So that was 2015 then…


That went quickly didn’t it?

I suppose I had better do the annual new-year wrap-up of the goings-on at Low Fidelity Towers over the past twelve months. Not that it’ll take that long this year, and it’s almost all on a single theme!

And that theme is… computers. 2015 saw me sell my iMac that I’ve had for the last five years, and replace it with a Mac Mini. I opted for the last-gen 2012 model rather than the brand new one, because of the advantage of user-replaceable parts, intending to pimp it out with some new components when I got the chance. Needless to say, it didn’t take long.

The month after the Mac Mini arrived, I took the plunge back into the world of the PC, building myself a very nice machine with a kick-ass graphics card, and promptly got back into the PC gaming scene. My PC component list is still available on PCPartPicker if you’re interested.

And just a few weeks on from the grand PC build, I’d got the Mac Mini in pieces and was upgrading that. I maxed out the RAM, and replaced the single 500GB hard drive with a 500GB SSD and 1TB WD Red drive, which I then turned into a Fusion Drive through the power of the command line. It was already a nice little media machine, but now it’s awesome and hand-in-hand with an external bluray drive, my NAS, Plex and Sonos, my whole house media needs are well met.

Of course, the other “big” tech arrival was the Wileyfox Storm smartphone, which has proved to be a really great handset for the money and I’m very happy with it. I might write a proper review when I get the chance, but suffice to say it’s definitely worth the fairly meagre asking price.

Other gadget arrivals were limited to replacing one Olympus camera with another, adding another Sonos Play:1 to the existing system and getting a 40″ TV to replace the aging 32″ in the lounge.

All in all, not too bad. Bring on 2016.

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Unboxing the Wileyfox Storm

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A while back, I became aware of a pair of new Android phones coming to market from a British startup called Wileyfox. They were offering two phones, the Swift and the Storm. The idea seemed to be along the same … Continue reading

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Conyngham Autumn

A photo posted by Laceybloke (@lacey.bloke) on

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Anker Astro E5 battery pack review

ankerastroe5cropThis is my second Anker external battery pack, having previously purchased a 12800mAh Astro 3 about 18 months ago. It has seen a lot of use since then (in the car, whilst camping, business trips etc), so when Anker offered me this new Astro E5 to review I jumped at the chance.

This has even more capacity than my previous battery pack, which in itself was pretty capacious. When I got it, I let it charge up overnight and then took it to work and told all my colleagues in the office to use it if their phones needed a charge during the day. It’s now four days later, and six of us have topped up the charge on our smartphones (Android and iOS) several times and the Astro 3 still isn’t empty!

Anker’s claim that it can fully charge a typical smartphone from empty six times seems perfectly believable on this evidence.

There have been some minor but pleasing improvements on the packaging front too. The box now looks a lot more classy, whilst retaining the all-cardboard construction that’s both easy to open and easy to recycle. I like the new mesh carry bag that the Astro comes with too. It seems a bit more robust and practical than the cloth one that I got with my earlier battery.

The four LEDs on the case are a good indicator of how much charge remains in the pack, and I like it better than the “dial” lights that previous incarnations have used. Also, these lights don’t accidentally switch on every time you touch the battery pack which they do on my other version.

Downsides? There’s only two USB outputs (my other unit has three) and the plastic finish isn’t quite as nice in the hand as the rubberised one on the Astro 3, but these are very minor nitpicks.

All in all, this is a really nice unit. Rock solid build, compact size and really massive capacity. Impressive.

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I spent a couple of weeks camping in Devon, and while I was there I had a kitesurfing lesson. I also thought that this would be a fine way to test out the GoPro Hero that I got for Fathers’ Day, so it duly got a very thorough dunking in the Atlantic Ocean (along with its wearer).

Obviously I had to put it on YouTube, just to prove that I’d done it. The editing is a bit of a botch, but you’ll get the idea…

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