Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Plain English

After being asked not to hesitate with comments/criticisms of our new work website, a colleague and I decided that we would speak up for plain English:

I think the following sentence has a couple of pluralisation inconsistencies:

xxx group provides local authorities with (the) ultimate software solution(s) that deliver(s) on the promise of seamless integration and automation from citizen interface(s) to document storage.

But it's still quite long and indecipherable. The following seems to make more sense:

xxx group provides local authorities with software which delivers seamless integration and automation from user interfaces through to document storage.

Cheers, Jamie
The next day I checked the website and they'd used our wording verbatim!

Monday, December 29, 2008


Crazy Prices III received a letter from my GP practice the other day requesting that I provide proof of my address as I had yet to do so. I rang today asking if receiving the letter was proof enough. The receptionist failed to see the hilarious irony of the situation, perhaps due to having to work on the 29th December and speak to idiots ringing up and taking the piss.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mardy Old Bumhead

Laura MarlingCall me a mardy old bumhead (I am nearing 30 after all), but I when I go to see the beautiful sounding (and looking:) Laura Marling I do not want to have to listen to three kids discussing their disappointing drugs score, nor the rest of the audience singing over the top of her. I did not come here to listen to you lot sing! That coupled with the fact she only played three or four songs and the high quality of the other seven or so bands on the Fee Fie Foe Fum line-up made her a bit of a low-light :(

In other news:

I didn't realise just how many Americans are in prison, 1% of the adult population! As stated in a boing boing article on a death row prisoner. An interesting point is made that the population has risen from "normal" to world record beating levels in just the last thirty years.

Continuing my thoughts on the evening up of prices here and abroad, hopefully we might be hearing less of the cries of "rip off Britain!" Though of course those cries will be replaced by complaints about not being able to afford so much while on holiday and that their dear old aunt can no longer afford a choritzo in her local Spanish supermarket on her quickly devaluing UK pension. Still, if she's bought the house she'll be quids in.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Around The Houses

Geeking at StandingsBack in September I bought my sister an Asus Eee PC for her birthday. It's not the absolute wonder that I was hoping, but she seems happy enough with it, once I'd got the flickr uploader working, which was a pain to add to the launcher, but I digress. The keyboard is now quite properly faulty, the s key and space bar work intermittently and the tab key doesn't work at all, though I am pretty sure she won't have noticed that one :) So I head on over to ebuyer to see about returning it, find their online form and fill it in. After going through the whole process it then gave me a number to call ebuyer on. Fine, I call the number. A guy picks up quite quickly, but informs me that Asus deal with returns direct, so gives me their number. I call them, and navigate their telephone menu. I speak to a woman. She tells me that I will need to fill in their online returns form. I have the Eee on my lap, ready to read the serial number as instructed by the ebuyer guy. I try to type in the address, but unfortunately it has the letter s in it. If you want to return your Eee, save yourself some time and money in 087 numbers by going directly to http://uk.asus.com/rma.

Monday, December 15, 2008

What I Made Last Night

dsc_0002Aloo Parathas So good and so simple! They were better than the naan I think, which seemed more of an effort to make. Although the deficiency might have been to do with the difficulties of cooking without a tandoor. My colleauge Shivas tells me that if parathas don't contain gee then they're not parathas, but I suppose that's what you get from using a vegan site. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures, hence the empty glasses.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What I Heard Last Night

Radio 4's Friday Play last night was an adaptation of Eliot Weinberger's essay What I Heard About Iraq, which I'd not heard of before, despite apparently being famous on the net. It's the story of the Iraq war, told almost entirely through quotations. Worth a read, or listen. I'm sure I don't need to mention though, it's neither a light nor a quick read/listen.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


In my previous post about overseas ebay prices now being in-line with retailer prices I failed to mention the most obvious candidate: the devaluation of the pound. I can only assume that the lack of comments to this effect means that no one reads my blog.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

eBay Prices

The MonsterA few years ago by buying goods on eBay from places like Hong Kong you could make pretty big savings, less if you ended up having to pay tax. Now though that doesn't seem to be the case, I don't know whether the sellers have realised that eBay buyers will pay stupid money for stuff, traditional retailers have realised that they need to reduce their prices or the taxation laws and enforcement has been tightened up. For example, back when I bought my D70s, 18-200mm and SB-600 I think I made about 20% saving by buying from overseas (although at the time I don't think you could get the 18-200mm anywhere else). Now I am looking at getting a D90, SB-400 and 20mm lens there seems to be practically zero saving by buying overseas.

This is turning into a bit of an ebay blog :-/

I still have 7 posts to go to keep up with previous years. That's one post every three days.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Save Me

Small ChangeI've never really had enough money to warrant opening a savings account. Now that I have I am considering the options, and it still doesn't seem worth it. A good rate on a savings account is say 6%, or £60 per £1000 per year. I'm not proud of the fact, but I went out last night and spent nearly £60. I could just not go out once a night per year for every £1000 I have and save nearly the same amount. It just doesn't seem worth the bother. And now that we all know that the banks aren't infallible it might be safer under my mattress. Note to thieves: It's not actually under my mattress.

Of course the closer we get to a zero interest economy the less motivation there will be to save. My house mate and I wondered what the position would be under a negative interest economy, where you get paid to borrow and penalised for saving. Every year you borrow your debt would go down, you would get paid less each year and your house would devalue with your mortgage.

I don't understand why the government is still trying to encourage banks to lend, surely that is what got us in this mess in the first place, if you ask me the best thing they could do would be to bring back student grants and get rid of student loans, which set people up for a life of debt and tell them that borrowing is a fine and normal thing to do.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Jolly Decent Behaviour

It looks like O2 didn't make a mistake with my bill (apart from making it the most confusing bill ever), it seems that they have automatically assigned me the free web bolt-on that is currently being offered to new customers and usually costs me £7.50 a month. I wouldn't have noticed if they'd not given me anything, or even just given me the free O2 to O2 call bolt-on. I have been considering going over to Orange for the HTC Touch HD, but as I now apparently pay £20 a month for 600 minutes and unlimited texts and data on a 30 day contract it would be a bit silly.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Beware The 070 Number

Having received the following in reply to my bike ad and exchanging a couple more emails I eventually called the number, what harm can it do I thought?
My Name is Mr Frank Moore am an Australian based in Hawthorn Terrace DURHAM UNITED KINGDOM.I saw your advert that you have a bike for sale am interested in buying the bike from you i will like to know the mechanical history bike.I can't download the pictures from the site kindly furnish me with more picture's of the bike so that i can have a view and make up my mind on it.Am buying the bike for my Son as a birthday gift and my Son his presently in South Africa practicing as a Medical Doctor.you can ring me on 07031856882 or email:moore.fm@gmail.com. Regards Frank
Well it turns out that 070 numbers are not mobile numbers, they're "personal" numbers, that can cost up to 50p a minute. I wish I'd googled for that particular number earlier, having found this, which sounds strangely familiar:
My Name is Mr Dennis Wilson am an Swedish based in DURHAM UNITED KINGDOM.I saw your advert on internet that you have a pup for sale am interested in buying the pup from you i will like to know the health condition of the pup,Is the pet KC registered?furnish me with more picture's of the pup so that i can make up my mind on it as am buying the pup for my Son as a birthday gift and my Son his presently in South Africa practicing as a Medical Doctor.you can ring me on 07031856882 or email:dw.wilson007@gmail.com. Regards Dennis

Monday, November 24, 2008

Recommended Listening

Radio 4 schedules its comedies at 6:30 weekday evenings. Usually the best are on Monday and Friday (The Now Show, The News Quiz, Just a Minute) while the midweek shows are decidedly mixed. Some of the less humorous examples include the occasionally amusing Milton Jones, a large collection of one liners loosely connected by some absurd plot; the baffling, as in, why/how the hell did that get on air? Count Arthur Strong, a series of gags relating to an old man's mishearing, with predictably non-hilarious results; and those that are so banal that they merge into each other: Hut 33; Double Science; Clare in the Community; Fags, Mags And Bags; etc. But now Radio 4 have rebelled, putting the last series of literary quiz show (boring!) The Write Stuff on Mondays, followed by the new series of Milton Jones, while leaving the genuinely funny Listen Against to Tuesdays. So that's my recommendation, sorry it took so long. While I'm here I might as well say that Screenwipe is the best program on TV at the moment.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


After calling Virgin Media again about the junk mail and listening to somebody verbally lead me through the process of removing our multiple addresses from their database I really thought I'd got through to them, but unfortunately it seems not. I rang them again today, our address was not in their database apparently, so now it is, with a note for them not to mail us. She recommended the Mail Preference Service to me, which we have been members of for sometime now.

The latest FStream update that allows it continue playing when the iPhone sleeps has stopped the even flaky functioning on the 3G network :( It still works for some of my friends so double :((

Following a suggestion on the ADSL Guide forums I filed a complaint with ISPA on behalf of my girlfriend. Virgin Media contacted her before she'd even seen my email informing her that I'd done anything, so she was a bit confused. They have since given her a migration code and promised her that they won't charge her a cancellation fee.

