Tag Archives: apple

Weight and Stuff Report – 22 June 2018

Weight:  176 pounds (12 stone 8 pounds, 79.8 kg)
Steps: 4,072

With no guarantee that these will revert to the former daily service, I thought it might be a good time to do this…

Following on from this morning’s report[1], I had my breakfast:

Frosties with added tinned peach slices and lots of milk, a yoghurt and some apple juice.

I then sat and rested for a couple of hours before hauling myself onto a bus and into Newcastle. This proved to be slightly hard work, as my digestive system, still getting used to actual eating, decided to hurt a bit if I did anything silly like standing up or walking. Sitting was fine, so I took frequent breaks.

I had my hair cut, bought some stamps and posted a letter (had to do that in the right order), then paid a cheque into the bank. With further pauses, I went to Marks and Spencer to buy some clothes (I have a slight trouser issue in that all my old ones are too loose to wear without potential embarrassment), then to Boots for some supplies (Gaviscon for my still settling digestive system). And then a walk back to the bus stop and home.

And when I got home, I was a wee bit weary, so I just grabbed an ice cream from the freezer and sat down for a couple of hours – too tired to even bother with the TV.

Once I’d rested, I got myself a nice large piece of honeydew melon and ate it, followed by two bags of Quavers.

Some time later, I put a cottage pie in the microwave and ate it (the cottage pie, not the microwave, I wasn’t that hungry) with a large glass of cream soda, and a little later I had a Mars bar and another glass of apple juice.

And now it’s an unusually late bed time.

[1] Yes, yes, this is really being posted on Saturday, but let’s go along with the usual fiction, shall we?

Home again

First, time for a weight report. On Wednesday 13 June, this was my weight:

Weight:  168.5 pounds (12 stone 0.5 pounds, 76.4 kg)

Which is lower than I’ve been since the 1980s, and frankly not a good look (bones sticking out all over).

Now after being rehydrated, remineralised and actually given real food, the figure is a slightly less disturbing:

Weight:  176.6 pounds (12 stone 8.6 pounds, 80.1 kg)

A gain of 8.1 pounds (3.6 kg). Now I never thought I’d be happy to report gaining that much weight in a week, but I’m also-bloody-lutely delighted!

Having successfully managed two meals on Tuesday, and breakfast on Wednesday, the hospital was quite keen to show me the door, subject to some blood results. Well, the results were good enough to let me go, and it was arranged. I had time for lunch (cottage pie with veg – soft, rather than a pureed lump, and some ice cream) and dinner (creamed chicken with potato and yes, more ice cream).

After a wait for my medication to be sorted out (I’ve been given some mineral supplements to take for the next few days, anti-sickness medication for when or if I need it, and pain killers[1] if I need those) and my discharge letter to be prepared, I was collected by Aaron, who took me home via Tesco’s so I could do some food shopping. I’ve got myself a good selection for breakfasts, lunches, main meals and snacks, so I can carry on eating, which seems like a good idea.

I had an early night, and slept reasonably well. It was nice sleeping in my own bed without the tube and the gently murmur of the feed pump.

When I got up this morning, I did two important things:

  1. Strip the bed – long overdue, I just haven’t had the energy to do it for a while
  2. Have my first espresso for a long time. This was just as good as I hoped, as was the second one!

I caught up with some paperwork, deleted a load of emails and then had a shave[2], a shower and some breakfast, which consisted of:

  1. 2 Weetabix with lots of milk and some sugar
  2. A Greek style (apparently) lemon flavour yoghurt
  3. Lovely mineral supplements
  4. Apple juice

And, err, that’s all there is to report for now.

[1] Including some industrial-strength stuff that I hope I won’t need, but it’s good to know is there
[2] Yes, actual shave, not just beard trim. Nice to be able to without the tube in the way

REM – Automatic for the People 25

This is the latest in that ever-popular long-running series known as “let’s make Les feel really old”. Yes, it’s a whole quarter of a century since REM released this magnificent album. I’d enjoyed their earlier work, particularly Fall on Me and Losing My Religion, but this took things to a new level, with some of their greatest songs, all beautifully arranged and produced to something approaching perfection. If later albums weren’t quite so powerful, so impressive, so bloody good, well, that scarcely matters, because not that many albums by anyone are quite as good as Automatic.

There’s bounciness and bonkersness[1] in Man on the Moon, retrospective wistfulness in Try Not to Breathe, and much, much more. It might be a bit of an obvious choice, but I have to single out Everybody Hurts as the album’s greatest moment. Dealing with sorrow, despair and more, but uplifting, hopeful, and quite honestly beautiful. The video always stuck in my mind – loads of people stuck in traffic, and we see their innermost thoughts a subtitles while the music and Michael’s voice offer light in their darkness. Glorious. One of those rare moments where popular music is more than the sum of its parts, and where I’m even tempted to dust off words such as “transcendent”. But don’t worry, I won’t make a habit of it.

