Review Avengers Endgame

TL:DR - I found it uninspired and predictable. In places the actors seemed bored, the fight scenes overlong and reptitive and I couldn't engage with the move. Visually, it was great with many excellent CGI scenes but, the storyline just felt tired instead of climactic. 3/10

I'm tired weary of superhero movies. I'm not sure I can vocalise why I struggle to be interested them. In part, its the repetition of the good character being extensively beaten in CGI, and then the bad person is trapped/dies/jailed or whatever one of the standard superhero endings are. And conflicted anti-heroes are hard to relate.

The US-centric storyline didn't resonate. I live in a global world and when Captain America "pines for a rural idyll in a small town backwater with his best girl" I'm not invested. This issue reflected in many areas of the story where the 'world' was limited to a handful of people.

Maybe the franchise idea that seemed so fresh has worn out ?

I'm glad I watched it on an airplane seat and didn't go to the theatre.

Sony WFX1000 Earphones Review - Not Good Enough

Summary: I bought a pair of Sony WFX 1000 Earphones after 2 weeks of use there are just too many problems for me to keep them.

At the £200 pound purchase price, they need to actually work reliably, and predictably. They do not work properly on my MacBook or iMac and regularly dropout when using them on my iPhone.

I am returning them for a refund. 

What I wanted:

  1. Wireless Earphones (because iPhone doesn't have a headphone jack)
  2. Noise cancelling to use in a busy office when remote working or travelling on a plane.
  3. Sound quality to be average.
  4. Battery life for long haul flights is desirable.


They fit in my ears ok, didn’t fall out when walking (didn’t try gym/hard exercise due to injury)

Sound is typical Sony. I like Sony earphones, they tend towards bass and generally sound nice to me.


They work sometimes. Can reliably sync to iPhone 7 but the right earpiece will consistently dropout even while sitting at my desk, with phone in front of me. Happens more often when walking with phone in back pocket.

Highly unreliable and ultimately unusable with a MacBook Pro. The audio keeps shifting from right to left earpiece for no reason when sitting directly in front of computer.

Earbud battery life is short, maybe 60-90mins when using noise cancellation which is the point of this product. And then 90 minutes to charge earbuds (way too long!) means these aren’t suitable for heavy use.

No battery indicator on the battery box. Annoying when you don’t know if you should charge it, why should I bother to keep track. 3 hours to charge battery box!

The user interface is clumsy. The IOS App is badly put together, the features are there but its not clear what the feature do or why I would use the app.

Charge case is a bit too large to be comfortable in my pocket.

Charge case is fussy to use when charging earphones, you have to do it exactly right. Review "I swear my sphincters were screaming"

One of the funniest reviews on Amazon I’ve ever send.

BUT (or should I say BUTT), not long after eating about 20 of these all hell broke loose. I had a gastrointestinal experience like nothing I've ever imagined. Cramps, sweating, bloating beyond my worst nightmare. I've had food poisoning from some bad shellfish and that was almost like a skip in the park compared to what was going on inside me.

Then came the, uh, flatulence. Heavens to Murgatroyd, the sounds, like trumpets calling the demons back to Hell…the stench, like 1,000 rotten corpses vomited. I couldn’t stand to stay in one room for fear of succumbing to my own odors.

But wait; there’s more. What came out of me felt like someone tried to funnel Niagara Falls through a coffee straw. I swear my sphincters were screaming. It felt like my delicate starfish was a gaping maw projectile vomiting a torrential flood of toxic waste. 100% liquid. Flammable liquid. NAPALM. It was actually a bit humorous (for a nanosecond)as it was just beyond anything I could imagine possible.


I felt violated when it was over, which I think might have been sometime in the early morning of the next day. There was stuff coming out of me that I ate at my wedding in 2005.

I had FIVE POUNDS of these innocent-looking delicious-tasting HELLBEARS so I told a friend about what happened to me, thinking it HAD to be some type of sensitivity I had to the sugar substitute, and in spite of my warnings and graphic descriptions, she decided to take her chances and take them off my hands.

