Rob on Brexit

I’ve been agonising about writing this post for ages. On one hand I don’t want people to think that I’m the kind of person for whom the most important thing is a silly satnav idea, but on the other hand I don’t want to say something and then instantly turn half my readers against me. However I really can’t keep silent on this one. I promise that there will just be this one post, and tomorrow I’ll be back onto the daft stuff. So, here goes.

The biggest thing about Brexit for me is that quite a few people I know, admire and respect think it is a good idea. I start a conversation with them about how horrible the whole thing is and half way through they say something like “I wish we could just leave and have done with it”. Which I think is a very bad idea. I’ve rationalised this in two ways. The first is that there are some things about the EU that are very open to criticism. The second is that the UK press, lazy politicians and civil servants have found the EU a very useful thing to blame when things aren’t as good as they should be. And a lot of this mud has stuck.

I end up just going quiet on the matter, because I don’t think that Brexit is something that you should lose friends over, and I’ve not found a way of talking folks round. And it doesn’t, shouldn’t, mustn’t, make me think any less of them, any more than they should think less of me for wanting to stay in the EU.

One solution would for me to be like the chap at the end of the novel “1984”, when he actually learns to love “Big Brother”, the leader of the tyrannical state in which he is unlucky enough to live. Perhaps if I became a true believer it would would all make sense to me and I’d be happy about it, rather than the despair that I find myself in at the moment.

The way I see it, Brexit is only good for three kinds of people:

  1. The rich. It doesn’t matter to them whether the UK is in the EU, out of the EU or a smoking crater in the ground. They’re rich. They can just take their money somewhere else. But if the price of everything in the UK drops, their millions can go that bit further. And with the UK out of the EU they can bend rules and relax standards to allow them to make even more money. Which brings me to speculators….

  2. Speculators. While it is not legal to bet on a horse and then shoot all the other horses in the race, it seems that is is perfectly OK to place bets on the financial markets and then do things that drive them in the direction you want them to go. And if you are cynical enough to build up your brand at the same time you can make it into the Brexit circus.

  3. Brexit circus. This includes nasty businessmen who drive down the economy whilst profiting from this and building their horrid little brands. It also includes TV pundits who do solemn pieces to camera about “the worst political crisis since the corn laws”, having completely forgotten that their lack of due diligence when all these matters first arose has led directly to the problem. And then there are the social networks which don’t just allow falsehoods to fester, but also provide tools to better target the lies, all the time making profits. Ugh.

Anyone else is going to have to suffer through this whole affair, while the good name of the British is dragged through the mire. I never thought I’d be ashamed to be from this part of the world. I thought that folks out there would always celebrate our honesty, openness and natural tendency to try to do the right thing.

I can’t seen an end to this in the short term. I know that eventually we will be back in the EU at some point because nothing else will be found to work. But there is going to be a lot more pointless pain and upset until then. Oh well. At least I feel a bit better for having written something about it.

Satnav Upgrade Fun

Whenever we drive to our favourite cinema in Beverley the journey used to take us over a number of ploughed fields. At least that is what the car navigation system thought, what with the road having been added comparatively recently.

So today I thought I’d fix that and spent a little while downloading 22 Gigabytes from the BMW servers, unpacking it onto a micro SD card and then upgrading the internal maps in the car.

I’m pleased to be able to report that all that data seems to have done the trick, and map wise things are a bit more up to date.

Christmas Code Crack Answer

I’m feeling a bit guilty about this (in so far as I ever feel guilty about anything). A while back I asked both of my readers the meaning of this cryptic message:

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Yes, that is Z9 by the way. And Y5. I find the sequence fascinating. And I use it every year when I build our Christmas tree. It’s the installation order of the individually marked “branches” that clip onto the central core. If I get the order wrong the tree gets bigger as it gets higher, which is not a look that I like. I’ve no idea why the numbers are the way they are, or the mysterious need to go off into different letters and numbers in the middle of the sequence. But now it is on the blog at least I’ll not lose it for a while.

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Sofa So Bad

The sofa in our living room has a few problems. Mostly these are caused by the fact that I always seem to sit in the same place when watching the telly. What can I say, it’s the perfect seat for pictures and sound.

However, my “tv sweet spot” is now 2 inches lower than the cushion next to it. We had some folks over at Christmas and when they were sat next to me they seemed to tower over me. I’m not used to people towering over me. It feels wrong somehow.

So today I’ve started the process of fixing the problem. The solution I’ve going for is what I’m going to call “cushion pinhole surgery”. I’m going to open up a seam in the low cushion, add a bunch more stuffing and then either sew the hole back up again (posh solution) or stick some duct tape over it (lazy solution).

So, today I’ve ordered a big bag of foam pieces. Soon I should be sitting pretty again.

Peter Principle Programming

I seem to have the ability to write programs that are just that bit more complicated than I can get to work. I think this is an extension of “The Peter Principle”, which states that in an organisation any given person will be promoted to their “level of incompetence”. In other words, you stop being promoted when you get to the level where you can’t do the job.

