Richard Bloomfield's Blog

Technology, Cycling and Singing in Dublin

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Help couriers and delivery drivers find your location with PinLogic

PinLogic are an Irish company based in Co Mayo that are trying to help couriers and delivery drivers locate their customers easily and efficiently.

pinlogic-205638-h900The service makes use of the GPS location tracking available in smartphones to pinpoint exactly where a customer is located, so that delivery drivers don’t waste time and fuel driving around trying to find an address.

The delivery driver uses a smartphone app to send an SMS to the customer.  The customer then clicks on a URL in the SMS, which opens a web page. The web page then uses the GPS in the phone to find the location, and sends it to the delivery driver.  The exact location is then plotted on a map in the driver’s app.

It’s quite a simple idea, but an effective one – and it could be especially useful for rural deliveries, or where a driver isn’t familiar with an area.  And with Ireland’s supposed new postcode system not showing any signs of appearing soon, this is a great solution.

However, I would like to see the service expanded to include more customer information. At present the service is focused on providing an accurate location to a delivery driver.  But as anyone who’s ever waited in at home for a delivery knows well, it would also be great if the customer could track where the delivery driver is located.

Hailo seem to do this two-way information quite well.  The taxi driver gets an accurate pickup location when the cab is booked, and the passenger can also track the approaching taxi and keep an eye out for it.

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Why I won’t by buying the Nexus 6

I’ve been a fan of the Google Nexus phones for a couple of years, and have written in the past about getting my hands on a Nexus 4 and a Nexus 5 before they were available in Ireland. And like of lot of other fans, I was quite excited to learn what was coming next.

The major attraction of the Nexus mobiles is that you were able to get a top-performing phone at a discount price, but with the new Nexus 6 announced yesterday, you’re still getting a top-performing phone but it’s now got a premium price tag attached. And, let’s face it, the screen is way too big!

With the Nexus 6, they have deviated from a winning formula, and potentially upset a lot of fans.  The whole point of getting a Nexus 4 or Nexus 5 was that you could ditch those expensive mobile contracts, buy a reasonably-priced smartphone SIM-free for about €350, and save a fortune over the life of a phone.  The Nexus 6 price is more likely to be cost €650 SIM-free in Ireland – almost double.

It’s interesting that Google still intends to keep selling the Nexus 5, which is still a strongly performing phone, even if it is a year old now. It understands that a lot of people are not interested in the ‘phablet’ sized Nexus 6, and so have kept the Nexus 5 available for sale.

But here’s the thing… I’m an early adopter of technology, and I like to feel that I have the ‘latest and greatest’ technology, and have got used to replacing my mobile every year. But at the moment, I have no upgrade path. I have no motivation to put my hand in my pocket and hand over some money.

So for now, it seems I’ll be keeping hold of my Nexus 5 – which will probably come as bad news to my wife, who had plans to take it off me once I upgraded.

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Irish Budget 2015

It’s budget day here in Ireland, and the official news of any changes to taxation or public spending will start to come in from about 2.30pm onwards. And so it’s a perfect opportunity to try out the Live Blogging plugin:


 

14.34

Increased spending:

  • Capital Expenditure increased by €3.5 billion next year
  • Social Housing investment of €2.2 billion over 3 years

Also selling off Bord Gais for about €400 million.

14.29

So, the Universal Social Charge (USC) rates are changing:

  • 2% rate is being reduced to 1.5%
  • 4% rate is being reduced to 3.5%
  • New 8% rate for people on incomes over €70,000
  • New 11% rate for people on incomes over €100,000

Sadly I don’t earn enough to pay either the 8% or 11% rates!

14.20

€10 for a packet of fags!

14.19

Reduction to the Universal Social Charge as well!  Hurrah!  And increases in the Income Tax threshold (though not by much), and a 1% drop in the upper rate of Income Tax from 41% to 40%.

With all these giveaways, I’m probably now about €2 a month better off!

14.17

We’re also getting tax relief on Water Charges, which is, in effect, a tax.  Tax relief on a tax?  That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but if it means paying less money to the government then I’ll take it.  So basically, I won’t have to pay income tax on the Water Charges – so that will, for those who pay upper rate tax, cost about 40% less than expected.

14.12

Oh look, we’re finally getting rid of the Pension Levy.  The 0.6% tax on your supposed tax-free pension pot. Hopefully now, when I retire, my pension will be worth more than I paid into it!

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Irish Water Charges

As of today, 1st October 2014, the Irish people will be liable for domestic water charges.

For the first 9 months, households will be liable for an ‘assessed’ charge that is based upon the number of adults in the property. The first adult is charged €176 a year, and each additional adult is charged an extra €102.  Children will not be charged.

Then, as of July 2015, those properties with water meters installed will be charged based on the volume of water consumed – at a cost of €2.44 per 1,000 litres of water.

However, I live in an apartment, and as such I’m very unlikely to have a water meter installed. So I’ll continue to be liable for the ‘assessed’ charge going forward.

The thing is, now that I’m suddenly paying what is in effect a subscription charge for my water, my first instinct is to try and maximise my usage.  It’s like having a gym membership or a subscription to Netflix.  You want to feel that you’re getting the maximum value for your money.

With that in mind, I’m considering now having two, or even three, showers a day from now on.  I’m going to wash each item of clothing in a separate wash.  And to ensure that I always have cold water available for when I want a drink, I’m going to leave a tap running in the kitchen.

After all, I’m going to be paying 76 cents a day for this water, so I want to make the most of it.

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UPC Ireland – Horizon Software Update

I wrote back in January about some of the interface problems with the Horizon box, and thankfully some of them seems to have been solved with a recent software update.

  • The general navigation speed seems to have increased
  • The dreaded “Delete Everything” option has been relocated to the depths of a Preference screen, where it can’t cause any damage
  • The much-anticipated “Delete Series” has finally appeared, and works pretty quickly.

I haven’t checked the other problems to see if they’re fixed, but just these few things make the service a bit easier to live with.

Has anyone else seen improvements?

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