Wednesday, September 28, 2005

TV licencing

About a year and a half ago, my TV broke. I hardly ever watched the wretched thing anyway, as I didn’t want to pay for cable, and British ‘terrestrial’ TV is crap, focussing on themes of soap operas, TV celebrity chefs, home improvement programmes with celebrities, and reality TV shows where they put a bunch of uninteresting dumb celebrities into a house and film their insanely boring lives 24 hours a day. So I threw my TV away and someone immediately stole it from the rubbish tip.

In the UK, if you possess a TV, you have to pay for a licence. The licence is actually rather expensive, at over a hundred pounds. The TV licensing company are outrageous assholes and do not believe that there can exist people who do not wish to have a television. So they write you scary official letters telling you that they will send you to jail, fine you, send big men round to hunt around your home for that TV you must have hidden. They keep sending the letters and threats even when you tell them you don’t have a TV. Even though they aren’t allowed, by law, to enter your home without a search warrant granted through the courts. They just assume you must be lying and secretly watching "Celebrity Love Island" without a licence.

Here’s my letter to them. Bastards.

Michelle Tunstall
TV Licensing Enforcement Manager

September 28th, 2005

Dear Ms Tunstall

Thank you for your letter dated “September 2005”, and addressed in an official way to “The Legal Occupier”, in which you discuss your concerns that I may be using a television, or television receiving equipment, although your records show that I do not possess a licence.

I am the Legal Occupier, although I am usually known by the name "Joanna". I am writing to confirm that I do not possess a television, and that no type of television receiver whatsoever is being used at this address. I confirm that this statement is true.

I am sure that you will accept my statement as being true; however if you do not I will be very upset. I do not wish to receive a ‘routine visit’ from an ‘inspector’ to verify that I am not being mendacious in my statement above. If you believe that I am, in fact, lying to you, and you wish to send inspectors to my home, please ensure the following criteria are met:

1. Please send me a clear photocopy of the inspector’s official identification badge and documentation at least 3 days prior to the visit, so that I can rest assured that I am being visited by a genuine inspector.

2. Prior to the visit, you will need to send me the inspector’s full name so that I can be sure that the person calling on my home is genuine.

3. I believe you need an official search warrant to enter my home – could you verify that this is correct?

4. I am in full time employment and am not able to be at home to receive the inspector from 8 am through 7 pm. The inspector would need to call either before 8 am or after 7pm on Monday - Thursday.

5. I am not able to receive the visitor to my home on the Jewish Sabbath (after sundown on Fridays through sundown on Saturdays) or on a Jewish holiday.

6. All visitors to my home are required to remove outdoor shoes before entering. Please could you let your inspector know about this.

7. I cannot permit any non-kosher meat into my home. Please can you advise your inspector of this.

8. My apartment contains an attic and I am sure your inspector will wish to search it thoroughly, to ensure that there is no equipment of a televisual nature lurking there. I do not possess a stepladder so you will need to provide one or send a very tall inspector.

I would be grateful if you could kindly complete the tear-off slip below and return it to me in the postage paid envelope that I have provided, so that I can be sure you have received and understood the contents of this letter.

With kind regards


JOANNA
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I (name and job title) _______________________________confirm that I have received Joanna's letter of 28th September 2005 and have read and understood its contents. I confirm that I believe Joanna's statement that she does not possess a television or any type of television receiving equipment in her home to be true and correct. I agree to comply with Joanna's wishes regarding any visit by an inspector to verify the verisimilitude of Joanna's statement. Should Joanna have any queries she may call me on my direct telephone number ____________or contact me via electronic mail on _______________. Signed __________________ on date ___________.

What's cookin'?

Since Joah and I found out that we both like to cook, we started cooking and buying cooking books like crazy. Must say that for 4 pounds ingredients you get a 15 pounds dish, and it tastes even better!

In any case, I was just cruising (as usual) on the Apple site and I saw this cute application which might help us - It might help you, too! (Even though I'm sure that it being posted on Apple's main download page is better than posting it here, but I'm helping where I can)

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

First try of Painter = PlayNerd v0.1



So, fiddling a bit with Painter made this ugly picture from this scanned, hand-drawed one.


Monday, September 26, 2005

On hold

I'm currently on hold on the Apple Care helpline.

I'm listening to their on hold music, which is country music - the music of pain.

