Fractal Design Node 804

Through a spot of good luck and maybe partially due to the keyboard I reviewed recently – I was chosen by Fractal Design to review the Node 804 Micro ATX case recently released by Fractal design.

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This was particulary exciting having gone through a number of MATX cases and never finding one I’ve liked enough to want to stick with – the best so far had been the Silverstone TJ-08, an odd upside down MATX case with a massive 180mm intake fan in the front.  This case fit most of my requirements but i knew water cooling was going to be a problem down the line – you simply can’t cool two Nvidia GTX 760’s and CPU adequately with a 180mm radiator (if you can even find one).  The case was also fairly noisy! having owned Fractal Design cases in the past – I knew the Fractal Design Node 804 would have to be much quieter.

To kick things off lets take a look at some of the features shall we!

Fractal Design has this to say about it’s new case:

Key Features
Specifications
* Highly effective dual chamber case layout for best possible cooling.
* Minimalistic design with an elegant brushed aluminum front panel
* Unique hard drive mounting system, fitting up to 8 x 3.5″, 4 x 2.5” or up to 10 x 3.5”, 2 x 2.5″ drives HDD/SSD
* Three Fractal Design Silent Series R2 fans included with the case and space for an additional 7 fans.
* Excellent water cooling support with space for up to 4 radiators simultaneously.
* All intakes feature removable dust filters providing a dust-free interior.
* Featuring a window side panel to show off your set up in style.
* Additional space in the front to mount a slim slot-in ODD, optical bay drive, and 2 x 2.5″ drives.
* Fan controller included.
* Five expansion slots that allows for multiple GPU setups.
* Micro ATX and Mini ITX motherboard compatibility
* 8 - 3.5″ HDD positions
* 2 - 2.5″ dedicated SSD unit positions
* 2 - Extra positions for either 3,5″ or 2,5″ drives
* 5 expansion slots
* 1 additional space in the front for Slot-In ODD
* 10 - Fan positions (3 x 120mm Silent Series R2 fans included)
* Filtered fan slots in front, top and bottom
* CPU coolers up to 160 mm in height
* PSU compatibility: ATX PSUs up to 260 mm deep
* Graphics card compatibility: Graphics cards up to 320mm in length. Graphics cards up to 290 mm in length may be installed if a fan is installed in the lower position in the front.
* Velcro strap for easy cable management
* Clear Window side panel included
* Colors available: Black
* Case dimensions (WxHxD): 344 x 307 x 389 mm
Net weight: 6 kg
Package dimensions (WxHxD): 370 x 468 x 412 mm
Package weight: 7.7kg

Now i have some personal comments to make on some of these features which I’ll address throughout my review – but i must say for a MATX case these are some impressive numbers and features.

Now lets get into the nitty gritty.

Outward Design:

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This case sure is attractive, typical of Fractal Designs Scandinavian design influence it’s understated, classy and free of typical ‘gamer’ design choices (except for maybe the window – which is subjective).  It has plenty of mesh however, it’s very fine which allows it to blend in with the matte black plastic and steel panels – but allows plenty of airflow.  As you can see the front is fairly plain – free of USB ports or ugly slot covers – something to keep in mind is that there are no 5.25 in slots on this case – however a laptop style CD drive can be fitted to the front panel.

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The entire top of the case is a mesh panel – there isn’t much to say here really.  It’s attractive and like the front understated and allows your fans/radiators to suck through plenty of air.  This panel is “filtered” however the filter is the fine mesh.  It has a pretty good mounting mechanism which works by sliding in place – similar to a normal side door on a case and works fairly well.  It’s made of a metal mesh and plastic.

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The sides of the case are pretty standard – on the left hand side of the case you have a great window allowing you to show off the guts of the case – I think it’s a great feature and enjoy a window myself.  The right hand panel is a complete solid sheet.  For some, this might be a shame as the right hand side will allow you to hold radiators, pumps, hard drives and radiators one might want to show off – however it’s also where the bulk of your cables are going to show and there are some cable management limitations I’ll get into later making it difficult to get it very neat.

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Here we have the slit in the front panel showing where you can fit a slim ODD drive.  I guess you could use the space for a 2.5in drive also.  You can also see here the USB ports, media ports and power button.

