The personal website of Paul James

Category: Site News (Page 1 of 4)

Okie-dokie…

Okie-dokie, whats occuring I may hear you ask.

You’ll notice over the coming weeks that a lot, of back content, and older post are being posted. All these posts appeared on my old blog over @ blog.p666james.com and blog.maryblighthouse.co.uk.

Most functions are now fully functional – Thank you to the folks from twitter who kept telling me off 😉

I’m going to try and get back into the swing of blogging again, after almost a 5 year sabbatical, of keeping the internet free of my musings.

I’m presently working on a full update about my mother – who the last time I blogged had cancer (you’ll hopefully find related posts under Mum on the categories.

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This blog…

Ok, a couple of visitors have asked a) where is the blog content, and why is this blog a little un-finished.

Well, to be honest its because I broke the whole database, and have had to re-install word press – I’ve not had the chance since re-uploading work press and installing it to populate the site again. I’m working on it as quick as I can, but have had other pressing issues taking up my time!

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Free and Legal Film and Movie Downloads

Without getting into too much of a debate, about downloading films for free illegally, it is possible to download and watch films that are out of Copyright, or in the Public Domain for free.

There are a lot of sites that host the films

As such, I hope the below list of sources help if your interested in looking for out of Copyright or Public Domain films.

Wikipedia – A very robust list of all films out of copyright, with such classics as It’s a Wonderful Life to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Click on the film you want, and view its information. To the bottom of the page you should find a link to the film online.

BFI – The British Film Institute, offers a variety of free films and shorts to watch.

Internet Archive – A slightly American tang, but very good all the same. From movies to Public Service Announcements.

OpenFlix – A directory of films all thought to be in the Public Domain.

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Cadbury’s US Creme Egg Advert

I was laid in bed the other night, and my other half asked me a question about the Cadbury’s Creme Egg.

Not knowing the answer, I looked up the answer on Wikipedia.

Having got my answer, I carried on reading the page, and eventually we got onto advertising.

Much to my amazement, the American audience get an advert featuring a real floppy eared rabbit, that clucks!

Not believing this, I went to look on Youtube to find the advert and its true!

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Ways to save money during the Credit Crunch

Grocery Store There is a lot of talk at the moment, about rising costs and the likes.

While it is clear the cost of oil and food is rising, not many people are talking about the savings that can be made from your budget, without having to feel a cut in your daily life.

Below, I am going to provide you with some useful tips on how to make some real savings on everything from Groceries and Supermarket Shops, Petrol, Utilities, and your TV Package.

How to save on Groceries

Firstly, I shop at Tesco Online, I have used Sainsbury’s and ASDA Online, ASDA was cheaper for the goods, and especially there in store bakers goods were better value, what let ASDA down was the actual service, I don’t use Sainsbury’s, as they were more expensive, and while the methods I’ll explain below can be used at Sainsbury’s or ASDA, I chose to shop with Tesco Online, and I would recommend them.

So how to save cash off your shopping. The method that I use, is to review the discount area of the store first, to make it easier you can browse each isle, and see what offers their are, I’ll fill my basket with all the goods I want at this point, and often end up with three or four of the same types of items whilst going through the store, I take this approach given that some offers appear around the store on different isles, so if I was looking for a pizza, I may find good offers on both the frozen and fresh isles.

Now I have shopped at Tesco for almost two years now, and I have a good favourites list built up – this is a list of all items I have previously bought, which I review and add all the usual items that are bought each week, again looking out for offers I may have missed.

I check the isles for some items, on a monthly basis to ensure I am still getting the best price, this is useful with vegetables where the prices may change seasonally, and is also useful when you realise you need washing powder, as I’ll wait till I come across our usual, if its not on special offer price I’ll see if there is something that is cheap.

Buy One Get One Free Offers. These are good offers, but it has to be used carefully with items such as food. I buy items such as washing powder in bulk when it is on special offer, the best offer to get is a BOGOF, but there are often Save Discounts, where you can buy two products at a cheaper price, and obviously half price discounts are great too. So I’ll fill my store cupboard with a couple of months supply of these items, by rotating the purchases with other bulk buy areas such as rotating the purchases of Shampoo, Washing Powder, Shower Gel, you’ll find your paying half price for some of the more costly items.

