not yours

because I say so

Shopping list holders
frustration, computer problems, oops
Dear Lazyweb,

I have been wanting one of these for a very, very long time. But my Google-fu has failed me, for I can only find an American retailer who sells them for $17 but then charges (through a third party) $50 in shipping costs.

Does such a thing exist in the UK, or even another European country? I hear they're popular in Sweden...

Can you? Can you?
Ten points to anyone who attended Tuesday's inauguration who can find themselves in this photo. (blog post)

I'm thinking the app really needs a "link to this view" button.

Down with flash radio player sneakiness!
My Roku Soundbridge just proved its worth a third time, thanks to my shiny new universal remote. Turns out there's a dedicated infrared command for each of its eighteen Internet radio presets, so while there aren't eighteen equivalent buttons on the remote I can still program my universal remote to access them directly. Now, if I can only assign channel icons to them, it'd be all pretty.

So with my new-found ability to listen to as much Internet radio as I like, guilt-free, I decided to look up the stream URLs of my favourite stations. Which is when I discovered a dirty tactic by CBS Radio, which has hidden its various stream URLs behind a silly Flash player. Went hunting, and found an incredibly handy generic PLS address:


Where STATIONNAME is the call letters or name of the station, for instance:

http://provisioning.streamtheworld.com/pls/KROCK2.pls (K-ROCK2, Internet-only version of New York's WXRK with better music on it)
http://provisioning.streamtheworld.com/pls/WBCNFM.pls (WBCN-FM, The Rock of Boston)

Append DIALUP for the low-bitrate stream, e.g.: http://provisioning.streamtheworld.com/pls/WBCNFMDIALUP.pls

I imagine this URL format works with most of the call letters from the List of broadcast stations owned by CBS Radio. Neato.

Just give me cash next time, okay?
tweety, wtf
If gift vouchers were a false economy, then gift cards are a total scam. When you lay down your money to purchase a gift card, the salesperson takes this credit card-sized thing and swipes it in the till to credit it with its new balance.

The balance is nowhere to be found on the card, but on a receipt you get with the card. Both can get lost, and at the very least they'll get separated. Worse, this balance expires if the card remains unused for a period of anywhere between 12 and 24 months.

Retailers claim that gift cards are preferable to paper vouchers that don't expire, suggesting it avoids situations where people try to buy goods using years-old, moth-eaten vouchers and risk being refused. But really, it's a way for them to use terms and conditions to steal your money; take too long to decide what to spend your virtual balance on, and said balance gets nullified.

Virgin Megastores, as was, tried to stick these bullshit terms and conditions on their gift vouchers, before so many people complained that they were forced to remove the 12-month expiry, which of course returned when they started their gift card scheme. Since Virgin sold its megastores to lowercase zavvi, Virgin gift cards are still valid; only problem is zavvi has now closed the only store that was close to me.

HMV Group, meanwhile, has taken this gift card scheme to new heights of insanity. Time was, HMV (music store) gift vouchers were valid in Waterstone's booksellers, and Waterstone's vouchers could be used in HMV, as both chains are owned by the same company. Since HMV and Waterstone's eagerly switched to selling gift cards, this freedom of choice has disappeared. HMV gift cards are only valid toward HMV purchases, and Waterstone's gift cards can only be redeemed in Waterstone's.

After spending £49 of my £50 in M&S gift vouchers this morning, I'm left with a £1 M&S gift card.

I am so opposed to gift cards now that I will send back any I receive. I would encourage others to do the same.

Scam artists
frustration, computer problems, oops
I don't like surprises, so imagine my surprise when I decided to actually look at this month's phone bill only to discover a single international call costing £14. So, I took unilateral action. We're now paying BT £1 per month so we can pay them an additional 6p/min for calls to Iceland, instead of 50p/min.

Why I oughta...

Fun with Finance!
The week after my bank over here gets taken over by another bank, news comes today of my bank over there which has been renationalised, albeit temporarily.

I don't particularly envy my mortgage-paying friends right now.

Forgot to mention
The annual Fireworks Concert here in Edinburgh is starting in fifteen minutes - 9pm BST, 4pm EDT, 1pm PDT - and it's being webcast for the first time this year. Check it out.

New channel hooray!
rock on
I have this obsession with watching countdowns, so whenever a channel rebrands or a new one launches on Freeview it's likely I'll be watching the countdown. I feel sad we've lost The Hits, but 4Music is coming and it's looking sexier...

7 minutes to go! [And yes, this means I'm home at a reasonable time for once this month...]

Say what you want about China, but damn do they know how to put on a good show. Great fun.

In other news, this past week's been hell.

Spotted literally MINUTES AGO
The world's favourite invasion of privacy, a couple hundred metres from my home!

PICSCollapse )


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