Thursday, December 20, 2007

Don't believe the hype (Eircom still sucks).

I had great hopes for Eircom lately. A new ownership together with new management seemed to herald a fresh wind.
Not so unfortunatly, like a new government but the same civil servant body Eircom is still manned by the same bunch of stoopid idiots that have been there for years.

Proof: I recently moved house. Both my the lines in my previous and new residence are on the same exchange. I know this for a fact as it's the only exchange in a 10 mile radius. My provider in the previous residence was UTV. I contacted them a week before the move and requested the line to be transfered to my new residence and that I wanted to keep my number. I was informed that this would be no problem.
One day before the move I received a call from an UTV respresentative informing me that the number could not be transfered because Eircom's automated system had refeused it as NOT being on the same exchange. I told the UTV rep that this was complete nonsense and he agreed to put the request in again. Two days later he called me back and informed me that the request had been refused by Eircom with the same excuse.
This pissed me off no end so I pulled out my "little black book" and called the local head of repairs for Eircom (I have his number from a previous time when there were huge ongoing problems with the local exchange). I told him my story and he confirmed that both lines are connected to the same exchange. He even told me that "sure, any eejit would know that".....
To help me he contacted one the person in charge of connections for this area who agreed. In fact he said that if they received a work-order they could transfer the number the same day.
I called UTV and gave them the names of these two guys and their contact numbers and told them to pass this information on to their Eircom contact. He told me that they only dealt with an automated system and had no contact details for a "real person" within Eircom. This does not surprise me as Eircom consistently tries to put as many layers between itself and it's customers.
Anyway, the UTV chap promised to escalate the issue to Eircom and to include all the information. I had a faint glimmer of hope that this would sort it.
No such luck. I was called by UTV today and told that Eircom had now refused the transfer because (apparently) the address was in a different county!!
This is an obvious load of nonsense.
Anyway they had informed UTV to ask me to cease the line in the old residence and to then get Eircom to activate the line in the new residence and to assign the (now free) number to this new line. Net result would be that I had my number, UTV was minus one customer and Eircom was plus 1 customer....
Being at the end of my tether I decided to try this. Well call me Shirley but the Eircom rep hardly needed any explanation and knew within seconds what to do. This leads me to believe that this is one of Eircom's un-official policies.
I will now probably have my number transfered within a week but Eircom have not heard the last of this as I have already referred this matter to Comreg.

P.S. Another interesting thing is that the line in the old residence stopped working within hours off me requesting it to be ceased but that it apparently takes two days before this registers on Eircom's systems...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Irish property market slowdown?

While driving around North Tipperary this morning I saw these two signs within a few mies of each other.
Personally I think they say more about the current state of the Irish property market than any statistics or analysis.

kick it on

Saturday, June 02, 2007

God's gift..

My brother-in-law and his wife told us today that they are expecting another child.
Apparently they "broke" the news to their other two kids by asking them "what they would think if god gave them another baby"....


kick it on

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

This is no joke...

Toshiba prototype 360-degree screen.
'nuf said.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Feckin' Ebay scammers...

I am on the lookout for a car and decided to have a look on Ebay as more and more cars are apprently being sold there.
I came across a very nice Volvo XC90 being offered for a very low price. It looked improbable to me but I decided to contact the seller anyway.
A few hours later I received this reply:

Thank you for your interest in my car. It is in perfect working condition. My experienced tech has fully checked out this car and gives it a special high rating. It has a CLEAR and CLEAN TITLE a great history and mechanically without any problems ever, safety check and pre-delivery inspection along with a fresh servicing before I ship or deliver the vehicle. The problem is that in the meanwhile I had to move with my family in Seville Spain where I got a new job as a construction engineer. I brought the car here with me with the intention of driving it but when I found out about the very high import duties and all the restrictions regarding registration and emissions tests here. I have made up my mind and decided to sell the vehicle. The price is final, 8850 euros shipping directly to your address included.We will make the deal via eBay and I will need your full name and shipping address to proceed.

