Since I invested in a mobile phone back in 1998 I have gotten used to ‘blind spots’ where I can get little or no connection but lately I seem to be getting more problems concerning connection and not less as you might expect. More and more people are now connected and presumably more and more masts have been erected to accommodate them all. However there are still many blind spots in the areas in which I work which can be a nuisance but whilst at home I never expect to have problems as historically I never have had. I am now finding that in certain parts of the house I get no signal at all whilst in other parts the signal is very strong. Strange as it may seem I don’t usually have problems when in the house cellars where you might expect the signal to be weak! Some upstairs rooms have blind spots and some do not and it doesn’t seem to matter on which side of the house the rooms are situated. Very odd indeed. I was in the main bathroom trying to sort out why the towel rail we installed last year when refurbishing the whole room, wasn’t heating up. Obviously that problem was an air-lock which was most likely caused by my draining the system early in the year in order to change a couple of radiator valves. I had been venting only water from the rail but wasn’t getting anywhere. I had fitted a hose and flushed out a large amount of water together with the offending air and was just tidying up when my mobile phone rang. It was a call from an elderly gentleman for whom I had worked last year. He wanted me to do more work. I couldn’t jot down the details where I was so I went downstairs to where the house phone sits as there is a note pad and pen there. As I bent down to pick up the pen my connection was lost and I was disconnected from the caller. I tried to call back but there wasn’t a signal so I moved to another room but still no joy. I decided to call him using the house phone but kept getting rejected as his house phone is set not to receive calls from anyone whose own number is ex-directory and our phone number is ex-directory. I therefore had to return upstairs to attempt to reconnect on my mobile phone. As it happened he must have been trying to call me and I couldn’t get connected. Finally I got through and was able to jot down the details. The odd thing is that sometimes I can receive a call in a place where I cannot make a call myself! How crazy is that? Is it any wonder I get so frustrated with technology? If it isn’t my computers it is my phones!
By the way the towel rail is now working perfectly…..
Many of my readers will know that I have an aversion to modern communication technology, though ‘communication’ itself isn’t an issue with me. When it was possible to carry around a telephone wherever one went I was all in favour of it and I am still. What I don’t like, or rather what does not appeal to me is the ability to have the world in my pocket, being able to download or upload data in vast quantities. I am not into having loads of applications on my phone seemingly to make my life easier or under better control when in fact I really don’t need it. In basic terms I don’t want an electronic device running the way I live my life. What I do want is to be available when someone wishes to speak with me or if I wish to speak with someone else I am able to do so. To a much lesser degree and for me it is very much a lesser ideal is to be able to deliver a message through texting. So far this year I doubt I have used the texting service more than once and then only to reply to a friend by asking her to email me instead. I don’t text! The phone for me is for speaking to people not leaving them messages. Anyway to that end I would like to be able to use a simple phone that only offered speech and maybe texting but they no longer exist for use on today’s networks. The old networks used analogue transmitters and receivers whilst new networks have switched to digital transmission and reception. Second generation (2G) phones are basic but digital but even they are equipped with more applications than merely voice and text. In this country most people who have mobile phones have 3 or 4G models which have a higher capability than the 2G ever had though surprisingly they often have to use the 2G network in use. The 2G network is slower as the need for 2G phones is limited and doesn’t require the higher speed and data transmissions that the 3 and 4G phones need. It is unlikely that the 2G system will be switched off in the near future because its infrastructure allows the use of higher level phones to be used in places they would otherwise be denied. That will change eventually I have no doubt but until the whole industry gears itself for the up and coming 5 and possibly 6G phones by building a dedicated infrastructure for these phones the 2G network will remain. It is called progress. By the time all of this comes about I doubt I will need the use of a mobile phone any longer so it will be of no consequence to me.
