Monthly Archives: November 2006

I give up on Wireless Keyboards and Mice

When I bought my Mac mini earlier this year, I bought the Apple Wireless Keyboard and Mouse so I could easily control the Mac mini from across my living room.

My experience with these bits of kit has been less than impressive; there’s a noticeable lag when making any input (especially bad with the mouse), and occasionally the keyboard and mouse have to be re-paired with the Mac mini.

My patience has worn out, and I’ve now paired a wired Apple keyboard with a wired Microsoft mouse, connected to the Mac mini via a cheap 3m USB extension cable. The extension cable is usually hidden beneath my TV stand, but it only takes a couple of seconds to retrieve it or store it, and the result is infinitely better than the old wireless solution.

If your room isn’t too big, I’d recommend this solution over a wireless keyboard and mouse. It’s not as elegant, but it’s cheaper and more responsive.


As a geek who’s not overly concerned with appearance, clothes shopping has always been a bit of chore for me.

The rise of stores such as Primark has changed that forever. £3 t-shirts that look very similar to £30 or £40 designer t-shirts, £5 dress shirts, and £8 zipup tops etc. Most of the items seem to be as well made as far more expensive items, and current with whatever’s fashionable.

Primark has de-risked clothes shopping for me. If I see something that I like, it’s probably quite stylish, and even if it turns out to be a mistake, or falls to pieces after a few washes (hasn’t happened yet), it’s not a big concern at those prices.

It’s not all perfect though… I do have some worries about how much the workers making the clothes are earning. It’s not something that I’ve looked into, but they can’t be making much putting together £3 t-shirts…

Another issue is how busy the Primark’s stores are. Unless you go just after they open, they’re not the most pleasant place to be, as they’re just too busy.

Despite those issues, I would hate to go back to a time before Primark and its competitors graced the high street.

I’ve even started buying multiples of certain items that look good on me and wash well. A certain £8 zipup top that I liked reappeared in a local store after I thought they’d sold out. I bought three of them (in addition to the one I already had), so when one wears out, I’ll just go in my cupboard and retrieve a new one.

Further RSS Improvements

In order to make the main review feeds for all my sites work with Internet Explorer 7, I’ve changed the feeds from RSS 0.91 to RSS 1.0 (routing round an issue with the DTD in RSS 0.91). I’ve also reduced the number of items per feed to 15, to stay within the RSS 1.0 recommended limit.,, and now have links to their RSS feeds from their main New Reviews pages, as well as the RSS autodiscovery links that were already present.

Comments RSS Feeds

Following a suggestion from a visitor, I’ve added RSS feeds for all reviews on, and They’re dynamically generated using PHP, so I’m crossing my fingers that over 80,000 new RSS feeds don’t bring my server to its knees.

As a bit of insurance, I’ve padded the ID part of the URL out to a fixed width, to make converting the dynamic feeds to a static directory tree easier. That’s my backup plan if server load is a problem. Ultimately even that might not be enough, but I’m going to be optimistic and see what happens.

Whilst implementing this, I was pleasantly surprised to discover Feed Icons. It’s great that there’s a standard icon set to use for displaying feeds, which is free to use. The icons have been liberally sprinkled around my sites.

Kurt Kinetic Road Machine

Last week my latest fitness toy arrived – a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine

Basically it’s a trainer for my bike. It allows me to ride indoors when the weather is too horrid, or my muscles are too sore to make running pleasant.

I’ve fancied a trainer for quite a long time, but didn’t realise until recently that good quality trainers are not that expensive, and also fit mountain bikes (I ride a hardtail mountain bike with road tyres).

I did some research into the various trainers available, and came to the conclusion that I wanted something reasonably quiet, that felt at least vaguely similar to riding on a road. This seemed to rule out turbo trainers (too loud), and magnetic trainers (the resistance and feel are quite different from road riding). The heavily computerised trainers were also ruled out as being too expensive.

Looking at the fluid trainers, the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine seemed to have the most consistently good feedback, so I placed an order with the Planet X, who are the UK distributor. The kit I bought included a computer to attach to the handlebars and a spare tyre, and cost £196.50 including delivery. A CycleOps Climbing Block was also purchased from Wiggle, to lift the front wheel level with the back. Brief impressions below:

  • Firstly, the build quality is very impressive. I can’t see how you could possibly break this thing, and why they offer a lifetime warranty.
  • It’s supposed to be quiet, and I have heard people claiming to use them in flats. Well it’s not bad, but I certainly wouldn’t call it quiet, and wouldn’t want to live downstairs from someone using one. No problem in my garage though.
  • It feels pretty similar to riding on the road, except there’s no opportunity to rest, so ten miles on the trainer is noticeably tougher harder than riding on the road.

Eighteen miles is my longest ride so far, and the only downside I’ve found is that even riding in an unheated garage in November, I get very hot, very quickly. I don’t think I’ll be using the trainer in the summer, but then there’s no excuse for not getting out in the fresh air then.

To make things more interesting, also I picked up an Ipod nano from the Apple UK Refurbished Store. £65 delivered for a black 1st gen 2Gb nano was a very good price. To go with that, I bought an XtremeMac SportWrap from Amazon UK. I’m very impressed with both of them. Long rides seem to go much more quickly with podcasts and music as company.

Overall, I’m very happy with this set up, and would buy it again without hesitation.