Contact Richard:   +44 (0)121 663 0223 +44 (0) 7703 355045

Twilight – Change Your Screen Brightness by time of day

Every Friday I try to share one of my favourite finds of the week – a web-site, tool or app that has impressed me.

My Friday Favourite this week is Twilight – an app which allows you to change your screen brightness by time of day.

Change your screen brightness by time of day

Twilight is an App for Android devices that automatically changes your screen brightness over the course of a day, reducing the bright white light as the day progresses.

Electronic devices can disrupt your sleep

Why is this useful? Well, Neurologists will tell you that staring at bright screens late in the evening can disrupt your sleep and so Twilight starts the day with a bright white screen on your device but over the course of the day it filters your screens colour to reduce your exposure to the kind of bright, white light that can keep you awake.


I’ve been using the App for a week or so and found the warmer screen colour that Twilight uses in the evenings much more relaxing than the harsh, bright white light you are used to.

The change in screen “temperature” also seems to send a subconscious message that it’s time to wind time and turn off electronic devices in favour of a good night sleep – which is definitely a good thing if you want to wake the next day with the energy to be productive and effective!

Thanks to James Kimbley of Kimbley IT for the suggestion!

Further Reading

The 3 Best MSP tools from the 2014 CompTIA EMEA Conference – TubbTalk06

CompTIA EMEA Conference 2014Podcast: Right Click and Download | Play in a new window


This years annual CompTIA EMEA Member & Partner Conference took place at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London in November 2014. Bringing together a host of the top IT Solution Providers, Managed Service Providers (MSP’s) and Vendors from the industry all under one roof, the Conference has rapidly become one of the “must attend” events for IT companies.

The 3 Best MSP tools

In this episode of TubbTalk, Richard speaks with 3 of the top MSP Vendors at the 2014 CompTIA EMEA Conference in London. In these interviews, Richard explores how these tools can support IT Managed Service Providers (MSP’s) in helping their clients and making more money!

Mentioned in this episode:-

Connect with me


Richard Tubb:      So I’m here at the CompTIA EMEA Conference with Ben Lange of Rummage. How are you doing Ben?

Ben Lange:          I’m very well, thanks. How are you doing?

Richard:               Good! So tell us a little bit about Rummage.

Ben:                     Rummage is a fast search organization tool. We did some research when we had problems ourselves and that was when it comes to at managing, organizing and finding your data it can be very difficult. And more and more of this day and ages,  technology creeps into our lives and we’re making files, we’re sending files, we’re sharing them and we’re storing in all sorts of different areas.

And a lot of the time when it comes to surfacing information, trying to get them back and just organizing all, it takes a lot of time to do so.

What Rummage does, it gets to know you a little bit, it understands your contacts and sucks them in from LinkedIn, Facebook, Outlook, Gmail and these sort of mediums. And it also analyzes your file and folder structure within your organization. Gets to know your projects and your clients and it automatically generates tags.

We found that if you’re a meticulous organizer, so that’s fine, you can find things but often colleagues are sending them, they’re sharing them, they’re storing them in locations and other people can’t find them when they want to. And they waste time at work when it comes to looking for this information. And so we created a typing engine, it’s an automatic typing engine that it will go through all your files, gets to know what’s important to you and tags everything appropriately.

Richard:               So you mentioned that it brings you files from lots of different locations so for instance myself, I’m a Google Apps user, I use Gmail, I also use Google Drive, as well as Dropbox, and I’ve got a local NAS with files in there. Would Rummage help me to sort it out those type of files?

Ben:                     Absolutely would. What we’ve been developing the past year is the alpha, and that works at the moment, it works on a local machine. But that includes you know, you’ve got Dropbox folders there, you’ve got Google Drive’s folders there, you’ve got your local email, so currently, the free version out now today will do all that and will scan these mediums. What we’re working on now is bringing even more things to the front, to the forefront. Where we will index your cloud services.

Everything, all in one place is what we’re aiming for, so if you do use Dropbox, you do send attachments, you do have things locally, or on shared drive, or in the cloud and don’t waste time looking for it. Rummage has done that hard work for you and just use that.

Richard:               And how much time would you estimate people do waste looking across these various services of files?

