End User scams

Christmas phishing anyone? especially naive law firm PRs

raise your hands if you fancy a bit of christmas phishing

Got this email the other day. In my wisdom at some time in the past I said yes to being on some central PR database mailing list and now get spammed from all over the place with press releases with very tenuous links to my own areas of interest, which themselves are pretty wide. The email I have to believe is from a subscriber to that list and looks to me like a bit of Christmas phishing.

Who on earth in their right minds is going to click on the logo as suggested. I’m sure it leads to a very humorous landing page intended to show it’s sender, dlapiper, in a good light. All it did for me was to make me think dlapiper  were not that clued up and why should I even think of using their almost certainly extremely expensive legal services.

I took a screenshot to use with this post, labeled the sender as spam (I do this to most emails that address me as “Hi”) and deleted the email. Having done so I am a little curious as to what the message from the president. It might have been funny or it might have been that he was looking for someone to temporarily deposit $100m in their bank account until after he had left office.

I’ve asked to be taken off the central PR database but it’s probably going to be some time before I stop getting spammed like this. I might have to manually start unsubscribing for a bit to see if it has any effect.

First post in a while. Must do better.Going to have some interesting (well to me anyway) news in the new year so don’t go away. Not out of hearshot anyway. Or leave a number where I can get you.



Bad Stuff End User

Yahoo hack a sign of things to come in the UK post snoopers charter

Yahoo hack is a shot across the bows

There have recently been two high profile cybersecurity hacks in the news. The anti drug agency job where the medical records of some top athletes have been made public and now the theft of 500million Yahoo customers’ data.

All I’m really going to say is this comes as no surprise. Just as it will be no surprise when all our web browsing records are stolen and made public one they start collecting the data post Snooper’s Charter.

Been in Belgium for the last 3 days btw. Plenty of armed soldiers patrolling the streets. Difficult times.

Check out loads of other posts on bad stuff here.

PS I didn’t realise Yahoo had so many users. Mind you I have a Yahoo account but only ever looked at it once about ten years ago.

broadband End User

Smaller ISPs are key to the UK’s superfast broadband rollout

The small and humorously named hamlet of Crazies Hill in Berkshire may have a population of only 313, yet it could nonetheless prove to be the key to Government plans to equip 95% of the UK with super-fast broadband by December 2017. Earlier this month, its residents agreed a deal to have fibre-optic broadband cables installed under its roads and homes. However, rather than signing with such big internet service providers (ISPs) as BT or Virgin, they signed with the considerably smaller Gigaclear.

This news may have come as surprise to some observers, if only because BT and Virgin had both previously been tipped to connect the long-suffering Crazies Hill to the world of super-fast broadband. Last November, BT employees attended meetings in the hamlet after local residents had complained of sub-2Mbs internet speeds. Meanwhile, in July of this year, Virgin had committed to bringing fibre-optic broadband to the nearby village of Wargrave, raising hopes that they could easily connect its smaller neighbour.

Yet things, as they say, didn’t turn out as planned. It soon emerged that, if residents wanted either BT or Virgin to supply them with super-fast broadband, they’d have to raise a lump sum of anything from £100,000 to £200,000. This would’ve meant that each household would be liable for a payment of between £660 and £1,320. Added to the fact that these households were told by both providers that the rollout wouldn’t be completed in the hamlet until 2018, this steep cost forced them to look elsewhere.

This was how they came across Gigaclear, who in contrast to their bigger rivals didn’t want a large upfront payment in order to install fibre-optic cables in the area. Instead, they affirmed in July that they could perform the necessary work simply on the condition that at least 40% of local residents signed up to the internet service they’d be able to offer once this work was finished. Given that signing up would involve an activation charge of only £100 and a £95 installation fee (which can be avoided if customers install their routers themselves), this minimum target of 40% was soon hit. As a result, Gigaclear won the contract, promising to have the work completed by May 2016.

This is all significant because, contrary to what might be implied when the likes of BT boast that they’ve delivered high-speed broadband to 25 million premises, it shows that smaller providers are also pivotal to the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project. It shows that, when it comes to connecting the remaining 10% of the UK that hasn’t yet been covered by BDUK, Gigaclear and other smaller ISPs like Call Flow and Cotswolds Broadband will be key.

Without Gigaclear’s involvement, Crazies Hill would still be looking for a provider to connect it, since the bigger ISPs all deemed the hamlet too small and under-populated to be worth the expense. However, unlike these bigger providers, Gigaclear’s business model means they don’t have to exploit particularly large economies of scale in order to be profitable. Since they offered residents an ultrafast broadband connection on the condition that these residents subscribe to their service, they’ll be recouping the costs of installation over time, rather than immediately. This allows them to serve even the smallest and most remote of communities, because these communities don’t have to pay for everything all at once.

This approach will prove highly valuable in plugging the remaining gaps in the UK’s broadband. Indeed, in recent months BDUK has been making slower progress (PDF), as it seeks to expand into more inaccessible rural locations and move from 90% coverage to the target of 95%. It’s here that the project and the Government should bring in the likes of Gigaclear to play a bigger role, since it’s such smaller ISPs who are more able to serve rural areas.

Also, BT has of late been criticised by Ofcom and other parties for its sometimes lacklustre performance in rolling out super- and ultra-fast broadband throughout the UK, which in fact lags behind many other developed nations in its fibre-optic coverage. While Ofcom has attempted to rectify this problem by calling for BT’s Openreach division to be legally separated from BT as a whole, it would also go a long way to helping the situation if Gigaclear and other smaller ISPs like Call Flow and Cotswolds Broadband were given more support by the Government.

With more support and funding, and with more involvement in official projects, the likes of Call Flow and Gigaclear would be better able to afford more of the initial outlays that are then recouped over time via internet subscriptions. They would be able to apply their particular subscription-based models to more rural areas at the same time, and they would therefore go much further in advancing the UK towards its 95% target. What’s more, having just signed a deal in July with CityFibre to use 1,100km of the latter’s fibre-optic network, it really does seem as though Gigaclear are more than ready to assume a greater role in BDUK.

If the Government is serious about meeting this target, then it should seriously consider giving less priority to BT and other big providers, and more to such smaller providers. Not only would it help to reduce the arguable monopoly that BT hold over the UK’s broadband network, but it would also significantly reduce the time which rural communities like Crazies Hill would have to wait before being able to join this network. And that, when all’s said and done, is what Broadband Delivery UK is really all about.

simon chandlerSimon Chandler is the news editor of Choose, a consumer information site covering home media and mobile services including broadband services and digital inclusion topics.

broadband End User

Broadband bandwidth growth driver – BT 4K TV


At last week’s very excellent UKNOF35 meeting in Glasgow BT Chief Network Architect Neil Mcrae gave a talk about the BT 4K TV project. 4k has been creeping up on us for a while now and TVs that notionally support it have been in the shops for at least a couple of years (mortgage application pending).

For me the interesting thing about Neil’s talk was the fact that a 4k stream needs 30Mbps bandwidth.  Not all households will therefore be able to receive the service and this I understand. It’s a competitive world and in a marketplace here BT is trying to up its content game then an early launch of 4k services makes a lot of sense. They have stolen a march.

This issue from the Davies perspective though is the fact that we have four kids. Ok they don’t all live at home now but when they did the one noticeable thing about our house was that we had six people all watching streaming media from different rooms in the house.

Extrapolate this to 6 x 4k streams and all of a sudden we would need 180Mbps downstream. Actually we have 200Mbps but I doubt a high proportion of the populace has the same connectivity.

BT 4k TV is clearly a driver for more bandwidth to the home (actually any 4K TV). I’m also shooting a lot of 4k video with my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and uploading this to Google Drive. On occasion I’m also subsequently downloading it to my Macbook for turning into a produced video/vlog and then uploading it again to YouTube. The file size in this case can be huge – several gigs and so my upload speed is also very important to me.

So where is this taking me? We (a majority of us – not all) have come a long way since the first ADSL rollout. We clearly still have a way to go. My prediction is that by 2020 we should be looking for 1Gbps to the home. Why not? By then 8k will be out (whether we will be able to tell the difference or not – the marketing hype will persuade us that we can). If I still had four kids in the house then I imagine the six streams will use up most of that Gigabit.

The question is who is going to deliver?

More 4k tv stuff on this blog.

PS Excellent UKNOF 35 btw – well done Keith, Denesh, Chris and Mike and the growing number of peeps needed to make it happen.

PPS I’ve looked at various Pay TV services and there ain’t much on I want to watch so I’m not a customer!

