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January 2007 Entries
Scottish Motorcycle Show

My tickets have arrived for the Saturday at Ingliston, for the Scottish Motorcycle Show. Only two of us going this time as the kids are old enough to cost me full price. So just me and Rona going, the kids stay at home this time but have tickets themselves for Fightstar in Glasgow the following week.

I'm looking forward to sitting on the bikes again at the weekend, trying out the newer BMWs etc. Excellent.

Just realised how long my blog has been going, I've got posts from 2004 and 2005 about going to the bike show!

posted @ Monday, January 22, 2007 2:22 PM | Feedback (0)
Where is the advanced riding?

Ah well, it came to a bit of an abrupt end. When I joined up towards the end of the season there was a risk that I'd miss the window of opportunity this year. As it was, the runs stopped at the beginning of November. As I've read elsewhere, the advanced biking training tends to run with BST. The weather gets unpredictable from October onwards and the risks to the Observers themselves tips the balance.

I'm a bit disappointed I didn't get the test in this year, next year is a bit trickier to organise, but I've enjoyed what I've learned and plan to get on with it. All being well I'll have it done before the summer, with enough of BST in 2007 to go.

In the meantime I've found myself watching my observations and what I notice when I travel in other cars and buses, so I'm still learning.

posted @ Monday, January 22, 2007 2:22 PM | Feedback (0)
Holiday Biking Stuff

I've been relaxing so much during this holiday that I haven't been out on the bike - how negligent of me.

I have been taking steps to do something about it though. I just received the revised version of "Not the Blue Book" which is a book on advanced motorcycling. The Blue Book is Motorcycle Roadcraft, an HMSO publication on the police system of riding a motorcycle. Dave Jones adds a bit of background to the official book which can be a bit dry at times. If you follow the link to Roadcraft you'll notice that the book is in fact green, the original versions (pre 1996) had a blue cover.

And I'm in the process of starting the process for the IAM advanced test, I've been in touch with the local motorcycle group (Edinburgh and District Advanced Motorcyclists) and I'm waiting for the membership forms to come through. There should be just enough weeks left in the season to do it this year.

posted @ Monday, January 22, 2007 2:18 PM | Feedback (0)
Fifth Ride to Advanced

This week was a bit of a diversion, when I got to the car park that we meet up in, it was announced that the regular Miss Laidlaw trophy was happening. This is an award dedicated to a benefactor of EDAM, and involves a large bike and a small bike and a number of cones in a car park.

It was quite nostalgic to see a wee blue Honda CG125 sitting there, as that was the bike I did my CBT on all those years ago. They even had L-Plates fitted for genuine effect. The big bike was a CBF1000, which was really nice. And it really opened my eyes up to lighter bikes! I hadn't realised how heavy the R1100RS was with all my luggage fitted.

We all started with a question paper on Roadcraft and Highway code signs, then a garage stop on the wee bike and cones on the big bike. I had a lot of fun, even though I didn't do that well, hitting a cone on the first slalom and completely forgetting where I was going. It was a bit of a confidence booster being a lot easier than I thought.

I was quite scunnered at hitting the cone and forgetting the route, because I wanted another shot :) , but the final round was a time trial, which upped the ante somewhat.

Hopefully back to the road practice next week, only a few weeks left this year.

posted @ Monday, January 22, 2007 2:18 PM | Feedback (3)
Sixth, Seventh, Eighth Ride to Advanced

I've been a bit remiss in keeping these up to date, my last post spoke about the EDAM Miss Laidlaw trophy which was a break in the standard proceedings, as was today's ride which was also connected to the Miss Laidlaw trophy.

There are two trophies on offer for the annual award, which are held for a year after the competition. As I mentioned when I posted about the original trophy day it starts with a test paper and slow riding work with cones. The trophies are split between full members (who have passed the IAM motorcycle test) and associates (who are working up to the IAM Motorcycle test), and as I learned in a phone call a couple of Fridays ago, I was one of the top associates in the first part. What then follows is an assessment of my road riding by one of the observers, and I guess then that the combined results come together to give a winner. The full members get the "priviledge" of a police rider taking them out for their assessed run!

So I was out for my ride at half ten this morning, with Simon who is the observer who got to take out the associates. We rode a loop which included a bit of town riding, dual carriageway, country and town again. We had speed limits of 30, 40, 60 and 70, traffic lights, roundabouts, and also a bit of aftermath of muck spreading on a road to Penicuik. One thing about bikes is that because you are outside under your helmet, you get the full effect of smells. Isn't the countryside wonderful!

We stopped back at the Dreghorn Little Chef and ran through the ride, with my usual habits coming out, I can be a bit on the slow side and can sometimes lock on to the front instead of looking around to benefit more from the side view. I could observe the distance better and make use of what I see. All bits I need to work on, and a good steady ride apart from a bit of madness at the end where I went for it in front of a Volvo on the bypass. A bit too much haste there!

The sixth ride a couple of weeks ago was with another observer, Stuart. We did a bit of town work and some slow riding, which was quite interesting. The slow riding practice included a bit of stop / start routine, which is all to do with stopping and moving off safely. This involves covering brakes and checking all around, while generally avoiding toppling over. The slow riding included riding along while Stuart walked at different speeds, and then riding round in circles clockwise and anticlockwise in ever decreasing circles while trying to keep the bike upright instead of leaning. Another good week, with one or two pointers and lots of practice to go.

