Tag Archives: London

Visa forces ATMs at Olympics venues to close

You may have seen this story over the past couple of days: Visa forces ATMs at Olympics venues to close | Money | guardian.co.uk.
If you are one of the lucky people to have got tickets for the Olympics, you’d better make sure you have enough cash before you go. In much the same way as you’ll only find Coca-cola drinks and MacDonalds food (nice to see the Olympics highlighting British food and British companies for the catering isn’t it?) the exclusive deal with Visa means that in the Olympic Park you’ll only find Visa cash machines. Worse than that the non-Visa cash machines already present in some of the venues are being turned off for the duration of the games reducing the available cashpoints from twenty-seven to eight.

Increasingly this Olympics is becoming more and more about the big sponsors whether it is good for the competitors and public or not.

This is Not Them – This is Us

Everybody I know is shocked by the pictures filling our TV screens and on the front pages of our newspapers this morning. The airwaves are filled with harrowing stories of people losing everything as the mob burned their home, shopkeepers barricading themselves in their shops to try and protect their livelihoods, and kids and young people looting thousands of pounds worth of merchandise from the trashed stores.

There is also a lot of labelling going on, people calling them a variety of terms, but does the labelling allow us to hide the sad and much more difficult reality? This isn’t some foreign invader destroying our community, these are our own people. These are people brought up in the same country, educated in the same school system, they haven’t just arrived, they’ve been here for many years.

So what has changed now? The big thing seems to be organisation. Talk to anybody who lives in any sort of large, particularly deprived estate across the country and there are numerous reports week after week of kids hanging around causing trouble, bins set on fire, minor vandalism. There are the occasional big stories, for example kids in Finchampstead burning the community centre, cases where people have been pushed too far by so called anti-social behaviour, but it largely goes unreported and local. Now, with the realisation that the Police in this country keep control by consensus – as a retired Policeman on the radio this morning said with 30,000 officers the Met can’t stop 7,000,000 people from doing anything if they decide they want to loot their local trainer or mobile phone store – the trouble has spread beyond the estates, to places where it’s impossible to ignore and put down to a troubled area. Rather than torching bins they’re torching landmark stores that have served their communities for decades, buildings that survived the blitz, but were torched by people who are free because of the sacrifices the blitz generation made.

We can wail and howl about these criminals, but these criminals are people we as a country have created. However we deal with the immediate problem, Britain needs to take a long hard look at what we’ve been doing for decades to breed hundreds and hundreds of young people across the country who see it as acceptable to do this to their own community.

Above all we need to remember that it’s not “them”, much as we do not like it, this is “us”, these are British people burning and looting British communities.

Not Easily Impressed

This is probably my favourite shot so far, not for Obama and Cameron having a great time reliving battles across the ping pong table from the sixth form common room, but because of the distinctly unimpressed voter of the future behind.

Maybe she’s just not impressed by a couple of politicians playing table tennis, or maybe she was the one who had the table tennis table booked for this particular slot and has been bumped for the photo opportunity!

Hands Up Anybody Who Thinks These Two Actually Cooked This…

With the White House, Number 10 and Royal Family Flickr feeds all publishing pictures from the Obama State Visit there are loads of great shots coming out. This one is from the barbecue in the grounds of Number 10.

Maybe I’m doing them an injustice and Obama and Cameron tended the coals all afternoon cooking the burgers, but somehow I doubt it…

Betsy Weber Geek Dinner

Most times when a Geek Dinner is announced for London, it’s really not practical for me to attend. What with a journey of around an hour by train into the centre of the city, and then often a need to take the Underground to wherever the dinner is being held it’s really not practical to get there from work.

This week is a bit different. I’m on a course run by Developmentor, who host their London courses in a managed office block a short walk from Kensington Olympia Underground, so rather than a long train journey, the journey into the west end is about twenty minutes on the Underground. So when Ian posted on Twitter yesterday that he had had a couple of cancellations for the dinner that night I took advantage of being in London and headed along.

The host/special guest at the dinner was Betsy Weber of TechSmith who was in town as part of a trip around the UK, Ireland and France, and although I was vaguely aware of the company, it wasn’t a name I had come across.

Having said that, it was probably a fortuitous coincidence, as having taken a look at the website of the company, their product is really just what we’ve been looking for.

One of the issues we have at work is that users, like everybody else’s users, don’t bother to read manuals. They often end up learning to use the applications via onsite training as either a super user who has been involved in the development, or one of us in the development team travels around training the users. What we have been talking about doing of late is producing screen casts to demonstrate the software, hopefully cutting down on the travelling for face to face training.

Anyway, it did prove to be a good opportunity to share some ideas about screen casting, and certainly we can take a look at TechSmith when budgets allow.

Aside from that, like most Geek Dinners it was a real mix of people and provided lots of broad talk about technology. I was sat next to Ian, and we had an opportunity to catch up with his work with Silverlight. Opposite was Paul, an accountant by trade, but who also is involved in the regular Bar Camp events. I also talked to Julielyn, a friend of Betsy who was travelling with her and who runs a company specialising in Social Media and Internet Strategy. Sat next to me on the other side was Melinda who again is involved in BarCamp and Geek Dinners.

All in all it was a great evening. The restaurant, the Cote, a French restaurant in Soho had apparently come recommended from Colin MacKay – definitely a hit – good food and well priced. Having said that, none of us actually had to pay anything, as despite us offering to split the bill Betsy kindly picked up the bill for the whole evening!

I had my iPhone with me, so below are a few pictures I snapped during the evening.