End User gadgets

32GB micro sd card for £11 from Tesco

32GB micro sd card from Tesco only £11

Needed some memory expansion on the S7 Edge whilst on holiday in Peel. Mine has 32GB and only 5GB left. These vids take up a lot of space.

Moreover whilst here in the IoM I am backing up to Google Drive but not my NAS box. pics and vids stay on the phone for a month after backing up to the NAS and are then automatically deleted. So whilst here I need some Bytes.

I’m just flabbergasted really at how cheap this stuff has become. I was after a 200GB job but Tesco didn’t have one. The electrical accessories section of the Douglas store is about 3 foot wide. The sd card I bought was actually the only one in the store. Not the only type, the only one. Must have ha a run on them:) I bought it. For eleven quid it will do the job.

I now feel a lot more relaxed. It’s how you should be when on holiday. I’ll be posting pics and vids on Facebook and (where art collides) where you are welcome to check them out.

Now my only issue is my dad’s 50GB broadband data allowance. I’ll smash that. Will have to call Manx Telecom and upgrade to unlimited for the month. May as well wait until it hits the buffers.

Data isn’t something one has to think about these days as I have an unlimited package on my 200Meg down 12 Meg up Virgin media connection. I have broadband only at £43 a month. Who needs a landline these days?

This is one of the things that annoys me about consumer broadband providers with their fantastic offers. They always forget to mention the line rental.

It’s only Anne’s friend Julie who ever calls us on the landline these days (I still have a geo number – it’s just voip based).

That’s all for now. I’m off to take some pics.

End User media

Storage space growth forecast bang on the money

Storage space in line with forecast

Just realised recently that I get 5GB free cloud storage space with Amazon Drive. I also have two Google drive accounts with over a TeraByte of storage space available plus a small amount of storage space on both Microsoft SkyDrive and Dropbox.

I don’t need all these but they have occasionally been useful, specially the Amazon space where I’ve had to resort to the Kindle Fire for my mobile browsing and photography. It’s a slow device with a poor camera but it’s a port in a storm.

It was whilst figuring out how to export the pics from the Kindle that I realised they were all automatically uploading to Amazon Drive. Not sure I set this up but I’m ok with it on this occasion.

I also have a ReadyNAS which is going to need some attention. I can see the folders but not individual files within them. Hmm. I suspect the folder sizes are getting to be too large. Before I lost my phone I’d used 13GB of mobile data – mostly just in the day I went to Wimbledon. It was 36GB in the first two weeks of May with Coast to Coast.

The backed up images are definitely in the NAS – it just needs more processor oomph and memory to properly manage/display them.

Will spend a little time looking around. Also need to upgrade my very old Fast Ethernet switch. Says something when you can get faster wifi than your fixed ethernet connection although that is more reliable. I have some time over the next couple of weeks before I head for the Isle of Man and other exotic locations.

Before I go I thought I’d take a peek back at a storage growth post wot I wrote almost exactly 3 years ago. In it I forecast the amount of storage I would need by year.

accumulated storage space

Amazingly I was right on the money. In July of 2016 I have used a TeraByte of NAS storage. Will have to start thinking about the upgrade soon. I used 100GB of storage for photos in just the April – July period this year. The NAS box can take 4TB drives so it is either a case of swapping the drives out or going for something with a bit more oomph anyway.

End User fun stuff servers

BT speaking clock is 80 years old on Sunday

At the third stroke lets all sing happy birthday

I usually ignore the zillions of press releases I get in my inbox. I made the mistake of once agreeing to go on some PR database and I get lots of crap from people I’ve never heard of.

On this occasion however I am going to republish verbatim the whole press release because I find it of interest. I’ll just add that it would make sense to me to provide an octogenarian voice to the clock for the day. Something along the lines of “hello dearie, at the third stroke it will be time for my weak tea and a biscuit”. All spoken in a shaky voice.

No offence intended to the many fit and healthy octogenarians still in possession of all their teeth and faculties.

Whilst feeling nostalgic and warm towards the speaking clock I must say it is probably thirty years since I rang them. Who needs it with the time on your phone and pc being right on the beep.

Anyway here’s the press release – happy birthday to the speaking clock.


Speaking Clock celebrates its 80th birthday on July 24, 2016

Audio and images can be found here

Britain’s famous Speaking Clock celebrates its 80th birthday on July 24, 2016. Now a national institution and part of Britain’s heritage, the Speaking Clock was the first of the pre-recorded information services in the UK, provided through telephones.

Created for people who wanted to know the time and did not have a watch or clock to hand, the clock was initially only available in the London directory area, with the first British Speaking Clock introduced on July 24, 1936.

The Speaking Clock was designed and constructed at the Post Office Engineering Research Station at Dollis Hill in North London. The time announcements were automatically co-ordinated on the hour with Greenwich meantime signals.

In order to access the service, subscribers would dial the first three letters of the word ‘time’ as dials at the time included letters as well as numbers to aid automatic calls. Dialling T. I. M. led to its common name ‘TIM’. The service went national six years later.

David Hay, head of BT Heritage, said: “The BT Speaking Clock is a national treasure. Even though we live in the digital age, more than 12 million calls are made each year to the BT Speaking Clock to get an accurate time check.

“Eighty years ago BT’s technology created the Speaking Clock which remains a much loved part of British life today. The Speaking Clock has reached octogenarian status and celebrating its birthday demonstrates BT’s determination to preserve the heritage of the world’s oldest communications company.”

Jane Cain was the first voice, winner of a Post Office ‘Golden Voice’ competition, and used from 1936 until 1963. Pat Simmons, a London telephone exchange supervisor, became the second voice from 1963 until 1985. The third voice belonged to Brian Cobby who became the first male voice at 11am on April 2, 1985. An actor by profession before he joined BT as an assistant supervisor at a Brighton exchange, Brian was selected from 12 finalists in BT’s competition on December 5, 1984. Users who were around in the 1960s who listen hard enough might detect a familiarity – Brian was also the voice of “5-4-3-2-1 Thunderbirds are go!” in the famous Gerry Anderson TV series.

The fourth and current voice is Sara Mendes da Costa from Brighton & Hove. She became Speaking Clock voice at 8am on April 2, 2007. Sara won a BT competition during 2006 to find a new voice from the public, which had almost 18,500 entrants, simultaneously raising more than £200,000 for BBC Children in Need.

Sara Mendes da Costa, said: “I am very proud to be the fourth permanent voice for the Speaking Clock and have been since April 2, 2007, nearly ten years ago.”

Originally the accuracy of the BT Speaking Clock was one-tenth of a second, but it is now accurate to within 30 microseconds.


Permanent voices


First voice             Jane Cain                                1936 – 1963

Second voice        Pat Simmons                          1963 – 1985

Third voice                        Brian Cobby                            1985 – 2007

Fourth voice          Sara Mendes da Costa           2007 – to present


Quick facts


  • The BT Speaking Clock has been ticking 24-hours a day, seven days a week since 24 July 1936 – which is 80 years, more than 29,000 days, more than 700,000 hours or more than 42 million minutes, more than 2.5 billion seconds
  • Big Ben checks its time with the Speaking Clock
  • The Speaking Clock is accurate to within 30 microseconds
  • In its first year the service registered nearly 13 million calls
  • Initially only available in the London area and went nationwide in 1942
  • The Speaking Clock is also known as TIM and Timeline


Temporary voices


There have been a number of temporary Speaking Clock voices, recorded for charity:

Lenny Henry: March 10 to March 23, 2003 (Sport Relief)

Alicia Roland (12-year-old schoolgirl): October 13 to October 23, 2003 (Childline)

Mae Whitman: October 26, 2008 until February 9, 2009 (to promote Disney’s Tinker Bell)

Kimberley Walsh, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Gary Barlow, Chris Moyles and Fearne Cotton: February 3 to March 23, 2009 (Sport Relief)

David Walliams, Gary Barlow, Chris Moyles, Kimberley Walsh and Fearne Cotton: March 7 to April 9, 2012 (Sport Relief)

Clare Balding: February 12 to March 15, 2013 (Comic Relief)

Davina McCall: January 27 to March 23 2014 (Sport Relief)

Sir Ian McKellen: February 24 to March 13, 2015 (Comic Relief)

Jo Brand: January 20 to March 20, 2016 (Sport Relief)

End User Legal

Stay or Leave – the results of the poll

EU Referendum Poll result

At last tomorrow is the big day and I thought I’d share my own EU referendum poll result.

Stay in the EU 170 51.8 %
Leave the EU 158 48.2 %

It’s very close. Quite gratifying in one respect as this would appear to match many bigger and no doubt more expensive polls to run.

328 votes is quite a nice level of participation. There were a few duplicate IP addresses – they have been weeded out but by and large there were as many in each camp and I think they don’t represent attempts to skew the result. People probably expected to see the results of their vote and this plugin doesn’t seem to support that. At least the way I had it set up

It matters not. I’m hoping that the real poll tomorrow will be a far more definite result – to stay in the EU. It will be a lot easier to put the subject to bed if this is the case. A close result would do as long as it was the right one although I sense there will be trouble if it is close. There will probably be trouble whatever happens.

I’m not sure I’ve seen anything bring out the bad side of people in this country as much as this referendum. The leave campaign has been run with very misleading messaging that I have found extremely objectionable. I don’t trust the politicians involved.

The remain campaign, which we must remember is supported by a large majority of MPs and most global businesses, institutions and political figures, has been forced into playing the same game.

In the meantime tomorrow I’ll be heading for my usual morning swim before going around the corner to vote. I’m then in London for the ITSPA council meeting so if you are around maybe catch a beer? Friday is going to be an interesting day…

PS you will still be able to vote in this poll but I’m going to consider this post as drawing a line underneath it. Remain wins.

Follow the referendum here on the BBC.

End User security surveillance & privacy

I break my silence on the Snooper’s Charter

my latest observations on the snooper’s charter

I have in the past been very vocal when it comes to the snooper’s charter. Especially when I was more active in the ISP industry. Having throttled back a bit I let others, the professionals, have their say and stuck to my own counsel.

Just received a summary of the comments from MPs in respect of the latest incarnation of the Bill from the ITSPA Secretariat. I’ve pasted it below with a few of my own observations.

Internet Connection Records

  • Burnham said that whilst the Government’s position in the draft code of practice makes it clear that URLs are not communications data and therefore, by definition, cannot be included in ICRs, it would be more useful to have a single, clear definition of ICRs in one place in the Bill.
  • Burnham stated that communications data should not be capable of being accessed to investigate any crime, regardless of how serious the offence is and the impact on victims.
  • Member of the Public Bill Committee, Gavin Newlands MP, said that the measures in the Bill are not limited to internet access, email or telephony and include, explicitly, communication without human intervention. He added that the industry has indicated a willingness to work with the Government to help implement ICRs, but the trouble is that the industry does not know what ICRs are, and it seems Government still do not know either. He said that these powers were intrusive and needed to be properly defined.
  • Member of three Committees which scrutinised the Bill, Matt Warman MP, said that people needed to be reminded that it was CSPs and not govt who would hold ICRs and govt would not be dipping into this information for any other purpose than to stop serious crime.
  • Alistair Carmichael MP said that it was unacceptable at this stage of proceedings that there is still no proper clear definition of ICRs.


Tref writes: Government has no idea what it is talking about in respect of ICRs and is probably keeping things deliberately vague so that they can apply the “definition” to anything that suits them.

Matt Warman is also missing the point. It doesn’t matter who keeps the data – it will be hacked into and leaked. Also we hear all sorts of stories about RIPA requests from councils wanting evidence on relatively trivial “crimes”. The concern is that once the data was available all sorts of people would come out of the woodwork wanting to look at it.


  • Member of the Public Bill and Joint Committee, Suella Fernandes MP, said that the UK wants world-class encryption and privacy, but also wants world-class security and citizens should trust the skill and restraint of the analysts, the cryptographers, the mathematicians and the codebreakers who safeguard security and have maintained confidence and discretion in relation to the secrets they have seen.
  • Stephen Hammond MP said that encryption was hugely important to the digital economy and said it should not be undermined, however, he said he had faith in the security services that they would use restraint.


Tref writes: they are totally missing the point here. If encryption methods are designed to be hackable by government codebreakers then criminals and hostile foreign powers can do the same. You can’t have “world-class” encryption if it can be hacked.

Cost Recovery

  • Newlands highlighted that owing to uncertainty about the extent and definition of ICRs and the extension of CSPs that will be affected by the proposed provision, the cost is difficult to estimate, but industry figures have said that they expect it to be anywhere between £1 billion and £3 billion. He said that it was not good enough that govt had not produced robust figures which could be examined whilst the Bill was being scrutinised.


Tref writes: they have no idea what the implementation of the Bill is likely to cost and are keeping quiet about it because the eventual figure is likely to be unpalatable.

End User media

1080p versus 4k video

How much space have you got – 1080p versus 4k video?

Simple post really. Kid 3 is home briefly from uni as he has a gig on Sunday. At the same time I took delivery this morning of my new Weber rotisserie. There is no correlation between these two facts.

The link is that as regular Facebook pals know I have a habit of sticking videos online of me talking about everyday things. Today I took a video of the new rotisserie in action. The main difference is that in stead of me being in shot I used my higher quality forward facing camera. This uses 4k video format.

Kid 3, or Joe as he is more commonly known, sat with me and gave me a lesson in iMovie production, fair play. Having played around with the footage, added intro and credits I proceeded to the rendering stage. iMovie gave me options. I initially chose 4k but was quite surprised to see that this would consume 6.5GB of storage for 1min 24 seconds of video. Wow.

1080p was expected to be around 1.6GB. Still hefty but more manageable. I rendered it using 1080p, ended up with 1.4GB of movie and uploaded to Facebook. Now doing the same to YouTube. It’s going to be interesting to see how Virgin Media react to this because I’m fairly sure I’ll be breaking their “fair usage” policy even though I am on their top package.

It doesn’t seem that uploading two lots of 1.4GB is anything out of the ordinary today though does it?

Just checked. The 1 hour threshold for uploading (at which point they throttle you) is 2.25GB but it doesn’t start until 4pm so I might be ok:). They only throttle you by 50% though which seems a bit daft. I’m still going to upload the same amount of data. It will just take twice as long. I accept that it is reducing peak usage but hey…

Its a 15 minute upload but tbh that is pretty acceptable for a 1.4GB file. The limitation might even be the server limiting hte upload – can’t be bothered to work it out. Ok I will

1.4GB is 11,200,000,000 bits ish. I’m uploading at 12Mbps or 12,000,000 bps (lets assume no packet overhead) so it should take 933 seconds or 15 .55 mins – hey bang on.

Movie below – volume is a bit low – I’m a novice.

couple of pics here

rotisserie4k rotisserie1080

Bad Stuff End User scams

Facebook notifications with phishing links

Don’t do it! – Facebook notification phishing.

Facebook notification phishing whereby someone shares a post on your page and provides a phishing link within the text is new to me. Our Anne’s Vans website Facebook Page just received such a notification using a link to a phishing site. My wife spotted the notification and asked what she should do. The notification said that unless she verified the page it would be shut down.

I took a look and it is clearly a phishing site. The interesting thing is that whilst I reported the page there doesn’t appear to be a means of deleting the notification – I don’t particularly want the link hanging around. Even reporting the page only lets me block it. In fact it was a post within the page that let me do this rather than the page itself.

I don’t particularly want to hang around the page to play with it any more so I’ve moved on, other than to pen this swift blog post on the subject.

I guess the issue is that this going to catch some people out. Anne wasn’t sure what to do so she asked me. Some will just take the notification as read and fill in the facebook login details that were being requested.

Facebook notification phishing is new to me and is a slightly disappointing attempt at a scam. The previous ones I’ve seen have involved friend requests from scantily clad females which I have,with a heavy heart, reluctantly had to block 🙂

It would be interesting to hear if others have seen such phishing attempts.

It remains to be seen  whether Facebook takes down the page. I will let you know, obvs. In the meantime I’m getting ready to go off camping in Derbyshire for the weekend. The forecast is rain, sleet and temperatures approaching zero!

facebook notification phishing

confirm your page

Loads of posts on scam subjects.

4g broadband charitable Coast to Coast End User

Coast to coast walk broadband coverage

Coast to Coast broadband

Thought it would be interesting to see what the Coast to Coast broadband coverage was likely to be during our walk in May. It will be most inconvenient is I cant upload stuff at the end of each day. I’m assuming that the daytime coverage in the mountains will be largely on existent which is a bit of a shame as otherwise I’d be able to store my pics and videos as I go along.

I used the BT postcode checker, EE’s own website for mobile coverage  and the Ofcom coverage page. The results are below.

The places with very little or no bandwidth are small villages. The larger the place the more likely they are to have service. Obvs.

If I left out the place names and postcodes you could guess which stopping points were in National Parks and which weren’t. Clearly the inhabitants of these places have compensations to offset their poor internet access (innit @Cyberdoyle? 🙂 )

What I thought most amusing was that at our ultimate destination, Robin Hood’s Bay, the only network that apparently has 4G coverage is Vodafone and that is out at sea – see featured image. So if the tide is out people with Vodafone sims get good connectivity. Hopefully they have waterproof phones.

