* Posts by Fihart

1156 posts • joined 3 Jun 2008

Hold the phone! Crap customer service cost telcos £2.9 BEEEELLION in 2016


EE another PAYG price increase


T Mobile/EE -- from March 15p per text, calls 35ppm.

Three Network, 2p per text, calls 3ppm.

How Lexmark's patent fight to crush an ink reseller will affect us all


major cause of landfill

I have lost count of the number inkjet based printers and printer/scanners I have seen dumped on the street locally. I suspect that most are there because owners are fed up with the price of ink.

I routinely try to intercept friends thinking about buying a printer and bully them into buying a laser printer -- leave photo printing to those machines in pharmacies and specialist photo stores which produce better results.

Customer: BT admitted it had 'mis-sold' me fibre broadband


Re:charging for unused phone @d3vy

"I know I could switch to one of the providers who have started doing this recently (like vodaphone)......"

My understanding is that firms like Voda and Talk Talk, who claim to have abolished line rental, have merely bundled it with broadband charge and raised prices to the same level as before, or more.

Plusnet? More like Plus-naught: Mobile data on the fritz for days for some unlucky punters


Yeww !!

Read that as Pusnet.

Another part of the putrefying BT network.

Crumbs. Exceedingly good cakes, meat dressing price hike in wake of the Brexit


Nothing to see (or eat) here...

A glance at a shot of Premier Foods' product line reassured me that any price increases would not affect me one jot. To take your example of Mr. Kipling -- he does make exceedingly over-sweet cakes.

I once read that many of the extra ingredients listed in factory-made cakes were there to prevent the mixture sticking to the machinery and the rest were there to prolong shelf-life.

TCL vows to keep BlackBerry alive


What's not to like ?

Android preferable to iPhone or the older BB systems. QWERTY keyboard (as my brother says, typing on iPhone is like elephant dancing on pinhead, with similar chances of errors).

Hopefully price and distribution won't shoot this BB in the foot.

Why does Skype only show me from the chin down?


@ Paul Renault

God, the number of PSUs I've had to take apart to replace the 2 cent fan that's usually in there, squealing as its bearings die from the inevitable dust ingress.

In the past, some computer builders used Papst motors which were pretty much indestructible -- but that was back when PC were priced in $thousands not $hundreds.

Don't panic, friends, but the Chinese navy just nicked one of America's underwater drones


Message to all Chinese naval commanders.

"The U.S. trade deficit with China was $365.7 billion in 2015 This is a new record, up slightly from last year's record of $343 billion. The trade deficit exists because U.S. exports to China were only $116.2 billion while imports from China hit a new record of $481.9 billion.21 Nov 2016"

So don't rock the boat.

Brexflation hits Lenovo's Phab2


It's a Marmite moment.

Brexploitation first surfaced (in my field of view anyway) with those buggers at Unilever causing an increase in the retail price of a big Marmite jar from £4 to £4.50, provoking outrage at Tesco.

Interestingly (or not depending on your taste for savoury spreads), Sainsbury's seemed to stop stocking that size almost immediately and their boss made a point of saying that they'd maintained the old price on smaller packs. Waitrose just went on selling it at £4, though perhaps their upmarket customers simply don't much stoop to such low foodstuffs and price will rise as new stock eventually comes in.

There have been claims that own-brand spreads were gaining market share as Marmite lovers turned to alternatives -- but, having tried one of those, I wouldn't fancy a repeat purchase and Vegemite, which I haven't seen on shelves lately, was even worse (and made by the hated Kraft/Mondelez).

This doesn't have much to do with Lenovo, except that a few weeks ago Argos knocked a tenner off the price of the decent Lenovo 7 inch Tab, bringing it down to an irresistible £50.

Cisco: Revenues are flat, profits are down, and we're not changing our plan


Re: Cisco -- I kid you not....@AC

So, a bit like Freemasons or Scientology,then. I don't see me joining, so looks like this 890 is destined for eBay.


Cisco -- I kid you not....

Happy to find a Cisco 800 Series router in the rubbish. Fabulous hardware that cost a fortune, but soon enough found why it was there.

At first I was encouraged that the Cisco had a GUI for setting it up. After trying it I realise these guys have never, ever, seen a Netgear router's GUI.

Whoever wrote the Cisco PC Express GUI seems to have assumed that everyone who'd use it had the exactly the same versions of Java and Flash as he'd had on his computer. In other words, in my case, the GUI worked up to a point and then just stopped.

I gather from people who know about these things that Cisco are noted for good customer support -- they'd better be.

A cardboard desk? I won’t stand for it (actually I will)


Cats 'n boxes.

