Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The old cons are the best even in cyberspace

Some say that the old jokes are the best that fits nicely with the old con tricks being the best.
Here we are in 2011 some 20+ years after the first advice in 1987 that email attachments are dangerous seeing a huge rise in the volume of dangerous email attachments.

Come on people get your Norton installed, raise the trust barrier and kick this shit to the kerb. Just how dumb is anyone to fall for this one .... ?



Monday, 15 August 2011

PC world - Just don't

I broke one of my technology rules over the weekend and as usual regretted it almost immediately. That rule being "Don't buy anything at PC World". The store is no more a specialist store than Dixons and Curries. All those store are just "Pile it hight and sell it cheap." box shifting business models. That model can be ok if you see exactly what your after and know what you want to pay. For anything else there are better choices and better quality products at specialist stores.

These big box shifters buy in bulk with tight profit margins and rely on a huge choice to befuddle most consumers into buying something. Quality is a statistical exercise and service just a revenue opportunity.

This time I was browsing and liked the look of a Microsoft ARC slim small keyboard At 1p under £50 it did seem a bit spendy. I got the last one and off I went. Doh ! when home I realized I had fallen for the old the last box is empty because that's the box for the demo item trick.

Worked out ok in the end as with the prospect of having to go back to the store anyway, I checked on Amazon and found same item in the marketplace. Available from stock and only £30. Back to the store for a refund.

So don't buy at PC World because
1) You won't really get what you want,
2) It will cost more than is available elsewhere.

An alternative and good computer tech store is Novatech. Helpful assistants and a good spread of economical to top end computer kit.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Sailing to Byzantium, Robert Silverberg

Wow - a great read. Medium length stories that demo Mr. Silverberg awesome talent.

BA lost bag phone madness

Here is a bit of a communication failure that really just fits the process. I flew back from Ankara via Dusseldorf yesterday and arrived safely. My single checked bag however has yet to arrive.

Waiting by the carousel as all the other bags squeaked round is a rather lonely experience but near to hand was the "Arrivals service team". I had the sticky baggage tag issued in Ankara that has the original and connecting flight details listed. The clerk cheerfully took down a few details and issued a lost bag receipt and uploaded a few details to the World tracer lost baggage tracking service.

The receipt had a URL for an online tracking web page for the baggage search process that showed the details I had submitted. Unfortunately the on-line version showed an incorrect baggage tag number, the last digit being one out. Such a flaw in the data was bound to fail the whole tracking service so I decided to call and correct the number.

Calling the Local Baggage Tracing office on the number listed on the receipt started a merry phone trail.
Calling 0800 408 1100 - gave the message "This number is no longer in service please redial another number."
Calling that number 0800 727800 - gave the message "This number is no longer in service please redial another number."
Calling that number 0844 493 0787 - gave a two level phone tree resulting in the message "Please call 0844 493 0785."
Calling that number eventually gave a vaguely helpful baggage tracing person. After updating the Baggage tag number to the correct value a search revealed that bag was likely to be still in Ankara. "A message will be sent and the bag hopefully delivered back to you." was the update. We will see how that turns out. Such a phone bounce around makes me think of an organisation held together with sticky tape and string. I hope that the planes are better maintained than this business processes.

The IATA travellers faq as some useful information on lost baggage and its retrieval. Including the faq that "globally 98.2% of all baggage travels with the passenger as planned" That works out at about 5 bags a plane going missing.

One item in the bag that I will be sad to loose was my trip reading Time Restored - The Harrison timekeepers and R.T. Gould, the man who knew (almost) everything" by Jonathan Betts. This excellent biography of the restorer of the first experimental Marine chronometers follows it's subject through the interesting parts of his life. Staring with a brief naval career, an ugly divorce, through the intense restoration work and on to radio celebrity status. An intriguing life from the last century of a fragile genius who first restored the important Harrison "longitude" clocks.

As for that festering bag of washing with the book - if they don't get that bag back to me soon I am sure it will be declared a Bio-hazard and humanly destroyed.