Thursday, July 27, 2006

23/7: Mountfitchet Castle

We spent a very nice afternoon at Stansted Mountfitched castle, an historical site where Saxons, maybe vikings and at last Normans built a village.
It is an interesting open air museum rebuilt as it was around XI century, under Normans. I would say it meets the intent of showing many particular aspects of life at that time. Except perhaps for one thing: they want to highlight the fact that Normans were quite cruel people and in every corner there is not only an instrument of torture, but quite several puppets hanging here and there...

Of course it was a fact at that time, but that was a village with 11 families of about 20 people per family and to me it looks just a bit too many criminals at the same time in a single place.
Agnese asked: "what is that man doing? why hanging from a tree?". I explained that that was the old way of swinging.
Beside, she and her sister had a lot of fun because the place is plenty of animals left free and she enjoyed running behind sheep and red deers.

Friday, July 21, 2006

16/7: villages tour

Last weekend we started to have a look around at the villages that surround Cambridge.
We are indeed considering the possibility of moving outside from the city.
First attempt (Milton and Waterbeach) was not so successful.
But this Sunday we have been to Fulborn, which is really a lovely one.
The main thing that impressed us is that wherever you go, sooner or later, you'll find an interesting sight that worth a visit.

This Sunday (completely by chances) we visited two middle age churches (XII and XIII century).

First picture: a view of Fulborn church.
Second one: little tourists.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Information technology "applied"

I have to say that information technology "applied" in England disappointed me so far.
I had three experience that may me thought so:
1) NTL network (for internet). The technician came on Saturday early morning, giving me the modem.
I was supposed to set up the account by installing their software (which comes for windows and Mac, but not for Linux, so I was already discriminated... I had to use my wife's laptop). Anyway the pin code given to me looked to be wrong so I had to call the customer service. After several calls they told me that I need a new pin but I had to call the day after (Sunday) because that day the authentication server for generating pin codes was down. On Sunday I called again asking for a new pin and after a long call they told me my pin was right and it must work. It didn't so they pretend to go through the authentication procedure by phone and we did. We close the call and they said "in ten minutes it will work". It didn't. I called again. They told me a need a new pin (really?) but that is given by customer care and not by technical support. I have to call on Monday.
On Monday (I was at work) they told me that my pin was fine, they didn't believe me when I said it didn't, and they asked me to call them when I was sitting in front of the pc (I was at work at that time), since my pin MUST work. I was really disappointed so when I went home in the evening I've tried again the pin, which - surprise surprise - was not working.
Then I called the customer care and said: "I don't care what you think about my pin: it is not working and now I am really tired of calling you several times a day. Please give me back my money and come to pick up your modem".
Answer: "wait, we will give you a new pin". WHAT A GREAT IDEA!
It worked obviously....
I had to make all the phone calls using my mobile (I had just that) and it turned to be very very very expensive, considering that for every call I had to wait in a queue...

2) Internet banking (barcklays).
The authentication parameters worked the first time, then they didn't work anymore.
I called them and they sent me a new pin (new? was the same than before!)... which didn't work.
I went to the bank and the employee there called the technical support and that man asked me to follow every step for proper authentication in front of the bank employee, so to be sure that I was following the procedure properly.
I was amazed to be threaten as one who uses internet for the first time!
I followed their will. And it turned out that there was some problem with my pin code: really??? what a surprise!
They set for me new parameters and it worked.

3) Vodafone on-line billing.
I wanted to open this online service to monitor my billing and my current expenses.
By following the procedure online it didn't work.
First call proposal: recreate a new account, "it will work in 10 minutes". It didn't.
Second call: "now it will work, with this new pin". It didn't.
Third call: "bla.. bla...." I said: "wait a minute, is it possible that it doesn't work with other browser than Internet explorer?".
Answer: "of course not, our programs work with all browser!". Then I got suspicious. They didn't solve the problem.
Then, I closed the phone and I tried with Internet explorer, which worked...

Perhaps these problems happen to everyone in a normal day life.... but coming from Finland, where it is possible to purchase a tram ticket by sending an SMS, it looks to me that IT applied is not so efficient here... or not in all cases.

In the picture: a piece of technology that works in the same way wherever in the world.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

1/7: we go to the beach

It is really hot (30 degrees for me are quite heavy to bear) and we decided to go to the seaside.
The first difference I've noticed comparing to Finland, it is that from our place in Espoo I needed 3 to 4 minutes by walk to go to the beach, since it was very close.
From our place in Cambridge to the sea distance is 101 Km!

We arrive there and the beach is huge...
I am still considering if going for swimming when I notice that people have to walk in the water for quite a long while and still their shoulders are not covered. So probably before I can start swimming I'll be already tired!

The courious thing is that low/high tide phenomena is very visible. In three ours we were there the beach became about three times longer (and was already quite big).

It was a very nice day, but we could not avoid to remember how wonderful place was Kivenlahti during summer. We used to go every day to the beach and we miss it!