Not the best of weeks

Trouble, it’s said, comes in threes. If that’s true, then I hope my quota for this week is done.

Trouble #1 – the flight to Cape Town was delayed and eventually took off three hours late. All down to an inch of snow earlier in the day apparently. Having said that, I will consider myself lucky. An IBM colleague I saw at the airport had her flight to Boston cancelled outright.

The Cape Town rendition of Lotusphere Comes To You (LCTY) was a great success – I’m told it was the biggest-ever IBM Software event held in Cape Town. Personally I didn’t rate my presentation as one of my best – I would have given myself 6 out of 10.

Trouble #2 – my suitcase went missing in between Cape Town and Johannesburg. As we approached the luggage carousal I joked with Brendan Tutt that luggage came off the plane in reverse alphabetical surname order. Quarter of an hour later, when all other bags were claimed, I wasn’t joking so much. The airline’s baggage management team didn’t seem to give a toss and I couldn’t get them to understand the gravity of the situation. The lady said it was now late so they’d try to find it tomorrow. She then said she’d make some calls and ring me later. “Later” meant 07:30 the next morning. I should also mention at this point that it was lucky that I’d kept the free toothbrush supplied by the airline. I received a call saying they thought they’d found my bag, but asked if I could describe it. “Yes, it’s a suitcase with my name on the tag”. She went off to have a look.

An hour later I called them and was told it wasn’t my case. What were they doing about it? “We’re going to call Cape Town”. Not inspired with confidence, I put yesterday’s clothes back on (it was either that or the white bath robe) and headed back to the airport. And there was my case, sitting behind the desk. Overjoyed. Annoyed. I asked if or when they intended to call me to let me know. The lady shrugged her shoulders.

The pleasure of clean underwear, a fresh shirt and a full range of toiletries did wonders for my mood, and after a shower and a shave I headed to the venue of the Johannesburg LCTY, Summer Place. The event was great, over 150 attendees, and if I do say so myself I was on top form and I awarded myself 9 out of 10.

Trouble #3 – that evening I agreed to pay for some customer entertainment, but my credit card was refused. This has happened before, with the over-cautious credit card company blocking transactions suddenly appearing in a foreign country. I phoned them, explained I was in South Africa, and they said everything would now be okay.

A day later, my card was declined again, this time because it was apparently over the credit limit. I checked my account on-line and found there were over £900 worth of pending transactions. This was about £500 more than I could account for, so again I rang the credit card company. They couldn’t tell me what the transactions were, so after a discussion we took the decision to cancel the card.

Now, hindsight is a wonderful thing, and what I should have done is gone to this hotel’s reception first. It turns out that they took a holding deposit of 10,000 Rand from my card (that’s nearly £700). This would have been refunded when I checked out, but now the card is dead so the process is much more difficult. Great. Shouldn’t a hotel tell you they’re doing that?

Trouble #4 – hang on, there’s only supposed to be three. Today I upgraded to WordPress version 2.5. First I upgraded a test installation and it all went fine. I then upgraded the main blog (this one) and it all went tits-up. After some remedial work it’s mostly okay… there’s some controls missing from the authoring palette (this can be fixed) but the main problem is that the new management interface is crap. It’s poorly laid out and difficult to navigate.

Tomorrow I fly back to sunny England, and this should go without a hitch as I arrive back at – let me just check my itinerary – Heathrow Terminal 5. Ah…

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