Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Friday, August 26th, 2011

I have now formally ceased blogging on this site, and have moved my web presence to

This blog continues under a new guise at (with a new RSS feed).

This blog will be archived, and in time will become a portal for the other sites it hosts:

An Open Letter to NatWest

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Dear Natwest, the ‘Helpful Banking’ establishment,

Please allow me to explain why your motto is criminally misleading, and why you annoy me to the degree that I have taken 30 minutes of time out of my life to write this whingey yet psychologically soothing open letter regarding how much you suck.

A few minutes ago I attempted to pay the outstanding balance on my credit card with you, only to be told that my browser isn’t ‘supported’ by you.  I am using Safari 5, the most recent, most secure version of the default browser for Mac OS 10.6.  What you mean by ‘supported’ I have no idea, as your site is perfectly capable of being rendered in Safari 5, and it certainly isn’t less secure than Safari 4.  If this is just a bug of a system designed to stop me using old, insecure browsers, or scary browsers that you haven’t heard of, then that’s your problem.  Actually, wait, no, it’s my problem isn’t it, because I’m the one that has to download a separate browser just to pay off my card.

At least I can’t complain that this is out of character of the ‘helpful banking’ corporation, who helpfully declines to print account numbers on their debit cards in doubtlessly well-meaning but, utterly counter-productive security measure.  I want to buy things online and sometimes I want to set up direct debits for bills.  At work I need those details to set up payment plans for my customers.  I am never, ever going to forage around for a statement and search for my account number when all the other banks print them on their cards, which I’m actually likely to have with me.  I can only hope that – if you ever decide to let me on your site with my browser of choice so I can transfer money around – any criminal who decides to steal my card finds it as hard and impractical to use as I do.

That isn’t to say that I’d use your cards offline, either, or feel inclined to carry them around with me.  I opened up an account purely for the railcard perk that appeared to be worth something like £120 a year (although in reality is worth that only if you bought a railcard annually for half a decade), and opened a credit account at the same time to use as another source of credit-rating-friendly mainly un-utilized credit. In reality I use neither – the debit card because it is such an arse to move money into, and the ‘student’ credit card because frankly I’m embarrassed to even look at it.  Whose idea was it to adorn it with huge paint splodges?  I find the suggestion that people of legal age to be offered credit will find this ‘cool’ pretty offensive.  What do you think I am, a preschooler?  Fingerpainting ceased to be in vogue when I turned 4.

I think your pledge to become Britain’s most helpful bank through 14 commitments needs some revising, too.  You plan to have ‘600 branches open on Saturdays by the end of 2010’?  How many branches do you have that don’t open on Saturdays?  Admittedly I’ve only ever lived  in urban areas, but to suggest that your branches close on the two days that most people are off work (and therefore able to go to the bank to sort things out if your website decides to lock them out) is a pretty shitty commitment to current customer service levels if you ask me.  You’ll promise to ‘stay open for business if we are the last bank in town’?  That you’ll happily run a monopoly on local services isn’t much of a draw for me considering that no-one is ever more than 10 minutes from a free cashpoint and I personally haven’t stepped foot in one of your branches since I opened my account.

I think ‘Our call centres are UK Based’ is the funniest, though – like I care where your call centres are, they could be on the moon and it would make no difference to me as long as you dealt with my issues quickly.  Come to think of it, I’ve had much better service from the cheerful Indians at Adobe and Orange than the pervertedly unhelpful and condescending Scots at the Student Finance England, and I wouldn’t say that either accent is any easier to understand.

Stress release

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Ever been so strung out that you’ve forgotten what it feels like to be able to take things at your own pace?  It sucks, but returning to ‘normality’ is an excellent feeling.

I took my last AS examination for this period earlier today.  It was comprehension, cunningly disguised in an Applied-ICT-shaped suit.  Before that there was Business, but in between there was a photo job at the opening of Landau’s new ‘Learning Center’ (presumably the old building is now the ‘Eating a nd Dossing Center’) and work at Comet.

This is all following the manic Peak (aka ‘Christmas’) period at Comet.  We were targeted for upwards of £15k per hour at certain points; to put this into perspective, we sometimes manage £45k on a good Saturday.  My employers were gracious enough to provide me with 3 days off, however.  Although 25 December is classed as official holiday time.  And I had to work New Years Day, and Boxing Day, the busiest day of the year.  And on one of the remaining two ‘holiday days’ I was photographing a wedding between 10am and 9.30pm.

The respite is lovely, though.  Despite being back into the swing of being at work or college every single day.  I don’t have to worry about the next batch of 350 wedding photos until next week.  I have more manageable hours at Comet, but extra employment at College as a contracted photographer (more on that later).  Time to relax 🙂

Cleaning my processor

Friday, September 14th, 2007

Comet salesmen recently all had to undertake training for new ‘Comet on Call’ call-out technician packages. One of the briefs sounds something like the following: “over time, dust can build up inside your computer and slow things down. The dust particles cause your computer’s internal hardware to overheat and become sluggish, or even become permanently damaged”.

I read in a computer magazine some years ago that compressed air is excellent for removing dust from hard-to-reach places. I noticed whilst installing my second hard-drive a month or two ago that my processor fan had become clogged with dust. I managed to find some ‘compressed air canisters’ floating around on ebay and decided that perhaps they would help shift the dust and thereby reduce the maddening volume of my processor fan, which does seem to be getting louder and more strained each week.

The fan system above the processor in my computer was pretty dusty, but also pretty hot, so I decided to wait for it to cool before spraying the compressed air. Lucky I did really: it gave me a chance to read the label properly, and as it turns out, the ‘compressed air’ is actually a chemical mix that is highly flammable. I decided to do a quick spark-check on the residue that I presume shouldn’t really be evident from compressed air, but was being produced in copious amounts from my canister.


The redesign…

Friday, July 20th, 2007

…is coming 😉

Rhianna Page

Saturday, June 2nd, 2007

Rhianna PageRhi.

This doesn’t seem quite real in a horrible sort of way.

9 days ago I was walking to school with you for exams. I only had one 2-hour exam, but you had something stupid, five or six. We got to the gate and I told you I’d catch you later.

Maybe someday we’ll walk home through the sheets of rain again, talking through our difficulties because it helps.

We miss you, frizz. xxx

Rhianna Page, a student of Landau Forte College, left this world a week ago. She was a caring, intelligent and an amazing person. She made front page of the Derby Evening Telegraph today.

From the article:

“Her sudden death has stunned friends and classmates, who described her has an intelligent, caring girl, who always had a smile on her face.”

Rhi (on a grey day) (by orangeacid)I knew Rhi for about three years. I can’t remember where we met, but my first real memory of talking to her was at the Market Square in February 2004. I was wearing a pair of Zoggs goggles and fluffy bunny ears, and she stole the goggles for a photo.

I remember walking home with her in the pouring rain, taking a long diversion through Morley. She came to support us at our first gig, and then my parents gave her a lift back home.

From the article:

“Rhianna page’s [MySpace] has been bombarded with messages and one friend has posted a video tribute to her on the YouTube website.”

Check out Rhi’s MySpace. Unless you’re already added as one of her friends you won’t be able to post a comment, and no-one is around to accept any new friend requests, so the profile is a sort of frozen portrait. The comments are heartwarming and tragic. Watch the music video: Rapture by Hurt.

Wherever you are, frizz, I hope you’re happy. We miss you.