Jun
22
2011
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EyeTrackUX 2011 – London

I sneaked out of a very busy SimpleUsability office in Leeds to attend the annual eye tracking user experience conference organised by Tobii. This year saw it hosted in London, which was a bit of contrast to some of the more glamorous locations of previous years. I do hope it’s held in a more desirable and warmer surroundings next year, such as Barcelona – which seemed a popular suggestion from the attendees I polled.

I attended once again as a speaker; and also took a seat on the expert panel. I’m not going to blog about every presentation – just the two that left me smiling the most.

The conference launched with a fabulous keynote from Aga Bojko, “Fluffy Bunnies or Research Apocalypse?”

Aga expertly used Prezi to get her message across about where eye tracking was heading and who was entering the market. I was pleased to finally get some data on webcam eye tracking, which suggested

  • only 55% of a sample would provide valid data for analysis,
  • systems offered 1 to 5 degrees of accuracy from a stationary head (5 degrees is a massive issue)
  • a hugely variable sample rate of 5 to 30Hz.

Overall this means webcam eye tracking is only detecting approximate gaze points instead of accurate fixations in sessions of just 5 minutes. No real surprises there, but it was great to hear somebody finally talking detail on this evolving/contentious approach to data collection. Aga then went on to destroy the validity of mouse eye tracking and then bust the myth of visual attention prediction services, like fengui, that people like to tweet about (Some of Aga’s examples are shown here). She rounded off the first half of her talk by asking what eye tracking people are doing about all this stuff, because it has the potential to undermine the quality of work carried out by the people attending the conference.

After a pause, a warmed up Aga proposed that researchers should stop hyping eye tracking and focus on doing actionable research with their eye trackers.  To do this, she started by busting the prevalent myth that 30 users are needed for eye tracking studies. After reminding people where this crazy figure of ’30 users’ came from, Aga recommended that practitioners needed to be more scientific in their approach to choosing sample size, using recognised calculations that take into account problem discoverability and your research aims. Jeff Sauro has a created an online calculator that simply does the maths for you at:

http://www.measuringusability.com/problem_discovery.php

There was a lot more to Aga’s talk than I’ve covered and she finished with an overview of what she meant by making research actionable.

I was impressed and happy; the person writing the book about a topic I feel so passionately about, really gets it and also cares. Huge panic over, I too can now sleep at night. It was a good wake-up call for many in the room and I think a few cages were positively rattled.

My second smiley talk was from Charlotte van Dael, “Eyetracking out there”.

I loved this talk because it was about getting out of the lab to meet users on their ground and the reality of what that actually involves. She shared lots of tips about how you go about conducting studies in the field. SimpleUsability do a mix of lab and field based testing, so much of what Charlotte talked about was familiar. A useful takeaway for me was a suggestion for using wireless transmitters for getting audio into the observation room when off-site.

I think what made me smile most was the reaction of the room to this approach – it seemed like it was something that many hadn’t considered or thought was possible. In wrapping up, Charlotte also took the opportunity to give some feedback to Tobii about their product and some requests.

Over the two days, we got the chance to see lots of different approaches, play with new eye tracking accessories and hear about new services. I was disappointed to find out that Tobii are launching an insight service – you can now rent an eye tracker with a Tobii researcher to drive it. Whilst they claim that it’s not in competition with research companies, I feel it’s the thin end of the wedge and a move that will upset customers.  This does mean that Tobii get to ‘eat their own dog food’, and maybe we’ll see some productivity and reliability changes to Tobii Studio based on feedback from Tobii researchers using systems in commercial research.

Tobii also announced their involvement in developing webcam based eye tracking services. This seemed a strange thing to do, as I thought Tobii wasn’t involved in webcam services.

As always at EyeTrackUX, met lots of new people, informally benchmarked our services against peer offerings, had some great conversations and have returned to the office inspired on a number of levels.

I’m already looking forward to (Barcelona) next year.

