Mad prices

Just been reading that in London if you earn the average salary and have a £25,000 deposit you can buy a £100,000 based on 3X Income multiple for your mortgage.

This means anyone on the average salary fortunate to have £25,000 in savings can only afford a £100,000 place in london.

Slight problem with this is that unless you wish to live in a ghetto or a camp site, 100K will get you very little indeed. The average price of property in London is  £348,585.  :disdain:

At that rate it’s going to take me 17.49 years if saving, not that I want to buy a house anyway.. :laugh:

Reading & writing Chinese on XP

Like many others, I’ve spent ages trying to get Microsoft to show websites correctly and actually be able to read and write Chinese characters on a non-Chinese version of XP.

There’s bits and pieces on the web on how to overcome this but I found them not so useful (especially as I don’t have the installation discs to hand for Chinese character support or ahem.. am running a pirate installation…:-P)

Unfortunately you have to have admin rights to be able to set up Microsoft IME via the control panel and be able to write characters using the MS pinyin imput method. You also need admin access to be able to change windows so it defaults non-Unicode programs to use simplified Chinese – if you don’t do this when you load QQ all you see is squares…

There is a way around this if you don’t happen to have admin access to your machine i.e You’re at work . You can install NJStar CJK Viewer .

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ebook reader

I got to try one of these out the other day, It’s a Sony ebook reader which is meant to be the future for digital publishing. It’s really slim and about the size of a paperback and can hold over 100 books on it depending on the size of the hard-disc.  I work in digital publishing so hear a lot about these things and how they will revolutionise everything but I’m not so convinced ?:-)

Granted It’s very clever and lots of design has gone into the screen which looks as crisp as I’ve ever seen a screen – apparently it uses real ink to make it look more like a real book.  Having said this I am yet  to stare at it for hours on end in order to see if my eyes hurt just as they do when you look at a computer monitor for too long. ..The battery life is almost endless with 7500 page turns before it needs changing.

I do see the advantage of being able to have 100 books on one reader, for students it could be a very useful resource and would alleviate the need to have textbooks for everything. For the traveller who can’t get editions abroad, they could have all the books they ever want stored in one location.  So for a select few it could prove to be a very useful gadget to have.

The problem is that at the moment there are very few e-format books that can be bought and downloaded from the major publishers. And so part of what I’m doing in my current job is to help get all the titles converted so they are available in E format.

As you’ve probably guessed, I’m quite cynical about this.  I don’t really think many people (beyond those in digital publishing!) will go out and by one of these devices with their own money. Firstly they’re really expensive, £250 is the figure going around, just for the reader – then you need books and they cost the same price as the print equalivant!

There’s no way I’d pay £30 for an eBook, even if it was the best book ever written. :X-P:

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Some pics from the snow this morning.  I’ve haven’t seen this much snow fall in London since I was about 5.  It hardly ever snows here and when it does it seldom gets cold enough to settle in the city. 🙂  Perhaps the rareness of it all has caused everything to temporarily shut down…Snow on Sydenham Highstreet

There must be 3 inches at most, but there are no trains and the buses have all been cancelled on ‘health and safety grounds’.   I daresay in the summer when there’s

a coupe of days with +30C temperatures, people will be dying from sunstroke, hosepipes will be banned and trains won’t run ‘because its too hot’.

It Just shows how useless people in the south of England are at adapting to different types of weather.

Other countries with far fewer resources at their disposal manage just fine. Afterall, the roads in Changchun are frozen for 3 months of the year

but they manage so much better than people do here, and on far fewer resources.    The media gets into such a hysteria over it all, making the situation worse than it really is.  Perhaps they just want something to report on?? ?:-)

I did actually try to get to work and started to walk the 6 miles or so, but I turned back and gave up as I was  constantly thinking  ‘who else in my office would bother walking this far to work‘ .   It’s cynical I know, but why bust-a-gut when you know that no-one else has bothered and you’ll get paid regardless….

In a better place  people would be rewarded for getting into work in such situations or simply would not get paid for not being there.

No excuses!   I’m sure if this was the case then most people would find a way into the office, I know I would!

Perhaps one day, people on this little island will learn to get on with life when the weather isn’t overcast and grey, (aprox 50 days per year) though I feel this will take such a seismic cultural shift, I doubt it will ever happen in my lifetime.

元 v £

It’s just my luck that now I’m working in the UK they value of the Pound to Renminbi has fallen over a third in a little over 3 months. It always used to be around the 15yuan to 1 pound mark, so that 100 yuan was about 7 pounds or so. :clown:

But now 100 yuan is worth less than 10 pounds…I saw a dodgy bureau-de-change in Chinatown offering 8.9 to the pound!! :no:

This makes China suddenly seem that much more expensive! Exporters must be feeling the pinch with this kind of strengthening in RMB – Likewise Chinese salaries don’t seem as poultry as they once did. Personally, I don’t think the Pound will get back to 15 anytime soon, with interest rates here being so low and the economy apparently about to implode… As long as the Yuan is pegged to the US Dollar, and the Pound stays weak against the Dollar this will continue.

Don’t think I’ll be going back to China until the exchange rate gets better! :beatup:

Exchange Rate

Exchange Rate

Coughs and Colds

I write this sitting in the office during my lunch break, unusually the sun is shining outside and the office is pretty much empty. The pic below shoes what I see in the evenings out of the window, It’s something I still can’t quite get used to.

Things have died down, though annoyingly I am still busy with lots of things going on. Over the last few months the atmosphere at my work has changed, the CEO has announced a pay freeze (on everyones pay except his, some thing never change!) and I am certain that more people will lose their jobs next year (despite what the business says to the contrary).

I guess you have to be positive, so in a perverted way, it gives an ideal opportunity for business to offload the dead wood, those that come to work do very little (apart from watch BBC sport online) and blame the job cuts it on the economy.


It’s that time of the year when people start to get colds and coughs and the perennial ‘flu bug’ goes round. What I’ve noticed over the last few weeks is that there is this mentality (certainly where I work anyway) where people will come to work anyway if they are not feeling well, in the hope that it will go away and they will grin and bear it.

You can’t question the work-ethic of such thinking, but for me it’s very short-sited, selfish and ultimately stupid.

I am very lucky in that I seldom get Ill, but I can’t help feeling annoyed by people that come to work with horrible coughs and colds exposing their germs and bacteria to everyone they get near to. It is selfish and stupid. So of course, those that are not sick soon become Ill and the cycle continues to the point where, last week, so many people were actually off work sick, normal operation of the business suffered.

So many people here can choose to work from home if they are not feeling great, but still feel up to working-they don’t even have to come into the office – So why is is that so many people come to work sick or coughing their guts up and spreading their diseases, when they should be at home?

Mis education

People think it will go away (which to be fair, it will do eventually) they can grin and bear it. Macho attitude – weak to admit you are sick.!

Don’t understand/don’t care just how easy it is for you to pass a cold on to another person (i.e handshake)

Attitude and social values –

Some people think its bad to be Ill and will pretend they are ok. Don’t know why this is, may be a certain stigma is attached to people who can’t work, on benefits etc…

Importance –

Some will go to work as there is something they must attend/do.

Even if they are suffering from the plague they must attend.

It’s interesting contrasting this with China.  Despite it being generally dirtier in Chinese cities and less hygienic for sure, many in the west would think the Chinese are hypochondriacs and overreact to illnesses.

There are some nasty bugs in China that you don’t get in the UK, but the obvious reason for this kind of hypochondria (beyond the fact that nobody really wants to be sick) is lack of employment rights (i.e no sick pay/statutory benefits are almost non existent) and health care costing money.

You get sick, you pay.

I don’t get it, it’s one of the (very few) advantages of the social system that exists in the UK whereby you are legally entitled to not have to go into work if you are unwell. You even GET PAID (unless you work for yourself), If you get really Ill, you continue to get paid in some cases for 6 months or more. You even get free health care, ok you have to pay for a prescription, but access to see a doctor does not cost you a penny!


I also think there is a way of doing things that has grown out of personal car ownership whereby people seldom wear warm clothes that were once worn in the UK; thermals, long coats, thick jumpers are a thing of the past. People get out of their warm cars and don’t spend long amounts of time outside like they used to – I think this is a contributor to sickness and Illness as it makes people more susceptible to illness, but I’m not doctor this is just a thought…


Maybe I am cynical in my attitude, but I think that I am almost entitled to my days off work from sickness. If I feel unwell, I wont go to work. In the UK don’t feel I have to justify this to anybody, after all I pay more than my fair share of taxation that supports this very social system :soldier: !!!  I’m not talking about abusing the system i.e. being ‘sick’ and claiming benefits from the government, rather than working. It’s more a case of making the most of what you pay for and not spreading your illness to others in the office.

In China when I was sick I would not get paid or would have to make up the hours missed. However, I paid very little tax, so when I was Ill I knew that I would have to pay from my own pocket. This is a harsher system and detrimentally affects those that are more susceptible to illness like the Old and the very young , but from a purely selfish perspective it’s better for me in my current situation!

Pros and Cons

Having worked in an office environment for almost a year, I have come to fully appreciate how much better your quality of life can be working in different environments each day.  Not just stuck indoors, at a desk, looking at a screen most of the day.  Being around  different people and having the freedom to choose how you approach your daily life does have its advantages.

I guess I am in a better position now to reflect upon these things, I guess strangely what’s best about this is that having the experience gives you the chance to put  things into a perspective that others don’t have; helps you see things in another light.

I spent almost 3 years teaching English in China full or part time and it was one of the most interesting and rewarding things I’ve ever done. At times it was tough, frustrating and difficult, but overall I still beleive it’s a positive thing to do if you ever get the chance.

Saying this,  teaching is an incredibly tiring thing to do. It is not like a desk-job – you have to constantly be on the ball and the amount of speaking/exertion of energy is quite high, which can really drain you.

I would say that it is more tiring than the 7am-7pm day I  have at the moment, even with all the commuting.

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