Author: Mark

Oh Tesla….. Why The Cybertruck Left Me Feeling Grubby.

Oh Tesla….. Why The Cybertruck Left Me Feeling Grubby.

I wrote about Tesla a couple of times in November 2021, once taking the piss because they were sending out incomplete cars due to the chip shortage and the other stating that I think that battery electric vehicles (BEV) aren’t the way forward, but hydrogen is.

Today I got to spend a little time in London with the new Cybertruck, and I’m glad I did. I’d watched the unveiling a few years back and despite the glitches in the presentation, I was sold. I thought “Wow, that is beautiful!”. I’ve seen it being pumped on social media and it has a cult following. I sort of got swept along with it, and was interested enough to take a day out and drive up to London to have a look (I also got to drive the new Model 3 Highland). I’m glad I did. Since I’ve got home, I’ve reflected on the day and the experience, and this is what I think;

On walking into the room, the first thing that strikes is that it is bloody huge – far too big for UK roads. There’s no way I would want to drive something that’s larger than the huge Ford pickups over here, even with rear wheel steer. I could immediately see this is likely to be the biggest issue.

In terms of safety, I would imagine that if you were to collide with another vehicle, they are the one that is going to have the problem, it’s like a tank. Knocking the front of it with my fist made me realise how solid it was, where the bonnet meets the wing and the front plate there’s a corner where the three panels meet and it is a bloody sharp angle with no give at all. Even at slow speeds, it would pop a pedestrians skull like a melon. It made me shudder.

It has three motors, so has race car performance. This thing moves, really moves. It’ll leave virtually every performance car standing.

The load space on the rear is far too small to be of any real use, so it leads one to wonder who would want it. I think I have a fair idea already; Celebrities, ‘Names’, the well heeled and so on. It has no real practical use, so will be used in much the same way that Range Rovers etc are; for looking the part, flaunting money/image, the school run, and ensuring the occupants safety and to hell with everyone else.

There’s not a lot more to say other than:

It’s an impractical vehicle, that is far too big, far too fast, and unsafe for all other road users. What could possibly go wrong? Doesn’t take much working out, does it?

The only positive is that in its current form, I think that it would unlikely get approval for use on UK roads.

If I saw someone driving one over here, I would seriously pity them, their life must be deficient in some way and I’m sure that’s not the reaction that they were hoping to achieve.

Cybertruck Front View
Cybertruck Rear View
Cybertruck Side View
Evernote Price Increase (Again).

Evernote Price Increase (Again).

I’ve been using Evernote for years, it’s been a great way to collate reference material, open loops etc in one place. It was this site;

https://thesecretweapon.org that started me off. It gives you tips on how to organise a file structure within Evernote to track everything in life. It’s particularly good for project or knowledge workers.

Many long term users of Evernote will remember the old version which they replaced with the browser based thing they’re currently offering. They allowed users to continue to use the old version which they named ‘Legacy’ making it available for download. I’ve been running this (Legacy) for a few years now, and changed PC’s a month or two ago, and couldn’t find anywhere to download it and have since had to install and tolerate the new version. It’s painful.

It’s slow, it’s clunky, keyboard navigation is painful, and it doesn’t seem to integrate as well with Outlook. Sometimes adding an email from Outlook into a note is extremely slow. The sync is way off pace, I could go on. I am no longer a fan, but put up with it because I have been using the folder structure detailed in the Secret Weapon for years, it’s ingrained.

I just received an email from Evernote about my renewal, warning of another price increase. It used to be £44.99 a year and at last renewal they increased it to £54.99 which I stomached.

This year they have increased it to £79.99 which is a £25.00 increase. That’s about 45%!

The first few paragraphs of the email read as follows;

We’re writing to let you know about an upcoming change to your Evernote Personal subscription.

Also, we’re excited to bring you an update on some of Evernote’s latest features and improvements. Each one is designed to help you enhance your productivity. The team has been working hard to bring them to you—more on this below.

First, the new pricing. The price of your Annual subscription will change to 79.99 GBP per Year. The new price will take effect on your next renewal, 12/20/2023. New pricing came into effect as of May 1, 2023 for new subscribers.

By introducing new pricing, we know there’s a risk of disappointing valued Evernote customers like you. The change helps us continue improving the performance and reliability of the product we all love, as well as adding exciting new features. Rest assured that you won’t be paying more for just the same product—we think you’re going to enjoy and get great value out of the latest features and improvements.