I'm on hold trying to speak to a customer services representative, to ask them about the status of our issue, which is that Aviad ordered a laptop online, which came with a faulty lead. Apple replaced the lead but wanted us to ship back the faulty one. All fine, except the process involves waiting around at home for a courier to come pick up the lead 'at some point between 9 and 5'. Given that we already had to wait for the courier to ship the working lead to us 'at some point between 9 and 5', we're not very happy about this. It would, of course, be extremely difficult for someone with a full time job to take 2 days at home to wait for couriers and given that this is Apple's fault, not Aviad's, it's rather irritating.

What's more irritating is that Apple charged £45 for the lead.

I've managed to get them to waive this charge, but am now waiting on hold to find out what we can do about the courier. You can't speak to customer services directly, you get to speak to some poor tech support guy, who has to check with customer services for you.

There's really got to be an easier way to deal with your customers than this - bad customer service is a really bad British disease.

And now for the next verse of 'So Blue Without You' or whatever the heck this song is.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Doom

Joah and I bought the game Doom - The Board Game. We bought it mostly because we want to kick each other's asses and shooting little figurines to their death seemed like a good start at that. Now, I've seen Joah playing Doom the Computer Game. I've seen her dodge, swerve and strife to avoid her enemies while shooting back with all power, reaching peaks of joy as she hears a monster going "Aaaarrggh". When we started playing, we chose that I would be the invaders and she would be the marine**. When she played the marine, she decided that a hand-to-hand combat with a giant demon pig would be a good idea.

No way, babah! She got fragged sooner than you could say "Jack Robinson", and you can guess by that who's the happy winner!

** Chose is a too strong word. We actually decided that she would be the invaders, but once she realised it means she has to set the board she delegated that role to yours truly.

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Saturday, September 24, 2005

Worldview

Today, Aviad explained to me in more detail his utopian vision for the future, which, you may be surprised to hear, centres on the supremacy of one operating system over another.

To preserve the suspense, I will not reveal here which operating system Aviad stated would be the "State Operating System" in his brave new world.

However, the Aviad Utopia involves the following:

- humans will realise the truth about life
- immediately upon doing so they will unanimously elect Aviad as King and Supreme Ruler
- they will freely give Aviad all their money
- a certain operating system will be the state operating system
- all other operating systems, particularly a certain operating system will be illegal and users will be offered counselling and rehabilitation in a special centre, which will include, apparently, lectures and role playing games to demonstrate the True Path of Righteous Operating Systems.

Weird. WEIRD.

Mac Drawings

On my flight here I drew some self-intrepertations of the Mac Logo. Joah will soon draw them up and we'll post more about it when it's ready.

Hope you're as anxious to see it as I am!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

iProduct

Now, I've heard some laughs about iProduct, not to mention heard about the company, but this is too much!

Bluetooth Cellphones


So I'm in the Apple Store, looking at some features on the Mac. I wanted to check out Bluetooth support for Headsets, and while looking at the Bluetooth options I noticed it supported keyboards, mice, cellphones, headsets, printers.. Well, childishly I clicked every one of them - And when I reached cellphones I think I hit some sort of a Jackpot!

A picture is worth more than a thousand words, but let me just say that I closed the window after taking the photo. I think it doesn't matter much in reality - The phone needs to enable communication as well. But it was amusing just the same.

So far

So far, Aviad has:

- Rejected British humous (it is horrible), and we had to go to a special Haredi shop and buy some Miki humous.

- Explained the Ethernet, the Internet, and WiFi (with diagrams)

- Remarked that the Apple Store is his "second home", after commenting that he "became an Apple geek". No, really???!!!!

Cute, eh?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Back to England

It has been a while since I've been to England. 3 months and 14 days since I left last time, to be exact, but who's counting anyway?

What I would like to talk about though is the first coming-back-to-England culinar experience I had: England Homus.

Just trying to describe it brings back a memory of some light brown, scentless, watery and rather tasteless chic-pea salad.

I don't like English food. At first I couldn't understand how Britons could cope with such food and then my grandmother told me a story about the first time she came back to Romania after three years of being in The Land. She told me that when she saw all the people waiting in the bread queues, remembering how my grandfather used to wait in hem and her waiting in the ice queue (as there were no refrigirators), she couldn't believe she used to live like that. But when she lived there her whole life, it seemed like the most reasonable thing to do.

I guess it's the same with the English food. If they just all moved to France or Italy for a year.. Or better yet, to Israel! Have some proper Homus!

I don't think they'd make it though. No proper tea. And by proper tea I mean bitter, nightmare black tea, obviously.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Boxed sets of DVDs

I just wanted to say how great boxed sets are.

