If it looks too good to be true…

Well, I got my D520 phone, but alas the thing were dog-done no good. The eBay seller said “100% working order”…erm, WRONG! The camera packed up after I took one picture, I couldn’t get into the music player, and the mp3’s that were on it were corrupted. Beside that, I expected it to be in used condition, but it looked like it had seen a few pavements in its life.

The seller said they were unaware of those faults as they had not used the features on the phone. It had been their sons phone and he had not mentioned that they didn’t work. I sent it back and they gave me a refund, so that was all and good. But then I was left without a phone, as I had sold my own phone to help fund the “upgrade”.

So my search continued. Initially I wanted to get a Nokia 5200 but was disappointed with the camera spec. Then I started to look around for a Nokia 5300 instead. I could get one on eBay at a reasonable price, but I was very “once bitten, twice shy” because of what happened. I looked into getting one new through a dealer, but they are sold out all over the place. Whilst looking for a Nokia 5300, I was also looking at another Nokia model – the 6111. Down sides to that was fixed memory of only 23mb, but it was a decent spec. Then I saw ratings people were giving this phone. Loads of people saying it was shit – a common fault being that it turns itself off and on all the time. Not good.

I relly wanted to go back to having a Nokia phone. I like the way the work. My old 3310 was such a good phone, and although equally my Siemens had been great, I didn’t think to look at their modern phones (of which there wouldn’t be many). So, after more an more searching I have decided to go for a Nokia 6300. It has all the stuff I want, 2 megapixel camera, video recording, play, streaming, mp3 player and ringtones, FM radio, MMS…and even pluses I might be able to use later down the line like Push To Talk. I can see there are down sides to the phone already. People say it doesn’t have adequate internal memory, which does sound low at only 7MB, but it can take a 2GB micro SD card, so it shouldn’t be a prob. The biggest thing people complain about is battery life. At best most people say a 3 day charge. I am use to several days with my Siemens, so I might get a little frustrated if the battery life is really piss poor, but others say battery life is no prob.

I’ll soon see. It arrives tomorrow and I’m reserved, but excited. I REALLY hope this phone will be *it* and I won’t have to worry about upgrades for a good 3-4 years now. Fingers firmly crossed.

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Things coming up (or that have been) that are exciting me.

After you see the list, you’ll see I’m VERY easy to please 🙂

Firstly, I purchased myself a “new” used mobile phone on eBay. When I was in Oz, my niece had a Samsung D520, I thought it was a nice looking phone and had the things I wanted to upgrade my phone for – mp3 playing and ringtones, video play and record and Bluetooth. I knew it was a Samsung, but had to check with her what model it was. After getting her reply, I looked on eBay (before that I’d be chasing a Nokia 5200 but wasn’t having much luck getting one for the £40 mark) and someone was selling a used D520 for £30. I thought great price for a well specified phone, so jumped at it. Now I am EAGERLY awaiting its arrival in the post.

Samsung D520

The other thing that is exciting me is the sight of two baby goldfinches in the garden. They arrived yesterday with the regular pair, who I can only assume are mum and dad of these babies.

Last but not least, the prospect of being able to get out and about next week as we might be hiring a car for several days so Em can help out a mate of hers with his computer stuff. Somehow getting around the UK on public transport is just not very appealing. I’ll give you an example why.

We live around 35 miles (around 56 kms) from Cambridge. When we had a car, we might visit Cambridge 2-3 times a year. Needless to say we’ve not been there since being without a car. That journey to Cambridge by car would take around 45 minutes.  That same journey via public transport would take at least an extra hour and cost £40 (around $95 Australian) for two people!! We could hire a car for the day and be able to buy the fuel to get us to and from Cambridge for the same amount of money! It’s obscene!  That’s why we “don’t do” public transport in Britain. Not because we don’t want to, but because it’s a total waste of time and money.

I am actually doing it…

…and staying at it!

I think this wordpress thing is so good. I made a pledge to myself on my “43 things” page that I’d become a better blogger. It started at my Yahoo 360* site. That improved my blogging proficiency, but I think once I moved to here that I really got going. I used to have a “blogger” account (it’s like a swear word now). I don’t understand why Google wanted it! I’m sorry, but WordPress poops all over blogger! Anyway, on blogger I’d make like about three entries in one week, then couldn’t be bothered to keep it going.

