Friday, August 29, 2008


It was a bitter pill to swallow but I had no choice but to order my new car without built in GPS. I have gotten so used to it in the MINI and it will be sorely missed. However, it does mean I have had the excuse to go and buy the latest TomTom - a 730T. It's fairly slim, has a 4.3" screen and covers all of Europe. Best thing is its ability to take traffic flow into account when planning a route - it knows the M25 on Friday afternoon is busier than Tue morning for example. It's first outing will be to get me back home from the factory in Germany!


Mercedes called - my car is ready! Much earlier than expected. I have managed to organise the time from work, applied for the flights/etc and convinced (didn't take much) J to come along too. We leave on Thu 18th and will have the car back by Sat 20th. Should be awesome!

The garage gave me a HUGE list of number plates to chose from. None of them were any good or made sense and all started LT58. In the end I went for NEJ to remind K of the answer should she want to borrow my nice new car :)

Bike Tag

Now it is not only the cats that are micro chipped - my bike it too. As part of Marin's Platinum Care I was sent this by post. The device goes into one of the frame's tubes and can be scanned by Police if the bike ever gets stolen. I also get a lovely sticker to put on the bike...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Night Rider

Another night run this evening - the two light setup is working well allowing me to focus one closer than the other so I can see far away enough for faster runs and close enough for slow tricky bits. New glasses also good with clear lenses but steam up a bit when I stop.

IE8 (beta)

Yip, I'm installing it to play with... Looking forward to the 'standards' mode.

It broke everything - so I discovered you might have to put *all* websites in compatibility view mode to get stuff to work again :)

New (Outdoors) Watch - Suunto Core

The last piece of the jigsaw - a watch with a compass built in. Spotted this on a website a few days ago (link in title) and some more research shows it to be ideal. It offers compass, thermometer, barometer, altimeter along with logging features, storm alarm and even a user changeable battery. Should be with me in a few days...


What is better than a super-bright dual beam LED light for your bike? TWO super-bright dual beam LED lights :) My second light turned up this morning (fitted within 5 mins). Just in time for a night ride tonight. Also got a spare set of Crank Bros clips in case one breaks on a ride.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Custom OS Map - 'Rich's MBK Guide'

I got my custom OS map through the post today - link in title. £16.99 gets a map centred wherever you like with your own title :) You can also chose an image if you do not want the area overview like I have. Took 48hrs to get to me from time of order.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Night Riding

Went on my first night-ride this evening. S, R and I set off around 20:15 and by the time we got to the woods it was pretty dark. My Cateye EL520 worked pretty well but I think I need another to give me a better spread. Everything is different riding in the dark - roots appear from nowhere and you get no warning of dips in the trail - great fun though. For the first time this weekend I didn't fall off either - the clips are starting to wear in at last.

So, after 3 days of Marin ownership I am pretty happy. The bike is perfect. We did the big ride on Sat (details in post below), a smaller one on Sun just to loosen sore muscles (I fell off on this one again) and then the night-ride this evening - total distance around 25 miles or so. Only injuries are a very bruised back, a twisted ankle, two sprained wrists, several small bruises on my arms and legs and multiple nettle stings :)

I also managed to eBay my old bike which was collected this morning leaving me some room in the shed where I have installed a fairly large lock to anchor the bike for insurance reasons.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Marin Mount Vision 2008

OK - so I did. Marin Mount Vision 2008 - along with some Oakley SPD shoes. I picked up my new bike on Fri afternoon in time for its first run on Sat morning. I got some lights and a computer in the post in the morning ready to be fitted before the outing. We did about 16 miles, mainly off-road and it was great. The bike is fantastic. Only problem was me being an idiot - I tried to pop a wheelie and (used to my old bike's weight) I went straight over the back. I panicked trying to unclip my shoes and forgot to tap the rear brake. So, I landed (still clipped in) on my back, on the road. It hurts! A did better later on though - he mistimed a jump and landed on his head!!! We thought he was properly hurt but he rubbed it off and seemed fine. I have since ordered a first aid kit to go in my bag :)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Should I, shouldn't I....?

