Bitcoin is a terrible currency (but a fabulous store of wealth)

I made a terrible mistake a few years ago.

I was lucky enough to stumble across Bitcoin in it’s (relatively) early days, somewhere around late 2013 after an article I’d found on some obscure financial website. I was hooked immediately and decided to follow the story, dipping in now and again to see what was happening. I decided to buy a few, but even though I am reasonably geeky, I simply couldn’t work out how the early exchanges worked and eventually gave up. It was a very, very expensive mistake. My meagre £500 investment (which is all I was prepared to risk at the time) would now have been worth £46,000. And rising daily.

By the time I actually bought, BTC had already reached £3000 and it cost me far, far more than £500 to get into the game. Like many people, I’d put it off thinking it couldn’t go any higher. But I was very, very wrong. And the more I researched and the more maths I did, the more I realized we haven’t even started yet. But there was another realization. Bitcoin, as a currency, is absolute rubbish.

Continue reading “Bitcoin is a terrible currency (but a fabulous store of wealth)”

Why I love Ripple (XRP)

Cryptocurrencies are ingenious, logical things using exact mathematics and cryptography to make transactions or record data in a way that is free from the failings of humans. Unfortunately, their tokens and coins are traded on the open market by those same failing humans, who are subject to greed, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), ridiculous over excitement, misplaced belief and all the other shortcomings we have to deal with on a day to day basis. And that means a volatile, crazy cryptomarket, with unbelievable price swings and a myriad of supportive and dismissive comments about the future in equal quantities from equal numbers of experts and amateurs alike. It’s noisy out there, and trawling the net looking for answers often leads to more confusion.

Continue reading “Why I love Ripple (XRP)”

We are to Ebay as Lance Armstrong is to cycling

From 2001 up until quite recently, we were the ‘poster boys’ of Ebay. Not only were we Top Rated Sellers providing a premium service with a Powerseller status and the first to be offered new trials and products, but we’d also managed to keep a 100% positive rating for almost the entire 12 years we’d been trading over nearly 10,000 transactions totaling around £200,000. Anyone who’s ever had an Ebay account knows that’s really quite some feat and, I can assure you, it took some serious effort to keep that many people happy!

But the extra mile was worth it. Our feedback was exceptional, with happy customers gushing over the service they got in both feedback form and directly by some incredibly touching emails. Our repeat purchase levels were off the charts as were our customer satisfaction scores.When we rang Ebay for any issues, we were repeatedly commended on our performance, told what a great example we were, and how much Ebay needed sellers like us. Despite the extra work, it was very satisfying and our reputation grew and grew. By July 2016, we’d reached 7381 positive feedback at 100% satisfaction and customers could see we had years of top rated sales behind us. Continue reading “We are to Ebay as Lance Armstrong is to cycling”

Voting out, those pesky kids and following the money.

Well, this is a blog I thought I’d never write! So, after exercising my democratic right to vote in the recent referendum, a right won for me at great cost by my predecessors on this earth, I find my Facebook page full of people directly or indirectly attacking the process, or my own views, providing ceaseless ‘evidence’ as to why it’s a terrible idea and demanding not only a new referendum (presumably so that a ‘proper’ result can be achieved by the Remainers) but also ALL the answers to ‘what happens now’ like I’m sort sort of prophet-cum-expert on all things Brexit. After all, I voted that way, right?

So let’s clear a few things up. Just from my perspective of course, not the whole thing, since that’s way beyond my remit. Let’s start with the referendum itself.

It’s democracy. That’s how it works. You give the people a choice and you’d better be prepared for the outcome. The majority spoke, 52% to 48%. Not a massive margin admittedly (what’s a million and a half people between friends?!) but a winning vote by any standard. And did you know, by the way, that split by MP constituency, 422 out of 650 voted ‘Leave’. That’s just shy of 65% to 35% or, translated into General Election terms, a pretty bloody impressive victory. Put it this way, the current majority Conservative government has 330 seats. Yup, go check it, it’s all true. Continue reading “Voting out, those pesky kids and following the money.”

The shocking case of the Woolworths fiver

Some years ago, I took a routine trip into Guildford town centre to buy a couple of items I needed from our local Woolies. It was for the shop I had in the town at the time – Quarks Internet Cafe – so I had taken cash from the till to be replaced with the receipt and the change as was our usual practice.

It was a couple of small items and the bill was less than £5. I handed over a tenner and received my change which consisted of some coins and an Isle of Man £5 note. Now, only some people know that Isle of Man coins and notes are not generally accepted by retailers and are, technically, not legal tender in the UK. That said, most banks will exchange them for a UK equivalent. So, not a real problem in practice, but the point was I really would have liked my change in a format that the next shop would accept to save me going to a bank or going back to the shop at the other end of town.

