Recovering a stolen camera

Well strictly speaking I left the 450SGD Canon S120 on the Airport bus (I think). I was so tired that day. I realised this and contacted the Palermo Airport bus company hours later to no avail. Also contacted Palermo Airport itself. No dice.

So I was thinking how I could avoid this situation or better find it in future. I did have my name and twitter id on a sticker on the camera. Obviously this wasn't enough for it to me returned to me. :(

On the train to Naples

Searching by serial number

First off, the Canon's serial number of the camera is NOT embedded in the images it takes.

/home/hendry/Downloads$ strings 14094833648_7703bd9cbd_o.jpg | grep PowerShot
Canon PowerShot S120
IMG:PowerShot S120 JPEG
/home/hendry/Downloads$ strings 14094833648_7703bd9cbd_o.jpg | grep 71805

Engraving it

Casey Neistat engraves his camera using a Dremel. I wish I did this since the photos / videos I took are worth more to me than the resale value of the camera.

Ibeacon whatever

I noticed http://www.thetileapp.com/ but I don't see how that would work. The tile itself could only be attached clumsily. And only people RUNNING THE TILE APP ON AN IPHONE in very close vicinity (0% chance) could ever possibly report this back to me.

Invisible markers and stuff

I think this stuff rubs off and the fact that it's invisible is a bit dumb. UK police say they use this to identify stolen goods, but I doubt its utility.

Stolen database of stuff

AFAIK there is no place to say XYZ serial of equipment is stolen. Wish there was.

Posted
FTTC is worse than ADSL when 2km far away from exchange

I've complained about Superfast Cornwall rural broadband rollout technology being a poor choice for rural locations before.

Now I have a nice graph to illustrate the point:

fttc speed graph

The image is from http://nbnmyths.wordpress.com/ which is site devoted to outing the scandal of the "next generation" Australian broadband roll out.

So unless you live ontop of a cabinet, FTTC (VDSL), the product that Superfast Cornwall tout can well be an expensive waste of time. The cheaper older ADSL can be better than FTTC in distances greater than 2km!!

To add to the confusion of my FTTC "superfast" install, we are told our line length is 3400m, even though I can drive to the cabinet in a mile. Combine that with line instability (we lose carrier upto several times a day), we have a very poor experience with this "upgrade".

Rural Cornwall connectivity looks bleak. BT Openreach probably won't lay fibre or allow folks like me to pull fibre through their conduits. My ISP says the best I can do is buy another line and consider bonding them, doubling again my ISP costs to ~100GBP per month.

3G might come along. I could perhaps consider long range wifi with a neighbour who lives closer to the exchange. But those options will have high latency.

What a disaster. :(

Posted
Barclays made my backup account dormant and took my money

Since I travel a lot, I keep a backup current account debit card in a secret location in case my wallet is stolen or lost.

That un-expired card failed to work earlier this year. I later logged onto Barclays online banking to find no trace of the account. It's as if it never existed.

The account had 693.73GBP in it.

I called up Barclays quoting the account number and sort code printed on the bottom of the card... at first the "customer service representative" worryingly could not tell me what has happened. Two phone calls later and a visit to my branch, reveals that my backup account is considered "dormant" because I have not used it for a year.

Later it turns out I was sent a letter on the 17 December from "Mr D Wass" warning me that "Your current account has not been used for some time". It instructed me to call Barclays by the 10th of March 2014. Since I'm terrible with post, I failed to read this single warning letter. And now my account is dormant. This letter was not found upon their Document Management service "Barclays Cloud It", which I think it should be.

At the branch I'm given a long https://www.bba.org.uk/ form to fill in. I've already wasted many hours on this, and now I need to provide personal details to a 3rd party, in order to get my money back? I'm shocked. Why can't Barclays simply re-open my account?!

I called up https://www.bba.org.uk/ to express my frustration. The receptionist tells me that they simply act as a post box for Barclays dormant accounts team. I've now just spent half an hour filling a form in https://www.mylostaccount.org.uk/, which could have a better SSL support.

