And all that Malarkey

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This Englishman’s top five country music albums of 2015

Let me start this list of my top five country music albums of 2015 with a confession. Although country’s been by far my most listened to genre again this year, I haven’t listened to it as much as I have the past few years. In the latter part of the year, I’ve taken several musical diversions. The last one’s been Electric Light Orchestra, a band that I’ve loved since my teens. But, with the possible exception of their Wild West Hero, they couldn’t be further from county.


I’m not a one man QA department so I sometimes miss minor implementation issues, even on my own sites. Just this week, despite having looked at the Stuff and Nonsense redesign for countless hours, I still kept finding small alignment and padding problems, especially on my iPhone and iPad where those issues are magnified.

Hammer time

Summary: If you use OSX and write HTML, screw the trial version. Buy Hammer. You’ll earn back what you spent on it during the first hour you use it.

Reviewing the Hard Graft Phone Fold Wallet Plus

For about the last five years, my wallet’s been a big Lakeland travel wallet. It was designed to carry a passport and boarding cards, not for everyday use, but I used it everyday. It was big enough to hold all my stuff; credit cards, plenty of cash and the pile of train tickets and receipts that I collect when I’m out and about. When I say it was big, I mean big. I couldn’t mistake when I had it in my pocket and I could easily dig into my bag to find it in my bag without looking. I loved it and was very upset when it was lost.

Review: Pocket Boom Portable Vibration Speaker

There’s barely a day at home when I don’t have music playing. Either (mostly) through an old (but good) set of Creative Labs speakers I connected to my iMac or (sometimes) through my Sony separates and a pair of fabulous B&W speakers on stands. When I’m on a plane or a train it’s a pair of Klipsch s4i in-ear headphones.

But there are plenty of times when I’m traveling and staying in hotel rooms or rented apartments for a week or two at a time when I don’t want to listen through headphones. I don’t mean cranking it up for partying, just a little ambience. The speakers on my Macbook Air are acceptable, but I still carry my whole music collection on a fat old iPod Classic as my library’s bigger than my Air’s hard-drive and I don’t (yet) use iTunes Match.

(If I ran rented rooms, I’d make sure that every one came with an iPod/iPhone speaker dock. (Come on hotel owners, they’re not expensive.) That leaves me with using portable external speakers of some sort or another.)

For the last couple of years I’ve carried a little X-mini capsule speaker on longer trips. It’s small, light and OK, it’s never going to tick all the volume/quality boxes, but it makes a reasonable sound when my music doesn’t contain a lot of bass.

Funnily enough, I’ve noticed that if I plonk the X-mini on a large, flat surface like a table, the sound improves. I’m no audiophile, so I guess it has to do with vibrations or something. That’s why, just before leaving for Australia on this six week trip, staying in rented apartments, I was interested in an offer from to test a travel speaker designed to use vibrations in just that way — a Pocket Boom Portable Vibration Speaker.

Mantis Stand for iPad and iPad 2

Mantis Stand for iPad and iPad 2
Mantis Stand for iPad and iPad 2

“What have you bought this time?” she asked, handing me the heavy box that the courier had just handed her. I’m sure I looked surprised because, for once, I hadn’t ordered anything.

Saturday review: CodeKit

I’ve become a bit of a LESS junkie these last few months, so I was chuffed when I heard about CodeKit — a new, (free while in beta) toolkit — by developer Bryan Jones. I’ve been trying CodeKit out this week.

Everything You Know About CSS Is Wrong (book review)

One of the questions that I get asked quite frequently is until CSS3 moves forward, is there anything new we can say, or write, about CSS?. That's a good question. Not as good perhaps as Why does Gordon Brown do that funny thing with his mouth? or Would Eddie Izzard make a good Doctor Who?, but quite a good question none-the-less.

Pens Are My Friends (book review)

It's lovely to come home and find something nice waiting for you, isn't it? A nice cup of freshly brewed tea is lovely (nicer with biscuits, but not so common). So is a nice piece of ginger cake with lemon icing. A smiley lady is nice too. I got all three today (which was lovely), but what made it lovelier was a copy of Jon Burgerman's retrospective book of his illustrations, Pens Are My Friends.

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