Less than a buck, WTF

I continue to be amazed, saddened and I some ways angry about the inefficiencies in the US Banking system and the inability for big financial institutions to see how much this is costing the economy.

I’m sat in line for a drive up teller, coz the bank closed at 4:30 or 5pm, whatever, that’s not the point. The point is I have two checks to deposit, one for $0.07 from an IBM Share account I thought I closed 2-years ago, and the other, as attached my US GOVERNMENT TAX refund.

You’d think the government would save its money and the banks by just carrying this amount as a credit into the next year, or at least do a electronic credit. I could just rip the check up and let the government have the money but it doesn’t work like that in account the money just gets held in a suspense account for nearly ever.

Lets not even get started on how crappy the admin is behind the IBM share system that has been issuing ever decreasing amounts for the last 16-months…

The problem is the paper check. Its like many other things, when you don’t think the the system is broken, you can’t see how things could be. If nothing else, the processing banks, ie where I’m depositing the checks should be able to levy a processing charge from the issuing account, but not from mine. If issuing a check for $0.07 is the best they can do, and processing it costs $4.50, then they should be charged $4.57

Ps. If anyone from Amplify Credit Union is watching, that’s me sat out in the parking lot, your ATM workflow sucks if you are depositing more than one check. Oh yeah tell Sheryl I’m still waiting for a reply…

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Texas A&M Slides – Technical and Professional Careers

Here are the Technical and Professional career slides I used for yesterdays CSCE 481 Seminar at Texas A&M University. Thanks to Prof. Robin R. Murphy, PhD, IEEE Fellow; Raytheon Professor of Computer Science & Engineering; Director, Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue – for inviting me to speak, and to the students for all the great questions afterwards.

If I can be of any help in your future, please get in touch.

Careers and Professions in IT

Next week I’m speaking up at Texas A&M University on professional development, career management et al. I’ve finished the revision of my slides and if you’d like to preview them, or even better give me some feedback, you can find them it here: Technical and Professional career (3/27 Update: Final version.)

A couple of related things came through my email today, they both have some interesting material some of which I cover, and that I don’t.

10 Mistakes that Could Doom Your Career as an IT Pro.

How to get paid more (on theregister.com)

BBC Plans iTunes Competitor With Download Fees For New And Old Shows

Excellent news if it comes to pass. I’ve made some comments on the original paidconnet comments page, including describing why you wouldn’t put the content on iTunes; why the UK License payers are not paying for the content twice; and why the only thing radical about this, is that they have not done it before.

BBC Plans iTunes Competitor With Download Fees For New And Old Shows | paidContent.

Test is production

I heard a great example of global misunderstanding yesterday in a discussion about testing at scale for “big data” type systems. It was claimed, and I accept for the purpose of this post, that you couldn’t test an application that took 5-hours on 20,000 servers, maybe so.

However, if the data was considered personal information under most western economies privacy laws, that meant you couldn’t test against production data anyway. So you go live without testing or have to have a process to anonymise the data before you test on it. Then there’s the 20,000 server problem…

So in the spirit of test is production, since the oldest entry in this new blog is from 2004 where I was using my, then new smartphone, a Palm Tungsten W to post over the internet’s, this is today’s equivalent. I’m using a Dell Venue Pro with Windows Phone 7.5 via the t-mobile GSM network. testing, testing, 123…

East End Match Girls and Apple/FoxCon

I was struck by the similarity of the plight and treatment of the BRYANT & MAY MATCHWOMEN in the East End of London, in the 1880’s, and the hi-tech assembly workers at the FoxConn factories in China.

I heard an interview with Louise Raw, Historian and Author, on this mornings Robert Elms, BBC Radio London show, talking about her new book, Striking a Light. The comparison was really only around the plight of the workers than anything else. Thinking about it afterwards the scale of the hi-tech workers is staggering, Wired estimates 1-million workers working on the iPhone alone, which beggars belief.

The clear difference between the two is not just the number of deaths, the illness, the treatment etc. but the nature of the society that allowed both to exist. In the 1880’s the Bryant and May Matchwomen had the ability to incite change and the ability to start a union like organization. In China, it’s not at all clear this is even remotely possible.

If you can catch todays Robert Elms show on the BBC iPlayer, it’s well worth a listen. It should be posted by 1pm Central time, and will be available only for the next 7-days. Unless I get time to rip that section of the show and post to soundcloud.

Big Government trust issues

Yesterday I wrote about This American Lifes “What Kind of Country do you want?” at which as was surprised at how much disdain and distrust there was of the US Government. As if by magic, when I got home I had missed a certified mail delivery from the IRS. I collected the letter this morning, it was a demand for $2434.04 with no explanation.

After 18-minutes on the phone, I spoke to one operator who could tell me only that it was late fees and interest. I asked for a statement that I could file with my tax attorney ans she said she couldn’t provide that, she’d have to put me through to some advanced dept. After another 20-mins on hold, a man answered, was polite, asked if it was ok to hold, came back 6-mins later, said his software was slow, and then said “oh there you go it’s come back now I’m talking about it”. He asked if he could put me back on hold, came back eventually and said he’d have to submit a paper request and it would take 30-days.

Note, the fact that I’d only been given another 9-days to pay before the US Government would exercise their intent to seize my property, meant I should just pay it. I submitted the payment via a 3rd party for the $3.49 fee and gave the guy on the phone a payment confirmation number.

I told him I was the Director for Software engineering at Dell; I’d be happy to hang up my boots and come fix their software, my fees were a very reasonable $1,000 per day. He said they have lots of software but his computer was an HP, I passed on the chance to make fun of that. Total call time 58-minutes, 38-seconds.

I’m starting to see that if you grow up and these are the sorts of tales, inefficiencies and hopeless situations, you do indeed become skeptical about big government. I’m going to see the US Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) tomorrow for my permanent immigration application. Wish me luck.

Journalists would rather act as a gateway for Apple press releases

than do a real job”. Brilliant, sums up what I’ve thought for a longtime. No real examination of Apples products, no difficult questions, except recent coverage of their problems with manufacturing; the press would rather fawn over their products than do a critical examination.

Well this is a great summary of the upcoming Apple anouncement “Too many inky hacks pulled out to cover Apple instead. We, the Press would rather sit in a dark room, unable to ask tough questions or actually touch and test an Apple product, than do our job. We would rather serve as a gateway for Apple’s live action press releases.” You can read the rest here on Mat Honans’ Gizmodo blog.

Note in case this entry starts showing up on google search results, I’m not saying Apple has bad products, I wouldn’t know, I’ve never owned one and the press coverage doesn’t really tell you anything, it’s just an extension to Apples marketing operation, as Mat admits.