Ben:                     That’s a very good question. Actual fact The Wall Street Journal mentioned but recently, it’s a phenomenal statistic. I can’t quite remember but it says a ballpark of couple of hours a week.

Richard:               Couple of hours a week.

Ben:                     Per person. Wasted just looking for data, just trying manage all those emails, manage all those files everywhere. It’s about surfacing information. And in this day and age, where we expect technology to work and we’re busy, I need it now and Rummage provides.

Richard:               Who were you working with to get the products out to end users? You’re working with IT solution providers and managed-service providers. What is an ideal client look like for you?

Ben:                     That’s good question. You know, an ideal client will be anybody in a small medium business who know where money is tight. They don’t have enterprise-level solutions, they don’t have enterprise-level search organization. And at of the moment, we’ve taken a sort of a low risk self- fund approach.

We’ve developed the idea completely in house and we now have the alpha out there. So it’s a fantastic opportunity for us to look for partners and talk to managed service providers and talk to the IT world and say, “Look, we’ve got a fantastic idea”. We produce the alpha, we’ve got downloads, we’ve got users, we’re really kicking off and it’s a great time to connect with us and talk about our product.

Richard:               If anybody listening this, so this can tell where a busy conference, the EMEA Conference has lots going on around us. The conversations that you’ve had with IT solution providers and managed-service providers, what’s their feedback for Rummage?

Ben:                     Feedbacks been quite positive. Being really happy with the conversation I’ve had. It’s not for every MSP, not everybody wants to take a piece of software and then bundle it up with the package that they already produced. But then what I really discovered here talking to managed service providers is that here’s a lot of differences on how they approach their profession.

I really think having some fantastic conversations that it is a tool that MSP’s can get on board with because at the end of the day they’re providing service to their clients and that service is all about productivity, it’s all about efficiency. Rummage is about that. It’s about saving time for the end-user and essentially for the MSP.

We actually might be reducing the number of support tickets they get from clients if their clients aren’t calling them up saying, “I’ve lost this, I don’t know where my data is,” because Rummage helps you visualize all your data.

Richard:               So helping the MSP to lower the cost of customer support?

Ben Lange:          You can say that.

Richard:               Fantastic. So if anybody listening to this wants to find out more about Rummage, how will they get in touch with you Ben, how will they look at Rummage on the web?

Ben Lange:          Absolutely, we’re on the main social platform so I’d say the best place is in our website and that’s And you can contact us directly through the website. Of course, we got Twitter and Facebook as well. So our Twitter handle is @getrummage and Facebook is

Richard:               I like the uniformity!

Ben:                     Thank you very much.

Richard:               Well thanks for your time, Ben. Enjoy the rest of the conference.

Ben:                     No problem at all. Thanks for your time.

Richard:               Cheers.




Richard:               I’m here in CompTIA EMEA Conference with David Clarke of Benemen UK. How are you doing Dave?

David Clarke:       I’m doing good actually Richard thanks so much.

Richard:               Good. So tell us a little bit about Benemen UK and what you do.

David:                  Okay. We started recently in the UK, a Finnish based company. The business started at 2008. It’s cloud-based telephony and it does a few sort of quite clever things. It integrates mobile fixed and unified communications in one platform. What does that mean? It means that all the devices you use for telephony or extensions of the same system.

So whether that be your mobile, your desktop, VOIP phone or if you’re using Microsoft Link on your computer. As I said, it place everything together in one platform, so your mobile truly is an extension of the same network. Your link client is truly an extension of the network and call-center functionality can be delivered right through at that and there some extra things that can happen. You can have call recording on any device.

If you’re in a different country and somebody rings you, you can take your call through your link client rather than on your mobile to avoid roaming charges. But people are still phoning your mobile number or you can be presenting a fixed line number whichever you choose. It’s a lot of flexibility in the system.

Richard:               What type of clients are actually using this system alone? So you got some great samples of somebody who’s benefited in this system.

David:                  We’ve got a number of organizations that had a large sales focus so they got people who work from offices or right from client premises. And for them it’s the flexibility of being able to use this wherever they are. But also there are reporting functionality within the system.

So if you got people like that, it’s important to for them to know, who are their important customers? Who are their important conversations? There’s a lot of reporting built into it in the background. We’ve got other organizations that have small sort of offices in other countries so for them it’s important for everybody to be included in the same network.

Richard:               We’re at the EMEA Conference and there’s a lot of IT solution providers, managed-service providers, so which particular types of IT businesses are you looking to partner with?

David:                  We’re not looking for huge numbers of partners. What we want to find is partners who have a similar view of the world to us, who perhaps are offering innovative services. So on the straight IT service provider’s side, people who are moving their business into managed services. They see telephony as an important aspect for their overall IT support that they’re providing to those people. So people who are supporting installations of 50 to sort of 500 users maybe across multiple sites. That’s on the solution provider’s side.

Then maybe other businesses who have a background of selling PBX systems and are now perhaps moving into cloud-based systems to replace those old PBX’s as they become end of life and unsupported anymore. Or the vendor who made those things has been acquired for the 5th or 6th time by somebody and so their clients are looking for something A to replace what they’ve got but probably to add some functionality to the operation.

And there will be a lot of resellers who are selling link maybe as just a unified solution COM solution that people use in-house and we can actually add telephony to that and then perhaps build an overall service package from that.

Richard:               And what about the barriers of entry for the partners, do you have certain levels that you look for or sales targets that you need to achieve. What does that look like?

David:                  The more important thing, the relationship. I was introduced to CompTIA by Mark from Pensar who I’ve known for some time and people like Mark have very progressive and collaborative view of the market place. And that fits really well with how we see the world. We have a number of partners in our business that we collaborate with and bring them in as the one that is required. And I think is that approach more than anything else that we look for rather than in the early stages, the hard numbers or the targets, so that kind thing.

The relationship is key because if we have a good relationship, then the way people do business is they do business with people like them and so their clients are going to be a reflection of a type of a provider they are and that’s what we’re looking for. That’s the most important thing for us.

Richard:               Makes a lot of sense, absolutely. So in terms of the benefits of the IT companies that you partnered with, what does the opportunity look like in terms of pounds and pence?

David:                  If you look at the moment in Finland and across some other countries, we’re looking at sort of average revenues per user up in some instances about 60 or 70 pounds a user. And it’s going to be earning a good margin in that. So you could be talking on something like that. The potential to be earning a margin of perhaps 20 pound a user out of that. Which if you think of 50, 100, couple 100 users then that can build into something that is pretty substantial part of the business.

And we don’t say to them, “This is what you got to sell this for,” because recognize more of the not, they’re probably going to be including maybe this as part of an overall package. And for us, if it can add value and they can add a premium to that, then so much are better for them.

They could contact me via my email which is The UK website is that or I’m on Twitter @daveclarke.

Richard:               And that’s exactly where we met. It’s on Twitter – Follow Friday! So lovely to meet you at last, Dave. Hope you enjoyed the conference and thank you for your time today.

David:                  Thank you very much, Richard. Cheers.

Richard: Cheers.



Richard:               I’m here at the CompTIA EMEA Conference with Mark Charleton of Distributive Blue Solutions. How are you doing Mark?

Mark:                   Today has been really good actually, it’s a good opportunity to network with vendors, and some nice MSPs so I’ve had some good conversations.

Richard:               Excellent. Just before we got on air, we’re talking about App River. For the listeners on the podcast who have never heard it before. Perhaps you could explain a little bit why it‘s a benefit to MSPs.

Mark:                   So App River is one of our new vendors we have just signed up so there are a cloud provider, offering kind of anti-spam and web security in the cloud. And they’ve also got a good history with host and exchange. Got over eight million mailboxes worldwide, so got good heritage there. And they’re also one of the few syndication partners in the world. Particularly there’s only three with a two-tier distribution agreement, I wish we’ve got.

We now have access to the Office 365 portfolio, an importantly for partners it gives the partner the ability to own their relationship with the customer. It means we bill you, you add your margins to it. You retain the controller over the bill, the relationship and the support.

Richard:               And what so benefits do you see the solutions bringing to an MSP ahead of what is a fairly crowded market?

Mark:                   Office 365 is obviously kind of a Microsoft driven product and you’ve got the alternatives from Google and you got to make your choice for end users what is appropriate. But a lot of the feedback in the channel was that they didn’t like handling over the relationship to Microsoft, they wanted to retain that stickiness that was important to them really.

And on the advisor program, they kind of felt that they lost that closeness with their customer. So this agreement is exactly the same service, it’s exactly the same screws, it’s the same bundles running out the same data center. There’s no degradation of service or anything. It’s just the relationship is yours.

Richard:               So it seems to me, if a no-brainer why would MSP go with Microsoft when they can work with Blue Solutions to deliver this?

Mark:                   There’s always resellers that feel there’s an advantage buying direct from a vendor and maybe you kind of need the experience their kind of support offering and their billing process and decide whether it works for you or not. On the advisor program, there’s many, many different stories of rebates and how much you get and you know when you get them our model gets you up front margin.

One of the great challenges with Microsoft as people are probably aware is they kind of change the rules so things start off  looking really, really good and then they will reduce your margin. Your discount is reduced, your NFR is reduced and they recently just reduced the action pack down from 250 seats with office 365 down to five, you don’t get that restrictions through Blue Solutions.

Richard:               For anybody listening to this who wants to find out more about Blue Solutions as a distributor how will they go about that?

Mark:          or call into the main sales team. I’ve got a product specialist that looks after the app services at Office 365, you can have a 30-day free trial with all those services, you get a call supervision with your customers.



The Xoo Belt – A Phone-Charging Belt

Xoo Belt - A Phone-Charging BeltEvery Friday I try to share one of my favourite finds of the week – a web-site, tool or app that has impressed me.

My Friday Favourite this week is the Xoo belt – a phone-charging belt!

Xoo Belt

The Xoo belt is an IndieGoGo project out of Manchester, UK.

It’s a “smart belt” that charges your phone any time and anywhere, conveniently and in style!

A Phone-Charging Belt

Xoo Belt - A Phone-Charging Belt

Xoo Belt – A Phone-Charging Belt

It looks, feels and weighs about the same as a normal belt, but comes with a 2,100mAh hidden charger than can charge most modern Smartphones in about 3 hours.

It’s also designed with a new breed of Lithium Ceramic Polymer flexible battery so it’s safe, weather-resistant and hardy.

When is it available?

At the time of writing, the Xoo belt IndieGoGo project had just closed, having exceeded its funding goal by $22,000+.

The first belts are expected to be delivered to supporters in July 2015, with general availability from September 2015.

British Gas Hive Active Heating Review

British Gas HiveIt’s that time of year when it’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey and us Brits are very grateful for a fully working Central heating system to keep us toasty during the long Winter nights.

As someone who travels a lot, standard Central Heating thermostats have long been a source of frustration to me. Either I forget to turn the heating down when I’m away from home – and am effectively paying to heat an empty house – or I turn the heating down and then have to endure coming home to a freezing cold house before I can turn the heating back on.

So when British Gas asked me if I’d like to review the British Gas Hive smart thermostat system, I jumped at the opportunity!

British Gas Hive Active Heating

While our American friends have had Smart Thermostats such as Nest (which was recently acquired by Google) for a short while now, us Brits have had colloquailisms about Brass Monkeys and now have the Hive Active Heating system from British Gas too.

Hive Connector

Hive Connector

In short, Hive is a Central Heating thermostat which you can control from anywhere via an App on your Smartphone, Tablet or via a web control on your computer.

The Hive package I received contains three parts. A Wireless receiver that attaches to your boiler, a Thermostat unit that you can use to manually control the heating when at home, and a transmitter that connects to your home Broadband to facilitate the remote control aspect of Hive.

The Hive Active Heating works with any modern Central Heating boiler. You don’t need to have had your Central Heating installed by British Gas or be a current British Gas energy customer to buy the unit, although the system does need to be installed by a British Gas engineer.

My own Central Heating system consisted of a condensing combination boiler that was less than a couple of years old and which wasn’t installed by British Gas. I’ve since had a second Hive system installed in another property which contained a 12 years+ old combination boiler, a boiler which wasn’t originally installed by British Gas. In both properties I’m a customer of First Utility (mainly for their modern Smart Meters) for my energy and not British Gas.

The Installation

British Gas Hive Installation

British Gas Engineers installing my Hive system

Like most British Gas engineers I’ve met with over the years, the two engineers who came out to install my unit were very friendly, cleaned up as they went along and both explained the way the Hive system worked and communicated the steps they were taking throughout the installation process.

