29th of January 2002
Do not forget that after today there is only two days left before my December / January Special Offers (ELVIS & STEALTH) are no more. This is just enough time for European customers to get their order here, when inter-EU postage normally takes two days.
Then again as it can also take three days, then seeking a fast postal method is strongly advised.
Naturally the last dispatch day for UK orders in order to reach me by Thursday is tomorrow, but this is not the time to think about 2nd class postage or a late in the day dispatch. So if you dispatch an order to me tomorrow and wish to take advantage of a Special Offer, then the next day Special Delivery option is the only way to go in order to guarantee safe receipt here on the last day possible.
Well you have had two months now and so on Friday a new Special Offer will be here and these now two old ones will soon be gone forever.
For those really in a rush then do forget that there are other ways to pay me, which does not involve sending your order to me through the post.
First of all UK customers can use my on-line NoChex or PayHound payment options right up to midnight on the 31st, when you order will be with me in time. Now while immediate payment is preferred in order to allow people enough time to open an account and pay me, then as long as I received your order before the clock strikes the 1st of February here in the UK, then you have up to 14 days following receipt of your order in order to send me payment.
This means that if you place an on-line order, then payment for this order can be received up to as late as the 14th of February. So for UK customers this is one way to have your order in before it is just too late.
Now for all customers there is a second option when you can send me your order by e-mail, but then pay for your order with a direct transfer to my bank account. And as these days I have bank accounts in both Sterling and the Euro, then this option is now more European friendly.
However don't forget that your e-mail requesting this payment option MUST be received by No2 before midnight on the 31st, where you then have the usual 14 day limit in order to send the payment. Still don't forget that you should also mention when you have issued the payment.
The final option is to visit my house (aka global mega-store), which is the only address listed on every page of this site, and to directly pick one up. Now while arranging a collection is certainly the ideal way to do it, on the 31st I will allow an exception.
So on this one day only for the hours between 09:00 to 24:00 you can drop by unannounced and collect one of my two Special Offers directly. And to remind you of the amount due when collecting, then the end cost of the ELVIS Special Offer is £57.57, while the STEALTH would be £92.82.
However don't even think about buying any other items at this time, when the only reason I allow this collection exception is because since the order is ready and the total known, then you can be served and gone in just a couple of minutes.
And so if you need to buy anything else, then that is what arranging a collection is for, but please remember that we at least need 24 hours notice before collecting.
So if you want to order and pay on-line, by e-mail and bank transfer, or come and pick one up one minute before midnight, then here are the details so that you can do so.
Well at the end of the day if you need a card programmer, then I would consider you totally insane if you did not take up this ELVIS Special Offer. When not only is it the best and most popular card programmer around, this without doubt is the best value offer you will ever find on this model.
So I have now told you, but if you are really that nuts, then well you cannot blame me for not warning you.
Moving on to to other news (that can only pale by comparison), then as I dispatched my Euros to my bank yesterday, then today I was pleased to see my Euro Bank Account balance increase. As this was by the total of my Euro Cash amount, then my bank being able to handle Euro Cash by post has now been confirmed.
The single Euro Cheque I included has not appeared yet, but then I seem to recall that this will take a couple of days to do so. And so I will sit and wait for this Euro Cheque total to appear, but I seem to recall that it can take a while for this amount to he debited from my customer's account.
Anyway upon seeing the Euro Cheque total as well, then my Euro payment system can be declared fully functional, which is what I expected to begin with.
Now I just have to figure out where to spend my Euros using my debit card, but this I guess won't be at all hard even if it will take a while yet before I have me enough Euros for large trade orders.
I noticed that in one customer's order from Australia today he was not too pleased about my buy rate, but as I will explain there is little that I can do about that.
First of all when I first moved to using the buy rate, then from actual experimentation I discovered that the buy rate used by the place I always exchange my currencies at varies by currency at between 5 to 10% above that of the actual exchange rate.
And so for that reason my foreign currency converter starts with the actual true currency rate and then adds on 7% to adjust for the buy rate. That means that the total you pay when converted to Sterling will always be quite close to the actual order total.
In this case this £101 order total was when converted back using the direct exchange rate was worth £111, which was all of £10 above the order value.
Now as 10% is all of 3% over what is already accounted for, then naturally 1% of this was my £1 handling and conversion charge. Another £1.27 was lost due to the end rounding, when the Australian value was slightly over the 15% allowed, which meant that it was rounded up to this next 5 AUS$.
The remaining sub 1% was simply due to this every changing exchange rate, but don't forget that when it comes time to convert it to Sterling, then this exchange rate may not work in my favour.
And so in this case this customer was a little unlucky, but in the end even with this rounding the end total will still be quite close to his order total.
Sure even I would like to be able to do something about the 7% buy rate, but as you just cannot spend AUS$ around these parts, then the company who I exchange it through would make themselves around £7 from this currency transfer.
The only other possibility is that Citibank does supply free foreign currency bank accounts in another 9 currencies (excluding obsolete ones like the French Franc) apart from my already owned Sterling and Euro accounts. And that means that as Australian Dollar is one of them, then I could certainly accept AUS$ just like I do with the Euro.
Now while direct exchange rates is certainly nice to have, the problem here is that I just cannot spend AUS$ around these parts. And so the only other possibility is to buy items in Australia, but then I just don't know any Australian suppliers and shipping from Australia is kind of expensive.
So while I cannot spend AUS$ and get good value, then l simply cannot receive AUS$ like that.
The only third currency that I am considering is naturally the US$, when here at least I already buy items in US$ from both the US and Canada. However as the US is not a hot supply area, then I do not yet see the need, when there seems a thing about US personal checks (cheques) as well.
I have yet to figure out why US personal checks are often not accepted, but the reason why I accept the Euro is that I live not that many miles from France, but Ireland and other Euro countries is not that far away either. And that means that spending Euro is not a problem at all, when even the UK could one day join Euro Land.
And so while being able to accept cash and cheques in all 11 currencies may be a nice dream, the problem is that this is no good if I just have to convert this to Sterling at the end of the day.
Since I have me some Euros in my account, then I will soon see how much Citibank change to convert these extra currencies to Sterling and then back again. From what I hear that is more on the extreme side, but if this is below 7% then that offers possible advantages.
That means that if my quick Euro test shows more positive signs, then that would equal big time research into how much transfer from US$ and AUS$ would cost. When above 7% is a big no, 5% to 7% is not much of an advantage to make it worthwhile, 2 to 5% is something that I could pass on to my customers, but below 2% (ideally 1%) could be a case of direct exchange rate support.
I am doubting that Citibank is that generous, but if I can accept true exchange rate payments in all of 11 different currencies, then a low charge when converting to Sterling is a good way to do it.
Even my order form could have a currency selection option, but as I would not want to mix currency displays with on-line payment services in the wrong currency, then that is why it is a good idea to have one order form page per currency.
Then finding on-line payment services that I could link to my account would be a nightmare, but at least PayPal sounds more interesting. As the problem with them that dealing in US$ is no good when I need Sterling, but if I had a US$ account, then I would have to carefully look into their charges.
So PayPal to a US$ account has much more possibility than with PayPal to a Sterling account. Well I am looking into it, even if payment in the US$ is not nearly as popular as either the Euro or AUS$.
At the end of the day these services just may not like dealing with payments in business volumes, but even having to withdraw a service at short notice is better than no service to begin with.
Anyway, my Euro testing is currently going well, which is pleasing to see now that this is my first real month of accepting it at the true exchange rate. I don't see any chance of adding a direct third currency support yet, but that depends on how generous or greedy Citibank is.
Well as it is their service, then I guess they can change me whatever they please, but then naturally I won't be opening any third or fourth account with them.
As mentioned I am already starting to look into it, but don't forget more important matters are currently at hand, which is of course is my once only ELVIS Special Offer.
28th of January 2002
Well I have now updated the item pictures for the Diplexers, DiSEqC Devices, Logger/Emulator, Power Suppliers and Remote Control Pages. Also I have since improved the images on the Cables page when my first attempt seemed quite dark.
That means that six pages are now done, but with seven more pages to be updated when I find the time.
Today from among all the orders I received through the post I received in one order each from customers in France, Ireland and Italy. And naturally as all these countries now live in Euro Land, then I was eager to see what payment they had included.
The first order of France had included yet more freshly printed Euro cash to help boost my growing collection, which seems to be the most common payment method from customers in Euro Land so far.
Moving on to Ireland then one of my regular customers had sent me more Sterling Cash, which left me thinking "Hey you should be sending me your own currency". True that paying in Sterling or the Euro equals the exact same value, but I just guess this customer had the Sterling to send me.
Still that gets me thinking when the majority of my customers in the Republic of Ireland has in the past paid me in Sterling, which is either in Cash, by Cheque, or one of those Sterling Bank Drafts (an oversized Cheque).
Sure I have received quite a lot of Irish Punts as well, but as paying using that method has always cost more, then I have always believed that Sterling was a better payment option for those that had it.
