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Thanks, Orange

It looks like Orange have nuked one of my email addresses. I received a message back in mid-October to say that the address would soon be deleted due to me leaving my contact.
I was immediately on the phone to customer service to ask what the hell, and the assistant-person said to me not to pay any attention to the message as it was clearly an error, I have not resigned from anything.
And, today, just after six pm, was the last time my phone syncronised with that mailbox. Now? Now it seems to simply not exist, except for if I try to create it as an alias in which case I'm told that it already exists.

I didn't feel like explaining all of this to somebody, so I have left a message on their help forum. See if I get anywhere with that.

Thankfully, it was only really used as a place to receive messages from the RISC OS Fr mailing list, so it wasn't as if they nuked the main account (that said, the main account has mom's name (as the phone line is installed in the name of the home owner) so I I mostly use that for notifications of when somebody have left a voicemail on the landline).

Thanks, Orange.


Shed lights

I got around to changing the other bulbs in the shed. Now they're all LED bulbs.

Replacement bulb
Replacement bulb.

The bulbs that were in the shed were all 75W. The one I replaced with the switch that I talked about last week (or the week before?) is one bulb on it's own. The other switch controls two bulbs. Anyway, there's three of them, so 225W when all turned on.
Now? 7W, 8.2W, and 11W. That's 26.2W or about a tenth of what it used to be. The bulb by the way through is 60W equivalent (I thought it was a 75W one). The bulb in the middle is 75W equivalent. And the big bulb at the end by the mower is 100W equivalent.
So it can be nice and bright in there now at night.

Especially since I cleaned the glass around that bulb. It was so grotty a good half of the light must have been blocked by the gunk!


I also had that string of lights that I bought for a gag to put on my car. Well, they were on special offer for, I think, €7 or €8. Something like that. And since then they've stayed sitting beside where I park the mower. Oh well, might as well do something with them...

A string of lights
A string of lights.

That's also me not quite appreciating what... what were the specs, 160 bulbs in 15 metres? Something like that. And when you're hanging it from any convenient point, that works out to be a fair bit longer than one might have first thought!


Mower mechanics

While I was there, I topped up the mower's battery. The grass looks like it needs another cut. It's been... damn near minutes since I last cut it. <sigh>

The battery is FUL
The battery is FUL.

While that was going on, I tried taking off a side panel because the steering is loose. Unfortunately it's not as easy as simply unbolting it, so I did it all up again. I think I'm going to have to approach it from underneath. Not really looking forward to that.

However, just before Alison moved away (she's up in Normandy now), she gifted me a nice solid clicky-wrench and a set of Imperial sized sockets. Makes it really quite easy to undo the bolts when you can attack them with a 9/16 rather than swearing because 14mm is too small and 15mm is too big.

The wheels are also seriously wonky, as the hole for the axle has worn down from all the trundling around it has been doing. So I have an axle that's about 20mm across, sitting in a hole through the wheel that's probably closer to 35mm!
I think I've sourced some replacement wheels. They're about €25 each (from AutoPortee Discount and Amazon alike). I'll need to get the calipers out to verify the axle size and measure the wheel width before ordering, just to be sure.

I think I will also need to bite the bullet and start looking for a new front axle to replace the one that is partially broken. With the Imperial wrench I ought to be able to get things apart. The main problem isn't so much that (I can prop up the front on some breezeblocks) as much as "Rally" not really existing as a brand.
I think, and I think I've mentioned this before, that it's a fairly generic design that is badged by Electrolux, AYP, Husqvarna, and some others. I think that may well be this part, but really I'd need to take it off, photograph it, measure it, and send that to AutoPortee to ask if it's the same part. At €45,88 it's a little pricey to order it and hope it fits. Especially given as there's another one that's very similar. The other one fits an AYP mower. This one fits loads of mowers...which are probably all the same basic frame.

But, for now, the battery is charged so I can take it for a spin, one evening or this weekend? Depends upon the weather. Assuming, of course, that the engine fancies starting. I've pretty much given up trying to work out how to start it. Some times, 1/2 choke and spraying WD40 as it cranks (the butane combusts easily) works. Other times, no choke and drop in some petrol as it's cranking. Other times, full choke and air filter on. There seems no rhyme or reason behind it, other than "I'll damn well start if and when I'm ready". <shrug>


Worried kitty!

She wanted to be cute. She wanted to look good. But she was suddenly aware that her human was playing in water. For some reason arranging rocks in the water. And this is a kitty that howls like the end of the world when it rains. So it's pretty much a given that she isn't going to like water in any form other than safely in the corner in a little plastic bowl that can be ignored...

Unhappy kitty
I spy with my little...aaargh! Water! NOOOO!!!


Multicooker cake

I got a pack of pre-made cake mix (not going to experiment with proper cake mix!) just to see... is this possible?

Here's what went into the multicooker:

Cake - input
Cake - input.

