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* Posts by Tim Almond

134 posts • joined 27 Oct 2008

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I am NOT a PC repair man. I will NOT get your iPad working

Tim Almond

Neighbours

I've never minded if neighbours/friends are reasonable about it. Don't treat me like I'm on call, don't get snotty with me because it's still not working after my free labour. Don't knock on my door asking for me to look at a PC that you bought from PC World after I expressly told you NOT to go to PC World. If I'm there for a short while, offer me coffee or a glass of red.

And to be honest, it's something I can give to the neighbours and they do nice stuff for me too. I get a fair amount of free rhubarb, they don't hesitate to offer assistance if I need a sofa moving. I'd much rather be working on a PC than digging a fruit patch.

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JJ Abrams and Star Wars: I've got a bad feeling about this

Tim Almond

Disagree

The main thing with Abrams is that he's a safe pair of hands, and for me, I think he makes good films. I enjoyed Star Trek and MI3 and I think that Super 8 is probably his best film as it seems to be a more personal project.

What I'm not sure about is whether he can make a great film. I think he'll do a good job of making a watchable, enjoyable film. But I'm not expecting it to be mind-blowingly awesome.

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TalkTalk's catch-up telly fib silenced by ad watchdog

Tim Almond

Re: Hang on.

but that is misleading, especially as some of the stuff that I'd most like to watch on catchup (major US comedies for example) often isn't on there and I'm not sure if there's catchup for channels like Dave at all.

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Object to #YearOfCode? You're a misogynist and a snob, says the BBC

Tim Almond

Re: superficial at best

Complete waste of time, unless you are either a) interested or b) going on holiday

The amount of time it takes to get to a level of fluency where you can use it in business is huge. It's why we have a small number of specialist translators, people who are good with languages, possibly raised in a bilingual home. And translators really aren't very expensive.

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Tim Almond

Show Coding to Kids...

... and then leave it to the computer clubs.

Not everyone has to understand code. It's an important part of business, but then, so is sales and not everyone is good at sales. Getting kids fired up who might not be would be useful.

And no, I have no faith in YearOfCode. I did, but you can't have someone running it who doesn't understand it. History shows that managers can't just be enthusiastic amateurs in the subject.

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Best budget Android smartphone there is? Must be the Moto G

Tim Almond

Anyone on 4G

Is there really much benefit to it at the moment?

The places it seems to be, like London or Reading, I can find pay a Starbucks, pay a quid for an espresso and use their wi-fi.

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If you're not paying, you're product: If you ARE paying, it's no better

Tim Almond

Problems

"Even if the service doesn’t get yanked you run the risk that one day you’ll lose something critical thanks to a systems outage or hard-drive crash."

What's the difference between that happening to you and it happening to a service provider? Except that you've got to do all your own patching, backups, verifying backups and so forth, rather than a company with dozens of staff who by sheer numbers can solve more problems than you can.

The main thing with all software and services is to always have an exit strategy. If you don't like how a software or service provider treats you, are you either happy to give up the service, or do you have a way of migrating your data to another service?

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Don't crack that Mac: Almost NOTHING in new Retina MacBook Pros can be replaced

Tim Almond

Not just about cost

I have thinkpads because they're better for upgrading.

The cost is part of that - I can get a repairer to swap out the HDD for a small cost, but it's also about time and privacy. I don't want to have to get to an Apple store (nearest one 30 miles away) who will send it off. I want it turned around that day so I can get on. That means I can call around the repair shops locally and see if someone can do it then.

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Couchbase relaxes NoSQL derrière into mobile seats

Tim Almond

"A doctor can have entire day or entire weeks of data right on the device," Yaseen says.

But why do you need a DB layer for that? How much data are we talking about? I've worked on systems where people worked remotely and they either used the file system as a DB (as in, each record was in a text file) or all the data was in an XML file and loaded into memory.

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iPhone 5S: Apple, you're BORING us to DEATH (And you too, Samsung)

Tim Almond

Peak Phone

Simple fact is that the smartphone has hit the point where nothing is revolutionary now. Nothing really warrants a global presentation and wall-to-wall coverage. You can't go blaming Apple for that any more than you can blame bicycle makers for adopting the same fundamental bike designs that have been around for over 30 years now.