Written by Guy in: eye tracking | Tags: , , ,
Jun
30
2010
1

Our Tobii X60 setup at SimpleUsability

When upgrading our Tobii 1750 last year we had to decide between buying an integrated eye tracker such as the T60 or a standalone unit like the X60. Whilst most of our web usability research at SimpleUsability is still carried out on a 17 inch 1024 x 768 display, we’ve increasingly needed to use larger HD displays for print and packaging research. So having a standalone unit which we sat infront of different screens seemed the best option.

The main drawback with the remote eye trackers is when the research participant moves the screen to their prefered distance (as they regularly do in sessions). Because the tracker is not physically attached to the screen, you need to take accurate measurements again so that the software knows where the tracker is in relation to the screen. Taking the measurements is easy – it’s just not conducive to relaxing the user at the begining of a session.

To get around this, we put together a setup that’s easy to unpack and run, without having to measure and the users can move things, and the facilitator can adjust the movements to ensure the screen and Tobii X60 are still aligned. The X60 sits on the monitor stand, so you are free to move the whole unit back and forth to meet the preference of the user. All of the kit goes in a flight case. Setting up just involves lifting the screen to maximum stand height and then placing the X60 underneath so that it’s flush with the bottom of the screen. Just for peace of mind, we use the angle finder iPhone app to make sure the X60 angle is set correctly.

We’ve been asked a few times about our setup – so here are a few photos and notes.

We chose the Iyama P1705S 17 LCD Hard Glass Monitor with adjustable stand. Be careful when ordering, because you need to ensure you’re getting the one with the adjustable stand. The glass screen means we can easily clean off fingerprints and pen marks left by participants.

The only modification we made to the stand was to drill two holes to place two socket cap screws for the Tobii X60 to locate on. If you take the metal plate off the base of the stand, there’s room for nuts to hold the bolts in place. I think I spent 3 hours measuring, checking, re-measuring, drawing datum lines, measuring again etc…. then drilling two holes carefully with a pillar drill. Ideally, you want the bolt heads to be in a line parallel to the VESA plate/screen so that the Tobii X60 is central. If you do get it wrong, you can just take measurements to reflect any offset – but having it all central and lined up is best.

The other modification we’ve done is place black vinyl over the logos on both the screen and tracker and led light at the front of the screen, so that there’s no distractions to the user and no “we’re eye tracking you” label on the X60.

If you are planning to copy our setup with a larger monitor, you need to be aware of the angles/range of the tracker. Larger wide screens will mean that the X60 has to be further in front of the monitor to ensure it can track at the extremities of the screen.

Jun
22
2010
2

SimpleUsability lead the field with running first ever consumer retail research project using the new Tobii Eye Tracking Glasses.

Eye tracking glassesObserving the consumer’s subconscious making decisions in supermarkets.

It’s been over two years since we were first told about a top secret product that Tobii’s R&D team were working on; eye tracking glasses with all the technology hidden from the wearer. I think the exact phrase used was “think Oakley’s meet James Bond”.

To date, all of the wearable/head mounted eye tracking equipment that we have experienced has been a bit cumbersome, with invasive head mounted equipment that usually relied on the participant carrying a laptop with them in a rucksack. The new glasses from Tobii change all of this. They are discrete and simple to use.

Tobii confirmed that SimpleUsability is the first company in the world to have used the new system for consumer research, out in the field, conducting shopping research in supermarkets across the UK. The new lightweight system comprises of a pair of trendy looking glasses and a small recording device that’s similar in size to a portable hard drive.

As a business we pride ourselves in conducting eye tracking studies that observe natural behaviour with minimal research effect. Head mounted eye tracking can be quite invasive – either asking the user to wear a cap or glasses with cameras mounted at the front, constantly reminding the user that they are being monitored. We found that research participants were more than happy to wear the glasses, which meant they naturally got on with their shopping.

To date, we’ve run a number of studies studies with the glasses for both actual in-store shopping and simulated in-store, where shoppers walked up and down projected fixture concepts. The SimpleUsability team are exceptionally happy with the system. The participant simply puts the glasses on, we quickly calibrate, press record, then clipped the recorder to their belt or bag and then sent them off to shop. Takes no more than a few minutes.

