July 2008

Kevin and I are being driven to distraction. The warm sunny weather has been lovely, right up until the point where we want to go to bed. Ours is a top floor flat, you see, and it can get quite warm in here, so on hot summery nights we like to have the windows open for a bit of fresh air. Unfortunately, several of our neighbours like having loud parties, or sitting in their garden having shouty discussions, even on school nights. We have been kept awake or woken up five times in the last two weeks by three different sets of neighbours. Last night, the party started at 2.30am, and is still going on now, as I write at 8.30am.

For my own records, the chronology goes like this:

17 June – Neighbour in middle flat, No. 74 goes berserk, breaks into his own flat, smashes the place up, and we call the police. Police arrive quickly, arrest him, come and have a chat to us and our downstairs neighbours. Turns out he was threatening our neighbour that afternoon with “I could kill you, I could. But I won’t. But I could kill you.” Sort of like Vicki Pollard goes to the dark side. Same night, neighbours begin to move in to no. 78, which had been empty for a month. We thought the two disturbances were related, they weren’t.

18 June – For a few days, new neighbours at 78 are moving their stuff in, but only after 10pm. They’re not quiet about it.

21 June – Neighbours at 78 have a spirited and lively discussion in their garden, at the tops of their voices. We can hear them with the window open. We can hear them with the window shut.

? June – Big party in the garden of no 74 which went on until the small hours, although I can’t remember precisely which day. However, it prompted…

4 July – I order several different types of earplugs.

5 – 9 July – Kev and I are away in Prague. Sleep better in the hotel than we have been at home.

12 July – Neighbours at No. 78 have massive garden party which starts mid-afternoon and goes on until 3 or 4 in the morning. Kevin and I blow up our inflatable mattress and sleep in the front room, because there’s no way we’ll be able to sleep in the bedroom. Use our new Alpine SleepSoft earplugs. They cut out the last fragments of noise that trickles through to the front room. As we’re preparing to go to go to sleep, one of the party-goers passes out, flat on his back on the pavement. His friend attempts to rouse him by kicking him.

15 July – No. 78 have another fun discussion in their garden, starting at 10pm and going til some time after 2am. Alpine SleepSoft earplugs fail. They can’t cut out enough noise for me to sleep. I try the pink noise trick – put a track of pink noise on repeat on my iPod, put in one sound isolating earphone in my upper ear, and try to sleep. Sorta works. Can’t put earphones in both ears as too uncomfortable.

17 July – No. 78 have yet another fun discussion in their garden, starting late and going on for a few hours. Try playing pink noise really loudly on our iPod speakers. Doesn’t really work, not least because system turns off before arseholes next door have finished yapping. Co-incidentally, get letter from social housing landlord about “anti-social behaviour by one of your neighbours.” Hoping they mean No. 78, but it’s hard to tell – there’s so much of it about.

18 July – Spend hours on the phone to social housing landlord and discover that they meant the nutjob who broke into his own flat back in June, not the wankers at No. 78. Rang the council and got the number for the Noise Patrol, who will come and assess the noise.

22 July – No 74 have a party in their garden this time. Is in full swing by the time I get home from hanging out with friends, and goes on at least until 2am. Discover that PillowSoft earplugs, which are basically balls of silicon putty that you plaster over the entrance to your ear canal, work well at cutting out noise, but take a bit of getting used to.

24 July – A bunch of arseholes living on Hornsey Road, a few doors down from us, come home at 2.30am and start raving. I can see them from my window, doing that stupid fist air punch thing. Angrily get up and call Noise Patrol. Even more angrily discover that our neighbours have had the discourtesy to have their party outside of the hours that the Noise Patrol work on a weekday. They do 8pm until 2am Sunday to Thursday, and 10pm until 4am on Friday and Saturday. What? Do noise disturbances never occur outside these hours?

Kevin and I are exhausted, we really are. He’s had two really early starts this week – 4am on Monday, to go and do a BBC interview, and 6.45am on Wednesday so he could get to an event. Today, both of us are so tired that we’ve pretty much given up on the day before it has even begun. Kev’s phoned in sick for the first time since I’ve known him, and his boss has kindly said he understands how exhausted Kev is and not to worry. Knowing Kev, he’ll work from home, in between the naps that we’re both going to need just to function.

