May 2007 Entries
Nineteenth Ride to Advanced

Out for a wee run with Bob the Observer tonight, which was an interesting change. Being out in the evening meant slightly busier roads, and also more pedestrians around. This made it a bit more interesting than a Sunday morning.

I've got to remember rear observations before slowing, something to remember on a motorcycle because they slow so quickly on engine braking, and a wee reminder to keep scanning. All in all a good run, and quite enjoyable.

posted @ Thursday, May 31, 2007 1:03 AM | Feedback (0)
More speed please, I don't like waiting

I get annoyed when my PC takes longer to boot up, as it has been recently. I wondered if it was to do with the new 2Gb of RAM, perhaps it takes longer to check? I traced the problem though. I'd been lazy and left my MP3 player plugged in to the USB port. Being a small MP3 player, it runs as one of those USB mass storage devices. The delay was part of the new fangled USB boot that these PCs have, it was trying to boot from the MP3 player.

And in the pursuit of DSL happyness I've used all sorts of MTU, RWIN and other tweaks to get the best out of my connection. Most recent change involved pulling wires out of the wall, which would normally be a disasterous move for me. Having consulted the diagrams at DSL Zone, I pulled out a couple of wires. This appears to have improved the noise margin on my ADSL statistics, and given me over half a meg of extra download speed. Result!

posted @ Wednesday, May 30, 2007 11:55 PM | Feedback (0)
IAM Test Date Arranged

The examiner phoned me today to arrange the IAM Motorcycle test. First thing they ask is if you are ready for the test, which I am (hopefully). Then confirmed the day (Sunday 2nd June 2007) and the time (I'll tell you after).

He told me the location to meet, and what colour and kind of bike he is riding. He'll be along on his own bike, which is a distinctive colour and therefore easy to spot.

He sounded friendly enough on the phone, the test will last around an hour. I gave Bob a phone about the test, so I'm out for a run with him on Wednesday night for some more polish.

posted @ Monday, May 28, 2007 10:41 PM | Feedback (1)
Eighteenth Ride to Advanced

As you may have understood from recent posts, I've put my application in to the IAM for my Advanced Motorcycle test so recent runs have been for polish and a little bit of practice. I was out again this Sunday with Bob, but we had another associate out with us who had her mock test last week and the three of us headed out. From the steadings we headed into town, up through Fairmilehead and up towards Dreghorn barracks. Then through town, then looped around to Westerhailes shops. Then looped back around to the Lanark road, headed along there and cut across to the A71 by the park and ride. Then out to oakbank for a chat. Then back in to town with me in front.

Points to remember for me are rear observations before slowing to a new speed limit. Also I have to remember to make an obvious head check with warning signs at the second stage when I know what the sign is for - you can usually spot warning sign triangles long before you actually know what it is. I've got to keep an eye out for other signage too - SLOW on the road, other information etc.

I got the letter through from the IAM on Saturday saying that my info had been passed to the Examiner, and when i phoned them on Friday I found out who the examiner was.

posted @ Monday, May 28, 2007 10:33 PM | Feedback (0)
Tom Tom Navigator 6 and surveying

I've been using Tomtom Navigator 6 on my Orange SPV M600 with a cheap bluetooth gps receiver I bought on ebay, and it has been quite impressive in what it can do. Only hassle I've had has been with the audio on my cheap holder for the car.

I was quite interested to see an article on the BBC about how they check the data for the maps behind the likes of tomtom, which involved a couple in a big orange van with cameras.

It's quite interesting to see how surveying works in the modern age.

posted @ Thursday, May 24, 2007 12:36 PM | Feedback (0)
Seventeenth Ride to Advanced

A nice run today, but I would say that because the Observer I was out with said I did some things right. My regular observer Bob was out doing a mock test, so I was out with Jim this week. Jim keeps his bikes (4 of them) really shiny, so much that we reckon he brings them in a van to keep them clean before appearing at the car park we meet up in.

