Paul Gregg

Jack of all Tech.

My first bad ebay experience from happyapple-devices

Written By: pgregg - Nov• 08•2015

Opinions in this article are just that, my opinions.

Decided on October 9 to purchase an iPhone 5S from ebay business seller happyapple-devices.  Used Best Offer and paypal to complete the transaction.

The phone is described as:

Apple iPhone 5s ✔️Unlocked ✔️32GB Space Grey ✔️LIKE NEW CONDITION ✔️WARRARNTY

With description:

Seller refurbished :
Like new condition, and bezel shows no light typical wear and tear, and bezel surround is great condition. 12 months warranty plus 5 free accessories – USB Car Charger, Data Sync Cable, New Box with instructions, Sim Tray Removal Tool, Screen Protector and Cleaning Cloth, plus recorded delivery.

Link to the actual item sold via ebay.

Unfortunately when the phone arrived it was obvious that it was not ‘like new’.  It was in a very good almost excellent condition – certainly Grade A – but not ‘like new’.  There were some minor scuffs on the bezel, and a couple of dents in two corners – not major. However the screen and back is perfect.

The first thing I tried doing was charging it with the supplied ‘new’ charging cable – 2-3 hours later, phone still wouldn’t turn on. Crap! I thought I’d bought a duff phone. Then when I tried to unplug the charging cable – the end came apart in my hand exposing the electronic chip and circuity within these lightning cables.  I thought I’d try the daughter’s iPad charging cable and it did successfully charge the phone and it turned on OK. Yay!

Then I tried to raise the issue with the seller happyapple-devices.
Oct 15, I open a ticket with ebay on the item to highlight the inaccurate description and broken power cable. I included photos of the corner dents in the bezel as proof.

20151015_200915 20151015_200951

These guys tell a great story on customer service:
“We care about our customers and your experience.”
“Amazing customer services via phone, email or even text message.”

My experience is that these claims are entirely superficial and these guys could not care less about your experience.

I received a phone call from happyapple-devices the next day – keen to resolve the situation. Eventually we agreed that it would be appropriate (and cheaper for them and me) to re-grade the item as Grade A (instead of like new) and they would refund me £20. He would also send me a new “apple original” charging cable.

Then came the killer line from happyapple-devices: “The system won’t let me perform the refund while the ticket is open.”  He asked me to close the ticket so he could perform the £20 refund.  Not knowing any better – I’ve never had to do this before – I thought I needed to close the ticket to proceed.

I closed the ticket.   ProTip: Don’t close the tickets people until you’ve actually received satisfactory resolution to the issue.

It’s now 3 weeks and 2 days later and I still have no paypal refund. I also have not received a new cable.

Basically, my interpretation from happyapple-devices is a big fuck-you.

All I can do in response is warn others about their behaviour and file a complaint with ebay. When I post this I’m going to leave them negative feedback (also the first time I’ve done this to any seller) and if I can, link to this article. ebay UK already has my complaint (acknowledged by ebay twitter team) – but it may take a while to get a response.


Google renames as Alphabet

Written By: pgregg - Aug• 10•2015

August 10, 2015. Today Google announced that it was renaming itself as Alphabet.

The internet did a collective WTF! and nobody seems to understand why.

I believe this makes sense from an Antitrust perspective.

Today, google has to move cautiously to avoid getting accused of anti-competitive behaviour or using its leverage to benefit its own products. Something it is not always successful at. Microsoft learned this lesson at great cost at the hands of the EU.

If Google moves search into a child company (called Google) and makes all new product development as sister companies – critically – not under direction or control of “Google”, then they can no longer be accused of anti-competitive behaviour.

Of course, Alphabet will need to ensure some form of arms-length interaction between the sister companies. In doing so, Google (or Alphabet) can most likely avoid antitrust investigations into the future.

TomTom GO launched

Written By: pgregg - Apr• 12•2015


On March 25, 2015, TomTom announced that it was replacing all (android) TomTom applications with a single app called TomTom GO Mobile. The main “problem” with previous TomTom applications were that there was a separate app for each region, or maps, and you purchased them all separately.

TomTom GO Mobile creates a single central app that can download any map worldwide. And it comes with free lifetime maps. It provides the first 50 miles free each month and heavier users can take out a subscription for unlimited driving.

