Archive for February, 2005

U.TV; Why does anyone bother anymore?

U.TV, one of the resellers of Eircom’s DSL service and overall a budget Irish ISP. I’ve been with U.TV since the good old days, back when I was living in Carrigaline and almost bursting with the exciting thought of upgrading my analog phone line to ISDN. The 180 hour’s of dial-up surfing I availed of suited me down to the ground, alas I (along with most of the rest of Ireland) was ignorant as to what DSL could offer.

I’ve also had my U.TV account on direct debit since the very start. Back when they were the first flat rate ISP, sometime after the ill-fated Esat ‘No Limits’ fiasco dumped several hundred users for exceeding limits of some fashion.

When I moved to Douglas, it was of course a kneejerk reaction to get a phone line, get a line test eventually and hopefully get DSL. Which I did. From U.TV. When I moved from the grotty roach motel in Donnybrook Hill to my current abode on the Carrigaline road, of course naturally I stuck with U.TV. Perhaps only because I was tied into a 12 month contract however. Hmm. This is where the long, slippery slope started to show itself. They wanted 300 to move my connection. I offered 150. After several days, they accepted. It took 1 full month for my DSL to be reconnected. My fingernails were no more due to the apprehensive biting I had engaged in over this time.

The speed of U.TV’s DSL offering “Clicksilver” was always touch-and-go. Somedays it’d be fast, other days you might as well be using dialup. This was actually rectified, along with the ping problems gamers on the service had been wailing about since it’s launch. It seemed another problem had to rear it’s ugly head. Things just couldn’t go that smoothly…

Right on cue, they let me down again. Several months in a row. “Your bank has advised us that your account no longer exists” stated one letter boldly. Hmm, would that be the same account I’ve had since transition year in secondary school? The same account that Vodafone and several other companies have absolutely no problem whatsoever extracting money from? It would seem so.

Since about the second half of 2004, U.TV have been plauging me with letters (which always seem to include their standard direct debit application form) stating various phrases about my bank account either being closed, no longer existing, running away with the dish & the spoon or the most recent, no direct debit is setup. How can a company that offers a product not only to the republic of Ireland but to the entire island of Ireland be so incompetant? Were their staff given exclusive training from the same institution that teaches Eircom their techniques? I have sent no fewer than 3 cheques and filled in at least 2 direct debit forms. I should deduct the total bank charges they’ve cost me so far from the next (and final) cheque I have to send them.

I am ever so thankful that my DSL contract expires in April, as I’m sure many others are. I’m not sure which way I’ll go, but if possible I’ll go wireless when I get shot of this pseudo-broadband. At least then I can look forward to getting rid of the phone line altogether and going for one of those new (albeit seemingly unproven) VoIP products.

To anyone on a U.TV trial, think long and hard before you sign up to anything. To anyone who’s U.TV contract is soon to expire, well, I don’t have to tell you anything. I’ll see you on the beach when we all jump ship.

Yet another delightfully hate-filled blog

“Things I hate about my Flatmate”; anonymous spleen venting of the most scathing sort. This blogger proves that writing on controversial subjects brings in the readers time and time again. Some share his views on hygiene, what should or should not be put in the bin, the location of the TV remote and general untidyness. To others he’s just an anal retentive drama queen. I haven’t decided as of yet. One thing I have decided on however; this guy needs to get his own place!

http://ihatemyflatmate.blogspot.com/

Mountains above Glencar Lake


(click for hi-res version)
A mountain side by the Glencar lake, county Leitrim? (either Leitrim or Sligo anyway)

Driving Test Woes 3

The latest in the saga of my simpleton driving tester. After sending a letter of complaint to the supervisor of the Cork testing centre, I today received a response from a different person. The bones of the letter comprises of a statement from my driving tester.

“As applicant approached right turn at Turners Cross Church turning into Curragh Road, the green light was on*. He stopped and the green light remained on for approx 20 seconds after he stopping. He remained stopped until the full green light came on again**.”

