Archive for April, 2010

Socially Awkward

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Have you ever been in a situation where you felt really awkward, and you just wanted to be a million miles away from where you were at that very moment?  Well that was my Saturday.

This last weekend I was at Leeds train station, waiting for a train (not train spotting, honest…) .  I had just bought a banana and a blueberry muffin from the Pumpkin Cafe, and I found a seat and sat down and ate them.  As soon as I had finished eating, the guy sitting opposite me started talking to me.

Don’t you hate it when people do that?  I’m not one of those people that can easily engage in conversation with random strangers.  I know some people can talk to anyone, but I can’t.   I think it’s creepy.

So anyway, this wasn’t the first time some random stranger has tried to engage me in conversation at Leeds train station.  Usually some old lady will make a comment about the weather and I’ll smile and agree, and then proceed to stick my headphones on and get out my book called “Please don’t talk to me, can’t you see I’m reading and listening to music in an attempt to avoid human interaction?”

But nothing could have prepared me for the conversation I was about to have.  I kid you not, this is exactly as the conversation went (I’m gonna call the weird scary guy WSG, cos it’s easier to type):

WSG: Are you well?
Me: Excuse me?
WSG: Are you well?
Me: Um, yeah…
WSG: Are you waiting for a train to take you on all sorts of wonderful adventures?
Me: Uh, yeah…
WSG: Is it wrong to people watch?
Me: …I’m sorry what?
WSG: I like to watch the people go about their lives. Is that wrong?
Me: No…

At this point a group of people were walking past to sit down nearby, and I took that as my queue to get the heck out of there. I couldn’t decide whether this guy was genuinely mental, or if he was winding me up. I actually looked around to see if I could see any hidden cameras. There were none, so I decided that I was allowed to be scared.

I waited for my train at the top of the escalator away from the Pumpkin Cafe and the weird scary guy. Naturally he got onto the same train as me but I managed to hide in first class. Some rude old woman was sitting in my seat (I HATE when people do that. Can’t they see the reserved ticket on the seat they’re sitting on? I PAID for that!) and the rest of the train was full to the point that people were standing. So I decided I could sit in first class. It was sweet.

So what is it with people who strike up convos with complete strangers, and ask them weird questions? Why can’t people just leave me alone?

Has anything like this ever happened to you? Leave a comment and tell me. I know you’re out there, my visit stats have rocketed recently due to, well I don’t know why. But I’d love to hear back from whoever is reading this thing.

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Driving Test – Read to find out if I passed…

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You want to know if I passed my driving test yesterday, don’t you?

Well the answer is…

Yes!  Woop woop!  So happy.  I honestly thought I had failed, because we went down a 60 road and there were these little speed signs that said 20mph “loose chippings” and after going 20mph for some time I thought to myself “what speed am I supposed to be going?!”  Turns out the signs were just “advisory” so it didn’t matter.  In total I had 7 minors, a couple were for approaching junctions too quickly and one was for not looking in my mirrors.  I can’t work out what the others were for nothing but they weren’t so serious that the examiner felt he had to say anything afterwards.

I start my Pass Plus next week, which I highly recommend to anyone once they’ve passed their test.  Don’t you think it’s insane, that before I passed my test, I wasn’t allowed to drive on the motorway, even with my instructor in the car, but now that I’ve passed, I’m suddenly allowed to drive on the motorway, on my own, having had no prior experience on motorways at all?   Personally I think Pass Plus should be mandatory.  It’s only 6 hours, there’s no test afterwards and it brings down your insurance a fair whack, which to a new driver is very helpful.

I can’t wait to drive on the motorway, it’s gonna be a blast.  I probably won’t do many more driving posts now that I’ve passed, but if I happen to crash and die on the motorway, I’ll be sure to let you know.  Not too sure how…

Digital Economy Bill

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Bear with me, because up until a couple of hours ago I had never heard of the Digital Economy Bill, and I don’t follow politics very well.  But this doesn’t seem too hard to understand.

Here is where I learned what very little I know about the Digital Economy Bill:
Digital Economy Bill: crackdown on illegal filesharers confirmed
The Daily Telegraph
Digital Economy Bill (DEB) Pushed through without debate!
YouTube Video
Digital Economy Bill protest at parliament
YouTube Video

Basically, parliament have passed a law that essentially means if someone is accused of filesharing, or illegally downloading music etc from the internet, then their Internet Service Provider can disconnect their internet connection.  Now on the surface this may sound like quite a harsh enforcement of the law, and the majority of internet users are up in arms about this.  People think that this is one step closer to us becoming a nanny state.

Puh-lease.

Nanny state?  That’s just something people say when they don’t like that they can no longer get away with doing something they know they shouldn’t be doing.

If you were caught stealing a CD in HMV, and the store manager banned you from coming into the shop ever again, would you think that was unfair?  Of course not.  Stealing is against the law.  The internet is a privilege, not a right.

I’ve also heard whining along the lines of “if my teenager is illegally downloading music upstairs in his bedroom using my ISP, then I could lose my internet connection which I need for work.”

So, if the law says you lose your internet if you steal copyrighted material, and your child is stealing copyrighted material, surely there can be only one solution, right?

Protest the bill of course!  Whinge and moan on Twitter and YouTube about how horribly unfair the government is being, and how it’s taking away our civil rights.

