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Top ten cloud service providers for reliability and price

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In a time where the reliability and stability of cloud service providers comes into spotlight, we pick our top ten that will help you propel your business to the next level. We recently talked about building your own local network with a Raspberry Pi starter kit, but why not build a cloud network instead? Before we list our top ten cloud service providers it’s worth knowing that makes a great service.

What makes a professional cloud service?

For me there are a few key things that determine how good cloud is. The obvious is value for money and most compete fiercely to give you serious performance for your money. Deploying services needs to be quick and efficient too. Nothing is worse than having an app in mind but spending hours to setup and deploy packages to support your work.

It goes without saying reliability is key too. Uptime and consistent usability is a must. An unreliable cloud service could cost you big in lost clients, or search rankings. Yes, Google very quickly reduces your traffic if your server is throwing 5XX type errors. Just imagine if you were running a live website on cloud and it failed leaving clients angry and upset. It doesn’t bare thinking about.

So with that in mind let’s take a look at the best cloud services available…

1. Digital Ocean

My personal favourite is Digital Ocean. You can sign up to them and get up to a whopping $100 cloud free on this link too. They have something called ‘disk images’ and you can start with a tiny $5 droplet to get going and scale at the click of a button so you never spend more than you need. These effectively allow you to very quickly setup pre loaded software rigs. So if you want to run WordPress it will take you about 10 minutes to get a blog up and running if you basic server skills. It goes without saying, using this type of cloud that is not managed requires a reasonable level of skill or a willingness to learn.

The number of preset software images they have is huge, it doesn’t matter if you’re interested in NodeJS or need a LAMP stack, they have the lot all ready and will deploy in seconds, so no need to bash away at your terminal command line.

2. AWS

The biggest, most reliable, high quality, and top notch service is probably AWS. I prefer Digital Ocean but this is no slur on AWS. Their cloud is second to none. It’s so easily scaleable and to say they are so popular because they were the first to enter the arena is just not fair. They really are innovators and produce excellent cloud.

3. Google Cloud: Cloud Computing Services

Google cloud computing services is by far the best, most technical, and highest skilled engineers. I don’t have enough superlatives for this setup. If I had one complaint, it would be the amount of skill you need to learn their setup. I’ll say this though, the documentation is incredible. If you’re into AI and machine learning, this is where you go.

4. Rackspace

I just wanted to mention Rackspace, I had an extremely disappointing experience with them when I attempted to use their cloud DNS. They didn’t even allow me to pass security and open an account due to my IP location with which I live. Very inward, not progressive. Worst of all they wasted my time emailing me asking questions then not even respond. To be fair I’ve heard good things hence attempting to use them but no, not for me, a customer lost for life.

5. Alibaba Cloud

New to the scene is Alibaba cloud computing services mainly aimed at China but has 19 different CDN locations worldwide. I like their cheapest droplet which is $2.50. That’s half the price of my favourite provider and gives you a chance to learn and gain skills for the price of a cup of coffee. You could run Bitcoin gaming casinos on Alibaba cloud with ease.

6. Oracle Cloud

This is an old and trustable service. Large scale projects are no problem at all with this company. If I had any real positives to mention here it would be their level of skills handling cyber attacks. They have sophisticated apps that will help to protect you.

7. IBM Cloud

IBM cloud is for heavyweight users as well as light. They even have a free cluster which is nice and a great way to introduce people to their services. This is a highly organised operation designed to help you realise advancement in technology and AI.

8. Verizon Cloud

Being one of the older and more notable providers you can expect an excellent service.  The top features include scalability as well as easy infrastructure controls.

9. VMWare

VMWare cloud deserves a mention because of their reliability and progressive investment in the cloud ecosystem.

So there you have it, a whole host of cloud services to get you going in the right direction.

What does Brexit mean for a single EU telecoms market and 5g?

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You’ll probably remember pre-Brexit discussions were in place that showed promise for a single EU telecoms market. You have to question though, in a time where we complain about monopoly, what possible good could come from a single EU telecoms market? Suppose you may argue that resources to build the 5g eco-system could be pooled.

You’ll probably remember back in 2013 when plans for a single telecoms market swept the EU and this was re-affirmed a 2018 update that a single telecoms market was needed to create jobs. Since then though, with Britain’s decisions to leave the EU we took no further part in these negotiations.

How would the UK participate in this now?

Well that’s the question that very much relies on the trade deal that Boris can negotiate with Europe I suspect. So there’s not much point speculating beyond the fact that UK citizens will need to use mobiles abroad and therefore we have a horse in the race so to speak. This is very much wait and see mode.

When will 5g arrive all over Europe and will they beat the UK?

With Qualcomm still on course to deliver ultrafast 5G mobile broadband in the news, it’s rather exciting and not the kind of thing the UK or Europe want to miss out on. We need to workout a clear deal with Europe to ensure we are competitive and do well on the tech front. You would have to reasonably assume the UK will make it to mobile 5g before Europe simply down to the sheer logistical nightmare of handling such a large scale project in Europe. That’s not to say it’ll be easy in the UK but EE are making great leaps with 6 new cities now 5g enabled.

Would a single telecom market have been dangerous for the UK business using 5g and VoIP?

In my opinion absolutely yes, for example, what if the EU ruled VoIP Phones are no longer legal or they placed extra tariffs on an otherwise cheap method of communication? This would have huge constraints on UK business that already take advantage of VoIP. Given some of the sensible rules Boris Johnson has been making and his common sense policy, I highly doubt he would do anything to scupper UK business and therefore I feel much safer with policy in our personal control.

So from my personal opinion Brexit has done us a favour and we can worry about our own 5g concerns. After all wasn’t that what exiting Europe all about? Making our own rules and looking after ourselves rather than everyone else first?

What do you think? Please pop me a comment if you agree or disagree.

Qualcomm still on course for launch of ultrafast 5G mobile broadband

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Qualcomm is still on course for the launch of its ultrafast 5G mobile broadband and have trialled the system as they promised back in 2016 and they haven’t looked like slowing down at all with investments of $200 million to help companies building the ecosystem for 5g. This looks very exciting for business and in particular VoIP that is opening new channels of business opportunity with increased frequency.

What is 5g mobile broadband and how can business take advantage?

As the name suggests, it is the fifth generation of mobile internet and represents a huge leap forward in speed and reliability as well as core stability. At the lower end of its business use, it will reduce the lag you experience will playing and streaming online. At it’s peak, it will literally save lives in the form of computer systems that will allow cars to break quickly and communicate with each other. The future of 5g will improve surveillance services almost unbelievably. We will look at the poor resolution images of surveillance cameras in ten years time and ask ourselves ‘how on Earth did we live without 5g?’.

How fast is 5g mobile broadband?

Seriously fast. To quantify that, it’s said that 5g will be 100 times faster than 4g. In real terms for the average home, this means you’ll stream live tv with zero lag, you’ll stream a 4k film in seconds, it’s going to open up another level of digital service and quality and while I don’t think it’s as ground breaking as going from dial up to 1mb broadband, it’s pretty close. The statement assumes we don’t find new uses for the lightening speed broadband. It might be that we don’t even know how to comprehend the movement of 5g yet. Exciting isn’t it?

Are iPhone and Samsung mobiles 5g ready?

Samsung fired the first volley selling phones that are now 5g ready whereas Apple seem to feel it made more sense to hold the tech back in hopes of bumper sales in 2020 this year. Let’s be clear, most nerds like me buy every single iPhone, I bought the iPhone 11 Max Pro and reviewed it a few days ago. This phone is not 5g ready and you can bet your bottom dollar I will be queuing up for hours to get a 5g phone the minute it gets released. This will be the same for all Apple maniacs like me I am quite sure (and there’s plenty of us!).

What can I programme at home with 5g?

It’s going to open up all kinds of robotic tech options. The sheer speed will allow incredible advancement of simple tech at home. I can’t wait to get stuck in with a Raspberry Pi kit and make myself a home video streaming solution and I may try to make a robot with camera vision and test my own robotic hoover. With the speed of 5g being insane, it’s never been a better time to invest a few hours making my own little rig and I’ll certainly look to update that as we go on.

