How long can ‘shrinkflation’ continue?

In a week where McVitie’s announced that a box of Jaffa Cakes would contain 10 rather than 12 cakes, I wonder how much longer ‘shrinkflation can continue?

Bottles of Coca-Cola have changed from 2l to 1.75l, Toblerone has bigger gaps between chunks, segments of a chocolate orange are now concave. Just put the prices up and leave the size/volume/shape alone.

There is going to be a point at which a product cannot be shrunk down. What then? Should we hand over some money for some empty packaging? Ultimately the customer will decide to either purchase the product in its smaller form or switch to another product.

I was at one point buying a premium brand of orange juice in a 1.5l bottle. This would just about last me a week and all was well. Currently the same product is 900ml, this does not last the week unless I consume less per serving. I don’t want to shrink the serving so I either buy a second 900ml bottle increasing my overall spend or switch brands. I switched to another brand and once again have 1.5l to drink.

Recipes are going to become a problem at some point. Look in a cookery book and it will tell you to add a tin of something or 500g of something else. The recipes were written with items being sold in quantities and sizes that have remained the same for many many years. If I have to open a second package to make up the shortfall I am likely to increase waste if I have no other use for the excess.

Only time will tell. I’ll be on the lookout for the next thing to shrink, but at the same time I’ll be on the look out for alternative brands to switch to.

Schedule Your Offers Properly

Like most people I receive various marketing offers via email. Mostly these get filtered out as spam. There are a few I tend to look at, one of which is for the supermarket offers. If I am doing a weekly shop it’s nice to know ahead of time if there is an offer I want to look out for.

Recently there have been offers relating to my loyalty card. To get certain offers I need to click a link in my email to activate them. Fine, it proves to the supermarket that I have read their email and seen the offers. It also increases the likelihood that I will visit the store and spend money with them.

The supermarket should know when I activate the email offers and should also know by use of my loyalty card when I do my shopping. So why on earth do they send an offer though in the early hours of the morning on the day I do my shop when I only activate email offers later in the evening?
I have missed out on an offer due to a badly timed email. Knowing I have missed out creates a bad feeling between me and the supermarket. Supermarkets should be building a loyal customer base and not irritating them.

A New Computer

This month I gave up on waiting and ordered the remaining parts for a new PC. The build process was as easy as expected. Having learnt my lesson of having to maintain a system over many years; I took my time when routing the cables around the case. The result is one of the tidiest case layouts I’ve ever put together. Less obstacles means cleaner airflow inside the case and less noise.

PWM fans are a must have item. This new pc has 9 fans in total all connected up. It is quieter than my old system with 5 fans. The difference is having fan headers on the motherboard to support additional fans with a PWM signal to control the fan speed. Slower fans means less noise. When they spin up under load I can hear them more but at idle I hardly know the system is on.

Now the negative. Why must everything be covered in LED’s? My motherboard can put on a light show in all the colours of the rainbow, why? I intend to be looking at the screen not inside the case. I’ve not colour matched my components, I chose the best specifications instead. The obsession people now have with the look of their pc internals is staggering. Manufacturers are now adding features just to make them look better. I don’t need my RAM slots to be illuminated. How much additional cost is this adding to my motherboard? LED’s don’t cost a lot but the time and effort that must go into routing the traces around the PCB won’t be insignificant. Luckily I can turn the main lighting off in the BIOS. I just have to contend with the remaining illuminated buttons and status indicators scattered about the board. I wish it had a stealth mode with them all off until it actually had the need to display an error message.

There still needs to be some tweaking done to the system to get it settled in but it’s an upgrade that should last me 5+ years all being well.

A Cat Sitting Service

Today a flyer arrived in my letter box offering a cat sitting service. A helpful service to some and I can understand the need for it. Then I saw the price. £8.50 per day for a single visit, £15 for 2 visits. Quite a lot for opening a door and putting food in a dish.

A week of visits (discounted) is still £100. If that wasn’t enough there was an option to get a daily video call at an extra cost.

At those prices no wonder people ask friends and family to look after their pets.

Bookmarks

I use Firefox as my web browser. I’ve been using it for years. During that time I have accumulated a huge amount of bookmarks. In being able to migrate my Firefox profile by copying it between machines and between installs my bookmarks have migrated too.
Some I can’t remember why I even bookmarked them in the first place.

I took the step over the past few days of exporting all my bookmarks and deleting all the ones stored in my browser. I now have a new starting point for which to accumulate some more.

My bad idea has been to start trying to organise my old bookmarks into some sort of list. What struck me is what utter rubbish is stored along with the original bookmark. The useful bit is the URL, in most cases this is accompanied by the title to the article or the site I wanted to bookmark. The less useful entries have information about the author looking for job opportunities, great long strings of text about other subject matter the site covered or generally unhelpful titles that don’t actually tell you what you bookmarked.

