Updating Phones.

About a year ago Billy updated my business and personal phones for me, and I still love them as much as ever. However, for the last week or so, my business phone (E61) has inexplicably started lighting up every 20 minutes or so, then going dark again. I took it into the shop where Billy got it and they said it could be a software issue and that they could update the software for me for about £20.

When I got home, I had a look on the Nokia website and discovered that one can download the latest software for one’s particular model – free of charge! So I did. Although I backed up my contacts, calendar, and notes, I hadn’t thought to note my settings for access to my e-mails and the web (and I use these regularly, as well as using my phone as a modem to get my clinic computer online when I need.) It took a while, but eventually I reset everything – no thanks to the first person at Orange whom I asked which access point to use for checking my e-mails. She waffled about it being my choice and so I carried on playing for a few hours until I finally spoke to someone who was able to give me the information I needed. Once that was all done, I was pleased that my phone had the latest software and that the light had stopped coming on. 🙂 For good measure (having got into the idea of downloading software for a phone) I added a couple of extra applications, and felt pretty proud of myself.

I mentioned it to Paul on Friday night and said I couldn’t decide whether to update my personal phone (6300) software too, and he said that it is always best to have the latest software because even if it doesn’t appear to be any different, there will be little improvements in performance, speed and battery efficiency.

So I decided to go for it – but first I backed up the entire phone: contacts; files; calendar; settings and all – courtesy of Nokia PC Suite (of which I also downloaded the latest version and it’s even niftier than the previous one!) Painless! Once the phone was updated, I simply copied all the backed up stuff back to the phone. Easy! 🙂

Two bang up to date phones – no charge 🙂

Isn’t technology wonderful? 🙂

Pales to insignificance

but a quick mention of what else has been happening for the past week:

    Saturday –

I went to City v Boro (1-0) and on the way down passed the time of day with a mini-bus full of young lads going to the match. Then saw the same lot at the last services (only ‘cos they beeped the horn to say hello else I’d have walked straight past without noticing) and tried to convince them I wasn’t stalking them! 😀 It was a very cold day and many matches around the country were being called off but ours was OK with our underground heating. However, one of the away fans came to the front of the away section, wearing a kilt, which he lifted to reveal he must have been of true Highlander descent! It was FREEZING, we were in thermals, and this mad fool was in a skirt with nothing on underneath! The game itself was not bad, and Shay Given had a very warm welcome even before he proved himself MotM with an outstanding performance. I liked the fact that he could clearly be seen talking to our (young) back four and think he is a valuable asset to the team.

Afterwards, I drove to mum’s, by which time the cold which had been threatening, really got a grip and the streaming nose/eyes and raw sinuses started in earnest 🙁 (Happily I’d caught this cold from Mum last time, I think, so I didn’t have to worry about giving it to her.) We had a lovely dinner and a relaxing evening though Rocky went and hid IN mum’s bed (and didn’t re-emerge until after I’d gone home.)

    Sunday –

I took mum to Tesco to stock up on all the basics as she’s been having trouble getting to Tesco lately. Unfortunately, hobbling around the shop almost killed her so I felt bad – next time I think she’ll have to be a lady of leisure and let me push her round in a wheelchair. 😛 We had lunch when we got back and then I set off for home, after collecting from Mum’s neighbour, a very nice microwave which they were replacing and offered us. (Ours is rather worse for wear and we’ve been making do with it for a while now. I really must write and thank them properly too, but with all the events of this week, I haven’t yet done it.) Just as I was leaving, it started to snow fairly steadily but luckily all he roads were clear of ice, and I just drove through a blizzard or two. The Lake District was pretty with snow all around. What wasn’t pretty was my nose and my poor, red-raw sinuses which had me sneezing and snuffling all the way home.

    Monday –

My cold was still a bother though I felt I’d turned the corner and thanks to my herbs and my herbal sinus cream, I wasn’t as bad as some people have been with this particular cold. (Characterised by the unusual order of the symptoms I think – sore throat first, then nose/sinuses streaming, then a cough and a tickle.) I came home at lunchtime as the dry hospital air was making my head pound and I couldn’t concentrate.

