Showing posts from February, 2019

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 con

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

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