Categories
Electric Vehicles Series Technology

How many miles per gallon do electric cars get?

Electric cars aren’t powered by diesel or petrol, so they don’t have an official miles per gallon figure. That said, there are ways of working out how efficient they are and even give them a rough miles per gallon.

How Many Kilowatt Hours is in a Gallon of Petrol? ⛽

The US governments fueleconomy.gov website calculates 1 (US) gallon of gasoline is equivalent to 33.7 kilowatt hours of energy – or kWh.

A US gallon is 3.785 litres, whereas in Canada and the UK a gallon is 4.546 litres. This means a (UK/Canadian) gallon of petrol is equivalent to 40.5 kWh of electricity.

Each litre of petrol is equivalent to 8.9 kWh.

Toyota Prius vs Nissan Leaf MPG

The Toyota Prius was once regarded as the sustainable choice for environmentally conscious drivers, but in recent times its crown has slipped a little. This might be partly because of Toyota’s inaccurate branding, claiming that it sells “self-charging cars”, when in reality a (very small) battery is charged by recovering motion which was achieved by burning petrol or diesel. That’s how most cars charge their 12-volt battery, it’s not self-charging! 😂 It’s also because electric cars are now more viable and mainstream.

The Nissan Leaf is currently the top-selling electric vehicle of all time (at least until the Model 3’s first quarter sales are released) so let’s use that for the comparison. An “efficient” hybrid vs an electric vehicle, how do they compare?

The Nissan Leaf

The Totoya Prius achieves 62.4mpg (UK/Canada) using 4.5 litres to travel 100 miles. The Nissan Leaf by comparison achieves the equivalent of 129.7mpg (UK/Canada) taking just 2.2 litres to travel 100 miles.

This highlights the efficiency of electric vehicles.

The Leaf uses less than half the energy of the Prius (the previous “gold standard”) to travel the same distance.

Efficiency

Internal combustion engine (ICE) powered cars convert around 12-30% of the petrol or diesel they consume into forward motion powering the wheels. This is because an ICE car loses over two-thirds of its energy through heat 🔥 and the transmission of power through the drivetrain.

Even the most inefficient electric vehicles translate at least 60% of the electricity stored in the battery into forward motion. If driven using regenerative braking (to re-capture energy, rather than scrubbing it off via breaking) EVs can be around 90% efficient!

How Big is an Electric Car’s Fuel Tank?

Electric car battery and powertrain

Here’s another interesting question, if an electric car had a fuel tank, how big would it be?

The Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus has a 50kWh battery, so if one US gallon of gasoline/petrol is equivalent to 33.7kWh, then the Tesla Model 3s equivalent petrol fuel tank would be 1.48 US gallons – or 5.62 litres.

That’s right, an electric car can achieve a range of 200 miles (275 if driven carefully in warm weather) on less than the equivalent of 6 litres of petrol!

You can also compare cars on a cost per mile basis, which is what I’m going to write about next, with the help of the new electric Mini!

Categories
Electric Vehicles Series Technology

The Electric Future

Today I present to you the first in a series of posts on electric vehicles! Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about driving an electric car – because since September, I have been!

An electric car charging

EVs (or BEVs) are the future. Hydrogen, fuel cell, biofuel and battery electric drivetrains all offer exciting opportunities for the future, but it’s the electric car that’s gathered the most momentum so far. In the first 6 months of 2019, around 800,000 fully electric cars were sold globally, a figure that’s increasing exponentially each year. Those 800k cars added to the 3.3 million electric cars already on the road at the end of 2018.

EVs being the chosen form of future transport is largely down to one man and one company – Elon Musk CEO of Tesla. In fact, it’s the Tesla Model 3 that’s been credited by many as the driver (if you’ll excuse the pun!) of EV adoption growth.

Since its release, it’s dominated the market in the United States and was the 9th best-selling car in 2019. That’s not the 9th best battery electric vehicle (it was the most popular EV) it’s the 9th top-selling car overall! It tops its class selling more small and medium-sized luxury cars to the USA market than Mercedes and Audi combined.

Sales of electric cars in general have been rapidly gathering momentum around the world. Norway is leading the way, where 42% of new car sales in 2019 were BEVs.

