Archive for March, 2006

Why I am still banking with Citibank


Citibank Opening page

I moved to Citibank six years ago. Although it is the largest bank in the world, I was, at the time, a little concerned that it only had six branches in the UK.

There is one thing that has caused more disatisfaction with British bank customers, and that is the high penalties if one slips unwittingly into the red.

However, I don’t want to mislead you. Citibank also has high penalties, as high as any British bank.

But they must have had. as a member of their executive staff, someone who had more than one GCSE. This person came up with a very good idea. Every customer has an automatic £500 overdraft. The only thing the bank ask is, each month you must be in the “black” for at least one day.

Arrangement Fee: There is no arrangement fee to pay for this overdraft, no matter how many times you use it, as long as you keep the the rule mentioned above.

Interest payable: There is no interest to pay for this overdraft, no matter how many times you use it, as long as you keep the the rule mentioned above.

So the person who came up with this idea, with one fell swoop, cut out 99% of complaints which could lead to disatisfied customers. And, considering the bank also pays up to 2% on cheque account balances – it is a very good deal indeed. And what it means is, as a salaried person, you may not need to go hungry towards the end of the month, or if Mum sends you a cheque for your birthday, you don’t need to wait until it clears before you buy your birthday present.

Paying in: Six branches, so you are probably thinking that you have to trust to the British postal system to send in any cheques you receive. Not at all. You can pay in, completely free of charge, any number of cheques or cash at any branch of Lloys Bank.

Drawing money out: You will receive a cash or debit card with your new account and you can use this to draw out money, from any ATM with the Visa sign. Anywhere in the world. I can’t recally how much you can draw out a day, but I think it is in the region of £500.

ATM costs: In the UK, if you ensure you go to any bank or building society and use the ATM on the outside wall, this should be completely free. On machines found in shops, you need to check if there is a charge by the company who installed the machine, for its use. I have used the ones at Tesco and I know those are free.

Telephone Banking: There is a full telephone banking service available in the UK and you are also able to speak to a human.

Internet Banking: There is a full Internet Banking service available which you can use in conjunction with telephone banking.

Telephone number: This is a free 0800 number, not the expensive high rate 0870 number.

Alert Service: This carries a small charge but you can have the bank send you an SMS message, and also an e-mail message, informing you of your bank balance each month.

The only snag I can see with the entire set-up is that the largest bank in the world cannot talk to the fastest growning company in the world. I am referring to eBay/PayPal. For reasons which could probably refer to security and safety, Citibank are not happy with a two way link where PayPal can claw back money without Citibanks customers permission. But I am informed that both companies are working on it.

Andrew

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A tip in Windows

Programs that allow you to capture a part of your computer screen abound, and people pay money, sometimes quite a bit of money for these.

Why not use the facility in Windows?

I am referring to “Print Screen”

This is normally a key, placed on the top row of a standard British keyboard, after the twelve “Function Keys”. There are three keys, this one, called “Print Screen/SysRq”, the “Scroll Lock” key and the “Pause/Break” key.

Get your program up on the screen (the one you want to copy) And just hit…

[SHIFT] [PRINT SCREEN]


A cropped Print Screen” image

The entire screen is now copied to your clip board.

Now all you have to do is to crop the picture you have captured. You can use the program Corel Paint Shop Pro, Adobe Photoshop, or any number of programs; one you will have on your computer, even if it is only “Paint” which comes with the Windows Operating System.

Why pay money when it is all there for free?

Andrew

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The Creative Zen Vision

I am not referring to the Vision:M that Creative have recently released. That was priced to meet the iPod straight on. No, I am referring to the fuller version, released last year, that is the bees knees in gadgetry. I bought the black one as I didn’t want anyone to think that I would own anything Apple 😉


From the Creative website

It is larger, about the size of an iPaq with a very large screen. It has the following features which I love immensly…

It comes with software that allows you to communicate with the gizmo, and there is an optional docking station available if you would prefer it to sit on your desk, always available and always charging.

Music: An MP3 player is included, the software gets all the information of each song from the web, and you can sort your songs in a variety of playlists. I have one for Jazz & Blues, Afrikaans and Southern African music, and Favourites so far.

It also allows you to play and choose your music by Album, Artists, genre, all tracks and you can listen to recordings you made from the internal FM radio, more later.

Photo: There is a photograph section where you can store photographs to show others. You can set up slide shows and with the supplied cable, you can show the slideshows on a friends television set.

When looking at photographs on the 64mm x 77mm screen, first of all it will show 35 thumbnails which you can quickly navigate to, then click and show that photograph in the full size of the screen.

You can mark some photographs as favourites, and just show the favourites and much more. You can slide in a CompactFlash card in the slot provided and download the photographs you have just taken, and view those on a much larger screen than your camera. The Vision’s 30GB hard drive will enable you to take as many pictures as you want on holiday, just load them up and reformat your card in your camera.

If you have other type cards, there are CompactFlash holders available for most.

Organiser: Then there are organiser files which you can download to from your Outlook PIM program. You can store all your contacts, your tasks lists, and your diary for the previous month, this month and the next two months. Creative supplies the software to do this.

Recording: There is a microphone which will record Creative’s format of the wav file, much smaller, and you can record a meeting of up to six or seven people, clearly, for hours. The supplied software will enable you to change this format to an MP3 file.

Video: One can import and play video clips and there is software on the web which will reformat a full video film into a format which can be used by the Vision.

FM Radio: The supplied headset acts like an arial for the FM Radio which enables you to preset up to 30 radio stations. This works very well and you also have the facility to record a radio program, or just a part of the program.

Date: You can set up the date and time and the time will always be on show on the screen.

Hard disk: You can set aside part of the 30GB hard disk to be always available to download programs or data to, for transferring between computers. I have my vCard and some data files always available on it.

There are a lot of functiosn within the main areas above which I am yet to discover, but the above should be enough to convince many that this is truly something very different.

One other very nice optional extra is the lead that plugs into the Vision and has a port for your headphones to clip into. This optional lead has a little box that can clip on your short, or jacket and allows you to change the volume, play the next or previous tune, turn the sound off and on and change between MP3s and Radio.

Take a look now…

Andrew

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The Belarc Advisor

This is a small utility you can download from the Internet. The Company is big on security and this is the free introduction to what they have to offer.

It is a superb little utility and will show you what hardware you have, the manufacturer, the model and the drivers. For example, my machine is…


Snapshot of screen

“Note from the slider on the right how much extra information is available!”

And so on and so on and so on and it is all free for private use.

Pages and pages of information. And it will even find some of your serial numbers, something I found useful recently when I had to reformat my hard drive!

Go for it! http://tinyurl.com/qafqr

Ampers

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