Life

Soon to be unbundled to TalkTalk

Oliver Brown

Yesterday I received a letter from TalkTalk announcing their equipment had been installed in my local exchange and that I would be connected at the end of March. Which according to some people may be the same time that I lose my internet access and phone line. They say it should only go down for twenty minutes and make big deal out of the fact that BT engineers will be doing the actual changeover. Luckily I have internet access at work so I’ll let you know either way :)

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Some baaaaad service from Pizza Hut

Oliver Brown

Yesterday I was in London meeting a friend. We decided to go to Pizza Hut (the one on The Strand near Trafalgar Square. 45 minutes later we left not even having had our order taken. In hindsight I’m not even sure why we waited so long to be honest. There was a certain level comedy to it, after all once you’ve been waiting for half an hour there is part of you wanting to see just how long it could possibly take. There worst thing was that we weren’t the only ones. At least one of the group left (who hadn’t been waiting as long) and another was still that arrived about minute after us. We eventually decided to leave after reasoning that considering how much food had been brought through, even if we did order there’d be a ridiculous wait for the food. So we went down the road to Pizza Express and were served in two minutes.

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A week in America

Oliver Brown

I’ve now been in America a week. That’s why I haven’t posted. I can’t really think of anything especially interesting to say except about the fun I’ve had with luggage. The flight to here (Missoula) went via Minneapolis. I made the connection fine (a 5 hour wait in the airport made bearable by the fact that with my Nokia 770 I could talk to Julia using Google Talk - internet access was $7.95 for 24 hours with Boingo) but my luggage stayed in Minneapolis. I have to say that lost luggage may not be so bad if you plan a little and look on the bright side. For example I missed a suitcase for a day. There was nothing immediately important in it and for me it just meant I got it delivered to where I was staying instead of having to take it myself. The only possible problem in this case was that we were flying out to Chicago the day after and not having my luggage for that would have been a pain. But in the end it was fine. Coming back from Chicago was much more complicated however. Our original route was Chicago to Denver, Denver to Salt Lake City and then Salt Lake City to Missoula. The first flight was with United, the other two with Delta. The first flight had its take off delayed by an hour (they tried fixing the problem by rebooting the plane - a worrying sign) so we missed the connection in Denver. Everything seemed okay since we were booked on the next Delta flight to Salt Lake City. Except we were told that flight was also delayed and we’d miss the connection to Missoula if we took it and would have to spend the night. Sorting this out was confusing since we missed a Delta flight because of United and neither were sure what to do with us. In the end we were put on standby for a flight straight to Missoula (on United). A minute or so before the gate closed they concluded that two passengers hadn’t turned up and let us on. Obviously our luggage was not going to be with us. It wasn’t so bad though since we only arrived half an hour later than we should have done (not bad for an hour delay :P). The story with the luggage is funnier than we’d imagined though. Apparently it was never flying with us in the first place. It took a Delta flight to Denver and made it on time. But to save confusion they let it wait at the airport for us. So it took the second flight (which was delayed), spent the night in Salt Lake City and arrived a day later (this morning). Three suitcases, delivered to Julia’s room (mainly dirty clothes, some books and a very heavy Christmas present).

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Farewell Steve Irwin

Oliver Brown

Steve Irwin, Australian wildlife expert most famous for his TV series Crocodile Hunter has died after being stung by a stingray. Although appearances can be deceiving I would have considered stingrays fairly low down on the list of most deadly animals he’s faced. In fact he’s apparently only the second person to be killed by a stingray in Australia. Find more info from BBC News. News

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I won’t need a visa

Oliver Brown

I recently said I might need a visa to visit America because of new rules regarding biometric passports. Well it seems I’m okay. You’ll only need a biometric passport for passports issued after October and not just for travelling after October. This page at the UK US Embassy site has more info. passports, US, America, USA, immigration, VWP, biometrics

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I might need a visa

Oliver Brown

Julia is currently on an exchange program in America and I plan to visit in November. Which unfortunately means I need to get a visa. America (like a lot of the world) runs a visa waiver programme whereby people in certain situations don’t need a visa to enter the country. At the moment holders of a UK passport listed as British Nationals going for business or pleasure trips of less than 90 days that haven’t been arrested don’t need a visa. On October 24th that will change. As well as the above requirements you will need a biometric passport. Biometric passports are being brought in over here slowly. Any passport applications may, or may not receive a biometric passport as the increase the volume of BPs they can produce. Which means I can’t just apply for one. Sometime in “early October” however the change over to biometrics will be complete and all new UK passports will be biometric. But that is cutting it very close. They do have systems in place whereby the application can be sped up (down to as little as one day) but that involves extra hassle and extra cost. Possibly less than that needed to get a US visa though… visas, passports, US, America, biometrics

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The US Embassy

Oliver Brown

Julia is going to America next year on an exchange and she needs a student visa obviously (a J-1 if you’re interested). So we had a nice trip to London to the US Embassy this week. The first problem we faced was finding it. Using Google Maps gives different results depending on whether you use the address or the postcode. I figured the address was right since it at least showed a road with the right name. Speaking of the road, it’s blocked off. The whole road in front of the embassy is completely blocked to traffic and has armed police patrolling it. For various reasons we needed to find a bank so Julia asked one of the police officers. Somehow feels like misusing resource - asking someone with a gun that big for directions. Then once Julia was in (I couldn’t get in without an appointment) there was a three hour wait. But they said yes. Even the page full of Arabic in her passport (following a recent trip to the United Arab Emirates) didn’t worry them. America, US, passports, embassies, London, USA, exchange students

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Cheap International Calls

Oliver Brown

When I came up with the idea for mini themes it occurred to me that it could a reasonable possibility for advertising. Reasonable in theory only since my limited traffic would be a problem. But that doesn’t mean I could affiliate stuff up :P So here’s the first one: a fairly unobtrusive advert for a website of mine offering cheap international calls. I say unobtrusive simply because the layout of the content of the page is identical to before. And if you browse at a low resolution you don’t see the advert at all. One quick note, you have to view the post specifically to see the theme. I intentionally stopped them from showing on the homepage. cheap calls, international calls, Just Dial, adverts, advertising, call abroad

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