Marin Mount Vision full suspension with all the nice bits you'd expect...

Monday, August 18, 2008

New Boots

K needed new tyres on both rears on the Roadster. Merc cost £490 with Goodyears! After some internet searching and thanks to a tip on a forum I found a place up North that would ship two Falken tyres, we can get them fitted locally. Total cost £145 - a little bit better I am sure you'll agree :)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Smart Fix

Today I finally got round to fixing a couple of niggles with K's car. Firstly I had to get underneath to change the airflow direction of her chargecooler fan. With the car being so low I had to drive it half on the curb just to get a jack underneath it. Now the fan is reversed it runs more quietly and should be more efficient. Apparently a lot of cars had the fan wired incorrectly from the factory.

Secondly I wanted to relocate the iPod connector from near the handbrake to somewhere in the dash. This took a LOT more work than I was expecting (pic). In then end after much investigation, some soldering and nearly all of the lower dash removed (more than is in this pic actually) I got it to where I wanted. It now sits concealed in the ashtray. K was too scared to come look until I had finished :)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

MBK'ing in the rain...

It was a long and BUSY day at work so what better way to burn off some energy than a quick ride. We set of at 17:45 and by the time we hit the woods it was a) very dark, b) very muddy and c) raining so hard you couldn't see a thing. Perfect! At times like this a waterproof camera is very useful - more pics linked in title. I had a go on S's bike and the difference from mine is astonishing. Think I might have to start saving hard for something with disk brakes, working suspension and a frame that doesn't weigh a ton :)

Wii Fit Arrived...

I finally got one! After weeks of searching GAME got stock and I managed to pick one up along with its charging pack. Had a quick play at lunchtime just to set it up. My BMI is 25.13 (where 22 is ideal) so I am slightly overweight at around 80KGs. However, my Wii Fit Age is a staggeringly low 22 - must have aced the balance moves???!!??

Camelbak Mule 3

Wiggle contacted me this morning to let me know that the Ogio vest had been discontinued - what a shame! They gave me a £6 sorry voucher and that was that. So, I went and looked at what else was out there during lunch. In then end I settled for the more conventional (and highly recommended) Camelbak MULE 3. It's cheaper too!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Doro WT87

Whilst on holiday we got a lot of use out of some walkie-talkies that Mom had. Well, I finally found some with enough range - most do 3km or 5km - well, these will do 10km (link in title).

Mountain Bike kit

After having such a laugh buzzing around the forest last weekend I decided I needed a kit upgrade. So, to replace my old rucksack I have ordered one of these - Ogio MX Flight Vest from It has a load of pouches, fits more snug than a pack and has a 2 or 3 litre hydration pack. Should arrive next week...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mountain Biking/Falling

Went cycling with A this morning. Had a lot of fun in the local woods. There was this one hill (pictured) that got me though. I caught a pedal at the top and although my bike stopped I carried on going. Of course A was there to capture the moment on film :)

Friday, August 08, 2008


The media interface for the A-Class came in this morning. It will eventually allow me to connect my iPod to the car (as well as AUX or USB stick).


K picked up her iPhone on Sat. She took out Carphone Warehouse insurance payable every quarter for around £150 for the year. All was well. On Monday morning (her first external call to her new phone) she was contacted by someone claiming to be from the Carphone Warehouse regarding her insurance. They had her name, address, date of birth, mobile number and knew it was an iPhone bought on Sat from CPW and that she had taken the extended cover. They explained that there had been a price decrease to the insurance and as a matter of courtesy they were contacting new customers to pass the deal on. Instead of the quarterly payments she needed just one up front payment of £99.99. No problems, she paid over the phone and was happy for the call.

It turns out this was a scam - one of many similar ones going on at the moment. How they got all her details we'll never know - CPW and O2 are of course claiming it was nothing to do with them. CPW's insurance company tells us they are known and are taking court proceedings against them. We have put a charge back in place at the bank due to the 'verbal misrepresentation' and contacted Trading Standards and the Consumer Advice Office. The company who did this have an email address that appears not to be checked and a phone line that gets you through to an answerphone that no one seems to be checking.

15 Brynymor Road
0870 012 0213
Company reg: 06312029

Companies House has them as:

Further investigation shows them as: with a phone number of: 01792 418 492. The best bit is their terms and conditions page ( contains a link directly to Carphone Warehouse!

There are MANY more reports of this company and similar scams all over the Internet if you search... Hopefully this will help someone.

Mercedes mistake

I was contacted yesterday by the local dealer - he had just been doing a last minute check on the order for the new car as the spec is committed by the end of this week and cannot be changed. During a conversation with Mercedes it transpired that the ECO stop/start functionality that I have been waiting for (originally due Sept 08) has been moved to March 09! As you can imagine I was not too happy - I delayed the order specifically for this feature. After some arguing Mercedes have agreed to give me free heated seats (a £250 option) in lieu of the ECO function. I am disappointed but there is no way I can wait until March next year!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

MINI's broken...

Oh no - it was doing so well. I got in the MINI last night and the engine management light didn't go out. Phoned MINI Emergency and they said I should drive it home and then drive it in to the garage tomorrow - no need for a tow but get it looked at asap. Took it in this morning but they cannot look at it immediately so have left it with them. They wouldn't give me a spare car as I'd driven it in! So, now I wait. I need to be in Bury for 14:00 so if it is not looked at by 11:15 I'll have to get a train which will be over 4 hours of travelling!!! EEK!

Update - took K's car to work instead - it's fun driving with the top off :)

Update - turned out the O2 sensor had died and needed replacing. Car back with me by the end of the day.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

iPhone 3G 2.0.1 Update...

I updated K's iPhone to 2.0.1 tonight (pics link in title). The file was a 250MB download and the whole process took around 30 minutes. I ran the field test before and after *3001#12345#* to see the signal strength on the local cell as we have terrible reception here and people were reporting an improvement after the update. Unfortunatly for us it remained at -97dB to -105dB even after the update :(

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Was listening to some TWIT podcasts today and thought I'd go back and look at twitter again. It's been ages since I last used it. Downloaded twhirl and set myself back up - let's see how long it'll last this time. Oh, I'm rakh1 by the way :)

Monday, August 04, 2008

Digitech JamMan

After a tip off from A at work I bought a Digitech JamMan this weekend. It is basically a digital loop machine. Nice touches include almost unlimited overdubs and storage to CF card. Luckily for K there is a headphone output also...

Garden gets a makeover

The gardeners have been working all day and at last the garden is starting to look managed. One full lorryload of scrub has been carted off already and there's more to go. We should have some new shrubs coming in a week or so and some small niggles such as the loose paving slabs fixed. It's gonna be great to be able to enjoy the garden without having to work on it :)

Before and after...

Windows Live Mesh

I have just signed up for Window's Live Mesh service. It allows you to connect multiple machines and then sync folders between them. As an added benefit it allows you to access these folders on line and even remote desktop to any of your devices. Seems ideal for stuff I want to share between home and work (up to 5GB atm). Link in title.

K goes iPhone

K bought an iPhone 3G this weekend to match her ever expanding line of Apple products. The touch screen is fantastic - maybe the best I have used and the functionality typically Apple - very swish. It would be too limited for me to use day to day but for her it seems perfect. Only problem at the moment is that its signal reception for O2 if far from brilliant. Will have to see how it performs over the next few days.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Adobe Lightroom 2

I am trying my best to make my degree pay for itself - and Adobe are helping. I have just bought the newly released Lightroom 2 software (retailing at over £200) for the sum of £85 including delivery thanks to their Education store - I love being a student again! :)