All posts by Josh

Computers, Poker, Soccer, NFL, Tennis, Money, Work, Pleasure, Rock Music and lots of scary films... Just some of the things that I love. Hopefully gives you an idea what type of geek I really am!

The Vodafone Horror Show

Who knew that trying to throw money at Vodafone for a new phone would be such a difficult task!

Those who know me are aware I am a huge fan of the new Nokia Lumia devices. They look good, they work amazingly well and the operating system is great. When the Lumia 1020 with the 41mp camera was released, I knew it would eventually be mine!

When I saw Quidco offering £120 cashback if buying a Lumia 1020 through Vodafone, I jumped at the chance! I placed an order on the 15th of October which included:
Lumia 1020 (£49.99 one off cost)
Red L – £42 a month (4G & includes 6GB of data per month if ordered within October)

Great – Order made. Surely I’d get my phone, right?

I received an email confirmation confirming my order is being processed and subject to a credit check. With no debts, on the electoral roll and a good credit score, I was pretty happy this would go smoothly. Usually it takes an hour or so, thus I was a little concerned when 24 hours had passed and I had received absolutely no email, text or confirmation as to which direction my order had gone.

Vodafone Logo

Time to call Vodafone help! I spoke to a girl who asked me to spell my first name 5 times. It’s Joshua – I still don’t understand why it was so complicated for her to spell that! But either way, once she had my details, she drew a blank. Had no idea where my order was and told me she’d call me back shortly.

8 hours later, and still no call… I now went through 2 services:
1) Twitter help
2) Live Vodafone Chat

Twitter Help: A useful contact got in touch to told me to send him the details and he’d look into it. I did this, and an hour later he informed me it would take around 48 hours to get back to me. Not good enough as right now I don’t know whether my order is even being processed or whether a credit check has taken place. I needed an answer on this now. Live Vodafone Chat: A sales representitive informed me my order was still being processed, and he’d highlighted it as an “emergency” to ensure it gets done quicker

Phew, so now it seems everything is fine, right?

Another day passes, thus the saga is now in it’s 3rd day. Still no contact from Vodafone confirming the order (though it appears the money for the phone is pending release from my bank account!). I decided to call Vodafone again and spoke to Gary from the Belfast office – Gary informed me that the order had not been processed as there were multiple matches for my address (whatever that means!). He told me my credit check was however passed, so I can just go-ahead and re-order on the website to get my phone.

I went onto the website, re-ordered, and instantly got an email saying my order had been rejected. I called and spoke to another girl, who this time told me that my first order was actually with the fraud department and hadn’t been cancelled. What this meant, is when I attempted a 2nd order, not only was that one rejected, but it cancelled my ORIGINAL order as well!!!!

Of course at this point, I got pretty angry. I was informed that as they admitted this was their mistake, they had reversed the first order being cancelled and submitted it back to the fraud department for extra checks. I asked how long it would take and I was told that this was with Quidco! I was a little confused as Quidco are simply an affiliate site, but I was told that Quidco are the actual owners of the phone and do the security checks.

So then I spoke with Quidco, who as expected, denied all of this. It is a Vodafone order from the Vodafone website and Quidco are not responsible for anything here.

As of now, its 3 days after my order. I don’t have a phone, I may have a bad credit mark for the 2 orders thanks to Vodafone and I still have no confirmation of how long it will take.

Vodafone, I hope you’re reading this – Do you really think this is a good customer experience? And will I ever get my order processed?!?!

Tweet me @thejsug !

iPhone 5s – Your life at risk? – Updated!

UPDATE on 22/09/2013: James Jeffrey sent me the following article: – Already showing the lack of safety with this technology. Thanks James! I had quite a few Apple “fanboys” blasting my post as incorrect due to the way the fingerprint scanner had been “innovated”. 

For those Apple fanboys out there, as well as pretty much everyone who doesn’t live in a cardboard box, a new iPhone device is on the market.

Yup, the new iPhone 5s boasts a 64-bit processor (a mobile first), improved graphics capability, a new gold colour and, one of the most discussed features, a redesigned home button with a built in fingerprint scanner.

On paper, fingerprint technology is magical – No more would we have to remember complicated passwords and pin codes. Instead, we just press a button and the phone automatically knows it’s the rightful owner. Sounds great, right?

It’s not often a member of the US Senate says something I agree with. I have a particularly cautious view of them since they banned online card playing many years ago… However, I was pleased to hear that Senator Al Franken has written to Apple due to the following concerns:

Al Franken picture
Al Franken

– Whether the fingerprint data stored locally on the mobile phone chip in encrypted form could ever be stolen and converted into digital or visual form that would be usable by hackers or fraudsters
– Whether the iPhone 5S transmits any diagnostic information about the Touch ID system back to Apple or any third parties
– How well customer fingerprint data will be protected and kept private
– The exact legal status of such fingerprint data

After studying bio-metric identification methods at University, it was generally understood that bio-metrics is a long way off becoming a reliable and safe technology. Even “Mythbusters” got in on the action proving that they can be beaten.