The Netherlands is also a trailblazer in the electric future, with the Tesla Model 3 (a fully electric car) claiming the most sales of any car in 2019. In December, 54% of new cars sold in the Netherlands were plug-in electric vehicles (different from battery electric vehicles, as this also includes PHEVs) up from 15% in 2018.

The UKs electric market is also gathering pace, with 7.3% of cars sold in 2019 having a battery and electric motor – so this includes BEVs (100% electric vehicles), PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) and HEVs (hybrid electric vehicles). The BEV market share has more than doubled from 2018s 0.7% market share to 1.6% in 2019 – with 3.3% of cars sold in December fully electric. That could skyrocket next year, as Benefit-in-Kind tax (BIK) becomes 0% on EVs from April.

95% of Global New Car Sales Will Be Electric in 2030 - poll of 174 EV owners

In my final article of the 2010s, I made some predictions for 2030. One was that in 2030, 95% of new cars sold (globally) would be battery electric vehicles (EVs). I’ve polled 174 current EV owners to get their view on the 95% prediction and turns out, on the whole they agree! The majority (53.5%) think it is likely, with only 28 people saying it’s very unlikely.

You could argue that EV owners are a biased sample, as they’re already living the electric future and won’t want to go back to owning an ICE (internal combustion engine) car, but it’s important to take into account that they are living the limitations of owning an EV too. They understand the challenges of charging, range and existing (breakdown, servicing etc.) providers not understanding the technology.

Based on my knowledge of current uptake, I believe 25% of global new car sales will be EVs by 2024. Bloomberg analysis indicates it won’t be until 2028, with it taking another 10 years until EVs finally de-throne ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle, topping 50% of sales. In my view, that’s overly pessimistic and I think Bloomberg will be surprised by the rate of acceleration this decade.

We’ll have to wait and see.

Exhaust fumes coming out of a car

Many countries have already moved to ban internal combustion engine cars, with Norway leading the way, phasing out petrol and diesel new car sales by 2025. The country is set to have all cars running on green energy in five years time. The UK has also set a target – albeit a little less ambitions – of 2040 for the ban.

Data suggests global charge point installations have started to rise significantly, 80,000 units installed globally in 2012, 180,000 in 2015 and 630,000 in 2019. Tesla currently have 1,800 Superchargers installed around the world with over 15k individual stalls (or pumps for you ICE fans!) although as these are paid for by Tesla funds, they’re exclusively for Tesla cars.

A Tesla Supercharging station witha  red Tesla Model X an a silver Tesla Model S

In order for EVs to be a viable form of transport, destination charging infrastructure is critical. Unlike fossil fuel-powered cars, it’s rare you need to “fill-up” an electric car while out and about, since charging at home and work gives most people enough juice to do their daily driving. Rapid roadside chargers are important too (like Tesla Superchargers, the IONITY network, and Ecotricity) especially for those looking to do more than 200-miles, which is the range of most electric cars.

Over the next few months I’ll be sharing my experience of driving an EV, debunking EV myths and explaining key terms. Hopefully, if I do a really good job, I might even persuade you to make the switch yourself!

Categories
Festive Fun Science Technology

Some bold predictions for 2030

Hello all!

I’m back!

Just in time to see the year (and decade) out! 😊

I’ve been working on a series on electric vehicles, which I’ll start to publish in the new year. Today though, I’m going to look into the future and make some predictions on what the world will look like 10 years from now.

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten” ― Bill Gates

In 2019, 2030 may seem really far away, but today, we’re closer to 2030 than we are to 2009.

Here are three bold predictions I believe stand a very real chance of coming true over the next decade.

95% of Global New Car Sales Will Be Electric

A decade ago, there weren’t any serious electric cars available on the market. If you played golf or delivered milk, you might use a short-range electric vehicle, but if you wanted to drive 400 miles at 70mph, it just wasn’t possible.

In 2012 the Tesla Model S arrived, as did the Supercharger network, which meant you could drive for 250 miles, stop for forty-five minutes on a 72kW charger and then drive another 150 miles, powered 100% by electricity!

This seemed like a breakthrough at the time, although today cars are available with almost 400 miles of range, and charging takes a fraction of the time, with some networks offering speeds of 350kW – juicing up at well over a thousand miles per hour!

