Posts
389
Comments
117
Trackbacks
40
Life
Anything that I feel like saying.
Motorcycle Maintenance Evening Classes - Edinburgh

I missed a comment from May from David mentioning motorcycle maintenance evening classes and asking about the Edinburgh area. It would seem that evening classes mirror the school and college semesters so it is a good idea to keep an eye out for schedules as the summer holidays draw to a close and autumn starts coming in. Edinburgh Council ran a Motorcycle maintenance evening class in Autumn 2014 from Boroughmuir High School and the new schedule may include similar when posted from 12th August 2015 West Lothian College in Livingston have a basic Motorcycle braking, steering and suspension course starting on 2nd September...

posted @ Thursday, July 30, 2015 11:58 AM | Feedback (1)
Life and Work and Windows Mobile 8

I know it breaks the principle of doing everything from one device but I have two windows 8 mobile phones. One is my own Nokia Lumia 920, and my work phone is a Nokia Lumia 820. It does mean carrying two phones but I got my own personal number a few years ago during a period that I didn’t have a work mobile phone and have run with the slight inconvenience of having two with me and the resultant bulk and charging issues. They both synchronise to my work Outlook e-mail, albeit the personal phone is on manual...

posted @ Tuesday, July 2, 2013 7:32 PM | Feedback (0)
EICMA 2012–The Show

I’ve posted the story of how I chose to go to the EICMA show last year, and having got through the turnstiles the plan was to get to the BMW stand as soon as possible to see the new R1200GS. The show is huge and was quite different to our regular fare at the Scottish Bike Show. As soon as we got in there were folks handing out fisherman’s friends. Yes you read right, and I still can’t quite believe it. If you don’t know these are menthol cough sweets made in Feetwood, Lancashire. And they were handing them...

posted @ Thursday, May 30, 2013 7:06 PM | Feedback (0)
EICMA 2012 from Edinburgh

Further to my previous post here is a shorter summary post on our Itinerary. How we got there We flew EasyJet from Edinburgh Airport to Milan Malpensa with one item of hold luggage. The Winter schedule is quite light midweek so watch for this adjustment. In hindsight we would travel with proper full size hand luggage and use that instead to be quicker and save the extra cost. I bought return tickets for the Malpensa Shuttle from Malpensa to Central Rail Station. You can buy tickets on the EasyJet flight for the same amount of money as...

posted @ Wednesday, May 29, 2013 9:15 PM | Feedback (0)
Motorbike Show ? Try Italy

I’ve been to a few Motorcycle shows over the years. Our local show is the Scottish Motorcycle Show at Ingliston, about 20 minutes drive from the house and tends to be the first weekend in March. Then a few years ago there was a one off show at the SECC in Glasgow, on a smaller scale. Then I’ve also been to a couple of events that the Police have run, the family and I went to a couple of the Cumbria Police events at Carlisle Race Course – they always seemed to do well with their live bands which went...

posted @ Wednesday, May 29, 2013 7:34 PM | Feedback (0)
Still Here, just spread about a bit

My goodness, almost a year since I posted on my blog. What have I been doing? For one thing my inane chat and comments albeit briefly have been recorded on the currently more trendy Facebook and Twitter. And perhaps I've got a bit quieter and less inclined to waffle on about my life and work. Facebook with appropriate privacy settings seems more appropriate for delivering updates to those I know personally, and twitter has settled into brief broadcasts biased to work matters with a smattering of local and other mutterings. Otherwise a big aspect of my non-work life has been losing...

posted @ Monday, April 25, 2011 9:25 PM | Feedback (0)
Start an embedded YouTube video at a certain timestamp

If you want to start an embedded YouTube video at a certain second, then go check what Matt Cutts writes on his blog.

posted @ Thursday, March 4, 2010 2:29 PM | Feedback (0)
Back after a while

My goodness, it has been a few months since I posted here and that was after a run of postings every month. So what’s my excuse? Well for one thing, I mucked up slightly with the blogging software hosting this site. I use SubText and I’ve been quite happy with it. The only thing is that I forgot the password, actually more specifically I deleted the email with the latest password reset, and it was then that I discovered that the version of SubText I was running did not have a functioning password reset. So it has taken me...

posted @ Monday, January 11, 2010 10:46 PM | Feedback (0)
EDAM Run To Arran

I’m treasurer and webmaster of a motorcycle club affiliated to the Institute of Advanced Motorists called Edinburgh and District Advanced Motorcyclists. The main aim of the club is to assist people with preparation towards an “Advanced” test that is run and administered by the IAM. The idea is that Advanced training helps an individual to manage the risk of riding a motorcycle and try to avoid the situations that result in accident. The club also tries to do things for those that have passed the test and some of us had a run to Arran last Sunday. The run...

posted @ Sunday, May 10, 2009 9:35 PM | Feedback (2)
I am still employed!

My last post indicated that I may be seeking employment soon. I’m pleased to say that having reached the end of my consultation period, my current position is no longer at risk and I am still employed at my current job. A great relief, and although I am sure that challenges remain in the economy ahead, I am pleased. I’d like to say thanks to those in my “internal network” at work, my “external network” for those I know for offering help and suggestions, folks I know otherwise through the IAM etc but to my family for being...

posted @ Friday, April 24, 2009 2:22 PM | Feedback (1)
I am seeking employment

Due to market conditions, I may be looking for employment in the not too distant future. If you don’t already know me, I have a number of years experience working with Microsoft Products in a development capacity working for consulting companies on bespoke development and configuration projects. The bulk of this time has been work with internet technologies, whether applied to an application used internally by employees, or in secure Extranet and public Internet sites. Application of such technologies in project work has led me to apply my talents to the following areas: Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 – the latest...

posted @ Sunday, April 12, 2009 5:33 PM | Feedback (0)
Yay - got ecto hooked up to Twitter

Getting organised, now have ecto on my Mac hooked up to Twitter, and Live Writer on my windows machines hooked up too. Twitter, Blogging

posted @ Sunday, April 12, 2009 1:19 PM | Feedback (0)
Meanwhile over on twitter

alistairl is also available on twitter :)

posted @ Sunday, February 15, 2009 2:14 PM | Feedback (0)
Back on the mend

Mmm, bit of a write off week. Didn't feel well after the bike club committee meeting, then off work and noticed one of my ears had swollen up a bit. Then persuaded by Mrs AlistairL to phone the Doctor, got an emergency appointment, and a slightly worried looking Doctor gave me a pile of antibiotics (didn't think they gave them out anymore) and also told to watch if the symptoms got worse. Thankfully the symptoms responded to the antibiotics, I didn't need to go hospital as a result, which was a good thing in my opinion. Now to finish the antibiotics...

posted @ Sunday, January 25, 2009 11:41 PM | Feedback (0)
Product Review - Maplin Rechargeable Mobile Power Pack

I've been thinking about blogging up some of my favourite things and gadgets that I've found useful. The first of these was a purchase for my bike video kit. I bought the cheapest best value for recording kit to help with the motorcycle observing I do and wanted to avoid connecting anything of that to my bike, so I looked around at battery technologies. I got an email through from Maplin on their offers and one was a 2000 mah rechargeable mobile power pack that had been reduced by 50% to £9.99. It is charged by and charges from a mini-usb...

posted @ Friday, January 9, 2009 9:08 PM | Feedback (1)
Time machine with a normal NAS

I got a Qnap NAS a few months ago to store stuff on my network. Searching around I discovered a blog posting on how I could wire up time machine on my mac to back up to my NAS, without buying the very nice wireless time capsule that Apple make. It took a wee bit of jiggery pokery, and a good bit of knowledge of the NAS and a bit of tweaking on the mac, but it all works seamlessly now. Sorted.

posted @ Saturday, December 27, 2008 1:46 AM | Feedback (0)
Blogging with Live Writer and ecto

One great thing about upgrading to Subtext has been blogging client support. The first blog posting I made used Windows Live Writer, and the last few posts (including this one) have been from my Mac using ecto - brilliant :)

posted @ Saturday, December 27, 2008 1:37 AM | Feedback (0)
I'm an ESTP Type - A Doer

And picked up from another blog, someone has created a beta tool to analyse blogs. So I ran it, and from my writing style I am a doer. Active and playful and out a lot. I think that says a lot about when I blog most - when I feel my most extravert. Have a play with it :) - Typealyzer

posted @ Monday, December 15, 2008 12:28 AM | Feedback (1)
Youtube goes all widescreen

Just been on Youtube and wondered when it went widescreen, apparently a few days ago. I'll need to see if they do bullet cameras in widescreen so I can upgrade the video on my bike...

posted @ Thursday, November 27, 2008 10:36 PM | Feedback (0)
I think I will upgrade my blog software

I have been running with .Text blogging software since I got this hosting arrangement set up back in 2004. At the time development was quite active on it and it was an introduction for me to blogging, and on my platform of choice of .NET. Since then things have moved on and I have been looking to bring my software more up to date. Mainly to support more recent developments like blog writing tools that let you compile things offline. I've attempted the usual work arounds, like using notepad as an offline tool to draft posts, but it niggles me that...

posted @ Wednesday, October 29, 2008 8:06 AM | Feedback (3)
Further catchup with the world of AlistairL

I think I would be better off with Twitter than these summary posts, but such is. These will placeholder my life until I get my thoughts down in more detail: A week last Friday I took Mrs AlistairL out for a Fish Tea at the Tailend restaurant in Albert Place. Alegedly related to the management of the Anstruther place at one time, they managed to squeeze us in without a table booking and the fish and chips was excellent. The dining room is a bit small, so look it up in advance and book. Recommended. I had "fun" this week wrestling with...

posted @ Sunday, August 31, 2008 5:45 PM | Feedback (1)
Catchup with the world of AlistairL

I do these catchup posts from time to time, when I go through a period when I'm not in to keeping the blog up to date. Happenings include: Cat MkII. After keeping her resolution not to have another cat, two weeks after the departure of Cat MkI I accompanied Mrs AlistairL to Dalkeith to meet a little female kitten being fostered with her brother and mother by the Lothian Cat Protection folks. After an hour of play we departed with a little 12 week old black male kitten who is now called Luey. He plays most of the time he is...

posted @ Tuesday, August 12, 2008 1:04 PM | Feedback (1)
Identification and money laundering rant

Why is it, in this day and age when suppliers want us all to go paperless, that the same type of suppliers insist on a person providing a recent bank statement or utility bill to prove that you are who you are that lives at an address? They haven't thought it out....

posted @ Monday, July 14, 2008 7:51 PM | Feedback (0)
ZoneAlarm issue an update

Zonealarm have issued an update to the clash with the Windows XP Update mentioned in a previous post. It seems to work, but unfortunately it also means that Windows Security Centre can't see that ZoneAlarm is doing its firewall bit on my machine. So I still have to have something switched off to stop my PC nagging me.

posted @ Saturday, July 12, 2008 6:42 PM | Feedback (0)
ZoneAlarm Clashes with Windows Update

I've been rebooting and doing all sorts of things to my main desktop PC tonight, as certain services were not connecting to the internet. Turns out there is a clash between one of the updates in the recent Tuesday Microsoft XP Release and ZoneAlarm. I picked up the news message from CNet via google. Turns out KB951748 which corrected a dns exploit mucks up ZoneAlarm. The two companies are working it out, but it is not the first time that ZoneAlarm has stopped working on me due to an update of Office or Windows. Arrgh. The options for fixing it aren't...

posted @ Wednesday, July 9, 2008 10:07 PM | Feedback (2)
My Cat Died Today

My cat Perdy died today (well, I should say our - I found out my wife had acquired her more or less when she appeared in the house). She had been in decline for the last 12 months or so. We "inherited" her years ago from a young couple we know who were at the time starting a family, and Perdy's habit of sitting on everything was a bit too much for new parents. Her exact age was uncertain, though we reckon she was at least 16 years old. The last few months were the usual old age problems of not cleaning herself properly,...

