Sunday, 30 December 2007

What's new at Truphone

Great news from Truphone. Their free calling offer has been extended until the end of February 2008.

Truphone continues to go from strength to strength. The latest addition to the product portfolio is a Truphone app for Facebook allowing friends to call you for free. You don't need to be a Truphone mobile customer as the calls can be received on your landline number, as well as your Truphone mobile number.

2008 will be an interesting year for Truphone as VoIP over 3G and WiFi becomes a key part of the mobile landscape.


ITsafe is a useful UK website for updates on computer security issues. There's also a subscription service which sends out occasional updates highlighting key security issues. It's not as comprehensive as some of the security company websites but at least you don't get 'snow-blinded' by alerts!

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Loss of personal data from HMRC

I guess most people will have heard about this shocking act of incompetence.

Some CDs being sent between HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the National Audit Office (NAO) have gone 'missing'.

These CDs contain child benefit details of 7.25 million families (about 25 million people), with information including names, addresses, dates of birth, bank account and National Insurance numbers.

The status of these discs is unknown and is being investigated by the Metropolitan Police. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has stated that so far there is no suggestion that anything dodgy has happened as a result of the discs' loss.

The worrying point here is that if the discs fall into the wrong hands, the information could be exploited for identity fraud.

Advice from ITsafe:
  • Ensure you are following good password procedures as explained by GetSafeOnline - if any of your passwords are things like date of birth or name, these should be changed.
  • Do not give out any personal information or account information if anyone contacts you unexpectedly, and in particular be vigilant for spoof emails, which could, if this additional information became available, look more convincing if they claim to come from HMRC or banks.
  • Monitor your bills, invoices, receipts and bank statement entries for things you do not recognise, and if you find any, inform your bank immediately: if you are the innocent victim of banking fraud you will not have to pay.
Further details on the issue is available from HMRC and from APACS, the Banking organisation:

Friday, 16 November 2007

Momail - email on your mobile

Momail is a new mobile email service which allows you to check your existing email from your handset. You can either forward email from your accounts to your Momail account or set Momail up to check them. There's no need to change your email address for receiving or sending email as Momail uses your existing details - Momail's Dynamic Sender function keeps track of the address to which the email was originally sent so your reply always uses the right address. Momail also optimises emails for your mobile phone to minimise the amount of data that is sent. It even includes spam and virus protection. Best of all Momail is free.

There's no software to install, Momail uses the handset's existing email client so it integrates seamlessly into the handset.

I set Momail up on my Nokia E65 with no problems and it works brilliantly. I've tried a few mobile email services and this is the best so far.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007


TalkPlus has just soft launched their service in the UK. You can now sign up for a UK (London) number. TalkPlus is one of a new breed of Voice 2.0 providers moving control to the customer from the network. To understand the power of the service you really need to try it.

Features include:
  • A second number on your existing mobile, maybe to keep personal or business calls separate
  • Outgoing calls at rates much lower than regular mobile rates
  • Incoming calls can ring multiple phones simultaneously
  • Mirror number so you can present the CLI of another of your lines, e.g. your landline, on your outgoing calls
  • Call screening so you can listen in as callers leave voice mails
  • Visual voice mail so you can see the list of voice mails on your handset before listening to them
  • Ability to transfer calls to another line mid conversation
The website is still US centric & you have to dig down to find the UK info but it's a very neat service and works on a variety of handsets. I'm using the Nokia S60 version which integrates very well on my E65.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

A better week with technology ...

Got my PC back today with a new cooling fan for the heatsink. Seems that it's smart enough not to boot when the fan's not working to avoid over-heating the processor. The fault with the fan seemed to be intermittent but eventually the fan died completely.

Great service from Assured Computer Services in Oxted, my local Fix IT Local specialist.

Fingers crossed ...

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Alex Light

Alex Light sell the best reading lights I've found anywhere. Everything about them is top quality. There are a number of different styles including desk, floor standing, wide beam for newspapers, focussed beam for books and others. They come with a five year guarantee and also offer a risk free trial. I've had my light for two years now and it is without a doubt the best light I've ever bought. The customer service from Alex Light is also exceptional.

A bad week with technology

Yesterday my desktop PC wouldn't boot. Nothing happens, not even the BIOS loads. Opening it up it turns out that the cooling fan for the processor heatsink has failed so the processor may be 'cooked'. Just waiting for it to be picked up to get it fixed. Glad I've got everything backed up with Carbonite, just in case ...

