Good thing I had this Typepad backup blog, which I'm sure will exist forever...
This is going to be a very short, and to-the-point, blog post as I can't be arsed dressing it up with pretty pictures or adding hypertext links.
Fancy Sky TV for 64p a month - with a Sky+ thrown in for good measure? Read on...
Sky's 'Original' bundle is currently (it's mid December 2014 as I'm typing this) being discounted by 25% (for the length of the contract).
On top of the the 25% discount, Sky are crediting £75 to new accounts (but charging £10 for set-up).
That makes a year's worth of (many of the better, but not all) basic Sky channels £128.44. This includes a Sky+HD box - which gives access to a handful off free HD channels and catch-up TV. The box is yours to keep.
If going through TopCashBack (and if it tracks) you'll get £120.75 back.
£128.44 minus £120.75 = £7.69 per year / 64p per month!
I'd go for this in a heartbeat if it included HD channels. HD would be £9.60 per month.
Just a reminder, there's a caveat, or two, with the deal. It doesn't include sports, movies or subscription HD channels, and it relies on cashback being paid out. Cashback from TopCashback (and similar sites) is never guaranteed and, if you do get it, expect to wait a few months for it to be paid out. The deal is only availble to UK customers, not Sky Italia, Deutschland or Irish ones.
Oh, and one last thing... if you need Sky Movies, shop around for a Now TV movies bundle. As I type this there's 2 months of Sky Movies (in HD) plus a little box to watch the films on for £14. That's waaaay cheaper than subscribing through Sky.
Despite what the marketing people working on behalf of the BBC's TV Licensing organisation will tell you, and despite what the foot soldiers they send out to knock on doors say, you DO NOT need a TV licence if you're a student living away from home. But you have to follow some rules to remain legal.
Follow these simple rules and you'll not only save £145.50, you'll beat the man with a green dildo. Figuratively, not literally.
Please share if you know of anyone off to university and has limited funds. Thanks!
Chromecast is pretty damn awesome. If you're a normal person with access to Wi-Fi, that is. For those of us landline-refusniks dependent on just the 3G/4G signal from our phone's hotspot, it's pretty damn useless. Well it was, until now!
To start off, I'm assuming you've already set up Chromecast with either an Android tablet or Chrome browser. If not, I think you'll still need to do that. That's how I set up mine before this little trick came along.
If you're on KitKat, it's now possible to cast stuff from your phone to your TV regardless of the Chromecast app bitching that it needs a Wi-Fi signal. To do this, first you'll need to have a rooted phone (if it's not rooted, it's very easily to do with an app called Towel Root*). You'll then need an app called Mirror Enabler - which is rather easy to use too. It's a one button job, and it's done!
Now open the Chromecast app on your phone. It will bitch about Wi-Fi still, but we can ignore that. Click 'Cancel' and open up the menu. Click 'Cast Screen' in the options menu, choose your Chromecast and cast to it. Hey presto, your phone is now on your TV!
Casting your phone's screen is all well and good, but the video quality is inconsistent, getting pretty dire at times. But, thanks to this little trick, you can now use whatever apps natively support casting from your phone too. This includes the likes of Netflix and iPlayer here in Blighty.
*Rooting your phone can void your warranty, and cause you to mess up your phone if you're not careful. Currently UK video apps such as Sky Go and NOW TV won't work on phones that are rooted (annoyingly, as they'd be ideal on Chromecast).
Finally, make sure you've got a generous allowance of 3G data and that your phone company doesn't charge any extra for tethering. Basically, don't blame me if you get a bill for hundreds of pounds, dollars or euros!
If you're in the UK too, you can now avail yourself of a Chromecast for just £18 at such fine establishments as Amazon and Tesco.
I've written a few times before about Now TV, the Now TV box and the cheap deals that can be had. So, I'll spare you much of that on this occasion. Instead I'll jump right on in and give you the bare facts.
Sky Movies is available via Sky's internet streaming service Now TV. Since the service launched it has always been much cheaper to subscribe via Now TV than it has been to subscribe via Sky satellite or Virgin cable. And Now is now even cheaper...
Currently shops such as Tesco, Sainsbury's, Currys/PC World and e-tailer Shop.To are selling Now TV set-top-boxes - with 3 months Sky Movies (via included voucher) - from £12.49 to £12.99. The box itself normally retails for £9.99, and offers BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD and Demand 5 as well, as a bonus.
If you want the box, the deal makes Sky Movies effectively 83p per month! If you don't want nor need the box (maybe as you're an existing customer and/or prefer watching on another device) it's still cheaper to get the bundle as £4.16 per month (£12.49 / 3) still beats the usual price of £7.99 hands down. You can then either keep the box as a spare or sell it on (I hear CEX are buying them for £7!) Batteries and HDMI cable are included, which is none too shabby.
You can register up to 4 devices with one Now TV account - and view simultaneously on two of them. So, for £50 (4 bundles @ £12.50 each) you could fit out your home with free catch-up telly and a year's worth of movies.
Don't like movies? First of all, what's wrong with you?!? Secondly, Now TV also have an Entertainment Pack that works like the Sky Movies one. Same price, different channels and four months instead of three. Featuring the likes of Sky1, Fox, MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, it's ideal for those heading off to uni in September. A year will only set you back £37.50, and, if only the on-demand programmes, rather than the live channels, are viewed, a £145.50 TV Licence won't be neccessary. Saving them, or their parents, £108 in the process.
As I type this, I'm in bed with toothache. Sadly, 'toothache' isn't the unlikely stage name of an exotic dancer I've met on my travels. It's toothache, toothache!
Anyhoo, I have my new laptop to take my mind off things. No, not the £150 Medion I mentioned in a previous post. That gets too hot in bed. This is, in fact, my refurb Dell Latitude 10 tablet from yesteryear. Thanks to a £1 stand at Poundland, a strategically placed pillow and a peripheral from a most bizarre Nintendo DS game (Pokémon Typing Adventure, £7.99 at Argos,) it's now effectively a bed-friendly laptop.
Best £8.99 I've spent in a long while! Okay, the stand isn't all that great (you can't change the angle) but the keyboard, from the Pokémon game, is the dog's proverbials. It's standard Bluetooth - hence why it works with the Windows tablet. The layout is much the same as a "real" PC keyboard, albeit lacking a few keys. It even came with batteries, a stand (to prop up a Nintendo DS - but also props up my Android phone) and, of course, the Pokemon DS game itself. More on the game in a future post.
If you've flown into Amsterdam's Schiphol airport recently, you may have seen something a little forebodding as you came into land. Marketing bods, on behalf of HBO, have spelt out 'What if your pilot disappeared?' in a crop "circle" in giant letters in a field close to the airport. Why? Glad you asked, it's to advertise new series 'The Leftovers' from Damon Lindelof, apparently. For those who don't know who that is, he created plane-crash drama 'Lost'.
And here's a video of how they made it...
In the last couple of weeks you may've become familiar with a new terrorist group by the name of ISIS, currently wreaking havoc in both Syria and Iraq. Unfortunately, for the world's second biggest retailer - British supermarket chain Tesco, ISIS is also what they've chosen to brand the budget TV range they sell.
Despite the name, the set above does - spec-wise, seem pretty good value. 50" Full HD with Freeview HD - and just £329. But I'd imagine many would be reluctant to let ISIS into their living rooms.
Me? I think I'll stick to this analogue al-Qaeda, bought in the late 90s, and still going strong...
Currently O2, the UK offshoot of Spanish telco Telefonica, are running a TV spot about how everyone hates waiting. I agree. Waiting sucks. Since the 8th of April (21 days ago) I've been waiting for a refund from said company. That's when they took £246.76 from my bank account in error, leaving me overdrawn to the tune of £59.97.
That's the reality of their O2 Refresh plan even when you follow their rules, to the letter, in ending a contract early, supposedly penalty free (as long as you've paid off the handset costs - which I did).
Unfortunately my bank, Halifax, were less than helpful, so I gave up trying to get an 'immediate' refund - or a refund at all - through the Direct Debit Guarantee. Confusion over the amount wrongfully taken has also complicated matters.
I'm at a stage now where I'm wondering if standing outside my local O2 store, telling prospective customers about my experiences, will speed matters up. At this point I really have nothing more to lose.
Yes, that's right - a semi-invisble car! Don't believe me? Check out the video below...
It was posted by the car company a week after April 1st, so it's fo' rizzle. As the kids would say.
So, how is this done - witchcraftery or voodoo? Not quite. Actually it's quite simple and involves no magic - black, white or otherwise. Land Rover simply shoved a bunch of video cameras into some nooks and crannies underneath the vehicle. The output from the cameras is then combined and projected on to the windscreen.
I have before me a new laptop. Not only is it before me, I'm typing this on it. Nothing out of the ordinary in that, I hear you say. Well, runs full-fat Windows 8 and cost £150. That makes it even cheaper than my electric toothbrush!
Don't believe me? Here you go...
Now, you're probably saying to yourself - seriously, you spent £250 on a toothbrush?!? I didn't, mine actually cost comfortably under £100. But that is how much it retails at John Lewis. So much for 'never knowingly undersold'.
But I did pay £150 at ASDA for that Medion 'The Touch' E1317T. So it's crap, right? Not quite! It's actually a rather good laptop - once you've spent about 24 hours removing all the bloatware that bogs it down and do all the updates for Windows 8.1 after doing all the updates for Windows 8.
You'd think I was kidding, you'd be wrong! But, once this is all done, it's by far the best £150 brand new computer I've ever used. Seriously, it's actually quite good. Screen isn't brilliant, not very vibrant. Touch pad can be a pain (disabling Synpatics Touchpad Enhancements helps somewhat). But keyboard and touchscreen are hard to fault.
In the end, you've got full Windows in a 10" screened portable package. One that can handle many a task its beefier brethren can handle and has full Office to boot.
Final note: The toothbrush is pretty good too. Not £250 good though!