Day Place BT checker EE coverage Ofcom 4G checker
Saturday St Bees CA27 0DE 68Mbps 4G EE
Sunday Ennerdale Bridge CA23 3AR 1Mbps none EE nearby
Monday Seatoller CA12 5XQ 1Mbps none none
Tuesday Patterdale CA11 0PJ 80Mbps none none
Wednesday Shap CA10 3LX 33Mbps 4G EE good O2/Voda fair
Thursday Kirkby Stephen CA17 4QQ 78Mbs 4G EE
Friday Keld DL11 6LL 2Mbps none none
Saturday Reeth DL11 6SN 73Mbps 2G no data none
Sunday Richmond DL10 7AG 75Mbps 4G all good
Monday Ingleby Cross DL6 3LN 73Mbps 3G O2/Voda good EE sketchy
Tuesday Chop Gate (Clay Bank Top) TS9 7JF 10Mbps none none – all sketchy nearby
Wednesday Glaisedale YO21 2QL 10Mbps 3G Voda limited
Thursday Robin Hood’s Bay YO22 4RJ 46Mbps 3G Voda out at sea only!

Would have been better had I been able to represent this data graphically but I can’t so never mind.

Don’t forget I’m raising cash for Cancer Research UK whilst on this Coast to Coast walk JustGiving page here. The start date of the walk coincides with the anniversary of my mother’s death on May 1st last year. Mam was Chairman of the Marown & District branch of the IoM Anti Cancer Association.

Coast to Coast End User phones

samsung Galaxy S7 Edge rain test

Testing the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge waterproofness

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is officially far more waterproof than the Oneplus 2. It’s handily chucking it down in Lincoln so I went outside in the rain to test the S7 Edge.

Most of the video is pointing at me and to the sky – just so the screen could get  as much exposure as possible to the wet. I am happy to tell you that the phone is still working fine and the video has already been automatically backed up to Google Drive.

In fairness to the Oneplus 2 the video I took shortly before the screen died on me also backed up immediately over 4G but it wasn’t much use for anything else. Almost as if the phone’s sole purpose in life was to take that one short video, back it up, and die.

I did manage to wipe the phone remotely and do a factory reset and now I have the bumpf off the bank’s insurance people to sent it away for repair. It will be a handy backup phone although only for when the sun is shining or when I am indoors.

Not being remotely waterproof is not much use in a phone in the UK. I imagine it was designed for Californians.

I am thinking of testing my GoPro underwater. Not sure where I’d use it submerged but it sounds like something useful. The beauty of the GoPro is that I can test it without risking damaging the camera because the waterproofness is provided by the case. The camera itself isn’t waterproof. I would just have to test the empty case.

Btw I keep finding apps that I had on the old phone but haven’t installed on the new. Instagram was it yesterday. Not thats I really use Instagram much. I am becoming a creature of habit.

Fetured image btw is the Day 2 route – Ennerdale Bridge to Seatoller. Elevation map below with OS map of the difficult bit.


Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 13.09.23

charitable End User events phones

Galaxy S7 Edge update – charging in the car whilst using GPS

Galaxy S7 Edge battery better than Oneplus2 for in car charging

Thought it might interest you to know that my new Galaxy S7 Edge battery is much better than the Oneplus 2 for keeping its charge when on the go in the car.

I use Waze when driving along often even when the route is familiar to me. This is because Waze is very good at alerting you to problems up ahead. When I used my “old” Oneplus 2 one of the features I noticed was that the battery would never fully charge when driving along. In fact it seemed to settle at roughly the half charge mark. The phone would have been using GPS and cellular data.

I thought this was a bit odd but didn’t really pay much attention to it. However having used the Galaxy S7 Edge for a couple of long journeys now the difference is really noticeable. The S7 actually fully charges whilst doing the same job as the Oneplus 2.

The kids have also been bringing me reports on waterproof tests having been conducted on others’ S7s. I don’t propose to test mine. I’d rather not tempt fate. I will be using it when hill walking in Derbyshire next weekend so it will get a full stress test in advance of doing the Coast to Coast which is less than three weeks away now (yippee or gulp – one of those two reactions).

Remember the phone needs to run Runkeeper and be fully available for photography although I will have the GoPro as a backup. It will also be running the OS Maps application – I am now a paid up subscriber and will not only have the routes planned out in advance for all 12 days but will also be able to check with GPS for deviations from the route.

I will be taking additional external batteries with me – there is no way the phone will last otherwise with all the photos and vids I expect to take and hopefully upload whilst en route.

Readers wanting to know more about about my walk can check out the coast to coast event page, the Facebook page or the JustGiving Page.

Featured image is of the first day’s route – St Bees to Ennerdale Bridge.


End User webrtc

Hacking WebRTC for Social Benefit

Social Enterprise WebRTC

A few weeks ago, I came across a social enterprise called Founders and Coders. They provide free Javascript development courses in East London via peer learning, mentoring and exposure to projects brought to them by other social enterprises and corporate clients. It’s an innovative response to the skills gap that most of us in the industry are acutely aware of.

I had a chat with the current cohort on the kind of the capabilities that can be introduced into applications using WebRTC. They were fascinated and we quickly hatched a plan for us to run a training workshop with them and following on from that, a development project where we invite third sector organisations to present ideas that Founders and Coders can take forwards into proof of concept hacks.

Yesterday was the first day of the workshop, and we were able to quickly get them up to speed with how WebRTC works and how they can use the IPCortex API to make phone calls and initiate video chat.

We are finishing the workshop today and start work on a project with a really interesting real world social use case first thing tomorrow morning. There is lots to do, but the intention is to take the idea to TADHack London which is conveniently happening over this weekend to work on it a bit further.

We’ve already selected the project from a health charity that we will develop, and I’ll talk a bit more about the it as it starts to unfold, but it is ambitious! None of the FAC students participating will have been exposed to implementing real time communications before the workshop which started yesterday, and by the end of the week they will have hopefully developed a real application from scratch. I don’t think we have ever done anything like this on this kind of timescale before but it is going to be great fun. We just might also generate something that has a lasting impact using communication for social good.

Rob Pickering is CEO of communications company IPCortex and is a good friend of this blog.

Loads of other WebRTC posts here.

End User Mobile phones

New toy – juice power pad

Juice power pad for Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Bought a new toy yesterday. It’s a juice power pad. I was in the EE shop for a second day in a row having previously been in to buy the new phone – Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge which so far is a hit btw.

The reason for the second visit was kids phones. I say kids. The two in question are 18 and 16 but even their older siblings will always be kids to us. The two aforementioned offspring (feels as if I am in a game of just a minute here – no repetitions although probably lots of deviations) had previously been with Tesco Mobile. They were on a bundle that included 750MB of mobile data for a tenner and a safety allowance of £2.50 that got them a bit more data.

EE were offering 16GB of data for £16.49 and unlimited calls and texts. The latter is a bit of a red herring. Hardly anyone uses calls and texts these days and the 300 minutes on the previous Tesco plan was never reached. The data however was always used up.

We gave Tesco the opportunity to match EE but their best offer was 4GB for fifteen quid, or simlar. As an MVNO Tesco are ever going to be able to match the mobile operators. Their offerings are geared to unsophisticated shoppers calling at their stores.

The downside of all this is having to queue up in the EE store in Lincoln. There is always a massive queue in store. We got there in the end after 40 minutes. My parking slot was only an hour so had to skip picking up train tickets from the station.

Chatting to the sales advisor I mentioned that the data bundle was the be all and end all nowadays. He said that EE had got aggressive because BT had put together some focus groups and the result was that, yes, people only cared about data.

So now three of us have EE accounts (my bundle is 20GB for £20) and my wife Anne is starting to make noises. Whilst in the shop I bought the Juice Power Pad. It’s very handy although doesn’t charge as quickly as the USB charger and began to make annoying beeps when it got over 80%. Will see how I get on with it.

One last word re the mobile phone contracts. What they don’t tell you if you don’t ask is that the proves double after 12 months so I will have to watch it in order to renegotiate in a year’s time. These consumer service providers are all shysters. Their marketing people should be shot.

Coast to Coast End User phones

Galaxy S7 Edge First Impressions

Galaxy S7 Edge waterproof phone

I need a waterproof phone for the Coast to Coast sponsored walk. The new Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is a bit of a result. It feels great in the hand and the camera would appear to be top notch. I did um and ah a bit before buying it as it comes with a hefty price tag – £630 from EE including a PAYG starter SIM which I don’t need but that was the deal.

