Bob's recommended online vendors, services, and products

The following are shops, services, and organisations that I recommend to others. A lot of the vendors are only recommended to people in the UK. While some of the vendors listed might be able to ship items overseas, I have never tried this with these vendors, so can't recommend doing so.

Also, it's important to remember that while I haven't had a bad experience with any of these companies, there are probably people who have. A recommendation here is no guarantee that you will be happy with the vendors, services and products recommended. In the event that I do start having trouble with a company or service, I will remove it from this page.

Web browser

Mozilla Firefox

Firefox 3

Firefox is a web browser. Look at the top of the window in which you're viewing this page right now. Does it say "Microsoft Internet Explorer"? If so, you should be using Firefox. Firefox is grossly superior to Internet Explorer. And it's totally free, another product of self-respecting programmers who value quality over profit. Everybody should give Firefox a try. Go, go get it now!


Opera, the fastest and most secure web browser.

Opera is another free web browser. It's a better option for users with accessibility problems because it allows easy toggling between a website's default stylesheet and alternate stylesheets specified by the site. A user-specified stylesheet can be used instead, and there are options such as text-only mode, accessibility layout mode, and replacing images with their alternative text.

Opera is also an excellent browser for users without accessibility problems, as its rendering engine is as good as (in fact, probably better than) Firefox's, obeying so many of the web standards that Microsoft's web browser fails to implement.

UK internet service providers

Zen Internet

I've been happily using Zen as a provider of ADSL broadband for years, and I've found the reliability of service excellent. Plus, their customer service agents always strike me as knowing what they're talking about, and sound like they care about getting any problems fixed. (The same cannot be said for ISPs I've used in the past.) All of their home and small office broadband tariffs are based on a one month minimum term, which says a lot about how confident they are you'll be pleased with their service.

Zen Internet also offer web hosting packages, and I have to say I'm very pleased with their shared hosting service. Unlike lesser providers, traffic and web space allowances seem to be increased for existing customers at the same time as for new customers, so I've never had that feeling I'm being swindled. And, again, the minimum contract term is one month.



I'm not the ideal person to recommend clothing, because I don't care so much about how clothing looks as I do about what function it offers. I like Rohan trousers because they have secure pockets with zips, plus a built-in D-ring for clipping your keychain to, and because they're made of strong material that is lighter than natural fabric. I like their jackets too, especially the Pack Ice Jacket for cold winter days. If you don't mind looking like the outdoors type, Rohan clothing is good, functional gear.

Office software 3

A free office software suite that includes a word processor, spreadsheet, database, and presentation creator, all of which do a good job of being compatible with documents created by Microsoft Office.

Keyboard layout


The Dvorak keyboard layout was designed by someone who felt QWERTY needed to be replaced by a more efficient keyboard layout. A layout that made it easy to reach common letters and type commonly structured words. I'm very happy with the Dvorak layout, but it seems that most people either don't know, or don't care, because the QWERTY layout is still, by a huge distance, the main layout used by just about every form of text input. I think more people should give Dvorak a try when they can.

If you do use this layout with FreeBSD, you might be interested in Using Dvorak with FreeBSD. Especially if it bugs you that single user mode is not letting you type using your preferred keymap.