Free calls, free texts, free everything

07/07/2018

globfone-pc-and-mobile

I wrote about Globfone recently, but here it is again.  This time I’m writing a dedicated review, as it’s a blinding service and deserves all the publicity it can get!

Globfone.com offers free calls, free SMS, free p2p video calls and free p2p file sharing.  The service is all free, is planned to remain free, no registration or subscription required, the service is sustained completely by ads and sponsors.

On their site they describe their “Free Online Phone Project”:

The idea behind Globfone is to deliver telecommunication services like SMS and international calls for free to users across the globe. At Globfone, we firmly believe that there is ‘Love in Sharing’, therefore we are currently seeking to increase our coverage to more than 90% of major International GSM networks that we currently cover. Globfone WEB is a completely FREE to use internet service that allows you to make free phone calls, send free text messages, make free video calls and a free P2P file sharing service to all your friends and family around the world. This service works without For FREE! And you don’t have to install any special software or go through long registration process – Globfone is completely SAFE and EASY to use.

Their worldwide coverage includes 91% of mobile networks for SMS and 96% for calls.

Most of my experience with Globfone is the SMS service.  It is possible to send messages from just about anywhere in the world, to just about anywhere in the world.  And Globfone claims that it is possible to send texts to the same number repeatedly in close succession so as to have conversations via SMS.  This is something that most services don’t allow, reportedly to prevent spam.  But with Globfone, you can.  Imagine that you have a mobile phone but no credit or messages left from your allowance.  You can text message your friend, she can reply by texting your phone, and then you can reply immediately via Globfone, so carry on a text conversation.   Afreesms.com doesn’t allow this, nor does any other service I have come across in my years of checking out these kinds of sites.  This is something that Globfone is rightly proud of.

As well  as laptops and desktop computers, you can also send SMS from most smartphones.  And there is an app – Globfone SMS Messenger – for Android and iOS.

The free calls is a VoIP service that requires no registration, something you rarely find.  This service, as well as the SMS, there is an upper limit to the number of free calls and SMSes available to a single IP address during a 24 hour period.  When that limit is reached, the user is alerted and asked to wait 24 hours before using the service again.  And there is also a call-specific time limit: when you make a call, you are shown a countdown representing how much time you have left on that call.  The call-specific time limit is a pain in the ass – it seems you can’t make calls longer than a minute – but remember this service is free and you’re not likely to find better.

A good use of the free call service is to find your phone – if you’ve mislaid it somewhere in your home you can use Globfone to call it, the ringtone then helps you locate your handset.  Handy, and unaffected by the call time limit as you don’t need to answer the phone.

The webphone service is truly cross-platform as all you need is a modern browser  – it uses multiple different SIP/media engines including a Java VoIP engine – runs in all java enabled browsers; WebRTC – runs in all modern browsers; and Flash VoIP – for compatibility with some old browsers.  You also need to enable speakers and microphone, and optionally headphones.  And that’s it: as long as your computer has that, you can use the webphone service.  If you have problems, visit this webpage.

You can make free calls from most modern smartphones, but may experience difficulties using older mobile platforms, like Symbian OS.   If your mobile browser doesn’t support Java, Globfone’s FAQ advises using its mobile beta app – but I couldn’t find a link to that app.

I haven’t used the p2p services – file-sharing and video calls.  These services are peer-to-peer, meaning a direct connection is made between 2 computers, rather than using phone networks.  If any readers have experience of these Globfone services, please tell us about it in Comments.

The services are financed by ads and sponsorship.  In the FAQs, if you want to donate to Globfone or support it in any way, it suggests you “like” Globfone in social media, or place a link to the site in your blog.  So that’s what I’m doing here.  And look: here’s the link to Globfone!

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Free text messages! For everyone, everywhere!

31/05/2018

Nowadays text messages can be pretty cheap.  It doesn’t cost much to get a bundle or plan that gives you hundreds or even unlimited texts for a month.  And if you have a smartphone, you can use apps like Facebook’s Messenger to send messages for free. But if you’re not on such a plan, or can’t/won’t/don’t use Messenger, you have to pay the “standard rate” – in the UK, standard rate sms cost 12p on ee, and on Vodafone it is 14p!  That’s pretty dear really, especially if you need to send multiple messages – and if you are having a conversation with someone you’ll be sending a whole bunch of sms to each other.

text-messages

We all use text messages these days. For better or worse…

Which is where I come in.  To tell you how to send free text messages, from anywhere to anywhere. This is supposing that you have internet access, but of course I always assume that as you are reading this (which would be rather difficult if you didn’t have online access).  And I use a lot of posts on this blog to give you advice and examples on stuff you can do on the internet.

So to send free text messages from just about anywhere to just about anywhere, go to the website www.afreesms.com.  As I mostly send messages to people here in the UK, I use the dedicated UK service at www.afreesms.com/intl/united-kingdom as that saves having to select the country every time I want to send a message.  But for this, I’ll use the international service for examples.

Here’s what you see when you go to www.afreesms.com/freesms/:

afreesms

To start, you need to choose the country where the person is that you’re sending the message to.  You do this by clicking on the Country field at the top – this will give you a drop-down menu with nearly all the countries in the world on it.  Then in the Mobile Number field you type in the recipient’s mobile phone number.  You see that there is a + symbol at the start: this means the number is in International format so you type the number without the leading zero; let’s imagine my number is 07890123456, so to send me a message you’ll put in my number like 7890123456.

Now we get the Message field which is, surprise surprise, where you type your message.  Remember, this is sms, so your message must fit in the 160 character limit (but don’t worry if that’s not enough, you can send more messages).

Now we come to the Sender ID field.  Here they want you to put your mobile number, in international format.  If I was sending a message to someone, I would plug in my country code – UK, which is +44 – and my number without the leading zero, so it would be +447890123456.  I’m not sure why they want this info, maybe it’s about international sanctions; on the UK page, where people only send messages from the UK to the UK, they don’t ask for this.  But if you’re sending sms abroad you have to do it.

Next it’s the Verification Code.  The display shows a 6-digit number, which you have to copy into the box.  And there’s a refresh image which you might have to click on if you’ve taken a long time to type everything and the link has expired.

And finally, all done, you click the Send button at the very bottom of the page.

You should remember that sometimes the Verification Code or Send button is covered by an advert box.  Just click the X to kill the ad, and you can get to the fields you need.

In the FAQ they claim they have a 99% Success Delivery Rate, and if a message doesn’t get through it is because of the following:

  • Invalid mobile number.
  • The mobile phone that you are trying to reach has been switch off or is out of coverage.
  • Carrier-to-carrier error or network congestions.
  • If the status is Delivered and you do not receive this means either your country is blocking our numbers or there is no carrier-to-carrier SMS agreement in place.

In my experience, some messages just get lost somewhere along the way.  So I tend to send my messages twice, and one of them will get through.  This isn’t a problem for me as the service is free.

There is also an anti-spam policy (like just about every online messaging service, from email to Messenger).  And a fair use policy.  Other than that, you can send as many texts as you want, from just about any country to just about any country.  Here’s the list from their website (also links to the relevant page):

中国 (China) 台灣 (Taiwan) 日本国 (Japan) 澳門 (Macau) 香港 (Hong Kong)
대한민국 (South Korea) Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria

 

American Samoa Andorra Angola Anguilla Antigua and Barbuda
Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria
Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados
Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda
Bhutan Bolivia Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Brazil
British Indian Ocean Territory British Virgin Islands Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso
Burundi Côte D’Ivoire Cambodia Cameroon Canada
Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile
Christmas Island Cocos Keeling Islands Colombia Comoros Congo
Congo-Kinshasa Cook Islands Costa Rica Croatia Cuba

 

Curacao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti
Dominica Dominican Republic East Timor Ecuador Egypt
El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia
Falkland Islands Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France
French Guiana French Polynesia Gabon Gambia Georgia
Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland
Grenada Guadeloupe Guam Guatemala Guernsey
Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Honduras

 

Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran
Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy

 

Jamaica Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya
Kiribati Korea, North Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Laos
Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libya
Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macedonia Madagascar
Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta
Mariana Islands Marshall Islands Martinique Mauritania Mauritius
Mayotte Island Mexico Micronesia Moldova Monaco
Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique
Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands
New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria

 

Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan
Palau Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay
Peru Philippines Poland Portugal Puerto Rico
Qatar Reunion Island Romania Russia Rwanda
Saint Helena Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal
Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten / Saint Martin
Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa

 

South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname
Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syria Tajikistan
Tanzania Thailand Togo Tokelau Tonga
Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands
Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom
United States Uruguay US Virgin Islands Uzbekistan Vanuatu
Venezuela Vietnam Wallis and Futuna Islands Yemen Zambia
Zimbabwe

Iran is on the list.  North Korea, as “Korea, North” is also there, but South Korea isn’t.  I can’t see what other countries are missing – if any more are missing – if you notice any, please let us all know in Comments.

All in all a good service.  Make the most of it before it goes away.

 


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Sick of rip-off mobile phone deals? Of course you are! Read on…

24/09/2015

I have to use my laptop or smartphone a lot when I’m out and about.  I had an Orange (now EE) sim in my phone, and my allocated data ran out in no time.  For my laptop I had a 3 dongle, which wasn’t much better.  3GB per month allocation of data transfer: ok for the occasional thing, but if you need to use your laptop to its full potential and there isn’t a McDonald’s or KFC nearby whose wifi to steal, you’re going nowhere.

So I switched to giffgaff.  My phone was, surprisingly, unlocked, so I could use it with any network’s sim.  And what’s more, my phone (a Sony Xperia) has built-in function to use the phone as a mobile wifi hotspot.  No stupid cables, or dongles.  And the deals are great: I pay £18, which gives me 2000 mins (that’s right, 2 THOUSAND mins) of calls to other mobiles and landlines, and 0800 calls are free, as they should be!  Also UNLIMITED texts, FREE calls to other giffgaff phones, and 6 GB of data (which is a lot for a mobile service provider).  And if you don’t want to go through the hassle of changing your number, you can migrate your current number to giffgaff.

Tempted?  Give it a go.  Click here to get FREE GIFFGAFF SIM CARDS!!  And if you order your free GFiffgaff sim from that link, you will get £5 credit for FREE!!!

Giffgaff… give it a go.  You have nothing to lose but your chains!  You have a world to win!!  (cheers, Groucho)  😉

Giffgaff... so inexpensive, even diabolical infant geniuses use it!

Giffgaff… so inexpensive, even diabolical infant geniuses use it!

Oh, as I’m giving satuph away here, why don’t you treat yourself to a copy of the Codex Seraphinianus – the most brilliant book ever!!! [link] And the first reader to crack the code will get a “wonderful prize”!

See, reading I HATE HATE!!! is educational, fun, AND you get the chance to score yourse3lf kewl swag!!!


#Vodafone #EE and 3 (#ThreeUK) give police mobile call records at click of a mouse

10/10/2014
Shush!  They can hear you!

Shush! They can hear you!

Mobile phones outnumber land-lines massively. In the UK, there are 82.7m mobile subscriptions in the UK; compare that to 24.4m home landlines and a total of 33.1m fixed landlines (including landlines used for broadband connections). In the UK, 15% of people live in mobile-only households. And that’s the UK, a developed world nation where substantial land-line infrastructure already exists. Think about developing world countries where low rural population concentration and large distances make mobile networks a necessity. An awful lot of business is being carried out on these mobile networks: both private and commercial, on phones or online. You’d think all this communication would be protected by law, right? Duh! wrong answer. According to The Guardian:

Three of the UK’s four big mobile phone networks have made customers’ call records available at the click of a mouse to police forces through automated systems, a Guardian investigation has revealed.

EE, Vodafone and Three operate automated systems that hand over customer data “like a cash machine”,as one phone company employee described it.

Of the 4 big mobile networks, only O2 manually reviews Ripa requests (Ripa is the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which governs who can access systems like the phone networks). EE (the UK’s largest network, consisting of Orange and T-Mobile), Vodafone, and 3, all use systems that largely bypass any need for human intervention, basically meaning that access to these sensitive records is automated. With no manual oversight, mistakes or loopholes in the automated systems will not be detected, and can be misused deliberately.

Privacy advocates are also concerned that the staff within phone companies who deal with Ripa and other requests are often in effect paid by the Home Office – a fact confirmed by several networks – and so may, in turn, be less willing to challenge use of surveillance powers.

According to the Guardian article:

Several mobile phone networks confirmed the bulk of their queries were handled without human intervention. “We do have an automated system,” said a spokesman for EE, the UK’s largest network, which also operates Orange and T-Mobile. “[T]he vast majority of Ripa requests are handled through the automated system.” The spokesman added the system was subject to oversight, with monthly reports being sent to the law enforcement agency requesting the data, and annual reports going to the interception commissioner and the Home Office.

