j4: (roads)
Due to car-related fail I'm afraid we haven't managed to get out of Oxford so we won't be in Cambridge today. :-( Really sorry, folks. Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] rmc28 for (hopefully) passing on the message -- hope nobody had a wasted journey.

HOWEVER: all being well we will try again NEXT SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 4TH! Aiming for same time and same place otherwise. Hope people can make it then instead.
j4: (badgers)
I should post more before I entirely forget how to write. So I'm going to post about something small and annoying (no, not myself): my Three micro-SIM for my iPad. (I can't call them '3' because it's too confusing when I'm also talking about '3G'.)

I bought an iPad because... )

When I activated the Three SIM, despite the fact that it was supposed to be a PAYG SIM Three wanted to know everything about me: from the usual name/address/DoB etc to things like how long I'd been in my current job, and what my previous address was. This was presumably for a credit check, but when I asked why they needed to know this, all they could tell me was "we need to know these things, Mrs M—, because, Mrs M—, in order to set up your account, Mrs M—, we need to know these things to set up your account". Anyway, all this information was nothing they couldn't get off Facebook anyway, so I gritted my teeth and went through the mandatory 45 minutes of interrogation, and then the 3-hour wait until the SIM is actually activated, etc etc. It did work in the end, though; and I can now get MAGIC INTERNET FROM THE AIR on my iPad (hurrah!).

However, I then came to set up my 'my3' account, i.e. the ability to look at my bills etc online. I put in my name and address and SIM number, and so on, and was told that in order to activate the account I'd have to type in a PIN which they would send my SMS to my Three mobile. .... See the problem? The Three SIM is in an iPad. Not a phone. There's no way to receive a txt on the iPad (there may be apps that fake it, but that's not the point). And because it's a micro-SIM, I can't even just slap it in another phone. OK, I probably could find someone with an SMS-receiving device which would accept a micro-SIM, but I figure I shouldn't have to do this to make their stupid setup process work.

So I emailed them and pointed out the flaw in their process, and waited for a reply. They tried to phone me a few times; I was annoyed that they couldn't just reply to the email (I got an automated ticket response, but that just told me to phone their helpline), but figured that maybe they'd be able to give me the PIN over the phone once I'd cleared security, but couldn't do it by email.

Today I finally gathered enough round tuits to phone them back. First, there's no ticket number or other way to skip through the phone-menu and say "I'm following up this previous request that you told me to follow up". Second, when I do get through to a human being (or at least a slightly better AI than a phone-menu), I find that there is literally no other way for them to give me the PIN for the account. "OK, Mrs M—, the reason is, Mrs M—, the iPad does not support SMS." I pointed out that they knew that when they offered an iPad contract, but the point was lost on them. Apparently I can log into my 'my3' if I'm using my Three connection on my iPad, and then it won't ask for a username or password at all; but that's the only way to do it. "Mrs M—, we are looking into another way of doing this, Mrs M—, OK." Fortunately I will get notifications and bills and suchlike by email, i.e. I don't have to go into the 'my3' account to get them... but still. The only thing that's stopping me cancelling the Three SIM now is the knowledge that doing so would involve talking to them again. Well, that and the fact that I'd have to go and deal with a different phone company instead, who would simply be differently awful.

The moral of the story is ... I don't know. It can't be "don't buy an iPad" because it's absolutely great and has honestly actually been useful as well as being a joy to use. It can't be "don't deal with mobile phone companies" because if you want to use mobile phone technology there's no real alternative at the moment. Maybe the moral is "everything is a bit full of fail, but mostly works in the end". Not exactly catchy, but it'll do.

The concept of 'fail' is another subject for another blog, or maybe a book (in fact, I will gladly write a book about 'fail' if someone will pay me for it, because I've written most of it in my head already). Which means I probably won't ever get round to it, because of... well, because of fail.


Jan. 25th, 2010 08:48 pm
j4: (blade)
Just had the most maddening conversation ever with Alliance & Leicester's internet banking helpdesk. Notes here mostly for my own benefit because I'll write them up into a proper complaint before moving to a different bank.

