Sony Ericsson C903 Dilemma: Network 3 Are Useless

Hi readers. I’m sharing this story in case anybody else is suffering the same scenario. If not, then you’ll probably be uninterested so don’t read this blog post! However, if your Sony Ericsson C903 has suddenly started playing up, then fear not and read on! I discovered a solution on Sony Ericsson’s website at the last minute and saved myself from undergoing the laborious and inconvenient procedure that 3’s help centre wanted me to follow!

The back-story:

My Sony Ericsson C903 (CyberShot) failed me last night. I closed the handset after receiving a call to discover that the wallpaper had gone white and it was suddenly stating “no netw. coverage” when I knew I was in a perfectly fine area. I tried turning my phone off and then on, and even resetting it, but it was still dead to the world. I tried plugging my charger in but a bizarre and incorrect message popped up saying something like “Does not recognise phone, insert Sony Ericsson battery.”

The 3 store:

I went to my local 3 store in the morning but discovered they’d given themselves the bank holiday off, so I went into an Orange store and the assistant was kind enough to give me details of another 3 store that was more reliable. I reached this store, to find the shop assistant there closing the place down at 4.30, despite their opening times on the door stating 5.30. I believe he mumbled some inaudible reasoning for this.

The 3 help centre:

So putting this corporate incoherency behind me I went home and phoned 3. Anyone who has tried this themselves will no how hard it is to find a contact number on 3’s website. Their help and services pages force you to sit through a clicking labyrinth of inappropriate but apparently frequently asked questions.

On the phone to 3, I was told that I would receive an envelope in 2 working days to post my phone off to their repair centre, because the C903 has a software glitch that is known about now but needs to be fixed by a technician. This would put me out of a phone for almost two weeks! They couldn’t guarantee that my local 3 store would be able to give me a loan phone, and if I wanted to quit my contract I would have to buy the whole thing out, even if 3 weren’t committing to their half of it! The lady on the phone (who was admittedly very kind) then told me that her operating centre’s computer system had gone down and so she would phone me back in 10 minutes.

The solution:

During this time I Googled the problem that my phone was having again, and found a page on Sony Ericsson’s website where I could download an update that would solve the technical glitch.

It didn’t work the first time, but the second time it did. So now my phone’s absolutely fine. I put some music on my stereo and did a little celebratory dance! I don’t need to send my phone off to 3 for weeks and weeks, thank God, and I don’t need to get up early and waste my morning in the local 3 store!

This is the page you need:

You’ll need a Sony Ericsson USB cable though to connect to your computer. If you’re in a hurry, 24hr Tesco sell perfectly good multi-phone USB cables for £9. I use one of these. They also let you copy photos and files to your computer (the software update will erase them you see).

Oh and by the way, when asked by your computer to hold down the “c” (cancel) key on your phone for ages you must do this BEFORE you connect your phone to the phone end of the USB. Otherwise it won’t work.

I hope this helps somebody. I just cannot believe that a company like 3 don’t have the intellectual capacity to find a simple solution to a common problem, but instead, train their call centre staff to recommend ludicrously longwinded and unnecessary procedures! I am also a bit shocked at the poor level of communication between 3 stores and 3 itself.

NatWest's Nonsense Magazine

Do I want NatWest’s opinion on Cheryl Cole? No. Just like I don’t want Take-a-Break to manage my savings, they’d probably trade in my shares for a pony-trekking holiday in the Shetlands.

Did you know NatWest make their own celebrity magazine? I popped into one of their branches last week to put cash into my friend’s account and was surprised to see Cheryl Cole, beaming at me luxuriously from a magazine stand with ‘NatWest Sense’ printed regally across her forehead.

So NatWest, a bank often labelled as incompetent, unjust and unethical by respectable newspapers, actually boasts its own tailor-made splashy glossy with double-page spreads on how to have a green Christmas! At NatWest one can stand in the soulless cashier queue flicking through photos of people skiing, drinking wine, driving sports cars and sight-seeing in Venice. This is so much more fun than Lloyds TSB where the only in-store visual stimulus is that bloody boring (and worryingly young) widow gallivanting around in her yards of black satin.

For those who do not bank at NatWest and have no reason to step inside their automatic doors, allow me to describe this exciting publication...

So it’s the Christmas 2009 issue (pictured above). Everything is written in white or gold and the cover announces - “Cheryl Cole – Her meteoric rise from Girls Aloud to national treasure”.

This cover line sets a high cliché standard that is upheld through the rest of the magazine...

