Very few things are as annoying as wading through a number of automated menus looking for the right part of a megaglobalcorp to speak to - especially if you have an unusual request to make and know it's going to require actually speaking to someone to sort it out.

This is a subject many people have written about before, but I've had a couple of experiences recently that made me realise a compilation of known techniques might be useful. So, here they are:

  1. In the UK there websites that list known landline numbers to companies. The biggest is Say no to 0870 and, in addition to avoiding 08 number fees this should get you through to a human.
  2. I recently got so annoyed on one of these lines I shouted "get me a f&*^ing human" out of sheer frustration. I was then immediately connected to an operator. It turns out that swearing and stress level monitors are common, so as long as you're not in an open plan office, this is worth a try.
  3. Finally entering your initial login / account number, date of birth information incorectly can often shortcut you to an operator. This worked most pleasingly on VanCity's shockingly poor Reloadable visa card customer services line, where I would otherwise have been charged one dollar for connection. Win-win.

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I buy gizmos. I also buy gadgets. I've been known to purchase a widget. In short when I see some little impediment to the smooth running of some part of my life I often turn to technology, usually via eBay.

Sometimes these purchases are whack, but sometimes they're great, and in a spirit of positivity it's the latter I've decided to start sharing on this blog, so welcome to the first in an occasional series about good gizmos.

Today's gizmo

I've mentioned before how USB rules the school but sadly my old Toshiba tablet only has a couple of ports, leaving me plugging and unplugging stuff all the time, and particularly stuffed when using my 2 port USB powered DVD player (itself a good gizmo).

I guess from the self-explanatory title you can see where this is going: After a short hunt on ebay it's now filled with a flush, driverless 2 USB port card, for less than £10 all in.

Problem solved.

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