View Sidebar

Post Tagged with: Oy vey!

Bloody Barclays Bank's bureaucracy…

Bloody Barclays Bank's bureaucracy…

Way back in April 2007, I decided to open a Barclays Bank Cash ISA because of the huge amount of interest it offered. Of course, the application procedure was a tad complicated – it involved:

– filling out an old-fashioned pen’n’paper application form – no online banking here!
– taking that application form to my local branch, complete with two forms of ID
– waiting ages until there was a personal banker who could tend to my needs
– photocopying all my various forms of ID which seemed to take ages
– writing them a cheque as the deposit on my account.

Fast forward to mid-July 2007, and there’s been no acknowledgement from Barclays, and the cheque hasn’t been cashed. It’s been sitting there in my current account doing nothing except making me look embarassingly rich when I come to withdraw money from the cash machine.

So I phone Barclays Taxbeater Cash ISA, who inform me that there was a problem with my original documents, and they sent it back to my local Barclays Bank branch to get me to verify something. Two months ago.

Needless to say, Barclays Llandudno never got round to calling me. So I try calling them.

Strangely enough, you can’t call Barclays Llandudno. They call you – or you pop round to see them. Any attempt to get the people on Barclays’ national bank line to give you the Barclays Llandudno branch number or to connect you direct gets you absolutely nowhere.

And they say customer service is improving. Sheesh. And I’m not the only angry one either.

Don't go on an apocalyptic binge

Don't go on an apocalyptic binge

Thanks to a random link I stumbled across, I’ve just spent the last fifteen minutes giving into my inner fascination with apocalyptic fiction and browsing through Wikipedia’s rather substantial list of post-apocalyptic fiction, reminding me of the UK’s relatively substantial contribution to the genre – The War Game, Threads, Day of the Triffids, 28 Days Later and culminating in World War Z, a gripping account of the Zombie World War.

Right now, I feel rather ill, nauseous and sick right now (bit like radiation poisoning, I’d imagine). Which is amazing given that with the notable exception of 28 Days Later and Day of the Triffids, I’ve never actually had the courage to sit through the rest of the above. But I will have to resolve to buy World War Z, not least because the British government apparently starts its fight back against the zombies from Conwy, less than a mile away. So at least I have somewhere to run to when the zombie hordes invade.

Any suggestions on how I can wash my brains out? Because I don’t want to feel like this for the rest of the day!

When marketing and the net collide…

When marketing and the net collide…




Viral Marketing

Originally uploaded by Mark McLaughlin.

Picture the scene. You’re part of a guerilla marketing team dedicated to finding out new ways to promote a killer-virus movie. Thus, someone has the bright shiny idea of spraying biohazard signs all over London. Great idea, full marks.

But how do you tie in the biohazard sign with the movie? Ahaaa, you say, you’ll stick a web address at the bottom of the biohazard sign. This will signify to one and all that it’s not a *real* biohazard – because heavens to Betsy, sticking a real biohazard sign in London would just cause panic amongst the populace.

Two ever-so-tiny flaws with this plan:

1. Spraying isn’t exactly pollution or health-risk free, y’know. Plus, who’s going to clean it up?

2. Someone on the marketing team forgot to knock heads with someone on the web team, and erm… actually buy the web domain in question. So take a look at what www.ragevirus.com actually does…

Why can’t I get a job on a web marketing team? Please? I know web and I know marketing!

PS: Really looking forward to seeing this film! Although did it need a sequel?

The glam world of project management

The glam world of project management

Honestly, when I signed up for a stint as project management, I had visions of being snowed under with pie and GANTT charts, trying to co-ordinate teams from around the world – but all from the comfort of a nice comfy chair in a nice office next to a farm. This hasn’t quite turned out to be the case.

I share my basement office with a few developers, and a collection of old books, desks, bookshelves, office equipment, computer logs, dot matrix printers and magnetic computer tapes dating back to the 1970s. With the arrival of another employee, all this had to go. A task that fell on my shoulders.

So the logs got shredded. The books were recycled or given to the library. The desks went to the big depot in the sky, as did the bookshelves. We all cooed at the office equipment and dot matrix printers, before giving them back to systems. Which left the magnetic computer tapes. My boss told me to get rid of them – so I took the box down to the skip, and threw them in.