Science leads to technology. The early versions of technology are often a bit useless, or horribly expensive. They get improved, become more and more popular and continue to evolve, but at a certain point, they get "done" or the improvement delivers very few benefits (e.g. cameras with more than 10mp, cars adding 0.5mpg per new version).

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New iPhones: C certainly DOESN'T stand for 'Cheap'

Tim Almond

Re: Why bother

Someone is selling Lumia 520s on Amazon for £110.

The fact is that much like PCs, phones have basically hit a plateau. I don't need more speed - the bottleneck on my Nexus phone is with the network, not the phone. And it's not like I'm rendering frames for Peter Jackson. I use apps for telling me the next train home, playing some noddy games.

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Don't tell the D-G! BBC-funded study says Beeb is 'too right wing'

Tim Almond

Establishment Organisation

Ultimately, it's an organisation that depends on the state to keep it alive. Think it's going to give any oxygen to the views of PJ O'Rourke or Milton Friedman, and let people know that there's an alternative, and consign itself to having to compete in the market?

(the BBC gives airtime to the left, and to the old right, but rarely gives coverage to small-government libertarians).

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PHWOAR! Huh! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, Prime Minister

Tim Almond
Facepalm

Re: He speaks with a forked tongue

"So wait, he is relying on the ISPs to work out how and what they will block, so does this mean different ISPs will block different things (and will worry about the govt coming down on them for not doing a good enough job?). You are not going to block soft-core porn (yet) or exploitation of children and over-sexualisation of them (which in my mind is a lot worse than adult porn being out there)"

No. the ISPs aren't worried at all, because they know that it's just PR guff. One is filtering (TalkTalk) and has a niche. Some parents are especially worried about it and switching to them.

The other 3 big ones are being begged by government SpAds to carry on as they are, but to manipulate the wording so it looks like "on by default", but isn't. Not to protect kids but just to make Cam look good. But as that was leaked by one of the ISPs, I think we know how they feel. And then there's dozens of small ISPs out there that aren't being addressed by that letter.

My guess, the ISPs haven't agreed to anything. They didn't when Clare Perry lied that they had agreed to act a few weeks ago. But while you can go to war with a junior MP in Marlborough, you can't really do the same with the PM. My guess is that they'll ignore it. Cam is toast as PM anyway, so string it out long enough, the problem will go away.

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That enough, folks? Starbucks tosses £5m into UK taxman's coffers

Tim Almond
Stop

Re: So: basically it's a protection racket

"Personally I like the idea of a government capable of paying for hospitals, roads, schools, police, and so on. I'm also coming round to the idea of adding the guillotine to that list."

If that was all government was, and was all done in an efficient manner, we'd have 20% tax.

Education costs £99bn. That's just over a grand each.

Health costs £130bn. Around a grand and a half each.

Roads? Well, the road fund license more than covers that.

Policing? £40bn at most. And a lot of that comes from your council tax.

So, that's around 1/3rd of the total government expenditure of 722bn. And a lot of that is badly run. Thanks, but the state can burn someone else's money before mine.

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Former Microsoft Windows chief: I was right to kill the Start button

Tim Almond
Go

With one exception (he works for Microsoft), every single .net developer I know that has converted to Win8 has subsequently installed Start8.

People are used to it. They've been using it for 15 years. And as far as I'm concerned, it's far better than the start screen. Why? Because it's hierarchical. I can put all my graphics programs (that I don't use that often) in a "graphics" menu with a folder for each program below it.

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If you've bought DRM'd film files from Acetrax, here's the bad news

Tim Almond
FAIL

DRM=Not property

You think you bought that movie, but actually, you just rented it for as long as the owners wanted. Another company can buy them out, shut them down and fail to honour the contract that customers made with that business.

That's why I buy my media on discs. I don't mind renting with DRM, but all my movies are mine.

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Mobile tech destroys the case for the HS2 £multi-beellion train set

Tim Almond
Stop

Re: Sensible hat on - a better use of £12bn

An "embarrasment"? What's this, keeping up with the Schmidts and the Duponts?

I couldn't care less if France has fast rail or not. Dubai has the smallest skyscraper on earth. Mecca has the largest clock face. So what? If the Germans, French or Arabs want to blow their money on boondoggles, they're welcome to it.

Personally, I'd rather the country spent my taxes wisely. And if fast rail doesn't add up, I'll keep with slow rail.

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Tim Almond
FAIL

Re: Past and future

That's a fallacious argument that assumes that no investment/spending is worthwhile.

If you can go from horse to train, the cost/benefit is immense. It's a total no-brainer. You can have people going from London to Bristol in a few hours (at Victorian speeds) rather than 2 days. Someone no-longer has to waste 4 days to go someone, but can do it in one day. No coaching inn costs.

We're talking about a change from an hour and a quarter to around 45 minutes.

It's like someone owning an old 386 PC and then buying an i3. Should they then buy an i7 that's barely going to improve their performance?

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Google's teeny UK tax bill 'just not right', thunders senior MP

Tim Almond
Go

Change the law then...

If she thinks they don't pay enough, change the tax law or shut up.

Personally, I avoid as much as possible. If you've got £11bn to spend on a 3 week hop, skip and jump competition, you don't need any more of mine.

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iPads in education: Not actually evil, but pretty close

Tim Almond
FAIL

Re: I disagree

Oh, please. You think Geeks are threatened by iPads? Who do you think is writing all the apps? Who do you think is still maintaining all the network infrastructure that they use? Or the websites that you access? If anything, iPads have earnt me money as I had to replace Flash with jQuery controls.

There's a lot of smart people in computing, and if they could get their programming done quicker, cheaper or more reliably on an iPad, they would. Same with authors, graphic designers and accountants. But, and I cannot emphasise this strongly enough, almost no-one is using an iPad as a device to produce things. If you want kids to learn how to play Angry Birds, post on Facebook or look at cat photos, fine, but I thought schools had loftier aims than that.

As for that article that you linked to, there is nothing in there that couldn't also be done with a laptop.

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Uni profs: Kids today could do with a bit of 'mind-crippling' COBOL

Tim Almond
FAIL

Very Bad Advice

"COBOL is good for another 10 years thanks to its huge presence in mainframes and on Unix systems running mission-critical apps in banks and government."

Right, and how many jobs do they think that is, in total? People making occassional updates to overnight batch or inland revenue systems? How many people do they think these organisations already have who are in their late 40s/early 50s who are just looking towards retirement?

I have lots of mates that once knew COBOL and a couple of them are still doing it. Most have moved on to .net, PHP, Java or whatever else.

There are 17 jobs that come up for COBOL on Jobserve, most of which have it as a minor skill. That compares with 2000 C# jobs and 600 PHP jobs.

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Silicon Roundabout worthies in £2m UK.gov cash battle royale

Tim Almond
FAIL

London

If it doesn't exist in London, as far as politicians and mainstream media are concerned, it doesn't exist.

the whole "silicon roundabout" shows just how London-centric these people are. There's a ton of startups in the Reading/Bracknell area but they're completely oblivious to it as it isn't a tube ride away or run by one of their pals.

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Cambridge boffins fear 'Pandora's Unboxing' and RISE of the MACHINES

Tim Almond
WTF?

In other news...

... still no cure for cancer.

Presumably someone in Cambridge is researching development of viruses that can be deployed via an Apple Mac to destroy an alien invasion.

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How can the BBC be saved from itself without destroying it?

Tim Almond
Go

Make the License Fee Optional

The BBC might be independent, but that doesn't stop it from being biased. And it isn't biased towards "the left" but towards itself and the establishment. Any opportunity to bash the free market will be taken. They will automatically side with NGOs like War on Want and Greenpeace against companies, before even checking the accusations they are making. The question is never "minister, don't you think we have enough government?" but "minister, don't you think this extra chunk of government being suggested is a good idea?".

I'd like someone to actually produce some evidence to show that in say, news, they do any more public good than the free press.

Most importantly, we no longer have the limited amount of media channels that we had in the 1960s. I grew up with 3 channels and you can understand that government might want to ensure that you get diversity, but in these days of Freeview, satellite and the internet, there's plenty of diversity. On YouTube, I can watch videos of economists talking about Hayek, 90 minute reviews of the Star Wars prequels, performances of Verdi's Requiem and a bloke doing a metal version of Gangnam Style.

And there's no reason today that it can't be done by subscription and a smart card.

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Are you an IT pro? It's no longer safe to bet your career on Microsoft

Tim Almond
FAIL

Inaccurate

"Developers face the problem that MS doesn’t love them anymore, seeing us as disloyal peasants, best expressed when Visual Studio Express was intentionally crippled to produce only Metro (or No-tro, or whatever it’s called) apps."

You're 5 months out of date. Microsoft relented on that and have a version for Windows 8 and for Windows desktop. Because they... errr... listened to those "disloyal peasants".

Personally, as an ASP.NET/C#/SQL/XAML developer, the one thing that I'll always credit Microsoft for is that they love developers. I got a free day covering Azure, days like the DDD days, free evenings with pizza going over technologies, Microsoft people on Twitter and blogs who are happy to talk about stuff.

And honestly, ASP.NET MVC is a dynamite development platform. Nothing comes close for building a solid web application.

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OEMs and sellers must pay refunds on software faults - OFT

Tim Almond
Happy

"quality standards"

Can I get a refund on The Phantom Menace then?

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Surface RT: Freedom luvin' app-huggers beware

Tim Almond
Go

Re: What's the problem?

C'mon, most use their tablets for what? Surfing the web, listening to music and watching an occasional video. What part of that is prevented by a walled garden?

In which case, why spend out the £480 for a Microsoft WinRT tablet when a £160 Nexus will do the same job and has more apps?

My feeling is that there just isn't a place for Microsoft on touch. They arrived too late to the party and Android is already well-established in the place they should be. People with deep pockets are going to buy iPads and people seeking value will buy Android.

I know a lot of .net people, and one of them has ordered a Surface, and he happens to be writing a WinRT book. If you can't get .net devs interested in a Microsoft product, then frankly, it's doomed.

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Inventor sues Google Wallet over NFC loyalty patent

Tim Almond
FAIL

Obvious Patent

I was thinking about playing with NFC and one idea I had two days ago was an app which would allow my local cafe to replace their rubber-stamp-and-ink loyalty card with a digital solution which would... connect to a server and record the results (mostly because I keep losing the loyalty card).

It's not a patentable problem. It's a functional decomposition and software engineering one.

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Apple unveils iPad mini, upgrades its big brother

Tim Almond

Expensive

It strikes me that Google and Amazon have correctly priced these toys in the toy price bracket. A lot of people out there will drop £130-160 on something on a whim, but £269 is a bit more of a commitment.

(yes, I know that someone will have some stories about how these are used for some serious application, but most of them are really toys).

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US trounces UK in climate scepticism jibber-jabber

Tim Almond
Go

You Can Certainly Count Me as a Type 3

Look up how many deaths are anticipated from global warming over the next century, then the number of deaths each year from diarrhea or malaria.

Two of these are, in global terms, quite easy to fix. Certainly far easier than making a sustainable (as in not requiring massive financial inputs) clean energy.

So, that's not to say that you shouldn't fix global warming, but that you're better off spending money on research rather than implementation into energy savings, while fixing the other two problems.

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Steve Jobs is STILL DEAD

Tim Almond
FAIL

Re: FFS

"Henry Ford's name is still trotted out on occasion; the Kelloggs also had a full-on Hollywood bio-pic made about them. (And those two really didn't get on!) This isn't new."

Yes, but when was the last time that you called into a Ford dealership and they stuck a video in your way to watch before you could talk to a salesman?

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Tim Almond
WTF?

Re: FFS

We're not talking about Microsoft having a tribute when Gates dies. It would be quite normal for a company to have a public tribute to a founder of a company.

The "one year on" thing is unusual, though.

My first reaction to this was "eh?" and my second one was that Apple are basically rallying the cult members after the disastrous iPhone 5 launch.

We'll probably find out in a few years when Tim Cook gets canned.

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OK - who just bought a biz PC? Oh wait, none of you did

Tim Almond
FAIL

Please... make it stop...

"Rosina claimed the average sales prices of all-in-one computers has fallen "significantly" and will drive touchscreen adoption in business, "an element of which will be at the core of Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8". "

Firstly, no-one cares about touchscreens. Go into any FTSE 400 business, and you will struggle to find even 1, despite the fact that there are touchscreens available that work with Windows (they simulate the mouse click).