My ebay scammer address seemed to work, my iPhone has now successfully sold. Unfortunately I am now getting dodgy emails about my bike ad, one from "DURHAM UNITED KINGDOM" who wants to buy it as a gift for his son who is a medical doctor in South Africa, surely there must be closer basket cases to Durham, and South Africa for that matter.

I continued to receive replies from paypal even after my final thank you and good night. I guess they have to reply to every email. The latest was a request for feedback. My answers included: "Your representatives largely do not seem to speak English. That would be a good start. There is also way too much insincere waffle about how they are so pleased to be able to help me that it almost sounds sarcastic." and "It's a rip off for sellers but very convenient."

Something I've been meaning to mention for a while: 02 seem to have quietly dropped their fair usage limit, yay!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Yvonne has requested replies to her 100 foods post. I can't be bothered with these lists, I'm not sure who would be interested in my culinary experiences. But here's some notes on the more interesting items (I've included Yvonne's responses next to the numbers, mine are below):

1. Venison - I have never tried this. I would though. I have eaten veal

Wasn't that impressed by the venison I had. Not sure what venison has to do with veal. Veal is a cruel way to bring up calves. Venison is typically wild deer.

6. Black pudding

Love it!

7. Cheese fondue - made it.

She made it for my house mate at the time and I. I think she was quite nervous about it but it was very enjoyable, and my first fondue.

9. Borscht - made it.

She hasn't made it for me :(

19. Steamed pork buns - well now, I have no idea what that is.

These are the clouds you get for Dim Sum. I loved them the first time I tried them but I've got a bit bored, they're a bit dry and dull.

50. Sea urchin - no.

Street urchin - yes.

55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal - I cannot think of many things worse than that.

Don't knock it till you've tried it... there's just something about that sauce...

68. Haggis - no.

If you like black pudding you must try haggis Yvonne!

75. Roadkill - no.

Was tempted to stop and pick up a pheasant the other day, was disappointed that I didn't. I am turning into my dad.

77. Hostess Fruit Pie - Is that a brand name? Well, no then.

Is that a joke?

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Paypal Pony Of Customer Service

If wishes were horses I would ride the Paypal pony of good customer service and feed their native English speaking representatives lumps of thank encrusted sugar.

In the real world I am enjoying their sarcasm, intended or not. Emphasis is my own.


Dear Paypal

The seller is saying that his paypal account has been blocked temporarily until he receives a pin code in the post because he changed his address. Is that possible?

Thanks, Jamie


Dear Jamie Kitson,

Thanks for contacting PayPal. My name is Nikki and I appreciate the opportunity to assist you with your questions about troubles with the account regarding a spoof email.

Allow me to explain, the email you have received is a SPOOF EMAIL, it may exactly look like a genuine PayPal email but it is not. I did not find any limitaions[sic], restrictions or unauthorised access on the account. Please do not respond to the email so we can protect your account. Kindly forward the email you received to Spoof@paypal.com and spoof@ebay.com so we can investigate the e-mail’s source.


(Later in the exchange I am told that they cannot check the seller's account, I believe they totally misunderstood here and checked my account.)


Please could you actually read my question before responding? I have not received any email from paypal. I want to know if paypal ever blocks accounts until the user has received a pin number in the post.

Jamie Kitson


Sorry, I see your reply was relevant to my question. However, you state that there is no restrictions on his account, however, when I initially tried to pay him through ebay/paypal, I was informed that the seller was not currently able to receive payment, this was not any sort of spoof, it came directly from the ebay/paypal site.

Thanks, Jamie


It is still the case, ebay/paypal is telling me that the seller cannot currently receive payments.



Dear Jamie Kitson,

Thank you for contacting PayPal my name is Robbie and I appreciate the opportunity to assist you with your question regarding your concern.

I do understand that you want to clear things out. I am very sorry for the confusion this has caused you. Let me assist you with the best that I can for us to be able to resolve on your concern.

Upon carefully reviewing your account, I have seen that you would have a perfect PayPal account with you. Please be inform that your PayPal account would only be blocked if you would have certain restriction in your account, for as long your account would not be restricted your account would not be locked. I assure you that your account would not be lock.

I hope I was able to address your concern accordingly. It has been a great experience to serve an outstanding client like you. I really do appreciate your patience and understanding.



I am not enquiring about my own paypal account. I am enquiring about the sellers account. I recently won an auction on ebay and when I tried to pay I was informed that the seller was not able to receive payment. The seller informed me that paypal had locked his account until he received a pin number in the post. I want to know if this is an action paypal takes, ie, is it possible?



Dear Jamie Kitson,

Thank you for contacting PayPal. My name is Charlene and I appreciate the opportunity to assist you with your questions.

