Friday, 23 August 2013

Bye Google.

This blog has now moved to

I explain more here.

Please come over and join me at the new site.


Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Hot Stuff V… A Little Bit More

Just a quick one.

It seems I'm not the only one who thinks the Lumia 920 gets excessively hot:

So I may not have an issue after all.

One thing does worry me though. I'm in Canary Wharf, a site supposedly covered by a very strong T-Mobile signal, including 4G (I'm not on 4G), but this is what I see on my phone display (look at the leftmost icon, it shows no signal):

That can't be right.

I've also noticed the signal at home is weaker than it used to be (again, we've just been upgraded to 4G in my area) so I wonder if the two are related.

T-Mobile can't possibly be reducing the quality of their 3G coverage to push their 4G service, can they?

Monday, 29 July 2013

Hot Stuff - Part IV - The Final Chapter?

As I expected, EE switched off my SIM on Friday. I guess it says something about how unreliable the service was that I didn’t really notice until very late in the afternoon/early evening. I was expecting this to happen at any time, so whilst being a little inconvenient, it wasn’t too much of an issue.

In the meantime I popped in my old Orange PAYG SIM, and made a quick visit to Carphone Warehouse to top it up with a tenner (something I’ve not done for a good few years) so a few important people would be able to reach me in case of an emergency.

Amazingly, on returning home from work I discovered the new SIM from EE had already arrived, good work EE. What a shame their staff at the Stratford store weren’t up to the quality of the people on telephone support!

Putting the new SIM into the phone I expected it to be dead, however it worked straight away picking up a decent signal.

So end of story…. Probably.

I’m still getting a few signal problems in areas that should be well covered, but it seems I’m getting much better coverage overall. Additionally the phone is still getting very hot whilst doing seemingly simple things (like listening to a Podcast from the “Podcast Lounge” app, whilst using mobile Internet Explorer), so that remains some concern. I guess I’ll just have to keep an eye on it and contact Nokia if things seem too bad.

So far then, a decent outcome, albeit with a couple of hiccups along the way.
I’m yet to try tethering, so that remains a concern I suppose, but that aside, this will be hopefully the last post on this little incident.

Now, I just need to take the phone back to the care point at some point, to get the dust cleaned out of the front facing camera.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Hot Stuff - Part III

A few updates for your delight…

On returning from my failed visit to the EE store on Tuesday, I tweeted for help from Nokia, followed by a tweet to complain to EE.

Nokia got back to me after a while and we had a small discussion of how to resolve the locking phone issue. Unfortunately I had already attempted the steps they suggested, but full marks for actually making the effort. Nokia also suggested taking the phone into one of their repair centers and avoiding EE altogether. I consider this good advice after my recent experience.

Wednesday rolled around and I made the journey over to Stepney Green to the East London “Nokia Cares” (repair) center. The guy reset the phone without much fuss, and I was out within half an hour (probably closer to twenty minutes) with a working phone. This is now sporting my backup Orange SIM. Slightly worryingly I notice the device still gets very hot, this time when downloading several of my missing apps over a WiFi connection… so I may not be out of the woods yet.

Also, as an aside, the guy in the Nokia shop pulled out a second tray sitting under the SIM tray and got the IMEI number from that. Why didn’t anyone in the EE store know (or care enough to know) about this trick?

As mentioned before, my old Lumia 800 now has my T-Mobile SIM, but this is proving to be interesting too. It seems that not only are calls being dropped of failing to connect, but that after a few hours in the phone mobile data is non-existent despite the display claiming otherwise. Exactly the same issues I noticed in my Lumia 920. I know the Lumia 800 is fine having used it with the Orange SIM, so it appears the suspect for all the problems has reverted to the SIM card, not the Lumia 920 itself. Perhaps it got so hot as it was spending all its time searching for a signal?

My next step in this saga was to call EE and relay that information to them. “Oh yes, that sounds like a SIM issue” was the response, “Pop into a store and they can replace it for you.”

Call me old fashioned if you will, but after my last experience, I’m not going anywhere near an EE store if I can help it, so even though I may be without a phone connection for a week, I asked them to post me a replacement. We’ll see if this helps soon I imagine.

