Thursday, 30 April 2009

“Failed to play test tone”, no sound on Vista – troubleshooting

Has your Windows Vista computer suddenly gone silent - no sound comes out of your speakers, “Failed to play test tone” appears when you try to test your speakers? (e.g. after upgrading to Vista). Well, you’re not alone.

If you’ve suddenly lost sound / audio support on your Vista PC, this post contains a step by step pictorial guide for non-techies on some troubleshooting tips to try.

Different issues could give rise to this annoyance, e.g. a new program that was installed. So this post will help you only if your problem was caused by certain specific issues – but I hope the troubleshooting ideas suggested below will help you figure out why your system’s sound has stopped working and, more importantly, help find the solution to fix it!

A. How to restart Windows Audio after “Failed to play test tone”

This is the solution which finally worked for me to restore audio output on my computer, in case this tip helps someone else. I also found that the fix wasn’t just temporary for me – it’s survived several restarts / reboots since.

How to try this fix: go to the start menu and in the “Start Search” box type in the following (then hit Enter): services.msc


In the Services window that opens up, scroll down till you find “Windows Audio”. Leftclick once on it to highlight it, then rightclick on it and choose Restart:


Then close the Services window and check to see if your sound is now working again.

B. Still no sound coming out? - other troubleshooting things to try

Some preliminary things to check if no sound is coming out of your computer speakers (yes, some of them are obvious, but often it’s the obvious things that can catch people out, including me!).

1. Volume control – muted?

Did someone mute your speaker volume?

To check this, leftclick the speaker icon in your system tray (bottom right hand of the screen) and check to see if your Speakers have Mute on (red line through it, see below).vol

If so, just click that icon and then the Mute icon (outlined in red below) to turn mute off! And obviously you should also check the volume slider to see that the volume level is high enough.unmute

2. How to get to the Sound window

Most things to check are in the Sound window.

How to open the Sound window? There are several ways to get this up.

Absolute quickest way: click the Start menu (bottom left Windows icon), in the Start Search box type the following then hit Enter: mmsys.cpl

Alternative way to get to the Sound window: Go to the Start menu, type in the Start Search box: sound
Then doubleclick the “Sound” item (with the speaker icon against it).


Visual mouse way: rightclick on the volume / speaker icon in your system tray, bottom right (outlined in red below) and pick Playback Devices to bring up the Sound window:


3. Are your speakers the selected sound output device?

Maybe the sound somehow got set to come out of your headphones instead of your speakers.

To check this, in the Sound window go to the Playback tab.

In the Playback tab, is there a tick (white on green circle) against your speakers? If not, click to select Speakers and then click Set Default and OK.


4. Try to play the test tone; changing default format

To try playing the test tone, in the Sound window’s Playback tab highlight Speakers by leftclicking once on it, then click Properties:


In the Properties window, go to the Advanced tab and then click on the Test button outlined in red below, to see if you can hear the test tone (if you don’t hear it try my solution at A above!):

sound4Some people got the “no more sound” problem after changing the Default format in the dropdown list to the left of the Test button in the pic above.

If you did that, try checking that dropdown list. Are there duplicate entries? If so, try the Microsoft hotfix. Or just try changing the format back to what it was, and that may be enough to fix it (possibly after a reboot).

5. Sound effects?

Another fix which seems to have worked for some people (it didn’t for me) is to do with sound effects.

While you’re in the Speaker prosperties (see 4 above as to how to get there), go to the Enhancements tab.

Clicking to check (i.e. put a tick in) the “Disable all sound effects” box (and then clicking OK) seems to have sorted out the problem for some people:


Sound levels. Should be the same as B.1, but while in Speaker Properties you could also go to the Levels tab and double check that the sliders are at the right levels to be heard, i.e. it’s not just that the sound output for your speakers is too quiet or has been set to 0. If so, just move the slider to a better position (like 98) and OK it:


6. Try the Windows sounds too

Back in the Sound window, you should also check to see if the system sounds are audible even if e.g. MP3s or streaming audio from webpages etc can’t be heard.

If so, that’s a clue that maybe it’s a particular program like Windows Media Player that’s up the spout, rather than Windows generally, and you’ll have to find a solution for that particular program.

To check this, go to the Sounds tab and click on one of the items that has a speaker icon against it (e.g. Asterisk) then click the Test button


7. Try several other applications and devices

Is sound missing only in one application (e.g. Windows Media Player), or everything? Try several programs e.g. if you can’t hear an MP3, trying playing it using different applications.

