Bad bad Orange (mobile phone co.)

Alan and Carolyn Mazkouri got a huge shock when their bill for their mobile phone dropped onto the mat.

Although this is an extreme case it is very easy to get a high bill with data charges.

Although this is an extreme case it is very easy to get a high bill with data charges.

A £163,178.86 sized shock for data charges on the mobile – the equivalent of connecting to the Internet every 20 minutes and grabbing data, for about 3 weeks.

His usual bill was around £300 per month, but that covered both his phone and that used by his business.

This was after Mr. Mazkouri had an overheating problem with his phone and it was replaced by the shop from where he had purchased it.

Now if that wasn’t bad enough – it gets worse.

Orange (the mobile phone company), who had let this build and build for weeks, decided that, despite having agreed to cancel this excessive debt, they would continue to bombard him with the usual threats and heavy handed techniques for the next 7 months.

It would seem that there are few safeguards in this market to stop this kind of thing happening though the question must be raised “Who is responsible?” – personally I think that if you want the latest/greatest tech, then you have a responsibility to learn about it and not get yourself into these ridiculous situations…
Describing this incident as an “absolute misery” for him and his family, Orange finally cancelled the debt and gave the family £250 compensation.

Sounds to me like someone should investigate the cause of this, there seems to be some malware installed on to the phone at some point, and that racked up the huge bill.

Sadly though, it is far too easy to get into this situation with the modern insatiable appetite for data, as many parents find out once they get their phones back from the children.

Here’s an example of a child playing a ‘freemium’ game and racking up a bill for £1700: Freemium – and a £1,700 iTunes bill

Far, far too easy…

Windows 8 Update

After getting off to a rocky start, Windows 8 is getting an update; Is this Microsoft finally admitting it was not a good thing? – well the answer is ‘almost’.

After a difficult start Microsoft is updating Windows 8.

After a difficult start Microsoft is updating Windows 8.

Microsoft announced today the ‘update’ to Windows 8 would be coming next month, but even though they said that they had listened to ‘feedback’ they refrained from letting us know just what would be included.

It is widely speculated that the Start button will be making a comeback, and that the ‘feature’ making you boot into that horrible, block based, start screen would be removed – allowing you to boot directly to the desktop. 🙂

Oddly Microsoft also announced that the next version of Windows – code name ‘Windows Blue’ would be released before the end of the year. This is the main point that pundits are picking up on to say that MS are admitting that Windows 8 was a flop.

Windows usually gets released on a more lengthy time scale, for instance, Windows XP was released on 25th October 2001 (and I still have clients using it!), and the next version, the much hated Windows Vista, was released on 8th November 2006. Only where the versions of the products have been terrible do we see a much shortened release schedule:

  • Windows Millennium – Bad – lasted 13 months  (6)
  • Windows XP – Good – lasted 61 months  😎
  • Windows Vista – Bad – lasted 12 months  (6)
  • Windows 7 – Good – lasted 51 months  😎
  • Windows 8 – Bad? – replaced in about 12 months?  (6)

The reasons for this are obviously open to opinion and speculation, but in my opinion the reasons are simple.

Message to Microsoft if you are listening to ‘Feedback’: Please try to accommodate both markets, the business and consumer markets, with products that work for the market targeted, and please stop following Apple and innovate!
There are 2 markets in the IT world: That which I’ll call the Consumer Market, and the Business Market. Product development is mainly driven by the Consumer Market, where it’s fashionable to have the latest gizmo, though the market spend is driven by the Business Market.

This means that if you release a bang whizz gizmo in to the Consumer arena, then it will need to appeal to the business users too, to maintain sales and traction.

There are several cases where the sales figures show that the traditional PC market is in decline, and that mobile and tablet computing is rising; but I think that this is due mainly to the ‘Apple Effect’, whereby it’s almost a social faux pas not to be sporting a cool phone or tablet socially. Thought this strongly affects the market, it’s not its sustaining force, it’s the businesses (in particular the businesses that buy ‘as needed’ instead of licensing) where the money is.

In business it’s not a good idea to keep pace with the ever-changing face of techno-fashion (unless that’s your industry), and instead, business users want stability and familiarity.

This is what Microsoft forgot. 💡

Windows 8 was primarily designed for a touch screen interface – great for tablets and mobile computing, bad for desktop computing. Imagine having to reach across you your monitor to click an icon all the time and you’ll get the picture.

Once you remove this from the Windows 8 package and its a great operating system; it’s faster and more stable than Windows 7 for instance, but the problem is you can’t get away from the touch interface, as it’s an enforced system.

In my opinion, Microsoft should release a consumer version of Windows and a business version; Windows Home and Professional anyone? Why they decided to abandon this model is anyone’s guess.

Let’s see just what Windows Blue brings to the table – given the flip-flop nature of good/bad Microsoft’s operating systems, this one should be good!

Competitive Quotes

Sometimes we get an insight into the unscrupulous nature of some of our competitors, and the lengths they go to, to bamboozle their clients in to buying pointless tech, or keeping their contracts because they appear indispensable.

Now this should be on the corporate blog, but I feel it’s a little personal to be dropping in over there, so forgive me for this little rant – lets call it cathartic!

We believe in being honest with our clients and not confusing them in to buying.

We believe in being honest with our clients and not confusing them in to buying.

To give a little background on why this has popped up I’ll tell a few details of a recent requirement for a couple of potential clients.

Firstly, we were asked to take an objective view of a local business who “no longer trust” (their words), their IT guy.

It took about 5 minutes to prove that they were being charged for a non-existent, online backup system, and being massively overcharged for PC equipment (£430 for a £150 PC anyone?). (6)

Did they kick out the lying cheat?

No… 😯

Secondly we’ve been passed a quote by a competitor who is offering to replace one of 3 servers (in our opinion they don’t actually need 3 – instant saving of a few thousand pounds).

The competitors quote lists every step required for the completion of the job, including some unnecessary steps, and quoting for an upgrade to Windows 7 for PCs that actually come with it installed.

In this case the IT guy quoting is a friend of the MD, so let’s see what happens once this bombshell hits.  ❓

Call me a cynic but…

We do our utmost to ensure that any client who comes to us, gets a clear and concise quote with as much or as little detail as they want so they can make a simple decision as to the yes or no of what we are offering.

Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, but I fail to see the logic of maintaining a professional relationship with someone who has been scamming your company for an untold time.

Tor says that we don’t want clients like that and I’m strongly inclined to agree ~ especially as acting as a low-level expert witness has shown us just how many of these cases end up in court.

Biking in Leeds and Bradford

Now I’ve become known as a bit of a cyclist, I am getting frequently asked what experiences I’m having, riding about the roads of Leeds and Bradford.

This is the Merida Crossway 300-D hybird bike

This is the Merida Crossway 300-D hybrid bike.
With a few minor alterations it’s my current ride.

The main question is “are you mad?!”

To paint a picture of my usual ride to the office, I set off up a huge hill, join the A647 Bradford Road towards Bradford at Pudsey, and follow that along to Bradford.

Suffice to say that this is not the most “traffic free” route – in fact it’s always stupidly busy – so not one for the faint of heart.

I should also add that the office is based in the BD3 postcode, which, according to the local police, has huge problems with uninsured and unlicensed drivers. Nothing to worry about then…

Now to answer those few who are asking me just how much ‘fun’ can be had zipping along such a busy route, and dropping in to a chaotic area; the answer is simple – lots!

I have had few issues in all the times I have taken this route; I think that is mainly down to  a few things:

  • I tend towards being a courteous rider, not weaving in about the traffic, smiling and thanking drivers, stopping at the lights and speeding up if I have to get in the way.
  • The busyness works in my favour in that the traffic is not zooming along at crazy speeds (it’s not unusual for me to be going faster that the traffic)
  • Drivers around here are used to the idiots pulling out without looking etc. and are more aware of their environment.

Now this is not to say that I have not had a couple of incidents, mainly down to drivers pulling out of junctions without looking, or miscalculating my speed and being a little slow off the line. 🙄

There is also a couple of places where there are actual bike lanes I can use to separate myself from the traffic and get a little more room – though the traffic does get a little too close to the curb to pass at the major junctions, but you can pass if you are careful.

I must say that I enjoy the ride; on a sunny evening it’s a pleasure to jump on the bike at home time and pedal towards home.  😎

We also have a couple of clients on the route of the canal, and that is a great route to bike along. It actually makes visiting those clients more fun that it was originally (I enjoy going to clients sites).

The massive upside is that with the traffic being as it is, it is actually quicker to cycle home than it is to drive, and I’m getting fitter.

It’s all positive in my mind, so not mad at all – well, all positive except that massive hill, which nearly kills me, every time I tackle it! 😥