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Friday
Aug262016

PURE digital radio 'Sounds' service closed

PURE Evoke Flow Sounds - RIP

Evoke Flow with remote control [click to see]If you have a PURE Internet radio such as the beloved Evoke Flow then you maybe enjoyed the 'Sounds' service which streamed soothing soundtracks over wi-fi to your radio receiver.  I particularly enjoyed the metal windchimes (played as background on the patio for summer parties), but most of all I enjoyed the babbling brooks, rainfall or running stream sounds which often helped me to get off to sleep at night.

PURE Sounds has been an essential and well-used feature - so imagine my surprise to find that I could suddenly no longer use them - it turns out that PURE has silenced them for ever!

They say 'they appreciate it will be disappointing news for those affected by the closure'. I'd go further and say that it's a hateful decision by PURE to chuck away this valuable service, one that will be very sorely missed indeed, and it removes a major reason for me to stay faithful to this brand. All that's left is for the streaming Internet feeds to disappear and the radio will be 'bricked'.

It goes hard on the heels of the loss of its BBC radio catch-up service (due to the BBC changing its streaming technology), the closure of PURE Connect Music - the unsuccessful on-demand music streaming package, plus it's now impossible to log into the PURE website to organise radio programme favourites like before. The Android app. doesn't cut the mustard for me either.

It's such a shame to see PURE thrashing around and nosediving this way, rewarding its loyal customers by shutting down one service after another. PURE is being sold off by loss-making chipmaker Imagination Technologies as explained here. Let's hope PURE will find a more fruitful future with new owners who see the potential in this iconic brand. Until then, I'd let the dust settle and see what happens before buying another PURE radio.

An alternative would be the Roberts Radio Stream93i, a wi-fi radio that is Spotify-compatible. Soundscapes (natural sounds) can be downloaded via Spotify but to get an ad. free service you have to subscribe at £9.99 a month, which makes it a dear do.

The news announcing the closure of PURE Sounds is at http://support-uk.pure.com/kb/articles/347-news-pure-sounds

 

Wednesday
Aug172016

So long, Demon Internet!

Demon's death throes

Since 1995 my Demon Internet e-mail address has been deeply embedded in everything I’ve ever done for hobby/ amateur electronics and EPE Magazine. I coined the ‘epemag’ moniker when signing for a so-called Tenner-a-month dial-up account in an era when 14.4k modems reigned supreme, and alan@epemag.demon.co.uk was born.

Demon Internet has changed hands several times and is now owned by Vodafone. Imagine my surprise when I heard that Vodafone is ditching Demon ‘free’ email and web services – free because they accompany a core dial-up account (broadband anyway), even though email has always been part and parcel of Demon’s £10 a month package from Day One. Web services (free websites) were bundled some years later as the market continued to evolve.

Vodafone is clearing the decks of old luggage like Demon and has done a deal with UK ISP Namesco, allowing customers to continue using their demon.co.uk Email address by subscribing to their service instead.  In theory anyway. Business users have already been hit by Vodafone transferring them over to cloud-based intY [sic].

The Devil in the detail

Due to the Vodafone tie-up, Namesco claims to offer you a ‘last chance to keep your Demon.co.uk Email address’ here.

The gist is that you have to buy a Microsoft-Office Exchange or 365 Cloudy package thing instead and Demon mail will get channelled through that. Namesco offers a 30% discount for a single Office 365 user, it’s £58.68 a year. Trusting nothing to chance, the next question will be whether they discount it in Year Two onwards. This will doubtless finally force some traditional users to move their mail to the cloud, but I won’t be one of them.

There’s a bigger worry about ongoing availability though, because in Demon’s FAQ  here

http://help.demon.net/domain-hosting-transfer/#ihaveahostnamedemonc

they state you can continue using these Demon addresses "for two more years." What happens after that is anybody’s guess, but I won’t be surprised if Vodafone just hives the lot off and Demon email addresses will be lost for ever. The old girl will probably be taken around the back and put out of its misery.