Once I have gone through the above, I then click checkout, and add coupons. I then do a quick Google search for terms such as “Tesco Voucher Codes” and visit sites such as The Tesco Voucher Code Blog, or Money Saving Forums, with my ultimate aim being to find a voucher of a decent enough value, the minimum I intend to leave with is enough to cover my delivery fee, however I tend to manage to find £10 – £15 per shop by spending a little time looking. Generally searching Tesco Voucher Codes will bring you a list of sites that are up to date, and showing decent codes. Now you can only use one XX code on Tesco, however if you added an £8 voucher, followed by a £10, and £12 one, the site will save the two lower valued tokens to your account, and use the higher value voucher. It is always worth looking for additional vouchers you can also add, such as 1000 extra ClubCard points is always nice – We’ve now got enough ClubCard Points for a weekend break, and trip to the Chester Zoo.

Its at this point, I can work out how much I want to spend, I generally want to spend £100 a fortnight, so I work through my basket adding, and removing items until I get it to the price I want. Choosing the cheaper item from the two pizzas I added. Its easier to work with the basket as it groups similar items, so if you’ve added several blocks of cheese while looking through the various bits on the site, they will all show together.

Its worth noting as well, I review all the offers I have added, for example a recent Buy Two for £2 promotion, offered a saving of 6p, I didn’t need two of them, so I took one out and saved a pound.

To make the shopping easier as well, me and my partner produce a meal list, covering the two week shop. We don’t have to stick to it religiously, as there is always other food in the house, but it ensures that we have two weeks food in.

By the time you have got your shopping down to the amount you want, its time to place the order. Now I tend to tot up all my savings from multi-buys before checking out, but its always nice to see it on your bill, but if your on a tight budget its another way of factoring in savings to buy more goods.

Now if your working it right, and not getting multi-buys when you don’t need two items etc, and are working through your list to make sure you actually need everything, adding vouchers, and making multi buys work for you, you should be able to make savings of about £10 – £15 in voucher savings, and if you start working multi-buys like I do, I tend to save another £10 – £15 per shop, with my average fortnightly bill coming out at around £120 – £130 for two of us, were saving a good 23%.

Its also worth noting, sites such as mySupermarket.co.uk offer price comparisons between all the major super markets, and I often use this site to ensure that I am not missing out on savings by shopping at another supermarket.Using this site, you can save as much as 20% off your shopping bill, they import your favourites and show suggested offers and savings, which when used in conjunction with voucher codes, and by using BOGOF offers correctly you could be looking at some pretty hefty savings.

How to Save on Petrol

Now I don’t drive, so I’m probably not the best person to ask how to save money. But, then again I get 5p per litre off vouchers with every shop which I generally give away at work. Add to this, that petrol is generally cheaper at Supermarkets its worth a look in.

You can also use sites such as www.petrolprices.com which search local fuel prices, and show you the best results for getting cheaper petrol.

How to Save on TV

imageI’ve raved before about BT Vision before, and this was a massive monthly saving of £23* a month for me.

I use to subscribe to Sky, with their 4 Mix Pack. Total monthly price £19, which I think has since gone up to £21. I also had Tivo, which was another £10 a month** which effectively gave us Sky+, so the total monthly bill was £29 a month. Although we had hundreds of channels, me and my partner tended to watch only several channels on a regular basis. This had previously raised the should get rid of Sky issue, and we set about working out what channels we actually watched – This was the hard part, we couldn’t organise ourselves. To our joy, a problem with the Sky feed into our flat and a couple of weeks later, we came to the decision that we didn’t need Sky, we had survived on Freeview without noticing any difference apart from not having Tivo record all the shows we watch.

At this point we could have saved £29 a month, but we missed Tivo, as it didn’t work on Freeview, and we missed a couple of the movie channels so we started to look around for an alternative.

We then stumbled upon BT Vision. We could take a BT Vision box for free, which acts live a Tivo Box, or Sky+, and it will have HD content by the end of August 2008, without the need for us buying an expensive piece of equipment or set top box. We the subscribed to the TV Mix package for £6 a month, which has been discounted for the next 6 months at least to £3 a month (I think we have 15 months half price TV Mix package for signing up to the package at the time of getting the box.

With a movies package, from £1.99 a month, or a Movie Package from £6 a month, which we didn’t take as we felt it would be more economical to watch films as we need, and subscribe if we feel were paying too much or missing out too much. However, had we had films with Sky, this would have been another £10 a month.

Similar with Sports, we don’t subscribe to them, but there is a Sports Package showing all 242 Barclays Premier League and 28 Clydesdale Bank Premier League same-day games per season for £4 a month. Or with Setanta Sports for £9.99.

* Saving of £23 does not take into account that you require a BT Line, and BT Broadband Package which we already had, that said savings still be made by taking up BT’s basic package, of Broadband and Phone Line along with BT Vision.

** I could have opted for a one of payment of £199 for my Tivo subscription, however, and with hindsight it was better value for me to pay the £10 a month option.

How to Save on Glasses, Frames and Contact Lenses’

image Whilst the cost of an eye examination generally costs up to £15, you can often get a voucher from your employer if you work with VDU’s on a regular basis. The real cost comes when choosing your lenses and frames. What most people forget, is that they do not need to buy their lenses from the same store where they had there eye examination.

Me and my partner recently saved over £120 on a pair of Vivienne Westwood Glasses, you can save up to 70% by entering your prescription into online Optical Stores, and and getting our lenses and frames online. We’ve found service to be great, we did receive one faulty frame which was due to the coating applied, but one email to support, and free postage back to them we found that a couple of days later we had a perfect pair.

Vision Direct – Online Frames, Lenses, and Contact Sales

If you know of any other great money saving offers, post them in the comments below.

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How to Remove Kontiki (4OD, BBCi Player, Etc)

When I view the incoming searches on this blog, I come across a lot of terms such as “Remove Kontiki”, “Kontiki Delivery Manager“, “KClean” “Remove 4OD“, “Remove BBC iPlayer“, and so on, and they land on the review of Kontiki that I did a while ago.

That page, didn’t really explain how to remove the software, so here goes.

1: You need to un-install the software that you have installed, be that BBC iPlayer, 4OD or Sky Anytime.

Win 98: Click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel, and then double-click Add/Remove Programs.

Win XP: Click Start, click Control Panel, and then double-click Add or Remove Programs.

Vista: Open Programs and Features by clicking the Start button, click Control Panel, click Programs, and then click Programs and Features.

All Systems: You should now have a list of programs in front of you. Find the program your wanting to uninstall, say 4OD, and click on it. You should now be prompted to update or remove the program. Select Remove, and the program will uninstall. If you have installed more than one player, e.g. BBC iPlayer, and 4OD it is advisable to remove all programs.

You now need to run the KClean Program. You can download the KClean program file from Sky at http://static.sky.com/kclean/KClean.exe as it is no longer available on the BBC!

Once you’ve downloaded KClean.exe, run the file – you might need to confirm the file is allowed to run, in which case allow the file.

KClean.exeYou’ll now see the following screen, although yours will show that the Kontiki Delivery Manager is running.

You can save your settings if you want, by selecting the tick box at the bottom, although I have never felt the need to do so, as installing one of the Players again would re-set your settings, additionally if you keep your settings you may end up keeping loads of downloaded files on your PC using up valuable space.

Finally, click continue.

You’ll now be Free of the Kontiki Delivery Manager!

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The tickets are booked…

image The tickets are booked for Batman: The Dark Knight. At the IMAX yet. I am beside myself with excitement, Batman being the only super hero franchise which appeals to me. And I have never been to the IMAX. It’s usually documentaries about fish or some such nonsense. Which always makes me feel uneasy anyway as well as boring me to death. So this will be extremely exciting. Three p.m on Sunday. I don’t want to be too excited in the evening at my age.

I like Batman because it is dark and gothic. I don’t much care for the old TV series or movies (Although I love Adam West who is hilarious in Family Guy and Eartha Kitt made a terrific Catwoman) and I have never read what are now so fashionably called graphic novels. However I do love Tim Burton and thank him for resurrecting Batman in such an interesting way in the Eighties. Roll on Sunday…

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The future of TV

image I’ve tried all the main TV platforms in my time, for normal terrestrial, analogue cable TV (I hated it), Sky, Sky Digital, Sky+, Tivo, Virgin Digital TV, Freeview and BT Vision so I have a pretty good understanding of the capabilities of each one and what they imagecan offer.

