Category: Nothing really

Fitbit Charge 5. Why I’ve Run Out Of Patience

Fitbit Charge 5. Why I’ve Run Out Of Patience

In the middle of March this year, I decided I’d been living a healthy lifestyle for long enough to warrant buying a fitness tracking watch to take me to the next level. As is often the way, things deteriorated very shortly after buying the device that I settled upon, but that is a different story.

I’d looked at everything out there and I’d previously owned a Samsung Gear S3, but didn’t want another phone on my arm, instead I wanted to go for a device that its core function was to be a fitness watch and that could track my sleep also. Reading reviews, I settled upon the Fitbit Charge 5. I’m sort of regretting it now. Everyone I’ve detailed this account to has found it amusing, I just found it completely frustrating, and I am just getting the energy together to contact Fitbit to see if they can help. It was easier for me to have a moan here first.

I got the device in March, I loved it. Small, smart, good battery life, within a couple of weeks of getting it, I cracked a rib training which immediately restricted me. Typical. I wasn’t able to do what I had been used to and lost faith.

Now, shortly afterwards I had a bad day and was sat there in the evening and had a hankering for a KFC, so got into my vehicle, started it up and noticed my step count. I then sat on my ass, drove there, drove through, stuffed my face and drove home. Just before I got out of the vehicle, I checked my step count. It had increased by 158! You’d think it would have known that I was driving from a mix of the accelerometers and GPS, but the smart watch is apparently not that smart.

In early June I had a stinking cold and fearing I had COVID, I started paying attention to the Fitbit’s sp02 reading; this is where it’s supposed to measure your overnight blood oxygen level. At one point, it was showing my previous night had been 91%. According to those more qualified than I, that should mean that I’m in a hospital on oxygen. I just did a quick search; “In a patient with COVID-19, SpO2 levels should stay between 92%-96%. Low oxygen levels that drop below this threshold require medical attention, as it can result in difficulty breathing and other serious complications.”

I was unwell, but would have been fine to jog, and exert myself, so I feel that it is safe to say that the reading of my sp02 supplied by the Charge 5 is incorrect.

And now, the final straw, remember, a smart watch, or a fitness watch is precisely that. As a watch. Its primary function is to tell the time. This is where my Charge 5 is not playing ball…..

I went on a short break last week, and as soon as the Charge 5 synced with my phone which had automatically updated to the holiday time zone, it was also showing the same time. Wonderful.

I get home yesterday, my phone automatically updates to the new time zone, wonderful, I sync my Charge 5, it is still showing holiday time. So far, I have followed all of the guidance;

  • Re-sync
  • Change time zones on phone, then sync, then change zones to correct one and then sync.
  • I’ve upaired the Charge in Bluetooth, and paired again, and synced again.
  • I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled the app, unpaired in Bluetooth, put it all back together again, and synced again.
  • Restarted the Charge and synced.
  • Pulse restarted (charge device, then press the button located on the flat end of the charger 3 times, pausing for 1 second between presses. Then wait 10 seconds or until the Fitbit logo appears), and synced.

So, after all of that, after every change, every sync, it is still showing holiday time. AND THERE IS NO WAY TO MANUALLY OVERRIDE IT! A WATCH THAT YOU CANNOT SET THE TIME ON!

Aaargh! Right, I’m going to message customer support, I’ll post the outcome.

The McPlant Burger

The McPlant Burger

I had my first McPlant burger at the weekend, and it was a surprise. A complete surprise.

The McPlant has had a limited release in the UK within the last couple of months to much fanfare; it is a completely plant based, vegan friendly alternative to the standard McDonalds offering. I was aware of its existence, but living where I do, it’s not been available for me to try, and to be honest, I have been skipping the fast food scene for the last couple of months anyway as part of my live healthy, live longer phase. Kill me now.

So, at the weekend, I found myself driving in East London with a passenger that had a hankering for a fast food fix, so I duly pulled into the Bow McDonalds Drive-Thru to order. I was going to skip but the McPlant caught my eye, so I felt I had to give it a try.

I collected the order and pulled into a bay and got the box out of the bag. The size of the box was an immediate disappointment; it was roughly the same size as a Fillet o Fish box and the burger was roughly the same size. I was hoping for something of similar proportion to the Big Mac, alas, it was not to be. Upon opening and inspection, it looked like a regular burger; the patty, pickles, sauce, processed cheese and white bun, all looked reasonably normal.

