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Update: Experts Say Ofcom Wrong About Rural Broadband

Mon, 26 May 2008 17:24:34 +0100

Last Friday, I mentioned Ofcom announcing that Rural broadband households overtake urban for the first time and wondered whether the Ofcom definition of broadband is as broken as the Ofcom definition of digital television.

Of course it is.

Apprently, it ignores download speed, alternative access points and lots of other aspects. See Rural broadband - lies, damn lies and statistics (hey, don't blame the numbers - blame those doing the interpretation!), Lifetorque: Ofcom still out of touch on broadband and It's Broadband Jim - but not as we know it! for some of the points and links to more.

Can we ever trust any of Ofcom's statistics?

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Tags: life, phones, statistics, web.

World Environment Day

Thu, 05 Jun 2008 15:04:16 +0100

Today is World Environment Day 2008 and also Recycle Week in the UK.

Locally, our poor recycling record has attracted attention. The main Somerset CC area averages 50% recycling and composting, while North Somerset only does 36%. This will cost us money, as explained under the subtly-titled local newspaper article 'REDUCE WASTE NOW OR FACE A £12M FINE' It's very annoying to read a Conservative councillor say

"The message we really have to get out to people is that this is their problem too."

We know it's a bloody problem. Have you tried to use your stupid recycling system?

Criticism of the stupid collections is strangely absent from the local Lib-Dem's Mid table place shouldn't be good enough when it comes to recycling (Mike Bell) and I can't even find recycling mentioned on local Labour sites - I think those two groups may have been in coalition when the stupid system was introduced. It's left to local residents to explain the problem.

Local waste collections have been simplified recently but it still seems bloody awkward, taking different types of waste to different places. The most recent edition of the council's North Somerset Life magazine explained that they don't collect plastic bottles from the doorstep because it would add £10 per year to our local tax. I'm damn sure it already costs me more than that to store them and ferry them into town over a year. The only people rewarded by saving that £10 seem to be those who live near the town centre collection point, drive to that Tesco anyway, or don't recycle plastics. Why reward them?

Speaking of Tesco... those national and local favourites have applied to build Two more Tesco stores for Weston [The Weston Mercury] including one directly opposite another supermarket. The application number is 08/P/1230/F if you want to respond.

The planning system seems my main chance to protect my local environment at the moment. Next Monday evening at 7.30pm, 08/P/1070/F - Erection of 5 storey building to provide 14 flats, restaurant and office with basement parking following demolition of restaurant will be considered by a Kewstoke village council planning meeting in the village hall. As I understand it, the public may make statements at the start of the meeting and 2 Kewstoke Road is currently the Castle.

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Tags: cooperatives, life, statistics, travel, wsm.

Online shopping

Tue, 10 Jun 2008 11:48:38 +0100

I maintain a number of web shops for our webmaster cooperative and one of our main challenges is to encourage people who put things into their basket/cart to actually buy them.

How to avoid shopping cart abandonment by Graham Jones makes some points that I've identified as possible reasons for people not buying in the past: comparisons, robots and not trusting the site enough to give payment details. There's not much we can do about robots or people comparison-shopping at a technical level, but we try to build some trust by publishing the shop owner's geographic address and telephone number (which I think is required by law in England for most web shops now), making sure the SSL certificate and domain registration details are correct, using reputable payment providers and being clear about delivery charges and terms.

The point about the slickness of the checkout process is a good one and one that we've only recently started to work on. We've had pretty good results from making the checkout slicker on one site. It looks like two-thirds of people who click the checkout button now continue to buy, putting it comfortably ahead of current UK averages but I need to tweak our stats calculator to make the report directly comparable. Nevertheless, I think those improvements will be added to our other shops as soon as possible.

I share Graham's low opinion of the oft-quoted Amazon. We've also been looking at other web shop software besides OSCommerce for a new project, so now would be a good time to change to something new if it improves the checkout a lot. We've made OSCommerce's checkout a lot smoother, but it's still essentially OSC. Is there a good checkout which you'd want to use as an example?

The other challenge is getting visitors onto the site in the first place. How To Build Links By Patrick Altoft explains the basics as well as I've seen recently.

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Tags: cooperatives, software, statistics, web.

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