Secondly, no-one in business wants all-in-ones. You've got a desk, you've got plenty of space under it for the PC grey box. That is, a box that can be easily repaired, upgraded or re-imaged and costs very little. All-in-ones mean locking yourself into proprietary repairs. Monitor dies with a PC? Throw out the monitor, spend £150 on a new one. Monitor dies on an all-in-one? Throw out the whole PC.

At what point are journalists and analysts going to face the fact that 99% of fondleslabs are being used by people playing Angry Birds and updating Facebook in front of the TV and that a lot of people, and not just command-line junkies, can see little benefit in owning one if they already have a PC.

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Eric Schmidt: Ha ha, NO Google maps app for iPhone 5

Tim Almond
Happy

Correction

Google never built the iOS maps app. They just supplied the back-end services for an App that Apple built.

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Peeved bumpkins demand legally binding broadband promise from UK.gov

Tim Almond

Re: Move House

The government mandates that some actions -- such as filling in a self-assessment tax form or making a VAT return -- must be carried out online. This saves them a lot of money.

Is it not reasonable that people in rural areas should ask the government to spend some of that money on the infrastructure that makes those savings possible?

You don't need 2mbps broadband to fill in online forms. Even on 33K dial-up, sending a few K of data is not slow. 2mbps broadband is for entertainment and a few niche purposes.

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Tim Almond

Re: Move House

OK, London, Bath and Cheltenham are all more expensive than the areas outside of them. Now try the same exercise with most of the rest of the country.

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Tim Almond
Meh

Re: @Tim Almond

"Well, the other commentors have already passed on most of my thoughts on your post, but also consider this...if farmers don't have decent broadband to help them (Farming is now a high tech business), your food price is going to go up. Would you be happy with that?"

If having decent broadband is going to help them, they can pay for it, as they'll see the benefits.

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Tim Almond
Facepalm

Re: Move House

what's that got to do with the fact that broadband relies on higher population densities?

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Tim Almond
FAIL

Re: Move House

"As for most of them being middle class - please do wake up and pay attention. Most people outside of London do not live on large country estates being waited on by a staff of servants."

Which is hardly a definition of middle class. But go on, tell me whether people living in central Birmingham are richer than the people living in Solihull or Sutton Coldfield, or whether people living in central Manchester are richer than people living in Alderley Edge.

There are parts of the UK where being rural means poverty, such as mid-Wales and Lincolnshire, but on average people who live in villages in this country are richer than the people who live in towns.

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Tim Almond
FAIL

Move House

Most people who live in the country do so out of choice. Not because they're dry stone wall builders or milkmaids, but because they're middle-class people want to live in their faux bucolic rural idyll.

That choice means that you don't have crowds, which on the upside means it's nice and quiet, but on the downside means that certain services that rely on higher population densities (like broadband) aren't on your doorstep.

So, if you don't like it, sell your house and move back to town. No-one says that people in rural areas should have ice skating rinks and bowling alleys, so why should they get 2mb broadband subsidised by people that are generally less well-off than them?

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Ballmer: Win8 'certainly surpasses' Win95 in importance

Tim Almond
Thumb Down

Tablet Prices

"If you say to somebody, would you use one of the 7-inch tablets, would somebody ever use a Kindle to do their homework?" he asked rhetorically. "The answer is no; you never would. It's just not a good enough product. It doesn't mean you might not read a book on it."

Would someone use an iPad to do their homework? And no, no cheating here. No bluetooth keyboards, no stands.

I'm still not really switched onto the idea of tablets. They seem OK for sitting in front of the TV and checking what's happening on Facebook, but my phone will do that too. At least when the Nexus costs £150-200, you're in the range of "toy" spending. And some people will spend more for the gorgeousness/Veblen aspects of them, but MS doesn't have that.

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Yes, yes, the Olympics are near. But what'll happen to its IT afterwards?

Tim Almond
Flame

Re: Hmmm...

Do you think anyone comes up with these justifications for the Olympics after detailed analysis and planning?

The detailed analysis of the Olympics, carried out by economists repeatedly reports that it's not worth hosting them. The only benefit is that the nation gets a 3 week party and that's a pretty damned expensive party, especially as it's full of sports that people normally couldn't give a toss about.

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Why British TV drama is crap – and why this matters to tech firms

Tim Almond
Meh

License Fee

I'm not sure it matters so much to technology, but I think it does matter with regards to how people see the license fee.

We've been told for decades about all the great things done at the BBC because of how it's uniquely financed, but I honestly can't put their drama or comedy over the things coming out of the US. I'd probably put C4's output above the BBC's now (Being Human was very good, but I'm struggling to think of much else that I set the PVR for). The best two recent comedies (The I.T. Crowd and The Inbetweeners) were both on C4.

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YouView launches with pricey premium DVR

Tim Almond
FAIL

Yesterday's Machine

The trouble is, of course, a lot of folk own DVRs already. No problem, says the ebullient Sir Alan, "this is the box their going to replace their DVRs with".

Whisky Tango Foxtrot

Sugar was on TV this morning talking about how iPlayer wasn't easy, that you had to go to a PC to use it and type in a web address, despite the fact that it's on tablets, smart TVs and every console.

The whole thing looks like a lot of old, tired companies getting together and thinking they can palm off the public with a box that might have been interesting 3 or 4 years ago. You can buy a TV that will do iPlayer, LoveFilm, Freeview, Blinkbox and Netflix today for around £450 and that includes a TV! Or an Xbox for £129 will do a lot of that too.

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Tablets to outship laptops in 2016 SHOCK

Tim Almond
Meh

Re: Tablet+Desktop+TV?

"Ultrabook=Tablet with a screen? - but tablets can do that already"

But the tablet is only a subset of the ultrabook features, while the ultrabook does everything a tablet does. And of course, everything's controlled in a way that PC's just aren't. And the tablets are so crippled and controlled that you'll probably want a PC anyway.

Save your money and spend it on a bullworker so you can lift that heavy laptop.

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Microsoft's Surface plan means the world belongs to Android now

Tim Almond
WTF?

Fragmentation

If fragmentation is such an issue, where's the evidence so far?

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Natwest, RBS: When will bank glitch be fixed? Probably not today

Tim Almond
WTF?

Eh?

How does the mobile banking app have a "domino effect"? How is it anything but a thin UI that talks to web services to get or put data? How does it stop transactions from an overnight run from BACS getting through?

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Foxconn daddy: 'Don't buy Galaxy S III, wait for iPhone 5'

Tim Almond
Meh

Why?

As far as I can tell, phones are reaching that almost flat bit of the evolutionary curve that all technology goes through where this year's model is barely any different to last year's model. It's not worth upgrading from a 5 year old car to a brand new one because you're spending a lot for an extra 1mpg.

I have a Nexus S and I've tried the Galaxy S2. The javascript is faster and the menus smoother, but I'm not thinking that I want to lock myself into another contract to get an upgrade.

If the iPhone 5 does something revolutionary (and not Apple's definition of revolutionary) then I'll take a look, but I anticipate that what we're really looking at is another bump upgrade.

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iOS was SO much more valuable to Google than Android - until Maps

Tim Almond
Happy

Maps

How much of that $2bn is maps? Tom Tom are valued at around 1 billion euros, which would suggest it would have been cheaper to have just bought them outright at that price.

As for creating a new search engine, the problem is that what Google do isn't simply an engineering and rewriting problem. It's not obvious where you start with it. That's why there's only about half a dozen successful search engines, but a lot more social networks - social networking an engineering problem.

What I think Apple are doing is using Siri to replace search for a lot of the things people want on the go, like booking a table or checking movie times, and having partnerships with the likes of Rotten Tomatoes and OpenTable to do so. This does then raise a question about how unbiased the results will be. Will you get a restaurant suggested that is nearby and most appropriate (which is how Google would decide what comes first), or will you get the ones that are on OpenTable?

Apple are even comfortable with this, because they like curated content. Google's philosophy is different and is based around openness of data and algorithms to sort it.

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Olympic Phone touch-payment details revealed

Tim Almond
Go

Re: Solution still looking for a problem

I wouldn't mind contactless payments for the bus or for parking, but other than that, not really. And even parking now can be done with an SMS in many places.

Swindon had a "cash card" pilot in the late 90s called Mondex and it sank. OK, you couldn't just "bonk" it, but it wasn't much slower. You just inserted the card and the money was taken (i.e. no PIN).

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