Tuesday, January 27, 2009

better than running for the train

The last photo of the day is this slightly poor quality one which I took whilst having breakfast this morning.  It was all rather leisurely and certainly much more pleasant than running along in the rain in hope of catching a train.  Of course, the downside is that I had to go without a copy of the Metro, but you can't have everything.

It's a long way to fall from these dizzy heights, and by contrast dinner this evening consisted of a Pot Noodle in a make-shift office.  Very nice it was too.

Gong He Xin Xi!

If you're going to arrive in China for the first time, New Year's Eve is a good time to do so.  Last time I was abroad I missed out on the fireworks, but this more than made up for it.  The attitude to health and safety here is quite refreshing, and there were fireworks being let off everywhere - on pavements, from balconies... I very much enjoyed the display outside the hotel at midnight, and was pleased to have been pelted slightly by shrapnel.  It very much added to the whole experience.

Pu Dong

The number of people who've stood in the same spot and photographed the same skyline must be huge, and you're probably wondering why you wasted your time coming to this part of the Blogosphere when you could have found the same view on Google.  Still, as cityscapes go it's quite striking and an interesting thing to encounter whilst on a sort of jetlag-relieving outing.  Apparently the building which looks like a bottle opener is the second tallest building in the world.  Not that I'm name dropping, or anything.

High Table

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Can you hear me, when there is no sound?

One of the well known disadvantages of text based instant messaging is that some things just don't get conveyed.  Body language is a classic example.


Admittedly, if I am typing on a keyboard I am unlikely to be performing the legendary "swim" but you will still be none the wiser about whether I am waving my hands around animatedly or being a bit more reserved.


Interestingly, however, I discovered in a recent conversation that it is quite possible to convey sound in an entirely text based dialogue.   Things proceeded thus:


- I need to make that "eeeeh" noise that you apparently make

- what eeee noise?!
- ooo
- eeeeh
- i geddit!

- yes, that one!

- the noise i don't actually make

- yes



You may be relieved to know that the context was not in the slightest bit risque, but it is difficult to explain if you don't already know what sound I am talking about.  It would seem that such sound transmission is a bit like encryption using a pre-shared key.


Nonetheless, in theory at least, we can conclude that the answer to the question in the title of this post (as posed by Delirious in their 1999 classic 'Follow') is a resounding yes.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tesco sink to new low

It's been well documented in this Corner of the Blogosphere that I'm not a massive fan of Tesco.  I've had quite a few poor experiences, and as a result, my expectations - especially of their staff - were already quite low.

Today, however, they excelled themselves and if there was a category below Rock Bottom, my expectations of their "customer service" would drop firmly in to it.  I popped in this afternoon and they demonstrated such incompetence that it defies belief.

I was on my way home and thought that I would swing by for a USB charger for my new telephone.  I knew that Tesco sell them and went straight ot the appropriate aisle.  Unfortunately, there were in-car chargers and AC adaptors galore, but no USB chargers.  Undeterred by this I went to the nearby service desk and asked the lady behind the counter if they had any in stock.

"Universal USB phone chargers?" she said, before staring at the computer screen in front of her.  After a while she followed this up with "I'm not sure what to search for."

I told you that this sorry tale defied belief...and what's more worrying is that she was stood behind a sign promoting "friendly advice on all things technical".

Anyway, continuing to get this experience off my chest, I suggested "USB Phone Charger" and she duly tapped away at the keyboard.  I was becoming aware that I had a train to catch and didn't have all day to stand around, but eventually she told me that they had 35 in stock, at £4.97 each.

"...but it says 'Location Unknown'"  she said seconds later.


So I waited whilst she went off to find someone who might be able to help.  Once she'd found someone, she started looking randomly amongst Car Cleaning Products, whilst her colleague went back to the more relevant aisle which I'd already searched myself.  Neither of them had any success, and the new guy wanted clarification on what I wanted.

"I don't think you can charge your phone from a USB port," he tried to tell me, and mumbled something about too much current.  I assured him that you could, and so whilst the first lady continued to look at the products on the shelves he started to quiz me on how much current I thought it drew.

I think that this was his attempt to make it look as though it was me and not him who was clueless.  I feel that if I'd given some sort of figure he'd have taken great pleasure in telling me that I was misguided.

Granted, I don't know how much current a USB phone charger draws, but I did know that if the computer was saying that there were 35 USB phone chargers in stock then such things probably do exist.

I also knew that I had a train to catch...

After the lovely people* at Tesco had dithered for a bit longer we agreed that I might return once they had got a grip on their stock control.  I don't intend to return, of course, and will buy online out of principle.  Besides, coming on top of previous incidents, I feel that the words "grip on stock control" and "fat chance" go well together.

