Ph.D

  • Nothing to report.

Work

  • I was on support on Monday and Tuesday, and then again covering for someone on Thursday (after they covered one of my days last week). I didn’t note anything down during those days, so I guess nothing exciting happened. I handled some tickets about data.gov.uk and some about duplicate emails, but nothing stands out.

  • I started looking into how we tag content. For “specialist” content, like AAIB reports, we have this search-style interface where you can look through documents and subscribe to a subset of them. But this only applies to documents which are published by our specialist-publisher app. Most of our content is published by whitehall, and we want to extend this search/subscribe paradigm to whitehall content (and, more generally, to all content).

Miscellaneous

  • I was quite surprised to learn that the Madeleine McCann investigation is still receiving funding, over 10 years on. I’ve submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Justice for missing child investigations which are longer-running or more expensive than this one.

  • I wrote some Elixir. It seems a nice language. I got tripped up by the syntax a lot, mostly because I kept trying to write Ruby. I’ve heard a lot that “Elixir is just Erlang with Ruby syntax!”, and I have no idea why anyone says that because it’s not true at all. It has some keywords in common, but most languages have some keywords in common.

  • I received a letter from a company which said they’d been awarded the contract to clean the vents in these flats. The letter said that I hadn’t responded to any of their previous letters (which I hadn’t received), and that they would be getting in touch with the council (who own this block of flats) about it if I don’t respond to this final letter. I’ve ignored it.

    If the council are going to award a maintenance contract to some company, who then requires access to my flat, I expect to hear from the council about it. It’s unlikely this is some sort of elaborate scam, but in any case it’s not my problem if I didn’t receive their letters.

  • I got an email about a change to the terms of service to my Microsoft account, which will take effect on the 28th of December. I thought I’d closed my Microsoft account on the 4th this month, so I was quite surprised by this. I looked at the confirmation email I received when I “closed” my account, and found it said that my account would only be closed on the 3rd of January.

    The email about the new terms linked to this FAQ, which says “If you do not agree, you can choose to discontinue using the products and services, and close your Microsoft account before 28 December 2018.”

    I decided to contact Microsoft support on Twitter, having failed to find an email address. They referred me to a Microsoft support live chat, where I spoke to an agent who was less than helpful:

    Ferlyn> Thank you for contacting Microsoft Support. I am Ferlyn May B. How can I help you today?

    Ferlyn> Please be aware that if you switch apps or change focus to another window while working with us, you may get disconnected from your chat session. To ensure the best support experience, please stay active in this chat window.

    Me> I would like to close my account.

    Me> I marked it for closure earlier this month, and received an email saying it would be closed on 1/3/2019. However yesterday I received an email saying that there would be a change to the terms of service effective on the 28th of December, and to close my account before then if I do not agree with them (see https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/servicesagreement/upcoming-faq.aspx)

    Me> Microsoft Support on Twitter said that there is a 60-day waiting period on closing an account, so it seems I can’t actually close my account before the new terms become effective

    Felyn> Thank you for providing me with these pieces of information. Can I have your name and email address?

    Me> Michael Walker, mike@barrucadu.co.uk

    Me> I just filled these in on the form which sent me to this chat, do you not have access to that information?

    Felyn> Thank you for these pieces of information Michael and just to let you know that we don’t have the means to check on the status of your request. And since you received an email for the effectivity date of the closing of your account, I highly recommend for you to wait for that date.

    Me> If I wait for that date, it is after the new terms become effective on the 28th of December.

    Me> Are you saying that Microsoft can make people subject to arbitrary legal agreements, by announcing a change in terms too late to close their account?

    Felyn> Its says that by using or accessing our consumer products or services on or after 28 December 2018, this means you are agreeing to the updated Microsoft Services Agreement. If you do not agree, you can choose to discontinue using the products and services, and close your Microsoft account before 28 December

    Me> Yes. I would like to close my account before the 28th of December 2018.

    Me> However, I cannot, as Microsoft Support on Twitter have told me that there is a 60-day waiting period to close an account.

    Felyn> You already have a request to close the account. It is already on the process and the email with the effectivity date proves that.

    Me> The effectivity date is after the 28th of December 2018 though

    Felyn> You may also discontinue using the product and services indicated in that link as well.

    Me> And I received the email about the new terms after I had already made the request to close my account

    Felyn> Dec 28 pertains to a different matter which is the updated Microsoft Services Agreement and not with the request to close your account.

    Me> I know.

    Me> I would like my account to be closed before the new services agreement comes into effect. The FAQ says that I can do that.

    Felyn> The other email is just an update or helpful information if you wish to keep your account active.

    Felyn> My apologies however their is a fix time frame of 60 days before closing your account.

    Felyn> You may refer to this link for this detail:

    Felyn> https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/help/12412/microsoft-account-how-to-close-account

    Me> Then why does the FAQ say that an account can be closed before the new terms come into effect?

    Felyn> I understand that is pertaining to customers who are still using their accounts and Microsoft product and services., But on your case, you already have an existing request to close your account. You also received an email for the effectivity date.

    Felyn> Please wait until then or you if you wish, you can simply file another request to close your account.

    Felyn> https://account.live.com/closeaccount.aspx

    Felyn> Your Microsoft expert Ferlyn May B has ended your chat session. Thanks for visiting Microsoft Support.

    I’ve now got back in touch with them on Twitter to ask if there is anyone else I can contact. If not, I’m not sure who I should contact next—maybe the Information Commissioner’s Office?

    To clarify, I don’t disagree with the new terms. I haven’t even read them, but I assume there’s nothing particularly objectionable in them. But it’s principle of the thing: if an email tells me to close my account before a given date if I disagree with the new terms, I should be able to close my account before that date.