Vodafone freebee reward experiences

This post is a brief summary of my experiences trying to redeem my Vodafone ‘Freebee Rewardz’ points.

I have been unable to redeem any ‘freebee rewardz pointz’, since first trying on 02/10/14. Vodafone have been unable to help me resolve this problem to date. With their PAYG (pay as you go) SIMS, you accumulate ‘poinz’ for topping up. These can then (apparently) been redeemed for vouchers etc. See https://rewardz.vodafone.co.uk/#howitworks for details.

My first issue is that I (and many other people from the forum, including my daughter) cannot login to the rewardz site at https://rewardz.vodafone.co.uk/. We get an error when clicking on ‘spend your pointz’. The error is ‘You have entered an incorrect mobile number please try again’. Other people are able to login, but then unable to redeem any of the vouchers which are apparently offered. Using other browsers or clearing cookies/cache etc makes no difference.

After posting in the forum, I submitted a ticket on 02/10/2014 to get them to sort out my rewardz login. This was done using an email form, which you have to get access to by posting in the forum as it is not on the website.

I received some replies saying that they could not resolve the issue with the login to the site. So I then tried numerous times using chat, to get them to redeem the pointz for me manually. I was promised several times on chat, and even via email, that I would either be emailed or texted a code. Nothing was received in the post. Once I received a mysterious SMS, which said: ‘Here are your latest vouchers’ and then 5 characters. There was no explanation, and taking this into a store was met with blank faces, and I was told to ring customer services.

My experience to date has been:
– Stores cannot help with any issues with points
– Chat will say anything to get you off the phone, pretending to have resolved issues when they have not
– The staff on the support forum just tell you to raise an email ticket, and in my experience they cannot help either.
– If you try and call 191, you just get passed around in circles whilst you tell the same story over and over again.

These are just my experiences, and I invite you to share yours below. There is a link with many similar threads here http://forum.vodafone.co.uk/t5/Pay-as-you-go-services/To-anyone-unable-to-claim-their-Freebee-Rewardz/m-p/2332016/highlight/false#M56381

I complained to Ombudsman today and will see if that helps. So far almost 3 months and counting.

Installing OneDrive on Windows Server 2012 R2

How to install OneDrive on Windows Server 2012 R2. Unlike it’s desktop counterpart, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2 does not include the OneDrive client. But, you can install it manually. This is useful for a remote desktop (terminal server) environment where users may want to save their files online. Admittedly this is not a very secure option for most organisations, but could be acceptable for small businesses. I run this at home for the family on a small RDS farm, with OneDrive and Office installed, although Office 2013 does of course allow saving natively as well.

To install OneDrive on Window Server 2012 R2:

  • Disable Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration from the Server Manager, Local Server page, if you have it enabled. This will allow you to sign in.- Install the .NET Framework 3.5 feature
  • Download Windows Live Essentials 2012 from http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-live/essentials
  • Install just OneDrive

You will then need to sign into the app.

Note that this does give the inferior Windows 7 style Onedrive sync, i.e. you have to choose which files and folders will be available on the server. It does not use the placeholders like in Windows 8, unfortunately, since this is basically the same Onedrive client that you can install on Windows 7.

Lenovo Flex 10 SSD upgrade

I was asked for advise for a cheap new Windows laptop for a friend. I went for the Lenovo Flex 10, for the following reasons:

      1. Lenovo build quality & support
      2. Portability
      3. 4GB of RAM

This machine is currently £229.99 in PC World (http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/laptops-netbooks/laptops/laptops/lenovo-flex-10-10-1-convertible-touchscreen-laptop-black-10016057-pdt.html) , which is where the friend happened to be when I was called. So a quick bit of research, this is what I went for, the main reason being that it is relatively easy to install an SSD. These small laptops are all very well, but would really be about as fast as an ageing Windows XP netbook. Put an SSD in however, and everything comes to life – the CPU can keep up, there is enough RAM to have a few apps running, and with a decent SSD in, the system seems positively spritely. At the end of the upgrade, you have a small, lightweight machine with a fast SSD a shade over £300, not bad. So I also recommended the Crucial MX100 256GB SSD drive for £73.79: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crucial-CT256MX100SSD1-256GB-Includes-Spacer/dp/B00KFAGCWK/ref=as_sl_pc_ss_til?tag=highbird-21&linkCode=w01&linkId=&creativeASIN=B00KFAGCWK.

So the machine came along with a disk. A bit of Googling didn’t quite give me enough detail, so I will share how I did this here.

SSD Installation in the Lenovo Flex 10

You can install an SSD as follows:

      1. Prise open the 2 rubber feet. Lever open the side near the edge of the laptop, there is a hinge at the other side. I used a pen knife blade, be careful not to damage the foot.
      2. Remove the paper seal under one of the feet (goodbye warranty) and remove the screws underneath
      3. Remove all the other screws on the bottom of the unit. Keep the safe.
      4. Prise open the case, I used a credit card (a store one you don’t want as it may get damaged) to go all around the edge until it popped open. At the back near the hinge I had to use a penknife bottle opener to pop that off, it was quite tough. Then the whole back came off nicely, revealing the standard 2.5″ 7.5mm HDD. There are no wires or cables attached to the base, so it is a relatively safe operation if you are careful.
      5. Unscrew 3 screws holding in the HDD caddy. Note that in the picture below I mistakenly screwed one back in the wrong place, the top one, don’t add that one.
      6. You will then be able to slightly life up the caddy, and remove it. It is quite tricky as the one I had had some sticky tape on the bottom of they drive. Take it slow wiggling from side to side.
      7. Remove the old HDD from the caddy and install the new one. It just takes standard 2.5″ 76mm drives.
      8. Clip the laptop back together and screw all the screws in.
      9. Reboot, press Fn+F2 to enter the BIOS.
      10. Go to the Boot option and enable legacy boot.
      11. Reboot, press FN+F12 this time to enter the boot menu.
      12. Choose your USB device to install Windows.

Windows installation

What I generally do, is stick in an SSD if I can, and then do a clean installation of Windows, without all the crapware. In this case, I was not able to preserve to the OEM activation due to the version of Windows on this machine (Windows 8.1 with Bing), so I used on one of my own Windows keys.

The machine came with ‘Windows 8.1 with Bing’. The SKU for this is CoreConnected. Unfortunately there seems to be no way to do a clean install of Windows with this version (yet) – see http://forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/40897-Guide-to-preserve-Windows-8-x-OEM-Activation

Here are some images which may help.

BIOS for HP ProLiant MicroServer G7 N54L

System ROMPaq Firmware Upgrade for HP ProLiant MicroServer (For USB Key-Media)

Download: SP64420

Type:
BIOS – System ROM

Version:
2013.10.01 (A) (15 Nov 2013)

Operating System(s):
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 Server (x86-64), Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 Server (x86), Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Small Business, Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Foundation Edition, Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard and Essentials, Microsoft Windows Server 2012, Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Essentials, Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2

File name:
SP64420.exe (2.6 MB)

Important Notes:

This SoftPaq version will execute the “kbd” utility to upgrade the system bios due to a bootblock change.

Deliverable Name:

HP ProLiant MicroServer System ROM – O41

Release Date:

10/01/2013

Last Recommended or Critical Revision:

09/30/2010

Previous Revision:

07/29/2011

Firmware Dependencies:

None

Enhancements/New Features:

None

Problems Fixed:

Addressed an issue where Microsoft Windows 2012 R2 may stop responding while booting the operating system.

Known Issues:

None

Installation:

1. Obtain a formatted USB Key media.

2. Download the SoftPaq to a directory on a system running Microsoft Windows 2000, Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft Windows Vista, Microsoft Windows 7, Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Microsoft Windows Server 2008, or Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 and change to that directory.

3. From that drive and directory, execute the downloaded SoftPaq file: Simply double click on the SPxxxxx.exe file and follow the installation wizard to complete the SoftPaq installation process. At the end of a successful installation of the SoftPaq a web page will automatically appear to provide you with the different methods for restoring and/or upgrading the firmware on the system.

4. After the USB Key is created, you may delete the downloaded file if you wish.

5. Insert this USB Key into the USB Key port of the system to be updated and power the system on to boot to the USB Key.

Xbox 360 Games with gold complete list

This is a sortable table showing all the games which have been given away as part of Games with Gold. Useful to check if you cannot remember which ones you bought without downloading!

Note that you can buy an xbox One game if you only have a 360, in case you might buy in the future. Just go you xbox.com and buy the free game on there. There difference with Xbox One games with gold, is that you must have an active Gold subscription to play the game. With the 360, once you have the game, you can play it regardless.

See http://www.xbox.com/en-GB/live/games-with-gold for the current free game, and also http://www.xbox.com/en-GB/Live/deals-with-gold for the current deals.

The Nokia Lumia 2520 value proposition

Update: Turns out that this was indeed a good deal, John Lewis have now put the 2520 up to £399 again!

So it looks like the price reduction in the UK for the Lumia 2520 is permanent on the John Lewes site. I have attempted to compare 3 similarly specced tablets with 32GB of storage, and all with 4G LTE, this being one of my main requirements. I also tried to add in some Samsung Android tablets, but they are such a confusing mess of similar products (Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1, Galaxy Note 10.1, Galaxy Tab 3 10.1), and some even come with different types of CPU, which then affects whether or not 4G is available. I gave up in the end.

So we are left with 3 decent devices, the Kindle HDX, the Lumia 2520 and the iPad air. The Kindle has a smaller screen but benefits from low weight, however once you specify 32GB of storage, 4G and no ads version, the price really mounts up. The iPad as everyone knows is reassuringly expensive. Note that I have no considered the Surface 2 LTE as this is not yet available in the UK.

TabletKindle Fire HDX 8.9Nokia Lumia 2520Apple iPad Air
Storage32GB32GB32GB
SD slotNo Ads versionYesNo
RAM2GB2GB1GB
CPU2.2GHz quad-core2.2GHz quad-core1.4GHz dual-core A7
Screen8.9"10.1"9.7"
Pixel density339218264
4G/3G4G LTE4G LTE4G LTE
Price£449.00£299.95£579.00
Weight384g615g478g
NotesNo Ads versionIncludes Office

What seems amazing is that the Nokia is £150 cheaper than the nearest rival if you want a 4G large current gen tablet. Not only that, it includes Office which would require a £75 a year subscription on iPad, albeit that is a touch version. Most people are already invested in an ecosystem, so this probably doesn’t make that much difference, but to me this is pretty amazing value. The Nokia is a damned fine device and for this price is very tempting, if you can handle the lack of apps in the store. It is also the only device with expandable storage.

Install and configure a Remote Desktop certificate on RD Session Host servers

When installing an Remote Desktop farm with a RD Gateway on Windows Server 2012, you install a certificate for the Broker, Web Access and Gateway roles using Server Manager. However, this does not add the certificate to the Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) servers. This means that you get a warning when connecting to a RemoteApp or desktop, because the RDSH severs will have a self-signed certificate. You can replace this certificate using a valid certificate. You will continue to get warnings for the following reasons:

  1. The name on the certificate does not match the RDSH server name
  2. The certificate is not from a trusted root certificate authority

The best way to resolve this is to purchase a single wilcard certificate e.g. *.domain.com that covers both the RDWeb URL, as well as the server names. This also requires that your internal domain is a subdomain of your external domain. So you might use domain.com on the web, and internal.domain.com as your AD domain. Your RDSH server is then e.g. rdsh01.internal.domain.com. You could also use a SAN certificate.

Note that you should NOT replace the certificates on the RDSH servers as listed below, if you are using self-signed certificates and you want to be able to connect from clients which are not joined to your domain. Even if you trust the root manually, the revocation information will not be available, and clients will not be able to connect, and will give a 0x607 error. See http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/ru-RU/94780a11-23ba-4a3c-b11a-734007c2d2fd/an-authentication-error-has-occured-code-0x607?forum=winserverTS for more info on this error.

If you are just connecting internally from clients in the same domain, you should be able to use an internal Enterprise CA to create a SAN or wildcard certificate which you can use on your servers. So, only replace the certificates on the RDSH servers if:

  • Clients are all in the same      domain and you are using internal certificates
  • Clients are outside the domain,      but you have purchased commercial certificates

It is necessary to install the certificate on all of the RD Session Host servers manually. This is because there is no way to do this using the Server Manager GUI, and the certificate is not applied to session host servers automatically when configuring the certificates on the other roles.