A couple of days ago I discovered that every time I plug any USB flash drive into my business laptop it 'blue screens'. Decided to live with it for now as it's 'end-of-life' and I am awaiting a new laptop in the next few months to replace it (long overdue, delivery keeps slipping). I don't want to go through the pain of configuring two replacements ...

A coincidence but they're both Dells!

Friday, 26 October 2007

Mobile roaming

3 Like Home is the first mobile roaming service that doesn't send your mobile bills sky high when you're away. If you’re going to Austria, Australia, Denmark, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy or Sweden then you use your inclusive minutes and messages just like in the UK, on the local 3 network. And it's still free to receive calls.

For our friends in Australia (you know who you are!), 3 Australia offers a similar tariff that mirrors the rates you pay at home, so you no longer need different handsets and numbers for Australia and the UK.

Thursday, 25 October 2007


I wrote about Txt2Lock a while back. The software installs on your handset and lets you remotely lock the handset via SMS if you lose it. Just send a preset code to the handset and it's instantly disabled.

The guys there are continuing to add support for more Nokia handsets, including the popular 6120 Classic which is available on several of the low cost tariffs including the new ones from 3 (we've got two of them here!). New functionality also sends you back a confirmation SMS so you know your handset has been locked.

Friday, 19 October 2007


HowStuffWorks is an old favourite of mine. Info on virtually everything. This one caught my eye! Or for something more serious.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Time to move on!

Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and move on! Yesterday I spent a while trying to work out why Norton 360 wouldn't work on a PC (not mine - I was trying to fix it remotely using LogMeIn). The software refused to run a virus scan and wouldn't run in Auto Protect mode, which after all is the whole point of virus software. I tried uninstalling using the Norton Removal Tool to ensure it was properly removed and then reinstalling, with no success.

In the end I dumped Norton 360, installed my favourite security software - F-Secure Internet Security 2008 and all was well. F-Secure offers a 30 day free trial at the moment.

Score - F-Secure 1, Norton 0

Verify Email Address

Just spotted this on Lifehacker - Verify Email Address. It checks that an email address actually exists. Works fine where it can connect to the mailbox but if the email address is forwarding to another address it doesn't work. All the ISP email addresses I tested worked fine but not the email addresses where people are using their own domain name with forwarding.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Revo Uninstaller

Yesterday I decided to remove some software that I no longer needed on my PC. It was stuff from Creative that I had to install a while back to make an old MP3 player work. No longer need to connect the player to the PC so time to remove the software. The software installed as a bunch of separate applications so I started working through them and on the second application the uninstall program failed with some incomprehensible errors.

I remembered that a while back I installed Revo Uninstaller on my PC having read a good review of it. I'd never got around to using it but this seemed like a good time. I fired it up, highlighted the first of the 'rogue' applications and selected the uninstall option. First off it scanned the PC for all files and registry entries connected to the application and then it launched the standard Creative software uninstaller. Predictably the uninstaller failed, at which point I had the option to ask Revo Uninstaller to manually finish the job. Revo then removed the application by deleting all relevant files and registry entries. I guess that approach means it will always be able to remove programs even if the uninstaller fails. Brilliant job! Great bit of software!

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Online banking

I've just received a new gadget from NatWest to improve the security of online banking. In order to undertake certain transactions like setting up or making a payment I'm asked to put my debit card into the gadget, enter my PIN and then enter the one time password generated by the device into the website. Nice to see NatWest taking online security seriously. Some of the other banks are also issuing similar gadgets and I expect this to become the norm for online banking (at least until the techies come up with something better!).

Sunday, 7 October 2007

PC remote access

Do you sometimes need to ask a friend or relative for help with your PC or find yourself being asked for help. Trying to resolve problems over the phone is invariably a frustrating business! Being able to remotely access a PC makes the whole experience much simpler.

I've tried a variety of remote access products and run into problems with ports being blocked, failed connections and grindingly slow access. LogMeIn makes the whole process very easy and avoids the hassle of opening up specific ports on your router. You install LogMeIn on the PC that needs to be accessed remotely and then the other party accesses the PC via a browser using an ID & Password provided by the person whose PC is being accessed. If you have LogMeIn installed before you actually need access then the whole process is very quick.

LogMeIn is also great for accessing your own PC from another location, e.g. the office.

One point to note is that when you download the free version (which I've found is perfectly adequate) it actually installs a trial of the pro version. You then need to edit your account settings to change it to the free version.

Friday, 5 October 2007

BT and FON launch the world's largest Wi-Fi community

Press release yesterday from BT:

BT and FON today promised to transform the UK’s market for wireless broadband by launching BT FON, the world’s largest Wi-Fi community.

