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neilh (8614)

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South East UK based. Perl, C, C++ hacker

Journal of neilh (8614)

Sunday February 28, 2010
09:56 AM

A debt owing

I would just like it on record that I owe nicholas a house move
Wednesday December 16, 2009
04:52 AM

Service (?) Contracts

So two days ago, I get back from dropping the kids off at school to find that there's a large wet stain on the ceiling of the hall. The carpet in the bottom of the boiler cupboard is sodden.

Conclusion: the boiler is leaking.

I ring the letting agency. Jessica is very friendly and helpful and a little while later I get a call from a service company. Their man will call later that day. Result


It turns out that their man ins only a plumber and is not CORGI registered and can't work on gas boilers. So he needs to escalate it to a heating engineer. He does this at ~3pm two days ago, saying (to me) that someone should phone me to arrange a time for the engineer to call. I pass this on to Jessica.

After a couple of hours, no phone call. So Jessica chases them. Nothing.

The next morning, I let Jessica know that I've heard nothing, and she chases again. A little later I get a phone call from a guy from another service company. He tells me that they'll send someone "tomorrow" (i.e. today). Given that we're had no heating for more than 24 hours now, I ask if there's any chance of it being the same day (yesterday) He very officiously tells me that they guarantee a next day call out service and they only got the fax this morning, and the engineer will phone me between 8-8:30 to arrange a time to call.


  1. If you're renting and suffer a breakdown like this, you are more or less powerless as it sounds like there are two separate companies between me and the engineer
  2. I'm not sure why it'd called a service contract, when that word is patently not being supplied
Wednesday June 24, 2009
03:38 PM

Phishing by Visa

Our old monitor seems to be on its last legs, so I've just been to Scan's website (from where, >10 years ago, the now dieing monitor was bought) to replace it. Found one I liked, then tried to pay for it. Unfortunately, like most online merchants, they've been bullied into implementing 3D secure (aka Verified by Visa/MasterCard SecureCode).

Oh how I laughed when NoScript popped up a warning saying that it just blocked a XSS attack from (which was trying to POST back to</sarcasm>

So, not only does the user experience to all intents and purposes look exactly like a phishing attempt, a successful payment gets blocked by security software. Thus, in order for 3D to work (remember this protocol is designed to make the purchasing on the web "more secure"), I have to make my PC less secure?!?

Anyone would think this had been designed by a government.</despair>

Tuesday May 13, 2008
04:18 PM

Cat skinning

Today I (re)learnt the one about counting the ways of skinning cats. We use MySQL for our data, but for unit tests it's just easier to use SQLite. Except for converting the SQL from one to the other. No problem you say: SQL fairy to the rescue. Not so fast I reply: the fairy does not understand all of the SQL we use. After much banging of head against this particular brick wall, a colleague (thx Robbie) pointed out that MySQL can parse all of the SQL (as that's the DB it has to work against. Just do that and then mysqldump the results. Job done.