Pricing done wrong: PowerDVD

Yesterday, I read Don’t just roll the dice, a short book about software pricing that is available as a free eBook and can also be purchased in paper form, much like the great book Sustainable Energy – without the hot air. Perhaps there is something about the air in Cambridge that helps these guys to just get it?

As an example of someone that sits at the other end of the scale and certainly doesn’t get it is the company behind the PowerDVD software. Their pricing policy positively scares customers away!

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eBook publisher insanity!

I just got myself an eBook reader – the new Sony PRS-300. Sony PRS-300

It’s a new device, and while it doesn’t have many gizmos and features it does have a great little screen that is pleasant for reading books. I read a lot of books, and my first thought when I got it in the post was to – you guessed it – buy a bunch of books for it 🙂

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Precentages are simple. No, really.

I think percentages are simple. Take 100%, for example: it means everything. And 0% means nothing. 50% is about half.

Per cent of course means “per hundred”, so 27% is just a short way of saying “27 per hundred”, or 27/100, or 0.27. Really, is that hard?

In Britain, it seems to be. Whenever there is a change in tax, it’s not “an decrease of 2%”, it is “an decrease of 2 pennies in the Pound”. The Lib Dems do it, the Torygraph does it, and even the Independent does it, even though it seems like an awkward, round-about and much too cumbersome way of saying something simple.

Today, I read an article about the Chrysler bankruptcy filing, where lots of percentages are thrown around, but this time using “20pc” to mean 20%. What is the idea with that? “pc” means “pieces”, I think, and I constantly read “20 pieces of silver” – most distracting, not to mention unnecessary.

Even Wikipedia’s article on percentages doesn’t mention either of those uses. I’d encourage them to go away – just use “percent”, or the fine sign with the same meaning, %. It’s clear, it’s unambiguous, and it’s really not hard.

Or am I missing something? Not having grown up in the UK, I may this moment be violating any number of cultural taboos, or trespassing on ground that is off-limits for some reason. Did the French use percentages in a particularly bad way, perhaps, or does the % symbol carry some hidden meaning of which I as a foreigner am unaware?

If that is the case, please do let me know. If not, well, then please use percentages: it’s what they are there for 🙂

Mysterious outbound calls?

Every month when I receive my phone bill, it shows a mysterious call made to 08712005023. The number is marked as “SERVICES G7”, and with recent changes to how calls are charged, it costs me 14p for every one of these calls.

They are normally made at 23:50 each night, and I simply can’t figure out who makes them. Googling for the number finds nothing – except shortly it will find this post, so perhaps someone else with the same problem will find it and comment so we together can find the culprit.

I can only really think of 3 likely culprits:

  • Is it my Sky TV setup? The Sky box needs to be connected to the phone line in order to work, but Sky insists this isn’t their number. Hmm.
  • Is it my ADT alarm system? It calls the police if there is a burglary or fire and stuff, and of course is connected to the phone system too. I have spoken to roughly everyone in ADT, being passed from person to person, and nobody seems to think it relates to them. Hmm hmm.
  • Could it be an error from TalkTalk‘s side? They provide my phones, and they don’t want to rule it out – a technician even told me he’d seen something before and that it might be the case. In order to troubleshoot it, they want me to disconnect everything from the phone system and see if it still happens. But if I do that, I can’t watch TV, and my alarm gets really unhappy. I tried it anyway, and I’m none the wiser.

Directory inquiries can’t help either. I mean, hello: surely someone owns 0871 200 5023, which something in my house calls for 5-6 seconds every day, at around 23:50. And I get charged £4.20 per month for this – enough that it’s a bother. TalkTalk recently increased the minimum charge from 6p to 14p, so now it’s annoying enough that I want to do something about it.

I’ve even thought of changing to a different phone provider, just to eliminate TalkTalk as the cause. But that seems silly, and Sky charges 42.28p per minute for calls to mobile phones in Denmark; since my brother lives there and only has his iPhone, this is a no-no.

Any other suggestions? Does anyone else have this issue? It’s driving me crazy 🙂

Scrap the bid!

As someone who lives close to London, I just don’t see the attraction of bringing the Olympics to London in 2012. While I can understand in principle why some people might think it’s a good idea, I just don’t see how it can work in practice – particularly from a transportation point of view.m25-thumb.png

London is an old city – one whose road network has completely failed to keep up with the dramatic increases in traffic. In Paris, where the Périphérique functions as a somewhat decent ring road and the broad avenues can channel a lot of traffic, the main cause of congestion is the overly aggressive drivers. In London, the problem is that the road network just does not have the capacity it needs, no matter how polite the British manage to be on their tiny roads.

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Finding a home in the UK

Mamta and I are currently trying to determine where to live once we move from our current rented house in East Sheen – and it’s not easy. Of course, the fact that the price has to be reasonable is a factor, but the biggest frustration really is that it’s so hard to find out whether what is available is in any way suitable.

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