Fidget Spinners are on the way out..

A street trader on Kyle Street in Cork was selling two “classic” fidget spinners for five euro last weekend. You can still buy fancy “gold” or LED ones at inflated prices but every bargain basement or novelty store has buckets of them to sell. My son is still obsessed with his ones, but I’ll give it a week or two before they’re gathering dust in a corner along with his collection of multi-coloured loom bands.

I’m just noting this here for future me when I wonder, “what year were fidget spinners all the rage?” I still remember the early 90s as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles years.

Irish car insurance is going up because …

The large number of third party claims last year is driving up car insurance premiums in Ireland apparently. At least that’s what the friendly lady at 123.ie told me. They then charged me an extra €196 for cover over last year. Reducing the insured value of my car increased the premium!

Anyway, there may be a law enacted by the end of the year to force insurance companies to tell you why your insurance is going up. It might not tell you much as the current rise in prices might be due to Setanta Insurance going under a few years ago but I don’t think it’s as simple as that.

RSA, who provide motor insurance for 123.ie beat expectations when they announced their profits for 2016. That’s the British arm of the company however.

Operating profit for the year came in at £655m, compared with a company-supplied consensus forecast of £626m.

Unfortunately, the Irish section isn’t doing so well..

Meanwhile, the former chief financial officer of RSA’s Irish business was yesterday fined £35,000 and banned for three years by Britain’s accounting watchdog.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) said it had fined Rory O’Connor and banned him for three years from the accounting profession for approving “materially inaccurate” financial statements.

Mr O’Connor also agreed to pay £18,000 towards the watchdog’s legal costs.

RSA said in 2014 that a review of its businesses found that the accounting irregularities were confined to its Irish business, where there had been “inappropriate collaboration” among a small number of executives in Ireland.

It was forced to inject £200m into its Irish business at the time and RSA Insurance Ireland said yesterday it has strengthened its control framework since 2013.

They’ve also had to set aside £50m “to cover the costs of accidents in 2014 and 2015” according to this Irish Times article

RSA Insurance Ireland’s operating loss widened by 62 per cent last year after the country’s once-largest provider of motor and property coverage was forced to set aside £50 million (€59.1 million) of reserves to cover the costs of accidents in 2014 and 2015.
The local subsidiary of London-listed RSA Group posted a £42 million full-year loss compared with a £26 million loss for 2015. The performance was described by the parent as “disappointing”, especially as it had returned last year to writing new business on a profitable basis, as it and the wider industry hiked rates.

We shopped around, and rates from other insurers were comparable. Roll on the electrification of cars and autonomous driving!

Meteor and Three Won’t “Roam Like Home” in the EU but I’m ok with that

As reported in the Independent, it seems that Meteor and Three have found a loophole in EU legislation to get rid of mobile roaming charges. Of the Irish telecoms companies, only Vodafone “is publicly saying that it will let customers use every bit of data abroad that they’re entitled to at home”.

Concerned, I contacted @Meteor_Mobile on Twitter and received a response within minutes. If you have a Meteor bill pay plan you’ll get “up to 5GB of roaming data”. Pay as you go customers must still buy a roaming add-on. The new limits will be introduced early in the summer so the roaming page will be updated then I expect.

It’s disappointing for PAYG customers, but as a PAYG customer I’m willing to stay with Meteor because their monthly cost is relatively low. I rarely make phone calls or send SMS texts and I make heavy use of their 7.5GB data offer for €10 a month. It wouldn’t be worth my while upgrading to a bill pay plan. I’d need to spend €20/month €25/month to get that amount of data or more and the call minutes and texts would go to waste. 1GB of roaming data is €14.99 for PAYG customers, or I have the option of buying a sim locally for even better value.

Moving to Vodafone isn’t really an option either. The closest offer is still twice as expensive, as I wouldn’t use the €10 credit left in the account each month.

If I was travelling around the EU every month I’d certainly upgrade to a bill pay plan but the monthly cost of a PAYG data plan is a no-brainer. It’s better value for my usage.

Edit: a few hours after I posted this the European Commission warned Irish mobile operators that there wasn’t any loophole.
I couldn’t find any mention of PAYG customers specifically but this BT PDF makes no distinction between bill pay and PAYG customers. (One wonders what will happen there when BREXIT happens.)

This means BT One Phone customer’s will begin to see their UK allowance(s) decremented when they are Roaming inside the EU. If a customer has used up all their UK allowance they will begin to be charged their normal UK PAYG/Out of bundle or Overage rate while roaming inside the European Union.

Edit on June 12th: Meteor have updated their roaming page. PrePay (PAYG) users who pay €10 for 7.5GB of data at home will have 2.1GB of roaming data which is super!

Forever McDonalds

Google Photos created an animation from a number of photos I made outside the McDonalds in Douglas last year around this time of the year.

Aerial Ireland

A tourist, Tim Viltz, travelling through Ireland shows us just how beautiful our country is in this video created from drone footage shot by a Phantom 4. I don’t recognise most of the locations though. Only one way to fix that, travel!

Via Reddit.

Off travelling again, 2016 edition

The Automattic Grand Meetup starts tomorrow so I’m in Cork Airport waiting for my flight to London.

The weird thing about timezones means I leave here in the morning and get to Vancouver in the morning. And it’s still the same day. That also means I need to stay awake so much longer. 

“Today” is going to be a long day. Zzzz.

When is Android Pay coming to Ireland?

I’ll admit I haven’t been too excited about the whole “paying for things with my phone” hype. I think I may have used a contactless terminal in Mc Donalds once. But there was a system update for my Galaxy S7 Edge yesterday and early this morning I noticed a new application, Android Pay. Despite the early hour I quickly went through the setup process but adding the credit card from my Google account brought me to this screen:

Android Pay

Various searches on Google haven’t thrown up anything useful or hopeful. It’s anyone’s guess when Android Pay will go live here. Anyone know?

Irish Water Phishing Emails

I must have been half asleep when I clicked the link in this email, but Gmail hadn’t caught it yet even though it’s an obvious phishing attempt, so be warned if you get an email warning of “urgent maintenance” of your account. Then again, it’s probably a bad site to phish, since most people are boycotting them. I bet there’ll be people on Facebook complaining that they were sent these emails, even though they’re protesting it! 🙂

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 10.55.45

The from address is at Telefonica, and the login link goes to a page at 3i6e5.16mb.com which is a convincing Irish Water login page, looking very like the original.

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 10.58.40

Opening both pages in two tabs and switching between them shows no jumps in spacing or changes at all. Irish Water haven’t been around that long either so it’s not as if we’re all familiar with how they compose their email correspondence. Mark as spam and don’t let the bad guys win.

Where has the Stars Wars Plane been?

Photo by: Donncha O Caoimh (https://inphotos.org)

G-POWD, the Boeing 767 has been around Europe in the last few days. I’d like to think they were collecting the crew of the new Star Wars movie, like an international flying tour bus, but it’s probably just the normal flying patterns of a private company flying their Jumbo around the continent.

G-POWD