Repair Cafés – now there’s even less reason to throw something away

Repair Cafe

Manufacturers are deliberately making household items have a limited lifespan. The reason? To make you buy more. But now there’s a new method of saving this items from the scrapyard: Repair Cafés.

Repair Cafés originated in Amsterdam-West and bring professionals and amateurs together to fix things which would normally be thrown out. From Xbox remote controls to Microwave vans, if it can be fixed, it will be.

How Repair Cafés work

Free Repair Cafés are usually advertised in advance and may be held at a local school, community hall and even church. Professionals such as engineers and electricians volunteer their time to help people repair broken items where possible.

The tools are usually provided at the sessions (people are also encouraged to bring their own).

Coordinators will usually match volunteers and members to ensure that people are paired to the correct person to help them.

What can be repaired at a Repair Café?

Well, that’s up to you! Pretty much anything can be repaired including car parts, lamps, computer equipment, boiler parts, TV’s, pretty much anything.

In fact, one Repair Café in Palo Alto, California, claim that there repair rate is around 70% with over 2.000 items being tackled to date.

Teaching new skills

As well as repairing items, Repair Cafés work to help teach people new skills such as how to solder and how to use a multimeter. The can also help to improve problem-solving skills.

Social cohesion

By bringing together different people with different backgrounds, experiences and ages, Repair Cafés help to form social cohesion, especially when they are conducted in local communities.

In addition, the cafés help to instil a feeling of satisfaction and pride.

Helping the environment

Waste is one of the biggest issues facing mankind. The fact is that dispute increased in recycling across the Western world, we still throw far too much away on a global level.

Not only do we throw to much away, but the waste can often end up in poorer countries, polluting waterways and damaging the people who are forced to informally recycle the waste to pay for food. It is not uncommon in poorer countries for people to be put at risk of mercury poisoning and some forms of cancer from the chemicals and gases released during informal recycling.

Where can I find out more about Repair Cafés in my area?

Repair Cafés are a relatively new concept in the UK and events are still very limited. As more people become aware of these events the numbers are expected to increase.

Maybe one day I’ll put together a free website for people to advertise their sessions…if you think this would be worthwhile then get in touch. With enough interest I’d be happy to oblige.

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Fiverr error: ‘This file type is not supported. Please try one of the following: MP4, MOV, QUICKTIME’

If you’re trying to upload a video to our Fiverr gallery, but are receiving an error saying ‘This file type is not supported. Please try one of the following: MP4, MOV, QUICKTIME‘, and you know your video is already in the correct format, there’s a quick fix.

Browser problems

I received this error when using the Mozilla Firefox browser. It seems that the browser hasn’t been completely tested by the Fiverr.com team, and even if you use the right file format, you can still get the ‘This file type is not supported. Please try one of the following: MP4, MOV, QUICKTIME‘ error.

The answer is to try a different browser. I downloaded Chrome and found the video uploaded with no problem.

So if you’re getting this error and you’re using Firefox, try Chrome.

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Ofcom ruling on Openreach is good news for Consumers and Small Businesses

The Ofcom ruling on Openreach is good news for consumers and small businesses, as the regulator announced that BT has consistent failed to offer competition in the high speed broadband sector.

Openreach, which is currently owned by BT, is responsible for fitting an maintaining the majority of the UK’s high speed broadband infrastructure. The company has been told for over two years to strengthen its independence from BT to provide more competition for other suppliers of broadband product.

 

Praise from BT’s competitors

The news has been praised by BT’s competitors including TalkTalk and Sky, companies which have complained for many years that BT and it’s subsidiaries have been provided preferential treatment over competitors.

In a statement, Ofcom said that is was pushing for a legal seperations between Openreach and BT “after BT failed to offer voluntary proposals that address our competition concerns”

 

Ofcom ruling on Openreach is good news for Consumers and Small Businesses

Consumers and Small businesses across the UK have complained for many years about the poor level of service provided by Openreach, and whilst main cities and towns have benefited from acceptable speeds, many consumers and companies working in more rural areas have been receiving less speeds than 2mb.

The increase in on demand technology is already seeing traditional technologies such as satellite and DAB being put aside for downloadable programs. Amazon Prime and Netflix rely purely on high-speed internet to provide their services, which has left consumers with poor download speeds in the dark when it comes to using these services.

Although very much in it’s infancy, this move is a major step to insuring that Openreach does more to provide a decent high-speed internet service to people who have previously struggled to get the service they deserve, whilst ensuring competition in the sector.

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Elon Musk is a time traveller sent back from the future to save the planet

Elon Musk is a time traveller sent back from the future to save the planet. How do I know this? Well the evidence speaks for itself.

 

He looks like a time traveller

Take a look at his face. It’s very clearly made of a synthetic material, just like the Terminator. The complexion is almost identical to a cross between a Terminator and the Gunslinger Yul Brynner from Westworld.