Range has been creeping up, charging speeds rapidly improving and prices have dropped significantly. It’s now possible to pick up a second-hand 100-mile range Renault Zoe or Nissan Leaf for less than £7,000! Alternatively, the 2020 Renault Zoe will have a 200-mile range and cost around £25,000.

EVs require less maintenance than petrol and diesel-powered cars, and are significantly more efficient and cheaper to run – reducing the total-cost-of-ownership. It’s this, coupled with the push for cleaner air and global climate concerns that lead me to believe that the tipping point for electric cars is coming very soon. By 2025 I believe more than 50% of new car sold in Europe, North America and China will be powered solely by electricity. 🔋⚡🔌🚗

Humans Will Set Foot On Mars

In the 1960s there was a great race for space – with Neil Armstrong setting foot on the Moon in 1969. Since then, the dash for extraterrestrial exploration has slowed somewhat, which fewer advances and less drive from governments to get into space.

A notable exception is the ISS, which is celebrating 20 years in orbit – having been permanently manned since November 2000.

NASA has plans for a sustained lunar presence from 2028, something that’ll be much easier thanks to booming interest from the private sector. Rocket Lab, SpaceX and Blue Origin all have ambitious space plans, and a proven track-record of success.

Arguably the most iconic moment of the decade for space travel came as private enterprise SpaceX launched of its Falcon Heavy, simultaneously landing two Falcon 9 boosters.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0-pfzKbh2k

Mars and Earth are close (in space terms!) every 26 months, meaning roughly every two years, there is an optimal launch window open for a trip to the red planet. The 13th of October 2020 is when the two planets will next be closest, although it’s highly unlikely a manned mission will be launched by then.

The last window of the next decade will the March 2029, which is when I’m guessing the first human will set foot on the red planet – 60 years after Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.

While the first human to set foot on Mars will probably go straight from Earth, I believe a permanent lunar base will mean that most missions to Mars post-2040 will launch from the Moon, not Earth. This is because it’s likely to be far cheaper to conduct smaller launches from Earth and bigger ones from the Moon – due to the lower gravity.

If the moon has the resources needed for rocket fuel (ice at the poles which can be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen) and to make materials – via 3D printing – in future it could become the springboard to space! 🚀

10 Countries Will Be Cashless

More and more transactions are moving online. When you check-out your virtual basket of goods on the internet, you don’t have the option to pay with cash – one example of how notes and coins are less useful than they once were.

Sweden is expected to go cashless in 2023 and in many developed nations, the use of cash as a means of paying for things is dropping. In the UK, cash was king, accounting for 60% of all payments in 2008 and remaining the single most popular way to pay until 2017 – since then debit cards have been the most popular way to pay.

By 2028, UK Finance believes debit cards, direct debits and credit cards will all be more common ways to pay than cash, with cash accounting for only 9% of payments. The drop from 60% to 9% in two decades shows the scale of the decline.

Singapore bus with a contactless payment reader

On a recent visit to Singapore, it struck me just how far ahead it is in terms of payment methods. Everywhere I visited supported some form of virtual payments; from contactless on the MRT and in-app payments for taxis, to online payments for the hotel and card payments at a 7 Eleven.

Mobile banking, cryptocurrencies, online shopping and contactless technology all offer convenience and are alternatives to support a cashless future.

Naturally, in many parts of the world, lack of development and technological literacy, as well as nostalgia, habits and cultural preferences, mean cash will remain on the global stage for a while yet.

I do think around 5% of the world (10 countries) will become cashless in the next decade though – with Singapore and Sweden both likely candidates. 💷💳

Happy New Year! 🎆🎇✨🎉🎊

Thanks for reading and taking an interest in Technology Bloggers, we really do appreciate it 😊

Let me know your thoughts on my predictions and if you’ve got any of your own!

Happy New Year! 😄

Categories
Fun Internet News

YouTube’s most watched UK videos of 2013

It’s that time of year again when our content starts to become more fun. To continue the tradition of the last two years, I am going to take a look at which videos attracted the most attention on YouTube over the last year in the UK. Scroll to the end for the global list.

Sneaking in at number 10 this year is Learn the Alphabet with Peppa Pig! a video which teaches the alphabet the help of a family of pigs. Interestingly the video has a very high percentage of dislikes – around 10,500 likes to 9,000 dislikes. If you have forgotten the alphabet and want a quick refresher, I recommend you check out the UK’s 10th most visited video of 2013.

In at number 9 is a music video by the band Hadouken! The song is accompanied by a video of people doing all sorts of amazing, thrilling stunts and is well worth a watch. It proves to you what us humans are capable of.

The eighth most watched video on YouTube for the UK this year is Francine Lewis’ Britian’s Got Talent Interview. Francine is an impressionist who shocked and humoured the audience, naturally getting 4 yeses from the judges. If you want to follow her story (and have a laugh) check out the video, Francine Lewis with her many impressions.

Having been watched over 10 million times across the world Tom Daley: Something I want to say… comes in at number 7 on this years list. The Olympic athlete announced he was in a relationship with another guy via his YouTube channel and the video instantly went viral. The media as a whole were very respectful of Tom’s bravery and many congratulated him on helping to break down still prevalent social boundaries. With a 20:1 like to dislike ratio, I think it is fair to say the public is behind Tom and value his openness.

Remember that video by the Norwegian army that made Internet history earlier this year? No. How about if I say the words Colo Terorita… ringing any bells? Watch this then.


That’s right, a Harlem Shake parody comes in at number 6.

Has there been a year when Tom Ska hadn’t had a video in the UK’s top 10? Probably not for a while. Okay so in at number 5 is asdfmovie6, a continuation of the asdf sketch comedy series. asdf7 is now also out, but since it was only released in October, it hasn’t made the top 10 for this year. For a little more comedy, check out asdf6 below. 🙂

Number 4 this year a BBC video from the Graham Norton Show where Graham is surprised by Will & Jaden Smith. The video has been viewed nearly 20 million times, and sees Alfonso, Will and Jaden and DJ Jazzy Jeff do the Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air rap.

So, to the top three!

This year Britain’s Got Talent has two videos in the top 10, stealing slot number three on the list too with Attraction’s audition video. Attraction are amazing, they stunned and moved the nation with their fantastic shadow performance. Check it out.

In at number 2 this year with over 200 thousand likes to less than 2,500 dislikes is the 15 minute long My Wedding Speech by Mcfly drummer Tom Fletcher. The video is a brilliant song thanking all those involved in making Tom’s wedding. The song is a very entertaining tribute and is worth 15 minutes of watching, do take a look.

So now to number 1. Comedy seems to have been a common theme over the last three years, so it is fitting that this years winner is a comedy video. Ever wondered how animals eat their food? Well you wouldn’t be alone, it appears over 90 million other people have too. Take a look.

The Global Most Watched

Here is a list of the global top 10 most watched videos on YouTube.YouTube logo

  1. Ylvis – The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)
  2. Harlem Shake (original army edition)
  3. How Animals Eat Their Food
  4. Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball (Chatroulette Version)
  5. baby&me / the new evian film
  6. Volvo Trucks – The Epic Split feat. Van Damme
  7. YOLO (feat. Adam Levine & Kendrick Lamar)
  8. Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise
  9. THE NFL : A Bad Lip Reading
  10. Mozart vs Skrillex. Epic Rap Battles of History Season 2

That’s it for another year, but do be sure to stay tuned for next years YouTube top 10! 🙂

Categories
Business Gadgets

Top 5 reasons for gadget buyer’s remorse

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Electronic gadgets
Typical gadget purchases.

Nothing compares to the excitement of getting a brand new gadget home. But, when you get it out of the box, have you ever regretted buying it?

New research from Debt Advisory Centre shows that the majority of people in the UK (82%) have experienced buyer’s remorse – and 20% of them have regretted buying gadgets (that’s just over 8 million people!).

Gadgets can be a big commitment – so if you regret buying them it can feel awful. That’s why Debt Advisory Centre has looked at the top 5 causes of ‘gadget buyer’s remorse’, and suggested a few ways they could be avoided.

1. I didn’t really need it (38%)

Many of us have been guilty of this at some point or another. It can be so easy to get caught up in the excitement when a new gadget comes out – and we feel like we just have to have one of our own. However, in the end, we realise that we didn’t actually need it at all.

One of the best ways to avoid this is to delay your purchase – by a week, a month or perhaps even longer. It might take some determination, but after the time has passed you might have a better idea of whether you actually wanted the gadget in the first place. Plus, if you wait a month or two, the cost might go down too.

2. I couldn’t really afford it (21%)

21% of people with gadget buyer’s remorse regretted their purchase because of the cost. That’s equivalent to 1.7 million people across the UK! And it’s true: gadgets can be very expensive, especially if they’re brand new.

Buying something that’s a bit too expensive is one thing – but getting into debt because of it is quite another. At Debt Advisory Centre, we’ve found that overspending is one of the main reasons people get in touch with us. We hear situations like this every day, along with the other causes of debt like job loss, divorce and other changes in financial situation. Whatever the reason, if you’re struggling with your debts it’s important to get help as soon as possible. A debt adviser could assess your circumstances and suggest an appropriate solution.

If you’re hankering after a gadget you can’t really afford (and you’re sure you actually need it), well: patience is a virtue. Wait it out, and you might find that the price drops significantly – or you might be able to find it much cheaper second-hand.

3. It was poor quality or broken (17%)

If you get your gadget out of the box and it doesn’t work properly, or it’s visibly broken, you should be entitled to return it and get a full refund. If it’s not quite as good as you were expecting (for example, if it’s a bit shoddy or flimsy) you should be able to return it, citing that it’s not suitable for your needs.

Surprisingly, only 7% of gadget-buyers who regretted their purchase actually returned it. Always check retailers’ returns policy before you buy anything from them.

4. I rarely or never use it (15%)

One day, your gadget can be your favourite possession, and never out of your hand. Then, a few months down the line, it can be in a cupboard – forgotten.

In this case, you may not be able to return it to the retailer (as you may have had the item for too long). So you could take an example from our respondents, who sold their item on (21%) or gave it away (6%). Have a look on eBay or similar sites to see how much other people are selling your item for. It’s worth at least getting some of the money you paid back.

5. I didn’t like it (10%)

It’s reassuring to see that ‘didn’t like it’ is the least popular reason for regretting gadget purchases. Gadget-buyers clearly do their research to see whether a gadget is right for them before they buy it.

However, if it does turn out that you don’t like it – don’t just keep it (like a whopping 66% of our respondents did). Act quickly and you can return it.

Categories
Business Internet

Bridging the digital divide

In this day and age, people have come to expect at least a modest speed for their internet connection. In many urban parts of the UK, speeds of around 10MB per second are commonplace, with some homes experiencing five times that amount. Home internet access has become a prerequisite for many school pupils in their learning, but not all of them are so lucky.

For many children based in rural areas or internet blackspots or for those whose families cannot afford to pay a premium for access, getting the information they need in order to complete their homework or simply boost their knowledge is extremely challenging. This is something that was raised by Estyn, the Welsh education watchdog, and they’re not alone.

Call for more investment

Those in rural areas, even if they’re just on the edge of major conurbations such as Greater Manchester and Leeds/Bradford, will find getting even basic broadband a pain, which has seen people in high-powered positions call for investment in improving connectivity where there is none. David Nuttall, the MP for Bury North in Greater Manchester, is one such voice.

Of the £990,000 allocated to the region, Mr Nuttall is calling for a large chunk of that to go towards people in his constituency who are experiencing problems with their speeds and, in extreme cases, access.

Those who live in areas which have very slow broadband access speeds are seriously disadvantaged in this digital age”, he said in an interview with the Bury Times.

Although in recent months we have seen some progress — for example in Nangreaves thanks to the hard work of local residents — there is still much to be done”, he added.

Solution from above

An optical fibre broadband cable
Whilst fibre optic broadband the fastest form of broadband, satellite broadband offers much faster speeds for those in rural communities, without optical fibre cables.

Until something is done about access to fast broadband nationwide, those affected are left to ponder what, if any, alternatives are open to them. One could come in the form of satellite broadband, which can work as more than just a stopgap solution.

Many people don’t realise the role satellite broadband has in filling in rural not-spots and connecting the last 5% of homes and businesses that will never get fast broadband over wires”, said Andrew Walwyn, CEO of EuropaSat.

The latest generation Ka band satellite broadband services offer defined, predictable service levels at reasonable cost, with no geographical discrimination. Using a small set-top box and an outside mini dish it’s now possible to deliver up to 20 Mb fast broadband to any property in the UK or indeed Europe.

Categories
Internet Reviews Technology

Monitive – 1 year on

Last year the founder of Monitive.com, Lucian Daniliuc, contacted me, asking if we wanted to run a competition to giveaway 10 Monitive licenses; I accepted and we launched our first ever competition.

I was also given a Monitive account, and have been using it for a year now. In this post I am going to review my experience of the service after a years use.

Latency

One of the main things I use Monitive for is to monitor site response times. Latency is very important, and can have a huge effect on traffic, as the longer people have to wait, the more people you loose before the page loads.

With superfast broadband, many of us are becoming incredibly impatient, and if something isn’t responding, we might ditch a site in a matter of milliseconds.

Before using Monitive, I had no idea how long Technology Bloggers took to respond. Monitive allows me to see on a daily basis how long the blog takes to respond, in multiple locations, all around the world. I know that if you live in Liechtenstein or Ireland, the blog on average seems to take around half a second (500 ms) to respond. In the UK it’s about 0.6 seconds, whereas in the USA, it takes just over a second.

This lets me ask the site’s host why the latency varies so much, and ask them what they can do to improve global response times.

Response times Technology Bloggers - April 2012 to April 2013
A chart showing the average global response times of Technology Bloggers.

Uptime

Whilst response time is important, it has no value if your site is offline. Monitive is accessing Technology Bloggers every 5 minutes from hundreds of locations around the world, to ensure that the site is live and accessible. If the blog goes offline for more than 3 minutes, I am sent an email. These are my personal settings, you can make checks/notifications more/less frequent, and can get notified via SMS and Twitter.

Quite disappointingly I report that Technology Bloggers went offline 23 times in the last 30 days. During this period, you couldn’t access the site for more than 10 minutes on 6 occasions. If I wasn’t using Monitive, I would only have spotted one or two of these outages myself. I can now report these to the site’s host, and ask why the site has gone offline so many times.

Uptime graph 2013
A chart of the uptime and downtime Technology Bloggers experienced in April/May 2013.

Unless you pay for load balancing, to mirror your site on various servers across the world, and effectively distribute traffic, to ensure 100% uptime, you should expect some downtime. It is expected that most sites will have some go down at some point, however how frequently this happens, and how long they remain offline for is something to consider.

We have a 99.9% uptime guarantee on the blog, yet this year so far, uptime has been 99.85%, meaning around five hours of downtime has occurred this year already.

Improvements

One thing I don’t like about the service is that it doesn’t allow on demand checks. I think it would be very useful to be able to check the status (including response time) of a site at a desired location, whenever you want; but as of yet, this can’t be done.

As I have set Monitive to check the blog every 5 minutes, and then notify me after 3 minutes of downtime, it can be a while before the system updates. For example, if the site is checked at 13:00 and at 13:01 I check and the site is down, it wont be checked again until 13:05, and I wont be notified until 13:08. In such a situation, being able to check the current status, could be useful.

Chadrack

One of the winners of our Monitive competition was Chadrack Irobogo. I asked him what he thought of the service.

“I can say, it was great because throughout the period I was able to know what was going on with my site. Before then, I really did not know anything about site monitoring. It was during the use of this program I learned when my blog was either down or up. And all of these was done without my doing anything. Unfortunately, I cant really give any details about the program. Only thing I can say is, it is really good.”

I agree with Chadrack on his point about the service being an eye opener to downtime. I really didn’t understand how often sites go down, even if only for very short periods of time.

Like Chadrack, Monitive is the first commercial website monitoring service I have used, so I don’t know how Monitive compares to its competitors. I am however suitable impressed by their services to want to keep using them.

If you are interested in Monitive’s services, do check out their uptime monitoring website. I have found website monitoring very useful, and am thankful to Monitive for my license, and for giving us prizes for our competition last year.

Categories
Business Internet

PayPal – is the internet giant a force for good?

PayPal, its an internet giant – you can’t really argue with that. 110 million active users worldwide and counting.

Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Google+, PayPal, Instagram and eBay ranked by active number of users
The number of active users top internet sites have – PayPal ranks among them with 110 million.

PayPal claims that 59% of purchases are completed using its service, however on average in the US, 88% of users abandon their virtual cart before the checkout.

The debate is still open as to whether people user PayPal because it offers the best service, or because it has a market monopoly – so like with Windows and Facebook, it is hard for people to choose another company, as everyone seems to be using it.

One cannot argue that PayPal offers a useful service. Users can exchange funds, send gifts and purchase goods from an account which gives additional security and guarantees, and doesn’t hold the key to an individuals personal life savings – as a bank account does. PayPal will also convert [many] foreign currencies into your local one, taking a small commission.

PayPal is easy to use, just get someone’s email address, and you can send money to them, or request funds from them. PayPal is also integrated with eBay (well, eBay owns PayPal) and many other sites, making buying online very easy. That said, Amazon still refuse to support it – maybe because eBay is one of its major competitors? Who knows.

Charges

One of the [major] downsides of PayPal are the charges. If one individual transfers money to another individual via a bank transfer, then there are usually no charges. PayPal however does charge.

PayPal's logoIf you use sterling, 3.4% of your transaction and an additional 20 pence will go to the folks at PayPal. So if you get a payment of £150, after fees you will have £144.70; so you lose £5.30. If you trade in US dollars, then the fee is 2.9% and $0.30 – slightly more reasonable. All the Scandinavian countries are charged 3.9% in addition to a fixed fee, as is Japan.

If every month you have a large inflow of money into your PayPal account, your fees do get reduced, and in the UK your fees can drop as low as 1.4% if you receive over £55,000 a month.

You could argue that these charges are fair, as PayPal is a business and needs to make a profit. However you could also argue that users are a little overcharged for the service PayPal provide.

PayPal Here

You can do almost anything on your mobile these days. In terms of business, there are mobile payroll apps, contact managers, and even mobile trading apps, so is it any surprise that PayPal has a mobile application? Probably not. It has several in fact, one for Android, one for iPhone and another for Windows mobiles. As the firm boasts:

“You don’t have to be at a computer to use PayPal – you can shop or send money securely wherever you are.”

But the PayPal app is no longer the only connection between your smartphone and the internet giant.

Last month, PayPal announced that it had developed and was launching a chip and PIN device, called PayPal Here, which (as they put it) provides “a simple, secure way, to accept payments on your mobile device“.

The PayPal Here device wirelessly connects to the sellers smartphone, which hosts a PayPal app, and gives the user the security of a wired chip and PIN, via the phone. So, the seller inputs the amount they want to charge, links their phone to the device, gives it to the customer, who inserts their card, enters their PIN, and the sale is complete.

This could potentially allow anyone to take a payment from virtually everywhere. Industries which were previously solely reliant on cash like taxi services and market stalls, can now potentially take payments by card.

Debit Card

Late last year, PayPal launched its own debit card, so users can directly access their funds via a card. Users can also earn 1% cash back when enrolled in PayPal’s Preferred Rewards Program.

These recent changes are leading me to wonder whether PayPal might choose to move into the banking industry soon? A debit card and an easy access ‘current’ account are both features of most high street banks.

Do you think PayPal will (in the near future) be launching a savings account? Could it start to offer users an overdraft facility, or even short-term loans? I believe it is a possibility – and not an unlikely one either.

Categories
Environment Technology

What renewable energy will you be looking into?

The recent government incentive to promote ecological mind sets in the home is good news for the environment. Householders will be offered loans to deck out their homes with energy-saving appliances and equipment, including extra insulation and new boilers.

So what exactly do you need for your home?

Loft Insulation

If you’ve no loft insulation in your house, you could be losing up to a quarter of your home’s heat through the roof.

Most newer buildings are built to a standard taking into account this loss, but if you have a home that’s a little older, chances are you’re wasting all that lovely warmth and putting yourself out of pocket.

The Green Deal will provide owners of uninsulated homes the chance to reduce the energy used in heating by proving loft insulation.

Wall Insulation

You could be looking at losing up to a third of your home’s heat through uninsulated walls. Cavity walls are much more energy efficient than the solid walls of older houses, and if your home was built before around 1940, it’s more likely to have the latter.

With good wall insulation, you’re looking at making a real saving in energy bills so it’s a good idea to find out if you’re equipped to keep all the heat in your home.

Boilers

According to energy efficiency ratings, a band A boiler is 20% more energy and cost effective and a band G one. It’s usually the older boilers branded with the G rating.

