Thursday, November 06, 2008

Anonymous bank accounts - why not?

In today's society it is hard to imagine not having some of the bureacracy that has grown up in recent years. One area we could change however is bank accounts. Currently whenever I want to set up an account in Britain I have to provide extensive personal information as the operative transfers my life's history onto the bank's database. However with things like pre-paid phones and debit cards, I can't see why we don't have anonymous bank accounts.

Here is how it would work. You go to a bank with, for example, £100 and ask to set up a basic account. You are given a pin number/card and security password so only you can access your money. Simple.

Obviously the problem here is money laundering/benefit fraud/child support evasion and so on, however I'm sure with a suitably low limit to the amount you can have in the account and considering that most government means-testing is based on income, not the total money you have, it really should be possible. Indeed effectively with store money vouchers and mobile phone top-up this is exactly what we do already have, only without any interest. There seems to me no reason why the scheme couldn't be extended.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Online verification to post comments

How often have you attempted to post a message online and been met with a frustrating "online verification" box. Now this is an important measure for site owners to prevent spam messages being published, however the text messages should be reasonably easy to read. Increasingly however I'm finding the verification methods hard to read/decode and the disabled sound clip options resemble bleating sheep watching terrestrial tv in Wales - *krzzBAAkrrzzzz* - and they are set to become increasingly more difficult to decipher as spammers become more sophisticated.

Things websites could try:
Easy random IQ tests.
Pictures of things and users have to describe what they see e.g. cat, boat, car.
A word with all the characters split in half in two separate images. The user then simply matches them together.

Gah. I don't know. How can a computer create something which is random, easily readable to the public, but not other computers?

Please send your solutions to the problem to Yahoo, Google and all the others using such verification techniques (once you've patented it) because it could be worth quite a bit of money and make things easier for the rest of us.

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TFL passenger campaign is patronising and a waste of money

As someone who uses the tube often I can tell you it is becoming an increasingly unpleasant environment. From all the cameras staring at you to the excessive announcements reminding you that the cameras are there and the security warnings designed to make you not resent the presence of all the cameras coupled with the expensive shops, electronic adverts and the relentless drone of the grey ticket barriers slamming open and shut.

Once we get past all of those problems then I start to think about the other passengers because frankly on 90%+ of my journeys the other passengers are silent and completely immersed in their own plans.

Anyway sometime last year I started observing stupid posters saying things like "I won't play my music loud" and "I'll keep my temper down" and similar slogans. Of course I posted a rather dainty response on the ever informative Spyblog site:

"I won't run around stations" "and I won't shoot you down".

You can imagine my bemusement when today I discovered that tfl had launched an online version of the campaign.

In my usual jubilant spirit I posted a comment which criticised the environment of the stations as described above, yet somehow it seems to have been filtered.

Now whilst I understand the spirit of the campaign is to encourage the public to be passive on the tube, I think the messages are patronising, derogatory and avoid tackling some of the other essential reasons that the tube isn't always a great place to be. The fact I was censored says it all. Authoritarians.

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Blogger won't let me log in on Opera

Alas I've been trying the excellent new Opera 9.6 but sadly blogger won't allow me to log in using it. Annoying. Though I can understand why it might be commercially difficult for Google. Ah, back to Firefox I guess.