Archive for the ‘Rant’ category

Goodbye 123 Reg

June 7th, 2007

If you have read my blog for a while you will know that I have had the odd problem with 123 Reg over time.

Well, today one of the domains has been returning partial record to several ISPs (again) and email is being bounced at a time when we really could do without the hassle. I have already moved the critical domain hosting to another server, but with this continuing to happen I will be moving all of my domains and the companies domains to another supplier over the next few weeks.

Unlimited Yahoo mail, but sadly not for me

March 28th, 2007

First some good news… Yahoo are removing the storage limits on there mail service More information can be found here.

Now the bad news… Many years ago I was a happy RocketMail user. When Yahoo purchased the service you were forced to merge your RocketMail account with your Yahoo account. I was okay with this at the time and kept my RocketMail address. Sadly my RocketMail email address expired when I did not log in to if for a while, and because it is a RocketMail address it can not be reactivated. What is worse is that I can not recover or get another address without getting a whole new account.

Creating a new account is not a sensible solution for me because I use my Yahoo login for many things including Yahoo Groups, Flickr and Upcoming. The hassle and cost of finding a new username and moving across is just not worth it.

Sadly there is no other solution available. Yahoo have never returned a support query regarding the issue. I did ask a couple of Yahoo employees what the crack was and although they knew of the issue they did not know of a solution. My guess is that this is an outdated policy put in place to help the Yahoo brand, but it had adversely affected many people and damaged the Yahoo brand, so why it is still in place I don’t know.

I must say that it has only been recently while conversing with various Yahoo UK employees that have I started to forgive the company, but it is still not fully trust the brand as a direct result of the whole thing.

Did I miss the fuel tax hike?

March 22nd, 2007

…and the answer is no, I did not miss it because it did not happen. Sorry, yes, it’s another general rant coming on.

The tax on fuel has in fact been frozen until October where it will go up 2p per litre that is not far off inflation. So why did the petrol prices go up just after the budget? Probably the same reason why they went up last time (when the tax did not change at all), that reason being marketing and spin.

People seem to believe that if a price rise is announced in the budget that it will automatically come in to force at 6pm. This means that if a petrol station put the prices up then people presume it is because of the budget and not because the petrol companies have raised the price. Well that is my explanation.

Don’t get me wrong, the petrol companies are entitled to raise the price if they want to, and hiding the rise by using the budget is perfectly legal, but as consumers let’s not be taken in by the smoke and mirrors.

Power to the Patient, but not Patient Power

March 17th, 2007

In year 2000 the Government made a commitment in the NHS Plan to provide a personal bedside television, radio and telephone services in major English hospitals by the end of 2004. This “Patient Power Programme” was to be funded by the private sector and paid for by users.

On the face of it this may not sound a bad thing. The hospitals would same money by not needing to maintain the old audio headset systems. No more having to wheel patients to phones or phones to patients, or pass on massages. Also the patient does not have to share a TV with the ward and has access to many more TV and radio stations, as well as there own phone.

Sadly though, in my opinion, things are not as rosy as they at first seem. My big issues is that for the patient normally looses out. To use the service you have to pay, and it is not cheep. Making calls is normally reasonable when compared with most payphones, but to call in to the patient is extortionate, costing more than most international calls.

What is worse the other options have been taken away. The TV sets that were available in the wards, often paid for by donations, are gone. The portable phones have gone and payphones have have decreased in some hospitals. The real killer is that all the hospitals that allowed a patient to bring in there own portable TVs and radios have had to ban them as part of the agreement with the patient power supplier.

I will also add that I believe the patient power solutions business plans are floored. Most patients are elderly or in for a short period of time. This means that the customer base who are more likely to purchase there product is small. This has, in part, been proved correct as the number of suppliers are declining, and pulling out of hospitals leaving them with nothing.

There are more problems on the horizon as well. Although I do not have access to the accounts of patient power companies I would imagine that most of the profit come form the incoming telephone calls. Recently a report has been published stating that mobile phones are safe to use in hospitals (warning: horrendous simplification) and hospitals are being pushed to lift mobile bans. More information here and here.

Personally the last thing I want is to share a ward with people waffling on the phone all the day, but that can already happen with the patient power system, and with some common sense rules irritation can be minimised.

It appears that many now share my opinion as the share price of the patient power companies has been falling, but after the mobile report a sudden raise happened. On the face of it this may not make sense, but it was actually the result of a “Pump and Dump” conducted on the Internet. This is when positive things are published and leaked to make people want to purchase shares, other lemmings see the rise and buy as well, the person instigating the pump and dump then sellers there shares at the inflated price, and then people wake up with empty pockets. There is an article on Times Online about the insolent.

