I've been a bit of a geek for as long as I can remember. I love gadgets - I just wish I had the income to support my habit!
I have a BSc Hons in Computing (more years ago than I care to contemplate), and worked in software support for Hewlett Packard for 9 years after I graduated.
I had recurring back problems, and left HP to join Back in Action in 1993, having been impressed by the service they provided to me as a customer.
13 years later, in January 2006, I repeated the pattern of happy-customer-turned-employee when I joined The Veterinary Centre in Henley, having become a bit of a fixture during the last year of my dog Jazz's life while he was being treated there for canine lymphoma. I was originally the Office Manager there, looking after day-to-day admin and the computer systems, which gradually morphed into IT and Communications Systems Manager, until I was made redundant in October 2020 as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to this I had a part time job from June 2012 to March 2017, helping to support BeyondPod for Android - another job that came about because I was a happy user, and was already volunteering help to others on the BeyondPod forum.
I am also an ex-Toppy user (Topfield 5800 and 5810 PVRs) and now a considerably less-active member of the UK Toppy forum. We eventually bought an XTrend ET8500 Enigma2/Openvix PVR to replace the Toppy, which we've gradually been getting to grips with.
I was a big Google+user (now Google Currents - Google's Social Media product), and a member of Google's Product Expert team of tech help volunteers in the Google+ Help Community. Most of my contributions were in various Communities, and I miss those since the G+ consumer offering was withdrawn in April 2019.
I use and am fairly knowledgeable about a number of other Google products too, but I really emjoyed answering questions about a product using that product, as well as answering questions about a product that I used regularly. I met some wonderful people from around the world in my time as a volunteer Product Expert for Google.
I'll post here sporadically (and definitely not regularly) about things that interest me enough in to put pen to paper (or rather, fingers to keyboard).
How to say thanks
If you've found any of my posts useful (or even just entertaining), there are a number of ways you can say "thank you" in practical terms. And they benefit you too.
GiffGaff offer PAYG SIM cards which can also be used as if they were contract SIMs ... but without being tied in for the long term. Call rates are generally pretty good as a PAYG.
However, if you buy their Goodybags you can get much better deals on data, from 500Mb to unlimited, with unlimited calls and SMS messages. You can set up a recurring Goodybag so you don't have to think about it. And if you run out of data, you can just buy your next Goodybag early.
Or if you use it without Goodybags, you can set up automatic top-ups from your credit card when you get below your set credit limit, but with limits on the number of top-ups per month to make sure it's not possible to rack up huge bills without knowing about it.
If you use my link, I get a £5 credit, and so do you.
Octopus have various different tariffs, from conventional variable bills (if you must), to regular monthly Direct Debit payments to smooth out your summer and winter consumption, plus innovative tariffs that vary according to the load on the grid (typically making electricity cheaper at night), or tariffs designed for users with solar panels or electric cars.
Octopus is recommended by Which and Money Saving Expert, and all electricity is from renewable sources.