My 40th birthday treat to myself is..

A year’s subscription to Odeon’s Limitless pass (a rather eye watering £228, but that’s with a 5% discount, else is £19.99/month).

Unlimited (with a few T&Cs, but thankfully nothing too bad) trips to the local Odeon for a one up payment.  It’s a bit like Netflix, but with up-to-the-minute movies and requires you to use your legs to get out and about.

I’ve already booked my trip to see Captain America: Civil War, and Bad Neighbours 2.  The latter isn’t something I’d pay to see in the cinema (I’d rather wait until it came out on Sky Movies), but hey, it’s not costing me anything more.

Upcoming films will include Florence Foster Jenkins, Eye in the Sky, and – of course, The Jungle Book.  To upgrade to better seating only costs £2.30 a pop.  Not bad.  When you consider most films cost more than £10, I think what I’ve paid and what I intend to do with it will more than justify the cost.

Ooooh yes, ‘m going to use this pass as often as I use my travel pass.  You betcha.

South West Pains: Oh, Doctor Beeching!

Well.  We’ve just returned to the stone age with South Worst Trains South West Trains.

A Smart card rendered completely dumb by SWT HQ.
A Smart card rendered completely dumb by SWT HQ.

I’ve been using my South West Trains Smart Card just fine for the past month.  I had bought the contactless portion at Woking station’s ticket machines using the season ticket renewal option.

ALAS!

Today when I tried to do the same thing, the machine told me – several times, and most insistently, that it couldn’t find any season tickets.  I could buy regular train tickets for the card, and a 7 day pass between Woking and Guildford – but not a monthly.  So I walked up to the ticket office who told me that they don’t support these contactless cards and could only offer me paper tickets.  Talk about a step backwards!

Grudgingly I had to go for the paper route as I had to catch the next train to Guildford.  But before I went for my daily coffee fix at Costa, I went to one of the ticket office kiosks and asked if they were able to handle contactless cards.  Nope.  They couldn’t even read them.  All HQ’s fault, apparently.

What I don’t understand is why this worked before and now it doesn’t.  The system was working beautifully for the month I had the contactless card.  In/out at the barriers with not one single hassle.  Now I’ve got to go back to using paper tickets which wear out easily (often necessitating me to go and get it replaced), and thumble to pull the ticket out each time.

This is 2016, FFS, not the time of Doctor Beeching.

And when I tried to log into the South West Trains web site, not only am I not able to determine what my credentials are (I have them saved in my password management utility, but they’re not being accepted), but I’m getting this old chestnut:

Classic Windows 2008 Server (now a decrepit 8 year old OS) error - it can't negotiate a stronger set of TLS ciphers, PLUS they're not loading all their assets behind SSL (which they should).
Classic Windows 2008 Server error  (now a decrepit 8 year old OS) – it can’t negotiate a stronger set of TLS ciphers because it’s too old – they need to be using TLS 1.2 which is supported on Windows 2012) PLUS they’re not loading all their assets behind SSL (which they should be doing).  This is all too common a problem with a lot of commercial sites running on the Windows platform, and it’s driving me mad.

I wanted to check if I could buy the ticket in advance (although I’d still have to get the Plusbus component at the ticket office as SWT has never supported Plusbus on tickets longer than a week at the ticket machines).

In short: what a flippin’ mess.

Finally, South West Trains join the Smart Card generation!

I may be learning to drive with the intention of replacing buses and trains with a car so I can drive door-to-door from home to work (and vice versa), but it may be a few more months yet.  In the meantime, the good news is that South West Trains has finally brought out a smart card which is used like an Oyster card to get through the ticket barriers without the wear and tear on paper tickets.

I’ve just registered to get one, and hopefully I’ll never have to spend time getting my monthly ticket replaced because the ticket machines have chewed/destroyed them.  Apparently the Plus Bus aspect will still work, but obviously that bit will remain paper (which is fair enough because you only have to show that to the driver – it goes nowhere near a machine).

You can get more information and register for a South West Trains smart card here.