Landline now back on…

Well, so I thought we had the same error as before.

I found our phone last week wasn’t working, did all the checks, but still couldn’t get a dial tone or receive calls.

Raised the fault with BT who fixed it in a couple of days.

Yesterday I found our landline wasn’t working, still no dial tone.

I couldn’t raise a new fault, as the old one hadn’t been closed. So I went through a long online chat to get the fault resolved and an engineer visit booked.

However in the end it was apparent that this wasn’t a BT fault, it was a problem with one of our sockets (I think more the filter) that meant that our landline was working, so I cancelled the BT engineer visit.

Old Phone
Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Landline was down…

Old Phone
Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

…but I hadn’t noticed!

Found out this morning that my phone landline wasn’t working. I couldn’t make or receive calls and there was no dialling tone.

The thing is I have no idea how long it has been like this, the fact that the internet is still working, means I wasn’t suspicious something was amiss. It was only after I was having trouble with my mobile on the Three network that I tried the landline.

I mainly have a landline for the internet, so rarely use the phone for making actual phone calls. I wasn’t expecting any calls either, so that didn’t raise any alarms either.

The support process from BT was quite simple, after I had Googled “BT Line Checker” as there didn’t appear to be a path from the MyBT page. Once I found that page, I had to go through a diagnostic process on the website, which included going out to buy a replacement new phone just in case it was the phone, as well as using the test socket on the master socket.

The end result is that BT Engineers will be out to fix this by Friday…

Though I have no evidence, my suspicions are that this fault may have been caused a few days ago when there was a bundle of BT Openreach vans outside our house where they were working on something…

Wazing in and out to Paris…

I spent the last week of July in France and used Waze extensively to ensure we were going in the right direction and to the right place. Generally it worked fine, but I did have a few issues.

I do like Waze and I find that it is quite accurate in terms of arrival times, usually provides effective routing and I like the live traffic updates. I remember once it took me on what felt like a weird route out of Reading, but it took just ten minutes, whereas if I had taken the route I would have taken without Waze (as I didn’t know Reading very well) it would have taken at least thirty minutes. Waze took me down quieter less busy road, so I was out of Reading very quickly.

So I had used it already to get us down to the Eurotunnel Terminal and then after travelling on Le Shuttle to get us down to the campsite at La Croix Du Vieux Pont.

One quirk was that after taking us down lots of main roads, Waze then directed us down some very narrow country roads and lanes on the way to the campsite. I am not sure if this was faster, but was probably more direct. I did find driving down those roads a little nerve wracking, especially at the end of a rather long drive. However all was well in the end and we got to the campsite safely and in a reasonable timeframe.

I also used Waze to get us to Pierrefronds and back again, this time no issues.

So it was without any concern that I decided to use Waze to get a route to the outskirts of Paris. When we booked our holiday we thought it would be nice to visit Paris for the day. When I looked into this possibility at home, the obvious thing appeared to be, was to do the coach trip that the campsite put on, or catch the train. I didn’t really want to drive to Paris, as mainly we didn’t have the right pollution sticker (not enough time) and the thought of driving in Paris filled me with dread. However once at the campsite we found that due to Covid-19 that there wasn’t a coach trip running. As for the train, I did some internet searching and it looked like you needed to book tickets in advance. I then checked with the tourist information office on the campsite, they actually said not to catch the train, as Covid-19 was causing problems with the timetables. The office suggested we drive to the outskirts of Paris, park and catch the Metro into the centre of Paris.

This sounded like a practical plan. I programmed the car park, Q-Park Saint-Denis Université, into Waze the night before and all was fine.

The next morning we set off. Waze it was though was having none of it, and failed to set a route. I thought nothing of this, as I had been having a few 4G connectivity issues at the campsite and I thought once we got going and into an area with better connectivity, Waze would get sorted. On a visit to a nearby supermarket I had seen a road sign for Paris so we set off.

However despite getting better 4G reception, Waze was still failing to set a route. I think that the routing server was offline. So in the end as we approached Paris, we stopped and I changed to Google Maps to get us to that last leg to Saint-Denis Université. This worked fine, and I am glad I had directions, as I don’t think relying on road signs or even a map would have worked.

Having parked, we caught the Metro to the centre of Paris and made our way to Tour Eiffel.

This journey also demonstrated how much I have come to depend on Waze for getting to places (and back).

Interestingly, coming back from Paris, Waze was working fine!

