Fight consumerism – get time on your side

mistersquirrel  has been watching TV, in particular an excellent three-part series about consumerism. The third programme was the one I found most insightful, which develops the theory that adults are being infantilised by systems that give micro-rewards to urge them into purchases, and the process of buying is being made as frictionless as possible.

Tesco really loves football. Look at all the things Euro 2012 realted you can buy
Stuff. Shopping. Special Offers. Buy it Now! Won’t it be easier when you simply pay for the item as you put it in your trolley with contactless payments?

It goes along with the general gamification of the world – people being herded along desired paths of action using sophisticated micro-reward systems. This sort of thing started to really piss me off at work, stupid metrics on irrelevant areas being used to herd and control people, and it appears to be going on in the consumer space too. Unlike work, however, in theory as a consumer you are in control of the money so you are in charge. One of the key techniques, however, is easy to fight. Trying to get you to buy quickly. Don’t do that. Buy slowly.

First, check out the enemy

the credit problem

It’s in Episode 3 at 45mins into the programme

“Every other company on Earth is trying to get you to spend money, and they’re putting all their effort into getting you to spend your money on Stuff all the time. […] Make no mistake, the house always wins. […]Business had learnt from children how the adult market could be turned into a game.!”

“The trouble with adult consumers is they think too much”

Benjamin Barber, Rutgers University

I hear there’s a fellow who’s saved loads of money doing just that – thinking. Don’t give it up, adults. That’s why you’re adults – so you get a hold of the steering wheel of Life…

“The last 30 years of selling has been about getting us to give in to this instant gratification”

Now I have to admit, at first the Ermine thought to himself “bollocks”, but the programme developed its thesis well. In particular, the process of handing over your money has been transformed. There has been a progression –

cash -> credit cards -> stored card details like Paypal, 1-click, mobile purchasing, contactless wristbands,

The consumer merchandisers came up with a magic bullet, the credit card. The credit card becomes the facilitator of impetuous, narcissistic buy now consumerism, because you don’t have to wait a second.

Benjamin Barber, Rutgers University

Now I got my first Access credit card in 1979, as a freshman student. And yet I never got into huge trouble with it, indeed I was in my mid-twenties when I came to the conclusion that my parents were right

Don’t spend more than you earn, son

So I have generally paid them off within the interest-free period. Yes, I cocked up a few times and had reason to be grateful for the minimum payment direct debit feature all suppliers offer. I have sometimes carried a rolling balance, if some card company is going to be so dim as to offer me interest-free credit. On occasion I’ve been prepared to pay interest – when the Nationwide building society was prepared to pay me more interest on the borrowed money. So I don’t viscerally understand this part of how Big Consumerism is suckering the proletariat. Despite what one woman in the programme claimed, credit cards can be used properly. Just always remember you’re not borrowing money from the bank, you are borrowing from your future self. Make that your one month future self and you’ll be fine, because you’re close to him and he’s real to you. And the card won’t charge you interest!

the Buy It Now problem

However, I am susceptible to the buy it now problem.It’s across the modern consumerism estate – they are trying to shorten the gap between want it and buy it. Credit cards help you buy it now if you don’t have the money, but things like Amazon 1-click and Paypal make the process of paying quicker and less onerous. There’s a simple way to fix this, however. Remember the good Prof Barber. The solution I use is simple

Put the stuff in your virtual shopping cart. Then wait 24 hours before making the purchase

You don’t have to do too much thinking. If you’ve been suckered by gamification you will come back to the purchase the next day and think ‘how dumb is that’ and move on. Though with Amazon remember to empty the cart – else you’ll end up buying it with the next thing you get there, although there’s enough of a grace period to cancel the order. I used to think that the cooling off period needed to be seven days, and indeed in my hardest saving period at work I used a month. But I’m not so frazzled now, I can recognise dumb consumerism within a few hours now. [ref]This is probably the same sort of thing as your mother used to tell you to sleep on something before doing something crazy – I think most people’s emotional states vary across the diurnal cycle, it’s a way of getting a ‘different you’ to look at the purchase.[/ref] That inserts a great big monkey-wrench into the ad-men’s ability to tap into your ‘I want it now’ state of mind. It’s future-proof too – even if in ten years time they have a thought-swipe method of instant purchase you can still split the ‘I want it’ from now. Live intentionally. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with consumerism – as long as it suits your wants and needs rather than theirs.

