No good deed goes unpunished

Or

Reporting gas and water leaks in Victoria

So I try to be a good citizen in the state I live. And by that I mean, if I see an obvious issue, I try to help. So for example, I gave first aid a couple of years ago to a bike rider who’d been hit by a car. More recently I saw an old man wandering around in his pyjamas, so called the police then an ambulance.

Today I tried to report a gas leak. Continue reading “No good deed goes unpunished”

Well, that was fast

Further to the recent (as in 30 minutes old) post about TrueLocal, I received this email from the review team regarding the changes to my account.

We regret to inform you that you can't control your account. At all.
We regret to inform you that you can’t control your account. At all.

The text reads:

Your Business Name change has been declined

Our moderation team has reviewed your Business Name change for Tall Poppy Digital to:

Unhappy account holder

Unfortunately, your change did not meet TrueLocal requirements because:

We have been unable to verify that the supplied name is for the business

As a result, your listing has not been updated. However, you are welcome to resubmit your request.

There’s really no surprises here. TrueLocal forces you to keep your listing running so they receive hits on their site from anyone stupid enough to click through. By disallowing you from removing the account, you’re forced to keep details up-to-date.

Ultimately this business model preys on unwary and inexperienced web users.

Truelocal is barely Google Lite

TrueLocal is an online directory service, run by Sensis (which owns a number of old-school services such as Yellow Pages and Trading Post). As a service, it’s pretty poor, a throwback to the early days of the web and while not quite a Link Farm, certainly there’s an uncontrollable element to the whole thing. Continue reading “Truelocal is barely Google Lite”

Review: Car hire with [car rental place]

You know, when I go to [car rental place] in Melbourne, I don’t have high expectations. I’m usually hiring a vehicle to move something from point A to point B, and I’m not after luxury. So when I hired a van to move a mattress from Thornbury down to Dingley today, I initially didn’t mind the condition of the van I eventually hired.

To be honest, it wasn’t going to win any awards for Best of Show.

The huge dents would act as a reminder to other drivers to keep their distance. The smashed-in vents and the dodgy paintwork served to show the age of the vehicle.

This was effectively a tin-can on wheels, and was at times as deafening as a tractor to drive.

The worn seatbelt did give me pause to consider. But, I thought to myself, if it’s this well used, then it must be good quality workmanship. They really don’t know how to make things last these days.

While driving, moving the steering wheel left to right and back again to find that sweet spot where the wheels stayed straight was actually quite invigorating, and made me pay a lot more attention to the road. The gearstick too was an adventure; finding the gears was initially difficult, the same as hacking ones way through the wilderness with nothing but a Swiss Army Knife, but as time passed, I got the hang of it.

Among these great examples of the wares of the [car rental place] franchise, there was one thing which did give me pause for thought, though I hardly like to mention it.

The pro-tip that I can give is that to ensure repeat custom, you shouldn’t rent vehicles that leak carbon monoxide into the cab while the engine is on.

This challenging design issue became evident within about five minutes of driving. I thought it was just a little exhaust from surrounding vehicles. After all, the windows were open. But no, there was a constant stream of CO into the vehicle from either the engine itself, upon which I was sitting (it was the design of the vehicle, rather than a suicidal ideation in my good self), or from a leaky exhaust, coming in from the holes in the back of the van (or the back door itself, to which someone had kindly installed a bolt to hold it shut).

It became immediately clear that leaving the windows open would probably result in my continued survival, and that of my fellow drivers. Indeed, it was only when I approached Dingley that the pervasive smell of the vehicle’s exhaust was, albeit briefly, displaced in favour of the pungent aromas from the local tip. The smell of rotting organic matter (amongst other things) was a reminder that my olfactory senses did indeed work and that I wasn’t going to be smelling exhaust fumes for the rest of my existence.

Perhaps when I return the vehicle tomorrow I’ll get some kind of recompense. In the meantime, rating the vehicle is somewhat difficult. The problem I have is that hiring from this organisation, you are forewarned by their name. In that case, this is a 9/10 for effort. As far as repeat custom is concerned, however, it’ll be a 3/10.

Exercise apps for my iPhone

Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 6.31.11 pmSince going freelance a couple of years ago, the exercise I was getting by riding into town to work has disappeared. In its place has appeared a larger belly and fitness issues.

Fair to say, I’ve gotten somewhat heavier with this hedonistic lifestyle I now live. I get up, I sit at a computer, I write essays for school and other writing for myself and others. Exercise has taken a flying leap, but now has come knocking on my door wondering where the hell I’ve been.

I started exercising recently by simply getting up and going for what I call a RunWalkGasp for an hour. Sometimes I’d stop in a coffee shop for a quick pick-me-up. I’ve gotten fitter doing this but have had no way of ascertaining how much exercise I’ve done, calories or kilojules lost and steps taken.

After admiring my friends fitbit wristband and the lovely graphs it outputs, I thought I’d look into something similar for myself.

The only restriction was cost: on a student income I can barely pay rent; forking-out over $100 for a snazzy wrist-band wasn’t on the cards.

I tried-out two applications to begin with before settling on a far simpler one.

Map My Ride and Runtastic are great applications, with automatic mapping graphs and distance recording. For me though they were over-engineered. I wanted something very simple which I could see what I was doing without having to go through many different tabs and configuration pages. I also didn’t have any interest in competing with anyone else, posting results on social media or chatting with other members of the websites. Both these sites are what I’d term social exercise media.

I decided on Moves because of its very very simple to understand interface. It does a few things really well: it counts calories based on steps taken and distance walked, run or travelled on a bicycle. The data from the app can then be exported to any number of applications where the data is graphed or used in different ways to benefit you (and more likely, the business sucking the info in).

It’s still early-days, but so-far, I quite like Moves, and wish there were more applications like it. You can understand the interface at a glance, without temptation to flick between maps, time and other intricate details of the exercise you’re undertaking. I want to concentrate on what I’m doing to be honest, and move-on when it’s done. For me, exercise is a means to an end, not an end in itself, and I’ve moved-on from my brief flirtation with an exercise obsession, for as good as it felt to be fit, and exercise regularly, I became more tempted to exercise for the high I got rather for the benefit of my body.

So for me, Moves is the answer to my need to get fit and lose weight.

Addendum: Moves was purchased by Facebook last year.