On taking the wrong decisions (and paying for them)

I have setup my Windows 10 phone using U.S. as the default location, so that I could use Cortana (currently not supported in Greece). I also enabled international assist for calling, as I travel quite often outside Greece.

Today I tried to call a landline phone on Greece. I received an automated response about the subscriber not being available – in English. I checked the number I have called only to see that it has been corrected to U.S. number and in fact I had called a U.S. number.

This costed me about a couple of euros for a 10 second call. A lesson learned – I disabled the international assist option.

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The progress of a bad day (without a mobile phone)

Yesterday, just before reaching the suburban railway station, starting my daily commute to work, I realized that I forgot my mobile phone at home. I had two choices: either to go back home and spend precious time or to move on without it. I chose the latter. Let’s see how a day without a mobile phone would evolve.

The scenery at the station was lovely: cold weather, windy and drizzling while the mountains far away were already covered in thick clouds. I usually take a couple of shots per day there, and this would be a really nice opportunity. However, I couldn’t do so without my mobile phone’s camera…

I found my usual seat inside the train and as soon as I got seated, I reached for my mobile phone to check out the RSS feeds I downloaded earlier in the morning using my home’s Wi-Fi (I do not have a mobile data plan). This is the best way to start your day, reading news about technology, work and leisure. However, I soon realized that I do not have my mobile phone with me – at least I had a book in my backpack, so I started reading. I also tried to remember of any meetings that I had for today as I usually use my online calendar, always synced with my mobile phone. I could not recall any meetings, and if there were any, I would have trouble keeping myself busing during them without my mobile phone.

I reached my destination, somewhere in the north part of Attica. It was already snowing there; a sight not common for Attica. Cars started getting this bright white color of snow, the pavements received a thin layer of tiny snowflakes. Ideal subject for taking photos but still I did not have my mobile phone.

I reached the office and settled down; I am always the first to get there and this was the case today. As soon as I entered the kitchen to brew my typical morning espresso, I realized that there was no light there. I opened up all window shades and tried to switch on the espresso machine but there was no power. I took a peek at the fridge – no power there as well. I am not the most skilled electrician but still I reached the fuse box and tried switching on some fuses that were off. No reaction – half of the office remained without electricity. The landlord dropped by and let me know that indeed the whole building was left without electricity (in fact, half of it), and that he had already called the electricity company about that. He suggested that I did the same, in order to highlight the issue of not having power in a company (like ours). I tried to do so, but both phones are cordless and they were out of order due to lack of electricity. I tried moving on of them to another power outlet but the phone line cable was too short to reach. Then I though “Ok, I can call them using my mobile phone”, only to realize that I did not have my mobile phone with me…

I gave up and powered up my laptop; I had electricity in my office. Out of habit, I tried downloading my emails but the wired connection did not provide internet access. I said “Ok, let’s try the wireless one” but it was out of order, too. Both ADSL modem/routers were left without electricity. I tried to send an SMS through the web, asking colleagues to hurry to the office and help sort things out but of course without routers there is no internet…

I took a look through the office’s window and saw the snowflakes slowly falling on the ground, the trees of the nearby park and on the rooftops of the parked cards. What a lovely subject for a photo – it only made me wish I hadn’t left my mobile phone at home.

Then I thought that this is indeed a bad day so the least I could do would be to blog about it – I knew that I couldn’t reach my WordPress-powered blog without electricity/internet connection, so my second thought was to use Simplenote for that; alas, it also required internet connection! I gave up. Entirely. I fired up MS Word and started typing this post. After almost finalizing it, I recalled that I had the Evernote desktop version installed and I could have used it for drafting my blog post! If there was any single way for me to have made a tiny cup of coffee without electricity, things might have been better…damn bad day!

Electricity was restored a couple of hours later. In the meantime, a colleague of mine (and a good friend) announced that she’s quitting for another position (probably better). I tried to reach for my phone to get a selfie with her as a piece of memory (this is how I like to call them), but of course the phone was not there.

Throughout the day we got a really nice snowfall and I kept asking my colleagues to take some photos of it – I am not sure if I will ever receive these photos but I am sure that I would have made them in a different way. Later I wanted to see how my latest Instagram photo was doing but it was not possible (only through the lousy Instagram web interface).

During a meeting I found myself playing with anything that was around on the table – only to realize that I actually needed to get my hands on my phone!

While commuting back home, I really missed checking out the new RSS feeds through my phone and editing some photos on the fly; something I usually do after a hard day at the office.

The day ended. I reached home and found my mobile phone. WiFi was turned off and I had no calls nor messages. I made a couple of urgent calls, checked out Instagram, browsed my RSS feeds and then everything went back to normal.

The risks of being a prepaid customer of Wind GR

The risks of being a prepaid customer of Wind GR

wind_GRI am a customer of Wind GR (mobile operator in Greece) since late 90s, when I got my first mobile phone (a pay as you go) as a student – it was Telestet then, renamed to TIM after some years and now Wind. Since then I never changed my number nor moved to another mobile operator so I can be considered as a loyal customer. I was never a good one, as I tend to speak as little as I can over phone (including my mobile phone) so I make only minimum consumption of my available credit balance – I am not on a contract but on a prepaid card (Wind F2G).

Talking about credit balance, I managed to obtain a rather high one throughout these years, after some nice offers from Wind which allowed keeping double (and in some cases even triple) the amount you bought as airtime. Combined with my minimum consumption of airtime, I ended up with a credit of more than 150 euros in my account. In the end, I realized that this was not sustainable, so I decided to stop taking advantage of any (and I literally mean any) new offer by Wind – instead I would slowly consume my existing balance, only adding a new amount whenever needed (initially once per year, now twice per year) in order to keep my number “alive” and my balance active.

About 15-20 days ago I received an SMS informing me that a new package was activated for me (costing 10 euros) and for this I received almost 17,5 euros of balance in my account – but with an expiration date of one month only! I did not recall activating any package/offer, so I searched online to see what happened… and I found out: Wind decided (without asking their subscribers for confirmation) to activate this “offer” considering this as beneficial for them, with a duration of 6 months. However, it was obvious that due to the expiration date (of only one month) combined with my limited use of the phone, such “offer” was not beneficial for casual users like me. In the meantime, several affected F2G subscribers had contacted the General Secretary of Consumers (an organization under the umbrella of the Greek Ministry of Development & Competitiveness, as well as the Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission, reporting the issue and filing complain forms.

I tried to find a way to cancel this “offer” and get my money back, so I discussed with the Wind Customer Care; despite the fact that the representative was kind and patient, she kept repeating parts from their website text related to the “offer” but she could not assure me that I would not be charged 10 euros per month for 6 months just for having this “offer” activated for me without my consent…at least she was kind enough to let me know that she could initiate the cancellation process. After giving it a second though, I decided that indeed this “offer” was not beneficial for me, so I asked again to have it cancelled. If this would not be accepted, I would have to issue a complaint form about that through the aforementioned services.

Indeed, after a couple of days I was informed that my balance was restored (referring to the 10 euros that I was initially charged) so everything was back to normal. What is not back to normal for me is my trust in Wind as a company; it seems that this was only one of the tricks used for charging pay as you go customers without their consent (you can Google for issues related to charging for internet access / 1 euro per day, when users are not really using internet!).

Big thanks and kudos to the Wind customer support for their help and prompt response (a good example for the Aegean customer support) but Wind, let’s get serious and start being honest to your customers or you’ll be in trouble…

Living with the Nokia Lumia 720 – update to 8.1 & Cyan

I got my Lumia 720 back in February 2014, after a long time searching for the perfect budget phone; it had to be a Windows Phone (I was really pleased with my previous LG Optimus 7 / E900), with a large (but not huge) screen and feature a nice camera with a flash, FM radio, long battery life. In the list of Lumia models, 720 was the one meeting all these requirements and still it costed less than 200 euros. With its 4,3-inch screen, 6,7MP camera with LED flash and Zeiss lens, FM radio, 1GHz dual-core CPU and almost two days of battery life it is the perfect phone.