Once the shoppers returned from their shop, we just took out the memory card and with a few clicks imported the recording into Tobii Studio. It’s so simple. It usually only took a few minutes to import 45 minutes of eye tracking, allowing us to quickly get on with conducting an in-depth review of the  shopping trip with the shopper.

The big advantages this system has over other wearable eye trackers are:

  • Size and weight – it’s really portable and unobtrusive
  • No crazy head gear or cap – shoppers don’t want to wear caps or funny looking technology on their head. The Tobii system is just like wearing glasses and carrying a video iPod.
  • Great workflow – out in the field you need something that just works and makes sense.

We believe this is going to turn consumer research on it’s head. In the short time we’ve been using the glasses, we’ve learned a huge amount of detail about how the subconscious really makes decisions when out shopping. It’s a well known fact that over 60% percent of human behaviour is automatic and we find that eye tracking is the least intrusive way to observe it.

We will write some more articles about the Tobii eye tracking glasses soon and release some footage from our in-store research.

Sep
27
2009
1

ThinkVisibility 2 – my review

guy-chainsawA few weekends ago I attended the second ThinkVisibility Conference, organised by Dom at Build Events and sponsored by Al Carlton at Conference Calendar. I spoke at the first conference in March 2009, so it was nice to attend without the pressure of being on stage soon. I’m not a huge conference follower, but ThinkVisibility is a unique format that ticks enough boxes for me to attend. It’s hosted on a weekend, so it’s pretty much frequented by those that have a deep interest in the area – no corporate day trippers. Once again, Dom managed to pull together a collection of speakers that, once into the afternoon streams, made it difficult to choose from – all good speakers, with different things to say. The main differentiator that ThinkVisibility has over other conferences is the attitude of attendees and their desire to share more than they normally would. Some speakers embraced this unwritten concept more than others.

venueThere were some big changes when comparing this ThinkVisibility to the first one. The new venue was a huge improvement; it reflected the high quality of talks been given and the layout encouraged some good informal networking. The PA system worked flawlessly and having three theatres in the afternoon was a stroke of genius.

Friday afternoon
domI attended the complimentary talk on Friday given by Tim Nash on behavioural targeting. Once attendees had turned up, Tim delivered a buoyant introduction to user segmentation based on their behaviour. It was interesting to watch how the room got to grips with the concept and then Tim showed us some examples of how people are using this on sites through a feature of CSS. In a nutshell, there’s some code that uses the colour of visited links to understand if a user has visited a site before. From this, you can infer many things, like if a visitor has a PayPal account or guess their gender. I scored a 53% chance of being male based on my history – but I’m fairly careful with the browser history on a work pc. There was a quick discussion about whether the colour of buttons has an impact on the effectiveness of a site. Some people had tested different colours and felt that some colours performed better than others. I feel it’s a lot more complex than single colours outperforming others, with contrast and context being key considerations. There’s a growing amount of info available on persuasion architecture, and I’m lucky enough to be working at the cutting edge with our behavioural research at SimpleUsability. It was a good start to the conference.

Friday night
Al CarltonI had the pleasure of sitting with Julian Shambles from the telegraph and Al Carlton of Conference Calendar. Julian kept us entertained with some informal banter about user generated content on the telegraph website. We adjourned upstairs to the Skylounge at City Inn for a few beers where I chatted with a few new and familiar faces. Highlight of the evening was chatting about the gold recycling industry.

Saturday
yoastI’d never heard of Joost de Valk – so I didn’t know what to expect. His talk was fab. He rattled through his views and understandings on some pretty heavy subjects like page caching and content delivery networks. His style was great. It was like listening to somebody from Nasa just chatting generally about the issues we all face when building rockets and flying to the moon, in a way that made you realise we are all building rockets. Really useful stuff delivered in a very humble manner. Possibly the highlight of my day.

Next up was Julian from the Telegraph, who gave a more formal overview of how the telegraph is growing, playing catch up to the more established online players. Julian offered us all an open invitation to pop in next time we’re down in London, which is pretty cool.

