Manfrotto Mini Pixi Tripod

I have recently bought a Osmo Pocket and want to make some videos that require the Osmo to be mounted on a tripod. I already have a Velbon full sized tripod, that belonged to my father, which I could use. I want to use the Osmo on some mountain walks and to record some climbing. In the past I have carted the Velbon strapped to the outside of my rucksack, but the extra weight has put me off taking it with me on a regular basis. I have also got a Gorilla Pod clone, which is good on uneven ground, but isn't particularly stable.

There are lots of mini tripods available on Amazon, but I noticed the Manfrotto Pixi was on sale for £12.50. Full sized Manfrotto tripods have a good reputation, so I decided to purchase the Mini Pixi. The legs are non extendable and have a small rubber pod at the ends of the feet that help to stop the tripod sliding on slippy surfaces. When the legs are closed you can use the tripod as a grip.

Like many other mini tripods there is a ball and socket joint that allows you to tilt and pan the camera. To tilt and pan you press the small button and rotate the head to the desired position than simply let the button go to lock the head. This makes it much easier to adjust the position of the head accurately unlike systems which require you to manually tighten a friction joint.

I tried the tripod my Canon DSLR with a standard lens and it was stable, so it should be OK with any compact camera or phone. It costs £19.50 on Amazon at the moment, but I was lucky enough to pick it up in a flash sale for £12.70.

Amazon link

Honor Play

My Lenovo P2 has been an excellent phone for the last couple of years. Decent performance and outstanding battery life. However, I am finding it's 32 GByte of internal storage a bit limiting. It's stuck on Android 7.0 with a November 2017 security update and has been abandoned by Lenovo. I decided to have a look at what was available for less than £300.

After looking at various reviews the Honor 8 with 6.5" screen seemed to fit my requirements. However, it had a micro usb port, not USBC. I now have several devices that have USBC ports and buying a new phone with micro USB connector seemed a bit "Olde school". After a bit more research I discovered the Honor 8 Play. This is basically a souped up version of the Honor 8, supposedly aimed at gamers.

Specs. include:

  • 6.3-inch full view display LCD IPS (1080 x 2340)
  • 16MP+2MP dual AI camera
  • 3750mAH battery supports 1.5 days of heavy usage and includes 9V/2A quick charge
  • Kirin 970 AI Chipset
  • 64 GByte on board storage with micro/usb dual SIM capability.
  • USBC connector

On Amazon it was priced at £240, well within my budget. Now I am not a gamer, but I thought paying a bit extra for a phone that had better performance and USBC was worth it.

Initial setup was a bit unusual. Honor has their own Phone Clone app that did an excellent job of transferring all my apps and data from the P2. The phone has a Notch, that bothered me for all of about 5 minutes before I ignored it. There is a fingerprint scanner on the back and face recognition works really well, even when I am wearing my beanie and reading glasses.

Honor's UI seemed OK, but as a long time Nova user, I just restored my saved settings from the P2. The phone is not officially water proof, but the only time this has been a problem for me was back when I had a Nokia 5800 that was inside the top pocket of my rucksack and the screen died either from moisture or the cold in a snow storm. At full brightness you can see the screen OK in bright sun, but I normally run it at about 20%. The screen aspect ratio makes it easy to reach either edge of the screen, but as I never use the phone one handed that doesn't matter to me.

Speaker is OK, but I only use it for listening to phone calls. It does have the dinosaur 3.5mm jack.

Huawei gives you an awful lot of settings to tinker with, but sometimes this makes it difficult to find a particular setting buried deep in some menu.

The phone came with Anrdoid 8.0, but immediately updated to 9.0 with November 2018 security patches.

As it's meant to be a gaming phone, it came with several pre-installed games, all of which I immediately deleted. There are a couple of other Honor apps that can be deleted if you want to.

Bluetooth connected to all my headphones and speakers without a problem. The bluetooth version is 4.2 with AptX HD.

Main camera is 16 MP, f/2.2 with the front camera being 16 MP, f/2.0. Photos are fine for me.

Battery life - I had no problem getting through a day with more than 50% available at bed time most days.

Poundland Christmas lights Mods.