The following was the email that was sent to people on the Internet, including myself through me media related email addresses. It is not worth reading, I only publish it here so search engines can pick up on it. Remember that Patient line knew nothing about this, just one of the shareholders who wanted to sell up.


Patientline’s mission is to be the UK market leader in the provision of bedside systems in acute hospitals, offering communication, entertainment, information and healthcare services for patients, clinicians, administrators and other users.

Products and services

The Patientline systems include a terminal at each bed. These provide telephone, television and radio and in most hospitals, internet, gaming and email services. The systems can also provide additional hospital based services such as electronic patient records and food ordering functionality.

A large audience, nationwide coverage and a wide range of advertising options makes Patientline the ideal choice for advertisers.With a TV and telephone at bedsides in over 155 NHS hospitals Patientline can offer advertisers the chance to communicate directly to the patient using the television whilst also providing a strong call to action via the telephone.

+ Over 75,000 bedside TVs and telephones
+ Potential annual audience of 8 million
* Nationwide coverage (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland)
+ Over 155 NHS hospitals offer Patientline services

The company offers the really necessary service.Any man or women, who will ever get in a hospital will be happy to use the services of the company.The company found an absolutely new direction of business. No doubts that it will come to success in the nearest time.

Company price for 14 March 07 is 1.85p per share.
Call your broker today if you are interested.
At the london stock exchange company stock symbol is PTL.L
Buy it now and get benefits tomorrow.

So what do I think they should be doing. Well my opinion is that they should be giving away free TV to get people using the systems and at least have a passing chance of getting passing trade. Personally I believe that public service TV (BBC & CH4) should be free, but even if it was only BBC2 and News24 there is at least something to watch and get people use to using the hardware. Free radio is just not enough.

The high call charges to call in to a bed is also foolish. Reducing the cost will loose a huge income form families who need to call granny every week, but will increase the use of the system by people, including the number of grannies called every day. This is more relevant now where the companies will need to compete with mobile phones.

The registration process of the systems is also a really big problem. You can not get most systems to do anything without calling up and giving personal information. This is stupid! Most hospitals have people going round helping with this, but it is a real turn off for people. Just have the free services and incoming calls (on systems that have one number per bed) active at all times, and any request minimal information that is needed when information is needed.

Finally I strongly recommend thinking about the customer more and service then. Failure to do this was personified in a discussion that I have with someone from one of the patient power companies. I pointed out that most people in a ward had pushed the screens away because they did not work [without the hassle of registration] and that people who were there for a while had brought in there own TVs. The response was that they should not have personal TVs and they should be removed. I did not respond by saying YOU ARE A SELFISH AND SHORT SIGHTED *** WHO WOULD RATHER MAKE MONEY OUT OF THE ILL BY CREATING A MONOPOLY RATHER THAN SUPPLY A GOOD AND COMPETITIVE PRODUCT, but I felt like it.

To close I strongly recommend not investing in patient power services, I certainly will not until the business models change to something that will form a sustainable business. Sorry for the rant, it has been coming for a while.

Update: Courtesy of the BBC I have uploaded a report about Patientline broadcast on Look North in 2006.

Another Update: Patientline have now decided to dramatically raise the cost of calls in and out of Hospitals. More information is on the BBC News web site.

Goodbye Egg Card

March 12th, 2007

Today is a momentous day, today is the day that I will officially be retiring my egg card. I have blogged about the reasons before, but in summery the card was being suspended twice a month because my expected spending pattern had changed, and there is no way to change the expected spending pattern other than continue to use it, have it rejected in the supermarket, and then call them up for an unspecified period of time.

I gave them a few months an every opportunity for Egg to address the issue, but after 7 cancellations they were unable to do so.

The one this that really peed me off was on one occasion I was waiting for a call back and it did not come. When I chased up this the notes on the computer said that the supervisor did not bother calling as there was nothing they could do.

My new card, that I found through Martin Lewis’s web site, is working well and today the first payment went automatically from my bank account without insolent. So my advice is if you have have problems with you credit card company just switch.

Please include your email address

March 12th, 2007

If you are sending a CV to a IT related company for any position please remember to include an email address. You will find out quicker if a position is available that you are being be considered for, and you are less likely to be considered if you don’t. I have just rejected another speculative CV and will not be writing to them by post, while I would quite happily sent an email.

