karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
I don't really want to continue with British Gas Homecare as British Gas, as a company, have irritated me enormously over the past year. The cost of what they propose for the next year "Homecare 200 Flexi" is £150. This includes an annual service.

Google has led me to Homeserve and I like the look of Easy Pay Gas Central Heating Cover. I know there is no cover for the first 28 days of the policy. It will cost £86.30 for the year. [The cost for the alternative product including an annual service is £153.42]

My boiler is at least 19 years old, if not closer to 29 years old. It would be eligible for the £400 government grant for replacing it, but that isn't something I want to do right now.

Given the age of the boiler, am I right in thinking that I should probably find insurance cover/a service contract that includes an annual service? [I'm not going to go with Homeserve's product as it's more expensive, but will keep looking].

Does anyone know anything about Homeserve?

Anyone have any other pearls of wisdom regarding heating cover products they want to share?

Edit

AOS are more expensive than British Gas and require someone to come out and see the system before you can apply for cover.
Domestic and General won't cover my boiler as it's a conventional boiler over 15 years old.
EON won't cover my postcode
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
If you are in the UK and didn't register to vote during the annual canvas in October 2009, you should register to vote soon, as there must be a general election on or before 3rd June 2010. The deadline for registering will be 11 working days before the election and it's possible that an election could be called at short notice (rather than May, which is when I would expect it to be called).

Also, if you are in England and Wales, some counties have opened library registration to people who don't live within the area but live elsewhere within England and Wales - Westminster (has a number of reference/special interest libraries), Southwark, Oxfordshire and Cambridgeshire (to those in neighbouring counties, not all of England and Wales).
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
Please see post immediately below this for an explanation:

[Poll #1512423]
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
I know other people have tried to do similar things to this in the past and not got very far because comment conversations are still very LJ centric, but I'm going to give it a try. What I'm trying to work out is who I can stop reading on LJ and read on DW instead. I still don't have any intention of not reading LJ any more, but I want to try to move over to reading more stuff on DW. For the purposes of the poll I'm assuming people are using the same usernames on both sites - I know that's not true, hence why there's a second poll. Very unusually for me, I am screening all comments to this entry to allow people to tell me about what they're doing with any other accounts/anything else they're happy to tell me but not the whole world. I will unscreen comments on request.

Oh dear, the first poll isn't working. Will have to create it again in a separate post.

[Poll #1512418]

Links to the DW polls below. I don't care which poll you complete.



karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
I know other people have tried to do similar things to this in the past and not got very far because comment conversations are still very LJ centric, but I'm going to give it a try. What I'm trying to work out is who I can stop reading on LJ and read on DW instead. I still don't have any intention of not reading LJ any more, but I want to try to move over to reading more stuff on DW. For the purposes of the poll I'm assuming people are using the same usernames on both sites - I know that's not true, hence why there's a second poll. Very unusually for me, I am screening all comments to this entry to allow people to tell me about what they're doing with any other accounts/anything else they're happy to tell me but not the whole world. I will unscreen comments on request.

Poll #2102 DW + LJ usage
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 21


From the account/username I'm answering this poll from I

View Answers

post the same content to DW + LJ
11 (52.4%)

post different content to DW + LJ
2 (9.5%)

only post to LJ
5 (23.8%)

only post to DW
1 (4.8%)

do something else
2 (9.5%)



Poll #2103 DW + other usernames
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: Just the Poll Creator, participants: 0

I have a different user name on DW. It is:

I have a separate blog/website you should know about. It is:

Mapping

Jan. 10th, 2010 03:20 pm
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
I didn't know about Elgin till Friday - it's the electronic local government information network and fascinating, if you're into this kind of thing - some LAs show gritting routes, others bus stops and nearly all show roadworks on a much more local level than I've seen elsewhere.
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
The reporting of this story on the BBC Radio 4 1pm news today (no transcript available) is worse than the webpage itself. The obesity experts (from the Obesity Forum) are explicitly saying 'we don't care what the science says' - they're not saying 'we're not sure if the study was conducted properly and we need some more evidence to be certain', but are openly, (and indeed without adequate challenge from the journalists), wanting to willfully ignore recommendations that are coming from scientists, because of the 'obesity epidemic'.