The instructions for the cake said 20-25 minutes at 145°C. I know from the electric cooker that it would probably take an extra ten minutes.
The instructions for the multicooker suggested 130°C for 45 minutes as a good option. So I set that. Closed the lid, let it get on with things.

Here's the result:

Cake - output
Cake - output.

It initially looks weird and uncooked, until one remembers that in the multicooker, there's no heat source from above, so the top of the cake won't be browned in the same was as happens in an oven.

It was, actually, quite nicely cooked. Sadly the same stodgy crap as I've come to expect from these things. But in terms of cooking, it was a success.

Having my cake and eating it.

The bowl, buttered up beforehand, released the cake easily once it had cooled a little. It was then effortless to clean up. So, all in all, a successful experiment. I might have a crack at trying a real cake. Not one of the Betty Crockers, just eggs and flour and... I'd better Google this... ☺


It's also really useful for heating up frozen meals. Don't need to slop it into the frying pan and get annoyed when the butane doesn't want to come out of the little gas bottle because it's a snowflake and can't handle the cold. FFS, you're explodey fire... but nope, don't wanna.
So, plan B:

Now it's a frying pan
Now it's a frying pan.

Such a useful little gizmo. Thanks mom!



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Steve Drain, 21st February 2022, 23:31
My lungs are not too good and any smoke, especially from frying, is not friendly. So a month or so ago we bought a Ninja air-frier. I have to say that it has been a real boon. Chips are much better than even a deep-fat frier and steaks are great. Frozen meals heat up well and have a browned top. I imagine it would cook a splendid cake, but swmbo does the best anyway. ;-) 
J.G.Harston, 26th February 2022, 21:06
Virgin have borked my internet and mobile phone. 
I use an internet dongle and a couple of weeks ago my internet just... stopped. No explanation, laptop internet status just said "No internet". Spent a frustrating weekend trying to get the dongle to work, resetting it, power-cycling it, factory-resetting it. 
I then spent an hour in the library on Monday morning trying to connect to my account. Every time I clicked on the account for the dongle it swapped to the account for my phone. At some point a "chat to helpdesk" button appeared and I went for it. Eventually contacted a human who dug into things. 
"Ah yes", quoth they "we terminated your account last Thursday". 
WTF??? Why? 
"We don't sell that product any more." 
"Do you want a new contract?" 
Hell yeah! 
So they went through everything to set up a new account, and sent my a replacement SIM card, which I got yesterday and put into my dongle today. I've now spent the entire day trying to Get. The. Damn. Thing. To Work. 
J.G.Harston, 26th February 2022, 21:12
And on top of that, my mobile phone (also Virgin) has stopped working. It doesn't power on, it seems to not charge. I plug the charger in and nothing happens. Thing is, I don't know if "nothing happening" is the correct functionality for it to be charging, or whether it should indicate it's charging. My laptop flashes an LED when it charges, but this mobile phone? No idea. 
So I dug out a spare phone and transfered the SIM to it. All three chargers I tried on the earlier phone work and charge this phone, displaying "phone charging" as soon as it's plugged in, but on trying to make a call it just says "Can't register SIM". 
I've had the first phone plugged into a charger for ten hours now, so it's defininately borked. And I'm currently staying with a friend and using his internet, so I'll lose that as well as soon as I go home. And you can guaranttee there'll be no humans contactable until working hours on Monday. 
Rick, 26th February 2022, 21:12
After a week of people (volunteers) telling me that my contract was cancelled and/or I changed my contact for a different one - neither of which happened, and it shows the limitations of having random volunteers crowdsource your support... I've finally managed to get the attention of a support employee who asked for my details (to confirm who I am). 
I'll let you know what happens.
Rick, 26th February 2022, 21:25
Unbelievably poor form from Virgin. 
If I had a service I was paying for cancelled, I'd be inclined to say "hell no" and go elsewhere. 
This? Orange screwed up an email alias, somehow. Everything else is fine. As I'd expect it to be. 
But, then, the UK seems to be rather lax about what service providers can do. I listen a lot to Love 80s Manchester and there are frequent adverts for Virgin and Sky broadband, and the speedy text at the end notes that prices may go up. 
I think I've paid ~€70 ever since I had 500MB/month and free calls to a nominated number. Now it's 130GB/month and free calls to mobiles and landlines (any except special tariff). Oh, and I have access to 5G. Not that it exists anywhere nearby... 
As far as I'm aware, the only thing I have lost is free Deezer. It was nice while it lasted, but it's really easy to burn through 500MB in a month (it's a little over 22MB/day). Now I have "unlimited data" (well, about 5GB a day, or the previous 500GB every hour for eleven hours a day, 28 days a month (easier to calculate)), I can just grab songs and such off YouTube as I wish. 
I wonder if they'll consider 130GB to be enough, or if I'll get a text telling me it's now 250GB a month? For what it's worth, I normally use about two and a half to three! 

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