DR

I was thinking about upgrading the Macs to Yosemite and ended up reviewing my DR arrangements. Running out of space on a couple of the Time Machine disks so time to go shopping for a bigger HD. This will be followed by some file moving.

Kill me now.


Battery drain

Today my MacBook Air’s battery went from fully charged to 27% in a matter of a few hours, most of which was spent in sleep mode. Not good!

So I launched Activity Monitor and had a look at the Energy Impact readings. Wow! It reported Google Drive running at over 100. That was definitely not a good thing. So I closed the App down and re-launched it. This time Google Drive’s energy impact was at around 2.5. Much better!

I found that this issue has been reported in Mac discussion forums but not in any great numbers. So for now I’ll keep an eye on it, if the issue persists then I can always bin GD. Anyway, when Yosemite drops I will be able to try out the full iDrive experience. And if that’s as good as it’s cracked up to be, GD’s days will be numbered for me anyway.


I feel the need…

My ISP, Virgin Media, have just upgraded my internet line to “Up to” 100 Mbps.

Well downstream certainly seems quicker. I’ve done a few speed tests but as “any fule no” those results are no more than an indication of the speed achieved. I’ll live with it for a while & report back, dear reader.


The Washknight Tapes

Ha ha, well not tapes exactly but an interrogation nonetheless.

This chap I know, who caches under the pseudonym Washknight, has been pestering inviting the blogging cachers (or should that be caching bloggers?) he knows to post a response to a set of 20 questions. So I have, finally, managed to sit down in front of my Mac, roll my sleeves up in a purely figurative way, open a bottle of my favourite “thinking mixture” and, cracking my finger joints in the manner of the best piano virtuoso, peck out this missive on my keyboard.

1. When and how did you first get into geocaching?

A few years ago at work, the topic of geocaching came up a couple of times; finally one of my geocaching friends (you know who you are!) pulled up the map and it turned out there was a cache very close to my house. I went and had a look but didn’t do anything about it. Some weeks later another friend (The Bongtwashes) arranged an off-roading day in Berkshire. We stopped for lunch on our way to the off-road site and it “just so happened” that there was a cache nearby, so we set off to look for it. What I didn’t realise at the time (but  subsequently discovered) was that it is standard practice to arrange routes, lunch stops etc. so that they pass near to geocaches! Anyway after that I went back to find that local one near my home and that, as they say, was that.

So, David and Bob, I blame you for infecting me with this bug for which there appears to be no cure. :D

2. Do you remember your first find?

Certainly do! It was the one I found with The Bongtwashes. It was “A Different Approach to Recycling” . What was extra special was that when Bob read out the hint I immediately knew where to look and I found the cache before he did! I think that is the last time that has happened (LOL)

3. What device(s) do you use for locating caches?

When I started out I used my iPhone running the Groundspeak App but, being a clumsy sort of fellow, I quickly became concerned that I would drop it into a puddle (or worse). At this point I bought a Garmin Dakota which is still my main device. This is backed up by my iPhone which I use mainly for mapping (more screen real estate so I can see the map and caches in a wider context) and for interrogating the web while I’m out and about. The GPS on the newer models of iPhone is generally excellent and I sometimes use it solo for urban caching, the ocassional ad hoc cache or the increasingly rare FTF attempt. Oh, and I always put my iPhone in an “All Terrain” case.

4. Where do you live and what is your local area like for geocaching? (density / quality / setting etc)

I live in Hertfordshire, and the borders with Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire are only a few miles away; there are thousands of geocaches as far as the eye can see. The nearest (my second find) was less that 0.1 mile from my house. There’s a good mixture of easy trads, naughty nanos and tricky puzzles plus some really good rings.

5. What has been your most memorable geocache to date, and why?

This has to be the Virtual cache “The Empire Strikes Back”. A cache in New York. What’s not to like? It also scores as my “Farthest from Home” and “Farthest West”.

We visited the ESB on the night of September 11th, 2012. To say the views were spectacular would be putting it midly. To top an amazing evening we were able to see the memorial twin towers of light which were beamed up from the site of the World Trade Centre towers on every anniversary night. Stunning and moving. Just wish we didn’t have to see it.

6. List 3 essential things you take on a geocaching adventure excluding GPS, pen and swaps.

Just 3? Hmmm. Leatherman. Torch(es). Hat.

