Caffeine Peter Colijn

March 08, 2007 (link)
On Banks

For the past 2 weeks, I've been trying to open an account at CitiBank. Mainly because I currently have a WAMU account and they totally suck (see earlier accounts here). Last week, I went in to CitiBank half an hour before they closed, waited for half an hour and was kicked out. Not so nice, but hey, I guess I did show up kinda late (though only a bank would have the nerve close at 4pm).

Today I showed up 2 hours before closing and got to see someone right away. Things were going well, he was typing stuff into a computer in ways that had me almost convinced he might actually open a bank account for me! Then I started to hear those annoying Microsoft-y chime-y error noises coming from his computer. Uh-oh. So today I couldn't open the account because their computers were fucked.

Tip for bankers: if you want people to give you their money, you should be nice to them. At least until they give it to you, and preferably afterwards as well (so you can get more of their money). I can't believe this is so incredibly difficult to understand.

Tip #2 for bankers: the experience of opening an account is, to customers, a precursor of what's to come. So far all I know about CitiBank's customer service is that the computers on which they rely are flakey and that I am likely to be thrown out at closing if there's a long line. This does not inspire me to open an account so I can experience more of same.

Finally, does anyone have suggestions for a bank in the states that doesn't suck massively?

March 11, 2007 (link)


I've been travelling a lot lately, some for work and some for "pleasure", though I would hardly call travelling "pleasing" these days. I used to go book flights like this:

  • for i in; do
    • open new tab in FF
    • go to $i
    • enter my details in random craptacular and annoying UI
    • wait forever for search results to load
    • sort the results in some way, requiring another pageload
  • done
  • compare results in above tabs and choose the flight I want
  • go to airline's web page directly
  • enter all the information into a crappy UI again
  • go through 5 or 6 slowly-loading, crappy pages full of ads hawking rental cars and hotels
  • enter credit card information
  • buy ticket

Now, with Kayak, I do this:

  • go to
  • enter flight details into a surprisingly non-crappy UI
  • get results from damn near all flight websites, including directly from the airlines
  • use a very non-sucky client-side interface to sort and refine the results extremely quickly
  • go directly to the airline's website
  • perform the last 2 steps above

Kayak has made booking flights almost tolerable again. Way to reduce suckage in the world, guys! Well done!

BTW, for those of you wondering why I try to go straight to the airline's website even if I use something like expedia, it's usually cheaper that way.

Anyway, I don't usually do this, but Kayak reduces suckage by orders of magnitude, so if you book flights EVER you should definitely check it out.

March 16, 2007 (link)

On CrackBerries

I just bought a Pearl to replace my piece of junk Tréo. So far I'm pretty impressed with it. It hasn't crashed on me once, the Google mail app for it works great, and the funny keyboard with 2 letters per button works surprisingly well. Yay for tries. I was thinking of holding out for an iPhone, but I was super fed up with the Tréo and I figure 6 months after the initial iPhone release there will be a better one, plus I'm not sure about the whole contract thing...

What surprises me most actually is how damn addictive the thing is. The UI isn't super flashy or anything, but it has a fairly appealing look and feel that grows on you. And being able to chat with folks on Google Talk on your phone, for free, is damn hella awesome. No more 5c SMS messages! The other surprising thing is that the phone is way smaller than a Tréo, and the UI is written in Java, so I kind of expected it to be really slow. It's actually not bad; most things are way faster than the Tréo, some things are a little slower, but overall it's fine.

Plus, it's $10/month cheaper for the BB data plan on T-mobile. Don't ask me why. I lose my HotSpot access (you know, those stupid Starfuckers APs that you have to pay for even though you bought a cup of crappy coffee) but that's ok, because unlike the Tréo, the Bluetooth modem on the BB actually works (I'm typing this on my MacBook via BB right now).

In other words, I should have gotten a BB in the first place. I'll blame drheld for that one. Though, in his defense, when I bought the Tréo there wasn't really any way to sync a BB with Linux. Now you can with Barry.

March 26, 2007 (link)

Calendar Photos

Back in the day, before we had the web or AJAX or even computers, calendars used to be made of paper. In those quaint days, paper calendars would often have a different picture for every month, or sometimes even every week. What fun it was to flip the calendar every month to have a new picture waiting for you. That is, unless you ruined the surprise by looking at all the pictures in advance when you got the calendar.

These days, we have web calendars and they generally don't show any pictures. How sad. (Fun fact though: early prototypes of Google Calendar allowed you to enter a search query, and would show the top few Google Image results for that query. In practice, few people found this useful or even understood it.) To remedy the lack of picture-y goodness in modern calendars, I give you PicasaWeb content calendars. You can see a random photo from any PicasaWeb public gallery every day. The cool thing is that this was ridiculously simple to write; it only took me an hour or so.

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