Saturday 23 September 2017

Digital Life: Why the number's almost up for all those pesky, unwanted calls

Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Nothing says a troublesome ex more than "you have 15 missed calls" or the constant "beep-beep" of the umpteenth unwanted text. It can be hard enough to handle for an adult but even more distressing for a youngster similarly terrorised by cyber-bullying.

The simple solution is to change your number. It's hardly foolproof -- keeping your new digits secret may not be easy -- but the phone networks will happily assist once you explain the situation.

But let's assume the problem isn't quite so serious that you'd want to lose the number you've been using for years. Surely, with all technology at our disposal, it's not too much to ask for an easy way to block all incoming calls and texts from certain numbers?

Well, yes, it is actually. You may end up having to change your phone, for instance. If you naively assumed, as I did, that you could simply ring your network and ask them to blacklist nuisance callers, that's not necessarily the case.

Meteor and eMobile are the only networks that will block numbers outright -- just have a quick chat with the customer care teams. Why the others won't do this is a mystery. Note that Meteor won't block premium-rate texts.

Vodafone offers a smartphone app for Androids that offers all of these things and more -- including the ability to limit access to the camera and internet. But the Safety Net app works on only a small number of new Android phones, plus a few older Nokias. The good news is that you don't need to be a Vodafone customer to use it and Safety Net is free to download.

Three offers a similar free app called KidSafe that blocks calls and texts but it runs on only a handful of older Nokia phones.

O2 offers only the ability to block texts but at least the process is relatively painless -- text UNBLOCK and the number to 50216.

You could call it a First World Problem -- when you get annoyed at your vacuum cleaner for waddling drunkenly around the house, crashing into furniture, as you you pull it after you.

But these are problems that exercise the great minds at Dyson. Thanks to 650 engineers and three years' work, apparently, the result is the DC38 (and the larger DC39) whose spherical body makes the vacuum much more manoeuvrable and capable of turning on a sixpence.

Unfortunately, it also makes it just as likely to fall over as your old vacuum. Still, Dyson's legendary suction power, effortless traversal of multiple floor surfaces and easily removable filter somewhat compensates.

The lightweight DC38 costs €380 while the more powerful DC39 goes for €400.

www.dyson.ie

Irish Independent

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