More speed please, I don’t like waiting

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

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

Nineteenth Ride to Advanced

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

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

IAM Test Date Arranged

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

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

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

Eighteenth Ride to Advanced

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

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

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

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.

Seventeenth Ride to Advanced

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

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

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

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

New speedo cable fitted to the BMW R1100RS

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

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

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

Speedo cable broke on the BMW

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

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