Telcoms, Bah Humbug!

Copy of email sent to O2
I live about a mile from the Sandy Heath radio mast and can see it from my bedroom window. Most if not all telecos have gear installed on it, including EE, my current provider, and O2. Despite that the EE signal often goes off, sometimes for a whole day. So I ordered an O2 PAYG SIM which came today.
I inserted it in the phone, switched it on and… no signal. The instructions say to activate I have to top up, by calling 4444 from the phone. But there’s no signal. There’s also the option to activate online, but do I really want to activate a SIM that doesn’t work and waste a minimum of £10?
So I went to the ‘Contact’ page. No phone number. I mean why would a phone company list a phone contact?
I clicked the contact button and got a message, something like Hang on while we check if there’s an agent free… Obviously there wasn’t because the message stayed there for ever.
I went to the Complaints page and there I found contact number I should try first before making a complaint.
I called and got the usual menu options, but none for Pay As You Go. There was Pay’n’go but I ‘d never heard of that so I ignored it. Eventually someone in the Pay Monthly team told me Pay’n’go was the same as Pay As You Go. He offered to put me through. He couldn’t explain why the phone options are different from the website options.
Long Wait.
Then, ‘The Pay’n’go team need your mobile number.’
‘Haven’t got one because I can’t get a signal therefore can’t authorise the SIM.’
Long wait.
‘Can I have the SIM number?’
It’s printed very small in pale grey for some reason but I read it eventually.
Long wait.
Eventually I get through and tell the guy the problem. He asks for the phone number. I explain. He asks for the SIM number. I read it again. Why is it grey and tiny? There’s plenty of room on the surrounding plastic. He tells me to authorise the SIM. I explain it again.
I ask him to check if there is a signal in my area. He checks. There isn’t.
I ask when it will be restored. He tells me tomorrow ‘evening’. After 11pm. So in effect I can’t use the SIM until Friday.
Is this typical O2 service? Does the Sandy mast fail often? Should I look elsewhere?

Phil Thane


Some low-life, or more likely some automated script, hacked my website and scattered so many files around I ran out of disk space and hence people trying to contact me on Oct 16 got a ‘Mailbox full’ message. Sanity has now been restored.

For the techies, using Cpanel file manager I got my password changed by the hosting company, deleted all the dodgy looking files and directories from public_html, downloaded the rest of public_html to my desktop and ran ClamAV on the whole directory. Didn’t find anything. Hope that’s all…

Script kiddies

It appears some goon has been trying to hack my website, I’ve found several files that don’t seem to belong. But I’m no expert and a bit cautious so I’ve renamed them. If everything works OK after a few days I will assume they are either malware or redundant and delete them.

Recent Diesel Car work

Just got PDF files for two recent pieces I wrote for Diesel Car magazine’s EcoCar supplement.

VeryParticular deals with arguments about where particulate pollution comes from and whether or not hybrids and electric vehicles are as bad as has been suggested in some publications.

UsedEVs is a look at the rapidly developing market in secondhand Electric Vehicles.


Back to business, we’ve finished moving stuff and got the house sorted. The office is functional the server is running and online, I got my accounts sorted in time for HMRC deadline day and I’ve no excuse for not touting for more work. But first, need to post some recent samples from Diesel Car magazine.


I’ve blogged about ownCloud before, and written a couple of features about it for MM. Unlike a lot of software that I’ve installed, tested, written about then forgotten, ownCloud is in regular use.

My entire /home/phil directory is synced to an ownCloud server, which is just an old Athlon 3500+ desktop sat in my office, and I can access it from anywhere with an internet connection. It’s so convenient I’ve installed the client on my wife’s PC and use a folder we can both access for simple file transfers between our machines. Changes are afoot though some falling out between the majority of ownCloud devs and the management of the ownCloud company which markets the supported commercial version has led to the majority of devs leaving.

Being open source of course they left with a full copy of the source code which they have forked to create Nextcloud, and have just put out their first release with instructions for upgrading from ownCloud.

We’re moving house soon (-ish subject to lawyers) so the server and network is all going to be packed away. Once we’re settled I think I’ll stick a new disk in the server and install Nextcloud from scratch, and do it right this time using MySQL rather than the default SQLite.

Garden Looking Good

Garden Looking Good

We’re selling up and moving house so I went round and took some photos of the garden looking at it’s best. (Click to enlarge)