Saturday, 27 September 2014

Tech Pricing - The UK Getting A Bad Deal - International Shipping & UK Import

With the news today that Samsung is not going to be selling laptops in Europe, I wondered about how in the future we here in the UK would be able to get our grubby mitts on their Chromebook offering, and other hardware.

Whilst trawling the interwebs, I became more and more infuriated, now this is a matter I've seen before, but I've largely ignored it.  But with the purse strings needing tightening here at home I've had to think carefully about hardware changes and upgrades, but this problem I'm going to put forward just pisses me right off...

International Pricing... Specifically with technology kit, I was watching a review from Linus Tech Tips, and he was telling how this kit he had costs less than $1000 US... That's £612.89 at the time of writing, not a bad price for the overall package he was touting... However, paying for the exact same kit, from supposedly the same suppliers here in the UK came to a wallet busting, mind numbing, pay-packet stealing rip off price of £1014.58, over a thousand pounds, which is $1655.41... A six hundred dollar price hike...

I could pay for the same goods in the US, pay shipping and import and not end up paying as much!

Here's an example, two Amazon pages, both showing the same item (honest it is the same graphics card, just different pictures)..


£330 to $339... It almost seems as if they've taken the dollar price and slapped a pound sign in front of it, this clearly aids them, in this particular case the card comes to £208 if we convert the dollar price to sterling... £208 for the latest graphics card seems a lot better than £330... So where does the additional £110 come from?

Well, I looked at "Value Added Tax" in both the UK and US... I wondered if Amazon UK was having to add more, and it seems not, most "General Sales Taxes" in the US are calculated per state, and start around 23.5%, so that's more than the VAT 20% rate in the UK... So the US is paying a lower price even after tax.


Okay, what about shipping?... Are there significant shipping costs to bring goods into the UK?... Nope, same container ships burning the same fuel... And then once in the UK they are moved around on a single tank of fuel, unlike the US where deliveries are quite literally transcontinental!


So, if the sellers of goods are not paying more to deliver, and we in the UK are not paying more in TAX where does this £110 hike come from?...

It plainly seems to be because of greed, I can't fathom out a single other reason for the difference, all the goods I've looked at are made in the far east, it's just as far to sail them across the Pacific or around to Britain... It's less distance from any port to Amazon warehouses in the UK because we're such a small island, even if we look at Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Mann they all stack up to be less distance than some of the Amazon Warehouses from Manhattan!

All in all, it makes my blood boil... 

So, what if I just bought the goods from the US?.. Well, apparently here in the UK I'd then have to pay Tax again, so I've paid for the goods taxed in the US, then to even bring them into the country I have to pay again?...


This, this just makes no sense, in this modern age of the internet and it is full of holes, I can go onto Steam log into a US server and order then download a game, paying for it once in one place, I can do this with Music, with Films, with Streaming services, with Porn, with News, with almost anything on the screen... But I have to pay tax to import the screen, and pay for the imported delivery service, and pay to then get it off of the customs chaps who poke and prod it?... Mental.

And I think just a way for the exchequer to keep an eye on what I'm doing, and to skim off the top.

So, how much do I pay?... Well, say it's this £208 graphics card... This comes under the "Non-EU Country" and its "All Other Goods", and I have to pay "Customs Duty on goods with a value that exceeds £135" and "import VAT on goods with a value that exceeds £15"

So how much are these two costs?

Well, the HMRC website doesn't want to give you clear straight forward figures, they give calculators for VAT deadlines, link upon link to registering for VAT.... But never do they give a figure...

So you go to the internet to find out, and you're met with searches which ironically relate to overseas imports from overseas countries... For example this: http://www.dutycalculator.com/popular-import-items/import-duty-and-taxes-for-graphics-card/ it has a very nifty calculator, so I stuck the $339 price in, selected $50 shipping and $20 insurance, so this is a total of $409, which is still only £250, so we're still making a saving on our price even importing the item...

The calculation site gives us zero duty, and 20% VAT, to be added, this brings the price to £300... Still a £30 saving.

It's a lot of faffing about, but it's a possible saving... My question now is, who wants to try this out?

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Story Time - The Stand Up

This story could also be called "Little Red Riding Hood on the Sofa, in the Mr Men ear rings".

In a previous post I talked about my worst ever date, well another time I got stood up... Yep, it happens to us all... The difference here is that in most cases we've been stood up and don't get the booty...

.......

However... In this case, I'd already had the booty... Let me explain...

A week before the fable stand up, it was a mutual friend's 21st Birthday, and he had a party... So we got together, and it was fancy dress... Now I'm not big on the fancy dress, I have no costumes, and I had been working 6am to 9pm most days, as a consequence my Fancy Dress is my Karate Gi and belt.