Or you know, you could always discipline your children, teach them not to steal, take responsibility for your offspring…  Sound like too much hard work?

Yeah, let’s just go protest outside the Houses of Parliament instead.

——–

Final Lesson. Again.

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I felt kind of bad for not posting about my driving lessons for so long, but then I remembered that nobody is reading this.

I had my first test 2 weeks ago.  And I failed.  I know, I’m as surprised as you are.  I was so ready for it.  I only got 3 minors, but I failed on something really stupid.  I was on a road that turned into 2 lanes and as I moved over to the left lane I drove in the end of a red bus lane for like a second.  That’s an automatic fail.  My examiner also said I was driving too close to parked cars.  Not so close that he felt he needed to  grab the wheel, but close enough that he decided to fail me for it.

What annoyed me most (I’m not saying a shouldn’t have failed, I know I should have) is he said I should be driving a car door’s length away from parked cars at all times.  That is impossible.  If I had done that he would’ve failed me for driving on the wrong side of the road.  It’s just not always possible.  My instructor also said that he shouldn’t have let me drive in the bus lane.  Some of them have cameras and you can get a ticket for driving in them, like going through a red light.  If I had gone through a red light he would’ve put his foot on the brake and stopped me.  He should’ve done the same thing for the bus lane, rather then letting me think it was ok.

So I have my next test this Saturday in Skipton.  Skipton is a small town about an hour from where I live, but it’s the only test centre that doesn’t have a month or more waiting list for tests.  I’m going for my last (I hope) lesson today.  I drove over there last week to get the lay of the land.  It’s a lot easier to drive over there than here in Leeds.  So I feel pretty confident.  I think I’m dreading it slightly more because people generally expect you to fail first time.  I would’ve love to have passed first time but not many people do.  But now I’m onto my second test, expectations are high (from me anyway).  Failure is no longer an option.

Stay tuned.

Mac vs PC

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I’m a PC. There I said it. I’m a PC, not a Mac. I have a Dell Vostro laptop, I have a Dell desktop computer, I don’t have a Mac book, or an iPhone, I don’t even have an iPod. I do however desperately want an iPad in a badly huge way.

And it was this sudden, inexplicable interest in the iPad that got me wondering: Why am I a PC and not a Mac?

I suppose the real reason is because the deicision to buy one was never mine to make. I’ve used PCs all my life, at home, at school, and grew up thinking that nothing else in the realm of computers even existed. All computers are PCs, aren’t they?

Then one day I found this series of delightfully amusing adverts featuring David Mitchell and Robert Webb. Here’s an example:

So naturally what I took away from these adverts is that PCs are dorky and Macs are cool, but that ultimately PCs are better for the more important things like work. Macs are for creative people who like to keep things simple, and PCs are for real grown-ups.

Years went by and I continued to live a life completely separate from Apple products, not even buying an iPod (hey, my Nokia has a music player so what’s the point? iPods don’t even have memory SD slots).

My first encouter with Apple was when I downloaded iTunes. I’m not even sure why I did it, but I did, and I blew a few quid on some songs I’d been after for a while. Then I noticed they also sold movies and TV shows. Then I noticed the price of the movies and TV shows and never bothered looking again. How can the digital version cost more than the DVD version?! Seriously. What’s up with that?

Then I started looking through the app store and I thought “some of these apps look pretty cool.” That was when I started contemplating an iPod Touch. Definitely didn’t wan’t an iPhone. I have a phone. It’s a Nokia E63 and it’s awesome. But iPod Touches are expensive.

Then last week, I discovered the iPad and I fell in love:

I know. I don’t need it. It’s just a giant iPod Touch and it’s a million times more expensive. But it’s sooooo pretty.

It was at this point that I started to further question my stance on Mac vs PC. The 2 major cons for the iPad were it’s lack of multi-tasking and the fact that it won’t play flash. These are 2 things my laptop does. And it got me thinking back to those adverts I’d seen all those years ago…

Mac seems quite proud of itself for being a faster, more reliable machine that doesn’t crash or get viruses. Now if I’ve understood this correctly, here’s why:

Macs only represent a minority of computers that are in use around the world. People don’t create viruses for them because they wouldn’t affect many people. Viruses for PCs create a lot more damage because there are so many more of them.

Mac have eliminated the problems inherent in PCs, by simply leaving out the features that cause these problems. Let me illustrate:

Imagine that PC is a television. It’s a widescreen, plasma TV. It looks great, and works great, though it has one little kink: occasionally, the remote control stops working. This happens very rarely, and is easily fixed by just turning the TV off and on again.

Now imagine Mac is a TV. They claim to have a more reliable TV than the PC. How come?

Their TV doesn’t have a remote control.

Please let me stress the fact that I don’t really know a lot about computers. I can do a lot on computers, but I don’t understand much of what goes on under the hood. So this is just my very crude understanding of the difference between a Mac and a PC. It’s probably very inaccurate and misleading. But I must be along the right lines, because if Macs were as great as they claim, then I wouldn’t be writing this on a Dell right now, would I? There must be something holding them back from dominating the market, or else they’d actually be giving Bill Gates a run for his money. But they’re not. Instead they spend all their time on next gen iPods and iPhones. And now the iPad. They haven’t got it perfect yet, but I still really really want one.