Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Finnish picnic 2017

Monday, July 24th, 2017 | Life

Summer means time for the Finns in Leeds to get together and enjoy the shade. We were lucky with the weather again this year, enjoying a sunny day throughout.

It was Venla’s first Finnish picnic. Though she is otherwise a bit of a veteran of them already.

This year’s event was a little sparsely attended. There were six of us in total. This had the advantage of massively improving my odds in the wife carrying competition, but, alas, Elina opted out.

Other results were mixed: I picked up gold in the welly throwing competition, but my mölkky performance was mediocre. I came last in the first game, before picking up a second place in the second game. Like last year, I was pipped by Martin.

How TTP evolved their IT recruitment

Thursday, July 20th, 2017 | Life

Back in November last year, I noted that healthcare software provider Emis had started advertising at the train station. Right next door to where rival company TTP were advertising.

But Emis did a much better job of it. Their ad read:

I used to optimise gambling apps. Now I’m boosting survival odds.

Much better, in my opinion, than the patronising slogan of the TPP advert next to it:

Are you a little bit geeky?

Well, it turns out that TPP got the message (not from reading my blog, I’m sure). Because, as I walked through the train station a few weeks ago, they had replaced their long-running advert with a new one.

This one reads:

Write code. Solve problems. Save lives.

For me, this is a huge improvement over their previous ad. It doesn’t make it clear what they actually do, but it does appeal to people’s sense of wanting to do something meaningful with their lives.

How well can you play golf after unlimited steak?

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017 | Life

In April, my parents retired. Typically, you think of this as the period of your life when you have lots of free time. But that does not last long. Soon you have filled it up with so much stuff that you have no idea how you ever managed to fit a job in.

Which is why, two months later, we were still trying to find a weekend when we could all go out for a surprise trip to Fazenda to celebrate my dad’s birthday.

It had to a lunch time as they don’t allow children after 6 pm. That sucks because it is way better on an evening. However, the experience child-wise was kick ass. The high chair was already set out when we arrived and Venla got her own plastic plate, cutlery set and breaker. Hats off to them they have it down: and it’s free for under 5s!

Afterwards, we headed over to the Golf Bar and played some golf.

It’s a lot of fun. It does feel like real golf: the clubs feel a bit light but other than that you are really hitting a ball with real clubs. It’s £40 per hour which is a little steep, but not too bad when split between a group of you.

Venla’s first trip to the beach

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017 | Life

In May, we took Venla for her first trip to the beach.

She enjoyed herself. There were lots of new things to put in her mouth. Including pebbles. And sand. She ate lots of sand. In fact, the only thing that didn’t go in the mouth was the one thing you are supposed to eat: seaweed.

Flamborough often has it’s own weather system and it held out well for us: it was warm and sunny for most of the trip.

Kerny’s first birthday

Sunday, June 25th, 2017 | Life, Photos

Earlier this month, Kerny turned one. We celebrated with a picnic at Tetley Green.

International Day Against Homophobia

Friday, June 23rd, 2017 | Life

Last month, we had a bake sale at Sky to support International Day Against Homophobia. The crowning jewel of the sale was this…

…which was self-described by the bake-sale team as “the gayest cake in the world”. It was also delicious.

London vs Leeds: what will £32m get you?

Friday, June 16th, 2017 | Life

The property price differences between London and anywhere that is not London have been well documented. A small garden shed in the capital will set you back far more than a three bedroomed house in Darlington. But what if you have some cash to splash?

This came to mind recently when I saw two properties for sale.

One was this £30,000,000 house in London.

What can you get in London?

Technically, it is detached. But, if you look at how close the next building is to it, you could be forgiven for not realising this. And there is no doubt that it is a nice house. But if we look at the description…

Today this Grade II listed building currently extends to circa 9490 square feet (881 square metres).The property is in need of full modernisation but retains a number of period features.

…it turns out it is a fixer-upper.

What can you get in Leeds?

Compare this to the £32,000,000 property you can get in Leeds. It is two million pounds more, of course, so you are expecting something a little better.

That’s right, it’s Leeds Dock. It is a 1,200,000 square foot site complete with 1,100 apartments. And loads of office space. And a bar. And a restaurant (but it’s only a Pizza Express). And a casino (now closed). And the Royal Armouries Museum.