Thank you for completing the mylostaccount online form.

Your enquiry will be dealt with by the following organisation/s in the coming weeks:

IF NO ORGANISATION IS LISTED BELOW THIS CLAIM HAS NOT BEEN SUBMITTED. PLEASE START AGAIN OR TELEPHONE 020 7216 8909 FOR HELP.

Barclays Bank Plc

BBA reference id: 503731

To carry out a full check of all the institutions listed may take up to 12 weeks.

I am still waiting to get my money back. I also want to lobby Barclays to:

  1. Inform me of account changes on the online banking application which I use regularly and not snail mail
  2. Stop this insane practice. Why the HELL wasn't MY MONEY put into my other current account at the VERY LEAST?

When I asked Barclays why they make accounts dormant, it was the time honoured "security reasons" response. Shocking.

UPDATE: A reply from BBA. I've struck gold! June 19

I am pleased to advise you that Barclays have indicated that they may have traced a dormant account in the name of Kai Hendry that you have quoted and a letter will be sent to you from the bank, within the next 28days, to validate your claim.

British Bankers' Association

The Voice of Banking and Financial Services

Sheeezus.

Posted
Withdrawing money in Europe with Barclays Debit

I anticipated that this might be difficult, so I called Barclays beforehand to ensure my Debit card would work for a start and then I get the best rates.

They advised I use only Global Alliance atms.

So whilst in Italy, I sought out the BNL atms, which was a little awkward at times. Time was wasted.

Problem 1 - no idea how much my withdrawal limit is

I want to withdraw a large amount of EUROs to minimize the transaction fee. Unfortunately it didn't allow me to withdraw 500EUR. Or 400EUR. So in order not to upset the person behind me, I reached for the 250EUR mark.

-£209.00
Cash Withdrawal
ITALY
AMOUNT IN EUR 250.00 ON 25 MAY VISA FX RATE 1.231981 FINAL GBP AMOUNT INCLUDES NON-STERLING TRANS FEE £6.07 ATM

Problem 2 - fixed % fee of I don't know what

Yikes, that's a 6GBP fee.

It gets worse:

-£251.87
Cash Withdrawal
ITALY
AMOUNT IN EUR 300.00 ON 28 MAY VISA FX RATE 1.22669 FINAL GBP AMOUNT INCLUDES NON-STERLING TRANS FEE £7.31 ATM

There is a fixed percentage, ontop of these bad GBP-EUR conversions.

£176.27
Cash Withdrawal
ITALY
AMOUNT IN EUR 210.00 ON 31 MAY VISA FX RATE 1.226989 FINAL GBP AMOUNT INCLUDES NON-STERLING TRANS FEE £5.12 ATM

I called up Barclays to complain, and they say they advise holiday makers to bring cash. Post office cash at 1.16 EUR to the GBP isn't a lot better.

I can't get the credit card deals http://travelmoney.moneysavingexpert.com/ recommends since I'm self-employed. One can get better deals by ordering EUR cash in advance in England, but it involves a rigmarole. What a PITA. Times like these I'd rather UK have the EURO.

Posted
Good riddance Certificate Authorities

I've long moaned and bitched about Certificate Authorities and the cost of SSL, and recently I think I've seen the light at the end of the tunnel.

It's called DNS-based Authentication of Named Entities aka DANE and Domain Name System Security Extensions aka DNSSEC.

This will as I understand it, put the multi-million "Certificate Authority" industry out of business. Goodbye Verisign, Thawte, Geotrust, RapidSSL.

I've archived a list of the trusted Mozilla CAs currently shipped in Firefox here for future prosperity.

Folks in the future might think, it's amazing that we had a system that allowed the Turkish government to impersonate any SSL secured Website.

In order to make this sea change possible, I urge you to lobby your DNS service to support DNSSEC and get experimenting with DANE.

Posted
Canon warranty for second hand purchases

Despite swearing off Canon with the TERRIBLE EXPERIENCE of the Canon S100, I'm back for more pain. Why? I want to be able to record 1080p and take better photographs that my iPhone 5S can muster.