The 25th anniversary edition is available in a variety of collectable editions at prices ranging from “not bad” to eye-watering. I used my Apple Music sub to get the equivalent of the thee-CD edition, which includes the remastered album, a live performance featuring most of the album plus earlier songs such as Losing My Religion, Fall on Me and Radio Free Europe, and a selection of demos and early versions of songs from the album, including Michael’s Organ, recognisable as Everybody Hurts.

The original album still stands as a wonderful piece of work, and the extras are well worth a listen or six.

[1] Yes it is a word, so there

Phone Upgrade Time (Not)

Well, it’s almost that time of the odd-numbered year when a sequence of events occurs:

  1. Apple announce shiny new iPhone models
  2. Les gets a new phone the day they’re released

Well, half of that is happening. Apple will indeed be announcing new iPhones next Tuesday (details the subject of the usual rumours, speculation and silliness), but I won’t be buying one.

It’s not that I’ve gone off the idea of having new toys so much as looking at ways of saving some money. The way mobile phones are generally sold in the UK is on a two year contract. You pay a small part of the hardware cost up front (ranging from nothing at all to £100 or more), then pay a monthly fee which covers the tariff you’ve chosen and another part of the cost of the phone. Now this is quite convenient, as you avoid paying loads of money in one go, but over the term of the contract, it can end up being very expensive indeed.

A couple of years ago, I got my latest upgrade from Three – iPhone 6S on an “all you can eat” data, minutes and texts plan, which included a 12GB tethering allowance. This had changed a few times since my previous contract, where there had been no limit on tethering, then went to a deal-breaking 2GB limit, being increased a few times to something more useful. All very nice, but the monthly cost was a little over £62, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but less so now.

So when I got the notification that I was due for an upgrade, and at the end of the minimum term of the contract, I had a bit of a think. And decided to switch to a SIM-only contract. Looking at the current deals, I found that Three had a 30GB package which allows the whole amount to be used as a hotspot should I be so inclined (I’ve never used that much in a month, so the “all you can eat”, or even the 100GB level seemed quite unnecessary). And all of this for £18 a month on a one-year contract – you can also get it on a monthly contract, but that costs more.

I decided to pop into the Three shop in Eldon Square rather than calling customer services, which turned out to be a good plan. I had to wait a few minutes for someone to be available, but then it was all no trouble at all. There was absolutely no attempt to sell me anything I didn’t want, whether a handset or a bigger package, and it was all sorted out quickly and easily.

So, the £44 I’m no longer spending would come to £1,056 over the two years I’d normally expect to keep a phone, which is quite a lot, really.

My cunning plan is to buy a suitable handset when I’ve done some financial rearrangements. No rush, though – I’m still happy with the 6S….

Fancy a nice cup of tea? Maybe not…

I was offered a cup of this “Turkish Apple Instant Tea” the other day:



Well, I tried it and found it was ever so slightly sweet. Well, so sweet that I couldn’t drink more than a few sips.

There’s a reason for that. Checking the ingredients shows sugar as the largest ingredient. And the nutrition information shows something around 94g of sugar per 100g.

So, when they say “instant tea”, they actually mean “sugar with a hint of tea extract”. You’d be better off buying some sugar and waving a tea bag over it….

Weight and Stuff Report – 23 May 2017

Weight: 240.2 pounds (17 stone 2.2 pounds, 109 kg)
Steps: 5,560

Hmmm, up again today. No major activity other than a visit to the Apple Store to get a free battery replacement in my iPhone (it was one of a batch with a potential ooops I’m going to shut down issue.

Here’s another one from Warkworth Castle: the Keep:

Warkworth Keep

Warkworth Keep

Camera: X-T2
Aperture: ƒ/8
Shutter speed: 1/180s
Focal length: 28.3mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 22 May, 2017
Location: 55° 20.7151′ 0″ N 1° 36.7225′ 0″ W

Apple AirPods

OK, the Amazon link on the left[1] is included for comedy reasons only. At the moment, these are in short supply, leading to naughty people on the Amazon Marketplace trying to charge nearly twice the actual price of the product.

But hey, I managed to buy mine in the Newcastle Apple Store a couple of weeks ago (they had three in stock at the time), so I’d suggest you try your nearest Apple Store, or just wait a while if you’re interested.

And I can already hear you asking why I got these. Surely those nice Bose wireless headphones are more than up to the job? Well, yes they are, and they’re still working nicely, thanks for asking, but sometimes it would be nice to have something a wee bit, you know, smaller, something easier to take off and put away, something that isn’t going to mess up your hair or get caught up if I raise my coat’s hood.

And so, when Apple announced these, I was intrigued. I waited until I’d seen some reports from people who’d actually used them before buying, as I’ve had poor experiences with in-ear phones before.

Anyway, to summarise what you probably already know:

These are wireless earbuds with an added twist of Apple cleverness. Rather than the usual pair of buds connected by a cable[2], these are two genuinely separate items. They come with a case that has a Lightning port for charging, and the case in turn charges the AirPods. There’s a single LED inside the case that does two things: with the AirPods in their sockets, it indicates their charge level – green for fully charged. Remove the buds and it’ll show the charge level of the case. A Lightning cable is included in the box, but no plug charger, presumably on the grounds that anyone who buys these probably doesn’t need another one.

Now getting Bluetooth devices to work with phones and computers is often a frustrating experience, he said politely. Well, it’s often an exercise in staring at your devices and pointing while shouting

It’s right next to you, what do you mean you can’t find it?

Devices arbitrarily lose all recollection of things they’ve been paired with and sometimes need to be removed, reconnected, wrapped in clingfilm, fed to a goat, extracted from its poop and recharged before they’ll work. I may be exaggerating a bit there, but not by much. So what have Apple done about that?

To pair with your iPhone, you hold the case next to it and open the lid. So long as you’ve updated to a suitably modern version of iOS, that’s it. AirPods are now able to play sound from your iPhone. And that would be quite clever enough, but there’s more. If your Mac is using the same iCloud account as your iPhone, it’s auto-bloody-matically able to use the AirPods as well. Just have them close enough and you’ll be able to select them as a device from the volume control in the menu bar.

There are no physical controls on the AirPods – no volume control, no play/pause/answer calls, but a tap will activate Siri, who will do things if you ask nicely. Personally, this isn’t an issue for me – the only control I ever used on the Bose headphones was the on/off switch, which isn’t needed here, as in a bout of extreme joined up thinking, the music stops as soon as you take one of the buds out of an ear, and it restarts when you replace it, making them ideal for any interaction with humans that you might find yourself obliged to engage in. If you have an Apple Watch, you’ll probably be used to controlling your music from your wrist, anyway, so you won’t miss the inline controller of Apple’s wired earbuds.

A common problem with earbuds (certainly for me) is that they’re often uncomfortable to wear (even the ones with numerous alternative rubber of foam tips), or have an annoying tendency to drop out. How do the AirPods cope?

Surprisingly well, as it happens. I’ve been wearing them on my journeys to and from work for the last couple of weeks, and I’m happy to say that they haven’t annoyed my ears at all. And, apart from on the first day I wore them, when I suspect I just hadn’t put them in quite right, they’ve stayed firmly in place, even when it’s been a bit windy and I’ve been walking around. I’ve heard reports from people who indulge in a strange activity called “running”[3] that even this doesn’t dislodge them, though as always, your ears may differ, insert disclaimer, etc.

But the main requirement is, of course, the sound. Well, overall, they’re not as loud as my Bose phones, but they’re as loud as I need my music to be consistent with still being able to hear traffic. The sound quality is clear and good enough for moving around – a test at home suggests that it’s actually very good when there’s no background noise to distract.

So, overall, I rather like them. There is the concern that these little things might be a bit easy to lose, of course. Apple will replace a single AirPod for less than half the price of a new set, or so I understand – though I’d suggest not losing any until the stock situation settles down.

Hmm, that’s my longest post for ages. Who’d have thought I’d manage over 900 words on a pair of earbuds?

[1] Assuming your ad blocker isn’t hiding it
[2] I had a pair like that, they just wouldn’t stay in my ears
[3] I wouldn’t know…

Weight and Stuff Report – 14 January 2017

Down again today, woo, hoo. Only a load more to go…

If you’re reading this on the actual site rather than looking at the preview on Facebook, you’ll see I’m quoting two different step counts. One comes from the Withings app (the larger one) and the other from Apple’s own Health app, which likes to chat to my Apple Watch. I’ve no idea which is more accurate…

I persuaded myself that I really should go out for a bit today, even though it was a wee bit chilly. After the usual bout of dithering, I went to Tynemouth for a quick look around, where I spotted this arriving:



Camera: X-T2
Aperture: ƒ/7.1
Shutter speed: 1/1400s
Focal length: 55mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 14 January, 2017

Shame I hadn’t arrived a bit earlier, to get a better view, really. But I did get another shot after it had moved up the Tyne a bit:



Camera: X-T2
Aperture: ƒ/5
Shutter speed: 1/1400s
Focal length: 140mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 14 January, 2017



I’ve had my Virgin Media TiVo box for longer than I realised – over four and a half years, which is quite a long time for a thing with a hard disk that does a lot of large writes. Lately, I’d noticed occasional problems which made me wonder if the disk was beginning to suffer – it would randomly pause on playback, or there would be brief burst of odd digital blockiness. But as these were intermittent and infrequent, I just mentally filed them as something to think about later.

