17/08/2016

Refurbish from a skip & sold on ebay

So today is a very sad day for me, my faith in mankind has hit another low point.  Over the past year I have purchased a refurbished Samsung Galaxy SIII phone & and an ASUS Netbook both of which looked & worked like new.Both those items were purchased from the Argos ebay outlet & I was so impressed with the quality when I saw a Lenovo G50 quad core laptop on there I thought it looked like a good buy, so ordered one.

Three days later, very early in the morning, it was delivered & after having a coffee or two & a bite to eat I unpacked it & wasn't overly impressed by the scratches on the lid and the poor state of the frame around the screen. I have seen better in a skip (dumpster for my American friends). Still who cares as long as it works right?  Well AS LONG AS is the operative phrase here because at first it appeared to be OK once set-up, bit slow but after it had been switched off & back on it booted really fast. So I did the most important thing first, loaded my anti-virus program up.  Then did a scan to be safe, everything seemed ok.  I got a dongle and put some music on, no sound coming out. Plugged in headphones and got sound.  I thought perhaps it didn't have built in speakers.

So next job, loaded Skype.  This is where I found the first problem, no camera.  It should have a camera but nothing was showing so I checked device manager and no imaging device at all.  Then I tried the microphone and speakers.  The sound still came out of the headphones but nothing when they were taken out & the microphone wasn't showing any signs of life on the voice meter in Skype or the sound settings on Windows.  I tried updating the camera drivers but no joy.  I used my brand new Microsoft webcam & that worked fine.

In the end I decided to contact their customer support.  A day later I got a reply and after I replied to that I got nothing again so put in a returns request to ebay.  A day later and still no response from Argos Outlet & their twitter 'Helper' advised I should phone them, why should I waste my credits being left hanging on the phone for an hour or more, which is usually what happens when you phone them.  Instead I opted for the supplied email address & did get a reply from that very quickly, but it wasn't Argos support, it was a repair centre used by Argos. After a couple of email exchanges I had a phone call from the repair centre & a very charming young lady said she could book the PC in for a repair.  I agreed and she booked the courier ready. I have everything packed up now but have now discovered that this PC should indeed have built in speakers.  These aren't working either.

Are they just getting a load of scrapped or rejected laptops & making one working one out of several others? This seems to be the case.  Certainly the description they sell them under is false:
 _________________________________________________________________________________

Manufacturer refurbished: An item that has been professionally restored to working order by a manufacturer-approved vendor. This means the product has been inspected, cleaned and repaired to meet manufacturer specifications and is in excellent condition. This item may or may not be in its original packaging. See the seller’s listing for full     _________________________________________________________________________________

These are in no way repaired to meet manufacturers specifications & in excellent condition unless they are so poorly made the cameras, microphone & speakers don't work.  So in conclusion steer clear of refurbished goods, especially from the Argos ebay outlet, you'll only end up with a whole lot of hassle.

01/08/2016

Need Some Motivation

Most days now I sit in front of the computer or watch TV getting more bored & less motivated as each day passes.  I have some great video & stills cameras, video & audio editing software, chroma green screen, some lighting, but nothing to use them on.

I'm really on the look out for a new YouTube user to help them build up their channel, make videos & basically find something to occupy my mind with.  I see some of the popular YouTuber 'stars' getting gifts from around the world but that doesn't really appeal to me but may do to someone else.  I have plenty of ideas, just need to find the right person who can commit to hard work & who is trying to get their YouTube channel popular.

Until such time I'll just keep idling my days away.

10/07/2016

The Great Paddy Power Rip Off

Since the early 1980's I have loved the odd flutter on the horse racing. I don't really gamble heavy & from around 1995 to 2010 I only used to bet on the Grand National.   I liked the idea of on-line betting because of my current health conditions and when I saw Paddy Power offering Guaranteed Prices I signed up in 2011.  Other than keep forgetting my password I didn't have any problems with them, at least until now.

On Saturday 9th July I woke really early and after a cup of coffee I decided I'd have a look at the days racing.  I picked 3 horses I liked & placed a bet.  Then I saw 2 others running at Chester that I really liked and so placed another bet but with a higher stake unit.  On the first bet I only had 1 placed horse but the second, and most lucrative bet, came up. I went on to the Paddy Power website and noticed a few odd things.  It said my bet had benefited from their guaranteed prices, which it hadn't.  My first choice won at 7/1, which was it's price that I took earlier in the morning.  The second selection finished at 7/1, I had taken 15/2 (7.5/1) so there was no increase in the price. 

