Friday, 16 December 2011

Happy Christmas (Term Is Over)

It's been frickin ages since I've really had the time to write a blog post, mostly because of the amount of time I was having to spend doing my degree and coxing and stuff (also Fairbairns Dinner was a stupid amount of admin). Term finished last week, and it's been awesome to have a week of mostly lazing around and sorting out all the stuff I've been putting off until term was finished. Finally finished. After 11 weeks of Michaelmas term.

The first objective was getting a new phone, because I needed a new phone. And not "needed" in the sense of someone who finds themselves two generations behind on iPhones, where really they just mean "want" or "feel socially pressured into having". My current phone was a Sony Ericsson W910i, a phone released all the way back in 2007 when phone internet was still a waste of time and it could get away with its main selling point being that it works pretty well as an mp3 player.

I was actually OK with my phone being old, and I would have been perfectly happy with my old non-smartphone thing. The main issue wasn't so much the age as the fact it had sort of stopped working particularly well just as a phone in general. It would crash and turn itself off frequently, typically in the middle of sending texts, so that most messages would enter a quantum state from my point of view of the potential to be both sent and not sent until I received whatever reply I was expecting.

So I hunted around a bit for a new phone, and settled on an Orange San Francisco II, otherwise known as a ZTE Crescent, otherwise known as the successor to the ZTE Blade, a fairly low-budget Chinese smartphone largely popular with Android modding enthusiasts because of how cheap and easy to crack it is.

After a few days of playing around with it, I'm fairly happy with it as a phone. It looks reasonably nice and like most other smartphones (that is to say it's rectangular, thin, with one side entirely taken up by a screen and a couple of small buttons). It functions fairly well, and to be honest I'm not really sure what extra benefit I'd be getting with a new Samsung or HTC given I'd be paying £30 a month instead of £15 for the same contract.

So far I've only encountered two issues with it - the first is that the model is less than a month old, meaning that all the standard accessories like screen protectors and cases don't exist for it yet. It also means it doesn't have support for Android modding yet, meaning I can't get rid of all the Orange app crap from it.

The other was actually Orange's fault, which is that all outgoing calls and 3G data were barred. This actually proved a fair bit of faff to undo because I needed to ring up Orange's customer service to fix it.

The house doesn't have a landline, Peter is on Pay-as-you-Go still, so wasn't really keen on me using his phone to ring up, and my phone was barred from making calls, meaning I had to use Nick's phone.

This would be fine, were it not for the fact that Nick's phone has a glitch whereby the screen turns off during a call and there's no way to turn it back on again until the call ends, meaning that when it says "If blah blah, press 1" I have no way of actually pressing 1 because the keypad is on the non-functional screen. We initially solved this problem by using his hands-free kit to progress through the menus until we got to an actual human being, at which point I discovered that the microphone on his hands-free kit is broken and he'd forgotten to tell me.

So attempt three, getting through to an actual person and un-plugging the hands-free kit, and I got stuff sorted. The guy on the other end of the phone was actually really good - he was extremely polite, spoke clear English, knew what he was doing and was good at telling me what he was doing and what the problem was, and it took all of three or four minutes to get everything fixed and have a functioning phone again. If it wasn't for the horrific Christmas hold music then it'd probably be the best customer service experience I've ever had.

Turns out the issue was that my phone was still marked as being in transit. I'd had it delivered and collected it from the Orange store in Cambridge, and apparently somewhere in there they hadn't marked it as received. Once I confirmed to the customer service guy that I had received the phone (which seemed like a totally stupid question given I'd already stated that I'd collected it from the store, and who the fuck rings up to complain about their phone being barred from making calls if they haven't even gotten it yet?) he was able to unlock it and everything was fine.

Aside from a new phone, the other stuff I've been putting off until term had finished was applying for jobs. This also meant updating my CV, which I hadn't even looked at since halfway through my 2nd year of Uni, and man it sucked balls. Initially I spent a bit of time re-working it, before I picked up a booklet from the Careers Service on how to make a CV that isn't totally shit and figured it would be best if I just started again from scratch. Plus it turns out that MS Word is a pain in the ass when it comes to formatting things easily into columns and sections and MS Publisher is way easier.

So CV mostly written now, I just have the somewhat scary process of applying to jobs and such. I've mostly figured out now what sort of job I actually want to do and which companies I want to work for, which is good in that it gives me some direction, and bad in that I now have a small number of companies that can reject me and leave me totally fucked and out of ideas. I guess worst case scenario I can just cop out of the real world and dick around doing a PhD and being a student for a few more years?

The combination of it now being REALLY FUCKING COLD in Cambridge and also myself and my housemates being in the house all day means we've experimented with the wood-burning fireplace in our living room. We had a pallet that myself and Peter had nabbed from a skip outside the primary school next to our house and smashed up for wood, but that stuff burns really fast and is only really useful for kindling, so I went out with Peter to go get some proper wood from somewhere.

Being students and cheapskates we figured that instead of buying wood from a store (it's actually really expensive for the duration it lasts) we'd go get our wood from nature instead, so we cycled out to a small bit of woodland on the edge of Histon armed with rucksacks and a saw.

Pretty much as soon as we got there the weather unleashed hell, and the wind and rain was absolutely ridiculous. We were actually somewhat grateful for the fact it was raining sideways, because large trees in winter actually provide better shelter from the side than they do from above. Despite this, we still got pretty drenched.

"We've gone on holiday by mistake!"

We also left late afternoon, and it got dark pretty quickly, meaning we ended up having to do most our foraging under torchlight, but we did come across a huge dead old tree that had fallen over and managed to hack two full rucksack's worth of decent firewood from it, so all in all it was a fairly successful expedition. We'll just pick a somewhat more sensible point in time when we go back for more.

And finally term being done means it'll be Christmas in a couple of weeks and I'll be going back home for a bit. I don't really plan on going home for too long because I hate my family all my stuff is in Cambridge, and going home for a while either means not having it for a while, or having to cart it the whole way across the country on the train, and I'm not really keen to do either.

I'm looking forward to being back home for a week or so for Christmas, where adulthood and slightly less awesome presents means I am actually mostly looking forward to the food and the drinking and the inevitable family rows that take place when everyone has had a bit too much wine (my Nan ended up in tears last year). And the Liverpool match on Boxing Day is at home, meaning there's the possibility of scabbing a ticket off one of the guys my Dad goes to the match with. So all good.

1 comment:

  1. Job-hunting. I think you've missed an option - if the small number of companies you apply to aren't interested then get some imagination and think of a wider set of potential employers. They, may not even be UK companies...

    As for a "scabbed" ticket I have yet to get a sniff of one so it may be The Queen for you or somewhere similar.