Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Finding an alternative to Starbucks in Edinburgh

After many years, my relationship with Starbucks has faltered. A recent 6% increase in the price of a cappuccino was the last straw. £2.45 was a lot, but £2.60 was a step too far. So I have been trying out other local coffee places. It took a couple of weeks to go through all the options within walking distance of my office, but here is how it went.

Pret-A-Manger £2.25

Very fast service. Accepted my contactless American Express card. Coffee different to Starbucks but of similar quality. Not labelled as Fairtrade so probably isn't.

Greggs £1.80

Very fast service. Did not accept my American Express card, but offered me a cake for 20p extra. Coffee is OK, but not as good as Starbucks. Definitely Fairtrade though.

Costa £2.35

Very fast service, good coffee. Accepted my American Express contactless card. Not clear if Fairtrade.

Social Bite £2.10

Pretty slow service, but the coffee was good. No contactless card option and coffee not Fairtrade as far as I could tell.

I am not sure which one is the best option. The best compromise is probably Costa.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Is on it's way out?

With the recent news that blogs hosted, on a paying basis, at will be able to use plugins I think we may be about to see the demise of

If you look at the recent history of the Blogger platform it seems that it is gradually being abandoned by Google. There have been few updates to it recently, the mobile app was withdrawn and the amount of spam comments getting through the filters is increasing. Blogger is now so far behind the curve it is hard to see how it fits into Google's current strategy.

The key to this for Google will be how much ad revenue pages produce vs the cost of running the service. It may be that policing a free blogging service is just too much hassle.

There are a few possible scenarios for the future of Blogger:

  1. The service gets a major overhaul to bring it into line with what is doing in terms of functionality and usability.
  2. The creation of new blogs gets suspended while old ones continue to be viewable or usable for a while. There will then be an announcement of closure and a campaign to retain all of the content.
  3. Things just continue as they are, but I can't see that happening while so few people are actually using Blogger as a proper blogging platform. Serious bloggers switched to Wordpress a long time ago and Blogger seems full of spammy sites.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Comparative historical prices of Amateur Radio equipment

I quite often hear radio hams complaining about the "rip off" prices charged for amateur radio equipment, but if you look at the historical prices for transceivers then they have never been cheaper. I got my amateur radio licence in 1982. Here is how some prices from around that period compare to todays prices. The comparisons were calculated using the Bank of England inflation calculator.

HF Transceiver

In 1982 the cheapest HF transceiver was the Yaesu FT77 at £459. In today's money this is £1486. Today the Yaesu FT450D is Yaesu's cheapest radio of similar size and costs only £589 - less than half the price.

2m Handheld

In 1981 the Icom IC2E was £159 or £559 in today's money. Today the Yaesu FT-25E is £80 - less than a fifth of the price.

CB Radios

In 1984 I was working in Dixons and we still sold CB radios. The Harrier CB was £49 (£144 in today's money) and the CBX £79 (£233 in today's money). Today a basic CB radio like the Midland-M Mini is £60 - less than half the price.

In 1980 SSB CB radios sold for around £150 (£590 in today's money). Today a Superstar 3900, with very similar features, is £170 - around a third of the 1980 price.

Other consumer electronics

For comparison the cheapest VHS video recorder you could buy in 1984 was £349, or £1029 in today's money. A Sony Betamax machine would have set you back £660, or a massive £2043 in today's money.

The evidence shows that radio prices are cheaper now than they were back in the early eighties which is probably why people change equipment more often.