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Sun, Mar. 13th, 2011, 11:04 pm
BMI are cretins

Today I went to book Easter in Belfast with family. Searching on BMI offered me a pair of flights for £145.50, which was reasonable, but when I choose them it decided the route was unavailable. I rang their call centre explaining the problem and was offered the flights for £241.

"They're £145.50 on your website..."
"That's subject to availability"
"Your website gets kept up-to-date, right?"
"We're having technical difficulties"
"Well, that's useless. Aer Lingus are cheaper in that case, bye."

Only I don't like flying Aer Lingus. Flights are fine, but Belfast City is more convenient than Belfast International, and they use the obnoxious tactic of adding a significant amount in taxes/charges (read: costs of operating, scam artists) only after you've chosen based on the low prices.

Back to BMI, and it turns out that if I purchase the flights individually the promised total of £145.50 is purchasable. Idiots.

Sun, Oct. 17th, 2010, 12:46 pm
Kindle text-to-speech

I've been impressed with the range of font sizes available on the Kindle, and have ordered one to see if that can get me back into reading. Mostly I'm intending to avoid the Kindle store, and use a combination of Gutenberg and Seeing Ear (a library of books as plain text files for the visually impaired).

However, while I'm intending to avoid Kindle store anyway, I'm getting increasingly angry that publishers can (and mostly do, as far as I can see) disable the text-to-speech functionality for their books. To the point of wondering whether the Disability Discrimination Act has any potential in the matter. Any thoughts?

(before anyone points it out, I know the DRM is breakable)

Sat, Jul. 17th, 2010, 09:37 pm
Verified by Visa

I finally gave in and accepted Verified by Visa on a credit card transaction (previously having dodged it by switching to my debit card which seems to have escaped it). The transaction wound up being refused. Go Verified by Visa! The only time I've had my card rejected online before was when I hadn't noticed it had expired.

Looking at it with a positive slant, they may have considered the very use of VbV to be aberrant behaviour, given I've avoided it so far...

Final whine: the password I had been going to use had symbols. They couldn't handle that, so I'll probably not remember the alternative I chose. Boo.

Sat, Feb. 20th, 2010, 11:08 pm

I've been looking at getting a new phone for a while, and today I think I've settled on the iPhone 3GS. I've been somewhat negative towards the iPhone in the past. Nice bit of kit, but I've been put off by the feeling that you never really own the device, instead merely taking possession while Apple retain control.

However, the features for people with visual problems (http://www.apple.com/accessibility/iphone/vision.html) look awesome. I've been using compiz on linux for a while now, and the ability to zoom in/invert colours is really helpful for me. I haven't seen any other phone doing the same. Screen reading I'm less interested in, my sight isn't that bad. The voice dictation of the Google phone would be nice as I'm not sure how I'll cope with the on-screen keyboard (I'll have to play), but zoom/invert still win for me. Anyway, I may go to an Apple store tomorrow and see if I can have a play.

The point of this post is to ask what the compromises are. I don't use anything other than linux - will I be able to get away without Windows/OSX? The features I want mean it's not a dealbreaker, but it'd be a bit disappointing.

What is the control situation? Naturally if I go with a network phone it'll be locked to that provider, but what are the other issues? Do I need to jump through hoops if I decide I want to write software for it (beyond learning objective C...)? If I upgrade it and decide I don't like changes they've made to accessibility am I really blocked from downgrading?

Basically, I'm looking at paying a non-trivial amount of money for what is a computer in its own right. While I'm prepared to compromise because it seems to fit so well generally, the things I've heard about the iPhone are things I wouldn't feel comfortable with a computer, and I'd like to know what I'm getting.


Oh, yes, I am alive. I should do a round-up post of what's gone on in the last few months, since I've somewhat failed at posting.

Wed, Sep. 23rd, 2009, 09:56 pm
Broadband tax?


How does a tax per telephone line count as a "broadband" tax?

Fri, Aug. 14th, 2009, 11:09 pm
Attacking the NHS is "unpatriotic"?

How very American to use that put-down. It's somewhat odd to observe America emulating an aspect of Britain I strongly agree with, while (in connection with the same matter) Britain emulates an aspect of America I quite dislike.

Sun, Apr. 12th, 2009, 11:41 pm
Looking for a new machine

The display on my laptop having gone pop (to go with the battery and keyboard) I might finally need to get a new machine. What to get, what to get...

I don't want a big monster, small and quiet would be nice. The mac mini looked nice, but the nvidea graphics (and associated binary drivers for linux) aren't appealing. Intel graphics would be much more attractive.

The ASUS EEE-box seems nice too. Had been aiming at Core2 duo, but don't really need a super fast machine, what are the Atoms like? Downside: only available with windows in the UK. I know I could just suck it up and buy that and install linux, but I've just spent easter sunday dealing with windows crap on my aunt's machine, right now I'm *really* adverse to giving Microsoft money for something I won't use.

Any suggestions?

Wed, Mar. 25th, 2009, 08:57 pm
Dear Harriet Harman,

This is how your beloved "court of public opinion" tends to work. I wouldn't like to be associated with it myself.

Tue, Mar. 24th, 2009, 08:21 am
Spam from ICSTIS?

I appear to have received a spam to an address I would only have given to ICSTIS. Disappointing, and I'm not sure how to respond. Feels like the address tagging thing is slightly pointless, except possibly as a means to revoke them.

Sun, Mar. 1st, 2009, 04:19 pm
Two minutes' hate

"The prime minister has said that it is not acceptable and therefore it will not be accepted,"

All rise for the worshipful dictator Brown...

I haven't been paying much attention to the news, so I may have missed bits. My current take is that it's £16 million out of £24 billion, which seems to be a tiny enough proportion for there to be little real financial incentive for recovering it. Was there a fraud involved in giving a false impression that it was contractually binding in October? Maybe, and if so that should be pursued. But the whole furore seems to be backwards and not about that, instead being driven by outrage at the idea of the large pension, not actual wrongdoing.

Do I like that somebody can be so irresponsible yet walk off with so much money? No. But is it much different from the vast salaries/bonuses other bankers were paid? Are we going to rewrite the law (!) to claw these back? Does "the court of opinion" really drive legislation so directly?

It feels to me like a big distraction. Forget about looking at the real problems, we can have our 2minute/48hour/(how long has this been in the news?) hate and everybody will feel better. I got the same impression of the coverage of the treasury committee questioning 4 bankers, or whatever it was that came up a few weeks ago.

Somebody reply telling me how I'm entirely missing the point, please.

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