However as now both Sterling and the Euro goes head to head in an equal race, then you just have to wonder why someone who can pay me in their natural Euro chooses to pay me in Sterling instead. No doubt that would be because he had it, but then the question of why comes up.
So I will keep a watch out for this Irish situation, when now that Sterling and the Euro is equal, then this could show how much Sterling has infected Ireland. Sure near the border of Northern Ireland (part of the UK) having Sterling would be more common, but this was Bank of England notes and not the other Sterling versions for the Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank, and whatever else they have in Northern Ireland that I cannot quite recall at this second.
Those other Sterling versions do not seem to leave the UK much, when it is all Bank of England notes received from non-UK customers. Still that is a reminder that if it has Sterling written on it, then the bank of England is only one of several Banks in the UK to print this stuff.
Naturally up in Scotland they have the Royal Bank of Scotland and the Clydesdale Bank for example, but for non-UK customers it is worth remembering that like with the Euro in Euro Land, here in the UK Sterling currency is valid over all parts of the UK.
All these banks makes me wonder if I should set up the Bank of Cardman, but I am sure that there are lots of laws to prevent me printing money. Still as in England we only have one bank printing money, then we seem to be a long way behind the number of banks that Scotland and Northern Ireland has.
Still as even this money can be confusing to us the other end of the UK, then I usually stick it in my bank where they send it back to the correct part of the UK. However even though some citizens can falsely consider it like foreign currency, then just reminding them that it is Sterling and does come from the UK will always work.
I suppose that I should really spread it around more, when only this lack of people seeing these other Sterling versions causes this problem in the first place. Anyway, as I have seen every possible form of Sterling due to my customers all over the UK, then I don't even have to look at it twice.
However it was not that many years ago that I thought "So they have banks printing money in Northern Ireland do they", but then Maidstone is a long way from the other countries in the UK.
Moving on, then I was most pleased to see that the third order from Italy had included a Euro currency cheque. Sure I have seen several of those before, but this is just what I need to give my Euro account a test run.
So today I will send to my bank this Euro cheque and some Euro cash, which will then ensure that they do not have any problems accepting either type. Naturally they should not, when this test is just to make 100% sure, but say my method of paying in Euro cash is not on their recommended list.
Anyway, that does not really matter, when it is easy enough to find suppliers who want to relieve me of my Euro cash in exchange for hardware, but paying this cash into my Euro account will make that supplier payment easier using my Debit card.
The one thing not to do is to exchange this Euro to Sterling, when every method I know about would cause that money to lose value. Well I will have to look up what UK suppliers now accept the Euro (at the the true exchange rate), when most of my suppliers are in the UK.
Still I suppose selling my Euros to those people off to Euro Land is another option, but it could be an idea to see what shops around here accept them. That would be a pain however, when I would have to monitor that they do use the correct exchange rate.
Well I plan for now to put them in my bank, where it is then a lot easier to ensure that my suppliers charge me the correct amount.
As today is Monday, then that reminds me to update my own Euro currency rate, where this weekly update will always keep my Euro prices accurate enough.
Time to go do that and then back to my item scanning.
One last thing is that don't forget that my ELVIS Special Offer expires in just 4 days time, which means that anyone wanting ELVIS should do so with ultra haste. As since your order must arrive by the 31st of this month at the latest, then using postal options like next day Special Delivery is now advised.
Must be here by the 31st or no free SEASON2 and GOLD2 card, but I will keep this offer open until midnight on the 31st for those that choose to order on-line. Well this two month Special Offer is now over, which means that I already know what the February Special Offer will be.
That of course means that you will only find out what that is in February.
26th of January 2002
As I received my Black Widow 1248 Pro flatbed scanner yesterday from the second supplier, then currently I am in the process of updating all the on-site item photos.
Since this scanner supports 3D scanning, then this direct scanning achieves a perfect focus every time. And as I have now completed the Cables page, then you can see for yourself that this perfect focus both includes flat and 3D items.
If I had known about direct scanning ages ago, then I would never have bought several cameras, spent many days, lots of hard work, and lots of rolls of film in the attempt of trying to take the perfect photograph.
For as I have seen that was extremely difficult and mostly due to luck, but now with a 3D flatbed scanner I have in just one day scanned 23 items to perfect focus.
The only problem with such a scanner is that the default black background sucks big time, when this extreme black void does not help to show off the items. And that is why when scanning these items I put some white colour packing material on top of them, when this provides a background with some texture.
Ok so I would prefer a wood effect, but unlike with my previous photographs using a heaving section of left over kitchen work surface is just not an option. When for a start putting such a heavy item on my scanner would break both the scanner and the item I was scanning.
So as I could find no thin light wood effect, then I just grabbed the first light weight flat object that came to hand. And as you can see that was a piece of foam packing material, which I mainly decided to used just to test a background, but after testing I then thought that looks fine.
The only problem so far is that the further the object is away from the surface of the scanner the darker it gets, which you can see for yourself when this white background gets darker the further away it is.
I will have to try adding a third layer to this setup, when trapping the light from the scanner should help to increase the background brightness. What type I will have to see, when I can try black cloth, reflective cloth, or I have seen a whole clear plastic and expensive device to do the same.
Well that is only needed for the more bulky items, when as you can see anything more flat than a 10 meter cable turns out totally perfect. I suppose that the colour and brightness can be a bit off, but compared to my previous photographs that is still a huge improvement.
I done the cables page first when that had six items already needing a photo to go with them, but as I added my new Digital Coaxial Cables to that page, then there is now a total of eight unseen items that you can go and look at.
It is pleasing that I can now show off these great Printer Cables. As apart from their good build quality and long length, these Printer Cables could be sold based on their great colours alone. So now that people can actually see them, then I should sell a few more.
Then when I get around to my Programmer page, then I may finally add the BUILD5 model. Well actually I already did, but you know who stole my computers before I could upload it. And so that event has been set back at least 3 months, which includes my LNBs page, and the three pages under the Special Offers section.
Well as I am certainly not going to rewrite all that lot, then I may just stick the three items that would have been on my LNB page by now on the Other Items page. And at least I will add a brief technical description, when the entire testing and full description is already on my unavailable LNB page.
As people have a habit of only buying items when I have a photo to show them, then at least I would sell many more, when these items would be up to a normal site's description level. Well as it takes me hours to write new sections and days to write new pages, then I currently do not have days to spare.
What I am currently spending days on is to update every item photo on this site, when it is plain to see that my scanner can do in seconds what I hardly managed to achieve in years. Well all this time I had thought that you would need a professional photographer to get pictures that good, but only when I was looking into buying a flatbed scanner did I discover this direct scan secret.
This scanner is going to be damned useful as well for when I get in a new item, when I can have it scanned, a description wrote, and uploaded in only one or two hours. As that sure beats my old method, when I would need to wait until near the end of February just to find a suitable sunny day.
So as I have now solved the mystery of the perfect item photo, then now I can spend time figuring out how to get the perfect colour and overall brightness from it. And after the major problems I had with photographs, then getting the most out of my scanner is bound to be easy.
Well I will look into that once I have updated all the pages, when this is only really needed for the weaker (darker) scans like with the scart cables.
Anyway, back now to sticking stuff in my scanner and then sticking the scans on-line, when the new pages will be here once I have scanned all the items for that page. So I will now go do that, while you can go and check out my Cables page.
Don't forget the new Digital Coaxial Cables near the bottom of that page, but it is worth browsing my other pages and seeing what other ones I have completed.
Oh yes and before I forget, then do not overlook that you can click on any of the item pictures and bring up the big version.
22nd of January 2002
Today I have all good news, except that I forgot to update my Euro currency rate between Sunday evening and Monday morning as I should ideally do each week. However I have now updated the Euro rate from 1.6207 to the new rate of 1.6133, which for a change makes my Euro prices less for once.
The most important good news today is for my ELVIS customers, when very recently the MP8 Beta software has been released. This for a change you can download from my site just by clicking here, which will help to speed up this download.
The thing to know about this new Windows based software is that it is a total rewrite of this MP program, when the last MP7 Beta version was abandoned due to the fact that the programming language of Delphi had some faults.
This meant that while using Delphi no support for these modern PIC16F628, PIC16F877 and Atmel based cards could be added. This meant that this software author (Henrik) has to rewrite this program in C++ (I think) in order to add support for these new cards.
And that is why this new MP8 Beta version now allows you to program Atmel based cards like my PURPLE card under Windows. However before you delete your MP6 or MP7 Beta version, then as this version can only currently program Atmel based cards and EEPROMs, then you will still need to use these previous versions for important things like programming the humble GOLD card.
However fear not when the entire array of PIC based cards and microcontrollers will be added in a later version of this MP8 Beta software. And as I have been waiting for over a year for PIC16F628 card programming (and now PIC16F877 as well) under Windows, then I will keep a close watch for when PIC support is added.
As adding PIC support should simply require converting the Delphi code, then that should not take too long, but you never can tell when he instead may wish to rewrite it all.
Also as you will see this new version totally lacks project support, which is a vital aspect if card and chip programming is to be done as fast as possible. As being about to program say GOLD, GREEN, SILVER and PURPLE cards one after the other with two clicks each would be highly desirable.
