back to article Help! I'm trapped on Schrodinger's runaway train! Or am I..?

Sitting in my tin can far away from home, I marvel that I got here at all. No, not a tin can. It's a budget hotel room with lots of space, which is an oddity. Apparently, even in cheap lodgings they still maintain a room wider than one's outstretched arms – the backpacker digs' equivalent of a royal suite (i.e. with its own …

  1. Rich 11 Silver badge

    or be kept awake all night by strangers' floorboard-vibrating bed farts.

    I don't have to leave home to experience this heart-warming little joy.

    1. 0laf Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Threadripper

      I never fail to be surprised at the volume and ferocity of farts which can eminate from a small sleeping child.

      1. Franco Silver badge

        Re: Threadripper

        Not just sleeping ones. My niece, who is 8, likes to make sure she is giving me a limpet hug when she farts so that I can feel the beginnings of the rumblings from her front of what is about to emanate from her rear. I suspect in her case that this gas is what keeps her spine straight normally, as once it is released she is a puddle on the floor for about 5 minutes.

        My nephew has also just discovered Alexa's most useful talent. She can be asked to make fart noises, which unsurprisingly he finds hilarious.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Threadripper

          My nephew has also just discovered Alexa's most useful talent. She can be asked to make fart noises, which unsurprisingly he finds hilarious.

          Why was I not informed of this?!?! I've fought shy of such devices over privacy fears, but now I know it's got tricks like this, I'm going to be ordering one for every room in the house.

          1. 0laf Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: Threadripper

            Yep my son will (and has for some years) install the 'Fart Skill' on any Alexa device he can find.

            1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

              Re: Threadripper

              Let's hope that Airwick never partners with Alexa...

          2. IceC0ld Silver badge

            Re: Threadripper

            Why was I not informed of this?!?!

            SO, you haven't read about the Musk's latest 'addition' to the Tesla range then

            https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a29613276/tesla-model-3-emissions-fart-mode-tested/

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Threadripper

              "SO, you haven't read about the Musk's latest 'addition' to the Tesla range then"

              Never mind some sort of fix to keep mud from accumulating in the undercarriage.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Threadripper

                A Tesla owner getting mud on the undercarriage? That would mean living in the RealWorld. Next you'll be expecting them to understand what TCO means.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Threadripper

                Man, I hate farts that leave me with mud on my undercarriage.

                Note to self: After a really hot vindaloo, bottle them up until you're safely installed on the throne!

        2. Steve K Silver badge

          Re: Threadripper

          I take it that your niece is not called Alexa....?

          Just checking as one of my son’s friends has a sister called Alexa and I am unsure whether she can fart on demand.

    2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      A few years ago our dog was asleep on the sofa, as is his wont. He'd been dreaming and had twitched around a bit in his sleep and moved right up to the edge of the cushion. At one point he let out a truly thunderous fart, so violent that it woke him from his slumbers. As he jolted up, he fell straight off the edge of the sofa in a dead fall onto the floor - it looked for all the world like he'd farted so hard that he'd blown himself off the sofa.

      I'm easily amused by such things, but it remains one of the funniest things I've seen in my life

      1. 0laf Silver badge
        Pint

        I've seen my dogs wake themselves up and scare themselves with farts over the years however bodily ejection from the sofa is a fart experience of high quality.

      2. Must contain letters
        Coffee/keyboard

        Needs a do not eat lunch and read at the same time warning ....

        Great, absolutely juvenile

      3. jake Silver badge

        I once got out of a speeding ticket when my greyhound let loose with a rather thunderous, and extremely malodorous blast as the officer was exchanging pleasantries with me. The cop's eyes started visibly watering. When the dog let loose another, the cop beat a hasty retreat with a "drive safely, sir, have a nice day". ... Zip (the dog) was always prone to that affliction after partaking of ground-squirrels, but I never thought it would come in handy.

      4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "I'm easily amused by such things, but it remains one of the funniest things I've seen in my life"

        I tried to read this out to my wife. She ended up reading it herself as I was too convulsed on the floor to get all the way through, having already read it to myself and knowing what was coming next! The three glasses of wine probably helped to bring out my inner teen.

    3. jake Silver badge

      Eh?

      You have strangers keeping you up at night with their farting in your own home? We welcome tourists here at Chez Jake, but that is taking things a step too far!

