Electrolux UltraSilencer Review

THE ELECTROLUX ULTRASILENCER vacuum cleaner (model ZUSORIGDB+).

Silencer Head

The Machine

Silencer Head

It definitely is a very beautiful and streamlined machine, and it has a very high degree of quality feel to it.
The hose, pipe and handlebar is very good quality, makes no noise and is very comfortable to handle. The power of it is extremely good and its power adjustment works surprisingly linear.

The actual use of it, does not measure up to its visual appearance however. I think the mountpoint of the hose is to vertical and placed to long into the machine. The maneuverability of the vacuum machine is really bad. It is very hard to make it move in a straight line, and will instead tumble from side to side. Navigating though door openings is almost unlikely to happen without the vacuum machine straying of and banging into the doorframe. Very frustrating!

Silencer Head

Even more frustrating is its inability to roll over its own cord. The is actually a slim and very long cable which give very good reach around the house. I think the front wheel is made to small. Even the tiny diameter of its own cord is enough to make it scoot the cable in front of it, and one has to lift it up to clear the cable.

Good

  • Beautiful
  • Very silent
  • Extremely powerful

Bad

  • Unstable movement
  • Bad with obstacles

The Silencer Head

The silencer head is indeed very silent. When vacuuming the machine is almost inaudible. A very pleasing experience for your ears.
The suction from the head is extremely good. This will clean everything with easy, being it hardfloors, furnitures, car seats, carpets – anything!

Silencer Head

There are some serious drawbacks on the silent head though. It is not very flexible and rotates angled on the axis of the pipe. In combination of the oval pipe, which makes it impossible to turn the handle on the pipe, it is almost impossible to twist to reach under couches, low tables and other furnitures. This brings me to another negative point. The head is unusually tall, and too high to fit under my couch at all.
The excellent suction of the head, in combination with my hardwood floor makes it necessary to flip out the brushes on the head. I don’t really like this option, and never had. After a while the brushes clutter up, and just pushes dirt around instead of letting the vacuum picking it up – especially when having pets. Not a fault of this particular head, but on the old ineffective concept itself.

Good

  • Silent
  • Very good suction

Bad

  • Tall head
  • Inflexible movement

Conclusion

It definitely seems like lot of previous learned experiences have been lost, and not transferred on to new products. Or perhaps the product responsible, disregarded other considerations and focused too much on making it ultra silent before usable.
A good vacuum cleaner, but not up to expectations :-/.

Bonus

For my previous vacuum clearer I bought this slimline head, also from Electrolux. This might be the very best head I’ve ever tried. It fits under the lowest furnitures, is highly flexible in its movement, and is on four wheels for unmatched effortless movement and easy maneuvering.

Slimline Head

I use this head instead of the original. It is lifted a bit above the ground, and therefor lets air flow disperse less optimally. This gives more suction noise and reduces suction power, but in combination with the really low noise level of the vacuum machine itself, and its abundance of power, this is a really really good combination.

F1 Timing App 2013

FOR THE 2013 Formula-1 season I though I would treat my self with buying the official live timing app: ‘F1 Timing App 2013’ by Soft Pauer Limited. At season start it costed around €22 – a hole lot of money of a one season app. So I had high expectations, but I quickly discovered that the app is utterly superfluous and added zero value to the Formula-1 watching experience

The app promises the following features:
★ REAL-TIME TRACK POSITIONING ★
★ FOLLOW YOUR FAVOURITE F1 DRIVER ★
★ LIVE TIMING DATA ★
★ LIVE LEADERBOARDS ★
★ DOWNLOAD RACE PACKS ★
★ LIVE TEXT COMMENTARY ★
★ EVENT COUNTER & NOTIFICATIONS ★
★ KEEP UP TO DATE ★
★ COMPLETE FORMULA ONE ACCESS ★

The last one I don’t really know what means, but otherwise it sounds awesome. In reality only the Live Text Commentary have any grain of value (it displays some additional official insights into important events happening in the races).


The prime feature of the app is the realtime visual overview of car positions on the track.
Track Overview
It sure did sound great, but unless the race evolves into a train-set of cars, the actual overview clutters due to the overlap. And when watching the race, it isn’t really an information abstraction that is needed.


The secondary high profile feature of the app is the live timing overview.
Live Timing
This would have added great value some many years ago – before the TV transmission began showing equivalent information. You don’t need a costly app for what you can already see on the TV.



