Monday, July 21, 2008

Farnborough Airshow 2008

Red Arrows and the Airbus A380

Airbus A380


On Sunday I went to the Farnborough Airshow. I went with my 2 daughters on the train from Eastleigh to Farnborough station, where free buses took us to the airfield.

We saw lots of static and flying planes and helicopters of which the Vulcan bomber, Eurofighter Typhoon F-35, Airbus A380 and the Red Arrows where the most memorable. The Vulcan was by far the loudest plane of the day.

There was a fair amount of free stuff to collect from the stands, although they were mostly engineering firms doing specialist pieces for planes so it was mostly the likes of Rolls Royce and BAE that had free stuff that interested us. The University of Manchester had a good stall with hands-on puzzles for children to experiment with. They gave us a badge and a keyring, but had run out of bouncy balls :(

There was an IBM truck, demonstrating the various Blade technologies to customers and partners. They also had a PS3 and Wii to play with and the very nice man I spoke to gave my kids a (VGA+, 800k) digital camera, a baseball cap and a folder. We also got to nibble on biscuits, Miniature Heroes and (full-fat) cold Coke.

The Red Arrows closed the show with their full display - it requires a fairly high cloud base - which lasted 30 minutes and was very impressive and polished. But for me, the highlights were the noisiest planes - the Vulcan and Eurofighter.

Even the kids said they had a good day out and would do it again. It helped that they had their Nintendo DS's for when they got bored but they enjoyed the atmosphere of the event - 80,000+ visitors, not including the 1,000s of support staff and pilots etc. Looking forward to going again in 2 years...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

This years car insurance

Last year I got car insurance from Swiftcover at a premium of about £220 with £35 cashback from QuidCo.

The renewal price was similar, £221. But renewing won't get me any cashback.

I got quotes at the start of July and Privilege was the best with a quote of about £226 and £70 cashback.

But when I came to make the purchase last weekend, the cashback had dropped to £50. Grr.

So I've gone with Prudential with a annual premium (paid up front) of £234 with £75 cashback (which has tracked already). ie, annual premium of £159.

The Privilege quote included a 0% APR for monthly payments, but didn't include a courtesy car. The Prudential cover does include a courtesy car for as long as it takes to get the car repaired. The excess is quite high though at £300, but I've not claimed in 13 years so fingers crossed it doesn't matter.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

iPhone - one day in

I'm just letting the kids have a go on a free app from the AppStore named Cube Runner where you steer a little spaceship using the iPhone's built in accelerometer. This little break seemed like a good time to right a quick blog post.

Here's an unstructured list of things that spring to mind.

Shiny. Shiny. Shiny.

The 3G coverage seems fine around Eastleigh. I used it at Boyatt Wood shops whilst waiting for our pets to see the vet (they're fine, the rabbit didn't seem to mind being jabbed with a needle).

Web browsing speed over wireless and 3G is perfectly acceptable but a real computer is still much nicer to use. I logged in to the Hampshire Online Library, used HotUkDeals, checked - so far everything going well.

I've set up Yahoo and Google mail and they're both fine.

I installed the free Shazam application - I hadn't come across this before and I'm very impressed. It collects 10 seconds of music using the iPhone's microphone and sends it to Shazam who tell you within a second or two what song it is. It's worked perfectly so far listening to music played through my Thinkpad's speakers and a radio station being listened to on the TV. Neat.

O2 have started charging me from the 9 July - the device didn't arrive until Friday 11th. So that's £2.00 I might consider asking for back.

The Google maps application is neat but definitely not a Sat Nav app. It doesn't track where you go, it just asks the phone where you are "now" when it is relevant. Like the online version you can get a route planned and drawn on the maps and it generates a list of turn by turn text directions if you have someone in the car to help navigate. But if you deviate it won't know. But you can always replan a new route from whereever you are "now".

The location awareness feature is cool. I installed the WeatherBug app (which is buggy, not yet recommended) and I started to add a new location, thinking that I'd be telling it my post code or town. But instead I just clicked on "Current location" and it said that Southampton was the nearest point it new about. Cool. But then it crashed - I'd guess that it hasn't been tested using UK locations.

The auto-capitalization and correction functionality was a real pain when I was trying to enter my email address in some web forms. It kept changing russell_finn to Russell_Finn which some systems will tolerate (Google) but others won't. It also kept changing .uk to .I'm Because this was a web form and not an iPhone app the data entry mechanism wasn't the specialized email address entry sort but was the vanilla one - I've now turned off the smarts but now I'm missing them. A way to switch between them more easily would be good - it's buried in the Settings section.

The Safari browser works so well that rather than complaining about basic functionality I'm wishing that it had more features like Firefox like addons for, Secure Login etc.

I guess there's a Password Safe type app, and hopefully it's free, as I need to put passwords somewhere (not my IBM internal ones, just websites etc).

iTunes has some neat features but the basic spreadsheet approach to displaying songs causes performance problems, even on my quite powerful laptop. I can live with it.

I've switched networks from Vodafone to O2, and I didn't move numbers (to let another family member have the Sony Ericsson k750i) so I need to tell people the new number. But probably not on this blog :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

iPhone 3g coming tomorrow?

I received an email from Carphone Warehouse:

"Your new iPhone 3G is now available and will be sent to your chosen delivery address on Friday 11th July. It will be delivered by our courier Citylink. If no one is available to sign for the delivery, a card will be left with contact details so you can rearrange it at a more convenient time. Deliveries will be made between 9am - 5.30pm"

I'm going to be at the Goodwood Festival of Speed tomorrow but hopefully Emma will be in to sign for it, or I'll collect from the Citylink depot down the road when I get home.

It's like waiting for Christmas day...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I've ordered an iPhone 3G

Sadly it seems that the Pay as you Go option won't be available until much later this year.

By the time I realised that O2 were selling the iPhone their ordering system was down. By the time I realised that it was back up again they had sold out of the 16GB version.

But Carphone Warehouse have the 16GB version and have accepted my order. I went via QuidCo and it's already tracked at £60 cashback. (Nb. They're out of stock now).

Update: Now QuidCo shows this transaction as "declined". Hmm.

I chose the £30/month package which includes unlimited data and 75 mins + 125 texts per month which is way more than I currently use.

So for 18 months it'll cost £159 + 18*£30 - £60 = £639.

The iPhone hardware must be worth about £360 (that's what it looked like O2 would charge for it), which seems fair based on a 16GB iTouch costing £230 and the iPhone has GPS, telephony and always on data.

The unlimited data is worth about £180 (maybe less, but about that amount).

Getting £200 worth of the phone in advance and paying in installments must be worth something, say £40.

So that means that the minutes and texts are costing about £3.27/month (or £6.61 if the QuidCo doesn't come through).

Seems pretty good to me.