IT

Hooray – I’m getting Unifi (faster Internet) – the saga – (Countdown: 6)

Unifi is Telekom Malaysia’s fibre Internet service.  For years I have gone to their offices or desks and asked, “Can I get it now?”  And usually they told me I could get it in six months.  And the same answer when I returned in six months. And the same again in six months time – and so on.  Condos seem to have priority, and we live in a house.  But TM laid fibre down our street a few years ago, so since then I have expected to be able to get it.

A few weeks ago I got a text saying we can get Unifi. So I go to TM at Paragon – only to find a sign saying “out to lunch”, with a phone number.  No staff to cover lunch?  Anyway, I ring, and I’m told I have to wait for an hour. Terrible service.  But she’ll ring me.  I go home.  Of course, I get no phone call.

Next I ask at the TM desk in the Tesco building, where I am (mis)informed that we can’t get it. I give up, thinking the text I received was a mistake.

A couple of weeks later I get a phone call from TM where they said I could get it, and then set up an installation date. The person on the phone said they’d send me a text and email with all the information they told me on the phone. I received nothing.  They gave me a logon to use – the technician didn’t use it.

After the election the new government suddenly declared the two business days before my installation date to be public holidays, so I wouldn’t have been surprised if my installation was delayed.  But instead I got a text from TM with the installer’s phone number, and it looked like it was going ahead. I called his number, but he didn’t answer.

I called his number several times, as the installation time period had passed, but he didn’t answer. I called TM, and they said he was coming at 2.30PM.  I waited some more.  He didn’t come.  Then we got a text from the installer somewhat later to say that TM had a technical problem, and he would install tomorrow, but would call first thing in the morning.

The next morning there was a text to say to call and reschedule or the installation would be cancelled. So I rang TM, who said I had cancelled, and that I should make another appointment for three days’ time.  I told them I had not, and that I had been waiting at home for two days now, and wanted it done today.  They said they’d put in an urgent request.

Next we called the installer, who answered, and said he’d be here to do it in 30 minutes.  45 minutes later he calls back to say TM has a speed problem, and while he could install there would be no point. He said he’d call back when the issue is resolved – I get the impression this could be in one or two days.

TM sends you automated texts, and these don’t seem to be correlated exactly with the TM office, and neither with what is happening.  Also, they don;t accept texts to this number. A communication problem in a communication company.

So later I get a text saying the technical problem had been solved and setting an appointment time in a few days time which is not convenient for me.  An appointment time needs to be mutually agreed.

They have a live chat feature, so I connect to that – you need among other things a “service number” – no idea what that is. They haven’t given me one, and the one on my TM bill didn’t work – so I made up numbers until the app accepted it and I connected – then it turns out I’m 95th in the queue!! I waited for an hour and gave up.  So far they haven’t managed to get one thing right. They make appointments they don’t keep. They don’t inform you when they are not coming, They set appointment times without mutual agreement. And they keep you in the dark about what’s happening – no communication.

A few days later…

I went out halfway through the appointment time they said, and later received a phone call to say that they’d come much later. I’d be back home then, so if they came, no problem.  Once I’d finished what I was doing I returned home, and about 5 minutes later – much earlier than the latest time they stated, they arrived.

My advice with TM: Make an appointment time when you will be home anyway.  Don’t expect them to actually come.  If you have to go out, don’t worry about it, just go out.

Three men came – one to drive the van, one to carry the modem from the van to the house, and one to install and set up the modem.  It took about 30 minutes to get it running and for me to ensure it was working properly. I was told I could change the WiFi logon and password, and the router logon and password. I logged on to the router later, and it’s got a very basic interface, and I could only change the router password, and none of the others.

So far the connection seems to work fine.

 

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demobilising and remobilising

My phone got stuck in the reboot sequence when I started it on Thursday morning – until the battery died. I was demobilised.  Normally I don’t turn the phone off, but for some reason I did the previous night. Perhaps a restart, which I do once a week or so, would have caused the same problem.

I phoned and then took the phone to the service centre, in Prangin Mall, and they told me it was an operating system software problem, so everything I had on the phone would be lost to fix the phone.  I left it for an hour, and then returned and it was ready.  Under warranty.

Once home I did the setup.  Now, Android is Google, of course.  When I tried to set it up my Google login repeatedly failed.  I knew I wasn’t getting the logon or password wrong, so I checked my email on my PC – and it turns out that Google was blocking it for “security” reasons.  Once I’d got over that, I could get it sorted.

So the point is:

Keep your receipt for the warranty

Have a backup of whatever is on your phone

Have another device that you can use to overcome security hurdles

After a factory reset:

  1. Log in to phone
  2. Check that it works
  3. Open Google Play and select to install from my library all the apps I want
  4. Put the phone near the WiFi to speed the downloads
  5. Open the folder layout screenshot I made and put on PC so I can easily replicate it
  6. When apps are downloaded make folders as in no. 5.
  7. Remove one icon from the bottom row – these show up on each screen, and in turn put one folder there, so can easily put icons into that folder.  Then replace with another folder to do the same.
  8. Gradually log in to apps as necessary

 

Current podcasts – 2018

I like to listen to podcasts while doing something else – gardening, cooking, exercising.  I cover a number of topics – politics, technology, films, health, current affairs, history, German etc. Here are most of the podcasts I currently keep up with – but I don’t listen to any particular podcast if the topic doesn’t interest me. They are very loosely separated into categories:

 

FILM & REVIEWS

The Dusty Den – book and film reviews – only broadcast occasionally

http://www.empireonline.com/podcast/ – film and TV reviews from the UK, but covers US too

 

GERMAN

Langsam Gesprochene Nachrichten – Deutsche Welle – http://www.dw.de/deutsch-lernen/nachrichten/s-8030 – comes with the script so you can read along

Was heißt das auf Deutsch – songs with English lyrics translated to German

DeutschTop-Thema – various themes in German, covered in two or three minutes

Germanpod101.com – short teaching podcasts

News des Nachrichtens – from Berlin about Germany but in English – I met the podcaster in Berlin once

Radio Spaetkauf – from and about Berlin but in English – http://www.radiospaetkauf.com/ – I once attended the live podcast in Berlin

Slow German – every couple of weeks or so, covering one theme for a few minutes

 

HEALTH

Healing with Jennifer Daniels – now on Republic Broadcasting

Kick it Naturally – natural approaches to solving health problems

 

HISTORY

The Dangerous History Podcast – fantastic history podcast – but much is US based

http://www.spingola.com/SpingolaSpecials.html – long running political, health, history etc. podcast

http://spingolaspeaks.wordpress.com/

 

IT

Gadget Lab podcast – from Wired Magazine US

http://www.wired.co.uk/podcast – from Wired Magazine UK

http://podcast.pcpro.co.uk/ – from PC Pro magazine – UK

Reply All – US – idiosyncratic topics – sometimes really interesting, sometimes I skip it

 

JAPANESE

News in Slow Japanese – and full speed, too – a few minutes on a specific topic

Disrupting Japan – in English – Tokyo based, in English, talking to start-ups

 

POLITICS & NEWS

http://www.corbettreport.com/?i=Interviews – Japan based, excellently researched politics, news, history

NovaraFM – far left UK broadcasts, but some more moderate coverage, too

Project censored – another mostly left wing leading podcast, that advocates no censorship

Free Man beyond the Wall – right oriented freedom podcast

Liberty Weekly Podcast  – right oriented freedom podcast

Brexit Central – mainly anti-Brexit

Brexit Podcast – pro-Brexit

http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/podcast.php – right oriented freedom podcast

http://www.blacklistedradio.com/ –  – right oriented freedom podcast

http://www.sovereignman.com/category/podcast/ – right oriented freedom podcast

http://www.redicecreations.com/radio/nonsubscriber.phphttp://www.redicecreations.com/radio3fourteen/ – right oriented podcast

http://www.thecommonsenseshow.com/category/radio-archives/ – right oriented freedom podcast

Democracy Now – far left extremists – yesterday they were pushing marxism. Best are interviews with musicians, which they occasionally have.

 

SPANISH

SBS en español – from Australia, short podcasts on various topics

Radio Nacional de España – Nómadas – http://www.listenradios.com/en/radio-nacional-de-espana/

News in Slow Spanish – weekly or so

Duolingual Podcast – a series of podcasts in both English and Spanish

 

SPIRITUAL

Eschaton – eclectic, but interesting

The Mind Renewed – from the UK, sometimes also political or religious

http://www.21stcenturyradio.com/audioarchives/2018/index.html – from Baltimore, sometimes ecological, music…

http://www.thecrowhouse.com/radio.html – from Australia – politics, too

IT pluses and minuses recently

  • Prices for IT equipment are rising in Malaysia.
  • Four years ago we bought a well specified Asus PC for under RM3,000.  Now it seems to cost more than RM5,000 for something similar. Asus is my favourite brand, and this computer is still going well, so it’s a shame they’ve increased in price a lot.  Most PC’s are now a similar or higher price for the specification. MINUS.
  • My five and a half year old Asus tablet is still going strong, if slowly. ( I brought it out again after my Huawei died.)  PLUS
  • As mentioned previously, my one year four month old Huawei Media Pad tablet battery died.  MINUS.
  • I spent RM157 to have the battery replaced at the Huawei Repair Centre – as it was built in and not easily replaceable by consumers – and the replacement battery was no better, and soon the tablet totally died again – but naturally after the pathetic one month warranty for the work ended.  Being broken I thought I may as well open it myself despite possibly damaging it, and I found they appeared to have replaced my dead battery with a several year old battery.  I went to the Huawei repair centre to ask and they wouldn’t answer and never got back to me.  MINUS.
  • Wanting another computer last year – actually a hybrid PC / tablet as I no longer could use the Huawei tablet –  I had to forgo Asus due to the price, and found the best value for a reasonable specification in an Acer, for just over RM3,000, having added four times their standard RAM.  It was a good choice. PLUS
  • Hard disk prices are increasing – and many of them are made in Malaysia. Western Digital is the main brand available here.   In September 2014 I bought a Western Digital 4TB PC internal hard disk for RM468.  Yesterday in the same shop I note that the price is now RM689.  MINUS.
  • By the way,  shops never seem to have disks larger than 4TB, but yesterday I saw a 6TB one – for RM1229. A crazy price. I have never seen a 10TB disk in Malaysia. MINUS.
  • In September 2014 I also bought a Western Digital 4TB external hard disk for RM539.  Now one of the smaller versions that use USB for power is around RM759 from memory.  Although currently you can buy it on special for RM599.  MINUS.
  • The prices of top of the range phones are going up and up with each new model, generally. MINUS.
  • However, the lower and middle price phones are now so good, that you don’t need the top priced phones unless you have some special requirement. PLUS.
  • I installed the English version of Wechat, an app very popular (980 million active users monthly) with Chinese for communicating – and it totally killed my phone. MINUS.
  • I did a factory reset on my phone – which is only about eight months old – and now it works better than ever. PLUS.
  • Google Assistant starts automatically on my phone and interrupts podcasts I’m listening to sometimes. If I try to shut it it immediately restarts.  I’ve tried disabling it, but it somehow overcomes this.  It’s supposed to listen to my questions and commands, so one would expect commands like, “Close Google Assistant” would be easy and effective. It ignores me  and keeps on interrupting. MINUS.
  • I recently discovered that in Windows 10 there is an automatic backup that you can turn on if you wish.  So you can save your important folders automatically to another disk. Go to Settings / Update and Security and choose  Backup from the menu on the left, and you’ll find Backup using File History.  PLUS
  • I have also found a free imaging program that can automatically image your PC so that if the PC dies you can easily restore it from your image and quickly have it working again.  It’s called Macrium.  There is also a paid for version if you want. PLUS.

So, these are my recent experiences.

 

 

perennial procrastinator placated – fulfilling new year’s resolutions

For the first time, I actually fulfilled my new year’s resolutions this year.

And how did I do it?

By making a couple of checklists on Google Keep – an app that’s simple and easily synchronises between the PC and phone and tablet.  One checklist is for daily tasks, and the other for regular tasks. An example of a daily task is meditation or going for a walk. An example of a regular task is the gym.  I try to do most tasks before midday, and check them off as I do them.  At the end of the day I clear all checks so the lists are clear for the next day. I don’t beat myself up if I don’t do everything every day; every day is a new start, and I’d done my best.  I don’t need a record of what I had done, only I know I’d done my best for the day. But most days I’d done almost all of the daily tasks and many of the regular tasks by the end of the day.

For one-time tasks I find it better to write on a paper list and cross off when it’s done.  e.g. repairing an item. When the list is mostly crossed off I just make a new list with the remaining tasks, and add new tasks to it as they come up.