I wrote part of this post in an email to a friend today, that is Tuesday, as I write it here now. I went for a walk into town at around 11 o’clock in order to buy a couple of guitar picks, then I strolled into the main shopping area to visit the 3 Mobile store to see what options I had with my contract which officially expired in October last year. Naturally the young lady (an American girl incidentally) wanted to promote the latest 4G phones and there were many of them but I wasn’t interested and I explained to her that if it were possible I would be using a 2G phone! Mine is actually a 3G phone (Galaxy Ace), a bit dated now but I don’t want an upgrade for it would be wasted on me. I never use any of the applications to give them their proper name, I have no need for them. Likewise I almost never use the text service and almost never actually make calls either except to return a few missed calls in connection with my business. This means my requirements are minimal. Last October the contract expired as I said, which also meant that the phone has been paid for and now belongs to me. I asked about a reduction in my subscriptions so the young lady looked for an even better deal than the one I had.She found me an even better deal, a monthly reduction of another £3 (about $4.50), not a lot but better in my pocket than theirs. My monthly rental is now only £8 instead of £11. I am keeping my existing phone and in fact I still have an old Nokia too which I could use if I wished. Perhaps I could buy a Sim card and use that phone on a pay-as-you-go service. Maybe not. After I had signed the revised contract I had a stroll around town before walking back to my local where I had a lovely meal of sea bass with prawns in a rich sauce, new potatoes, garden peas, peas in their pods and broccoli. The dish isn’t on the printed menu but they serve it as one of their ‘specials’ when the fish is available. It is slightly more expensive than most items on the menu but is still a few pence below £10. The meals are never disappointing, the service is great and that’s why I go there. This was the day I got caught by the Sun’s rays too!
My week started much as it had last week, with plenty of work to do. I had one job scheduled for Monday morning and it did last the whole morning too, well from ten ’til one! I was replacing a power distribution board in someone’s house though actually all the work was carried out in their garage where the old board was situated. I suppose I could have done nothing else for the rest of the week after that one job. I was paid well enough to have done so, however I did have more work scheduled for later in the week. I received a call soon after I’d finished the job to do another! The second job was small and was in an apartment block a mile and a half from home. I had it done within an hour. I was still back home by three o’clock. Whilst sorting out my paperwork I checked the house phone for messages and found one asking me to do a small job when I could find the time. Had the person called me on my mobile phone I could have done the work that afternoon but by now it was three-thirty so I arranged to do it on Tuesday morning. I had no plans to work on Tuesday but I had planned to do other things in the morning meaning I would have to go out anyway. I could do both and still have plenty of time to dine out with E, which is exactly what I did. My next job on Wednesday was to take me quite a few hours, maybe four or six, though it would be in a nice warm apartment. The phones never stop ringing at this time of year and by the time it is Christmas I will be ready for a well-earned break. To that end I called the advertising department of the newspaper which runs my advertisement to tell them not to publish on 24th and the 31st. That will give me two weeks free from work………maybe……..knowing me I will probably respond to any requests I might get or find something to do at home and there’s certainly plenty of that to be had.
My house phone is very seldom used for outgoing calls and even incoming calls are few unless someone is requesting my services. In the past I received many nuisance calls usually from businesses doing cold calls but that has mostly ceased though the occasional caller gets through. I can tell when the call is from such businesses as soon as I pick up the phone. If I answer then I receive an automated advertising message presumably because the computer sending out the messages recognizes that a voice has spoken. Sometimes there is complete silence before I can hear the background noise often associated with a call centre. In either case the phone is immediately returned to its holder and the call is ended. With my mobile phone it is different. Businesses have resorted to withholding their number in many cases so I have no idea if the caller is genuine, that is they wish to speak to me about a job or engage in a private conversation. Regular callers are added to my contacts list so I can recognize them immediately and in most cases they do not withhold their number anyway. If I answer a call from a withheld number it is often from a business advertising themselves. I can block such callers however with the phone’s security program application, for my phone I use Kaspersky. However, sneaky as these business companies are they now often send a text message which is easily dispatched to the deleted items bin or worse still they leave a recorded message. Because again, I have no idea who sent the message when I retrieve my recorded messages those messages reach my ear. Of course I immediately delete the message. If there is one thing I hate most about modern technology it this persistent pestering by companies wishing to tell me I may be entitled to compensation for miss-sold PPIs or I may be due for compensation after an automobile accident which wasn’t my fault. Aside from the fact that I have neither I think it is such an imposition and a down right nuisance to have to put up with these things especially as I have no interest in them whatsoever. The only way to stop receiving these cold calls is to stop using the phones it seems because legislation if it exists, is as weak as a kitten.