  2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Grumpy old man syndrome

    Nothing brightens my day like a Dabbsy rant :D

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Grumpy old man syndrome

      ... and he's well on form with this one

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    French TV

    Look on the bright side, at least French "Freeview" ("TNT") only has 20 channels, so it takes much less time to decide that there's nothing on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: French TV

      "Look on the bright side, at least French "Freeview" ("TNT") only has 20 channels, so it takes much less time to decide that there's nothing on."

      French TNT has became so shit during the last decade it is a huge embarrassment and unsurprisingly, Netflix is killing them.

      Almost no channel bother to align the TV guide to what is actually being broadcasted (except the very good l'Equipe 21), movies allegedly starting at 21:00 actually start at 21:25 at best, and with 40 mins of ads, good luck with going to bed before 1 am.

      And for that, we have to thank Schrameck, an insignificant XLS civil servant, who was the "head" of CSA, the french authority in charge of ruling the public TV/radios.

      Thank you, Schrameck !!!!

      1. Dr_N Silver badge

        Re: French TV

        >French TNT has became so shit during the last decade it is a huge embarrassment and unsurprisingly, Netflix is killing them.

        When was French TV not shit?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: French TV

          Magic Roundabout?

          1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

            Re: French TV

            I thought that was Belgian.

            Oh wait, a convenient duck tells me that it's Dutch, though some Belgians in the north would argue the difference.

            1. Stoneshop Silver badge

              Re: French TV

              Oh wait, a convenient duck tells me that it's Dutch

              What duck was that? Mine, as well as my memory, tells me it's indeed French. It's been broadcast on Dutch TV for sure but only for a short while, six episodes a week for four months, so about 100 episodes out of the 500 that were made originally.

              1. imanidiot Silver badge

                Re: French TV

                DuckduckGo... probably

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: French TV

            For a surreal experience, New Zealand broadcasters ran it with BOTH the French and English tracks audible. Bernard got foreground level.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: French TV

              Limey here -

              The story I heard that in the UK at least, it was French, the english narrator couldn't speak French and so used to make up stories to go with the video and then dub that.

              1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

                Re: French TV

                Fact of very little relevance - the narrator was Eric Thompson, who died far too early (52 yoa), but had a daughter by the name of Emma, who you might have heard of...

                1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                  Re: French TV

                  Both Eric Thompson and his wife, Phyllida Law, were French speakers - I understand that's why he was given the gig. Eric just thought the French stories could be improved to better suit UK audiences. Both were also presenters on Playschool.

                  Magic Roundabout is one of the few of my childhood favourites I haven't (yet) inflicted on my children. I wonder if there's a boxed set available?

                  M.

                  1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                    Re: French TV

                    Eric just thought the French stories could be improved to better suit UK audiences

                    Much like the regional versions of Asterix are significantly different from each other (even down to the names) - the originators and translators wanted each language to be funny and distinct rather than a slavish copy.

                    Which is why they sold so many round the world.

                    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                      Re: French TV

                      Regarding Asterix, the names (other than Asterix and Obelix) often only work (as a pun / joke) in one language, so unless you change them you remove half the fun of the thing.

                      I don't think there was quite the same need to make anything other than a reasonably direct translation of Le_Manège_enchanté but Eric Thompson considered he could probably improve on the original.

                      Having only ever seen the English version, I couldn't possibly comment.

                      M.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: French TV

      There's nothing on anywhere. If I ever break down and start a YouTube channel, the first episode will have me digging the tv out of the back of the garage and setting it on fire in the middle of the driveway. No music, no commentary, just 9 minutes of flaming TV.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Enquiries

    > A banner at the top informs me that I should seek information about which train services are running by checking its Twitter feed.

    This irks me. Companies have an on-line <whatever> service but they make it so impossible for staff to access and update, the company has to fall back on Twitter to get the job done in anything other than the mildest of difficulties.

    My Council are a classic: go on line and enter my postcode to find out when my dustbin will be emptied. Except at Christmas when I have to download a Word leaflet telling me the variations. I might just as well download the leaflet all year round and they could have saved themselves the cost of 'the system'.

    <bah , humbug>

    1. 0laf Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Enquiries

      If you want the ultimate in random communications try a school.