All in all, a costly app that has appalling scarce value. A lesson learned, which I will not repeat

The Word And The Void By Terry Brooks

TERRY BROOKS NOVEL series “The Word And The Void” is a trilogy telling the story of Nest Freemark and John Ross fighting the battle against evil daemons. He is not an author I’ve read anything off before, nor is the urban fantasy my favorite genre, but when I by chance discovered this trilogy collection book, I found it to look very interesting. Now I’m finished reading the three books and its was not an all positive experience.

First a short resume of the novels: Each of the three books takes places in different times in Nests and Johns life. The first book “Running with the Demon” takes place when Nest is a teenager and joins forces with John Ross to fight on the side of the Word against the daemonic world of the Void. In the second book “A Knight of the Word” John Ross can no longer carry the burden of being a sworn knight of the Word. Denouncing the knighthood is catastrophic for both John and the world, so Nest must take upon her to convince John to return to his duties. The last book is 15 years from the first encounter between Nest and John and this time they must join forces against an old and wise daemon the want the magic gypsy morph John has captured.
Elaborate summaries are available at Wikipedia.

As such the books are an interesting read. It involves dangerous daemons and creatures living in our world but seldom seen by other people that those few who got magic. It has the classic clash of outnumbered good-guys fighting the casualty filled battle against an relentless and evil enemy. But, when reading the trilogy I could not help thinking that the story is a little thin to fill its many pages. Much of the text is in-between filler stuff, with many offtrack stories that bring nothing to the general story, plus some very elaborate scene description that makes an annoying long reading in between the next few grains of valuable information or plot actions.

Two distinct features of Terry’s writing struck me time and time again. 1) He really likes to use obscure words. I’m not native English, but I almost always read English/American books in their non-translated editions, and its very seldom that I have to do a dictionary look-up of unknown words or phrases (more often when reading pre-60s books though). Looking-up the words he uses reveals that more contemporary word of the same meaning often exists. 2) He gives a very detailed description of the surrounding in which the characters are staged. Actually he spends line after line after line describing the surroundings, but it is seldom that there is any significance to this in relation to the plot.

After finishing reading the books I cannot help feeling that Terry chose poorly when selecting the main character of focus. Terry mainly writes with respect to the viewpoint of Nest Freemark, and this is a shame because the other character in the books, The Knight Of The Word (John Ross), makes for so much more an interesting character. Terry missed the opportunity of writing the story of the lone knight. A knight that didn’t really wanted to be a knight due to the high personal cost, but whom had to continue his quest in order to save the world. And save it two fold by fighting daemons in the daytime, and surviving a nighttime when the price of his magics costs him to live the night in a future where he had failed to save the world from the Void.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Five Good C++ Books

C++ BOOKS IS something I’ve read quite a few of during the years. Having learned my lesson on buying Python books, I would like to share the five C++ books I value the most, and which I would not hesitate to recommend to others. The books target audience range from absolute beginner to advanced programmer.


I learned C++ programming from the book Teach Yourself C++ in 21 Days. Everything that the book Core Python Programming does wrong, this book does right. It starts with very easy first steps and by top quality examples and well written texts, it gradually adds layer upon layer of increasingly more advanced C++ knowledge. This may in fact very well be the best, and most well written, programming book I’ve ever read (note that I got the 1994 edition, and haven’t read later updated reprints).
Target audience: beginner.
Rating: ★★★★★


No serious C++ work can be done without the C++ Standard Library. The book The C++ Standard Library: A Tutorial and Reference is a perfect combination of a tutorial and reference book (as the title also states). Don’t leave home without it.
Target audience: intermediate, advanced.
Rating: ★★★★★


The C++ book The C++ Programming Language is written by its inventor himself, Bjarne Stroustrup. I actually got this book before Teach Yourself C++ in 21 Days but this book is not suited for beginners. This is for advanced C++ understanding, and an indispensable reference book when doing serious C++ programming.
Target audience: intermediate, advanced.
Rating: ★★★★★


Having read – and understood – the books above, one might get the urge to learn some advanced techniques on templates. For that the cult book Modern C++ Design: Applied Generic and Design Patterns is highly recommendable. This relatively thin book is written precise and to the point. Even though the topics covered are advanced, the author takes great care of explaining the details. (Sadly I seldom get the opportunity of doing such C++ hacking covered in this book).
Target audience: advanced.
Rating: ★★★★★


A bit of a joker is the book The Informit C++ Reference Guide: Techniques, Insight, and Practical Advice on C++. This book is a gold mine of tips, tricks and examples spanning the entire spectrum of C++ programming – the title covers the contents pretty well. Its a very informative book that covers a lot of topics but concentrates intelligently on areas that often causes doubts. I find it a real joy to read every time.
Target audience: intermediate.
Rating: ★★★★★

Core Python Programming

I CONSIDER MYSELF at beginner level on Python programming. I’ve played with Python before at a very basic level, but my experience is, that to really learn a programming language, you have to get a book written by a writer that knows the language well. Looking around the world wide web, the Core Python Programming (2nd edition) by Wesley J. Chun came highly recommended from various Python and book review sites – so I bought it.

The book covers a lot of things. Starting with a chapter giving a quick Python tour with a page or so introduction to most aspects of the language. It then moves on to the type system, file handling, conditionals, error handling, functions and classes. Finally more advanced things as regular expressions, networking and web programming is covered.

From the above, and from its contents table, it looks like a neatly structured book, but in reality all chapters have a little of everything tossed in.

The book is presented as a book for the technical person already familiar with programming and/or students. This book tries to ride two horses at once. Many things are explained for the absolute beginner in painstakingly long stories, however the incoherent chronology of the book demands programming knowledge and is just flawed from a beginners point of view. Furthermore, a mistake constantly made in this book is the use of explaining things or showing examples with topics not covered yet. Two examples could be introducing list comprehensions and generator expression by using lambda’s and yield examples. Lambda’s and yield statements however aren’t treated until chapters later and no explanations or forward references are given. Trying to grasp Python from self studying a book, then explaining new stuff with other new non-explained stuff is just plain stupid.

Another frustrating thing of structure in this book, is how topics are scattered though out the book. A dedicated chapter exists for all topics, but it is often quite shallow. Tragedy is that almost exclusively the index only lists the dedicated chapter pages. After quite some reading in the book I had doubts whether Python supported function/method overloading. Given the dynamic type nature of Python, I would expect not – unless different amount of arguments could differentiate definitions. In the index “overloading” only exists in parentheses along side “overriding” and none of the pages listed there gives a direct answer. Reading the book cover to cover, the first direct answer I found was a tiny sentence at page 412 “Because overloading is not a feature …” in the chapter “Return Values and Function Types”. An obvious place to put such information – if you live in Bizarro World! The statement is repeated a couple of times, along with a note the functionality can be achieved by introspecting the types. For a book constantly comparing Python to C++ and Java, I find it quite a shortcoming that no example of this is given at any point.

The second time around its actually better, cos then your not absorbing introductions to new stuff, but rather exploring things, and in that situation it can sometimes be beneficiary, memory and/or inspiration wise, that other topics are tossed in the mix. What might tick you off though, if using the book more for referencing, are the suspicious lacks in some summary tables. Example: A table of special class attributes are given in chapter “Special Class Attributes” at page 524. At page 595 in a chapter “Advanced Features of New-Style Classes (Python 2.2+)” one discovers that several other special class attributes and methods were added when Python 2.2 was released back in December 2001. This renders the table at page 524 incomplete (and somewhat useless) just because the author hasn’t escaped from the past yet. The crappy index of course only lists page 524 for class attributes.

Finally, I use color markings a lot (but wisely) when reading technical books. Efficient color marking is not easy in this book. First of all, the prime sentences and points made are not clear cut and to the point, but often bloated with filler text (the book suffers badly from the well known “American book syndrome” of using many many words to tell almost nothing). Secondly the paper is very transparent. It’s not particular thin paper – just highly transparent? Yellow marking is fairly visible on the backside of the marked page – and forget about using other colors. I would have preferred the publisher had cut 10% of the [filler] words and printed the book on less transparent paper.

From the above (rant?) its obvious that I don’t like the way the book is structured. But its not all bad. Especially there are some excellent diagrams and charts in the book that give good overview and understanding; and in fairness, I did gain Python knowledge from it. It covers nearly all aspects of Python, and on completion you have a solid base for Python programming. A word of advice though if planning on using this book for self studying. If your a beginner to Python buy another book, read online tutorials, or even ask your grandmother – just don’t buy this book! If your intermediate or advanced do the same – your money would be wasted.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Peter Falk – Just One More Thing

PETER FALK IS one of my favorite actors, especially in the character of genius detective, Lieutenant Columbo.

Peter Falk Book Cover

The book Just One More Thing – Stories From My Life is the self biography of Peter Falk. It is wonderfully is written in an easy readable and informal language that is sprinkled with a lot of humor. Many photos from Peters career and life accompany the his funny anecdotes and many people he have met. Peter is a proficient artist and the book also contains prints of some painting and drawings made by Peter himself.

The book journeys from his school time to failed jobs and on to his long and active acting career. Several stories involve his glass eye that affected his in issues like war time servings and problems with getting acting gigs. What the book reflect is that Peter has lived an interesting life and that he has many many stories to tell. At the first pages he reveals that he like storytelling which is also why the book is made from many stories and anecdotes. That formula gives for interesting reading and the book gives good insight in the person, personality and rich life of Peter Falk. The book is definitely highly recommendable for fans of Peter Falk and/or the Columbo character. The Columbo character is covered in a chapter and is a great reading with many funny incidents an behind the scene informations.

A book description can be read at Amazon

Rating: ★★★★☆

Trying KDE 4 On Windows

KDE4 ON WINDOWS is a very exiting and ambitious project of the people in the KDE project. The thought of having all those wonderful KDE applications available whether I’m on my Linux box, my Mac OS X box or even my Windows XP box is very appealing, so I had to give the new KDE-Windows edition a go.

I downloaded the unstable kdewin installer 0.8.6-beta4. The installer provides a package installation like that of the Cygwin installer, were packages are selectable and the necessary dependencies are resolved by the installer.

After a huge download the installation ran but never seemed to finish. After a long waiting period with the computer running at 100% CPU load, but otherwise giving no other indication of activity, I killed the installation process. Regardless of the abrupt termination all files seemed to be installed. I then started kwrite. But it just punished me a sequence of popups of missing dll errors, making me flashback to the Windows 95 or Slackware days of dependency hell. The story repeated on every other program I started. Guess that installer wasn’t finish hogging CPU cycles after all. I then started the uninstall, but after an extended period of patience with the CPU at 100% and no other indications of progress, I terminated the uninstall process and deleted the files manually.

After downloading the stable kdewin installer I wanted to save some installation time and selected only Amarok. The installer resolved the dependencies to Amarok and eventually completed the installation process. Unfortunately executing Amorak only resulted in a missing prce.dll error – damn it!. I then restarted the installer and discovered an non-installed package prce.mingw in the win32libs package selection list. After that last install (and a reboot forced by Konqueror freezing the Windows box) Amarok would now start – yeah

Amarok

Regarding the installation experience, then I think the installer makes a not so positive first impression. A part from apparently missing dependencies, its an extremely long installation duration, all of which it maxes out the CPU load to an extend where it doesn’t even manage to redraw its own window. But then again, it needs to copy just about a gazillion files (especially Oxygen has many tiny icon files).
Being on an conquest into the Windows world, I think it is somewhat disappointing that no shortcuts are generated to populate program menu (Well not quite surprising I guess. Having seen the KDE 4.0 keynote presentation its clear that the KDE Windows porters are command line hackers :-))

Now some of the good stuff – for there is plenty of that because most applications works rather well. The games all seem to work perfectly. Here is Kreversi demonstrating how the graphical contents rescaled when its window was resized – kool :-)

Kreversi

Most exited I was to try a true KDE “killer-app”, the powerful editor Kate. I use that editor a lot in Linux and it would be awesome to use it on a cross platform basis.

Kate

The file open menu (here from Kate) is very sweet (e.g. icons on the left resizes as the dialog is resized). I like that Windows Vista style (?) of navigating the directories.

Kate file open

The open file dialog gave me some usability problems though. When I wanted to open a file on another partition I found it very unintuitive to realize, that clicking to the right of the last directory item, changes view to the normal path selection box.

There is still small quirks, like Dolphin started with an error dialog about directory ‘~’ could not be show but would otherwise work just fine, but the general experience is very positive. All work is not done yet, but this is gonna be huge.

Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000

IT WAS TIME to finally replace the old dinosaur keyboard. My Microsoft Natural Keyboard at work had sustained some unfixable sticky keys after many years of writings, so a replacement had to be found.

Microsoft Natural Keyboard

Once more I was thinking of finding another used Microsoft Natural Keyboard (done this before to have a keyboard both at home and at work), but then by coincident, I had a hands on experience on another Microsoft keyboard, the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000. Instantly it was clear – I had to have one!

Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000

This is truly an absolutely awesome keyboard! It really feels as good as it looks. Its has some cool features, but most important is that your hands and fingers simply just “fits” the keyboard, and all the frequently used keys are easy accessible. It is clear that it was made for hardcore typing (more information on the design can be found at Microsoft).

