Day: October 5, 2011

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

08:47 – I happened across this article, Best paid jobs: A guide to UK salaries, and was surprised both by how little UK employees earn and how small the spread between best- and worst-paid jobs. The top-paid job, for example, is “Directors and chief executives of major organisations” at £96,202 (about $146,000/year). That’s a small fraction–10% to 1% or less–of what similar jobs pay in the US. Physicians, corporate managers, and senior officials make about £70,000/year, senior police officers (inspectors and above) make about £55,000/year (is an inspector really considered senior?), and a few other jobs pay £50,000 or more. After that, it starts decreasing rapidly. Nurses, at position #149 of the 402 jobs listed, make only about £26,000/year.

Of course, it’s not just how much you earn. Tax rates and other cost-of-living issues determine how much that salary buys. And in that respect the UK suffers greatly in comparison to the US. Tax rates are very high, and everything costs much more than it does in the US. Twenty years ago, one of our friends who’d moved here from the UK had her family over for a visit. I had a chance to talk for some time with her brother-in-law, Gavin. This was his first trip to the US, and he couldn’t believe the prices here.

At the time, the £:$ exchange rate was about $2/£, and he was stunned to find that everything cost the same (or less) in dollars here as it cost in pounds in England. “Everything?”, I asked him. “Everything!”, he replied. “That car that costs $20,000 here would be £20,000 at home. We just paid about $70 for children’s clothing that would have been £70 or £80 in England. Last night, we had dinner with wine at a nice restaurant for $120. That would have been £120 or more in England.” And to make matters worse, he said, his salary in pounds was less than a third of what a comparable job paid here in dollars. Then we started to talk about things like property and income tax rates, housing costs, and so on. It may be no coincidence that soon after Gavin and Eileen returned to the UK he requested and was granted a transfer to one of his company’s facilities in Estonia.

16:17 – The postman just showed up with my Baby Kindle 4. I’ve set up WiFi access, and it’s charging right now. It’s noticeably smaller and lighter than my Kindle 3, and of course lacks a physical keyboard. One thing did surprise me; the color appears to be white or off-white on the Amazon pages, but in real life it’s charcoal gray, much like the Kindle 3. Perhaps identical; I haven’t compared them yet because the K4 is in my office and the K3 is out in the den.

Once it finishes charging I’ll transfer some books to it. Ironically, despite Amazon’s claim that no computer is required, charging is only via USB unless you already have the AC->USB dongle or buy one separately. So, I suppose Amazon is entitled to make that claim, but only if they include a disclaimer “unless you ever want to charge the unit”.

The power switch gave me pause momentarily. Unlike the slide switch on the Kindle 3, this one is a push switch. I was trying to turn on the new Kindle without looking at the switch, and wondered why it refused to slide. I actually prefer the push switch.

The ads are not intrusive, particularly since I seldom keep the Kindle 3 in sleep mode and so never see the screensaver. Presumably the Kindle 4 works the same way–press the switch to put it to sleep; press and hold the switch to turn it off. The only other place the ads appear is at the bottom of the home page, where they occupy only a small fraction of the screen. I’ll probably actually look at the ads periodically. They’ve had stuff like a $20 Amazon coupon for $10 and so on.

The smaller battery is a minor concern. Amazon rates the Baby Kindle 4 at 30 days of battery life, but that assumes only 30 minutes of reading per day, or a total of 15 hours of reading. As always, it’s page turns that take power, and since I read something like six times faster than average, 30 minutes a day of reading for me is probably as many page turns as perhaps three hours of reading by an average reader. So, I’m expecting maybe five or six actual reading hours per charge, which means I’ll be recharging every two or three days on average days and probably once a day on heavier reading days.

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