Year: 2014

November 27, 2014

A few weeks back, I spent a very pleasant Sunday afternoon attending a Harmony Singing Workshop at Bishop Grosseteste University, in Lincoln. The workshop had been arranged by my friend Annie, and apart from her, her husband, Tim, and their daughter; it was going to…

November 25, 2014

I use Amazon a lot – for Kindle books, for CDs and DVDs, for gadgets; and sometimes even for unexpected stuff like really excellent flour from Welsh watermills. But lately I have been thinking that Amazon isn’t so deserving of my business; from its employment…

November 23, 2014

When I first got my original (shop-bought) YouView box, I thought it was pretty brilliant, but the there was the inevitable complaints how it didn’t have stuff like YouTube, NetFlix and LoveFilm. YouView’s answer to this was that they were open to new content partners,…

November 17, 2014

Something like 8 years ago, I bought an AXL ThinAmp DSP10 – a portable battery-powered amplifier. At the time I was making a lot of use of my guitar-synth; which works, of course, if you can plug it into something. As most of the places…

November 3, 2014

The weekend before last, I noticed something strange about my Nexus 10 tablet. The centre of the screen looked grubby. I’d actually noticed this a little a few weeks before, but had assumed it was the light, or some fingermarks on the surface. But no,…

October 15, 2014
September 12, 2014

Returning to my “cheapest” stick dulcimer, I had a surprise tonight. As long as I have played guitar I have used standard-style hard plastic picks, either in light or medium – although I sometimes use extra light on the 12-string. When I got my first…

August 20, 2014

In January, I treated myself to a stick dulcimer from HiGuitarsUK.

A stick dulcimer, aka a Strum Stick or Strumstick, is a 3 stringed instrument, based on the mountain or Appalachian dulcimer, but made to be held and played like a guitar, rather than a lap instrument. They come in all different qualities and price ranges, but this was my birthday present to myself, so I went for a luthier-crafted high-end model, costing me 170 quid.

I’ve had a lot of pleasure out of it, and it’s turned into a minor obsession with me. So last week when I noticed a couple of other stick dulcimers on eBay, I decided to float a minimum bid. To my surprise, I got both.

So I am now the owner of 3 stick dulcimers, of varying quality. So I thought it would be a nice idea to compare them. These are the three instruments, from left to right: My birthday dulcimer from HiGuitarUK (£170); Smokey Mountain Dulcimer (£51); Strumstick by D G Clemson (£49).

August 10, 2014

I’ve had a Tenori-On for a couple of years, now: the cheap “Orange” one, made of plastic; not the metal framed “White” version. After an initial period when I couldn’t put it down, I soon found myself disappointed that the volume of the device was…

July 1, 2014

I’ve just finished watching From Dusk Till Dawn, the TV series, on Netflix. I was a great fan of the original film (but not the sequel/prequel), so I couldn’t help but check out the series. However, I had severe misgivings, only tempered by the fact that Robert Rodriguez, the director of the film (and so many other wonderful things) had a directing credit on the series.

I have to say that I enjoyed it sufficiently to watch all 10 episodes. However, my misgivings were largely justified.

Big spoilers for both film and series follow.

May 19, 2014

When something happens that you find irritating, it is even more irritating if, when you think about it, it shouldn’t really be irritating. Yesterday, I needed to make a quick trip to B&Q, my local DIY store. While there, my eye was caught by some…

February 11, 2014

On the subject of my car replacement, again; when it came to buying the new car, my easily-available savings fell short of the price by a couple of grand. I could have possibly put the difference on my credit card, but instead I decided to…