Sep 242015

I was contemplating all the BS that is abound on the internet this morning, not a bit stunned about how little of it is actually true. It reminded me of a couple of things:


Was the first thing.

Then I was reminded of a topsy-turvy poem that I kind of mis-learned at school. It seems that, like anything, there’s a number of different versions, one of which I learned and appears to be the wrong version. I believe that this is the original version, however I can find no reference to credit the original author:

One fine day in the middle of the night,
Two dead boys got up to fight,
Back to back they faced each other,
Drew their swords and shot each other,
One was blind and the other couldn’t, see
So they chose a dummy for a referee.
A blind man went to see fair play,
A dumb man went to shout “hooray!”
A paralysed donkey passing by,
Kicked the blind man in the eye,
Knocked him through a nine-inch wall,
Into a dry ditch and drowned them all,
A deaf policeman heard the noise,
And came to arrest the two dead boys,
If you don’t believe this story’s true,
Ask the blind man he saw it too!

Still, could be worse, you could drive a Volkswagen diesel…

Aug 132015

*But boobs are an entirely different matter…

The utter and complete devastation of seeing a penis is never as prevalent as when you don’t want to see it.

So, how about when you are “violated” when someone Airdrops a picture of a penis (possibly their own, possibly not) to your phone. How do normal people react? They cringe a little (or lots, dependent on how good the appendage is) and then delete it. Right?

Not if you’re Lorraine Crighton-Smith:

The victim received two pictures of an unknown man’s penis on her phone via Apple’s Airdrop sharing function.
Lorraine Crighton-Smith, 34, said she felt “violated” and reported it to the British Transport Police (BTP).

Now, there’s a couple of issues here:

  1. For someone to be able to Airdrop something you have to have airdrop switched on.
  2. It has to be set to “receive from anyone”.
  3. You have to have it active at that particular moment to be able to receive it.
  4. You have to accept the airdrop request.

She admitted that she was sending photos to someone else previously. She declined the request the first time…

“So, I declined the image, instinctively, and another image appeared, at which [point] I realised someone nearby must be sending them, and that concerned me. I felt violated, it was a very unpleasant thing to have forced upon my screen.`

So, she must have accepted the request the second time. She was that violated that she reported it to the BTP.

Here’s a couple of simple suggestions:

  1. Turn off Airdrop when you are finished doing whatever you are doing.
  2. If you MUST have it switched on all the time, set visibility to “Contacts Only”.

“What’s the next stage from sending a naked photograph to a stranger, what happens next, was he getting any sort of gratification from it?”

Honestly? The next stage. Nothing. I really believe that this was a practical joke. At most it was probably a demonstration that people are far too lax about security on their devices.

Would I do it? No, I know what my penis looks like…

Jul 302015

Thinking of going to Windows 10? Like your personal security?

Read this article from Brian Krebs

…there’s a very important security caveat that users should know about before transitioning to the new OS: Unless you opt out, Windows 10 will by default share your Wi-Fi network password with any contacts you may have listed in Outlook and Skype — and, with an opt-in, your Facebook friends.

That’s kinda scary huh?! Yeah, it’s not the open password, it’s an encrypted version of it. But still, sharing your password with all your Outlook and Skype contacts and your Facebook friends?!

I’ll stick with my fan-boi Mac thanks.

Feb 202015

So, Sunday morning last week I set up two cameras around my lathe and recorded my process for turning a Sierra Pen. One of these:


The one I turned was an olive blank and I took about 90 minutes worth of footage of the process. I ended up only using the footage from one of the cameras, mainly because I had no idea how to use iMovie on the Mac. I didn’t show the whole process (who wants to watch a bloke sanding???) but included “snippets” of each part of the process to give an over all idea of the steps I go through. The final video turned out at about 15 minutes.

I have been playing with iMovie some more over the last couple of days and have managed to get Picture in Picture working, with the audio from the “main” camera and the GoPro footage as the main picture feed. I took the 3 minute or so section of sanding footage and have uploaded that to YouTube too. I think that having the GoPro as the main picture shows the detail of the tasks and I will use this if I do any more videos. I have some ideas for some other “stuff” I want to turn and record so I may well do a few more. Putting the PinP slows down the editing process as getting the to cameras synchronised can be a pain in the butt. I think it’s worth it though:

Would love to hear what you think and if I should carry on recording and posting videos?

