Anywhere Sim on ALL 3 networks at once inc. o2, Vodafone and EE

Anywhere Sim Logo

Anywhere Sim Logo

Some years ago when  virtual networks appeared they piggy backed on the more established networks. The original I believe were Virgin Mobile which operated on One2One (None2One, the odds of getting a signal :P) then T-Mobile now part of EE, and Genie operated on BT Cellnet (now O2).

Anywhere Sim (Available from Argos) is a new kid in town who wants to end poor signal issues in the UK. The SIM Cards break new ground because they automatically check all 3 UK Networks (O2, Vodafone and EE) to see which has the strongest signal, then it will route your calls, text and data via that network. There currently isn’t support for 4g but 3g is available, they do claim LTE/4g is coming in the future.

Support for the Three Network is due on the 10th August 2016, and monthly plans soon after. I suspect with Three on-board that the high speed data will come soon after.

Its interesting that this appears to be possible due to EU Roaming agreements. Basically behind this is Manx Telecom who are based on the Isle of Man, but it has a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) agreement with o2 which is a UK operator. This means they give you an o2 phone number, but you are a Manx TC customer. As a MT customer you are effectively “roaming” in the UK, so much like roaming in Europe you can move from network to network.

Anywhere Telecom is strictly pay-as-you-go for now, but much like other networks it has various plans, well 3 plans at least. These are Home, UK and EU, each has slightly different prices, surprisingly these prices aren’t too different.

Price Plans

Home Plan – You are essentially and o2 customer, which is the “home network”, the twist is, you can still receive calls and texts through the other 2 networks but not make calls. Calls are 5p per minute, Texts are 5p per text, and data is 5p per megabyte.

UK Plan – You get to use all 3 networks to make and receive calls, text and use data across them anywhere in the UK. Calls are charged at 10p, texts at 5p and data at 10p per megabyte.

EU Plan – You get to roam all over Europe, connect to any network with a roaming agreement with o2 or Manx Telecom. The price of this, is calls in the EU are charged at 12p per minute.

It looks like this could be a killer deal if you live in a bad coverage area, and I can see this becoming all dominating network since coverage will be astounding. It just needs to get the monthly deals, cheap mobile phones, and the high speed data sorted.

It were the EU “interfering” with mobile roaming charges, which has made this possible, its an exciting time to be a mobile phone user.

Virtual Operators in the UK

On a side note, some other Mobile Virtual Network Operators are…

Asda Mobile uses EE
BT Mobile uses EE
Freedom Pop uses Three Mobile
iD Mobile uses Three Mobile
Giff Gaff uses o2 Telecom
Lebara uses Vodafone
LycaMobike uses o2 Telecom
TalkTalk uses Vodafone
Tesco uses o2 Telecom
Virgin uses EE

There are about 60+ such MVNO’s in the UK alone.

Extracting a Zip file with PHP

I recently had to make a quick script to extract the contents of a zip file, this zip file is copied via ftp from a remote server and stored locally. The file name to request and transfer is set via URL Encoding. This were originally a function, which I converted into a class and now devolved totally for this small script.

Sometimes quick and dirty tasks, require quick and dirty code, using the class would have been overkill. As usual there are a dozen ways to do this, and you could remove the error checks and echo’s to make the code even more compact.

Its a little messy, but were procedural code, converted into a function, then part of a class and back to a procedural layout.

MyFitnessPal Maybe Listens

A while ago I posted a few shortfalls of myfitnesspal, and I also wrote to MyFitnessPal with the issues. The main issues were, the way it tracked water. Where you had to physically go to the drop down menu every day and choose “add water” then scroll down to actually add water.

MyFitnessPal Water

MyFitnessPal Water

To make the water show you had to bring up the menu to the right with “Add Water”, “Add Note” etc, which would make the water counter and the “+ Add Water” appear.

The other issue I pointed out were the tracking of Sodium and Salt. The app fails to differentiate between Sodium and Salt. It may also be that the people entering the data didn’t calculate the difference. This means a packet of Biltong which has 2g of Salt is assumed to be 2,000mg of Sodium, where it is actually 800mg Sodium. This means you are always going over your suggested Sodium limit, when in reality you simply aren’t.

