26 August 2023

Mozilla Thunderbird – Finally Modernized

If you are like me and live in the past – meaning, you use email as the preferred communication over highly intrusive other  options like text message or "business chats", you will like this: Mozilla Thunderbird, long stuck in the design of the early 90s, has finally been modernized to a reasonable user interface.

Thunderbird had been an eye sore for more than two decades, it has never been "good looking", and while it was functional to the standards of the early 90s, it just didn't evolve beyond that. That sad time is over now. Thunderbird 115 ("Supernova") is out and it really presents a completely new look and feel. 

There is still a lot of work to be done, especially in the areas of making search and settings more user friendly, but the primary UI is competitive again. It may not be as intuitive or user friendly as macOS Mail, but it isn't all that far behind. And given that Microsoft has been moving steadily backwards with their latest versions of Outlook, Thunderbird has become a viable alternative for many.

Available functional as well as user friendly email applications have long been a disaster on Linux as well, and the release of this latest Thunderbird makes Linux an actual alternative to those refusing the utter catastrophies of webmail or still being pointed to mutt as a viable email client – talk about going back to the 70s ...

So, if you're as intrigued as I am, check out the new features here:


I've been using Thunderbird Supernova for a while now, starting with daily and then beta releases, and it has been stable and usable.

22 August 2023

Review: RAM Mount Tough Track


I was going back and forth between the various options for phone, camera, navigation device holders and ended up deciding on Ram Mount since I have so much of their stuff already, like device cradles, flexible mounts, and so on. 


The base plate that gets screwed to the Jeep is metal, but the track portion weirdly is plastic. Not too happy about the plastic part, otherwise, no complains. 


Dead simple. Take out two screws from the dash, insert base plate where the track is already mounted (hard to get to the screws when mounting the track later), put screws back in, done. 

Then Ram balls can be placed easily. 

In Use

I've attached three balls at this point, one of driver's phone, one for passenger's phone, one for a Garmin Inreach Mini (not shown). I've re-used existing cradles and it works reasonably well so far. Much cheaper than the Bulletpoint mount, maybe slightly less flexible at the moment, the flexible mount I had ordered didn't work out (review of that coming up as a warning to others). The rail sticks up a bit higher than I would like, overall, not a great impression, but it does work reasonably well. 

Also, since the rail is relatively close to the windshield, it interferes with out windshield shade, which we put in to reflect some of the sun when standing outside. Also, the RAM arms often can't be the short ones, depending on the mount, and that means more vibration.


Rating: 3/5 – could use a better flexible mount option, track should be metal, should be better fit 


21 August 2023

Jeep Gladiator – First Modifications

As the first steps, we have added the things we thought any vehicle should have from the factory these days. 

The Bolt Hood Lock


It's surprisingly simple to install.

  1. You "prime" the lock with your vehicle's key, this is a five second job, but can't be undone once set.
  2. Remove the plastic holders of the front grill at the top. Pull grill forward enough to have access.
  3. Rivet the lock into place with the rivets that came in the kit. You need a heavy duty rivet tool, I bought one on Amazon since I didn't have one yet, and it did work, although it had it's difficulties with the 1/4 rivets.
  4. Cut out the grill to fit.
  5. Re-attach with the new, included, plastic fasteners.
  6. Done.

It looks stock, it works with the vehicle key, it doesn't seem to be easily defeated (although I could be wrong there), so it should keep curious fingers away. The metal part is heavy duty, appears to be very high quality, the parts are well made and fit perfectly, comes with a rubber protector. There isn't really much else to say about it, other than it "just works".

This was a simple, very nice, and easy modification, that I can highly recommend.

Rating: 5/5 – would definitely install again


Bolt Hood Lock


Mopar Locking Diesel Fuel Cap

Reason to install

This has been bugging us on our 4Runner as well and while I fully understand that thieves will just drill the tank, I don't care about "professional" gas or diesel thieves. I care about a-holes dropping stuff in the tank because for some reason, and possibly in their twisted minds, don't like us or our vehicle.

So, this is to keep less determined people away from things that shouldn't be in easy access anyways. Not a safety measure, an anti-idiot measure.


The fuel cap itself feels cheap and very plasticy, it rattles a bit and is fully plastic, the lock cylinder feels pretty solid, I guess it's the same used for the doors, just repurposed for this cap.