So back to the Lumia 920. It’s still overheating, but since I had it in a case until recently, this may be “normal” (seems a bit too warm to me, but we’ll see). So it may still need to be checked by Nokia. Talking of which, the first thing they look for when you take the phone in for repair is physical damage. Fortunately my phone had none.

Had being the key word. “Had” no damage. “Had” been living in a case.

Can you see where this is going yet?

I’m using the L920 over WiFi (the Orange SIM in it is Pay As You Go and has no data allowance) for certain apps and as a glorified MP3/Podcast player until the new T-Mobile SIM arrives. This morning whilst getting off the train at Stratford station, phone in hand, I went to look at the screen, lost my grip and in the process of trying not to drop it, batted it up in the air for it to fall hard on the brick platform.


So now the phone does show some signs of physical damage. The screen is still fine, thankfully, but the case has a couple of scratches and two sharp chips taken out of opposite corners.

So if I do take it in for inspection due to the overheating, when they look for physical damage they’ll find some. I wonder how that is going to play out.

Still, I take some small consolation that had it been a fruity phone, the front or back would be shattered into a thousand tiny fragments by now.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Hot Stuff - Part II

It seems like my fears of taking my broken Nokia Lumia 920 back to the store weren’t unfounded.

As mentioned from my previous article, the phone has been malfunctioning for a while, finally getting dangerously hot on Monday evening. The advice from T-Mobile was to take it back to the store for repair, which I just attempted.

Earlier this morning however, I decided to reset the phone back to factory state before handing it, and all my personal information, over to an unknown person. Unfortunately, on restarting, the phone just hangs at this screen 

I didn’t rush it, leaving the phone for a little over one and a half hours. A soft (or is it hard) reset by pressing the volume down and power buttons at the same time had no effect. Nokia Cares eventually came back to me with the same advice, but by then I had already been to the Stratford EE store…

On arriving at the store an assistant came over to me very promptly. I showed him the phone (still sporting its spinning cogs) and whilst I explained to him how the phone was finding itself in its current state, he barely pretended to listen, but was keen to tell me that they had no loaner phones in the store (OK then, I’ll keep the faulty phone instead then shall I?!!?!?!), which isn’t a problem as I have a few older phones to fall back on.

We removed the SIM card, and he told me he needed the IMEI number, which wasn’t on the SIM tray.

Fair enough.

He went to ask somebody else for a couple of minutes, then returned to tell me there was nothing they could do without the IMEI number, and I should take the phone and box into the Colchester store.

OK, inconvenient, but I convinced him the Stratford store was easier for me (you know, I have this crazy thing called work that tends to take me out of Colchester during the daytime, and would possibly explain why I was wearing a shirt).

Then another member of staff came over, who when questioned, mentioned that because I had bought the phone from that very store, my details would be in the system along with the IMEI number.


But neither my address or name appeared when searching by my postcode, which he was kind enough to show me on the screen. Back to the “nothing we can do without the box” line…

“But you can search under my phone number” I pointed out.

So we did.

I don’t know why I bothered. Results: 0.


Guess what, back to the “nothing we can do without the box” line…

No suggestion that we might call the T-mobile service number (150 from a phone) on the off-chance they might have it.

No provision for taking the phone, which they sold me, in for repair (it’s under warranty so would be Nokia’s problem anyway!)

No sir. I have to go back in, wasting another lunch break, and will probably find I need something else they forgot to mention.

Thanks EE. Great service there!

Hot Stuff.

Back towards the mid/latter part of February I upgraded my Nokia Lumia 800 to the (then flagship) Lumia 920, complete with Windows Phone 8. I was very happy with this device and it worked well for several weeks. I’m not going to do a review of the phone hardware or Windows Phone 8 itself as there are plenty of those out there, but here are a very few notable points:

  1. I don’t mind the weight of the device. Having upgraded from the smaller Lumia 800, itself no lightweight, the extra weight seemed a fair trade-off for a larger (excellent) screen. It also didn’t feel any heavier than my previous Desire HD, but that had been out of use for almost a year by this point. I suspect that if I had been coming from a similarly sized, but lighter phone, I would have noticed more.
  2. The OS takes much longer to boot up than Windows Phone 7.5, which was one of the things I liked most in my older device, especially after the Desire HD got itself into such a state that it would take over seven minutes between turning on to being ready!
  3. The new synchronisation software and capabilities were a step back in the new OS. Forget about the Zune name, the actual Zune software used to synchronise Windows Phone 7.x was magnificent and easily better than iTunes. The Desktop and “Modern” versions of the sync software for Windows Phone 8 are embarrassing, even now almost a year after release. Still, at least the phone finally mounted as a normal drive.
  4. The OS itself seemed a little buggier. With Windows Phone 7.5 I wouldn’t need to restart for weeks on end, Windows Phone 8 sees me reboot far more frequently; however, this may be explained by the reason I’m writing this post…

