Putting the record straight…

November 30, 2015

… one thing at a time.

Something happened yesterday’s mountain bike ride, which saddened me a little. As someone who participates in what is (sometimes) seen as a minority sport, there may be pockets of ignorance and fear among those looking in from outside.

I’ll try and set the scene. It’s a wet day, not “otter’s pocket” territory but not far removed. I reach the brow of a tiny incline, and see there are pedestrians sharing the trail. I’m at sufficient distance to shout out a friendly “Hello!”.

At this point I’ll interrupt the narrative to let you (dear reader) know that hydraulic brakes sometimes make a lot of noise in the wet. This is undesirable, but does not indicate a malfunction. The reason why I run hydraulics is that they continue to work in the wet.

So I’ve dabbed the brakes at the summit. Squeeek!
Shouted out to indicate I’m here, and I’m just human like everyone else.
I start to roll down the incline.
Controlling my speed sensibly, so people don’t feel like they’re in danger.
I need to keep two hands on the handlebars, I’m modulating the braking force to prevent skidding.

In a blatant display of ignorance, some old biddy says “Bell?”

Having slept on it, and scratched my head several times, I still can’t think of a reasonable explanation for comments like the above.

Therefore I conclude it was borne out of ignorance.

In conclusion the time is now to set the record straight:

  1. There is no requirement (in common or criminal law) for any cyclist to carry a bell.
  2. While I have a tongue in my mouth, and breath in my lungs, I will shout out to any other trail user. I will not change my behaviour depending on the mode of transport of the other trail user(s).
  3. While I am riding any bike it is often dangerous to remove my hands from the controls. I can retain control of the bike with my hands at the controls.
    This applies on and off the roads, by the way.
  4. I will always share trails in a responsible way, and will always make the safe choice.
  5. If a trail is a right-of-way or not is beyond the scope of this statement.

In the situation I described above, the ignorant walker was aware that I was present. She was aware there were other trail users present. Yet she chose to behave in an arrogant and confrontational manner, while clinging on to an incorrect presumption. To be honest, I feel sorry for you that you’re stuck in that cognitive loop from which you’re unlikely to escape.

This trail is a permissive route for cyclists. As the landowner has given informed consent, then the opinion of a minority of walkers counts for exactly nothing.

Thank you for reading.

Smile and wave!

September 2, 2015

Perhaps the children of Lindal-in-Furness have never seen a camera:

Smile and wave!

Smile and wave!

Probably not worth being flattened on the A590 for, all the same.

Replacing the sub-bass driver on a Mission FS2-S.

July 12, 2015

My long-serving Mission FS2-S sub-bass driver succumbed to the passage of time recently, and the rubber diaphragm started to disintegrate. The driver needed replacing. A forum post revealed that Mission would sell you a replacement driver, in October 2014. When I spoke to Mission’s technical department, they don’t stock that driver and that was the end of it as far as they were concerned.
The satellite speakers only work with that cross-over and filter, and I was not ready to replace the entire system. An alternative strategy is to remove the failed speaker, and use a separate (amplified) sub-bass driver. That’s ok, but it’s a second big black box in the corner.
After a bit of searching for 8 ohm 6.5 inch speakers, I found that the Visaton W170 appeared to be a drop-in replacement. The power rating is not quite as high as the original part (40W versus 55W for the original). But the fixing centres are in the same place, the speaker physically fits in the cabinet, and it even has the same spade terminals. For a mere £20, it’s a bargain repair. Very easy to do. The only “trick” is that the rubber grommets which hold the dust cover on are hiding 6 screws which need to be removed.
As Mission were asking for £40, the price looks brilliant.
I listened to the first twenty minutes of my Blu-ray edition of Blade Runner on it, and it sounded great to my non-calibrated ears.


SRAM X7 10-Speed Rear Derailleur – why the cheap pulley bearings?

May 15, 2015

Subject says it all really.
Why do SRAM spoil a competent rear mech. with cheap and nasty bearings which go rusty if they are in the same room as a drop of water?
SRAM ought to expect bike components to get wet from time to time, I’ve had the rear mech about a month.


(31/8/2015) By way of an update, SRAM do say you can dismantle the jockey wheels, remove the black seal and add grease. It’s a lot of faffing around compared to using better-sealed bearings in the first place.

ST Professional Plumbing And Heating responds to security concern with “blah blah”.