I have never had so much of a problem with noise. Even when I was in Reading and suffering from the noise pollution and abuse heaped upon me from the guy who lived upstairs, it wasn’t this bad. This is not just one bad apple, this is a whole host of selfish, narcissistic, thoughtless arses who give absolutely no thought to their neighbours and have no regard for the disruption they are causing those around them.

Kev and I struggle with the way that people in London seem to live in their own selfish little bubble, never moving over when they block your way on the pavement, never giving you room to get off the train during rush hour, never respecting or considering those around them. But at least when we came home, we had some relief from the constant press of people.

Not anymore. Now, our privacy is being invaded on a regular basis, our peace and quiet disrupted, our sleep destroyed. And for what? How hard would it be for them to just keep their voices down? Keep the music at a level where it can’t be heard outside? What would the loss to them be? You can still enjoy yourself in your garden without shouting. We all live too close together not to try to consider other people. Where are these people’s basic common decency?

Personally, and pragmatically, I hope the rest of the summer is wet and rainy – the rain helps keep the noise down and I’d rather have some sleep than a sunny summer.

Updates will be appended here, for my own records more than anything.

28 July: BBQ and party in the garden, starting late (between 9pm and 10pm). Very noisy again, so we set up camp in the front room. We also called the Noise Patrol at about 11.30pm, who called us back, and then came round to see what was up. They arrived about 12.15am, but were pretty unhelpful. They explained that there’s little they can really do unless the neighbours start using amplified music. They did say that they would go round there and have a word, but I didn’t see any evidence that that word was successful. We will keep calling them out, as the more we call them out the more seriously they will take it (their advice), and I will also call the daytime noise department and open a complaint with them, again, on the night team’s advice. (Apparently it helps to have two complaints open with the two different teams. Hm. Joined up government, anyone?)

Things eventually quietened down a bit sometime before 3am, and we went from the blow-up mattress on the front room, which was deeply uncomfortable as we hadn’t put down the duvets on top of it to sleep on, back to our own bed. I could then hear the faint strains of music, which was just one the edge of my hearing, so consequently just enough to bug me.

I’m really not sure how much of this I can actually take.

7 Aug, 8 Aug: Yay! Let’s have a beer in the garden and talk really loudly so that the neighbours wake up! Not as loudly as before, I will admit, so shutting the window cut out the noise, but they started both nights at 1am. *grumps*

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Something to make me blog more?

by Suw on July 22, 2008

Much to my surprise, I managed to get myself an iPhone last week simply by walking into the Tottenham Court Road and asking them if they had any. And despite its shortcomings, I love it. What’s particularly great is the ability to download third party apps that make it even more useful and fun. Now I can read my RSS feeds on my iPhone and have the read items sync to my Mac. I can also sync my Omnifocus to do list and keep up to date with email, Twitter, and my calendar.

Really, the iPhone is like a micro Mac.

My latest addition is an app from WordPress which will let me write entries from my phone. I’m not sure if this will result in many more posts on CnV, but I’m sure it will result in a lot more typos.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Two more Fruitful Seminars

by Suw on July 11, 2008

Here are the dates for my next two Fruitful Seminars in September:

The Email Problem and How To Solve It
Wednesday 3rd September 2008

As we move towards a knowledge-based economy, email is becoming an unavoidable part of business life. But not only do some people have to deal with hundreds of emails a day, many of them unnecessary, the ‘always on’ culture of the Blackberry means they can never escape their inbox.

Reducing people’s dependence on email is easier said than done, however. Arbitrary rules like ‘No Email Days’ or tight inbox limits just add to people’s stress and don’t reduce the amount of email people send. This is because the problem with email is psychological, not technical, so such solutions treat only the symptoms and not the cause.

Social media expert Suw Charman-Anderson will take a look what’s at the root of the email problem, and how it can be solved using social tools. During the day you will hear an alternative view of email and will be able to discuss the issues you face in your own company. By the end of the seminar you will have a thorough understanding of the behavioural problems related to email and a clear set of next steps to take.

Who should come?

  • CXO executives
  • IT executives
  • Managers
  • Team leaders
  • Decision makers
  • Social media practitioners
  • Social media vendors

Or anyone in situations similar to these:

  • You are responsible for managing email infrastructure and have problems such as over-full inboxes or unnecessary file duplication across accounts.
  • You have observed poor ’email health’ amongst team members, perhaps including obsessive email checking coupled with delays in processing email.
  • You are concerned about unhealthy patterns of email use across your business and related inefficient use of IT resources.
  • You are an executive or manager who just can’t cope with all your email, much of which is a waste of your time, and you want a better way to work.