So I’ll keep on doing my lists from now.  The days of recycling the same New Year’s Resolution list every year, having largely failed are over. For next year I can only think of one thing I need on my New Year’s Resolution list.  It’ll go on my regular list.

My Huawei tablet – tales of the undead. Update – but not yet resolved. Final Update – they just ignored me.

FINAL UPDATE

They took the common response to consumer complaints in this country – they promised to do something, and they did nothing, and didn’t contact me.

It is two weeks later and I have heard nothing.

So it appears to me that I paid for a new battery to be installed, but got an old battery.  Perhaps it was “new” in the sense it was unused, but batteries deteriorate with time, and it was not new as in reasonably recently manufactured, the latter being the expectation.  It did not perform as a new battery, but the warranty was so short that by the time I was sure of this the warranty had expired.  There is the chance that the numbers on the battery do not correspond to a date, but they have neither confirmed or denied this.

So, do I save effort and give up, having learnt that Huawei in Malaysia is not a company that cares about its customers, or do I seek lawful remedy?  We’ll see.

Huawei have a couple of interesting products on the market – but other good brands are available too – so obviously I will not ever be considering Huawei again.

UPDATE

21.11.2017  I rang the Huawei repair centre in Burma Road and asked if the figures on the battery represented the date of manufacture.  They couldn’t tell me, so I went there with the device and showed them. They still couldn’t tell me, so they took a photo and told me they’d get back to me in a few days.

—————

 

Sadly it seems my Huawei tablet died at about 18 months old. In late July, 2017.

When I bought my Huawei Media tablet on Christmas 2015 it was the only tablet with the specifications I wanted on the market in Malaysia.  And they promised to upgrade the operating system from Lollipop to Marshmallow within a few months.

I was a good tablet for about a year, and then for the remaining seven months plagued by poor battery life.  Plus in the last few months I was also constant plagued by ads on the front screen, and if I flicked to open the tablet 1mm in the wrong direction the ad would open and play a video or more ads would appear.

I’m not returning to the Huawei repair centre after my last experience. Back in April I paid Huawei RM157.90 to replace the battery with a new one – an expensive – because it’s a non-removable battery and thus the battery costs more and I have to pay to get it done – process. But also annoying as I first have to wipe the tablet of all settings and data, as they suggest anyway, then after spend a lot of time setting it up again the way I like it.  It was no better after, but the battery warranty is a laughably short time – they appear to have no confidence in their own hardware.

I had waited and waited for the upgrade to Marshmallow, and checked Huawei’s web pages and others – the upgrade was coming soon.  It never came. Well, It doesn’t matter now.

No shop said they could repair it for a reasonable sum.  They didn’t have a screen available to test it on.  I thought it might just be a poor connection or some small component that needed replacement, but no one was interested in helping – as the screen didn’t display it was stuck in their minds that it was the screen that needed replacement.  I only showed it to them, and never left it with them, and they never opened it.

So now I am back to using my five-year old Asus tablet which still chugs along, and which did deliver the upgrade they promised.  And for a phone – for recently I used the tablet as a phone too – I used a years’ old Motorola, which still works fine – and which also delivered the promised upgrade after purchase.  But while the Motorola works, it can’t do everything I require, and it’s only 3G, not 4G, so I bought a new phone, which I am very happy with.

18 months is the shortest any electronic device has lasted for me that I can remember.  I never dropped it, submerged it in water, or even spoke to it harshly.

It started to work again when I opened it

So the tablet has been sitting around for months dead, but because I never had the chance to get data off it I didn’t want to recycle it. Finally,  I thought I might as well open it up and see if I could see something which was obviously where the data would be stored, then remove this, and the rest could be recycled.  If not, I would just have to attack with a hammer. I charged it up, and checked YouTube to find out how to open it. And, on opening it, Mrs Tropicalexpat touched something inside and the screen came to life and I could use it again.  It worked on and off for a couple of days, and I could get my data off it via an SD card.  At first I closed it again, but then it wouldn’t work. So I opened it again, and it worked again sometimes. Next I did a factory reset.  I couldn’t find an obvious data storage chip, but then I don’t know what I should be looking for.

Is that date looking number a date?