So it remains to be seen just what the end MP8 software will look like, but who cares when this latest beta version seems long overdue due to this rewrite. And naturally if it could be better, then that can always be fixed in the MP9 version.
No doubt I will eventually have to update my ELVIS description on my Programmers page in order to add a whole load of new features and chip support, but what those are I cannot yet say, when that can often depend on what he thinks off next and tests.
Well the one good thing to know about ELVIS is that if any new card type appears like this latest PIC16F877 + 24LC128 type, then you can rest assured that ELVIS will certainly support it.
Anyway for all those Funcard and Funcard wafer (PURPLE) users, then now you can program your cards under Windows without having to instead use the DOS based DOSPROG software.
Now while I am on the ELVIS subject, then don't forget that there is now only 9 days left in my ELVIS special offer. And as I can promise you that there is no better ELVIS offer around anywhere, then you would be crazy to miss this one time only offer.
And so tell everyone you meet (even if you have never met them before) that if they want ELVIS, then now is certainly the time to buy one. As you certainly will never find a better offer from any supplier at any time in the future, which is not to mention that I doubt that I would be able to make such a good ELVIS offer ever again.
Even after 16 months I still believe that ELVIS is the best programmer around, when I have yet to see any other model match its ease of use and huge support for both cards and chip. Sure these days they can certainly try, but as I have said before ELVIS seems to achieve a new level for card programmers.
Well anyway even if you already own ELVIS I would at least request that you think about if you have need or not for a second one. As requiring a second one is not that uncommon if you have friends lacking such a good card programmer and always seem to want to borrow your one.
Anyway the point of all this is that my ELVIS offer lasts but 9 days more, which means that ELVIS orders arriving on the 10th day will be receiving no free SEASON2 or GOLD2 card. And in case your wondering about my special offer for February, then that as usual you will only discover on the 1st of that month, but I can assure you that it won't involve ELVIS or my second special offer item of STEALTH.
Today I also received my very first order payments through the PayHound system, when it seems that PayHound has been quite slow opening new accounts. As in that case some people cannot wait and send me payments through other methods.
So after checking on the time it took for these first two PayHound payment orders, then it seems that 8 to 10 days is the current time it takes to fully open a PayHound account. I will soon contact PayHound and see if they can speed this up (a transfer to your account delay), but in this case the sooner you apply for an account, then the sooner you will have your one fully activated.
I expect that this payment option will soon be getting very popular, when many accounts for this new payment option are now being activated. Still I wish that I had a similar Euro payment system, but if you have read my previous news on MinutePay, then that feature is for the future.
Also recently I have figured out how my Citibank account works, when these paying-in books (now that I have two of them) only allows you to pay in Sterling cheques though any Lloyds-TSB branch. As it seems that for Euro cheques, and Sterling cheques if you desire, then you just post them to Citibank (with no paying-in slip) usually with your account number wrote on the back.
Paying in Euro cash poses more of a problem, when you usually have to do that by visiting a Citibank branch. Since that is not desirable, then I still have to give it a test run in order to send Euro cash to them through the post.
As since they do accept Euro cash, then doing it through the post instead carries a good chance that they will be able to do it. However in the future I will have to choose between using their unrecorded yet free pre-paid envelopes or sending this cash by a safer recorded method.
My only problem at the moment is that no one has yet sent me a Euro currency cheque in order for this testing to go ahead. Sure I am getting in loads of Euro cash from people, but only when I get a Euro cheque can both methods be tested at once.
I am not sure why people prefer Euro cash, when a Euro cheque can often save a few cents due to the rounding, and this new payment option would not delay order dispatch. Still as different countries often prefer different payment methods, then maybe Euro cheques are just not that popular.
Well, I hope that I get me a Euro cheque soon, when I am eager to test out my Euro account.
Also speaking of my Euro account, then I finally managed to get Citibank to refund those 62.80 in bank charges. And to remind you that these charges occurred when Citibank ignored my request for business accounts and instead opened me personal accounts without my approval.
That was also to my surprise, when once I discovered this intention I agreed with their telephone staff that these accounts would not be opened. And so when I received the first month's statement, then I sent them a letter rejecting all ownership of these accounts.
However until recently all such contact was ignored, but as I wished to now make use of these accounts (seeing that they have been insisting that I use) then I wished this debt be settled. As after all if they open me accounts without my approval, then these accounts belong to them, which means that any debt made during their ownership belongs to them and not to myself.
My first attempt to get this removed on-line got no reply, but when I saw that they had transferred £39.52 from my now owned Sterling account to pay their own debt (at the rate of 1.589 to £1) in an unauthorised funds transfer, then I got most mad and decided to use threats.
As to me they had then stolen my own money to pay their debt, but at least it was pleasing to see that this finally worked. Although it was not pleasing that I had to go this far, or that they have never admitted opening these accounts without my approval.
Well as that is easy provable, then I guess we both know who's debt that was, even if they said in their message that this was a "good will gesture". Naturally I sent a message back saying that they were only paying their own debt and it was therefore not a good will payment, but naturally I never got a reply to that message either.
Now that they have paid the debt that they ran up in these accounts under my name, then I can finally accept ownership of the Euro account as well. However just between you and me, then those threats were mostly false, when naturally I would have covered that debt myself if I really had to.
Still as I would then have been highly enraged, which would be a bit overrated for such a low amount, then it was a good job that they recently refunded this charge.
Now I only have to figure out why whenever I try to order a cheque book for my Euro account it has been coming back with every attempt over the last couple of weeks with an error reporting "temporary delays".
Since that error does not say the cause of these delays, then I have a feeling that I am going to see if I can get a reply explaining why it is that I cannot order a Euro currency cheque book on-line. As I cannot really see a problem with this, when not long ago I got me a Debit card linked my Euro account.
Well maybe I will soon increase my Euro account balance above zero and see if that helps (I doubt), but at least I have now transferred over £2000 into my Citibank Sterling account. This is of course required when having a balance below that total is subject to this monthly change, which is how my Euro account got that 62.80 in charges in the first place.
As today was also the day when my scanner provider was supposed to have dispatched me one of these two allowed scanners, then tomorrow I will find out if they did. When if not then what little patience I had is no more and tomorrow afternoon I would be ordering my desired scanner from a supplier who can get it to me the following day.
Due to this suppliers not so legal debit on my Delta card, then they would be owning me a refund. And if they wish to create problems processing this, then it is time that I reported this transaction to the people involved in handling it.
Since yesterday I got in my new version of the MACRO, which I have decided to call MACROX, then I will put these new details on my Video / Audio page as soon as I get my scanner.
As I could well have included this item (and possible others) in my Order Form already, then if you want one then this is almost exactly like the MACRO device already described. The biggest change is that it got made a whole lot smaller in Taiwan, when the MACROX really is a much smaller than the MACRO.
Also before I forget, then the MACROX now saves you £10 over my old MACRO price, when you can now buy one for £35 instead of my previous price of £45.
Now as the Gross Weigh of the MACRO is 461g and the MACROX is 369g, then if you deduct the 230g weight of the 7.5v Power Supply and Cable, then that means that the MACRO including the box it comes in will have a crude weight of 231g.
And as the MACROX has a crude weight of 139g, then you can see that the MACROX is a whole lot smaller than the MACRO. However even that value does not really show that those clever people in Taiwan took this design and made it a whole lot smaller than the original MACRO.
Makes me wish that I had measured the MACRO before I had dispatched the last one, when this new model measures just 112 x 62 x 23mm. And for those people lacking a measurement concept (and a ruler), then just think pocket sized.
Well I expect that should be on the Order Form now, when I am just going to see to it, but if you are lucky I will add the Digital Coaxial Cables as well. That is if I can figure out two new ordering codes and the sale price that it (to which everyone calls out "low" including myself).
I hope that my desired scanner arrives tomorrow, when for example I really wish to show off how good my new printer cables look in their funky colours. And like almost everything on my site these are great value, when if you bought such a nice looking cable from Maplins (had they sold this one), then you would be looking to pay at least twice my price for it.
Maplins do give me a laugh some times, when their scart adapter like my SPSA they normally sell for £9.99, but it seems that they are having sale and are now selling this item for £4.99. As it is funny how my SPSA I sell for £1.60 (or more correctly £1.88 including VAT), which just happens to be my standard price.
Well just wait until I have a sale on my SPSA. :-]
To be fair though their one is gold plated while mine is not, but so far I have not considered the extra cost of the gold version worth cost. As were I to support the gold plated version, then my sale price of this item would increase to £2 (£2.35 including VAT).
And for that reason I have not yet considered it worth it, but a new thought is that I can always stock both and let you decide what you consider the best value.
Well if anyone wants what could well be the exact same Scart adapter that Maplins are having a £4.99 sale price on for just £2.35 including VAT, then I can certainly get them for you. And that is an example of the fact that if you want anything like this, then odds are that I could well get them for you at a great price.
That explains these new Digital Audio Cables, when I often stock new items because people ask me if I can supply them, but instead of getting just the one that they need, I then often decided to buy like 100 and sell them to everyone.