This is good right? Sounds good on paper, but there is a catch. A huge catch, and one anyone who paid for previous versions of the software are now becoming all too painfully aware.

The feature list of the new app contains:

– Lifetime World Maps: Always drive with the latest maps for over 100 countries**

** You can download 4 or more full updates every year for the life of your app.

TomTom reserves its right to unilaterally withdraw and/or to amend this offer and/or to amend the terms and conditions.

So basically, TomTom can, and will, stick it to you when they feel like it. Read on for how this launch is doing exactly this to, at least, all existing Android customers.

18 months ago I bought TomTom U.S. & Canada for $40 because I frequently visit the states and that’s the only place I really need navigation assistance. At time of writing the feature list for the app still contains the promise:

›› FREE Lifetime Maps. Download 4 or more full updates every year for the life of your app.

Also note that there are no ** caveats to that.

I took TomTom at their word. I believed them. Yes, I’m a dumbass and got suckered.

So TomTom has a web page that isn’t linked to from their app page, that defines “life of your app”: (emphasis, mine)

What are Lifetime Maps?

Updated: 19/11/2014 03.36 PM

If you buy a navigation device or smartphone app which includes Lifetime Maps, you can download 4 or more full updates of your map every year for the lifetime* of your product.

Lifetime Maps are available without additional charge and for as long as the product is supported.

The map updates are the full updates for the map that is pre-installed on your device or that is installed on your smartphone app. The geographical coverage and feature support in the map will continue to match the original version, as long as the original is commercially available.

You will receive all available updates to road network, addresses and Points of Interest in these releases.

*Lifetime – this is the useful life of the device, which means the period of time that TomTom continues to support your device with software updates, services, content or accessories. A device will have reached the end of its life when none of these are available any more. The useful life of the smartphone app means the period of time that TomTom continues to support the app with updates. 

So, to cut a long story short, all TomTom has to do is replace the app you paid good money for with a different app and your “lifetime” maps disappear.

TomTom has announced that existing TomTom apps will get map updates until October 2015, after which they will cease.

So in total, my $40 bought me 2 years and 2 months of TomTom. Not exactly a “lifetime” by any standard.

TomTom’s attempt to appease customers is to offer a 3 year subscription upgrade for 50p, instead of the usual £34.99 – so in 3 years time I can expect to pay at least £34.99 ($50) every 3 years for updates.

Nice scam TomTom.  If this isn’t a “bait and switch” I don’t know what is.

A disappointed customer.


New MSI GTX 970.

Written By: pgregg - Oct• 28•2014

Wow, I love this card.

New benchmark of system from previous post with this card:

PassMark Rating


New PC build

Written By: pgregg - Sep• 15•2014

This weekend I built my new PC. All the parts arrived, eventually.  Case, not shown, is a Corsair Obsidian 550D – supposedly a mid-sized tower, but in reality it’s huge.

Parts list:20140911_225943_sm

Desc Make Model Link to product Store
Case Corsair Corsair Obsidian Series 550D CC-9011015-WW Quiet Mid-Tower Cases Amazon
Power Supply Corsair RM850 Amazon
Motherboard Asus ROG Maximus VII Hero Amazon
CPU Intel Intel Devil’s Canyon Core i7 i7-4790K CPU (Quad Core 4GHz, Socket H3 LGA-1150) Ebuyer
CPU Cooler Corsair Corsair CW-9060014-WW Hydro Series H110 280mm Rad Extreme Performance All-In-One Liquid CPU Cooler Amazon
RAM GSkill G Skill 4x 8GB PC3-19200 DDR3 2400MHz Gaming Memory Kit Amazon
HD Samsung Samsung 840 EVO 500GB 2.5-inch Basic SATA Solid State Drive Amazon
Front Panel Asus Asus 4 inch USB 2.0 ROG Front Base LCD Dual Bay Gaming Panel Amazon

Basically, this is a beast. No graphics card yet because nVidia is announcing the 900 series in less than a week. Current gen cards will drop significantly. I’ll look at the new cards and performance/price when they are announced. Until then, I’ll live with the onboard Intel HD (which sill kills my present machine’s GeForce 9200).