Also, while I am on the subject, at least check the company web site before sending a speculative CV, or a requested CV for that matter. I am always happy to receive them, but if you are applying for the position of a VDU operator then save a stamp.

This advice is relevant for all tech employers as far as I am concerned, but if you are considering sending a CV to me check out this page first, especially if you are an agency.

New Travelline number

March 3rd, 2007

In Tyneside we had a great travel information service on the end of a local telephone number. Next came the national travel line number “0870 608 2608”. This number is changed at a “national rate”, and because it was an 0870 it is not included in most discounted and free call plans. It costs a fortune from my mobile.

After reading an article on the Nexus* web site I learned that the number will be changing to “0871 200 22 33”. This is more expensive still and will not be accessible on some phones where premium rate numbers are blocked.

The number is being changed because “The change to the telephone number was prompted by Ofcom (The Government’s Office of Communications) making changes to the way 0870 numbers are priced.”, or in English “We are making money from the calls you are making to the public service and need to change the number to continue to do so”.

Now the good news. Most 0845, 0870 and 0871 numbers are mapped to a normal telephone number. These numbers are collated by Say No To 0870 and are searchable on there web site. You will need to check for your local number, but in Tyneside I now only need to call 0191 244 5695 and pay no more than the local call charge.

* Nexus is essentially the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive.

February 12th, 2007

Just a personal piece of advice not to use I have just received some email from them with some discount, but I would not touch them with a barge pole.

The reason why is that a while ago I needed a service to do various email spam and virus scanning and forwarding tasks after an ISP we were using ( were having problems. I called up to confirm that the service offered could do the tasks required. The guy on the sales line checked with the technical guy, and I was told that there service would do what I needed, so I went ahead and ordered the service and paid a little extra for support.

When it came to setting up the service I could not figure out how to do it and contacted the support service. I was told (eventually) that the service could not in fact scan an email and froward it on as required. When I complained I was told that the person I asked about the service misunderstood the requirement and had asked the technical guy the wrong question.

As they had admitted they had given me incorrect information before I took out the service, and that they admitted that it was a communication problem between there employees that caused this, I asked for a refund. I was told that refunds are not given but I could contact the owner, that I did, and did not get a response.

Sadly I am not alone in experiencing bad service. More bad reviews can be found on

Update: After this blog entry I eventually for a businesslike response from Paul Hughes, only 13 months late, stating that they welcome comments positive or negative. No refund though. :-)

123-reg ARE having problems

January 31st, 2007

Following this report on The Register web site about (now a Pipex company) I felt I had to blog something.

Both my company and I use the service for most of our “.uk” domain name hosting. The email is a recurring problem and as a result we no longer use the email forwarding. This is a complaint that other 123-reg customers I know have complained about as well.

Another interesting “Quirk” is that occasionally, but very occasionally, returns an incomplete DNS record when an name-server is queried. This is a big problem when it happens it leads to one or more people unable to send through email for a 24 hour period. This has happened at least twice, once affecting another 123-reg customer, and I suspect this has caused other issues in the past.

On one occasion, just after one of these “Quirks”, the settings form one of the domains was reset to the 123-reg defaults and completely blank address information submitted to Nominet.

The thing that really annoyed me was when 123-reg had a problem I notified support, 6 days later I received an email stating that “Your website now appears to be fine. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require further assistance”. In fairness the web site was fine, primarily because I got sick of waiting and moved it away from there servers.

We are still a 123-reg customer, but now host all the important domains on our own servers. We will soon be reviewing the situation as they have had time to solve the problem, but have not even acknowledged the problem. My hope is that they do acknowledge the problem, publicly apologise, and fix it. When it works it is a good service and a good price but at the moment I can not recommend using them.

Update: At least they are now recognising some problems according to this article.

Friends Reunited, another site for the naughty list

January 22nd, 2007

Just a quick warning that if you are considering taking out membership of Friends Reunited that the £7.50 only buys you 6 months instead of the original 12.

I took out membership to contact friend who contact me but did not realise that if they did not include there email address in the message I would have to pay to reply. This I can just about cope with, and I can just about cope with the price increase that is just over my comfort level for squandering on a web service, but in my mind the way the that the 12 months has just been halved and all references to the duration bar one not changed but removed from the site is dishonest.

In reality I do not need membership for 12 months but I do feel strongly that I have been conned never the less, and this is not what ITV should be doing to revive the web service. More information about this is on the Guardian Unlimited web site here and here where free registration is required.

Finally if you would like to contact someone through Friends Reunited in the next few days, don’t take out membership, just ask me to pass on you email address for free.