Blog Archive

26 October 2006

Annoying Phone Calls

For the past few weeks, we’ve been getting calls to our home phone from the same two numbers:

They’ve called on a daily basis each weekday, sometimes several times a day, but never leave a message. When we call them back, it’s just a recorded message saying that we’ve received a call from a telemarketing company (they don’t say who exactly) and that they were going to tell us about some products that we may be interested in.

Well, today I googled the numbers (note to the lawyers: I googled using Google) and found out that (i) I could buy the numbers on eBay and (ii) someone else who’d also been hounded by one of the numbers was told by BT that it was a “power dialler” that automatically dials numbers from its database and puts them through to a call centre operator when you answer. Obviously, if a call centre operator isn’t available, it could result in silent call.

We’d already registered with the Telephone Preference Service but this apparently doesn’t necessarily stop these types of calls. Instead, you’re supposed to register your number on the Silent Callgard Service* database, which you can do by visiting their website at or by calling 0870 444 3969. It’s a service that’s supported by the TPS but Ofcom apparently aren’t so keen on it because it doesn’t eliminate the problem at the source; instead, it simply masks it from the person registering their details, and if you don’t file a complaint with them, they can’t carry out an investigation. So, it seems you should also register a complaint with Ofcom too, just for good measure.

I’ve no idea whether this will stop these annoying calls – or whether it’s already too late for us – but this is the type of useful information I think is worth passing on.

Update: 26 October 2006 (20:46)

Well, what a coincidence! I just received a call from one of the numbers whilst I was actually at home to take the call! It turned out to be a company called Ace European Group who run an outbound call centre. It’s true that they were trying to sell me something; it’s not true that it was something I was interested in. They’d apparently got my number from Burtons (since I have a store card there) and, as such, I was “eligible” to give them my money for something. Anyway, maybe the calls will stop now that I’ve managed to tell them to remove my details from their database. Hopefully the information above will be useful for somebody else though...

* Note: This is also rather inconsistently known as Silentcall-gard, SilentcallGard and Silent CallGard.

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23 October 2006

The Sound of Laughter: That Other Peter Kay Book

A couple of months ago, I read That Peter Kay Book, the unofficial biography of Bolton’s very own Peter Kay. Having spent a few nights staying away from home on a training course last week (without any Internet access in the evenings, if you can imagine that) I managed to finish reading yet another book – The Sound of Laughter: The Autobiography of Peter Kay.

If you’ve ever seen Peter Kay’s stand-up shows, watched his TV series and / or listened to his director’s commentaries on his DVDs, you’ll already be aware of how much crossover there is between all of his material; many of the jokes he tells on stage also appear in Phoenix Nights and stories told during his DVD director’s commentaries also often appear in his TV series. What you realise when you read this book is that practically all his comedy sketches, and particularly those found in That Peter Kay Thing, are based on actual events he’s experienced throughout his life. Does this make him less funny? Not at all!

Now, I realise this probably slows down my reading speed but whenever I read books, I tend to read them aloud in my head. (I know that’s a bit of a contradiction, but I’m sure you know what I mean!) As I was reading Peter Kay’s autobiography, I could imagine him speaking every word to me, especially because he writes very much like he speaks. I actually think reading it that way made the book much funnier – it’s often the way he tells them after all! Downloading his first chapter as an audio book a few weeks ago probably helped me to read it like this too.

Whilst reading the book, I felt as though I’d got quite a bit in common with Peter Kay. For a start, we’re both Bolton boys, so I know many of the places he talks about in his book. We were also both altar boys at church when we were younger. Neither of us are really football fans. We both hated P.E. at school. But we both loved drama and we’ve both been in a school production of The Wizard of Oz. As Peter says:

“I’ve always believed drama to be an important subject. It’s not just about play-acting, it’s about giving children confidence and ironing out their inhibitions. [...] I guarantee that they’ll exude charisma and confidence for the rest of their lives as a result of being taught drama.”

And I agree... of course! ;-)

Fortunately, I had more success with musical instruments than him; he ruined his saxophone by cleaning it with Jif in the kitchen sink and subsequently gave up learning how to play it. I managed to get ten more GCSEs than him, although we both passed our GCSE in Art. I didn’t have as many part-time jobs as him; I can count all of mine on one hand, whereas he might even struggle to remember all his. I found learning to drive much easier than him; I took one test and passed, he took and failed several...

So maybe we don’t have that much in common after all! I guess it’s a bit odd, but even though our lives were so different growing up, I can still relate to much of what he’s written. Is it just because we grew up in Bolton during a similar era (he’s just a few years older than me) or is his comedy so wide-reaching and clever that he can make everyone feel like they can relate to his experiences? Maybe we’re all just like Peter Kay, with hundreds of funny, sad, interesting and just plain boring anecdotes to tell about our lives.

Anyway, if you’re a Peter Kay fan, I think it’s worth reading both of these biographies as they really complement each other. Of course, just as you’d expect, there are a few parts of Peter’s life that appear in both books, but it’s always good to get two sides of the story.

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14 October 2006

Google Platypus Client Leaked: Could this be GDrive?

Philipp Lenssen is reporting tonight that Google’s GDrive client has been leaked.

Going by the name “Platypus” this seems to be an internal only application – for now, at least. Rumours about an official “GDrive” client have been around for some time, but the reality of the “Platypus” project only surfaced when Corsin Camichel accidentally discovered a page being hosted on the domain back in July. Since then, little has been said about the project.

Philipp’s keeping his sources secret at the moment, but screenshots, help files and a copy of the configuration file are all available at Google Blogoscoped. (I guess without access to Google’ internal network, that’s all there is to see at the moment.)

So, now that we’ve got even more evidence that this exists, what does this mean for all of us non-Googlers? Well, not much unfortunately. Many companies have applications that are meant for internal use only and the majority of these probably never, ever get released. However, what this does mean is that Google has already built the client and the technology required for a remote storage drive. And since so many people want that, wouldn’t it make sense to release it to the public?

For more internal Google stuff, see my list of Google’s internal subdomains.