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, Linkin Park and Kelly Clarkson), odd bit of pop (maybe that’s where Kelly Clarkson goes) and trip-hop dance (Faithless), electronic (Depeche Mode), and of course – podcasts.

Quality varies in the podcasts I’ve listened to, and I think because a PC screen has so much going on that the spoken word washes out a bit. And that’s just the editorial control, the production quality can really vary too. I’ve really got in to the ARCast series, and I’m working my way back through them. Notable highlights so far have been the Ivar Jacobson chat. I didn’t know that he was a Project Manager by trade, and he also put the whole process thing in context. Another good one was on agile methodology with Colin Bird of Conchango. I’ve downloaded the ARCast set to my Nano and I’m working through them on the bus to and from the park and ride. The only thing is, like I discovered years ago watching Hong-Kong Fuey back to back – the intros get a bit cliched. Ron Jacobs says “Welcome, Welcome Friends, Welcome” every time.

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 changed my mind when I saw yet another sterling effort over on so didn’t bother as much – although I have a few pics. As it was only one offending bobbin in my case, I left the wheel on the bike and worked to replace it in situ.

The hardest part for me was compressing the small ring round the bobbin, which has two grooves in it. The first takes a small ring (like a piston ring, or a spring – has a small gap) fits into a corresponding groove in the disc and carrier. On a piston you would use a piston ring compressor to compress the piston rings for fitting, I destroyed my initial one and had to use the backup bobbin to fit.

Then there was the matter of getting the e-clip on the back of the bobbin, which was again more of a case of my technique and big fingers. Once placed the clip slides on without two much effort.


Joel on Software on the Development Abstraction Layer

An excellent article from Joel on Software on what he calls the Development Abstraction Layer.

I agree with what he says about the way to run a great software company, and how to get the most out of programmers,  and the first time I’ve seen anyone comment on the success of Microsoft Alumni in setting out on their own!

But PS, I don’t personally have any experience of the sort of company he describes. Does that mean it can’t exist?

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, and I viewed it as a little Wedding Anniversary present to myself.

We started out quite well, ever since the incident when I had to get towed from a field they had the cheek to call a car park, I have always driven in from the airport end of the RHS and parked where there is at least some semblance of gravel to help drainage and get some grip. I remember the parking charge as being £2 which is ok-ish, and what really worked out this time is that we were parked about 100 metres from the south entrance to the show, which itself is about 60 metres from the door to one of the main halls. The shortest walk I think I have ever had to get in, which was a good start.

Unfortunately the weather lived up to its reputation of Scotland in early March, and there was a biting wind and occaisional rain. But, come on, Scotland is like that, so it can’t be too much of a surprise. Especially as I have been riding the BMW through the winter since November, pausing when snow and ice appeared outside, I’m a hardened biker now (cough, aye right).

Even better was the fact that the entrance nearest to us had a cafe, and just in to the show was the BMW stand. Almost a perfect start! I had a wander around the stand, sitting on what I could. I’d love to like “normal” bikes, but I’m just totally the wrong shape for the current crop of sports bikes which seem to get smaller and smaller each year. BMW’s still seem to fit me, even if its the smallest bike they make. I must admit that the traditional full on tourers are not my kettle of fish, too much plastic up around me although I bet they keep you dry and warm. It was only at this show that I noticed that the single sided swinging arm at the back of the BMW bikes are on different sides between the R and K bikes.

If you don’t already know, BMW have a tradition of naming their boxer twin bikes with an R prefix. Hence my R1100RS is a two-cylinder horizontally opposed 1100cc motorbike, air cooled in the past, oil and air cooled these days. The K bikes tend to have four cylinders and liquid cooling, although they have had the odd 3 cylinder bike in the past. Up till the recent K1200, the four cylinders were in line across the bike i.e. laid on their side, but the K1200S introduced a new four cylinder engine with the crankshaft across the width of the bike, and canted well forward i.e. the top of the engine is angled towards the front of the bike. These days we also have the F bikes, which are either single cylinder (like the Dakar racing bikes) or inline twins. There is also the wacky HP2 Enduro which breaks the naming standard, but it is a bit different.

Examples of each of the types were on the stand, with the new R1200S, R1200GS (normal and adventure), R1200RT and HP2 representing the latest of the oilheads, albeit not the entire range as the R1200ST wasn’t present. For the K bikes there were the K1200S, K1200R, K1200GT, K1200LT all smart and shiney.

But, all with standard BMW prices to go with them, so it will be another 10 years before their second hand prices come down to a level which I can afford.

Rona and I then wandered around the rest of the show, and I caught up with Joe on the LMTS stand, and he seemed to be glad of a chat (also helps passing trade to show an interest too!). With all the accesories and clothing on show, I’m still of a mind to spend the money on further training – as long as the bike is running of course!