Silly woman. All of the same for her, and a phone call from her while on the toilet (because you kinda end up living in the bathroom for a spell) telling me she really wished she would have listened. I think she was crying.

via Haribo Gummy Candy, Sugarless Gummy Bears, 5-Pound Bag: Grocery & Gourmet Food.

Review:RHA Earphones and Comply Isolation Earphone Tips

Recently I found that my much-loved earphones ( Sony MDR-EX90LP ) had an unplanned overnight soaking in cup of coffee (the details still bring tears to my eyes) and I’ve been looking for replacement. As I said on Twitter I looked the receipts and was much surprised to find that I purchased them in January 2008. Alas, Sony no longer makes earphones with 13.5 mm drums and I’m forced to look around for new set of quality earphones.

I was much excited to find some for sale on eBay and purchased them, however they turned out to be cheap chinese knockoffs and had to bin them. -much sadness-

The Search

First, earphones not headphones. Headphones are for people with a total lack of fashion sense and other medical conditions.Earphones isolates you from the world around you which can be important when concentrating on something new.

My earphone “plan” is to have a two different types in regular use. I have a low cost, everyday use and typically use Sennheiser CX300 or Sony MDX300 earphones for general, particularly when travelling. They are priced reasonably at about £15 each and quality is OK.Both Sony and Sennheiser tend to be heavy on the bass but mostly I’m listening to audio podcasts so this works out pretty well. Because they get crumpled in my bag or pocket and constantly used the fail through use. I’m not bothered for a cheap pair.

When I’m at a desk or travelling “safe” I have used the much more expensive Sony MDR-EX90 to appreciate the finer qualities of the music since they had a much larger 13.5mm drums that really made the audio that much better.

The range of earphones is baffling. Some people have recommended paying up to £200 for a single pair but that seems out of control to me. Earphones are basically expendable / consumable items and I don’t want to get overly attached because I paid too much for them ( I’d be afraid to use them or lose them ).

This week I stumbled over RHA MSA350 headphones in the Amazon store 1 and took a gamble based on the reviews. Long story short, I’m well pleased with the result. Moderate priced earphones with great sound that I might almost be able to use everyday.

Good Stuff:

  • great sound with clear base and balanced overall sound.
  • The cables are braided with cloth so they don't tend to catch on clothing.
  • Small size so that I don't look like an alien with oversized ears or helmet.

Bad Stuff:

  • When the cable rubs against something that sound is transmitted to the earpieces.
  • Equal length cables - I prefer to one long/one short cabling so I can loop the long side behind my neck).

Comply Foam Tips

Following a recommendation I also impulse- purchased a set of Comply isolation tips for my this model. These are the same memory foam that I use for ear plugs when studying but replaces the tips on my ear pieces. The result is major reduction in external noise - useful for concentrating at the office desk when working.

Affiliate Links :

I'll make pittance if you buy through these links if you don't mind :)

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Comply T-200 Isolation Earphone Tips Medium Black 3 Pairs

RHA MA-350 Aluminium Noise Isolating In-Ear Earphones - 3 year warranty

  1. shopping for earphones on the Amazon website is awful because there are so many cheap knockoffs from China that flood the listing. Loathe 'shopping' at Amazon although the buying experience is OK.

Mike Monteiro - F*ck You. Pay Me.

As a freelance network engineer, I’m confront the issue of setting prices and setting payment goals. I got a lot of confidence from this talk and some of the pitfalls of a creative designer, who has the same problems that I have.

Who knew.

Warning: foul language that has purpose and meaning i.e. it’s not gratuitous.

2011/03 Mike Monteiro | F*ck You. Pay Me. from San Francisco Creative Mornings on Vimeo.

Move Trailer - Tai Chi Zero

Starts off boring then gets weird, then get funny and finally full of plain awesome. I’ll find a way to watch this movie.

Ergotron MX Monitor Arm Review

As part of working more hours at my desk in my home office, I’ve been considering ways to improve my productivity and comfort. To this end I now have a 27" and 24" Apple displays since some studies suggest that additional screen space allows for the more productivity. Disregarding the opportunities for distraction I’ve found two monitors better than one.

