Wednesday, July 18, 2007

is there such a thing as free line rental?

so i’m trying to track down a new mobile phone (that’s cell phone for my u.s. readership) as the blessing of having a work mobile for the past four years has now passed.

now there are hundreds of wonderful sounding deals available. as operators compete for loyal customers (when i say ‘loyal’ i of course mean ‘tied into a 12 month contract’) they are prepared to dangle lures of all shapes and sizes in front of people: half price line rental for x months; free iPod nano; free Wii; free nintendo DS; free iPod shuffle; auto cashback; free line rental; minimal line rental; the list goes on.

this article offers some sound advice in making sense of the deals.

three points from the article, and one from me for free:
  • choose the right phone. this is where i need mrs hope’s objectivity to balance out my male gadget-addiction. the old ‘nice-to-have’ vs. ‘need-to-have’ tension; answers on a postcard please!
  • work out the cost of the entire contract. yep - sit down with an old fashioned pen and paper, and do the sums. you may find some of those half-price rentals aren’t as cheap as they first appeared.
  • pay close attention to any special terms and conditions relating to the free offer. are the t’s and c’s easy to find on the website? warning bells should ring if they are buried in small print. take thorough notes, and use a diary to warn yourself of applicable deadlines.
  • check out the company’s reputation among existing customers. a quick search through financial advice forums should give you a reasonable idea of how reputable your potential phone supplier is in following through on their promises.
personally, i'm leaning towards established household names at the moment.  but i'd be interested to hear if anyone has had a positive experience with one of these zero-cost-lots-of-hoops deals (as i have my eye on a really slick phone i can't quite justify to mrs hope!).

Monday, July 16, 2007

all apart from the sleeping on the ground bit...

we've just returned, like drowned rats, from three days camping on the gower peninsula in wales.  the weather was ... mixed.  we pitched our tent on thursday night and it began to rain in the wee small hours (ask the local hedgehog population why i happened to be awake at the time) and continued to rain until saturday morning.  not a drizzly rain, not showery rain, but an incessant, driving rain that crept in the seams and vents, and soaked through clothes in minutes, that ran from your waterproof jacket onto your legs.

it stopped for saturday, and began again on sunday morning - just when we had to break camp and return to bristol.

sincere thanks must go to ralph and rach for their huge tent though - it made being stuck inside for 18 hours straight bearable.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

echoes of the future

click on 'post options' (bottom left of thetext entry box)

locate the 'post time and date' details (bottom right of the box)

mistakenly assume that the date format is british (dd/mm/yy)

enter 8th july 2007, and hey presto, you've posted in the future, because the format is american (mm/dd/yy)

p.s. 'how to do pathos' has been recalled from the 8th august to it's proper place of 9th july.  i clearly made another mistake when i posted in august... if i'd been awake it would have been september!

Monday, July 09, 2007

how to do pathos

i quite fancy a rambling blog entry here, so if you're after the answer to the above, skip the next few paragraphs and head straight for the pellucid summary at the end. ( you'll miss out on the back-story of postal dvd-renting, how the TV licensing people make you feel really trustworthy, and a teeny film review.

a few years back, i signed myself and mrs hope up for postal dvd renting - with screenselect i believe.  we had cash to splash in those days, and enjoyed the novelty of wondering what film would be chosen, from our shortlist, for our viewing pleasure.  screenselect briefly masqueraded as sainsbury's, or tesco (can't remember now), and after riding on their coat-tails for a few months, got swallowed up by LOVEFiLM and hiked their prices up.  whereupon we checked out - as we weren't watching that many films anyway.  also, in my attempts for selecting the coolest shortlist of films possible, i had a staggering 60 or 70 films on it which meant we were getting some rather obscure art-house titles instead of mrs hope's preferred blockbusters.

having ditched our subscription, we realised that our TV licence was up for renewal at the end of the month. after a brief evaluation of how much TV we were watching ("I'm a Celebrity..." had just sucked us into its candy-floss-world-of-tat once again) we decided to ditch the TV, relegating all related equipment to the cellar in case the lovely TV licensing people came to call.  a month later, while we were still recovering from the shock of no TV (we'd gone cold turkey - not even watching the final of Celebrity after our licence expired), a sturdy brown envelope dropped through our letterbox... a check-up from the TVL folk.  although they trusted our disclosure that we had got rid of our TV, they clearly were into giving people second chances...

"Our experience has shown that a small but significant minority of people who tell us that they do not need a TV Licence, are found to require one when visited...  we hope to identify all such evaders and we can also ensure that those who, like yourself, legitimately need no contact from Television Licensing are not troubled unnecessarily in the future."

judging by the excuses they receive from some members of the public, who can blame them for their graceful approach!

dvds on the laptop were the solution we came up with, and having been pestered by marketing emails from LOVEFiLM, we relented and renewed our subscription. last month we watched the 2004 remake of the manchurian candidate, which i new was about mind control stuff, but have always thought it was based in china (from the title?). i was really sucked into the story by some wonderful actors and sensitive direction.  liev schreiber, denzel washington and meryl streep were spot on in how they worked out their characters.  the only flaw in the film was the scratch on the dvd that caused a glitch during the polling scene - not sure there could be a worse place to have an interruption - but even that didn't prevent the film building to an appropriately dramatic finish.  how to do pathos?  liev schreiber. 

according to the PersonalDNA test, i am a:
hover your pointer over each colour to gaze into my soul; i'm amused that my 'stereotypically-feminine' traits out-score my 'stereotypically-masculine' traits by 72 to 68!  

this is one of the neatest interfaces for a personality test i've seen, and by far and away the best presentationof results. also, has the fantastic possible response to the statement: "I always notice what people are wearing", of: "People wear things?" 

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

cottage fallout

the log fire was every bit as impressive as i'd hoped.  it was enormous and, aesthetic reasons aside, we had a fire going for most of the weekend to dry clothes (not everyone was as sensible as i was in staying indoors... odd).

other striking features were:

(i) the gargantuan house spider that lodged above the bathroom mirror; 

(ii) the record player that came with johnny cash and bob dylan's complete catalogues, miscellaneous 80's hits, and welsh choral music - there is something about vinyl that gets you involved in the music (especially when some of the group had never seen a record player before);

(iii) second breakfasts and second dinners - which meant one could dispense with lunch and get away with cake and biscuits all afternoon quite comfortably.  first breakfast was also optional for the early-risers of the group (unsurprisingly those who also thought venturing 'outside' was a good thing); and

(iv) the amazing amount of dust that was in, on, around, and under, everything.