Glitzy Award Show

It’s Christmas Eve, so I have the Internet to myself: you’re probably reading this because the mainstream media are all on holiday and you have nothing better to do. Possibly it’s been mentioned in one of those BBC News “Magazine” fluff pieces about what happens on the Internet when nothing is happening.

What do we do when there is time to fill and no original content to fill it with? That’s right, a top-ten awards show!

And here they are, my pick of ten things this year which have been in some way notable: for ill or for good. As usual we are going to count them down as if the order is somehow significant when it isn’t. Put some tension-building music on and let’s get started…

10 Most useless product as-shipped: Cisco/Linksys SPA3102 (UK)

It’s a UK-targetted telephone network/VOIP gateway. As such, you would hope that the line you connect to your BT socket would be configured to detect BT’s dial-tone etc (it isn’t). You would also hope to get a cable to connect it to a BT socket (you don’t), an adapter to connect a BT-cabled phone to it’s socket simulator (also missing) and a UK 3-pin power plug (included, possibly in error). The included manuals CD does not contain a manual for the router or any other router with a similar name.

Miraculously, once you sort all of these problems out it does work quite well.

9 Best manufacturer of cycling glasses: Rudy Project

Not only do they make glasses which fit asymmetrical humans, their customer service is excellent.

8 Best guitar: Line 6 JTV-69

Possibly the award should be for “Best guitars” because the JTV-69 can sound like a lot of guitars other than itself. You can also control what it sounds like from a POD HD-500, which gives you a nice single point of control for what your playing sounds like.

7 Best TV channel: Sky Sports F1 HD

I greeted the news that Sky had taken over the F1 contract from the BBC with a certain amount of annoyance. When I heard that they would dedicate a channel to it, I was skeptical that they would be able to fill it effectively. I subscribed to Sky essentially only in order to watch the F1.

Happily I was wrong; the coverage has been uniformly excellent. The mid-week shows “Weekend in Stills” and “Weekend in Words” are valuable additions to the F1 experience, as is the F1 Show.

6 Most dangerous: Pashley Picador Tricycle

One wheel at the front and two at the back is a recipe for falling over: ask Jeremy Clarkson if you won’t take my word for it. Shipping the trike with the wrong brake lever for the front rim brake, making it ineffective, merely adds immediate insult to imminent injury.

5 Best musician’s shop: DV247

They understand that when you order an instrument/strings/cable/etc it’s because you want it tomorrow. And that’s when you get it. In the rare case that it doesn’t work their returns and replacement service is equally swift.

4 Most disappointing product: Line 6 DT25

After enjoying the top-notch JTV-69 and the excellent POD HD-500 I thought I would buy the Line 6 DT25 to complete what Line 6 call the Dream Rig. Sadly it didn’t do what I expected it to do and broke part of my setup unexpectedly. Rather than making a good thing brilliant it made it terrible.

3 Best parcel delivery service: DPD

Part of the DV247 success story is their decision to ship with DPD couriers.

2 Worst thing: Microsoft Surface with Windows RT

So bad I dissed it twice. Twice. Then returned it for a refund.

1 Best game: Rocksmith

Fun. Teaches you to play Plug In Baby (as well as other less-epic tracks) on guitar and bass. Extensively written-about on this blog.

Tune in next year for more things. Maybe.

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