Continue reading “The shocking case of the Woolworths fiver”

Review of Secret Cinema: The Empire Strikes Back

So, despite having countless articles, stories and other random pieces sitting the drawer ready to be published, I have, unexpectedly, decided to ignore them all and update the blog with something I did last night. The reason? At the time of writing there are still four weeks of Secret Cinema’s “Empire Strikes Back” event left and, well, if you’re a Star Wars fan you need to go. Actually if you’re not a Star Wars fan you need to go. This is an astonishing event and worth every penny of it’s hefty price tag.

It’s tricky to review in detail because it’s secret by name and secret by nature. The location is not revealed to you until 48 hours before your departure (though it’s no real secret that it’s in London somewhere), no phone or camera are allowed at any time, and all correspondence is in ‘code’. In truth, as much as I want to tell you all the details and gush about it, it’s far, far better if I don’t. Better for you, that is, the surprises should be surprises. I may do an updated blog after the event has finished with all the details if there’s any demand, but we’ll see. Continue reading “Review of Secret Cinema: The Empire Strikes Back”

The old man, the cafe and me.

Simple little tale and completely and utterly true. It happened in Quantum Web Café no more than two weeks ago, a web café I own in Reading. Although fully staffed, I sometimes I work the shop floor myself to keep my hand in. It’s also a great way to get real feedback and really understand any issues that the guys may have raised.

It was a warm sunny morning and I’d not long opened the store. I do like working the shop floor sometimes as I get to meet the customers, the vast majority of whom are fun, respectful, polite or at the very least harmless. The grumpy or difficult ones are actually few and far between, possibly because we’re pretty laid back ourselves. There are many regulars both for internet and just lunches etc, but everyday we also see new customers coming through, which is great.

This particular morning, a very elderly gentleman shuffled into the café. He was probably in his late eighties or early nineties, but well dressed, neatly groomed and clearly still mobile, albeit with the aid of a walking stick. I gave him my usual cheery ‘good morning’ and asked if he needed any help. Continue reading “The old man, the cafe and me.”

E-on, Scammers, and the guy who called back.

Eon Energy love me. They must do. they call me at least once a day. Every single day and have done for at least three years. I always know it’s them because they always start the call in a thick Indian accent and say “Hello, can I speak to Meester Dee-Urn pliz?”

In the early days I used to politely request they take me off their calling list, or make a joke of it, or enquire why they kept calling me. After a few weeks, this had progressed to pretending I was someone else, imitating them on the phone, speaking in various accents from around the world, speaking gibberish, repeating word for word what they were saying until they gave up, pretending to be a burglar who happened to answer the phone, going to get ‘Meester Dee-Urn’ and then leaving the phone on the table for twenty minutes at a time, leading them on and pretending to be really interested and then say ‘just kidding mate’ at the end, or just hanging up if I was busy. All to no avail. Continue reading “E-on, Scammers, and the guy who called back.”

The King and The Magic Well

My daughter, Anya who was nearly five at the time, had been asking me if I would come into her school and tell some stories to her class. Of course, I really wanted to do that for her, but these days it’s not easy with all the regulations that are involved. The whole process took several weeks by the time I had been CRB’d (successfully, I’m happy to report) and her teacher and I had managed to match our schedules. But finally, it was on!

My hour fell in ‘Healthy Week’ and the day before I came in, Anya’s teacher asked if I could read a story about being healthy. Dutifully, I looked round to find a story that would be interesting and entertaining for the kids, where the message wasn’t overly simple and obviously political (these kids, I have learned, are very smart and can see through this easily!) and was, preferably, one they hadn’t heard before. A couple of hours later, I hadn’t managed to find one that fitted all these criteria. I was, very slightly, panicking. I couldn’t possibly turn up unprepared, especially as Anya had been telling everyone for days that her ‘daddy was coming in’. Continue reading “The King and The Magic Well”

Innocence and Dancing Ducks

It’s been some time since I’ve actually contributed to the blog, although there are copious pages of scribbling waiting to be converted into readable text in due course. But today, my little girl inspired me to write a story telling the world what happened to her this typical Tuesday.

Anya loves to dance … all the time

It was 4.45 when the Outlook reminder came up to tell us that Anya’s second MMR jab was due at 5pm. We’d forgotten of course, but luckily the surgery was only a 5 minutes’ drive away, so it was all still possible. As I looked at Clare’s face, I could tell she was not keen on taking her daughter to be stabbed in the arm twice, which is why I had been volunteered for almost all injections to date. It simply upset her too much.

I glanced at Anya who was sitting at the dining room table with grandma colouring in a thickly lined image with a large blue pen, oblivious to the discussion concerning her veins that was going on a few feet away. Realising that we only had minutes to spare and there was going to be no mind changing, I leapt into action. Continue reading “Innocence and Dancing Ducks”