Browsed by
Category: personal

Distribution of resources

Distribution of resources

Was thinking this morning about how a lot of the world’s problems are about the irregular distribution of resources. I’m not talking about how wealth is distributed, I’m a capitalist at heart; but rather how the world’s resources are cause of war, famine and all sorts of other ills. It sort of hit me while watching TV and saw an advert trying to raise funds for a charity that helps starving children, while here I am trying to stick to my weight loss program.

Small organisations are pretty good as distribution resources where they are needed, but how do you apply that principle to an entire planet?

ReboundTag – Never lose your bag again

ReboundTag – Never lose your bag again

Throw your bags in the air sign
Creative Commons License photo credit: kagey_b

If you’ve ever had to travel for business, you know all about the risk of luggage going missing on your trip. But you don’t know the real dismay and the sinking feeling in your stomach that comes from realising your bag hasn’t made it. Most of the time, your bag gets found, but sometimes it doesn’t and you can kiss all your belongings goodbye. You may get something back from the insurance, but the sentimental value of some items just cannot be replaced. I’ve had my luggage lost a couple of times so far and it’s always a nightmare dealing with insurances, trying to find receipts of what was in the bag. Better if the bag wasn’t lost at all.

That’s where ReboundTag comes in. I received one of their tags as a sample to try and I must say I love the idea behind their service. They send you a special tag that has a barcode and a human readable number on the side. It also has two types of RFID technology embedded in the tag which airport scanners are designed to read. Once you receive your tag, you sign up to their website and leave your details. All that’s left is to affix the tag to your luggage and wait for the worst.

If you’re unfortunate enough that your bag goes walkies, this time you have a fighting chance. If the bag is recovered, the tag will point the finder to ReboundTag’s “I Found Something” page where they can key in the tag details and send a message to the tag holder (me in this case). It doesn’t guarantee that your bag will be found, but it does help return it to it’s rightful owner. It gives an extra level of comfort. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still keep any jewellery, MP3 players or phones on my person, but at least I know my bulky items are just a bit safer for the tag. Great idea!

Watch out for those thresholds

Watch out for those thresholds

On the subject of paying attention to detail, there’s another thing you must always watch out for, and that’s thresholds. There are a number of systems out there that use graduated costs and knowing where the thresholds lie can help you save a packet. Let’s take house prices in the UK for example. There’s a tax on house purchases called “stamp duty” which is a graduated scale based on the price of the property. Here’s what the scale looks like:

Purchase price/lease premium or transfer value SDLT rate
Up to £175,000 (until 31 December 2009 – see note above) Zero
Over £175,000 to £250,000 1%
Over £250,000 to £500,000 3%
Over £500,000 4%

As you can see there are a number of thesholds there. For example, the difference in stamp duty if you cross the £250,000 threshold is an extra £5000 in tax. That’s a strong reason to try not to cross the threshold, but if you don’t know what you’re buying into. If you can rip out the stainless steel backsplash and all the trimmings to keep the price below the threshold, go ahead and do it.

Soft Skills talk by the BCS

Soft Skills talk by the BCS

I went to a great talk yesterday organised by the BCS here in the Isle of Man focusing on soft skills. It was an interesting couple of sessions, first about understanding personality traits and then a second session about dealing with conflict collaboratively. There are slides from both sessions here:

Handouts from event
Understanding and applying your relationship tendencies
Managing conflicts collaboratively

I find it’s always good to go to sessions like this as they help you consolidate what you know and learn new things. It doesn’t matter to if you’re doing GMAT prep or just a casual session, learning something new can always be valuable.

Where’s my free plastic bag?

Where’s my free plastic bag?

One thing that is starting to annoy me recently is the new policy that some UK retailers are adopted whereby they charge for plastic bags. It’s not that I have a problem paying for the minimal charge for the plastic bag, but the fact that they are using an environmental concern to boost their profits.

The money they charge for the bags might really go towards an environmental cause; but the reality is that they’re passing on one of their costs to the customer. This reduces their cost of servicing a client, and those savings should be passed on to a customer, not retained by the company. If I spend a nice wad of cash buying myself a Patek watch; the last thing I expect is to help the retailer cover their cost by paying for my plastic bag.

And where’s the option for paper bags? Wouldn’t that be more environmentally friendly?

Technology – Past and Future

Technology – Past and Future

Computer Hardware

I was thinking about technology on my way back from work this evening (it’s short enough to walk, but long enough to get a few minutes to myself). I was thinking about the first PC I ever got which was an 8086 (with a Turbo button to boost the speed from 4.77 MHz all the way to 10 MHz), CGA graphics and 2 x 5 1/4 disk drives. Oh, and it also had 640k. Now that’s a far cry from the sort of hardware you can buy today.

Organisational computer has changed too. Back in the day it was all about shared mainframes, punched cards and monolithic computer systems. How the landscape has changed. Even hearing about new technologies, like large scale server provisioning or websites where you can by anything from acorns to snowmobile parts makes you marvel about how we got from there to here.

The question is .. what will the landscape look like in 10 years?