Case round-up: Google Pixel 2 XL

Another month, another case round-up, for the new Google Pixel 2 XL, covering a variety of styles, and all supplied by MobileFun, kind people that they are. See their complete range of Pixel 2 XL cases and covers.
Olixar Leather-style Wallet Case, £10
Darn it, this case is so close to being perfect. Admittedly you have to like the all-encompassing 'folio' style (I do, with caveats), but the materials (faux leather and neoprene, but hey, check out the price) are good, smell nice(!) and the Pixel 2 XL is protected from all sides.

In situ, the phone is held VERY snugly and the ports, camera and buttons are all accessible. The fingerprint sensor is recessed quite a way, but still worked in my tests, thankfully.

The magnetic flap is about right too, not too strong, not too weak, and it only gets slightly in the way when you want to flip the stand case open in order to watch some media.

My only concern is that the case is such a tight fit that you're not going to want to take it …

Trying (and trying) Bluetooth headphones, they're a no-go for me

I realise that this might be a controversial opinion in the current climate, with Apple and others moving phones away from 'ye olde' 3.5mm headphone jacks and towards increasing use of wireless solutions (e.g. AirPods, Pixel Buds), but I'm still not convinced about Bluetooth audio when on the move.

In my tests, I've tried several different makes of Bluetooth headphone (most recently these and these) with a variety of phones running Android and Windows 10 Mobile. And have been left unimpressed.

And, contrary to what you might expect, the issue isn't audio quality - though, by definition, there's usually some loss in the recompression of just-decompressed music just to traverse the few feet to your ears. No, my problem are the occasional tiny cut outs.

Now, this might just be me being hyper-sensitive, but every few minutes (at random) there's a tiny cut out in the audio stream - you wouldn't notice it for speech, but for music it's very distracting. A…

Review: Aukey Smart LED Atmosphere Lamp

This was slightly out of the blue and out of my normal review fare, but the idea of being able to choose any colour at all to illuminate my bedroom rather appealed to me. There are times, you know, when subtle mood lighting is appropriate [cough]...

And this light is terrific, with only one big caveat - that happily has a workaround, though not an elegant one.

Plug in and a bright blue status LED lights up (I'll come back to this below). Touch anywhere on the metal body of the lamp and it glow gentle white, tap again to go to medium and maximum brightness.

Then it gets interesting - long touch (for three seconds) on the metal and the lamp starts cycling through myriads of colours, just tap once to select the one you want. It's intuitive and flexible and there are no buttons to wear out.

To turn the lamp off again, just long touch again for three seconds. Not as fast as pressing a button, but not a problem.

The light cast by the lamp is even, despite the vagaries of the image …

Review: Olixar case trio for the Apple iPhone X

A new phone, new cases, and so it goes. With the iPhone X in for review, it gave me the chance to review a handful of cases from Olixar, thanks to Mobile Fun. See the links below.

The 'X' (pronounced "ex, err.. I mean ten"!) is an all glass design, effectively, and incredibly expensive. In addition to considering Apple Care on your new phone, you'll also want to make sure that the phone is cased when you're out and about.

Which is where these cases come in...
Olixar X-Duo - Carbon Fibre Silver, £20 A slightly fiddly neoprene inner-shiny plastic outer combination, this is much more solid when mounted on the iPhone X, though you're not going to want to take it on and off again too often, as the parts separate and then it's fiddle time all over again.

The button detailing is immaculate and the carbon fibre pattern on the neoprene's back is mesmerising.

A perfect case for a perfect iPhone? Well, yes, as long as you don't mind your £1000 glass jewel…

Review - take 2: Drocon Bugs 3 brushless drone

Now, the eagle eyed will have spotted that I've already written about the (Blue) Bugs 3 on this blog. That was a month ago and I've not only lost one since then - and had it replaced - I've also built up a mountain of drone flying experience.

Which is why I wanted to re-review this drone, in the context of the mountain of other sub-£100 drones on the market. And it's also why I included the word 'brushless' in the title - as that bit's important.

But before I get started, a few links, as usual. In the USA, you can get the Bugs 3 here and there's an exclusive discount code you can apply, 3UE8L7BJ, getting you 20% off, down to $104. In the UK, you can get the Bugs 3 here and the code is ZE79A4G6, also for 20% off, bringing the drone down to £89, which is a steal for something of this quality.

This being my second Bugs 3 drone (ahem), I wanted to apply all my hard won experience to the testing and reviewing. Here are the things I've learned in the last…

Review: Dowellin 4-axis Aerocraft (Mini RC Drone - Yunshangauto)

Something of a cumbersome title then, but electronics often have multiple names these days - usually an OEM title (and that's on the manual) and a branded title and vendor name (that's on the Amazon listing)!

In this case, it's on Amazon UK at £19.99 and is.... just about the most fun I've ever had with this pocket money amount. Really.

I got intrigued by drones when seeing the super smooth video footage online. And then I realised that the drones which shoot 1000ft high 4K footage are the best part of a thousand pounds. And need space. And serious skill to fly. Next, I was sent the Drocon Blue Bugs 3 to review - and it was very impressive for £100 or so, but I underestimated the skill required to manage it and - on a gusty day when I perhaps shouldn't have been flying - lost control of it over a forested area and that was that.

Lesson learned. I was also painfully aware of how large and relatively fragile the BB3 was - the slightest crash and the props got scarred…

Tech-fail and clueless DECmove!

Inspired by The Register's On Call series (e.g. here), here's a classic #fail from my tech past.

I was the system manager of a MicroVAX set-up back in the early 1990s, about a dozen users. The MicroVAX was a waist high mini-mainframe, about a metre square by 40cm wide, from memory. Not huge, but larger than the biggest desktop systems of even today. Here's roughly what it looked like:

The management had arranged to move the company (Simmonds Precision) to a larger office (from Swallowfield to Wokingham, if you're interested) and, because we had a service contract with DEC for the MicroVAX, the company wanted to pay 'DECmove' lots of money to make sure all our DEC equipment made it the 10 miles safely.

So, on the way, guys in overalls arrived and proceeded to start with the peripherals. Mice? Keyboards? Monitors? Even cables? All wrapped in bubble-wrap. I was very impressed. Wow, these guys know what they're doing!

As they got closer to the MicroVAX itself I…