 

He suddenly arrived in America at the age of 19 having never been heard of before

No one knows anything about Musk before he turned 19 and arrived at the University of Pennsylvania. Elon Musk claims to have been educated in South Africa until the age of 19, but there is absolute no evidence to support this that I have bothered to try and find.

 

He has the name of a time traveller

‘Elon Musk’. Say that name a few times in your head, very slowly. When in the history before this man have you every heard a name so for a time traveller? Clearly a code name.

 

Elon Musk has invented stuff that even Albert Einstein didn’t

Everyone knows this. Elon Musk invented PayPal – Einstein didn’t. Musk also invented a completely electric vehicle. When did you ever heard Einstein talk of such a radical thing?

This is proof that, unlike Einstein, Musk has been sent from the future to help mankind reduce fossil fuel emission and make the world clean, thus saving the planet and making it better for the future. Musk is clearly much cleaverer than Einstein and makes real things, not just stupid theories which anyone can make up if they are boring enough.

 

He has his time machine hidden in a cave

Elon Musk must have a time machine hidden away somewhere, and my guess it that it’s in a cave, a bit like Batman, but real.

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Toshiba CB30 Chromebook screen replacement

Toshiba CB30 Chromebook screen replacement

It’s very easy to carry out a Toshiba CB30 Chromebook screen replacement, and definitely one of the easiest to do. In fact, it’s so simple that even a novice tech can accomplish it.

You only need two tools – a sharp knife and a mini Philips screwdriver. You can buy a replacement screen cheaply here.

Once you’ve gathered together your tools and replacement screen, follow these instructions. There also a Toshiba CM30 Chromebook Screen replacement video at the end of the blog to guide you through the Toshiba CB30 Chromebook screen replacement step-by-step:

  1. Power of the CB30 by holding down the power button for 10 seconds
  2. Carefully remove the grey sticky screw covers on the bottom bezel
  3. Undo the two Phillips screws
  4. Carefully undo the bezel by prizing it off using a sharp knife – it should ‘click’ off
  5. Once the bezel is removed, undo the 4 Phillips screws holding the screen in place
  6. Fold the screen down on the keyboard by pulling the top away from you
  7. Carefully remove the sticky take from the ribbon connection on the base of the screen and unplug it
  8. Reassemble in reverse order.

Here’s the video guide:

 

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Build a 12v solar charger system for camping, a caravan, or a shed

A solar charger is now even more cost effective to build as you may think. 6 years ago I looked into adding a solar charger for the 12v side of our old caravan but the panels were quite expensive back then, as was the equipment to set the system up. Thankfully solar has become even more popular now and prices have really come down, meaning that you can buy a 10 watt panel for under £20 and a charge control unit for less than £10.

 

Use your solar charger system in a camping, a caravan, or a shed

The great thing about 12v systems is that they’re really easy to set up with a little bit or research and these low voltage circuits can be used almost anywhere that you can’t find mains electricity.

I’ve seen them used in caravans, in the desert and in dense forest. You can plan the battery in a toolbox, the control unit on the site and the panel on the top. You can fit the panel to the top of an allotment shed, in a works trailer or as a back-up power supply in a camper. With the right batteries and a big enough solar panel you can also use a power inverter to convert 12 volt DC to 110/230 volt AC.

 

What you’ll need:

  • Knowledge in wiring up 12v circuits and understanding of currents
  • A 12v lead acid battery (deep cycle is better for this but a car battery will suffice)
  • Some cable (13 amp will suffice unless you’re pulling high amperage)
  • A solar panel (10w minimum)
  • A charge controller unit (vital)
  • Some fuse connectors (ignore if you already have fitted fuses) and electrical connectors
  • Some battery terminal connectors
  • Some hand tools including a Philips screwdriver, wire cutter and crimpers

 

Wiring the solar circuit

It’s vital that you use a solar charger controller in this system. If you don’t, you’re going to end up putting well over 14v into your battery at times which will eventually kill it. A charge controller regulates the amount of power going into the battery to prevent overcharging (I set mine at 13.6v). Do not skip this important bit of equipment,

The charge controller will require wiring in a specific way. This is usually (but not always) carried out by connecting the battery first, followed by the solar panel and then finally the accessory output of the controller (if used). Your controller will provided specific instructions on how to do this. Here’s the basic layout:

schematic-wiring-charge-controller

 

You’ll notice if you check the panel output with a voltmeter when not connected to the battery that the voltage will be over 17 volts. Don’t expect that to continue as the voltage will drop once you at the load (resistance) of the battery.

My video below explains how this is done in more detail. Note that I used a controller with 5v USB outputs for easy charging of my phone. This system could be made portable by placing the battery and controller in a waterproof box and then mounting the panel on top of the box. Ideal for wild camping where no source of mains electricity is available and all made for under £27.

 

What’s the best solar panel?

This is open to debate and the quality of panels varies. There are certainly a lot of cheap and nasty products out there but it’s a case of going for the largest wattage you can afford; the more watts produced the faster your battery will charge.

I recommend 10 watt minimum and if you can afford it an 80 watt panel. You can also add more batteries to increase capacity.

 

 

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How to descale a Nescafe Dolce Gusto coffee machine

How to descale a Nescafe Dolce Gusto

Finding information on how to descale a Nescafe Dolce Gusto machine on the official website is pretty lacking. The Dolce Gusto website only refers to the newer machines (with the water preset on the top) but most people are finding it near on impossible to do the same for the slightly older machines. In addition, the instructions which come with the official descaler kit are less than easy to understand.

To try to make things easier for owners of Nescafe Dolce Gusto coffee machines to descale them, I’ve created a video on how to descale a Nescafe Dolce Gusto which walks you through step-by-step. It covers:

  • using the official Nescafe Dolce Gusto descaling kit
  • using white vinegar as an alternative to chemicals
  • problems which can occur with the machine being blocked
  • unblocking a Nescafe Dolce Gusto machine
  • using the fitted pin to unblock the Nescafe Dolce Gusto machine (where fitted)
  • flushing the machine
  • adding the official Nescafe Dolce Gusto descaling kit

The video also demonstrate a official Nescafe Dolce Gusto descaling kit which you may be interested in purchasing.

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Why It’s Important to Limit Your Child’s Screen Time

limit your child's screen time

There is more and more evidence emerging that you need to limit your child’s screen time to help them grow into more rounded, better behaved people. As a parent of two children and someone who has been a keen follower of technology I always been conscious of the benefits and pitfalls that technology can offer to children.

Before I get started I should say that I am an avid supporter of how technology can assist children in their development both at school and at home. On the other side of that coin I’m always aware of how addictive and damaging too much of the wrong technology can be. I have witnessed children develop behavioural and physical problems due technology being used as a babysitter or because parents simply didn’t understand the effect it was having on their children.

 

Social skills can be damaged

There are some parents who believe that allowing their child to talk for hours to groups of friends via Xbox Live or on messaging services such as WhatsApp is making them more sociable. Now I’m not a parent who thinks that’s totally untrue, after all, there’s no different to letting someone talk on the telephone or write a note. But what seems to become and increasingly pattern is the hours and hours spent communicating in this way, sometimes with children in the same room sending else other SMS messages rather than speaking.

Social skills come from more than just talking. People communicated with facial expression thousands of years before they developed language.

limit your child's screen time

Technology can be negatively addictive

There are countless reports, tests, papers and stories that support the belief that technology is addictive. I’ve seen this in my own children. Take away the tablet computer and the response has sometimes be unreasonable – feet stamping, shouting, etc. They turn into what is commonly being referred to as a Gadget Gremlin.

In September 2014, in the first reported case of internet addiction disorder involving the problematic use of Google Glass, it was reported that a 31-year-old worked in the US Navy, who had been checked in to the Navy’s Substance Abuse and Recovery Program (SARP) had began to display negative behaviour when he wasn’t using Glass. He had used the device for up to 18 hours a day in his job and when he wasn’t able to use it he became aggressive in behaviour and irritable. The man would regularly and involuntary tap his temple. When questioned more deeply about why he was tapping his head he said it was to switch on the heads-up display on his Glass.

It should be noted that the gentleman in question also suffered from other psychological problems including substance induced hypomania overlaying a depressive disorder. However, there was no doubt to doctors that the man was suffering from withdrawal from the device. The same happens to children, turning them into a Gadget Gremlin.

In January 2015 Google announced that is was suspending Glass, not due to issues surrounding the mental health of wearers but for marketing reasons; perhaps too much of a coincidence for some people.

Education can suffer

There is and increasing trend for schools to provide children with tablet computers to use during their lesson and whilst some applications can assist children with learning some mathematical, language and motor skills, most games are really aimed at getting them to click on adverts or buy addons such as extra lives or credits.

 

Limit your child’s screen time to improve Behaviour

When out son got his first tablet computer as a present from his Grandparents, we noticed almost immediately that his mood would become negative when the device was taken away from him, especially if this occurred unexpectedly. He also seem to exert evidence of a lack of patience.

In a 2011 study, researchers asked 1,000 college students around the world to go 24 hours without using their smartphones, other mobile devices or the Internet. Many reported symptoms such as anxiety and depression, and one anonymous student even said he or she was “itching like a crackhead” from the longing to use a phone. They were addicted to their smartphones. There have also been cases reported of children as young as 3 crying and begging for a device when it’s removed from them.

