* Posts by Phil S

9 posts • joined 11 Oct 2011

Portal to 'HELL' cracks open in street – oh sorry, it's just another pothole

Phil S

Re: Liability

tl;dr - just because someone says they're meant to do something, doesn't mean they've done it.

I had a similar response from Surrey CC when I had a banjoed mountain bike wheel from a hidden pothole during heavy rain - it wasn't a cheap bike (thank you bike to work scheme!) and the new wheel was c. £90.

As I was skint (hence riding a bike as couldn't afford a car for the 24 mile round trip) I put in a claim, but got short shrift. They said they inspect it every 6 months/180 days (can't remember exactly which now), so they weren't liable.

It wasn't so much the fact they dismissed it, that annoyed me, it was the 'be quiet pleb' way they did it - there are polite ways to tell people to p*** off.

Unfortunately, I worked at a neighbouring council so am more than used to bureaucracy and the byzantine workings of local government, so didn't let it go.

I politely emailed asking for the schedule of maintenance inspections for the last year, and after the auto-reply confirming they'd got it, didn't hear anything.

I gave it a month (21 working days to be precise) before I forwarded my request back to them saying I was giving them 48 hours to respond to my request for information or I was reporting them to the ICO for breach of FOIA. Cue a hasty reply, saying that as I hadn't said "FOI" in the request, they were now going to treat it as an FOI and start the 20 working day clock, and they'd cc'd the FOI officer to "save me having to send it to them again".

How sweet.

Now, I'd also worked at the Cabinet Office when FOIA was born, so I replied straight away (keeping the officer cc'd) saying nowhere in the act does it say you need to say it's an FOI - it's any written request for information, to anyone who works in the authority. Weirdly, the FOI officer tried to argue this, so I sent them a link to the legislation,whilst secretly loathing the person they'd turned me into.

A couple of hours later, I got the schedule, and 'several' pages of explanatory text about the things they measure, what constitutes a defect etc.

Now, being in full on bureaucrat mode (I'm hating myself again, writing this...) I of course read this with interest and was delighted to write them a reply pointing out that their inspection of my bit of road had last happened six months and four days/184 days (still can't remember the deadline, but remember exactly how far over it they were!) before my encounter.

This led to some more back and forth about the maths involved in working out how much time there was between two dates (I was truly committed now, so wasn't letting it go) until they finally went quiet, and a couple of days later a cheque arrived in the post.

As a long-serving/suffering public sector worker, I don't like to be on the other end of this kind of childishness, but equally, I like to think I wouldn't have created the situation in the first place.

The people dealing with the claims are essentially trying to preserve the council's insurance bill - which is fine. But I think they could be less officious about it, and might do better applying pressure to their colleagues over in the highways team to at least stick to their schedules, even if they can't afford to do the full resurfacing most of the roads need.

A British phone you're not embarrassed to carry? You heard that right

Phil S

I've got the original Swift (emergency, cheap replacement for dead HTC One M8) and really rate it - reliable, comfortable, and am loving Cyanogen (first time I've used non-stock Android on a phone). Also, my track record of cracking screens made the cheap replacement option appealing, though weirdly (for me) I've yet to use it as it's a tough little bugger.

Only minor gripe is the camera doesn't perform too well if light isn't spot on, but it cost me just over £100 (when they had the cashback offer) and has been otherwise faultless - it just works.

Contract with Voda about to come to an end, so heading SIM only and planning on putting some of the (significant!) savings away for eventual replacement - this looks a strong contender.

Kent Police handed domestic abuse victim's data to alleged abuser – a Kent cop

Phil S

The shyster?

I can't help wonder if the solicitor involved should be looked at for some form of misconduct too?

As I understand it, they'd only asked for/been offered one file (a video) from the phone, to prepare his client. Why, upon receiving everything on the phone, would they then think "I know, I'll show my client the lot"?

I'd have thought (possibly naively) that they'd have been familiar with data protection law.

Hollywood star Robin Williams dies of 'suspected suicide' at 63

Phil S

Legacy beyond laughs

Great man, and like others, surprised at how genuinely upset I was to hear the news.

Solace from so many of comments above talking about their suffering with depression - hopefully someone who needs to see them, reads them, and it helps them find a way through that Robin couldn't.

Crack Army pilot to be first PROPER British astronaut IN SPAAAACE

Phil S

Re: why

As it was Mir, she was a cosmonaut wasn't she?

Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7in Android tablet review

Phil S

Re: Have to agree

Ditto here - wife got one as a gift, and had (not irrationally for an average punter) assumed that since I could get the apps shes uses on her iPhone on my androids, she's be able to get them on this, as well as read ebooks.

After weeks of waiting it arrived, was opened with joyous smiles, which quickly turned to a frown.

After letting her get frustrated with it for an hour or so I stepped in as the voice of reassuring experience "pass it here dear, I'll sort it".

Boy did I look a tit.

Hadn't realised it was THAT tightly locked to Amazon.

Crap selection of apps, couldn't (wasn't allowed to) download anything to get rid of that god awful carousel, and couldn't open most of her books.

What turned out to be the real deal breaker for her was not being able to put pictures in the background.

I'll be honest, I didn't try hard to sort this as it's not the most important thing in my world, but to her it was something she expected to be able to do, which isn't unreasonable I suppose. But, on top of everything else, it was the straw that broke the camels back.

I suggested jailbreaking to get proper android on there (which I'd have been happy with, and was quite looking forward to doing) but she, probably wisely, decided to send it back.

Nexus 7 seems to me to be the best replacement (for what she'll use it for/price), but she's now a bit reluctant to go with android and has fallen back into the "must get Apple" mindset and is eyeing up an iPad mini.

What could have been a brilliant device for helping getting average punters to think of looking beyond the fruity shop window has probably shoved a few back in there, too scared to dip a toe outside again.

Amazon isn't Apple - they don't have the same kind of eco-system built up as a familiar place for users to do what they're used to doing (even if there are other, possibly better ways to do it out there).

A bit more time spent thinking about why people want a tablet, instead of thinking about how to stop them doing anything you don't want them to, could have made this a brilliant device.

Opportunity missed methinks.

'Nervous' London bankers run mock cyberattack exercise

Phil S

I've taken part in a few of these kinds of exercises (public sector - sorry...) and the value you get from them isn't necessarily "successfully" completing the exercise.

You get to see who is good under pressure, who/what will be throwing obstacles in your way when you're trying to sort it out (usually process-driven) and helps build the relationships within an organisation (and between organisations) that will help it through a real emergency.

It's not so much about preventing systems going down (though obviously that's preferable), it's about finding who are the right people to sort it out when it does happen.

If it does nothing more than make a few managers think about who is/isn't reliable, its worth it.

Too rude for the road: DVLA hot list of banned numberplates

Phil S

I always fancied getting the old style ones reading P155 OFF or P15 SED.

Guess they're out too?

Get your numbers right, NBN Co tells Economist

Phil S


"The authors … claim the NBN will cover 7.45 million Australian households; in fact, it will cover 13 million premises by the time it is complete"

Households aren't the same as premises, so I wonder how many non-household premises (commercial and public sector) there are as part of the scheme?

if there's 5.55 million, it all adds up. Though I will confess to having no godly idea whether there are that many - still seems high, but you never know.


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