26 December 2010

Tuition Fees: What does the future look like?

A simple question: What does the future look like in a world where tuition fees's cap rises to £21,000/year? This is just a work-in-progress - there may be errors in judgement but feel free to correct me on any mistakes :)

Firstly the obvious: College-leavers will not want to go to university any more because of the prices.
A 3-year course could cost up to £63,000. A 4-year course would be £84,000 - nearly £100k.

Because it's so high, there are few families who could pay this much - meaning that if people did still want to go - they would be more likely to get a student loan. Which means the government takes out bigger loans - putting the economy in more debt. Also, if you leave university and get a job starting at £25k, it would take you almost 3 full years of work to pay it back - not to mention the interest rates - you may end up paying thousands more. Of course you can always move abroad for 5 years to escape, but Visas don't last that long unless you get kicked out of the country.

It could also mean a segregation of the society - only the very rich people who can afford it will go to university - but just being rich does not mean you are intelligent. This could be viewed as a good thing because it could mean that there will be fewer students who drop out of of university or achieve lower grades - because of the incentive to do better because of the extremely high cost. However there is still no correlation between the rich and the intelligent - but there should be a correlation between the intelligent and rich - after they are in a successful business.

Because of the high fees, more college-leavers instead will choose to go and find or job - or worse, live off their parents - if their parents haven't kicked them out. This means instead of students creating havoc at university, it will be national - meaning crime rates are more likely to rise because students have nothing better to do.

The problem with that is, there are no jobs around.
Employers are always looking for people with high qualifications - they are looking for the best of the best - but there will be fewer students like this because of fewer people attending university. Which could mean that companies start to lower their standards and start employing less well-educated people - meaning all the great ideas and shared knowledge that universities bring is lost - meaning that the whole country gets dumber and the best ideas in young minds don't get the nurturing and funding they need.

For the universities it also means that fewer people will attend - meaning that some of Britain's great universities may close down because of the lack of money. Which means universities will try the best they can to get students - so they will lower their fees for their courses. This means that you no longer choose university primarily based on location or subject of study - but the price they are charging you. It will become "Compare the University - find the cheapest course and university for you!" Universities may make more incentives for students to attend - which could detract from the whole point of studying in the first place. Universities will compete over the cheapest cost for one particular course - driving the prices down of course - but meaning that universities essentially become privatised.

All in all - everyone suffers. The students, the families, the employers and the universities themselves. Not to mention the economy.

Update 19/01/2011: Companies are still looking for experience! http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12208931

5 December 2010

Small print

Some advice:

Network 3
  • Will not let you set a separate delivery and billing address when you order online
  • Will not deliver on a Saturday
  • If you want to register for your free Spotify Premium period (2/3 months), use your mobile to browse to 3's Spotify pages from their homepage, then you will get an option to download it and activate your Spotify (you will get asked to upgrade/make a new Spotify account). There is no way to activate it on three.co.uk or the link on the checkout page.
  • Will refuse to refund your 1 Month Mobile Broadband over the phone if you try to cancel within 3 days if you have good signal coverage in your area.
  • Are slow at getting Android updates for your phone compared to other operators like Vodafone (4 weeks). Their excuse is "We’re working with HTC and hope to have this on our network soon. When we get it, we’ll put the details on our website www.three.co.uk."

Virgin Media

  • Ordering broadband does not guarantee your order will be processed. Ever.
  • You can pick up the router in-store and have your internet activated on the same day. You do need to call their Customer Services to "activate" the broadband - when this happens remember to reset your router and restart your computer or else you may end up talking to them on the phone for ages trying to get it fixed.
  • Their internet-only package is more expensive than their internet + phone line rental package if you choose the XL or XXL deal (as opposed to M which is the cheapest) as per my chart here: https://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AYtBNyBERqQAZGNodmd6eHhfMzFoeHZnZ2dkcg&hl=en_GB

Tesco Mobile
  • Do not have the best coverage even though they are part of the O2 network (I've had some periods of no texts coming through at all, some lasting 12 hours at a time).
  • Will transfer credit between accounts if you call them - you must know the current exact balance of the mobile you are transferring to, the last time it was topped up and by how much
  • You must ask for an itemised receipt (as they say in their booklet) and you must also tell your dentist you are with Denplan (they only tell you this right at the last minute on the Claim Form)