What is a VoIP Phone? The definitive guide to an IP Phone

A VoIP phone or IP phone as it’s also known, uses voice over internet technology. In layman’s terms, you can use the internet to make phone calls, send texts, or images and save huge amounts of money as well as the convenience. There are also many options for communication using a phone when a landline or mobile signal may not available. It’s also used when a mobile signal isn’t stable. The uses of a VoIP phone (or IP Phone as its otherwise known) are practically limitless and offer huge business potential.

How do I get started with a VoIP Phone or IP Phone?

One good stockist of a VoIP or IP Phone is amazon. If I was looking for a balance of cost and performance with a bit of usability thrown in I would go for the Gigaset A540 IP Voip DECT Dual Cordless Phone. These cordless VoIP Phones have got great reviews and offer excellent value for money without breaking the bank. Without trying to over nerd you, there’s an RJ11 cable included that means you can use this as a landline which gives options and creates more value. Here’s a look at the Gigaset A540 IP Voip DECT Dual Cordless Phone:

If its pure budget you want, I would probably go for the Grandstream GXP-1620.  Its hands free functionality and IP Phone enabled. It’s not as good functionality wise as your more expensive models and the phone receiver isn’t offering a perfectly crisp phone conversation but it’s a pretty good all round package if you want to get an IP Phone cheaply.

You can connect these phones via Ethernet or Wi-Fi to your standard home broadband.

An example of VoIP Phones In Use

Let’s say you have an iPhone 11 Max Pro, or any smartphone for that matter, you can download a program called WhatsApp from the app store or if you have an Android smartphone you can download WhatsApp from the Google Store. This program sends data over the internet in the form of messages, pictures, and you guessed it: Voice!

One of the great things about this service is the fact that you only need internet to make a phone call. There is no need for phone signal at all. That said, if you are relying on 3 or 4g then of course, you still need signal but you can certainly save minutes and messaging costs. Sending pictures can be very expensive via SMS and this is a game changer. Typical plans may charge you as much as 50p for a picture text via SMS so it’s well worth looking into.

Business benefits of VoIP Phones or IP Phones

If you’re a business and offer your employees phones, this tech can literally save a fortune! The other great benefit is that you can employ staff in other countries and the end user won’t realise you’re in a different country. Ethically, this has been criticised but with companies scrambling to improve profitability and offer services at the lowest possible price, there has been a huge boom in VoIP for business which is justifiable.

To summarise a VoIP Phone or indeed an IP Phone, you would be mad to not investigate the various options in this article, the App for example is free to use!

iPhone 11 Pro Max reviewed in full: the best camera and screen on a phone ever.

What can I say, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is hands down the best iPhone I have ever used. The best camera and screen on a phone I have ever known. Don’t get me wrong, I grew tired of the minimal changes through the iPhone range (notably 7 and 8) but I finally feel like Apple had a justifiable product to warrant putting out the new model.

Now look I want to put this out there now. Full disclaimer and warning: I LOVE APPLE PRODUCTS! So accepted my opinion can be construed as biased a little, I would be lying to myself if it wasn’t. That said, I’m offering a fair evaluation of the iPhone 11 Pro Max and I would like to point out this is the first iPhone since the 4 model range I am genuinely impressed by (not as much as the iPhone 4 though). It’s on offer at Amazon at the moment too, at least the model linked.

