Technical frippery

By technical frippery I mean technology and gadgets that really aren't worth the bother. They don't really save a great deal of time or effort. There's a lot of them around these days and I thought I'd muse on the subject for a few hundred words.

Smarter iKettle 3 review

I do like my tea. I probably drink too much of it. But with my old kettle playing up I had the perfect opportunity to upgrade to something interesting and I ended up with Smarter's iKettle 3, which I review here.

Casio G-Shock Mudmaster GWG-1000 review

My trusty Omega Seamaster went bang after 20 years and I wanted something completely different, so I went for a Casio Mudmaster which is about as different as you can get to an Omega. Anyway here's my review of the watch.

Supremely Washable 4.5 Tog Printed Duvet review

I'm so unfailingly lazy that a duvet one doesn't need to extract covers from to wash is always going to appeal. In this case I'm talking about one of Marks' Washable Duvets, which I review here.

Tenda Nova Mesh WiFi review

I've always suffered from poor wi-fi here, just one room away from the router. That's due to the thick walls in the old building I live in. I've previously used Powerline plugs but I wanted to see if a mesh wi-fi system could handle things. The one I went with was a Tenda Nova MW6, which I review here.

Apple's Reminders app needs two features

I find Apple's Reminders app frustrating. It could so easily turn from something that's a bit 'meh' into an app that's central to everything I do. It feels unfinished at present and I hope it's something Apple will address in the future.

Schema.org for a blog

I've used schemas on my website almost since I started it. I haven't found the internet particularly helpful in guiding me with schema for a blog so maybe everyone else just makes it up as they go along like I do. In this article I show how I use schema, which seems to work reasonably well for me.

Wilkins Cider Farm, Mudgley, Somerset

I had the pleasure of visiting Wilkins Cider Farm a few weeks ago, which is excellent. I recommend a visit if you're ever in Somerset.

Coda review - nearly the perfect code editor

Despite no longer coding professionally, I still code for my own purposes. It's mainly web-based coding and I need some sort of code editor to help me out. In this article I review Coda, which is one of the main code editors in my toolbox. Over all, it's a great app but it suffers from a couple of problems.

Dark Sky Weather review

I downloaded the Dark Sky Weather app for iOS, which I tested for seven days and review in this article. It has been said that Dark Sky is pretty good at predicting US weather but I wanted to see how it copes with the festering cauldron of weather we get in the UK. It didn't do a bad job, as it happens, although I did notice one or two interface problems.

Ironmaster Super Bench Leg Attachment review

In general I love Ironmaster kit. I have an IM2000 and a Super Bench and I rate both highly. I am however a little disappointed with the Ironmaster Super Bench Leg Attachment, which I review here. Don’t get me wrong, it’s comparable to most leg attachments from other companies, it’s just that I expect more from Ironmaster and there are a few deficiencies with the product that I wouldn’t expect from this company.

Please telly, have mercy on me

I positively despise talent shows and reality TV. I simply do not understand how enough people watch this drivel to keep justifying the new series’ the television networks constantly inflict on us. What specific ‘hook’ — the one that draws everyone in — am I missing here?

BodyRip Cast Iron Fractional Weight Plates review

Fractional - or micro - weight plates (1kg or less) can be useful if you're trying to overcome a sticking point. In this article I review the BodyRip Cast Iron Fractional weight plates I bought for this very purpose. I have the 0.5kg and 0.25kg plates.

The Infowars debate and a website's whims

Infowars is complete nonsense in my opinion but it raises a bigger question: the rights a privately-owned website has to determine what content they allow. I argue that their right to choose what content they show and who they allow to post on their site is absolute, as long as it's legal.

Five good books I’ve read in 2018

Five fiction books I've read in 2018 and would recommend, along with very brief reviews. 'The Good Daughter' by Karin Slaughter, 'The Outsider' by Stephen King, 'Norse Mythology' by Neil Gaiman, 'How To Stop Time' by Matt Haig and 'Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine' by Gail Honeyman.