The problem doesn’t purely lie with how the phone deals with the data however. It has been proven time and time again that fingerprints can easily be lifted and replicated using simple methods such as sellotape and jelly babies!

If you ever thought you were safe using the iPhone 5s and their touch security system, I would be very very careful with how you protect your identity. With many people syncing mail applications with their phones,in a matter of minutes an attacker may be able to walk into a bank as you and withdraw every last penny!

This is the Apple we know and love folks. They deliver innovative, cool products, but unfortunately it’s all about the bottom line and sales, and less about the user and what they really want…!

My recommendation? If you do get this fantastic looking device, do not use the fingerprint technology for any identification purposes. Keep safe 🙂

Picture of new iPhone 5s Touch Home button

Tweet me @thejsug !

What is a Bitcoin and should I invest?!

Hi All,

There has been a lot of discussion about “Bitcoins” recently including some news broadcasts, and a lot of you may be confused as to what a Bitcoin actually is and whether it’s “dodgy”!

In simple terms, a Bitcoin(or BTC), is a global virtual currency and a couple of years ago, $15 would buy you 1 BTC. You could then keep that BTC, or use it to buy goods (virtual or physical) from any website that accepts BTC as a form of payment.

Bitcoins are found/created through a process called “mining”, which is where a very difficult mathematical equation is solved, requiring a HUGE amount of computing power! The technology behind the Bitcoin restricts the market to only ever having 21 million Bitcoins, but these aren’t expected to be all in trading until 2040….! Due to this it is free from political influence and inflation – It is one truly global private currency! Incredible!

The creator is unknown! This is a little scary – There is a pseudonym for the creator thus is thought to be a 30 something year old male from Japan (Satoshi Nakamoto). Due to the cryptography and encryption behind the Bitcoin, either he is an absolute genius, or it was actually a much larger scale operation.

To buy a Bitcoin is relatively simple. MTGox is the leading trader (bank transfer some money in, buy or sell BTC, that simple!). As I write this blog, the BTC is priced at around $85!

So why has the Bitcoin been in the news the past few days and what’s all this talk of a “Bitcoin bubble”? I mentioned before that a couple of years ago it was priced at $15. It raised up to $30, and a few weeks ago, an explosion happened. We saw something like this:

1) Value raised to $150

2) Value dropped to below $100

3) Value raised to $260

4) Value dropped to $120

5) Value raised to $200

6) Value dropped to $60

7) Value currently at $85 at time of writing

Graph for BTC Value
Graph for BTC Value from

Most of this actually happened in the past 2 days (3 to 7). Many people invested heavily at around the $50 mark, and sold at $260 making over $200 for each Bitcoin! But why the big drops and rises? The market is influenced by only one thing – PEOPLE!

That means, if there’s a news article saying it may crash, and everyone goes on to sell, the value of the BTC drops substantially. To make matters worse, MTGox, the leading trader, has been regularly down due to being overloaded with requests! In fact, on the 11th of April it suspended ALL trades to help normalise the currency. Whatever their reason was, it meant people could not sell their Bitcoins if they had them stored with MTGox. This meant, as the price dropped, investors could simply watch their account shrink and do nothing about it…! On the plus side, if you buy when it’s low and it shoots up, happy days!

You’ll now be thinking to yourself “Should I invest?”. There are many teccies saying “YES INVEST” and many non teccies saying “NO DON’T INVEST”. I actually have a mixed view. The dangers are:

1) No one knows who created it which is a little concerning, but does this affect the value of it? Probably not

2) It can be hacked (someone could potentially hack your account and steal your bitcoins). This is true of ANY currency however, so I wouldn’t say this is a reason to avoid!

3) The traders can’t be trusted? Well, this one is maybe a better point. If you lose lots of money or a trader goes offline, do you have any legal rights? Maybe, maybe not. It’s said to be an illegal currency in the US, but it’s a very grey area.

What I would advise, is if you have money that you can lose without being upset, then invest, and invest big when the price is low again. I have money waiting in BitStamp (which remained online throughout the MTGox trading suspension), ready to take advantage if it crashes again. I’ve debated buying at $85 but due to the high’s and lows, I’m pretty content with waiting a week and seeing how things go. There’s a chance it will crash to 0 (forever), or as a few close friends have predicted, there’s a chance it could rise to $1000+ over the coming years…..

Whatever you do, it’s risky business but it could potentially be very profitable. From a technical standpoint, this “thing” is causing a stir to the world!

Tweet me @thejsug !