Friday 31 December 2021

PodHubUK Podcasts for the Month of December 2021


   ...a roundup of our month of podcasting. Links to the team, communities and podcast homes on the net at the foot, so scroll down!

The Phones Show
Episode 434 - NexDock 360 Review
Wednesday 1st December
Full review of this most interesting smartphone super-accessory. Lapdock, monitor, hub, this does everything.

Projector Room
Episode 101 - Grizzly Django
Wednesday 1st December
It's a case of after the Lord Mayor's Show I guess as we start the climb to 200! Join Gareth, Allan and I as we start the ascent, taking in films about/featuring Bears and mascara! We're certainly Open 24 Hours but it's No Time to Die inside 21 Bridges! Come and join us as we natter about film, cinema a TV for an hour. Oh no, it was nearly two! 😂

Phones Show Chat
Episode 670 - What? No Android 11?
Saturday 4th December
Join Steve and I this week as we join in the general Nokia Bashing, consider budget options, a very expensive Xperia and indulge in more Pixel ponderings!

Tech Addicts Podcast
Sunday 5th December
Gareth and I are back and this weekend we invade Evercade, storm Stadia, steam into Chrome, tackle floating mice, play with a bird bot perched on a noisy cellular mast and then declare that no men could capture nomenclature! Bit of a long one too!

The Phones Show
Thursday 9th December
It's Christmas! Well, time for Steve's annual Top 5 Phones, anyway.

Phones Show Chat
Episode 671 - Light or Dark Side
Saturday 11th December
Steve and I are back this week with loads of content including a cracking Photo of the Month, exciting new innovations, interesting stuff here now (and around the corner) and Steve's Top 5 Phones for year-end 2021. Tom Stuart also joins us to talk about his Apple-centric life.

Tech Addicts Podcast
Sunday 12th December
Gareth and I reporting for duty again this weekend with another deluge of dross and ton of tech! If you Fold and Slide, reshuffle and merge, roll and repair, kiss and make up, you'll Trump the tech! Lots of fun as usual. Grab a large coffee and join us.

Whatever Works
Episode 151 - Santa's Ding-Dong!
Monday 13th December
Aidan and I are late on parade, but here! Why not join us for an hour as we natter about Whatever Works for us and you! Plenty of tat as usual, from kit and ziplock bags to bolt-action screwdrivers and cat litter - with much in between and around!

Projector Room
Episode 102 - The Power of the Meg
Wednesday 15th December
Gareth, Allan and I are back with another fortnightly scan of all things film, cinema and TV. Plenty for Meg to get it's teeth into as we treat ourselves to a shark-fest alongside a powerful dog - and we also look forward to a Gold Parasite - Unforgivable!

Phones Show Chat
Episode 672 - Rolling Back the Years
Saturday 18th December
Steve and I are back again this weekend with a look at mobile phones future, present and past - as Ben Wood from the Mobile Phone Museum drops in for a chat. And hold on...there's even a special visit from a very special seasonal traveller!

Whatever Works
Episode 152 - Kris Kringle Jingle!
Friday 24th December
Hellooo! We're back again Aidan and I, as we bring you an hour of seasonal festive cheer and madness! We rope in Chris Kelly for the event and welcome him back warmly to WWTowers! Loads of stuff to get through as usual as we consider Whatever Works for us and you! Ding dong! It's the last of 2021, so thanks to all for keeping the interest going, fuelling our enthusiasm over the year. Happy gorging everyone. Hic!

Phones Show Chat
Episode 673 - Christmas Top 3's
Saturday 25th December
Seasonal greetings to all from Steve and I at PSCTowers! We bring you a Yuletide Special to consume when you've scoffed all the turkey and tinkled with the tinsel! Steve and I have a think about what 3 things have been significant for us in the world of phones since last we dug around for that sixpence!

The Phones Show
Episode 436 - The End
Tuesday 28th December
Steve thanks all viewers over 16 years after deciding to draw a line under producing and shooting video phone reviews regularly. He says that there may be a show now and again when time allows or there's something interesting enough to shout about, but for now it's retired. Kind of!

Projector Room
Episode 103 - The Best of 2021
Wednesday 29th December
Welcome, once again to the musings of Gareth, Allan and myself relating to the world of film, cinema and TV as we look back at 2021. There is no Censor here as we share Another Round at New Year! There's No Time to Die as we kick The Chair from under us - and get the Shivers at the thought of The Thing! Lots of fun - do join us!

Monday 27 December 2021

Clelo Neck Fan

Always on the lookout for methods to keep cool in this ever-getting-hotter earth, I look at the coming summer months and wonder what kind of year we face. So, here's the latest try and another gadget to cool me down! Some say that feet and wrists are the body's 'sensors' and to try and keep them cool, but how about the neck?

It's a bendy, hard-TPU gadget which pulls around the neck on one axis, so once your neck stops it getting in closer, that's it. A two-stage bend might be more flexible for some of us with big necks - but then there are quite big batteries in each side to prevent this. Once it's in the position you want, it doesn't move - it's not in any way 'floppy'. It's not very heavy on the neck - soon forgotten about.

