How to block calls and SMSs on Android

I have had a few issues recently with persistent wrong numbers. Or at least I did, until I found a good way of blocking them.
You can send calls from selected numbers directly to voicemail using just the Android interface and if you want to do that, it’s as simple as adding the offending number to your contacts, then using EDIT CONTACT and checking… er… “Send calls directly to voicemail”.

However, that still leaves you with two problems: you will end with several (probably blank) voicemails and/or your annoying stalker may also decide to send you an SMS.

Don’t panic.

Step forward Easy Filter Call & SMS Blocker from Moonbeam Development. This freebie app, available from the Android Market does exactly what it says on the tin. Simply add any number from your contact list or call log (or at random if you feel the need) and it will block calls and/or SMSs from that person. It even works on Please Call Me SMSs, the bane of South African cellphone users lives.
You can choose to be informed (or not) that a call or SMS has been blocked and you can also choose to send a message to the blocked caller, telling them to “bugger off ” (this can be edited as you wish).

But wait! There’s more!

Don’t you just hate those private numbers that keep calling you? Is it a payphone, is it an irritating switchboard, or is it YOUR STALKER?!?!? (sorry).

Well, Easy Filter Call & SMS Blocker has an option to block those as well. Which is nice.

If you choose to install this app, please leave a comment and tell me what you think of it.

The alternative to all this, is presented by brilliant UK comedian Sean Lock.

Why not try this and have some fun before you block the number?

Stress Free Christmas Shopping

After all these years, I think I’ve found the way to do it. And while it might ruin the chances of a repeat performance for me next year, I’m willing to share my new found knowledge with you, my loyal reader.

You’ll need a few things to make this work well:

Firstly, you need to not be at work. Obviously, you need to have a job in order to have money to pay for things, but you don’t want to be at work on this particular day. That said, you do need it to be a normal working day for everyone else. I used Monday 20th December.
Secondly, you don’t want to have any children with you. For this purpose, we used Poliswa. Trained in the art of looking after our kids, she did an admirable job of doing just that all day (plus all the washing, ironing, cleaning etc etc etc). The woman is a dynamo.
Thirdly, pick your venue carefully. It must have all the shops you need, but as few as possible of the ones that other people need. This rules Anal Walk out completely, because while it has three shops that you need, it also has 7,613 of the ones that you don’t. This 0.394% useful shop ratio (USR) is completely rubbish. Cavendish is full of Southern Suburbs tannies (even more so than usual) which is extremely unpleasant and you need to remortgage your house to afford parking there.

You should probably head for a smaller mall, like the V&A Waterfront, which Capetonians avoid throughout December because they think it’s going to be hugely busy with tourists, but which in actual fact is ever so quiet: all the Vaalies are doing the boat trips because they’ve never seen the sea before, and all the Europeans are stuck in a snowdrift in Heathrow, Amsterdam or Frankfurt.
The V&A also has Meloncino, which is a great place to stop for lunch and an even greater place to stop between 4-6pm, when all cocktails are half-price. The service is excellent, the food is excellent and the views are none too poor:

Panorama via Photaf for Android

And then just go for it, safe in the knowledge that there will always be a draught Peroni or Strawberry Daiquiri waiting for you should you need a break. Or – if you need sustenance on the fly – a small Lindt chocolate reindeer.

We left home at 8am and returned at 6pm. Parking was R10, all our was shopping done and surprisingly we were still talking to one another and actually rather relaxed (if a little jaded). Neither of us is quite sure how or what happened, but we will be trying it again next year.

I might actually test drive the beer and cocktail bit each month. Just to get it exactly right.
Planning is everything.

How to fix the download unsuccessful error on Android Market

A techie post on 6000 miles…? Surely not?
But yes – and I have my reasons. Read on.

I’m loving my Android-powered Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 phone: it’s fun, it’s useful, it’s damn good looking and Android is very stable compared with previous operating systems I have used.
However, I recently discovered an issue with the Android Market which manifested with the error: “Download Unsuccessful”.

I still don’t know what caused it, but it not only meant that I couldn’t add new applications to my flock (what is the collective noun for applications?), but also that I couldn’t update the applications I already had.
This was a problem.

I searched the internet for a solution and found several hundred, none of which actually worked. Running out of ideas and a full on, no holds barred, stick that in your pipe and smoke it factory reset seemed to be my only option.
However, through cleverly managing to stick two failed suggestions together I seem to have come up with a simple fix for the download unsuccessful problem, which I’m putting on here to help others and also so I can go back to it when this happens again.

Which it might.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Select Applications.
  3. Select Manage Applications.
  4. Select Market.
  5. Select Clear cache.
  6. Press the back button (takes you back to list of installed applications)
  7. Select Download Manager.
  8. Select Clear data.
  9. You should now be able to download successfully from the Market.

