Saturday, 31 January 2009

Ker-ching! Or, personal injury claim finally gets closed

Please excuse the braggard nature of this post, but it's not often you get a cheque like this and I wanted to write it up for the record. Pretty much on the 2 year anniversary of my car crash in 2007, I've finally received the settlement payment for personal injury claim. Below is the cheque in all it's glory, 5 gs baby.

The money was awarded because the accident aggravated my existing RSI symptoms which had been settling nicely and resulted in a fair bit of pain and anguish. The accident happened here as I was driving home from work one night. The visibility from the side road is pretty awful, so when I saw a car stick it's nose out over the give way line, I took my foot off the accelerator but thought little of it. "Oh, he'll roll back"; they always roll back right? Not in this case unfortunately, the car started to pull out further and then froze, right in my path. Unfortunately there was a car on the other side of the road and insufficient stopping distance for me. My poor old Peugeot 306 got written off pwned. Well and truly.

Having never written a car off before, or filed a personal injury claim before, I didn't really know what to expect from the process and I must say that my insurer Admiral was excellent through out the whole process. They appointed Bott & Co solicitors to deal with my personal injury claim and the best way I can summarise my personal experience with them was that it took two years to conclude the case. I think that because my case was a little out of the ordinary (aggravation of pre-existing condition) that may have poured some treacle into the process. There were a number of mishaps with medical records not getting requested, not getting requested correctly, not being forwarded to specialists, not being kept up to date and I actually had to spend quite a lot of time pushing them along to get the whole thing resolved. I think my assigned solicitor phoned me twice, once to say hello and then a few weeks ago to make me the £ offer. The terse telephone style was well compensated by the 3.5 conifers worth of letters I had dispatched to me though.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Collecting the Royal Shield

You've probably noticed by now the cool new coins for 2009 that started popping up towards the end of last year. If you've had one of the new £1 coins, you'll probably know that when you fit all the coins together, they make up the Royal Shield from the Royal Coat of Arms. I don't dig that they're Royal, but as soon as I learned that they fitted together, I knew I had to collect them. This week I finally got the elusive 50p piece from the nice lady in the Post Office in Hursley, so here they are in all their glory:

Royal Shield composed of new 2009 UK coins
There are also some new £2 coins about, one commererating Robert Burns and the other Charles Darwin, but I haven't seen any of those yet.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Welcome to the Xbox Hospital

On the 30th of December, my barely used Microsoft Xbox 360 finally gave up the ghost and developed the "red ring of death" (RROD [ruh-rod]), or to use the Microsoft terminology "three lights flashing red on the Ring of Light". I'd just got back from being away for Christmas and I suspect it may have caught a cold. We turned the heating off while we were away, and returned home to find out flat had been replaced by an ice box and I can only assume that my 360 caught the sniffles. May had contracted the winter vomiting thing, so while she was in bed I figured I'd rinse through Gears of War 2. Unfortunately, this was not to be as my 360 started displaying psychedelic chequerboard patterns and freezing, before finally refusing to start at all and displaying the RROD.

After filling in Microsoft's online form, I got an email advising me that there are three methods for returning consoles (electronic label, paper label, pre-paid shipping box) and that I would be assigned one of the methods. A little later my electronic UPS label arrived by email so I packaged up my console and checked out where the nearest UPS depot was (Eastleigh: 7.2 miles). After ensuring May had adequate supplies, I dashed out to the UPS depot on New Years Eve, arriving about 40 minutes before they shut for the day. After ringing the buzzer, the chap who came to the door took one look at my parcel, and opened the door saying "Welcome the the Xbox Hospital". A bit of quizzing revealed that my delivery was his 10th of the day for New Years Eve, and also that he gets an average of 40-50 a week. Pretty staggering given that I was using one of three shipping methods.

My console arrived back today, 16 days later, seemingly repaired but running in hilarious 640x480 resolution. I was all ready to phone Microsoft and complain about the fact I'd been paying for Live while my console was away but not able to use it, but I have to confess I was quietly impressed to discover they'd pre-empted me by putting a 30 day Live card in the box with the return.

Friday, 9 January 2009

My unbelievable new O2 contract

Following on from my October post about checking my O2 bills, I've just negotiated a new 18 month contract.

I was waiting for O2 to release the Nokia E71 handset, so when my previous contract expired I moved onto Simplicity (600mins, 1000txts, unlimited data - £20p/m) to save a bit of cash before going back on contract when the E71 came out. Now, I think I first asked O2 about the E71 back in August last year, and since then the release date has been moving back by a week or so every time I've called up to check. That's been pretty frustrating, given that the handset has been available on T-Mobile, Three & Vodafone for all that time.

Just before Christmas, O2 did release the E71 - but only to their business customers. When I went through the business sales process, even after applying the maximum available discounts, they couldn't beat the standard T-Mobile price. I called the O2 Select line to ask when they'd be getting the handset on normal tariffs, and they were unable to offer any date at all. I vented my spleen somewhat at this point, and said that I was struggling to find reasons to stay with O2; poor communication, no ability to commit to provide the product I want, poor price flexibility etc, and that I was about ready to leave and go to T-Mobile.

Often the networks call your bluff at this point and give you your PAC code to leave and transfer your number, however thanks to a string of horribly expensive bills incurred whilst travelling on business (and thus paid by my expenses, not me), I seem to have made it into the "retain at all costs" bucket. Even so, I was surprised at the offer of 18 months on the lowest tariff (75mins, 200txts) for £0. Yes, that's right, and 18 month contract for NOTHING.