“meteoric rise”schoolboy faux-wordplay – TICK

“national treasure”worn-out journalistic term - TICK

Cheryl Cole tried-and-tested cover girl – TICK

Stock image – portrait of Cheryl sent by PA - TICK

And depending on your scrutiny you may like to award bonus points for the fact that Cheryl is ever so slightly pixelated and of course smiling. Only real magazines can afford morose cover shots.

Other straplines include “Delia’s Festive Recipes”, “39 Brilliant gift ideas”, “Get away from it all with our city escapes” and “How to survive seasonal stress”. Hmm.

I’m not sure if Sense magazine, which gives itself the banner “HELPFUL WAYS TO SPEND AND SAVE”, uses celebrities and notable personalities who actually bank with NatWest (or more likely the case – NatWest’s exclusive private bank Coutts), but I suspect that they might. If only Sense magazine published bank statements of their celebrity clients, “A.Carr – OddBins – 860.00” , “K.Spacey – Prowler Store – 72.50” etc.

Despite the cover’s promise of “Cool decorations for a tinsel-free home”, the feature on this topic is a complete advertising mess. We all know and accept that magazines thread their articles with advertising, but at least most of them know how to do this with style, subtlety and variety. Out of 30 tree decorations profiled in NatWest’s Sense, no less than nine are from John Lewis and a whopping seven are from Heal’s. They call this “the pick of the latest”. Right.

Before I reach Delia’s recipes, there is a photo of Nigella Lawson pushing her bosoms into a stack of fairy lights, declaring “Christmas lunch is my absolute favourite meal in the world”. Thanks go to NatWest for such a helpful scoop, but we can all guess why Nigella loves Christmas lunch.

And so sitting on a low NatWest sofa beneath a very nauseating fan heater, I finally find the vied-for Cheryl Cole feature, only to discover that there’s absolutely NO fresh material. Disappointingly, the article gives a bland walk through her Wikipedia page, making sure to avoid anything too interesting, while occasionally stealing quotes from old TV shows and even one from her interview with Elle magazine!

I think banks should perhaps stick to banking, and leave magazines to the creative minds and industry professionals. Do I want NatWest’s opinion on Cheryl Cole? No. The magazine’s complete nonsense. Just like I don’t want Take-a-Break to manage my savings, they’d probably trade in my shares for a pony-trekking holiday in the Shetlands.

We’ll do the magazines. You do the maths.

Previous Blog Posts on Cheryl Cole:

1) Jedlock: Time To Throw The Cowell In

2) Front Line Fashion: Cheryl Calls The Shots On Her Own

Oh Yes She Is!

You’ve all heard. The queen of boobs and Ferrari bonnet kisses has turned her attention to boos and hisses this Christmas. That’s right. Pamela Anderson, I repeat, P-a-m-e-l-a A-n-d-e-r-s-o-n, is doing panto in South London.

But why? Because all her diehard Baywatch fans are now balding fathers? Because she’s spiralling into debt? Because she’s harboured a secret passion between her breasts for theatre all these years? Or maybe she just wants to relate to her kids. Wishful thinking?

From panting on a televised beach to pants off in the Playboy studio, Pammy has led (followed? been dragged down?) an exciting and arguably admirable career, if not a little degrading to women and predictable. An unusual pop icon, high-end fashion photographers were surprised when David La Chapelle took her on as his muse, but reassuringly to critics her extraordinary breasts and double-take lips have always had a lot to do with it.

I guess Jordan is our own Woolworths Tammy doll home-grown comparison site. But are these sickly pseudo-feminists actually role-models for manipulating the media to get rich? Or are their bra-packed volatile lives just, well, tacky and vile?

Pammy at least offsets some of her superficiality with charity work (*checks nails*) and activism. She supports HIV research and she refuses to turn the other cheek to unethical cosmetic brands. As a mega veggie too, Pammy also hates KFC, opposes images of the late Colonel Sanders and generally loathes anyone who eats anything that once moved.

Sadly I cannot get tickets to see Pammy in panto, but I have to say, I genuinely like her. I find her beautiful somehow and as Patsy said to Saffy on the morning in Serge's room - “It’s not degrading. She’s the one with the whip.”

I’m glad I’ve got this off my chest. My flat, un-inflated, inexpensive (but satisfyingly level) chest. Go Pammy! I like you, even though I'm not sure why. Am I behind you? Yes I am.

The Jack of Hearts belongs to Jack Cullen. The photos in this blog post belong to David LaChapelle.

First Resort: Oscar Worthy

Resort collections rarely receive the attention they deserve in the UK. Possibly because Brits aren’t accustomed to winter travels in the way that Americans are. Yet often designers produce some of their best work for these special and almost seasonless lines, liberated from the thermal restraints of winter but not fully subscribing to the fat-free plea of summer.

I love this arresting new Oscar de la Renta dress taken from his 2010 Resort Collection. The black and white is classy, wintry and timeless, but I was surprised to discover upon closer inspection that the fabric is, in fact, crepe de chine, and what’s more – tie dyed. Oh behave!

The pattern here is a striking conversation between the Bridget Riley edginess of 1960s Op Art and the tangy sexiness of Cavalli’s zebra prints. The result is strong and sophisticated, an almost post-modern and pixilated play on houndstooth.

De la Renta is amongst a handful of elitists who effortlessly unite the excitement of haute couture with the pragmatics of prêt-a-porter. Whilst some of his contemporaries like Bill Blass seemed to burn out in the 1980s, de la Renta (who will turn 80 in a couple of years) is still one of the world’s best designers.

This piece costs $2490, pictured above with an accompanying black and white water snake embroidered roll clutch ($960). A lot you may think, but actually quite reasonable considering de la Renta’s main market is selling wedding dresses from $20,000 and counting.

Just look at the fragility and finesse of the crepe de chine below. Oscar is nothing short of outstanding.

REVIEW Paranormal Activity: Dark Steps For Hollywood's Indie Paranoia

Can somebody please make a spoof starring Katie and Peter? “Oh my god Pete, the ghost put Swarovski crystals in my smiley face chips.” “Is it just me Katie – or are the chicken nugget dinosaurs watching me?”

Every five years or so a hand-held horror flick rises its ugly head in Hollywood, where the character names are those of the actors, where nightvision settings ignite our imaginations and the script is plaited with “what the f**k was that?” and “turn that f**cking camera off.”
Paranormal Activity tells the story of Katie and Micah, a young middle-class couple who have moved into a new home. At night they are haunted with strange noises and happenings by what Katie believes to be a demon that has tormented her since childhood. The couple move cameras into their bedroom in an attempt to capture this demonological activity.

New director Oren Peli filmed Paranormal Activity in his own home, making alterations to its interior over a period of months, including the installation of noisy floorboards, until it felt wrong enough to make a low-budget blockbuster. One distinctly evil feature of the set was the heavily balustraded central staircase that changes direction acutely, stunting the audience’s visionary control.

The film offers an interesting portrait of a pre-marital relationship, as Micah’s growing determination to document and “solve” the supernatural problems becomes a problem in itself, overshadowing Katie’s sensitivities and building an obsessive and possessive power dynamic within their relationship that seems to both thrill and provoke the supposed demon.

She constantly asks Micah to turn the camera off and although this plot device is ironed-out by Micah’s comedic ploys to film himself having sex, ultimately Katie’s wines become an irritation for the audience. Indeed, the hand-held genre is tricky to master, the main challenge to its believability being our instinctive desire to point the camera away at times of stress and unpleasance. Some horological ingenuity added to the horror though as we watch the camera’s time setting speed up to reveal the bizarre longevity of Katie’s sleepwalking and restlessness.

Although some critics have praised Paranormal Activity for its relentlessly claustrophobic and spatially limited setting, I felt a lack of any wider context hindered the film’s success. A major strength of The Blair Witch Project was its faux-escapism and prequel footage, not to mention those creepy vox pops from eccentric citizens in the local town.

When footsteps belonging to the demon crop up and audible growls emerge my first thoughts were that Micah was staging a haunting to blow Katie’s confidence and make her dependent on him. Wow, I marvelled to myself between mouthfuls of Ben & Jerry’s, he’s editing the footage from each night and using his audio suite downstairs to manipulate everything, he’s a PSYCOPATH! Sadly the film wasn’t that intelligent and five seconds later Katie is sliding around her house screaming while an invisible demon manages to materialise very visible scratches on her body.

Perhaps the real demon in Paranormal Activity is our own human obsession with documenting and processing everything electronically. In his desperate attempt to shake off his girlfriend’s incubus, Micah fills his home with cameras, wires, computers, nightvision lamps and television screens.

I not sure if I’ll watch this film again, but it can be very proud of itself considering a measly production budget of $15,000, I certainly froze with fear in bed last night when the bathroom door clicked itself open! I probably will watch it again in a few years.

