Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Vital Nature

February 3, 2018

Do not deal with this company, once they have credit/debit card details, will bill for goods not ordered. Credit/debit card will be used for fraudulent attacks on bank account.

Daily nuisance phone calls.  Many in a day, a male and female take it in turns to call, often several silent phone calls.

This is harassment, should be reported to police, trading standards, local media and bank. Ask bank to block Vital Nature, their fraud department to flag Vital Nature as fraud, and to be vigilant to any fraudulent attack on the account.

01618841299

Nuisance phone calls. Classed as harassment.

Foreign accent, possibly Indian.

Possibly linked to credit card fraud.

The number is possibly faked, as no response when called, does not appear to exist.

There is also an associated number.

02048885162

Female, foreign, French accent or similar.

The number, second number, may also be faked, when called back, does not exist.

Both numbers are associated with a company in France called Vital Nature.

scam

The scam take several forms.

They take credit/debit card details, then keep billing for goods not ordered, supply goods not ordered, goods ordered do not arrive, demand payment for shipping costs.

The goods they supply, the pills and potions and health foods, are what can be bought in Holland and Barrett at a fraction of the price.

The pills and potions are of dubious provenance, may not be what they say they are, are putting your health at risk.

One when analysed, was found to contain lead.

Vitamin D, a fat soluble vitamin, the dosage if taken was several hundred times the recommended daily dose.

They also claim, won a prize, or a cheque with your name is waiting, but to secure, only have to place an order, and it is guaranteed yours.

Once they have credit/debit card details, fraudulent attacks on bank account using account details.

If have any problems report to bank, trading standards and police.

It also important to warn friends and family.

If foolish enough to order from this company, instruct bank to block any transactions, also to be vigilant for fraudulent attack.

Vital Nature make many calls during the day, including silent calls which are illegal.

Why is Vital Nature still in business? The Office for Fair Trading warned in 2007 about a catalogue company behind the Vital Beauty, Vital Nature and Phyderma brands.

Why is HSBC refusing to flag in their fraud department?

Gourmet Moments

Gourmet Moments appears to be a sister company operates from the same address in France, operates the same scam, including the nuisance phone calls claiming money is owed for bogus orders or shipping costs.

PhyDerma

PhyDerma, another sister company of Vital Nature, offering the same dodgy pills and potions.

The day after a bumper load of rubbish from Vital Nature, two identical mailshots from PhyDerma. Have won £150,000. The winning numbers different. Implies a sequence of these winning numbers.

Delivered by Royal Mail. Begs the questions why is Royal Mail aiding and abetting a known fraudster? Other than they are making money off the back of fraud.

Nuisance phone calls, same spiel as Vital Nature, you owe for delivery of goods not even aware had been ordered.

Parcel from Vital Nature

Parcel from Vital Nature, kindly delivered by Royal Mail.

At least half a dozens bottles of pills and potions? No, one box of cream.

Packed inside more offers, including another scam linked to Vital Nature, my Shopping Centre.

Scammers

Vital Nature is the tip of a very nasty iceberg. Once caught in the net, details are passed on to other scammers.

One victim received seven letters in the post from one scammer, and that was one day and not the only scam post from scammers that day.

Catalogues, order goods, receive free gift. Then more catalogues arrive seemingly selling the same goods, same scam only a different name.

Mints offering must have commemorative coins. Once order one, they then ship coins which have not been ordered, for which they bill for if not sent back.

Long lost relative surfaces in Australia, would love to see family in UK, only lacks the air fare.

Another long lost relative has left money to you, all you have to do is pay an administrative fee.

You have won the Australian Lottery, to release your winnings it is necessary to pay an administrative fee.

Dodgy builders knock at the door.  Amazing how much work you did not know needed doing. The roof needs a special spray to make it waterproof, your lucky day they just happen to be running a special offer.

Dodgy builder takes note did you need to unlock the door when opening, did you check who was at the door first, was there a security chain across the door? All useful information to be passed to his mate the opportunist burglar.

Nottingham Knockers, a doorstep criminal gang selling cheap rubbish can buy at Poundland, operating out of a  warehouse in Nottingham, sob story forced to sell door-to-door to avoid being on the Dole. Details of house security will be passed to their mates the opportunist burglar.

