Friday, 29 July 2011

Take a Gamble on Giffgaff

Mobile phones. We’ve all got one. And as anyone who’s read the past posts on this blog will attest, I’ve had my fair share. They’ve mostly been top notch bits of tech – The O2 XDA was a nice PDA type contraption; The HD2 was an amazing (if slightly large) iPhone alternative; and the Palm Pre was a pretty damn good Blackberry substitute – until it went tits up a few months ago and was sent to the big phone bin in the sky. After being snapped in half in a fit of furious rage. But that, my friends, is a different post.

I’ve got a Nokia X3-02 Touch and Type now, and while it isn’t a smartphone like the other two were, it’s still a really nice handset that has all the features you’d expect from a mobile that should cost well over £200. Stuff like Wi-Fi, 3G, 5 megapixel camera and a touch screen. All things that you wouldn’t usually expect to have on a sub £100 (well, £79.99) phone. But I’m not really here to talk about mobile hardware today. No, what I want to waffle about is freedom. Freedom from O2, to be more specific. I’ve finally done it! I’ve broken away from the monolithic and omnipresent mega corporation that’s been sucking £50+ out of my bank account every month for as long as I can remember. And it feels good. Damn good.

You know when you think you’ve lost you wallet or your keys and have images of the shit-storm that’s coming your way, only to find them again? Where that wave of nausea and sweatiness suddenly gives way to an enlightened sense of euphoria? That’s how good it feels.

Indeed. So, June saw the expiration of my latest hellish 18 month contract and I decided that rather than go for another 24 months of shite with said demonic network, I’d move my number (via use of a PAC code) to an O2 pay as you go sim. All fine and well…until the number porting didn’t go through on the day it was meant to. And so I waited. And waited. And then on the third day after it was meant to happen I rang O2 customer service again to find out what was happening. The idiot on the other end of the phone rudely told me that there was no evidence that any such request had been made on my account (it had – about a week earlier), and so I politely requested again that it be actioned. Typical O2 uselessness rearing its unsightly head like some hideous clockwork scarecrow. Happily, after waiting for another few days, the number went across to my new sim card and I was finally a pay as you go customer. Success! Or so I thought until a week or so later when I stopped being able to receive texts. I rang customer services again, whereupon an operative who displayed unrivalled levels of arrogance and rudeness proceeded to tell me that I may have a bar on my sim card “just because.” That was his actual reason for why I might not be able to receive texts, I shit you not. At that point, I snapped, and told him give me another PAC code. I was put through to yet another imbecile who tried her best to not let me have my PAC code until I virtually screamed at her to give it to me. So she did.

I looked at the other major networks and weighed up their pay as you go tariffs and bonuses, and I was going to go with Orange due to their network coverage (which is apparently pretty good now they’ve teamed up with T Mobile) and the Orange Wednesdays offer, but that was until I discovered a network that excited me greatly. And that network is Giffgaff.

Giffgaff? Who the fuck are Giffgaff? Exactly the question I was asking myself until I discovered the amazing tariffs they offer. They only do pay as you go sim cards, and the top-up options are nothing short of staggering in this age of ubiquitous customer fleecing. Example: I topped up with £5, for which I received 60 cross-network minutes and 300 texts. For a fucking fiver! Even more breathtaking is the way that if anyone rings me from their mobile, I get an extra minute added to my balance for every minute I’m on the phone! If you choose to top up by a larger amount, you get even more free shit like unlimited mobile internet and texts etc. Remarkable stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree.

So there you go. It is possible to find truly bargainous deals when it comes to mobile networks. I’ve unshackled myself from the burden of the 50-odd quid bill and horrendous customer service of O2, and found a network where customer service is all done via a forum and email and costs virtually nothing to use. The only negative is that Giffgaff kinda runs off the O2 network and was actually set up by some O2 bigwig, but boy am I glad to be free of those cunts.

Moving on to a slightly different subject, you may recall me wanking (not literally) over the prospect of owning a Nintendo 3DS a few months ago. Well, I've finally managed to blag a go on one...and it gave me a monstous headache! It was only one of the display ones in GAME, and the game was Pilotwings or something similar (some cartoon flying game), but it was pretty rubbish to be honest. And the 3D effect was nothing like what I was expecting. When I think about it, I don't actually know what I was expecting, but it wasn't what I played the other day. I felt like I was looking at one of those magic eye things where you stare at a blob of spew for an hour and try to make out a load of dinosaurs. Or how everything looks after one too many ciders, where you start to go a bit cross-eyed. It wasn't pleasant.

I realise that you can turn the 3D effect up or down, or even completely off - but surely that defeats the object of owning a 3D-capable system in the first place. So to surmise: after playing Pilotwings for 10 minutes in a shop, I don't think I'll be investing in a 3DS just yet.

Roll on Playstation Vita...?

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

I Ran So Far Away

Finally worked out how to upload my running totals from my Forerunner watch to the Garmin Connect website this morning. It's pretty cool to be fair. Not only is it much more detailed than the software that you can install on your PC, but it allows you to share the details of your runs and training sessions. Yesterday I completed a fairly epic 22 mile jaunt around the highways and byways of Somerset and here's the little info pane that relates to the run:

I did another run today, but it was only a ten mile one as my legs were fucking killing me from yesterday's little escapade. Here's the info box thingy:

I'm doing a few more half-marathons in the coming months so this gizmo really helps with the training, and being able to embed the workouts on your own blog is a nice touch. Still on the subject of running, I bought some Saucony Jazz 13 running trainers a few weeks back to replace the bargain basement Saucony Prestige I got from M&M Direct. To be honest, the only real difference I can see between them (apart from the price) is that the Jazz are 'Pro Grid' and have a little window in the heel so you can see the cushioning thing, while the Prestige are just plain 'Grid' and have a solid heel with no window. They're both pretty comfortable, as you'd expect from Saucony, but I'm not sure splashing out on another pair was such a good idea when I'm trying to save money for my impending return to the real world (see previous posts on redundancy for clarification). Saying that though, the Jazz are a lovely shade of electric blue whereas the Prestige are boring old white, so I suppose it was money well spent. Not just an investment in fitness, but also an investment in fashion. Like the Scarlett Pimpernel. Or am I getting that reference confused with something else. Meh.