7. Other than geocaches and their contents, What is the weirdest thing you have discovered whilst out caching?

Other geocachers. :P

Seriously, and perhaps a little disappointingly,  I haven’t found anything really weird. I have however found some unexpected things, some beautiful countryside and spectacular views. The strangest thing I can recall finding was an old-fashioned “Tanoy” loudspeaker high up in a tree, in a wood miles from any building of any sort. Very puzzling.

8. On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is I am obsessed by numbers and 10 is I am all about the experience and the quality of each individual cache. Where do you put yourself?

“I’m not a number, I’m a free man!” :)

If you look at my yearly stats you’d realise it isn’t all about the numbers for me. I have always enjoyed walking and so being out in the countryside, (preferrably with Skye our West Highland Terrier) is something I really do enjoy, so I guess it’s about the journey as well as the geocaching.

9. Describe one incident that best demonstrates the level of your geocaching obsession.

That’s difficult to answer because I’m not obsessed. There was a time when I would dash out for a FTF and I did get extremely wet completing a series of FTFs with The Bongtwashes in the pouring rain once. Note emphasis on the “once”.

10. Have you picked up any caching injuries along the way?

Only the usual scratches and dents from thorns, brambles and barbed wire. Usually on my head, which is why nowadays I always put my hat on when I have to burrow into anywhere and I always carry a simple first aid kit.

11. What annoys you most about other geocachers?

Hmmm. I don’t want to offend anyone. Some of them seem to take it a bit too seriously.

12. What is the dumbest thing you have done whilst out caching?

Trying to walk on something slippery such as sheet ice. That always ends badly in my experience.

13. What do your non caching family and friends think of your hobby?

In my house it’s called “Nerding”. They think I’m slightly mad. I’m not sure I have any non-caching friends…

14. What is your default excuse you give to muggles who ask what you are up to or if you need help?

My favourite is “I lost my dog” or variations of that. This excuse works even when I don’t actually have Skye with me.

15. What is your current geocaching goal, if you have one?

To complete the Chiltern Hundreds. Because it is there.

16. Do you have a nemesis cache that despite multiple attempts you have been unable to find?

There’s a micro in Pinner which I’ve never been able to find, mainly because of the muggle traffic. It has recently had a spate of found logs so maybe I’ll go back for another go soon.

17. What 3 words or phrases best sum up what geocaching means to you.

Challenging. Outdoor fun. Mud!

18. What prompted you to start blogging about geocaching?

I started my first blog in October 2005 as an evolution from MySpace (remember that one?). On my blog I write about whatever interests or (sometimes) annoys me, not just about geocaching.

After I found my first cache I posted a short item about it, it’s only recently that I have been writing about my geocaching adventures on a more frequent basis.

19. Which of your own blog entries are you most proud of.

I’m not sure I’m proud of any of my writing but I quite like this one  because it describes my best caching day (for numbers) and combines geocaching with another of my favourite pastimes – Green Laning.

20. Which other geocaching blogs do you enjoy reading?

To be honest I’m only just discovering the geocaching blogs, with two exceptions.

Washknight’s Geocaching Blind  which I’ve been following for a while now. His posts are entertaining and I like the fact that he is happy to take the p*ss out of the fact that he can’t see jack. Yes, I know he triggered this post but no, that’s not why I’ve singled him out for a mention in dispatches.

The other blog of note has to be Dr Solly’s.  It’s not just about caching, his technical tales appeal to my techie side. I’m not going to elaborate here, as he says; you either know him or you don’t.

Well, that’s the 20 questions answered, Paul. That was an interesting challenge which gave me pause to think, and travel back in time in order to research a response to some of the questions. I hope you (and anyone else daft enough to read to the end) enjoys reading my answers. :D


Test case

There is no way I would risk taking my iPhone 6 out in the countryside (or the urban jungle for that matter) without protecting it. When I go geocaching I mostly use my Garmin Dakota, principally because it will withstand being dropped into a muddy puddle – or of course just dropped! I do take my iPhone geocaching as well, mostly for detailed mapping or to look stuff up on the internet, but I’m always concerned for its safety, hence the need for a robust case.

For the last 2 years I’d used an Otterbox Defender with my iPhone 5 which protected it well enough but using it daily for such an extended period was bound to show up any flaws. Fortunately there aren’t many.

The Defender was a 3-part case which I found fiddly and time consuming to assemble and even longer to take apart when I wanted to remove my iPhone from the case. While most of the key ports and switches were covered, the home button, ear piece, speaker and microphones were all open to the elements and definitely not water resistant. Also, over time, the case let in dust (not a lot but enough to be annoying).

