Monday, 31 December 2007

Too HIP...?

I went looking for info on HIPS and found hips instead....ok, loose link, but what I'm trying to snake my way to is a short para on the subject of Home Information Packs, or HIPS. They've just become mandatory in the UK when you sell your property and comprise of a set of documents you need to start preparing before you can market your property. The documents cover areas such as energy efficiency, leasehold info and local searches and is supposed to give buyers immediate access to the sort of information they'd usually need to get themselves after entering into discussions about an offer - sounds good, I mean this at least means that buyers can quickly check the basics before making a decision - but, and I mean BUT, would you trust the seller of a property to commission a document without doing your own checks? If you're spending a few £100'k on a place I certainly would want to make my own checks which means they're all been done twice.......and someone, somewhere, is getting paid to do the checks twice....nice little earner if you can get it!! Costs are around £350 - another area where some people's reactions have been a little extreme. If you're spending, say, £200k on a house, you've already got to cough up stamp duty, solicitor fees, moving costs etc.etc.... a few hundred quid extra on a HIP really isn't going to break the bank - and if it does you shouldn't be moving at all!!! This is where the whole HIP thing has been a bit of a mess; in principle it sounds good and you can actually compile it yourself so you don't need to pay an estate agent or solicitor to do it. By getting a HIP it also means you're serious about selling and not just probing to see what you could get (a problem in London...). I'm sure it'll all settle down but for fucks sake STOP MOANING ABOUT THE COST - if you can't afford £350 on top of your existing moving costs then you are not in a position to consider the risk of moving - you're very likely to come up against other unexpected costs which make the HIP pale into insignificance.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Famous Putney inhabitants

It ain't just a great place to live, there's a good chance you'll spot a famous face or two as well if you wander the streets of SW15.

Firstly, on my favourite theme of mind-numbing reality shows, ex-X Factor mentor and '80's singer Sinitta lives on Colinette Road - apparently been in some bover with the Wandsworth Council planners over some kit in her garden. Oh well, guess it's not something to worry about if you're So Macho..... :)

Next up is Amanda Burton, famous for playing the lead in Silent Witness. Mind you don't get up to any mischief in these parts....

Moving on, Sue Lawley, a well-known "broadcaster" in the UK lives on Briar Walk, just off the Upper Richmond Road (the URR as opposed to the LRR, the get it). She's on Radio 4 at the moment so perhaps a picture isn't quite the right thing to put up. Still, maybe she's got something in the pipeline for the telly!

I'll scout around and find more Faces to put on here. If you are a Celebrity and wish to appear here, please let me know or comment yourself in - a bit like Wikipedia but without the CIA getting a chance to have their say about your career....bye!

Monday, 10 December 2007

For Sale - Barclays PINsentry

Ok, so I moan a fair bit, but I mean what's the point of a Blog if you can't moan? So here's a cracker on the subject of authenticating online banking transactions - Barclays PINsentry. Oh dear. There are two ways to do things - the Right Way and the Wrong Way; this is the Wrong Way....

Let me explain. Every time I log onto my account from a PC, any PC, including my home PC, I need to insert my card into this device, enter my PIN and submit the number it gives me to the website logon page. Every time. If I get my PIN wrong it tells me. So, I'm at work and I realise my electricity bill is due today. All I need to do is log on and make the payment - just what online banking is all about. Ah. That's right, I forgot to pick up my PINsentry when I left this morning, silly me! I access my account from dozens of places, airport lounges, foreign hotels, work, home, family when I visit - am I expected to carry this device, the size of a calculator, everywhere I go? Ok, so I manage with my phone but that's about it and even that slips into my pocket a damn sight easier that this shite. What a pain, what a fucking pain.

So, I asked for some more PINsentry devices so I could have one where I needed it. Ok they said, but they cost £6 each. F*ing hell, I got a bit upset and demanded to speak to the manager. A few minutes of haggling later and I am now the proud recipient of another 2 PINsentry devices, free, bringing my grand total to 3.

Now, however, I think I can make some money out of this given the inherent ability of the device to check a PIN number for a card. So - special offer - for only £5 I will sell one of my PINsentry devices to you, allowing you to quickly verify whether you have the correct PIN number for a, err, borrowed *cough* card - remember - the device tells you if the PIN is correct. I would suggest you could carry it with you whilst "obtaining" the cards, thus ensuring that the card donator has given you the correct PIN without needing to escort them to a cashpoint. How useful. Of course it only works with Barclays cards but hell, they probably hold about a third of all UK accounts so your chances are pretty good should you chance upon an opportunity...

The reason it gripes me (apart from the murkier uses of the device) is that there are other ways, more practical ways and devices to achieve the same thing - RSA tokens for example, a small key fob or credit card thing you can pop in your wallet which gives you a unique, changing number - or a variant on the credit card device that allows you to pop in a PIN number. Quite why the physical device has to be so cumbersome I have no idea.

I've had enough, so please let me know if you're interested in purchasing a Barclays PINsentry (£1 off the RRP) and we'll sort something out using PayPal, eBay or something. I'd be interested in hearing if any other people have had similar devices thrust upon them by other banks, or if they have experienced a more pragmatic way of doing this. Ta v much.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Rhumbling on Putney Bridge

Did you know that the two scallies from the Toon, formally known as PJ and Duncan, filmed the video for their "hit" song Let's Get Ready To Rhumble on Putney Bridge? About one minute through the video there's a clip of them and their pals on the bridge, cracking stuff!