Recently put up to sale for £32,000,000 by its owners Allied London. Which is significantly more than the £1.5 million they paid for it just five years ago.

Why Udemy pay their instructors £2.68 for a £100 course

Thursday, June 15th, 2017 | Life

I like Udemy, both as a student and an instructor. As a student, I have done some brilliant courses on there. As an instructor, it has been easy to create courses and make them available for sale.

But there is one downside if you plan on using Udemy to make a living: the payouts are terrible.

Take a look at My IT Contracting Master Class, for example. It is a £100 course. I was excited when the first customer signed up via Udemy. That is until I realised that I would only be getting £2.68.

What is going on here?

First, Udemy discount everything. The £100 price tag is basically a lie. I’m not sure what they do is legal in the UK. They have an advertised price, but you never pay that. In the five months, I have been using them, there has not been a single day when the have not had a sale on. It’s like going to a furniture store with their ever-revolving discounts.

Sometimes the discounts are bigger than others. Sometimes it is £10, sometimes £15. But as a UK customer, you are getting screwed anyway. The US consumer gets a bigger discount. In this case, the course was sold for $9.99.

Then iTunes take a cut, so that’s $3 gone, and then Udemy split the remaining money with you 50/50. There is $7 left, so that makes £3.50 each. Or, translated into Sterling, £2.68.

Technically, I think you can opt-out of these discounts. But, in practice, very few courses do. And this means that you are competing against a market of discounted courses, which makes it impossible to do business. And Udemy is more favourable to the courses who do not opt-out. So, in reality, I don’t feel like I have a choice.

Udemy is a great platform. However, I wish they would be more transparent about their prices. You don’t ever pay the list price and so instructors are paid very little.

We tried Ocado and this is what happened

Saturday, May 20th, 2017 | Life

Ocado always seemed like a mythical super-supermarket. A land of plenty that stocked everything you could imagine and more besides. So, we gave it a go. Here is what we thought.

We usually order from Sainsbury’s. They are not without their problems. I’ve also tried Morrison’s online delivery, so those are my basis for comparison.

Ordering

Their website is a mixed bag. It’s crowded: the interface is crammed with buttons and promotions. However, the ordering functionality itself is fine. I like the quick view pop-up and being able to hover over a product to zoom in. They often have a lot of product photos, too.

While they have an extensive range, a lot of stuff is sold out. I like the fact that they are honest about this. I’m not sure what Sainsbury’s do, but based on past experience (one time loose tomatoes disappeared, for example) I think they silently remove stuff. Still, being so close to red delicious apples and missing out was frustrating.

Your delivery slot is only reserved for one hour. This is fine if you sit down knowing what you want. However, it was a bit of a rush when you are recipe planning at the same time. I had to place the order and go back and edit it later.

My biggest gripe with the ordering process is that I could only edit it until 5:40 pm the day before. Morrisons also have a cut off of 5 pm, whereas Sainsbury’s is 11 pm. This is probably the biggest reason we are still with Sainsbury’s.

It might not seem like a big deal, but it is to me. I work late, so 5:40 pm means I have to finish the order on Thursday evening, which is a whole day lost. I am regularly on the Sainsbury’s website at 10:45 pm on a Friday night, tweaking my order to accommodate new recipes I want to try or taking food out because I’ve been invited out to dinner one night.

Yeah, that is how I spend my Friday nights. Fuck you and your rock and roll lifestyle.

Product range

This is where I was expecting Ocado to excel. But, honestly, I was a little disappointed.

Sure, they had veal, and goat, and cloudberry jam. That is awesome. But we had been keeping a list of all the things we couldn’t get at Sainsbury’s and when it came down to it, that list was not that long.

On the flip side, they have stuff missing, too. No longley farm yoghurts, no smarties, no strawberry old moot cider. They have a better range of speciality mushrooms, but only to the extent that I could get them in larger quantities. No chanterelles.

They do have all of the Schwartz spices that Sainsbury’s have decided not to stock anymore. However, they do not have all of the own-brand stuff that drives down the cost of your shop. They have Waitrose Essentials, but it’s Waitrose, so it often the same price to get the branded stuff.

Fresh produce is a problem, too. They’re not a supermarket; they’re a warehouse. So you can’t buy a red pepper or a single apple. You have to buy a bag of them. This is probably okay if you are a cook who just opens the fridge and decides to make something based on what is in there. But I’m not there yet. I have plans. And those plans get expensive when you have to buy a bag of carrots just to get one.

Delivery

We usually get our shopping delivered in the 10 am – 11 am slot on Saturday morning. This has never been a problem. However, Ocado had no availability between 8 am and 11 am, so we had to push it back to the 11 am – noon slot.

Taking a look now, if I book a week in advance, I can get almost any time I choose for next Saturday. They have a system where you can reserve a time slot on a weekly basis, so if we went with them full time, I should be able to sort this.

The delivery was on time.

They have the best receipt I have seen. Everything comes in order of date, so you can easily tell when things are use by. This is great: I can easily compare if anything is going out of date before my meal plan schedules them in. With Sainsbury’s, you have to do this manually.

The bags are colour coded for freezer, fridge and cupboard. Morisson’s do this, too.

There is a substitution on my order. Not a great start for somewhere to claims to have very few of them. Worse, although they email me to tell me about it in advance, the guy never asks me if I want to return the substitution. I did want to return it. But, as they’re not separated into separate bags, I never got the chance to say anything.

Product quality

One of our big issues with Sainsbury’s is the expiry date of bagels. When we buy them from the Co-op, they last four weeks. When we buy them from Sainsbury’s, they expire in about five days. We were hoping Ocado would product Co-op results, but they do expire in five days.

Cost

It was an expensive shop. We sent £120. We got £20 off this off for being a new customer, but that is still a lot of cash.

It’s true that some of that cost was because we saw we could finally get veal loin and rack of lamb, and did so. However, I have put my regular order into mySupermarket for price comparison several times and Ocado regularly comes out more expensive. See this comparission from 2015.

There are a number of reasons for this. Having to buy branded products rather than own-brand. Having to buy multipack vegetables rather than individual ones. But Ocado is also just more expensive. Take Pampers nappies, for example. Our current pack is £7 from Sainsbury’s, but £8 from Ocado.

£10 extra per week is a pretty big deal: that’s £500 extra per year.

There is also the cost of delivery. I am not sure what the cost of individual deliveries are but the Smart Pass (free deliveries) costs £110 per year. It’s £60 for one at both Sainsbury’s and Morrison’s.

Conclusion

Ocado has a lot going for them. However, I don’t think we will be switching anytime soon. The biggest issues, for me, are that I cannot edit my order after 5:40 pm and the cost (which I think is a result of the lack of individual fresh produce, higher prices and smaller range of won-brand items).

Why I’m annoyed at Sainsbury’s

Friday, May 19th, 2017 | Life

This is a rant. We get Sainsbury’s to do our weekly delivery. On the whole, it’s good. However, it is not without its problems. Namely:

  • They miss stuff out
  • They send incorrect items
  • They fall out with suppliers
  • Their bagels are short-dated

Incorrect items have not been a big problem recently. But, in September last year, they sent the incorrect item three weeks in a row. The exact same mistake. So I’m not going to be removing that item from the list for a while.

Missing items is a problem, too. Maybe every two months or so we will notice they have missed something out. I’m not religious about checking it. Last time, they forgot to include our bread. They always refund me for the missing items when I complain, though.

Several times, things have disappeared from my order, including the confirmation. However, I can’t prove this and Sainsbury’s deny it happens.

Recently though, they seem to have fallen out with suppliers, too. Things disappear from their store as they change their ranges: McCain wedges and HP barbeque sauce being two examples. But all the Schwartz spices have been disappearing as well.

I emailed them about this in February. They emailed me back to say that they had not fallen out with Schwartz. Then refused to answer any of the emails I sent in February, March and April. When I phoned them about it, they said they were dropping Schwarts. Which means they lied to me in their original email.

This was the same email I complained about their bagels. When you buy them from Co-op, they come with a month’s shelf life on them. When we buy them from Sainsbury’s, they come with five days shelf life on them. They’re still investigating this.

EDIT: Since writing this they have contacted me to say that they cannot explain how Co-op have such long shelf lives because they have spoken to New York Bagel Co who have told them they only release bagels with a shelf life of 5 days. We’ve also ordered the same Bagels from Ocado who only had 4 days shelf life on them.