UPS do SMS chat lines now…

So I’m waiting for a parcel to arrive. I’ve got a tracking number and UPS even knows it exists.

They have a handy option to send updates via SMS. It isn’t supported in the UK though, even though there’s a drop down to choose a UK mobile number.


Seems good so far. Type number in, press button. Even a way to opt out of future spam.


Oh, OK so I need to opt in, fair enough… 69877 you say?


Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Abort. Abort. Abort. Burn phone. Change number.

Maybe UPS need to test this system in the UK more.

Damit IT, stop being pretend-ironic


So I had to get a new ISP after my last one was bought by satan telecoms Sky (thanks O2 for going off to pursue 4G mobile data instead of maintaining one of the best British ISPs out there). I chose one that seemed the best, given the current situation. OK so they cost more and I have a pitiful 100Gig bandwidth limit… but at least I get a static IP and am generally left alone to do what I like online.

Unless it’s 6pm on a Friday or – as seems to currently be the case – 9pm on a Tuesday. In which case it’s like the bad old days of modems and bad phonelines. For those of you that don’t understand… when I was with Be Internet I was on an exchange with LLU. This meant my Internet traffic flowed down other cabling separate from the regular ADSL service most ISPs in this country use.

Imagine your own private motorway with no speed limits and barely any other traffic. It was like that. All the time. You could drive at 12Mb/Sec for 24H and gobble as much data as you liked and nobody cared. Clock up 200 gig in a month? Well done. It was, to put it simply amazingly good.

At this point I decided maybe living in a shed again in the Lake District would be a good move.
At this point I decided maybe living in a shed again in the Lake District would be a good move.

Now imagine the middle of town in rush hour, and you’ve got one of those cars that is only insured during daylight hours. That’s what my new Internet experience is like now that I’m back on regular smelly BT managed ADSL2+. I actually think I could use IP-over-avian-carrier and it’d be faster than my connection sometimes.

I was going to have a moan about this on Google+, but while typing it out my Internet died. Then Chrome died and wouldn’t come back again. Chrome had died, and so had the Chrome crash handler.

I am now obsessively hoarding data again. Every zipfile or update that comes down the connection gets stashed on my server for future usage. At some point I will buy some large hard drives and a NAS and begin the tedium of archiving my Steam collection so that I can reinstall that without having to download about 400 gig (most of which will be Team Fortress 2 updates and spare DoTa 2 invites 😉 )

No, I won’t be buying a modern console, I don’t want to download 10 gig games if I’m limited to 100 gig per month. I like retro stuff and all, but having to meter out my Internet is a bit too retro for my liking.

I’m Be-ing invaded from the Sky

Oh bugger.

Hello james,

As you may well know, we’ve now bought O2 and BE home broadband and home phone businesses, and we’re really excited to welcome you to Sky.

We’ll be bringing your services over to Sky’s network starting later this year. Until then, you’ll continue to get exactly the same home broadband and phone service (if you have it with O2 or BE) as you do now. Right now, you don’t need to do a thing.

If you have any questions, you can find more information and details on how to contact Sky here

We’ll shortly be sending you a welcome pack in the post, which will explain what’s happening in more detail. But for now we just wanted to say hello.

Kind Regards,
Sky Home Communications Team

[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]we’re really excited to welcome you to Sky[/pullquote] I’ve known about this for a few months now and have done a bit of research. My choices seem limited to either giving some major TV & Telecoms company my money in exchange for “Unlimited” Internet but congested, proxied connections that don’t let me have a static IP address, or a small independent company who imposes bandwidth limits on me, but otherwise leaves me a lone.

Surely there’s a way to buy “real” Internet from someone without having to pay hundreds of pounds per month doing so? We don’t have fibre in our street, but I bet in 10 years time when we do I’ll be able to buy wholesale fibre off some reseller. I mean, 10 years ago I had a 2Mbit ADSL connection that had severe problems at 5pm and other people used to handle my mail and web services. Now I have a 12Mbit ADSL connection and receive incoming HTTP and SMTP.

Efflorescence in our cellar

Since moving in I’ve noticed a strange white fur growing on the walls and floor of the cellar. Originally I just figured it was mould caused by the damp in the cellar and ignored it, but yesterday I went into the cellar and noticed it’d grown all over the solid stone table that’s down there. It wasn’t on it the day before, somehow it’d just magically sprung up overnight.

Having lived in mouldy houses before, I’ve never encountered the stuff just appearing overnight. A bit of Googling told me that it was something called efflorescence, a deposit of minerals and salts that leech out of stone and masonry that is damp. It makes sense I suppose, brickwork can’t go mouldy it grows slime and moss instead.




British Paper-shuffling gone mad

To rent a van I need to provide the following

  • Driving licence (this makes sense)
  • Proof of my address (fair enough)
  • A credit card to take the deposit (if you insist)

The proof of address must be two documents, a mixture of a bank statement and a utility bill with my address on.

To rent a new house I need to provide the following

  • Photo ID (I suppose this makes sense)
  • Proof of address that cannot be a credit card statement

(This is in addition to the lengthy credit and background check they did a month ago)

Yes… to move into a new house I need to prove where I live. Or I need to prove where I just moved out of, which also makes no sense – “Hey look! I don’t live here any more and I have paperwork to prove it”. I might just wave the tenancy agreement at them and point out “you posted this to me, I have it. I think you’re probably talking to the right person”.

Madness. Especially when I went to print a gas bill and it had my old, old address from three years ago on it which caused five minutes of hold music and a confused man on the phone.

To get a resident’s parking permit so that my car doesn’t get a ticket I need to provide the following

  • Car details
  • Proof of address

Again, this makes sense… except what do I do with my car when I’ve just moved in and haven’t had time to fill in forms, post them off, wait for them to be processed and then wait for the sticker to be posted back to me. Or the rental van…

At least the woman sorting out my home insurance was more helpful and made sense.