Sunday, June 29, 2008

Why I hate... part 215: Anglian

Oh yes. I made the mistake of ordering new roof fascias a few years ago from Anglian, a windows, doors and roofs company in the UK. The fascias were fine, and I didn't take any nonsense from the sales person, who turned out to also be a Christian and to have an ounce of integrity.

Unlike the current Anglian sales team. I've been getting call after call, sometimes 2 or 3 a week, trying to sell me things. On the last call I virtually screamed down the line "Stop calling me - if you call again, I'm going to complain to BT and report harrassment".

No doubt their installers are hard working people. But stay away, stay well away from Anglian's sales teams. Another Anglian anecdote from six months ago, before the current call spate - I'd been looking for companies to give me a quote for a front door. Anglian got someone to call me and he kept going on about he didn't want to come and visit when it was just me in the house - he insisted my wife was present. Obviously, because he didn't want me saying 'I'll see what my wife thinks and get back to you'. But I said that the decision to buy was 100% mine and that I had full confidence from my wife. Did it make any difference? Nope. He just kept on insisting that my wife had to be there and after several heated calls I'd had enough and cancelled the quote visit. And this was all before he'd even got to my house!

Bah. Anglian.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Getting rid of Microsoft Office - and Software Bloat

I really had had it with Microsoft Office this time. Specifically the monster that it Outlook. Slow, over-complex and cumbersome. Into Windows Control panel I went and clicked on Programs | MS Office | Change. I unchecked Outlook and away went the routines. After two minutes of crunching, it popped up a message that I needed to insert my original Office CD. I guess I could have done, but I was utterly outraged by having to insert a CD in order to install some bit of middleware in order to uninstall an application. What kind of software madness is this?

In fact I was so annoyed that I felt compelled to remove the whole Office Suite in disgust. After all, Word, Excel and Powerpoint had gone years ago - I use Open Office very happily - but enough is enough and I wanted Office's bloat and inelegance out of my life and off my hard disk.

I went back into Control panel and this time opted for 'Uninstall'. And waited. And waited. 15 minutes later, the progress bar had reached 50%. WHAT? All I wanted to do was delete the application suite. Deleting files should not take this long. In addition to my regular 'I hate Adobe' posts, I'm sorely tempted to apply similar bloatware reasons for doing a 'I hate Microsoft' one. Office is a disgrace.

If it wasn't for Windows itself, which at least keeps me laptop going and running leaner, fitter apps, Microsoft would be out of my life completely. I installed Firefox 3 earlier. The download was 7MB and it installed in under a minute. That's what software should be like. Not 4GB of code on DVD or a 3GB download (Office and Adobe Premiere Elements 4 respectively).

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hey, I made the top 10!

A shout out to the guys at the UK-based Automated Home for their well researched list of the top 10 tech podcasts in the world - and my Smartphones Show comes in at number 10, which is pretty cool.

I don't get a lot of time to listen to other podcasts, but I've certainly sampled over half the shows on their list. Check it out!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Skipping, Hopping? Summer must have arrived!

You can tell that summer's here (at last) in the UK. The kids are coming home from school talking about fun things which involve fresh air rather than batteries and plug-in cartridges.

The latest craze in the playground seems to be the Lolo Ball, referred to by my daughter as a 'Space Hopper'. But it's not, the SH was a big ball with horns that you held onto. The Lolo Ball (also called Pogo Ball or even Moon Ball) is something you grip between your ankles. Sounds improbable, but it's great fun for youngsters.

Just be prepared to plaster up some chafed ankles....!

Skipping's also apparently 'in' this year, but hey, when was it not?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Instant flight sim - in your own part of the world

You've got to love Google - and got to love mashups. In this case it's a clever use of Google Earth's interface, accessed via a web browser page, and with very basic (left/right) controls for a simulated fighter jet.

And you can't crash. Or go up or down. But hey, you can type in any location on earth (such as your home town) and fly around the area at (simulated) great speed.

Very cool. Don't worry about the meaty browser plug-in, by the way, I'm sure other mashups will be along shortly to make further use of it 8-)