  • Open the MMC and open the      Certificates snapin
  • Add the Local Computer
  • Import the certificate into      Computer\Personal
  • Open the certificate and find      the thumbprint on the details tab. Copy the thumbprint to notepad and      delete all the spaces.
  • Open up an elevated PowerShell      prompt and write:
  • wmic      /namespace:\\root\cimv2\TerminalServices PATH Win32_TSGeneralSetting Set      SSLCertificateSHA1Hash=”‎PASTE_THUMBPRINT_STRING”
  • You can check the certificate      by running:
  • Get-WmiObject -class      “Win32_TSGeneralSetting” -Namespace root\cimv2\terminalservices -Filter      “TerminalName=’RDP-tcp'”

Note that sometimes for the last command, you may need to remote the end quotes around RDP-tcp and type them in again if posting.

See http://blogs.technet.com/b/askperf/archive/2014/01/24/certificate-requirements-for-windows-2008-r2-and-windows-2012-remote-desktop-services.aspx for more information.

Customising the RDWeb web page

This outlines the customisation options with the default RDWeb page in Microsoft Server 2012, when using Remote Desktop Services with RDWeb. You can easily replace the logon and text at the top of the page.

As an example, you can change the default:

RDWeb_Default

To something like this:

RDWeb_Custom

Replaceable Company Logo Image

Add the new Icon into the image folder

  • Add the new icon into the images folder located in:

C:\Windows\Web\RDWeb\Pages\en-US\images\

Modify the site.xsl file

  • Backup this file:

C:\Windows\Web\RDWeb\Pages\Site.xsl

To e.g. C:\Windows\Web\RDWeb\Pages\Site.xsl.bak

The word Replaceable appears 3 times in this file. Do a find for this word to find the sections below:

Run notepad as admin and open. I find the easiest way to do this is to run Powershell as admin, and then launch notepad from there. That way if you close down notepad, you quickly launch as admin again without finding notepad.

Edit the file:

C:\Windows\Web\RDWeb\Pages\Site.xsl

Replaceable Company Logo Image

Change:

<img src=”../images/logo_02.png” width=”48″ height=”48″/>

To e.g.:

<img src=”../images/donkey_blue.png” width=”58″ height=”34″/>

Replaceable Company Logo Text and Application Type

Change:

<td class=”headingCompanyName”><xsl:value-of select=”@workspacename”/></td>

To e.g.:

<td class=”headingCompanyName”>msdonkey remote access</td>

Change:

<xsl:value-of select=”$strings[@id = ‘HeadingApplicationName’]”/>

To e.g.:

RemoteApps and Desktops

Automatic Virtual Machine Activation (AVMA) on Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter

Automatic Virtual Machine Activation (AVMA) is a new feature in Windows Server 2012 R2 which allows you to activate guest virtual machines automatically, when you have a Hyper-V host that is running Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter. This is a pretty awesome feature, especially in a test lab environment when you may have a Technet (RIP) or MSDN Datacenter product key, and don’t want to use up all of your activations on temporary guests. This is how I manage my lab at home, which consists of 2 HP Microservers with 16GB of RAM in each:

  • Install your Hyper-V hosts with Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter and activate using a valid key
  • Add the Hyper-V role
  • Install guests running one of the following Operating Systems:
    • Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter
    • Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard
    • Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials
  • During setup, either paste in the key below or add it to your unattend files
  • When you logon, you will find that Windows is already activated!
  • Note that you could also do this after installation, if you skipped entering a key during setup (see this post on how to do that), either entering it manually when activating, or use slmgr /ipk <AVMA_key>

These are the keys that Microsoft provide for use with AVMA:

Edition AVMA key
Datacenter Y4TGP-NPTV9-HTC2H-7MGQ3-DV4TW
Standard DBGBW-NPF86-BJVTX-K3WKJ-MTB6V
Essentials K2XGM-NMBT3-2R6Q8-WF2FK-P36R2

 

In my lab setup, I run sysprep on the first VM that I create, generalise and shut it down, and then create further VMs using a differencing disk with this as the master. This saves a lot of disk space. All the VMs using this template are then activated automatically with no further configuration required.

See http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn303421.aspx for more information.