I used to confuse picking up my iPhone 7 and 8. That says much about the quality of Apple as well as the needless and continual upgrade of model without substance but this is different…

iPhone 11 Pro Max best camera and screen ever

So without question my favourite thing on the iPhone is the new camera setup. I took a selfie that gave me my first real ‘3d’ kind of experience from Apple. They call it “TrueDepth” as a feature. To me, in simple terms is a selfie that looks and feels real, as if it’s come to life. Game changing from Apple. I am not including a picture because my website is optimised to the hilt and butchers the image quality. It would be a complete fail to show you the difference. Instead take a look at Apples website who can afford to show you how good the shots are…

Image credit: Apple

Take a look at the cool camera! The only drawback I noticed is that it protrudes a far way without screen protector or case ( not that I am mad enough to not have one ). The glass breaks way too easily on hard floors..

iPhone 11 Pro Max Specs

Are you into specs? This phone blows everything away. In fact to a point of being boring and so over the top that they make you feel like you’re in the cockpit of a sports car. Was that what they wanted to do? The marketing team I mean? To me that’s probably the only fail of the phone. I mean who the heck knows what an ‘A13 Bionic chip with third-generation Neural Engine’ means. It’s like listing specs as a way to outdo the competition and bamboozle the client rather than engage you but here’s Apple’s complete spec if you’re interested. Don’t get me wrong, they crush the Nokia best phone range and to mention them in the same breathe seems mad to me.

Here’s the key take aways for anyone generally interested in what the phone can do:

  • 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps
  • 720p HD video recording at 30 fps
  • Triple 12MP Ultra Wide cameras
  • Red‑eye correction
  • Panorama (up to 63MP) (insane picture quality
  • 12MP camera TrueDepth (3d appearance is a better way to describe it)
  • Lasts up to 5 hours longer than iPhone XS Max

Those are all incredible stats by the way. This phone is in a league of its own and for the first time since the iPhone 4, I am genuinely proud to own it and the phone before that a nokia 105 for those of us old enough to know a time before the iPhone 4! So to recap, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is the best camera and screen on a phone ever and its a game changer.

Well done Apple this phone is a complete success and its about time you set the bar miles above the competition.

What is the best Nokia phone for sale?

What is the best Nokia phone for sale? Much depends on your budget, circumstances, and what you want your phone to be. If you simply want to make phone calls and costs less than twenty quid and don’t care if your phone is labelled a brick by your friends then you’re probably going to go for the Nokia 105 Dual Sim. If you’re looking for a full on Android smart phone then the Nokia 9 PureView might be more for you. We will take a look at the best Nokia phones and their common sense applications to make sure you get the phone that suits you.

Nokia 9 Pureview

The Nokia 9 PureView was Released in February 2019. With dimensions of 155 x 75 x 8mm it’s a very nice, slender looking phone running on OS Android 9.

The screen size of 5.9-inches is generous enough with an ample resolution of 1440 x 2880. Overall this is a very nice phone.

If we are to scrutinise you might say the storage capacity at 128GB is a little on the light side given the rear camera is 12MP and the front camera 20MP. It doesn’t take long to fill up a phone with high resolution pics!

The five camera cluster to the rear is quite interesting to look at and provides pretty good pictures when considering that you’re not forking out big on a top of the range iPhone or Samsung.

Nokia 8.1

From a cost standpoint it’s hard to ignore the Nokia 8.1. Whilst it’s not the newest model, with a 20MP selfie camera you’re getting a serious bit of kit for your money now. Much like the iPhone range, the models keep coming but the old tech is seldom considerably improved upon. This seems to follow suit when considering the purchase of the Nokia 9 and this model, the Nokia 8.1. It’s unquestionably a big step up with a bigger display and much more powerful camera than the Nokia 7 so the cost void is very justifiable.

This is probably the pick for the guys and girls not interested in chasing the latest tech but wish to find a bit of value for money and want a high spec phone that performs without breaking the bank.

Easily my favourite performance features on the Nokia 8.1 would be the 20MP selfie camera with 12 and 13MP rear cameras. The screen size at 6.2-inch is pretty healthy too. Though this phone came out over a year ago in December 2018 it’s still a best buy as Nokia phones for sale go.

Nokia 7.1

Image credit:amazon

The good old trusty Nokia 7.1. Cheap, performs well, you might even say its boring! Boring is definitely good though. For a considerable drop in price from both previous models reviewed you can still get a rear camera with 12MP and 5MP respectively. You’ll also get a front camera with 8MP.