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Lets take a look at the back – those with experience with building PC’s should be able to gauge exactly how the internal layout of this case is going to look, others might be a little confused as it’s a little unconventional.  You won’t see anything but the bare necessities here – you won’t find any convenience lighting or a tool less GPU or PSU holders.

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Finally the base – mostly I’m just showing this to showcase the filters.  The base is able to hold a radiator or fans – but you won’t be able to fit these with a second GPU seated.  Both filters are removable and easily cleaned.

Internal Design:

The internals of this case while not unique – is a newer design trend that we are now seeing in the case market.  The first case I had noticed with this kind of layout would be the Corsair Air 540 (however it may not be the first).

The design allows some great options for fitting a lot of gear but not entirely without it’s drawbacks.  The biggest problem is that it’s a pretty big case – Fractal Design doesn’t hide it’s measurements but having seen it’s smaller buddy, the Node 304 this case is so much bigger.  Though MATX isn’t overly small – this is a big MATX case.

None the less the layout works well and the case is very easy to build in despite using an unconventional design – it’s actually pretty easy to build in and took little adjustment to work with.  To be honest coming from a Silverstone TJ-08 it wouldn’t take much for a case to feel easy to work with – but I assume if you’ve built in a standard ATX case before there isn’t much new here.

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The main chamber lends itself to beautiful builds relgating the PSU to the other side of the case is great as to be honest the PSU is generally pretty ugly and removing that eyesore and the bulk of the cables means you can really make something special.  I’m very happy with how my build turned out.

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The ‘hot’ side of the case can house 2 front 140mm fans, 2 top 140mm fans and a rear 120mm fan.  In my build I’m using 2 120mm fans in the front and a Corsair h80 on the 120mm fan slot.  It’s worth noting that there is a 3 speed fan controller switched from the back of the case – you can attach 3 fans.  It’s also worth noting that while Fractal Design includes 3 fans – they’re all pretty anemic though very quiet – you will probably need to add or replace these fans to get adequate thermal performance with high end gear – however with all the fan slots this case would have to be one of the coolest on the market if you decide to turn it into a wind turbine.  280mm radiators are supposed to fit in this case – but my 280mm rad would not fit unfortunately, it must be slightly longer than standard.  I’d be using 240mm rads myself as a 280 would be an extremely tight fit.

A small criticism with the main chamber is mostly of convenience.  A lot of cases now come with the motherboard risers reinstalled – this case does not.  Adding to that problem Fractal design doesn’t separate the screws in little baggies – they’re all just dumped in one and you need to sort them out from there.  So you then need to separate the risers, find the correct screws for the risers and then install them all – not a deal breaker but for a case of this price and quality it would make the build a little simpler.  Also nothing is tool less so you’ll need a screw driver to install everything.  For the most part this is a preference of mine, but those who swap hardware a lot will find it painful.

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The biggest problem is probably cable management – namely there is very little.  Fractal Design did add a few tie down points in perplexing places and they did add a strap to hold down the wire mess.  You know what would be super cool here though is something like the PSU cover built into the NZXT H440 just to keep things really neat.  Certainly more tie down points behind the mother tray at a minimum – currently there are none at all that I can see – Though I was able to make the cabling fairly neat as you can see.

I’d probably like to see the grommetted holes used on other Fractal Design cases to really separate the chambers – though I suspect that would make water cooling using both chambers more difficult.

Something that isn’t immediately apparent that is nice about the cube case is that you no longer have to jam the side panel on over the cables you’ve hid behind the mobo tray – you’ve got oodles of room and this feels like a bit of a luxury.  Unfortunately there isn’t really anywhere to tie the cabling to behind the motherboard tray.  To neaten up my build I mostly just zip tied the cabling to the other cabling to make a fairly ridged mass of cables – works more or less.

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Fractal design has also chosen to include a strap to hold down some of the cables which you can see here – it works but as mentioned earlier a small box to cover it would make more sense and perhaps even give you a nice place to mount your pump and other parts in a water cooling setup.

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On the right hand side of the case you’ll also find a 140mm fan point above the PSU and 2 140 fan points on the front and 2 on the roof.  Again you might have trouble fitting a 280mm rad here however.  Having said that if you don’t need the hard drive cage you can go bananas on super thick 240 radiators.  One thing Fractal Design hasn’t done is made it obvious how you would get the piping from the left section of the case to the right – so you’ll need to be creative.