The seventh week involved Bob the Senior Observer and Dave the trainee observer, and catching up with the weekly Roadcraft and Highway Code questions which I should have been filling out. Part of Observing is having various local routes up your sleeve that include features that will test the candidates abilities to handle different situations, while keeping the run at a manageable length to stop and debrief a couple of times and keep the overall time within limits of just under two hours. Bob illustrated one of his nasty (ish) routes that challenge cornering ability, both with a twisty A road with lots of chevrons etc, and also a wee twisty B road which really tests you. Needless to say I found them quite a challenge and it gave me plenty to work on, I need to get smoother with my cornering and make the best use of observation to get the best out of my cornering. The run also showed up one or two inadequacies in my slow riding which tends to be used at junctions. I'd taken a long weekend to do some riding, so managed to get out about three or four days running to practice.

All in all I know I need to work on a number of areas, but you always do in motorcycling, and I don't think I'm too bad for someone who has effectively been riding for just under a year. I've had a good few weeks and I've got stuff to work on during my commute to work.

posted @ Monday, January 22, 2007 2:17 PM | Feedback (0)
Bike Serviced this week

My first year of ownership of the R1100RS comes to an end, and I've got the old machine serviced again by George in Queensferry. Turned out my sticky brake caliper was nothing of the sort, and was actually a sticky brake lever pivot. The way to check? Spin the wheel and move the lever!

Unfortunately the allen bolt head has been mangled in a previous attempt, and the casting can be at risk if you give the bolt removal a good shot, so the miracle WD40 has done the job, and I have my instructions for where to spray a liberal supply to keep it unstuck.

posted @ Monday, January 22, 2007 2:17 PM | Feedback (0)
Composite UI Application Block and Commonwealth bank

Working through my ARCast collection, I've just listened to a couple of ARCasts that are really relevant to the project I am working on.

My project, for the Corporate Banking division of a leading UK Bank, is being architected smart client style using the Composite UI Application block. It turns out that work at Commonwealth Bank on their SmartClient CommSee project had a major input to this application block.

The ARCasts describes some of the really helpful background of both fitting this type of application into a Bank, how to get developers engaged, how long it takes, is reuse really possible!

I'm going to have to listen to them again, unlike ARCasts in general there are a series of about six of these, and a lot of information. The sound is low quality for Ron Jacobs, but information rich!

posted @ Monday, January 22, 2007 2:15 PM | Feedback (0)
The art of motorcycle maintenance

I'm signed up for a spannering course for motorbikes, having monitored Learn Direct Scotland for the last year, and narrowly missing one course which was cancelled due to lack of interest.

I start the "Know Your Motorcycle" course at Borders College in, wait for it, Galashiels, on Monday. It runs for 10 weeks and the finish will coincide quite nicely with the advanced riding lessons coming in again. It is a bit far away, but is the typically excellent price provided by such establishments.

I've also made enquiries about first aid courses, and the local St Andrews Ambulance seem to do quite a few in the local area. I think I'll wait on that though, want to keep time for MCP exams.

posted @ Monday, January 22, 2007 1:58 PM | Feedback (3)
Five things you don't know about me

Ok Kev, I now respond:

  1. I started off my working career at the age of 16 in a Chartered Accountantancy practice in Glenrothes, with the aim of becoming a certified accountant. I got as far as passing my entrance exam (HNC in Accounting), but balked at the idea of doing 3 years to get ACCA.
  2. I left a full time job in a steady career to start a switch to IT by studying for an HND in Computing, but got waylayed by the chap running the course for HND Applicable Mathematics with computing who looked at my 8 O'Grades and 5 Highers and signed me up to his course.
  3. I didn't get a Degree because I was skint paying for my car and wanted a job, so with my HND in Applicable Mathematics with computing in hand, I got a job with an IT company in Glenrothes instead of articulating to Dundee University like the other three guys in my class to get a Degree. And then got a bit of a fright when they bought an IT company in Livingston and told me my job had moved, and by the way, I should really move too.
  4. I have two teenage kids, a boy who is 18, and a girl who is 16. They came as a package when I married Rona just under 10 years ago, they were a bit younger then, but so was I. They are all top people, and amongst other things have inherited my wit, (lol - no luck people ;)).
  5. I can waggle my ears.
posted @ Sunday, January 21, 2007 11:08 PM | Feedback (0)
Five things you (still) didn't know about me

I was almost ready to finalise my shortlist after Kev tagged me, but I'm now in shock after seeing Martin's Cardassian:

 

Cardassian neck

posted @ Friday, January 19, 2007 9:26 AM | Feedback (0)
The truck count

Not rhyming slang, but the figure that indicates the number of people you can lose on a project before it fails due to loss of knowledge. I.e. how many trucks can wipe out individual team members before we stop.

I resychronised my zen nano at the weekend and about three months worth of ARCast came across - my podcast download sync had been working away happily in the background, downloading them into my sync playlist and - bang! - no space on my wee mp3 player.

Ron Jacobs was talking to Dr. Neil Roodyn about just enough architecture, focussing on high value business requirements, breaking team silos, I liked this one.

posted @ Friday, January 19, 2007 9:01 AM | Feedback (0)
The Hokey Kokey

Not much of a quality post after a break, but while we are waiting for a proper post or two, here's one on Comedy versions of the Hokey Kokey.

Firstly one that's not too comedic, but quite clever - Bill Bailey's "Das Hokey Kokey" a homage to Kraftwerk, and secondly a homage to AC/DC by Jim Bruer. You can either find it on internet radio at AccuRadio, or on CD.

Why?

posted @ Friday, January 12, 2007 1:36 PM | Feedback (0)