How I’m keeping my UK mobile number

Here’s a geeky point.  A note I’ll keep to hand for advice.

I needed to keep my UK mobile number of 25 years, as some old people, old friends and potential work use it occasionally.   They just wouldn’t ring a French number.

I’ve been paying £20 a month to Vodafone for virtually nothing, and although current contracts are said not to be in danger of being charged for roaming, I’m not sure if that will be true long-term, and I’m obviously in an inappropriate contract.  In the distant past Three UK said roaming was free within reasonable use, but they literally cut off my line after 90 days in France even though I hadn’t used data more than once.

I also needed to have dual-sim phones, which actually hasn’t been a hardship or expense.  £200 is not unusual for an Android.

My French Bouygues contract *does* have UK voice and data roaming, although not data sadly for the little-brother SIM in my iPad.

So I ported my UK mobile number to these guys who are extremely reputable tecchie niche suppliers, they were my ISP 25 years ago in the days of screeching modems.

I can make and receive calls on my phone or iPad via an app (Bria from Counterpath, (currently $36 p.a.), via my PC and laptop, and also on old fashioned cordless and corded phones using a £40 Grandstream dongle that we’ve used for 20+ years for our Newmarket incoming number.  In principal although simple one app running on a phone would make it indistinguishable for incoming calls.£1 a month, plus VAT, plus the minimal cost of calls.  Obviously this is more about receiving calls and texts rather than making them.  In fact I don’t think you can send texts, although you can receive them (useful for e.g. Banking two-factor authentication.  Also you can’t by default make international (non-UK) calls, but then why would you.  You have a local SIM in your phone with the appropriate contract for your needs.

Calls can be recorded and come immediately via email as mp3 files.  Ditto received answerphone messages. The quality is very good, so far at least. As the quality of internet connection gets more and more bullet-proof, this can only improve.

This could also be useful simply to ‘park’ your number while you go away for a year or two, with the possibility of returning.  You can always port the number back to Vodafone at any time.

No connection to declare, other than being a happy customer. Who makes mobile phone calls any more?

Test call to a French mobile

Wine Mediatheque Update

Summer days… time to reorganise the library for autumn watching.

Herewith my collection of films, TV programs and a (maybe) Wish List.  Any suggestions that I’ve missed?  Some rather average Chick Flicks are there to disturb my autumn nights.  Surprising that wine hasn’t produced more RomComs really.  Sssh, don’t give them the idea.

Interesting to see Amazon Prime being so productive.


Wine Movies


Wine TV


Wine acquisition list

Local media is managed using Plex, thoroughly recommended.

And now to barbecue some duck to go with the ratatouille.  It’s in the rules for August.

UK Trips

UK Trips planned.  For family, work, networking, play.  For guidance, the return day especially frequently changes.

Sun 15th  – Wed 18th April

Sun 13th – Wed 16th May

Sat 2nd – Wed 6th June

Sun 1st – Wed 4th July

Sun 2nd – Wed 5th September

Sun 7th – Wed 10th October

Sun 4th – Wed 7th November

Sun 9th – Wed 12th December

Sun 6th – Wed 9th January 2019

Sun 10th – Wed 13th February

Sun 10th – Wed 13th March

Continued Professional Development – LinkedIn Learning

Very impressed by the resources made available following the purchase by LinkedIn of in 2015 for an eye-watering $1.5 billion.  I can really see the benefit of that with a seemingly infinite supply of free training resource that ought to be transforming the Continued Professional Development of anyone wanting to keep abreast of changes.

Of course – bad pun alert – it’s horses for courses, we all have our own ways of learning, but for an anti-social homeworker with good concentration skills it’s a fine fit.

I’ve yet to see the point of Microsoft’s $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn (Dec-16), but the course on the new ‘Teams’ premium Office 365 app, positioned as a replacement for email, Skype, SharePoint suggests an eventual LinkedIn gateway that might be so successful that employers have to lock it away!

There are positive negatives in these courses as well.  I followed the DevOps course, now know not only the basics, the point, the methodology, but more than that, it’s an area I never want to roll up my Ozwald Boateng sleeves anywhere near.  #Delegatethatone.

Looking forward to following some non-professional courses from what offered.  Nutrition anyone? Yoga? Occitan?

BBC iPlayer upgrade hurts SSDs

Well, not exactly ‘hurts’, but makes life unnecessarily and irritatingly problematic.

The BBC is rightly praised for making programmes available for viewing on demand, and even allowing users to download programs to watch off-line.

Many users like me (PC and laptops) have an ultra fast but small SSD hard drive for their ‘System Drive’ (usually C:\) and have a massive slower secondary drive (often D:\).  One is forever working to keep large files off the SSD, as they use up the most valuable real-estate on the computer.

The problem is that the BBC have required users to update iPlayer to version 2, and this version insists without a hint of compromise that downloads have to live on the C:\ Drive (unless one reconfigures the entire machine in a frankly obscure and compromising way).  I can understand that they have rights to protect and can’t allow programs on removable drives that would not have their protection, but this is not the issue here.

All is not lost though.  One can use the functionality of the “Symbolic Link”, used as a junction in my case to ‘fool’ the program into thinking that a folder on the D:\ Drive is actually on the C:\.  It’s effectively a redirection functionality that goes unnoticed.

From an elevated command prompt just alter the following line and hit enter:

MKLINK /j “C:\Users\tom\Videos\BBC iPlayer Downloads” “D:\Media\BBC iPlayer Downloads”

I’ve just downloaded last night’s Newsnight, and it plays back perfectly.

Useful for those long plane journeys when you need to think it’s the evening and want to get to sleep.

Thanks to Ian Dixon of for the pointer.