Friday, 2 March 2012

I hate . . . Yoghurt

Yoghurt Bacteria: By Bob Blaylock (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
Yup, this is what you are eating. Lactobacillus delbrueckii bulgaricus from your yoghurt.
I really don't get yoghurt. It's one of those foods that everyone says we should have because it is really healthy. You get the plain kind, the ones with extra fruit in the corder, and, worst of all, the loaded-with-sugar-but-healthy-honest drinking kind.

What I really don't get about youghurt is the is the whole concept.

It's milk. It's gone off, really badly, and you still are planning on eating it.

Historically, I can see a reason. There you are, on your farm, and you have too much milk one day, and no fridge to keep it in. Food is in short supply, and when you get up the next day, you notice your milk has turned into this jelly-like substance with an odd smell. Still, there's nothing else to eat but mud so you close your eyes and eat the stuff.

Fast forward to the 21st century. We are taking perfectly good milk, deliberately allowing bacteria to grow in it, and then eating it. Gross.

Monday, 14 November 2011

I hate . . . Used Car Ads

I've been looking at car ads recently, and some of the ads I see from private car sellers are really irritating. I can best demonstrate with some examples:

Volkswagen Polo 1.2 Ltr BLACK (2005) VERY NICE CAR,VERY LOW MILEAGE ONLY DONE 69000,Service History, Dark Grey cloth trim NICE CAR FIRST SEE U WILL BUY cheap ins Central locking, Drivers,Airbag,Passenger airbag electric mirrors It has been regularly maintained Excellent Condition in and out,New tyer drive like a new,very good engine, Alarm,Adjustable seats, Adjustable steering LONG M.O.T AND TAX ,Very Clean Inside AND Outside,excellent condition First to see you will buy cheap insurance

Ignoring the spelling on this one, it's the 'First to see will buy' - repeated for emphasis. No. No I won't. I will buy it if I think its the right car for the price and my needs. NOT because YOU think it's great. If it is so great why are you selling it then? I'll make up my own mind, thanks.

rover 25 1.6 mot and tax clean in and out 2000 reg £750 just had 2 new tyres brand new back box fitted today brand new power stearing blet 10months mot 2 months tax e/windows e sun roft c/locking alam and mobilizer built in drives smooth. £750 no offers.

More dodgy spelling, but this one says 'No offers' ('Firm' if you are in the US). You are telling me your opinion, as the seller, is worth more than mine - the guy with the cash. Fine, put 'No offers' if you like. You are not going to get one - in fact, I won't even phone.


This guys caps lock has got stuck, but what got me was the advert title that was visible in the list view. It said 'BMW'. That was it. No model, year, engine size, mileage....

No Picture Make: Honda
Model: Civic Se
Body type: 5 Door Hatchback
Fuel type: Petrol
Year: 2002
Mileage: 105 miles

Ok, basic and to the point (not exactly selling it here) but look at the mileage. 105 miles. In 11 years. Ah Ha! - you meant 105,000.  When most car search uses the miles as a main search field, at least enter them correctly.

*DIESEL*Seat Toledo Se 110 BHP Tdi - (not bmw,golf,leon,vauxhall,306) **£1,299**

I can see the car is not a BMW, Golf, Leon, Vauxhall or 306 from the description and photo. If I searched for any of those terms I DO NOT WANT TO SEE YOUR ADVERT. This sort of stupid search spam should get the advert deleted instantly.

These are just a few of the things I've found in a quick search. Other included:
  • Not enough information: ads sometimes exclude critical information like mileage or the exact model. If you don't include it I have to assume you are hiding something, or don't know as you don't have the documents.
  • 'One lady owner': So what? I know plenty of women who abuse cars as much as men - so why does putting the gender of the owner influence me?
  • Overpriced modifications: when you see a car with lowered suspension, an aftermarket body kit, glued on spoiler, half finished sound system installation or extra wide alloys you would expect to pay less, much less. But so many sellers don't get that, and expect to get back the thousands they have spent. Face it guys - if you modify a car, it's for your own use - a completely standard car is almost always going to be worth more.
  • Hiding Traders: traders who pretend to be private sellers to avoid advert costs and offering a warranty. This is illegal in the UK!
  • Private sales asking for more than trade: if you buy a car from a trade, you have certain statutory rights that it is fit for purpose, and most have a guarantee (even if short), even on older vehicles. It will normally have been competently cleaned, and the ownership checked and guaranteed. Private sellers, on the other hand, offer none of these. So if you are a private seller, do not expect to get more than a trader will - you are looking at 10% to 30% less. Advertising your car for more than trade prices because YOU think it is worth it is unlikely to get much interest.
OK, car sellers. Know your car, check the prices, write a decent description, use a spellchecker AND TURN OFF THE CAPS LOCK.