A couple of months ago, had you asked me what was the best TV Platform, I would have, without hesitation said Sky+, however all that has now changed!

imageSo what changed, well for many years I have known that on Sky with its multitude of channels I watched at most a tiny percentage of what was available, the mainstream channels etc. However as Sky grew, the trash channels grew, and no real value had been added to the line up in my opinion since it launched – Names of Channels may have changed, Film 4 may have become free to air, and listings were moved about – but nothing was really exciting me.

Then the unthinkable happened, the flat that I live in, something happened to the line for the Sky in… I managed the first week, had engineers out, had errors with the management company, and nothing, week two passed, week three passed – by this time, I had switched to a mix of online TV such as the iPlayer, 4OD, other stuff I can find, and Freeview. You know what, I wasn’t missing Sky at all, the shock had worn off, at most I was missing one decent film on the Horror Channel or TCM every week, but what I did find, was that I was finding better television on the Freeview Channels.

So I decided to find a better and cheaper alternative to Sky, and I found it hands down.

For me, the future of TV, will be several live streaming channels, much like your BBC1’s and ITV1’s, companies who invest and produce premium quality television, you then have companies who produce content, such as Kudos who makes Spooks for the BBC, the next piece of the jigsaw would be online content, but streamed to your set top box, this would include content for all partners, I hasten to add I wouldn’t add user generated content, but this would be in keeping, and a YouTube section wouldn’t be out of place, but I don’t like it! Advertising could be properly targeted through your viewing habits, location etc so revenue streams would remain probably increase, and there would not be a need to pay the, currently extortionate prices for content – or at least a massive reduction. For the end user, you would have archives of TV shows, a library of films, radio, live TV, and if they must, user generated content – if you were so inclined you could add live feeds for sites such as Justin.TV and webcams.

imageSo, there I was, stuck without Sky T.V. and this idea of how TV should be. Well then I came across BT Vision (And Virgin Digital TV, but that’s not in use at my main residence) – all my prayers were answers, well almost, I can see them being answered eventually with this system its lacking the live streaming, and I think it could include IPTV in the future.

So what was so good? Well, BT Vision, is effectively, Freeview with View on Demand, but its plugged into my broadband box, and makes good use of it. There are hundreds of shows available at a low cost (£6 for TV shows for example), it has a dual recorder like Sky+, it makes my old Tivo box look as old as it is.

I’m going to write a full post on the BT Vision box, but if your looking for to save money and think your up for breaking free from Sky, then I would highly recommend BT Vision.

Why I didn’t opt for the iPhone

When I tell people, I have got a new phone, I get asked is it the iPhone as people seem to think its the new all spangled mobile phone, and that I would certainly have one. Well I usually disappoint them, and say No.

But Why!

That’s a good question, for me personally, to upgrade to an iPhone would have been £20($40) cheaper so why did I go for a T-Mobile Touch (HTC Nike), with Windows Mobile 6?

Well, I suppose the first reason is that I have had HTC, Windows Mobile based handsets for about the past 9 years now, my second phone was a HTC Windows Smartphone that ran Windows CE from Orange (I’m thinking it was the C500, but that was another handset I had) – that phone still works, its actually still used by a friend of mine to this date (Out of interest, the first phone I got free from work, when I worked at Barclays – I thought it was fabulous, it was the Motorola Startac, which was very Star Treky as you could flip it open like the Star Trek Communicators, and I also tried a Nokia Matrix Phone but that didn’t survive a drop in the bath, and cost me all my contacts).

So I have a long history with the manufacturer, and OS builder, which some might say that is a good enough reason to stick with them, the handsets are usually built well (I tend to return one faulty handset per contract, which tends to be more of a fault caused due to shipping or my initial play with it, as appose to a hardware of software failure), and as I mentioned earlier, all the handsets still work well to this date, infact I still have 3 of them, well 2, a friend has one of them, and I also sold one.

But truth be told, I was ever so slightly torn between the two phones, and I had to seriously think which phone I wanted and I ended up going through the pro’s and cons of an iPhone.

To start with, I went to the iPhone Features Page to see what it had.

Home Screen

The Home Screen… Ok, its nothing special really, it shows a collection of icons, all of which take you to an app on the phone. I get a nice clear clock (your telling me you don’t use your phone a watch?) .

image image

Above shows the iPhone homepage on the left, and the HTC Standard Homepage on the right… Difference is, that the HTC Homepage is fully customisable, with a downloadable homepage creator. I could have a bright bring homescreen, or an homepage based on the iPhone if I wanted. So more customisation, something familiar, I decided this point didn’t go to the iPhone.