The improvements that they detail really don’t justify the cost, so I thought they can get stuffed. One of my colleagues sent me this back in July;

“Evernote increasing from £44.99 to £79.99! (It was £29.99 a few years ago.) I’ve cancelled, they can get fucked.”

In percentage terms, that is a massive increase. When you consider that you can get an Office 365 subscription giving you access to Word, Outlook, OneNote etc for the same price as Evernote are now asking, it looks very expensive.

My new approach to being ripped off is to not interact, but to simply vote with my feet, so I started the cancellation process to downgrade to a free account. I won’t lose any data, but will not be able to sync as much. I’ll be able to root through what I want and put it into OneNote.

The cancellation process was geared to keeping you on their subscription model, the final insult was to offer me a 40% discount if I stayed with them. Not happening. They should have simply applied a small annual increase, rather than ripping the backside out of it….

They asked for my reasons, I gave them this;

A 45% increase is excessive for a slow and clunky piece of software. I wish I could still use Legacy, but I couldn’t find it anywhere to install on my new PC.
So, I’ve been stuck with crippled software in the name of progress and now you want to charge me the same amount for this as I would be charged for Microsoft 365 5 user licence?
You’re so funny. Bye.

I felt better for it. I hold the chequebook. No software is indispensable.

Penny Mordaunt at the Conservative Party Conference

Penny Mordaunt at the Conservative Party Conference

Wow, what a speech Penny! Absolutely crazy and vacuous and not short on irony, one of my particular favourite lines is;

“Stand up and fight, because when you stand up and fight, the person next to you stands up and fights!”

Is she talking about in the queue for the foodbank because you cannot afford your spiralling energy and mortgage bills?
The queue to see a GP because you cannot get through on the phone?
The queue for accident and emergency that is short-staffed?
The queue to get registered with an NHS dentist?

The mind boggles, but I think it’s safe to say that she’s pretty detached from the reality experienced by the majority of the British electorate.

NatWest Raking In Billions In Profit…..

NatWest Raking In Billions In Profit…..

The older ones amongst you will remember the government bailing out NatWest Group (formerly RBS) using taxpayers money back in 2008 to the tune of £46 billion. Yup, more than the government spanked on the COVID Test and Trace contract with Serco a couple of years ago. At least with NatWest we have something on the government balance sheet to show for it, in the Serco debacle, most of the money appears to have found its way into the pockets of people linked with The Conservative Party.

Well, in the 6 months to June, NatWest posted a profit of just under £3.6 billion. Not bad for half year, no?

What I don’t understand is that our government still owns a touch over 38% of the group and is selling off chunks of it, bringing its holding down from 84% at the very start. NatWest is currently valued at £25 billion, so the government’s (when I say ‘the governments’ I really mean ‘we are’; it’s our money) in a position of negative equity. Why keep flogging it off on the cheap and not just keep the 38% share of profits to reduce the income tax burden on us?

And another thing, why doesn’t the government use its clout in NatWest to start paying the savers some decent rates? The company is incredibly quick to put up its mortgage rates, but drags its heels to put savings rates up.

I completely despair with this lot currently in power and I hold out little hope that the next lot will be even close to fit for purpose either. One thing’s for certain, whichever of the two parties are in power, neither have the voting public interest at heart, with Labour only being slightly the lesser of the two evils.

Hens Now Laying Again

Hens Now Laying Again

My hens stopped laying eggs completely in late October of last year, which was extremely odd, but I attributed it to the change in the weather and the shorter days. Then, in the first week of the New Year, they started to lay again, initially only a couple a day, and within a couple of weeks, they are each laying one a day as per usual.

I didn’t really give the matter much attention, I was mildly irritated to say the least as I have kept hens before and never known them to stop laying completely in the UK in the winter months, but I just thought it was one of those things.

I stumbled across some posts on social media within the last week regarding people with the same experience, unusually their hens had completely stopped producing eggs around the same time as mine. I had a bit of read, thought it a bit of a coincidence and again didn’t give the matter much attention.