      Some info comes within paper sheets, lovingly crumpled into the deepest corners of a school bag

      Some are posted on a Facebook site, sometimes as timeline posts sometimes as files

      Many go out on Twitter (there are no alternatives if you don't 'do' FB or Twitter, you must 'do' FB and Twitter or you are evil and should have your children removed from you)

      Some info is only listed on a calendar produced once a year hidden in a secret location known only to the chosen few and revealed during a blood moon when the dead walk amongst us

      Maybe there is an app with alerts which are not on Twitter or Facebook or paper, yet so frequent you have to turn them off to preserve your sanity

      There may be other 3rd party apps as well to serve homework, maths, reports etc, none of which will be GDPR compliant but if you mention this you are evil; complex passwords will be whispered to your young child to remember and take home

      And then reguarly you child will be told important information published nowhere else, luckly your child can hash all of this information to three words in response to any question about school, "nothing", "fine", "good" or "James hit me".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Enquiries

        Many go out on Twitter (there are no alternatives if you don't 'do' FB or Twitter, you must 'do' FB and Twitter or you are evil and should have your children removed from you)

        That idea ended quickly in my children's' school after I told management exactly just how many privacy problems they were creating and the possible consequences. There is value in being a privacy consultant.

        Heck, I even got them off Gmail, but I think that had to do more with the fact that that saved them money..

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Enquiries

          " after I told management exactly just how many privacy problems they were creating and the possible consequences"

          I did the same for my Grand Daughter's school after her mum was driven to tears by the shear stupidity of the powers that be who supposedly ran the place.

          "I even got them off Gmail"

          My daughter handled that little issue for the entire school district when she was pregnant with the brat. One simple little BSD server, with a hot fall-back on another campus. Their email system has been running non-stop for around 10 years now, with nary a hiccup. Imagine that.

      2. ciaran

        Re: Enquiries

        In france my son's school has a subscription to a dedicated school information service. So I get emails from them in the app, with a notification going to my email address. I can see my son's timetable and all his marks, with the class min/max/average.

        As far as I know all the secondary schools have a similar system. I think there are 3 or 4 companies offering equivalent services.

        I'm impressed.

        1. Jan 0 Silver badge

          Re: Enquiries

          @ciaran

          That's Still one too many. They could just email everything.

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: Enquiries

            What's the attraction of email over an app? A decent app is simpler, easier to file and keep track of, and way more reliable.

            The only counter case I can think of is people who don't do apps - but it seems to me that those people are just as likely not to do email either, so if you're concerned about them, you should be advocating for all-paper communications.

            1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change Bronze badge

              Re: Enquiries

              I don't do apps unless I see a d*** good reason for an app over standard tools such as a browser.

              Email is one such standard tool. No software to install. No superfluous bloat, no associated risks of a misbehaving app.

              1. veti Silver badge

                Re: Enquiries

                Well, I do see such a reason. Email is a terrible tool for communicating with a school. Even worse than with a bank.

                For one thing, if I want to let the school know my child will be absent, it's nice to know that I'm communicating over a secure channel. (Of course someone may have nicked my phone, but if that's true then I'm likely to know about it.) With email, anyone could fake my address well enough to fool an average school secretary.

                For another thing, I have all my communications with the school in one place. No filtering required, no filling up my mailbox with PDFs I don't want to keep. No having to hunt through a stack of correspondence to find stuff like term dates, appointments, special events, or old newsletters - I know exactly where to find all those things.

                And last but not least, I'm reasonably sure that if I contact the school through the app, they'll actually receive my communication, and vice versa. With email that's by no means a sure thing any longer, such is the enthusiasm of current spam filtering.

                tl;dr: email sucks.

        2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: As far as I know all the secondary schools have a similar system.

          I'm impressed.

          You wait till a pupil sues the school for divulging stuff to his/her pater and or mater without said pupil having given authority to do so.

        3. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: Enquiries

          So I get emails from them in the app, with a notification going to my email address.

          They moved away from Minitel?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Enquiries

        Not GDPR compliant, work to varying degrees, crossover on functionality but all show something different, some require JAVA which isn't supported on the tablet they use so you have to jump through hoops, subject taught based on old or wrong curriculum, parents need 3 apps just to check day to day items plus rely on texts and emails, it goes on...

        Internally they also might also use something like Moodle for the staff and students but given it is generally the teachers setting it up this invariably becomes a mess that noone wants to use and noone wants to take responsibilty for, no offense meant to the teachers but they are busy and not necessarily experienced in these things so it is rushed and not thought through properly.

        The joys of parenthood :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Enquiries

          and they often use moodle as they are too cheap to use blackboard, well my FE college was (some work related course, when asked why they no longer used blackboard (which worked) the reply "its cheaper" "yes we know it doesn't work properly and isn't set up properly, but we're told it saves the college x thousand a year"

          1. Julian Bradfield

            Re: Enquiries

            There are things worse than Blackboard?