My previous two phones have been the Oneplus1 and Oneplus2. As value for money they have been great and both are still usable. Once I’ve had the Oneplus2 screen repaired that is – it’s biggest weakness appears to be it’s poor resistance to a bit of rain.

The Oneplus2 was also not the most reliable phone – kept locking up when using Runkeeper I needed it for taking photos. This is whilst I’ve been out on my Coast to Coast training walks. I’m hoping that in the Galaxy S7 Edge I have a phone that will do the job for me on the actual coast to Coast walk.

The Oneplus 2 is billed as a flagship killer. It isn’t. It is almost there but misses a few finesses. One has to remember it is less than half the price of the S7 Edge. Not being waterproof was a killer for me. Once repaired I’m going to use it as a backup and a second phone when travelling – the two SIM trays was very useful. I’d use my EE SIM for calls and texts and a local in country SIM for data. Roaming data charges are total ripoffs.

I suspect the battery capacity of the Edge is only just going to be ok. It is now 10am and the battery is at 65% charge. I charged it up yesterday evening and it lost maybe 10% just sat there overnight. This, I assume is down to the lock screen data which I guess I could disable. I’ll leave it as is for now. It isn’t a problem at the moment.

The fingerprint recognition works really well on the Samsung. It feels as if it is an improvement on the Oneplus.

I did look at the iPhone but tbh that was too big a jump for me. I am now the possessor of a high end Macbook Pro. Most of my pals in the networking industry use such a device. I now consider that I have the right laptop and phone. The chromebook can stay as a backup and will also probably be the laptop i take with me on the Coast to Coast – I don’t want to risk the Macbook Pro being nicked in transit between B&Bs. It does mean my video editing capabilities will be constrained for coast to coast blogging purposes but I can stick to one take videos which is what I do now.

One of the things that has amused me is the presence of Microsoft Office apps on the Edge. I abandoned Microsoft years ago now and won’t go back. The icons have been moved to a safe place. Ditto the Samsung Apps.

Don’t forget that in May I am doing the Wainwright Cast to Coast Sponsored walk in aid of Cancer research UK. This is in memory of my Mam Eileen who died one ear ago to the day of the start day of y Coast to Coast walk. She was an active fundraiser and Chairman of the Marown and District Branch of the IoM Anti Cancer Association. I am being accompanied on the walk by my son Tom and two friends Mark and Luke Agius. If you want to support the cause the please go to the JustGiving page. 

PS re the waterproof phone bit – I’m not going to test it – don’t want to push my luck 🙂

charitable Coast to Coast End User Weekend

Coast to coast Sponsored Walk provisional schedule

coast to coast sponsored walk provisional schedule

The Wainwright coast to coast sponsored walk provisional schedule is provided below. This is the route as prescribed by Alfred Wainwright.

Saturday 30th April Travel to St Bees
Sunday 1st May Walk St Bees to Ennerdale Bridge 14 miles (22.5 km)
Monday 2nd May Walk Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite 14.5 miles (23 km)
Tuesday 3rd May Walk Rosthwaite to Patterdale 17.5 miles (28 km)
Wednesday 4th May Walk Patterdale to Shap 16 miles (25.5 km)
Thursday 5th May Walk Shap to Kirkby Stephen 20 miles (32 km)
Friday 6th May Walk Kirkby Stephen to Keld 13 miles (21 km)
Saturday 7th May Walk Keld to Reeth 11 miles (17.5 km)
Sunday 8th May Walk Reeth to Richmond 11 miles (17.5 km)
Monday 9th May Walk Richmond to Ingleby Cross 23 miles (37 km)
Tuesday 10th May Walk Ingleby Cross to Clay Bank Top 12.5 miles (20 km)
Wednesday 11th May Walk Clay Bank Top to Glaisdale 18.5 miles (29.5 km)
Thursday 12th May Walk Glaisdale to Robin Hood’s Bay 19 miles (30.5 km)
Friday 13th May Depart from Robin Hood’s Bay after breakfast

We won’t have the exact details of the overnight stops until I’ve paid the final cash for the trip to the travel agent, Contours Walking Holidays (whose image we are using in this post). We are staying at B&Bs each night and our bags are being transported from location to location. There is no way I would manage carrying two weeks worth of kit.

Our friend Adie Smith’s son Tom did this and also camped every night. He completed the walk in 7 days or so and after the first day had to do it in flip flops because his feet blistered badly in his boots! I am not in that league.

When I get the final details of the B&Bs I will let you all know. Quite a number of people have already expressed an interest in joining us for part of the journey.

As a reminder my son Tom and I are doing this in memory of my Mam Eileen who died one year to the day we start the walk – May 1st. Mam did not die of cancer but was Chairman of the Marown and District branch of the IoM Anti Cancer Association. My father in law Keith died of the disease in 2014.

If you want more detail on the walk itself there is a wikipedia entry. I will also be keeping the coast to coast sponsored walk event page updated as things happen.

Our JustGiving page is here.

charitable Coast to Coast End User Weekend

Preparation for the coast to coast sponsored walk

coast to coast walk preparation – no pain no gain – my feet hurt 🙂

You may have read yesterday about my intention to do the Wainwright Coast to coast Sponsored to raise cash for Cancer Research UK. I am doing this in memory of my mother Eileen who died on may the 1st 2015, exactly one year from the date we start the walk. Mam had been Chairman of the Marown and District Branch of the IoM Anti Cancer Association. My father in law Keith succumbed to cancer in 2014. This post is the first that discusses my coast to coast walk preparation.

The Wainwright Coast to Coast walk is rated as the second best walk world (I read somewhere) and is 190 miles from St Bees in Cumbria on the West Coast to Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire on the East. The walk takes in the Lake District, The Yorkshire Dales and the North Yorks Moors. It is a pretty gruelling 12 days of walking and there is no way I would have been able to take it on in January when we decided to go for it with friend Ajax (Mark Agius) and his son Luke.

May 1st however seemed to be suitably long way away giving me plenty of time to prepare. You have to remember that my idea of exercise was to walk to the pub half a mile away and I may even have cadged a lift back off my wife.

I took it as a challenge to get fit enough to complete the walk. It seemed to me that not only would I be fit if I managed to survive 12 days non stop walking 9am until 5ish on most days but I had to be reasonably fit before even setting off.

I bought a pair of walking boots.

My feet are wide and odd sizes (right foot is an 8 and left foot is a 9). Finding a suitable pair of boots I thought would be a challenge. I tried a load on in a couple of shops but always felt that they were either too big for one foot or too small for the other.

In the end I drove to Richmond in Yorkshire to the Alt Berg factory shop where they were happy to pair you up with odd sizes. However they didn’t make their boots wide enough for my feet (!!!) so I ended up buying a pair of Meindl boots off the shelf.

I’ve spent the last few weeks going on occasional walks using the Meindl boots. My feet are still sore after every walk but I am hoping this will gradually diminish the more I walk. Thirty years of sitting with my feet up on a desk will take more than a few walks to sort out.

In the last two or three weeks I have completed 6 walks of between 9 and 10 miles. I now need to start stepping up the pace and increasing the distance. The longest day on the coast to coast is 23 miles so 10 miles doesn’t even get me half way.

At Easter the family are off to Llanberis for some walking in Snowdonia. I figure if I can put some hills in that will help me when it comes to the Lake District where some of the days involve more than one ascent. If I can climb Snowdon then i can take on anything the Lake District can throw at me.

Two out of the following three weekends I will be walking in the peak district (Andy and Suddy and then with the Scouts) and then that leaves me with two more weeks until the beginning of May. Not far off really!

Featured image is the route of today’s walk. Check out my coast to coast walk event page. Details of today’s coast to coast walk preparation are on my personal blog

charitable Coast to Coast End User travel Weekend

Wainwright 190 mile Coast to Coast sponsored walk in aid of Cancer Research UK

Coast to coast sponsored walk

On May 1st 2016 my son Tom and I will be setting off from St Bees in Cumbria on the West Coast of England to walk to Robin Hood’s Bay on the East Coast. This is a 190 mile coast to coast sponsored walk.

coast to coast sponsored walk cancer research logoWe are doing it to raise funds for Cancer Research UK. There are two main reasons why this is important to us.

  1. May 1st is the first anniversary of the death of my mother, Eileen. Mam did not die of cancer but she had been Chairman of the Marown and District branch of the Isle of Man Anti-Cancer Association (where I grew up). Raising funds to help beat cancer was important to Mam. She was a nurse and had spent years helping and comforting patients at the end of their lives.
  2. My wife Anne’s father Keith died of Cancer two years ago.


