Duolingo Dutch Gold – again

After trying some other Dutch classes, I felt I had to return to DuoLingo and refresh my vocabulary and return each topic to gold, the colour of completion. Duolingo are correct, when they say that learning a language requires practice every day. Revisiting these lessons illustrates the vagaries of memory. For example I could remember such daunting words as “bezienswaardigheden” – places of interest or sights to be seen but not remember that “alleen” means only.

So after a week of increasing my scores on all the lessons, I’m now back at solid gold level. Hooray!


I can certainly recommend Duolingo to get you started in a language, it won’t get you anywhere near fluency but it will provide you with an excellent base on which to increase and develop your knowledge.

Seiko Pepsi Turtle

After much deliberation, I have decided to purchase a modest birthday present for myself, in the shape of a second Seiko Turtle – this time the SRP-779 model, with the Pepsi bezel, compared to the SRP-775 which is the gold two-tone version. So the watch is the same apart from cosmetic differences and that the Pepsi comes not with a bracelet but with a Seiko rubber band.

I had my eye on a number of more expensive Seiko divers which, sparing you esoteric model numbers, come with nicknames such as the Sumo and the Shogun. In the watch world, Seiko divers have a strong following and you would be sure to receive an unfavourable response if you said on being shown a diver with a £1,000 price tag; “It’s only a Seiko.” They represent excellent value for money, are frequently  and easily modified to change the official offerings and come with either in-house automatic or quartz movements.

Turtles are equipped with Seiko’s 4R36 movement which is utilitarian and on my 775 working very well indeed, within COSC rates and better than the specified rating of  ±20 seconds per day. Unlike the older 7S26 movements, it hacks and is hand windable.

I’ve ordered from a global reseller who is based in Hong Kong,  after much dithering. My indecision was caused by my initially wanting a J or Made in Japan version, compared to the K or Not Made in Japan version.

There is a certain, snobbish cachet about having Japanese made watches, from a Japanese vendor, rather than the lesser “made somewhere else” version; Seiko has manufacturing plants in Japan, China and possibly elsewhere. However given the price difference between the two, at about £100, and the only real difference apart from a line of text on the dial, is the date wheel shows the days in different languages, meant that I decided upon a bog-standard K. This will likely not make a jot of difference in wearing or using it.

I very nearly bought it from Rob at MonsterWatches  – motto: Gek van horloges – Mad for watches –  in the Netherlands (thereby combining two passions of mine)  who has an increadible range of Seiko models, often hard to find, with many of them in the prefered J class. An added attraction is that Rob is able to offer a J model with a double-domed sapphire crystal in place of the rather pedestrian, standard, hardlex. Sapphire is more scratch resistant, looks shinier and with a double-dome would offer some interesting distortions while looking through it to the dial. Sadly the price of about €380 is just too high, given that I already have this watch, that the J version is the same as the cheaper K and the crystal on my 775 does just fine.

The other reason I bought the Pepsi dialled Turtle, was to see how I get on with a watch which I know is comfortable but with the different aesthetics of the blue and red bezel. While this is not the same as a GMT watch, like the famous Rolex GMT Pepsi, it is close enough in rough looks to see whether I would like to even contemplate possibly purchasing one at some stage. I think I like the look but living with it for some time rather than a quick look on the wrist will help.

Another advantage of duplicating a Turtle in my collection, is that I will be able to fit my Strapcode Super Jubilee bracelet and the steel bracelet which comes with the 775. Reviews of the 779’s rubber strap are mixed, with people stating that it picks up a lot of lint and that the keeper moves around annoyingly.

Before finally deciding to buy the 779, I was swithering on going up-market to either a Sumo or Shogun. These are JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) watches only and come in different configurations. They have attractive cases, shapes and Seiko in-house movements. Compared to Swiss brands they’re fantastic value for money.

However the Sumo, as it’s nickname suggests, is one large watch and I prefer nothing too hefty, being delicate and refined myself. The Shogun, see right, is very much more attractive. I love Titanium and this watch is made exclusively from that metal. It’s sized to fit human rather than Sumo wrists. However it’s £930. The hands come from an entry-level diver called The Monster – they have the unique feature of looking like a rocket when all aligned above each other.  The crystal is still “only” hardlex – paying over £900 I expect a sapphire crystal. The bracelet’s links are retained by collar and pins which again at this price point, is somewhat lacking – I’d expect screwed links which can be dealt with by a small slot-headed screwdriver, not a hammer and specialised pin tools which the Shogun’s links need. Finally the movement is a 6R15, a step up in quality from the 4R36 but it’s still nothing magical. If Seiko could produce the Shogun with a sapphire crystal, include the 8L35 automatic movement and have screwed links (maybe that’s difficult with the steel connecting to titanium?) – I would buy one, even with the Monster’s hands.

So after all that – a very reasonable £190 bought me the Pepsi Turtle which may be with me in time to celebrate my birthday. Even if it’s not, I hope soon to enjoy it and bore everyone I meet, forcing them to look and admire it.

Mortgage free!

This chart shows the rapid decline of my mortgage. That large, final drop was due to the sale of my garage, so thank you to my lawyers and the buyer. The deal was concluded in a day and so once the paperwork is done, that will be me. It’s gone seven years early and the first time since 1986 I will have no monthly expenditure for rent or mortgage. “And relax……”




Kindle Battery Care

Here are ten rather obvious steps to maintain and extend your Kindle’s battery life.

  1. Turn off wi-fi and or 3G when not needed
  2. Turn down the back-light, if you have one
  3. Turn off automatic page refreshing
  4. Put your Kindle to sleep when not in use
  5. Ensure your Kindle firmware is up to date
  6. Keep your Kindle in moderate temperatures
  7. Lithium-ion polymer batteries like slow, regular charges
  8. Don’t fully discharge the battery as a matter of course, recharge at 30 – 60%
  9. Take the opportunity to add or sync your books while charging
  10. When the Kindle is nearly fully or fully charged, remove the charging cable

As a Kindle is essentially a Linux based computer, it’s a good idea, once in a while, to power off and or restart it. The IT two-step, “switch it off and on again” works for so many things, including Kindles, if they start misbehaving.

Here’s a view of a Kindle Voyage’s battery in the process of being replaced, courtesy of ifixit.com.

Kindle Voyage

I was preparing to write a long review of my newest and most favourite thing, my Kindle Voyage. However, having read Joe’e review I needn’t bother. He’s said it all and that was back at the end of 2014.

Simply put, if you want an excellent e-book reader, within the Amazon ecosphere and don’t mind paying £170 for it, then you will unlikely be disappointed.