I understand that you were informed that the recipient was unable to receive payments due to the limitations on their account when you try to pay the seller.

Ms Kitson, I am not able to check if there are limitations on the account of the seller. It would be better if the seller will contact us so we can check and further assist them as to why they cannot receive payments.

I hope I was able to answer your query. Thank you for your time. We highly value the trust customers like you place on us. Rest assured that we always give our best to provide you with excellent, secured services. Should you need further assistance, please feel free to email or call our Customer Service Representatives on 08707 307 191.


I am not asking you to check the account of the seller, I am asking if what he says is possible. Does paypal sometimes lock accounts until the user has received a letter in the post containing a pin number?


Dear Jamie Kitson,

Thank you for contacting PayPal. My name is Andy and I appreciate the
opportunity to assist you with your concerns.

I understand that your seller still cannot receive the payments on his
PayPal account.

I apologise for the inconvenience that this may have caused you. Upon
careful review of your previous correspondence with us, I was able to see
that you were given the information that your sellers account does not have
any restriction to receive any payment; we also provided information of a
possible spoof that you might have received. However if your seller is
insist that he/she cannot receive the payment you may need to advise him to
contact PayPal so that we would be able to assist him/her. If there are no
limitations on your sellers account we believe that there should be no
problem for him/her to receive the payment. In addition PayPal do not block
payments in relation with codes confirmed from the post.



I have now spoken to one of your representatives by phone. She
informed me that the previous person would not have been able to check
the seller's account and that it is possible that Paypal has suspended
his account until he receives a pin code via post.

Thank you and goodnight.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Clear Billing From O2

My monthly extras for October:

Subscription Discount31 Oct 080.14
Unlimited Anyone UK Texts (x2)31 Oct 080.00
O2 Web Bolt On04 Oct 08 - 31 Oct 08-5.77
Unlimited Web Bolt On03 Oct 08 - 30 Oct 080.00
Free Itemised Billing01 Oct 08 - 31 Oct 080.00
Unlimited Anyone UK Texts01 Nov 08 - 30 Nov 080.00
Unlimited Web Bolt On31 Oct 080.00
Unlimited Web Bolt On01 Nov 08 - 30 Nov 080.00
Total monthly extras-£5.63

I don't think I'll be rushing to point out to them that they've subtracted the price of my web bolt-on from my bill rather than adding it. I seem to remember NASA did a similar thing with Hubble, so they're in good company. Or was that when they mixed metric and imperial?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

ebay Etiquette

With my iPhone at £185 with 7 hours to go I received this:
Dear jamie,

Jamie can I buy it off you now for £200 incl p p
via paypal

Dear justin,

Don't be ridiculous.

Dear jamie,

thanks for the rude reply good luck with ur sale
a polite no would be nice . anyone would think ur selling the only i
phone on here th e way u responded . v offputting to bid now

The phone eventually sold for £290. Unfortunately to someone registered in Germany, on business in the US and buying it for their business partner's daughter in Lagos. You can read my response at the bottom of my new listing.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Virgin Media

I hate Virgin Media, I can't remember why I started (I'm sure it was before the junk mail started), but they're certainly giving me no reason to stop. My girlfriend moved house about 8 months ago. Her previous house had cable and so she signed up with Virgin. When she moved she weighed up the option of paying to get out of their one year contract but decided to continue with them on ADSL for the remainder of the 12 months at her new place. That 12 months is now up, and due purely to their shit performance of streamed BBC content I recommended O2's excellent ADSL offering. So she called Virgin today to get her MAC only to find that when she moved they restarted her 1 year contract. Is that legal? Can the contract be binding?

Friday, October 03, 2008

O2 Stupidity

I bought a 3G iPhone the other day. Some thoughts:

The shop assistant tried to persuade me to go with the Wi-Fi (THE CLOUD) bolt-on rather than the Web bolt-on because "that's what the iPhone uses". He was a bit stumped when I asked him what good that would do me outside large cities (for example). I wonder whether this is O2 policy or he was just particularly ill-informed. (Incidentally O2's Wi-Fi bolt-on costs £7.50 a month while buying direct from THE CLOUD seems to only cost £4 a month.)

Purchasing £10 credit is obligatory when you buy a PAYG iPhone. Is that legal? I don't need £10 credit as I am using my Simplicity SIM. The £10 credit SIM also gives you a years access to THE CLOUD apparently, I need to work out if/how THE CLOUD know what SIM card you are using.