If it’s only inaudible in one program, that suggests it’s a problem with that one bit of software and you may need to reinstall it or try other fixes specific to that program.

For instance, egg on face time here but after a YouTube change a few months ago I lost all sound. Then found that it was only because the YouTube volume level slider (see below) had somehow defaulted to zero on my system! When I moved the slider up, that fixed it.


Also, try selecting other audio devices (e.g. headset), see 3 above, and if there’s sound from those but not your speakers, then that points to an issue with your speakers, whether hardware (they’re bust!) or software (drivers etc). To check the hardware issue, obviously you can try connecting the speakers e.g. to the headphones or line out of your MP3 player / iPod, and see if any sound comes out of the speakers then.

8. Update your sound card drivers

Worse comes to comes, try updating your sound card drivers (how is beyond the scope of this blog post as it depends on your sound card).

Most people seem to suggest this as the first thing to try, but for me it would be the last as the others are easier to do and less drastic, and may well work.

9. Desperation time?

While searching for a solution to my own issue I found some suggestions that deleting a particular registry entry and then rebooting might work (HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Ole\DefaultAccessPermission). But I’ve not tried it so if you’re desperate enough to have a go, it’s entirely at your own risk and you should make sure you backup your registry first just in case it makes things worse!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Marketing, customer service: why "little people" should matter to brands

Leona Helmsley famously said, "Only the little people pay taxes".

Too many PR / marketing / customer service departments seem to share a similar mantra:
"The little people don't count, so they don't merit a decent level of service".

This attitude is shortsighted and counter-productive. You may think someone is "little people" because they're a private individual consumer - they're not a large corporation, so why should you bother to give them reasonable service, or even the time of day?

Well, that attitude may backfire on you.

Here's a story from personal experience.

Google seem to be really trying to make a push into enterprise these days, offering productivity solutions for business with Google Apps etc and a dedicated Enterprise blog.

Now a few years back, I was directly responsible for acquiring an enterprise search solution for my company. Then, Google's enterprise search product was in its infancy, but I was a big Google fan (still am).

The powers that be were considering what was then more established software and, knowing how conservative they were, I felt I ought to look into Google's enterprise product in more detail before I formally brought it up with them.

So, on the side, in my own time and from my personal rather than corporate email address, I tried to contact Google. I needed to check compatibility with my company's document management system, as there would be no point even mentioning Google to my superiors if Google's product (which is now known as the Google Search Appliance) couldn't hook into that.

Guess what? Google never replied to my email. So I tried again. Still no reply.

So I gave up trying to contact Google.

My company acquired another product instead, on which it still spends a fair amount of money on subscription and support every year, and that was a lost opportunity for Google to add to its Google Enterprise customers list a large multinational which, to this day, still doesn't use any Google-originated enterprise products.

(Before anyone tries to send me eager marketing emails, please note that I'm no longer in that position. I don't specify software or hardware or have any say in their procurement now, so please don't spam me!)

Why the little people matter

So, this is why the little people matter, and why they should be courted and considered just as much as the supposedly "big" customer:

1. The "little person" might not actually be a little person - they might be an important person, you just don't know it (yet).

E.g. they could be a CEO of a big corporation, looking to buy something in a personal capacity.

Or a journalist, pretending to be a little person to check how you treat average consumers.

Or someone in charge of procurement for a big outfit, who again wants to test what your customer service is like for the anonymous user.

Or they could be a CEO or corporate buyer who just doesn't want to be targeted for marketing calls or emails just because they've made one initial enquiry, so for their preliminary investigations they've deliberately just used a personal or disposable email address.

2. The "little person" might have influence over someone who does "matter".

Their partner or close family member or best friend could be an important CEO, purchaser, journalist etc.

You just don't know if that could be the case.

3. The "little person" could have influence over public opinion.

Think of what happened famously with Dell, etc: your enquirer could be a journalist, a well known blogger, or just someone who tells all their friends and family, Facebook contacts etc or posts a funny viral video on YouTube about how badly you treated them - and the damage to your reputation could spread fast and be hard to contain.

4. Don't forget the "reverse halo effect": a single bad experience can bias a person against a brand for life.

And they can similarly spread that negative view to all their friends, family, the world. (With thanks to Dirk for bringing the phrase to my attention.)

As an illustration of the reverse halo effect, again from personal experience, I now refuse to buy any Dyson vacuum cleaners or indeed any of their other products.

