Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

Pain and Joy With JS Taskrunners

Posted: June 20, 2014 in Rants

So let me start out by saying that I love Grunt, Bower & Yeoman: they provide a set of tools that are absolutely brilliant and can make life a lot easier for the developer. I wish they were around when I was writing production level code.

My problem is I’m basically stupid. I’ve wasted more time trying to get a Grunt/Bower/Yeoman scaffolded site running than I would have spent actually writing the damn code for the site. I know the risks of falling down the rabbit hole and trying to do everything with these tools, but I’m not trying to get anything complex done. Just build a set of simple web pages with their associated compass (SASS), JS libraries and files running.

But between figuring out how to swap from SASS to Compass, how to install additional Bower components & get them to appear in the relevant pages as well as having JSHint go bug-fsck over legacy code, it’s not going well.

I’m not sure if the console errors that are now appearing are due to the JS files not being copied across correctly, minified badly, plain not there or is it bad code on my part?

In fact it’s going so badly I’ve actually dropped everything except Bower from the project.

I’ll do it all by hand for now…. maybe the next project I’ll have time to use both Bower & Grunt.


Adventures in HA – House plans

Posted: October 31, 2013 in HA, Rants
Tags: ,

One of the annoying things about playing with HA software is the room plan. Nearly every platform shows a view of some kind where there’s a splendid, full colour, detailed floor plan showing exactly where EVERY fixture and fitting is.


All my attempts fall flat on their faces because I haven’t got the exact dimensions, or time to measure and then manually enter EVERY dimension in some random piece of software. The software also seems to be too simplistic (and won’t let me have non-rectangular rooms) or excessively complex (CAD suites) or bloody expensive.

So far I’m having more success with MagicPlan on the iPad. It at least gives me the basic room shapes and reasonably accurate dimensions. So I can use it to generate something to test on the platforms I’m playing with.

How True

Posted: April 22, 2013 in Rants, Watching
Tags: ,

While cleaning out old emails, I came across this comment that a colleague had found out in the wild and then reposted on an internal blog. It’s dated November 2011 and still seems like nothing has changed:


It’s well into the 21st Century and we’re still using optical storage media. After getting my Logitech Revue (with Google TV) I no longer have any devices capable of playing optical storage media in my living-room.

Any time we buy a DVD/BluRay it gets ripped/encoded and lives on our household NAS. I can watch it on the big TV, I can watch it on my (Linux) PC. I can even transfer it to Mobile/Tablet/Laptop to watch on long journeys.

The only problem with this is content-availability, if its not available to buy in this territory then I’ll buy it from another territory and get it shipped here. If its physically not available to buy, but it can be found on the internet and downloaded within a few minutes i say its fair game.

Organisations like the **AA are just trying to prop up an outdated business model, on the one hand they want content to be legally considered a physical piece of property. You “buy” it, they “sell” it and thus it can conceivably be “stolen”. Under this basis online downloads are correlated as “lost sales”, last time i saw some litigation they’re claiming $3,000 USD per music track.

At the same time, they’re dead-set against the second-hand market, any other physical goods I can sell-on once i no longer need it – but apparently not. In this respect they want content to be considered a “non transferable license” for usage of the media – i.e. you don’t “own” it, possession of the media entitles you a limited license to watch the media.

As one Slashdot commenter noted, “Google, if you’re listening can you just buy the RIAA/MPAA and be done with it?”


If you’re not convinced, try asking one on the film studios for a replacement DVD because the kids have scratched it so badly that it doesn’t work anymore. If it is a “non transferable license” then they should replace it because I bought a license to use the media.

If it’s not a “non transferable license”, they shouldn’t get their knickers in a twist when the original disc gets ripped to a home server to prevent it getting damaged in daily use. As I own the ‘physical’, that means I can do what I want with it.

You can’t have it both ways.

Debenhams Plus

Posted: February 18, 2013 in Rants, Uncategorized

In the unlikely event that you feel the urge to buy white goods from Debenhams Plus ( please don’t.

They have spectacularly dropped the ball on providing working goods and then even being able to provide a replacement. Ordered a washer dryer from them on 23rd January and after providing a machine that had a broken drain pipe I was forced to wait for a Hotpoint engineer to turn up and repair. He then informed me that the machine was basically so badly damaged that it shouldn’t have even left the warehouse, let alone be delivered to a customer.

Replacement was due in 5 working days…. that became 3 weeks, that became unknown…. finally got the hump and cancelled the order.

Ordered machine from John Lewis – came within 3 days. Works. End of.

Irony is, that after all that, it’s not even Debenhams – they basically outsource these things to some ApplianceDirect or ApplianceOnline outfit.

