Tuesday, 29 June 2010

OK, so it's my birthday. Happy Birthday, me :-)

Naturally, it's hissing it down. Quelle Surprise. Someone out there's been and gone and done the blasted Pategonian Rain Dance, of course, the utter muppit.

And there I am, having looked at the weather summary for today last night, with no umbrella, no rain coat, and feeling rather let down by the weather.

On my birthday. I should have remembered that the Wimbledon tennis championships are still on!

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Everyone and their dog has probably commented on this... now it's the turn of their bus driver, too...

I'm not a huge fan of Football... the British game, I mean, not that strange American game of a similar name, with all the padding, helmets, face guards, twenty teams per side, and a misshapen Rugby Ball...

I now know why.

Ye gods, what a bloody shambles. Since hanging the whole bloody lot of them is sadly out of the question (more's the pity), I trust and hope that all concerned with the team that we sent to South Africa, right from the top, the Chairman of the Football Association, to the bottom (pick a job to axe), do the decent thing, and resign en-mass. In fact, I strongly suspect that the bog washer at the Football Association in London is probably the only one who has no blame to take in this damnable fiasco whatsoever. It's made (and not for the first time) English football a laughing stock for the rest of the world.

Four bloody ONE?! I damn near cried into me coffee. My colleagues were in a worse state, I assure you.

I fully expect us all to be learning to speak German in time for the next damn world cup.

Thank the stars for English Rugby, which is in a damn sight better health than the so-called "National Game" of Football.

Bobby Moore's probably spinning in 'is grave, t'poor bugger.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Oho... a reaction - and it's for the better!

Well the roastpost I left on NavMii's forums appears to have sparked someone's attention - for the moment, at least. Seems their customer service bloke's eyes got a tad rivetted to his terminal's screen today - because he replied in double quick time - make that ten orders faster, even - than he has of late. Interesting, that. I post there, and here, and *BING!*, we get intelligent responses!

In fairness to the lad, I half suspect he's one body, catering not just to the public retail arm of GeoLife, but to their B2B (Business Clients) as well, but never the less, the recent trend of leaving customer comments, observations, and even a couple of tech support questions on their forums to fester for days, often weeks, on end, was hardly the right thing to do.

Still, he's paying attention at the moment so, while the iron is hot, I'm asking the questions I want to ask, and getting, if not 100% satisfaction, at least halfway decently intelligent answers and a certain amount of commitment from him. He's even apologised for using the word "Soon" again!

So... watch this space!

Microsoft Office?! Who the bleep wants that?!

This just in from The Register...

Microsoft throws Office 2010 at shoppers
Free online, charged on desktop

Um.... Has anyone told those guys at Redmond that Open Office has (1) a MUCH smaller footprint, and (2) is totally free?

I tend to think not, given the above!

Hmm. Satnav customer services... a generally bodily-fluid-poor relationship...

From Pocket GPS World...

The arrival of TomTom's START device saw the first unit that could not natively support third party POIs including our speed camera warnings.

Now it seems that TomTom have seen fit to roll out this dumbed down feature list to the XL-2 IQ, XL-2 IQ Live and Ease. Whilst there was a work-around that permitted users to install custom POIs, TomTom have now blocked this with a software update.

Is this a move to differentiate budget models from premium devices or are we seeing a move by TomTom to control their devices and restrict what users can install upon them?

As content providers it is only fair that we declare a vested interest in this issue but the move sets a worrying precedent. Are we going to see further moves to secure the content and prevent third parties from competing with them?

If we take speed camera data as an example, our subscribers have long known how poor TomTom's data is in comparison. If they lock down their units then you will no longer have the benefit of choice in choosing who provides the speed camera data or be able to install community provided POIs.

This is a major issue, folks: none of us have the time to go out and research where the next petrol station, rest stop facilities, bank, cinema, tescos/asda/whatever is in relation to where we are at any given time, which is where POI, or Point Of interest files come into their own when used with satellite navigation systems (Sat Nav).

Generally speaking, the POI files that manufacturers may supply (or not), are horrendously out of date by the time we get them, which is where 3rd party POI suppliers, like PGPSW, come into their own. The POI files are updated by the members, in a similar manner to the way the Open Street Map is updated by its' contributors. The result is timely, pretty-much up-to-date and thus accurate POI files, that many rely on.

For TomTom to remove the ability of new customers to use these files is frankly an absurd move on their part that I for one fail to understand. It is, in my view, another sign of an arrogant company trying to have absolute control over what choices are available to its customers.
Only this time, I reckon they've shot themselves in the foot.

TomTom has, in the past, been recognised for it's easily usable and user-customisable Satnav systems. Not any more, by the look of things.

They are being challenged by the online providers such as Google Maps and Ovi maps; there are many more providers of the on-board satnav packages than ever before, and now they're locking their products down, and thus limiting their usability to the customer?!

I'm darn glad I jumped the TomTom ship last year.

Only one problem, my current provider's not much better when it comes to customer service, so I'd hold off on NavMii for the moment too: Their promises appear on the face of it to be very much like vapourware: Loads of promise, with nothing materialising to justify the claims. Example: we've been promised updates for everything from TTS (Text To Speech) to better routing, and updates to many areas of the package (just have a read of their forums - it's all there); nothing's materialised. There's a public beta out, but given the features they've said they've "improved" in this very minor beta release, I'm not bothering with it, in case something else in there has been broken.

Frankly, I'm getting very hacked off with the lack of reliable service we customers are getting, and I'm about ready to jump provider AGAIN.

I went to NavMii from TomTom for several reasons, the two main ones being price and compatibility with the Pocket GPS World speed - sorry - safety camera POI database. For these two reasons, it's been successful.

However, they promised updates not just to me, but to all their customers, and this was reason three: I expected that they would release updates to fully enable the package to utilise POI files, in much the same way that they enabled it for the PGPSW files.

This, they have not done.

Likewise, they have been saying that they would release regular updates to the maps. Well, here's a thing: Their mapping provider, TeleAtlas, allegedly release updates every three months. This from their website:

Do Tele Atlas’ partners use the most current Tele Atlas product?
We deliver the latest release of our products to all our partners and customers on a quarterly basis. Each release includes extended content and coverage and improved quality, which enables our partners to deliver robust, turn-by-turn navigation systems and innovative location-based services that address the needs of millions of consumers every day.

So, how come no updates for the last five months on the maps, then?

Like I said above: Vapour promises.

Once again, I'm very disappointed with these people. All we, the little people, seem to get, are placations and pats on the head.

I for one am thoroughly sick of it.

Damned if I know how it's going to be achieved, but isn't it time that things changed for the better?

A couple of hours later...

OK, update time already

The following ius a slightly truncated quote from Darren over at PGPSW...

My original news item is incorrect in suggesting that these dumbed down models have removed ALL support for custom POIs in that Start/Start2, and XL IQ2/XL IQ2 Live.

I need to clarify this as it was a misunderstanding on my part caused by the lack of POI options in the new simplified menu. There is no longer any option for managing POIs but any that you install do appear in the "Navigate to POI" menu.

So you can still install third party POIs and navigate to them, what you cannot do it set alerts and so speed camera warnings are no longer possible.

However, the forthcoming GO LIVE 1000 is a different beats entirely and with no direct access to its file system it remains to be seen how or indeed if TomTom will manage the install of third party data.

So, existing units can still accept speed camera files, they just in certain cases won't issue alarms for safety cameras.

It's effectively the same thing, though: many folks use these POI files to keep themselves on track and within the law, by reminding themselves of speed limits. This is where the safety camera alerts initiated by the POI files come into their own.

As TomTom has now effectively removed the facility for those alerts, what's the point of using their products, then?

