Monthly Archives: July 2007

The new BBQ

Here are some pictures of the new BBQ cooking its first dinner. At the back of the BBQ are chicken wings in a spicy sauce, then vegetable kebabs and at the front lamb koftas on skewers. Jacket potatoes are in the overhead rack. My wife couldn’t resist showing off her BBQ skills!

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VOIP

It’s now 4 months since I bought a Fritz!Box router with VOIP capability which seamlessly integrates the VOIP and regular telephone networks. Since setting the system up I’ve cut the cost of our calls (both BT and mobile) to next to nothing! So long as I don’t exceed a total of 300 minutes (5 hours!) per week it is absolutely free to call, not even a connection charge, to landlines in the UK and these countries:-

Argentina
Australia
Austria
Belgium
Canada
Chile
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Hong Kong (+mobile)
Iceland
Ireland
Italy
Japan
Liechtenstein
Luxembourg
Malaysia
Monaco
Netherlands
New Zealand
Norway
Portugal
Puerto Rico (+mobile)
Russian Federation
Singapore (+mobile)
South Korea
Spain
Sweden
Taiwan
United States (+mobile)

Which basically, for us, only leaves 0870, 0845 and calls to Zimbabwe as being chargeable. Even these calls are at low rates, Zimbabwe is 3.2p/min, 0870 is 8.0p/min and 0845 is 3.2p/min. These rates are with VoipStunt. The only catch, if you can call it catch, is that you must buy a minimum of €10 credit, this credit is then used for those calls which are chargeable, but so long as you remain in credit you get the free calls for 4 months. In our case we use up the credit by calling Zimbabwe but even if you never made a chargeable call the cost of the free calls will only have been the value of the unused credit equal to €2.50 per month!!

The beauty of the Fritz!Box is that it makes the whole thing work on the ordinary phones in your house. My Fritz!Box has a digital cordless phone plugged into it. So we are able to pick up any phone in the house and simply dial the number we want, the Fritz!Box takes care of whether it uses the BT line (eg 999 will go via BT) or the VOIP network which covers almost everything else. Incoming calls ring the phones as usual.

Call through is also possible with the Fritz!Box whereby I ring my VOIP number at home from my mobile, the Fritz!Box knows my mobile number and detects it, the Fritz!Box answers with a tone and I dial a 4 digit password after which I get dial tone and can then make a call. This means that using inclusive minutes on my mobile I’m actually able to call the USA, France, Italy etc. at no cost. Or, calling Zimbabwe from my mobile at 3.2p/min. Beat that!

I’ve used adapters in the past to make VOIP calls and the call quality has been variable. With the Fritz!Box every call is a clear as if I’d dialled using the BT line, this is because it will reduce the bandwidth being used for anything else which is going on at the same times athe call. For example file downloads will be slowed to allow the phone call to maintain top quality. VOIP is the future of telecoms.

Thanks ar$&^ole!

Yes, you the pillock in a red wreck of a car on the A31 at Ringwood last night. If you wanted to take the Poulner exit why overtake me a few yards before it? You must have seen that I had my right hand indicator on because I wanted to move over one lane to overtake the car in front. Yet you wouldn’t allow me to move over and insisted on overtaking me. Then you slam on your brakes hard enough to nearly lock your wheels as you pull into the space between me and the car I want to overtake, because if you didn’t you’d miss your exit.

A new BBQ

Finally bit the bullet and splashed out on a new BBQ today. It’s a Weber E210 and cost far more than a BBQ should :-( I’ve used gas BBQ’s for years now and each time I need to replace one I spend a bit more. The first was a B&Q, or Homebase, own brand which lasted only a couple of years before rusting away, bought a second one which lasted a similar time, I then bought a more expansive Outback which lasted about 5 years before rusting away which brings us to now and the Weber. The reason I get through BBQ’s at a fast rate is that I use them year round. They are located outside the backdoor and I use them almost as often as I use the regular cooker – even did the Christmas bird in it one year (they are lidded and can therefore be used for roasting). A gas BBQ can also come close to being a tandoor – close the lid, turn everything up to full and leave for 15 minutes. The temperature will rise well above anything you can generate in a regular oven and tandoori chicken cooks beautifully – black bits on the outside but cooked and still moist meat. It’s being delivered on Tuesday morning. Here’s what it looks like.

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193 duty again!

How the 4 weeks between each 193 duty seem to fly!

As you may recall this is a Park + Ride duty which is OK during the week but truly awful on a Saturday when a totally different type of customer uses the service. My first circuit left the car park at 08:40 and as soon as I arrived at the car park I was greeted with “When did the parking price to park go up to £2.70?”. “Sorry, I’ve no idea. It’s been that price as long as I’ve been doing this”. “But I don’t have change and the machine doesn’t give change. Can you change a £5 note?”. “Sorry, I can’t. I’ve only got a few 10p’s and 20p’s”. “Why don’t you have change for the machine!”. “I don’t have change specifically for the machine because the bus company are nothing to do with the Council who operate the car park. Secondly, nearly everyone who uses the bus is a car park user and travels free. The only people who pay, hop on and off in town, for a 40p fixed fare. I don’t take £5 during a whole duty that’s why I don’t have £5 in change before I even start my first trip”. “I going to write to the council and complain”. “Yes, and I’m going to write about you in my blog!” (no, I didn’t say that but it would have been fun!).

On the next circuit I’m leaving the car park when a passenger ran up the aisle shouting “stop the bus”. Seems she left ‘something important’ in her car and needs to retrieve it. Then she says “Could you drive me back?”. Drive her back! I’d first need to go 75% of the way into the town to a roundabout enabling me to go back, if I did this I’d end up behind the bus after me when I’d get to leave the car park second time round. So the answer was “No” and I didn’t have time to explain why.

Circuits 3, 4 , 5 ……. every one of them I think, produced at least one passenger getting on and then saying my husband/wife is just buying a ticket. They think that they’ve seized control of the bus by standing at the front saying that (like a hijack). And then expect the bus to wait while the parking ticket is bought, taken back to the car and placed on the dashboard, the car is locked, and then they walk to the bus. It doesn’t work on my bus! I politely say my departure time is less than 1 minute away and I’ll be leaving on time so as to keep the service running smoothly. They can either come with me now, and their spouse follow a few minutes later on the next bus, or perhaps they’d both like to travel together on the next bus. I don’t think they believe me until the door starts closing on time whilst the spouse is still strolling back to the car to place the ticket!

Then there was the non-car park passenger who wanted to go two stops and therefore needed to pay the 40p fare ……. with a £20 note! I apologised for not having change and suggested he took the next bus which came along (he was at the railway station which sees a bus every minute or two, all going into town). No, he was adamant he wanted to stay on my bus for his 2 stop journey. So I then explained that he couldn’t travel for free, I couldn’t give him change and his only option was to accept a change voucher. “What’s that?”. I went in to the usual explanation that it’s an IOU from the company and can be changed for cash on any other Stagecoach bus or at the bus station. “But if you haven’t got change why should any other bus driver have change?”. At this point I’m losing the will to live. “Because they sell tickets costing £’s not pence, they sell daily tickets and weekly tickets, their passengers pay for travel unlike 98% of those on a Park + Ride bus”. He then agreed to accept a change voucher. It’s taken so long for all of this that 2 ‘regular’ buses he could have used have passed me and the Park + Ride bus after me has caught up with me and is sitting behind. Aaaaaaaaaaaarghg!!!! Nurse ….. nurse, my medication please!.