Fibre Broadband Options

It’s a while until my O2 broadband contract expires but, none-the-less, after all the issues I’ve had with them I’ll be keen to move on. It’s therefore worthwhile keeping an eye on the state of the market in the meantime.

As I now have both cable and FTTC available to me it would seem churlish to not make use of it. Having said that, a quick broadband speed test still shows that I’m getting around 12Mb downloads on my ADSL+ line.

So, here’s what I’ve found. All represent broadband, line rental and free calls for evening and weekends. They are all 18 month contracts too.

BT Infinity. 40Mb downloads. Total cost is £28 pm with a £25 connection fee.

Plusnet. 40Mb downloads. Total cost is £29.48 pm with a £4.99 fee for sending you your router!

Virgin Media. 30Mb downloads (the speed is due to double in my area sometime after October). Total cost is £37 pm.

Of course, it’s never that straight forward. All of these either have limitations on their service (e.g. “traffic shaping” or download limits) and/or appalling customer service.

Maybe it’s a case of “better the devil you know” – I am, at least, well versed in the ways of their customer services departments.

So how does all of this compare, price wise, to O2? It’s difficult to say as they appear reluctant to give straight pricing on their website (they give totals but include special offers, which I’m attempting to exclude from these quoted prices). It shows £16.25 pm, but this includes my £5 for having an O2 phone plus various current offers. At least you get truly unlimited downloads.

Needless to say, O2 is still a lot cheaper than the current fibre options. It’s such a shame the O2 don’t offer fibre broadband and don’t appear to making noises that they will.


Automatically adding Simple Social Bookmarks plugin to your posts

My Simple Social Bookmarks plugin is incredibly powerful. However, if you don’t have coding skills or access to your theme files then adding it is rather difficult.

If you’re in this situation, then here’s the solution (in a future release of the plugin I’ll automate this)…

Open up the functions.php file in your theme folder and add the following lines…

// Add to Post

function add_ssb_to_post( $content ) {

    // If a single post or page, add Social Bookmarks

    if ( ( is_single() ) or ( is_page() ) ) {
        if ( function_exists( 'simple_social_bookmarks' ) ) {

            // If URL Shortener plugin exists generate a short URL for the page

            if ( function_exists( 'simple_url_shortener' ) ) {
                $shorturl = simple_url_shortener( '', '' );
            } else {
                $shorturl = '';

            // Add Social Bookmarks to bottom of post

            $content .= '<p align="center">' . simple_social_bookmarks( '', $shorturl ,'', '' ) . "</p>n";
    return $content;

add_action( 'the_content', 'add_ssb_to_post' );

I know it seems quite long but it has assorted checks to ensure that the plugin is active PLUS it will integrate Simple URL Shortener in as well. You’ll need to change the Simple URL Shortener parameters as appropriate (it’s currently set to use as well as Simple Social Bookmarks. I’ve also set up some CSS to centre the resulting bookmarks on the screen.

When done, you should have your social bookmarks added to the bottom of every post and page after the content.


Bingo sites join the social web

Well, it’s been a while coming. Bingo sites in the UK seem to rely on extravagant adverts on TV with big named stars but, unlike everyone else, appear to be missing what everyone else is milking – social media!

That’s now been corrected with new sites which offer directory and review services for such bingo sites. Yes, like everything else we now have a way of comparing and commenting on the options!

For instance, WTGbingo is an online bingo directory that gives you information about UK bingo sites – new sites, promotions, special deals, etc. Each site can be searched and there are reviews from those that run the site. The one thing currently lacking, at the moment anyway, is the ability for visitors to the site to review the individual companies. In the meantime they’re making good use of Social media “like” features, such as Facebook Like, Google +1, Digg, etc.

It’s been an eye opener too. I didn’t realise, for instance, that there were different types of online bingo sites – no deposit bingo sites, for example.

As the bingo sites all jostle to be the best the inevitable flashy websites and advertisements give way to the inevitable – search engines, comparison sites and social sharing, to make the whole experience easier. Welcome to the 21st century, bingo!


Transformers : Dark of the Moon

It’s been a while since I’ve written a film review, so I felt now was the time to resurrect that old tradition 😉

Most of the Transformers movies have been pretty naff – lots of action and explosions and not much else. The third movie isn’t much different, but it is at least better than the second one.

The idea behind Dark of the Moon is that an Autobot ship, launched during the Cybertron war, crashed on the moon in 1961. This was detected on Earth and hence the entire moon landing was part of a mission to find out what it was about. Therefore Armstrong, et al, actually landed where they did because it was near the crashed ship. There they found very little and everything was kept Top Secret. Back to today and the information leaks out. Optimus Prime upon finding out explains that the ship contained a secret weapon that could have won the war for the Autobots and it’s imperative that they get to it before the Decepticons. They do, find the weapon but it soon ends up in the wrong hands.

All the characters from the first two films return, with the exception of Megan Fox who has been replaced by an English actress with even more bionic lips and even less acting ability. I wasn’t impressed. In some cases the characters added nothing – such as Sam’s parents.

Sam has left college and is looking for a job. He’s represented as being more adult by the fact that he gets angry a lot and tries to take charge. However, like the other films, he spends most of his time complaining.

The effects, as ever, are amazing. The best example of this is the collapsing building scene, in which Sidewinder (an excellently designed Decepticon which is like a giant rotating worm) tries to destroy it and the humans inside slide around, break glass, free fall and everything else they can to avoid it.

Having said all that, the CGI for me was ruined by a few elements that were just poor. After all the time and budget spent on effects why would obvious problems be left? Here are some examples…

  1. During the road chase scene a number of cars are pushed aside by the Transformers. However you can blatantly see smoking holes on the underside of the cars where the rams have been deployed to flip the cars.
  2. At the end Bumblebee, fresh from a massive fight, drives up and his yellow bodywork is immaculate. As soon as he transforms to his robotic self, though, the yellow paintwork is scorched and damaged.
  3. The less said about the CGI’s JFK the best. It was hideous – they should have used a double as they did later in the film with Obama.

And whilst I’m having a moan… those Star Trek references. Leonard Nimoy voice a new Prime and so Michael Bay, hardly known for subtlety, crow-barred in every Trek reference that he could. Annoying.

However, even after all the above, which are more minor issues, I enjoyed it. It won’t tax you and it won’t leave you feeling any different to how you did before you saw it. And even at 2 1/2 hours long I found it just right – as it was I felt the ending was a bit rushed.

[review]Great effects,  but notable flaws and annoying aside, this was an enjoyable action film. Don’t expect too much and you won’t be disappointed.[/review]


O2, your phone number and lost services

Yesterday PC Pro a story about how system administrator Lewis Peckover had discovered that O2 were transmitting customer’s mobile number when you visited a web page. Lewis even produced a web page where you could if your phone was doing this. However, by the afternoon O2 appeared to have back-peddled quickly and removed this functionality, as my phone was not displaying any information.

Why would O2 be doing this in the first place? Well, they’ve since given a few reasons but the most important, as far as I’m concerned, is so that their website can identify you. Unlike other networks who make it difficult for you to find your remaining balances, O2 give you a useful web link to visit – it reads your phone number from the web page header and then displays the information.

Sadly, now they’ve removed the phone number transmission, that site no longer works (see screenshot from my phone). Boo. Of course, I equally don’t want my phone number spread about the internet – would it have been too much to ask to have O2 encrypt it?