Tuesday, 18 November 2014

LOCAL? KEECH HOSPICE CARE NEEDS YOUR HELP!

Keech Hospice Care need our help, lets try out best to help them.

I'm posting this on behalf of Keech Hospice Care in Luton, who haven't asked for it to be posted. It's being posted as I personally have seen the work they do, through the support they gave my own Mother while fighting cancer.
Before someone asks why I don't do more than this blogpost I'll be clear on that. I'm overstretched right now! I'm working with Travel Choices and the organisers of Operation Santa to do a gift bike run for keech and also helping at the Keech Santa Run, on top of this, volunteer commitments and being a good carer, partner and father to my family I physically can't do much more without burning out. I wish I could do more. I truly meant that.
but as I can't let's get the word out,

If you can help I know the people who use the hospice will be eternally grateful for your help. Please contact Claire on 01582 497839 or email cmcinally@keech.org.uk for details. Please help us raise much needed funds for Keech this Christmas


Thank you to everyone who has already agreed to help us with Smiley Sam during the day and the evening however we still have a few slots that need filling, as you all know this is really important to both the general public who love to see the sleigh in their local supermarkets and visiting their streets and of course how important it is to the hospice in terms of the money it raises for us.
If I am unable to fill all the slots unfortunately some days will have to be cancelled which of course we do not want to do, so I am asking once again if there is any other days and times you could kindly help us with to ensure Smiley Sam makes it out both during the day and the evening.

We have slots for Drivers, Santa’s and Collectors and Coordinators, I will list the dates below, if you are able to help with anything then please get in touch, the coordinator role has a little bit more to it than just collecting but is a great job to do. I am happy to talk to anyone who would like to do this so you fully understand the coordinators role.

Thank you once again

Supermarket Collections

Driver pick up and drop off – Sainsbury’s Dunstable 29/11/14
Driver pick up and drop off – Tesco Dunstable 01/12/14
Driver pick up and drop off – Asda Dunstable 03/12/14
Driver pick up and drop off –Asda Dunstable 04/12/14
Driver pick up and drop off – Sainsbury’s Hitchin 05/12/14
Driver pick up and drop off – Sainsbury’s Bramingham 08/12/14
Driver pick up and drop off – Sainsbury’s Bramingham 10/12/14
Santa - Sainsbury’s Bramingham 10/12/14 10-12
Santa – Waitrose Hitchin 11/12/14 10-12 & 12-2
Collector - Waitrose Hitchin 11/12/14 10-12
Driver pick up and drop off – Asda Wigmore 12/12/14
Collector – Asda Stevenage 13/12/14 10-12, 12-2 & 2-4
Santa – Asda Stevenage 13/12/14 2-4
Collectors – Sainsbury’s Stevenage 14/12/14 x2 10-12, 12-2, x2 2-4 x1
Santa – Sainsbury’s Stevenage 14/12/14 12-2 & 2-4
Driver pick up and drop off – Tesco Leighton Buzzard 15/12/14
Santa - Leighton Buzzard 15/12/14 12-2
Collectors - Tesco Leighton Buzzard 16/12/14 x2 12-2 & 2-4
Santa - Tesco Leighton Buzzard 16/12/14 2-4
Driver pick up and drop off – Sainsbury’s St Albans 17/12/14
Santa - Sainsbury’s St Albans 17/12/14 12-2 & 2-4
Santa – Sainsbury’s St Albans 18/12/14 10-12, 12-2 & 2-4
Santa – Morrison’s Houghton Regis 20/12/14 10-12
Driver pick up and drop off – Asda Wigmore 22/12/14
Driver pick up and drop off – Asda Dunstable 23/12/14
Driver pick up and drop off – Asda Wigmore 24/12/14
Collector – Asda Wigmore 24/12/14 2-4

