Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Product recall

The late news last nigh covered the inquires in USA re Toyota motor vehicle recalls that are going on. I was following a Toyota the other day and remembered the old advertising feature they used to use “The car in front is a Toyota” Nowadays it might read the car in front is a Toyota with dodgy brakes, iffy steering and a sticky accelerator pedal. I worked for a company who supplied Toyota for a couple of years and at that time their quality systems were the best in the business with the emphasis for quality placed firmly with the supplier. What is currently happening is a surprise to me as it must have been to Toyota senior management.
My wife owns a small Peugeot which was made at the same factory as the Ago and surprise surprise she had a product recall this morning for the same accelerator problems Toyota have been having. The difference is that the recall of Peugeot and it will apply to Citron too have not had any bad publicity. I was not surprised to get this recall knowing as I do how common components are used across the industry. I don’t think I would want to be in the shoes of the product supplier though. Having been involved with a potential product recall across USA about twenty years ago it is a scary experience. Fortunately for us our product was over engineered by us and no failures occurred. The manufacturing fault was corrected and although we had to meet the cost of a complete inspection of all products in the supply chain it never bankrupted us. My trips to the states during the crisis though were not pleasant.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Bullying & such

Does it matter if our PM is passionate about his job? Does it really matter if he throws things around the office and goes into sulks? Probably no but these are not the real issues. I was astounded to hear the bullying helpline charity had breached confidentially and released some alleged details of complaints. I can’t help thinking this is part of a political smear campaign. The real issue though is whether he is fit to manage our country. I don’t believe the electorate are so much against another five years of Labour but another five years of Brown is more than we deserve.
During my career I worked closely with several senior managers, directors and MDs until I eventually held a senior management post. When you strip out all the bullshit there are two types of manager the Proactive and Reactive manager. I worked for both over the years. GB is a classic Reactor he waits for the crisis and then responds. This type rarely empower their team properly and are always ready to blame someone else for the crisis. The Proactive manager is a lot better to work for. They will spend more time thinking about the threats and opportunities and usually delegate well. They will often spot a crisis when it is on the horizon and steer the ship clear. I much prefer this type and I tried to be a Proactive manager who always had a plan B and often a sketchy plan C depending on the circumstances. A favourite quote from one of my staff used to be “don’t worry Bob it will all come right in the end” My view was that it would only come right if the correct decisions were taken at the right time.
It saddens me to see a Labour party going into an election in such disarray but while Brown is in charge we will continue to swerve from one crisis to the next that is the nature of the man. Events can often overtake the manager but these should be rare not everyday in the way our country as been lead in the last two and a half years. I’ve seen it many times, remove this manager and things start to improve. Do I think Cameron will be any better absolutely not! And Clegg? His ideas for giving carers a week’s break is potty. Respite is a complex issue not to be addressed in such an off hand way.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

A future fair for all

And the great personal care debate. The phrase a future fair for all is not new in labour circles, it’s the reason I joined the labour party and what I firmly believe in. I had too many years of Tory greed during the recessions of the eighties and early nineties. The Tories didn’t care how many were out of work in fact the more the merrier we were told it was good for the country. When I think of the communities that were destroyed during the Tory years my blood boils. Do we really want to go back to not enough books for kids? To schools falling apart to next to no invest in hospitals and high unemployment? Well I don’t. Gordon is right in saying Labour have made mistakes because he made more of them than anyone else. He is also right to say we should take a long hard look at what the Tory offer is. The starting point was the increase in Inheritance tax threshold which helps the few at the expense of the many. Their slash and burn policies to reduce the deficit in the shortest possible time whatever the pain scares me because it will jeopardise the recovery and make things worse. The arrogance of it though is the recession which is the main issue in this election is world wide and largely their banking buddies fault.
Yesterday Andy Burnham held an emergency conference to discuss personal care provision and how it might be funded. The Tories were conspicuous by their absence. Which leaves me wondering what if anything they are planning to do. One of Labours big mistakes was not sorting the personal care issue just after they came to power. Scotland has a free service and this has not caused a massive run on local council funds which the doom and gloomers are predicting here. It can and must be afforded from general taxation. The humiliation of older people being in effect evicted from their homes to pay for personal care is a disgrace and a shame on Gordon’s head. His attitude to pensions and pensioners has been a scandal throughout his years has chancellor and PM now Mr. Brown it is payback time. I’m looking for a much better offer for pensioners and the establishment of a fair personal care system before giving my support to this campaign.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Test and treat

This week is the blood tests; see the consultant and treatment provided all the blood numbers are OK. After the blood tests I’m always a bit on edge and preoccupied and the wife recons a bit irritable. I can’t believe that. My blood numbers continued to move in the right direction but at a much slower pace than previous treatments. I still have a long way to go with this course of treatment so fingers crossed the numbers get near to a stable condition in a couple of months. The treatment left me tired and stressed out yesterday so unable to do much. Delighted to say today I’m almost back to normal if I know what that is anymore. Blogging you will have noticed as been slow. I’ve got a couple of pieces partly written so if all is well normal blogging should continue in a day or two.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Valentines Day

In recent years since I learned how to make greetings cards with my computer I have made my own bespoke cards for my wife at Christmas, birthdays and valentines. She won’t let me do it for other members of the family because she thinks they’ll think I’m mean. Me mean? The misses keeps a close rein on my activities these days so it is difficult for me to fit writing a suitable verse and designing a card without her knowledge. This last week she must have thought I was visiting some porno sites because whenever she came into my office to check on me my screen did a very quick change. I had to save a lot more frequently than normal. I find I can write this mushy poetry quite well. I must be a big softy and no I am not going to publish the said poem on line. Suffice to say the wife loved it. The brownie points are stacking up. My valentine present was a 25quid win on the premium bonds. No begging letters please!

