British Airways and Legalised Robbery

Imagine this scenario. I’m flogging an old mobile phone. I want £5 for the memory card in it, plus £50 for the phone itself. I draw up a contract, and you send me £50 only, because you don’t want the memory card. I then keep both the phone and the card, because under the terms and conditions of the agreed contract, you have to buy both items in the order stated, and if you fail to buy the memory card, I cancel your order for the phone, and keep your money. Ridiculous, isn’t it?

Well, similar Terms and Conditions exist in the world of Airline flights. And, despite a number of courts condemning them as unfair across Europe, most EU countries, including the UK, have not made changes in the law. Continue reading →

Using a dual-SIM phone in Malta

See previous article: Cubot X12 — Dual SIM Use (Bulgaria)

Compared to Bulgaria, getting a SIM for a mobile phone is more expensive in Malta, and for me was far more confusing. One of the companies, Melita, offers a deal which only includes 100Mb data per week, but also includes free Melita wifi wherever you can find it, and they have a good signal in many places, so you might find that you don’t use that much data. But all options seemed different, with selling points designed to draw you in, whilst other things you needed were either not there, expensive or confusing. My choice was VodafoneMT, because they have a shop in the airport. Continue reading →

Electrical Safety in an International Market

Something has been bugging me for quite a while, about Electrical Safety. Do you ever see stories about how a charger, or a phone on charge, caught fire and caused damage, injury or even death? In the UK given the additional safety of the 3-pin plug system, this shouldn’t happen, should it? Well, consider the following picture:
adaptorsOn the left, you can see a USB phone charger, which uses a 2-pin Euro plug, in the middle the British 3-pin type, and on the right, the 2-pin American type. What would you think is safest of the three? The British 3-pin type? I used to think so, too. Continue reading →

Cubot X12 — Dual SIM Use

I have written before about this great value phone:

A Cheap Android Phone
Practical Stuff on the Cubot X12

Its selling points are 4G/LTE operation, and Dual SIM capability. I’ve already found that 4G works and works well on GiffGaff. I am currently in Bulgaria and I have had a chance to put Dual SIM operation to the test.

Continue reading →

I rooted a phone! And it works!

Everything described here is risky. You can render your phone useless by rooting it or installing a third-party operating system, and you do this entirely at your own risk.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve read about “rooting” an Android mobile phone, but was scared of being left with a brick. However, my Samsung Galaxy S3 was hardly worth saving, once I’d got my new phone. The USB port was buggered, and everything on it took place at snail’s pace.

I did a factory reset, but there was still no way of removing all the bloatware. So although I now had a phone that would work, there were few apps on it that I would want to use. Continue reading →

Practical Stuff on the Cubot X12

See previous article: A Cheap Android Phone

On my old Samsung Galaxy S3 phone, I used to use a program launcher called Solo, rather than the one built in. It’s a great way to build your Home screen on an Android phone. Since switching to the X12, with a lot of problems resolved regarding speed and lock-ups, I started getting more picky about the “little things”. One of which was the tendency for the Weather Clock and Calendar Applets to freeze from time to time, necessitating a reboot.

One of the reasons I found, on the internet, for this was that they are being crashed by over-enthusiastic “memory cleaners”, of which Solo has one built in. I tried a number of other Launchers, and generally they had the same problem. And they could not do what Solo did, to vary the screen grid (I think it looks better with 5 rows and 4 columns, than the standard 4×4). Continue reading →

A Cheap Android Phone

One of the things that enables the British people to ripped off by Big Business, is their mistaken belief that the more you pay, the better product you will get. This is illustrated by a couple I used to know. The man of the house could tell Heinz Tomato Ketchup apart from rival brands and supermarket brands. He could taste the difference! However when the lady of the house craftily filled an empty Heinz bottle with Aldi own-brand ketchup, the Aldi sauce, when served from a Heinz bottle, tasted exactly like Heinz. Indeed, he could distinguish the flavours of Aldi ketchup from a Heinz bottle and Aldi ketchup from an Aldi bottle, the first being delicious and the latter being rubbish. Continue reading →

A Cheap Linux Laptop — Take 2

You may have seen my previous article “A Cheap Linux Laptop“. Well this is a rewrite. I have changed several things since I wrote the original article, and I think it would be better to start over. The major changes are: (a) lessons learnt, (b) I installed a Solid State Drive, and (c) I used the LXDE desktop instead of XFCE.

Back in April, I bought a laptop, a Lenovo B50-45, for £160 brand new. It has a 15.6in screen, and is big enough to include a numeric keypad! Surely it can’t be any good for that money!! I got it from Ebuyer, who don’t stock it any more. Six months down the road, the model is selling at a higher price via other suppliers. There are a number of models in the B50 series, and I imagine that they would prove to be similar. Continue reading →

Facebook, and the White Screen

I don’t know whether this has ever happened to anyone else. This is what happens if I attempt to log into Facebook in my account:

Yep, that’s it a totally white screen.

This is been going on over a day now. Just as a second test, what do you think might happen if I log in again, but using “” instead of “www” at the start of the address? Well, I do get to see a bit more:

Continue reading →

Libre Office 5.0 Released!

One of the things I can never get my head around, is the love affair computer users have with Microsoft Word and Microsoft Office. It’s as if it is an essential piece of software. Because of its cost, people will risk being caught breaking the law with illegal copies. And yet, it’s nothing special, and there are other wordprocessors and office-suites out there which do the job just as well, and in some cases better, at a fraction of the cost.

One such office suite is LibreOffice, and it has the major advantage of being free! And the recent update to version 5.0 marks a milestone in the development of this excellent piece of software. A question could reasonably be asked, how can software be any good if it’s free? Won’t the best software writers go and work for someone who pays them? Well I’ve written stuff before about this. There are different types of free, and it’s as well to know how the difference between free as in no charge, and free as in Open Source. Free programs like Libre Office, as well as Firefox, Google Chrome, and many others, have versions compiled to run on Windows, Linux and Macs, and could be the right things to try, to see if Linux would be a good operating system for you!

Continue reading →


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