When I first got one of Dyson's bagless vacuum cleaners a few years back, I loved it. Then I had to buy a replacement filter, but I just couldn't get to fit. It wasn't just me - a big, strong, clever friend also tried and tried and tried (with much cursing), and couldn't get it to fit either.

But when I called Dyson customer service about it they were downright rude, saying in quite an offensive way that it was my fault, my stupidity, it certainly wasn't the filter, and needless to say offering me no help whatsoever in getting it to fit.

Result: the vacuum cleaner went to the dump (OK OK don't hit me, nowadays I'd offer it on Freecycle!), and that I talk Dyson down whenever I can. Like now. And previously.

Because Dyson weren't willing to exert themselves to be halfway polite to a customer who needed help, and were (presumably) also too mean to fork out about £5 to send out a working replacement filter, they turned a hitherto loyal, enthusiastic customer into a major detractor.

I really don't care how innovative, efficient or cost-effective their products may be; I'm just not going to support any brand which allows their employees to take that kind of attitude to its paying customers.

Another, slightly different example: as regular readers know I often cover consumer issues in comms, but following a change in personnel (and the inevitable "rebranding", not for the better) the Communications Consumer Panel (formerly the Ofcom Consume Panel) no longer reply to my emails.

Clearly a blogger whose blog receives over 3000 unique visitors per day on average and is syndicated through Newstex is "little people", not worthy of an acknowledgement never mind a reply. The Panel are so high profile (not!) that they don't even have a page on Wikipedia. Ignoring bloggers will certainly help them there, won't it. And yep, it's very unlikely that ACE will contact them again for their views on anything.

Good practices

There's another reason to treat the "little person" well, of course: it's just good practice to provide a certain base level of courteous, helpful service to your customers or potential customers.

But that really should be a given.

Cynically, I think it's more productive to focus on the stick rather than the carrot of "good practice".

So why am I posting this anyway?

In a recent series of pre-sales enquiries (for a tech product, what else), I was asked whether I was looking to buy for myself - or was I a corporate buyer?

I'm convinced that the moment I replied "For myself", my query was moved to the slow lane.

I did get a reply eventually, a few weeks later. But before they had classified me as "not corporate", the reply had taken just 2 days.

Now I don't know what goes on at corporations behind the scenes, so I've no idea if (in the Google example) ignored my emails because I seemed to be an individual asking on my own behalf, or if there was in fact some other reason (email glitches? though two or three glitches is a bit of a coincidence...).

Similarly, I don't know if in the other example I mentioned they really did slow-track me because I said I wasn't a corporate buyer, or because they had some other, entirely legitimate, reason.

But I do know that from a business point of view, it really isn't a good idea to make a habit of ignoring or giving below par service to a potential customer just because you think they're little people.

After all, you don't know what goes on with them either, behind the scenes. They may really be a Ms Big, or be able to influence a Mr Big or Jo Public. Or just be potentially a very good customer and source of revenue, if you only want to think in terms of dollars or pounds.

A friend started off working on the sales floor of a very well known London department store. A consummate salesperson as well as manager, my friend always took great care with purchasers of even small items in the store. As a result, my friend got repeat business. The young woman with whom my friend painstakingly spent time over the sale of a single handkerchief as a gift would reappear a few weeks later with family in tow to buy furniture and household accessories galore, specifically seeking out my friend to assist with those purchases. My friend is now very senior management, and no surprises there.

Which goes to show, it surely pays to provide a minimum decent standard of service to all your potential customers, whatever their presumed status or transactions.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Ironkey: secure USB stick, surfing? - review

This is a review of the Ironkey Personal secure USB flash drive.

Many people use USB sticks or memory sticks, also called USB keys, thumb drives, flash drives and the like, for portable storage or transport of data from computers.

But they can be used to store confidential or sensitive information, e.g. copied from government databases by government employees, and are unfortunately all too easy to lose or steal (e.g. with info on suspected terrorists, vehicles of interest to the police, RAF personnel and NHS patient’s medical/personal details) - yet often they are allowed by UK government departments to be used unencrypted, despite a few recent improvements.

Is something like an Ironkey secure memory stick the answer?

