Professional Geek
RSS icon Email icon Bullet (black)
  • Tile Mate

    TileLogoI’m always forgetting where I’ve put things

    Keys, phone and wallet are the usual suspects but I’ll frequently pick something up, then put it down and then have no idea where it’s gone.

    So when I first came across Tile Mate it seemed to have been made just for me!

    Tile Mate is a little device that attaches to your key ring primarily. Though it could attach to a bag or anything really.

    TileMate1Then you register it with an app on your phone and between Bluetooth and GPS it’ll help you locate the approximate area where the device is located.

    If you still can’t find it then you can “ring” it. A little speaker plays a ringtone (there are four to choose from)

    If you still can’t find it after that (as in you’ve genuinely lost it) then you can also call on the Tile community to help find it. Once your mark something as lost if your tile comes within proximity of someone else’s app it’ll let them know.

    As well as the key ring form factor they have Tile Slim which is credit card sized. Perfect for wallets!

    In additional there are various accessories used for helping you to attach to different items. It’s not just for bags and keys.

    There are also a couple of extra features that are pretty useful.

    If you can’t find your phone. Double tap the button on the front of the Tile and if it’s within Bluetooth range it’ll make the phone ring. It’s like the “find my phone” features most phones have.

    You can also share the location of a Tile with someone. The website says that’s useful for “shared cars, keys or bags” (though I’m not really sure about that one!)  

    As well as the “classic tile mate” and the “slim” there is a Pro series

    This is made up of the “sport” version, which is a little more rugged. You could attach this to a sports bag which usually gets throw around a bit more.


    And the “style version” which is for attaching to purses and handbags. (clichéd?)


    So, any downsides?


    A single Tile classic is between £20-£25 depending on where you shop. You can buy them in multi-packs which makes them a little cheaper.

    The Pro series are around £30

    Slim is between £25 and £35

    I have mixed feelings on this. Your own opinion will vary but that’s a little but more expensive than I was initially willing to pay for one of these. However, having since received one as a gift I will likely get the slim version for my wallet!


    The devices aren’t user serviceable. Once the battery dies that’s it.

    Tile will guarantee it’ll last for a full year but after that it lasts as long as it lasts. That could be a day, or even another year!

    They do have a “reTile” program. You send the tile back and they’ll sell you another one at a discount.

    Couple of ways to look at this really.

    You need the Tile to work. No point attaching it to your keys and then the one time you actually, totally lose your keys you need to know the Tile is in perfect working order. So I understand the need for them to have some control over how long it’s used for.

    But you could also argue it’s a good way to get some money out of you every 12 months. If you buy several of these the total amount you pay out starts to add up over the years

    In summary

    It’s a really good bit of kit and I’ve certainly benefited from having it.

    I know that I’m focussing on the price quite a bit. Primarily it’s due it being an ongoing cost. I think it it lasted two years instead of one

    Could you use one of these?

  • Birmingham Marathon 2017

    As mentioned previously…running is a thing now.

    Back in 2016 I ran the London Marathon.

    I got in by pure luck through the ballot, had an amazing time and thought that would be my one and only marathon.

    But I’ve ended up running a lot more since then (and actually enjoying it) so when I heard Birmingham were planning on hosting a marathon for the first time in over 30 years I had to sign up.

    So on Sunday I ran my second Marathon

    I knocked 27 minutes off my London time and just squeezed under 4 hours with a finishing time of 03:59:06


    I’m really pleased with that!

    Having a had a couple of days to take it all in I wanted to share some thoughts on Birmingham’s brand new marathon!

    The Course

    A bit of a mixed bag


    The course started at Alexander Stadium on the outskirts of the city, into and around parts of the city centre, through Canon Hill Park, around Edgbaston Cricket Ground towards Bourneville and then presumably so they didn’t have to shut Birmingham down totally back towards the park again to do it all over again. There is basically a big chunk of it you do twice.


    I wouldn’t have a problem with this generally but there were some really tough climbs in there so knowing you had to do them twice was hard going.

    There were two hills in Bourneville in particular that nearly finished me off

    For comparison, according to my tracking app (Strava) my total elevation gain from London was 449 feet. Birmingham was 1,140 feet!


    The last mile itself had two or three uphill sections that were really the last thing you needed at that point!

    A lot of the marketing messaging around the event talked about it being a fast course. There were sections of it that certainly were quick and for an experienced marathon runner it would have been a good challenge. But for the more casual runner, who Great Run will need to attract if they want to keep running the event, the loop and those tough climbs won’t have those people rushing to sign up again. A lot of first time marathon runners may not come back because of it. I saw a lot of Facebook comments on the Great Run pages that would seem to back that up

    The Birmingham Half Marathon that has been around for years famously had a killer hill at the end (and it is a killer. I ran up it with a torn ankle ligament last year!)

