Friday, February 27, 2009

English like wot it is wrote

The following email is a typical "phishing" scam but stands out from the crowd because, though it comprises a mere 4 sentences, it contains at least 12 errors of spelling, syntax and sheer bad writing. How many can you find?


Dear Customer,

Your access to Online Service has been revoked due to a mis-match of access code between your Security details. To enable you continue accessing your online account, it will only take you few minutes to re-activate your account. Click on the guide-link below and follow the directions to instant activation of your account and Security information

P. R. Crush
Security Advisor
Lloyds Tsb Bank © 2009.

I think the funniest part of all is the sinister "P.R. Crush". What a wonderful name for a heavy. I picture him as a 16 stone ex-bouncer, clad in dinner jacket and dark glasses, suggesting to potential customers that they should open an account otherwise something nasty, but unspecified, might accidently happen to them.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The signals are failing, Captain*

Left work early to visit my sister-in-law in hospital. She is in Watford, I'm in Waterloo, visiting ends at 8pm so not much time to spare. Met has major signal failure (yet again) at Finchley Road, huge gaps, crowded trains, took the Jubbly to Wembley Park, Uxbridge train arrives full and many more try to crowd on, then because a window cracks we all have to get out, two more trains arrive, both so full nobody can get on, we get told the next is on platform 1 so mad scramble over the footbridge, train doesnt stop, mad scramble back to platform 2....

And all the time the moronic announcer tells us there are "minor" delays. God knows what these people eat but it's addling their brains. Several hundred people unable to board two separate trains is not minor delays. It is a near failure of service. And all this at Wembley, where the Met stables nearly all of its trains and where its drivers begin their shifts. Couldn't they find just one train from the depot to take up the strain? Nope. The only one that did come out did not stop. Just sailed on through to Harrow empty. After which the announcer told us that by special arrangement the next one, though not supposed to stop, would make a halt to let us on. Jeepers. You'd think they were paying us for the privilege of playing with their trains.

Let me spell it loud and clear. Trains should be run for the benefit of passengers, not the other way round.

Anyway my sister-in-law decided she did not want any visitors tonight, which by the time I got home was just as well and maybe I'll be able to visit her in a calmer frame of mind soon.

*in my Scottish voice (Is this a Star Trek reference? He's very good you know: Ed)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Time for tranquillity

My eyes are closed. I sit with my back warm against the padded seat There is almost no sound apart from a gentle background hum. A newspaper rustles, discreetly. Some distance away I hear a muffled cough. Around me I sense other people, still, withdrawn, wrapped in thoughts.

A hushed and expectant concert hall just before the arrival of a famous soloist? A sad gathering at a funeral waiting for the coffin? Clients at the door of a wealthy patron? Anxious patients in a dentist's waiting room?

No. Quieter and more resigned and without much hope, these are the passengers on a Metropolitan train this morning, stuck in a tunnel outside Baker Street and 40 minutes late.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Stirring it up

I never know who, if anyone, reads my occasional outpourings. I had always vaguely thought that historians from the twenty-seventh century, picking through the remnants of our civilisation, might unearth a dusty disk from the ruins of the Google building and would hear my scribbles brought to life by their robot translators. So imagine my surprise to receive comments on my post of yesterday (on the subject of a new internet domain) from the man whose words, quoted in yesterday's Guardian, sparked off my interest. If only I could get a similar response from the powers-that-be in London Underground...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tel it like it is

Had to laugh when I read in the IT section of today's Guardian that some people are getting excited about a new web domain, ".tel". Apparently the sole use will be a single web page showing the contact details of the person who owns the domain. Since most people do not have unique names, this immediately invalidates the whole point, and since there is no protection as to who can register names in the first place, it is merely an exercise in internet greed, encouraging both cyber-squatting and generating FUD* in people scared of somehow missing out.

But as always the joy is to be found in the quote of someone pushing this new domain. Like so many in IT, he clearly has no real idea what people actually do with it. Step forward and take a bow, one Andy Chantrill whose words of wisdom read thus:"Every minute, thousands of people are getting off planes, and what is the first thing that they do? Turn on the BlackBerry," he says. "Some of them will be thinking ahead to renting a car. For them, it's - the directory quickly connects them to an agent, saving time and hassle. Or maybe you're thinking of sending flowers? will let you quickly find your nearest florist."

Can't dispute his first line. Every minute people do indeed disembark from planes. And now we leave reality behind. Some may indeed resort to their Blackberry, or other mobile device. But the vast majority do not. They scramble for their luggage. They fight for trolleys. They queue up at Passport Control. They check their tickets and itineraries, and ensure that the foreign cash is still safe in their inside pockets.

But to Mr Chantrill the very next thing that our intrepid travellers do is to think about car rental. Ummm. Most travellers do not actually rent cars you know. If they did, the termini of airports would be crammed full of rental establishments. Instead there will be couple of sad booths, one empty, and one with a bored clerk smiling hopelessly at the passing crowds. But in any case, anyone with an ounce of sense rents a car before arrival. And if you have decided to take pot luck, then you do indeed go straight to a booth. Or you call a rental agency you have an account with. You don't stand about phoning some "agent" who may well be in a call centre the other side of the world and start making arrangements for a car that might be the other side of the airport with no way of getting there other than by courtesy coach that takes a hour to arrive.

No matter. Whilst waiting for that coach you can do the next thing that everyone does when they get off a plane. You order some flowers. Now what does Mr Chantrill suggest - you walk through the terminal and pick a nice bunch of daffs for your host? Nope. This is the insane world of the internet salesman remember. What you do is use your Blackberry to find the nearest florist. In an airport? If there is a florist on your way out you will surely see it. If not, what is going to do? The nearest florist to Heathrow, for example, is probably miles from the airport and, being in the back streets of Hayes, entirely in the wrong direction for the vast majority.

My final thought - I possess a rather unusual name and probably could have my own .tel domain. But if you know me you know how to contact me already. And if you don't, you can find my email on my website. So I shall not be getting a .tel domain name. No flowers, by request.

*FUD mlud? An ancient acronym denoting "Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt",propaganda tactics favoured by some in the IT biz to disparage competitors

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The tide turns

My normal train came in on time this morning and arrived on time.
( that all? Ed)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A new week pt 2 - Things get worse

Four days in a row now, that the Metropolitan has operated a poor service. Today's special - severe delays due to overrunning of engineering works, according to the notice in the station entrance. So whilst stood on the platform at Ruislip Manor what do I hear? The announcer tells us a good service is running on the Piccadilly. On the Met, about which me and many of my fellow commuters are keenly concerned, nothing. No word as to the next train, the length of the severe delays, not even a hint of apology. To this faithful steward, this custodian of customer care, the Met and its passengers no longer existed and were not worthy of even a breath of comment. What a total ****.

Amusingly enough (he's got an unusual sense of humour, you know: Ed) my usual train then arrived, a few minutes late, but was only going to Harrow. So this would mean getting out and taking a chance that something might be running further south. Neither the driver nor the announcer bothered to mention this. I decided to wait for the next Piccadilly, not fancying yet another day of hanging about at Wembley Park which seemed to be all that the Met could offer, and got in ok but once again late because that route is both longer and slower than the Met.

A new week

Monday morning... when the train you normally catch is cancelled, though the one due before and the one due after are running normally being told by the station announcer that a good service is running, even whilst the train that was cancelled was due to arrive having to fight your way down the stupidly narrow stairs from Metropolitan to Bakerloo platforms at Baker Street because of the congestion caused by the train being full because the one that you wanted to get was cancelled even though you were assured that a good service was running finding that the normally dependable Bakerloo is running with gaps, that the platform is crowded and that waiting for the next train is not really an option because by then the platform will have filled up.

At least I had the option to switch to the Jubilee, where the trains were coming in without gaps and I was actually able to get a seat at Baker Street. So at least some sort of happy ending. I was going to write a song in popular beat combo style on the subject of a general dislike of Mondays but I believe a musical ensemble operating in that idiom may have beaten me to it.

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Met screws up

Yesterday signal failures on the Met at Baker Street made me 20 minutes late. Today, another bout of signal failures first on the Met then (after I had been detrained at Wembley Park) the Jubilee. Result, 30 minutes late. Naturally whilst sitting in a Jubbly grinding between Wembley and Finchley Road, the rejuvenated Met began running again.
When LU screw up, they do it in style. But it's alright. Their announcers insisted that there were only "minor delays". Well sod them, I'm putting in my second refund claim for the week.

Oh and the "adverse weather" was also cited as a reason for delays. Wow. Earlier in the week we had a few inches. Today, a miserable centimetre or so (I hope you enjoy the instant transition from imperial to metric) [I find this confusing: Ed] which turned at once to a brown slush on the streets. We are not impressed.

Monday, February 02, 2009

A few cold inches

Yes, the snow is back and though the tube website shows that some trains are running, I don't trust that the system will remain running if there is further snow today so will stay at home. Here is the view from blizzard-struck Ruislip.

And driving would be no fun either