It's 2009, research looking again at recommended calorie intake that was done in 1991 is now 18 years old, so it probably is time to look at it again with the benefit of new developments/research techniques/knowledge gained in the past 18 years. The report is from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition - that's a link to a summary of the findings. The report itself.

It's entirely possible to consider, on the balance of the evidence, that obesity is bad and wrong and evil (or simply to consider as many do that being a 'normal' weight is healthy and being an 'abnormal' weight is unhealthy) and still be opposed to the mangaling of science like this - namely, wanting to suppress and ignore the research stating that the recommended calorie intake should be increased by 16% from the 1991 recommendations.

I'm quite surprised at the lack of critical challenge by the BBC journalists - I expect better of Radio 4, because the point being made is so clearly wrong. I'm also quite pleased at the huge hole the Obesity Forum is digging for itself. It's (in this instance, leaving aside generalised fatphobia) leaving itself so open for attack, it should be child's play to shoot it down. Though that said, the SACN summary findings are clearly written against a background of DangerDangerObesity, so they perhaps aren't all that confident in their own recommendations cf:

Revised reference values should not be interpreted to mean that individuals or groups should increase their energy intake. Energy expenditure needs to increase in relation to energy intake from food to reduce the number of overweight and obese people.

I do actually agree with the point that a change in the reference values shouldn't lead to people concluding they automatically now require an extra slice of bread or portion of chips. On the other hand, one has to wonder at the culture where grown ups would rather trust a government recommendation about how many calories they need to consume rather than their own body's signals of hunger. And their second sentence is a linguistic nightmare. We go from the individual to the national without proper thought. Even if it is accepted that reducing the number of overweight and obese people is a good public policy goal, it makes no sense to jump from recommending increased exercise in relation to food intake - which is an individual recommendation to the effect this would have on the total numbers of people classed as overweight and obese without linking the two things together and considering the other complex social factors involved.

SACN fully endorses current recommendations on physical activity that adults should participate in at least 30 minutes of activity of moderate intensity on five or more days a week, while children and young people should aim for 60 minutes every day.

And the expertise of SACN to endorse that recommendation comes from where? It's an advisory committee on nutrition, not an advisory committee with expertise in appropriate exercise levels. It's not recommendation different reference values for people who have particular high energy expenditure eg. Olympic swimmers, coal miners, breast feeding mothers, people recovering from surgery etc. It's toeing the party line, despite its evident lack of expert knowledge to make such an endorsement.
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
On Friday I finally received my Law Society Membership card, having been waiting for it since July 2008. It doesn't really entitle me to anything I couldn't have got in other ways (use of the Law Society's library in Chancery Lane/some discounts the Law Society has negotiated with companies) but it's nice to finally have it.

Television

Oct. 12th, 2009 04:55 pm
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
In more important news, over the weekend, I've lost reception for Channel 4, so I now have BBC1, BBC2 and ITV and that's it:-( I've tried searching through the whole spectrum and can't find Channel 4 at all (apart from something very blury at about the place it always used to be). I don't imagine there's anything else I can do to get it back? I'm already using an aerial booster. [Freeview doesn't work, I have the wrong sort of aerial and the aerial company couldn't fit me one that would work because the sugar beet factory is the way, I'm intending to set up Freesat at some point in the future (once the satellite decoder boxes are cheaper), so I'm after a temporary solution]

Bisexual

Oct. 12th, 2009 04:26 pm
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
As a general rule, I try to avoid backing myself into corners and leave myself plenty of room for manoeuvre, as I know I don't always have all the information I need to be certain about things. On an intellectual level, I'd always been willing to accept that I might like women as well as men - it's the kind of thing that's quite clearly possible and it wasn't something I was willing to rule out happening at some point. In many ways it's like my agnosticism. I don't think there is a God/Gods/$other supreme beings, but I'm not sufficiently certain in my belief to be convinced that there isn't. Maybe there is some form of supreme being or other supernatural forces at work in the world? I'm not prepared to do more than believe that we cannot prove the existence of such a being/beings. For a while I described myself as 90% straight for this reason; I didn't think it very likely I'd be attracted to a woman, but accepted it was possible it might happen. And then something along those lines did happen as I'm going to post this very publicly indeed this isn't the place for more detail. So yes, I'm attracted to some women and some men and I identify as bisexual as this is a useful way of describing how attraction isn't gender dependent for me.