The moral of the story is… although it may be a famous brand on the front – perhaps you should check who actually does the work…..

Broken Droid

Posted: August 24, 2010 in Rants
Tags: ,

So I ordered a new Android phone. The phone was great, the company is bloody awful.

Let me explain. I ordered the phone from a company called ‘Simply Electronics’ through Google checkout. Google reviews gave it 4.5/5 and I had heard good things about them from various other people who had ordered fairly large electrical goods from them in the past.

So I ordered the phone – an HTC WildFire in black. One of the reasons I ordered the phone from them was that they were one of the few UK shops selling the black version of the phone – the brown (sorry Mocha) is OK, but there are about 5 HTC Desire’s in the IT department alone and I wanted a different colour! Vanity I know, but hey 🙂

Anyway they money came off my card almost immediately and I hoped that the ‘1-3 business days’ delivery stated on the website meant that the phone was going to be dispatched that day…. I was wrong….. 4 working days later I sent them an email asking if they had a dispatch date as I was still waiting.

Simply Electronics policy is to ‘answer all emails within 1 working day’….. so the next day I got a reply saying that the standard free deliveries were shipped within 2-5 working days…..and would be dispatched shortly. OK, well today is still day 5 and no sign of my new phone being dispatched…..

On WORKING day 9, I got an email saying my order had been dispatched and here was the City-Link tracking code…… Which didn’t work…

The next day I checked City-Link code again and see that they received the package that day (working day 10) and that it was due to be delivered the next day (working day 11).

City-Link (as usual I have to say) delivered (pun intended) and I was the proud owner of a new black WildFire.

Opening the box to charge the phone revealed a 2 pin charger and a cheap green travel adapter….. Mmm strange, but hey, I was using the USB on the computer, so it didn’t really worry me. I was too busy wanting to play!

So 3 looong hours later it’s charged and I’m ready to boot the phone….. Woo-hoo here we go…. hold on, why can’t I select English as a locale…. the wife’s HTC Tattoo basically let me select English from a selection of European languages…… Why is this only giving me English(Singapore), Vietnamese, squiggle, squiggle and some other languages I can’t remember?

Mmmm well it’s Android, so I’m sure that I just need to change some deep setting…… mmmm can’t find it…. I’m sure it’s not this complex on the Tattoo…. Google has no solution…… Ok, I’ll try and look up the answer on HTC’s website.

Hold on – where’s Navigation…….? Why can’t I undelete the Vietnamese keyboard?


I spent a couple of days with the phone trying to get around the issues, but after an email to HTC customer service it becomes officially apparent that my phone is wrong on nearly every level.

Double bugger.

Time to email Simply Electronics. I explain the problems – no UK charger, no European English, no navigation app – and get told to RMA the product. "I would like to inform you that most of our stock does come from the UK, and some do from other countries." OK, so it’s a Friday evening, I’ll do that tomorrow.

One ‘Special Delivery’ back to Simply Electronics with delivery before 13:00 on Monday.

On Thursday I email them to ask what is happening – the Post Office tracking confirms that the phone was delivered on Monday, but I’ve heard nothing. The bundle was clearly marked as a RMA with the number on the outside and a copy of the paperwork inside, so no excuse as far as I’m concerned.

One working day later they respond asking for the tracking code…… I supply it…… they reply: "Thank you for your email. We have forwarded the info to our return department. Once the item has been received we will inform you accordingly."

Monday (5 working days after delivery!) I get an email:

"This email is to confirm that the returned goods has been received. Please note that the relevant department is arranging the refund for the order. Rest assured that you will receive the funds back to your card as soon as possible."

As it looks like I’m getting a refund and not a black UK version of the phone (not holding my breath for either to be honest!) I started to see if anyone else stocked it. As before I looked at the suppliers I know, but also through Google checkout. Simply Electronics popped up again, still showing 4.5/5, but this time I actually opened the reviews. Going from what I read there, it looks like the 4.5/5 comes from a large legacy of good reviews… everyone seems to be saying much the same thing – ‘great when it works, you’re buggered if it doesn’t. Customer Service sucks and getting money back is difficult’.

I guess the moral of the story is to actually open the reviews and check…. 4.5/5 looks good on the surface, but check what the company is doing NOW, not six months ago.

P.S. I’m still waiting to find out what is happening…. no sign of a refund or a new phone……

Gas Board

Posted: July 26, 2010 in Rants
Tags: ,

You want how much to move my gas meter?? It’s from the inside of the kitchen wall to the outside. I’m not asking it to be gold plated or moved to Mars, it’s a distance of 2 bricks! The damn hole is already there where the gas pipe currently comes in.

£910 for fsck all. You bunch of piss taking con merchants.

As you may have noticed, I’m not amused by this.