            1. Hugh Pumphrey

              Re: Enquiries

              I, too, was about to question whether there was anything worse than Blackboard. When I saw who had posted the question, I realised that we both suffer from the same instance of Blackboard --- this may not be a coincidence.

          2. imanidiot Silver badge

            Re: Enquiries

            Took me a few seconds too long to realize it says " use blackboard" and not "use a blackboard, trying to figure out how using anything digital/electronic could be cheaper than chalk on a board.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Enquiries

          "parents need 3 apps just to check day to day items plus rely on texts and emails, it goes on..."

          Another thing to look at might be whether any of this is even necessary for a majority of the kids. Ones that aren't completing their homework might get "put on the system" so their parents can keep a closer eye. I was pretty good with doing my assignments when I was in school. If I were to decide to give a couple a miss, I'd be sent home with a note that had to be signed and returned the next day or I'd be in the office on a conference call with my parents rather than napping in class.

          It could be another case of solving a problem that doesn't really exist or one that applies to every kid.

          1. Twanky Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: Enquiries

            Ooh! Look. Look! This child is being treated differently! Discrimination! Sue the bastards!

      4. macjules Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Enquiries

        Hah! My brood know that the the only way they can contact me is via Signal or, if it is important, by simply telephoning my better half or myself. They have been taught that Facebook, Twitter etc are obviously the evil spawn of Rupert Murdoch, Mark Zuckenberg and other global Illuminati.

        Of course they pay as much attention to that as any child would and go back to direct messaging each other on Twitter.

      5. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change Bronze badge

        Re: Enquiries

        Talking of a school ...

        There's a bus route I sometimes use. Some of the buses are marked as running only on schooldays for [foo] school; others as running on non-schooldays.

        Googling [foo] school finds nothing[1]. Evidently [foo] is not what the school calls itself and I could look it up by.

        There is a school that the bus sometimes diverts into and picks up kids, so I guess that must be it. It's near the far end of the route, so most of my journeys don't overlap with the kids. But nowhere can I find information on schooldays vs holidays there. Result - if I want to catch certain buses, I can only guess whether they're running on the day.

        [1] That is, nothing within 50 miles of anywhere on the bus route in question.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Enquiries

          Instead of guessing, you could call the bus company on your telephone (remember how to do that?) and ask for a schedule. I'm fairly certain that they will be more than happy to provide such a thing to an actual fare paying customer.

          This tactic worked nicely before there was a go ogle, it works nicely today, and it'll work long after go ogle is put out of our collective misery.

          1. Twanky Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Enquiries

            I'm fairly certain that they will be more than happy to provide such a thing....

            Such reassuring naiveté. The person who answers the telephone is more likely to direct you to the company Facebook page; or web page if you're really lucky - but never something as useful as a downloadable PDF.

            1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change Bronze badge

              Re: Enquiries

              I already have the downloadable PDF. It's where the problem arises in the first place. Along with other sources of the identical document, such as that displayed at (some) bus stops.

              As for the phone, that would be great if it were a once-and-for-all matter, but a high overhead for a per-journey query.

            2. imanidiot Silver badge

              Re: Enquiries

              Or the display department, in the basement, in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "beware of the leopard", inside the bottom drawer of a locked filing cabinet.

      6. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Enquiries

        "Many go out on Twitter (there are no alternatives if you don't 'do' FB or Twitter, you must 'do' FB and Twitter or you are evil and should have your children removed from you)"

        Why can't the school have their own website where they can post notices, class assignments, etc? I'll bet that most of the kids these days could design and run it for them as a class project for extra credit just like a school newspaper. Any changes would get held for review before going public. Anything to do with kid's information could behind a 2FA login that parents set during a school visit.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Enquiries

      It irritates me because I don't have a Twitter account :-/

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Enquiries

        I have been told that the only valid reason to have a Twitter account is to publicly complain to companies.

        Emails can be ignored, but a public tweet tends to get resolved a lot quicker.

        No idea how true that is, never bothered signing up.

  5. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Signing up for "loyalty" points/apps is like covering your life with stale web cookies - they are just "rewarding" you and tracking everything you do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Charity and Anarchy

      Personally I like to offer any potential rewards points to the customer behind my in the checkout queue.

      Not only does this help that individual out (after all, they *have* chosen to take part) it also screws up all the predictive telemetry the store is using their data for.

      1. Steve Kerr

        Re: Charity and Anarchy

        I use the Waitrose scanner so tracking what I buy doesn't really show exciting.