When I checked the returns at the prices I had taken I found that I had been underpaid by over £21.  I queried this and was told that both races were subject to rule 4 deductions but no where can I find any Rule 4 for either of these races.  The bet had been settled at SP so there was no Guaranteed Price Bonus.  On the first, losing bet, I had there is clearly a rule 4 on one of the races. As that horse lost this didn't affect the payout on the one placed horse.

I now see that guaranteed prices aren't really that good.  Firstly Paddy Power offer lower odds than most other betting sites and if you take SP you get the full price anyway.  There's no real benefit from Guaranteed prices If a horse is being heavily backed just take the best price you can get otherwise just leave it at SP. 

Another scam these betting shops use is a free bet if your horse is second to the SP favourite. If your horse is second to anything else you get nothing. If you do get your winning stake back as a free bet, any winnings from that will exclude the free bet stake.  So if you had a £10 free bet and you put it on a 2/1 winner, instead of £30 return you only get £20.

In conclusion it seems that if you have a decent win Paddy Power can pay out whatever they like and then claim the bet is subject to rule 4.  Try as I might I can't get the figures showing on the account to add up. Even if they paid out at SP the figures wouldn't show as they do & you can't get a run down of how they calculated the bet.

08/05/2016

Things Are Getting Better

So we are almost halfway 2016 already & after a very poor start to the year health wise I can report that I am feeling much better now the summer sunshine is making an appearance.  I still get very breathless walking short distances but have managed to get out twice so far this year on the mobility scooter.  I still go to my friends house on Fridays when he is available to collect me and bring me back.

Music Updates

New York based Factory Fast records continue to send me new music & there are some brilliant artists & tracks amongst the collection.  I put all new music they send me on the rotation for the auto DJ radio station linked on the UK Get Discovered One of the best rock based albums I have from them is Steel Defender with various artists contributing the music.  The title track "Steel Defender" by Crying Steel has a definitive Class Rock sound to it.  I played it to a friend of mine who is in his 70's & he loved it.  Other artists are 21 Grams, Norse Super Band, Mister Susan, Bronson Burner & Angels Or Insects.  The album is available on iTunes & all other good media download services. 

Australian singer / songwriter Jordan Jansen has released a new single, "I'm Over You" and is releasing his first EP, "Invincible" at the end of the month.  This is available for pre-order now on iTunes. Follow Jordan on Twitter for up to date information. 

Jethro 'Alonestar' Sheeran has been awarded his first Platinum plaque for his Executive Producer / Producing of Bars & Melody "143" album which peaked at No.4 in the UK album charts.  He also has a new EP out "Cornerstone" which is available on iTunes.

I may be looking around for a new radio station soon. I fancy revisiting the Doo-Wop & Oldies club & The Music Mix to put out some of this great new music.  




28/11/2015

New Video Show

After spending some time trying to find a decent radio station to broadcast on, & failing, I decided to try my hand at video / music interviews.  First problem I encountered was that most streaming sites don't allow under 18's anywhere on their sites and not even on Camera.  I did eventually find a free streaming site that basically requires you to embed the stream on your own website. It has no chat room so you are free to use whichever chat site you prefer.  In tests this stream had a lag of between 10 & 35 seconds but seemed stable enough.

I booked rock band REBELMANN for the first show, & I found what I thought was a better streaming site, youlivenow.tv.  In tests that has around a 2 second lag and the stream seemed really good.  So I prepared the website to stream from that. An hour before we were due to go live, that streaming site wouldn't connect & when it did the sound was buffering really bad.  I rushed around to put the website back, figuring a 30 second lag was better than a buffering stream.  Well it didn't work out very well, the stream kept disconnecting, the whole show was a total disaster.  I was gutted that this happened & felt that I had let down this great young rock band, but I did manage to record the show so put it on the website for people to watch when they had time.  A couple of days after this I found another streaming site, connectcast.tv.  Lots of testing and I found it very stable, little lag, and just everything I needed. I rebroadcast the REBELMANN show and had 24 viewers, so that worked out fine in the end.

Next show was November 22 with multi-instrumentalist Griffin Tucker.  Early on the morning I did have a slight problem connecting to the streaming site but then it seemed to go fine.  The show itself went really well, although the stream did drop for a few seconds about halfway through.  I'm not sure if this was the server or my ISP who are working on yet another upgrade to our speed.  Downside of this show was that half way through I realised I hadn't hit the record button so anyone that missed it can't get to see it now.