Why reading beats video for information and instruction

I like to read and I firmly believe that, most of the time, written articles are better than videos or podcasts for imparting information and instruction. This article represents my dubious attempt to justify that position. I'm not against video and audio per se - indeed I love watching films or listening to music - I'm talking about things like help texts, how-to articles and similar.

OmniFocus review

There are many list taking and mild project management apps for Apple products. I've tried a few of them but OmniFocus remains my favourite. In this article I review OmniFocus 2 for macOS and 3 for iOS, the latter of which finally brings proper support to the iPad platform. I really like this app and it would have a five star rating if it wasn't for a couple of features in the iOS app that particularly bother me.

Controlling your own creative content and IndieWeb

I've long bleated on about why you should have your own website rather than use the so-called 'corporate web' and I bleat on about some more here. I do feel this is a really important issue and it's the only way to protect your own words, photos and videos, immune to the whims of the likes of Facebook, Google, Tumblr, Blogger and similar. I also point to IndieWeb in this article as they provide an excellent blueprint for doing just this.

What happened to John Lewis?

A recent experience with John Lewis has made me reassess a company I always used to have a great deal of respect for.

Bodypower Rubber-Encased Tri-Grip Olympic Weight Plates review

When I set up my home gym, I decided to use Bodypower Rubber-Encased Tri-Grip Olympic Weight Plates and I've mostly stuck with them throughout, adding additional plates as necessary. I have a couple of minor reservations but they're pretty good over all as you'll see by this review.

Filemaker 17, briefly

I quite like Filemaker. It has a few longstanding peculiarities that sometimes make it awkward to use, but it's useful when you need a quick and dirty database app. I'm now on version 17, which is the latest, and this is my very brief summary of it.

Infernal Windows 10 updates

Windows 10 is a lemon of the most lemony order. In my latest battle with it, it has the temerity to reenable the Windows Update service, despite me disabling it, and then it completely fails to install the update it so urgently wanted anyway. The ultimate solution to this failed update is, it says, to reinstall the entire OS. What a crock of shit.

Washington Post doesn’t quite get GDPR right

If you're in the EU, GDPR has been everywhere recently. I'm basically in favour of it as a stepping stone to my ultimate desire here, which is for us to have full control over our data as a commodity. I explain a bit more about this here and particularly look at what's right and what's wrong with the way the Washington Post seems to have handled GDPR.

The Drake equation and the search for ET

The Drake Equation, which estimates the number of planets currently inhabited by intelligent life in our galaxy, can vary greatly depending on the numbers you plug into it. The thing is, there isn't a lot of agreement about what those numbers should be. It makes the whole thing rather pointless and I have serious reservations about the usefulness of this equation but, just for fun, I plug my own numbers into it.

Tech companies should have more email support

I have recently had a fair amount of communication with Apple regarding a support issue and this has reminded me how many tech companies shun email support. I think this is a bad idea because it's the most efficient and convenient method of support in a lot of cases. This is a particular issue with me because I'm partially deaf and being forced to use telephone support makes things quite difficult. Technology companies in general need to offer more email support.

The importance of backing up your computer

As someone who worked in IT for 35 years I often get asked to help out with the computer problems my friends and relatives have. One common thing I get asked is if I can get back some data that has been deleted. I then ask if they have a backup and the answer is often a disappointing no. It is essential you take backups because you'll most likely need them at least once. This article just gives the basics of how I think you should backup your computer and what data you should back up. I'm going to point all my friends to it.

What does a Bona Vacantia freehold mean for leaseholders?

I live in a complicated situation at the moment. I bought my flat from a company in receivership and the receivership process has been running all the while I've been here (over two years now). The freehold recently went bona vacantia, which means it's now owned by the Crown, and in this article I pass on what I know about this situation.

Bear Writer update - version 1.5 released

I keenly await Bear Writer updates these days. The team have now released Bear Writer 1.5, which includes selectable TagCons, additional default tags for better searching/filtering, export to ePub and more. This is just a brief article looking at some of the best new features.

Yohann iPad Stand review

I initially struggled to find iPad stands that suit me for my 12.9 inch Pro. I always wanted two - one for use on my desk and one for use on my coffee table. In this article I review the Yohann iPad Stand I've chosen for my coffee table although, at the time of writing, it's the only stand I have and it's being used on my desk too.