National Coming Out Day: I'm Bisexual!

karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
How many layers of clothing is it reasonable to be wearing before deciding its cold enough to put the heating on?
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
I have an EeePC 900 running its original operating system and a Vodafone mobile broadband PAYG dongle K3565 made by HUAWEI.

To make the Vodafone mobile thing work I ended up doing the following:

1. Restoring the EeePC to its factory settings (press F9 while its booting, then you get a menu allowing you tell it to restore factory settings). I'm fairly certain my Eee PC hadn't been properly shut down at some point in the past. The discussion there seems to indicate that this is the way to fix this sort of problem.

2. Opening a terminal window (ctrl + alt + t) and then opening synaptic (software that deals with installing updates/new software) as per the Betavine instructions 'sudo /usr/sbin/synaptic'

3. Reloading the existing repositories [press the reload button] and installing all the upgrades as recommended [press the 'mark all upgrades' button, then the 'apply' button].

4. Then continuing to follow the Betavine instructions, by adding in their repository and installing their specific bits of software.

5. Open the Vodafone connect software while the dongle is in the USB slot. It connected quite happily. The 'email' and 'internet' buttons within the software both open Firefox.

6. Put dongle into USB slot on PC running Windows Vista, install Vodafone's connect software for Windows machines. Connect to the internet using Vodafone mobile thing, discover the telephone number of the SIM card in the dongle (text messages can be sent to it, but not from it (I think because it's a PAYG thing and this is a limitation imposed by Vodafone rather than a technical limitation).

7. Register that telephone number on the Vodafone website, so that I can top it up when I run out of credit.
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
Came home this evening intending to watch a DVD and found that the DVD remote control wasn't working (though it was working perfectly well yesterday). I have tried:

1. Replacing the batteries - it now has batteries that I know to be good in it
2. Unplugging + replugging in the DVD player

The remote doesn't seem to be giving off any infrared signal (I can't see a red light where one normally appears). The DVD player works when using the controls on the box itself.

What really obvious thing am I missing/have I forgotten to check?

Am I better (1) buying a universal remote that does DVD players from Argos or (2) buying a replacement RC2K16 (model no. of remote) from the internet? [Never watching DVDs again isn't an option, there aren't enough options on the front of the DVD player to make using it without a remote really viable, replacement remotes are cheaper than replacement DVD players]
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
I could do with a PAYG mobile broadband thingy to use with my Eee PC, and this offer from Vodaphone looks reasonable, but says it only works on Windows machines. Does anyone know whether it would work with a linux based Eee PC and if not any alternative PAYG mobile broadband deals that do work with Eee PCs?
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
I have received the following by way of electoral communications

Trevor Beckwith, Independent × 2 [only standing in the County Council election]

BNP
Conservative × 3
Green
Labour × 2
Liberal Democrat
Libertas.eu
UKFP (United Kington First Party)
UKIP

[a number of other parties have put up candidates for the Eastern Region, but haven't sent me any publicity]

I shall be voting for Trevor Beckwith for Suffolk County Council and Liberal Democrat for the European Parliament.

Birthday

May. 22nd, 2009 03:23 pm
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
I'm now 28, which feels close to 30 and I suppose these days I've got much more in common with people in their thirties than people just turning 20 who tend to be still undergrads at uni/in very junior work roles. [insert enough 'approximatelys' and 'in generals' for the above sentence to work for you].

Thank you for all the birthday wishes.

I'm having a day off work, most of the morning has been taking up complaining at British Gas and sorting out some building work. Time to do nice things now.
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
Pandemic influenza is something that happens at regular intervals, we are overdue for a pandemic and have been for a number of years (the last one was 1968, before that there was one in 1957 and one in 1918). Whether the current swine 'flu is what becomes a pandemic remains to be seen - we still haven't got enough evidence yet. It might be the one, or it might be some other strain of avian or swine or other 'flu in a number of years time.