        Some ready meals, assorted tinned fish, salad stuff, smoothies occasionally, some other assorted stuff, soap etc...

        And lots of carrots and apples - for my horse's feeds, but then don't need tracking for that and the staff ask me if I've got carrots for my horse, they know me well, don't need a tracking app for that as I'm in there daily buying them.

        1. Boufin
          FAIL

          Re: Charity and Anarchy

          The Nectar app recently told me the top three items (by count, not value) that I apparently purchased in Sainsbury's in 2019 under the heading "What did your 2019 Taste Like?". Don't often shop there, so I think the data looks to be a little bit suspect. At number 3, Cucumbers. Number 2 is Grapefruit Juice (not from concentrate, don't you know). And proudly occupying the number 1 slot is Cat Litter Tray Liners. Yummy.

        2. dak

          Re: Charity and Anarchy

          You buy your horse's carrots in Waitrose!!!

          I can't afford them for my own scran.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Charity and Anarchy

            When I run out of home-grown carrots & apples, I get mine from a local small farm aggregator. 50 pound bags for under $10 (less than half the wholesale price). They are mostly "blems", but the horses don't care. Nor do I ... twinned carrots and cosmetically ugly apples might not be sellable to millennials, hipsters & yuppies, but they are just as tasty as their "perfect" cousins.

            1. Richard 12 Silver badge

              Re: Charity and Anarchy

              I miss the amusingly shaped vegetables.

              Seems almost impossible to buy them now

              1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                Re: Charity and Anarchy

                Morrisons has a reasonable selection of 'wonky' fruit and veg.

                M.

                1. MadDrFrank

                  Re: Charity and Anarchy

                  My daughter recently had a large bag of mis-shapen carrots from Tesco. We had to work hard to finish them -- but the price and quality were excellent.

                  Wouldn't want to save money that way every week, though.

        3. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: Charity and Anarchy

          I used to pay a couple of quid a large sack for carrots from a local feed store, same place I bought molassed beet and powdered garlic.

          The horses only used to get about 80% though, the carrots were better than in any supermarket or local greengrocer's.

          1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change Bronze badge

            Re: Charity and Anarchy

            I happily buy "misshapen" fruit&veg when I spot something I could use. They're generally perfectly good, and sometimes more than that.

            Best was the coop's misshapen onions. Sufficient real flavour they're the only shop-bought ones in many years to have brought tears to the eyes in chopping. And indeed, the eating brings corresponding pleasure.

            Just be careful when using them together with hot chilli (as I frequently do). Chopping chilli and rubbing the eyes don't mix well.

        4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Charity and Anarchy

          "Waitrose ...And lots of carrots and apples"

          Do they sell the "rubbish" in large enough quantities for you? Would it not be cheaper and easier to get these at the local fruit and veg shop? Our local one always has a sack of apples marked as "horse feed". Or is only the best good enough for your horse :-)

    2. Alistair Dabbs

      "covering your life with stale web cookies"

      My contact lenses were blurring a bit when I read that and I wondered why I should want to cover my wife with stale web cookies. I mean, fresh cookies are so much better for covering one's partner in such circumstances.

      1. Psmo Silver badge

        Glad I'm not the only one.

      2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Not cookie dough? Freshly mixed for preference.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Can cause food poisoning, which is less sexy than it sounds.

    3. MCPicoli

      Hmmm cookies!

      Most people:

      Did I hear something about cookies? I like cookies! hmmm... yummy cookies!

      ...then they get all upset and enraged when the inevitable <insert your favourite nasty surprise caused by not being privacy conscious>...

      ...and suddenly it's all governments fault for not protecting the good citizens against evil Hax0rs.

      Rinse-and-repeat.

    4. ibmalone Silver badge

      While this is a legitimate thing to bear in mind, take the example of my local $supermarket, where I haven't been able to buy the pasta I like for months (because they don't have it in stock), yet continue to get coupons to encourage me to buy it. I don't need encouragement to buy it, I already buy it if available, what they need to do to sell me more pasta is actually have it in the shop.

  6. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Alert

    Hurrah for apps

    Especially banks and new pretend banks jumping on the bandwagon too. You know your money's safe with them (33c3 talk, 30 mins).

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Hurrah for apps

      "You know your money's safe with them" as long as they've secured their AWS...

  7. JassMan

    Your big mistake was to not download OUIGO app as well

    All the best logic uses "best of three" voting.

    That said, for all its faults, the French rail system still seems more efficient than UK. Even during strikes you get (sometimes conflicting) info about trains which are running, rather than no info other than "due a strike you may experience delays" (ie you are on your own trying to get to your destination).

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Your big mistake was to not download OUIGO app as well

      That's because French trains are always on strike, so they have plenty of practice.

      1. Alistair Dabbs

        Re: Your big mistake was to not download OUIGO app as well

        "French trains are always on strike"

        Well, some part or another of the train system will be on strike during the course of a year, just like in the UK, but a general strike is rare.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Your big mistake was to not download OUIGO app as well

          Wait until you've been commuting on them for a while, you'll be pining for the comfort and reliability of Network SouthEast,

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: Your big mistake was to not download OUIGO app as well

            The comfort being your own couch at home because they extremely reliably never run?

          2. John Arthur
            Trollface

            Re: Your big mistake was to not download OUIGO app as well

            @Phil,

            You forgot the joke icon!

            1. Psmo Silver badge

              Re: Your big mistake was to not download OUIGO app as well

              I'm afraid he's not joking.

              I've commuted daily for 8 years on the main London to Brighton line, and the RER A between Cergy and Paris and St Lazarre for over 10 years.

              Some weeks in France I have had 8 out of 10 journeys taking nearly double their time because of bad information (waiting for a train that never comes, or in a train that never leaves). They're particularly bad at letting you in time to make other arrangements.

          3. Graham Dawson Silver badge

            Re: Your big mistake was to not download OUIGO app as well

            I've had the joy of using rail services in several countries (including Argentina and Sweden, both of which are stuck in the 1970s) and, for all the jokes, I've found the UK rail service experience to be amongst the best out there. Generally easy to navigate, generally close to on time, comfortable, not stupidly expensive. We're spoiled these days, especially compared to the old BR, which was utterly abysmal.

    2. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Your big mistake was to not download OUIGO app as well

      That's not saying much. I think just about any train service is better than the UK one... apart from the USA.

    3. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Your big mistake was to not download OUIGO app as well

      the French rail system still seems more efficient than UK

      At the end of last year I was in the south-east of France for several days and nearly all the trains were delayed. The estimates of the delays changed at random and by large amounts and none was anywhere near the actual arrival time of the train. It was if they'd lost the train entirely and were telling you when to expect something visually similar to pass through the station simply to distract you.

      On the other hand, they do actually line up the seats with the windows whereas travelling by train in the UK is increasingly akin to immurement.

  8. baud Bronze badge

    I traveled during the last strike in France, where the unions had the innovative idea of doing 3 days of strike, 2 days of normal services, for weeks. But at least that time, which trains were running or not was precisely announced in advance. And I'm happy I started renting a flat last year in walking distance to my workplace, so I don't have to experience the strike of the Paris public transportation network (well, except on week-end, but that's less of a bother)

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge

      When my wife and I first visited Paris the Louvre staff were no strike. Many tourists thought that meant the place was shut but the strike consisted of the staff turning up for work and not taking entrance fees. So we got an almost empty Louvre for free. There was no queue for the Mona Lisa and I got to stand the ideal distance from a Monet where if I moved my head forward it was a lot of dots but if I moved it back it snapped into a fantastic painting. Only works with the original is it relies on the 3D paint.

      Forget where we found out it was still open but we did and very glad we did too. The Musee D’Orsay was more crowded than the Louvre that day.

  9. stuartnz

    "the INOUI app" - since the "in-" prefix in French means what it does it in English, is the app actually just "Non"? :)

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

      Inoui also means "unheard (of)" (with a strong hint of "unbelievable") and is running the "OUIGO" trains (which dosn't mean anything but you get the idea).

      So that would be a silent "non" then.

      1. stuartnz

        I can't help looking for puns wherever I can, and first thought of riffing on "ennui", but it seems there's a distinct lack thereof when interacting with the app in question. :)

  10. chivo243 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    It's Schrodinger's train.

    It's a lot like Ozzy's crazy train, with more drugs... and cesium

  11. Dan Wilkie

    It sounds very reminiscent of a hotel chain who sound a bit like Tigris Budget...

    I pretty much lived in one of those while I was up in London and always appreciated the fact it was convenient, cheap, and had everything i needed!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Their "budget" ones are taking it a bit too far though. They're a rebrand from another chain which didn't have en-suite bathrooms, hence the in-room shower cubicle + loo in a cupboard. OK for single travellers, but the family breakfasting beside me didn't appreciate a "family room" with such design. Seems that Mum was not impressed by having to take a shower with nothing but some waist-level frosted glass to preserve her modesty.

      1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        Reminds me of a weekend away a few years ago with The War Department, when she'd organised a little family-run B&B in a little Scottish village. We were checking in and the proprietor said "Now, you've booked a double room - I can offer you that or I've got a twin room available as well"

        "We'll take the double room that we'd requested" I said

        Mein host pondered for a moment and asked "Have the two of you been together long?"

        I thought he was being a bit judgemental so answered a bit indignantly "six or seven years as it happens"

        "Oh, that's OK then...it's just that the double room doesn't have a toilet door"

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        I once got sent to fix a printer at a Formule One "hotel". Now THAT was budget! The rooms had a metal tubeular framed bunk beds, double on the bottom and a single on top, a rail to put your own hangers on and a "table" with no proper top to rest a suitcase on. That was pretty much it. I can't remember if there a a TV or toilet in the room, but there no bath or shower. There was a shower room for every 6 or 8 room which was basically a large cupboard opened by your room key that "self cleaned" after you left.

        Formule One are/were the very bottom end of Accor chain.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > Formule One are/were the very bottom end of Accor chain.

          Were. Now rebranded as "Ibis budget"

          1. Olivier2553 Silver badge

            But at least they now have shower an loo in the room, with a proper door to the loo.

            And when it happened that they had a problem with their water heater, they arranged for me to use a room at the nearby non-budget Ibis and were ready to drive me to the airport in case I could not make it by public transportation because of this incident.

            I have stayed in a Formule Un too, Ibis budget is much better.

  12. Dr_N Silver badge

    Hotel Loyalty Schemes

    Nah. Too much bother.

    And the main French hotel chain one is pretty mediocre.

    Just use one of the main hotel booking websites and sign up for theirs instead. 1 free night every 10 nights booked and room-upgrades, lounge access (with free booze in some hotels) and late-checkouts galore.

    I'll let you Google. I'm not hawking anything.

  13. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Lovely little weekend starter

    Great episode, once more

  14. IceC0ld Silver badge

    just going to add

    if I EVER see ANYONE looking remotely like Mr Dabs getting into or on my Train / Bus / Plane / Hotel - I am getting OFF ffs :o)

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: just going to add

      Also, if you see me in a queue, join the other one. Even if it's twice as long, you'll overtake me soon enough.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: just going to add

        Only if I'm not in the other queue. If I am, all bets are off.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: just going to add

          Likewise, me too. I always seem to pick the item that won't scan at the supermarket.

      2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: just going to add

        I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one cursed with slow queue syndrome.

        It makes absolutely no difference even if there's just one person in the queue with a bag of carrots, you can bet that when they come to pay they'll dig out a years's worth of coupons for the cashier to 'try' on the off chance one of them will knock 10p off.

        It sucks.

    2. Stuart Moore
      Paris Hilton

      Re: just going to add

      if I EVER see ANYONE looking remotely like Mr Dabs getting into or on my Train / Bus / Plane / Hotel - I am getting OFF ffs :o)

      Mme Dabbs may have something to say about that!

  15. John 110

    You utter basratd!!

    That was only half an IT Crowd story, now I'll have to hunt down the rest!!!

  16. AndrueC Silver badge
    Alert

    Will it reach its terminus as usual or will it apparently go inexplicably missing from the tracks in the countryside outside Lille?

    Reminds me of a short science fiction story. A subway Named Mobius. Be careful out there, Dabbsy!

    1. Daedalus Silver badge

      He's the man who never returned....

      I was going to use that link! Especially since I wrote the article. Kudos for also being a fan of that old classic stuff.

    2. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change Bronze badge

      Science fiction?

      I take it you never encountered the infamous DAMTP (back when it was on Silver Street)!

  17. DJV Silver badge

    "Harry and Meghan taking the lifts"

    Well, looking at the guy's right hand in that picture, I think "Harry" is taking grabbing somewhat more than just the lifts!

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: "Harry and Meghan taking the lifts"

      Have they pitched to replace Sandi Toksvig in the "Great British Bake Off"?

  18. Daedalus Silver badge

    Information Hell

    This is an example of tech's reach exceeding its grasp. It's all very well saying you can get an app that shows you how much of something is in stock, where it's located in the store, how many rooms are free at the hotel, and is there honey still for tea. It's another to keep that information updated when the links in the chain are operated by idiots or persons of malicious intent. Knowing that your objective is in aisle 99A depends on whether or not somebody has moved the article and left it in a trolley by the Gents, or has spirited it out the back door, or whether it is currently behind that door with the Beware of the Leopard sign.

    And indeed as more and more operational details are automated, we are left with entire stores and hotels staffed by one person who also has to deal with the drunks, lunatics and malefactors that roam the streets while the technocrats live in their VR paradises.

  19. jake Silver badge

    Ah, yes. Early '80s Ozzy.

    Absolute proof that you don't need the headache-inducing Autotune and a multi-million dollar per year makeup contract perched on a plastic human analogue in order to fill a stadium with tens of thousands of screaming teenagers.

    1. batfink Silver badge

      Re: Ah, yes. Early '80s Ozzy.

      TBF Ozzy probably could've done with a multi-million dollar makeup contract...

  20. smudge
    Paris Hilton

    The accessible room

    It turns out the most spacious room in a budget hotel is simply the one normally reserved for wheelchair users.

    Spot on. I too was once a top-level loyalty card holder with an intercontinental hotel chain. So in a hotel that I used to frequent (not the Paris Hilton!) I was once upgraded to the accessible room. As you said, bags of space, two TVs - weird echo effect if you put them both on - and the walls looked as though wheelchair users had been re-enacting the chariot race from "Ben Hur".

    The bathroom, as well as being palatial, was done out as a wetroom - i.e. completely tiled, nothing to step into, with the shower spraying directly onto the floor.

    Which was fine, except that they hadn't laid the floor right. Some of the water went down the intended drain, but the rest of it migrated across the room and formed a sizeable lake under the wash-basin. So if you wanted to do anything requiring the mirror, or simply clean your teeth, then you had to stand in an inch of rapidly-cooling water.

    Naturally, I told the hotel staff about this.

    Next time I was upgraded to this room, I mentioned the problem that it had last time.

    "Oh, no problem! We have solved that!". Good stuff.

    Up to the room, looked in to the bathroom - and there was a shiny new water pusher broom thing! One of these things with a big wide rubber blade which the lifeguards in my local swimming pool used when I was a kid.

    That'll teach these disabled people to complain!

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: The accessible room

      I had to change rooms after a couple of days as the heating system was insufficient to warm all that space. So I turned it on full, whereupon it made a sound like inserting a bookmark into an electric fan and began blasting out chilled air like an Eskimo's aircon. I'm now in a diddy little cubicle and warm as toast.

    2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: The accessible room

      In once stayed for four days in an accessible room in the Purple Palace chain (who's most salient point was that they were usually clean and in good condition compared to the other budget business chain).

      After four days I had copious bruises on my legs from the low bed, back ache from using the low sink and a nervous twitch every time I touched a pull cord in case it was one of the emergency alarm chains... I tried tying them up out of the way but the cleaning staff put them back every time.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: The accessible room

      "I was once upgraded to the accessible room."

      The downside is that if you are even slightly shorter than average height, your feet don't reach the ground when sat on the bog!

      1. Criggie

        Re: The accessible room

        As a tall person, I'd pay good money for an oversized room. I mean where EVERYTHING is oversized.

        So the doors are 3 metres tall, with a handle at face height, and you need a step to get up onto the bed which is truely enormous.

        So often in life, things are smaller than you remember them. Sales idea anyone? Alternative Airbnb perhaps ?

    4. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: The accessible room

      A lifetime ago, I was on long assignment and used to stay in a small hotel at a village near the work place. If they were nearing full-occupancy, the receptionist would give the "Bridal Suite" with 4-poster bed

  21. MachDiamond Silver badge

    I love it when...

    I'm calling my ISP to find out when my internet will be restored and the recording asks me to visit their "award winning website". I pine for the old days when one of the options when calling was to get current system status. I could find out right away whether they were aware of the outage and if they had any estimate on when it would be fixed. .

    My web host has all of their comms on the same service. When my web site is down, their VOIP lines don't work and their web page is off line as well. I've had words about this with them but my Russian isn't really up to it. I also think there are only 3 or 4 people working there.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: I love it when...

      "Yob tvoye maht" from somebody who doesn't speak Russian usually makes an impression.

  22. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Joke

    From France with Love

    As you can see, my much prolonged, zig-zag route up the country and into Blighty worked

    Was Mme D accompanying you in the guise of Tatiana, or were you intending to catch up with Rosa in London?

  23. Jos V

    Stuck again?

    Hey Dabs. Looks like SNCF has nicely borked your trip back again. Next week's episode?

    Good luck on the rest of the trip...

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