It’s supposed to work on Mac and Linux as well as Windows (just for encrypted storage), and I bought an Ironkey Personal unit about a year ago, because it claimed to offer:

  1. hardware-based encryption of the files on the stick (using AES encryption) with military-grade waterproofing / shock resistance, and
  2. secure surfing with Portable Firefox (what they call “internet protection” – it’s only “free” i.e. included in the original price for a year; after that you have to pay an ongoing subscription).

It certainly cost enough, at an eye-watering £80. Well OK, it cost less than a Ferrari, granted, but considering that you can get USB drives with far greater capacity for under a tenner, you want to be sure you’re getting your money’s worth. And in my case, I don’t think I did.


My view? Unless perhaps you’re a government department, don’t buy an Ironkey - except maybe for encrypted storage of any sensitive passwords (Personal or Enterprise versions) or files (Basic version) you might want to carry around with you (and even then, you can encrypt files or store passwords securely on a normal price USB thumb drive for free using the excellent open source TrueCrypt software, although it seems you need administrator rights on the computer you plug it into – I’ve not used TrueCrypt enough, myself, and will report further when I have).

I should say that I was also frustrated that I’d bought the Ironkey on the basis that they’d promised Linux support would be forthcoming. New models released just after I bought mine did support Linux, but it took Ironkey forever to roll out upgrades enabling existing units to support Linux.

Secure web browsing?

I’d wanted to use the Ironkey for secure surfing too, e.g. plugging it into a public computer in a public library or internet cafe and then surfing the web via portable Firefox i the unit, but in my view it wasn’t fit for that purpose because:

  1. At least in all the London libraries / cafes I tried, it doesn’t work – they lock things down so you can’t use Portable Firefox on the Ironkey
  2. The point of security is, well, security. Browsers ought to be upgraded as and when browser security updates are issued. If Ironkey really cared about security they would immediately provide upgrades for the browsers built into their units as soon as security updates were made available. But for months after major Firefox security upgrades were released last year, you couldn’t download security upgrades for the browser on the Ironkey. Maybe you can now, but I’ve stopped asking Ironkey or looking on Ironkey’s site. I can’t use the browser anyway, see the previous point.

Also, their secure web sessions are based on but claimed to be much faster than Tor – being routed through Ironkey’s own computers, hence the periodic subscription fee. Whether you trust the security and anonymity of things going through their routers (they’re headquartered in California) is of course up to you.


For those interested (but really I’d suggest you save your money), the Ironkey:

  1. comes in a nice strong shiny metal case
  2. requires a password to access its contents, and physically “self destructs” internally if the wrong password is tried too many times
  3. (Personal and Enterprise editions only) includes a password manager which enters your saved passwords for you (make sure you’re keylogger free first!) – that’s actually the only use I’d see for it, myself
  4. (Personal and Enterprise editions) lets you backup your passwords to the Ironkey site, and yes I know, you have to trust how they say it works
  5. enables some portable applications to be run from the drive.

See their FAQs for more info, and their user guide for Personal, and comparative chart of their 3 models (Enterprise, Personal, Basic).

Friday, 10 April 2009

Convert / save Word etc files to PDF free, with password protection, using PDF Creator

Here's a tip / howto / review: the free open source PDF Creator is a Windows program which lets you create Adobe Portable Document Format PDF files from any file that you can print – Word documents, Powerpoint slides, JPEG images etc (although note that this program doesn't work so well e.g. with Webpages).

If you wish, you can also require a password to be entered in order to open the PDF file which you create. While no password is guaranteed to be 100% safe and secure, obviously if you're sending a sensitive or confidential document e.g. by email, or storing it on a portable USB drive that you're carrying around which might get lost or stolen, it's probably a good idea to password protect it for security reasons.

Want to password protect an existing PDF file? No problem, this useful tool will do that too.

I'd previously blogged about how you can use the free OpenOffice software to create PDF files from Word .doc or other word processing documents.

PDF Creator also does that, and in addition lets you password protect the PDF files you create, if you wish.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed it, to use it:

  1. Open the document that you want to convert or export to PDF (which could be a Word document or even an existing PDF file), and choose Print.

  2. In the dropdown list of printers, pick PDF Creator instead of your normal printer:

  3. Click Properties just to check the settings are what you want, and change them if necessary:

  4. Then hit OK.

  5. Note that you may need to switch to the PDF Creator window as it may open just in the background, so look for it:

  6. Change the Document Title if you wish, but don’t hit Save yet…

  7. If you want to add password protection, you need to take some extra steps – click Options, outlined in red above, and you’ll get this window:

  8. Now here’s the tricky non-obvious bit – you need to click on Formats, on the left, outlined in red in the pic above

  9. Then make sure you’ve clicked on “PDF” on the left (outlined in red below), so that it says “Adobe PDF Format” at the top on the right; then click the Security tab (again outlined in red:

  10. Now look at the Passwords section in the Security tab (again outlined in red above), and tick the boxes you want e.g. “Password required to open document”, or “Password required to change permissions and passwords”. Usually the first one alone is enough.

  11. Then click Save to go back to the PDF Creator window shown in step 5 above.

  12. At this point, you can now click Save (or Email as you wish – in which case at the end of the process it’ll open your default email program with a new email ready with your newly-created PDF file already attached to it). Then give it a filename and choose a location to save it to, and click Save again.

  13. If you had ticked to add password protection previously in step 10, a box will now pop up asking you to enter the password you want - possibly more than one set of passwords (user and owner), if you'd ticked both password boxes in step 10. Enter the desired password here, which you’ll have to repeat in case of typing errors (though it doesn't have to be the same for both User and Owner, and it doesn't have to be different, it's really up to you). Then click OK. (Note that if you choose Cancel instead of OK, it will still create the PDF – just without any password protection.)

And that’s it. Anyone who tries to open the PDF file you created will have to enter the password first:

If you want to password protect all PDFs you create in this way as standard, you can do the following:

  • open PDF Creator itself (search for PDFCreator via your Start menu if necessary)
  • go to menu Printer, and choose Options

  • then do steps 8 to 11.
  • (If you later want to create a PDF document without password protection, just change that bit in the Options, see step 7 above).

    Tuesday, 7 April 2009

    Carnival of the Mobilists #168 - the best of mobile blogging

    Number 168 of the weekly blog carnival the Carnival of the Mobilists is now up at mjelly, so check it out for links to interesting posts about things mobile during the previous week.

    I've only had blog posts mentioned in this Carnival twice before (mobileCamp write-up and my review of the UrbanTool hipHolster for mobiles/gadgets), so thanks to mjelly for including my post Save money calling 0870, 0845, 0800 on iPhone / G1 : review!

    (See my previous post for more on blog carnivals, for anyone not familiar with the concept.)

    Saturday, 4 April 2009

    Blogger: eeyore is cute!

    As Kirk points out (and Blogger acknowledged), some users of Google's Blogger who publish via FTP have been seeing a new post that says "eeyore is cute!" (awww, yeah, see the pic above) - and some non-FTP users who chose to get post confirmation emails may also have got an email about a test "eeyore is cute!" post.

    His guess as to what happened was correct: "An internal load testing at Blogger somehow got some wires crossed that let their test post get published on some blogs."

    Here's a screenshots of one of the affected blogs:

    So not to worry, if you got that post or email your blog hasn't been hacked, it was just an internal mixup at Google, all you have to do is republish your blog and that'll fix it. Clearly there are Pooh fans at Google!

    Would be even funnier if this started happening on 1 April!

    Note: low resolution Eeyore pic downloaded from Wikipedia, made even smaller and displayed on the same basis i.e. believed to be fair use; but if the owner disagrees please let me know.

    Thursday, 2 April 2009

    Save money calling 0870, 0845, 0800 on iPhone / G1 : review

    (From Simon’s iPhone screenshots on Flickr, with his permission)


    If you use an iPhone or G1 mobile phone in the UK, here’s how to potentially save lots of money when calling non-geographic 0870, 0845 or 0800 numbers from your cellphone (for which the mobile network operators normally charge you extra, on top of your usual tariff / inclusive minutes).

    Just get yourself Simon Maddox’s free 0870 app. Simon has saved UK consumers who used his software over £20,000 in total between November 2008 and March 2009 – the man deserves a consumers’ award! See all of Simon’s iPhone 0870 screenshots.

    The app saves you money by automatically getting you the alternative geographic telephone number (if available), which should be included within your contract minutes.

    One thing to watch: if there’s no geographic number available, at the moment it’ll ring the 08 number anyway, trying to get the cheapest option. But you can stop it from completing the call before they pick up, in that case - just end the call when you see that it's still calling an 08 number.

    How to get the 0870 app

    1. G1 Android – go to the Android Market via the icon on your phone; scroll down the screen and select Search, and search for “0870”. Install it and open / enable it once installed by opening the app up then tapping on it. (Tap again to disable it.)
    2. iPhone - Apple won’t allow it to be downloaded from their App Store, shame on them, see below (and this funny cartoon “flowchart” seems to sum up their attitude very well!). Contact Simon if you’d like a copy.


