...you're in for a big surprise. Well, you would have been earlier - I went out for a ride but it was so cold I turned back after 45 mins. I went through all the usual muddy bits in the local woods and they were so frozen that when I returned my bike was still clean! Freezin!
Monday, December 29, 2008
Turns out 2 weeks without K is quite a long time. Add to that how quiet it is over Xmas and the fact I *should* be studying and I have been very bored lately. I have bought car/gadget/MBK magazines, DVDs, iTunes downloads and am considering a Scalextric and/or new computer game to get me through it. No no - I *must* work! I always manage to put studying and revising off till the last minute but I really should make better use of my time.... huff...
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Happy Xmas readers - it is currently 01:15 on Xmas morning and my usual insomnia is keeping me wide awake - sky tv it is :) Had a great day - morning in Herts, evening in Kent. Found a new sport - dog running with the bike, Pepper seems to love it. In fact I've just come back from a night ride around the airfield - the new R3 is awesome - fantastic wide beam and very VERY bright. J - you are gonna have to upgrade :)
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I have just returned from a super fast visit to Plymouth, Padstow, Cheltenham and then home. I was working in Plymouth on Sun, then over to Grandma's for the night. I then took her to my Aunt's in Cheltenham for the night. I made my way home late this morning. Have since relaxed a little and am now starting to get ready for Xmas.
Busy Busy Busy...
Monday, December 22, 2008
I have been waiting for the SatMap update for some time since I was told it was on its way by customer services. On Sat I decided to look around their site for it - lo and behold - if you switch language to Dutch you can get it : http://www.satmap.com/dutch/software.php. The update is multilanguage and is working fine on my UK unit. I am now at software level 1.231 which gives a blue circle for your position and a warning before turning the device off. You can see the full details of the upgrade if you use google to translate the page - it works remarkably well (don't tell K - she hates machine transaltors!!).
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I managed to get out on the bike for 2 hours today. Unfortunately I forgot to charge my sat-nav so it was a bit of an adventure. Ended up in places I'd never been before - but only had to double back once. Needless to say - it was a little muddy out there :)
Friday, December 19, 2008
K left for India today :( I dropped her and M off at LHR T5 and waved goodbye. About 30 mins later she called me. BA had had a problem with the aircraft and as such had to use a different flight. Only problem was that this flight was 50 seats short and K&M were both without a seat :(
Then she starts laughing.... Turns out BA had arranged for her to take another flight to Dubai, then on to Hyderabad. To compensate her they sent her Premium Economy for the first leg and then Emirates for the second. They were also given a £500 refund! In then end they'll be 4 hours late even though they leave an hour early. But seeing as they had 9 hours to kill anyway before the connecting light to Goa this is far from a problem. I am betting the £500 is spent in Dubai's airport :)
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
K, L and I celebrated a very early Swedish Xmas on the weekend. As K is off over Xmas this was our only chance. We had ham, fish, eggs and meatballs - all the usual stuff. It was very nice. I got a present - a very expensive and nice pair of jeans. K wishes I was better dressed. K got brakes for her car :)
Also, I have developed a taste for Julmust. K is not happy about this!
Friday, December 12, 2008
It arrived - and it is very nice - click title for link to flickr unboxing pics. The light itself it encased in metal - pearl white to match my frame :) The battery is much smaller than I expected and to top it all off it came with its own travel case! Think I'll test tonight after work.
Update: the light are pretty bright. There is a noticeable difference between half (left) and full (right) beam (not so evident in the pics). The best bit is that the beam is fairly well spread making them perfect for night trails. Only glitch is that with these and my Sat-Nav the bars are getting crowded :)
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I am getting fed up of my AA battery front light fogging up, running low on power and needing new batteries all the time. As such I have returned them all and purchased a rechargeable instead.
I spent a lot of time looking around but decided I wanted a wide-beam and 3hrs of battery life (pref li-ion). In the end I went for the Cateye R3 (after the R2 received a very good score in a recent magazine review). I should have it by the weekend - I just hope this is more waterproof than the last 3 Cateye products I bought!