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Probably the only other item of note is the actual hard drive cages.  I would have actually liked to see these disk cages with the same sliding trays as the other Fractal Design cases use just for ease of use.  In this setup to swap or add a disk the entire cage would need to be removed rather than a single tray.  The other issue i see here is that you need to keep the cables very close to the motherboard behind the cages as you wont be able to push them in far enough to screw them in.  I wasn’t able to screw in both which is why one is missing in the pics.

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The Rest:

There is just so much to write about this case and I’ve already covered a lot pretty extensively – however it still has a few more tricks up it’s sleeve worth mentioning.

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Firstly the front panel has a neat system to mount 2 SSD’s and a slim ODD drive (or you’d think another SSD/2.5in disk.  There is plenty of room to cable in here – though you’d likely need to run a second SATA power cable here as chaining them might be difficult.

The power buttons, USB and sound wiring also route through here however this isn’t really a great solution as it makes taking the front panel all the way off impossible without unplugging everything – you rarely need to but installing new fans is tedious with the front panel at cables length.  A better solution would be to build these ports into the chassis instead of onto a removable panel.

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Here’s a quick snap of the fan filters I’ve also mentioned.  These aren’t as fine as say a DEMCI filter but they’ll do the job – just remember to frequently clean them as fans will still suck dust through these.

Final Thoughts:

I’ll be honest – I was expecting to like this case.  I know Fractal Design and I know the kind of products they put out – they’re high quality, mid ranged on the price scale, always ‘sexy’ and generally pretty quiet.  I’m happy to say that on that front we don’t really have anything new here, it meets all of Fractal Design’s typical ideals which is awesome.

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I can’t pick any glaring fault that should stop you pulling the trigger – the bottom line is that if you’re after a case that’s a little different to the typical ATX form factor packed into one of the coolest MATX cases around this is it.

This case is aimed at the experienced builder and does away with a lot of the convenience features most of it’s competitors ship with these days.  Screws aren’t separated in bags, nothing is pre-installed (asides the fans) and nothing is tool less.  Honestly this isn’t a negative for me, but other people do seem to care.

Having said that, it is an Enthusiast case.  Fractal Design could have made the case much smaller without thinking too much – however you’d lose the superb water cooling support, oodles of room for high end hardware and the room to fit your hands in there to keep things tidy.  The case is pretty large for MATX and pretty expensive at about $170 AUD – you probably wouldn’t use it to build your mum a computer in.

Value wise – to be honest it’s probably a little expensive – you’ll get similar quality and features at lower price points but often less attractive formats.  You’ll have trouble finding even full size cases with the kind of water cooling support you can cram into this case too.

Do I recommend it? Definitely!  It’s a great even without utilizing the water cooling capacity and truly comes into it’s own once you have thrown some big GPU’s and a hardcore water cooling setup with up to 4  radiators.

 The Good:

  • Solid build quality – even the door panels are pretty thick and the case doesn’t flex when moving it around, much better than the Corsair or even Silverstone cases I’ve handled recently.
  • It looks awesome – it has a great understated presence on my desk – and does away with the gamer vibe common with a lot of enthusiast cases.
  • Awesome water cooling support!
  • Massive airflow

The Bad:

  • It’s pretty big – not a major flaw, but bigger than you might expect for MATX.
  • Front panel is very difficult to work with once it’s wired up – switches and ports should be mounted onto the chassis on a non removable panel.
  • Case is not tool less in any way.
  • Included screws are lumped into a single bag not separated by type.
  • Motherboard risers not pre-installed.
  • Not enough cable tie, tie down points.

Obligatory score:

9 out of 10 – Very minor changes would make this case virtually perfect, absolutely recommended.  One of, if not the best MATX case readily available on the market!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips to survive unemployment

Things aren’t great in the job market right now and many Australians are going through some tough times. Here’s some hints and tips that I’ve put together that should help get you through some difficult situations and help scrape enough together to make rent and pay bills.

