Sunday, 28 February 2010

Is BOGOF legal?

I have always had a dislike of the mis-use of the word "FREE" in adverts, and even more so "FREE*". Not as much as I dislike "Unlimited*" but still, people have had to learn that FREE always has a catch. The word is diluted - nobody believes "FREE" anymore.

The phrase "Buy one, get one free" has been around a while, and it's meaning is pretty clear. Some adverts are much less obvious "FREE mobile phone*" and "*£35/month" so clearly not FREE.

However, I was reading The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 the other day. A good read if you sell anything to the public, by the way. And schedule 1 para 20 leapt out at me. It is one of the commercial practices that is always considered unfair, and hence illegal...

Describing a product as gratis, free, without charge or similar if the consumer has to pay anything other than the unavoidable cost of responding to the commercial practice and collecting or paying for delivery of the item.

Well, surely "Buy on get one free" falls foul of that? You have to "buy one" to "get one free". It is not actually FREE. It costs (the "buying one") more than just delivery or response costs. It's no really different to "Give me £100 and get one of these FREE". Well, I am no lawyer so I don't know.

So maybe they should use "Two for the price of one" which is just as clear and rather more honest, IMHO.

Bandwidth theft

It seems I committed the heinous crime of linking to someone's site's images in a previous posting on here. Apparently this is considered "bandwidth theft" which is a rather odd idea.

The original site had a good item on various types of BT socket and joint boxes, but only a couple of pictures were relevant to illustrate my blog posting. I was careful not to copy the images though.

I have since changed the post so that it has a link to the whole page and not just a couple of smaller images. To me this seems to mean a lot more bandwidth used as people load the whole page and all of the images on following the link, and not just the ones I originally referenced. I have not heard the term "bandwidth theft" before in this context but insisting on a link to the page not just the relevant images seems to counter the suggestion of "bandwidth theft" somehow. The web server in question was happy to serve the images even though it knew that they were referenced from another page (referrer header in request) and so one has to assume that the author was happy about serving such images to my readers. Apparently not.

The logic of the complaint seems to elude me slightly, but as a breach of an arbitrary protocol, I do offer my apologies.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Shareholder

Did I say I was a shareholder now...
A single 5p share.
I even get dividends!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

What are they up to?

[See last item on http://kitz.co.uk/adsl/btsockets.htm]
Well, our favourite telco are now fitting these on new build properties. They are an external NTE.

Well, I can see the logic, and the principle is like having external cupboards for power or gas. The engineer can visit to check things and sort faults without entering the property. Saves staying in for the engineer, and so on.

Of course our favourite telco do have the strange idea that not finding an issue is somehow chargeable, but that is a different problem.

However, this new system is rather broken!!!
  1. The test point no longer exists. It is a special test pin thing, see picture. So you cannort test the service (voice or broadband) at the demarkation point.
  2. Even if you had a suitable plug to do testing you may not be on the same floor. Whats the betting that even if the telco put in the wiring from this, the second they finish it becomes your problem.
  3. How the hell are engineers going to test broadband at one of these ? even their USB modems need power and it is outside!!!
Worrying indeed...

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

I did not know tattooists did home visits

Well, teenage kids, what can you do?

P.S. before you ask, it's on her arm.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

WoW economics

Why on earth do people put stuff in the auction house for less than a merchant would pay them for it as a buy out price.

It used to be you had to actually go to a merchant to find the price, but the game now tells you the merchant price for everything when you select it. So they must have seen.

Where is the logic in selling for less than the going rate?

Maybe I am missing something.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

A sign for a sign

The whole basis for wheel clampers charging a release fee is in contract law.

The idea is that the land owner (or their agents) offer a contract - by way of a big sign displayed.

The contracts offers to let you do something that would otherwise be unlawful, such as drive on to their land and leave your car for a period of time. Without the contract it would be a civil offence of trespass.

In return you agree to certain terms, usually the payment of a fee and a requirement to display a ticket or some such, but also, usually, to consenting to your car being clamped and payment of a release fee.

The contract is important as it (a) lets you do something you could not lawfully do (without it you are trespassing on the land), and (b) lets them do something they could not lawfully do (attaching a wheel clamp without your consent is trespass on your car).

The issue, usually, is that the penalty is disproportionate, in some cases you may not actually have seen the sign and agreed the terms, and that by clamping your car they put you under duress to force your to pay the charges. It is just like extortion.

