Saturday, 19 June 2010

Nokia phones? I'd rather stick blunt pins into my eyelids - a purely personal perspective

This is a purely personal view, fuelled by three months of frustration and bile. I'd actually be really interested in other peoples' feedback - is it me or is it Nokia and a complete lack of customer care?

For many years I was a devoted Nokia mobile phone user. From the real bricks to the - was it a 5200? A phone which I accidentally dropped on my hardstanding as I got out of the car, watching in horror as my screen, battery & the rest all flew in different directions. And which I was able to put together after a few moments fiddling and with a huge sigh of relief. A phone that had a great battery life, that always worked - a Prince among mobile phones. I still have and use a Nokia regularly - though not quite as old a model as that. I use it with local SIMS when I'm abroad - it texts, it makes and receives calls, it's got a flashlight for all those strange twists and turns in an unknown village - what's not to love about that?

However, in the real 9 -5 world of the UK, I got seduced by Sony Ericsson. Mainly because a very trendy colleague was moving onto the very latest model and offered me her old (twelve months old) one. After about a week of struggling with a different(non-Nokia) way of doing things and a lot of manual reading I was in business! Me and my SE faced the world - together! The two of us had a number of happy years together (it's still tucked somewhere in a drawer in my study) and then I decided to modernise - to the latest (at that time) SE. Again, many happy years followed until iPhones and Smartphones hit the scene. Being by nature cheap, I went for a Chinese Smartphone - I still haven't sorted out how it works although it continues to ring regularly on my TWO sim cards. Seeing that 3 were giving away free sim cards and talking about free phone calls on Skype (I told you I was cheap) I got a free 3 PAYG simcard - which worked in my old SE but that was (the SE I mean), unfortunately, incompatible with Skype.)

Going into a 3 shop one day, with the original intention of buying a £10 PAYG top-up voucher, I made the fatal mistake of asking 'So, what sort of deals have you got on offer at the moment?' Faster than a jackdaw at a diamond ring, the salesman was IN. In fairness, I cannot blame him, it was me - he answered the questions I asked and asked me questions about text and call usage and I ended up coming out of the shop with an 18 month contract and a Nokia 5230. The contract is a good deal, I'm very happy with it and will probably take out another contract with 3 when it finishes. The 5230 is very good for texting - with a virtual QUERTY keyboard (if you want it) and makes and takes calls sucessfully. You can also use it for Skype calls - as my grown up kids live away this is GOOD. HOWEVER...... I live a busy life but am very disorganised and find it hard to keep track of appointments, meetings etc. SO, I key all my appointments into my laptop on Outlook and my old SE had an application called SE PC Suite that copied all my contacts, deadlines and appointments onto the phone so that when asked, in the middle of a meeting, if I was available on such-and-such a date, I checked my phone and could answer immediately (and accurately) that I was - or wasn't. So this was a question I asked the salesman - could I copy appointments from my PC onto the phone? Oh yes, a disk comes with the phone..... Off I trotted, happy as a pig in the proverbial.

Until that is, I started checking and discovered that the 5230 now pairs up with an application called Ovi rather than with an application called PC Suite and Ovi is all singing and dancing and trendy - for the under-tens I imagine - and is not at all interested in your Outlook appointments. By chasing around Forums and Googling like a demented gibbon I discovered that Nokia PC Suite, although meant for older Nokia models can be loaded onto the 5230 and will work successfully on it. However, as someone else out on one of the Forums complained - to get the most out of your 5230 you need both PC Suite AND Ovi, although the 5230 documentation only talks about Ovi and presents it as the replacement of PC Suite.

However, life was about to get worse - much worse. One of the selling points bigged up by Nokia for the 5230 is/was free sat-nav maps and directions for life from Ovi. I managed - not without problems - to load up a version of Ovi Maps (think that's what it's called) - one that placed me round the corner living on another street.... However, a lot of it was accurate and as I wasn't actually using it as a sat-nav I could live with that. Today I got a text from Nokia inviting me to download the latest version to increase the speed - 'faster performance and more accurate positioning'. Always a glutton for punishment I started - to eventually be told that my memory was full and I needed to clear something out and that it couldn't be installed. Funnily enough, on subsequent re-tries, I was told that the new version was already installed - and, incidentally searching for where I am, I discovered that I'd moved about a mile away (more accurate?). My originally supplied document omitted any mention of what I could do to clear memory so - off to the Forums. Here I discovered that I needed to 'clear the cache'. Another half an hour or so and I discovered a) what that meant and b) how to do it - with thanks to the members on the various forums who had contributed to this. I then got a message that the installation was 'unable to delete file'. Yes, thank you, give me a clue here - perhaps the initial of the file you're unable to delete if you don't want to be too helpful and give the complete name? No? OK - should I delete each and every file on my phone in the hope of eventually selecting the correct one? Life as a 5230 owner went steadily downhill from there with weirder and weirder messages appearing that made no sense whatsoever and the application being totally unable to contact the existing files on my 5230. It's beginning to feel like the Chinese iPhone again - and its instruction manual. I've just left it, I'm going to go into 3 next week, complain bitterly that it's 'not fit for purpose' and ask for an exchange for another make.

My overall complaint is that there is no one piece of documentation nor one Nokia-funded site (and I think this is quite important because after all they're the people who are selling this piece of rubbish and are making a nice profit out of it too) that can guide you through all the pitfalls and all the 'best practice' of getting a 5230 that actually does do what it's meant to do. Maybe it's because they sell to so many different countries? Don't know but I never had these problems with SE who, presumably are also international sellers. Could it be that like Microsoft at one stage, Nokia are beginning to believe their own publicity? Until people started moving to Apple and Linux that is. Each to their own preferences and this blog entry has been a very personal rant of frustration but I, personally, will never, ever buy another Nokia phone.


Despite my best intentions, I didn't get into a 3 shop after my recent rant. Instead, I received a message that there was a new firmware release available for the 5230 - ever the gullible, I downloaded & installed it. The phone still worked so in a moment of unwarrented optimism I wondered whether the new firmware might allow me to download & install the long promised 'sat nav for life' - NO!

Eventually, I was down in my local town last week so I went into the 3 shop & had a bit of a moan. The helpful assistant offered to try & download the application for me - he got the same result as me. He suggested that I leave it with him for an hour or two and he would look at it again, offering a worst case scenario of returning the phone for repair. Naturally, it turned out to be worst case. However, he didn't have a phone he could loan me so he suggested returning it to another 3 store where they would be able to lend me a phone. After almost an hour trailing through the backed up traffic I was seriously fed up. The phone has gone for repair - with dire warnings that if I'd dropped it or got it wet I would have voided the guarantee & would be responsible for any repair bill. They also could loan me a phone - I've used it once & am beginning to consider whether or not I actually need a mobile except when I'm abroad.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

A New Beginning?

Back in April I blogged about how intimidated I felt on returning to my homeland & being greeted by three 'layers' of officialdom at a small provincial airport. I have escaped to Europe again but my return this time was not so depressing.

Landing at Innsbruck on my way out, we were once again met by the lone security guard checking our passports, with a polite 'Danke' as he handed it back. Thereafter I spent a week in small Tyrolean villages where bars allowed smoking. Although smoking was forbidden in the hotel rooms, there was a balcony which held a table & chairs and an ashtray. Like Spain, it appears that the Austrians acknowledge the EU but obey its rules (or not) as they see fit.

On a trip to Germany, we were advised to carry our passports but there was no perceptible border (Schengen?) & we never needed to use them. In Austria I saw a police car travelling through one of the villages - no other police presence. In Germany, police on the beat were more common but they seemed to be more 'keeping an eye on things' rather than anything else. Returning home I had already warned my travelling companion of what to expect. Yes. the zigzag was still in place, yes the three desks were still in place but they were fronted by a smiling young lady who asked if we'd travelled together & suggested we should go to a desk together. Here again we were greeted with a friendly smile and a polite 'Thank you' on completion. Beyond the desk, the way lay open to the luggage retrieval area. Is this the effect of the new government? If so - good for them. It was a much more friendly experience than the one I had at Easter and I really felt I was returning to a 'new' country.