Friday, December 05, 2008
For the short time I was out last night it became quite obvious that my Mountain King tyres, although superb all-rounders, were a little lacking in the swamp that the trail had become. I had a chat with the local bike shop (Marshalls) about suitable replacements. After deciding that tubeless is a step too far for now I have gotten a pair of Panaracer Trailraker PRs in 2.1". The best bit, Wiggle charge £35 each, Marshalls did me a deal on a pair for £50! :)
Update: astonishing! They are excellent. Whereas before the rear end would be squirming all over the place in the mud, now it sticks true. Makes for much more confident riding. They also shed mud very well, did not get bogged up once. *Only* downside is an increase in rolling resistance when on the hard stuff compared to the MKs - as expected tbh. Summary: recommended!
My bike has been ill for the last two runs - the rear brakes are making all sorts of noises and being very snatchy on application. Last night it got too much and J and I stopped to investigate. In the light of a local pub car park we figured two things. Firstly, the brakes didn't look right and secondly that we had no idea how to take them apart. I limped home.
Once home, and with internet at hand, I disassembled the brakes and upon doing so spotted the culprit. One of the pads has had its friction material sheered off and the separation clip has been torn apart. So, I have been running metal on metal for 10 miles or so with the occasional bit of spring material getting twisted into the disk too. Not good. I am off sourcing replacements at lunch time.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
With Milan a couple of weeks back and then working all weekend in Plymouth last week it has been a busy time for me. As such my blog entries have been lacking... Since I last posted I have reverted back to Vista on my laptop (I just missed it too much) and have managed to get all my Xmas shopping done on-line for a third year in a row :) Other than that I've been busy working on a demo system for next week - not going too well atm though :(
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
So, had a new HDD put in the work laptop today. This would normally be VERY painful as it would usually require an OS install - followed by the best part of a day's time installing and configuring apps. However, with my MSS (Windows Home Server) I can simply restore the image of the backup taken this morning before the replacement - over my GB network and all in around 50 mins for a 100GB backup :) Even better, the new drive is larger but the restore software allows me to restore the smaller old partitions into the newer bigger ones and expand - so I get a full recovery and larger partitions as well - very nice! I love my MSS!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Disappointingly my Cateye LD610 rear light, recently replaced due to leaking, has leaked again. A shame as it is a perfect rear light. Others do not seem to have the same problem but I am hesitant to try for a third time. Wiggle are kindly refunding the original. As such I have ordered a Black Knog Gekko instead. It looks more waterproof and should be quite stealthy on my black n' white bike :)
Update: seems very good - light, bright and as far as I can tell totally weather sealed!
Well, it took a couple of goes, mainly due to limitations in OSX 10.5 and most instructions on the net being tailored for 10.4. However, as you can see from the image I now have a 250GB drive working in my ATV. So, how did I do it....?
Prerequisites: The AppleTV, Some star screwdrivers, a sharp knife, a new EIDE 2.5" drive (in my case a WD 250GB model) and two EIDE-USB converters.
Step1 - break open the ATV. I started at one corner and slowly eased the rubber base off. I did this asap after switching the ATV off so it was still warm. I used a sharp knife to *help* along any stubborn bits. In the end it came off quite cleanly. You can then use the star bits to take the base off, and a smaller bit to remove the old HDD.
Step2 - Connect the ATVs disk to one of the USB converters, do the same with the new disk. Fire up OSX and plug both in.
Step3 - You now have to copy one drive to the other, there are more clever ways of doing this but OSX 10.5 does some weird things with partitions, so unless you have 10.4 or a MSc in Unix then simply do the following. You must, of course, first know which disk is which - a simple diskutil list will show you.
dd if=/dev/disk1 op=/dev/disk2 bs=1m
Step4 - After some hours (yes, it takes ages) your disks will have copied over. Voila you might think - but alas, no. If you put the new disk in now it will not work for two reasons, firstly there are .Spotlight-V100 folders in both the OSBoot and Media partitions, and secondly the ATV (unlike smaller disks) will not expand to fill the 250GB using a restore. So, we must destroy and then recreate the Media partition. By the way, at this point you can eject the original disk: diskutil eject /dev/disk1.
