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Archive for the ‘gadgets’ Category

My best bargain on eBay - A 99 pence - Nest Protect - Smoke and CO Detector

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

Whilst browsing the eBay Beekeeping category for a bargain, I came across an item called a HIVE Nest Protect.


I must admit, I had a little chuckle if you don’t know what a HIVE Nest Protect is, it’s a Smoke + Carbon Monoxide detector - why a Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector was doing listed in a Beekeeping category, and then noticed it had probably been listed with the eBay app, and matched to Beekeeping because of the work “HIVE”.

The Nest Protect - Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detector was recently tested in the Which? September 2017 magazine, and scored 93% Best Buy in tests, as quickest to respond in Smoke and Carbon Monoxide tests, and Which? magazine recommends that Smoke Alarms are replaced every  10 years, when was the last time you checked or replaced your smoke alarms?


The Nest Protect is manufactured by Google, and is part of their Home Automation range, and it connects to WiFi and also has a Smartphone App, the Nest Protect also checks itself daily, to make sure it’s operating correctly, and based on the data being collected by Google, smoke alarms are most likely to sound in the UK on Pancake Day!

Recommended Retail Price - £99 and from eBay 99 pence!


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Best iPhone 7 accessory - Apple AirPods not available from the Apple Store, but Argos only!

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

So now that I’ve turned to the “Dark Side”, I  might go “95% Dark Side” and I’ve snagged possibly the best iPhone 7 accessory, - Apple Airpods. The Apple AirPods are a pair of bluetooth wireless headphones. They are not currently noise cancelling, I’m sure that will appear in Apple AirPod v2. (Available from an Apple Store, in 18 months time!)

Apple Airpod sealed box

Apple Airpod sealed box

and they are brilliant…

Apple Airpods, unboxed

Apple Airpods, un-boxed

the airpods charge automatically when you put them back in their case, which looks like a box of dental floss!

Apple Airpod - dental floss case

Apple Airpod - dental floss case

iPhone Charging Widget

iPhone Charging Widget

brilliant quality product, which detects when you’ve inserted them in your ears with a simple bong, and your connected. Also includes a tap sensor, so you can use the inbuilt microphones, to call people.

Apple Airpods out of the case

Apple Airpods out of the case

If I’ve spoken to you in the last few days, then I would have spoken to you via my Airpods. Just a word of warning, check they fit your ears, and don’t fall out, because there are no plastic fitting buds.

What is a little odd, is these are currently on a 6 week delivery from the Apple Store, but Argos have stocks for Click and Collect!!?


Apple Store - Out of Stock - 6 Week Delivery ?

buy-apple-airpods-in-ear-wireless-headphones-white-at-argoscouk-your-onlin-000556how very odd ?

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Andy returns to the dark side, well almost - 90% Dark Side!

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

A number of years ago, I backed Apple, and invested in an iPad and iPhone, only to be burned, when Apple abandoned that platform, and left me with bricks which could not be upgraded, stuck on an iOS version with no applications available in the Appstore to support those expensive gadgets!

Fast forward a number of years and Google launched it’s first Android phone in 2012, the Google Nexus 4 - I blogged about it here - Andy’s Google Nexus 4 - that was over four years ago, and decided it was time for a switch to Droid in 2013.

In all those years Droid has served me well, BUT I’ve been experiencing more and more issues in the last 12 months with Droid applications failing to work correctly compared to iOS applications, also iOS application seem to be made available for iPhone and iPad before Droid (e.g. Airline eTicket systems), and also some applications are never developed or supported, e.g. Android Pay still does not support American Express -Do American Express have issues with Android security ?

Considering there are more Android phones in the world, than iPhones, it is indeed odd, that iOS is the preferred platform for some applications, but the Development time is longer, and also Apple verification can take a while, but with latest development kits, e.g. Xamarin - code can be quickly ported for Windows, Android or iOS applications from Microsoft Visual Studio. So this still puzzles me?

One thing I do know, is that Apple controls the hardware, the OS, the applications and therefore may make it a better applicatio  target, like Sun Solaris, Sun manufactured the hardware, and manufactured the OS - a strong platform, also similar to IBM, and AIX, developed specifically for IBM computers.

An opportunity arose to purchase a new phone, I could have purchased a new Google Pixel or Samsung something, but the costs are similar to an Apple iPhone, but the quality of Apple products are far superior in my opinion, and Google and Samsung products are overpriced, but believe because people will purchase Apple products at x GBP, they can also charge x GBP for their products.

