Credit Card Takeaway

Called into my local Chinese takeaway tonight in person rather than phoning. The nice lady patiently waited while I chose three items, then informed me that my £12.80 sale was short of the £15 minimum for debit card transactions. I appealed this extremely politely, referencing the fact that Which? has recently conducted an investigation which revealed that the true cost of DD transactions was around 20p. She said OK and called her boss – offsite – for authorisation. A rapid convo in Mandarin was heard then she got off the phone and smiled, saying the boss said OK. OK? Great!!

So, she proceeded to ask me “Long card number on the front” “expiry date” “security code” “house number and postcode” and “name as on the card”. Dutifully these details were then written down on a little notepad. Yep, a notepad. Then she rang her boss – offsite – but you know that already – and gave him the details (in Mandarin). All my details. She then handed back to me the note.

I had some questions. “What do you do if the customer is not here?” She showed me the rest of the pad, pages and pages of other customer’s details. Gold.

“What do you do with them?” to answer that she demonstrated – by ripping off a page, screwing it up in her hand, and then gesturing a throwing away. “So you just put them in the bin?” “Yes – I tear them up”

I should add that whilst she took my order (on another sheet of paper) out to the kitchen, she left the counter unattended. I quickly jumped up over the high counter to see if it was possible for me to grab the Credit Card details notebook – yep – it was there within reach.”How do you protect those customer details from theft?” “I do” she said. I  replied “But while you were away in the kitchen, I had the opportunity to steal that pad!” She got it……..

She was so nice, and understanding, and gave otherwise good service, that I felt I had to offer help in return. So I’ve passed on my details to give to her boss, so we can meet and get some advice happening about how to protect his business from potential fraud, and to review his Data Protection policies.

I took away with me the top three pages of the notebook – mine and the next two so that impressions couldn’t be made of my personally identifying information (PII). I also made the resolution to ask for an authorisation number each and every time I give my details over the phone – I assumed that she had a machine onsite but it was elsewhere – with the boss. Hmm. I’m not actually sure if that’s actually proper. It’s certainly not good practice.

When you call a business and they ask for card details over the phone, what do you do?


Online Sync Storage – a digestible options list

Want to sync about 30GB of data from your computer to an online sync service for backup purposes?

Happy to pay but not through the nose?

Here’s a quick summary:-



Price £GBP Storage
Copy 15GB 5GB US$99 £62 250GB
DropBox 2GB 0.5GB US$99 £62 100GB
Ubuntu One 5GB none I think US$30 £19 20GB
SpiderOak 2GB 1GB US$99 £62 100GB
Box 5GB none I think £42 £42 100GB
Google Drive 15GB none I think $60 £38 100GB
Sky Drive 7GB couldn’t find easily so ignored intentionally blank

And here’s my thoughts:-

· I couldn’t easily find the necessary info re Microsoft Sky Drive quickly and easily so they’re off the board

· The rest are easily installed on multiple platforms and feature apps for your smartphone so you can grab files anywhere.

· DropBox is the best for usability as it’s now got LOADS of other apps that work with it. High scores on simplicity too.

· If you’re worried about file security then SpiderOak is unbeatable, due to their no-knowledge setup.

· Google Drive is cheapest and is pretty good, except it’s difficult to put away the worry about what they scrape from your files.

· Ubuntu One looks good for the price but is smaller – and appears to be unexpandable. Off the board for this exercise.

· If you’ve got lots of friends that are happy to join, you can quickly get a great quota free from Copy.

· Box is great value. And it’s well thought of in business circles in the USA. So it’s recommended.

So to pick a winner, it comes down to Box and DropBox. And since DropBox wins on connectivity with other functions (e.g. the ability to automatically take photos off your phone and sync off into the cloud), I’m going to give it the gong.

Box is second. SpiderOak is third for me because of SpiderOak Hive (more info).

The one I use most myself is DropBox, with a little SpiderOak as well for the personal and business files that I just *don’t* want breached.

For more in-depth options have a look at as recommended by Gary Smith @fl1bbl3

What’s your backup plan? If you don’t have one, get one. Or ask someone that can help make one.

In the event of fire, theft, flood or frying disks you’ll be glad you did.

QBright iOS app wrecked by new update

The recently updated excellent little iOS app that goes by the name of Qbright is now “under new management” and all the new reviews are saying that it’s been ruined by the latest update, and turned into an ad platform. It’s a paid app!! My findings are the same. I believe the old version was much better (yes, the new control panel in iOS7 is good for quick adjustment of brightness, but it’s three taps to get the effect that Qbright can give in one). There is lots of advice in the reviews to avoid the update – I concur.


Thankfully I have a backup copy #Qbright

Here’s a YouTube that explains (in Spanish) in a very straightforward way how to work the older version of the app

London apps for iOS

Here’s a useful set of apps for iOS suitable for use when visiting London Village.


The Underground is easy to use, well mapped, and exceedingly well apped. Many more apps are available than this short list.

Tube Deluxe £0.69

Tube Map Pro £0.69 there is a free version available, but notifications of line closures and delays makes this one top value.

TubeWalker £0.00 combines walking, tubing and sightseeing (recommended by Gary Smith)


An Oyster Card is best for jumping on and off buses – cashless swipes and easy to topup

Bus Checker £1.99

Absolutely worth every penny if you bus a lot. Shows bus stops in locales, next bus arrival in real time, and pings you when your stop is approaching.

Bus Mapper £0.00 not used this myself, but it popped up in a search, and it’s well rated, and it has live info.


Most international travellers arrive in London by air, so knowing flight arrival and departure times and location of shops at the airport is very handy

Heathrow £0.00

Gatwick £0.00

Stansted £0.00


If you have mobile network on your iPad or iPhone then offline maps may not be needed, although wifi hotspots are plentiful in London.

CityMaps2Go £1.99 offline mapping for bandwidth free wandering (recommended by @CliveAndrews )

Connected apps include

CityMapper £0.00 not only for maps, but TfL trip planning as well, including all modes of public transport. Very good for route planning. Network needed.


XE Currency £0.00 Avoid rip-offs at the plentiful exchange bureaux by knowing the listed rates of the day in your own currency


Hailo £0.00 Taxis are the most point to point means of public transport in London, especially when luggage is added, and the knowledge of the drivers is world renowned.

This app gets the cabbie to come right to you (thanks to Richard Cudlip for recommendation)


Boris Bikes £0.00 since these cheap numerous rentable bikes appeared in London, usage for short trips has taken off. There’s not many hills, and getting around by bike is very enjoyable. And helmets are not compulsory!! NB The wind may ruin your hairdo. Carry a brush.


The Cloud £0.00 This provider is very common in London. This app includes a profile that you can install so that the device will login automatically whenever you’re in range. No pesky repeated logins. A map shows nearest locations (network needed for this function).


When you’re travelling with iOS, you’ll be logging in and entering email details a lot to maintain accounts and connectivity. Consider having a gmail (or similar) set up right on your phone or iPad so you can pick-up the necessary “confirm your account – click here” emails. Maybe even use a junk one that you can ignore and discard when you get home, to avoid getting all the follow up spams. The Gmail app is very good and easy to activate.

Twitter is a great way of getting travel tips, alerts and advice. Here’s some recommended follows





What apps would you recommend if your mate was London bound?

Texting from iPad

You can’t send texts from an iPad right? Oh contrare!! I’ve discovered a workaround of sorts that might be useful, dependent on other gadgets.

I won (yes I won!!) an iPad Mini from @TechTVuk and have spent the last few evenings setting it up as half a Work iPad and half a Family iPad, so that the parents and children can all enjoy the new device. But not everyone in my contacts has an iDevice(!), so iMessage-only may be a bit limiting. So I started installing some other apps that I use and recommend for calls on iPhone.

To set up Viber & Vonage I needed a device to which an SMS could be sent in order to login. Enter my @ThreeUK mifi. Text sent to mifi. Code obtained. App set up. Very straightforward indeed. And Skype was of course easy too. (no text code required).


I can now send texts via three different apps on the iPad, plus iMessage as well. Skype Vonage and Viber. Happy face.

My grateful thanks to the good folks of @TechTVuk for awarding me the new iPad Mini. They do creative video for technology companies. Tell them @pedrostephano sent you.

NB picture shows the text I had sent to my iPhone. Setting it up this way didn’t work. But via the mifi did – and it’s exclusive and thus separate to my iPhone which is the way I want it.

Update – learned that Viber also has an app for desktop in both Windows and Mac variants, as well as the mobile platforms.

NFC errors

For quite a while I’ve had concerns about the security of my personal details on NFC enabled bank cards, to the point that I carry my Barclays card in a RFID wallet. @Alien8 confirms that the infosec community is well aware of the potential risks, but mainstream consumers are not.

Tweet today from @FraserSpiers confirms the issues that exist, so I’m starting a little list which I’ll be presenting to my business banking manager.

Contactless ‘charging errors’ at M&S

Card errors

BFF’s BT Yahoo email hacked

Email HackedMy best mate’s wife sent me an email this morning. From The Philippines. Interesting since I spoke to her only yesterday. She hasn’t gone anywhere!
In fact this is a phishing scam. Common on the internets. Treatment should always be “Ignore Delete”. But – I added a step – I phoned a friend. The owner of the email was very upset. She’d logged on to find her emails ALL GONE.
No folders, no inbox, nothing from three years.

First aid measures applied – password changed instantly to one that’s not used elsewhere. Now she’s contacting her ISP to find out if the emails can be recovered (I don’t hold much hope). Next thing we’ll do is get her a new email address, and institute a backup plan such as AutoForward to a gmail address.

I’ll get her to read this post from a few months back which outlines all the steps to undertake if you’ve been hacked, and some advice for prevention.

Don’t ask when you’ll get hacked. Plan for when you’ll get hacked (not if!!) and should you need any help, phone a friend *waves