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.

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