Archive for the ‘Blogging’ category

Chrome to Phone

September 8th, 2010

With the latest version of the Google Android mobile operating system comes privileged access to new features available within. Froyo, or version 2.2, is the anticipated update for all android handsets that brings a wealth of new features and updates to your phone. One such privilege is access to the Android Cloud to Device Messaging (C2DM) service which promises to bring increased functionality to the applications on your phone.

Chrome to Phone is an application that utilises this service to allow you to instantly send links from your Chrome web browser on your desktop or laptop computer to your phone. There are two parts to using it; a Chrome browser extension (available here) and a mobile application available for the Android Market.

It places a button in the browser window and whenever you want to send a link to your phone, just click the button and it is sent. Instantly, in my experience. It’s a very handy feature to have. If you have to go out you can send a link to the website you were reading which is handy to say the least.

Not only is the extension itself exciting but the technology behind it should also give you goosebumps. I’d like to see it implemented into the Facebook application, which compared to its iPhone cousin is rather lackluster.

Desire the HTC Desire, 300 minutes, unlimited texts and 500mb data for £12.50 p/month?

September 4th, 2010

Over the years I have found that shopping around for the best deal is the best way to go, although not always the easiest. When it comes to the HTC Desire, it seems this mystical phone has become the stuff of legends lately; I’ve not been able to get it from any of the major carriers at the price I want with the minutes and texts I needed. A wise and knowledgeable friend pointed me to a deal on mobiles.co.uk (this goes through quidco, where you could get up to £60 cashback) (#) which is a well known and established web-only retailer, now part of the Carphone Warehouse.

The Deal

The deal can be broken down as this:

  • Free HTC Desire unlocked handset
  • Orange 24 month contract
  • £12.50 p/m after redemption (details here; £25 p/m without)
  • 300 any network minutes
  • Unlimited texts
  • 500MB data allowance

Which, in my book, is pretty good; especially with an unlocked phone. It seems to me that they receive stock on a weekly basis, though not on consistent days. The HTC Desire is currently out of stock, but they are supposed to receive more stock by the middle of the next week. I ordered mine when it was out of stock at the beginning of the week and it was despatched today after they received stock last Thursday. Go and grab your Desire! (#)

There are other deals on there that you might want to look at but I wanted to stay with Orange, which may screw me over at a later date.

Student Advice: Finding Summer Employment

August 27th, 2010

While this article may have come a few months too late for both most students and myself, it is still hoped that the advice shared here can be used to help those wanting to earn some extra cash over the summer holiday months after those dreaded college or university exams.

Whether you are wanting to work where you attend university or college or whether you’re travelling home for the summer, the ways to go about getting a job are pretty much identical. The first thing to do is prepare all the things you will need to apply for a job. This means creating your CV. There are plenty of good websites out there that will guide you along the process of creating a good, relevant CV. If you have an academic tutor at your disposal, they are an invaluable source of help for making a subject specific CV.

A couple of weeks before you will be available to start work, it’s a good idea to identify and apply via the post, internet and in person if possible to the places you’re hoping to work it. With these applications the most important pieces of information to include, especially for retail related jobs, are the dates you are available for work, what hours you can work and why you want to work there; all of which can be attached to your CV on a cover sheet.

It’s a real shame but you’ll have to get used to the idea that hearing nothing back usually means no. Most shops and companies will not even let you know if you fail in your attempt to get a job with them. While in my opinion it’s quite disrespectful, it’s common practise and so the only solution is to try until you get an answer. Be persistent.

Within the couple weeks before you go home, or wish to start work, it’s an extremely good idea to sign up to some employment agencies in the area. They can do half the work for you and find you temporary work for over the summer. While this is attractive and I myself have gotten summer work through an agency the past two years, it doesn’t guarantee you work over the entire duration of the summer, if at all, and you can become unemployed at a whim. It also invites the possibility of doing many different things and working long shifts you may not be used to. Experience has taught myself, and people I know, that persistence with agencies is only a good thing and can make the different between getting work and not.

