Of new phones and Nexdocks

I’m not sure if you’re aware but I broke my phone. I’m not sure if it was just me or if it was a particular turkey because since I got it the USB port always felt a bit bad and loose.

Anyway, after dealing with Samsung on Wednesday (sorry guys, great phones but your customer service sucks balls) and finding out I’d have to send off my means of business communication for anything up to 2 weeks, and with the risk that they could then send me a bill for an unspecified amount I decided to claim on my insurance.

I had one day without a phone yesterday and it felt like my arms had been cut off. I couldn’t get things like passcodes and manuals for things despite having a tablet (of course a WiFi dongle could allow me to use the tablet out and about). My watch acted as my phone but the text messages didn’t seem to come through as they should and it was just so limited.

So my service provider sorted me a new phone the next day. Same as the last one. Possibly only temporary anyway as I’m really liking the idea of the Fold 3. A lot of money yeah, but I think foldables are finally entering mainstream.

After an evening of setup and clearing the inevitable junk that’s appeared on it; and rationalising the installed apps (I’ve always previously restored from a backup but this time I had time to clean it up in the process of the restore) I’m up and running again.

Like I say the Fold 3 is really attracting me. Yeah it’s a downgrade on the camera as it’s back to what appears to be the Note 10 camera system (unless they surprise us) but the thought of a foldable has really cried out to me since the original Fold first appeared on the market.

Obviously I’d need to consider the s-pen issue (the new one works with the s-pen but unlike the Note there’s no dock in the phone to store this) – would I end up with a case to hold this too? Would I lose it? Will it be Bluetooth as I use the Bluetooth shutter release so much when I’m doing my photography.

So what about the new Nexdock?

Honesty, having used it briefly the USP of it flipping back to front isn’t a selling point. The Nexdock Touch is the better device. Sorry guys, but in your redesign you’ve taken away two features I really use.

1. USB – yes, USB C is a big thing now. But USB A is still commonplace and as someone who uses it a lot to get footage off drives getting rid of the USB A port is a killer. I don’t want dongles. It’s more crap to lose!

2. HDMI – they’ve gone down the route of mini HDMI. Again, more crap to carry. I can buy a HDMI cable in Poundland in an emergency – I often need to monitor CCTV systems and I need to use the customer’s existing architecture to plug in. HDMI is essential to me! I can’t be doing with non standard ports and dongles again. I know they supply you a cable, but again, more crap to carry!

I don’t think I’ll be ordering any more. Yeah for the common or garden user I’d say jump and get one if Samsung DeX is your thing; it’s just the old version is my favourite.

At last. A true “journey”.

After many months of riding from a place, to a point, and then back again (and not dropping a ring in a volcano in-between either), yesterday I finally did a proper journey.

I rode along the 5 weirs from Sheffield to Rotherham (via Hotel Chocolat of course!).

The start of my journey was Sheffield Cathedral. It’s an interesting building with a really beautiful church in there somewhere and then an odd modern extension on one end.

Via Hotel Chocolat I rode down to the start of the five quotes weirs. Again I found what I have found in other towns. The cycle network is very fragmented and often gets you lost (I know my way around Sheffield very well, but had I tried to follow the signs it would have been a very different matter).

The start of the five weirs (part of national cycle route 6) is a really cool bridge running through one of the wicker arches. The coolest thing being the really funky percussive sound your wheels make on the flooring they’ve used.

This bit is very Dutch in how it is laid out. I could imagine something like this in the Netherlands.

I carried on down the Don Valley, only to be disappointed that a section is closed and the diversion takes us along a section of the main road and has no cycle lanes. See what I mean about fragmented? Even though there are signs indicating cycles. Grr!

I carried on, losing the temporary signs at one point and so just carried on the way I know best; eventually making it back into the route near Meadowhall.

The rest of the route to Rotherham is both well maintained and clearly marked. It’s also fairly flat so for the most part I just stuck with seventh gear, occasionally dropping into sixth for the gentle hills. I have to say though that the first bit of the journey was very enjoyable. The middle bit was terrible (due to the closed sections) but once I reached Meadowhall it was a great ride and very picturesque.

Anyway here’s my map on Strava. I honestly can’t believe I’m actually doing these sorts of distances now. As kids we used to ride loads but never this sort of distance – but then we were on BMX bikes.

Another fitness post…

This week I crossed the 100kg boundary in the right direction (down). Now I’m aware how weight works and how a few hours later I could be back up at 101kg, but it was a delight to see the scales lose a digit.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been collecting together both my old and a little new camping gear, and I’ve started riding the cycle with a load on the rear rack to get me used to the feel of the extra weight.

Today I finally went out for the first time fully laden. The top bag on my panniers had two fire alarm batteries in to simulate the weight of my food and clothing. The total load is now just under 22kg:

The main items are listed below.

  • Zelter Shelter 1.2kg
  • Sleeping bag 1.0kg
  • Mat 950g
  • Thermal undermat 600g
  • Stool 760g
  • Kelly Kettle and accessories 900g
  • Folding Curobot Stove 650g
  • Pocket Tarp 300g
  • Pans, cutlery etc. 1kg
  • Panniers 600g

The big win is the Zelter Shelter. It really is an absolute Jack of all trades; a Swiss army knife of a tent/tarp/poncho which means that along with a lightweight rain coat you’re covered for pretty much a huge storm as you can use it as a tarp, or a poncho if required and then convert it into a tent and spend the night if you need to.

I’ve not spent the night yet but I did stop in a nice bit of woodland just off the trail and make a cup of coffee. Even though I have the Kelly Kettle on this occasion I chose to break in the new Curobot Stove which unlike the Kelly Kettle which is very much a one trick pony but does it’s one trick phenomenally week, this stove has a decent size burning pan to actually keep a fire with some warmth for a few hours, and because it’s got an ash tray you can stop it choking up on the burnt material.

So we didn’t win.

Even though it was a strong team and they were very strong against the very aggressive Italian players for 120 minutes, the England team lost on penalties yesterday.

I’m actually quite pleased it went this way. Not for the team; I’m gutted for those guys who tried so hard. Not for the real fans (the people who follow football like a religion, not the thugs who smash up town centres), but for the Government and the clown who sits in number 10 milking this patriotism for all it’s worth.

Had our team won last night he would have used it as a device to fuel the horrible nationalism the Tories seem to thrive on. The gammon would have had another reason why “Engerland” is the best in Europe, and another reason why we’re better out.

Well we lost. Italy is better than us at football. Get over it. Lots of people are better at us at most things. We might have invented the things they’re better at, but they’re still better.

I’m so pleased!

My old Vango TBS Micro 100 is actually fine after not being used for about 18 years.

My current plan of doing a cycling/camping trip is bringing to take form and with the impeding thunderstorms yesterday afternoon I decided to pitch it in mum’s garden to test how waterproof it is.

Apart from a few discoloured marks on the back of it, the tent looks great and I can honesty say after a lot of storms and torrential rain the tent did not let a drop of water in. This morning when I checked up on it, the inside was bone dry.

I was worried that if my tent leaked I may have to abort plans, or end up buying something like a Zelter Shelter which whilst it sounds like a cool idea, it also sounds incredibly claustrophobic though.

The difference between lighting styles.

Latex is notoriously difficult to photograph. It’s a very shiny material and under the right lighting it yields very reflective highlights.

Left to right we have:

1. Close lighting to the left; incandescent and one LED tuneable light set to cool white. Lighting straight in front – one incandescent spotlight about 10ft away.

2. Same as the first, but this time with the “house lights” on. These are fluorescent lights.

3. House lights and the 10ft incandescent spot only.

4. House lights only

As you can see the lighting really charges, particularly between the left two and right two photos. The specular highlights on the first two are really hot on the light levels.

22 miles!

When I was a kid I used to go all over on my bike with my mates, but in all honesty I can never say I went as far as 22 miles. The longest rides we used to do were to Elsecar reservoir, about 7 miles away; so about a 14 mile round trip.

Yesterday I did 22 miles – not easy miles either – the TPT towards Doncaster is uphill and quite strenuous – but wow is it worth it.

But it’s worth it for views like this from the Conisbrough Viaduct. This is the River Don as it heads downstream. The sad thing about this view though, is that it is close to a main road.

Why is that sad I hear you ask?

Well some of the views I’ve found on my cycling adventures are 2-3 miles from easy access. I think of them as my reward for the exercise and actually getting on my bike and doing something. For example, the really cool bridge below.

It’s miles from anywhere. You can’t drive to it. You can’t park near it. Karen in her SUV won’t visit it with her screaming brats.

The viaduct on the other hand was full of people who thought it was a nice day and they’d go and park on the main road and have a “nice walk”. By nice walk I mean stand in the middle of the cycle path and generally get in the way; even ignoring my bell and then looking offended when you ask them to move.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not become that selfish arrogant cyclist; but I am finding myself preferring the quiet routes. Luckily though as it was later in the day the canal towpath was quiet from Sprotbrough to Conisbrough. I would imagine at busy times this would be horrendous!

Now for my next adventures… A camping trip. As my fitness improves I’m starting to carry small loads on the back of my bike; and I’m gradually increasing them with the aim of going for a short (10 mile) camping trip. I’ve eyed up a campsite – it won’t be wild camping the first time I go – but I am looking towards a wild camp or perhaps meeting a friend on one of the trails.

Garden works

So we’ve decided to totally and utterly obliterate our old weedy garden and start from scratch. It’s cleared now and over the next few weeks we’re going to replant it.

Last week we laid two patios; one a rondal, the other a small sun patio for the evenings when the bottom of the garden goes into shade.

We have kept the shrubs which are healthy though as we aren’t really going to have any grass as such – it’s going to be all low shrubs and perennials including a fern area for me since I love ferns.

Yesterday I put in the lighting. Two bollards, both concreted and on drilled slabs to ensure they look tidy. Getting them vertical was not easy as the slabs are textured but I managed it.

I hate floodlights but I love to see low level lighting which is well designed and doesn’t light up the whole world. These are downward reflecting bollards which have a really good rating for efficiency when it comes to not sending light up into the sky. Over 99% of emitted light useful.

As an extra bonus I’ve put smart bulbs in them so we can dim them and change the colour of the lighting as required. This makes them really useful as we can mood light the garden.

They’re all on sunset timers and they turn off late at night, but like the rest of our stuff there are linking actions through Smartthings so if it senses movement on the camera it turns them on low for 10 minutes before fading then back down.

The other wire is for a socket on a post. This time we are determined to do it right and have some power on each of the two patio areas.