Then someone on 43 things contacted me about something. I noticed they had a Yahoo 360 account and so I went and had a look. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing at Yahoo 360 at first. I found it really confusing, but once I got the hang of how it worked, I began to blog regularly. It really started me on the blogging road. But I wanted more. I wanted more flexibility – and 360 just didn’t offer that. So Em suggested WordPress to me (which is odd as she hadn’t used it herself yet – and has only just started using it now). I looked, and although it also took a bit of getting used to, this is now my mainstay! I love the way you can structure a site on here. I love the idea of pages and posts and that you can have a static page, so it becomes very web site looking.

I’ve been hosting my own web sites for ages. But only this year have I realised with sites like this, you can just buy a domain name (rather affordably) and link it to a WordPress page, and it saves all the hassle involved in hosting a full web site, which is bloody time consuming!!

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I now, as a regular blogger, feel deserving of my title as “Time Magazine – Person of the Year” 2006. It’s a great honour. So, thank you Time, for giving me this great honour. I am very humbled. I would like to thank my mum, Em, the cat…………………..

‘Tis The Season…

To be sad maybe? Sad as in “I have no life!”

I really do look forward to this time of year, although heaven knows why! I live thousands of miles away from my immediate family. My partner is not exactly in what you would describe as a “close-knit” family. We have LESS than no money (we exist primarily on credit cards). I could go on, but I’ll only depress myself. Does the Christmas period account for more suicides than any other time of the year? If it does, I can well understand why. Despite all that…I’m STILL looking forward to it!! I’m a freak, I know!

OK, here is why: The Pros…

Lovely food! I like to spoil me and Em at this time of year. Usually that would mean some M&S food as well, but probably not this time. What it will mean is roast dinners, chestnuts (the best nuts on the planet), deserts, alcohol and lots of warmth.

Presents…when you can afford them. We don’t really do gifts for each other much these days, but rather splash out on a big joint gift. Last year it was a Freeview box with recordable hard drive of 40gb. This year it has been jumping up to a 26″ LCD TV. But I still love getting little personal gifts.

Christmas TV. A chance to see all your favourite old movies and lots of Xmas specials. It’s a dead time for Australian TV, but absolutely prime in the UK. I suppose it’s the weather that makes it that way.

The chance of snow at Xmas!

New Year…an excuse to p!ss up! And have lots of prayers that the New Year will be a better one for all.

The Embassy World Darts in the New Year!!! I LOVE IT! It’s like WWF, but darts! I love the “walk-on’s”, they are brilliant! My two favourites are Ted Hankey, who dresses up as Dracula (he has a darts nickname – The Count), cape and all, with spooky music and sounds playing (he even has the receding hairline – but not a widow’s peak, it’s too far gone) and he picks out plastic bats from under his cape and throws them into the crowd – it’s pure pantomime!!! My other fave is Martin “Wolfie” Adams. He comes out to Duran Duran’s Hungry Like The Wolf and howls and the crowd howls back!! I assume he’s called Wolfie ‘cos he has a lot of facial hair?!

The cons…

We feel compelled to buy presents.

We have to worry about decorations. Normally I’m the first to put them up, but I haven’t got a tree up yet. I’d love a fibre optic tree, but money dictates.

You can’t really be with the ones you love…or you are forced to spend time with family…depending on which side you look at it. I haven’t had a Christmas with my family for 8 years now.

There’s probably actually TOO much to watch on TV.

No snow and just horrible, cold, wet weather.

Running out of some kind of foodstuff and having to go to the supermarket on Xmas eve! aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaggggggggggghhhhhhhhhh

Sending cards by snail mail.

For those of you getting into the spirit, here are my two fave Christmas songs….

I fell for the “shop-brand” er…bargain.

So I see an ad in the Daily Mail (newspaper…trust me, I do not buy it, it’s my in-laws) for Currys own brand Matsui MP3 player 2gb for £24.95. Too good to pass up me thinks. I have a 1.5gb MPman, but it has its own built-in battery, so it needs charging with its own charger. I hate that, so wanted to get one that takes 1 AAA battery. So I see the Matsui and think great, for that price I’ll have that. We go to Curry’s on Friday afternoon, in the pissing rain! Plenty of stock (just not on the shelf, so had to ask for it at the service counter). I checked that it indeed took a AAA battery, which it did, and bought it.