So if you desire anything at all, then there is no harm in asking for it, but if I think that other people would desire your ordered item as well, then that could explain my entire Cables page.
Well I had best go see to these new page uploads, but I will take a little while and consider how Maplins can charge people £9.99 for a device that costs me around £1.76 to buy from my supplier. Still I am sure that they have worked out the idea, that what counts in business is not the price of the item, but what great value the customer believes that it is.
Since Maplins have a whole chain of high street stores to pay for, then that is the very reason why they charge so much for a device that costs so little. And that is another key aspect to a successful business, when you simply have to keep your overheads down, when being able to offer the lowest price around means that you can then sell a lot more of that item.
And that is the last lesson for today, when you news page readers are always seeking the lowest price, but I just hope that you remember service quality as well, which are two aspects that I always seek to excel in.
Anyway, as this is really the end, then I will have to force myself to stop typing. Argh I cannot do it, hfhvwe bfiahfj a;kfoieh. ;-]
21th of January 2002
I have now agreed with the publishers of the What Satellite magazine that adverts for my business will appear in their magazine from the April issue. It could have been the March issue, but it was not possible to create my adverts in the 5-day allowed deadline seeing that my scanner has not yet arrived.
After contacting this supplier, when my next day postage option did not arrive the next day or the following day for that matter, then I was disappointed to learn that my ordered scanner was out of stock.
This was very unexpected when their site still contains no mention of this fact, but also for some reason I have already been charged for it.
As I was changed using my card, then I have just had to remind this supplier that charging my card when the goods have not been dispatched is just not legal. For the moment I have put that down to a dumb mistake, but I am not at all happy about it.
One reason for this is that seeing they are out of stock and I am in a major rush, then if they cannot dispatch this item by Tuesday (my statement time I have allowed them), then some refund or other will be needed. And as that refund would be to my business account, then as I have told them there will be an extra transaction charge to add to any refund.
Anyway, I have given them until Tuesday at the latest to sort out something, which if it is not the model that I have ordered (and apparently paid for), then my next ideal choice is the next model down.
And if they cannot supply that one either, then they will be needing to issue me a full refund. As then I will go and obtain this model from another supplier, who will actually supply this next day when I pay next day postage.
Well anyway when I get my scanner, then I have an advert to create, the photos on this site to update, and then finally to scan my sales flyer so that I can print it out on my lazer printer. And that last one is the most important at this time, when orders are being dispatched without one.
Speaking of What Satellite, then I was tempted for a while to take out a monthly full page advert to have a real poke at FACT. When it is now almost three months since this invalid raid and they are being as incompetent as ever.
That advert would have been most expensive and what I would have eventually billed FACT for, but as I may have not made that expense stick then I thought better not. Still I am considering publicity, when the longer this goes on the more I will make them suffer, but I may do that full page poke for one month to show to everyone who these people really are.
Also today I am sending off letters to Customs and Excise to explain to them why I cannot complete and return my VAT Returns Form at the end of this month. That reason is of course because FACT has all three copies of my accounts and despite my many requests over the last two and a half months they have refused to share them with me.
That I believe shows that they are intent to harm my business instead of seeking justice, when even though I have offered to pay all costs involves, this sharing would not have removed any data from their search.
My problem with my VAT Return is that the values are simply unknown, but as you also need to sign this document as well to confirm that the above values are correct, then I cannot do that either.
It will be interesting to see if Customs & Excise take legal action against FACT, when I have provided them with complete details as to why I cannot pay a valid value. And as failure to pay ones tax is technically illegal, then maybe Customs & Excise will take legal action against the cause of this problem.
That remains to be seen, but anyway I have offered to pay them a token amount to a value that they see fit, which at least shows my desire to pay tax. So it now remains to be seen if they will quote me an amount to pay, set back payment until I can pay a valid amount, fine me, or take against against the cause of why I cannot pay (FACT).
This I believe shows the nature of FACT, when within 11 days time a law could well have been broken, where they are the very people responsible for why this law has been broken.
Next up I will have to explain to the Inland Revenue why I cannot pay a valid amount on my Income Tax either, which is needing to be paid on that same day as well. In this case I consider it more unfortunate, when near the middle of last year I had all this like 95% done, which would have meant at this time I would have simply had to fill in the forms and return them.
Although these people do not take much notice if the amount you enter is correct or not, this guess value is not something that I would be willing to do. And that means that a second law could well have been broken in 11 days time, when FACT has been warned plenty of times about my taxes.
Well without my accounts then Income Tax would be a lot harder to recalculate then with VAT, when naturally the Income Tax period is four time longer. However as last time I had to undertake such a large task my business was closed for three months, then I would not want to do that again.
Hopefully before the end of this month I will know what these governmental organizations wish to do about my taxes, when any amount I pay them will be as accurate as a random number.
As this payment problem is solely the fault of FACT, then all I can say is that I would like to see these tax people get involved with this matter. When I consider that the biggest criminals around are FACT, when as mentioned above their interest is not with justice.
Well as that first letter, sent to two Customs & Excise locations just to be sure, was three pages long, when I wished to make sure they understood my reason for this payment problem. Then I could well borrow a lot of that text to make my Inland Revenue letter.
Anyway I am much looking forwards to getting my scanner, when I have a whole load of very important work to do with it. And that means that I have had to recently point out the line in this suppliers reply e-mail saying "thank you for you patience", when in this case I have totally no patience at all.
And that is why I gave them just today and tomorrow to sort out something, when after this time I would be looking to source this item from another supplier. Well my life is full of problems and I don't expect buying a simple scanner to be any different.
15th of January 2002
Over the last couple of days I have been looking into the possibility of placing an advert in the What Satellite magazine. And initial findings indicate that a half page advert could well be possible, when that would allow enough space to show off some of my items.
In normal times I would not dream of such advertisement, but like with support for SILVER and PURPLE cards this is another anti-FACT measure. When if they don't like my cards, then that is a very good reason to sell as many as possible.
And so you could say that you have seen nothing yet when it comes to card sales.
Normally I do not advertise at all when there is little need, which is why for over a year once not that long ago I did not advertise anywhere. However in order to make more people aware of my service I used to do the occasional Usenet advert long ago before I resumed that more recently.
Well in time you may see for yourself the results of this in the What Satellite TV magazine.
Yesterday I also happened to make a major discovery, which if all goes as planned will help to improve this site further.
It occurred when I was looking to buy a new scanner, when the two I already have became obsolete when I installed Windows XP. And this time I thought that I would buy a flatbed scanner, when my previous desktop model (which scanned most of the photos now shown on this site) has the problem that a single speck of dust would produce a entire line down the scan.
Also such a flatbed model would allow me to directly scan my wafer cards, which I thought would be a useful feature, when I could then add the new card image whenever I changed it.
Anyway, while I was looking around to see what other users thought as the best model for a reasonable price, I then came across one post where the user desired that the model he wanted had 3d object support.
Since anyone who has kept up over the years with my problem mastering my camera to take the photos I have will know what a problem that has been, then it took only about 0.7 seconds to think wow that would be useful.
An example of this photo problem I currently have is that I cannot really take any photos in the month of January, when the weather sucks and even when there is sunlight (opposed to clouds) then what little sunlight there is won't reach the floor from the window. And that is why there are currently many items on this site awaiting a photo to go with them.
And so it was not long before I researched into this 3d object support, where I soon found out that while the thicker CCD (with lens) type could be misused in this way, but the cheaper thin CIS (direct contact) type is just not up to the job.
Also there is the problem that even the CCD type may not support a suitable scan depth, when if not then the sections away from the glass would get very blurred very quickly. And so when buying a scanner for 3d use, then it is a good idea to make sure it can do it before you buy it.
As all this is using a flatbed scanner for a purpose that it was not designed for, then during my browsing I did discover several models that were designed to include 3d object support.
So from my quick 24 hour research the model that should arrive with me tomorrow (if the delivery claim of the supplier is correct) will be the Black Widow 1248 Pro+ flatbed scanner, which will set me back £123 excluding VAT and delivery.
As I was in a rush then I have no idea what advantage the "pro" or the "+" has in the name, when I just got me the latest model with hopefully the latest advanced features. However I did quickly browse the specification for all three models, but I could not spot a thing to separate them.
Well anyway I will hopefully tomorrow give this so called 3d feature a test run, which if all goes as planned will offer a much better quality image of my items. However the first thing to do is to scan my very last advertisement form, which would allow me to print it out on my lazer printer.
That is the reason that I needed a new scanner in the first place, when making copies of this sales flyer through my multi-function fax machine can do like one double sided page a minute. However as that is really 75% fax machine, then printing speed was not important when I bought it (unlike my lazer printer).
Still it was a shame that the drivers for this multi-function machine was not created for XP use, which means that I cannot scan to PC using it. I do not believe that I really bought it that long ago either, but that is the second possible scanner I have that is now obsolete due to XP.
Well anyway while I wonder how long this scanner will last, the advantage of using this scanner type would be huge. When I will soon be able to stick any new item in the scanner and have the resulting scan resized and uploaded that same day.
