December 30, 2009

Rant: iTunes vouchers

First of all a big thanks to Apple for giving me the subject of my first rant. Added points for giving me something to blog about this week. Now on to the rant itself.

I bought an iTunes voucher for my son-in-law for Christmas. Good idea I hear you all say. However, I live in Belgium (as you may have noticed) and my son-in-law lives in the UK. Oh dear!

Now I understand that iTunes have probably had to bend over and take one from behind from the entertainment industry just to be able to sell stuff online. So I can accept that they have to split there service into different regions. But surely they can work out how to do a simple currency conversion.

Not so apparently. My Belgium iTunes voucher cannot be redeemed on a UK account. It's just money Apple. Don't you want my money? Well I guess you got it anyway.

It's not like my son-in-law is trying to watch or listen to any Belgian only content, not that there is anything worth downloading from the Belgium store anyway. So my dear wife gets an extra xmas present and I have to go out in the rain and cold to get some real cash money to give my to son-in-law instead of the voucher.

So Apple, sort this out. I will certainly not be buying anymore vouchers and in fact will not be spending any more money in the iTunes store until you fix this. Mind you, I guess you don't particularly care about us Europeans and are happy to keep screwing us over with content restrictions and higher prices as long as we are daft enough to keep paying.

December 14, 2009

Billie's Journal

Our last run and my first official one was a success but messy. We had been hired to take out a bunch of humans that were pretending to be elves and killing other elves that weren’t elfish enough. Man, these dudes made me feel totally well-adjusted. As an elf myself, I wasn’t too happy about there little killing spree, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to have some breeder with fake ears tell me how to act or dress.

I don’t particularly like wetwork and we ended up having to kill a lot more of them than we planned. Grenades also make a real mess out of a person. So I needed some downtime to work through it all and headed out to Salish territory for a couple of days before our next run.

Why am I drawn there? I am sure I will find the answer one day and maybe even remember who I was before Sheriff freed me from the institution. But this time all I found was trouble. I was having a quiet drink in a two-bit watering hole when some loud-mouthed brave makes a comment in Salish about elves and cowboys. I don’t know a lot of Salish but enough to understand what he was saying and make a few choice comments about his mother that he didn’t take right well.

The resulting brawl went from bad to worse when big mouth pulled a blade and I popped mine. I woke up the next morning in the local jail with a headache, a hangover and a new scar. They held me for a couple of days until the next tribal council meeting. Big mouth turned out to be a local troublemaker so they went easy on me, just a fine and an escort to the border. The local ranger advised me to sort out the irregularities with my ID, like it listing my full name as William H. Bonney, before visiting Salish territory again.

I get back into town to find things with had moved quickly with Seaside. Seems like the Humanis gangers had paid him a visit earlier than planned, while I was still sitting in a Salish holding cell. Martha had found another stray, a physad called Chad, to stand in for me. Chad comes from the barrens and seems to have been brought up without any sort of formal education. He likes bananas.

Fortunately the rest of the team managed to rescue Seaside, although it sounds like it was a close call. Now Zero has been contacted by a fixer called Albrecht for a new job. Albrecht is something of a celebrity in the shadows and if we pull this off, we could be in the big time. However it means going to Scotland, which is an island off Europe and not in Germany. At least that’s what Finlay tells me.

Bad news is we need to give Albrecht our biometrics. He insists it’s only to get us fake passports, but I still don’t like it. Strangely, he doesn’t ask me about my cyberware. What’s worse is that we can’t take any hardware with us and it will be hard to get anything over there. Gun laws are pretty tight according to Finlay. Albrecht tells us we shouldn’t need them but I don’t really believe that.

Zero got the fake IDs today and we leave tomorrow. Apparently I am supposed to be her secretary. Passport says my cyberware is from a car accident. That bothers me for some reason, but my mind won’t give me a clue as to why. We go shopping to get me something appropriate to wear. I am not looking forward to having to wear a skirt. I put my boots and more sensible clothes into Chad’s luggage so at least I will have something to wear when we get there.