A spokesman for Vodafone said the company processed requests in a similar way. “The overwhelming majority of the Ripa notices we receive are processed automatically in accordance with the strict framework set out by Ripa and underpinned by the code of practice,” he said. “Even with a manual process, we cannot look behind the demand to determine whether it is properly authorised.”

A spokesman for Three, which is also understood to use a largely automated system, said the company was simply complying with legal requirements. “We take both our legal obligations and customer privacy seriously,” he said. “Three works with the government and does no more or less than is required or allowed under the established legal framework.

Only O2 said it manually reviews all of its Ripa requests. “We have a request management system with which the law enforcement agencies can make their requests to us,” said the O2 spokeswoman. “All O2 responses are validated by the disclosure team to ensure that each request is lawful and the data provided is commensurate with the request.”

Mike Harris, director of the Don’t Spy On Us campaign, said the automated systems posed a serious threat to UK freedom of expression. “How do we know that the police through new Home Office systems aren’t making automated requests that reveal journalist’s sources or even the private contacts of politicians?” he said.

“Edward Snowden showed that both the NSA and GCHQ had backdoor access to our private information stored on servers. Now potentially the police have access too, when will Parliament stand up and protect our fundamental civil liberties?”

So much information goes over mobile networks nowadays. Not just phone calls and text messages – there’s also the high volume of data transfer over mobile broadband systems. All this information is available to “investigators” who can interrogate the computer systems directly, with no need to go through a middle-man.

If you use a trustworthy VPN service, and encryption, you may be able to keep the data traffic somewhat more private. But the very action of encrypting your traffic attracts investigators’ attention. And voice and text message data does not even have that limited protection.

A solution, so far as computer and smart phone data is concerned, is available, at least in theory. If we all opted for mobile mesh networking, we could cut out the mobile networks entirely. And it wouldn’t be hard to include traditional speech (and sms) in such a system. And the software is already out there – for example Open Garden. These enmeshed systems are probably the future of mobile connectivity. The only question is: when will mobile users take to it by default? Most people don’t think the government snooping into our communications is a major problem (The “if you’ve done nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about” min-set). Will this apathy win out? I hope not. When I use a 3G modem or tethered smartphone I generally use a VPN. But I haven’t fully checked out the various solutions available – or their pitfalls. And I’m more aware of these issues than average. There’s a good chance we’re trying to tackle a problem that’s already out of control. Do yourself – andf everyone else – a favour. Do a web search for “mesh networks” and the other subjects I’ve mentioned here. Did you know that when you send an email, the message is only as secure as what you might write on a postcard? And things can only get worse.

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Is your smartphone spying on you? For millions of you, the answer is “Yes”!

17/12/2011

Here’s something interesting and disturbing I found on Bruce Schneier’s blog, Schneier on Security: Android app developer Andrew Eckhart has discovered spyware on Android phones that records keystrokes, SMS messages, phone numbers dialled, and sends all this info home! Amd this spyware is a rootkit – it runs in the background, recording info and sending it home, without your knowledge!

Check out the video on the Register page – it will make you look at your phone in a new light. Eckhart’s demonstration uses a HTC phone, but he says he is not singling out HTC as the villain – plenty of other manufacturers sell phones with the “Carrier IQ” rootkit preinstalled – and it seems you can’t even remove it from your device! Smartphones are rapidly becoming ubiquitous – so if Carrier IQ (the Silicon Valley company responsible for the rootkit) are not outed now, everything about us will be collected, stored, then sent home for whatever nefarious purpose Carrier IQ wants. So, is your smartphone a handy device or an Orwellian personal spy?

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T-Mobile make me sick

06/04/2010

I’ve got this deal with T-Mobile: I pay them £x and in return they give me “unlimited” mobile broadband on top of cellphone service.

Only it isn’t unlimited, is it? There’s a “fair use policy”, which isn’t very fair at all. If you look here, you’ll see what these unfair use policies entail: details vary a little from plan to plan, but the upshot is the user has a “maximum allowance” of data transfer – these allowances can be as small as 40MB per day! – and if you exceed this allowance (by using a mobile internet device for its proper purpose – ie accessing the internet) T-Mobile “restricts” your ability to use the web!

