Grumpy old man or simple observation?

This is an article that was published in its entirety in the ‘Get Reading’ newspaper in January 2013. We put in on Facebook and, rather unexpectedly, it went viral, peaking at 30,000 views in just a week or so. It was a bit of fun, so we thought we’d repost it here.

I feel I must write in response to your silver surfer article in the Get Reading publication on January 4th entitled ‘why does everything cost so much in the town centre?’

I actually write from two perspectives, as a slightly grumpy ‘old’ man (less of the ‘old’ please, I’m in my early forties) but also as a business owner of a premises ….. read whole thing

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)

I originally wrote this article way back in November 2017, just before the big retail bull market and before XRP really started getting the attention it now has. Some of the imagery and analogies used no longer quite hold true as a result, although my sentiment remains steadfast. I have decided not to edit and update it, instead leaving it as it was so that is becomes funnier as time passes as the crypto market changes ….!

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 need to talk about Printing

One thing I DON’T miss about Quantum now that the cafes are all sold is dealing with customer issues over printing. Although it’s the same in every public printing outlet, it was just a constant hassle. Here’s a light hearted blog I wrote in 2017 lamenting the problem.

Ah. Printing. The most necessary of internet cafe services and, perhaps surprisingly, the most contentious! You see, dear reader, this is not about quality of prints (which we always ensure are top notch), or the availability of printing services (we have several printers and even some hot swaps on standby in case of total failure!), this is about the most dangerous issue of all – we’re not in control!

At first glance that makes sense, right? I mean who wants to ask permission to print and have someone nose through what you’re printing on your screen? Much easier to create a process whereby customers can print what they want, when they want AND can see it before it goes to print, thereby checking numbers of pages, removing anything they don’t want to pay for, and making sure it only goes to the printer they select, ie colour or black or white. It’s a great system, it works perfectly and infallibly at a technical level. And yet, it has created more customer service issues than every other issue we have ever faced put together! How, I hear you ask, is this possible?

Continue reading “We need to talk about Printing”

21st Century Tech at 20th Century Prices?

Another blog originally posted on the now defunct blog site making a case for keeping the prices in the cafe as they were – unchanged for an impressive 17 years!

We had a complaint the other day.

We don’t get them very often, so they do stand out when they come along. This one was about our prices. Apparently, they’re too high.

Of course, we’ve never competed on the ‘pile it high and sell it cheap’ approach that almost every internet cafe did back in the day and instead focused on good quality and secure equipment, customer service and a nice environment. It’s much harder to manage, much more expensive to run and you need to maintain a good team at all times to make it work (also very tough), but in my view it’s worth it. It always has been. Continue reading “21st Century Tech at 20th Century Prices?”

So, why Retro Gaming?

It’s a fair question, and one that comes up from time to time. Why, at Quantum Web Cafe, the UK’s longest running internet cafe and games zone, do we mainly provide retro gaming on the PCs?

Well, first, we’d better clarify our own generalization. There are actually modern games installed on the PCs as well, but these are mostly on-line role playing or strategy games such as World of Warcraft, League of Legends, Hearthstone, Diablo III, Star Wars The Old Republic and so on. And many games, such as Dota 2, Counterstrike GO, Team Fortress 2 and so on are regardless as current classics, still played by millions and also installed ready to go on the PCs in the gameszone. Day of Defeat Source, the Half Life variations, Left for Dead 1 and 2 aren’t arguably old enough yet to be called truly retro, but it won’t be long!

Continue reading “So, why Retro Gaming?”

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.”

Zen and the art of job applications

It’s not often we recruit at Quantum Web Cafe, but it does seem we are recruiting for aaaagggeeesss sometimes. We do take our time, that’s for sure. And for good reason. First, most people struggle to follow the application process and rule themselves out at the first hurdle, and second, well, to be frank, we’re a bit fussy about who we let loose on our customers.

We’ve been around now for twenty years and, at our peak, with several high street locations, we had 23 employees. If you do the maths, we’ve hired over two hundred people over those two decades. Continue reading “Zen and the art of job applications”

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”