I will have to find out what to do about a background, but I do not believe that will be much of a problem.
The final thing I have to comment on is the few people who consider that they do not need to pay for the items sent to them now that I have cashed all these cheques. Naturally due to FACT this took a lot longer then usual, but most of the orders I now have problems with were from just last month.
As just about all these orders were dispatched within 24 hours of receipt, then I should not be seeing "payment stopped" when I come to cash these cheques. Still I am currently looking into each one and dealing with them as required.
However at the end of the day not a single one of these customers will be getting away with receiving items and then not paying for them.
The more worrying one of these orders was from one customer who sent me four orders at the start of December, where the total value of these orders came to £415.93. As unlike normal returned cheques these ones were held by the receiving bank, when I just got back copies of them.
And apparently these cheques came from a cheque book that has been reported stolen, but before we all jump to conclusions, then lets not forget that maybe it was stolen after this customer had sent me these cheques.
Anyway, while in such a case it would have been nice to be informed of this fact beforehand, we well have to see what develops on that one.
Like the other few orders I will proceed though the usual stages of contacting the customers though their stated option, where some mix-up may have simply occurred. And if after some time that does not produce results, then will I send them a payment due invoice including an extra £5 invoice charge. This I had to do recently to one older customer, when the unanswered e-mails then turn into returned e-mail when his e-mail account was closed.
Then if that does not work I may choose to send a reminder, but after that my solicitor then gets to send them a nice legal letter. And that usually includes an additional charge to cover my solicitors costs, which I expect would be at least double my charge.
And naturally the final step is to resolve the matter usually in a small claims court, where the received order, rejected payment, often quick dispatch, and safe receipt can be easily proved.
Well I will see what becomes of this, but it is disappointing to see quite a few more problem orders than usual. Sure once in a while I will receive a returned cheque and the matter is quickly resolved, but it looks like this time I will need to set up a special system to monitor the progress of these orders.
I guess I better end now and go get some work done.
13th of January 2002
If you take a look at my Welcome page, then you should notice 27 flags at the very top, when that is now the last step (until I find more languages that is) in my integrated translation service.
What this will allow is that any site visitor who does not understand English can now upon spotting their own countries flag click on it to have my Welcome page translated into their own language. Although I cannot vouch for the quality of the translation, the reverse options from the Babelfish service at least produced understandable English.
And so with hope my site can be translated into 28 different and understandable languages. In case you are wondering about the missing 28th flag, then that one is Latin American Spanish, when I have yet to figure out what countries flag to associate that one to.
This flag index can also demonstrate why I do not have flags on every page, when once you have selected a flag, then your cannot select another one without returning to the default English language first.
This flag index at the top of the Welcome page is really a new idea, when I was thinking about having flags, translated language names, and all translation options on a second page. However all these korean, japanese, chinese, and other languages had to be stored in Unicode UTF-8 format, which although such a page works fine it is a difficult file to handle.
Also with visions of visitors browsers wishing to install like eight different language character sets at once, then I decided that super information system was too much.
And as they say the most simple solution is the best, then the new flags at the top of my Welcome page should be clear enough to all what they do.
In the end it will be interesting to see if all these more global options lead to an increase in non-UK orders, when the view of some people to always buy in their own country is unhelpful. As if you look around then you could often find a better deal and service outside your country.
Well in the end it is either this; or I would have to have a postal address in every country and an entire web-site in every language. So in the end we will have to see if people come to me (as many do), I go to them (hopefully not), or we meet in the middle (current testing).
For that reason I am soon going to better highlight that e-mail to us does not need to be in English, when naturally just recently I sent a French e-mail to MinutePay and got a French reply from them.
And so while it can take longer I expect that I could deal with many other western languages, which if that gets popular then I could always employ someone who can write many languages like a native.
Since I was working on the Welcome page anyway, then I have now updated all the information. As these days for various reasons (including FACT) I have a greater interest in advertising, which made the old version of my start page out of date.
I am soon going to increase my advertising still, when I have yet to even get back to my old routine of a couple of years ago. And since I am slowly becoming more international, then I will try and track down satellite areas popular to non-English speaking citizens.
What I mean is that for a long time in my Global Domination Plan I have been slowly awaiting a Russian invasion, but I am sure that would be a damned lot faster if I were to lead my troops across the border. And all that takes is to find out where these Russian satellite folk hang out, where I can then show them what I offer and point them to my site.
For some sort of advertising however, then such foreign text would have to be a whole lot better than the on-line translation option. In the end I can smell a new persons job in this area, but I guess one step at a time.
Anyway, the first problem I am now to deal with is to have my English language Usenet adverts to use a much faster method to update the Euro prices. When if I have to update them by hand each time, then that would only take much longer and lead to mistakes.
12th of January 2002
I have just uploaded my latest foreign currency converter, which has been subject to several large changes.
The first of these is the usual step of updating the all the currency rates, but now I have reduced the Handling Charge from £2 to just £1. As the Handling Fee once stood at £4, then this is the best value yet.
Still if the base rate happens to go high again, then one day far in the future I may have to put this back up to £2. However for now this reduction will be of benefit to customers outside the UK and now Euro countries.
The most important change today was the removal of all the old national currencies, which are to become worthless on the 28th of February this year. While I could still accept such currencies up to the end of this month, there is little point in doing so. As of course since I now accept the Euro at the true exchange rate, then it would be pointless for such customers to pay £1 (handling fee) + 7% (buy rate adjustment) more for their order.
Since my foreign currency converter now has 11 fewer currencies, then I thought that it would be an idea to add on 6 more of the World's most popular currencies.
The first two of these are the New Zealand Dollar and the South African Rand, which could prove a useful option to the rare customers that I have in these countries.
The other four currencies are the Hong Kong Dollar, Japanese Yen, Russian Ruble, and the Singapore Dollar. As although I do not yet have any customers in these countries yet, this could certainly help out when I do.
Well as my Global Domination Plan will soon lead to an invasion of Russia, then following that the whole of the Asian region will be my next target. And so I am left wondering and in hope that these new translation options and currencies will help out in this mega-lo-manic area.
The final change to my foreign currency converter was to optimise the code, when it now has 27 less constants and 34 less moving constants into variables.
Finally if you want to test drive my new super foreign currency converter, then just click on the Foreign Payment option on the main menu.
11th of January 2002
Well I got me more Euro cash today this time for a customer in Switzerland, which is a bit unusual when Switzerland is not one of the countries who now have the Euro as their official currency. Still as Switzerland is surrounded by EU countries, then the Euro is still bound to be popular.
It looks like this new payment method could well prove to be a popular one, when I am still awaiting a Euro currency cheque to test my Euro account.
I heard one Euro joke today, when a citizen of one of these Euro nations when going to the toilet can now have an Euronation. ;-]
Also today I heard back from the French MinutePay service concerning the on-line Euro currency collection system and how they refuse to accept non-French debit cards. As they just said that they plan to be able support cards from all over the World, but as this could take months then they will contact me when available.
Not too helpful at the moment, but setting no limits on where the customers lives sure as hell beats other services like NoChex and PayHound. However I will be sure to remind them now and again that customers are waiting for this feature.
Well apart from that I have been fixing a few small problems with these new site feature, but I will be sure to put more on-line soon.
10th of January 2002
I got me some Euro cash today sent by one customer in France, which will help me test the capabilities of my Euro bank account. Normally I would pay some suppliers in cash to avoid bank charges, but as my Euro account has no such charges, then I have yet to decided if to normally pay Euro cash in my Euro account or not.
I suppose I could always test the claims of major high street stores that they would except the Euro, but even if so you have to wonder if their exchange rate will be as precise as mine.
Anyway this is just to make totally sure that Citibank can pay Euro cash into my Euro account, when this aspect is still a new feature for them. However I will wait until I have a Euro cheque as well first, when I can then test both payment types in one go.
I am still awaiting a paying-in book for this account though, which I presume Citibank will soon provide when I have asked for one. They have sent me some pre-paid envelopes to send them stuff, but when sending them items to pay into my account, then a paying-in book would prove useful.
As I ordered a cheque book (on-line) for my Sterling account not long after, then if my cheque book arrives first I will just have to find out where my paying-in book (assuming that they have such a thing) has got to.
Oddly enough I received a debit card for my Euro account today, which unlike these other items was certainly processed quickly, when that one was ordered like two days ago.
As that allowed me to link my French MinutePay account directly to my British Euro bank account, then I was most disappointed to see that "Refusée" was again reported. This means that while this French system refuses to accept my debit card, then I cannot make use of their service.
In all I find this most strange how such systems can impose these limits, when if they accept customers from 17 countries, then it is just not correct to accept cards from just one.
My debit card happens to carry the Visa logo, which used to mean that this card could be used where ever you see this Visa sign. Odd then that MinutePay quotes Visa and yet they do not choose to handle my Visa based card.
Anyway since my brand new card was refused like the previous two cards I tried, then today I sent MinutePay an e-mail using my pseudo-French language.
Like the above I pointed out that there was no "technical" reason to refuse to accept my card, when linking in my debit card to my Euro account is required in order to use their service. Maybe I will give it another try and pretend that it is really a French card.
I suppose that could be the answer to the mystery of why they say that only French cards are accepted, but to then go on and ask the question of what country your card comes from. Kind of a silly question when that can only be "France", but I am now left wondering if saying "France" could make it work.
Unlikely I guess, but if their payment gateway provider says to only accept French cards, then that could be one unofficial way to get around it.
Since I just gave it a try, then I see that lying does not help. When it seems that they know what cards have already been tested and refused, when they do not allow you to try them again.
Anyway the point is that if MinutePay would accept cards from 17 different countries, then would they not have 17 times the number of customers?
Well I will see what MinutePay have to say about refusing to accept my perfectly valid card, but maybe it is a case of the search goes on for a real Euro on-line payment collection system. When if the Euro is now the official currency of 12 countries, then a system should exist to collect Euros from all twelve.
After looking around then it seems that MinutePay does have the intention of fully accepting customers from many different countries including myself here in the UK, but it seems that they have not achieved this quite yet.
Based in their site they could well have planned to have it up and running by now, but their "French only cards" statement seems to indicate that they are having problems. Anyway my e-mail will remind them that their are non-French customers wishing to use their service.
When they do get around to accepting UK cards, then their is just the problem of their small transaction limit to sort out.
9th of January 2002
I have just uploaded the latest version of my Order Form (Sterling Version), which now allows you to make on-line payments though the PayHound system as well.
Since there are now lots of details about this new service on my Ordering Details page and Order Form Details page, then I will just say that this new payment option is very much like NoChex except that you can now transfer funds through your Credit Card and Bank Account (using Direct Debit) as well.
As now the Sterling version of my Order Form supports two on-line payment methods while the Euro version supports zero, then I will need to snap fingers, crack heads, and other not too nice things to try as hard as possible to find a Euro payment version.
The biggest problem there is that services around (like MinutePay) seem to be very country specific, which is not at all helpful when the Euro is now the official currency of 12 countries. And so collecting Euros from all 12 countries to pay into my Euro account (in a non-Euro country) ranks somewhere bordering on impossible.
Well as there is no "technical" reason why it cannot be done, then the best way to see it happen is to make lots of noise. As after all the EU wishes to see their new Euros move about like these 12 countries was really just one. While that is usually not such a nice thought, when it comes to Euros, then at least Euros should move around like Euros should.
Thank God at least that Euro Cash is now here, when having your money is your control then allows these 12 countries to directly pay my one. Sure Euro Cheques have been around a while, but while some people have problems cashing Euro Cheques from another country, it has taken me that long to get a Euro account in the first place.
I am sure this year is going to prove interesting, when if each country does have their own limited Euro payment system, then Euros not moving across borders will soon be noticed.
In the end I do not even mind if the results of this Euro collection system is a Euro Cheque, when that I can easily cash. Still the problem then is that if I cannot get money directly out, then neither can other people get it directly in.
Well as today I heard that I will soon have me a Debit Card from my Euro Account, then that is the final test to see if MinutePay can link to my Euro Account here in the UK. As if that card ends up refused, then I will just have to ask them why I can use it all over Europe except for in their service.
Still even then MinutePay's account limits are quite restrictive, which means that I will have to see if it is as bad as I expect. Anyway I will be on the lookout for other services if MinutePay does not work out, which there seems to be a good chance of currently.
Anyway, as no one has paid me though my PayHound system, then I will soon see if that works as well as what I expect it to.
Since I was in the mood to test out my new Euro price function, then it took me about two minutes today to update my whole site to the latest Euro rate of 1.6145 Euros to the Pound. And I see that again the Euro has fallen almost half a cent in value, but then what can you expect.
When I get around to it then I will figure out a day to combine my weekly Euro rate update with my Usenet Advert, but I have yet to figure out how to update those Euro prices.
Next thing I have to do is to add my new Digital Coaxial Cables and the SAMM4 Satellite Meter to this site, but recently I have been working on a special intro page for site visitors who do not understand English.
That you will be able to see for yourself soon enough, when it is all work here.
Mmm that Christmas Holiday must have done me some good to give my site a spring clean (hold on its winter!), but anyway there is still a whole load more page additions and adjustments to be done.
The final thing is that as in the end I wrote the new PHP code to link in this new PayHound option (No2 was taking too long), then I will have to get No2 to look over the code. I did ask him to do that already, but as he just checked out the order form and said that it works (as it does), then that is just not good enough.
For example my new code does not include an "else" statement, which makes it quite inefficient. So as that is the first time I have wrote PHP code, and had to work out the syntax from scratch, then I will have to insist that No2 improves it. Sure it works perfectly well, but the code could be better and reduced in size.
Well I will soon sort that out, but at least you can now make use of my inefficient code version. And at least I have now gave that boring middle screen my own special touch.
7th of January 2002
I have now fully completed the addition of my two new main features.
First of all the complete set of language translations options can now be found on every page of this site, except for the two order forms, but it is still possible to translate the order forms if desired.
The big change however is that instead of copying these options to every page they are now stored in the single file, which is now linked into every page. This then will allow me to add new language services in the future very quickly, when there is only one include file to modify.
The second big addition is of course the Euro, when I have been wondering for a couple of days on how to keep like a million quoted Euro prices up to date, when the currency rate is changing all the time.
And so the translation include file gave me the best idea, when now all Euro prices are calculated through the one function. As this then allows me to update my sites to the latest Euro rate by just entering the rate once for the item page function, and then again for the Euro order form.
So as of today the Euro rate is again spot on at 1.61 Euros to the Pound. No doubt it will soon shift again, but without linking directly to the currency market then there is not much that I can do about it.
I decided to go ahead anyway when like 99.9% of my site visitors use a suitable browser anyway, which is usually those made by Microsoft and Netscape. Although I have not yet tested the new functions for Netscape compatibility, when I do not yet have it installed.
Also in the process I have now created a Euro symbol display system that is not corrupted by the translation systems, but I did have to try a couple of different methods before I found one that worked.
In this new Euro price display process I moved the Euro symbol to appear after the price, which as mentioned is like how they show it in France. However this was done so that I could see that the displayed Euro prices are now linked to this function, when I have yet to decide the best display location for this Euro symbol.
Maybe I will give you an option so that you can set the location yourself, when this new function makes that possible if I desired to do it.
The other thing that I have changed is to show the Euro rate on the Euro order form. This is so that no matter how often I update the rate I will then know what rate your order was calculated at, when naturally for tax purpose I cannot use Euro prices. This means that on my accounts (when I get them back) I will have to show Sterling and not Euro values.
I did not show the Sterling value order total directly, when of course many people do not pay the exact order total. As I need to know what they paid and not what their order quote was, which this Euro rate display then allows me to do.
And so in the end I am left wondering how often I should update the Euro rate, when I can now do it daily, weekly, or monthly.
This Euro function now avoids the long monthly choice, even if due to the constant decline of the Euro most customers would prefer the longer option. Although daily is possible I have decided on weekly when this ties into my weekly Usenet adverts.
I have decided to soon remove the self-calculation option, when doing so can then lead to a multitude of errors. As since my Euro prices are accurate enough, then there is really no need, when I do ideally need to know things like the Euro rate used in your calculation.
Well I have not got me any Euros today, but then Monday always results in a lower number of orders. For as I have said before that any order dispatched over the weekend is much more likely to arrive tomorrow (Tuesday).
It is not that I have not received many Euro currency cheque in the past, but I am waiting to test out my new Euro bank account. Although I do not see any real problems in paying in Euro cheques and cash, what with these financial people you never know, when they often like to restrict services in order to maximise profit.
The final thing today is that after two months I am finally going to pay in all these delayed cheque this very day, when it has taken me several days to rewrite my cheque processing system after my previous version was seized and then not shared with me.
Well it took hours today to finally feed them all through, but later today several hundred cheques from the last two months will be entered into my bank account. Actually some cheque have an older date (from October), when the day of the raid was also the day I got ready the last lot of cheques to be paid in.
And I see now that it was a mistake to not complete the bank form for the cheques with a value up to £20.56, when I was waiting for cheques received that day to add to it. As that form awaiting printing was seized along with the rest of my cheque processing system before I could get around to complete it.
This is a good example of the problems they have caused, when it has now taken me two months to find the time in order to restore my cheque processing system. This is naturally so that I can do the simple thing of paying cheques into my bank.
As last time due to all the problems around it was actually No2 who paid cheques into my bank, which meant that no new delayed deposit packets were asked for. And so that means today I expect the lady having to process all these cheques will not be too pleased.
Anyway if she starts moaning then I will remind her that it is going to cost me exactly £161.88 in order to have them cash all these cheques. That is correct when I will have to pay my bank £161.88 just to pay in one batch of cheques, which even in my view is a bit extreme.
Still if I had a Euro account in the name "Cardman" then I would be happy to pay those same fees, but at least I have a Euro account. And with that account they will charge me zero for cashing cheques, but then I do have to keep £2000 in my account with them to benefit this way.
