Vodafone Prepay Free Calls & Texts – It pays to ask questions heres why?

vodafone logo

vodafone logoVodafone is my current mobile phone provider and I have been using their “Prepay Free Calls & Texts” option by topping up by €20 per month. So this option allows me to call another 087 number for free and send free text as long as I top up by €20 per month or so I thought? What didn’t occur to me was if one one of my contacts had changed their network but kept their 087 number prefix I would be charged for the call or to put it better how can I know if my 087 contact was on another network?

I called customer support and explained the problem and was informed that if I call a contact that appears as a Vodafone 087 user but on another network eg. O2, Meteor, 3network etc. I would here a short “Beep” just before the connection was made, basically to let me know I will be charged for the call. Interesting that this little trick is not publicly known nor is it available on their website. Make’s me wonder how many other people on this pay plan are getting screwed for perceived free 087 to 087 network calls…

The support guy did actually list 6 of my contacts who were on different networks but still holding their 087 numbers but if I hadn’t asked I would never have known. To finish up with I asked support if I could access this information on the Vodafone website and was told “NO”

Backup, Backup, Backup!

backup back up backup

My Dell Inspiron 1720 Laptop recently was me giving trouble where by it started to hang for no apparent reason. One minute I’d be working away contently with very few applications running, next “Bang!” it would freeze with a constant (Vista) spinning icon and a screen that turned opaque white. Nothing I could do to rectify it only to wait… and wait… and wait… by running Windows Task Manager I noticed the CPU Usage was running at a near constant 90% all the time which was pretty high. I tried all sorts of tips from registry defrag to killing unnecessary startup processes even being suspect of Firefox sucking up resources but no luck to be had.

It finally ground to a halt and would not boot up so with the laptop still in warranty I called Dell to arrange a repair, strangely enough they sent out a repair tech a few days later who discovered the problem was a screwed up motherboard which was replaced. It was also recommended that I format my hard drive and re-install Windows (Bloody) Vista. At this point I decided to back up my laptop data to an external hard drive via USB. I left it transferring all files overnight and presumed all was ok with no error messages that anything went wrong with the transfer, having backed up I was happy to prepare for formatting the drive and re-installing.

Dell arranged a phone call and a talk through of the reinstall. All went well and at last the laptop is back to peak performance so tonight it was time to hook up my external drive and transfer my stuff back . BUMP! nothing there! yes there was a c: drive backed up with full windows directory etc. but no “My Music” – “My Videos” and worst of all no “My Pictures” aaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!!!

No pictures!!!  over a years worth of photos… nowhere to be found. Family snaps, birthdays, events, creative pics… all gone… thank f**k I had uploaded a few of those pics to my flickr account…. and all for the sake of a couple of backup DVD’s!

Lesson learned? shit happens… (note to self)  from now on always check an test your Back Up, Back Up, Back Up!

3V.ie Online Account Security Weakness – Beware!

Image via payzone.ie
Image via payzone.ie

I may have identified a possible security weakness with the 3V.ie (online customer account) service. This occurred recently while trying to retrieve my own 3V account details, this weakness would allow any person with prior knowledge that you have a 3V account coupled with your mobile phone number to access your 3V “Online Customer Service” browse your balance & purchase history etc. Here is a summary of user tasks taken from their website:

Online Customer Service

Sign on to the new Online Customer Service section of this 3V website using your email address and personal password to:

  • Receive again the security details for any Voucher.
  • Check the balance and transaction history on your 3V Vouchers.
  • Redeem money left on your 3V Vouchers to your bank account.
  • Transfer money from one Voucher to another Voucher.
  • Request a replacement 3V Customer Card.
  • Update your personal details or password.
  • Change how you receive the security details when you buy a 3V Voucher.

You can also find the balance and transaction history for any 3V Vouchers quickly by clicking on the View Transaction History link on the left hand side of this page.

The info that follows may have been a one off chance of gaining someones account information but non the less a weakness… try it yourself on your own account if you like!

Let me explain…

I hadn’t used my 3V account with over a year and had lost my card but also had forgot my account username and password, so a few weeks ago I tried the standard “Forgot Your Password” option on the website www.3v.ie and went through the various email address I may have used for that account. Unfortunately neither of my email addresses worked as the 3V website started to throw an error along the lines of “Cannot complete your request, please try later” etc.

The weakness…

Now at this point I gave up and then a couple of days later I tried the same procedure but got the same result, out of frustration I sent 3V.ie an email asking how I could retrieve my account details but never received an answer,but

Only discovered this today on their website:
“Emails must be sent from your registered email address and must include the last six digits of your 3V Voucher number if you have a query about a particular 3V Voucher.”

Roll on about 2 weeks later I really needed to use the 3V account to purchase an ebay item so I opted to call support by phone. This is where their weakness began to show…

The conversation…

I called customer service and stated that I needed to retrieve my account information, I was asked for my registered email address and password. I then explained that I couldn’t remember my registered email address or password and that is why I was speaking to support on phone! What followed was clearly shocking! Support asked me for my mobile number which I gave, I was then told my email username was xxxxx@xxxxx.com with no problem….. at that point I was actually relived now to have at least my username so while talking to support I tried the “Forgot My Password” option on the website login and still got the “Cannot complete your request, please try later” response feeling annoyed I asked why it was not working for me and also sensing the support persons frustration as I was asked to repeat the request… but each time it failed and then out of the blue I was informed “OK your password is xxxxx try that” and yes I had my password and yes it did work!!!

The conclusion…

So what I’m saying here is if I was posing as another person and rang customer support armed with just a known 3V user and there mobile number I could easily retrieve their information by causing a flurry about why I cannot access my account for some reason or another using the flaw “Cannot complete your request, please try later” response” etc. This happend to me and made me realize I could have been someone else! or maybe… just maybe the customer support person could actually see I was trying to access the system at that point and felt confident I was the same person on the end of the phone and freely gave the details away?

Opinions please?

Ticketmaster.ie – Where Are The Cheap Seats?

I’ve come to realise a strange pattern when booking ticket online using ticketmaster.ie First off when I am logged into my account with them and I’m searching for tickets why is it that I can never book the lower advertised (cheap seats) prices? its like those prices don’t exist for online users.

I say this as having bought quiet a lot of tickets this year alone from them. A recent example was buying 2 tickets for a friend for the “Prince” concert in Croke Park this summer. The morning of the sale I was logged in prior to the 8:00am ticket sale and as soon as online booking started I proceeded to book 2 tickets but no matter what way I tried to book I had no choice but pay the premium price of €126.50 + booking fee per ticket as apposed to the much cheaper €66.50 per ticket, I just don’t get it!

Same scenario booking tickets for “Wwe Raw – Wrestlemania Revenge Tour” Belfast, I’m taking my two sons to that event as they are completely into wrestling at the moment, well they’re aged 11 and 8 so it will be a mind blower for them, but tickets for that event were advertised at €20 and €55 per ticket and guess what Yep! I had no choice but pay the premium again online.

Anybody out there manage to book standard tickets with ticketmaster.ie online? I’d like to know?

YouTube have blocked my download tool!

It’s less than 48 hours since I posted my last article “Free YouTube Video Downloader & Path To FLV Finder Tool” and today I noticed that the download tool has stopped working! At first I thought  it was a code glitch, but no I checked everything out and it was clean? then I tried uploading the same scripts to a second server and yes it worked, I even tried the same scripts on a third server and it worked…. and one last shot was to try the scripts on a different domain but same server “Bump!” no joy…. 🙁

Could it be that YouTube/Google tracked the script page because of the Adsense banner? (maybe)…  and the fact that a heap of trackback links from crap blog scrapers featured the article….. What to do now… Should I remove the scripts and links to it…. I’m not sure?

Update on Imagine/Gaelic Telecom Problems

In my last post I mentioned about problems connecting to my own blog from my home broadband connection with Imagine/Gaelic Telecom. Although it is now fixed I am still having problems accessing my friend Robert’ Sweetnam’s Blog. I am accessing his blog through proxify.com its the only way at the moment – I rang Gaelic Telecom/Imagine support again last Friday night complaining about not been able to view his site.

I was asked if I have “Content Filtering” enabled which I said no and his reply was “Well I really haven’t got a clue why you cannot access http://blog.sweetnam.eu” he went on to say “I will send a ticket up to tech support and see what they say” he also asked me for my mobile number so a “techy” could ring me back within the hour, but as expected I was left still waiting on the call.

Monday morning came and lo and behold I got a call back from Gareth “the techy guy” at Imagine Telecom Support. He said they were still looking into the problem and that he would call me back before the end of working day. He also suggested that they change my IP address as that would surely fix the problem, I said no to the IP change and left them to it but hence to say I got no call back.

Left it stew for Tuesday….

This morning Wednesday I called back support went through the whole “rigga’ ma’ roll” (procedure) again with general support and demanded some answers by today. An hour later Gareth called back with the solution of changing my IP and I quote what he said…

“It appears that you turned off “Content Filtering” back in June 2006 (which I did) but it seems it didn’t go through properly. You were going through a proxy server where your content was been cached, to help speed an stuff.”

So Robert was right as mentioned here  “they” could track my where abouts if they wanted to!

Back to the solution… I caved to the IP change in the end and was supplied with a new IP address over the phone. I went home reset my router, flushed the dns, cleared my cache etc. re-booted and opened up Firefox typed in http://blog.sweetnam.eu and guess what?

No F**king joy!

Back to the idiots again tomorrow to tell ’em to shove their solution up the highest part of their holes.

Vodafone Ireland – Web Site Redesign

Vodafone website re-designLogged on to the Vodafone web site a few days ago and met the redesign. At first I was amused with the cleaner more accessible interface but then into the “Web Texts” section which I mostly use, I was purely disappointed.

The old version Vodafone web site you could click an alphabetical letter A-B-C-D and so on… and the contact list would jump to that section of names, also your contact’s number was displayed to the right… well to me it was like a personal phone book.

Now its just your contacts nickname displayed, no number at all, so to retrieve a contacts number you have to open up Vodafone Mail (I cant stand using that) and browse through your contacts clicking here – there and everywhere … just for the sake of a number!

Ok then thumbs up for the new de-cluttered web site and the more accessible approach, but the “Web Text” function for me is a step back and looks like “work in progress”

Anyone else?

The Police – Croke Park – Dublin – My Review

The Police - Croke Park - Dublin - ReviewGot back from Dublin today after going to “The Police” at Croke Park. Being a teenager during the whole pre/post “punk” “new wave” age of late 70’s early 80’s The Police was the band I always wished I could go an see. The Police headlined Leixlip Castle at the “Dublin Festival 1980”, which was their first (and became their only) show in Ireland. I remember dreaming of going to that show but was too young at the time. So here I was 27 years on and finally getting to see the band.

The Support:

Support band on the night were “Fiction Plane” with lead singer, Joe Sumner, son of Gordon Sumner, better known as Sting – “Keep it in the family”
I have to admit that I didn’t feel keen on hearing the support band as a few of us preferred having a few scoops at the bar and just to note I did stand patiently in a queue with around 100 people ahead but the bar flew through us at €5 a scoop. Around 8:00pm The Police were on stage.

The Gig:

Kicking off with “Message In A Bottle” a classic and on to a good mix of old and new “Driven To Tears” was a stand out for me with drive and melody as was “Wrapped Around Your Finger” with Stewart Copeland playing bells, chimes, gongs and other percussion. I noticed the crowd looked a fair bit bored at the less popular songs but things swung into spirts again with “De DoDoDo De DaDaDa“.