The idea is that you charge it up, it intakes air from the holes at the front, pushes it back along the sides to the vents firing it up around the neck on the sides, towards the ears. It claims to be bladeless but I'm not sure how that can be true as there must be some sort of blade arrangement turning around in there to move the air - and suck it in. Whatever the mechanism, it is fully enclosed and won't tangle hair - even for those of us with Santa beards!

It has two batteries inside, one on each side, totalling 9000mAh, which is good for 18hrs of cooling on the low setting, 13hrs on the medium and 9hrs on the high. One of the problems as you get higher in fan speed is the noise - and it is, of course, right next to the ears. It's not quiet and sounds a bit like the noise sitting on an aircraft. I guess that over time one's brain would block it out. On the low setting it's significantly less noisy of course.

The good news is that it charges via USB-C (hurrah) and it seems that the Li-Ion batteries take about 4-6hrs to fully charge, depending on the power of the charger used. There's a little LED by the USB-C port to indicate what it's doing. When charging, it flashes red and then stays solid red when full. While it's being used it's blue and when not, off. There's a little 'flush' button on the outside-right towards the back which presses through the off-low-med-high loop.

As for the flow of air, summer will see! It's obviously no air-conditioning unit and at the end of the day it's a fan blowing air around which has been sucked in from the front. However, as we know from room and desk fans, these quite often defy physics! It's December as I write, so not hot, but it does genuinely feel as though it is providing a cooling effect around the ears and neck which is significantly cooler than the room I am sitting in - and much better than not having it on.

I shall update this in the summer when it's put to the test fully but in the meantime, please use my Amazon link if you want to buy and test one as they give me a few pennies if you do and it costs you no more. Thanks. Here's the link... (...currently £25.99 but might be more in the summer!)

Friday 24 December 2021

Shivers (1975) and The Brood (1979)

Shivers (1975)

I remember watching this David Cronenberg film in the 1980's and being gobsmacked by the madness! I revisited it this week via an old DVD and the first thing that hit me was how diabolical the acting is! Maybe that was true of many films and TV shows in the 70's and I just forget!

Anyway the residents of a suburban high-rise apartment building are being infected by a strain of parasites that turn them into mindless, sex-crazed fiends out to infect others by the slightest sexual contact says the blurb. They get into the human through any orifice they can find, so expect some nudity (well, mainly topless females) and nothing graphic, but suggestive of those routes!

I remembered Paul Hampton playing the lead doctor and then checked up to find that yes, he's got a ton of work from back in the day and you've probably seen him hundreds of times if you're old enough. Lyn Lowry is in there as his nurse and she is still going, according to IMDb with 41 current projects either filming, filmed, post-production or whatever! Some people never give up!

It's all very stylish and nicely constructed for something of the era and there are indeed some grizzly moments. You can see how Cronenberg went on to make the most of increasing technology and ideas in, for example, The Fly remake in 1986.

It's all a bit mad to be honest, but good fun as a mix between a zombie, horror, bloody thriller and even through the poor acting, it's fun to see the outcome and get to the end. It's not even 90 minutes. I shall now remind myself of more with The Brood and Scanners! Enjoy 🤩

The Brood (1979)

Right, I've watched this one now too - it's on Amazon Prime! David Cronenberg slows right down with this one and clearly had a bigger budget for actors, recruiting Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar (I remember her fondly from Dr Doolittle - no, no, the proper original one) and (very handsome chap) Art Hindle.

It's even madder as an idea than Shivers but the first half of the 90 minutes often drags as there's far to much time wasted on setup. The whacko story is about a man (Hindle) trying to uncover an unconventional psychologist's therapy techniques on his institutionalised wife, amidst a series of brutal murders. In amongst that he's trying to keep his daughter from harm and his wife (Eggar) away from the fruit-loop scientist (Reed).

The outcomes are all a bit off-the-wall when you get to the reveals about what's going on behind closed doors - in the meantime we get distracted by these 'little people' going round doing bloody murder on various characters in the plot.

Horror (kind of) but more chiller and sci-fi really. It's nicely shot in places and the music adds suspense well. Great fun, a little dated but at least the acting is significantly better than it was in Shivers!

Saturday 18 December 2021

Black+Decker 2kW Fan Heater

Lovely little fan heater which does what it says on the tin - blows air! I have it in a little room in my Static where my table with PC is used and podcasting area and if I shut the door in this colder weather it will heat the room up on full-belt (2000W) in about 5 minutes then can be turned off for a good half-hour.

It's not perfectly silent (not silent enough for recording) but it's completely unnoticeable otherwise during normal tasks. It is made of rigid plastic of course (with very nicely moulded feet) and has two dials. One controls the heat/cold (so can be used for cooling in summer) in 3 switch positions, cold, 1000W, 2000W, and the other the thermostat cut-out (for those who can be bothered). I'm more inclined to use it for blasts!

