July 17th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

The rest of this article is interesting but as a shy person, this struck a chord with me…

Zimbardo began thinking of shy people as incarcerating themselves in a silent prison, in which they also acted as their own guards, setting severe constraints on their speech and behaviour that were self-imposed although they felt involuntary.

I may write about this some day soon, if I can.

via FOI Man

overdue upgrade

March 7th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink


It’s been a while, huh? Do you wanna hear a story with a happy ending? Read on then.

I’d had my current mobile phone for a while now. It’s a HTC Desire S and it’s been a good, trusty tool for me. The spec is ok and I’ve never really had any problems with it.

Recently though I’d been thinking about rooting it. I don’t know why, just plain old curiosity probably. I’m not sure what I’d do with it after rooting it, but I’ve never quite been able to bring myself to do it. I’ve read a couple of forums and so on about it and it seems easy enough but there’s always the fear of bricking it that has stopped me.

Then yesterday my phone locked up. It stopped. Bugger. I tried rebooting it, taking the battery out for a while and restarting it, and eventually the only thing I could do start the bootloader and factory reset it. That worked for a little while, half an hour or so and then nothing again.

It’s now sat on the mantlepiece, the only thing it will do is start up in bootloader and shutdown.

Until now, I’d never really thought about how long I’d had the phone. Every reasonably priced contract is 24 months long with available at at 21 months. I logged into the Orange website to look at my account to see when I was due an upgrade. I was expecting to see I had another month or two to go, but now the little box said “Upgrade available anytime”. Excellent. That’s a bit of a result. In a subsequent conversation with the upgrade department it turns out I got my Desire S 35 months ago! I suppose that’s a testament to how well happy I am with it. In nearly two and half years it never occurred to me to change my phone, it never lacked anything enough to make me think about getting another.

Because I’m a skinflint and the latest high-end mobile phone isn’t that important to me I don’t want to be paying hundreds of pounds for a new phone. Taking this into consideration, my options for upgrading looked like a Nokia Lumina 820 LTE, a Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini or an iPhone 5 16GB for nothing or a 32GB iPhone for £50.

The Nokia is Windows Phone 8 OS, and even though its spec is quite good (I’m no expert on phones btw) I really don’t want Windows. I use Windows everyday for eight hours at work, I really don’t want it on my phone as well. So that one is out. The Samsung looked ok. Every review I read said it was ok, but it was no full sized Galaxy S3 which, although the reviews were good, left me a little disappointed that it wasn’t a phone that would cost me £199 to upgrade to.

This left the iPhone. I know the iPhone. Everyone knows the iPhone. Loads of apps, good screen blah blah blah and it wouldn’t be used in a way that would mean changing loads of accessories (because of the change of connector). It doesn’t have an SD card slot so it’d have to be the 32GB version. I clicked the upgrade button and a pop up box appeared I’d have to either pay a fuck load more for it (I can’t remember how much) or change my contract to a 4G plan. I didn’t progress any further because either way, it’d cost me an arm and a leg.

In hindsight, I think I would’ve got fucked off with having to do everything through sodding iTunes very quickly.

That left the Galaxy Mini. Fair enough. On its own it looks a capable phone, and it’d cost me bugger all.

Whilst buggering about on the Orange site I thought I’d have a look at some bills and check exactly how much I’m currently paying a month when I noticed I was being charged £3.33 a month for the last fuck knows how long for something called TrafficTV. A little stupidly, I don’t always check my bills. Ok, I never check my bills. I know I should but the amount always varies a little because of 0845, 0870 and all those non-geographic numbers that organisations have started using over the last couple of years. Sometimes doesn’t have an alternative number and you just have to suck it up and pay a little.

It turns out TrafficTV is an app Orange bundles with their phones. It tells you about the state of traffic on your route and stuff like that. I now remember opening it once to have a look and never opened it again. That, apparently, is enough to trigger a subscription to it. I can’t moan about it being sneaky or false as it’s that long ago I can’t remember the warnings, if any, I was given about any subscription. I was still bloody angry about it and was prepared to give whoever answered the phone a load of shit about it when I called. Remember kids, always check you bill, I will now.