I’m working on the code for the Air Quality sensor and I’m running up against the worst ever kind of fault. The one that occurs so rarely that you can’t easily cause it to happen. And if you add code to find out what is going on the problem vanishes. There are usually two possible reasons for this:

  • it is a timing bug, which occurs when a given set of events occur in a particular sequence

  • it is a memory corruption bug, where a process damages the contents of a value in memory which is picked up subsequently and causes the program to fail

I’ve done all the sensible things to try and isolate the problem. I’ve moved things around in memory to see if the fault changes. I’ve changed the order of code elements to see if that causes different things to happen. As of now, I can’t find out what is going on. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.

Comedy Eye Test

I had to go for an eye test. I really wanted to do this as a comedy routine, but my nerve failed:

Doctor: ‘Have your eyes ever been checked?’
Me: ‘No. They’ve always been blue.’
Doctor: ‘I don’t find that very funny.’
Me: ‘Well, I do know lots of cornea jokes….’

Anyhoo, all was well. They are not going to have to shoot any lasers at my exploding eyeballs, which has got to be a good thing.

Big thanks to all the folks at the Eye Clinic in Hull who were professional, efficient and totally awesome.

New Kcom Tariffs can save you money

I’ve just changed to a new contract for my home networking. The speed goes up, the amount of data stays the same and the price drops by eleven pounds a month.

What’s not to love?

If you’re in Hull you really should take a look here and see if there is something cheaper that you can change to. Hull is already one of the best connected cities in the world, it’s nice to see it getting cheaper as well.

Stealth Selling

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Old joke: “They say that money talks. The only thing it says to me is ‘Goodbye’”.

However, these days it doesn’t even do that. When Netflix (or a host of other subscription services) take their fees from my account they do so invisibly. The only way that I know that it has happened is by carefully checking my statements to find out why the balance value is dropping.

Today I found that a service I thought I’d cancelled ages ago has been racking up these “stealth charges”. Of course it’s my fault for misunderstanding what I was paying for, but if I’d had regular emails each time that the fee was paid I’d have spotted the rogue transactions much earlier.

It’s as if they don’t want to tell you when they take money in case you notice and cancel something…..

I reckon that a service provider should be forced to send you an email or a text each time they take your cash off you. These companies seem happy enough to send me emails advertising new things I can buy from them, it would be rather nice if they also told me when I had bought something.

Happy New Year from Hornsea

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We’ve got a tradition of going out to the seaside on New Year’s day. We didn’t do it last year, but this year the weather was so nice that we couldn’t resist it. So we headed down to Hornsea to see the sea. We managed to make the morning perfect by finding the Hornsea Floral Hall, where they were serving bacon butties.

The thing about a bacon sandwich is that once you’ve heard someone mention one, you really want one for yourself. The chap in the queue in front of us ordered a buttie and so we of course had to follow suit. It was really really nice.

What a great way to start 2019.

New Year Resolution Time

As the year ends it is time to think about new year resolutions. One of mine is that I’m not going to make the very old joke about getting a different computer monitor.

The other is to try to be a bit more assertive in the new year, or at least to stop apologising when cashiers in shops ask me “Do you have a loyalty card?” when I try to buy something. Up until now I’ve always said “Sorry, I’m afraid not”. From now on I’m just going to say "no”. That’ll make a difference to my life, no doubt.

I’d like to wish all (or is that both) my readers the very best of times in 2019 and beyond.

May your code always compile and your solder always stick.

Invisible hearing aids and other frauds

I was very upset to discover today that a shop in Cottingham (where I live - the village not the shop) has taken away their “Invisible hearing aids - 475 pounds a pair” sign. I really wanted to get a photograph of that sign.

The way I see it, advertising things like this is fraught with fraud potential.

“I say, there’s only one hearing aid in this box”
"That’s because the other one is switched on”
.. and so on.

They’ve now have a sign that that says “Free Eye Tests”. I can see fraud potential here too:

“We’ve done your test, that will be fifty pounds please”
”Hang on, the sign says that you do eye tests for free”
”Ah yes we do, but the charge is for testing the other eye. That costs fifty pounds….”

Sometimes I consider myself a great loss to the world of commerce.

Bank Heist Fun

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As part of our Christmas present, number one daughter organised a trip to an escape room in Hull. This was a room with a difference. It turns out that there is no problem escaping, you can leave the bank at any time. But, you’ll want to take away a few souvenirs in the form of wads of cash, gems etc etc.

The puzzle was a very good mock up of a bank branch (remember them), even down to the pens chained to the desk. And there was a strong room, and things containing money and clues in equal measure. I’m not going to tell you much about the puzzles, except that they are fun and the whole thing works very well to build tension during the hour you spend trying to get your hands on as much loot as possible.

We did OK, and each of us got a cheque for our share of the take. You can see mine above. It’s lovely to have these kinds of things in Hull. If you fancy a fun and challenging trip out I can strongly recommend it.