Whereupon a breathless analyst (who saw me at said skip – honestly, there’s no privacy when you step outside around here!) ran up to me and told me not to throw them in said skip, since they all contained data that needed to be magnetically erased before being disposed of in a proper recyclable manner. Who knew that magnetic computer tapes could be recycled? Who’d want to?

But this left us with a problem, of about 30 tapes inside a skip. Which would have to be retrieved somehow. My suggestion of simply clambering in was immediately nixed, since apparently the scientists in the office also used the skip to dispose of their test tubes and chemicals. So unless I was prepared to wear a chemical protection suit on a hot summers day, clambering into the skip was out. Thus, I found myself on a hot summers day running around trying to find any kind of rake or spade that might help in retrieving said items from the skip.

For comedy purposes, I would like to say that I eventually had to wear a rubbery yellow suit and dive into the skip to rescue these tapes from a landfilled-death, while sweating inside the suit and smelling nothing but the foul stench of the skip and my own body odour – but fortunately (or unfortunately), after an hour or so of skillful manipulation, the tapes were out. Phew.

Then a week later, I found myself on the roof of the building helping a colleague erect an aerial mast so we could detect signals 40 miles away.

I know the job description offered travel to unique locations, but I’m not sure a skip and a roof is what they had in mind.

A seagull stole my lunch! (and other woes)

A seagull stole my lunch! (and other woes)

– I was walking through Llandudno town centre at lunchtime munching on a pastie, when a seagull literally lands on my shoulder, grabs my pastie from OUT OF MY HAND and flies off with it for a second before dropping it again. Man, those seagulls are the devils’ work.

– Before that, when reversing out of the car park, I thought I’d scraped a 4×4. Stopped, looked at it, got as far as writing a note then I thought to wipe off the marks, then the 4×4 looked fine so I drove off. Come back to my desk to find a company-wide email looking for the evil swine with my car numberplate. Still, at least I thought I was doing the right thing…

– I’d invited my ex-bosses and ex-workcolleagues onto a professional social networking site, mainly to see what they were up to and see whether they actually remembered me or not. One of my line managers graciously declined my invitation, but it’s amazing just how annoyed I am to be dismissed like that. Never mind the fact that said person was one of the key people to make me redundant to begin with, so I don’t know why I’d expect any different.

On the plus side, I got my surprise two-year anniversary present from Miss R last night, and suffice to say that you’d better be watching the (virtual) skies at some point this year! (And before you ask, I whisked her away to Barcelona last week as my surprise anniversary present. Must find the time to blog about that funny disaster!)

Cheese is alive and well

Cheese is alive and well

I would have thought that in these post Alan-Partidge, post-irony, post Web 2.0, post dotcom boom days that no-one would dare to advertise a business opportunity for a well-known professional social networking site with this god-awful graphic:

A really terrible advert

I mean, just count the number of ways in which this advert is *so* wrong:

  • The facial gesture
  • The hand gesture – a second-hand car salesman knows not to do this
  • The Bluetooth-esque attachment, clearly meant to signify wealth and success. What it says, of course, is “I am a huge twat of an idiot and deserve to be turned into a Cyberman when the revolution of steel beckons”
  • The really bad Photoshopping
  • The obvious use of stock photo clipart, and one cheesy actor

I feel very sorry for whichever Photoshop monkey put this together. It’s just sooo terrible. And endemic of all that’s wrong with the web industry. It’s not a quick-grab money-raking opportunity. Well, unless you’re very lucky.

Born of frustration…

Born of frustration…

The Internet has been around us now for at least fifteen years. And during my current pro-longed absence from the nitty gritty of webcoding, I’d mistakenly thought that browser inconsistencies on simple webpages that rendered them broken were a thing of the past. Oh no.

Up till yesterday afternoon, I thought my blog looked absolutely fine on Firefox and Internet Explorer. Of course, I’d never actually checked it on Internet Explorer, but that was because I mistakenly thought the two would have sorted themselves out ages ago. At least, until someone casually said in an email that it was all in Big Print (thanks Dylan!).

So after a dinner of pizza and chips – well, what else do you want to eat when you’re about to delve into a night of web-coding? – I set about finding a solution, to find a font-size that’d work on both IE and Firefox within the FastTrack WordPress theme that I’d had installed. It seemed such a universal thing to want to fix – different browsers with the same font-size that I thought it’d be an easy solution – just look it up on Google, copy the code, job done in time to watch Bonkers’n’Benidorm (heaven knows why I bother though).