    Calling 0800 “freefone” phone numbers or so-called 0845 “local rate”, 0870 “national rate” and many other non-geographic numbers isn’t free, or is charged at more than “local” rates, if you call the number using your mobile phone. Even when they’re not meant to be “premium rate” numbers.

    Those sorts of numbers were originally offered in order to encourage calls by customers. But in practice it doesn’t work that way – those numbers are instead used as cash cows by mobile network operators who charge you extra for calling those numbers from your mobile – and the calls aren’t even counted as part of your monthly inclusive contract minutes.

    In fact, the company or organisation you call gets a cut of what you pay for the privilege of calling them (and often being put on hold for 20 minutes at a cost to you of X p a second) – and so does the mobile phone network provider.

    This “revenue sharing” is a very nice little earner for them both, especially when UK comms regulator Ofcom has been pretty toothless about it all - issuing consultation after consultation on the subject without doing anything except continually postponing, isn’t a substitute for real action to protect consumers, and I’ve blogged about Ofcom's 0870 inaction before. Oddly enough, consumers and consumer bodies don’t seem to have been making enough of a fuss about this consumer rip-off either.

    Side note: 03 numbers do get treated in exactly the same way as national rate geographic numbers e.g. being included as part of your inclusive minutes instead of being charged extra, so use those if you can. As Ofcom put it “Organisations using 03 numbers will offer consumers a single national point of contact without involving additional charges for the service, over and above the cost of calls to geographic numbers.”

    SayNoTo0870 website

    To the rescue had come SayNoTo0870 (but again it’s no substitute for proper regulation, shame on Ofcom & the government).

    This excellent site lets you look up an 0800, 0845 or 0870 etc number and find the geographic equivalent where possible, which you can then call from your mobile - and have the call time count as part of your inclusive minutes.

    You can also be public-spirited and add geographic numbers that you come across which are alternatives for 0870 etc numbers. Often, the numbers that companies advertise as being for use by overseas callers will work for this purpose. Though some businesses have taken to refusing to deal with calls to that number if you can’t confirm that you’re dialling from overseas, boo to them.

    Now if you have any cellphone that has a web browser, you can look up a number on SayNoTo0870 online, before you try to call it. But that can be a bit laborious.

    Simon Maddox’s 0870 software – and boo to Apple

    To the rescue has come someone else: talented mobile developer Simon Maddox.

    If you have an iPhone or G1 phone you can get his 0870 application, which he’s generously made available for free, and which (between Nov 2008 and 20 March 2009) saved UK consumers over £20,000 in 08 calls from their mobiles. Which has risen to over £25,500 as at 1 April 2009, and that’s no joke!

    I don’t have an iPhone so I can only review the software from a G1 viewpoint. But it’s straightforward – just install and open the app, and enable it by touching the screen (it'll flash up a message saying that it's been enabled - or disabled, if that's the case).

    From then on, when you try to call an 0870, 0845 or 0800 on your G1, Simon’s app will intervene and divert the phone to a geographical number or, if none can be found, the cheapest option, based on the data from the SayNoTo0870 site.

    It’s so useful for consumers that a T-Mobile employee emailed Simon to ask if they could use it in their stores to help sell the G1!

    And yet Apple wouldn’t allow Simon’s app to be downloaded from their App Store, shortsightedly – and in my view wrongly - claiming that it was an attempt to “circumvent carrier features and policies”.

    Anyone who can use the iPhone web browser can search for an 0870, 0800 or 0845 number on the original SayNoTo0870 website. Simon’s app just makes it a bit quicker and easier to find and call the equivalent geographic number, and it’s perfectly legal for users to do so, it’s not like he’s whispering “Pssst! Under the table! An illegal geographic number for you, mate!”.

    Where’s the circumvention in that? What are Apple going to do next, block iPhone users from going to the SayNoTo0870 website altogether? Apple’s unwarranted refusal here deserves greater publicity, and I hope this blog post will help spread the word.

    Only one very small issue from me – I know there’s a line through the 0870 but if Simon changed its name maybe more people would realise what it does and download it? Like calling it “Save money on 0870 calls” instead?

    Disclosure: Simon’s a pal of mine. But I ain’t biassed, and you don’t have to take my word for it – the app is free, go try it for yourself!