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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bad men...

Saw this: The BAD MAN's coming home! http://flpbd.it/dMYu... and thought of this http://badmansjournal.blogspot.com. All very confusing.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Monday, January 24, 2011

Local Man of Mystery

There's a bunch of stuff going on that I'd like to share with you but I'm afraid I won't. It's been niggling at me since last week and it's starting to annoy me. What's more is that I've now found out that very sadly I wont be able to write about it for at least another week and even then it could be longer.

If it was some sort of super secret I wouldn't mind but it isn't. This is a self imposed vow of silence that I have to conform to or I'll say something I really shouldn't. As I'm sure you can tell, this is not a position I like to find myself in. Interestingly I have written about it at length, but it will for now remain for ever in draft, until such time as I feel it deserves the light of day.

Apologies for being so cryptic however this in part explains some of my recent silence on the blogging front. I'm trying to set all that to one side and focus on normality though and that dear reader is how we find ourselves here.

In other news: some colleagues from a previous role are having a get together tomorrow. I really wish I could be with them for loads of reasons, not least that it's been far too long since I've seen any of them. Unfortunately current work commitments mean I won't be with them this time, but they are trying to make it an annual event so I will be doing all in my power to be there next year. In the mean time I'm raising a glass of red to them over this evenings dinner (curry, if you wondering). All best and good luck and good health all round.

I've always loved January. Just because it's my birthday month and that serves to brighten up what would ordinarily be a depressing month. So close to Christmas most people have no money left, are over weight from the merry making and generally feel depressed with cold weather and long dark nights. This year, I'm right with them. I was hoping for an International feel to the year, but so far, its been a really fudgy start to 2011. I'm hoping it all improves for all our sakes.

Ho hum. Glad to have you back. More coming very soon. Take care. G.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pale Kid Rapper

Just while I'm busy fuming.... here's something for you to enjoy.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Free Office Apps are lush...

Still loving this software...   cross platform, Excel, Word & Powerpoint equivalents... but best of all.... FREE!!!!

Thanks Lotus



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Desks & Movies

I can't tell you why, but my level of blogging so far this year has been terrible.  I could have a guess at why mind you...  things like the new role, while not keeping busy to begin with have been occupying my mind. Daughter's broken wrist has also added an extra layer of "helping out" that I have to get involved with. Not that I mind - far from it, but it is just one more little task that takes up unvaluable blogging time. (yes - unvaluable)

People say you shouldn't bother blogging unless you've got something worthwhile to say.  Poppycock.  If that were really the case would Dr Johnson ever have completed the dictionary ? or would Samuel Pepys have written his now famous diaries?? I think not. So I couldn't really give a fig if it's interesting, far more important to me is that it's here at all.  It is, when all is said and done, my vent, my pressure valve, the place where I can jot down whatever happens to be passing for a thought through the cluster of nurons I have come to know as my brain.

With that in mind, here's my next little project that's helping me achieve three things at once. 1) More focused work environment. 2) Better ergonomics. 3) Weight-loss as is appropriate for this time of year.  This is all coming from reading this article on Lifehacker. For those of you that don't read Lifehacker - you really should. It's full of interesting stuff and you'll wonder how you missed it.

So a desk you stand up at helps you burn more calories - I'm all for this.  Here's what I'm working with today:

So the challenge is how to raise it up by about 12" safely.  I happen to know a bloke who's a bit handy in the woodworking department and he's come up with two possible options.  Number 1. Feet that are commercially available from the likes of B&Q. A quick trip will tell me if that fits or not. Number 2, is build some custom supports from oak or with an oak vaneer to match the desk.  

What I'm after is something that's temporary enough so as not to damage the desk should I ever what to switch it back to normal desk mode, but then permanent enough to be strong and stable and a bit of a faff to disassemble so that I stick to the regime while in raised desk mode. Needless to say that for the time being, the hunt continues...

Onwards now then and "Two out of three ain't bad" (as the song goes) but in this context it refers to the number of movies I managed to watch from the list of three I mentioned previously. I had tried to do all three, but sleep was calling my name like a game of hide and seek.. "Coming - ready or not"

The upshot of this is that I'll share my thoughts on both "The Other Guys" and "Scott Pilgrim vs The World" with you as briefly as I'm able.... hmm, so apologies in advance if this is lengthy. Stick with it. It's worth it.... Honest.