Since February the phone has served me pretty well and has been through a lot (including heavy internet usage and a drop to a cement wall, which just caused a slight scar at one of its rounded corners). I recently also updated the original OS (Windows Phone 8) to Windows Phone 8.1 and the Lumia Cyan firmware; I have to admit that I was really looking forward to checking the new version of the OS, which provided a few but substantial improvements.

The point is that the phone became laggy and not as responsive as it used to be…I rebooted a couple of times, also tried to soft-reset but still the issue remained; not only when scrolling through menus, but also when opening apps and typing, among others. My last resort would be a hard reset. In fact I did two of them! First I checked how I could back up my phones settings; it seems that Windows Phone did pretty well with that, as not only my settings were backed up, but also my SMS, my home screen tiles even the apps I had installed before the hard reset!

The I did a hard reset through the available menu option (Reset to Factory Defaults) and after it finished, I used the method with the physical keys’ combination. After that, I let the phone boot and started setting up everything again; my comments are the following:

  • As soon as the phone booted into Windows, I was asked to enter my PIN; this resulted in the phone automatically connecting to the internet using 3G – I do not have a data plan and this incurred a not-necessary cost… Next time I will have to remember to skip entering my PIN when prompted and only do so after I have finished setting up my settings;
  • I was prompted to restore my latest backup; this led to restoring my home screen tiles, my settings, my SMS, my installed apps etc. I had to verify my credentials (by receiving a code in the alternative email address that I had provided) and to manually enter the password for each email account I had set up;
  • Most of the settings were already correct (as I had set them up) but some of them not, such as the use of mobile data for connecting to internet, the regional settings (e.g. the time & date format), default location for storing new apps, photos and videos, NFC was left to on etc.
  • All apps were automatically installed but not their settings; I had to manually enter my credentials to all of them, check their settings and take some time to bring them back to my favorite ones. This was really time-consuming but I was informed that this is due to restrictions of the OS.
  • Drive+ and Maps were not automatically installed along with the rest of the apps; I saw that the tiles in the home screen had an exclamation mark on them, informing me that the apps were missing (while for the rest of the apps, the tiles were grayed-out before they were installed). I had to manually install them, which was not a big deal but rather strange.

The point is that it took me quite a lot of time to complete the process of hard reset and set up everything again but it seems that the phone is a little bit more responsive now. If I was aware of this fact, I would have gone through the process much earlier. Apart from that, I am still really pleased with my Lumia 720 and I do not plan to exchange it for any other model before it actually “dies” in my hands (more or less like the LG Optimus 7).

Using a Windows Phone without a Windows button…

It is one of the lessons I learned the hard way:

I have this really nice LG Optimus 7 Windows Phone mobile for about a year now and I have been really happy about that. I just replaced the battery and could not complain about its performance in any case. One day, I decided to make my youngest son (just 15 months old) happy and gave him the mobile phone (airplane mode on) in order for him to listen to music, which he really loves! I decided to take my eyes off him for some minutes, so that I can check my emails…I soon realized that he was really quiet, therefore he was into something not good for me. Indeed, when he saw me he gave me back my phone, which was still playing music – but with the Windows button missing!! (just to remind you that the Optimus 7 is one of the few Windows Phones with hard buttons – not the soft ones available in the majority of the other Windows Phones).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I started looking around for the button but it was nowhere to find… so I understood: I had to wait until this little guy pooed and do a little ehm… research before I found the button again, shining! After a nice wash and disinfection, the button was ready to be glued back into place.

I got a nice, strong glue, in order to make sure that it will not be peeled off again by this little guy. I tried to drop one drop but the glue run quickly, so instead there were 3-4 drops in the mobile phone’s button place. I though that it would only make it stick even better and I was right: There was so much glue inside that it apparently run off the button hole and it made the hole button hard as a rock! There is no way to press the Windows Phone button now as it is stuck for good! Acetone did not do anything apart from making the black color turn to grey…

Now I have to learn how to operate my Windows Mobile phone without its flagship button. I only miss the direct transfer to the home page, as I can move there  indirectly, by pressing the Back button a couple of times (or more in some cases…). But the hardest lesson I learned is not to trust my sons with my gadgets,at least not until they become old enough to understand the pain I am going through after seeing my gadget being treated like that!

My laptop, also abused by my youngest son…