February 12, 2015

(See attached image)
Suppose you are concerned about your fancy internet-connected home appliance. You might have seen that film in 1995 called “Hackers”. Therefore, you voice your concerns to the supplier. If your supplier was a professional, the supplier might say that every precaution is taken to reduce and mitigate the risks. The supplier might even say there is a report available from an independent tester which shows the security of the system.

On the other hand, I present the example shown here where the supplier (that’s ST Professional Plumbing And Heating of Flookburgh, Cumbria) say “blah blah” to your concerns. They seem to think that you must ‘take their word for it’ in their arrogance. I wonder if they are suggesting that the average man on Clapham Common is unable to understand and consider the risks.

I will not be employing them, ever. I ask you to consider the nature of the company you are considering employing in the future. It’s not national security at risk. It’s your personal security, and when you are in your own home it is your castle. I believe that when you are in your own home, you need to put the security of your family and yourself first.

As a side-note, I would expect that the people in charge of national security have probably got it sussed by now.

2015027_ST_Professional_Plumbing_And_Heating_responds_to_security questions_and_fails

Optical Express ignores Information Commissioner’s Office warning about spam texts.

February 2, 2015

After this:

High Street optician Optical Express has been admonished by Britain’s data watchdog after thousands of customers complained that the company was sending them nuisance text messages.

Guess what landed in my mobile phone box today?

So that has been reported to my mobile provider’s spam-reporting service.
I can not see any reason for me to ever use Optical Express, ever. I’ve never agreed to receive junk mail from them in any format.


January 31, 2015

Just a note of thanks to the authors of Qalculate! because I’ve just discovered it today. My elderly Casio fx-7700GB has started to consume batteries like Smarties. With Qalculate! I can continue to do calculations with fractions so I don’t lose precision to decimals in my Circuit Theory homework.

Installing it on Ubuntu (assuming you’re using the default window manager) makes it less pink as well.

Cheers Hammond!

January 26, 2015

The BBC’s Top Gear is back for another series, they are spoiling us with 10 episodes.
That’s not (exactly) why I’m here in front of my computer, although Top Gear is certainly entertaining.
What I’m actually here is to express my disappointment over Richard Hammond’s “shouty angry man act”. I ride a bike to work, and I’ve seen some inconsiderate and dangerous driving (from drivers and cyclists alike). Perhaps it’s a symptom of age (although he’s about five years older than I am) but I felt his yelling and cussing did nothing to improve the image of cyclists.
I find that a directed look of calm derision is much more effective at making me feel better, rather than chasing the driver down and tearing a strip off him or her.

I also felt Hammond’s occasional cycling-in-the-door-lane sets a poor example. I’d want to be further away from the door of the parked cars, experience teaches this sort of thing just as well as the UK’s Highway Code.
(Highway Code, rule 67 paragraph 2)

Having the tools is not the same as using them.

January 19, 2015


In a first of its kind case a student accused of attempting to pirate the 3D movie Gravity has been completely cleared by a court in the UK. The presiding judge said there was absolutely “no legal basis” for the case and instructed the jury to find the 28-year-old not guilty.

The muppets at FACT are particularly petulant in their response, because people never take cameras in to the cinema. Nope, never happens, right?
(I’m deliberately mocking how most cinema-goers will take their camera-equipped mobile phone with them, and often use it during the show)

Being more practical about this case, if the student in question had intended to record the film then I understand that the alignment of the two cameras in terms of the precision in convergence would make the enterprise prohibitively difficult.

When I worked in the cinema industry (which seems like a long long time ago) I interrupted a few people with various cameras and mobile phones. Not because of the potential for piracy, but because it was against the admission policy on mobile devices. At the time people were downloading films from the internet, as they do today. Why take the risk and record it yourself? Lunacy.
By the way: Happy new year! I have been in full-time employment since September 2014, so I have less time to write compared to when I was working a part-time job in between leaving the cinema industry and now.

Dropper seat post and where to put the rear light.

October 27, 2014

I have just changed the seat post (and seat) on my mountain bike to a dropper seat post. I was a bit skeptical about dropper posts, but I’m a convert now. As I’m a bit of a traditionalist, I like to have a rear light on my bike.

Not attached to me.

Not attached to my bag.

Not attached to my bike helmet.

In any of these places the light may be pointing at the ground, or the sky.

I did see a post on the singletrack forums which gives a cheap solution, and there is this post on another blog which is the same idea. My version is made from plastic pipe, with two notches machined from it, and two zip ties:

Home made bike seat rail mount for a rear light.

Home made bike seat rail mount for a rear light.


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