diskutil eject /dev/disk2
gpt remove -i 4 disk2
Now you must figure out the starting point of the new partition using diskutility list (you are looking for the starting block of the free space - I'll use XXXXX for now
gpt add -b XXXXX -i 4 -t hfs /dev/disk2
Step5 - At this point we are close, one last thing it to remove those .Spotlight-V100 folders.
rm -rf .Spotlight-V100
rm -rf .Spotlight-V100
diskutil eject /dev/disk2
Step6 - Now you are nearly done, plug the new disk into the ATV, reassemble and start up. It should boot at which point perform a factory reset. If all goes well you will be on V1 of the ATV software with a bigger Media partition, now you can upgrade the software in the normal way and connect iTunes, etc.
Much thanks to the guys at awkwardtv.org for the pointers on this.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I'm in Italy this week learning about one of Tera's new products for web-publishing. Had a long day yesterday (flight was from Gatwick so I woke up at 05:30) so thought I'd go for a beer to relax in the evening. Had not planned anywhere - just left the hotel and started walking - it's Milan, right, must be bars everywhere. So, nearly 2 hours later I have still not found one - not so bad but I am dragging one of the Croatians around with me - luckily he thinks it is funny. In the end we get a taxi to the Duomo area and try our luck there. After 5 mins I ask someone local for directions - they send me to the only English pub in Milan!!! We watch football (England vs. Germany) and drink Guinness... typical! The Tuborg was from dinner - pizza - yummy :)
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
I am using the Apple TV (ATV) more and more these days to put my DVD on. Problem is that the internal 40GB HDD is a bit small. Sure, you can stream from the mother-ship but it requires the main machine upstairs to be left on. So, one small hack later should give me some more room. I say *should* as I have only ordered the new 250GB HDD today. Will have to wait to see if these instructions work or not :)
This XMas I want to take my bike with me on a couple of occasions. I do not want a cycle carrier which leaves only one other option - the boot. Even with the seats down I am not sure I want mud and oil all over the car. As such I spent £45 on a bike carrier. It will not only keep the car clean but also protect the frame of the bike. It even comes with sperate bags for each wheel!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Sunday, November 09, 2008
K has been away in Sweden this weekend - leaving me to get on with some much needed University coursework. The good news is that I have pretty much finished one piece and am around 30% of the way through the second. I also got a load of reading done. The bad news is that I have been bunged up with a cold and headaches all weekend - not the easiest way to concentrate!
In order to cheer myself up I went to Alexander Palace last night with some friends to watch the fireworks. The display was great but the availability of beer and food was not. I jumped ship early and headed home before it got too late.
Other than that and work I have not done a lot - I was going to go out for a ride (well, I had planned one each day originally) but I've just felt too lethargic to actually do it. Ignoring my mountain bike??? I must be ill!
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Monday, November 03, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
I am, as we speak, demoting my work machine from Vista to XP. I am not doing this because I hate Vista, nor have there been any real problems with it - in fact I love Vista. I am doing this under duress. A client of ours uses some Cisco VPN software, that works fine on Vista. However, their management has decided that they do not wish to allow ANY Vista machine to access their network and as such block it with a firewall rule managed by the Cisco kit. As such I cannot connect and do my work. We tried to get them to accept that Vista is here now - but no joy. XP here I come again... I am disappointed.
