Donncha's Links

Donncha's Tuesday Links

  • Senator David Norris reveals who his first crush was. Warning! graphic images! 🙂 Yes, people do get paid to write such guff, and we lap it up!
  • European Consumer Centre Dublin launched Howard, a cute wide eyed owl who will help you shop online this year. Simply enter the url of the site you’ll be shopping at and they will present the following:
    1. When the website was registered/updated.
    2. The results of an search.
    3. Official Company Register information about the company.
    4. The results of a Google search.
    5. If the website is a member of an e-commerce trustmark scheme.
    6. Trustmarks to look for in the country in question.
    7. The general limitation period in the country in question.
    8. The general cancellation period in the country in question.
    9. Examples of price comparison sites to look for in the country in question.
    10. Contact information to your national European Consumer Centre.

    I entered because of my previous experience with them but the only negative result was the lack of a Trustmark certificate. I’m glad the first link of the Google search points at my post. 🙂

  • Fellow Automatticer Alex Shiels talking at WordCamp Melbourne.
  • Want to see inside a datacenter? CIX Open Day on the 29th! Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll make it.
  • A really simple way of generating a thumbnail of your site. Finally, a use for Snap!
  • FSF release GNU Affero GPL to address using GPLed software on public servers. The GPL requires code to be distributed if the software is made public, but there’s a loophole. Code running on a web server is more like a service. The code stays on the server and therefore code does not have to be made public. GNU Affero GPL rectifies that problem. However, if WordPress was licensed under such a license anyone who uses it would have to release any modifications they make. Read the post for more details about why the loophole still exists in GPL 3.
  • <@J^raxis> Some people have some weird fetishes. Which is fine. Then they take photos of them, which is not.


CD WOW! vouchers – Caveat Emptor

Virgin Megastore Vouchers

Vouchers, the greatest and bestest gift you can give someone, or the lazy man’s way out of thinking about a present. Whatever way you look at them, they’re useful. All the high-street shops stock them and online retailers do too which is why I ordered vouchers for my brothers Donal and Cathal, and my friend Justin to thank them for being best man and groom’s men respectively.

Justin’s over in the UK now, and I wanted to make things nice and simple so I ordered CD WOW! vouchers. At the time I ordered there was a handling fee of €1.20 for gift vouchers. That’s €1.20 for each gift voucher. They may provide free shipping worldwide but that obviously doesn’t apply to all their products.

When Donal went to redeem the vouchers after selecting the CDs he wanted he discovered that only one voucher can be used per purchase! Because the vouchers come in denominations which don’t match the prices of their CDs he would have ended up buying extra CDs and paying for them himself. I find that underhand and just a bit sneaky. It is stated in their terms and conditions but that only leaves a bitter taste in my mouth because I didn’t read them.

Imagine the consternation if you could only use one voucher per purchase in HMV or Virgin? At least they’d give you change in the form of money or a smaller voucher. In protest, Donal recommends that people do not buy CD WOW! vouchers and I have to agree with him. Go down to HMV, Virgin, Golden Discs, buy a paper voucher and the recipient can enjoy the experience of handling real goods immediately and savour the pleasure of rushing home to play a new CD.

Welcome CD WOW! to that place in my heart that I originally reserved for 7dayshop. Well done!



First of the RAW images I took over the weekend at Sherkin Island. Forgive the grain, this was shot at ISO 400 under difficult light and the gull was flying directly outside our hotel room!

So far I’ve imported a few photos into the GIMP using UFraw and to be honest I don’t think shooting in RAW made much difference. I’ll reserve final judgement until later when I’ve had more experience with converting.
I ran into the same trouble I had before with corrupted shots. Looks like one of my CF cards is fscked. I’ll write to 7dayshop where I bought the cards, whatever good that’ll do me.

Running fsck.vfat returned lots of errors about clusters. I formatted and I’m running a test for bad clusters now. It didn’t find anything but I’ll run some more tests over the next few days. Meanwhile, here’s some more info on compact flash break-downs to digest.

I copied about 900MB of data back and forth to the CF card without a hitch. It might be a camera problem? They’re Viking Interworks 1GB cards. Anyway, I found two places, here and here that have reasonably priced cards.

Photography – review and my bad experience

It’s about time I posted this as it’s been over a month since I had any dealings with 7dayshop. Since then I’ve dealt with several other online retailers without a hitch.

When I shop, online or otherwise, I expect a reasonable level of service and care. When I shop online I expect prompt delivery of my order or notification if the delivery will take longer or products are missing. I also expect to be able to pick up the phone and ask someone where my purchased goods are.

A few weeks ago I was still looking forward to my holiday in Chicago. I wanted to buy a new camera to replace my broken Sony F717. The Canon 20D was the one I had my eye on!

My friend John ordered the camera from 7dayshop for me. I made out a list of products I wanted; camera bag, filters, batteries, and more. About a week later, on a Monday, several of the items were delivered but no camera. We thought there must have been a delay so we let it go for a few days. Here’s what happened:

Most of the goods from 7dayshop delivered. Camera must be delayed somewhere. Let’s wait a few days.

