As some of you will know, this summer I will be taking my first holiday of many years to Canada/USA with my family. Not only did I want to document my time there, I wanted to fill friends and family in of what I was doing, with photographs, videos and the occasional ‘blog style’ account. I do have a WordPress blog, however this can not be integrated into my website easily, what I wanted was something had an iPhone/iPad app and would integrate into my current website – meaning that I only need to give users one address. Tumblr provided all of this. This Tumblr blog will be used only for my trip the USA (and any future holidays), so if you want to get in touch outside you can do so by the following ways. Website Blog Tumblr (Non Travel) Twitter Thats about it really, I hope you enjoy following my trip, as I will no doubt enjoy taking it.
For over a year now I have owned a MiFi from 3. At first I intended for it to be used on a daily basis, as a way of keeping connected on the move, however when the required task couldn’t be completed on my iPhone, WiFi has been readily available at either University or at home allowing me to use my iPad without forking out for an additional data plan. The times when I have needed to use my iPad when out have been few and far between, meaning that the most economical way has been to purchase a daily allowance from O2 giving me 200mb of data for a nominal fee of £2. With the areas I visited most covered by free WiFi I have enabled data on my iPad a handful of times since it was purchased, and only used my MiFi time times of emergency internet outages. As described in my original blog post, I am one of those people who have fallen in love with the internet. In fact so much so that the idea of being disconnected from the world is a thought that really does fill me with dread. Everything is done online, with ordering a birthday card for your grandmother, to finding a local rate number to avoid paying premium call charges; very few people today rarely give an always connected broadband a second thought, until it goes down. Therefore I have always made sure that no matter where I am based for an evening, I have at least two of my three internet enabled devices; iPhone, iPad and MiFi. Broadband, just like any utility can suffer outages, which has been the case in my student house today. I am moving out on Friday so whilst it would be nice to have it fixed im not going to lose too much sleep over it. The reason being is that I could still remain connected either via my iPhone, iPad or dust off my MiFi. I started weighing up my options. My iPhone whilst it does have 3G connectivity already paid for under my current contract, using twitter browsing the internet and replying to emails on such a small screen for a few days would be quite a challenge; especially as I am used to using a 27-inch iMac with duel display. The iPad was discounted at this point for similar reasons, with the addition of it meaning me have to fork out additional cash to purchase data. The only option was my MiFi. This is where the fun began, connecting my iMac to the MiFi was easy. My iMac found the WiFi signal and all I had to do was select the MiFi rather than my Airport Extreme base-station and I was cooking with gas. The reason for purchasing my MiFi from 3, was that last year credit didn’t expire, and the data you had purchased remained until used, the perfect deal for someone who would use the MiFi once in a blue moon. I purchased 1GB of data a year ago, and had approximately 50mb remaining when I switched on this morning. An hour later my connection went dead, as to be expected really, so a quick phone call to 3 technical support to activate an additional £10 worth of credit (already stored on my account) gave way to a mixed bag of emotions. First was relief that I had got through to someone who was happy to help and easy to understand (he wasnt based in a UK call centre, but still two out of three isnt too bad), second was anger. I was now told that whilst the cost of data hadnt gone up, any data not used within 30 days would expire! Personally I think this is a very cleaver ploy by the network providers, they offer you data packages which work out rather cheap on a £/mb basis, knowing full well that the average user will use around half of their allowance in the time frame given, in affect doubling their profit. For example 3 offer 1024mb of data for £10.49, costing 35p a day, not a lot by anyones standards. However if you only use half of your data for that month, it wont be brought forward, if you use half of your allowance it costs 70p a day, and if you only use a quarter of it you are set back £1.40 per day, not as cheap as it first looks. Is there any reason why my data should expire after a given time? I don’t think there is, it is not perishable and as I am charged based on usage the networks cant claim that by one person using 2gb is affecting the experience of others, as its a service that is being specifically paid for by one party, and not the other. Surely if I pay for data, I should be allowed to use that data, and not subject to time restraints and be pressured into using it prematurely. We in the UK live in a 1st class technological country, the cost of gadgets are getting lower, however the costs to run them are increasing. In the case of mobile technology, mobile phone contracts may not have increased in price significantly, however for the same price the service you receive will have decreased. Looking at mobile broadband, it was once ‘unlimited’ data for all, however things then changed with data being capped; now not only data being capped, but given a timeframe of which it is to be used or it will be forfeited. Once again the technology of a 1st world country is being priced at 3rd world prices.
Gosh, time has flown by, with it being nearly 5 months since I last posted on my blog. In this time many things have happened; the Royal wedding, another ash cloud has threatened transport across the UK and Apple have previewed the next of its operating systems OSX Lion. All very exciting in different levels, however that is not what this post is about; it has two aims, firstly to update you with what I have been doing, secondly what my next steps are and the barriers which have been placed in my way. Final Months At University: Being a final year student and heavily involved in student politics it seemed only right that I ran for office within the Students Union. Previously there were four Vice President positions available, one for each of the faculties The University of Salford had. However due to the restructuring into three collages, the number of VP positions had been reduced by one. Campaigning was a successful, tiring and very educational experience, however it wasn’t meant to be, with me coming fourth by around 30 votes from over 2000 cast. Naturally I was disappointed, however I was happy in the knowledge that if the restructuring had not taken place I would have got in. All was not lost tho, as even though becoming Vice President was on my life path, it wasn’t the only stopping point. Carer Steps: Career wise I had always been interested in both business and law. My love of business and management was encouraged by Martin Port the former Managing Director and Founder of Masternaut Three X. Martin gave me the chance to work within a team as well as see the inns of highly successful business during four years of summer jobs. This did mean that I had did not take a traditional holiday abroad, instead working was my holiday as the knowledge and stimulation which I got was far more beneficial than sitting by a pool. Whilst working in business is still one of my dreams, I do feel the need to have something more academic to fall back on, which is perhaps a value that my parents gave me. The message I picked up (whether it was intended or not) was “having an education you can be proud of and fall back on is priceless”. The world of business is a risky one, so having qualifications under your belt to go into a profession gives not only peace of mind, but several transferable skills. Law was the subject which I enjoyed the most, a theory that was confirmed when I did work experience at Kings Chambers in Leeds for a week and sat in on some high-profile cases. The skills that the barristers showed collecting evidence, researching previous judgements, putting their arguments across and thinking quickly on their feet was something that in my opinion was one of the most impressive professions I had seen (to understand what I mean, watch an episode or two of Kavanagh QC). Sadly my A-level grades were not enough to allow me to do a straight law degree, however after consulting family friends in the legal field it was decided that this was not the best option anyway. By doing a degree in something other than law it would allow a much greater understanding of the world as a whole. Therefore at University I studied business, with one module of law in the first year, and four in the third year. Now that I have completed my third year of studies and finished my undergraduate degree, the time has come to take the next steps on the ladder to become a barrister. Postgraduate Study, And Funding It: After much research I applied to do my GDL (graduate diploma in law) at Manchester Metropolitan University – one of the most successful GDL providers and was offered a place. Here lieth the problem. Cost. As with everything in the world today, education costs money. Previously education was funded by the government in the forms of grants being awarded to those who were academically able, with the cost of the grant being repaid in the form of increased tax contribution from a higher paid job. Today student loans are offered to cover the cost of tuition, interest is charged at the rate of inflation making it cost effective for all, however this is only available for Undergraduate studies. The cost of the one year GDL is £4,550, with the BPTC (Bar Professional Training Course) to be taken after the GDL currently costs £10,300. Therefore I am looking at an education bill of £14,850 BEFORE accommodation and living costs are included. Where am I supposed to find this kind of money? Student loans are not offered for postgraduate degrees meaning that funding can come from one of two places, grants or private. Lets look at the grants first. The vast majority (if not all) of grants available are means tested. A method which on principle I believe in, funding should of course go to those who need it most. The method of means testing tho is a principle which I disagree with completely, as the means are tested against ‘household income’. For most grants funding is divided into two categories, those with households less than £20k a year, and those between £20k and £40k a year. I am fortunate enough to have two highly successful parents in the medical profession giving us a household income of more than the higher limit, however I am not part of their household. I am an independent student, living away from home during term time, attempting to stand on my own two feet. At the age of 21 there is no correlation between my parents salaries and the ‘style of life’ which I lead as a student. I took out the student loan to pay for my undergraduate degree, and used savings from my summer jobs to pay for living expenses. In my opinion students means should be tested […]