Onto the build.

Chassis unboxed:

20140912_092750_smFigure the first thing I should worry about is the CPU watercooler radiator and fans.


People talk about “push” and “pull” systems and say the most efficient way to cool the CPU is to “pull” cold air from the outside of the case. It might be more efficient for the CPU, but all that heat is then dumped into the case. I feel better with a push to put the heat outside.

There is a cage you need to build for the waterblock/pump – a little fiddly and the instructions need careful attention. I got it wrong the first time, turns out I just needed to rotate the screw mounting cuffs. Cage constructed:


I didn’t know what way the fans blew, so took a guess and fitted them to the case. One thing here – I thought the screws were a little too short for the washer + rubber case mounting + fan size to reach the radiator casing it screws into. I had to apply some pressure for the screws to bite. Then I could tighten them… little did I know I’d be doing this several times later in the day… And here is why: :(


The radiator block extends over the top of the motherboard, enough to obstruct the EATX12V supply (direct power supply to the CPU). This is an 8 pin (4×2) block, the radiator blocks 4 top pins. The last time I built a PC, this didn’t exist and so my pre-purchase check that the AXT powersupply plug on the motherboard was far enough away didn’t throw up any red flags.  I had a real problem. Case (Corsair Obsidian 550D) + Watercooler (Corsair H110) were listed as compatible by Corsair, but throw in my choice of motherboard Asus Maximus Hero VII and suddenly they are not compatible.


I don’t believe Corsair should list a case/heatsink as compatible if it is going to cover 5mm of the motherboard – especially since there are power and fan connections on most motherboards up there.

Seriously considering having to go with the retail fan on the CPU… :(

I then noticed that the blocking part is just part of the mounting frame, that I didn’t need on this side…. I could cut out a hole with the dremel.



Buffed it to be sure no little metal filings would be left to drop down, shorting components, and refitted it back into the case.

This time, I should be able to fit the motherboard and have clearance for the power plug.  Because the CPU and Fan powersupply would also be blocked, I plugged the cables in before sliding the motherboard into position.


Few screws later, and we’re in:


Fitted the powersupply, and because I was pleased with myself over the motherboard/radiator fiasco, completely forgot to take pictures of it.

SSD was another issue. Screwed it into one of the drive trays and then found I couldn’t plug in the right-angled power cables.



Looks like I’m resorting to velcro (or rather 3M Picture hanging tape). These strips are very useful:



RAM added, all 32GB of it and powered on…. It glows!




Front Base fitted and covers on. Had to remove the front door from the case as it wouldn’t close with the knob on the Front Base.




Front Base while idle:


So how does it perform?

Ran Prime95 to stress the CPU…  Hello heat.




Passmark score – not bad. In a few weeks with a decent graphics card, scores will be great.

PassMark Rating



Amazon Prime isn’t all that fast

Written By: pgregg - Sep• 10•2014

I’ve decided to build myself a new computer. I haven’t done this in about 10 years, so there was a fair amount of reading and research to understand all the latest components, processors, chipsets, and compatible RAM.

Because this is likely going to have to last me a while, I wanted to go big. Very big. More on that in the next article as I intend on documenting the build.

I also wanted to buy all of the components from Amazon due to Amazon’s excellent customer service should anything go wrong.

On Friday 5th May 2014, I started ordering. Amazon offered me a free trial of Amazon Prime during checkout.
Excellent, I’ll get everything faster. Well that’s the theory anyway.

It is now Wednesday 10th September (evening) and I have 4 of the 6 items delivered. Everything was in stock when I placed the order. Why aren’t they here yet?

The CPU (Devil’s Canyon i7-4790K) was ordered from Ebuyer because Amazon had no stock and was saying 2-4 weeks, so I sucked up Ebuyer’s £8 delivery charge to Northern Ireland. It arrived the next day. Well done Ebuyer.

Amazon Prime, however, I don’t think will be having the trial converted to a purchase. phishing spam email that isn’t.

Written By: pgregg - Jun• 25•2014

Registered a new domain name this evening and very quickly received what looked very much like a phishing email from

The email itself:

> From: PGregg []

> Sent: 24 June 2014 23:26

> To:

> Subject: VERIFICATION REQUIRED – Please verify your domain name(s) as soon as possible



Please read this important e-mail carefully.

Recently you registered, transferred or modified the contact information for one or more of your domain name(s). As of January 1, 2014, ICANN requires all accredited registrars to verify your new contact information.

You can read about ICANN’s new policy at:

In order to ensure your domain name remain active, you must now click the following link and follow the instructions provided:

Failure to follow the above link and complete this process will eventually lead to the suspension of your domain name(s).

If you have any questions, please contact us.



Turns out this is actually legitimate.  Posting this in case others wonder the same and google happens to direct them to this page.



Guardian @commentisfree columnist @MissEllieMae talks drivel about Lord McAlpine

Written By: pgregg - Nov• 16•2012

I came across Ellie Mae O’Hagan on twitter today, who claims in her twitter biog to be a “Socialist, feminist, columnist”.

Her twitter ID is @MissEllieMae, and she wrote this:



Feel free to go read, then come back here. I’m going to break it down and comment.

I want to expand on the tweets I put out this morning regarding Lord McAlpine’s decision to sue for damages after being falsely accused of abusing children.

Fair enough.

Twitter is the sort of place where even the most obvious of sentiments must be spelled out, so let me emphasise that I recognise Lord McAlpine has been the victim of false accusations, that he has suffered immensely and unjustly, and I extend my sympathy to him.

I would like to respond firstly to the respondents who accused me of creating a ‘hierarchy of suffering’ in saying what I said. I want to be absolutely clear here: being abused as a child IS worse than being falsely accused of paedophilia. There is no doubt about that – especially as abuse survivors who speak out often become the victims of false accusations as well (they are called fantasists, liars, sluts etc). I invite anyone who wants to contradict me to ask themselves which form of suffering they would prefer.

How is this relevant? Are you trying to say it is ok to be called a paedophile because it isn’t as bad as being abused? Reading this paragraph – you are certainly establishing a hierarchy of suffering.

In any case, I was not trying to create a hierarchy of suffering. I was attempting to redress the hierarchy of suffering which ALREADY EXISTS thanks to the rape culture and privilege which exists in our society. These forces allowed the abuse of Stephen Messham to happen. These forces enabled the abuse to be covered up. These forces allowed the Mail to print a hatchet job of an abuse victim. And now they are responsible for the entire story focussing upon Lord McAlpine, instead of the pursuit of justice for survivors of abuse. That is not an accident. That is evidence of rape culture and privilege.

Consider your hierarchy of suffering created.

It is worrying that so many people are behaving as though it is just coincidence that McAlpine been the focus of the story for weeks, overshadowing the man who survived the actual abuse. It is worrying that so few (especially so few journalists) have acknowledged that this skewed focus is the result of OPPRESSIVE SOCIAL STRUCTURES which destroy the lives of many, and not just the way a news story happened to roll out.

Again irrelevant.

Now I want to turn to McAlpine’s decision to sue for damages. This is his right as someone falsely accused, and I acknowledge that. But just because someone is entitled to do something, that doesn’t make it the best course of action. Let’s look at the context here: McAlpine has just received £185k from the BBC the day before its annual drive to raise money for vulnerable children. And for what? It is now accepted that he was falsely accused. Some have said ‘mud sticks,’ but I fail to see how £185k will make anyone desperate to believe the false allegations think ‘oh well now he’s got MONEY, I don’t believe it anymore.’

And yet, the twitterverse is now criticising McAlpine for not suing Scallywag for similar allegations in the 1990s. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Further, Scallywag was being sued by John Major, and promptly went bankrupt – so there was noone for McAlpine to sue.

As an already very wealthy individual, this money will not ease McAlpine’s suffering in the way that – say – Chris Jeffries’ compensation might. Given the issues of rape culture and privilege in these events (see above), I think it is the wrong decision for him to keep that money, despite him being entitled to do so.

That is entirely your opinion. You are entitled to it. But just as you think it is wrong of McAlpine to keep it (note, he hasn’t said if he is keeping it or donating it anyway), I am perfectly entitled to think you are wrong for your posturing, indeed bullying, in an attempted to coerce him into donating the settlement to abuse victims.