Getting worried now. This morning John left a message on their support page asking about the missing camera. He was given a Royal Mail tracking number to check the status of the package. I rang the Irish Post Office but they couldn’t help me. I went online again and entered the tracking number into the Royal Mail Track and Trace page. Unfortunately Royal Mail didn’t have that tracking number on their system! I rang them after that but again they couldn’t find any trace of the package in their system.

In the afternoon I left a message on the 7dayshop support page asking for an update on the missing camera. Thinking that it would be taken care of, I ordered memory cards, a camera case and a battery case from them. Immediately after placing the order I realised I had made an error in the address of that order so I sent them another support query with the correct company name. No reply all weekend.

It was with some frustration on Monday morning that I kept checking my email waiting for a reply. Finally a reply to my address issue. It couldn’t be changed as the order had been dispatched. My query about the camera was ignored. Several other queries were ignored too. I decided to cancel my Friday order in protest at their shoddy customer care. The camera case was on back order and that was canceled but I was told that the other items were in transit and couldn’t be canceled.

I called the European Consumer Centre in Dublin and was advised that because the Canon 20D camera had not yet arrived it is 7dayshop’s responsibility to see that it is delivered. I sent 7dayshop a letter in the post stating that if I didn’t get delivery of the camera within 14 days I would be looking for a full refund to which I am entitled to under EU Directive 99/44/EC. I left another note with that information on 7dayshop’s support page.
I rang Royal Mail again to check the tracking number. The operator couldn’t believe it had disappeared so completely from their system!

2 hours later John was sent an email saying he must get a refund from Visa. He has to wait 30 days from the time of the order to make the claim, and it will take Visa a further 30 days to refund him.

Having been burned by 7dayshop, I ordered the Canon 20D from Technikdirekt. It arrived within a week.
I ordered a Canon 70-300mm zoom lens from AC-foto. They accept COD and that arrived within a few days.
I ordered a Panasonic Lumix FZ5 from Pixmania and that was delivered within a few days.

My memory cards did appear eventually, but the battery case (value £1.99) failed to show up. On closer inspection of the goods that were delivered by 7dayshop, the camera case and ND filters were missing too. I’m going to call it a day on my dealings with 7dayshop. I recommended them to others in the past but never again.

Here’s some reviews of 7dayshop. The positive ones usually are those that go without a hitch, otherwise it’s a tale of trouble and woe. Leave your story as a comment here. Maybe, just maybe, 7dayshop will take note of them.

In conclusion
When something goes wrong, it’s reassuring to be able to ring up someone and find out what’s happened to goods you’ve spent your hard earned money on. 7dayshop don’t have a customer support phone line. Sure, there’s a phone number on their whois record (01481 257336) but it’s answered by a machine telling you to fill in the support form!

Who do I recommend you buy your camera or electronic gear from? Anyone but!
Apart from the awful customer service, it appears that source their goods the USA. If you don’t live in the USA that means your goods will be without warranty as electronic goods rarely have global warranties. They must also be making a killing on price. They charge in Sterling, their prices aren’t that cheap, and the US Dollar is weak! Surely some of that profit should be ploughed back into the company?

Try these guys instead. They may ship you a non-English manual, but you get a European warranty, and English manuals can usually be downloaded and printed out.

  • Technikdirekt – very reasonable prices, slow delivery by Deutch Post.
  • AC-foto – no secure server, doesn’t accept credit cards online, but COD is ok, if a little expensive. Very reasonable prices too.
  • Pixmania – a bit more expensive, had some trouble with them during the summer but they’re only a phone call away and were helpful. Fast delivery
Photography – No Warranties in Europe

I used fairly regularly in the past to purchase memory and the occasional camera, and most of the time it went without a hitch.

I’m waiting on a camera from them at the moment too but it was ordered before I knew the following: they ship US sourced products with US warranties! Reviews are mixed with some people having good experiences and others bad.

If you do find yourself without cause to complain about an online store what can you do? If you live in the EU there are laws regarding distance selling (UK version).
When you receive the goods you have a 7 working day cooling off period during which you can send the items back to the retailer without giving a reason. This is akin to browsing in a shop and not buying. You may have to pay the postage to return the goods however.

7dayshop, in their camera policies page do state that they’ll pay the postage if a manufacturing defect is found within 7 days or less.
If you have the item for more than 7 days you must contact them via their support page. It’s not clear whether they’ll have the item repaired/replaced or not, and later on they say, “If the item was purchased more than 1-year ago, then the warranty period is up, and you must contact the manufacturer directly – not us – to arrange for a repair to be made at your expense.”
But if the warranty wasn’t valid in the first place…

The page on consumer affairs has links to more information that should broadly apply across the EU.

Later.. I don’t recommend 7dayshop any more. Read my 7dayshop review and please avoid them!


Where to get memory cards?

For future reference. My brother asked where he should get memory sticks for his new camera. I asked on #linux.. Here’s a few suggestions if you live in Ireland or the UK.

Later.. I don’t recommend 7dayshop any more. Read my 7dayshop review and please avoid them!