 

Imagination can be reduced

It’s shocking but it’s true: research shows that students prefer a jolt of pain to being made to sit and think. Just think about that for a minute…in fact one of the men opted for a painful electric jolt 190 times instead of sitting and thinking. If you don’t limit your child’s screen time now, you risk your child turning into one of those adults.

 

Bad language can become normal

One of the biggest problems with allowing your children access to websites such as You Tube via an un-monitored tablet computer is that it’s almost impossible to limit their access to inappropriate content. As much as such services claim to offer Safe Searching or online protection, the reality is that such websites struggle to filter content away from impressionable young people.

Basically, you can’t rely on websites to filter explicate language way from your children – it’s your responsibility. The problem is that if you fail to do this it’s likely that your child will quickly start to think that such language is normal or acceptable. If you notice your kid starting to swear and you haven’t taken steps to limit your child’s screen time then you only have yourself to blame.

 

A failure to limit your child’s screen time can affect their Posture

Look at the children in the image for this Hub – bent over, doing nothing to help their spine, back and posture. The same can be said for children bended over computer keyboards.

Sitting like this will affect children in years to come. Do you want to be responsible for that?

 

So how much screen time should my children be allowed to have?

This is an interesting question which has also been studied in some detail. However, after digging around I found the answer generally seems to be 18 hours per week maximum.

What software can I use to limit my child’s screen time?

If you’re using Microsoft products such as a Windows laptop, an Xbox or tablet, you can use the free Microsoft Family to set time restricts for each day of the week.

Users of Android and IOS might like to consider Kidslox, a service which offers free and paid for features including App Lock, Timer and Contact Blocking.

Android users can take advantage of Norton Family which is available from the Play Store in both a free and advanced (paid for) membership.

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Star Trek Enterprise Flying Drone (yes this really is a thing)

Star Trek Enterprise Flyinf Drone

Star Trek Enterprise Flying DroneThe people at Air Hogs have finally produced the ultimate flying machine – the Star Trek Enterprise Flying Drone. This aint no Nuclear Wessel.

Once the dream of many a Trekkie, the Star Trek Enterprise Flying Drone means that anyone can become the Captain of the Enterprise and take there drone where no drone has every flown before. Complete with lights and authentic sounds, the Star Trek Enterprise Flying Drone is going to be an absolute must for any Star Trek fan this Christmas.

The 1:3 scale drone, which come with 4 powerful propellers, also features a remote control unit with 4 channels and 4 bands. It’s based on the U.S.S Enterprise NCC-1701-A.

So get your cheque books out people. It’s time to beam yourself up…about 20 meters.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Recall: your rights as a Consumer

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

As news breaks that Samsung have advised all owners of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 to stop using their devices, thousands of people are left asking the question – how do I get a refund and what are my rights?

If you live in the UK, and you’re a private Consumer i.e. not a business, you are covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (previously the Sales of Goods Act). This means that customers have statutory rights enshrined in law if a product that you have purchased are of unsatisfactory quality, unfit for purpose or not as described.

The Act states very clearly that:

  • consumers have the right for a full refund if they have owned the goods for less than 30 days
  • consumers can ask for a digital product to be repaired or replaced if it develops a fault after 30 days
  • if this isn’t possible or us unsuccessful, consumers have the right to receive a price reduction

So now is the time to get onto the retailer and start asking some questions. When will I receive a replacement Samsung Galaxy Note 7? a refund? or a price reduction?

 

It’s the retailers responsibility to deal with Samsung, not yours

The Consumer Rights Act is very clear that it is the responsibility of the retailer (the company that sold you the Galaxy Note 7) to deal with the manufacturer. The retailer can’t simply palm you off by telling you to speak to Samsung direct. They sold you the phone and they have to deal with Samsung. It’s their responsibility as the retailer.

 

What is the fault with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7?

No one knows for certain and Samsung have been very tight lipped about the cause of the faults. It it known that this is the second time concerns have been raised about the devices which can set on fire. Rumours are that Samsung rushed the Galaxy Note 7 to market in an attempt to hold off competition from the iPhone 7, but there is no official statement from Samsung.

 

Should I consider buying a Samsung Note 7?

Definitely not. As of today (11/10/2016), 8% of the share-price has been knocked off of the value of Samsung. The company has a big problem and the chances are that they will discontinue the model immediately, especially after recalling a batch for a second time. It’s damage limitation time and the Note 7 needs to go…quickly. If you own a Samsung Note 7, you are now the proud owner of a very expensive paperweight. Ebay and other auction sites will be flooded with Galaxy Note 7’s in the weeks and month ahead and buying one potentially puts you at risk. However cheap the Galaxy Note S7 is, don’t be tempted. You’re literally buying a ticking time bomb.

 

Is the Galaxy S7 Edge affected?

No. At the moment the S7 Edge is not believed to have the same fault and Samsung are still selling the devices.

 

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