In addition, McAlpine’s solicitor has also said he is in possession of a ‘very long list’ of people who smeared his client. I can’t imagine all of these people are able to afford a legal case, and I suspect legal proceedings might mean financial ruin for some of them. How does that help Lord McAlpine? Will that be confirmation of his innocence? I don’t think it will make any difference to his reputation, but it will make a lot of difference to the lives of these people. Is it really proportionate? Again, Lord McAlpine is entitled to pursue this if he so wishes, but I don’t think that makes it right.

This is irrelevant to the dealings of the monies from settlement with the BBC. However, why not? He was libelled. He has a lawful right to seek redress in the courts.  Twitter is not extralegal. Therefore what is the problem?

At this point I also want to point out that abuse survivors who sue are often accused of being in it for the money, and are told it should be about ‘justice.’ But when the accused sue, it is considered fair. A rape survivor contacted me this morning to tell me that when she claimed her compensation, she was smeared in a national newspaper as being a ‘slut.’ That’s another example of rape culture and privilege.

That is terrible – but it seems you are invoking the hierarchy of suffering to say McAlpine has no reason for complaint.

Finally, many have said it is not Lord McAlpine’s responsibility to stand up for Stephen Messham or survivors of child abuse, as he has not chosen to be a part of this story. Given sexual abuse is the product of rape culture and privilege (see above) which is a socially ingrained thing, we ALL have a responsibility when it comes to this. It is doubly incumbent upon Lord McAlpine to do this given how the story has refocused on him thanks to rape culture and privilege (see above). He may not have intended that, but it HAS happened. I would like to see him use this opportunity to call for justice. That could only improve his reputation.

Seriously? It was Stephen Messham who misidentified Lord McAlpine. Why on earth would he want to stand up for him? The story has not refocused. If it McAlpine’s fault that the media (and you) are mentally incapable of separating two stories and running with both?

So, given Lord McAlpine’s solicitor says he is monitoring Twitter, I have this message for him: please ask your client to consider using his influence to speak out for survivors and to donate his compensation to helping them. He is under no obligation to do so, but it would be right and decent under the circumstances, and it would help refocus this story onto the pursuit of justice for survivors.

It might be the decent thing to do. But it is your opinion that it is the right thing to do. What he does with the settlement is entirely up to him and not for you or others to persuade him what to do with it.  Trying to sway public opinion with emotive rubbish like this is an abuse of position for any columnist. Further, it is only a settlement of this magnitude that will cause media owners to think twice before falsely accusing an individual of a crime.

Consider this. If McAlpine had been accused of being a thief, or a murderer and it turned out to be a false allegation. Would people be calling for him to donate any settlement to victims of theft or families of murder victimes? No? Why not?  I stand by by original twitter comment:


She will probably never read this because she declared me a troll and blocked me for having the audacity to disagree with her opinions.

My final comment is that those who dug themselves into the holes they are in regarding McAlpine should perhaps stop digging.

Comment: Upgrade cycle madness

Written By: pgregg - Aug• 28•2012

It is getting near that time of year when the world goes mad for the next revision of the iPhone.

That annual elation when the faithful can upgrade their awesome^H^H^H^H^H^H^H, sorry, now old and crappy iPhone 4S for the shiny new OMGOMGOMGOMG!!!  NEW iPhone 5. And your life is complete.

On the other hand, there are those (I approximate, half the Apple citizens) who are mid-way through their 24 or 18 month contracts and are torn between needing that shiny new phone and buying out their contracts to get it, or having to suck it up and wait.

A few years ago, I would have agreed that the devices were getting exponentially better and there was a clear benefit to having the latest mobile device but I believe that is no longer true. The power of the devices are reaching a point where they can do almost anything you would want them to. Quad core CPUs – in your *phone*. I think the next huge leap will be in battery life, but, I digress.

Much like PC upgrade cycles. Businesses used to religiously replace their computers every 3 years. There was always a clear benefit to this and we all loved getting new computers because they were so much faster than the one before.

But that stopped being true* about 3 years ago (*unless you are a gamer). Word processing isn’t any faster, email isn’t faster, the Web isn’t faster. Generally speaking – the computer you bought 5 years ago is still pretty damn good.