And the last thing I will do today is to show off my new Euro function, when that cheque cashing fee quoted above is exactly £161.88. Best of all when I update the Euro rate next, then that mentioned Euro price will be updated as well.
Kind of interesting to think that when this news is months or years old, that quoted Euro price will still be accurate to within one week. Anyway why don't you try my translation options, when I bet that you cannot now corrupt that Euro symbol.
6th of January 2002
If you take a look at my Welcome page you will then (if you hit refresh) see my latest integrated site translation options. As since yesterday I have now completed translation links to two new on-line translation services.
These 40 language options (excluding English) are not yet available on other pages, when it takes quite a time to copy it into all site pages. And so I should have that done by tomorrow, but as you can make use of most options though this one page, then there is no major rush.
I have been wondering about the quality of the translation recently, when I saw one Usenet poster complain that Babelfish's Korean option produced non-understandable results. As I cannot understand Korean, then I have no idea if he was correct or not.
Anyway I did try converting the very first line on my site using all three German options, when all three services support German. And while my start line reads "Welcome to my new website, which I hope you will like". The results are as follows...
Babelfish produced "Willkommen zu meinem neuen website, das ich Sie hoffe, mag". InterTran did this "Willkommen meinem neu Gewebe, welches Hoffentlich Sie werden gefällt". And finally FreeTranslation did this "Heißen Sie willkommen zu meinem neuen website, den ich hoffe, daß Sie mögen werden".
Now as my understanding of German is only slightly better than my Korean, then I fed them back through Babelfish to convert them back to English. And low and behold Babelfish seemed to offer the best results, but then maybe it was biased.
The strange thing that I did notice was that the word "Gewebe" from the InterTran version seems to be the German word for "fabrics" (according to Babelfish). Now I have little idea how my web-site turned into cloth, but the InterTran version did seem to produce the worst result of the three.
Maybe that is because they mention holding back better language understanding until you buy it, but anyway the point of including many in the first place is so that you can choose the best one. Not to mention that some can stop working for some reason or other.
Well in the end it is pleasing to see that no matter what country you come from there is a good chance that there is a language option for you. Ok, so it could be less than ideal, but I doubt there is currently a better option.
The other thing I have been wondering about is if I should include the language names in English or if I should include the translated names for them. As my HTML editor cannot handle things like Japanese words then it is best to keep them all in English, when they would also be translated into other languages in the process.
However I may set up a special extra page for those people not understanding a word I say when they enter my site, which will then somehow clearly point out the translation options.
Well, as each translation service has its advantages and disadvantages, then why not go back to my Welcome page and take a look.
And before I forget the Intertran problem I had was due to IP logging, when using my modem to dial the Internet instead got it working again. So completing my testing showed that it did work as expected, but I did have one minor URL corruption problem to sort out.
Makes me wonder how long InterTran store IP addresses for, but if you go and overuse it translating my site into dozens of different languages, then it is a case of either buy it or change your IP address. Or I guess switch to one of the other more free service is another option.
I did send a message to Altavista today saying that their translator corrupts the Euro symbol "", but if they will fix it is a very good question.
The other thing I have been wondering about is just where I should place this Euro symbol in prices, when currency I do like 12.34, but say in France the price would normally be as 12,34 .
I see from the translators that putting a space between the number and symbol is of advantage, when the decimal point is converted into a comma (just like they show prices in France).
Well in the end I will see how the Germans, Italians, Spanish, Portuguese, etc, display their Euro prices, when the ideal is to set the format for the highest number of people. Still in the end it does not matter too much then no matter what country you come from the price should be clear enough.
Also I did receive a couple of e-mails from Minute Pay about them refusing my debit cards, but unlike they mentioned my card details were fully accurate. They did also mention about foreign cards, but well at the end of the day if they stick to only French cards, then they will only have French customers.
I guess you can open a bank account in France as was their other option, but well I feel that I have enough bank accounts already. And getting an account in a foreign country is hard enough to begin with.
Well I will give it another try with a direct link to my Euro account, but if this card is refused as well then it is time to give up. As mentioned there is no reason why such cards would be refused, beyond lacking a desire to accept them that is.
In the end I doubt that the Minute Pay service is good enough for my needs what with their 750 , 30 day limit, but if so then I will just have to keep looking.
Very soon I will have me some of those lovely Euros, that I hope I can put in my Euro account. And there they could soon before worthless, when I see that the Euro has fallen in value again.
Well I updated that new exchange rate into the Euro version of my Order From (that you can see here if you have not found it yet), but what with the release of some Euro cash then I would have expected a sizable currency value gain.
Maybe this loss is due to some distribution problems, when a whole load of Euros are being shipped about. Anyway, as I will have me some Euros before this week is over, then you can say that I now have an interest in their worth.
Finally today makes exactly two months since I was raided by FACT, when still they have not returned my computers and extra equipment. Or even come to some conclusion at all for that matter, which then makes it like they stole my stuff and ran off with it.
Since I heard from my solicitor several days ago, then it seems that FACT have now confessed that I run a fully legitimate business, but their claim of returning my stuff urgently has long since been and gone.
And so it is now time to make an official police complaint, when they allow that bunch of fascists way too much power to do as they please.
Well due to them a new problem will soon arise, when them having all my accounts means that it is now totally impossible to pay my taxes at the end of this month. As now two months worth of order forms will take weeks to sort out, which is not to mention all the other calculations that need to be done, when I usually take a week off at the end of January just for that alone.
And so when it comes to taxes I cannot tell if they have to pay me, or if I have to pay them (most likely), then if so by how much. Estimation is even out of the question when I have no facts in order to base an estimate on.
In the end it is bound to be interesting, when I will soon contact the tax people and see what they say, when having all your computer accounts seized is not an event covered by the VAT Guide. According to them failure to pay taxes is some sort of crime, which I guess makes FACT guilty of some illegal act.
Well I have been warning them for the past couple of months about taxes, but even with their confusion that my business is fully legal, they have done totally nothing to help.
In the end I expect the tax people will fine me for late payment, which will be yet another expense I will pass on to FACT, when they will owe me a small fortune already by now. I have always found it humorous how the FACT guy was concerned about breaking my computers, but I guess that they don't realise that they must owe me over £30,000 (48000 ) in damages to my business so far.
Well when I get my accounts back, then I can figure out the final damage claim, but when it comes to my "stuff", then I should really bill them for it, when all I really need back now is my computer information.
Maybe that is why they refuse to share, when then I just won't need the rest. Well excluding my doubler parts and disks etc.
In the end I wonder if FACT stands for F****** A******** C**** & T******, but I could not possible say that very rude thing to you. Now I wonder if I can summon them back to another police interview, when although I gave them a good piece of my mind last time I really have a whole load more shouting to do at them.
Well I can only hope that in the event of nuclear war someone remembers to target the FACT HQ. My solicitor did say to begin with that they were just doing their job, but even he seems to have changed his mind due to this massive delay and their lack of excuses.
Oh well I better end now, when if I keep on about them, then I will only create another recorded sized news page. And I doubt that today's news will fit though Altavista's Babelfish translator on its own, which means that I have overdone it again.
5th of January 2002
Since adding the two new main site additions yesterday, then today I have been trying to improve them both with limited success.
First of all I took another look at the French Minute Pay service (who do on-line payment processing) and I was pleased to see that they have now switched from the Franc to the Euro. And best of all they have removed their French citizen clause, when they now support 17 countries.
I did think for a while that these were all European Union countries, but the likes of Canada and Australia are outside this region.
Anyway, as the UK was one of the supported countries then I soon signed up, which went as well as expected when I soon logged into my new Minute Pay account.
It was then that I noticed one new clause not mentioned in their terms and conditions, when their accounts have a limit of 750 every 30 days. And that is not very much I can tell you, when that is the most restrictive limit of all three service I have so far joined.
As I was expecting an account balance limit of 750, which I could have emptied every couple of days based on their terms and conditions.
Well anyway I looked into linking this account to my Euro bank account here in the UK. And to begin with I started with their bank account section.
And it looks like their statement about only accepting French accounts is correct, when my banking details do not include things like Clé RIB (Key Bank Account Number). Well I spent a couple of hours seeing if it could somehow fit and then gave up.
Moving on to credit / debit cards looked more promising, when my debit card with the Visa logo can be used everywhere. However their statement that only French cards are accepted proved worrying, but as there is no "technical" reason why it would not work I tried it anyway.
That "French only" statement I found even more odd, when one of the following card question they ask is the country of origin. As just what is the point of asking where the card came from, when it can only be France?.
Anyway, I tried a couple of my debit cards and both times they ended up rejected. And so it seems that my cards work everywhere except in France.
I expect that this is some kind of payment gateway clause, but from accepting UK customers and the "origin of the card" question, then maybe they are aiming at better things. So maybe Minute Pay are in discussion with their payment gateway provider in order to accept other country cards.
Then again maybe this is a pass the buck issue, when not accepting Euros from say Germany would be greatly frowned upon by the EU.