These tips are here are just a guide and are things that have worked for myself and the people I know. Earning extra money during the summer vacation can make the difference to some people between scrimping and saving for a year and enjoying your student life as you should. One thing to remember it to check your payslips if you are in full time education. As a student you do not have to pay income tax on your earnings out of term time. If you are being charged income tax, you need to contact the tax office and request a new tax code, or get them to send you a rebate. Good luck.

Student Advice: Managing Your Money

August 14th, 2010

Reluctantly sliding on into my third year of my university course this September, I thought it wise to share some of my experiences with managing money as a student who has been living in halls for one year and privately rented accommodation for the other. Some of us are lucky in that our parents moonlight as an infinite supply of money, but for those who don’t have that luxury we have to manage our money like responsible adults. Bummer, I know.

Not managing our money properly can lead to terrible decisions that have to be made; Do you buy the food for the week or the cheap beer that’s only on offer today? Do you pay your rent or go out every night in a week? As you’re a student, and because you’re reading this article, you’ve obviously gone weeks without eating and been behind on your rent. On a serious note, this can not only effect your health, well being and state of mind, but also result in you becoming homeless or having legal action taken against you. Not what you want at any point during your university life.

In my experience, living in halls on your campus or private halls elsewhere is the easy option. Payments are, usually, in tune with student loan payments and bills and utility payments are usually included in the price. Your first year is usually one crazy year and one you’ll want to cram lots into. For this you need money. Halls is definitely the way to go here.

A few simple things you can do though, to make the most of your first year and prepare for the second. Firstly, if you do receive a student loan and maintenance grants, put them into a high interest savings account. This will hopefully provide you with a few extra quid through interest. Most student accounts require you to use that current account as your main account, and they do check. So have the funds sent to that account and then transfer them to your high interest savings account. Secondly, set aside a certain amount that you will transfer from your current account to a savings account. This is the easy part, but leaving that fund alone will be the hard part. Usually, opening an e-ISA or other savings account is usually free, requiring an initial £1 deposit but this may vary. Basically, it’s easy so there’s no excuse.

When it comes to your second year at university, you’re probably going to move into privately rented accommodation with your mates. That was my decision, anyway. When you do, do your research. What is the normal weekly cost in your area? What length are the tenancies? Will you get a summer concession during the summer months when you’re probably not even going to be living in the house? There are a few things to consider that your SU can probably help you with. Moving into a house, or flat, is a more complicated experience. Firstly, try and go through websites such as Unipol which will hopefully keep the nasty, evil landlords from your computer screen. See the properties. Ask them about the things listed above. And most of all, ask how you’ll be paying. Some like to be paid monthly, or in instalments. Work out when the money will leave your account, and when any money will be entering it from loans or jobs etc. You don’t want to fall behind on payments; although many landlords are quite forgiving, some are not and missing a single payment, even by a day, can be a breach of contract which can lead to eviction.

A top tip for living privately is to plan how much you have to spend over each period between rent payments. Don’t spend more than you have. It’s not worth the hassle.

Other things you can do to help include getting the best phone contract you can, so downgrading to a cheaper tariff, only turning the heating on in your house for a few hours a day. Those sorts of things go a long way. Not getting Sky, Virgin Media or BT, but sticking to Freeview or better yet, just using your laptops/computers to watch your favourite programs. Looking for the best internet deal for your property and not just sticking to the provider that the previous tenants had. And, don’t use your overdraft if you don’t have to.

So, what have we learnt?

Well, if you’re a student you probably didn’t read all of that. So, here are Sunny Man’s top student finance tips to help you have a money trouble free year at university:

  • Transfer your loans/grants into a high interest savings account.
  • Put aside £5/£10 a week into a savings account over the year.
  • Know when and what you have to pay and to who.
  • Try not to use your overdraft, however good it looks.
  • Have fun, it’ll be the best years of your life so far…