But then I found a nasty secret, or at least a mystery. I’d paid for a new battery, but the date on the battery is 2014-08-03.  Either they didn’t replace the battery at all when I took it to the repair centre for the new battery – and when I bought the device they’d installed an already old battery – or they replaced the old battery with another old battery.  Either would explain the poor battery performance. The part number on the receipt doesn’t match any number I can see on the battery, either. Or this number is not a date.  Or it’s a date using a different calendar.  Did they stop manufacturing batteries for this model in 2014, and thus any replacement had to be old – in which case they should have told me and asked me if I still wanted my battery replaced.  (My answer – “No”).  As I write it’s playing dead again.

I don’t know what to think, so I’ll be off to Huawei to ask for an explanation.

My Huawei tablet – tales of the undead. Update – but not yet resolved.

UPDATE

21.11.2017  I rang the Huawei repair centre in Burma Road and asked if the figures on the battery represented the date of manufacture.  They couldn’t tell me, so I went there with the device and showed them. They still couldn’t tell me, so they took a photo and told me they’d get back to me in a few days.

—————

 

Sadly it seems my Huawei tablet died at about 18 months old. In late July, 2017.

When I bought my Huawei Media tablet on Christmas 2015 it was the only tablet with the specifications I wanted on the market in Malaysia.  And they promised to upgrade the operating system from Lollipop to Marshmallow within a few months.

I was a good tablet for about a year, and then for the remaining seven months plagued by poor battery life.  Plus in the last few months I was also constant plagued by ads on the front screen, and if I flicked to open the tablet 1mm in the wrong direction the ad would open and play a video or more ads would appear.

I’m not returning to the Huawei repair centre after my last experience. Back in April I paid Huawei RM157.90 to replace the battery with a new one – an expensive – because it’s a non-removable battery and thus the battery costs more and I have to pay to get it done – process. But also annoying as I first have to wipe the tablet of all settings and data, as they suggest anyway, then after spend a lot of time setting it up again the way I like it.  It was no better after, but the battery warranty is a laughably short time – they appear to have no confidence in their own hardware.

I had waited and waited for the upgrade to Marshmallow, and checked Huawei’s web pages and others – the upgrade was coming soon.  It never came. Well, It doesn’t matter now.

No shop said they could repair it for a reasonable sum.  They didn’t have a screen available to test it on.  I thought it might just be a poor connection or some small component that needed replacement, but no one was interested in helping – as the screen didn’t display it was stuck in their minds that it was the screen that needed replacement.  I only showed it to them, and never left it with them, and they never opened it.

So now I am back to using my five-year old Asus tablet which still chugs along, and which did deliver the upgrade they promised.  And for a phone – for recently I used the tablet as a phone too – I used a years’ old Motorola, which still works fine – and which also delivered the promised upgrade after purchase.  But while the Motorola works, it can’t do everything I require, and it’s only 3G, not 4G, so I bought a new phone, which I am very happy with.

18 months is the shortest any electronic device has lasted for me that I can remember.  I never dropped it, submerged it in water, or even spoke to it harshly.

It started to work again when I opened it

So the tablet has been sitting around for months dead, but because I never had the chance to get data off it I didn’t want to recycle it. Finally,  I thought I might as well open it up and see if I could see something which was obviously where the data would be stored, then remove this, and the rest could be recycled.  If not, I would just have to attack with a hammer. I charged it up, and checked YouTube to find out how to open it. And, on opening it, Mrs Tropicalexpat touched something inside and the screen came to life and I could use it again.  It worked on and off for a couple of days, and I could get my data off it via an SD card.  At first I closed it again, but then it wouldn’t work. So I opened it again, and it worked again sometimes. Next I did a factory reset.  I couldn’t find an obvious data storage chip, but then I don’t know what I should be looking for.

Is that date looking number a date?

But then I found a nasty secret, or at least a mystery. I’d paid for a new battery, but the date on the battery is 2014-08-03.  Either they didn’t replace the battery at all when I took it to the repair centre for the new battery – and when I bought the device they’d installed an already old battery – or they replaced the old battery with another old battery.  Either would explain the poor battery performance. The part number on the receipt doesn’t match any number I can see on the battery, either. Or this number is not a date.  Or it’s a date using a different calendar.  Did they stop manufacturing batteries for this model in 2014, and thus any replacement had to be old – in which case they should have told me and asked me if I still wanted my battery replaced.  (My answer – “No”).  As I write it’s playing dead again.

I don’t know what to think, so I’ll be off to Huawei to ask for an explanation.