So, I ring Orange and eventually get through to someone to speak about this TrafficTV thing and with out hesitation the chap said he’d cancel the subscription and will refund up to £50, which is handy as I want a £40-ish refund. That completely took the wind out of my sails as I don’t have any way to prove I haven’t been using it and was expecting at least a little resistance to it. After a little bit of Googling, I think they’ve had a lot a calls like that and it’s pointless ranting to the customer service chap about it, so I got passed through to the upgrade department to order my new slightly disappointing phone.

Again, what happened I wasn’t quite expecting. When I upgraded to the HTC, I can’t remember all the details but I kept my call plan which is now getting on for 10 years old, got a discount on it, and had to pay £50 for the phone, whereas it was listed at £75 or £100. The phone was despatched to the wrong address and so arrived a day late and without even being asked, Orange refunded the £50 I had to pay.

This time, I was asked what phone I was looking at and told the Nick, for that was her name, that I was looking at the Galaxy Mini as I couldn’t justify paying nearly £200 for the big Galaxy…. and off she went. “Just give me a minute” she said and 20 seconds later, she’s offering me the Galaxy S3 LTE for nothing, on basically my plan, but twice as much data for one pound more a month. Oh and then she re-applies my 10% discount.

So now, I’ve got a phone that should’ve cost me £200, twice as much data allowance, and a monthly bill not too far shy of £5 less. 35 months ago I had to threaten to go with another phone company. I know the people on the phone have a certain amount they can do, but wtf? I was expecting to at least have to haggle/beg a bit to just got the Galaxy Mini for free.

For now though, it’s off to the forums to get work out how to fix the trusty HTC.

Orange hazlenuts

December 16th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

My lad has a nut allergy. That’s not a problem in itself, especially as he takes it seriously himself, always asking people, when he’s eating food other people have prepared, if something has nuts in.

It takes you back a little at first when you’re told, or it did me at least, but then you settle into things. You remember to take his epipens with you about the place. You look at ingredients of anything new you pick up shopping, you ask in restaurants or, you make a packed lunch, just in case.

Now and again though, you slip up. You’re in a hurry and forget the epipens. You pick up a packet of food and forget to check the ingredients, or as happened tonight, don’t think you need to.

Because my lad has a nut allergy, we have chocolate spread that doesn’t have nuts in the ingredients. We have Tesco’s chocolate spread. This one…

chocolate spread

These are the ingredients:


It looks like Tesco, along with Cadbury’s, have found the secret of making chocolate spread without using hazlenuts.

So why the buggery, would they do this to their orange chocolate spread?…


They both have virtually the same ingredients, except the orange flavoured one has orange flavouring… and hazlenuts. Since when have hazlenuts tasted of orange? What purpose do they serve?

What irks me, is that the labelling is the same on both jars, apart from the colour. There is no indication to someone used to buying the plain spread that the orange one would have anything other than orange flavouring added. I must add that it probably irks me as a reaction to my slip up of only checking the ingredients at the last minute before opening the jar rather than on the shelf before purchase.

But why should the label be any different? It is from the same range of products, so the labelling would be the same. But why should it have bloody hazlenuts in it? As far as I can tell the only thing Tesco have done by adding hazlenuts to chocolate spread that doesn’t have nuts in, is to keep a little lads’ packed lunch from being a little more exciting.

Update 17/12/12:

I tweeted this post at Tesco. They responded…

My lad will be happy.

Update 27/01/2013

Well, what the fuck happened there, then? A nut free recipe was supposed to be being introduced for the Orange flavoured chocolate spread, but instead, look…

chocolate spread with nuts

Nuts where there wasn’t any previously. When Tesco tweeted that a new recipe was about to be rolled out, I thought they meant they’d be taking nuts *out* of the their orange flavoured chocolate spread, not putting hazel nuts *into* it’s ordinary chocolate spread.

