My Trip To The UK: Part 3 – Accommodations

When you travel, you have to have someplace to stay. Normally I book my own accommodations. This time around my client did it for me. So as a result, I am staying at the Premier Inn in Solihull Town Center. That’s located in Solihull not too far away from my client. The accommodations are good and the food is decent. Plus right around the corner I have access to all sorts of places to eat and things to do that’s within walking distance. That’s all good. The WiFi though has been hit and miss. Last night it was unusable. Tonight it’s usable. Though that’s typical for a lot of hotels as their WiFi is outsourced to third party companies. One thing to note is that you have to pay for WiFi if you want to do anything other than a quick check of your e-mail. Here’s your options:

  • 30 minutes free Wi-Fi per day.
  • After the first 30 minutes free access a £3 rate applies for 24 hrs use.
  • £10 rate for the week.

I decided to go for the £10 rate for the week as I didn’t want to worry about not having Internet access at the end of my stay. Though I didn’t get my money’s worth last night. Because I really needed to get some work done that required Internet access, I ended up using the Instant Hotspot feature which is part of the larger Continuity feature set that is built into OS X Yosemite and iOS 8.1 to get online. Seeing as I had a T-Mobile SIM from EE that gave me 1GB of data for £10, it made sense. Sometimes when you travel, you need a “plan b” of some sort if you need to have Internet access. Fortunately, my “plan b” is cheap. But to make sure I didn’t run out of my data allotment before Friday morning when I am leaving to go home, I went to a local Tesco which is a large grocery store chain in the UK and I bought what’s called a “Top Up.” Here’s how it worked for me:

  • I walked into a Tesco
  • I then walked up to a cashier and asked for a “Top Up”. You need to specify the carrier. In my case, it was T-Mobile and I choose the dollar amount that I wanted to “Top Up” which was £10.
  • I then paid the cashier and the cashier printed a receipt with a ten digit code on it.
  • I then dialed 150 on my iPhone 5S and followed the prompts to enter the ten digit code. I then waited for confirmation that it’s been added to the SIM.
  • Done. Declare victory and have a beer (which by the way, the beers are outstanding are relatively cheap here).

You can get “Top Ups” at a lot of places. Electronic stores, pharmacies, grocery stores, or do it online. Plus you can use a credit or debit card too. It’s very convenient. Telcos in Canada could take a few lessons from their British counterparts.

As for my assignment I had a very productive day today. Tomorrow is the last day and I am being promised a dinner at an “amazing” Indian place. I guess I will find out how “amazing” it is. Seeing as I had some downtime tonight (unlike last night where I went to bed early to recover from my flight), I leveraged that to install iOS 8.1.1 and OS X Yosemite 10.10.01. Now when it comes to the latter, I haven’t noticed major changes to the stability of my WiFi connection though Apple claims that this will fix all that is wrong with WiFi. But users are reporting that 10.10.01 has not made any difference to their WiFi stability. So I am guessing that 10.10.02 is going to be due soon to address this. Seeing as the Apple Discussion page I linked to is massive, they better get to it. One pleasant surprise that I got from installing iOS 8.1.1 is that I got about 350MB of space freed up. Seeing as I have a 16GB iPhone 5s, that space is welcome. Before I went to bed, I used the external hard drive to back up my Mac just in case I had another one of my well documented incidents of bad luck with hard drives in my MacBook Pro. Backing up on the road is something that most people don’t think about. If your laptop gets damaged or stolen while you’re far away from home and you haven’t backed up your data, you’re screwed. In my case, if either of those happens to me, I will at least have my data. One tip. Don’t carry your backup with you. I usually put it in the luggage that I check in when I travel and it is usually hidden someplace in my hotel room or it’s in the room’s safe it it has one. The hotel I am in does not have safes in the room, so in this case it is hidden. I won’t be telling you where though. In either case, the backup and the laptop should not be in the same place if you can possibly avoid it.

Stay tuned for another update tomorrow.



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