Trying something different

28 10 2019

I purchased a Bluprint (ex-Craftsy) class the other day when it was on sale. And decided to watch part of it yesterday and tackle the techniques shown. The class was ‘Step-by-step Photorealistic Colored Pencil Portraits’ by Karen Hull (an Aussie!). I certainly didn’t have all the materials she used, and only had drawing paper (she uses matt or bristol board), but I did have a set of standard (i.e. not watercolour) coloured pencils that I hoped had enough range of colours to do things such as skin tones. I’m a couple of chapters in, and have already made inroads into the first eye and cheek area (with freckles!).

Progress so far:





Can’t delete my OLA account

21 10 2019

Did you know you can’t delete an OLA account???? (OLA is a ride-share service in Australia/NZ [elsewhere?]; it’s like Uber but the drivers supposedly get a better cut.) (see Update dated 23 Oct below—it looks like you can do so now)

I signed up when I was in NZ, but there’s no way to delete your account if you no longer need it. Not only does OLA have my personal contact details, it also has my credit card info.

You can’t delete your account through the app, and Googling the issue told me that the only way to get deleted or ‘blocked’ was to send OLA an email (support@olacabs.com). I sent an email on 8 Oct, another on 12 Oct, and got nothing except a ‘we’re working on it’ reply. I tried again today (this time sending the email to care.australia@olacabs.com). I got another automated reply, followed by this a few minutes later:

“We would like to inform you that we cannot delete the driver’s information due to rules related to record-keeping. At this stage, we need to preserve the information and this overrides any general privacy law considerations. So do not worry as we keep the data with high safety.

We understand that this is not a resolution that you were hoping but we hope you will be able to understand our limitations in the matter and not take this as a representation of our services.”

So drivers’ info/OLA recordkeeping trumps a customer’s right to delete their account?

I responded asking for my account to be blocked, and got this (unedited):

“We can understand your worries about your account. We would like to inform you that your account will intact as it was but as you are not using it .So keep it in a safe way. We can understand that you are concern about the account but it is totally in safe hand.”

To say I’m not happy would be an understatement. I’ll now look into reporting the company to my state’s consumer affairs department or the ACCC.

Update 22 Oct 2019: After more emails with OLA support personnel, finally someone told me how to delete my credit card from the app, which was my main concern. If you need to do this:

  1. Log in to the OLA app.
  2. Under the menu, tap Payments.
  3. Tap on the credit card you want to delete.
  4. Tap the trash icon.
  5. Tap Delete.

Your account isn’t deleted (their latest email says: “we want to inform you that according to the Ola policy you have taken rides with us, deletion of your Ola account is not possible.”), but your credit card details are.

Update 23 Oct 2019: I fiddled around in the OLA settings looking to put in a temporary email account. Instead, I found a way to delete my account—I swear this wasn’t there a week or so ago! Now, whether it will actually get deleted or not, I don’t know, but when I tried to go into the app after ‘deleting’ it, it asked me to sign up, so here’s hoping. Here’s how I did it:

  1. Open the OLA app on my phone.
  2. Under the menu, tap on My Profile.
  3. Tap Data and Privacy.
  4. Tap Manage your data.
  5. Tap Delete your account.
  6. You get information about what will happen next—essentially, they don’t delete your account immediately. Instead, they deactivate it for 30 days, during which time you can sign back in. At the end of the 30 days, your account is meant to be deleted.
  7. Tap Delete my account.
  8. Confirm the deletion.

I then got an error message (‘auth failed’ or something like that). I closed the OLA app, then reopened, at which point I was asked to sign up again, and offering to sign me up with my previous credentials. So it looks like my account is now deactivated. I’ll set a reminder to check again in 30 days…





If only chemistry was this interesting when I was at school

11 10 2019

My last two days’ of classes at the Quilt Symposium in Auckland were held in the chemistry lab at St Cuthbert’s School (the venue for the entire Symposium). We were surrounded with inspirational sayings, women role models, soft toys (I’m still not sure why they were there), and chemistry info sheets that were fascinating because they pertained to the real world.

If chemistry had been like this when I was at school I may well have continued on that path into university. Alas, chemistry in my day was dry, dull, and not at all relevant to ANYTHING as far as I could tell.

Here’s a small sample of some of the stuff that surrounded us in this chemistry lab.





Heating a sandwich when you don’t have a sandwich press

11 10 2019

At the Quilt Symposium in Auckland, NZ, last week, ‘brown bag’ lunches were provided. For most of the classes I was in, we got sandwiches, which were pretty fresh. But on the last day, we got stodgy rolls, which were dense, slightly stale, and really only suitable for toasting in a sandwich/cafe press. So what do you do when you don’t have such an appliance? You improvise!

We used both baking paper (a staple for any quilters who do fusible applique) and brown paper bags to protect the irons, and the end result was slightly toasted bread—toasted enough to make these rolls far more palatable. We didn’t apply heat long enough for the heat to get all the way through, but it was enough to take away some of the stodginess! MacGyver would be proud!





