Friday, September 27, 2013

Royal Mail Privatisation

It is fundamentally disgraceful to sell off the Royal Mail. The government says it is a way to bring in fresh revenue.

If someone really does have £3bn to purchase the Royal Mail, how on earth are they going to be able to afford to pump more money into it to upgrade facilities? Either prices go up, or costs go down.

But hey, we can't afford everything, people want their benefits and taxes to go down - but we don't want to pay for it.

It is a mistake to sell off the Royal Mail, but it's a mistake for us as the electorate to expect something for nothing.

Odeon: Broadway Plaza Review

I recently went to see Kick Ass 2 at the Odeon Broadway Plaza cinema. I usually use CineWorld at Broad Street as that is a wonderful cinema. Odeon however had the film I wanted to see.

There was no obvious notice from outside that the cinema was actually open. I had to tentatively scout for an open door. Very uninviting.

I collected my tickets from the machine and was seen by an "usher" or ticket inspector who validated my ticket and asked me to fill out a survey. My sensors were up.

The male toilets downstairs were filthy. Missing soap dispensers of which only two were available, and only one had soap. Even that fell off the wall while using it. A cubicle had grafiti and the ceiling was filthy.

I purchased a drink, popcorn and hotdog. I was not told about a lift which would have helped. It's difficult enough to get that up the stairs without assistance and it was worse for me with my vertigo. I managed one flight of stairs to the landing and saw the next flight of stairs. I had to wolf down my hot dog and leave my drink and popcorn on the landing to go back downstairs to find out if they even ha a lift explaining I had vertigo and left my food upstairs. No help from anyone, so I had to go up and get my drink and take that down, go back up again and get the popcorn and then find the lift.

Finally on the top floor, the pool tables were stained which didn't look good, but I got to my screen to be informed that the air conditioning had broken! Fine, last chance for me to see the film. Sat in the seat and already noted something was off. The seat was broken and sloping forward, so had to move again to take the next seat.

In all honesty though, the screen and audio quality was probably one of the best I've seen. Better than CineWorld.

But the Hot Dog I had I think was going a bit stale as the bun was quite chewy.


  • Unwelcoming entrance
  • Not told about a lift
  • Staff not offering help to bring my food down after suffering from vertigo
  • Dirty pool tables
  • Filthy toilet ceiling
  • Missing soap dispensers
  • Unstocked soap dispensers
  • Soap dispensers that fall off the wall
  • Stale hot dog bun
  • No Air Conditioning in Screen 9
  • Broken seat

To be honest, I don't think I'd ever use that Cinema ever again which is a shame because the screen and audio are brilliant. But it does need to ensure the facilities are up scratch, especially if you're handing out requests for surveys!

BT Rant - FTTC for CMSPR / Hall Green and Springfield in Birmingham

When I heard that BT was going to roll out Fibre to my local telephone exchange the CMSPR "Springfield" exchange, I was absolutely delighted.

I don't like Virgin cable, and quite frankly being the second city, the fibre rollout by BT has been appalling. Other more rural locations were getting it before us. 

But first the Exchange became marked as a Future Exchange and I remained patient. It then rolled over to a "Coming Soon" exchange and would be enabled by the end of September 2013. Brilliant News. I can finally move away from ADSL2+ and with BeThere being sold off to Sky, it's a good change to migrate to a new service.

Far be it from me to be ignorant of how they install fibre, I've read up on how other people get their cabinets installed. Sometimes a contractor plonks a cabinet on the ground then come back weeks later to dig up and install power, trunking to BT man holes for routing cable then weeks and months later, possibly fibre.

In our area, things seemed to be moving a little free-er. The cabinet installers were doing an amazing job and were installing the new FTTC cabinets with break neck speed. They dug the ground, the trenches, laid the foundations, connected the power, put trunking to the BT manholes and filled in the ground. They did this really qucikly and very impressibly. Even a cabinet that seemingly had blocked trunking was dug up a week later and relaid. I spotted cables installing fibre a few days later and suddenly the first few cabinets came live.

Within two weeks, we had 10 cabinets go live. It seemed there was a real push to get everything installed and connected. Cabinets 26, 8, 9 and 10 which run east to west on Cole Bank Road, School Road and Lakey Lane were enabled, then Cabinet 1 on College Road in Springfield was enabled and that was a mile north of the Exchange on Stratford Road. 

I was seeing cable installers in the area and it was always amazing to see the next new cabinet go live on the BT DSL Checker. But then it all went quiet. I stopped seeing the engineers and there was very little progress being made anywhere else. The rollout schedule stopped making any sense. They had enabled Cabinet 3 and 6 on Stratford Road between Cabinet 1 and the Exchange, 15 on Hamlet Road and 16 on Highfield Road near Stratford Road. The last one I saw go live was 23 on Fox Hollies Road opposite York Road, and that was after waiting a week on the DSL Checker.

We now have 11 Cabinets live after around four weeks (the first ten done in two weeks) and it looks like to me there's very little progress being made now. After cabinet 15, the fibre run goes past Cabinet 21 on Stratford Road and round the corner to Cabinet 16 on Highfield Road. It was after this that Cabinet 23 went live. This is when the roll out coverage started to confuse me because remaining cabinets on Stratford Road (30 and 21), Lakey Lane (24 and 25), Highfield Road and Robin Hood Lane (14, 22) were being overlooked despite being the most logical geographically.

Ten live cabinets in two weeks with a Cabinet 1 mile away being enabled, my Cabinet half a mile from the Exchange would be a cinch! The cabinet is in, power connected, shorter distance, easy.

After the two weeks, I noted a distinct lack of activity and to all intents and purposes, the fibre roll out had all but stopped apart from the odd cabinet here and there.

Other users say that there can be blockages, problems with ducting, power, problems with all sorts of stuff.

Given how quick the engineers were to install the cabinets in the first place and then enable those first ten, something smells distinctly fishy. The power is in, the cabinets are in, fibre cabinets are being bypassed so the next one can be enabled, so there's hardly a problem with trunking to the FTTC box. The cabinets don't stray near private property so no need for wayleaves. There's no conservation areas near by. Where is the original speed I saw?

Checking the DSL Checker, six cabinets have been pushed back another month, my cabinet with two others have been pushed by by three months! They've decided to install a cabinet opposite Cabinet 12 now, that's Cabinet 11. Cabinet 12 is scheduled for 31st December, but Cabinet 11 is scheduled for 31st May!

I'll probably get some spiel from BT about procedures and plans, but to be frank, the way the cabinets are being enabled, doesn't seem to follow any pattern except for density and potential revenue. I do not understand what will take upto three months to install my cabinet, let alone a month to install the other six given the close physical proximity of some of the other cabinets to existing infrastructure. They can install a cabinet a mile from the exchange and four cabinets east to west without problems, so what is causing so many problems with my cabinet (and indeed the others?). Unless there are major trunking problems, I actually suspect a massive planning failure and the only thing that's really important is to install around 10 cabinets, move on to the next exchange and move everything else back a few months. I suspect that when it comes to enabling my cabinet, they'll probably do it in a day with a short 0.4m fibre run to the main road.

Of course, BT might be justified and they will neeed to dig up the entire road and replace all the trunking.... but somehow I doubt it. The problem doesn't seem to me how long it takes as this can happen very quickly in my area, but there just doesn't seem to be any interest in BT to actually do this!

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The Upper Hand House Picture

Here's a picture of the house from the Central Television Production of the Upper Hand. The house is already on the internet in several forms in video, so I have no issue with posting this as proof I found it. But I will respect privacy and not publish the location for now.

The Upper Hand House

Im a great fan of The Upper Hand TV show. It was filmed by Central Independent Television in Nottingham using the scripts of the American sitcom, Who's the Boss as a basis.

Im a fan of regional television, Central in particular being my local region and wish it would return.

But I've always been curious to find the Upper Hand House.

I have now found the house. I found it on Google Maps and Street View and visited the area on Sunday and took my own photographs. For security and privacy reasons, I cannot divulge the location, but once I've suitably blurred out any identifying details, I may post a picture of the house - the decision will be based on the fact that pictures of the house are available on a DVD.

I would love to share with you the area, as we could have fan days and visit the local pub, but I have been advised there is a restriction on posting pictures of the house for security purposes. I don't think this is true, and nothing in UK Law stops me from doing this as far as I know as I was stood on public land.

However for privacy, I will not share the location.

Kick Ass 2 - Victim of Zero Publicity

I've been a little dismayed to see that Kick Ass 2 hasn't been quite as successful at the box office as it's predecessor.

It is true that nothing can hold a candle to Kick Ass, but Kick Ass 2 is still a great movie in its own right.

If the UK is anything to go by, I think the problem has been a complete lack of advertising.

Nobody I know actually knew the thing had been released. I wasn't even aware of the first Kick Ass until my brother showed it to me to be frank. When I talked about Kick Ass 2, the reaction has been "when's that out?". I've had to say it's been out three weeks!

As far as I can see, apart from Jim Carrey and a huge poster on a relatively quiet road, there's been virtually no advertising.

No wonder it's performing poorly.

Looks like it's near the end of it's run, so go see it people.