The power lead is about 6ft long and looks thick and sturdy, there's a red light on top to indicate when it's running, has a big air intake grille on top and the usual vents on the front. It needs to be used flat (which I think is always safer anyway) so no upright or wall-mounting here.

Double overheat protection is apparently in there! Not sure how you reach that level! Lock it in a cupboard and turn it on, I suppose! I had to dry a bathroom floor last week which had got damp and left it in there on full power for a couple of hours and it didn't stop!

Not sure what the Black+Decker branding means any longer but it it's anything like what it was in the old days, it should be well made and reliable. Recommended! £19.99 - Do please buy with my Amazon link as I get some pennies and it cost you no more. Thanks -

Wednesday 8 December 2021

Till Death (2021)

This is a nifty little thriller from the relatively inexperienced team of S. K. Dale (director) and Jason Carvey (writer). It's not the greatest film in the world but it does keep you on the edge of your seat for 90 minutes as suspense builds towards the thrilling finale!

Emma and Mark have fallen out of love. She's taken a lover and he's got business problems, though on the face of it he looks well-to-do and wealthy. He also controls Emma in every aspect of her life (that he knows about). What she wears, how she wears it, where she goes, who she sees - he dominates her life and she has to toe the line (for reasons which aren't really ever stated, but we assume money and luxurious life-style).

It's their anniversary, so he takes her out to dinner, buys her an expensive gift then whisks her away to an isolated cabin in the iced-up, snowy outbacks somewhere for a romantic night. When she wakes up in the morning, he's sat next to her hand-cuffed to her, then he blows his head off with a gun (which only has one bullet in it)!

Presumably for revenge (as it turns out he knows about her lover) he has set this up in order that a couple of hoods he's lined up will come and kill her and get what money he has, in the safe. He's sorted his business problems (by being dead) and she's going to get it too! Enter the hoods, one of whom it turns out has done 10 years in the nick because of something that Emma previously did to him. So he's happy to get his revenge too.

Anyway, enough of the far-fetched plotline and into the thrills and spills. She has to somehow get out of the place alive, except that he has removed any tools that she might use to get free of him and drained the cars of petrol, cut off the phone-lines, you get the idea. She's doomed!

Megan Fox plays Emma and I'd suggest not coming to this expecting any award-winning acting. And she's the best of the bunch! Everyone else is pretty mediocre in their roles except for maybe the second of the two hoods, played by Jack Roth (Bohemian Rhapsody, Rogue One), who is the most convincing of the bunch. Eoin Macken doesn't quite happen as Mark, I'm afraid, but then he does spend most of the film dead and chained to her!

The setting is excellent and there's some nice scenery to be enjoyed around the events of the day, but this is really just about the thrills of the story. Will she make it out? Is she doomed? Who will kill who? Look out for some ludicrous inconsistencies in the plot and wildly unlikely scenarios and just-in-the-nick-of-time outcomes!

Don't let me put you off though as it's great fun. A little bit gory in places, but nothing too much. A good Friday Night thriller which you can get your teeth into and enjoy the suspense and thrills. Doing the rounds on various streaming platforms now.

Tuesday 7 December 2021

Open 24 Hours (2018)

It's fruit-loop time again! This is a film about a young girl who had just got out of clink for setting her boyfriend on fire. Turns out the boyfriend was a serial killer and she'd been implicated by the authorities as an accomplice, explaining her clink-time. Anyway, she's out now but is scarred for life psychologically due to the trauma she suffered, paranoid, delusional and seeing hallucinations. (Or is she?)

The boyfriend (who survived and also ended up in clink) gets out of jail (or does he?) and comes to exact revenge on her in her new job, first night in an all-night petrol station in the USA (or does he?). All hell breaks loose as it plays out in this one day. Half the time you don't know what's real and what's imagined, but it's a tidy little indie thriller with plenty of slay-gore thrown in.

Not a huge amount of decent acting going on in this low-budget outing, though Vanessa Grasse is half-decent in the lead. Brendan Fletcher is the name here, if there is one, from Freddy vs. Jason (2003), Rampage (2009) and Tideland (2005). Doing the rounds on Streaming.

The Last Duel (2021)

Ridley Scott's historical movie is set in the late 1300's north of France and tells an allegedly true story, well, based on fact, which actually historians are also unclear regarding, about two men who start off as friends but end up bitter rivals.

Matt Damon plays Jean de Carrouges and Adam Driver, Jacques Le Gris. They are squires and noblemen or the like, who find themselves fighting for king and country far too often and form a bond in the early part of the film of what appears to be brotherhood. The first part of the film dances all around a 20 year timeline, so watch out for the captions of when we're at! In fact, this dance is really quite quickfire often with a very short scene and then onto the next, 10 years later and so on. So keep up at the back!

This is all during the Hundred Years war between England and France, taking in Scotland at one point. Anyway, as we leap between battlefields and timelines, then spend some time back at base, it becomes clear that Jacques has the favour of the king and his sidekicks and is given favours left, right and centre, some of it land and wealth that Jean thinks is his. And so the rivalry kicks off and they start avoiding each other or spitting at each other in court.

