On the ‘free banking myth’

May 24th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Free banking. There is no such thing. It’s more akin to the NHS – free at the point of use.


Free banking is “a dangerous myth”, according a top Bank of England official.

The comments come from Andrew Bailey, who is due to become the chief regulator of the financial services industry in July.

He says customers may think their account is free, but the true costs are actually hidden.

Those hidden costs would include the extremely low interest rate that many banks offer on current accounts.

Due to the nature of a current account, it should be free. A current account is not for saving, it’s not an investment, it isn’t money for taking risks with. It is an account for doing daily business with.

So much of our daily financial transactions are electronic that without a current account you’re practically outside society without one. It is one of those things that, without one, so many things are shut off.

Businesses and banks, for decades have been pushing people to get accounts. How many people get paid in cash, in an envelope at the end of the week or month? Not a part jobs, in pubs or whatever, but proper 40 hour a week jobs? I couldn’t get paid in cash even if I wanted to, and practically nobody else could either. So if I’m not allowed to be paid in cash, why should I have to pay a bank to be able to receive my wages?

If I overdraw, fair enough, I should have to pay a penalty. The cost should be may seem high, £25 for a computer generated letter telling me I have no money may feel rather insulting, but then I can do several things: Sort myself out so I don’t overdraw; get an agreed overdraft which would cost a lot less or; move to a bank that charges less for a letter. To be charged for being able to access and manage my money when I have no choice, that is the real insult.

“In short, I think that the reform of retail banking in this country cannot move ahead unless we tackle the issue of free in-credit banking, and have a much better sense of what we are paying for and how we are paying,” Mr Bailey said in a speech.

You want me to have the account. As long as I’m only using my money, you take the cost of it.

He said the situation also made it difficult for banks to understand the cost of the services they provide, which may have contributed to the mis-selling of financial products.

Between them, Barclays, Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC are currently paying about £9bn in compensation for mis-selling loan insurance.

“I worry also that this unclear picture may have encouraged the mis-selling of products that is now causing so much trouble,” Mr Bailey said.

It’s difficult for the provider of a virtually madatory service to understand it’s cost? Aw, diddums. Is there anything these fucking wankers do understand? Most of them cunts in The City don’t understand half of the products they trade. Selling debt and other stuff in ways that are so fucking difficult to understand they didn’t realise how fucked the whole system is until it all came crashing down on top of them, and us.

If you don’t understand what you’re doing, you’re doing it wrong.

And it may have contributed to mis-selling? I don’t buy that for a fucking second. The mis-selling happened because they wanted to make money and to tell everyone they needed loan insurance was the easiest and quickest way they could make money. If they did it deliberately, they thought they could get away with it. If they didn’t do it deliberately, they obviously didn’t know what they were doing and shouldn’t have been doing it. Either way they were being cuntish. Fuck ’em.

However, Mr Bailey says it is a difficult situation for banks because the first one to start charging for accounts could lose significant amounts of business.

Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, BBC Business Editor Robert Peston said: “He’s saying you can’t leave it to the banks to clean-up their act in this way.”

We’ve learnt over the last few years that the banks can’t be left alone to do pretty much anything.

“That’s why he is saying – which I think is really pretty significant because this chap is replacing Hector Sands as the senior regulator in the City of London – that either the regulators or the government actually have to intervene to end the myth of free banking.”

Charge me for having a savings account, ISA’s, being overdrawn or whatever, but start charging for current accounts, the banks can get to fuck.

Dear Sir. We’d quite like to sell you something.

May 23rd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

An email plopped through my inbox today. From a sales bod hoping to get a lead and make some sales. Had he done some research futher than “ooh, they’re a big company, I could make a few quid outta them” he might’ve found out who he should’ve emailed. I gotta give him some due though, he did get my name, spelt correctly, even though I’m not an outward member of staff and should be quite hard to just pick out of nowhere.

