Saturday, 29 December 2007

Sony Ericsson W810i & Ubuntu

Straight off, no the Sony Ericsson W810i will not play .ogg music files. If it was a symbian phone then it would be possible with a quick download of an application. So woe was I when I began the process of converting my music library to mp3 format. I know, feel dirty for doing it, but it was a necessary evil.

With that out of the way, which is not the phones fault, all else is going brilliant! As soon as I connected the phone to my laptop Ubuntu detected it straight away. On your desktop, or media folder, you will get two new icons. 'Phone' (for the internal memory of the phone) and 'Phone Card' (for your SD card). As default 'Rhythmbox Music Box' will open to handle the files. Using this you can just drag and drop your music onto the SD card. Though the annoying thing here is that the titles will always come up 'short' on the walkman. For instance, instead of 'The Killers' I get 'The Kill' and so on. This effects all titles. The songs play perfectly though so no issues with sound quality.

What about bluetooth? First make sure you have downloaded 'Bluetooth File Sharing' & 'Bluetooth Analyzer' applications from Synaptic. Once installed setting them up is very straight forward. Then to send a file to the phone (with bluetooth turned on) just 'right-click' a file, select 'sent to' and then choose 'Bluetooth' from the drop-down menu. The phone will then ask you if you want to select the file. Simple. With a few terminal commands you can even use the phone as a remote mouse and media player (link below).

Next, syncing my Evolution Calendar and Contacts with the W810i. This can only really be done with 'multisync'. Others like 'wammu' are better for mobile phone utilities, but 'multisync' will sync with Evoultion. This is not as easy as the software you would get with a Nokia for win-doh's, but I imagine it will continue to improve with time and it seems to do the job with some tweaking. Again, set up is straight forward. Just go through all the tabs and drop-down menus in multisync to set up your connection. Choose what you want to sync and away you go.

I found some very good links to help out:
W810i & Amarok Music Player
Bluetooth Sync with Evolution & W810i
Bluetooth Remote Control
For some cool themes, ringtones and so on:
W810i Themes
LasyK Networks

Personally, I am very impressed with this little phone and have no complaints with any of it's features. I would just like to see more support from the mobile phone manufacturers, none of the PC software that comes with the phone will run on Ubuntu (even with WINE) and the same goes for the downloadable software from Sony Ericsson. This really lets down what could almost be a perfect little package.

Ubuntu, Linux for human beings!

Sunday, 23 December 2007

The Same December


December has been a busy month, hence the lack of posts. With my sister getting married (I gave her away), deadlines and upcoming exams I remain busy over the holiday period well until the end of January.

BUT...I am glad to announce a few upcoming reviews to look forward to in the near future.

1st - I may have finally found a phone that should allow me to sync my calendars and contacts with 'Evolution' without any major problems. This being the Sony Ericsson W810i. So soon I will be saying a goodbye to my Nokia 5140i after almost 3 years. On the plus side I also gain a music player which should play ogg files!

2nd - On the motorcycle side I shall keep you posted on my ongoing honeymoon with Karma (my Kawasaki ER-6F). Though with the winter months here things will start to get dicey! At least it will sharpen the reflexes being on these country roads which seem to have a permanent sheet of ice on them at times. Also, I have just taken delivery of some new gear, a Halvarssons 'Korax' jacket & 'Cobra' pants. So expect a review after I have put a couple of hundred KM's on them.

3rd - Shows, events and trips! I could not believe the sheer positive response from my latest posting of NEC photo's! Thank you for all the comments. With almost 4,000 hits and several invitations to link to other groups I am over the moon. So much so that I shall put my 3 year boycott of the Irish Motorcycle show to one side and will attend this year to get you some photo's. Also I will start planning my trip abroad to one of the MotoGP rounds. Probably Italy (Mugello, June 1st) or Catalunya (Catalunya, June 8th). If I do not make it that far then certainly to UK for a MotoGP or World Superbike round, especially since BSB will not be coming to Ireland this year.

Well, with those tasty bits to look forward to and the many other surprises around each bend I am sure that 2008 will certainly present many new and exciting challenges. All that is left to be said is thank you for wasting some of your time here in this blog! Happy holidays!

OH...and keep the rubber side down!

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Olympia Gear Review

For the last 5 months now my main motorcycle suit has been the Olympia Moto Sports 'Voyager Jacket' (CLICK HERE) and matching 'Mens Ranger 2 Over Pant' (CLICK HERE). Most outside of the USA will not have come across this brand as it is only available in the USA (as far as I am aware). I was introduced to the brand when my Aunt, from California, brought me over a pair of 'Men's Airglide 2 Mesh Tech Over Pant' (CLICK HERE). I was so impressed by the quality and the price that I placed an order with Bob's BMW Motorcycles (CLICK HERE) whom had the suit to my door within 2 weeks. Final price including shipping and customs was just under €500, but that should be better now with the weak dollar!

Anyway...the Voyager Jacket first. I ordered it in Neon Red/Black to help myself be seen and it does not disappoint. In fact the only drawback is the fact that you can be seen everywhere! And of course the mandatory jokes for the first few days of ownership. Other then that everything is as advertised. The quality is excellent for the money you pay and my only complaint would be the slightly over-complicated vent system. Also, after 5 months of daily usage the neon red is getting very dirty looking. The Nikwax Tech Wash can only do so much. The jacket is still in excellent shape, no fraying or any bits failing. It has never leaked, even after a wet 300KM ride down to Cork! The separate lining I often use as a stand alone jacket is also excellent. Very warm and windproof. Even with the recent cold weather (0c before wind chill) I can still wear just my Berghaus long-sleeve T-Shirts.

The Ranger 2 pants are in black and are of the same quality as above. Yet they still look brand new after a wash...mainly because they are black and the grim from the road just does not show up. With the lining in the only thing I wear underneath are my 'Forcefield Action Shorts' (CLICK HERE). So again the weather protection is top notch. In fact I was still regularly wearing the mesh pants during November, the lining is just so effective. But for 'wet runs' the Ranger 2 is my first choice.

So all-in-all, I have been very impressed by the gear and would happily recommend it to anyone. Especially those heading to the USA, bringing a suit back at the current exchange rate makes huge sense! If you look at the Olympia website you will see that the gear even comes with C.E. approved armour, which is certainly not the norm with other well known USA brands. So no worries on that front!

As I ride all year I need gear I can rely on and have faith in. This gear has yet to fail me and knowing that my personal comfort will not be an issue come the 'cold' months of January, February and March lets me concentrate on the most important things...like surviving the commute everyday!

Keep the rubber side down!

Saturday, 1 December 2007

225




As promised, if you direct your browser to my Flickr page you will (hopefully) find some 225 photos from the 2007 NEC Motorcycle & Scooter Show, they are in alphabetical order so feel free to skip through to your favourite flavours of motorcycles.

The show itself was great. Too much going on in fact! So much so, that as we left the first thing my partner said was "next year we will need to come for 2 days", though I said a downbeat "I guess", inside I was jumping for joy.

The major difference this year was that all the major manufactures were concentrated in one area, instead of generally through the center of the show area with the various trade stands off either side. Though a good idea in principle,it meant this area was very busy most of the day with other areas staying quiet. I would like to think they will revert to the old layout to keep the crowds moving around.

Also what continues to annoy is going to the show to get gear, only to be told they are not selling but giving us the details of local dealers. In Ireland 'local' dealers usually means 1 or 2 shops and zero deals. Well, at least I tried to buy off them.

My highlight was getting to meet Nick Sanders, if you do not know who he is I insist you go and find out, try his website by CLICKING HERE. I got his latest book and DVD were he takes a group down to Timbuktu, he even signed the book. He is as pleasant as he appears and that alone was worth the flight and entrance fee!

Right, I am sure you can not wait to get off and see what went on at the show. I hope you enjoy the photos and please remember I am quite the novice with the camera!

Keep the rubber side down.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

See You When I Get There

Passport and tickets in hand I am setting off to the 2007 NEC Motorcycle & Scooter Show in Birmingham, UK.

The camera is packed too so there should be plenty of pictures on my Flickr page by the weekend for all of you to enjoy.

Right time to go!

Keep the rubber side down.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

The End of The World?

You read it here first...the end of the world order:

"The whole world order would crumble, everything that was built in the past 50 years would be meaningless. All the flash points in the world would erupt."

-Branislav Ristivojevic, spokesman for Serbia's DSS party, 19th November 2007, on what would happen should the world recognise a unilateral declaration on independence by Kosovo.

Hold onto your seats...

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Australia Chooses a New Direction

Republicanism, ratifying Kyoto and combat troops out of Iraq...these are just a few items on the table with the election of Kevin Rudd as the new Australian PM. So 11 years of conservative rule has been ended with the Labor Party coming to power.

After 4 terms John Howard is now out of the office and currently facing the 'double whammy' of losing the seat he has held for 33 years. Of note though is that the loss is not generally being contributed to the new Prime Ministers foreign policies that will lead to a distancing from the USA which has been a firm supporter of Mr Howard. Instead it was domestic issues relating to anger over workplace laws and rising interest rates that spelled the end with a swing of 6.3% to Labor.

So record levels of low unemployment and an excellent economy could not save Mr Howard his job! While Labor have 7 more seats then required to form the new government. Also the US finds itself with one less staunch supporter, with the loss of the UK's Tony Blair earlier this year.

The Sound of Drums

Among the noise of the war drums there are some voices worth listening too.

Certain elements within Iran may be determined to snub the USA by any means possible, but all things being equal, this helps elements within the USA justify one final push under the 'Bush Doctrine'.

"Will A Strategic Bombing Campaign Defeat Iran?" by Chuck Spinney is well worth a read.

"Peace - in international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods of fighting", The Devils Dictionary 1911

Saturday, 17 November 2007

DCU Open Day 2007 (Day 2)


It is over...

Wow, what a busy day! I do not think any of us expected today being that busy. Most of the other stands were surprised too. In fact we stayed later today then yesterday, only getting away after 4pm.

But why? I hear you ask...well the whole point of the Open Days are to promote DCU as 'THE' University to go to and I believe we successfully did that. With a combination of our collective 'personalities' and lots of candy (whole other story!).

DCU Model United Nations did very well out of today. Again pushing the IR & EPL courses while showing how the MUN is the society that is best suited for EVERY course in DCU and that zero experience is necessary. The fact that we are such young society seemed to prove a positive aspect. So many people...so many questions...so much promoting...so much FUN!

Also of note was the amount of parents today. Most were very impressed at our little society and several commented that we better represented the various courses then the dedicated staff on hand. But it was also a big team effort as we brought prospective students to the stands they were most interested in, those other stands repaid the favour and sent scores over to us.

So once again, another very positive day, promoting DCU and the Model United Nations, while also having a fun time doing it and meeting many very keen people...who might just be first years next year.

Again, thank you to the staff of DCU who helped to organise this great day and to all of the DCU Model United Nations Team that helped out at the stand over the 2 days. Well done.

Of course...go to my Flickr page for more pictures!

Friday, 16 November 2007

DCU Open Day 2007 (Day 1)


We survived...watch the day unfold on my Flickr page!

Day 1 of the 'DCU Open Days' is over and we can safely say it was a complete success. This was the busiest DCU Open Day ever! Getting more people in one day then the whole weekend last year, so estimates are in the 5,000 mark and at times it certainly felt that way.

What started out as the DCU Model United Nations Society display soon also included the Law & Government main 'go to' desk...then the European Business courses came on board at some stage and finally we also found ourselves promoting the Uaneen Modules. So we were a very busy bunch.

At various times the vast majority of the society dropped by and helped out by talking to passers by and generally whipping up interest in our still very new society. The pictures I took really do not do the team justice...there were times when all of us were dealing with 'groups' of prospective DCU students. The vast majority certainly seemed very keen and interested in our activities, especially when we started introducing them to the benefits of being part of a society that blended debate with acting, taught the skills of research and professionalism, while living up to the spirit of the United Nations.

All in all, this was a brilliant day for all involved and hopefully we gave the prospective students one more reason to choose DCU.

While I must also extend a thank you to the staff of DCU who helped put this together and most of all a MASSIVE THANK YOU to the DCU Model United Nations team who helped out through the day and several of which have pledged to help me out tomorrow!

See you there...

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Speed of the Sound of Lonliness

It was Cork...but not as I knew it! Pink lighting along Oliver Plunkett Street and down the center of Patrick Street were the only disturbing changes. Everything else is...is Cork, boy!

Hillbillies on the Grand Parade still makes the best chicken fillet burgers in the country (if not world!), Zanzibar on Cook street is still funky with great food and Lancaster Lodge still fulfills all the needs of the traveling biker (relatively secure parking and central location).

Which brings me nicely onto the matter of Karma (my Kawasaki ER-6F) in 'tourer' mode. Well, she handled the whole trip up and down with no problems. Easy overtakes when needed and effortless cruising at legal-ish speeds. Loaded with a 3 case pannier system (see my Flickr page) and enough gear to ensure fresh 'civvies' for each day and night out. In fact, the top case just had the hand muffs and cover in it. I noted that at approx 120-140kph she would hover just above 6,000rpm. I adjusted the rear suspension from my normal of 4 with the cases commuting (factory set at 3 for just rider) to 5 since I had more weight then normal. It seemed to do the job and have no complaints. I filled up going down then again coming back up, so €14 each way.

The only changes I would make for similar/longer trips is maybe getting Kawasaki's higher screen option so you do not need to get down so low for the windy bits. Other then that, i would not hesitate to consider her a great (if not best) budget all-rounder. She gets hustled through Dublin traffic all week then gets to head down to the other end of the country for the weekend without missing a beat. While still getting flattering comments every time I park up.

I took note of the amount of fellow bikers out there on the roads and the various machines that were being ridden. In fact, I did not pass the same machine twice! Though I must comment on one worrying trend, the BMW's rider's inability to acknowledge a fellow biker. I realise they have much to do in their cockpit's and I am surprised that BMW does not offer a button to perform some sort of automated response. While everyone else seemed eager to make some kind of gesture! Anyway, maybe this was an exception, rather then the rule.

Oh yeah, there was the little matter of a Model United Nations simulation in UCC. I was part of the team representing the 'Kingdom of Belgium', and the topic was 'the role of PMC's in conflict zones'. I know, if you are into that sort of thing it was very interesting. This was my first MUN simulation so spent most of my time trying to figure out how to raise an issue. It was done over 1 day and was a great introduction by some very impressive UCC MUN members ('thank you' goes out to them). I probably could have done with a week there to get my head around the etiquette, but with my slight aversion to social settings public speaking will always be a hurdle, but I am doing this for the experience and insight more so then any future career path.

All in all a great few days away. Digging up old memories, visiting old haunts and generally feeling...well, much older!

Keep the rubber side down.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Ready or Not

Cork, here I come!

Bags are packed and the bike is loaded, tomorrow I hit the road and will be in Cork city for the weekend. My main reason for going down is that I am taking part in a Model United Nations training session between UCC and DCU.

Though my other reason is that I have been looking for a destination for a weekend trip since getting my first service out of the way. Yes, it is great getting to commute every day on a motorcycle, but we both deserve a bit of fun, so Cork is the perfect opportunity. I lived there between 1998-2003, so being back for a few days will be good and throw up a few dusty memories. I have heard the place had been polished up a bit, hopefully not too much!

So once the trip is over I will have had my first 'longish' trip in the saddle with Karma, hopefully it will give me an idea of how I want to do things for next summer. The idea being, that I will make a trip to the UK or Europe to catch a MotoGP and/or a World Superbike Round.

"A good long ride can clear your mind, restore your faith, and use up a lot of fuel." - Anon

Keep the rubber side down!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Falling Foul of the Monkey


It is a about time I come clean and share my experience with Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon).

As you will have guessed from the tone of my previous posts I have been very impressed with the Ubuntu OS since moving over (completely) a few months ago. So it was with great excitement that I began the upgrade to Gutsy.

The upgrade itself was bit of a struggle, but this was to be expected as everyone wanted to upgrade at the same time. My specific problem was that half way though (about 400MB) my connection would go down for some reason. After the second time this happened I decided to download 'alternate' version, basically a CD-ROM image designed to upgrade computers not connected to the Internet. This worked first time.

With the newly burned CD (checked for integrity) I proceeded to upgrade 7.04 to 7.10. Like the first time I installed Ubuntu this went smoothly without any problems. Once complete I connected to the net and found another 110MB +/- of upgraded for my system. Again, no issues!

Then the big nasty surprise...compiz (the funky graphics) did not work. Trying to turn them on at any level was like watching paint dry. Everything was slow and sluggish. Worse, it still is! From what I can figure out from weeks of scouring the web my (and many others) graphics cards are likely to have been 'blacklisted', which means that there is a chance that compiz (in conjunction with other things) could cause a crash so the graphics do not worked until the problem is fixed. There is an option to by-pass this and use them anyway, but I have not risked that yet.

Other then the graphics everything works perfect. A few things have been streamlined and a few new handy GUI's have been thrown in. All-in-all, a very good package. My enthusiasm is slightly curbed because I do miss compiz. But with any luck one day there will be an update and my screens will be all bouncy again...I do love the bouncy!

Moving swiftly on, I still believe Ubuntu to be the best OS out there when you look at value for money...at 'FREE' it is simply unbeatable. The support that is provided by the Forums is brilliant, somebody seems to know how to figure out your problem. So stop wondering and give Ubuntu a try, you certainly have nothing to lose!

Open source for open minds!

Friday, 2 November 2007

Pilgrimage 2007


The annual pilgrimage is just 3 weeks away, the NEC Motorcycle & Scooter Show 2007 opens the doors to the public. The flights are booked and the tickets are somewhere in the post!

All the major manufactures are confirmed: Ducati, Royal Enfield, BMW, Honda, Hyosung, Benelli, Victory, Yamaha, CCM, Harley-Davidson, Triumph, Suzuki, KTM, Buell, Vectrix & Kawasaki.

There are also several new features to this years show, ensuring that it will always be fresh. It is also great to see the Italian manufactures back, missing last year due to the conflicting Milan and Birmingham show dates, hence the Birmingham Show being relatively late.

To anyone of you who can not make it I will be taking plenty of photo's that should end up on my Flickr page not too long after the pilgrimage, but they are no comparison to viewing, touching and even getting your leg over the latest (and some of the most expensive!) motorcycles available.

So if you can, get yourself some tickets!!!!

Keep the rubber side down and I will hopefully see some of you there.

Riding With Team Roberts

After entering into a competition I got an email today informing me that my name will be on the Team Roberts MotoGP bike for the last race of the season this Sunday!

By CLICKING HERE then select the 'Logo Left' sticker on the bike. A quick search with your PDF reader for 'KD' will find my place of the Team Roberts bike.

A big thank you to Team Roberts and with rumours that they may be switching to Ducati's next year...I just can not stand the wait.

Now get out there and win me some points!

Friday, 26 October 2007

900+ Miles and the 1st Service Over...

'Karma' (my Kawasaki) has been broken in.

It has been a relatively quick (& fun) process. Keeping the riding style smooth and relaxed has benefited us both. Giving me more chance to enjoy my journey while Karma will reap the benefits in the long term.

My first two bikes (both second hand) needed a fairly regular supply of oil. Yet over 900 miles and I have not needed to top up once, in fact, the level has not even moved! One cause of high oil consumption can be badly broken-in engines, as the mechanic was explaining to me today. If the engine has been abused, seals are damaged and thus oil escapes and gets burnt off. Then again, if you are too gentle and do not use the gears this can cause 'glazing', which I will not try to explain, but all seems perfect so far with Karma.

The gears were also much smoother after the service. The slightly clunky feel replaced by a much smoother action while she also feels more responsive in the lower gears. I also had the original bulbs taken out and replaced with 50% brighter bulbs due to the dark mornings and nights from now on, combined with twisty country roads!

Fuel consumption is also excellent, 900+ miles (or 1448km) cost me €60 (@ approx €1.10 p/l) which works out at about 26KM/L (or 60 mpg US, 72 mpg Imp). Remember I do most my commuting with the top and side cases attached, without those the fuel consumption should be even better.

I have yet to hear a bad comment about her looks. Kawasaki seems to have got the mix of looks and budget spot on. The indicators integrated into the fairing and the location of the exhaust are usually what surprises most onlookers. The only thing I would love to see is an immobiliser as standard, as with the higher priced Kawasaki's, this would be of enormous benefit.

She continues to impress me and has yet to give me a seconds trouble. We have a long weekend here now so I will let her have a well earned rest along with a wash and polish!

Keep the rubber side down...

Friday, 19 October 2007

Have Luggage...Will Travel



The Givi hard luggage is fitted...at last!

This ended up being some adventure and the most difficult of my accessories to fit. I originally just wanted the 2 side cases, as the single top box is never enough to meet my requirements. So imagine my surprise when I found out that you can not fit them without the top box rack. So, like it or not, an order was placed for the top box rack and a top box. Note Kawasaki may void your warranty if you mount a top box larger then the 'Monokey E370', so keep that in mind.

Once that hurdle was got over installation went well. I did have to buy an extra pair of M6 nuts & screws though since you have to relocate the rear indicator lights to make way for the pannier racks...as I said, do not expect this to be an 'easy' job. But time and allot of patience will see you through. As always, loosely fit all the parts before securing.

So, my bike is now fitted with the Givi 'Monokey Side V35' panniers & 'Monokey E370' top box. They look great, though the reflectors on them are more for show then anything else, so I am looking at getting some reflective tape to help increase their visibility. In operation they are simple to use, while you can leave your gear in relative security and away from the elements. Having 3 separate keys is a slight downside!

I am loving them, even though finally getting them fitted took some time. People have even commented that the bike looks like a sports tourer, which is cool! Next Friday she is booked in for her first service, so one more week of gentle riding...then maybe a trip down to Cork early next month.

As always...many more photo's on my Flickr page!

"For the truth is that I already know as much about my fate as

"It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end." - Anon


Always Use Lubricant!



I have fitted the Scottoiler MK7 Universal Kit & the optional Dual Injector.

Fitting is very straight forward. Though the instructions that come with products are very general, the Scottoiler website have guides available for specific motorcycle models, these are what I used for the installing of the Scottoiler to my Kawasaki ER-6F.

It is all very straight forward. The only awkward bit is getting to the rubber bung over the spigot for the vacuum connector, this is because you have to get behind the fairing. Other then that, I took my time, test fitted the location of the reservoir and tubing several times then fixed all securely when I was happy. Make sure you have no air in the pipes, this is the problem I had, re-primed a second time fixed it.

Highly recommended addition to your motorcycle. It will extend the life of your chain & sprockets, also no messy chain lube that flings and washes off...also once less thing to worry about knowing that your chain is always well lubed.

Keep the rubber side down!

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Congratulations!

What a year for motorcycle racing! The World Superbike and British Superbike Championships are over, while MotoGP has 2 more rounds, though the championship has already been won.

So, congratulations to:
  • Casey Stoner, AUS, Ducati Marlboro, 2007 MotoGP Champion
  • James Toesland, GB, Ten Kate Honda, 2007 WSBK Champion
  • Ryuichi Kiyonari, JPN, HM Plant Honda, 2007 BSB Champion
These are the 2nd championship titles for JT (2004, 2007) and Kiyo (2006, 2007). While Stoner in only his 2nd year of MotoGP, the 1st year of 800cc bikes, manages to comfortably win the title. Ducati's 1st MotoGP championship!

Now JT will be in MotoGP next year on one of Yamaha's satellite teams, with many hoping he will end up taking Rossi's ride in 2009!? While Kiyo takes JT's place with Ten Kate in WSBK. Stoner's domination of the MotoGP championship has caused many waves, with talk of maybe just one tyre manufacturer for next year (a control tyre, like in WSBK), or maybe a relaxation in current regulations.

Who knows? In fact, I just want next year's season back on TV as soon as possible. WSBK, in my opinion, was the best championship to watch this year. BSB second, mainly due to ITV's very 'interesting' viewing schedule, while MotoGP was hurt simply by the runaway success of a very talented rider, backed by a relatively small factory team.

If next year has half as many surprises as this year then it really can not come quick enough.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Ermax Mudguards Fitted



The Ermax mudguards have been fitted, front and rear, with very little trouble. Here is a brief summary.

The easiest, in my opinion, is the rear hugger. Simply follow the instructions that come with the hugger and job should be done in 10 mins. Basically, you remove the chain guard (to be placed safely away for future use). Then remove the rear suspension nut. Slide in the rear hugger. Make sure your happy with the position, then refit all the nuts & screws you removed (gently, over tightening will damage the hugger). There, now you should have a sexy looking rear hugger!

Now the front mudguard extension...this I was tempted not to do after reading the instructions, but then decided to do it my way. Basically, I would recommend you remove the front mudguard all together and do the work on a bench. I marked a line about 10mm up from the bottom lip, then measured in from each side about 30mm, then 40mm. At these points I 'very carefully' drilled 2mm holes. Then I test fitted the extension, marked out the corresponding holes, drilled again. Then I fitted the extension with the adhesive strip (supplied) then secured with the self-tapping screws (supplied). Now slip back into position and job done!

Head to my Flickr page for more close-ups.

Keep the rubber side down.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

The Politics Test...My Results!

You are a

Social Liberal
(60% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(38% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Centrist (38e/60s)










Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Friday, 5 October 2007

If You Have The Time, I Have The Ride...


Today I collected my stunning new Kawasaki ER-6F.

Was this the motorcycle I originally wanted...no. I had intended to get her twin, the ER-6N, but after some hurdles (and maybe some pragmatism?) I 'settled' for the ER-6F. Now I have never liked the term 'settled' (think, 'settled down') as it seems to imply that you have not gotten what you wanted and have settled for the next best thing, if you were lucky!

I felt like that initially. Sure, I told myself I had the benefit of the fairing and it would make my year-round riding that more comfortable. Since I have never had the benefit of a screen before, yet alone a full fairing, I could only see it as a good thing. But good is an understatement, it really does make a vast difference on open roads. Getting off the motorcycle I felt great, no battling wind-blast, just a relatively relaxed ride.

Now I can appreciate what touring riders are talking about when they get into that 'bubble' behind their screen. I doubt their is very little comparison between my little fairing and a full on tourer, but I am loving it.

The ride is very smooth and she is very forgiving. I have been a bit sloppy with my clutch on some low-speed manoeuvres, but she has not complained. I will make up for it by giving her a nice soapy bath and a coating of Scottoiler FS 365, all should be forgiven. The hardest aspect of owning a new motorcycle has to be the break-in period. The dealer has told me to keep it below 6,000rpm for the next 800Km, then bring her in for the 1st service. With commuting each day that should be within a month...then I can really start to explore both of our limits.

I also had the dealer fit some crash bungs and an alarm/immobiliser, they should help put my mind at ease when I take her out for a spin. Also will be posting pictures of my Scottoil and Ermax accessories I have fitted, so keep an eye on my Flickr page. All in all, I think I got the better looking sister of the pair and she will even be easier to live with. What more could I want?

Time for me to return to the garage and take in the beauty of my mistress...

Thursday, 4 October 2007

The Return

I am happy to announce that all has been sorted out and my return to two wheels will be tomorrow morning!

Admittedly, I had my doubts, this has been a rollercoaster of an experience over the last few weeks trying to get the bike, returning to education, trying to get into some sort of routine and the added complication of chasing buses and trains...today alone 2 people commented on how tired I looked. Though stressed would probably be more accurate.

So...within 24 hours you loyal viewers should be treated to photos of my new 'mistress', while over the coming weeks I will post follow-ups on the modifications I intend to carry out. Those currently on my 'to-do' list being:
  • Fitting a Scottoiler (with Dual Injector)
  • Rear Hugger (From Ermax)
  • Front Mud-Guard Extension (From Ermax)
  • Givi Panniers & Top Box
Plenty for me to cut my knuckles on while I do some bonding and of course the mandatory test ride after making even the slightest of adjustments!

Keep the rubber side down.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Tick...Tock...Tick...

Well, for 5 weeks now I have been without a motorcycle!

Funding for my new bike was required, so out with the old. The dealer told me that in 2 weeks my new bike would be ready for collection...

Then the manufacturer announced the model was being updated, so the '07 model was no longer available, but the '08 would be available in 2 weeks...

Now the dealer is pointing fingers at the manufacturer while I am being told to wait another working week. At the end of which, some 6 weeks will have gone by.

This has not been an easy process, chasing salesmen and waiting for answers. None of which have actually helped. All I know is that public transport is not the best for commuting from the country to the North side of Dublin. I am tempted to start naming & shaming, but I will bite my tongue for "5 more working days", after which I may suggest somewhere to place my as yet undelivered bike.

This is the first time I have tried buying a 'new' bike. After the initial excitement I am now frustrated, while public transport burns a hole through my pocket. I certainly can not imagine it is this difficult for everyone. I only have a motorcycle license, so being without hurts my social and work (now University) life...you really do not realise how much you miss something until it is gone.

The clock is ticking...

Friday, 28 September 2007

It's Brewing Up


Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) Beta is available to download from today, with the final version due for release October 18th.

What does Gutsy Gibbon do better then Feisty Fawn? Well the complete outline can be found by CLICKING HERE. The most exciting (for me) is the installation of 'Compiz' as standard for handling 3D Desktop effects. Many of us using Ubuntu have installed this already, but you have to jump through a few hoops to get there. Now with an official supported version, Ubuntu has almost arrived as a genuine option to other mainstream operating systems.

I say "almost", because there are still a few little problems that need to be solved via the Terminal, which will always scare people off who are not confident in their abilities. Though it is not as bad as it seems, it is still something completely new that needs to be learned.

I have not seen any reference to better mobile/PDA/Smartphone support, so I will wait and see. This is still my ONLY major complaint with Ubuntu. It is really a struggle to sync your data (I still have not got it working!). Though that will never be enough to move me back to Win-Doh's.

By the way, just in case you are thinking that you will have to wait 5 years for the next latest & greatest version of Ubuntu...how does 6 months sound? Every 6 months we get the latest version of the best OS out there. So the 'Hardy Heron, Ubuntu 8.04' will available in April 2008. As an added bonus it will be offered with LTS (Long Term Support) with security support & updates for 5 years. As opposed to 18 months with the standard versions.

It looks like sooner, rather than later, there will very little stopping all computer users coming over to an OS that just works.

Ubuntu, Linux for human beings.

Friday, 21 September 2007

3 Reasons To Buy A Honda




Every two years we get the treat that is the Tokyo Motor Show. At this the various manufacturer's have a bit of fun and release their concept bikes...the sort of things we wish they would make!

The catch being, the models that they do decide to develop end up being very tame versions of these concept bikes. This years new Suzuki B-King for example. Also note, the B-King was shown as a concept bike in 2001, so development can take some time. The next major concept bike planned for release is Suzuki's Stratosphere, but time will tell if this 180bhp, 1100cc, 6 cylinder machine makes it to the dealers. The technology and rider aids that could be going into it would make it an impressive motorcycle.

So that is the old, here is the new. MCN have posted photo's on their website, CLICK HERE, of Honda's 3 latest concept bikes that will be at the Tokyo Motor Show next month. The Evo6 is a "naked" Goldwing (YES, a NAKED Goldwing!). Then we have the new CB1100F, a very cool retro looking bike, & CB1100R, the racing version of the same bike. I would love to have any (even all 3) in my garage!

But then again, as previous experience has shown, if these are developed for the road, then they may not be what we are looking at today. Then again you never know or as Honda would like to say "The Power of Dreams"...

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

The Dead Poet Is Alive

KD has finally been brave enough to add the new The Dead Poet link in the "KD's Web" section.

Having always intended to use the web log as a place to post his work's (re: poems) but could never bring himself around to doing it. Finally though, here it is.

A word of warning, most of what you will find in there will be more dark than light.

Welcome to the dawn...

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Tidy Biker's?

Believe it or not it is possible to be a tidy biker.

While reading MCN a few weeks ago I saw an advert for the "Biker Tidy". For some time I have been looking for a solution to what do do with my gear once it is off. The wet weather we have been having keeps reminding us why we need a good place to hang gear to dry out, while also looking somewhat respectable.

Over the years I have seen similar products on several websites but none seemed to meet all my requirements. The main one's being, it would have to be able to handle two full sets of gear while still allowing them adequate room to breathe. Also be sturdy enough for everyday use.

So after going to the Biker Tidy website (click here) I took as good a look as I could. It looked substantial and sturdy and the price very reasonable...so I made the phone call.

Approximately one week later the box arrived and out it came. My first impression was how big it is, which was a good surprise. It certainly is a good quality bit of kit. But here is my only complaint...the packaging. The cardboard box which it had been sent over in had taken a beating and some parts inside had the paint damaged. Nothing a touch up did not fix, but it is a shame that such a well built product suffers because of the final hurdle of getting it out to the customer. If anyone here thinks about getting one I would suggest you ask for it to be well packaged.

The only thing they do not supply is the drill & screwdrivers. Every other fitting is in there and the job is straight forward. As always, leave everything loose and mock-up before tightening. Also included in the price are one-piece suit hanger (x1) , jacket hangers (x2) & trouser hangers (x2). Everything is built to carry motorcycle gear, so big & strong.

I have some photo's on my Flickr page so you can see it in action. Overall, a great addition for your gear and well worth investing in, especially when you consider the cost of your gear and the job it is supposed to do!

Keep the rubber side down...and the gear off the ground

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Back To School

OK...as a Mature Student!

Back to school nonetheless! Fees paid, registration complete, now just to collect my student card. So this week I have spent my first few days being introduced to University life at Dublin City University. It did it's job of putting all our (mine and my fellow mature students) fears to rest, just to be replaced by the very daunting path that is in front of us.

Next week we will be lost among the chaos and disorder of the 'CAO kids'. That is when things will really start getting interesting I imagine.

All-in-all I am really looking forward to the next few years. I have no idea of what to expect, but if I use the people that I have met the last few days as a gauge, then I have certainly found myself among a very good bunch.

So I have said "hello" to this new path, I hope that the path is ready for me.

If nothing else, things change.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Welcome To The World of Tomorrow

France has just joined the growing list of Western governments that have suffered cyber attacks. Over the last several weeks the USA, UK and German governments have all been attacked in a similar way by cyber saboteurs trying to test information technology defenses.

"We have indications that our information systems were the object of attacks, like in the other countries," the Secretary-General of National Defence (SGDN) Francis Delon said, confirming the reports which have appeared on the news.

Though Russia have been accused of attacking their neighbours in recent months, the source of these latest attack on western governments seem to be China.

"We have proof that there is involvement with China. But I am prudent. When I say China, this does not mean the Chinese government. We don't have any indication now that it it was done by the Chinese People's Liberation Army," Francis Delon added.

China has robustly denied having anything to do with these attacks. "Saying that the Chinese military has made cyber attacks on the networks of foreign governments is groundless and irresponsible and are a result of ulterior motives," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.

China has been openly developing a significant cyber warfare cability and has previously stated it intends to establish electronic dominance over it's rivals by 2050. Currently they have a cyber police force of approx 25,000 monitoring their own citizens.

The Pentagon has also recently released details that it had been attacked from "states and non-state-owned organisations."

The German weekly Der Spiegel reported that espionage programs traced to the Peoples Liberation Army of China had been detected in computer systems at Chancellor Angela Merkel's office, the foreign ministry and other government agencies in Berlin without identifying its source.

This seems to be a glowing endorsement of the 5th Generation Warfare in it's infancy. A world were 'nets & jets' will largely prove the most effective means of defense and offense.

A Sobering Thought

Posted on Defense and the National Interest are August 2007 Coalition/NATO Dead In Iraq and Afghanistan, over 120.

Over the last 12 months alone that brings the figure to 1,396.

I will make a point of trying to keep this updated. Many may debate the reasons why they are out there, but that does not change anything. These men & women are still out there doing their duty. Though they are suffering more then ever.

Many have commented that this could drag on for another half century. Happy coincidence then that the oil reserves will be pretty low by then in the Middle East...sorry, I keep forgetting, it is NOT about the oil.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Nolan N102 Photos Posted

If you go to my Flickr page (link to the left) you should now find a few photos of the Nolan N102. I know, I really must get better using a camera!

Hope you enjoy.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Gear Update, Nolan N102

The first piece of my gear has arrived, aptly, the helmet.

It is a Nolan N102. A flip-front (or modular) helmet, with an external sun-shield and special slots to add a Nolan intercom/bluetooth system in the future. That is basically the guts of it. I will not go into much more. Instead I would like to refer you to the site that helped me make up my mind, please CLICK HERE for the webBikeWorld review.

Now I was never sure with flip-fronts. I wear glasses and the benefits should be obvious but most flip-fronts fitted me in such a way that I still had to move my glasses or simply did not suit my head type. The second I tried on the Nolan it was a perfect fit. No messing or tweaking. Just on and close! As for the safety compromise? As long as the helmet is shut is there really any? The helmet meets all the required European standards and at least one review I read had been written by someone who had crashed face first into the ground and the helmet did it's job.

Weight has been commented on. Yes, a flip-front will always be heavier then a full-face, but the N102 has been noted as having a bit more weight. Once on though it is not very noticeable, not to me anyway, there was no pulling of neck muscles when I moved my head or anymore fatigue then normal. Worse case I either do get a shore neck at some stage or my neck muscles start to look like a WWE "actor"! The venting seems to do the job (only my glasses have fogged during heavy breathing) and the quality is without question. Do not forget Nolan's 5 year guarantee!

The colour is black. I know, from a safety point of view white is the better choice, but just wait until you see the rest of my gear! That and I am sick of cleaning off marks. Anyone remember my "old" silver helmet? So the black was chosen with little hesitation.

So yes, I am very happy with this purchase. With the rest of my gear expected over the next two weeks I wait impatiently for men bearing gifts!

Keep the rubber side down.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Ubuntu Update

The switch to Ubuntu has gone well, though not perfect!

I have tried out different versions (Kubuntu) but have come back to Ubuntu, preferring it's look and feel.

My main issues with the Ubuntu operating system is that I miss not being able to sync my mobile phone contacts and calendar with my computer. Not an essential, but it is something one would expect. There are a number of options to get this to work but I can not seem to get them too. Then there are some which are just over my head!

Other then that all has gone well and I have yet to experience a crash or major fault. Yes, my Internet browser has "frozen" on a few occasions but once restarted I have been able to restore the session, thus not losing any work. Evolution also seems to refuse to send email via my Gmail account! Yes, I have tried ALL the forums, still no luck. Receives without a problem. Hopefully this will be soon fixed.

So I am still being impressed by how versatile the OS is and I am learning something new everyday. Not having to worry about virus's or other little nasties is also a huge benefit. With the added benefit of saving even more €'s.

The release of the next Ubuntu version (Gutsy Gibbon, in October) will promise even more advances that windows users will be lucky to see before a Vista replacement and the purchase of top-of-the-line computers.

For those wondering these are the main programmes I run:
Internet Browser: Swiftfox
Email/Contacts/Calendar: Evolution
Music Player: Amarok
CD Ripper: Sound Juicer
DVD Player: Totem
Office Applications: Openoffice.org suite
Security: ClamAV & Firestarter
Instant Messenger: GAIM

Thanks to the Synaptic Package Manager you have a MASSIVE selection of programmes to choose from. All free to download and use, no catch. So you can tailor your OS to your needs/wants without spending a fortune on stuff you might not like or leaving your details all over the web!

Oh...it also looks ice cold!

Get Geared

My motorcycle gear is in the process of being replaced, so over the coming few weeks my new gear should be arriving and then I will start giving you all a review of the stuff over however long it lasts! With the summer (what summer?) almost gone the weather will only start getting worse from now on. That and in a few weeks I will be starting a whole new commute as I return to University as a mature student!

I also hope to include pictures of the gear on my "Flickr" page, you will find the link on the left hand side of this page. Hopefully you will find some of this usefull or even give you a taste of other manufacturers gear.

Now when does that first delivery arrive?

Monday, 20 August 2007

Red Dawn

Is that a bear I see on the sea? Might not be as crazy as it sounds. The Russian Navy has announced that it will be completely overhauling itself, or as Commander of the Russian Navy Vladimir Masorin said “that the state pays much more attention to its Navy”.

What does this mean? Well, the intention is that within 20-30 years the Russian Navy should have two aircraft carrier strike groups, each with 3 aircraft carriers so that "One ship will be in the sea, the second will be ready to replace it and the third will be at the base", the Commander explained. Each ship is expected to carry about 30 aircraft and approx 50,000 tonnes.

Russia is not intending on matching the US Navy in carrier strength, it has much different requirements. So we see the construction of new naval base on the Pacific on the Kamchatka Peninsula for surface vessels, SSN and SSBN facilities. It is due to be open by the end of 2010 and cost an estimated US $350 million. Together with new a base at Novorossisk for the Black Sea Fleet (BSF) complete by 2012.

At the end of June we saw the test-firing of a new generation of SLBM (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile) from one of the three surviving Typhoon Class SSBN. These missiles will be fitted to the new Borey Class SSBN. The test missile is reported to have successfully struck it's target some 6,000km away.

Russia has been using Cold War tactics and flying long-range bombers into NATO airspace. Last month RAF Tornadoes intercepted two Russian bombers off Scotland, while in recent weeks aircraft have been reported flying near to US Airspace.

All this is hot on the heels of Russia's stated claim on the hydro-carbon reserves under the Arctic shelf, never mind that Russia has oil reserves second only to Saudi Arabia. Canada is contesting Russia's claim and has announced they will build at least two new naval bases in the North of Canada to back up their claim. Of course the USA will throw their hat in, but have more pressing issues at the moment. Though Canada's claim may be sincere, Russia is not known for backing down, so maybe a more pragmatic approach should be considered!

Russia is still also very annoyed over the construction of the US Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) system on their doorstep. Accordingly they have pulled out of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, which set a limit on conventional forces on the European continent. This will allow Russia to build up it's armed forces. Oh, let's not forget, they also said that they will re-target its nuclear tipped ballistic missiles on Western cities once the US ABM goes on-line in several years. Down to Lidl to buy our NBCR (Nuclear Biological Chemical Radiological) suits then!

Well, if you have children I would suggest they take English, Russian, Hindi/Urdu and Mandarin Chinese. They should be well-prepared for the future world order.

“Peace - In international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.”
-The Devils Dictionary 1911

Saturday, 18 August 2007

One Night Alone

So it was just after midnight as I walked out into the warm air of Greenwich...well the air felt warm, it may have just been me still on a high. Once again I had been lucky enough to spend a night with probably the major role model of my youth...Prince.

If you have not heard, he has set up shop in London's O2 (formally The Millennium Dome) for 21 nights. His only European dates this year. In fact, he intends to take time off for "Bible Studies" once this is over. Though just what he considers time off is a whole other matter!

The concert kicked off around 2050 and was all done at around 2300. He provided the audience with a brief taste of almost 30 years of hits, with tunes from 1978 to 2007! This did feel like a "greatest hits" tour and for all of those in the crowd he delivered. Treating us to music the way it should be heard and presented. Again, for most he gave them the hits they wanted and a show only he could put on.

I liked it...maybe that is the problem...I just liked it. I knew what I was going to see, a chance to see all those tunes that I play over and over again, but live, by the artist himself. I was 9 when I got my first Prince album and never looked back...neither did he though. He made music on the cutting edge and was rewarded and suffered accordingly. Books have been written on this so I will not delve any deeper. At one stage he asked the audience would they like to hear something new or old? I was probably the only person to say new!

You see, walking away from that concert it really struck me how things have changed. Prince the pervert is gone, seemingly replaced by Prince the preacher! Gone is the rawness, hearing "TMBGITW" followed by "Pussy Control" and "Orgasm" while he changes suits! If the above means nothing to you then maybe you are the lucky ones. Instead you will maybe hear the clean version of "Days of Wild", but maybe never realise the gritty original that spawned it. I knew the words to almost every song that was played...10 years ago that would not have happened!

If you get a chance to see this man live, GO! I insist, we all have memories associated with his tunes. The show is great, the band is perfect, the dancers sexy and singers superb! Prince...well, he is the Artist!

But spare a thought for those of us who come out and stand in the still night air, those words we are saying over and over again are not song lyrics, and our eyes are glazed over for good reason...

Prince is dead...Long Live Prince...

(All the above is thanks to time & effort of one very special person, she knows who she is!)

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

On The Box

The Enemies Of Reason, Part 1

Monday, August 13th, 8pm, Ch 4

I believe the second part will be shown the following Monday (20th August). This has been made by the same people that did "The Root Of All Evil" and is again presented by Richard Dawkins.

The truth is out there.

Back On The Block

Just back from a brief trip to where I spent most summers growing up. Staying with family and generally having a relaxing and fun time. It was also my first opportunity to drive on the roads in the UK for some time. Almost all my previous trips over the last few years there was no cause, but I was lucky (unlucky?) enough to get some solo time on a motorcycle.


I really was taken back at how much things have changed on the roads. The only time I saw police was for a parade going through the town on Sunday, but out on the roads...speed camera's of various flavours seemed to be on every corner. It was unbelievable. The amount of money that must have been invested to undertake such a thorough saturation on the roads must be ridiculous. Money that should be going into traffic police, training schemes for bad drivers, better roads...the list is endless.


Of course the counter argument is that they make the roads safer and the money they raise is...well I have not seen were all that money goes, maybe I should consider a freedom of information act request? Safety? I am not sure, in many areas speed cameras have led to road fatalities going up, in one county by 100%! Imagine that. If a drug manufacturer brought out a drug and there was a 100% increase in patients dying it would be off the market in a second.


Also, more often then not, you would see people staring, not just glimpsing, but staring at their speedometer as they went through towns trying to watch their limit. Is there any wonder that the minimal reduction of road fatalities over the last 5 years has flattened out. The building of new cameras and introduction of more advanced units just will not bring down road accidents and deaths any further, just catch more tax paying citizens.


There is the ironic situation that if the majority of us were less speed inclined then the camera's would not be able to pay for themselves...funny how we are now seeing more and more special speed limits in some very unusual places. Forget the 20mph in a town, 40mph on a dual carriage way, fully lighted and with traffic lights at the end! What is going on? If the driver test standards are so low that any idiot can get on the road maybe the government should be trying to prevent rather then cure?


Anyone serious about making roads safer and reducing fatalities knows that road engineering is the key. Not “quick-fix” cameras. Roads need to be improved vastly. A country (if not European) wide introduction of genuine road classification and scoring. With top scores being reserved for the best and latest techniques. If name and shame techniques is good enough for the government to use against citizens, then they can have a taste of their own medicine. That way traveling from one country to another will allow the driver/rider a reasonable expectation of what to expect. I was genuinely surprised to be riding in the Liverpool area and constantly finding road quality less then my country road in Ireland.


Government needs to stop thinking about how to get more money out of us, but to start trying to make out lives better. We elect representatives, not shareholders!

Better Late Then Never (Original Posting 29th July 2007)

On 25th July 2007 the UK government announced they are providing funding for the purchase of 2 new aircraft carriers, the HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, which are expected to launch in 2012 and 2015 respectively, with in service dates of 2014 and 2016.

The new design, refered to as CVF (or Aircraft Carrier Future) will displace approx 65,000T and have an overall length of 284m. It will be conventionally powered, though the power plant has yet to be decided. This will make them the largest vessels ever operated by the Royal Navy and the largest aircraft carriers in Europe. The French Charles de Gaulle nuclear powered carrier currenty holding that title. On a global scale, the USA CVN's and Russia's own Admiral Kuznetsov being larger.

The vessel will be built with a ski-jump forward and should carry up to 36 of the new F-35B JSF. The “B” version being the Short Take Off & Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant of the design which is being purchased by the US Marine's, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force to replace the Harrier. The vessels are being designed in such a way that in the future the ski-jump can be removed and catapults installed (probably the upcoming magnetic type in the next US Navy's CV(X) design) giving the vessel the ability to operate conventinal take off and landing aircraft (CTOL). The size of the flight deck (some four acres) will allow for a standard landing strip to be incorporated. The size also allows for larger aircraft to be operated, since the vessels will have a 40-50 year life, this is an obvious requirement.

The design differ's from standard carriers since it has a “split-island”. An Island forward for navigation and an Island aft for air traffic control. The aircraft on board will be capable of up to 110 sortie's per 24 hour period, including night operations. With a maximim launch rate of 24 aircraft in 15mins and the ability to recover 24 aircraft in 24mins. There is a requirement for an Airborne Early Waring (AEW) aircraft but no design has been picked yet.

The contract signed is for a value of £3.8 billion and up to 10,000 jobs are to be created. Also of note is that there are no ship yards in the UK capable of dry-docking these vessels, with the exception of Harland & Wolfe in Belfast, the largest dry dock in the world. This issue is yet to be addressed. A naval vessel spends only about 40% of it's life at sea it would seem prudent to come to a decision sooner rather then later.

With the UK's armed forces being woefully under funded and over stretched one must question has the RN the ability to support these vessels? With a fighting navy of less then 27 ships (with only 9 available for service at any one time) this new announcement, though very welcome, seems to lack any sort of overall long-term vision. With the rest of the world developing naval forces to punch well above their weight, or strategic requirements, particularly in Asia, Europe's navies are lacking.

This year is the 25th anniversary of the Falklands conflict, it took a naval force of 29 warships (of which several were damaged/destroyed) to retake a few small islands. There is no doubt the UK's armed forces would try if a similar conflict arose, but at what cost?

Further reading:

  • http://www.naval-technology.com/projects/cvf/
  • http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/europe/cvf.htm

Is That You? (Original Posting 27th July 2007)

If you get your hands on this weeks MCN (Motorcycle News) newspaper (Wednesday July 25th, 2007) you will find I have been printed in the letter section.

For anyone who is counting that is the second time this year.

Keep the rubber side now!

It Was On My List... (Original Posting 24th July 2007)

At long last, you will now be able to view the photos I took at the Birmingham NEC Motorcycle and Scooter Show 2006. With the next show on 23rd November until 2nd December this should give you a reason to get a ticket.

I also included the photo's I took at Mondello Park in June at the British Superbikes Round. You will notice that these photo's are not the best, my fault, picked a great spot to watch the racing but it was an awful place to take photo's. Hopefully next year you will get a better selection.

At the very least check out the NEC photo's...if you do not already have a bike you should want one by time you are finished looking through them.

Enjoy, http://www.flickr.com/photos/victor9098/

A Taste of Ubuntu (Original Posting 22nd July 2007)

At the start of last week the CD-ROM I had been waiting for came through the letter box, Ubuntu 7.04. Now I had promised myself not to get too excited...just put it on the shelf and wait until I can get my hands on a cheap laptop to run it on.

We must have it...our Precious...


Later that evening I popped the CD into my laptop, just to run the Live CD. Basically this allows you to dip your feet and get the "feel" of the OS, while also allowing you to see any potential conflicts. I had two straight away, both my modems. So a quick Google and solutions were found for both. But I took out the CD and just said no...not yet.

Kill the dirty, smelly hobbit...

The next day as I watched my OS "blue screen of death" and counted the dump process a bolt of lightening hit me (or was it a whiff of Ubuntu?), "this is why I ordered the damn thing!". So in went the CD, booted up into the Live CD and hit "Install". About 25-30mins later my previous OS was gone...or so I hoped. You see I was raised with the Graphical User Interface (GUI)...or point and click...the last time I inputted a line of code was when I had my C64! So after realising that I had not a clue of how to install the modem fixes I had to dig out my windows back up, reinstall, go onto the web, the GREAT people in the Ubuntu forums guided me through the process, reinstall Ubuntu and 3 hours later I had written (probably Ver 9999.9) my first config file and then it was "Welcome to the world of tomorrow"!

My Precious...it is just us now...My Precious...


So here I am, my first blog post with my new OS. Yes, some teething pains. But that is mainly due to not understanding fully how the system works (me man...no need instruction manual!?). Average and new user should easily learn it though. All the software is here, you just get it differently. The great thing is, as I have seen through the forums, you can make this look and feel however you want. To a degree that you would never have imagined (there are even Christian, Muslim and Satanic versions of Ubuntu!).

The Ubuntu community...where do I begin? Let me put it like this, you could compare them against the other OS communities with this, "When other Generals make mistakes their armies are beaten; when I get into a hole, my men pull me out of it" -The Duke of Wellington after Waterloo


I will never be a poster boy for Ubuntu, I do not want to write pages of code tweaking the system, but you will find that somebody has already done what you are wishing for and then made it 10 times better! I just want an OS that just works. I look forward to telling people all about my new OS and hopefully getting them to try. Let's face it, for the price you just simply can not complain...what is the cost? FREE! Yip, you just spend time on it and you will find yourself having much more of that. My boot up has gone from 8-9mins to 30-40secs! That and I have yet to experience a "crash".

Yes, tweaking is required. Not just of the system, but you must also recalibrate your mind. Once you start getting used to it you start realizing, "this makes sense". Or put a better way, open-source is for the open-minded. With that attitude the limits of the OS will be defined by you.

You never know...I might make poster boy yet!

Are Speed Cameras Robocop? (Original Posting 17th July 2007)

The EU courts have ruled that, in the UK at least, drivers of vehicles DO NOT have the right to silence. Since driving a vehicle is considered so dangerous, the right of silence is waived...but If I rob a bank with an AK47, maybe even shoot a few people, I have the right to silence!? One must be left wondering if they just want to be seen to be listening and acting in the citizens interests. While actually doing the governments bidding, speed camera's have proven to be an excellent source of revenue.

Can a speed camera determine if a crime was committed? A crime that warrants points on your licence, fines, imprisonment & loss of livelihood. The most advanced computers in the world can only estimate what the weather might do. Is this the sort of technology that finds itself inside a speed camera? Does a speed camera have sensors to take weather conditions, road surface, traffic volume (pedestrian/cyclist/vehicle), the drivers condition, who is driving and so on, then take all this information and calculate if a crime was committed that warranted a penalty, then what that penalty would be?? If I rob a bank I must go through the justice system and I might even receive no punishment depending on the circumstances. Yet the amount of man hours and legal training to go through that process and arrive at a decision is completely ignored in respect to speed cameras.

Is it enough to be just travelling over the speeding limit? In some cases yes and in others no. That is the truth of it. No liberal minded citizen can claim otherwise. That is why the justice system exists, not to print out speeding "invoices" but to give the citizen, presumed innocent, an opportunity to defend their actions. Then to be judged by his peers with all the available information being taken into account. The speed camera might be able to add to this process but it should not replace it.

Speed camera's are here to stay, but the role they fill is wrong. The person issuing penalties and warning at the side of the road should be a fully trained and experienced police officer, no matter how questionable their attitude can be at times no speed camera can out perform them. What surprises me the most is that the police officers (and unions) are happy to watch experience get replaced by expedience at the cost of the police forces reputation and image. Yes, they fall back on the terrorist threat reason...but should traffic officers be hunting terrorists or the intelligence services? The UK has been threatened in this manner before and they never had speed camera's then. The cars that ended up in London city centre loaded with explosives were detected by an ambulance crew that thought it looked dodgy, the second had been towed away for parking violation! Is this not evidence alone that more "boots on the ground" will always out-perform a NIP (Notice of Intended Prosecution) in the post?

The courts may claim that we do not have the right to silence, but as a citizen we always have the right to be heard, especially when one of the key aspects of the justice system is being eroded. What we really should start asking and looking for who is listening to us and who is acting on our behalf?

Round Zero (Original Posting 5th July 2007)

The letter from CAO got jammed through the letter box this morning. Not that I was waiting for the letter...I was on the CAO website at 0600hrs to check and accept my offer. Funny experience that. They ask you do you want to defer for 1 year (no thank you) then they ask you are you sure that you want to accept the offer (YES Damn it!). At least they make sure that you can not make mistakes.

Not that the last few weeks have been without their drama. At least one letter that has been sent out from the institutions have caused me a degree panic. Which once I chased up was told to “disregard”. I do not know what annoys me more, getting the letter or being told I was just a mistake? Either way it is all over now.

Oh wait, what is this A4 sized envelope? Great, another booklet of an application and then with the digging up of original documents and making photo-copies to prove that you are alive and then to give this book of scripture up as a sacrifice to those that control this modern world...the wonder that is the bureaucrat.

At least it is official...I am a “mature” student. What have I done? Better..what have they done? I am going to taint a whole generation of bright young things.

At least I have managed to get back onto the road. I might just be taking baby steps, but after the last few years...I feel like I am walking on the moon, and YES, this is one giant leap for me.

The Revolution has begun...

Is a Social Europe What Citizens Want? (Original Posting 3rd July 2007)

Guess what? We do! This is a new topic under current discussion within the EU. After attending the latest Forum on Europe meeting in Dublin Castle last Thursday (28th June) I got to hear all about what we citizens of Europe want. Or that seems to be the initial findings of this intensive debate that went on with the citizens of the EU during the early months of this year.

All 27 member states convened a “National Consultation”, which took the form of focus groups, and a number of citizens from each state spent 2 days covering various areas of EU policy. Some 60 Irish citizens took part here and similar representative samples from each other member state.

Now, the transcripts of the speakers remarks were not available on the day (a first since I have been attending these meetings), but I was assured on the day that they would become available over the next few weeks. So I am waiting. But I still felt uneasy as I listened to what was said.

In general, the EU has tended not to get involved in social policy within the member states, instead that was left to the respective national governments. It would seem now that on the basis of these consultations the EU may be looking for a mandate to start playing a larger role in our lives. Forget the constant stream of health & safety regulations, the high levels of corruption in Brussels, the mountains of bureaucracy, etc., etc., etc...no Brussels might be getting involved in our family lives!

We have all seen the TV advert and heard the immortal lines... “This is going to be great!”

Come the end I found myself shaking my head and saying, NO, the citizens do not want an EU more involved in their lives by choice. It is more a case of citizens frustrated by the failings of their own national governments looking for other “service providers”. In fact, one of the speakers (Mr Gerrit Rauws, Director of the King Baudouin Foundation Belgium) pointed this out in his closing remarks. With any hope this voice of caution might curb Brussels enthusiasm to get involved in micro-managing our lives.

A better option, in my humble opinion, is for the EU to continue, maybe expand, it's role as being an ombudsman over the national governments. Giving the citizens a genuine fighting chance and delivering fair rulings. This way the EU will be able to become a source of hope for the citizen. By trying to step in and fix the problems national governments are unable (or unwilling) to fix they run the risk of either annoying the member states governments or disappointing the citizens by falling short or worse, failing on both counts.

Oh, in case you are wondering, a total of 1800 citizens were involved in the consultations, or approximately 0.000006% of EU citizens...so a while to go yet before it could be considered a serious mandate to move forward with...YET!

Having lost sight of our objectives we need to redouble our efforts” -Anon

Mozilla Firefox & Thunderbird with Ubuntu too!? (Original Posting 27th June 2007)

No, this is not a title from a Japanese monster or an independent film. In fact this is some new software I have been using for several weeks now.

Mozilla Firefox (Internet Browser)
Mozilla Thunderbird (Email Application)
OpenOffice (Full Office Application Suite)

These are completely FREE to download applications. Just go to their respective websites

After using them I have no complaints, they do exactly what they are supposed to do and I have yet to have a problem with any of them. Best of all, the support forums have a wealth of information. The Mozilla website has links for “add-ons” to the applications that are so diverse that I do not know were to start. Everything to make your browser look like Internet Explorer, Apple or fully pimped up trip from the 70's (got to be seen!!!)...there are endless extras covering all areas of your internet & email needs (& desires!). Did I mention it is all FREE?

OpenOffice has applications for text documents, spreadsheets, presentation, drawing & database. I can only talk about the text and spreadsheet applications as these are what I use 99% of the time, I would rarely, if ever, use the others. Again, I can not give them enough praise. Complete, fully functioning, with all the options, applications. This is really worth downloading and trying, especially if you are about to hand over €300/€400 for an office suite or upgrade. Did I mention it is all FREE?

I am spreading the word because that is the whole point. Download for free, pass it on to as many people as you can and shout it from the roof tops, there is a third way. The whole point of the internet to those who set it up was to be able to access information without limits or boundaries (the current internet, as opposed to the US armed forces original designed to survive a nuclear war). The people behind these applications are living in the spirit of this. The communities behind these projects deserve all the praise they can get for creating such first class software. These, I imagine, are mostly people who love doing what they are doing and it shows.

It is a shame the other's can not follow their example. At the end of the day premium rates should only apply to premium services!

I am so impressed that I am currently researching various LINUX based operating systems. At the moment Ubuntu (http://www.ubuntu.com/) is on the top of my list. I would just like to find out a little bit more before I take the plunge, the install process seems daunting to us graphical user interface crowd but I am prepared to learn so it is certainly on the cards in the near future.

Once more a HUGE thank you and well done to the creators & communities of Mozilla, OpenOffice and Ubuntu and to all those other providers. Without a doubt, you are the future.

Did I mention it is all FREE?

EU Constitution – RELOADED (Original Posting 26th June 2007)

So the “amended treaty” which was agreed last week IS NOT an EU Constitution because it makes no reference to things like an anthem, flag...basically anything that makes the EU look like an “United States of Europe”. So since it is just a treaty designed to tidy up existing legislation then we have no need to worry, no need to even consider something like a referendum on the matter.

That is a good solution for the politicians, but a bad call for the citizens. Already it has been commented by our own Mr Ahern that 90% of the original constitution is in this amended treaty, thus leading us further down the road of a more centralised EU with the governments in each state enacting and enforcing the legislation drawn up in Brussels.

The MEP's that sit in Brussels are elected there by us, the citizen, essentially through representative democracy. So, like any election, one should vote for the party or person who best represents one's own personal views. But, since the elections are dumbed down to the lowest common dominator, essentially how much cash you have in your wallet at the end of the weekend as a means to get re-elected, we end up with a government that does not represent our personal views but instead is acting like a corporation out to make the best profits at the expense of our long term interests.

This would be somewhat our own fault when it comes to the EU if the majority of us were voting, but guess what? We are not. For the EU elections in 2004 average turnout across the the EU was 45.6%, with lows of 21% in Poland and 17% in Slovakia! The first Nice Treaty that got voted against here by those following what was going on had a turn out of 35.4%. While the YES vote for the constitutional treaty in Spain had a massive 76.7% for - though only 42.3% of the people voted.

As can be seen, we have an EU moving forward not just with a large minority of people uninvolved, but with the MAJORITY of citizens uninvolved. Do you remember what the government had to say about the EU and enlargement and the increasing influence of the European Parliament during the last election...just last month...anybody?

I am increasingly worried about the centralisation of power ,never-mind any government believing it can micro-manage our lives from the other side of the country, let alone from Brussels. Government is supposed to be a tool for the people. Not a thorn in our side. If the best thing we can say about the EU is that they have built us some good roads, maybe we should take a longer harder look at what is going on. We all want free trade and travel, but has this really been achieved?

I take some comfort in one truth...centralised government in Europe has always failed. Every attempt in the past has fallen apart. Except for one...a King named Charlemagne united Europe under the banner of “The Holy Roman Empire”. He succeeded by not centralising Europe but by dividing up the various cultures in Europe, then making each country write down their laws and customs, thus leaving no doubt as to how they could work with one another and essentially letting them run themselves. The “civil service” buildings he constructed then to run this Empire are still used to this day in some parts of Europe...and that was the the latter half of the 9th Century AD! The Europe we know today and recognise on the map was largely of his creation.

But lets face reality...those who are pushing forward with the “United States of Europe” model are not doing it for the benefit of you and I, it is so this “U.S.E.” can sit at a table across from the future superpowers of the world (India, China, USA) and claim to have some influence. Most of us though can see that this influence is disappearing like sand through our fingers.

As Napoleon said, “Never disturb your enemy while he is making a mistake