Evening Routes

30/12/14 Quantock Rise – 2 collectors
01/12/14 Lalleford Road – Coordinator
03/12/14 Poets Estate – Coordinator
04/12/14 Hedley Rise - Coordinator, Driver and 5 Collectors
05/12/14 Northwell Drive – Coordinator and 2 collectors
09/12/14 Leamington Road – Driver
10/12/14 The Saints – coordinator and 4 collectors
11/12/14 Ashwell Drive – Coordinator and Driver
12/12/14 Bushmead – Coordinator, Driver and 2 collectors
13/12/14 Wardown Crescent – 3 collectors
14/12/14 Austin Road – Driver, Coordinator and 2 collectors
16/12/14 Telscombe Way – Coordinator
17/12/14 Buckingham Drive - Driver and Coordinator
19/12/14 Farley Hill – Driver and Coordinator
20/12/14 Hill Rise – Coordinator and 7 collectors
21/12/14 Alexandra Avenue – Coordinator
22/12/14 Birdsfoot Lane – coordinator
23/12/14 Barnfield Avenue – Santa
24/12/14 Stopsley – coordinator and 5 collectors


Friday, 14 November 2014

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Please ignore this post - it's for a ownership claim issue

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Where are you?

Well I'm glad you should ask.

My most recent post is about the bike which seems like a repost, but oh well. I'm used to going around in circles here at IWC towers (note to self - replace the crappy DVI to VGA converter)

The last few weeks have been destined to fix things, enjoy having the kids at home and a few other bit's I can't mention but let's tell you what we've been up to since the half term, I warn you now it's been a bit of a lazy one!

We started with a lazy weekend then a trip to Luton for some Toby Carvery (as the staff are so child friendly there) and a visit to see the seeing the Book of Life at Cineworld Luton, the film was fantastic but the cinema was utter crap *yet again I was stupid to go here* the cleanliness of the place again leaves a lot of concern for customer safety This video I uploaded to youtube was only recorded once I'd reported the issue around an hour beforehand and subsequently ignored, considering there is a food prep area a few meters away and seeing staff go from the toilet to this food area is a grave concern for safe handling of food there. Tie in the times we've seen staff drag big bags of popcorn across the floor beforehand i'm kinda realising it may be no surprise why we've fallen ill here in the past.

The footage has been passed to Luton Borough Council's Environmental health and food safety team. I put my foot down we won't be going back, I'd rather go to Bedford, Milton Keynes or Leighton Buzzard cinemas than Luton again.

 Due to this I ended up not taking any photos of our day, with exception of this little gem while waiting for the bus home, so all was good due to the nice weather and sunset

People may slate the towns of Luton, Dunstable and Houghton Regis, but they are the communities I live within and I quite like them, even if some parts are quirky.




Since the grumps of the cinema we've just spent most of the weeks playing, encouraging the girls to try to cook as an essential life skill and a, confidence builder with both the girls helping make some cracking pizza's, meatballs and spaghetti and a Shepherds Pie too. Which were some of the most tasty things I've tasted in a long, long time. It could be down to the girls cooking it or something they did while cooking but it's encouraged and awesome! Especially when they know we love it!

I'll admit I'm not the crafty person I should be but that didn't stop us being creative, I've been tasked with building a toy hotel for the girls, and while it's taking a fair whack longer than expected it's grown from two floors and six rooms to 3 floors, 9 rooms and I'm still to complete the lift, coffee shop, swimming pool and train station with it's own three car class 319 train all being made out of card and hot glue, it's the girls who have to decorate it, bar the train. I'll do that. on top of this awesome creative mess of ultra coolness we've also been doing lots of drawing thanks to some amazing printable's we were sent by Aardman to celebrate the new Shaun the Sheep's Christmas Bleatings film. I kid you not, these have become a scrapbook staple, running me out of both toner and paper recently.


Baaa this (haha I made a not so funny) we've been out scooting, riding and generally having as much fun as this weird bunch can do over a half term, But on the riding and scooting we've been out more in the cold than the heat. Seriously Lissy loves jumping on her bike, even if it's getting too small for her now, it'll not be long before we get her a larger bike I can see it coming already a lot quicker than anticipated to the point I've found the next bike for her just have to save the pennies up.

It's not uncommon to have children who love the freedom of two wheels, but here in Lissy I see something different, special, one could say it's a future sign. On her bike, Pinkiepie she's already displaying levels of madness and ability to recover in positions many adults would admire and crash in similar situations. I salute her for this.
Best part of this I see, her penchant for photos, on a ride today she spotted the sunset and tells me to photograph it, Instagram to the rescue here.

