Thursday, June 20, 2019

I Really Hate Scammers

Although scammers pre-date fake news I do tend to lump them into to the same pot of total and utter arseholes.

Today I was surprised to receive a text message from TESCO with a string of questions about a supermarket with the TESCO logo.  So one must presume they are asking questions about the TESCO supermarket.   You too can play this game with me.

NB: I have a long association with Tesco not just as a customer.  I also worked as a consultant to them and hold the company in the highest regard.  It would majorly piss me off if their good name is being used in a SCAM, so I thought I had better investigate this further

NB2: This received SMS has no associated number. I would have thought TESCO a reputable UK supermarket would have a number.

We are unable to see who owns because its protected by WhoisGuard a company registered in Panama.

This site immediately redirects to

Again you can try this yourself

Please read the note at the bottom of the webpage as shown above.  It is here in text so hopefully Google will index it

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by Tesco and does not claim to represent, or own any of the trademarks, tradenames or rights associated with any of the products which are the property of their respective owners who do not own, endorse, or promote this site. All images on this site are readily available in various places on the Internet and believed to be in public domain according to the U.S. Copyright Fair Use Act (title 17, U.S. Code). *Trial offers offered on the last page require shipping and handling fees. See manufacturer’s site for details as terms vary with offers.

So right away we see that this website is nothing to do with Tesco.  And note that it refers to a US code and Tesco is a British Supermarket which has had no US presence since 2013.

Also note that it says that trial offers will require shipping and handling fees but it does not say what they are.

Okay now it asks you about supermarkets and since it is a TESCO logo above, well surely you must be answering about the TESCO supermarket, otherwise it makes no sense.

This survey is being run from and as above they don't declare who they are either being hidden behind another Panama company.

Finally I tried the quiz multiple times with positive and negative results.  Guess what, I always win a Samsung Smartphone like this

Can you believe my luck This Samsung Galaxy S10 is going to be mine for 0.00 GBP instead of over 1000.  I must be so very lucky right.  Surely there is no catch?

It appears I am almost there.  But wait they need my email address.  And strangely now the phone is going to cost 1GBP.  It was free a minute ago!

They need my email address and I know there are so many scammers out there.  I best give them a temporary email address using the website above.  Just in case they might use my main email address for nefarious purposes you understand.

I am almost going to get my Smartphone for 1 GBP when you won't believe it.  They also need my credit card and my CVV number.  But they are not going to charge it apparently.

Oh, and my address.

So wait just a minute,  they want me to give them my email, credit card number, address and CVV number.   I don't really like the sound of that.  I am just a little worried.

Perhaps I'll use a dummy number and see what happens

Surely there must be some terrible mistake.  They were not going  to take anything from my Credit Card but it just got declined.  Meaning they did after all want some money from me.

Wait, what was that small print on the webpage again?

Here is the text for you to index Mr Google:

How can I win?

In addition to the membership on, you will participate on our special promotion which gives you the chance to win a prize, as explained in the terms and conditions. Our Sweepstake is open only to those who sign up at the online sweepstakes page and who are +18 years old, as of the date of entry. The Sweepstakes must be entered by submitting an entry using the online form provided on the specific Sweepstakes site of The entry must fulfill all sweepstakes requirements, as specified, to be eligible to win a prize. Entries that are not complete or do not adhere to the rules or specifications may be disqualified at the sole discretion of This campaign is not done in collaboration with any of the named brands.

What does it cost?

The service costs 39 € per month and will be charged to your credit card invoice. As long as the user is not cancelling the subscription, is allowed to charge this amount to your credit card invoice.

The Terms are here


J. Fees and PaymentAll registrations for Https:// Premium accounts are subject to a subscription payment model. We will charge a monthly fee of € 39,90 for the usage of our services. Giveaways Online Limited , within the limits allowed by law, is not responsible for any inconveniences or damages caused by usage of the particular Payment Method, especially delays or impossibility to make payment. In such case you should complain about those services to their provider, in the manner provided by their terms and conditions. If the Payment was not accepted because of any reasons attributable to Giveaways Online Limited , please contact us via e-mail address: By the acceptance of hereby Terms of Use, you declare, that all the payments shall be made with the funds from a legitimate source.

K. Internet Access ChargesYou are responsible for any costs you incur to access the internet.

L. CancellationUser has the right to cancel the subscription at any time starting from the time the registration was made. If the user chooses to cancel the subscription during trial period the account will be cancelled at no extra cost. If the user chooses to cancel the subscription after the regular billing have started, the subscription will be cancelled immediately and the account will run out at the end of the period that have been paid for. To cancel your account, you may go to your account settings and choose cancel account. You may email us to: support@

So I am pretty sure that you will immediately be billed about 40 Euro and since it nowhere says what the Cancellation period is I am pretty sure that money is never coming back to you.

In Summary

- I got a text from the name of TESCO to my UK cellphone

- The SMS does not have any traceable number

- The referenced text includes a URL which led to a set of websites, the first not even using https which were absolutely nothing to do with Tesco according to the words on the website

- It referenced a US statute, but Tesco is a UK supermarket with no US presence

- Multiple websites were traversed all with blocked ownership and the blocking sites located in Panama or website in Columbia

- They wanted me to enter my email address, Postal Address, Credit Card Number and CVV.  It would be an awful thing if this information somehow got into the wrong hands.  Why then, people could use it to order goods and services without my permission.   

- Given that these websites are nothing to do with Tesco and they are offering me a 1000+ phone for only 1 GBP.  How exactly can they be making any money?  What is their business model?

- I think as a responsible citizen I should bring this series of websites to the attention of Tesco UK Supermarkets.  This seems like the decent thing to do.

If anybody out there has had a positive experience of can possibly say they have received anything other than trouble from this series of websites then do contact me.  Until then, I am marking this as a total and utter SCAM.  Beware, stay away, and remember, if it looks too good to be true, then you need to have proof that it is legitimate.  I see no such proof, quite the contrary.


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Breakfast Views and Travelling

It is a busy day of travelling for Marcus and Agata today.  But there is just time to relax to a familiar though recently absent view, from our breakfast table.

Indeed this is not England

In fact the weather in our old home in Lausanne continues to be amazing, although a little hot for Marcus' tastes.  The nice thing about this area regardless of temperature is that although there is rain here, it tends to be short and concentrated.  This leaves a very high DDPM  (Dry Days Per Month) count, which as any cyclist knows is a very important statistic.

Temperatures here are routinely over 20 Degrees C even at midnight, whilst in Winter you can expect Snow, certainly in the mountains around with temperatures down to about 3 degrees C  on average in town

I miss that [dry] weather :-(

But for now it is time to say a sad farewell to dear friends and continue travelling.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

A National Disgrace Indeed

Whilst Marcus and Agata are far away from our traditional home base it seems we can't escape 2 topics Brexit and American Politics, both as ever represented in detail over at Mr Twitter.

Today I was reading another instalment of comments critical to the current Major of London.  Right here and here

I am pleased to see that there was some critical & humorous responses

Despite the original hateful sentiment I would hold out my hands and offer my heart to the many kind and thoughtful Americans who not only do not hate us British but are somewhat traumatised by current political statements and actions emanating from the United States of America today.

Where is the Love?

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Now That is a View

This has been the view from my bedroom window for some days now.  It is relevant because in our new home in England we apparently have an exceptional view from our house.  It is something like this

Why am I talking about this with such ferocity?

Well, when new and established friends visit us today in our home in England one of the most common remarks is:  

Wow, what a fantastic view

My response has been and continues to be:  Sorry, not really.  And then they look confused.  To all these friends who are reading this.  Let me explain.

This is the sort of view that I have become accustomed to for the last 15 years plus from the balcony window and in the environ:

So I  would humbly like to suggest that the views are not comparable, and dear reader you can also make your own judgement too.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Short Meaningful VideoByte

Subtitle: Islands of Knowledge

My idea is a simple one.  You start off with a subscription to a frequent, reliable information source.  In my case I'll highlight the Youtube Channel: Microsoft Developer

You need to choose a channel and a distribution medium that is short and to the point, because otherwise at best you might sit thru the first longwinded lectures but soon you will probably just /not bother at all/

You watch this short (in my case) via Video Bytes.  You get informed and longer turn learn something about the subject.  This expands your total knowledge of this area  (in my case Computers) and it all helps to bring up your current expertise and hopefully understanding.

