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Archive for February, 2014

NatWest Probably the Worst Bank in the UK

“Bad service” the understatement of this decade

NatWest (National Westminster, part of the Royal Bank of Scotland) used to be pretty good, but it became absolutely terrible a few years ago, not just for customers but also for staff (what’s left of the staff that’s qualified). There were systemic changes that were covered here before. Earlier this year it was the last straw (much had happened beforehand) and we decided to ditch the bank. We decide to transfer all the money elsewhere after they had made many mistakes. But it’s not easy. Even then they make a mistake (not passing all the money, forgetting to pay interest) and later, only upon visiting the bank again, they finally admitted their error and then refused to issue a letter that would enable us to ask the new bank to compensate us for NatWest making its mistake. Basically, NatWest had an innocent party, Nationwide, blamed in vain and it caused hours of painful work and nuisance (for all sides which were innocent victims). But wait, it gets worse. NatWest then closed the account and forgot or failed to send a closing statement. How can a bank be so incompetent? Many arguments were needed to make a resolution reachable and no resolution has been reached yet. It’s chaos because the staff if not skilled enough to deal with the scenario. This is just typical NatWest as of recent years. The staff member there don’t know what the heck they are doing.

It is worth adding that NatWest still advertises in many pamphlets everywhere that it is saying “yes” to almost every loan request, gloating about accepting 90% of applications, essentially gambling with savers’ money by giving it to people who cannot pay back. This is a recipe for bankruptcy (or taxpayers-paid bailout), especially when banks are allowed to lend around 10 times the amount they actually possess. This is corruption.

In summary, NatWest is a terrible bank these days and those who try to leave it may find that even upon departure the bank is unable do work properly. A lot of problems can be spared and avoided if one quits NatWest or never joins them to begin with. Learn from other people’s repeatedly-horrible experience. My friends who are with NatWest say the same about the bank.

Richard Stallman on Social Networks

TechBytes with Stallman

Direct download as Ogg

Summary: Dr. Richard Stallman, the Free Software Foundation’s founder, talks about the RMS account at and more

Worth noting: After our last interview release (about Diaspora) someone created an RMS account at JoinDiaspora, echoing what already exists in and

Made entirely using Free/libre software, heavily compressed for performance on the Web at quality’s expense

Richard Stallman on Diaspora

TechBytes with Stallman

Direct download as Ogg

Summary: Dr. Richard Stallman, the Free Software Foundation’s founder, talks about Diaspora as a social networking platform

Made entirely using Free/libre software, heavily compressed for performance on the Web at quality’s expense

That Funny Valentine

My Funny Valentine

Rianne Schestowitz

On Valentine’s Day we think of those
Who make our lives worthwhile,
Those gracious, friendly people who
We think of with a smile.

I am fortunate to know you,
That’s why I want to say,
To a rare and special person:
Happy Valentine’s Day!

By Joanna Fuchs

Stallman Talks About Google ‘Evils’

TechBytes with Stallman

Direct download as Ogg

Summary: Dr. Richard Stallman, the Free Software Foundation’s founder, talks about Google’s descent into “evil”

Made entirely using Free/libre software, heavily compressed for performance on the Web at quality’s expense

Ryman (Large UK Chain) Switches to GNU/Linux on Desktops

Earlier today I went to Ryman, which a well established and widely known stationery shops chain in the UK, in order to get special prints. I was greeted by a young woman standing in front of a machine with Ubuntu GNU/Linux (version 12.04 by the looks of it) and lots of Free software like LibreOffice 3. She explained to me that the company switched to that for security reasons, after an infection had spread through the whole company. Well, given what NSA and GCHQ are known to be doing through USB ports, one would be irresponsible to use Windows to accept files from USB devices of arbitrary customers. Prior to Ryman I used similar services in a prints store (local family business) that uses Mac OS for accepting files over USB.

It should be noted that using Ryman for prints is not wise. They charge £2 (more than $3) for the service of just extracting a single file from a USB key, even if one prints just a single page. Copying the file takes just a few seconds, so they charge far more than a prostitute (pro rata).

