Category Archives: Life

Some insurers just can’t take a hint

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Don’t you get it, Direct Line? I’m through insuring my car with you.

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Seriously: shop around for your car insurance

The insurance renewal for our main car (a 2005 Saab 9-5 estate) came through yesterday. I was about to pick up the phone and renew when I was struck that the premium seemed higher than I expected – £823.62 for the year (plus the extra 10% they charge you for paying monthly instead of up front). Sure enough, when I checked last year’s renewal, I found it had been only £569.22. So they’d tried to slip a 45% increase past us.

The insurance company in question, in case you want to know to avoid them, was Direct Line.

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The Once and Future King on compromise and disillusionment in middle age

This is from T. H. White’s absolutely brilliant book The Once and Future King – Book III (The Ill-made Knight), chapter XII (page 374 in my edition):

There is a thing called knowledge of the world, which people do not have until they are middle-aged. It is something which cannot be taught to younger people, because it is not logical and does not obey laws which are constant. It has no rules. Only, in the long years which bring women to the middle of life, a sense of balance develops. You can’t teach a baby to walk by explaining the matter to her logically — she has to learn the strange poise of walking by experience. In some way like that, you cannot teach a young woman to have knowledge of the world. She has to be left to the experience of the years. Continue reading

My response to the Privacy and Security inquiry

I found out only today that The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament is soliciting evidence for its Privacy and Security Inquiry. As this is one of the most important issues facing the UK at the moment, I made time to write a response, and if you’re British then I encourage you to do so as well. See also this excellent response from Glyn Moody.

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Saying goodbye to Twitter

I’ve been on Twitter for a couple of years now, first as @SauropodMike and more recently as @MikeTaylor. I have to admit, it’s hugely surpassed my expectations. I thought it was a medium for the trivial, but instead I’ve found a wealth of pithy observations, witty asides and links to all sorts of fascinating longer reads.

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So now I’m leaving it.

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What should I be using for email?

Since June 2009 I’ve been using Gmail for my email, and I have to admit it’s been great. Really convenient, excellent searching facilities, available from anywhere. In terms of ease of use it’s a huge step forward from my old approach, using GNU Emacs’s “vm” package and manually syncing mailboxes between my desktop and laptop as necessary.

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Answering 25 tough interview questions, part 5

And so we come to the fifth and final part of this resoundingly unpopular series on interview questions (from here). Oh well: I’ve enjoyed writing it, even if no-one’s enjoyed reading it! [part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4]. That that’s the point of a blog, really, isn’t it?

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Off we go, for the last time …

21. “Who is your biggest hero?” – Asked at De La Rue.

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Answering 25 tough interview questions, part 4

… Ploughing on through those 25 interview questions. Why am I doing this? In a comment on the last post, jwerpy correctly noted that “Not a single one of these questions provides any insight into [...] why hiring you will improve the company and make it more successful”. But that’s only one application of such questions, and not the one that interests me. I think of them more as mental stretching exercises, and as ways of finding out what I think by seeing what I say (as E. M. Forster had it).

See also part 1, part 2 and part 3.

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16. “What do you mean by ‘leadership’?” – Asked at Moody’s.

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Answering 25 tough interview questions, part 3

No-one really seems to care about this series (seven comments on part 1, none at all on part 2) but I’m finding them a pleasant diversion so I am ploughing on anyway. Original questions from here.

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11. “What have you done in the past to get out of a tricky situation?” – Asked at Virgin Atlantic Airways.

“The best defence against an atomic bomb is to not be there when it goes off” — attributed to the British Army Journal.
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Answering 25 tough interview questions, part 2

Here are the next five of those 25 tough interview questions that I mentioned last time. With my answers. Again, I encourage you to add your own.

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6. “If you were the Head of Barclays Corporate what would your strategy be with the recent European Crisis?” – Asked at Barclays.

Oh dear, this is miserable beginning I know nothing about finance and next to nothing about economics.

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