June 21, 2015 at 1:06 pm | Blog | No comment

A review is not something I do. For this phone, after using it as a cheap smartphone for Download Festival, I feel it’s worth giving my two cents on this device. So here we go – a review of the JIAKE F1 Android Phone, bought for £40 including postage off Ebay.

Jia-who?

JIAKE, or to use the full name, Shenzhen JIAKEDA technology co. LTD, is a Chinese phone manufacturer. At the time of writing, their website was not working, but there was a shop showing a selection of very similar looking Android phones, some looking very suspiciously similar to other manufacturer models. We’re expecting quality here*.

* We’re not expecting quality here. We’ve got quite low expectations.

What do I get for £40?

First, you get the mobile phone and a 2200mAh. It doesn’t feel terrible in the hand, the plastic back isn’t a horrible flat cheap plastic as say the Samsung Galaxy S3 has, so points on that one.

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It comes with some basic in-ear headphones (which I would not trust to give me a decent quality sound), an EU USB charger (thanks for the effort for not giving me a UK charger), a Micro-USB cable which seems solid enough, and for some bizaare reason, a case with Michael Jackson on it. The case makes handling the phone very uncomfortable and parts of the plastic want to cut into my hand.

IMG_1678

There’s also a small 8 page manual in very broken English. Here’s some examples. “Calculator. This feature allows you to mobile phone become a calculator. carry on some simple arithmetic.” “From computer to transfer music, photos and otehr files to your memory card, you must dfirst mobile phone memory card is set to U disk.”. It’s confusing, and again, I wasn’t expecting much.

The box is an interesting one. The front, of the box looks like it’s having an identity crisis. You see the phone, but you also note in the top left of the phone screen it says ‘iPhone’. Quality.

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The back is no better. It’s a direct copy of the back of a Samsung Note phone.

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The phone

Specs wise, it’s nothing to write home about. Dual Core 1.2Ghz, 512MB RAM, 854×480 TFT screen, basic WiFi GPS, nothing special. The phone has Dual SIM though, which was useful at a festival when EE would decide to muck up and I’d have to rely on GiffGaff being solid.

Screen wasn’t fantastic. Looking at it straight on, it’s not terrible, but the viewing angles is naff.IMG_1681

Phone calls were OK. The sound quality was poor, but just about OK to hear what the other party was saying. The other side was able to hear me properly, so not a terrible experience. Switching between SIM cards was painless, more thanks to Android.

The Dual SIM side of things is pretty solid, but once again that’s more thanks to the Android OS being able to handle that well. 3G worked fine on both SIM cards, calling and texting between the two was simple.

Sending text messages and emails and using the on screen keyboard was OK. You were given by default a custom keyboard, but switching to the default Android keyboard was painless, and worked fine. Swiftkey didn’t want to respond at all on the phone.

Now, trying to do anything else on the phone, like use the Facebook or Twitter apps, BBC News, Spotify, anything, the phone ends up getting overloaded very quickly. Apps will grind to a halt, or will just close randomly. Try using something memory intensive like Chrome, ha! Good luck. 512MB of RAM on that phone is just too little! You cannot do anything useful.

I tried to use a memory optimiser (Du Speed Booster is my personal choice). It helped, but when running no apps and you’re at the home screen, you only have 16% of memory remaining, you’re not going to be able to do much.

Listening to music. Wow the headphone jack is awful! The maximum volume out of that jack is poor, the audio is distorted, I didn’t think it could be that bad. Thankfully, during Download I was able to hook up my bluetooth speakers, which apart from when the phone ran out of memory and crashed, worked fine.

Camera, I would like to point out that it was advertised as a 5.0MP camera, and on the back the phone says ‘HD’.

 

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Somehow, I don’t think so.

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Overall verdict

It was an end to a mean. I needed a smartphone for a music festival with wifi, which I wouldn’t have cared much for if it had got nicked. It served that purpose. Using it for a week, it wasn’t terrible but wasn’t a great experience. Using it as a full time phone, no. Not a chance.

June 21, 2015 at 1:06 pm | Blog | No comment

May 29, 2015 at 11:00 pm | Blog | No comment

Emotion is not normally one of the things I express (apart from grumpy and moaning going by my Facebook/Twitter feeds), but today was a day where emotion really hit me at my Grandfather at his funeral.

