The Affordable Driveway & Landscape Company Review

Good work but very unprofessional regarding payments.

My neighbour commisioned repair of a shared fence. I agreed to contribute costs of half the panels.

I had not communicated at all to the landscaper. When the job was complete my neighbour said at 14:45

So I’m happy to pay. There is no issue here at all. An invoice was received by email at 15:01 (I’m in meeting so I didn’t see the email)

Then I get a phone call fifteen minutes later – the guy is kicking off at me right away. “What’s the problem? Why havent you paid?” This is the first time I have had any communication from this company. I’m like “Don’t speak to me like this” . He’s says “I don’t have time for this”. We hang up on each other. I text them:

And that is my experience of the Affordable Driveway and Landscape Company ltd.

They need to do yoga or something. Work is good though reportedly. .


A.P. Chemist – Alphega Pharmacy – Colliers Wood – Unchecked Prescription

My mum uses this chemist for her prescriptions. Hopefully this will change soon. Why?

Well they messed up her prescription and gave her triple strength tablets – 300mg instead of 100mg.


Note the empty box on the bottom left means the prescription was not checked.

My sister returned the prescription and they apologised, but giving elderly people the wrong medicine/dosage is a serious matter. Although my mum doesn’t like a fuss , the rest of us would like to make a formal complaint so the matter does not get swept under the carpet.  Now this chemist , seems to have ‘form’. As soon as my sister posted about this in a community facebook group several people chimed in with similar experiences:




Anyway, despite mum not wanting a fuss, I think someone needs to get their backside kicked. A hurried apology is not good enough.  So we’re looking at the procedure for making a formal complaint against a dispensing chemist. Some suggestions/options so far:

  • The National Pharmacy Association. This looks like a trade body. My experience is trade bodies really don’t care about customer complaints against their members. Their members are their customers not us.
  • The General Pharmaceutical Council look promising. But their complaints page is down at the moment…

Also there were many comments suggesting that they are slow to fill prescriptions – something my mum commented they day before she spotted this, and recommending other chemists (eg  Lloyds in Sainsbury’s and Boots in the Tandem centre.).

Finally , a few of the staff just seem to be a combination of rude or indifferent.  On my last visit I was the only customer and went up to the till. The lady behind the till was doing something and did not even look up and acknowledge me for about 20 seconds. It sounds petty writing it down now, but that really annoys me. My sister also related they had completed my dad’s prescription while she was waiting in the shop, left them on the counter, but did not even bother to tell her it was ready.








I’m pretty sure at least two pharmacists should check

Openelec NFS Performance

Ensure nfs is mounted using rsize wsize options /storage/gen8/tv nfs rw,noatime,vers=3,rsize=32768,wsize=32768,namlen=255,hard,nolock,proto=udp,port=2049,timeo=7,retrans=3,sec=sys,local_lock=all,addr= 0 0 /storage/gen8/completed nfs rw,noatime,vers=3,rsize=32768,wsize=32768,namlen=255,hard,nolock,proto=udp,port=2049,timeo=7,retrans=3,sec=sys,local_lock=all,addr= 0 0 /storage/gen8/movies nfs rw,noatime,vers=3,rsize=32768,wsize=32768,namlen=255,hard,nolock,proto=udp,port=2049,timeo=7,retrans=3,sec=sys,local_lock=all,addr= 0 0

Pans for induction hob – is Tri-Ply / 3ply worth it ?

So I’ve just got an induction hob and need a new pan set. I generally like to buy good quality but good value also. I think the “professional” consumer stuff (Le Creuset) is over priced for what it is. I went for Stellar 7000 S7C1D for £89 from Currys. The S7C7D has a 24 cm Saute Pan instead of a Milk Pan, and a smaller frying pan.

I went for pure stainless steel as it seems to me that 3 ply products are best for spreading heat that is not being applied evenly in the first place – ie heat from a gas flame. So I didn’t see the point in paying a premium , as Induction applies heat evenly to the base.

Traditionally Stainless steel is considered sub-optimal for cooking as it does not conduct heat as well, but it looks good. Copper and Aluminium are generally better with an external heat source. However as induction creates heat evenly on the base of the pan – this is not so relevant is it?

It would be interesting to find out how far up the sides of the pan dies the induction heating effect travel? As that would determine whether there is any advantage in getting pans with more heat conductive sides ?

Signia Primax px7 Hearing Aids from SpecSavers

First week with these HAs and I’m liking them so far. I went for this model because I’m fairly social and my existing aids struggle in noisy conditions. Also, with some additional gadgetry, I can stream audio . from my phone/PC directly to my HAs.

I bought a pair from Specsavers in April 2017 for £2795. This is a very competitive price as they were averaging about £3200 a pair on line.   Specsavers also sell the EasyTek Streamer and TV Transmitter package for £400 , this is where you should shop around as I picked up the easyTek online for £280 and also got a simple BlueTooth Audio receiver/transmitter – TaoTronics TT-BA07 from Amazon for about £25.

When the audiologist sets up the hearing programs I got the Streaming Audio program added – but dont expect to be blown away by music quality – this is really all about speech for me.

Make sure to get the eCharger/deHumidfier free from specsavers as this would cost £87 otherwise.

Linux Mint without X – Headless

Ubuntu Headless

sudo vi /etc/default/grub
[sudo] password for lordy:
lordy@gen8 ~ $ sudo update-grub
Generating grub configuration file …
Warning: Setting GRUB_TIMEOUT to a non-zero value when GRUB_HIDDEN_TIMEOUT is set is no longer supported.
Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-4.4.0-53-generic
Found initrd image: /boot/initrd.img-4.4.0-53-generic
Found memtest86+ image: /boot/memtest86+.elf
Found memtest86+ image: /boot/memtest86+.bin
lordy@gen8 ~ $ sudo systemctl enable –force
lordy@gen8 ~ $ sudo systemctl set-default
Created symlink from /etc/systemd/system/ to /lib/systemd/system/
lordy@gen8 ~ $

To undo

sudo systemctl set-default -f

Network Scanner 



Teamview doesnt install cleanly without a GUI. (even via SSH/X) . so try following

sudo teamviewer passwd YOUR PASSWRD'
sudo teamviewer daemon enable
sudo teamviewer license
sudo teamviewer --info | grep ID

Hearing Aids SpecSavers Advance Elite 816 / Super 616 vs Siemens Signia Primax Pure 5px/7px Comparison

[Edit I started this blog post to collate some information on the SpecSavers Advance range – so I can compare the Super against the Elite, and also see how they compared to Signia/Siemens. My requirements include social environments, cycling, and listening to sat nav, phone and computer streaming etc – as I dug deeper I decided that I really should just go for the Primax 7px … ]

As technology changes and we become more technology literate, I think there will be increasing demand from some customers to know more about the technical features and capabilities of their hearing aids. At the moment SpecSavers go for a simple option. You can have:

  • good
  • better
  • best

If you want any more details you have to discuss with the audiologist. I’ve never spent so much money on something (£2,000) and been told so little about it. Also the audiologist will understandably use the simplest broadest terms describing features in a fairly generic way. While this is approach is ideal for some, for me I still had more questions. But being a fairly reflective person I tend to think of them as soon as I’ve walked out of the session.. Wireless/Bluetooth Streaming option? directional microphones? , I want to know as much as possible.

For example, I neglected to mention that I am a keen cyclist, so my audiologist recommended the best HA based on the needs that I communicated at the time. However as soon as finally I saw the spec sheet of the next model up, I realised the advanced Wind Cancellation could be quite important to me.

The information below focuses on my requirements. Yours may be different. I have moderate bilateral high frequency hearing loss , and use open domes. I want to upgrade from my NHS BTE (Siemens Octiv M) to RIC. I want :

  • Digital streaming of phone audio (ideally without addons)
  • Digital streaming of computer audio
  • advanced directional procession for noisy environments
  • good performance in wind (when cycling)

Below is the full spec sheet which is correct for April 2017. If you have trouble reading the scans below – I also have the specs of the of the hearing aids they are based on. read on …

Note that SpecSavers have 3 different models they call Elite. The SpecSavers Model Numbers are 3 digits. The middle digit indicates the Manufacurer. 1=Siemens 2 = Starkey 3 = Phonak. The Siemens models I was considering are:

  • Specsavers Advance 616
  • Specsavers Advance 816

The specifications are below in the 1st and 3rd columns. Subject to change – this was correct as of April 2017.

[Click for larger image]


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SpecSavers – Siemens or Rexton? Does it matter?

This is confusing.

Siemens brand and Rexton hearing aids are owned by the same company. Sivantos.

Sivantos is basically the new name for the umbrella company Siemens Audiology Solutions.

Rexton is a sister company of Siemens. So technically, at present – Rexton hearing aids are made by Siemens.

The Siemens branded and Rexton hearing aid ranges are not the same and are pitched at different market segments in this order:

  • Signia
  • Siemens (this brand name is being gradually phased out and becoming Signia)
  • Rexton

In fact in the UK – the Siemens Primax 7 is also called the Signia Primax 7. Also Rexton hearing aids are manufactured by Siemens.

Do Specsavers Advance have the same technology as Siemens Branded Hearing Aids ?

NO! In the UK , SpecSavers order their hearing aids from Siemens UK, so my experience is that some audiologists will swear blind that the Advance line are identical in programming to Siemens HA but with a few external differences. This is not true. The Specsavers Advanced line manufactured by Siemens is bases on Rexton technology NOT Siemens technology.  They do have same or similar hardware but the programming(software) is different. For example SpecSavers Advance 816/616 have Rexton QuadCore technology (you can see the logo in the scans above), this is just a generic marketing term for certain features primarily Audio Exchange.  Siemens branded hearing aids,  have a different Audio Exchange technology called SmartHearing.