The cost to the economy in the UK is estimated at several billion pounds a year, and that is thought to be an underestimate.

Facebook

You are making the life of fraudster so much easier when you put all your personal information on Facebook, name of dog, where you went to school, where you work, name of partner.

Overwrite all personal information with fake information, then several days later, delete.

Never put live links on Facebook. If you visit somewhere, do not turn into into a live link.

Facebook is not a social media site. Facebook exists solely to collect personal information on you,  information which is then sold.

Surveys

Surveys and questionnaires, do not fill them out.

These are scams to collect personal information, which is then sold.

Loyalty cards

No these cards are not to reward your loyalty with worthless points. They exist to monitor your shopping habits.

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Pret a Manger launch organic takeaway filter coffee at 49p a cup

January 2, 2018

I’m delighted you can now get 50p off a hot drink when you bring your reusable cup to Pret. I hope this will make a difference. — Pret a Manger chief executive Clive Schlee

As of today,  organic takeaway filter coffee from Pret a Manger at 49p a cup.

And the catch? Have to bring own cup for a refill.

Strictly speaking not a catch, it is to encourage use of reusable cups and discourage waste, reduce the number of plastic-lined throwaway cups that go to landfill or incineration.

Or is it?

In the absence of in-store information, no reusable cups on sale in store, store lacking the facility to relax with a coffee out of a ceramic cup, it will make little difference in the use of throwaway cups and will be seen as a PR stunt nothing more.

Note: Mainstream media carry the same story more or less word for word. That is what counts as journalism these days, cut and paste from a press release.

How long will this scheme last once the PR advantage has been milked? In 2016 tax-dodging Starbucks scrapped its own 50p discount for customers who bring their own cup just three months after it was introduced. It does of course raises the obvious question why would anyone who appreciates coffee wish to drink what is called coffee in Starbucks?

We need transparency, we need to see what the figures were before and after this scheme introduced.

Pret a Manger are not pioneers in this. Many indie coffee shops have been offering a discount if bring back a cup to be filled, the main difference, they have on sale resusable cups.

UK ships 500,000 tonnes of plastic to China every year. This is not recycling, this is dumping. China has said it will no longer take plastic waste from the UK.

The UK throws away 2.5 billion takeaway coffee cups every year. The planet is being destroyed by plastic.

One of the first steps we can take is to eliminate the use of throwaway  plastic-lined takeaway coffee cups.

And that is the problem, the cups are lined with plastic, cannot be recycled, go to landfill or incineration or are thrown in the street.

Compostable paper cups are available. Fine, if on way home, drop off on the compost heap, but what if not, what then to do with the paper cup? It will end up in the waste stream.

Reusable cups, eg KeepCup, have  a role for office workers popping out for a coffee and taking back to the office. Beyond that limited use as bulky, expensive, and a pain to carry around.

This is to address the symptoms. What we have to do is discourage the grab it and go culture, which Pret a Manger encourages, and encourage relax in an indie coffee shop with a  cup of speciality coffee served in a ceramic cup.

Happy New Year 2018

January 1, 2018

Another year passed, another year begins.

Happy New Year

Feliz año nuevo

Ευτυχισμένο το νέο έτος

С новым годом

 

Frank Green Smart Cup

December 31, 2017

It is difficult to see anything positive about this reusabale coffee cup.

Ugly, bulky, plastic, expensive.

I am reminded of the cheap and tacky plastic cups on sale in Waitrose.  The main difference, those from Waitrose retail at £3.

What are the whole life cycle costs of a product made of plastic? It is claimed to be recyclable, but no information how.

I would not wish to drink out of plastic.

I first came across the Frank Green Smart Cup in Stokes at The Lawn. I asked how much? No one knew, no one could ever recall one being sold, let alone used.  They thought a tenner, maybe  a little more.

Did they give a discount if used? Yes, but no one knew. They said you scan the cup.

I checked on the Stokes website.  Price range £12-50 to £14-50, which puts it mid-range between a plastic and glass KeepCup.  On Amazon the price much higher, £26.15 plus £9.05 delivery charge. 

20p discount if bring the Frank Green cup back to Stokes for a refill.