    That hill was taken out, presumably in recognition that it wouldn’t be a good way to end the marathon. 

    It’s a shame as there are some really good things about the course

    Starting in the Stadium was great, running through the park was beautiful and we got to see a wide variety of different parts of Birmingham. 

    The event itself

    I’ve run a few events put on by “Great Run” now and by and large it’s a well oiled machine.

    I don’t have much to complain about. The communication and information in the lead up to the event was good. The Great Run app is fantastic, especially as it allows friends and family to track runners.

    Water stations on the course felt well placed. The lack of a sports drink stop towards the end was commented on by some other runners. My guess is this will have been to do with the mix of marathon and half marathon runners. Gels were offered but I declined them as they were not a brand I’d seen before and I really didn’t want to go for something unknown in the middle of the marathon.

    A tiny gripe was at the finish. It would have been nice to have been given the medal instead of having to fish it out of the bottom of the goodie bag.

    I’ve seen a lot of discussion about having the half marathon on the same day and the loop causing problems with runners of different pace coming together. I didn’t suffer with that too much. The pace I ran at meant that I didn’t have too much of a problem, the timings meant I only came across really fast runners from the wave before me but I can definitely see the faster runners and slower runners coming together and getting in each others way.

    Fast half marathon runners could very easily catch the tail of the slower marathon runners.

    The support from the side lines was great. Though there were big stretches that were devoid of people. There lots of reasons why this would be the case. Time of day, length of the event, some parts were totally impractical for spectators (flyover into the city) but where there were people they made themselves heard.

    My Race

    When I ran at London it wasn’t with any specific goal in mind other than “get over the finish line”

    This time though I really wanted to set myself the goal to try and get under four hours, even though I knew it meant a big step up.

    But I worked really hard to train for it and I was right on course at the half way point and felt really good.

    That was when the hills nearly did me in! The road from the cricket ground to Bourneville is very long and straight but is an incline all the way. Then when you reach the end you turn right and immediately hit a steep hill. I didn’t really notice that incline on the first time through but the second time round it really sapped my strength and the two big climbs just after that were torture.

    My pace dropped off significantly and those internal personal arguments that happen inside every runners head were trying to chip away at me

    “Just walk this bit, and this bit, and this bit”

    “Stop for a little while, it’ll be fine”

    “So what if you don’t quite make 4 hours”

    “You’re never running again”

    As my watch beeped for the end of mile 23 I knew I was getting a lot slower. Even if I kept the same pace that sub four hour mark wasn’t going to happen.

    I had a moment to “have a word with myself” and I gave it everything for the last two miles.

    What was also a massive help was the sight of my eldest daughter running toward me at mile 25. Bryony and Alice had come into Birmingham to cheer me on and instead of waiting at the finish line they’d ventured down the course to try and find me.

    It was a massive help. Alice even ran alongside to shout her encouragement!  


    Then there was the small matter of the final climb to the finish and I just about managed to get a bit of a sprint on towards the line. BrumMedalWithAlice

    On the whole I had a really great day.

    I wouldn’t say I enjoyed the run as much as I have others. I really suffered in the latter parts of the race but the feeling of crossing the finishing line having managed to hit the time I wanted helps to put that to the back of the mind!

    I’m not sure I’ll be back for the same event next year. Maybe the half marathon. Never say never though. 

    But it won’t be my last marathon.

    I’ve got a new time to beat.

  • Testing, Testing (2017 version..)

    Is this thing on?

    The last thing I wrote about was my 10 year “Blogiversary”

    After writing a few paragraphs marvelling at myself for writing for so long I then proceeded to not write anything for a whole year

    Yay me!

    So it is literally a year…today is the 11th anniversary of my first blog post.

    With this landmark approaching it got me thinking into why my output is significantly different to what it was 10 years ago

    It’s not that difficult though. My life is totally different to what it is was 10 years ago.

    My job has totally changed. I do less front line technical work and more management work.

    My family has totally changed. We had a four month old baby when I started here. I’ve now got 8 year old and 11 year old daughters!

    My hobbies and interests have totally changed. Running is a thing now….

    The Internet is different. Social media gives me a wide variety of places to empty my random thoughts into.

    I don’t even look the same!


    All of these have different demands on my time.

    It would be really easy at this point to say

    “I don’t have the time anymore”

    That phrase is a bug bear of mine as it’s rarely totally true for most people.

    What I actually mean is there are other things that are currently more important to me than writing blog posts.

    These three mainly…

    That’s simplifying it little but it covers most of it.

    But I do miss writing here, so I’m going to get back into the habit.

    The other main reason is that I’d forgotten who I was writing for.

    Too many times I’d half write something then abandon it because I didn’t think anyone would be interested

    That doesn’t really matter as my core audience is all that matter

    Me…This is for me

    If anyone else reads it then that’s great (hello!)

    So lets see if I can actually make it to two posts for the next twelve months