Things got a little messy around us about a half hour into the gig with 2 fights breaking out to the right and left, we were sitting on the Hogan Stand, Upper Tier – 1 guy totally acting the dickhead and escorted away by The Police sorry the Gardai (pardon the pun) and another guy fuelled up on booze to the point that he wanted to take on the stadium… there was shouting and abuse but it sorted itself out eventually. tg!

Then there was Sting’s dragging out the songs with singing “Roxanne OH!” for a more than a bareable few minutes +  crowd reaction. Sting was’nt going for the high notes on any of the setlist tonight and there was a drop in key for many of their hit songs. Well I am musician aswell – ” Oh sorry a drummer really” 🙂 does that count!??? Enevitably “Every Breath You Take” was the big crowd pleaser of the night.

Recap:

I suppose thinking about it now it was nice being there with some “living legend” musicians and I’ve gotta give thumbs up to Stewart Copeland for the inspiration in rhythm, but the whole Croke Park thing (82,000 approx) was just too much for comfort. I would have preferred to see them at the Point.
The stage design was a bit bland but the side video screens helped in capturing the atmosphere of just 3 guys on stage. This was a no-nonsense, no fireworks, no bells or whistles – straight on gig. I was glad to have gone but wouldnt return or “been there, done that,  but would’nt buy the T-shirt”.

Heres the setlist below. It’s about 90% accurate …

the police tour 2007 set list

 

The Aftermath:

After the gig we headed to “Barrys Hotel” bar for a drink and one of the lads mentioned that a pint of Guiness was only €3.40! and that was in Dublin. The bar was old and the toilets were stinking but we chatted away regardless about the gig. After an hour or so we parted and headed for the dreaded “Waiting on O’ Connell Street for a Taxi syndrome” this was a nightmare!

We waited for over an hour and a half for a taxi to come along with a huge crowd and witnessed fighting, verbal abuse and racist remarks and that was just coming from the taxi queue. We all agreed that Dublin must be a shithole to live in and we’d never complain about waiting for a local taxi ever again.

Well thats me done with Dublin and stadium rock for a while…!

Leaving MySpace

Finally deleted all the posted comments and friend contacts I had built up over the past year and a half on my MySpace page. The feeling was great! I no longer have to accept, respond or comment to people inside that heap of **** anymore.

After hearing about MySpace from a musician friend of mine I went about signing up to see what all the fuss was about, at first I thought it would be a nice to keep in contact with all the muso’s (Musicians).

When at gig’s I’d get the “Whats your MySpace page?” and if you didn’t have one you would get that kind of “Whaaaaat! ..look .. it’s simple just go to so and so and put in your name and email and so on etc. etc..”

After a few weeks of setting up my account and adding friends and the like, I guess curiosity got the better of me and I had to have a look under the hood to see how this monster is coded and try to ultimately customise (laugh!) it.

From the tasteful div overlay method of Hyaline Skies to the “Try not Make My Page Look Like a Tripod Hosted Website Please” I have tried them all by changing bits of CSS here and there and trying to be a little clever about it…. This became hard work so I gave up trying to re-invent the wheel and pulled out, clearly out of frustration with the whole thing. The only MySpace page to get it somehow right in my opinion is by this guy Mike Davidson using clean html/css to what is allowed by MySpace guides and rules.

I don’t want to come down on many of my friends that use MySpace (100 million can’t be wrong) as a tool to try and promote their music as it is just that a “Tool” but the whole model is a cheap tacky mess and that’s just an opinion but its’s “my opinion”.

To finish, do you think Rupert Murdoch’s empire could spare a little change of the $30 million per month they earn on Google Adsense alone (and thats old news) to do a little house cleaning on that MySpace monster? I don’t think so….. Here’s to all their 100 million + users who feed them with content, music and videos.

“IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT ” Any attempt to improve on a system that already works is pointless and may even prove detrimental.

>> Click here for farewell picture <<