posted @ Saturday, June 7, 2008 10:02 PM | Feedback (0)
Monitoring my ISP Stats - ADSL2+ fastpath 3dB profile

I'm beginning to play with this less as I settle on the highest throughput I can drag out of this old copper connecting me to the BT exchange a couple of miles away. What I will try to do in the coming days is match the time I run a speedtest to the stats on the router, the sets below are out of sync by about 15 hours. Speedtest latest says (picked one of the best from the recent goes): What is good is that you can see the drop in ping of around 10ms as a result of the removal of...

posted @ Friday, May 30, 2008 3:42 PM | Feedback (0)
Planning website for travelling in Edinburgh on foot

Mental title that, I was trying to come up with a short, snappy title to point at a website that shows you the best route for walking between two places in Edinburgh. Walkit.com is great for route planning when you aren't using public transport or a car. Google maps are fine if you are sticking to the roads, and traveline scotland is great for public transport, walkit fills the gap for a small number of cities in the uk. I'd decided I'd walk to Ocean terminal from the office for some exercise, and the directions were great for making sure I got there...

posted @ Friday, May 30, 2008 3:28 PM | Feedback (0)
Monitoring my ISP Stats - ADSL2+ fastpath

As I was getting good error stats on my long wire from the exchange, I asked to get interleaving switched off on my line - i.e. fastpath. So with nothing else apart from standard ADSL2+ and fastpath I get: And I get the following summary from my Netgear DG834PN ADSL Link Downstream Upstream Connection Speed 6100 kbps 1157 kbps Line Attenuation 48.0 db 24.7 db Noise Margin 6.1 db 6.4 db Assuming things stay stable (based on the advanced stats) I will go for a lower noise margin profile.

posted @ Wednesday, May 28, 2008 9:24 AM | Feedback (0)
Monitoring my ISP Stats - playing around

I tried to make myself not do it, but I've spent the last week playing around with settings on my router and configuration profile settings with my new ISP to wring the most I can out of my internet link. The fastest I have managed so far is shown here: The sad thing is is that I've been playing with settings so much that I can't remember exactly what the settings are that produced that result. That said though, the one thing I am sure of is that I have now switched to the Be Unlimited (or Be Home) package as the...

posted @ Monday, May 26, 2008 5:02 PM | Feedback (2)
Monitoring my ISP Stats - Demon FUP Cap in action

Had enough so kicked a couple of bittorrent downloads into action and crashed against my 60Gb limit for the rolling 30 days, so I'm now capped to 128k during the day - a slight difference in speed: Although 128k is the figure Demon quote, you get an illustration above of the congestion on these speed tester sites. Either that or the kids and my proxy server are using bandwidth. Line stats are much the same as before: ADSL Link Downstream Upstream Connection Speed 5856 kbps 448 kbps Line Attenuation 42.0 db 22.0 db Noise Margin 9.4 db 22.0 db

posted @ Monday, May 19, 2008 7:12 PM | Feedback (2)
Me and networks sometimes don't get on - wifi channels

Well, a few hours after that post about changing wifi channel numbers and I have learned a little more than I expected about WiFi configuration. Turns out that changing the channel number made a big difference to a particular machine on my network, my desktop PC. The other machines were happy following the wifi around the different channels, but my Dell 5000 (with exactly the same card and drivers as the old Dell 4100) would only work on Channels 1,7,8,9,10,11,12 and 13. As you can guess I was working my way through the channels in sequential order and that big gap...

posted @ Sunday, May 18, 2008 7:42 PM | Feedback (0)
WiFi Survey

While I'm on the topic of networks and the like, I have been reading over the Be Unlimited user forums and someone mentioned clashing wifi channels. I'd thought I was ok as my router does rangemax stuff to adjust and frankly throughput has been fine. It got me to check though, as I've seen the problem at work when our wifi channels clash with wifi networks in the building and houses around us. I had a look in windows xp but it didn't tell me much about the other wifi network it could see. So I turned back to an old...

posted @ Sunday, May 18, 2008 3:43 PM | Feedback (0)
Monitoring my ISP Stats

I mentioned previously that I'm switching from Demon Internet to Be Unlimited. Speed claims are great, but it is really the unlimited aspect I am going for. With more folk on my network and me playing with new toys, there will be a risk in the future that I would hit Demon Internet's Fair Usage Policy limit again and I can't be bothered network shaping. Anyway, in the last few days I have been monitoring the stats on my Demon connection so that I can get a comparison after the switch. I've been given Tuesday 20th May as the activation date,...

posted @ Sunday, May 18, 2008 12:14 PM | Feedback (0)
Contact lense visit to Boots Today

Went to boots for a contact lense eye test today. Apparently I'm supposed to get my eyes checked with contact lenses annually but the last time I got them looked at was about two years ago at my last eye test. I'm not on their direct debit scheme because I only wear them on the motorbike, and that isn't every day of the week. As I have astigmatism it was a bit complicated last time and the prescription didn't quite match but things have moved on in the last two years and the new set they have given me to try are...

posted @ Saturday, May 17, 2008 10:27 PM | Feedback (0)
Did I mention my Mac ? I don't believe I did

I'm the proud owner of a Powerbook G4, bought second hand from Colin at work who was upgrading to a bigger better mac, which was due to Raj at work upgrading to one of those thin Macbook air thingies. Just watch me slide into wearing a beret, growing my goatee back and being known as Gustav (check dilbert)

posted @ Thursday, May 15, 2008 9:58 PM | Feedback (0)
It finally looks like I will be switching from Demon Internet

I've been a bit of a boring fart and stuck with the same Internet Service Provider since I first got a dialup account about a decade ago. Since then Demon Internet grew up, got bought by Thus, chucked away the infrastructure they had established. Got broadband, etc etc. But their speeds haven't been great and I was on their best consumer product with no way of buying my way out of it with them. Knowing folks with cable just rubs salt in the wounds of speed. And then I got a new server toy and downloaded loads and started getting emails...

posted @ Sunday, May 11, 2008 5:04 PM | Feedback (0)
Fed up with congestion? Buy yourself out of the problem

I read an article about CAFE with interest, they are in the business of promoting personal fuel-efficient flight. I think they are right that anyone who has the option of sitting in a queue of cars or up free in the air would choose the latter, but the point I think they miss is that the ground is so congested because there are so many people wanting to get somewhere, who all have the money to have their own vehicle. Over a hundred years or so ago a few people had cars and frankly the only thing to get in the way...

posted @ Wednesday, May 7, 2008 12:21 PM | Feedback (0)
DVLA Hanging out at the Hermiston Park and Ride

I've been off for a couple of days to get a bit of a break from work pressures, and had a day out with my wife in Edinburgh. To save fuel and parking costs etc, I parked up at the Hermiston Park and Ride on the outskirts of Edinburgh and got the bus in. Coming back at 6pm we were walking back to the car and I noticed a wheel clamped Fiat, a bit of an unusual sight - the car park is free and well out of the city centre. But there it was in big letters - DVLA,...

posted @ Tuesday, April 29, 2008 7:16 PM | Feedback (0)
The Truth about IT Consultants

A Cringely article on IT Consultants, oh dear - more than a grain of truth.

posted @ Friday, April 18, 2008 8:42 PM | Feedback (0)
First Aid MP3s

Again, Via Kevin from Survival Skills, he has posted a link to a page with mp3s for a few first aid situations, produced by the South East Ambulance Service. More relevant to those of you who already have First Aid qualification, but a wee reminder to the rest of us to go out and do a course.

posted @ Wednesday, March 26, 2008 10:45 PM | Feedback (0)
Passed my IAM Car Test

Pass my IAM Car test today - woohoo! Those in the know will know that technically I have been recommended for membership of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, but I think you all know what I mean. Thanks to Colin Lawrence-Waterhouse of Edinburgh IAM for being my Observer, and thanks to J McBirnie for spending some of his day off sitting in my car watching my driving. I had a good drive and I am chuffed. Route was: Out of the services to the small roundabout and turn right onto the B6145 towards the roundabout. Turn left off the roundabout onto the slip road for...

posted @ Wednesday, March 12, 2008 10:39 PM | Feedback (0)
Anniversary Weekend

It was my 11th Wedding Anniversary at the weekend, so the wife and I had a couple of days away in a Holiday Inn Express. The weekend started with a meal for us and the kids at Chenzo's in Uphall, which is a bit of a family tradition. Then the Scottish Motorcycle Show on Saturday morning. This was fun as I had been swapping emails with a company that does custom ear plugs, and as I had recently fitted the Autocom headset to my helmet, I was told to get a "lid-on" impression. This means they let the moulds set while wearing...

posted @ Monday, March 10, 2008 9:40 PM | Feedback (0)
Heard again from the IAM Examiner and!!

The IAM examiner that has my test called back and I have some provisional dates to pick from in March. Superb - I'm looking forward to giving the IAM car test a good go!

posted @ Tuesday, February 26, 2008 9:47 PM | Feedback (0)
Orange SPV M600 and personalisation on Orange World

I've had an Orange SPV M600 for a while now, and I think it is excellent. I even have TomTom installed and with my bluetooth GPS it works a treat in telling me where to go. One thing that this phone didn't do too well was pick up my personalisation stuff for Orange World. Orange World is a set of mobile type pages with stuff like ringtones and other rubbish stuff, but really usefull stuff like live train times. The one or two times I've been to South Queensferry to drop the bike off, the train times planner has been really...

posted @ Saturday, February 16, 2008 4:29 PM | Feedback (0)
Sunpig Surfaces

Martin (Sunpig) headed over to Holland last year, and since then his blog has been a bit quiet. Mrs Sunpig's blog gave hints of the shock to their system, so it was good to see Sunpig surface with a review of the year. It was Sunpig that got me into blogging, but was always more prolific than me. For me posts are a barometer of the life of AlistairL, when the conditions come together I blog. I was going to say it is when I'm confident and feeling more extrovert, but I don't think it is as simple as that. For the...

posted @ Friday, February 15, 2008 8:13 PM | Feedback (0)
Heard from the IAM Car Examiner, but...