Off we run to this party, and there's this girl, she's come as Red Riding Hood... Oh yeah, now I drove everyone around and when we got out my car she gives me this big hug... Okay it was cold, but not that cold... And she's all over me, she's pretty, dark hair, dark eyes... Nice looking.

I'll be honest, I'm single, I'm enjoying the attention, after the time at this (strange) disco we head back to my friend's house and we're all friendly, this girl is still all over me...

It's getting late, we're talking 2am gone, and everyone is falling about passed out or sleeping, anyway, she's next to me on this sofa, cuddled up to me, and suddenly she's hands all over me, she's trying to get my junk out my trunk; I cope a feel, I get busy on there and soon things are going on on this sofa, with people passed out all around us... I don't know whether to take her to my car or what, but... come morning she kisses me and makes her way home.

I'm all smiles, and leave with her number handed over...

I give her a call, and arrange to meet her later the next weekend.  And I call again mid-week just to you know keep in touch...

Saturday rolls around, I'm all pressed and dressed, I pull up at the arranged place, and I wait... And I wait... And I wait...

I figure, she's a girl, she was in fancy dress last time we met... Lets give her an hour... So I give her an hour...

Now this is before mobile phones, this is before the internet is a big thing, so to get hold of her I have to go find a street telephone box.

I call, her house mate answers, she comes on the phone... dead quiet... and I just quietly say... "You're not coming to meet me are you?"...

"No"... She squeeks.

"Right, okay, no problems babe"... I'm friendly, I just want to check before we slam the door on this, she was nice... "I'm guessing you want me to loose this number and never call again?"...

"Yes"  She's a little angry...

"Right, well that's a shame, but okay, good bye"...

As I hang up I kind of hear half an ounce of confusion, which I can't be sure of, but to this day I'd like to think meant "hang on, this guy is kind of reasonable"... But what ever, shut down, home I go.

I get home, watch some TV, think nothing of it and get a hold of some other friends and arrange to go out to meet them the following week, one of them being the guy who had the 21st party... So I'm at least going to tell him about the escapades.

Next weekend, I head out meet these friends and immediately get a strange vibe, the guy seems dead smug, and the lass we're with is all giggling at me... I ask what the matter is...

"We know you got stood up"

But before I could reply, or tell them about the sofa banging, they both laugh... "We knew she was, she told us, she called us"... And then the guy says... "Besides, YOU can have your shot AFTER I've had mine"...

Now, let me explain this guy is a ginger, with a big lump in the middle of his forehead, he's fat and quite boring... I'm a heavy metal listening, heavy drinking, hard working good bodied black belt in karate... Go figure the chances he had.

But I sit back, all calm, and just look at them, inside I'm laughing, I had my shot, and I scored!... Have my sloppy seconds, I'm thinking...

The guy had, until this moment been my friend, but this day ended that because basically sitting there laughing at me when he knew she'd not come pissed me off... You don't do that to a friend, firstly you don't cock-block, if you want your chance have it, but if you've seen a girl garlanded around your buddies neck like this guy saw her around mine he should know to back off and wait... To sit and laugh is just a bit sick.

Then I just filed the guy away into the pile of douche bags in my minds eye.

Unfortunately about a year later, I had to file the lass who was there that day away into the same file, but for different reasons...

And it annoyed the shit out of me, this guy being all high and mightly... Proper childish... "I want my try with her", "I knew she wasn't coming"...

Dude I already had her, I banged her on YOUR sofa, at YOUR party, where YOU spent more time in the Kitchen than with your guests, and YOU took us to that strange disco... I had her.

I'm also fine with her not wanting to meet up again, but I have the strong susicion that this episode, the first and only time, I've ever been stood up was something of your concotion, that you talked to her and you said something about me behind my back... It's a shame you did that.  Shame on you.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Expert question of the week.... Archaeology

I've just been looking at an article about Roman London, specifically about a Temple found and removed from below the Legal & General building in 1954, which is now going to get placed back for a new development...

One item mentioned in the article is that...

"Roman London is seven meters below current day ground level"...

Why is it archaeology gets covered like this?  Is it dust and dirt?... Floods?... Mud?... Shit?... Plant cover?... I mean, muddy land gets wet you push coins into it, I get that, but whole cities?...

And, since we've concreted and tarmacadam so much ground are we stopping this natural covering???

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

OpenBroadcaster - x264

I spent a bit of time last night messing around with OpenBroadcaster, capturing some of my Simulated Battles in WarThunder...


As you can see I've got my name, the game and what I'm up to added as text legends, I've included the track IR window and the game itself.

It worked, I've captured like an hour of game play, including three air kills (which was good going in the Italian G50 I was flying).