BT’s more than 3 million consumer Total Broadband customers will be invited to join the global community of people sharing their broadband.

At launch, new members will be part of an existing community of 500,000 members and will have access to more than 190,000 FON hotspots worldwide. Anyone joining in will be able to use those FON hotspots across the world and all the new BT FON hotspots free of charge.

The revolutionary idea for a massive Wi-Fi community, built by individual people and not a large corporate enterprise, marks BT’s boldest step yet in building extensive broadband coverage outside of the home or office.

Every person who agrees to share a small portion of their home broadband connection, by opening up a separate, secure channel on their wireless router, will be able to share the connection of any other member. BT Total Broadband customers will also be able to use BT’s premium existing hotspot network BT Openzone, including 12 Wireless Cities.

BT FON aims to build a huge community Wi-Fi network, covering hundreds of thousands of hotspots, in a short space of time, under the slogan “Wi-Fi for everyone, I’m in”. The secure open Wi-Fi solution was developed by FON and BT’s research labs. BT has invested in FON as part of the tie-in, joining the company’s other investors, which include Google. BT will also have a seat on the board of FON.

The BT FON deal will accelerate and complement the work BT has already done with BT Openzone in order to provide the largest possible Wi-Fi coverage across the UK and the rest of the world.

Gavin Patterson, BT Group managing director, Consumer, said: “This is the start of something very exciting for BT. Today we are launching a people’s network of Wi-Fi, which could one day cover every street in Britain.

“We are giving our millions of Total Broadband customers a choice and an opportunity. If they are prepared to securely share a little of their broadband, they can share the broadband at hundreds of thousands of FON and BT Openzone hotspots today, without paying a penny.

“We have built a public Wi-Fi network and 12 Wireless Cities already, but today we are saying to customers, let’s build a Wi-Fi community together, which covers everywhere and serves everyone.”

Martin Varsavsky, FON’s Founder and CEO, said of the strategic partnership: “BT is a fantastic addition to our roster of investors and highlights the on-going success of FON, the enormous support from ISPs and Telcos around the world and the strength of our vision to establish shared Wi-Fi access worldwide. From the beginning FON users believed in the concept of sharing and in the peoples' ability to participate in building something important that would benefit everyone. With BT FON, those beliefs have proved to be well-founded.”

What a great idea. A very innovative approach to extending WiFi.


Lifehacker is a great site with an eclectic range of tips covering technology and life in general. There are some real gems in there - well worth subscribing to.

Top 10 Wi-Fi Boosts, Tweaks and Apps for WiFi users and Top 10 Firefox Extension-free Tabbed Browsing Techniques for Firefox users are a couple of good ones recently.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

An analogue solution in a digital world

Despite the array of digital gadgets at our disposal it's still useful to be able to whip out a notebook and pen and make notes the old fashioned way! Moleskine notebooks are without doubt the best quality notebooks I've come across.

Moleskine has an illustrious history and the notebooks have been used by some of the great names in 20th century culture including Ernest Hemingway and Henri Matisse.

There a wide selection of sizes and styles and it's worth spending a bit of time working out what's best for you. Once you recognise a Moleskine notebook, you'll be surprised how many people you see using them.

If you want to buy online I recommend MojoLondon with free UK delivery for most orders. Mojo is good for other stuff as well.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Disk space

JDiskReport is a neat software application for working out where your disk space has gone. You can see your files by size and work out what is taking up space.

The '50 largest files' tab is very useful, particularly if you run it against My Documents.

The best way to see how powerful it is, is to give it a go. And yes it is freeware!

Monday, 1 October 2007

Looking for help with a PC problem?

If you're in the UK and have a problem with your PC fixITlocal is a way of identifying a local company to talk to about the problem.

Taken from the fixITlocal website:

Whatever your IT problem we're here to help get it fixed! Every day fixITlocal IT specialists visit homes and businesses around the UK, setting up wireless networks, fixing PC crashes, installing software and peripherals - helping you get the most from your IT.

Your fixITlocal expert is part of a team of over 1,000 dedicated, trained professionals backed by the leading industry bodies. With call out and first hour costing just £49.99 it's easier and cheaper to leave it to the professionals!

Call our Home or Business User numbers now to be put in touch with the fixITlocal specialist closest to your location.

Just tried my postcode and there's someone about a mile away - not bad!

fitITlocal can be contacted on 0844 844 0004.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Mobile roaming

MAXroam has just launched its new SIM card that slashes the cost of calls when roaming.

How does it work?

