Public transport and gadgets

Being a non-driver I use public transport to travel the 16 miles to and from work, as a result I was in need of something to help protect my Kindle and Nexus as the 60 to 90 minute journey absolutely requires the use of distractions.

Starting out

I constructed a sleeve from some think cardboard which performed the job but was getting rather worn and was only a temporary measure until a new solution could be found.
I did quite a bit of digging online to see what other people had used or if there were products in existence already, sadly the answer was not really helpful.

So I undertook the task of building my own, it took me some time but finally I managed to find a suitable container that had the dimensions to hold the 2 devices plus some additional space for padding.
The Sigg Aluminium Food Box Maxi was my final choice, note that there is a MAXI and MINI version of this “Lunch box” so if you are looking to do the same keep this in mind.

The next part was to purchase some padding I picked up some firm foam blocks for a reasonable price, in fact I think the postage cost more than the foam.

So there you have it a simple idea that took about 2 months to investigate and gather all the items together in preparation.
Below is the gallery of the construction, I used tape to test the fit of the padding and items, before gluing the foam directly to the box.

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So I guess the question to answer is does it work?

Well the following 2 images highlight the damage that has been handled by the box over the last few months, so I’d have to answer this question as “Yea, probably”.

Gaming Keyboard

For about 5 years was pretty happy with my Razer Tarantula keyboard (in fact in have had 2) but after the last failure I decided that I would move away from the Razer and try out something new.

The Gamer keyboard market is getting busier and there are numerous variations being released all the time. First I needed to decide on what features I wanted in my new keyboard.

  • Size – This is a rather big factor in my decision process as space is at a premium, ideally I wanted something smaller than the Tarantula (522mm)
  • I wanted something that looked like a gaming keyboard and not a office keyboard.
  • Volume controls & though not essential media keys if possible
  • Macros, not that I use them much any more but they are invaluable when required

I was looking a wide selection ranging from the Logitech to the Steel Series, of course I had many people telling me their preferences, much of which weren’t really what I was after.

Mechanical keyboards are a little too noisy for my liking, plus they often pick up on my headset deafening everyone else on Teamspeak.
Many keyboard now seem to be all about the gimmicks, how streamlines their appear is over competitors or what cool LEDS colours you can set the backlit keys.

The X4 is a gaming keyboard that is the successor to the X6, notable distinctions include:

  • Reduction in the number of macros available to 18
  • Anti-ghosting is included across the whole keyboard not just the WASD key cluster.
  • Compact yet wide enough design, meaning that the location of the keys feel natural and I wasn’t crammed into one little area.

I’m been using the SideWinder x4 for over 7 months  now and it’s been very solid, occasionally I have an issue with the volume buttons not functioning in Windows 7.

Summary

If you are all about the new shiny or the ultimate in gaming precision, then this really isn’t the Keyboard for you. Compared to the high-end products it’s plain and straight-forward and doesn’t try to be anything more than it needs to be. For a mid-core gamer like me it’s ideal. Once you get the software installed setting up the macros or remapping keys was straight forward and you can record macros on the fly also.
The macros are easily activated and the key strokes are comfortable so you don’t feel like you are fighting with the keys. The W key has 2 small spots on it that makes find your way back to WASD very straight forward.

There is a reminder that this keyboard is Microsoft product with the handy addition of a quick-launch calculator button, on a gaming keyboard I struggle to see the use, unless they are targeting EvE players. The good news is that you can remap it to something more useful like Teamspeak or Media Player.

Zotac GTX 560

Around Christmas time I had come into a little money and decided to upgrade from my Gainward GTX 260 1792MB GS to something newer. Despite being rather old my GTX 260’s only limitations were the lack of DX11 support and newer high-end games (Battlefield3 and Skyrim) needed to have the graphical distance reduced a little along with the quality. This wasn’t currently a big problems but I knew that with bigger games on the horizon the card was going to start suffering.

It had been sometime since I investigated graphic cards in any depth so I had a bit of investigation to learn about the newer card. I’ve been an Nvidia fan for some time now, but I didn’t immediately discard ATI/AMD cards but from the experience of friends and online reports about the drivers swayed me from AMD cards once more.

I never favour the high-end/bleeding edge cards, mostly as the cost is beyond what I’m comfortable paying and as with most things I like to purchase hardware that has been tried, tested, tweaked and offers the best in a category. The Zotac card was getting some good reviews and the differences between the 560 and the 570 were mainly in the price, with fractional differences in performance.

The first card I received was fine for the first 3 weeks but then I started seeing artefacts in Skyrim. I did the usual strip down of my machine and temperature checks and confirmed the problems was likely to be with the card. Swapping back to my original card verified this
I say that in all the year I have used online websites to purchase electronic items this was the first time I had ever needed to evoke a returns process. Thankfully the returns policy at Ebuyer is rather well documented and pretty easy to follow.

A replacement Card was dispatched within a week and my graphic returned to their previous DX11 glory.

ZOTAC GeForce® GTX 560 Ti 448 Cores – Limited Edition

Model : Model ZT-50313-10M
Interface : Interface PCI Express 2.0 x16 (Compatible with 1.1)
Chipset : Chipset Manufacturer NVIDIA®

GPU GeForce® GTX 560 Ti
Core clock 765 MHz
Stream Processors 448
Shader Clock 1530 MHz
Memory : Memory Clock 3800 MHz
Memory Size 1280 MB
Memory Interface 320-bit
Memory Type GDDR5
DirectX :  DirectX 11
OpenGL :  OpenGL 4.2
Ports : DVI 2 (DVI-I) / HDMI 1/ DisplayPort 1
RAMDAC : 400 MHz
Max Resolution : 2560 x 1600

New things

Well as I promised myself a new toy after i left work.
Well it arrived today my small yet practical eee pc from ASUS,

I've had a play around with it for the last few hours and here are my thoughts.

Now this isn't going to run call of duty 4 or any heavy software, but then it isn't meant too.

The product box is very small, it was quite exciting to open, there really isn't alot inside, the PC battery and power supply.

Now one element that I have always liked about the EEE is that the power pack is small, there's no large transformer that need to be hauled arund everywhere, infact it reminds me of phone chargers from a few years back.

The keyboard is small but not that back to be honest, takes a little while to adjust to using it but after the first couple of mistakes your find it naturally is easy  to use.

The screen size isn't super-wide or with vista style graphics, but it is big enough to display everything you need to interact with.
The built in wireless was quick to setup although I was slightly confused at first, things could have been a little clearer.

But in all I couldn't be happier with it and having a lightwight laptop to take with me is a better prospect that carting my other laptop about.

Well thats it for now, more to follow soon.

No iPhone thanks

Well it seems the iPhone is a big hit, after a month or so of continued hype, It came and went.

Yes it look impressive and is slick and stylish, but to me the whole item just screams accident waiting to happen.
OK so I'm not the carefulist of owners when I comes down to devices. It's safe to say that each of my phones i've purchase have encountered 'parking bruises' within the first week.

It generally tends to get worse from there.

For me to be interested in a brand new phone, it would need to be combined with a G-Shock and be heavy duty, something simple and easy to use, but that could with-stand being owned by me for a week.