If your boiler is outdated, you could be losing a lot of money from it. Modern, band A boilers have an energy efficiency rating of 90% and allow you to keep much better tabs on your energy use. It’s worth investing in thermostatic radiator valves so rooms that aren’t being used aren’t heated too.

Katy Jones at Dulas had this to say of the feed-in tariff scheme:

“The feed in tariff incentive from the UK government is encouraging many people to consider installing renewable energy technologies; it will naturally mean that some renewables companies also look to offer energy efficiency measures as part of their product portfolios.”

One single wind turbineProducts which will include solar panels. Fitted onto the roof, solar panels are capable of generating renewable energy for the home. And if they are producing more energy than your household needs, you can sell that energy back to the National Grid.

From our perspective,” Ms. Jones continues, “Solar PV is a viable, cost effective way to generate free electricity and is especially good for high energy users looking to reduce their energy costs or with Carbon Reduction Commitments to meet.

Other renewable energy sources will include micro wind turbines, which will be accepted on the Green Deal. Though they are a little small to provide all of your energy, it’s the little things that make a big difference to an energy bill.

With the government backing you, it’s never been a better time to look into renewable energy.

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Internet News

What did you Wiki search for in 2012?

Did you use Wikipedia in 2012? Probably a silly question, as according to Alexa, 12.80% of all web users yesterday visited the online encyclopaedia, as part of their online day. The 3 month average reach of Wikipedia.org is 12.575%, so yesterday’s figure was no anomaly.

I usually visit Wikipedia multiple times a week.

Wikipedia logoThe fact that Wikipedia is open source is good, as it enables it to use the help of millions of people around the world to build its massive online encyclopaedia. Open source does however also leave it open to vandalism, as on most articles, nobody needs to verify your changes. Many Wikipedia articles are very accurate though, and they are getting better year on year.

In 2012, what was it you Wikied? A few days ago, Wikipedia released a list of the most popular pages visited on its site, segmented by country. The statistics make interesting reading, if you get some time.

With 32,647,942 views in 2012, Facebook topped Wikipedia’s list for the most visited English page. Wiki came in second with 29,613,759 views. Deaths in 2012, One Direction, The Avengers (2012 film), Fifty Shades of Grey and the 2012 phenomenon all had over 20 million views. The Dark Knight Rises, Google and The Hunger Games (all with 18+ million views) made up the rest of the English top 10 list.

For all of the top 10, I think you can understand why they were such popular searches. As Facebook becomes evermore a global brand, more and more people want to know what it is, and those using it, want to know more about it. A logical big winner.

With Wikipedia the 6th most visited site on the net, searching for what Wiki means, is probably not unexpected. One Direction, the 2012 phenomenon, The Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Grey, The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers were all popular 2012 trends online and off, hence their Wikipedia fame. Like Facebook, with growing web usage, and Google’s top spot on the web, that page you would naturally expect top have a big viewing.

The list isn’t limited to 10 pages though, Wikipedia have released the top 100 pages for many of the languages the site is published in.

Stephen Hawking - Photo from WikipediaThe 100th most visited English page is Stephen Hawking, the page about the British scientist, which had just over 7 million views in 2012.

Theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author, lecturer, defier of motor neurone disease and now 100th most visited English Wikipedia page 2012, what a career the 70 year old (71 tomorrow) has had!

With an extra 53,106 views, Albert Einstein just beat Hawking, claiming 98th place. That said, neither of the scientists had anything on Psy, who saw the page for Gangnam Style hit the 21st spot, with over 13 million views!

Many of the top 100 spots were claimed by websites (e.g. Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, Google etc.), countries (United States, United Kingdom, India, Australia etc.) and trends (Katy Perry, 2012 Summer Olympics, Skyfall, Downton Abbey etc.).


The stats for other languages are also interesting to look at. Facebook appeared in most of the lists, topping the Spanish list, claiming 10th place in the German list, 3rd in the French and Turkish, 4th in the Portuguese etc. Wiki was also very popular, appearing in the top 10 list for eight languages, as was Google, appearing in three languages.

What did you Wiki search for in 2012? Can you even remember? I know I searched far too many pages to recall them all, but looking down the English list, I recall visiting most of the top 100.

Do the amazing figures behind this list (Facebook getting 30+ million on its English page alone) worry you sightly? Do we trust Wikipedia, which is potentially a very unreliable site too much?