You can mitigate this by altering your goal to a maximum 5,500mg, on assumption its ALL salt, which is about 2,300mg sodium. I have set mine to 4,000mg which allows most of the sodium to be incorrectly assumed as salt and some to the correctly identified as sodium. If you are aiming for low sodium, I would probably leave it at the default 2,300mg and accept it as being sodium.

I however noticed about a week to 10 days ago, the “+ Add Water” and Tracker has been permanently enabled making it easier to add and track water… sadly the salt/sodium issue still exists.

There is however some hope, and I’ll message them again in a month or so.

As a side note, if you want to convert Salt -> Sodium or Sodium -> Salt, an easy method is Sodium -> Salt just Divide by 2.5 or Salt -> Sodium multiply by 2.5.

Here is a quick chart with some useful conversions and information on it.

Salt Sodium Equivelent Advice
1g 400mg A pinch of salt.
1.25g 500mg Quarter of a Teaspoon. Heart, Lung & Blood Ass. Min. Amount.
1.5g 600mg A big pinch of salt.
2g 800mg Low Sodium Diet Suggestion.
3g 1,200mg Half Teaspoon.. Diabetic Max. Suggestion.
4.25g 1,800mg 1/4 Tablespoon.
5g 2,000mg Recommended Target Zone.
6g 2,400mg 1 Teaspoon. Max Recommended Amount.
8.5g 3,600mg 1/2 Tablespoon. UK Average Comsumption.
9g 3,800mg US Average Comsumption
12g 4,800mg 2 Teaspoons.
17g 6,800mg 1 Tablespoon.

Its common sense but still worth mentioning, when a recipe calls for a “Teaspoon” of salt, if it makes 6 portions, you need to think each one will contain only 1g salt / 400mg sodium not 6g.

Its also worth mentioning when you have sweated a lot, like after a good hours work out, you may need a little sodium on those days, but you should research the appropriate amounts yourself.

I’m going to message MFP again and push the Sodium issue. I suspect its going to be a huge task, since their whole database will need differentiating. I have been there before, the longer you leave it, the bigger and the harder the task becomes.

** 3,200 kcal is an increase for heavy training days not my general count.

.UK Family Whois Splitter

I were looking for a snippet of code for someone when I came across an old tool. This isn’t a parser or a tool like phois or similar, its just a usable snippet of code to do a job. Really I should update it, and maybe use a function to handle the job, but it works just fine for its use.

The job in this instance were to monitor my domains for changes in status, in a few situations.

1, When a domain were sold, I monitored the tag and registrant name (now I’m using the DAC I only monitor the tag for .uk).
2, When using another registrar/registry I monitored expiry to avoid losing domains due to non-renewal or errors.

In order to do this, I needed code to (1), connect to a whois server (this is easy),  (2), split the required bits of info from the result (not so easy) and (3), place it in a database (easy). Then work on the data from there, (4), load the “watched”, “sold” or “close to expiry” domains, (5), scan the whois and compare, then (6), act on the result.

90% of the various registries whois outputs, out there are fairly uniform, but much like Nominets EPP, their whois is non-standard, so I needed a custom splitter. I’m not sure I would do it the same if I wrote the code now… some years later.

I have updated the code a little to include a ROFR (Right of First Refusal) detection, this won’t be needed come june (2019) when the period expires.

This will produce an array called $def, which when calling a valid name would look like…

or if the the .UK has right of first registration intact…

Working from this array, you can you can put these into a database, compare them to the database return and act on it from there. I suggest sending yourself an email or text message (api’s are easy to follow).

Time Flies

Lately there never seems to be enough hours in the day, it seem the busier I get the faster time seems to pass and the less it seems I get done overall.

It reminds me of my mum and other old folks telling me that time flies by, enjoy it while your young because it goes so quickly or various versions of the same tale.

A while ago I read an article on the perception of time speeding up as you get older. Science it seems says it true and there are a few fairly interesting theories as to why it happens, or at least we perceive it to have speeded up at least. Over the years Scientific American, The Daily Mail, The Independent, and many more have posted articles based on fairly solid research. There are 3 which I think are quite interesting and I can sort of see.

