Monday, April 30, 2007

Got my passport back!!

Yay! I'm now allowed back into the UK!! :-) And it now looks like me!

Though had to laugh, cause the guy at the post office asked if I'd been on the biggest loser?!?! Not sure if I should be insulted or just laugh.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Skype = Ok ... ish

Well I got a response from Skype, and while they have lots of excellent reasons for expiring my credit within 180 days (please review our Terms of Service), they have reviewed my case and are re-instating the credit, so Yay!

I still am not happy that they've got the 180 day limit, and have tried to register my concern/complaint/issues in a reasonably polite and friendly way, basically trying to say, yes you're a business as such you can pretty much do as you like, I think you should change what you're doing though cause as a customer I'm more likely to go with someone else if you don't. Of course I'm a minor customer so I don't really know how much they'll really care. I mean in the last year I've only spent 3-4 euros... Definitely on the minor side.

Also I don't like this use of the term 'credit', I think of it as I am purchasing a product, the product isn't the right to call a phone, I am pre-purchasing that phonecall! So if I want to call someone 2 years down the track, you should allow me to! At least that's my opinion, of course commercial reality is something completely different.

Anyways here's that email that I sent back:
Hello Rando,

Just wanted to say thank you for reviewing my case and re-instating my credit. Also thank you for the details on the expiry, I understand why you've imposed that limitation, I was surprised at it being only 180 days. Realising that it's Skype's prerogative to set it's Terms of Service, can you record somewhere that I at least think that it should be of a longer duration? (also what happens to that unclaimed credit? [I've been unable to find any details of where it goes on the Skype pages])

Also want to request that more detailed information be supplied on the 'Help' section of your website, searching for 'Balance Expiration' I was only able to find which was about 20 or so items down, and didn't provide much detail. Namely what happens after the expiry? (This is a rhetorical question, as I now know what happens, point is that the help section is unclear).

Again thank you for your response, I look forward to continuing to use Skype and will make sure I make use of the phone calls at least once every 180 days.

Andrew Bickerton

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Skype = Bad

Just found out something today, kinda my fault (debatable though), but also makes me not like Skype very much at the moment.

A while back (September 27, 2006 to be exact), I purchased some Skype credit so that I could make some cheap calls from South America... Very useful, loved the facility.

Fast forward a bit, now we're in Australia, so happens that I don't have a complete Skype setup, missing a fairly crucial component of a microphone, so while Skype would be fantastic and cheap, I can't use it (my own slackness for not getting a mike, but it's not too long till we'll be back in the UK where I have all that stuff).

Add to this, I have a bunch of email addresses that I very infrequently check, basically they're spam catchers. So whenever I sign up to stuff on the web, or can possibly expose my email address, I use one of those addresses. This is what I did with Skype.

Now we get into the why I think Skype = Bad. I found out today that the 9.59 That I had left on my account, is no longer there, searching around all over the place, I just find obscure references to 'Balance Expiration'. Hmmm... what does that mean? More searching, and I find in the help page (about 20 or so items down) a page titled 'Why does My Account page show an expiration date?' (I don't check my account page often, and don't recall seeing an expiration date on the skype window..) which refers to:
The Skype credit balance expires after 180 days of inactivity. As soon you succesfully connect a SkypeOut call your expiration date will reset to 180 days. It can take up to 10 days for your expiration date to reset after placing a call.

30 days before your expiry date Skype will send an email to your registered email address to remind you to place a call so that you do not loose your Skype credits.

oh! I must of missed/forgot a term, and 'cause I don't check that email address... feck! So login, and sure enough there's 4 emails:
  • You're going to lose your credit in 30 days
  • 7 days
  • 3 days
  • You've lost it
Feck! Ok, Skype tried to notify me, but goddamn it, that's my credit, my money, it pisses me off that they've now taken it and not allowed me to continue to use it! If they want to remove it, fine allow me to claim it back. Oh and 180 days is NOT enough time, here in Aus at least statue of limitations is 7 years, not half a year.

