I'd like an Invoice please (Avis)

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As someone who reasonably regularly has to claim expenses for business travel it never ceases to amaze me quite how inept some companies (for whom people like me make up a large percentage of their business) are at the simplest of things. I regularly book cars with Avis. This is done through their website directly, and paid in advance. I can't, however, claim this payment at the time as it's a "pre-paid voucher" rather than "car hire" Later, this "pre-paid voucher" settles the car hire account and, in theory, I should get an Invoice (which they can't give me at th…

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Estate Agents - a follow up...

One of the professions many love to hate, estate agents. I recently posted my rant/review of a few estate agents when selling in Glasgow for a move north to the Highlands. The right choice? After inviting four agencies to quote (three of which bothered turning up); McEwan Fraser Legal (who I don't trust), Nicol (whose attention to detail was sadly lacking) and Rettie (who actually seemed pretty good!) we eventually settled on Rettie in Newton Mearns. And ultimately, yes, they were. Whilst the market in Newton Mearns is a bit more buoyant than it is up here, selling in four days was unexpected!…

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How not to do APIs

The company involved here will remain anonymous, as they offer a good (and relatively unique) service and I don't want to damage any relationship with them, nor discourage others from using them just for this reason! Additionally, their support has been excellent. I hope others find this though, and take it into account when considering their own API design and strategy decisions. As you may know I have some experience developing complex APIs for large service providers. The approach to this has changed over the years, but some of the basic principles remain the same. The Company The company…

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Eurobeat: Moldova!

I have provided voting for numerous (almost 20 now!) productions of Eurobeat: Almost Eurovision and am pleased to announce that one again I am providing the voting for the new professional production of Eurobeat (and the visuals are looking better than ever!) And the only thing better than a new Eurobeat with all new countries and professional production values is giving back a little elsewhere. Eurobeat: Moldova is using premium SMS messaging for the first time, and donating 100% of the funds raised to two charities - Waverley Care and Dickens Legacy For more information see eurobeatvote.net…

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Husqvarna Automower Challenge - Communication

For a bit of background on this see my first post on this. But, in summary, I am a participant in the automower challenge. Automower Connect The larger Automowers (430X, 450X) support a smartphone app called "Automower Connect" which allow you to configure and control the mower from your iPhone. Unlike some competing products, this doesn’t use WiFi. This is a good thing as the range of a typical home WiFi router would mean that in some parts of larger garden it would be unable to communicate. Instead the mower itself has a built-in SIM card and functions like a mobile phone. The SIM…

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The Wrong Lizard

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So, in a tumultuous week in UK politics our Prime Minister resigned after losing a referendum he didn't want to hold in the first place which was basically the result of trying to appease some internal party squabbling. Now, when an MP resigns, we hold a by-election allowing for their replacement to be voted in. Based on this approach - When the PM resigns, you'd expect an election, but instead we have more internal party squabbling and it seems they've boiled down to two; Angela Leadsom Lies on her CV Doesn't support equal marriage Worried about 'offending Christians' Claims god has spoken to…

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Phishing at LLoyds

Today I received a phishing eMail, nothing unusual there... I get loads of them, but this is a little more convincing than most for one reason, it contained my postal address (ok, one from many years ago, but nonetheless it proves that it was a lot more targeted than some) The eMail As usual the grammar and formatting are both terrible, so you'd be unlikely to believe this is from Lloyds bank, but many people do it seems. The usual fake urgency is a bit of a giveaway as well - Please respond within the next hour to avoid a permanent block. - why ? So, let's respond ... The website This is actu…

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Reverse Lookup ("CNAM") in the UK

For many years the USA has had a 'CNAM' service (or Caller ID Name), allowing telecoms operators to show the name of the caller rather than a number. There are obvious advantages to this, having "BT" show when they phone rather than 0800 800 150 would be much more useful, but is also open to abuse. After all, would you trust a call appearing to be from your bank if the name appeared? The method of powering this is known as a Reverse Lookup. OpenCNAM Today I stumbled upon a service called OpenCNAM which claims to offer this across the globe and, surprisingly, matched my mobile number…

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Husqvarna Automower Challenge - Navigation

For a bit of background on this see my first post on this. But, in summary, I am a participant in the automower challenge. GPS Assisted Navigation The Automower Connect app shows a map view under the "Geofence" tab that shows where the Automower has been, and a heat map showing areas concentrated on. This view is rather simplistic, so I put a GPS receiver on top of the Automower for a couple of hours, and plotted the following; As you can see it does cover pretty much the whole garden, and the next time it goes out, it takes a different route, covering the bits it missed last time.…

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Brexit

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So, the decision has been made and the British public has voted (somewhat underwhelmingly) to leave the EU by 48% Remain, to 52% leave. What does that remind me of... "In a 52-48 referendum this would be unfinished business by a long way" Nigel Farage Except, despite his worryingly accurate prediction of the divide, it went his way, so it isn't unfinished business... it's a "clear win" Regional Divide Split by region, the picture was less clear; in Scotland a large majority of 62% voted for Remain, in Northern Ireland 55% and in London 60%, with some London boroughs as high…

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