I this point I wisely decided to not pursue this any further as it clearly reeked of a scam.
The next day I came across another car that got my interest; a nice 2003 Landrover Defender. Again I fired of an email to the seller asking for more details and a indication of the reserve.
Following is his/her reply:

The Defender is in perfect working condition.
My experienced Land Rover tech has fully checked out this car and gives it a special high rating has a CLEAN TITLE a great history and mechanically without any problems ever safety check and pre-delivery inspection along with a fresh servicing before I ship or deliver the vehicle.
The problem is that in the meanwhile I had to move with my family in Netherlands where I got a new job as a construction engineer.I brought the car here with me with the intention of driving it but when I found out about the very high import duties and all the restrictions regarding registration and emissions tests here I have made up my mind and decided to sell the vehicle.The amount you will have to pay in order to own this vehicle is £5,000 with shipping costs included!
Also, I take in consideration only those buyers who are really interested in buying the car,so be sure that I don't waste my time with endless discussions. This way, I shall be assured of your serious intentions. I only use eBay approved payment methods for this kind of transaction.
Let me know if you are still interested.

I am sure that you can hear the alarm bells ringing. Again a fairly new car being offered for a very low price and a similar story with only a few details changed. At this point I decided that it was time to have a bit of fun with this person.
I sent back the following message:

Will you give me a discount if I buy the Volvo XC-90 that you have advertised also?
Also which of the two vehicles is best suited for commuting from Spain to the Netherlands as you must do a fair bit of driving.

Regards, Idi Amin.

Surprisingly I did receive a reply

Hi again,
As I said in my first email the car is currently located in
Netherlands and it will be shipped from here by water.You will get
the car to the nearest port in your area and then it will be trucked
forward to your place.
Usually shipment takes maximum 10 days depending on your location
and will be fully insured against damages,shipped in a crated
container. Total price of the car including all shipping costs and
insurance all the way to your place is 5000 GBP.
The most important thing in all my activity here is that I am
affiliated with eBay where I have a purchase protection account for
20,000. eBay is the insurer of this transaction by using a certified
third party to insure that both parties comply to transaction

In order to notify eBay I will need buyer's full name and shipping
address so I can open a transaction case and they will contact you
for further details and instructions.


My reply was:


I want to purchase this vehicle.
How do I proceed?

Obviously he took the "bait"


If you are interested in buying the car please send me your full name and shipping address so I can open a case with ebay and declare you as buyer.As soon as I have your details I will ask ebay to contact you and let you know what you have to do regarding this sale.


A nice exchange continued:


You have my name already.
My address is: 69, Pog ma hone, Bangmyringasskiddy, Co. Leprechaun, Ireland.


To my amazement he did not question the ludicrous address:


Got your info and already sent it to eBay hoping they will contact you in a few minutes with all the details.
After you will hear from them please email me back because I need to know for sure if this is a done deal!

Hoping to hear from you soon,
Nice doing business with you.

I will just post the verbatim exchange below, replies from Mr. Albert Wagner are in italics and my messages are in bold.

Same here Albert.
It's an absolute pleasure doing business with you!

Please let me know if you got the eBay invoice?


No, I haven't.
Can you please follow this up for me.
I'm eager to buy the car and have the money waiting.


After this I received a fake (but very convincing) Ebay invoice. Shame that they used non-ebay email addresses as reply to..

The transaction must be completed as eBay has advised you in the payment confirmation.I already declared you as buyer and the transaction must be completed as they have advised.
Please let me know when you'll be able to make the payment so i can know when I should start the shipping process.



I just received the invoice.
I have friends in Amsterdam, can they collect the vehicle?

The transaction must be completed as eBay has advised you in the payment confirmation.I already declared you as buyer and the transaction must be completed as they have advised.
Please let me know when you'll be able to make the payment so i can know when I should start the shipping process.



I am a bit reluctant to pay the money to someone that I do not know via Western Union.
Is it safe?
How do I know who to send the money to and that you will get it?