The few weeks after his death, I felt oddly normal. I’m not down in Gloucestershire as much these days with my family, and I hadn’t seen my Grandfather since my Grandmother’s birthday celebrations a few weeks ago, so his lack of presence didn’t really click. Today though at the chapel in Gloucester Crematorium, reality hit me, and hit me very hard. The thought that one of my grandparents was no more, I would never see him again, and that thought hurt me today.

My Grandfather was an electronic engineer, studied at Loughborough College, did his national service repairing aircraft and at one point in his career he was lecturing at Stroud Technical College. I can remember him always fixing things in the house. I can recall him when I was young of him fixing me and my brother’s VCR player as it decided to chew up the tape. I can also recall stories of him always fixing stuff, anything electronic he would mend, and make sure that everything worked and blended into the background. I wonder who I got that trait from.

My Grandfather was also a DIY fanatic, mechanic and also into photography. There are loads of photo albums back at my Grandmother’s house, and I’m pretty sure sitting on a tape in my parents living room is either me or my brother at the local Sports Centre when I was very young at one of our birthday parties, always behind the camera filming or taking photos.

The last 7 years haven’t been kind to him. He suffered a stroke in 2008, and was unable to walk after breaking his hip a year later. He nearly died in Berkeley Hospital after carers were severely neglegant (the hospital shut down a year later), his hip replacement surgery was botched, but while it was difficult he was still able to live on. It may have not been the best 7 years, and the ending may not have been fantastic, but even then in those times were good memories to remember, and I’m glad that his suffering has come to a peaceful end.

I always looked up to my Grandad being the more technical member of the family compared to anyone else. Grandad your guidance and help over the last 23 years has been invaluable. You were dearly loved and will be sorely missed by all.

RIP Grandad, James Wynne Williams. 29th December 1930 – 17th May 2015.

PICT0068

 

May 29, 2015 at 11:00 pm | Blog | No comment

April 28, 2015 at 10:57 pm | Blog | No comment

Once again my blog is neglected. Oh the humanity….

Nearly finished at UWE

2015-04-18 15.15.04It feels like I’ve been at UWE for years, and technically I have been there for nearly five years, but the end is near. Two weeks ago I handed in my Final Year Project (details on the project I will upload soon) and freedom has now commenced! (Sort of, still working at the Students’ Union). Celebrations started with a brewery tour of Wickwar. Free ale for two hours, I was pretty happy at the end of it.

I say nearly finished, I’ve got to demo my project later on in May, but that’s not too daunting. Just so long as nothing fails on the day. Sod’s law will probably be in full force.

I’ve been saying to myself and to other people that I’ve wanted to hurry up and finish my degree, that I want to stop learning full time and just do a job, make things happen and get paid to make things happen. Since starting working full time again, it’s a pleasant change. I don’t have to wake up and panic, have I done this on my project, do I need to learn this. I can get up, go to work, go home and relax. I can relax on weekends. It’s a huge relief.

… until I have to start dealing with Council Tax issues. Welcome to the real world, here’s an extra £140 per month tax bill. Jeez, thanks for that South Gloucestershire Council.

Long overdue website redesign done!

I finally bothered to redesign my website. This is one of those things that I’ve had on a post it note on my noticeboard for months and months, telling myself I’ll do it when I have a free moment. I finally had that moment last Sunday, where I just sat at my computer for a few hours and spat out a simple WordPress theme with some fancy CSS on the homepage. I think it works quite nicely for now, but I’m tweaking the design daily and fixing issues as I find them.

It certainly showcases my web skills better than a free WordPress blog theme does. Check out the 404 page as well for complete self-humiliation.

I’ve also had time to maintain my servers and do some freelance work as well. Crazy!

Other stuff

Over the last few weeks and months I’ve found myself working on a few student projects. I’ve helped media students down at Bower broadcast their live TV shows, including the Varsity Day results show, a music based show called Bristol Vibes and talk show E-Bristol TV. It’s been great to see some quality productions from these students and I’ve been proud to help them send their show out to the world (wide web). Also means I get to go to Bower Ashton a bit more often.

