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.

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