When I got my iPhone 6 I decided to see what other rugged cases were out there as an alternative. After a bit of research I decided against getting a new Otterbox Defender and I went instead for the Griffin Survivor All-Terrain case. First impressions are favourable, although inevitably with a case offering this much protection, it is a bit bulky.

iPhone 6 case

Here it is next to my iPhone 6. As you can see from this image, the whole screen, the front camera and the Touch ID sensor/Home button are covered by the protective front but once one adds the dimensions of the surrounding impact protection, the case has become quite big. Of course, the iPhone 6 is bigger than my old iPhone 5 so it was inevitable that the case would be larger too, nevertheless, it is not so big that it becomes cumbersome.

It has some great features which, for me,  put it ahead of the Defender. The iPhone 6 is a snug fit in the body of the case and is easy to insert or remove. In addition to having all the usual ports covered against water and dust, the microphones and speakers are also protected by a sort of membrane; Griffin say the case is rain-resistant that’s good enough for me as I would’t expect true waterproofing for the price. The only trouble I’ve encountered so far is operating the Touch ID with the case on – sometimes it doesn’t seem to read my fingerprint whereas at other times it does and unlocks without problems. However all other aspects of the iPhone operate as if the case wasn’t there so it’s a minor inconvenience which I’m not too bothered about.

This case is an excellent choice for me when I’m out and about, whether I’m geocaching or just walking Skye. I’ll also feel happier using my iPhone when I’m urban caching, especially in London and similar places where walking around with an expensive smartphone in one’s hand can be a risky activity. :)

 


Two tales of Customer Care

Tale One.

When we retrieved our bags at Heathrow, we were dismayed to discover one of them had been ripped open. On closer inspection it seems that the damage had been caused by the baggage handling machinery at the very end of our journey so none of the contents had escaped. Lucky! Nevertheless, the case was beyond repair. It was about 6.30 in the morning and we’d just got off the overnight flight from New York, so we weren’t in the mood to find someone at the airport to complain to. Once at home (and after a suitable period spent recovering from jet-lag) I investigated the claims procedure.

I discovered that responsibility for your baggage remains with the carrier up until the point that you lift your case off the baggage carrousel. So nothing to do with LHR. In other words the airport baggage handers are contractors of your airline.

So I filled out the claim form from my airline’s website and emailed it off with supporting documents and a photo. Yesterday I was very pleasantly surprised to receive a lovely email from Virgin Atlantic apologising for the damage and confirming that they had settled my claim in full. No arguments or attempts to negotiate the cost downwards.

Thank you so much, Virgin Atlantic.

This is how it is done.

 

Tale Two

My Mother is in hospital. A while back she ordered some goods from Damart. After she went into hospital Damart wrote notifying her that the items were out of stock and that they would deliver them at some future date once they were back in stock.

My mother asked me to cancel the order, so I rang Damart’s Customer Services. I knew this was doomed to failure and sure enough they trotted out the good old DPA spiel. Could they speak to my Mother? No, as I already explained to them, she was in hospital and in no fit state to speak to anyone. I pointed out that I was doing them a favour as, if they were to deliver the goods there would be nobody there to receive them. Even though I had the order numbers, account number,etc. this fell on stoney ground. Worse, the Customer Services person was unfriendly as well as being unhelpful.

Not one to give up, I penned a letter to Damart’s Managing Director, a Mr Andy Hill, explaining my dissatisfaction with my encounter with his company’s Customer Services staff. I even reminded him of the “Winner – UK Customer Satisfaction Awards 2014, Institute of Customer Service” award  posted prominently on their letterhead. I was expecting a letter in reply, hopefully a polite one.

What I got was a compliments slip with a handwritten message scrawled across it, presumably from their Customer Services team although I can’t be sure as it wasn’t signed. Pretty sure it wasn’t from Mr Hill.

I venture to suggest that this is not how it is done.

 

 

 


iPhone 6

I’m pleased with my iPhone 6.

I haven’t managed to bend it.

I’m not going to wax lyrical about it because I’m not interested in stirring up the trolls or haters.  See paragraph one for my iPhone 6 review.

I’m not sure about the changes Apple have made to Photos with iOS 8, although I think I can see why they have done what they’ve done. It will be interesting to see how it all works once Yosemite drops. The only issue I’ve found is with the Instagram App which displays every photo on the device in duplicate (FB and others seem to have got it right).

Being a clumsy sort of fellow I have ordered a case for it, hopefully that will arrive tomorrow.


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