The Varsity Day broadcast set

The Varsity Day broadcast set

I also helped out with the annual Battle of the Bands competition with my mate Jack. This all came to an end last Friday with the final, where it was broadcasted on Hub and live in Escape Bar. So relieved that nothing major went wrong that night. I’ve also acquired a lot of AudioBoom followers all of a sudden, as all the interviews were uploaded on my account and got put onto the featured list. No pressure then.

Battle of the Bands 2015 – The Final by Hub Radio on Mixcloud

That’s pretty much it for now. Next on the agenda, find a new place to live.

April 28, 2015 at 10:57 pm | Blog | No comment

January 3, 2015 at 8:35 pm | Rant | No comment

amazonlogistics

If anyone has ordered stuff through Amazon and have had to deal with a disgrace of a courier service on a constant basis, then you have my deepest sympathies. If you’ve not, let me explain how utterly crap they are by sharing my previous experiences.

April last year, I ordered a pair of vans shoes. Amazon Logistics were tasked to deliver the item to my workplace. They make the delivery the next day at a reasonable time, but not to the right place. Instead of my office, they managed to deliver it and other campus deliveries to one of the on-campus accommodation offices instead. Apparently the delivery driver just dumped a pile of parcels and walked off. I end up going in the next day to collect the parcel, but it’s disappeared, lost in my university’s internal mail system. Two calls to Amazon customer services and they send me a new pair out, nearly two weeks later. You could blame my university’s mail system for losing the parcel completely, but it was the pure laziness of a Logistics driver who caused the problems. Both me and the University complained about this.

October last year, I ordered two WD Red hard drives. Amazon Logistics were the courier of choice once again, ordered Wednesday, out for delivery on Thursday to my work place. They thought delivering at 6pm to an office was a smart idea (You would have thought a parcel labelled “University of the West of England” would have given it away), but they didn’t even attempt to ring the bell at the door or look inside to see that there were still people working. They attempt again on Friday but just plain failed to turn up. After another heated phone call to Amazon customer support, they offered me an extra month of Prime and then delivered to my home address, but they weren’t willing to deliver until Monday. So much for using the weekend to set everything up.

This week, my housemate Dave used my Amazon account to order a smoothie maker. Simple enough, dispatch Friday and be here today (Saturday). Amazon Logistics were once again selected to make some sort of attempt at a delivery. At the same time I had some cheap speakers and a HDMI cable also dispatched on the same day. At 12:32pm, DPD arrive with my speakers. At 8pm today, I still have nothing from Amazon Logistics. I ring them up and give them a piece of my mind once again, demanding they mark on my account in capitals “DO NOT USE AMAZON LOGISTICS”.

I’ve not even mentioned the several times Logistics have sent out next day deliveries, only for them to not bother the day they’re due for delivery and end up delivering two or three days later than asked. What am I paying Prime for Amazon if they can’t be bothered to give me next day delivery.

There’s also the countless times Amazon Logistics have been tasked in delivering stuff ordered by my workplace, and fail to deliver on time or deliver at all.

Amazon Logistics are hopeless. They’re an abomination, disorganised, unaccountable and useless. They make Yodel look good (Yodel make the deliveries on time, just always to the wrong address it seems). Amazon Logistics needs to be shaken up and reorganised, or just cease to exist. Use other couriers like DPD. They are fantastic, always appear when they say they will. Why can’t you do that Amazon. Explain?! Even Royal Mail is a better substitute.

If you want more bed-time reading of how poor Amazon Logistics are, here’s a whole forum thread of complaints on Amazon’s own forums.

January 3, 2015 at 8:35 pm | Rant | No comment

July 6, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Blog | No comment

Back in October, I was involved with a different kind of charity fundraising event – a 25 hour gaming marathon. The event, ‘Ctrl Alt Donate’, was run by one of my trusted friends Tig to raise money for Bristol Children’s Royal Hospital. Last Friday, £700 worth of toys and games were donated to the Hospital, a fantastic result!

Pile of gifts donated from funds generated by Ctrl Alt Donate

Pile of gifts donated from funds generated by Ctrl Alt Donate

If I rewind the clock days before the event on November 2nd 2013, I can remember me frantically trying to sort out internet access for the event. You’d think getting an internet connection was trivial but there’s a whole load of red tape to jump through with the university’s IT systems, making sure that computers were secure, security considerations, and so on and so on. It also didn’t help that there was an IT maintenance and shutdown weekend. It was looking unlikely to be able to get the provision, but days before the event, a breakthrough occurred, we had internet!

