Charity Address Labels

A recent phenomena seems to be that when a charity sends you a couple of books of unsolicited raffle tickets, they now include a sheet of branded "Address Labels" for my convenience.  They then go on to state that I don't need to attach the labels to the tickets if I buy them myself as the tickets are already registered to my name.

So what's the point of the address labels?

They jam my shredder.  

How can I Blacklist a Blacklist?

Spam is a nuisance - this is a fact that I won't deny - so I can't blame people for using spam filtering software to keep their inboxes clean.  One measure that a system administrator can employ is the filtering of incoming mail against DNS blocklists - the sending servers are looked up against another machine which reports back whether the server is a known spam sender.  At this point, the receiving machine can use that information to either reject the mail outright, or use the information as part of a scoring mechanism.

At work, the system administrator inbox seemed to have a load more "Delivery Failed" meaages generated than normal so I decided to take a look to see what the cause could be.  After much digging, I found that our corporate domain had been listed on the SURBL WS list.



It seems that the compensation culture is still alive and well; it also seems that companies are bowing to it because it's seen as an easy option rather than fixing problems.  

I have examples:

I recently attempted to open an reward account with Halifax.  After completing the online form with all of my up to date details, I was given the new account details and set up the login credentials.  After logging in, I looked around the internet banking site and found in the "My details" section that the Halifax system had picked up an old profile when I had an ISA with them and overwritten all of my employment and contact details with outdated data.  

Calling their telephone banking hotline with the intention of fixing the problem left me stunned by the level of negativity.  "No"s, "can't"s and "won't"s were used in abundance with their only suggestion being "go to the branch and sort it out yourself".  When I protested at the inconvenience, I'm offered £35.00 for my time (without asking), but the problem remained unsolved until I visited the branch and went through the problem a second time.  

Q: What does TSB stand for?

A: Terribly Sloppy Bank.

And this is my view after just four months!  My gripes are generally about their paperwork and attention to detail.  

Incident 1

The Chip and PIN card that doesn't require a PIN to shop with:


Yep, that's right "You don't need a PIN to pay for shopping, however you'll need one to withdraw money from a cash machine." Only, you need the PIN to use the card at retailers, when you're shopping. Hmmm.  

What's wrong with Doctor Who?

Tom Baker: Undoubtedly the best Doctor

As a young kid, I was scared of Doctor Who; there were a couple of times I hid behind the settee when the Daleks were on screen screeching "exterminate" in their electronically deformed voices.  As I hit 10 or 11 I began to appreciate the show a lot more and I fondly remember Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor in "Remembrance of the Daleks" in the late 80s.  I was then devastated as the show came to an abrupt end in 1989.

Throughout my mid to late teens and while at University, I began to acquire some of the BBC's back catalogue focussing particularly on the Pertwee and Baker years; I don't think that we can doubt that Tom Baker brought a host of qualities to the character, and who can forget the action man that Pertwee was.  It took just over sixteen years for the BBC to pull the series back from beyond, and I have to say that Eccleston was a great Doctor, but my opinion is that Tennant and Smith, not so.  I can't say yet with Capaldi, but bearing in mind that I switched off after 30 minutes, things are not looking good.

How Can UK Cinemas Do Better?

A Finnkino Auditorium

As UK cinemas attempt to get more punters through the door and maximise the spend of each cinemagoer, with gimmicks such as premium seating, 3D and allocated seats, I'm going to look at what     I would like to see from a cinema, and what would get me going week after week.

1. Auditorium Layout

I'm not a fan of stadium seating, unless it's done well.  Finnkino, a Nordic cinema operator get the thumbs up from me on their seating layouts.  While they are stadium arrangements (I've visited their Tennispalatsi, Kinopalatsi, Plevna and Plaza sites), there isn't a bad seat in the house as the steps raise each row enough so that the person in front doesn't detract from the view.  Furthermore, Finnkino seem to have actively acknowledged that no-one wants to sit at the front and leave a respectable gap between the front row and the screen.

Allocated Seating: Cinema Alternatives?

A digital projector

As the customer backlash over Allocated Seating at Cineworld continues, I thought I'd try my luck at the Empire Cinema in Swindon last night.  

Swindon is a strange town cinematically; when I moved down here in 2000 I used to go to Virgin Cinema, subsequently the UGC in West Swindon as opposed to the Cineworld at Greenbridge.  As a UGC unlimited card holder I used to consume a fair few films, but drew that to a close after a few service issues and started going to Cineworld.  Cineworld later took over the UGC chain which left them in the unusual position of having two cinemas in the town, and ultimately being the only cinema operator here.  Due to our Fair Trading Laws, Cineworld were compelled to sell one of the cinemas to open up competition, however in what I felt was a surprise move, they kept the former UGC location and sold the Greenbridge cinema they custom built and fitted in 1999 to Empire Cinemas.

What's going on at Cineworld?

Tip up seats - why?

I've been a regular Cineworld customer for several years now, an Unlimited cardholder for about half of that time, and a shareholder for three years, but I'm beginning to lose all of that love for the chain.  Why, I hear you ask?  Two words: Allocated Seating.

There's never been any issue with seating at the Swindon site; most of the screens are big enough to accommodate everyone, and only the first night of big blockbuster shows such as Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings have ever needed allocated seating.  So, why, when turning up to the Saturday, 12.30 showing of "The Fault In Our Stars", am I asked "Front, Middle or Back"?  It's an unnecessary stream of red tape that I don't want to have to deal with, and it doesn't give me the opportunity to pick the seat three rows from the back, on the right hand side on the aisle, or K22 as it's better known.  To get that level of granularity, you need to book online.  

The benefit of being an Unlimited card holder is the impulse view, the ability to just "rock up" to the cinema, get a ticket and watch a film without the hassle of online booking.  It seems that to achieve the comfort I'm used to, I'll need to carry my laptop and "Three dongle" around, just in case I have the urge to watch a film, probably sitting in the foyer booking the ticket before waltzing up to counter to collect it.  It's positively absurd.

Matt's Guide to Helsinki... Part 4

An island off Helsinki

After managing to get from the airport, finding some digs, going out all day, and having some fabulous food, you want to while away the evenings in style.  Helsinki, like any decent European capital has a shed load of entertainment on offer to keep you occupied into the early hours.  A word of warning: alcohol in Finland tends to be taxed heavily and costs an arm and a leg.  As a result, most Finns will tend to start their evenings at home with a couple of beers and head out later on; this means that bars and nightclubs tend to look like ghost towns until around 10pm when things start to warm up.  The upside to this is that most drinking establishments continue on into the early hours so you can party all night if you want.