But why? What has prompted this change of recipe? Have there been a sudden flurry of complaints about it not being nutty enough? After years of not having nuts in it, is it suddenly not good enough?

Very disappointed, Tesco. Very disappointed.

Drop bar trial riding

October 9th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

This is fucking awesome. Arguably more awesome than Danny MaCaskill…

Martyn Ashton takes the £10k carbon road bike used by Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins & Mark Cavendish for a ride with a difference. With a plan to push the limits of road biking as far as his lycra legs would dare, Martyn looked to get his ultimate ride out of the awesome Pinarello Dogma 2. This bike won the 2012 Tour de France – surely it deserves a Road Bike Party!

via Kottke

Trucks are not responsible for every cyclist that gets killed.

May 13th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

*Why* should there be blind spots, and *why* should cyclists even have to keep themselves out of them? This is an utter disaster

I’m guessing the “utter disaster”refers to an accident, so we’ll leave that as I don’t know the accident and so can’t comment on it. The rest of the tweet is the sort of attitude that gets cyclists killed and lorry drivers unfairly blamed.

I feel I’ve quite a rounded experience of the roads. I’ve driven trucks. I’m also a cyclist. I don’t have the experience of cycling in a major city like London but I’ve still done my share of miles on all sorts of roads. Just for the record, I also drive a car and ride motorbikes, although I’ve not done the latter for a few years now.

Taking the first part of the tweet: Why should trucks have blind spots?

Well, the simple answer is, they shouldn’t really. The law stipulates that trucks have a minimum number of mirrors and the area of coverage they give.

The following image (from here) is the best I could find to simply show what mirrors have to be fitted to UK trucks. Oh, click to enlarge any of the following images…

In the UK though, the Class V kerb mirror should be on the kerbside, the left of the truck.

What do all those mirrors mean?

The Class II main mirror has the following field of vision. On a rigid vehicle it is a Class III, with a slightly different field of vision but the end result is essentially the same.

The Class IV wide angle mirrors shows the following…

The Class V kerb mirror and Class VI front mirror have the following fields of vision…

And what sort of coverage does all that add up to?

Pretty comprehensive, wouldn’t you agree? There is no mirror coverage directly outside the cab on the drivers side as the driver doesn’t need a mirror to see that area and the tiny gap twix the kerb mirror and the rear view mirrors on the nearside of the vehicle doesn’t, in reality, exist. If any of those mirrors are broken or missing, it’s not just a case of it not passing it’s equivalent of the MOT, but the VOSA, and the police, could issue a GV9 there and then at the roadside. A GV9 prevents the vehicle from being moved until the fault has been rectified. A car driver would just be told to get it fixed as soon as possible.

It would’ve been nice to have front mirrors required to be retro-fitted to existing vehicles too, not just new vehicles, but as older vehicles wouldn’t have mounting brackets and would require quite a bit of work to do, it is arguably not practical. It would be opening a right can of worms with operators and such risking more dangers by bodging the mirrors on.

In 2009 a new specification of mirrors gave the coverage shown above. All trucks registered after the year 2000 had to be fitted with them. Not just new, every truck on the road had to have these new mirrors. The front mirror was introduced on new trucks from 2007.

This image shows the coverage of the old mirrors versus the new mirrors. The yellow is the old style and the orange (is it orange?) colour is the new…

Those images are from somewhere on this site.

There you go then. All the mirrors overlap in their field of vision, which wasn’t the case before 2009, and the field of vision provided by the mirrors has been improved greatly. The only real, unavoidable blindspot is directly behind the truck and that is taken care of by responsible truck operators with camera systems with a monitor in the cab that switch on when the vehicle engages reverse gear. These modern camera systems even have microphones. Some operators even fit cameras to the sides of vehicles, although that is most common on municipal vehicles with side loading mechanisms.