This deal is 100% legit.As you can clearly see in the eBay invoice you are fully protected in this transaction.That's why I choosed to handle this deal trough ebay because they will guarantee for this transaction.
They will keep the money in a safe place until you receive and test the car.
In the eBay invoice you'll find all the steps that you need to complete the payment,also overthere you'll find my name and address,please let me know if you got them?
If not you can email to eBay and ask them to provide you further information at:

Please email me as soon as posible.


OK, the instructions that I received from Ebay tell me to pay via Western Union.
I've contacted my local Western Union office and they have asked me for the details of the receiver.
What details should I use?


Here you have the details that you should use as receiver:
Name: Albert Wagner
Address: Appolou 23 B,Amsterdam,1077,Netherlands

I thought eBay has already sent you this information.Please let me know when you have done the payment.
I have just one more request for you: when you will go to western union and wire the money, please don`t tell them that you send the money to buy a car , because they will ask us to pay additional high fees. We can avoit that if you can simply tell them that you send the money to a friend or a relative. I hope you understand and thank you in advance.

Regards !


I have just sent the payment.
How do we proceed from here?

You have to send the payment details to eBay at so they cand verify and inform me to start the shipping process.



I have just done that.


Did you've made the payment?I didn't receive any email from you?Did you've sent the details to eBay so they can verify and inform me to start the shipping?

Please email me as soon as posible.



I did all that over an hour ago and send you an email also.
Please confirm that everything is in order.


At this point the guy is entering in a feeding frenzy and gets really eager for me to transfer the money. His grammar and use of English also has me convinced that he is of African descesnt..

I've asked eBay if you did sent them the payment details and they said you did not sent any payment details????
What is this???Are you serious????
You have to send them the payment details(a scann paper of the receipt from western union) at so they can verify and inform me to start the shipping details.
Once again,please send the payment details to eBay if you really make it.



I did exactly as you instructed me.
I made the payment in your name at my local Western Union office and emailed all requested details to the email address provided.
Why are you pretending that I didn't?
You told me that this was an absolutely secure method.
Please respond ASAP.


I'm saying that you did not send the payment details to eBay because I did get in contact with them and they said you didn't send them the payment details????
Can you send me a scann paper of the receipt from Western Union so I can see that you really make it???

I decided to really mess with his head and went to the EbolaMonkeyman website and copied one of the Nigerian scam emails and send it to him..


I still want to purchase this vehicle however in order to be able to release the money to do so I need your assistance with a specific matter.Though I know that a transaction of this magnitude will make any one apprehensive and worried, but I am assuring you that all will be well at the end of the day. I am a Branch Manager at one of the standard trust bank Nigeria Plc,Lagos. A foreigner, Late Nicholas Owen, a Civil engineer/Contractor with the federal Government of Nigeria, until his death three years ago in a ghastly air crash, banked with us here at the standard bank plc,Lagos. He had a closing balance of USD$25.5M (Twenty five Million, Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars) which the bank now unquestionably expects to be claimed by any of his available foreign next of kin. Or,alternatively be donated to a discredited trust fund for arms and ammunition at a military war college here in Nigeria. Fervent valuable efforts made by the standard trust bank to get in touch with any of late Nicholas Owen_s next of kin (he had no wife and children)has been unsuccessful. The management under the influence of our chairman and board of directors, are making arrangement for the fund to be declared "UNCLAIMABLE " and then be subsequently donated to t! he trust fund for Arms and Ammunition which will further enhance the course of war in Africa and the world in general. In order to avert this negative development. Myself and some of my trusted colleagues in the bank, now seek for your permission to have you stand as late Nicholas Owen_s next of kin. So that the fund (USD$25.5M), would be subsequently transferred and paid into your bank account as the beneficiary next of kin through our overseas corresponding bank. All documents and proves to enable you get this fund have been carefully worked out and we are assuring you a 100% risk free involvement. Your share would be 30% of the total amount. While the rest would be for me and my colleagues for purchase of properties in your country through you/your Company. If this proposal is OK by you, then kindly supply me with the follwoing information so that we can expedite this transaction:


Looking forward to your reply,

Regards, Robert Mugabe.

