No More Than(k you)

A while back I contacted my home insurer with a view to making a claim. They were very unhelpful, bordering on obstructive – seemed that they didn’t think my problem was covered by the policy (surprise!) and it would be up to me to have the necessary work done at my expense then use the tradesman’s report to prove that it was covered.

Since then I have had several requests from them to complete a customer satisfaction survey. I ignored the first one and completed the second. When they sent me another email I thought, serve them right, and filled it in again. Today they sent me yet another email. Well I’m sorry, More Than, you are a useless bunch and I am tired of telling you how dissatisfied I was with the way you handed my ‘claim or enquiry’. Guess what I will be doing come renewal.

Darn! That’s the same one I use on my luggage!

I was amused to read the latest “pop chart” for passwords on Ars Technica, where they published the top 25 from SplashData’s annual survey. It’s interesting that their raw data came from passwords published as a result of the Adobe hack, which in itself illustrates the importance of not using the same password on all your on-line accounts.

So not only should you use a hard to guess password, you should also use a unique one for each on-line account. That way, even if someone discovers one of your passwords they won’t be able to use that anywhere else.

However, in another Ars article there may be some good news, as it seems the number of people using those chart topping passwords is actually decreasing.

I’m hoping you won’t spot your own favourite passwords in the top 25 but if you do there are some simple things you can do.

  1. Use a password Manager
  2. Chose unique passwords made up of random letters, numbers and other characters (e.g. $,%,&)
  3. Don’t be afraid to write them down somewhere safe and in a way that doesn’t hint at what they are to anyone else.


On Saturday night I went to pick my daughter up after her works do.

I arrived at the hotel venue just before pumpkin time, parking discreetly slightly back from the reception entrance/exit where a few revellers were mincing about. Then, shortly after midnight, the noise from the disco ceased abruptly. Chucking out time! Small groups of partygoers started leaving and cabs started arriving.

So there I was, sitting there contentedly waiting for my daughter to appear, when a slightly inebreated chap, accompanied by his girlfriend tottering on very high heels, approached my vehicle. He tapped on the front passenger window. I thought, he’ll realise his error shortly, I’ll ignore him.  He rapped on the window again so I gave him what I call my dismissive wave. By this time his girlfriend had made it to the rear door and they both started trying the door handles but were unable to open the doors (my doors lock automatically when I drive off so they were still locked). They both seemed perplexed by this development and tried the doors again. They’d obviously not read the memo about not getting into unknown cars. So I opened the passenger window an inch and engaged them in conversation.


This is a taxi

Me: “I’m not a cab.”

Bloke: “Uh?”

Me: “I’m not a cab. Or a taxi.”

Bloke: “You’re not a cab then?”

(Bear in mind he’s trying to get into a muddy Freelander)


This is not a taxi. You can see how they’d get confused.

Me: “No. I’m waiting for someone.”

Bloke: “Who you waiting for then?”

Me (still trying to be polite): “That’s none of your business.”

Bloke: “Uh, ok.”

Girl: “He not a cab then?”

Bloke: “No, he’s not a cab.”

After a minute or so of just standing there looking bemused, they wandered off. Luckily, at that moment my daughter arrived so I unlocked the doors, she hopped in and I drove off before any more drunks tried to join us. You can’t make this stuff up!


F1’s target market

Bernie Ecclestone doesn’t see the need to attract youngsters to watch F1 because they don’t have the disposable income to buy the expensive products F1’s sponsors sell. He’s only interested in the “70 year-old guy with lots of cash“. Well judging by the price of a race day ticket his plan is well on the way to fruition. 😛

When I was much younger than I am now, F1 used to be a sport (is there a motor racing equivalent of jumpers for goalposts?). Now F1 is just another multi-billion dollar international business and I’m a bit older. Funnily enough, I have yet to buy my first Rolex.

Looks like I’m not Mr. Ecclestone’s target market just yet.


Caching Etiquette

Whilst working my way round the Chiltern Hundreds I DNFd a few caches. I bookmarked those caches to a “DNF” list which has a watch on it. That way I can keep tabs on future visits, I get notified when (or if) subsequent cachers find them. There are a few which have lots of DNF logs on them so imagine my surprise when someone logged a “found”. In a couple of cases this cacher found the cache the same day I failed to find it.

Or did they?

When I looked at the logs I found that although they were marked as “Found”, the cacher had left notes on their logs such as “No luck here” and “This one has gone“.

So, either

(a) they are inexperienced at logging DNFs, i.e. an honest mistake but look, it’s not really that difficult:

not difficult is it


(b) they are claiming the find anyway, perhaps reasoning that they looked hard enough in the correct place and they would have found it if it had been there.

