Dave's Blog

This blog is mainly about the things I know and love... technology and gadgets. There's a bit of customer service stuff in here too, both good and bad. There's also some environmental and political comment, and some very personal stuff too. These articles should be regarded as solely the opinion or experiences of the author. If anyone feels that they have been unfairly represented by these articles, please contact me. Any comments are solely the views of the commenters, and unpleasant comments will be removed.

ebay Feedback Pointless

I really don't see the point of the ebay feedback system. It only works one way: buyers can leave negative feedback on sellers, but sellers cannot give negative feedback to buyers. So buyers will only ever have large, positive feedback scores.

As you might have guessed, I have had bad experiences as a seller. In one case, the buyer was either pretending that what I'd sold him didn't work, or was simply technically inept. In another case, having won the buyer decided he didn't want the item after all. Much as I would have loved to give both these deserving people negative feedback, I couldn't.

I think ebay is in an excessively dominant position, allowing them to abuse their market share. The listing fees seem very reasonable, but the final value fees (10% for computer bits, for example) are high. Also, they force you to offer PayPal as a means of accepting payment, which nets them another 3.4% from non-business sellers.

I think I may revert to using postcards in newsagents' windows, and see how I get on! I've successfully sold a couple of things on Gumtree, which seems to have a good following too.

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Chronic Chronos 2

Yep, our second Pure Chronos II DAB bedside clock/radio died this week. Exactly the same symptoms as the first one. In both cases, I've bought a replacement power adaptor from a seller on Amazon. Pure are probably legally obliged to repair/replace, even though they're way out of warranty, because they're clearly not fit for purpose. Not worth the hassle in pursuing though.

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After a lot of indecision, I have finally switched from Zen Internet to Plusnet. I suppose this is a bit like changing from BMW to a Ford. However, my experiences thus far have been OK; other than a lack of clarity about the procedure of switching an FTTC connection (rather than installing a new one), Plusnet's Sheffield-based customer services have been fine. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that they have been just as good as Zen's.

Of course, it's the same BT Openreach FTTC connection for the last ½ mile, so my headline speeds are the same, and Plusnet's well explained traffic shaping (versus Zen's complete absence of traffic shaping) has been completely unnoticeable. The main thing though is that it's unlimited (versus a 200GB monthly cap) and 40% cheaper.

I would have saved a lot of money by now if I'd switched a year ago.

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New Car

36arn has a new car. Goodbye Citroen C4 Picasso, hello Ford Fiesta. Initial impressions are very favourable. Fantastic handling, well put together and lots of gadgets. Only managed 45mpg over the first 150 miles (mostly at about 65mph on the motorway), but that should improve (I hope) as the car loosens up. The 1.0l turbocharged 3 cylinder engine seems ideally suited to the car, although the high gearing takes some getting used to. The car has lots of torque, but it is a very different car to drive than the 1.6 diesel Citroen.

The handling is superb - lots of grip and perfectly weighted steering. I've managed to test the stability control already, on a greasy, winding B-road, but I was going ridiculously fast. It's very tempting to drive fast on winding roads; however, the fuel consumption does suffer.

I'll probably report back in 6 months time, by which time I'll have done a few thousand miles and it will be nicely run in.

Update: see review here.

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36arn is now mobile-friendly. I have upgraded the Joomla template generation software (Artisteer) to the latest version (4.1). Version 4.0 and later support layouts that flow in a sensible way to accommodate narrower screens.

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Chronic Chronos

My Pure Chronos II DAB bedside clock/radio died this week. A few days misbehaving (notably, it got stuck on 1:05am) and then complete failure. It seems that this model has a power supply that develops a fault after a few years, and mine was no exception. We have two, so I'm expecting the one on the other side of the bed to pack up soon too.

Pure no longer sell this model, but you can still get replacement power supplies. In this case, buying a genuine replacement doesn't seem like a great idea!

In fact, this radio has been annoying me for ages. The volume control is much too coarse at low volumes, causing me to resort to muffling it with a laundered handkerchief in order to achieve a volume level that didn't keep me awake at night. A good excuse then for a new radio.

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