Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Parcel Force and Paypal

I sold my iMac earlier this week and in the process of completing the online "paperwork" I pressed the button to print a packing slip.

This usually prepared a nice label which I could print and affix to my parcel ready to take to the post office. Except this time was a little different...

It asked me for the weight of the package (14Kgs), Paypal already knew the source and destination so I had a selection of postal options to choose which covered this journey. I chose "Parcelforce 24" and was given a quote of £11.99 - really good value! So I accepted, paid for this through paypal and instead of a nice address label - I actually printed the barcoded label for ParcelForce! All I had to do was drop it off at a post office or arrange a driver collection.

Now this was where the fun came in!

I'd chosen "drop off at Post Office" since they couldn't offer a (free) collection from my house today so I wondered up to the post office and they didn't really know what to do; washed their hands of it and claimed they weren't touching it because it takes business away from the Post Office. However, they did offer to post it if I paid the difference between the £11.99 I paid online and the £23.50 they were going to charge. Yep you guessed it - I turned around and wondered out slugging this oversized, overweight package underarm...

Turns out the post office were wrong to turn me away due to the fact I had all the completed paperwork and barcodes affixed correctly - but not much I can do about that now. I travelled down to Dixon's Blazes and dropped the package off at the Parcel Force depot and it travelled out tonight.

When I spoke to Parcel Force they explained that the Post Office should have accepted it since they are Parcel Force collection points. The lady I spoke to explained that a lot of them don't realise the discount offered by ParcelForce/Paypal for eBay purchases - at 50% it's awesome and the lucky winner of my auction got a £10 refund from the original P&P charge!

Next time you sell something on eBay - check it out for a real saving in postage! It may take away business from your local Post Office, but at those savings with free collection - Post Office, get with the times!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hurricane Dean

Having just read that (Category 5) Hurricane Dean has just hit the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula I have to send my sympathies to those who live there. 18 months ago my wife and I spend our Honeymoon on a cruise around this region of the world where we visited both Costa Maya (currently being hit by Dean) and Cozumel which had been pretty much destroyed by Hurricane Wilma (also Category 5) only a few weeks before.

Honeymoon - 484

The photo above shows the damage Wilma caused to a solid concrete pier at Cozumel.

Our tour guide in Cozumel was so pleased to see us as all tourism stops in these areas when a hurricane hits - and doesn't return until you've recovered. When tourism is your only income which is the case for much of this coastline this can be quite difficult!

Honeymoon - 842

Costa Maya (above) is a completely manufactured "tourism town" serving up to 3 cruise ships a day (probably 7 or 8 thousand tourists a day). Who knows what state Hurricane Dean will leave this place in and when those tourists will return.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Maglev Trainset

The linked article has a great video demonstrating a "not so ordinary" train-set operating on superconductive magnetic levitation!

I want one of these! One wonders how long it would take to make these things more practical for lifesize everyday use... Imagine closer to room temperature superconductors and filling up on liquid coolant at the fuel station! Of course you'd need something to propel you too...

Link to watch video

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Simpsons Movie

I went to watch the Simpsons Movie last night thanks to the Orange 2 for 1 deal at the Showcase Cinemas!

As (oddly) seems to be the case, when Louise and I go to watch a movie, all the other screens are bustling; except the one we're in! The screen last night had about ten people in it in total - fantastic!

I was a bit worried about not enjoying this film as I'd heard mixed opinions and having watched various adverts and clips either I'd watched all the funny parts or that was the tip of the iceberg...

Well, I thoroughly enjoyed it! I hate it when people tell me what happens so don't worry I'm not going to tell you anything other than - there is someone credited in the voice credits at the end of the film who doesn't actually appear. Whilst not realising this at the time, I noticed it and later found out it's apparently a joke on "those who obsessively read the movie credits" - D'oh!! Worst Joke Ever! Wikipedia is now telling me they were cut from the movie - oh well, guess I'll have to wait 'til the DVD release now to find out!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

More Work in Olvera

Olvera Work - 12

We visited Olvera again on Friday to do some final bits of work in the house before we head back to Scotland. The main task was to get the water switched back on... I walked down to the workmen who were laying the new street next to ours and in my best Spanish asked if they had a key to switch the mains water on for me. "Neccesito Fontenero" - You need a plumber was the reply... Goodey! However they did point over to a chap measuring the road who looked like a plumber because he was wearing blue trousers; so over I went. The guy walked up with me to the house armed with a small spanner - I tried turning the tap last week with a spanner and knew this wouldn't work... To his credit he wondered off and got the real tool. He explained they didn't turn the water on unless the owners were there just in case of ruptured pipes. Well what did you know, a large gushing noise was heard and water came spurting out some brickwork in the kitchen - damn! I then asked him to switch it off and again in my best Spanish asked him to switch it back on once I've turned the water tap off at the water meter in the front of the house. It held and we had control of the water in our hands. Our neighbour was with us during this work and was egging us on to ask the guy for the tool so we could do this ourself!!

Anyway, we had to smash away the brickwork to get to the mains pipe, cut it out and replace it with a temporary rubber pipe giving us back a supply of water!

The rest of the day continued where Louise painted the front room getting rid of the grey concrete brickwork we left from last year - much brighter now! The following day we pulled in more tiles of the kitchen to investigate for termites and removed the kitchen cupboards and chimney wood.

Removing the chimney wood was quite fun - there is an extractor fan underneath along with a switch. The cable was wrapped around the wood and would have been live, so I isolated the electricity from the mains and armed with my screwdriver immediately electrocuted myself on the "neutral" which in Spain appears to be constantly live. My father in law always carries around a testing kit when he works on anything in Spain and now I know why - don't trust anything!! I cut the cable out and left it hanging. I manage to shock myself again by inadvertently touching a slightly bared portion of the cable insulation - dammit!!

I also rewired the light on our second floor to use new black metal lights we'd bought a while back which converted more lights from the old 125V to the new 240V. I did this really carefully since I didn't want another electric shock!

We feel a lot better about the house now since we know the termites have probably been attracted to the house because that water pipe has been leaking for a while! Pulling the tiles off revealed good solid walls with little activity in them and confirmed the termites are subterranean. We have water and 240V electricity and most importantly - no termite food - so it is now practical to spend time in and do up as we go!

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