From the  MS Developer library

What is the difference between Cmd, Powershell and Bash?

Childhood Dreams and Aspirations

Trevor Noah: Childhood Dreams

In 2019 we seem to live in a world of entitlement from all sides rich and poor.

And so it was refreshing to hear a 90 second between the scenes soundbite from Trevor Noah.  This South African Comedian has earnt my respect for so many years now.

If you had to ask me who would do a better job of leading the Americn public, Trevor or the current self proclaimed 'Extremely Stable Genius' I know who I would vote for.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
Trevor Noah 2018

Friday, June 14, 2019

Shopping Locally at Budgens

It is quite amusing to Marcus that in the UK the number of Post Offices especially in rural areas has been thinned to almost  zero.

Well amusing is perhaps completely the wrong adjective.

Because in 2019 as the Internet pervades practically all aspects of our shopping experiences, the number of goods posted or delivered to you has risen exponentially.  And there has been a steady rise in the need to use the Post Office (or similar) to return goods too.  In 2019 we make frequent use of the Post Office.

The Opening Hours

And so yes, you will notice that Budgens is open from 07.00 to 22.00 and even open on Sunday 10.00 to 16.00  And guess what this means the Post Office is open then too.  Compare that with the opening hours for the local Alcester Post Office.  There is no comparison!

So Budgens is now our firm favourite for all things Post Office.

Ying and Yang

 Like any Supermarket they have special Offers

 People Chugging outside asking for money

 And for Budgens Bidford a Car Park that has never been found to be full.

So despite the average prices I feel inclined to throw our local Bidford branch of Budgens business, based soley on their unbelievably good Post Office Service.

In Conclusion Budgens is now our default Post Office to all things postal and we make it our thankful local choice for top up shopping.  These are the sort of compromises you make whilst living in the UK countryside.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Xtrons PB78ATTIP Replacement Radio for Audi TT 8J

Video review of Audi TT 8J Stereo Replacement

Whilst the video review above explains the many wonderful features of the replacement stereo that we have installed into our Audi TT, generation 8J, I suggest that you read on.

Some Background
Going back only say 5 years we lived in a time when many Auto manufacturers sought to really extract a pound of flesh or in our case almost 2K GBP  (2000 British pounds equivalent!!) for a mere car stereo.

How could they charge so much?

Well first; the unit must fit into a specially sized double DIN hole in the dashboard.  Also it must precisely interface with the Control Area Network BUS CANBUS electronics to be compatible with steering wheel controls and other gizmos already present in the car.  So third party manufacturers have an uphill struggle to physically and then electronically make anything compatible.

We have stuck with out 5 year old, exorbitantly priced unit as long as we could, but continued our search for a replacement, and in particular one that has Internet connectivity

An Internet Stereo
Our dream, or perhaps desire is to have a Car stereo unit with full Internet connectivity via some 4G connection and applications on the radio, example Google Maps, or say Spotify that could take full advantage of this.

Xtrons PB78ATTIP

Xtrons is a Hong Kong company which has a British sales office and the TTIP unit is the third radio we have bought from them because there have been extensive compatibility problems the previous 2 different units and even this unit until somebody other than Xtrons solved the problem.

This unit fits perfectly into an Audi TT, generation 8J car and it is a better electrical fit if you have the BOSE amplifier installed  (otherwise you need to order some extra electronics)

Getting Past the Bug
The initial 2 different radios ordered and even this one came with a fatal flaw.

Whilst the radio worked, every Android application apart from the supplied radio app was unable to play any sound.  It took Xtrons 3 months not to solve the problem but eventually the Audi TT user forum came to the rescue with a workaround and this is it:

Enter the Factory Menu (Google 3 digit password) and set the canbus to 56.  After rebooting your Android applications that you might install e.g. Youtube or VLC will be able to output sound to the Bose Amplifier and thence to your speakers.

