James Mayes

Posts Tagged ‘android’

Blog: Epic fail from @VodafoneUK store reps…

In Mobile, Personal on January 17, 2013 at 10:44 am

So I picked up a new HTC One X phone late last year. I think it’s one of the best Android phones out there and I’ve been very impressed. Until recently. The screen started phasing out on me. Some wierdness with the colours, then the sizing, then finally just refusing to show anything. The phone itself is fine (proved this via feedback noises on a few different tests) just the screen. Clearly, a repair or replace is needed.

The handset came from Vodafone, about 3 months back – so pretty fresh, protected by a case the whole time and not a mark on the phone or the case. Picked it up on a contract, one of those where you pay for the airtime and data, the handset being provided “free” – meaning you have to commit to twelve or eighteen months of charges, so paying for it that way instead. Always thought that was fair enough, never had an issue.

Took the handset to my local Vodafone shop, where an interesting conversation ensued. According to two different sales assistants, my contract covers the airtime only. The phone is provided absolutely free and as such, the retailer has no responsibilities towards it and the sale of goods act does not apply. This means despite the fact its become non-functional very quickly, Vodafone don’t have to do *anything*.

They offered to take if off me and send it off to a repair centre to be fixed under HTC’s warranty, but this leaves me with two problems. Firstly, I’m now paying for airtime and data which I can’t use until they fix/replace and return the phone. Second, the HTC warranty is valid for twelve months and I have an eighteen month contract. What happens if the handset breaks in those last six months?

Vodafone suggested their insurance was the perfect solution… but this adds nigh on 50% to the monthly cost, for something which *should* be free from failure for the life of the contract offered. Of course, if I lose or smash it, I expect that to be my problem.

Here’s the final piece of amazement for me though… I challenged the sales guy on whether he thought this situation was reasonable. He stated that he didn’t think it was, but that the law let them get away with it.


Way to go, Vodafone! Rest assured, you’ll not be getting another contract out of me.

Android dialler security flaw (and quick fix)

In Gadgets, Mobile on September 28, 2012 at 8:39 am

Noticed this one courtesy of Gareth earlier today. Flew through a couple of different sites researching and finding a fix I liked, thought I’d collate the info in one place.

There’s a recently exposed flaw on Android that will allow malicious web pages to use URL commands automatically. This means a site could potentially do a number of things, including auto-dial calls and force system level commands – potentially including a factory reset.

Not all phones seem to be vulnerable – but I’m running an HTC One X with 4.0.4 on board, and mine was indeed exposed.

First up, visit this page from your device to test it. If it automatically shows the IMEI number of your device, your handset is not secure. If the dialler opens, but gives you the CHOICE of whether or not to dial, you’re fine.

A little more bouncing around found me a great fix. Erik Thauvin released a quick install called NoUSSD (available for direct download or in the Android Play Store). Install that, tiny download, it will ensure any dial action in web pages is forced to give you the choice before the phone dials.

Hope this is useful.


Blog: Recovering from a Dropbox disaster!

In Gadgets, Mobile, Software Development, Start-ups on September 20, 2011 at 8:02 am

Many people I know, myself included, make extensive use of Dropbox for cloud storage. Install on all your devices, have all your files accessible from the cloud, synchronised AND available offline. Lovely.

What happens when you make a mistake?

Last night, when I deleted a crucial folder by mistake. My first thought was to grab the phone next to me, which had the Android version of Dropbox installed – I opened it up, and watched as “in the cloud” synchronisation took over and the folder deleted itself right before my eyes. The very definition of a disaster gathering pace. I thought of the data in that folder… yes, I had a backup. No, it wasn’t recent.

Verging on meltdown, I fought to think logically… Dropbox stores a copy on each local machine… it synchronises changes via the net… I have  laptop upstairs which is currently off… QUICK…. kill the wifi! Internet suitably disabled (i.e. plug removed sharpish from router!) I powered up the other laptop. Yep, the folder was intact. I copied all my Dropbox files to a USB storage device, then double-checked it on another PC. Breathe easy.

Panic over, I calmed briefly and tweeted about my near-miss, reminded people of the value of back-ups. I won’t share with you the thoughts I had when I saw this response:

Dropbox undelete

I’ve known Fordie a while, he tweets some great stuff… but right then, I coulda killed him! Now though, cool & calm, I have the following lessons:

  1. If you’re going to entrust your data to a site or service, learn about it up front – especially the recovery options
  2. Back up. No site is ever 100% perfect and even if it gets close, there’s still the huge potential for error between the chair and the keyboard
  3. Tweet for help before you panic!

So, this being done, will I still use Dropbox? Hell ya.  I think it was probably my error that caused it, and I’ve just tested the Dropbox undelete feature – works a dream. Log into the website, go to your Files; the deleted stuff is greyed out; click the down arrow next to it on the right, you get the option to undelete. Would I recommend it? Yeah, if you keep the above stuff in mind.

Finally – if you don’t yet have an account, click here  – using that link tells them I sent you, which gives me a little extra free space. Cheers!

Blog: Safety tips? Or how to interest a 4 year old in Geography!

In Gadgets, Mobile, Personal, Social Media, Start-ups on August 11, 2011 at 1:22 pm

I’ve been meaning to play around more with Glympse for a while now (tagline: Share your where). Simply, it allows you to share the location of your smartphone with one or many people, for a time-limited window.  It’s been around a while now (founded 2008) and certainly constitutes a stable platform rather than something beta.

The use case outlined on the site is a new take on that age-old problem of running late for a meeting. Send the other person a text from the Glympse app on your phone. Limit the visibility to the time you expect it to take. As you and your phone move towards the destination, the other party can see your progress nicely mapped out, zoomable for detail or total progress.

It came back into my mind recently as a result of the London riots, overhearing conversations about getting home safely in the evening. If you used Glympse to send your partner a text or email, they’d be constantly aware of your location, able to see if something knocked you off the expected route.

I tested it out again on a recent journey back from a client meeting, sending my wife a Glympse via SMS. Got a text back minutes later, saying “seriously fantastic, love it”. I think that’s an endorsement….  What I didn’t expect was subsequent usage though – my eldest (4 years old) was pestering, wanting to know when Dad would be home – so she pulled the Glypmse map up on a laptop instead and Harry watched as I drove back across the South East, my phone regularly sending GPS updates on my location. Turns out, he was fascinated!

A sample of the Glypmse map is below – thoroughly recommend checking them out.  Only one caveat so far – tracking your position on GPS and transmitting a regular location update murders your battery life. Fine when charging in the car, not sure I’d be so happy on the train…

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