It comes as no surprise that it in storage and RAM it falls slightly to the other models too but pound for pound this model is hard to beat. If you’re looking for a cheap mid range phone with a pretty sensible camera then this would be a top choice for me.

If you like Android and Google search then you’ll get on just fine with this phone. Occasionally you might get the odd blip that occurs when the phone becomes overloaded with apps and data but it doesn’t do much to detract from the overall user experience with crisp pictures that from an everyday user perspective, will easily stand up to phone that cost considerably more.

Nokia 5.1

Last up in my review of the best Nokia phone for sale is the Nokia 5.1. Cheap, a bit laggy, can be slow, but gives you full smart phone functionality at great money. You have to accept that if you want to spend low end you get low end BUT this isn’t that low end. For the money you will not beat the quality or durability of this phone easily.

With a decent camera and 16GB of storage you effectively have a reduced spec of the 7.1 and so the cost saving is passed directly to you. I would highly recommend this phone if money constraints are in place. You’ll get a smart phone that works, is reliable, and will help you with most normal uses expected of a smart phone. It might be a little frustrating to have the lag but overall a pretty good experience and especially for the money.

The Nokia 105 dual sim phone is still an absolute bargain

The Nokia 105 black Dual SIM unlocked that was introduced in 2017 proves to be an immensely popular phone despite the advancement of smart phones on a budget too. With the Nokia 105 Dual SIM phone unlocked costing twenty quid and being not too far away from the range of smartphones makes it pretty impressive they are so popular. We should take a look at why.

Well to start off, you can get a smartphone for just £30 with a top-up from Tesco. So it’s not the price that’s pulling people at the Nokia alone. You have to look closer at the demographic behind the surge in sales and the features on offer with this little gem.

The Nokia105 dual sim instructions are just so easy

For a start, the Nokia 105 Dual SIM instructions on this pdf are just so easy to follow. Quite frankly, without insulting anyone, it’s incredible they made a mobile phone with icons and interaction that even my nan would handle with ease. It’s probably more straightforward than her old dial phones.

It’s seriously durable

You can’t knock the Nokia 105 Dual SIM on price to value ratio either. It is really well built and you can drop one without breaking it. Not least of all, even if you do break it, you don’t panic like a brand new £1200 iPhone.

I couldn’t think of anything worse than buying the new iPhone and breaking the screen weeks after purchase (which is exactly what I did), to be told by Apple the screen would cost a third of the price of the phone to replace (yes feels criminal doesn’t it to pay that much for a piece of glass that probably costs ten pence in raw material).

It’s the features on this little baby too

If you look at the price, it’s a steal. The thing holds well in your hand, you can switch sims, it has 15 hours talk time which matches any top end phone. Ok the screens not much but the pads nice to touch and certainly won’t leave you feeling rubbish every time you need to send a text.

If you look closely at the pad, it’s one of those really easy to handle keypads that you expect of a phone designed for those that are not quite so nimble.

Could they improve the Nokia 105 dual sim phone?

Well, with any budget phone you are getting what you pay for but there are a couple of things that I am certain wouldn’t cost much and would make a big difference. Firstly, why not have a good selection of ring tones. I can’t see the problem with making this improvement and again, I am not sure of the constraints of the memory, but predictive text would make a big difference for anyone that wants a budget phone and likes to text a lot.

Remember, texts cost a great deal less than long winded phone calls and this phones all about economy!

To round off this little bit of kit I would say that you can’t go wrong, you don’t need to worry about it breaking, in fact it’s robust and well built but could do with a couple of little improvements that would easily see this phone being popular for many years to come.

Raspberry Pi Goes Into Production: Best Raspberry Pi Starter Kits

In this article I have reviewed the best Raspberry Pi starter kits since they went into production for a wider range of general and specific uses from Retropie games to streaming. There’s something deeply satisfying with regards to building your own little rig.

Being a self confessed proud nerd and inventor of software I really enjoy tinkering with a Raspberry Pi in my spare time making all manner of cool things. In case you’re interested – here is my github repository. Robots particularly catch my interest but I’ve also used them for games and even streaming(which had mixed results with a Raspberry Pi 3) and I’ll go into that straight away.

Raspberry Pi 3 Official Desktop Starter Kit (16Gb, Black)


If you’re just starting out and you really want a quality little bit of kit at sensible money then you just can’t go wrong with a Raspberry Pi 3 Official Desktop Starter Kit (16Gb, Black). What a great little bit of kit for the money!

Where I feel we did really well with the Raspberry Pi 3 is without doubt working on retropie games. It was extremely easy and I had no meltdowns at all. The Raspberry Pi 3 was more than capable of this function and task.

When I used it for streaming YouTube though things were extremely different. I would say the best resolution you can get away with is 720px but the screen was not at all smooth and it was a poor user experience to say the least.

Overall though for retro gaming it is exactly on the money. The official charger is rated 5.1V and 2.5A and gives excellent performance and heres a look at the technicals for anyone interested:

Technical Details
Brand name Raspberry Pi
Item Weight 281 g
Product Dimensions 16.4 x 12.4 x 6.6 cm
Item model number RPi3_OffStrKit
Colour Black
Processor Brand Broadcom
Processor Type ARM710
Processor Speed 1200 MHz
Processor Count 4
RAM Size 1 GB
Computer Memory Type DDR2 SDRAM
Hard Drive Size 1 GB
Hard Drive Interface USB
Hardware Platform Linux
Operating System Linux

 

CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 4GB Starter Kit – 4GB RAM


If you want something with a little more power then the next best option is the CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 4GB Starter Kit – 4GB RAM. It goes without saying it’s more powerful than the 3 and you’re pretty much only limited by your own imagination and technical skills.

It took me about half an hour to put the bits together and then install the operating system. I am good with the software but the hardware is not my expertise, I am sure many people can get to grips with this no problem. One drawback I see around the internet is a disagreement with my opinion though. If you run into difficulty with your Raspberry Pi 4 starter kit, then head over to the Raspberry Pi quick start guide.

I’d be quick to point out that there are hundreds of tutorials online for your Raspberry Pi 4 starter kit too. If you’re struggling for ideas or fun things to do with your Raspberry Pi 4 starter kit then take a look at the link provided. At a minimum it’ll give you some spin off ideas to get going with and failing that you could go with the Freenove Ultimate Starter Kit for Raspberry Pi 4 B 3 B+ with 434 Pages Detailed Tutorials.

What you get with the Raspberry Pi 4 kit:

  • Raspberry Pi 4 4GB Model B with 1.5GHz 64-bit quad-core ARMv8 CPU (4GB RAM)
  • 32GB Samsung EVO+ Micro SD Card and USB MicroSD Card Reader
  • Case with Integrated Fan Mount
  • Low Noise Bearing System Fan
  • Micro HDMI to HDMI Cable
  • 3.5A USB-C Raspberry Pi 4 Power Supply with Noise Filter
  • USB-C PiSwitch

If you’re looking for something simple like NAS or Plex then this will do the job with ease. It’ll certainly handle more complex tasks too.

CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 4GB Starter MAX Kit – 64GB Edition


Finally, if you’re looking for something a bit more complete, a bit more powerful then it’s the CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 4GB Starter MAX Kit – 64GB Edition. This is effectively a complete desktop Linux machine ready to go.

This kit isn’t the cheapest but it really is a complete kit to get going and the fan is quiet and keeps things nice and cool. It could be argued that a USB keyboard to get started would be a nice addition but it’s certainly not necessary. You can get on just fine without.

When i used this kit it was easily the quickest to setup and I was off in minutes literally. Being the 64 GB naturally its the highest spec of all we’ve reviewed too. If you’re native language isn’t English and you want to use this on a 110V power supply that’ll be no problem as the powers rated at 100-240V AC and 50/60 Hz.

So there you have three great little contenders for the best Raspberry Pi starter kits. If you select any of these in this review, I am sure you will do just fine. Overall, the CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 4GB Starter MAX Kit – 64GB Edition is probably the easiest kit to work with if you’re a complete beginner!