The idea is that if you park then you have agreed the terms. Your action makes the contract.

So, here is an idea :-)

Make them a contract offer too! In this case a very clear sticker in the car.

Now, the logic is simple. They have no right to stick things to your car. So you offer them a contract. You let them do that in return for money.

The arguments for this are identical to the arguments for the clamping. If they put a sticker on the car (one that says do not attempt to move the car for example) then they must have agreed the terms. The fact that they have to put one on the car for safety reasons is not really the issue. They don't have to clamp the car just as you do not have to park there. They choose to clamp the car and attach a sticker knowing the contractual consequences.

Then, when you pay the release fee you take court action for return of the release fee and the money for sticker removal at the same time.

In theory, any argument they have about a contract formed by actions and a clear sign and so on you can use the exact same argument as to why they owe for the sticker removal fee. Any argument they have against the sticker removal fee you can use for defeating their claims for the clamp release fee. The idea is to make the legal arguments symmetric.

That being the case you either lose the clamping fee but win the sticker release fee, or you win the clamping fee back!

Monday, 15 February 2010

Fighting clamping companies

OK, time for some research. My son, again!!!

Paying a clamping company under duress and recovering it later - what are the chances?

There was a sign, small, high up and not lit, and he arrived at night.

Holiday Inn car park was full so they directed him round the corner - some residential garages / area.

He has paid under duress, so I think we'll take them to court to try and recover it.

Lots of pictures.

Thanks for comments.

Oh, and it was £150 which is a huge ripoff.

Oddly it was "release fee £150 per day". Surely you only want to be released "today" even if you parked for a week? How the hell can a release fee be daily?

Mind you, having paid the fee, if you re-park later that day you can claim you have paid the day's release fee already perhaps.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

DOS

OK, I did some DOS based apps in Borland C and some 6502 apps that worked with it on a customer 6502 box that was all originally assembled on a BBC micro.

And now there is a date related bug in it...

And the system is still in use.

17 year old software being resurrected.

Thankfully, over a decade ago, I made a 6502 assembler in C. Getting it to work on a 64 bit version of gcc proved tricky. The code itself had checks for bit packing in structs being as it expected and so even told me it was not going to work. Thankfully gcc has an option -m32 to make as 32 bit target, phew.

And the 6502 app assemblers and works.

Next issue. Borland C on DOS?!?!

OK, I still have my copy of Borland C and the project files.
Wine would not play, but DOSBOX just works.
I am amased.

I am able to run Borland C and compile the app. It runs in a tiny window in the corner of my 30" monitor!

And behold, the app runs, under DOSBOX.

Now for the bug itself. Well, so far I have got as far as understanding some of my 17 year old code and concluding that it could never have worked in the first place?!?! So still digging. I think it will end up being a minor change in a couple of lines of code that handles a BCD packed date in a protocol message over a 9K6 RS485 serial link!

Nostalgia is not what it used to be...

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Flight to nowhere

Well, a fun trip last night.

3½ hour flight from Gatwick, to, err, Gatwick!

Was fun when I got something in the shop air-side as they asked Where are you flying to today? and seemed confused when I said Gatwick...

After take off, and a very quickly served sandwich and scone, the fun started...

Several people walking down the plane with reels of black tape, covering over the no-smoking signs, toilet signs, camera LCD displays that could not be turned off, anything that glowed in any way. My camera has a bright red LED for memory card activity and needed a bit of black tape, but the LCD and so on could be turned off.

Then plunged in to darkness... Even the navigation lights and strobes on the wings were turned off when air traffic control allowed.

We flew north of Scotland and then east/west a bit, then west/east a bit a few times.

We saw lots of stars! Some impressive views of the night sky.

We saw a dim green glow to the north, and that is sadly it. Yes - I have hand help 15s exposures showing a dim green glow and they are not really worth publishing.

We had three astronomers doing running commentary.

But it was fun, and I am assured that on many of these trips people do get a really good view of the Northern Lights.

It's a bit of a shame that my best picture is one of the boarding pass!

P.S. On the way back the doors from domestic arrivals were locked. I ended up having to press the green emergency break-glass to get us all out!

