The good, the bad and the Google

By | February 19, 2018
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When people say “Do you want the good news or the bad news?”, which do you choose?

I always want to have the bad news first, to get it out of the way. Then the good news to cheer me up.

Well, I’ve got three things for you today – good news, bad news and something not particularly ugly that’s to do with Google.

Bad news first:
If you’ve tried to ring us for any reason lately, there’s a small chance you might get a message saying “The number has not been recognised” or something along those lines.

Obviously it’s worrying for us if customers can’t get in touch – but it seems like it’s pretty rare and if you then ring back it often works.

We’ve been in touch with the phone company and they tell us it’s only people who have their phone line through TalkTalk – and that basically it’s TalkTalk’s mistake. Apparently our phone company can do nothing about it and us complaining to TalkTalk is no help either because they aren’t interested in hearing a complaint from us when the problem is at the other end of the line – they’ll only pay attention to the person who tried to call us, if they complain.

So if you try to ring us and get that message:

  1. Don’t worry, our number does still exist and chances are if you try again you’ll get through. Or if you have a mobile, you could try ringing from that instead.
  2. If your phone line is through TalkTalk, it’d be great if you could call TalkTalk and report the problem. You need to note down what time you tried to call and apparently you need to contact them within 24 hours of the problem or they can’t log the issue. I understand if you don’t want to report it to TalkTalk – after all, it’s not your fault! But it’d be great if you did (and would help other people who call us be able to get through).
  3. If it happens to you and your phone line isn’t through TalkTalk, please let us know as we’ve been told it’s only happening to TalkTalk customers (and not all of them). If you do eventually get through to us, just mention it on the phone.
  4. And if you really can’t get through, just email us (you can reply to this email) and mention you were trying to call us but couldn’t and we’ll ring you back instead.

As I say, it’s only happening to a small number of people but I’ll still be doing everything I can to get it sorted!

The Good News – cheered me up after the phones debacle
I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but I quite often get emails or letters telling me how much the books have helped people. Sometimes it’s people saying they were able to do things they couldn’t before, or things suddenly made sense that hadn’t or simply that they now felt more confident now that they had the books to look things up in if they got stuck.

As you can imagine, it’s always lovely getting messages like that.

But the other day I got one I really loved – and I couldn’t resist sharing it with you (I checked it was OK to share it first):

I have recently bought your Android Phone book and just had to let you know how it has changed my life.

I am a 72 year pensioner and although I used to use the computer at work, I have been retired for 12 years and at home I just have a laptop and spend about 30 minutes per day checking e-mails etc.

A year ago my friends and my son persuaded urged me to change my ancient PAYG mobile for something more modern. The following month was the most miserable in my life, I cried every day because I couldn’t even answer an incoming call. Then I saw your ad and sent off for the Android book.

Thank you, thank you.

It’s just lovely to know that what we’re doing here really is helping people!

So, if you’re reading this, Sandra, thanks! It made a good antidote to the frustration about the phones!

Google’s latest attempt to make using the web easier
If you’ve ever browsed the web (and I expect you have), then you’ll probably have seen adverts on webpages.

Now, I don’t have a problem with this in itself. After all, if the web page is free to use, something has to pay the salaries for the people who create it, pay for the web hosting, pay the bills and so on.

And some webpages have the article nice and easy to read along with an advert off to one side that you can look at and decide whether it’s something you’re interested in. Fine.

But others make using the webpage itself awkward. Maybe you click to go to a webpage and get an advert first and have to wait 10 seconds before the page will appear. Maybe a video advert starts playing complete with sound, as soon as you get to the page. Or maybe a box pops up over the top of the thing you’re reading.

For a while you’ve been able to buy an ad-blocker, which stops your browser displaying any adverts. I’ve been a bit skeptical that they might sometimes block things that aren’t adverts – but anyway, it would cause a problem for the websites that are using adverts in a more sensible way.

Well, Google have just brought out a new version of Chrome (for PCs, tablets and phones) that blocks the most annoying adverts. It’ll let ones that don’t get in the way through, but not the annoying ones.

When it blocks some adverts, it’ll still show the rest of the webpage you wanted and it’ll let you know it’s blocked something and you’ll have the option to tell it not to.

If you’re using Chrome, you should get the new version shortly and it’ll automatically start working – you don’t need to do anything.

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