1. Buy a MAXroam SIM.
2. Go to the MAXroam activation page and pick your local number.
3. Insert your MAXroam SIM into any unlocked GSM mobile phone.
4. Switch on your phone and wait about 90 seconds.
5. GO!


* MAXroam is €29.99 (includes €5 initial calling credit).
* When you first sign up you can choose a phone number for your SIM in the USA, France, UK or Ireland free of charge. You can add as many as 50 numbers to your SIM from any of the following countries.
* If you are from the US you can get free call forwarding from the Web to any number worldwide.
* Full online voicemail. If MAXroam customers miss a call, MAXroam sends a text message informing the customer the number that called and if the caller left a voicemail.
* If you don't have an unlocked phone MAXroam offers mobile handset unlocking.
* You can check your balance and top up on the web, or directly from your mobile phone using a pin code, credit card or scratch card.
* From the MAXroam SIM menu with you can manage your account.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Keeping safe online

Get Safe Online is a must for anyone using the Internet who wants to know more about online security. It has sections covering PC security, personal online security and security for businesses online.

The section on setting ground rules for children online is a good starting point for parents who want to allow their children to enjoy the Internet but are also concerned about the risks.

The Get Safe Online safety test is a bit basic but if you understand the points it covers you will be minimising the risks to you and your PC.

This video highlights the dangers of spyware and mentions McAfee SiteAdvisor at the end. The soundtrack is bit dramatic but its quite entertaining.

Thursday, 20 September 2007


In case you've missed it, the humble smiley :-) is 25 years old this month.

You can read more about its history here.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Online backups

I've just installed MozyHome Free on the family's laptops. 2Gb of free online storage per PC. Mozy runs in the background saving a copy of your data files online so if your PC suffers a catastrophic failure you can restore your data from Mozy's servers.

2Gb of storage space per PC is ample for us as long as music is excluded from the backup. If you want to backup a lot of music or photos you might find 2Gb is not enough.

I'm still using Carbonite to backup my own PC as I need unlimited storage space. I'm very happy with Carbonite but they don't offer a free option for small storage requirements.

If you're looking for unlimited online storage it's worth checking out both Carbonite and Mozy.

With free online storage available from a number of providers there's no reason for anyone with broadband not to use it!

With thanks to Derrick for mentioning Mozy to me.


I've persevered with ZYB but now have to officially give it the thumbs down. It's just managed to lose over a hundred of my contacts. It failed to upload them during a sync and then deleted them from the handset on the next sync. Fortunately I had a copy of them in Outlook, otherwise they would have been gone forever. I have raised the issue, plus some other bugs I've spotted, with ZYB but no one's bothered to respond. Clearly, losing a customer's data doesn't rate highly on the company's radar!

Monday, 17 September 2007

Mobiles on 3

If you are in the UK and looking for a new mobile phone contract, 3 has some great deals at the moment. For £15 per month you either get 250 minutes and 50 texts (£15 Talker) or 75 minutes and 600 texts (£15 Texter) plus a free handset. According to 3's website these deals are only available until 30 September and market rumours suggest they will be replaced with tariffs that don't include free handsets. I've just taken out two Texter contracts for the family with Nokia 6120 Classic handsets. The 6120 is a great Series 60 smartphone - good features, small size.

Other features I like about 3 include:
  • Online account management via your PC or handset to keep an eye on usage and expenditure
  • 3's web portal - Planet 3 - has some good content and there are no data charges unless you break out onto the Internet
  • Very competitive roaming charges
  • X-Series flat rate data tariffs
  • Windows Live Messenger

Friday, 7 September 2007

McAfee SiteAdvisor

McAfee SiteAdvisor is a browser plugin that warns you if the website you are looking at has any security issues. Installation is easy and the SiteAdvisor website automatically detects which browser you are using so you install the correct version. A simple indicator at the bottom of your browser shows the status of the website you are browsing. A great product that's free of charge.

From the SiteAdvisor website:

SiteAdvisor was founded in April 2005 by a group of MIT engineers who wanted to make the Web safer for their family and friends. Having spent one too many holiday breaks trying to clean a mess of spam, adware, and spyware from our families' computers, we decided to take action.

We realized there was a gaping hole in existing Web security products. While traditional security companies had gotten relatively good at addressing technical threats like viruses, they were failing to prevent a new breed of "social engineering" tricks like spyware infections, identity theft scams, and sites which send excessive e-mail.

To address this challenge, we built a system of automated testers which continually patrol the Web to browse sites, download files, and enter information on sign-up forms. We document all these results and supplement them with feedback from our users, comments from Web site owners, and analysis from our own employees.

