Our technology editor answers your trickiest tech problems
Question I want to give my 10-year-old god-daughter a device that allows her to play Spotify music but not use it for YouTube or the rest of the internet. Is there something that can do this? — Josephine Quinlan
Not specifically, no. Spotify, if that’s the service you want, must connect to the internet to work. You can download songs from it, but only if the device can occasionally check you’re still a paying customer (by going online).
There is a possible workaround, though. You could get a cheap Android phone, like Alcatel’s 1B (€95 at Argos), and use the Android parental controls to block access to things like YouTube, Google, internet browsers, social media apps and the Play Store. That way, your god-daughter can still use Spotify without being able to use it for the things most kids use phones for.
If you’re struggling to set this up, there are some apps that can help, such as Qustodio.
Recommendation: Alcatel 1B (€95)
I am having problems sleeping at night since noisy neighbours moved into the apartment above me. I have tried the conventional ear plugs but to no avail. Could you recommend some up-to-date ones.
— D Ryan
This is a tough one. I have used small rubber ear plugs, but there are times when they’re just not enough.
So far as tech goes, there’s no gadget that shuts out more noise than a tightly inserted earplug: even the best noise-cancelling headphones will only match it.
However, there is a tech solution I employ that improves the situation: white noise. Any pair of earbuds or headphones, attached or wirelessly connected to your phone or a laptop, will do this. Just go to YouTube or Spotify and search for ‘white noise’.
You’ll get dozens of options, from fans to wind to rain to aeroplane simulation.
In most cases, the tracks last for several hours. If you don’t have a pair of earbuds that are comfortable, a compromise solution is a speaker placed right beside your bed.
This set-up won’t suit everyone, but this ‘white noise’ is better than loud neighbours.
I travelled to the UK on the ferry from Rosslare in June. Even though I turned off roaming, I was billed €35 by Three for Wi-Fi, which was itemised as 2MB of data. I can’t find any reference on Three’s website to this policy. I have been a customer with Three since the late 1990s through O2. I am paying jointly for two phones and 5G broadband. I have never missed a payment but feel that there is something wrong when they can charge a 77-year-old pensioner €35 without any warning of these charges.
— Michael O’Byrne
I looked into this with Three. The company said that it uses a maritime satellite service to allow its customers to roam while they are at sea if needed.
These services, it added, are not included in EU roaming regulations as satellites are used to provide the service.
Three says that you should have received an SMS (text) message telling you of these maritime roaming rates. However, the company agreed to apply a credit to your account as a “goodwill gesture” given the circumstances.
The company said: “Any customer who is unsure about their roaming allowances should contact their customer care team before they travel for the best advice specific to their destination.”
Email your questions to email@example.com
Nokia 8210 4G
This is what we would best describe as a high-end version of an old-fashioned ‘feature’ phone. In other words, it’s a traditional Nokia with a 2.8-inch colour screen, 4G and basic versions of messaging apps like WhatsApp. It goes on sale in Ireland at the end of next month.
Huawei Sound Joy
Summer means more time spent in the back garden, at the beach or in the park. If you’re the type who likes to bring the music, Huawei’s new portable (waterproof) wireless speaker has a long battery life and fairly decent audio quality. You can also use it as a power source for anyone whose phone is running low.