So this walk is in memory of these two important people. I am expecting some side benefits. Walking for 190 miles across the lake district, Yorkshire Dales and the North Yorks Moors is going to be somewhat of a challenge for someone who has spent the last thirty years with his feet propped up on a desk. I have had to get into training just to be able to even get to the start. I’m hoping there will be less of me at the end than there was at the beginning of the odyssey.

The other benefit will be spending two weeks in the company of my first born effectively away from electronic screens. At this point I hear some of you fall off your chairs in disbelief. How can this be so? 🙂

Well the trip is not going to be entirely offline, other than the fact that there will be little or no mobile reception along much of the route. I am expecting to post updates from our B&B(/pub) every night and will be publishing a live tracker of our progress en route. Expect vids and pics.

Tom and I would also like to think that the walk will raise some serious cash for the cause. Most people have been touched by cancer in one way or another. In 2016 we are seeing signs that there is light at the end of the tunnel but we aren’t there yet.

If you would like to help please consider making a donation, no matter how small, to our JustGiving Page. Our chosen charity is Cancer Research UK.

Also if you want to come along on all or part of this walk then you are very welcome to do so and should get in touch.  Our friend Mark Agius and his son Luke are coming the whole way. We set off at 9am on Sunday 1st May and arrive at our destination at tea time on Thursday 12th.

Stay tuned to this blog for more info as it happens and in particular the coast to coast sponsored walk event page.

Featured image courtesy of Contours Walking Holidays.

4g End User

20GB Mobile Bundle Saga

to PAC or not to PAC – the 20GB Mobile Bundle

I found a new 20GB mobile bundle. My mobile deal with EE is out of contract. I took a look expecting to be able to get a much better deal than one year ago. Pricing didn’t seem radically different to a year ago. I was paying £18.50 for unlimited calls and texts and 2GB of data. Any offers seemed to only last for the first three months. So I looked around.

Vodafone had a deal for 20GB at £20 in the first year, reverting to £40 thereafter. With Voday you could also use your bundle in Europe for £3 a day. It’s the data I’m after. EE offer £2.50 for calls and texts in Europe but they make their money on the roaming data, assuming you use it. I don’t.

I trooped downtown into the Vodafone shop and signed up. The deal also gave me Sky Sports Mobile. Sorted.

Last night, from the comfort of the settee I called EE to ask for a PAC code. The EE guy matched Vodafone’s pricing and threw in free calls and texts within the EU. I said I needed some time to think about it and when I finished the call revisited the Vodafone package.

The deal breaker was the Sky Sports. I downloaded the app and set the account up. Blow me down it didn’t work. I tried it  number of times and eventually called Voda to sort it out. To cut a long story short the Sky Sports app doesn’t appear to be supported on my Oneplus 2. How does that work?

The upshot is that I called EE back, accepted their offer and today will be cancelling the new Vodafone contract. Hey…

I’ll have to make sure I look at my contract options in 11 months time but that is a mere calendar entry.

Now the advent of a 20GB mobile bundle does change things. I didn’t often get anywhere near my old 2GB limit but there again my mobile usage habits were tailored to the package. Photo and video uploads in particular were restricted to when I was in WiFi coverage. I have removed this restriction and it will be interesting to see how this affects cellular data usage.

I also used to switch Sat Nav on just for the moments that I needed it as this was also a heavy consumer of data. At least Google Maps was. I’d started using Waze instead which seems to be much lighter on data.

The other consideration of course is battery usage. Hitting 4G hard will inevitably use up the battery before I want it using up. I’ll report back.

As a footnote to this post, I was discussing the Oneplus 2 with the very pleasant and efficient Sophie in the Vodafone shop and remarked that the major downside was the fact that the screen seemed to scratch easily. Glancing at the phone I then realised that the original plastic screen protector was still on. Doh!

For the derogatory comments on their screen in a previous post I offer Oneplus my unreserved apologies. Sorry.


End User scams

Telecom Fraud – industry’s problem not the customer’s

Industry needs to take ownership of telecom fraud says VanillaIP CEO Dave Dadds

The ongoing “quiet” debate about telecom fraud which for the Voice Carriers and Resellers in the UK typically shows itself in the form of “dial through fraud” is a continued ongoing discussion, but the truth is that it is everyone’s dirty secret.

We all know the ways dial through fraud typically happen by either the PBX being hijacking or impersonating the SIP credentials, then big bills being sent all the way down the chain typically ending up on the customer doorstep.  

The first thing I would say is this is not an end user problem, why should the customer be expected to know the inside out of the black magic art of telecoms to somehow work out how to stop it? If the banks turned around to us and told us all that our next credit card fraud is our problem to sort we would rightly tell them where to go.  No, this problem is for the industry to sort out and get its house in order and start spending the money to resolve the problem. It would also help if our regulator Ofcom took more interest in this issue rather than just passing the buck.

Why this is everyone’s “dirty secret” is because no vendor is keen to talk about how much they have been hacked for as they see it as a loss of face and a reflection of weakness in there system. This in itself means that the problem is being tackled with one hand behind everyone’s back.  The other major issue which does not always get asked is where exactly this money is being sent?  

Various stats are given as to how much this fraud is worth worldwide, millions, billions, trillions who knows but the key question is are we all funding ISIS?.  When this possibility is put in the ring this becomes not just a commercial concern for all of us but just as importantly a moral concern with the recent tragic incidents around the world including Paris.

The industry needs to get its act together and tackle the problem head on. Anyone that is running a SIP based network service these days will no doubt be putting their own preventative measures in place but the biggest leak in all of our cumulative “Buckets” is the fact that the large carriers continue to be happy to pay the out payments with NO questions asked.  If UK based carriers refused to pay their international partners this fraud would soon start to be stopped, we saw the change in the UK fraud market once out payments could be withheld for UK routed 09x, 08x and 070x numbers.  We ourselves today at VanillaIP see very little attempted fraud to UK numbers as there is no financial incentive, what a surprise!

As an industry we need to be putting a much brighter spotlight on the subject, we must all be prepared to talk openly about this problem and share best practice.  Both FCS and ITSPA have been working on strategies to help resolve this problem and we could all start by reporting all frauds through which is a website run by the City Of London Police and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.   We should push for greater engagement with the large carriers and the regulator as this is everyone’s problem. In reality there is absolutely no reason why we can’t resolve this to the benefit of everyone apart from the criminals and terrorists out there.

Dave Dadds ([email protected]) – is CEO of and Deputy Chairman at FCS

This is telecom fraud week on, edited by Manuel Basilavecchia of Netaxis. Read our other fraud posts this week:

Colin Duffy on “is encryption the answer to data loss
Manuel Basilaveccia on “Missing Trader VAT Fraud

End User phones

In which I take a look at my new Oneplus 2 one week in

Oneplus 2 review – is the upgrade worth going for?

I took delivery of my new Oneplus 2 last Wednesday. Initial thoughts:

Screen already chipped – wtf??
I like the fingerprint recognition – works really well
Took a while to figure out how to close down the camera app
V cool button for selecting priority callers only
Much better phone directory lookup than Oneplus 1
I’ve kept the sms and hangouts functions in separate apps this time because merging the two in the Oneplus 1 didn’t work very well
the rough back on the phone is great

I didn’t need a new phone but the Oneplus 1 was starting to give me some grief in a few areas. It would quite often take minutes to look up people/phone numbers. The phone would sometimes not find a person I knew I had in my address book. It was hit and miss. Wasn’t like that when I first got it. I also made the mistake of merging the sms function with the hangouts app. This caused so much hassle in figuring which account to use when sending a text message. It may also have been the source of the problem of directory look up. I don’t know.

Because the Oneplus 2 didn’t break the bank at £270 or so I bit the bullet. First issue was it uses a nano sim which the Oneplus 1 doesn’t. I could have cut the sim down but figured it wasn’t worth the effort and went into the EE shop in Lincoln and got a new one. New sim worked straight away fair play. In the meantime I used the Oneplus 2 without a SIM.

Before originally deciding to sign up with EE I had considered running without a mobile number and getting a data only sim. Decided that this approach was a little too ahead of its time.

Screen defect on Oneplus 2

Now before diving into the improvements that the Oneplus 2 has brought it is worth saying that the screen has already got a defect in it. It’s very small and I can’t see if it is a chip but boy is it irritating. The problem is I suspect that the RMA procedure takes ages with Oneplus and I think I’m going to have to live with it. It doesn’t get in the way of the overall experience. I’m pretty sure it didn’t happen as a result of being dropped or bashed in any way. The Oneplus 1 went a year without mishap.

For an update on the screen issue please see this post.

Fingerprint recognition on Oneplus 2

The fingerprint mechanism on the Oneplus 2 is great. Works every time. I have both index fingers and my right thumb stored. It’s real progress. I still have the PIN number as a backup. It took me a while to realise that this function was worthwhile but now I use it every time and even find myself shutting down the screen just so that I can reactivate it with my thumbprint!

