Daily Archives: Friday, 4th Aug 2006

Hot and sticky

Yes, the weather has gone off in another entertaining direction. It’s warmer than it was earlier in the week, and while according to the thermometer, it’s a few degrees cooler than it was a week or so ago, it feels a lot hotter, probably because it’s a wee bit more humid. Well, a lot more humid. Distinctly sticky, and not comfortable at all. Mutter.

And my weight’s up, too. I really must get some more exercise. Soon. No, really.

Royal Mail Goes Postal

The Royal Mail seems to have been taken over by aliens from the planet Confusion. They’re taking a bold step forward in an effort to totally bewilder the British public and indeed British businesses. Up till now, sending things by post in the UK has been simple. All you needed to know was how heavy the thing you were sending happened to be. You also had to choose whether you wanted to send it First Class (generally reliable, but not guaranteed next day delivery), Second Class (quite a bit cheaper, might take a few days) or by an insured or guaranteed delivery service. Not too hard. Companies that send a lot of post have franking machines that weigh letters, work out the correct postage and print it on the envelope all in one operation, which saves a lot of time.

But from August 21, all this changes. From then on, instead of just weighing your item, you’ll have to measure it too. They say, reasonably enough, that large items cost them more to handle than smaller ones. So there are now three size ranges, each with its own postal rates.

  • There’s “Letter”, which is normal letters, greeting cards and the like, so long as they’re not too big and not over 5mm thick. Yes, you have to check the thickness. Oh, and not over 100g in weight.
  • Then there’s “Large Letter”, which is fine for magazines and bigger items. So long as they’re not over 25mm thick. Or over 750g in weight.
  • Anything over that is a “Packet”.

And a packet, coincidentally, is what this is likely to cost. There is a small benefit in that the maximum weight for a letter with a standard stamp is increased from 60g to 100g. So if you’re sending very heavy thin paper, you’ll be fine. But things like CDs and DVDs, which don’t weigh much, and so were pretty cheap to post will now be “Large Letter” size, and will cost more.

And businesses will have to spend more time (and that really does mean money) sending their post.

They’ve sent this handy size chart to every house (and presumably there’s a business version too) in the country, which must have cost a bit. But at least they aren’t doing the usual evil corporate thing of trying to tell us this is for our benefit.

Going Postal

Going Postal

But all of this, irritating as it is, pales into insignificance compared to this statement in the small print on the back of the leaflet:

Royal Mail, the Cruciform[1] and the colour red are registered trade marks of Royal Mail Group plc

Got that? The colour red is a trade mark. Not a particular shade of red (Pantone 9039343xfd333 or whatever), but the whole colour. :uhoh:

OK, presumably they mean “red used by people offering mail delivery services” or something, but that’s not what it says. I can just see postal lawyers attacking London buses over this…

[1] Their logo, which I won’t show here in case they send the lawyers to see me :laugh:

Why you should always read the documentation

I was just prompted to install the latest update to PerfectDisk, the disk defragger that I use on my main PC. It’s a nice, well-behaved piece of software that does a much more thorough job than the built-in tool you get with Windows XP. It also appears to be developed by humans, rather than the Borg[1]. In the release notes that popped up on screen while the update was installing was this little gem:

Corrected a bug in the boot time defragmentation. PerfectDisk records the current time on shutdown and compares it to the system time at reboot. On Windows XP, Service Pack 2, the system time at reboot can be earlier then the system time at shutdown. Raxco was unaware that Microsoft was able to travel back in time.

[1] Not that I am in any way comparing any Microsoft employees to the Borg :yes:

The Toyminator – Robert Rankin

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Here we are with the latest piece of deranged brilliance from Robert Rankin. After last year’s more or less stand alone Brightonomicon, we’re back into series mode for this year’s treat. The Toyminator[1] is a sequel to the wonderfully-titled The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse[2], which is a Good Thing. It’s a bit odd, reading this so soon after Jasper Fforde’s The Fourth Bear – while being quite different in style and content, there is a common theme…

Things are looking bad in Toy City (formerly Toy Town). Hero of HCBA[3] and one-time mayor Eddie Bear has been run out of town. And Bad Things are happening. Cases of Spontaneous Toy Combustion (STC) are happening all over town. Eddie again teams up with his comedy sidekick Jack, determined to crack the case before the Toy City Police crack him.

Eddie’s been through some trouble, but he’s the same bear – determined and crafty as ever, and he still can’t manage comparatives. He’s as smart as. In fact, the book is as funny as. And as crazy as.[4]

Eddie and Jack get into all the usually unusual adventures, finding themselves in a different world – one altogether stranger than Toy City, and quite deadly for toys like Eddie. It’s oddly familiar to readers, though. Expect lots of puns, gags, outrageously telegraphed gags that nobody else would dare attempt, and even fewer people would have their characters comment on

I don’t know how he gets away with it

Well, I know how he gets away with it. It’s because he does it supremely well. Rankin is in a class of his own. Probably because the other kids are scared of him.

Read this, and you’ll never trust a chicken again. :eek2:

The Toyminator: it’s as cool as.

[1] And with a title like that, you know you’re in for trouble…

[3] If you think I’m typing that title in full every time, you’re as sane as Mr Rankin :tongue:
[4] Eddie does that a lot :laugh: