Wednesday, 23 April 2014

overpowered by chocolate

Back once again for the renegade master...

Yes, back to normal, albeit with quite a lot of chocolate in the system. It looks as if some others haven't really restarted yet.

Yesterday and today have been close down from the last thing, as well as getting some material ready for another project. I didn't need my 05:40 start today, but somehow did it anyway.

Later this afternoon I also managed a few very wet miles on the bicycle, which now has the new brakes installed. Yet another reason to get black hands. Tonight I have a meeting in a few minutes, then maybe some telly.

...D4 damager, power to the people.

Monday, 21 April 2014

here we go again

A few of us were chatting about the days when we used PCs and could spend vast hours tending to these labour-saving devices.

The rashbre home setup nowadays features some Macs, which generally behave themselves. The old memories of device drivers and dozens of reboots have mainly faded. Okay, we have a machine on Windows 8, which we haven't yet tried on the free update to Windows 8.1 and another machine which is still reliably on Windows 7.

The careful tending has moved to other places now. We are all supposed to be enjoying the use of the Cloud, although we still backup everything to locally managed servers.

They say the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, and that is increasingly a facet I notice when using the Cloud.

A recent example has been the buffer overrun exploitation referred to as Heartbleed (CVE-2014-0160). It allowed nefarious people to peer beyond the length of a computer message at whatever followed (the next 64k actually). In some cases this yielded other peoples' passwords. The weakness was around for a couple of years before it was spotted, so there may well be plenty of passwords compromised around the web.

Like many, I get sent the emails from various Cloud-type services asking me to change my passwords because of this OpenSSL TLS/DTLS bug.

Then over the easter break I received the message that someone was attempting to hack into one of my Wordpress sites. I'd already deleted a couple of old sites at the end of last year after someone had been probing them and this time they attempted to put a file onto the site.

There's a kind of graffiti tagging they some hackers use, where they mark the sites they have hacked with a small text file saying they 'own' it. I casually looked around and noticed a British law firm, a French film company, a Turkish metal company, an American bar and even a broadway lyricist who have all been hacked by one of these people.

It's all just time consuming to manage and fix. Curiously, today I also received an email from a service offering to provide me Wordpress support by the hour.


My own care and maintenance has just made my already inscrutable passwords even longer and more fiddly.

I still see plenty of demonstrations of connected devices all talking to one another seamlessly. However, the annoyance of increasingly contorted security measures can still be a rainy lining to the Cloud.
I know, wandering lonely as a cloud requires slightly unseasonal daffodils, but they are from rashbre central.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Once at the Phoenix

Once pre-show
We decided to see "Once" at the Phoenix Theatre and managed to bag some central seats in the Dress Circle.

I'd seen the delightful indie movie, which had been made using sometimes guerrilla filming techniques.

The stage adaptation has won a fistful of awards on Broadway and recently gained Olivier awards including for the best actress in a musical, which went to Zrinka Civitesic. The guy in the stage version is Arthur Darville, who played 'Rory' in Doctor Who.

They are both accomplished musicians as indeed are the rest of the cast for what is certainly a great night out at a show.

As we arrived in the theatre, there was already a pre-show ceilidh running on the stage, with members of the audience sharing the space with the cast, who were playing feisty folk song arrangements.

Then the show proper got under way, with the love story of an Irish guy and a Czech girl who meet in Dublin. It is a simple story, well told and including some good knockabout humour as well as a whole range of good songs.

At interval time, the stage again becomes a bar for the whole audience, and we wandered downstairs to buy some Murphy's from the boards.
Once stage bar
The bar room is the core of the set, which also uses a few tables and some clever lighting to represent the different locations of the story. It follows a similar line to the original movie, although is different enough to be fully enjoyed in it own right.

I found the original movie charming, and thoroughly enjoyed this production of the stage version, which I'd certainly see again, given a chance.

As one of the original writers, Markéta Irglová, commented "It resonates differently within different people because, I think, it brings people back to their own stories, to the times that they've stood at similar crossroads and had to make choices that would affect the rest of their life and they would never be the same afterwards."

...And it's a jolly good evening out.
Once at the Phoenix

Friday, 18 April 2014

Square moment

"Which stop?" came the question, "Embankment or Temple?"

"If we get off at Embankment, we can swing past Trafalgar Square."

"What, like tourists?"

"Yes, but c'mon we are going to Covent Garden in any case."

So out of the tube, along a packed Villiers Street towards Charing Cross.

Traf. Sq. was packed with people. Some sort of event going on.

I suddenly remembered, "It's Good Friday, that'll be the Passion Play."

We watched a host of roman centurions nearby. Then a bearded man in white cloth walked speedily in front of us.

Yep, it was Him.

The story continued as Jesus reappeared a few moments later about to be recognised by Mary Magdalene.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

green brake blocks

Mind the Gap
I've had so much of the above, this year, that it's created quite a few gaps in my cycling plans.

Even so, I seem to have clocked up nearly a thousand miles already this year.

Compared with last year, I'm somewhat lagging behind, but I'm slightly surprised that I've done as much as this.
so far this year
I suppose I did the London thing a few weeks ago and I have a small team event coming up when a few of us get together to form a convoy going south. They are all practising and even have new bikes - no pressure for me, then.

At least I can now report that my carbon bike is back in business with decent tyres, tubes, a new chain and even a new set of brake blocks on order.
Swissstop Flash Pro Green

Wednesday, 16 April 2014


Jimmy's Iced Coffee
A refreshingly cold coffee on a train as I finish my current spell on the eastern side of London.

Thursday will have me tying a few loose ends. This mainly involves shredding documents. My shredder is like a kind of reverse printer. It has a paper tray area, but instead of putting in blank papers, it expects to be fed with A4 printed material.

It ponderously munches them and creates paper shreds that are about ten times the volume of the incoming material. I've the equivalent of an entire boxful (2,500 sheets?) to convert.

Monday, 14 April 2014

applying new black chilli sauce to the bike

Grand Prix 4000s II
It may look like a half-hearted snake charmer kit, but was my next attempt to get the tyres sorted out on the bike.

Swap out of the mistakenly applied old front tyre with a shiny new replacement and put the wheel back.

This time it was a much quicker process. 5 minutes to get the old tyre off, another 2-3 to put the new tyre on and about a further 5 to wrestle with the last 10 centimetres. Experts claim to be able to do all this in a few minutes, but my King of Tyres Personal Best is about 15 minutes with black hands at the end.
Grand Prix 4000s II
I like the new tyres more than I might have expected. They are reassuringly grippy, despite a lack of overt tread - which I think is mainly cosmetic anyway on road bikes. My last two sets of tyres on the carbon bike have both been Continental Grand Prix, but these updated GP 4000S II do somehow feel both lighter and grippier.

It must be the Black Chilli sauce.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

too early to be in the sea?

maybe still a bit cold in the sea?
A quick spin to the seaside today, although most sensible people would stay out of the water.

Seated at a small cafe, we basked in early sunshine, although away from the cafe's shelter a chill wind reminded us it was still before Easter.

Friday, 11 April 2014

longer levers

...and in a sort of update to yesterday's story, I had an email suggesting some extra long tyre levers. I took a look and have now ordered some, for the princely sum of £2.99. (OK, 6 quid because I ordered 2 sets).

I'll try them out when I get around to changing the front tyre next week. As well as ordering some more inner tubes. And maybe cleaning the bike.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

tyred story

My bike's had a very slow puncture on the back wheel. I think it might have been the valve, but anyway, I decided it would be best to replace the inner tube in the comfort of home, rather than be caught out somewhere on the road.

It sounds simple enough, but I managed to create a few problems for myself in the process. I took the back wheel off, let the remaining air out of the tyre and then used a tyre lever to start to ease the tyre off. It put up a bit of a struggle until I'd got about 30 cm of the tyre over the rim, but then I could get the tyre off from one side, pull out the old inner tube, look for anything untoward and then swap in a new inner tube.

In the comfort of garage (so to speak) I spotted a new tyre folded in a shiny box and decided to put that on to replace the one that had done several thousand miles.

So far so good.

Then to put the replacement tyre back on. It's supposed to be possible to do this with thumbs rather than the tyre levers. Hah!