The one sign of my earlier trip was the notice 'remove your passport from its cover....' without any 'Please' or 'Thank you'. I expect to be travelling though that airport again very shortly. This time I'll be carrying a black marker pen & I shall print a big 'PLEASE' at the top of the notice & an equally large 'THANK YOU' at the bottom.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Just a few questions. Mr/Ms Candidate

YouTube - The Crow on The Cradle

A friend of mine sent me the following by email today:

Thought you might find the following useful if any candidates visit you:

1. What is in your manifesto concerning the State Pension? – we receive amongst the lowest state pensions in Europe and are well below the national poverty level of £165. 00 per week.

2. What is in your manifesto about single sex wards in hospitals?

3. What is in your manifesto regarding free UK wide travel on all forms of public transport (buses, trams, and rail) for OAPs, to encourage independence and greater mobility, as well as helping the environment and reducing demand on care services?

4. Why are we still sending our soldiers to Afghanistan and Iraq when it is none of our business? The terrorist threat is here in England.

5. What is in your manifesto about getting rid of the regional assemblies?

6. What do you propose to do about the broken promises made by Gordon Brown and Tony Blair? –

Pensions in line with Europe;

No means testing for pensioners;

Further education for everyone;

Cutting crime;

More NHI dentists.

7. Tony Blair said in his election speech that he did not want to live in a country where people had to sell their homes for health care – where do you stand on that?

8. Where do you stand on MP's and councillors’ salaries, pensions and expenses?

I wouldn't have thought of asking many of those questions - I will now!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

A future fair for who,Gordon?

Gordon asks us to look at his achievements. Where? What? Bankrupting the country?

A future MORE than fair for those MPs accused of fraud over their expenses as taxpayers will pay all their legal fees

A future more than fair for this family too

A future not so fair for the families facing Gordon's 'secret tax'

Labour's unfair use of NHS employees' email addresses to try & force them to sign a pro-Labour petition

Labour's unfair use of personal NHS data to send alarmist mis-information

Perhaps a future not so fair for pregnant women in Britain?

These people don't think Labour are providing 'a future fair for all'

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Welcome to Britain?

I've been out of the country over Easter - only to other EU countries - but the sense of freedom there is fantastic compared to the UK.

I started off by flying into Valencia, Spain. Heading for Passport Control I lined up to show my passport to one lone security guy in a kiosk & then walked to pick up my bags from the luggage hall. That was it - security checks over - the pleasures of Spain and the rest of Europe lay open at my feet.

Over the weekend I saw very few police and didn't see any drunkeness or fighting in the streets either. I went into both smoking & non-smoking bars. Over there, despite the grip of the EU, freedom of choice still exists.

I flew back into a small local UK airport, negotiated about 10 zig zags to reach the entrance to 'Security'. This was represented by three men & women in white shirts/dark trousers that we had to show our passports to. Behind them were 3 or 4 big blokes in suits standing with their arms folded. Behind THEM were about 8 - 10 men & women in black or navy outfits standing across the entrance to the luggage hall. Big notices 'Remove your passport from any folder' - obviously the mother of whoever designed these notices forgot to teach him/her the basics of British good manners and the use of the word 'Please'. Another round of notices saying it was 'forbidden' to take any photographs - the mantra of 'Nothing to Hide, Nothing to Fear' doesn't seem to apply to officialdom being observed by us plebs.

When we went into the luggage hall, the men & women in black/navy continued to circulate around that area eyeing the passengers up and down. They had flash tags on their uniforms which I think said either 'Border Agency' or 'Border Control Agency'. Looking back, I saw one passenger who had been 'passed' by the passport checking person being stopped & pulled to one side by one of the blokes in suits - he was subsequently allowed to continue into the luggage hall.