I will give it another couple of attempts, when I have yet to try my Euro account. And that is because I do not yet have my Euro account Citicard, which was supposed to have been one of the feature of this account.
Well as I am awaiting paying in books as well, then getting anything (including basic information) from Citibank is more difficult then it should be. As I now have pre-paid envelopes at least, then I can at minimum post cheques to them to pay into my accounts.
I am sure that a paying in book is an important aspect in this feature, but as I have requested them, then it is a cause of waiting and seeing if they turn up. As I ordered a cheque book for my Sterling account, then I can see when they should be here. I tried ordering a cheque book for my Euro account as well, but for the last couple of days they have reported a temporary service fault.
Once I have sorted all this out, then at least I can see if Minute Pay accepts a debit card direct to my Euro account. As if not then that is not at all good, when it would have rendered their service unusable by every Euro account holder outside France.
The other aspect I was looking into was to expand my integrated site translation to other services, which is a work in progress. However I am stopped for now, when I have seen that InterTran has a limit on the number of times you can use it.
And so during all my testing I have just used up my limit at the point I had just about got it all sorted out, which means that I will have to do some testing to get around it for a while.
I did think that it was site related to begin with, but swapping the testing from my cardman.co.uk site to my cardman.com site did not help one bit. And following that I saw that it was not cookie related either, when I deleted all of mine to be extra sure.
And so that leaves the last possibility in that they log your IP address, which means that I will have to try an anonymous proxy server, or to connect up my dial up modem (with allocated IP addresses) in order to find out.
I did give it a try though my cable modem when disconnecting and then reconnecting the power usually causes a new IP address to be allocated. Only problem is that after trying this twice it kept on allocating me the same IP address.
Oh well I will soon get my IP address changed one way or the other.
Anyway for now I will let you view my new "test" welcome page with 26 new language services. By my estimate you should be able to translate my whole site several times over before running into the same "Over Quota" limit.
This test page you can see here, but only for a short time (until my next news item no doubt) before I decide what to do with it. Anyway it is good to see one service that can translate my site into Russian and many other new languages.
As my testing was not fully complete I cannot promise that the new language options will work as I would hope, but as I was just about to do my big final test before it this problem hit, then by my estimate it should work perfectly.
The InterTran service as you will see opens my translated site in a frame, which mean that what I was working on just before this problem hit was to have my child frame replace the parent frame when a different language is selected.
As naturally not doing this will soon end up with frames within frames, when their next parent frame would replace the child frame in their already present parent frame.
My very last view I saw therefore was having this aspect working as it should, but as I only saw that once then I cannot say if it will do it again.
I already have a third service to add, but that second InterTran one should work perfectly for the average site visitor.
Well as you can see most of my life is spent sorting out problems, which makes me sure hope that my Euro support won't run into any. And having a cheque book and debit card for my Euro account would do very nicely at this time. And lets not forget an on-line Euro payment system, when some on-line payment system around these parts must be thinking "Euro" along with "European wide support".
Then again maybe I just dream of an ideal world that will never exist. Anyway, if you know of any other on-line payment service (like Minute Pay) that deals in Euros then please let me know.
4th of January 2002
Well two of my three large changes are now on-line, but the third change should be here quite soon when I am just waiting for No2 to complete my second on-line payment option.
The first of these changes is "integrated site translation", when due to recorded referer hits on my site I know that many people view it through popular language translators. And so what better idea then to integrate this translation service for their use.
And best of all those people who are not aware of these translation services can now understand my words for the first time. Sure it provides a crude translation, but in mostly all cases at least it is understandable.
To use it just select the "language" tab just below the menu on the left and then pick French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, or Chinese. The English option is just to return from the translation, when the Altavista Babblefish translator will try to translate everything unless you do a special link back to this site.
There are now currently four problems that I now have to solve before this translation system is working perfectly.
The first of these is that there is a maximum word count before translation ends, which means that I will soon have to break my pages up into smaller sections.
Next problem is that there are just some things that simply should not be translated, which includes my postal address. For this reason I hope that this translation service supports "don't translate this section" tags, but if so I have yet to find out what they are.
The next problem I see that some words are not translated, when I have seen row after row of Japanese words with some English words left behind. Now I have no idea yet if this is due to a fault in the translation program, but even if it is my own poor English, then changing around a few words could help.
However I would have to go through all languages first to see if there is a pattern, which would then indicate a possible correction.
The last problem is that if my url gets corrupted into code, then it won't return to my site when selecting the English option. Although this is a rare problem I will still have to allocate for it, when finding my current url in the altavista url can sometimes fail.
Well those are all the problems, but one thing I do regret is that this translation service can translate Russian into English, but it cannot yet translate English into Russian. As that would have greatly helped my Russian invasion.
I will soon look into other translation services, when the more the better in my view. And certainly please let me know if you view my site through a translation service that I have yet to include, when although many of the main languages are now covered, there are a whole load more out there.
In the end it will be interesting to see if the Japanese, Korean, and Chinese options produce results, when I currently have zero customers in these countries.
The second major change required the consumption of several can of beer before I decided to upload it, when my previous attempt at Euro support did not go at all well at my last attempt. Still unlike back when the Euro first appeared this time at least I have a Euro bank account.
This is currently on a "test stage" when only if I can keep this currency as Euro from sale to purchase can I afford to use the direct currency rate. For Euro currency cheques that should not be a problem, but Euro cash is still questionable.
Well I guess that the worst that can happen is that I have to take a trip to London every few weeks in order to pay Euro cash directly into my branch. Although I have yet to discover at which branch my accounts are held, but I am sure that any branch is good enough.
In the end it is just not a good idea to convert the Euro to Sterling, when I need to be able to spend it without losing value. That I should be able to do, but that could be a bit more difficult.
As Euro cash is now a fact of life, then I expect to soon see some. When it is the case that right at this moment it makes no difference if you pay me in Sterling or Euro, when they have the exact same value.
I will have to figure out how to keep my Euro values up to date what with currency drift, but in the short term that is usually a minor thing.
Looking around then I see that not many other UK companies directly support the Euro, but I am sure that many do unofficially. However in the region of satellite reception then that seems nearly void, which means that the market in the UK at least is all mine.
In the end displaying Euro prices with direct Euro support is of great help for European customers. And that is why my on-site translation option is now twice as useful, when people in France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain (five of the countries now with the Euro) can now see the language and currency that they require.
And lets not forget Ireland, when they have the Euro and usually always speak English. Then of course many people in other Euro countries will often understand at least one of these six languages.
Now if only we had a European postal service with one price for the whole of Europe, but that is an issue for the future.
The translation option causes another problem I see, when although it leaves the pound "£" symbol alone, but it then corrupts the Euro "" symbol. So I am soon to point that out to altavista, but if they do not listen then I will have to quote EUR instead.
Very soon I am going to rewrite my welcome page, when some aspects are now out of date. And pointing out these two important features is a must, when I just have to get me an oversized Euro symbol.
Although Euro support elsewhere currently seems lacking I expect that to change by the end of February, when millions of people within Europe will then be forced to use the Euro. And that reminds me when I can only transfer Euro linked foreign currencies up to the end of this month, which means that I will soon remove these currencies from my converter.
As paying me in the Euro will save you £2 (handling fee) plus about 2.5% (buy rate), then say buying the single wafer card would now save you a huge amount. In fact buying even higher priced items is sure to be noticeable, when 2.5% can add up to a large amount.
Anyway, those are the two major additions today, but the third of the PayHound on-line payment option (including credit cards) will be here soon enough.
My next important task is to find an on-line payment service for the Euro, when on-line payment is an important aspect, when I am trying to treat Sterling and Euro exactly the same way.
And so I will have to keep an eye on services like the French MinutePay service, when it will be interesting to see what will happen when they can no longer use the Franc. As naturally when forced to use the Euro means that they will have payments from countries like Germany, Spain, Portugal, and Italy to deal with.
Those payments they certainly cannot block, but foreign account holders they can. And so in the end I will have to keep fingers crossed that some service can collect my Euros and put them into my Euro account here in the UK.
Given the easy international payment systems like using Visa, then that is no problem at all moving such Euros into my account. However for some reason I believe they would make that as difficult as possible, when getting a Euro account here in the UK already was.
Well I will soon search into such on-line payment services and see what they can offer, but at the end of February when they are forced to use the Euro, then could well make things a lot more possible. And so in the end that could be a future payment option.
That also reminds me that if you wish the Euro version of my automatic Order Form, then on the Sterling version just click Sterling Version until it changes to Euro Version. Internally that is still the Sterling version (in order to keep item information the same), when all displayed values are just then converted to Euro at the latest currency rate.
Although it is possible to combine the two forms into one I feel that it is best to keep them separate, when naturally NoChex and PayHound cannot handle Euros. And so maybe one day the Euro version of my order form will get its own European wide on-line payment option, but don't hold your breath for that one to appear.
3rd of January 2002
As expected we are now back from our annual Christmas and New Year holiday, which seemed to go well enough.
Since there are lots of orders to process today, then I will fill you in on the latest news later when I had best get to work.