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March, 2024:

IDstation and London Drugs passport photos

IDstation logo.

IDstation logo

I have had passport photos taken at London Drugs for years, but no more.

Turns out they are an agent of IDstation, to whom I was referred by the passport agency of one of the countries of which I am a citizen, who are advanced enough (unlike Canada) to take passport applications online. Great! So off I go to the nearest London Drugs to get my picture taken.

After waiting in line for a while I was finally served. I stated my reason for being there and confirmed that they used the IDstation service/system. They did, and then there was a lot of faffing around while they — three of them! — consulted the passport-photo requirements for my country … because, you know, they’re all so different! (According to the blurb at digitalphotosystems.nl, “Photomatic software is being used on many systems all over the world for passport photos …. Photomatic software automatically processes any image into a perfect passport photo. … The passport photo is checked on all official requirements for passport photos, as specified by the ICAO …. The ICAO check is a very important part of the Photomatic software because it will make sure the passport photo will not be rejected when used in offical [sic] applications for a passport, driving license of Visa. [sic]”) They eventually determined that the passport authorities for a number of countries (including mine) had recently been rejecting their passport photos, so they only agreed to taking my picture if I agreed to waive their guarantee, about which you can read on their website. (No surprise there, considering how bad the photo was!) Being the idiot I am, and with no other reasonable choice given my time constraints that day, I agreed. I mean, how hard can it be to fuck up a passport photo?! The people who had their photos rejected probably did something wrong that I won’t do.

London Drugs passport photo receipt.

London Drugs passport photo receipt

But since they were refusing to give me their guarantee (see scan of London Drugs receipt, across the top of which is handwritten, “Xxxx passport online Not gaurenteed [sic]”), and since they were presumably more adept at taking photos for Canadian passports, I decided to get photos for my Canadian passport taken as well, since it also expires in the near future. Looking back at the two pictures now, they’re like night and day! The Canadian passport photos would almost certainly have been accepted by the other country, but said country doesn’t accept scanned pictures, only the original JPEGs.

Anyway, when I submitted the JPEG to the other country’s passport office they rejected it because the “camera was too close”. With the benefit of hindsight I can now see that, as the requirement on their website is, “The photo must capture your image from head to mid torso.” (The Canadian one does.) The photo that London Drugs took barely took in my neck! If someone who takes passport photos all day can’t detect that error immediately they should be fired!

On the IDstation website they have a “File a complaint” option. I suppose they must get a lot of complaints! The problem is that the free-text field where you are supposed to describe your complaint severely limits how much text you can type (I can assure you that this blog post is far longer than my complaint!), but it doesn’t tell you how many characters you are allowed to submit. So this was what I ended up submitting:

My passport picture was rejected by the Xxxx government because they claimed the camera was too close.

I have more information, but your system says my “description is too long”, so you’ll have to reply by email to get the full description.

How do I have the $25.46 I wasted returned? Hmm, I paid using my credit card, so I suppose charging it back is one option.

They replied thusly:

From: IDstation Online <idstationmail@digitalphotosystems.nl>
Subject: You have a new response to the Complaint number 12906
Date: Wed, 06 Mar 2024 21:28:27 +0000 (UTC)

Request number 12906

Dear customer,

You have a new response to your request from IDstation.Online. The response is as below:

I Suggest going back in store with the rejection letter. London Drugs will retake the photo and work with you on the issue.
Please do not reply to this email, it may not be tracked efficiently. To add any comments/response to your query, please click on the link below:

The above link will be valid for 72 hrs.

Navigate to FAQs (Sendgrid tracking link removed)

(I love the “Please do not reply to this email, it may not be tracked efficiently.” A complete load of bullshit. Either it will be received [and likely ignored] or it won’t be! Don’t give me this “may” crap.)

So I copied and pasted the link (because it was not a clickable link, as opposed to the tracked “Navigate to FAQs” link in their signature) but their system informed me, “An error occurred while processing your request.” I tried twice, both within about 24 hours. So I filed a new complaint as follows:

I received a response yesterday, but the response link provided failed. So I’m back here with your ridiculously short length limit. This is not going well for you in the public-relations department.

In that vein, I have decided not to bother returning to London Drugs to fight for my money. I will just focus my efforts on publicly discrediting both IDstation and London Drugs.

That’s all the space I have to explain my position! So long! See you in the court of public opinion!

That was 476 characters. My original attempt at this message was rejected as too long again because I had included the text of the error message (48 characters) their website gave me, so it seems their limit must be about 500 characters. Not sure how much useful information you can communicate in fewer than 500 characters, unless you’re just calling for “Help!” (4 characters, not including the exclamation point).

Ironically, in the Third World country where I’ll be travelling to, every bureaucrat wants a passport-style picture of you to attach to paperwork (the locals carry them around with their wads of cash), so I’ll use the four hard copies of my “digital” photo when I’m asked for one.

London Drugs logo.

London Drugs logo

Lesson learned: Take a list of the photo requirements and carefully inspect the photo against those requirements before you accept the photo. Don’t trust a gaggle of poorly trained amateurs/idiots to have a clue about what they are doing.

Nice music

Here are a couple of videos of Mitchell Cullen, who does a great job of playing two of my favourite instruments: the twelve-string guitar and the didgeridoo.


Some random musings, mostly about morons apparently

Some bonehead named trump

I’ve had a note for several weeks to address the moronic comment some idiot named donald trump made about NATO members who don’t spend 2% of their GDP on defence spending. He seems to think that NATO members can simply be evicted from the alliance like delinquent tenants in one of his run-down tenement buildings. One of those countries is Canada. I’m not defending Canada’s apparent lack of spending on defence, especially in this day and age of increased Russian aggression, but here’s the thing, don: If Russia attacks and takes over Canada — we’re the country that is largely between you and Russia — as you have explicitly encouraged them to do, your problems on your southern border would look like a walk in the park compared to the problems you will have on your northern border!

Fucking moron.


I know, I’m the last to note this, but Twitter feeds used to feature regularly in the search results for various things I look up online on a daily basis. But since that no-name idiot — Musk I think he calls himself — took it over, said results are less and less useful. For starters, you only get the one tweet, and Twitter refuses to display any replies. Given how often in the past I’ve spent way more time on reading replies that I should have, in some ways this is a good thing. But I’m sure my buddy Elon wasn’t worried about how much time Craig is wasting on Twitter. I don’t know what Musk is worried about, but maybe it’s his bandwidth bill. Or maybe he’s actually doing what he seemed to be setting out to do, which is kill Twitter. I wish I had so much money that I could literally piss $44 billion down the drain.

I also note now that when you try to load a Twitter feed you are often/usually forced to log in. You can no longer simply go to a Twitter feed (e.g., twitter.com/ninernet) and peruse the posts. If you can, the posts are all in random order rather than chronologically. Yeah, that’s exactly how you generate interest in your service, by restricting people from even viewing it and confusing them!

Dilbert / Scott Adams

Speaking of Twitter and rich people who can piss away their wealth, Dilbert came back up on my radar recently. I used to read Dilbert daily, but one day it disappeared. Turns out it was unceremoniously dumped by its distributor after the author, Scott Adams, made what some people described as racist comments. Whatever. Now he continues his comic but you have to pay him US$7 a month for the privilege of reading it, or you can follow him on Twitter for US$3 a month. (I note that I can load his Twitter feed without being forced to log in! I don’t know why or how Twitter differentiates between one feed and another in that regard.)

But on his Twitter feed I note that he’s re-Tweeting Tucker Carlson and videos of teenagers fighting. Seriously? Teenagers fighting?! If that’s what this idiot considers to be “entertainment”, no thanks. I’ll pocket my hard-earned cash and not support some idiot who supports trump and considers teenagers beating each other up as entertainment.

Charities and their begging calls

I’ve just blocked the fourth number I’ve added to a list of Red Cross numbers that call us constantly. Why do they call us? Because we give them money every month! So we give them hundreds of dollars a year but they still want more! And they’re willing to call us many times a month/year for that purpose, and continue calling even though their calls don’t go through. I don’t get it. Maybe I should answer the next call and get them to cancel our monthly donation.

Android 12

I think I’ve made reference to Android 12 a couple of times on here. Actually, once. But goddammit, the idiots who made it are stupid. I know, I’m probably the only person in the world who plugs their phone in at night when they’re in bed, next to their bed (there are reasons), and I’m the only person in the world who crawls into bed with an already sleeping partner; so forgive me for thinking that I’m so special that developers should think of me. I’ve gone to great lengths to try and turn off just about every stupid, unnecessary bleep and bloop that my fucking phone makes, and yet, occasionally and for no obvious reason (but not every time!), my phone decides to let me, my sleeping partner and the fucking neighbours know that I’ve plugged in my phone! Hooray! Craig has plugged in his phone successfully! I can’t tell you how much my partner loves being woken up by this news. I have “Charging sounds and vibration” turned off, so I don’t know why Android ignores that directive … but only sometimes!

And while I’m on a rant about Android 12, let me give a special shout out to the 3CX app. For years I’ve had that running on this and previous phones and it never once “broke through” the do-not-disturb setting, but now it does. I don’t know whether or not I should blame Android or 3CX, but my money is on Android; after all, it’s the operating system, and that should control the installed apps, not the other way around. So now I have to remember to shut down that app so that it doesn’t wake me up in the middle of the night, as it did twice in one night a few nights ago!

RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) vaccine worth its weight in gold

In case any of you think that the communist government of Canada pays for all things medical, let me tell you that relatives, pensioners, just plonked down $540 for the two of them to each get the RSV vaccine. Wow! And I’m on the verge of plonking down $350 for the Shingrix shingles vaccine. One thing I can tell you though is that I won’t be getting the Shingrix vaccine at Shoppers Drug Mart. I have not been happy with the fact that they have virtually eliminated staffed check-out cash registers at their stores. I’m not a Luddite (says the guy writing a blog), but society needs to deal with the fact that we still have unemployment to deal with, and you don’t deal with it by bringing in machines to replace humans without a plan. They were also in the news recently for billing the Ontario government for unnecessary medical checks on patients.

In other news in Canada

Turkeys terrorize residents of small Quebec town. Sorry, apparently there was a serious aspect to this, as they were becoming aggressive and that was a danger to children, not to mention adults who don’t like to be scratched by sharp claws. But this video had me cracking up, as well as the woman shooting the video! 🙂

Brian Mulroney

Brian Mulroney died on Thursday, 29 February. As one would expect for a former Prime Minister, this was big news in Canada. It reminded me of the fact that he was the first and last Conservative Prime Minister for whom I voted, in the first election in which I could vote. As many people have said over the last few days, politics have changed since then and the Conservative Party itself has also changed since then. Now they have a leader who used to be known as a pit bull in Stephen Harper’s government, who caters to his “base” of anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers and anti everything! Now you couldn’t make me vote for that party even if you put a gun to my head. Sadly, as Canadian politics go, he will be Prime Minister Pierre Poilievre in 2025. 🙁

Updated, 2024-03-08: Added the fact that Twitter/X posts are now all in random order rather than chronological.