Jamie Thomson

Thoughts, words and deeds

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Tax analysis using your SA302 statement

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HMRC will, if you ask them, send you a form called SA302 which shows your tax calculation for a given year. As I’m self-employed and thus have to submit a Self Assessment tax return every year I find this to be very useful.

To order the SA302 calculation telephone 01619319070 or 08453000627, it should take a couple of minutes at most. You will need your National Insurance Number.

My latest SA302 arrived today and I’ve spent this evening compiling an Excel workbook containing all my SA302 data for the past five years (fun fun fun). I’ve found this to be very very useful so figured I should make the workbook available to anyone else in a similar position. The workbook can be accessed via your web browser (no Excel installation required) here: TaxAnalysis.xlsx. It already has some (fake) numbers filled in for years 2009-10 through to 2013-14:

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all you need to do is replace the fake numbers with your own and voila, you’ll get some nice charts like these showing you useful information about how much you earned and how much tax you paid over those years:

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Hope this is useful! If so, please do let me have some feedback. Thanks!

@Jamiet

Written by Jamiet

June 2, 2014 at 9:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Charting London Borough of Hounslow expenditure

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In November 2012 my family and I moved into the London Borough of Hounslow and as I am expecting to be here for a very long time I decided to avail myself of some information pertaining to how the council spends its money. All expenditure is published on the council website at Council spending over £500. Its great that that information exists and is published however the format in which it is published isn’t particularly useful to folks like me that want to analyse and drill into the data in greater detail, what we get is a PDF file (rubbish) and a CSV file (better) per month:

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Why is PDF rubbish? Because the data is static, we can’t explore it, reshape it, drill into it. The data is presented in whatever format the person who produced the PDF decides. This is all bad bad bad. CSV on the other hand (which stands for comma-separated-values) is better because it contains only raw data and there’s no pre-determined presentation of the data. One can take the monthly CSV files and collate them into a single view that allows exploration and comparison of the data and that is exactly what I have done; I have taken all available data (from April 2012 onwards) and published it online at All London Borough of Hounslow Supplier expenditure over 500GBP since April 2012.

The publishing format is a Microsoft Excel workbook however you do not need Excel installed in order to view it, you only need a web browser. You do have the option to download the workbook to take advantage of the greater power of Excel and do your own analysis.

Putting the data into Excel enables us to provide summaries and visualisations over the data such as expenditure per month:

Top ten expenditures per external Supplier, Expense Type & Service Area:



 

All the charts are attached to objects called slicers that makes them interactive. Here’s an example of a slicer:

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Clicking on a Supplier will cause the charts to display data for only that Supplier (you can select multiple Suppliers by holding down the CTRL button).

Similar to Slicers are Timelines which enable us to show data for a particular month or groups of months:

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Importantly, i shall be adding new data to this Excel workbook as and when it becomes available so check back every month to see the data changing.

The first month for which data was available was April 2012 hence when April 2013 rolls around we can start to do year-on-year comparisons and that is when the information might start to reveal some interesting spending trends of the council.

If you’re interested in the council’s absolute total expenditure since April 2012 I show that on the first sheet:

 

Finally, having access to all this data enables to discover interesting facts such as how much the council has spent with a particular chauffeur supplier:

 

If you find any other interesting titbits hidden in this corpus do let me know!

I encourage you to take a look and if you have any feedback please leave a comment below.

@Jamiet

Written by Jamiet

March 24, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Becoming gardener

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Helen, Bonnie and I recently moved into our new House in Hanworth Park and with the new house I inherited a substantial vegetable plot (the estate agent called it an orchard but given there’s only one tree in it that’s rather grandiose) that the previous owner has clearly put lots and lots of work into as you can see:

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Check out my PhotoSynth of it here: http://bit.ly/jtveggiepatch.

When we bought the house I resolved that I would try and maintain this in the same way and hopefully we could become slightly more self-sufficient in the process; anyone who knows me knows that I am not in the slightest bit green-fingered so this is actually a rather daunting task. Undeterred I ventured down to the veggie patch this morning to make my first harvest of some beetroot that the previous owner had kindly left for us. Here is my first crop:

Beetroot crop

Not exactly a bumper crop but I am hoping I can get a good few jars of pickled beetroot outta this little lot and perhaps keep some aside to be roasted with our christmas lunch. I have a recipe for pickling beetroot from Miles Collins (see: How to Pickle Beetroot) and I ventured out today to get all the ingredients. Tomorrow is pickling day – check back later to see how I get on!

@Jamiet

Written by Jamiet

December 1, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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Testing ifttt and SkyDrive

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I have written an ifttt.com recipe to take a copy of all my blog posts and store them on SkyDrive. You can view the recipe at https://ifttt.com/recipes/62911

let’s hope it works!!

Written by Jamiet

October 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Are you paying for Windows Live Hotmail Plus? Stop!

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Recently I had my subscription to Hotmail Plus auto-renewed and I started to consider what I was actually getting for my money so I visited http://billing.microsoft.com to find out. After some clicking around I stumbled across this:

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Let’s break this down. For £14.99 per year I get:

  • 10GB of storage (as far as I know normal Hotmail is to-all-intents-and-purposes unlimited)
  • No ads (Outlook.com hardly ever shows you ads now anyway and if they do they’re not the horrible banner ad type)
  • Feature tips and product info (Don’t remember ever getting feature tips and besides, I don’t think I’m in great need of them)
  • Larger attachments (I never send attachments anyway if I can help it and if I do Outlook.com’s allowance is both hefty and more than adequate)
  • Exemption from account expiration (I guess that might be useful were I ever to suffer from a near-fatal medical condition although if I did I suspect I’d have bigger worries on my plate than an expiring Hotmail account)

As such, thanks but no thanks. Cancelled. Thankfully the redesigned http://billing.microsoft.com makes that rather easy:

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Are you still using Hotmail Plus? One word for you…Stop!

@Jamiet

Written by Jamiet

October 9, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Use case for a new SkyDrive/DropBox feature

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I was reading Ed Bott’s article “With Windows 8, just what does “no compromises” mean?” when something occurred to me about the various file sharing services that are out there such as SkyDrive and DropBox. Specifically it was this sentence:

“I’m returning from the IFA 2012 tradeshow in Berlin, where I came away with the usual selection of press materials on USB flash drives.”

that caught my attention. It seems to me that handing out USB drives in this day and age is rather antiquated.  Nevertheless if PR folks are handing them out then it must mean there isn’t a better alternative.

Seems to me services like SkyDrive/DropBox could help out here. Rather than hand out USB drives to Ed a PR person (let’s call him Dave) could instead distribute a URL to a folder on SkyDrive/DropBox that contains all of the PR materials. Problem with that is that that it would still live on Dave’s SkyDrive/DropBox, it wouldn’t be part of Ed’s SkyDrive/DropBox. What if there were a button on that folder labelled (e.g.) “Add to my files” which Ed could click and then that folder automatically becomes part of his SkyDrive/DropBox (viewable on the web, synced to Ed’s laptop etc…). Any changes that Dave makes automatically turn up in Ed’s collection; moreover Dave still maintains full control over the folder.

Better still, rather than using a button the URL that Dave distributes could (if Dave desired it) automatically add it to the collection of the person clicking the URL.

Would be useful, no?
Jamiet

Written by Jamiet

September 4, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

A warning about WeAreElectricals.com

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Do not, under any circumstances, ever buy anything from WeAreElectricals.com. Here’s a communique that I have just sent them via their Contact Us page which should explain why:

From above: “Your order was placed on the 2nd of May 2012 (after 3:00pm) using the ‘3-5 Working Days’ delivery option. Your order was due to arrive between the 8th of May 2012 and the 10th of May 2012.”

Given that it is now 11th June I want to cancel this order. Some time last week I sent you an email via the very same mechanism that I am using to send this one now. In that email I requested the order be cancelled – I’ve heard diddly squat from you since then and on visiting this site just now it seems the order has not been cancelled.

I also tried to telephone you just a few minutes ago and was told that no-one is available to take my call.

Let’s review. Failure to fulfill an order over a month after placing it. Failure to respond to a request to cancel that order. Failure to even pick up the phone. I’m stunned that the quality of your customer service could be this bad.

Do me a favour, cancel the goddamn order. Its not hard. Then do the world another favour, shut down your abysmal company.

Regards
Jamie Thomson

Update: Apparently I’m not the only one annoyed by this shower of *****: http://www.reviewcentre.com/reviews260382.html (hat-tip @fatherjack)

Written by Jamiet

June 11, 2012 at 9:06 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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