Get a bike

Cycling is one of the cheapest ways to get around, modern bikes are reliable, require little maintenance and what little is required can be done by anyone capable of holding an allen key. Brisbane has many bike tracks – and it’s also legal to ride on the pedestrian path ways making getting around pretty easy – most cities are the same. It’s a great way to get fit and the exercise will make you feel good – a pick me up can help give you the boost you need to get back to looking for work. Bikes can often be found cheaply online or at garage sales.  You might even be lucky to be able to borrow a friend or relatives bike which is going unused.

Avoid public transport (unless you really need it)

Unfortunately most public transport is not subsidised while on government benefits – so it adds up quickly. Cycling, walking and other less convenient options are a great way to save money here – save your pennies for when you need to get to job interviews or long distance travel. Unfortunately not everybody lives close to the city so your milage may vary with this one.

Cook your own meals

Seriously stop eating out.  You can make amazing food for not a lot of money at home and you’ll feel better too.  Many feel that cheap fast food meals are the answer to eating cheaply however those 2 dollar cheeseburgers aren’t as cheap as you think. Cooking yourself could get your food budget down to 5 dollars a day (per person) if you plan correctly. If you can’t cook learn!  Use the time you have to practice a valuable life skill.

Avoid supermarkets

Following on from cooking for yourself, some great savings can be had on your food budget if you avoid the big supermarkets. While is true that they have some great deals on the staples – such as $2 milk and $1 onions – generally you’re paying more for everything else. Find your local farmers market and religiously go.  My SO and I generally are able to buy enough vegetables to last about 2 weeks for about $20 – $30. There is the added smugness of supporting local businesses too and putting more money into the hands of the farmers. Find a great local bulk meat butcher for your meat and buy in bulk when you can.  You can save big on buying bulk cuts of meat and cutting it down into steaks yourself or separating into smaller single use portions.  The meat quality from butchers tends to be better and the pricing (especially in bulk amounts) significantly cheaper.

Quit Drinking!

It might seem like a good idea to pass the time when unemployed – but alcohol is expensive and should really be considered a luxury.

Avoid pubs and clubs and suggest house parties with your friends instead for some much needed social interaction. When meeting friends in public, suggest instead of booze you go out for froyo or a coffee – you can’t afford to this often but you you can keep the outing to a $10 cost instead of $100+ for a night out of the town.

You might not be the most popular person in your friends list but you need to make sacrifices and alcohol is a no brainer when it comes to cuts.

Pick up a hobby

Get good at something while you have spare time – now you are not going to be able to get a pilots licence or pick up drag racing but you might be able to learn to code or pick up bicycle maintenance skills.

Perhaps start reading books again or pick up an exercise habit.

Try and pick something productive and useful as your new hobby might just end up a career avenue for you.

Use the internet to your advantage

You can find a lot of resources on the internet do just about anything.  Perhaps something in this article has inspired you, but you’re not sure where to start – google is your friend.

A great way to save money is to find solutions to problems online – harness  the power of the internet for good and kick start your new hobbies and life goals.

 

Tt eSports POSEIDON Z Illuminated Keyboard

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Due to a bit of luck on my part I was selected by Thermaltake Australia to provide some feedback and review the Thermaltake Tt eSports Poseidon Z illuminated Mechanical Keyboard.

I’ve owned many a keyboard in the past including a few mechanical so I am certainly excited to give this one a run through it’s paces and compare it to other mechanical keyboards using Cherry MX switches.

At a glance it certainly appears to be capable – some of it’s features include:

  • Fully illuminated back lit keys

  • Mechanical switches

  • Anti-Ghosting 6-8 key rollover

  • Windows key disable switch (never accidentally tab out of a game again!)

  • Media Keys

  • 5 Year warranty!

with that in mind, lets get stuck into it shall we?

Typing

The keyboard has a pretty good feel compared to other keyboards i’ve used.  the keys strike with a lovely clack and have that wonderful response you get from mechanical keyboards as your fingers strike the keys.  The key caps feel nice they fit snugly on the switches which lends to a pretty nice experience.

However like most things in life there are some niggles.  The biggest thing that strikes me is that the keys are not consistent, for example on my example the A key feels a mushy  and heavy compared to S or D and weirdly Q and W seem to respond much better again – it’s hard to describe in words, but you can “feel” some irregularities in the switches used.  Typing can be quite jarring when you hit multiple keys on the keyboard and they all feel different.  Comparatively on my Filco Majestouch every key is very consistent and they all feel the same – I know this is a gaming keyboard but it’s something to consider, though in game it’s a non issue.

