I should have written this post last year, when I was still in London. Just as well, because I’m missing London a hell of a lot nowadays. So many things I should have done while I was there (bought a flat, for instance), so many things I could still do (buy a flat, for instance).
Anyway, last summer I tried out the famous lobster rolls at burger & lobster and hawksmoor.
I went first to Burger & Lobster. The nearest tube to the mayfair branch is green park but I walked from bond street via grosvenor square. It’s in the posh part of town behind park lane. No reservation, so I purposely went after the lunch rush. The restaurant décor is of modern wood and served 3 things: burgers, grilled lobsters and lobster rolls. I picked a high table and ordered a lobster roll and a bull & bear cocktail which was woodford reserve, blackberries, raspberries, mure and zinfandel. The lobster roll was great, the melted butter enhanced the flavours and made it all very yummy. £20 was okay, considering it’s london and the location.
Hawksmoor next. Oh, what can I say about the place. It’s no secret I’m totally in love with the restaurant. I went to my usual branch, seven dials, and found a perch at the bar. The lobster roll came with their triple cooked chips and homemade ketchup. I had a dark porter with it. Really, really nice. £25.
Which one won? I can’t decide. Both are great. I guess for value for money it’ll have to be burger & lobster. Hawksmoor for atmosphere. If I get a second chance, I’ll try the grilled lobster at burger & lobster and stick to my usual steaks at hawksmoor.
After almost a year, I finally got round to dealing with pics from August / September 2012. Olympics, Prague, Provence, Paris, London and Paralympics. There is also a folder of misc pics that I want to sort too.
Anyway, full Olympics set, 195 photos, 12 videos. Includes Olympic torch, screenshots from opening ceremony, beach volleyball, archery and both diving finals (3m and 10m). There’s still the Paralympics pics to sort.
I’m taking both cameras to gcls this year. Going through my kit for the big camera: check lenses, check flash, check battery, check memory cards. Found this CF card that came with my first digital camera, a EOS350D, which I bought in 2005. No, it’s not 8GB. It’s 8MB. At today’s image sizes, it can hold all of 4 jpgs.
CF cards are way more expensive than SDHC cards. I bought a new high speed 16GB card, even with shopping around it ended up costing almost $50. I simply couldn’t justify getting a 32GB card. May be I should go find an SD-CF adaptor.
It’s Father’s Day weekend. We went to anticipatory mass at a faraway church (because mm wanted to catch up with one of the Fathers from the church she was baptised), the theme was love and the reading was from Luke.
Then Jesus took him up and said, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” He replied, “Say on, Master.”
“There was once a creditor who had two men in his debt; one owed him five hundred denarii, the other fifty.
“They were unable to pay, so he let them both off. Which of them will love him more?”
Simon answered, “The one who was let off more, I suppose.” Jesus said, “You are right.”
4Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “You see this woman? I came into your house, and you poured no water over my feet, but she has poured out her tears over my feet and wiped them away with her hair.
You gave me no kiss, but she has been covering my feet with kisses ever since I came in.
You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.
For this reason I tell you that her sins, many as they are, have been forgiven her, because she has shown such great love. It is someone who is forgiven little who shows little love.”
The Father who conducted the mass today is one of the most senior and well known fathers, and his homily was simple. Do you deserve more of God’s love because you have forgiven more; or do you give more love and so God will love you?
There seem to be several lessons to be learnt here. Simon the Pharisee’s preconceived idea about the woman sinner, he can’t see her love for her great sins. The woman displayed great love for Jesus, despite her sins, and for that she was loved and forgiven.
For me, it seems to be a matter of intentions. Forgiveness as a currency of sin, yes. But do you forgive so you get love; or do you love anyway with no regard for the amount of love you get back?
Parental love, that’s the latter. It’s unconditional. At the end of the mass, he asked all dads to line up in the middle aisle and he blessed them all one by one. They each got a small gift too. How wonderful.
Sis, gis and I went to this place that served all day brunch. Sis ordered their regular dinner set of camembert toast, steak and lemon cake. Gis had banana chocolate crêpes (yes, for dinner). I ordered croque monsieur that came with an egg, making it a croque madame.
