Ramblings, July 4th 2011
In which I ramble about recent events, being too lazy to compose separate updates for each..
Since my review of my long-time pal, the Asus 701 netbook, the poor thing has lost the use of all the USB ports down its left^Wright side. More recently, somehow the battery loses contact often enough to be quite annoying (aka the thing just turns off, no warning, if I reseat the battery it happily works again, for a while..) I spent a while watching the AlwaysInnovating site/forums to see if the TouchBookII would ever actually appear, but they still seem to be failing to produce one soo.. I bought an Asus Transformer complete with dock (keyboard).
So far, its been pretty good. The battery life is fantastic (charge full at home, spend a day and a bit travelling from Europe to the US, and its still working), the Android Honeycomb OS generally Just Works (tm). I've found useful apps for my general use-case - an ssh client, ConnectBot, a browser, Opera Mobile (recently updated to actually support Flash, hooray!), an editor, and some games.
Only one major annoyance so far, the power/charge cable is quite short (about 40cm or so), compared to the 701 cable which is 3m long. This means if I plug it in under my desk at home or next to the bed, it barely reaches my actual lap.. We tried extending with a USB A-A cable, but that fails to produce a charging light on the dock.
This is mostly a reminder to myself: No matter how much you plan and organise (and I left several bits a bit late, this recent trip), some things will just always go wrong. After comparing prices of National Express and long-stay (a week) near Heathrow, it seemed that long-stay parking was now cheaper (50 versus 70 GBP), so I booked parking at NCP flightpath.
The flight being at 8am, we also decided to drive down the night before, and overnight at a nearby hotel, Hostelbookers found me the Heathrow Lodge Hotel.. Which was fine but for some errors on their website (and the hostelbookers site), see where it says "free parking"? That's rubbish, they charged us a fiver, and signs threatened to clamp/tow any unknown vehicles.
As we arrived there, paying for extra breakfast was suggested by the clerk, which could be delivered at any hour, he insisted.. So we said "yes, 5:30am please" (having planned to leave at 6).. Come 5:45am the next morning, no breakfast arrived, on enquiry, of the exact same guy at the front desk, he asked "when did you want it?" .. Sigh.. He did however manage to get us a packed version in the next 5mins, which was a fairly good breakfast.
We drove as planned (more or less) to the NCP flightpath parking place.. which, by the way, its useless to navigate via postcode to, satnavs get it all wrong.. Luckily they know this, and also post their lat/long coordinates on their website .. If only we'd thought to do that the first attempt to find it, instead of after the satnav failed.. On arriving, the auto-number-plate recognition system failed to find us, it turned out (much later) that this is because you have ±6 hours of your actual booking time to be recognised, and we'd booked for the previous morning just in case we wanted to park there all day.
Eventually the attendant just suggested we take a ticket and sort it out on the way back.
Which brings me to service.. Several times on this holiday I've noticed how some companys, presumably mostly the ones with a fair amount of competition, have improved their service to the point of being genuinely nice and useful.
Notable was the parking attendant whom we saw when picking up the car on the way back. I'd managed to actually lose the ticket we'd taken (along with my notepad, sniff), but he found our actual pre-paid booking on the system anyway, explained the whole ±6 hours rule thing, and gave us a ticket to exit the carpark with. This was even replaced with another one that worked, as we'd taken more than 15mins to pack the car and decide where we were off to next (London Hackspace!). He said "I hope you'll use us again", I think I may well.
Hmm, ran out of steam at this point, posting anyway.. more ramblings to come!