Friday, August 31, 2012

Going ex-directory

When we moved house, we also had to move phone numbers. We decided to become ex-directory. I previously though it was only for snobs. The single reason we made this choice was to avoid being disturbed by callers external from the UK wanting to scam us via a survey or fix our Windows computer (hint, we don't have any) it was getting to the point that we were being disturbed once a day on average. Even our 80 year old neighbors who would not have known how to switch on a computer were getting a call a day to tell them that they were apparently generating viruses and they never knew !

The telephone preference service which worked well 2 or 3 years ago is now ignored, even by Uk based companies.

Its not a big deal now being ex-directory, anyone who really wants to get in touch can find us via email or twitter or Linkedin or ....

However, this is an infrastructure failure. These calls should get blocked once they are reported and it should not be too hard to identify candidates via these computer type things and their dialing patterns, investigate and shut them down. B.T.  is your responsibility to address.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Virgin, 1st Group and the G4S effect

Watching this a couple of thing struck me.

Against Virgin getting a review

  • Virgin shafted Wrexham and Shropshire. If they were for really for fair and open competition, they would not have demanded an enforcement of the bar on W&S stopping at Wolverhampton.
  • The trains out of Euston have too many 1st class carriages, so a large number of people end up standing in cattle class if you can't see that, you probably should be doing something else. 
  • The sleeper service to Scotland is just great. I know it is run as Scotrail, but if this could be expanded it would make be great for some of us.
and why is does need a proper review.

  • 1st Group have walked away from the tail end of contract twice before. They either they should be barred from further work or have to commit to a contract they can't walk away from without putting serious collateral up 1st.
  • What will the effect of West Coast coming to Shrewsbury be on the trains in Wales
  • The G4S effect. We should have learned by now that putting responsibility in the hands of 1 private sector supplier is a highly irresponsible act for a government. I guess that more than 60% of rail services outside London commuter trains will  be 1st group. This alone should exclude them from the West Coast.
I have little sympathy with Branson, some of their train managers behaved like thugs in a tie. However, the process has been far from transparent and the government is talking a huge gamble on our behalf
that 1st group will not repeat their past form and walk away from the last 3 years and paying 3 billion pounds. 

I don't suspect backhanders, unlike the health bill, I just suspect bad governance.

At least it is not Arriva taking it over.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

View from our living room

Reminder to self, that bit of fence needs sorting out.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Beautiful Days : year 10

I got a small insight into what it was like at the Somme from the grounds of a Escot Park country house on Friday. 10,000 people plus lots of rain equals lot of mud. By Sunday it had dried up a huge amount. Bit (or even a bit more than a bit) of mud on the 1st day is fun, a weekend of mud is not.

Year 10 of the festival, and I have yet to miss one. One of the better years in terms of line ups.

Best experiences of the festival in approximate order for me were

  1. Folk in a Box : just magical. Me and the kids in a box with a guy playing and singing an beautiful folk song.
  2. Toot and the Maytels : class reggie from a band with a combined age of over 350. Where does he get his energy from?
  3. Mad Dog Macre : 2nd act on the main stage on Friday. Lively and fun
  4. Public Image Ltd : I have seen John live, tick. The sound they make is big, though I think the music is aimed at a target audience who are really off their heada [which I was not]. 
  5. Dreadzone : much fun, but missing Earl 16.
  6. Cube Theatre's Pinocchio  in the Theatre tent
  7. Billy Bragg : 100 years of Woodt Guthry. A bit of my music history education filled in. Good fun and good tunes as well. 
As previous years, I exclude the Levellers as I have seen them 70 odd time and I have thus lost perspective of how good they are relative to past performance or other acts, so I don't think about it.
I missed most of Bellowhead [sent back to get stuff from the van], though what I saw was very good.

Found myself more relaxed than previous years, maybe down to having moved house.

Roll on year 11.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Does the PBSA harm Welsh Broadband Infrastructure ?

Being a private sector thing, this was a new one on me.

The PSBA network (Public Sector Broadband Aggregation) is a Welsh Assembly Government led collaborative national communications service that, in conjunction with other major Welsh public sector organisations, has created a national information & communications platform to enable greater efficiency and collaborative potential, helping to support the delivery of improved services for the people of Wales.

So this the P.B.S.A. a good or bad thing? So far my answer is I don't know. I suspect that

  1. It costs a lot
  2. It improves the efficiency of those who use it
  3. It is more secure than a Internet based service
but does it have a negative impact on the private sector business and consumer provision? Those who are able it use it get a very good service, and so is there then a mindset among decision makes in the public sector that network infrastructure is actually very good ? I don't know. I understand that the Welsh Government are not part of the network, they have their own. Interested if anyone has views on the external impact that these 2 networks have on infrastructure in Wales.