It's quite difficult to predict exactly what the effects of a pandemic will be. There are places on the internet where people are talking about stockpiling enough to isolate themselves from the world for six months or so as an appropriate pandemic-preparedness strategy. I don't think the effects will be so severe as to cause a breakdown of law and order or that the appropriate response is to isolate onself for six months or that the cost/benefit analysis of preparing to have six months worth of stuff stockpiled works in one's favour.

A lot of what's out on the internet about pandemic preparedness is premised on the idea that people don't live alone and this is not particularly useful for me and in general isn't very good as there are a relatively high propotion of people living alone than there would have been in previous pandemics. So what I'm going to talk about here is pandemic preparedness for those of us who live alone - specifically how it's different from that which applies to people who don't live alone.

Read more... )
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
I have had a number of requests for Dreamwidth invite codes from people who (so far as I can tell) I've never spoken to or interacted with in any way before. I'm not annoyed with people for asking, as (1) generally asking questions isn't wrong and (2) at no point (until now) did I ever say 'only people who already know me', but I have decided that for the next period of time, until Dreamwidth beds itself down within my various social circles, I want to keep invite codes for friends/acquaintances/friends-of-friends. I currently have two invite codes. I am intending a relatively low barrier of 'know me' ie. have LJ account I may have seen commenting on other people's journals/have left me LJ comments etc rather than anything stronger but basically not anonymous/people I've never heard of before.

Dreamwidth have convincing reasons for the decision to use invite codes as a means to control site growth, however, the invite-or-pay-$3-to-get-an-account thing is something that is reminiscient of occasions when I've been the one excluded from a social group. Here I feel like I'm on the wrong side of the equation - I'm welcome here and other people are being sort-of-excluded* and while I accept the geek social fallacy that excluding people isn't always wrong, I think there's a way to go before the site will have grown enough that there will usually be people about with invite codes and most people will know someone able to invite them. For that reason, I do feel somewhat uneasy with deciding to prioritise friends/acquaintances over strangers, because I think getting people here who wouldn't otherwise be invited is a good thing. On the other hand, I don't think deciding to prioritise friends/acquaintances is illogical or in and of itself a bad thing. Of course my primary loyalty is to people I already know.

I will stop in passing to mention [site community profile] dw_codesharing where people with spare invite codes are offering them and there's a place for people who want invite codes to ask for them.

*I say sort-of-excluded because there's a social difference between a friend saying 'hi, come and join me doing x' and 'I'm doing x, if you pay $3, or go and comment in [site community profile] dw_codesharing you can come and do it too' - the access is there, but the social aspect of being explicitly invited to join in and welcomed isn't. [another note in passing - $3 probably is a barrier to entry for some people]. For people who have experienced a lot of exclusion in other settings, the internet is often a place where they find themselves usually welcomed and further experiences of being left out are unlikely to go down well, whether intended in this fashion or not.
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
[am testing something, but was intending to make a post with approximately this content anyway]

I seem to be getting a crush on someone online again. I don't like it when this happens and still don't really know how to deal with it, except wait for it to go away, which takes ages. Anyone got any thoughts/comments/ideas they want to share?
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
I don't currently have any more invite codes for Dreamwidth. I'll let you know if/when I have more. In the meantime, try asking people who've recently created an account in a few days time, as they're likely to be issued with invite codes in due course. Or go and have a look at [site community profile] dw_codesharing/Dreamwidth codesharing.

[personal profile] reddragdiva/[livejournal.com profile] reddragdiva twittered earlier about No Script; an add on Firefox users can install to prevent websites running scripts without explicit permission. It seems that previously useful software is now being exploited for advertising gains:-( I don't currently have it installed and won't be installing it again until someone more technically competent than me tells me it's useful again or points me at an alternative.

I've just been through my Dreamwidth access list removing a lot of Open ID accounts. When I imported my friends' list from LiveJournal, something was broken and all of the communities and feeds I had on my LiveJournal friends list were given Open IDs. I intended to just remove those accounts, if I've removed you, it's from accidentally clicking the wrong box in scanning down a very long list.
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
I now have five Dreamwidth invite codes, who would like one? (I have one person who has already asked me). I need an email address to send the code to, please email me karen@wonderfuldreams.me.uk if you don't want to leave your email adderss in a public post.
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
Am thinking about setting up Google Analytics for this journal [ie. the one on Dreamwidth] 'cos it's a new feature to play with.

