Switching to Ovo Energy “Greener Energy” – Debacle

On 19th February occurred the latest in a long line of blunders since I first applied to switch to Ovo Energy back in August last year. After running a comparison against my previous providers and the wider market, I decided I would switch to Ovo Energy’s Greener Energy (all online) tarriff.

First Ovo tried to switch the wrong gas account (i.e. not mine!). Because of where I live I am supplied through an independent gas transporter which means I was told it would take 4-12 weeks to transfer. By December I realised that time was now up and still my transfer hadn’t completed. There had been no contact from Ovo in this time to tell me anything was amiss and I was told at least once that I just needed to wait.

Sure enough, after me chasing Ovo, it eventually turned out they’d been trying to move the wrong account. If I recall they asked for my meter number when I signed up, but somewhere this got converted into an MPRN (Meter Point Registration Number) – but the one in my Ovo account wasn’t the one on my bills from my old supplier.

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HTC Desire Headphone Issues

This is just a random puzzling issue. I recently went to work without my iPod headphones which I’ve been using with my HTC Desire to listen to music during work, so I tried some others I’d picked up over the summer courtesy of Continental Airlines.

For some reason when I put the headphones in the sound went all echoy and when I tried to fix it the tracks would randomly skip forwards, skip backwards and skip through tracks. I also noticed the headphones icon at the top included what looks to be a headset microphone.

Turns out I’m not the only one… users on Android Forums have been reporting the same issue. Very disappointing from a top-of-the-range Smartphone.

HTC Skimming on Quality to Cut Costs of Flashy Smartphones?

I really like my HTC Desire (purchased from Mobiles.co.uk about 2 months ago) and intend to blog a proper review soon.  There are niggles that I have with it but overall I’m very satisfied with it. One major pain in the backside though, is the micro-USB port used both for data transfer and for charging. In a word, it’s shit!

When I first got the phone it didn’t take more than a few days to notice that the connection was loose and it would shut off mid-charge etc. Not good. After leaving my charger in a hotel I bought a replacement from Argos. This was better but still has issues.

It was after this that I realised that the data cable for my work phone, a Nokia 5230, also had a micro-usb connector on the end. Guess what: it seems to fit perfectly!

So are HTC just cutting corners by supplying shit peripherals ?

Car Body Repair in Belfast

For those who don’t know, my Astra was attacked in Donegal at the end of July.  Woke up to the damage on the Saturday morning. The windscreen was fixed for just the £60 excess on the Monday (apparently these guys don’t do weekends).  The Garda were nice but never inspired much hope of catching anyone and were ultimately useless.  Anyway, having left work I finally got around to shopping around for estimates and thought I’d share my experience for anyone else looking to get a car repaired in the Belfast area.

My Experience

I actually got one from Bodytech Collision Repair in Carrickfergus a few weeks ago, because they seem to be the only car body repair outfit open on a Saturday morning.  They came in at £666 + VAT which was £783.31 to you and me. They seemed very professional (nice modern office, ample parking, full-time receptionist) despite the out of date web site which still reports an operation in the Village area of Belfast (I think they said that branch just closed in March or April, though don’t quote me on that).

I would have probably just gone with that, since getting another estimate outside of office hours was so bloody difficult; I could tell people over the phone what it needed (a new tailgate) but they all wanted to see for themselves. Since I knew I’d have 2 weeks between jobs coming up I thought I’d wait though, and I’m glad I did (so far).

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Things that Piss Me Off 4: Shitty Broadband Comparison Sites

I’ve come across this before and complained (to no avail, but the vent was worth it) but today I discovered that Ofcom has an accreditation scheme for broadband sites. This sounded promising so I checked out the two sites that I was advised had received said accreditation: SimplifyDigital.co.uk and BroadbandChoices.co.uk.

Long-time readers (pretending there are any) will know that misleading advertising broadband is a major pet peeve of mine. Not misselling speeds, because there’s no reliable way an ISP can accurately predict what speed your line will take (if you don’t already have broadband).  This mis-selling is much worse; I’m talking about the companies who lie in their headline speeds by advertising broadband “from £4.99 a monthfor the first three months, £14.99 thereafter, 12 month contract applies, not inclusive of compulsory phone-line rental.

Of course companies will continue to advertise lies like this as long as they get away with it, even the once-honest Plus net (who I do otherwise like) have now jumped on the bandwagon claiming they need to compete with scum like Tiscali and BT. Until someone takes them up on it they’ll continue lying and cheating customers with scant regard for concepts like honesty and integrity, but surely we can expect more of the broadband comparison sites who are, after all, fighting for a fair deal for the consumer, right?

Wrong. It seems the comparison sites get all caught up in the headline figures and thus actively encourage the misleading advertising that broadband companies seem so keen on.

Continue reading “Things that Piss Me Off 4: Shitty Broadband Comparison Sites”

Things that Piss Me Off 3: Twitter Whores

I have a tiny following on Twitter.  I’m comfortable with that. In fact I’d much rather have nobody listening than have a list of people following me who are also “following” 162,458 other people! You’d have thought Twitter would take a dim view of such blatant spam, but apparently not.

