7 September, 2003: Lights, camera, ...

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So, I shouldn't just propagate links, but whatever....

Alex has finished his new short film, Staying Pictures. Very cool, so drop what you're doing and watch it right now. Or don't. As you like.

(You'll need quite a modern video player to play the files; xine almost manages, but without the sound, which rather misses the point. Just go and find a Windows machine.... This could turn into a whole separate rant, best not rehearsed here.)

In other news

For reasons best not gone into again, I happened to need to get some money transferred from a bank in another European country to my own. While doing this I discovered two things which surprised me:

  1. The Barclays (for it is they) international desk isn't open outside UK business hours. Have these people not heard of time zones?
  2. A money transfer within the European Union -- although apparently cheaper than it used to be at 6 -- will still apparently take several weeks to complete. I could carry the damn money on foot in less time than that.

It reminds me of the last time I had to pay a US dollar cheque into my account. The US doesn't (as far as I can tell) have a small number of banks dominating the market as we do, so people typically hold current accounts with a small local bank. Cheques from these banks are treated by Barclays with considerable suspicion -- they perhaps imagine the bank headquartered in a tin shack in a one-horse town somewhere out west, subject to periodic raids by the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang or some other band of miscreants -- and even if the number of dollars involved falls far short of a fistful, Extensive Security Checks are necessary. (No doubt September 11th has given rise to even more Extensive Checks.)

So they spend an enormous amount of time trying to figure out whether the drawer's bank and money are for real. Naturally, the US bank don't process these requests with any urgency, perhaps imagining that Barclays is the UK equivalent of the First Bank of Dry Gulch, Wyoming and therefore not worth dealing with speedily and efficiently.

Result: six week delay and huge bank charges. Hooray for globalisation!

Update

I malign Barclays slightly. The money took about one week to reach me from another European bank: still about 200 million times slower than the actual electronic signal, but about four times faster than I was initially told. And you won't be surprised to hear that their exchange rate wasn't exactly... competitive.


Copyright (c) 2003 Chris Lightfoot; available under a Creative Commons License.