14th of April, 2006

I am pleased to say that I now have a new item available to buy. This happens to be the MTI 0.3db Universal LNB that you can see on my LNBs page if you scroll down a bit. The Invacom LNBs are at the top and the MTI LNBs just below those.

Stocking these LNBs proved to be somewhat unexpected. What I mean is that since the stock of my Invacom 0.3db Universal LNB was getting low then I placed an order with my wholesaler to obtain some more. And as things turned out then they sent me the wrong LNBs and where this order with them is now pending correction.

Anyway, I did consider having this wholesaler take them back and to send me the right LNBs, but after some thinking about it I decided to stock this MTI 0.3db LNB as my sixth supported LNB type. The reason for this is that the Invacom 0.3db LNBs sure are an excellent LNB with a great build quality, but these days there are lower cost 0.3db LNBs available. So it was a simple case of recognizing that by supporting this LNB type I could tap into both the high quality and best value 0.3db LNB markets.

And as you can see the MTI 0.3db Universal LNB at just £11.50 is certainly excellent value for a 0.3db Universal LNB. In fact I had a good look around at other supplier's prices, where I can say that out of all suppliers I have seen then I do have the lowest final order total. To be more exact then my delivered price, including postage and VAT, to a UK address is £15.86 and where the closest rival price I saw was £15.90. Not that much difference but my price won due to this other supplier charging £4.50 on postage while I charge just £2.

Even though this other supplier did not change VAT, and had a close item price, then this better order total due to a saving in the postal price should clearly highlight that my company really is aimed not to profit off of the postal cost. So when comparing prices between companies then don't forget to check the postal price, when I certainly know that orders placed through my company get good value due to my low postal prices. Hell, just today I dispatched an order off to Australia that did not cost that much more than this rival supplier's UK delivery price on that one item.

In case you are wondering why my MTI 0.6db LNB weighs 227g, while this new MTI 0.3db LNB weighs more at 272g, which I guess is unlikely, then that would be due to the fact that this MTI 0.3db LNB now comes in a box.

Also it is interesting to note that manufacturers these days are starting to include an additional manufacturer’s warranty. These new MTI 0.3db ones come with a 3 year warranty, while the latest version of the Invacom LNBs comes with a 5 year warranty.

In my view this warranty is rather pointless. As if your LNB can survive the first week, where I have yet to see an exception, then these LNBs are likely to outlive you. After all it has no moving parts and they have already been well designed to handle temperature extremes. Cold weather, including snow and ice, is in fact good for them.

Well a warranty is better than no warranty I guess. Just don't put too much value into it when if your LNB really dies of natural causes I would be so shocked that I would be likely to send you a free replacement anyway. :-]

The only other stock issues to mention is that I got in more SEASON3 yesterday and that I have been busy finding a good supplier to provide the new version of my USB2SER device. My conclusion for the USB2SER is that one manufacturer in Hong Kong offers a good model and a good price. I have been trying to contact them concerning trade prices and postage discounts, but I have received no reply yet. In any case I may soon place an order when their stated prices are acceptable and they may suddenly wake up and see that someone wants to buy these in large volumes.

Getting these in will be pleasing in any case. Not to forget that one customer already wants to buy one for use with his ordered SEASON3 it seems. And maybe this time around I will actually complete that description and include this item fully in my Cables (Computer) page.

What new item I will stock next depends on what my wholesalers next send me by mistake. Or at least I can only hope not when much of my working life often involves getting suppliers, wholesalers, and other people, doing what they should be doing. That reminds me to soon get back to Hitachi about this replacement HDD, when unlike their assumption that total capacity really won't grow by the missing 0.1 GB

I think it would have been better just to buy a new HDD to replace that broken one, when getting a suitable replacement from Hitachi has consumed many weeks so far. I made clear to them to send me a replacement HDD that would go into my RAID 1+0 array, but no they send me one that is 0.1 GB too small to hold the required mirror and stripe data.