Then on Tuesday night, there was an overnight power cut. The TiVo has survived plenty of these in the past without any problem, but this must have been just enough to send it over the  edge. As it happened, I didn’t switch it on at all on Wednesday (wine club after work), but when I got home on Thursday, I noticed something odd. The TiVo doesn’t have much of a display – just a couple of rows of LEDs, which indicate things like “having a signal”, “being switched on” and “recording”. I’d never seen anything other than red or green lights, so I was a little surprised to see a blue one. I didn’t even know it had any…

So I switched it on and was greeted by this:

It's dead, Jim

It’s dead, Jim

Oh. I left it to reboot itself. Again. And again. At this point, I decided I wanted to watch some things, and used the built-in on demand services on my TV. Which worked nicely.

I left the TiVo to talk to itself overnight, and as it was doing the same thing on Friday morning, I did a bit of research and found that this display means pretty much what I suspected: the hard disk is an ex-hard disk. This means I’ve lost my recordings (not a major problem, as the only unwatched stuff can mostly be found in iPlayer and other such things) and my recording set up (numerous things set to record whenever they appear). Recreating that for current shows will be easy, and I’ll have to keep an eye on the listings for the rest.

Reading on the forums suggested that Virgin often just send out a replacement box rather than sending out a technician. I’d have been fine with that, but it would probably have left me TiVoless for a few days. So, I called the customer support number, where the automated wossnames took me though various steps before passing me to a human (their automated thingy is now actually pretty good, and can do useful things like checking your kit remotely). The human asked me to do the traditional business of turning the power off and on again, which made no difference, as I expected. He then said that the best thing would be to send someone out, which suited me fine. The first available time would be Saturday (that’s today, the day after placing the call) between 8am and 12 noon, and would that be OK? Well, that was ideal.

And the Virgin Media man arrived nice and early, only it seems he wasn’t given a proper report of the fault, so he had to go away again to pick up a replacement TiVo. He found one of his colleagues in the area rather than going back to base.

He then removed the old TiVo, hooked up the new one (the box looks identical other than having a Samsung[1] badge on it rather than a Cisco one), and did the setting up bit (basically, allocating the new box to my account, and letting it update itself. Everything worked the first time, and he was gone by just after 9:30.

I’ve set all current programmes to record, and I’ll just have to watch the TV listings for the rest. And I spent a few hours today watching the things I’d recorded on the old box using iPlayer and other services. The TiVo is good for that, as if you find a programme in the guide, or search for it, it helpfully offers a link to episodes available on catch up.

So, job done, problem solved, satisfied customer.

[1] This means that my AV setup – TV, soundbar, Blu-Ray player and TiVo are all Samsung. The only exception is the Apple TV. Oh, and the clever remote control thingy…

Weight and Stuff Report – 7 November 2015

An insignificant rise today…

As the end of my week off has arrived, I was hoping to get out somewhere today, but as it was a wee bit damp this morning[1], I wasn’t too sure about what I’d manage to do. But just after 9:30 the decision was made for me by the arrival of an email and about a second later, a phone call. Both were from the Apple Store telling me that my iMac was ready for collection, having had its new 3TB disk fitted.

I decided to go to the MetroCentre first and actually did some shopping this time[2] before going to Newcastle where the rain had actually taken a break, so I was able to collect my iMac and get the bus home (if it had been raining, I’d have called a taxi). Got it home and connected it up, and ran into a slight issue – being a fresh install of OS X, it didn’t know about my new keyboard and trackpad, so I had to drag out the old USB keyboard and mouse. Once that was working, it asked me if I wanted to restore from a Time Machine backup (which I did), so I told it which disk to use. It then had a good look, and worked out how much work it had to do (it didn’t quite scream “how much?!?”), then let me click the continue button.

As watching that kind of thing is a bit boring, I popped out again for some more shopping (my coffee supply was getting low), and then came back home. The iMac is still restoring with one of those ever-changing time estimates. It will be nice to get back to a full-sized screen…

Today’s photo is another one from my South Shields walk. I spotted this bird[3] struggling with what I guessed at the time was an eel[4]. It kept disappearing under the water. I’m not entirely sure who won…



Camera: X-T1
Aperture: ƒ/10
Shutter speed: 1/500s
Focal length: 135mm
ISO: 5000
Taken: 5 November, 2015

[1] Note: possible use of understatement
[2] Makes a change…
[3] Ornithological updates welcome
[4] And a close version of the photo suggests that it is just that