Taking a bite, the taste was pretty good, I raised an eyebrow and started gibbering at my passenger in disbelief, I was expecting it to taste like crap. It wasn’t as far away from a regular burger as it could have been, the thing I really noticed was the texture of the patty, it was a fair bit mushier. Excitedly I kept waving the half eaten thing at my accomplice, offering it up to them to try some, saying that they wouldn’t believe how it tasted. They politely refused.

So, all in all, it is a more than passable effort. Okay, I was fairly impressed. Now the questions start to crop up in my mind; how the hell do they take bunch of plants, process it, and make a vegan product taste like one made from animal products? The mayo, the cheese, the meat substitute. Surely there’s a heck of a lot of layers of processing going on there? I just did a search for the meat substitute used in the McPlant, apparently it’s provided by a company called Beyond Meat. A few clicks shows what look like reasonably harmless ingredients, but a few more clicks shows that there’s a lot of strong opinions out there that they may not necessarily be as good for you as you would expect.

I’m not going to drill into this point, there’s no shortage of for and against opinions out there, and it will be one hell of a rabbit hole to disappear into.

We know that McDonalds isn’t good, wholesome food, we’ve seen films like Supersize Me, we’ve seen the hidden camera expose, we’ve seen the Jamie Oliver and his mate Jimmy’s documentaries, we’ve read accounts from disgruntled former staff about how the stuff is made. We know it’s nutritionally shit, we know it’s stacked with fat, salt and sugar, but because of this, it tastes amazing, and we know this. And for this reason, it is a guilty pleasure for millions of people nationally.

Things have changed over the last few decades, we’ve seen McDonalds stop frying its fries in beef tallow, and swap to vegetable oil, somehow, amazingly, they managed to keep the taste the same. Shocker. If you buy a Big Mac in the US that is made from US beef, then go to the UK and buy one made from UK beef, they taste almost identical. Shocker. There’s obviously some magic going on, what magic it is, I am not smart enough to work out, but it is clever stuff.

And now we have the McPlant, a pretty wholesome sounding name.

Until recent years, I have been a complete carnivore, I’ve not really given vegetarians or vegans much consideration. We were born with canines, right? Those lovely teeth for ripping flesh apart? This alone completely supported my position, meat is good, and it is an important part of the human diet. I’d walk across hot coals to get my hands on a perfectly cooked fillet steak.

A while back I was chatting to a vegetarian and they offered a compelling explanation as to why they choose to not eat meat, or flesh as they called it. I started to understand their position, and I got it. I won’t get into what that was, that’s for another time, but I got it. Since then, I have started to reduce my meat intake; I eat less, but what I do eat is better quality. It’s not been difficult to do at all.

This brings me to my point in an unfocused, meandering way;

These burgers, like the McPlant exist for a reason. People don’t want to eat meat, or animal products. But they are happy to pay over the odds for a highly processed product that is made to look like meat, smell like meat, and taste like meat, and it could possibly be less healthier than the meat alternative.
And it’s being served by an organisation that slaughters millions of cattle, pigs and chickens every year, and that has questionable environmental credentials.

Reflecting, I just don’t get it. If you’re going to go to all of that trouble, just eat the meat right? That’s what you’re hankering for, so stop the torture, just do it. Or don’t.

I don’t think I’ll be going back for a McPlant, as clever as it was. I don’t think I’ll be going back to McDonalds for myself at all.

Me and Mac’s are done. I can’t say that I won’t miss it, but it was fun whilst it lasted.

The Star Trek Discovery Season 4 Debacle

The Star Trek Discovery Season 4 Debacle

Star Trek Discovery is one of my guilty pleasures; it’s predictable, cheesy and sometimes downright cringe, but I like it.

There. I said it. I like it.

I was looking forward to the new season 4 and have been waiting for the best part of a year for it to air in the UK on Netflix, as it has done previously. It was due to premiere on Friday 19th November, but somebody at Paramount decided to pull it from Netflix a few days before and only show it in the few countries that have the Paramount+ streaming service. Everyone else had to wait until Paramount+ launched globally in 2022.

The fans went ape shit, and justifiably so. This resulted in Paramount doing a climbdown, and in the UK they made it available on something called Pluto TV the week after, a free streaming service. I’d never heard of the bloody thing, so I installed the Pluto app on my set top box in anticipation. What I came to realise is that the streaming on Pluto is free, but it is scheduled. On 26th November, if I wanted to watch season 4, I was forced to watch the first two episodes back to back between 9pm and 11pm. SCHEDULED!?