While not necessarily a negative the keys require a little more activation pressure than my Filco keyboard and I certainly get more finger fatigue using this keyboard over a Filco Majestouch, or even the HP rubber dome keyboard I used at work.  Something to consider though is that this is my first 48 hours with this keyboard and it always takes some time to adjust.

Overall it’s an improvement on just about any rubber dome keyboard out there.  Some will find the keys take some getting used to, people who’re used to typing on laptop style keys will take longer again as this keyboard is pretty much the other end of the spectrum.

Lastly, and one very important thing to mention is that it’s a completely standard layout.  If you’re already using a keyboard with a standard QWERTY layout you won’t need to adjust to any quirks.  This might not sound important – however I once owned a keyboard with a smaller than normal left CTRL key and that was so rage inducing that that particular keyboard met an untimely death.  Buy a keyboard with an adjusted layout at your peril…

7/10

Gaming

Certainly gaming is what this keyboards built for and it doesn’t disappoint.  While not as full featured as other gaming keyboards it makes up for it with great responsive keys that do what you want when you want.  The keys give you a great feel when struck which provides feedback and thus confidence that the key you wanted actually did it’s job.  In the heat of a game when you’re wildly hitting keys this can really help to know just from feel that you’ve actually registered the keystroke.

They keys respond very quickly and there would be next to 0 lag between repeating keystrokes despite making my self red in the face in the progress i couldn’t manage to make the keyboard miss by repeatedly mashing a key – I actually haven’t experienced this problem in a keyboard, but I have read some mechanical keyboard switch styles do exhibit this problem – thankfully Thermaltake have avoided this here.

The back lit keys are excellent for some late night gaming – who hasn’t when they’re a little tired gone searching for a key and had to angle the keyboard up to the glow of your monitor to find the pipe character (|) key or something.  I’m a pretty competent typist, but I am guilty of not knowing exactly where every character is on the keyboard.

Basically for gaming I can’t fault it – sure, it’d be nice to have palm rests and macro keys and other gizmo’s – but does it need it? No, I don’t think so.  Some people out there might have a genuine need for macros and other such features – but I and i’d imagine the majority of the population have little genuine need and they would go unused anyway.

9/10

Style

The keyboard looks fantastic and thankfully a lot less tacky than a lot of the gaming keyboards out there.  I love the fact that the keys use a pretty standard type face (unlike a certain brand).

It has a great presence on my desk and looks the part – it would be really nice to be able to change the colours of the LED’s so you can match a theme you might have going – personally before I purchased my Logitech G502 I would have preferred red LED’s to match my mouse – overall not that important but something to think about.

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From a design point of view the only bit that irks me is the top right of the keyboard that contains the indicators and a button which disables the Win key.  This button isn’t overly attractive, doesn’t glow or match the other keys and overall looks pretty out of place.  The dragon logo here seems poorly thought out and actually off center (I measured it, it’s about 1cm to far left).  It kinda feels like they just put it there to fill some space.

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Overall though the keyboard looks awesome on the desk and the back lit keys are really bright and sexy.  Thankfully as well Thermaltake took a less is more approach and didn’t overload it with ‘gamer’ graphics and flashy logos, one might even say that this keyboard appeals to the mature gaming crowd – someone who wants a pretty standard looking keyboard, with just enough bling to remind you that it’s a premium product.

8/10

Build Quality and Feel

Considering how well the keyboard has fared so far it’s probably not surprising to learn that the build quality and weight of this keyboard is pretty darned good.  The board has a fair heftiness to this that is at least equal to the Filco Majestouch (perhaps even a smidge heavier)  The benefits of a heavy keyboard are numerous, but mostly it stops it moving around unexpectedly on your desk and ensures you’ve got a solid weapon at LANs when things get rough over a game of COD.

The keycaps themselves could use improvement.  It appears they’re made of a clear plastic and then coated black leaving the lettering exposed – they look great when new, but there is the danger that over time you’ll wear off the black down and end up with some pretty ugly keys.  Furthermore, i have to mention that when using the keyboard with the LEDs turned off the lettering isn’t super clear – though most would use it with the LEDs all the time.

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The “E” key specifically on my sample has a weird rough texture – it’s uniform enough it might be deliberate but i don’t see the same texture on photos online.  I’d argue it’d make sense if it was on the WASD keys to help orientate your fingers – but just the “E” seems a little odd to me, i’d be interested to see if this is the same on all or if mine is an exception.

Notice the oddness on the 'E' key?

Notice the oddness on the ‘E’ key?

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Finally, I’m not really sure why there are rubber strips along the top of the keyboard – they don’t seem to serve any purpose – they however hamper nothing.

Overall though, i am very happy with the build quality and i have no doubts that this keyboard would last for the 5 year warranty period.  Thermaltake certainly believe in it and it’s great to see a company really get behind their products – well done TT.

8/10

Final Impressions

I must say, i’ve been nothing but impressed to be honest.  Thermaltake never took me as a quality producer of peripherals.  I’ve owned products by better known (in this sphere) and more regarded companies and have been so terribly disappointed (to the point where i refuse to buy their products) yet Thermaltake, a relative upstart has made something that within days i’m proud to be using and feel like it’ll stand the test of time.  It feels solid, performs excellently and i’m sure as time progresses and i acclimate more to it, it’ll be become indispensable.  My review might sound picky and it is but I think it’s important to tell the whole story.

Thermaltake have impressed with the quality here and it’s certainly given me pause to consider their products more in future.  I urge anyone in the market for a keyboard to consider the Tt eSports Poseidon Z for their next purchase.

My final score is 8/10

The good:

  • Solid build quality

  • Good looks

  • 5 year Warranty

The bad:

  • Keycaps could be better

  • Some switches feel inconsistent

  • Not especially stylish if you’re after a modern minimal look.
  • Some weird design choices

  • Weird rough “E” key on my sample

Shaving the right way, an introduction to wet shaving – Part 1

Before you heading out into the world it’s important to fix up and look sharp.  Part of being a stylish man is ensuring your facial hair is in order and for most without the genetics or patience to grow a decent beard that means shaving.

One of the best ways to shave is using a double edge razor using the wet shaving method – what we end up with is a relaxing ritual that leaves you feeling refreshed and smooth clean shave.

You do not need a lot to get started and the equipment is bound to last you years –  A decent razor will last a lifetime.  Here’s what you will need:

  • A Razor
  • Shaving Cream
  • A Shaving Brush
  • Razor Blades
  • After Shave

The Razor:

Razors are highly subjective and a somewhat personal choice.  with the wide variety of options available to you one might feel somewhat overwhelmed. Thankfully the Merkur HD happens to be a razor that for (most people) works really well.  It has a great balance of weight, blade angle, overall size and (high) quality that means that most people can get a great shave.

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A great option is to go through your grandfathers things and see if he has one or two lying around.  I started originally using my grandfathers old razor – it however has a very aggressive blade angle and I’ve since settled on a Merkur HD myself.

Shaving Cream:

Basically the goal here is to get something that you love the smell of and are able to get a good lather from.  I use a Proraso brand shaving cream – I love the old school smell and the great lather it produces.  Another popular choice is the Colonel Conk range I can recommend the Bay Rum flavor from personal experience.wpid-IMAG0018.jpg

The main thing to take away here is to stop using shaving foam in a can, unfortunately they tend to produce poor lubrication and protection for your skin.  Lastly the act of applying the shaving cream with a brush also aids shaving.

Shaving Bush:

Shaving brushes come in all shapes and sizes and materials.  Basically you want a brush made from Badger hair in the best quality you can afford.  A good brush ranges from about $30 AUD and upwards of $300.  Honestly I’ve been usiwpid-IMAG0017.jpgng a 30 dollar job from Omega and it’s lasted and worked great thus far.  Don’t use the really cheap ones from the supermarket – you just end up with most of the fibers stuck to your face.