Holes in statement pointed out as follows;
* The red light was on as I approached the lights. The green arrow pointing straight ahead only came on a few seconds after I had already stopped.

** Note the term “full green light”. This term was not used in the previous description of the light turning green, possibly due to the fact that it was a filter light pointing straight ahead.

Not exactly the response I had hoped for, although it was the one I had been expecting. The tester hasn’t changed his story as much as I thought he might have, the statement in the letter is rather interesting and will no doubt make a good read for the judge. Yes, next stop: District Court.

Feminist Campaign sees return of 1950′s Ireland

Whilst driving up the country on Wednesday evening, I caught an interesting piece featured on “The Last Word” show on TodayFM. Matt Cooper began a debate on a most controversial subject; at least as far as Ireland is concerned. The debate centered around a new campaign, launched yesterday, named “The Freedom From Pornography Campaign” which, as many things devised by a group of die-hard feminists, makes very little sense.

Their chief (and seemingly only) argument is that pornography is harmful to women who engage in it and is a bad influence to men who watch it. In other words, if I watch porn I’ll turn into a wife beating pseudo rapist whereas if my girlfriend watches it she’ll turn into a victim for no apparent reason. Like many who texted the show during the interview, I find both of those scenarios very hard to believe. Research has proved it to be true however, so I’m obviously mistaken.

Helen Mortimer, a self-confessed feminist (not that I have much against feminists that is) tried aimlessly to reinforce her frankly insane argument for a ban on pornography to Ron Jeremy, a
veteran porn star who joined the show via the telephone. What must anyone who was listening think of Ireland? I was cringing almost all the way through the second half of the show, thinking that this was being broadcast to a nationwide, and indeed worldwide audience via the internet. It’s the year 2005 everywhere but Ireland, where thanks to groups like this, it’ll always be 1950. Ron Jeremy was equally shocked and could not stress enough that it isn’t always women who are ‘the slave’ and remarked that it is now women that own the majority of the big porn companies and make the big bucks.

It’s an absolutely frightening thing to listen to; something which I urge everyone to do. It’s currently listed on the TodayFM Last Word archive and because it’ll eventually disappear from there, I’ve mirrored it here. It’ll open your eyes

Nobel Peace Prize

Nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize have been announced, among the nominees are the Pope and Bono. Yes, because clearly those two people have made an equally significant difference to the world which would merit such an award.

One of the above is God’s right hand man, the other believes he is God. Lets hope the Nobel committe can distinguish the importance of the difference between the two.

Not in Kansas anymore…

Sitting in work. It’s 2pm. “Go to Strabane” rang in my head for a few minutes before I worked out exactly where Strabane is. Half an hour later I was on the road, travelling up the west coast with the aim of avoiding all that snow/sleet/ice that’s plauging the east of the country at present. Limerick, Ennis, Galway, Tuam, Sligo; they all flew past as my eyes got heavier and heavier. Originally the plan was to head for Letterkenny (a bit north of Strabane and in Co. Donegal), primarily because I know of a nice hotel up there where I could balm out and have a nice evening. “Hmmm” I thought to myself in a kind of don’t even think it… kind of way. “What if I drove through Fermanagh and Tyrone instead?” The whole crazy buzz of driving over border into northern Ireland and all that. Yes, I don’t get out much anymore so I have to take my thrills where I can get them. So instead of heading further north to Donegal and Letterkenny, I turned off at Sligo toward Enniskillen. I hadn’t even got as far as Enniskillen when the whole mad buzz of driving in “the UK” wore off. Quickly.

I’m hugely paranoid Ted. I’m also very sheltered, down in my nice comfy existance on the outskirts of Cork city. The police stations up here look like something out of bloody sci-fi horror films. Huge cement walls and more barbed wire than you’d find in the whole of 1960′s Veitnam. The driver up here are out to get me. I’m certain of it. Maybe when they see a car registration from the republic, some of them take an instant disliking to it. I had a couple of serious assholes in the 50/60 miles leading up to Strabane and not one in the 220-something miles in the republic. They don’t like being overtaken. Even when they’re driving at 40mph in front of you.

Got a text from Eoin asking if I fancied a few pints. At that stage I was well over half way up the country so it only made sense to decline. When I said where I was (going to) he said I should do a pub review. Knowing my luck and in-keeping with my current level of paranoia, I’d probably end up strolling into an IRA pub. Then this innocent Catholic lad from the very south of the land would be seen no more. Yes, I’m that paranoid. Suddenly driving back down the country the same way I came doesn’t seem like too much of a wonderful idea. Better to take a jaunt across the border into Donegal and travel down from Letterkenny. At least that way I’ll be back in my own country sooner. I bet that sounds as stupid reading it as it sounded to me in my head. Given that I was born in England and have lived in Ireland for the past 21 or so years, I think they’re both my country.

There’s just something about being north of the border I don’t trust. So, I left Cork at 2:30pm and to my utter disgust, only arrived in Strabane at a bit past 11pm. That’s almost a whole day’s work just driving. But now I’m here, sitting in my adequate hotel room, trying to decide if I want a cup of tea before I go to sleep and happy that when I look at either of my phones, they both say “IRL Vodafone” and “O2 – IRL”. I may not be in Kansas anymore, but at least my phones think they are!

Message of the day has to be “Don’t chase your dreams, you’ll only end up disappointed in the end”. Theres a “Steakhouse” just outside Tuam that I have been passing for the last few years now, always meaning to go in there and have a whopper of a meal. While passing there at around 6:30pm tonight, I decided to bite the several year old bullet and have my dinner in there. Overall, it was a hugely disappointing experience. I had a half bowl of watery vegetable soup for starters. Presumably, by the appearance of the dish when it was served to me, the rest of it had spilled over the edges of the bowl in a vain attempt to escape. Given that I was in a stakehouse, I naturally had to order a steak. Grilled minute steak, chips and salad to be precise. I was expecting something of the magnitude I was served in Clonmel some months previous. An immense oval shaped plate filled beyond the brim with onion rings, salad, chips, onions, mushrooms and topped with the side of a cow. THAT was good eating. This however was the same sized plate, with a spoonful of onions and mushrooms which taste as if they were cooked, nay boiled in water. No taste, all mush. On top of the mush sat a thin, short slice of steak which although sparse was cooked just the way I like it. No pink at all once cut into and ever so slightly burned on the outside. The salad seemed to have joined my half bowl of missing soup in it’s tunnel digging effort, leaving me with only a half cherry tomatoe, about 5 pieces of lettuce, each no larger than one half inch squared. Some tiny pieces of mixed pepper and a hugely economical portion of cucumber. Insult to injury, the chips needed a few more minutes in the deep fat fryer or a few more minutes defrosting. Either way, they were only half cooked inside. 16. I won’t be going there again anyway…

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For the want of a decent chip

It’s becoming increasingly difficult these days to source a decent chip (or bag of same) in the Douglas area. Currently our two options are…

KC’s – Truly a king among chippers; when it’s open. Which isn’t that often. It must be a great life to have, to be able to bow to your own whims and just not go in to work if you don’t want to. Of all the eating establishments I’ve frequented over the years, KC’s has to be the most infuriating by far. I’ve pretty much accepted that if I go down there looking for a cheeseburger before 8pm I might aswell be pissing in the wind. Then they throw a curveball and don’t bother opening at all. “Aha, caught you there Mr. Hungry person! We don’t want to take your money today ‘cos were already filthy rich.” Where’s the loyalty to the customers? The sense of service to the community? The bloody capitalism?!? Most recenly, I passed there tonight just a shade after 9pm, absolutely dying for one of their marvellous cheeseburgers and chips. Closed. They’re just adding greasy fuel to the fire o’ ranting.

Dino’s – That left me with my second place option. Dino’s would be open even if we were hit by a tornado. Godzilla could be strolling through west Douglas village, leaving a trail of gore and destruction in his wake and you’d still be able to waltz into Dino’s and get some chips. That, sadly, is about the entirety of their merit. I used to be quite fond of their cheese, chips & garlic until some months ago I felt if I ate any more of it I’d surely explode with the cholesterol. Their burgers/doorstops need something along the lines of taste and/or more bloody sauce. I’ve seen deserts that have more moisture content than these things. I was left in their reckless hands tonight for my dinner and decided to go with the old reliable cheese, chips & garlic. I must have ordered it the exact same thing from the exact same people no fewer than a dozen times over the last number of months. I wasn’t expecting to get chips, curry and cheese. An unpleasant experience it’s quite fair to say. I’m quite sure Mr. Dino is interested in the idea of a “model UN”. Every time I go in there, there’s at least 4 people from 4 different countries working behind the counter. It can be quite comical to watch them as they try to understand eachothers accents.

To summarise, if KC’s got their bloody act together with opening times and stopped screwing around, Douglas would have a decent chipper. Until such time as that happens… well, you might as well be eating salad!

Hilarity Revisited

Following up on the story of “The $1m tip“, I have recieved a delightful comment from one Sarah Ryan, who just happens to be the trainee teacher the newspaper article was based around.

THIS is Sarah Ryan here- this woz just a joke and ye must be pretty sad and have nothing else to do with yere time then actually read about this!!I woz actually on hols in America when this woz published in the papers, ye are so sad!

A, I’m only too sure that tens of thousands of people have nothing else to do with their time than read the newspaper and cack themselves laughing at your ‘mistake’.
B, It sure was a joke; on you!
C, The fact that you are training to teach the nations youth worries me greatly.

and finally D, I want you to produce a 1,000,000 word essay on Fort Knox and the non-existance of the famed one million dollar bill. Feck sake Sarah, if you google your name after being shown up publicly, you have to expect these things…

I do appreciate when people hand me content on a plate.

The Spongy-brained Kids Club

What the hell is it these days with being a half-assed parent? Maybe half-assed is too generous a term for some of the people around the place who like to refer to themselves proudly as “mum” or “dad”. Quarter-assed would be a step up for some of these people. If you take a look at what’s going on in what I can only presume is every developed country in the world and compare it against some pretty damning research that has been done on the subject, it’d even make a parent who only uses one tenth of their ass stand up and pay attention.

Less of the rambling, more of the sense. I am of course referring to the use of mobile phones by young children. What was it the research said? Under 15 years of age and your’e asking for trouble? Something along those lines. I have to question the sanity of parents and the morals of mobile phone shop owners that are basically paying money so the kids in question have a little lottery chance of developing a brain tumor.

This latest in a series of mindless rants has been lurking at the back of my brain for quite some time but was only re-animated this afternoon while I was sitting in Roches Stores cafe trying to enjoy a cup of coffee while watching a boy of no more than 10 years of age unwrapping his brand new Nokia mobile phone. “Within 30 years” I thought to myself, “this kid is going to be fucked”. That is of course if the research actually bares fruit. Take the urban ledgend (if it actually is that) of the autopsy of Veronica Guerin some years ago. A reporter and so obviously a heavy mobile phone user, when her brain was examined there were allegedly a ring of tumors around where her ear was. If that is true and if it’s not all scaremongering on the part of the anti-phone crowd it’s something we should all be concerned about. None more so than parents though. Would you really risk it? Just so your 11-year-old kid won’t be coming home every day saying “but evvvvvvveryone in school has picture phones, why can’t I get one?” Children don’t understand what potentially deadly medical conditions are. Suffice to say, giving a mobile phone to a child is like offering them a set of pissed off scorpions to play with. Before you go rushing out to the scorpion shop, stop and have a little think.

The sale of mobile phones should be banned for people under the age of 16. What does anyone younger than that need a bloody mobile phone for anyway? Anyone they need to talk to will see them tomorrow in school, and if it’s the weekend they’ll simply have to walk to their friends house. I’m not trying to be a fuddy duddy, it’s simply how things are. If any child of mine ever comes home with any shape or form of mobile phone before I give exclusive written permission, I’ll wage war on the phone shops. I can almost see the headlines on the papers now…

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