Ulysses review - the best writing app for macOS and iOS?

My review of Ulysses, in which I wax lyrical about it and determine that, as far as I'm concerned, it's the best writing app available for the MacOS and iOS platforms. Alas, after writing this I switched over to Bear Writer and I explain why in the addendum of this article.

MoneyWiz review - macOS/iOS personal accounting software

A review of MoneyWiz, the personal accounting software for MacOS and iOS (and Windows and Android as it happens) created by Silverwiz Ltd. I started using this to replace the iBank/Banktivity setup I was using before.

Ironmaster IM2000 review — awesome, essentially

I love my Ironmaster IM2000, as will be apparent from this review. I have a small area I can set aside for workouts and a full-blown power rack (with a cable system too) was just too big to fit. The IM2000 is a perfect alternative and it earns itself a five star review from me.

Owner-occupiers in an RTM management company

In a diversion from my normal sorts of article, this one looks at the rights of owner-occupiers v landlords in a building management company set up under Right To Manage (RTM) legislation. It's something I've been heavily involved in over the last few years as an owner-occupier myself.

Reconfiguring Jekyll processes for iOS

The software that drives this blog is Jekyll and when a MacBook Pro running MacOS was my main computer, I could install Jekyll locally and do all my builds on MacOS. However, there is no version of Jekyll for iOS and I needed to rethink my blog maintenance procedures. This article describes how I reconfigured my Jekyll processes for iOS.

Switching from a MacBook Pro to an iPad Pro

I have been thinking about switching from using a MacBook Pro to using an iPad Pro as my main computer for some time now. After six months of research and indecision I decided to take the plunge today. In this article I explain why I'm making this switch and how I assessed my requirements. I then ordered the hardware.

Rebel Rebel - a fantastic recording by Bowie

Rebel Rebel - a fantastic recording by Bowie

David Bowie's 'Rebel Rebel' is an awesome song, but I've come across and even more awesome live version of it. I link to that here after giving you a potted history of my musical tastes.

Ironmaster Super Bench review

A review of the Ironmaster Superbench. I really rate Ironmaster's workout equipment. I have an Ironmaster IM2000 and I bought an Ironmaster Superbench as part of the package, which is what I'm reviewing here. I think this is one of the best multi-purpose, flat-incline-decline benches on the market.

CPanel AutoSSL renewal problems

Since adding a new domain to my CPanel server, I've had AutoSSL renewal errors. These have been emailed to me via the AutoSSL check that runs overnight. Anyway, the problem (at least in my case) sits with the .htaccess file and here's my solution.

Powertec Workbench LeverGym review

Powertec Workbench LeverGym review

A review of the Powertec Workbench LeverGym. This is the first bit of workout kit I bought when I moved from a five-bedroom house with a garage to a two-bedroom flat. I needed something with a fairly small footprint.

Body-Solid Series 7 Smith Master System review

A review of the Body-Solid Series 7 Smith Master System. Back in my youth I did a lot of weight-training but then life got in the way and I took a 20 year layoff. When I was 46 I took it up again and this is the kit I originally used for my weight-training when I restarted.

The Fast and The Furious 8 (The Fate of The Furious) review - complete tosh

A review of the 8th film in 'The Fast and The Furious' franchise. No, just no.

Bear Writer review — a gorgeous notes app

A review of Shiny Frog's Bear Writer, which I really like and assessed to see if I could integrate it into my GTD process. I think it's ideal for note-taking, short-form writing (blog posts and such) and journaling, although some people might not like the subscription model it uses. I think it's worth looking at if you want a Markdown-based notes app.

Rescuing the exclamation mark

Rescuing the exclamation mark

Exclamation marks are overused and abused these days and we need the grammar police to be vigilant in prosecuting offenders. I'd guess at least 99% of exclamation marks used in electronic communication are inappropriate and unnecessary.

How to calculate your Wilks score

The Wilks Score allows powerlifters and weight-trainers to make an equitable comparison of the weights lifted regardless of body weight, gender and -- with a modification to the pure Wilks score -- age. This article explains how to go about calculating your Wilks Score.