Apple Music not playing under Brave Browser
I’ve been trying to play music from my Apple Music account on my Windows 11 laptop with Brave (version 1.56.9) as my preferred browser and visiting the app at music.apple.com
But when I tried to play a song rather than music all I got was a dialogue window with the following text:
Not available on the web
You can listen to this in the Apple Music app
The solution, for me, was to check that Brave was configured with Widevine support and finding it wasn’t I switched it on. The dialogue is on the Settings/Extensions page and if you change the setting you have to relaunch/restart the browser for it to have effect.
If you have problems I hope it sorts it for you as well.
July 20, 2023
Great/Poor Spinning Bikes have a real impact on the fitness quality I achieve
See the footnote re dated accuracy and updating
I first drafted this in July 2022 and then it got left in a darkened room while a lot of life happened. Well now I’m bouncing back, so here you go…
It’s a long story but for the last few years I’ve been a member of two gyms and that’s made for some interesting comparisons re the spinning bikes they each have and the impact on my training. Long story short it turns out that I work about 15% harder given a better bike with proper real time reporting of cadence and power. I should add that I’m not a super fit person with much Lycra and special cycling shoes etc. I’m very much an ordinary Joe, now retired and is belatedly determined to be fitter than I have been in my life generally.
The gym with the very basic bikes is Datchet and Eton Leisure Health Club (DEL) (https://www.deleisure.com/) at the Thames Valley Athletics Centre (TVAC). The bikes are Schwinn AC Sport models in white but without electronic consols, so they show neither speed or power. They were ‘new’ about 4 years ago and are clearly very well made if with no smarts whatsoever - at least in the basic form DEL bought.
The bikes at Windsor Leisure Centre (WLC) (https://www.leisurefocus.org.uk/our-centres/windsor-leisure-centre/) are Life Fitness IC7’s, from ICG (https://www.teamicg.com/en/bikes/ic7), were new about a year ago and bought because the sister gym at Maidenhead has been using them very successfully since it opened in 2020. They have terrific colour displays (using power generated by the rider) that show cadence and rider power (and much more), talks to your phone for easy recording and setup and also allow Coach By Color (https://www.teamicg.com/en/bikes/ic7/coachbycolor). In this each rider inputs their FTP (Functional Threshold Power) number - it’s basically a number that says how fit you are - and you are told to achieve certain colours/work efforts
through the class. The colours go from White (least work) though Blue, Green and Yellow to Red, Red being the highest effort and not sustained for long generally. Because everybody has their own FTP (calculated by the bike or, more accurately, input yourself following a test), when the class is told to go to Red you can all achieve it because you are each doing your own personal maximum. To add motivation the bikes shine out the colour you are currently achieving to everybody else and seeing a sea of Red in class really encourages you to do more, especially if you are not on Red yourself! This video gives you something of the flavour of these bikes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gljgqggincU If you do a Google you find that one-off these bikes are around £2500 a piece. Not cheap but streaks ahead of the DEL bikes, which I’m pretty sure would have been significantly cheaper - £1000?
I always record my heart rate when doing exercise, using a Polar strap (https://www.polar.com/uk-en/products/accessories/polar-verity-sense/) that talks to my phone, and the Polar app turns that into calories burned and so a clear indication of effort put in.
It occurred to me I could do some back to back comparisons of the bikes/classes to see how much extra work I did on a decent spin bike compared to a basic one - I certainly felt (and feel) more drained at the end of a class with the better bike. Of course instructors are all different and so I tried to record across a number of different trainers. This was all done in the Spring of 2022.
I looked at 7 classes at each gym, with the classes given by 4 different instructors in each location - 8 instructors in total. And it turns out that on average I worked about 15% harder on the better bikes. I don’t claim rigorous scientific accuracy for my 15% extra effort (the classes compared weren’t all done at the same time of the day for example and ultimately they are different instructors at each location etc), but it does bare out anecdotally how I feel about the two types of bike.
Time marched on and within weeks I actually found using the basic DEL bikes an increasing turnoff, because of the lack of feedback and the lack of options it gave instructors, to the point where I no longer spin there. I’ve also found that I have been slowly increasing my FTP on the Windsor bikes and so putting more effort into each spin. Coach By Color is a wonderful system, if it comes with a learning curve for instructors and attendees.
If you are looking at doing spinning as part of your fitness regime then do size up the bikes when you are looking at a new gym and don’t assume they are all broadly the same. I would certainly recommend the Windsor Leisure bikes (and their gym facilities more generally). At DEL the spinning classes are popular but it’s a great shame that the bikes are not really very good. Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have a terrific workout, but then again that’s where I thought I was until I discovered the joy and impact of using way better equipment.