Think like an adult. Think too much for marketers of consumerism. Ice the “I want it Now” mentality. And don’t spend money you haven’t got, which is a different take on the same problem

But – but- what if it’s a unrepeatable sale, or a Black Friday or a Everything Must Go?

Leave it be. Remember the fellow above. The house always wins. They’re trying to deny you the space to think. There’s only one way to beat the house, and that’s not to play their game. You don’t have to be nutty about it – for regular consumables it doesn’t really apply. If you always buy organic butter, know the price and it really is on offer at 10% less then knock yourself out and load up on it (you can freeze butter). It the purchase of something new to you, or being stampeded into an upgrade, where I’d say just ignore the special offers if they can’t match the 24 hour rule.

increasingly things are being sold in a dishonest and gamified way

Take the concept of apps – where you get something that appears to do a job for free, but to make it work you need to make an in-app purchase, for some individually small amount. Now I despise apps and the concept of paying for software in general. I wouldn’t mind paying if you had some comeback on the supplier, but licensing has generally been on a ‘sold as seen’ basis for the last 20 years or so. Open source has largely fixed that problem – by dealing with the ‘sold’ part of the deal 🙂

The great thing about in-app purchases for the seller is that the app promises, fails to deliver but says you can make it work if you pay the ransom money. In other areas of life this is considered nefarious activity. It isn’t actually new – PC software used to be sold this way in the late 1980s – it was dearer to start with but often many layers of functionality that you’d pay more for. The piss-taking toerags at Novell Netware used to sell you per seat network connection licences[ref]it was sweet when MS, and then TCP/IP destroyed Novell’s business case and ate their lunch. I still detest this company for that egregious policy a quarter of a century after it got in my way at work[/ref], and the DOS version of MS Word had varying levels of functionality. Electronics schematic layout software would sometimes only let you lay out so many components before you’d have to pay. So this sort of incremental sales strategy isn’t new, but it was usually confined to the B2B sector back then. Businesses are usually much better at qualifying the ROI they will get on a piece of production equipment than consumers are at evaluating the enhancement of quality of life they will get for spending money on some consumer goods.

case study:  buying an app to play a mixtape

A mixtape is a long continuous gapless track – my application is for parties, where I use foobar and continuator to intelligently crossfade a sequence that I’ve manually scheduled and mixed in key. Some time a go I bought an iPod to develop some mobile web HTML. It did the job admirably and cost-effectively, and to be honest doesn’t owe me anything now. But I have never got it to work properly for playing music, because I despise iTunes,  which failed me dismally. Given I am playing this out on a field with no power or Internet access I had one primary CD player and two failover solutions – a second copy of the 7 hour mixtape CD on a cheap backup player and the iPod as third-line.

As the weather deteriorated and the humidity rose[ref]everybody thinks dew is a thing of the morning, but it happens in the evening as soon as the sun goes down. Humidity rises and condensation often happens by twilight[/ref] the main player started to skip, so I wanted to crossfade to the iPod, with no moving parts it should be best able to run through the dew point.

iTunes lied to me when it said it uploaded the file
You really don’t want to see this if you’re going to crossfade to it. iTunes lied to me when it said it uploaded the file

So I had to crossfade to the crappy CD player and a regular album, and start to cue the backup CD four hours in. For technical reasons that sort of track fast forwards glacially slowly, I just got there by the time the regular album was about four tracks in, ready to crossfade back.

Now I should have tested everything including the third-level failover, so it’s my bad. However, in seeking a solution to this, I find the music app on the iPod can’t play a mixtape and index the songs. Most people play pop songs on their iPods with a gap or an auto-crossfade, which sound poor to me[ref]the crossfade is fixed in the iPod which works fine most of the time but sounds rotten when it doesn’t and the iTunes soundcheck level matching sucks compared to foobar’s replaygain[/ref], and is what I’m trying to improve on. Presumably nobody listens to classical music or live albums on an iPod which are also long gapless tracks. The correct solution to indexing a continuous track without gaps is to use a cuesheet and FLAC, because another thing I realised when playing the regular CD is although I can’t hear the difference between MP3 and CD audio at modest listening levels the difference is all too apparent at high levels .