The fail, it burns )

Perhaps a new New Year's Resolution (no, I haven't forgotten, but I haven't done them yet either) should be to find a bank whose internet banking isn't shit. :-/ Any recommendations?
j4: (dodecahedron)
Okay, yesterday's poll was full of fail, because it does depend a lot on context. I'm normally the one who can't get more than two questions into a questionnaire without going "ARGH BUT IT DEPENDS" and throwing the whole box of "neither agree nor disagree"s across the room in disgust, so I apologise for giving everybody else the argh this time. I think I was working on the assumption that the hypothetical communications in question were a) personal, or at least something where you personally have an interest (in either sense) in getting a reply, and b) something that obviously invited a reply but didn't specify the time-limit; e.g. if you say "please let me know by the end of the day" then obviously you're kind of expecting a reply by the end of the day, and if you send something that doesn't normally need/expect/invite a reply, then, um, you're not expecting a reply. But I did completely fail to show working.

Not sure what to do now: 48 people have managed to respond despite the fail, so I don't want to make people fill it all in again; but the results are probably a lot more meaningless than I hoped. That'll teach me to try to design surveys when I'm tired and rushing to meet an arbitrary deadline. :-}
j4: (admin)
Further to yesterday's post on the other blog: of course, a lot of my problems with email are problems with me. (I'm keeping this here because it's more about me and my fail and my angst, and as such it definitely belongs on LiveJournal!) So, some bad email behaviours:

If it's still in my inbox, I haven't failed at it yet

All those awkward emails I never replied to; emails I don't want to reply to, but want to remember that I haven't replied to yet; information emails where I still think I'll do something with the information -- blog about it, post it to another mailing list, complain to someone about it, sign up for something, buy something, sell something... Failing to do something may be bad, but failing to commit to not doing it is in some ways worse: the thing still doesn't get done, but the brain's request tracker keeps the ticket open forever. It's like a big guilty memory-leak. And the inbox slowly fills up with things that aren't really in my 'in' tray any more, they're in my 'fail' tray; so the inbox becomes nothing but a screenful of fail. Some of the mails in my inbox have been there for six months.

(I have a similar problem with food that's probably gone off: I don't want to eat it, but I don't want to throw it away, because that's a waste -- and then I will have 'failed'. So I put it back in the cupboard, as if it was somehow going to recover from having gone off, or as if I was going to be more likely to want to eat it when it's gone even further past its best.)

I read email when I know I don't have time to reply to it

This always seems like a good idea -- it seems as though it should give me more warning of tasks coming up, more time to start thinking about a reply. In practice, it just means that I've mentally moved the email to the queue of "things I haven't replied to" (i.e., things which I feel faintly guilty about) before I've even had a chance to act on it. It's like having a "select all > mark as FAIL" option in my inbox.

I agonise about the wording of even the most trivial emails

I think part of the problem here is that I get so irritated by emails where the sender clearly hasn't thought about them at all, and I can't bear the thought that I might end up looking like that sort of person. This would be fine if it just encouraged me to write clearly, but in practice it means that even a simple request-for-information email (the sort of thing that should be one line long and take about 30 seconds) takes a ridiculously long time to write. Emails to friends are far harder. I can draft and redraft and even 'finish' writing an email -- but increasingly it feels impossible to commit to pressing 'send', and I'll hit 'cancel' instead. It's not the emotional/informational content of the email that's the problem, it's just the wording; nothing ever sounds right. There are really alarmingly few people I can talk to in email without worrying too much about my wording (I'm married to one of them).

Perhaps I should have had a 'reply to all emails on the day they arrive' month instead of wittering away on LiveJournal.

I still believe that email is something that doesn't take any time

I don't intellectually believe this, of course, but some bit of my brain obviously reckons that email is something that doesn't need any time allocated to it, something I can just fit in between other things. The more I wrestle with time-management, the more I think that the most important things to remember are that time is finite and everything takes time. (Arnold Bennett writes more effectively about this than I do in How to live on 24 hours a day.) I have tried estimating and then recording how much time I spend "checking email"; the results are frightening. At work, I've recently been trying to set time-slots for "dealing with email" and actually stick to them; I usually massively overrun (or under-allocate time, depending on how you look at it).

To be fair, actually, it's not just email that I seem to think shouldn't take any time; most of the things which never get done (or which I struggle to get done) are things to which I don't consciously allocate any time. I think the myth of multitasking is partly to blame for this.

Stopping here because a) I didn't have much more to say anyway, b) I want to allocate some time to actually getting some sleep, and to do that I need to get away from the computer, and c) it's probably good for me to just post the damn thing and stop agonising.
j4: (dirigible)
Sorry I've not said much lately. We're a week away from moving house and I'm in a state of neurotic despair about the whole thing. And I'm going to tell you about it in tedious detail whether you like it or not. )

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