I should have taken the time to edit the bookmark entries at the time of saving them. It is never something I want to do at the time as it breaks my train of thought. It a habit that I am unlikely to change.

Trying to sort the bookmarks by subject area I notice that quite a few span multiple areas. Looking through the bookmarks I find that I have often researched topics. I’m thinking that in future it would be easier to gather stored bookmarks around these topics. In this way I can dispense with certain collections of bookmarks once I no longer have need of the topic.

I am regretting starting this process as progress has been slow. I am working through the list, checking that the links still work, seeing if they are still relevant, renaming and finally storing under a suitable category. Once completed I should be left with a nice list of topics that I can easily refer back to.

So far I am not missing the historical bookmarks in the browser.

Where is winter?

As the year draws to a close I am left wondering when winter is going to begin. A few cold days here and there and the odd light frost is all we have received. Where is the snow lying on the ground? Where are the slippery pavements coated in ice? I am going to need to source Christmas cards for next year without the winter scene, if this is they way things are going.

Planning Ahead

I probably look at the front page of this site more than most. I am starting to wonder if it needs a good refresh. Earlier in the year I began writing up some notes on my experiments with ARM development. During this process I ran into a few formatting issues that I worked around. It is still my plan to write up some more of my notes in the future but rather than fight against the current system I might try something new. The next version of WordPress is due out in December, this is probably the best place to start from. Years ago I used a heavily customised site but as WordPress moved on I began to rely more on the templates generated by others. They are good building blocks as they handle the responsive design aspects. I think some more customisation from me might on the cards this time.

Alexa

This week I have taken delivery of an Amazon Echo, a voice controlled speaker. Why did I purchase it? One of my reasons is that I have wanted an entertainment device in the kitchen, the Echo is a hands free streaming radio. The audio quality is good enough for the environment and at half volume is plenty loud enough.

I wanted to time my cooking of a pizza, I set the timer with my voice. The Echo alerted me once the timer expired. This morning I walked in and asked for a weather report, I listened whilst I opened the curtains.

I’m still getting used to calling out to “Alexa” but its suprising how easily it is beginning to fit in to my life. It allows me to multitask in the moments where I have my hands full.

The only limitation so far has been the microphone. It doesn’t pick up well when the kettle is boiling. I’m guessing it generates too much white noise. Microphone pickup is generally good otherwise.

6400K

Since my previous desk lamp suffered from structural failure I have been using a small LED based lamp. It hasn't been the same. In part down to the reduced height casting light over a much smaller area. My main grumble has been that the light was too warm and yellow. If I am working on a project not only do I want light spread all over my work area but I also light that I can use to read and see detail. Using a tall second hand fluorescent lamp, my workspace was significantly more illuminated than with the short LED lamp. The fluorescent lamp had a colour temperature of 2700K, putting it at the warm end of the spectrum.It didn't have the right feel about it, it was too comforting and relaxing. Changing the lamp to one of 6400K generated a much cooler, whiter light. Perfect for what I need.

Such a harsh light is not the most relaxing thing to be using late in the evening but it can be turned off. It is all about balance. I want cool white light for working and warmer yellow light for relaxing. Being able to do a direct comparison between 2700K and 6400K certainly opened my eyes to the difference a lamp can make. I will probably need another task lamp in the near future and I will certainly be looking for lamps in the 6400K region.

A New Keyboard

Corsair K70 Keyboard Image

Over the last couple of weeks I have been using my new keyboard, a Corsair K70 (Cherry MX Blue Switches, Red Backlighting). I had been eyeing up a mechanical keyboard for some time; putting off the purchase due to cost. Finally one of my considered options appeared on offer and I finally parted with some cash.

My past couple of keyboards have been from Logitech. The MX3100 Cordless Desktop had served me well from around 2004 until the present. I dabbled with a K270 in 2012 but the spongy feel soon caused me to swap back.

The K70 is solid, it doesn't flex or slide across the desk. The back light will take a little getting used to but can be turned off. The MX Blue switches themselves feel lighter to the touch than I was perhaps expecting. This is no bad thing. The clickyness did worry me slightly as I had originally intended to get the MX Brown switches. The click is noticeable but hardly a problem.

Based on some reviews of the Cherry MX switches I purchased some o'rings to fit to the keys (to stop them bottoming out noisily). The sound of the keys bottoming out didn't really bother me. When trying a few keys with the o'rings fitted I found that I didn't like the reduction in key travel and removed them.

On the whole I like the K70. If I get a decade or more usage out of it like the MX3100 I will be very happy indeed.