Judith Lewis then gave a talk on Maximising Universal Search. Another speaker I had no real former knowledge of, apart from her pre-conference tweets about not wanting to share slides. I was expecting some real gems of knowledge to be shared, as previous speakers like Dave Naylor had done. This was not the case and Judith delivered a very good SEO training presentation which was well received by the floor – but was not really why I attend ThinkVisibility. Judith also presented a few slides with the infamous (and flawed) eye tracking F-pattern on it. I hate the f-pattern and smiled as Fiona was next on, ‘de-bunking the f-pattern’.

Over lunch there was a candid ‘ask the panel’ session which was really entertaining.

fionaLunch was followed by my colleague, Fiona talking about the behavioural research we carry out at SimpleUsability. This was my biggest dilemma of the day – I also wanted to watch Elaine and Dave from All Kids in another theatre, but Fiona won my eyes and ears. As ever, Fiona confidently presented to a busy room of people, sharing her enthusiasm for eye tracking. Fiona shared some footage from the research we carry out, giving the audience access to some major insights about how the F-pattern doesn’t really exist and the truth about how people really engage with websites.

I then went to watch Chris Clarkson lead us through his wild journey as a successful affiliate. Chris’s talk, in my eyes, was pretty much what ThinkVisbility is about for me. He shared a lot of experiences, some of them quite sobering, in a casually confident manner. I learnt some really cool stuff.

The penultimate talk was from Karyn Fleeting on corporate blogging. Her talk was good and my second Prezi presentation of the day. She was a little uncomfortable with the video camera recording but kept the pace up and shared many insights. It was refreshing to hear somebody in Karyn’s space actually understanding the medium of blog.

arturLast talk of the day was from Artur Ortega about how accessibility has driven innovation in everyday items we take for granted. Artur’s a great presenter and the topic was interesting. I was hoping that Artur was going to demonstrate some of the tech he uses, as at previous events, some of the audience had queried the business case for accessible code and I’ve always found that watching somebody use assistive technology makes it more real to the doubters.

benny-to-yorkAt the end of the conference, we lead a human train back across Leeds to the City Inn. After completing an hour of work with Fiona in the reception, we had a few drinks with conference attendees. Whilst I could have drunk all night, I had to leave early. Sunday morning saw me heading down south to pick up a new husky puppy to add to our gang.

A big thank you to Dom and the team and the sponsors for another ThinkVisbility. Credit goes to sk8geek for some great photos. 

I just wish the Eye Tracking conferences we attend were that insightful.

Written by Guy in: Cosmic | Tags: , , , ,
May
02
2009
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SimpleUsability back from Internet World 2009

To say I’m exhausted, is an understatement. We spent most of this week exhibiting at Internet World 2009, held in Earls Court 2. Three of us manned the stand and were kept busy for much of the time. This was our third show, so we knew the ins and outs of internet world show life.
We had a great time and have already signed up a bigger stand at Internet World 2010.
We took the opportunity to trial some new messaging about our offering, and it seemed to work. The big suprise was the orange dog we brought along from the office. Our big plastic dog – Magis Puppy Adult – was a great conversation starter – as well as a handy seat. We also received alot of praise for the 2 meter high eye tracking plots we hung on a curtain rail so that we could pull them out to show the detail we observe with our testing.
The bad news is that 4 days out the office means that this bank holiday weekend will be more of a working catchup weekup weekend.

Written by Guy in: eye tracking,usability |
Jan
30
2009
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World Famous Aviemore Sled Dog Rally

Guy Redwood - Racing Huskies in Aviemore 2009I’m finally back from co-organising the famous husky race in Aviemore. This year we had a waiting list for entrants and have many exciting plans for next year. Press day was fun and it’s nice to see so much footage on a news report. It was also a pleasure to share some of our annual pilgrimage with The Hodge, rumour has it he will return next year.

Stv article – watch the movie and see us in action.

Written by Guy in: Influences | Tags: , ,
Jan
01
2009
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A fabulous start to 2009

I woke this morning to a text message from a dear friend.