Nope. Four hours later, I hadn’t gotten anywhere aside from breaking my website multiple times. None of the offered code on the nets seemed to work, and I couldn’t even figure out how to downgrade my IE7 installation to IE6. I seem to have lost my webcoding mojo – which is a bit of a shame because I was just beginning to enjoy it again.

With the clock fast approaching midnight, there was only one thing for it – go back to an old theme and hope it worked. So welcome back old stalwart Connections Reloaded. So now it works again, but why oh why oh why wasn’t there a simple Google-able solution out there? it’s not like solving the Israel/Palestine conumdrum, is it?

My secret vice…

My secret vice…

Ever since my enforced leisure time started, I’ve been happily able to indulge in two hours of my secret vice every weekday – repeats of Top Gear on television. For someone who’s constantly preaching to others about car usage and whose ideal dream car is a Toyota Prius, it seems odd – even to me – that I find Top Gear so darned entertaining, but I do. Even if I used to get confused between the two non-Clarksons.

But not any more. I was surprised at the huge amount of press coverage that was given to Richard Hammond’s accident – he was second on the news agenda that day, and there were live broadcasts from outside the hospital he was stationed at. I mean, it’s a terrible accident that didn’t deserve to happen – but he’s only a TV presenter. A loved one, at that.

I guess I’m surprised at the press coverage because I always felt Top Gear was a cult TV programme – one to be enjoyed furtively with the windows closed, and not to be discussed with anyone. Bit like Doctor Who really.

Luckily, he’s now out of intensive care and appears to be on the mend. But in the meantime, you can donate money to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance Service which ferried him to hospital in the first place, and I leave you with two newspaper headlines. They can’t even agree on one thing…

Two UK newspapers differ on Richard Hammond's accident

Time on my hands…

Time on my hands…

The trouble with suddenly having oodles of time on my hands is that instead of doing utterly constructive things, I find myself doing silly little things like looking at new cars, and new gadgets. Even though I don’t really have the money to buy them!

But lately I’ve found myself drooling over the Freecom Network MediaPlayer Drive-in Kit. This heavenly PC gadget would let me store music, pictures and video on my home PC network, and also connect to the TV so I could watch my PC-based videos on the TV. Which might mean I’d finally get to see the last two episodes of Doctor Who 2006 in full-screen TV, which has apparently led to the likes of Geoff crying…. Never mind the fact that I currently have about 300 Gb of TV programmes I have downloaded that I need to watch, and I find myself watching re-runs of the Star Trek movies on the Sci-Fi Channel. Even though I already have them all on DVD!

I’ve even been internally debating the merits between a Toyota Prius and a Honda Civic IMA as my next (relatively) environmentally-friendly dual-fuel car. Never mind that each one costs £17k a piece.

This is despite the fact that Comet are offering a laser printer for a bargain price of £40. I can even almost justify it – but yet, I still have yet to go out and buy the darned thing.

Nothing speaks of irony like only being able to look at and drool over new toys and gadgets at precisely the point when one is not earning enough money to buy them. But of course, once I am earning enough to buy them, I won’t have the time to enjoy them!

It's taken me fifteen years…

It's taken me fifteen years…

but this morning, I did something that I haven’t done for fifteen years. It was curiously and strangely satisfying basking in the glory of the sun, getting wet and dirty with it, and I look forward to years of doing it with Miss R.

Yes, I put some of my laundry out to dry on the washing line.

Ever since I left home at the tender age of 18, joys such as hanging washing out were denied me as I lived in a succession of student, then bedsit, then one-bedroom flats in city suburbs. With no garden or back space, I had to hang my damp clothes on radiators that would slowly turn dark with damp, and wait about a week before the clothes would dry out.

But when I moved into my new temporary digs, it not only came with a cool resident landlord and a huge airy room with jungle plants and wireless internet, it also came with a garden complete with washing line. So early this morning, I was taking my clothes out of the washing machine and hanging them on the washing line, juggling clothes pegs and sagging lines in the glorious sunshine. And lo it was good, working slightly in the sunshine. I stood back, and admired my handiwork as if I had personally handcrafted the Holy Grail of washing.

Fast forward four hours later, and it’s raining in Cardiff and my clothes are probably extraordinarily damp again. Sod’s bloody law.

%d bloggers like this: