back to article HSBC pinpoints branches with sub-atomic accuracy

Those of you who are sticklers for accuracy will doubtless applaud banking monolith HSBC and its splendid "Find your nearest branch" service. To find out exactly how far you'll have to walk to avail yourself of an HSBC tentacle, just point your browser here, stick in your postcode and hit the "More info" button under one of …


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  1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    But does it update the information every time a gnat sneezes?

    People have a right to know!!!

    1. LarsG

      NOW YOU KNOW....

      what they spend your bank charges on.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let's hope it's more secure than their previous branch finder with its unpatched SQL injection exploits - and yes, I pointed that out to them and they did nothing about it. I suppose I should be grateful they didn't arrest me.

  3. Tom Wood



    1. Tom7


      As a retired naval officer, I abhor this appalling lack of standards in today's press, and so does my wife. The linguini has served us perfectly well as a unit of length for...

      Well, actually, that's another problem. The Register's system of units leaves time as a derived unit, being linguini per percentage of the maximum speed of a sheep in a vacuum, with one linguini per percentage of the maximum speed of a sheep in a vacuum equal to roughly 4.66 microseconds.

      As discoverer of this flaw, I christen this unit of time the Cowell, being the same time it takes the fearless reality TV judge to reduce an aspiring starlet to tears.

      So, as I was saying, the linguini has served us perfectly well as a unit of length for at least 700 gigaCowells now, and if time-honoured traditions cannot be maintained then what is the world coming to, I ask you?

      And another thing. The Register's online standards converter rounds all values to four decimal places. Not only does this make any attempt to convert 0.10956224649966496 miles into linguine so imprecise as to be meaningless, but is guilty of the school-boy error of spurious accuracy - quoting more digits of a calculation than are justified. The correct way of handling this situation, by quoting a fixed number of significant figures, as any fule kno, has been understood for over 600 teraCowells and yet The so-Called Register continues to spread such lunacy, not only making the error but in fact proclaiming it in the notes to the calculation. What is happening to society when a bank is the guardian of accuracy? Oh, the humanity!


      Admiral D H Lawrence (ret'd)

      In a white-wine sauce with shallots and champignons, a fried egg on top and spam.

    2. Grendel


      might be a better measure ;-)

  4. Valerion

    Not alone

    A customer of ours recently insisted on GPS co-ordinates being given to them down to 12 decimal places.

    1. John Robson Silver badge


      Just give it to them in YottoKiloMetres

    2. Robert E A Harvey

      There's a very old joke about the engineer watching the labourer lay paving slabs.

      The labourer gets annoyed and asks the engineer what his game is, and in the ensuing conversation the engineer explains that he develops machines that will measure down to the nearest micrometre.

      "That'll be no good to me", says Paddy, "The council expect me to be spot on!"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Learning to be a joiner yonks ago, one of the lads came up with "We're not engineers, we don't work to tolerances, we're cock on"

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. rurwin

          My father reported that when he was apprenticed to my grandfather, as a carpenter and joiner, he once gave a measurement accurate to 1/32nd of an inch. Grandfather looked him up and down and asked whether that was a long 1/16th or a short 1/16th.

  5. hplasm

    Impressive- that they know exact locations for their branches;

    But scary- that they know the exact location of their customers...

  6. Big_Boomer Silver badge


    You are so lucky to be only 46 anteaters from your HSBC branch.

    My nearest one is over 420 lemming leaps away.

  7. Whitter


    Femtometers? Surely there must be some El-Reg unit of subatomic measurement better designed for commentard use? For example, A "MurdochToss" (the distance you can throw Rupert Murdoch and still trust him, otherwise known as the plank length).

  8. Pete the not so great

    What a bunch of Plancks


  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    0.10956224649966498 miles = 1.76323344 × 10^17 femtometres

  10. Rob 68
    Black Helicopters

    where to

    Just wondering if they're measuring to the door or inside?

  11. Victor Ludorum

    That's all very well, but...

    What if I need to know the distance in micro-linguine?

    Beer => Friday...

  12. DaveLeeTravis

    Quite frankly I'm outraged that you think I might not have had a pint (or 2) at lunchtime!

  13. Nessalc

    1e-17 miles =

    16.09344 femtometers

    114.95314 femtolinguine

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about the beard-seconds?

    That is the length of a physicist beard growth in 1 second. I will calculate it, later. I remember it being in the scale of Angstroms.

  15. Graham Lee

    Accuracy != precision

    Their numbers are certainly very _precise_, but probably not as _accurate_ as El Reg claims. Particularly as they don't actually know where I am with sufficient accuracy, even if they did know the location of their branches to the nearest gnat's quark.

    Mine's the anorak.

  16. Roger Kynaston Silver badge

    The humourless sods

    They've fixed it afaict. At least it only goes to whole miles in FF. Unless the website is subject to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle regarding dodgy code fixes.

    Beer O'Clock approaches.

    1. auburnman

      Nah, it's still there. Did you click on 'More info'?

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. Mike Richards Silver badge


    According to Heisenberg's Law of Banking Practice if you you know HSBC's position with such accuracy it means that you can never know how much they're ripping you off.

  19. Chad H.

    What does this mean for the Wales

    Just how many atoms is in a Metric Wales these days?

  20. Feldspa

    17 i only get 15

    I only get 15 decimal places...

  21. VeganVegan

    With that kind of position accuracy,

    Your momentum must be awfully imprecise.

    Any chance that this can be applied to the LOHAN project?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's nice.

    Maybe now they can install a counter at my local branch. They cheerfully the chap in front of me that the nearest branch with a counter is Inverness which is 100 miles away.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if their calculation actually factors the post office ability to assign postcodes, that could throw its precision out by a few mile.

    1. Just Thinking

      Our catchment area school used to use postcode distance to decide who to let in when they were oversubscribed. We couldn't get in because we were supposedly 1m further away than someone else.

      I pointed out that this was pretty stupid and random seeing as we shared our postcode with 5 other houses, and our postcode-to-the-nearest-metre was located in the middle of someone's garden three doors down.

      They wouldn't have it, they used the old "those are the rules it doesn't matter that they don't make sense" argument.

      Fortunately the appeal committee sided with us.

  24. Cosmin Roman

    Google says it's 1.76323344 × 10^17 femtometers indeed, but that is truncated.

    The true answer (if my computations are to be trusted *false modesty*) is

    1 763 233 440 307 568 375 731.2 femtometers.

    Now, about that pint ...?

    1. Cosmin Roman

      to quote candidate Perry: oops ...

      ... put the decimal dot in the wrong place. *red face*

  25. Tadley Lad

    They don't want visitors to my local branch...

    HSBC give a postcode of RG26 6LG for the Tadley branch, but this gives a location over 2 miles from the actual branch.

    Royal Mail has the postcode RG26 3LG for the branch, which when fed into Google Maps gives the correct location for the branch!

  26. Jemma

    well, they need to be exact for new customers....

    In the hope they'll replace all the customers who've told HSBC to ram it up their collective behinds over their Internet Banking - aka the utter utter cock up.

    On the upside, when the 'world bank' goes bankrupt - we know exactly where to go to point and laugh.

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Utter cock-up? It's better than the showers of shite RBS and Natwest foist on people.

  27. This post has been deleted by its author

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