MacBook Prolapse

Apple, seriously … you fucked up.

Are you seriously telling your MacBook Pro & iPhone users that they’ll have to buy a dongle to connect their flagship Apple phone to their Flagship Apple laptop?  What’s that all about?

Your core user base (in your own words) are creatives.  I’ve been a pro photographer and a recording studio owner in some of my previous lives and you’ve just alienated all of them too.  All the graphics packages I use and Nvidia CUDA core hardware acceleration features.  This is KEY technology for these folks, Blender, Premier Pro etc … why did you throw out NVidia and welcome AMD?  All our pro cameras use SD cards and you’ve thrown that port away as well.  And we can’t even connect them via USB since you threw all of those ports away as well.

What the hell are you doing?

I like to run VMs on my Mac and I was seriously hopeful that this “upgrade” would include a 32Gb RAM option.  Why?  Why oh why?  I don’t care what you want me to think, this is NOT an upgrade.

Then the price … holy shit.  Just no, bye bye Apple.  Why even Apple fanboys are crying over the price you know you have a problem on your hands.  It’s going to be interesting watching the sales figures fall off a cliff.

No ESC key you say … oh really?  WTF?

£2,349  Fuck Off … just FUCK OFF Apple you have lost the plot.

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My Life With a MacBook Pro – 3 Years In

Hmm  … where to start?

I had to buy a MacBook, I need to write and compile apps for iPhones and iPads.  I would have preferred to spend the extortionate cost for it on something else, like keeping it as inheritance for my kids or buy a house.  But well, my hand was forced by Apple.

I’d love to be able to say it’s been a pleasure to own but frankly it hasn’t.  I know it’s fine for the average user who wants to browse the web, send a few emails and “facetime” but trying to use it for my needs and it a pig frankly.  I’ve had more weird issues with this one laptop than I’ve had in previous 18 years of Windows based PC ownership, I’m not exaggerating.

It just works? If it “just works”, why the need for genius bars?

I’m a power user, a software engineer and I build desktop PCs and mission critical servers so I know stuff about hardware as well as software.  I just do not rate these machines.  They look pretty but my god when something goes wrong you end up in a mess.

Hardware Issues

Great hardware I hear people saying?  In these three years I’ve had to replace the power supply twice (£65 a pop – £195 on power supplies!!!).  I’ve never replaced a power supply on anything in my life, let alone a laptop.  I’ve also never had a port on a machine die.  This is a £2000 laptop and I’ve experienced both multiple times.

The first Thunderbolt port became less than reliable after the first 12 months, now this weekend the one that did work also suddenly stopped working.  Now to continue using my Ethernet network connection I have to purchase some more hardware just to keep using what has been a computer standard for decades – the RJ45 connector.

Add to those problems the completely unserviceable build methodology and it seems I’m slowly cruising towards owning a very expensive brick.

I’ve also got to make an appointment with the “genius bar” folks as this laptop is also afflicted with the screen coating issue Apple have issued a recall over.  Luckily my MacBook Pro doesn’t seem to have the issue with the video card (which also effects early 2013 MBP).

Remember, this is a PREMIUM £2000 laptop … I’m really not impressed to be honest.  Two major recalls (there may be more I don’t know about) on a product like this isn’t good.

Bluetooth has also been a constant source of hate for me.  For the majority of the time I have owned this laptop I couldn’t use the Magic Mouse & W-Fi at the same time.  The Magic Mouse, at the best of times, drops it’s connection for a hobby.  How dare I expect to use the mouse and internet at the same time!  But it doesn’t matter since I stopped using the Magic Mouse completely because it would make my Wi-Fi either painfully slow or not work at all.  So there’s another £59 pissed up the wall.

Software Issues

OSX is horrific.  I hate it.  I hate it’s design and I hate the way it operates.  Loads of things hidden in the UI until you press the option key is a usability disaster.  The finder is a joke of disk navigating tool.

When I first got my hands of OSX (Mavericks) I was literally blown away by what it couldn’t do out of the box.  Finding that I had to buy additional software tools to do proper window management was a joke.

But OSX doesn’t get viruses I hear everyone yelling.  Well, in the past 20 years I’ve had … lets see … 2 viruses on a PC that I had to deal with.  Both back when I was using Windows 98SE.  So shut up, this is moot issue.  If people will click on every link or dodgy web site they’re sent they should expect them to get viruses.  A bad workman always blames his tools …

Every time I’ve done an upgrade on the OS I’m left with crap to deal with.  Resetting the PRAM or SCM or both because some issue has crept into the system.  Either Wi-Fi not working or the Bluetooth connectivity going nuts.  For the longest time after the Yosemity update I couldn’t use my UEBoom at all as the audio was never in sync with the video.

One of the reasons Windows is so pervasive is backwards compatibility.  I had programs from 1995 that I can happily run on my Windows 10 box.  It seems with every update of OSX something stops working.  The classic example is Parallels.  They seem to capitalise on this fact with their marketing and will scare users into upgrading, even when their app will carry on working.  But for me Parallels 8 stopped working on El Capitan, so I switched to using VirtualBox (which is free).

All in all, I won’t be recommending Apple stuff anymore.  To those that I have recommended they get an Apple product, I apologise.  The problem is that now I’m an iOS developer I’ll always need a Mac around for code compilation duties.  But, no more MacBook for me, I’ll get a Mini and hide it away somewhere so I don’t have to look at it.

Crisp Retina displays on the MacBook are no compensation for the issues I have.  Particularly when the hardware is all glued together.  That fact renders this gadget as basically throw away tech.  £2000 throw away tech.  How Apple can boast of being green is beyond my comprehension.

As for developing software for the Apple platforms?  I’ll leave that to a future post as that is even worse than dealing with their hardware …

The one thing that Apple gets absolutely correct – marketing.

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Upgrading to Windows 10

Crazy? I don’t know yet but I decided to go for the upgrade to Windows 10 on day 1 …

Most of the update motored through the process seemingly without a hitch. That is until it got to the “Configuring settings xx%” stage. It started to go through that process fairly quickly and then hit 21% … and sat there … and sat there … and … you get the picture.

It was long enough to make me get a little concerned that something was going wrong. So I started doing some searches and found that this is seemingly a common “problem” even with the technical previews.

I unplugged all the extras like external hard drives and wotnot and then it bumped up to 22% so it is actually doing stuff but it seems like this final stage might take a VERY LONG TIME indeed.

I’m going to bed and I’ll see what it’s like in the morning.

No sooner that I hit the publish as I typed the sentence above then it jumped to 26% and 81% overall update so it should be good but this is by no means a fast process and this machine has a fast SSD drive …

UPDATE 30 / 7 /2015

So the upgrade seems to have gone without a hitch.  The only problem I’m faced with at the moment is my MOTU Traveler.  MOTU haven’t yet updated their drivers to support Windows 10 so if you have mission critical use of MOTU Firewire hardware you should wait until that has been rectified.

One thing I did encounter on the first login was a notification telling me that I was using a temporary profile and that I didn’t have access to my files and folders.  A quick restart later and login and all was well again.

UPDATE 30 / 07 / 2015

Interestingly it appears that an update has been pushed out already as all my Firewire audio spontaneously started working today.  Very cool!

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Apple MacBook Pro 85w MagSafe 2 PSU

So last Sunday my PSU died.  I don’t know if it’s something about luck or what but in all my years (to many to count) of using computers the only component I’ve never lost (touches wood, bit late though now) a PSU.  Not in a desktop, laptop or server.  Might seem like slim odds of that happening but it’s true.  I’ve built a lot of machines over the years and have owned a lot of machines as well.  Never had a PSU die, ever.

So last Sunday morning was a bit of a surprise.  I’d used the laptop in the morning and then had put it on to charge late in the evening, I haven’t really liked leaving this charging overnight as it gets really hot.  So I must have taken it off charge around midnight, unplugged the charger from the laptop and the wall socket and went to bed.  8am I plug it all back in, nothing.  No green light and no orange charging indicator.  Tried an SMC reset, nothing.  Cleaned both the port on the laptop and the connector on the charger, nothing.  Tried all the solutions you’ll find online.  I visited a local store to try another charger but two large stores I visited had no 85w MagSafe 2 chargers in stock (loads of every other Apple charger though strangely).  The last store let me try the display charger and all was well.