Features include:

  1. 1. Programmable shortcuts.
  2. 2. USB connection.
  3. 3. Additional calculator keys.
  4. 4. Function indicator LED’s.
  5. 5. Back, Forward keys.
  6. 6. Zoom/Scroll pin.
  7. 7. Padded hand rest.

The keyboard has just the right amount of special features. No bloating, but keeping it simple with only the most essential functionality (an USB hub could have been nice though).

A killer feature is the “leather-imitate” padded hand rest, which provides really good hand support. This I’m sure will be a relief to my hands when doing long work-stints.

In general I like that the keyboard its not that different from my old Natural keyboard (you know what they say: “If it ain’t broken. Don’t fix it”) so the transition has been easy. However, I did read several reviews noticing the slimmed Enter key. I agree that such a modification is not for the better, but on my Danish keyboard layout the Enter key is placed vertically like on the Microsoft Natural Keyboard. I find this layout to be much more friendly for locating the Enter key, so the slimming is not is not that big a deal for me.

As a final note, then I’m sure this ends with me having to buy another one, so that I have one at home for my Linux-box too ;-)

Rating: ★★★★★

Beginning Lua Programming

I BOUGHT THIS book as a supplement to Programming in Lua, second edition in hope of getting things explained with more practical examples.

Beginning Lua Programming

Thankfully this is also the case for this book. There are many programming samples in this book that all takes great effort in elaborating the features or problems of the topic at hand.
The book starts out with the usual history lessen, but there after gets straight to the business of teaching Lua programming at beginners level. Beyond the explanation of variables, program flow controllers, calculation with numbers and string operations the writers spend lots of time explaining the immanent dynamic nature of Lua. Lua provides only a few versatile variable types and enforces only a few rules to what can’t be done, but for people not used to static language programming, it sometimes can be hard to wrap your mind around the dynamic possibilities. Luckily this book excels with thorough explanations along with carefully designed samples, all together giving great help during the learning process.

Overall I think this is a very good book for Lua beginners. It starts out with the basics and progresses to more advanced Lua programming topics. Especially the chapters explaining the inner workings of Lua and how to debug Lua applications are excellent qualities of this book. Otherwise the book covers in more or less details, just about all thinkable aspects of the Lua language, ranging from simple scripting to embedding Lua in C/C++ applications. And as a good jumping board into further Lua adventures, the book finishes of with some very good chapters describing how Lua can be used and extended with various 3rd party libraries.

A bit disappointing about this book however, is the minimal attention devoted to explain the object oriented capabilities of Lua. This is a powerful feature set of the language that deserves much better exposure than what is included in this book.
Another negative remark to the book is that the writers sometimes derail the context flow, and suddenly explain topics in sections or chapters where the topic otherwise seems unrelated and not directly associable.

Regarding the object oriented features of Lua, I have personally used this feature to convert some Python and Ruby scripts to Lua, and this was done with minimal effort thanks to the simple but versatile object system offered by Lua. Some would argue that OO issues would belong in a professional edition of the book but I disagree. There is not much more to tell about Lua than otherwise covered in this book. Except for the OO system, the rest is more a matter of “practices makes perfect”.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Programming in Lua, Second Edition

THIS BOOK IS indispensable when it comes to Lua programming.

Programming in Lua, Second Edition

It is written with great insight of the Lua language and its history (not surprisingly as it’s written by the creators for the official Lua implementation). The book starts of with the simple stuff and then progresses into the more advanced features, and even though the book is one of the thinner programming books, it manages to cover all aspects in Lua in great detail. This is possible due to the concise and to the point explanations supplemented with programming examples of equal qualities. The Lua concept of a multipurpose variable type called tables is thoroughly explained, also in the regards of utilizing tables for object oriented concepts in Lua.
The chapters of embedding Lua into C/C++ programs are very strong chapters, giving invaluable insight and information on the topic. I find myself returning to these chapters when in doubt on Lua and C/C++ interaction principals.

I would not recommend this book as the sole learning book if one is totally new to the Lua language. Several times one is urged to look topics up in the official reference book to totally grasp the situations highlighted. Also no repeating of previously learned facts is done in later pages. This is great if you are on top of things, but if being a complete beginner, repetition helps remembering.
The beginner will probably get a more gentle introduction to Lua with the book Beginning Lua Programming, but “Programming in Lua” is absolutely a must-have for the Lua enthusiast.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Copyright © All Rights Reserved · Green Hope Theme by Sivan & schiy · Proudly powered by WordPress