Review: Sumo Beanbag

May 6th, 2009

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At the end of last year, the kind folks at Sumo sent us one of their Omni beanbags to try out. Presumably due to the upcoming christmas rush, they could only offer 3 of the 7 available colour options: Day-glo Orange, Tear-inducing Pink or the Why-didn’t-I-choose-that-option White. We opted for the Orange.

Upon the Omni’s speedy arrival, the first thing we noticed is that it’s absolutely massive, much bigger than we expected. It just amount squeezed into the corner of the room but, especially in orange, it still imposed.

Sumo claim there 10 different ways you can sit on it, which are each sort-of demonstrated on the site. However, I’d strongly advise against the “straddle it like a horse” mode, as it managed to very much hurt me in a way only men can get hurt.

In the end, we found the simple “use it as a chair” and “lie on the floor” modes the comfiest, but part of the fun is chucking it around to switch modes. Unfortunately, during this chucking around, we discovered that the Omni had been damaged in transit, and a small tear was leaking beans.

Sumo said this was very rare, and kindly arranged for a replacement beanbag to be sent to review instead. This second bag was the red colour option which, while still far from subtle, is much more pleasing on the eyes.

For proper testing, the replacement has been thrown around which much vigour, and has been very hardy. Due to space constraints it even spent some time as an outside cushion without suffering any noticeable damage. The “wipe clean” material, while not great for extended hours of sitting, does do a good job of repelling mud, tea and baby-puke stains.

All in all the Sumo beanbag is a fun, yet at times quite impractical, addition to the furniture. We’d certainly recommend one if you have lots of empty space in your living room.

Do you have a new product that you’d like reviewed by authors, web developers and top bloggers James and Alex Turnbull? If so, then drop us a line.

Dear sir,

The website you have contacted, Google Sightseeing, is not affiliated with Google. We have no control over which images Google chooses to show on its Street View service.

You should contact Google to request that an image be removed:

On a more personal note however, you should be aware that one of the main benefits of the Street View service is that people wishing to purchase a new house can choose between many more properties. If you choose to remove yourself from the service, your house (and probably your neighbours’ houses) will also be removed, and nobody will ever be able to use the service to inform their purchasing decision, should you decide to sell your home in the future.

Obviously it’s your decision whether you wish to remove your image from the service, but please bear in mind that the press is currently using scaremongering tactics and spouting complete nonsense in an effort to rile people up. Is it really so bad that people can see you standing outside your house? Were you doing anything that you wouldn’t normally do in a public place? Do you want it to look like you have something to hide?

I would like to reiterate that I am completely unaffiliated with Google, and these are my own personal opinions.

Kind regards,

Alex Turnbull

Social Piping with Tarpipe

November 27th, 2008

I discovered Tarpipe via the deluge of tips that is Lifehacker, and I’ve been really impressed so far.

The idea is that you create a workflow for posting to social media sites. The input can be email, application or bookmarklet, and it allows you to build datapaths for different bits of information – which can then be posted automagically to your various social media accounts (Twitter, Delicious, Flickr etc.)

The really clever bit is that you can pass the data through various other services on the way. In the first one I built, anything received (in this case at the email address associated with this particular workflow) is routed to Delicious and Twitter, but the Twitter posts are sent to TinyURL first.

This means that over at Google Sightseeing we’ll be able to use the Delicious feed to bookmark the original URL, whilst simultaneously posting a short URL for our Twitter followers.

In the example above, I have additionally routed the Twitter and Delicious URLs back into a email, which is received by whoever sent the original message – giving confirmation that both posts were completed successfully.

The developer has posted a video showing something even cleverer – he uses Evernote‘s automatic OCR technology to create tags that are applied to the image as it is added to Flickr. Genius!

We’d like to see WordPress support added, and also found that the module is a bit broken, but if the developer keeps adding more services, and perhaps more importantly, more functionality – then Tarpipe could become an absolutely essential tool in the online arsenal.


