Monday 30 July 2012

Accessing Alconbury

I went round two circuits in Alconbury, on the bike. While I was doing it, I was also noting how much life each battery had.

B1 1.5 miles
B2 6.5 miles
B5 4.7 miles

Looks like B1 is ready to be retired. B3 and B4 have already had an honourable discharge. Groan.

I got 55 caches, and a few DNFs, including one that I've DNFed before (but it was missing then). I also picked up a nice puzzle that came out a short while ago; "There's always a place for pie".

The weather was mostly good, but it did rain a little bit. And a few minutes after I got back to the car at the end of the day, it poured.

The batteries for the PDA are getting weak too, so I bought a couple of new ones, named C1 and C2. Also, the saddle bags are almost worn out. I think if I were using them normally, riding along a road, they'd last a lot longer, but going through rough ground makes them wear a lot faster. It's just as well I'm using really cheap bags - chosen because I can slip them off and on quite quickly, because to get the bike over obstacles, I have to take off the saddle bags (carring the very heavy extra batteries) in order to lift it.

At one point the chain slipped off the pedal-end sprocket completely, and got itself jammed in. I had to stop, invert the bike and tease the chain out before I could continue.

Another fun thing - I stopped at a litttle wooden bridge to get the cache there. I leaned the bike against the handrail, as I usually do, and got under the bridge. While I was there, the bike rolled forward, off the bridge, and fell onto its side. The PDA bounced out and fell on the grass, but it was undamaged, I'm glad to say. The PDA holder, though, is broken. It's just as well I have a spare.

Sunday 29 July 2012

Restaurant Coworth Park

Ladysolly and I went for Sunday lunch with daughter.2 and boyfriend.

The first problem was the first course; it took an *extremely* long time to arrive. We got three apologies for this; the second time we were told "literally two minutes" (no it didn't), the second time "coming now" (no it didn't) and then it eventually arrived. The head waiter came by to explain that there had been a problem with the printer. Don't ask my why that would make the first course take such a very long time.

The problems with the food: ladysolly asked for low salt in her soup; the soup itself was low salt, but the thing in the midle of the soup was very salty. Also, the soup was lukewarm. I had the salmon; usually I would expect a spread of several slices of salmon, with trimmings. Here I got six very tiny strips (about 4 inches by 1/2 inch), and the mustard sauce was missing.

Then the main course. I was happy with my roast beef, but daughter.2 ordered monkfish, and got such a tiny helping that even she (a very light eater) felt cheated. She said it was more like a single medallion of monkfish. We also ordered side vegetables for the table - what we got was a single bowl, smaller than a teacup.

The desserts were good, the coffee nice, the chocolates (I had to remind them to bring them) fine.

After the meal, we explained all this to the head waiter. He explained that this was the first time that this particular menu had been served, and he was as upset as we were. He agreed about the size of the salmon helpings (he thought it should have been carved at table, not in kitchen) and also about the monkfish.

He offered us a tour of the grounds - we declined. He was keen that we should return some other time to see how good they were. Sorry chum, there's a thousand restaurants we can visit, why would be come back to yours after a bad experience?

We were given a 50% discount on the bill (and no "12.5% discretionary service charge", which I would have exercised my discretion not to pay), which was a good gesture by the head waiter, but what we'd wanted was a good experience at a good restaurant, and we didn't get that.

I would lay the blame for this on the restaurant manager. A new menu should *NOT* be tested on customers. If the menu is changed, the management should try it out before the customers get to see it. When you're running a software house (the situation I know best) you don't take the software straight from the programmers and give it to customers. You test it first! You don't wait for customers to tell you about obvious problems.

Whatever problem with the printer had caused the absurdly long delay of the first course - they should have improvised a solution, perhaps use pencil and paper to write down the orders? Leaving customers to sit and wait for ages was not the best option.

I suspect that whoever is the boss of the restaurant manager will never hear about this fiasco, and won't therefore give the restaurant manager the carpeting that he so richly deserves. Who's going to tell him? The restaurant manager won't, and the head waiter and chef won't go over his head. I don't even know who he is, and I doubt if he'll read this web site, although anyone who has management responsibility in the hospitality industry should be keen to hear about bad experiences in their establishment, so that they can fix whatever problems they have.

Since the problem is clearly one of management, we won't be going back, because it's unlikely that there will be management changes.