The Other Guys

Will Ferrell. He's a funny one and I don't necessarily mean funny haha. I can't decide if I like him or not. He's made a couple of really great movies and a couple of real spanners as well, so he's sort of balancing in the middle there somewhere. Sometimes his humour is fantastically observed and very witty. He sparks off of John C. Reilly in "Stepbrothers" and "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" both of which are must see American comedy, and his comedy drama skills look good in both "Stranger Than Fiction", "Elf" and (perhaps more comedy than drama) "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy". And then there's the "also ran's" in the shape of "Blades of Glory" & "Semi-Pro" neither of which cut the proverbial mustard.

Strangely, even though in this list there are clearly five good verses two bad, I still seem to have a mental image of him being generally bad - so I must be doing him a dis-service. Which brings us to "The Other Guys". It's trying to be a buddy/cop/comedy movie - and sort of is - but not in the "Beverly Hills Cop" sense or even the "Lethal Weapon" sense. It is perhaps slightly more mature "Stepbrothers" in the police force, only without John C. Reilly and instead with the excellent all-rounder, Mark Wahlberg. In the end I found it was Wahlberg who kept me watching just to see what he'd do next. Will, while still very funny and consistent, continued to deliver the "Will Ferrell comedy actor" role. Overall 7/10

Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Now here's a movie with a pedigree. This has all the pointers to be awesome. If you loved "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz" then SPvTW should be right up your street. I say that, but of course, it rather depends on what you loved about the other two movies. For example, if it was Simon Pegg's or Nick Frost's acting that kept you glued then you might be onto a loser. However, if it's the writing and the witty script that got you - and if you are of the 80's/90's video game generation, and if you enjoy a comic book look of a movie .... (see "Tank Girl", "Hulk" (2003 not "The Incredible Hulk" from 2008), "The Mask" (1994), "V for Vendetta" (2006) and the list just goes on and on and on...).  If you can manage to tick those boxes, Scott Pilgrim (or "The 7 exes film", as I recently heard it referred to) will make your day.

I surprised myself by really enjoying it. Very nicely put together, for which we must thank the writer/director Mr Edgar Wright (he of Shaun and Fuzz fame). Some excellent effects keep the comic-strip genre alive and I now have a tiny crush on Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Ramona Flowers) about 15 years too late. Overall 8.5/10

I do have huge concerns about Miss Winstead's next project though - which is a rework of "The Thing". For those of you unfamiliar, "The Thing from Another World" was made in 1951 and based on John W. Campbell's short story "Who Goes There?". It's a great story and a good movie for the 50's. However, when John Carpenter got hold of it and made "The Thing" in 1982 he took it to a whole other level. 

For my money - it's done and is perfect. It doesn't need a remake. The studios are chasing old money again after some slight success with remakes such as "Nightmare on Elmstreet" and "Halloween". As much as I can't wait to see Miss Winstead, I just hope they don't balls-up the movie.

So that's it for today. I will be watching "The Girl who played with fire" and "The Hole" and probably "Salt" in the not too distant future. Hopefully the gap between writings won't be as long this time. Take care.

 



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I miss NYC

In truth, it's been a while since we've been to the states, but I know we'll go again. What that means when I see things like this though, is that I remember how much I miss the place. Must go again soon.

NYC - Mindrelic Timelapse from Mindrelic on Vimeo.

PS: Blogging will return to normal this week.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Another year

That's me. 21 again. Disturbing really.  When you're a kid you never think about getting older. You just think you're going to be this old, this way forever.

But you're not. Things change.  In fact, the only constant thing in the universe is the inalienable fact that things change. Always a bit unsettling really, because generally speaking we don't like change.  We find our little corner and we get comfortable and that's where we like to be.. that's how we like to be.  And then - as is the way of the universe - something comes along and changes it and we're not comfortable anymore.

Birthdays change you every year. I distinctly remember  when I was 21, thinking "Wow it's not old at all really is it?  It's another 9 years until I'm 30, I'm only just over half way to being that." and when I was 30 I was thinking "Another 10 years until I'm 40 - that's forever away. I'm still very young" and if truth be told, I am still very young.  In fact in the grand scheme of things even if I were a thousand years old, I'd still be very young. In both theoretical mathematics and reality I am 21 again. ie: 42.

I've been trying to figure out how I went from being in my mid thirties to my mid (well early) forties. I blinked when I was 35 I think, and when I opened my eyes I was 40.  I mean, it's not like it should be unexpected, I've known for a long time that I'm getting older, but that, more than the fact that I am actually older is the most terrifying aspect of ageing. It's not the actual ageing, it's the speed at which it happens.  

Still - I'll put on a brave face. Keep on singing and dancing, propping up my end of the tent, heaving the mill wheel and leaving them begging for more - etc etc....  So on the subject of aging, here's a few gems of knowledge that are worth imparting.

My father told me: "You're only as old as the woman you feel"
"I have a gym in my house. The thing is, though, I’m only trying to live longer so I can eat more cheese and drink more wine."
- Ricky Gervais, certified genius.
"It was one of those British faces that, once seen, are never remembered"
- Oscar Wilde
"My hair's got a life of it's own. Last week, I found it in the Kitchen making itself an omelette"
- Paul Merton
Evelyn Waugh famously once said: "All this fuss about sleeping together. For physical pleasure I'd sooner go to the dentist any day." Well, in my part of Wales, it's now easier to find someone to sleep with than it is to find a dentist.
- Patrick Hannan
"Yes, I do wear spectacles, but only for reading and seeing things."
- Ronnie Barker
"Middle age is that time in life when childeren and parents cause equal amounts of worry"
- Romy Halliwell

And on that bombshell.....(which incidentally is another phase I've learned to loathe - thank you Mr Clarkson).  Sorry I haven't written for a day or so, but I've been busy getting old and trying to understand what's expected in my new role. The first part of that is easy, because we all just get old by travelling forward in time. The second part is a whole other bundle of confusion brought about mostly by the fact that I'm new to it even though I've done similar things before. All I can do, is what I can do, and try not to let anyone down in the process.

Curry for tea - yum yum yum. This evening I will attempt to watch either "Scott Pilgrim vs The World" (The film about the 7 girlfriends), "The Other Guys" (A comedy buddy cop movie) or "The Girl who played with Fire" (Part 2 of the Millenium trilogy of which I have high hopes). Will let you know tomorrow how that went and what I thought.

In the meantime - I'm looking forward to being 21 again....  which I reckon will be in 2032, change dependant.

 



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Friday, January 07, 2011

It's getting cloudy..

Well that's almost week one of 2011 done. So far so good.  Of course as far as the Starfleet stuff is concerned it's very early days and I find myself reading and reading and reading and just for kicks doing a bit more reading.  There's no denying I'm very well read.  Luckily that suits me just fine. A gentle run into it is far better for my well being than dropping from a great height.

It also gives me the opportunity to keep up to date with some of the more interesting tech news. For instance yesterday saw the launch of the Mac App Store. If you're not a Mac user, feel free to look away now. Having said that, you should really be saving up your pennies to become a Mac user. Let me just evangalise for a moment, oh and before I get going, there is no personal benefit to me should you be buying Apple, Microsoft or any other manufacturers product for that matter. I'm not actually trying to sell anything here.

<sales pitch/lecture mode ON>
Let's be very very clear. I'm NOT a fan boy, although I have become a fan. IMHO for home use, there's nothing better than OSX for the time being.

...And no I'm not biased either - I was an MS man through and through from way back when MS-DOS arrived all the way up through Windows 2, 3.1, Windows for Workgroups, Windows 95, 98, 98SE, NT, NT3.51, NT4.0, 2000, and XP.. Finally when Vista landed I'd had enough. Constant patching, blue screening, hanging, locking and replacing drivers was all just getting too much like hard work.. I'm even a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (lapsed now) but the point is I really do know what I'm talking about.

I was a Unix/Linux system admin from the early 1990's and I still turn my hand to some of it from time to time. But it's always when someone has a problem with it and it needs fixing.  Why does it need fixing!??

I hear good stories about Windows 7 and I like nix/nux platforms, but I converted almost two years ago, and I'm not going back.

Where I'm at things just work. They might have dropped that from the advertising, but it's still very much the truth. So, I've told you what I know, what you choose to do with that information is your choice. 
<sales pitch/lecture mode OFF> 

Now where was I?  Oh yes. The App Store.

So what is it? Well, if you're familiar with an iPhone or an iPod touch or an iPad then the App Store on those devices is exactly the same thing except for being on your Macbook or iMac. What's more, once you've bought an application once, you can re-install on any system that uses your iTunes ID. Not only that, but the products are of much lower cost than if you went out and bought them on CD. Furthermore, once you have them, they're updated automagically (or at least when you tell them to check for updates).