Oneplus 2 Camera

One of the most important features of a phone for me is the camera. I take a lot of pictures. Other reviews tell me the camera is an evolutionary improvement over the Oneplus 1. I guess it is though I can’t really tell the difference that much. One thing worth noting is that if you use the “photo” mode for hte camera it takes a while to take the picture. You have to hold the camera still whilst it take the photo. If you choose “Manual” more it still seems to do things automatically but doesn’t have the same problem.

A few observations. It took me a while (a few days) to figure out how to exit the camera app. There is no obvious x button and the android softkeys that allow you to go to the home page, go back or show open apps disappears from the screen when you are using the camera. Turns out you just swipe up from the bottom and these buttons reappear. This might be something adjustable in the settings but now I know what to do I can live with it.

I also discovered a “feature” whilst writing this post. If you have the phone locked in portrait mode and then take a landscape oriented video the video turns out at right angles to the way it should when viewed. I found this out after having posted four videos to Facebook. What’s more Facebook didn’t appear to have any mechanism for rotating the vids and none of the cloud based video editing services seemed to want to work. At least with the four videos of mine. Fortunately YouTube was reliable and I was able to rotate all four for inclusion on this blog. Check em out here.

Priority notification setting button

Dunno if that’s the right description for the button but on the left side of the phone is a small slider that has three settings. The first lets all calls and notifications through, the second just priority ones and the third none at all. In other words it blocks all communications. It’s a good way for quickly putting the phone in silent mode. Took me a while to get used to this but I then figured out that I could label specific people as priority callers by highlighting a star in their directory profile.

In principle this could be quite useful. I’ve set all the family as priority callers. This is a risk as my dear wife Anne has a track record of ringing during important meetings to discuss “tonights tea”. We shall see.

Much better phone directory lookup than Oneplus 1

You’ve already read my whinge about the directory lookup speeds in the Oneplus 1. Well this seems to be fixed in the Oneplus 2. It could just be that the firmware load is fresh and hasn’t had a chance to get bogged down yet but all I can say is that so far it’s a huge improvement.

I’ve also kept the sms and hangout apps separate in the two. Actually this has shown me that I don’t really use hangouts all that much and it was a mistake to have merged the two in the first place. I use Facebook messaging far more.

It remains to be seen which messenger app will win out considering that the UK government seems hell bent on making it difficult for such apps to be used in the UK. I think a general uprising would ensue if this happened or people would move to “illegal” platforms.

Rough back on phone

I’ve seen a Oneplus 2 review where the reviewer didn’t like the rough back to the phone. It took me a while to get used to it but in balance I think this is a winner. It stops the phone from sliding off surfaces. For example I can have it on my tummy whilst leaning back on the settee writing (as I am doing now) and the phone won’t slip off. I’m sure it’s going to save a few smashed screens.


So having looked at the Oneplus 2  review I can say it’s definitely better than its predecessor. I’m still a bit peeved about the screen defect and I may yet RMA it but we shall see.

Feature pic taken from Oneplus website – I can’t take pics of the phone with itself 🙂

End User travel

Hurricane Nora strikes

I mean storm Abigail

I should say mildly agitated bit of wind Abigail.  I wouldn’t promote her to storm, at least not in Lincoln. Course things may be different in other parts of the country. In the West. Where they get all the weather.

Here in Lincoln it has got colder and I’ve stuck the central heating on. Yesterday I noticed people (ok girls) walking around Lincoln in strapless tops! It was that warm. Not today. Today it’s warm vest and scarf weather.

This afternoon I’ve been packing to go off to RIPE 71 in Bucharest. One assumes that a vest is going to be necessary in Roumania. I have visions of the snow drifting up against the castle wall, burying the cottages of the villagers down in the valley. You can just about see the tops of the roofs and the chimneys are emanating woodsmoke. Hope they have enough supplies in. It’s going to be a hard winter ahead.

Not for those of us attending the RIPE conference. That’s in a warm and comfortable hotel with a pool – gotta keep fit and healthy innit. Offset the effects of “conference life”.

I’m back in town next Thursday for the Exec Dinner with Danny Prieskel. We currently have 18 execs signed and room for just 2 more if you want to come, Tix here. Then it’s off to the Isle of Man to see me dear old Dad. Expect photos.

So you may hear from me over the next couple of weeks or you may not. In the meantime I am looking for some guest contributors interested in discussing telecom fraud issues. If you have something to say re fraud by all means drop me a line – or leave a comment here.

In the meantime have a great weekend. Catch you on Facebook sometime…

PS you may be wondering about the featured image in this post. It’s a bit of a tree blown down, presumably, by storm Abigail!

End User fun stuff

trefbash 2015 update

trefbash 2015 update – registrations over the halfway mark

Signups for trefbash 2015 are roughly on par with last year with over a 100 tickets now “sold”, most of which have gone to regulars. It’s quite interesting to see which ticket types have been selling fastest – I’ve crested a number of different tickets in line with the Bond meets Rocky Horror theme of this year’s bash.

Ticket Type Number sold so far
My name is Bond 39
Dr Frank N. Furter 7
Janet Weiss (s!^£) 1
Brad Majors (a$$h0!3) 1
Pussy Galore 5
Jaws 4
Goldfinger 5
Scaramanga 5
Dr No 7
Tiffany Case 3
Honey Ryder 2
M 17
Moneypenny 5

It’s quite telling that lots of people fancy themselves a bit of a James Bond. Also I haven’t looked but I wonder how many of the 17 people currently going as M are female in line with the Judi Dench portrayal in Skyfall.

It’s going to be interesting to see how the 7 people signed up as Frank N. Furter turn up. Also up until yesterday nobody had signed up as Janet Weiss (slut) and there was only one Brad Majors (asshole). There are now one of each.

Although we have the Christmas Market here in Lincoln the weekend before trefbash seems to be the start of the party season proper, after which nothing much gets done. I know some of you will be slogging away with month/quarter/year end impending but hey…

Traditionally some of us also have a few sherberts in town the following day before catching the train nowf so if you can plan that into your busy schedule then you are welcome to join us.

Still time to get yer name down if you plan on coming. trefbash 2015 is four weeks today. Signup page here.

End User scams

Chinese domain name scam returns – yay

We take a break from our Lincolnshire broadband posts to bring you this exciting message. The Chinese domain name scam is back:)

I used to get these scam Chinese emails quite frequently when I was at Timico. Dunno if they specifically target email addresses of businesses. I look back at them with fondness because they were obviously attempts to extract cash.

General Manager
Shanghai Office (Head Office)
3008, Jiulong Building, No. 836 Nandan Road,
Xuhui District, Shanghai 200070, China
Tel: +86 216191 8696
Mobile: +86 1870199 4951
Fax: +86 216191 8697

Dear CEO,

(If you are not the person who is in charge of this, please forward this to your CEO, because this is urgent, Thanks)

We are a Network Service Company which is the domain name registration center in Shanghai, China.

We received an application from Huayin Ltd on November 9, 2015. They want to register ” broadbandrating ” as their Internet Keyword and ” broadbandrating .cn “、” broadbandrating ” 、” broadbandrating “、” broadbandrating ” 、” broadbandrating .asia ” domain names etc.., they are in China and Asia domain names. But after checking it, we find ” broadbandrating ” conflicts with your company. In order to deal with this matter better, so we send you email and confirm whether this company is your distributor or business partner in China or not?

I got this one recently. Don’t recall when exactly because it was in my spam folder and I deleted the lot after copying the text. Good old Google caught this one for me. Had some words of warning: “Emails like these have been known to be attempts to take money from your bank account” or words to that effect.

I should probably take it a little more seriously but my initial reaction was “Ah bless, they’re at it again”. Presumably it must work with some people otherwise they wouldn’t bother.

PS I wonder what Huayin Ltd notionally do?

broadband End User

Broadband for all – our rights to access utilities

PM promises broadband for all

It is fitting considering it is Lincolnshire broadband week on this blog that last weekend Prime Minister David Cameron announced that broadband should be considered an utility and that everybody should be able to request it. He said:

“Just as our forebears effectively brought gas, electricity and water to all, we’re going to bring fast broadband to every home and business that wants it.” Good.

The digital minister Ed Vaizey gave further detail, explaining that the plan was to bring in a universal service obligation of 10Mbps for “the very hardest to reach homes and businesses.”

This is a very difficult issue to get your brain around. In the first instance whilst 10Mbps may be a huge step forward compared to what some people in rural areas might be getting today it will still be way behind what most of the rest of us can already receive.  By the time it has been implemented 10Mbps will be seen to be pretty slow. Maybe that doesn’t matter.

