Barclays Credit Madness

Tuesday 1522hrs

Yesterday my girlfriend went into Barclays Bank to try and get her almost-useless VISA Electron card switched over to a VISA Debit card. For people in the UK who know, the Visa Electron is about as useful as a 1923 issue Deutschmark note. In fact marginally less, as at least you could still use one of those to wipe your arse. (Though plastic cards are useful for spreading thermal compound around and, rumour has it, grouting.)

The upshot of the affair was this. My girlfriend could not have a VISA Debit card because her credit rating does not exist. She can, however, have a BarclayCard Credit Card with a £2500 limit. If she uses the credit card to build up some credit rating she can then apply for the debit card.

Hands up who sees the issue we had with this?

They won’t give a debit card to someone who has no credit record, but they’ll happily throw you a two and a half grand creditcard your way. Errr, hello? This I don’t understand. Surely your credit rating doesn’t matter if you’re using a debit card as you can only spend the money you already have anyway!

Barclays are idiots and I think this only goes to show how hopelessly lost in “Credit Card Culture” the UK has become. Gah.

Total cop out

Tuesday 0014hrs

I’ve totally failled to keep the pictures regularly updated. I’m so hopeless.

My stats showed 1,800 unique hits today, which I thought odd. I’m going to install AWStats at some point this week to find out what’s going on, as I really can’t believe that many people would be passing through here. Something must be up with BBClone.

As for the photo updates… Apologies :( I’m going to try, really I am, but for some reason things keep distracting me from posting, it’s not like it’s a hard job to post one either. Gah, so damn hopeless.

Realtime HDRI

Friday 1627hrs

Some input from a friend of mine (Thanks Rob) got me to this page on Realitime HDRI.

For those of you not in the know, HDRI stands for High Dynamic Range Imaging, and a much more verbose explaination that I can give you can be found here

I picked up on something from an EMail newsletter I’m on and tracked back to this article at Slashdot.

The thing that boils my blood is Microsoft’s statement:

“an excess in freedom of speech and freedom of thought, by means of the dissemination of information.”

What the HELL (Sorry young readers, but I’m really mad) is that supposed to mean? The American Police State is out of control. Who are they to try and push for legal action against someone who decides that they don’t want to pay through the nose for some software?
Illegal to use it without paying, I can follow.
Illegal to annnounce you’re going to use Linux instead? Jeebers.

They are, of course, trying to dress the lawsuit up as a libel action, saying that Sergio Amadeu likened them to drug dealers and “oh mommy it hurt us”, but what I really think they’re trying to do is clamp down hard and fast before public acts of large-scale Microsoft Bashing really do start to make an impact.

Mr Sergio Amadeu was bang on the money and his decision is one I hope the rest of the developing nations will follow. I just hope he isn’t intimidated by the legal move against him, or is assasinated in a “car accident” and replaced with a Microsoft-Bought lackey.

One wonders if I’ll get a letter from Microsoft about this blog post, for an “excess of free speech” on my part. Facists.

Biometric Handbags at Dawn

Tuesday 1602hrs

Quick one from the BBC here, with a fingerprint reader added to a handbag.

Surely any street thief will see to defeat this doesn’t require a Charlie’s Angels level of complexity? Perhaps it can also only be compromised with a biometric Stanley knife or DNA sensitive scissors?

I’m being too cynical for my own good.

Don’t worry about the post title, I’m just seeing if Google picks me up.

Mobile phones have wrecked peoples’ ability to co-ordinate a plan. It is true. 10 years ago when I was riding around on a wee BMX, no more than 1 phonecall to each friend was required to bring them, without fail, to the designated meeting point for whatever reason. Try the same thing tomorrow and you’ll have consumed £5 in phone credit before everyone has even agreed to go in the first place and that’s before people actually get underway.

Admit it, you’ve been there. You call, you get a maybe, they’ll “text” you back (Oh my how I hate that turn of phrase…), you get a message a little while later saying “Sure, where?”. You call or “text” them to give them the details. This continues until all parties have been notified.
Shortly before you depart yourself you will have dealt with several calls confirming the location, that someone can’t make it even though they said they could, someone can’t come as they’ve had a better offer and someone has forgotten if it was this Tuesday or next week. Oh and you get a wrong number from Romania and a robot voice promising that you’ve won “One of the following great prizes”.

En route to the destination more calls flood in though you’re not sure why and upon arriving, half of the people are late, some are lost, some turn up next Tuesday and there’s a Romanian at the restaurant who’s voice you swear blind you recognise.

Why? I have reason to believe it’s got something to do with how humans respond to pressure and deadlines. See, if the first phonecall is your last and from that point on you have no way of contacting the organiser, then the details become concrete. Only if something disasterous happens will you seek further contact with the guy organising the event. However, the ubiquitous nature of the mobile means that you think in the back of your mind that you can get hold of the guy instantly, regardless, so there is no motivation to remember the details and also, to stick to them. You’re running late? Just call, it’ll be OK. Can’t remember where you’re meeting? No worries, just “text” them. Etc etc etc.

I wonder how far things will have to go before people other than me start to find this annoying ? Maybe they won’t, maybe most people will begin to accept that a simple trip to the cinema should require 4 phonecalls, 3 SMS messages and a 2 hour meeting window? My mobile only receives calls, I’m too cheap to put credit on it, perhaps this is why I’m not taking the slide into the disorganised world of the mobile masses. My aim is to remain punctual, afterall, I am British 😉

WordPress 1.2

Wednesday 1332hrs

You may or may not know that I used WordPress to power the blog section of my site. I use 1.0.1 which is now old and cranky. Version 1.2 has been released but I’m in the middle of re-writing my gallery backend so won’t be upgrading for a few weeks until the gallery is finished. When I finally do upgrade, expect things not to work for another good few weeks whilst I hack and tweak things back to normal and then and only then will I re-code the Amazon Media Manager to work with WP1.2.

I’m just about to start investigating WP1.2 offline, though I heard 1.3 is in the pipeline and will be another major update, so I may skip 1.2 all together if I’m too slow getting round to the upgrade.

Another 60 days

Tuesday 0916hrs

Some of you may recall the rather bizarre phonecall that prompted me to count out 60 days of my existence. Well, it expired little over 48 hours ago if my timing is right and lo, last night, I get another call from the same agency asking me if I wished to participate in a free 60 day free insurance scheme, this time to cover private medical insurance covering cancer, organ faliure, heart disease and a multitude of other nasties.

I kindly informed the lady on the telephone, who was awfully friendly, that I had begun to suspect that someone, somewhere, has designs on my wellbeing and attractive though the offer sounded, I wasn’t interested because after the 60 days I would be unable to afford to pay for the coverplan anyway.

So ladies and gentlemen, start your clocks and countdowns, I have another 60 days to survive.