Apple's laptop redesigns have failed me for eight years

It's an annual thing for me now - I wander into the Apple Store in Reading, UK, poke away at the various Macbooks, and sigh. Not, as you might expect, from the sky-high prices, but from the ever-decreasing functionality.
One of the sales reps came over to me yesterday and we chatted. "The problem is", I started, "that none of your laptops can do a fraction of what my old 2010 Macbook can do. Nine years old and it still does more for me, day after day, than these new units can, at least not without more expense and more complexity."
He was confused. "These will be a lot faster", he said. I reminded him of the white polycarbonate Macbook of the era, hugely popular. "Mine has been (self) upgraded with 6GB RAM, a 256GB SSD, a new battery, and a new optical drive, and it's pretty fast. Not as quick as these, but still speedy," I said. You see, the 2010 Macbook had: Ethernet port (used by me once a week)Mag-safe power connector (used every day…

Review: Atmotube Pro - the 'Environmental Tricorder'

Described in its marketing as 'an environmental Tricorder', referring to the Star Trek gadget, of course, the new Atmotube Pro is one of the more interesting phone accessories I've seen in a while. Essentially, it's  an air quality (i.e. pollution) monitor and weather station that's technically standalone but a million times more useful when hooked up to an Android or iOS smartphone.

The core use case is to warn you of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and PM1, PM2.5, and PM10 pollutants (think dust, pollen, soot, and mould). All of these can cause serious health issues, principally in (but not limited to) the lungs. But you also get something of a portable weather station, with read outs of humidity, temperature and barometric pressure, always interesting for the wetaher geek in all of us.

As you might expect, detecting VOCs and Particulate Matter (PM) isn't trivial - so we're talking here of a small chamber with a laser and sensors in it, along with a fan…

How to remove an old, stuck rawlplug/wallplug...

I can't believe that yours truly is delivering a DIY tip, but hey. I'm strictly a DIY amateur... I was faced with trying to get old rawlplugs out of a wall, ready for redecorating later on. Some of these dated back 30 years and were painted over 20 years ago, so we're talking seriously stuck or degraded. And, seemingly, impossible to grab hold of:

It occurred to me that by screwing something substantial into each plug, roughly halfway (going all the way would mean too much of a fix!), I could grab the protruding 'something' with a meaty pair of pliers and then pull the old plug straight out.

It works a treat. Although I used large hanging hooks, pushing in and then screwing in four or five threads worth, a thick screw with large head would also do, no doubt.

The aim was to get the plugs out, which worked, and then five minutes with some filler paste and I was all ready for sanding down when dry and then painting.

Anyway, I thought it a useful little bit of lateral …

The best of the best? Case Roundup for the Galaxy Note 9 take two...

Covered in my initial Note 9 case roundup last Autumn were:
Spigen Rugged Armor, £18Olixar Premium with tempered glass, £25Samsung LED View Cover Case, £55Olixar MeshTex, £10UAG Plyo, £30Noreve Leather Cover, 70 Euros (See the links - or the headings below - for the original product pages!)

As usual for my case roundups, I'll cover a variety of styles, with all samples supplied by
MobileFun, kind people that they are. See their complete range of Galaxy Note 9 cases and covers.

Note (puns intended throughout!) that I'm going to refer to the phone as the 'Note 9', as do MobileFun. Samsung's stylistic 'Note9' just won't catch on - it looks awful!
Ringke Fusion, £5 On offer at a knock down price as I write this, the Fusion design, here in clear but very tough plastic, is fabulously protective. In fact, it's ironic that the case itself arrives with protective covers of its own, to make sure that the clear almost mirror finish stays scratch free until its in…

Review: Guinness Utility Card

This is something of a followup to my original (G+) review of the Swiss Card Lite (on Amazon UK at and complements it nicely, they sit in consecutive slots in my wallet!
I bought this (about a tenner on Amazon UK at because, despite my Swiss Card's functions, I had no way to open a bottle of beer and had to spend 20 mins at my dad's place trying to find a suitable opener.
This has both top designs covered for beer (or Guinness!) and, as a bonus, gives five different nut cutouts, should you need to tighten or loosen something, typically on a bike or garden implement.

A (cm) ruler, letter opener blade, and a couple of token screwdriver edges complete a useful metal gadget. And with surprisingly little overlap with my Swiss Card Lite.

I now feel like I'm ready for anything. Including beer!

Huawei Mate 20 Pro case roundup

Another flagship in for review - the Huawei Mate 20 Pro (sorry for the delay on looking at cases for it!) Anyway, more cases to try out and score!

This is all thanks to the folks at MobileFun, see their Mate 20 Pro case selection in full.
Official Huawei Clear TPU, £6 This is a good place to start, it's minimalist and yet provides some protection from all sides, even corner drops, with slightly raised edges at top and bottom. Don't rely on this to stop a cracked screen when falling onto tarmac, but it'll cope with drops around the home.

And, as you'd expect from an official case, it fits like a glove. It also adds very little bulk. It's the sort of case which really should have been in the Mate 20 Pro retail box (maybe it is, in some regions?)

Of course, being clear, you get to still enjoy the paint job on your shiny new Huawei - which is 'a very good thing indeed'.

Top value too, for an official case at a pocket money price. At the very least,  put your Mat…