Friday, September 28, 2012

Really - it is me

I have mentioned previously the difficulty of using iTunes if you want to access it outside the country in which you reside.

I can of course use iTunes in Austria without any difficulty. The problem is that they don’t have a lot of the music that I want – and if I want to buy an iBook it is course in German.

I can speak a bit of German but I am a long way from reading books.  

So in practice I buy music and books from iTunes stores in Australia, the UK and the USA. This is not easy.

The stores in each country will only accept registrations with local addresses and that is fine for Austria – and for Australia I have simply kept my old account open with the address at which I no longer live – but as Apple does not send mail by post this is not a problem.

I also have Austrian and Australian credit cards – so that is another problem solved.

There are two problems with Australia. Firstly they do not have much of the product that the UK and USA have and it is usually more expensive. Secondly – if I try to buy direct from Australia they will tell me that I have an Austrian IP address and will just redirect me to the Austrian store.

The latter problem I can overcome by using a proxy server service to which I subscribe – but it does tend to slow downloading.

So because of the unavailability of a lot of stuff I have to use the USA and UK stores.

Now it is easy to open an account in the USA and in the UK by providing dummy details  - but the credit card problem is insurmountable.

What you have to do is acquire US and UK iTunes gift vouchers and get the numbers by email and punch them into your accounts to establish a credit balance.

This used to be not that hard to do – but is expensive. A £25 gift voucher online will cost you at least £33.

Then of course you have to use the proxy servers for the UK and the USA to do the downloads.

Are you with me so far? Please feel free to stop reading – it does not get any better.

But in recent times the purchase of gift cards online has become more difficult – I think because of massive amounts of credit card fraud.

Cate has recently decided that she wants to watch movies on her iPad. She particularly wanted to watch one last night. This is easier than it sounds.

Theoretically the movies will be available in the Austrian iTunes store but of course – unless they are major releases – they will probably not have the same titles as the English versions.

I spent a lot of time searching fruitlessly for US movies which had been renamed. And – experience has shown that the smaller independent films may not be available at all.

So perhaps I could use Australia. Nope. Of three films I tried to rent -  none was available in the Australian store.

Which leaves me with the UK or the USA – for which I had to obtain gift vouchers.

The sources I used previously for these have disappeared – or have no UK vouchers available. So I decided to use a supplier I used some time ago – but my account had ‘expired’ so I had to start again.

Really - it is me!
After going through the purchase I got an email saying I needed to provide copies of a passport and other ID – which I did.

The next email told me that they still did not believe me and that I had to provide a photo of me actually holding the ID - which I did.

After three hours I got my gift voucher.

By the time I got the voucher and downloaded the films - Cate was well asleep – but I have proved it can be done.

But – amazingly – I can download films for the UK without using a proxy server. There are apparently not the same regional copyright restrictions on movies as there are on music. Or maybe I just got lucky.

Here endeth the lesson on downloading from multiple iTunes accounts.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I (almost) don't believe it

My ancient and venerable brother Burne - 78 yesterday

I am updating my various Apple thingies to the new software version iOS6 which replaces the Google maps App with the Apple maps.

There have been a lot of complaints about this but I understand that any new software maps App is going to have some bugs - so I think people need to get over it.  I seem to remember problems with Google in the early days?

Sure the Apple map App showed my iPad as being 90 metres from where I live but as I was looking at it at the time there was no real problem.

It is a small price to pay for having the benefits of Apple products (this will only make sense to Apple users).

There are much worse things than this going on in our very strange world at the moment.

I was idly looking at the FOX Network to see how many stories there were critical of President Obama (11) - when I stumbled across something called the Lingerie Football League

I was initially very skeptical because I thought that even a country that could give us Jersey Shore and Honey Boo Boo would be hard pressed to come up with something so grossly offensive that it shocked even me to my core – and it takes a lot to do that.

But apparently it’s true. Women play football in their underwear.

But surely there would be so many protests at something so misogynistic and so sexist that people would march in the streets in protest?

Apparently not.

These days it seems that anything goes.

(PS I am still not sure it is not a gigantic wind up).

Monday, September 24, 2012

Let's stick to the current system

Last of the summer sun in our courtyard

Cate has gone to Frankfurt for a few days.

The cats and I are partied out so we will just take it easy. I will spend some time frothing at the mouth about this.