The highest feat of Paranormal Activity is its success in finding a distributor solely through online support. Hollywood’s claws were prized open for once by the solidarity of alternative movie fans. YouTube hosted the film’s trailer, for free of course, and generated more than 1,000,000 viewers quite rapidly. Hairs have certainly been raised on Hollywood's back. Warner Bros know that they must react to this increasing level of independent movie conquests, or die mercilessly at the hands of a new paranormal film industry…

What’s that? Sarah Jessica Parker alongside Hugh Grant? Awesome! Okay, okay, it’s not quite the beginning of the end.

Below: Actors Katie Featherstone and Micah Sloat. The Ghostbusters rendition was removed in post-production.

Finally Over: Joe McElderry Wins The X Factor

Cheryl’s little Geordie boy Joe won X-Factor thirty seconds ago, beating the knee-zagging Robbie-wannabe Olly Murs in what was a predictably intense final. Other guest acts from Simon Cowell's royal flush of pop star Pokémon cards included Leona Lewis, Alexandra Burke, the cheesy mess JLS and bizarrely George Michael who put in a first-moustache effort to bag a Christmas number 1. Oh, and did I mention Sir Paul McCartney?

And so the X Factor is finally over for another twelve moons and I can feel a united sigh of relief across educated Britain. Finally we’ve got our weekends back, we can talk about something else in the office and just think of all those tabloid pages that can happily revert to covering real celebrities again like Myleene Klass. How many incredulous stories can we read about Danyl Johnson being “bisexual”, and my favourite – Joe being straight?

Don’t get me wrong. I love X Factor. I love the show for its grandeur, its fearful undertones and self-importance. I love the slip-up comments (like tonight Cheryl calling Olly and Joe “the bottom two”) and I even enjoy the embarrassingly awful PowerPoint title montages. So far, so Cowell.

But haven’t we all had enough of The X Factor now? Pick up the phone and vote. Pick up the phone and vote. The words scroll along the insides of my eyelids when I go to sleep. Simon blurting out towering superlatives or re-quoting himself like Stalin re-touching a photo.

Why did we have to watch artists re-perform old songs from the show when we’re all sitting at home armed with YouTube? Tonight Louis called Olly “A born, born showman” and promised him that he would have a great career, while Danni pined on about “X Factor next year” evidently worried about hers. But does Louis Walsh or any of the judges even understand the music industry today? They certainly understand money, but I don’t want my pop stars flogging shampoo, I don’t want my pop stars moulded into a non-offensive, non-memorable chunk of false tears and regulated foot taps.

Like tonight, the 11 losers tottered clumsily onto the stage like androids to sing a lifeless cover of Take That’s Never Forget, while their vocals rolling-pinned the melody in a flavourless pancake of all things lacklustre and plain. And then later on JLS, a crass ensemble of cheese and closet cases, stood about in 5-minutes-ago waistcoats fisting the air with their completely edgeless hit Everybody In Love (Pretend it's with a Woman and get Rich).

The X Factor has been thoroughly entertaining car-crash TV and I’ve loved every week of it. I think it’s empowering and philanthropic of Simon Cowell to take it upon himself to put hope into the hearts of the bleating cattle that occupy sofas up and down this country.

As Leona Lewis sang tonight - “the stars are fading away.”

I’d like to see a talent show where artists have written their own material, where people can be themselves, where there are thigh-high boots, loop pedals and collaborations with Grace Jones or Marianne Faithfull.

My highlight from this year’s series was Stacey singing Who Wants To Live Forever? A song that Freddie Mercury pierced the world’s heart with as he himself realised the dichotomy of his own life, as his work and fame raced into fifth gear and AIDS beckoned him terrifyingly on an ever-nearing horizon. Stacey was my favourite contestant this year, and it’s sad that Cowell clearly thought his empire couldn’t emblazon a third female solo artist in a row, when really his power and influence could probably even get Kim Woodburn a number one.

For me though the real winner of The X Factor this year has been TV presenter Holly Willoughby. I’m so thrilled that she’s ridden the Cowell wheel of fortune and will be jumping off this week at the top of her game. Other winners are American dance coach Brian Friedman, fashion designer Alexander McQueen (who could be found winking at us in most episodes from the cusp of Cheryl’s breasts) and of course John & Edward.

I wish Joe and his ten-inch grin the best of luck in his shiny new career. I’ll think of him when he pops up on our kitchen radios this Christmas and wonder how he’s doing. The Jack of Hearts will naturally have forgotten all of the contestants by January, but who knows, maybe Joe will appear on here again, you can hazard a guess as to why.

If only French & Saunders were on this Christmas, I'm sure they'd have some thoughts on the matter.