Installation time is mainly used for keying the lock cylinder to the vehicle's key, Quadratec has a good video on how to do that in a pretty much fool-proof way. It's still a "one way installation", so if the lock cylinder is inserted into the gas cap and not keyed correctly, you're done, you have just wasted more than $100. I don't get why they don't included a small slot in the cap where the "cylinder retainer" could be released when the cap is open, but it is what it is.

Since I have re-keyed many such cylinders before (mostly on BMW motorcycle luggage), I was well aware of the process, so it was a simple job of just sorting through the parts, arranging them on a paper towel, installing the springs, lock plates, and plastic retainer, then inserting the cylinder into the cap and installing that on the car. Multiple stages of testing and making sure I'm not locking myself out inbetween, but otherwise quick and simple.

In Use

The lock is a bit fiddly since the key is so bulky. You have to insert the key, hold the cap in place so it doesn't turn, turn the key to unlock, then turn the cap with the key in the cap. As said, fiddly, but perfectly doable. Would have been nicer to have the outer door included in the central locking, but hey, we get what we pay for (or ask for, if enough people complained about this, Jeep would include it, but people seem to be ambivalent about this in the US – not so much in Europe, never seen a vehicle with non-locking cap there).


Quick and easy, should have been included from stock, should be able to remove key when unlocked to make it less fiddly.

Rating: 3.5/5 – would install again, but could be better

Building an "Off-road Camper"

With the lessons we've learned over the last few years with car camping, truck camping, trailer camping, etc., we are currently on a path to build another "offroad camper". I don't want to call it an overlanding vehicle, since this horse has been beaten to death and there is a vast spectrum what people understand overlanding to be.

For us, "off-road camping" means, we can camp in places, where typical cars and vans generally don't venture. Mostly due to ground clearance, lack of proper four wheel drive, tires, etc. We love being away from the RV crowd. We absolutely detest RV parks in the US, they are mostly expensive, disgusting, and filled with huge monstrosities that either have their air conditioning or their heating systems blasting at ear splitting levels. Plus they generally get packed wall to wall – and that's no joke, there sometimes isn't even a meter or two between them in "more interesting areas".

Since we have traveled a bit now with various setups, we have come up with a few requirements and wishes for our travel rig.


  1. Comfortable seating. Given that we often travel long distances, a comfortable cabin and seating is important.
  2. A quick sleeping setup. When arriving late at a camp site, it is important to us that we don't have to deal with lots of work to have a sleeping arrangement ready. A minute or two, not more.
  3. A quick and convenient awning. Setting up an awning should be quick and easy, otherwise we won't use it.
  4. Inside space. In incliment weather and with nasty insects (mostly wasps) around sometimes, we'd like to have a space to sit inside. It doesn't have to be big, just something where we can sit and chat, have a tea or coffee or a quick breakfast in the morning, etc.
  5. No towing. Towing has turned out to be not a good idea for us personally. Turning around on a trail, if it turns out harder than we want to deal with, is a total nightmare. The 4Runner was an abysmal tow vehicle. The engine has zero torque in lower rpm and the automatic gear box was garbage. The Patriot X1 was incredible once it was set up, but it was a chore to get it set up and packed away every day.
  6. Some off-road capabilities. We don't need all that much here, we use this for traveling, not rock-crawling, desert racing, or trail tackling. It's a way of getting just a little farther in on a trail, away from the most annoying crowds. The 4Runner was more than good enough for that.

This didn't leave us with much choice, since the vehicles that could be used for this, are very limited in the US. There are no old Land Rover Defenders or Toyota Land Cruiser Troopies, which could be converted. These vehicles basically don't exist here and while some of them can be imported (as classic cars), we didn't want to deal with that. A converted Jeep Wrangler was an option, but it is very, very small. 

We ended up with a Jeep Gladiator and an Alu-Cab Canopy Camper on the rear. It's not an easy build-out and it's right on the edge of the laughable load limit of the Jeep, but it was one of the very few options for us. We did not want another Toyota, we didn't want a massive truck, so options were limited and we picked the one that fit our ideas best. 

Jeep Gladiator Rubicon – 3.0L EcoDiesel