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Monday, September 24, 2018

Updated: Review: VicTsing Dehumidifier


Disclaimer: This product was provided by VicTsing in exchange for an unbiased review.

Update: September 24, 2018: The dehumidifier finally gave up the ghost on me.  It no longer turned on.  So the answer to the below question about how long the product last is 2 years.

The original review is below.




Today I'm reviewing the VicTsing Dehumidifier, which cost £47.99 on Amazon.

Pros
  • Compact
  • Works as expected
  • Long cable
  • Easy to use
  • Sturdy construction
  • Large water catchment container

Cons:
  • High pitch whirring
  • Need to be plugged in
  • Limited by 2.5m power cable

At first I quite skeptical about the product after reading the negative reviews on the Amazon page.  However, to my surprise it works as expected.  During my week of use it managed to collect about a mm of water in the container.

In the box you get:
  • 1x Dehumidifier
  • 1x Adapter
  • 1x Instruction Manual

The dehumidifier is quite easy to use.  On the back of the product, there is an "on" button and that's it.  There is no other dials or switches on the product.   Plug it in and switch it on and it starts working.  At the top, there is an LED indicator to check if the water tank is full.  This also doubles as a shut-off system as if the water tank is full it will automatically shut the system off so it doesn't overflow.

The water container is easily removed. Just give it a tug and it comes out.  One thing I dislike about the product is the high pitch whirring it produces when it is working.  I am using it in an ensuite room and I can hear it through the closed bathroom door.  Though it doesn't disturb sleep, this, in my opinion, is quite annoying.  I had to turn off the product at night.

The product is lightweight and portable.  However, you are limited by the length of the power cable (2.5 m).  So if there isn't an outlet near the place you want to use the product, you will need an extension socket.

I can't comment on whether it's worth the price or not or how long it would last, but if you're skeptical on the quality, all I can say is that it works.  For how long, I don't know.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Train company lost property charges

Update (September 14 2018): Arriva Trains Wales have slightly changed their tune regarding the 10% charge:

Our customers feedback is really important to us and following recent feedback on this issue we will now be changing our policy with immediate effect. In this instance we are happy to refund the percentage that was charged to the customer who brought this to our attention. We are happy to begin the process of reviewing the Lost Property policy with customer groups and rail industry regulatory bodies.
Tens of thousands of items are lost on the railway network every year. At Arriva Trains Wales, we charge the minimum amount possible and have done since the franchise began. In addition any unclaimed items that we receive are donated to charity or are recycled appropriately. It must be noted that our lost property service is a non-profit making service and all charges are used to support the cost of administrating the service.
To safely store, record and process all these items takes a considerable amount of resource and as such we, like other train operators in the UK, have a small handling and administration fee which is clearly outlined on our website and Passenger’s Charter. Lost property charges vary across the UK train operators and this is set out in the National Rail Conditions of Travel which states train operators can charge up to £30 per item.


I was shocked to find out that Arriva Train Wales charges for lost property.


That got me thinking. Was this an isolated incident or do other train companies charge for items?

This is what I found out.

Train companies that don't charge for lost properties

  • Virgin (Network rail may charge a small fee for holding items if recovered at one of their stations)
  • ScotRail (Free if recovered at a station run by Scotrail.  Edinburgh Waverley or Glasgow Central are run by Network rail)
  • Hull Trains
  • Transpennine Express
  • C2C Rail
  • Northern

Train companies that charge for lost properties

  • Arriva
  • Chiltern Railways
  • London Northwestern Railway / West Midlands Railway
  • Southeastern

Misc

  • CrossCountry Trains (charges may be incurred depending on who runs the terminus station)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Review: Chrome OS -- Give Chrome OS a try (Updated)

Apple vs. Windows?  That's the question we often hear.  Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS has dominated the computer industry for a long time and comparison between the two is often a heated debate among computer enthusiasts and fanboys.  The two tech giants are synonymous with modern day computing.  But there is a contender on the block and its name is Chrome OS.

I have an Acer Chromebook 15 (C910), as well as a Core i7 Chromebox, which is my main desktop.  And my Windows desktop?  Given to my parents and converted to Chrome OS by installing the CloudReady home edition by Neverware.

What is Chrome OS you might ask?  Well Chrome OS is a brand new operating system built by Google from the ground up with a view toward the web.  If you have used a Chrome browser, you have pretty much used the operating system.  Chrome OS is lightweight and requires very little resource.






There is plenty of misinformation going around that Chromebooks are useless and cannot run Windows software.

While it is true that Chromebooks cannot run Windows software like Microsoft Office or iTunes, the bigger question is there replacements for those software? And the answer to that is yes.

Photo editing

Photo by Caio Resende from Pexels
Chromebook naysayers are often drumming on how Chromebooks can't run Photoshop.  But how many people actually use Photoshop to touch up holiday pictures.  Photoshop is really resource-intensive and expensive so unless you're a professional photographer or your work deal with photographs, I bet you don't really need to use the software just to crop a few images or touch up on your snaps.  Pixlr is a perfectly good replacement to Photoshop and Chrome OS can natively crop your photographs.  Another good alternative is LunaPic and Fotor. In addition, new Chromebooks can access the Play Store and almost all the apps available to Android.  That means that you can install the Adobe Photoshop Express software.  You can also access these apps made by Adobe.

Word processing

No problem.  Two solutions are available: Google docs or Microsoft Office online.  Also, you can access all these Word Processing apps made for Android.

Video editing

You can cut or trim videos using the various online editing tools available.

Music

No biggy.  I'm pretty sure most of you are on YouTube anyway.  You can also access the large library on Spotify or Amazon Prime Music.  Plus you can upload your music to Google Play Music online and it will work on any PC.  With the advent of the Play Store, the Android version of Play Music is also available.


Most modern Chromebooks can run Android apps.  That means that any apps that you use on your phone will now run on your Chromebook.  Also, there is a feature called Crostini currently in development that lets you run Linux apps!  That will allow you to access all the apps available on Linux INCLUDING Steam.  These are the Chromebooks that currently support Crostini aka Linux on Chromebooks.


Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/Crostini/wiki/getstarted/crostini-enabled-devices

And as an added bonus, Chrome OS cannot be infected!  It is basically a web browser so there is nothing to infect.  No nasty viruses or spyware.  Also, updates install on the background and simply require a reboot to start.  In addition, Chrome OS takes mere seconds (around 7 in my tests) from pressing the power button to being on the web.

So for a hassle-free computing, give Chrome OS a try.

This blog post was created and edited on Chrome OS.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Advice: What to do if you're in debt?

Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Students are well known for being poor and cash-strapped and loan companies know this.  Therefore, some companies, such as Smart-pig, target students promising a quick and easy way to borrow money to cover shortfalls in the budget.  These types of loans are informally known as "payday loans" as they are aimed at providing money between paydays.  It is typically expected that the debt is repaid the next payday.

However, don't be tempted into taking out a loan with these companies.  Smart-pig charges 0.8% A DAY capping the interest at 50% of the original loan (according to the website).  Wonga, the infamous payday company that had recently gone bankrupt, charges an interest rate of 292%.  Therefore, you can quickly get into more financial problems if you have used one of those short-term loan companies.

Image courtesy of ladybeastcharmer on DeviantArt
An even worse source of money is a loan shark.  These illegal lenders target low-income people and charge high interest rates.  For example, according to the Money Advice Service, one woman who borrowed £500 ended up repaying £88,000.  These lenders will seem friendly at first, but unlike payday loans, these loan sharks will often harass you or resort to violence if you get behind on your payment.   In addition, they might pressure you to borrow more money to cover the original loan.  As a result, you might end up in a spiral of debt that you can never repay.



A payday loan or a loan shark should never be relied upon if you are short of cash.  What you can do instead, is talk to your parents or friends and see if they can help you out with your financial issues.  I'm sure they are more than willing to help you out.

In addition, as a Swansea University student, you have a comprehensive team to support your financial issues.  Your first point of call should be Money@CampusLife team which can give you advice about keeping your finance in check.  In addition, the Money@CampusLife team can advise you about the various Hardship Funds available to help students who are struggling with their finances.



If you're not a Swansea University student, contact your local student union for directions to the relevant team at your university.

If you are not a University student, you can ask the Citizens Advice Bureau or the Money Advice Service for advice regarding debts.

You should never feel that you're alone. There are people there to support you.