Here I am in Coast cycles – it’s boss.

this is Dave - watch him.

this is Dave – watch him.

Motorbike scalls

This morning, Sarah and I were walking Doogle. We were just turning off Ullet Road heading down towards Sefton Park cricket club through a little cut-through when two scalls came haring up behind us on a monkey bike. They had just a moment to aim a well practised “Fuck yeah, I’m riding an unlicensed motorbike, what the FUCK are you gonna do about it?” Stare at us before the (really rather pathetically small, 50cc) bike wobbled a bit and stalled. Literally right next to us. Talk about your awkward moment. Doogle is scared stiff of engine noise and the two scalls had made it quite clear that we were “the man” and they were the cool, rebellious ones. They were looking at us with hate in their eyes… We weren’t going to move forward as we were trapped in a narrow passage and if they got it started then they’d clearly come screaming up behind us and not be able to get past.
They kicked and kicked at the poor little starter and it became obvious that they’d flooded the engine – they swore at the bike and at each other, whilst desperately ignoring our eyes.
“We’ll just wait here until you’ve got it started” Sarah called across, “Doogle here’s scared of engine noises you see”.
The pillion rider looked across at us and the hoodlum just disappeared out of his eyes. He became what he was – an awkward 14-17 year old boy who could not communicate with the adults.
“I think you might’ve flooded it mate – try not to twist the throttle while you’re kick-starting it” I ventured.
They mumbled to each other and we walked on, biting our lips.

Well worth the wait

The first thing I did when I knew I was getting an iPad was order the Miniot cover for it. I’d seen photos and knew that clever though the smart cover was, it lacked the sheer class of this thing…

Classy cover

However, it seems I wasn’t alone, and the sheer level of orders swamped the small Dutch company, to the effect that despite ordering via their eBay shop and paying them I got no confirmation, no shipping date, nothing for 3-4 days – by which time I was getting bothered.
I shouldn’t have. The small team battled production delays and their groaning order book by putting together an “in progress” page, showing where they were up to with orders (, kept me up to date with regular emails, but most importantly, shipped a pretty fabulous product…
It just arrived and I have to say I’m about as impressed as I could be with some strips of wood glued to a piece of velvety cloth with magnets in…
With the cover on my iPad now seems complete… The profile of the cover is such a perfect match for the device.

Sits comfortably, doesn't it?

Miniot offered a free engraving option with all early orders, and well, I had to get something on there… Once I’d sent it off, I worried that the quality of the engraving might ruin the finish of the cover (or that the engraver might have trouble interpreting the bitmap I sent)

Carving a lovely job - shame about the image

Not having fitted a cover to the iPad before, I struggled at first seeing how to put it together, whilst it does attach any which way, there’s a right way and a wrong way when it comes to using it as a stand…

That's a good angle

the “one way upness” suggested by the design of the cover comes in handy here as the left side of the cover attaches to the “left side” of the iPad (ie With the device held portrait with the home button at the bottom). The groove in the cover holding the device surprisingly snugly.

It seems to stand very vertically

The “picture frame” orientation of the stand seems to hold the iPad pretty close to the vertical (although not as bad as the crummy perspective in my photo suggests) – time will tell I suppose, but I was a little worried by it.

My only real concern With the cover is what to do with it when you’re using the iPad… The packaging shows that you can attach it to the rear of the device…. Which you can… Sort of the only problem is that this activates the device’s “wake on cover removed” feature, which is clearly magnetic, not light related as I’d first thought. I don’t know at this point if this is a problem fir the Apple smart cover too, if not, then it’s the only advantage the smart cover has over this, otherwise lovely piece of kit.


Here we go

I bet Baggs the brand is happy

Hot off the presses it’s the 2011 apprentice candidates group shot.

The rules are different this year, supposedly meaning that more genuine business types are in the mix, rather than the vapid gawps which have filled the show more recently…

Which makes predicting it a bit more interesting… My first thoughts are listed on the group-shot. Normal rules apply (I’ve not read any blurb, don’t know the candidate’s names etc, my guesses are purely based on first sight of this picture.

Comments welcome or download a PSD template ( and link to your own predictions from the comments below.

The apprentice starts Tuesday, May 10 at 9pm on BBC1, with the next episode shown the following evening.

How the funky have fallen

I’ve pretty much always been a tech magpie. I was explaining to my son’s girlfriend who was aghast at how much apple detritus there is in our house (it’s actually pretty appalling) that I get an almost physical ache when something new exists and I don’t have one.

Nowadays that ache is almost totally fixated on products bearing the apple logo – which is pretty sad – I know that friends and family chiefly identify me nowadays as an apple zealot; to the extent that when my own father was putting together a touching Christmas present last year (he found slate from the old family slate mine and had it carved into monograms for all the family) my monogram consisted of my name with the apple logo for an ‘o’…

It wasn’t always so… I am the original “iPhone halo effect” man. Whilst I had secretly always admired Cupertino’s products, I’d also considered them – well, just too damned expensive.

Back in the day one of my most prized possessions was a Palm 3 organiser – not a “palm pilot”, this came a bit later than that, it had a new version of the Palm OS, more memory and a sleek new corporate look. It marked a brave jump for Palm – they were riding high on a wave of admiration for their products, they had a bright Californian glow like you get from the best young tech companies (think twitter). They’d broken away from the corporate shackles of 3com and were making their own way confidently in the world.

The device itself was a bit rubbish – PDAs all were if we’re going to be honest. What it did it did exceptionally well however – you could write on it (sortof), it synced effortlessly with Outlook (no mean feat), you could play solitaire on it – fairly cool. It also made a pair of AAA duracells last two weeks…

It was focussed on a single job and it did it with flair and panache – in a way other, supposedly “better” products like the Compaq iPaq (how did they get away with that name?) never did.

Palm never really seemed to match that product for me though – they had the VX which was basically the same device in a beautiful shiny case – but at the time that was like an “apple product” for me – unattainable. With each new release I watched Palm as they rode the tribulations of tech’s backwaters, hoping for another WOW product that would tempt me back…

And they nearly did it didn’t they? The Palm Pre was hyped more than the iPhone in the US in the run up to both devices’ launch. The OS sounded great frankly, slicker and more intuitive than iOS. Whilst I had been punching “apple phone” into rumour sites for two years, I was almost as excited by the Pre – which DID exist…

But somehow Palm fluffed it – I don’t know what happened (it happened in the US and the fight was all over by the time it got to us) Either they launched too late or didn’t strike the right deal with a carrier or… Well, the Pre just got lost in all the iPhone chatter. It got lost to me, who would have loved to champion it – Like I said I wasn’t at the time the raving fanboy I am now.

The Pre didn’t flop exactly, it just sort of “Zuned”. It was a perfectly competent device overshadowed by apple to the point of irrelevance. A real shame, because it wasn’t a Zune: Palm didn’t shamelessly ape the iPhone, they had a worthy competitor FIRST.

I carried on watching as Palm inevitably got swallowed by another corporate master; HP this time, and I thought optimistically that – well, actually HP might be one of the few companies who could make Palm work – if they threw serious dollar behind it while keeping the brand fresh and alternative.

So we come to this morning when I received this tweet:


Oh dear. How very unPalm. Palm wouldn’t have resorted to spamming my inbox in a desperate attempt to get me to look at a 3 year old product. Palm would have gone away and created something brilliant which would have attracted my magpie eyes.

So no, palm_scout I’m not following your link. I have thought about the Palm Pre – for about a year (3 years ago) it held me enthralled as a possible return to form for a company I related to. Unfortunately when I think Palm Pre nowadays I just think “what a shame”. And your twitter-spam just reinforces that.



This started as a tweet, but I ran out of characters. It’s a blog post now. I’m writing it in bed on my phone, whilst reading Jonathan Franzen’s “the Corrections” and listening to Bruce Springsteen’s “darkness on the edge of town”. Nothing particularly unusual about any of that except that when I went to bed I had nothing to read and was bored of my current tunes – now I have one of the books of the year and am listening to the album described in the documentary I just watched – 3 months ago this would have been very difficult. 3 years ago it would’ve been impossible.

I’m utterly spoiled. I haven’t got a huge laptop weighing me down, heating up my legs and lighting up my room – I’m doing all this on my “phone”. And not in a geeky way either (I’ve done geeky – I used to read eBooks on a palm pilot while listening to an iPod) – this is the most normal thing imaginable by comparison…

Tonight this cost me money (well, the book did, the boss is courtesy of Spotify) – but earlier on I signed up to “overdrive” – a service offered by my (and probably your) library – I can browse their catalog (of eBooks, audio, video and audiobooks) and download it directly to my phone to read/watch/listen to for free (once my library card arrives).

I’m not writing a paean of praise to my iPhone – pretty much any smartphone will let you do this stuff (I could of course be watching a movie if I wanted) – no, it’s the delivery mechanism which stopped me dead – it was completely natural and normal for me to quickly browse, buy and consume the content I wanted. More weird, it didn’t seem at all “amazing” or “modern” until I stopped to realise what I’d just done – I’m a keen book reader and listen to roughly 3-4 hours of music a day, yet I haven’t been in a record shop or bookstore in YEARS.

More noticeable probably is that I haven’t been to a book or music website (I mean amazon or in ages either…

The future appears to have happened in my pocket without my realising.

Apprentice Week 2 “Beach Product”

I couldn’t help redesigning the “book eezee” or whatever the hell it was Joanna was so keen on in my head as it was presented – why on earth didn’t they use tent poles? or a three legged aluminium tripod joined at the top with a simple key-ring type split ring and with fabric panels attached to stack your book in.
Joanna was presented by the other girls as having “railroaded” them into this choice – which was a bit unfair – she’s the only one who actually came up with anything – the problem is by the time they’d agreed to it, there was only 10 minutes left to design it…

there you go Lord Sugar / Boots - you can have that one for free

We lost Raleigh to a family crisis – unfortunately – as he’d only had a chance to show himself to be a “thoroughly nice bloke”, rather than the cock I truly knew him to be – I’m having difficulty establishing exactly who (if any of the blokes) will take on the “cock” mantle – if anybody deserves it it seems to be Stella, token bloke this week, who out-manned the lot of ‘em.
Joy was fired – truly deservedly – she did bugger all.

Apprentice week 1: Bangers

click for full size

Well, what a bunch of tw*ts we have to rail against for the next 12 weeks! – You’ve got to admire the wannabe apprentices – it take some balls to stick such obvious character flaws out there for the world to mock.

Top tw*t this week was the deservedly fired Dan – a shouty, sweaty, salesy cock of the first order. You knew as soon as he declared, slamming his fist on the table “I’ll do it!” [be PM] that you were in for a treat and that he’d be packing his bag by the end of the show. Unlike big, stupid, stroppy baby Stuart “The Brand” Baggs – I reckon I’ve got him pegged. Unlike my token northerner Jamie Lester who turned out to be just another shouty southern sh*te.

Another failure from my first impressions was Apollo (please! Apollo? – “it was the first mission to get to the moon”) team leader Joanna Riley who seemed warm, inclusive and a pretty damned impressive manager – (although that may just have been because she was sober)

Bang on the money though is Christopher Farrell – who, it turns out IS ex military (I can always spot a squaddie – it’s the blank staring eyes) – Royal Marines no less (gotta love that) he’s also a scouser, but lets himself down by listing his home town as “Cheshire”… hmmm: isn’t map reading a requirement in the Marines Chris?

The Apprentice starts next Wednesday


it's too easy this year ;-)

In the great tradition of apprentice launches (well, the past 3 years anyway) I eagerly downloaded the press photo of the apprentices posed in all their glory.
I play a little game with myself where I try to guess the personalities before watching – my thoughts on this years’ crop are available here
Have you got a copy of Photoshop? – Have a go yourself with my handy downloadable template available here