Computer Corner

Nick Aurelius-Haddock's picture

If you have questions about your computing device setup in France or Internet connections, here is the place to ask. If you don't know someone else here might.


We cover everything from smartphones,tablets,laptops and more.

Carl Alban's picture

neil whitehead's picture

I bought a cheap (30€) phone from Auchan and a contract with Le French Mobile - www.lefrenchmobile.com - which means, for an extra 1€ a month I can keep all the money I put on the card.

John Scully's picture

James, Given your stated requirements I suggest you get a bog standard "non smart" phone which will have at least three days battery life and take a contract with Free for two (yes 2) euros a month giving you to hours talk time per month to all French landlines and mobiles.
James Kearney's picture

I'm a techie Null. I'm just getting around to getting a cell phone and the choices seem unending. First, every Tom, Dick and Harry are selling phones and phone service from La Poste, every bank, every ISP and of course the phone stores like SFR and Orange. My first question is who owns the circuits through which the calls go? Is it France Telecom like all land lines?

The are prices from low to high depending on capacity of the phone, duration of the contractual commitment, etc. My interest is to use the phone only for emergencies within France while traveling. If we use the phone a few times a year, it will be a lot.

We have a SFR and Orange and Le Clerc stores close by. I want a company who will respond to technical problems personally, not some robot over the phone.

What are your experts recommending? Thanks for your help.

Peter Lewis's picture

Hello Diana - I guess you've swapped to NC through the LiAin fibre. I am also with them although I never had any of the earlier alternatives, such as K-Net. I take it that the app concerned is the LaBox app, which also controls the NC largish square black box (which is a cable modem).

I have installed and (once) used this app & it did set up the recording I wanted. (I've never used the app to watch a TV programme, though.) That was on my English language Android, with a French SIM. You could try borrowing a French SIM from someone just for the install, though you might hit problems if your 'phone is SIM-locked, or if the SIM sizes differ.

If all you want to do is occasionally watch one of the hundreds of channels on the fibre, you don't need the app to do that. You can directly connect a monitor to the back of the box with an HDMI cable, or connect a digital TV to the output TV connector on the box. In my case, the computer monitor can be easily switched between VGA, DVI & HDMI and my NC box is next to the computer. Hence, if I want to watch some French rugby, I simply switch the computer monitor to HDMI whilst my wife could be watching satellite TV next door. (The computer can still be on & working, & you can switch between TV & computer should you wish.)

If you don't have a suitable monitor or TV, you could also watch through a computer using a cheap USB TV dongle. It would probably be preferable to watching on a phone anyway & dongles cost around €20. (Only problem might be that you'd need a physical cable from the NC Box to the dongle.)

Diana Pinnell's picture

Numericable TV Android app - has anyone used it?  I'm failing. My Android tablet is too old and won't upgrade to Android 4 so the Numericable app won't install. My phone is Android 5, so it would work - but won't install because it says I'm in the wrong country. The phone is a UK one with Three, but it's connecting to the internet via Numericable so why shouldn't it use the App? The latest tablet is Win10, no App for that!

It's not as if I watch much French TV, but I'd like to see local news while Sir is glued to UK channels, and I thought Android would  be the solution, but no.

If not, I'll have to find TV web sites on the laptop.  All suggestions gratefully received.

Carl Alban's picture

As shirley seems to have deleted all her questions from here I guess I may as well delete all the answers I posted :/

John Scully's picture

I don't think shoot 'em up games are relly 13" territory.
Carl Alban's picture

Gaming on consols fine Nick but I don't think folk that buy a Macbook Pro the gaming type or at last shoot 'em up fast video gamers.

That's what I mean, Once Apples are able to game people will doubtless buy more of them.

Brian Milne's picture

Acer Chromebook? Fine. My older daughter has one, mind you the metallic pink may not be to your taste.  Nice little machine, performs well, in fact takes some tough treatment at that. No reason not.

neil whitehead's picture

Acer Chromebook anyone?

Diana Pinnell's picture

May not be directly on-topic, but I just invested in a Dell 2in1 laptop while visiting the UK. i7 with solid state drive - boots up in seconds to Win 10.  As i7 SSD laptops go it wasn't extra-expensive and as the battery isn't running a mechanical HDD it provides longer life between charges. I usually buy Acer or Asus, but when I compared 2in1s with the Dell spec and price Dell won hands down.

I then blew a bit more cash on a Lenovo 10in Yoga tablet which comes with a magnetic keyboard so is a 2in1 and runs Win 10.  Phil has never been too bothered about Android so we opted for Win 10. We both love the tablet, but it does limit us a bit: you can't control Wemo switches on Win10, for example, and many Android apps which share screens or work with other machines may not have Windows versions, but the CCTV, IP cameras, weather station et al all work fine. I looked at the Surface but just couldn't justify the extra £200 odd.

About to replace the UK boiler - must make sure I can control it from Android and Win 10.......

My own preference for Win 10 laptop results from too many Android versions in too short a time leading to redundancy between phones and tablets - Office 365 won't work on my Asus transformer for example as it can't upgrade to later versions of Android. If a phone has to be thrown away every other year it is not fit for service with business software: I buy for 5 years payback.

James Higginson's picture

The Surface range look great, I considered buying one recently, the major flaw and the elephant in the room is that it comes loaded with Windows Virus 10 or whatever the latest incarnation of that 'OS' is. One of them running Ubuntu could be the business though :) *heads for cover*

John Scully's picture

All typos below due to my big fingers and small iPad screen :-) Might be a good excuse to buy an iPad Pro :-)
John Scully's picture

Gaming on consols fine Nick but I don't think folk that buy a Macbook Pro the gaming type or at last shoot 'em up fast video gamers. Gamers, and I know one or two, seem to enjoy configuring sort of hotrod type of machines with overclocking and super GPUs, even multiple screens, etc. They need towers with plenty of space and power dupplies, fans etc. can't see anyone whippng out a Macbook (or a Surface) to blow away a few aliens or win a GP :-) I can't see it being too satisfying on such a little screen. The reason for having a very good CPU and screen on a Macbook IMO is that unlike it's rivals it will physically last a long, long time and one needs to build in sufficient processing and storage capability to ensure it doesn't run out of steam bfore it pysically needs to be replaced. My five year old Macbook is still going strong but I just use it as a music and audio library now. My one year old fast Retina MacBook is perfect for photo and video editing. BTW, I'm a great believer in horses for courses insofar as one device cannot satisfy all requirements. That's why I think the Surface is a flawed idea. In fact, according to a New York Times Article I read recently, the latest MS strategy is to support the proliferation of devices and try and get their S/W on as many as possible. So the one size fits all Surface seems to actually be at odds with MS strategy. Maybe the Times spculation is wrong but their strategy isn't clear to except they they have adopted a new friendly tone in the narratives of MS Office for IOS updates. Bit like Ryanair's new charm drive.
Carl Alban's picture

Gaming on PC's and consuls is huge John and PC gaming is becoming more popular not less as people often think.

If all you were going to do is look at a few websites and fiddle with spreadsheets then there would be no need for a 'performance' mobile device in the first place.

Video gaming in general is giving Hollywood a massive kicking.

John Scully's picture

I thought that was what xboxes for for? I must admit I never worry about GPUs despite having a Retina display on one 13" MBP, never had a glitch and quality superb. My iMac has some mother of an Nvidia GPU but what the heck, it doesn't make Word run any faster. As with cameras in the past, I think pixels will be used as a marketing ploy when in reality the human eye will not be able to see any difference above 4K.  

Carl Alban's picture

If only Mac books could game... Things would be very different.

John Scully's picture

Fair enough Brian. The article seems to say that the Mac is faster in everything except if you are playing shoot 'em up games or doing heavyweight graphics which nobody would bother doing on a 13" anyway. Just more spin fro MS IMHO :-)

John Scully's picture

All a compromise between battery life and CPU power requirements I suppose Carl.
Carl Alban's picture

Is it me of has Microsoft so far failed to say exactly which i7/i5 chips they will actually use? It aint powerful until they do that.TBH I am not looking to buy as my 5 year old i7 laptop is still trucking along just fine and I like the 1920x1200 display. I do not need portable, Just movable.

