Archive for February, 2008

Mobile Version of Talk of Many Things

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

I read about MoFuse in TechCrunch yesterday.

According to TechCrunch, MoFuse is a service that will take your website and instantly create a mobile version of it, sparing you the development costs of doing so by hand. Click here to read the full post. Best of all, MoFuse is free!

Soon as I read about MoFuse, I was tempted to try it out to create a mobile version of Talk of Many Things (or “mobilize” Talk of Many Things, as MoFuse would say). After a very quick registration process, and a few additional settings, the mobile website was up and running!

You can see a few sample images here.

Click on the pictures above to see a preview version on your PC.

To check out the live version, visit http://talkofmanythings.mofuse.mobi/ from your Internet-enabled mobile phone.

All in all, a very easy process, and good enough results for a blog.

Don’t Be Left In The Broadband Slowlane!

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

A few months ago, I’d written about being left in the broadband slowlane in London / UK (click here to read this post).

At long last, there seems to be a way out of being left there!

In his STARLETTER award winning letter in the 3-16 Jan 2008 issue of the Webuser magazine, Mike Fairclough of Cheshire provides a useful website where potential ADSL broadband buyers can actually check the maximum broadband speed possible for their telephone number. If this website says the maximum speed possible is 2Mbps, buyers can avoid ordering packages touting higher speeds because they are unlikely to work at more than 2Mbps. As most readers would be aware, ADSL broadband speeds depend very much on the telephone line.

I visited this website and found out that for my telephone number (POPLAR exchange) the maximum possible line rate is 2Mbps.

From a popular broadband speed testing website like www.speedtest.net, I can confirm that my broadband connection is indeed working faster than 2Mbps.

In asking buyers to take responsibility to do some research before deciding what kind of broadband package to buy, Mike Fairclough is emphasizing the principle of caveat emptor (“buyer beware” in Latin).

Caveat Emptor is surely a useful principle.

At the same time, I can’t help noting that, if broadband sellers were truly as customer-oriented as they claim to be, they could use these same websites themselves first to figure out the maximum line rates that would be possible at their potential customers’ telephone lines and then ensure that they refrain from selling costlier packages for higher speeds.

That aside, it’s very heartening to know that broadband buyers now have the tools to help them decide upfront what kind of broadband package they should be buying. They no longer have to pay more for a higher speed package and eventually find out that they are left in the broadband slowlane.

The Everlasting One Minute

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

Residents of London would’ve surely noticed the recent spate of ads by CapitalOne in local newspapers, bus shelters and on the Internet promising a one minute response to your application for a credit card.

Going by my experience, this is an everlasting one minute!

Feeling the need for a UK credit card owing to a sudden bout of travel, I applied online for a CapitalOne credit card. All that happened in one minute was a message on their website saying that they need to examine some documentation to verify my identity and address. Their letter listing out what kind of documentation they needed from me came after a few days. In spite of knowing my email address, they chose to send this letter by snail-mail.

In this letter, they had asked for two documents to be sent in original. These included standard ones like bank statements, utility bills, council tax bills, and so on. They wanted each document to show my first name and last name as well as my address. Now, many bank statements in the UK only show the last name e.g. K SWAMINATHAN in my case. This ruled out roughly half the documents that I could’ve used. Luckily, I noticed a provision in CapitalOne’s letter that, in case I wasn’t able to send a second document showing my address, they were willing to accept one showing my date of birth.

With a bit of effort, after rummaging through correspondence from the last 6-9 months, I was able to send them the two documents they’d asked for: one, a bank statement showing my first name, last name and my address, and, two, a government issued statement (a type of government document which was not listed in CapitalOne’s letter as being unacceptable) displaying my date of birth.

After a few days, I was surprised to receive a letter (by snail-mail) from CapitalOne saying they had to reject the second document since it did not contain my address!

I wrote back to them saying their initial letter had indeed allowed me to send a second document containing my date of birth (even if it did not contain my address), so they should not have rejected my second document.

To which, after a few more days, I received an obliquely-worded letter (again by snail-mail) from which I could infer that they would only accept government-issued documents like passport for proof of date of birth. In their initial letter, they’d never said this. Had they done so, I could’ve saved a couple of weeks. Anyway, given that they expect me to mail them my passport in original for verification, I’m considering giving up on my application altogether because I don’t feel comfortable being without my passport for however short a duration it will take for CapitalOne to do their verification and return it to me.

This procedure has already lasted three weeks and still remains inconclusive. I have almost given up with CapitalOne and have applied for another credit card in the meantime.

So much for a response in one minute!