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British Expat Newsletter:
20 August 2008

Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.

In this issue

  • This week: Bingely-bingely-beep!
  • Virtual Snacks
  • Bizarre Searches
  • Quotation and joke

This week

I expect many of you are like us in having downloaded sound files which alert you to the fact you’ve received email messages. Mine is a Father Ted clip where Ted exclaims irritably, “Bloody Hell!” and Father Dougal chirpily replies, “Good news, Ted?” I never tire of the joke, especially since I often think like Father Ted when I receive yet more emails. Despite having deleted the spam, I still have around 3,000 unread emails in my in-box to get through. It’s hard to keep up with everything sometimes.

Dave’s email alert is Terry Pratchett saying, “Bingely-bingely-beep!” This originates in Pratchett’s fantasy Discworld® books where one of the characters, Commander Vimes of the City Watch, has been given a personal Disorganiser (not organiser) by his wife. This gadget is operated by a tiny demon who says “Bingely-bingely-beep!” every time he has a message for Vimes. Vimes hates the thing and would rather store information in his notebook.

This got me thinking: how organised do you need to be in the first place to use a personal organiser?

First of all, you need to learn how to use the thing. Someone once said that you should never trust any technology that weighs less than the accompanying manual of instructions. I heartily agree. If it’s not user-friendly enough for me to be able to work it all out without having to read more than a page or so, let alone a weighty tome that seems to have about the equivalent of a Haynes manual for every function, then I don’t want to know.

If technology’s supposed to free up your time for other things, then surely it should be designed so that you don’t spend half your life working out how to use it. Mobile phones these days seem to come with so many different functions that I can’t see how people ever manage to find a use for them all. (Not all of us have handy five-year-old nephews and nieces to tell us which buttons to push, you know.) And that goes all the more for PDAs and smartphones.

Even if you’ve got the perseverance to master all that, then you’ve still got to be organised enough to input the relevant data. That’s all very well if your organiser is compatible with your computer and you can share contacts and appointments between the two machines. But it takes so much time to import data from business cards, letterheads or pieces of paper into electronic storage. So unless you’re senior enough in your company to have a personal assistant, then the chances are that you’ll never find the time to do it. (And of course if you have a PA, then what do you need an organiser for anyway?)

And then on top of all that you’ve got the technological risks that are the flip side of the opportunities. What if you’re on the move and your battery runs out? Or someone steals your organiser and you haven’t had the chance to back up your data? Or the software fails and your alarm fails to go off, causing you to miss a vital appointment?

It seems like a lot of hassle to me and I doubt if I’d be organised enough to use it. Give me a good old notebook any time…

Do you have anything to say about this topic? Or do you have some suggestions for other issues we might discuss in our weekly email? Why not comment and tell us?

Virtual Snacks

Just a few suggestions if you have a little time to spare:

John Honniball’s page, Old Sad Things, is a collection of loads of outdated electronical gizmos which seemed like wizardry in their day but are a bit past it now. From old personal organisers to Video 2000 machines, with more than a sprinkling of brick-shaped mobile phones and 8-track players…

Perhaps not surprisingly it was too difficult to find interesting sites about personal organisers (though needless to say there were plenty trying to flog them). There are plenty of websites offering free tips via about how to get organised. I did try signing up for one, but unfortunately that has only added to the quagmire that my in-box has become. Instead of a collection of on-topic snacks this week here are a couple of things which you may find interesting.

Here’s a series of icons representing East and West and the artist’s perceived differences in culture. We think it’s rather perceptive.

And now for something completely different. Here’s a collection of fancy dress costumes for dogs and cats. Urghh!

Bizarre Searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

  • where is the most pleasure for men
  • did you know that salt has been used instead of money?
  • scopping sex
  • palika bizarre delhi
  • how do crabs excrete
  • sredni vashtar point of view
  • 2008 @yahoo totally in uganda guestbook in mohammed email address
  • to piddle
  • view of having a baby
  • pope seat polish airlines

Till next time…
Happy surfing!

Kay & Dave
Editor & Deputy Editor
British Expat Magazine


“Computers make a lot of things easier to do, but most of the things they make it easier to do don’t need to be done.”

– Andy Rooney, US writer, broadcaster and humorist (1919- )


ID ten T

Marsh, the head of admin and a notorious technophobe, was stuck yet again with his computer. So he called Barry, the computer guy, over to his office. Barry clicked a couple of buttons and solved the problem within seconds.

As he was walking away, Marsh called after him, “So what was wrong?”

And he replied, “It was an ID ten T error.”

A puzzled expression ran riot over Marsh’s face. “An ID ten T error? What’s that … in case I need to fix it again??”

Barry gave him a grin. “Haven’t you ever heard of an ID ten T error before?”

“No,” replied Marsh.

“Write it down,” Barry said, “and I think you’ll figure it out.”

[Hint: if you haven’t worked it out, try writing the “ten” in figures.]

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