Alexa in my car…

car

Only the other day I was thinking how useful it would be to have Alexa in the car…

I use an Alexa device at home for timers, news, music, questions, and podcasts.

When driving, well before I start driving, I set up my phone via Bluetooth and then listen to music or podcasts through the car speakers. However if I want to skip a track or listen to another podcast, I either don’t skip, or I have to stop the car, park and then adjust the app to whatever I want to listen to.

It’s nice at home to say “Alexa, skip” or similar when listening to stuff.

Siri can do some stuff, but I find she isn’t as good as Alexa for some things. She’s great for sending texts for example via voice, but not quite as good as doing the music stuff, well I don’t subscribe to Apple Music is part of the issue, however I do have Amazon Prime.

So I was wondering if I could get Alexa for my car, but I generally think this whilst I am driving, so couldn’t search the web to find out.

However this week I saw Echo Auto on the Amazon website (well Alexa must have been listening).

What it does is it connects to the Alexa app on the phone and then plays through the car speakers.

Something else that looks useful is Waze integration, and I found this link on how to do that.

This looks like just what I was wanting…

However as we are still in lockdown and I haven’t actually filled my car with petrol since the middle of March. I am not driving long distances these days, which is when it would come in handy. Additionally, I am not doing too many short drives either.

I think it’s something I will add to my wish list and buy at a later date, once I start doing longer drives, which looks like it might be a few months away now, or even next year.

How are we using gas overnight with our new smart meter?

kettles on the boil
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

When we moved recently to a new tariff for our electricity and gas we had to have a smart meter installed. I was happy with the old system, but cheaper energy meant we had to go smart!

It has been interesting to see how much energy we are using and how that compares day to day.

Having moved the smart meter remote display to the kitchen, I started to notice that we seemed to be using a fair amount of gas and electricity overnight! This made no sense, as we didn’t have the heating on, no hot water was running and the only electrical device running was the fridge!

Observing over the week, I started to think, did we have a gas leak? Was something wrong with our smart meter? Was the smart meter display dodgy?

I thought I better contact our energy supplier. However first I decided to search the web to see if other people were having the same issue.

Well as it happens, they were.

Was something dodgy going on?

No.

What the “usage” was showing was the fixed daily  standing charge for the gas and electricity, which is added to the “bill” before any actual usage is added.

So it looks like first thing in the morning you have spent a lot on gas and electricity, whereas the reality its you haven’t, you’ve merely paid a charge to enable you to use gas and electricity.

Well that makes sense…

Though I wish something had been said about this when the whole thing was set up earlier this year.

I can now go and worry about something else now!

No more old Twitter

Back in August 2019 I wrote a blog post about how to use Chrome or Firefox extensions to use the “old” Twitter web interface instead of the new Twitter interface.

So you don’t like the new Twitter?

Well you can revert back to the old one in a couple of ways.

If you are running Chrome or Firefox then there is an extension you can install which forces your browser to use the old Twitter interface.

Alas, as of the 1st June, changes at Twitter has meant these extensions no longer work and you are now forced to use the new Twitter! When you attempt to use them you get this error message.

I am now looking for a Twitter client for my Mac which looks like the old Twitter…

I want the old Twitter back....

Harry Potter Teams and Zoom Backgrounds




The first time I went to the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour was in 2015, just after they had added the Hogwarts Express and Kings Cross set to the tour. At the end of November 2019 we made a return visit, mainly to see how different it was dressed for Christmas and with snow.

I took a fair few photographs and have posted them to my other blog.

Some of my photographs I thought might make excellent Teams and Zoom backgrounds.

Right click the images to download the images for your personal use only.

Hogwarts Castle

The Great Hall

Diagon Alley

Gryffindor Dorm

Gringotts Bank

The Burrow

Dumbledore’s Office

The Potions Classroom

Yule Ball Ice Sculpture

The Leaky Cauldron

Hogwarts Express

4 Privet Drive

BBC Zoom and Teams Backgrounds




The amazing BBC Archive have posted a series of images of empty BBC Television sets across the years to be used as Zoom or Teams backgrounds.

You can visit the page select the background you want and then save to your computer.

Of course there are some classic (and modern) TARDIS backgrounds.

TARDIS

I also like the fact I could be self-isolating with Del and Rodney, well maybe not.

Then I could be in Tom and Barbara’s kitchen in the Good Life.

Or sitting at the back of a Grange Hill classroom.

Plenty to choose from.