We also made progress on the Imwellconfused radio server, All I've got to do is configure shoutcast if I choose to stick with what I know, trick the machine into thinking there is a connected screen 24/7 and grab some external testers of the server then she'll be good to go.
And for the geeks it's an old machine

Via EPIA 800 MINI ITX Mainboard
800MHZ (A) cpu
382mb ram
freedos on one hard disk (178mb - windows NT 3.51)
10gb hard disk running windows 2000 sp 5.2 unofficial (works with latest firefox builds and all up to date security patches)
usb 2.0 PCI card
120 watt PSU

So there's some of our mad few weeks, just to make the masses happy.

What have you been up to?

Monday, 27 October 2014

The three amigos #HalfTermFun

Well summer has been and long gone and the weather is being somewhat kind to us so far with fair temperatures, perfect cycling and scooting weather. and with that it's time for a proper introduction of the Three amigo's


Let's start with my youngest's bike.
It's an  Avigo Precious, to be fair a very lightweight starter bike for a child.
All I've done to this bike is upgrade the saddle to a Selle Royale Lollipop child saddle, LED lights for the night rides (I kid you not Lissy wants to night rides) and the darker nights drawing in we'll need them for the fairer school pedals









Next we have a Professional Blush, a repaired and recycled bike, It's the bike we'll be training Vee on and once riding independently we'll continue to turn this rusty unloved set of wheels into a fun little tool for a monster.

To complete this bike requires new brake pads, LED lights and chain cleanup or replacement and a Lollipop seat to make it comfortable for Vee


Lastly we have Gramps, an old Raleigh Outland steel bike, aged approximately 22 years old. Weighs a flipping tonne but has had an easy life, well until I got my hands on him that is.
Upgraded bars, brakes, shifters, crankset and wheel.




While these may be three bikes there may be a shimmer of hope for Naughtybike yet. We'll see soon but over the half term while we've got the weather I'll be on the bikes as much as possible with the girls. Even if we end up scooting just as many places It'll be fun and I'll hope to document some of it.


Edit: I've had the odd PM telling me the two children's bikes look like dreaded Bike Shape Objects, while this may be the case they both have a serious advantage to BSO's and that's their weight. For instance the other child bike we had weight far too much for a child to learn to ride on.
Sadly this is a common thing with cheaper bikes and there is nothing we can do unless manufacturers are willing to up prices a bit and make them with higher quality parts. That said, adult bikes have the same problem too thanks to cheaper processing plants and lower quality assistance, meaning more dangerous lumps of metal destined for landfill or the scrapvan.

While I would never tell someone what to buy  but with christmas around the corner and many companies will start selling utter junk cheap *happens every year* bikes I would urge you to take the following on board:

Don't buy customer returns or end of run products offered by companies like Stirling House (it was the damaged returned, patched and resell junk resale dept of Universal Cycles, trust me I have the scars to prove it!) Luckily Stirling and Universal and some of the once amazing bike brands were sold to Sports Direct, but looking at some of the bikes they sell it's clear they are not high quality. While there may be a few they are few and far between!

If you can go and look at the bike you're interested in purchasing. Touch and feel, the only way to tell if a bike will be too heavy, the seat offering no cushioning for growing bones and bottoms and whether things move as they should.

Ignore things like Suspension, or motorbike styles, all it does is weigh the bike down, unless it's a high specification £300+ child's mountain bike bought for a specific reason they won't need it,
similarly with twist grip gears, unless made by SRAM or Shimano they will be less than up for the abuse a child will give them and fall apart over time. (any components by Sunrace, Falcon or unbranded walk away from)

Sizing is important. Many bikes will be adaptable to a child for a few years and some for a lot longer due to the frame design, in this case it may be practical to by at one size which may fit all for a while. (I know some Ridgebacks and Islabikes have children's frames with this in mind)

If the child knows they are getting a bike, take them to be measured by an expert in a local bike shop, the more knowledgeable Halfords staff or go local with CycleLife independent retailers are a good place to start on this to get the best bike for your children.

