Onward and Upward

So I’ve covered the Sprint GT’s first service over on its own blog – I just need to start giving it the berries a bit more (although its trip computer must be over-reading…).

I also received a letter about my stepmother’s estate which was a piece of pleasant news and well timed, given I’m planning to buy a house or maybe even my apartment which may soon be up for sale.

Due to a change of plans, I had Saturday free so I decided to get the pushbike out to go for a little spin: maybe 5 or 6 miles on the advice of my Consultant Knee Surgeon and my physiotherapist at the excellent London Bridge Hospital. 11.4 miles later and I’d had a great time, keeping the cadence up and not putting too much effort through the knee. Same thing next week, I think.

GT popped over in the evening, meeting me for dinner at the O2 where we were then due to see Iron Maiden play. An excellent gig! Then over to Waterloo to say goodnight and back home to the apartment.

Up at a reasonable time on Sunday to head up to Norfolk for lunch with the ‘kids’ which was made more difficult by the completely inept road closure arrangements for the Prudential Ride London: every main road out of London to the East was closed despite the official sites claiming they’d be open earlier.

Monday saw more check-ups and blood tests – all fine – and a nice, long phone call as arranged the week before from Humberside Police to explain, as expected and agreed, that they wouldn’t be pressing charges against the psycho ex for her theft and disposal of some of my stuff (“intention to permanently deprive”), but only because it wouldn’t be in the public interest to waste taxpayers’ money on a prosecution: there was the passage of time caused by them, sadly, which they accepted was the case and they knew she would never admit guilt – she never does – and accept a caution, so the options were a full trial or nothing and the thefts were, as I told them, insignificant (I’ve long since replaced the stolen goods with better quality, newer things … a bit like I did with her, I suppose). They suggested I start a private prosecution, which is always an option, but I can’t be arsed to waste any more time on her.

But the good news is that they’ve now got the proof of what she’s really like: a liar and a thief. So that’s the end of that: maybe she’ll stop stalking me one day too?

So it’s onward and upward!

Humberside Police Complaints Procedure

Or “How To Dramatically Reduce the Number of  Complaints We Have to Deal With”.

Humberside Police – locally referred to as “Blunderside Police” – have a section on their website about how complaints against them are handled.  This includes this part:

Complaints can be made either in person at a police station, generally to an Inspector though in exceptional circumstances they can be recorded by a sergeant, or by way of letter, e-mail, fax, telephone or via an outside agency.

If you wish to make a complaint please complete the complaint form. [Link]

That “Link” hyperlink takes you to this Word document and on page 4 of that document it says:

Where to send this form 

For your complaint to be dealt with more quickly please send this form directly to:

Professional Standards Branch
Humberside Police
Police Headquarters
Priory Road
Hull
HU5 5SF

Or via email to: Professional.Standards@humberside.pnn.police.uk

The only problem with that is that the Professional Standards Branch’s e-mail address doesn’t exist:

Delivery has failed to these recipients or groups:
Professional.Standards@humberside.pnn.police.uk
The email address that you entered couldn’t be found. Check the address and try resending the message. If the problem continues, please contact your helpdesk.

What an excellent way of reducing complaints: bounce them back!

Humberside Police Complaints Procedure

Or “How To Dramatically Reduce the Number of  Complaints We Have to Deal With”.

Humberside Police – locally referred to as “Blunderside Police” – have a section on their website about how complaints against them are handled.  This includes this part:

Complaints can be made either in person at a police station, generally to an Inspector though in exceptional circumstances they can be recorded by a sergeant, or by way of letter, e-mail, fax, telephone or via an outside agency.

If you wish to make a complaint please complete the complaint form. [Link]

That “Link” hyperlink takes you to this Word document and on page 4 of that document it says:

Where to send this form 

For your complaint to be dealt with more quickly please send this form directly to:

Professional Standards Branch
Humberside Police
Police Headquarters
Priory Road
Hull
HU5 5SF

Or via email to: Professional.Standards@humberside.pnn.police.uk

The only problem with that is that the Professional Standards Branch’s e-mail address doesn’t exist:

Delivery has failed to these recipients or groups:
Professional.Standards@humberside.pnn.police.uk
The email address that you entered couldn’t be found. Check the address and try resending the message. If the problem continues, please contact your helpdesk.

What an excellent way of reducing complaints: bounce them back!

The Trouble With Charity…

…is that it only shifts the problem geographically or delays what is sadly the inevitable.

