Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I've had a nice but busy couple of days interspersed with periods of sheer exasperation. Sunday the Husband, Stepdaughter and myself drove up to Cambridge to see the Stepson who is a second year student reading History at the University. Usually we use the park and ride system, parking the car on the outskirts of the city and taking a bus to the center - a very efficient way of visiting Cambridge, the majority of which was, of course, built before the arrival of motor cars. It is, therefore, next to impossible to park in the city. However we discovered that the park and ride system doesn't work on a Sunday and so we were forced to drive into the city and after driving around for ages we finally found a car park above a brand new shopping complex, the only problem being that the car park closes at 6.00 pm, thus restricting our time in Cambridge. Fortunately we knew that the Stepson had to go to a Formal in the evening so we were not too disappointed at the reduction of the time spent with him.

We had a good day together having lunch at Browns, the restaurant to go to at Cambridge for families visiting their undergraduate sons and daughters. They serve very good English food in generous portions - the starter was as big as a main course in many restaurants so by the time we'd had three courses plus wine and coffee I was absolutely stuffed. It was worth it though. Then we went back to the Stepson's room for a couple of hours. It's a fair size room and all his College's accommodation is in a very good part of the city: if they had been in private ownership they would go for a very fair price. We got back and out of the car park exactly at 6.00pm, talk about by the skin of our teeth.

The Husband gave me an iPod and I spent the rest of Sunday evening and most of Monday trying to get it to appear in iTunes. I had to update the iTunes software and install and reinstall the iPod software several times and fiddle around with them and the computer for hours. Most frustrating. It finally downloaded some things at 10.00 pm on Monday evening. This morning I Downloaded more, although it takes a bit of fiddling to get it to work.

The Husbands immediate reaction, when I originally mentioned that I'd like an iPod was to think it wouldn't be of any real value. However he did give me one. Then when I played some of the first pieces of music I downloaded onto it he was clearly liked the quality of sound from it. It ended up with him plugging the iPod into his (incredibly good and expensive) hi-fi system and he was impressed with the results. He also bought some cables to connect the iPod to the smaller systems in the kitchen and study. It has excellent sound, though it looks odd to see the tiny box plugged into a large hi-fi system and the huge volume of sound coming out. Anyway I wanted it so I could listen to Audio books as the varifocals I wear make it impossible to read in bed. It will also be something to listen to on the train, when visiting my mother. Or in the gym (the trainer has now increased my session to an hour. I am still sore from the first new session I did on Monday.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Yesterday on the 6.00 pm news the BBC announced a way for people to help in the prediction of climate change, to add a programme to their own computers and let them work away at a part of the problem whenever the computers are not actually working. Well I have had the same type of programme on my p.c. before, once on an experiment connected, I think, to SETI and then afterwards one connected on some sort of medical programme. So I had no hesitation in Downloading the BBC programme so that it could work away in the background of my p.c. whenever it was on and I could feel I was helping, in at least a minor way. Big mistake. Immediately my computer began to play up very badly and to work incredibly slowly. A Defrag didn't help either. This morning it took almost 45 minutes for the computer to be turned on completely. So I deleted the BBC programme from my system and immediately it began to work properly again. It's still working all right. So I would just say with any programme like that one Beware, and if it doesn't work be prepared to get rid of it. Like most people I'd like to find someway to help, however small, obviously this wasn't it.

I'm spending a lot of time at the moment soothing the fevered brow - the Husband has flu, badly. He really is feeling poorly.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Submerged in Books

Part of the big bookcase in my study. If you look closely you can see the black covers of three other large "In Death" paperbacks in the bottom left-hand corner of the picture. No room for the new one there, though. Oh, and there is a shelf above this lot I just couldn't fit into the picture.

I've reached the stage now that I have no more room to store new books. Every bookcase in the place is absolutely packed with them and I try to hide the fact that there are now piles of the things surreptitiously hidden wherever I can find space. And still I buy them. A trip on my own to St Thomas' Hospital in London last Thursday gave me the afternoon free, and thus an opportunity to visit some of my favourite bookshops in Charing Cross Road. I bought only three books, all paperbacks but two of those are the big sized ones. One of them was "Memory in Death" by J D Robb which was published in the UK on 2nd February but it took me a week of searching bookshops until I found a copy in Murder One. I don't particularly like visiting Murder One since it moved premises as it is now in such cramped accommodation that one feels almost claustrophobic in there. But I knew it was virtually the only place I would be able to find it. And I did. And it was one of the best in the "In Death" series. Now I have the problem of where to put the book until the next time I read it.