In a perfect world there is no need for laws but the fact that we have them proves we need them. Unfortunately not all of us abide as upright citizens and even those who do have their shortcomings. We are not living in a perfect world and no matter what some people would say regarding mankind’s progress toward the ability to improvement along these lines we are still as we were when we were first created. So we have laws to keep us in line. There is a saying that laws are there to be broken but that would be the attitude of those who are quick to do so. If they can get away with wrongdoing they most probably take the chance. I was out walking a few days ago doing a little shopping after visiting the dentist and I had to pass through the taxi rank approaching the shopping arcade adjoining the train station. I saw a taxi being driven into the area whose driver was busy talking on his mobile phone whilst manoeuvring the vehicle with one hand. In such a busy area there could have been a nasty accident involving another vehicle or a pedestrian. People who flaunt the laws do not consider these things but act selfishly despite the danger. Similarly I saw a woman driving along the road in front of me a few days later and she too was busy chatting on her phone. I could see her through her wing mirror and I could also see a child sitting in a child safety seat in the rear of her car. She was obliged to keep to the law concerning child safety seating and probably was and is conscious of her responsibility as a mother toward her child, if not only that she would be well aware of the consequences of not complying. Yet she still took a chance handling her car with one hand when doing so is just as dangerous. It is one thing having laws because it is obvious we need them but getting people to adhere to them is another matter. Many of my readers will already know that I use a hands-free system in my vehicle which allows me to receive and make calls whilst I am driving, though I never use the system to make a call. I simply accept a call, usually for business and will pull over and park if I cannot remember all the details in order to take notes. These calls are very few and far between but I went to the trouble of installing the hands-free unit rather than ignore the law and take a chance. I get annoyed when I see other drivers who don’t give a damn!
One of Lucy’s posts prompted this one. In her blog she talked about investing in another mobile phone, in this case an updated version to the one she now possesses. I can see the logic in her reasoning and why she wanted an upgraded phone. Well that’s all very fine for Lucy and for the many millions of folk who, like her, like the technology. For myself however, it is all of no interest. I do understand why people want the latest phone, computer, iPad and tablet because of what can be done with them. They are useful in today’s environment for many reasons but I resist to go with the flow. I do not need the technology handy as it very well may be. I buy into things I have a use for otherwise I don’t buy. What many people cannot see with all this technology is the erosion of their freedom and I don’t just mean freedom of choice. Lucy mentioned the fact that an Internet-connected phone will be necessary to own in order to photograph cheques that we may receive from clients or anyone else we deal with financially. This means that if such a phone isn’t in your possession you will not be able to deposit a cheque unless you visit the bank in person. If ever we lose the ability to deal in cash this could be a problem and indeed governments would dearly love cash to disappear and for us all to use debit and credit cards but cash has advantages too, especially where small amounts are being dealt with. Cash is easier and less complicated to use. Societies of the future will be cash-free, cheque-free and dare I say, card-free too! It is suggested that everyone will not only embrace technology but it will literally be a part of them! One micro-chip inserted beneath the skin would keep records of health, social interaction, location, financial transactions and without the need to carry any other means of identification either as all the information about us will be burnt into the chip too! Now of course this suggestion doesn’t hold much credence as yet but you can be sure that it will in the future. Just how far into the future is anyone’s guess. In Biblical terms it is the mark of the beast and a prophecy, something forecast to happen. I have every reason to believe it.
Getting back to the Internet phone, it isn’t for this reason that I object to the technology, at least at this time, it is simply that I don’t like things being pushed into my face encouraging me to get involved when I have no wish to. I do see this sort of thing as the thin end of a very large wedge but there again, I believe what is written in The Bible.
This evidently is my 2000th post according to Word Press. When I started to post on 14 January 2009 I never imagined I would stick to writing at all but here I am still plodding along.
I went to do a small electrical job on Monday morning and whilst there the guy showed me some other work he wanted me to do. Now at one time I would have taken on the work as long as I had the time but I still get annoyed when people get me to their house to do a specific job then begin to pile on the extra work expecting me to do it there and then. I politely told him that I would do it at some other time and left it at that. If he really wants the job doing he will call me again. I try my best to limit what I do in my electrical work for a couple of reasons, my age, my other commitments and I simply don’t need a great volume of work.
E and I are currently involved with renovating and refurbishing the bathroom upstairs in our house but we are only at the preparation stage at the moment. In the afternoon we set about dismantling the woodwork in part of the floor that had been constructed by someone else. The original floor level was seven inches (about 155 mm) below the present level and was seemingly raised for easier access because previously one had to step down into the room. It had been done professionally but for some reason part of the floor had been reconstructed more recently perhaps after water damage just prior to us buying the house but as you can see from the video I posted two days ago it was a botched-up job. We have measured up for new joists and floorboards and in the next few days we will purchase them. In the meantime we stripped out some old skirting board, cut off an old lead gas pipe and a section of lead and copper pipe that used to supply an upstairs kitchen sink with hot water. We stripped out that kitchen together with the many other sink units that were dotted about the upstairs rooms when we first moved in some 25 years ago. We removed a few more floorboards so we could see the layout of the existing pipework under the floor. Whilst taking some of the stripped-out timber downstairs to where we are storing it in the cellar I noticed some of the wood was damp. Fearing the worse I thought the wet room floor was leaking for it is directly above this room. I set the shower to cold water flow and switched it on whilst E watched for leaks. Sure enough there was a slight leak around the hole in the wooden floor around the drain assembly! I took the removable part of the grid out so I could to assess the problem. The drain was full of water as you might expect as it effectively a water trap but that water level is well below where the leak was found so it had to be the grid. Now the outer square of that grid is well sealed to the floor tiles so the leak had to be around the removable circular centre. I spent a few minutes applying some grout on the underside and around the top and hopefully that will cure the problem. So the shower is out of use for 48 hours from the time of writing this on Monday evening. When we first used the shower a few days ago we saw no leaks at all.