I give Stokes as an example not as a criticism of Stokes.  What it illustrates is a more fundamental problem, the lack of take up of let alone use of reusable cups, be they Frank Green or the more desirable KeepCup.

20p discount is not going to encourage use of reusable cups. Even where coffee shops have been offering a substantial discount the take up has been minimal.

In the New Year, Pret a Manger are going to be offering takeaway organic filter coffee at 49p a cup, if you bring your own cup to fill. That is 50p discount. With no information in store, no reusable cups on sale in store, no launch on their twitter account, it remains to be seen what will be the take up of this offer. Assuming it is not a clever PR stunt, nothing more.

Reusable cups have to be carried around. In Stokes would have to use in excess of 50 times to recover initial investment in the cup.

What is a smart cup? What makes it smart? What differentiates a smart cup from a dumb cup?

A chip in the lid that present to pay for your coffee.  The chip communicates with an app on a smart phone.

I would agree with Brian writing in Brian’s Coffee Spot:

The lid contains Frank Green’s other major selling point. It has a chip in it, which supports both loyalty cards and payment methods. Called CaféPay, this means you can actually pay with your cup and, for example, automatically get a discount since your using a reusable cup. Obviously how useful this becomes will depend on how many retailers support it. It’s clearly a neat feature, but I can’t help feeling it’s a solution looking for a problem. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’ve never found myself in a coffee shop thinking how great it would be if I could pay with my cup.

 
Brian also says it is bulky.

I agree, a solution looking for a problem. I have never been in a coffee shop thinking, now if only I could pay for my coffee with a coffee cup lid. What is wrong with cash?  About as useless as bitcoin for payment in the real world.

And if I were to buy a smart cup in Stokes can I use this dumb system to pay for coffee in other coffee shops?

I can find no information on the Frank Green website on why the cup is smart or how it is used.

There was no information in Stokes. My attention was drawn after reading about Lulu. A stranded whale that died, and the sculpture hanging from the ceiling. I had wondered why, when they opened in the summer, why a whale suspended from the ceiling. It is made of recycled plastic, to highlight plastic pollution.

I asked, were their takeaway cups compostable paper? No, but they are looking into it.  I suggested talk to Makushi, who are now using compostable paper cups.

Compostable cups are a step in the right direction.

What appear to be paper cups are not, they have a plastic liner. They cannot be recycled.

Plastic pollution is destroying the planet.

Compostable coffee cups are better than the throwaway disposable takeaway cups. The UK throws away 2.5 billion every year which go to landfill or incineration.

But …. and it is a big but …. it does not solve the waste problem.

Let us assume I have been shopping at the market or the fruit and vegetable shop in Bailgate, have a bag of fresh produce, am on my way home, I can then pop my cup in with the fruit and vegetables, when I get home throw on the compost heap.

So far so good.

But what if not? What do I do with my compostable cup? Throw it in the bushes, over the wall in a garden, in the river?

That is the dilemma.

What in reality will happen it will join the waste stream.

Something like a KeepCup on sale, bring back for a refill. Disadvantage, expensive, have to cart around. Only really works if popping out from the office for a coffee to take back to the office.  And that is the market Stokes should target, office workers popping out for a coffee to take back to the office, and with a larger discount, and KeepCup not a Frank Green Smart Cup.

What we have to do is discourage the grab and go, mindless consumption culture.

Encourage people to sit and relax with a coffee out of a ceramic cup.

And to be fair to Stokes at The Lawn, their clientele is people wishing to relax with a coffee or afternoon tea.  And if you sit in the back room, can watch their coffee roasting operation.

If I were to advise Stokes, it would be get shot of the Frank Green cups, replace with KeepCup, which can have the Stokes brand, target office workers with a  substantial discount, encourage relax in the coffee shop with a  coffee.

How not to, a flyer I picked up from Coffee Aroma. I thought it was offering 50% discount on a cup of coffee. Sadly not. It is offering 50% on a takeaway. Please no. We should not be encouraging takeaway, we should be discouraging. Scrap the offer, reverse it, and instead, issue a flyer offering 50% discount if sit in and relax with a cup of coffee.  By all means a discount of 50% if bring own cup for a refill.

Disposable cups are not the only waste coffee shops generate, the coffee grounds, milk making cappuccino.

