2007 — Day 95 - Yippee, pension day!

It's kind of cool, this getting paid for doing nothing lark. Mind you, instead of delivering me any DVDs yesterday, Mr Postie dropped me off proof that tax folk work in pairs: two identical depressing notices of PAYE code change, (depressing, of course, because the change was in the wrong direction) each telling me about my £46.04 of unpaid tax that Brenda's guvmint simply cannot get along without.

Perhaps if they only sent me the one notice, in the one envelope, they could maybe halve the number of computers, printers, enveloper stuffers, stationery orders, clerks, inspectors, managers, Area Directors (I'm just extrapolating wildly here, you understand) and settle for gouging £23.02 out of me? I'm serious: think how much money they could save just by the simple expedient of sending out the right number of bits of paper.

The tax code adjustment, which kicks in on April 5th, will (if my back of an envelope calculations are correct) safely ensure my current underpayment transforms, by the end of the coming tax year, into an overpayment of £99.16, give or take. (If the past is any guide to the future, they'll then give me a rebate in about 14 months time. What a glorious system! Finest brains in the country go into our Civil Service; makes you proud to be British. [I wonder if things are any different East of Dover — I must ask my {non-British} wife — she'll tell me!])

Perhaps the tax folk run a suggestion scheme?1

Shome mishtake, shurely? Apparently not!

The latest tedious email spam offering Windows Vista Business ready to download from the unlikely-sounding2 "dagma cassaundra <pepillomeryl@trattoriaamelia.com>" at the equally unlikely-sounding price of $79.95 contrasts interestingly with the latest tedious paper spam offering to fall out of my Radio Times.

Dell's "small business" leaflet is now suggesting I can make business magic with Vista preinstalled on my system. Funny thing, though. Consider two of their Core 2 Duo machines. The £470 Dimension E520 with 1GB and integrated Intel graphics has Vista Business (ie, fancy 3D graphics, Aero, etc) whereas the £705 Dimension 9200 with 1GB and separate 256MB nVidia 7900GS graphics card has Vista Home Basic (ie, no fancy 3D graphics, Aero, etc).

Has the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3000 come so far? I think I should be told. Well, if I believe the Intel material on this Interweb thingy about the GMA 3000, the Dell machine suddenly starts to look rather interesting!

Easy peasy department

It looks as if the original textease programmers are keeping themselves usefully busy.

Summoned by eyeballs department

My varifocus glasses have arrived. Excuse me while I pop out and shed £249 — good job it's pension day! Crikey. Everything swirls gently around, and I haven't even been drinking. But no more horrid bi-focal optical discontinuity; I think I can get used to this. The "reading strength" bit isn't wide enough for use at my widescreen monitor without a significant degree of neck swivel, so I'll be sticking to the old prescription for my 'puter sessions. But the omens are good. Still very costly though. Acid test will be the televisual effect downstairs — we're having a bit of a Julia Roberts season at the moment. Wonder if I'll be able to see all her teeth?

6 February 2007  


1  On further thought, perhaps I won't bother. After all, my record with improvement suggestions over the years is one of 100% consistent rejection. Let me offer some examples:
    The first one I can remember, which involved telling the BBC Engineering Department about my brilliant (schoolboy's) idea for an anaglyphic 3D TV system in 1968 was rejected by their Drama department on the grounds that 3D scene changes might induce nausea in viewers. Wonder how 3D IMAX ever got off the ground? (I noted a TV engineer in Australia who had recently moved "downunder" after a career in the BBC reportedly had exactly the same idea just a few months later [according to a cruel snippet in New Scientist]).
    Then there was the time as an aeronautical engineering apprentice when I mildly suggested Hawker Siddeley might well make significant electricity savings by installing the new-fangled lower energy fluorescent lights that were just becoming available in the early 1970s. That one got rejected because, as I was assigned to the Quality Control department at the time, and as that department "ran" the suggestion scheme, I was automatically ineligible to make any suggestions. I also had to type the rejection letter for my boss to send to me! (I'm amused to note there are now moves afoot to ban the manufacture of any other kind of light bulb!)
    Oh, and let's not forget the time I suggested enclosing a copy or two of the CICS/CMS general information brochure I'd written with all CICS documentation libraries shipped out to the existing 20,000+ CICS licensees. I remember the bemusement in the voice of a newly-ex senior CICS Business planner (a year or so after that daft idea had been rejected) when he called me to ask why, in my opinion, product sales had been so far below plan. I mildly suggested it might have been smarter to publicise its existence in the way I'd suggested. "That would've been a great idea!" was the gist of his reaction (with the expletives deleted) "Who said 'No'?"
I'm afraid the answer was one of his bosses.
    Ironically, text from my brochure was reproduced inside the recognition plaques handed out to us by the Lab director at the end of the project during a small-scale recognition dinner. I still sometimes amuse myself by calculating how many times I could have cleared my mortgage on a mere 1% commission on extra sales.
Answer available on request, and subject (of course) to a Non Disclosure Agreement...
2  Her (?) spelling of "Encryptiption" as she addressed her note to me as "grover antonie" gave me one of the clues.