Well that one will be sorted out when they check their technical specification and remember to respond to my e-mail to them.

The only other thing to mention is that my Fluval Filter Hoses arrived as expected recently. Installing them was fun when I had an unexpected caller arrive one week earlier than stated and where removing the old hoses and putting on the ribbed ones made for quite a flood over the kitchen floor. Well it is quite hard to fill up two three meter long hoses with water when you previously broke the priming stick that used to handle that very function. And as these rubber ends are not as tight as the old version then being a little too rough on it lead to a disconnection and a three meter long flood of water over the kitchen floor.

I have yet to drill the hole to fully install the intake pipe. This job I am spending a while contemplating when making a one inch diameter hole in thin metal is not usually a job for a drill. I could just knock out a hole, but that may lead to bent metal and sharp edges. A nice circular hole with a taped edge would be ideal, but the "how?" is not so clear. Maybe I am making too much fuss over it, but I want to make a nice tight hole to minimise water evaporation.

I am pleased to say that with these new hoses I installed my spray bar. Well except that being under the water means that it does not yet spray. It does however create quite a powerful water flow, when the water goes across the top, down the front, and the along the bottom of the aquarium.

The fish have not been too happy with this high water flow, but they are getting used to it. What is most interesting is that this circular water flow, combined with the blast from my Fluval 2 filter the other end of the aquarium, turns this circular flow into a corkscrew flow. And best of all at the far end of that flow is my Fluval 404 Intake Strainer, which means that the intake of waste into my Fluval 404 has much increased since the spray bar was added, when now the water flow is more ordered than random.

It is almost a shame to soon move the intake pipe, but then I desire to fully close the lid to minimise the water evaporation.

My collection of fish food, plant food and testing kits arrived recently. Seeing that I only paid £1.04 for all these items then my fish are happy eating their higher quality food, while I test the water quality of my two aquariums. So I can report that Nitrite and Ammonia levels are minimal, as expected, but the Nitrate level is also doing well on about 25. I was expecting higher Nitrate levels due to the number of fish, but I guess that my lush plant growth is paying off. The 25 level is still slightly high, but since I have seen levels of over 150 in the past, then I am quite happy with 25. And from the recent snail population explosion then all signs point to my aquarium water doing very well.

The only water problem is the common one that the calcium in my local water supply makes for very hard water. This is unhelpful for planet growth and fish breeding. I can get rid of the calcium and produce soft water through boiling and filtering the water. That is a damned lot of work and energy for two aquariums though. This filtered water is great for drinks though, when this calcium normally produces water with a 7.2pH. That makes the water taste a little bitter, but boiling and filtering restores the water to 7.0 pH, where your average cup of tea tastes a lot better as a result.

In any case a R.O unit would also fix that problem with a lot less energy and work consumption.

The last thing to mention is that my Altoids arrived here more recently as well. Four tins from Yolonda in San Francisco and one tin from a UK source all arrived on the same day. They certainly do have a strong taste, but I guess I liked them when all five 50g tins are now empty.

As you should be aware then this weekend is the Easter holiday. That means that following the dispatch yesterday then no more orders will be dispatched until the next postal collection on Tuesday. I guess it was fortunate that all orders that could be dispatched yesterday were dispatched yesterday, even if I had to rush around soldering card readers on to these SEASON3 devices. I only have two remaining orders here, where one wants that USB2SER and the other wants some ex-stock cards. I was hoping to dispatch that second order yesterday, but my supplier of these cards only supplied three of the five ordered types.

Anyway, enjoy this Easter break, if indeed you do take an Easter break. Take a look around, relax, and maybe buy some stuff. And just maybe you will think that my low price on this MTI 0.3db LNB will make you want to upgrade your older LNB.

4th of April, 2006

I can now report that my automatic order forms have now been updated to the latest Royal Mail postal prices that came into force just yesterday. This update has to be done about twice a year when my order forms do a true postage calculation based on the gross weight of each item including extra packaging in order to minimise your own postage charge.