So the charger is definitely dead.  It’s just turned 2 years old.  I have a PSU for my 1992 Amiga 1200 that sat in my parents garage for 20 years, unused, that powered up the first time I tried.  So why has the most looked after and perfect condition PSU fail whilst it wasn’t even powered?  Bit odd.  There were no sparks or smells yet no juice.  Oh well.

From reading around the web it seems (if the messages are even remotely accurate) that some people go through multiple Apple chargers.  I’ve personally seen so many with electrical tape wrapped around various bits of them you have to wonder if people either don’t care enough or there is a desgn issue.

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Anti-Virus – BitDefender

So it’s the best … or at least was the best. *ahem* …

I’ve used a LOT of virus applications in my time, free ones, commercial ones massive enterprise ones and every other little tool and app going. I had been using Avira for a few years and decided in March 2014 that I’d try out BitDefender as it seemed everyone was raving about it at that point in time. It had somehow managed to attain that hallowed 100% match rate in virus tests etc. So I thought I’d give it a try.

I went through the nasty process of removing my old anti-virus software (see notes below!) and installed BitDefender.  Holy crap, it took a powerful machine (you know, fast processor, SSD, GTX580, 24Gb RAM basically a beast of a machine) to it’s knees.  It literally bought my overpowered workstation to a grinding halt.  I tried all I could to get it working at a speed where I could also do some work … you know, that’s kinda important …

Anyway, I failed.  After trawling the forums I couldn’t get BitDefender to leave enough resources for me.  Doing some searches it seemed that this was a problem that was plaguing many, many other users.  Personally I think they turned the heat up on their searching algorithm to attain a higher match rate to boost their marketing.  It seemed the software in it’s default configuration was so aggressively looking for stuff that they forgot that someone has to actually use the machine at the same time.

No virus software should behave like that at factory defaults … ever …

Anyway, when I un-installed the software I then logged into MyBitDefender portal to ask for a refund.  I asked for that refund 6 times … never got a replies and never got the refund either … £20 lost.  I had better things to do with my time.

Fast forward to now … I got up this morning to find a nice email from PayPal saying that I’d just handed them another £44.96 for the new spangly version.  So, I go to login to my MyBitDefender in order to take action (I was even considering giving it another go) but low and behold … I have no account.  Eh?  Yup, none of my email addresses (even the payment email address) was recognised.

WTF??

Where did my account go then?  I downloaded the original installer using this account.  Which according to their systems should have been an active account because it had just been renewed.  So another support call …

BitDefender confirmed that I had no MyBitDefender account, none … nada.  WTF?

So I had renewed an application from a vender that didn’t have an account for me and I couldn’t log in to download the software.  Customer services at it’s most confusing basically.  Anyway, I’m not giving them the £45, so I’m waiting for that refund to arrive … Whilst their tech may be good I have little faith in anything else …

Will stick with Avira thanks …

Update:

Got the money back, well done BD!

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Shopify

So we’ve just had the pleasure of building my first Shopify application for a client project.  Am I impressed?  Very.  Very, very impressed.

For e-commerce sites I have built in the past I’ve reached for WordPress and a range of e-commerce plug-ins I either recommend to clients based on their individual requirements.  Generally the sites I have built were bespoke sites for small organisations or individuals.  The solutions have always worked well and been successful.  Wordpress is a great solution and so well supported that is generally a no-brainer for me to recommend.

The latest commission from a client however gave me a little pause for thought as it was basically of a different scale altogether.  The client was a small one-man shop with limited internet experience and absolutely no previous experience of running any on-line systems yet there is a potential for the quantity of products to explode in quantity.  Obviously the performance of any web site is a combination of many factors from the code, the hosting infrastructure and the visitors internet connection to name just a few.  There are lots of ways of keeping WordPress performing well but there is a lot of custom configuration and infrastructure that is needed to turn a blogging engine into an e-commerce system and I didn’t want to overload the client with concerns.

Given this situation I decided to look over the various options for dedicated e-commerce platforms.  I looked over Velution, Big-Commerce and Shopify.  All are really very good platforms but we opted for Shopify as it worked out the cheapest and simplest for this particular project.  Buying into the Shopify system gives absolutely everything you need, right out of the box.  Even SSL is included as standard on the base plans which is really good.

Development of the custom theme was more or less complete within a day and setting up the rest of the back-end configuration was extremely simple.  We’re currently still working through this with the client but it is going really well and they are feeling really confident in their usage of the solution already.  So lenssniper has another happy customer.

If you’re looking for an on-line e-commerce system it’s well worth looking at Shopify and if you need assistance in getting your site designed and built, check out my lenssniper business and drop us a line.

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EVGA GTX580 Classified Overclocking – Blender Benchmarks

Over the last few weeks I’ve been playing around with MSI Afterburner and EVGA Precision x16 to see what I can meaningfully squeeze out of this card before plunging into the land of the GTX 900 series cards.  I’ve had this card in my current machine since January 2012 and it has served me very well.  The vast majority of it’s life has spent “idling” at the stock GPU clock of 855Mhz which to be fair is a solid overclock on the stock GTX580 specifications anyway.  What little gaming I do it has munched through and it’s only since really starting to work with Blender more recently that I have started to experience that the GTX580 is starting to look a little long in the tooth.

The 900 series cards were announced in September 2014 and they really do look like they would be an immense upgrade over the GTX580 in terms of raw ppw (performance per watt).  When the GTX580 Classified was released it really was one of the highest performing single GPUs money could buy (which retaining ownership of all ones organs).  I needed the GPU acceleration for lots of video editing work I was doing and in that respect it was an incredible investment.  Yes it was expensive (£550) but it was and still is a total workhorse of a component, it still plays recent high end games at max and pretty much deals with it all without any fuss at all which is impressive to say the least considering the GTX580 reference designs are now 5+ years old.

So anyway, I have been playing around with the Classified and thought I’d get this all written up so that when I do decide to upgrade to a 900 series card and I can rerun these benchmarks and see what my cold hard cash has bought me.  The overclocking setting I have been playing around with are pretty rudimentary really as I’m simply using the software tools provided by EVGA and no special hardware for the task as I’m still far more preoccupied with stability than pure blistering speeds.

Test Machine

The host machine specifications are:

EVGA GTX 580 Classified Blender Benchmarks

The results of the various benchmarks I ran can be seen in the table below:

File

OC
Settings

Tile
Size

Processor

Time

BMW27.blend

N/A

16×16

CPU

06:10.03

BMW27.blend

N/A

256×256

CPU

08:05.94

BMW27.blend

128×128

GPU

02:08.91

BMW27.blend

256×256

GPU

01:49.18

BMW27.blend

GPU +50 Mem +50

256×256

GPU

01:43.82

BMW27.blend

GPU +50 Mem +100

256×256

GPU

01:42.05

BMW27.blend

GPU +50 Mem +100

512×512

GPU

01:42.71

BMW27.blend

GPU +50 Mem +100

16×16

GPU

33:16.59

BMW27.blend

GPU
+55 Mem +100

256×256

GPU

01:41.58

BMW27.blend

GPU
+55 Mem +125

256×256

GPU

01:40.77

BMW27.blend

GPU
+60 Mem +125

256×256

GPU

01:40.63

BMW27.blend

GPU
+70 Mem +125

256×256

GPU

01:40.20

BMW27.blend

GPU
+75 Mem +100

256×256

GPU

BMW27.blend

GPU
+75 Mem +125

256×256

GPU

01:40.63

cycles_bench_272.blend

256×256

GPU

12:01.27

cycles_bench_272.blend

GPU +50 Mem +100

256×256

GPU

11:12.48

sponza_cycles_benchmark.blend

256×256

GPU

10:12:55

sponza_cycles_benchmark.blend

GPU +50 Mem +100

256×256

GPU

09:47.31

The end result of this is that I have a rock solid +50 on the GPU and +100 on the memory clock, not bad.  My specific card has an ASIC score or 85.4% which is damn fine, I didn’t see the GPU temps rise above 71C which is nice.  The final overclocking looks like this:

OCSo what now?

GTX 900 Series

After having had a good look over the 900 series it’s a no-brainer to decide to upgrade.  The decision is then between the 980 and the 970.  Since the last time I made a decision on a graphics card I had cash to burn and so blindly bought the card I wanted and the cost definitely came second in the decision process.  Hence I bought the 580 Classified and was a very happy shopper.  The problem was I bought it thinking that I would be buying another in order to then go SLI and have a frankly epic amount of the GPU horsepower to call on when needed.  The problem is that cash comes and goes and I never found myself able to justify shelling out an additional £550 for a second 580 Classified.

It just never happened …

Considering that would have been an investment of £1100 on GPUs alone I always backed off from clicking that “buy it now” button.  Only when I was doing some intensive video work did I feel that I’d like the extra grunt.  Anyway, I’m not making that mistake again and so I’m going to buy both cards at the same time this time and do the SLI immediately.  To that end I’ve decided to not go to the bleeding edge of single GPU insanity and instead rein in the spending.  That said the sheer processing grunt in a dual GTX 970 setup in SLI configuration will be mind-bending.  The most incredible thing is that two 970 will come in at around or a little more than a single 980.  It’s just a total no-brainer.

I really haven’t even thought about which 970s to get yet as in reality I don’t have the cash right now and also I’m waiting to see what is announced over the next few months.  Waiting for the 8Gb GDDR5 cards is also a no-brainer.  Since the RAM on the GPU is so important to Blender it makes sense to wait a little while until the larger RAM capacity cards hit the streets.  Seeing as the 900 series 3rd party OC’d offerings appeared very near the release of the Nvidia reference cards it should follow that the larger 8Gb 3rd party cards will appear just as close to reference release.

So, 2x 8Gb GTX 970s in SLI it is then …

 

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PIXMA MG7150 Photo Printing Tests

Believe it or not I’ve only just got around to getting some serious photo printing done on my new Canon PIXMA MG7150.

Using nothing but Lightroom 5.6 you can get some seriously impressive prints from this printer.  I’m still to really put the extra grey levels to the test with some difficult black and white prints but so far things look really good.  I decided to start with a difficult print of a shot of my daughter.  You can see this image below:

_MG_1574

As you can see this is the type of image that can really challenge printers due to the nature of the colour processing that has been applied to the image in post processing.  After having printed this image via Lightroom I was actually blown away by the accuracy of the print the MG7150 produced.  I was using Kodak 280gsm Ultra Premium Photo Paper (High Glass, ultra brilliant) the the stock branded ink cartridges that came supplied with the printer so the inks are also premium.

So far I cannot fault the output.  Obviously it isn’t up there with the links of Metro Print but to get the results I have from a £150 all-in-one printer is really impressive to say the least.  The accuracy in terms of the dynamic range is what struck me the most, it really is faithful to the image on the screen.  No doubt the correct configuration of the ICC profiles helps here a lot.  Also the print was made using Lightroom 5 on my MacBook Pro which as I understand it employs Black Point Compensation by default (configurable on PC) which goes a very long way to making sure the shadows aren’t blown out.  This is obviously working very well.

In fact I’m so impressed with the printing that if I could source the inks and paper cheaper by buying them in bulk and provided the client wanted A4 or smaller prints I’d be happy supplying the output of this printer to clients and final product.  It really is that good.

All in all to be able to use a single machine to scan, photocopy, print documents and then do some pretty impressive “fine art” printing is laudable to say least.  Thank you Canon, you have done really very well indeed.

So to carry on with these tests I’m looking for my favourite papers to use for printing fine art prints.  Unfortunately one of the only drawbacks I’ve encountered is the printer only supports upto 300/gsm papers and the paper I would really like to use is Hahnemühle Photo Rag but that clocks in at 308gsm and I don’t feel adventurous enough to whack a load of this into my new shiny printer just in case it kills it.

Anyway, I currently have a nice test pack of St Cuthberts Mill Somerset Enhanced papers on their way to me for more lovely playing around.

Printing Problems

The only problem I’ve encountered whilst using this printer has been the paper feeding.  The MG7150 is rated good for paper upto 300gms which is actually pretty thick paper.  I’ve noticed that as soon as the paper supply is down to around 5 sheets in the lower paper tray this becomes a problem for the printer and it struggles to pick up the sheets.  Not a massive problem in real terms but it does get slightly annoying when doing long runs.  I’ve done a lot of 4 x 6 printing on upto 255gsm paper, these smaller print sizes makes use of the upper tray and this doesn’t suffer from the same issue at all.

Just something to bear in mind.

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Canon PIXMA MG7150

So my trusty old (as in REALLY old) Epson Photo R200 died last week and I have a stack of printing to do for various things including my annual tax returns and wotnot.  Great, more expenses.

Started looking around at printers and all-in-one jobbies for the home office as I’ve had a need for a scanner as well as a printer quite a few times recently.  Since I’m an avid user of Canon cameras (I have a 7D and a 5DMkII) I decided to look at Canons offerings.  Being able to print directly from source is actually quite attractive and since Canon SLRs all use Compact Flash storage it made sense to look at their printers.  Most cameras these days use SD cards so conversely most printers only sport SD card readers that was the first thing that seemed attractive about this unit.

Anyway, I’ve got one for the office at home now and I have to say that I’m seriously impressed.

Setup

Got the hardware set up in about 20 minutes.  Unwrapped and installed all the cartridges (which each have a little LED in showing they are active, very cool) and then configured the Wi-Fi in about 30 seconds.  Then hooked up all the devices to it taking about 30 seconds on each device (PC, MacBook Pro, iPad and Android Phone).  So now I can print from anything anywhere.  Awesome.

Print Quality

So far I’ve only printing text documents but it literally out paces the old R200 by quite a margin.  I was seriously impressed with the speed actually and it’s a lot quieter than the old Epson as well.  The text is exceptionally sharp considering the fairly cheap paper I have at the moment.

No complaints here at all.

Scanning

On top of that Canon are offering a £20 cashback on this printer at the moment, bargain.  You need to provide proof of purchase so I tested the scanning.  Plopped the receipt on to the platter, tapped on the touch screen Scan button and it asked me where I wanted to save it – PC.  Hit the scan button and the PDF popped up the PC screen.

Literally completely painless.

Highly recommended.

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iPad Mini Cover – Tech 21 Impact Mesh + Apple Smart Cover

After I blogged about the appalling quality of the IWANTIT(to fuck off) case I’ve upgraded.

After looking around a lot I thought the functionality of the Apple Smart Cover was pretty cool but I didn’t want to go and add a stack of bulk to the iPad Mini, I bought the Mini for a reason, so why bulk it out with unwieldy case?

Tech 21 Impact Mesh (Impactology … ahem)

https://www.tech21.com/impact-mesh-ipad-mini-retina-case-blue/

The Impact Mesh case is really nice, rubbery and close fitting, all the bits that should line up with the iPads controls and ports do in fact line up although the camera hole isn’t quite centered with the camera lens but absolutely does not effect the camera use at all.  I’m not going to test how it handles impacts as I don’t ever really want to find out that it doesn’t as I’m sure you can appreciate.  However, it looks like it will do a fine job.  I think the “impactology” bit is all about dissipating the pressure of an impact away from the point of contact.  I hope they did test it.  It feels well worth the £29.95.

Smart Cover

I bought mine on ebay for £14 … sorry apple £35 for this cover is simply outrageous.  When put side by side with the Mesh I simple cannot see how you can justify that cost.  It’s a cover with a magnetic clasp, woo.  Does what it says on the tin.

Combining Them

Anyway, the Impact Mesh case and the Smart Cover are not as compatible as Tech 21 would lead you to believe.  With the Mesh case fitted the Smart Cover cannot properly engage with the magnetic clasp mechanism and so it “falls off” the surface if you hold it upside down.  Not a major problem so far as when you need it protected most (in a bag) it’s going to be held in place by the fact it’s in a bag.  So far this feels like a winning combination, not perfect and whilst it is compatible in the sense that both elements can be mounted on the mini at the same time the Mesh 21 case does impact on the full functionality of the Smart Cover.

Given that I paid less that half price for the Smart Cover I may attempt to trim off a millimeter or two of the excess rubber on the Smart Cover to try and fix the issue if it becomes a problem.  Considering I’ve got a £400 device this seems like it might be worth sacrificing the £14 cover if it does prove to be a problem.

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IWANTIT iPad Mini Case review

So, when I bought my iPad I really didn’t want to leave the store without a cover to keep it in, I knew it was only a stop gap case until I found the one I wanted but even for that use this is highly useless.  I bought this cover so thought I would do a review … it’ll be short.

Utter s***, put your iPad in a sock instead (one with a hole for the camera).

Seriously, there is NOTHING good to say about it, nothing.  The “fit” to the device is akin to an Octopus trying to wear a glove.  All the buttons are obscured by the case to one degree or another.  When you stand it up on the case it falls over … every time.  Seriously this is one of the shoddiest pieces of shit I have ever seen.

Seriously the write up on the web site lies with every statement, whatever it says about any aspect of the case the absolute opposite is the truth.  Utter, utter shit.  A blind, deaf and dumb Otter with arthritis could design and build a better iPad case out of its last defecation.

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Mechanican Keyboards – Ducky Shine 3

Well well …

I might be showing my age with this post but I don’t care frankly. I recently broke, I couldn’t take it any more. I’m officially sick of shit computer keyboards. As a developer I spend a lot of time in front of a keyboard. I type a lot. Years ago I remember using an old terminal style machine, far from anything fancy but sheesh the keyboard. The keyboard was frankly epic, turns out it was one of the now classic IBM Model M jobbies. So What?

Well, I never typed with so much accuracy since that beast was callously taken from me. Urgh!

Today we are brainwashed with always getting the best deal – read “cheapest”. Yay! I saved X number of Dinari for my life story, big deal. The IBM Model M ironically ISN’T a mechanical keyboard but a resistive spring loaded affair. Anyway, I can’t be arsed with the details frankly it had an epic feel, like a futuristic typewriter from a parallel universe in comparison to the shite that Dell et al shove out the door in a minute by minute basis.

Anyway, what did I do about it? I just received my order from Overclockers.co.uk. I proper Cherry MX Blue stuffed Ducky Shine 3 Mofo. Dreamlike. I nearly went with Filco Majestouch but the TenKeyLess (TKL- no number pad) Ducky won that particular battle and I’m now typing this on it. Tactile, Small and fully featured (a bit like me actually).

Don’t hesitate, buy one, your figures will love you forever … the Ducky Shine 3 will probably also out-live your fingers btw … but at £118 isn’t for everyone. I spend at least 12 hours a day bashing away at keyboards so I can justify it easily, either way have a look. It really is a joy to use.

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UE Boom

Just picked up one the beauties.  I have to say that this is probably one of the best sounding Bluetooth speakers I’ve ever heard. The bass response on the little thing is nothing short is astounding.

The level of bass that this can produce really is impressive considering its tiny size. I use it every day and it on needs charging once a week. The battery life is intrinsically linked to how loud you have it set to, not surprising really.

the weather proofing on it is a major win for a mobile device. It’s not water proof but will be fine in a light shower outside. I’m surprised at the lack of a feature like this is many of these kinds of devices since they are designed to mobile by their very nature.

The build quality on the unit is also exceptional. The mesh over the speakers is solid and the rubberised section container the main volume controls feels really tactile and solid.

Pairing the device to your Bluetooth equipment is a completely painless process. There is a small button the press and hold in order to open the device to new connections from new devices and it pairs extremely effectively. I have it paired with my MacBook Pro, an iPad and my Android phone. The connection is solid and never seems to drop even when the device is on a different floor in the house to the device it’s currently paired with. One very neat feature is being able to pair two of these devices for true stereo playback, I’ve only got one so I cannot comment on this but judging from the performance on the unit I can only assume it would be brilliant.

On first play I was simply stunned at how much sound came out of the thing, it can fill a large room with a lot of sound, something that cannot be said for a lot of other Bluetooth speakers. When I was choosing which unit to get it was a toss up between this and the little Bose unit but the form factor and weather proofing and sheer sound quality of this won the day.

Another really cool feature is the inclusion of a standard tripod specification screw mount. If you have a Gorillapod type mini tripod this can screw into the speaker and let you mount the speaker literally anywhere. Very cool and also as far as I know unique to the UE Boom.

I cannot say enough good things about the unit. Amazing …

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