Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Open Street Map Visualisation

While travelling I've been very lucky picking navigating my way around different places.

Lately the navigation is thanks to a handy sat nav I picked up in Italy at the beginning on my summer travels through Europe, but prior to that I wasn't quite as current with my technology (and I couldn't afford it).

I relied a lot on Google Maps or Open Street Map to print off maps or directions before we left and follow it as we drove.

Open Street Map is like the wikipedia of road maps and it relies on us to keep in current.

The video below is the growth rate of Open Street Map over a 12 months period, and you can visually understand how quickly contributions can spread around the world.

Go Technology. Go People.

OSM 2008: A Year of Edits from ItoWorld on Vimeo.

Friday, February 06, 2009

HSBC Customer Service

I made a trip to the bank this morning to cash a cheque for some filming I did last year but got a little more then I bargained for.

Here's what happened.

When I left for Australia recently I put a freeze on my gym membership until I got back, not that I ever used it much while I was here. Unbeknown to me the gym decided they still wanted me to pay and subsequently direct debited money out of my bank account........ or at least they tried to........... three times.

Each time the transaction was dishonored, but after the 3rd time HSBC closed the account down. Fair enough.

When I went in to find out what I couldn't transfer money and cash my cheque (which I now seemed to have misplaced) I found out that it was closed.

"Well please reopen it so I can do all these things". I said.

The young man informed me that it was not possible to reopen the account because it was closed, before going on to say I wasn't able to ever open an account with HSBC again........ or at least not for 12 months.

"But I've got £1000 sitting in a savings account with you, how do I access that?"

Apparently they could transfer it to another bank account, once I opened one at another bank.

"That's a bit inconvenient." I thought to myself (thoughts have been moderated for this post).

I asked what I could do to the Gym based on the fact they were the cause of this whole thing.

"I would have to check with my Manager" he said, "did you want me to do that?"

Do fat kids like smarties. Do my girls gain weight when I spend time at home.


"Well," he says on his return, "it turns out that we might be able to do something for you."

Really?!?! I thought I could never open an account ever again. Well don't let me put you out or anything. I wouldn't want you to service a customers needs or anything like that. Shouldn't you be charging people account fee's or denying them finances?

I know your title is customer services manager but I'm sure it doesn't mean you have to help EVERY customer that comes through the doors. But if you insist, sure. Knock yourself out.

We took down a bunch of details and it turned out that yes, I could reopen the account. He even set me up with a better account with less fees. The only catch is that I have to bring in a council bill with my name/address on it and my passport before the account is unfrozen.

"Can I bring it in tomorrow?" I asked, knowing that some of the banks functions are open on a Saturday.

"No, sorry sir. We're not open until Monday." he replied.......... before adding....... "oh, but I'm not in Monday. I'm not back again until Wednesday."

But surely someone else could finish off the process? Surely..........

Surely not apparently. He started it, only he can finish the process off. *cough*pigsarse*cough*

Well at least I left the bank a somewhat satisfied customer.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Snow in London Photo's

In reverse order........... welcome to the images of London since I got back from Darwin...... the capital city of warm.

For my little brother Chaz!

View from my room

Monday, February 02, 2009

Snow in London

Yet again I take another giant step away from life as it were in Darwin.

On the walk up to the pub for a sunday roast and a pint it started to snow.  How beautiful, yet very cold, it was to walk along in the gentle falling snow.

When I awoke this morning things had changed a little.

As I opened the curtains to look out over the back yard all I could see was a white blanket of snow covering the world.

On the roof terrace sat about 8 inches of overnight snow, and in the front yard there was eight inches of snow ready to soak into my new grandpa slippers for my walk to work.

Compared to rain, snow is so much better to walk to work in.

I'm without my camera cable at the moment, but there will be a series of pictures put up this evening when I get home.

Simply beautiful.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Darwin to London

As the plane was descending into London I could hardly believe that what seemed like only moments ago I was enjoying a bag of grease from the Parap Markets on Saturday morning.

The last three months have been a blur of parties, celebrations, websites, new beginnings and the rekindling of old friendships.

Every morning was spent down at the Coffee Club for a couple of long blacks, maybe a bite to eat, and the conversational rantings of Paul Manning, Karen Stoddard, Bec Walker and myself (with the occasional special guest appearances of Skevos, Bok, Suzie and Lyoness). Big cheers to the Store Manager Anna and her young yet very capable Assistant Manager Lauren for starting our mornings off with a smile.

Lunchtimes started off at the pool for a bit of exercise before I caught the debilitating disease, slackbastardititis, and moved to lunches at the wok, sushi train, banyan tree and shenannigans.

Afternoons were spent at one place, Shenannigans, and thanks to some quick promotional thinking Power and Water staff now get Happy Hour there every day during the week. Often it was just the two beers in the afternoon, but every now and then someone had a problem we needed to get to the bottom of which required 4 pints.

Fortunately we worked out a plan to keep everyones drinks/shouts in order as well. If someone went three drinks up in a shout (purchased 3 of your drinks before you brought them one) you owed that person 0ral gratification. No matter how hard Paul and I tried, the girls would never let us shout drinks!!!

During all this fun that was being outside of work we still did get some things accomplished. I managed to make the Power and Water Internet site go live (although I had nothing to do with the colour scheme/design/navigation structure etc etc, please don't judge me ;), and built a new services based Intranet site using an Open Source CMS.

It's hard to come to grips with though. On Friday morning I walked to work in 5 minutes and broke into a sweat doing so. Tomorrow morning, Monday, I'll take a 30 minute tube ride into work and we're expecting snow. On Saturday I lived in Dariwn, a city with a population of 120,000 people. On Sunday I'm back to living in London, a city with the population of 7.5 million people.

I'll miss everyone in Darwin, a few much more then I would have first thought, but I'm sure I'll begin to slip back into London lifestyle pretty quickly. I've already got my grandpa slippers, tracksuit and hoody on....... a far cry from last sunday with a pair of boardies and a singlet.