Other companies just usually pick a single high figure to cover all orders. This one charge, or even crude banding, normally means that if you order a small item from them, then you will end up paying more postage than what you really should have. In the case of my company though you are almost guaranteed to see that the actual used postage charge falls in the range of what you paid. For example if you paid £4 in postage then £3.77 could be the actual postage cost with the remaining £0.23 paying for the packaging and dispatch.

Not to forget that in 10% of cases I will allow my postage charge to you to be less than the actual postage cost. I doubt that any other company would be willing do this, but I thought that rounding the value up to the next £1 was unfair if the real postage cost was just slightly over the previous £1 range.

In any case the latest postal prices are now on-line. The next change comes on the 21st of August and I can already tell you now that this next change I certainly will not look forwards to dealing with. The reason for this is that the Royal Mail until this coming August has always set prices based on the package weight, where from August onwards they will now band mail based on their size as well for letters and packets going to UK destinations.

This is a nice idea until it comes to trying to make an accurate forecast of the true postage value. What I mean is that I am sure that my order forms would need to develop human level artificial intelligence to figure out how all my item types can be wedged together to see if this order will fit in one size of mailing bag or not.

I will no doubt work out something in the end. However, my first observation tells me to completely ignore the thickness of the package aspect, when anyone trying to see if their package is less than 5mm thick, less than 25mm thick, or greater than 25mm thick is working on insanity.

So grouping packages into C5+ (240mm x 165mm) or under, B4 (353mm x 250mm) or under, and above B4 is workable from a dispatch point of view. This however helps little in terms of making a pre-estimate of what one of these three bands your order will fall in, when say a few wafer cards can easily do the C5+ letter class, but my DSEND video sender system is clearly in the largest packet class.

I guess that my best option in all this is to ignore the dimension aspect completely. I guess that I can also ignore the C5+ letter class when that only has a 100g limit anyway, where using the large letter B4 class can cover these same 100g within the same £1 range anyway. And with only two groupings left I can use the large letter B4 class up to 750g, when that is its maximum weight anyway, while anything above 750g can use the largest packet class.

So I think that I can work something out, even if in some cases it won't be accurate. For example between 501g and 750g in the middle large letter B4 class would cost £1.20, but this same weight range in the packet class would cost 80p more at £2. And so when I do merge these two size ranges together then I will have to keep an eye out for items that violate this under 750g range and adjust this 80p difference in the item prices directly.

So it seems that my order forms can just about survive this major postage calculation change, even if they won't be nearly as accurate as the ones on-line today. In any case you should be able to see how I am always working hard to make sure that my loyal customers pay no more in postage than what they really need to.

Some other news is that this month will certainly break my last business recovery gross income record set back in February, when March did well but was unable to exceed February. So already it is clear to see in these early days of April that there will be a sizable gain over February by the end of this month. This is all good news when I am still aiming for that record breaking 20 times business income increase that I hope to set in November or not long following.

I can also say that this extra income is helping to increase the strength of my company, which will help to support new and popular products. And by next week I should have the new version of the USB2SER in stock, when one customer seems insistent to have one, where this item has not been important to sort out until now.

Supporting new and popular products will of course assist in future expansion.

Moving on into more personal matters then my box of sweets arrived here on Thursday. I was quite surprised by this delivery as it happened, when I paid this supplier £10 postage for slow 3 to 5 day Standard Parcel postage, but this box arrived after just two days. So this quick delivery falls in the lower end of 1st class delivery. I can only think that either the Royal Mail made a mistake in this case, or this shipment just got very lucky.

I am happy and full of sugar in any case.