Kimbolton konundrum

Out with SimplyPaul on bikes to do this series that I've had my eye on for a while. We parked nearby, and set off. The first one took us a little while to find, then a little while longer to solve the puzzle of how to get to the cache. And so it went on. Each cache was clever, ingenious and nicely contructed, and we found 18 out of 19 (eventually) and I gave a Favourite point to each of them. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but I would urge anyone to attempt this series. What I will tell you, is that I guessed it might take two, maybe three hours to complete the circuit, and it actually took six, so take enough to drink with you and allow yourself enough time. Because that's 19 non-easy caches.

Then on to Poshrule's Birthday Bash in Yaxley; he has over 900 caches up and running, and I've done most of them. The caches aren't difficult, but it's always fun to bike along one of his circuits.

And then we finished off the day by biking around Yaxley to bring our day's haul up to a respectable number (32) and then back to Kimbolton to have another go at two of the caches we'd failed on first time around. We'd gotten some help from the folks at the event, and in the evening we found them quickly.

Friday 27 July 2012

Who's your grandmother?

I recently signed up for something to do with credit card security. My first problem was that the letter that I got from the bank was so waffley, I couldn't work out what they wanted. After a few phone calls, I got that clarified, and signed up at the Trustwave web site to get PCI DSS compliant. I already have to get PCI DSS compliant, so I thought it would be easy.

The Trustwave web site required Flash, which I don't like, because they're constantly having security problems. So I had to enable Flash to get going. Then I signed up, and they wanted three security questions. You know the sort of thing? Mother's maiden name and stuff like that?

But that's not very secure; certainly not as secure as the whole PCI DSS is trying to be. You could find out my mother's maiden name pretty easily. They suggested "name of first girlfriend", "maternal grandmother's given name" and lots of ideas like that. All of which doesn't sound secure to me.

But what they're really asking for, is three more passwords, and they want them to be something I already know. The trouble is, so do other people.

So I tried out an idea that I've been thinking of using for a while. I just made up three passwords. I didn't give them the name of my first girlfriend (which is an ambiguous concept anyway), I just gave them a couple of syllables which aren't any name I've ever heard of. And the same for the other two words they wanted. And, of course, I wrote them down, so that if I need to, I can give them in future.

After a bit of tweaking, I passed their PCI DSS security test, but it's going to cost me £29.99 per year to remain complaint, and if I don't, it'll cost me £9.99 per month. Another cost for businesses to pay.


A day out in sunny Essex. 54 caches done.

First, a short 9-hole circuit in the countryside. Then in to town, cruising around picking up all the caches there. Then out along the sea wall, and finally back to the car. A very good day out. I do like to be beside the seaside.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Polishing off Blackwater

Another 32 caches today for my last crack at the caches on the seawall of the Blackwater estuary. The sun was hot hot hot, about 30 degrees, so I used lots of sun cream. And five bottles of water.

At about 12:30, my PDA crashed, and it took me ages to revive it; meanwhile I used the iPhone to actually find a cache. Maybe it's not quite as pants as I'd thought. Then, switching back to the PDA, I missed out one cache, and I'm not going back to pick it up. Rats.

32 caches, and a few DNFs.

The bike is going very well. I did 11 km using just battery no 6 (the newest one)

One cache involved me walking through head-high nettles; I'm in long trousers, but I had to keep my bare arms away from the stings.

I also finished off a few puzzles that I've had solved for a while, and I did a couple of multis. A good day out, and I'm not too tired, so I'll be out again tomorrow. Enjoy the summer while it lasts!

Weight report 13

17 stone, 3 pounds

Getting ready

 ... for another foray to Blackwater. There's a ring to finish off, and some nearby places to go. The brakes on my bike needed to be tightened, and the PDA updated with caches.

I hear that the weather's going to be great again!

Monday 23 July 2012

Blackwater again

Out to Blackwater for a day on the bike. The weather is perfect, clear blue sky. I did two routes - in the morning, I did the Pirate Adventure plus a few extras. I didn't do the Pirate Adventure in the order recommended, I thought I'd be clever and shorten it a bit. What I didn't realise, is that there are two tracks on either side of the river, so I found myself haveing to cross over now and then, which was annoying.