This change to the way that software is bought and managed isn't exactly new. Microsoft have been doing something similar with their "Windows Update" service for quite some time, but the runaway success of the app store in the mobile world is likely to be repeated on your desktop or laptop for shear convenience if nothing else.

It seems to me that we're heading towards a world in which what we buy as consumers (music, video, software, books etc etc) is stored online for us to access when we need it. In other words, good old CLOUD again. 

In the old days this was the mainframe model. Nothing was local other than a screen and keyboard (the terminal) and everything was off in a data center somewhere. PC's changed all that and everyone started having "Fat Clients", where everything you wanted was on your desk. This is a nightmare to manage though and while there are some fairly successful methods for doing so, the technology has in recent years been leading us full circle and back to "Thin Clients"

It's not exactly the same model of course, more of a hybrid, but CLOUD has definetly been the buzzword of the last two years with the likes of Google trying to lead the way. I think with the launch of the App Store that Apple are attempting to get to a similar destination via a slightly different route and I fully expect to see some sort of Audio streaming coming from them in the near future and probably followed up with video. The apple TV is already their thin client of choice for the living room after all.

The issue is the same issue it's always been though. Connectivity. While the Internet is pervasive, that is only in the more well connected parts of the planet. We keep coming up with ingenious ways to provide connectivity, but so far it doesn't have the reach of air or sunlight for example. Hell, we can't even get fresh water everywhere, so acess to the internet should be the least of our worries. 

It's a strange world that we live in when you see highly connected sheds in the outer reaches of Africa yet your phone signal will routinely drop in the center of any of the metropoli (is that the plural of metropolis?) that you care to think of. It maybe getting cloudy, but it's not overcast yet.

Dilbert.com



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Regrets

View it at plixi



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Tax is Taxing (More austerity measures & geekery)

Even if the government try their damndest to tell us otherwise, they are, quite frankly, wrong!.  Tax is Taxing, in fact, it's a right royal pain in the harris!  

It appears to the man on the Clapham omnibus, the man on the number 10 bus, the layman, Joe & Joanna Public or whoever you wish to generalise the tax paying nation of britain as, that the key problem with Tax paying/collection is it's complexity.  If you want everyone to pay a bill, make it simple and they'll pay it. Make it complicated and they might pay it, but you might not be able to tell if they did or they didn't without spending a huge amount of time (and time is money) trying to figure out what they actually did.

Of course, historically, there may well be a very good reason for the Tax system being so insanely complicated that it's becoming unmanageable. After all, I have no doubt there have been plenty of high earning ministers who are happy to hang on to their income rather than contribute to the public coffers and interestingly it's not illegal to avoid paying tax, its only illegal not to pay tax should you be supposed to do so. Not much of a loophole there then!

I hate the system because of it's complexity, but right now, I love the system because of it's complexity. It's become apparent that the government have done something wrong with the way they've been allocating Tax codes over the past 2 years. I've had a look at my previous payslips and P60's and guess what?...   Sure enough I've had a different tax code every year for the past three years which is interesting when you consider that my job hasn't changed and neither has my salary during that period.

Something is amiss.

As a result, I've spent some time trawling through the HM Revenue & Customs documentation here and having run some numbers through the Tax calculator here, it seems I'm owed some money back. WooHoo!!!  A call the to the revenue man and if all is well, a cheque will be in the post. I've calculated a saving of around £400.  If I can keep up this level of income I could give up the day job.... oh... hang on... that's not quite how it works is it?

Before I rush off looking for interesting and inventive ways to spend this new found wealth, I think we're long overdue a bit of the old geek talk that is really what I started all this blogging for in the first place. So there's two particular items I'd like to draw your attention to.

Quora and Kindle. I know, it sounds like I'm talking some foreign language and there's a whole other post waiting to be written about product naming conventions, but for the time being I can assure you that I'm still using english...mostly.

I'm sure an awful lot of you will have heard of a Kindle by now. It's the "e-reader" that Amazon.com sell. If you're still lost, think of an iPod for books and if you still haven't got it, it's like a book that's connected to the Internet so that you can change the contents of it into any book that's available. 