    Tuesday –

Cold much better, just a cough (though I did have one enormous coughing fit whilst on the phone at one point which was a bit awkward.)It was a frantic day at the hospital, as ever.

    Wednesday –

The day of my presentation to the Post Grad Education Meeting at the hospital (“Herbs for cardiovascular health”) – and I didn’t feel prepared! I also woke up with no voice! I subsequently spent all of Wednesday morning desperately trying to finish off and polish up my talk, (in between talking to Billy on the phone, and sorting out things for him) and still felt unready when it was time to go, though at least my voice was back. Just to make things more complicated, we are now in the posh new meeting rooms of the education department with lovely new technology including multiple screens around the rooms plus one very large one at the front. Fortunately it wasn’t too difficult to manage though I was aware of my body being there but my mind with Billy in Bristol. In the end the presentation went as well as I could have hoped, though I knew it wasn’t a terribly polished performance, and my audience showed plenty of interest and asked pertinent questions. I was pretty drained by the evening as I then spent the afternoon concentrating on running my clinic plus starting to prepare the talk I was giving the following day to the Parkinson’s Support group.

    Thursday –

Billy called me at 4am to say his mum had passed away and I just couldn’t sleep so I got up at 4.30am and carried on writing my talk, as well as talking to him repeatedly on the phone – throughout the day in fact. I felt helpless to do much for him but I knew that talking to me helped him. It started snowing quite heavily mid morning and I wondered if the talk would go ahead, and then just as I’d finished my preparation to my satisfaction, and printed my handouts, I had a call saying they’d decided to cancel due to the weather. I will now do the talk in April – but at least it is all written ready.

I looked at the weather and the snow was settling fast so I thought that rather than leave the food shopping until tomorrow as planned, I might go to the Tesco in Hexham whilst the snow was fresh and powdery. If I left it, it might freeze over and then I’d be stuck. So off I went, and found Tesco almost empty, did the shopping, and came out to find a rapid thaw setting in. Ah well, at least the shopping was done, whatever happened. By the evening, I really was wiped out and had an early night, hoping Billy and Raji would also manage to get some sleep.

    Friday –

I decided to go to the Metrocentre to the Orange shop to try and sort out my Orange contract. Three months ago I’d been contacted by a company who persuaded me to let them change my business phone to Orange since I was unhappy with my T-Mobile coverage (Orange have improved theirs and I am very pleased with their coverage and service.) I had various problems with the 3rd party company including them sending my phone to the wrong address, charging me for a period of time when I did not have the phone nor had I activated the SIM, and then being fobbed off with lies (“refund is in the post” )before they stopped responding to my mails at all. I felt my bills were rather high and wanted to find out why. Well, the staff in the shop couldn’t have been better and they were shocked at the way my account had been set up. I am on totally the wrong contract for me and cannot down-grade for another 9 months and I was not told that I would start being charged for weekend and evening browsing after the first 2 months! They did manage to get the weekend and evening browsing charges removed for me at least, so that was a help.

Billy had asked me to pick up a black tie for him whilst I was there and I found a very nice one (which his mum would have liked, I think), and I called to see if Raji wanted one picking up too. He did, though he wanted a different one, so I bought the two ties and thought I was done. On my way out, however, I spotted a very nice black shirt for me, in the sales, and thought it would go with my black suit for the funeral, so although I didn’t really have much money, I got it. I think Rani would have approved, anyway, and a black shirt is always going to be handy. (As an aside, if I had a white sari (white is the colour of mourning in India, but mine are all coloured) I’d have worn that for her funeral, which she would have appreciated, but I don’t so will stick with traditional English mourning instead.)

Once home, I spent some time trying to book Billy train tickets to come home in the evening, but there were none available so I had to book him on an early one for Saturday morning. Paul asked me if I wanted to drop out of darts in the evening, but I decided that getting out with friends would do me good after such a stressful week, and Billy agreed. I had started watching my diet this week (since I’m feeling stodgy and out of shape after a year of chaos) and refused to be led astray by fate yet again. I had borrowed some Weight Watchers books as guide and had been really good all week, saving my extra points for darts night drinks – good job too as I felt I needed them!

We were away at The Grapes – a not so nice pub, and just like last year, we were kept waiting to get to the darts board whilst people carried on playing pool. (League rules state that the away team must have access tot he board at 8.15pm and the game must start at 8.30pm. The pool players only cleared up at 8.30 !)This pub also charged the away team more for their drinks than the home team, which was rather out of order we felt. I wasn’t sure how well I’d play but as it turned out, I did OK in our trebles, and Simon and Claire put in the high scores and I finished off for a win. I wasn’t quite so good in the doubles but happily Roger finished for us. But it all went terribly wrong in my singles – all of a sudden I missed Billy and his usual presence behind me for this game. It was silly as I do sometimes play without him and do OK, but I think the strain of the week, and the worry and sadness for him caught me up. I lost very convincingly and then managed to cry whilst talking to Simon afterwards. I calmed down fairly quickly but then did the same thing to Roger later. They both gave me nice cuddles, and everyone on the team was understanding but I did feel bad. Part of my brain recognised it must have looked odd to the home team who may have thought I was crying because I’d lost 😀 In the end it was a good evening because we won 4 – 7 ! YAY! I felt we deserved that, not least because we had accommodated their team when we played them at home, costing us the match.

Simon and Claire walked me home, and Claire volunteered to come and collect Billy with me in the morning as I can never find my way in Newcastle’s one way systems,on my own.

In fact, throughout the week I’d been constantly responding to texts, and e-mails, keeping people informed and accepting their good wishes, then passing them on. We really do have terrific friends and family and their support has helped enormously.

Sky’s the Limit!

It’s been a tough few weeks and just as the end is in sight, our Sky+ box has decided to die. Slowly – but nevertheless, it’s dying. We can now only watch recorded programmes on it, no live ones – and without Sky, we can’t get TV at all here (poor signal area), so we have one Sky+ box, in the back living room (mainly used by the kids), one box with Setanta in the front living room (mainly used by Billy & Raji) and one Sky box in one bedroom.

We really can’t afford to be replacing this right now, and despite the amount of money we spend with Sky each month, we knew they’d charge us the full amount for replacement. When I phoned them, I was told it would be £150 for the box and £60 for installation! No way!

Meanwhile, ages ago, when we first became unhappy with BT, we investigated the possibility of switching to Sky for our phone and broadband, only to find they were not yet available in our area. So we registered online to be advised when we COULD get them here. We never heard a thing, but a friend told us they were definitely in this area now.

So…….

I phoned Sky and said I was seriously thinking of cancelling as I was most unhappy with having to pay full whack for a new Sky+ box, and that they had never told us about the phone/broadband being available. I conveyed my deep unhappiness and anger and my hurt at feeling so unvalued as a customer.

So………

We are getting:

Free Sky+ box
Free installation
1/2 price multi-room on one of the other boxes, for 6 months

Savings = £210 plus a further £5 a month

AND:

Max broadband at cost of Midmax package
Free wireless router
Free phonecalls for a year
No connection fee

SAVING: £50 plus £10 a month off the usual Sky charges

TOTAL MONEY SAVED: £260 plus our monthly bills will drop by £40 from what we are currently paying.

RESULT!!!! 🙂

Though saying that, Sky should take better care of its customers anyway and not just pull out all the stops to prevent someone leaving.

New Toys!

For the past year, I have been using a basic Nokia phone for my business, and carrying a diary everywhere so that I can book appointments for my patients. This is slightly unwieldy. Also, I have often spent the day at my clinic (where there is a computer but no internet access) and then finding e-mails at home asking for repeat prescriptions which I could have done that day had I known. I was also fed up with copying my diary entries into my Outlook calendar at the clinic, and vice versa. So at the end of last year, I decided that maybe something like a Blackberry would be a good idea – something I could use as phone, diary, e-mail (and web) access, notebook and address book. I mentioned it to Billy and he said that he might be able to get a good deal if I could wait until January so I left it in his capable, gadgety hands.

It’s taken a long time, but at last I am the proud owner of a Nokia E61 which fulfils all the functions I asked – and more. It came with Nokia PC Suite so I can plug in the cable and synchronise my phone and PC at the click of the mouse. I love the dinky little qwerty keyboard which has enabled me to send a couple of urgent e-mails and although I have still got a lot to learn about both phone and PC Suite, I’ve found some great little tricks like being able to type a text message on the computer and send it by phone but I still haven’t worked out how to use the phone as the modem to connect my PC to the net. Still, I’m very pleased with my new toy and think it is already making my business life easier.

As a consequence of changing my business phone, Billy has also changed my personal one. This is because the new business phone, whilst still being a Nokia (my preferred make) has the new, smaller charger connection and Billy didn’t want me having to take two different chargers everywhere. So, without me knowing anything about it, he got me a Nokia 6300 meaning I have two new toys for the price of one nothing as he insists on giving me them as presents! My new personal phone also happens to support Nokia PC Suite and though the cable doesn’t fit it, the programme works just as well by Bluetooth. So I now have a personal phone which is in synch with my personal Outlook account, meaning I have my calendar, address book and so on with me all the time. On top of all this, it has a better camera than my previous phone, and a clearer screen, so I am one very happy bunny.

Thank you Billy for my toys 🙂

Communication, communication, communication.

On Tuesday night, I went to the school for a Parent-School-Partnership meeting. It was quite constructive and I do think we are making some progress. Already the school has been working on its web site and there is a lot of useful information on there now. We’d like to see a “Parents” area with useful links and information, which shouldn’t be too difficult to organise. One area of discussion has been about contacting teachers and parents. Currently letters and phone are used, but many letters don’t get to the parents (I certainly never get them) and phonecalls rely on both parties being free at the time. The parents in the group have suggested e-mail as a good way to communicate, and can see all the advantages this would offer, including the fact that both parents and teahcers can mail at whatever time is convenient to themselves, and that mails can be forwarded with the complete and original information, should someone else need to respond. Some of the subject heads seem reluctant to let parents have e-mail contact though, so we need to address the issues they have raised. I do think it should be possible to find a system that suits all, and I do still feel this is the way forward.

For example, this week I have had two dealings with the school regarding Stephen. The first, was a teacher wishing to talk to me about his coursework and she called when I was at work. Luckily, she has my e-mail address so she mailed, and we sorted out the issue. (Which cost Billy £80 to provide Stephen with an electronic keyboard and computer connection cable so that he can do his musical composition over the holidays!)

The second was on Wednesday when Stephen was ill and couldn’t go to school. He had tried to get up and ready, but at 9.10am, we realised he wouldn’t be well enough, so I called the school. The secretary said that I was supposed to call BEFORE 9am (!) and that since it was after, I needed to speak to the head of year office, and she tried to put me through. After a lengthy wait, she came back to say that there was no-one there. So I asked what I was supposed to do then? Again she said I was supposed to only talk to the head of year, but that no-one was in the office (which seems reasonable, as no doubt they were teaching.) Again I asked what I was supposed to do then, since my son was off, I was trying to advise the school, but no-one was there. All she could offer was giving me the direct number so I could try later. At which point, already late leaving the house myself, I said I’d take my chances with the truancy officer and hung up. Ooops! I was just so frustrated. In the end, I e-mailed the teacher who runs the parent-school-partnership group, and asked him to convey my message to the year head, and said that the problem highlighted the communication barrier.

I can’t be the only one who doesn’t have time or means, to play telephone tag all day. The old system might have been fine when parents didn’t work, but these days, most parents do – and I’d have thought it even more likely that they do when their children are teenagers. Time to get with the times, I think.

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