Road Safety

Road Safety

So where do we start? We all have an opinion on Road Safety, but I don’t think any opinion is the same as the government. I also think the RSA (Road Safety Authority) is not fit for purpose – and does not represent value for tax payers bucks… but that’s for another day!

It doesn’t matter if there are 3 points or 4,5, or 6 points added to a licence for speeding – those who want to speed, will speed and take the risk. Adding more points just isn’t enough.

As a walker, I get a lot closer to folks doing 100km/h than a lot I would like – the worst thing, should the worse happen is I will see it coming! I often say that there are 2 types of driver… The one I prefer is the one who thinks I have the plague, and passes by 30-50meters in advance clearly indicating and on the opposite side of the road, the other is the type of driver who wants to see the colour of my eyes!

I wear a high-vis vest and walk into on-coming traffic as required. But I have felt very unsafe walking with some traffic passing so close I could tell what they ate for breakfast.

There have been way too many injuries and a record number of deaths on Irish roads in 2024 – but all it needs is some joined-up thinking, not knee-jerk, impulsive actions! The RSA and the Transport Minister (Eamon Ryan) need to earn their salaries, so I’ll give them a few ideas…

Instead of fines and points – Limit the power (hp) new drivers can access for the first 3 years and only allow incremented increases over the next 3 years.

Within 5 years

  • Ensure vehicle manufacturers implement black boxes for all new cars, vans, lorries, etc.
  • All new vehicles should be able to read road signs and ‘take control’ of the vehicle such as limit speed, limit speeds where roads are unfit for the speed the vehicle is travelling
  • Limit the horsepower to new/younger drivers with a scale to increase over 5 years as their experience improves
  • The government/RSA need to urgently review all speed limits on ALL roads as a priority
  • The local councils/RSA need to ensure that all roads are safe and fit for purpose
  • Cyclists need to be registered – lights, helmet and high-vis
  • Walkers need to wear high-vis – carry ID

But these measures need to be done in conjunction with a proper policing policy, which would mean a root and branch review of recruitment and wages etc.

Thank You Elon Musk

Thank You Elon Musk

How many times have you said “Thank you” this past week?

If you’re like me, probably not as many times as you or I should have, but I’m going to put that right a little bit today, the chances that the person (& people) I want to thank will even see this though are tremendously slim I still want to say it!

A little background to this can be found here, but last week I took delivery of, installed & set up Starlink!

A year ago, the thought of Starlink was almost unthinkable, the availability & then the cost made it unviable, so what changed?

Availability & cost did… The need also, the lack of investment – no not the lack of investment as the NBI (National Broadband Ireland) is doing a great job, picking up the pieces where the commercial companies don’t care – in rural Ireland. So thank you too NBI, for your efforts.

When the likes of Three, Vodafone, Eir & others don’t care enough to cater to the whole of Ireland but care where they can make lots of cash, even putting in a clause in the contract where they can put up the price every year beyond the cost of inflation, that shows where their care is!

Step forward Elon Musk – Yes, he is a ‘Marmite’ kind of guy… but love or hate him, he has transformed the world and will continue to do so. He and his companies Starlink & Space X have changed my world, for the better by not only providing super-fast broadband where others couldn’t but instead of cranking up the price like those above, bringing it down to be a lot more affordable.

What makes Starlink different too satellite broadband?

Satellite broadband uses satellites to link you to the internet rather than a cable wheras standard broadband uses your phone, fibre, or cable connection to link you to the internet.

Satellite broadband uses a small satellite dish to broadcast your internet traffic into space to a satellite. From there it’s transmitted to a ground station and then onto the internet.

Starlink is a private company owned by Tesla, X, & Space X, owner Elon Musk. It uses low-orbit satellites all around the earth to provide internet access.

The system is called a ‘constellation’ and will eventually be a web of thousands of satellites providing fast, low-latency broadband access to anywhere on the planet.

What Speeds?

So here are a few screenshots from Eir our last provider before Starlink…

And Now With Starlink…

This is just one done as I write this, but speeds have been ranging from 80Mbs – 300Mbs (with 130-150Mbs being the average)

Am I happy? Absolutely! I encourage you if you’re struggling with broadband in rural Ireland (or anywhere in the world) for check out www.starlink.com and if you need any help or assistance/advice drop me an email

So Thank you Elon, and your teams…

Broadband in Rural Ireland

Broadband in Rural Ireland

Oh how we all dream of an affordable broadband service where we can get speeds of 100Mbs, 200Mbs, or even 1Gbs, and if you live in a large city you might just have access to one of those, but if you live in most of rural Ireland this is only a dream currently – or is it?

This struggle has been real for the last 10+ years, going from one provider to the next regularly as either the cost goes up or the service becomes worse…

It’s not all been bad, we had a great provider when we lived in Roscommon – Westnet based in Castlebar provided real Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) before we moved to the Roscommon/Sligo border.

They were great and very helpful and the sales team was only ever a phone call away, they even arranged for a new pole to be put up so the cable ran to the house correctly. Even rang to see if they could supply a service to our new address… Sadly they couldn’t…

And our troubles started all over again – chasing providers and quality service as there are no fibre cables here and probably won’t be until 2026!

Our first attempt was ‘line of sight’ broadband using a dish communicating with a mast near Kesh Caves, this proved unachievable as there was a series of electricity pylons hindering/interrupting the signal… This was dead in the airwaves while the engineer was still beside our chimney.

Then trying Eir first, who promised 25Mbs on their fixed line broadband. This was installed one morning and by the afternoon after the engineer recommended “You cancel this, I’m hardly able to get a ping here…” It was canceled by the close of business…

I then tried Eir mobile broadband, which was adequate achieving speeds of 10 – 15Mbs 90% of the time, (after the modem device was placed in the loft), then the ‘welcome’ price expired, which also coincided with slower speeds… 🤔

Now achieving 5 – 10Mbs and paying twice as much as I was before it was time to start the search again, stumbling on satellite broadband – the company BigBlu. Though I had 4 or so months left on my contract with Eir I thought what harm let’s send a contact form looking for a callback.

Only to find they were strangely “not accepting new customers”.

Fast forward a couple of months, and the search for a replacement started again, determined to see if satellite broadband was the answer I found the above company had changed its name and was back accepting new customers…

Bosh! Signed up for their mid-priced package – the engineer called and fitted a dish the size of a Pacific Island country to the side of the house, but at least we had super fast broadband – for a while this was great but then after 10 months or so it all went a bit crazy and we only got the fast speeds when the sun shone, there was no wind, no rain, no clouds, no snow, no fog, and it was between the hours of 10 pm & 4 am.

This wasn’t great, so I contacted National Broadband Ireland again and they confirmed again we’re in an “Amber Area”, meaning we’re not a commercially viable area and it would be the end of 2025 before we’d get fibre broadband, and that this was an optimistic prediction.

Another visit to the Google search engine “broadband providers near me” =

Couldn’t believe my luck, 5G? Clicked on the link, and checked my area, and it was confirmed we had 5G coverage! I was beyond super-excited signed up to the offer price and waited for the engineer to arrive with the external antenna.

Still, as the engineer was here I was convinced he’d say ‘sorry mate’, but he went about his business and installed a fully functioning 5G service, my prayers were answered! I had a service of between 80 – 120Mbs – Unbelievable Jeff!

The service was great, not an issue… enough bandwidth and speed to communicate with the moon, as the house still looked like a local branch of NASA, with the satellite dish the size of a small country sitting beside the Sky dish and now an external antenna, to boot.

Now fast forward 6 months and the service starts to drop off once a week, then a couple of times a week – call to Three, an engineer visit is arranged and he comes out and all is good, while he’s here. He says he can’t do anything as “the service is within operational parameters”

But over the next few weeks, the service almost came to a full stop, and I made about 6 calls to the customer service department only to be finally told that the service was “degraded” as the mast serving my house was in the middle of forestry and was no longer able to provide a reliable 5G signal to our property. I guess the mast didn’t grow at the same speed as the trees around it…

Back to the start… No Broadband…

Let’s look again – all options at this point are probably exhausted by now. And as the area where the Three mast was also had Vodafone & Eir (Meteor) masts I’m guessing that mobile broadband was now no longer a viable option for us. So is it back to satellite?