It’s just popped up at me again just now on Twitter, and now there is more information; people are attributing the lack of eggs to the feed given to the hens. There are people in the US and Europe saying this. Reflecting upon this new insight, I realised I got new feed for my chickens around the same time that they started laying again at the end of December/start of January. Prior to this, I had noticed that they didn’t seem to want to eat the layers pellets I’d been feeding them, instead gorging themselves on the mixed corn.

So, as crazy as it may sound, there are people around the world whose hens stopped laying at pretty much the same time as mine, and everyone is saying this is unprecedented, and upon changing the feed, they started laying again. Some have been giving them goat feed and everything goes back to normal.

For the record, the last batch of feed that my hens were consuming when they went off lay was a sack of Dodson & Horrell Layers Pellets and a Mixed Corn. My normal retailer had no stock of either at the end of December/start of January, so I went to a local pet store and got a Dodson & Horrell Mixed Corn and a Heygates Country Layers Pellets.

I’d say that if this were just my experience, then it wouldn’t be that unusual, but considering that this seems to be an issue spread across the world, it’s more than a little concerning. Especially considering the egg shortages and pricing here and in the US, and the negative press eggs are getting for health reasons.

Maybe a little concerning is understating the situation.

Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister

Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister

Mr Sunak was yesterday named as the UK’s latest Prime Minister, for how long is anyones guess.

The thing I cannot work out is why a man who is purported to be worth in the region of £730 million wants a job that pays £164,080 per year. One that is pretty thankless, one that means you will always upset sections of the population, in some cases these sections will run into the millions of people. Baffles me.

In other news, Mr Sunak is an advocate of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) and has gone on the record regarding this.

His father in law is founder and former CEO of Infosys, a company with strong links to China that is a World Economic Forum (WEF) partner, and is involved with Digital ID’s and Social Credit systems.

The Mortgage Problem

The Mortgage Problem

I’m really surprised that this isn’t getting far more political coverage considering the number of people it affects.

The cost of mortgages.

We’ve another two Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meetings before the end of the year, both of which will likely result in significant interest rate increases to counter inflation. This will mean the monthly mortgage payment for people on standard variable rate mortgages, or those coming out of an existing deal and securing a new one, will be considerably higher.

Repossessions are going to increase, without a doubt, but what I can’t understand is why this isn’t getting more political focus……. It’s an issue that is going to affect millions.

I’ve already said before that once these homes are taken back by the banks, they are likely to stay in corporate ownership and rented back to people.

The future certainly isn’t bright….

ULEZ Contradiction

ULEZ Contradiction

I have friends that work a fair bit in London and have to pay the ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) charge, it currently sits at £12.50 a day. The reason for the charge is stated as follows;

“Toxic air pollution is the biggest environmental risk to Londoners’ health, and traffic emissions are the biggest source of toxic air in London.

Toxic air pollution increases your risk of heart and lung disease, worsens chronic illnesses such as asthma, and puts children’s health at risk. It’s not just a central London problem. Many areas across the city are exceeding the legal limits for pollution.

How the ULEZ helps air pollution

The aim of the expanded ULEZ is to help reduce harmful nitrogen dioxide by around 30% across London.

Many of those who travel in the expanded ULEZ have already taken action to clean up their vehicles and help clean up London’s air. More than 80% of vehicles are now compliant, which is up from 39% in February 2017 when plans for the larger area were first announced.”

This sounds like a great idea, and definitely seems to be bringing some benefit, and a shit ton of money in for Transport for London (TFL).

What I don’t understand is that many of the boroughs that my friends work in have onerous parking restrictions. In some, the maximum stay is four hours, and in others only two hours. At the end of the period, you are not allowed to renew the parking in the same bay, therefore you have to physically move the vehicle to another bay and pay again. Often there are no bays nearby and this means driving around in circles to find another space before parking up, paying and starting the cycle again.

Am I missing something? Doesn’t this mean that a load more carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides are being unnecessarily emitted? Surely it would make more sense to allow a straight eight hours parking in the same bay, this would mean that people working at addresses within the ULEZ would be able to concentrate on doing their job rather than shifting their vehicles and creating a load more pollution? Also, the additional benefit would be that the customers would end up paying less because the trades would not be clock watching for their parking and spending a chunk of time every couple of hours driving around the block.

Don’t Pay UK Being Kerbed by Government

Don’t Pay UK Being Kerbed by Government

As per usual, I’ve been meaning to post this for a fair while, but August has been a very busy month.

