Category Archives: personal

bad driving friday

What is going on? is it a full moon or something?
In my 25 minute ride to work this morning I saw three completely stupid driving moments.

  1. Riding up my own street, when a 40ish woman in a silver Camry (WOJ750) approaches a stop sign, takes a look at me – literally 5 metres away, decides I’m no threat and pulls out in front of me as she flips the bird and then tears off down the street leaving me jamming my brakes and turning sharply to avoid being hit. I’m guessing she had just dropped her child at the catholic school down the street, so it’s likely I’ll see her again. Any suggestions on how I should greet her next time?
  2. Next, waiting at the Dawson Street crossing on the Upfield bike path. There’s only one car coming – a black Toyota Prado with its lights on (OK, so I should have spotted the signs then!). I see that the lights have turned yellow so I assume they’ll be stopping and turn my attention to crossing with my green light. The light turns green and I’m just about to start when I realise that instead of stopping, she’s gunned the Prado, through a now very red light, across the rail crossing and bike path at about 60km/h, shocking everyone around. All this right outside the Victoria Police Traffic Branch!
  3. Strike three was on Royal Parade, waiting with quite a crowd at the Cemetery Road lights. The lights change and everyone struggles to get going in the confines of an inadequate cycle lane when a MCC utility zooms through the left slip lane to pass a bunch of cars that haven’t got moving yet. Only missed my handlebars by about 30cm and driving at about 40km/h he had no idea whether one of those cyclists might wobble out of their lane. So much for the 1800-SAFETY bumper sticker!

Three very stupid people – no damage done, but the odds are it will happen one day.

Cycling with wildlife

Just wanted to share a little ‘magic moment’, I encountered on the way home last night.

Riding up Royal Parade with the commuter peloton when, stopped at the lights, I noticed a woman on the footpath poking and peering at her bike. I was about to ask whether she needed a hand, when someone behind me beat me to it. Her reply:

It’s OK, there’s a spider on my bike!

OK, I shouldn’t laugh, because it was obviously a big problem for her to have an eight legged passenger, but all the same, it’s not exactly up there with broken chains and flat tyres, is it?

A short time went by during which she didn’t seem to make any headway with her problem, despite employing the time honoured ‘stick’ method of spider removal – apparently the beast in question was small enough to remain hidden somewhere around the headstem (Perhaps a magnifying glass would have helped!). Anyway, a far kinder person than me did eventually relent and join her on the footpath for a bit of impromptu pest removal.

I hope all survived the experience unscathed!

the mighty magpie

This is my mate Harry. I meet him on the way home sometimes. Sometimes he surprises me, but tonight I saw him ‘interacting’ with someone ahead of me, so I was ready – even had time to get the iPhone out and ready in movie mode!

I love magpies. The football team and the birds! Magpies are so gutsy – I mean I’m hundreds of times his size, but I’m invading his home and all he’s thinking about is the missus and the kids. You really can’t blame him for doing what the little voices in his head are telling him. Anyone who’s had chooks in their backyard can’t really be afraid of a bird.

… and look at that second effort! he’s probably wearing a number 8

the green fisherman…

Really saddens me to see recent stories regarding new marine parks and sanctuaries lead to ill informed, populist, knee jerk responses from fellow fishermen.

Firstly: conservationists, or ‘greenies’, the word so many fishermen spit out without any clue as to the meaning. What do greenies want? In this case, they want better living conditions for fish species so that those species may prosper and their environment improve. So, what? are all these angry fishermen against that? I don’t think so… when are you all going to realise, YOU ARE ON THE SAME SIDE. Continue reading

great service #5

I’ve saved the best ’til last. Remember the days before mp3s?… how about CDs? yes, who had a great collection of vinyl? Who’s still got one? Well, I don’t. I got rid of most of my collection long ago, but there are a few faves hanging around in the cupboard and one day I plan to ‘format shift’.

In fact I tried to do this years ago and bought a Griffin iMic, a little USB dongle that didn’t cost the earth, but sadly failed to deliver – well that was back in 2002. At the time I did a bit of to-ing and fro-ing with Griffin’s tech support, but no matter how I tried with software and settings, I just couldn’t get it to work properly.