Friday, 12 February 2010

Death tax?

It now appears that Labour is considering introducing a new tax to help to pay for care for the elderly. The new tax will be payable on death and will be set at £20,000 per death. This to me typifies the hypocrisy that is Labour today. Back benchers quite rightly complained about the Tory plan to increase the threshold for capital gains tax to £10000000. Now the health minister is considering this barmy idea. The tri party talks on providing care have broken down with Tory and Labour blaming each other. Even the Tories can’t stomach this proposal. If you think about it it will become the most hated tax of all time. Even Thatcher couldn’t have come up with worse. Can you imagine in Sandwell how many widows or widowers will be able to find 20 grand to pay up on the death of a loved one? How will this work? Another means test? Pay up or else? Time to pay? At a time after loosing a loved one is not the time for big government of any colour to be demanding money from the bereaved. Will they be sent to prison for failing to pay. Apparently we can’t afford to do this through general taxation. Well I think this claim is utter tosh. Brown could not afford to bail out failed pension funds but managed to find the money to bail out three banks. Utter hypocrisy. How much would it cost on income tax perhaps 2p on lower rate and much more on the higher rates.
I was please with the way Andy Burnham was dealing with this issue until now. This just shows how the leadership of Labour think and I don’t like it. It is not going to win an election and begs the question do Labour want to win?
Shame on you Mr. Burnham. A tax on death is just too horrible to contemplate.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Star ship Enterprise

A bit of an exaggeration perhaps well a lot of an exaggeration but let me explain.
We lost an old friend last Sunday. Our phone rang late in the evening and then went dead. Nothing, no line or out. I blamed the phone company and reported it. On Monday I came to start to think about it and realised it was our phone system that had finally given up on us. It was very old ad hock system which we had added to over the years.
The search was on for a new system to meet our needs. We eventually settled on a Panasonic with three extra handsets. When the large screen lights up it’s a bit like the flight deck from Enterprise. It had some ideal functions like large screen, very big letters and easy to use touch pad. Able to make the rings louder and increase sound during calls. What it did not say on the box you need a degree in computer science to program the thing. Always looking to save a few bob I said to the misses when she had decided on this system why do we need a phone in every room? She replied in her usual frank and pragmatic way, because we can’t hear it ring and when we do we aren’t quick enough to get into another room before the answer machine clicks in. I couldn’t argue with that. Delighted to be able to report the new system is up and running. Easiest feature was copying across the address book to all the handsets. Biggest pain was manually inputting the address book and getting the answer facility right. The wife recorded the message in her posh voice. So far I’m very pleased with our new phones.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Is this the first snow drop?

The misses and I were pottering in the garden yesterday when I inadvertently came upon this little beauty. Spring is just around the corner. I’m wondering is this the first snow drop in Great Barr? The crocus fairy rings seem to be growing well although the wife came within inches of treading all over them.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Dodgy David.

I luxuriated this morning and used my prerogative has a pensioner to have an extra half hour in bed listening to the today program. The Tories have been caught out by Auntie Beeb sending around to constituency parties violent crime figures which are woefully misleading. They apparently claim that violent crime has in creased by 200% under Labour. What they forgot to mention was that the method used and what constitutes violent crime changed a couple of years back. Oh naughty naughty. I have some sympathy though because I refused to carry on editing and publishing our local neighbourhood watch newsletter because I could never get timely figures or consistent methods of recording from our local cops.
It was interesting to hear the shadow minister trying to justify their actions and making out we all live in fear of our lives.
Over here in little ol Newton we have a new Inspector who is very proactive and although I have some misgiving with our neighbourhood Bobbies we have been spoiled by having two first class police community support officers. Although these two have now moved on their replacements seem to be getting to grips with the neighbourhood. PCSOs were a product of Labour investment in neighbourhoods.
I also noticed the Tories have moved away from swingeing cuts to a slower pace nearer what dear old Gordon has been preaching. I wonder what other dodgy data they have up their sleeve. Would I trust them with the NHS or our economy? I don’t think so. Time I think for another poster.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Norton virus

This week end I had to renew the virus protection on the lap top my wife uses. The cost was 65 quid. My desk top which I have had for eight years costs £30. Well I’m a bit peeved about this but OK it does have features mine doesn’t. This is OK until I get the email confirming the order and they advise me I have signed up to have automatic renewal. This means they can tap into my bank account every year and pretty much take what they want. I’m not having this so I revoke the clause expecting them to continue warning me when renewal is due. This snotty email followed:-
“This notice is to confirm that you have elected to opt out of the automatic renewal feature for your Norton 360 subscription. As such, Symantec will not automatically renew your Norton 360 product subscription.
Your current security protection will expire in 369 days placing you at significant risk of losing the critical Internet threat protection counted on by millions of users daily.
Customers with up-to-date subscriptions automatically receive protection at no additional charge as they become available.
If you think you have received this notification in error or incorrectly cancelled the automatic renewal feature, please contact Customer Support”.

Basically I think they are saying tough luck next year mate we aint going to remind you. I think it might be time to look at the alternatives. This is not the way to treat long term loyal customers.