Disturbed

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The streets around our house are often really noisy in the hours around midnight at weekends. We live directly opposite a pub, and people tend to pile out -- drunk and belligerent -- to bellow at their friends or enemies1 for hours on end. If it's not drunkards disturbing the peace, it's youngsters on mopeds opening the throttle right up and letting the street hear all 50 cc of raw, wasp-in-a-bottle power squeezed out by their irritating machines.

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Assisted opening

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Shop doors usually come in three basic flavours when it comes to opening them. You have your basic manually-operated doors, which can be difficult for people with physical disabilities, especially if the doors are large and heavy. Then you have fully-automatic doors, which usually slide or swing open when you trigger an infra-red proximity sensor or pressure pad, or press a button. More rarely, you come across a hybrid door which can be opened manually, but which also offers automatic opening via a button.

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The sad story of Mailbox

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Back when I lived in Oxford, I used Mailbox as my broadband provider. They weren't the cheapest around, but they were really reliable, and had the best customer support I've ever come across. It seems incredible (not to mention quaint) to say so now, but when you phoned them for support, a real human would answer the phone immediately. No pressing 4 divided by the number you first thought of to report a fault, or being robotically reassured ad infinitum that my business was very important to them.

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Wi-fi madness

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I caught the end of a really dreadful Panorama programme on the supposed 'dangers of Wi-Fi' yesterday, and was glad that I hadn't seen the rest, because I might have put my own health in danger by lobbing a heavy object through the screen of my TV. After a bit of calmer reflection later on, I wondered if I'd got an unbalanced view of the show by only watching the end.

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Schadenfreude bites back

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Sometimes it's better not to think unworthy thoughts. As I was leaving work today and loading my bike up, I heard the tell-tale bing-bong-bing announcement tone from the University station, which always presages cancellations, delays and other associated rail-commuting hell. "Haha, Suckerz!!" I thought. "I'm about to breeze home on the bike, no delays." That was my first mistake. It was raining hard, but of the cyclist's nemeses, rain is the weakest.

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More

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More. I'm beginning to think that 'more' might be the most insidious word in the English language. More beautiful. 50% more! Do more. Earn more. Buy more. Be more. More than ever before! More minutes, more texts. More speed. More channels. More bandwidth. More downloads. More time. More money. Get more. Get more. Get more. What's wrong with 'enough'? Why do we have to be accelerating, accumulating? Why can't we stand still, or even stop?

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Apple battery recall

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I haven't been having a lot of luck with stuff recently. My car packed up (in a potentially expensive way1), and yesterday I discovered that the battery in my PowerBook is one of the ones Apple is recalling. Brilliant. I've filled in the form to get a replacement, so now I just have to wait 4-6 weeks for it to show up. In the meantime, I'm advised to remove the old battery and power the PowerBook from the mains.

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Design flaws

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There are few things more irritating than everyday objects that are badly designed. In our building at work, we have stainless steel sinks in the toilets, which are circular in outline, and more or less hemispherical in shape. They look lovely but are hugely irritating to use. You know what happens when you turn on the tap in your kitchen sink without realising that there's a upturned teaspoon in the bottom of the sink?

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Moving House

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Our landlord wants to sell the house we're renting, so it looks like we're going to be moving again before long. It's not totally unexpected, but my heart still sinks at the prospect of going through the whole house-hunting thing again. This time, we're tentatively looking in to the prospect of buying a house, mostly because we desperately want to put down some semi-permanent roots. Initial enquiries about mortgages have not been encouraging.

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Plastic peril

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If you'll indulge me for a moment, I want to vent a little spleen over a particular kind of vicious plastic packaging. I'm sure you've also seen the type I mean; they are rigid, flat-ish boxes made of clear plastic, designed to allow you to see the goodies within, but also to allow the package to be hung on a metal rail or stood on a shelf. Several years ago, similar packaging tended to be designed in two distinct halves like a clam shell, which were held together by plastic 'blisters'.

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