Safety Razor Costs

I touched on this briefly in my previous post, but I thought I would break it out into more detail. One of the reasons safety razors are gaining in popularity is cost. As Mike Levine from Dollar Shave Club says in his video: “Do you like spending $20 a month on brand name razors? $19 go to Roger Federer.”

Using a cartridge shaving system, even a middle-of-the-road one, probably cost me £20-26 a year, plus £5 if I was to buy the razor. Not exactly a massive amount, but then I probably only bought 8-12 cartridges a year, plus a couple of cans of gel. I managed this, in part, because I used my cartridges well beyond the recommended length.

Those prices are derived from my local supermarket’s website. They don’t have a safety razor listed, but let’s call that £5. They have a 10-pack of Personna blades for £1.89, a shaving brush for £3.20 and a shave stick for 49p. So the blades and soap come in way under the equivalent cartridge costs, even if you add the brush it’s still cheaper. Continue reading

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My Safety Razor Experience

A while back, I wrote about Wet Shave Economics, the costs of wet shaving. I’ve been interested in trying a safety razor for a while, so stuck it on my wishlist for Christmas, and Santa delivered. I haven’t been using my razor very long, but I thought I would throw down my initial impressions and experience.

The Equipment

I was a very lucky boy, and Father Christmas furnished me with:

  • An Edwin Jagger DE89L razor
  • A dish of Mitchell’s Wool Fat Shaving Soap
  • An Edwin Jagger Best Badger brush
  • A pack of Derby Extra blades
  • A pack of Feather blades
  • A brush and razor stand
  • An Osma block of Alum

As I said, I was very lucky.

The Costs

As with everything, you can spend as much or as little as you want. I was lucky to receive some top-quality items, but you could buy everything you need for under £20. Equally, you could spend £100 on a brush alone (or more), £20 (or more) on single shaving soap and that’s before the pre-shave treatments, the post-shave balms and colognes, or any other nice-to-have equipment.

On the other hand, you can pick up something like a Wilkinson Sword Classic for under £5 (with blades), a brush for under £10 and a shaving stick for as little as 49 pence (that’s what my Palmolive Shave Stick cost me in my local supermarket). Continue reading

Wet Shave Economics

I don’t wet shave every day, not because I don’t need to shave every day, but because I alternate with an electric shaver, partly for speed and partly to give my skin a rest.  There’s no denying the wet shave is much better though.

I’m a fan of the Gillette Mach 3 (Turbo or otherwise, not really that bothered). Three blades is plenty to give a close shave and I rarely get any nicks or cuts. I’ve resisted the bombardment of advertising trying to get me to switch to the Fusion, who needs five blades?

As I don’t use it every day, I tend to keep blades for much longer than most guys. Gillette have stated that their ProGlide Fusion blades should last up to five weeks, but real-world experience seems to vary from a week on up. Mine typically go for a few months, though I’ve never actually kept track (and I probably should change them more frequently).

As such you’d think the price of a pack of blades would be less important to me, but I still begrudge paying it. A four-pack of Mach 3 ‘cartridges’ will run you over £6, while a pack of eight comes in at around £11. Blade cartridges can cost the equivalent of several pounds each, yet apparently cost about 10p to manufacture (no wonder Gillette can afford to advertise so much!).

The Subscription Model

To be fair, I could go with Amazon’s subscribe and save, which would give me slightly better pricing. There’s also a rising number of subscription services for razor blades. Continue reading

The Case for Routine Monitoring

It was with some sadness I read the story of Iain Banks’ diagnosis of terminal cancer. I’ve not read any of his books (though I’ve been meaning to), but I have recently seen him in a Google Hangout (along with Alastair Reynolds and Peter F. Hamilton) and in a ‘Five Minutes with…’ interview on the BBC.

In both cases he appeared to be more than just an intelligent and thought-provoking man, but one who was energetic and full of zeal. Which makes the news even more shocking, because he appeared perfectly healthy.

Gall bladder cancer is an extremely rare condition, with fewer than 700 people being diagnosed in the UK each year (1,000 according to the NHS).  It’s more common in women than men and in people over 70.  Iain is 59.

As with many cancers, if caught early enough it may be possible to remove/treat it, but like many other cancers it usually remains undetected until it causes problems, and therefore symptoms, in some other organ. Continue reading

Steal this Idea: Baby Health Monitoring

My nephew is about a year old, but already he’s spent a fair bit of time in hospital.  In the last two cases he was admitted by ambulance in one and through A&E in the other.  In both cases his symptoms seemed fairly routine and, as with most people in the UK, his parents didn’t want to overburden doctors for what was probably a minor illness (i.e. cold), not that they could always get an appointment.

They’re not bad parents, I’m sure the NHS would prefer more like them rather than the over-protective types who take their children in for anything, but it highlights an area where there’s massive potential for private companies and services, an area tech could help play a part in as well.

I’ve sort of hit on this already, but I think parents and child health are a particularly good area for this sort of application, partly because children tend to pick up a lot more illnesses and partly because neurotic parents are likely to want this service.  Plus, it’s much harder to identify problems when your child can’t tell you it hurts, or where.

So, aside from offering tools to allow remote monitoring of temperature, pulse, heartbeat, urine and whatever else, monitored by both automated systems and health professionals (perhaps elevated to them should any levels indicate an issue) to keep an eye on your child 24/7 and preemptively notify parents of any potential issues (temperature would be a  good place to start, sensors could be built into clothing, it should catch infections as well as being able to trigger simple alerts about when your child is too hot or too cold). Continue reading

The Next Tech Boom will be Data

I started writing this post a few days ago and I may actually be behind the curve, just look at the success of Splunk’s IPO in recent days and even the BBC featured a story on data (that actually features Splunk), not to mention Tim Berners-Lee was on about it, but, in the words of Mastermind presenters everywhere: “I’ve started so I’ll finish.”

Obviously, I’m not the first to say it (though I’m not sure 2012 will see any significant change as some have predicted) but a big growth area in tech in the near future will be data.  There’s already plenty of companies working in the sector, but they’re mainly aimed at helping business better understand things like sales data, demand and customer profiling.  What we’re going to see is a growth in personal data collection, analysis and manipulation.

If you’re interested in personal data tracking, you may have heard of Nicholas Felton (I found him through Jason Kottke), who produces a beautiful personal annual report each year (as of 2005 at least).  Felton has even co-authored a site called Daytum to allow you to collect and track everyday data.  I’m a fan of tracking data, that’s why I built some tools into Write Here to allow you to track your progress (here’s my profile page for example), for which I have to credit Buster Benson and his site, 750words.com, as inspiration.

Real deep collection and analysis is already being done by the outliers, the few who are prepared to make the effort to collect this data manually, but it’ll go mainstream once the collection is more automated and when companies offer services that add value to this data.  The FT reported last year about people such as Michael Galpert, an internet entrepreneur who collects data to ‘optimise physical and mental performance.’  There’s a great article over the the NY Times from 2010 and a website dedicated to self quantification. Continue reading

Less Calories in Your Diet Really Does Help Weightloss

It sounds like I’m stating the obvious, but I’ve long been amazed at the dietary market and couldn’t understand why people didn’t grasp it was simple. If you consume less calories than you burn, you lose weight. Simply.

So it’s nice to see a professor did an experiment, even eating junk food, and lost 27 pounds just by consuming fewer calories, not a special diet.

via Lifehacker