Now we know that there are no blindspots on a truck the second part of that tweet, “*why* should cyclists even have to keep themselves out of them?” could be rephrased. Maybe to something like “Why should cyclists be wary of something that could kill them without even knowing about it?”, which pretty much answers itself.

When I was learning to drive a car, my instructed gave me two pieces of advice: to treat every other road user like an idiot, like they don’t know what they’re doing and so will be unpredictable and ; lorries have the right of weight. Both pieces have, on occasion, saved my bacon.

The problem comes not through blind spots but from the truck driver only having one pair of eyes. It doesn’t matter how many screens or mirrors a truck is fitted with, the driver can only look in one direction at a time.

Again, when I learnt to drive a truck, my instructor drilled it into me to use the mirrors all the time. When you put it in gear, when you release the park brake, not just before you indicate but when you think about manoeuvring. When you speed up, when you slow down. You use the mirrors to check your positioning on the road, to help you gauge how far from the kerb you are. All the time your head is sweeping left to right and back again. When I started I wondered how the buggery I was supposed to find time to look forward!

Even with a fully aware driver, a bike can nip into where the truck is going without the driver spotting it.

What it comes down to is being aware how other vehicles on the road behave. Articulated trucks don’t follow the same line through roundabouts as cars, for instance.

Why would you not give something that size a bit of space and patience? Not every accident involving a bike and a lorry is the fault of the lorry driver.

As a cyclist, you are ultimately responsible for your own safety, just like every other road user is. Yes, other road users also have a responsibility not to kill you, but ride like a dick and you’re gonna get hurt.

Learn about how trucks need to navigate the roads and give them a bit of space. It could save your life.

If you really want to read the legislation on truck mirrors it’s here, here, here and here.

On dog owners

March 8th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Three occassions recently have brought me to the conclusion that dog owners are increasingly becoming arseholes.

There’s three events that are bringing me to this conclusion.

The first. Picture the scene. It’s a bright warm Autumn afternoon and my family and our neighbours are mooching about in our front gardens, the adults chatting, front doors open as we pop in and out, the kids playing with their bikes/skateboards/football when a chap walks past with his dog, a little Staffy not on a lead. There’s no fences on the boundary of the gardens just like many other gardens, and the dog thinking this looks like a fun place, wanders in to the gardens, has a run around in a little circle for a couple of minutes, freaking out a couple of the kids (who are all under 8 years of age) and then goes straight to my neighbours front door and in it goes.

One of my neighbours is in the house at the time and chases it out. The dog owner making a not very spirited effort at calling the dog back to him.

My neighbour, quite rightly, gives the chap a fucking earful. An unknown dog just chased our kids and then went in to her house. She has a right to be pissed off. The owner gives a half-hearted protestation that his dog is just playing and wouldn’t hurt anyone is irrelevant, and ends up walking away not with an apology but a “fuck you”.

The second occassion, The kids and I are out on our bikes geocaching. We stop to find a cache down a footpath and as we’re opening the box and deciding what we’re going to leave in it two women walk past with four or five little dogs, about the size off Scotties or a big Yorkshire terrier, non of them on a lead. As they walk past our laid down bikes one of dogs has a sniff of my lads’ bikes’ seat and then cocks a leg at it. Only after I raise my voice to one of the women shuffle the dog along with her foot. I loudly grumble something along the lines of ‘for fucks sake’ she gives me something similar back. And on they go.

The third occassion was this morning. I’m just clearing the frost from the windows of my car when a chap walks past with a lovely looking alsation type of dog. Beautiful, it was. Again, the dog wanders up the garden and picks up a tennis ball sitting on the ground under a window a takes it to it’s master. As the bloke throws the ball back where it came from, telling his dog to leave it in a voice you’d use when amusing a six month old baby, I ask him politley to keep his dog under more control. Y’know, stop running and fetching anything it likes. He looks at me and then wanders off without a word.

Now, this is starting to piss me off. Not the behaviour of the dogs, per se. The reaction of the owners. I accept that a dog is like a child. The reactions we got were unacceptable. Not one apology. At best we was ignored and at worst got abuse thrown at us.