Our easy to use software for Internet Explorer and Firefox summarizes our safety results into intuitive red, yellow and green ratings to help Web users stay safe as they search, browse and transact online. Our goal is to pioneer a new approach to Web safety and make the Internet safer for everyone.

On April 5, 2006 we announced that we were acquired by McAfee, Inc. Teaming with McAfee will give us greatly expanded worldwide reach, access to McAfee's leading security technology, and greater resources to accelerate feature development for our many users.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Online security

My favourite Internet security application has just been updated. F-Secure Internet Security 2008 is now out. I've installed it here and it's running fine. A couple of points to note - there is a licence option to cover three PCs at home which provides a cost effective way to legally cover more than one PC and there is an upgrade price if you already use F-Secure Internet Security 2007.

F-Secure Internet Security 2008 is of course compatible with Windows Vista.

According to the F-Secure website, F-Secure Internet Security 2008 features include:

* Protects your computer against viruses, worms, rootkits and zero-day attacks
* New proactive DeepGuard technology protects you against any unknown threats
* Stops spyware and hackers from entering your computer
* Helps you stay free from spam e-mail and phishing attempts
* Protects your children against unwanted Internet content
* Includes a web surfing time lock for children
* Provides the fastest protection against new virus outbreaks
* Security news
* Easy to install and use

NEW - F-Secure DeepGuard(tm) technology.
There is a new growing problem of fast-spreading targeted attacks or so-called zero-day attacks on the Internet, which cannot be detected with traditional security solutions. F-Secure DeepGuard(tm) is a new technology that gives you a proactive layer of security that protects you against any unforeseen threats. It’s like having your own private virus research lab inside your PC!

NEW - Web Traffic Scanning protects you against infected web sites.
Certain web sites can infect your computer even if you do not specifically download anything from these sites. Web Traffic Scanning protects you against this problem by scanning the HTTP traffic, blocking any malicious content from entering your PC.

NEW - redesigned antispyware and antivirus working together with F-Secure Internet Security 2007
introduces a further level of protection by combining award-winning real-time antivirus software (F-Secure Anti-Virus) with an award-winning realtime antispyware scanner.

NEW - enhanced Parental Control with individually configurable user profiles and Child Time Lock.
Parental Control blocks access to Internet sites with inappropriate content. The software can be configured to block Internet pages that reference weapons, drugs, gambling and pornography. There is also an option to completely disable access to certain sites. With the Child Time Lock feature parents can also define at what time of the day their children are permitted to surf the Internet.

NEW - enhanced Anti-Spam with E-mail based Antiphishing and Real-time blackhole list support (RBL)
Anti-Spam filters unsolicited email based on a Bayesian filter and the use of blacklists. The software also detects phishing attacks and filters them into a separate E-mail folder.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Create your own personalised ring tones

Voxtone allows you to create your own personalised ring tones and message alerts. Rather than just download a ring tone than anyone else can find, Voxtone lets you add a personalised voiceover to your ring tone than can contain your own name (or any other message). The ring tone is created as both a MP3 and a WAV file and can be delivered either direct to your phone or as a download to your PC (which you then copy to your phone). The PC option is much cheaper! Example ring tones and message alerts can be listened to here.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Riviera Radio

Riviera Radio, broadcasting in English from Monaco, plays a great selection of music, both old and new. As well as the usual Internet streaming feature to allow you to listen worldwide, you can also download a daily broadcast MP3 file so you can take Riviera Radio out with you on your MP3 player. Nice feature!

Sunday, 26 August 2007

File formats

Do you ever find a file on your PC and wonder what the file format is? FILExt has a comprehensive database of file extensions and formats.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Truphone InTones

Another cool feature from Truphone! Truphone has just launched customisable ringing sounds for your callers. Now you can choose the sound your callers hear from a selection of Truphone created sounds.

Core facts
  1. The choice of InTones is: Rock, Jazz, Bluegrass, Hip-hop, Ska, Disco, Euro house, Standard (plain 'ring-ring'), Truphone
  2. InTones are played by the Truphone servers before the call is connected. This means there is never any associated cost for either the caller or callee. It is similar to hold music, but without any cost.
  3. The Truphone InTone heard by callers can be changed easily (or turned off) via the customer's account page at
  4. The Truphone InTones are original compositions commissioned by Truphone from professional media and music consultants Nik Goodman and Dan McGrath, who specialise in TV and radio.
  5. Anyone with a suitable handset can get Truphone by sending an SMS with the word 'Tru' to +44 7624 000000.


James Tagg, Truphone's chief executive officer, said:
  • "Truphone InTones use the Internet to bring an enjoyable and free service to customers, typifying Truphone's fresh approach to mobile communications."

Google Earth

The latest version of Google Earth has a neat feature - it allows you to reverse the view from looking down at the Earth to looking up at the stars. Just click on 'View', 'Switch to Sky'.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

SMS Text News

SMS Text News is the best site I've found for keeping track of what's new in mobile. Ewan MacLeod does a great job commenting on new stuff and doesn't hesitate to tell it as he sees it! Well worth adding to your RSS reader.

Interesting new service from O2 in London.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

The Political Compass

Just back from summer holidays and thought I'd start with something a bit different - it's not a technology tip!

Have a look at The Political Compass. The old 'left' and 'right' political labels are a bit dated in today's complex political world. So where do you really stand on issues and how do you compare to some of the political figures in history? The test takes just a few minutes and the result might surprise you!

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Protect your Nokia if you lose it

has just launched a software application for Nokia handsets that lets you remotely lock the handset via SMS if you lose it. Just send a preset code to the handset and it's instantly disabled. There are two levels of lock - Lite lets you prevent any calls or SMS being made, Max completely locks the handset and prevents any functions being used, including access to your contacts. When you find your handset just enter your security code to access the handset.

Quick feature summary below:

Key Benefits
  • Protects your privacy by locking access to your mobile phone.
  • Protects your content and sensitive data stored on the handset or memory card. For example contacts, pictures, text messages, emails, passwords.
  • Can help eliminate your financial liability to mobile networks, by preventing unauthorised use such as outgoing voice calls, SMS, mobile Internet.
  • Protects the handset from use by unauthorised SIM cards – whether the handset is locked or not.
  • Assists in the prevention of identity theft.
General features
  • Easily activated.
  • Works on any network anywhere in the world.
  • The phone can be easily restored to its original settings if you find your phone.
Specific features - there are 2 types of Lock:

Max Lock – when you believe your phone has been lost or stolen and want total peace of mind
  • Blocks all incoming and outgoing activity such as calls, SMS, Mobile Internet activity
  • Disables the screen
  • Disables the keypad
  • Encrypts the memory card
Lite lock – If you have misplaced your phone and want to recover it by calling the phone
  • Blocks all outgoing activity such as calls, SMS, Mobile Internet activity
  • Allows incoming calls & SMS
  • Encrypts the memory card
The Process
  • Upon installing the application you set a personal private 6 digit PIN which is used to open, activate, de-activate and uninstall the application.
  • Upon loss or theft of the handset you text your personal 6 digit PIN number to your mobile number to activate a max or lite lock.
  • If a different SIM card is inserted into the handset a max lock is automatically activated – whether or not the handset has been remotely locked.

Using Devicescape with personal WiFi networks

When using Devicescape to share personal WiFi networks it removes the need to divulge your WEP or WPA encryption key to your 'buddy'. Devicescape automatically deals with the security, provided you share the network details with your buddy in advance (i.e. when they are online elsewhere) so their account updates with your networks details.

I've now installed Devicescape on several wireless PCS and my Nokia E65. Works perfectly so far.

Monday, 6 August 2007


Devicescape is a piece of software you install on your wireless devices (laptop, smartphone etc) that allows you to connect to wireless networks without having to login each time. It automates the process at public hotspots and allows you to share your home network with your friends.

By adding 'buddies' you build a community of shared networks. When you invite a 'buddy' they receive the following email:

"I'm using a great new service called Devicescape for easy and secure access to Wi-Fi at home, my friends' places and hotspots wherever I go. I no longer have to struggle with usernames, passwords, security keys and wireless settings in order to get online. Whenever I'm in range of Wi-Fi, Devicescape gets me connected automatically so I can quickly start surfing the web, downloading my email or using other online services. Since you're someone I trust, I've granted you permission to use my personal Wi-Fi network via Devicescape for convenient wireless access whenever you visit me."

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Truphone ring tone

The guys at Truphone have come up with a great idea to tell you whether your call is free.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007


WorldMate is a great smartphone application providing several utilities for travellers. World clocks, currency converter, local and world weather, weather announcer - and the great news is it's free. The Pro version adds realtime flight data and satellite imagery of the weather. It's worth installing for the local weather alone. Available for several platforms including Nokia Series 60 and BlackBerry.

