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Archive for the ‘Stuff reviews’ Category

Tommee Tippee Sangenic nappy bin review

06 May

I’ve previously mentioned in my Chicco Next To Me Crib review that we have a newish baby (nine months now!), and this is how I stopped our house smelling like a toilet, with the Tommee Tippee Sangenic nappy bin.

Tommee Tippee Sangenic nappy bin closed

The Tommee Tippee Sangenic nappy bin when it is closed.

The constant bane of having a small baby is how to dispose of nappies so they don’t stink up your house. We started with trying reusable nappies but my son’s legs are too slim to create a decent seal. We then moved to biodegradable ones as we were just putting them in the normal waste which goes to landfill. It turns out our local council has a specific nappy collection bag which they told me they incinerate, so we’ve since started using the normal disposable ones from Aldi (which are superb, incidentally).

This then creates the problem that you have a bag containing baby poo sitting in your house for anything up to two weeks. This obviously stinks. We tried a container from IKEA but it just didn’t seal well enough, and going into the nursery was enough to make you retch.

I mentioned this to a colleague at work and he said they use the Tommee Tippee Sangenic nappy bin and had no smell! This sounded too good to be true. A quick look on Amazon UK (Prime offer) and the reviews in general seemed rather positive, so ordered one straight away.

Tommee Tippee Sangenic nappy bin open

Tommee Tippee Sangenic nappy bin when it is open.

I have to say, the Sangenic has been a revelation! The basic idea is it seals after each nappy by manually twisting a long tube of antibacterial plastic film after you put the nappy into it. Totally ingenious, and it makes me wonder what the people who thought it was ineffective were doing wrong. It individually seals each nappy out the way as soon as it goes in, so it’s kind of difficult for it not to work if you use it correctly.

Before I got one, I thought to myself “I’m not spending ten quid on a BIN when I have a perfectly functional one already.” Now, I am a total convert. I really wish we’d bought this when he was born.

Tommee Tippe Sangenic nappy bin inside

Inside the Tommee Tippee Sangenic nappy bin, showing the individually wrapped nappies like a string of sausages.

The refills aren’t too expensive (maybe a fiver each?), and if you fold the nappy in on itself and seal it with the fasteners it means you can get more in the bin. I probably empty the bin every four days, and change the refill twice a month. Emptying is smell-free too, as they come out like a load of sausages (see above), ready to go straight into the council nappy waste bag. The empty refill cartridges can just go in normal recycling.

If you want to stop your house smelling like absolutely disgusting, I can wholeheartedly recommend this bin. Do yourself a favour and pick one up now from Amazon UK. These links are affiliate links that earn me a few pence if you use them. It won’t make the product more expensive if you do, and I would be eternally grateful!

 

Ledger Wallet: a novice’s review

05 Oct

I’ve been interested in Bitcoin for a while as the idea behind it intrigues me. The possibility that it may become a major global currency means I’d like to own a bit on the off-chance it makes me rich. I’ve been using Mycelium Wallet on my Android phone for a while just for small amounts as a test. I fancied something that felt more secure for storage for investment purposes. I ended up with a Ledger Wallet.

Paper wallets are often recommended for cold storage but I worry that they will degrade over time or they’ll inadvertently get destroyed somehow.

Which led me onto hardware wallets. After much research it appears my impression that they all seemed to rely on a third party to use was incorrect. The third party provides a means of using it, but you are not reliant on them to get your coins back. More research seemed to narrow it down to two options: Trezor or Ledger. The Trezor hardware wallet looked good, but at 99 USD (about £70 at time of writing) it seemed quite a lot for my first foray into this arena. Ledger had a few options with the cheapest being their Ledger HW.1 at about £20. This seemed cheap enough to take a punt on, so I ordered.

The Ledger Wallet package

My parcel arrived a few days after order and the box was shrink-wrapped and sealed. Opening it up you get the plastic card which you push the wallet out from. There’s a stylish envelope containing the authentication card and a security thing you write your wallet seed on. You push the wallet out from the card like you would with a mobile phone SIM card, then fold over a flap to thicken the USB plug section. Easy!

