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A selection of relevant products available direct from Amazon. You'll find lots more practical info in various articles on my website.

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Friday
Apr032015

Corsair Carbide 300R flickering LED fix

This stylish and versatile gaming PC case seems to have odd problems with flickering LEDs. It's caused by straining the wires during assembly and installing the motherboard. If you can solder, then I describe a fix here. Otherwise you need a replacement front panel loom from Corsair.

 

Wednesday
Apr012015

How to build a new PC

Late 2014 I decided I needed a new PC to replace my ten-year old Pentium. In this article I show my chosen spec. for a good, quiet, middle of the road PC along with a step by step rundown of assembly details and photos. If you've never considered building your own PC then maybe this will show you what's involved. More details...

 

 

Wednesday
Mar252015

New 0% US Tax Withholding Relief for UK Kindle authors?

The dreaded US Withholding Tax swallows 30% of our US Kindle earnings, even when we’re UK-based writers who have never even visited the USA let alone worked there. To circumvent this tax at source it’s necessary to obtain a US taxpayer ID or ITIN. This is do-able but as I described in this article, the method of getting a US ITIN number and filling out countless forms as a ‘non-resident alien’ is a very onerous process. US bureaucracy is every bit as bad as anything British or European, and even more hard-nosed.

The IRS identity checks have been particularly rigid; the US Embassy in London stated that I would have to visit with my UK Passport or photo driver's licence (haven't got one!), as they would only accept UK Government ID if the authentication was conducted by the US IRS themselves.  British Notary Public notorisation was not acceptable. Otherwise I would have to mail my passport to the IRS in the USA and complete the process that way instead.

So I decided to swallow the US 30% Withholding Tax, as the cost and effort needed to escape it far outweighed the 10% extra benefit gained by paying 20% UK tax and NIC on Kindle earnings instead. That's the thing: as my accountants pointed out, I'd pay UK income tax and NICs on earnings instead, so the benefits of enjoying 0% Withholding weren't that great.

A bunch of envelopes appeared in the post from Amazon, being the annual 1042-S (Foreign Person’s US Source Income Subject to Withholding) summarising the tax withheld by various Amazon websites including OnDemand Publ. LLC, the name behind Amazon’s Createspace print on demand.

The arrival of these envelopes prompted me to log into my Amazon Kindle account where in the Tax Information section I spotted that, even if I still had no ITIN number, it seemed I could now enter my UK Tax ID Number instead and claim 0% tax under the tax treaty that way.

Entering a UK HMRC tax ID to claim 0% tax relief on Kindle royalties [click to see] So that’s what I’ve done: my Tax ID from the HMRC Self Assessment statement was entered online and the resulting W8-BEN (Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding and Reporting (Individuals)) was signed electronically and submitted by Amazon. We’ll see what happens and whether future royalties are going to be assessed under the 0% tax treaty.

Tuesday
Feb242015

Interview Part 8: Here comes the future

PhizzyB by Clive MaxfieldIn the final part I explain how the world-wide web grabbed my attention, but not before I had completed two more Teach-In series, helped bring the PhizzyB computer to fruition and wrote the story of electricity generation in "From Pipelines To Pylons". I round off with a 50 Years Golden Anniversary celebration of our magazine. Read more...

 

Tuesday
Feb172015

Clearmymail.com domain listed for sale

** This item has been updated - see followup below **

The following link claims that the Clearmymail.com domain name is listed for sale by Sedo (owned by United Internet AG, who also own 1&1 – through which the domain is registered).

http://whois.domaintools.com/clearmymail.com

Following more intermittent outages last week, in which incoming emails were lost altogether, what  alternatives are there to Clearmymail? I can find none that filter individual POP3 emails the same way.  Unfortunately, every other anti-spam firm that I know of, requires changes to the domain's MX (Mail Exchange) records so the entire email feed is directed to them at root DNS level. This puts your email service entirely in their hands. Consequently they are mainly aimed not at consumers but businesses instead, and enterprise-level solutions may charge £120+ a year. GFI.com, for example, starts at £180 + VAT per year for a minimum of 10 mailboxes.

Mailwasher free spam filtering software is semi-automatic For now, as a temporary if retrograde solution I am using Mailwasher, free software to filter my emails on my PC before they reach my main email program. Enter your POP3 mailbox details into Mailwasher to let it do its job. It flags up some spam automatically and can build up whitelists and blacklists, and also bounce dodgy mails back from whence they came (aka “back scatter”). Junk mail is cleared out which allows your main mail program to collect what's left.  Using Mailwasher is onerous but it works extremely well, though I can think of far better ways to spend my time and this is of little use if I want to check raw mail on my phone or tablet instead.

Without paying $$$ lots for a corporate service one solution is to switch to eg Microsoft's Outlook.com email and move it online. I feel Outlook is easier to get along with than over-elaborate Gmail. Only my opinion.  Consider migrating your address book to Outlook.com and get an Outlook address, and just manage the transition with your contacts over several months. Many PC-based email programs can actually handle Gmail and Outlook POP3 mail anyway, even my ancient old Eudora program will. You also get free online web storage.

