Saturday, November 01, 2003


As I may have mentioned, I recently concluded that I really needed a memory card for my digital camera, as the internal 16Mb memory is pifflingly inadequate in any situation when I want to go away from my computer for more than a day or so. However, upon getting frustrated by the absurd prices charged by British high street, I ordered a card and a card reader from an internet retailer in Jersey, which quoted me an excellent price. However, there turned out to be a catch. Which was that I was leaving for Australia. And oddly, I wanted to have the memory card to take with me to Australia.

I ordered the memory card on a Friday, and I was leaving on a Wednesday. That should have been plenty of time. I was heartened to receive an e-mail the next day (Saturday) telling me that my order had been dispached, and I therefore eagerly looked forward to being able to store 64 four megapixel pictures in the camera instead of merely 8. The e-mail also contained a brief statement that the order might be sent in more than one package due to the way their warehouse system worked. This is normal. A lot of internet retailers say that, and it was nothing to worry about.

Thus, when a package fell through the mail slot on my door on Tuesday morning. I was happy. Yay. Memory card. But of course, when I opened it up, I found it only contained the card reader. (Well, that and a complimentary pen with the URL of the retailer written on the side). Damn. They had dispached two packages. (They didn't tell me this by e-mail. Amazon for instance always do. That is one point for Amazon). And I was going to Australia the next day. Still, there was some hope. And perhaps I would get another free pen in the second package.

And hey, I had the card reader. I was able to plug it into my USB hub, and install the driver software. When I did this, a little green LED came on on the card reader. (Of course, a blue LED would have been much cooler but it would also have cost a few pence more for the manufacturer). I turned it on and off a few times. The card reader looked so cute, just sitting there beside the laptop.

But of course, there are certain problems with having a card reader and no actual cards to read. Of course, the memory card didn't come the next day either, and I departed for Australia without it. I have brought my laptop with me to Australia, so I should be able to simply download my pictures to my hard disk whenever the camera gets full. But still, it's frustrating. And of course, the memory card is probably now sitting beneath the mail slot at home in London.

Or maybe not. For all this probably actually isn't the fault of the internet retailer. Part of it may be that mail takes a day or so longer to come from Jersey than from the British mainland. Most of it, however, is that Britain is having a postal strike. (John Major wanted to privatise the Royal Mail a decade or so ago. It's a shame he didn't succeed. At that point the Royal Mail was still quite a good organisation, but it has gone badly downhill since then, due partly to the government demanding excessive dividends in the good times and due to a lack of investment). In some ways, Britain is a frustrating country.

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