I could almost hear his brain do a backflip!
His reply followed within minutes:

What is this email???Are you serious?
Please email me as soon as posible.


I am absolutely serious.
I am also emailing you as requested.
I will need to confirm your identity before I can proceed.
Will you please send me a picture of yourself?
In order to make sure that it is you I would like to you to hold up a sign with the words: "ILIKE THECUMOFSUMYUNGGUY".
That will be sufficient proof for me to proceed with the payment.
Please respond ASAP.


His reply is absolutely priceless....

you are a fucking scammer and I will report you to ebay and authorities.

There was only one more thing left to say:

F**k you monkeyboy!

Regards, The last king of Scotland.

Boy that was FUN!!!


kick it on

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A picture says more than a 1000 words..

Skype is great and I have been using it for years with almost no complaints at all.
However for those of you that conduct Skype video-calls that resolution seems to need some improvement. Now you can do this yourself!
Jaanus Kase has posted on the a "hack" on the Skype developer forum that will let you change your resolution to 640x480.

Disclaimer: I will not be responsible if this hack messes up your Skype install, your PC, network or lovelife...


kick it on

Monday, January 29, 2007

Broadband: yes please. Criticism: no thanks.

Apparently "Ireland Offline" (Irelands self-appointed broadband users lobby-group) can't take criticism.
Someone dared to ask them what their goals were and what they had achieved so far.
Now, in my opinion, that is a perfectly reasonable question for someone to ask.
IOFFl seems to think otherwise.
See here what ensued.
It is clear to me that IOFFL has been talking to a lot of people but that it has had very little effect. This seems to frustrate it's members a lot and they seem to refuse to admit this.
Time for some fresh blood methinks....


kick it on

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Is Secondlife a scam?

I don't get the "buzz" about Secondlife.
I can see the value & attraction in extending your network through the variety of online communities however I think that interacting with other people through the medium of an online virtual world populated of badly rendered versions of people's dream-persona is just plain sad.
Apparently there are people who spend days wandering around this environment and become absolutely addicted to it. They create detailed characters (avatars), interacts with other inhabbitants, build homes, businesses, towns and even cities.
They date, have intercourse and get married.
To all those people I have only one thing to say: GET A LIFE!
There's a whole real world right outside your frontdoor full of real people that are rendered in a much higher definition, have an superior GUI and who also have nams that don't sound like they're straight out of some 70's German existentialist movie.
And the intercourse is better in the real world too!

On top of that there is a rumour going around that you can make money on SecondLife. This has spawned a whole herd of would be internet-entepreneurs that cannot cut it in real life. Apparently you can set up shop in this virtual environment and flog your wares. Other inhabitants pay you in "Linden-dollars". People are filling their (virtual) pockets with these Linden-dollars. But the last time I checked Linden-dollars weren't a recognised currency on the international Foreign exchange markets. So in order to get some kind of tangible revenue out of you SecondLife business you need to be able to withdraw and exchange that money.
And that's where the problem lies.
Randolph Harrison has a very informative and insightfull article on his blog.
It basically shows that the way Secondlife operates is very much like a pyramid scheme.
I suggest that you read the article but I will give you a few quotes as a taster:

Multiply all these micropayments among Linden’s claim of millions of customers, tens of thousands of which are online at any given time, and SecondLife supposedly represents a very real economy generating hundreds of thousands of real dollars of commerce, daily. Linden self reports an astonishing L$314,101,463 were earned in December 2006. That’s $1,163,338 USD of value by Linden’s average “exchange rate” of SLL/USD. But more about exchange rates later.

I discovered that the interest rates being paid by these banks, when calculate by interest-rate-parity against the USD, were mispriced allowing for a whopping 2,786.32% return arbitrage opportunity. Over some months we sunk the better part of $10,000 USD into SecondLife, borrowing from banks, lending to banks, and entering into various types of virtual financial arrangements with virtual businesses.

