Thursday, 26 August 2010

Bringing AIDS to your Community

Not so much advertising bollocks, but advertising idiocy. In taglines.

I present "AIDS 2010 Conference Hubs: Bringing AIDS 2010 to your Community!"[current]

Monday, 23 August 2010

Natwest - helpful banking

2011/03/03: Update: Natwest fail to pass a fifth of their self imposed targets.
2010/12/16: Update: Natwest have been told to stop using this advert.

Helpful Banking Charter

Natwest is making a public promise to become[1] Britain's most helpful bank.
This is a real commitment.
It's why we've created our customer charter.
It's why we've listened, and will continue to listen, to thousands of customers across the country.
It's why, when you told us to open on Saturdays, we did.[2]
And why 160 branches will open earlier, or close later.
It's why we're committing to deliver over 25,000 MoneySense for schools lessons.
It's why we devote over 15,000 staff days each year to help local communities.
It's why we'll continue to run mobile banks to serve remote areas.[3]
And why, with our queue busting programme, we aim to serve our customers within 5 minutes. But we know we can do more. You see when we say helpful banking, we want to make sure [garbled]
To find out more visit our website. Natwest. Helpful banking.

Sadly, it would appear, they are still only thinking about 'helpful banking,' rather than actually providing it.

Dorothy Southernwood, wanted to pay a bill, but was unable to because her bank manager refused to allow the payment.

The bill? £27,000. Did Mrs Southernwood have the money in her account? Yup.

Was the payee at all suspect? Well, no - it was the German clinic Mrs Southernwood was attending for cancer treatment.

What did the helpful bank manager do? Even after 5 days of frantic phone calls, she insisted Mrs Southernwood provide written authority from Germany.

In order to try and show willing with the clinic, Mr Southernwood withdrew cash from machines, until the helpful bank helpfully stopped his card after £860.

Rather more helpfully, the bank backed down once they started to be questioned by the press.

[1] They have a long way to go, even though none of the UK banks could be considered particularly helpful. I'm looking at you Santander. I note there's no time scale for when they will actually be Britain's most helpful bank.

[2] Which banks don't have branches open on Saturdays? And I note that they don't qualify this by saying how many of their branches are open on Saturday. (I'm assuming it's not all of them since their branch locator has a check box for listing only those open on Saturdays.)

[3] Perhaps if they hadn't have closed down their branches over the years there wouldn't be a need for 'mobile branches.'

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Apple Magic Trackpad

Let your fingers do the clicking, scrolling and swiping.
Introducing Magic Trackpad. The first Multi-Touch trackpad for Mac desktop computers[1]. Only[!] £59.
I have two things to say here. Firstly, here's another device that also lets your fingers do the clicking, scrolling and swiping.

Cheap mouse. £3.99

Secondly, here's a USB multitouch keyboard. I used to have two of these, bought late 90's/early 00's, and I thought they were wonderful. In case it's not clear from the photo, the left and right panels are like two giant 1/2 keyboard sized mouse touch pads (they're flat except the tiny bumps to indicate the home row) but they can recognise how many fingers are touching. You could not only type, but you could and make 'gestures' involving 2-5 fingers, left and right handed to not only emulate the mouse, but a variety of macros (open/close/new, copy/paste etc.) and some application specific gestures.

The company who used to make this useful product were bought out, and closed down, by Apple in 2005. This keyboard is no longer produced (in this format anyway...)

The Fingerworks Touchstream LP.

About the only new things Apple have introduced[2] into this product is bluetooth connectivity between the unit and the main computer, and making it sound like something new. This stuff was recognisable in the late 90's guys. And Apple didn't even invent it.

[1] Technically I'm sure it's not the first, since I'm sure even a Mac would recognise a Touchstream if it was plugged into it.

[2] They have of course, removed the ability to type letters on it, reduced the size, and (presumably) removed the ability to use it on a normal PC.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Miracle Mineral Solution - bleaching your way to health

From here [current] we, apparently, have a wonderdrug; Miracle Mineral Solution:
This Breakthrough can save your life, or the life of a loved one. The answer to AIDS, hepatitis A,B and C, malaria, herpes, TB, most cancer and many more of mankind's worse diseases has been found. Many diseases are now easily controlled. More than 75,000 disease victims have been included in the field tests in Africa. Scientific clinical trials have been conducted in a prison in the country of Malawi, East Africa.
It continues [current]:
Separate tests conducted by the Malawi government produced identical 99% cure results. Over 60% of the AIDS victims that were treated in Uganda were well in 3 days, with 98% well within one month. More than 90% of the malaria victims were well in 4 to 8 hours. Dozens of other diseases were successfully treated and can be controlled with this new mineral supplement. It also works with colds, flu, pneumonia, sore throats, warts, mouth sores, and even abscessed teeth (it's the only thing that controls and cures abscessed teeth).
Some of the more worldly-wise may look at this, and think "homoeopathy."

You couldn't be more wrong. This stuff actually has more than simply water in it, to which we'll come to in a moment.