They might like their dog, but I don’t want a fucking dog I don’t know going into my house, or pissing and fucking dribbling on stuff my kids fucking play with. How would these cunts like it if I let my kids just wander into thier house? What would they do if my lad took a slash up their front door? They might not mind picking up it’s shit, but I don’t want to clean fucking dog piss off my stuff.

I’m not talking about ‘dangerous’ dogs and their owners. The couple of those types of dogs round here are owned by the stereotypical onwer, but the dogs are really well behaved and obedient (from what I’ve seen) and their owners are quite apologetic when their dogs come up to us and they see that my lass is absolutely petrified of them.

It’s these other ignorant cunts that I have the problem with. The fucking labrador might be bouncing with joy at a new person in the street to sniff, but when my lass is shaking with fear while a dog nearly as big as her comes bounding towards her, ‘Don’t worry, he won’t hurt her. He’s friendly’ doesn’t really cut it.

Star Wars sandwich

October 4th, 2011 § 4 comments § permalink


I had a creative burst while making sandwiches for school/work tomorrow. My lad is a huge Star Wars fan, I just hope he recognises what it’s meant to be.


The colours are a bit off as I only had a red, blue, green, and yellow food colouring pens. The yellow doesn’t really show up that well*.


*at all.

Posted via email from Sim-O

I need a wordpress theme

August 31st, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

I wonder if I could trouble you for some suggestions for a WordPress theme, please?

I’m not very good at getting into the code of themes so I need a theme that is very easily modified. It is for a work project I am doing in my own time and just need to be able to knock up a working mock up that has the same style as our existing website. I doesn’t need to be exact, just good enough to illustrate how the final version would look.

what I need is:

  • to be able to put a full width image in the header
  • links across the top, just underneath the header image. These links need to be anchored with images.
  • The links down the left hand sidebar are to be images.
  • A full width image in the footer.
  • It needs to be free. I have no budget, and probably won’t get one with the final version either.

As I say, I’m not up to digging into the code of the style sheet or templates to start changing widths and placements etc of elements so the easier to modify the better. I know a little about coding, but in reality that translates to next to nothing.

Any suggestions would be welcome and can offer nothing in return except some gratitude and a little bit of link-love (for what that’s worth from this little ol’ site here).

Thank you.

For Amber: handbags and bunting

May 17th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Does the lady in your life fancy a funky new handbag? Do you need some bunting for a party?

If the answer to either of those questions is yes, then head over to and have a look.

A friend of mine, Billie, is selling handbags and bunting in a new venture. They are all handmade, and the quality is excellent.

The range Billie is doing at the moment is called For Amber. All proceeds, that’s everything except the cost of materials, goes toward Leukemia research. Amber recently lost her fight against leukemia.

Below is a couple of the designs available (click to enlarge)

Billie says…

All ‘Grown Up’ bags are £20 each. I will let you know on P+P if needed.

The bases are approx 12cm X 22cm and they are about 20 cm tall.

All except for the ‘Union Jack’ ones can be made in a kiddy size for £15.

They have a popper fastening, I am looking into using a zip in some of them. I have also done a velcro fastening for the kiddy bags.

Just let me know the design you want and (if applicable and I have stock), the colour for the lining and the button design you would like.

Go on, treat yourself or your lady.

Calm down, dear. It’s only a wedding

April 28th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Tomorrow is the royal wedding of Prince William, second in line to the throne, and Kate Middleton, as I’m sure you know already but probably wish you didn’t.

Looking past the vast cost, the hubbub of who has and who hasn’t been invited, the police mindset of labelling any protestors as criminals already, the anachronistics of the grooms position in society due to an accident of birth, and all the other rubbish that goes with an occasion like this, remember one thing.

Underneath it all this is some ones’ big day.

If you’re going to protest, be nice about it.

*waits to be either ignored or told to shut the fuck up*

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the Life category at Sim-O.