So I followed Singapore's Clubsnap advice with buying a second-hand Canon S120 for 450SGD, by ensuring I didn't just have the warranty card, but the original receipt from Challenger too.

In an ideal world, the Canon's serial number printed at the bottom would be enough. No fiddly bits of paper to worry about.

Canon S120 serial number

Then when signing up for the warranty, the awfully implemented form at https://warranty.canon.com.sg/ said my serial number was invalid.

Er, what? So I jump through the five or six hoops to fill in a tiny form to Contact Canon support in Singapore, to get this reply:

Thank you for contacting Canon Contact Centre. My name is Michael and I will be more than happy to assist you.

As I understand it, you had purchased 2nd hand camera and would like to register online warranty however it's failed. If there has been any misunderstanding, please do let me know.

We regret to inform you as your product already been registered online warranty for the previous owner, this is reason why you currently unable to register online warranty again and show invalid serial number.

We would like to apologize as we unable to change the ownership name, or else the warranty period will be terminate and unable to register the online warranty to get back the warranty period.

Once again, we would like to truly apologize for any inconvenience caused.

I hope the above information helps to address your concern. Do keep the case ID 255932 for reference.

We look forward to serving you again.

So if I understand this, a new owner invalidates the warranty? This is what I wrote back to the customer service representative Michael, and he replied:

I would like to advise you still may carry in your product for servicing under the warranty period between 4th January 2014 until 3rd April 2015 without any service charge. 

So basically, I can still get warranty service as I understand it, but not if I update the ownership details of the second-hand Canon camera I bought. Completely daft Canon.

Posted
Better organisational decision making

It bothers me that last night, the Hackerspace.sg plenum exhibited various qualities about meetings I just hated. Not to single out Hackerspace.sg, I've been in other societies and worked in other companies where the "group" decision making is just as dysfunctional in my opinion.

  • Meetings are synchronous
  • Decisions are made by the people who show up
  • If person can't attend the meeting, the person can't contribute to discussion or vote
  • Exercising Robert's rules can be slow
  • Discussing any point synchronously is slow
  • Making a speech or ensuring all the points are clearly recorded is near impossible
  • Longer the meeting goes or the more issues addressed, the harder it becomes to garner focus and make good decisions
  • Lots of time wasting, no set limit to arguments
  • Things can go in circles, especially if someone did not listen carefully

Solutions

The leader

Ideally there is some designated leader just listening and calling the shots. That's honestly my preference. See BDFL

My technological ideas for group decision making

  • Force discussions to happen on a mailing list, identified by URL
  • Summarise salient points of discussion on mailing list, by highlighting text at URL
  • Have an online voting system where absentee votes can be cast

As for synchronous meetings, they probably still need to happen. Email debates are rarely effective, especially if any participant has poor email etiquette or employs intentionally or not, some disruptive tactic.

For meetings, a very orderly, time limited "English parliamentary" style debate could be organised for big issues. At least two people, on each side of clearly defined topic with 3-5 minute speaking slots, which is broad casted or at least recorded.

Again, an online voting system would be used, but the voting window is short, i.e 10 minutes after the synchronous debate.

What are synchronous meetings good for?

Matters of discipline or some other urgency or crises is probably a good fit.

I doubt even summarising is a good use of everyone's time at a meeting. Summarising points is best done asynchronously, independently of bias and can be very tedious.

Nominal issues must be addressed and recorded by email, identified by URL.

A meeting must address some communication break down, which is fairly common by email or other recorded mediums like IRC.

Posted
Complaining about advertisements on BBC News

So I complained online a couple of weeks ago about the crashing flash and advertisements while trying to watch BBC News videos in Singapore.

I didn't seem to get a copy of my original complaint, but I did make a video above.

Making a complaint on BBC news Website is a bit too hard IMHO. Had to go through a myriad of hoop jumping forms.

I got a reply on March 7th:

Dear Mr Hendry

Reference CAS-2586580-DKLK6N

Thanks for contacting us about video advertising before a video clip.

We are currently seeking to improve our delivery system to limit users’ exposure to repetitive advertising. We are also examining technical means of ensuring short clips are preceded by short adverts or no advertising at all.

I appreciate your concern and can assure you that the issue is being addressed.

I very much hope you will continue to enjoy using our website.

Thanks once again for takign the time to

Kind Regards

Marie-Therese Gibson

BBC Audience Services

www.bbc.co.uk/faqs/

NB This is sent from an outgoing account only which is not monitored. You cannot reply to this email address but if necessary please contact us via our webform quoting any case number we provided.

After replying to bbc_faq_website@bbc.co.uk, asking for my original complaint, I got a Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender.

I have no idea how to find the webform again. Sigh

Update: After about 15 actions I've found a Web form I can enter the above CAS number. :(

Could be a LOT better BBC. :/

Posted
Private medical insurance in Singapore

I've enjoyed free of cost medical care most of my life. Since I'm pretty active, I now worry about paying for medical services out of pocket. In Singapore seeing a doctor ranges from 50-150SGD (150SGD is a super duper specialist). Advanced imaging for diagnosis start at 1000SGD and of course hospital treatment is very expensive. So I'm keen to cover myself for emergencies.

Since I have a dependent pass in Singapore, I'm looking into the options. Normally expatriates enjoy free medical care via their workplace, though since I'm an Entrepreneur. Different story of pain.

http://www.expatinsurance.com.sg/ seem to be the experts and conveniently located in 20 Upper Circular Road where MOM is, the Singapore government department that issue passes.

Travel insurance plans aside, the two options they proposed were:

  • AXA Elite for 1342SGD annual premium
  • MSIG Platinum for 1080SGD annual premium

I prefer MSIG so far, since it's cheaper, though the basic outpatient service all have a 100SGD excess (deductible claim) for a course of treatment. Tbh seeing an expensive doctor in Singapore privately costs no more than 100SGD.

A big annoying down side for both options is that they require Claims filing by Post. A paper nightmare procedure if you want to claim back any money.

I have been quickly look for more options. A Wikipedia list of Singaporean insurers unfortunately lumps most consumer insurance under "General Insurers". After looking through several only a fraction offer personal medical insurance.

I learnt about the International Medical Centre via some AXA travel related literature. Their cashless system like IIRC the South African system MediCare card sounded VERY ATTRACTIVE because it is super convenient. On their http://www.imc-healthcare.com/insurance page they indicate other insurers as:

I will try make enquiries with them and their awful websites, if they offer online claims.

I'm a bit confused by the utility of IMC since Singaporean hospitals and polyclinics are upto a Western standard. IMC seem to target just expats which sounds worryingly inefficient.

Posted
Thinkpad X240

So I must have been using the Thinkpad X series for about 10 years.

X40, X60, X201, X220 & I don't know what next. Help.

Of course I blame the IBM handover to Lenovo in 2005 as a mark of decline.

I guess they are more "affordable" now then ever, though the deal breaker for me on the new X240 is:

The new non-hardware mouse keys feel terrible. I've always disabled the Trackpad, preferring instead the nipple, and now the buttons are part of the Trackpad. They feel awkward and furthermore it causes frustrating mis-clicks.

The once famed keyboard has changed to a cheap chiclet style keyboard.

Astonishingly Lenovo changed the power connector AGAIN:

Old spare Thinkpad chargers can be thrown away... I wish it was magnetic and hence an improvement.

What next for running Archlinux?

Options are pretty thin:

I heard good things about the Samsung Series 9, but then Samsung annoyingly changed the name to ATIV Book 9 Plus and added a touch screen. Really unsure. No track point.

Macbook Air, then I'll have to juggle keeping a version of MacOSX running to do firmware updates. Way too painful and I don't want to be another Apple user.

Update: http://www.reddit.com/r/thinkpad provides a valuable place to vent my frustrations on Lenovo. I need a new Archlinux laptop!

Posted

Thank you for commenting !