Mrs Ball senior had her birthday in November and Mrs G and I got her a Kindle which hopefully she's now downloading books onto and reading them like a good 'un. I've installed the Kindle software on the iPad too, and in fact, it's won me over. Better than iBooks (keep trying Apple) just because of it's synchronisation facilities. I can read a few pages on my phone while I'm sat on the bus, and then when I get home I can pick up my iPad and open the same book at the exact spot I'd reached while I was on the bus, thanks to the "whispersync" technology that they've deployed.  It also means if I sat in front of my Mac (or PC for those that still haven't figured out that old problem) I can do exactly the same. It's clever stuff.

This leads me onto another quick VAT wheeze.... books. I love em, what with them being VAT free and full of interesting things to read and all. So I'm not happy that for some insane reason, digital editions of books have VAT applied to them... I mean "How the Flaming Fudge did that happen!!??".  However, there is a wealth of old books that are available for free on the kindle (other devices are available and are very good too). Keep your eyes peeled for the classics if you're that way inclined.

One feature of the actual kindle as opposed to the software versions that can be downloaded onto all the other hardware platforms, is the text to speech facility. On a real kindle, it's an awesome addition making the need to purchase audio books (for those to lazy to read, or wishing to look cool on the tube with headphones and not a book) irrelevant. Sadly this functionality doesn't work on the other devices as yet, but I'm sure it'll come eventually. Overall, my opinion of Kindle-ing (I'm not sure that's a real word, but it's 'coming to a dictionary near you' soon no doubt) is "Highly Recommended", especially with this: The Hanging Shed, which was a joyous little read and the first of many that I'll be reading via this technology.

Now, to Quora which is an online knowledge market. (It's a what-now? -Ed).

The word itself is another "non-word" (see Google or Yahoo) which has been canibalised from words such as "Quorum" (the number of members of a group or organization required to be present to transact business legally, usually a majority or a particularly chosen group), "Quor" - (of which) and probably a dash of "Enquire" - (to seek information by questioning). What it is, is a website for you to ask questions: http://www.quora.com/

It's a sort of cross between "Twitter" and "Yahoo Answers" and to be honest, the best way for you to understand it, is to go and use it. It's organised into groups and people, and if you know the answer to a question posted there, then feel free to share the answer. This is, after all how we move the wealth of human knowledge forward.  

Having said that, if you answer questions that you don't know the answer too, it's also how we can move the wealth of human knowledge backwards as well. Case in point: http://funnyyahooanswers.net/ - Nuff Said.

And there it is for today. Onwards and upwards into more starfleetedness. I can only hope that reports like this prove to be true for all of us. I'm not holding my breath.

Take care and chin up.

 

 



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Group B Monsters - The Days of Madness

A beautifully put together 7 minutes, with gorgeous soundtrack to match. 1980's Group B Rally driving at it's best.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Golfyball's Austerity measures start here....

After my VAT ramblings and ravings yesterday, I very carelessly forgot to put my orange box back in the pile of oddments in the garage. So this morning finds me tripping over the damn thing, climbing on board and spouting on again.

Here I am carrying on where I left off.

....and another thing.... If austerity measures are good enough for the government, then they're good enough for me!! I mean they should be concentrating on the tax evaders rather than penalising the tax payers, but two can play at that game. It's now become my mission to re-examine every single expenditure I have and to reduce it where possible to see what can be saved without reducing my quality of living. This might be fun, and who knows we might both learn something.

My largest outgoing is a mortgage. Right now I can't do much about this. It's fixed rate and the redemption fee makes remortgaging prohibitive. It is actually my one biggest bug bear with the entire financial crisis. Interest rates are at an all time low and I'm saddled with almost 6%. On the plus side, I've only got another 6 months until the fixed period ends so you can expect interest rates to climb significantly by then. It's just my luck.

Next item I'm going to tackle is the TV package. I'm a Sky World HD subscriber. Not so many moons ago this used to cost about 40 quid a month. Now with HD and our new friend "Mr 20% VA feckin T" thats climbed to in excess of £60 per month. It's got to go. Obviously freeview is an option and is in fact what we have in the rest of the house (only having sky in the living room) but after much deliberation and research the answer for me is Freesat+ HD.