One more thing. Don't think of it as "just a bike" for many kids they only ride a little bit but with the right bike they'll want to ride more and more, which helps keep them fit and healthy and cycling has been proven to make people happier than walking or driving (not a cycling vs driving rant) so it benefits you in many ways. If you want ways to get on your bike speak to me or anyone at Sustrans and we'll help you find places for you or your children to ride to the best of your current abilities. If you live in Central Beds and we get enough demand I'll see about organising a cycling day in Dunstable to show you what's available for all.

Paul

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Broadband Packages: Selecting the Right Deal

Achieving the best broadband deals is all about researching the market and finding the right package to suit your needs. The internet provider service market is wide open at the moment meaning more competition for your custom.
And because the competition is greater, you stand a chance of getting a better deal. The best way to see how service providers stack up pricewise is to compare broadband and phone deals online.
Image by Irish Typepad, used under Creative Commons licence.

The first step
Hitting the internet to weigh up your phone and broadband options will be your first port of call, but don’t forget to research those high street deals. Packages today are extensive digital television channels, mobile phones and broadband can all enter the contract. The major providers should be able to meet your needs whether you’re looking for a one-off service such as internet only or a multi-services contract. Decide first what you actually require from your provider and then begin to look at different prices and companies using a comparison website.
What sort of user are you?
If you’re only interested in getting online then you should be able to find some very low-cost deals. How much you use in terms of downloading will make a difference to price and if you want high-speed broadband you may have to pay a little more. If you’re not quite sure and just wish to try out browsing and surfing the web occasionally then go for an entry-level package. This shouldn’t incur a high monthly charge and although there will be limits on how much you can download you can always upgrade at a later date.
How big is your family?
The more people in your home using the Net, the higher your download limits should be. If you have more than two people in the home whoare intending to use computers or tablets then the unlimited download option will be the best bet. Unlimited packages are also great for streaming films to your smart television and are a cost-effective choice for those who play online games. Remember that if you’re going for an unlimited package this can include free landline calls and if mobile is part of the deal you should be able to put together a good inclusive minutes call plan.
What else should you consider?
Where you live will make a difference to your choice of internet service providers and the packages on offer. If you live in town or in a city centre you’ll have the widest range of providers available, but if you live in rural areas your options may be limited. It may also be the case that you won’t be able to obtain the latest high-speed broadband if you live in a remote area. But if you don’t use the internet often and are simply browsing the web you probably won’t need the fastest connections around and prices should actually be lower for a basic broadband package.
At the moment the internet service provider market is immense and it pays to shop around. Don’t rush in - take your time and research companies to find one that can meet your needs and always calculate the entire price you’ll pay over the contract length.

Disclosure - this post is produced in collaboration with Broadband Choices, 


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Throwback Thurday - Samsung E720

Hi all, today I want to go back in time nearly 10 years to a mobile legend.

The legend being the Samsung SGH-E720, for some it was an awful experience but to many the device was a pleasure and similarly to unlock freely with a menu or two.

Without further or do let's jump into the GSMArena specifications of the device


GENERAL 2G Network GSM 900 / 1800 / 1900
SIM Mini-SIM
Announced 2005, 1Q
Status Discontinued
BODY Dimensions 90 x 45 x 23.3 mm (3.54 x 1.77 x 0.92 in)
Weight 80 g (2.82 oz)
DISPLAY Type TFT, 256K colors
Size 176 x 220 pixels, 9 lines
  - Second external display OLED, 65K colors (96 x 96 pixels)
SOUND Alert types Vibration; Downloadable polyphonic, MP3 ringtones
Loudspeaker No
3.5mm jack No
MEMORY Card slot No
Phonebook 1000 x 12 fields, Photo call
Call records 30 dialed, 30 received, 30 missed calls
Internal 90 MB
DATA GPRS Class 10 (4+1/3+2 slots), 32 - 48 kbps
EDGE No
WLAN No
Bluetooth v1.1
USB Yes
CAMERA Primary 1 MP, 1152 x 864 pixels, LED flash
Video Yes
Secondary No
FEATURES Messaging SMS, EMS, MMS, Email
Browser WAP 2.0/xHTML
Radio No
Games 4 - Bobby Carrot, Airship Racing, Arch Angel, Freekick + downloadable
GPS No
Java Yes, MIDP 2.0
Colors Bronze
  - MP3/AAC/MP4 player
- Predictive text input
- Organizer
- Voice memo
BATTERY Li-Ion 800 mAh battery
Stand-by Up to 200 h
Talk time Up to 5 h 30 min
  Extended battery, Li-Ion 1000 mAh
Stand-by Up to 260 h
Talk time Up to 7 h
MISC SAR EU 0.66 W/kg (head)  