I will also experiment with some mail-forwarding ideas, to see how to filter the plague of spam from my regular emails.

https://www.outlook.com
https://mail.google.com/

Friday
Feb132015

Clearmymail problems?

Regretably I found Clearmymail has been erratic for the past 3-4 days, and I now have tested and proved to myself that some mail disappeared into a black hole during this time.  The website may or may not be up (or down) and mail may still be collected (which I witnessed using webmail to view my POP3), but then it never arrives: I have nothing to collect, and my mailbox has fallen silent.

If you can't log in to stop CMM collecting, you can break the system by changing your POP3 password. That will stop mail being collected. Then in your email program, change the server from mail01.clearmymail.com to your regular one, and at least you can fetch mail again (spam and all).

It's easy to be harsh. It's a shame that Clearmymail can be good when it's working but when it breaks there is no information or support, and problems are becoming all too frequent. The suspected loss of mail (even worse than it piling up somewhere) is worrying. This however is reflected in the low price. There is no similar third party cloud-type service that filters mail this way for such a low cost, but the search is on for a more robust solution.

For those stuck in the lurch, there is more Clearmymail info and resources on my website, just use the Search box on the right, or click the Clearmymail tag below.

Friday
Jan232015

Cashback offers on Asus tablets - hurry

Upgrade your old 7”+ tablet for a new Asus and get up to £50 cashback

Thinking of buying a new tablet?  Me too! If you have an old, unloved but fully working 7”+  tablet you can currently trade up to a brand new Asus Android tablet and earn up to £50 cashback direct from Asus. This offer runs to 15th March 2015 and qualifying vendors including Amazon UK are taking part in this great promotion. If you order a new qualifying Asus tablet, register the purchase and a box will be sent to ship your old one back. After inspection and approval a cashback will be paid direct by bank transfer.

You might be wanting a better display or battery life, faster wi-fi performance, Bluetooth or removable memory cards (or all those things, in my case), or simply get another tablet for leisure or the kids. Now is a great time to buy, especially after Christmas when offers are keener than ever in these cash-strapped times: there's no need to fork out for an expensive, top of the range tablet when Asus offers better value and good quality.

The promotion rules are very clear – your old tablet must be 7" or more, in good, serviceable condition with no undue wear, cracks, chips or heavy cosmetic damage, chassis or water damage etc. and it must power up properly. You must claim within 14 days.

Popular Asus tablets including the MeMo ME170C (7” 8GB, wifi) and MeMo ME181C (8” 16GB, wifi) are great value but other Asus tablets (eg the 10” TF103) are also in the promotion. Some products on Amazon don't seem to highlight the cashback offer for some reason, but here is the definitive list of Qualifying Tablets and FAQs published by Asus.

I’ve chosen a funky purple (which was lots cheaper) Asus MeMoPad ME181C – it’s Intel 64 bit quad-core Atom-powered, has Android 4.4 (Kit Kat), an 8” 1280x800 IPS smudge resistant screen, 16GB onboard memory (expandable to 64GB with MicroSD cards, not supplied), 802.11n wifi, GPS, Bluetooth 4, G-sensor, 9 hour (max.) battery.

Note that Android tablets cannot work with Amazon Prime streaming video service. Consider an Amazon HD Fire instead for that.

Below are a few useful links for the Asus 8” ME181C , so you can check the details yourself.

Have a look at the Asus Tablet store on Amazon.co.uk and see what you think and you could bag yourself a bargain. I'll let you know how I get on with mine - even if it is purple!

Sunday
Dec212014

Fixing draughty uPVC windows

Here's a useful item on repairing draughty uPVC windows. I found a high quality white seal that's easy to use, strong and durable (good for 8 years or more). Much cheaper than trying to find new seals, it also looks OK both indoors and out. Read more...

Sunday
Dec212014

Deleting the Omiga-Search Plus adware browser hijacker

A combination of my speedy new PC, my failing eyesight, poor flat screen LCD contrast and an errant mouse-click while googling around, meant that my brand new installation of Windows 7 Professional got itself a browser hijack right before my very eyes. Curses. My Google home page in IE 11 was hijacked by Omiga-Plus Search - a useless, third-rate duff search page with some garbage links to gambling, gaming and other junk. Read more...

Friday
Dec052014

Celebrating the Ambra PC - the computer that so nearly broke the mould

In 1992 along came Ambra, an IBM-compatible PC made by an offshoot of IBM themselves, called ICPI Ltd.  It could have been maybe too good for IBM's own comfort and it was mercilessly axed by IBM after just a few short years. This stylish PC was smart, fast and aggressively priced. Some reprints of original Ambra literature from 1992/ 93 are included in this article. Read more...

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