We're out again tonight in the cold and what is left of the snow. After Tue's nightmare I went and bought some new winter gloves. The Sealskinz Ultra Grip gloves are water/wind proof and thermal/breathable. Got J a pair too so hope they work!UPDATE: they work very well, fingers take a while to warm up but once there they are very comfortable. Also VERY good when it comes to hosing bike off at the end of the night.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Well, last night's ride was cold - very cold. It started to snow about 5 mins into it. By the time we had gone 3 miles we were covered and the roads were totally white. We stopped at a pub to warm up before heading home. New shoes, tights and trousers worked very well but my gloves became useless once wet and I need something to cover my face. Unfortunately I forgot to take the camera - so you'll have to make do with this morning's webcam pic instead.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
It is getting colder - a lot colder. This is a problem for my mountain biking. Thankfully I got some trousers (thanks E&G) and some tights (thanks M,C&F) to warm things a little for me. However, my feet still get freezing. I chatted with the guys and they suggested some warmer shoes. So, I did some research and the Shimano SH-MW80 got very good reviews. A day later they have arrived. The Gortex keeps them warm, water/wind proof and dry and the ankle wrap is surprisingly comfortable. Luckily my Crank Bros cleats fit the pedals on them (something you are never sure of until you try) and they seem perfect. Off on a ride later to check - it is meant to be as cold as -3C so it should tell how good they are!
Monday, October 27, 2008
What a weekend! M&C flew from Sweden on Thu night, we ate in the Tilbury. Fri morning was a trip to Bath, we ate in One Fish Two Fish. Thu morning we went to Padstow to see Grandma, we ate in Number 6 and then Sun morning we headed home, we ate a shoulder of lamb on the BBQ. A lot of travel and great fun. Incidentally, if anyone knows WHY the streets of bath were raised please leave a comment...
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Found a new route last night but boy was it cold! Too cold for shorts that's for sure! This new route is around 10 miles with a mix of ups, downs, mud and forest - perfect really! Well, it would have been - I got two punctures, ran out of batteries, fell off and rode through dog poo... hmmm.... all fun though hey!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I got Grandma's wifi broadband working last night and she was somewhat impressed with what the Internet had to offer. The family has been talking of getting her a computer for ages so I took the initiative and bought an Acer Aspire One for her today - just setting it up now. It runs a lite linux (fedora core) OS which means no viruses and difficult to destroy accidentally. The desktop has icons for Internet, email and chat. It has a webcam, mic and speakers built in and room for memory cards and USB devices. I just hope the 9" screen is big enough for her...
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
So, this weekend gone I gained a Step-sister-in-law as Si and Ellie tied the knot. It was a brilliant day with sunshine and warmth! Nice for Summer to finally arrive in mid-October :) Photos are uploading as we speak but you can see what's there at: Flickr Wedding Set
Friday, October 10, 2008
Suunto delivered my Core back to me today after 2 weeks away. They haven't actually fixed the problem... much better... they sent a whole brand new one. This is good for 3 main reasons other than the button now works. Firstly the old one had a scratch on the screen that I did whilst biking, secondly the strap was badly marked (again my fault) and lastly the rotating bezel was never quite right - this new one's is. So, overall I am pretty happy!
Monday, October 06, 2008
We got Apple's 2.2 Update for the ATV. One of the new improvements is a standby option (at last). With the ATV in standby I am wondering if I'll need to turn the central heating up to compensate for the lack of heat it usually irradiates :)
UPDATE: actually, even when on standby mode it still acts as a small space-heater. The thing is incredible - how it does not spontaneously combust I do not know!
Saturday, October 04, 2008
I've been working this weekend but found an hour to get away from my office and do some exercise. Took the bike out for an hour (to test the new Specialized Deflect Gloves I bought) in the wind and rain that we are currently enjoying. The new gloves are wind/water proof and my hands were noticeably more comfortable. I did a now familiar run but in reverse (clockwise). It still took about an hour but was much more interesting (maybe I am just bored of going the same way each time). The new SatMap did a very good job of tracking me and also showed a climb of nearly 230 feet in the middle of the run! Back to work now - I have a few more hours of system integration work to complete...
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I found myself in Bristol last night - last minute work thing. After work I managed to catch up with C from Unisys and SB from Uni. C is still running his own marketing business and SB has a new flat near a "massage" parlour!!!!
Good fun catching up with people you have not seen for years - will have to come and visit more often! Oh, also ate a Buffalo burger - interesting.... tastes like beef to be honest :)
Friday, September 26, 2008
New car - new ipod - dealer interface - what could go wrong? Well, it turns out that Apple have changed their hardware interface on new models. This means that although my devices play music through the car's stero they will not chrage whilst they are plugged in. Bummer! Some digging around provided the answer...
Apple are phasing out FireWire charging. Older units could take this 12V supply and charge from it - very useful for car manufacturers. Now Apple are only using the lower voltage (5V) USB supply. So, your device works but you get a message saying it will not charge.
The solution seems simple - create an in-line plug that hijacks the 12V line, through a resistor drops it to 5V and supplies it to the USB pins. Problem is - where to find one!
Well, a bit of searching took me to RIDAX who provide the only one I can find. It is expensive (about £30 inc shipping) but looks high quality and even allows you to plug an external 5V input should you need it - giving charge capability to those devices that never had it. All other pins simply pass-through so everythign else should be unaffected.
Let's hope it works - it arrives in a week or so...
UPDATE: works great - added benefit is that you can attach a normal mini-usb cable to it and it will charge and sync from the PC - one less cable to carry around now as I can leave the apple cable at home.
My Suunto Core (orange/black) watch broke! The top right button stopped working. I contacted the shop who advised it best to use Suunto's on-line support. Well, they were right. After filling in one on-line form I was given a PDF with all the return docs and a number to call for DHL. DHL are coming to pick it up this morning - all for free including packaging. Not bad at all - and they think they'll get it back to me in about a week.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Am getting more and more into this mountain biking thing and as a result I am starting to venture further and further - usually in the dark and rain. In these circumstances a folded paper map is sometimes not always as good as you'd wish. Enter the realm of the portable GPS device. These come in many flavours but this one - the SatMap Active 10 - is the only one that gives you a *real* OS map and a large screen. I think I have spotted my next toy :)
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Whilst navigating my way around the 'ring' I put my sat-tracker on. As you can see from the pics below I did a pretty cautious lap of this famous circuit :) My time was around 14:30. However, let's put this in context - a new car, new tyres and brakes and no wish to prematurely shorten its life. Add that to the insane closing speeds between me (the slowest thing on track) and the likes of a GT3RS doing 100mph more and you can see that I spent most of my time looking behind me! Good fun though and nice to say I've done it.
Monday, September 22, 2008
The final chapter was this morning (Monday). I took the new car to Mercedes in Stevenage and handed it over for pre-delivery checks and to get my UK registration. It took forever but after a couple of hours I was handed the keys to my new car - fully road legal.
The entire collection process had been flawless. Mercedes UK/Germany pulled off seamless handovers form flights to taxis to hotels to the ferry - everything EVERYTHING was perfect. J and I had an awesome time driving through Europe and by the I got home I was fully acclimatised to my new steed. If anyone ever gets the chance to do this - JUMP AT IT. It will give you an adventure to remember!
We woke up and to our surprise found a huge breakfast awaiting us. Fuelled up, we headed to the Nurburgring F1 circuit to see the SF qualifying. We didn't expect to see much but ended up seeing all sorts. In between practice and qualifying was a stunt bike team doing mad stuff (see pics linked in title). We left around 10:30 and headed for Calais.
There were two ways to Calais, the fast way or through the Black Forest - we chose the latter. Once through the forests we realised that we were a mere 30KM from the border of Luxembourg - and cheap fuel. So, we headed to a town on the border to fill up. When we arrived we kept going - until we were in Luxembourg city - we stopped for lunch. Our lunch never came - after 45 mins of waiting in a cafe we gave up and headed off. We stopped in a service station before crossing back to Belguim, filled up with fuel and bought snacks.
Belguim was boring - we got stuck in traffic and there was little to look at. Brussels - which we ringed - was busy. After many MANY hours we crossed to France. At this point we had missed our 15:50 ferry - it was 20:00. We raced to the port and managed to get a place on the 20:45. Apparenlty so had most of the rest of the world - the ferries were super busy due to the ongoing problems with the tunnel. Still, we had club lounge passes which saved the day - with Force 6 earlier the entire downstairs in the ferry stank of puke :( After a glass of champagne and 90 mins to relax we landed on UK soil. Customs (amazingly) let our temp-plate A-Class roll right through and by midnight we were home - exhausted.
I woke up early - and excited. Breakfast was downed promptly and we took a quick walk around the town before heading back to meet our Taxi. By 10:00 we were in the collection centre - they seemed surprised/pleased to have an Englishman present. Turns out they serve 250 collections a day here and it is most unusual for there to be anyone other than elderly Germans. I filled in the insurance forms and was thanked for being so young! We then had a factory tour - where J and I got lost. Finally we saw my car in the delivery hall. It was there for 5 mins with two people pointing and phoning before it was driven away again! 15 mins later it returned sporting the headlight deflectors allowing me to drive in Germany at night.
We had a charming lady hand the car over - she was nervous of speaking English but mostly of having to drive a car with the wheel on the wrong side :) Luckily she successfully managed even the auto-parking demo. We set off for Hockenheim - our first stop. En-route we hit autobahns - and 112mph (NICE!).
There was nothing happening at Hockenheim so we set off to our next stop - the Nurburgring. Here we put in a tourist-lap and got the sticker to prove it. It would appear that all the Porches in the world were visiting. We then hung out by the track watching before heading to our hotel for the night.
The hotel is famous - you can see it in all the console games - and it was deserted when we turned up. Finally we found someone to let us in and settled into our room. For dinner we found an Italian restaurant just down the road - who only took cash. Whilst there we were sat next to an elderly chap - who pointed and shouted "Tommy. you Tommy yes!". When we politely pretended to not understand he gesticulated at himself shouting "Hitler, military, Tommy - yes!". We agreed and tried to get on with our beer - someone should have told *him* to mot mention the war - I had all sorts of Fawlty Towers jokes running around my head :) We got back to the hotel (still dead), drank our emergency beers (stashed from the lounge in T5) and watched Star Wars - on telly - in German...
After dropping the MINI off J and I made our way to LHR's T5. Here we checked into the BA lounge and started on a few drinks and snacks. T5 is huge with plenty of shops - before we knew it the plane was ready for us. The flight was good - we had champagne. In Stuttgart we were met by the taxi that drove us an hour to Rastatt. We checked into the hotel and grabbed some dinner - steak for me :) After that we went for a walk, found a bar and then ended up in the only place open after 23:00 - an Irish Pub!!! We drank Guinness and Kilkenny.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
With just under 64,000 miles, 0 miles of fuel left in the tank (well, actually 0 turned up as I left Knebworth so it is more like -3 miles) and 3 years and 9 days old I handed the MINI over this morning. I am very sad to see it go - it has been such a fun car to drive. I'll miss its crazy under steer, ability to carry speed through roundabouts and the hugging you got from the sports seats. I'll also miss its retro looks and sculpted interior. One thing I won't miss is the lack of space for my right leg on motorways - about the only thing I can say I did not like about the car.
This afternoon I fly to Stuttgart and then on Friday I pick up the A-Class straight from the factory. Home again on Sat. One chapter begins as the other closes...
Monday, September 15, 2008
We went to A's for a Murder Mystery dinner party on Sat night. The scene was a local Australian TV mogul had been murdered at his party. We all had a motive but who was the killer!!!! I was Bruce Didgeridoo (musician/songwriter) and K was Alice Springs (beauty queen and 3rd in Miss Australia). M also turned up and was Di Agnosis (flying doctor). L was Dame Edna Average (opera singer). A was Stavros Kebab (TV celebrity chef and our host) and the other A was Mad Max Melbourne (a famous cricketer) and R was Miles Behind (an athlete). We started with a pork terrine, then had duck for main course and a proper toffee pudding for desert. Excellent fun - I ate far too much! More pics liked in title.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
The extended battery for my Diamond came today (3 days earlier than the Europe release date??!). The battery is bigger and comes with a new back for the phone. This is about 3mm deeper than the standard one so the phone looks a bit more chunky. It boosts the battery from 930mAh to 1340mAh - about 40% more. This should allow me to run my sat-nav tracking software for much longer bike rides :)