The phone was a typical but updated design for the current feature-set of Samsung mobile phones at that point in 2005 with impressive specs all round at a decent price point. with it's 1 megapixel image sensor and decent UI which only a few Samsung devices had the like for like UI including fonts and UX and OLED Screen which made it unique, at a time where OLED's were merely gimmicks.

my phone still works today bar the battery is shot, the keypad is dying and the casing is falling apart but it still charges, powers up can connect to the internet and take video and photos of somewhat good quality.

I'll not bore you too much but I will say I love the phone an awful lot. but it does have issues.

Pros: overall looks, easily unlock-able, smaf ringtones (MMF files) decent camera with flash.

Cons: t9/itap can't save due to memory constraints, low sound volume from ringing out and phone speaker on voice, non standard usb port with headphone jack, non standard charger (unless you had an LG 3g phone a few years later)


In all despite it's flaws it's the first contract handset to last me longer than 3 years, similarly with the Nokia e71 so with that  in mind it's one of only 2 I would permanently consider using again long term.

Paul

Monday, 6 October 2014

long term review - Doogee DG300 pt 1

I bought a new phone recently, but with a difference. It came from china, not just manufactured there but shipped direct too, I know what your thinking already an iPone or apple rip off, well strictly speaking it's not a rip off it does get it's looks from the Samsung product range

I bought the Doogee Dg300, also known as the ALPS Voyager DG300, what matters is the hardware to me and for £54.08 including postage (tip - spend a £4 more and get it fulfilled by Amazon's warehouses in the UK if you need it quickly) you get a bit more than the budget handsets sold directly in the UK. I warn you now be prepared to tweak a setting or two to work with your carrier/network (Vodafone, Sainsburys mobile and similar) I'll cover that in the next post for you.

Let's go to the specs for now  - Sorry it's not GSMArena slick this time

Model: DOOGEE VOYAGER DG300
Band: 2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
         3G: WCDMA 850/2100MHz
Sim Card: Dual SIM Card Dual Standby(one small and one micro SIM card)
Color: Black
Shell Material: Plastic
OS: Android 4.2.2
CPU: MTK6572, Cortex A7 dual core, 1.3GHz
GPU: Mali-400
ROM: 4GB
RAM: 512MB
Display Size: 5.0 Inch
Type: IPS, capacitive touch screen
Resolution: 960 x 540 pixels  Qhd
Screen Color: 260K Colors
Card slot - MicroSD
Cameras: Interpolated resolution of both 2.0MP for the front camera, 5.0MP  for the back camera (Non interpolated resolutions are 1.2mp front and 2mp rear)
WIFI: Yes, 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 2.0
Gravity Sensor: Yes
Multi-Touch: Yes, 2 point touch
Standby Time: We'll test that
GPS: supported with A-GPS With EPO
DOOGEE DG300 Mobile Phone Accessories:
1 x 2500mAh Battery
1 x Earphone
1 x USB Cable
1 x Charger
1 x User Manual


Now for those wondering who the frick are Doogee? (translated as “Dao Ge”) I would click here and learn about the brand, and while it's very different to how the Brits express themselves it's not broken English so top marks there.

The phone itself is a nice device on the larger side of things for budget devices but for it's price feels pretty sturdy in the hand for a plastic handset and seems to take well to a drop. (yeah less than a week of ownership and drop it!) it removed the effect from the plastic but does not affect operations.

The dual sim card functionality is useful, if you wanted a work and personal device it would do well.
so far WIFI and mobile internet seems to work well with no problems once configured.

While Android jelly bean is outdated thanks to kitkat and soon coming L/Lollypop there is no official update (CFW scene may help here) I have asked Doogee about this and will add it here if they respond which I'm sure they will.

Right I'll leave it here for now as I want to go more in depth next week
If you have any questions let me know and I'll strive to find out or investigate them.

Paul

P.S. Please do not post links to e-shops selling these devices in the comments. Spam is not permitted here and will be deleted.