Posts

Review: Drake Car Handle

Image
It's a pretty vanilla product name and with no overt company branding, but as Ted and Aidan say on ' Whatever Works ', whatever works, works. Very meta. Anyway... What's going on here is a way to get an extra grab handle for getting into or out of a car door. You might know that I injured my back recently (and am still in pain as I write this) - so I was dreading getting back into my car when needed. I saw this on Twitter as an advert, noted the price of £20 and then searched Amazon UK, finding the same item for £15 . Which is about right for a very tough accessory. You may have noticed that most car door 'jams' have a loop of tough steel, this is what the car door itself latches into - and it's tough because it's part of what makes your car safe in the event of a crash.  But someone had the bright idea of making a (also steel) accessory that inserts into this loop and then presents a textured plastic handle at right angles, perfect for using as a brace

On how I became a VAX cluster system manager by stealth!

Image
Once upon a time I was a tech support chappie in an aerospace company, helping support 3000 people using a Vax cluster (ah, happy mini-computer days!) But a chance 'spot' in the server room promoted me to a viable system manager... Back in the day, users were users, support people (like me) were 'operators' and could do stuff like resetting passwords, restarting printer queues. Then there were 'system managers', very rarified and usually only one of them. With full system privileges, anything could be set up, anything could be deleted, absolute power, mwhahaha, etc!! In the server room (air-conditioned, where the Vax mini-computers lived) there was a 'console', hardwired into the master Vax and with attached printer. The idea was that if all the networking went tits-up, one could enter commands there to reboot everything. And the echoing to printer was part of traceability, should the system manager (or operators) need to proof what they did. One day I w

Review: MECO ELEVERDE High-Pressure Electric Air Duster Blower

Image
This was sent in for review and it intrigued me enough to give it a good test. I should say that I've always struggled just a little with the idea of blowing air around to clean things up, as opposed to using a decent handheld vacuum cleaner to suck dust. After all, surely blowing dust from something just distributes it around the room? I'll illustrate this with one of the promotional photos from this very product, showing the cleaning of a dust-filled PC fan: Now, I don't doubt for a second that blasting high pressure air at this gunked up PC fan would blow the dust right away. The problem is that the very same dust is then all over the inside of the PC and, probably, the room! It's common sense that, where possible, suction should be used, to neatly collect dust in one place, where it can be safely emptied.  However. Suction alone can't get everywhere . The typical use for a tradition compressed air can would be to blast out crumbs from a computer keyboard or with

How to fix Blink XT2 Camera 'Thumbnail failed' error!

Image
The Blink XT2 cameras are great - a trivial way to keep an eye on a loved one (in my case an aged parent) without wires or complex DIY hassle. Just set a camera or two up on your Wifi and you can keep an eye on them from across the world.  And all is fine, generally, I tap to take a photo or video if my dad isn't answering the phone, to check where he is and whether he's OK. Yes, there's motion detection available, but I usually have this off as when he's well he'll move around and keep triggering images and videos, which then drain the batteries too quickly. (I do have motion detection on my own house's security cameras, outdoors) But recently I had the strangest error: 'Thumbnail failed' on one of the cameras and it persisted for days.  Now, I live 150 miles away and so Blink's suggestion of 'take the batteries out and put them in again, to reboot the camera' wasn't much use! Surely, I thought, there has to be A way I can reboot, or at

Review: Zecti LED Ring Light

Image
(Disclaimer: this was sent in for review by Choetech, which I presume is related to the Zecti brand) I have to confess that I'm not the target market for this ring light, for two reasons: I wear glasses, so you get horrible reflections of the LED in the lenses! (see frame grab below!) I don't use the internal phone holder - partly because of reason '1', and partly because it's not terribly rigid and is easy to knock slightly out of position, ruining framing. My use case is when filming myself with the rear camera of a phone, for video podcasting. On a gloomy day, even by a window, a little extra light from the shadow side of my face is most welcome. So why not give this a try? In reality the frame is very, very plastic (fair enough, as it is plastic), made worse by the sickly pink colour. The idea is clearly for 20 year old females to shoot selfie videos or pics - so perhaps I shouldn't mark the product down for this! (Backing up my theory, the product comes wi

Case roundup for the iPhone 12 Pro Max (part 1)

Image
As usual for my case roundups, I'll cover a variety of styles, with most samples supplied by MobileFun, kind people that they are. See their  complete range of iPhone 12 / 12 Pro cases and covers .  But on with the individual cases, each link goes to the relevant product page, of course. Of note is that Apple introduced 'MagSafe' magnets to this year's iPhones, with the result that official Apple cases also have circular MagSafe features - and the prices have gone up again, with the Apple cases now being £49 (in the UK). Almost fifty quid for a case!  Far better to pay a quarter (or less) the price and get a simpler affair from a third party. OK, you won't get a 'cool' MagSafe animation when you put the case on - but Qi charging still works through all of these designs, it turns out you really don't need magnets after all if you're happy centring the phone on a Qi pad yourself. Having said all this, there will be a part 2 to this round-up, covering n