In the end and after much research I wanted to get the Kontour K1D200S  as my preferred monitor arm. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t find any for sale in the UK. The Apple store appears to be the only outlet and is seriously overcharging with nearly 200% increase compared to US pricing at £360 (that’s USD$540 while US customers can buy Kontour for about USD$350). So I simply went with my second choice, the Ergotron MX. Although the Ergotron LX looks like a good choice, I liked the arm layout instead of the post layout and the extra weight capacity of the MX seemed like a better choice.

Quality and Purpose

The Ergotron MX product is well made, heavy duty and looks good. The installation is simple enough and all the tools are included plus mounting brackets for the three different sizes of VESA mounts. No complaints with th product itself.

Note: I’m using the Apple VESA bracket that must be purchased separately.


The arm can certainly hold the 24" Apple display I'm using. I did need to tighten the spring according to the instructions to get it to "stay" but it doesn't move.

I can rotate the monitor nicely as well.This is my Apple 24" LED Cinema Display in portait mode after rotation through 90 degrees.


I have one major problem. This arm has only five inches of vertical travel or movement and this means I cannot get the sort of height that I need. As you can see in the previous photo, that I get very little vertical height above the desk with the monitor rotated into portrait mode. I'm getting about 4 cm at max.

This wouldn’t be a major problem, of course, if the monitor is in landscape mode. The height is “OK” - ( iPhone 4 for scale, and ignore my desk clutter please)


Here is a closeup of the height off the desk. (iPhone 4 for scale)

The other problem I have is cable handling. This isn’t a problem with the Ergotron MX, but the cables that Apple provides. I have a MacBook Pro that sits in a TweleveSouth Book Arc (review here ) and my MBPr must very close to the screens to be able to connect. I’d like to have my MBPr over the left hand side of the desk but the cables aren’t long enough. Not a huge problem, but annoying nonetheless.


The Ergotron MX works is you don't want portrait mode. There isn't enough height to be useful for me, even when in landscape mode. The purpose of having a monitor arm is to be able to move my monitor into non-standard locations and the Ergotron MX isn't doing this well at all. I guess a smaller monitor might make it easier but who has small screens these days.

So I wish that I had a Kontour HD200S, but until they start selling them in the UK (excepting the overpricing at the Apple Store) I’ll be thinking about purchasing an Ergotron LX with the long post for my Apple 27" Thunderbolt display. I’m not convinced that this is the correct monitor arm so I’m reluctant to make the purchase.


OSX: SmartSleep

In OSX Lion, Apple has provided a sleep and hibernate capability. In fact, one of my favourite features is the sleep/resume works reliably and quickly. I can open and shut the lid on my MacBook for weeks without needing to reboot - that’s something that never works properly on my corporate Windows machines. SmartSleep is a small utility that enhances the power save functions on your MacBook.

Feature 1 - Smartsleep

The SmartSleep utility goes a small step further to provide a small enhancement to automatically hibernate when the battery level reaches a certain level. Smartsleep 1

From the SmartSleep website:

SmartSleep lets you select each sleep state. Additionally the new SmartSleep state lets your notebook just sleep while the battery has a high level. If the battery level drops below a certain point (default is less then 20% or 20 minutes) it will switch to sleep and hibernate. So you have the best of both worlds. Furthermore it will expand the lifetime of your SSD (if you have one) as your MacBook won't write a hibernate file as often.

Feature 2 - Force Display ON when Lid Closed

A MacBook is adamant that when you close the lid, that the system goes into sleep mode. You can "wake" it up to use the external monitor but you might want to have your Mac running while the lid is closed (headless mode). There is a small program that you can download which gives a menu option to force the display to "stay" awake. Neat. Smartsleep 3

Feature 3 - Insomnia (disable screen save)

Sometimes you don't want the screen to sleep / go into power save mode. Presentation or maybe someone is looking over your shoulder at a problem. The menu bar option lets you disable the screen save for specified period.

