Back on hosted WordPress but still no option to show your own ads

Well, here goes…

First posting on this hosted WordPress blog and looks like some major enhancements to what WordPress.com can offer.

Only shame there is no option to allow your own advertising to be shown. You can map a domain for $10 a year, get more space and even play around with the CSS for a small annual fee, but why not be able to show youe own ads for a small annual fee?

Getting the deal…Blackberry email on the move for £2 a month!

After completing an 18 month contract with TMobile for my Blackberry 7290, I decided to see what they could offer to keep me with them.

I was on a £17 a month unlimited account and when I went online to see what was on offer discovered that if I keep with them for another 12 months, I can either upgrade to another phone (though they didn’t show me another Blackberry!) or keep my 7290 and get a monthly discount of £15 a month.

Well, given that the 7290 does a fairly decent job and allowing me to read my emails and respond when I need to on the move, paying £2 a month for the service is a great deal and one to keep me with TMobile.

I wonder what the deal in 12 months time will be like?

What Broadband was made for – Part 1

Earth TVHaving enjoyed watching Earth TV and seeing cities from around the world on Sky Travel through the Earth TV webcams, I always hoped that it would be shown on the web.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, Earth TV revamped its website and now they are showing the same programme that gets syndicated on Sky Travel as well as on other TV stations across the world.

The idea is simple and works really well. Earth TV has a network of webcams located all across the world and beams images from those locations along with some information on what events are happening.

The actual segment lasts for around 90 seconds but combined with some brilliant music and great scenes it is captivating.

From Niagara Falls through to London and from Vienna to Jerusalem, Earth TV really does span the globe.

While at the moment, you don’t get live streaming, there are some other nice feature like time lapsed segments where you can see a city fast forwarded during the day.

An excellent resource for anyone who wants a view of the world.

Virgin Mobile advertising fails to work

Virgin MediaIt was bad enough when NTL was supposed to be providing cable services and now Virgin Media as the company has rebranded itself following a merger first with Telewest and now with Virgin Mobile.
 
You see the problem is that I have lived in an area (Park Royal, London NW10) where for the past nine years, NTL has said it will be cabling soon. Well, that’s what they first said and then in recent years, it become they will make it all cabled “soon”.  Well, soon seems to be never coming.

Last year, NTL took out a series of large billboards proclaiming the benefits of signing up to its service. And, among the areas it had these billboards was Park Royal.

What is the point of showing these billboards to residents and businesses in the area a service they cannot get and are unlikely to get in the very near future?

And now with the new Virgin Media, a series of advertisements have appeared on bus shelters in the Park Royal area. 

Sure people passing through the area might get it where they live, but please stop advertising a service in my area which I cannot get.

What is the point of telling us all the benefits of cable when Virgin Mobile is not bothering to get the area working?

When free phone calls are really good

FreeCallIf you have always been tempted by using your broadband connection to make VOIP telephone calls, then sign up to FreeCall for what is probably the best value service around.

In order to use the service, you download the FreeCall software, then attach a headset or even a USB phone and then you are ready to make calls.

For the cost of a £5 text from your mobile or £10 (plus VAT) credit card payment, you can get an allowance of 300 minutes of calls to not just UK landline numbers but also to numbers in the USA, Italy, Australia, Canada, France and many other countries.

Your credit allows you to call the free countries for 90 days, after which you then need to top up to get another 90 days.

If you don’t want to top up, then your credit can be used for making calls at FreeCall’s low rates, so you never lose out.

Having used the service for over six months, the quality is very good and lives up to its promise of free phone calls for very little cost.

You too can remove U3

U3 flash driveUSB flash drives are a wonderful way to store data and carry it with you on the move.

Just a bit taller than a small box of matches and about the thickness of a one pound coin, they’ve also dramatically come down in price recently.

You can pick up a 1GB drive for around £10 and often a 2GB for £20, but watch out what drive you are getting as it can be a bit of a hassle using them.

Many flash drives use U3 technology developed by Sandisk and M-Systems. In principle, U3 is a great idea as it allows you to turn your flash drive into your workspace and whatever PC machine you use, you can make it your own. It comes pre-installed with software and you can save on the flash drive data that you may have created on another machine.

So in theory that all sounds good. You can take and use your data anywhere. You can carry programs on it and they can work on any other machine.

But the downside is that U3 autoboots, which means if you go into a digital photo processor shop and install the flash drive, it won’t be accepted by the computer.

This has happened to me on a number of occasions.

So what do you do? Well the answer is quite simple, uninstall the U3 software than comes with the flash drive.

Again, until recently this was not information widely given out by U3, but now you can go to the U3 website and install software that then helps you to uninstall U3. It does seem a bit odd, that you have to install software just to remove U3, but it does work.

And with all the special offers around to tempt you to buy a flash drive, at least you now know that you don’t have to keep U3 on your flash drive if you don’t want it.

And of course, the best time to remove U3 is when you get a new drive. Otherwise, trying to remove it later on means you will also wipe the drive of any other data.

Switching your phone provider

Yourcalls.netIf you make phone calls throughout the day at home, you’ll know it can get quite expensive. You might have an unlimited call package add-on to your BT line rental, but you could be paying upwards of £10 a month for that.

So by the time you include the cost of line rental £11 (£10.75 if you opt for online billing), your charges are around £21 a month.

But there are ways to cut down on this and based on my recent experience it really is hassle-free.

Even though my unlimited call package was £7.99 a month from Talk Talk, I thought there must be a better way to reduce my call charges and after a few minutes looking on the web, I found out.

YourCalls.net is not a name I have previously come across, but they handle your line rental and unlimited calls for £14.98 a month. It’s £9.99 for the line rental which is about the cheapest around and just £4.99 for the calling package.

Best of all, unlike other deals around from companies who will take over your line rental from BT and bundle it will calls and possibly broadband, there is no one year or 18 month contract to sign.

YourCalls.net is simply month by month billing. If you don’t like the service, you can leave.

I signed up for YourCalls.net in the middle of January and by the 2nd of February, was switched over to them.

All billing is online. They provide a useful interface detailing all your call charges and you can pick and choose what you want on your line such as call waiting. Of course, these additional features cost, but there is no compulsion to take anything you don’t want.

Communicating with YourCalls.net is done through an online form or through an 0845 number. Response times to my non-urgent questions have been within 12 hours which is fine.

So far, without tempting fate, the service works well. I haven’t noticed any difference from BT, other than the monthly costs are much less.