The phone line is down

So I got home to the phones saying check phone line and did the whole moving furniture to check the master socket and still no phone line.

The good news is the broadband hasn’t died with it, but of course a half broken phone line makes me worry it will break some more.

Sky took about 18 minutes to answer my call to report the fault, but were quick to run a line test and then book us an engineer visit once I had escaped the queue. Will it stay broken to Wednesday which is engineer visit day?

Uh-oh… I’ve had an idea

Chatting to some friends last night I came up with an idea….. I want to visit a place in the UK for every letter of the alphabet.

For each letter I’m going to choose a place I like the sound of and make that the place I go to. My definition of go to is going to be find a sign with the place name and take a photo of that, but a sign from a vehicle window doesn’t count.

Although I really want to start soon, just because I’ve found out it exists I want to start with a place called “Ae” so looks like I need a trip to Scotland! Shortest place name in the UK….

B is decided already and will be Bacon End.

Commute with “snow”

So there’s a tiny dusting of snow on the ground and the temperature is above freezing. So far the winter timetable just means less trains, not more reliable ones in my view.

This said according to the Met Office forecast it is going to dip back down to zero degrees centigrade, and snow at the same time so maybe conductor rail icing will become an issue.

So when the train gets very squished due to the cancelling of other trains I have come down the line to the terminus at Hayes (Kent) first. This means I now have a window seat sitting facing the direction of travel.

Damn winter timetables

So tomorrow we get a winter timetable on the Hayes (Kent) line. I can’t make my mind up on how I feel about this. It is good in that we are more likely to actually get a train to London, but bad in that the trains that do run are almost guaranteed to be full to bursting.

I do wish they waited to see what the weather actually does before deciding on the winter timetable, but I guess it helps logistically to do it early.

If it all goes wrong expect another post!


I love this musical as of tonight I’ve seen it twice.

Not quite your standard happy ending musical, but it tells a story and it tells it well. It is my current favourite probably as it breaks some of the norms. Blood Brothers is also up there, again it breaks the happy ending norm.

Many powerful songs in there and some brilliant acting, can I book more tickets yet?

That said so much new is on London! I need to see it all!

Hamilton still seems to manage a full house every night. That’s pretty damn impressive.

I love my radiator valve

Yes you read that right. I really love my radiator valve. It’s an ET SPIRIT value I got from Reichelt (based in Germany, please Brexit don’t break me buying toys from our European neighbours)

Photo of the ET Spirit Radiator Value

What I really like about this valve it has something called FLiRS (Frequently Listening Receiver Slave), which in simple terms means it is always listening out for Z-Wave commands sent to it and wakes up for them without getting through batteries too quickly. So if I decide it’s too cold in my room I can set a new temperature from my phone or my PC and off it goes and as it was too cold very soon you’ll hear the valve open (not too loud) then the click click of the metal radiator getting warmer.

Also love the fact the configuration setting allow the screen to show the set temperature the right way up for the UK.

I’m using HomeSeer for the back end of my Home automation. They deserve some praise too, I’ve got a fairly old HomeTroller Zee which was their first Raspberry Pi based HomeSeer system and I ordered the plug in to make it work with Hue lighting before I learnt that to use plugins you need the Zee S2. On requesting a refund on a Sunday I was having a friendly e-mail chat with someone based in the US, then they’d processed the refund by Wednesday.

Thanks to being able to schedule events in HomeSeer I wake up to 22 degrees and go to sleep at 16. I do like a cold room to sleep, but hate getting up in the cold. I’m getting a bit annoyed with IFTTT and the fact it doesn’t seem to always want to talk to the HomeSeer cloud hence I’m currently pondering do I get an upgrade so I can get HomeSeer talking to my Hue Devices or do I buy a Samsung Smart Things hub and use that so I can talk to Zigbee type devices? I’ll keep pondering from now as it’s not the end of the world yet. the reviews for the SmartHub are not being the most promising.

It is not embossed – Debit Card

So my bank sent me a new debit card after the ticketmaster data breach. Thank you bank for looking after me, but I was surprised when this bank card turned up that it no longer has embossed numbers.

As my friends pointed out to me on Facebook where I made a short comment on this change, I can’t actually recall the last time I made a transaction with a retailer using a card impression machine. As soon as I’d seen the card was flat I was straight onto asking Google if this was normal. That got rid of my fears (irrational ones) of this change, but it would have been nice if Natwest had mentioned in much of the post they had sent me this was a change too and not to worry about it.

This change is actually probably better for me as non embossed cards go better together in the wallet, but I wonder how well printed as all my embossed cards loose the silver ink after a while. I guess it is a wait and see….

The biggest pain is I now have to teach Amazon and many other places a new number, and of course all the good websites won’t show you your whole card number if it has all rubbed of that could be interesting.

Oh and I need to go and make a chip and pin transaction before I can use contactless, this makes me want to use a self checkout in a quiet shop so people don’t think I’m mad for using a contactless card for under £30.

The running show

That was a good wake up and sort yourself out reminder. The friends who nagged me helped as well (all of it supportive nagging), but more being reminded how much I started to enjoy running previously.

So many events I’d like to sign up to, but alas I am too heavy at the moment and also once the OCR season starts there is much overlap with the running season.

Something that was really notable was the stands run using sales people verses those run by people involved with the event/product. Gladly I wasn’t wearing my glasses so the glasses cleaning people left me alone, but they were trying so hard to sell.

Was also good fun to meet so many of my geographical dispersed OCR friends before the OCR season really gets going.

Now I await my train home. This could start a whole new rant on advanced fares being so inflexible, but so much cheaper than more flexible tickets.

What I really, really want

Is a commercial grade device that connects to Ethernet and let’s me power cycle a single device remotely. What’s really annoying is I could knock something like this up for home and be happy it was safe enough, but when it comes to work we really want to be buying in professional grade products.

Now this type of device exists in data centre power distribution units (PDUs), but these have a minimum of 8 outputs and are rather large. What I want is something we can mount with a ceiling hung projector so without finding a ladder I can power cycle it. Okay it would be nicer if the projector manufacturers used watchdog timers on their control circuits so the projectors unlock if they do crash, but that’s probably been cost engineered out of any designs.

The other type of device that can have similar functionality is a UPS, but APC seem to only sell the small Li-Ion one in the US, and the idea of heavy lead acid battery devices in mid air just doesn’t appeal to me.

Does anyone know of such a device? I almost think the demand could be big enough to make it worth designing something safe and bring it to market.

Stupid Body

Last night on the way home I couldn’t type with my thumb, which is how I normally type on my phone. Every time my thumb was anywhere near the phone screen it would start in a fairly dramatic tremor.

Fortunately I could still type if I didn’t use my thumb, but it was slightly awkward to hold the phone differently and very annoying my thumb wouldn’t do as I wanted.

I did end up leaving some messages to reply to at home and was glad to find a physical keyboard still worked normally.

Hopefully it won’t happen again today, but so far so good as this blog post is coming from my normal phone typing method. I half want to try dictation, but think I would get too many odd looks on the train.