Friday, 19 December 2014

The Frenzy!

As the holidays are approaching, I find myself in a frenzy to finish stuff before everything grinds to a halt for the enjoyment of food, friends, and family. Which means that it is absolutely time again to post a festive musical video:

Also? Enjoy a nice cuppa.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Dr Who rant.

A few years ago, I was introduced to the (new) Dr Who series... and I loved it. So, since we live in Germany and have no TV, we bought us some DVDs.

Season after season, we'd wait for the last one to appear on DVD, and as soon as we had it, there were nights when we went to bed far later than we should, because obviously we had to watch just one more episode. It was wonderful, and fun, and lovely.

And then... Russell T. Davies left the show. (That was 2009.) And then David Tennant left the show. (That was 2010.) The episodes with Matt Smith never rang the same with me as the earlier ones had done, and more and more we both lost that compulsion to spend half of the night watching the DVDs when they arrived. In fact, it took us ages to watch the last DVD season, and the highly praised "Day of the Doctor" was, well, sort of okay for me. I enjoyed seeing Rose again, and the other Doctors, but the story itself was more like meh for me.

A little while ago, we finally bought the Christmas special shown in 2013. (Not part of the DVD box, as usual - so we now have most of the specials twice. Gah.) We watched it the day before yesterday, and oh. Oh. (Might be mild spoilers ahead.)

It was easily the worst Dr Who episode that I have ever seen. It was so bad that I was thinking of deliberately trying to fall asleep after the first twenty minutes. It was so bad that I thought about getting up off the couch and doing some mindless computer gaming or read a book instead. It was so bad that I thought after half an hour "oh my goodness, another half hour left still". There was no plot, just weirdly sequenced apparitions of monsters. There was the Doctor betraying his companion (just to save her, of course). There were lots of explosions, plus there was some weird sexual innuendo at some point (wasn't that supposed to be a children's show, too?) and overall it seemed to me as if someone had just taken every monster from the last few seasons, put them into a box, and after shaking said box poured them out.

Ah, and the monsters... there were, once, rules about the monsters. Such as the Weeping Angels, who cannot move when someone looks at them. Including other Weeping Angels. There was that brilliant, brilliant end of the monster confrontation in the episode where the Angels stole the Blue Box.

Those rules got changed. Or nixed. Or now, they get ignored again and again - whatever of these three choices, it makes the angels less believable for me, and less scary, and less interesting. Similar stuff happened with a lot of other things, and other monsters. Again and again.

I'd like to have proper plots again. And monsters that follow the rules once made for them. More content, and fewer explosions to mask the lack thereof. Small but important things taken care of, not the whole universe, or whole planets, or whatever stuck here or there into another dimension because bigger is always better. It isn't. (That's like trying to mask bad quality with more volume. Not a good idea.)

So now we're thinking about whether to go on watching... or whether to stop. Capaldi probably deserves a chance, but if the show is written in the same style as it was these last seasons, I'm not very optimistic about how that Doctor will develop. Maybe we'll be able to borrow the next season from one of our friends instead of buying it - this time, I would prefer to be sure that I will like what I get before supporting the series with another DVD sale. And that, my friends, is sad.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Are you bored yet?

The EU vat rules have occupied me some more yesterday... and I'm very happy that I only have one pdf knitting pattern to sell, and that should be easily solveable by either continuing to sell it via Ravelry or taking it down come January. If that rule is really going to apply to physical goods in the future, though, things will look differently.

For those of you who enjoy graphic depictions of stuff, here's the comic listing the typical options for small businesses selling digital content:

(Comic by Dave Walker)

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

More about the VAT madness.

January 1 is drawing closer, and with it the VAT madness. I've spent a good while yesterday figuring out things and possible solutions. Well.

For those of you knitting, Ravelry is hard at work together with LoveKnitting to get a solution to the VAT problem, so there is hope that if you live in the EU, you will still be able to get pdf knitting patterns when the new year has come. If you want to be on the safe side, though, you might want to get the pattern(s) on your list now.

In case you have no idea yet whether the new regulations will hurt you or not, you might want to read this. It's rather long, but it is an impressive list of things that will be influenced by the EU VAT regs.

The EU VAT action has also planned a twitterstorm for today, starting in about... five minutes. In case you want to join, here's the official information page.

I'll be off to Twitter some...

Monday, 15 December 2014

Links for you.

It's time for links again!

Here's one to an ongoing comparison of fingerloop braids, together with instructions for each band, from Silkewerk.

Variations on yarn-overs, from Ysolda's blog. Just in case you want to tweak the size of your yarn-overs to make them exactly the same size.

If you read German and like things that make noise and stink (also known as ancient fireweapons), the page of the Bummsbrigade Hamborch should be just the thing for you. (If you don't read German, they are working on an English version of the page, according to said page, and you could look at the pictures of their stuff, "Zeug", meanwhile.)

Friday, 12 December 2014

Madness, brought to you by the EU. Please help stop it.

Just in case you have not heard about it yet (and I suppose a lot of you haven't): There will be a new regulation regarding taxes when selling digital services within the EU. Before January 1 2015, whatever you sold was taxed according to the rules your business is based in. After January 1, tax will have to be calculated according to the buyer's country rules, and you will have to pay your tax to them.

The intention behind this new rule? Prevent the big players from sitting somewhere in a low-tax country and shipping out oodles of stuff to everywhere else, making a bigger profit because of the lower tax rates. Which is all very nice - but this rule is, madly, going to apply to everybody. It is supposed to "level the playing field".

Can you imagine what that means for small businesses? Right. It means a lot of hassle, plus a lot of additional time investment, plus paperwork, plus costs. Or breaking the law. "Levelling the playing field", in their case, will mean taking them off the playing field entirely.

I learned about that rule change about two months ago, and I was really, really glad that I had opted for physical copies of the Pirate Robert hat to sell. This morning, though, I filled out a survey about the impact of the new rule, and I learned that the EU plans to include physical goods into this madness from 2016 on. WHAT?

This, Friends, Romans and Countrymen, will truly mean the end of many small businesses. Doing the paperwork for taxes is bad enough when you are handling your own country plus the exceptions that come with the "normal" rules. If I have to register for taxes in every country I ship to? And handle that accounting as well? That might kill my business. Together with many, many other small businesses.

The Internet has made it possible to get things from about everywhere, and the new regulations will cut that back to getting things from the big players only. Please help protest against the new regulations, in hopes that we can get better rules for us small players. There is a EU-wide petition for this - please sign, and pass on the information.

If you are a small-business owner yourself, or know one, here is the survey about the impact. Every survey helps. Every vote in the petition helps. Belief in miracles probably won't hurt either.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Tea time!

I love tea. Especially at this time of year, when it is cold and dreary outside, a nice cuppa makes life so much better, instantly.

I also love to have the tea on a teapot-warmer - for some kinds of tea, especially black tea, this seems to keep the taste nice for a longer time, as opposed to putting the hot tea into a thermos bottle. (At least that's what it feels like for me.)

Teapot-warmers, though, need something to burn within them. Which, usually, means tea lights. Now, these come in handy little packages, each one in their little aluminum shell, and the wax is not the most eco-friendly stuff either. That always scratched on my green conscience.

So from time to time, I'd try different things. Beeswax tea lights. "Eco" tea lights with different wax. They all did not work properly, due to different reasons.

A while ago, though, I discovered an alternative and have now tested it for a bit: oil lights. They are basically a cork swimmer thingie, you insert a short little wick into that, fill something like a small, flat bowl with water, put some vegetable oil on top, place the wicked swimmer on it and light the wick. There you go. Small, lightweight, no aluminum waste, and just a bit of oil that hangs out in the kitchen anyways. Plus, the company that has been making these since 1867 is based here, in my region, and does all the production locally as well.

I would have linked to them here and now, but they do not sell to end-users, and the oil lights seem to be relatively hard to find. Which means... I am actually thinking about getting them into my shop. It has nothing to do with textile production per se, but it is a wonderful product, we all know textile people need hot tea (right?), and it might also be just the thing a few living history folks need. (There were hanging oil lamps in medieval times, which definitely need something to hold a wick. That would be another nice excuse...)