So I decided:- to Return to the Dark Side, almost! I’m about “90% Dark Side” - I’ve opted for a Jet Black 256GB iPhone 7 .

But still using the Google ecosystem, e.g. Google+, GMail, Google Maps, Google Drive, Google Photos, not that horrible iCloud thing!

Jet Black 256GB iPhone 7 & Decoded Case

Jet Black 256GB iPhone 7 & Decoded Case

Jet Black iPhone 7

Jet Black iPhone 7

Jet Black iPhone 7

Jet Black iPhone 7

So we will see how long this lasts me, before I change back, come back in four years, and read the blog to find out, I could have decided to get a Blackberry or Nokia Windows Phone!

This was one of the major reasons, I change airtime companies, see Goodbye Orange @EE, and hello @ThreeUK! #makeitright

Oh, and the iPhone 7 - I’ve had it 4 weeks now, and It’s @#!”£$%^& Brilliant!!!!

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Goodbye Orange @EE, and hello @ThreeUK! #makeitright

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Goodbye Orange, and hello Three!

I’ve been with Orange for over 18 years, but times are changing, and I no longer feel it represents good value for money for me, and looking around at the other airtime mobile carriers, I think Three has all the features and more I need now.

  • Unlimited minutes
  • Unlimited texts
  • 30GB a month data allowance
  • WiFi Calling
  • 4G coverage at home, and at work.
  • Feel at Home destinations in 42 countries.
  • 4G Super Voice

and all this costs me less, than what I’ve been topping on Orange for many years!



I’m surprised how easily it was to port my old Orange number to Three, Orange just handed out the PAC code, and I entered it into the My3 application, and within 24 hours, it had been transferred to Three.



So if you have my existing mobile number it’s not changed it’s the same!

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Experiments with different Intel Processors in a HPE ProLiant Microserver Gen8 - Part 4

Friday, May 20th, 2016

Still experimenting with different processors, and I came across this part random HPE Part Number 832667-001 - Heatsink 65W - For use with ProLiant Microserver, this is the larger heatsink which is supplied with the HPE ProLiant Microserver Gen8, supplied with an Intel Core i3-3240 processor, which has a TDP of 55 watts, which I mentioned in this blog - Experiments with different Intel Processors in a HPE ProLiant Microserver Gen8 - Part 2.

So I thought let’s get a shipment of these in to test and play with for shits and giggles!

Here are some photographs of the 65 watt heatsink for the Proliant Microserver Gen8

Some testing to do later with Core i3-3240 and Core i5-3470T.

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Experiments with different Intel Processors in a HPE ProLiant Microserver Gen8 - Part 3

Saturday, May 7th, 2016

In a continuation of this series - Experiments with different Intel Processors in a HPE ProLiant Microserver Gen8 - Part 2, I imported a new processor from the US, see this blog - Purchasing items from eBay using the Global Shipping Program Part 2.

And in the box was a new Intel® Core™ i5-3470T Processor (3M Cache, up to 3.60 GHz) to test and try with the HPE ProLiant Microserver Gen8, using ECC memory. So what’s the difference between a Core i3 and a Core i5?

This Core i5 has a slower clock speed, of 2.9GHz compared to the Core i3, 3240, has the same number of cores and threads, but it is only 35 watts compared to 55 watts, so a better match for the stock heatsink rated at 35 watt only. This is the T version of the processor, which is rather scarce compared to the non-T version which has a higher clock speed and wattage (77w).

From the”Intel Ark” – no ECC hey!

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Purchasing items from eBay using the Global Shipping Program Part 2

Saturday, May 7th, 2016

So this blog is the final conclusion and update to Purchasing items from eBay using the Global Shipping Program Part 1.

I’ve read lots of negative comments about eBay’s Global Shipping Program, calling it a scam, con, don’t use it, ask sellers not to use it, the problem, in life, is people often tell 10 people or more if something goes wrong or something bad happens, BUT people do not often share good, positive results. But here is my Parcel! It works read on!

eBay originally stated the item would be delivered between Friday 6. May. 2016 – Saturday, 14. May. 2016, see here

Here are the final tracking details

The item was finally delivered on Friday 6th May 2016, by YODEL. eBay had originally advised it would be delivered on this date.

I cannot complain about the Global Shipping Program, I was able to track the items fully from the US, it was delivered on-time, as advised on eBay, and considering the number of logistics companies involved (I count 8!) I’m very impressed at the accuracy in the expected delivery. I paid no VAT, Import Duty, Administration fees, and this worked out cheaper for me, than using a Seller that does not use the GSP, when Royal Mail or Parcel Force, charge you the additional administration fee on top of the VAT.

Compared to sending items in the UK with a single logistics company, e.g. Royal Mail, Parcelforce, Hermes, DPD, YODEL, where there is no guarantee of delivery, and items go missing within the UK.

My parcel has travelled 5,000 miles from the US to Yorkshire, gone through 8 logistics companies, and I think that’s impressive!

Well done eBay!

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Purchasing items from eBay using the Global Shipping Program Part 1

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

I’ve read lots of bad press about eBay and the Global Shipping Program… here goes this is my experience..

On occasions I purchase items from the US from eBay or direct:- 16 years ago, items would enter the UK, and you would pay zero Import Duty, Value Added Tax and Administration fees.

That was 16 years ago, it would seem the world of Online shopping from around the world, especially from the US has now caught up with UK Customs, and today, if an item has a declared value of over £15 GBP, you will have to pay VAT@20% on the total amount, if the declared value is in USD $, it’s converted at the exchange rate on the day it’s received at UK Customs, and most often an administration fee of £8 or £11 depending upon if it’s Royal Mail or Parcelforce, that have handled your parcel.

Something relatively new, has started to appear on eBay on seller listings, it’s called the Global Shipping Program or GSP, my understanding is that US or UK sellers, do not have to worry about shipping overseas, they pack up the items, and ship it to a logistics company in the country or origin, this company then forwards to the destination, and also handles the Customs, Import Duty, Value Added Tax in advance, by passing this cost direct to the Buyer.

This payment is processed by Pitney Bowes, and appears on your Paypal Account as a direct payment to Pitney Bowes. You will see, two payments for the item, one to the seller, and one to Pitney Bowes for the Customs charges. The theory is that the item, is not delayed in Customs, and you pay no charges when it’s delivered!

I’ve actually been fascinated by the logistics involved in this process. I first got the following:-

It stated Multiple Carriers, and that didn’t help much in tracking…

And then this

I did some more digging, and found the following, it got handed to wnDirect

I tracked down the flight, using the Air Way Bill number 45494864, and it was on a Virgin Atlantic Cargo flight using this site, and 932 and VS (IATA code).

This led me to Virgin Atlantic Cargo Site

My item is in that parcel container, along with 26 other items! Received in London, 03 May 2016 @ 10.20.

I believe it’s now with 13ten

It will be interesting to see HOW QUICK 13ten, get it to me now it’s in the UK, as they use Royal Mail, Hermes, YODEL or DPD, that’s probably the weakest link!

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Synology NAS and SSD Cache Part II – Is cache better for Plex Media Server ?

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

In my recent article comparing the performance of the addition of a Read and Write SSD Cache to a volume on a Synology NAS, I started to look in detail at whether this cache benefits any other services on a Synology NAS running DSM 5.2.

In this experiment I’m looking at the Plex Media Server, and I’ve setup two identical Synology NAS, running DSM 5.2 Build 5644 Update 5, both with Plex Media Server, both are streaming the same 1080P Blue Ray movie to the same Plex client via WiFi, at the same time. The first NAS has no cache, the second NAS has 120GB of read and write cache, and these are the results.

The second NAS with the read and write cache enabled shows, lower Disk Utilization 1% compared to 5%.

Again you can see here, 6% (no cache), 1% (cache)

The same stats from both NAS, No cache and cache enabled, what is interesting is the CPU load results are lower on the cache enabled version!

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Synology NAS and SSD Cache

Saturday, April 9th, 2016

I’ve been recently experimenting with SSDs (solid state disks), to accelerate my spinning rust in my Synology NAS.

Recently in DSM, a new SSD cache option is available, which allows you to create a read or write cache with 1 or 2 SSD devices respectively.

Here are some results, which I’ve graphed


In my very quick and crude tests, I could see an improvement in Writing to the NAS, which doubles in performance. Read speed is very similar, and the cache was “warmed-up” before testing.

And here’s a video of the new Synology SSD Cache Read Hit Rate graphic, which looks a little graphic equalizer, from the 70-80s, so I’ve dropped a music track in the background! I thought it only right to over-flange (distort!) the track, so you may want to turn down your volume!

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