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Why Hotel WiFi should be free

Free Wi-Fi I spend a lot of time travelling for business and spending time in hotels. One of my pet peeves about staying in hotels – especially the more expensive, brand-name hotels – is that there is no free hotel WiFi provided. In fact, not only is the WiFi not free, but it’s insanely expensive – £6 for an hours access or a “deal” of £20 for 24 hours access is not unusual.

£20 for a days worth of Internet access. Are you kidding me? Most of us pay less than that for our unlimited Broadband Internet at home!

The frustration of expensive Hotel WiFi

UK hotels are the worst for this, although US and European hotels aren’t above charging for WiFi either. There is nothing more frustrating than checking into your hotel room after a long trip, ideas of work on your mind and then firing up your laptop to see that if you want to do any work – you need to pay for the privilege. Also, I’m sure I’m not alone in noticing expensive WiFi access seems to come hand-in-hand with a poor mobile ‘phone signal, meaning you can’t even tether your Smartphone to your laptop or tablet to avoid the charges.

Walk 5 minutes out of the hotel in any direction and you’ll find a Starbucks, McDonalds or a local Coffee Shop that’s offering WiFi for free with a cup of Latte costing next to nothing. Why though, should you be forced to leave your hotel room to get any work done?

WiFi has never been more crucial to hotel guests

Due to the rise in popularity of Smartphones and tablets, reliable, free WiFi has never been more crucial to hotel guests as they want to connect to the Internet from anywhere. The GB Hotel Guest Survey 2013 report by BDRC Continental has found that hotel guests believe a good WiFi service is just as important as a good night’s sleep.

I understand that hotels need to make money, but in this day and age, charging for WiFi feels akin to charging for the water used from your hotel bathroom taps, or paying extra for your room to be heated. And if budget hotels and B&B’s can offer free WiFi, why can’t more upmarket hotels offer the same?

BT WiFi now available for free at all Thistle Hotels in UK

Thistle Hotels recently announced they are one of the first to break with the pack and offer free BT WiFi in their hotels across the UK. BT was the first supplier of public WiFi over 10 years ago, and the Thistle Hotels service, in partnership with glh., is free, fast and unlimited to all Thistle Hotel guests across the country. What’s more, logging on is a “one-click” service – allowing guests to log on to the Internet instantly, without the hassle of signing up and giving their details.

For me, as a regular traveller, this news means I’m more likely to book into a Thistle Hotel knowing I can access free WiFi above using other hotel chains.

Free Wi-Fi in all UK hotels please!

I genuinely hope this news is a catalyst for a change in how upmarket UK hotels view WiFi. For the vast majority of travellers, free, reliable WiFi is no longer a “nice to have” when visiting a hotel, it’s an expectation.

 

photo credit: FutUndBeidl via photopin cc

Microsoft to kill off Windows Mobile 6.5 Services


Microsoft Windows Mobile LogoI wrote earlier this year about my decision to stick with the Windows Mobile 6.5 platform for the short-term. It serves my purpose, and I’ve no been compelled to upgrade.

Well, the writing is now very much on the wall as Microsoft have started retiring WinMo 6.5 services. Yesterday, I received this letter from Microsoft:-

“Shut-down of Windows Marketplace for Mobile Web Site and My Phone Service Notification

June 8, 2011

Dear Windows Mobile 6.x customer:

Microsoft will be discontinuing the My Phone service for Windows Mobile 6.x. We will also be discontinuing the Windows Marketplace for Mobile web site. Because you may be affected, please review the details below:

Windows Marketplace for Mobile Web Site To Be Discontinued

The Windows Marketplace for Mobile web site at http://marketplace.windowsphone.com will no longer be available starting on July 15, 2011. After July 15, 2011, you will no longer be able to browse, buy or download applications for Windows Mobile 6.x phones via the Windows Marketplace for Mobile web site.

The Windows Marketplace for Mobile service will continue to be available on your phone, however. You will continue to be able to browse, buy and download applications for Windows Mobile 6.x on your phone.

My Phone To Be Discontinued

On August 7, 2011, the My Phone service will stop saving content from phones to the My Phone service. If you rely on the My Phone service to back-up the content on your Windows Mobile 6.x phone, you will be affected.

Starting on August 7, 2011, Microsoft will begin moving your My Phone content to Windows Live SkyDrive. SkyDrive is Microsoft’s free online storage service that helps you access and share your files such as photos and Microsoft Office documents. Contacts, calendar entries, text messages and photos will be moved to SkyDrive for you. Once moved, you will be able to access this content by logging into SkyDrive using the Windows Live ID that you used to register for the My Phone service.

Other content types, including videos, music, documents and favorites will not be moved from My Phone to SkyDrive for you. If you want this content, you must save it from the My Phone service to your local PC.

On October 6, 2011, the My Phone web site at http://www.microsoft.com/myphone will no longer be available. On this date, you will no longer be able to log in to the My Phone service to access your content stored to the My Phone service. Microsoft will continue to store your My Phone content for one (1) year. Physical copies of your content can be shipped to you upon request until October 5, 2012.

Take Action

To learn more about the My Phone service shut-down, including information about your content moving to Windows Live SkyDrive and how to save other content to your local PC, please visit this web site:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2557520

Microsoft is committed to making this transition easy. In the meantime, we want to sincerely thank you for your use of Windows Mobile 6.x.
-The Windows Phone Team”

Well – Windows Mobile Marketplace I won’t miss at all. It was woeful, and only had a few hundred apps – you were always better off using Handango or similar sites to find new apps.

Microsoft MyPhone I actively used, but thankfully won’t miss thanks to using the awesome free Lookout Mobile Security – which does the same job, only better.

So if I won’t miss those services, why the irritation?

I guess because in both cases, it’s disappointing that Microsoft have pulled these services when there are plenty of WinMo 6.5 users still actively using them.

My own WinMo 6.5 handset, a HTC HD2, is only just out of contract – and I know many others who have similar handsets and are still under contract to their Mobile Network Operator and so unable to upgrade to newer devices and Operating Systems.

I am, of course, not surprised by this move and indeed I understand that Windows Phone is now very much Microsoft’s focus, but in my opinion this sort of move doesn’t engender loyalty or trust.

I’m also a little bit sad that after so many years using the Windows Mobile platform, that my next ‘phone will more than likely be a non-Microsoft O/S.


Microsoft Security Essentials available FREE to Small Businesses!

Microsoft Security Essentials LogoEarlier this month I wrote about “Best Free Anti-Virus for Home Users?” and rated Microsoft Security Essentials as the number one product.I also included the caveat that “We’re talking products that are free to use for Domestic personal use at home – not for Commercial or Small Business work as usage in a Commercial environment is often strictly prohibited in the License terms.

Well – Microsoft’s Eric Ligman made an announcement that beginning in early October, Microsoft will be allowing Small Businesses with up to 10 users to use Microsoft Security Essentials free of charge!

Eric writes “… we are extremely excited today to let you know that Microsoft is making its Microsoft Security Essentials available to small businesses on up to 10 PCs for FREE, beginning in early October! By providing Microsoft Security Essentials to small businesses free of charge, Microsoft extends its commitment to help these companies save money and grow their business by offering no-cost protection from viruses, spyware and other malicious threats.

As the line between Small Home Office and Small Business continues to blur, I think this a great move from Microsoft, and one to be applauded!

 

AVG Free 8.5 Expires on December 1st 2009

In an attempt to curb the multiple scare stories around AVG withdrawing their popular Free Anti-Virus software that usually emerge around the time of these upgrades, here’s a heads-up that version 8.5 of the popular free AVG Anti-Virus will be expiring on December 1st only to be replaced with a free edition of the latest version, v9.

After December 1st, v8.5 or below of the software will still run, but will not update it’s virus definitions leaving you at risk of infection by new viruses, and you’ll be “nagged” by a pop-up asking you to upgrade to AVG version 9.

Clicking the nag pop-up will take you to a web-page where you’re encouraged to buy the full version of AVG Anti-Virus (which may not be a bad thing, as the full version includes a ton of features the free version does not) – but if you’re happy with the free version, then good news – a free edition of version 9 is also available. Look at the smaller print at the bottom of the page to find a link to upgrade (see screenshot right).

Alternatively, you can visit this link directly to download v9 of AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition.

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition is totally free for non-Commercial use. That means if you’re a small business, you’re breaking the terms of the license agreement by using it – you should contact a reputable AVG reseller for a low-cost upgrade to a Commercial Edition which will protect your business. Trust me when I say it’s worth it!

If you’re a home user and don’t have an Anti-Virus solution in place – then what are you waiting for? Go and download AVG Anti-Virus Free v9.0 straight away!

Wishing a Happy Birthday to GNU

I’m currently in the Airport Lounge at Birmingham International awaiting my flight to New York for this years InterOp Expo in New York. If you’re going to InterOp yourself – get in touch, it’d be great to arrange to meet you whilst I’m there!

Now – although my company is a Microsoft Certified Partner and Small Business Specialist, our goal is to provide our small business clients with the software that best fits their needs – not necessarily Microsoft software, but whomever that software may be made by.

Whilst there are many occasions when Commercially (i.e. Paid for) Licensed software is the best fit, due to superior support, features or functionality – using software packages such as 7Zip (Open Source) instead of WinZIP, Foxit PDF Reader (Freeware) instead of the bloated Adobe Acrobat Reader, CutePDF Writer (mixture of Freeware and Open Source) instead of Adobe Acrobat and even Open Office (Open Source) instead of gasp… Microsoft Office… all examples of free alternatives to commercial software – can all mean the client saving a tidy sum of money without losing any of the functionality they actually need.

However, explaining to the client exactly what Open Source software is and what that type of license means can be a challenge at times – the mentality of “If it’s free, there’s got to be a catch” or “You don’t get a free lunch” can be difficult obstacles to climb.

But if there is one person who the British Public know and trust, it’s Writer, Actor, Comedian and possibly the smartest man on Television, Stephen Fry!

Therefore to celebrate the 25th Birthday of GNU – the most famous free software initiative – Stephen Fry has produced a video explaining what GNU and free software is, and why they are a good thing.

Now if we can just get Tom Hanks to record a quick video explaining Intellectual Property, and Dr. Stephen Hawking to explain Microsoft Licensing (which admittedly is a tougher subject to describe than Quantum Physics will ever be) we’ll be sorted!

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