Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Getting a water softener

I’ve wanted a water softener for many years and in the video above, I finally take the plunge!

In case you don’t know, there’s a very good chance that you live in a hard water area. I certainly do. In actual fact, even if you don’t live in a hard water area, your water is likely to have some element of hardness to it. Even if your water is deemed “soft” by your water supplier.

Installing a water softener will make your water completely soft, i.e. as close to 0% hardness as it’s possible to get. This means that your white goods (such as your dishwasher and washing machine) will probably last longer. You won’t have to use so many chemicals when washing your hair or your clothes and can even do away with some additives altogether (such as the salt in your dishwasher).

In the video, I talk about the challenges I had in installing a water softener as I needed to move my stop cock and that wasn’t going to be an easy task to accomplish. 

I hope you enjoy the video. I’ll try to answer any questions raised over on my YouTube channel so feel free to ask anything if you have any queries. I’m no expert, but I’ll help if I can.

By the way, I’ve uploaded a few videos to YouTube recently and haven’t added them all to my blog – I’ll catch up on these pages as soon as can! Note to self – write blog more often. 🙄

A demo of my sit/stand desk

Regular readers (who are they?) will be aware that I have a desk that enables me to raise or lower it so I can use it in a traditional sitting or a standing position. This kind of thing is ideal for an accompanying video, so here it is!

I’ll be making a more detailed video about my desk at some point in the future. I’ll be talking in that about why I went for the solution demonstrated here and will mention other products that are on the market.

In the meantime, if you want to read my original blog post from July 2014 about why I decided to buy a sit/stand desk, you can do that here. You can also read about why I chose this desk here, although as that article was written nearly a year ago the second part to my video will update my conclusions in that blog. So watch this space for more!

Thank you for watching and please subscribe to my channel to see more content like this.

First YouTube post

To help support my text blog (and perhaps make me update it a bit more often) I’m going to occasionally upload a video to support what I’m banging on about.

Let’s be honest, I’m not the most photogenic of individuals so I imagine most videos will involve me standing behind the camera so that you get the best view of me (i.e. one that I’m not in).

This isn’t the first time I’ve uploaded content to YouTube. I started a channel previously and enjoyed ranting about a few subjects before deciding that as I was the only one watching the videos that perhaps it would make more sense for me to drop it and tackle the idea slightly differently.

The “differently” is what you see above.

I’ve decided to make my (new) YouTube channel directly support this blog. If I want to write about something that I think would be aided with moving pictures of some kind, then I’ll include a video on the channel and also post it here.

I don’t know how often I will upload content to YouTube. I have 2 videos planned at the moment and suspect I’ll go through phases of adding lots of content and then not adding content at all. It all depends on what I want to talk about. And if anyone bothers to watch.

If you want to subscribe to my new channel, you can do that here.

Working standing up

For several months now I’ve been working at my desk standing up. Actually, that’s not quite right as I haven’t been standing constantly for months, there are times when I lie down (at night for example in bed) and I do sit down in the evening… but you know what I mean!

I was first alerted to so-called “standing desks” a couple of years ago when they were featured on BBC Breakfast. With a history of back problems, it’s seemed like a good idea to pursue for some time so earlier this year I finally started looking in to it.

After much research, I was originally going to go for an item that would allow me to raise and lower my computer monitor and keyboard. The Varidesk came in two flavours: a standard model and and wider version. At the time I was about to order (back in March 2014), Varidesk had just launched a new model in their US store (the Varidesk Plus – pictured) that included a separate keyboard tray that would raise along with the main monitor stand meaning you wouldn’t have to manually lift the keyboard. That sounded good to me so I contacted their UK office to be told it was due here in a couple of months.

So I waited.


In the meantime, I had a bit of a re-think and decided that only being able to lift part of my desk was going to cause me problems – it would surely be far better to lift the whole desk, wouldn’t it?

I’d looked at this option during my research, however desks that lifted cost 4 times as much as the Varidesk which had put me off. The other important factor was my current desk, which was a nice, large desk with nothing wrong with it – why throw out a perfectly good desk? I wondered if I could just get some adjustable legs instead!

So out came the internet and off I went looking for some legs!

I quickly came across a company offering different legs sets for existing desks. The price for electric adjusting legs is about twice that of a Varidesk, however it seemed a reasonable extra to pay to have the extra desk space in either high or low position so I ordered one. I could’ve saved money by buying a manually adjusting version, but the electric version seemed a good option.

Putting it together was straightforward and attaching to my existing worktop simple. So since mid July 2014 I’ve been able to raise and lower my entire desk, and what a difference it’s made! I can’t recommend this method of working highly enough.




The top picture shows my desk in the lowered position. It looks as it did prior to the upgrade (in other words, adding the adjustable legs doesn’t prevent it lowering to a “usual” height). The second photo shows it in the raised position. This is adjustable to cope with just about any height – however tall or short you may be.

3This photograph shows the legs when raised. As you can see, they are telescopic. Please ignore the jumble of cables; this is something I am sorting out over Christmas and New Year!

Each leg has its own motor and is very powerful so has no problem coping with very heavy weight on the desk. It also has a safety feature so that when the desk is being lowered, if it detects any resistance the lowering will stop and the desk will raise itself back up a few inches.

Below left is the button used to raise and lower the desk which can be mounted to the desktop itself if required.

4Don’t quote me on it, but I read somewhere that standing for just 3 hours a day for a year when you would normally sit is equivalent to running several marathons.

I’m finding that I’m spending most of my working day standing, sometimes (but not always) lowering the desk for the final hour or so of the working day. It’s not unusual, however, for the desk to remain in the “standing” position for several days at a time. For example, I’m typing this on Monday 29 December 2014 and I think the last time the desk was lowered was around 19 December (although to be fair, I haven’t worked so much this week due to Christmas).

In summary, I can highly recommend standing to work at a computer. It’s healthier, aids concentration and is just overall a better option if you’re a keyboard monkey like myself.

Coming soon to a blog near you

Huge apologies for the lack of blogging over the last few months. With the nights drawing in there’s little in the way of excuses for not keeping these pages up to date!

Here’s a few of the things I’m hoping to be blogging about over the coming weeks:

  • Freesat Freetime and specifically the “on demand” services
  • Networking
  • OS X
  • Photography
  • Southampton Football Club
  • Snooker (if I have anything to say about it – I’m watching coverage of the UK championship as I type this).

I’m pretty excited about the Photography item listed above. I’m hoping to get my photography mojo back in the form of a new Digital SLR and prime lens after my trusty (and decade old) Nikon D70 finally gave up the ghost earlier this summer.

Watch this space for news and views on the above soon. Promise!

Where have I been

It’s been a while since my last blog post (several weeks in actual fact) so this is a quick post to say that I’ll be back blogging again soon!

I’ve got loads to write about including OS X Yosemite, 4K (and even 5K) monitors, standing desks, the rise and rise of Southampton Football Club, dog training and lots more besides. So bookmark this site and return soon for the resumption of my incoherent ramblings.