Plus how to make them run from a usb charger instead of batteries. You need a couple of 10 ohm resistors and a soldering iron. I am definitely going to try this. One of those "I did it because I could" projects.

Free Photos

When we went to see our eldest daughter at Uni last weekend I noticed that she had lots of postcard-sized photos on her noticeboard. Prints are "Free" up to 45 6x4 per month, or a total of 500 per year. Other sizes are available if you pay. There is a delivery charge of £3.99 (ie not totally free), but it seems reasonable for what you get. You can print directly from Google photos, or photos on your phone. Quality looked OK to me, but I am not a pixel peeper.

Brother P Labeller

I have had a Brother P Touch label printer for years. I don't think that they sell my model any longer and I expect you can find a cheaper equivalent to this one. It's very simple to use and has a built-in cutter and gizmo to separate the label from the backing tape.

I use it for labeling all sorts of things, such as files and storage boxes. It's great for labeling wall warts. Most of us have drawers full of rechargeable electronic items, which come with their own wall wart. If you don't label the plug it can be almost impossible to work out which plug you should use to power/recharge a particular bit of electronics.

Amazon link.

Service Charges in Restaurants

Service Charges in Restaurants. If I go to a restaurant, rather than a self service cafe, I can't avoid "Service". It's a non optional part of the experience. As such the price should be built into the price of the meal. If I get crap service, I simply won't go back to the same place again.

I don't think any other part of the economy has such a strange idea of selling you something that includes a service element. If I take my car into the garage I don't expect to pay an extra 10% because the mechanic did their job properly.

Duronic Electric Hub

A recent problem with our Aga means that we are without heating in the kitchen, clothes dryer, hot water and the ability to cook anything except by using the microwave. It will probably be out of action for a week or so while I run some new copper pipe and move the control box.

The Duronic Electric Hob has two different sized rings and seems reliable so far. It's easy to clean and powerful enough to heat things rapidly. I think it's pasta with everything until the Aga is fixed:)

Amazon link

Citibikes Vienna

A few years ago I tried to hire a couple of Boris Bikes in London with my son. Despite help from an Official Assistant, we were unable to unlock two bikes at once. So Boris you owe me £15, which with late payment charges and interest comes to just over £10,000.

Citibikes in Vienna is much better! There are various apps which show you the location of all the docking stations and the number of bikes available at each one. You can do most of the preliminary registration stuff on the website. However, the final step of registering your debit card requires you to use one of the card readers at a bike station. Note for Monzo users, just tell the machine it's a credit card when registering.

Fees are very reasonable. The first hour is free and the second costs 1EU. Vienna is pancake flat with lots of cycle lanes, so even occasional cyclists should be fine cycling around easy and safe.

However, the bikes are really heavy. They would probably survive a direct hit from an anti-tank missile. There is a single front brake, but the main braking is activated by back pedaling. If you are used to aligning your pedals when you mount the bike by sticking your foot under a pedal and back pedalling to get the pedal in the correct position, you can't do this on a Citibike.

There are three gears. However, the weight of the bike means that even on slight inclines you have to push hard in the lowest gear.

If you are a regular cyclist you will find the weight and braking system very annoying. On my 6.5k ride I averaged about 16kph. On a similar route with my normal road bike this would have been about 35kph.

In conclusion good bike for short rides (10-15 minutes) at a very reasonable price.

Self Assembly Flat Pack Furniture

Self Assembly Furniture. +Ted Salmon You need to hire my 17 year old daughter:) She is an absolute wizard. Wardrobes, desks, cupboards, etc. Give her a few tools and come back in a couple of hours to view the finished product. For some weird reason she enjoys doing it.

Lint and Fluff Roller.

In a house full of cats and a dog, clothes quickly get covered with various cat and dog hairs. Lazy people like me just ignore them. However, the female members of the household are much fussier :) These lint rollers are very effective at getting off animal hairs from your clothes.

They come with a roll of "sticky tape" in perforated sections. You tear off a section and wrap it around the roller. The run the roller over your clothes and the hairs will automagically stick to it. If you stick a plastic bag over the roller when you have finished, you can get multiple uses from each sticky tape.

Amazon link