To that end my tiny following just got tinier with the deletion of anyone following more than 10,000 people. That seems more than fair to me.

Things that Piss Me Off 2: Literally

I’ve decided there’s probably enough material out there to start running “Things that Piss Me Off” as a regular feature.  I’m going to retcon Friday’s PHP niggle as “Things that Piss Me Off 1”, so today’s entry is number 2.

A quick google has revealed that I’m not alone in being pissed off by this. There is even a blog dedicated to “tracking abuse of the word ‘literally’” (apparently it happens even in works by respected authors, I mean come on!)

“It is bad enough to exaggerate but to affirm the truth of the exaggeration is intolerable.”

Ambrose Bierce, discussing the example sentence “His eloquence literally swept the audience from its feet.” in Write it right: A little blacklist of literary faults

I was reminded of this yesterday when one of those shitty “reality” TV shows was on. OK, it was shipwrecked (it was Sunday, my other half was watching it and I was immobile due to recovering from some gentle exercise). The latest bint rejected from the island was being carried off in a boat, supposedly on her way home. When she began to suspect she wasn’t being taken home but to another island she claimed that, if her suspicions were confirmed, she “would literally die”.

As appealing as that prospect sounded my fear that she was just the latest in a long line of people abusing the word literally was confirmed when after a full week she had failed to live up to her promise. Qu’elle surprise!

Big PHP Niggle

I need a quick bitch.

I love PHP. It’s everywhere. All my sites are written in it. My CMS is written in it. My blog engines, WordPress and b2evolution, are written in it. It’s free. It runs on any platform. Hosts all support it. With PHP 5 they’ve even done a lot of work on PHP4’s main downfall – lack of OOP support.

One thing really pisses me off though – it’s totally inconsistent.  Consider these two functions:

  1. strstr — Find first occurrence of a string
  2. in_array — Checks if a value exists in an array

Take a close look. See the signatures?

string strstr ( string $haystack , mixed $needle [, bool $before_needle ] )
bool in_array ( mixed $needle , array $haystack [, bool $strict ] )

In in_array the first parameter is what you’re looking for and the second is what you’re looking in (more or less consistent with preg_match).  In strstr (and its derivatives) this order is reversed. Who on Earth let that slip through? I’m yet to find a free text editor that will tell you which parameters a given function expects (Dreamweaver does a decent job but it’s bloody expensive for a text editor!) the way Visual Studio does for C#, which I use a lot in work.  Given that situation, you’d expect consistency in this sort of thing.  Apparently not so. Instead, every time I want to use one of these functions I have to do a quick Google to bring me to the PHP manual page to tell me which order the parameters come in.

Of course they can’t even fix that without breaking backwards compatibility either, so we’re probably stuck with it.  Bloody marvellous!

What’re you lookin’ at?

Well I thought it was interesting so here’s the top 10 posts on nerd. by number of views (based on the last 500 page hits courtesy of Statcounter.com).

  1. Review: Why the Netgear WG311 v3 Sucks (72)
    Slightly dodgy network card that Netgear don’t seem that fussed about fixing. Bad on XP, it got worse on Vista (see number 4).
  2. Playing iPod Video on Your TV (45)
    Seems to be a lot of people looking for instructions for the iPod Classic. Here’s a tip: sell it.
  3. Server application unavailable: installing IIS on .NET 2.0 (44)
    Seems to be a common problem. Sadly Microsoft’s error message is about as relevant as ever.
  4. Installing Vista (AKA More Netgear WG311 Misery) (31)
    Even more messed up. Thank goodness for Linksys!
  5. Thunderbird/Outlook/Google Calendar Integration (25)
    How to integrate your Thunderbird calendar at home with your Outlook in work, via Google Calendar.
  6. Orange Answerphone (Voicemail) Number for PAYG (23)
    Such a simple problem. Who knew it would be so hard to find?
  7. Stop Monitor.exe Hogging CPU (20)
    Why can’t people just give you a standard installation instead of trying to do everything for you? Help sounds good, until their useful tools start killing your PC.
  8. How to run IIS Web Server in Windows XP Home (20)
    Microsoft’s official line is it can’t be done, but it’s not that tricky.
  9. Making Firefox Scroll With Syanptics TouchPad (19)
    Discovering the solution to making Firefox scroll on my Acer Aspire laptop.
  10. NAS or Home Server (17)
    I deliberate over whether I can justify spending the extra to build or buy a home server before eventually deciding that a Linkstation Live will meet my needs for less than half the price.

1996 Ford Escort, 73k miles, £595 ono

Yes, shameless promotion I know, but I recently purchased a 3 year old Astra so my beloved Escort is up for grabs. It’s in good working order and has only 73k miles on the clock (fuck all for a 1996 car). I think £595 is a very good price for this motor.


Feel free to make any enquiries through this blog or give me a call (numbers on the LoadzaCars page).