Out of Storage Space

This theory is that we have a certain amount of “storage memory”. While we are young we have apparent boundless space so we member everything and savour the details, the more we store. One suggestion were that as a child we pay more attention to the frivolous, meaning more detail is recorded so the slower it seems to pass. As the memory gets fuller (or we get more organised) we record less and less details, so time appears to pass faster.

This theory also explains what happens when the memory bank gets critically full, it randomly fills in gaps which much like a computer hard drives’ fragmentation causes our memory to slow down.  Eventually the brain is forced to ‘erase’ old and less useful memories, which can lead to corruptions in said memory with repeated erases, rewrites and extreme fragmentation.

Time Pressure

Time pressure is one we can all appreciate. Studies in Munich by Marc Wittman and Sandra Lehnhoff of Ludwig-Maximilian University (Munich) showed “time pressure” experienced by essentially working age people (20-59) which is the feeling we have too much to do and don’t have time to get it all done.

This is essentially simple over-estimation of out capabilities or under-estimation of time required which creates a time pressure or speeding of time.

Mundane Exclusions

This is one of my favourite theories. This theory says that when things are new or unusual we pay more attention thus slowing down time. As things get boring we stop paying attention and don’t create new memories, so we “jump” them. This creates the illusion that real time is speeding on by.

The older you get, the fewer things / experiences are new to you, the more things / experiences become mundane and the faster your accelerate through time.

Personally I can relate to all of them but I think its time pressure for me compounded by my memory getting fragmented.

Synology Root Access Denied or Wrong Password

I’m a huge fan of Synology NAS units, not so much of the camera licenses but thats a minor niggle and for another time. I recently found my root password appeared to have been change but I didn’t remember changing it. I rarely login to the root account so it could have been altered a while ago.

RED ALERT!

Synology Root Password Change

Synology Root Password Change

Instantly I assumed I had been compromised, so I logged in as Admin via SSH using PuTTy and changed the root password. Next logged in to DSM (The Synology OS) as Admin user, checked the firewall, and went to Auto Block finding a few IP addresses on the list, but the last one dated back months. Entirely possible it had been that long since I logged in last as root. I checked for other “users” and various other security checks and all seemed ok.

Once the Red Alert has subsided and back to Amber Alert I started to look around on the net and found many comments to the effect “my root password has changed” and “my root account is blocked” and with some further digging found references to the last major DSM Update which were DSM 6.0.

DSM 6.0 Root Password Change

It seems something DSM 6.0 did, caused a reasonable amount of Synology owners root passwords to either change, become corrupt or expire. The solution were to simply change the root password to a new one or back to the old one (I would NEVER recommend the latter). I had inadvertently already done this with my first reaction, so had already fixed it on that particular server.

It dawned on that lots of users wouldn’t find this nugget of information or know how to do this since the reason you buy Synology is so you don’t have to get knee deep in linux but have all the power, so figured I’d blog it.

Exactly what you type into the prompt is in bold, and hit enter after each command.

  1. Using PuTTy enter your Servers IP (probably 192.168.0.2 or enter your servers hostname).
  2. Enter username as admin.
    (if you have changed your admin users name, change it here)
  3. Enter your admin password (same as used to access DSM).
  4. Enter the command sudo su.
    (this upgrades you to SuperUser)
  5. Enter admin password again when prompted.
  6. Enter the command synouser –setpw root ‘newpassword’.
    (use the single quotes around password)
  7. Enter exit, this returns you to normal user.
  8. Enter exit, this closes PuTTy.

You can now login as root user once again. I highly recommend using 2 different passwords for Admin and Root users.

Auto Block

Synology has a feature called “Auto Block” which automatically blocks IP addresses when they get the password wrong a number of times. You can find this under the Security Tab in the DSM. You may find your local network IP (192.168.0.*) or wherever you tried to access root from has been blocked, so its as well to check here and remove your IP remembering to save your changes.

Otherwise you find your connection by PuTTy being refused or randomly disconnected as happened on one of my units.