Category Archives: Blog

Use virtual cards for online payment

We buy more and more online these days. So our card details are out there in so many places – and can be in the hands of bad players.

Many online-only banks offer ‘virtual’ cards. These are cards that can be used several times or just once. In the latter case this is great for a site that you are not sure about.

Even if you don’t have an account that offers this but do have an iPhone you can create these cards through Apple Pay. Google offers the same for Android users, but so far only in the USA.

Good points are that you can use the card just as many times as you want, cancel it if suspicious things start happening and set up a new one.

However, some vendors won’t accept them for subscriptions and if you cancel the card it is hard to get a refund, but it is a useful method to get another level of security.

Block unknown callers on WhatsApp

I do get communications from strangers on WhatsApp. Now there is a facility to silence calls like these, although they will still show in the calls tab and notifications.

Press the menu icon, then ‘settings’ and ‘privacy’. Now find ‘calls’ and now one can s’ilence unknown callers’.

It is also possible to block contacts in chats. Go to the chat with whoever you wish to block, press the menu icon, then ‘more’ to get to ‘block’ – and ‘report’ for this contact if you feel it is inappropriate.

Financial advice by AI

Money Saving Expert is a well-known service for, well, saving money. They have now developed an AI system that will answer your questions by searching the whole MSE database. It’s currently available on the MSE app for Android and iOS.

Go to the speech bubble at the bottom-right and type your question. The AI will respond and you can ask follow-up questions. It doesn’t give product recommendations, so go for ‘How do I’ sort of questions.

Staying in control of your business when you are away

How to switch off from one’s business is one of the biggest problems to day, especially with all the communications channels available. If one can’t step away from the normal hurly-burley, then not only was the time one spent earning the money for the holiday completely wasted but your personal life will be strained as well.

My view is to manage my time spent and monitor what is happening so I don’t come back to an unexpected crisis.

The answer is planning. Before you go:

  • is there a trusted associate who can handle issues with your most important clients?
  • Set up any newsletters and social media posts to be sent out while you are away;
  • let your customers know when you’ll be away and what arrangements you have made (e.g. I’ll be checking emails and voicemails daily, responding within 24 hours);
  • set up a voicemail message like the above.

Then agree with whoever you are going away with that you’ll spend a short time everyday (such as when they are in the bathroom) to check emails and voicemails.

On the voicemail front, I have a system that answers all my mobile and landline calls. It evens transcribes them into an email. As it is an app on my phone and tablet, I use wifi or mobile data to listen to the messages and use email or WhatsApp to respond. It’s pretty cheap and is called Hullomail. I’ve used it all over the world and frankly, by avoiding my paying international roaming charges, it’s almost paying me!

And then put everything away till tomorrow and enjoy yourself.

Create memories from your holidays

OK, a bit of a rant. I’ve just come back from a great time away and I’ve got lots of memories – in my head. What I noticed is that so many other people only saw what I saw through a phone screen. They didn’t actually see anything at all.

Screens aren’t the same as your eyes: they don’t show the depth of the scene or the grandeur (even if you do have a 6.9 inch screen!). That’s why looking at other peoples’ holiday snaps is rubbish – it’s not like being there.

My epiphany came at an event about ten years ago when I photographed everything all day (on a real camera, even) and realised that I hadn’t really been at the event. The viewfinder and screen created a barrier to being part of it – I had seen nothing at all for real.

So, yes, take pictures but then put the technology away and look at it for real. Savour it; appreciate it.

I can see the images in my mind of all the amazing things and places that I saw: the depth, the colours, the magnificence. So much better than a flat image. And I still came back with 2,500 photos!

Google Drive support

Google has announced that Google Drive will stop working on 32-bit windows 10 computers and all running Windows 8 or 8.1.

This will happen in August. To check whether you have 32-bit windows, open ‘settings’ and go to ‘system’. Under Device specifications in the middle is System Type. See whether it says 32-bit or 64-bit. If it says 32-bit does it also say x-64-based processor? If so, you can upgrade to 64-bit windows by doing a clean install. Just make sure everything you want to keep is backed up and you have all the program installation keys (but you don’t need the Windows one).

If you don’t upgrade, you can still use Google drive through your browser.