This is the point at which the film splits into three, only coming back together for the finale. Part 1 is the events as told by Jean, Part 2 by Jacques and Part 3 by Marguerite, Jean's wife, played by Jodie Comer. You see, she is allegedly raped by Jacques while Jean is away doing boy's things, and the three main characters in turn tell their story. So yes, there's quite a repetition going on with the 'facts' presented dramatically, three times, based on which one tells the story of what happened surrounding the alleged rape.

All the stories agree that Marguerite decides to tell Jean that Jacques has raped her and so Jean is on an even greater quest to cash in his rivalry with Jacques by dragging him through court, in front of the king, and ultimately towards the duel to the death. This is the Middle Ages and they think that god will decide and if Jacques wins, Marguerite will be burned at the stake. Of course, there are no witnesses, but at this time women are second class citizens and the sexism is reflected by depicting the rape (if it happened) as a slur against the house of the husband, not the woman who allegedly endured it.

Anyway, that's enough of the lead up. Obviously, the finale is the duel to see who is the 'winner' and what fallout there is along the way. If you can forgive the dodgy smattering of American, British and French accents with little attempt to hide them, the three leads do very well. They are convincing and portray the harrowing tale superbly well, particularly Driver and Comer. There are various other names thrown in the mix, like Ben Affleck, who also produced with Damon, but most of the others had pretty small parts. One criticism of the film could be that there was more meat on the bones of the other characters which could have been chewed.

The setting is blood-stained battlefields, castles and mud-strewn streets as you'd imagine and some of the battle scenes verge on the gory here and there. It's always depicted as cold and wintery and some of the cinematography is well imagined and nicely shot. Alex Lawther play 'mad' King Charles VI extremely well, though he doesn't have a huge part in the film. I remember him from The End of the Fxxxing World on Channel 4, in which he was very well cast.

I struggled at the end to decide whether or not the two and a half hour running time was worth it and kept my attention but decided that it was, and it did. It's not gripping, by any stretch of the imagination but there are plenty of scenes which are suspenseful drama, especially the finale, but elsewhere too where the moral fibre of the characters is up for question. The motivation and behaviours added to the uncertainty of being able to identify with how differently this would have been dealt with, and turned out, in our age. Very differently of course.

I didn't feel an emotional engagement with the film, rather I reflected on what was a brutal, hard-nosed time depicting very different values and standards in a very different era. Give it a go and see what you think. It's just started to appear on streaming services, so use your Play Points, Vouchers or whatever!

Silent Night (2021)

This short and tight little comedy/drama/thriller was created by director/writer Camille Griffin which tells the tale of a group of annoyingly posh and monied hoo-hars who come together for a yuletide celebration and, potentially, last supper!

What unfolds is a story based around an incoming 'gas' which everyone knows about and for which the government has issued suicide pills because there's nothing anyone can do about it - and those who don't take the pill will suffer a fate worse than death in great pain. So they have one last night to party before they all snuff themselves out as they know the exact day it is arriving.

It plays out in the early stages (as the group arrive at the big countryside house) a bit like Peter's Friends or even Four Weddings. All frightfully chirpy, hilarious fun with much posh-people banter. They have dinner. They argue. Truths come out about the past, secrets shared, anger expressed, beans spilled. Think Abs Fabs, air-kisses, Land-rovers and Barbour jackets too. The monied-set.

Seems that posh kids are allowed to swear as much as they like and use the F word in pretty much any sentence (along with their parents) as the four kids are a bunch of just-as-annoying public school posh-brats in the mix. They're all very unlikeable and actually, none of the characters are really developed very much in the 90 minute run-time.

Keira Knightley leads them - a (mainly) Brit-pack of actors including Matthew Goode, Roman Griffin Davis, Annabelle Wallis, Lily-Rose Depp, Sope Dirisu, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Lucy Punch, Rufus Jones and Davida McKenzie. It's a bit like spot the face you know, then work out which TV series or film you saw them in! They all do what they do reasonably well and if 'convincingly annoying' is the aim, then they're all cracking actors!

Anyway, I won't spoil the ending (which you will see coming from some way off) but leave you to either get very annoyed by the people and what they represent in life or see past that and enjoy the dark side of what starts as an apparent comedy but ends up as something quite different.

Most of it shot in the house and is generally directed and staged well - it could easily be a stage-play. Perhaps it is. Now available to rent/stream from various services.

Wednesday 1 December 2021

PodHubUK Podcasts for the Month of November 2021

   ...a roundup of our month of podcasting. Links to the team, communities and podcast homes on the net at the foot, so scroll down!

Whatever Works
Episode 148 - No Menu Venue
Monday 1st November
Aidan and I are here with another hour of buffoonery and chaos as we consider Whatever Works in our lives and yours! From Spy Cameras, Tiny Glue and Broken Zip Fixes to Clackety-Clack Keyboards, Fly Swatters and Powerful Ego's - we have it all. And more besides! Grab a beer and join us.

Projector Room
Episode 99 - The Dune Hustle
Wednesday 3rd November
Gareth, Allan Gildea and I are back again this fortnight with more pearls from film, cinema and TV. What we've been watching, what you've been watching and what we're all going to watch! Loads of goodies as usual.

The Phones Show
Episode 432 - Fairphone 4 Review
Wednesday 3rd November
Join Steve as he takes apart (and reassembles) the Fairphone 4, whilst trying to decide if he's eco-friendly enough to stick with this thoughtful firm long-term. Are the hardware compromises too much? Who is, in reality, likely to keep the same phone for 6 years? Head on over to find out..!

Phones Show Chat
Episode 666 - The Samsung FairPixel
Saturday 6th November
Steve and I are back this weekend with another catchup episode as we drill down into Pixel 6 hands-on, Fairphone 4 hands-on and Microsoft Duo 2 hands-on! Hands-on all-round and the big Galaxy swap! Plus all the other usual stuff of course.

Tech Addicts Podcast
Sunday 7th November
Gareth and I look at the Facebook Watch - complete with Notch, SoundCore Glasses, Asus VivoBook 13 Slate, a sneaky iPhone feature and Stadia vs GeForce Now.

Whatever Works
Episode 149 - Lazy Walnut Grinding
Friday 12th November
Aidan and I are back once again to annoy you with our fortnightly round of chaos, mayhem and madness as we go bananas over Whatever Works for us and you. It's a bit coffee-heavy this time, but also loads of other stuff. Plenty to whine about too of course!

Phones Show Chat
Saturday 13th November
Steve and I welcome back James Bernard Walsh this week for Part 2 of his thoughts on his Apple gear used as a medic. Plus time for some other stuff too including Photo of the Month.

Tech Addicts Podcast
Sunday 14th November
Gareth and I get stuck into GTA III Definitive Edition, Apple’s Screen Repair Trap, blipOne awesome home power backup battery, Moto Watch 100, Roku and an Oppo tablet!

Projector Room
Episode 100 - 100
Wednesday 17th November
The whole team has popped up this time to celebrate our 100th Show. We've been bangin' on about film, cinema and TV since 2016 and are still at it! Gareth, Allan Gildea and Steve join me - as half the cast fight off colds - The Show Must Go On! As always, we bring you natter about what we've been watching, with a Special Feature depicting our choices for the best of the best in the last 20 years. We add your thoughts into the mix too, so why not join us!

Phones Show Chat
Thursday 18th November
Croaky Steve and I are back this weekend good'n'early with just the two of us on a catchup. Plenty to chew over including more on the Pixel 6 & Pro, NexDock 360, Dynamic Vibration and even a OnePlus iPhone!

Tech Addicts Podcast
Sunday 21st November
Gareth and I are back with more tech tinkerings... the Fold on hold? Apple care about repair? Moto Tab and Realme Pad? Tesla don't deny the Pi? OnePlus Nord's Pac-Man and a ghostly horde? How can you afford to get bored? Move toward...

The Phones Show
Monday 22nd November
More Pixel 6 goodness and this time it's back to the giant Pro and the thoughts of @Steve Litchfield in his video review.

Whatever Works
Episode 150 - Fast Fish Cross Pond
Friday 26th November
Aidan and I return with another near-hour of chatter about Whatever Works for us and you! Allsorts to tempt your palate, but no sign of liquorice! A huge brolly up (indoors) for grabs alongside Rat Traps, not forgetting the odd moist horn and wet-wipes tub!

Phones Show Chat
Episode 669 - Pixel Bashing
Saturday 27th November
Why not join and I as we welcome back Tim Evans for Part 2 about his Microsoft Surface Duo 2 and have a round of mutual Pixel Bashing! Plenty of positive stuff too of course!

Tech Addicts Podcast
Sunday 28th November
Gareth and I discuss the the weather and Covid - and still make time for the technology of the Pixel 6, 6 Pro and 6 Mini, OnePlus 10 and 10 Pro, Samsung setting up in Texas, MediaTek and Winamp! What fun ahead for the good listeners! Become one. Tune in!

Monday 1 November 2021

PodHubUK Podcasts for the Month of October 2021

  ...a roundup of our month of podcasting. Links to the team, communities and podcast homes on the net at the foot, so scroll down!

Whatever Works
Episode 146 - I Scream at Ice Cream!
Friday 1st October
Aidan and I are back once more with an hour of chaos and mayhem as we pick the meat off the bones of Whatever Works for you and us! Loads of stuff as usual, from last year's calendars, nifty glue guns, oodles of noodles and a Minor Marshall to keep us in check!

Phones Show Chat
Friday 2nd October
Steve and I welcome Dan Carter back to catch up with what he's using, recently reviewed and his hopes for Pixel 6 (Pro). Plenty of other chat too of course as we assess more phones and news from the world of mobile.

