Life, Personal

I might need a visa

Julia is currently on an exchange program in America and I plan to visit in November. Which unfortunately means I need to get a visa.

America (like a lot of the world) runs a visa waiver programme whereby people in certain situations don’t need a visa to enter the country. At the moment holders of a UK passport listed as British Nationals going for business or pleasure trips of less than 90 days that haven’t been arrested don’t need a visa. On October 24th that will change. As well as the above requirements you will need a biometric passport.

Biometric passports are being brought in over here slowly. Any passport applications may, or may not receive a biometric passport as the increase the volume of BPs they can produce. Which means I can’t just apply for one.

Sometime in “early October” however the change over to biometrics will be complete and all new UK passports will be biometric. But that is cutting it very close. They do have systems in place whereby the application can be sped up (down to as little as one day) but that involves extra hassle and extra cost. Possibly less than that needed to get a US visa though…

visas, passports, US, America, biometrics

Computers, Google, Life, Technology

The US Embassy

<![CDATA[Julia is going to America next year on an exchange and she needs a student visa obviously (a J-1 if you're interested). So we had a nice trip to London to the US Embassy this week.

The first problem we faced was finding it. Using Google Maps gives different results depending on whether you use the address or the postcode. I figured the address was right since it at least showed a road with the right name.

Speaking of the road, it's blocked off. The whole road in front of the embassy is completely blocked to traffic and has armed police patrolling it. For various reasons we needed to find a bank so Julia asked one of the police officers. Somehow feels like misusing resource – asking someone with a gun that big for directions.

Then once Julia was in (I couldn't get in without an appointment) there was a three hour wait. But they said yes. Even the page full of Arabic in her passport (following a recent trip to the United Arab Emirates) didn't worry them.

America, US, passports, embassies, London, USA, exchange students]]>

Life, Technology

Cheap International Calls

<![CDATA[When I came up with the idea for mini themes it occurred to me that it could a reasonable possibility for advertising. Reasonable in theory only since my limited traffic would be a problem. But that doesn’t mean I could affiliate stuff up 😛

So here’s the first one: a fairly unobtrusive advert for a website of mine offering cheap international calls. I say unobtrusive simply because the layout of the content of the page is identical to before. And if you browse at a low resolution you don’t see the advert at all.

One quick note, you have to view the post specifically to see the theme. I intentionally stopped them from showing on the homepage.

cheap calls, international calls, Just Dial, adverts, advertising, call abroad]]>


Lloyd’s TSB interest not as good as it sounds

<![CDATA[Lloyd’s TSB are current offering “over 150 more days of Interest”. The will you pay you interest from the day money goes in until the day it goes out. Since most banks don’t do this sounds like a good deal, but a lot people won’t gain from this. It only applies to current accounts you see. The Lloyd’s TSB Classic current account offers 0.1% AER. If you pay in more than £1000 a month you can get the Classic Plus current account which offers 4% AER but that requires you to use online banking. And even then that rate is only on balances up to £5,000 (back to 0.1% after that).

If you get an ISA or high interest savings account with an AER of 4%, 4 days interest is more than 150 days interest at 0.1%. Bottom line, don’t change to Lloyd’s TSB for this reason alone.

PS – Banking isn’t exactly common on this blog but I walk past the damn advert every day 😛

banks, banking, interest, savings accounts, Lloyds]]>


When is Boxing Day?

<![CDATA[I should have a category for "odd things I've found out" perhaps.

To all you non British people, this post may make little sense.

When is Boxing Day? The popular answer is December 26th. Which is usually true. What most people don't realise is that Boxing Day is a mobile holiday. Technically it occurs on the first weekday after Christmas Day. Boxing Day could conceivably fall on December 27th or 28th then.

It gets better though. If a bank holiday falls on a non-working day (another holiday or a weekend) the next day becomes a bank holiday. This is why most people don’t realise Boxing Day moves, they think it’s just the bank holiday status that moves. But it also leads to a peculiar situation. If Christmas is on a Saturday or Sunday, the Monday afterwards is Boxing Day and therefore a bank holiday. The Tuesday is then also a bank holiday because of the lost holiday of Christmas Day – after Boxing Day.

How strange.

Christmas, Boxing Day, bank holidays]]>