Our IDs work smoothly and the sub-orbital trip is short, landing in Edinburgh just a couple of hours after we take-off. However, it then takes another couple of hours to clear customs, although only the padre has any real trouble with the local customs officers.

Scotland, day one

We are picked up by a big hairy scot and taken to the hotel. Pretty swish place. Then it’s off to see the Johnson, Alistair McSomething. All these scots dudes are called McThis or MacThat. Seems his boss is missing and he wants us to find him. He thinks some people in his corp are sabotaging the search so has hired us to look for him. Unfortunately he doesn’t have a lot for us to go on. Our leads amount to a local saloon where he used to hang out and a possible lady friend at the University.

We decide to start at the saloon. It’s called Hamish’s and the two troll bouncers set the tone. It’s a bit rough, with real sawdust on the floor and a pretty mixed clientele. I like it. We settle in and order drinks. A couple of whiskeys later, the most garishly dressed dude I’ve ever set my eyes on comes into the bar. His purple shirt is open to the waist revealing a celtic medallion and a pasty white hairless chest. He wears pink and green pants. Finlay says it’s his clan colours. What, the gay clan?

Finlay and the padre decide to play a game called darts and when the padre makes some comment about the dude’s pants, the rest of us decide we need to act quickly. I for one don’t want to get into another barroom brawl. Not sure which way this guy leans, Chad is out if he’s straight and Zero if he’s not, so I get volunteered to try and chat him up. I should be offended but instead I head over with a pint and a whiskey and introduce myself.

It works, unfortunately. The guy, Duncan Crawford by name, is like an octopus. His hands are all over me in the first five minutes. I resist the urge to kill him. At least till I get some information out of him.

He claims to be a regular at the place. He remembers the elf but is more interesting in pawing me than chatting. I eventually manage to wriggle out of his grasp claiming I need to get back to the hotel with my ‘friends’ and we leave. Yuck.

Scotland, day two

Zero does her matrix thing and comes up with a name for the lady at the University, Amelia Richardson. She tries to make an appointment to see her but that doesn’t pan out, so we decide to pay a visit. She teaches magic and head shrinking, I think. It’s all way over my head. We cut her off at the pass at the end of her class. She’s nervous but denies knowing our target. She does take Finlay’s card though.

After an excellent steak at the hotel, we return to Hamish’s. Fortunately Duncan is not there. Well not at first. The big galoot ambushes me with a sloppy kiss and joins our table. Finlay and the padre decide to play some more darts while Zero and Chad proceed to get hammered. I do my best to keep up while fending off the octopus.

I ask him about his line of work. He is evasive but it’s clear he’s some sort of fixer. Maybe he can get me a gun so I can shoot him. I ask him again about the guy we are looking for and he points out a young elf girl sitting at another table. I tell him I need to go to the ladies and haul Zero along with me. I tell her about the girl and she says she will try to snap a picture of her. We are both pretty drunk and might not remember what she looks like in the morning.

When we come back out the padre has passed out and Chad is not far behind him. The booze is getting to Zero too and she starts blubbing about dead boyfriends. Not good. Finlay, the only sober one left decides it time for us to go back to the hotel and gets us out of there quick. I take a shower and pass out.

Scotland, day three

Ugh, hangover. The padre looks in worse shape, only showing up at midday, while Chad seems unaffected. Bastard. Zero goes off with Alistair to check out the corp’s matrix for clues to our missing target while the rest of us recover.

I spend some time sparring with Finlay to work Duncan out of my system. Then I go shopping with Chad. He asks me to buy him a set of kitchen knives. I don’t ask why.

Zero comes back in the late afternoon. She claims to have seen a ghost in the machine. The ghost of our target and it was asking for Amelia, the magic lady. Good, maybe this means I don’t have to be nice to Duncan any more.