My main issue with the phone first transpired when using tethering. On my train journey home I go through several dead-spots where the connection is lost. After a couple of months I noticed the phone would not automatically re-connect to the data connection whist hotspot functionality was enabled. I put this down to a bug in the software, since switching the tethering off or putting the phone into flight mode for a moment (disabling wireless signals) sorted the problem.

Then voice calls would start to drop, eventually refusing to connect at all without “restarting” the radio.

Recently I noticed the phone would fail to connect to 3G signals, and if it was reporting a connection, even a full connection, text messages were not arriving and calls were not being connected. Similarly, data connections for phone apps refused to connect despite the supposed presence of a signal too.

Not good, but things were about to get a little worse.

Quite often, when the phone was apparently working, it would get warm in use, even when doing light browsing. Not always though. And in areas I knew were well covered with a strong signal.

Then in the last week the phone has been getting very hot, to the point where on Monday night it became too hot to hold and I had to turn it off to cool down.

I initially suspected the SIM may need replacing, but yesterday I finally called T-Mobile/EE and walked them through my experience. I was pleasantly surprised when the lady in their help team told me that it sounded like a hardware fault on the phone (normally they make you jump through hoops resetting first) and the overheating issue sounded “dangerous” and advised me to take it into a store to be looked at be the engineers.

So now I need to blank off the phone and probably switch to the old Lumia 800 for a while whilst this is investigated. Hopefully the staff in the store will be as helpful as the advice I was given on the phone and it will get sorted quickly, but I am worried I may be palmed off and told to jump through a bunch of needless hoops.

Hardware faults are going to happen, I understand that and I’m not angry in the slightest. It’s just a shame that I’ve been so worried about the inconvenience of getting this sorted that I’ve delayed doing anything about it for so long.

I’ll let you know how I get on, watch this space.

Oh, and wish me luck!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

I Like Chinese…

With all the recent scare stories about the Chinese and others spending untold man hours trying to hack the west (are they scare stories if they are grounded in at least an element of truth), the client I’m currently working for (a large multinational) have recently gone into lockdown mode to prevent themselves becoming victims.

Much of the actions being taken are somewhat sensible; The list of accessible web sites has shrunk (or rather the list of blocked sites has grown), administrator access is being removed from local/desktop machines, USB drives are blocked, only approved software can be installed and used, etc.

All sensible stuff.

Apart from the knee-jerk reaction manner in which it’s being applied is causing serious productivity issues whilst being inconsistent. Let me give you a few examples:

Among the applications being blocked were several tools used by numerous projects to perform development work, for example everything but the latest version of Eclipse, Cygwin, data folders for VM Ware slices, etc.

Then there’s the list of blocked sites, for example Facebook is fine, but MySpace is blocked.

Then there’s the additional issue of locking down the email systems. I’m running Windows Phone, but because they haven’t put it near enough the top of the list for testing (possibly because our user-base is so small) it’s not been certified in time as a secure platform (despite including BitLocker, an AES client, etc.) and so they have introduced the new security, but have to remove my remote access to email, calendars, etc. from the device. Clever.

To be fair, I suppose they are doing me a favour, where in the past I would look at emails and add tasks to my plan outside of work hours, I can no longer do this, so at least I spend less time working for free. Of course the down side is I can no longer refer to my phone to find the details of my next meeting or the phone number of a colleague in an emergency…

I could provide several more examples of how our productivity is being adversely impacted (the on disc encryption has slowed many machines down to a crawl for example, and I can’t view/edit environment variables without an “unlock code” from the helpdesk each time I try), but the issue here isn’t what or why this is being implemented. I can see a need and I agree with most of what is being done, but the implementation has been comically badly done and resulted in hundreds of lost hours.

Essentially the client has done a better job of hacking themselves than most seasoned hackers could have probably hoped for.

God job guys!