Guilty luxury

I am cheap. I don’t think I go quite as far as being a tightwad, but I’m frugal. I buy generics at the supermarket and drugstore, and when I order from Amazon, I always choose the free shipping option, even though it sometimes drives me crazy waiting for the item to arrive. I don’t mind spending money on functionality, but I find it tough to spend extra for luxury. Today, however, I did something I found difficult: I paid the extra money for seat upgrades for our trip to the UK later this year.

Credit cards, medical records, and solving the wrong problem

One of the problems of working in tech is it can get annoying when you see lots of money being spent solving the wrong problems, or implementing completely ineffective solutions. Take credit cards and RFID, for example. There’s a big push in the US to include RFID in every card. I’ve had a card with RFID for just over a year now. The benefit to me? Theoretically, I can hold the card against the card reader, instead of having to swipe it through the slot.

A pet peeve regarding credit cards

In this season of shopping, it’s worth knowing that stores are not allowed to require a minimum purchase for use of a credit card. They are also not allowed to require that you present photo ID to use the card. Consumerist has the scoop, including where to report violations. This isn’t just a US law, it’s a condition set by Visa, MasterCard and American Express. I know that it applies in the UK, and probably most other western nations.

Nikon digital: A sorry tale

In 2001–2003, I had a rather bad experience with Nikon Digital’s repair service. The product I had problems with was an APS adaptor for a high end film scanner, but other people have written to me with similar tales of woe regarding digital cameras and digital SLRs.

Briefly:

  1. I discovered that while Nikon are reknowned for the quality of their lenses, they also make some really shoddy products. High price and the Nikon name is no guarantee of quality.

  2. I found out that if you buy a faulty Nikon digital imaging product, such as a scanner or a digital camera, your chances of getting it repaired or replaced with a working product seem to be pretty slim.

  3. When Nikon were unable to get the product to work after four attempts, I couldn’t get a refund for the non-working product without a year of ignored letters, phone calls and faxes.

  4. The Nikon product jammed with some of my irreplacable negatives inside. I couldn’t open up the unit to get the film out without voiding the warranty, and Nikon failed to extricate and return the film.

I did finish scanning the rest of my APS film cassettes, no thanks to Nikon. I had to break open each cassette, pull out the film, and chop it up into individual frames. I then mounted each frame in a 35mm glass slide, adjusting for the size difference by using plastic spacers cut by hand from old subway passes using a sharp knife and a metal ruler. As you can imagine, the process was very fiddly and laborious and no fun at all.

Anyway, here’s the whole sorry tale…