The iPhone 3G is a bit of a disappointment really. It seems buggy compared to my original iPhone, and the screen looks slightly discoloured and smaller (I know this is an optical illusion caused but the surround). 2.1 does not seem to have completely ironed out the reception issues, there is a lot of lag on the phone (opening the SMS page takes an age for example) and last night I was getting cut off when I plugged the headset in while on a call(!) Apple have still not fixed their crappy SMS client either, you still can't save draft texts, forward texts or insert phone numbers into texts and the camera is still next to useless. I was however very impressed at the network speed when using it as a modem for my laptop. (Yes I know, shush.) I am also pleased that I can now stream BBC Radio using the FStream App.

My Simplicity tariff is £20 a month for 400 minutes. While in the shop I noticed that they had an offer on for the 600 minute tariff down from £25 to £20. Most months I use about 330 minutes, last month I somehow used about 570 minutes(!) which cost me an extra £30 on my bill :( I wonder if the offer has been going for a month, and if so whether I could argue that they should have automatically put me on the 600 minute tariff.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Choose nationalexpress.com. Choose your location, choose your destination, choose your fucking dates. Choose AM or PM, choose the exact time, number of adults, children and dependants. Put in your details, credit card and address. Choose an e-ticket, or not. Choose not to receive further communications. Click continue. Choose to scream as only now do they tell you that your choice has been fully booked and you must repeat the entire fucking process.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


The National Rail Enquiries site www.nationalrail.co.uk sucks on mobile devices, really sucks. The javascript often does not automatically insert the correct date or time and the auto-completion on station names slows typing to glacial speeds. You're also not allowed to search for journeys minutes into the past, which is annoying as the minutes are grouped into 15 minute intervals (eg, if it is 4:35 you must choose the 4:45 option, not the 4:30 option). In fact the site was so frustrating that I started to develop my own alternative.

Just days after starting that page I visited nationalrail.co.uk on my iPhone and was stunned to be forwarded to pda.nationalrail.co.uk. Apparently they do have a mobile site. I was so impressed that I emailed them to compliment them on it. When I later visited nationalrail.co.uk again on my iPhone I was no longer forwarded to the mobile site and had to type in the address manually. I emailed them again to point out that their device recognition and forwarding was a bit flaky only to receive the following: "You are not automatically directed to the mobile version of our website." How the fuck are people supposed to know about these things?

I have now also noticed that the search results are not even the same, try getting the direct weekday 8:36 Brighton to London Bridge service on the mobile site.

Incidentally there is also a mobile TfL site that you may not know about.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Virgin Media is still sending me junk mail. Yesterday I called and was told that Virgin Media probably have no control over this particular piece of junk mail as Royal Mail probably addressed and sent it. I have been advised to contact Royal Mail to stop the junk mail so I will see how far I get with them. I was also given Virgin Media's Marketing contact details.*

After waiting a couple of weeks for O2 to get back to me (2 days quoted) I decided to call them. After explaining my problems I was told that the full amount I was charged while away has been refunded to my account. I guess they just couldn't be bothered to investigate.

DestroyedHaving destroyed my SmartTalk, Griffin have ceased contact. Maybe it was a joke.

* Seems that the Virgin Media guy I spoke to was wrong: 1. The opt out service only relates to unaddressed mail. Royal Mail is still legally obliged to deliver all addressed mail, which includes mail that is addressed “To the Occupier”. The Virgin Media junk mail is all addressed "To the Occupier".

Friday, September 12, 2008

Simply Cycle To Work

This post is dedicated to my friend Kai, who loves stuff which isn't nearly as simple as it could and should be.

I have been considering buying a new bike recently and the fact that my new company subscribes to the Ride 2 Work* scheme, coupled with the recent failure of my front brake cable** and the stars aligning meant that the auspicious time of bicycle purchase was upon me. The government's cycle to work scheme is advantageous as an employee pays for cycle equipment out of their gross pay over the course of a year, not only saving whatever income tax*** they would pay (ie, roughly 30%) but also by staggering the payment over a year. So I visited HR to ask how one could go about joining the scheme. I was told that the paper work wasn't ready but that as I was so in need I could run it past my big boss. He was busy but I went to a cycle shop after work to have a look at bikes, assuming that I could buy a bike and basically just pass the receipt on to my employer. After chatting with the assistant**** in the shop about the scheme I was again reminded of the rule that nothing is simple that can be made complicated by bureaucracy. Here's how the scheme actually works: You find out which shop your company has joined up with. You chose a bike from that shop. You record how much that bike costs. You fill in the following forms: Employee Registration, Employee Salary Sacrifice Agreement and Purchase Order. Finance (hopefully) approves your request. Your work informs the shop's head office. They send back a voucher. You collect bike. This, according to the first sentence in section 1.2 of the bumf I now have "couldn't be simpler". I beg to differ.