What is it with cats and boxes ? Try to get them into a pet carrier and you end up in A&E. But leave a box/shopping bag unattended for a moment and it'll be wriggling around and a face will appear with an expression (as per article pic) suggesting that the cat is trapped and panicking -- which clearly it is not. Only time I actually had to intervene was when my cat caught her head in the handles of a Sainsbury bag and was racing around the house desperately trying to evade this rustling pursuer. She collided with me with such force that the handles tore off.

Trump's taxing problem: The end of 'affordable' iPhones


Exporting imports and jobs.

When I was a kid I noted how US toy companies imported Japanese components and complete products, gave them a US brand and sold them on to Europe.

Avoiding high wage economies seemed smart to me as, doubtless, the greater part of what I paid was pocketed by the brand's owners. But it also seemed inefficient, as US products tended to be more expensive than European ones, let alone those imported directly from the Far East.

To the present. Virtually none of the IT companies make anything in their home countries. This doesn't seem to lead to cost savings for users -- as Apple's amusing prices demonstrate.Thus the inevitable rise of Far Eastern brands, doubtless building on skills and infrastructure and economies of scale facilitated by supplying US companies.

To take a more prosaic example -- Levi's originally supplied the UK market from factories in the US. The price -- about three times that of UK brand Lee Cooper -- seemed reasonable for a better-made product and a tangible authenticity. Later, production was in Scotland and product quality remained, but one could still buy US-made Levi's when holidaying in the States where, ironically, they cost less than in the UK.

More recently Levi's has started supplying even the US market from Mexico and the world market from factories in Pakistan, Egypt, Bangladesh, Poland and more. Unsurprisingly this has diluted the brand (and, I think, quality) and provides little incentive for customers to pay more for jeans possibly made in the same factories as those sold under cheaper labels.

Moving manufacturing back to the US sounds attractive. The alternative is to continue concentrating wealth in the hands of the brand owners, to deprive the home market of incomes with which to pay for products -- and to encourage competition from abroad.

Trump's plan: Tariffs on electronics, ban on skilled tech migrants, turn off the internet


No one got unelected by underestimating.....

H.L. Mencken is credited with the famous quote “No one went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public".

McDonald's sues Italian city for $20m after being burger-blocked


Leaning Tower of Pee Sir ?

Bang goes somewhere to take an emergency pee in Florence. If my experience of Rome is typical of Italian cities, cafes are happy enough to sell you a coffee but reluctant to provide a loo.

In other European cities one can count on McD for clean loos and not making a fuss if you fail to make a purchase.

We're great, you don't understand competition law, Google tells Europe


Three words...

Duck Duck Go.

Why Apple's adaptive Touch Bar will flop


That reminds me.

The new Apple adaptive keys remind me of the 1980s Apricot computer. Keyboard had programmable keys with LCD labelling that could change with whatever program was running. In practice wasn't used much.

Also had built in calculator that worked independently of the computer -- the same LCD displayed results which I think could also be sent to the CRT to add figures to documents etc.

Not surprising if, as I recall, the manufacturer ACT was originally an accountancy firm.

Arch Linux: In a world of polish, DIY never felt so good


Re: How odd

I first bought a PC in 1985 with no serious previous exposure to IT. MSDOS was a challenge -- installing a printer was nerd-central -- but I guess I enjoyed the novelty.

These days installing an OS should not involve learning command-line stuff. Though I wouldn't deny the utility of being able to tinker under the hood, it should be an option -- not an obstacle to getting started.


Re: How odd

Absolutely. To popularise Linux what we don't need is elitist nonsense putting barriers in the way of those trying to flee Windows.

After several bad experiences (sound not working, video not working etc ) I refused to look at Linux until a friend bullied me into trying Peppermint Linux. It's not perfect but is simple to install and usually stuff, including WiFi, works without having to hunt for drivers.

For the first time, I have been recommending Linux, if only on netbooks too slow for XP, as it is fine for web browsing and emailing.

And for our next trick, says Google while literally wheeling out a humongous tablet ...


Just asking...

Does it have a camera for selfies ?

Vodafone rapped with RECORD £4.6m fine for failing customers


Re: Vodafone apologises profusely..

......."it should impose a norm on them so packages can be compared."

Absolutely right. Supermarket items like bread, jam and detergents generally come in standardized weights so comparison is simplified.

If this is important for a trivially priced grocery purchase, how much more important for a 2 year contract for (say) £40 a month ?

But the telcos and broadband firms (these days mostly the same bunch) rely on confusion marketing to differentiate essentially identical offerings.

