All posts by matt

The cheapest way to get a Samsung Galaxy S2 in the UK

If you’re a materialistic idiot like me, you’ll be interested in how you can get your hands on a disgustingly extravagant smartphone while parting with the least amount of cash possible.

The best deal I found for the Galaxy S2 (by far) has been through Tesco:

  • Free handset
  • T-Mobile network
  • 300 mins/300 texts
  • 24 month contract
  • Free delivery
  • 500MB Data Booster + Unlimited Internet
  • £20 of free apps available (through some T&Cs)
  • £20.42 per month
At time of writing, that is the best deal I could find and is even better than anything I could find through the (usually excellent) billmonitor website.
Chances are that deal should work out just fine for you. If so, I hope this post helped you out.

 

Current T-Mobile customers:

If (like me) you are already a T-Mobile customer then the checkout procedure will fail right at the end with an error code “existing customer“. I went into the tesco mobile shop and was told that the only way around it was to switch to a PAYG contract, then try again. This was a bit of a pain and I won’t bore you with the series of contradicting advice I got from T-Mobile on the matter. If you’re a T-Mobile customer, you have to do the following:
  1. Buy a PAYG sim card (I got one for £11.99 with £10 credit from Three but you can get cheaper).
  2. Ring T-Mobile. Tell them you wish to cancel. Also request a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC) so that you can keep my number. Your account isn’t actually closed until the number is ported.
  3. Contact your PAYG sim network to port your number. For Three there is an online form under “Bringing your number to Three”.
  4. Once your number has been ported onto your PAYG sim (mine took 1 day) you can order your phone from Tesco.
There are a few quirks with the tesco order form. For example, entering a landline number is mandatory and a mobile number is not accepted. I just made up a number and it still worked. Also, it asked me to enter my name as it appears on the card (MR M J BURNS) but then complained that my first name was too short.  I entered both my initials in the firstname box and that worked.

 

Alternatives

The Google Nexus is the new kid on the block but costs big bucks at the moment. There’s also an upgraded Galaxy S2 in the form of the Galaxy S2 HD LTE floating around Japan. Don’t get too excited though, this isn’t coming to the UK for ages and there’s no foreseeable plans for a decent rollout of a 4G network in the UK for quite a while anyway. You should also consider if you can afford to commit to 24 months for a phone that won’t make your life any better/easier/happier. It’s just a phone. Pah, who am I kidding, it’s a work of art and object of pure desire!

 

Conclusion

Getting your hands on this Tesco deal can be a bit of hassle, but when you look at the savings over 24 months, completely worth it.
I hope this helps you if you’re in the market for a top smartphone.

How to dynamically choose the color of your Google maps marker pin using javascript

You can dynamically request icon images from the Google charts api with the urls:

http://chart.apis.google.com/chart?chst=d_map_pin_letter&chld=%E2%80%A2|FE7569

Which looks like this: default the image is 21×43 pixels and the pin tip is at position (10, 34)

And you’ll also want a separate shadow image (so that it doesn’t overlap nearby icons):

http://chart.apis.google.com/chart?chst=d_map_pin_shadow

Which looks like this: shadow the image is 40×37 pixels and the pin tip is at position (12, 35)

When you construct your MarkerImages you need to set the size and achor points accordingly:

var pinColor = “FE7569”;
var pinImage = new google.maps.MarkerImage(“http://chart.apis.google.com/chart?chst=d_map_pin_letter&chld=%E2%80%A2|” + pinColor,
new google.maps.Size(21, 34),
new google.maps.Point(0,0),
new google.maps.Point(10, 34));

var pinShadow = new google.maps.MarkerImage(“http://chart.apis.google.com/chart?chst=d_map_pin_shadow”,
new google.maps.Size(40, 37),
new google.maps.Point(0, 0),
new google.maps.Point(12, 35));

You can then add the marker to your map with:

var marker = new google.maps.Marker({
position: new google.maps.LatLng(0,0),
map: map,
icon: pinImage,
shadow: pinShadow
});

Simply replace “FE7569” with the color code you’re after. Eg: yellow

My next e-book

If you know me, you’ll know I just got back from a year galavanting around the world. I was given a Sony e-book as a present which I took with me, and soon became an essential item.

It’s already showing its age compared to newer models but I’m not buying a new one until e-book manufacturers start adding features I actually want.

I don’t want:

  • A colour screen. Why would I? I just want a book
  • Video support. If I wanted an iPad, I’d buy an iPad. I just want a book.
  • A qwerty keyboard. I have a phone for web and email. Did I mention I just want a book?

I want:

  • A big screen. Y’know, about the size of a book. With the best resolution you can please.
  • Amazing battery life. My current e-book is fine but more is always welcome. If the battery won’t easily last a week, then a book wins.
  • Tough construction. I don’t want to feel I have to buy a leather case to protect my delicate gadget and then just worry about it in my backpack. Make it tough so I can just chuck it around. Like a book.
  • Water-proofing. This is the killer feature. I want to read on the beach and in the bath without worrying about it. Why isn’t there a bright yellow* ‘sport’ edition like the walkmans of the 90’s?

I already prefer my e-book to real books. It’s a no-brainer for me, I’m converted. But if you’re a manufacturer and you want me to upgrade, make a model with features I actually care about.

*Yellow would obviously be an awful colour for a book. Black or white would probably sell better but frankly, I don’t care**.

**I’m lying, of course I would care. How about carbon fibre? Transparent plastic? Metal covered in that rubber they make Aerobies with?