It is really hard to imagine anything dumber than something like this.  Can you just imagine the gigantic goat thing that would ensue if laws against blasphemy were enacted.

The law is being pushed by those who believe that Islam is the one true religion - and that their invisible man who lives in the sky is really the only one to amount to anything other than a hill of beans.

Now what about the other 20,000 religions the are currently being practiced all over the world?

If any of them proclaimed that their particular invisible man was the one true God then they would by definition be blaspheming against all other religions.

Hundreds of millions of people would be blaspheming daily – and this does not include people like the Badger who eschew religion and is thus already on the infidel hit list of the radical Muslims – for not believing in something for which there is no evidence whatsoever.

Special blasphemy courts would have to be set up. They would be very crowded.  

Throngs of people would be clustered about shouting about how their god is the one true god – which of course is blasphemy to everyone else - except the Badger and his ilk. 

I guess it would be much like it is now except that there is currently no legal recourse.

It would be chaos.

On the whole I think it would be better to stick to the current system of killing anyone who offends your religion – and in some cases stoning non-believers to death.

Much more efficient – less paperwork.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Vienna's smallest restaurant

Enjoy it while you can

Cate is in Johannesburg this week so that cats and I have been having our usual amount of fun. I don’t cook anything elaborate when Cate is away and survive on things like omelettes. This gives me more time for mooching - and attending to the needs of the cats.

It has started to get cool here and it won’t be long before I have to turn the air conditioners from cold to hot. This is a tricky business as they take a few days to switch over (the reason for which was explained to me last year by Ernest) so timing is important and it is difficult to gauge when we have had our last really hot days.

There is always that frisson of anticipation as we wonder for a few days whether or not they will make the changeover – or just wheeze and die.

I had lunch with Merisi yesterday at Böhle in the Wollzeile. This is – as far as I am aware – Vienna’s smallest restaurant. It can – if pushed – cater for 12 people – although not all sitting at proper tables.

The dining room is at the back of the fabulous delicatessen and there is one chef who cooks a wide range of food for the patrons. Indeed the extent of the menu is astonishing given that he operates entirely on his own – behind the counter in full view of the customers.

He is a delightful man who engages with all his customers and will – if asked – show a video on his iPad of his vast chili garden where he cultivates more varieties of chilies than I knew existed.

It is – all in all – a unique experience.

Incidentally – if you look at Merisi’s’ blog today you will see that she has been taking photos of MY ducks.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Only in a parallel universe

Some months ago we bought a new sofa. At least we thought we had bought a new sofa. Turns out we cannot have it until the store is finished with it.

Cate has been unhappy with our existing sofas for a long time – indeed since the day we bought them a few years ago in Australia.

The day they arrived home she looked at them and said that the backs were not high enough.

I countered with the fact that they were still the same height as they were in the store - but this only elicited a death stare - and since then she has been searching planet earth for replacements.

This has involved peering into every furniture store we pass – anywhere in the world – and there are thousands -  but of course with particular focus on Vienna.

There have also been endless expeditions to  furniture stores in and around Vienna as we seek the perfect sofas – which I know do not exist simply because the chances of it being the right colour with the right cushions and the right height with the right configuration and the right legs are so remote that it may exist somewhere in a parallel universe but it is simply not available in this galaxy.

But – in July – we stumbled across something to which Cate took a fancy and I of course immediately expressed my boundless enthusiasm because I could see that this may be a chance to end the search for the Holy Grail of sofas to which I had devoted so very much of my life.

What is more – there was a 30% discount which to me – as the accountant in the household - was a very attractive proposition as it meant I could put more money aside for new Apple products.

The catch was that we were buying the sofa that was on display and they would not release it until their new season stock arrived. This was all well and good as that was due in a few week’s time and we were prepared to wait.

Well we are still waiting and phone calls and emails have failed to produce the goods.

So today I went to monster them personally and suitably harangued the poor wretch in the store.

I told him that unless he gave me a firm delivery date I was cancelling the purchase.

This – of course – was a lie.

There was no way I was going to cancel the purchase and condemn myself to another five years of hellish wandering through furniture stores discovering why each and every sofa on display had irredeemable faults which rendered it unfit for use.

So – suitably motivated – he made phone calls and gave me a date – October 4.

Now he probably made this up but that’s OK as I was lying as well - and at least it gives me another two weeks breathing space where I do not have to think about sofas.