Showing posts from December, 2022

Whatever Works... Victorinox Swiss Army Knives and into the third decade. Knives out!

I cannot understand how most people get through the day without a penknife of some kind. Half a dozen times a day I reach for mine, permanently carabinered to my belt and tucked into my trouser back pocket, to access scissors, knife, screwdriver, or whatever. So many gadgets, so many uses.   This post, anyway, is about my latest Victorinox Swiss Army Knife, the 'Tinker', thirty-odd quid at Amazon UK . Now, before you say that this is a lot of money, the knives shown here are, from left to right: the aforementioned 4-layer Tinker, bought in the last few weeks (see below for what it has) my original 4-layer Victorinox knife, from the early 1980s. So it's now over 40 years old and still fully functional. The only reason I don't still use it is that the keyring/carabiner attachment point got mangled when doing some DIY - so it's now my backup 'briefcase'/car knife.  my second knife, bought around 2000, and slightly slimmer with 3 layers. It's now 22 years o

Solved: Macbook M1 Air pulsing screen brightness

This one took a little lateral thinking but seems obvious in hindsight. Shortly after getting my MacBook, I noticed that every now and then the screen brightness started pulsing. Bright then dimmer, rinse and repeat. Discussion online suggested that this was a) rare and b) a premonition of a hardware failure to come.  Both of which may be true. But I did notice that the pulsing only happened when on mains power and only after a while, or when coming back to the laptop after it had been left on charge. So it was definitely power-related. What if... the pulsing was Apple's way of saying 'the battery is now fully charged, why not disconnect it to save power and to preserve battery longevity'? What indeed. And viewed in this light it does make sense. And perfectly fits the facts. So when the screen is pulsing, I disconnect the Type C charge lead and use on  battery for the next few days until I deem a top-up is needed. Solved. The curious thing though... is that no one else has

The laptop in your pocket! (Surface Duo)

(Republished from my own article on the All About servers , archived for posterity) So yes a bit of an experiment. Writing about the laptop in your pocket ON a laptop in my pocket. In this case the Microsoft Surface Duo 2. No corrections or additions were made on any other device. It has been the dream of every mobile enthusiast for three decades to have a workable laptop, for Office, email, and so on, in a pocketable form. Think Psion, think Nokia Communicators. This is the latest attempt, in 2022!  I have to start with typing speed, since the reduced size and glass experience will be the bottleneck for some people. Both factors affect input speed, of course, though I'd estimate that I get about 70% of my normal input speed, using four fingers rather than the usual six or eight. On a full size laptop keyboard I type at about 40 words per minute, allowing for corrections/backspacing as I go along (I'm a stickler for not having to go back to fix things later!) On the small gla

Slightly, slightly - the pros and cons of four mobile flight sims

Back in the day - well, June 2021, 18 months ago, I attempted a comparative review of (arguably) the big four mobile flight simulators . ( Archived here , if AAM goes down.) They were: Aerofly FS 2021 (now 22, of course!), Infinite Flight , Rortos RFS , and X-Plane 11 (now 12!). They're in the app store for both Android and iOS, though I've been testing them again, with 18 months of updates, on the iPhone 14 Pro Max - a larger screen is recommended for flight sim games, of course. And it's at this point that I'd like to summarise my summary - my ratings and review commentary haven't really changed since the original article. Except that each product has expanded its resources, to encompass more scenery, more airports, more traffic, and so on. So all simulators have got slightly better. And slightly worse, in that the free versions have less resources, mind you (Aerofly excepted). And I'm italicising slightly because that's the key word, in that I can, a

Garden Centre Economics taken to ridiculous and unworkable heights

This may be a UK phenomenon. I'm really not sure. I call it 'Garden Centre Economics', or GCE for short. Garden centres here do sell loads of plants and garden tools, hoses, sheds, and so on. All well and good. But they also sell the relatively mundane, for example bars of 'interesting' (i.e. different) chocolate, jars of locally produced honey, cuddly toys, and essentially lots of things that you might consider as gifts for others. Again, nothing wrong with all this, though the notable thing is the price hikes involved. Garden centre acreage is expensive, as are the large heated halls and plush indoor carpets, so you're paying more to help keep them in business. After all, you browse their shelves and tables looking for presents and you're happy to pay more for the convenience of finding interesting gifts all in the one place. As an example of the economics of a typical garden centre and these gifts, let's look at two examples: 100g bar of flavoured dar

Back pain and listening to body signals - for once?

We do live in an era of pain relief for everything - and this is usually good. Migraine? Recovering from an operation? Tooth decay and waiting for a dentist appointment? Take some relief and you'll survive. And this is all good and necessary. But I wanted to share my thoughts on back pain - which is so common these days and with which I'm suffering right now - and for which I have some specific thoughts. You see, pain is the body's way of telling you that something's wrong. It's great to have this warning system in the case of the back and it's multitude of muscles, but unlike with other pain, I firmly believe that pain relief medicines should be a last resort... In my case, every time I move I'm aware of nagging pains in my lower back, a specific site and probably a specific muscle. The pain is my body telling me 'Be careful'. And so I am. Getting up carefully, sitting down ditto. Rising in the morning slowly and gently, and so forth.  Injurymap ,

Freedom in the era of personal sat-navs

In recent years I've had several occasions when I've had to drive to pick something up or drop someone off (and so on) deep in the heart of a city that I've never been to before. And I've managed it with minimal fear and dread. You see, I've a pathological fear of unknown and complex city layouts - one way streets, four-lane-wide junctions, and so on. Plus so, so much traffic. And back in the 1980s, when I learned to drive, through the 1990s and through most of the 2000s, this was the status quo. I just wouldn't dare drive into such an environment, even with a passenger with 'road atlas' and 'A-Z' street map. Way too stressful and possibly dangerous. The early 2000s saw a variety of 'mapping' systems, including my own Mapper software, for Psion palmtops and Nokia communicators, then commercial software such as Autoroute Express and Sygic, but it was Nokia buying up Smart2Go in 2007 and rebranding it Nokia Maps and available to all of it

Review: Anker 737 140W power bank (PowerCore 24k)

The Anker 737 isn’t your mother’s power bank. You see that old gadget in your drawer? This isn't it.  With miniature power bank OS (complete with splash screen) and with 'phone' form factor (as in hold and operate in your right hand, if needed), this also offers 140W (!) output and input over (hot off the press) Power Delivery 3.1, plus it packs the maximum capacity it's legal to ship (at least in the UK), with 24000mAh (at 3.7V, or almost 90Wh in potential power). Reassuringly, this is from Anker, one of the few accessory makers which doesn't put a foot wrong in terms of quality, support, or marketing (i.e. no fake reviews on the likes of Amazon). And the hardware is indeed stunning, with no rattles or creaks, and with beautifully textured sides. As you can see below, the form factor is a 'phone-like' cuboid. Yes, it's a chunk compared to a phone (24000mAh etc) but there's a power/select button under the right thumb and there's a 'smart'