None at all, from what I can see.

I got some feedback for this entry from someone who, while making a very poigniant and sensible point about the value of good customer relations, also included a really blatent and 'in-your-face' plug for a commercial website for people to obtain tailored Curriculum vitaes...

Now, in principle, I haven't a problem with someone being enterprising. Hell, I like making money, just like the next bloke. I just don't like people tring to do it off my back, especially when it has absolutely nothing to do with the subject at hand. It's just very poor manners.

So, as I couldn't edit out the web address, I've had to reject the comment. It's for this very reason that comments are fully moderated here, by the way.

Friday, 11 June 2010

A fortnights leave in 3 hours, and counting...

So, here I am, just having had a very nice fish & chips dinner in the canteen at the western end of the route, ruminating on the latest twit to be illuminated on my FRIDAR (Flamin' Rabid Idiot raDAR)...

I was pulling into a recessed bus stop (that's a bus stop that is cut into the kerbside to help traffic get past when a bus is serving the stop), in thick traffic, when this git - not even the driver, he was a passenger in the car - takes exception to the fact that I'm trying to pull into the stop: He seemed to take exception to my pulling in to serve the stop by passing him mate on the inside (safely, all four wheels on the tarmac, no less), and took it upon himself to lean out the window to threaten to punch my lights out, the moron.

OK, so I was relatively close to his mates' car (maybe six inches off his rear quarter at the closest point for a couple of seconds), but then we're trained to thread the needle somewhat in this game, and do so pretty darn well, truth be told; and yes, I was going dead slow and passing the car on the inside (there was loads of room) in order to do the job, and yes, I managed to successfully get onto the stop without touching his mates' car, so I failed to see the problem. I tried to explain this to Mr. Excitable, but he wasn't having it, and yelled that he was a professional boxer and that he'd punch my lights out. So I told him: "Sonny, bigger and harder and MUCH nastier folks have told me that they'll do much worse to me, and I'm still here. Besides, hit me, and you loose your licence. Have a nice day." I then shut my window, and let on passengers who by this time were laughing hard. When I turned my attention back to the road a minute or so later, chummy was gone, probably in a puff of petulance.

And that's the kind of crap I'll not miss for my two weeks of leave starting in less that three hours from now...!

...An hour and a half or so later...

To balance the shift with amusement, I later got a lad running hard to catch the bus, who asked me to hang on for his girlfriend to catch up. I told him "No hurry, I'm early, and killing a minute or so here". He still leans out the door and yells "HURRY UP!" to the poor lass who was tottering along as quickly as she could in her high heels, then turns round to me and says all conspiratorially, like, "I like yelling it to her, she looks funny running".

So, picture the scene, she's finally got to the bus, I'm trying hard not to laugh at her boyfriends comment, and she's almost out of breath, and noticed that I'm red of face and failing to hold in my laughs.

So she does what any young lady would do in those circumstances. Realises boyfriend has said something he ought not have said. "OK, what did he say THIS time, mate?" I claimed the Fifth, citing that in wanted to remain intact. Naturally, I got a withering look from her, and she stomped after the lad, yelling for all to hear "OK laughing boy, what the hell did you say to crack up the driver THIS time, EH?!"

Good grief, I savour this job sometimes

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Oh wonderful....

Right, following yesterdays' rain, today's apparently gonna be a nice sunny day. Bugger. This means that as I drive to the eastern end of the route, I'm going to be dazzled by the rising sun. And to add to this, the roads are still wet, which means the road glaze is gonna be well painful on the peepers.

Oh.... How truly wonderful...

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Neck recovered, and back to work...

Well, my neck appears to have recovered in large part from whatever the hell I did to it the other day, so I'm back at work today. Started out OK, then the sun rose... Displaying a wonderfully red cloudbase. Oh great. Red sky at night, etc.: Which most likely means it's gonna heave it down later.