The outlay in cost is going to be around £300, for a Humax Foxsat HD PVR but the saving is my Sky subscription fee every month. So 5 months will see it pay for itself, which means the real question is what's the impact on the service itself? Over the last couple of months I've been paying close attention to what we watch which has helped me gauge what we need and it turns out that the impact to our viewing habits is almost nil, and in one case is actually improved.

Sky have over 30 HD channels and god knows how many other SD channels, but we regularly still only watch the major 5. Occasionally we dip into the sport, or movies, but generally speaking the Sky offerings themselves are pretty much neglected.

The beauty of the Freesat solution is what is can do that Sky can't or simply will not. Sky are very possessive about content, even when it's not theirs. With the Freesat box you can plug in external USB storage and copy recordings off the box for manipulation via a whole host of video editing applications. Furthermore, freesat now supports the BBC iPlayer, a beautiful piece of software that allows you to go back and watch any of the last 7 days BBC TV content on-demand, as well as a few other choice bits off BBC output. In the near future it will also have the ITV Player and 4OD which are essentially the same service but for both ITV and Channel 4.

These services use the same front end interface for integration, but their content is delivered via your local broadband connection via a LAN connection on the back of the box. Yet more goodness awaits just around the corner with the launch of yet more HD channels beyond BBC One HD and ITV1 HD. The only downside I can see is the loss of 4HD which often has very watchable content and Sky News HD for when I want a more "News of the World" take on whatever is going on out there.

Of course, there is a little known (because Sky don't really want you to know about it) offering from BskyB which enables you to watch all the "free-to-air" channels available on the platform. You need to have a free sky viewing card, which costs a mere £25. Sounds ideal doesn't it? But there's a catch. If you want to be able to record anything, you need a Sky+ subscription and that's a tenner a month. Equally, you can't move any of these recordings anywhere else. Seems stupid.

Put simply switching to FreeSat HD+ is a bit of a no-brainer and why I haven't done it sooner is beyond me.

So that's going to save me £720 per year and I've been making active noises about Amazon vouchers for birthday presents to help me fund the initial outlay for the box. Looking for a win-win situation here.

So what's next to get the chop ??.... ah... my Tax Burden.... Tune in tomorrow. :-)

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

When one fifth is too much...


Happy New Year... right that's that. I won't be mentioning it again now. It's all done with. Other than to say I trust you all enjoyed yours with merriment and all that that implies.

Now it's back to reality with a serious bump. Be warned, I've dug an old orange box out of the back of the garage, and I'm about to turn it upside down and hop on top for a bit of a rant....

Over the last 12 months fuel costs in the UK have gone up by around 15 pence per litre. On January the 1st we had a fuel duty increase of 0.76 pence and todays VAT rise means a further 3 pence per litre. This brings the average price for a litre of fuel to around £1.26 (approximately £70 for a full tank). What's worrying is that we don't seem to care and I suspect this has a lot to do with the lack of understanding by Joe & Joanna Public as to how this figure is arrived at.

The cost of petrol (& Diesel, there's not much difference anymore), the actual product, is more like 40p per litre, so whats the other 85p ? The retailer makes around 5p per litre and the remaining 80p Is straight in the governments pocket. That's just over 20p in VAT and around 60p in duty.
The duty alone is more than the actual product!!!??!

In 1995 the government had 39.4p out of the 54p per litre (73%). By 2000 this had risen to 58.6p of the 76.2p (77%).

Now I'm reading rumors of further price increases being hidden under the cover of the VAT increase by unscrupulous traders who just seem intent on making a miserable situation even worse by being greedy b@5****s.

The BBC reported this gem today:
The VAT rise may spur a broader increase in the price of goods, according to a survey of 200 senior managers by accountancy group KPMG. 

It has claimed that many retailers are planning to use the tax rise to "mask" more extensive price increases. 

It said 60% of retailers and consumer product manufacturers planned to increase their prices over and above the VAT rise.

As a nation, consumerism via retail fuels our economy. Without it nothing will work quite properly. Or at least that is what we are taught to believe and I'm quite sure that on many levels it's true. However, our all new shiny hybrid government seem hell bent on some pretty major social experimentation in the name of saving money. As a result, we're going to have a phenomenal year or total meltdown. I'm not sure I can call it either way just yet.

I reckon the best advice I can suggest would be to keep your eyes peeled and count your pennies. The high street have been backed into a corner and it looks like they're going to turn nasty.

It could be a fight to the death and as consumers, we'll only take so much before it all just becomes too much.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous
 

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