May 12, 2023
Advice to Gym Class Instructors
This is generic advice to those who give classes in gym’s from somebody who consumes them and has seen a fair few different instructors over the years. Much of it is common sense and yet it is still easily forgotten.
Start the class on time
Start on time and never wait for people who are late. Waiting only penalises those who bothered to turn up on time. If people are late that’s their problem.
Finish the class on time
Respect attendees time and do not assume they will view you running over time as a free bargain. The one exception may be for a stretch, but even there the best instructors build in time for a final stretch within the allocated time.
Get there early and be fully setup and ready with the sound system
Music and sound systems are often a problem with Bluetooth connection hassles typical. Know who to contact if there is a problem. And hopefully if you got there early these problems won’t be paraded in front of a room full of people twiddling their thumbs. Alternatively be self contained and turn up with your own speaker (large or small) - no hassles then. Also know how to setup and use the head-mic if you are using one.
Know the gym equipment
This particularly applies to spinning bikes which can vary tremendously in their capabilities. If the bikes change or you are new to a gym then find out about the equipment and the culture at the gym re using that equipment. You won’t last very long (in a competitive world) if you don’t know how to get the most from the bike and give a strong class. Be professional and don’t assume you can muddle through on lots of good will or what you have done in the past or elsewhere.
Make sure you have the right equipment for the class you want to give
If you plan a class with steps then make sure steps are there. Or even put the steps out ready. If you plan on using bands, hand weights or bar bells then make sure a rich variety of weight’s/strengths are available without attendees having to rush around elsewhere in the gym complex for this or that.
Don’t spend lots of time explaining what to do
June 28, 2022
In circuits type classes sometimes much time is lost while explaining in too much detail what is to be done at each station. If possible use recuperation periods to explain what comes next. Look to start quickly and maintain pace.
Full Fibre Broadband in the UK - Poor roll out information and reporting
At the moment we are with Virgin to deliver fast internet to the house. It is indeed fast and seems reasonably reliable but they charge a lot because there is no competition. The answer is Openreach/BT and their roll out of Full Fibre. You can register on BT to be informed when it can be ordered, but what you really want to know is what the plan is and with some sensible accuracy. Of course we also need to be aware that all plans can change etc. What prompts this interest is that Openreach seem to have been doing work in my area of Slough - pulling underground cables along roads etc.
Openreach has a section on its website called “Where and when we’re building” which sounds encouraging. But it’s junk - it chunks out the plans into what is being built into 3 very broad categorises: that between 4/2021 and 4/2024, 4/2022 and 4/2025 and finally between 4/2021 and 4/2026.
Really you’d hope the regulator and/or government would demand the release of more detailed plans and reporting against them, but I won’t hold me breath. For the record Government’s gigabit-capable broadband targets can be found on this web-page “Gigabit-broadband in the UK: Government targets and policy”. And this seems to sum it all up:
“The Government’s manifesto commitment was to deliver nationwide gigabit-broadband by 2025. That target was revised in November 2020 to a minimum of 85% of premises by 2025.”
As I say I can’t see that anybody is sensibly demanding the industry report their plans for achieving this with proper and reasonable granularity.
Currently Full Fibre is due to reach us (and many other towns and cities), between April 2021 and April 2024. While it’s pretty piss-poor reporting, there is not much we can do about it. Fingers crossed that it happens in the next 2 years.
April 28, 2022
Windows 10 Hello Problems - Reset cures things
It started with Lenovo updating the Synaptics Fingerprint Reader Driver to 126.96.36.1996 on my Lenovo X1 Generation 9. After the update whenever I went to use the computer I got this message at the login screen “your credentials could not be verified”.
It was like the facial recognition would recognise me but it couldn’t go on to fully log me in. Ditto with the fingerprint reader, if that has never been that reliable for me. The error message was not too serious because I was always able to enter my account pin number and the machine was then all as normal.
I tried switching the fingerprint recognition off and then on again, but could not get it to enrol my finger - the little animation you get normally, was not showing and all I could do was cancel and exit the process.
I decided to Reset the Windows 10 Hello system. Swiftly done using either of these instructions:
I used the first link, which although on Dells site is generic to all W10.
The reset totally clears out the old biometrics and so you need to register your face and fingers again. I did this and karma was restored.
March 26, 2022
Finding the Perfect Mouse - Dabbling with Logitech, Razer and Apple Mice
I always want a better mouse - longer-lasting, silent, smaller (in certain circumstances), less heavy, smoother, more comfortable etc. And it has to be a mouse - trackpads on laptops are for emergency only, because a mouse just seems to make doing things so much easier.
