Documenting Problems That Were Difficult To Find The Answer To

Monthly Archives: June 2011

First Time House Buyer in London

This is a nightmare. I’m not sleeping at night worrying. I wonder if I can organise my thoughts enough to make a coherent ramble.

Up To Now

I have been flat sharing – it is liveable but ultimately bites. I want a place of my own so that I can fix things that need fixing (landlords rarely care or get this right). But I didn’t have the deposit for a mortgage. Hence flat sharing – saving up my pennies.

Now I have enough for a deposit. Talked to a financial advisor and acquired a mortgage-agreement-in-principle! Great! I thought that was going to be the hard part.

Looking At Places

I’ve found some nice cozy houses I could live in. Well located. But expensive. I mean, these places have multiplied in value (according to the asking price) by 3-4x in the last 10-15 years according to values recorded by the Land Registry.

Can this be right? Three to four times the value? Is London really worth that much?

Agonising Over Value

Look around. Greece might financially collapse. Interest rates might go up. Unemployment is up. So I should be happy I have a bank prepared to lend, right? Actually, I’m not worried about that. I’m worried about buying a place, the housing market crashing, and I’m left with a heavy financial burden for the next 25 years. Perhaps unable to move because I cannot sell. This is keeping me awake at nights.


Maybe I could live further out from London. Instead of Zone 3 I could consider Zone 5 or 6. I pounded the pavement on Friday night in a few of these areas and whilst an equivalent property can be bought for £100,000 less or so the areas appear run-down and are noisy from traffic or trains.

Making An Offer

So maybe I should just make an offer on an expensive property in Zone 3. But then what do I offer? The asking price? Five percent less? Seems cheeky. What about ten percent less? Maybe the agent will tell me to go jump in a lake. It’s really very daunting. So much so that I don’t even want to do it.

The agents know I’m interested, too. They’re not bending over backwards to entice me. In fact it seems like they couldn’t care less whether I was amenable to negotiation in the first place.

All Alone

The worst part of this all is that I’m doing it on my own. No family friends with house buying experience. Or realtors. Or lawyers. Or builders. So I’m trying to make maybe the most important financial decision of my life without any feedback or help.

There must be so many people out there in a similar situation to me.

HTC Desire Z Upgrade to CyanogenMod 7.0.3

I bit the bullet last night (for all 5 hours of it) and rooted my HTC Desire Z and installed CyanogenMod 7.0.3.

The reason

Ever since I bought the HTC Desire Z from in 2010 I have had problems with messaging (text messaging, or SMS, as it may be known). HTC released an update around Christmas Day in December 2010 that significantly improved the ability to send messages, but for the last 6 months I have often received messages but not known about them until I opened the messaging app itself (maybe the day after). It has been a constant source of embarrassment to myself that I have appeared to neglect my friends – all because the HTC Desire Z would not always produce a notification icon in the status bar when a message arrived.

HTC did promise a release of Android 2.3 in June 2011 but it is now almost the end of June and the latest I have heard is that HTC may not release 2.3 at all. I was fed up and decided it was time to take a risk in the hope I would get better messaging on my phone.

The Upgrade

I followed the instructions at cyanogenmod’s HTC Desire Z rooting page to the letter. I installed the Android SDK following the instructions on the Howto page (I also had to download HTC Sync for the USB drivers from the HTC web page, the standard Google USB drivers do not work with HTC Desire Z and Windows 7 – so watch out, that was frustrating to work out). I had to downgrade the version of my phone (beware, the image size of the old version of HTC Desire Z firmware is around 250MB in size) before rooting. But the root went okay.

Then I followed the instructions at “Radio and CyanogenMod” to flash the radio software in my phone. I used the latest version ( from the HTC Vision Radios page.

Be aware that when using ClockworkMod Recovery you use the volume keys to move up/down in a list. And the camera button to select. The power button is like a “back” button. I kept thinking the power button was the select button and wondering why nothing was happening.

Lastly I downloaded CyanogenMod from the CyanogenMod Vision firmware page (version 7.0.3-Vision). And installed, from Marketplace, “ROM Manager” onto my phone. Then followed the instructions for “Second Method (via Recovery). Also I installed Google Apps from the Google Apps page (required for Marketplace, and Google Maps if you want it).

Lessons Learnt from the Upgrade

It took me about 5 hours. Maybe more. It was relatively straight-forward, the instructions on the CyanogenMod wiki are excellent, however it was laborious. I am a computer programming professional and I’m just saying it was laborious.

I also prematurely erased my previous installation. At the time I thought, “I don’t need to make a backup, I’ve already backed up my contacts and my SMSs”. However what I didn’t back up was my OI Notepad notes. Do’h!


GPS – holy moly it resolves quickly now, I don’t know what changed but it’s like a completely different device now. Using GPS Test from Chartcross I get a lock within, maybe, 10 seconds when outdoors. It used to take a full minute or more..

Messaging – I’ve yet to evaluate – considering it was the most important reason for wanting to upgrade. However I haven’t missed a text message due to absence of notification yet.

What do I miss?

I miss the clock/weather widget. It’s the best thing about the HTC phone. Sexy, but also useful, as it has a count-down timer and alarms. There are alarms in CyanogenMod but slightly harder to find.

I miss my Angry Birds game state. I had finished all the levels. Now I have to do them all again!

Was it worth it?

I think so. I’m not afraid any more. I’ll learn to live without the HTC clock widget. I feel inspired to write a better one. But ultimately the deal breaker is whether or not messaging works reliably. A phone that doesn’t do messaging and calls is like a luxury car that can’t steer or brake.

First Post

I have decided to create a blog Рwhy? Because I find out useful things every day and they might just happen to be useful to somebody else, too. With the amazing power of Google one can find just about anything Рwell, not really. Often one has a problem that nobody in the world seems to have faced Рso the more of us that document our discoveries the better it will be for that other, rare, person that encounters a similar problem in the future.