There’s a movement called Don’t Pay UK that are calling for a reduction in energy bills to an affordable level in anticipation of the price cap increase next month. They are trying to get 1mn people together to pledge not to pay their bills by the 1st October 2022. As of today’s date, they are up to 187,000 members.

This movement has been gaining ground over the last few months, and towards the end of July 2022, the government announced £400 of support from October payable in six monthly payments. How you get the money, depends upon how you pay your bill. Yeah, the operative word is pay. If you were to cancel your direct debit, you don’t get the help.

The £400 is a drop in the ocean when you consider the energy cap increase of £1600/year for the average family.

You can tell that the government is getting panicked by introducing this measure. The population is getting increasingly belligerent of late, and they (Government) are having to make lots of changes to keep everyone in line. I would imagine their biggest fear is that everyone starts pulling together and turn on them.

More evidence that they really don’t have our interests at heart, all they are doing is controlling by doing the bare minimum in order to keep everyone in line.

And The Consumer Rip Off Gathers Pace

And The Consumer Rip Off Gathers Pace

Inflation is increasing, meaning that month on month, prices for everyday goods and services that we need to live are increasing. Many people are finding that the wage that they receive is buying them less goods and services, and that each month they have less money left over, if any. But why are prices increasing? What’s happening?

Here are couple of ideas;

The energy sectors profits have escalated due to their pricing, the first company that springs to mind is BP. Between April and June of this year, they made nearly £7bn of profit. That is their second highest profit on record. Pretty much, all of the other energy companies are doing the same. And they’re sending a lot of these billions of profit to their shareholders. In a nutshell, the price that you pay for petrol and diesel, gas and electricity are linked to companies like BP. That’s why your fuel, gas and electricity are getting so expensive.

An interesting statistic is that according to experts at the UCL (University College London) and LSE (London School of Economics), over the last 50 years, the oil and gas industry globally has delivered £2.3bn a day in pure profit. It was put that the industry could have the power to “buy every politician, every system”. It may give an idea as to why we are where we are financially, and environmentally.

The thing that is particularly sickening about BP is the fact that it used to be owned by the UK Government, but was sold off in 1979 for £7.25bn. Imagine how all of that profit since could have been retained by the UK Government and used to reduce the tax burden on us all. Or even reduce our energy bills. It was sold for a song.

The energy sector profits are so obscene, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres referred to them as ‘immoral’ and stated that they were ‘being made on the back of the poorest people and communities and at a massive cost to the climate’.

That’s one big chunk of the inflation problem.

In UK, the majority of households use a supermarket for their day to day groceries. The big supermarkets have been doing particularly well, take the ubiquitous Tesco, for example. To the year end of February 26th 2022, their pre-tax profits trebled from £636m to £2.03bn. Every little helps, right? Well, a lot helps them. A lot. Another chunk of the inflation problem.

Still on the supermarkets, this time petrol prices. Last week, the RAC said said at the start of the week, the average petrol price at the big four supermarkets, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, was £1.74 per litre. Diesel was £1.86. Meanwhile the average for the delivered wholesale petrol price last week was £1.24, while diesel was £1.38.

After factoring in VAT, fuel duty and a “generous” retailer margin of 10p per litre, the RAC said “forecourts should soon be selling unleaded for no more than £1.62”. A couple of weeks later, here we are, it’s still not happening.

There’s a recurring theme here, prices are up, profits are up by record levels for the big companies. In fact, there was a brilliant segment on the Jeremy Vine Show in July where Eddie Dempsey from the RMT (you can watch it here) pointed out that the FTSE 350 top companies profits have gone up by 73% since 2019. To use his phrasing “The people at the top of the economy, they’re having a disco, and everyone else is being told that they’ve got to tighten their belts and carry the can. It’s not on”. Quite.

So, the main drivers of inflation are summarised above.

Back in February 2022, the Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey said he wanted to see “quite clear restraint” in wage demands from employees to prevent an inflation spiral. I guess what he was saying was okay, prices are increasing, but hey, just suck it up and put up. In the meantime, UK households are taking an enormous financial hit, probably the biggest for almost four decades.

As I’ve blogged before, Andrew Bailey earns £570,000.

Any wage increase you’re going to receive is unlikely to make a difference to the inflation figures, only to your ability to be able to afford to live, or even exist.

Britain is broken.

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