Best use of coffee grounds, put out for gardeners to take away. The milk, already warm, can be used for making yogurt.

Speciality coffee shops have focused on the supply chain, direct trade, sustainable trade. They now need to look at what happens after they have brewed an excellent cup of coffee.

Is Patreon a scam?

December 9, 2017

Of the 65,000 people using Patreon to support themselves and their art, only 2% make more than the federal minimum wage.– Feral Williams

Patreon is an online platform where you can literally contribute pennies to support people.

When Medium started charging to read articles, a few writers put a Patreon button on each of their pages. Maybe it was not Patreon, maybe it was something else, but the concept was the same, to enable a reader to support a writer they liked.

Brian Williams writes Brian’s Coffee Spot, a blog about coffee. You cannot miss it, a huge button, please support me on Patreon, not exactly subtle.  He asks people to support him to  do what he likes, drinking coffee and not have to support himself with a day job.

As I write, he is in China, so the day job has some advantages.

He has on twitter 14.8k followers. How many his blog attracts I do not know.

On Patreon,  he has four supporters contributing $3 per post.

This is not to single out Brian Williams, but to illustrate the point, the only one making money out of Patreon is Patreon.

Naomi Wu, a designer in Shenzhen, says patrons who support her with $1 are paying for a bag of screws, those who donate $5 are paying for her lunch.

Singer-songwriter Jewelia uses Patreon, she could equally use bandcamp where she releases her music. To raise funds for her new album, City of the Mind, she used crowdfunding.

Patreon is yet another platform that attracts Vulture Capitalists, hoping to inflate the value, then sell out at the peak.

We have been here before, Uber and Deliveroo, serfs working for an app, Vulture Capitalists the only ones who benefit.

Musicians release your music on bandcamp. No Vulture Capitalists demanding their pound of flesh. Bandcamp also has a mechanism to support musicians.

Writers take a look at LeanPub and Unbound.

Patreon clearly satisfies a need, what is required is an open source cooperative platform owned by the creators.

Introduce a Basic Income and the need for Patreon vanishes overnight.

Afternoon in Farnham

December 9, 2017

A very cold day, not much above freezing, if that. At least cold wind not blowing.

Very unpleasant in Aldershot, Rotary Club trailer blasting out distorted music.

Aldershot Civic Society not doing Aldershot any favours when cannot see anything wrong with the sheds dumped in Union Street selling disgusting junk food.

Alight from bus, walk along riverside walk and up through Gostrey Meadow.

Frost still sitting on the grass along riverside walk.

Krema full. Even Barista Lounge looks busy, but that is overflow from Krema as usually empty. Walk to butcher and back. Krema still full. Nothing for it but to wait until a table comes free. When does come free, two girls decide to reserve it for no existent friends, Farnham selfishness. You do not reserve tables in a coffee shop that is full. You do not reserve tables in a coffee shop. What is wrong with people in Farnham? The same mentality that thinks it ok to park 4×4 on double yellow lines, on footpath, whilst pop in a few shops. No existent friends fail to show.

Cut through churchyard. If it was cold in Farnham, walking through the churchyard like entering a deep freeze.

A Christmas Tree Festival in the Parish Church. This is the latest trendy thing to fill churches, fill with decorated Christmas trees, celebrate a pagan festival.

Look in Waterstone’s. Some fool must have bought Where to Drink Coffee. Another fool buying a rubbish book by Nick Clegg. If want to know about EU, buy Adults in the Room.

It is odd, there are coffee shops everywhere, yet Waterstone’s do not stock coffee books, or when they do, the choice is very poor.

A strange book on display, 2023, it purports to be a trilogy, it is not.

Once again, poor stock control in Waitrose, though not as bad as last week.

Someone at Waitrose head office needs to get off backside and sort out what is wrong with this store.

Waitrose not doing Union any favours when they sell old coffee, though not as bad as other times I have checked when found two moths old, today only one month old.

Waitrose sell coffee pots. Cheap and tacky. They also sell reusable coffee cups. Equally cheap and tacky.

Why not sell KeepCups, or … cups, quality, not cheap and tacky.

As they sell coffee beans, why not V60, Chemex, scales, grinders, else how to make coffee with the coffee beans. They sell a very limited range of kitchen gear.

I asked of their throwaway cups. No one knew, but thought no, cannot be recycled.

As a captive audience, why not paper cups that can be composted, a bin to put in.

What do the do with their coffee grounds? Could be bagged and put outside with the gardening gear, help yourself. Maybe I will ask on next visit.

Pret a Manger consult on disposable cups

December 8, 2017

Pret a Manger is not somewhere I would go for a coffee, I prefer to go to an indie coffee shop, not a corporate chain, once part owned by McDonald’s, now majority owned by Vulture Capitalists.

But, they are looking at how to reduce the number of disposable cups going to waste, which is a welcome move, and maybe something we can all learn from.

As I was passing by Pret a Manger in Guildford, I popped in to see what information on disposable cups. It was like walking into a McDonald’s without the stomach churning stench. No atmosphere. No information on recycling or disposable cups, no re-use cups on sale. I did though see displayed 25p discount if bring own cup.

I spoke with mananger. She knew nothing, She said it was head office, she only worked there. She did though confirm the takeaway cups they currently use cannot be recycled.

Pret a Manger Chief executive Clive Schlee has consulted on twitter, ideas on how to reduce the number of disposable cups.

Last week I tweeted that Pret was considering increasing its discount from 25p to 50p for any customer bringing a reusable cup. We are thinking of doing this to help change habits. It’s well known that “reduce” is better than “recycle.

I was inundated with suggestions, ideas and feedback. All of them were constructive and the vast majority were supportive.

So far so good, but why nothing in-store, also look at best practice.

Best practise tells you what is being achieved, what works, seeking suggestions, maybe tells you what customers are willing to agree to.

A summary of the response to the twitter consultation:

  1. 96% of the 5,000 respondents on an Instagram Stories poll voted “yes” to the 50p idea.
  2. A great many customers recommended that we sell a branded reusable cup as well as launching the new discount. Many shared views on what makes a good reusable cup – light, leak proof and elegant are key attributes.
  3. Lots of you suggested we turn the discount on its head and charge for cups instead. The economic theory of loss aversion was mentioned – this says that people respond to loss or fear of a penalty much more than they do to a reward or discount. The success of the government’s 5p bag charge was cited as evidence of how effective this can be.
  4. A handful of people pointed out that china cups ought to be available in more of our shops.
  5. It was suggested that we set up a loyalty scheme tied to reusable cups. Some wanted us to implant chips into the cups themselves that could measure usage and automatically apply a discount.

In the near future, taking on board the comments, Pret propose:

  1. Launch the 50p discount in the first week of 2018.
  2. Source a well-designed reusable cup, ready to launch later in 2018.
  3. Explore adding china cups to more of our shops with seats.

The idea of sticking a chip in a cup is bonkers, invasion of privacy.

I am surprised Pret lacks a loyalty scheme or that it is not the norm to have ceramic cups or that they lack reusable cups on sale.

In practice, big discounts on coffee have few takers, though yes, everyone is going to ask for a discount. And it would have to be coupled with sale of resusable cups, for example KeepCup.

The disadvantage with reusable cups is that have to be carted around. The plastic KeepCup, light, relatively cheap, but plastic, the glass KeepCup heavy, expensive, breaks when dropped.

KeepCup only comes into its own when popping out of the office for a coffee.

Compostable paper cups do not merit a mention. If I am on my way home, can pop on the compost heap, if not, what do I do with it? And that is the dilemma, it would go in a waste bin.

The idea of charging for a takeaway cup has been rejected.

We debated whether charging people for using paper cups felt right. We decided that it goes against our instincts as we would prefer to be generous to our customers than to tax them. Let’s see what impact the new discount has…

Charging for the takeaway cup should not be rejected out of hand. Why not charge more for takeway coffee?

Both ideas have been tried in practice, and they work.

Ultimately we must challenge the takeaway culture, difficult for Pret a Manger as that is what their businesses model is built on.

Instead of grab a sandwich and a drink, run down the street or eat and drink on the hoof, have welcoming places, where you may wish to sit and relax with a  coffee, chat with friends.

Or dare I say it, relax with a  coffee in an indie coffee shop.

Filter coffee at 49p a cup, what does that say of the quality?

I would far rather pay for a single origin coffee, served as a V60 or Chemex,  direct trade, traceabilty and transparency to origin, served by a skilled barista, where I can relax in a  pleasant ambience, local art on the walls, than a 49p filter coffee not freshly made, surrounded by bullshit posters on the wall.

Cups, 2.5 billion disposable cups a year, are not the only waste generated by coffee chains. What of the food waste, what of the coffee grounds?

To their credit, Pret a Manager supply their left over food to homeless people.
More should follow their example. It is so annoying to see left over cakes, pastries and sandwiches binned. Why not give to customers, what is left, give to the homeless.

Coffee grounds can be put out for collection by gardeners, turned into furniture, turned into coffee cups, used to grow oyster mushrooms.

Afternoon in Reading

December 4, 2017

I had intended to visit Reading last week, but too cold. Today cold and damp, but lacking the cold north wind. In Reading it was fresher, not so damp.

Train on the way to Reading, display not working, wifi not connecting to Internet.

As walk from Station to town centre, what appears to be a Victorian Arcade, though the building not Victorian, or at least does not appear to be. I cut through Harris Arcade.

My initial impression correct, Harris Arcade built in the 1930s by John Harris.

A coffee in Workhouse.

Very annoyed chocolate dumped on my cappuccino. They should know better.

18 different coffee beans to buy.  Espresso machine, the pumps are in a rack on the wall.

I would have stayed to eat, but not tempted by what is on offer.

I wish Waterstone’s would not insult readers and coffee lovers with their very poor choice of coffee books.

Coffee Art and Coffee Style excellent, but not Where to Drink Coffee, one of the most useless guides written.

Lunch and a coffee at Artigiano, my reason for revisiting Reading. I had looked in on my last visit, but no time for a coffee.

I was not impressed on my last visit, and not impressed today by their poor choice of food, poor choice, and expensive. Nor that upstairs was out of bounds due to a private party.

I can though see why upstairs hired out. Not busy.

I would have had bacon and brie, but not available. Beetroot yuk, chutney yuk, mustard less yuk. I settled for the ham, salami and mustard.

Not good. Poor quality bread, sent down from London, and ruined by the vile tasting mustard.

It is better to let the customer add mustard, add chutney, if they wish. Also better to make fresh food periodically throughout the day, not early in the day, then remove at three o’clock.

The problem, Artigiano have no kitchen staff. Whether this is cannot find, or directive from head office to cut staff, the same problem Harris + Hoole has now owned by tax-dodging Caffe Nero, loss of good staff, never see same staff twice, death by a thousand cuts, I do not know.

Not a place to eat. Though that is true of all the good coffee shops in Reading.

By contrast, excellent cappuccino, a blend from Origin. far superior to Origin coffee I have been served in Canopy Coffee.

No single origin or pour over coffee.

2.5 billion takeaway cups a year are thrown away in the UK. Anything we can do to reduce this trash mountain is to be welcomed.

In Artigiano, takeaway cups are paper, paper that can be composted. The lids are plant-based plastic, thus biodegradable.

So far so good, except too simplistic.

If I am on my way home, if I have bought fruit and vegetables from the shop in the nearby alley, I can pop in my bag with my fresh produce, then throw on my compost heap when I arrive home.

What though if not on my way home? What then do I do with the cup? Throw in the bushes, throw in the river, throw in the nearest litter bin? And that is the dilemma, and why compostable paper cups are not the answer. Yes, if have a captive audience, with a bin for the cups that can then be collected and composted, but if that be the case, why use disposable cups?

Artigiano sell KeepCup. Plastic is light, relatively cheap, but made of plastic. Glass is heavy, expensive, and shatters if dropped. Plus have to cart around the KeepCup.

If buy a KeepCup, first drink free, 15p discount thereafter. If buy a coffee every working day, then will take five months to break even if buy a glass KeepCup, two and a half months if buy a plastic KeepCup.

KeepCup only comes into its own if popping out from the office for a coffee.

The only real solution to the problem of disposable coffee cups is to discourage their use, if not an outright ban.

Interesting conversation with the barista.

Cappuccino in CUP.

Interesting art on the walls. Ink line drawings.

One was an avenue of coppiced trees. I recognised, unless several such avenues, as used by Gary Nicholls for The Imaginarium.

I caught the same train as two weeks ago, 1732 to Gatwick. Possibly the worst train to catch, as everyone leaving work. As two weeks ago, packed in like sardines, standing room only. Two weeks ago, the train emptied at the first stop. Not today, more people got on than the few that got off.

The People’s Internet

November 27, 2017

It is shocking that in a major American city like Detroit, a city that had two major car companies, 40% of the city lacks access to Internet.

Net neutrality is a big political issue. We cannot have a handful of companies controlling access to the Internet. That access has to be for everyone, rich or poor.

In Detroit, the Equitable Internet Initiative is building community-owned wireless internet infrastructure in towns that big telecom won’t touch. Hundreds of towns have built their own internet service providers. Rural communities are putting wireless internet antennas on top of mountains, grain silos, and tall trees. The fastest internet connections in the United States are provided by local governments, not big telecom. In Southern California, Tribal Digital Village is using unused television spectrum to deliver internet. All over the country, big telecom is being rejected and subverted, and you do not need to have a pile of money, an army of lawyers, or a degree in network engineering to take action.

In England in rural areas, local people are digging the trenches, laying fibre optic cable.

In Greece communities are building their own broadband network.

Postcapitalism, people are taking control of their own political, social, employment space.

Afternoon in Reading

November 20, 2017

What a difference a week makes. Last week in Reading freezing cold, today mild and damp with occasional light drizzle.

I had intended to look in Workhouse then pop back later. But decided to stay and have a cappuccino.

Ethiopian, better than I had off Tamp kiosk last week, weak and insipid, which I poured down the drain. Not though as good as from Ethiopian Coffee Roasters.

I was asked did I want sugar, but had to intervene to stop chocolate, I assume cocoa, from being dumped on top.

No information on the beans, but staff knowledgeable and will explain if asked.

It would though be useful to have information, for example as in Small Batch in Brighton.

I learnt why the silly names for several of the beans. These are blends and it is an attempt to give some idea of the flavour profile.

The system is very much as Monmouth in Covent Garden, choose the beans you want, these are then weighed and bagged. They will grind if asked.

Perceived wisdom is to leave beans for a week after roasting before used. Workhouse leave for two weeks.

I think, but not sure, I could have picked any of the beans for a V60, though it may have only been what was illustrated on a  sign.

The rear of Workhorse the walls used to exhibit art.

Workhouse is surrounded by dreadful places to drink coffee, opposite Costa and tax-dodging Starbucks, adjacent down the street Patisserie Valerie and Pret a Manger.

In the centre of Reading, indeed even before leaving Reading Station, I have never seen so many coffee shops, but unlike Brighton, where at least indie coffee shops, these are chains. Like a Medieval plague of rats, Reading is infested with tax-dodging Starbucks.

MangoBean closed. This does not surprise me. It is a franchise scam, relies on mugs who know nothing about coffee, as the old adage goes fools and their money are easily parted.

The only surprise is that MangoBean in Aldershot has not closed long ago.

Next door to MangoBean, Artigiano.

Artigiano a  trendy coffee ship, serving craft beer, multiple levels, very much in the style of The Underdog in Athens. A sign indicated they used Origin. Sadly though a chain, albeit a small chain.

I had wished to go back, but spent the rest of the afternoon until early evening at CUP speciality coffee and tea.

Lunch at Cup spinach and feta pie.

Artigiano and Workhorse almost empty, CUP packed. It quietened down a little mid-afternoon, then late afternoon, it fills up again.

Usually in a coffee shop, people drink coffee, in CUP, maybe half drinking tea.

A selection of 18 different teas, with an unusual method of brewing the tea.

The tea and water carefully measured and timed, boiling hot water poured onto the tea, then released through a gauze into a glass carafe with a cork in the top.

The brewing method I have seen only once before, in Just Made 33, the method of serving only seen in CUP.

The teas are for sale, they will weigh and bag.

I had wished to leave earlier than last week to miss the commuter rush hour, but left an hour later, just made it in time for a train, which I found was non-stop. The next train, ten minutes later, was ten minutes late.  Packed in like sardines.  Most of the train emptied at the first stop.