Yes, I do reread the books I buy, some of them again and again. The fiction ones tend to range from whodunnits, some thrillers, vampires, some straight romances, some sci-fi and fantasy, Terry Pratchett (a class of their own) Phillippa Gregory's historicals and straight "women's books" and I chose what next to read according to how I feel at the time. Then there are the non-fiction ones which include gardening books, crafts (sadly neglected at the moment) some travel and, of course, cookery books. These have a bookcase of their own and I have still run out of room for them. I now have been forced to have a run of cookery books next to the bookcase that they would be in if there was any room. My argument with these is, of course, that I do use them "and here is a recipe from the book for your lunch". (Let him get out of that argument easily!)

I am stuck. I just cannot get rid of most of my books (I still regret parting with "I Capture the Castle" and must replace it as I want to read it again). And so many good new ones are still being published, especially by some of my favourite authors (Terry Pratchett, J D Robb, Mary Janice Davidson, Catherine Aird, Lillian Jackson Braun,.... the list just goes on and on....) and I just cannot not have them. So the walls of the house are beginning to groan and the numbers of books increase.

Perhaps there should be an organisation like AA called BookBuyers Anonymous. I'd certainly join.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Customer Service of MovieMars Inc is dreadful

Just before my accident I had some problems with a box set of DVDs that I bought as an Amazon.co.uk Marketplace purchase (i.e. from a US company selling through Amazon.co.uk). The whole situation is self-explanatory from the exchange of e-mails on the subject and so just read below:-

From: "Movie Mars, Inc."
Sent: Thursday, December 15, 2005 8:29 PM
Subject: Your Amazon Marketplace Order Has Shipped!
Good News!!
Thank you for your recent MovieMars.com order through Amazon.
Your item(s) left our warehouse today and shipped to.....

To: "Movie Mars, Inc."
Sent: Tuesday, January 03, 2006 3:10 PM
Subject: Re: Your Amazon
Marketplace Order Has Shipped!
The DVD Box Set "Nero Wolfe, Series 2" ordered from you on 10 December 2005 was received by me today. As expected I had to pay Customs charges of £8.54 on the parcel. I was, therefore, particularly disappointed to discover that one of the five discs in the box set was not Disc 3 of the Nero Wolfe Series but instead a disc of "Jeeves and Wooster, Second Season" (AAE - 70213). The Nero Wolfe discs included in the box set are numbered AAE - 70890, 70891, 70893 and 70888.
I have attached three photos to demonstrate both the mistake and the fact that I have yet to remove the plastic covering to the box set. I look forward to hearing from you forthwith just how this error can be rectified quickly and at no further cost to myself.

From: CustomerService at MovieMars>
Sent: Tuesday, January 03, 2006 3:21 PM
Subject: Movie Mars, INC. has received your email...
One of our Customer Service representatives will respond to you within 24 business hours.> > We appreciate your business!

To: Customer Service at Moviemars
Sent: Sunday, January 08, 2006 6:21 PM
Subject: Re: Movie Mars, INC. has received your email...
Although you sent me this note on Tuesday stating that you would send me a reply within 24 hours I have yet to receive a full reply from you.

From: CustomerService at MovieMars
Sent: Sunday, January 08, 2006 6:21 PM
Subject: Movie Mars, INC. has received your email...
One of our Customer Service representatives will respond to you within 24 business hours.> > We appreciate your business!

(No Further Response.)

From: Amazon.co.uk
Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2006 11:57 AM
Your Amazon.co.uk A-to-z Guarantee Claim
Dear ......
Greetings from Amazon.co.uk. We are sorry that you are having problems with this order. This e-mail confirms that an Amazon.co.uk A-to-z Guarantee claim has been filed for order #.... because the item you received had missing parts/components............

From: "Amazon.co.uk Payments"
Sent: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 10:13 AM
Subject: Refund Confirmation
Amazon Payments has refunded the amount of £45.75 from moviemars-uk to your credit card, for the full or partial total of order ..... Please find the reasons behind these actions outlined below.
Item: Refund for Nero Wolfe: The Complete Second Season (REGION 1) (NTSC)
[DVD] Refund: £45.75
Reason for refund: Other
Memo from seller: Amazon issued merchant-to-buyer A-Z Guarantee refund

Lessons I have learnt from this experience:-

1) If buying from an overseas company do it through Amazon.co.uk so that you have the weight of the company's guarantee behind you. Their service in this matter was excellent; and

2) The mistake was really obvious and must have been seen by the person picking/packaging the DVD box set that was sent to me. Then the company ignored my attempts to resolve the problem. So, everyone must make their own minds up about buying from this company but I won't be doing so again.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I may not be able to do any knitting at the moment but I can certainly enjoy this.