Here’s the message you receive if you attempt to access the internet once your allowance is used up:

Notice from T-Mobile

You’ve now exceeded your internet Fair Use Policy

At T-Mobile we want to give you our customers the best service possible.

Our Fair Use Policy (FUP) helps us do this and also means we don’t have to charge any run on rates. We will never ask you to pay more than you agreed, so you’ll always know how much you’re paying and never get an unexpected bill.

Each internet option comes with its own Fair Use Policy. We’ve already sent a text message letting you know you had reached 80% of your FUP, and now you’ve used over 100%.

You will continue to be able to use your internet for unlimited browsing. That means you’ll still be able to browse websites, login to Facebook, check your Hotmail or catch the news on the BBC.

For the time being, however, between 4pm and midnight you won’t be able to do other heavy usage activities such as watching videos or downloading applications. Before 4pm and after midnight your internet service will continue to run as normal.

Your Fair Use Policy duration depends on how you purchase your internet. When your Fair Use Policy begins again, either at the start of the next calendar month or your next purchase, it will be reset to 0 and your service will return to normal.

So “between 4pm and midnight you won’t be able to do other heavy usage activities such as watching videos or downloading applications”… or, indeed, downloading files from remote machines, or any email attachments that T-Mobile classify as “large”, nor can I upload “large” files… and this ridiculous state of affairs will continue until the end of the calendar month – unless, of course, I’d like to pay extra to get a larger “allowance” (though none have a particularly large allowance as far as I can see). And T-Mobile also bans the use of instant messaging over their network. No doubt because the availability of IM would eat away at their lucrative business of selling SMS to teenagers.

Because that’s what all this “fair use” crap is about, of course. The policies are full of bull like “We’ll monitor how much you send and receive each calendar month so that we can protect our network for all our customers”. But what it all means is that T-Mobile can try to guarantee all of their customers a little internet access at the expense of those who need to use the internet a lot.

I realize this is all standard operating policy now with internet service providers, so I shouldn’t complain about T-Mobile in particular. But I will complain about T-Mobile because they’re the bastards who are screwing with me right now! And I’ll also give Vodafone a special mention as I’ve suffered at their hands too. But they are all a bunch of wankers. Seems to me that there’s a cartel in operation, fixing prices amongst themselves so there’s nowhere for a cost-conscious customer to go. And of course, like the flock of stupid sheep we are, we hand over our hard-earned dosh to the robbers when we should be handing them their own heads.

But maybe they’re not all on the take – at least, perhaps some of the thieves are a little less dishonest. Next month I’m going to give 3 a try. They sell prearranged “data allowances” so I can pay, for instance, £15 and get a 3GB allowance. The prices are still outrageous, but maybe I’ll be able to use my mobile devices for their intended purpose – to use the internet while out and about!

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Chaos Communication Congress 2009: media files of presentations available for download

31/12/2009

No one can say the Chaos Computer Club is slow off the mark. The 26th Chaos Communication Congress, the CCC’s annual tech conference ended just the other day, and the German hackers have already posted on the internet audio and video files of the various talks and presentations. You can download video (.mp4 and iPhone-friendly .mp4) and audio files (.mp3 and .ogg) here.

I haven’t had a chance yet to view any of the files, but I will as soon as I can. The CCC made big news by announcing they’d successfully cracked GSM cellphone encryption – you can read reactions in the tech press here and here. This isn’t just big news – it’s massive (though GSM spokespeople have been dismissing its importance) – as soon as I’ve checked out the presentation and looked at any accompanying documentation I’ll post my badly informed opinion. But right now I can’t see how cracking GSM could be dismissed as unimportant; it has up to an estimated 3 billion users worldwide, which surely makes it very important to a lot of people. I think the GSM Association is blowing smoke out of its ass trying to minimize the bad press. But will my opinion change once I’ve studied the materials? Watch this space!

I doubt the GSM crack will be the only thing at 26C3 to grab my attention. I recommend anyone with an interest in IT (in)security to go look at the media files of presentations that always become available after a hacker conference. For instance, you can get video/audio of DEFCON17 talks here, and recordings from the Dutch hacker camp HAR2009 here. I find this stuff so interesting… and seriously educational too. So check it out, peeps!

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