Thursday, November 05, 2009

BSO- bicycle shaped object

Asda style bike assembly, originally uploaded by mike1727.

BBC TV consumer rights programme Watchdog has just run an article on assembling flatpack bikes bought from supermarkets for under £100. The article is fairly good, since the bikes are put together by normal, unbikeskilled people, just the sort of people who would mistakenly buy a cheap and nasty bike.

"All of our volunteers struggled with their instructions and the tools often seemed inadequate for the job. All five made crucial mistakes that left their bikes unsafe to ride..."Whether it was down to our cyclists and their assembly, or problems with the individual bikes we happened to buy, they all ended up with faults that only someone in the know would be able to put right."

There's a blog about BSOs here, here's a good article on the program in Bikeradar .

And here's the evidence in the wild- outside the Quadrant shops in Marshalswick.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

First, if there's one thing that pisses me off, it's shite riding of bikes around St Albans. The other day I was driving the kids into town, and as we drove up to the bridge next to the station this 20ish lad bimbles his way on to the road, riding between the yellow lines- ie in the gutter- but looking like he's going to peel off in any direction pretty soon. I clocked him, giving him a wide berth as I pass and join the queue at the traffic lights, keeping tabs in my mirrors. Sure enough he pulls out in front of another car then fires down the lane to jump the lights. Watching him as he goes up Victoria street he jumps the next set, then turns left down a one-way against the traffic.

People like this are the main reason reason bike riders get slagged off by drivers. This small(ish) group of stupid, risk taking, law breaking twats wind 'normal' people up so much that they see stupid roadsense as the average biker's skills. The result is that that those of us who do act as traffic get slagged off as roadscum by a large proportion of drivers and get agrro from the very aggressive few.

Next, retailing. This morning me and the kids went for a ride to meet my wife for lunch. I was riding the town bike since my mtb is still in bits and the townie needed air in the tubes especially the pancake front. I didn't have a pump on the bike and I didn't realise until we were on our way. No problem, plenty of time. We diverted, arriving at a garage to use their air line with limited success so we pushed on towards the triathlon shop on Hatfield road. They're bound to have a pump and probably have some HRMs for me to look at since my Polar has failed and I'm looking for a replacement some nice bikes to look at too, I definitely need some new shorts and I bet they've got some funky accessories to look at too. I have my card, I've just been paid. I'm impluse-buying retail fodder.

"Can I borrow your pump for a second please? I'm out on a ride with the kids and I don't have a pump"
"We don't have one to lend to people. We can sell you one"
Me- fx- looks flabbergasted
"People come in all the time to borrow a pump"
Me- fx- remains flabbergasted. Mutters about duty to the community, could charge people £1 for charity to use a pump. Leaves shop. Rides carefully for the rest of the day before topping up at home.

Doesn't this shop realise the value of good customer relations? A quick go on a track pump isn't really much of a hassle, after all. You could buy one for buttons and chain it to a wall inside if you think it will get nicked. Yes, I appreciate that you're a business and you'd like to sell pumps and being a triathlon shop you probably don't give a crap about a fat guy on a £300 hybrid with his kids or a scruffy teens from a few streets down or anyone else who just wants to put some air in a tyre. I would've spent £40+ pretty much without any sales talk. That kid you turn away could grow up into someone who would buy a bike from you in five years time, that older person could recommend you to a grandchild.

Fuck you, Triathlon Zone. Enjoy your karma.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

cracked rim

cracked rim, originally uploaded by mike1727.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Today's design flip-flop

Today's design flip-flop, originally uploaded by mike1727.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mark Cavendish wins Milano San Remo

Mark Cavendish, originally uploaded by pedale.forchetta.

All hail the new Mario Cippollini. Hopefull Mario 2 will carry on winning classics, even those which require some climbing.

Talent, and attitude:

At 23 he is the youngest winner of Milan-San Remo since the legendary Eddie Merckx. "It's the best day of my life," Cavendish said. "When you win a great one-day race like Milan-San Remo you've proved you're a great rider."

It was another amazing performance by the Brit who had said last week that he was only going to Italy to learn about the race. But when the lead group failed to split over the last two climbs his thoughts must have turned to victory.

Cavendish's win is the second ever for a Brit in Milan-San Remo after Tom Simpson won in 1964. It is Cavendish's 34th professional win of his career.

Despite spats with the track team, he's racing in the Madison at the worlds next week.

