Category Archives: Technology

Don’t buy a …

… Gainsborough shower. So, I bought a new shower after moving into this house 17 years ago.

After just a couple of years, the first problem arose. A smell. A weird electrical smell. This was soon followed by (since I’d not conclusively identified that the shower was the source of the smell) smoke.

Electrical stuff was fixed (don’t ask me exactly what) and everything was fine.

Regrettably, the shower expired after seven or eight years (from installation). While realising that this was a little early, I bought a replacement internal unit. I even fitted it myself. It wasn’t too painful a process and I even remembered to turn off electricity and water.

And it worked.

Here’s a picture of the shower unit.

I didn’t actually take a picture at the time; this picture was taken so I’d know which coloured wire goes where. Because, yes, the damn thing died last week.

Thinking positively , the replacement unit had lasted a year or two longer than the original. I’m sure that the original, as well as the replacement, should have lasted longer, though.

When the second incarnation of the shower expired prematurely, I had to decide whether to replace the shower’s innards once more, or just replace the whole damn thing.

Yes, I thought it’d be easier to buy the same shower unit again; or at least it’s internal workings.

Fitting took longer than I’d hoped. The compatible unit looked identical to the original, even though it wasn’t.

Hopefully, it’ll last longer than its predecessor. But, if it doesn’t, I’ll just start again.

Apple Mac

I’ve had PCs since the very beginning, since a time when I didn’t know anyone else who had one.

I went through the evolution of XT, 286, 386, 486, 486DX, various Pentiums and AMDs before eventually losing interest in building computers. I still have a desktop PC, with a recent memory and hard drive upgrade, but I no longer build or buy a new computer on an annual basis.

In the late 80s/early 90s, a PC was pretty expensive, but the most affordable computer. Excluding the 8/16 bit machines that plugged in to a TV.

The Apple Mac had a cooler image, but the screen was an inch or two smaller and the cost prohibitive.

My first PC, an ‘Turbo’ XT clone cost £475. That bought a machine that ran at a maximum of 12Mhz, had a huge 640k memory and a single 5.25 inch floppy drive. A 10MB hard drive was added later at the bargain price of £90.

My second PC, a 286, ran at 16Mhz. It had a whole 1MB memory, a 40MB hard drive and a 3.5 inch floppy drive. Since I already had a monitor, I snapped it up for just £400. That would have been around 1990.

That 286 ran MS-DOS 3.3; the XT came with DR-DOS to save money. I’d experimented with the GEM graphic interface, but it ran slowly and I opted for the cruder DOS command prompt.

It was a couple of years later, after building a 386 PC, that I tried Windows 3. It wasn’t great, but it was miles better than Windows 2.

Of course, the Apple Mac was around at the time, with a much friendlier interface. But it was costly at over twice the price of a decent PC. And there was limited potential for upgrades.

In all honesty, cost was the main reason I avoided the Apple Mac. Until now, that is. Picked up on eBay for a bargain price, a Mac Classic. Just 30 years old.

As I said, it was cheap. It’s also very, very slow.


I’ve written on more than occasion about my old Nabaztag (actually a Nabaztag:Tag), from its purchase a lot of years ago, its original (very temporary as it turned out) resurrectionaround a decade ago, its more recent resurrection a few years, running from a Raspberry Pi (which ended when the Pi died when its charger exploded.

I may also have mentioned, last year, buying-in to a French crowdfunding exercise.

The kit (TagTagTag) arrived a few weeks ago, but I’d no spare time in which to attempt the (brutal) upgrade. Until a virus left me unable to do much other than dismantle an electronic rabbit (one of the earliest Internet of Things connected devices – pretty much an Amazon Echo forerunner, with ears).

Anyway, the main board (blue) had to be replaced with the new, purpose built board (green) and a Raspberry Pi Zero.

While some of the instructions were in English, some were only available in French. Still, there were lots of pictures, which was really helpful.

Initial boot-up and connection to Wi-Fi seemed to go OK.

And then I hit the first problem. The setup URL didn’t work, so I had to resort to the Router to obtain the rabbit’s IP address.

Which I was able to use to manage the settings. In line with the settings, the rabbit is now in sleep mode.

However, there are two outstanding problems: firstly, LEDs flash when the rabbit isn’t doing anything. And, secondly, there appears to be no sound.

It appears I way need to check connections tomorrow.


I have a couple of redundant Nabaztag-tags, the second version of An early Internet of Things device, from the mid-2000s.

They look something like this.

The manufacturer went bust several years ago, resulting in the internet-reliant rabbits’ silence. There were a few attempts to resurrect the devices across the world; there’s an existing one which uses a Raspberry Pi as a replacement internet server. It works pretty well and I used it for a year or so. Until the Raspberry Pi I was using at the time exploded (a faulty power supply, which also killed the TV).

I’ve intended trying this again, but haven’t had the time to set it up (it’s a bit of a faff).

However, there’s a new crowdfunding project which removes the need for a separate Raspberry Pi. Instead, the original motherboard is replaced, with the addition of a Raspberry Pi Zero. Both new boards are contained within the body of the rabbit.

The ‘rabbit’ on the right, below, has the new board.

I know that technology has advanced a lot in the last dozen years, but they’re still cool, albeit outdated, devices. So, I couldn’t resist.


My new work phone is an iPhone. Previously, I had a Blackberry. Said Blackberry was pretty shit, but it sort of worked. For work. The battery life was amazing, even after a few years. It was ugly, but bounced well in the pub.

Anyway, this is my new work phone.

It’s dark; yes. I’m in a pub. That’s OK because the phone is in a protective case (bought personally from eBay for two quid).

Note the Apple logo though. I’ve owned Apple phones in the past and the logo was, in my experience, distinctive but unobtrusive.

Unobtrusive as in seamless to the touch. Let’s focus on on that now.

Unfortunately, I find my my work phone irritating. Because the logo on its back has a definite ridge on one side.

I have an obvious theory (hypothesis, I guess, since this hasn’t been tested in a controlled environment), that HM Government is providing users with commercially rejected products. Hence the logo sharpness on my work phone.

This all reinforces my personal phone preference for Android.

While representing good value for the taxpayer.


Since it’s release, the GPD Pocket has had poor support for Linux. Although an Ubuntu version was promised from the outset, the machines shipped with Windows 10. It would be a few months before an Ubuntu version was available, so it was fortunate I’d ordered the Windows variety (with the intention to install Linux as a dual boot, although that proved to be impossible).

With the Linux version came an Ubuntu download. Unfortunately, there were some issues with this and I probably shouldn’t have installed it so quickly.

With the release of the Pocket 2, it appeared that GPD weren’t going to attempt a Linux version. And that was indeed the case.

Fortunately, Ubuntu Mint have now released a distribution for both the original Pocket and the 2.

It seems to work fine too.

My Key Machine

I’ve been dying to try the cool key cutting machine in B&Q since I spotted it a few weeks ago. Remembering to take a key with me tonight, we had three copies made for a tenner.

I don’t have a picture of the machine, since I’d left my phone in the car, but it was quick and the keys fit perfectly.


Only a year late, it seems our AD’OM prime will ship by the end of next month.

Of course, that’ll be a shipping container to an unknown European distribution centre. Still, the last mile will be by courier.