Back to the grind

So I returned to work on monday.
Same old nonsense, nothing new here.

A few things have changed though.
Apparently we’re trying to decrease our Carbon Footprint. Essentially, this means we have to work in the dark, turn our PCs off when we’re not using them, and walk to work.

The sun is starting to annoy me now. There is just too much daylight now, its driving me insane.

And I think I caught some sort of bug on the flight back. I feel like absolute shite!

*mutter*

SPAM!

Well.. that didn’t take long.

Suddenly I have hundreds of trackbacks waiting to be moderated.
I think not!

Stupid trackback SPAM.

Let the fun begin!
Next step is a Captcha on trackbacks, comments, and registrations…

We’ve Arrived

We’re here!

In South Africa, after a grueling set of flights and security checks. Exactely hours after leaving the apartment in Dublin.

After some unusually heavy Good Friday traffic, and the taxi running out of petrol (yeah… typical), we made it to the airport 5 minutes too late to board our Ryan Air flight.
We ended up booking ourselves onto a British Airways flight that arrived 1 hour before the connecting flight to Windhoek. So it was a bit of a run through Gatwick. Thankfully we managed to get the luggage (23kg each! yay BA. boo Ryan Air, and their stupid 15kg limit) checked straight through, so that saved alot of time. Although it did take a fair amount of running backwards and forwards between the BA ticket desk, the ATM, and the Air Namibia desk.

The Flight from Gatwick to Windhoek was fairly uneventful. And very empty. We ended up with an entire row of chairs to ourselves, so Jeanine ended up sleeping across 3 of them.
The Pilots are Afrikaans. It was quite a shock to hear that accent again.
I really like Air Namibia, they seem to have kept that old customer-centric approach to things. Friendly staff, flexible tickets.

Windhoek Airport, is something out of a movie. Absolutely flat landscape, dotted with little shrubs. And in the middle of nowhere, is a massive runway and the small airport building.
Standing on the tarmac looking out, and all you see in every direction is perfectly flat, dry, shrubbed plains.
Beautiful.
Thats something I’ll never forget.

Its also the only airport I’ve ever been in, where the smoking area is outside on the tarmac…
And the only airport where they employ about 20 people in yellow jackets to stand in a line, like a bunch of traffic cones, to direct people down the tarmac to the airport.

The flight from Windhoek to JHB was nothing unusual. Same old friendly service from the Air Namibia staff.

So 4 airports, 3 flights (excluding the missed flight), 3 in flight meals, and 24 hours later. Johannesburg.

I dont know what I was expecting, but not much has changed. There’s tons of construction going on at JHB International (I refuse to call it by its other “name”). The roads are the same, the drivers are the same. The fear is the same.

Its good to be back with the family. It feels like we were away for so long, but it also doesn’t feel long at all.
The puppies didn’t know what to do when they saw us. Except Giselle, who widdled all over Jeanine with excitement.We

Almost there

So. Its 2:25 on the day that we’re set to fly off to South Africa.

Looks like everything is packed.
Which idiot at came up with that stupid 15kg per person luggage allowance at Ryan Air? I’d like to have a word with the little twerp. He probably believes that if you’re going to be spending more than 2 days somewhere, you might as well own a second, fully stocked house there. Thus negating the need for more than 15kg worth of luggage.

Either that, or he doesn’t believe in toiletries and clean underwear.

Seriously… I’ve had to pack most of my clothing into my carry-on bags, which means I’m going to be lugging all that weight around with me through 4 airports while the baggage throwers get to manhandle two huge bags full of easter goodies for the family.

So this will be my last entry before we’re off to good old .za

With any luck I’ll be able to post updates from my Parents place. They have “broadband” after all…

Banking in Ireland

I’m glad to see I’m not the only foreigner in this country that finds the banking systems here archaic.

Ireland from a Polish Perspective
has had many of the same problems that Jeanine and I have experienced
with attempting to do some of the most basic banking transactions.

Jeanine opened her bank account with Bank of Ireland, near her old
place of employment in Clontarf. When she moved to a new job, nearer
the city, she asked about moving her bank account to a branch in the
city too. She was told that there’s no real reason to move, and that
you can do anything from any branch, regardless of where your “home
branch” is. Sounds fairly reasonable.
It later turns out that you can’t do a same day deposit to your account
anywhere… you have to do it at your “home branch”. You can’t apply
for a Credit Card anywhere, you have to do it at your “home branch”.
Thank goodness she’s at least in the same County as her home branch.

Internet banking is a joke.
In South Africa, you could do absolutely everything online. I was able
to open 32-day notice accounts, apply for a Credit Card, Add and Remove
benificiaries… all Online.
In Ireland, you have to go to the branch to open additional accounts
and apply for other “features”. You have to phone in to their 24/7
telephone banking call centre so you can add a benificiary. I actually
had to choose AIB as my bank because they were the only bank I could
find that allowed you to do International SWIFT transfers online.
My only complaint, is that every once in a while, it will refuse to
accept my login. After 3 “incorrect” attempts, it’ll lock the account
out and I have to wait 3 days for my new access code to arrive in the
post.

This is supposed to be the richest nation in the world, with some of
the most advanced technological research in the world happening here.
*shrug*

Hot Captcha

Excellent!

Its becoming more and more difficult to figure out if a browser is really human, or some programmed entity designed to get through authentication mechanisms and post SPAM everywhere.

http://hotcaptcha.com/ have come up with a way.
You are presented with 9 pictures of people from http://www.hotornot.com/, and you must select 3 “hot” people to prove that you’re human.

From: http://blog.moybella.net/2007/03/26/hot-captcha/

Google Ads

As many of you have probably noticed, I’ve put Google Ads on the site.
If you really really don’t want to see them, register a username on this site, and drop me an email. I’ll remove the ad blocks from your username.

Web hosting isn’t free, although I have managed to find a rather cheap provider. So they’re a necessary evil.

RFID (in)security

The first time I encountered RFID, was when I spotted a Pet Tag reader at the Vet.
They inject a tiny “chip” into your pet, and then register the Radio ID of the chip in a Database. If your beloved fluffy ever goes missing without its collar, the pound should be able to detect the chip in your pet, and then use the ID to find the owner.

Then some clever people decided to start putting them in pretty much everything
My access card for work is an RFID tag. My Student card from UJ is an RFID tag. My LUAS card is an RFID tag.

The UK government has started putting RFID tags in new Passports. This raised a huge number of privacy concerns. Imagine walking into a room, and instantly knowing exactely who is in it, simply by reading all the RFID tags of all the Passports in the room. There was even talk of fitting them to Vehicle number plates.

Large supermarkets are looking into using RFID instead of barcodes on products, for full supply chain tracking.

And now the fun part..
It didn’t take very long for this “new” technology to be ripped apart.
RFID IO Tools have put together all the tools you’ll need to read and write RFID tags.
It seems relatively easy now to Clone someone elses ID. Thats not cool.

So much for security… And despite all these flaws, all the major players in the industry are still going ahead and deploying it.