At home, not all is rosy. The Bikeline Two day event was stopped for 'white line crossing'- ie racers moving onto the other side of the road, as is pretty much demanded at that level of racing.

If we're going to come up with winners on the road as well as the track we need to start to pull together more road racing at home- this means investing in rolling closing roads for bike races.

Let's hope the increase in track/tt talent isn't at the expense of road, this was the way of much division in the past, also driven by at least a fear of police action.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

because, just because

P1000088, originally uploaded by ANNYIA.

Monday, January 19, 2009

19/02/2009 Then and now

19/02/2009 Prescribed, originally uploaded by mike1727.

Imagine the feeling of suddenly getting heavier, falling to the floor, looking up at your family, unable to speak or make yourself understood. That's a stroke. That was me, a year ago.

Luckily, it was a small stroke and there are no lasting effects- a day later I was talking again, a year later I'm fine. My recovery is something which I am very, very grateful for. That and the streadfast support of my immediate family, notably my wife who went through a huge strain in the first few days.

So folks, don't smoke, excercise regularly, drink responsibly and keep an eye on your diet. All these things reduce the risk of strokes considerably.

That's all.

And, when you have a little money to spare, put it here

Friday, January 16, 2009

What's on my new phone^H^H^H G1

The mental synchromesh has more or less stopped working in the transition from N95 to G1. It's quite a change in OS, display and form factor and a jump from a fairly well established phone to a new 'device'which still has some teething trouble.

Here's a few thoughts based on my first week of use:
The G1 is a great web device. Browsing is excellent: it's easy to browse more 'full' web pages instead of PDA/smartphone versions now that page navigation and display is much easier. There are a few pages which don't really work but most of what I see is fine. Missing, however, are most of the add-ins like flash. Hopefully these will turn up pretty soon either as applications or as add-ins to the OS.

Google apps work well- I was using mail, reader and iGoogle on the N95, but now I also use contacts and I'm going to look at calendar. Relying on a single vendor for all my personal stuff is a little dubious but the disadvantages are outweighed by the convenience of having everything available via phone or pc. Maps is excellent too, I'm just waiting for google to launch streetview in the UK.

Beyond the browser, there's a market full of apps to download, currently for free. Some are good, some don't work or are really crap. Time and evolution will tell which survive but the combination of cheap, easily accessibly applications should drive usage.

I'm currently running:

Meebo- looks a good IM client but seems to have difficulties and crashes when moving between 2g and 3g. I'll try it out once I've sorted out wifi at home.

Weather channel weather report. Seems ok, can pick up location using GPS. It will be interesting to see how this compares with a shortcut to the BBC weather forecast in the browser which I would usually use. Accuweather looks good too- same sort of content.

Twidroid- Twitter client, includes location awareness. Seems to work well, new twitter indications appear in the status bar. Other twitter clients are available too.

Sky Map- map of the sky showing positions of stars, constellations. Location aware and links with the position sensors so that you see the star layour in the direction you're pointing the phone. I like this app, having been looking for an easy to use star map for a while.

StreamFurious- Good streamer for shoutcast. A bit short of other radio stations though.

last FM- a good looking client which doesn't work very well. Nice idea, hope the client gets sorted out soon as I'll use it lots.

Lunar phases: moon calendar showing phases of the moon, because I want to take photos of the moon.

Pixelpipe- uploader for Flickr, blogs etc. Still working to get this installed and working properly but it looks good.

Toggle GPS/WiFi/Bluetooth- simple on/off switches for bettery-eating applications.

Waiting in the wings to see if they're any good:
Mymaps editor- edits google maps
Cellfinder- shows map of your location and the cell you're connected to. Usful for cellular geeks.
Photostream/PicPush - uploader for Flickr.
Wheeler- bike ride trip recorder. Not as good as Nokia's sportstracker.

On the down-side:

Battery life is awful
g1 doesn't receive quite as well as the N95.
Browser and app activity when shifting between 2G and 3G is variable.
Bluetoth support is pretty crap, I couldn't connect the G1 to my N95 or send files to/from the g1 to my laptop.

On the severe downside:
The g1's camera is, well, shite. 3MP, no zoom or flash. It's so bad that I'm currently not using it and am still carrying my N95 just to take pictures. Fail, fail, fail in design spec here, even low end nokia cameras are better than this.

Overall it's a good start for Android, shame about HTC's build of the phone but other manufacturers will do a better job.

The G1 isn't a phone for Flickr'ing, sadly. Now, if LG broughy out an Android Renoir, that would be a flickr phone.