Have a fantastic 2009 darling and go nowhere other than where your dreams take you. You are special.

Indeed.

Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
Jan
01
2009
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Your heavy burden of not feeling authentic

Taken from a kawasaki tweet link to an article in Psychology Today:

“People carry around a heavy burden of not feeling authentic,” he says, “because they have failed marriages and their work life hasn’t gone the way it should, and they’ve disappointed everybody, including themselves. When people think of these as just failures, as opposed to learning experiences, they don’t have to feel the weight of their lives or the choices they’ve made.”

In short, there’s no such thing as failure, only feedback.

Make 2009 your year of being real, being authentic.

Written by Guy in: Noise |
Dec
29
2008
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Interesting Times

Grok linked to a 15 year old cartoon from my favourite stable – Calvin & Hobbes
Supply & Demand - Calvin & Hobbes

Which then reminded me of Tom’s enlightening post about the usa car manufacturers handouts

All rather uncomfortably funny.

Written by Guy in: Noise | Tags:
Dec
29
2008
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Business Frameworks – the reality

Fun and serious review of how business is structured in reality. As a usability company, we deal in the reality of expectations – we don’t aim to change the world, just oil the wheels and maybe point our users in the best possible direction.

Sigurd’s explaination of business frameworks.

Written by Guy in: Noise | Tags:
Dec
24
2008
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Iphone email footer

All emails sent from my iPhone get a signature attached that says ‘sent from my 3g iPhone’. This is just a slightly modified default signature which I’ve never changed. I was asked about this recently and thought I’d share it here.

The signature serves a few purposes. Recipients need to know the email came from the iPhone because:
Emails are shorter and more focused due to the lack of proper keyboard.
Emails will have typos in them for the same reason
Emails may also have strange words in them due to the auto spell checking.

It’s my way of saying ‘here’s my quick response, reader be aware’

Written by Guy in: Cosmic | Tags:
Dec
22
2008
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Think Visibility – a new conference in Leeds

I’ve been invited to speak at the new Think Visibility conference in Leeds, organised by Dom Hodgson. This conference pulls together a range of respected speakers focusing on online visibility and conversion. If you are involved in etail, this should be a no brainer decision, you’d normally pay big money to see just one of two of these speakers, but Dom, in his usual way, has managed to bring it all under one roof for a nominal fee of £30.
My talk will be centred around customer strategy and how you need to mirror their behaviour to engage. I will have a few interesting props and some eye tracking footage to demonstrate just how brutal users can be.
Think Visibility, Saturday 7th of March 2009 – you’ve got no excuses.

Written by Guy in: conference,seo,usability |
Dec
16
2008
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Accountable Marketing

Taken from Sally McKenzie – as I added her to my twitter feed.

….companies and clients, large and small who have made the successful transition to marketing accountability, they have some important things in common:

They view marketing as a strategic function vs. a discreet set of tasks
They identify success metrics up front before they “test” anything. After all, what are you testing if you don’t know what you’re measuring?

They align the organization around common metrics and communicate progress regularly. Marketing accountability requires that you work across the entire organization: finance, sales, operations, customer service, IT, etc. in order to be successful. Example: you can buy keywords and put up web pages all day long, but if the person answering the phone or processing orders isn’t aware or on board, your ROI will plummet.

They take the long view, starting at a level realistic for their company’s size and resources and build from there. They watch metrics to get early benchmarks and then seek ongoing improvements vs. overnight fireworks. They stick with it vs. hopping across trial and error tactics. They understand that integration of customer data and automation of measurement processes will be a lengthy but worthwhile.

