Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bin spin!

In an effort to put a positive spin on the bin-gate scandal, the Labour Party are rumoured to be giving away the 2,700 bins that cost the people of Dominica US$100 each. And changing their election symbol...

Monday, May 25, 2009


In the tradition of naming any political scandal after Watergate, I'm hereby naming the great 2009 Bin Scandal 'Bin-gate'.

Trevor Johnson is clearly our Woodward and Bernstein.

But who is Tricky Dicky Nixon in our Bingate???

And are there any tapes?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

National Bank: where 'pick up' is a valid address

The last time I queued in the National Bank of Dominica to get a bank draft, I asked: can I do this online? Order a bank draft, I meant, not queue. The cashier said 'Of course!' so that's what I did earlier this week. Went online and ordered the draft, being sure of course to check the 'pick up' option for the delivery method.

So I go into the bank to pick up my draft. It can't be found. Did I specify to pick up the draft when I ordered it? 'Of course!', I replied, 'I don't even have the address of the recipient!' They'll call me, they said, when they found it. 'And what about the cash I also ordered online', I asked? More internal phone calls. Seemed it was available to pick up, but the person whom one picked it up from wasn't available. I left the bank empty-handed.

But I did get a phone call from the bank. The draft had been mailed. After telling them to cancel it, I checked my copy of the order for the draft. Not only was 'Pick Up' specified as the delivery method, but the mailing address was filled with 4 rows of 'Pick Up'...

So now I'm going to have to queue a second time for the draft (and cash). National Bank of Dominica, you get 5 out of 10 for your online banking system (changing the error messages from Spanish would help improve that score), and a big fat zero out of 10 for your human 'interface' with the online system.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My Day In Court

I was in the High Court recently, testifying as an expert witness. This is what I learnt.

1) When testifying, always end an answer with "..., my lord". Avoid affecting an accent... 'me lud'.

2) If you're a defendent in a case, don't think leaving Dominica for England will get you off the hook. High Court judgments for damages in Dominica (and presumably other Caribbean islands) can be applied through the UK court system.

3) There are 3 types of damages that can be awarded: punitive, nominal, and compensatory. Together they can be substantial. You might want to come to a settlement (4 figures) rather than lose the case and get slapped with 6-figure damages.

4) As a witness, never leave the court house when you think you've finished testifying, unless you want to have to sprint across Roseau back to the Court... Leave when told. Don't go shopping.

5) If you're going to send a defamatory e-mail, don't send it from your own computer and/or e-mail account.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Backing up your DVD collection

I finally sat down today and tackled an issue that's been bugging me for the longest while: how to make a copy of my DVDs. Of course, here I must emphasise that the process I'm about to describe is purely theoretical, and if I ever employed it, it would be for 'fair use', personal backup copies of my own DVD collection.

So, what is the process?

1. Rip the DVD to your hard disk. This not just saves the files, but removes the copy-protection.
Tool: DVD Decrypter

2. Burn the ripped DVD to a blank DVD
This is just copying the files (usually in a folder VIDEO_TS) to a blank DVD.
You can burn it direct using something like ImgBurn

However, Dual Layers DVDs (as most movies are) will need to be shrunk first.
Dual Layer DVDs can hold up to 8.5gb; standard blank DVDs are Single Layer, storing just (!) 4.7gb.

DVD Shrink will shrink your DVD by compressing it, and also allow you to remove items from the original DVD (such as foreign subtitles, and special features) that you might not want.

It can in fact burn the resulting shrunk DVD files straight to the new blank DVD.

And all the mentioned programs are freeware.

For other methods, see or