Regarding the Primax there are some sub-categories:

  • Primax Ace – Very small RIC
  • Primax Pure – Wireless capability RIC
  • Primax Motion – Large BTE
  • Primax Insio – Custom ITE

Primax Pure vs SpecSavers 816/616

I am primarily interested in comparing the Primax Pure against the SpecSavers 816/616.

Now that we know Specsavers 816/616 are really Rexton HAs we have more information so can do a better comparison.  There is some overlap in performance between the Signia and Rexton brands. Some Rexton hearing aids will be ‘better’ on paper, than some Siemens hearing aids. However you will find that The general consensus online is that Rexton is the economy Siemens or the ‘second-line’ Siemens.

Here is a purely technical review of the Primax 7px.

With that in mind , we can compare the SpecSavers specifications against the Rexton specs  and it seems fairly obvious that:

  • SpecSavers Advance Super 616 = Rexton Emerald S 60 4c
  • SpecSavers Advance Elite 816 = Rexton Emerald S 80 4c
Model Advance Super 616 Advance Elite 816
SpecSavers Cost

(Own brand)

£1695 £1995
Badged Rexton Emerald S 60 4c Rexton Emerald S 80 4c
Similar Siemens/Signia Primax 5 Siemens/Signia Primax 7
SpecSavers Cost


£2495 £2795
Typical Online Cost(*) £2695 £3295

(*) Price-wise, we should be careful not to compare SpecSavers prices with for example online prices – as SpecSavers have bricks-n-mortar outlets with Audiologists available by appointment. Prices are better compared with other hearing centres. Having said that , SpecSavers are still very competitive on the main hearing aids. However, I suspect both the Hearing and Vision departments have a similar business model of discounted big ticket items with mark-up on the accessories.


There are two apps:

Connexx Smart Remote App, which allows the user to use their smart phone as a remote control

Connexx Smart Connect App which is compatible with the optional Connexx Smart Connect accessory.


I’ve been told that the Elite can stream directly to a smart phone but the Super requires the Smart Connect. I suspect it can only stream directly to iPhone (spit!)  and not Android but I’ll find out soon. Note SpecSavers sell the Smart Connect Bundle for £400 which is the Smart Connect plus the TV Streamer. Some online sites may offer the Smart Connect cheaper on its own, but my local Spec Savers said they would charge me £79 to connect it (charming!). That brings be neatly on to the next subject …

Now hear is wher it gets complicated – Currently Siemens supply NHS. My current NHS aids are Octiv M which do not have wireless capability – however they are likely to be upgraded soon. If I get a wireless Siemens aid then it will not work with the Specsavers Smart Connect.

SpecSavers Lock-In

The SpecSavers hearing aid is locked, and can only be programmed by SpecSavers. However they have a strong nationwide high street presence  – this might be a risk worth taking. Again , the accessory mark-up is something to keep an eye on if locked in. Also Quality of service can very from branch to branch.

Now we have some more information , we can compare more closely against the nearest Siemens equivalent. Based on the feature sets, my decision factors are:

  • If money is no object : Primax 7
  • If I don’t mind SpecSavers lock in : Advance Elite
  • I decide I really hate the though of being locked to SpecSavers :  Primax 5
  • If I want to use privately bought accessories with NHS Siemens aids : Primax 5 or Primax 7

To search for reviews on the Advance Elite:  The Emerald S is considered to be similar to the Costco Kirkland Signature 7.0 (The KS 6.0 is a completely different hearing aid by another company  Resound). Some information on the KS 7.0 is here. However to me the KS 7.0 looks like the Rexton Emerald 6 on account of the ‘TrueCore’ (rather than ‘QuadCore). Still reviews will give some insight into Rexton hearing aids generally..

As an IT enthusiast, the “lock-in” thing sits really badly with my spirit. miniTeSo I’m paying the extra £700 to go with

Siemens Pure Primax – Ideal Hearing

Rexton Emerald – Ideal Hearing

Linux RDP Settings – xfreerdp


kb=”/kbd:0x00000452″ # United Kingdom Extended

cmd=”/usr/bin/xfreerdp $clipboard $domain $user /v:WINSHOSTNAME $size $sound $kb $mutlmedia $microphone +fonts /bpp:32 ”
echo $cmd


Fabian Toilet Seat Replacement B&Q

Not th most exciting topic , but I recently found out that the contemporary bog I bought from B & Q (Cooke & Lewis Fabian) is not sold anymore, and they even stopped selling replacement seats. It gets better, it’s a fairly non-standard size in toilet land, so it’s almost impossible to get a replacement seat. I eventually found the EuroShowers V20  (also sold by Choice Toilet Seat Shop who somehow make it look like their own brand. But it was thier informative website that gave me the confidence to order it. It’s also available on Amazon So how does it look? Not bad – a little too wide  towards the back  but better than having a seat that is the correct size but knackered!