I drafted an email in response and just as I was about to click the send button, I remembered, it’s my work email, so must be professional. So I got a second opinion. Unfortunately, that opinion enjoyed the sentiment but advised against sending it. So, rather than waste it, my email can sit here. Unsent and unloved. Languishing in this desolate place until er, this blog disappears.

Good Morning [my actual real name],

I hope you get a chance to read this short email.

I was hoping to arrange a brief meeting with you over the next few weeks in relation to cisco refurbished equipment.

To explain briefly, ****** are a Cisco Authorised Partner, offering businesses a broad range of New, Cisco Certified Refurbished Equipment, and Cisco SMARTnet support management services. ****** help organisations save between 15-20% off your Cisco purchase through the Cisco Certified Refurbished Equipment (CCRE) program.

We already provide equipment to customers in the most demanding environments such as the ****** ***** ********, and the intensive care unit at ******** ***** and ***** NHS Trust.
Cisco Certified Refurbished Equipment is also used in the telecommunications networks of BT and Cable & Wireless.

Some key points on ******:

  • Have confidence in your network. All products are certified and refurbished to Cisco specifications, supported and warranted same as new product.
  • Protect your budget. Competitive pricing, no hidden costs, and financing available to overcome your budget constraints.
  • Protect and maintain your network. Support your legacy network needs from our comprehensive inventory of current and discontinued Cisco products.
  • Protect your business. Same-as-new warranty protection plus hardware and software support options for 24-hour support enable you to focus on your business, not your network.
  • Fulfilment. Same day PO shipping possible.
  • Financing. Available through Cisco Capital.

A quote from one of our customers – “Two years on and we have received hundreds of units from ******, and we haven’t had a single faulty unit or live failure. The savings we have made combined with the shorter lead time between signing a customer and getting their services live has really propelled our business. ****** always go the extra mile to deliver on their promises, so we can on ours.”

Would Thursday, the 14th of June or Wednesday the 20th of May suit to meet for an introductory meeting? If June would be more suitable, just let me know and we can schedule to suit your diary.

I look forward to hearing from you and thanks in advance.

Kind regards,

Sales Bod


Hi Sales Bod,

Thank you for your email and the brief outline of your company.

Unfortunately we have just entered into a contract to replace our aging IT system. The Commodore 64’s we currently employ are frankly, just not up to the job in this modern world and the sound of the programs loading from the cassette doesn’t do Ethel, the tea lady, any good at all. Nothing gets done between 10.15 and 10.30 as that is when Ethel does her round and we have to stop what we’re doing. The high pitched “beeee. burrrrrrrrrr. Weeewoooweeewoooo” sound completely incapacitates her and Geofrey, our cleaner, struggles to remove the stains from the carpet. It has been suggested ear plugs may solve the problem, but we can’t work out where on the computer or cassete player we would put them.

We are very excited about our new hardware as the Commodore Amiga 1000 will finally allow us to ‘go cyber’ at last. I hear there are dozens of pages on this new World Wide Web. I am looking foward to seeing the art of one of these modern performance artists that goes by the name of Goatse. You should look him up, it’s all very surreal and cutting edge and not too dissimilar to sword swallowing, I’m told.

I would like to meet you for a cup of tea and introduce you to Ethels’ belgian buns, but I am out of the country on 14th June. I am visiting Columbia to see how we can help some very nice chaps expand their business within the UK. It’s a very unusual product – white snuff. I don’t use it myself, but I’m told it’s very good so should go down well here where I’m told there is a bit of a revival in the snuff market, especially in ‘The City’.

A meeting on 20th May sounds ideal as I cleared my calendar of all appointments very recently but alas, our time and relative dimension in space machine has developed an unexpected fault and will only work in a horizontal plane, through dimensions, and refuses to traverse through time. We have called America Onlines’ support desk numerous times but all they suggest is to shut it down and reboot it and to check that the tesla machines’ polarity is correct. Goerge, our maintanence man, has had a look and says he doesn’t know if it is correctly wired or not, on account of being colour blind. I’m sure he isn’t, I think he’s just lazy. We only keep him on because he came with the building and for someone with only one arm, he’s surprisingly nibble at playing the accordian which always goes down a scream at the company Christmas parties.

We’re hoping to have our time and relative dimesion in space machine working soon though, as only this morning we sent Janet, the YTS lad, down to our local computer shop to pick up a copy of Windows 95 as the problem really started when we upgraded the Flux capacitor and I don’t think Windows 3.1 is compatible. What a marvellous company this Microsoft is. Just imagine what that Bill Gates chap could do if he really knuckled down and applied his mind to something useful, eh?

Chin Chin

Mike Hunt

On Klout

May 18th, 2012 § 3 comments § permalink

You’ve probably heard of Klout. It measures social media influence, using Twitter, Facebook, linkdin as other social media site. For select people with big Klout scores brands can give ‘perks’ like laptops, cinema preview screenings, flights and other stuff.

There’s also a down side that affects people negatively, even people that have never heard of Klout and what it’s about…

Last spring Sam Fiorella was recruited for a VP position at a large Toronto marketing agency. With 15 years of experience consulting for major brands like AOL, Ford, and Kraft, Fiorella felt confident in his qualifications. But midway through the interview, he was caught off guard when his interviewer asked him for his Klout score. Fiorella hesitated awkwardly before confessing that he had no idea what a Klout score was.
The interviewer pulled up the web page for Klout.com—a service that purports to measure users’ online influence on a scale from 1 to 100—and angled the monitor so that Fiorella could see the humbling result for himself: His score was 34. “He cut the interview short pretty soon after that,” Fiorella says. Later he learned that he’d been eliminated as a candidate specifically because his Klout score was too low. “They hired a guy whose score was 67.”

All their data comes, not only from the accounts that have actively signed up to Klout, but from everyone using social media. If you haven’t signed up to Klout they will still trawl all your public data. It’s public. That’s fine. They need that data to put together their scores. It’s public, anyone can see that data and use it how ever they want.

The problem comes because everyone has a Klout profile. Even if you’ve never heard of Klout, you still have a Klout profile and so a Klout score. If you’ve not signed up to them and they only have your public data to go by, your score is going to be pretty low and so are potentially risking what happened to the guy in the quote above. And that’s pretty shitty.

You’re basically in a competing in something when you didn’t know you’re in a competition.

I say everyone has a Kluot profile, but that’s not strictly true. You can, of course opt-out of Klout, but how can you opt-out of something you’ve never heard of? The obvious answer is, you can’t.

Here’s what Klout say about why people that have never registered for Klout have a profile

I have never registered for Klout, why do I have a Klout profile?

Klout collects public data in order to accurately measure influence. Users can control the data available to Klout by changing the privacy setting on individual networks. Klout will never access your private data unless we have explicit permission.

That doesn’t really answer the question, does it? That ‘answer’ explains why data is collected and how a user can control what data is collected, but the question is asking about a non-user. A non-user shouldn’t have a profile. All sorts of websites collects data from non-user, for various reasons, but non of them creates a profile, or the one or two that I can think of do not do so for the explicit reason of rating you in a popularity contest you want nothing to do with or know nothing about.

Oh, I nearly forgot, there is that opt-out option, if you know about Klout.

Opting-out is an option, but as Klout is all about collecting as much data as possible, the link to opt-out is hidden amongst they privacy statement. It would be nice to have it on their front page. Nothing to big, just a link down the bottom with their T’s & C’s and their other links to thier blog and ‘about’ page.

And of course to opt-out you need to tell them who you are and what profiles on what networks are yours. To opt-out, you have to give them the information they want if you were signing up to them.

Do I opt-out, giving them what they want, or do I carry on ignoring them and hope I’m not one of the unlucky suckers? I reckon, I’ll keep my head down and not actively put myself on their radar one way or another. After all, It won’t happen to me. Will it?

To the solution.

Klout collects data on everyone. That’s fine as all their data is from public sources, but why does everyone (unless opted-out) have to have a Klout profile? Surely a better way of going about things would be to only give people that have actively signed up to the what-ever-it-is-Klout-is (Service? Network? Popularity contest?) a profile? for everyone else, when their name, profile is checked by another user, give a ‘profile not known’ or ‘this user doesn’t seem to have registered’ message. That way people that aren’t aware of or don’t want to take part in the contest aren’t unfairly judged by doing badly in it.

It would also give Klout a boost by not getting bad press for fucking people over in the style above. Everyone really would be a winner.

You can opt-out of Klout here.

Bishop Dr John Sentamu talking shit about gay marriage. Again.

May 17th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

The Bishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, is showing what a dick he is. Again.

The Dr is trying to say what a travesty gay marriage will be but doesn’t quite make any decent arguement against it, as expected.

Dr Sentamu writes that homosexual couples should enjoy complete equality with heterosexuals but argues that this does not mean redefining marriage.

Not quite complete equality, then.

He explains: “Up to now, the only reason I have been given for a desire to redefine marriage to embrace same-sex relationships is that it meets an emotional need of some same-sex couples (only some, as I have forcefully been led to believe some reject the concept of marriage altogether).

And what is wrong with that? Marriage meets an emotional need in everybody Nobody needs to get married. Unmarried couples can do everything married couples can, it is only the state and the church that makes people want to get marrried by giving them certain rights. Why shouldn’t gay couples that want to be together for ever have those same rights?

Just because some gay people reject marriage should not be a reason to deny those rights to those that do want to get married. There are lots of heterosexual couple that reject marriage as well. By the bishops’ logic we should remove the rights and privileges of marriage from heterosexual marriage.

This little bit of bollox is trying to clear up his views from an interview he did for the Telegraph in January.

“Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman,” says Dr Sentamu. “I don’t think it is the role of the state to define what marriage is. It is set in tradition and history and you can’t just [change it] overnight, no matter how powerful you are.

So… If it’s not the role of the state to define marriage, then I wonder who’s job, the bishop, thinks it is? It wouldn’t be the church’s, would it? As for history and tradition, there’s plenty of evidence that the definition has been rather fluid. Here’s George Monbiot on it for starters.

“We’ve seen dictators do it in different contexts and I don’t want to redefine very clear social structures that have been in existence for a long time and then overnight the state believes it could go in a particular way.

This appeal to try and link homosexual rights to the whims of a dictator is just a load of wank. For a start, we don’t live in a dictatorship, and by no stretch of the imagination is it going to turn in one anytime some. It’s just bollox to scare people into thinking if we let the gays marry, the end of the world will soon follow.

Marriage is just a word. If homosexual couples have the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples then what is the fucking problem in calling both statuses ‘marriage’?

Once again, the church is in fear of it’s privileged position of power ond control, and it doesn’t like it.

Trucks are not responsible for every cyclist that gets killed.

May 13th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

*Why* should there be blind spots, and *why* should cyclists even have to keep themselves out of them? This is an utter disaster

I’m guessing the “utter disaster”refers to an accident, so we’ll leave that as I don’t know the accident and so can’t comment on it. The rest of the tweet is the sort of attitude that gets cyclists killed and lorry drivers unfairly blamed.

I feel I’ve quite a rounded experience of the roads. I’ve driven trucks. I’m also a cyclist. I don’t have the experience of cycling in a major city like London but I’ve still done my share of miles on all sorts of roads. Just for the record, I also drive a car and ride motorbikes, although I’ve not done the latter for a few years now.

Taking the first part of the tweet: Why should trucks have blind spots?

Well, the simple answer is, they shouldn’t really. The law stipulates that trucks have a minimum number of mirrors and the area of coverage they give.

The following image (from here) is the best I could find to simply show what mirrors have to be fitted to UK trucks. Oh, click to enlarge any of the following images…

In the UK though, the Class V kerb mirror should be on the kerbside, the left of the truck.

What do all those mirrors mean?

The Class II main mirror has the following field of vision. On a rigid vehicle it is a Class III, with a slightly different field of vision but the end result is essentially the same.

The Class IV wide angle mirrors shows the following…

The Class V kerb mirror and Class VI front mirror have the following fields of vision…

And what sort of coverage does all that add up to?

Pretty comprehensive, wouldn’t you agree? There is no mirror coverage directly outside the cab on the drivers side as the driver doesn’t need a mirror to see that area and the tiny gap twix the kerb mirror and the rear view mirrors on the nearside of the vehicle doesn’t, in reality, exist. If any of those mirrors are broken or missing, it’s not just a case of it not passing it’s equivalent of the MOT, but the VOSA, and the police, could issue a GV9 there and then at the roadside. A GV9 prevents the vehicle from being moved until the fault has been rectified. A car driver would just be told to get it fixed as soon as possible.

It would’ve been nice to have front mirrors required to be retro-fitted to existing vehicles too, not just new vehicles, but as older vehicles wouldn’t have mounting brackets and would require quite a bit of work to do, it is arguably not practical. It would be opening a right can of worms with operators and such risking more dangers by bodging the mirrors on.

In 2009 a new specification of mirrors gave the coverage shown above. All trucks registered after the year 2000 had to be fitted with them. Not just new, every truck on the road had to have these new mirrors. The front mirror was introduced on new trucks from 2007.

This image shows the coverage of the old mirrors versus the new mirrors. The yellow is the old style and the orange (is it orange?) colour is the new…

Those images are from somewhere on this site.

There you go then. All the mirrors overlap in their field of vision, which wasn’t the case before 2009, and the field of vision provided by the mirrors has been improved greatly. The only real, unavoidable blindspot is directly behind the truck and that is taken care of by responsible truck operators with camera systems with a monitor in the cab that switch on when the vehicle engages reverse gear. These modern camera systems even have microphones. Some operators even fit cameras to the sides of vehicles, although that is most common on municipal vehicles with side loading mechanisms.

Now we know that there are no blindspots on a truck the second part of that tweet, “*why* should cyclists even have to keep themselves out of them?” could be rephrased. Maybe to something like “Why should cyclists be wary of something that could kill them without even knowing about it?”, which pretty much answers itself.

When I was learning to drive a car, my instructed gave me two pieces of advice: to treat every other road user like an idiot, like they don’t know what they’re doing and so will be unpredictable and ; lorries have the right of weight. Both pieces have, on occasion, saved my bacon.

The problem comes not through blind spots but from the truck driver only having one pair of eyes. It doesn’t matter how many screens or mirrors a truck is fitted with, the driver can only look in one direction at a time.

Again, when I learnt to drive a truck, my instructor drilled it into me to use the mirrors all the time. When you put it in gear, when you release the park brake, not just before you indicate but when you think about manoeuvring. When you speed up, when you slow down. You use the mirrors to check your positioning on the road, to help you gauge how far from the kerb you are. All the time your head is sweeping left to right and back again. When I started I wondered how the buggery I was supposed to find time to look forward!

Even with a fully aware driver, a bike can nip into where the truck is going without the driver spotting it.

What it comes down to is being aware how other vehicles on the road behave. Articulated trucks don’t follow the same line through roundabouts as cars, for instance.

Why would you not give something that size a bit of space and patience? Not every accident involving a bike and a lorry is the fault of the lorry driver.

As a cyclist, you are ultimately responsible for your own safety, just like every other road user is. Yes, other road users also have a responsibility not to kill you, but ride like a dick and you’re gonna get hurt.

Learn about how trucks need to navigate the roads and give them a bit of space. It could save your life.

If you really want to read the legislation on truck mirrors it’s here, here, here and here.

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