To see the toys finally appearing and being donated on Friday was a nice feeling, and to get a mention from Tig in the press release was really kind of him and I thank him for that.

But then this post on our Facebook group was made by Tig:

We need to do more for the hospital. What we’ve managed to do is huge but I had no idea just how much help they need. The quote that hurt me the most today was “what we do is still seen by many as being a luxury, rather than a key part of a child’s treatment”

What the event did was fantastic and raised a lot of money, there’s no doubt. However after hearing what Tig experienced on Friday, I think that just spurs the next Ctrl Alt Donate to be even bigger! Roll on Saturday 25 October.

July 6, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Blog | No comment

April 13, 2014 at 1:03 am | Blog | No comment

The latter two days were so busy and draining on me, I’ve not had much chance to recite my experiences until now, back at home in Bristol.

Breakfast at the Adelphi.

Breakfast at the Adelphi

After a brief sleep in the Adelphi Hotel (and managing not to fall out of my bed), we were treated to breakfast downstairs. Considering the hotel wasn’t fantastic, to have an alright buffet breakfast was nice. The coffee…. less coffee more hot water with a dash of coffee. Not again.

9am, it was time to get back into the swing of things and continue where things were left off. I didn’t mention in my last post, but a procedural motion got passed to extend the ‘guillotine’, i.e. give more time to a policy zone before everything is cut off. So we were still discussing Education Zone.

Debate and motions continue to go on, then we get to Motion 215 labelled ‘A new deal for Education Funding’, the basics is improve funding by lobbying politicians ahead of the general election. Fair enough, then amendment 215c comes along called ‘Free Education’. Hazard a guess what that means. Now this amendment caused a lot of debate, and eventually after a lot of debate and procedural motions, it came to a vote… and it was close. 280 for – 213 against. The whole vote had to be counted, and had to be done the old fashioned way by locking up the room and holding up your voting card. My arm hurt after a while, as did most of the conference floor.

After all that, motion 215 passed to mixed response, we then went on to starting the Elections to elect the next NUS president. Hear speeches, vote on the way out, pretty simple. Then onto the lobby where it’s full of campaigning for the next round of voting, three of the VP’s.

Picture of the NUS Conference 2014 lobby with lots of people promoting their candidates.

Back into conference after the break, we go into the Welfare zone (Tom was happy). During this zone, a number of motions came up under the topic of ‘Zero hours contract’. The basis here was people wanted them to be banned completely. As someone who’s employed by their Students’ Union under a ‘immoral’ zero hour contract, I don’t want to see them banned. Now I can see why people view them as wrong, I can see how employers can abuse them. However they give so much flexibility to employees like myself. I can choose to do only a few hours one week, yet do 30 the next. To see me restricted to contracted hours would not be beneficial to me or my employer. That’s my view on the matter. Some of these motions passed, some did not. I’m just thankful my own Students’ Union does not have to adopt this policy.

The day continued onwards, elections were had, union development thanks to the two guillotine extensions earlier in the day and on day one, Union Development zone was unfortunately hit. None of those motions were discussed which was saddening. The only discussion was on what was now pointless and annoying procedural motions which had started to become the norm. 🙁

After a full day of elections and motions, before things could end came the AGM. This had another set of interesting motions, including Motion 701 and 702. In short, the motion set out to block out 50% of exec for self-defining women, and 50% of NUS delegates have to be self-defining women, all in the name of equality. Now before I get myself beheaded with my views, I am for equality! (Hi, LGBT student here). However, I don’t think that blocking out 50% for women is the best way. As Lisa pointed out to me since we had discussions about it, she wants to be elected on merit and to represent all students, not just female. She was livid about the motion, and had actually prepared a speech against it. It was a shame she was never selected to speak on the matter but shows that this was a very heated debate. Oddly enough, when it came to a vote, it was close and we went to a count again. This count took about half an hour as well.

After all that, the AGM was stopped and set to continue into day 3, and after a bite at Nando’s a short rest was well needed. No partying for me or half our delegation. Bright and early at 7am the next day though since we were helping out with Tom for his Block of 15 campaign. No shower though, the water in the hotel was coming out slightly brown. I dread to think what’s caused that.

