Monday, September 5, 2016

HSBC - UK Online Personal Banking - A very bad User Experience

Sometimes, even the very largest companies fail to make the leap from paper to electronic.  HSBC is one such bank.

September 2016 and they still require that you navigate around your banking transactions by statement pages.  Once you gain access to a statement, the User interface provides you a means to display a list of transactions by range of dates - it even tells you you cannot go before the beginning of the statement or after the end of it.  

I do not care for a second when the arbitrary statement date is.  I only want a list of transactions from one date to another date.

In September 2016, I also discovered that they removed the ability to output transactions to Excel (or rather CSV).  It wasn't great before, but at least it existed.  They now seem to have decided that users should be forced to transcribe transactions to Excel from either the screen or a PDF.... incredulous!!!

What is very worrying is that HSBC must have a User Experience designer (or team) that feels the user experience with the long long list of menus, small fonts, lots of text etc etc is something that is acceptable.  It is not.  It is just horrible.  The only site I can think of that is worse is the former Ryan Air website that did its best to make you spend more money.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Winter in an Armadilla

8 months on, and the office has bedded in nicely.  Blinds added to the porhole and door.  Wood burning stove working more efficiently with smaller dryer wood and careful damping.

Under floor heating does not keep the office warm when temperatures drop below -3, unless you leave the heat on 24hrs.  Even, then I think it struggles. The wood burner makes the difference.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Platform added

Work and other commitments have got in the way of posting further updates..... but following an afternoon of labour, I have managed to add the decking platform onto the front of my Armadilla

Looks straightforward from this photo, but actually involved twisting the office around, and re-leveling.  Also the steps were not square, so the platform had to be skew.

Anyway - now able to step into the office without gravel :)

One disappointment is that the door needs adjustment. It has slipped since it was moved... and before the deck was added.  Something easy I am sure for Archie and his chaps!

Still working on the challenge of adding blinds.   Only company I could find was  They are based in France... no reply from email. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Armadilla Garden Office Installation Video

Looks precarious... but here is a 10 minute video of our Armadilla office installation. 

Music is courtesy of my son's band Little Men and Her

If anyone has any questions on how this all worked, feel free to drop me a comment.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Armadilla - IP Phone - BT HomeHub 2

Regular phones over Ethernet
(if you dont like tech geek stuff... stop reading now!...)

I decided to give Voice over IP (VOIP) a shot in my new garden office.  I also wanted to use my existing regular (POTS) telephone line for incoming calls.   I bought a Linksys (Cisco) SPA3102.  This box is designed to allow you to plug your phone sock in, and for the signal to be converted to IP traffic.  The protocol is SIP...

The S in SIP does not mean 'Simple'.

After a week or so of faffing around, I discovered that the BT HomeHub that I have has some 'partial' SIP server support, and as a result seems to block / catch my SIP traffic. So... calls coming into my Linksys SPA3120 don't go any further than my BT Homehub.   As I am using that as my router... it means the traffic getting out to my Ethernet over Power adapter.

BT used to provide a services called BT Talk. This was basically their version of SIP running over the broadband connection.   If you have a BT Homehub 1 or 2... you can still use it.  If you are on the Homehub 3... sorry it was removed from the device.

The phone number you get with this is different.  I have a regular phone number - that comes through my regular phone... and a BT Talk phone number.  They both start with the same area code... 

Anyway - I decided to switch this on... only problem is... that I want to use a device other than a BT IP phone... I want to use my iPad or Mac Book pro to send and receive calls...

After searching around the BT Broadband forums, I discovered that you can download the SIP settings to a text file... and that will give you all the information you need to setup your SIP client....  I am using Jitsi as a SIP client - that seems to work.  I have also managed to get X-Lite 4 to work... but it is not quite as solid as Jitsi as far as I can tell.

so... I now am able to make SIP calls from my mac book pro (or iPad).

For the geeks out there, this is how you find out your SIP Softphone Client settings.  This is for anyone that has a BT Homehub 1 or 2 (pulled from the BTBroadband Forums);

1. Sign up for BT Talk...

a) Enter your number and login details - they were sent to you when you registered,
b) Navigate to configure your setup, click the First Button "Configure Your equipment"
c) A Second button appears call "configure"
d) Right mouse click this and get properties
e) Cut and paste the whole URL into a text editor
f) To make it more legible put a carriage return before every "&" the remove the "&"

You will end up with something like this :-


2) The most important bit of information is SIPPassword1=QMXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. This you will note is NOT the BT password BT gave you which you login into the site, which you might think is encrypted. It's plain text an is the password you need to use to authenticate against the proxy. Also understand that it's important you do not confuse the outbound proxy with the SIP proxy.

This translates to on a SIP Client - replace the values above in the <> entries;

Authentication or Authorization Name: <SIPPhoneNumber1>
Authentication password: <SIPPassword1>
Username: <SIPPhoneNumber1>
Display Name: <SIPPhoneNumber1>  without the leading 44
Proxy server address:
Proxy server port: 5060
Registrar server:
Registrar server port: 5060
SIP port: 5060
RTP port: 5004
Use random ports: No
STUN enabled: No
Outbound proxy mode: Always
Outbound proxy:
Outbound proxy port: 5060

If you want to use all this without a BT HomeHub.. I believe you can, but, you need to setup a nameserver lookup for the proxy... or something like that... 

Sadly, I have not managed to get my inbound telephone calls on my regular (POTS) line to route through this.  I know the SPA3120 can do it... but I think the BT Homehub is blocking this.  The BT Homehub cannot be configured to route this traffic as far as I can tell... even with a hack.

Armadilla living - 2nd week

As per my previous posts - I installed an Armadilla home office down my garden.

Now that I have been in it for a couple of weeks, I thought I should give others that are interesting in this kind of building some feedback. 

First of all, the heating.

The weather has been mixed.  With an outside temperature of, say 10'c the under floor heating is absolutely fine. It keeps the office warm at around 15-20'c without trouble.  However, you do need to keep some heat on overnight.  I made the mistake of lowering the thermostat over night to 5'c when it was frosty... when I arrived in the morning at 9am it was only 8'c after 1 hour of heating...

That said, this is where my wood burner comes in.  30 mins after starting, the office is back to a pleasant working environment.

I have continued to have issues with connectivity. Nothing to do with the office supplier, but, I made the mistake of only running a 3 core armoured power cable in... as a result, I only have power and no dedicated phone / internet.    Being a geek of course, solutions exist.  Archie suggesting using an Ethernet over Power solution.  I chose the Devolo solution that gives me ethernet ports and wifi in the office. It is mostly working, and performs fine (measured at 6Mb/s download).

Phone though has been less successful.   See my next post on this one!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Armadilla Garden Office - Post Install

Well, I have now been in my Armadilla Garden office for 1 week.   A few things to report, but first of all I want to show you why I put the office where I put it. Here is a picture of the view out my window this afternoon;

No buildings... people... etc... :)     I can only listen to mellow music now!

I have now put more content into the office - some pics of that;

I'm afraid I had to resort to Ikea...  budget restrictions...

Early evening, with porch and internal lights now working

Single door rather than double french door fitted due to extra space required for wood burning stove

The view... clutter arrives!

This might be small, but having run it a few times I can say that this is quite sufficient to turn the office into a sauna!