The meaning of colours in countries around the world

We live on a very diverse planet, and you may be surprised to hear that colours can mean very different things in different countries around the world.
For example, in India, red is the symbol for a soldier. Whereas in South Africa, red is the color of mourning.
Check out this fascinating infographic that highlights the variety of ways that colours are interpreted in different countries around the world!
What Colors Mean in Different Cultures

Freephone numbers will be free to call from mobiles

0800 numbers

For those of us that are frustrated at the high cost of calling so called ‘freephone numbers’ like 0800, 0808 and 116 numbers from a mobile, OFCOM has announced that from June 2015, “freephone will mean free”.

Currently, callers are given information such as:

“Calls will cost x pence per minute from a BT line. Calls may vary from other landlines and calls from mobiles may cost considerably more.”

Under the new structure, Ofcom expects call cost descriptions to follow a format such as:

“Calls will cost x pence per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.”

Ed Richards, Chief Executive of Ofcom, said: “These changes will be the biggest for UK telephone customers in more than a decade. We expect them to restore people’s confidence in using phone services, and to increase competition.

“Freephone will mean free for all consumers, and the cost of calling other services will be made clear. Telephone users will be able to see how much they’re paying, and where their money is going.”

3 scraps international roaming charges for US, Australia, Italy and Ireland

If you are a frequent traveler and international caller, you may be excited to hear that the UK’s 3 mobile network has announced that it is scrapping roaming charges across 11 countries.

International FoodBack in September 2013, the operator announced that anyone visiting Ireland, Australia, Italy, Austria, Hong Kong, Sweden or Denmark would be able to use their mobile in the same way they would in the UK. This would enable customers on a pay monthly contract with inclusive minutes, texts and data will be able to make calls, send texts and use the internet while in any of these countries, for free.

Today 3 announced that the service would be expanded to include the US, as well as Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Macau.

3 customers are also able to benefit from 1p/min international calls from the UK using PocketdialUK’s cheap calls service.

Smartwatches – Geek Sheek or Pointless Paraphernalia?

Smartwatches seem to be the new technological trend of 2013. But what are they all about? Is there any need for them when Smart Phones are so widespread?

What is a Smartwatch?

Smartwatches use optimum technology on a watch to ensure that the functions exceed the simple task of mere time telling. Because they utilise applications and essentially offer similar functionality to many Smart Phones, they are sometimes alternatively called a ‘watch phone’. It is basically a wearable computer.  As we know, wearable technology is big in 2013. Christmas presents this year could well include a touchscreen that is projected onto your hand or Bluetooth enabled gloves that function as a handset for your mobile phone. A smart watch could be at the top of many people’s Christmas list. Futuristic geek technology is becoming a reality!

The Smartwatch was originally developed by Microsoft with their Smart Personal Object Technology or SPOT for short.  This technology enables technology to be integrated into smaller devices, turning everyday objects into tiny usable computers. It allows Smartwatches to gather data and be used for GPS. It also allows data to be transmitted, so a Smartwatch can be used for finding out the weather or telling your Horoscope, for example.

What are the best Smartwatches on the Market?

The ‘I’m Watch’ is one of the best looking smartwatches on the market today. It is Italian made and with a modern and sleek view. No wonder they are so popular. But highlights the problem of software, which just doesn’t seem quite complete. They feel that the Pebble Smartwatch is top of the list. The Pebble Smartwatch was originally funded through Kickstarter, and was one of the highest funded projects in the history of the site. It is iPhone and Android compatible.

Smartwatch development hasn’t been restricted to the consumable electronics companies either. Mashable have reviewed the Nissan Smartwatch. Yes, that’s right – Nissan! The Nissan Nismo Smartwatch is a niche smartwatch that has been specifically developed for racing car drivers.

The best Smartwatches - The Pebble Smartwatch Image Credit: netzkobold on Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)

The Pebble Smartwatch
Image Credit: netzkobold on Flickr
(Creative Commons 2.0)

Smartwatches – Is there any point, really?

In our previous article, we highlighted the extensive growth of the smart phone. If smartphone ownership is as high as figures show, and our phones now act as mini computers, is there really any point to the smart watch?  Or is the Smart Watch just another geeky gimmick that people will use to show off with?

Well, the Smartwatch is a good way to find out information and receive notifications without constantly checking your mobile phone. It’s a subtle way to find something out – during a film or in a meeting, for example. Also, the technology is improving, and many Smart Watches allow for updates as cool new apps are being developed. So, if this sounds like something that would benefit you, go ahead and jump in!

However, many technology enthusiasts are suggesting that it is better to wait until the big players such as Apple and Google enter the Smartwatch Arena.  As we know that wearable technology is evolving fast, it may be better to hold off on the purchase, until we see the real big exciting developments over the next 12 months.

What’s your view on Smartwatches?

What do you think about Smartwatches? Geek sheek, or pointless paraphernalia? Do leave your comments on our blog. Maybe you already own a Smartwatch, and want to share your review. If so, we’d love to hear from you.

Apple vs Android and the increase in the use of Smartphones

Apple vs Android is an increasingly debated topic, especially with the massive growth of smartphones worldwide. This blog explores the growth of the smartphone and looks at why Android may be overtaking apple’s iPhones in the current market.

The Growth of Smartphones Worldwide

The growth of Smartphones is occurring worldwide. In some African countries, such as Rwanda and Kenya, the ‘landline’ has been skipped, and people are going straight to the use of smartphones instead. According to the Business Insider, there will be an estimated 1.4 billion smartphones in the world by December this year. That’s 1 in 5 people owning a smartphone.

The Apple vs Android Debate

The Apple iPhone has previously been one of the best selling smartphones. This is probably due to ease of use and the popularity of Apple as a brand. The iPhone 5 was released in September 2012. In all honesty, there doesn’t seem to be too much difference between the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5.  Many people have gone for the iPhone 4 for better value. The iPhone 6 is rumoured to be released in the first half of 2014, which will boast a retina display. But will this be another overpriced gimmick?

Recently, Android appears to be catching up, and many are even voting for Android over Apple. Some of the top Android models include the Sony Experia, Samsung Galaxy note and the HTC One. There is a great deal of recent research suggesting that smartphones with the Android operating system are overtaking the iOS (apple iPhone) operating system. Following the apple vs android debate, the Telegraph recently reported that Apple’s share in the global smartphone operating system market has decreased, while there has been an increase in Android smartphone sales. Mashable has recently reported that Android is the dominant operating system globally, and beat Apple to the 1 million apps mark.

Android phones boast larger screens, such as the Galaxy S4. Android operating systems also allow the software to be customisable, such as on the new HTC One. Android has other added advantages – most apps are originally developed for Android. Although most apps are available for apple as well, Android was the original platform that they were released on. Android devices use a universal USB connector, making Android devices more universal. Apple clearly has some tough competition.

Apple vs iPhone – Top 5 reasons Android is better than Apple

International Calls from Mobile Phones

Increasing amounts of people are now making cheap international calls from a mobile. This is due to the rise in services such as Pocketdial UK, which allow the use of top up to talk access numbers.

Vote here – Apple vs Android

Which smartphone operating system do you prefer? Vote for apple vs android by leaving your comments on our blog and our Facebook page.


Worldwide Holidays in August: Celebrations around the World

We are in the month of August. The middle of the UK summer is here. As an international calls company, here at Pocketdial UK, we love to find out what is going on world wide. Our blog outlines some of the most interesting worldwide holidays in August. This includes the Muslim Festival of Eid-Ul-Fitr and the Chinese version of Valentines Day!

Eid-Ul-Fitr: One of the largest Worldwide Holidays in August

Eid-Ul-Fitr is a Muslim festival that celebrates the end of Ramadan. Muslims worldwide have been fasting for Ramadan to show their devotion to Allah (God). It also helps them to think about the poor and hungry people in the world and do something to help the less fortunate. During the month of Ramadan, not even a glass of water will pass the lips of Muslims between sunrise and sunset.

Eid-Ul-Fitr is celebrated around the world by feasts, gift giving and even fireworks. It is one of the largest worldwide holidays. The fast of Ramadan is broken and there will also be worship and prayer. Big celebrations will occur all around the world. Eid is widely celebrated across Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, to mention just a few countries with a significant Muslim population. In the UK, Rusholme in Manchester is a fantastic place to join in the Eid celebrations.

Eid prayer at Nishapur Image credit: Sonia Sevilla for Wikimedia Commons

Worldwide Holidays: Eid prayer at Nishapur
Image credit: Sonia Sevilla for Wikimedia Commons

The Double Seven Festival: China

The Double Seven or Double Seventh festival in China seems to be the Chinese parallel to Valentine’s Day in the UK! It is known as the Qixi festival in China. The story is based on ancient Chinese mythology, commemorating the annual meeting of the cowherd and the weaver girl, whose love was forbidden.

It is sometimes known as the Magpie festival. This is because Zhinu and Niulang got married without the knowledge of the Goddess, so the Goddess put a river between them. They were forced to sit on opposite sides of the river and be without each other. But once a year, all the magpies in the universe felt pity on them, and flew together to make a bridge so that the lovers could be reunited.

During the Double Seven Festival, young girls pray to Zhinu for wisdom and wish for a loving husband. Girls display their domestic skills, including needlework, which show the qualities of a good spouse. The festival is also significant to newly married couples as it symbolises a happy marriage.

The Ghost Festival of Taiwan

The mid-summer Ghost Festival of Taiwan takes place on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month. This lunar month is ‘ghost month’ and on the date of this festival, it is said that the gates of the underworld are opened! This is the Taiwan equivalent to Halloween in the Western World.

If you are in Taiwan for the summer ghost festival, you are likely to see both Buddhist and Taoist ritual dances and chanting of priests. The burning of paper spirit money is a popular tradition.  Offerings are made to the ghosts, to help them to pass on to the spirit world.

Worldwide Holidays: Ghost Festival of Taiwan - Keelung Image Credit: Bigmorr for Wikimedia Commons

Ghost Festival of Taiwan – Keelung
Image Credit: Bigmorr for Wikimedia Commons

Other Worldwide Holidays in August

There are many other worldwide holidays in August. Assumption day, the Christian festival of the Virgin Mary is celebrated in many parts of Europe and the USA. The Parsi New Year is celebrated in India. The birthday of Zoroaster is celebrated in Pakistan.

Which worldwide holidays will you be celebrating this August, and where? Do comment on our blog!

UK Heat Wave 2013 – How to cope with the heat!

Coping with the UK Heat Wave

This year, 2013, the UK has seen the hottest summer for over a decade. The UK heat wave has seen temperatures reaching over 30 degrees in some parts, including London. In Britain, we love the sun – probably because we don’t often get much of it! But remember to look after yourself and stay safe in the heat. Drink lots of water to avoid dehydration and protect your skin.

Looking after your skin in the UK Heat Wave

You should never go out into the sun without sun screen. UV rays can be damaging to the skin, causing ageing. Exposure to the sun is also linked to skin cancer. Make sure that you use a sun screen with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor). If you have SPF Factor 30, that essentially means that you can stay in the sun for 30 times longer than if you didn’t have it on. However, this is an oversimplification of SPF, as the intensity of the suns rays is different at different times. SPF is basically the amount of UV radiation required to cause sunburn on the skin with the sunscreen on.

Looking after Children and the Elderly in the Heat Wave

The UK heat wave particularly poses a problem to children and the elderly.  This is a big issue in Britain as people are not used to the heat. Getting an oscillating fan or a portable fan can be great for keeping adults and children cool.

Babies must never be left out in the sun unsupervised or unprotected. In the UK heat wave of 2013, there have already been some cases of babies being admitted to hospital with severe sunburn. Heat stroke can be fatal. Only take babies out in the sun if absolutely necessary. When they are out in it, make sure they are fully covered with sun screen, a hat and light clothing. A parasol will also help to keep them in the shade.

Playing in paddling pools can be great fun in the sun for toddlers and small children. This can also keep them cool. Remember to top up sun screen when they come out of the pool.

Animals in the UK Heat Wave – Don’t have a Hot Dog!

The sun is particularly harsh to our furry friends. Animals suffer in the heat, particularly dogs. Dogs cannot sweat, and lose heat by panting. Therefore, the UK heat wave has been uncomfortable or them.  Keep your dog cool with a fan is a good idea. Many dogs love to swim or play with sprinklers too. Make sure that you never leave your dog in a car during the summer. The windows act as a greenhouse, and dogs can die in hot cars very easily.

Keep your dog cool in the UK Heat Wave! Image Credit: wheany on flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)

Keep your dog cool in the UK Heat Wave!
Image Credit: wheany on flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)

Advantages of the UK Heat Wave

The great thing about the UK heat wave is that British tourism has boomed. People who have booked to go abroad have been disappointed that they will miss the UK weather! Coastal holiday destinations including cities such as Plymouth and Brighton have seen bookings increase and packed beaches. Mainland UK cities, such as York and Bath, have also noticed an increase in tourism.

Barbeques are happening all over, and beer gardens are thriving – just what the UK needed to pick us up in the so called ‘triple dip recession’. What have you been doing to enjoy the UK heat wave? Do leave your comments on our blog!

Family Abroad? Keeping tabs on Travelling Friends or Family

Having a friend or member of the family abroad can be difficult to deal with, especially if it is a son or daughter. They may be seeing the world and having an amazing time. But you may be constantly worrying. There are many ways that you can reassure yourself and be there to help in an emergency. This blog outlines how you can keep in touch via the internet and be there to help and support your friends and family abroad.

Family Abroad - Urban Backpacking Image Credit: Public Domain

Family Abroad – Urban Backpacking
Image Credit: Public Domain

Use Social Media and the internet to keep in touch with Friends and Family Abroad

The internet can now be found all over the world. Even in some of the most remote parts, your travelling friends and family can probably find an internet cafe. Although it will sometimes be a slower connection than they are used to, it will probably be good enough to communicate.

By following your friends and family abroad on Facebook and Twitter, you can easily see their status updates. With modern technology, you will probably be able to see their photos even before they get back! If they are uploading photos as they travel, that is.

Having copies of their Itinerary and Passport

Make sure that you have a copy of your friend or family members travel itinerary. This way, you can know what to expect. There may be times when they cannot get in touch – if they are trecking in the Himalayas, for example. If you have a copy of their trip itinerary, you won’t be worried if this happens!

You can also ensure that your friends and family abroad are safe when they are travelling, if you know which areas or countries they are in.  If you are worried about safety or political issues, you can encourage them to use the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website. This will always be up to date with travel advice and recommend certain areas to avoid. Remember that if there is political unrest, this is often confined to certain areas such as the capital city or borders with other countries. Not all areas of a country are unsafe. So if your friends or family members have done their research, try not to worry too much!

Having a copy of their travel insurance documents and passport can be invaluable in an emergency situation. If their bag is stolen with their passport in it, scanning and emailing a copy of their passport to them may make it easier for them to get a replacement, or get home. During the event of an accident or sickness, it is helpful for you to be able to reassure them and help by phoning the insurance company.

Telephone and Communication

It’s a great idea for your friends or family abroad to get an international SIM card for their mobile. This will make it easier for them to contact you or vice versa. Remember that in poorer countries, phones can easily be stolen. So it is a good idea to get a cheap basic mobile, and leave the iPhone or Smartphone at home whilst travelling!  You can easily buy a SIM card when you are travelling, just walk into the nearest phone shop and they will sell you one or tell you where to go. Mobile top ups are popular in many parts of Africa and Asia. You can often see little booths that will sell you SIMS and phone top ups.

A BT chargecard can be a good idea, especially if you have a son or daughter travelling abroad. It will allow them to make calls from anywhere, and they can be charged to your phone bill or by direct debit.

If your travelling friends or family have a landline where they are, such as a hotel, you can call them using Pocketdial UK. Our calls use a calling account number and therefore have no monthly bills. You can call abroad with Pocketdial UK from just 1p a minute. Do check with your phone provider, e.g. BT, to find out about any additional charges from them.

Bank Details and Online Banking

If you have the bank details of your travelling friends and family at the ready, it will make it easier to transfer money to them in an emergency. You can usually draw money out of a British bank from cashpoints abroad.

If there is no bank or the transfer is not working, Western Union is a good option for international bank transfers.  You send money via Western Union to any receiving country, and attach a password to it. If your friend or family member goes into a Western Union branch with their ID and the password, they will be able to get it.

We hope that you have found this blog helpful is you have friends and family abroad. If you can think of more ways to be prepared for travelling friends and family, do comment on our blog.