The Vanquis App Disaster

It is not clear what has happened with the Vanquis app and they are certainly not going to admit to anything untoward. I have an image of a disgruntled employee handing in their notice and hitting the delete button on the way out. Whatever it is it is amusing to sit back and watch; but I have a zero balance – it will be considerably less amusing and more frustrating for users who actually need to use the app to make payments etc.

The average banking type app gets four or five reviews a day. The Vanquis app gets around fifty five star reviews every day. These are clearly fake reviews and are there to drown out the one star reviews from frustrated users. Several of the one star actual users have commented on the fake reviews and ask that they be reported to Apple. I have done so but what Apple could or would do remains to be seen. Who would not take time out of their day to say something was “Easy to use”?

Fake five star reviews of the Vanquis app

Well Mr Christopher Johnson (or the less than BrillentAJ) for one and anyone else who was not be paid to do so. Of course there will be the inevitable glitch and user 260446 failed to read the instructions and gave their “Easy to use” review a one star rating.

Mostly real one star reviews of the Vanquis app.

Although the app (and web site) was broken before the recent update to iOS 16 many users noticed it after updating and so attributed the malfunctioning to the iOS update but there is a wave of frustrated users on Android devices too which suggests the problem is systemic at the Vanquis end rather than on individual devices.

Android reviews of the Vanquis app

But, let us whisper it, the Internet was not designed to do any of this stuff and so you have layers of complexity added to it to give the illusion of usability and security when a peak behind the curtain reveals the whole thing is cobbled together with bits of string and blu-tack and can start to fall apart at any moment. That message from your bank about their online services not being available overnight due to important maintenance should say “we have found yet another hole large enough to drive a bus through and are frantically trying to patch it before anyone notices”.

At least it is not as bad as all the crypto/web 3 nonsense. Even Safe Hands Sunak could not resist joining the imbecilic gold rush.

Call me an ageing cynic but…

When most banking/credit card apps get four or five reviews a day one might raise a querying eyebrow when the Vanquis app gains 40 5 star reviews in one day.

Apparently it is very easy to use. Of course these reviews are definitely not an attempt to bury all the one star reviews from actual users after the developers messed up. 🧐

Excluded by the defaults

While everyone is pushing for their rights as an individual can I stake a claim for those of us who do not have a passport? There seems to be an assumption that everyone has a passport.

The 2011 census recorded nearly nine million people in England who did not have a passport.

One could just ignore the prompt and type in your first name but it is a growing problem that is setting a default which results in people not getting housing or employment because they are unable to tick the boxes and meet some arbitrarily imposed requirement.

Farewell Minecraft

I don’t play games much but I have had a Minecraft account for many years without any problems. After Microsoft took over Minecraft I put off moving to a Microsoft account for as long as possible – fearing the worse. Once the day came and they insisted I moved to the dark side it was as bad as it could possibly be. Anyone else would just move the Minecraft account details but being Microsoft to get from A to B you have to go via C and F having ticked boxes D and E on the way.

Having successfully moved the account I did manage to use it once. But attempting to log in to the new account today for the second time I am greeted by:

To which the obvious solution is to give up, close the account and move on vowing never to touch anything bearing the Microsoft name again. But this is Microsoft so even closing the account becomes a labyrinthian chore which is going to take some time.

It is the inability to access the account as usual which is the problem. But this being Microsoft they are able to utilise their full computing power and will get back to you in thirty days. Bizarre.

101 of my favourite recordings – 2

Dododo (Ekassa No. 1) – Sir Victor Uwaifo & His Melody Maestroes

Cover of Ekassa album by Sir Victor Uwaifo.

It is the never changing repeated two notes throughout, which both constrain and liberate the piece, that fascinates and delights. As it builds to a crescendo, as though it might be heading somewhere, there they are again pulling it back. At the start of this sample I faded the other instruments for emphasis…

Victor Uwaifo was born in Benin City, in the Edo State of Nigeria in 1941. He studied graphics at college and, having played guitar since childhood, would sit in with Victor Olaiya‘s band at weekend in the early sixties. He developed a technique of seeing colours in sound and sound in colours. He used this technique to utilise the traditional patterns of Akwete cloth in his music. This Akwete sound was used to create his song Joromi in 1965 which became a hit across east African countries and eventually earned him the first African gold disc.

By 1968 he had outgrown the strict limitations of Akwete so he developed other forms which eventually evolved into Ekassa itself evolving from the traditional Benin Ekassa dance.

By the 1970’s with the growing influence of American soul and Jamaican reggae his music had once again evolved into what came to be marketed as Edo Funk.


Dododo (Ekassa No. 1) – Sir Victor Uwaifo & His Melody Maestroes (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

In the sixties – Victor Olaiya. (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

Joromi – Victor Uwaifo. (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

Sakpaide No. 2 – Victor Uwaifo and his Titibitis. (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

Obviemama – Victor Uwaifo and his Titibitis. (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

101 of my favourite recordings – 1

It occurred to me that, before I die, I should, having spent a large part of my life listening to them, actually document the greatest recordings ever made. This will, of course, be a purely personal subjective listing and, as such, be uncontroversial and yet definitive 😉 I will catalogue them on a separate page but for now….in no particular order:

Hands Off by Jay McShann with Priscilla Bowman.

I think it was John Walters, the producer of John Peel‘s radio programmes, who observed that lyrics were superfluous to a great song; they could be replaced with “rhubarb and custard” and it would still be a great song. Hands Off certainly passes that test.

Vee Jay Record label for Hands Off

With the relentless drums and bass driving ever forward, occasionally punctuated by the horns, and the whole thing topped off with McShann’s piano intertwined with Bowman’s understated vocals and the extended fade out – like finding the ice cream goes right to the bottom of the cornet; it was unsurprisingly a big hit in December 1955 staying at number one on the Billboard R & B charts for three weeks.

Publicity shot of Jay McShann
Jay McShann

Jay McShann was a mostly self taught pianist. His thirteen piece big band in the 1930s had included the teenage Charlie Parker. It was while touring with McShann’s band in the early 1940s that Parker acquired the nickname ‘Yardbird’ from them. By the mid 1940s McShann set up a smaller band as was the trend at the time. In 1949 they had a hit with the band’s vocalist Jimmy Witherspoon‘s recording of Ain’t Nobody’s Business.

Witherspoon was replaced in the early 1950s by Priscilla Bowman. She had come from a church based background (her father was a minister) and, as a teenager, performing in local nightclubs where she adopted the popular styling of Ruth Brown‘s 1951 hit Teardrops from My Eye and the like.

Priscilla Bowman singing with microphone.
Priscilla Bowman

In 1955 McShann’s band were signed to Vee Jay Records where they recorded Hands Off. Unable to replicate the success Bowman was signed to Vee Jay as a solo artist in the late 1950s. Again failing to achieve any great success although in 1958 she was the first to record Brook Benton‘s song A Rockin’ Good Way before Benton and Dinah Washington had a hit with it in 1960.

Although Vee Jay was commercially successful with many hits, even releasing the early recordings by The Beatles in America after Capitol Records had said they were not interested (they would soon change their mind) financial mismanagement meant that they filed for bankruptcy in 1966.

Preston Foster was ‘inspired’ by Hands Off to write Got My Mo-Jo Working which was recorded by Ann Cole in 1956. The following year Muddy Waters would adapt the song for his own version.

Elvis Presley would perform both Got My Mo-Jo Working/Hands Off mashed together.

Recordings mentioned: (links to: Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube)

Jay McShann with Priscilla Bowman – Hands Off (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

Jay McShann with Charlie Parker (Apple Music,  Spotify, YouTube)

Jimmy Witherspoon – Ain’t Nobody’s Business (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

Ruth Brown – Teardrops From My Eyes (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

Priscilla Bowman – A rocking Good Way (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

Brook Benton and Dinah Washington – A Rocking Good Way (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

Ann Cole – Got My Mo-Jo Working (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

Muddy Waters – Got My Mo-Jo Working (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)

Elvis Presley – Got My MoJo Working/Hands Off (Apple MusicSpotify, YouTube)


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