Yeovilton Air Day 2015

Queen of the Sky

Another July, another Yeovilton Air Day and this year I took the family along. As ever it was a tricky day for spectators and photographers as the flight line has everyone looking up into the sun. It was lovely to see the Vulcan fly one last time before her retirement at the end of the 2015 airshow season. The highlight of this year’s show for me was the Sea Vixen, it’s such an amazing looking fighter – fast jets tend not to be that pretty anymore.

Sea Vixen

Agusta Westland AW609 TiltRotor

Apache Gunship



Saluting the Retiring Warrior

This is just a small selection of my photos from Yeovilton Air Day 2015, you can find more in this album on my Flickr page.

SMSL 793II DAC/Headphone Amp – Quick Review

You can pay an absolute fortune for a good headphone amp but much of this money goes into snake oil. A decent DAC chip is not expensive and amplification is not rocket science. SMSL is a Chinese company that’s making waves with good quality audio gear that means you don’t have to break the bank to get good sound. This DAC/Amp receives optical/coax digital PCM and sends it out of the headphone output at the front and via RCA line-out at the rear. The volume controls the headphone only – as it should – leaving the line-out to be a fixed volume. I’ve got this DAC set up on my desk where I feed it an optical signal from my motherboard, the line-out then goes to a hi-fi amp and speakers. The sound quality is excellent both in the phones and via the line-out. I’ve used the line-out to feed an SMSL SA-50 amp and a Marantz MR-603 hifi and in both cases the results were superb. Be aware like most headphone amps there is a little channel imbalance through headphones at the quiet end of the volume taper but this is gone at normal listening volumes.

Also as is often the case with excellent but inexpensive Chinese audio gear the power supply lets the side down with cheapness and potential electric death. My 793ii came with a two-prong switching power supply and a travel adapter. While the power supply seems fine – I didn’t like using it with the travel adapter and bought a 9v switching power supply from Maplin with a proper UK plug.



Deadly goings on in our garden this morning as a Sparrowhawk captures a small bird. The prey was still very much alive at this point and screeching. The reason the hawk was standing like that was to defend itself as all the birds in the garden were dive bombing it in little squadrons to try to get it to leave. Meanwhile the poor sparrow wasn’t being finished off quickly and was very loud.

So I went outside with the hope of either getting the hawk to move off with its prey or leaving the prey behind. It picked up the sparrow and flew down under a tree, then over the wall and out of the garden – followed by lots of small birds trying to scare it away.

New Parentmail “Upgrade”

The primary school our three children attend use a system called Parentmail. It’s simple and easy – we just get sent emails with information from the school – such as newsletters, parent’s evening appointments, school policy etc.

This worked very well. We can file the school emails and keep them together, star, highlight and keep control of the diary and information as one would expect. We parents are in control and can work with the information as we see fit.

Until now. Now the school has “upgraded” to a new PMX Parentmail system that seems like some throwback to the 90s. Now we receive an email that tells us we have an email. We then have to click and visit the parentmail site where we have to login to read the mails. There’s no way of storing these messages locally on our computer – instead we have to use this basic site.

Instead of being able to star and highling emails in my own gmail account, I now have what is essentially a whole other one-way email account that I can only access on the web. I used to be able to open pdf files from the school in my gmail, now I have to click through to this site, click several times more to get to the pdf then download it.

This of course also a waste of mobile data. Previously our phones would receive an email with all the relevant content in it. Now once your phone has receive the email telling you that you have an email – one has to use the app or site to then find out the information. It is so arse-backwards.

How on earth is this progress? It’s a very poor system and the previous one worked so much better. I would prefer a return to the school sending paper letters home than this very poor approach.