Not my thumbs, they just couldn't manage it. Ten minutes of writhing and hand blackening, which I can remember from previous similar situations. I could have tried using plastic ties to keep the tyre in the middle of the wheel, but I decided to use a couple of tyre levers.

The tyre popped back on, and then I tried pumping it.

Yes, air was getting in, but then after about ten minutes, it was going out again. I realised I'd probably pinched the new inner tube, so undid the tyre again and realised it was so bad that I could hear air escaping with every pump.

Then I looked more closely at the new tyre.

I'd slightly wondered at the way the logo was kind of weathered when I was putting it on, thinking it must be a marketing/vintage thing.

But no. I realised that I'd actually just put on an old but clean tyre that I'd folded back into a convenient box. It was obviously a spare that I'd held on to for some reason.

This was becoming something of a downgrade situation. Now I had an old tyre and it was flat.

That was day one.

Next day, suited, I was walking around by Embankment tube station when a hidden force field guided me towards a nearby bike shop. I asked for an inner tube and the assistant shrewdly asked 'How many?'

I decided three should do it. And the cycling tractor beams had worked well. Just maybe a couple of proper new tyres as well? That way if I had to faff with the inner tubes, I might as well replace the highish mileage tyres at the same time.

Back home I dutifully removed the ex spare tyre and the dud inner tube. Put the new tyre half on, then the inner tube, then the other half of the tyre.

The last 10 cm was a problem again. I tried plastic ties this time to squish the tyre and got the tyre onto the rim without using levers. Pump up the tyre.

Guess what?

I'd somehow managed to make a hole in the second inner tube.

By now the red Bontrager tyre levers were becoming an indispensable accessory. This time I flipped the tyre off without much effort. Practice, I suppose was making it easier.

The second of the three new inner tubes was then deployed, and the tyre re-fitted again. I even had the tyre logo aligned with the valve.

This time it pumped up properly. 100psi. I put the wheel back on. It all worked.

That's the back tyre replaced plus a new inner tube.

That just leaves the front one.

Maybe next week.

Monday, 7 April 2014

junior pigeon

A pigeon in London? Where's the story? There's - oh - dozens of them.

This one was freshly minted. And was standing on our wall. Although nearly the same size as a grown-up, I'll guess that this one was maybe 20 days old.

It was looking a bit dazed. I'll guess it had fallen out of a tree or something, because it didn't seem to be that interested in moving away as I approached.

I decided it was actually a collared dove. They're the brownish-pink looking birds that mainly strut around this neighbourhood in pairs.

So what to do?

Leave it on the low wall, where it could become a cat's plaything or of interest to a passing hawk? I'd seen a bird of prey idly swooping around the neighbourhood yesterday, and a later flurry of other birds escaping radially from a spot out of my sight.

I found my bright yellow gloves. I'd simply move it to somewhere adjacent but camouflaged. That way it could sort itself out, or its parents could get to it without needing to break cover.

It let me pick it up but then decided it would like to try its wings one more time. First one outside my glove and then the other. I let it flap and away it spiralled. A slightly messy flight, circling upwards to a nearby roof. I heard some other birds calling. The rescue squad must have been watching all along.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

new bikes all round, except me

"Come and have a look at my new bike," said a familiar voice.

There it was, all black and stealthy and with its cogs all sparkly. A small amount of mud on the rear tyre showed it had been out for a spin, but the general impression was of pristine newness.

"I'm getting ready for the charity event."

"What, with a new bike?"

"Oh, yes, something - you know - modern and lightweight."

I gasped in wonder at the machine ahead of me.

"And what's that?" I asked, noticing another shiny machine. A red one this time.

"Oh, that's mine..." came another voice, "I thought I'd better get something - er, suitable."

I looked across to this one. Thin tyres, fancy gears, shining a bright red luminance over everything.

"What about you?"

"Er, I'll be using my normal bike. It's a bit oily at the moment, but I'll clean it up before we go."

My mind flittered to the options to compete with the shininess, but I decided I'd better find some of that pink Muc-Off and just spend the £5 or so cleaning mine up for the event.