Oh well, rant over. 😉 If they want to cheat they are, to coin a phrase, only cheating themselves.

Personally, I have always thought that the correct etiquette was “No signy, no findy”.

Microsoft Certification

I expect you’ve seen the news item about the five year old passing his Microsoft Certified Professional exam. Seems to me that’s similar to those “gifted” children who pass their A-Levels before they can walk.

Back in the day I worked in IT support and have been subjected to years of working with Microsoft products. I think this qualifies me to observe that:

  1. There is no substitute for experience
  2. I wouldn’t let anyone with only a Microsoft qualification anywhere near my server room.





Haters and stupid people

Plenty of words (and videos) have already been written about a certain new smartphone. It seems that some people have managed to bend theirs by sitting down for long periods with the smartphone in their trouser pockets. Others have found it necessary to forcibly bend the smartphone and video said activity.

Now, I am no expert on the human mind but it does appear that these people would have to be extremely stupid to do either of the above. After all, nobody has yet managed to manufacture anything from “Indestructium”.

Suppose I deliberately drove my brand new Bentley* off a cliff. Shocked and surprised at the resultant damage, I could hardy complain to the Bentley Motor Company that their product had a design flaw.

Oh well, that’s quite enough wasted on that topic. Just needed to say something, that’s all. 🙂

* For illustrative purposes only. I simply picked a prestigious vehicle at random, I don’t actually own a Bentley.

Too many rules

Or rather, too many petty rules. I’m talking about F1. Put all 4 wheels over the white line, qualifying lap disallowed. Do that in the race and get a drive through penalty. Overshoot your grid place but don’t gain a race advantage and get a 5 second stop/go . Defend your position more than once – get reported to the Stewards. Touch wheels on a corner, is that a racing incident or do the Stewards need to investigate it? And so it goes. Whatever happened to RACING?

As you may discern from the above I am just a bit disenchanted with the current tame version of F1.

I’ve been following F1 for a long time. Long before the Union-Jack-T-shirt-wearing-Sun-readers started their Mansell fever. Graham Hill was driving for Gold Leaf Team Lotus. It was a long time ago. So, since then I’ve seen lots of changes, some of them not for the better. Back then the old hands would bemoan the loss of real racing, now I find myself doing the same. Oh bugger.


After so many months of grotty weather, finally a nice sunny warm day. Off we went to Stowe School to check on little Tarquin. No, not really :). We don’t have a little Tarquin at Stowe (or any other school, posh or otherwise), we just went to Stowe gardens for a walk around. For those not in the know, Stowe has possibly the best landscaped gardens in England and, in The New Inn, the first tourist hotel.

Stowe School

We had a really enjoyable time and I even managed to get a couple of photographs with hardly any people in them.

Palladian Bridge

One drawback of the glorious weather was the large number of people who’d had the same idea as us.  Also, as the only “proper” geocacher in my family, I was somewhat outnumbered when it came to taking advantage of the situation and searching out some of the Stowe cache series. I was however able to look for a couple…

Well what did you expect?

The first one I attempted turned out to be impossible. Approaching the approximate location with my part-time geocaching daughter we soon realised that there were many cachers looking for the same one. What was amusing was that they obviously hadn’t read the cache page properly. The cache is (apparently) hidden in the Ha-Ha and clearly none of the idiots looking up trees or rummaging in the bushes had any idea what a Ha-Ha was. I say “apparently” because there were so many of them milling about that I felt searching for the cache would prove impossible and would probably compromise its location to cachers and muggles alike. We decided on a strategic withdrawal. I’m sure I’ll be able to come back another day when it is quieter.

Anyway, I was determined not to leave Stowe without at least one find, so on our walk back to the car I stopped to retrieve Stowe: Roadside. This being the main route in and out from the car park meant a constant stream of people and dogs, so even bagging this one undetected took some doing. Still, at least I didn’t go home without a smiley.

Oh, and Skye had a lovely time. She even had her own chair in the cafe.

Skye in the cafe

Air Strike

Those bloody french ATC-ers. You may have seen my ranting tweets yesterday. I was pretty pissed off because my younger daughter and her friend were stuck at Barcelona airport because of the French ATC strike.

To add insult to injury the a/c they were moved to (in order to secure their escape) experienced engine trouble. So, instead of arriving at LHR around 17.30 Tuesday, they finally landed this morning at 01.50.

I think it’s time that Europe’s air traffic controllers had their JDs changed to make strike action illegal, as is the case in the USA.

Rant over. For now.