Put simply, you can seldom trust those with whom you’re doing business in SecondLife. Even supposedly well established, well regarded business citizens are prone to defaulting on any obligations which prove inconvenient. Whole banks will disappear over night, along with your L$ balance. Private businesses will simply refuse to make good on financial contracts. And individuals, pretty much all of whose real world identities are carefully guarded anonymous secrets, sometimes even will openly default, without recourse.

This game was just a pyramid scheme.
SecondLife is not a dramatic taste of our future, in which markets are virtual, currency is free from government control, taxes are non-existent, and normal people can become real millionaires simply by clicking their mouse a few times.
SecondLife isn’t even a simple virtual economy, with legitimate buying and selling, and opportunity for those who would compete.
No, SecondLife is a classic pyramid scheme. Or, more of an Amway-like pyramid: partially legitimate, partially ponzi. Sure, there are plenty of legitimate SecondLife customers who just like to go there to get their kicks, spend a couple dollars, and be on their way.

Make up your own mind...


kick it on

Monday, January 22, 2007

Dave's not here...

I decided to take a trip to Roscrea's McDonalds again yesterday.
It's a 45 minute (one-way) trip but seeing that I am trying to educate my kids about good nutrition I make the effort.
Now, I have posted about my experiences with this restaurant on previous occasions and have been quite please with the level of service implemented by one of their managers.
Had my experience been the same yesterday I wouldn't have been posting here today.
When I entered the "establishment" yesterday I noticed that Dave wasn't on duty. But surely that shouldn't be a worry. The other managers must have noticed Dave's efficiency and taken some pointers.
Not at all....
While the place was packed and people were lining up all the way back to the door the manager on duty though that it was acceptable to stand at one of the checkouts and discuss the intricacies of Saturdays hurling match with one of his buddy's. Occasionally he would contribute to the productivity by lobbing a few sachets of ketchup onto some trays from as far as 6 feet away (obviously trying to display his great aim and ball-handling skills).
My order was taken by Amanda. Now I have had the "pleasure" before of being "served" by Amanda. She performs her job with all the enthousiasm of a aging prostitute in a Mogadishu brothel.
She avoids eye contact with the customer, grunts in repsonse to an order. Insists on referring to a latte as a coffee (and subsequently serves me a coffee) and will stack your whole order on one tray. Even if your order consists of 6 meals.
All because: "sure, it'll be grand"....
The manager contributed by throwing 15 packets of ketchup and the same number of salt-sachets on my tray.
Halfway during my mail I decided to avail of their free WiFi because I hadn't fed my email addiction for some time. When asking at the counter for a voucher so that I could use the service I was met with a blank stare reminiscent of the eyes of a week old piece of roadkill. The same response when I asked for a refill for my wife's latte. Eventually the "body" behind the counter filled the latte cup with plain coffee and asked the manager for a voucher for "d'internet".
Cue a sigh and a grunted "i'll get it in a minute".
Apparently they keep the vouchers in a locked safe in the office. Because, hey, god forbid someone might want to use a service that is advertised.
When the requested voucher still hadn't materialised after 5 minutes I walked away to finish my meal.
A few minutes later a "hostess" walked by so I decided to ask her if she could get one of the vouchers for me. My question was answered with a pause followed by "me don't speak English".
Now this really gets on my tits.
If she doesn't speak English:
1)How did she get the job?
2)Why is she allowed to mingle with English speaking customers?

Don't get me wrong; the woman in question has been working in that particular McDonalds in that particular position for at least a year. I seriously doubt if I would have gotten the same answer if I had asked her if she wanted a better paid job...

Anyway, Dave if you read this please pass some of your "magic" on to the other staff.
It's great, it's refreshing and it makes everybody's life a little bit more enjoyable.

And, please have a talk with Amanda. I'm sure that I am not the only on sick of her attitude...


kick it on

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

UPS's service stinks too...

I recently posted about FedEx's bad service.
Apparently they are not alone...