Feb 112015


If, like me, your iPhone is getting a little older you may well be finding that battery life has become an issue. All those apps, background refreshing, using up your precious battery, using up available processor time and essentially killing you.

Well, I figured out how to fix the problem!

Before I tell you, let me explain a little further. I was finding that I would charge my phone over night, unplug it in the morning, go to work, do the usual stuff and by about 10am I would be at 60% battery. By lunchtime (midday ish) I was at 40%. At this point I would be panicking, would the phone last until I could get to a charger? I got so paranoid that I actually got hold of a second charger and had it at work so I could charge it. I would also throw it on charge in the car on the extremely long (10 minutes or so) drive home from work. By this time I would be at 10% or so of my battery. On a bad day the phone would be dead.

So, how did I fix it? Well, there’s a couple of benefits to this fix.


Yep, it’s that simple. I took my phone off charge at 6am today, as I write this at 1800 I still have 51% of my battery life, no charging during the day or in the car!

Oh, the other benefit? Well, I talk to people instead of checking Facebook every time I get a few minutes spare, my productivity has (marginally) improved and I am no longer wondering a) what all the cryptic “well that’s just bullshit” style status updates mean or b) watching an auto-played re-share of a re-share of a re-share of that really cute puppy struggling to walk in socks on the tiled floor.

There you go, I told you it was easy!

Want to improve your battery (and social) life? Uninstall the Facebook* app.

*Disclaimer: This doesn’t just work for Facebook. That app you keep checking every 10 minutes (G+, Instagram, Grinder etc), get rid of it. I guarantee that your favourite app is your battery killer.

Jan 232015

In early December 2014 I bought a new lathe, an Axminster AT1628VS. I was then asked to very quickly make two small items as Christmas presents. A small goblet and a box for some silver “straws” (for playing “the short straw”). I have no photos of the completed box but this is the goblet:
zebra wood goblet

Made in Zebra wood, it stands around three inches tall and has a captive ring.

These two commissions meant that I couldn’t remove the old lathe and install the new one as quickly as I would like.
Having (finally) got the new lathe set up between Christmas and New Year:


I then spent a few days re-designing the rest of the workshop to get my grinder, band saw and bench sander in and usable.

Since then I have managed to turn a total of two items. The first was a snowman, which was an exercise in form rather than a finished piece, getting used to the lathe and skills building with the skew chisel.


I think the ratio for size overall is OK but either the body needs to be marginally wider or the head thinner (while keeping the hat the same size). The hat on the final version will be blackened with India ink. Whether the glitter stays or not is a different matter. Not sure yet.

The other was a Sierra pen blank that I glued up a number of months ago but never got round to turning.


The blank is (I think) burr walnut and the inclusions have been filled with brass powder and superglue. The finish is 8 layers of superglue. I haven’t sanded it at the time of writing, but so far it’s the best CA finish I have done and I am certainly learning that less is more when applying the CA to the towel to put on the blank!

I will post again when the pen is finished – assuming I don’t screw it completely and end up sanding it off and finishing with friction polish! I really want to crack this CA finish lark!

My next project will be a small oak bowl, ebonised and cast with a pewter ring, an advancement on this piece:



Which is my favourite bowl so far.

More soon…

Before I go though, check out – Tom updates regularly and writes great posts!

Jan 232015

There’s a fair amount of tech news this week that I fear I just cannot let slide.

Three categories:

  • Winner
  • Loser
  • Wannabes.

Three stories:

  • Tim Cook (Apple) gets a pay rise
  • Blackberry asking for help developing apps
  • Microsoft giving away Windows 10

Can you put the three in the same categories I have? We’ll see:


Tim Cook. His base salary has gone up to $2m from $1.4m. And, why shouldn’t it? It’s money that Apple has earned. I have no doubt that there will be the critics suggesting that charge less for their products, but why should they? They have proven time and again that consumers are prepared to pay the premium for the product so why should Apple charge less for it?

It’s also his first pay increase in four years. Ok, his total remuneration package was over $9m last year, but if Apple want to reward good performance, good for them!


Blackberry. Seriously. They are claiming that developers should be “obliged to make their apps available on Blackberry handsets”. They are (according to reports) suggesting that developers and other handset manufacturers were discriminating against Blackberry by not making the apps.

Is this company really that delusional that they would expect Apple to share iMessage with them? iMessage is only available on Apple devices. Another example was Netflix.

Surely it’s up to the developer whether they develop for a particular platform or not? For Blackberry to write to the US Congress demanding that developers are forced to write for the BB platform is simply Dagenham – three stops past barking.

It’s no wonder that Blackberry is in the pan (not just heading for it), is it?


That obviously leaves Microsoft as the wannabe.

They wannabe liked, but with the farce that is Windows 8.1 (yes, I have used it quite extensively, evaluating it for a number of tasks), they may well be clutching at straws.

Congratulations on joining every other OS developer in the world by giving away an update for free, but only for the first year and only if you already own Win 7, 8, 8.1 or Windows Phone. Windows XP does not qualify.

Apple have done this for years with phones and desktops, Google does it for Android, most the linux distros (Ubuntu, Suse, Mint etc) are free, so it’s nothing new.

For Microsoft to do it suggests two possibilities:

  1. They realised how big of a cock-up Windows 8 is and are making reparations.
  2. They are trying to come across as the big friendly OS company.

I would go with 1 as there’s never a time when Microsoft will be seen as friendly. We might as well call Putin our best buddy…

Oh, but they are bringing Cortana (and a “magical moment” with the Hololens headset) to the PC. Whoop-de-f******-do.

Me? I am quite happy as a sheep thanks.

Jan 152015

I watch lots of instructional YouTube videos, woodturning, Geocaching, electronics etc. America is the largest producer of instructional videos in the English language, and for the most part the videos are great, well produced and informative. Heck, without YouTube I would still be bashing bits of wood together to make them round. However, I have a couple of quick points:

  • You don’t have to “go ahead and” do something all the frigging time. I have just watched a 12 minute video on turning a deer antler pen. The guy presenting said “go ahead and” 14 times. Yep, more than once per minute.
  • Height is pronounced “height”, not “heighth” or “heigth”. These aren’t even real words. Here is a useful link on pronunciation.
  • It’s a burr, not a burl.
  • It’s a bush, not a bushing.

Ok, the last two can be put down to language differences and pronunciation (like the hard “ch” that Americans use in “chassis”), but the first two are just bloody annoying. Please, for the sake of all things human, stop it!

And breathe….

Jan 142015

I stopped smoking in April and started “vaping”. You know the e-cigarettes? Lots of people say “well, you haven’t really given up have you?!”

I can’t be bothered with that argument any more. I feel better, my bank balance is better and, still surprising me – I can smell better.

Unfortunately, the improved sense of smell means that I can smell when other people have smoked. Unfortunately (and I will never mention this to smokers in person) the smell almost makes me gag.

Did I smell that bad?? Really?? I am so sorry!

As a smoker you don’t realise how noxious the smell is. It’s around you all the time so you just get used to it. I suppose it’s like working in a sewage works, after a while you just don’t notice.

9 months since I gave up now, the intention is to stop vaping by April. Hopefully.

I am aware that the long terms effects of vaping aren’t known, it just hasn’t been around that long. Studies (sponsored by opponents of vaping and eCigarettes (aka “the dogooders”)) suggest there’s still formaldehyde produced by vaping. What they don’t mention is that it’s “trace” amounts and then it is only produced when vaping at 90 watts and above. Let’s put that in perspective: standard incandescent light bulbs would typically run at 40 to 60 watts. Yes, it’s the same measurement.

Me? I generally vape at nine watts. Ten on a bad day. I am trying to reduce that and have already changed from 18mg nicotine to 8mg nicotine in my e-liquid. Getting there!