Is a phone, actually a feature of a mobile phone? If I was buying a laptop, that had a phone in it, then I would consider it a feature… But not on a phone. I’m bemused that Apple consider a Phone on a phone as a feature.

Oh and incase your wondering, I have similar contact managers, I can shout names at my phone and it start calling people, I can have Incoming Photo Caller ID, I can Video Call……

Good one, the iPhone does have better internal mail management. But I use gMail and Google provide apps for the Windows Smartphone, as do Windows, Yahoo and so on… So you can have a decent mail too, besides which, I prefer the online view for Gmail which is undoubtedly the best mail tool around at the moment, as such to me this feature doesn’t matter.

Another good one, the standard internet explorer on a Windows Smartphone isn’t the best, it serves its purpose though, I can read most webpage’s, including Youtube through it and it works fine. In addition, over the years I have used about 5 alternative browsers from Mozilla, Windows, SkyDrive and so on, and the web can be so much better, and from reviews I have read Skydrive is the best mobile browser at the moment. Its free, and I have it on my Windows Smartphone, so I suppose Windows Smartphone wins this one, although its not using Windows own Browser – but this goes to show how flexible the Windows Smartphone is.

I have a 1gig Memory card in my Windows Smartphone, it acts like a harddrive, and can be used in a pendrive converter and become my true portable office taking my office from the home PC, Mobile, and finally to work.

But! What is interesting, is that I can get a 8gig Memory card, and I am sure the capacity of these cards will grow.

Now back to the feature, Music… OK, I cant fit 8gig of music onto my Windows Smartphone, but I could very easily. I have Windows Media Player, amongst others which let me play any file type, from MP3, to MPEG video, add to that Real Player which lets me stream radio stations, and the Last.fm program for the Smartphone, and I can have anything I want… Much more that the iPhone.

Again, I each to their own, but Windows presents emails in 2 ways, one message one view, or one recipient one view, a little like a chat window. The iPhone offer the chat view, so I would say even scores here.

Got it, in fact I have the same one as used on iPhone.

  • iTunes

We’ve spoken about iPod, I could if I wanted sync my music folder with my phone and do it that way, or I could just visit a site like amazon MP3, or Tesco Music and download music cheaper?

Don’t get me wrong, I may be mistaken on this one but I am not very excited about the App Store. I have for years been able to visit sites and install software to my phone to enhance it.. It seems to me all that’s different is their is probably more cost, its written in a different code, and is called an App, and not a program file?

  • Calendar

Yawn.. Got 2.

Got it, had it way before the iPhone

Got it…

Got, Got and Got.

Got. (Actually, I tell a lie here, I have not got a calculator at the moment, but that is purely because I switched the ROM on my phone, and chose one that didn’t come with a calculator)

Add to that, I have a video camera, and can live stream to the web, turning my phone into a decent webcam as well.

Oh, and add to the above, I have Mobile Office, which lets me open any word document, PowerPoint Presentation, One Note, Email, PDF and so on, which I believe iPhone doesn’t support

Oh, I also have mobile TV…

So just from the feature above, I was not entirely won over, then I remembered, it comes with 3G the uber fast mobile network. Oh, hang on a minute, my handset comes with HSDPA which is faster, and is actually a mobile broadband network, which in turn means that I can plug my phone into the laptop, and have the phone power the internet, so I can browse, while taking calls – Its looking like a very mobile office if that’s the kind of thing you want!

The fact is, I have a pretty tame mobile phone now. When I was younger and more adventurous, I use to pimp my phone to the max, it I wanted a game to play on the train home, I would get what ever game I wanted, software was always easy and usually free to come by, and utilities, you name it, I can get it which in effect meant that my phone could take over as my PC, when my PC was in pieces which happened a lot when I was younger. Finally, to add the cherry to the cake, I can remotely take control of my PC, from my phone (Its very handy as a remote control for you PC) so I could be laying on the beach, while controlling what my PC was downloading.

So back to the purpose of the post, when it came down to it for me, the iPhone was offering nothing new, in fact I would have lost features, and much like the Blackberry, the iPhone didn’t cut it for me.

And before anyone asks if I even tried an iPhone… The answer is yes, and I got to play with one before it came out in the UK, as a friend works for o2, and was testing it, so I got a good play with it.

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