Missed the call from the IAM Car Examiner on Tuesday evening, and he hasn't called back yet. Said he would, but didn't leave a number and withheld the number he called from. I hope he calls soon.

posted @ Friday, February 15, 2008 2:31 PM | Feedback (2)
Chased up my IAM Test this morning

You'll know from reading previous blog entries that I've been working away at achieving Car Membership of the Institute of Advanced Motorists. After a successful mock test last year my test application went in and I had a letter from the IAM on 23rd November saying my details had been passed on to an Examiner. My Observer warned me that there was quite a backlog of applications, so my test was unlikely to come through to the new year, but as is my wont I started chasing it last week. I spoke to a nice lady at IAM House in chiswick this...

posted @ Tuesday, January 8, 2008 8:25 AM | Feedback (0)
Latest IAM Observed Drive

I've lost track of how many Observed Drives I've had with Colin from Edinburgh IAM, I think it is up to double figures now. I'm still waiting to hear the results of my chase-up email to IAM House in Chiswick. Yesterday was a fun drive, we went out into the country for some twisties, and actually encountered a National Speed Limit which was a pleasant change from the motorways and blanket 50mph limits around my area. Points to work on - don't cross 12 O'clock with my hand to get a big chunk when steering - I should really slow down instead,...

posted @ Monday, January 7, 2008 4:43 PM | Feedback (1)
Latest on the IAM Car

I posted after every observed run on the bike, whereas I haven't said very much about the car! I suppose it doesn't get me in the same way as going out on the bike. Anyhoo, I'm still waiting to hear from the examiner despite hearing at the end of November that they'd been notified by the IAM. I had a demonstration drive from the Senior Observer who did my mock test, to explain one or two of the points he was making. And I'm out with Colin my Car Observer tomorrow morning for another drive. Itching to take the car test, itching!

posted @ Saturday, January 5, 2008 9:10 PM | Feedback (0)
Second go at getting service kit - Rant

With the non-arrival of the service kit I ordered for my motorbike (posted out on the 11th December), I phoned Sherlocks and they are going to put a claim in for the missing parcel. Because non-delivery has happened before, they refuse to send to my address now, so I've arranged for it to be delivered to work. Thank goodness I work in an office where I can do this, otherwise I'd be scuppered. As I mentioned in my previous post, I've had a number of items get returned to sender - either quickly or slowly, with no explanation as to the reason....

posted @ Saturday, January 5, 2008 8:53 PM | Feedback (1)
Royal Mail send parcels back

It doesn't happen all of the time, and just applies to parcels, but I've had another eBay parcel go straight back to the seller without any attempt at telling me that the Royal Mail tried to deliver it. And not just eBay stuff, but the service kit I need for my R1100RS motorbike has also gone awol. It was posted on the 11th December, and here I am on the 21st trying to find out what on earth is going on. This probably means I won't be able to get the bike serviced until the new year - either the thing...

posted @ Thursday, December 20, 2007 11:31 PM | Feedback (1)
Fitted replacement motherboard in my Dell Dimension 5000

Courier duly handed over the replacement motherboard today, and took away the faulty one. The board is marked as refurbished, but looked less dusty than the one that went away. I took it carefully, putting it in, connecting power only (3 power related connectors) and then fired it up. So far so good. Then memory etc. Beeped away. Then all the various connectors, and the old and original graphics card. Booted up fine and I checked the BIOS - interestingly the asset tags common to Dell systems where absent. No mention of XP reactivation - woohoo. Then removed the graphics drivers, rebooted, shut down,...

posted @ Thursday, December 20, 2007 11:14 PM | Feedback (2)
Motherboard goes ping on my Dell Dimension 5000

Shortly after a graphics card upgrade last night, I ran up Windows and then the blue screen of death and my pc wouldn't start up. Then it slowly got worse until it appeared that the motherboard had given up the ghost. I got on to the folks at Dell and I have a replacement Motherboard on the way. First time I've had a big problem with my old Dimension 5000, and I've upgraded and replaced bits over the years with no problem. Now I've got the Motherboard to replace. Eek.

posted @ Wednesday, December 19, 2007 12:36 PM | Feedback (1)
Car Cambelt Replacement

I've just been tidying through the mass of junkmail and circulars that pile up on the cabinet in our hall and spotted one from the Volkswagen Dealer where I get my Passat serviced. Apparently it is of an age that it needs it's cambelt replaced. I got a huge bill for my last Passat to get the cambelt changed, and hoped I would have moved on to another car before the one I have needed its replaced. Drat. I'm in a huff now.

posted @ Wednesday, December 12, 2007 8:01 PM | Feedback (0)
5.1 Sound settings fun

My old Dell Dimension 5000 has sound on the motherboard and about 4 or 5 connections coming out. I think this means it does surround sound, certainly the multitude of connections from my Speedlink Medusa Progamer headphones all have somewhere to go. I've been wondering what has happened to the sound quality on a particular game I play - it used to sound quite good on the headphones, and the vibrate function used to come in at certain times and it all worked fine in the previous version of the game. But recently it was just coming through on the front...

posted @ Friday, December 7, 2007 7:22 AM | Feedback (0)
Notbeer Review

Due to some problems I had with my pancreas a few years back (bile duct blocked by gall stones), I'm not really able to stomach alcohol, which is a bit of a disappointment to me. So from time to time I evaluate what I call "Not Beer" which is processed beer with the alcohol removed. Kaliber used to be the only one around, but recently Becks Non-Alcoholic has appeared in shops. In a recent visit to our local Asda-Walmart in Livingston I purchased a couple of different options, this time in the low-alcohol bracket. I got some Clausthaler and also Stella low...

posted @ Tuesday, December 4, 2007 10:33 PM | Feedback (0)
Tomtom POI Loading and multiple maps

I run Tomtom Navigator 6 on my Orange SPV M600, and with a bluetooh GPS bought off ebay for cheap pounds it does the business of route finding albeit the wee processor in the M600 can lag a bit at times. I took advantage of a recent offer and got newer maps, but have been fighting with missing POI information that wasn't appearing on my new maps. It turns out that around about the first download it records which maps to download too then continues doing so. Add a new map and it continues to download to the original. What I...

posted @ Tuesday, December 4, 2007 9:05 PM | Feedback (0)
Another Observed Drive towards my IAM Car test today

I was out with Colin my Observer from Edinburgh IAM for my first observed drive since my mock test the other Sunday. He'd discussed my drive with the Senior Observer who took my mock test and overall they were pleased. As Colin said, it can sound like a drive was dreadful, but the point with the groups system is that you don't get "trained" per se, but the progress is once of Observation and points to work on. As I said about my mock test, it is important to understand this as it can sound like nothing is going right when...

posted @ Sunday, December 2, 2007 9:06 PM | Feedback (0)
IAM Car Test Letter arrived from the IAM today

Had the letter through the post today saying a local examiner had been notified that I want to take an advanced test and that they would be in touch in the coming weeks. Much as tests scare me, it will be good to do it.

posted @ Tuesday, November 27, 2007 8:50 PM | Feedback (1)
Mock IAM Car Test

Just did my mock test for my Car IAM. The Institute of Advanced Motorists are set up to carry out advanced tests, and local voluntary groups make arrangements to help prepare folks to test standard. Part of the quality control of this in local groups is for Senior Observers to run through a mock test with the potential candidate to put them through the conditions of the test, sometimes the driving isn't the problem - it's the test itself. I went through mine this morning with a Senior Observer from Edinburgh IAM who also happens to be a biker, which could be...

posted @ Sunday, November 18, 2007 11:20 AM | Feedback (0)
The Gym

I'm still a bit wary about blogging stuff about going to the gym, it is still a bit of a 50/50 experience for me and it is like I am on the verge of stopping each time, but.. I progressed to the last column on my wee progress chart yesterday. Admittedly I had a gap of over four weeks in the middle, but Tony had written "10" in one of the settings in the last column to give me a target to work to. So having been going at the exercise machines on their setting 9 for the last couple of...

posted @ Saturday, November 10, 2007 10:00 PM | Feedback (1)
Roundup of November 2007 so far

Things have been incredibly busy at work, I've got a project overrunning into another project that is starting, not ideal but the juggle should settle down soon. Both projects are really interesting in their own ways. The advanced driving continues apace, after a bit of a lull waiting for the final stages to happen I'm now confirmed for my independent assessment in the group on 18th November, which is the equivalent of a mock test. In preparation I had a catch up Observed drive with my observer Colin on Monday evening. Generally ok, though I've been advised that I don't need...

posted @ Saturday, November 10, 2007 8:30 PM | Feedback (0)
Dogs in Hats and Cats in Bomber Jackets

We had our annual visit to the vet last weekend, ever since we inhertited Perdy the fat cat years ago we've taken her along each year to get her booster jag for some feline disease. It's something needed if they ever go in to a cattery, something we've only ever done once in the time she's been with us. This is mainly because I think we've never been away on holiday for years. The vet takes it as an opportunity to check her over and this year she had a bit of a problem with her teeth. Knowing the nightmare it...

posted @ Saturday, November 10, 2007 8:25 PM | Feedback (0)
Gadget - iGo Stowaway Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Keyboard

I was looking around at the ultra-portable PC market when I stumbled across a special offer on the iGo Stowaway Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Keyboard. This is a wireless keyboard that can connect to my Orange SPV M600 by bluetooth. As my phone comes with Windows Mobile 5 and has the mobile office stuff, I saw great opportunity for writing longer emails and little documents too. I ordered it from Expansys and due to the recent Industrial Action at the Royal Mail, it took a few days to arrive. Once paired up with my phone it worked ok, but I had a few...

posted @ Thursday, October 25, 2007 6:56 AM | Feedback (2)
Back on the Exercise Wagon

I'm not superstitious or believe in fate, but when I got back to the gym (eventually) this morning I didn't quite realise how many weeks it had been since I was last at Leith Victoria. My progress card's last entry was the 19th of September, almost immediately after my "I've been going to the gym post". I don't think it is Murphy's or Sod's law that declares that publicity about anything improves the liklihood of screw up, but shortly after that post I got a cold, it hit my chest, and a few weeks of coughing later I'm just back to...

posted @ Wednesday, October 17, 2007 12:28 PM | Feedback (0)
Advanced Drive 6

Out today for another observed drive, which went well again. Some points to work on are similar to habits on the bike, improve planning, slow down approach to hazards etc. Some things are specific to the car, like remembering to use the left hand mirror enough, and positioning in to the left for right handers. For some reason I have more of a habit of apexing corners in the car, perhaps a habit borne of the Passat SE's softer suspension.

posted @ Saturday, October 6, 2007 4:55 PM | Feedback (0)
I've been going to the gym

This post is as much for me as it is for you lot, but if you read these posts you may already have that suspicion about many of my posts. With a switch in my working arrangements back to our offices in Leith, I restarted a regular habit of mine and started going to Leith Victoria every other morning. My plan has been to go three times a week before work, and didn't post here until I was regular. I started in June and I've pretty much managed to keep going. I used to go swimming, but decided their gym would be better for...

posted @ Tuesday, September 18, 2007 6:22 AM | Feedback (2)
Colin McRae

I've been watching the story about this unfolding on the web. First there was a report of a helicopter crashing near Colin McRae's house in Lanark, then reports of a helicopter registered to him crashing, then confirmation that Colin McRae, his 5 year old son Johnny, Johnny's 6 year old pal Ben Porcelli and Colin's pal Graeme Duncan had all been killed in a crash at 16:05 yesterday (Saturday 16th September 2007). It happened while I was having a wind-buffetted ride home from the Scottish IAM Motorcycle Forum in Perth. Rallying has always been a big tradition in Scotland, going back...

posted @ Monday, September 17, 2007 12:42 PM | Feedback (0)
Advanced Drive 1-4

I just had my fourth drive with Observer Colin from Edinburgh Advanced Motorists. The Institute of Advanced Motorists existed at first to train and test Advanced Car Drivers and the other categories, such as motorcycles, followed later through the years as the need became apparent. Edinburgh IAM are separate to EDAM, the car group spun off the Motorcycle group a number of years ago and both groups have grown to be two of the biggest voluntary road safety organisations in Scotland, with hundreds of full members (i.e. those who have passed the advanced test in the relevant class) in both groups. There...

posted @ Wednesday, September 12, 2007 8:44 PM | Feedback (0)
What's been happening in the land of AlistairL?