Nokia Series 60 smartphones

A useful feature on Nokia Series 60 smartphones which isn't immediately obvious is the ability to task switch between running programmes. Press and hold the menu key (the one with the 'swirl' on) and a list pops up. Highlight to select the application or highlight and press 'clear' to exit the application.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Sat-Nav security

Satellite navigation devices, like TomTom, give you the option to set your home address in the device for easy destination selection. However if your device gets stolen then the thief knows where you live and if you're unlucky enough to have your keys stolen as well, you're in trouble! So, when you set the home destination, put in the details for the next street or perhaps a landmark in your street to keep your own address secret.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Recharge your battery on the move

The wide range of applications that smartphones (and other mobile devices) have to cope with these days puts a heavy strain on their batteries. It's clear that battery technology just hasn't kept pace with everything else. Proporta has come up with a brilliant idea that addresses this issue - the Proporta Mobile Survival Kit. This kit incorporates a battery that you charge via a PC USB port (or separate mains adaptor) which then holds enough power for multiple smartphone (or other mobile device) charges. Connectivity is via a selection of adaptors - some supplied & many others available. Although it means carrying around an additional device, you won't be left with a flat phone battery at a crucial moment.

Warning - new malware threat

If you get a message saying you've received an ecard from a friend - don't open it, delete it immediately. This is a real threat and not a spoof - I've received the emails myself. Further information from F-Secure.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Truphone pricing

Truphone has extended their free calls to 40 countries promotion until the end of 2007. All Truphone users who sign up before 30 September 2007 will get free mobile calls to 40 countries around the world until 31 December. If you have a Truphone compatible handset it's a great enhancement and money saver.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Barry Eisler

I've just come across Barry Eisler's books. Barry is a former CIA employee who writes thrillers about a half-Japanese, half-American freelance assassin named John Rain. Very compelling with plenty of gadgets - many of them lethal! There are six books so far in the series, starting with Rain Fall. The UK edition of Rain Fall has some nice touches at the back including some personal safety tips from John Rain and an excerpt from The Rough Guide to Tokyo. Highly recommended - I've just ordered the second book, Blood from Blood!

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Avoid phishing phone calls

The problem when you receive a phone call from someone purporting to be from your bank is how do you know if they really are calling from your bank. This gets particularly tricky if they start asking you questions to identify yourself and you're thinking 'but you called me - why should I give personal data to someone I don't know?'

One way to raise the level of trust in this situation is to give your trusted contacts, like your bank, a unique phone number to call you on, rather than your usual home or office number. You can do this by signing up for a FleXtel number and setting it to display the CLI (phone number) of that FleXtel number when you receive a call on it, rather than the CLI of the caller.

So your phone rings, you see 0870 xxx xxxx on the display and you know that's the number you've given to your bank. No one else has it, so unless it's a very random call from someone who correctly guesses you have an account with XYZ bank, the call is likely to be a genuine call from your bank.

You can also set your FleXtel number to send you an email showing the number of the caller which you can check later. Even 'withheld' numbers display part of the caller's number (minus the last three digits) allowing some identification (e.g. approximate location) of the caller.

And best of all ... this strategy doesn't cost anything because there is no charge for FleXtel numbers.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Fed up with unwanted telephone sales calls?

If you suffer from unwanted sales calls there are two key steps you can take. First make sure your number is ex-directory or unlisted. Call your phone service provider and ask them to remove your details from all listings. This is a useful step to prevent all types of unwanted calls, not just marketing related. Second step is to register with the Telephone Preference Service. The TPS is a UK organisation but other countries have similar organisations. The TPS operates an opt-out database that all companies making marketing calls must check their data against. Organisations with which you have an ongoing relationship are still allowed to call you provided they have sought your permission.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Truphone has done it again ...

Truphone just gets better and better. The new Truphone client (v3.0) is now available as a sneak preview. It's a step change in functionality from the previous version, now including SMS send, presence and Truphone over 3G. The SMS functionality now lets you choose whether to use Truphone or GSM to send SMS (with SMS to online Truphone users free). This means your SMS recipients will see your Truphone number, not your GSM number, as the sender. Another step in making your Truphone number a complete replacement for your existing mobile number. Presence allows you to see if other Truphone users are online. Once another Truphone user has agreed to share his status with you, you can see whether or not he is online. Truphone over 3G allows you to use Truphone even when out of range of WiFi. Just make sure you have a fixed price data tariff from your mobile provider.

Also worth mentioning is the excellent quality of Truphone's technical support, both via email & the Mobile VoIP forum.

Satellite navigation on a smartphone

I've just installed TomTom Navigator 6 on my Nokia E65 to turn it into a GPS navigation device. The software works well & is a cheaper alternative to a dedicated satnav device.

