Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Sparks, Internet Banking and Alt Key Woes

Yesterday almost ate me alive, though it began with good news. Thanks to its appearance on the Sparks’ Facebook page, my Sparks cartoon will (hopefully) be also appearing in the French music magazine New Noise in the next month or so. My morning was spent changing all the text to French. Then I tried to progress on the second Sparks strip I've been working on (more about that later) but my PC had other ideas. Its random alt key problem returned with a vengeance.

I think it has to be one of the most irritating bugs I’ve ever experienced on a PC. I loaded the Windows onscreen keyboard and it revealed the problem. Every few seconds, the alt key would press on its own. It made working impossible. It wasn’t ‘sticky keys’ or the keyboard since I swapped it for another and the problem remained. After about two hours rebooting, scanning, searching the web for answers, I finally found software that would disable the alt key. Not an ideal solution but at least it allows me to work.

Just when I thought I could get back to the Sparks strip, I then discovered that using my new credit card online had set off the bank’s anti-Fraud mechanisms, meaning I couldn’t access my online account. That meant a phone call to an Indian call centre. That sounds straightforward and it certainly began that way. They asked my mother’s maiden name. I know that. My date of birth. Easy. My address. Know it like the back of my hand. Then they asked for one payment, the exact amount, the date, the person it was to or from, and the mechanism by which it was paid…

How the hell could I know that? I mean, if I know a sum, I probably don’t know the date. If I knew a date, I couldn’t remember the sum.

‘Check your statement,’ they suggested.

‘But since you’ve moved to paperless statements, I’d need to check online, which I can’t do since you’ve locked my card…’

‘Well, I need a payment before we can proceed.’

There’s something really frustrating about some guy on the other side of the world looking at your bank account when you’re unable to get access to it yourself…

In the end, a Tesco receipt discovered stuffed in a trouser pocket saved the day but it was just part of the wonderful panoply of crap that seemed to hit me all afternoon.

Anyway, I’m knackered this morning. I made up lost time by working into the early hours trying to finish this second (probably last) Sparks strip. I realised at around nine o’clock last night that it didn’t have a great ending and I’d need to draw a third A4 sheet, or another eight panels. In some ways, this strip is better than the first but I wish I could come up with a great last panel...

Okay, I have a hell of a lot of crosshatching to do this morning.

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