Mar 182018

1983 Brochure scan (Mark 1)

Back in 1981, my mother and I persuaded my father than a brand new Raleigh Record Sprint would be a much better purchase at £161, than all of the other bicycles priced around the £80 mark in Roy Woods bicycle store.

£161 in 1981 was a lot of money, it is something like £450 in 2018.

For the money though I got a beautiful gloss black bicycle with exotic gold components and new-to-the market Reynolds 501 tubing. Compared to every other bicycle I had ever owned, it was fast and light and the ride quality was sublime.

The black and gold colour scheme echoed the JPS lotus cars of the previous decade, it oozed cool and Raleigh new it too.

Over the next few years despite being able to legally drive cars and ride motorbikes, I still managed to put a lot of miles on it. When I moved to my flat it became my primary transport for a while.

I have memories of riding to see friends on it, taking my cat to the vets on it and riding many many miles for pleasure.

That bike was a very early one, it had Campagnolo gears, safety brake levers and toe straps, it was lovely.

I eventually sold it, but for many years, I have looked for one to replace it.

In the last three years or so I have bid on a greta number of them on eBay, usually they are way worn and in need of a lot of TLC, which is good, because this is what I am good at.

I dreamed about getting an old one, preferably a mark1, just like my original and then undertaking a ‘restomod’ on it.

This is where you take an old bicycle and keep little more than the frame, replacing the forks with Carbon blades, the 12 speed with a 2×11 setup and the wheels with something super light. Obviously the brakes would be swapped with modern ones and the pedals would be clipless LOOK or SPD jobs.

The problem is that the old Mark1 frames are virtually all in terrible condition, yet they still command a premium price.

The Mark2 was introduced in 1984 (I believe), it stuck with the 501 tubing, but with a twist, the Mark2 had ‘aero’ tubing. The frame was also slightly lighter. The decals are different too.

Thinking about this, I decided that finding a decent Mark2 frame would give me a good base, I could restomod it to my hearts content an maybe backdate the frame decals.

A week ago a Mark2 ‘barn find’ popped up on eBay. The seller had mispelled many words, it was advertised as a ‘Rayleigh Rekkord’. The photos showed what looked like a nice condition Record Sprint that had apparently not been touched in 30 years. I popped in a cheeky bid.

Amazingly I won it – there was one other bidder, had there been no other bidder I would have paid £30. As it was, the shipping was almost 1/3 of the total cost.  Continue reading “Raleigh Record Sprint” »

Mar 062018

In the wake of numerous school shootings in the US and the beginnings of, and subsequent shut-downs of, debates on gun control, I was thinking about how just how puzzling the this (lack of actual) debate seems from the outside world.

Most of the rest of the world has had already had the debate, guns in the wrong hands are lethal. Restricting ownership to well trained, responsible people is a good idea. It is a done deal.

In the UK and for the majority of Europe, Asia and, well, pretty much everywhere in the world, the cultural shift has been such that declaring that you want to own a gun seems to lead people to the conclusion that you are precisely the sort of person that shouldn’t own a gun.

Its a little bit like the old Douglas Adams quote ‘It is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it… anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.

In the majority of the developed world ‘self defence’ is not considered a valid reason for wanting to own a gun.   Continue reading “Americans and their Guns…..” »

 Posted by at 8:00 am
Jan 062018
Image of 'fixed' network

Click for details

Virgin Media network cable connections can be really rather good.

The real world issue is that they are let down by the quality and performance of their ‘SuperHubs’, hereafter referred to as their ‘Stupid Hubs‘.

There are several problems…

  • The Hub is a combination device that tries to be Cable modem, Router, Wireless Access Point and a Switch.
  • The device is heavily locked down so that only limited amounts of user-tweaks are possible.
  • Wi-Fi performance is poor, not just the range, but its ability to handle loads.
  • Routing performance can be poor under specific circumstances.
  • The lock-down can cause technical issues with some VPN connections.

In our home, literally the only practical place that the stupid-hub can live is right next to the TV.

Because the Stupid-Hub appears to have inadequate RF shielding, when the TV is switched on, the performance of the Stupid-Hub Wifi drops considerably. For reasons that are not entirely clear, even wired connections suffer horribly (but not when Wi-Fi is turned off, suspiciously). The Virgin engineer that tried to sort this out for us recommend that the hub is at least 2m away from TV’s, monitors, microwaves and any other electrical devices, like computers, phones and iPads !

This is pretty impractical in a small house. A quick survey with a 2m long bamboo cane gave me just a handful of highly impractical potential locations. The loft was a strong contender for a while, but apparently the hub does not like low or high temps. Under the bath was considered and mounted on a wall half way up the stairs was briefly discussed. Just the issues running coax and power cables to these crazy locations ruled them right out.

Something needed to be done.

In short, if you want half decent Wi-fi, you need to disable it on the Stupid-Hub and plug in a decent wireless Access Point.

The standard Stupid-Hub was incapable of getting a signal to about half the house. It reached upstairs, but barely and there was zero signal in the office and the bathroom.

There are multiple ways to solve this. We chose to use high performance products from Ubiquiti and Netgear, but I am very aware that you could do nearly all of this on a tight budget by getting a decent Wireless Router from Netgear or Linksys etc.

This entry is all about doing it really well and building a high performance network that is robust, and can be upgraded over time without relying on a specific Internet Service Provider.

For us, step one was just to fix the terrible Wi-Fi.

Continue reading “Fixing Virgin Media Wi-Fi and Routing…” »

Nov 262017

Can of BeansIn this ever connected world, it is pretty easy for anyone to say anything or to be anybody.

In the real world, you can tell a lie and as long as the person that you told it to does not have the ability to easily debunk it, you can get away with it for a very long time.

‘Oh yeah, I met so-and-so at $vague-venue in vague-year’  is pretty much impossible to prove or disprove and in general the onus lies on the recipient to prove or disprove, or to just accept and wonder.

Obviously the liar has to remember all of these lies and this requires either a brilliant recall of the lies that have been told to who, or it required that liar to simply not care.

In the real world a liar has just the stories to bolster their ego.

Of course there are some famous cases of people telling lies and getting away with it for year, but in general it is pretty easy to catch out a liar in real life.

The on-line world though makes it way more difficult and potentially a whole lot more dangerous, but I would like to propose a system that helps to catch people out.

Continue reading “The growing need for proof….” »

Oct 062017


I changed bikes a few weeks ago. I traded my much loved Triumph Tiger Sport 1050 for a Yamaha MT-10.

Last year I let my 16yo self interview me regarding the Tiger – it went about as well as you would imagine. So I thought it would be fun to do it again with the new bike.


16yos: ugly bike dude, what the hell is that ?

It is a Yamaha MT-10 .

16yos: I mean, what the hell is it ?

Technically it is called a Hyper or Super-Naked. It is something close to a Yamaha R1 with less plastic, less top-end rush and way more mid-range oomph. Think of it as a 1000cc sports bike that is road relevant.

16yos: So it is a streetfightered R1 – do you crash it, or is it supposed to be that ugly ?

It actually comes like that, it is much more comfortable than an R1, faster on real roads. Trust me on this, it is way more road-relevent than an R1, much more comfortable and it makes more sense at reasonably legal speeds.

16yos: How fast is it ? Continue reading “Yamaha MT10 – The new bike” »

Aug 182017

My heart is breaking for Barcelona.

I love the city, I love the people of the city, it is a place of many happy memories.

Once more though an attack has been launched on the innocent. Just reading this morning about the many people that have died and the many people that have been hurt in this attack was terrible, I shed tears.

As far as I can see, none of these people had any military or government, or heck, even church leadership or influence.

This is literally slaughter of people that do not have any influence or probably an opinion in the ongoing conflict with Isis/Isil/IS/Daesh.

It feels that we are attempting to deal with a bunch of cowards.

But then, as I pointed out in when Paris was attacked, it is very, very hard to wage war on an organisation rather than a country.

As far as I know, Spain does not even have a hand in the war against Daesh, beyond actually being a western country.

Once again though, my heart is breaking for Barcelona.

 Posted by at 11:57 am
Mar 202017

At some point in my life, I started to wear a watch. I have vague memories of the very first watch I owned, I think it was a Timex much like the one on the right.

It was replaced by an Orange faced ‘divers’ watch with a rotating plastic bezel that fell off a lot.

As far as I can remember that was replaced by a digital watch, I think my first was a Commodore. 

This watch was a small, but battery hungry, technological marvel.  It was accurate to within about a minute a year, and when you pressed the button it would tell you the time in glowing red numerals. 

I think that the first battery lasted about a week. 

Eventually technology progressed, the LED watch gave way to an LCD one that had considerably better battery life. It also had some functions that became addictive. The stopwatch that could measure hundredths if a second was absolutely amazing. The alarm less use than it could have been. 

Over the. Why few years I had every technical watches. But multiples time zones have little use when you are a teenager. 

On starting work I bought myself a watch, it was a very, very pretty Seiko analogue quartz Chronograph. This was, as the time the state of the art of analogue quartz watches and it cost me something like a months salary. 

I wore this watch for many years. 

I would sometime swap to a Swatch, but I would fall back to the Seiko. 

Eventually I got my first high end watch. A Tag Heuer 2000 series watch. Soon after I got a TAG F1, then a TAG S/EL. Sadly the 2000  and the F1 were sold eventually to fund a cot for Sam. Luckily I held onto the S/EL.  

As I gained more watch budgets I added other watches. A Deep Blue, several more Seiko watches and an awesome TAG F1 Indy 500, and then an Apple Watch. 

Somehow I returned to a technological watch. I even used it as a digital watch for a long time. 

I like it a great deal, but it has no soul. 

As of a couple of weeks ago, I am back to an analogue watch. I sort of miss the notifications. But really, truly it is much nicer to wear. 

I will still wear the Apple Watch for gym and other workouts. But I am back to proper watches.  

 Posted by at 6:45 pm
Mar 162017

The term ‘at sixes and sevens’ means being in a state of confusion. It was used a lot in our family household.

For the last few months I have been torn over wether or not I wanted to trade my iPhone Six in for a Seven.

On paper  the Seven is little more than than the device  that the 6s should have been. The camera is better, the processor is faster  and the home button redesigned to no longer be a button. It looks like the 6 too. In fact the only way to tell them apart is the lack of a headphone socket on the newer one.

I had pretty much decided that I did not need to upgrade.

So the 7 is rubbish then ?

Well no. It’s really rather good. It is considerably faster than the 6. So much so that I am still quite amazed every time I use it. The camera a is not a hit just better, it is way better. Every photo is better. The software that takes advantage of the new camera module is smarter. Smart software and higher resolution. What is not to like ?  Continue reading “At Sixes and Sevens” »

Nov 302016

WWF StatsI have been playing ‘Word with friends’ for several years. I have played something over 1600 games so far, mostly against family and friends. I win more than I lose, this is mostly because I have a fairly large vocabulary, I am pretty good at pattern recognition and also I try words that I think might be legal.

Sometimes I will play a random player, just to see how I stack up against others. Again, I am usually pretty good.

So imagine my surprise when a random person, with whom I have been very closely matched over many, many games for a couple of years, suddenly ups their game. The scores went from 320ish each and a very close parity in won/lost stats, to an absolute demolition. In the last game we played they scored 617 to my 341, the previous game to that was 558 to my 337. Prior to that it was something like 500/350.

Words with friends is a game where improvements come gradually, my average score has increased by a small number of points per game over the years, because I have learnt how to avoid giving others big score chances and how to leverage the multipliers.

So, how has this person suddenly got a whole lot better – and, I may add, a whole lot faster so quickly ?  Continue reading “Cheating at Words with Friends” »