* As I have discovered this name is important, as it indicates which company you can buy your cycling equipment from, Ride2Work is the Evens Cycles scheme, other cycle to work schemes are available.

UPDATE I don't think this is true, in theory the scheme just allows your employer to give you an interest and tax free loan to buy a bike, however in practice companies such as Evans manage to lock companies in to their own schemes by making it simpler for them.

** Yes I am still using it. I came across the bridge of death this morning to find firemen trying to free another cyclist from beneath another lorry.

*** Actually it's better than I thought, you not only get income tax and national insurance off, but VAT too bringing the saving up to about 40% in my case.

**** When I said to the assistant that I would save whatever tax I pay, say 30%, he replied, well, it could be 50%. That's right, I am in the top tax bracket. Not.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Human Resources

"My Door is always open."

(But that doesn't mean you should walk through it.)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Griffin International Exchange

Still regarding the Griffin SmartTalk:

We handle exchanges for international customers a little differently. Rather than have you send us the defective product, we request taking a digital picture of the defective product destroyed. You can smash, burn or crack open in whatever way you would like, so long as you do so safely. Also, take a digital picture (or scan a copy) of your receipt. PLEASE DO A BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTO.

I'll say that's a little "different". Is someone winding me up?

O2 Customer Support

After coming back from the Balkans I found to my pleasant surprise that all the texts I'd sent had been taken from my monthly allowance, however I did have a series of expensive calls, most of which I hadn't made (or taken), it looked like they'd not only charged me for calls going to voice mail, but also the texts they's sent me informing me that I had received said voice mails. (I guess this because one of the recorded phone numbers was only 5 digits long.)

I decided to play it safe and just tell O2 customer support that I had not made the calls and not confuse them with my suspicions. The woman I spoke to would just not have it. Those calls are on the system and therefore they were made, she would not accept that there could be any mistake. Regarding the 5 digit number her response was that sometimes the system doesn't record the whole number. Yeah, right. Eventually, after much prodding she reluctantly agreed to fill in an investigation form and said that someone would contact me within a few days. A week later I am still waiting.

Incidentally, O2 Broadband customer support has been the best that I have ever experienced. Unfortunately I can't say the same about their mobile support. Maybe it has something to do with calling on a weekend, you get badly trained, badly motivated, hungover staff.

Advanced Customer Service

To: AdvanvedMP3 Players
Subject: Griffin SmartTalk iPhone Mic/Extension Cord

The mic on this product is practically useless, I have to hold it directly in front of my mouth for the other person to hear me, which makes the clip rather pointless. I have gone back to using the Apple headset shipped with my iPhone.


Thank you for your enquiry. The microphone will need to be close to your mouth as the unit has built in noise canceling to block out background noise. Your voice will therefore be blocked out if you are not close to the mic. Unfortunately we only offer refunds on unwanted items within 7 days of purchase.

Right. It's categorising my voice as noise. And I have to actually hold the mic in front of my mouth, I might as well just hold the phone to my head.

To be fair, Griffin's response was a lot more helpful.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I Am Not A Business!

People have started contacting me recently using the information on my domain registration, assuming that Kitten-x is a business. The first spam call I got was from Dun & Bradstreet, apparently repeat offenders, offering inclusion in a business directory. After I had explained that I was not a business the caller promptly hung up. The latest call was from a very pleasant women at yell(ow pages) who offered to me the details of the company who had supplied my details to them, one pH (sic, pretentious tossers) Group. I called them (02075980310 if you're interested) and asked to be removed from their list, I assumed it was them who would have looked up the details and was distributing my information, but no, the guy I spoke to offered to call the people that they'd got my information from, one Dun & Bradstreet. So my message to businesses out there is this: Don't bother paying Dun & Bradstreet for inclusion in their business directory, you'll get included anyway, whether you like it or not.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

New Age Management Bollocks

Poor Quality Expensive CutleryThis really takes the biscuit. After complaining to Martin Gulliver Designs about some poor quality cutlery I have been asked to provide an "uplift address" where they can "access the problem".

