More Spooks. Another thing I forgot to mention last week: the woman from the BT adverts inexplicably has a picture of a pig:
Well, maybe explicably – it’s an excellent pig, an absolute unit, no explanation needed.
Now, some series and deaths and disappearances of main characters later, Martine McCutcheon – from some yoghurt adverts, and who is famously rhyming slang for “escutcheon” – has appeared, and well done to her.
Some work. Now ingesting timetable data from more different sources, which
I’d been unhurriedly working towards for some time but necessity is the
mother of invention. The point is that the more different sources are more
up to date, which is useful when all the timetables have necessarily been
The English Bus Open Data Service was
launched a few months ago, and one of its advantages is that data can be
updated more quickly, but it’s not been much use as only a few proactive
operators are using using it so far, and even fewer have updated their data
in the last week or so. If the pandemic could have waited a year, it would
would have been great, but viruses don’t care about public transport
Oh well, the older Traveline National Dataset has been updating more
frequently than usual –
in the past I’ve imagined a donkey pulling a rope to turn a wheel to work the
interconnected computer systems, but that would be an unfair characterisation.
👏 to all involved.
Another little database outage this weekend. I mention it because it’s nice for me to be able to look back and see that,
for example, it’s been two months since the previous outage – getting better.
I took a while to fix this one, possibly because it had been so long since
the last one, so I wonder if I ought to write me an “incident response playbook”,
although that sounds like too grand and professional a phrase for just one
dude in his underpants.
I rashly pre-ordered a year of Disney+ subscription a few weeks ago. Then
Disney+ launched here this week, and I realised that, apart from maybe some
badly cropped episodes of The Simpsons, I have no interest in any of the
content on Disney+. I phoned up to obtain a refund, which was fine, and make me
feel like I’d achieved something that day.
Ingeniously, they’ve stuck labels on the floor of the big Morrisons, near the
tills, at I guess two metre intervals, to help queuers keep a safe distance
from one another. There’s a temptation to leap from one label to the next,
like they’re lily pads, but that’s not the point at all.
I trust someone’s working on a computer game where you have to go about while
keeping two metres from other people.
I’m a bit bored of the “I went to the supermarket and they had sold out of eggs” stories.
It did occur to me that “the wisdom of crowds” has been discredited suddenly,
and in fact supermarket queues are somewhere where the wisdom of crowds never holds – usually the least popular queue is the best.
But then I waited behind an unlucky man who took a long time to scan his groceries on the self-checkout machine – as long as it took the several people in the next queue.
Also, it may be that I don’t know what the “the wisdom of crowds” actually is, and I’m just guessing, like people do about “the law of large numbers”.
Queueing while maintaining a safe distance from other humans is awkward – people just think you’re standing there.
I’ve been feeling a bit out of sorts. It’s reassuring to see other veteran from-home workers report that they, too, have been unproductive recently. There is some pandemic related public transport information work to do – this blog post from TransportAPI mentions some efforts I ought to duplicate – but I’ve not done much.
I haven’t touched Supermarket Market, and now supermarkets’ grocery delivery websites are being hugged to death it seems wrong to be further adding to the load by scraping them for prices.
Remember I moved house last week. I’ve some plants now, and have set up all the direct debits, and some kind of broadband (which I might write a whole blog post about). I “need” to buy a vacuum cleaner, a bicycle, a potato masher and a cheese grater, but going out for such inessential items feels increasingly like the wrong thing to do. Maybe some bicycle, potato masher etc shops are still open, but maybe they shouldn’t be.
Started to watch Spooks. One of the people in it is Tom from Succession, who is also called Tom in Spooks. Also, a Sontaran looking guy, and lots of other familiar faces. It’s preposterous, and that’s OK.
The last time this happened, a simpler time, I wrote about it here,
which is improbable because I wrote here infrequently then.
As then, I meekly listened to the radio station chosen by the previous patient, but happily it wasn’t Radio 2 this time.
And I apologised for my hard-to-find veins, and breathed in and out and held my breath as instructed, and the whole thing took at least two hours – not, I hope, slowed down by my poor breathing skills or anything like that.
Anyway, good fortune to get that done before the imminent sort of DoS of the health service.