I've also subscribed to the excellent Pocket GPS World site which is an fantastic source of information on all things GPS. For a small subscription the site offers speed camera locations as a point of interest download - much cheaper than TomTom's own service.

Incidentally, my TomTom software was supposed to come with one month free access to their speed camera updates service. It's never worked and TomTom's email based support has been hopeless. A shame their support isn't as good as their products.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Spinvox - again

Picking up on my previous post about SpinVox, once you have a SpinVox account you can also use SpinMyMemo. You call a 0121 UK number from your registered mobile phone & leave a reminder message for yourself which is forwarded to your email account. There's no extra charge for SpinMyMemo and as it uses a 0121 number the call comes out of your inclusive mobile minutes (if you have them). Another reason to try SpinVox.

Thursday, 31 May 2007

Unlimited mobile data

If you are going to make use of mobile data - web browsing, Google Mail Mobile, Google Maps Mobile, ShoZu, WidSets etc, you do need a mobile tariff that offers unlimited usage to avoid nasty bills! 3's X-Series tariffs are great. Definitely worth switching to 3 from another network. You also get a selection of pre-installed applications including Skype, eBay, Windows Live Messenger and others.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Camera-phone photos

I've just discovered ShoZu. It allows you to send photos from your camera-phone direct to Flickr, Blogger, etc online. Brilliant! And best of all it's free ...

Receive your voice messages by text

Spinvox automatically converts your voice messages to text (SMS) and sends them through to your mobile phone. Much easier than having to dial in to pick up messages. You can sign up for a free 7 day trial here.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Another use for your camera-phone

Have you ever arrived back in the long stay car park at the airport and wondered exactly which row you parked in? When you park, use your camera-phone to snap a picture of the parking zone sign to use as an aide memoire when you return. In fact, your camera-phone is a great tool for recording the details of all sorts of things - stuff you see out shopping, wine labels, web addresses. If you send the photos to your Flickr account with a description and a tag to keep it private you can build up a useful information store. Go to the Flickr email upload page to find out more about uploading to your Flickr account by email.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Great value broadband

PlusNet broadband starts at £9.99 per month with a minimum contract length of only 1 month. There are advantages in staying with PlusNet for 12 months, like a free router and no set up fee, but the 1 month contract allows you to test the service before making a longer commitment. If you leave early you then pay for services that are free if you stay for 12 months. PlusNet offers a range of broadband options for light and heavy users, including Broadband Your Way that allows you to customise the package you receive so it exactly meets your requirements. There's also a helpful explanation as to what 1Gb of usage could mean in real terms so you can judge if that's likely to be sufficient for you.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Google Checkout - a reminder

Google Checkout is still offering £10 off purchases over £30 at selected sites. Just ordered some spares from Shaver Savers UK, part of a great family of websites, Savers UK.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Mobile phones and malware

On the subject of malware - if you're using a smartphone you really need to protect it as well. Again, I've been using F-Secure here, in the guise of F-Secure Mobile Security. Today's post in the F-Secure blog underlines the risks to mobile phones, this time from spyware - worth a read.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

A question ...

Do you receive your phone bills online or in the post? If you still get a paper bill what would prompt you to switch to an online alternative? Have you tried online billing and found it lacking? What online billing experience would you expect from your phone company? Post your comments ...

Malware hoaxes

I regularly receive forwarded emails from friends quoting some supposed malware (malicious software) threat to my PC. These invariably turn out to be hoaxes, of which the sender is another unwitting victim. Never forward these emails on without checking whether they are genuine - they very rarely are! A good source to check is the F-Secure Hoax Description Database. I'm a fan of F-Secure and use F-Secure Internet Security 2007 to protect my PC, with good results. The F-Secure blogs are a good way of keeping an eye on what's happening out in the malware world.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

More about Truphone

The Truphone user night was a great opportunity to meet the Truphone team. Another example of how open and honest the company is and I hope the first of many such occasions. There's some good stuff to come from Truphone and they're certainly a company to watch. Keep an eye on the Truphone blog for new developments.

Truphone's ability to seamlessly roam onto The Cloud's wireless hotspots is very impressive. I've used it on The Cloud's City of London mesh network recently with good results. What really makes it work for me is the way (after initially running the Truphone wizard) my Nokia handset will automatically register with the network with no requirement to enter login credentials. Another example of how Truphone seamlessly integrates with the handset. People just want a simple. straightforward calling experience - no separate application to launch, no codes to remember - and Truphone does this.

Interesting article in today's Sunday Times about the threat that VoIP poses to the mobile operators.

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