Archive for March, 2009

Barclay credit card company impressed me today.

I am actually quite new customer with Barclay as I ended up with them via my old Morgan Stanley card. Barclay took over Goldfish who took over Morgan Stanley credit cards. I am a firm believer in having credit card that gives me cash back. Amex Blue is another card that I have used since 2001.

Today has been an admin day where I changed over my credit card details with Superline and also signed up for Bethere as BT finally has sorted out my phone line.

Only a few hours later I got this automated call from Barclay asking me to confirm 3 outstanding transactions but before I could hear I had verify some personal information. The voice listed 3 charges and one was something that I didn’t expected so when the option to talk to someone in Fraud dept came up I choose that.

I had to answer a few security questions and after that we could discuss the charges. Superline had put through a charge of £10 and that is unexpected to me as they deduct the money after the invoice has been raised. This is the first in many years that I have had any payment issue with them and I have already sent them an email asking for my money back.

Update: Superline wrote back and said “The only way for us to validate that a payment card is valid is to apply a ‘test’ transaction to that account.To achieve this, we apply what is known as a ‘Pre-Authorisation’ charge of £10.00 against the account. This is not an actual charge against the account and unless that transaction were confirmed by us, no money will ever leave your account.” All good!

Barclay’s Fraud dept said that there is a lot of online fraud going on now and that is why they put a block on my card. It is so important to regular check you debit + credit card statements. My set-up is the the following and this something that works very well for me and perhaps you help you too.

I have online statements rather then paper statements for several reasons;

1. When you are opening your mail coming home from work or the pub you are most likely not be in the right frame of mind to review it properly. You are hungry, want to hang out with your friends or your significant other. You are mostly likely to put that statement away and only pick it up when it is time to pay the bill.

2. When you review your online statement it is because you decided to do so and is more likely to pick up any odd charges. If you think ‘ah I will never get around doing that’, set a reminder in your online calender to email you. Every second Sunday for a 30 minute slot and then hit re-occurring.

3. You can also check your recent transactions rather then to wait for the statement to be issued. That keeps a good tab of your current spending.

4. Storage. The company stores it for you and you do not have in the draw. It is too much in there already, isn’t it? And how often do you really go back and check that draw?

5. It saves the credit card company money and in a perfect world, maybe some of that savings get passed on to you. Just maybe.

Since there is a high volume of online fraud going on at the moment – please check your accounts to make sure it is only your charges going through.

We all have our favorite places that is such a treat to go to.

For the last week, I had family visiting and helping me with some ‘after the move’ things that always occur. It was a great help and I am so appreciative that they came and visited. I needed help with carrying up my 4 moving boxes that arrived from San Francisco – a total of 150 kg. They got a dose of real London life, like with my struggles with BT and understood my frustrations when my order got canceled for the 3rd time. I took them walking around the neighborhood for them to see how quickly a place go from good to bad and back to good again. I also took them to Asda – they had a car and I need to stock up on bulky & heavy items.

Naturally I have showed some of my gems when it comes to good food. In fact I had taken them there a few years back and one of the first things they said when they arrived: We must make a reservation at that great steak place we went to last time.

The place we went to was Buen Ayre in Broadway Market, Hackney.

Buen Ayre is the best place to find a great steak in London that I am aware of. It is a slightly pricey place but this time I ordered a 8oz sirloin steak for £11.50 which is reasonable. The quality of the meat is superb and I was so full afterwards. This place is always full so call ahead to make a reservation. The restaurant is fairly small and has a relaxed atmosphere. I also wrote a Yelp review.

@65hefalumps asked for the details and I felt a tweet would not do this place justice hence the blog post. Since I am back in London and have been gone for a few years, if you have any recommenations please send them my way!

03 14th, 2009

Disclaimer: I have indirect ties with Seesmic

Seesmic launched a Air Adobe application for Facebook like their excellent Twhirl application for Twitter. I have just downloaded and starting using it – too short time to review it. If you want it here is the link:

Seesmic Facebook App

The Seesmic app is what the Homepage looks like. I think it would be nice if Facebook could revert back to the old layout. I still believe that Facebook is not about status updates and more about sharing information and spending longer periods of time on the site rather then the short snippets of status updates. Twitter is for the better place for status updates.

03 13th, 2009

Facebook changed their Homepage tonight (my time GMT) – just in time for SXSW conference. They must be lining up some sort of announcement, I am sure. This change feels like change for the sake of it. I can’t see what benefits this brings me, the user. I miss the clear overview of the fun videos, uploaded photos, comments on other people’s submitted things and all of that. It has been pushed away to somewhere else. The new layout feels every so clumsy.

Facebook New Homepage

For status updates and snippets of information, I use Twitter. Twitter has cornered this part in the market, they have the users, the ease of adding interesting people and is the market leader. The updates move quickly and they have the twitter search facility which is superb to catch up what is going on.

Facebook is good on other things such as sharing more personal information and also provides more in depth takes on things. I really like to read the links with comments from others. They are moving away from what they are good at and seems to have Twitter-envy blinding them.

I am sure there is a Facebook group against change formed already but I suspect that they will not take a step back from this change.

03 3rd, 2009

I landed in London end of last week and it took some days before I could get some internet juice.

I tried the FON network but that was very flaky. And for some reason no coverage in the mornings. I don’t recommend it. They were happy to charge £15 for 5 day passes but there is no guarantees that you will get internet access all day.

My dear neighbor K kindly let me use her wifi until I get things sorted with BT and Bethere.

Sadly I missed the part where the experts were on the stand on The Pirate Bay #spectrial. After listening to today’s feed, I definitely want to catch up with what Professor Wallis testimony.

Today was the defense turn to making the closing arguments. I tweeted:

the difference between the defense team vs plaintiff team is huge! defense is tight, legal relevant, case law and source material #spectrial

The defense team were focused, referred to the law and even handed out source material for the Court’s reference. The lawyer who was the best in a certain area spoke for all 4. The plaintiff’s lawyers were all over the place. The one who mostly got a free ride was Monique Wadsted – in my view all she added was confusion and fried sparrows analogizes.

Yesterday she said an statement that I offended me greatly. In her closing statement she showed her irritation that The Pirate Bay had continued their service despite she and her clients had filed a report at the police. She also she pointed out that there were Court cases in other countries had been against bit torrent sites.

She implied that just because of these two actions The Pirate Bay should have stopped and how dared they defy this?
Never mind that they have not been found guilty of anything in a Swedish Court yet. The best reason I can come up with is that she is saying this because she got paid to do so. Even so, it is an awful statement and those kind of practices does not belong in a democracy.

Only Lundstrom’s lawyer broke rank and pointed the finger at Gottfrid Svartholm Varg as he (allegedly) is one responsible for The Pirate Bay site if one had to be found. It is an conflict when you have more then person as defended in trial. Each lawyer needs to look after his client. In this case, I strongly believe that if they stand *united* the stronger they are. I have mentioned this before, this is a marathon and nothing is going to get won or lost at the first trial. This is where the parties put their cards on the table.

Set the date 17 April 09 at 11am, the Court will publish their judgment.