Someone telephoned me on my mobile phone asking me why my house phone wasn’t working. I tried to call home from my mobile phone and true enough it wasn’t working. E did the same but she took the phone out of the room and dialed 1471 (which is the number we use to find out the identity of the last caller here in the UK). The phone sprang back to life! Meanwhile my mobile phone started playing up. It does this occasionally for no apparent reason but I think it is because it is essentially a computer and the software is the problem. Anyway, switching it off completely then re-booting it solves the problem. If it isn’t one thing it’s another!
Like most people these days I receive a lot of junk mail through the letter box and in my Email in-boxes. I receive unwanted and unsolicited phone calls, text messages offers from companies wanting to sell me something. I get very annoyed with it all. I don’t want to be bothered with such things but find it difficult to end it all. When I receive unsolicited Emails I tag them and add their senders address to the Spam folder, which by now must be very full indeed! However I have discovered that the sender often has many addresses by which they send out their persistent junk. Nevertheless they all get binned and marked as spam. Unsolicited calls to my land-line phone are all blocked by and large but I still get cold calls from genuine businesses such as Yellow Pages wanting me to advertise in their pages. I keep telling them not to call again but it falls on deaf ears so now I just put the phone down as soon as I know who it is calling. ‘Good morning, how are you today?’ doesn’t cut it with me for I know what is coming next. It is somewhat more difficult to block calls on my mobile phone but I am able to block phone numbers using my security software program that I have installed on it. One snag though is that I have to know whose phone number it is before I block it which means I normally have to accept it the first time. With snail mail, that is junk posted through my letter box, I either send it back to the sender or put it directly into the paper waste bin unread. If I haven’t asked for the literature then it should be obvious to those who send it that I don’t want it but it is assumed that I will automatically be interested! I do not wish to be pestered by special offers, great deals, free gifts if I spend some money or anything else. If I am pestered by advertisements they automatically put me off buying from the sender or if I am approached in a store by some eager-to-please staff member I reject the offer of assistance unless I want it. Please leave me alone to make decisions for myself. I have a mouth, I am able to speak, I am able to ask questions if it is my wish to do so thank you very much. Be warned therefore, if I didn’t ask for it I probably don’t want it, no, I definitely don’t want it because you are pestering me!
On my way back home with E after the long weekend break we had taken in Brighton on the south coast and to meet with friends I sat in the train carriage admiring the scenery. Many of my travelling companions were surfing the Internet on their mobile phones and tablet computers or playing games on them. Some were trying to catch a few minutes of sleep but very few seemed to be looking out of the window at the passing scenery. I could have followed suit but I would rather watch the scenery. I left my tablet computer in my suitcase and only touched my phone when I wanted to check the time. Everywhere we went in Brighton we saw people on their phones and I estimated at least 60% were doing so. It seems to be an absolute necessity, an obsession for many to spend hour after hour locked into this electronic technological phenomena. I get the feeling that those using the technology often do not realise just how much time they actually spend ‘twiddling’ their thumbs on such devices. Whatever happened to simply admiring life all around us, the scenery, the people and places we find ourselves in either accidentally or purposely? I digress. I was looking out of the window and every so often would see a canal, a river or a pond. Nothing remarkable in that you might say but what made it a little more fascinating for me was the fact that many of these stretches of water seemed to be sloping just like the land in which they were seen. I saw fields on hillsides sloping down to the train tracks and the water on these fields appeared to be doing exactly the same! An optical illusion of course unless somebody has invented a way for water to slope like the ground. Time passed by rather quickly as I watched the ever-changing scene through the carriage window. There is always something to see, always something to catch the imagination, old buildings, green fields and hills, animals, motorways and highways, rivers, streams, canals, bridges and tunnels and monuments of all kinds. I never get bored watching the life all around me. There is a slippery slope to oblivion for those who let life slip by because of some electronic gadgetry. Theirs is a life of virtual reality but I prefer mine real!