You get the whole series, in a slim volume, with pictures. I like the way the boxed set teases you by telling you a bit about the series on the back. You can watch the episodes in your own time, with no advertisements. You can stop them halfway through and do something else. You never have to watch the credits.

And you can revel in the wonderful sense of completeness you just know you will have when you have watched every single episode

As I write this, Aviad is on the Israir ("Fun is in the Air") flight to London, and I hope he's enjoying the building anticipation of watching Buffy Series Two on DVD.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Wishlist

Even though I know everyone took a cruise to my Wishlist at Froogle, I decided to post it in the blog itself.

To answer your imminent question of "Why", I would have to say it's mainly for Joah: She just can't avoid my Wishlist any longer! *wink* *wink*

Friday, September 16, 2005

Newest Skype for Mac

Ahh, my two favorite things (After Joah, of course - Nothing beats The Joah!): Skype and Mac. Skype released a new version for the Mac, namely 1.3.0.8. In addition, they released the cutest Widget (for Tiger), which can help you make a quick dial to a Skype or normal number. If you choose to dial to a normal number, it would instantly tell you the calling rates for this number. Can't say I didn't want that feature to exist for a long time - It's hard going through Skype's rating page!

Anyway, I guess this is time to say: Keep up the good work!


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Free Association

Sorry about the bad pun.

Anyway, Aviad got me noticing the proliferation of associations that exist here, and this has to be one of the weirder ones.

What's the deal with the tiny naked blonde chick bathing in a cup of tea? Or is it a normal-sized naked blonde chick bathing in a massive cup of tea?

I'm really not sure which is freakier.

Blog Readers

One of the things I found exciting about a Blog is that I can write a lot of nonsense and some other random people read that and find it amusing (or not).

What I'd like to know is, who are you people? I invite everyone who read this blog, this post, this headline, to post a comment and tell us who you are.

Happy Commenting!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Important question about Israel and Tea

How am I going to be able to dunk biscuits in tea if you guys don't have proper tea?

Looking at the bright side, Israel has the best coffee in the world ever, at least from all countries sampled, which include Italy and France.

The Apple Strikes Back

I have my Mac Mini back!

I went there last night and they refused to give it to me because I didn't have photo id. I also got threatened with physical violence from a charming young man who must have a lot of success with the ladies and can expect a meteoric rise in his career in Burger King, whose uniform he was wearing.

Anyway, I went back this morning, and received the Mac, and they even took the time to test it again for me to double check it was behaving itself.

I couldn't resist having a look at the iPod nanos, which were sitting on their wooden table, looking seductive and cute, like Aviad when he wants me to wash the dishes. And they are so cute! You can put photos on them and they are in colour and they play a couple of songs too.

Apple's service is better than any other company I've experienced in this country.

Apple Store in Israel?

I just spoke with a guy from Sarig1 and asked him about an . I also mentioned I saw on their site that they were in motion to open an Apple Store in Israel!

Apparantly it won't be as big as the London Regent St. Store, but it will be something special, and in The City, unlike Yeda who are in some offset variation of the center called Rosh HaAyin (my apologies to everyone who live there - I have friends there as well, it's just very far off for a shop!)


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I can't think of another Apple related pun

Mini Mac has been repaired!!!!!!!!!!!

I am supposed to take in 2 forms of ID including photo ID which I don't have, to collect him!

But still, this is great.

University

I registered myself to the courses of the coming Semester. It wasn't too hard, it was easier than say, lifting a fridge all by myself.

I noticed that Google offers a University Search, the Technion included there.

I just wish my university would have a page on the university search as well. Would have made yesterday's hide and seek with information much easier...

Monday, September 12, 2005

Using tags

I've decided that I should use Technorati Tags in the blog. It's my decision alone, even though I ask Joah to do it as well: It's not hard.

Hopefully it would serve two purposes: Bring some order to the posts and get more people seeing the blog!

Close but no apple.

I just called the Apple Store, Regent Street for an update on my Mac Mini repair.

This follows last Friday's attempts to find out how it was getting on, attempts that led me to speak to a call centre representative in Mumbai as well as go into the actual store, where someone was able to say that he had seen my Mac Mini in the repair room, but had no more information.

This morning I learned that my Mac Mini has not been repaired, and they haven't even started, and it's going to take two weeks.

Two weeks!!!!!!!!!

Sorry, Aviad, but I'm not that impressed by the service. I've had to chase them for information and have clocked up 30 minutes 'on hold' time so far, and two weeks is too long to repair a Mac Mini.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

More associations

I told Joah today that we could join or create the "Automated Annoying Shift Key Holder For Your
Assistance", after Windows XP did that thing to me again. Thing is I encounter some strange bug where the StickyKeys won't let go - And after a lot of fooling around with the control panel I manage to get it back to normal. I heard it doesn't happen only to me, so I am led to believe I am not just insane.