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dear Drivers

None of the following yet classify you as disabled, and therefore you are not allowed to park in the disabled parking bays at Sainsbury's, Vauxhall.
  • An inability to drive, although of course asking you to drive as shorter distance as possible through the car park may be an advantage to others, including the genuinely disabled.
  • An inability to park, though of course those larger disabled bays will give you more room for error, maybe you could start by trying to park between the lines.
  • Obesity, though of course the larger disabled bays are a help in allowing you to get out of your car, and the fact that the disabled bays are closer to the shop will mean that you conserve energy and do not risk the loss of any of that essential body fat.
  • Vanity, though of course the larger disabled bays will allow you to admire your reflection in your windows.
Yours etc.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Walking to work this morning I passed two police cars, one parked on double yellows and a cycle path marked with an uninterrupted white line (that's important) the other in a bus lane/bus stop. And no, they weren't answering an emergency, they were stopped at what I think is a police dog handling unit.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Early Learning

I have been on this earth for 29 years 1 month and 1 week, and I have only just noticed that ctrl+backspace deletes the previous word. Why don't people tell you these things?

My girlfriend just texted me to ask me if I am a Sun certified Java programmer. I have always thought certification is for losers, but maybe that's just the ones that crow about being Microsoft certified, or more often, due to be MS certified.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Barclay's PINSentry

When I first received Barclay's little calculator-a-like PINSentry device I was pretty annoyed, nobody likes change, and I didn't really want to have to carry it around with me all the time, but I've got used to doing just that, and I now have a Nationwide one too which works with Barclay's card which I keep at home, and obviously the added security is a benefit. However, whenever I try to pay somebody for the first time I have to enter the details ten or so times while the pages cycle from step 3 to step 4 back to step 3 without any error messages. So having tried my ten or so times, and my patience, I finally rang Barclay's to enquire what might be going wrong. The chap on the other end was ever so slightly patronising and asked me to go through it with him, and it worked. He said "you're welcome" without me even thanking him and I felt like screaming "YOU DIDN'T EVEN DO ANYTHING!" But I suppose I should take this as the lesson it is, as it is usually I who stand there watching as the computer miraculously behaves itself while I'm watching trying to keep my patronising and sarcastic thoughts to myself. Just yesterday a client rang to say that our software had somehow deleted a different record to the one that she was on.

Kai has also blogged on this too of course.


I have never known a company as bad as Opodo, they don't even give you the option to opt out, they just tell you when you order to "please automatically subscribe through the unsubscribe link in our emails or email us at unsubscribe@opodo.com."

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Junk Mail: BT

Called BT this morning to ask them to stop sending me junk mail. Apart from transferring me through three different departments they were quite good about it, sky and virgin were able to do it without transferring me at all, and of course I didn't ask for it in the first place.

Gov In IT

My NHS booking saga continues. Having booked my hospital appointment last week and received a reminder to do so this morning I called up the NHS's booking line to let them know of the error. It turns out that as Guy's has its own booking department that is not part of the NHS's nationwide system and so I will continue to receive the reminders, no they can't be stopped, the only possible course of action is to cancel my booking, which was not recommended.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Junk Mail

Oh my God I hate junk mail. I have had to ring up Virgin Media three times. They had our hose down as the house and two flats. I swear I have told BT before that I don't want any of their crap. I usually find that ringing the number on the junk gets best results. It was actually quite frustrating ringing Virgin as they were so reasonable and polite. Sky is another major offender.

Choice Worse

I previously blogged about my joy at making a hospital appointment using the NHS's new CHOICE GOOD system. Well it seems I am in luck, my appointment doesn't seem to have registered with their system, as they've sent me a letter to ask me to do it, so maybe I can go through the whole thing again, yay!

Thoughts On British Gas

British Gas have to be the most incompetent fuckwits I have ever had to deal with. They cannot even keep their own appointments. My flatmate waited in last week, took a day off work, and they didn't turn up. Today we arrive home to find one of those notes to say they came but no one was in. Well what a fucking shocker, maybe that's because you were A WEEK LATE.

A few months ago we had some problems with our boiler. They first needed to come round and assess the situation. Someone then came round to fit a new expansion vessel. He arrived in the afternoon and when he saw the boiler said that it was an all day, two person job. He went away and left the expansion vessel with us. In the mean time a private firm came round. They informed us that the expansion vessel wouldn't solve our hot water problems, and that they didn't think the expansion vessel that had been left with us was the correct model. Over a series of long phone holds and eventual conversations I tried to persuade various people on the phone that we needed a different part. I don't even need to tell you what the outcome was.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

40 Limit

What the fuck is it with drivers that stick at 40? National speed limit, you get stuck behind them at 40, 40mph limit, they stick at 40, 30mph, built up area, lamp posts, still 40. THAT PEDEL MOVES YOU KNOW.

Sam Branson, Model, Green Ambassador For Kiss FM, and Full Time Knob

He flies a lot, he has no idea what his carbon footprint is (though he thinks people should know), he thinks that an expedition to the Arctic is "green", his favourite "green habit" is jogging, to keep fit, which he needs to shower afterwards, but hey, he has a solar iPod charger, he's "willing to adapt" and he plays the guitar.

