St Andrew’s Day in St Andrews

The Scottish flag: a blue field with a white saltire. (Artwork by Gareth J M Saunders.)

Today is the feast of St Andrew, apostle and Patron Saint of Scotland (and Russia and Romania). The special ‘collect’ prayer for today:

Almighty God,
who gave such grace to your apostle Saint Andrew
that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ
and brought his brother with him:
call us by your holy word,
and give us grace to follow you without delay
and to tell the good news of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

This is my first St Andrew’s Day in St Andrews since 1992.

My PC has died

Dead PC

This evening my PC died. I’m gutted.

It looks like it may be the motherboard (MSI K7N2 Delta) or the CPU (AMD Athlon XP 2800+), or possibly the RAM (PC2700 333MHz DDR). I’ve managed to find the same model of motherboard and CPU on eBay and ordered it (it was on Buy It Now for £60). I guess I’ll just have to wait and see if that fixes the problem.

Here’s how my brother Eddie cheered me up about the whole thing this evening:

Gareth: I’ve just ordered a replacement one from eBay — exactly the same model motherboard and CPU, as a package deal.

Eddie: Hmm…

Gareth: Nothing I can do but wait.

[A couple of minutes later.]

Eddie: Are you still waiting?

Gareth: I mean, I’ll have to wait until the new motherboard and CPU arrives. I’m really quite upset about it all.

Eddie: Has that kind of thing happened to you before?


Not being upset – I mean the PC death thing.

That made me laugh.

In the meantime, if you are waiting for a reply to an e-mail that you’ve already sent I’m sorry but I can’t access it just now. I’ve now set up my laptop to pick up my main e-mail address so please send it again.

I’m going offline now to weep pathetically into a crumpled motherboard manual…

Treasure in the attic

Flattened cartons in an attic
A paradigm of neatness and organization is our attic.

If there is one thing that boys love …

— apart from football, rugby, cricket, ice hockey, basketball, American football, cycling, the Tour de France, wine, beer, whisky, a night out with the lads, curry, swearing, throwing things into rivers, films, going to the movies, computer games, computers, wireless technology, the internet, candid photography (wink wink!), gadgets, wide-screen HD TVs, DVDs, fiddling with scart plugs, stereo Hi-Fi equipment, quality cables, batteries, torches, building gang huts and tree houses in the garden, sitting reading the Sunday papers watching the telly, Grand Prix races, cars, motorbikes, mountain bikes, weight training, guitars, guitar heroes, rock music, real metal™, leather trousers, flirting with pretty girls, kissing behind the bike sheds, garden sheds, tractors, combine harvesters, ride-on lawn mowers, building things, dismantling things, chocolate and dogs *

.. then it’s attics.

I’ve never had an attic before. Not a floored one, anyway. With a light bulb. And this one had treasure in it.

Assuming that your definition of ‘treasure’ is ‘an unused square of Kingspan insulation’.

The day that we got the keys to the new house I was standing in the attic with our former neighbour Ian who got very excited by his find. It was surplus to our requirements and just what he needed for a building project at home so we gifted it to him. There was a ceremony and everything.

Yvonne (Ian’s wife): Does Gareth know you’ve got that piece of Kingspan?

Ian: Yes!

Yvonne: Are you sure he doesn’t need it for anything?

Ian: No, he said I could have it.

Gareth (in the distance, coming down the stairs): Boy! Do I have plans for that piece of Kingspan that we found in the attic! It’s valuable, you know.

And I wasn’t the only person who recognised its value that evening. As we were walking home past The Haven pub and restaurant later that evening Ian was heckled by someone stumbling out of the pub on account of his carrying a square of insulation down the street.

Man in pub: That’s an attractive piece of insulation you’ve got there, laddie!

Ian: (Laughing) Thanks!

Man in pub: It’s valuable, you know. You’d get at least £5.00 for it.

Ian: Thanks, I’ll bear it in mind.

That’s a man who truly knows the value of his building products.

First class repair service from POS Ltd

Psion 7 on my desk

Good news

This morning I took delivery of my Psion Series 7Book, returning as it did from POS Ltd in London almost two months after I sent it for repair. It seems traditional in some quarters at such times as these to complain bitterly about such poor service and vow never to use them again. But you know, it just wasn’t like that.

I’ve used POS on a number of occasions mostly for repairs and occasionally to buy reconditioned machines and accessories and each time I’ve found them to be excellent, on average taking about three days to receive my machine, fix it and return it to me as good as new. So this recent repair was a little under par for them.

Good grief!

The problem was that I’d damaged the screen in a little sitting-my-Psion-under-an-open-window-during-a-storm accident. I sent the Psion to POS who repaired the screen forthwith, my insurance company happily obliged with paying for the repair (minus a fifty quid excess) and all was well.

Until testing.

The screen failed the test. Indeed, from what I gather from a useful conversation with Gareth at POS, all their screens failed testing. So it was off to Germany for a new batch of screens. And Germany isn’t very close. Disappointing of course, but I had my Psion Series 5mx as a spare (also repaired by POS a few years back!).

Good customer service

What made it all the more bearable, however, was that I had people at the end of the phone to whom I could easily chat about what was going on. Gareth and Delroy at POS were great: approachable, friendly and very helpful. They understood that I wanted my Psion back as soon as possible and to be fair they did everything that they could to do so … just as soon as the new batch of screens came in, which was understandably beyond their control.

My only criticism is that it would have been nice if, once they knew of the delay, they had contacted me rather than my having to phone them every four weeks to get an update. But when I did call they were understanding, courteous, attentive and most importantly honestly told me what was going on. I really appreciated that. I felt valued.

When I spoke with Gareth early last week he said that they were expecting the new batch to come in later that day and he promised that I’d get my Psion back by the end of the week. And I would have had I actually had the decency to be in mid-morning on Friday, rather than selfishly being at work. Hence the P739 and this morning’s visit to the sorting office.

Good as new

And now I have it back in my grasp. And it’s looking good as new: new screen, new casing, new keyboard. And they threw in two new backup batteries for the trouble. Not exactly a bargain repair at £250 but given that I use my Psion every day there was no option but to have it repaired. And in my opinion POS are the best.

So thank you POS once again for great service, a first class repair and for being a thoroughly professional and friendly company. It makes such a difference from many of the faceless, impersonal PC companies I’ve had to deal with through the years. Keep up the good work.