Is Google Analytics evil?

Anyone have any objections to me doing this, or any other comments?

IRC

Apr. 21st, 2009 11:52 am
karen2205: Swirly purple-y to pale pink clouds, with Dream written in the Dreamwidth style beneath (dreams)
One of the really good things for me about Dreamwidth over the past few days has been finding #dw - the main IRC channel for Dreamwidth. It's full of some people I used to spend time on IRC with in #lj_support some time ago a couple of others I sort of know from various places and other people I don't know (yet). And it's lovely, some of what's lovely about it is down to the people and maturity and conversations that are possible when you've got a channel full of respectful people who are good at communicating in text based media.

But beyond that I'd forgotten how much I like IRC as a communication medium. I can wander in and out of conversations without feeling like I'm desserting someone I'm talking to 1:1 and I get a sense of 'yay, people to be social with' without perceiving that I'm demanding attention inappropriately from people who are busy.

I wish more of my friends used it. And I wish I had the technical skill to set up and run an IRC server so I could offer somewhere for people I know to come and create their own channels.

Dreamwidth

Apr. 19th, 2009 11:14 pm
karen2205: (dreaming)
I've spent much of the weekend playing around with Dreamwidth, after a friend gave me an invite code on Friday and I am very impressed indeed with what I've seen so far. My journal. I never squee - it's just not how I respond to things, but with this project I've been sitting in IRC watching the conversation and finding myself really wanting to offer to help them out with something. I'm excited about it. I can see it working well and I'm now a little bit apprehensive that having got myself so excited about it, it might not work out the way I think it will.

I'd have signed up for a Dreamwidth account without much persuasion anyway, on the basis of it being new and shiny and wanting to know what it does to see if I like it and because one of the people running it is [livejournal.com profile] rahaeli who was in charge of LJ Support when I did some volunteering there and I trust that she knows what she's doing. What I didn't expect was to find myself pulled towards it so strongly, so quickly.

Dreamwidth is a code fork from LJ - they've taken the LJ code and modified bits of it to make it better and fix annoying things. One of the key changes is splitting what LJ calls 'friends' into 'subscriptions' (journals you read) and 'access list' (journals who can read your protected entries). Conceptually I think this is better - you can want to read without allowing someone access to protected entries and want to allow people access to protected entries without wanting to read what they post. As a matter of social engineering I'm not sure how Dreamwidth will develop a culture around subscribing/granting access and desubscribing/removing access - I'd bet a small quantity of money that within certain subsections of Dreamwidth users there will still be drama associated with desubscribing/removing access, because people are people and some people will be upset that others don't want to read their entries/allow them access to their posts.

They've removed the nudge feature LJ introduced and all ad support from the code:-)

They've created an 'importer' so you can easily import journals from LJ & IJ and are working on a cross poster (so you can post to Dreamwidth and LJ at the same time).

Once the cross poster is working I will probably start cross posting entries for a while and see what happens. I plan on using LJ and Dreamwidth in parallel, with each friends page having its own tab in Firefox.

If you have an OpenID account and you have set and validated an email address on Dreamwidth you will get an invite code when it goes into open beta on 30th April. Until then, they're sending out a certain number of invite codes to OpenID accounts each day, as they try to build up the site usage between now and 30th April.
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
I hadn't read Dreamwidth's diversity statement till now and wow, I like it.

I like the commitment and the vision, but more I like the recognition that in the real world, things still go wrong and the commitment to putting things right when they do go wrong. I like that it's been written by people who are good writers (and that's separate from also liking what I assume to be a very deliberate choice of tone and style).

It reminds me very much of Innocent, except a bit more grown up in presentation to users/customers.

Cynically, I wonder how long it'll be before (if it hasn't already happened) companies try to replicate this sort of style of communication with apparent openness about their business practices, without any real commitment to actually being open about business practices or intention to alter practices in response to the feedback they receive.

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