And how should it be used [current]?
Always activate the MMS drops with one of the food acids, either lemon juice drops, or lime juice drops, or citric acid solution drops (to make citric acid solution add 1 level tablespoon of citric acid and 9 tablespoons of water. Store it in a bottle with a lid.) Always use 5 drops of one of these food acids to each one drop of MMS [it goes on and on.]
(emphasis mine.) In fact this 'medicine' has been banned in Canada, and in the US, the FDA has issued a warning.


From the FDA warning:
Product contains industrial strength bleach

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers not to take Miracle Mineral Solution, an oral liquid also known as “Miracle Mineral Supplement” or “MMS.” The product, when used as directed, produces an industrial bleach that can cause serious harm to health.

The FDA has received several reports of health injuries from consumers using this product, including severe nausea, vomiting, and life-threatening low blood pressure from dehydration.

Consumers who have MMS should stop using it immediately and throw it away.
From the Canadian warning:
According to the information provided on the company's website, Miracle Mineral Solution is a 28% solution of sodium chlorite. [Note - that's sodium chlorite, not sodium chloride]

Health Canada advises that using this product as directed may cause serious health problems. Ingestion of water treated with Miracle Mineral Solution (28% sodium chlorite solution) has been associated with two adverse reactions in Canada, including one life threatening reaction.

And 'food acid' is supposed to neutralise the bleach in this stuff to make it safe to drink? Wow. (Well I suppose given sufficient lemon juice, it could neutralise the bleach, but still...)

And the reaction of those who have been using this stuff when these warnings have been pointed out to them? Shoot the messenger since 'he's wrong'.

Never underestimate the gullibility of the stupid.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Carling - Taste Lock Can

Carling [current - the archive isn't too good; sorry] have found something 'new' to sell their brand of fizzy alcoholic drink.

The "Taste Lock Can" (this image is a collage from selecting points 1, 2 and 3 on the can):

Without wanting to sound too geeky[1], everyone at Carling is really excited[2] about our new Taste Lock Can, so we’d like to take a minute to tell you why!

(1) Improved seam:
Our improved seam around the top of the can gives ultimate protection[3] for the beer inside[4], locking-in the great taste[5] of Carling and preventing it from developing a 'tinny' taste.[6]

(2) 2 stage 'in-can' liner:
The two stage in-can liner covers the inside of the can to protect the beer from the metal of the can itself[4][7], ensuring that the great taste[5] of Carling isn't affected by any 'tinny' flavours.

(3) New, improved cold indicator:
The new cold indicator (in the shape of a padlock) uses innovative[8] Theromochromic ink to turn blue when the beer inside is at the perfect temperature for you to enjoy. Simply put the cans in your fridge and you can tell when it's ready to drink by checking that the padlock has turned blue. Perfect cold Carling[9] - every time!
[1] Nothing geeky about this at all

[2] Maybe everyone in the marketing department might be, but I suspect that's about it. I'm not sure that the factory workers on the shop floor are ecstatic about this new marketing ploy.

[3] This bit wouldn't be lost in a condom commercial.

[4] Which raises the question: what on earth have they been using up until now? Sub-optimal seams? Leaky seams? Bare metal?

[5] As anyone who drinks more than just cheap/mass produced lager will know, this is debatable. Also, see [9].

[6] One wonders how they're preventing the 'tinny' taste from the opening when the lager is poured out of the can (or, as most chav's drink it, straight out of the can.)

[7] I do believe that this is a legal requirement. Certainly it is a physical requirement. For instance baked bean tins must have an interior coating (usually some sort of plastic - of which there has been some controversy) to stop the acid in the sauce reacting with the tin coating of the can itself. Carbonated drinks (like cola, and fizzy lager) are also acidic.

[8] Thermochromic ink's may have been "innovative" back in the 1970's when they were first discovered. Or in the late 1980's when they were used on T-shirts, Or maybe as late as 2002 when Newcastle Breweries stuck a star on bottles of their Newcastle Brown Ale that turned blue at the 'correct' temperature (12°C.) But in 2010, from Carling? Hardly.

[9] As most drinkers of more than just the cheapest larger will attest, the colder the drink you're drinking, the less taste it has. Some have even postulated, that the reason mainstream lagers, in general, are served so cold (4°C or below) is so that you can't taste them.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Virgin - denying the Pakistan floods


We put customer service and commitment to our passengers at the heart of what we do. We strive to get it right, first time, every time. But occasionally, things don't go as planned.
Indeed. But they make it seem like a minor inconvenience. From

After four of the most terrifying days of my life - driving speedily through landslides, trudging through swollen rivers, and broken dams to get to dry ground, the most frustrating experience I encountered from living through the Pakistani floods (the worst in 80 years with hundreds dead and over half a million displaced) was with Virgin Atlantic Airlines.
[CS staff] insisted that there were no indications in her notes that a flood had happened in Pakistan. [...], she eventually suggested that I try and convince another airline company to call her and convince her that an international crisis had happened. Confused by this strange request, but eager to resolve the situation, I asked her what information she would need, which airline she recommended, and which number I should have them call. She either hung up on me at that point, or I got disconnected.

 From the Virgin page again:
We really want to give only the best levels of service to all our customers.
 I think they need to train their staff first.