Tech Addicts Podcast
Sunday 3rd October
Gareth and I are back again with our weekend catch-up of all stuff tech as we rattle on about the Nokia PureBook S14, Honor Pad V7, Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G, Amazon Astro, Stadia, Evercade, Speedlink Excello and tons more!

Projector Room
Episode 97 - The Guilty Voyeur
Wednesday 6th October
Gareth, Allan and I are back once again with our fortnightly roundup of all things film, cinema and TV. What we've been watching, what you've been watching, what we'd like to be watching! Don't Breathe as we break the Deadlock with some top-heavy Rakka!

Phones Show Chat
Saturday 9th October
Steve and I welcome back James Honeyball this week as he hooks up with Steve at the pub! Plenty of hot topics to chew over as always!

Tech Addicts Podcast
Sunday 10th October
Gareth and I quibble about Windows 11, Stadia, Lenovo Legion Play, the Cyrcle Phone, Nokia T20, a Mini Pupper - and wonder if Microsoft 365 is worth it! (You can also enjoy Ted's new jingle as Gareth challenges Aidan's command!)

Whatever Works
Episode 147 - Surround Sound Splutter!
Friday 15th October
Aidan and I are back again with another potpourri of Whatever Works stuff to educate, edify and excite! Bundles of stuff to be grabbed behind the chaos, coughing and grass cutting - we even welcome back Grandma Shark!

Phones Show Chat
Saturday 16th October
Steve and I are back again this weekend with guest Mike Warner who leads us through some deep stuff about Android, Xiaomi and LineageOS - all good stuff. Plus all the usual catching up.

Tech Addicts Podcast
Sunday 17th October
This week Gareth and I inspect news of the TCL, HTC and Anker making Smart Glasses, Evercade VS delays, Vivo X70 Pro+, Grand Theft Auto III coming back and Squid Game’s issues!

Projector Room
Wednesday 20th October
Gareth, Allan and I are back again with another fun-packed look at film, cinema and TV. What we've been watching, what you've been watching, what's been good and what's lousy! We lose a Squid Game in the Chicken Run, go for a Little Fish at a Copshop but don't resort to Plan A!

Phones Show Chat
Episode 664 - Retro Samsung Week
Saturday 23rd October
Steve and I are back this weekend with a sneaky two-header, mopping up some lingering items and chat! Why not join us as we muse on the week's happenings in mobile phone and our never-ending quest for the perfect phone (as rare as a unicorn)!

Tech Addicts Podcast
Sunday 24th October
Gareth and I are back this weekend with another dollop of drivel about tech and other stuff we know nothing about! However, it's still a marathon podcast which sees us chew over a Facebook rebrand, Apple's Notch fetish, Nokia T20, Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 renders and memories of Shareware.

The Phones Show
Thursday 28th October
Join Steve as he takes a look at this latest offering from Microsoft - is it good enough or useful enough for the likes of you and I? Or is it really very much a business tool?

Phones Show Chat
Episode 665 - Pixels and Duos
Saturday 30th October
Steve and I pop up again this weekend - this time with the return of Tim Evans who gives us hands-on insight into particularly the Microsoft Surface Duo 2, Pixel 6 and 6 Pro - but much more besides.

Tech Addicts Podcast
Sunday 31st October
Gareth and I are back with our usual Metaroundup of all things Metatech which has caught our eyes in the last Metaweek. Cheerful, ritual humiliation of the whole lot of 'em! Roblox hits a road-block, Moto Watch 100 smiles sweetly and we get giddy at the thought of the Amstrad 1640.

The Podcasts
PodHubUK - Phones Show Chat - The Phones Show - Whatever Works - Chewing Gum for the Ears - Projector Room - Tech Addicts

The MeWe Community Groups (follow the links to join up)
Phones Show Chat & The Phones Show - Whatever Works - Chewing Gum for the Ears - Projector Room - PSC Photos - PSC Classifieds - Tech Addicts

The Team
Ted Salmon - Steve Litchfield - Aidan Bell - Gareth Myles - Allan Gildea

Sunday 31 October 2021

Old (2021)

We can often rely on M Night Shyamalan to offer the audience a twist and turn, even jaw-dropping 'didn't see it coming' moment, like The Sixth Sense and The Village. When I watch a new film of his, I'm always hoping for that - but it doesn't always come. Maybe it will this time.

The story is a simple one, based on the graphic novel 'Sandcastle' by Pierre-Oscar Lévy and Frederik Peeters. A bunch of people go on holiday. They are welcomed and the very next day, offered an opportunity for an exclusive day out at a beach the other side of the island where most guests are not allowed. The manager of the hotel tells them that they're being offered this speciality as he, well, likes the cut of their jib!

The hotel mini-bus drops them all off and they have to walk through some caves/cliffs/rocks to get to the enclosed bay/cove. It's idyllic and beautiful. The driver tells them that he will be back to collect the group at the end of the day.