Obviously, this worked on my X10, but I think that these are fairly basic/standard functions for Android phones, so I see no reason it shouldn’t work on yours as well.

If you use this fix – whether it works for you or not – please leave a comment with your phone details so others can learn from your experience.

Other places…

I’ve been here and there around the internet this last few days, so I thought I’d share what I’d found with you, hunter-gatherer style.

Firstly – one of my favourite bloggers. Yes, it’s Brian Micklethwait and his ongoing battle with technology – or just recording devices in this case:

Maybe I can get Cobden Centre supremo Andy Duncan to tell me how to use my recording gadgets without getting totally confused.  At present the only one I am any good at using is the hateful Sony confusaphone, hateful because it obliges you to go half way around the techno-world turning Sony files into a human (.mp3) files.  I bought another machine which doesn’t have this problem, but it has another problem.  It’s totally effing incomprehensible.

My new Sony Confusaphone (also known as the glorious new Xperia X10i) is also mentally taxing, but in a good way. Android certainly seems like a lot of fun, although I haven’t found much hugely useful to do with it yet.

Then onto Gina Loubser’s opinion on the whole @pigspotter issue which has divided a little tiny piece of South Africa not really down the middle. I’m with Gina on this one – namely that his tweeting the location of roadblocks and mobile speed traps is just wrong.

He may be a hero in the minds of many and he may have thousands of people following him, but he is still a prime example of someone acting on impulse in a public forum without any concept of the consequences of his actions on his own life and the lives of others.

It’s interesting to note that internet polls have come down firmly (like 90:10 firmly) on the side of @pigspotter.
I don’t understand why he warrants this sort of near fanatical support. Is it something to do with getting one over on authority? Does this make people feel good?
Cliff gives his reasons for his actions thus:

to stop corrupt police soliciting bribes from citizens, and victimising the public.

Yes, there are some corrupt cops in Jo’burg and that’s not good, but how does Cliff’s real-time revalations of their whereabouts assist to weed them out? Am I missing something here?

It’s bizarre and rather unpleasant watching as the brainwashed masses instantly and mindlessly lay into anyone who voices a dissenting opinion to the majority.
The thoroughly repulsive Clive Simpkins is one of the masses.
After I replied to a comment he left on Gina’s post, he refused to discuss the matter further:

Dear 6000, if you don’t have the cahunas to put your name to what you write, you’re classed as an Internet troll. I don’t waste time on them.

This while he is wasting his time on supporting a bloke who is called… er… “@pigspotter”.

There is a school of thought that says that Clive was just caught out by actually being asked to explain his actions and couldn’t, but it’s obviously far more likely that I am “an Internet troll” than that he is a hypocritical tosser.

Over to my mate Albert:

Great spirits have always faced violent opposition from mediocre minds.

Right. Thanks for that.

Finally, something a bit lighter. I think, anyway. Peace Island.
We’ve all heard of Robben Island and Dassen Island and Seal Island and Marion Island and Easter Island and the Galapagos Islands and the Falkland Islands.

But Peace Island? Paarden?

Well, this is apparently Cape Town’s answer to the Palm and World Artificial islands built in Dubai.
Yes, really.

The developers envision and economically and ecologically sustainable development in which upscale housing, trade and tourism opportunities fund and enable low cost housing and contribute to the developmental objectives of the South African Government.

How?
Well, “for every 1,000m² plot sold at R10 million, R1 million will go towards social housing”.
With the initial 25% of the land being sold for R2 billion, that would mean 40,000 units at R50,000 each. With an average of 5 people per unit, that’s housing for 200,000 people.
“The Government would decide where to built the houses.”
As long as it’s not on your island, presumably.

Apparently, the project would require 165 million m³ of sand and 4.2 million tonnes of rock. To put that in perspective – my kids’ sandpit is nowhere near that big and has no rocks in it at all.

Is it for real? I don’t know.
Will it ever take off? I don’t know.

But if it really is a pie-in-the-sky late April fool, someone has gone to a lot of work to put it together, albeit that the spelling and website are a little shabby.

No names though, so Clive probably wouldn’t give it the time of day.

UPDATE: Incoming!

That creepy bald dude is using his superior “communication skills” to trash talk you on his stream. Please tell him it’s spelt CAJONES.

Gasp – so he is!

This would be HUGELY amusing if I was indeed furious or if vasectomy involved anything to do with the testes, which it doesn’t (that would be a orchiectomy). So it’s actually not that amusing.

Oh – and the spelling thing is addressed here:

For some people, apparently, a Hawaiian word for “priest” has ended up as an English euphemism for “testicles”.

Not great use of language from Mr Communication. Yet another reason not to hire him.