They focus on progress, not perfection. Getting all of the numbers and data sources to line up, getting every program to execute perfectly, it just doesn’t happen But that’s not a reason to scrap your quest to accountable marketing. In fact, it’s the reason to keep going, keep pushing, keep moving forward. Evolution, like momentum is a hard thing to break once it’s started.

full article

Written by Guy in: Cosmic,marketing |
Dec
04
2008
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Persuasive Content

Great article about the importance of influential content.
http://www.uxmatters.com/MT/archives/000357.php
1. Talk like a person.
2. Establish credibility.
3. Use the right tone for the brand or situation.
4. Be courteous in your timing and placement of content.
5. Remind customers of differentiators and benefits.
6. Appeal to both the left and the right brain—the rational and the emotional.
7. Tell stories.
8. Consider using metaphors.
9. Avoid cheap tricks.
10. Don’t forget to use images, video, speech, and audio.

Once you’ve done all this, test the effectiveness of your copy through eye tracking.

Written by Guy in: eye tracking,Persuasive Content |
Nov
15
2008
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Product choosing behaviour exposed through eye tracking

Typical room scene

Typical Big Bathroom Shop room scene

This week, we had a retailer of bathroom suites in for a day of eye tracking. The testing covered a range of customer journeys and a range of bathroom websites. Whilst I can’t disclose all the good stuff we discovered there is a key finding that I’ll share, as we’ve seen it many times before, in other B2C testing and one that may help a few online retailers out there.

As a retailer, you want to display your products in the best possible way, helping your customer choose the most suitable product. Logic tells you that the best way to do this it to have very clear photography of the actual products, helping the user see the differences between them.

Scene showing Wall Stickers from Wallglamour

Scene showing Wall Stickers from Wallglamour

Eye tracking showed us that the users do make initial decisions using the photography and then supporting information like price. We all know that good photography is the cornerstone of a successful online shop. What we saw again in this testing, is that users prefered to chose products that were displayed in room scenes that they liked, over products that were displayed individually. In essence, the users were buying a ‘look’ and not the product, even though the retailer is only supplying the key items displayed, not the total look.

What does this mean to a retailer?
If your product creates a ‘look’, I would recommend conducting some A/B testing to compare the effectiveness of scene photography and component photography. I would also make sure that you have a range of different scenes, so that your products look distinctly different. Displaying different products in the same room scene will not work. You need different products in different room scenes. The down side to this is that if the customer doesn’t like your room scene, they won’t buy the product.

How did we see this?
Eye tracking allows us to see through the users’ eyes and observe their decision process.

Written by Guy in: eye tracking,usability |
Nov
09
2008
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Projected interface

mini projectors are becoming more popular and this demo maybe closer to mainstream than you’d think. with a new generation gps device – you could mark up the world and subscribe to your prefered publisher of world notes/graffiti.

Written by Guy in: Cosmic | Tags:
Nov
08
2008
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Excluding females?

December sees the second girl geek dinner in Leeds. As someone schooled in a range of inner-city schools, some of them quite hard, I’m not a fan of exclusion. In it’s extreme, it can be fatal.

Creating an event that’s in a universal domain, and then telling people they’re not eligible to attend, because of their sex, is counter productive.

Do women in technology need special treatment?

Which then leads onto the flipside, what would a boy geek dinner look like?

To be honest I don’t care, gender shouldn’t exclude.

If you want to understand gender – go speak to Rikki.

Written by Guy in: Cosmic | Tags: , ,
Nov
08
2008
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I want to be a retailer

Whenever our usability business engages with an online retailer who’s got a good proposition, I’m always a little envious of the position they’re in. Online retail is really exciting, the rewards are well earned for those that get it right and the detail people need to do on the customer journeys is big. For brief moments, I start to day dream and think of what I could do with their propositions… working 365 days a year, fulltime on a good retail site would be so much fun. Infact, as much fun as running an eye tracking company.

I have a few ideas on ways to help a few lucky retailers in an unconventional manner and will hopefully blog about it soon.

Written by Guy in: usability | Tags: ,
Nov
02
2008
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Leeds media on an iphone

Leeds media website on the iPhone. Is that the best that Leeds has to offer? I’m guessing it also fails on the accessiblity front.

Written by Guy in: Rants | Tags:
Oct
26
2008
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Iphone blogging

Blogging from the iPhone would be much better with a bluetooth keyboard. Shame apple have nobbled bluetooth so much.

Written by Guy in: blogging | Tags: