Thursday 30 October 2008

Who studies fruit flies?

Just in case anyone is in any doubt - fruit fly research is the cornerstone of pretty much all genetic research which is kinda useful in medical research.

That woman really is terrifyingly thick. Amazing to think she could run the US if Ol' McCain wins and then pops his clogs thereafter.

Sunday 26 October 2008

Bike or Car?

It's starting to get cold again and as I ride my bike in to work in the mornings I am reminded why I wanted to get a car so much earlier this year.

My reasons were: sick of getting wet; sick of getting cold; sick of not being able to carry much stuff; sick of not being able to turn up looking smart to work; sick of being confined to Oxford or wherever public transport will take me.

I did try to buy a car last month, but found the credit crunch had closed the doors to all reasonable loans. I tried to apply again to the AA for a £7000 loan - the lowest they will give. Refused! If they won't give that to me who will they give it to?!

So once again I am torn by the car situation. Should I spend a few grand on a car - a depreciating asset that will cost loads to run; or should I spend a few hundred pounds on some new winter bike gear and just keep riding the bike?

Problem with getting a car is that I don't want a crappy small car. Problem with bikes is that riding them in Winter sucks.

Friday 24 October 2008

'ING rubbish!

Just got a letter from ING. Seems that since the Bank of England has reduced the interest rates they have reduced the rate on my ISA to 4.25%. That is rubbish! It is probably below the rate of inflation. Obviously the multi-billion dollar handout from the Dutch government hasn't made ING feel particularly generous.

Must look for better investment...

Sunday 19 October 2008

Biomechanical mess

I finally had my appointment on Friday with the podiatrist-type guy. Previous appointment was cancelled because he dislocated his shoulder! Turns out this had prevented him from emigrating to New Zealand. Bad for him, but, as it turns out, rather fortunate for me.

Anyway, the consultation lasted an hour. I had high hopes for this and had been looking forward to the assessment, not least because I am quite fed up of being unable to walk properly.

Well, the consultation was excellent! He really seemed to know exactly what was wrong with me. At first I had to stand there, then on one leg then the other. Some various static testing on the bed too. Then I did some walking over the force-measurement plate which feeds in to the computer. Then I went on the running machine (at walking pace!) and he watched my dodgy gait.

As predicted, I have a shockingly bad gait and my overall biomechanics are really messed up. In one of the tests to look at flexibility in my hips I got a score of -5. He was looking to see how much over 0 I scored and I was below! So, my dodgy hips turn my femur inwards and my dodgy gait turns my leg out the other way, so I have two opposing forces meeting at my knee. At least that is mu understanding of it. The problem in one leg is made worse my one leg being longer than the other.

I felt such relief hearing him explain it. Everything made sense to him, which made me feel really positive.

So he is making an orthotic shoe insert to hopefully sort some of this mess out. I should get it in about a week. I'm looking forward to trying it out!

The guy's practice is called Motion Lab. If you live in the South East of England and have any problems I highly recommend you see him before he leaves the country. I'm hoping I can get sorted before he goes.

GoogleMail Tabs in Firefox

Has something changed with GoogleMail?

Perhaps the only annoying thing about GoogleMail is that it is impossible to open different emails in multiple tabs in Firefox. You can only read one email at a time. It's a pain, but I put up with it.

You can, however, open different emails in tabs if you use the GoogleMail preview on your iGoogle page. That was fine for me.

However, since this week something has changed which is very annoying.

Every time I open an email in Googlemail from my iGoogle page I get this message:

Your Google Mail account has been signed out.

Google Mail automatically signs you out of your account when it detects that you've logged out from another browser window, or when you sign in to another Google Mail account from another browser window. This is done to protect your Google Mail account, and to ensure the privacy of your information.

Is it maybe detecting that I am logged in on my other computer? I have a "Home" tab and a "Work" tab on my iGoogle page so I can use one iGoogle page for home or work. I thought that was the point. Now Google is being all pi$$y.

Can someone explain what is going on? It's very irritating!

CreditExpert Con

Since getting refused for a few loans I decided to check my credit rating at Credit Expert - which is run by Experian. This is the company that the banks use to judge whether you are worthy of their money.

Turns out my credit rating is only "Fair". Apparently the only thing that counted against me is the fact that I applied for some loans, which seems a little "Catch-22" like.

Anyway, I have since found out that Experian has a little bit of a dodgy business model. You have to submit your credit card details to access your score. That is fair enough as you need to really prove your identity. They then send you a code by post to your credit card address to log-in. Again, fair enough.

You actually don't get to see your credit rating for free - you can only see the information that they hold on you. Still seems fair.

To view your actual credit score, you have to £6.99. Okay, so I paid the money to find my score.

They then want you to stay as a paying user of Credit Expert, so you can regularly check your credit score to avoid fraud etc. Only £5.95 a month. Ummm, no thanks, just checking the once will be fine thanks.

Of course this is the same practice that the likes of Lovefilm use - entice you in, take your credit card details and then "ta-da" you are paying a monthly sub...unless you cancel. Now Lovefilm, if I remember correctly, make it fairly easy so you can cancel online if you want. That is the correct thing to do.

Not Credit Expert - you have to phone them to cancel. Now there is no good technical reason for them to have this obligation - most companies will try to do everything via the web because humans are so damn expensive (they need fed and cleaned regularly).

So the only reason to have this system is to trap chumps who never get around to phoning - chumps like me.

So now I have to try and remember to cancel this damn thing tomorrow (of course they are not open on a Sunday). What are the chances the phone queue will be rather long...

Tuesday 7 October 2008

Pins in my knee

I had my third acupuncture session this weekend. Pic is my leg with the acupuncture needles in it. This time it was a different "doctor". Tellingly, he put the needles in different places from the other guy with none in my knee at all. He stuck one of them in teh top of my foot. You can't see it in the photo, but it didn't feel too nice getting stuck in. As usual I got the "I think my leg is going to start twitching" feeling towards the end, which is a bit scary.

After about 20min he came in and I though he was going to remove the pins, but no - he was just there to "tweak" them! Argh!

Anyway, once he was done I went out, drank some Chinese tea, let the girl tell me I needed another seven sessions, then smiled as I bolted out the door. I might try acupuncture again, but maybe elsewhere.