Get it home, test it. Already pre-loaded with some tracks, so was easy to test. Sounds OK for the price. Seems to be able to deal with varying bit rates, even tells you the bit rate of each track. Then I see what the major let down of the product is when I load some of my own tracks onto it! It doesn’t really have a proper folders/files structure, so it doesn’t create a list of albums/artists to play. There’s no folder hierarchy. Anyway, that slightly pisses me off. Some other people out there in Internet-land tried to rectify it by formatting the hard drive in the player, but then it stopped working all together. Other people just took it back to Currys to get their money back. I’m gonna keep min, but I’m going to dupe it by using software to change the ID3 tags (the code used to name mp3’s for players to recognise the songs). At the moment if I do nothing to the ID3 tags, the player will just be like a huge shuffled jukebox because it plays all the songs in alphabetical order. So I’m having to change the ID3 tags so all the songs are by artist first, so there’s a little bit of structure.

Nothing’s ever straight forward is it?  Still, I suppose I can ask myself what do I expect for £25? I still would rather spend £25 on a Matsui system than £129 on an iPod. As much as I love Apple and Mac systems, I don’t think I would ever own an iPod, unless I won one.

The death march tolls…

for the car.

The cars problems have continued. After the last post I left re: the car, Colin tried to sort out the MOT failure points. Namely a hole in the exhaust. Other than that, the car seemed like it was running fine. It seemed fixed. So, he did the repairs needed to the exhaust. We had a chance to re-test within 10 days of the original test, for half the cost. Em took the car to the garage on Monday. The car started really rough, and didn’t want to move and kept trying to cut out. The garage is only 1/2 of a mile down the road – luckily, because it only just made it! It PASSED its re-test, but Em only just managed to get it back to her parents house. So now we are in the position of having a fully MOT’ed car, but still can’t tax it because now the engine of the car has seized. There is no point taxing a car we can’t use. We are not going to have a car for some time to come.

I gave Barbara another lesson yesterday. She is getting pretty good. She’s not scared to explore the PC which is great, because the worst thing you can be when you want to learn to use PC’s is a procrastinator.

My birthday ended up a very low-key affair. Didn’t really do much at all. In fact, I stayed home all day. Mum gave me a quick call, just to say happy birthday. I got cards from my sister Cheryl and my niece Bec, and photos of my great-nephew, Landon (Bec’s son). And I got cards from mum (which arrived about 10 days before my birthday, she likes to give herself plenty of time), Mozzy and Em.

In a few days it’ll be bonfire night, so I’m looking forward to going to Borehamwood for the fireworks there. We’ve gone there for the last few years. It’s a good little display. I say little, but it’s a decent size, and better to get to than Luton’s own fireworks. It’ll be on the night of the 5th.

Ups & Downs.

Today has been topsy turvey. Got up disgustingly early (6.45am), as we had both a lesson with Barbara and taking our car for an MOT (road-worthiness) test at 9am. I just knew the worst was gonna happen with that. I didn’t want to think it, but I just knew. It’s a long story…but I’ll try to make it brief…

Right: MOT tests are a yearly thing in the UK. Each year your car has to be tested for road-worthiness…the only time it doesn’t is if it is less than 3 years old. In the UK a road tax disc displayed in your front window is also required. You can’t have one without the other. At the moment, our car’s tax disc expired as of September 30. Our MOT certificate expired before then, so to get a new tax disc we need a current MOT. We had to pass MOT. We put the car through a test but it failed on exhaust emissions. Colin (Em’s brother) deduced that it was due to a problem with one of our cylinders we had been having. One of the 4 cylinders in the engine was blocked and dirty and although we could still drive the car, it was running on three cylinders and not exactly fuel efficient. So Colin has been working on our car the last 2 weeks getting the cylinder repaired and the engined cleaned. We’d had the MOT test done through Luton Borough Council as we didn’t want a garage involved due to potential rorts – that is the garage having some “cock & bull” story about this needing fixing, and that needing fixing and giving us a bill for a few hundred quid. So the council testing centre was good and tried several times to get the car to pass, but the emissions were just too high so it failed. Once Colin had finished the repairs he said “take it to a garage”. He still had reservations about that, but on Colin’s say so, we took it to a local garage this morning – and, well guess what? It failed…not on emissions…surprise, surprise, but because of some hole in the exhaust?! A hole in the exhaust – but it still passed the emissions test? Does that sound fishy? Also, firstly the hole was at the front end of the exhaust, and then (miraculously) it had moved to the middle?! Here’s the predictable bit…£120 to repair with a free re-test if we had it repaired there and then! Seemingly, as of 4 weeks ago a new law came in stating that a free re-test could be giving as long as the repairs required were carried out within 10 days without the car being moved off-site!! In other words…the garages have a licence to rake it in!!! It defies belief!!!! We just ended up having to pay for the test (that was £45 thank you very much), so even better, the garage basically got £45 for nothing. Bastards!!! More time without our car…and a valuable lesson to be learnt…go with your gut instincts!