A bit of a gap in posts, so it is time for a catch up. I'll post separately on Advanced Driving and work and other things, but I've been on holiday and generally wiling away my hours doing nothing much in the warm weather.

posted @ Wednesday, September 12, 2007 8:21 PM | Feedback (0)
Le Weekend

Had a relatively quiet weekend, I'm really looking forward to my upcoming holiday. On Saturday I popped in to town to assist a bit with some EDAM stuff, so I took the bike in - which was fun :) And on Sunday I went along to the introductory session for the Autumn course with Edinburgh Advanced Motorists. It was interesting to see the mix in attendees, around 20 with a number of different ages, and a few women too! We had a presentation, a video, a demonstration run in an observer's car, then another final presentation before we got our cheque books...

posted @ Sunday, August 12, 2007 9:35 PM | Feedback (0)
Jonathan Blair Again - Linked in

I was amused to spot the name of our favourite celebrity MCSD.NET, Jonathan Blair, on Linkedin today, through a connection of a connection I notice he works for Microsoft now.

posted @ Sunday, July 22, 2007 6:34 PM | Feedback (0)
2007 Evening Class programme at Borders College

Just had a brochure through the post from Borders College, listing out their evening class programme for September 2007. There is a range of classes at their places in the Borders, from the Know Your Motorcycle course which I did earlier in the year to Belly dancing. Another one that looks really interesting is mountain bike maintenance at Glentress - I know quite a few folks that go down there to use the trails.

posted @ Saturday, July 21, 2007 6:26 PM | Feedback (0)
Advanced Motoring - the next chapter

Either I'm a badge collector, or I really value road safety (or I'm a glutton for punishment), but I've registered to go along to the introduction session for the last course of the year with Edinburgh Advanced Motorists. I'm hoping to benefit my car driving (obviously) but mainly my bike riding by learning how to do a proper commentary which will hopefully improve my observing even more for the motorbike. I'm going to bite the bullet and get the clutch replaced on the R1100RS which should improve my confidence no end for overtakes and other accelleration situations. The fact it slips in...

posted @ Thursday, July 19, 2007 10:32 PM | Feedback (0)
Server fun

Apologies if you see error messages over the next few weeks, for some reason the existing platform threw a bit of a wobbly yesterday. I suspect it might again while I consider the upgrade.

posted @ Wednesday, July 18, 2007 8:14 AM | Feedback (0)
Subtext almost but not quite upgrade

Tried an upgrade to subtext last night, but it didn't work and I wasn't getting enough diagnostic information back to lead me on a troubleshooting path. Like a few of these things, the instructions are great if you have access to the box admin (terminal services etc) but I'm on a cheapy shared hosting arrangement and this puts a web UI in front of a lot of the admin stuff. I've not given up though, I just can't be bothered spending all the time fixing it at the moment. But I like the idea of subtext so much that I'll be giving...

posted @ Monday, July 16, 2007 10:33 AM | Feedback (0)
New server fun

My hosting provider has just switched web and database servers, so for the first time in about 3 years or so I had to change some settings. Needless to say there were two connection strings in the web config, and I only changed one of them (yes - the first one I found). But cheers to WilliamW for spotting the blog was barfing and letting everyone know the database login account it uses to connect to the database - oops :).

posted @ Wednesday, July 11, 2007 9:33 PM | Feedback (0)
Roadsafe 2007 - Piccies

Made it a long to Roadsafe 2007 at Cumbria Racecourse. Similar to last year, the live band were good - kept the rest of the family happy. There were slightly less police vehicles, which was a shame. There were more clubs with custom bikes etc. And a few more car clubs. The Blades, an aerobatic display team were amazing - either I forgot how good they were, or they have got better since last year. Check the gallery for some piccies.

posted @ Sunday, June 24, 2007 6:53 PM | Feedback (0)
Roadsafe 2007

I'm off to Carlisle Racecourse tomorrow to go to Roadsafe 2007. This is a road safety event run by Cumbria police - I just go to look at the police motorcycles and cars. Thankfully there are live bands and other things to keep the rest of the family amused. The weather was excellent last year, but there is lots of rain about at the moment so I'm hoping it will be ok.

posted @ Saturday, June 23, 2007 12:06 PM | 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...

posted @ Wednesday, May 30, 2007 11:55 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)
Tenth Anniversary, The Scottish Motorcycle Show

The Scottish Motorcycle Show falls within the week of our Wedding Anniversary each year, so I usually work to combine both by going to the show during the day then going out for a family meal in the evening. Being as it is our tenth this year, I booked a few days away for myself and Mrs AlistairL. Believe it or not we honeymooned all those years ago in Glasgow, so we returned again, albeit to a different hotel. I booked up a Junior Suite at a hotel about 50 yards from Sauchiehall Street and had a great few days. We...

posted @ Sunday, March 11, 2007 5:57 PM | Feedback (1)
Broadband tweaking and monitoring

I used a couple of sites a few months ago to tune my connection, and it helped the download/upload performance of my adsl connection in the house. The overall picture is described on the max dsl diagnostics page. On there I use DSLzoneuk to monitor performance from a uk based site, but I use dslreports in the US to check tweak settings. Usual caveats apply - not my fault if you break something by changing it as a result of this posting..

posted @ Friday, March 2, 2007 9:42 PM | Feedback (0)
Random Purchases

Apart from a whole pile of books, I have purchased: A Tony Hawks Helmet Camera - why o why did buy that. Low Resolution, bad low light handling, but has a laser pointer. Head mounted laser pointers are useful for Locutus impressions, and for giving the cat a moving red dot to watch. If you are thinking of such a gadget, go for the much better Oregon Scientific ATC-2000, or consider a proper solid state setup. A Mike Waite Advanced Motorcyling DVD - ouch, that is fast riding, police speed application of the roadcraft system. Ride Like a Pro IV DVD...

posted @ Wednesday, February 28, 2007 7:12 PM | Feedback (0)
This time of year and viruses

According to two of the Doctors at our local surgery, "There is a lot of it about". Ok, I may have paraphrased it a little, but you get the gist of the effect. I'm just back to work after three weeks of a virus that got me, and ended up with Bronchitis in the bargain. Endless coughing, associated pain and feeling ill - yeuch. I got a bit of a fright after the Doctor examined me, "It's not pneumonia, thankfully", and I’d only got as far as Bronchitis (if that is a bonus) and got a...

posted @ Thursday, February 15, 2007 11:36 PM | Feedback (0)
Snoring, what's your style

I didn't know there were different styles, but knowing which can help with sorting out the situation (as well as losing weight which is a contributory factor). Try the three wee exercises suggested by the british snoring website, and then figure out what will help if you happen to snore.

posted @ Wednesday, February 7, 2007 3:34 PM | Feedback (0)
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)
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...

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

Ok Kev, I now respond: 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. 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...

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:  

posted @ Friday, January 19, 2007 9:26 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)
Mini ITX Experiences

My little server has been running fanless for about a week now and is running reliably beside the router, tucked in a corner and casting an eerie blue light at night from the power switch. Just to review, the bits I used were: VIA EPIA 5000 Motherboard with Eden Processor (ebay) Morex 3677 Case (ebay) 40Gb Seagate Momentus 2.5" UATA Drive with 8Mb Cache (ebuyer) Sony Cr850e11 Slim Combo Black Optical Drive (ebuyer) 2 Kingston 256Mb PC133 memory modules - KVR133X64C3/256 (ebay) IDE lead I had hanging about. It took me about a day to build the thing, thinking back I haven't actually ever built a complete PC...

posted @ Friday, December 22, 2006 8:24 AM | Feedback (0)
Almost the holidays

Counting the hours to the festive break, then off for two weeks - excellent. The weather has turned a little bit more wintry, the autumnal wind and rain has abated, but this morning was surprisingly mild with no frost. I'm off to Dundee for the weekend with the family for a short break, taking advantage of a cheap rooms offer with Travelodge and that will kick nicely into the hols.

posted @ Friday, December 22, 2006 7:43 AM | Feedback (0)
Mini ITX PCs

Meanwhile, while the other work related stuff has been going on, I've been putting together the bits for a small form factor pc by scouring eBay for a motherboard, case etc. It is based around the VIA EPIA-5000 motherboard, a fanless design, I'm putting a 2.5 inch laptop drive to it and bought some cheap 512Mb RAM from EBuyer. I've got a Morex 3677 case on the way too, which is so small you can't fit a single pci card in it. The next bit will be running stuff on it, I'm thinking of building it as a server first, hanging...

posted @ Sunday, December 3, 2006 12:44 PM | Feedback (0)
Small PC

Wow, check out this small pc.

posted @ Monday, November 20, 2006 9:09 PM | Feedback (0)
Will it blend

I don't fly for a year, then I'm in Dublin for a day one week, and Halifax for a few days the next. And I'll be in Halifax for four days and London for one next week! Enough of that for the time being, if you've ever wondered if an item around the house can be put through a blender then check Will It Blend.

posted @ Saturday, November 4, 2006 11:30 AM | Feedback (0)
ActiveSync through USB to my Orange SPV M600

Now that I'm off the Business Analysis engagement, I'm in the process of getting my technical kit back up to scratch. With the option of avoiding GRPS for synchronisation, I've been trying to sync through USB to my desktop. Past experience with previous Microsoft Smart Phones means that I always synchronise straight to the Microsoft Exchange Server, whether or not I'm on some wireless network (WiFi or GRPS). The new version synchronises Tasks too, which is great for todo lists and the Getting Things Done methods. I'd had all sorts of hassle sychronising through USB, and worked through the various options of...

posted @ Friday, October 27, 2006 9:04 PM | Feedback (1)
Dobbin and the Knights of Cydonia

I've got my headphones on to drown out the background noise while I do my studying for 70-215 Administering old Windows Servers. I'm settling in to the excellent Muse Album Black Holes and Revelations, which has a track called "Knights of Cydonia". At the beginning are some ever so slightly dodgy cavalry samples, and I'm sure if you listen carefully you can hear the pantomine horse Dobbin from Rentaghost. Good to see it still gets some work as a session horse.

posted @ Sunday, October 22, 2006 4:24 PM | Feedback (0)
Passed 70-215 Today!

Passed 70-215 Administering Old Windows Servers this morning. Got 850, which was a pleasant surprise. A well broad spread of questions, including more on subnetting and routing than I expected. Expected stuff on UNIX was in there, and a total blinder on SNMP although I'd not covered much if at anything on it, the question looked simple. I think the pass makes me an MCDBA.

posted @ Thursday, October 12, 2006 1:37 PM | Feedback (1)
Hey Dude, where's my contact lense

Out on the bike today, so contact lenses in. Came to remove them a little while ago and could only find the one in my right eye, it was in the middle as usual. Couldn't see the one in my left eye. Thought that was a bit wierd. My eye was a little uncomfortable, a bit like hayfever, but localised in one place. So I moved my eye around and felt on my closed eyelid, slid it along and out popped a folded up contact lense. Yuk. At least all are now accounted for. I'm still getting used to the malarky of...

posted @ Sunday, October 8, 2006 4:53 PM | Feedback (0)
Spam email, yuk rant

Spam is a blight, I have to delete spam posts from the feedback on this blog, and I have spam control software on my email client. At the moment I'm getting hundreds of messages bouncing back to an email account on one of my domains because evidently someone out there has or is sending spam with a reply address which isn't their own. Now although I accept the logic of a screening function that challenges a particular email if detected as spam, and offers the sender the opportunity to take remedial action, I'm rather annoyed at the stupidity of some returns which...

posted @ Saturday, October 7, 2006 6:34 PM | Feedback (0)
Matching locks on a 1995 R1100RS Ignition, Panniers and Top box

Through the years, I knew I had made it when the car I drove had one key that worked all of the locks. Moving up the quality chain I was. When I got the bike, it had two keys on the keyring. I had an invoice which seemed to suggest the top box (the 33 litre BMW top box that also fits the RT, and the 1150 RS and RT) had been bought later. I even had a lock mechanism with the paperwork. Trying the keys out, the ignition key also undoes the seat and the two panniers. The other key...

posted @ Friday, September 29, 2006 10:41 PM | Feedback (0)
Fourth Ride to Advanced

I woke up on Sunday morning to pouring rain, which my waterproof clothing deals with admirably, but I hate the reduced visibility that steamed up visors bring. But if I never rode in rain I'd be stuck in a lot in Scotland, so I got on with it. I set off along the road and it was ok, with my helmet visor open on its lowest click to stop the steaming up. I tried breathing through my nose or mouth but it didn't seem to make much difference. I took the ride in on the A71 pretty gently, but it was...

posted @ Monday, September 25, 2006 8:52 PM | Feedback (3)
Third Ride to Advanced

If you've been following these posts you will know that I signed up for the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists / Motorcyclists) route to an Advance Motorcycle Test, a method that relies on the talents of local volunteers to check over your standard of riding. The terminology they use is that currently I am an "Associate", with Membership coming with a successful pass of the Advanced Test. Volunteers that help with the process are called Observers, and there are also Senior Observers and a Chief Observer who coordinates standards. Trainee Observers start by being Members, and work through the process of...