As the day starts, they all have fun and enjoy their time along with the giant picnic which the hotel has sent along with them. Then the trouble starts. They start ageing at a rapid pace. There's one older woman who was the first to go as she was the oldest. The children suddenly become teenagers. Behaviours start to change. A body washes up on the shore.

Long-standing conditions which various members of the group have are made worse. Then they notice an 'observation area' on a distant hillside and think they are being watched. They start to try to get away from the beach but attempts to do so end up in one disaster or another. They just get old, quickly. I won't say any more about the plot for obvious reasons.

The location makes for some lovely visual offerings and on top of that there's some arty photography used as well. Nice shots, unusual angles and close-ups to enhance the drama of what's going on - and the horror and realisation of what is happening by the group.
There aren't really any huge Hollywood names in the cast but Rufus Sewell leaps out (The Illusionist, Judy), Nikki Amuka-Bird (Gold Digger) and Eliza Scanlen (Babyteeth) whilst Gael García Bernal and Vicky Krieps play the central Guy and Prisca roles.

The whole cast does well as various actors leap in and out of different roles of ageing kids. They all look strong and competent in what they do, convincing the audience of this off-the-wall yarn. It is a fantasy and I can tell you that there is, of course, something at the end of it which I didn't see coming, but probably the sharper of you might well do. It's certainly worth a look but not the quality of some of his earlier work. What I do like is that it is an idea though and M Night Shyamalan can be relied on the bring us something different and interesting. He's a good storyteller.

Friday 29 October 2021

The Captor/Stockholm (2018)

The Captor was also known as Stockholm, the creation of Canadian director/writer/producer Robert Budreau who was also involved in the same way in the Chet Baker jazz film, Born to Be Blue from 2015, starring Ethan Hawke, as here too.

The film is based in Stockholm, plays out in English and is loosely based on the true story of the 1973 bank heist and hostage crisis in Stockholm - which allegedly gave name to the Stockholm Syndrome (which depicts a victim held hostage becoming resistant to outside help and offering loyalty toward their captor).

Ethan Hawke plays American ex-con Lars Nystrom who strolls into a bank in Stockholm one day with guns, taking a few of the staff hostage and demanding the release of his old crime-partner who is in prison. He lets the public go and starts to negotiate with the police whilst forming some kind of bond as time goes on with Bianca Lind (Noomi Rapace), she, also clearly falling for her captor. He is portrayed as a man somewhere between hippy and redneck, fruit-loop and softie!

The authorities get his mate Gunnar from prison and deliver him to the bank, a deal being done en route to give him his freedom if he resolves the situation with no deaths - which he can't reveal to Lars, but which is revealed to the audience pretty soon. He's basically a 'plant' and we're able to follow his journey as he wrestles with his conscience, friend of Lars but looking after his own future. Gunnar is played by Mark Strong (1917, Zero Dark Thirty, 6 Days) with mystery, level-headedness and confusion dealing with his dilemma.

The standoff continues as events unfold with plans and counter-plans, strategies and maneuvers on both sides to outwit the other. The policeman in charge wanting to be ruthless but without being able to quite get there is played excellently by Christopher Heyerdahl but the acting awards for me must go to the two leads. I'll say nothing more of the plot now in case you don't know the story and would like to enjoy the film as a thriller.

Ethan Hawke and Noomi Rapace completely steal the show - it's hard to fault either of them in this film or much else they do. I was bowled over by Rapace's performance in The Secrets We Keep, Angel of Mine and The Girl Who... series. She's so very convincing and can apparently turn her talent to any project thrown at her. Hawke, similarly - loved his performances over the years in the likes of the Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight trilogy, Snow Falling on Cedars and as far back as A Midnight Clear. The chemistry between them beautifully reflects the film's theme and story.

The rest of the cast are strong too, even in the understated roles. Bea Santos plays the other staff female Klara nicely, and Ian Matthews, the other main policeman involved. The setting is pretty much all inside the bank and thoughts of Dog Day Afternoon spring to mind as the audience becomes sympathetic, the more they get to know the likeable characters - how soft they are - and executing a misguided action, but with a cause, so not so ruthless as career robbers.

There's a back-story going on about Bianca's husband and two kids as she starts to realise that Lars is much more the kind of man that she would prefer to be with over her personality-devoid and weak husband. There's also a soft side to Lars on display and which comes out as she discovers that he'd shown sympathy and help to another captor in a previous bank job. It's full of passion and connection and yes, chemistry, which was similarly present so strongly between Hawke and Julie Delpy in Before Sunset. 

I'm not sure how much of it is really true to the facts of what happened, but even if they meander off on a path here, it's a great film, good entertainment and a terrific central performance by the two leads. It's on Amazon Prime, so do give it a go.

Tuesday 26 October 2021

Marshall Stockwell II

In July 2018 I got round to eventually reviewing the Marshall Stockwell Bluetooth Speaker here on my Blog and it's taken me just as long to get round to reviewing the unit's successor, the Stockwell II. I got here in the end!

