I just faced head on a gruesome task for UK non residents: my UK yearly Income Taxation return. This is an opportunity to give the UK more of your hard earned capital, because God help us, they really do need it.
If you leave the UK to live (and possibly work abroad) certainly for more than one year you will be considered NON resident. At that point (but not necessarily before) your worldwide income is NOT subject to UK taxation.
However any UK sourced funds, such as Bank interest (ho ho), dividends from shares, the UK government would like you to pay tax on , and then argue the toss with the country you do live in i.e (to not pay tax on it again locally).
Domicile is the country you intend to retire to. So you can be Domiciled in UK (i.e. plan to return) whilst resident in say Germany.
So what are the steps when you leave the shores of the UK?
Also tell the Department of work and Pensions (DWP) your new non UK address so your UK pension contributions can be handled
Expect to receive a paper tax form yearly. In fact the online TAX submission system is theoretically not available to Non residents, probably the group who would benefit from it most
The UK tax year runs April 6 year - April 5 year+1. You need to send in the tax return by jan 31st of the year following assessment. Currently therefore the deadline of Jan 31 2010 is the deadline for the taxation year April 6 2008-April 5 2009
Even when non resident you should send in a return since they can choose to fine you for non submission.
To take my practical example:
I completed the P86 form on leaving UK
Mr Inland Revenue did not send me any paper. taxation forms for year 2008-2009. To avoid a potential fine I have completed the online form, which technically is not allowed, but has worked for the last 3 years.
I've a terrible suspicion that the UK government will not cut the yearly deficit and that the UK's fortunes will further deteriorate. This could lead to a devaluation of the the UK Pound so whatever UK state pension I might receive might be worth little in absolute UK terms and even less outside the UK. What a prospect!
This is a can of diet Red Bull left overnight at sub freezing temperatures. Rather than explode the can designers included some folds in it to allow for the 9% expansion caused of water turning to ice.
That's an example of good design, and so next let us consider the Apple iPad. Is this groundbreaking design?
From an Industrial Design and looks perspective it is gorgeous and advertised as such by Uncle Steve.
If it can perform better than a Netbook then the future looks bright. As Uncle Steve commented, Netbooks are worse (than notebooks) at everything!
Some of the claimed highlights are ability to watch movies, browse the Internet (via WiFi / 3G), read iBooks
Operate for 10 hours on a single battery charge, 10W power consumption
Run all existing iPhone Apps (since the Apple A4 processor is binary compatible with the iPhone )
Accelerometer and Light sensor
Proprietary Dock, speaker, microphone, SIM slot
VGA 1024x768 pixel output via dock
Early days, but I cannot imagine why the iPad is missing
GPS (maybe due to power consumption?)
At least one camera - for conferencing
A native USB port
A native SD or microSD slot
A cynic might say that the purposeful exclusion of the above is to make sure that this product does not cut into iPhone or MacBook sales.
WiFi Question Marks Just like the iPhone the iPad needs a mobile Internet connection to be useful. This raises the operability questions in some US states where AT&T 3G coverage is patchy and in many European Countries (e.g. Switzerland) where 3G data is still by expensive subscription only.
The Apple iPhone 3G S uses a Samsung processor incorporating an ARM Cortex-A8 processor core and Imagination's PowerVR SGX graphics core
The Apple iPad is going to be a phenomenal success. Users are going to be best pleased with the portability, battery life, and the ability to surf and read iBooks. The multitouch pointerless interface will set a new standard. Competitive eBook readers including the Nook and the Kindle will be crushed. By controlling what was included and what was purposefully left out, the iPad compliments the existing iTunes, iPhone and Macbook Apple infrastructure. In order to get best value and seamless integration however you had better switch to wholeheartedly Apple, they want your phone and laptop/desktop business, not just your Netbook replacement.
But I have found another excellent use for this rather miniscule player.
It makes a pretty perfect audio player whilst snowboarding.
Last Saturday you will see the second iteration of player wiring. That is using the Belkin iPod control attach the player to the arm. To operate the player whilst snowboarding you need to prod your arm and find the play button. In practice this cannot be done without removing your right glove.
The full story is
Iteration 1: Run the headphone wire down left arm and poke the Belkin remote just outside of the glove.
Result: After a few hours of snowboarding the Belkin control is almost broken since the wire extruding from the glove goes thru 90 degrees around the Belkin remote and the wiring just is not of a good quality.
Repair: Covered the remote in Duck tape but resolved to have it straight so the wire does not further deteriorate / break.
Iteration 2: Using Duck tape attach the Belkin remote and iPod Shuffle to top of left arm. Wire is now straight but difficult to find start/stop button as its under a ski jacket and fleece
Iteration 3: This is as good as it gets . Tested all Sunday. Attach ipod and Belkin remote to chest. Leave open ski jacket zip so remote button can be accessed quickly and accurately, sometimes even with right glove on.
Ideally Belkin would have constructed a more robust remote. I just knew it was too good to be true when I found this gadget in December 2009. Still it has made for a fantastically musical weekend of skiing and the pleasure of that cannot be understated.
The H20 Interval case is the companies 3rd generation waterproof iPod case to enter the fairly specialised market of musical swim-ware.
As a reluctant swimmer, but one determined to put in some real swimtime in the hope that my damaged hands can recover, waterproof MP3 players now more than ever are a necessity. Swimming without music is now so tedious that it pains me to even contemplate it.
The interval is going to be my fourth waterproof swimware case that I've used. As you can see the musical payload for this case is the 3G Apple iPod shuffle. Since this Shuffle 3G is considerably smaller and lighter than Shuffle 2G I had high hopes that the H2O case would follow the same trend. Think again! Although more convenient than the old case (shown above) and of higher quality plastic, it is actually larger. Somewhat annoying since I went to the trouble of buying a shuffle 3G just for the swimming.
Here is a picture of the unit connected to my daily swim goggles. So how does it rate?
Compared to the old Interval; the 3 buttons on the top are easier to use
The 3 buttons are similar to the Shuffle 3G controls i.e volume up and down, and the middle button start/stop and play list selection.
I bought the case with a "bargain pack" of H2O swim hat and goggles. The swim hat is great (worn inside out to avoid projecting a nerdy huge H2O logo). The goggles not so great ... I used their strap and my existing goggles. I stupidly believed their straps would be customised to the Interval edges. They are not! And after about 20 uses their strap just broke! Okay, I'm supposed to be reviewing the case, but still don't you think this is shoddy?
H2O continue to charge us non US customers a large (not small) fortune to ship to Europe. This has knock on consequences. For example, it would not be economic to get a replacement set of Goggles straps sent to me I'm sure. (Our previous Interval was faulty and we had to post it back at our expense!)
The sound quality is good, however for me my left ear sound reduces to almost 10% volume after a few minutes, which severely reduces my listening pleasure.
The case comes with several differing sizes of ear buds. I'd hoped this would sort out the differential volume, but unfortunately not.
In this design as for the previous Interval should the earphones break down or deteriorate you'll have to buy a whole new unit. Other units (i.e. case and separate headphones) are more flexible in that regard but more difficult to wear. Since the Interval is so compact it can easily sit on the goggle straps, other player and separate headphone lead combinations cannot.
You really don't need a high capacity Shuffle. Buy the cheapest 3G one. I put only about 2 hours music onto the Shuffle, which I change each day before my swim. It could be a topical audio Podcast or some music, the sound quality is clear enough to makes sense of even complex audiobooks/ spoken Podcasts.
I've praised these ultra lightweight shoes before. On the snow they provide surprisingly good traction and the upper mesh by the laces might not be GoreTex but provides good resistance to Snow ingress. In other words, after an hour or two Snow, or melted water will enter these shoes but not unduly. So, for a 3 to four hour mountain snow run ascent, these shoes are a fine choice. For temperatures below -2 degrees C, you will however need something more substantial.
OK, It was a toss up between some thermal Decathlon running trousers or the above tights. The tights were chosen because they rise above the waist and so help to keep the upper body warm. The padded behind helps when you fall over and the padded legs offer similar protection against the cold and also a slip and consequent fall.
This thick top is ideal for weather conditions below 10 degrees C. It is warm and doubles as a wind stopper. Wear it with another layer underneath and you are pretty good down to about -2 degrees C, so long as you are exercising (i.e. stop and this double layer strategy will not be sufficient)
These strap on walkers are for when our chosen shoes, namely the Speedcross 2 soles don't provide quite enough traction. The Yaktrax provide just a little more. These were bought as a test and their flimsy construction will not last forever. Now that I've established they do work, if I bought again I'd go for a more substantial model.
Black Diamond GTX gaiters are solidly constructed and have a nice design whereby you can step into the gaiter then clip it to your laces and finally Velcro the sides together. The elasticated pull at the top pulls tight to seal in the top against the snow.
In practice: The above combination worked a treat. We set off on a 2 hour plus walk up a series of Ski pistes (with sets of bemused snowboards looking on) and then on some dedicated Snow trails. We did carry the TSL snowshoes on the back of our rucksacks but we did not need them. The Decathlon tights kept my legs warm and the Kipsta Top is a good enough protection against the modest wind and the -2 degrees temperature. The Speedcross 2 shoes continue to be amazing. They have enough traction to ascend a pisted ski slope or trundle thru loose snow. In loose snow the Black Diamond gaiters prevented the knee high loose snow from entering my socks and shoes.
The great thing about not using snow shoes is that you can run down an descents whereas on show shoes you would just have to plod down. So you save time, use up that extra energy and feel great.
Summary: On a snowy mountainside you will still need your TSL shoes. However for a 3-4 hour trek up a mountain on a piste or semi compacted surface there are faster alternatives. In particular our combination of Salomon Speedcross 2 shoes + Black Diamond Gaiters + decathlon cycling bibs provided a better and running alternative.
Did you ever wonder how to operate a 2009 genre Apple Shuffle? Well I did and besides watching the Apple Shuffle guided tour in essence:
Now that's out of the way, why buy a shuffle given that I already own a current Apple Nano? Well my excuses are
Marginally smaller and Lighter
Fits inside the latest H2o interval swimming case
As most people are aware in order to shut out the competition provide higher functionality a proprietary headphone interface and therefore headphones are provided so that volume start/stop and track forward/backward are available via the Apple multifunction button just below one of the ear pieces.
Now that Apple have licensed the electronics to third parties, adapters have become available. So using the Belkin Headphone Adapter for iPod shuffle I can plug the excellent Sony MDR-ED21LP bass boost headphones. (The supplied iPhone headphones just fall straight out of my ears so what can I do?)
After 2 weeks of ownership shuffle ownership means ...
A little smaller than the current Apple Nano but the lack of a screen means don't use this as your primary MP3 player
Can now be used with "standard" headphones via the Belkin adapter as shown above
Fits into the latest H2o interval waterproof case so at last great for swimming
Without a screen you'd normally put files into a playlist, sync that with your Shuffle. For me the idea of downloading multiple playlists and selecting them via the press and hold button on the control is ridiculous. In that regard then the smaller 2GB model is perfectly adequate.
The clip is very useful to attach your player to clothing whilst running. However this does not help if it is raining in which case this (Shuffle) and my existing Nano would need to be sealed inside a plastic bag. So in dry conditions this is the best MP3 player but for wet weather I'd go back to the Nano
To be tested at a weekend shortly: Probably great whilst snowboarding. Whilst wearing those elephantine gloves it has always been difficult to manipulate the Nano. In fact it is normally, slow down, remove right hand glove, stop or start Nano inside trousers, replace glove, accelerate. There is hope that I'll be able to manipulate shuttle whilst wearing full boarding gloves.
A few years ago I had the misfortune to order an ASUS R2H from a less than well meaning company Artcomp (Switzerland).
After supplying me with a computer with an Operating System I could not use (German Windows XP, tablet edition) I had to migrate to the vastly slower Windows Vista, since Artcomp refused to take the computer back or give me any sort of refund.
Despite its faults the ASUS R2H has been our constant travel companion and lately I've experimented with trying to make it more usable.
Basic specs: Pathetically weak CPU Tablet PC 2GB memory 60GB 1.8" slow hard disk GPS External Screen Port 2x USB Port 100Mbit wired LAN and wireless LAN Bluetooth Various buttons and joystick on the front of machine Fingerprint reader No attached keyboard (but was supplied with an inscrutable German language keyboard)
You can see that if this machine could actually perform faster than a snail it might be rather useful
The Golden rule: Backup Before reinstallation of your hand crafted computer, consider the possibility that your new installation might end up worse rather than better. So BACKUP! As usual I'd recommend Acronis True Image Home
Before reformatting ... some timings on the Vista Business installation
Startup: 022 seconds to Microsoft Corp progress bar 112 seconds to Vista login prompt 247 seconds to desktop appearing after logon 644 seconds for CPU to come down from 100% busy 830 seconds for CPU to become 10% busy (dropped from 100%) 2GB memory, 774MB cached, 737MB free
I selected various VGA screen modes on the appended command line installation. Nothing worked. I suppose on reflection I could have connected an external screen but I only have the 2560x1600 monitors handy and they can't be driven from a lowly analog output So I gave up. Yet again Linux has let me down. (And I say this as a UNIX, principally enterprise UNIX devotee).
Upgrade from Vista Professional fails - but takes 7 hours to do so
Base Install of Windows 7 Professional suceeds. With Defender and Firefox and AVG installed some basic benchmarks are:
012 seconds to progress bar
095 seconds GUI appears
105 seconds login prompt
138 desktop interaction possible
310 seconds to CPU quiescent state
030 seconds to shutdown
Some tweaking later: 160 seconds to CPU quiescent state with tweaking (stopped some services and turned off disk restore points) 020 seconds to shutdown
Final Thoughts The ASUS R2H is certainly more usable running Windows 7. I think disabling disk restore points was the stroke of genius, something I'd been reluctant to do in Vista, although I can't think why.
Windows 7 recognised the touchscreen and treats it as a tablet. You can redefine the logical screen to be 1024x600 and then the it pans around the physical 800x600 screen quite nicely.
The GPS and wireless and wired Ethernet works, Readyboost works, the SD card reader works. Overall then; it's now merely frustrating, not impossibly frustratitng to use. Still I would rather have a nice Dell Vostro V13, a snip at about 500 GBP and contains a real keyboard!
Some years ago, and just days before Santa's yearly sleigh was loaded with presents I volunteered to fly down to Southern Europe and help IBM Marketing make their yearly install quota of IBM UNIX computers.
So next time the old folks have a problem, you can take over their PC's screen and keyboard, see exactly what they are complaining about, fix the problem and prove to them that you are the computer genius they always thought you were.
We reported earlier on the fact that you can log onto the interweb and program your Bluewin TV whilst away from Switzerland. Ideal when you want to record that TV program that somebody tells you about and you are not home.
Whilst doing this we noticed that the programming guide seemed to include many more English channels than we had. So this Saturday armed with a glass of wine and a remote control we started at Channel 1 and pressed the UP Programme button. We are relieved but also slightly embarrassed to report that a pretty full compliment of UK channels (e.g Channel 4) are indeed available. Click on the bitmap above to enhance or follow this link
They also seem to have online over 40 BBC radio stations. It's quite mind boggling. I put these onto my favourites list:
I think this is the phrase that comes to my mind almost exactly one year after my fateful fall in the snow in January 2009.
After a little over 3 months of agonizing pain in my arms preventing their movement, and even sustained sleep (I could not lie down) the pains receeded. However since May 2009 though the pain was gone the paralysis in both my left and right hands has not improved, at all. No change. Nothing.
This means amongst other things ...
An inability to perform any fine hand motions involving pickup of any small object.
Certain movements e.g. certain right rotations are not possible with the left hand or forearm.
Writing with the left hand is now impossible and writing in the right hand difficult (I fail Credit Card signature checks now). It would be impossible to play my violin and accurate typing is now a thing of the past. Just some random examples.
The good news then if any is that since I'm now "between contracts" I've decided to step up the daily exercise regime. Forget 1-2 hours. I think 2-3 hours could be achieved.
So it is more running, more swimming and more hand exercises and self Physio. Let's see if this can positively restore my total health back to normal.
I was shocked to hear that Monsignor Joseph Serge Miot, the archbishop of Port-au-Prince, has died in the Haiti earthquake. What does it say about Gods mysterious plan, to let such a devout man die and to allow such untold suffering on the people of Haiti.
There have of course been some religious justifications:
It's so difficult to bad mouth Google. With an established arsenal of excellent products the Nexus One phone holds out the promise of a phone that's got the features of the Apple iPhone without the tyranical, closed source mother company (I am referring to Apple ).
The obvious gotcha for existing iPhone and iPod users is to allow the Nexus one to connect and sync with iTunes. Why? Because I still regard the Nano and Shuffle as leading class players that I will continue to use and I'd like to maintain a single music and Podcast collection, manged by iTunes. I wonder if something like DoubleTwist might make that possible.
An innovative idea shown here in the form of a Netbook whose screen is a detachable tablet. Of course I'm yearning to find the muscular individual who has the strength to carry a cellphone, Netbook, tablet and notebook. And who have time enough to synchronise files between these devices and your office and home desktops.
If this idea was supported on a regular laptop then it could show some promise. If the detachable tablet had enough of an OS to support browsing and a SSD for shared data storage (with the notebook), then I might just take the tablet (and phone) on smaller trips and the combined laptop (and phone) on longer ones. But in that "I like to scroll" small screen Netbook format, well I'm not so sure.
Perfect for capturing those great jumps and low falls on the ski pistes. For those of you who do snap pictures and movies whilst out on the slopes, it's actually quite a good idea, not to mention a lot safer.
I'm a great supported of Shuttle computer which for years has provided powerful desktop computing in an affordable and importantly silent and compact form factor.
The latest high end Intel X58 and potentially liquid cooled gamer versions will improve on the already fine selection. The move to a standard Mini ITX motherboard format is welcomed, though in practice very few people will change theirs.
I think however, that if your requirements are short to medium term you might as well select the existing and available SX58H7 because the improvements are not significant enough.
Shuttle had an idea to create a notebook motherboard standard and offer it to OEMs at low volumes (sub 1000 units). Sure their mock ups were not perfect, but showing a bare motherboard would not have caught people imagination. Shuttle should be complimented on such a great idea.
Now not just a software platform but in a Dlink cooperation with Boxee a hardware media centre style platform that will display Internet content (music, movies etc) onto your Television.
If you have to got this way around (i.e. PC and Internet content) to a Television set then this seems like one of the best ways forward. However I'd personally recommend the reverse .. Home/Lounge silent PC connected to a PC quality screen with an internal TV tuner. Somewhat more expensive though.
And the Not so great ..
What a load of crap! A main event at CES this year, but personally as a minnow television and nano sports TV viewer, who gives a ****. I'm sure film studios everywhere are crying with the thoughts of the further technological challenges to shooting movies in 3D. 3D is for real life, at the movies or in home 2D is just fine for me.
Apple We're not attending an event we can't control (allegedly), so no CES presence for us. Meanwhile we (Apple) did nothing to stop the improbable rumours of a 4G iPhone (4G as in 4th generation of iPhone not 4G telephony), or an Apple tablet.
Feature innovation there might be, but hopefully people might begin to notice that Sensor size not pixel resolution and infeasible large feature set is the key to a good camera. By all means add in a GPS or touch screen as well, just so long as the quality of the photographs (governed by sensor size) are good. Remember it is a camera! It is for photographs.
In the current marketplace vendors like Amazon and Barnes and Noble provide both the reader and the e-Books. The e-Books subsidise the reader to an extent. I can't imagine anybody really investing in this technology until we see what Apple has to say. With an Apple device people will buy the proposed hardware (since it will be more than an e-Book reader). So e-Book suppliers can then just sell publications at cost. The competition, well their probably won't be any. So no matter how inviting it might seem, do not jump in, not yet.
Surely some kind of wind up? A company claims that you can derive meaningful power to charge up your portable device from Wi-Fi energy. Come on!
And: in the "What were they thinking" category
Celebrity Ware: e.g. Beats by Dre headphones Ed Hardy Blingware Lady Gaga designed headphones Probably what LG knows about the design of a good sounding headphone can be written on a headphone bud.
Samsungs transparent MP3 player and transparent laptop When you really want to make sure that you have no personal privacy Toshiba's ultra expensive Cell processor 3D TV Not content with losing the BlueRay vs HD-DVD format wars Toshiba want to go it alone once more in the already doomed 3D TV maketplace. Implausibly this TV, price unknown, can render 2D into 3D. Hopefully it will be so expensive that they'll never have to produce and then sell one, and lose another format war.