Then I tried to do The Pits. I did some of them, but there was one I couldn't quite see how to get to, and another one would have involved forcing my way down a footpath overgrown with rapeseed plants, and at this time of year, that's not much fun - I'll go back after harvest, it'll be a lot easier then.

In the afternoon, I did more of the St Peter's ring, but I found myself going over some very ropy ground, through a bog (and I filled my boots). Then along a sea wall, but that was very overgrown - at one point, I was forcing my way along a yard at a time. Then across a deep ditch (wth the bike, of course) which refilled my boots. Eventually I got to the estuary wall, and then the going was a lot easier.

50-odd caches, and a very good day out. But I'm knackered, of course. There's still a whole bunch in that area for me to do.

Sunday 22 July 2012


To Oxford today, to attend the Geolympics. Wow. I've never seen so many geocachers in one place. about 1000 attendees.

I spent most of the day selling Geolympics geocoins - that's how the event is mostly going to be funded. Plus the t-shirts which were selling like hot cakes. One of the boxes of coins arrived *just* in time, the other is still in customs, and coins will be sent on to people. I bought a fine blue t-shirt for myself. And I had a great time talking about "Technology in geocaching", which included several stories about how I fall over while out.

I spent the whole day standing up, and yelling to make myself heard over the roar of the croaw, so now I'm exhausted and voiceless.  But I'm going out again tomorrow ...

A great event, which would never have happened without SimplyPaul's efforts (and with a bit of help from his friends).

Saturday 21 July 2012

iPhone as a GPS

I gave a real try today to use the iphone 3GS as a GPS, and I have to say, it's rubbish.

I tried to use Memory Map, and I tried to use the Groundspeak geocaching app, and they both suffered from a major problem. The "distance to cache" doesn't update often enough. So I found myself 100 meters away, and after a bit of walking, that changed to 70 meters, then after some more walking to 40. The countdown is just too poor to be good for geocaching. You don't know when you're near the cache, and it's difficult to work out which direction you need to be going in.

In addition - the Groundspeak geocaching app doesn't work when you don't have internet access, and that could be a big problem in some areas.

I can't say how other iphones might perform, or other apps. But I'd have to be in real trouble to fall back on the iphone 3GS.

Every cloud has a silver lining

The shambles that G4S has made of Olympic security could actually lead to something good. By making a complete dog's breakfast of providing security for an event whose exact date and size was known, they've made people rethink whether it's a good idea to contract them to provide the more general security for the UK, where often the date and size of the problem isn't known. Think of the riots in August 2011.

Up till now, there's been a tendency among senior police management to feel that money could be saved by hiving off significant portions of policing to the private sector. The police are (it is alleged by the Windsor report) over-paid, over-pensioned, over-staffed and over-weight. None of this is true, of course (and to be fair to the Windor report, that isn't quite what it says, but that's what the media have made of it).

In Lincolnshire, for example, G4S has a 10-year, £200 million contract to provide services to the police. And until recently, other forces were considering following suit.

But would you hire a company that doesn't seem to be able to staff a piss-up in a brewery?

What did G4S do wrong?

In many ways, it doesn't matter. Whatever it is that's wrong in G4S management, is still there, and chanting "Lessons will be learned" doesn't fool anyone. Because they probably don't know what went wrong. And they didn't actually know it was going wrong until just a couple of weeks ago, by which time it was too late for G4S to do much.

My guess about what went wrong is this. They decided on a "Just in time" policy; not to pay people just to sit around and wait until July, but to hire them well ahead of time, train them up, and then ony pay them for the two weeks that they'd be working. How could this possibly go wrong, especially in a time of record unemployment? Here's how.

1) Pay minimum wage.
2) Completely over-estimate the percentage of people you've trained, who will still be available in July.

Now look at it from the point of view of the employee. G4S are paying you for the training time, so you turn up for that. And you assure them that you're keen and raring to go when July will come. But then, you're G4S trained, but not getting pay from G4S. So you continue looking for a job. And if you find one, then A) it pays at least as much as G4S will be paying, and B) will last more than two weeks and C) you don't tell G4S, because why should you, maybe you will acually need that G4S temp job if your current job doesn't work out. So, come the day that G4S ask you to turn up, you don't. And G4S is very surprised, and there's no plan B.

And I'm thinking that it might be even worse than we currently think. Until the day that you ask people to arrive for G4S duties, you don't actually know how many will show. In Manchester only 9 out of 140 turned up for training.