I will contact Skype and there's probably a good chance they'll refund or reinstate my credit, but to be honest it'll still leave a bad taste in my mouth. I think I'll start looking at other voip providers, one's who don't steal my money without delivering.


Grumpy today

Woke up feeling grumpy today, and the day just seems to be getting me more agrivated. This morning had one of the semi-clients approach me with some work that needed some maintenance (code that I'd never touched before), as the main dev was away.

Basically turned out that two sections of code should of been the same, but they weren't. So I'm asking which section is right, and just getting 'I don't know', 'the client needs it now', and generally just arguing with me on which part of the code the problem is introduced from.

In the end I just said stuff it, he wants me to make section b total up from the rows in section a. Copy & Paste, his problem now. No idea why they were different, for all I know section b was the correct one, officially not my problem.

Like I said, grumpy today.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Newsgator is down

I've realised that while I like having an external blog reader (I can check it from any pc), there is one kinda big problem with doing that.

When it falls over I can't check my blogs, I can't even remember half of the web addresses now... This is what's happening now (on: Newsgator home page):

We're sorry...

NewsGator has experienced an unexpected issue responding to your request. A notification has automatically been sent to our support team.

Please try the following:
.... blah, blah, blah

Frustrating, now to see if I can remember the various sites. Oh and speaking as someone who has been a Release Manager for a reasonably sized website (well bunch of)... Ouch! This has got to be frustrating (and this is why you always have a rollback plan!)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Book club

I've been thinking of joining a book club... I now have an extra reason to do so:

"Manager: Instead of wine night, we call it 'book club.'"

From: Overheard in the Office

Thursday, April 19, 2007

iTunes, the bad & the good

As some know I have an iPod, as I've travelled around it has been indespensible.. Great for being able to get to sleep in a noisy dorm room in any country (like when the guy in the next dorm is watching to porn on his portable dvd player without headphones - eeww!)

But when it comes to putting music on the iPod and managing what's there for my listening pleasure, there really is only iTunes, I've tried playing with other music software (Winamp does a good job, XPlay allows you to 'mostly' use Windows Media Player).. But for completeness there really isn't anything except iTunes (and it pains me a little to say that)...

Apple has locked me, I can't really chose my software, the user interface is clunkier than Winamp, it uses more system resources, it installs other software (Quicktime) without your choice, and it always runs in the background (you need to know the registry keys or how to use the Services area to kill it properly, and it'll still be back on the next upgrade. There are a bunch of annoying issues with it....

But there's also a lot of stuff that 'just works', for example podcasts. I subscribe through iTunes for podcasts, I can then listen to them on way to and from work. When I get to my pc and plug in the iPod, all by itself it removes the ones I've already listened to and grabs the new shows I haven't heard yet... it. just. works. Winamp has a reasonably good podcast subscription option, but for me it didn't just work, I found I had to find extra plugins, and then manually handle the add/remove of shows (it wouldn't automatically remove podcasts I'd already listened to, either on my pc or on the iPod)....

Like I've said, there's plenty of reasons I don't like iTunes & Apple, but at the end of the day I can 'get around' those issues, for the podcasts and the fact that they just work, makes up a hell of a lot for those issues. Of course as soon as Winamp shows me it just works, I'm switching though. :-)


Monday, April 16, 2007

I got to play Jesus :-)

Went to see a couple of comedy shows (as it's the Melbourne Comedy Festival at the moment), and one of them was a very a odd guy, Evan Jones - Extravaganza Pandemonium and Comic Spectacular, where I got to appear in the show (teaches me for sitting in the front row directly in front of a spot light) as Jesus :-)

On a completely different note, we've been back from Brisbane for about a week now, still haven't uploaded any of the photos but will do that soon.

Now to figure out what we're going to see next, see so far:

Thursday, April 12, 2007


A friend got real curious about what was on Dora's t-shirt on Questionable Content and did some searching and found this: