To ISA or not to ISA?

 With the end of the tax year 2016/17 in sight, lots of people will want to make use of their remaining ISA allowance, which according to GOV.uk (https://www.gov.uk/individual-savings-accounts/overview) is £15,240 per person per year. 

However, many people are unaware that they are able to set up self-invest ISAs for purchasing stocks & shares. With interest rates at such low levels, even the balance sitting in a Cash ISA will attract barely interest, thus encouraging individuals to invest their money in more risky assets. 

While the FTSE 100 dividend yield is currently around 3.79%, the share index is also over 7300 points, which in some people’s opinion may mean that upward breathing space is limited. 

Personally, having a share ISA means that capital increases and dividend payouts are effectively shielded from HMRC (and it’s also easier when doing taxes), and since the ISA allowance refreshes every year, it’s possible to build up quite a substantial income portfolio. 

The provider that I have been using for the last four years is Halifax Share Dealing, which charge a £12.50 yearly admin charge and £12.50 per trade (+stamp duty for UK stocks/funds). International stocks can also be bought and held in the account.

https://www.halifax.co.uk/sharedealing/Default.asp

Dividends from the shares you should can be paid out or re-invested automatically, although when you pay out the dividends they no longer count towards the dividend allowance limit (since April 2016, this has increased significantly, so you’d have to earn quite a lot of dividends to hit it – unless you are a business owner who receives dividends from their company. Update 8th March 17: The new budget seems to have taken note of this and the dividend threshold has been lowered from 5,000 to 2,000 per annum).

 

 

Posted by compusential_wp in Personal Finances, 0 comments

München

Posted by compusential_wp in Photography, 0 comments

BT TV Youview & 3rd party router bug solved (IPC6023)

I recently switched my TV to BT Total Entertainment, but after tuning the Internet Channels I wasn’t able to watch any TV -> The box came up with an error code IPC6023.

After getting an engineer call out, the root cause of the problem was that you have to change some IPTV settings under (LAN->IPTV) in your 3rd party router (mine is an ASUS RT-AC5300) to the following settings:

  1. Enable multicast routing (IGMP Proxy)
  2. Enable efficient multicast forwarding (IGMP Snooping)

Then, after a restart or channel set-up, you should be able to receive all the channels. 

Alternatively, you can diagnose the problem by digging out your BT Homehub 5.

Posted by compusential_wp in Telecommunications, 0 comments
BT Infinity 4 Review – FTTP only – 300 Mbps downstream / 30 Mbps up

BT Infinity 4 Review – FTTP only – 300 Mbps downstream / 30 Mbps up

BT Infinity is BT’s product for fibre Internet services and normally comes in 2 flavors:

  1. Fibre-To-The-Cabinet (FTTC) -> This is where a fibre cable is connected to a nearby box from which a copper cable goes to your flat/house (BT Infinity 1/2, up to 76 Mbps connectivity)
  2. Fibre-To-The-Premise (FTTP) -> This is where a fibre cable is connected directly to a box very close to your home and then a copper cable goes to the fibre modem inside the house (BT Infinity 4 / up to 300 Mbps) 

After finding out whether your home supports which kind of service, the BT ordering system will allow you to choose the maximum supported speed – Most UK homes will currently only support FTTC services, but there is talk that FTTP and G.Fast (I haven’t done much research with this) will be pushed more heavily in the near future. When I ordered my broadband package, BT was generous enough to give vouchers to entice me to join the service. 

At £70.99 per month (correct as of Feb 2017), including line rental and free weekend and evening calls, it is quite a dear service, but for that the advertised speed is 300 Mbps downstream / 30 Mbps upstream and comes with a latest BT Homehub (delivery charge was £7.95 I think). 

When the installation date came, I still had a powerline adapter running from the 1st to 3rd floor, which showed 250 Mbps. Effectively, I was only getting 150 Mbps on Speedtest.net using that set up until I asked BT to connect an Ethernet cable to the top floor (this was a free service and can be booked through their Customer Service line 0800 800150).

Kudos to the Openreach engineer, because he manged to use the wrong type of cable the first time and had to unclip the entire cable before getting a replacement from the depot.

As you can see, the extra cabling really paid off, with theoretical throughput slightly exceeding the advertised bandwidth.

In real life use, the extra speed from the top-end service may be overkill, but for homeworkers, IT professionals, gamers, movie lovers and larger households, there is really not much to compare against.

The politicians in Westminster may say that BT has an obligation to open up this high-end FTTC connections to competitors such as Sky, Talk Talk, etc. very soon, but the matter of fact is that it takes quite a long time before the cost of the cable is recovered and just like in any enterprise, some sort of protection will need to be in place in order to make the fixed cost investment worthwhile. 

For normal people the only thing that matters is the service and after using it for 6 months+, I haven’t had a single complaint with the service and I have also recently signed up to BT TV and BT Mobile to consolidate my existing services (from SKY and EE, the latter which is now owned by BT as well).

Some suggestion to BT would be to further get rid of the need for a fixed line telephone and redirect all calls to mobile phones, especially considering that out of contract calls seem to extremely expensive on BT landline.

 

BT Infinity sign up can be found here (subject to minimum contract and T&Cs): https://www.productsandservices.bt.com/products/infinity-broadband/

 

 

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Leica Minilux Zoom 35-70mm Film camera

Leica Minilux Zoom 35-70mm Film camera

It has come to the time of year to do a bit of spring cleaning, hence the Leica Minilux 35-70mm film camera has to go onto eBay. 

After sitting snuggly in my cupboard for nearly 2 years, it hasn’t seen much use, since I much prefer the feel and vintage qualities of my Leica MP. 

Any people interested, please feel free to visit the listing here (correct as of 9th Feb 2017).

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=201812934122&ssPageName=STRK:MESE:IT#ht_500wt_1157

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Hong Kong

Hong Kong

The first time I visited Hong Kong was with my parents in 1996, just before Britain ceded control of Hong Kong to China. 

Going back 20 years later, looking at the Hong Kong skyline from KowLoon, it doesn’t seem like much has changed. Taking the water bus across from Kowloon to IFC is certainly worthwhile and beats finding the MTR stop (at least in non-peak hours). 

Walking across Central and hitting one restaurant after the other was one of my colleagues great ideas, but mixing the likes of egg tart, Char Siu and fish ball soup in 15 minute intervals makes your stomach feel like a washing machine afterwards.

The best meal of the trip was probably team dinner at one of the fancy dim sum places only a few minutes away from Lan Kwai Fong and the lowpoint was that I realised that a pint beer costs 12 quid in one of the bars (even during happy hours), thank you Brexit!

L1007340

Picture 1 of 6

Posted by compusential_wp in Hong Kong, 0 comments