Amongst the passengers were some ex-pats returning for a visit - they made some very scathing remarks and I don't imagine they'll be visiting again any time soon. 'Nothing to Hide, Nothing to Fear' is the great Labour mantra. I had nothing to hide but I certainly felt I had something to fear in that a supposedly democratic country considers it's quite OK to greet visitors to the UK and its own citizens in this impolite and intimidating manner. The airport is in a supposedly tourist area. As a tourist I would have been repulsed by my initial sight of the UK. I doubt I would ever bother to visit again. Why not visit and spend my money in a country that welcomes me with smiles and open arms?

As a resident, I looked around and felt a wave of depression sweep over me at the thought of what Britain has become under Labour and its totalitarian Socialism/Communism. Will May 7th bring any good news with it?

Friday, 26 February 2010

Eleven Million Voters Can't Be Wrong

Pension Decrease April 2010

When Alistair Darling gave his Pre-Budget Report he said that State Pensions would be rising by 2.5% in April. He omitted to mention that the rise would apply to the basic element of the Pension only and not to any contracted out payments/SERPS, or any graduated benefits.

Local Pensioners' Groups, in partnership with the National Pensioners' Convention have decided it's time for the worm to turn and are sending the letter below to Alistair Darling.

If you're a pensioner or you've got family or friends affected by this - please get involved & contact Alistair. Together we CAN bring about change. There's eleven million votes in it........

Rt Hon Alistair Darling MP
Chancellor of the Exchequer
HM Treasury
1 Horse Guards Road

Dear Chancellor

As a pensioner in receipt of graduated pension and/or SERPS I am writing to express my anger at your decision not to uprate this part of my state pension in April 2010.

Some years ago the Government committed itself to a guaranteed 2.5% minimum increase in the state pension, and your decision to only award this to the basic element is both unprecedented and extremely damaging. Furthermore, when making your pre-Budget statement in the House of Commons you did not make it clear that this year’s increase in the state pension would only be partial.

Millions of pensioners in receipt of an additional pension rely on this to maintain a modest standard of living, and believed that when contributing to SERPS they were entering a contract that would guarantee an additional pension that would be subject to an annual increase. You have now reneged on that contract and as advocated by the National Pensioners Convention, I urge you to reverse your decision in the forthcoming Budget.

Yours sincerely

Now you see it, now you don't

I've got your money

So Gordon Brown feels he can laugh about a £500bn bailout of the banks? But guess who's paying for it and guess who helped get us in this disastrous situation?

I'm sure I heard on the radio this morning that every radio, TV & news media company were poised with bated breath expecting Gordon Brown to finally announce the 2010 General Election date over the weekend.

I've been listening again since I got home this afternoon - zero, zilch, nada.

Did I dream it or has Mr Indecisive bottled out again?

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Remember Dunblane?

At the time of the Dunblane shootings there were all sorts of rumours that it and the perpetrator, Thomas Hamilton were linked to a paedophile ring right at the heart of the Establishment and this was why some of the files were to be sealed for 100 years.

Be that as it may, there have now been more disturbing stories about child abuse in Scotland, particularly from a young woman called Holly Greig, who claims she was abused, as a child, by an Aberdeen paedophile ring and attempts to cover this up by the authorities - culminating, just before the weekend in the arrest of an investigative reporter - who was doing just that - investigating. Here is what he has to say (this video has now been pulled by YouTube, however you can still see it at Fausty's ).

Old Holborn & Dark Lochnager have blogged about this much better than I ever could - read their accounts, follow their links and see what action you think needs to be taken.

UPDATE 27/02
The Palestine Telegraph is running with this story.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Tears of a Clown?

It is a long time since I have been so angry with any politician's action as I was after reading about Gordon & Sarah sobbing publically on TV about the death of their baby daughter and their son's ill-health.

Are there no depths that this self-serving couple will not sink to in an attempt to gain sympathy and votes from the public?

The death of a small child is always tragic for the parents and they do have my condolences for that - but to use that death as a vote catcher beggers belief.

Don't forget, this was the man who said his family were private and off-limits - until he needs some extra votes to continue his 'fat-cat' lifestyle it seems.

If this subject is really so gut-rending for Gordon and Sarah surely they would have told Piers Morgan beforehand to avoid the topic completely? Or even said, in response to his first question on the subject, that they didn't wish to talk about it?

Instead they charged in, tear ducts at the ready to publically wallow in the topic. Vile and disgusting.

'Tears for Socialism' seems to be all the rage this weekend with both the Browns and Alasdair Campbell bursting into tears on TV.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Justice? What justice? I see no justice.

With the Chilcot Inquiry well under way and with most of the cast of 'villains' having already made their appearance - and escaped unscathed - I'll leave it up to each person to decide which 'economies of the truth' graced the Inquiry.

However the video may jog your memory.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Eric Pickles Enquires?

'Borrowed' this from Old Holborn (politicalspeak is SO easy)! Now who do you think is being 'economical with the truth' here? Peter Watt, Eric Pickles or Gordon Brown? I know who my money's on - and it ain't either young Peter or the gentleman from Ongar.

The Prime Minister
10, Downing StreetLondon,

February 2010

Dear Mr Brown,

At Prime Minister’s Questions today, you told the House of Commons that you knew nothing about the secret fund, worth a reported £50,000, which was held by the Labour Party for your benefit.

When asked why you did not declare this on the Register of Members’ Financial Interests (RMFI), you said specifically: ‘I know nothing about what he [the questioner] is talking about.’

This simply cannot be true.It is clear from Peter Watt, the Labour Party’s former General Secretary, that you were the beneficiary of a secret fund held by the Labour Party. He has said explicitly:‘Before becoming Prime Minister, Gordon went to some lengths to insulate himself and the Treasury from our financial troubles, setting up his own personal pot of cash at party HQ. This was money we could not dip into, since it was set aside for the Chancellor’s own pet projects. Murray Elder helped secure donations from the Chancellor’s supporters’ (Inside Out, January 2010, page 105).He went on to claim that it may have been used to finance your ‘long-term campaign to become party leader’ (Inside Out, Peter Watt, 2010, page 105).Mr Watt’s assertions were widely reported. Indeed, across several pages in the Mail on Sunday, Mr Watt claimed that you used ‘up to £50,000-a-year of Labour money to pay for private polling’ (Mail on Sunday, 17 January 2010).The allegations were explicitly confirmed as truthful by a Labour official who said in the same article: ‘It [the fund] was funded through donations to the Party.’

In the light of these allegations, my colleague, Greg Hands MP, wrote to you more than two weeks ago, on 17 January, to query why you had failed to declare the fund properly the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. This letter was publicised in several newspapers on 18 January. As you did not respond, Greg Hands submitted a complaint to John Lyon, the Parliamentary Commissioner this week. I attach a copy of this complaint for your reference. Again, this complaint was reported.

Yesterday in a speech titled ‘Transforming Politics’, you said that you would ‘do all that is necessary to restore trust’ in politics and the conduct of MPs. If you wish to restore trust in politics, you should stop treating people like fools by claiming that you were unaware of this fund when all the evidence points to the contrary.

I therefore urge you to admit to this fund’s existence, apologise for misleading the House and co-operate with any inquiries that John Lyon may wish to make.

Yours sincerely,

Eric Pickles

Chairman, The Conservative Party

Member of Parliament for Brentwood and Ongar

What will the outcome be? My money (sadly) is on it being swallowed up in the black hole that passes for 'transparency' in Westminister these days. The Sunlight Centre for Open Politics had already made an official complaint to John Lyons back in mid-January h/t Guido and nothing appears to have happened.