Nokia N73 – Cameraphone disapoints (long)

About seven months ago I bought a Nokia N73 camera phone as part of a contract with the 3 network. Although initially I was very impressed with this, and the service, I think a lot of this was simply down to the “excitement” of buying some new technology. As a fair amount of time, and a lot of use, has passed I felt it would be reasonable to do a “mid term” review. Some of the issues (good and bad) I have with this device are difficult to pin down to being the responsibility of either Nokia or 3 so I will talk about both here. For the terminally impatient, I can summarise this by saying that given unrestricted choice in the future I would neither buy a Nokia N73, nor would I connect to 3. This said, the things I find important may differ from every one else, so your mileage may vary…

First off, I haven’t had any problems with the Nokia when it came to making telephone calls. In this, most basic of features it worked perfectly 🙂 . Sadly, this is about the only feature where I haven’t found things which annoyed me! If you only want a phone to make (and occasionally receive) calls then the Nokia N73 is brilliant. However, if this is all you want, there are a million other makes and models which would serve your needs at a fraction of the cost.

I was looking for a phone which would allow me to take photos, access the internet, send emails and maintain a basic calendar service. I could have opted for a PDA but connectivity would still have been an issue. In a given month I use the phone more for text messages, emails, note taking and photos (over 2000 to date) than I do for basic calls. As a result, this is not an ideal phone. Continue reading

ShopWiki, DoubleClick

I was reading a post on Matt Mullenweg’s blog (PhotoMatt), titled “DoubleClick and Kevin Ryan” which talks about Google having bought double click, and Kevin Ryan (co-founder) has moved on to a new start up called ShopWiki. (I am not going to link to them though).

Basically ShopWiki sends bots out to trawl the web and find products at the best price for you. You may think this is a wonderful thing, and it may well be. I am somewhat intrigued though as to why this site (notable for its abject lack of sellable items) has been getting hammered by the Shop Wiki bot for most of the last two days (until it got the .htaccess treatment). As far as I can see, the bot ignored the Robots.txt entry I put in for it (although my track record with this file is poor).

I think the idea behind ShopWiki seems sound and I am sure it is a wonderful new idea. But I have to question the validity of the data it has collected, given the time and effort it spent looking round the contact pages here. In a spambot like fashion, the ShopWiki bot seems to have concentrated on pages which made reference to emails and the like.

Time may modify my point of view, but for now I think of this as a Bad Shop.


We live on a planet where almost everything is tagged as the property of someone. Someone trousers a few pounds every time we eat or drink, and if breathing is still free, we know it’s only because no one’s worked out how to charge us for it.

You might think the rest of the universe was different. Well the rest of our solar system isn’t, apparently.

Chunks of the moon and other planets are being sold at the rate of 1,500 a day, according to a BBC report. The man who started it says he has already made £4.5 million and that 1.6 million sq km of moon property has already been sold, but don’t fret, there is still plenty left. Phew.

The Lunar embassy claims to be the world headquarters of extra-terrestrial sales. It sells plots of land through resellers, such as Moon estates in the UK. It’s quite impressive the way they word the sales pitch to avoid any accusations of blatant fr**d, e.g. Continue reading

Misuse of Email Addresses

Quite some time ago, thanks to the wonder of Magazine Cover Disks, I installed Concept Draw MINDMAP personal edition 4. If you need to make mind maps and the like, this is reasonably good software and certainly worth the price (i.e. free). Part of the installation process required me to register with concept draw, and provide them with an email address.

Being a naturally paranoid fool, who always assumes the worst, I used the services of Gishpuppy to create a one-off email address for this registration, which automatically forwarded emails to my main account. If you haven’t already done so, I cant suggest strongly enough the advantages of going to the site, registering and getting the plugin (if you use FF / IE) to allow you to “Gish It” every time you are asked for an email address.

Basically what happens, is you give gishpuppy some keywords and a domain which you want to use the email address on, then it creates the address for you. As an example, if your key words were whydontyou it may create the email address You give out this email address and when anything is sent to it, it gets forwarded to your real account. It is a great way of testing the water with some services.

Anyway, as I said I created the GishPuppy address and registered. Everything was fine for a few months, but for the last five or six weeks, I am getting a deluge of spam emails to that address. Now, I know I have never used this address anywhere other than the ConceptDraw registration. Today I got an email from a site admin saying that there had been a massive amount of spam from my email address (the Gish one) and suggesting I check the firewall to see if I have been hacked.

Now, as I see it, one of two things has happened. Gishpuppy has compromised my email address to spammers, or Concept Draw have. If it had been Gishpuppy, why would they only give up one email address? I have dozens registered with Gish (I use them every time I have to register somewhere so I can filter the return emails), and none of the others get spam emails.

Sadly, I can only draw one conclusion from this and it certainly ensures I wont buy anything from Concept Draw in the future. To give them the benefit of the doubt, I have tried email Concept Draw to explain I felt emails were being misused but, oddly, I have had no response.

Virgin really crying out to be sacrificed now

Grrr. Virgin Cable TV:-

Sky One= no great loss.
FX = only channel you can legitimately watch the Wire on UK TV.

Happily rewatching series 4 tonight, ready to catch all the smart bits of dialogue that I didn’t quite get the first time or read the messages supposedly coded into Omar’s t-shirts by the costume designers that I wasn’t paying attention to. And so on.

Screen goes blank five minutes after the credits.

Ominous blue box comes up, holding the words that I’m not authorised to view this channel.

So it costs about £80 a month – for broadband, tv and a phone I make barely half a dozen local calls on – no matter what the ads say – and they can’t even pay out the Wire now?

Virgin – ad vs reality

Just when I was starting to feel positive about Virgin.

(My net connection service is sorted. I was even beginning to feel a mite guilty – maybe the fault really was my raggedy cat5 – further damaged by the building work.)

An advert in the bus paper – the Metro – this morning compared the great cheap Virgin cable service – 10 MB broadband plus cable channels plus phone rental for £30- with the inferior Sky service.

The advert showed Sky with an impressive 80 MB or something- can’t remember the detail, sorry, but Virgin claimed it was capped and is slower the further you are from the hub (isn’t that true of all DSL anyway?) and costlier, at £36 plus £11 BT line rental.

Now, I was already a mite baffled, because surely it’s 10 Megabits not MB, which I am pretty sure usually means MegaBytes. Maybe it’s just how they put these things in ads, but as far as I can see, it’s exaggerating the speed by a factor of 8.

But I get home and open a letter from Virgin. It announces a 1 May price increase to £37 (though doubling the bandwidth, I am pleased to see) and an increase in phone charges. (Well, an exciting new way of calculating the phone charges, that sounds like a reduction – if you take some extra inclusive phone charge package – but slips in that they are rounding up to the nearest minute.)

So the price they are advertising today as being £6 a month lower than Sky’s package is actually going to be £1 more in a month. (And still minus Sky One.) Hmmm.

Virgin Service Woes – Contd.

It seems the current “issues” with getting connected via Virginmedia are still alive and kicking. Hopefully this will not last for two long and normal service can, eventually, resume.

Until then – thank you for your patience.

Random Virgin broadband service

Bah. After years with Telewest, during which the broadband Internet service was pretty damn good, a few days of Virgin being in full control and I’m tearing my hair out.

An outage yesterday – when I actually had a free day to go on the net in the hours of daylight – had me disassembling my PC and mixing up the network connection to my switch because I first assumed my PC was at fault. Then I thought that I had stopped ithe connection working by changing the network cards’ connections to the switch so I randomised these again, then forgot what was connected to what when I started .

Someone phoned up Virgin for me and found that there was an official outage with another 4 hours to go. So my PC had been fine till I started trying to fix it…..

When I phoned up after the official four hours I got an unremittingly chirpy recording that suggested that I reboot my PC and the cable box. Obviously I had tried this about 8 hours earlier, and several times since. But I tried again. Nothing.

This morning, there was still nothing. I came back at 7:30 pm and still had nothing but this time I made my PC reconfigure its network settings and drop its IP & gateway etc. and I connected the PC directly to the cable modem box. (Goodbye, switch. It looks like one PC at a time from now on.) It worked.

Elated, I got online for at least 40 minutes, before the service decided it was too much trouble to keep connected to the Internet and switched off again for five minutes. I have no idea how long it will stay on now.

Losing Sky One is one thing, there are always other alternatives.. (Thanks to Nullfidian for the link to Virgin’s page that explains what TV there will be.) A crappy broadband service would be completely different. It might be a pure coincidence that there happened to be a local service failure in this area at the start of Virgin’s control. I will give them the benfit of the doubt but will be sure to watch the service closely for a while to see if it gets back to Telewest standards.

Virgin Disconnect

It seems that no only have virgin media dropped Sky channels from their TV service but their broadband customers have had a major outage today (at least in the North West).

To put the icing on the cake, complaints this morning (around 1000hrs UK time), were given a “four hour” ticket which (ten hours later) is still unresolved with no feedback.

What a wonderful way to retain customers. I was looking at going for a cable package, mainly because people (generally) said good things about Telewest. It seems that since it became Virgin Media things have gone down hill in a massive way. (Seems to resemble the trains really… Look pretty, cost a fortune but just as crap as ever).

Virgin Media & Sky mash cable service

Once upon a time there was Blueyonder. It had a cable TV and phone service and cable broadband. You took the cable tv and phone to get the best broadband service there was, if you were lucky enough to live in a cable area.

The service kept randomly upgrading as well until it’s now pretty fast. The costs kept upgrading as well, while ADSL got cheaper and better. They also stopped letting you pay in handy cable shops and subjected you to the world’s most torturous customer “service” phone-line imaginable (though that seems to have improved.)

Then little clouds started appearing on the blueyonder horizon. They merged with NTL – the inferior cable service. They started charging insane amounts if you paid a few days after their chosen date and over the phone or online, rather than by direct debit.

Now they’ve been bought by Virgin and the Sky part of the cable package is not going to come with it any more. But, wait, they aren’t giving any money off their rental charges. Because they are offering some Virgin media collection of programmes. Like Challenge, ffs.

I can live without Sky One. (I’ve already seen all the Simpsons.) I would never watch Sky News. No FX means no chance to see the Wire on terrestrial, (but I’ve already seen them.) I just don’t know where the “Sky” package starts and ends.

The maximum tv package already costs as much as their fastest broadband. One provides perfect internet service. The other provides a diet of shite. ( It is possible to go through the hundreds of channels over and over again without finding anything to watch some days.) So, is there any reason for me not to halve my bills and throw the TV bit?

Short of phoning them up, I need to know if “Sky” includes the other things in their Premium package: Discovery, Sci-fi, MTV, even Hallmark (with its non-stop Lawn Order) Does anyone know? If you do, please tell me in time to cancel the tv service..

And does anyone know if it can be legal to have taken advance payment for a service and just change it to an inferior one without any refund?