The Sky is on Fire

No wonder the birds are flying away…

Red sky at night... the air is burning...

Red sky at night... the air is burning...

CAPTCHA – Work of the Devil

Every one knows that allowing bots to post things on people’s behalf is a bad thing. I mean it contributes to spam comments on blogs – which no one likes. Obviously anything which works against this evil is a GoodThing®?

Well, no. I don’t agree. First off, there are better ways to prevent things like automated signups, automated submissions and spam bots. More importantly, they are such an annoying thing I can’t for one second think they do not drive visitors/subscribers and commenters away. Now, I would love to see the business model of a website (especially a “Web 2.0” one) which is happy to drive a percentage (however small) of it’s customers away.

Now, I am healthy, have good eyesight and fully functional manual control – and I have a hard enough time getting round some of the CAPTCHAs out there. I dread to think what it is like for people who have even slight visual impairments or motor co-ordination issues. Over the last few weeks, I have suffered numerous, infuriating, problems with CAPTCHAs on sites which really should know better. Continue reading

Almost Back Online

Well, this is a short one to say I am almost back online now, although the process has been far from easy. It is entertaining that in today’s modern world, having a short spell offline can cause more problems than you can shake a 32gb memory stick at.

It it hard to work out where to start with my ranting over this recent debacle, so I may be disjointed (no change there though). Some recent examples of the “traumas” (which are, admitedly mostly trivial!), have included such things as working out when the rubbish bins will be emptied. My house now has two types of bin (recycling and landfill), with a note saying they will be collected on alternate weeks. Nothing else. No idea which day of the week, or which week is which. Wonderful.

What the note did say was that to find out the day of collection, and which week was landfill and which was recylcing, I was told to “log on to the councils website and enter my address details.” Brilliant, except I didn’t have an internet connection. Continue reading

Mooning

We live on a planet where almost everything is tagged as the property of someone. Someone trousers a few pounds every time we eat or drink, and if breathing is still free, we know it’s only because no one’s worked out how to charge us for it.

You might think the rest of the universe was different. Well the rest of our solar system isn’t, apparently.

Chunks of the moon and other planets are being sold at the rate of 1,500 a day, according to a BBC report. The man who started it says he has already made £4.5 million and that 1.6 million sq km of moon property has already been sold, but don’t fret, there is still plenty left. Phew.

The Lunar embassy claims to be the world headquarters of extra-terrestrial sales. It sells plots of land through resellers, such as Moon estates in the UK. It’s quite impressive the way they word the sales pitch to avoid any accusations of blatant fr**d, e.g. Continue reading

Virgin Disconnect

It seems that no only have virgin media dropped Sky channels from their TV service but their broadband customers have had a major outage today (at least in the North West).

To put the icing on the cake, complaints this morning (around 1000hrs UK time), were given a “four hour” ticket which (ten hours later) is still unresolved with no feedback.

What a wonderful way to retain customers. I was looking at going for a cable package, mainly because people (generally) said good things about Telewest. It seems that since it became Virgin Media things have gone down hill in a massive way. (Seems to resemble the trains really… Look pretty, cost a fortune but just as crap as ever).

Virgin Media & Sky mash cable service

Once upon a time there was Blueyonder. It had a cable TV and phone service and cable broadband. You took the cable tv and phone to get the best broadband service there was, if you were lucky enough to live in a cable area.

The service kept randomly upgrading as well until it’s now pretty fast. The costs kept upgrading as well, while ADSL got cheaper and better. They also stopped letting you pay in handy cable shops and subjected you to the world’s most torturous customer “service” phone-line imaginable (though that seems to have improved.)

Then little clouds started appearing on the blueyonder horizon. They merged with NTL – the inferior cable service. They started charging insane amounts if you paid a few days after their chosen date and over the phone or online, rather than by direct debit.

Now they’ve been bought by Virgin and the Sky part of the cable package is not going to come with it any more. But, wait, they aren’t giving any money off their rental charges. Because they are offering some Virgin media collection of programmes. Like Challenge, ffs.

I can live without Sky One. (I’ve already seen all the Simpsons.) I would never watch Sky News. No FX means no chance to see the Wire on terrestrial, (but I’ve already seen them.) I just don’t know where the “Sky” package starts and ends.

The maximum tv package already costs as much as their fastest broadband. One provides perfect internet service. The other provides a diet of shite. ( It is possible to go through the hundreds of channels over and over again without finding anything to watch some days.) So, is there any reason for me not to halve my bills and throw the TV bit?

Short of phoning them up, I need to know if “Sky” includes the other things in their Premium package: Discovery, Sci-fi, MTV, even Hallmark (with its non-stop Lawn Order) Does anyone know? If you do, please tell me in time to cancel the tv service..

And does anyone know if it can be legal to have taken advance payment for a service and just change it to an inferior one without any refund?