Killed by a popunder ad

I'm compiling a list of resources for customers of a major ISP. The kind of thing that will be displayed when they use the bundled CD to install their internet connection.

Anyway for the reference section, I needed something more than just Wikipedia (though I don't need anything more myself!) so I thought I'd put in the Encyclopedia Britanica. Then I noticed Firefox telling me it had blocked a popup from that site. Helpfully called "popunderAd". Well guess what Britannica, I won't be sending anyone your way with that kinda behaviour!

Hearing booked

I've booked a hearing at the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal, regarding our dodgy real estate agent's non-payment of our bond. I did this last week and just now got a call from their "Property Manager". She tells me they have submitted the bond, though she can't tell me when they did this. Given that this is the third time we've been told it's been submitted, I'm not considering it likely.

The "Property Manager" seemed surprise to hear that the bond must be submitted within seven days, subject to a $2200 fine. Good to see the standards in real estate agents' knowledge of the law are improving all the time!

Catania Medrano Real Estate: ethics free zone

I know, I know. I shouldn't be expecting ethics from estate agents. It's like trying to find a vegetarian shark. They're scum. All of them. They make used car salesmen seems like paragons of virtue.

We've been completely screwed around by Catania Medrano, estate scum from King Street, Newtown. So I've written about our experiences and their "ethics". These guys have a motto, working with integrity. Fnurt fnurt.

Bloody tired

Don't think I've been this knackered since my last bout of jetlag. Last night was one of those hot, still, humid evenings we get to look forward to in summer in Sydney. At 2am it was still 22° and I wasn't getting any sleep. The fan was just pushing the moist, hot air around.

Fortunately it cooled down soon after and I got some sleep. Gonna have to get used to this!

DVD menus: why oh why?

Last night I installed my grandmother-in-law's (is that a real term?) shiny new telly and DVD player for her, and was tasked with showing her how to use it.

The telly is probably going to be okay, despite being one of these fancy new digital thingamies. Sanity seems to have prevailed and if there's high definition content for a channel, it automagically uses the HD stream when available. What's more, the channel numbering is pretty close to the numbering of the analogue channels.

The hard part is going to be the DVD. With a VCR it was easy to explain: stick in the tape and press play. DVDs, however, have all gone in for these complicated menuing systems. So now I have to explain that she has to sit through the bullshit dire copyright warnings (the UK ones being particularly hilarious), and any other mandatory material the DVD producer deems necessary that everyone watch every time they play the DVD. Then up will come some kind of menu system. But, of course, every menu will be different. And every menu system will use a different paradigm to get to the actual content. And every menu system will use a different way of showing which item you've got highlighted, with varying levels of obviousness.

Whoever thought this shit up clearly hasn't ever had to guide pensioners through usability studies! The first DVD was a Dendy release (thanks to Benj's gift) and the menu was remarkably straightforward. Except that the highlighting was completely non-obvious. Really hard to tell which bit you've got highlighted. Is it the text with the grey halo or the text with the slightly lighter grey halo? Only way to work it out is to mash the arrow buttons and see what moves. Try explaining that to a pensioner!

Eventually I advised that, hopefully, if you stick the DVD in and wait long enough, eventually it just starts the movie. Not sure if her DVD player does this, but it's a Sony and my Sony one does that.

Bob help us if someone goes and buys her some kind of surround sound setup! Imagine trying to explain that she needs to select "Dolby blah blah blah 5.blah blah" to get that to work!

Fortunately she lives just around the corner from my work, so I can drop in if she's having problems. I'll drop in sometime next week for a refresher course.

In other news, I think I need one of these shiny flatscreen LCD things with high definition. Very very nice!

Drought? What drought?

Australia is apparently experiencing the worst drought in living memory. You could've fooled me! Since moving back to Sydney from London it's rained more than it ever did in London, and that's the city with the reputation for rain. What's more, the rain here actually gets you soaked, unlike the light drizzle in London.

New Year was good. Part at Maz and Matt's place, which was loads of fun and everyone made an effort to dress up. Some photos up on Justine's site.

Word of the day: Confusopoly

Discovered this great word coined by Dilbert author Scott Adams: Confusopoly where instead of competing, companies instead try to bamboozle customers.

It's a great term and applies in so many areas. Banks, insurance companies, telcos. You can spot a confusopoly by the number of * and other symbols in the main text of their ads. A huge block of impenetrable legalese in 5 point font is a dead giveaway.

When did futons get expensive?

When I moved out of my parents' house, my room was about 50cm longer than a double bed, and about 10cm wider. Still, I needed a bed and wasn't going to be very successful with the laydeez if I had a single bed, so I went and bought a nice, cheap futon matress and base. The company even came to my place and set it up.

I like futons, but the main criteria at that point was price. Futons with a rudimentary wooden slat base were really cheap.

Having returned from our sojourn in London for six years, our spare room has taken over my (much newer than the above) futon sofa bed base. We're trying to find a futon matress for it, but they've really jumped up in price! Cheapest we've found is $319. Ouch!