May be it’s the dreadful weather, or I was too thirsty, or I didn’t have much of an appetite. I did not like it at all. The bread was soggy in the middle and the crunch of the crust was more due to staleness than properly toasted. There wasn’t enough cheese and the béchamel sauce overwhelmed everything. The egg on top, well it was pretty sad. Came with a salad and a hash brown. Honestly, I would have preferred a normal ham and cheese toastie.
The only good thing about the meal was Gis’ crêpes which were pretty okay. And we were there during happy hour (5-9pm, quite generous) so wine was 2-for-1.
I’ve been following the story about the NSA PRISM scandal, not obsessively but with the interest that such a big international, important, story deserves. “What is PRISM?” JFGI, okay?
It’s not for me to judge whether the actions of Edward Snowden, the whistleblower, were legal or not; it’s up to the courts to decide. It’s also not for me to decide whether it was morally just; he believed that what he did was right. And when we look back on this episode of history, my hope is that history and the public will decide correctly. That said, I feel compelled to put down my thoughts as I am pulled in different directions on this issue.
right or wrong
Technically, what he did was wrong. It’s surely, at the very least, against the confidentiality agreements that he must have signed with his employer. And since he had access to information way up in the confidentiality stratosphere, he probably broke the law. However, breaking the rules is part and parcel of being a whistleblower; almost by definition, you have to do one to be the other.
He has said in his guardian interview, that he believed what he blew the whistle on was a matter of public interest. I was talking with mm about this, and she asked me what was my take. For me, I’m glad he did what he did. Yes, he broke the law, but the sort of revelations he made, it’s knowledge that I as a member of public want to know. Not that I was under any illusions that surveillance wasn’t happening, I wanted acknowledgement that it was.
The revelation is that the NSA has been collecting, on a massive scale, metadata on phone calls, internet activity and all sorts of stuff people do on a day to day basis. The surveillance is conducted on everyone, rather than just the people who are under suspicion. There are big players involved: verizon, google, facebook, to name a few. Rightly so, the EU is aghast, because if the NSA has been spying on EU citizens, it’s potentially against EU privacy laws. The EU has a different approach to privacy than the US, the main difference being the question of who owns personal data. The EU gives the right to the data subject whereas the US gives the right to those who have access to the data.
The rapid growth of CCTVs in the UK has brought concerns, although by and large, my feeling is that people have gotten used to it. Being recorded hundreds of times a day and watched by unnamed government employees (or worse, poorly trained TSA types) should worry us, but anecdotally, people around me take the pragmatic way: we’d tolerate having our privacy invaded if it leads to criminal convictions and it prevents crime. Whether or not criminals are actually deterred, and whether or not CCTV footage have helped solve crimes, that’s another debate.
The NSA surveillance is like CCTV, except in a much hugher scale. Their justification is that they’ll collect and store the information to help them with the fight against terrorism, amongst other things. But does it really help? What do they do with the data? Have they been able to stop criminals and terrorists?
not so angry
Perhaps John Scalzi summed it up nicely, why he didn’t have anything angry to say about the whole affair.
I have assumed the US government was getting my data one way or another. At the end of the day, the Internet was born out of ARPANET, and the US government has never been keen of letting the Internet go entirely private. Once more, I’m slightly surprised people seem surprised.
Why anyone is surprised that their online activity is being monitored is surprising. If you use the internet, you need to realise that what you do and put out there will be there forever for all to see. And that the email you send via gmail doesn’t belong to you. Google isn’t a charity, it’s not providing a free email service out of the kindness of its heart.
At work, the employee handbook specifically said that emails sent via the company’s email system belong to the company — they are open about it, and there are company policies that tell employees that yes, what you write in you emails, what you save on shared drives, everything you do on company time…the company owns it, has a right to inspect and as such, you have no privacy. There are no is and buts.
It’s also well accepted that countries like China and certain Middle Eastern countries heavily censor internet usage by its residents. They do it, and they don’t apologise for it. In a way, a country that doesn’t have a surveillance system is far too naïve in today’s political environment. If other countries are doing it, then we need to have solid defences.
a different sort of anger #1
There are 2 things I’m angry about. First, is how quickly the likes of google and yahoo fell over themselves to deny that data mining is taking place. Oh please. Be transparent about it. Acknowledge that, yes, the data is collected by the government. Make public what type of data it is. Tell the public what they do with it, how they store it, how they maintain its integrity, who has access to it and what are the checks and balances in place.
I hate companies who sell my personal information to telemarketers, because that’s abuse of my providing the information to them. I’m usually uncomfortable providing personal information to companies.
But surely there is a difference when it comes to government access? They have my passport number, they have access to my tax and medical information. It’s a matter of trust. I need to trust that the government respects my privacy and won’t abuse the huge amount of information it has on me. Make me glad that it’s the government, acting in my best interest, and not unscrupulous corporations that has my data. Hiding behind the laws and pretending PRISM doesn’t exist, that makes me angry. Please, treat the public with a bit more respect.
a different sort of anger #2
The second thing I’m angry about is more simple. If the government is collecting all this data in the name of crime and terrorism prevention, then why didn’t they stop the Boston bombers? Why didn’t they stop all the other atrocities that have occurred lately? Why are there so many drug dealers and rapists and murderers still at large? When we see some real results?
hong kong, china
Edward Snowden has escaped to, of all places, hong kong. I don’t particularly advertise it openly, but that’s where I’m right now. I’ve lived here on and off throughout my life, which makes me a tiny bit of an expert, especially amongst the few readers I have on this blog. So anyway, it was quite a surprise that he’s decided that HK is relatively safe for him. Unrelated, it’s a good opportunity for the rest of the world to learn about this place. Yes, technically it’s a part of China. No, we have different judiciary, financial and education systems. The judiciary progression of district court, high court, court of appeal and court of final appeal has its basis in the British system, not the mainland system. China isn’t supposed to interfere except on matters of defence and foreign policy.
Many commentators are opining on what China would do. Me, I wish China’d stay out of it, to show the world that HK really has the autonomy that it claims we do. The part in the Basic Law about China having a veto on extradition proceedings is for Chinese nationals only, not a American citizen like Mr Snowden. Whatever the US government does next, and whatever requests they make to the HK government, all need to follow the proper due process, away from interference by parties that have no business interferring.
I was surprised Mr Snowden praised the “strong tradition of free speech” in HK. That is true in a way. Lots of protests, just last week thousands of people attended a June 4th memorial event (China pretends nothing happened on June 4th 1989), and people can say and do whatever without fear of repercussions. Most people just regurgitate what they hear on tv, so I can’t attest to their intelligence level. I guess the point is, they are free to be as stupid as they like without repercussions.
The problem is, the tradition of free speech that Mr Snowden alluded to, has been eroded in the last few years. The CE is obviously pro-Chinese. The pro-China movement has grown stronger, and the unwelcome influx of Chinese immigrants and tourists has increased tension with locals. The judiciary system is still seen as above the fray and able to claim to be just and neutral. But it’s a matter of time before it’s tested.
And then onto China. Evil. Over the weekend mm and I were in Shenzhen, just over the border from HK. We were having lunch at the swanky Hyatt hotel. Attentive staff, good food, amazing views. But when I turned on my iphone to check facebook, I was greeted with the everspinning “loading” wheel. It wasn’t because of slow wifi connection. Belatedly I remembered, facebook and twitter and the like are all banned. One thing you can say about the Chinese government, they don’t hide or deny stuff like this. They are open about blocking facebook, they are open about tracking people’s internet usage. They don’t hide. And that, is what I think the US government needs to come to terms with.
Coverage of the story seems to have tapered off, even the Guardian has it underneath the headlines today. I hope that this has been an eye-opener for all. About the workings of secret government sections, about the need to be open up front versus asking for forgiveness when discovered. Will my phone or internet habits change? I doubt it. It is what it is.
Woke up at 6am to take the bus to the sports centre near mm to play badminton. It’s been a long time since we played, so long that we bought new rackets. Good game, we played casually for an hour, and managed a good number of rallies. Hadn’t forgotten how to play. Next game is next week, already looking forward to it. Must keep it up.
Went to get some medical insurance information fro my financial adviser. All of them very comprehensive, but I need to do more research. At the moment, it’s probably okay to get hospitalisation only, because the difference in premium between in-patient and out-patient is more than I’d spend seeing the GP anyway. It’s always best to start thinking about getting medical insurance while I’m relatively healthy.
Went to a teppanyaki restaurant with sis and gis, shared a seafood set for 2: scallops, black cod, squid, oysters, king prawns as well as the usual fried rice and vegetables. A bottle of warm sake. Nice place, nice meal. Been lacking in seafood lately, been catching up this week.
So finally all the pics are uploaded and the entire trip written up. No thanks to flickr not working half the time. The posts are backdated, which means unfortunately the posts won’t show up on the RSS feed. Links to posts:
- flying out
- day 01: copenhagen
- day 02: copenhagen
- day 03: copenhagen and boarding
- day 04: kiel
- day 05: at sea
- day 06: geiranger
- day 07: flam
- day 08: bergen
- day 09: oslo
- day 10: transit
- day 11: dubai
- day 12: dubai
The video is of the mini avalanche I caught from our balcony when we were about to sail out of Geiranger. I heard this roar, and a bunch of snow and ice started falling down the cliff. When it was over, it was as if nothing had happened.
Met up with mm and took the train to SZ. Lunch was the extensive buffet at Grand Hyatt, located next to this empty luxury shopping mall.
Huge restaurant with high ceilings and a multitude of stations. Cold meat, salad, the seafood counter had blue swimmer crabs, prawns, clams, scampi and mussels. There was also a rather tasteless salmon tartar. The Japanese station had soba, sushi, sashimi and chefs grilling skewers to order. The choices were chicken, chicken heart and okra. The western station had roast beef and lamb with the usual veg as well as pizza. Banana pizza was great, the roasts had no seasoning and was a bit tough.
Free juice, coffee, 6 types of tea and another station of Chinese food and the dessert station. Overall a good buffet, with enough good food outweighing the small number of misses. Pluses for me: cold seafood, grilled okra, banana pizza. Minuses: some food lacked flavour, I think it’s a question of palate and taste; dessert station rather mediocre. Still, relaxing environment so we had a good time.
Here’s the flickr set.
Mum took me to the halal stall inside the cooked food centre at “goose neck” wet market. We’ve been meaning to go there for ages, but they close early so we often miss it. Dinner at 5pm doesn’t faze us, we eat early, my family.
I had lamb curry with rice, Mum had lamb curry with noodles. Guess what the stall is famous for? It’s one of those small, a little grubby, family run hole-in-a-wall place that gets featured in an Anthony Bourdain or Andrew Zimmern program. Sort of secret known only to locals.
That lamb curry was excellent. Seriously excellent. The sauce must be decades old and very spicy. Served in an unassuming small bowl perched at the side of the plate of rice. My lips were buring and when I wiped my mouth on a napkin, there’s the satisfying tell-tale yellow stain. The lamb itself was succulent, and not fatty at all. The portion was more than enough for me, there were quite a few pieces of meat, mostly on the bone. And I got a large piece of bone to suck on, yay!
The cost for that lamb curry rice was 35 local dollars. Less than £3.00 or $4.50. Seriously. We had pomelo skin stewed with prawn bits and I drank a whole bottle of 600ml Kronenbourg. They also sell roast duck to die for, apparently my dad gets the roast duck rice and ask for curry sauce on top. Next time I’ll do that. And there will be a next time.
I went for an interview with a consultancy for a role of senior consultant. I think, I believe, I have the experience and technical ability to do it. But talking to the director, it seems like they have a certain idea of the type of candidate they want and I’m not entirely sure I fit. There were 2 hypothetical ad hoc case studies and I’m not sure I gave them the answer they were looking for. I hate these scenarios where there is not enough information and I’m told to make assumptions.
I hate interviews anyway. I hate the process of selling myself, and one of the things you have to do in professional services firms is to do business development and say “yes, of course” to clients. It makes me uncomfortable. I’m not a strategist, not a pioneer, not an ideas person. Give me a problem, I’ll solve it. I’ll think of ways to help you, I’ll even be creative. But don’t ask me to butter people up, or even be nice to them when they’re not nice to me.
So, yeah. I’m not sure about this job. I went into the interview with the attitude that it doesn’t matter, if I don’t succeed it’s because of different culture. But as I came out and got on the bus, I realised that success matters more to me than I thought. I don’t want to fail because they perceive that I don’t have the knowledge of ability. Mutually deciding it’s a different fit, yes. It’s an ego thing, I suppose.
I have very little comprehension of American southern food. It seems that everything is fried and there’s a lot of carbs, although I understand how frying makes everything taste good. To be honest and like many non-Americans, I’m horrified by Paula Deen but on the other hand I secretly want to try her restaurant just once. Preferably during the latter stages of marathon training when my metabolism is turbo-charged and I can eat whatever I like.
So, I have a couple of catfish filets in my freezer. Normally I’d just grill them or lightly pan-fry but I was surfing around and it turns out that fried catfish is a typical southern dish. It’s coated with cornmeal and fried. May be worth trying.
I have no cornmeal, it’s an ingredient I’m unfamiliar with. I doubt I can find it — or it’d be extremely expensive. I do have polenta except the box isn’t opened and I don’t want to use it yet. So I breaded the fish with a packet of instant grits. It’s either that or normal flour, or oatmeal. Grits is basically a coarser version of cornmeal, right?
Standard breading procedure — flour, eggwash, grits. The grits were flavoured with s&p, a little paprika and some oregano. (I felt like oregano, it’s not obviously a southern herb.) Then fried. I was using the grill pan for courgettes so I just used the same pan for the fish, ideally I should have used a normal frying pan.
Tasted great, even though it didn’t look that good. Fish was succulent and the breading was crispy. I know, I need to work on my presentation.
- cute flash drives I saw at the outdoor market. I have: yoda, piglet, spiderman, psy and bart simpson as well as a chocolate ice lolly and a fake mercedes key fob. I kept the angry bird for myself
- whatever strange Japanese chocolate/candy I can lay my hands on. I think at the very least: collon, melty kiss, pocky
- some running swag like the Polar F6 that has been sitting in my drawer for a while, a fake spibelt, may be one of my running books. I wish I hadn’t given away so many race shirts to charity, that would make a good set
If I have time and can find it during my layover at Narita, may be a Japanese whisky. I like nikka straight from barrel because the bottle looks like a perfume bottle. I have a bottle myself and Mr Murray gives it 91 points.
Was up till 3am last night reading, and spent most of today reading too. Jane Fletcher’s Lyremouth series. Probably the 3rd or 4th time I’ve read the books but I still like them. Just broke off for half an hour’s swimming, food and then tv in the evening.
Met with mm and her mum for lunch. Turned out, her mum’s friends were also there so when I got there early a stranger was already sitting at the table. What would a norml person do? Sit down and introduce themselves. But I’m not normal when it comes to social interaction. I went back to the reception area and messaged mm, and then I stayed there to wait till they showed up. Nothing against the strange ladies, I just don’t like having to interact with strangers.
After lunch, mm and I drove to a new area. She wanted to go to a sauce and salt shop to buy dried soy salt, but they don’t have it available yet. So we bought some top quality soy sauce and some Australian sea salt. Then set off to explore the wet market where we went crazy buying very cheap fruit and veg. So much that we had surplus and ended up driving to my parents’ place and giving them some of the purchases.
Back to Admiralty for dinner (cos she has free parking vouchers). Fast food, waited for her mum and then she drove me home.
Went to mm’s friend M’s place for a small gathering — only 4 of us plus her helper. Potluck where our friend, mm and I all contributed something. For starter, I made warm roasted peppers, courgettes and butternut squash on green salad. Used the juice from the roasting as dressing plus a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic. The butternut squash was a bit sloppy but tasted nice. The peppers were roasted the safer way, in a hot 200°C oven. The skin was nicely charred but the insides were beginning to melt due to too much cooking. Normally I roast my peppers directly in the hob but mm was horrified. I think I’ll go back to the risky way next time.
For second course M made a bacon, asparagus and mushroom quiche that was simple and tasted great. We agreed the pastry could have been thinner but we were just being deliberately picky, it was great. M also made sangria, quite a lot of soda as she didn’t want too much alcohol for her other guest, I.
Mains was roast lamb rack and stir-fried green beans, cherry tomatoes and mushroom made my M’s helper. Good stuff. For dessert, I made the french apple tart that didn’t quite work last time. Better this time, I made sure everything including the pastry and filling were chilled for 2 hours and the oven was set at over 200°C. Needed some glaze, but I forgot. Served with vanilla ice cream that, ah, M’s helper mistakenly put in the main compartment in the fridge so it was more like semi-frozen cream. Tasted fine. I really need to work on presentation.
Played mahjong for a bit. Tea time was provided by mm who made cranberry & orange and raisin scones. Very good. Light and fluffy, not too sweet. She was up till 4am last night making them, poor thing.
We all agreed it was a successful gathering and already have plans for our next time. It’s not too common for people to entertain at home here (most people have helpers and don’t know how to cook) but we much prefer this method than going out to a restaurant. More relaxing. Better food.
Sis has an evening function so gis is having a sleepover at my place. We went to pizza express for early dinner. It’s one of the few pizza places I like. We had doughballs to start, it’s sort of a must have there, and you can even get them at supermarkets now. For mains we both had pasta, I had a pretty okay spaghetti aglio e olio. Too full for dessert so we got the bus home.
We still have some vouchers left for Le Fauchon, so we had lunch there. A nice soup and salad starter, oxtail for mains and a small chocolate cake. Tea and coffee too. Good bargain, even though the oxtail wasn’t completely melt off the bone, and I only had two bites of the cake.
Hot, hot, hot day. Walked mm back to the office and was about to leave when I bumped into ex-colleague. Chatted for a bit, by the time I left it was almost 3.30pm. Headed off to the market to get fruit and veg.
Remembering that I live next to the pool, sometimes I get disturbed by people and staff walking and talking outside. In the middle of the night, this couple decided to sneak into the pool. 12.30am. And the pool is closed, and covered as it’s only open at weekends during May. These two were smoking, drinking, kicking the water and chatting. I watched for a while, annoyed that they’re out there: I hate when people loiter outside at night and I don’t feel completely safe until they’re gone. But they weren’t doing anything, I lost interest and went back to bed.
p.s. yes, topless.
I didn’t have water all day (maintenance) so I camped out at Sis’ place. We went for salad bar lunch, picked up my niece then just relaxed. I guess this is what I’ve missed, having family and a support system around me.
We had a groupon at one of those trying-to-be-swanky oyster restaurants. 25/F in a commercial building with good view. The groupon was for 18 oysters, 2 glasses of wine and a smoked salmon salad. Plus 10% off their a la carte menu. Not many wine choices, only one of each. Chardonnay or pinot or dessert wine. I had the pinot and mm had the dessert wine, not sure what it is, it’s from Germany and it was too dark to read the label.
Nine oysters each. Start from 7 o’clock position and move clockwise on the pic. Two each of sandy bay, coffin bay, irish rock and fin de claire. One of white pearl from France. We both liked the first two, cheaper, australian variety. The sandy bay was crisp and fresh; the coffin bay was more creamy and tasted of the sea. The others were good too but in general overpriced. Two shots offered too: one a wasabi cocktail and the other was a kamikaze. Tried one shot, decided against another. The smoked salmon salad was small and forgettable.
We decided to skip mains and ordered dessert. Chocolate fondant for mm and apple tart for me. Again, okay but not particularly memorable. The menu is the same tired steak/fish/pork chop combo that are okay but no imagination, no adventure. Quite pricey, even for us. Not value for money.
Mum’s birthday was during the trip so we had a proper celebration today. Went for shabu shabu lunch — 90mins all you can eat. Parents and Gis get discounted price too. The beef was too fatty but the rest of the veg was good.
Ice cream cake back at Sis’ place. Small one, perfect for everyone to have a slice and none left over.
Woke up to a horrendous thunderstorm, heavy rain and very dark all around. When it started easing off in the afternoon I went off to the supermarket. Seemed like the whole neighbourhood had the same idea, the store started to fill up very quickly and there were long lines at the checkouts. So much so that they started running out of shopping baskets!
It even got nice enough for me to go swimming for half an hour.
We took advantage of the sales to buy a couple of badminton rackets at a big discount. We’re determined to do some sports together, and badminton is easy and cheap. I gave all my rackets away in London so I need to get new ones. Just as well because the styles have evolved since. We’ll move to squash next.
Met with my financial advisor about the state of my investments. Emerged from the meeting fairly happy. I did task her with investigating if I have enough capital to generate enough income so I don’t need to work. I think I’m okay, just about.
We are also converting a couple of my accounts to another platform, one that is more flexible, easier to use online and has more investment options. One of the options we talked about was to invest in some single company funds. The one she recommended was a Barings Germany fund. In the past, I could invest in pan-European but not just Germany.
Why Germany? It’s been voted the most positively viewed country in the world. Economic stability is first a foremost. As is frugality, organisation and just that particular German way of doing things. I probably won’t like living there, then again, I loved loved loved Switzerland and I was living in the German-speaking part.
I have been a flickr member since 2005, and a pro member since almost the beginning. When flickr was fun; before yahoo bought it. I kept my pro account after the yahoo takeover, and when they pretty much ignored it.
I clicked on flickr and was presented with the new layout. No warning. No explanation. No notification prior that this was happening. I saw this huge page with huge pictures of my photostream. There was a random pic from someone else they set as my cover page. I was told to upload a bigger and better avatar.
Yes, there’s now 1TB of storage for all accounts as well as a slew of other features. But here’s my problem: all the benefits I paid for are now part of the free account. In fact, it looks like the free account is even better than the old pro account. Lots of reaction, mostly negative from existing pro users. Wade through the usual resistance-to-interface-change whining and there are genuine problems:
- not given any warning, no trial period
- no option to change interface, some display features seem to have disappeared
- glaring black background
- even slower to load than before
- organizer still doesn’t work
- search doesn’t work, I got a blank page for a simple search on “ham”
- infinite scrolling on photostream doesn’t work, is extremely slow
- titles, descriptions and comments only on mouseover
- uploader doesn’t work
- defaulted to random cover picture that wasn’t mine — even facebook didn’t do that, they left the cover page area blank and asked the user to pick their own
- assigning cover pic only limited to recent uploads, couldn’t search through sets
- collections seem to have disappeared
Techradar’s post title said it all, Has Yahoo Lost Its Mind:
Most of it sounds like the sort of teething problems you encounter when a free service undergoes a radical revamp - but for its most loyal users, Flickr isn’t a free service. It’s something they pay for, and have done for a long time.
Exactly. I wouldn’t have minded the new site if I were a free member. If facebook or google or even yahoo mail change their design and functionality, I have nothing to say because these are services I use free of charge. I changed to timeline on facebook fairly early because I thought it was okay and knew it was better to embrace the inevitable early. The issue with flickr is, I’m a pro member. I’ve paid for this service for 8 years. I don’t think I’m wrong in expecting to be treated with a little more respect.
And what the hell have they done with the pro accounts, and pricing? They say pro accounts will be grandfathered, if it’s set to auto-renew. Mine isn’t, but I can still see the extension option. Apparently users also have until August to downgrade to a new free account, but nothing is said about refunds. My pro account has a whole year left, so what am I supposed to do? I don’t want to renew now, but I’m afraid the option will go away or the price will go up. The new pro pricing doubles to $50 and the only benefit is ad-free. I have adblock plus for that. I just don’t trust that I’ll have unlimited uploads with the new free account—I don’t upload all the time but when I do it’s a big batch.
Honestly, I don’t mind the new design. I don’t quite like it, especially how it’s In.Your.Face but I’ll get used to it. I just feel they didn’t do a good job in rolling out the new service, including the lack of a heads-up, not offering display options, and not fixing existing usability issues. This is not what we expect from a supposedly experienced business.
What really rankles is the way pro users are being treated. We loyally supported the service during the past few years, but because we’re not good ad revenue prospects, or not instant gratification mobile users, we’re being pushed to the side. Flickr was originally about photography and photographers, now they just seem to want to turn it into yet another social media site. By all means, try to attract new customers but don’t do it while alienating existing customers. This is not the way to run a business.
I know they have me locked in because migrating 15,000 images is a big endeavour, but I’ll probably need to look at alternatives. Like many others, I already have a 500px account and I just signed up for ipernity. If things get really rough at flickr, I’ll just eat that $25 fee and migrate over.
On Food & Drink Michel Roux Jr asked his guests (Monica Galetti!) if he gave them £5 what comfort food would they buy. Kate Goodman said salt & vinegar crisps and Monica Galetti (Monica Galetti!) said chocolate.
Without thinking, what came to my mind was ham. My ham obsession started when Mum fed me it after I came home from swimming lessons and I could never resist great quailty ham on the bone. SIgh. Sigh. Sigh.
All I can afford now is sliced ham in packets. Not very high quality, but I can still eat scads of it.