Monthly Archives: June 2012

Better fixed

Scottish nationalists have momentum.  Now an unlikely alliance of UK political parties, headed by prominent Scottish politician Alistair Darling, launch a joint campaign called “better together” to preserve the union.  That uneasy superstate known as the United Kingdom.

As an Englishman I won’t get the vote on this: the decision will be left to Scots.  That probably means we can expect to see some bribes to Scotland coming from the better together campaign, and the more uncertain the outcome, the more will be the bribes.  I expect proud Scots will reject the bribes, greedy Scots will grab them, and the balance will determine the eventual deal.  The broken state of our union with its festering injustices on both sides (from an English point of view, headed by the Westlothian Question and Barnett Formula) can only get worse.

This is not what we need.  If the union is to survive and prosper, the last thing it needs is this hopelessly broken state leading to legitimate grievances on both sides.  Right now there is one proposal on the table to fix that, and it’s coming from the SNP.  So long as it’s the only fix on offer, it has my support.  But then, I don’t get the vote.

Maybe we would indeed be better together.  But for the campaign to be credible, they need to tell us how they propose to fix the union.  If non-Scots had the vote, maybe we could hope for a decent alternative.

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Refugee

Today I am, in a very minor way, a refugee.  Sitting in John’s sofa, with the laptop, hoping to get some work done.

Once again, there are building works at home.  Last Wednesday a gang of workmen arrived and erected a lot of scaffolding.  Right next door, on the side of the house where my office is located.

Then a different gang arrived and started working on the roof.  Banging, drilling, sanding, all the usual sounds of building work.  Including, intermittently, the worst of all: the ghetto blaster.  When it arrived on Monday morning I asked them nicely to turn it off, which they did with good grace, and the day was indeed free of that scourge.  But that was too good to last.  And the intensity of works seems to be rising: yesterday afternoon the construction symphony was accompanied by clouds of dust drifting across the window.

It’s not as bad as some works we’ve suffered in the past (three months of wall works, or the worst of the building across the road).  But with John now working from home, I have an escape I can beg.  Let’s see if I get much done from here.

Phone search

I’m looking for a phone worthy of replacing my beloved Nokia E71.

My wonderful phone died on Saturday, aged just under three and a half years.  Drowned in a pool of rainwater, as I was walking a three-hour route across the moors.  It came down heavy, so I put the phone in my bag for protection against the kind of minor flooding it’s suffered a few times (and from which my wallet is still soggy even today).  Then it came down really seriously torrential (so even the dog fled for shelter), and breached the protection of the bag.  On arriving at the pub I made to get the phone out, but it was swimming in a pool of water and dead to the world.  RIP.

What makes a worthy replacement?

I want a phone that’s properly comfortable to carry in the pocket, comfortable to hold in the hand and to the ear, and comfortable to type on.  That rules out any iphone and most androids (as does their atrocious battery life).  The beautifully-made qwerty keyboard was such a huge asset!

In terms of apps, most of what I care about is pretty standard.  I think any modern candidate will have 3g, wifi, rudimentary web and mail, calendar and text notepad.   FM radio and GPS/maps are almost as widespread.  I want to be sure to have maps (like Nokia’s) I can pre-load, so I don’t have to load data on-the-fly (as with Google maps) when out of 3g contact or on extortionate international data rates.

An e-ink screen would be great, but I don’t believe anyone’s put one on a ‘phone 😦

Nokia’s candidates today appear to be the E5 and E6.  Online reviews suggest the former is a step down: in particular it’s significantly fatter than the E71, making its impact in the pocket more of a problem even if it’s fine in the hand.  The E6 looks good, but at a price.

Other obvious candidates are some of the smaller blackberries.  Trying to find out about them, and not least whether their maps will pre-load data.  And this recent article points me to a few androids, which could be candidates if the keyboards are good enough and if there’s a maps app I can use.

Fortunately I can survive short-term using the pocket-‘puter as emergency phone, so this isn’t desperately urgent.  So I’m soliciting comments and insights.  Any advice?