My next guest is another talented youngster, 15 year old Canadian singer / songwriter Cameron Molloy. We will be discussing his music, his influences & another aspects of his life as well as getting 4 live acoustic songs. It is a slightly later start to the show, 8pm UK, 3pm EST, because Cameron has a hockey match on the morning and couldn't make it home in time for a the normal start time.  Hopefully I'll remember to hit the record button this time.

02/08/2015

Talk Talk won't let you talk

I visited a friends house over a week ago and they told me they had no Internet or phone. I checked to make sure the micro filters were in and also replaced them with new ones but still nothing. When I got home I went on to Talk Talk's website and found a link that tested the phone line.  It clearly showed a fault but as it was almost midnight I left it until the following day.

On Saturday 25th of July 2015 I went back on to the Talk Talk website and found a live chat.  I had a chat with someone, I believe in India, who seemed quite helpful but by Sunday it appeared they weren't. On Sunday had another chat with a different rep and this time they did seem to be very helpful, claiming to have booked an engineer call back on the Monday between 12 & 2pm. This didn't happen and I have spent over a week trying to get my friends phone and Internet back on. 

She was originally with AOL who used Talk Talk for their UK Internet & phone accounts which initially worked really well. I was with AOL for many years and had very few problems & those I did have were resolved very quickly. We took a look at her AOL account only to find that they had migrated her account to Talk Talk, without any notice or option to opt out and change providers.  We we tried to log in on the Talk Talk site we couldn't because it appears AOL have failed to pass on the account details.  This means my friend can't control her account and basically Talk Talk can take anything from her bank account and she is helpless to do anything about it. An email to their helpline got a quick reply but nothing since. 

She phoned Talk Talk to try and resolve the problem and after wasting £8 using her mobile phone she got no where.;  I gave her the AOL number and she got through to the complaints department.  This is the difference between AOL & Talk Talk, she told them she was using her mobile phone & how much it was costing. They told her to hang up and called her back straight away.  She said they were really helpful and have now arranged an engineer to call on Tuesday 4th August. 

On the Talk Talk website for over a week it claimed they were fixing the problem, but no official fix date.  They claimed an engineer had been booked but no sign of one and then out of the blue they claimed it had been fixed, which it hadn't (See Screen caps below)

In conclusion Talk Talk have the worse ever customer service and if you look at their twitter feed and their forum you can see the horror stories that others have had to endure.  They were found to be charging people for accounts that had been closed for months, leaving people in hundreds of pounds of debt, then having the nerve to send debt collectors to claim money they weren't even owed.  One woman was charged £50 for a missed engineer call when in fact no engineer turned up.  She was without phone or Internet for 45 days.  JOIN THEM AT YOUR OWN PERIL

15/04/2015

The Great Virgin Media Mystery

I guess I could call this "who stole the super charger" to make it more interesting but it is still a great mystery. It all started last September with an email from Virgin Media saying we were getting a free upgrade from 30Mb to 50Mb and this would be complete between November 2014 and January 31 2015.  One month later, In October, another email informing us the monthly subscription was going up by £1.50 a month, so someone already stole the "free" from this upgrade.

Moving forward, January came and went, no upgrade, just a webpage you could use to check the progress in your own area.  They said end of February, then March, still no sign, April joy of joys, it said the network in my area had been upgraded, but no information when I would get my new faster speed.  I figured it would kick in eventually and just ran the odd speed test, no different, well actually it seemed to be giving lower speeds but these were so small as to not concern me.

I chatted on-line with someone from Virgin Media to see if I could find out why my speed hadn't gone up to the 50Mb, thinking maybe I need to opt in to it or something. The rep told me the network had been upgraded but it wasn't fully on their system yet but it would be ready soon.  That sounded o.k. at the time and I left it.  Today I go back to the website, put my postcode in and it now says they are upgrading the network, it should be ready by the end of May. Who stole the super charge?

The whole company is one big joke. They ask you to recommend a friend and they'll give you £50 off your next bill. The few friends I have left are worth a lot more to me than £50 and no doubt they would put the monthly subscription up to recover it.

They say they are the only company to offer cable broadband without a phone line, which is great for people like me who rarely use the phone.  This however comes at a price, as little as £5 cheaper than having the phone, despite being less maintenance.  If you equipment develops a fault you can wait up to 3 weeks for an engineer, but they still take the cash from your bank every month.

No one asked for this upgrade and the speeds I get with 30Mb are fine for me.  Since October I have basically been paying for this upgrade but not getting the service. They should refund EVERYONE the £1.50 a month they have taken since October until they proivide the service they promise.

If you need a phone line and fast broadband check out BT infinity, I have heard nothing but good things about this. Sadly that isn't available in my area but as soon as it is I will be looking to move.