Contents of the Ledger Wallet box

Box contents

Next, you need to initialise the Ledger wallet. This must be done on a computer you know to be secure and free from viruses or malware. This is because the wallet seed is displayed on screen for you to copy down. Two main ways of doing this; the first, that I ended up using, is probably what most people will do. You simply install the Chrome app that leads you through everything and does most of it for you. The other way, which is the ideal way to my mind, is to boot the .iso file (downloadable from the Ledger website) from a CD or USB stick on computer that isn’t networked. I couldn’t get this to work at that point (I have since). Running Linux I took a calculated risk that I was unlikely to have anything untoward on my machine that could steal the key.

Ledger Wallet

The Ledger Wallet itself

The Ledger Wallet in use

From the Chrome app, you enter a 4-digit passcode to access the device. Creating multiple wallets on the Ledger is easy. Sending and receiving was blindingly obvious too! To send from the Chrome app, you either use the accompanying Security Card as the second-factor to authenticate, or you authorise it with the Ledger Wallet Android app. This (to me) is a stroke of genius. On first run you use the Security Card to link the Android app with your device, and from then on when you send Bitcoin from Chrome, you get the option to OK it on the Android app. It always requires a separate device (phone or card) to allow Bitcoin to be moved, thus adding to the security. I’m not some security whizz, but this certainly sets my mind at ease for storing larger amounts.

The integration with Mycelium is also good, but you’ll need to be able to plug your Ledger Wallet into your mobile device using USB-OTG. Most modern mobile devices support this now. Once the account is imported into your Mycelium wallet, you can then send using your mobile device. This will need the plastic Security Card as your second-factor to authenticate the transaction.

I personally prefer sending from Chrome and authenticating with Android, as I’m more likely to be carrying my phone than the plastic card. If you’re just using it for longer-term storage though, you may not mind either way.

Regarding recovery of your Bitcoin in the event of the Ledger Chrome app no longer being available, during set-up you are told to record your wallet seed (a series of 24 words). This enables you to restore your wallet to any other software or hardware wallet that supports the standard BIP39 wordlist.

Summary

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with mine, and it does what I wanted it to i.e. store investment amounts of Bitcoin more securely than other options I currently use. They are available from the Ledger website if you’re happy to order direct, or Amazon UK. Links to Amazon do use my affiliate code and earn me a small commission, but they don’t affect the price for you. If you found this review useful, please consider buying using one of my links. Thanks!

 
 

Chicco Next To Me Crib review

30 Aug

I recently became a father for the first time and had the pleasure of learning about a whole new world of stuff that a baby supposedly needs. One of our purchases was a Chicco Next To Me Crib as my wife wanted the little’un to be within reaching distance when she was loafing in bed sleeping. Having used it for a few weeks now I thought I’d share my experiences with it. In short, I’m rather impressed with its design and sturdiness. The fact that it also doubles as a travel cot is not a feature we bought it for. On the odd occasion we’ve travelled with it, it was very easy to do so.

Chicco Next To Me Crib, attached to the bed

Attached to the bed

Construction

I’m not generally one for reading instructions, though I did for this as it’s not a cheap item and I didn’t want to break it. I’m glad I did though as it highlights how easy the Chicco Next To Me Crib actually is to use! Two legs, a support that fits onto them, and a mattress. There are also some straps to secure the cot to your bed to minimise the risk of any small arms or legs getting stuck in between. All with a convenient bag to put it in, and despite early struggles, it does all fit in there very neatly.

On ours, the parts all click together securely and smoothly. If anything feels forced, it’s not meant to go that way. Each side is independently height-adjustable with five settings. An advantage of them being independent is that if your child is suffering from reflux, one end can be raised to help gravity fight the upward flow of uncomfortable stomach acids. The front unclips and attaches underneath for use next to the bed. In the up position the clips are covered by the fabric so no likelihood of fingers getting caught. Those arrows on the side indicate you push underneath to release it, rather than on the sides which I seem to keep doing…

The mattress has a (removable) hardboard base. Those of you with a baby monitor with a sensor pad can slip it in without hacking your nice-looking travel cot apart. The fabric is wipe-clean, thick and the stitching is good. No loose ends or anything of mention.

Everything fits where it should with no badly machined parts and it does exactly what I’d expect, well.

In use

I was absolutely amazing at assembling and dismantling the Chicco Next To Me Crib after about three goes. I’ve got it down to less than five minutes, and that’s with using the straps. The straps are a bit fiddly, though that is likely specific to our bed. I have to thread them round the frame and under the mattress. Having to lie on the carpet like a mechanic to connect them also slows me down. Incidentally, they are not permanently attached to the crib so you can attach them to the bed then clip them on.

Chicco Next To Me Crib - Underside view showing straps attached to bed

Underside view showing straps attached to bed

Complaints

To be honest, these are a bit picky:

Wife says the mattress is a bit hard, though doctors recommend a firm mattress. With that in mind, I doubt any baby mattress is going to be much different. In the shops they all seemed similar to the touch to me.

Wife also finds it more difficult for you to get into bed when attached. I would suggest that is pretty much inherent in it being a bedside crib though…

Final whinge is that the Chicco brand sheets to fit this are rather steep in price. Other retailers have obviously noticed this! You can get the DK Glovesheets brand at a much more reasonable price from Amazon UK.

 
 

Rii Mini i8+ wireless keyboard review

04 Aug

I’ve recently been playing video directly from my laptop via HDMI on to our TV. Whilst this works amazingly well, I have found it somewhat irritating to keep getting up to start the video and so on. I’d seen mini wireless keyboards before but with no great urgency in getting one I’d not really looked at what was available. Now I felt I needed one.

After reading many reviews, the Rii Mini i8+ seemed to fit my criteria. In particular, I was looking for something with a UK keyboard and a central touchpad. Backlighting was also a plus point as was cheapness! Rii do several models with a central touchpad but some of them have a split keyboard which I wasn’t sure how well I’d get on with. The i8 and i8+ looked more like a game controller but the keyboard wasn’t split and the touchpad was central. The i8+ also had the added bonus of being easily found with a UK layout AND backlighting! I do think it is ugly, but at only £14 it was cheap enough that as long as it did the job I didn’t care. Here is mine:

Rii Mini i8+ wireless keyboard

There is a small compartment on the back that holds the USB receiver that plugs into your computer. As this is not Bluetooth, it actually works exactly the same as you would expect a wired keyboard or mouse to do so. This means that a large swathe of devices that accept USB peripherals are compatible with this device e.g. TVs, phones, etc.

Consequently, it works exactly as you would hope. I run Ubuntu so I was concerned there may be some compatibility issues but everything works as it should. The only gripe is the Play/Pause button seems a bit ‘sticky’ in VLC, toggling between the two very quickly so it often takes a couple of tries to get it to pause or play again.

The bonuses are numerous however. First up is the fact it is a UK layout. This seems quite difficult to find in these mini keyboards and having the ” and the @ in the right place for us makes it much more usable. The touchpad works well, if a little small, but then I did want the overall package to be quite small so it is somewhat inherent in my requirements. There are mouse buttons on the left side of the keyboard, either side of the touchpad AND multitouch works on this so you can use single tap on the pad for left, or double tap for right.

Backlighting (see image below) hasn’t been as much use as I expected; not because the output is insufficient, just that we don’t tend to watch stuff in the dark. One of the major features I chose the i8+ for over the original i8 is the auto-power off after three minutes. I rarely bother turning the keyboard off now using the slide power switch, as it simply sits there waiting to be woken up with any button press, upon which it powers on and reconnects. Note the touchpad will not bring it out of standby, but this is not a problem as the first button press appears to only wake it up rather than actually registering as a keypress.

Rii Mini i8+ wireless keyboard backlighting

It does feel surprisingly lightweight but sturdy enough. It’s already survived multiple drops from the arm of the sofa, and it’s not something I would want to stand on with my full weight however. The keyboard is perfectly fine to use, no worse than a mobile phone and people seem to get on well enough with them! I’ve even started using it occasionally with my laptop on my lap if the cat wants to lie on my stomach, which suggests it’s good enough for normal use. Battery life I am unable to comment on, other than the fact that it seems to last ages. I charged it when it arrived, and I gave it a little top up yesterday as I believe it’s better for the battery not to cycle it fully every time, and I think that’s around two or three weeks of light use.

Range seems fine for my use across the living room – I’ve not had any concerns about this at all. Some Raspberry Pi users have experienced issues, though this is believed to be due to EM screening on the Pi. They have got round this by using a short USB extension cable which alleviates the problem entirely.

My overall opinion is that this is a spectacular device, and at this price it won’t break the bank even as a whim purchase. Get it from Amazon UK now!

 
 

Total Shaving Solution

08 Jan

Tom Murphy from Total Shaving Solution offered to send me a bottle of their shaving oil to review here. Never being one to turn down free stuff I graciously accepted. Here it is!Total Shaving SolutionNow those of you who’ve seen a couple of my previous posts about razors on here, may recall I shave with a safety razor and brush. I use an Edwin Jagger Medium Best Badger brush, mostly with a Palmolive shave stick. I alternate between two razors depending on my mood and how long my stubble is. When it’s longer I’ll go for the Muhle R41 because it’s open comb; if not I’ll use my Merkur 34C. I only use Feather blades if I can help it. As I’d been putting off shaving for a few days until I had time to take some photos, I had a reasonable length of stubble to shave.

Unshaved faceDue to this, I went with the Muhle with a new Feather blade. The instructions say to ‘Generously wet area to be shaved’. I took this to mean ‘wash’ so rinsed my face with warm/hot water for a few minutes until my facial oils felt no longer present and the hair felt softer. I’ve never used any kind of pre-shave but have quite tough hair so have considered it. The bottle stated three drops so three drops it was. Interesting smell; masculine but subtle. Massaged in thoroughly all over then wetted again before shaving, as per the instructions. It says to keep the area very wet and rinse the razor often, so after EVERY pass I rinsed my razor and splashed water on my face.

Starting with the moustache area it seemed almost as if there was no lubricant. As I got onto the main body of my face though I could definitely tell something was there. Now bearing in mind I’m used to lots of thick slippery lather, this felt distinctly odd. It felt like I was using the razor directly on my face, but not. While nowhere near as lubricating as soap, it lubricated ‘enough’.

After shavingI finished my shave and there was no soreness at all. A bit patchy due to the decreased lubrication but my skin felt really pleasant and moisturised. I’d seen on the Total Shaving Solution website that somebody actually used it as an aftershave balm. I was really tempted to try this.

A few thoughts before I wrap up this first instalment. Three drops may not be enough if you have loads of hair to shave away. I’m considering the possibility that I didn’t manage to get enough into the moustache area, or it might need a minute or so to absorb into the hair to soften it. For this reason, I will be continuing this review with a further shave when I only have a day or two’s stubble, and using the more aggressive Merkur 34C razor.

 
 

Get Out While You Can

22 Jul

It’s not often I read a book that inspires me to tell lots of people about it. This is one of those books. Buy it from Amazon UK here.

Get Out While You Can book cover

A while back I posted a review of the MD-80 mini camcorder. I started getting increasing amounts of traffic from people searching for the instructions so I thought I’d set up a website just for those people. You can see that website here if you want: MD-80 Camera Instructions

It occurred to me that I could possibly make money off this, so I put up a few affiliate links (from Webgains) to some places that sold Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

AeroPress

14 Feb

I’ve never been a massive fan of coffee but I will have it now and again if it’s not instant. I really want to like it because it smells so nice but I refuse to pay coffee shop prices on a regular basis.

I’ve got a small selection of coffee-making implements already but none inspire me to go back regularly. I’ve got a percolator and a cafetiere but these both seem to make gritty coffee that gives me heartburn!

Since the Aeropress Coffee Maker came out it has been slowly dropping in price by about £1 a year and I was waiting for it to hit a sensible level. It suddenly dawned on me that this was a ridiculous way to think about it, so I bought one immediately. Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

Haglofs Barrier Hood jacket

17 Jan

Available in the UK from Pack Your Bags with free postage.

[EDIT] Available from Amazon UK too!

I thought I’d give my thoughts on the Haglofs Barrier Hood jacket as I’ve recently had several people express interest in it. I’ve owned mine for over two years now so feel I can give a fair summary of its good and bad points. Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

New razors

29 Apr

Only one is actually new and I’ve had that for a while, so the title is a bit inaccurate.

First up is a Feather Portable. This was ‘New Old Stock’ but I’ve had it for a while.

Recently acquired but certainly Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

New shaving gear

17 Jan

I’d been thinking about putting a bit more effort into my shaving as it always seemed such a nuisance. My reasoning was if I enjoyed it more I’d be more inclined to do it more often. At this point I was shaving about twice a week using the Gillette Sensor disposables, mainly for my own comfort or my girlfriend’s.

I had experimented in the distant past with what I now know to be a Fromm ‘Hair Shaper’ Razor, Read the rest of this entry »