Glad to see that more customers are purchasing phones unlocked, unsubsidised, from the likes of Argos and Sainsbury's so, at least, the telcos' obfuscation over "free" (locked) devices isn't a further complication when comparing.

Yahoo! halts! email! forwarding! to! outside! email! addresses!


Go on, blame the user.

Been with Yahoo for over 15 yrs, most of them happy enough. Recently though, more spam, outages, slowdowns, errors when attaching files -- wanting mobile phone number "in case you get locked out" (i.e. so they can flog it to phone marketeers).

Yahoo finally admit to a security meltdown kept secret for years and start nagging ME about security !

Change password, don't use my iPhone, apps or sites like mail.com to forward mails.

All guaranteed to drive users into the arms Gmail.

Is Apple's software getting worse or what?


Of course it's getting worse.

And in some ways always has been worse than.....Windows. The drive for minimalism has meant that Mac lacks DIY features that Windows users take for granted, particularly when things go wrong (which perhaps they do more frequently in Windows).

An earlier poster says issues with iTunes don't count because it's always been crap, but it's a real problem when the main gateway to devices is so awkward to use. Just try putting a home made ringtone on an iPhone -- it is actually possible but, compared to Android, it's a farce. This seems to be deliberate, presumably to make one pay to download tones.

I won't elaborate on the issues with moving pictures/scans or text files onto an iPhone but they pretty much rule out the phone's use in my business.

Then there's the terrible keyboard. Most recently I tried out an old iPhone 3G (found in the rubbish) and was surprised to find that the keyboard was quite usable.

Yes, Apple software is getting worse.

Good God, we've found a Google thing we like – the Pixel iPhone killer


@CrazyOldCatMan SD cards safer...

....than pictures on an iPhone dunked in a toilet.


@ Champ The price ain't right.

Too right. Friend's seriously smashed up Nexus (of some vintage) was a cue for me to suggest a Moto G3 or G4 as happily owned by other friends. He found a G3 for £90 and while he thought it slightly slower than the Nexus, happy at the price.

Dutch bicycle company pretends to be television company


Never trust courier firms....

Back in the days of CRT monitors I had one delivered by P*rcelf*rce. When it broke in transit their independent loss adjuster helpfully pointed out that the conveyor belts in courier firm's centres regularly drop stuff from a height, so items should be packed appropriately (?).

As PF offered no compensation, I sued the company which sent the unit improperly packed and needed a copy of the loss adjuster's report as evidence. PF refused to even give me his name and address until my local MP intervened (it is/was a state owned enterprise).

I won the case and have avoided PF since.

More recently a courier repeatedly tried to deliver an iPhone to the wrong address.

Amazon tried to use my IP address to guess my street address -- and sent a battery the size of a matchbox in a pack so large it wouldn't go through a letterbox -- instead left package at nearby address (and wanted £3.99 for delivery).

Generally Royal Mail are a safer bet as their staff are familiar with your neighbourhood

Cops blasted for relying on IP addresses to hunt down suspects


Cops not the only ones...

Amazon calculated my address by IP to be the house next door. Not bad - but not good for actual delivery. How long before they omit the facility to edit incorrect guesses ?

HP Inc's rinky-dink ink stink: Unofficial cartridges, official refills spurned by printer DRM


Bullying tactics.

I was amused when adding a cartridge to my HP laser to receive a message warning that I was using a non-HP refill and risked damage to my printer.

I call bullshit.

As with virtually every multinational fiddling tax, Microsoft jamming Win10 down Win7 users' computers, Apple making 3rd party repairs as difficult as possible, our best defence is to withdraw our custom. Which I think many users have done already with HP.

PS: If manufacturers like this (including phones, cameras) are so hot on protecting customers from fakes -- why don't they pursue e-bay and Amazon where it often seems impossible to spot real ones. Saw Lumix-branded batteries for my camera at prices ranging from £6 to £44 -- one must a fake.

Latest Intel, AMD chips will only run Windows 10 ... and Linux, BSD, OS X


Re: Slow, carefully planned suicide?

Too right.

Just met with the 4th and 5th Windows 7 users I know who've been hijacked by Win10 and left with laptops that now don't fully work -- in this case non-functioning optical drive and sluggish performance.

Problem, these are Japanese girls in London who personally imported Toshiba domestic market models (for the Japanese keyboard).

Couldn't face spending hours tearing my hair out on machines 5 years old -- with the serious complication that the home website would be in a language I don't understand.

Helpfully, an IPad bought in UK has on-screen keyboard in software so supports all major languages.

Another two customers lost to Microsoft.

EE looks at its call charges, hikes a bunch, walks off giggling


EE and PAYG vermin

I'm now immune to EE's price shenanigans having previously been shocked by increase in texting price to 12p -- and not prepared to make voice calls at 30p a min.

Solution; keep EE existing number on locked iPhone for incoming calls. Put 3 Network SIMM in second phone for outgoing and enjoy calls at 3p a min and text at 2p *.

Though EE's "6 Month Web" deal at £20 was decent value, 3 Network's 1p a meg is more flexible and cheap enough that I'm happy to use mobile data for the first time.

I'll only keep EE as long as a friend keeps gifting me her old EE-locked phones.

* See also GiffGaff, Lebara, Lycamobile.

Windows 10 a failure by Microsoft's own metric – it won't hit one billion devices by mid-2018


Re: Pulling dick moves has historically worked really well for Apple.

Name six dick moves from Apple ? I know these don't fall strictly within the same boundaries as MS's recent superdick moves, but they piss me off sufficiently that I avoid the Apple brand.

iTunes (worst commercial software yet encountered)


Faulty OS update downloads.

iPhones locked to first SIM inserted.

Close to unlawful returns policy on faulty stuff outside 1-year warranty.

Crippled USB on iPhone.

Crippled Bluetooth on iPhone.

Fixed battery (iPhone, iPod, iPad).

Fixed hard drive (that broke) (early iPods)

Glued casing (laptops).

OS distrib CD customised to model (can render old Macs fit only for landfill if CD is missing).

Empty your free 30GB OneDrive space today – before Microsoft deletes your files for you


The family snaps, gone in a flash.

I have photos of my ancestors, taken in the very early years of the 20th century. Looking at them, some faded and dog eared but entirely usable, I have wondered what will happen to family shots taken today. Stored not in shoeboxes or albums but on hard drives, optical discs and USB sticks which will surely fail or become incompatible with future hardware.

Now we have the cloud and our heritage may be in the hands of greedy idiot philistines like Microsoft -- either to be deleted at will or held for ransom.

Farewell to Microsoft's Sun Tzu: Thanks for all the cheese, Kevin Turner


death to creativity

An interesting insight into the workings of Microsoft. Given the sophisticated nature of the products it's a surprise to find a blow-hard old fashioned sales manager. From experience in ad agencies, I've met a few of these guys as clients and they usually spell death to creative work, pouring scorn on anything that they don't quite get. Perhaps why Microsoft is seen as the ugly sister while Apple (doubtless just as ruthless and uncaring) comes across as hip.

Florida man sues Apple for $10bn, claims iPod, iPhone was his idea


Star Trek Communicator

Yeah, and Gene Roddenberry is suing Motorola for the flip phone.

Vodafone hints at relocation from UK


Close the door on your way out.

Vodaphone, costly as a provider, no longer best UK coverage.

Big lobbyist against curbing roaming charges -- in league with UK's EU reps keen to protect Brit mobile player rather than act for consumers.

Maplin Electronics demands cash with menaces


Soon to go the way of Tandy.

Radio Shack's European branches sailed into the sunset a decade or so ago. This may have seemed to set the scene for Maplin's High Street expansion but the underlying problem which sank Tandy remains -- hobbyist electronics has all but disappeared and consumer devices are entirely price sensitive (viz Amazon). Recent visit to Maplin proved largely pointless.

I support North London's last proper electronic hobby store in Cricklewood.

'2nd referendum' topples site


Not what I hear.

The German response seems to be get out and soon before you bing the whole thing crashing down. France likely to be just as nervous when Marine Le Pen waves the Union Jack and demands France has a referendum too.

New York decides not to tinker with vendor lock-down for now


Not everything can be repaired economically.

But lots of the stuff I've found dumped on the street needed only trivial work to be restored.

Most recently a brand new IKEA stand lamp, most components still in wrappers. The fuse in the plug had failed !

A few years ago a rash of flat screen monitors with a couple of years' use and blown capacitors in the PSU -- simple to diagnose and pennies to cure by anyone with a soldering iron.

Not sure why the EU permit the irresponsibility of phones with fixed batteries and the bizarrely wide range of batteries used in other phones -- and in cameras and power tools. If (for example) watch and radio makers can design around a limited range of batteries, what's the issue ?

After legislation to standardise connectors some phones now come without a charger and people are forced to recycle one of the many old ones we all have lying in a drawer somewhere..

T-Mobile Czech ad man steals, sells, 1.5 million customer records


forgive me correcting your correction

"data are (sic) safe”

I thought Data was plural anyway, so why the (sic) ?

Apple launches HomeKit app – but where are the products?


How about fixing the iPhone keyboard ?

I noted from coverage elsewhere that the Apple announcement included some nonsense about emojis. They might better have spent the time revamping the keyboard -- at least back to the usability of the one on the old iPhone 3G.

Microsoft to buy LinkedIn


Celebrate -- the more money Microsoft chuck down the drain, the sooner they get out of our lives.

PC market sinking even faster than first thought, thanks to Windows 10


Re: I wouldn't blame Windows 10 @Anonymous Coward

You have a good point historically -- Henry Ford (hardly a philanthropist otherwise) paid better wages so his many workers could afford to buy a Ford.

However, Henry was the boss and the biggest show in town so he could play that way. Today's tech companies have to shrink costs constantly to keep up returns to investors and to fight off competitors.

Ford's approach was coupled to a model run for the Model T that continued long after it was outdated simply because it remained in vast demand.

In a mature market, costly development and retooling is essential so new products can create demand.

Computerised stock management? Nah, let’s use walkie-talkies


deal with retail drones

I perfected this a while ago -- probably around the period I enjoyed typing "format C:" at the DOS prompt on the Amstrad computers whirring away in a Dixons branch, on the assumption that a customer might later press the Return key .

Assistant: "Can I HELP you sir" (i.e. Go Away)

Me: (after thoughtful pause looking Assistant up and down) "I rather doubt it."

Even in remotest Africa, Windows 10 nagware ruins your day: Update burns satellite link cash


elderly victims

Microsoft's megalomaniac Windows 10 claims another victim. Call lunchtime from elderly neighbour saying that her computer had locked up and there was this weird new block of stuff on the screen. I pop round to find that Windows 7 has been kiboshed by an unasked-for Windows 10 download.

This woman is in her eighties and claims that she doesn't understand how to use Google. She does a few things on the computer -- email, letter writing, scanning and printing. She has evolved a fixed way of doing thing that wouldn't make much sense to an experienced user -- but it works for her.

Then comes along some sociopath at Microsoft who feels they have the right to invade her computer leaving it not only unusable (by her) but actually no longer functioning.

Fortunately, I was able to close the machine down without doing further damage, get Windows 10 restarted and quickly add Classic Shell to slightly reduce the mystification factor. Very luckily everything that she does still seems to work -- even the scanner/printer.

Microsoft's Windows Phone folly costs it another billion dollars


Re: Business phone ... anyone? @DougS

Quite right about using a Bluetooth keyboard with an iPhone -- but it's not exactly as portable as the old Nokia's inbuilt QWERTY keyboard.


Re: Business phone ... anyone?

In my opinion Apple don't know how to make a phone for business. Crippled USB and Bluetooth make it painful to import documents or graphics into the phone (don't even mention bloody iTunes as a means). Tiny onscreen keyboard makes creating and editing documents maddening.

Compares very badly with the Nokia E71 which (a few years ago) stood in for my laptop to send out stuff while we temporarily lacked a landline and broadband.

IBM invents printer that checks for copyrights


solution looking for a problem

as above

You can always rely on the Ancient Ones to cock things up


Re: Quads @Mystic Megabyte

Hmmm Quad valve. Have one of those but last time I powered it up a valve (tube to our US readers) burned out, lighting up the whole room. A lucky junk shop find, loved the sound but its 15 (maybe 30) watts is not up to driving anything but the most efficient speakers -- and it needs a better pre-amp than the Quad 22 (I used a Meridian).

The last time I heard Electrostatics they were wonderful but driven by a much more powerful Radford valve amp.

The 405 (and 34 pre-amp) with maybe 120 watts is the first I've owned that will excavate the deepest bass from large speakers. Way ahead of the intervening 33/303 combination and, allegedly, later Quads. Certainly better than a 75 Watt NAD receiver I used before.


not only sentient but sentimental

Friend's Quad 405 power and pre-amp system. Blown fuse -- mysterious until I learned that her rent included electricity so she never turned the amp off. Plus in a west-facing room with the heat sink bathed in sunshine and sitting over a hot-running cassette deck also left on permanently.

More puzzled when it seemed to fail again a few months later. Relocated away from heat sources, fuse okay -- connections all in place. Decided it was dead and I would risk cost of repair against giving her my spare Marantz amp.

Took the Quad home and it has worked flawlessly since. Amp and two B&W DM2 speakers found abandoned in the street separately six months apart seem very happy together.

Can only assume that they all detected that I would be a sympatico owner and arranged to be adopted.

My old cat -- and my neighbour's cat -- turned up in the area and moved into our respective households uninvited. Who is to say tech isn't smarter than cats.

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