Of course, I had to push this further so this week I called back and asked them if they could still do the previous offer. Then I asked them if they could add unlimited data to it. The chap let slip at this point that he could ask the system what was possible, so I decided to go all out and give him my require minutes and texts and asked him to get me a suitable contract for free.

I have to say that he rose to the challenge as me offered 18 months of O2 Online 25 (200mins, 400txts - £25 p/m) plus unlimited data bolt-on (£7.50 p/m) plus international traveller service (cheaper roaming £2.99 p/m) for a truly astonishing £0 p/m for the first 15 months, and then £10 p/m for the final 3 months. As I'm a Select customer, I can upgrade after 15 months anyhow, so I'm basically getting my mobile phone service for free until April 2010. Thanks O2!

I don't get a new handset included, but I do still have the option to buy one handset for cost price during my contract, so the plan is that I'll buy the E71 when it finally releases for (hopefully!) around £180. That would make the total damage £11.50 a month for 18 months!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Status: December

(This month now complete thanks to my soup)

1 December
22:54 Tim had a good time at Pilates. Excited about the pre-Christmas 'masterclass' and party.
16:09 Tim is departing from Leam.
13:36 Tim is finishing up at Centre Parcs.

2 December
18:42 Tim is as yet saviourless. Oh well, hot tub time.
3 December
11:04 Tim is mashing things up.
00:06 Tim is lolling at free £20 from Amazon.

4 December 
21:02 Tim is thinking about a recipe, £175k purchase price with 25% down seems like the needful.
12:03 Tim predicts the new 2% interest rate will NOT be passed onto mortgages, but WILL be passed onto savers.
11:16 Tim is livid at Brown's mortgage help plan. If I had debt, I'd get help, as I have savings I get screwed with low interest rates.

5 December
23:18 Tim has cooked along with Ramsay.
20:02 Tim is disassembling his iPod Nano.
19:28 Tim has no food processor. Hope Gordon doesn't get angry.
14:49 Tim is going ice skating.
10:57 Tim shall be mostly metal dectecting, thanks to cousin Paul forgetting that he had my address as his PayPal delivery address.

6 December
12:42 Tim is playing No More Heroes.

7 December
23:22 Tim is pondering how when you wash the bedding, everything always ends up inside the duvet cover. What is THAT about?
13:38 Tim is getting Christmas ready for May.

8 December
10:24 Tim just got his first Christmas card.

12 December
08:28 Tim fought the iPod with Dean, the iPod won.
16:39 Tim loves the new Netvibes layouts:
02:58 Tim might have a cheeky nap.

13 December
21:03 Tim had an odd night out last night. Verbally pwned a n00b at the bar with my l33t Firefox extension skills AND saw random headbutt violence.
04:01 Tim is 2 dine for £10.

14 December
21:51 Tim is tidying, wrapping and preparing for hosting the 'awesome' Monmouth Square Christmas drinks.
00:52 Tim is anticipating the arrival of the oldies.
07:02 Tim is an icing dervish.

15 December
17:23 Tim would like a smoke alarm that doesn't get triggered by steam.
19:45 Tim is super early for Physio.
02:36 Tim is going to see Coldplay @ the O2.
05:01 Tim is in the O2 in block b2, seat d26. Coldplay is 7 min.
07:25 Tim is embroiled in Jubilee line closure chaos. On 188 bus to Russell Square. Coldplay do a good gig though.

16 December
08:06 Tim has been savioured by the 188 bus driver. Just made the 12.05 to Winch.
18:07 Tim 's drive to work this morning was highly reminiscent of the fog stage in Lotus Turbo Challenge II.
07:49 Tim is now the 6th best assassin in the world.

17 December
06:07 Tim has been to the pilates Christmas do. It was good.

18 December
16:46 Tim is going to Aldi.
20:29 Tim is going to Champneys, via the Little Chef.

19 December
01:40 Tim is striking the right balance of active/inactive. Exercise classes, massage and naps.

20 December
18:12 Tim is checking out of Champneys. On to Guildford.
06:26 Tim seems to have a bug, upset tummy, headache and aches and pains.

21 December
02:59 Tim smells of wood smoke from the hippy gathering, it was good though!

22 December
03:20 Tim is back in Winchester for a few rest days. Sticking to the story that stomach upset was from Champneys detox as that's better than having a poxy virus over xmas.
04:36 Tim is cooking dinner and Tivoing Panorama (aka the Robert Peston show).
05:44 Tim is being punished to save the feckless. Damn right Robert!

23 December
18:11 Tim is avoiding Hollyoaks.
18:31 Tim is trimming Facebook friends.

24 December
09:58 Tim has been working on mashups. Should go to sleep now.
12:13 Tim 's Grandma says he's a scrooge, and that she's disgusted he didn't send a card.
18:48 Tim is in Leamington Spa, anyone out tonight?
22:03 Tim is in the White Horse.

25 December
16:46 Tim has a selection of lovely gifts.

26 December
13:22 Tim is en route to Long Stanton.

27 December
00:55 Tim is lolling at his brother playing Braid.
15:51 Tim went to the final day of Woolies. It was very odd.
21:08 Tim is wearing Christmas socks and playing Escape from Atlantis by Waddingtons games.

28 December
14:23 Tim is pwning May at crap official FB Scrabble.
18:54 Tim is finding old photos to scan, a la Mowlam.

29 December
11:26 Tim is getting ready to go to Marek & Alex's wedding.
15:54 Tim is amazed that PJ is Morcs' date.
19:31 Tim did not win the wedding speech duration sweepstake organised by Giggles.

30 December
14:24 Tim is nursing May and watching his Xbox 360 output weird GFX.
18:04 Tim has the RROD.