The EtherealMind View

It's a little gem for OSX. Doesn't cost more than a few bucks.
Note: I recommend that you buy it direct from the website and NOT from the Mac App Store. . The Mac App Store already prevents this utility from having certain features and this will be a problem later in the year as Apple implements sandboxing.

SmartSleep Smartsleep 2

Review: Guardian Newsstand App for iPad (Newspaper)

I've been using the Guardian apps for the iPhone and iPad for a year or more. I've been reading the newspaper for much longer than that (I read papers on the left and right side of politics to in the hope of getting a somewhat balanced view - wishful thinking probably)

When the Guardian released their newsstand app for the iPad I was pleased to sign up and pay the subscription in Oct/Nov last year and support the business.

Today, I cancelled my subscription in frustration.

There are two primary reasons for this:

  1. Advertising.
  2. Crashing.


My first and major complaint is the display ads. I'm tired of having content shoved in my face and constantly distracting me from my task. The ads that show in iPad app are full screen and require a click through. Because the "hot spots" on the page that click out to a website are in the same place as the page turn, I find that Safari opens.

This is dishonest. Flat out, infuriatingly, steal my screen time, infest my eyeballs type of dishonest.

Finally, the Guardian app is constantly reporting back analytics to their servers. It's consuming precious bandwidth from my 3G allowance for zero benefit.

I have the view that I've paid for the privilege to have a copy of the Guardian content, it should not be further encumbered with advertising.


The final problem is that the app has started crashing regularly - starting from January. Most times on startup it will crash twice before staying open. When downloading the paper is will crash every second time during the download. And when reading the content it will also crash repeatedly.

As this is the only iPad app that crashes for me, I can only assume it is poor programming.

Summing Up

I could barely tolerate the ads in the early versions but the latest versions have many more ads and have spoiled the experience. When added to the app constantly crashing I'm cancelling my subscription and will stop reading newspaper altogether. I might buy the paper version occasionally, but I doubt it - it's doesn't work for my lifestyle anymore.

I don't have a better option than that.

OSX:Awaken and TimeBoxed Time App Reviews

You might think that OSX would have a decent clock application but it’s does not. Recently, I’ve started using the Pomodoro technique of timing my concentration bursts on a specific topic. Partly to retrain my habit of constant attention shifting and partly to find a smarter way of working. I have two apps on my Mac that I use to help with this process.


Awaken is more focussed on being an Alarm Clock, but it's does have a good interface for support a number of timers. For example, I often time myself on telephone call to no more than five minutes, or I need to concentrate on an email response but that should not take more than 10 minutes (or I'm overdoing it).

Awaken show a simple clock at startup:

Awaken review 1

I have setup four timers for attention spanning: Pressing the play button starts that timer:

Awaken review 2

And Awaken will keep your Mac awake (prevent power sleeping)

Awaken review 5

This is the alarm clock setting, I’ve not used this much since my iPhone is more suitable for this:

Awaken review 3

I fyou do like using your Mac as an alarm clock, Awaken can play your favourite music / playlist from iTunes:

Awaken review 4

App Store Link


Sometimes, Awaken offers too many options and kind of confuses my starting point. On those days, I use TimeBoxed to setup the simplest possible timer:

TimeBoxed is a floating window with the typical shaded black box:

Timeboxed 1

You can easily resize it ( or even make it vertical) :

Timeboxed 2

And the preferences for configuration are disturbingly simple:

Timeboxed 3

One thing I like about TimeBoxed is the ability to speak a message at the end of the timer and send an alert to Growl (since sometimes my audio is turned off).

I sometimes change the message (when I'm in my home office where no one can hear) to put motivational messages, or reminders to go for a walk, when the time is up (guilty pleasure).
Timeboxed 4


Both applications work very well and do what they say. Awaken is somewhat cheaper and available in the App Store and would suit most people. TimeBoxed is not on the App Store and costs 10 Euros, so is a little expensive. TimeBoxed does have extensive AppleScript support, something that I'm hoping to work on.

Recommend both apps.