We started today with a bit of a demonstration from Bob. Bob is a Senior Observer, and therefore conducts his share of mock tests. He had picked up on a couple of points. One was mirror checks, instead of checking the mirrors left then right, some had been doing the opposite. Left then right lends itself to a number of situations, mostly based on start/stop drill and that we drive on the left. The other was to do with feet! This is an example where it can seem a bit over the top to bother about what your feet and hands do, but it can look really messy and clumsy if you get it tangled up. Basically Bob had seen a few "Hendon Shuffles" which are an Over the Top method of handling stops. The procedure is to stop on the rear brake, in first gear, and put the left foot down. If it is a longer stop (can't remember the number of seconds) then front brake on, right foot down, left foot up and into neutral and release clutch and the bike is held like that until ready to move away. This saves the clutch mechanism, and means the bike drive is disengaged if you get shunted from behind.

After that it was a run with Jim to Penecuik and Peebles, with drills for overtakes and observations. Jim went in front, gave the wave, then I was to make safe overtakes. And then in front Jim was pointing out early observations. A really nice chap and good teaching methods, and I'm still happy that I've got stuff to take away to work on with tips for practice.

Just waiting for the IAM to get back to me with my test date!

posted @ Sunday, May 20, 2007 2:11 PM | Feedback (0)
Trophy presentation piccie

Stuart, the new Associates Secretary at EDAM just emailed me the pictures from the EDAM AGM a few weeks back. Unfortunately technical difficulties mean the photo is a bit underexposed, but you get the idea:

This was me receiving the Associate Trophy.

posted @ Saturday, May 19, 2007 9:53 PM | Feedback (0)
New speedo cable fitted to the BMW R1100RS

My old R1100RS is just over 44,000 miles old now and I just completed fitting a new speedometer cable. I ordered it the day after (Thursday) the old one broke and the part arrived this morning from Sherlocks. The old cable broke about 30mm from the wheel end.

It is easy enough to fit, turn the key in the ignition to undo the steering lock, and use this to make access to the removal of the two side panels by the dashboard easier. There is a small screw on each side down the opening around the steering - this mounts into the top end of the fuel tank so on my bike one is spinning away the captive screw. The panels have another two long screws at the top of each panel, then they slide out. If you have slim fingers then you can get to the back of the speedo from this stage, but to make it easier I removed the two rubber mounted 10mm bolts either side of the instruments. Note the routing of the existing cable (I forgot one bit) it goes down from the back of the speedometer, goes through a wee hoop on the front mudgard then goes to the drive from the front wheel.

Undo the knurled wheel on the back of the speedometer, and undo the screw holding the clamp at the other end. Fit the new one, putting it through the wee hoop and fitting the splines around the flat drive at the wheel end. Screw the clamp in, and spin the wheel to check the other end turns. In my case it did! Then screw the other end finger tight. I spun the wheel to see if anything would happen, but it didn't, so I'll be leaving the proper test to tomorrow when it isn't as windy.

posted @ Saturday, May 19, 2007 3:06 PM | Feedback (0)
Speedo cable broke on the BMW

I've been back at our offices this week and taking advantage of the more flexible dress code by taking my motorbike to work. All fine and dandy coming home tonight, then looked down to check my speed and the speedometer had stopped working.

Checked the cable when I got home and right enough it is broken. Not expensive or difficult to replace, just means I won't be on the bike until I replace the cable.

posted @ Wednesday, May 16, 2007 7:03 PM | Feedback (1)
Long way down on the BBC
Ok, so I'm slow on the uptake. Apparently the BBC have got the rights to the program, and there is a Long Way Down site on the BBC all about it. They are on BMW GS's again.
posted @ Tuesday, May 15, 2007 2:07 PM | Feedback (0)
Euan McGregor and Charley Boorman on the Long Way Down

I've been watching out for news of Messrs McGregor and Boorman heading out on their latest trip, and signed up to their emailing list. I haven't had anything through the email, but I spotted an article on the BBC saying that they had popped in to the Veteran's Erskine home on Sunday. That places them in Bishopton on Sunday 13th May 2007.

They have rather strange jackets on in the picture on the BBC Site, and I see no mention of the bikes they are on.

posted @ Tuesday, May 15, 2007 1:54 PM | Feedback (0)
Sixteenth Ride to Advanced

Had a good run yesterday, though the weather closed down at the end it was dry for most of the run. Bob, the observer who normally accompanies me, was out on a mock test with another associate, so I went on a run with Dave.

We headed across town past longstone, near slateford, then over to Corstorphine, the Drumbrae roundabout and stopped just before the top of the hill. Then out on the A90, up the slip road before the bridge, then a short stop, before heading out to Linlithgow.

Points to work on included better observations and not getting sucked into overtakes because of a limit change. I've had this a couple of times where I target fixate. Watching out for getting boxed in i.e. to make progress staying out in the right hand lane if there isn't traffic getting held up is ok. And not to bother too much about getting up to a limit on a Dual Carriageway if there is an big obvious 30 limit approaching 800 yards away.

So overtaking needs work, and keep working on the system.

posted @ Monday, May 14, 2007 1:22 PM | Feedback (0)
Windows 2000 Track exams scheduled for 2008 Retiral

Microsoft have announced the retiral in 2008 of a batch of Microsoft Certified Professional exams. The retiral page features a list of exams to retire on 31st March 2008, mostly coming from the Windows 2000 Server MCSE and MCSA exam tracks, plus an NT4 exam for good measure.

Looking at the list pop up some old "favourites" or what I would call one-off anomalies like the rather strange Commerce Server 2000 exam (70-234) which didn't even merit a simulation exam from Transcender, but was a credit to MCSD.

And they are retiring my recent pass, 70-215 Putting Windows 2000 Server on a box and making it work.

posted @ Thursday, May 10, 2007 9:30 AM | Feedback (0)
Advanced Motorcycle test application in the Post
Posted my application for my Advanced Motorcycle Test off to the IAM today, the form says to expect a three week wait.
posted @ Wednesday, May 9, 2007 8:15 PM | Feedback (0)
Alistair Laing MBCS
My work just kicked off a scheme to help suitably qualified staff to join the British Computer Society. I followed the process, and now I am a member. And I think that means I can put MBCS after my name. First proper letters I can put there, being as I don't have a degree.
posted @ Tuesday, May 8, 2007 6:02 PM | Feedback (0)
Fifteenth Ride to Advanced

Highs and lows today. The Highs came from my riding, the initial ride was really good, we headed out of the Steadings car park onto the bypass heading West. Came off at the Lasswade junction and turned right onto Lasswade Road, followed the road through and got to Dalkeith Bus depot (somehow!).

Then along the A68, cut left across to Ormiston for another stop. Then off through Musselburgh, into town, up Leith Street and North Bride, then right at Chambers Street and threaded through town to the Braids Golf Driving Range.

Points to remember from today's ride:

  • Keep observations up, and obvious head checks (i.e. rear mirror observations) for each hazard.
  • Remember weather - it was windy and wet today, so increase distance behind cars.
  • Be defensive in town, and take control of the road - e.g. do not move over and encourage three abreast across a road when there is a parked car on the other side of the road. Any dubiety then move away from the nearside so that you don't get jammed up on the nearside.

Other stuff too, but all came together enough to put in for my proper test. In the meantime I can revise Roadcraft and practice.

The low of the ride was a fumble in the car park, I parked up defensively but the car park is quite exposed and the wind was blowing like mental. So I moved the bike. Unfortunately as I was putting it on the centre stand my right foot that was holding the stand down slipped, the bike overbalanced away from me, and fell on its right hand side. Nothing more than a couple of scratches to add to the rocker cover and pannier, so after a couple of expletives I lifted it using a technique I learned off my Ride Like a Pro IV DVD. This is demonstrated on the DVD by a woman in the states picking up her Harley Road King. Basically you make sure the side stand is down, then turn the handle bar full right. You use the right grip in your left hand, and right hand somewhere solid on the bike, and pushing your back against the seat lift using your legs. Not a problem. Then once upright I put it down gently on the side stand and then back on the centre stand. All looked fine, so I headed in for my coffee, and cheered myself up with a bacon roll and a scone and jam.

But when I came back out and started the bike up, I was getting a lot of grey/blue smoke and the smell of burnt oil. Not normal, and it didn't clear after a minute or two of revving the bike. I parked up and there was a little drip of oil, so being a bit concerned I called out the AA. They arrived in about 20 minutes, and although the chap wasn't a bike specialist, he checked in with technical support, and we got the fairing off for a look. There was oil on the intake side, which was reassuring as there isn't any oil plumbing on that side. He took the inlet off and cleaned it, and then I remembered something about a drain plug on the airbox. Right enough, gave that a go and ended up with a good half cup or so of oil coming out and making a mess. I think the air box catches the output of one or two of the breather pipes, and as the bike had just been running it got a bit more than normal.

Thankfully the air filter was dry, so we drained all we could from the airbox, he cleaned up the inlet pipe and throttle body, and all back together fine. Sorted, and it all seems fine now, albeit my bag stinks of oil from being in the left hand pannier.

So a bit more experience, and two highs. I was exhausted after all of that!!


posted @ Sunday, May 6, 2007 9:44 PM | Feedback (0)
Mock Test Route
  • Left out of Steading car park on to A702, follow Biggar Road up to lights at Fairmilehead.
  • Turn right at lights into Frogston Road and follow road until T junction at traffic lights.
  • Turn right into Old Dalkeith Road and follow road to Sheriffhall roundabout, take first exit on to Millerhill Road.
  • Follow Millerhill Road to roundabout and take second exit towards Millerhill.
  • Follow Old Craighall Road and take second exit at roundabout and turn into Musselburgh services.
  • Leave services and take second exit to Musselburgh.
  • At T junction lights turn right into Mall Avenue and follow road to traffic lights at high street.
  • Follow high street along  into Linkfield Road and past race course.
  • Follow Linkfield Road to Roundabout and take first exit into Ravenshaugh Road.
  • Follow road into Prestonpans High Street.
  • Leave Prestonpans on the Edinburgh road and into Cockenzie and Port Seton.
  • Continue to follow B1348 out of Port Seton.
  • Continue on road going into A198.
  • Continue into Aberlady to park.
  • Stop for Debrief.
  • Follow High Street and along to left, following A198 to Gullane.
  • Through Gullane (still on A198).
  • Leave Gullane, staying on A198.
  • Follow A198 into North Berwick.
  • Dirleton Road onto Dirleton Avenue, then follow road straight ahead to Station Hill, then Beach Road, then Forth Street.
  • Turn Right into Quality Street, then next right into High Street. Follow Road then park near Thai Café.
posted @ Saturday, May 5, 2007 9:40 PM | Feedback (0)
Workon points from Mock Test

Now that I'm clear of courses at work (for three days in Northleach), the project I am working on for a bank, and then conducting an interview and a night out for a colleague who was leaving, I'm back considering action points in preparation for applying for the IAM Advanced test for a motorcycle.

The action points I got from last Sunday, 29th April 2007 where:

  1. Regarding hazards on the nearside - more room if possible.
  2. Forward Observations and planning need to be improved. E.g. led to poor safety position in Prestonpans (see point 1 above) and taking bends one at a time.
  3. System - Earlier, shoulder and lifesaver checks.
  4. Observations - Further ahead, scan and use to plan better.
  5. Overtaking - plan better, look ahead.
  6. Oops - needs to know system.
  7. Read Highway Code and Roadcraft, please.
posted @ Saturday, May 5, 2007 9:26 PM | Feedback (0)
I have just been on a wpf course

I'm on my way home now from attending a Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) course run by one of my colleagues, Pat Long. It's a brand new course he has just written, and I was priviledged to be a guinea pig along with five of my other colleagues. If it works out, the plan is to put more folks on it from my colleagues in the technical team, and even offer it externally.

I first saw WPF at the 2003 PDC in Los Angeles, when we had various folks from Microsoft and even Adobe were wheeled out in the massive auditorium to showcase this new thing called XAML, which was a step to bridge the gap between designers and developers and code named Avalon.

Things have moved on somewhat, and other things haven't. For one thing we developers still drop down to source code whenever we can, so I have a really good idea of the power of XAML. It is quite deceptive, I mean, its only xml isn't it? And yet in our three day course we built up from the plain brush and control elements, had a play with xaml pad and Visual Studio Orcas. Then we started binding things together, then bound in xml and classes. Pow - in come animations with their storyboards and my brain attempted to leave.

Then a little introduction to Microsoft Expression Blend, which is a really funky tool - I mean, it fires up with a black background so it must be cool, right? It has panes all over the place and looks very designer oriented, I think it should run on a Mac to be the real thing. But on a serious note, if they pull it off then the designers will be able to do their layout and animation thing, and us devs will be able to support them with the heavy and not so heavy lifting in supporting c# classes and data providers.

I can thoroughly recommend a look, and with very little polishing the course I attended would be just the thing to get you into WPF. A good challenge, and check out Pat's blog.

We ran the course from our Northleach office, which although remote and bereft of wifi or decent mobile coverage, was absolutely idyllic. Now I'm in the compact and bijou Birmingham Airport, waiting for my flight back to Edinburgh. At least I was, until the wifi conked out in the airport, so I saved the post and uploaded it from home.

posted @ Wednesday, May 2, 2007 10:32 PM | Feedback (0)
ActiveSync fun with my Orange M600 and server Certs

Had a wierd problem out of the blue yesterday with my Orange SPV M600. We recently changed over the public name of our ISA server and this involved a resync of my pda - not a problem. The biggest hassle (tiny at that) was picking up the folders to take offline in mobile Outlook.

Then I started getting an error when I attempted to synchronise my phone - "The security certificate on the server is invalid. Contact your Exchange Server administrator or ISP to install a valid certificate on the server. Support Code:80072f0d". This error could be seen on both the pda and in activesync 4.5.0

I tried a whole pile of stuff, including back to basics as I did when I got usb sync working. I tried a few soft resets. I checked for the error code in microsoft support, but just found a listing explaining the error code, not the fixing procedure. I even thought it might be because I'm in a different location at work, and hitting some name resolution wierdness from the different network routing.

Then I stumbled over an article on root certificates and mobile 5 devices. I'm guessing that the root certificate authority (CA) had switched between the old address and the new address the pda was syncing to (i.e. the public name of the ISA server in front of Microsoft Exchange). The new SSL certificate (i had the checkbox in activesync checked) wasn't acceptable. So I had to get a root certificate from our company root CA. This I did by popping into Internet Explorer 7.0 on my work machine, Choosing Tools Options, picked the Content tab and then certificates. Then I picked the Trusted Root Certification Authorities and exported the root certificate from my company to a DER encoded file. Then I used activesync to transfer the file over to my pda, then used file explorer on the PDA to find and open up the certificate. This fixed the problem!

So in summary, if you get 80072f0d, then it may be that the root CA on your sync server isn't trusted. This can happen if the root CA isn't one of the standard set that ships from Microsoft in Windows Mobile (IE is similar), in my case the root certificate was already on my desktop build as part of policy. You need to choose whether or not to change the server certificate to one issued by one of your existing trusted CAs, or trust the root CA that has been used.

posted @ Tuesday, May 1, 2007 10:37 AM | Feedback (0)