As for the lesson with Barbara that went really well. She’s picking stuff up really good. Oh, why do people STILL insist on using PC’s and Windoze [sic]??? I can’t tell you how much easier I think it has been for Barbara because she is using a mac as opposed to a PC. I just thank the lord she didn’t take that option, because we DID give her the choice.
It was a full day for a change…and now it’s a new day (just gone midnight) and I MUST go to bed.

The Tracks of My Years, plus Weddings.

I am in the process of doing a series of web pages called “tracks of my years”, which will be songs through my life that I’ve liked or had significance to my life. It’ll be a selection of songs from each year. Once done, I’ll add it to my pages on the right side of the blog. I want them to become a permanent feature of my site, not just part of a composed blog.

Em & I have been helping a local lady, Barbara, get started with a PC (we suggested a Mac Mini, which Barbara loves) and get on the Internet. It’s early days, but we have her set up and on the Internet and today she has successfully sent an email, which has been great! It feels really lovely knowing that you’re helping someone out.

A side issue, just ‘cos I wanna rant. Sorry, in my mind I was thinking. OK, so Barbara getting herself on the Internet is not one of life’s high priorities, it reminded me of the sheer overindulgence that I heard people doing last night on TV. What Not To Wear was on last night, and although I wasn’t actually watching, bits sunk in. It was about mothers-of-the-bride last night and picking the right outfit for them. The EXPENSE some of these people were going to on a wedding was just unbelievable to me! OK, there were some “modest” ones at around £10,000 – that is deemed a modest expenditure on a wedding (not in MY eyes, I might add), but the one that topped it for me was a wedding being held for £23,000!! Let me say that again – TWENTY THREE THOUSAND POUNDS! OK, these days, it might not get you a good down payment on a mortgage, but I would still rather use it on that, than a bloody wedding. So, because so much outlay had been made on this wedding, the mother-of-the-bride was worried she wouldn’t “look” the part, that is, she’d look frumpy, under-dressed, insignificant and not stand out. Erm, excuse me for highlighting the point, but isn’t the wedding meant to be the BRIDES day?! Did I feel sorry for her? HELL NO!! I am still in shock that someone would spend 23 grand on a wedding day – emphasis on the word DAY! It’s ONE DAY!!! OK, it might be the most significant day of your life, so far…but it’s sure gonna make a mockery of that spend when you get divorced 5 years later. It’s disgusting. I could never, ever warrant spending that much money on a wedding. When me and Em got married, our total outlay (including honeymoon) – $A1500. That’s approx. (in today’s market) £600. I can’t imagine anyone in this country getting married for 600 quid. And we had everything we needed. I had a lovely dress, Em had a lovely suit, we exchanged rings, we married in a lovely setting, had a lovely marriage celebrant, hired a nice car for the day, and had a lovely 3 night honeymoon in Melbourne all for that money.
I would cringe at a full-blown wedding. Having family members and guests that I’ve only ever seen on any other occasion at a funeral, having lots of people gawp at me from all angles as I walk down the aisle…the whole cutting the cake, speeches, feast, dance, blah blah blah…it’s just not me, or Em. And as for wedding gifts. I just think it’s sad. I would have everyone pay money to charity as a wedding gift. Oxfam even do a “wedding list”. I mean, for £1600 you could give an African farmer a whole plantation of mangoes, or for £1300 you could have a village run it’s own market. £100 buys a village – A WHOLE VILLAGE – essential medicines for SIX MONTHS! I mean, it’s just obscene. £720 provides safe drinking water for 1000 people. £1700 creates a whole classroom for children to learn in and £15 buys a school desk and chair. 100 school dinners can be provided for £6!! SIX POUNDS! That’s how much a British child would spend on school lunch in one day! If there are people reading this that really want to help, visit: www.oxfamunwrapped.com

Well, that’s my rant.