FIVE SUMMER GIFTS #1: STM Judge Laptop Brief 15″

STM’s durable and good-looking laptop bag is perfect for commuting, travelling and even a wet festival.

STMIs the STM Judge laptop any good? It’s never easy to find a laptop bag that fits perfectly. Whether it’s too many pockets, wrong shape/colour or non-personal-brand-representing, it’s a struggle.

While I’ve often looked at the high-end, burnished leather from an extortionately expensive Italian designer type of product whenever I have that long-desired ‘result, to date I’ve put up with cheap, black cases that make me look like a lower-manager with an ugly wife and difficult children.

However, please be introduced to the Judge Laptop Brief 15” that I have been roadtesting these past two weeks (and in the colour of the associated image above). And when I mean roadtested, I mean a wet festival in Cornwall when I had no other bag to hand.

First thing is that it doesn’t have too many pockets, that is a very good thing. A strap and a handle, an outside pocket and a couple inside, that is also very good. It can hold a MacBook, charger, newspaper, notebook, phone charger and a paperback without any bulge.

It’s also light. Leather laptop bags when full can be a pain, as if a hot plate has been placed on top of the sciatica and for somebody who has back troubles, a travelling nightmare. Fortunately, the STM Judge passes with ye olde flying colours in this respect.

It has also has ‘SlingTech™’ protection not only pads out the Judge it also suspends it away from the edges of the pack keeping it isolated from the impact zone. I’ll take the retailer’s word for it on this.

Finally, and most pertinently in these increasingly turbulent economic times, the price point at $99 in the US or £64.95 in the UK is reasonable. As would be expected, it can be purchased from the richest man in the world’s site here.

A decent product that should last a decent amount of time. I liked it.

FIVE SUMMER GIFTS: Primus Trail running shoes

A family business and a ‘cobbler’s dream’ are changing the way we wear all our shoes.


PrimusI’ve been wearing the Primus Trail, build and designed by Vivobarefoot, for the past month and they not only been excellent, they have changed my whole attitude to running.

That’s because I hate running and have always been more of a swimmer. Moreover, running shoes have always made me feel a little sick because of their terrible design and an attitude that the less of a shoe we wear the better. In the UK, as soon as it’s March I put on Birkenstocks and wear them until the winter calls.

So, Vivobarefoot interested me because I like barefoot running (if I HAVE to do it) and I like barefoot everything, be it walking or football. I saw their video, which had the feel of the artisan and the perfectionist about it and how their shoes were designed with the bare foot as the template.

It works for me. They look and feel good and when I run in them I feel a little more in tune with nature every time I put my foot down. Naturally, as a man over the age of 30, I can only wear these shoes with shorts or tracksuit pants. If I tried them with jeans I would look very sad, so I don’t do that.

At £90, the price is competitive and they feel as if they will last a long time, which is how sensible people think whenever they’re buying clothes or shoes. So, I’ve named them as my first Summer Gift of 2016. Even though I still hate running.

A Brief History Of Seven Killings: 150-WORD BOOK REVIEW

briefA Brief History Of Seven Killings, Marlon James’ extraordinary third novel has received acclaim from the world’s literary critics and last year won the Man Booker Prize, but it is much more important than that.

Filmic (or more likely boxset-ic) from the start, it’s not surprising that HBO have already bought up the options because this book is magnificent. Like an updated War And Peace set in Kingston and New York, not St Petersburg and Moscow, there are more than enough characters to rival Tolstoy’s creations.

Based on an assassination attempt on Bob Marley when the CIA presumed Jamaica would be one of the dominoes that followed Cuba’s socialist revolution, the depiction of poverty and gangsters in Kingston shines new light on that period of history.

This book, however, is a serious commitment. Its 700 pages, some in patois and others in dreamscape, have to be respected and nurtured in a quiet space without distraction. Once that journey begins, so will yours. An awesome book.

FIVE SUMMER GIFTS #4 – Cat® S40 Refined Rugged Smartphone

CATThe ‘rugged’ smartphone market is growing with more than 10 million sales in 2014. Now, the new Cat® S40 rugged smartphone, an update on the previously released S50 is set to accelerate this market even further.

A recent survey by Cat phones revealed that 80% had damaged a handset in the last five years. Half had cracked or shattered the display, and just less than half had damaged a phone by accidentally dropping and other accidents had befell a further when dropped.

I have done all three things, and that’s only in the past 18 months.

Fixing broken phones is also a primitive business with micro-shops charging ridiculous prices to fix them, so no surprise that groups such as professional tradesmen and outdoor workers are investing in rugged smartphones.

The Cat® S40 rugged smartphone is expensive at around £400 (less on selected sites), but compared with fragile high-end smartphones and virtually indestructible, it is a worthy investment.

Stand-out features of the new S40 include:

● Drop-tested up to 1.8 metres onto concrete
● Super Bright Display capable of being read in direct sunlight
● Large Capacity Battery
● Glove-On Working Technology
● Wet-Finger Tracking Technology
● Waterproof warning sensors lets user know when the phone isn’t waterproof

“Too many people are being let down and left out-of-pocket by damaged smartphones due to them being used in work environments they were not built for. We recognised the need to use our expertise to launch a stylish, rugged smartphone that offers protection alongside style and performance”, said Oliver Schulte, CEO of Bullitt Mobile.

FIVE SUMMER GIFTS #3… 2UNDR chafe-free boxers

2undrAs we all become more athletic and obsessed with our bodies and not our brains, our use of the correct equipment becomes ever more important.

For the male of the species, protection of one’s tackle and its surrounding areas is paramount. No mans likes slipping off a saddle onto a crossbar, being hit between the legs by a cricket ball or being pulled from behind in a rugby scrum.

The long-tail of physical exercise, however, is not immediate pain, but long-term irritation and chafing, inflammation and infections. That’s why comfort is as important as defence. So step forward, the 2UNDR range of boxer shorts.

Somewhat weirdly based on the parental relationship between kangaroo and joey offspring (there’s a pouch!), 2UNDR is a useful asset to any regular athlete’s kit. While I have been wearing the Green Envy edition that is pictured here, there are more salubrious colours to sport.

Selling at between £22.99 and £26.99 and available here to purchase this underwear means that awkward conversation early in the morning with a chemist for treating thrush is unlikely to ever happen. If only for that reason, 2UNDR’s boxers are worth a look.