Go Faster Strips

The next door village has had some new street furniture.

There’s the faux gates, which are just on the verges but are presumably intended to be a visual cue that you are entering an area where the speed is restricted. (Big round signs with the number “30” on used to be good enough.) These are OK.

There’s the flashing light, telling you the speed if you go too fast. This is a bit dumb, because the reward for going too fast is a pretty light display, but the lights don’t work most of the time anyway.

And then there are the full-road-width orange strips with “rumble” type ridges on the village side of the picturesque gated-village. These are totally counter-productive, and I’ll tell you why.

At 30mph, there is a terrible noise and vibration when you drive over them. At 40mph it is much nicer – less noise and over quicker. At 50mph you can barely tell it is there. Brilliant! It rewards you when you go faster. On the motorway, the rumble strips at the edge of the carriageway make you get off them, back to safety. The best way to get off these speed strips is to minimise the time spent on them.

What is the purpose of these strips? They are inside the restricted section, so they are too late to be reminders. They are on both sides of the road, so they are just as annoying when leaving the village – a reminder to speed up now?

Did anybody think this through?

Pass The Flaming Brands

There was a meeting in the village about the new housing development. It wasn’t very well advertised by the Parish Council but some kind (and anonymous) soul printed and distributed some flyers for it as well. I went along to find out what this new development might be – but I hadn’t realised that it was going to be a mini-protest meeting.

There’s going to be another 70-odd houses on the rest of the plot that is currently being built. I don’t think this is a bad idea, but for clarity it must be mentioned that the new development is nowhere near my house. Personally, I think it better that the village is growing rather than shrinking. I wouldn’t like to lose the Co-op, the Post Office, the Newsagent (will it ever become a Tesco Mini or whatever?) or any more pubs. (There were 5 pubs when we moved here almost exactly 13 years ago, currently there are just 2 although the third might still recover from its temporary lack of a licencee.)

I was going to voice this opinion, but I became more aware of the general feeling behind me in the room – I was sat at the front as usual. Eventually I decided to keep quiet – when they started marching to burn down the village hall (built with money from previous developments), I would be in a better position to raise the alarm if I wasn’t swinging from the rafters of the school extension (also built with money..)

The Parish Council Planning Committee meeting on Friday would pass on a judgement that will, if past experience is anything to go by, be ignored by the County. Should that ever get written up I’ll post an update. I won’t be attending.


I’m working on an intel XScale chip – it’s based on an ARM core (it used to be a StrongARM when DEC developed it) – yet however neat the processor core ARM have developed is, getting any information out of that company is really, really difficult.

I mean, they’re only down the road from here, and I know several people who work there, but even though we have an ARM Development System the only way to find out how the damned MMU works is to buy the ARM Architecture Reference Manual. (“Affectionately called the ARM ARM” – ha ha.)

Unaffectionately called forty-nine bleeding pounds ninety-nine! Jeebus!

Quick survey of Cambridge bookshops:

Borders: would have to order it from USA(?)

Heffers: can order it and have it in 8 days

Waterstones: have 1 on the shelves.

Phew. Job saved.

Bedside Amazon

I noticed a blog with a dinky book image, and I couldn’t resist adding one myself.

I looked into the code, and noticed that the image was leeched from Amazon but as part of the Amazon Associates package. That seemed to be a fair exchange and I signed up.

So, if anybody reads this, if they follow the “Bedside Table” book link to Amazon and if they buy the book – then I get a cut. Probably a very small one.

Titan Arum

It’s the biggest flower in the world, given some technical botanical caveats which I won’t even pretend to understand. The example in the Cambridge Botanical Gardens opened yesterday for the first time and once it starts there is only an 8-hour window to see and smell it before it dies. We had to go.

Unfortunately, especially after being mentioned on Anglia News, everybody else had to go as well. We arrived at 9:05pm and finally saw and sniffed at around 10:50pm. It was worth it, though.

They shut the gates at 11pm, but the people at the back of the queue were going to be there until 1 o’clock in the morning.

Good Customer Service

I have a Braun shaver. I still think of it as my new shaver, but it’s probably over 10 years old now. I was cleaning it before going on holiday (don’t want all those whiskery bits in the toilet bag) and the little springly plastic bit on the side of the head snapped off.

Why does that always happen just before going away? My last shaver broke before I went up to Glasgow for a wedding. I had to buy a razor. Ouch.

When I got back after a week with a bit of Sellotape and tricky ninja shaver grip, I rang the Braun service centre. The very nice man apologetically told me that they no longer make spare parts for that model. However, he would have a look around for a second hand part (where?) and if he could find one would send it to me “free, gratis”. I thanked him, but didn’t hold out much hope.

Just two days later a mysterious parcel arrived containing a replacement part (slighty scratched but otherwise fine). Superb! They didn’t even charge me for postage.

Restores one’s faith in humanity. Such Good Customer Service deserves to be named:

The Norwich Shaver Centre, 32 Magdalen Street, Norwich, NR3 1HU. 01603-622083

Shouty Day

I had to shout at lots of people today.

First, intuit. They told me that for continued support and internet access I should upgrade from Quicken 2000 to Quicken 2004 Money Manager, but I could download it and it would only be £12-odd. Seemed fair.

30Mb later, the new copy thoughtfully offers to uninstall the old copy. I let it. It then offers to open and convert the old data, but gives up because my data uses features not supported in this version. Would I like to upgrade?

Next day, after a maze of “press 1” messages and a second phone number, I’m told to re-install the old version and save it without “investor features”. I bet Microsoft Money would have opened the file.

Second, NTL. Or “ntl home” as they are now tagged. Lower case, of course.

The new, easier to understand phone bill arrives. Coincidentally, it’s £10 bigger than usual but I cannot find out why because it is no longer itemised for calls less than 50p. I have to pay them another pound a month to find out what I am paying them for.

The useless telephone droid doesn’t even have a scripted response, but suggests I “complain to Oftel”. I point out that it is now Ofcom, and begin the process.

Finally, Cineworld. Four of the calls over 50p which were itemised were to an 0872 number. Obviously and erroneously I suspected the children, but it was me trying to book cinema tickets and getting kicked off after 8 minutes – tantalisingly close to the front of the queue.

I thought that the limit for 08xx numbers was national rate (ie 1p/minute at that time of day) but I was wrong. 0871 and 0872 can be up to 10p/minute. Does it tell you this on the Cineworld website? Is there online booking? Grr.