Read more about the varying grades of brushes here on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shave_brush

Razor Blades

Blade choice depends partially on skill and how your skin handles each blade.  The difference is mostly related to blade sharpness –  Feather being roughly the sharpest.  Some find sharp blades too aggressive and difficult to shave with, without cutting themselves or damaging their skin.  I like the feather blades as they make light work of my scruff and having used DE razers for some time am able to shave and rarely cut myself.  Starting out you might want to try something a little less aggressive and look for some Gillette or Dorco blades.wpid-IMAG0024.jpg

Blades are very cheap – I purchased 50 packs of blades for about 25 bucks. This is about 2 years of blades for me.  Do the maths compared to your current Gillette/Schick Blades!  Experimenting with blades is easy because they’re so cheap.

Feather are top shelf too, many are even cheaper!

After Shave

Grab something to sooth your face and neck after your shave.  Alcohol based is fine if you’ve got pretty tough skin.  I’d suggest however looking at something with a moisturiser to help your face repair after a close shave and keep your skin supple.  A good moisturising after shave will help deal with any razor burn or bumps if you have sensitive skin.  Right now i am using an aftershave by Burts bees (their lip balm is also amazing by the way).

Check out Part 2 for the full guide to putting these tools in action!

You can find most of these items by Google searching as there are many online stores which cater to the art of shaving.  Also brick and mortar stores such as The Shaver Shop also carry a decent selection of gear including Omega brushes, Merkur razors and decent shaving creams.

Uppercut Deluxe Pomade

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A while ago I decided to go for a slicked back look in the attempt to get something a little more grown up.  My hair is pretty thick and heavy and all the hair products I had at my disposal – while suitable for my previous hairstyles didn’t really cut it for the dapper slicked back look.

My girlfriend @kellyyylek being the gem that she is suggested I look at Uppercut Deluxe products. She had seen the name knocking about and noticed that it was getting generally pretty favourable mentions around social media. In the end I braved Culture Kings in the city to purchase some.  I’m really glad I did.  In the past I’ve spent more than I’d care to admit on hair products that just haven’t worked for me – this stuff however has a great hold and a subtle sheen, it slicks my mane down just how I’d like it to and to top it off when it dries it stiffens to lock your quiff in place all day.

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Uppercut Deluxe uses a heavy coconut scent which is delicious and thankfully not overpowering. It’s not going to overshadow your cologne and doesn’t have the chemical smell that many hair products have. As you can see I’ve given it a good go and it’s my product of choice to use every day for any occasion. If I’m styling my hair i’m using this stuff.

Further more Uppercut Deluxe is an Australian company and the hair product itself is made here (however the tins are not) I don’t personally go out of my way to support Australian business unless the products are quality – i’m glad to say these guys are the real deal.

You can find Uppercut Deluxe in many alternative stores/barber shops as well as on-line @ UppercutDeluxe.com

Borsht

borsht

Ingredients (for two):

  • 2 medium beetroots, Peel and shred finely.
  • 200g polish sausage (Don’t buy Han’s polish sausage, it’s not great. Pork sausage or similar works fine if you can’t find polish sausage, but it’ll have less flavor).
  • 2 carrots – shred finely
  • 2 Medium potatoes – peeled and cubed
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 35 ml water
  • Half of a cabbage – shred finely
  • 1 can diced tomatoes – drain the liquid
  • 3 cloves of garlic – finely chopped (I add more personally but I love garlic).
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar – or to taste
  • Sour cream, chopped parsley and lemon for garnish

Method:

Cube the sausages into small bite sized chunks if you’re using polish sausage it will be easier to cut raw – if you’re using a standard pork sausage you may need to fry them quickly before slicing them to keep them together. Once chopped fry in a fry pan with a small amount of oil until browned all over.

Find a rather large pot – if you’ve already chopped your vegetables as suggested you’ll find a pretty large mound of food – don’t worry it’ll shrink when cooked BUT you need to be able to accommodate it all. Fill a suitable pot about half way with water and allow to boil – add your sausages place a lid on the pot and allow to boil.

Add your shredded beetroot and cook until the flesh has become slightly translucent and admire the beautiful colour of the soup.

Remember to stir as you go.

Now add the potatoes and the carrots and cook until soft – this takes about 5-15 mins depending on how small you’ve chopped it. Now add the can of tomatoes (drain first) add the cabbage as well and replace the lid after giving everything a good stir.

Add the garlic to the soup – unlike most recipes do not fry this off in advance.

