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Wednesday
Dec072016

Car Cane car door grab handle – a great mobility aid

Car Cane door handle mobility aidIf you have elderly family or relatives who struggle to get in or out of a car, the Car Cane may be just the answer. It’s a very strong handle that simply drops into the door latch mounted on the bodyshell to give some leverage, and it provides a very sturdy and reassuring extra grab handle that helps people to get a secure handhold.

This is a great idea for low cars (like mine) or high SUVs that make it hard to climb in or out of the passenger compartment. When only a door grab handle is available for support, the Car Cane adds an extra helping hand to help you climb out or get seated again.

The Car Cane is extremely strong and not too heavy. It has a steel core and comfort-grip handle and will support up to 350 lbs (25 stones)/ 158 kilos in weight.

The Car Cane has a built-in LED torch powered by two CR2032 coin cells to provide a little extra lighting, which I found handy in a car park at night time. There's more: the pointed steel member doubles as an emergency glass hammer to smash toughened glass side windows (won’t work on laminated windscreens) and also included is a seat-belt slitter in case of accidents where occupants need to be released from their seat belts.

Car Cane grab handle [click to see]Built-in LED torch [click to see]The steel square section just drops into the 'loop' of a door latch and is approx 17mm square steel. So your door lock must allow at least that much clearance or the Car Cane won’t fit through. As a test, you could cut a 17mm wide strip of cardboard to see if it will clear the lock of your vehicle in both dimensions (width and depth, so to speak) with room to spare. Owners of some Peugeots and Citroens have complained that their door locks aren't suitable, but it should fit the vast majority of cars otherwise. It shouldn't mark the paintwork during normal use either. In my case the screw mounting plate of the door latch clearly prevents the pointed end from touching the bodywork, but there's only a few millimeters of clearance.

A Car Cane has already proved a boon during a hospital trip, so for a very modest cost you can order a Car Cane direct from Amazon. Car Cane is one of the best auto gadgets I’ve bought in ages, and a great idea for elderly or infirm passenger or those who struggle to get in or out of the passenger or driver’s seat.

Simply ensure that the 'loop' of your car door lock is big enough to let the Car Cane square section pass through. Even then, you can always order one and return it if it doesn’t fit (unlikely).

Wednesday
Dec072016

Panasonic SC-PM250B

Panasonic SC-PM250EB [click to see]How hard can it be to buy a mini hi-fi? I was looking for a small Panasonic CD player with DAB radio, as the one that caught my eye had good reviews for sound quality, was very compact and easy to use and I’ve got on well with the Panasonic brand for forty years. Shopping around, the part numbers and spec. were all over the place.   Here's some very handy info that will help ensure you get the right model. More details...

Thursday
Nov242016

Paper Mate Contour Powerpoint refills

Paper Mate Contour retractable ballpoint pen from the 1970sHere’s a Paper Mate Contour ballpoint pen that hails from the 1970s. It’s been a loyal old family friend that’s still comfortable and easy to use. The problem is of course that Paper Mate Powerpoint refills are no longer available. A quick search on Ebay unearthed a few old mouldy-looking ones mostly from the USA, and they were selling for (wait for it) £30-£45 each!

After a lot of searching around I came across an excellent UK supplier of pen refills called Cult Pens who confirmed the old Powerpoint refills are long gone. The nearest you will get is the Paper Mate Lubriglide refill which is also obsolete. Again some American suppliers were selling these on Ebay for really eye-watering amounts.

Fortunately Cult Pens has turned up trumps with a suggested alternative, namely the Schneider Express 225 which is roughly the same form factor as the old Powerpoint one. Their price (£2.25) was also very affordable and they are available in black, blue, green and red.  Looking around the Cult Pens website, some other hard-to-get refills also caught my eye, namely MonteVerde equivalents for a Sheaffer ballpoint refill (much cheaper than Sheaffer K biro refills) and another for my Sheaffer No-Nonsense Rollerball pen. It wasn’t long before an order was on the way, carriage paid over £10.

In fact it arrived extremely rapidly along with a sample disposable mechanical pencil and some Haribo!

Comparing Schneider Express 225 (top) with a Paper Mate Powerpoint refillHow did the Schneider Express 225 ballpoint refill fit in my Paper Mate Contour? There is a very slight difference in length as the above photo shows. In practise I found that when the biro was ‘retracted’ there was still a tiny length of tip showing, so it did not retract fully into the biro body.

Top-bottom: Schneider Express 225 filed down slightly, original Express refill, Paper Mate Powerpoint refill [click to see]The simple answer is to shorten it by removing no more than 2mm maximum from the plastic end of the refill. I did this in seconds using my Dremel and a sanding drum, but you could carefully file it down instead, taking care not to snap the plastic tip off.  That worked a treat, and now the refill retracts fully and the pen is good to go.

I found Cult Pens offered a terrific service, so if you need any pens, pencils or hard to find refills check out their website straight away!

Friday
Nov182016

Beware UKPC UK Parking Ticket phishing

UKPC phishing scam email [click to see]

This Email just arrived and is supposedly a parking violation ticket. How does UKPC know my Email address? Of course, they don't.  It's quite well done apart from the very odd English, but I won't help the Eastern European spammers by telling them why their dialect is so strange to a native Englishman. The click-throughs seem to point to a Russian instance of mediagroupmoney.com.  Of course, clicking through to any unknown website is potentially lethal as it could try to install ransomware or a nasty virus on your computer, so it should be deleted immediately. Nice try.

Friday
Sep162016

How a CCJ can wreck your finances

Some recent news items highlighted the plight of innocent people who have nearly lost their homes or suffered severe financial problems when their credit history was damaged by old County Court Judgments (CCJs) that they knew nothing about - parking ticket penalty notices that are sent to very old addresses, for example. I'll explain a few options to help prevent this and check up on your credit file for free, to ensure you're CCJ-free.

Click to read more ...