April 23rd, 2007

James and I were both lucky enough to be part of the beta test of Panic software‘s new Mac web-authoring application Coda, which was released today.

And I for one am sold, sold, sold1. Basically you have everything you need for building sites — FTP client, fully-featured text editor, CSS editor, terminal, browser and reference — all in one window. As far as features go, I particularly love the auto highlighting of illegal characters in the html editor, and I know people are going to love the collaborative editing they’ve incorporated from SubEthaEdit, but actually, the whole application is really slick.

Lovin’ it Panic, and looking forward to watching Coda develop!

  1. Of course, the only thing that remains is to convince work to get me a Mac… 

FON: A Review

March 13th, 2007

A few weeks ago I received my free FON wireless router and I’ve now (finally) managed to get up and running.

Briefly, FON is a wireless internet sharing initiative. A FON router (called the Fonero) is like any other wireless router, except that it gives out two wireless signals: one for you and one for other FON users. In return for sharing your internet you can get free internet from any other FON user.

1. The unit

The first thing I noticed about the router is that it is tiny. Especially compared to my gigantic D-Link router. In fairness the D-Link also has Ethernet ports but I’ve never used them so I am happy to give them up for more desk space.


On the back of the router there’s the the aerial are two ports; one for power and one for ethernet. On the front are three lights; Power, Internet and Wireless.

Connecting up the Fonero was easy, I connected the Ethernet port to my cable modem (with the supplied cable) and plugged it in. After quite a while of (apparently random) light blinking my MacBook could see two new Wireless signals: one for me and one for everyone else.

2. Setup

Getting the Fonero setup was less than easy, mainly because the documentation is pretty sparse and the online Knowledge Base is full of useless guff.

In the end I found a forum FAQ which informed me I needed to rig up my MacBook directly to the router. From here I could change the cipher to TKIP and set the password to be 10 characters (any other length just won’t work). This eventually allowed my MacBook to connect to the ‘net.

3. Social map.jpg

Part of registering my router as a FON access point means specifying my home address. This then places me a point on the FON map so others can see where they can get free wireless access.

There’s (surprisingly) about 5 or 6 routers in my immediate vicinity, but of course my MacBook can’t see any of them. This is most likely due to Edinburgh’s tenements being made of a kind of stone which almost completely blocks radio waves. I get a very weak wireless signal from only one room away and we have to keep our mobiles on the windowsill to have a chance of receiving calls.

So, there’s little chance anyone will ever use my free wireless, unless they either live above me or camp out in my back garden.

4. Privacy?

When I first connected to the public side of my access point I was faced with a bizarre login page, featuring a giant head and a link to some blog. I thought maybe my router was second hand and the linked blog was that of the previous owner. I soon realised that this was just the Fonero’s deafult start page and the blog was that of FON’s wacky CEO.

Digging around the settings I realised that I can configure this page to allow guests free access to one website, and read some blab I’d written to say hello.

Of course, I set the “free website” to Google Sightseeing – a little free advertising to those non-existent people who’ll find my wireless connection.

Later on I was browsing the FON map to see where around my city I could get some free wifi, and I noticed that people who had setup a welcome page had a special map icon. Nosy as ever I checked out the few routers that had a welcome page to see what the linked websites were.

I soon realised that the “free page” wasn’t the best idea, when I stumbled across the map pointer linking to Nick’s blog. I happen to know Nick, and he’s a nice guy so I wouldn’t want to rob him, but up until that point I wasn’t aware of his exact address.

FON could do with making it a bit more obvious that website you enter will be tied to your physical location on a publicly-accessible map, then I’m sure most people would think twice about making it their personal blog.

5. Conclusion

Despite the hiccups, I now have a sleek new router, and best of all it was free!

Inevitably, I’ve not made any use of the free FON wireless around the town but I’m hoping to one day. In fact, I’m going on holiday to New York later on in the year and there’s hundreds of FON points there, so hopefully I’ll get some use out of it (note to house-breakers: my address is no longer on the map).