Invoking Shibboleet

I’ve just come off the phone to my bank – First Direct – having asked them about a problem viewing previous months bank statements. It just doesn’t work and tells me “No statements have been produced for this account”. This is highly likely to be an account-specific of server-side problem.

Upon being asked what operating system I’m using (Ubuntu 10.10), which browser I have (Firefox 3.6.11) and who my ISP is (Andrews & Arnold), I am talked through deleting all my cookies and the browser cache, shutting down the browser, starting it again and logging in.

Hey presto, the problem has been summarily worked around since I’ve been load-balanced to a completely different server on First Direct’s network as I can clearly see from the URL bar.

I was precariously close to uttering “Shibboleet” when asked who my ISP was.

The Cyclist

A couple of months ago, I bought myself a bike, and catapulted head-first in to cycling to and from work.

It hasn’t been easy – dealing with less courteous road users who try to kill me, pedestrians who walk out from between buses, cars that overtake leaving precious little room for me – it’s a very big learning experience. The benefits are worth it though – the money I’m saving on my Travelcard is going on cycling gear for the first few months, and my body is changing shape in to something rather more pleasant than “chubby”.

Within London, TfL offer free or subsidised cycle training. I took up their offer and had a couple of two-hour sessions with a qualified and knowledgeable instructor. She showed me so many techniques to help me get around safely – a couple I was already doing, others I wasn’t and should, and some – such as roundabouts – that I didn’t dare tackle.

The result is a big increase in my confidence, and the feeling that I am assertive and aware enough on the roads to make the majority of cycling fun. If you have the opportunity to do so, take the cycle training – it may not be there forever.