Come flush with us!

… or the story of our two-week vacation in Madrid. 

So, in between the jobs we thought it’d be nice for me (Jan) to go to Madrid for a two-week stay. We looked online, found a nice place with Rent4Days: a loft located close to Ciudad Lineal, some metro stops, in short: nearly ideal. The pics on the site also make you believe it’s lovely. It would also be overlooking a park, which is great – nature always is very relaxing. It also says it sleeps 7, so it’s gotta be big. Nice!

Diana did some initial shopping the day before, and on the first day we headed over to the place. We were a bit dissapointed, since it was actually more of a store that had been ‘reformed’ into an appartment. (reformed being a key word here). Oh, and it wasn’t really overlooking a park either – you had to get outside, walk a block, and then there’s the park. Ah well, as long as it’s nice, quiet, cosy…

Boy, were we wrong about this one.

Here’s a list of problems with the thing:

Overall problems:

  1. The place is _cold_. Both physically cold, and not cosy at all. It lacks furniture, posters, … anything on the bare walls to make it cosy. We had to put on the heating, while it was 25ºC outside.
  2. You get to enjoy the sounds of your neighbours peeing, taking a shower,… since every time they flush, or do anything with water, it sounds as if the ceiling is going to collapse. Not fun.
  3. Light. I like light by day. I hate it by night. The curtains (if you can call those pieces of fabric curtains) that were there were utter, total, complete, mega crap. They let through 99,9% of the light.
    They weren’t even long enoug! The bottom part was hung from the curtains using pins… (not even sewn on)
  4. Noise. NOISE. NOISE! You hear everything, the smallest movement someone makes in the other appartments, you’re part of it, you can follow it, it’s all yours!

Bathroom problems:

  1. The bathroom has a leak, from the upstairs neighbours. We reported this, no one came to look or even bothered to call us back.
  2. The shower is useless – it’s got a 5cm deep basin, and the drain is crap, so if you shower, you flood the bathroom.
  3. Again on the shower, don’t use it. It will break. We had to buy a new shower tube because it broke, and we didn’t want to cough up 50e or more (standard fee by Rent4Days, it costs maybe 8e if you buy it in a shop)

Kitchen problems:

  1. If you dare use the washing machine (good luck without the instructions), and spin stuff, don’t be amazed when the kitchen cabinet falls apart.
  2. The sink is placed in a way that you can never stand completely behind it, unless you’re a plank. Wonderful.
  3. There are no cabinets. Don’t even think of storing anything – there is NO room.
  4. This place is supposed to sleep 7, but forget about eating or drinking with 7. Not enough dishes/glasses/cutlery! You can even forget about cooking for seven! The biggest pot is about 3l.

Bedroom:

  1. This is supposed to be a double bed. It is 120cm wide, the width of a double bed about 30 years ago. Good luck trying to sleep in that with 2 people.

So after about 6 sleepless nights, we moved back into Diana’s place (which is tiny and with four definitely over-populated), and called the people of Rent4Days to explain the situation, and to tell them that their offer was below anything possible. What did they tell us? “You are the first persons to complain”. On the remark that this place does not overlook a park, they said “We know the area, it overlooks a park.” Sorry, it overlooks a GARAGE. Not a park. Not even remotely.

We took some pics so you can compare them with the things on their site.

So really, if you’re looking for something – stay away from Rent4Days. They’re crap. Expensive service that offers cheap crap.

To make a long story short, the rest of the days we spent at Diana’s place, and we didn’t really do much. The six sleepless nights were enough to drain our energy.

We did throw a party there, for our friends – even though it wasn’t allowed. Sorry, but after all this they deserve a very big screw you. It was fun, we played Killer Bunnies (having to explain everything to Diana and then she had to translate it into spanish… what a mess *g*). We had loads of food, brought by our friends and cooked by us, we also had booze! (sangria and sweet wine), and since it was the last Formula 1 sunday, the tv was on. It was great fun.

Work – the neverending story

Well,

I wrote earlier that I was going to start with CTG, that story has gone a bit awry.

During my 2-week vacation in Spain (more about that here) I was contacted by KBC and they made me a proposal which I accepted. So, I’m going to work at a bank, for a bank! Scary! :p (damn, I’m going to get all mature and old….)

Proxy settings for Brussels Airlines lounge in Brussels airport

Just in case you ever find yourself in the Brussels Airlines VIP lounge (in Brussels Airport), and you want to do something besides using IE on their internet pc’s, here are the proxy settings (that you can use in eg. putty). I had to find a way to open a command box to get to the settings, but in the end I managed.

HTTP Proxy: 193.108.215.75
Proxy Port: 8080

;)

GPRS/3G connections using Mac OS X

Here’s a simple howto to get your Mac internet-connected using GPRS/3G on your bluetooth-equipped phone. I’ve only tested this with my Motorola V3 and Vodafone (Spain), so no guarantees about the other providers, but the main part should be the same.

First, let’s prepare:

  1. download the necessary Modem scripts from http://home2.btconnect.com/Taniwha/. Decompress the StuffIt! file (eg. with The Unarchiver) and copy the files into /Library/Modem Scripts.
  2. check your operator’s settings on this page (for Vodafone, it lists user/password: vodafone/vodafone, and APN airtelnet.es).

Now, set your phone to be detectable, and pair it with the Mac:

  1. Go to System Preferences, Bluetooth, and use ‘Set Up New Device…’. Follow the wizard, and make sure to select ‘Use a direct, higher speed connection to reach your Internet Service Provider (GPRS, 1xRTT)’.
  2. Set the Username and Password as found above (for Vodafone.es: vodafone/vodafone)
  3. Set the GPRS CID string to the APN found above (for Vodafone.es: airtelnet.es)
  4. Select the correct Modem Script for your phone. I used Motorola GPRS CID1
  5. Check ‘Show Bluetooth status’ and ‘Show modem status’.

That’s it. Now you should be able to connect, starting ‘Internet Connect’ and clicking on Connect.

iPhone rant

Really. What’s up with iPhone owners these days? They buy an overpriced piece of equipment, knowing:

  • it’s SIM-locked
  • it’s a closed platform, no 3rd party apps
  • it’s SIM-locked
  • you can’t change the battery yourself
  • did I say it’s SIM-locked?
  • Apple tells them they might void their warranty when modifying the iPhone
  • it’s still SIM-locked. To AT&T.

So, looks like they’ve been warned. But they don’t care, go ahead, and after a while the necessary unlock programs were created (kudos to the devteams who did this, it’s a nice feat of engineering), and iPhones where unlocked, new 3rd party applications were created, the works. Nice.

Next up, Apple comes with a firmware update. Tells people that this might brick their hacked iPhones. Do people heed the warning given by Apple? Nope, they flash anyway, and then loudly complain that their iPhone has become a very expensive paperweight (this can luckely and easily be remedied, it seems).

And then they want to go ahead and sue Apple over it. Really. Get a grip! You bought the piece of hardware which was locked, in more than one way, and you yourself decided to crack it wide open. Though luck than if it breaks – you get to keep all the pieces!

If you wanted to tinker with it, buy a phone with a platform that is open.

EDIT: I’ve stumbled over this blog entry which makes the point nicely.