At the moment my default laptop mouse is the Logitech MX Anywhere 2 or Anywhere 2S (longer-lasting, a little smoother and does Logitech Flow, if needed). The Anywhere 2/2S is pretty compact if annoyingly it needs to be charged by a Mini-USB cable and they are no longer actively sold by Logitech, if still listed on Amazon. I also use a Logitech M720 Triathlon for a home PC. Both mouse types are pretty good but can be noisy in some environments. And something smaller for travel would be nice. However, there are some things I absolutely insist on and that means many mice are not for me:
- I need a Tilt Wheel which I map to Forward and Back browser functions. It’s just so easy that with a finger I can zoom up and down a page and skip back and forward as I want. No need to touch anything else. (Sadly Logitech may be moving away from tilt - their new MX Anywhere 3 does not include it as part of a reengineered scroll wheel. Duh)
- Need (what Logitech call) Hyperscroll - the ability for the mouse wheel to freely scroll quickly so I can navigate a long web page or document with ease. Click scroll just seems too ancient and slow (and I never, ever, use it)
- Bluetooth - I don’t want dongles or cables in day-to-day use. That said a dongle as a backup, that always works, is no bad thing.
- I need a mouse to work on any surface. I sometimes use a mouse on the sofa, in bed or on a train seat and I want it to work on less than smooth surfaces.
I’ve bought a few mice over the years and leave them dotted around so I’m not carting a mouse around all the time as well as the laptop (my constant companion). So a mouse in my man bag for when I’m out and about, one in the bedside cabinet, one in the sitting room. And the Triathlon is in my study with my desktop PC. All perhaps OTT but it actually just makes life easier and more straightforward.
Periodically I look around to see if there are better mice out there and two just caught my eye. Neither of what follows is a full review, but the thoughts hopefully complement reviews out there…
Apple Magic Mouse
The Apple Magic Mouse was on special offer from Amazon (£54.90), looks impressive and I did a search to see if it ran with Windows 10. That threw up Magic Utilities, which looks well capable. So on that quick check, I ordered one.
I love the slim nature of the Magic Mouse and can imagine it sliding in my day bag really easily. Less impressive is the fact it has to be charged with a lightning cable, but not an absolute deal-breaker. I downloaded the Magic Utilities (it’s free to evaluate) which seemed to work well and I was generally pleased with the touch nature (tilt wheel alternative) for forward and back browsing. But I couldn’t really achieve a speedy vertical scroll with the setup. Worse the Magic Mouse sensor seemed to struggle with use on less than perfect surfaces like the fabric of my sofa. It would move the pointer but it was a bit too jerky and imprecise. So while I’d like it as a travelling mouse it fails the reliably work on a train seat test.
Even if I liked the mouse I’d be a bit wary of the Magic Utilities software. I’m not at all against paying for software, but they won’t sell you the software, instead you have to pay a yearly fee. You can buy 2 years at a lower cost but there is no ability to pay more and have permeant use - they give their perspective on all this in their FAQ. I’m not sure paying £10/year and all the remembering to pay etc is a place I really want to be on a mouse. It would certainly have to be an exceptional mouse to go there and the Apple Magic Mouse is not that special - measured against my requirements anyway. So, sadly, another return to Amazon.
Razer Pro Click Mini
I recently saw a review of the Razer Pro Click Mini which looked interesting and nominally fits my requirements. At the moment it costs £70-£80 - a little higher than the Logitech mice I use. But I guess over time the price will drop.
It turns out to be a nice mouse with a size not unlike the Logitech Anywhere 2/2S. It perhaps feels easier to grip and the main left and right buttons are relatively silent - really worth having in a quiet environment. However, the left and right tilt wheel buttons don’t seem so silent. Duh.
You control the scroll wheel with the small rocker switch behind it - one way gives the freewheel/Hyperscroll (I like) and the other a conventional feel with clicks. This works well and is better than the equivalent on the Anywhere 2/2S, which has pressing on the wheel itself as the switch between the 2 modes of operation. On the Pro Click Mini I mapped pressing the scroll wheel to browser page reload/refresh - I truly can’t think of a better setup than that. But…
While the sensor on the Pro Click Mini is better than the Apple Magic Mouse it’s not as good as Logitech use. The Razer works as well on some fabrics but is a tiny bit jumpy on others. Also, vertical scrolling is a bit jumpy/staccato in any browser. It seems to jump 3 lines at a time (following how it is set up in W10 mouse settings) and it feels kludgy. If you change the W10 setting for it to move 1 line at a time, then the freewheel speed suffers badly. Logitech seems to have things better sussed here. I use Firefox as a browser with the Logitech Setpoint extension that makes it all super smooth. The Razer feels OK but crude by comparison.
Another hassle is that you seem to have to register with Razer to download/use the mouse advanced configuration software. Seems a bit unnecessary for an expensive mouse.
All up the Razer Pro Click Mini shows great promise but needs a slightly better optical sensor (capable of working on many different and uneven surfaces) and some browser support to enable smoother scrolling.
December 15, 2021