Sold some old consumer electronics products. One to Handtec – very impressed by how quickly they worked and paid me – and one to musicMagpie, who used some alarming language to denigrate my old iPad, such that I wonder if something nasty happened in transit. Cool story.
There is a balcony, and I am a cheap date, easily impressed by a balcony. It partly overlooks a football stadium, and the precise timing of the current health situation means I’ve some time to wait to experience the novelty of the crowds flocking here and there and making their noises and everything.
It’s a furnished flat, which is fine. I’ve hidden the frightening art provided in a cupboard, and am arranging hole-punched cardboard and double-sided tape to hang my own posters up. Also hid the offensively bad cutlery – I didn’t know I could feel that way about cutlery, but now I do. There’s no accounting for taste.
I actually needed to buy some 🧻. Well, not quite needed – I’ve lots of respect for the European way; water is much cleaner than scratchy paper – but at least guests expect paper, so I walked all the way to Sainsbury’s to get the smallest pack available, not wanting to be mistaken for a stockpiling nincompoop. Cool story.
Some travel and mass gathering type things I’d been looking forward to now hang in jeopardy, woe unto me.
To London, achievement city. That was OK. Went to Slough and Reading as well, but at this point I’m just listing places. Missed a train, which has been a recurring theme in all the previous few weeks I’ve used trains, although I’ve not always deigned to mention it here – but then I was fabulously early for the train home, like a sensible person. Cool story.
The Trip to Greece. It’s not reallyfunny but I watched it all and it was nice to watch what in some ways is a grand Range Rover advert. I have some complaints about the Now TV app, but is this the place for them?
UKPersonalFinance is one of the few things on the internet site Reddit I sometimes look at. Some of the people on it seem to be quite rich, which is nice for them. This week, there was a post about flying business class, which garnered unusually many replies, mostly people banging on about all the flights they do, which was a bit unsettling – like, did an aeroplane write this? It shouldn’t really be surprising – 1% of English flyers did 18% of all the flying in 2018, and other statistics – and it’s not all frequent flyers’ fault that they have to fly so frequently, and that Matt Hancock’s electric aircrafts aren’t yet available.
Well. Thanks to the jet set swines, I learned of the closure of mySupermarket, a supermarket price comparison website. Now, some years ago, I started “Supermarket Market”, a sort of competitor. I stopped it soon afterwards – too much work alongside my then full-time job and other, more successful website – but kept the idea up my sleeve, and only a few months ago registered ispyprices.com, which used to be the domain name of another one-man operated supermarket comparator.
Well. Undaunted by the failures of both the lavishly funded behemoth mySupermarket and the scrappy upstart I Spy Prices, I’ve resurrected Supermarket Market. It would be lying to say I’ve defeated the competition, but maybe that won’t stop me. The timing is unfortunate – I’ve plenty of other work to do – but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Unsurprisingly, some of the supermarkets’ stuff has changed, breaking my stuff, which means lots of the prices there are years out of date at the time of writing. On the other hand, it’s surprising how much still works.
Flatulating in bed at night, I was reminded of my childhood. The farts acted like Proust’s madelines, but rather less effectively – I wasn’t sure if I ever owned up to farting in an art classroom, or was I thinking of someone else? I am sure a woodwork supply teacher bollocked someone for not holding a fart in, which seemed rather unfair. More liberal teachers dealt with these situations by making fun of the perp, which is somehow better – or is it? Cool story.
Nice to attend nor(DEV):con. It’s certainly the best technology conference at this time of year in the Norfolk area. Now there are some pictures of the back of my head on Twitter, which for any self-haircutter helps with identifying tufty bits.
A week in, mostly, North England, which is a completely normal name for that geographical area.
York, where I was all “I remember when this was all fields”, not just about carbuncular new buildings but also about fields that have temporarily become lakes. Some places that one can get to from York, such as Harrogate, with all its wealth, and Ripon, which felt more down-at-heel because it was raining. Then Liverpool, the pool of life.
A needlessly complicated and expensive journey home, but one of the upshots of that was experiencing one of the new excel buses. They look shockingly wonderful – shiny and red outside, pretend wood and real leather inside – but I found the ride uncomfortably firm, and something was rattling noisily. Well, maybe I was unlucky to get a rattly one, and maybe I was unusually jaded.