Joah responded by saying that if there is a TBA, there could be anything, including my futuristic AASKHFY Association.

Also, we both decided to attend this convention. It's better than iCon.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Firefox preventing Shmutz

Take a look at this:
“Firefox?” The Rabbi stops and thinks for a minute, rubbing his beard. “Ah yes! The one that blocks all the schmutz.”

Friday, September 09, 2005

Hey, Barbie - leave those kids alone

At the gym the other day, I nearly fell off the running machine when I saw this being advertised on one of the TV screens they have to distract us from the fact that we are, in fact, exercising.

The advert shows two 8 year old girls hanging out playing with Barbie dolls. One of the 8 year old girls asks the other something about what that sophisticated yet cool scent is. Her little pal explains that it’s the Barbie scent, and the advert then segues into showing the little kid in a pink outfit, prancing down a catwalk whilst people look and cheer. She tosses her blonde hair and pouts. We go back to the two kids, and the non-scented child looks at her chum, and at Barbie, in awe.

I never really understood the scent market anyway. OK, it smells nice. So far, so good. But it costs a small fortune, I can’t really tell them apart, and why am I supposed to be motivated to spend so much cash on a fancy bottle, just because Cindy Crawford, or J-Lo, or whoever pouts in soft-glow focus next it in an advert?

But now, here we are, selling this crap to 8 year old kids. Whilst 8 year old boys are having a great time playing computer games, army games and skateboarding, 8 year old girls are supposed to behave like 28 year old women, faffing about with clothes, skin care products, jewellery, and now scent. Do you know how boring that is?

Poor Jane Austen

The "Jane Austen Industry" has been revitalised by the latest Hollywood adaptation of one of Jane's novels, Pride and Prejudice.

Designed to really appeal to that section of the American and European market that thinks British people take tea and make lighthearted chitchat about the weather, live in castles, and like looking at pictures of the Queen, this charming movie has brought new life into shops selling useless, horrible, armpit-scorchingly embarrassing offerings like this Jane Austen carrier bag tidy.

This, however, is a tourist attraction too far.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Apple got the egg

After reading Joah's post, I had to check out what Apple had in store. First reports I read said something about a new generation of iPod - And the news from Apple didn't come too late after: iPod Nano. Closing the iPod Mini line (at least it doesn't appear on their site anymore, only on the store), they are now selling this Nano machine. Extremely small, carries 2GB or 4GB of songs and photos. To compare it with iPod Shuffle, I'd say:

  • It's definitely bigger, but not significantly bigger. You can still carry it on your neck and it's smaller than a cell phone.
  • It has an LCD screen. You can choose your songs, you have the Click Wheel, life is great.
  • The LCD is colourful - In that sense, it's a small iPod Photo, it seems to me.
  • You don't have the cool Shuffle button.
  • It can't have gizmos plugged in like iTrip, just like the Shuffle can't.
  • It doesn't plug in directly - It needs a cable, like regular iPods do.
I must say, since I already have an iPod, I can safely say I don't really need this. It's smaller in size but in capacity as well. I'd rather have an iPod Photo.

Apple watching

The excitement mounts.

More little white and silver boxes will be unveiled soon.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Apple service update

Well, the poor Mini Mac needs a lot of repairs.

He's (yes, I do anthropomorphise computers) getting a new logic board and a new optical drive.

So far, the customer service is good. I turned up at 09.55, 5 minutes before the store opened, and got booked into the technician schedule. I saw my technician on time. He was able to diagnose Mini Mac ("It's broken") in the store, and he will be repaired in the store as well.

The only bad thing is that it will take about a week...and I have to pay £35 for them to back up my data.

The weird thing is that the cost of the repairs was shown to be MORE than the original cost of the Mini Mac itself. I don't pay for the cost of the repairs as I am under warranty. I asked them why they didn't give me a new Mini Mac if it really cost that much, and they said it's their policy to repair them, even though, as they admitted, they are basically replacing most of the computer anyway.

Now we have to wait and see whether they do take a week, and whether they lose the machine, but at least I have a receipt with a repair number, and I can track that online.

I'm used to pretty dire customer service from the UK, and so far, Apple are doing very well.

And I do want to buy everything in their store.

Apple customer service

My Mac Mini has broken - it won't reboot and I just get a grey screen of death and despondency. I'm really upset about it.

So, I have had to schlep the thing into work today so I can take it to the Mac shop on Regent Street and try to get them to repair it. I'm lucky enough to work really close by.

I wonder how Apple's customer service will match the really pathetically crap service I got from this company when my PC broke (this involved them refusing to come round to pick it up from my house, then forgetting they had it, then shipping back to me someone else's PC, then refusing to pick that up from my house, then shipping back my PC with the same fault and another fault added, then me threatening them with legal action, etc etc).

I'm going to Apple in 20 minutes and I'm really hoping that they won't put me through this to get my Mac fixed.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Word Verification

I hate blog marketers. Since this blog has encountered a few (not many, but still enough to get me and Joah upset), I decided to start the Word Verification Service.

So, I am sorry, but you will have to write some letters with every comment. Hope it isn't too inconvinient.

Spaceward Ho!

It's not a new game, but it is a new version! Spaceward Ho! is a cool, turn based game that brings back gaming to computer games (and unfortunately, takes out graphics from it).

Also, there's a Palm version! (I can hear Joah screaming Nooooo from afar)

Passing time in the office

Let's face it, office jobs can be dull. Particularly if your colleagues are obsessed with celebrities and/or you have to attend a lot of meetings. But there are several ways that an imaginative worker can alleviate the boredom.

1. Product placement

If you or your colleagues have to make or take a lot of phone calls, you can amuse yourselves by trying to insert a random but amusing word or phrase into as many calls as possible. First you must choose your word with care: it's pointless picking something like 'Thursday' or 'paperclip'.

My personal favourite is 'Pterodactyl' as it takes real skill to get that into a phone call with a market research company or a creative agency.

Famously, we also got ALL OF THE SEVEN DWARVES into one phone call once. Try it - they are Dopey, Grumpy, Doc, Happy, Bashful, Sneezy and Sleepy.

2. Meeting bingo

I love doing this one in management meetings as it really helps make the time pass faster.

First of all you and your colleagues need to make a grid with something like 3 x 5 squares.

Into each of the squares, write a management word such as:

Blue Sky

Heads Up

Helicopter View

Proactive

24/7

Bottom Line

Thinking Outside The Box

Win - Win

Up-Skill

Client Focus

Market Segment

When someone in the meeting mentions one of these meaningless management speke words, you tick off the relevant square on your Meeting Bingo sheet. When all your squares are ticked, you leap to your feet and shout "House!".

3. Random kittens

Kittens are fun and cute. Stick random kitten pictures in random places around your office. You, and others, will come across these pictures at random times, e.g. when hiding in the toilets or staring at the coffee machine, or showing your new administrator how to work the photocopier. You will see the kitten and feel happy and warm.

Alternatively, you could, I don't know, do some work or something.

Oh My iGod

Coming from this blog I found BiblePod and BiblePlayer. If it ain't horrible enough, I decided to quote as well: "Free download. Jesus was downloaded so that we can be uploaded".

A Weird Sense of Ending

Even though my contract is far from being over (I still have another year for that to happen), I get the weird sense of "The end is nigh", and I don't mean armaggedon.

It's a weird sense. On one hand, I do want the project to succeed and will do what it takes to see it through it's completion. On the other, I feel my personal life, the life I am building with Joey, is taking a place in my life stream I didn't know of before.

If I would take a rewind back to a couple of years ago, when I first got to the department and started this contract, nothing was more important than "the work". I really did everything and gave everything. I still do - But what is different? It's hard to say. It's a feeling. It's remembering to make that phone call to Issta. It's not diving into work too much without checking my email and send a funny mail or a response to Joey while she's working. It's much more than that, and I would stop now because I feel like I'm writing a "Love is.." book.

Sigh... And I guess I also finally starting to feel the need to get out of the contract, something I haven't felt for the years I was in it.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Timeless Essential Indulgence

I just saw these three words in an advertisement on Regent Street: Timeless Essential Indulgence. Timeless - it's eternal, existing outside of time. Essential - basic, indispensible. Indulgence - the gratification of whims and desires OR the remission by the Pope of punishment in purgatory.

So: The basic, indispensible, perpetual gratification of whims and desires.

Wow.

What, I thought, can this be advertising? What (apart from Aviad) could perpetually gratify my most basic whims and desires?

Could this shop be selling Aviad?

No. It was selling liquid handwash. Actually, it claimed to be selling a 'lifestyle' based on the consumption of liquid handwash.

I hate meaningless, over the top advertising. It steals meaning from language.