Servicing my Fiat Panda

Being Frugal – Servicing your car & fixing your car

Long time readers of my blog will know that I’ve been on a mission to save money & generally live a more frugal life. For a while life became very extravagant & very expensive. I’ve only just managed to correct a lot of the financial mistakes made during a foolish & stressful part of my life & I’m always looking at ways to save money.

A little over 3 years ago my beloved Land Rover developed a gearbox fault. It cost a lot of money to have repaired & the repair failed, so I ended up selling it for next to nothing. I then bought a sporty Mini Cooper S which cost me a fortune & after 6 months I sold it to buy a Mercedes estate. This cost even more money to run & maintain and after less than 18 months of owning 3 separate cars I was at a point that I could no longer afford to run a car (silly financial decisions & lots of expensive repairs). It was at this point we sold the Mercedes & used the money to start paying off debt. This would be the beginning of paying off almost £20k in unsecured debts. Read More....

The selection of Sim cards used for my conrwall rural mobile phone test

Rural Internet Access – Cornwall

All of my social media followers will now know I’ve taken a short lease on a converted church in Cornwall & plan to relax & research for the foreseeable future until completing my move to Amsterdam. This downtime is needed to really become an expert in my field again, over the past 24 months of downsizing & paying off debt all of my own personal development went out of the window. This time will put that right.

The first stumbling block I had when moving to Cornwall was perhaps the biggest, internet access. We live in between the villages of St Blazey & Lostwithiel on the south coast of Mid Cornwall. Coming from a major metropolitan area & back to Cornwall meant giving up any notion of 4G and hopefully falling back on 3G. That was a no go with my GiffGaff sim as the O2 coverage in my new house was 2G (gprs) only. And that was too slow to even send iMessage over. I therefore started ordering sim cards from all of the major mobile phone providers in the uk. This would prove to be a bigger challenge than I expected. Read More....

Beats 1 Radio OSX 10.9.3 restriction warning

Beats 1 radio – No go on older versions of OSX below 10.9.3

Beats 1 Radio OSX 10.9.3 restriction warning
Beats 1 Radio OSX 10.9.3 restriction warning

I’m really disappointed that Beats 1 Radio won’t work in iTunes on older versions of OSX. On my mountain lion OSX 10.8.5 machine which is an older iMac (and runs awful on Yosemite) I found that when updating to iTunes 12.2 all parts of Apple Music work with the exception of Beats 1 radio. This seems ridiculous as everything else works fine. It’s obviously a ploy to get everyone to upgrade to Yosemite & eventually El Capitan. Problem is, older machines don’t play well with the latest OSX. Read More....

Apple Music Connect

ios 8.4 apple music and beats 1 radio is a go

I was lucky enough to get everything done early today & by 4PM I was already updating my iPhone 6 to IOS 8.4. – 15 minutes later I was signed up to the 3 month trial of Apple Music & trialing this exciting service. Initially Beats 1 Radio was just a loop of ambient music called Ambient 1 – Music for airports by Brian Eno. We kept getting brief voice over of Zane Lowe chatting to other locations & engineers in the run up to a 5PM GMT launch. And then at 5PM Zane launched with a local Manchester Band named Spring King and the song City. Manchester went worldwide & opened Beats 1 Radio. Good work. Read More....

OSX El Capitan

WWDC2015 – Thoughts on WWDC, IOS 9, Watch OS and OSX El Capitan

Like all tech folk I ate dinner early yesterday & sat down to watch the live stream of the WWDC 2015. This is a big day in the tech calendar & we often learn of new & exciting things coming out of the super secret Apple engineering labs. It wasn’t quite as good as 2013 when I was in San Francisco for the WWDC but I can’t complain.

The three big announcements this year where iOS 9, OSX El Capitan and Watch OS – With a little extra bit at the end for Apple Music & Beats 1 radio. All exciting things & a lot to get your head around. Read More....

Apple Watch Main Watch

Apple Watch Hands On Review

Yesterday in Manchester I managed to get my hands on the brand new Apple Watch. I was as skeptical as most people when Tim Cook introduced these at the Apple Keynote in March 2015 but I must say I was very impressed. It was a bit of a scrum to get hands on with these watches in Manchester. A lot of people showing interest & Apple Employees where doing “fittings” which essentially means opening beautiful wooden drawers below the Apple Watch display & allowing you to try on the various editions. Read More....

Downsizing my cars

Downsizing & life changing – Update

It’s been a while since I last did a downsizing post. I think it could be as long as a year since I did any kind of update. So here is a little recap. A little over a year ago I was living with my wife in a 4 bedroom town house with a  garage and all the trimmings. I was driving around in a lovely Mercedes-Benz C230 estate. We had more space than we could ever use & a car which felt far too flashy. The events that lead to this point essentially boil down to a major family trauma & long recovery (which is still ongoing). It was a very stressful time & made us both act out of character. Read More....

John Large Everyday Carry

Everyday Carry – Tech geek

John Large Everyday Carry
John Large Everyday Carry

1. The North Face e-tip lightweight gloves
2. 2000mAh Battery Bank
3. Mulberry Wallet
4. Oyster Card & Amsterdam OV-Chipkaart
5. Compact umbrella
6. Oakley (4+1)2 Polarized sunglasses
7. Notebook & Parker Jotter pen
8. Nixon – The Sentry watch
9. Multi-tool
10. Huawei E160 3G dongle
11. Sandisk 16GB Flash Drive
12. Apple iPhone 6
13. Apple iPod classic 5th Generation U2 Special Edition Black/Red (30 GB)
14. Keys on Element Lanyard
15. Apple EarBuds
16. Retractable iPod cable
17. Micro USB short lead
18. Apple lighting cable & power adaptor
19. Spare GiffGaff sims
20. Integral SD card reader Read More....

OmnieVESA raspberry pi mount & temporary paperclips

Raspberry Pi 2 – First Impressions

I finally got a chance to order a Raspberry Pi 2 a few weeks back. I’ve been meaning to post about it for a while but I’ve been extra busy. I ended up picking the Pi up from The Pi Hut after really struggling to track one down on the high street. As always the service from The Pi Hut was great & a few days later my new Pi arrived.

Top view of Raspberry Pi 2

It’s hard to believe that the Raspberry Pi team have managed to squeeze so much power out of the same form factor & price point. The fact that it’s a quad-core means that everything feels much snappier. Less like a mega budget hobby machine & more like a mid range desktop PC. It will always be limited by processing power & RAM, not to mention raw graphic processing, but when you consider the price point & opportunity to try any project you like for very little financial outlay the Raspberry Pi will always be a great machine. Read More....

Apple Earpods

Apple EarPods with Remote and Mic

This week a good friend of mine gave me a pair of Apple EarPods with Remote and Mic. He was sent a replacement iPhone 5S to replace a faulty unit and they sent it retail boxed with another set of EarPods so I was given the new pair. The ones I currently use are the ones that shipped with my iPhone 4. They are now pushing 4 years old & still in perfect working order. In fact since my first iPod in 2006 I’ve never had a set of Apple Headphones go faulty. They are great quality & pretty much indestructible (I still have that original pair from my iPod I bought in San Francisco back in 2006). Read More....

kodi Youtube Addon

Raspberry Pi & Openelec – A good combination.

I’ve had my rev. B+ Raspberry Pi for just over a year since it’s release. When i got it I had a few projects on the go, including a sickbeard/sabnzbd/couchpotato server and a few media centres. At the time I had XBMC Frodo running on my Apple TV 1 via Crystalbuntu and on my ATV2 by Jailbreaking & installing. Both solutions worked perfectly so the unstable XBMC on the Pi wasn’t really worth pursuing. Also I had issues controlling with a keyboard & a Flirc when the ATV’s utilized the ATV remote so well. Read More....

Rii i8 wireless Keyboard for openelec kodi

Rii i8 mini 2.4GHz wireless keyboard for Openelec on Raspberry Pi

Rii i8 wireless Keyboard for openelec kodi

This week I finally took the plunge and bought a small wireless keyboard for the Raspberry Pi. The Pi in question is a B+ raspberry pi running at 700MHz and sporting 512MB ram. I’ve got a 32GB Sandisk Class 10 SD card in it and one of the excellent Pibow cases from Pimoroni.

Up until a few weeks ago I’d been using an Apple TV 1 as my main media centre (upgraded with a CrystalHD hardware video decoder & running XBMC) and a Jailbroken ATV2 as my backup. The Apple TV one is great, it’s fast & snappy but it’s a bit of a power hog & can take a while to boot up. Also Crystalbuntu is yet to be upgraded to Kodi as CrystalHD support was removed a few versions back. The ATV2 was great up until XBMC frodo when the hardware limitations started to show. I needed an alternative so I switched to Openelec on the Rapsberry Pi. Read More....

iOS 8.1.1 update for iPad 2

Just a quick post regarding memory issues and poor performance on iOS 8 when used on an older A5 chipset iPad 2. I upgraded to iOS 8.1.1 tonight and everything seems much improved. It’s nowhere near as quick as iOS 7.1.2 was, but it is snappier and less buggy. Also seems to have fixed the copy and paste issue I hacked a workaround for last week.

Safari loads faster and multi tasking is improved noticeably. Still having issues with gsm not working so I’m limited to wifi only but I’m glad to have a usable iPad 2 again. Read More....