Oh, look another name in the market Brdy, after trying to get a call back for a couple of weeks I gave up on this option… Hey Google, tell me how to get any feckin broadband in rural Ireland… Oh, wait no internet.

How am I writing this I hear you say, well, I have enough for a mobile hotspot at certain times, in certain rooms while sitting in a certain place… Not Ideal and while trying to figure out what is next – I have a lightbulb moment while checking the price of DogeCoin…

Can this be the answer? STARLINK

Starlink is a satellite internet constellation operated by American aerospace company SpaceX, providing coverage to over 70 countries.

So this has to be continued, I registered this week and there is approximately a 2-week lead time… but with speeds of 100 – 150Mbs and a fairly generous data allowance (subject to fair use) this could well be the answer, it’s not cheap and it is not fair that people who live in the countryside are discriminated against by corporate greed of the mobile & telecoms companies through lack of investment. But that’s for a different day.

We will post an update when we receive our Starlink equipment and again when we’ve got it up and running.

A Baby Flagship Phone – Becomes A(54) Satisfactory Replacement

A Baby Flagship Phone – Becomes A(54) Satisfactory Replacement

Sorry Samsung, but when you invest in a €1500+ flagship Samsung S21+ Ultra you’d kind of expect it to last longer than 33 months!!

Yes, Samsung (Exertis Ireland) has a few issues, I have had some problems ordering directly from them over the years, including lost products, delays, and poor customer service… Then just as I’m planning my tech upgrades for 2024 my phone totally bricks itself, worse still, it’s a Bank Holiday weekend! No warning, just 5 minutes earlier I was answering a text message.

Huge disappointment, everything is (was) on the phone, everything!

Then there was the ‘value’ aspect, this flagship phone which had become an integral part of my life over the past 33 months cost north of €1500 (and was now outside warranty) and was just a beautiful-looking paperweight! Oh, and that works out at approximately €46 per month.

What to do?

Scrolling through endless similar cases on Google I was becoming hopeful that I might resolve the issue, then becoming crushed reading more and more, as the ‘solutions’ were not working and the phone still showed no signs of life regardless of the sequence of buttons pressed or held.

Do I fancy using Samsung Ireland after my last episode or do I go get a sim-free phone from a famous electrical retailer?

Umm, nope is the short and definitive answer, no way!

Why? Well, it was a Bank Holiday weekend and with the history I’d experienced I decided to deal with the problem as quickly as possible, I like everyone (well almost, everyone) needed a phone as quickly as possible… The only problem is I live in rural Ireland where do I go?

Options were, placing an order online or travelling an hour down the road to two giant electrical retailers… where are my car keys?

So, with no idea what or which phone to get – Google Pixel 8? or back to Samsung, S22, S23? or go left of the field and go, Sony? (Yes, Sony – I had a Sony Xperia a good few years ago)

Currys Sligo was a disappointment, with no one available to assist and only about 8 phones to choose from.

Out the door and down the car park to Harvey Norman reluctantly… but my preconceptions were misplaced on this occasion, with the assistant being super-helpful & knowledgable – and even down-sold which is a clever way to nail the sale!

We spoke about my sudden ‘bricking’, the various solutions, and then the options on the table, with the benefits and advantages of buying a new flagship, but then he turned to me and recommended the Samsung A54 5G – a mid-priced heavy hitter with specs just off the flagship phones but at least a third of the price!

Tech specs

  • Display 6.4″ FHD+ S.AMOLED Infinity-O (6.3″ Rounded Corner)
  • Storage 128GB ROM
  • Rear Camera 50MP + 12MP UW + 5MP Depth
  • Front Camera 32MP
  • Memory 6GB RAM
  • Battery 5000mAh
  • Dual SIM

More than sufficient as a stop-gap, while I weigh up my options for tech upgrades in 2024, but maybe now is the time to change from Samsung?

As someone who loves photography and capturing more natural and off-the-cuff moments, having a camera in my pocket that makes phone calls is a must… first major outing was a trip to the UK and a spot of Pink Floyd in the fashion of the very talented Australian Pink Floyd – No better way to test a camera than in low light!

Another good test is nature and the light & shade that brings… And as you can see, the A54 seems to be able to handle both quite well…

The battery life of the phone is good, I’m getting a good day out of the battery on most days and weekends a little bit better.

So if you’re looking for a reasonably priced phone with the clout of a flagship this phone is for you, but just remember it’s not a flagship! It does lack a little performance and it has crashed a few times.

Save Money While Shopping! With WoolSocks App

Save Money While Shopping! With WoolSocks App

With the cost of living constantly rising and the size of what we’re buying shrinking, then if I told you that each time you tap your card you could be getting a few cents back would you be interested?

Well here you go… but first I have to say the link below is a referral link and I may earn a referral commission if you sign up and complete the registration process.

… The app I’m talking about is available in Ireland and Europe (not the UK currently) and is called WoolSocks – The Money App

Now, there is a little work to do before you start earning but it’s all simple and you’ll be up and running in a matter of minutes.

You’ll need to link your bank cards AIB, BoI, Revolut, N26, An Post (and a whole lot more including recently added PayPal) through Open Banking which means you allow providers to access transactions and balances in a specific account or accounts, at the time of writing this both AIB & Bank of Ireland are having problems with communicating with Open Banking again, but that’s not a great issue as when you sign up they’ll check back over previous transactions and authorize ‘Auto Rewards’ at the likes of SuperValu, Centra, Aldi, Lidl, Applegreen (0.5% – 16% cashback) and many more up to €5 for the first month and €2.50 thereafter – But then click on the shop through the App to shop with the likes of Amazon, Life Style Sports, Ticketmaster, Just Eat, Living Social you can earn up to 20% cashback, then click back to the App and confirm your purchase…

They do the rest and pile up your cashback which you can withdraw to a linked account or donate to a selected charity!

The app also helps with budgeting with a handy feature in the Insights section where you’ll be able to set each transaction to a category.

Join Woolsock today and start getting back – Click Here

(Links on this page contain referral links, which means I may receive a commission should you complete the registration process)

Save On Waste Weight… 2 Recycling Money Saving Tips

Save On Waste Weight… 2 Recycling Money Saving Tips

So how many of you have Brita water filters and each month you wonder which bin to put them in – then these wet weighty lumps of plastic are thrown into the household bin to make their way to the landfill… SSSSTTTOOOOPPP!!

We have a solution for you and it’s FREE!

BRITA distributor in Ireland Bluestone Sales & Distribution will take your old cartridges and recycle them! Simply send your old BRITA refills back to them, for free, to:

Freepost License FAU V92,

Bluestone Sales & Distribution,

26 Oaktree Business Park,

Trim,

Co. Meath,

C15 HK40

Alternatively, you can download a Freepost label here and attach it to your package.

Just make sure that you send only Brita filters and that they are dry and packaged well… we recommend that you collect a few months (or even a year maybe) of them together.

Not only that, if you drop a slip of paper in with them with your email address you’ll get a 25% discount code to use online on their website. Win, Win!

Also…

Do you own a Nespresso? (more specifically, a L’or Nespresso)

Well did you know you can send these back too? Yep, more weight out of the bin and landfill!

When L’OR Espresso receives your capsules, the aluminum is finely ground and washed, then melted and recycled to make new products. The coffee grounds are also recycled.

Licence DN 7345

Jacobs Douwe Egberts Ireland

Unit 3, Kells Business Park

Business Reply

Kells, Co.Meath

A82 K2E1

Alternatively, you can download a Freepost label here and attach it to your package.

They ask you to send a minimum of 100 capsules

Well, you can thank us later… more tip coming soon