posted @ Sunday, September 17, 2006 10:12 PM | Feedback (0)
Driving theory test, free demo

To help with my learning of the highway code, I tried the free theory test online. Picked the motorcycle test and got 34 out of 35, which was encouraging. The one I got wrong? Bearing in mind that the theory test is for learners, I got the "what should you do if you break down in a tunnel", instead of picking the "put on the hazard lights and go for help" I picked something else. Small note - not very many motorcycles have hazard lights, mine does (being a big fat BMW) but your little DAS or CBT 125cc doesn't generally. And...

posted @ Thursday, September 14, 2006 9:36 PM | Feedback (0)
Comforting eye drops for contact lenses

A discovery I made recently when loitering around Boots the chemists waiting for my wife to buy stuff, was eye drops for contact lense wearers. And on today's results I think I can recommend them as an option if your eyes get a bit dry or irritated. Made all the difference to me, being an occaisional wearer. I guess they've always been around, I just hadn't know it.

posted @ Sunday, September 10, 2006 10:45 PM | Feedback (0)
What are the different kinds of controlled pedestrian crossings (birds)

So I'll use my blog to help me learn the stuff for my advanced test I thought. One question that came into my head this week followed a crash report on one of the Internet bike lists. They spoke about one of those crossings that has a green man, and a green bicycle. I couldn't remember if it was a Toucan or a Puffin that had that. So here goes, for me and you. Be quiet and listen :) All this stuff is online as well as in print, so you can check and see if I got it right. Well, to begin with,...

posted @ Sunday, September 10, 2006 9:50 PM | Feedback (0)
Second Ride to Advanced

Thankfully the weather turned out good today, though I was happier with my ride out last week. Today was limited due to holidays etc, and because of that there weren't enough Observers to do individual rides. So we all had a group run, which is basically a bimble along off somewhere into the country and back. I must admit to a bit of nervousness, I'm still pretty new to this lark, and I normally ride solo with noone else to bother about. I've also got a bit of an aversion to driving with other cars too, bothering about others rather than...

posted @ Sunday, September 10, 2006 9:32 PM | Feedback (0)
First ride on the way to the advanced test

Had my first meet up with the local IAM bike club this morning, I started out early, and promptly turned back at the next village. With the pouring rain I had rubbish visbility and my neck was getting a bit raw. So back to the house to spray a couple of coats of my Hein Gericke rainy visor stuff, and to zip the flappy bit on my jacket that goes around my neck to keep it out of the draft (or hooks round the front of my chin, but that just gets tangled up with the chin strap on my...

posted @ Sunday, September 3, 2006 9:53 PM | Feedback (0)
Bill Bailey Steampunk at the EICC

And the day after Watson's Wind Up we went to see Bill Bailey at the EICC on Saturday night. Twas good too, though he doesn't half wander up and down. I felt the urge to shout at him to stand still, but then he might think there was a sniper in the audience. Last time I was at the EICC was years ago, the first was for an MSDN event with Cedalion doing the regional director bit. And right enough, Bill Bailey kicked off by pretending he was doing a gig at a Computer Conference, oh how I laughed. Coolest new instrument...

posted @ Monday, August 21, 2006 11:10 PM | Feedback (0)
Watsons Wind Up Radio Recording

One of the items on my sometime/maybe list of things to do sometime in my life was to attend the recording of one of my favourite radio shows, Watson's Wind Up. Jonathan Watson is a Scottish comedian who specialises in impersonations of Scottish footballers, management and political figures. My kids might not have an interest in current affairs, but they know the impersonations of Cathy Jamieson, Tommy Sheridan and Chick Murray. The recording is made on the Friday of each week of their run, based on news stories in the Scottish Media and wider from the preceeding week. We took a...

posted @ Saturday, August 19, 2006 12:40 PM | Feedback (0)
Bikesafe assessment route

I did an assessed ride with Lothian and Borders police last Sunday under their part in the national Bikesafe scheme. Here is the route that the ride took: Started at Peebles Police Station (shared with the Court Buildings) in Rosetta Road, Peebles. Turned left out of the Police Station onto Rosetta Road. Followed road to the left (March Street) at no entry signs for the one way street (Young Street). Followed March Street past Somerfield, to Junction with Edinburgh Road (A703) and turned right. Followed Edinburgh Road to roundabout at Somerfield Petrol Station, and turned right into Eastgate. Follow straight on to...

posted @ Friday, August 4, 2006 10:26 PM | Feedback (0)
Bikesafe assessed Ride

Did my assessed ride this morning, which consists of a ride followed by a motorcycle policeman, then a ride with me following the policeman, then a little bit of the reverse again. Met up in Peebles, where the Police station has relocated, which I now know due to the map I bought at the petrol station. There were three of us on the Bikesafe run, with two motorcycle police from Lothian and Borders. The other two guys who arrived first (must have been because of the GPS on their bikes) went with one, I went with the other police bike. We...

posted @ Sunday, July 30, 2006 10:40 PM | Feedback (1)
Bikesafe Assessed Ride on Sunday

Got a call from Lothian and Borders Police to say they had a couple of slots on their BikeSafe assessed rides in the Borders, and even though I haven't done the theory bit, would I be available. So I'm off to Peebles Police Station for 09:30 on Sunday to get followed around the roads by a Policeman on a motorbike.

posted @ Friday, July 28, 2006 9:31 PM | Feedback (0)
My motorbike has an oil leak

In the olden days of British Motorbikes, oil leaks were a way of life. If you ever get to visit the Transport Museum in Glasgow, you'll also spot trays under the old cars to catch the odd drips that come with old engines. I don't remember leaks under the bikes they have, but I guess it depends whether they are runners and are oiled up. My daughter spotted a damp patch under the R1100RS on Friday, and right enough after a bit of checking on my hands and knees it looks like a small leak at the sump plug. I gave it...

posted @ Friday, July 21, 2006 11:31 PM | Feedback (1)
Motorbike Oil Leak Fixed

The thunderstorms locally have put paid to my plans to post a picture of this at the moment, but my oil leak is now hopefully fixed with a new sump plug and washer. My local bike fixing chap gave me the old plug and washer as a souvenir, the oem equipment BMW alloy washer was corroding and likely the culprit. I'll be watching to see if the new stainless bits do the job. Close up picture of old scabby corroded washer to follow in the gallery.

posted @ Sunday, July 2, 2006 5:35 PM | Feedback (0)
My new mobile phone is an Orange SPV M600

Somehow I managed to get of an Orange SPV M600, after someone else cancelled an upgrade at the company that supplied me. My number hasn't switched over yet, so I've satisfied myself by getting wifi working and my exchange contacts, tasks and emails sychronised. First learning point - entering a wpa-psk key into a pda device to get connected up is a pain. It took me all day and four attempts at entering the key to get it right. I almost comtemplated comprimising my home network security, but it worked in the end, and also with 802.11g. I'm really chuffed, and looking forward...

posted @ Sunday, July 2, 2006 5:28 PM | Feedback (2)
Scooby Doo Where are You?

Latest Subaru (Soo-barr-ooo / Scoo - bee - doo - geddit?) appears on Kev's Drive. Excellent News. There is something about a boxer engine running through loud pipes. Although I've actually always thought that the Mitsubishi Evo has a bit more over the Subaru in the looks stakes, the boxer engine used on Subaru's always wins me over. And Kev's car is a classic from the early cars that you can pick in Gran Turismo. Turbo's mean chips, and ready access to lots of power and potential for engine destruction :) Of course, my motorbike has a boxer engine too.

posted @ Sunday, July 2, 2006 5:14 PM | Feedback (0)
Getting things done

A post by Simon Guest on getting Outlook 2007 configured for Getting Things Done has put me on to the David Allen methodology of the same name. Using my doing it cheap methodology, I got the book for a few pounds from an amazon seller, and reading through it seems to resonate a lot with me. Appears to be a more developed version of what I try to do with email (when not overstretched) and is a lot more proactive than a todo list. I like it, but must do it. 

posted @ Sunday, June 18, 2006 10:44 PM | Feedback (0)
Windows 2000 Server local and AD users and groups

I'm just past the chapter in my exam book about groups and users, both local and Active Directory. The whole idea of users and groups is an old one for me, so not much new material. What was nice was the reminder of the extra information that Active Directory offers against user accounts, there is a whole pile of tabs to collect extra information that local user accounts don't even bother with. Led me to reminisce about the old days when I used to hit these things using the early versions of ADSI and that the earlier versions of Microsoft...

posted @ Thursday, June 1, 2006 10:15 PM | Feedback (0)
XP Home Edition Niggle, delayed application startup

I've had a niggling issue with my PC in the House, its a fairly decent spec Dell of just over a year old, 3GHz Intel P4 Hyperthreading thingie, with 1.5Gb RAM, SATA Drive, Nvidia 6600GT PCI Express etc. But for the last week and a bit it has had an annoying habit of being slow to fire things up. The applications are quick enough once they arrive, but the delay after double click, while it seems to think at length about what I've just asked was getting annoying. Then after a wait of a minute or less, the application suddenly appears...

posted @ Sunday, May 28, 2006 2:53 PM | Feedback (0)
The week in summary

This week has been a welcome mixed bag, the weather is picking up and the plants in the gardens have taken this as a signal to start growing. Our Silver Birch in the front garden is unfurling its leaves as we speak, and next door's beech hedge has done the same. Only downside is that the grass has woken up too, time to see if the lawn mower still works. Monday My Cousins and Aunt, originally from Derbyshire and now a mix of Derbyshire and South Yorkshire were up spending a week in a cottage in the Lake District, so we drove...

posted @ Saturday, May 6, 2006 12:23 PM | Feedback (0)
ARCast and my Creative Zen Nano Plus

Since I got some money for a wedding anniversary present, I've been trying to decide what to buy. Settled on a Creative Zen Nano Plus - has 1Gb of memory and does protected wma files which is what I have most of my music on. Oh, and I got it in black of course, and bought a pair of black earphones. 1Gb demands a bit of thought in choosing tracks - it isn't enough for arbitrary selection from my tracks, so I decided to go for a balance of music, bits of classical (Beethoven and Saint-Saens), bit of modern rock (Evanescence,...

posted @ Sunday, April 30, 2006 9:09 PM | Feedback (1)
Bobbin goes ping

Noticed something a little unusual when washing the bike after a ride last Sunday, one of the bobbins on the offside front disc was a little bit out of line compared to the others. Taking a proper look at it showed it was looking a lot more worn that the others. Turns out that the E-Clip that holds it on was missing, as was the washer from the back and it was working its way loose. Drat. Ordered up a couple to allow for me bodging the job and the parts arrived on Thursday. Was going to post pictures of the process, then...

posted @ Sunday, April 30, 2006 6:33 PM | Feedback (0)
Scottish Motorcycle Show 2006

I was in two minds whether to go to the show this year, the decision to go is an annual event that precedes the thing itself in March. The cost of £12 is one element, if we go as a family it means me forking out £48 before buying stuff at the show to feed everyone and perhaps even buy some sort of biking "bargain" from one of the stands. And this time I have a bike, so my interest has changed somewhat. The compromise this time was that just the two of us went, leaving the kids at home,...

posted @ Friday, April 7, 2006 12:55 PM | Feedback (0)
Scottish Motorcycle Show 2006 Precis

Went to the Scottish Motorcycle Show with Rona today, really cold outside, summary of the bmw stand posted elsewhere, bmw stand pictures posted on the blog. Blethered to Joe Duffin on the LMTS stand. Rest of my thoughts on the show to follow soon.

posted @ Saturday, March 11, 2006 11:23 PM | Feedback (0)
Bobbins, Bearings and Snow

When I had my motorbike serviced in November, the chap working on it noted that the paralever bearings and brake bobbins were wearing and needed replacement. The bobbins are quite obvious to see, they are round pieces of metal that go between the outer bit of the brake disc (the bit that the pads work on) and an inner disc that connects to the wheel. The R1100RS has two discs at the front, and each disc has 12 bobbins. I think the idea is to do with the so-called "floating" disc setup. The bobbins allow lateral movement of the disc, sideways...

posted @ Saturday, March 4, 2006 8:28 PM | Feedback (0)
Annoyed at blog software

I'm annoyed, the longer version of the previous post that I even made an attempt at proof reading, disappeared in a stack error. Almost as annoying as the olden days when I had no way of saving the programs I had written on my Mattell Acquarius. The futility of writing a program only to turn the power off and lose three hours of coding effort.

posted @ Friday, March 3, 2006 7:20 PM | Feedback (0)
Bike and snow

Just rode home and my street has snow on it. That was scary.

posted @ Friday, March 3, 2006 6:37 PM | Feedback (0)
Bikey weekend fun

It's been a couple of weeks since I was out on the Bike, so dispite the rain on Saturday I headed out for a wee run. It was the first time I've been out in falling rain, and with my new BMW Helmet, so a couple of new experiences. The rain wasn't a problem, but rain all over the visor doesn't help visibility, but I got used to it. The RS doesn't have a big screen, so once the speed gets up the drops of water just divide in the air flowing round the helmet. The wet weather wasn't a major...

posted @ Monday, February 27, 2006 10:42 PM | Feedback (0)
More family weekend stuff

My mum and dad have their Ruby Wedding Anniversary coming up shortly, but being the organised people they are have arranged to be out of the country in Italy on the precise date. So my brother and I treated them and the rest of us to a meal at the Plough Inn, in Star of Markinch in Fife. And nice it was too, I had to stay up late on Saturday to let my food go down :) It was good to get the Laings together.

posted @ Monday, February 27, 2006 10:19 PM | Feedback (0)
Family Weekend

It occurred to me when reading over my previous post that I managed to completely miss out my wife, Rona. I've a deliberate policy of not mentioning the names of my wife and two kids due to hassles they've had in the past with their old dad. Sadly, the post makes it sound a bit like it was just me and the kids, and not me with Rona and the kids. The long weekend has been a good one, and I managed to see everyone in our family over the weekend. I popped in for coffee with my Mum and Dad Laing in Glenrothes on...

posted @ Monday, February 13, 2006 9:53 PM | Feedback (0)
Long weekend

I took Friday and Monday as a holiday to try and chill out. Work has been getting to me recently, and frankly it sucks. So the time off has been an opportunity to remind me of the things I care about, to smile and to enjoy myself. I took the bike over to Fife on Friday morning, to pop in and place an order at a clothing company and to see my Mum & Dad. Way back in November I ordered an overjacket called a Bikesafe Jacket, and supply problems led to me getting a refund from the intermediate company in...

posted @ Sunday, February 12, 2006 8:06 PM | Feedback (2)
Catch up, contact lenses and bikes

I was back at the opticians on Friday, for a followup. What I had expected to be 10 minutes turned out to be a bit longer, with a good check made with the lenses, and the condition of my eyes. Thankfully I'd anticipated things by taking my glasses, which I needed after the process. I was quite impressed by the thoroughness of things and the last stage involved a very small quantity of yellow dye in each eye. The result of the process was identification of a wee problem with my eye lashes, so I've got to treat them each day...

posted @ Monday, February 6, 2006 10:14 PM | Feedback (0)
Contact Lenses, my experience so far

I was at Boots Opticians on Princes Street on Friday to get my lesson in putting contact lenses in and taking them out. I'm benefitting from recent developments in toric lenses to have daily contact lenses. This suits me fine as my plan is to use my glasses most of the time, with the lenses to make life easier on the motorbike. The other option of monthly disposables would have been a bit of a waste. The session at Boots consisted of putting lenses in, taking them out, then doing the same another couple of times. A bit easier than normal...

posted @ Sunday, January 29, 2006 7:19 PM | Feedback (0)
High Visibility overjacket

Before my "lesson" on Saturday I popped over to arco in Linlithgow. It was the opportunity for a bit of practice, and I was after a dayglo / reflective vest or similar to go over my bike jacket. I'd ordered a quality jacket at the beginning of November, but supply problems meant a refund last week. In the meantime I ordered a cheap one over the internet, but to my dismay xxl wasn't big enough :( A search around the web found arco, who supply all manner of workwear, from the usual boots and jackets to knee pads and other worky stuff....

posted @ Thursday, January 26, 2006 10:36 PM | Feedback (0)
Motorcycle riding assessment

Had my ride out with Joe from Lothian Motorcycle Training yesterday, two hours riding with a bit either side to prepare and go through what happened. I got the radio on, so I could hear the instructions for where to go, then out to the bikes.We started out with the preride check, giving the bike a once over to check everything was safely attached, no fluid leaks etc. Then off through Bathgate, through the centre, back out again, looping around to dual carriageway etc, then some country roads too. Quite a mix of roads. Joe rides following on his bike, giving...

posted @ Wednesday, January 25, 2006 6:06 PM | Feedback (0)
Contact Lens Trial

I started wearing glasses about three years after leaving school, I blame all that close up work at the Accountants, or it could be staring at TV screens typing in all those basic programs in my youth. I followed up the reminder through the post to get an eye test, and was happy to find that my eyes have stayed much the same over the last two years or so. A couple of years ago I got prescription sunglasses for a change, this time I decided to try contact lenses. I've had real visibility problems with my spectacles steaming up under...

posted @ Sunday, January 22, 2006 8:27 PM | Feedback (0)
First steps back to motorbike training, January update

Having agreed to postpone my assessment in December due to snow, I got a call tonight from Joe of  Lothian Motorcycle Training to check whether I was still up for training. I said yes and I'm booked up for a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon. That'll be my nerves going again then. The last time I had someone look at my riding was my bike test in 1995, and similarly the last professional assessment of my driving was when I sat my car test in 1989. Of course I use the word professionally deliberately, I do get occasional comments on my driving from my nearest and...

posted @ Sunday, January 15, 2006 11:27 PM | Feedback (0)
First steps back to motorbike training, update

Snow stopped play, which was always a possibility at this time of year. I was out for an hour or two on my own yesterday, and the conditions were pretty baltic. It actually wasn't that bad riding in the cold weather, but the thermals add an extra layer which makes me feel like the michelin man, and even with all that my fingers started getting a bit numb. Cleaning the bike afterward wasn't that bad, at this time of year the salt tends to collect and harden on the bits of the exhaust but a bit of clean water got rid of that.

posted @ Wednesday, December 28, 2005 5:16 PM | Feedback (1)
Highway Code Sign of the Week

I bought myself a copy of the latest Highway Code to see what had changed over the years since I passed my bike test, and my car test before it. Things look good, apparently we are still supposed to drive on the left in this country, and green on a traffic light still means go. Like looking up rude words in a Dictionary, the traditional thing with the Highway Code is to find amusement in the Traffic signs section. My favourite has to be No Vehicles Carrying Explosives. Remember kids - if you are, and you see that sign - don't go...

posted @ Thursday, December 22, 2005 5:36 PM | Feedback (0)
Bathroom DIY

Why aren't walls straight? And why aren't corners 90 degrees?

posted @ Sunday, December 18, 2005 8:49 PM | Feedback (0)
First steps back to Motorbike training

You may have read in previous postings that I recently acquired a motorbike. For those of you that don't know, I passed my bike test almost a decade ago when I was single, and a shade off the age of 25. I did have a bike of my own for a little while, purchased to help me pass my bike test. It was a Honda MTX 125 which was legal for licence I had and tall enough for me to be comfortable riding the small machine. I duly passed my test on that, and having moved near to Livingston sat in my garage...

posted @ Saturday, December 17, 2005 8:14 PM | Feedback (0)
BBC News item of the day, Wednesday 14th December 2005 - Yes Car Credit

I feel a little guilty about featuring this item, particularly as it relates to the failure of a business with the resultant loss of 820 jobs. The Yes Car Credit business is to close, apparently the core business model that it operated on is now unviable - check the content of the article as to why. Together with the other numerous financial services adverts that feature on the satellite channels, the wee blonde lassie with the green body warmer made a brief impact on popular culture. Ok, so the advert was taken off on chewin the fat with their "Aye car credit"...

posted @ Wednesday, December 14, 2005 9:16 PM | Feedback (2)
MartinS applies a new approach to wiggle stereoscopy

To what? I hear you say (pauses to listen). The old sunpig has posted the way and means to do this in a new way, go over there and you'll find out what it is, how to do it now, and what fun can be had by all. Its a bit like a low-budget "bullet time" from the matrix, without the guns, and the green background, and only two cameras. Right, how can I do this while I ride my bike? (only joking).

posted @ Wednesday, December 14, 2005 8:06 PM | Feedback (0)
Use Messenger to ask Encarta

I'm a sad geek, and the ability to ask online Encarta as a contact in MSN Messenger is cool. Basically you add the contact encarta@conversagent.com and talk to them. MSN Messenger to a computer, cool :) Credit where credit is due - this came through a few hops - from Chris Sells, via Greg Hughes via Mark Harrison.

posted @ Wednesday, December 14, 2005 6:54 PM | Feedback (0)
Where did November and the beginning of December go?

Thanks to Matt for giving me a little nudge to get on with this, so where did the last six weeks go? As I mentioned in my last posting, I at last moved from the ranks of biker without a bike to biker with a bike with the purchase on ebay of a ten year old BMW motorcycle. A bit of a risky thing to do, but all worked out in the end with a bargain being had and delivery from Yorkshire to West Lothian all arranged. Being a bargain it needed a little bit of work done, a set of tyres...

posted @ Saturday, December 10, 2005 9:31 PM | Feedback (3)
Where did October Go?

Wrote some ideas down for postings, didn't follow them through. Had a cold. Went to work, worked as hard as I could, oh the dispair of it. Still had a cold. Bought a motorbike on ebay. What have I done. Left work early on a Friday to get my bike delivered, someone crashed in to my car. Rode my bike a little. Left work early on a Monday to get a quote for car repair. Filled out insurance forms and spoke to legal folks. Rode my bike a little more.

posted @ Saturday, October 29, 2005 5:02 PM | Feedback (3)
How to Sudoku

There are two things I can't quite believe about this, one that I've purchased a book by Carol Vorderman, and two that I've bought the first "how to do a puzzle book" since that paperback I had on the Rubik cube. My mum was surprised that I hadn't yet got in to these logic / number puzzles so I thought I would give it a go.

posted @ Wednesday, September 21, 2005 9:08 PM | Feedback (1)
Staffordshire Oatcakes

One thing I neglected to include in my post about travels to the Midlands were the culinary aspects. Anyone who has family in different parts of the country can usually think of one or two local delicacies that aren't available nationally. And when you are reacquainted with these foods, you can conjour up the fond memories associated with them. In this case it is Staffordshire Oatcakes, thankfully stocked by the local Morrisons in Newcastle Under Lyme. For those of you unacquainted with them, they are about 25 cm in diameter, round soft pancake like things. And yes, for those familiar with...

posted @ Wednesday, September 21, 2005 6:37 PM | Feedback (0)
Family Wedding Weekend

The family and I are just back from a family wedding, congratulations to my cousin Joseph and to Carly. My mum's side of the family are originally from Staffordshire, and with families growing up and moving around, I now have relatives in Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Yorkshire. We spent the weekend staying at a hotel in Newcastle Under Lyme, and being as I needed the car to get around on the weekend, drove there on Friday. The run down the M6 was fine, and I ran a one-stop strategy, stopping at the Westmorland services on the way down, with a very brief stop...

posted @ Tuesday, September 20, 2005 12:56 PM | Feedback (2)
Catch up in the world of AlistairL

The frequency of my blog posting tends to follow the ebbs and flows of my life. I certainly find it harder to notice the topics that fascinate me enough to blog them when I am under stress or a bit down. I've also had a couple of weeks holiday during August, and I deliberately tried to chill out and read books and go out instead of random surfing on the PC, and to an extend I succeeded. We only managed to get away for a couple of days, not really enough for me to detach my brain from the daily issues....

posted @ Saturday, September 10, 2005 11:07 PM | Feedback (1)
AlistairL and the art of motorcycle maintenance

Watching the various episodes of American Chopper and A Bike is Born got me back to the olden days when I used to fart about under the bonnet of my MK1 Fiesta. A project at work a few years ago brought me into contact with Learn Direct Scotland, and I ran a search on motorcycle stuff. This brought up a few courses ranging from training for a licence (already done that) to varying levels of motorcycle maintenance courses. And there it was, a Leisure course in Motorcycle Maintenance at Motherwell College, the nearest to where I live, though still a 40 minute drive...

posted @ Sunday, September 4, 2005 5:08 PM | Feedback (0)
Hey Hey 16k

Oh dear, someone has written a song about old computers. Har har. :) Ah, the days when the languages I used had line numbers.

posted @ Tuesday, August 16, 2005 7:39 PM | Feedback (1)
Edinburgh Festival Fringe - The Odd Couple

Went to see The Odd Couple yesterday, mainly because Bill Bailey and Alan Davies were in it, and I'm off work on my holidays at the moment. And it was good, a production based on the original Broadway script, and being shown at the Scottish Assembly Hall on the mound. Bill Bailey's american accent was better than Davies, but I think Alan Davies has that kind of voice. And it was a laugh, Oscar (Bill Bailey) has all the good oneliners, that are as funny and fresh as they were originally. And I spotted Dylan Moran buying tickets and going to the show too, I'd...

posted @ Friday, August 12, 2005 12:28 PM | Feedback (0)
Scottish Exam Results incoming

Being in a house with teenagers resident, we have the joys of exam results winging their way from the Scottish Qualifications Authority. I found their recently technological advancement quite ironic. A few weeks back, they quantified the number of students likely to fail as a result of being caught with their mobiles during exams.Mobile phones should not be in the exam room, fair point. Then later we have press coverage on their technology pilot to text exam results to pupils. Young people being what they are these days have their mobiles with them all the time, which means they are a great way...

posted @ Tuesday, August 9, 2005 6:55 PM | Feedback (0)
Kev's Back

And has his own radio show, what a guy.

posted @ Tuesday, August 2, 2005 9:26 PM | Feedback (1)
Buses and the rich tapestry of life

They sit with their feet on the seats, drinking Buckfast or Tennents, sending texts and listening to their cd players. My fellow travellers on the bus. Alcohol tends to be the exception, feet on the seats isn't. I don't particularly care about texts, or music because the buses tend to be so noisy you can't hear. But my car is a lot more comfortable, has better ventilation, and I control the sounds. I'm trying hard to stick to the bus.

posted @ Friday, July 22, 2005 10:22 PM | Feedback (0)
Where do you sit on a bus?

As you will have seen in some of my previous anecdotal postings, I am currently on a long assignment to a certain financial institution based in Edinburgh, and this means that rather than drive to work I am taking public transport namely the bus. This has given me a few more cycles than normal, for a couple of reasons I suppose. The level of concentration while driving is much higher, and therefore the cycles I do have available in my brain are devoted to the general avoidance of the objects in the vicinity of the car. Not crashing is a practice...

posted @ Friday, July 22, 2005 10:17 PM | Feedback (0)
Blog Comment Spam II

Well, since the original post I've implemented the suggestions from MattL on the site with an element of success. The fun at the moment is comments from what is obviously not a spambot, but some unfortunate person that has to type in the adverts to their online pharmacies into my blog comments (you sad, sad person). My blocked terms trigger is now up to 35 items, most of which are names of drugs.

posted @ Monday, July 4, 2005 7:52 PM | Feedback (0)
G8 Protests in the West End of Edinburgh

I'm glad to say I didn't see any in person, but they weren't far away from where I am working at the moment. The police riot vans were zooming around, and there looked like a bit of a stand off in the Torphichen Street / Morrison Street area. Watching the news earlier on Scottish Television showed some demonstrators coralled on Princes Street, somewhere to avoid! All quite unusual for civilised Edinburgh. And policemen in full riot gear look scary, which I guess is the idea. I've worked in the past for Standard Life and another company in Canning Street Lane, I'm glad I'm not...

posted @ Monday, July 4, 2005 7:26 PM | Feedback (0)
Getting the bus to work during the G8 week

These days I am leaving the Passat at home, using the bus in preference as it goes in on the green lanes into Edinburgh. Apart from the fact that half of them appear to be dug up at the moment, and they only start half way along Calder Road. The big wonder I have at the moment is how next week is going to Pan out with the various G8 related "celebrations" going on in the middle of Edinburgh. The bus that I get normally terminates in Waterloo Place, which is the other end of Princes Street, the main place to...

posted @ Wednesday, June 29, 2005 10:18 PM | Feedback (0)
Book Meme Progress

After Martin Sutherland started me on it, I've been working through the book collection that lives under my bed in random order. So I'm only up to 100 ish books so far, but you wouldn't believe the old copies of Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine I had stashed away. Off to the bucket with issues from 2000. But I am going to keep the copy of my pass certificate for 70-069, Microsoft Access for Windows 95 and the Microsoft Access Developer's Toolkit. I passed with 736 on the 23rd September 1997.

posted @ Monday, June 27, 2005 9:03 PM | Feedback (0)
Book Meme

Bloomin 'eck, a pincer movement by MartinS and SpencerH. This is going to have to be a work in progress. Sections updated as the figures come in: Total Number of book's I've owned Erm, don't know at the moment. I do know that I can't move for the things in my house. Last book I bought Jupiter's Travels by Ted Simon. Bought this on an impulse from a book shop in Perth, my wife pointed at it because it was about a bloke riding around the world on a motorbike. Yes, another book about riding around the world on a motorbike. Makes a change from Sci-Fi...

posted @ Monday, June 27, 2005 8:34 PM | Feedback (0)
Batman Begins on an Orange Wednesday

With all of the family over 15, but two still at school, visits to the cinema can be an expensive do for the Laings. So we did the Orange Wednesday's thing tonight, effectively halving the price, and none of the usual cinema goodies of popcorn etc. And Batman Begins was excellent, though Morgan Freeman reminded me a bit of Q, the rest was good, and I take the MartinS point about the credibility of the domesday machine. Top evening for all.

posted @ Thursday, June 23, 2005 12:37 AM | Feedback (0)
The last few weeks at work

Names changed to protect the innocent and all that, but the work landscape has been quite different lately. In April I had a few days writing load tests scripts to hit an Accounting system. An interesting mix of VBScript sendkeys, bits of analysis and had the other guys doing a good bit of Citrix tweaking to build up a load to hit the server farm. Then mid April I was assigned to a Business Analysis job at one of the Banks headquartered in Edinburgh. Being a bit of a techie (really!) it is a bit of a change, but a good opportunity to practice...

posted @ Sunday, June 19, 2005 10:14 PM | Feedback (3)
Blog Comment Spam

Groan. The extent of my work on this blog over the last weeks seem to be deleting the increasing amount of comment spam coming this way. I guess it is a little flattering that they consider the search engine results high enough to add their own linking. But it kinda saps the will to post real stuff up on the blog.

posted @ Sunday, June 19, 2005 9:56 PM | Feedback (3)
Working in Edinburgh today

Up in the centre of town to look at, you guessed it, a web app running on Microsoft kit. In my confused state earlier in the week I confused one coffee emporium with another. The actual coffee place in the same building as easyInternetCafe is Caffe Nero, not Costa. My brain must work even less at that time of the day than I originally thought.

posted @ Saturday, June 4, 2005 6:31 PM
Alistair's Blog is getting linked to

I will need to get my act together with this blog as my eminent ex-colleagues are beginning to link to it. As you may or may not know, this blog is running Scott Watermasysk's dottext (.Text) blogging software on the european webmatrix hosting site. I have a few tweaks to finalise the installation as I would like it, and have to get the email sending working with the hosting arrangement and we will be "cooking on gas" as the term hereabouts goes. In the meantime thanks to Martin Sutherland and Spencer Harbar for picking up on the new blog.

posted @ Saturday, June 4, 2005 6:28 PM
I have been using public transport this week, while the Passat was unavailable

It all started when my Volkswagen Passat diesel felt a bit bouncy in its handling last Saturday. I wasn't sure, but looking at it hard it looked like it was leaning on one corner. Right enough, something was suspect and it was lower on one corner. It hadn't hit the handling that much, and with the sports suspension it has it sits low already. So phoned the garage and they could take it Wednesday, so I wasn't going to drive it unless it was to the Garage, scared that it would drop even further and hit the ground. So out with the...

posted @ Saturday, June 4, 2005 6:27 PM
Picked up my new suit today

Went shopping for a new suit last Saturday and popped in to pick it up today after the alterations had been made. It needed the trousers shortened a little and the sleeves extended a little, Slater Menswear (George Street in Edinburgh) do free alterations so all sorted. The suit ? A dark blue single breasted two piece suit. They didn't have the darker three piece suit in my size so I will be popping back in a few weeks to see if they have it, or get it ordered. Nice to buy suits again, haven't bought any for a few years!

posted @ Saturday, May 28, 2005 12:45 PM
Where's Martin

Sunpig's been quiet lately, but this is what he has been doing. A good illustration of having your priorities right - blog ? pah !? Good on you MartinS.

posted @ Tuesday, April 19, 2005 7:53 PM
Server and posting time

I am going to run my blog on Indian Time (GMT +5) for the immediate future in an attempt to show the correct time on my posts. I find posts showing me posting during what appears to be working hours quite embarassing.

posted @ Wednesday, April 13, 2005 9:12 PM | Feedback (1)
Back from four days in Dublin

I'm just back from a stay in Dublin. Up till now the kids hadn't been in a plane, so I booked up cheap flights from Edinburgh to Dublin with Ryanair and we popped over for a few days. First day there we went on the hop-on hop-off City Bus tour of Dublin, and did that about three times in total. This is the recommended technique for any city that you are unfamiliar with, lets you see where everything is and with the commentary from the Irish bus drivers, was quite amusing too. The open top had us absolutely frozen, so we grabbed...

posted @ Sunday, April 3, 2005 4:26 PM | Feedback (0)
I went to the Scottish Motorcycle Show Yesterday

And sat on a few bikes. If you don't know the Scottish Show, it is run at the Royal Highland show ground in Ingliston and is run by the crowd that publish Motorcycle News in the UK. We toddled along in the afternoon, because I wasn't sure about going. Over the years it has lost a bit of its charm and got all organised. It hasn't quite gone all lifestyle, but I suppose it reflects the market. I've been to one or two trade shows in the past and you have to be able to justify the expenditure on sales...

posted @ Sunday, March 13, 2005 1:59 PM | Feedback (1)
Of Jonathan Blair

If you follow my sparse blogging efforts, you may remember a post I made in November Of Rhana Consulting and Jonathan Blair. This was a reference to an MCP that is the subject of a case study on the MCSD web page at Microsoft. If you check out the comments on that post, someone claiming to be Jonathan Blair has given us an update. I've no particular reason not to believe the post, so good to hear that he has landed on his feet, even if Rhana have nose dived somewhat. Jonathan - an invitation - tell us more !!

posted @ Sunday, March 13, 2005 1:32 PM | Feedback (2)
Late night shopping

I always find late night shopping a bit of a surreal experience, even when it doesn't quite count as late night which I think should be sometime after midnight. After putting together the various bits of my new PC, I found myself going down to the local Asda-Walmart for supplies of bread, milk and other essentials. Driving in to the carpark made me wish I'd had the digital camera and tripod to capture the late night emptiness that comes with 24 hour supermarkets and to feature in this posting. Except it wasn't quite. Sure, there were about 20 cars in the...

posted @ Sunday, February 13, 2005 2:39 PM | Feedback (0)
Blogs that I read, mostly

I'm almost certain that there is an "official" bloggy way of doing this, and a name to go with it, but I thought I would drop a few links to blogs that I follow from time to time. First is, of course, Martin (Sunpig) Sutherland. An old colleague of sorts, and a major blogging dude. Someone Else's Life is the blog of a Photo Journalist who wrote an article on the Special Escort Group and hooked me on to his other articles. That Blog has now got me on to Random Acts of Reality, the blog of a Paramedic, and also The Policeman's...

posted @ Wednesday, January 19, 2005 4:39 PM | Feedback (0)
iPod Shuffle and Mac mini

Over at the good looking end of technology, Steve Jobs has recently announced the iPod Shuffle and Mac mini. The iPod Shuffle is an even smaller iPod that uses flash memory instead of a small hard disk, and the Mac mini is a small but perfectly formed mac but without keyboard, mouse or screen. Look at the price points! $99 for the iPod and $499 for the Mac mini - nice!

posted @ Tuesday, January 11, 2005 2:39 PM | Feedback (0)
Web design that is, interesting

Many years ago I attended a Young Enterprise conference in Glasgow and met a chap who went to another school in the town I am from, Glenrothes. Jon Bains then went on to form a New Media company called Lateral. I drop in by their company website from time to time, and after a few visits showing a landing page with promises of a redesign, they have changed their site with new content, and new navigation. The new navigation is still sinking in to my brain, I therefore classify it as "Interesting" for the time being.

posted @ Wednesday, December 22, 2004 7:46 AM | Feedback (3)
Long Way Round

Sky One showed the last episode of this six part series last week, which I have been watching on Monday nights when it is shown here in the UK on satellite television. For those of you who don't know the background to the show, it was the account of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman going round the world on BMW Motorcycles. The series went from the setup of the idea, picking bikes to getting the trip together and travelling across Europe, former Soviet Block countries and bordering countries, up and over to Alaska and then on to New York. When I first...

posted @ Monday, December 6, 2004 2:54 PM | Feedback (0)
Banner ad IFRAME exploit

Ouch. Just read about this on the register and also covered by Netcraft on their news site too. Basically, there is an exploit that hits IE 6.0 (but not on xp sp2) and has been infecting a number of european websites that run banner ads. Netcraft coverage on the exploit spread.

posted @ Sunday, November 21, 2004 3:28 PM | Feedback (1)
Out and about in Edinburgh

Ouch , almost the weekend and I am posting about last weekend. Being as I hadn't been to them before, took the family for a look around the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Dean Gallery. Spotted minor Scottish Celebrity Stephen Jardine while we were there too. I obviously need a bit of work on my appreciation. I enjoyed the grounds more than the contents of the galleries themselves. It was interesting to see Warhol stuff in real life, and the comic book style stuff from Lichtenstein. We had enjoyed the portrait work by J.D.Ferguson when up in Perth...

posted @ Thursday, October 7, 2004 5:45 PM | Feedback (0)
The new BMW K1200S Motorcycle

Work is covered in my other post, on the life front I have been keeping things low key, but had a nice time today popping in to our 'local' BMW Motorcycle dealership Motorrad Central to check out the new BMW K1200S that they launched at their dealership today. Motorrad Central have been going for 18 months now, and I had always meant to take a look but this was my first visit. I have wanted an R1100RS for some time now, I tried one for size a few years back and it seemed to have the shape that suited me. I...

posted @ Saturday, September 25, 2004 4:54 PM | Feedback (0)
This blog is moving to a new host

Hopefully that is. I have started a subscription to a paid hosting provider and will attempt to set up the blog in the new environment over the next few days. It will be under one of the alistairl domains, and should look exactly the same. How quickly it happens will depend on my navigation around the .net side of things. Shouldn't take too long at all. More details as it happens!

posted @ Tuesday, August 17, 2004 11:25 PM | Feedback (0)
New Hosting Arrangement in Place

Well, that migration went more smoothly than I thought it would. In the end I would put more of the time down to file transfer and familiarisation with the directory layout than actual configuration related issues. We shall see over the next few days whether everything is working ok - looks fine at the moment.

posted @ Tuesday, August 17, 2004 6:26 PM | Feedback (0)
Blog days are numbered

Its a fair cop. I, and the other europe.webmatrixhosting users have received notification that they are going to enforce the 30 day lifetime rule on sites hosted by them, so I am going to have to decide whether I want to pay some money and host this elsewhere, or go quiet for a while. Decisions decisions. I've been posting stuff up here for a while, on and off, we shall see what I decide.

posted @ Monday, August 16, 2004 11:47 PM | Feedback (0)
Long Way Round

Ewan Magregor has just completed a round the world trip on a BMW GS motorcycle, with some other chap who I'd never heard of. Well done to them (though they had a support crew). Looking forward to seeing the TV series about it, but I'll need Satellite television in the UK to see it. Mmmm, decisions decisions. Minor rant about newspaper coverage again - banner on the front of the print edition of The Scotsman describes it as "his easy rider round-the-world road trip". Off road bikes, no roads in Mongolia, easy rider ? Groan. And don't start me on their so-called...

posted @ Friday, July 30, 2004 1:46 PM | Feedback (0)
Credit Card Fraud

After all the years I've been using and buying stuff off the Internet, I got hit by credit card fraud for the first time today. Got a call from a company verifying part of my card details, fine I thought and left it at that. Then started thinking, hadn't ordered anything that hadn't been processed in the last few days. So I called them back and asked a bit more about who the company was and a bit more about the order concerned. Unfortunately I couldn't hear the name of the company - some underwear place according to the nice lady on...

posted @ Monday, July 26, 2004 8:11 PM | Feedback (5)
Thudfactor 31% Geek

Via a people link on Sunpig (See - I'm on there too!). I ended up at the Geekquiz on Thudfactor. I'm not sure about going both ways though... You are 31% geek You are a geek liaison, which means you go both ways. You can hang out with normal people or you can hang out with geeks which means you often have geeks as friends and/or have a job where you have to mediate between geeks and normal people. This is an important role and one of which you should be proud. In fact, you can make a good deal of...

posted @ Sunday, July 18, 2004 7:16 PM | Feedback (0)
Jedburgh was nice

Just back in West Lothian after our stay in Jedburgh for just under a week. Went back to a place we had been a couple of years ago, which is almost in the middle of the town and has cracking views of the town and beyond. Had an easy time, I read through two or three books, reviews to follow. We also went visiting. Went to the Hizzy room in Hawick, had lunch in Cats Coffee Shop which also happens to be part of a bike shop and popped over to Kelso for a couple of hours. Was great to see a...

posted @ Saturday, July 17, 2004 9:05 PM | Feedback (0)
Knockhill British Superbike Qualifying was wet

Traditional weather, but a disappointment when you are paying the priviledge to see rain fall in a field. For those of you not in the know, the latest round of the British Superbike championship came to Knockhill last weekend. The racers zip around the track in a couple of sessions to set their fast times and decide their grid positions. The first qualifying attempt finished just as we got to the track, getting up and ready and to the track for 10:10 or so just wasn't going to happen on the first proper day of my holiday so we saw the other...

posted @ Monday, July 5, 2004 3:31 PM | Feedback (0)
Holiday Time

Thats it, I'm off work for two weeks. As per usual, things ran to the wire at work, leaving loose ends dangling in a generally unsatisfactory sort of way. June for a variety of reasons, wasn't a good one for me, with the last two weeks blighted by a nasty bout of a kind of cold flu virus which has made life challenging, to say the least. I hope the next two weeks prove the tonic I need, or will at least give me time to think about things. On a lighter note, tomorrow is a visit to Knockhill Racing Circuit for the British...

posted @ Friday, July 2, 2004 10:53 PM | Feedback (0)
Broxburn and Racing Ferraris

Broxburn, home to the swimming pool I go to, and home to Scuderia Ecosse. They race Ferrari motor cars. Broxburn? Eh ? Excellent!

posted @ Wednesday, June 23, 2004 1:59 PM | Feedback (2)
Weblog Murder

A sensationalist attention grabbing title ! :) Reading in a few places about a chap called Dave Winer, who has given up offering a free service which up till a day or so ago hosted up to 3,000 weblogs. Reading between the lines it looks like he was on borrowed time. He stopped working for the company that hosted the servers about three years ago and recent changes meant he had to host things himself. There has been an understandable reaction from the user community, which hotwired place an interesting spin on. Apparently Dave has offered to give an export, on request, of...

posted @ Wednesday, June 16, 2004 8:49 AM | Feedback (0)
Thats what I have been doing

It was a post by Don Box that reminded me what I have been up to over the last few weeks. After the Bike show in March I worked my way through some books that I had bought. My Amazon order history has In Search of Stupidity ordered in September last year, but it seems like I read it more recent than that. I also worked my way through Raw Spirit which I bought as a travel volume and its brief mention of Iain Bank's VFR. Based on a recommendation by a colleague by the name of Pete Baugh, I got...

posted @ Thursday, April 29, 2004 10:04 PM | Feedback (0)
April is showers, gardens and nothing much

I must admit that I have been struggling a bit with material for the old blog here. I go through periods of gushing to periods when I wonder what to talk about. I did figure that my latest gadget acquisition might merit a mention - I upgraded my old Orange SPV to the latest version a couple of weeks ago when my annual contract ran its course. I now have the SPV E200 which is quite nice, having got used to the various functions. It seems less prone to freezing like my old one, and I quite like the little changes...

posted @ Friday, April 23, 2004 9:02 PM | Feedback (0)
Been to the Scottish Motorcycle Show

Just been to the MCN Scottish Motorcycle Show at Ingliston, not too far from where I live. I actually enjoyed it! Took a few measures to help the experience along. Parked at the car park nearest to the airport, avoiding paying the priviledge to park in a field that you cannot get back out again of without four wheel drive. Bought our tickets on the gate, having had to queue up with my prepaid tickets last time. What is the point of saving two quid to pay in advance? Everybody was wrapped up, maybe too much, but a lot easier than...

posted @ Friday, April 23, 2004 8:53 PM | Feedback (4)
Domesday Project

Came across a description of the BBC Domesday Project for no particular reason than I wondered what had happened to the blokes that presented the BBC program on computers in the 80s when I were a lad. I was in first or second year when our school did our bit on the locality to the South West of Glenrothes, and we packed into the Glenwood High School mini bus and did our research for the project which put all the data onto Laser Disc. How high tech! Talking about old computer programs, do you remember a radio programme presented by Barry Norman that...

posted @ Monday, March 22, 2004 10:01 PM | Feedback (0)
Scottish Motorcycle Show website posted up

It took them a wee while, but the annual Scottish Motorcycle Show held at the Royal Highland Showground has updated its website in anticipation of the event over the weekend of 13th and 14th March. I'll be heading along with my new digital camera (more details to follow) and promising to park somewhere that I don't get stuck and look at all the nice new shiny bikes.

posted @ Wednesday, February 25, 2004 9:22 PM | Feedback (0)
Working in Glasgow today

I had the occasion to visit the other big city in Scotland today doing a bit of support work on a web app. Got up early, travelled through to the city centre and popped in to Easy Internet Cafe for a cup of coffee and a read of my work email using the excellent web access tools provided with Exchange Server 2003. Of course, Cedalion have a real smart team who can design and implement the same thing for you. I have been through to Glasgow a few times and have almost got my head around the Costa Coffee arrangement at the...

posted @ Wednesday, February 18, 2004 10:46 PM | Feedback (0)