If it is perceived that water, electricity and gas are a right, and I’m not sure that is the case – I can’t believe every rural dwelling is plumbed in for these services – I don’t think people are offered partial services for these utilities. eg you can only have some of the electricity you need not all of it.

Why shouldn’t rural people get the same broadband services as their cousins who moved into town?

It will also be interesting to see how this is paid for. I don’t think it would be reasonable to expect BT to have to foot the bill and my experience in working with Nottinghamshire County Council on their BDUK programme suggests that the whole subject of government subsidies is hugely complex. There are massive rolls of red tape indiscriminately (my words) applied to any project that may be perceived to have subsidies involved. I may be wrong.

Our politicians are often criticised for not understanding issues, especially those pertaining to technology and the internet. We must accept that some of these issues are difficult to grasp, especially in times where we are trying to save money not spend it.

We are promised a consultation period in 2016 on how to achieve the promises made by the Prime Minister over the weekend. I say ok but at the same time we should be actively looking to see how UK plc gets the universal fibre to the premises that must be the long term goal.

Other posts in Lincolnshire broadband week:

Philip Little of Bluecube Move to the cloud accelerated by superfast broadband

Intro to day 4 by Tref

Broadband for all by Tref

Could we have a B4RN in Lincolnshire (B4RL)

Gigaclear Ultrafast broadband in Lincolnshire by CEO Matthew Hare

BT fibrebroadband Managing Director Bill Murphy discusses superfast broadband progress in Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire broadband programme update by Steve Brookes


broadband End User

BT superfast broadband supremo Bill Murphy talks about progress to date in Lincolnshire and offers a glimpse into the future


It’s hard to believe more than two years has passed since the very first digital conference organised by onlincolnshire.

Back then, in 2013, I told a packed conference room in Lincoln that the most important aim was to ensure as many people as possible can benefit from fibre broadband.

There is no doubt we’re well on the way to achieving that, but let’s be clear, the story is far from over. Plenty more work in towns and villages across the county is already underway or being planned for the future.

It’s worth pausing for a second to take in the remarkable achievements that BT’s partnership with Lincolnshire County Council has already delivered.

Since that event back in March 2013, fibre broadband has been made available to more than 190,000 homes and businesses across Lincolnshire, thanks to Onlincolnshire and BT’s commercial rollout. Incredible, when you think that’s more than 6,000 properties every month able to sign up to fibre broadband for the first time.

We are transforming lives, changing the way Lincolnshire as a county does business, and opening up a whole world of possibility for our younger generations.

But we know there’s more to do. Some of our smaller communities are still waiting. Often, they’re the ones it’s proving hardest to connect to the network.

We continue to work closely with the council to explore the best way of tackling the most hard-to-reach areas. And just recently, BT itself announced a commitment to ‘never say no’ to communities outside of any current rollout plans and to work with them to find a fibre solution.

BT is more determined than ever. We’re making huge advances in the development of new technology. Just last month, 2,000 homes and businesses taking part in a real-life trial in Cambridgeshire became the first in the UK to experience a new type of ultrafast broadband.

G.Fast, pioneered by BT, is already delivering ultrafast broadband speeds of up to 330 megabits per second (Mbps), more than ten times the UK average, but is capable of going even further, up to 500 Mbps.

This trial is being delivered by Openreach, BT’s local network business, on behalf of and in collaboration with UK communications providers – eight of which have chosen to take part in this early research.

If the trials, also taking place in parts of Newcastle and Swansea, are successful, and assuming UK regulation continues to encourage investment, Openreach aims to start deploying G.Fast in 2016/17. This exciting technology is without doubt the key to making ultrafast speeds more widely available.

But how does it work?

G.Fast is a type of transmission system that uses a wider frequency band to deliver high broadband speeds over short-to-medium copper lines.

BT has pioneered research into G.Fast since 2007 and we believe speeds of up to 330Mbps will be available to millions of homes by 2020, and 500Mbps available to most of the UK within just a decade.

It’s a six to nine month trial, allowing BT, Openreach and the eight communications providers taking part to assess the technical performance of the technology across a large footprint.

Different methods of deployment are being used to provide a valuable insight into how the technology can be used on a day-to-day basis, and how usage may grow over time.

The speeds on offer will allow people to stream live ultra-high-definition 4K video content to multiple devices at once, all whilst simultaneously browsing the web, uploading videos and photos, or playing online games.

So the future’s exciting. And here at BT, we’re delighted to be leading the way in transforming the UK broadband landscape from superfast to ultrafast.

It’s going to be some journey.

Bill Murphy is Managing Director of next-generation access at BT and is responsible for their nationwide superfast broadband roll-out.

Other posts in Lincolnshire broadband week:

Philip Little of Bluecube Move to the cloud accelerated by superfast broadband

Intro to day 4 by Tref

Broadband for all by Tref

Could we have a B4RN in Lincolnshire (B4RL)

Gigaclear Ultrafast broadband in Lincolnshire by CEO Matthew Hare

BT fibrebroadband Managing Director Bill Murphy discusses superfast broadband progress in Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire broadband programme update by Steve Brookes

End User fun stuff

Ten past four and it’s getting dark!

Custard is a dish best served cold

I’m a great believer in knocking off work when it gets dark. If it had been intended that we should work in the dark we would have invented torches been born with a light on our foreheads.

It’s ten past four and it’s getting dark. Time to huddle round the hearth, nice woollen blanket on our laps. Only illumination is the glow from the fire. On this occasion I’ll have to settle for switching on the central heating and stick with the glow from my laptop screen.

Way back when we lived in Waunfawr near Caernarfon we had a coal fire which my mum used to like to lie in front of. Then we moved to the Isle of Man where we only had radiators. Mum used to lie in front of the radiator! I digress though there isn’t really much point to this post. Just thought I’d take a break from doing other things.

It’s a good job I can type without having to look at the keyboard. Ish. Cos it’s dark. I mentioned that. It’s also chucking it down. Quite relaxing here in the conservatory with the sound of the rain on the roof. My office is in the conservatory. It’s all cabled up but I only use the Cat5 connection for the SIP phone. Also have a SIP DECT phone fwiw.

Screenshot_2015-11-05-07-46-33A car has just driven by on the main road outside with its siren going. Couldn’t tell whether it was a police car or ambulance (or fire engine for that matter). Wouldn’t have been able to see anyway because of the hedge. Also I’ve had to switch on a light – have just realised my touch typing ain’t all that good anymore. It’s a consequence of changing laptop sizes too many times. Each keyboard is a different size – messes up your spatial awareness ifyaknowworramean.

Now I’m multitasking, writing this post and communicating with an offspring using Facebook. Of course you can’t tell that I’m doing it but hey… It has meant that my productivity rate has slowed.

It’s really dark out now and the heating is at last taking effect. Another siren goes by. The mean streets of Lincoln. Buzzing tourist spot by day. Gangland by night. Not really. Just sounded exciting. Sometimes you have to jazz life up a bit. Like, for example, by coming along to trefbash 2015. You know it makes sense. Also still have a few tix left for my Danny Prieskel dinner where we will be discussing telecom fraud. Get signed up.

Couple more sirens go by in short order. Must be something big going down. Mean streets, like I said. More likely to be a traffic accident. When it rains, as it is still doing right now, we have road traffic accidents (RTAs) and the Lincoln roads get gridlocked. On such occasions the only sensible course of action is to park up and head for the pub. You can always come back in the morning for the car.

If you live near Lincoln one thing you might be interested in is the carol singing night at teh Morning Star pub – my local. Details on Facebook. It’s on 23rd of December this year. We have Colin Dudman accompanying the singing on the piano and when we’ve done with the singing Joe Davies joins in on trumpet and we finish off the night with some jazz.

I think that’ll do for the mo and will leave you with the following saying to muse over:

custard is a dish best served cold

End User surveillance & privacy

Like a bit of porn do you fnaa fnaa wink wink

What price privacy? Snooper’s charter 2015 – round “n”

The snooper’s charter debate shouldn’t be about what will be monitored by the government.  We should be discussing exactly what price we are prepared to pay for our security. Considering that any data stored under this edition of the “charter” will eventually be hacked and leak out are we ok with this?

The supplementary debate of how effective the monitoring will be in catching terrorists is a different matter.

Check out a ton of posts on the snooper’s charter.

Btw the featured image is simply a seasonal photo taken this morning in the car park of Yarborough Leisure Centre where I go swimming. Nothing to do with the snooper’s charter 2015 unless something is hiding under there…:)