And it would be an extremely brave Senior Police Management who proposed using G4S for security duties in the teeth of the G4S Olympic fiasco.

Thursday 19 July 2012

A quick outing

I sneaked out while ladysolly was playing bridge for a swift seven caches. It's very muddy out.

Weight report

17 stone 4 pounds

And ladysolly's feelng a lot better. She had a dressing change and a doctor inspection this morning, and it's all good. She's playing bridge this afternoon.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

A quick outing

A quick twirl on the bike today to pick up a few local caches, and to get four DNFs.

Someone's really keen to get good reception.

But only a short day, what with having to ferry ladysolly to get her dressing changed, and what with my arm hurting when I lift the bike over things.

Monday 16 July 2012

Thanks to Alien

I've been having trouble with the electric bike; about 90% of the time it does nothing, 9% of the time it runs at half speed, and 1% at full speed. Not good.

I took the throttle apart, there's really not much to it, and I don't think that's gone wrong.

I got a circuit diagram from the internet, and took the controller apart. No user servicable parts inside. So I contacted alienocean because it was them that sold the kit (and still do) and explained the problem, expecting to have to fork out £32 for a new controller. From Jim, I got some advice - he suggested "remove the casing from the side of the motor and check for water ingress before coughing up for a new controller". So I did that, it wasn't difficult. I couldn't see any water inside, but a few drips of oil came out. So I left it for some hours in a dry room, in case there was a bit of moisture inside, then added a few glugs of hydraulic fluid to top up the oil, and reassembled.

It worked!

Full speed ahead.

I'll leave it a bit and test it now and then, but I think this is a good demonstration of why you should buy things from people who give you good customer service. Alienocean have been selling electric bikes for several years, and know what they're doing, and it's always a good idea to buy from people who know their stuff.

Sunday 15 July 2012

Two visits to hospital, and some caching

In the morning, I took ladysolly to hospital for a change in her dressing; then lunch, and then I was given a pass to go out caching, provided it was local. So I did 14 caches on the bike, no DNFs. Just as I got back home, my phone rang - ladysolly needed to be ferried to hospital for another dressing change.

The problem is, the wound is producing serous fluid (that's fine, it's supposed to) and that's making the dressing come off. And it's in such an awkward place (and needs to be stuffed with seaweed each time) that neither I nor she can do it. Actually, I think I could, but I don't think she's going to let me, even though I am a doctor (PhD in econometrics), and I'm good at fixing things.

Flat battery

I was about to take ladysolly to get her dressing changed, but when I tried to start the Freelander, it wouldn't even accept the key fob. After a couple of tries, we abandoned the car and went in the Volvo.

When I got back, I had a look at the car. The battery was down to five volts - it should be 12. I have no idea how this could have happened, I don't think I left anything switched on. So, I've put it on charge, and I just hope it doesn't happen again.

But I've noticed that it's been having trouble starting the engine; it only just turned it over. And I'm wondering if the alternator is charging the battery properly. I carry a Halfords battery charger in the car, so hopefully with that, it means I won't get stranded. I hope.

Friday 13 July 2012

Operation successful

Ladysolly has been plagued by a boil for the last several weeks. Antibiotics didn't do much, nor did more antibiotics, nor did lancing, nor did yet more antibiotics.

So yesterday, under a general anasthetic, a man with a sharp knife had a go. The operation was successful, and she's now taking it easy while the wound heals.

Wednesday 11 July 2012

They changed it and didn't tell me

I use two card processors for credit card transactions, on the grounds that you should never have a single point of failure. I use Barclays and Natwest, via different gateways. And to keep them both alive, I use them both every day.

I put the transactions through Barclays (they're slightly cheaper, I think) and any that fail, I try through Natwest. You'd think that nothing would be accepted, but about 5% are OK. I have no idea why.

So for the last few days, the transactions via Natwest have only been partly processed. And today, I tried a few and they were all not processed. That's not rejected or declined, they weren't processed.

So I called up the people who run the gateway. And they told me that they've changed things, so that after a certain number of declines, cards aren't processed.

I can understand why they did this - it stops naughty people from trying duff cards in bulk. Except that's what I've been doing with them for quite a while now, and I've explained what I'm doing in the past, and they were happy with that.