What a twat.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fixed Variables

Kai has previously blogged on this, the practice of charging/paying a fixed amount each month for a variable bill. How does this make sense? Who benefits? Do the companies hope that eventually you'll start over paying and forget about it? I suppose it might be argued that the customer benefits as their bill is buffered. I was pretty shocked at my latest BT bill which stated that unless I contacted them they would more than double my monthly payment. How did they get it so wrong in the first place? My bill is very little over my fixed monthly line rental. I called and asked why I couldn't just pay the actual bill each month, well I can!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Choice Bad

I've long believed that choice is a bad thing, choice is an opportunity to be unhappy, to feel hard done by, to regret your choosing. Choice is also an opportunity for mediocrity, to be a jack of all trades but master of none. I much prefer a pub offering four superb dishes to any restaurant offering a confusing plethora of options, as I'm sure Gordon Ramsay would agree. And so it was that I found myself confronting the NHS's Choose and Book site. It's always made me laugh hearing politicians tell us that patients want choice. Do they? Do they really? All I want is the earliest appointment at my local hospital. But to do this I had to login to the "healthspace" website using my reference number, birth year and ridiculous password. What did this give me? A phone number for Guy's Hospital! Which I called, and asked for the next available appointment. I'm so happy. I love choice me.

Oh, I almost forgot, When I first visited the site I was greeted with the following:
We are sorry, but the web browser you are using is not compatible with the online Choose and Book service.

We apologise unconditionally for any inconvenience caused by this problem and can assure that we are working to make sure that future versions of the Choose and Book online service work in as many types of browser as possible.
So I tried IE, same message, so I had to use IE 8 in version 7 mode just to login. And I had to do all that just to find out that I had to call Guy's.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Red Light

I recently heard some cyclist spokesman say that cyclists run red lights for safety. Yeah right.

From Behind

I had a cyclist run into the back of me today at the lights. A very apologetic Frenchman by the sound of it. He didn't have any breaks. I hate to think what might have happened if I wasn't there.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Mirror Mirror

Unusually I clipped someone's wing mirror today. My rubber grips are slipping off the ends of my handle bars, so it wasn't a hard knock, but the plastic of the mirror broke away. The guy was actually winding his window up as I slowly reversed to apologise and offer him my details. He wound the window back down and started muttering about fucking bikes. As I was apologising and checking the damage I noticed that the mirror had already been broken and taped back in place with electrical tape. Usually people calm down once they realise that you are appoogising and that indeed cyclists are human too, but this old boy was still muttering about cyclists not having insurance as I cycled off, having fixed his mirror. At least as well as it was fixed before I arrived.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Poop Now, Think Later

On my way home there is, for cyclists, a rather difficult junction. The road peels off to the left while the road heading straight on widens to two lanes. Getting in my right hand lane a bit early before the road widens to two lanes means that for about 2 meters drivers are unable to overtake me just before two sets of lights, one of which will always be red. Said driver might then poop their horn, and their passenger might even shout out of the window. My response might be to cydle (ha) up beside them, mainly just to make the point that overtaking me was pointless, but also to ask why I would want to indicate when I am already in my desired lane. Occupants of the car then may either look quite scared, or alternatively get out of the car with a baseball bat.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Point Taken

As a cyclist I have lights which I habitually run and lights that I don't. As I was cycling home the other day I spotted a nice set of greens beyond the reds in front of me. A quick glance round and I spotted a police motorcyclist just as I crossed the line. Having stopped he drew up alongside me and pointed menacingly explaining that the council spends thousands of pounds on the green cycle boxes, so I should use them. I didn't make the point that usually it's difficult for cyclists to use them, filled as they often are with scooters, motorcycles and cars.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Blues And Twos

Cycled past one of those ridiculous 4x4 Porches this morning. The paramedics were just pulling the cyclist out from underneath. It had happened very close to a fire station, and one of the firemen was having a heated discussion with another cyclist.

Taxi I (There will be more, no doubt.)

I cycle around a taxi doing a three point turn in the middle of the road. I barely look at him, but as I pass he beeps his horn and shouts "Piss Off!" I wonder if he was being pro-active, getting one in before I did, or maybe he'd confused me with his mother-in-law, either way, I really don't think I deserved it.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

First Post!

About to turn right I move over to the centre of the road, the car behind me, incensed at having to drive below the speed limit for 45 nano seconds, and obviously under the impression that cyclists should wait on the left before turning right into overtaking traffic. I turn around, still moving, and make the classic shrug motion, as he passes me on the left he shouts some lame insult like "Idiot!"