Geographical numbers for the AA

Buried in my AA (Automobile Association, that is…) renewal documentation, I spotted that they’ve provided land line telephone numbers as an alternative to the usual non-geographical 0800/0870 numbers, which cost extra from most mobile phones:

  • For breakdowns, the number is 0121 275 3746.
  • For membership enquiries, the number is 0161 332 1789.

Sites such as Say No To 0870 regularly publish user-submitted geographic numbers for many companies, but kudos to the AA for providing official numbers without having to jump through such hoops. Less kudos to them for taking 2 hours to tow my broken-down car, instead of the promised 45 minutes, but that’s another story.

How to do a bulk “unstar all” in Google Reader

Google Reader allows you to star articles to read later, which is handy. However, I’ve been happily starring away items since I’ve started using Reader, and have built up quite a backlog. On the advice of a friend who was horrified by this, I decided to unstar all items before a certain date. Surprisingly, Google Reader doesn’t currently give you a way to do this, besides unstarring each item individually, which isn’t much fun when you have over 500, even using the ‘s’ (star/unstar) and ‘j’ (jump to next item) keyboard shortcuts.

To automate this process, I whipped up this quick and dirty AutoHotkey script:

^!r::
Loop 600 {
Send s
Sleep 10
Send j
Sleep 10
}

As you may have worked out, this simply simulates a press of the ‘s’ key, waits ten milliseconds, simulates the ‘j’ key, waits again, then repeats the process 600 times.

The first line of the file means “do the below when the user presses Ctrl+Alt+R”.

So all I had to do was save the script, double-click the .AHK file to activate it, then click on “Starred items” with Reader, click to open the first one and press Ctrl+Alt+R to instruct the script to start rifling through your items, unstarring them one by one. Because I had slightly less than 600 starred items, I found that the script “sticks” on the last item, starring and unstarring it repeatedly until I killed the script by right-clicking the “H” icon in the taskbar and clicking Exit.

Feel free to use my script to clear down your own starred items. If you find that the script seems to miss the odd item, you may need to increase the 10 ms delay.

StuffIt Expander for Windows direct download

If you have occasion to need to extract a .SIT (StuffIt archive format for Mac) file on Windows, you’ll need to install the free, ad-supported StuffIt Expander.

The developers, Smith Micro, force you to fill out a form and sign up for email updates before sending you a download link. To save you having to do this, I’ve republished the direct download link:

http://my.smithmicro.com/downloads/files/StuffItExpander2010.exe