Unfortunately, I had by this point missed my train, and the next one was cancelled, so I feel as though everything has conspired against me this afternoon.

I have, however, had plenty of time to stand in the cold and think, and I'm afraid I'm none the wiser about why such people are employed by Tesco, or alternatively why Tesco seem to have no concept of staff training.  In this "credit crunch" era, they could conceivably save money by not employing some people and it would make no difference at all to the customer.  Equally, I'm amazed that with lots of people looking for jobs they've not found anyone who has a clue. About anything.

You can put the stress ball away now.  I've ranted enough for one day, and will spare you the gory details of my latest train delay.


*I'm being sarcastic, of course.  "Jobsworths" would be more honest.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Papa's got a brand new bag!

Actually, it's more "JP's got a brand new phone (and he's trying it
out)" but I had to inject some soul in to the post somehow.
As that rather obscure Bon Jovi song starts, "James Brown?! If James
were here...it'd be a hit!"

Monday, January 05, 2009

A BBC News story to warm your hearts

As you know, I'm generally quite a fan of the BBC News Page, and I thought that this story was an absolute gem.  If you've not already read it, I promise that it will put a smile on your face.

I'd wear Speedos for you any day

One of the good things about returning to work is the joy of picking up a copy of the Metro each morning from the blue container now so conveniently sited in the waiting room* at the station.

Today I read that Danny Cipriani upset Kelly Brook on a recent holiday they had together.  Apparently he insisted on wearing baggy shorts when she wanted him to wear Speedos.




*Before you wonder if this really is the JP you know and love, rest assured that I've not suddenly developed a habit of arriving at the station in sufficient time to need the waiting room.  Rather, the waiting room forms part of the entrance to the station and the new position of the Metro container here means that I don't have to worry about not having the time to trek along the platform for my copy before I bundle on to the train.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

JP's Cake Corner

I have been going through my photographs over the Christmas/New Year break, and I have found a few skeletons in the closet.  One of my favourites is this photograph of the cake which a friend and I made for someone's birthday whilst we were all at university together:


This was taken just after we'd returned from celebrating the end of someone's exams with a cheeky pint to discover that we'd not done a great job of greasing the tin.  I'd love to say that it was better when we'd glued it back together with apricot jam and iced it, but I'm not so sure.  Perhaps it's good that I don't have any photographic evidence of the finished article.

On the plus side, I don't think I'd laughed so hard in ages.

JP talks rail fare rises

Here we are folks, this is what we've all been waiting for.  The first train related rant of 2009.  Stress balls at the ready...


Obviously, I'm in favour of the rises.  I don't mind paying more for my commute, because the government has shown that it can be prudent with money.  At a time when we should be concerned about the environment it's very wise of them to reduce investment in the railway network.  Besides, the increases have been offset by the fact that the VAT reduction saved me 2p on my cup of coffee at Victoria recently.


It's too early to say for definite whether or not I can actually expect an improvement in the level of service, but in the unlikely event that I begin to find standing up for most of my journey home a bit wearing I will obviously complain to the train operating company concerned; they don't have much of an excuse with our pro-Rail friends in charge at Number 10.  The government, of course, makes it very easy for them to offer the service people want, and their system of targets works very well.  I have to admit that I did get a bit cold on waiting on the station platform earlier today as I watched two fairly empty trains sail through non-stop, but I know that such apparent "cancellations" are for the Greater Good.  I know that the aforementioned trains will have made it to their destination on time, and I look forward to the warm fuzzy feeling I will get when I see the next round of punctuality figures.   It won't be long before Gordon Brown and his chums are hailing the fact that punctuality figures have improved a lot under their reign, and when that day comes I shall look back with pride at the times I endured lengthy delays on a cold platform to make this happen.


As 2009 dawns, it's good to see that caring for people is a thing of the past.  As with the railways, so with the NHS.  Why worry about what things are like for the individual at the bottom of the pile when you can have statistics which look this good?

JP has a lovely bunch of...

...grapes, apparently.  Actually, this is why the aforementioned stress ball is fun.  When you squeeze it, this happens:



JP takes a chill pill

If you are an avid reader and have been keeping up with the comments recently, you will know that Dave advised me to 'take a chill pill'.  He probably isn't the only one to have considered offering such advice, although to be fair this Corner of the Blogosphere does get a disproportionately large amount of my ranting and frustration.  If my only contact with you is through this blog then you probably have a worryingly distorted view of me, but never mind.

Anyway, the point is that my stocking contained a stress ball.  Comme ca:


It's not quite a chill pill, and if this stops me from ranting then there will be even less action here in 2009 than there was last year, but it's fun nonetheless...

Happy New Year!

As I'm about to indulge in a bit of a Blogging spurt, I don't think much else needs to be said here.  I hope and pray that 2009 is a good one.