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Richard Kadrey - a Sci-fi Author with Sense

emoticon:lighton Well, there is some controversy about making classic works available online. Google are getting into a load of trouble anyway.

Thankfully some authors have good sense, Richard Kadrey has given his blessing to Metrophage online at Voidspace - which is very cool... Smile

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Posted by Fuzzyman on 2007-06-07 21:32:22 | |
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The Further Adventures of Idiots Inc: LloydsTSB

emoticon:restart Whilst we are on the subject of idiot corporations that waste their customers' time, a brief mention of my dalliance with Lloyds TSB over the weekend.

They are another large company who hold firmly to the tradition that no effort is too great to annoy a customer, so I shouldn't be surprised.

Earlier this year I bought a laptop using a 'buy now, pay later' scheme. This is effectively a loan, where you pay no interest if you pay for the goods before a set date. I now have the money for the laptop, so I phoned the credit company to pay them with my debit card.

The transaction was declined, and the lady I spoke to said that they often have this problem with Lloyds because their payment processing system is internet based, and the transactions sometimes get blocked as potentially fraudulent.

I duly phoned Lloyds (another annoying 0845 number - but I bypassed it by phoning their overseas department - which has an ordinary landline number - and getting them to transfer me). After answering about 187 security questions (which I grudgingly acknowledge is for my own good), the customer disservice drone informed me that the transaction had been declined because the credit company was using the wrong address.

At least that seemed easy to rectify, so I phoned back to check. Guess what, they were using the correct address. We tried again and the transaction was declined again. sigh

At this point my mobile phone battery gave up the ghost, along with my patience, and I have to start jumping through the same hoops again today... Mad

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Posted by Fuzzyman on 2007-06-04 13:01:07 | |


Virginmedia Gets it Worse than Wrong

emoticon:newspaper A couple of weeks ago I blogged about how Virginmedia hates their customers, because they steadfastly ignored my pleas for help via their web-form.

Today (nearly three weeks after the request for help), I got a reply! The summary of my request, was that I wanted to upgrade my service and didn't have all the necessary information. I don't have a landline and their customer service line is an 0845 one that is very expensive to call from a mobile. I put all this in the form, and asked that someone phone or email me to help.

Today I got the following reply:

Thanks for your email to Virgin Media about upgrading your services.

If you want to upgrade your services you can call customer services for free from any virgin landline on 150 or 0845 454 1111.

This email even contains my original request, stating that I didn't want to phone them, proving that the person who sent this email couldn't even be bothered to read what I had written... Idiots. Razz

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Posted by Fuzzyman on 2007-06-04 12:56:26 | |
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UK Population and Migration Statistics

emoticon:firefox One of the things I do at the Jesus Centre is to arrange our annual snapshot survey. We've done two now, for one week asking all of our visitors to answer a few simple questions about their age, background and which services they use.

One of the aims of the snapshot survey is to see how effective the Jesus Centre is at reaching the ethnic minority [1] population in Northampton.

The figures from 2006 were very encouraging. The numbers visiting the Jesus Centre were roughly the same as last year, this was despite us deciding that services in the 'Step Up' [2] were over-stretched and that we would actually be able to help people more if we had fewer visitors. Particularly encouraging was a more than 100% increase in the number of people using our other [3] services and activities, which was nice for me as organising the groups we run is one of my responsibilities.

Over the last few years, the UK has seen a great deal of immigration: both asylum seekers from very difficult backgrounds and economic migrants from the new EU countries. Since the last round of EU expansion (from Poland in particular) a large number of new people have arrived. This has caused something of a stir (as if our generation was the first to see wide-spread immigration), but in fact a large number of people are also migrating out of Britain each year.

At the Jesus Centre we want to know if the number of non-UK visitors we have is representative of the population in Northampton. Unfortunately, the only data we could find were the 2001 Census figures. A large proportion of the population changes have occurred since the census, so I started looking for more up to date figures.

Uhm... except I couldn't find any. I did find a Northamptonshire local authorities 2005 Study of Black and Minority Ethnic Housing Support Needs (PDF). It uses the 2001 census figures (although it does provide interesting information about the Northampton Gypsy and traveller community - around one third of all traveller caravans in the East Midlands are in Northamptonshire).

So as far as I can tell, after several years of controversial immigration, the most up to date central information about the UK population dates back to 2001...

The home office recognises this, and this year started a new initiative to rectify this: Improving Migration and Population Statistics Project (IMPS).

This involves case studies of bringing in data from a range of sources, carried out in several cities in the UK. Data sources include:

and so on...

So, if IMPS is put into general practise, then we might have better information some time; but for the moment the best we can do is use the 2001 information. Luckily that shows that we are fantastic at reaching the non-UK population of Northampton - but comparing with some real data would be useful. Wink

[1]For some definition of 'ethnic'...
[2]Our drop-in facility for the homeless.
[3]By 'other', I mean excluding the step-up, Circle Cafe and info desk.

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Posted by Fuzzyman on 2007-06-03 23:51:07 | |
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The Old Blog Archives

There was so much ancient wisdom distilled into my old blog, that I couldn't let it just creep ignominiously into the pages of cyber-history. More to the point I'm still getting some hits from google with the old entries. Here are the archives of my previous Blogger based blog.

The Old Voidspace BlogThe Old Techie Blog

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