Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sketchbook: The DIY Badger

Poor old Badger. Mrs Badger is at her mother's, and she wants that carpet down, and those skirting boards up by the time she gets back. Is it any wonder the DIY Badger is stressed?

Inspired by my daughter's Maths homework, on area and perimeter. (All the problems were based on Badger laying flooring in his rooms, centred around how much material he'd need to shell out for).

Took about 30 minutes (I think), drawn in a cheap A5 sketchpad from "The Works", with a 0.7mm Staedtler Mars Micro pencil.

(Sorry to anyone who saw this on Tumblr as well - this is a (better) scan rather than a cameraphone shot).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bikehacks: 5 Killer Looking DIY Bike Headlights

This entry is a Bike Hacks Classic, originally posted by Apple computer honk, Brendon

There are a TON of decent tutorials for building bike lights. can I put this gently...they are not all equally attractive. If you showed me two lights side by side and they had equal performance, I'd choose the pretty one every time. That's probably why I'm writing this on a Mac. Ahem.

Anyway, here's a quick look at five of the finest looking homemade bike lights on the web today. This is an admittedly subjective list, so feel free to smack me around in the comments if you think I've overlooked the BEST. LIGHT. EVAR.


Read More at Bikehacks

Bikehacks looks at 5 homebrew light setups - the article includes links to the original sources, should you fancy a go yourself...

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I Don't Care, Because You Do[1]

"Anyone who rides a bike is a friend of mine."

-Gary Fisher


If you hang around the cycling fora, or twitter for long enough, someone will pop up with set of kit dos and don'ts, offered with varying degrees of seriousness.

The Ur-Text of these is, of course, the bafflingly restrictive "Rules of the Eurocyclist" - (I actually rather like that one, it seems to be a tax on  credulity and elitism - I hope the originators of the rules get a kickback from the kit manufacturers).  This happens at the other extreme of the sport/utility divide, with the "normalisers" insisting that those not riding steel roadsters, whilst wearing "normal"[2] clothes are making cycling less attractive, and less safe for everyone else.


There are things that matter to me in cycling.  Are you a skilful rider? Can you look ahead and anticipate and read the road? Do you ride like an idiot around other road users?  These are important things, because they affect your safety, and mine.  To a lesser degree, I'm impressed by people that can repair their own/other people's bikes[3], build wheels, beat me up hills, outpace me on the flat - but not to the degree that I'm dismissive of those who can't. We all start somewhere, after all - and starting at all in our car centric, exercise is for gyms, society matters.

"Does your kit match" and "Does your bike cost more than mine" (it probably does), have never been things I've looked upon as denoting the worth of a fellow rider, or of particular import.  It's an irrelevance, and thus something I find it hard to care about.  "Sure, he can build a nice wheel, but good lord, he can't accessorise."

Round the world cyclist Al Humphreys once made the point that while kit was important, it shouldn't be important enough to stop you getting out there and having an adventure.  And he did his tour on steel Rockhoppers, not expensive boutique tourers with spendy internally geared hubs.  I'm not about to ride around the world, but you can bet I'm not missing a ride because the jersey I have to hand doesn't match my helmet either.


The quote at the head of this piece comes from an interview with Gary Fisher that I heard a while back, and there's a lot of truth in it.  I dislike inconsiderate and unsafe cyclists, but beyond that I don't care if you look like you dressed in the dark from the bargain bin, or ride a £99 Apollo, at least you're riding.


[1] Actually, "I Don't Care, and I Don't Care if You Do", but that's not as close to an Aphex Twin album title.

[2] For values of "normal" that sometimes include stuff costing more than my dhb bike specific kit.

[3] If you can fettle internally geared hubs, I'm officially impressed.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

From Dave's Mechanical Pencils Blog: Half Way (Biodegradable Mechanical Pencil Test)

I have to admit, it wouldn't occur to me to bury a pencil to see how biodegradable it was (not least because the dog would dig it up again). Still, you have to admire Dave's commitment to the scientific method here - this is the halfway point of his experiment.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

From Bike Hacks: Desktop Bike Wheel-Truing Stand

Reader Rob from Melbourne, Australia contacted us recently with a great hack he came up with to move the true task from his steed to a table.  He was kind enough to send along plenty of text with pictures to match.  If anyone else has come up with their own stands, feel free to give us a shout out.


It could just be me, but the idea of serious metal work (angle grinders, chopping up old frames) makes this a not so useful hack.

Having said that, my own truing stand is homebuilt (out of leftover bits from our kitchen cupboards) so maybe it's just a case of being happier with joinery than metalwork. Still, follow the link to see Rob's scrap bike truing stand. I particularly like his lateral truing indicators.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

From Copenhagenize: Bresson's Velodrome Photos

Like many amateur photographers, I've a healthy regard for the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson.

I've not seen these photos (posted by Copenhagenize) before, although I bikes did feature in HCB's work, e.g.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

From Soma: Hit By Car and His Bike Stolen...All On His Birthday

This happened to barista and cyclist Mike Hardy on his 27th birthday back in September. He was struck by a car riding his Soma Rush to his girlfriend's house. While paramedics were treating his injuries, the bystanders, who initially checked on Hardy after the accident, made off with his bicycle. This was all caught on a Kansas City Police Department dash camera. The video footage shows the thieves checking the bike out for damage, then rolling off with it.

Read More at Soma Feed

Horrible story - Soma sorted Mike out with a new bike, but what is it with people? /sigh.

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From Lines and Colors: How Long Does it Take To Look at a Painting?

The second column in the series is How Long Does it Take To Look at a Painting?, in which he considers the time individuals devote to looking at a painting, from the cursory (the Louvre reports that people look at the Mona Lisa for an average of 15 seconds) to the kind of extended interaction with a painting that takes place over the course of a lifetime.


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From Urban Velo: Why Cable Locks Suck

Cable locks are great as a secondary deterrent to theft, but in all but the most idyllic neighborhoods should never be used as a primary lock. There is a reason beyond style most cyclists in the know carry around u-locks—they want to keep their bikes.

If you've had a bike for any amount of time, you'll know this already, of course - but if you're still using a cable lock, or know someone who does, have a read (or send them the article).

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

From Good: The Self-Repair Manifesto

The folks behind iFixit have drafted a Self-Repair Manifesto that instills in consumers a sense of DIY zeal—not only to empower us but also to create less collective waste. To spread the word, they're giving away 1,500 free manifesto posters. Here's a look at the manifesto:

Self-Repair Manifesto

Read More at Good

I'm not sure whether all cyclists are inveterate bodgers and fettlers, but I certainly am.

I'm still slightly cross with myself for buying wheels that have proprietary spokes (although they are VERY nice wheels) as they can't be fixed up with bits I can pick up easily and cheaply.

There's a satisfaction in fixing things, and in extending their useful life. As bikes are, mechanically, generally fairly simple[1], they're ideal for this approach.

[1] Internally geared hubs exempted.

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From Bike Trailer Blog: Kenneth’s BOB Trailer/LHT Combo

I love pictures like this - although I can never imagine loading my LHT up to this degree, there's something satisfying about seeing a tourer loaded up for some real adventure.

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From Phil Plait: When a University helps promote nonsense


Have you heard about these Power Bands, or Power Balance bracelets? The claims by the manufacturer and at countless demos are that these bands improve balance, flexibility, endurance, and strength by employing holograms which send frequencies that somehow interact with your body’s frequencies or electric field or glaven or some other undefinable manifestation.

Yeah. You can imagine what I think about that. And if you can’t, I’ll be clear: that claim is complete nonsense. Literally, it makes no sense. Holograms don’t emit anything, frequency or otherwise; there’s no such thing as your body’s frequency; and there’s no way inside the laws of physics that a rubber band with a cheap plastic hologram in it can affect your body, unless a) you’re allergic to rubber, or 2) it hits you at meteoric velocities.

We clear? OK.


They're not quite being sold with the University endorsement (as the article explains, it's the Athletic department of the institution that's being used to flog the woo) but I would be surprised if the packaging or advertising material makes that distinction clear. The article has a good debunking of the "science" behind the product, and is worth reading.

Also, I love skeptical hippo.

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From Strange Maps: Bodyworld: the Artography of Fernando Vicente


Spanish artist Fernando Vicente's artography (2) revisits this fusion of the descriptive and the symbolic, but expands the concept to its literal conclusion. Superimposing human and animal forms onto the countries and continents of a map, Vicente transforms familiar geographic contours into surprising new constructs. Maps become living creatures - although some ostensibly formerly living ones - and many of which have an ominous, unnerving quality. Maybe that's because of Vicente's predilection for slicing open his subjects, their exposed anatomy/geography investing them with the same morbid quality evident in Bodyworlds, the famous travelling exhibition of plastinated and dissected human bodies.

Read More at Strange Maps

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New Product - Salsa Anything Cages


New Product - Salsa Anything Cages

November 6th 2010 | 6 Comments

Our new Salsa Anything mini racks are now in stock.  Look inside for more details on this unique product and for fitment details. 


As the article goes on to say;

"As you can see from the pic above, this new cage is ideal for almost anything roundish and fairly light weight. I think the idea actually came from Kid Riemer zip tying his insulated Nalgene bottle carriers to his snow bike fork legs. Other bike nuts and adventurers were also doing this. After experiementing a bit we found out you could carry a lot of different things with this thing. "

Salsa are really innovative in their approach to this kind of thing - I've commented before on the nice, practical touches like the gentle curve in the beds of their racks (so a sleeping bag, tent or mat fits in nicely) and these seem to be an extension of the same philosophy. Great stuff for adventure cyclists.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Urban Velo: Mission Workshop Monty

The Monty roll-top messenger bag is designed for commuters. Dubbed a “small utility bag,” it features a rolltop cargo compartment, quick-access outboard pockets and two internal zippered pockets.


I have to say, for a small utility bag, that looks FREAKIN' HUGE to me.

Some nice features though - if carrying your stuff on you is your thing (I don't on long rides, but quite often do on errands) this could be right up your street.

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Podcasts: The Monkey RSS Folder

Been meaning to do this for a while, but this is a list of the stuff I *try* to catch each episode, or stuff I've enjoyed that's on hiatus but worth subscribing to either for the back catalogue, or a possible new series. 

The categories are a bit arbitrary (The Amateur Scientist would fit in Science and Skepticsm too, and Collings and Herrin might possibly fit in news) but do represent what I listen to them for.


Most of the links below go to title pages rather than the RSS itself - I thought this better, as a description for each 'cast would make this a very long post.  I subscribe via RSS - I think most of the 'casts have an iTunes feed too, but I can't say for sure as I don't use iTunes.

All the feeds are free, and some have a "tip jar" system for you to donate to the creators if you like the content - others have subscriptions, and some will encourage you to pick up the authors' work or merchandise in other, paid media if you like what they're doing.


The Adam and Joe Show

Adam's Big Mixtape

Collins and Herring (6 Music Show)

Friday Night Comedy (Radio 4)

Jon Holmes


One Life Left

Onion Radio News

Richard Herring's As It Occurs To Me (NSFW - lots of bad language & adult themes)

The Amateur Scientist (NSFW - occasional bad language & adult themes)

The Collings and Herrin Podcast (NSFW - lots of bad language & adult themes)

You Look Nice Today (NSFW - occasional bad language & adult themes)



Bike to Work Book Podcast

Carrément Vélo (in French)

ITV Tour De France Podcast

NY Velocity

Real Peloton

The Bikescape Podcast

The Bike Show

The Podcast

The Spokesmen

The Velocast

Veloclub Don Logan



Test Match Special



Costing the Earth

NPR: Environment Podcast

TreeHugger Radio


Other Factual (Documentaries, History &c)

A Point of View

In Our Time

Philosophy Bites

Radio 4 Choice

Thinking Allowed



Laura Speaks Dutch

The French Podclass


Music & Film


Desert Island Discs


JJ's Smoking Sessions

Little White Earbuds

Kermode & Mayo's Film Review

NinjaTune Ninjacast

Three From Leith

Whomix Radio



News & Current Affairs

Newspod (Round up of the news of the day from the BBC)

Global News (Round up of the news of the day from the BBC World Service)


File on Four

Broadcasting House

From Our Own Correspondent


More or Less: Behind the Statistics


Science and Skepticsm

Dr. Karl and the Naked Scientists

Little Atoms

Material World

Nature Podcast

Righteous Indignation

Science in Action


Strange Quarks

The Infinite Monkey Cage

The Pod Delusion

The Skeptics' Guide To the Universe 5x5

The Skeptics' Guide To the Universe


Short Stories and Fiction

Cast Macabre (Short form horror)

Clarkesworld (Short form science fiction)

CrimeWAV (Short form crime and noir on the hardboiled edge of the genre)

Escape Pod (Short science fiction)

Podcastle (Short form fantasy)

Pseudopod (Short form horror)

Scott Sigler Audiobooks (Novel length serialised horror and science fiction, and Scott's reader feedback and interviews elsewhere. Definitely not for kids.  The current serial is "Ancestor", but Scott's back catalogue is available too, including fan favourites like "Contagious" and "Earthcore")

Toothless (Novel length serialised horror - an interesting twist on the zombie genre so far - not for kids).

Underwood and Flinch (Mike Bennett's novel length serial tale of a vampire and his reluctant servant in modern day Spain - again, not for kids)

(Also worthy of mention is the MIGHTY, which has more serialised audio fiction than you can shake several sticks at, and an excellent personalised subscription system).

It's worth noting that the biases of the Internet mean that much of this is horror, fantasy and science fiction - and lots of it is written specifically to be somewhat disturbing (it's horror, after all!).  As I recall, Clarkesworld, Escape Pod & Podcastle will give a guidance rating with stories, so should be safe for those of a nervous disposition (as long as you pay attention to it).


All About Symbian

NPR: Technology Podcast


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Nov's calendar pages - left is the excellent Memoires du Peloton one from @prendas, right is from @cyclingplus

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

From Good: Adopt an Obsolete Word from the Oxford English Dictionary

Save the Words

The Oxford English Dictionary has launched something very charming and playful: a campaign to save forgotten words from obsolescence.

Read More At Good

Seen at the Good Magazine blog, this campaign to save archaic words from obsolescense.

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From Bike Commuters: The Department Store Commuter Bike?

I saw this bike while perusing through my local Target. It caught my attention because it has some of the essentials that bike commuters love. Items such as fenders, gears, rack, upright position and a classy look.

Read More at bike

After the Walmart Fixie, here's the Target commuter bike.

As the Bike Commuters article points out, the quality of the bits is going to be low, but probably better than some faux full suspension "Mountain Bike" at the same price point. And of course, you won't get a wet arse from having no mudguards, or have nowehere to carry your stuff...

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010


It's not often I can make that claim, but this photograph of mine;



Is A WINNER. It's number one in Google searches for "Monkey 6880". Whilst this is undeniably a small category, I shall now claim to be an SEO EXPERT, social marketing guru, and all that other guff people decide they are on (what seems to me to be) slimmer justification than this.

If you're interested in the other pictures from this trip, they're here, along with some explanation of what I was doing in the engine shed.

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