The newer version is actually quite different physically as it places the the two speakers out the front and back instead of left and right, front-facing. Sounds odd, but actually it seems to work quite well as I'll try to explain later! These units are for casual use with the emphasis on getting as much of the signature Marshall bass-boom sound as possible whilst retaining a small enough unit for people to carry - and enough power to last the day, out and about.

Physical knobs and controls are one of the reasons some of us flock back to Marshall gear and here it feels like they have supplied the best of both worlds. The signature design and nostalgic functionality alongside some modern features. I say some, because this is not a connected speaker for anything beyond Bluetooth or 3.5mm input. So no WiFi for anything (including OTA updates), Alexa (thank goodness) or Google Assistant here!

Where Marshall have dragged things into the 20's though is with Bluetooth 5, so connecting to multiple feed devices, USB-C charging and a smart LED Battery indicator up-top. There's a pairing button to the left of the knobs which facilitates that function quickly and efficiently and the USB-C charging enables just that, with any old cable you have hanging around (obviously USB-C ones)! You can also use the battery in the unit to charge another device - so out and about with a mobile phone, it can be used as a powerbank as the USB-C works for power in or out.

The battery is not the quickest to charge at around 5 hours from flat but does offer a quick blast if needed, 20 minutes giving 6 hours of playtime. Marshall claim 20 hours of playback per charge, but in my testing here it's more than that. More like 30 - but then it depends how loud you're playing it, I guess. Maybe full volume for 20 hours would kill it. My neighbours won't appreciate me testing that!

Before I get to the sound, a word more about design and features. Those three knobs at the top are an absolute delight in a world where everything's push-button, capacity, touch-this and touch-that. Here we have a volume knob with off/on round to the left, bass in the middle, treble on the right, all with clear white position-markers on their top and 0-10 around the base. The knobs are slightly 'cone' shaped as they go up with rubberised grips around the edges. The resistance as you turn them is just right - not too firm, not too loose.

I have the black version which comes with a leather removable carry-strap, lined inside with red velvety stuff - so classy! The casing is made from the same solid material which their amplifiers are made from, which makes the unit near-indestructible, but also quite heavy - apparently 1.38Kg - with an IPX4 water-resistance rating (so not a dunking, but rain shower/splashes). It feels hefty and looks rugged, especially with the metal grille going down the front side and 'Marshall' in the middle, with the same on the back (only in black, not chrome).

Anyway, enough drooling, onto the sound! Plugging in a source via the 3.5mm audio-in or Bluetooth, the net result is pretty much the same with variations depending on the user's source device and material, but it's powerful and bass-orientated as you might expect. Testing here with various output devices, leaving any equalisation flat and just using the knobs for adjustment. The bass makes the speaker pulsate, even when set to zero! Wind it up and it blasts out the beats shaking anything it is touching!

Keeping this in perspective, no, of course it's no huge cabinet speaker - after all, it's a small, portable speaker for carrying around and enjoying on the move. It's perfectly good enough to fill a bedroom for volume, not a source of music at a party or larger gathering. More of a personal or small-group sound-source. Having said that, it's the loudest and most powerful-sounding speaker I have here (and I have a good few in the size/class).

I should explain that the speakers inside the unit are one 10W class D amplifier for the woofer and two 5W Class D amps for each tweeter which somehow work together to offset the fact that the sound is coming out back and front of the unit. Marshall claim that the tech creates a multi-directional sound which is still stereo but in some way defies the space around it, not depending on where the listener happens to sit in relation to the unit. Something to do with Marshall having progressed Alan Blumlein's principles of stereo, separating-out and projecting all around. So "...a specially created 'Blumlein Stereo Sound' system that improves multi-directional performance by separating spatial content, then reassembling it".

I have to admit to being a bit lost here as I don't really understand the physics of what's going on. If I place the unit side-on in front of my nose, I can clearly hear two channels of stereo, one in each ear, but as it's moved away, that effect becomes disproportionately lessened but a soundstage of sorts is created. However, the stereo thing with such a small table-top unit probably isn't worth worrying about as much as the general sound in the space - and this is excellent. I'll go and do the physics degree later! All I care about is that it sounds great wherever I place the unit and wherever I move around it, or move it to! A good position is a coffee table or breakfast bar island. You get the idea!

Marshall don't have to do much, I'll admit, to sell me on their gear, but this speaker has done great service for me since I picked it up. The USB-C in/out is really bringing Marshall up to the minute, the battery is fabulous for the size of the device - as is the sound and booming bass. The design and physical controls are a delight and, as you can see here, I find it hard to fault this unit in any way!

On release two or three years back it was £219 but you can now buy the Black and Brass version from AmazonUK currently as I write for £159 which is an absolute steal for anyone who wants to just listen. And enjoy music. Instead of being bugged by Alexa, Siri or any other pesky so-called smart interruptions!

Abigail (2024)

A bunch of lowly hoods are brought together in the typical nobody-knows-each-other style, not supposedly sharing anything about themselves, ...