“The UK is the world’s third largest donor from countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), following Germany ($14.5bn) and the US ($30.7bn). But as a percentage of gross national income (GNI), British aid spending was 0.56% in 2011 – far greater than the US equivalent of 0.20%. Only five OECD countries – Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Denmark, and the Netherlands – have already met the 0.7% commitment.

“What does this mean for the UK taxpayer? With a population of about 62.6 million, last year’s £8.57bn spend works out at roughly £137 per head.”

Source

Now I don’t have a problem with spending money to help others. I earn decent money. I tip. I buy the occasional Big Issue. I give to charity.

But I do wonder if all I’m doing is helping people with the best of intentions try to hold back a tsunami with a couple of bits of plywood.

The world’s population doubled between 1960 and 1999 and reached 7bn in 2012 with growth rates of around 1%. We can’t feed the world as it is.

Humanitarian aid helps solve short term issues but merely postpones the inevitable: we can’t feed the people we have now, but by keeping the babies we see on TV, breaking our hearts, alive, we are condemning them to a life of hardship and suffering, surely?

That 1% growth rate is the average: in sub-Saharan Africa it’s more than 2.5%, in the areas where the environment is less able to support its present population.

The way to feed more people is to grow more crops and to do that we need to invest in developing the ground conditions to allow sustainable agriculture. But even if we could cultivate more areas of Africa, where do all the people go? It’s just not going to work. Instead, we throw aid as a form of Band-Aid over a severed limb. Sometimes that aid gets used as a weapon by those involved in civil wars or otherwise corrupt.

But it makes us in the first world feel less guilty when we Do Something to ‘help’ the third world. And I reckon by doing so, we do more harm than good. The more people we save, the worse it gets. And it won’t end unless we have a complete rethink.

Santander Again

Jeez! These people are really, really hard work.

I received a letter from Santander at the weekend telling me that my loan account is in arrears. That was news to me, given that as far as I am aware I only have two savings accounts with them (brought over from Bradford & Bingley).

So I rang them this morning as the letter suggests I should, quoting the account number on the letter and giving them details of my name, address and date of birth. So far so good.

I asked them about this alleged loan account and was told it was a Cahoot one. Now as far as I am aware, this was paid off a year or two ago and I even had a letter from them telling me they were taking my final payment by direct debit.

Now in order for Santander to continue the conversation – so I was told – they now needed me to tell them what my monthly payment was. I have no idea: this was a year or two ago and I only get online bank statements that go back six months or a year or whatever with limited details, so there’s no way I have that information. Fail.

They asked me when the loan was taken out. I have no idea! It was years ago and I moved out two years ago and binned most paperwork as I had nowhere to store the masses of papers I’d built up over the years. Fail.

In that case, they said, they wouldn’t continue the call. If I wanted to talk to them, I would need to write and ask them for the details. So let’s get this right: if I write them a letter with the same details I’d given them over the phone, they’d send me all the details I needed which they wouldn’t give me over the telephone! Shurely shome mishtake?

“No,” I said, “if you’re claiming there are some arrears, you need to send me the details of how and why they arose and how they’re calculated.”

Wunch of bankers!

iPod Integration

A bit of a nightmare, this. The R3 comes with an auxiliary socket in one of the cubbyholes to allow you to connect an MP3 player to it, but all the play or selection functions have to be performed from the player.

When I ordered the car, I also spec’d it to include Mazda’s iPod integration module which is by no means cheap.

And it’s full of fail!

So far, I’ve tried it with three iPod nanos of varying age and although all connect to the system fine, none of them will actually play through the Bose system. And worse still, fitting the iPod Integration Module apparently disables the auxiliary socket as well! So I’m worse off with it fitted.

I’m giving it one more try: with a birthday coming up, I’ve asked for a new, 5th Generation 16GB iPod nano which should – in theory at least – work. We’ll see. Mazda’s Customer Service department did not have a clue when I specifically asked them the question…

CrapBerry

{sigh}

Another attempt at adding a number to the contacts list on my BlackBerry Curve 8900 ends in an uncaught exception, a useless phone and a reboot that takes longer even than a PC!

This is despite my having gone through the troubleshooting of deleting the contacts database and recreating it from scratch – itself requiring me to install the BlackBerry Desktop Software that I don’t want or need and which itself failed to install properly on my laptop.

BlackBerry = FAIL

Oh and a tip: rather than having to remove the battery to get it to reboot after an uncaught exception, use alt-rightshift-del to do the ctrl-alt-del PC equivalent.