £200 – £300 + per month), having three Numbers on my account (and also 2 PAYG Phones !), but just by chance I happened to look at my soon to be due invoice (after advice from a friend who has also suffered the same “fate”), and was “somewhat” shocked to see that I am expected to pay £1246 for my next bill which is due on the 8/12. Of this £964 is just for Data Roaming on (Number Redacted) .. !

Let me put it to you that as I have previously been “caught” out on your outrageous Data Roaming charges and have complained about this before ( my invoice dated 7/7/11 .. although nothing was done on that occasion and I was “fobbed off” with some ridiculous excuses), that this time whilst travelling abroad I took all precautions to make sure I did not suffer the same fate !:

I telephoned Orange customer Services on the 8/10/11 and asked them what I needed to do, and as I had already purchased the Daily Data Roaming Bundle on their advice, I also ensured that my data roaming settings were set to “Off” and notifications off, on their advice , and only ever out this back on occasionally to check emails (probably once a day maximum) again on their advice , I also made sure I made use of any of the local FREE wifi hotspots where possible !

In fact I am struggling to see how the hell I can have used so much data when I took all these precautions to “avoid” the outrageous data roaming charges and avoid using the internet at all to make sure I avoided the outrageously large data roaming charges I had previously suffered (and as I mentioned my previous complaint fell on “deaf ears” and was never resolved ! ) ..

I notice that I am not the only person to complain about this, as I mentioned a friend of mine also suffered the same fate (although also had taken the same precautions as myself), and also I notice that this issue has been complained about by many people (e.g the recent Watchdog Article) and various complaints highlighted on the internet (highlighted in the links below) , so I am sure you probably don’t want any more negative publicity.

http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?322768-Orange-Data-…

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/watchdog/2011/09/data_roaming.html

I trust you will take the necessary action to resolve this issue for me, and that my bill is “substantially” reduced if not written off completely, and also that my previous data roaming charges complaint is properly looked into and I am offered some recompense for that as well. if I do not receive a satisfactory response within the next five days, I will cancel all my Direct Debits with Orange, and cancel all my accounts .If you want to lose my alleged valued custom and an average spend with you of £200 – £300 a month then that’s fine, I can easily take my business elsewhere and you will lose a loyal and long standing customer. Otherwise I expect a satisfactory reply within that time.

Regards

Having had no response, he then followed up with this:

Subject: RE: Orange Data Roaming Charges / Complaint
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2011

Dear Sir, 

 I can only assume that either my previous email went straight to your spam folder, or the poor customer service of your organisation emminents straight from the top ?. 

 Whilst I didn’t expect a resolution to my complaint yesterday, I would have thought I would have received at least a courtesy email acknowledging my complaint and informing me that you had actually asked someone to investigate it and would get back to me asap. 

 As I mentioned previously I will be cancelling all my accounts with Orange unless this issue is resolved within the next five days, although you would now appear to have one day less to resolve this issue as have heard nothing. 

 I hope to receive at least an acknowledgment to this email. 

 Please note I have also logged this complaint with Ofcom. 

 Regards  

And this morning with this:

To: <olaf.swantee.orange@everythingeverywhere.com>
Subject: RE: Orange Data Roaming Charges / Complaint
Date: 18 November 2011
Dear Sir, 

 Quite obviously judging by the lack of response to my emails, the customer service (or lack of ) does emminent directly from the top ? 

 However by now I hope you will have received a copy of my emails that I posted to you yesterday (unless this has also gone into the folder marked “customer spam”) ? And I now hope you are taking some action or have at least asked someone from your “lack of” Customer Service area’s to rectify my complaint ? 

 As I mentioned previously I will be cancelling all my accounts with Orange within the next five days unless this issue is resolved, today being Day 3 since I sent you my first email means that you would appear to have little time to resolve this issue, unless you are happy to lose one of you so called “valued” customers ! 

 Regards 

What on earth do they think they’re playing at?  They claim to have 28million customers – so I guess that’s why they’re happy to ignore them.

 


This post originally appeared here: Posterous
World Community Grid Newsletter
World Community Grid – GO Fight Against Malaria Launch
In honor of World Community Grid’s 7th birthday, we are pleased to announce that a new research project called GO Fight Against Malaria has been launched.

Malaria is one of the three deadliest infectious diseases on earth and is caused by parasites that infect both humans and animals. Half of the entire human population is at risk: in 2006, 247 million people became infected with malaria. Of the nearly one million deaths caused by malaria each year, 85% of those are children.

The researchers at The Scripps Research Institute are running the GO Fight Against Malaria project on World Community Grid to evaluate millions of candidate compounds to advance the search for new drugs that can cure patients who are infected with multi-drug-resistant mutant “superbugs” of malaria.

For more information about this important project, please view the press announcement on Citizen IBM.

GO Fight Against Malaria is the 10th project actively running on World Community Grid. To ensure that we continue to deliver results to the researchers as expeditiously as possible, we are challenging our members to help World Community Grid reach 2 million registered devices by December 31, 2011. We only need 100,000 additional devices to reach this goal. To help our community reach this goal, please read about our 7th Birthday Challenge to our Members.

Thank you for making World Community Grid an overwhelming success and allowing us to provide computing power to researchers working on pressing humanitarian issues for 7 years. Happy 7th Birthday World Community Grid!

Thank you,

The World Community Grid Team

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Copyright. 2011
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Dilbert.com


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So that’s an additional $169 (£105) or 22%. I can speak from experience when I say “it’s worth the air fare”. But it’s not just the iPad, and it’s not just Apple. 

Just to prove that here’s a Canon Powershot G12
US Price = $499 (£310) – http://goo.gl/PHRxo
UK Price = $866 (£539) – http://goo.gl/aJqhV

A 42% increase!!

We’re at a point where it’s just about everything – and some things even more so. 

One thing in particular that really riles me is to hear Americans complain about the price of gas – and when I say gas, I don’t mean gas, I mean petrol – Gas, as any fool knows is not a liquid; moving on. 

So choosing the nearest part of the US to the UK, the current price of regular petrol on the east coast (including taxes) is $3.45 per US gallon, just to make things that little bit more complicated (As listed here: http://38.96.246.204/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/wrgp/mogas_home_page… )

In the UK, we’ve been switched to Litres (so we think it’s cheaper in some oil executives marketing brain) and we currently pay in the region of £1.40 per Litre of unleaded (including taxes). (As listed here: http://www.petrolprices.com/ )

Don’t worry, I’ve worked it out for you:
1 US Gallon = 3.7854 Litres
So 1 US Gallon of petrol in the UK costs £5.29 and here comes the kicker – that’s $8.49 or an extra $5.04 over the US price. That’s an increase of 146%

I know huge chunks of this are down to import duty and VAT (Value Added Tax, which is currently 20%), but I’m certain there’s also a level of greed going on because the increase is effectively hidden. Explaining this differential to our US cousins isn’t fun, because it just reminds me of how expensive life in the UK really is.
Regular visitors will know who much I hate to say it, but IIWII.
Not fun times 😦

 


This post originally appeared here: Posterous
Categories Uncategorized

We aren’t where we were….

It would seem that 3 and half days of high level adrenalin production followed by an 8 hour sleep break and another day and a half of squeezing that gland is as much as I can do in a working week. When I arrived home at around 7 last night, I managed to eat a curry, sit on the sofa, and pass out. My work here is done. I dragged myself off to bed at around 11 and here we are at 11am of Saturday – feeling pretty good.
The job is done – all those that should have approved it have approved it, so it’s in a satisfactory place. As for what the customer makes of it? Well that’s up to the kids across the pond, but between me and the Navvy – we’ve given them our best shot at it.
Let’s not have another week like that one for a while, eh?

No idea what the rest of the weekend will bring – probably more sleep.
Have fun.


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Categories Uncategorized