Companies are realising this also and 3 year replacement cycles became 4 year replacement cycles mostly due to budget cuts. Then 4 years became 5 years as they noticed “hey, this still works great”.  I believe the new standard PC replacement cycle will be 5 years.  I think this was already true in the average home. As an aside, this business change is what is hurting the likes of Dell and HP right now.

So, back to our shiny mobile phones. Can this continue? I don’t believe so. There will come a time – and I think for Apple it will be 2013 – when the iPhone owners realise that their phone is still bloody awesome and the iPhone 6 isn’t such a great incremental step as before, and that maybe, just maybe, they don’t need this to complete their lives.

By 2015, I believe, I hope, that we will be happy with our devices and we won’t need to keep paying the annual upgrade tax just to have the latest shiny. The shiny in our pocket will be awesome, and it will remain so for a couple of years. We should be happy with our devices for at least 2 years – maybe 3.

We had a dotcom bubble. It burst in 2001. We had a financial bubble. It burst in 2008. We are in the middle of a mobile bubble. I believe it will burst in 2015.

None of the mobile device makers want this to happen. I’m not sure the phone companies would like it either – they still want to extract their £35 or $50 per month out of you for the next 24 months.  But you, the consumer, the guy with the cash in his pocket, should care. You are paying £800 or $1200 every two years for that shiny slab of metal in your pocket. You probably wouldn’t spend that on your primary computer that could last 5 years.

Disclaimer, I use a 2.5 year old HTC Desire that is just begging to be upgraded – but I’m holding off as best I can to see what happens post iPhone 5 in the market. I aim to choose a phone that will last me 3 years.  And if there can be any encouragement, it is this. I’m only paying £10 ($16) per month for all my minutes, texts and unlimited data plan.

On Software and Game Copyright and Second Hand sales.

Written By: pgregg - Aug• 07•2012


This morning I got into a little twitter spat with a local game developer Matt Johnston. Basically he is arguing against companies like GameStop because they do not provide any revenue back to the original developers of the game. As he is a game developer, he is very obviously on the side of the games companies.

Matt made a blog article and very nicely quoted me in the article – one of the tweets during the to-and-fro conversation. Well as much as 140 characters allows.

Matt makes several points, one of which is that if we allow* a second hand market, then DRM will happen; and we don’t want DRM, so we shouldn’t have a second hand market.

(* note that it is not the right of the games companies to allow or ban it in the first place).

DRM is a red herring and not at the heart of the issue. DRM may be the games companies answer to the problem it perceives – but at the end of the day, DRM only hurts those people who actually pay for the game.

I could go onto many underground sites and find the latest games “for free”. Who wins there?

I don’t as I do believe the game should be paid for. I have a large collection of both Wii originals, and a large Steam archive.

Having said that, morally, I have a real objection to the games companies thinking they can ride roughshod over consumer rights and long established principles and doctrine of first sale.

The second hand market is both legal in the physical works *and* in the digital world. And thankfully we now have case law to back this up.

Last month, in the EU, Oracle lost a case (Oracle vs UsedSoft) trying to prevent resale of licenses to its software.

The court wrote:
“A rightholder who has marketed a copy in the territory of a Member State of the EU thus loses the right to rely on his monopoly of exploitation in order to oppose the resale of that copy.”

Further, Oracle, and Matt here, opposes further distribution based on licensing terms. The court also rejected this view, thus:
‘The principle of exhaustion of the distribution right applies not only where the copyright holder markets copies of his software on a material medium (CD-ROM or DVD) but also where he distributes them by means of downloads from his website. Where the copyright holder makes available to his customer a copy – tangible or intangible – and at the same time concludes, in return form payment of a fee, a licence agreement granting the customer the right to use that copy for an unlimited period, that rightholder sells the copy to the customer and thus exhausts his exclusive distribution right. Such a transaction involves a transfer of the right of ownership of the copy.
‘Therefore, even if the licence agreement prohibits a further transfer, the rightholder can no longer oppose the resale of that copy.’

In summary, as a gaming company, you would love to make income on the second hand sales of your games, who wouldn’t.  However, morally it is wrong.

Would you like the government to charge VAT on second hand goods? No? – they already got their cut, as have you in your first sale.

Thankfully, the law agrees with me.