I READ Karlin Lillington's byline in The Irish Times and she has shared several relevant consumer items about the costs and hazards of technology. Her cautionary note about the prospects of encountering bill shock related to mobile phone usage hit home in late November 2020 for me.
WITHOUT ANY ASSISTANCE (and without being prompted), Dylan (7) just called my mobile phone in Ireland by asking our Amazon Echo Dot in the kitchen. I didn't think Irish phone numbers were configured for that service.
But after a little cross-check, I realised the voice call was simply a five star VOIP service tucked inside my handset's Amazon Alexa app. This means anyone with an Amazon Echo device who has me in their contact list can ring my mobile phone. I'm fascinated by the quality of the call and the natural language that makes all of this so simple.
WE HAVE OLD television screens and PC monitors that would benefit from the Asus Chromebit.
The simple device turns any television with an HDMI slot into a low-end PC. The dongle is no larger than my highlighter pen and comes in three colours (not pink or purple). It uses Google's Chrome OS which means it comes with 2MB of RAM and 16 GB of SSD capability. 
The Chromebit dongle has a swiveling head, so it will have no problems plugging into awkward HDMI locations. Power comes from a relatively modest Rockchip processor. It has both WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. And its USB 2.0 port means I could plug in a keyboard.
OUR HOME CONTINUES to pull its internet connectivity from a small O2 Hotshot dongle in a window (in the photo) facing masts two to six miles away. And the little dongle shares the data with a Kindle, a Chromebook, an iPhone, a Surface and a Lumia phone.
Lumia photo of O2 Hotshot at night.
Several other devices occasionally try to connect but the Huawei Hotshot limits itself to five devices. It works well, even after Three Ireland took over the provision of services.
I HAVE A RECURRING problem with the Microsoft Surface Pro 2--it loses its Marvell Avastar Wireless Composite Device nearly every time Windows 8.1 updates. I share some recovery techniques below the break.
THE ONLY SNAG I have encountered after 70 days of using the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 as my primary laptop happened one day when "We couldn't find wireless devices on this PC". I knew I had a problem because both Bluetooth and WiFi functions were offline.
Solving the problem was very simple. I didn't have to ask Google for help, I just searched for the answer on my Surface. I explained what I did as part of an Audioboo.
Photo of @topgold's O2 Hotshot snapped with Lumia.
[UPDATED 28 May below the break.]
FOR MORE THAN three years in County Tipperary, I used an O2 Hotshot to enjoy solid 3G service. But since early May, my service consistently downshifts to 2G after 10 minutes of use.
I need to figure out what has changed because when my connectivity rolls back to 2G, only my email works. I have become dependent upon multi-socket broadband while using a host of cloud services. Those critical services simply fail to work when the connection speed drops to 2G.
THERE SHOULD BE NO reason that I need to use more than 2 GB of data each month with my mobile phone because I know what apps are the most data-intensive. I overshot my data limit this month because I tethered my laptop for an hour and I watched more than two hours of HD YouTube videos this month.
I needed tethering for a few simple laptop tasks and failed to kill both Windows Updates and an automatic Camtasia download. Those two things resulted in a 380 MB payload within a 20 minute period and that pushed me through my monthly mobile data limit. More importantly, it means my monthly O2 bill sits comfortably above €140, double the amount I normally budget for my account. Telefonica Ireland benefits directly.
I'm confident that my Nokia Lumia won't try to pull any more data over the air because I have set up Data Sense to automatically throttle the phone's over the air data usage once I reach 85% of my account limit. The screenshot on this blog post shows what happened when I removed the software switch and permitted normal email services to run with five different accounts on my phone.