Has anyone been ‘upgraded’ to the all-new BT Mail service
Have you yet torn out all your hair or smashed yourself in
BT have been trailing their divorce from Yahoo for over a
year now, and the decree nisi finally came through last Friday. You’d think that’d be long enough to provide,
at the least, a stable service which doesn’t crash every few hours (if it
manages to load in the first place); also that one would be able to do, at
least, everything one could before. (It’s
supposed to be ‘better’, to use their word.)
But no. I had a call
from a nice man in Mumbai, who unfortunately had clearly never seen this system
before. He took over my screen and
clicked around all over the place, checking all the settings I’d already (obvs)
checked, before informing me that ‘this function is not supported by the new BT
(For the record, the function in question is the ability to
skip to the next or previous email.)
I fumed for a bit, and muttered about switching to
gmail. (This may yet happen, those of
you who have my email address, watch this space…) Then I clicked on to Blogger (another Google ‘service’),
to find that my dashboard can now only show one post at a time from my
so-called Reading List. I’ve been away,
so hadn’t noticed this, but apparently the problem has existed for at least a
week; hundreds of people have complained, and been exhorted to be patient.
I think I’ll buy a batch of postcards and first class stamps
and send my communications by the Royal Mail.
Oh, hang on –
Send me an email, drop me a line, stating point of view.
Jackson’s, a legendary department store in the centre of
Reading, finally closed down last Christmas Eve, after 140 years of selling school
uniforms and sensible underwear and imitation Dresden knick-knacks, and of
being as iconic a landmark in Reading as, say, Selfridge’s in Oxford Street or
Lewis’s in Leeds. Plans have just been
unveiled to preserve the façade, whilst installing flats* and, yes, shops,
I think I shopped there three times. Once for an unlined cream linen jacket (which
I wore for many years) and a panama hat (I must have been going through some
kind of Somerset Maugham phase), and twice for presents for elderly aunts. Jackson’s was the go-to place for presents
for elderly aunts. So I can’t say I’ll
miss it as a shop – but I think I will as a symbol.
A symbol of what? Well,
walk into T. P. Hughes, Pettits, or Ocky White’s, to take three examples I am
(or was) familiar with, and you’ll be uniquely in Tenby, Wallingford or
Haverfordwest: those shops are (or were**) intrinsic to the town where they
were born and grew up. Walk into John
Lewis, Debenhams or House of Fraser, and you could be anywhere. This is not to denigrate the big chains, just
to say that something special is being lost.
Crankiness, quirkiness, localism, call it what you will. I kind of wish I’d shopped in Jackson’s more.
In Bournemouth, where I
was born and grew up, there were four big department stores, all very
different. Bobby’s turned into Debenhams, while Plummers
also briefly became Debenhams (until Debenhams decided they couldn’t sustain
two stores in the same town and closed it down). The surviving Debenhams has recently been
rebadged as ‘Bobby’s, though I doubt if the clock has been turned back to the
fifties. Brights is House of Fraser. Only Beales survives. The last time I was in there, ten years ago,
it hadn’t changed much. I bought a
wallet, which I’m still using.
I was once told that you could identify a good town by the
presence of a pet shop, an old-fashioned ironmongers’ and a second-hand bookshop. Any candidates?
* Some of which
will, apparently, be ‘affordable’, as opposed to the other sort – but that’s
** Ocky’s closed down
in 2013. I can’t say I regret the shop,
only went there once, but I do rather regret the name.
‘Eugene Goostman’, either a dysfunctional Ukrainian
teenage boy or a computer-generated simulacrum, has, it’s claimed, passed the
Turing test, by fooling a third of a panel of judges into believing that he
(it) is the former.
There’s evidence that Alan Turing wasn’t being entirely
serious when he proposed this test. But, having read a few of Eugene’s conversations
(google them yourselves), I can only assume either that the judges weren’t
being entirely serious either, or that they all exclusively inhabit the
twitterverse – where that sort of gubbish is entirely normal.
I propose an updated Turing test: ask Eugene to write a
blog.That’ll sort out the brains from