Fast forward to last month, when I once again considered tossing out my last records and the trusty old player. I thought I’d give the iMic one more go – sadly, the same problems, however this time I was pretty sure that it wasn’t software, so once again I struck up correspondence with Griffin to see if I could finally diagnose the problem. Prompt responses quickly agreed that it sounded like hardware. Amazingly, I dredged out an old email from 2002 in which Griffin said that it most likely sounded like software. I also tried my luck by asking for a discount on a replacement unit.

The reply I received completely astonished me. Griffin took responsibility for the original misdiagnosis (which was within warranty) and gave me instructions for making a replacement claim. A mere 7 years out of warranty! Now, finally, I’m converting my favourite disks to digital format and I can’t thank the folk at Griffin enough.

So, that’s what I call service. I’ll definitely support Griffin in the future and I hope they get some business out of this endorsement, because they certainly deserve it.

great service #4

I’m an impulse online shopper and there are a few sites that fill my needs just nicely. A couple of these sites offer special deals every day, and one of them is Zazz. Cool as many of the items are, I only made my first purchase on Zazz a couple of weeks back. Including postage, it was only $20, what could I lose?

Well, as it happens, the goods were disappointing. Maybe I was unlucky, maybe they were just plain dodgy, but I emailed Zazz to ask for their advice. Straight away I get an email back – a return authorisation number, even an address label to print out. It was quick – the communication was excellent, no doubts, no difficulties. Within days, the refund was back in my paypal account.

For online purchases, it is absolutely vital that you can trust the vendor. Experiences like this show that you can definitely trust Zazz. Great work guys! I’m still watching your site for my next purchase!

great service #1, 2 and 3

I’ve had a pretty good run lately with customer service – so good I’ve decided to just put a few of them on the record…

1. The federal government solar rebate: OK, I’m being a bit controversial here, but I was one of the thousands who got a 1kw solar cell system on the big rebate scheme. I’ve just got my first electricity bill since the install and it’s showing our average daily consumption has dropped around 60% I am happy! Sure, it’s summer, so I won’t see that all year, but the scheme is a success as far as I am concerned. From the organisers of the Moonee Ponds solar Neighbourhood to the installers, Rezeko and even the pen pushers at the DEWS, the whole process has gone smoothly, if a little slowly, and I want to thank them all.

2. The Hong Kong connection: Dealextreme is a gadget lover’s delight. You can order the most improbable things at the most fantastic prices, but like all businesses, sometimes they run out of stock. I’d been waiting a long time for an $8 item, so long I’d forgotten about it. DealExtreme contacted me, suggested I take a store credit and gave me the details on how I should claim it. Now, this is no more than you’d rightly expect, but we’re talking about a bargain basement company operating out of Hong Kong – you don’t always get that level of service from such companies.

3. Great coffee, great service: We’re lucky enough to have Seven Seeds right next to our office, so around 10 each morning we tend to make a little pilgrimage. This morning, I’d just stepped out into the lane when I realised my cup was leaking – no big deal, I turned around back into the cafe and pointed out the problem. No simple transfer to another cup – that would have destroyed the aesthetics of the coffee. Even though it was a particularly busy morning, a fresh cup was quickly organised, all smiles, and I was on my way.

So, these are examples of good service – nothing more than you should expect, but you don’t always get it and the companies involved all deserve a bit of credit for making the transactions as painless as possible. I’m going to follow this post up with a couple more examples of companies that have gone that little bit further.

boring…

That’s what she said! boring!!

It had been a long time since I’d updated my blog design, it wasn’t bad, but it was old and I was kinda sick of it. I wanted something really clean and uncluttered, with plenty of space and better typography.

Also, in the years since I’d built my old theme along came the sandbox theme, surely one of the plainest and most unassuming looking themes you’ll ever see, but as they say, beauty is only skin deep. Where sandbox really shines is under the hood, the html output by sandbox is rich in smart stuff and although my new design doesn’t really take much advantage of the smart stuff, it makes me feel a little better just to know it’s there. Not only that, but at any time, if I’m getting a bit sick of how it looks, I can just swap my css and it magically transforms.

So, with all the magic that sandbox offers, what did I get up to? Not much yet, apart from the basic design you’re looking at now, there is a rotating bank of 31 header images based on the day of the month. So, to see them all you’re either going to have to check back each day for a month or do some digging around in the code. I still have some other ideas, and there are aspects I’m not happy with, so I’ll be making some minor changes now and then.

… but what about this boring comment? Well, that was Rachel, I was so pleased with my final result that I called her over to show her. She thinks it looks like a news site! :-(