P.P.S. Tips if you go. Take binoculars and mirror if you have one. For camera, has to have high ISO manual exposure. Maybe take a mono-pod. Fast lens - if I go again the f/1.2 85mm will be ideal. Red torch is an idea, and red filter over LCD on camera would allow checking shots.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Shame it did not go to court

Well, Digital Direct have in fact refunded me the original cost of the blu-ray player and the £35 court fees.

They then filed the paperwork with the court, and it is almost a shame we did not go to court as they clearly have no clue what they are doing.

For a start, they marked all three boxes: "I intend to defend the claim", and "I intend to defend part of the claim", and "I intend to contest the jurisdiction" !!!

They then admitted the £35, not the whole claim, and put the date they paid that amount. Odd they did not admit the whole claim and say they paid the whole amount.

They then have a rant themselves in the defence saying I cancelled on the 24th Dec and they refunded on 25th Jan, but going on to say they refund within 30 days. They totally miss the point that they are required to refund "as soon as possible". Even I know that 24th Dec to 25th Jan is 32 days not 30, so they contradict themselves. They go on to say that the email on 24th Dec was not read by them until the 28th which is in fact a lie. I have a reply from them on the 24th Dec replying to my cancellation and quoting it as well.

Basically they claim they do not owe the £35 but have "relucatantly" agreed to pay it to avoid the costs of going to court to argue.

Anyway, case closed. My letter to the court, copied to them, stating I do not wish to proceed does have an explanation of the contradition and the lie on there defence "for the record", though.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

More tesco madness

I have posted how my 19 year old son has trouble buying alcohol in Tesco. On one occasion they actually stole the drink off him after the sale was completed and he was leaving the shop. On another they refused to serve him (as is their right) but the excuse was they had seen him talking to his 16 year girl friend in the store earlier, and so he must be buying it for her!

Well, irony of irony, she now has a job in Tesco. So now he can stand right next to her and buy alcohol. In fact, buy it from her serving him (she has to call for approval obviously). He just did this!

I bet she could even say to him "can you get me a bottle of xyz for later", and he could go and get a bottle off the shelf and have her ring it up.

That just shows how stupid all this nonsense is!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

VBA Ltd not PCI compliant!

OK, they are going to finally refund the £35 court fees as well.

However they needed my card details to do the refund.
I said they must have them already.
They said no!
I said "but you refunded the original amount"
He insisted that they must have contacted me for the details to do that (they did not) as they cannot hold the card details for PCI compliance.

That would suggest that as they refunded me without asking card details then they are not PCI compliant. I said that to him and he did not really know what to say!

Well, we'll see if the £35 arrives. What fun.

Can't have FTTC - you need a home hub

This is a report from a customer and not something that was recorded so on here not the A&A status pages. It is however totally unacceptable...

It seems our favourite telco are not playing fair, or at least one engineer is not...

Turned up at customer to install FTTC, and refused to!

He insisted that "only BT Retail and Carphone Warehouse were capable of doing FTTC".
And went on to "take ISP name to report to his manager".

He refused to install saying that as the customer "has no homehub then he can't continue the install".

Our customer reports "After I insisted - strongly - that he was wrong about the need for a homehub he tried to blame the whole thing on AAISP who, apparently, were lying to me...", "Oh, and the last time the engineer left he had also gone to 'phone his manager' but merely f..ed off with his van" and "He said he'd have to pass the job 'back to BT retail sales'"

I rather suspect some sort of audio recording device will be deployed for the return visit.

Oh, to add to the fun, the end users line has been configured somehow in the exchange in such a way that it has sync but PPP links are dropped a few seconds after they start. So his ADSL no longer works!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Why can't people just call or email what you say?

OK, so I ordered something from a web site.
Simple enough, and they want email and phone number...

So, email is the supplier name at e.gg.. Simple enough. Like many people I make an email address for each web site I use so I know where the email address leaked from later if I get spam. It also helps some time as you can get emails that seem totally unrelated to the original web site some times and knowing who the hell they are can be useful :-)

And,a phone number, 03333400XXX, number that gets me and my mobile...

But what do they do???

Instead of just calling the number, or emailing the email address they trawl their records, find a previous order from years ago, call the contact number on that and get my wife at home so that they can ask her if the email address is valid!!

Why not just email it and see????
Why not call my number and see????

I can vaguely understand some people may not have seen 03 numbers, or may not have seen short domain names, but there is a really simple test - try the damn thing and see.

I bet if they had not found an old number to call us on they would have cancelled the order and not told me.

Why are people so dumb some times!