I’ve not watched scheduled TV streamed or terrestrial broadcast for years, and I can tell you, it was a bloody shock to my system. I was really not geared up for it. As soon as the first episode kicked off, my phone lit up like a Christmas tree. Everyone wanted to get in touch, and I had no pause facility on Pluto.

Eventually the phone was impossible to ignore and I completely lost my place in the show that I had eagerly anticipated. I won’t even start whining about the adverts – another thing that I wasn’t ready for.

There’s a lot of issues here, and I am acutely aware of mine; I should have thought ahead and silenced my phone and kept it out of sight. I failed to plan for the inevitable interruptions. I think this largely because I’ve allowed myself to become so conditioned into being able to have my media in whatever format completely on demand, as and when suits me. I get an interruption? I pause, attend to whatever has caught my attention, then go back to whatever it is that I am watching. I’ve realised that as a consequence of my digital life, I depend upon immediacy, and I have the attention span of a gnat. Also, that I need to stop responding to my phone the second that it chirps.

The really glaring issue here is Paramount’s greed. It’s pretty obvious why they have done what they have done, and it has backfired royally from a PR perspective. I would imagine a lot of people would have torrented the episodes, something that used to be huge years ago prior to the emergence of the streaming services.

For me? I’m voting with my feet, I’ll now part company with Discovery, after all, there’s plenty of fantastic stuff to watch, and I could really do without another streaming service.

Tesla and The Unchargeables

Tesla and The Unchargeables

According to social media a lot of unhappy customers are receiving their Tesla’s without some or all of the USB ports fitted. In some cases, Tesla have warned the customers in advance of delivery, and in others, there was no warning.

Other customers have reported that the front wireless charging pad isn’t working either. To date Tesla has not commented on this officially, but has told individuals that the issues are due to the global chip shortage, and that they will receive an appointment in the near future to have the ports and other issues rectified.

I’m sure that the irony isn’t lost on many that Tesla are shipping cars with banks of batteries that cannot charge a phone.

After you, Charles.

After you, Charles.

I love this front page, okay, the Express has mangled his words for the purpose of a headline, the original quote was;

“Sustainable urban development is clearly critical in responding to the climate emergency.”

I wish that the headline was closer to his words just for the beautiful irony, but I doubt that he would be that much of a hypocrite, unlike his son, see

Anyway, like this matters, regardless of how much less meat we eat, or much we walk or cycle to work, we’re on the way out, may as well have a party on the way, right?

EE and Faversham in Kent

EE and Faversham in Kent

Over the last few weeks (since the 12th January 2021 to be precise), the mobile network coverage in Faversham on EE has been terrible. Dropped calls that were never received, unable to place outgoing calls at times, having to resort to Wi-Fi calling. Wi-Fi calling is really a cop out – this kicks in when the mobile network is that poor in an area that your handset locks onto a Wi-Fi network and routes the calls via a fixed line broadband connection instead. Essentially, you are paying for a mobile network that you are unable to use, you are propping it up by routing calls through your broadband which you are also paying for. Not good.

You’ve probably seen a lot about EE on TV and in the press. This is a lift directly from the ‘About’ section of their website;

“Our vision is to provide the best network and best service so our customers trust us
with their digital lives.”

Lovely. If only it were true.
Have a look at this link on their support site;

The gist of it is that EE were aware during 2020 that their existing mast site in the town would have to be closed because the landowner was developing the site. On 12/01/2021 EE were instructed to remove their kit, which they have done, resulting in the decrease in service. If you can call it service now.
At best, this will not be resolved until the end of February. I’m not holding my breath.

My post on the EE support site that I have linked above is;

I don’t feel that this is acceptable. I blogged about it at; EE and Faversham in Kent – The Slayford

Why can’t you roll a mobile base station in, such as the ones that you turn up to festivals such as Glastonbury with?

In the interim, what compensation are you offering? I have several business mobiles with EE. At times they are useless and have been since the second week of January. 

Faversham had a population of approximately 20,000 a decade ago. There are four large mobile networks, so, let’s just say that EE’s got one out of four residents as a customer, that’s 5000 people. Multiply it by a conservative £30 a month. (Each of my handsets is on approximately £50 a month, so I am being generous.) So, 5000 customers multiplied by £30 a month gives £150,000 gross revenue for EE. This ‘service’ that you provide is down for two months at best, by the look of it. So, you have charged £300,000 to your customers, and not really provided them with much of a service. I’d wager that you are actually getting more than the £300,000 in this period.

My earlier question regarding compensation was a bit of a rhetorical one – I already know the answer. Nothing. You have told people that I know have telephoned to complain this. That they will get absolutely nothing. This looks a little bit obscene considering my rough calculations in my previous paragraph……

How have you managed to arrive in this position as a company. This is either cost cutting or ineptness. Which is it?

Being a paying customer, that is not receiving the service that they are paying for, that will not receive compensation, I would be grateful if some of my money was spent on answering, in detail, the points above. Surely it is the least you could do? Right? If not just for me, maybe the other 4,999 users. How about the patient three listed below too?

The ‘Safety’ Camera Myth

The ‘Safety’ Camera Myth

I just drove past a mobile safety camera (official name) van, publicly known as a speed camera happily booking drivers as they pass. It’s been parked on a section of road that opens out from a 30mph single carriageway into a 40mph dual carriageway, and vice-versa (I believe it covers traffic in both directions) so it’s easy to accelerate too early, or brake too late and to get caught out.

Another thing, it’s sited right before/after a school, reinforcing the safety point.
But the school is closed because of the COVID19 pandemic. And it’s a Saturday morning. And the roads are almost empty.

I’d say that the clearer roads would mean that people are more likely to drive faster to take advantage of this, so are more likely to get caught. Cynical me would say that Kent County Constabulary are not actually concerned with safety, but revenue.

I got caught by one of the blighters a few years back and had the option to attend a “Speed Awareness Course” for £100 instead of receiving an £80 fine and three points on my licence. I went on the course, and it was most enlightening. It was a whole day affair in a sweaty little conference room in the middle of summer, the facilitators were almost like concentration camp guards in their attitude to attendees and spent the day showing videos, lecturing and belittling us. It was crammed with facts and statistics such as number of deaths from drug and drink driving, but there was one statistic that was missing. I held my hand up to ask about it and was prompted to speak.

“So, this is a speed awareness course, we’ve seen and heard lots of statistics about road deaths of different types, but I’ve not seen a single statistic relating to the number of accidents/deaths caused by speed.”

The look on their faces was one of shock. They didn’t have any figures and glibly said that they would have to get back to us.

“But this is a speed awareness course, right?”

The look on their faces swiftly changed from shock to sheer anger, and it was so long ago, I cannot remember what their retort was, but it was sufficient to stop me in my tracks and put me back in my box. Essentially, it was dissent is not tolerated, and if you don’t conform, you’ll fail the course. From recollection, this could mean my having to stump up additional costs and taking the points.

Next time I’ll take the points, rather than indulging a pair of KCC gestapo officers thank you very much.

Oh, Thanet District Council, What Haven’t You Done?

Oh, Thanet District Council, What Haven’t You Done?

The French closing their border with the UK at 11pm on Sunday 20th December has caused chaos in the South of England, this has been widely reported. I live locally and witnessed events unfolding, the scale of the problem was overwhelming. There were thousands of people stranded away from home for the Christmas period, many without food, all without proper sanitation.

There’s a lot of public and media conjecture about Emmanuel Macron’s motives for the closure, with the main themes being it was either genuninely for COVID security as was the official line, or it was to force the UK into a weakened position in the run up to the final Brexit negotiations and increase the chances of the UK receiving a bad deal. I won’t dwell upon which I think it was, but the resulting fallout for thousands of drivers has been hideous and as I type this, continues to be, albeit with reduced numbers.

Often, these drivers are low-paid workers that travel hundreds of miles away from their families, and they are critical to maintaining the UK. Without them there would be shortages of food and goods. Now, you can get embroiled in a finger pointing blame game regarding how they were put in the position of not being able to get themselves home for the Christmas period, but that will solve nothing. These men and women have found themselves in a position not of their doing, and I’d consider, irrespective of blame, we owe them a duty of care as human beings. I never ever considered that the UK Government on a central and local level could be so incompetent and uncaring.

Thanet District Council (TDC) announced on Christmas Eve that they thanked people for their offers of support, but requested that people didn’t get involved, and instead contacted local charities and stay at home. I’m glad that people ignored this message, as dusk arrived on Christmas Eve, I witnessed people distributing food to the drivers and they appeared full of gratitude. There were young families walking along the lines of parked trucks throughout Kent distributing, there were people climbing the Manston perimiter fence and passing food and drink over. There was clearly a very large demand for this. At this point, there was nothing new about this crisis, it had been rolling on for four days at this point.

This was a fantastic opportunity for TDC to co-ordinate the volunteers, but they chose to dissuade people from helping. They also failed to make an official comment on the situation at Manston. Considering this, maybe they should have just not said anything instead?

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