Heat some oil in a skillet – whatever you normally cook with is fine. Fry the onions until soft then add the tomato paste and about 1 to 2 tablespoons of water and mix everything together in the pan, once combined add pour into the pot.

At this stage remove the pot from the heat and give it a taste. Add some salt, pepper and a little sugar to taste.

Separate into two bowls – it should look an amazing deep red. I prefer my borscht served quite acidic so I tend to add about half a lemon to mine – however this is to taste. Finish with a good dollop or two of sour cream and dress with some parsley.

Finally enjoy!

 

Traditional Beef Goulash Recipe

This is a fantastic traditional family recipe given to me by a friend.  This is properly authentic.

Traditionally goulash is a dish enjoyed by the poor – Farmers, labourers and paupers alike.  Despite this goulash is a delicious hearty stew that can be enjoyed by anyone and is especially great during the winter months.

It’s also a great way to impress a new flame – it worked for me at least.  You might even get bonus points cooking for someone from Hungary and serving something that tastes just like how their mum makes it.

Goulash can be served accompanied by just about anything and even enjoyed on it’s own. I like it with pasta (traditionally it’s served with noodleki which I’ll blog about another time) however rice is also a great choice.

Ingredients (for two):

  • 500g of shin beef or oso buco (not gravy beef)
  • 1 onion per kilo of meat
  • 1 tomato per kilo of meat (older, riper tomatoes are great for this and traditionally used)
  • 1/2 green capsicum per kilo of meat
  • 1/2 red capsicum per kilo of meat
  • 1/2 banana capsicum per kilo of meat

(Feel free to use all green/red/banana capsicums – banana and red are best for this dish) 

  • 1 to 3 cloves of garlic per kilo of meat (add more if you are like me and love garlic)
  • 1 big potato
  • Grape seed oil (or any oil that you use normally)

Spices:

  • Marjoram
  • Garlic Steak
  • Mixed Herbs
  • Beef powdered stock
  • Chicken powdered stock
  • Hungarian powdered paprika (Absolutely best with Hungarian paprika – however most will do fine)

Method:

Chop the meat, capsicum, onion, potato and garlic into fine squares and put into a cold pot – unlike most dishes you want to start with a cold pot.

Cube the tomatos – however place the tomato into another bowl to the side to be added later.

Put 1 BIG table spoon of oil per kilo of meat then add a splash for prosperity

Turn on stove to HIGH

Mix contents of pot with a wooden spoon until the meat goes whitish. Mix by folding over meat and vegetables from the bottom to the top, constantly scrape the bottom of the pot to prevent the onions sticking and burning, keep the contents moving.

Once all meat is consistent whitish grey take the pot off the heat (literally move the pot off the stove)

Time to add the spices

  • 2 tea spoons of powdered beef stock per kilo of meat
  • 2/3rds tea spoon of powdered chicken stock per kilo of meat
  • 1 tea spoon of mixed herbs per kilo of meat
  • 1/2 tea spoon of garlic steak per kilo of meat
  • 1 tea spoon of marjoram
  • Take the lumps out of the powdered paprika and then add 1 HEAPED Table spoon per kilo of meat
  • Add some chilli flakes or chopped chilli if you like a bit of spice

Mix in the spices OFF HEAT ONLY pay attention to the colour, the paprika should have given everything a tinge of redness, if its not add a little more.  You don’t have to be precise and there is a lot of room for error when mixing the spices.

Place the pot back on to high heat, Add 1 tea spoon of salt per kilo of meat and mix salt in quickly as the contents heats up.  Once the ingredients begin to make a bubbling sound add the tomato and mix through.

You’ll notice now that the liquid in the pot will begin to rise.  Let it bubble for a while then turn down the heat and place a lid on the pot.

Let your goulash simmer for 10 minutes then mix from top to bottom and taste the sauce (try and let it cool down beforehand you can’t taste much when it’s at boiling point), try to look for the spice taste and the tomato taste.If you feel it needs more spice at this point it’s best to correct it with only marjoram and garlic steak add both to maintain balance if extra spice is required.

Now for the home stretch, stir every 20-30 minutes and cook for a minimum of 2 hours to break down the meat.

Serve into bowls with your side of Pasta or rice and enjoy – I wouldn’t recommend adding salt, but add pepper to taste.