Power outages in Mid Wales

This server is likely to suffer a little of the yo-yo mode because:

The power outages at the University today have been caused by a
problem with Manweb overhead equipment and has affected a large part
of west Wales (SY23, SY24 and parts of LL35 and LL36 postcode areas).
They currently have no information on how long it will take to resolve
the problem and until they do there is the likelihood of further power

Crossing borders with laptops

Next time you cross a border with your laptop, don’t be suprised if they want to examine the data on it.
Ars Technica have just posted an article about examination of data in the US at international airports and borders. Don’t think that you’re safe in the UK either – they’ve been doing it since at least 1998 as reported by the BBC

Nikon customer service are stars.

I sent the D70 off about two weeks ago to Nikon, and it took them a week or so to check it into the system. They told me that it would be probably five or six weeks before I would see it again. True I wasn’t being charged for the repair, even though the camera is out of warranty, but six weeks seemed to be an inordinately long time to be without my DSLR. :’-(

So how suprised was I when the neighbours came over tonight with a parcel conaining my Nikon, completely repaired. 😀
A quick couple of shots, and it turns on again, and responds to the controls again instantly, and the shots that I took are perfectly exposed.

Off to look at a boat with Dad tomorrow – so I’ll be able to take some photos. (P)

Happy 🙂

Fun with Google Earth

I got my GPS reciever back today, and in the car on the way home I thought that I’d put it to use, so a bit of wardriving with Kismac was in order. It appears to have been seriously updated since I last used it – you can now save the points directly to a file to load into Google Earth. Just with the PowerBook sat on the passenger seat, no external aerial it still managed to pick up a lot of access points, so I’ll take a different route through town tomorrow, and extend the survey – maybe when it’s a bit more complete I’ll actually upload it and share it with all of you out there in Aberystwyth.

I’ve also been mapping some of the places I visited in France, mainly where I took photos and such, and I’ll upload those when I’m done with them – I’m not sure if I can be bothered to map the whole route, but I’ve got all the overnight stops and that gives you a pretty good idea of how far I travelled.

France Photos

Well, I have finally got up all of the photos that I managed to take whilst in France. 2006france/DSC_1241.jpg (Click on the picture and it takes you to one of the photos in the album – there are about 90 photos there.)

Some are badly exposed because of the problems with the exposure mechanism in the D70, which is about to be posted off to Nikon UK for free repair.
I will write more about the trip later.

Murphy’s law

Well, I go off to France on the bike for a week, and what do you know, we have a thunderstorm, a power cut, and although I upgraded the server so that it comes up clean after a power cut, I forgot to set the BIOS to power on when power returns, so the server was offline for pretty much the whole of my trip.
I got back to Aberystwyth earlier today, and have just been in to switch the machine back on, and have remembered to change that BIOS setting and save it to CMOS so that it should come back up automatically again in the future.

Now I can upload some of the photos I managed to take with the D70 before it came down with the dreaded “flashing green light of death” – a support call to Nikon customer services is in order first thing Monday morning for a return authorisation.

I almost thought that I’d have no photos, as the CF card reader that we have at home doesn’t appear to work very happily with MacOS, and it corrupted all the photos that it brought across, so I ended up having to import them on Suzy’s windows laptop and put them onto the file server, and get them across to the Mac that way.

The journey home

Saturday morning, and I have to get the chain fixed. I phone Fowlers, and they almost laugh at the idea that I want a chain fitting – they’ve got no space for about a month in their workshop. They do give me a couple of other places I could try though – the first of which offers me a week on Monday, so I phone M R Motorcycles. “Sure, bring it down – we’ve got one on the ramp, but if you’re here in about an hour, we’ll put it straight on” That’s what I call service – I pop down and good as their word as soon as I pull up outside the mechanic wheels it stright in.
The front sprocket I’ve got on there is non standard – it’s a 15 point, and the standard is 14 – I have a 15 put back on, it makes touring easier – gives slightly longer legs between gears, the GSX1100 is renowned for having it’s ratios set too close together. The chain that is taken off is 120 link – and they’ve only got the standard 118 link in – not sure if that’ll fit with the larger front sprocket – I might have to go for the 14 after all, but it goes on fine, and my wallet is £166 lighter. They also had a lovely Norton Commando 850 in there for four grand, but I don’t think tha Suzy would ever forgive me.

Back to Suzy’s parents for some lunch, and the bike feels so much better for the new chain – the old one had started to wear itself against the swinging arm – the tyre will wait until I get back to Aber and Cambrian Tyres.

It’s tough getting back on the bike – I’m aching, and it’s the last leg, less than two hundred miles back home. Back on the M4, then as I turn off onto the A470 I see a brand new Ferrari at the lights in front of me. Now the GSX has a new chain on it, and I’ve filled the oil up again – this guy just can’t out accelerate me – I’m sure that if he kept the hammer down he would have got away easily as his top speed would be better than I could manage on the bike, but I can still do 0-60 in under 3 seconds, and I don’t care what car you have it simply can’t compete with that type of acceleration. He gets to Merthyr and turns off – I carry on over the Beacons, and stop at the biker caff on just after the summit – if you’ve ever been over the Brecon Beacons on the A470, you know where I mean – the big layby on the corner. A mug of good caff tea, and a natter with some guys up from Cardiff for a day out, and I’m back on the road home again.

Boy it’s good to be home, now where shall I go next year… I’ve learned a lot about touring on a bike – mainly take a couple of days off after a thousand miles riding, and take a mate or two with you – if anyone want’s to tour for a week or two next year, then drop me a line…

France Trip part 5

Friday 7th July 2006

Well, my gauntlets are still damp this morning, but at least the map has dried out, it’s a little wrinkled, but readable, and tha pages aren’t all stuck together this morning. It’s a realtivel early start, I want to take things easy today what with the state of the chain. Anyway, my train isn’t due to depart Calais until 22:30, so I’ve got loads of time. I phoned Suzy last night to see if she could find a guest houst or B&B somewhere near New Romney, so I’ll have to make sure that I phone her about lunchtime to find out if she’s booked anything yet.

I planned my route last night, and decided that I would definately avoid Paris – I don’t want to get caught up there again. so I head off towards Chartres on the N20 and N154. I spot the signs to Le Mans, but resist the temptation of going to visit, and carry on towards Dreux, Evreux and Rouen keeping to the N roads.

I’m getting overly obsessed with the noise that the chain is making now – it was so much nicer being unaware of it yesterday, but then again I’m probably overreacting. I have had a chain snap on me before though on my old CB250 – coming onto a roundabout the chain snapped, wrapped itself round the back axle, locked the back wheel, and I had to lay the bike down, ending up wih both the wheels touching the middle of the roudabout. Fortunately it was the roudabout at Llangurig, and not very busy, so I was able to pick the bike up and get out of the way before anyone else came to run me over. Anyway – I get onto the A28 at Rouen, Calais is already signposted, which is one of the first times I’ve seen a signpost for a large town this far away – I’d already memorised Abbeville, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Calais, and now I don’t need to remember those.

I follow the A16 all the way to Calais, and end up at the terminal a few hours too early – it’s 13:53 when I check in and get the hanger ticket, and I am offered the next departure – at this rate I’ll be back in Blighty by 14:00 (with the hour back).
There’s a reasonable amount of bikes around now, and I chat to a few of them as we queue. I meet a couple who have been down to Venice – it was too hot or them down there, and they came back and stayed with friends in France. It appears for a few minutes that only 3 out of the waiting 6 bikes are going to be allowed onto the train, but they manage to squeeze us all on.

Back in England – rememebr to drive on the left – I stop at the services and meet the same guys we shared the train with. Fortunately, when I phoned Suzy at lunch she hadn’t booked anything, so I’m heading to her parents in Bristol to spend the night. It takes an age to fight my way round the M25 – it’s so different to the clear motorways in France, and I remember that it’s Friday night and it looks like the whole of London is leaving the city on the way to their weekend houses in the Cotswolds, as the M4 is not much better than the M25.

I make it to Bristol about 17:30 – checking the mileage I’ve done exactly 2000 miles since 9:30 Monday morning, and boy does my bum know about it – my shoulders are also aching, too long stuck in one position. The bed feels good and I sleep well.

France Trip part 4

Thursday 6th July 2006

Carcassonne – reputedly the best preserved medieval walled city in the world. A UNESCO world heritage site. 2006france/DSC_1268.jpg I’m looking around at 7:30 in the morning, before the sun gets too high in the sky – it’s been really hot the last few days, and I wan to get a few miles under me before it gets too hot to ride. The camera takes a couple of photos, before the exposeures start going mad, so I’m on the road again.

The A61 to Toulouse is payage, so instead I decide to take the N113, and I’m riding through fields of sunfllowers. The camera is now completely dead, but I remember my mobile phone, knowing that Ben would be fascinated I snap off a photo of the sunflowers 2006france/DSC00011.jpg. The sun is up, but there’s a lot of mist around, and there’s a wonderful atmosphere to the landscapes shrouded in mist.

I join the motorway to skirt round Toulouse, and spot off to the left an Ariane rocket! My thoughts return to work, as it reminds me of Beagle 2, but I’m on the motorway, past it and into the toll booths on the A62 north to Montauban. The weather is somewhat overcast and every so often we get a light shower – not enough to need the waterproofs yet, but I take the opportunity to stop at a couple of rest areas take a drink, and let the bike cool off at bit as I climb up into the Pyrenees. Later into the morning I meet a group of four or five British bikers who have been down to Nice and they spent a few days on the beach down there, and were on their way back to Dieppe, but their ferry wasn’t due until Monday, so they can take it easy on the way back north. I’ve got to be in Orleans tonight to be in with a chance of catching my train back to the UK on time.

The miles roll past on the A20 through Brive-la-Galliarde, Limoges, Chateauroux, and before I know it I’m in Vierzon and I choose to take the N20 to Orleans – it’s been raining quite heavily for an hour or so now, and I can keep my own pace on the N road. The pace is slow, and at some points I simply have to stop – the rain is so heavy that I can feel it hitting me through the leathers and the waterproofs, and I can only see about twenty to thirty meters in front of me – thank goodness for laybays to be able to stop and let the cars pass me, and take shelter while the lightning strikes within half a mile.
The few miles up the N20 seem to take hours, but the rain finally eases shortly before Orleans, and as I stop to fill up with petrol, and get another litre of oil for the engine, the rain has all but stopped. I keep the waterproofs on for the last few miles, and manage to navigate myself to la Chapelle-St-Mesmin in the west siide of Orleans, and after a little while of randomly wandering around an industrial estate I find my way to the Formule 1. The gentleman on thhe desk is the first member of staff there that speaks passable english, although by now I’m starting to get used to hearing and speaking French.

I peel off my soggy gloves and waterproofs, note the mileage at 63153 – over 500 miles today. My fingers and toes are stained blue from the colouring in the gloves and boots – I really need the shower, and hang everything out to dry, including the map – I wasn’t quick enough with the tank bag cover a couple of times today. I’ve got to plan a route for tomorrow – I still haven’t forgotten my Paris experience, and I want to avoid that at all costs. The chain on the bike is looking a bit ropey, I take the last bit of adjustment up but it’s still lookser than I would have liked – I’ll have to take it gently tomorrow – see about a new chain in the UK.