Anyway, the good news is that UK businesses — even very large businesses — are adopting GNU/Linux on the desktops. It is rarely — if ever — being announced.

If You Are Not a Large-scale Privacy Violator, Then Seagate Does Not Care About You


MY endless Seagate nightmare began last September, just under a month before my Maplin warranty for the Seagate drive (3 terabyte of storage) ended and over a year before my Seagate ‘warranty’ (2 years) ended. I went a long way to Maplin (where I had purchased the drive) only to be told that I should contact Seagate directly. Their Web site was hard to use, handling RMA was hard (I am not an idiot when it comes to user interfaces), and the instructions they provided (far too long) were self-contradictory (not just ambiguous but self-contradictory). If I criticised them publicly, then Segates’s PR account would jump in and try to appease. Words do little to improve things. Then they wanted me to volunteer to improve their manuals.

What was wrong with the drive was physical errors. I did not drop the drive, it did not get wet, and it was not mishandled as far I can tell. Files would vanish, the drive would not get mounted sometimes, and the kernel would panic a lot. It was useless. It became totally unreliable. In an attempt to salvage what I still could I quickly bought another 3 terabyte backup drive (foolishly I paid Seagate again) and spent weeks copying — manually (due to errors) — a lot of files over from the faulty drive to the new one. The new drive cost me about 100 pounds (150 US dollars) and days of my life. It also cost me in lost (permanently) data, but hey, drives do have faults sometimes, right? Sure, it happens, but what happens when a company like Seagate sends you another faulty drive to replace a faulty drive?

So many days and even weeks (dozens of hours of work) later I wrestled my way through Seagate’s bizarre and complicated RMA process, having to print all sorts of papers and ship at my own expense the faulty drive which was still under warranty. What did I get a week or so later? A well-packaged “refurbished” drive. I regret not tossing it right in the bin when I got it. That pile of garbage was just a faulty drive spun off as “new” (or “refurbished” as Seagate likes to call faulty old drives). I spent a huge amount of time replacing (swapping) one broken product with another. To make things worse, I did it at my own expense and Seagate’s support people are hardly even replying. I spent hours yet again trying to get justice in this case, and by justice I don’t just mean explaining to people what a horrible company Seagate is and why it deserves no business. True justice would be compensation for all these hours that I spent working with these faulty drives, never mind that data I lost in the process. There is no excuse for sending faulty drives out to people. It can drive them nuts. It ruined a whole day of mine, including my appetite.

A lot of people may not realise this, but the California-based company Seagate makes a lot of money helping the criminals at the NSA and its equivalents (global espionage). Seagate helps entities which unquestionably break the law store innocent people’s personal data, and probably shipping to them (not just to private companies) drives which actually work and last, ensuring that those who have no rights to that data get to keep it for good, whereas people like myself lose personal data (not to mention vastly reduced productivity), simply because Seagate ships faulty drives and hardly bothers fixing what’s unjust. This post need not delve much into the relationship between Seagate and the NSA (see for instance “SEAGATE SECURE SELF-ENCRYPTING LAPTOP HARD DRIVES EARN NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY QUALIFICATIONS FOR NATIONAL SECURITY SYSTEMS”); the point is, for regular clients that don’t purchase drives by the millions (to illegally copy citizens’ personal data from around the world) Seagate is just an arrogant, heavyweight beast. It helps those in power hoard data about us, while hardly helping us — mere mortals — keep our own data safe.

I could go on and specify just how much data and what type of data I lost (measuring the damage and the time would be in the thousands of dollars). I could specify the tests I performed and explain where and how time was wasted. But even the writing of this rant, almost 5 months after this whole Seagate nightmare began, would add up to the pain and anger. I tried to be patient with Seagate. I did not disparage them (using facts) until months later and this is my first blog post on the subject.

Seagate deserves no more purchases. It’s not because its hard drives become faulty. It’s because when they do get faulty (and are still under warranty) Seagate would continue to do damage (or damage control) and patronise/ignore those who are not big clients like the NSA.

Seagate is a malicious company. Boycott its products. If not for the NSA connection, then for bad quality, bad customer support, preinstalling Microsoft patent trap on all hardware, etc.

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