A mixed and varied entry today, full of opinions. See – I do have them…
First, Forza Motorsport on the XBOX. I always thought I was a Gran Turismo fan-boy through and through, but this game has shown me what a real RACING game should be. The game feels good to drive, and when you go careering off at a tight corner you know it was your fault. What makes it stand out, though, is the AI of the other drivers. They race you, they defend their lines, they try to out brake you, they make mistakes and spin off, they race amongst themselves. It feels like you’re in the midst of something, not just going for laptimes with moving chicanes in the way. I find myself eager to watch the replays during a race, just to see what the AI was up to, but then forgetting and diving straight into the next race as soon as possible, because it’s so much fun. And I haven’t even mentioned the customisable paint jobs and so on – that’s just icing. If you have an XBOX, go and order it. If you haven’t got an XBOX and you like racing games – go and order one, and THEN get the game. Really. It’s that good.
Now then. To stop me gushing for the entire entry, let’s move on to the new Ford Focus. From the pictures I’d seen, it looked like they’d skillfully replaced their best selling model with a Mk2 Astra, so it wasn’t love at first sight. Then I drove one and all chances went out the window. I’m really not a fan. It’s such a dull car. I drove a 1.65l petrol Zetec ‘higher’ car the other day, and, well, ‘meh’. As a motorway repmobile I suppose it’s just fine; it’s steady, quiet, easy on the driver, but you don’t feel anywhere near as ‘close’ to the drive as in the old Focus. I just don’t see why someone who is parting with their own cash would buy one of these rather than a high-spec 54-plate old Focus. Having said that, the company car mob will lap them up in their thousands, so another best-seller for Ford – wahoo…
Finally, as a Metallica fan, you just get used to never, ever, EVER hearing your favourite music on the radio. Imagine my surprise, then, as on a sunny Sunday morning, one of their songs emanated from the car stereo that was tuned to, of all things, Radio Two! Granted it was just one of their songs, not them, and just about their most mainstream, radio friendly song ever, but there it was. Someone called ‘Lucie Silvas’ has covered ‘Nothing Else Matters’, and since she’s kept the music largely the same as the old ‘elevator music version’, it works quite well. Someone should tell poor Lucie that one syllable words only need one note, though. And how to spell ‘Lucy’. As an aside, Google tells me she’s a ‘Pop Diva’, and despite the silly name spelling, she’s actually English. I’m glad I asked :o)
A mate at work (hi Kit) has just bought a new BMW. The other day we headed out to a little place called Harty Ferry to take some pictures of his new baby…
Update 23/5/2005: By the way, those pictures have been edited a little bit, to make up for the slightly dull day. Below is an un-played-with version for comparison.
No more comments? I suppose my critic must be busy commenting on the other 4,573,858,688 pages of the internet that he doesn’t like… :o)
OK – this morning I faxed my maturity instructions, as requested yesterday. This afternoon, I got a phone call from them, saying “Sorry, we can’t accept these details via fax, you have to post them”. I told them I’d been told to fax them (and gave them the name of the bloke who’d told me to), and they backed down. But come on. How hard can it be, really?
Having worked in a support environment, it amazes me that a company the size of this can run a helpdesk with apparently no problem management system in place. I have asked for a call number, service request number, problem number, and only succeeded in being told the helpdesk phone number (the one I had rung them on just seconds before). This makes the whole thing frustrating beyond belief as I have to re-tell my problem to everyone I speak to. From the other end of the phone, I know it’s much easier when a customer rings up and says “Hi, I’m calling about service request number 74747372”. At least then they’d be able to tell me there’d been no progress straight away, rather than wasting 20 minutes of my time…
. o O (Am I ever going to see this money?)
. o O (What about the second scheme I’ve just started?)
I have a ‘sharesave’ account, which means I pay a set amount into a savings account every month, and after 3 years I get a small bonus and a choice: I can either take the money and run, or use the money to buy shares in the company at the price they were when I started saving. The sensible thing to do is generally buy the shares and either hold on to them, or sell them for a quick profit (since shares generally go up). Well, I decided a while back that I’d do just that – buy the shares and then sell them at the now (slightly) higher price – job’s a godd’un, mine’s a pint.
Except I’ve been trying to tell the company that runs the scheme what I’d like to do for about 2 and half weeks now, and been met with a website that won’t accept my orders, helpdesk personnel who have no idea what I’m on about (I don’t want to open an account, I already have 2!!), and a somewhat flustered IT bloke who gave me his email address and has probably been wishing he hadn’t ever since.
It turns out that I could have faxed my instructions back when I first started having problems, and they would have sorted it out. Information that would have been useful 2 weeks ago, but which I have only been given today. So, assuming I still have all the documentation, I shall do that tomorrow, and hopefully that will be that. Stay tuned…
We spent the day at the races today (what what). No, not the poncy four-legged kind, the smelly, noisy, interesting kind :o) Pictures are over here
Update 5/5/2005: BTW – the pale blue Mini which features in a few of those pictures is owned by Bill Richards, a mate of a mate from work. Copies of pictures have been winging their way around the country, and some of them ended up on Bill’s site. :o)