Converting your BT landline to VoIP

About a year ago I moved to a different area and BT could not transfer my old London number to an address that belongs to a different area code.

I liked my number and I didn’t want to get yet another number, so I decided to convert it to a VoIP number. To do this, I had to change provides, as BT didn’t have this as a service. I joined Voipfone and I’m very happy with their service. To port your number to Voipfone, you just need to create an account with them and then follow these instructions:

It’s very straight forward, but you have to do this as late as possible before you move, as you will lose your telephone service after the number has been ported and, more crucially, your internet connection, if it is tied to your number (which usually is).

Then, when the number has moved to your new VoIP provider and your internet connection is active you need to get a VoIP base, like this one:
Gigaset is a spinoff of Siemens and its quality, stability and ease of use is fantastic. The N300 connects to both your telephone line (if you have one) and the voip line and both (or more lines) ring on the same phone. We currently have 4 voip numbers on our Gigaset N300. I haven’t bothered connecting the land line on it, as we don’t really use it. The N300 has a simple web interface, similar to the one you get on your broadband router. Setting it up takes less than 30 mins.

I use a mix of these phones:
You can connect any other DECT phones you may already have to the N300 base though.

You don’t really need the Gigaset handset and VoIP station, if you are happy to install a VoIP app on your phone/tablet/computer. When you travel, the landline comes with you!

With Voipfone, you pay approx £2.40 per month for the line and you just add call credit. I think that, for a whole year I paid about £29 line rental in total, £20 to transfer the line and £20 for call credit. We do most of our calls through skype and mobiles nowadays… Including the equipment cost, it’s still a fraction of what BT would cost on line rental alone for a year!

Originally I had Virgin as my internet service provider and no landline. I wasn’t very satisfied with their service though, so I moved back to Zen, opting for their fast unlimited package with a landline. Not as fast as Virgin, but more consistent service and no outages!…

Hacking an IKEA mirror [part 1]

In a recent trip to IKEA, I found an interesting and very “hackable ” item: the TYNSES mirror:

hackable mirror from IKEA

hackable mirror from IKEA

[link to IKEA]

I wasn’t really interested in the actual mirror. I was after the nice metal frame. I removed the mirror, which was held in place by 6 stickers and I’m planning on making it a panel on which I will add 8 buttons connected to a raspberry pi. Then the panel will be clamped on my desk, allowing me to run things by pressing a combination of the buttons.

The buttons will be at the bottom part, in two rows. I’m thinking of having an old Nexus at the top, as a mini screen connected to the Raspberry Pi.

I will post more on this later on, as I build it.

The distributional effects of austerity…


An article, commissioned by the Bank of Greece and written by Theodore Mitrakos, paints an interesting point of view.The last paragraph is an interesting one:

Finally, although at the EU level an important attempt to fight macroeconomic and fiscal imbalances has taken place in recent years, excessive social imbalances remain and social problems affect Member States very differently creating a pattern of divergence. These social imbalances – with youth unemployment and child poverty two important examples – should be a matter of common concern for the EU as a whole. If not, the credibility of the European project is at stake and the Union will lose its trust-based legitimacy that will be needed to perform better in the future.


Theodore here argues the point that fighting the current problems in a cost-effective way, will potentially undermine the EU project in the long run…

Working with wood

I have recently started toying witth the idea of creating stuff using timber. Previously, due to lack of space and for the shake of my marriage, I refrained from working with timber. No matter how I tried to spin it, there is not enough space in an one-bed flat for wood-working… Now I have a workshop, so I was finally able to experiment with wood.


My first creation was a simple shoe rack. Nothing really fancy, but functional. The aim was to simply take the necessary measurements and come up with a decent design that we could use for the shoes that pile up on the door by the conservatory.

(Design photos)


The actual construction was simple. I used screws to hold everything together, instead of proper joints, but for the purpose it will fit, it does the job.

(Photo of shoerack, no paint)


After I finished putting the pieces together, I started thinking about the colour. I bought a few products and tried them on small pieces. I don't think I used all products properly (i.e. I did not do multiple coats and proper application) and I found that the easiest product to handle as a beginner was the varnish:

(Photos of samples)


In the end, I got a beech colour varnish to finish off the job. This allowed me to have a great finish:

(Final result)


As an add-on, I put together a simple umbrella stand, which can be added to the side and create a simple, custom-made solution to the problem we had in our conservatory.

(Umbrella stand picture)


With the umbrella stand, I only used glue to put the pieces together.

I only used an electric jigsaw to cut the pieces to size. Te cuts were not as clean and straight as I would have liked. I have now ordered a circular saw, which will hopefully help me get better results in my next project.

In my next project, I intend to create proper joints to keep the construction together. Baby steps…