Note that whatever the canbus setting, the volume control and radio controls on the steering wheel do not work with the TTIP model.  The chances of Xtrons ever fixing this are zero.  

Some Photos

 Connectors on the back

SD card slot #1

 I have a 64GB micro SD card full of audio and video here

 In the factory menu other low level changes can be made

Example of an Android application that I installed: Audible

Remind me, What is this Again

So this is a physically plug compatible replacement for any Audi TT 8J series that will swap out your dumb radio and install a Radio with a DVD player  (which I will never use!) and running Android 8 on an 8 core processor with 4GB RAM on which you can install any Android application.

And, as I'll show you we now have full Internet connectivity not via a mobile phone Hotspot but by a permanent dongle.

The ability to have a full time Internet connection enables us  to Google Maps for navigation, and that is aware via the Internet of traffic issues and suggests auto rerouting and a host of features.  Recently Maps added speed cameras, so now that is just another standard facility that has become available.  It's wonderful!

Getting an Internet Connection

A first attempt can be made via a mobile Hotspot initiated from your Smartphone.  Here on entry to the car you switch on your Hotspot, which broadcasts a WiFi SSID and you use the Xtrons WiFi to connect to that.

This works but turns out to be a little clumsy.  Every time you enter and exit the car you need to turn on your Hotspot.  It would be much better with an independent connection.
Using a Huawei K3772 plugged into one of the 3 USB ports, the Android Operating System will recognise the Internet Dongle and automatically use it as an Internet Source.

In the UK, as great fans of the 3 Network we ordered the 24 month validity, 24GB SIM for 60 GBP

User Report +2 Months

I have waited almost 2 months to make this report so I can accurately access how wonderful or not the unit is.  Here we go:

+ It runs Android 8.1.  They do a new Android 9.0 unit but it seems to have inferior hardware so I'm not sure it would be superior  (screen resolution is better apparently, but hey, this unit is fine!)

+ I can install any Android app I would like and use it as normal.  This is the #1 sellout feature and it is awesome.  I mean Audible, Spotify, Youtube, VLC, BBC iPlayer.  Without this feature the unit would be just meh.

+ We use Google Maps for navigation and programmed the NAVI hardware button to jump straight there

+ You can change the Android Launcher to whatever you want but we kept the supplied launcher and put all the apps we use regally on the first page

+ We use VLC to play movies and Audio that we put onto the micro SD card.  Movies wont play whilst in motion unless you change something in factory settings.  Now my passenger can watch a movie if they want to at any time.  Movies and Audio plays faultlessly without stuttering and look great on the display.

+ There is phone integration and a microphone on the top left of the unit

+ EasyConnect is some software that will mirror the phone display and to get the sound we use a concurrent Bluetooth connection.   Thought this sounds good in practise but we don't use it much.  Instead since the radio has its own Internet and Android Play store connection we'd rather install the app we might mirror directly onto the radio

+ A2DP application allows you to send any Smartphone output to the Xtrons amplifier and speakers

+ As a security measure we created a separate Gmail userid and hence playstore login.  This is because if you had logged onto the Xtrons using your principal Gmail userid, then if your car is stolen the thief will have access to all your emails. That would be disasterous.  Remember you just power the unit on and there is no userid and password to logon.   

--- Glitches.  Many times applications crash, or are somewhat slow, or stutter.  This could be a slow Internet connection, but it's more likely some Android gremlin and Xtrons does not send out firmware updates  (ever to our knowledge).  So when you get the unit, the OS you get is the one you will be living with for all time.

Despite some glitches in operational speed we really love this unit.  Its cost is about 250 GBP and I rate this as a wonderful bargain especially when I consider Audi made me pay almost 2000 GBP for the original radio, which had DVD based Satellite Navigation, but not even an Auxiliary Audio input connection.

We are most pleased and recommend this Xtrons PB78ATTIP unit to Audi TT,  8J owners.


Xtrons PB78ATTIP