Supporting local shops

Stylish local shopkeeperTesco has opened an Express store near me. And it is a good one. It has a wide range and seems to be cheaper than the central London Tesco Metros and Sainsburys Locals. It is probably a ten minute walk from my flat but it will relatively easy for me to visit on the way home for the tube.

So, I now find myself with middle-class guilt over my local convenience store. I hate the way our high streets have become identical collections of the same brands. There’s been plenty of fights against these small big chain supermarkets moving into neighbourhoods where locals have come out to support their shopkeepers.

My problems is my local shop isn’t run by a friendly shopkeeper — they don’t even make eye contact. Their range is poor and expensive. And if I buy milk in the summer it will go off before the use-by date. Yet the family that run it are there 13 hours a day every day, I suspect they don’t take a day off and have never had a holiday. Plus they are conveniently at the top of my street so I can pop there to get milk before breakfast.

I guess the best I can do is only use the lovely Tesco Express for things I usually buy for my local shop. And I have to hope they aren’t driven out of business.

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AppifierAppifier is a new product that promises to turn your WordPress blogs into iPhone apps with ease. I tried it last week and it was easy. Install a plugin on your blog, upload an icon and loading screen png to Appifier and your app is ready. You can see it on your iPhone using its Sandbox app.

Appifier submit your app to Apple but you need your own developer account ($99 a year). The ongoing cost of Appifier is $39.99 a month or $499.99 a lifetime. The Appifier cost includes push notifications and you can monetise it with AdMob or Adsense without paying Appifier a cut.

So far, so simple, so a-little-pricey.

The first problem is the resulting app is as simple as setup process. It shows the latest seven posts as simple image and text. You navigate to older posts via their categories and search. That’s it. No comments or commenting.

This leads on to the second problem — what is the point? It doesn’t make a compelling app. You’d have to have a pretty loyal readership to get a decent number of iPhone users. And the sort of bloggers this simple approach will appeal to will not.

I’m sure Appifier have bigger plans and more features on the way but I cannot see how it will justify its cost and bring in enough app traffic.

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More or Less

More or LessI’ve been gorging on podcasts lately. For the first time in a long time I’m up to date on the Scott Mills Daily and I’ve listened to the latest series of Radio 4’s More or Less. Presented by The FT’s Tim Hartford, it is a 30 minute looks at maths, statistics and numbers in the news.

Now, I understand that this might not sound interesting. However it does a great job of explaining and debunking things. In particular I like how it takes figures in the news and checks their validity (a bit like Channel 4’s Fact Check).

In the last episode it checked if the projected benefits of High Speed 2 are realistic and if executive pay has really risen by 70%. It presented both sides of the argument while explaining how complicated these things are to get right.

(It does look like the High Speed 2 benefits were calculated in good faith but it is hard to predict travel in 2070. Executive pay hasn’t risen by so much across the board.)