Monday, 25 October 2010

Give Me My Internet 2: A new beginning

Those of you who regularly read my blog will vaguely remember the troubles I had getting online last year, trying to find some kind of broadband solution, you may have missed such moaning on this blog, fear not, I have a new round of moaning to do.
Last week was a blast, I've moved into a lovely new flat, my heart swells, the flat is large, clean, warm and well, nice. There is a BT-branded phone socket on the wall in the hallway, and when you plug in a £2.99 Tesco Value phone there is a dial tone.
Alas, when you call a mobile to try to find what the line's number is, there's just the "number unobtainable" message.
When I dial 150 nothing happens, it just goes silent.
I want to sign up Sky Broadband, they seem like good people, offering unlimited internet for around £10 a month. Just imagine all the blogging I could do, just imagine all the episodes of The Sarah-Jane Adventures I could watch, or the gigs I could hear about, the videos I could post, the graphs, the drawings, the poorly rehearsed Tindersticks cover versions, oh, the limitless possibilities of limitless internet.
Alas, when I try to sign up to Sky, they say that the phoneline is active and demand I enter the phone number. I would love to, but I cannot get it.
When I try BT's website, there is nothing I can do, no help mechanism I can follow without entering the phone number, but I don't have it.
When I phone up the nice people at BT, after rounds and rounds of recorded messages and option, I end up just waiting patiently whilst it rings out.
An hour.
I've waited an hour to speak to someone at BT who can help.
There is no one.
If I unping the phoneline from the wall in my hallway, and pull it out to the road, and tie it to my car's tow hook, and then drive at high speed away from my flat, wrenching the phoneline from it's roots, will it drag the phone exchange through it's network of tunnels and out and trailing down my street? or will it just become unattached somewhere and my phoneline will cease to be active so that Sky will send round a nice man to hook up broadband for me?
How do I get my internet?
Give me my internet!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Arguments during Dispatches

There were arguments whilst watching Dispatches last night. The program blew the cover on tax havens and government ministers and advisers who use them.

I feel the need to clearly verbalise my feelings on the subject.

Firstly I think in the UK we pay too much tax. I dispute the assumption that the government has any right at all to my earnings. As I've discussed elsewhere, I pay about 50% of my earnings as tax, sure income tax is 22%, but with fuel duty, VAT and so on, its 50%.

I get up early, I drive for miles to get to work, I work hard, yet half of my effort is to fill government coffers. Except the government has no money, its just a transient state, it spends my money, or worse, it gives it away for free.

And where it gives it away is the problem, the redistribution of wealth, from the hard working to the workless.

I'm saving my pennies to buy myself an xBox 360. If anyone who lives on benefits, on government handouts, who does not work, who does not have to get up at 7am to go to work, if they can afford an xBox 360, if they have a higher standard of living than me, then I pay too much tax, tax levels in the UK are too high, and I fully support anyone who takes legal measures to reduce their tax bill.

I believe sovereign states have the right to set their own tax levels, without having to ask the UK's permission.

Is that a contradiction? Considering I dispute the government's right to my (or anyone else's) earnings? Nope.

If anyone seeks to reduce their tax bill by moving their assets and money abroad, then so be it. It's a perfectly legitimate expression of opinion, the UK's levels of tax are too high and it follows they should be lowered.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Spread of rents in the UK housing market

Good evening blog readers, I'm in the process of moving house. I'd been meaning to move away from Wembley and closer to work for a while and now, well, to be honest I'm of no fixed abode until I get keys to the new place some time next week.

Anyhoo, it took a while to find somewhere to live. We had a budget, around £800 per month, no more than £900. We wanted a two bedroom place so one room could be an office/studio/den/spare bedroom, but a one bedroom place would be okay if it was nice. I had location stipulations, nearer to where I work in Enfield than Wembley, and also closer to ways into London town centre of gigs an stuff.

Other people in the househunting game have other stipulations, such as, not in the east and near on of those cool west London tube lines.

Here, take a look at RightMove, London doesn't really really cater for the two bedroom less than £800 a month west dweller.

No matter how hard you look, there's always going to be something better in that price range towards the east.

The concept of 'cheap' two bedroom doesn't exist in west London.

Its been a while since I was out looking for a two bedroom flat, in fact last time was around ten years ago, in Glasgow. We got a rather executive city centre flat for £575 a month, that was expensive for Glasgow. But for London, that's not even on the radar for the cheap end of the market.

There isn't even a cheap bit of London with the shittest two bed flats for around that. I know inflation exists, but no no.

Anyhoo, so I like graphs and stuff. I went onto RightMove and started scraping.

This is a graph of the distribution of two bedroom flat rental prices in Glasgow from RightMove. It tells us that if you're looking for a £800 two bed there, you can pretty much get any flat on the market. A shitty flat in a shitty area will cost £400 a month and a decent one will cost £800. Sure there are more luxurious city centre ones over a grand, but most of the market is within your grasp.

Its not just Glasgow that's that cheap, here's a look at the spread in Glasgow and Manchester. Its the same spread.

Sure, Manchester is a touch more expensive. The average being £628 per month compared to Glasgow's £593 per month, but there's not much in it.

Anyhoo, here are all the price spreads that I scraped off of RightMove.

Yes its hard to see what's going on there, suffice to say there's a wide spread of rental prices comparing different cities and towns in the UK. That's kind of obvious to all.

You'll have heard of the north/south divide, or how London is horrendously expensive compared to the rest of the world and it gets cheaper the further from London you go.

So to illustrate this here's a graph of average rent for a two-bed in different parts of the UK, with latitude along the y-axis and price along the x-axis.

The rent floor for the UK seems to be £490 a month. No town has an average rent much below this. Sure, some of the vilest shitholes will be cheaper, and there's always flatshare.

London is generally more expensive than anywhere else in the UK. Even the cheap bits of London are more expensive.

Here's a wee graph of the spreads of various places in that expensive latitude around London.

I've cut off the x-axis at £1500 per month cos above that it gets rather depressing. Do you really want to know that the average rent in West Hampstead is £1710 a month an Tower Hamlets is £1570? Around three times more than double the average in most of the UK.

The other day Raedwald blogged about how Middlesbrough was well cheap, you could buy a four bedroom house there for £132,000. But that still not quite scraping the barrel.

I use to joke with people that I could quit my job and move to Hull and live in a nicer flat just on my Job Seekers allowance. But it appears there are cheaper places than even Hull. Carlisle for example.

Here, this is my wee list of the average 2-bed rent in various places in the UK.
£1,711.15 - West Hampstead
£1,569.78 - Tower Hamlets
£1,530.41 - Bethnal Green
£1,394.95 - Brixton
£1,252.63 - Wembley
£1,173.56 - Brighton
£1,144.02 - Enfield
£1,093.44 - Uxbridge
£1,031.45 - Walthamstow
£955.47 - Croydon
£874.05 - Reading
£869.32 - Slough
£828.37 - Chelmsford
£783.09 - Edinburgh
£775.00 - Burnham on Crouch
£755.04 - Portsmouth
£736.06 - Bristol
£692.54 - Plymouth
£668.94 - Cardiff
£666.67 - Birmingham
£664.54 - Colchester
£648.22 - Newcastle upon Tyne
£645.89 - Norwich
£627.92 - Manchester
£617.50 - Leicester
£606.42 - Liverpool
£597.65 - Sheffield
£592.19 - Glasgow
£581.67 - Swansea
£578.26 - Moss Side
£576.36 - Nottingham
£553.09 - Coventry
£516.23 - Doncaster
£507.14 - Bolton
£504.90 - Rochdale
£504.41 - Middlesbrough
£497.64 - Bradford
£496.24 - Hull
£479.17 - Carlisle
Thrilling stuff, I'm sure you'll agree.

Does this open up some interest questions about the nature not just of Housing Benefit, but also Job Seekers Allowance in the UK, and who pays for who.

Playing around on Excel instead on OpenOffice Base, I've put together this surface graph of the spreads in each of the aforemention towns, and done it so it looks a little like the cover to Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures.

Its going to be a wee while until I can get on a 'puter that can run better graphing software.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Yeo Dairy

I don't watch X-Factor very often, but staying at my brother's place this weekend, it was on TV. Gotta say, this advert for Yeo Valley milk was the best thing on.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Thorn Dice

Am currently clearing my flat and loading up a storage container, so of course I'm getting distracted by cool things on the internet.

I was looking for a cool new hobby to get into, 3D printing seems neat, considering it can produce wonders such as these thorn dice.

I'm not a gamer any more, but WANT!