A bit of a rant

10 11 2018

What is it with people and large events? Do they have NO awareness of anyone else but themselves? Yes, this is a bit of a rant, based on my experience in the vendor mall at the Houston International Quilt Festival. Let me count the ways….

  • People stopping in the middle of the aisle for no apparent reason. They just stop. And you walk into them. Move to the side if you need to answer you phone, respond to a text message etc.
  • A group of friends wandering about together — one stops to look at one thing, while two booths ahead are the others who now stop and wonder “Where’s Katie?” with them both turning around and half heading back or wandering about. Here’s a tip: If you go to an event such as this with friends, it’s very likely you’ll have different things that attract you and that you want to look at. So why not say “Let’s meet back at xx place at xx time” and go off by yourselves. You’ll still meet with your friends, and because you haven’t been in each others’ pockets, you’ll have things to share instead of resentment that Susan wanted to look at all the bead things, while Jane wanted to look at fabric, and you wanted to look at machines, yet you all had to spend time on each others’ interests when you couldn’t care less. It’s really not that hard to agree to meet somewhere at a specified time.
  • Meandering — yes, an event such as this has hundreds of booths, with lots of new shiny things to look at. Before you wander across the traffic, LOOK at the traffic and pick your moment to cross. Wandering aimlessly from side to side really annoys your fellow shoppers.
  • Scooters and walkers — many people have to use these for mobility reasons and know how to handle them. But at an event like this, there is a scooter (gopher) hire place and as far as I know ANYONE can hire one, whether they need it or not. And they MIGHT get a 5-minute lesson in how to operate it. The end result is LOTS of scooters with clueless drivers who run into people walking. Add in the meandering thing above, and you have a recipe for disaster. And it’s poor form to use your scooter to get into some events early, like I saw one woman do on Tuesday night. She aggressively pushed and shoved her scooter to the front of the line for Winners’ Circle, then the next day I saw her walk off the escalator and walk to her classroom — no scooter required now!

End of rant.





Solar PV system not working as it should

16 08 2018

For most of this year, my renewable energy rebates have been way down. When I compared this year’s billing to previous years’ rebates for the same billing periods, there was a noticeable drop-off. For example, from Nov 2017 to Jan 2018, the system fed some 800 renewable units back into the grid. From Jan to Mar 2018, a period of perfect, mild, sunny, summer weather, it fed only 79 units into the grid, compared to Jan to Mar 2017, when it fed 500 units in, and Jan to Mar 2016 when it fed back 408 units. The same pattern occurred over the billing cycles for the first half of this year — the feed-in units were down substantially, and we hadn’t changed our electricity use.

I called my solar PV people to see if there might be a reason for this big drop. On their advice I checked the overall output from the system, which was a tad down on the average, but not enough to be significant. We decided to wait another billing cycle and see if there was any change. When the latest bill arrived, it was clear that something was up. Instead of the usual 100 or so feed-in units over May to Jun (winter months), it was zero. Nada. Nothing.

I decided to take two measurements at the same time over two consecutive days of similar weather. And it was then I noticed that something wasn’t right with some of the figures displayed on the inverter. In particular, the PIN 1 and PIN 2 figures. When the system was installed, I was told that the PIN figures were the ones to focus on as they told me how much electricity the system was producing at any moment in time. The PIN figures have always been slightly different, but always within 50 or so of each other.

However, when I checked on these two days, the PINs were way out. For example:

Normally, these figures should be about the same. Instead, they differed by more than 1500 units. The same for the next day.

I got back on the phone to the solar PV people and sent them the photos I’d taken of all the displayed information on the inverter, and my concern about the wildly varying PIN numbers. Yep, something was up. They organised for a local solar guy to come out and check the system, particularly the arrays on the roof. And it was there that he found the reason. One of the two isolators (one for each array) was full of condensation, what looked to be salt (we live near the ocean), and some rusty grungy stuff. No wonder it wasn’t working! (click the photo to see it larger, with all the water drips on the top and back, and the salt particles on the dry surfaces)

Yesterday, he came out and replaced both isolators (I figure if one was like this after 5 years, the other might not be good either, even though he said it was fine and still well sealed). The new isolators have better weather protection (a new standard brought in since we had our system installed 5 years ago), so here’s hoping the problem has been solved for good.

When he’d finished, I checked the inverter display and both PINs were back to being within a few units of each other. Problem solved!





May storms

27 06 2018

I’ve been a bit lax writing new blog posts and putting up recent photos.

A month ago (around 25 May) we had a big storm front come through, finally heralding winter after a very long mild autumn. The black swans that normally float serenely on the very calm estuary were tossed around on the wind-driven waves, and I saw a bunch of them huddled on the shore on my drive home from town. The writhing black mass of them reminded me of tadpoles in a small puddle struggling to survive.

There was a high tide combined with the strong winds, too, so water inundated places where it doesn’t normally go.

 

A few days later, after it had all calmed down, the swans were back doing what they do. This group were bunched around a stormwater channel that spills into the estuary from the paddocks on the other side of the road. Obviously, they found something good to eat there, but they swam away quickly when they heard me get of the car to take their picture.