My main challenge is playing about with the settings... So I have an EVGA 770 GTX SC graphics card, so not a slouch... And my CPU is a Core i7 (8 threads) running at 3Ghz (I can over clock it, but its not at present)... and I've got fast cooled DDR3 RAM...

However, the x264 encoder really sucked the life out of my machine, making flight hard, but the video very poor quality.

After that I set about looking at using NVENC, but it came out as this very strange sort of effect where as things moved the screen recording was fuzzy, as the screen stopped changing so much it would spring up into perfect detail, and then slowly degenerate again.. Pulse of detail, then blurr... over and over... so it was strange.

Tonight, I am intending to mess about with my settings some more, and if all else fails I'm going to revert to capturing the game with nVidia Shadow Play and using an editor to overlay text.

Monday, 22 September 2014

I'm Back - Blog Update & Gaming

Hey guys & gals, I'm back... Where have I been?.. Well, I've been decorating.  I've had a week off of the office job to renovate the house a little, I've done the Utility room, painted the living room and the big job was completely renovating the bathroom.  So a new bathroom suite, new tiling, water proofing, removed all the old 1970's crap...

How Do I know it was 1970's crap?... Well, removing the lights I found they were lined with news paper, dated 1979... and then removing a rotting cupboard beneath was carpet, beneath that was old lino, and then beneath that was more news paper dated the 8th December 1971...

So I stripped all that, and got on with things, only one huge cock up, the ceiling... Which is waiting action from a man with the skillz...

Anyway, other than pulling 9 days of 16 hours elbow deep in shit, grout and paint I've played a fair bit of Simulator Battles in WarThunder, I've maxed out a bunch of aircraft with ace status, and I've also unlocked tier 4 in both the American and German tree's... I need to earn them lions to pay for the new aircraft is all.

So, notable simulator battle experience has been... Setting up all my controls - I may create a video about this - I've flown out in the Tier 3 BF109F4 and got real human kills, took out a P39 who was good.... Then flew the Italian G.50 a lot, so unhappy with how underpowered those 12.5mm BREDA machine guns are, yesterday I managed to get on the tail on a British Nimrod MK II... Hit is 12 times... 12 hits!... And it just flew on... GAH!  Then I also flew the P47, getting hits on targets, but no kills... and also flew out in the P38, which is so smooth (with the counter rotating props) compared to other aircraft.

I'd highly recommend new players to Simulator Battles setting about learning to boom & zoom in the P38, because it is fast; but you do not have to worry about rudder swinging on take off or low speed.  The guns all being mounted in the nose let you also at least spot and take out ground targets (the aircraft does get special ammo for ground target work too - so this is legit tactics), to get the feel for the maps and how to fly....

My biggest problem is still low-level stalls, I seem to be able to put the Fw190 into an unrecoverable flat spin just by looking at it, I've recovered (or not) the same spin in the G.50, the Spitfire Mk IIb and even the BF109E3, F4 and G2.... But the 190, once its in that modus operandi.... It is intent on killing you.

That said, early in the week, I did get a kill in the Fw190-A1...

Other things I'm planning, well we're getting the second house ready to rent, so we'll be moving back to the first house, when that happens I'm going to start a regular Simulator evening, playing and even recording/broadcasting what I'm up to.

I've also got two coding projects to go through with you guys, and even an update on the old "Write your own CPU" series.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Elite Dangerous - Still Not Going To Play It

I am not going to play Elite Dangerous... Let me get that said, not because I have to eat humble pie and say it does not look a bad game, and unlike my prior posts David Braben has proven himself to NOT be a snake oil sales man, as he has delivered the game to the masses (least as a test/alpha/beta so far)...

But, that said, watching someone competent play is interesting, prior to seeing the below videos I've only watched some mediocre coverage from Jingles and then the terrible developer example videos from back when they were still looking for online funding...

Ralfidude however, a YouTuber with a plethora of DCS and other flightsim coverage, has taken to the space ways, and he's given us these few videos with his coverage of the game... Looks good.


My problem with the game is not the game, I love Elite, and I understand it there is a single player game involved in this title... However, its the online play which counts and it seems to me there are too many ways for people to grief.... And I did all the griefing I needed in Eve-Online.


I'll admit though, Ralfi's Videos have me tempted... But not for £50... Fuck that price point with their millions upon millions start up capitol already in the bag!

Friday, 12 September 2014

Scotland

I fucking said it, I posted this around here, I text this to BBC Radio Nottingham... And now the fat little corporal has admitted it...

He's just in it to make history, I fucking said so... Fuck Scotlands future, fuck the economy, fuck security, solidarity, industry, commerce and business... Fuck it, he wants his name in history.