The next item I have been buying recently is some Altoids sweets that come in a tin. This makes for an interesting story when they had some of these in the TV series My Name is Earl that I have been watching recently. And since I heard that these Altoids were made here in the UK, where you cannot buy them in the UK, then I had a quick look to see if they had some Altoids on eBay. Sure enough they did where after giving into temptation I purchased some at the best price I could find. Interestingly enough I did not notice that this was not a UK supplier to begin with, when only later did I discover that this seller was in San Francisco, USA.

This is a point when things get a little interesting, when San Francisco is the fictional home of the TV series Charmed as well. Not to mention that the latest South Park 10x02 "Smug Alert!" episode, that I had watched only hours before, contained mention that San Francisco contained the population that was the most smug in America. However, the final aspect that makes this purchase interesting is that my supplier in San Francisco has the first name of Yolonda. And I am sorry to say that I have always found this name somewhat humorous ever since I first heard it mentioned on the TV Series FireFly. So in this one purchase I had linked together four TV series in some slightly humorous ways.

I will now wait for Yolonda's Altoids package to arrive here.

My main purchase recently was to just replace the hoses on my Fluval 404 aquarium filter with the latest ribbed and flexible kind that will allow for better connection to my aquarium. Not to forget my currently unused Fluval Spray Bar. You may think that at the cost of £16.50 plus £4 postage that this was quite high for 2 x three meters of ribbed piping. However, this pack also contains 3 bags of filter carbon, 3 bags of ceramic hex filter media, and most importantly all taps and suckers to go on the end of these two pipes. That last aspect made this a must have purchase, when buying all those bits one by one would have proved expensive. I can also sell on the filter media, when I do not need it anyway, and where this could well recover much of the cost anyway.

So hopefully later this week I can get this Fluval 404 fully installed in this aquarium, even if I will have to drill a couple of one inch diameter holes in this fairly new and already well cut up aquarium hood.

The only other thing to mention about this Fluval 404 is that I broke the priming stick. As on this filter there is this stick that you move up and down to remove the air from the pipes before you start it up. And due to removing these pipes from the aquarium each night then each morning I had a lot of air to pump out. And so just a couple of days ago I was giving this priming stick a good hard bashing to get all the air out where this plastic stick broke in the middle. Fortunately it is possible to buy a new priming stick and to replace it, which I will do soon enough, and then be more careful in the future.

The last thing to mention is that I have been trying to buy some more eSHa Aqua Quick Test strips recently to keep an eye on this aquarium water quality while this new filter goes through the NO2 and NO3 cycle. That is a good method to normally kill your fish, but to avoid that possibly my second filter is operating at the same time to process this fish killing Ammonia and Nitrite.

Anyway, since buying one of these 25 strip kits costs like £10 each, then one person selling his second hand fish stuff in an eBay auction caught my attention. As beyond what he mentioned was 30 strips left of my common water testing strips, there was also 60 plus strips of Nutrafin Ammonia water tester for NH3 and NH4 (Ammonia), a fully sealed 25g tub of Aquarian Tropical Flake Food, a half full tub of CatFish small sinking pellets, a pack of 10 root tabs + iron, a nearly full tub of La Carte fish food consisting of dried blood worms and catfish pellets, 1/3rd left of a bottle of MelaFix antibacterial remedy (to cure what I do not yet know), and finally a small amount of leaf zone plant food.

In other words all these items together, even if partly used, would cost around £40 to £60. You could say that I was somewhat surprised then when I won this auction for just £1.04. The only other person bidding on this auction bid the minimum value of £0.99, which meant my automatic bid three seconds from auction close pushed this up to the next level of £1.04, even if I would have paid more if there was actually any real bidding interest on this auction. The additional postage on this auction was a slightly high £6.80, making for £7.84 in total, but I can still get my test strips, and the desired fish food and more, for less than the new test strip price. I would call that good value and a lucky auction win.

Anyway, beyond replacing my Fluval 404 priming stick, and maybe getting that second light starter unit, not to forget the additional timer plugs, then I am done with my aquarium purchasing for now.