The installation work took less than a couple of hours, most of which was spent chatting with the engineers about their personal experiences of the new Hive system, how excited they were for the future of home automation, and their work ensuring the disconnection of my existing two-year old Thermostat system – and the awkwardly positioned existing Wireless receiver attached to my boiler.

Hive Wireless Receiver

The Hive Wireless Receiver is connected to your boiler

Once the old system was disconnected the new wireless receiver was connected to my Boiler in a discreet yet more easily accessible position underneath the Boiler.

The wireless receiver is a small plastic unit with a green light that flashes when the system is first turned on (or re-connected after a power outage or loss of Broadband) to let you know all is well, but then turns off during normal operation so as to be one less distracting light in the home. It connects to your boiler and once fitted you’ll rarely have to check it.

Hive transmitter

The Hive transmitter is connected to your Broadband router

The Hive transmitter is a tiny communication box with a single Ethernet port that connects to your home Broadband Internet router. Once connected, it configures itself automatically and uses only tiny amounts of data – around 5mb initially, and then 1/2mb per month ongoing.

Hive Thermostat

Hive Thermostat

The final component of the Hive set up is the Thermostat. It’s a simple to use unit with a large LCD screen which displays the current temperature and, like a traditional Thermostat, allows you to manually increase or decrease the temperature when you’re at home – even if your Broadband is down and you can’t remotely connect to Hive.

Once all the hardware was fitted, it is a case of downloading the software App for your Smartphone or tablet, setting up a Hive account using your personal email address and registering it to your new Hive system using a unique Serial number. Your installation engineer will then give you a quick tour of the Hive app on your chosen device.

The whole installation process was painless. As mentioned, in addition to the review unit I had fitted which was provided by British Gas, I have since bought a second Hive system for a second property – the cost for the hardware and installation was £199 with no ongoing costs at all. That’s comparable to any decent modern non-smart Thermostat, so I think it’s good value.

Using the Hive App

Hive App for Android

Hive App for Android

The Hive App is available for Android and iOS systems and is very clear, intuitive and easy to use. While I’m admittedly a techie geek, I can see anyone who uses Facebook (and that includes my 70 year old Mom) quickly becoming comfortable with the App.

I installed Hive on both my Nexus 5 Android Smartphone and my Apple iPad 2 and the system was very similar in use between the two operating systems.

You can turn your heating up or down directly from the App – and regardless of where you are in the world (provided you have an Internet connection) or, if you’re exceeding lazy and can’t be bothered to walk to the Thermostat, you can use the App to control the Thermostat while at home.

Yes – I’ll freely admit that I’ve even used the App to turn my heating up while lying in bed, thus avoiding a daunting chilly trip to the Thermostat a few yards away.

As well as using the App to manually control your heating, the App contains geolocation features.

In a nutshell, geolocation means that once configured (I stood outside my front door so the App got a strong GPS signal while connected to my home WiFi) the App will know when you’re away from home and remind you to lower your heating to save energy. Likewise, when you’re approaching home, if your heating is set too low, the Hive App will ask you if you want to higher the heating so everything is nice and toasty when you step foot through your front door.

In reality I’ve found the geolocation feature a bit hit and miss. It has worked for me sometimes, but typically when I’ve already had the Hive App open to make some manual changes. When I’ve not looked at the Hive App in a while, the geolocation feature doesn’t seem to prompt me. I’d be interested in hearing other users experiences with the Hive geolocation features.

Multiple Hive Users or multiple Hive systems

For me using two Hive systems in different properties, moving between the systems is a case of logging out of one email address and in with another. I’d like to see British Gas add an on-screen prompt as to which system you’re currently logged in to, and perhaps the ability to shift between multiple systems from one account, and after speaking to the British Gas team I was told this is certainly something they are considering adding as a feature down the road.

Unless I’m actively logged in to the App, the geolocation features don’t seem to work. When moving between two properties, often when I’m still logged in to one Hive system while travelling to another, this renders the geolocation feature a bit useless. Again, allowing a single Hive App to control multiple properties from a single login might be the solution.