The perverse thing about this is that I just got a pestering demand from Vodafone to cough up £144.00 for the next year’s service, but they had already been sent a cheque so I called Demon’s customer service to see what gives.  When I asked, they told me the migration to Namesco will be completed by September/ October 2016. I was in shock at the thought of losing my 21-year old address, and pointed out this was news to me as I’d been told nothing. The Demon rep. said it was being done in batches and they would be in touch. Meantime, I’m being hammered to cough up a year’s service only to have to reclaim a refund for ten months of unused service anyway!

Demon always were lousy for forcing customers to give 30 days’ notice before rolling them over into another year's contract, and even when they’re stopping their service anyway, they still hammer you.

Sad to say, epemag.demon.co.uk will soon be no more, I fear: time for a new email address! What a mess.

Wednesday
Aug032016

Install a Brother LT-400 lower paper tray

My Brother HL-1450 laser printer is doing sterling service, hooked to my Synology NAS it’s a decent network printer, and what’s more I can print to it from my Windows 8, 7, XP and (yes!) Windows 98 PCs, over the network.

I located a used lower paper tray LT-400 and the supplier Cotswold Printers was extremely efficient and friendly to deal with.  Good old-fashioned service like that is nice to see.

The tray's a bit of a luxury item but I’ll use it to feed 90 gsm paper on demand. There were no instructions but it seemed easy enough to use: a small socket on the printer rear is for the connecting lead of the LT-400, and the printer simply drops onto the lower tray, adding 11cm to the height of the printer.

But, and here’s the big but, there’s something else you have to do to make it work, as I found out when testing, as I got one infuriating paper jam and snarl-up after the other. On the underside of the original Brother paper tray there’s a protruding plastic tab near the front. It matched the location of the paper damage.  You have to cut off this tab to free up the paper path, then the lower tray can feed paper properly.  I’d recalled something about that (can’t remember where) years ago, so I snipped it off with cutters and – lo and behold! – the LT-400 now works properly. I’m really chuffed.

Also you need to go into Devices and Printers / Printer Properties, device settings and ensure Tray 2 is now enabled.

You can now choose Tray 1 or Tray 2 when you print a document.

Here’s a photo of the plastic tab.

Snip off the plastic tab underneath the UPPER TRAY, to enable the LOWER TRAY to feed. [click to see]

Friday
Jul082016

Getting rid of spider mite on greenhouse crops and houseplants

This year my greenhouse crops are being plagued by a spider mite infestation. These miniscule bugs can  destroy the most handsome of tomato or cucumber plants as I have found to my cost in recent years, so this year I'm declaring all-out war on them using a specific organic insecticide that's made for the job. More details, along with photos of what to look for on your greenhouse or indoor plants, for are in my special feature.  Read more about how to control spider mite...

Friday
Jul082016

World Business List bogus directory

They’re at it again, the phony directory scammers who try to fool you into paying €995 a year (wow!) for their so-called ‘services’. This type of scam has appeared for years in other forms including World Trade Register, European Company Network and EU Business Register. Now it’s re-appeared as ‘World Business List’ complete, once again, with a directory website and I got a spam email trying to get me to sign up.

Updates are still free, they say – but the scrambled small print has the overrider of trying to flog a ‘subscription’ to punters totalling nearly €3,000. They hope victims will be suckered by the ‘Updates are free’ and an invoice for €995 will somehow subsequently slip through the company accounting system later on.

I tried the much-vaunted World Business List website, in search of a comprehensive listing of global internet providers (for example), or anything connected with Internet services. I searched the keyword ‘internet’ in ‘All Countries’. You would expect hundreds if not thousands of entries in the ‘World Business List’, but I found exactly eight listings, and one of those is a takeaway restaurant in Britain!

The World Business List is a product of EU Business Services Ltd. (not an authentic UK company) and is similar to another site run by the same ‘company’ – the EU Business Register. You might compare the T&C to see how near-identical they are.

Don’t be fooled by this ancient old scam! And don't even think of paying them anything!

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