Archive for the ‘Natter’ Category

English spelling

Saturday, 14 January, 2017

I was thinking I should post more stuff here. So I’ll try to add some things that I’d consider for Twitter, but which are too long to tweet. First off the bat:

I was reading a thread in the IWC forums that turned to discussing English spelling, and how terrible the “i before e except after c” rule is, and how it makes people actually mis-spell words sometimes.

Now I’ve been a native English speaker all my life and I’m a pretty good speller, but there are still some words I have trouble spelling. And of course if you were to say a word I was unfamiliar with and asked me to spell it, I’d pretty much just be guessing.

On the other hand, I’ve been learning Italian for just a few years. One of the exercises I do is listen to a computer generated voice reading Italian sentences, and transcribe them by typing them out in Italian (there are also different exercises where I translate into English). And as long as I listen carefully enough, I can always get the Italian spelling correct, even if it’s a word I’ve never heard before.

Banking over the phone

Tuesday, 30 April, 2013

Stupid bank. My Visa debit card expired today. I’d expected a new one to arrive in the mail, but no sign of it. So I phoned the bank…

Navigated a maze of numbered options, and when none of the options matched my problem I picked the closest thing. When I finally got a human, he told me I had reached the wrong department and transferred me…

I got a guy whose voice was horribly distorted so I had to ask him to repeat every second thing he said. (It turned out later when my wife was talking to him to lodge a complaint, that he was in the Philippines. His English was fine, but the international phone line was dreadful.)

I told him I hadn’t received a replacement Visa card. He asked me to have my six-digit personal banking ID number ready and he would switch to a system so I could key it in. “Six digit ID number? Do I have one of those? Let me check my big list of ID stuff…” I checked but couldn’t find any number like that associated with my bank account. The guy then said I had two options: go into a branch, or he would ask me a series of security questions. I figured if I fail the security questions I can go into a branch anyway, so said go ahead.

He asked my full name, Visa card number, card expiry date, my birthdate, my address, the year we opened the account, the branch the account was opened at, the approximate current balance in the account, and details of a recent transaction. I answered all of these questions, including the exact amount, date, ATM location, and reported balance on our last ATM withdrawal, which was just yesterday. The guy then said sorry, the system had locked me out of accessing my account.

I had kind of expected this, since I’ve had similar experiences dealing with this bank before, so I just said I’d go into a branch. <sigh>

Rain, Rain, Rain. Outlook: More Rain

Thursday, 1 March, 2012

Sheesh, what a summer. To any tourist who visited Sydney this summer and expected some nice weather: I’m sorry. Truly and deeply sorry.

It is, of course, pouring rain right now. The 28-day weather outlook is: Rain. Every. Single. Day.

Half the state is either flooded or in danger of going under some time in the next 24 hours, including many Sydney suburbs. Parts of the state have received a third or more of their annual average rainfall in February alone. The forecast for the next 24 hours is up to 140 mm more rain in some areas. Warragamba Dam, Sydney’s main reservoir, is at capacity and expected to overflow within the next few hours. (The stupid thing about this being that a few years ago, when we thought the drought would never break, the government contracted for a huge water desalination plant in Sydney. And now they can’t turn it off because then the government would be liable for tens of millions of dollars of damages for breach of contract to the contractor. So instead we’re paying them to waste energy generating fresh water which is pumped into our water supply – thus making the dam overflow more and generating floods along the river valley.)

And despite all this rain, the weather has finally warmed up. It was wet today, but also 30°C and sauna-like humidity. It felt like Bangkok, seriously. It’s thick, heavy, sticky, steamy, tropical rain that penetrates to the skin despite not even hitting you. It’s 8:30pm now, and I’m sitting here inside my home, and sweat is literally dripping down my face because it’s so damn humid.


Thursday, 18 August, 2011

Why do computer scientists insist we start counting at 0, and then put “0” after “9” on the keyboard??


Thursday, 21 July, 2011

Wow, it’s wet outside. I haven’t been out in rain that heavy in a year or two, at least. I was dry when I got off the train, literally 2 minutes walk from home. I had a heavy knee-length raincoat and an umbrella. By the time I got home, I was soaked through to the knees.

Sydney has had 160 mm of rain in the past 48 hours. There’s an enormous subtropical storm of some sort hanging off the coast. Apparently the swells out to sea are 10 metres, and waves up to 5 metres are hitting Sydney beaches.