Finally, it might also be nice for multiple email accounts to be connected to a single Hive system, so that an entire family or those sharing a home can login using their own ID’s rather than a single shared ID. As it stands, the single Hive login and password needs to be shared with anyone who needs access to the Thermostat.

Scheduled Heating

Hive heating schedules

Hive heating schedules

As well as manually changing the current heating temperature through the App or Thermostat unit, you can also configure schedules to automatically turn the heating on and off both through the App and through the Hive website.

I found using the Hive website to initially configure the heating schedules for my property the easier of the two, although the App allows you to easily make changes to the schedules too.

The schedules feature allows you to set typically desired temperatures during the day and night, and weekdays and weekends, and set the heating to automatically change accordingly.

If you come home earlier than usual one day then you can manually “advance” the schedule to the next timed heating setting through the App or Thermostat to immediately increase the temperature of your home.

You can also turn the schedule off and use the system in manual mode – handy for when you’re at home for a few days when you’d normally be away at work, and want to stay cosy while catching up on “Breaking Bad” on Netflix.

To avoid freezing pipes the system also turns your heating on if the temperature of your home falls below 5’c. In reality, when I’m away from home for any length of time I manually set my temperature to 13’c which helps avoid damp.

Temperature History & Notifications

Hive Temperature History

Hive Temperature History

The Hive system also allows you to view temperature history at your property – by day, week, month and year – which is interesting for energy nerds (like me) and can help you organise your heating schedules more accurately as time goes by.

Handily, you can also set up notifications which are triggered by high or low temperatures. For instance, you can be alerted by email if you’ve accidentally set the temperature ridiculously high or forgot to set the heating and it gets too cold.

Similarly, you can receive an email alert if your Thermostat battery is running low.

This ability to remotely monitor and see historic data about your Central Heating might seem geeky, but as we enter the age of the “Internet of Things” it’s going to seem increasingly commonplace for any household.

Going forwards I’d like to see a trusted household name like British Gas extend smart technology into other areas of the home. The rival Google Nest system already has a smart Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector, and I’m desperate for a smart home alarm system that I can remotely monitor, activate and deactivate. British Gas assure me they are exploring all these areas of potential home automation.


For £199 (and at the time of writing, British Gas had a £149 winter deal on) for both the Hive system and installation, Hive becomes an easily justified purchase when the cost is measured against any traditional Thermostat system.

For anyone who is away from home a lot, the ability to remotely control your heating from anywhere in the world becomes something that once you’ve got used to, you won’t want to give up. Indeed, I’ve demonstrated the system to my friends who frequently travel for business or who split their time between more than one home, and they’ve ordered their own Hive system and not regretted the purchase.

Likewise, for any of my friends who are increasingly automating their homes or wanting to feel more in control of their energy bills and who have seen my Hive system in action, controlling your heating goes from a “nice to have” to a justifiable “must have”.

With that said, in my opinion the energy cost savings to be made from a Hive system shouldn’t be your primary reason for buying it. I’ve only been using the Hive system in two properties for a few months and I’ve not noticed any real difference in energy bills – but it has given me peace of mind to check on the temperature in an empty house and know I’m not paying for it to be heated unnecessarily.

CardsGone – Guard and cancel lost or stolen credit cards

Every Friday I try to share one of my favourite finds of the week – a web-site, tool or app that has impressed me.

My Friday Favourite this week is CardsGone - a free safe tool to guard and cancel lost or stolen UK credit, debit & membership cards.

Cancel Lost or Stolen Credit Cards

If you’ve ever lost a credit card, then you’ll know the sinking feeling that accompanies the realisation that your credit card is no longer in your wallet or purse, and frantic panic to quickly cancel the card and organise a replacement with your credit card company.

As a frequent traveller who has before now lost a card while abroad, it pays to have all the information you need to quickly cancel a card before any damage can be done.

UCardsGone - Free Safe Tool to Guard and Cancel Lost or Stolen Credit Cardsp until last week, I paid a company an annual fee to keep hold of all my credit cards details and in the event of a loss of card, telephoned them for details on what to do next.

With CardsGone – a site put together by MoneySavingExpert Martin Lewis – you can quickly select your credit, debit and membership cards and the website will instantly compile all the phone numbers you need in the event you suffer a lost or stolen card. There is no personal data stored and the service is offered for free.


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