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
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
Bluetooth v1.1
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
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.


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

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
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.


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.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Schools in (err, what?) #SchoolPedal

I know, we're meant to say school's out these days but for a group of bloggers school is definitely in.

Especially when it comes to sustainable transport. A group of bloggers and parents were talking via twitter and it caught my eye due to the subject of cycling and the school run and the fact next to nobody run's it unless you're late in the afternoon and the school will be miffed again! (we've all had those weeks? *bugger* Just me then?)

The school run is comprised of getting the kids to school in a decent time, (dejavu?) and doing it in a manner that stimulates your children for the fun or busy day of learning and fun ahead and to be fair it can be pretty boring strapping the kids inside the car or sat in the child trailer in my case, especially when it's too small now. That makes me really sad but it's progress i suppose!

See, I've gone off on a tangent again - Muppet. I joined the twitter chat for a while which seemed to last for days, while on and off it's gone from a let's get the kids to school without an engine to the #SchoolWalk #SchoolPedal and #SchoolScoot a way to promote cycling and scooting to school with the children, be it you scoot, cycle or walk. no matter who's riding it's still a fantastic way to get out and about and take in the crisp and fresh autumnal air, even if the air quality locally is worse than some parts of London thanks to the A5 but anyway ;)

GrampsBike - En Route to the Keech Star walk 2014 completed
that night, the last part arrived that afternoon!
And no - 7 lights is not overkill! ¬_¬
What makes this awesome for me is how I've just become a Sustrans volunteer with the CBC Travel Choices service, with the aim to start a school based cycle scheme for parents and including children once my training is completed to a higher level and as such I want to use the #SchoolWalk #SchoolPedal and #SchoolScoot ideas to create parent controlled group rides from set destinations to school,

for instance for children at School A have a set group who come from one side of town and another who come from the other side of town so 10 parents get together and arrange for children to scoot and pedal with the chain starting with the parents farthest away and the chain increases from there with parents joining at set points closest to the most convenient route. Similarly set on the way back.

While this will need future planning and risk assessments and health and safety input to ensure child and parent protection I see it could work fantastically well as a project to get more people using their bikes and scooters. Especially with Bikeability and Scootability courses designed for both children and adults and the possibility of other community based goodness too if all goes well!

One thing I will add is to ensure you've bright and have lights, even a front silicone one on a scooter at the least for the darker days and nights coming around the corner, my friend Liska at New Mum Online has some reviews on the clothes Aldi sent her as well as info on lights and special cyclist friendly deals at Aldi from the 25th, (I'll be popping in to see what I can buy tomorrow. my old speedo was from Aldi and I took it over the mileage clock twice. working out at around 20,000 Miles on one bike and I stupidly left on my old GT bike when it became a money pit.)

On thing I worked out last night was the savings riding, scooting and walking to school can quickly rack up, while I can only comment on public transport over driving it's still a large amount.

For instance, a Luton and Dunstable Arriva day ticket costs £4.30, A weekly ticket is £17.00 Whereas a HipHop Day ticket (use on all Arriva and Centrebus services and some Grant Palmer services) is £4.60 for a day ticket and £18.50 for a weekly ticket.
For clarities sake I've not included monthly and yearly tickets yet as I want to confirm the prices and any proposed increases before working them out. They will come soon.
Now if you use the bus 6 days a week, all year it will cost a maximum of £1341.60 or £1435.20 for a hiphop day ticket.

Similarly weekly ticket costs come out to £884 and £964 throughout the year.

Potential savings of £800+ are not to be sniffed at in my opinion, and that includes maintenance of bikes or scooters.

If you want to join in with the project let us know in the comments, with blog posts I'll happily share with everyone and add to the post also. Also If you can't scoot or pedal to school we can help find bike confidence courses for all levels to complete learners to advanced riders who need to wind their necks in a bit (oh wait, that's me again)

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Upcoming review Doogee DG300 phone

Evening all

Very soon I'll be getting my hands on the Doogee DG300, it appears to be a bit of a clone of the Samsung Galaxy s4, with a lot cheaper specs.

I'm awaiting it to arrive from china any day now (Amazon, free UK shipping many assume means ships from the UK, not SHIPS FROM FECKING HONG KONG!! Especially when the trader has a valid UK Tax registration number - be more clear on that! Free Shipping from HONG KONG would be better wording.)

The image above is what it should look like. We'll see soon. But I do want to say now. I won't be trusting the charger as it's probably the cheapest part of the whole package, but will tear said charger down in the future to see how safe it is and possibly send it to Dave jones on the EEVBLOG or Mike from Mikes Electrical stuff to see if it would pass their scrutany or minimal UK or Australian standards  (here's hoping)

I'll also be doing an unbox video if I get time too, but this is going to be a daily driver until December when I can upgrade (I can do so now but want to wait for christmas deals from Vodafone!) Also my Ascend G300 is kaput thanks to EMMC issues (thanks Hynix) and out of warranty! oh well!

My thoughs coming up soon!


Silly Daddy moment - Maths

I'll admit now this is a silly moment post and also My name is Paul and I suck at mathematics and really, REALLY suck at reading emails.

I've been working with both the school and local parent support teams to help support my children get on in their education in whatever way I can possibly do. While discussing ways to help it was mentioned there was a local course to enable parents to understand the way children do Mathematics in school. I assumed it was a one or two day short session and thought no more about it. This was my fatal flaw.

I was emailed the information, forgot to look at it despite flagging it for checking over and still forgt about it, including the date of the course.

Roll on to today and I recieve a message saying the course starts at 1PM, this is no problem as the day was a bit lazier than normal, then the silly moment come around.

"Welcome to this five week course on....."  Well bugger me, that'll teach me to check my flippin emails.

Monday, 22 September 2014

The Pro-Tect Home alert review Pt1

Hi all,

over the last few weeks I've been reviewing the new Pro-Tect Home alert intruder alarm system, with the initial thought on doing a two post review, however on trying to write this post it became clear I'll re-visit it in the next week or two but this post is my first thoughts tied in with the fact I've been using it for just over a month now. Let's get to it! 

The Home alert system is an easy to install wireless home security product which comes in multiple configurations which can be expanded at any time you deem fit to do so with up to 18 devices on a single hub, these configurations include panic buttons, medical assistance pendants, smoke detectors and more all with 24 hour assistance on hand from NSI's gold monitoring service, that alone sounds like a good thing. Let's hope I never have to find out, unless we compose an experiment!

If you excuse the somewhat messy kitchen side and slightly failsome tripod position I've taken the time to unbox this bad boy on camera for you.

The configuration of Pro-Tect Alarm system I was sent for review is the same as the retail Home Alert System comes with the following

1 x Pro-Tect alarm system hub

2 x Intruder alarm Control Fob / Panic Button

2 x Burglar alarm Motion Detectors and fixings*

1 x Intruder alarm Door Contact and fixings*

1 x Telephone Cable

1 x Mains Cable

1 x Double Telephone Connector and ADSL Filter

Additionally you also get both screws, wall plugs and sticky pads for versatility and batteries for system hub backup, motion detectors, keyfobs and door contact sensors.

In my opinion the instructions are onto a winner already here with clear and concise installation instructions and essential registration and warranty documentation to make installation and paring a breeze thanks to the clear instructions.

Now let's look at the system itself.

The hub is a white and translucent plastic device with an attractive orange logo on top of it, the translucent portion of the hub hides the status LED's. Underneath houses the backup battery compartment and control/volume buttons. While the rear of the hub houses the power and telephone jacks.

The telephone jack could be confusing as the device has what seems to be an Ethernet jack, but also connects to a UK telephone line with no problems,

I asked my daughters what they thought of the hub and in their own words "It's cute dad, can we play with it?" Usually I find their enthusiasm for tech a scary thing but for them to think it's cute means Pro-Tect have done a good job in designing the Hub as many would assume it's just a funky broadband router, I've been asked by my father in law why we have two routers next to each other. Which also means it would fit in many homes without looking like a security system.

The Keypad is a simple arrangement with Out, In, Panic and Sleep buttons, to operate them you hold the required button down for two seconds to prevent you from sitting on the fob and triggering the alarm. This in itself is a good call but can be a pain if you don't realise you have to hold it down.

The PIRs and door sensors all work as you'd expect them to and do a fine job too.

The Pro-Tect Home Alert system on a whole has a very impressive and versatile feature set nestled within a small package, especially with the easy setup and additional expansion via pairable add-ons mean to me it's perfect for smaller and larger homes and flexible around the needs of the home owner and residents.
ut most were easily sorted by contacting Pro-Tech's support team. What I did find very refreshing with their tech team is how happy they are to say if they find a problem and fix it, I'll get on to the reasons behind this in the next post but it satisfied me as a whole with the company and the product.

I'm going to leave the review here for now as I have lots to talk about in part two including technical details and demonstrating how the system works in greater detail and I'll even simulate a panic alert to see how the monitoring works while recording.

The way things are going it will be up in the next week or two

Meanwhile if you have an questions about the system please let me know and I'll do my best to respond to them all, and If I'm unsure of the answer I'll ask Pro-Tect Directly.