  • Are useless at changing your registered debit/credit card address


  • Will not give you a free webcam if you ask for it after over a year that you opened your account
  • May end up sending all of the trustees in your trust account a change of address notification letter if you alone change address


  • Discount is not valid in the mornings until 10am weekdays (the rush hour)
  • Will be checked for their expiry dates so make sure you always replace your old one as soon as the new one arrives

Some retail stores (e.g. Boots)
  • May over-charge you even if it has been marked down - ALWAYS speak to the assistant first so you don't get over-charged. You have a right to may the lower price because otherwise it is false advertising.
  • May give you the wrong change back and will refuse to correct your change after you have left the counter


  • Are not liable to make sure you get a freezer if the house does not come with one already


  • Will not do anything about a button that has fallen off your jacket after you have bought it because you have "worn it"

  • Do not do jacket button repairs

TV Licensing

  • Will let you register your household as not needing a TV licence if you fill out the form on their website. The correct criteria is, if you do not use a device to watch TV as it is being broadcast (e.g. live) then you do not need a TV licence - you can specify if you only use your computer/TV for video games only.

  • Have gotten smaller
  • Will send you a voucher for a free pack of Pringles if you find a Pringle that has been stuck to the bottom of their fryer and looks disgusting and you send them a letter telling them it could be dangerous to children
  • Will send you a letter with a voucher for £5 off Kellogs if you find a lump of sugar in a pack of Crunchy Nut and send it in to them and write them a letter telling them how it could be dangerous to children
Student Finance England

  • Will not give you a grant if you do not tick the box on the online application form if you do not choose to share your information with your university

  • Will refund you in full if an issue escalates beyond normal email (you should always email the seller first)
Amazon.co.uk Sellers

  • Will not refund you if you submit negative comments on your order with them and then they ask you to remove your comments as collateral - instead they win by getting their negative comments removed and you not getting your money back because this is not monitored by Amazon
Cartridge People

  • May send you incompatible printer cartridges even though they look exactly the same as the correct ones but will send you replacements if you email them.
Thames Water

  • Will refund if you have to pay for a period longer than your contract at a property as long as you call them no longer than 20 days before you leave the property and tell them you are moving
Books Direct

  • Will send you a load of shit books that they then ask you to pay for, if you order a book through their website in order to activate TrialPay for some online program or "deal"


  • Will continue to send you scratched rental DVDs even if it is beyond your 1 month free period and their website will refuse to load the page that allows you to cancel your subscription with them

  • May cover you under warranty if your computer has a fault if you count your warranty starting from the day that the item arrived at its destination (rather than their sneaky assumption that it starts from the day you order it)

Driving examiners

  • Will tell you that waiting at a junction because you cannot see the traffic lights to the left of you because there is traffic in the way is hesitation because you are not "reading the road"


  • Will tell you to eat less sugary and acidic foods even though your Doctor will tell you to eat more fruit and vegetables which have acidic foods and sugar in them

23 September 2010

What's the difference between viruses, spyware and malware etc?

Malware is the umbrella term for all software that is "bad" or malicious. Malicious activity includes:

  • Use of the machine as part of a botnet (e.g. to perform automated spamming or to distribute Denial-of-service attacks)
  • Data theft (e.g. retrieving passwords or credit card information)
  • Installation of software, including third-party malware
  • Downloading or uploading of files on the user's computer
  • Modification or deletion of files
  • Keystroke logging (keylogging)
  • Watching the user's screen
  • Wasting the computer's storage space
  • Crashing the computer

Infects files, compromises security, takes over control of programs and operating system
Spreads via computers without anti-virus protection software
Collects little bits of information at a time about users without their knowledge
Spreads via computers without anti-spyware protection software
Unwanted emails which may contain malware
A fake and fradulent website and/or program designed to steal personal information which appears legitimate and trustworthy
Spreads itself to other computers on the network (self-replicating)
Spreads via security holes in networks
Seems harmless when you first look at it but instead facilitates unauthorized access and control
Enables continued privileged access to a computer, while actively hiding its presence without the owner's permission/knowing
Spreads via exploiting a known operating system/software vulnerability or cracking a password
A method of bypassing normal authentication, securing remote access to a computer, obtaining access to plaintext, and so on, while attempting to remain undetected
Collection of the same malware installed on several machines on a large, usually international scale. The risks involved can be anything from sending out spam, keylogging data, and installing fake anti-virus software to presenting the user with CAPTCHAs (to allow whoever created it to automatically make new email addresses etc and continue the chain), or distributing more malware
Malware which investigates your computer for personal files, encrypts them and then demands that you pay a ransom for the decryption key in order to get your files back again

Sources: Wikipedia

28 June 2010


A recent complaint letter to P&G:

I found a pringle in a packet of your Prawn Cocktail flavour Pringles which appears to have extra material attached to it, from a packet which I purcahsed 2 days ago from my local Premiere on Wokingham Road, Reading. On the upper side is a large brown patch which looks a bit like chocolate and on the underside is a small patch with pimples and and a brown/blacky substance. I know that you carry out quality control very well but obviously this pringle seems to have escaped and I am not sure if it would be safe to consume. I have taken a couple of pictures and uploaded them [here].

I would be more than happy to post this to you for analysis or any other questions you would like to ask. I would like to query how this could have happened and would like to highlight that this pringle especially could be quite dangerous, especially to children, if consumed.

Kind regards.


Hello Robert and thank you for your email

I am sorry that you have been concerned about your recent purchase of Pringles and would like to assure you that although the object you have found is unpleasant looking, it is completely harmless.

The object is in fact a small piece of burnt chip. In the normal frying process the chips go through the fryer only once but occasionally a small piece may stick to the fryer and go through it a number of times. This piece of burnt chip then becomes attached to another chip and appears as the dark object you noticed.

In the hope that you will continue to enjoy Pringles with confidence, I am sending you a voucher which can be used toward a future purchase. Please allow 7 working days for this to reach you.

Thank you again for bringing this matter to our attention and please get back in touch if we can be of any further assistance.

We are conducting a survey on your level of satisfaction of the service you received. We hope you will dedicate a few minutes to help us improve our service to you. To participate in the survey please copy and paste the following link into a new internet browser:http://webcollect.viewscast.com/pgccib/?country=11

Kind regards,


Consumer Relations

2 May 2010

Reasons why I should drink alcohol?

The reason for my previous post is because I've met some people before who wanted to know all the reasons I don't drink - any of the reasons on their own don't seem enough.

I find myself detailing these reasons because, everything I mentioned has made a barrier in my mind that I cannot cross - whenever someone, anyone, regardless of how much I trust them, asks me to try alcohol, I can't do it. My mind just tells me 'no', that I should refuse. What I feel at that point is, if I try that drink, I could be opening Paradora's box. I have no idea what will happen, but it is likely, in my mind, that something will happen which I don't want to happen.

What I want to find out, what I want help with, is what are the reasons that I should drink (but not excessively)? So far, from what people have said, nothing has convinced me to change my mind - I would like if people could post me a good collection of reasons to drink - because I had a lot of good reasons to convince me otherwise. Perhaps by having more reasons I can attempt to find out what else is stopping me from at least, trying alcohol.

Here are some:

- It's fun
- You only live once, so you might as well try it before you die
- People prefer having friends with 'an open mind'

This convinced me a lot but still isn't enough.

Post your reasons and ideas below... thanks :)

Reasons why I don't drink alcohol

- Went to my best friend's house once when I was in secondary school, and all my mates got completely wasted, and one threw up in my best friend's house: neither him nor his mum were very happy, and we never had a party there again. While I wasn't to blame, I felt ashamed by my own friends and disgusted how they did that to themselves. I also was confused how they could go through all of that and still turn up to classes the next Monday, knowing what they had done.

- Someone close in my family got completed wasted when they first started drinking, and was in a really emotional state about our gran who passed away not long before, was soaking wet from the rain and throwing up, and it was up to me to pick up the pieces

- My grandad had an affair, had children with another woman and when I knew him before he died (when I was about 11), he was a heavy drinker and smoker, lived on his own, was very aggressive and moody and hardly spoke to the family at all

- Belief that I don't need alcohol to have a good time

- I like to stay in control of my body and mind

- I'm scared that if I try alcohol and I like it, I may end up drinking it more and more, and may even get addicted to it, and this could lead to something I don't want to end up in

- I don't trust myself

- Some thoughts I have to keep suppressed in my mind, and if I drank, I'd be afraid of saying or doing something very hurtful or taboo

- Saves me money

- Humiliation, embarrassment

- Maintaining a good role model who people can look up to

- Reading and watching bad press about alcohol makes me upset and angry that people binge drink, cause so many problems and put their lives unnecessarily at risk: drink driving, killing their livers, various injuries, throwing up in public places, putting a pressure on the NHS and the Police. Ultimately everything I've read has discouraged me massively of ever wanting to drink and ending up in any of those situations

- I don't want to have a criminal record for alcoholism, I want to maintain my dignity; I don't want people to look down on me for doing something irresponsible

- I've been out in the past with friends and haven't even drunken any alcohol, and still managed to do some stupid things - who knows what would happen if I did drink?

- I can act drunk without even drinking

All in all I think that the cons outweigh the pros.

Related blogs of mine:

30 March 2010

PC Cleaning

A friend recommended to me to use tights/pantyhose to cover over the fans in your PC, to stop dust collecting... and trusting in him that it doesn't cause it to explode or damage the computer somehow, here are some more sites with the same suggestion:

25 March 2010

5 Rules

Rule #1: Look out for your friends. They are the ones most likely to be there for you when times are hard.
Rule #2: Only say sorry once. If you say it a second time for the same reason, it wasn't really an apology. Be respectful to your friends, don't criticise them, but do support them, and root for them.
Rule #3: Life comes round only once, so take all the opportunities you have, make the most of all the time you have left. Saying that you'll do it another day really means that you probably never will get a chance to do it again; so just do it.
Rule #4: Be yourself, know who you are, know what you are good at (even if you may not enjoy it), flaunt your abilities and pursue your interests. Accept your faults and mistakes, and move on - enjoy yourself in every way that you can.
Rule #5: Always try to listen to the little bells in your head which tell you and remind you of things, even the faintest ones, they are often the most interesting.

If you can do all of these, then the rest of the world awaits you =]

5 February 2010

MySQL Setup Instructions

If you're wanting to setup a MySQL database on your computer, personally I would recommend installing XAMPP, which you can download from here:

XAMPP includes PHP, MySQL, phpMyAdmin and several other handy programming languages which help setup your own server (and even webserver). phpMyAdmin makes it really easy to configure and manage databases, tables and relations.

There is also a specific version for Mac too which is slightly more lightweight:

You can also use MySQL Workbench to help you design your database, create ER diagrams, and also reverse AND forward engineer your databases to/from models. MySQL Workbench also helps *a lot* if you are trying to add Foreign Keys to your database - but using phpMyAdmin works fine too.

MySQL Workbench: http://wb.mysql.com/

However, if you would rather just install MySQL Server, here are some instructions I've put together which may help you set it up too.

If you have made a database in phpMyAdmin and want to set it up just on MySQL, here are the instructions on how to import it back.

To use a newer version of the database, delete the existing database:

mysql> drop mydb;

Import newer version:


USE mybd;

\. C:\mydb.sql (this is the path to your exported SQL file)

More MySQL Commands: http://www.pantz.org/software/mysql/mysqlcommands.html

If you have trouble logging onto MySQL and need to reset your password: http://lists.mysql.com/mysql/171366

Follow these instructions better:

  1. Manual stop: go to run, type services.msc; find the service name, right-click it and click Stop.
  2. Go into C:/Program Files/MySQL/MySQL Server 5.1/bin/
  3. Right-click the mysqld.exe file and create shortcut
  4. Right-click the shortcut, go to properties, and in the path, add on the end (don’t need quotes): --skip-grant-tables
  5. In MySQL command line prompt issue the following command:
  6. mysql –u root mysql
  7. UPDATE user SET password=PASSWORD("abcd") WHERE user="root";
  9. At this time your root password is reset to "abcd" and MySQL will now know the privileges and you'll be able to login with your new password:
  10. mysql –u root –p abcd mysql

Importing the database:


To test your databases have been imported:

mysql> show databases;

mysql> USE mydb;

Alternatives to XAMPP: