All posts in “Communication”

MacStickrs Winners

Thanks to everyone who entered the MacStickrs Giveaway. I’ve randomly picked two winners and they are…

James Stanley and Matt Gaunt.

Congratulations, guys! I’ll tweet you and email you both for your details.

Google+

When Google+ went beta last year I was invited in to have a look around. I created my profile, added friends to circles and it wasn’t long before I thought “Now what?”. I couldn’t see what G+ was trying to be or where it would fit into my life. Admittedly I am still questioning this, but their recent re-design this week has helped me focus a little more.

The layout of Google+ prior to this update didn’t do anything for me. It didn’t feel nice or comfortable. Put simply it didn’t make me want to use it. It’s hard to say exactly what it is about this new design that works for me, but it feels more interactive, like there’s more to see and touch. It feels more organised, it’s like Google+ finally grew up.

The ability to create a cover photo to one’s profile feels like another step in the right direction. It feels more personal to me, so naturally the photo I have chosen as my cover is one I recently took of my beloved Converse.

GooglePlus

There are a number of my friends who have used Google+ on a daily basis for sharing things. Some moved away from Facebook completely to use G+, others creating a profile but leaving soon after. I have tried persuading some friends to give Google+ at least a go, but Facebook is now so ingrained into their daily lives that it’s difficult for them to be open to the idea of yet another “social network”.

Twitter is and always will be my number one go-to social network for all the wonderfully rapid interaction and easy-ways-to-access it reasons, but I’m starting to see where Google+ may also start to matter in my life. Photos that I may want to share with my closer friends, but not my wider followers on Twitter or Flickr. I can be as open or as private as I want on Google+, allowing certain circles to access things that others cannot. This is where it gets good; sharing with people you care about.

If you’ve never tried Google+ or you have but you’re still unsure about it, check out this article which may just change your mind. Or you could just add me to your circles – now who wouldn’t want to see an exclusive photo of me as a kitty?!

FutureYear

My friend Nick recently launched FutureYear, a new social network where you share with friends what you are doing in the future. Here’s the press release…

Where FutureYear ?ts in…

Your future! You have Facebook for catching up with past friends made and viewing past photos etc. Twitter is all about the present, what is happening right now around the world. FutureYear looks beyond your past and present and asks what are you and your friends doing in the future.

FutureYear is all about your next 12 months…

Broadcast what you have planned, where you’ll be around the world, and what your ambitions are for the next year. Share with friends, even if they’re just ideas at the moment!

It all starts with your profile page. Here you can post what you have planned into an organised timeline so that friends and contacts can discover what you have in store for your next week, next month and even next year.

On creation of a FutureYear profile, you can begin to track other profiles. Whether you track friends or business profiles, all upcoming events posted to these profiles you track will appear in your home page. Here you can stay up to date with whats coming up in the lives of friends, businesses, or groups.

Bored next weekend? Use the Explore feature. Search for events by date, topic or location to find stuff to do locally in your area or even further afield.

FutureYear is perfectly suited towards businesses and groups too who wish to promote their exciting dates or promotions coming up. As a brief example of how we see this being great for business we have a outlined a few potential uses:

-A clothing store may want to inform its customers of sales it has on, or when a new range is in
-A coffee shop may want to promote special offers on particular days to drive sales
-A nightclub may want to share its diary of nights and DJs coming up
-A scout leader can post activity days and provide the link to its scouts
-An event organiser may want an open and public centralised profile to show upcoming events
-A local football team may want to post a season’s fixtures and the locations of away fixtures

For businesses and groups, the great benefit with FutureYear is that its open. Users don’t have to be registered to view a profile. Businesses and groups sharing the link to their FutureYear profile is the first and only step needed to promote their future events, activities, fixtures, offers and more.

Currently in beta

We’ve just launched to the world and anyone can now join. We have many features and improvements coming soon, stay tuned!

Exciting times!

The team behind FutureYear are really excited about the coming months and the features we have lined up. We hope you’re just as excited as we are about FutureYear. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Broadcast your future today…www.futureyear.com

iMessage in iOS 5

Of all the exciting announcements made at the WWDC keynote last Monday, two of the things I am most excited about are both part of the upcoming iOS 5 in the Autumn: iMessage and Notification Centre.

My friend Chris’ thoughts, over at techese, pretty much sums it up for me;

I think one of the larger benefits of iMessage will be interacting with several friends in the UK quickly and easily. There have been many times where I have a question for one of these friends, and a text message would be a fantastic medium. Sadly, I’ve had to resort to twitter or email. Twitter is great, but not everyone is constantly checking it, and email — well, no one wants more email.

Just last week during the Apple event, I wanted to ask Chris a quick question and immediately opened SMS.app before realising that we don’t and never have communicated that way due to the amount it would cost to text someone in the US. There are inexpensive texting apps on the App Store such as WhatsApp which open this particular channel up, but the app is in no way as quick and easy as texting in SMS/Messages.app. I certainly won’t miss using that thirt-party app when all my friends are using iOS 5.

Unlike my friends in other countries, in the UK it’s common for phone networks to provide UK to UK unlimited texts. I have this on my £15 per month iPhone Simplicity (o2) tariff and therefore I can text my friends on any other network as much as my heart desires without incurring any other charges. I love this as I’m quite a big texter and it’s by far the most convenient solution to stay in touch the friends I communicate with the most. To be able to do this freely and for free with my overseas friends will be most welcome.

I am really looking forward to using iMessage. I have several friends in the Apple Developer Program who are already raving about it and I must say it is rather tempting me into the program to give the new features a go. My biggest concern has been the reports of battery drain which I guess is quite normal for a Beta 1, so I’m hoping that Beta 2 will have at least helped that particular issue. If it has then you can probably expect some ooh-ing and ahh-ing from me on Twitter quite soon.

Simplenote for iPhone and iPad

For about 18 months now I’ve been using an app which I would be pretty lost without, it has to be said. There are times when I need to take a note of something, make a list or I’m lying in bed late at night and a great idea comes to me that I want to remember in the morning. That’s when I whip out my iPhone and open Simplenote.

Simplenote is very unique compared to the standard official Apple application, Notes, in that it syncs wirelessly between your iPhone, web app or any supported desktop app on your computer. No having to connect to iTunes to sync up notes taken in Notes.app. More than that, you can share notes between family and friends, restore backups of notes, apply tags, etc.

I’ve been using Simplenote in conjunction with JustNotes on both of my Macs, meaning I have my notes wherever I am and they sit neatly and quietly in my menubar, not asking for any space in my dock. There are several desktop applications which support Simplenote syncing, for Mac, Windows and aswell as extensions, scripts and plugins.

Simplenote for iPhone and iPad is free on the App Store [iTunes link]. You can also upgrade to a Simplenote Premium account which removes ads and gives you more added benefits including Dropbox sync, ability to edit notes in list view (iOS) and RSS feed. I’m currently subscribed as as Premium user, costing $19.99 per year.

[rating:5/5]

From o2 to Virgin

For three years I’ve written about my experience with o2 Broadband. All sickeningly positive, praising the reliability of service, speed and customer support. Because of this experience I switched my home telephone provider from BT to o2 when their home phone service began in the Spring. It was this move that heralded the beginning of the end of my love for o2. It’s a long story, one I shall attempt to condense into a few short paragraphs.

Since switching to o2 Home Phone and Broadband my connection has been terrible. Really terrible. It began almost immediately from my switch-on date of May 20th. It came in the form of many disconnections initially, to much slower speeds, dropping from 3.5mbps with reliability to 1.5mbps with disconnections as often as every 30 minutes.

Many telephone conversations have taken place between myself and o2 Broadband in the last 3 months and sadly the relationship has continued to deteriorate. Within 6 weeks they send me 2 brand new routers (o2 Wireless Box II), sent me new filters, changed the noise margin on my line to see if that would provide stability and I have had no less than 3 BT telephone engineers to my home to check and repair faults. All these engineers left my property satisfied that the issue was resolved. Only it never was.

o2 Broadband told me that once they’ve run all the tests they can on my line, they will send out a Broadband Engineer, not a telephone engineer. Last week we reached the point where the tests were completed, but the last conversation I had with them was the final straw. I was told, by a lady at o2, that I would need to have 30 disconnections an HOUR before they would send an engineer to me. Yes, 30. It was clear that with my current rate of re-syncs that they just were absolutely unwilling to do anything more than fiddle with noise margins and repeatedly talk to me like an idiot, asking “are your filters plugged into your sockets?”.

So, despite still being in contract with o2 Home Phone and Broadband until May 2011, I have signed up to Virgin Media to receive their 10MB Fibre Optic cable broadband (and TV package). I will get 3 months for £15 per month for my broadband then £20 per month thereafter. This means I’ll still be paying for an o2 Broadband service that I won’t be using, from o2. It’s not ideal since I should be receiving a service that I’m paying for, but o2 have let me down really badly and have had little choice but to seek an alternative.

As many longterm readers know, I’ve been a huge advocate of o2 Broadband the entire time I’ve been writing here. I have converted many friends, online and offline, to o2. Now I am advising to avoid like the plague. When it really matters and you have a problem, their support just aren’t prepared to send the necessary engineer to resolve the issue. Their advert about nobbling broadband niggles is now laughable. And their telephone message when calling for technical support is equally so…

Did you know that many o2 broadband connection problems can be fixed by switching your broadband box on and off?

Ah if only, o2, if only.

So, after 3 years I am finally waving goodbye to DSL with o2 Broadband and when my contract expires in May I shall also be taking my home phone needs to Virgin Media. I hope that I have a better experience with Virgin Media and that support will acknowledge and deal with problems should they occur. From what I’ve been told by friends who are already with Virgin, it seems that they do technical support very well. My installation date is Saturday 11th September.

My o2 Broadband [rating:0.5/5] AVOID AVOID AVOID

Osfoora HD for iPad

Weeks before my iPad arrived I downloaded several apps to get me up and running, one of which was Twitterrific for iPad. I really wanted to love the app, but there were so many features absent that I simply wasn’t enjoying the tweeting experience from my new gadget. I checked the app store daily for a replacement and on Saturday I found it in the form of Osfoora HD.

osfoora.jpg

This is the Twitter app that the iPad has been waiting for. Elegantly designed and tons of features which now makes tweeting from the iPad a pleasure rather than a chore. Check out the mammoth list of Osfoora HD’s features and screenshots from the app. As you can see it’s pretty impressive. Aside from all of it’s bells and whistles, Osfoora HD is FAST, really fast.

There isn’t a huge selection of Twitter apps for the iPad in the app store at present and with no word on when we can expect the official Twitter for iPad , Osfoora HD is the nicest and most elegant way to experience Twitter on the iPad.

Osfoora HD costs £2.39 in the iTunes App Store.

[rating:5/5]

o2, Phone Home!

Back in January I wrote about o2 Home Phone which was arriving in March. I’ve kept an eye on developments as I’ve been wanting to switch from my current home phone provider BT (British Telecom) for quite some time. The launch date of March was pushed back and o2 kept telling us it was coming in the Spring.

homephoneo2.jpg

Having called o2 up a couple of days ago regarding an iPhone bolt-on, I was asked if there was anything else they could assist me with. I took the opportunity to enquire into when Home Phone was being launched. The lady told me it had launched now and put me through to the correct department to discuss it. I knew I wanted to switch so just asked there and then for my details to be taken so we could get the ball rolling.

The phone call took around 20-30 minutes, discussing the package I wanted to go on, bolt-ons and my Direct Debit details. You can also buy online if you prefer. There will be no distruption to my service while the switch is being made and I’ve been kept fully updated every step of the way via regular emails and texts letting me know the process was underway and that my switch date will be 20th May.

I chose their ‘Anytime’ package which will cost £12.50 per month and have also added on the Caller Display bolt-on which is approximately £1.75 extra per month. I am thoroughly looking forward to having my telecommunications service all under one roof with o2, with home phone, broadband and iPhone. Leaving BT after all these years is going to be one happy occasion.

If you are on o2 broadband already and are looking to sign up to their Home Phone service then do drop me a line as inviting a friend will result in both of us receiving a £20 voucher to spend at Amazon.co.uk.

Switching to o2 iPhone Simplicity

Today my 18 month iPhone 3G contract with o2 came to an end. For a few months I’ve heard some fellow o2-iPhone friends talk about moving to an iPhone Simplicity tariff with a 30-day rolling contract, leaving them free and single to sign a new contract when the newest and shiniest iPhone hits the streets, possibly in the summer.

o2-uk.jpg

So, looking to save myself £10 a month, I called o2 today and switched from iPhone 30 (£30 per month) which gave me 75 mins/125 texts, to iPhone Simplicity 20 (£20 per month) which gives you…

- 300 mins
- Unlimited texts
- Unlimited data and wifi
- Visual Voicemail

The phonecall to 2302 from my iPhone took just a few minutes. Shortly after making the switch I checked Visual Voicemail on my iPhone which was showing as ‘Currently Unavailable’. I assumed that this feature wasn’t available on iPhone Simplicity until a few friends confirmed that it was. 3G was also failing on my iPhone, so I called o2 again and spoke with a girl who really confused matters.

I was told to change the network settings on my iPhone so that I could get 3G and MMS. She also repeatedly insisted that Visual Voicemail does not come with the iPhone Simplicity tariffs. However, it appears she was confusing regular Simplicity with iPhone Simplicity, so there was no need to alter any settings on my phone. I can confirm that you DO get Visual Voicemail on iPhone Simplicity and there is no need to manually change any network settings. Simply reboot your iPhone once you’ve moved to iPhone Simplicity which will bring back 3G and all your current data settings will work correctly without any amendment.

o2 Home Phone

Whilst on the phone to o2 a couple of months ago to change my Broadband payment details, the chap asked me if I needed help with anything else. I said everything was fine and that I was so happy with o2 that I wish they did a home phone, enabling me to move away from BT and use o2 for everything: mobile, broadband and home phone. He said that they were looking into doing that, but I didn’t give it much thought until yesterday when I discovered that o2 are launching their Home Phone in March.

o2homephone.jpg

I’m absolutely delighted with this news. Being able to finally move away from BT is a dream come true, whom I pay in excess of £100 per quarter to for my home phone. With o2 I will pay just £20 per month for Home Phone *and* Broadband – a saving of £40 per quarter. They have two packages available, ‘Evening & Weekend’ for £9.50 per month and ‘Anytime’ for £12.50 per month – both package prices include line rental. I am opting for the latter as it gives me unlimited calls to UK landlines at any time. So, that together with the £7.50 per month I pay for o2 Broadband I will be paying just £20 per month. You can see details on the tariffs at this page and also register your interest, here.

Roll on March. It’s going to be a very sweet day when I can smile and wave bye bye to BT.