    Saturday, 12 November 2011

    I hate . . . (*)gate Scandals

    Watergate from the air. From wikipedia
    Every time there is some scandal (or something the media wants us to this is a scandal) it immediately gets the term 'gate' added to it. Just a quick search gives me the following:
    • Yellow-Gate - Users complaining of a yellow tint to their iPhone screens. I thought Apple was infallible, like the Pope.
    • Ball-Gate - Rugby player ball switching scandal. No, not those ones, you pervert
    • Toilet-Gate - Chess player has a weak bladder. It's front page news!
    • Lie-Gate - Man accused of lying. It's unheard of!
    • Strawberry-Gate - Forced to pay for pick-your-own strawberries that were picked. Call in the army!
    • Nipple-Gate - TV watchers forced to see Janet Jacksons boob. Nation outraged: 50% of watchers have them, 100% have seen one
    For those who don't know, Watergate was the name of hotel involved in a serious scandal involving USA President Nixon - lots more on wikipedia. Since then the -gate suffix has been applied to scandals from the great to the totally insignificant. Most have nothing to do with hotels, Presidents or even politics.

    The original scandal happened in 1972. That is a really long time ago - before a substantial number of the people reading the current -gate stories were born, and certainly before they were interested in reading about political scandals.

    In fact, without any evidence whatsoever, I'd bet that a significant proportion of the English speaking world know very little to nothing about the original Watergate scandal.

    So why do journalists insist on using -gate for anything and everything? While some of the stories with the added -gate are serious, adding the suffix is laziness in my opinion. It's a shorthand to say 'don't you think this is terrible and shouldn't they do something about it', which is odd, as they usually do not define 'they' or 'something'.

    It's time to some up with a new word - or even better, just treat every news item on it's own merits without resorting to clichĂ©.

    Sunday, 18 September 2011

    I hate . . . 'Please Recycle' on Junk Mail

    I got some junk mail the other day, the typical credit card application stuff.

    Rather presumptuously it contained a full terms and conditions booklet, as well as a 4 page application form, a glossy flyer on the benefits and return envelope. Printed on the back of the envelope it all came in was a great big 'Please Recycle' logo.

    If you want me to recycle it, why are you sending it to me? Could you not just recycle it yourselves and save me the bother? Why are you sending me applications for an American Express Credit Card when a simple check would show I already have one?

    While I briefly considered sending the whole lot back to them, I decided to do my bit for the environment. I recycled the junk mail into a means to light a fire.

    Saturday, 10 September 2011

    I hate . . . Legal Lies

    After a recent conversation with a public sector organisation, I've noticed that public and private companies will often tell you things that are not entirely truthful. If they want to avoid doing something, or prevent you doing something, they regularly say that the law stops it - even when it doesn't.

    Shockingly, this even happens in the police - so here are a few things you should know about the law. This is for the UK, but similar legislation exists across Europe and in North America.

    The Data Protection Act

    One of the favourite excuses is that a company cannot give you information because of the data protection act. I'd say, about half the time this is used it's nonsense.

    The data protection act concerns personal information about a named, living individual.

    • A company is NOT an individual. Requests for information on phone numbers, addresses, and similar do not fall under the DPA.
    • The DPA specifically allows you access to information about yourself.
    • It does not cover information that does not identify the individual, such as information on a building, or group of people

    Check the Data Protection Act and it's rights and obligations for yourself - and be armed for the next bureaucrat.

    Health & Safety

    Wide ranging Health and Safety legislation covers all sorts of things - but a lot of them are to do with industrial equipment, fire exists and similar. Most of what you hear quoted as Health and Safety legislation is in fact either guidance, or just company policy.

    I recently asked to use the toilet in a shop, and was refused on the grounds of Health and Safety Law. A shop is a private building, so they have no obligation, but refusing on the ground of H & S is stupid - I'm not going to be causing danger to anyone.

    One of the core rules of the Health and Safety legislation is that risks should be reduced to as low as reasonably possible. Unfortunately many organisations seem to take this as 'reduced to zero' - and in doing so just prevent many things with relatively low risks. See Health and Safety Law, and the next time someone quotes 'Heath & Safety', ask them to show you the section in the regulations.

    One friend was told recently he could not hire a car on his licence as he had it less than two years, and 'Health & Safely' prevented them letting him have it. That's NOT H & S, that's insurance requirements. They can still refuse, but switching the reasons is not helpful, as it reduces you chance to expplore options, like paying for additional insurance.

    Paranoid and stupid, home made rules are also the causes of one major blight in most places - pointless safety signs. A sign sign 'Danger: Steep Slope' at the top of a steep slope. Signs on hot water taps saying 'Water may be hot'. Even 'Slippery When Wet' on wooden steps, and even signs on the backs of trucks warning people not to pass on the inside.

    How about this for a suggestion: let's go back to everyone being responsible for their own safety.

    Arbitrary 'Legal Reasons'

    After being told recently that an organisation could not email a form for 'legal reasons', I questioned why, and the customer 'services' handler could not tell me under which laws. After escalating to a supervisor, who initially said the same thing, he eventually admitted it was because their systems only allowed printed forms to be posted.

    Any time someone says 'legal reasons' or 'the law stops us doing that', ask them which law, which Act, which section. 95% of the time they cannot tell you, and neither can their supervisor, or the boss. Rules are instituted by companies, and then they have to justify them - and an unnamed 'law' is the perfect excuse.

    The next time you are told 'You cannot do that because of...' check they have got their facts right - the answer may surprise you.