So what I need is an app. I now know what I need is an app that will play a cue-indexed single track file, but initially I thought I could mix the tracks automatically on the fly. I don’t want to manually DJ it because I don’t have the skill, I don’t get to  talk to anyone and the results will get worse as the evening goes on due to the power of drinking 🙂

Enter the world of hurt that is apps – gamified consumerism in action

I really hate apps. They’re vile, because they do so little, and the nickel-and-diming to coax even the slightest bit of usefulness out of them is hard to track. I got Algoriddms djay LE for free. but to load my own tracks would mean an in app purchase. So I did that, for £1.50, only to find that once I’d downloaded into itunes it wouldn’t let me load it on anything less than iOS7, which is Apple’s way of deliberately deprecating old gear – they just stop updating iOS for it, and 6 is as far as they will go for mine. Would it really be too much to ask that they check first before letting you buy an upgrade that won’t work on your kit, given they use such corrupt business practices? The ermine is down £1.50 with a fail on caveat emptor – I was unaware that an upgrade to a working program could be non-compatible. As I observed before, everything Apple is easy but hard at the same time.

So I look for an app that does work. Ah DJ mixer 3 does work, but you need to pay £7 to be able to use your own tracks. Now I can’t say I didn’t have fun with that app scratch mixing and finding sixty seven ways to make things sound crap. But the automix sounds poor with pop and rock, though it’s okay with dance. I still don’t think most  of the adults at the Oak Tree farm parties are ready for EDM/dance, though I got some of the kids out in the middle dancing with the odd dance track.  I have no complaint about that app, it works for what it’s designed to do, but not well enough for me.

So I still need an app to play a long wav or FLAC track with a cue sheet, so that’ll be Golden Ear then. I now have a bit of trepidation about dropping £6 on something that promises it’ll do the job after the frustrating experience with apps so far. You can’t trust apps to do what it says on the tin, it appears, even down to basic things like installing…

I’ll be down £15 just to get this to play music in a way that fits my requirements. Now I can’t say that’s a huge outlay, but I only wrangle apps every six months or so, and I’ve had rotten value so far because I wasn’t allowed to test with my material before shelling out. Not only that, but there’s the incremental way these are sold. If you have a smartphone and are buying apps every other week your app costs could easily exceed your mobile subscription, but it’ll happen in random itty bitty pieces so you won’t clock it. Plus the way individual functions are chargeable means they can avoid sticker shock – you wouldn’t pay £20 for an app in one go but you might to get different levels of functionality enabled as the crippleware gets in your way.

This experience has left me much less likely to get a smartphone in future. I hate working this way, I’d much rather pay for something that does the job upfront[ref]although I don’t like paying for software I’m not religiously opposed to it. I try and find a free way of doing things but I do have a  folder of shareware registration details and I still use some of these programs[/ref] than be nickel-and-dimed like that. I do want to be able to test things out properly, and this is something that is craftily prevented by crippling specific features.

The other thing that is nasty about iOS is I can’t code for it without high up-front costs. Even if I had a Mac, I’d have to pay $99 a year for the privilege of getting my own programs onto my own machine, WTF is up with that?

Low capital costs and high running or replacement/upgrade costs is the way things are going

Unfortunately an increasing amount of things are sold this way, at a low upfront cost and you get sliced and diced on the consumables. You rent your music with Spotify, you rent your printer with shockingly expensive ink cartridges though the machine is virtually a freebie, any Apple hardware is on borrowed time because it will become orphaned as iOS leaves it behind in a few years. You as a good little consumer will simply funnel part of your paycheque into the consumerism machine to keep the world turning.

It’s not how I want to buy Stuff, I don’t expect to keep on changing it. For instance, I have only ever had one scanner, an Epson Perfection 1200S SCSI scanner, it is now about 15 years old, and I recently got this working with my Windows 7 machine. It would have been easier to buy a new USB scanner, but I like this, it’s served me well and I want to keep it going. Back then I used it a lot, now I just want to scan the odd thing here or there. My computers are about seven years old. I can’t use a tablet because I am also a creator of content as well as a consumer. I’d punch the screen out if I had to tap tap tappity tap on a touch screen.There hasn’t been that much development in computers over the last few years that makes a difference for writing, browsing and running design software or editiong audio[ref]I do feel the lack of performance when editing video, but I don’t do enough of that to be worth changing[/ref]. Obviously if you play games to push the graphics then you’ll disagree, but I don’t have those sorts of requirements.

I purchased my hi-fi preamplifier secondhand thirty years ago, and my power amplifier is a secondhand Naim 250 which has probably been in service for 20 years. I have had to service the preamp and had the power amplifier serviced a few years back. Decent gear lasts if you look after it. But more and more there just isn’t decent gear to be had, or it is made deliberately obsolescent. And I’m tired of it.

This low service life and deliberate obsolescence is one of the reasons that I find Stuff much less rewarding now. I don’t want to have to  buy a new phone, or music player, or camera every year. I don’t give a toss about being with it, I’d just like to be able to do what I used to be able to do with it, and if apps are part of the way to make it do stuff then not get locked out of the app ecosystem after a couple of years.

update 9 July 15:00 –

Another great example of this came through my door

1407-tesco-140709Loads of savings on offer from Tesco, What do I have to do to get my £45 off –

you want me to trot along once a week like a good li'l consumer? On yer bike...
you want me to trot along once a week like a good li’l consumer? On yer bike…

I have to spend £375 with them, over six successive weeks. No Mr Tesco, I am not a lab rat in your maze, so I’ll pass on this. In the event that I really do want something worth £70+ from you I’ll consider it, but the existence or otherwise of your promotion will not change what I do.

Fight impetuous, narcissistic buy now consumerism. 24 hours at a time. Time is on your side…


22 thoughts on “Fight consumerism – get time on your side”

  1. Android?
    I got a desire HD second hand for £50 two years ago and it’s still running the latest android version thanks to XDA folks. The batteries going but swappable. As for apps. You can find the .apk’s online for free from dubious sources. Pay for the stuff that actually works.


  2. That sounds a good way to go and the price is right – I’ve been put off Android by the frequency with which Mrs Ermine’s Samsung Galaxy 2 crashes. I haven’t actually had a crash from the iPod yet.

    However, if I can get my own code onto a Android device for free that could swing it. At the moment if I want to do anything useful with the handheld display I have to write a PHP website for it and get a Internet connection because of the Apple tax on apps.


  3. I was thinking to mention the coupon level game whilst reading your article but you chucked it in there at the end.

    ‘Come back each week and earn a new slightly increased reward’ – sounds exactly like a computer game requiring to pass each level as you work your way up.

    My partner and I physically do not spend enough on groceries each week to meet their level requirements. Surely their fancy reward card profiling could have told them that and adjusted an offer accordingly?

    So many companies now are switching to the subscription model, why not the supermarkets? I wonder how long before you just have Sainsburys save your credit card details on their site and they will deliver you items as and when they believe you’ll need it. No need to worry about shopping lists anymore! And doesnt matter if we send you too many items.. just throw them away and instead think of the 5% discount you’re getting by being a subscriber.


  4. @Guy I’m gobsmacked by that amount too, we don’t have a hope either. It was more reasonable set at £50 the last time they tried that.

    I can only assume they are figuring I have switched allegiance to another supermarket or Aldi and are trying to set up a regular habit again. 10% off is worth having, but not if its 15% up in the first place!

    There’s a bright future as a marketer for you with that subscription idea. It’s brilliant, but pure evil. Pitch the idea to some stores!


  5. Subscription groceries? It’s already out there courtesy of Amazon, their grocery operation is scarily low key at the moment, but they will scale this up when the timing’s right


  6. Recently Tesco’s gave me £15 off a £50 shop. I stocked up on big ticket items like washing powder, toilet paper etc – happy days! I will gladly welcome a fiver for a shop, only if it is time to stock up.

    Regarding Apps. I tend to agree they can be hit and miss. The apps I’ve found the most bargainous have been were those that that emulated expensive separate hardware devices. Three success stories:

    Squeezeplay £2.99. Allows me to stream all of my music around my house without having to spank several hundred pounds on a SONOS system.

    Navfree – free. My Tom Tom failed, rather than buying another at around 100 notes. I have (offline) turn-by-turn navigation for free.

    Servers ultimate – £6 (ouch!) hooked up to a USB drive = file / ftp / web / torrent server etc

    As a side note, a secondary reason I like apps, is that often I can get things running on a phone that in the past would require a full PC. The PC was burning 2-300 watts, my old android phone draws about 3 watts and has a pretty spritley cpu. If you have the need for a server with low CPU requirements that is a pretty compelling energy saving.

    Excellent post and such a good blog, I’ve been quietly following for some time, thanks for the inspiring posts 🙂


  7. I always thought it was a bit scary when the world changed so that you could buy things when you’re drunk (24 hours a day online). Luckily for me I’d grown out of impulsive purchases by the time that happened.

    Yesterday somebody who had won an Ebay auction for an old computer game I was selling contacted me to say he is refusing to pay for the item because his son (no age disclosed) had bid over the maximum he’d agreed he could spend on his PayPal account!


  8. I’d vote for a cheap Android too. Something unattractive to thieves, cheap to replace, not worth insuring but do make sure it is properly backed up. I got one last year when my 11 year old Nokia 3210 gave up the ghost and all the mobiles readily available to me were smartphones.

    I even managed to stream music from the mobile to my internet radio and via an internet-enabled TV to hi-fi. There are huge numbers of apps available, some of which are useful, especially if you use public transport. You’d probably be interested in what Plex can do but I’m woefully ignorant in that area.


  9. I didn’t find the OU programme very convincing, it felt like a platform for a bunch of BS artists selling a story of their omnipotence. Still it was a salutary reminder that when you start believing your own BS it’s time to consider early retirement, a period of reflection and probably penance too for that bunch of reprobates.
    The notion of the infantilisation through debt seems a bit much. Yes, it enables instant gratification without reflection but that doesn’t equate to infantilisation. Children don’t have the notion of debt as some weighty obligation that oppresses many adults.

    The visibility of specific conspicuous unreflective consumption does lead people into believing that it is more prevalent than it is, my personal belief is that the rational consumer is the more general case.
    We are free to do what we please up to and including walking away from a civilisation when it has excessively gamed it’s citizens.

    For all the vaunted power of the Tesco marketing machine they haven’t figured out that I’m not going to drive 5 miles out of town to save 12% off a wasteful weekly shop when I can walk 5 minutes around the corner and save 30% + at Aldi doing a daily shop. Completely different model of buying groceries you numpties, these vouchers compound the issue rather than compete.

    I’m feeling the pain with ITunes as well, after a couple of years of no issues syncing multiple devices, now it just lies all the time. Copying files over a network is clearly a bleeding edge pursuit, can’t wait until the technology matures.


  10. @honeybadger – noooo say it ain’t so. It isn’t so much the money, it’s the potential for waste that creeps me out!

    @mucgoo, Leo – I’ve clearly let the grass grow under my feet on the Android scene. I will go and educate myself – thanks for the heads-up!

    @Leo – I have a hardware version of the logitech system, using a synology NAS to run the server and three players. And I have to hand it to you – the iPeng app is a much better way to navigate the system than the web server, which is slooooow. Shame Logitech has end-of-lifed this system, I’ll probably end up going Naim for that job in future. Sounds like Android has the edge on low power, but may struggle to address 500G of music…

    @BeatTheSeasons – ordering stuff when drunk – guess that’s why JustEat was valued so high on the IPO

    @Nathan – I guess the PF community probably isn’t one where you’d see much mindless consumerism. The adults that treat debt as weighty issue aren’t the problem – it’s those who don’t treat it as a problem. I think there’s going to be massive hurt when interest rates rise 😦


  11. I watched the first two programs, haven’t got round to the third yet. I’m not sure I buy into this great conspiracy idea, I tend to think what we get is just a result of intense competition.

    I write software for a living and I won’t touch these app stores, not only are they a bad deal for the users I don’t think many developers are getting much out of it either.


  12. On the Tesco topic, I’ve found the best way to save money on their prices is to shop in Lidl. Better or equal in quality and I’m not paying for fancy shop dressings and all the other overheads that I can’t eat anyway. I actually like the more limited choice too. If I need washing up liquid I have two to choose from, which saves the unnecessary suffering of Tesco induced option anxiety.

    Spotify works for me. £9.99pm to rent most music in existence. My 10 year old Creative mini speaker system is going strong, connect a smartphone with a jack lead and you’re away. Cuts out music clutter too.

    Looking forward to watching this series of progs.


  13. The way to use the Tesco vouchers is to save up your needs. Then pounce – heaps of loo rolls, store cupboard foods, and so on, and do your pouncing while they have one of their money-off-wine offers. if you don’t know a wine well enough to want four or six bottles, then just buy a selection of the recommendations of Vic Moore at The Tel, or Jane McQuitty at The Times, or whoever’s taste approximates to yours.

    Otherwise, we use Aldi a lot. One tip: don’t buy their light bulbs. Stinkers.


  14. As we live in a City we’re quite close to several different supermarkets. Both Tesco and Sainsburys periodically send us these kind of vouchers so we tend to switch between them depending on who is currently trying to tempt us back with the most generous offers. We do try to stock up at Aldi too. I’m sure there are ways we could change our habits to save more overall, but full-time work, raising kids, busy lives, etc…


  15. My Amazon “wish list” is the place I park my shopping desires whilst I think about them, or see if i can find the equivalent thing elsewhere, or second hand. This avoids any risk of accidentally buying them the next time i order something.

    The funny thing is, I direct family to my wish list for birthdays & xmas, & they always comment that they think my list is out of date as there are things on there from 2+ years ago that i still haven’t purchased!


  16. One warning about adding items you think you might want to a shopping cart or wishlist while you consider it: these tools are not there just for your benefit, but the vendor’s too. They will, and do, use the unbought items as part of their directed selling campaigns…. Now if you’re sitting on the fence, they know EXACTLY where to push you!


  17. @Neil Good point, I am seeing the last items I looked at on Amazon advertised in Amazon advert spaces placed in a wholly unrelated blog. Very cunning and can lead one to think one was looking at a current special offer. Have to admit I succumbed (it was something I was looking for anyway) but feel rather manipulated when I then saw another item I had looked at subsequently. Caveat emptor.


  18. @Tony I’m under the impression that the app store is the only way to get software onto iOS and indeed Android? While developing a WISPr client for the Raspberry Pi I cam across some Android developers’ code that indicates ordinary DIYers can run on that.

    There’s no need for a conspiracy with the white cats etc – intense competition and a better understanding of how to manipulate some hard-wired human behaviour will do. Heck, I’ve done it myself – anyone who promotes something with a “special offer last few must go” knowing they have a box-room full of the product is at it!

    Taken to the limit we have a nation of people who live richer than kings of yore grousing about having to work till they are 70…

    @Starla – droll (saving at Lidl).

    @dearieme – their LED light bulbs are the business though – I bought one, to test the colour balance, and was going to go back to clean them out but other people got there first. We get our bogrolls from Aldi. Tesco are good on decent Camembert though but £70 worth of cheese and soap powder is a challenge – it was easier when they had offers at £50. And I’ve had very hit and miss results on wine there – even within the same type 😦

    And like BTS – there’s only so much headspace I can give to saving money on staples.

    @Livingcheap and Neil -I did that – had a TP-link miFi box on my saved items for ages. Wondered why networking gear was being pushed so hard – I only see Amazon ads on Amazon, but now I know!


  19. Ermine, could the answer be a mix on the computer then burn to a minidisc player.

    I have always thought iTunes is a music system designed for people not into music. Although I know people like my brother who use it for digital, cd and recorded vinyl. I still don’t understand how.


  20. @Simon – I believe it’s the sudden drop in temperature or rise in humidity just before sundown that causes dew to form on the medium, certainly I also noticed the track-list felt almost sodden. If that’s the problem then minidisc would suffer the same fate.

    A lot of the DJ guys seems to use iTunes to manage their music, and they ahve stupendous numbers of tracks and fairly detailed tagging needs. Beats me too how they make that work for them!


  21. I’m a bit late to the party, but never mind..

    I like SMBC’s take on gamification. ( )

    Perhaps the reason your MP3s sound bad is due to the greater usage of dynamic range compression that seems to dominate these days?
    (Not that it’s a new idea! )

    “Put the stuff in your virtual shopping cart. Then wait 24 hours before making the purchase.”
    I do this with investments, though the waiting period is several months… 🙂

    As for purchases of ‘stuff’, I spend ages researching in advance and then biding my time until I find it anomalously cheaply.

    For example, I’ve decided to start taking better photos, so spent months comparing camera reviews and trying to find something that would fit my physically impossible requirements. (Pocketable, good low-light performance, decent zoom.) When I settled on a Lumix GM-1, I then kept an eye on it with various vendors until Amazon had the silver one £80 cheaper than the other colours for no reason at all, plus £100 cash back + a free leather case. The key thing is not to dither when a particularly good deal comes along! (The price is back up again now.) I’ve since got a telephoto lens for it via the magic of ebay and plan to go on safari to exercise it! All the build-up makes the purchase far more satisfying, if you ask me. 🙂

    Android is the only way to go IMO – I’m amazed you stick with Apple stuff, as the freedom of (rootable) Android phones is right up your street. ( is good.) Plus, every so often anomalously cheap ones come along. I had a rooted Orange San Francisco which was good for years. I’ve since moved to a Moto G with Tesco (not rooted but still anomalously cheap).

    Apps wise, it amuses me that people will pay hundreds of pounds for a fancy phone and then baulk at a further £2 for an app! (Or stick with dire headphones.)

    As for coding them, I haven’t done so myself yet, but I’m 99% sure anyone can write apps. I don’t even think they need to go via the Play store if you release them. (Though people would need to enable “unknown sources”.)


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