Did some work, mainly on the train. I’ll probably do some more work next week, not on any trains. Good week.
It continued to be windy, and, unexpectedly, it snowed a bit.
Some men came to extract the bath, shower, tiles, basin, cupboards, peeling paint, etc (I think that’s about the size of it) from our bathroom, and now work is underway to replace them, and insulate the walls too. The bath was cut in half to effect an easier removal, and carted away by a man with what looked from afar like a toothbrush moustache – if he hadn’t been so faraway, I’d’ve congratulated him for his efforts to reclaim that style of facial hair from Richard Herring.
So we’ve been washing in the kitchen – whatever next, standing in the sitting room? – and, unfortunately, I’m not very good at washing with a bowl of water without getting all water on the floor and everywhere.
The weekend. Spent a night in Peterborough, which I used to think was a town not a city, and where a man brought me a poor value breakfast on a tray on his shoulder.1
Then ended the week in York, which I already knew was a city. There via the vestibule of a delayed, overcrowded train, operated by the state owned “operator of last resort”. I had a seat reservation, and plucked up the courage to confront its occupier, who told me seat reservations weren’t being enforced – possibly something to do with the weather-related disruption, possibly an epic lie. Then I found another free seat, but moments later an oldish lady claimed it was hers, and who was I to argue with someone who probably died in the war for all our freedoms. So the vestibule it was. Arrived 29 minutes late (one minute too early for a delay repay claim).
I let my Netflix subscription lapse. I had enjoyed The Stranger, and was starting to continue enjoying Better Call Saul, but time to read some books or something for a bit.
The sort of hotel terrible ponces stay at. Strangely, a 2018 article just happened to appear on Twitter, about how badly Marriott International treats its workers, while making money hand over fist. ↩
Back from Nottingham, a journey beset by some bungling that I did – missed a train, because I walked the wrong way to the station, although it turns out the train was late and I might still have caught it if I’d jogged, although I still needed to find a working machine (among all the broken ones) to retrieve a ticket from. One of the upshots was that, for the next leg of the journey, it was expedient to finally try one of the super new trains which was fine – I sat inexplicably near the central “power” coach, which actually made a bit of a racket (which is to be expected), but it was fine. Cool story.
(Content warning: oral health.) Not sure if I’ve a curry-induced ulcer, or a wisdom tooth coming through (which I suppose would signal that I’ve become wise). Well, it was a bit of a pain for a few days, but it’s really OK now.
Spent some time printing out PDFs and writing on paper and using a scanner, which is definitely the most efficient way to fill in forms. One thing about letting agents is that, I suppose, if you tell them you’re not in a particular rush they’ll prioritise other people who are in a rush, and things will take longer. Which is fine.
Some work. Wrote some automated tests on the train, which feels impressive in at least two ways – the professionalism of automated tests, and the productivity godliness of doing them with the big laptop on the surprisingly adequate fold-out seat-back tray on the East Midlands Railway regional train (I don’t know anything about trains). Also, made some things look better on devices with non-rectangular displays, e.g. the iPhone X landscape mode, which is a thing to do.
It’s been windy (not curry-induced). To give you an idea of how windy it’s been, an empty box of apple pies blew into the garden. Be safe.
Spent some of the week in the East Midlands, and why not.
Saw Stewart Lee’s Tornado/Snowflake.
It looks increasingly like Lee, the large comedian, has simply eaten the other comedians.
Anyway, I recommend it.
Lee said something about fellow comedian Josh Widdecombe,
which reminded me about Widdecombe claiming Argos Extra is a smaller version of an Argos shop,
“the rare definition of ‘extra’”.
(Of course, Argos Extra is a larger version of an Argos shop, exactly as the name suggests.)
A couple of years after reading that blog post, I saw Widdecombe live repeating the lie,
and I’m afraid I was too shocked to yell out to challenge it.
And it was nice to see some of the East Midlands in some detail. Impressed by the cleanliness and efficiency of the Nottingham City Transport buses. Impressed by the stylishness of the Trent Barton buses.