Monday, April 8, 2019

Calculating the benefit of going for a second hand laptop vs a new one living in a low VAT country.

So it is time for a new laptop!  My amazing Sony VPCCB has done so well over the years - I bought it in 2012 and it's still my daily workhorse.

Upgraded it to an SSD and had to service the fan a couple of times it was going good until something happened to the video card and I had to band-aid by loading Ubuntu and running Visual Studio in a VM to access Windows.  Not ideal, but kept me going for a few more months.

Now with VS2017 it takes just too long to get everything running. The power supply also died last week.  It is a sign.

Now.. I've never really used tablets but I do fancy seeing if having one will encourage me to read the paper again - and these are all e-versions now (except Private Eye - still only available on the street of shame).

So this fancy Microsoft Surface 2 looks nice.  Insanely expensive, but ooh so nice.

I'm going to go for the big screen 15" and either the half or full terabtye model.  256gb will be filled up in no time.

Living in Andorra there is only 4.5% VAT to pay, but if I do the importation myself I can claim the VAT back from whatever country I buy it from - in my case 21% from Spain.  On a hefty purchase like this, that makes a big difference.

Locally I can get the i7, 16Gb RAM, 512Gb model here in FNAC for 3026€

But in Spain FNAC is selling that model for 3134€.  Great if you from Barcelona and want to save 100 odd euro by buying it here.  But I can go to Barcelona myself and save a fortune.

3134€ - 21% = 2475.86 Euro on which I will have pay 4.5% to re-import. Giving a final cost of 2587€

For the 1 TB version the figure is 3609€ in Barcelona and that's final cost here to me would be 2851€ minus the Spanish IVA and then adding the import duty give  2979€

Now the other alternative for me is to buy one on ebay in the UK and get mum to bring it over.  I can't claim any VAT off that way, but prices are cheaper and I'm also happy to get a 2nd hand one if there is a reasonable saving.  The warranties offered by Microsoft are pretty poor really at only 1 year, so no loss even if it is few months old.

I tried to bid on a just-a-bit used 1TB over the weekend from a lass in Scotland using ebay's "best offer" system.  I bid 2K GBP and it went for exactly that - there must have been another bidder bidding the exact same price.  Anyway now I have a benchmark....

2000 pounds today is 2321 Euro. So that would have been a saving of 658 Euro.  That is the kind of saving I looking for! 658/2979 = 22% off.

So for the smaller one.. getting 22% off the FNAC price is 2017€.  This in GBP is £ 1737 - again this is the "mint condition, but taken out of the box price"

Converting the "brand new, 12 month warranty" prices into GBP I get £ 2573 and £ 2233 for the 1TB and 512gb respectively.  In order to justify the cost and hassle of getting the thing to me here in Andorra I need to see a price midway been these and the used price.

Spain € UK Pound Conversion UK Pound New Ebay GBP UK Pound 2nd Hand Mint
1Tb 2979€ £ 2573 £ 2286.50 £ 2000 (2321€)
512Gb 2587€ £ 2233 £ 1985 £ 1737 (2017€)

I will post here with my results....

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Spanish verbs

Damn Spanish verbs can be frustrating.  I been trying for 13 years, and still get confused.  Must be the old brain.

I found a great "Cheat Sheet" (for fun try getting a Spanish person to say that :)) on Dummies.com but it a bit long so I cut it down a bit to just the most useful verb endings.

The cheat sheet is only good for regular verbs, and the most important/often used ones are irregular.

So last intercambio I worked with my friend to translate some typical sentences.

Here we are:


My mother was here until today,

Mi madre ha estado aqui hasta hoy,

and she will probably be back in April.

y ella a lo mejor volvera en Abril

We all had a nice time.

Nos lo pasamos bien.

Tanya & Isabel went to Barcelona on Sunday for appointments Isabel had yesterday and today.

Tanya y Isabel fueron a Barcelona dominigo para hacer encargos Isabel tenia ayer y hoy.

They are coming back now and are expected to be at home when Henry and I get there.

Ellos estan volviendo ahora mismo y se espera que esten en casa cuando Henry y yo lleguemos alli.

We went to Pas de la casa on Sunday and had a nice meal.

Nos fuimos a Pas de la casa el domingo, comimos bien. 

It was a pleasant restaurant, although the menu was not accommodating.

Era un restaurant agradable, aunque el menĂº no era complaciente.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

How do you fix a roll of aluminium foil once it's started spiralling?

I had this problem.

Seen a post on Reddit.  Old one.

"This thread is archived
New comments cannot be posted and votes cannot be cast"

That is a shame.  As I now have a better answer than any of the posts.

Get a pair of tweezers and scrape down from the part of the foil roll that is "stuck".  

Don't matter if it digs down into the layer beneath.  Try to maintain even digging across the roll.

Worked a treat!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Dog Saga Continues

So this new neighbour of ours who really must rank as one of the most selfish people ever, now has a new dog rapidly changing from puppy to expert-barker, in addition to the two older dogs she had previously.  The puppy has a hoarse-sounding bark that is even more penetrating than the older dogs' barks.

My whole body convulses when the damn thing goes off.  It is not possible to concentrate on my work, when they looking over the fence and barking away for hours.

I googled for some information on the physiological effects of the barking and found an interesting site.  http://barkingdogs.net/exposure.shtml

This guy seems to have been tormented for years by inconsiderate neighbours, but checking his facebook, it appears that he has been able to sell up and move.

https://www.facebook.com/BarkingDogProblems/



So good for him!  I however am stuck with this woman who very rarely exercises her big dogs, so they roam around the yard all day barking madly at cats, birds, workmen etc. who pass up or down the street.

Here is the annoying yappy little thing...  This is the fence between my yard and her yard.  I park my car where my son is walking.



Tuesday, February 5, 2019

(Bit) Bonkers Relationship Advice


If you want a really strong relationship - I recommend moving abroad.  It needs to be a country where neither partner can a) speak the language b) has lived before.

This, in my experience, will be a little crazy – for example if will make even the simplest task; like talking to a plumber fraught with possibilities to get the wrong end of the stick, you won’t have a family or friends network to rely on, and everything will be an uphill struggle.

But.. you will probably have a rock solid relationship with your wife.  After a few years you will be able to guarantee they can take just about anything in their stride.  Travelling to other parts of the world will be a breeze – and going back to your home town will bring a smile to your face when you have to sort something mildly problematic there.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Business Ideas to try

Sometimes one wakes up in the morning, or takes a long leisurely bath - and "Archimedes-like" you get a brainwave.  Lots of people do, I even heard about a CEO who out a bath suite next to his corporate office to capitalise on this phenomenon.

I get of lot of these "brainwaves".  Most business ideas (to their owners), seem "genius", at least initially.   After a day or two, the shine normally comes off them.  Bitter experience has taught me that peer reviewing your new business concept is the best way to get some honest feedback on whether it's a go-er or not.

So I'm going to try the biggest "peer" review of them all - posting these ideas on the internet!  Of course the idea will have lost it's element of "surprise" - but maybe a reader will fancy using it a the seed of their business empire.  Or just having a good laugh if the idea it too "hare-brained".

Ideas are important, but they are more or less free, and really to make a business succeed its in the "doing".  I don't have much time for "idea's men"; unless they are grafters too.

I'm going to post them once and while, all with the business idea tag

Monday, January 28, 2019

Determining actual pixels rendered from relative settings

So I'm finally.. after maybe 17 years... getting round to looking at CSS in a bit more detail.

Sadly CSS has moved on a bit in the last 17 years... I'm going to have to go ALL OUT.

Doing it via an Udemy course - so far so good.  Just had a pretty mental lecture on how the browser finally calculates the actual "end result" pixel values; and I'm certain I'm going to need to refer to it again.


The main new point here for me, em settings are measured relative to their parent font-size, if used to specify font-size, whereas em settings are measured relative to the current font-size, if used to specify lengths.

em - is a multiplication factor, so 2em could be 2x the parent's font size for a font-size definition.

Mind blown.