“Unable to connect at this time. Please try again later.” - this message is getting more and more irritating to me, as my 3 phone is starting to pop up this message with increasing regularity whenever I try to make a call. I’m connected to the 3-network with full coverage, and find myself unable to make a call for an extended period of time during which time I am presented with this message. You’re also not able to send SMS messages either. Switching off the phone and having it re-register on the network sometimes helps, but is also not a guaranteed solution. I AM able to make calls to the 3 support line during this time, but not any other times, so my handset is working time. Brilliant work, 3!
Archive for the ‘London’ Category
Well, everyone in London would have encountered the Oyster card. It’s a pre-pay card onto which you can load pre-pay credit, from which the appropriate charge will be deducted every time you make a journey, or you can load a weekly or monthly pass onto it, which you can use to make as many journeys as you need to, for the zones that you bought it for. The card can have both the pass and credit loaded onto it, so that if you make a journey outside of the zones covered by your pass, it will automatically charge the appropriate amount for the journey outside of the zone. This all sounds like a great idea, but there are several things you should be aware of.
First of all, I was surprised to note that the oyster card was introduced without seeming to cause any ripple at all among privacy advocates (or not one that was vocal enough to be heard). EVERY single journey that you make using your oyster card is logged and saved by Transport for London. They have actually said that they will have no problem sharing this information with any law-enforcement agencies. Which brings up the question: “Sed Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custudios” — “Who watches the watchers”? Any London-underground ticket person can call up a history of your past 10 journeys. (This is also available to you from the double-width Oyster-recharge machine as well). They don’t need you to do anything except give them the card. Actually, with a scanner slightly more powerful than the current Oyster-card readers, someone walking past you can read this information off your card!
The other point of my writing this was to express my frustration at the lack of functionality of what one would expect such a system to have. Initially, you could only purchase student-discounted travelcards for your Oystercard only from a counter. After a few months, it did become possible to renew your pass from the standard Oyster-recharge terminals. But, you still cannot recharge a student travelcard online. And also not via phone. And standard non-discounted travelcard users can only recharge via phone 24-hours in advance, and need to collect the recharge from a Tube station counter. So if you happen to use the DLR for the first stretch of your journey, as I do, then you run into some problems.
Well, plenty of room for improvement still there.
Sarah pointed out this list compiled by The Guardian, which ranks the Computer Science Department at King’s College as #1! An extract from the Guardian site regarding how this information was compiled:
The tables are compiled in association with the Guardian by Campus Pi, an applied research department at Brunel University. The rankings are compiled from official information published on universities and higher education colleges. The scores are derived from figures published or provided by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).
Two consultations with academic institutions have taken place. One, feedback on subject areas listed for institutions; the other feedback on HESA data. All universities have, therefore, had the chance to check their data, but we will make any further necessary changes to our table online.
Found two different events happening in London, which I might be interested in taking part in. Ewan is planning a journey on the Tube which will take him through all the stations in Zone 1. This is probably happening Friday July 30th, after which he’ll leave for Edinburgh.
The other is an inaugural event at supposedly London’s First i-Pod Music Club, where they’re having an iMix-iDance-iParty
on August 7th. You can bring your i-Pod along, and they’ll let you play 15-minutes of music off of it.
Well, today’s been a full day. Naza successfully defended his thesis, and we went out celebrating with him. Plus Jan was visiting from Germany, and we went to see the Jerry Springer Opera, before joining Naza again for his celebrations.
I was on the train going home last evening, when I noticed a woman who seemed to be talking to herself enter the train. She sat down in front of me, and continued talking, at which point I noticed the hands-free kit that she was using. What’s unusual about this, you might ask…, well, it’s the way that this woman spoke. I know that Italians have a reputation for using a lot of body language when speaking to someone - well, this woman outdid any Italian I’ve seen. She was a very expressive woman, and while she’s speaking on the hands-free kit, she’s waving and moving her hands about, trying to make her conversation clearer to the other party!
Reminds me of this joke:
How do you get an Italian to shut up?
You tie down their arms!
Every culture has something that they seem obsessed about, and for the Brits, it seems to be fire. Or rather, preventing fire. Of course, given history and the Great Fire of London back in September 1666, they have a reason to worry - but are they carrying it to extremes?
Everywhere you go, you see large fire-doors, clearly marked as “Fire doors” in case you would happen to miss such an obvious fact. Fire extinguishers, fire hoses, fire exits, you name it, London’s got it.
There’s also the habit of the irregular fire drills. I’m not saying that this is bad - except that they manage to pick the most awkward times to do the drills. A friend once had cycled to college in the pouring rain, had changed into fresh, dry clothes he’d brought with him, and had been downstairs when the fire-alarm went off. And here he was, out in the rain again, getting drenched - in the dry clothes which he’d been looking forward to wearing when he got to college, out of the rain.
The college also has fire-hoses located strategically all over the building - the only problem is, almost ALL of these hoses which I’ve seen over the past few days have had an “Out of Order - Do not use” sign posted on them!
I’m always seeing things in London that I think are totally daft, but this really takes the cake. A few months ago, Canary Wharf closed off the route many people normally take to travel to and from the tube station, and made an alternate route available, which takes one through the foyer of a building.
This building of course had doors - nice revolving ones; actually, AUTOMATED revolving doors - they turn by themselves, and their speed can’t be influenced by anyone pushing any harder. The only problem was that they turned WAY too slowly, so people got frustrated crawling through these instead of passing/walking through in a second as is usual. So you’d see the these doors spinning by themselves, as a steady stream of people headed for the constantly open emergency exits - causing a nice draught to go through the entire building (which is actually the reason for revolving doors - revolving doors were installed in skyrise buildings initially because of the problems with a draught with any other kind of door). Plus, on an extremely windy night, the building would be completely empty, but you’d see the force of the wind setting off the doors, and they’d be spinning in a ghostly manner, with not a soul in sight.
Whoever owns the building did take the hint, though, so they removed the motors, and the doors were then normal revolving doors - push to revolve.
Any praise people had for this change quickly disappeared, as a week later the people noticed that the doors were spinning by themselves again - although this time the doors were indeed moving much faster than earlier. This seemed like a step in the right direction, except that people quickly found out the hard way that the doors had a habit of stopping while people were still inside them, causing them to bang painfully against the doors. Plus, you never knew if the doors were in fact working, but waiting stopped, or if the doors were not working at all. Pushing on the door to activate the door usually took it few seconds to start spinning again. You can imagine what happened next - the doors were again left unused, and the emergency doors were constantly open.
A few weeks later, there were notes posted up saying “Please use the revolving doors” - and as one approached them - lo and behold - the doors would start spinning without you even touching them. They had finally installed proximity sensors, and the doors would keep on turning until it knew everyone was clear.
It’s been some weeks now, and everyone is still using the revolving doors. Whether it’s due to them finally working properly, or people just having plain given up, I don’t know. But this story makes me recall the doors with their pleasing disposition from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”.
Let’s see how long this continues, before they decide to tinker with the doors again….
Just a blurb about what a hub London truly is. I was thinking back about how many friends happened to pass through Munich and met, vs. the number of people who I know that have been through London, and that London is definitely a much more popular place for that. Unless you have a taste for beer and want to experience the Oktoberfest, not many people care for Munich - which is a shame actually, since it’s such a nice small town.
I’ve found that my initiative to go out visiting and sightseeing in London itself has been very much lower than what I had when I moved to Munich, partly because things here were so busy for me as I arrived. I still play the tourist part when I go elsewhere, of course, but London itself still has so many things that I am yet to experience and see. It’s mostly because of friends who come visit London that I end up seeing things now. I’ve been here close to a year and a half now, but it’s only about 2 weeks ago that I first went up in the London Eye.
Time to be more pro-active, and start doing things.