De-Icing with Warm Water

A frozen windscreen

When I tell most people that I don’t scrape my windscreen, I pour warm water on it, they look at me aghast. The old adage about it cracking screens is frequently mentioned. I’d like to set that straight.

I’ve used warm water on all of my cars, every winter for the better part of 20 years. Not once has it caused a screen to crack, not once has it caused a chip to expand.

I think this is a leftover from the days when windscreens were made solely of glass. In modern cars (any made in the last 20 years) they’re a composite, with layers of plastic and glass. It’s the plastic that stops the thing shattering (which I’ve seen an old screen do), and the mixture makes them much tougher.

There are some caveats, of course, I would recommend that you DON’T USE BOILING WATER. I think your screen could take it, but you don’t need it. I use water from the hot tap, which is more like 40 degrees (Celsius). Continue reading


Safety Razor Costs

I touched on this briefly in my previous post, but I thought I would break it out into more detail. One of the reasons safety razors are gaining in popularity is cost. As Mike Levine from Dollar Shave Club says in his video: “Do you like spending $20 a month on brand name razors? $19 go to Roger Federer.”

Using a cartridge shaving system, even a middle-of-the-road one, probably cost me £20-26 a year, plus £5 if I was to buy the razor. Not exactly a massive amount, but then I probably only bought 8-12 cartridges a year, plus a couple of cans of gel. I managed this, in part, because I used my cartridges well beyond the recommended length.

Those prices are derived from my local supermarket’s website. They don’t have a safety razor listed, but let’s call that £5. They have a 10-pack of Personna blades for £1.89, a shaving brush for £3.20 and a shave stick for 49p. So the blades and soap come in way under the equivalent cartridge costs, even if you add the brush it’s still cheaper. Continue reading

My Safety Razor Experience

A while back, I wrote about Wet Shave Economics, the costs of wet shaving. I’ve been interested in trying a safety razor for a while, so stuck it on my wishlist for Christmas, and Santa delivered. I haven’t been using my razor very long, but I thought I would throw down my initial impressions and experience.

The Equipment

I was a very lucky boy, and Father Christmas furnished me with:

  • An Edwin Jagger DE89L razor
  • A dish of Mitchell’s Wool Fat Shaving Soap
  • An Edwin Jagger Best Badger brush
  • A pack of Derby Extra blades
  • A pack of Feather blades
  • A brush and razor stand
  • An Osma block of Alum

As I said, I was very lucky.

The Costs

As with everything, you can spend as much or as little as you want. I was lucky to receive some top-quality items, but you could buy everything you need for under £20. Equally, you could spend £100 on a brush alone (or more), £20 (or more) on single shaving soap and that’s before the pre-shave treatments, the post-shave balms and colognes, or any other nice-to-have equipment.

On the other hand, you can pick up something like a Wilkinson Sword Classic for under £5 (with blades), a brush for under £10 and a shaving stick for as little as 49 pence (that’s what my Palmolive Shave Stick cost me in my local supermarket). Continue reading

Why So Silent?

I’ve been a bit quiet lately, not because I haven’t had thoughts on the current events (Syria, anyone? What exactly does the United Nations do?) but because I can only write so many words and I’ve chosen to write them elsewhere. To be more precise, I’ve been writing fiction.

With the rise of self-publishing, I finally got myself in gear and tried to put some of the things I’ve been thinking about down on paper (or rather pixels), and then getting them into a state where I was willing to send them out into the world.

Having read a lot of information on those who had been successful publishing their own work, I first started with a novel in a popular genre: thriller.

I haven’t finished rewriting that yet (still on the first draft), but I also read a post by Joe Konrath about writing short stories because they can be used in multiple ways to ‘better monetize your intellectual property.’ Having just written something that was 70,000 words, I figured I could bash out five stories of 5,000 words each in fairly short order.

Well the shortest ended up at 8,500 words, and the longest is over 20,000. I’d finished all five by October 2012 and I’ve been rewriting them ever since. The first one was released in May this year. It’s called Riders of the Wind. I have three out to date, with another hopefully in September. You can find all of them on my author website or my Amazon author page.

Still plenty more to do, but I will get back to writing here more often as well, so the world can ignore my views on it once again.

Amazon ♥ Indies

Amazon (US) have opened a store for Mac and PC games from independent developers. The Indie Games storefront spotlights games from independent developers, as well as offering special deals and information on game development.

I’m not really a gamer, I’ve played a few in my time but I’d barely register as a casual gamer, and I always preferred my PC to a console. As such I don’t know what you’d class as an indie game, or if there was an issue with ‘discoverability’ before (a lot of indie developers seem to think there was).

Like most of us, I’ve seen the headline grabbing grand standing of the latest Halo launch and the cultural infiltration of Angry Birds. The fact that so many hits have come from Facebook, mobile platforms and the web suggested the little guys had finally found a way to market, or at least reduced the cost of development. The problem is, they’re typically for mobile platforms, which isn’t where hardcore gamers are.

So my guess is that Amazon’s play here is to follow its success in self-published ebooks, only with a bit more curation (looks like you have to qualify as an indie first). It’s obvious that there’s plenty of money to be made by independent games, and now Amazon wants to be the place to find them, again cutting out publishers/studios.

What’s interesting is it seems to be limited to Mac and PC games, though they already offer games for their Kindle tablets via the Amazon Appstore for Android. While mobile platforms seem to grab the headlines, the market for consoles is still vast, and with updates to the two big names due later this year, they’ll be around for a while to come yet. Continue reading

What Now for Hardware Vendors?

PC sales are down, way down, and falling. At least, typical PC sales (I tend to agree with the view that tablets can be classed as PCs) and, while I doubt we’ll ever see the end of desktop computing, that market is going to continue to shrink. For now, tablets may fill the void, but they’ll give way to smartphone all-in-one devices at some point.

This drop in sales isn’t news to most people, but I was surprised to find that it’s not just desktops and laptops, server sales are in decline as well. You’d think that with the rise of web and cloud services, along with the general return to client-server style architecture, they’d be on the up.

The problem is that, while everyone used to buy their own servers, one for each job/role, over-buying on the specs to ensure future-proofing, perhaps even buying a backup device, more and more people are opting for virtualisation (it’s estimated that by 2014 as much as 70% of new servers could be virtual). That means fewer boxes as the resources of one machine can be used to serve multiple tasks.

Added to this is the fact that the big boys (Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc) are building their own hardware, and allow people to buy those services as and when they need it, rather than having hardware sitting idle for most of its life.

It’s not just about better utilisation though, we’ve reached the point where we have more than enough computing power to do the majority of tasks. In fact, as far as desktop PCs are concerned, we probably reached that point several years ago. That’s part of the reason for the growth in tablets: the relatively little processing power they possess is more than capable. Continue reading

War on Cyclists

It was this time last year that I wrote about how cyclists got on my nerves (sometimes), but that it wasn’t really their fault. So this BBC headline naturally grabbed my attention: Why the war between motorists and cyclists?

Whether you cycle or not, this quote should raise your temper:

Toby Hockley was on the 100-mile Boudicca Sportive ride in Norfolk when he says he was struck by a car and flung into a hedge. The driver didn’t stop. Hockley emerged from the hedge, sore but intact.

It sounds like a run-of-the-mill depressing incident from the UK’s roads. But the shocking part came later.

A young woman tweeted: “Definitely knocked a cyclist off his bike earlier. I have right of way – he doesn’t even pay road tax! #Bloodycyclists.”

Continue reading