Why didn’t I do this years ago?

I’ve used all sorts of recording methods over the years, each of them having various complicated cabling paths.

Now it turns out there’s a really good one shot gizmo to do it all.

Its a Focusrite Scarlett solo. Perfect for me! I don’t need any fancy stereo for my setup.

I’ll be doing some work on Ostalgia this weekend!

The Revolution Starts Here

The majority of intelligent people in the country know by now that Boris Johnson is an inept buffoon, and that the Tories dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic is bordering in genocide; but the idiot now wants to lock down Manchester; and indeed after negotiating with their mayor, Andy Burnham, has hit a brick wall.

That brick wall all boils down to money, or the lack of it. The North is the poor cousin to the south, regardless of denial, Boris Johnson’s own constituency of Uxbridge & South Ruislip has received more money recently than the paltry 20 Million offered to the entirety of Manchester, even when increased to 100 million it’s still a tiny amount of the money spent on some London boroughs.

Obviously, Manchester’s Labour leaders have rejected the offer; and thus the Prime Minister is attempting to force a lockdown.

Now this is dangerous. The North doesn’t respect the Tories; and the police are dangerously underfunded and under staffed and attempting to enforce a lockdown against the people’s will would only inflame an already tense situation.

I suspect the glorious revolution may begin in Manchester and Liverpool; two cities who historically have always fought amongst themselves, but in these strange times may unite and form a solid wall. I suspect South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire may well join them to take the wall all the way to the Humber.

We shall see, eh, but these are definitely strange times to be living in.

A few days with the Nexdock

So I’ve had the Nexdock a few days now, and I suppose you’re all gagging to know what I think of it?

Well first things first – it is very important to remember that the Nexdock does not have an OS as such. If you are buying one because you think it’s a laptop then you’re going to be very disappointed. You have to connect some form of device to the Dock for it to do anything at all.

After the initial “oooh” moment I have now had chance to remove my rose tinted glasses and actually use it, and I’ve discovered a few things which may or may not be helpful.

Software

DeX, whilst a really good idea still needs work. A lot of programmes really don’t like it at all. BBC iplayer was one of my biggest disappointments! Also Google Apps really aren’t actually optimised for the DeX layout, although thankfully Microsoft have pulled their finger out and the android versions of their office suite work beautifully.

The wide screen, whilst at first appearing advantageous is actually not good for most Android apps. Running them in Landscape format is awkward and most of them end up with a very poor user experience. Thankfully apps can be resized and a tall thin window emulating the aspect ratio of a phone looks good. Apps that do adapt to the layout well, though, look stunning.

I tried a little Google Stadia on it. You would think the dock was made for Stadia! The sound is solid and bass, and the screen works beautifully with games such as Little Nightmares.

Browsing feels really natural, although I’ve actually found Samsung’s own browser to be a better performer than Chrome. The tabbed browsing feels like a PC browser and it renders windows much truer to a PC format rather than trying to render them to a tablet view.

I would like to add that the software limitations above are nothing to do with the Nexdock and are brought about by DeX.

Hardware

As for the hardware itself, well it’s certainly a very solid device! It feels heavy and substantial. Yes it fails the one hand opening test for laptops but I’m not too bothered about that personally.

The keyboard is a good if slightly springy one, with a good layout. I ditched the silicon skin in the end though as it was grippy and annoying, and so now I’m using a US layout. It’s not a major problem for me though as I used to use Acorn archimedes computers back in the 80’s and they always had the “odd” American quotes position.

One thing I did find is the proximity of the touch pad to the space bar does cause occasional nuisance touches, but the touch pad can be turned off easily with Nex & Escape key combination. I haven’t found this documented, but it’s good to know.

The screen is OK. It’s nice and bright, and the definition is very sharp but a cycling white @ colours test screens shows where compromises have been made. Mine has two blotches where the brightness is irregular. It’s a fairly standard panel though so I’m sure replacing it with a better quality panel wouldn’t be a massive deal.

The final thing to bear in mind is that the charger is a PD (power delivery) charger so you won’t be able to charge the device using your normal phone charger. I have two PD chargers. Both worked fine and charged it.

Final thoughts

Honestly it’s amazing.

A business usage scenario I see is staff are provided with a Galaxy S/Note smartphone and a Nexdock in place of a laptop. Desks in the business have monitor and keyboard setups with the original Dex docks. This means nobody needs a laptop, thin client isn’t required, and upgrading phones also upgrades the laptop simultaneously.

A forward thinking organisation should be heading down this route if, as per most businesses, they don’t actually use Windows and most of their software is browser based. My business is certainly going down this route with PC’s only being supplied to those who actually need them.

It reduces laptop theft, and because with a good administrative background Android is a robust business platform, you can increase device security to a very high level.

Nexdock Touch Arrived

After receiving the notification last week about my Nexdock being shipped and then it actually sitting in a warehouse for a few days (which I was fairly patient about to be honest), I had a notification on Monday that indeed it had shipped and it was in transit.

In what appeared to be no time at all it shipped across Europe, and arrived in the UK overnight. This afternoon at just after 12 o’clock it was delivered! (along with a customs email asking me to pay the VAT on it).

Well after a few hours of use I can tell you I am very impressed with it! The entire thing feels solid, with a nice substantial weight to it. The screen borders are very slim – pretty much rivalling my wife’s Dell laptop; the screen is crisp and bright with good colour rendering too.

Sound is acceptable. Not stunning, but very acceptable. The USB port works just as expected, and everything I’ve plugged into it so far was read fine by my phone.

It charges my phone whilst it’s plugged in, using it’s own battery to do so. The phone charges a little slowly, but at least it does charge.

As for the touchpad, well I’ve had to turn off multi touch gestures, apparently this was also a problem on the earlier Nexdocks too where the palm would trick the touchpad and the app you were running would close.

So what are the downsides? Well, only one really. It’s not a UK keyboard layout and the manufacturers have supplied a silicon overlay. It’s acceptable, but I’m not sure if I’ll stick with it. It feels grabby and clingy. I’ve given it a squirt of my latex clothing polish (I’m currently on BeGloss). It seems to have removed the cling a little. I should keep the membrane on as it is actually a work device and the membrane will keep the keyboard clean.

The other flaw with the overlay membrane is it does reduce the effectiveness of the backlighting.

Other than that little flaw I’m very impressed so far. It’ll be interesting to give it a spin out in the field, but I can honestly see it being my daily driver along with my phone.

Bloody idiot.

I have very little tolerance for these people. You’re a professional driver. Driving is your job. It’s your career.

Yes, and for a chosen career you can’t even keep in your mind the height of your vehicle.

Luckily the fines and penalties for these idiots are steep and they can usually consider it the end of their HGV licence, or at least the end of their career as a £80000+ insurance claim is a fairly hefty black mark.

This was a fairly minor strike compared to some of the ones we have around here. Being surrounded by railways we have a network of low bridges criss-crossing the borough and thus these are common events. The worst recently happened a couple of years ago and closed a major road for over a week whilst the bridge was repaired – it’s a brick arch bridge and the structure of the arch was compromised.

Galaxy Watch back

Having had a Garmin watch for the best part of 4 weeks I’ve finally got my Samsung Galaxy Watch back from the warranty repair. The battery had failed quite spectacularly – draining from 100% to 0% in under 30 minutes, often getting very warm in the process. When I charged it, it would often get to 100% charge but the light on the charger would stay red.

Anyway, it’s now back and to be honest it feels nice. The Garmin was OK, but rather limited, especially the notifications section which would often deliver the same notifications repeatedly.

Yeah the battery life is the killer on the Samsung – a day at most, and the weight difference is rather noticeable with the Galaxy Watch being somewhat heavier than the Garmin, but to it’s credit I can charge it from the powershare feature on my phone.

I’m still going to keep the Garmin for a while, and I’ll see how it goes for the next few weeks before I decide whether to sell it.

It has to be said though, Samsung have the nicest platform. I still can’t get on with Android Wear.