Fast desktops are another matter though. I've not seen a 'fast laptop' that can shine a light on a fast desktop. Not even in the same ball park most of the time.

Theo Fruendt's picture

Carl, of course John has the right choice. The fact is that 13 inch Pro with i7 and 1TB of SSD is the best I have ever been using for working with Raw data from Nikon 800 and 810. Its so smooth, also video's (but for vids, I prefer Linux). I would have gone for the 15 inch, but this does not fit into the camera bag and when travelling a lot, most important equipment is better always close to me and not thrown at every airport on to caddy's, or worse, getting lost. Much depends on what you are working most: texts spread sheets etc, then the air is best, but imaging and traveling needs a more robust case like the MBP. If you work only at home iMac is better. You will have to figure out where and for what you need the computer the most. Brian's idea regarding Surface Pro 4 is not a bad idea and here is a Microsoft Surface Book vs. 2015 Retina MacBook Pro , The MacBookPro comes even 200 US$ less. 

John Scully's picture

The advice this guy offers is pretty sound. The air is still worth considering if you are very mobile. My daughter is a medical student in and out of hospitals all the time. We upgraded her from a (still reliable and in great condition) mid 2009 13 inch Macbook Pro to an maxed out Air and she loves it. My late wife loved her Air as well. I guess it's convience can outweigh it's lack of umph and storage for many people. I ungraded myself last summer from a simular Pro to my daughter's to a retina display 13 inch Pro with i7 and 1TB of SSD. It goes like the clappers and thebscreen is stnning. All our shared stuff is on a 27 inch iMac with 255gb SSD for system files and 3TB disc for data. It has a 3ghz i7 and is a joy to edit movies on.
Carl Alban's picture

Valerie Skinner's picture

Ha ha ha, thanks Theo.

Theo Fruendt's picture

Val, just to take your mind off the windows ;-)

Steve YATES's picture

Probably no reason to panic if you went through the real Microsoft site but if you are are worried surely your bank has a 24 Hr helpline for card users ? If necessary, cancel the card (assuming you have other ways of paying for stuff)How was the quality of their English ? The people from "Windows Technical Services" that keep ringing me all have really strong Asian accents that speak poor English.You said originally that you had changed the hard drive ? Was it for a new one ? Had you copied across your files from the old disk ? If not, where did the virus come from ?If you have the Windows licence (COA), could you start again from scratch, reformatting the disk ?

Valerie Skinner's picture

I contacted Support through the Microsoft site and kept checking to make sure it was https but I'm shaking now because in reality how do you actually know and they have remote access to your machine?  She said the virus could be corrupting the data and stopping the OS from functioning properly.  Seriously Steve, now I'm feeling sick because of trying to use the credit card and the banks are closed so I can't check.

Steve YATES's picture

@Valerie What business is it of Microsoft whether you have a virus on your PC or not ? They have sold you a licence to an OS not a clean machine. Sorry to ask but are you sure it was really Microsoft you were talking to ? (Why was the price in $ for a start)
Valerie Skinner's picture

How to waste more than 1.5 hours - get Microsoft on Chat and ask them how to re-activate Windows following a hard drive change as none of the product codes actually now work.  She scanned my computer and told me that there was a virus possibly corrupting files and disrupting the OS:

(1) They would happily clean it for me for a one-off payment of $99.  

(2) I said when I'd upgraded to Ultimate last year I was told that it could be transferred to a different computer if anything went went with the original (I have an old work computer so thought I could use that instead).  Answer: no because you might just transfer the virus and corrupt the other one.

(3) So if the virus could be in the actual upgrade installation surely then it's for Microsoft to foot the bill - no.

(4) So what happens if I fail to activate Windows (deadline today) - will I lose Bitlocker which is what I spent €193 on the upgrade last year to get?  What other functions will I lose?  Answer:  Don't know but the computer will still be infected.

(5) The bank refused to verify my credit card for the $99 payment and they're closed now until Tuesday.  I can try Paypal as that's on the payment options?  Answer: no, Microsoft policy credit card payments only.

(6) So I can't activate Windows, I can't pay for the virus nuking and I can't transfer the upgrade I paid money I can't afford for - am I basically screwed?  Answer:  Yes.