Day 3 morning was spent handing out flyers to delegates (which I hate doing) before conference resumed. Today was more on finishing the AGM and elections for Block of 15, DPC and trustees so was a less intense day.

 

AGM resumed later on that day, and boy did the procedural motions get out of hand. There was challenges to voting count, then a challenge of no confidence in the chair for preferential selecting of delegates for speeches (which I could see the point and sympathise on). That failed, people moved on. Started going through lapsed motions and emergency motions, eventually someone put in a procedural motion to suspend all procedural motions. Finally, someone saw sense. I didn’t even know you could do that. That passed, we finished the rest of the AGM and conference in relative peace.

And so, NUS conference came to an end, and I arrived back in gloomy Bristol around 8pm. Overall, this was a definitely interesting experience, was nice to hear some passionate debate and to represent my union and university on a national scale was something different. Would I do it again… depends how mad I feel. 🙂

 

 

April 13, 2014 at 1:03 am | Blog | No comment

April 9, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Blog | No comment

To sum up the first day in NUS conference, tiring, but interesting at the same time. There has been some really interesting, passionate debates on the conference floor which is good to see and hear.

In these blogs posts, I’m not going to go through every motion that passed fell or whatever, @nusconnect is there for that. I’m just posting my experience and how I’m finding conference.

11am ish, the whole UWESU delegation and part of UBU delegation arrived in Liverpool after a 3+hr bus journey. Immediately before we entered the ACC conference centre we were already hit with campaigning for candidates for the exec elections and motions. While queuing for registration, more campaigning for candidates. So many hash tags and hughletters (sorry,  newsletters). Stickers everywhere. Feels surreal, not like SU elections.

12pm, it all begins. Conference is opened. It all began with opening speeches and a very touching tribute to Diane, a member of NUS staff who passed away recently. A standing ovation followed after the tribute, a huge amount of respect here for NUS staff and good to see staff and students in unity.

Then the fun begins. Just to shake things up, the conference starts with a bit of legal stuff under company law, so that the NUS can spend money on political expenditure. This all passed, and straight away we started with the priority zone starting with working on ‘a new deal for the next generation’. Following all the amendments and points, this all passed. A voila, a priority campaign for NUS. Exciting.

2.30, conference breaks for fringe sessions. With nothing for me to specifically go to, me Lisa and Jamie ended up grabbing a  bite to eat at a nearby restaurant at the local shopping area, oddly enough it was at Revolution. Hey, we used our society cards, discounts and bringing money back into societies (probably not, it’s not revs Bristol). A well needed meal. Had to rush finishing though as by the time we got our food, conference floor was about to reopen. We weren’t the only ones though, so thankfully we didn’t look like oddballs.

3.45, back into conference and back into the Education Zone motions. Motion 101… That was a long motion. Then a count needed to be done on ammendment G. This took a while. At least twitter came into play to keep us entertained. Motions, points of orders, procedural motions, rinse, repeat, challenging the call of the chair, more procedural  motions, you thought the SU AGM was bad, at least in NUS conference it’s sorted and dealt properly and isn’t a heckling shouting faffaround.

9.30 ish, all over for the day. Education zone finishes for the day, statements are made including one by Tom regarding the Lord mayor of Bristol and the controversy overlooking that. With everyone hungry, we all walked into Liverpool City centre, complete with bags and suitcases to find somewhere to eat. At this time, a lot of restaurants had stopped serving food, but thankfully Pizza Hut remained open for us. Awesome!

Later on, we arrived at our designated hotel, the Britannia Adelphi Hotel. Time is now nearly 11pm! The hotel could be worse, what were you expecting with a three star hotel? Not great, small bathroom, decoration stating to get a bit run down and a dated ventilation system. Room is clean though! Quick rest required, before being dragged out (not strictly true, I had a choice) to one of the election candidates Mattey’s party at a club called Modo. It’s a nice medium sized club with fancy wall lights, quite like it. No sticky floor syndrome (unlike some venues *ahem* red *cough*). Plenty of other candidates there as well such as Bristol’s candidate Tom Flynn. Didn’t stay out too long, after a long day like this, bed was a very serious option. Though getting back to the hotel took a while. A shortcut ended up being the scenic route.

And that was it. Day 1 over. I’m just thankful that day 2 isn’t a 5am wake up.

April 9, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Blog | No comment

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