I had a parcel shipped to us from a customer in Leeds (UK) yesterday.
The parcel was collected in Leeds at 18:53 yesterday evening.
From there on it was forwarded by plane to Cologne, Germany (?!) and went on to Dublin. From Dublin it was sent to Shannon where it arrived at 6:01 this morning.
That's under 12 hours, including the detour via Germany.
Not bad at all.
Now when will I receive it? Apparently sometime tomorrow afternoon...
Yes, that's right.
12 hours to get from Leeds to Shannon but another 30 hours or so to get from Shannon to Nenagh.
Well apparently UPS does not deliver to my address because it is outside of a major urban centre.
Shock horror!
They forward the shipment to Interlink's depot in Athlone (probably passing Nenagh on the way). Interlink send it to their depot in Nenagh from where it will be delivered sometime tomorrow afternoon...
This is just un-f*cking believeable.
My 3 year old can run a better logistic system than that...


kick it on

Monday, January 15, 2007

Fedex kisses my arse ;-)

I posted some weeks ago on how I was having huge problems shipping a simple parcel with Fedex.
The post got a fair bit of exposure and I noticed a lot of hits comming from Fedexs' network. However the lack of response from Fedex was dissapointing.
Until today!
I received a letter in the post from Colin Groves, head of customer service FedEx UK & Ireland.
Rather than comment on it I will quote the full letter here:

11 January 2006

Dear Mr. XXXXX

Your email referencing the entry in your blog has been passed for my attention, and I was concerned to learn of the problems you have encountered with our service.

From the information provided , I have reviewed the causes of the delay. On 2 occasions, primarily due to human error, the instructions to mak a collection were not communicated to the on-road Courier. As you were aware, on the third occasion a shortfall of resource was cited as the reason for the failed collection attempt.

The explanation is frankly unacceptable and you have every reason to expect better from our company. Attempts to recover the situation could have been made in each case. had our partner operation in Ireland advised our Customer Service team. They did not, and I understand that this only added to your frustration.

I apologise for this unaacceptable situation and can assure you that I am working closely with both our Customer Service team here in England, and our service provider in Ireland to address these issues.

We recognise that where we are able to directly serve the customer, satisfaction increases, meeting our goal to provide a professional and reliable service. As a result, I am sure that you will be pleased to learn that from 26 February, FedEx will begin to operate in Nenagh from the FedEx facility in Shannon, no longer relying on a service partner for collections and deliveries. This development is a key part of our Ireland expansion plan, which we believe will bring enhanced service benefits to our customers.

Whilst an apology after the event is no consolation, I appreciate the inconvenience these events have caused, and arangements have been amde for the transportation charges related to this shipment to be credited in full.

Yours sincerely, Colin Groves
Head of Customer Service
FedEx Express, UK & Ireland

cc: David J Bronczek, President CEO FedEx Express
Robert W Elliot, Regional President, FedEx Express EMA
Mrs A Schuett-Fahrenk, Vice President Customer Experience EMEA
Adam Koffles, Managing Director, Customer Experience NEu & EMEA
David Canava, managing Director, Operations

While it is good of FedEx to respond and send me a letter apologising for the shoddy service it still doesn't make up for me having to explain this to a new (and possibly very big) customer. The shipment was sent on my customers account so while they get a refund I get nothing but an apology...
Also I spent two days during the holiday season waiting in our office for the driver to collect the shipment while we were actually closed for business.
Now if Fedex promised me a nice discount on all future shipments I woud be a happy camper!


kick it on

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I'm not the only one loving it..

I recently posted about the excellent service I received in the McDonalds restaurant in Roscrea.
It seems that I am not alone. I have come across a number of other blog-posts and forum discussions illustrating the premium customer service that McDonalds is providing.
Have a look here, here and here.

Comment of the year goes to this one:
"I know people think that they are creating business for it in the long term but would we not be better off if McDonalds took over the running of the Irish public health system as well as care for the elderly ???

People in A & E could get a special McTrolley meal while waiting for the doctor. People waiting for a trolley might get a McBack of an ambulance meal in the car park. You might get a McGeriatric in a home. The possibilities are just endless.......

They just could not make a bigger pudding of it than the current crew"

I also think that McDonalds should promote Dave in the Roscrea branch or at least give him a bonus. The guy obviously deserves it!
Just please do not promote him to a different restaurant!