Archive for December, 2011

Kitty videos

26/12/2011

I have also always said that the internet is all about kitten videos.

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Short-term thinking

23/12/2011

Our development also has no metering per apartment.

I wonder how much it would have cost to install individual meters and avoid all of these issues? Idiotic.

Poisoned

22/12/2011

In the last three months, buildings all over Dubai seem to have become infested with automated air fresheners, programmed to spew allergy inducing poison ever few minutes over whoever’s in the room.

Whatever’s inside these things seems to trigger some kind of allergy in me, blocking up my nose and generally making me feel unwell.

I’m sure this is a recent phenomenon – these devices have been in toilets for a while, which I can understand, but I don’t really see why our training room needs to be ‘freshened’ ever two minutes, all day. I don’t remember anything smelling particularly bad before. Someone has clearly sold a job lot of these things to all the cleaning companies.

I predict a futile campaign on my behalf to combat these things wherever I see them.

‘Can you switch this thing off. It smells horrible’.

‘It is an air freshener sir.’

‘I know, but can you turn it off, as the smell makes me feel ill’.

‘It’s the policy sir’.

Bold 9900

13/12/2011

Just as my trusty Bold 9000 was nearing the end of its useful life, three years after first being purchased, Citrix decided to switch us all from Etisalat to Du and give us nice new BlackBerrys or iPhones.

With the Nokia 6310i still holding the prize for ‘best mobile phone ever’, my old Bold 9000 was a close contender. True, I’d had to have its trackball replaced a couple of times and the keyboard was starting to fail, but it was still going strong – after millions of emails, calls, texts, tweets and web pages viewed. It did a great job.

I was tempted to consider getting an iPhone as a replacement – more fun and more apps and more multimedia, but after talking to various people, I decided that another BlackBerry was the best way forward, considering the amount of typing I do on the phone whilst on the road. On top of that, the BlackBerry means effectively unlimited data whilst roaming, which saves the company money.

So, I choose the latest Bold.

It’s brilliant. Well on its way to be pipping its older cousin to the post of second best mobile phone ever – nothing can quite ever shift the 6310i from its perch.

The Bold has a great mix of keyboard and touchscreen, so I can finally join the ranks of iPhone users and revel in the pleasure of browsing back and forth through photos and the like with a swift stroke of a finger. The mix works well – I find myself intuitively using the touchscreen as well as the new non-mechanical trackpad.

The keyboard is excellent – very responsive and easy to use, even for big thumbed oafs like me.

The phone looks good – I like the brushed steel.

Battery life is ok once you switch off unnecessary services.

My only complaints would be that it’s easy to accidentally hit the touchscreen when clicking on the ‘dial’ key. This means that instead of redialling the last person you called, you tend to end up dialling whoever’ s number is at the bottom of the screen, usually without realising it. This is probably just me being incompetent, but it’s easy to do. The smooth back of the phone makes it a bit harder to grip than the older Bold.

Newer features, for me at least, are an updated browser, YouTube and a choice of third party apps via the BlackBerry App World store. I have had trouble getting Google Maps to install properly, which has been annoying – I need to check the forums and see what’s going wrong.

All in all, I love the phone. It’s a great update, a real leap forward and destined to be my weapon of choice for bombarding people with those emails, calls, texts, tweets and BBMs for at least the next two years.

Delicious hot sauce

11/12/2011

It baffles me that something like this can get through the system – don’t people even use the spellchecker?

Long may this lackadaisical attitude to proof reading continue though. Hours of fun.

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Stephen Fry hits the nail on the head

07/12/2011

I love Stephen Fry’s comments on the BBC’s ‘regionalism’. I think he hits the nail on the head when it comes to the idiotic move to Salford.

“I believe every great country should have a great capital. Naturally, a metropolis will absorb plenty of resentment and bitterness from the provinces, that’s as true of London as it is of Paris and Rome, Washington, Moscow and Madrid. But as a provincial boy growing up in Norfolk, I dreamt of London almost every night as I tried to fall asleep. Reaching it seemed like an impossible dream. I am tired of having to apologise for it. It is one of the wonders of the world. I love Norfolk no less, nor Yorkshire nor Gloucestershire nor Burnley. But hell, what a city London is.

This is a Britain where metro-hatred and provincial arse-licking has led to such fatuous absurdities as the farcical moving of the entire BBC sports department to Salford months before the Olympic Games come to London. Read that back twice and forbear to weep, groan, roar or wet yourself laughing.

Where does one begin with the BBC’s “regionalism”? They destroy local radio but move to Salford to “appease” the North. As if “the North” is one place! Do they think the citizens of Sunderland and Leeds are cheering because there’s a new BBC media centre in Salford? I should think even Mancunians are pissed off by it, let alone Geordies or Lakelanders. In-f******-sane. But don’t get me started. Oh – you did.”

The BBC’s move to Salford is so totally idiotic. A political move dreamt up in a meeting room by people with no attachment to reality or practicality, none of whom have probably been affected by the move and are currently happily residing in London still.

Dust = Dubai is building again

07/12/2011

Last year, for the first time in ages, my balcony ‘office’ was a pleasant, dust free environment in/on which to work during the winter.

Now we’re surrounded by construction again and my laptop is noticeably dirty after just a few minutes.

Both the developer and third-party companies are building more and more towers around us, prompting the usual Dubai questions –

– Who is going to live there?

– How will the road system handle all these new residents?

– Where will people park?

– Why build more buildings here when there is so much space elsewhere?

– How this will affect the rental price of the apartment I have bought (and which was bought when no mention of any of these new buildings was being made, anywhere.)

From an aesthetic point of view, the usual Dubai mishmash of styles means the area’s distinctive look is being diluted and spoiled.

Here are the ‘weeds’ poking into view.

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Yes, I knew this sort of thing was inevitable. But I didn’t think that we’d have a bright white tower being built literally metres from the carefully designed matching curve of the Views, or a weird square thing that’s covered in bright blue lights being built metres away from South Ridge.

Forget about my whinges about ugly buildings and a lack of parking spaces – is it really good business to build like this?

I can’t help thinking that keeping areas aesthetically pleasing and less overcrowded simply means better margins for everyone – the nicer the place, the more likely people want to live there, so the better return on investment. Crowding so much rubbish into one space just makes no sense, especially when there is so much land available elsewhere. But what do I know? Clearly very little on this topic.

Maladies

05/12/2011

This article made me chuckle.

When I spent a year living in Germany in 1996, I was always surprised at the number of ailments my German colleagues had. Similar to the Italians in the article, there were all sorts of new maladies I was at risk from – afflictions and hidden dangers I had never known anyone in the UK to worry about.

The main culprit always seemed to be the weather. ‘Es liegt am Wetter’ (it’s due to the weather) was the constant explanation for a myriad of problems, from aching joints to general malaise.

I once had an unusual headache for a few days, something I’d never had at home before, so I went to the doctor for the first time in years. To my astonishment, he told me that the weather was to blame and gave me some tablets. After taking one of the tablets, which I had assumed to be some kind of pain killer, my headache disappeared instantly and I spent an oddly blissed out afternoon, free from pain and free from a number of other worries that had been bothering me.

On closer reading of the packet, it turned out that I hadn’t been given a pain killer but some kind of valium type medication that helped relax muscles, as well as the worries of the world. I threw the rest of the packet away and adjusted my pillows, which helped get read of the headaches. The weather stayed the same for a while and didn’t seem to cause the headaches to come back.

Another constant culprit for illness was people’s circulation. ‘Aah, Kreislauf’. I had never heard of anyone back in the UK having circulation problems, especially not healthy adults and young people. Apparently this was something that affected my new German friends and colleagues greatly. The main solution appeared to be having a glass of Sekt with breakfast. Driving to work after drinking didn’t seem to be a worry.

I found the Germans to be much more aware of their general health. They also seemed to have a much healthier lifestyle – lots of cycling and walking, fresh food, etc. People generally looked slimmer and stronger. Kids cycled to school in all weathers. Despite this, everyone seemed to be ill more often, or at least claimed to be.

What astonished me was the number of people who smoked, especially ‘educated’ people. It was rare in the UK to see professionals smoking at that time. I found it bizarre to be lectured by, for example, a biology teacher, on the merits of some herbal remedy or other, when that teacher smoked forty Marlboro a day and was a regular drinker. It wasn’t unusual for doctors to smoke. The father of one of my friends smoked filterless Rothhaendle in his office at his local medical practice.

The health resources people got for free also astonished me. Civil servants seemed to have spa visits every year or so, paid for by the government. It was actually in employees’ interests to develop various vague and hard to diagnose problems, such as backache, so that the government would pay for a nice free holiday to a spa in the Bavarian mountains ever couple of years. I couldn’t believe it. How this was all paid for was a mystery to me.

I spent a pretty healthy year as a language assistant and was able to avoid the dangers of the weather, circulation problems, thankfully.

The best gambling game ever

04/12/2011

I am not a gambling man, but this game really sounds exciting. Expect to see it being played by James Bond in the next film.