Making Social Tools Ubiquitous
Wednesday 10th September 2008

You may have heard that social tools – such as wikis, blogs, social bookmarking and social networking – can help you improve business communications, increase collaboration and nurture innovation. And with open source tools, you can pilot projects easily and cheaply. But what do you do if people won’t use them? And how do you grow from a pilot to company-wide use?

Social media expert Suw Charman-Anderson will take a practical look at the adoption of social tools within your business. During the day you will create a scalable and practical social media adoption strategy and discuss your own specific issues with the group. By the end of the seminar you will have a clear set of next steps to apply to your own collaborative tools project.

Who should come?

  • CXO executives
  • managers
  • team leaders
  • decision makers
  • social media practitioners
  • social media vendors

Or anyone in situations similar to these:

  • You have already installed some social tools for internal communications and collaboration, but aren’t getting the take-up you had hoped for.
  • You have successfully completed a pilot and want to roll-out to the rest of the company.
  • You want to start using social tools and need a strategy for fostering adoption.
  • You sell social software or services and want to understand how your clients can foster adoption of your tool.

If you want to be kept up to date with Fruitful Seminar news and discussion, then please do join our Google Group. And don’t forget to sign up to Lloyd Davis’ social media masterclass on 16 July!

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

I’m pretty sure that there isn’t anyone in the country who doesn’t know that the iPhone 3G went on sale this morning. I know a few people who have managed to order one, but for me, no such luck. And as far as I can tell, it really is down to whether Lady Luck was smiling on you earlier this week that determined whether or not you got to even see the iPhone order page, let along actually get the damn thing to work.

Yes, unprecedented demand. We know that. Indeed, O2 and CPW knew that too, given that you could sign up for an alert and 200k people did so. Did that not give them an idea that things could get a bit hectic? Clearly, it didn’t give them enough of a clue. Maybe I should pop round and insert one by means of a good thumping with a cluebat.

I was in Prague at a conference, and I couldn’t spend enough time online to get the damn shop to work. There was much talk on Twitter about it, with many of my friends having the same problem, although a lucky few managed to get an order in.

Today, I could have got up really early and camped out in front of CPW in Holloway waiting for it to open at 8:02. I’ve had a long couple of weeks, though and to be honest, I’m feeling iPhone Malaise – a sense that it would be futile to try and get hold of an iPhone, so why bother?

And what have O2 and CPW done to help customers who couldn’t order online or get to a store in time today? Well, precious little. CPW is providing iPhones for sale online only to customers who buy new contracts, so those of us upgrading have to wait.

iPhone 3G is currently available as a new subscription only. Please come back or call us on Friday 11 July to upgrade.

Oh, thanks for rewarding my loyalty, way to go CPW. Oh, and by the way, in case you hadn’t noticed, it is Friday 11 July today. Morons.

The O2 website has a lot of excuses but precious little actual information on it. So what do I do now? Is there a waiting list? Any hint as to when we’re going to get a second chance to get an iPhone? Any fricken information at all? Nope, nada. I can’t find a damn thing.

I have to say that O2/CPW’s management of this has been completely incompetent. It’s been a total debacle from the moment the online shops opened. And no, O2, grovelling apologies by text won’t help. Come up with some sort of waiting list or pre-order system so that we can at least bloody register for an iPhone when one becomes available. Saying that new deliveries will happen weekly isn’t much help – you expect me to queue up each week just in case? Come on, the internet is really good at doing things like taking pre-orders, so just let me register for an upgrade, notify me when my turn comes, and let me get on with my life.

It just should not be this difficult.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

I shall be reprising my talk on how to draw a healthy line between work and play at Steph Booth‘s Going Solo conference in Leeds on 12 September. Registration is now open, but don’t delay – the first 25 tickets will be going at the early bird rate of £150, and some have already gone. Once they run out, the normal price is £220.

If you’re a freelance, or are thinking of starting out on your own, then Going Solo will be invaluable – it has a great atmosphere and some stonking speakers! So go straight to registration, do not pass go, and pick up an early bird ticket whilst they are still around.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }