Apocalypse now

I bought a desk diary today. “That’s a 2018 diary, luvvie!” the cashier warned.

Did she imagine I would get home and slap my forehead in horror as I realised my mistake? Did she picture me returning to Customer Services, receipt in hand to explain that I had of course meant to buy a 2017 diary? In October 2017?

No. After all, she works in a shop that has been pushing tinsel and fairy lights since the beginning of September.

I can only conclude that to her, it’s not too early – it’s just that there’s no point.

Really …?

An articulated lorry passed me on the main road yesterday. It was an ordinary, anonymous curtain-sided trailer – ordinary except it carried signs on each side which said

Warning do not walk close to this vehicle at any time.

I think I’ll put one of those on my car.

What do you do?

One of the first questions commonly asked when meeting someone new. Usually asked before we enquire about hobbies and interests (although that might be more interesting for both parties).

Insurance companies also require this information, and I came across an amusing dropdown list whilst browsing for car insurance today. A bit like the over-detailed list of pre-nominal titles I wrote about some time ago. To the extent that it accurately reflects the vast range of jobs in 21st century Britain, it is a snapshot which might be of great value to historians in years to come. Continue reading

Apache OpenOffice Calc ‘Find’ behaviour

LIke many people I use OpenOffice 3.4.1 for word processing and spreadsheets. It closely resembles the Leading Brand office software suite, yet is completely free!

Using Calc today, I noticed an unexpected behaviour in its Find and Replace feature. I wanted to search for the value ‘55.80’ which I knew was contained somewhere in my spreadsheet. However, it could not find it.

The reason for this is that although the cell apprears to contain ‘55.80’, when you highlight the cell the input line near the top of the screen shows ‘55.8’. Even if you enter ‘55.80’ in the cell, Calc drops the trailing zero.

Is this normal?

Timewasters welcome!

I have got myself on this Freecycle mailing list, for reasons which I can no longer remember. They facilitate the passing on of unwanted household goods with the stated aim of keeping stuff ‘out of landfill’.

So if you have an old TV or rabbit hutch or pair of roller skates you no longer want, you can easily give them to someone else. That’s the idea. You can also ask for things too. The rules forbid being too fussy or specific in your ‘Wanted’ postings. After all, you shouldn’t look a gift-horse in the mouth. (What is a gift-horse, by the way?)

One posting today caught my eye:

OFFER: Used pillows
Re-offered due to no pick up.
Description Have at least 4 used pillows available.
Can be used as pillows or for cat/dog bed.
Pick up ASAP. Please state when you can collect.
This evening or tomorrow-sat am would be good. no time wasters.
Thank you

As I read through it, I hatched a plan to ask a few questions about the pillows. Colour, age, filling material – that sort of thing. I was going to arrange a collection time, and then just not show up.

Imagine my sense of frustration and disappointent when I got to the last sentence. That put paid to my little scheme!

eBay – could try harder

What kind of sloppy web design lets me sign in and poke around my messgages, view my watch list and purchase history, and do other signed-in things but then bounces me out when I actually try to bid on something?

Come on, eBay. I know I am not the only one in this frustrating loop. Can’t you stop counting all the money you are making for a moment and attend to this basic fault?

Whilst you are at it, why not make the whole website a bit more slick and up-to-date? eBay still feels like it was put together by some college nerds back in the ’90s.

Quidco – what’s not to like?

I love QuidcoIn August 2010 I wrote about joining Quidco. It’s a cashback service for a wide variety of retailers – both online and bricks-and-mortar.

I’m not talking about loyalty points or Air Miles either. They pay real money into your bank. Sometimes the deals are quite mouth-watering and so far I have received over £300 from them.

What’s the catch? None, really. It’s just another way in which retailers can compete for your business. Quidco do take the first £5 per annum from your cashback earnings which I think is very fair.

They also pay you just to walk in to participating shops, whether you buy anything or not! For this to work you need the Quidco app on your smartphone. It uses GPS to tell you what tempting deals are on offer nearby, and if a store is offering a ‘check-in’ incentive you just tap a button on your phone when you are inside the premises to register your presence. OK so it’s usually only 10p or 15p but if you are passing by anyway it seems churlish not to spend a moment browsing their wares.

Click here to join Quidco