But the real no-no is that they made this change, not only without asking me beforehand, but also without telling me afterwards.

And that's not playing nice.

Weight report 11

17 stone, 1 pound. Woo hoo!!!

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Servers and iphones

Another drive failed on a server - when it starts up, it makes a clicking noise then spins down. A hopeless case, so I had to replace it, and reload the data. Not a big deal.

Good news though - I've inherited ladysolly's old iPhone 3. I've been using a Nokia Expressmusic, which runs Symbian. Symbian is now dead, no-one's doing development for it. And I'd guess that Nokia will be following soon, left behind by advancing technology.

The iPhone is really nice, I have to say. I've got Memory Map on it, and it's not as good as memory Map on my Loox, but it'll make a good backup GPS. And I've got an external battery-thing that roughly doubles battery life. And I've got a rubbery stylus, so that I don't have to use a finger to use the iPhone. I have two problems with using a finger. A) it isn't accurate (I'm used to using a fingernail). And B) I often get muddy hands when I'm out caching.

Monday 9 July 2012

An email from my bank

You should never, ever, reply to emails from your bank. because your bank will never, ever email you. Any email claiming to be from your bank, isn't. It's from a scammer.


Barclaycard epdq sent me an email asking me to confirm my email address. And it looked very realistic, so I looked at it really carefully. And it still looked realistic. And how would a scammer know I was using Barclaycard epdq? Well, how does a scammer know I bank with Icky-scratchy Bank - they don't, they just send out a million emails, and some of their targets really do bank with Icky-scratchy Bank. And I don't.

So I called tech support there. And they confirmed that they really had sent me an email asking this. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

So I gave them a *long* lecture about how no-one with any sense will reply to their email, and did they really want people to reply to emails apparently from the bank? And I asked for my complaint to be escalated.

Why do I have to keep explaining to banks about computer security?

Saturday 7 July 2012


First the back rack. I took two of the blanking plates that cover the expansion slots on a PC, and drilled two holes in each. Then I took two of the caged nuts and bolts that are used in 19 inch equipment racks, and using this, I made an extension to the back rack support that mives it a few inches backwards. I tested it out, and my heels no longer foul the saddlebags. My old metalwork teacher, Mr Edwards, would be proud.

Then I poured hydraulic fluid into the front suspension. I'm using the same stuff that goes in the Landrover's brake cylinder.

Then I fitted the speedometer to the bike - I like to know how far I've gone, because that tells me how good the battery is. And what the time is.

Then I fixed my GPX analyser, so that it splits the POIs for Tomtom into a North and a South half. The reason for doing that - well, when Tomtom has too many POIs, it gets very slow at updating the display. Halving them will probably fix that.

Then I changed the default map on my Loox from the 1:250,000 road map (which is 134 megabyes) to a much bigger scale "Route planner" map that's only 8 mb. That will make it faster to load when I start up, and the 1:250,000 isn't much use for walking, and I do my car navigation with the Tomtom.

Then I looked at the spare Loox, and made sure that it works with my GPS.

And in the evening, I took my electric razor apart and cleaned out the hair, bits of beard and general goop that was clogging it up.

I've always found fixing things very satisfying.

Sopping in Essex

Out to Blackwater, Essex yesterday to do more of the series I did a couple of weeks ago. It was raining as I drove down there, in contradiction of the weather forecast, but by the time I got there it was just a light drizzle. So I got the bike out, put on my light waterproof camo coat, loaded up with three batteries and two bottles of water, and set off.

I was on techobike.2, because .1 still has something wrong with it. I've got it up on the bike stand, and the motor seems to be running, but had less than half speed. I wonder if it's the controller? I soon discovered that I have the positioning of the back rack wrong. It's as far back as it can go, but I'm still fouling the saddlebags with the back of my boots. Some work needed. I also need to fill up the hydraulics on the front, they make a slurping sound every time I go over a bump.

Within half an hour, biking through grass had made my boots wet. And my boots aren't waterproof, so my socks got soaked too. I spent the entire day with wet feet. Lesson learned - don't wear those boots when the ground is wet.

I found this picture in St Lawrence, I think it's all over the place.

At one point, I found myself on the wrong side of a ditch, and the ditch had a small stream at the bottom, and lots of the sort of mud that I know from experience doesn't carry my weight, and doesn't have a bottom. It was either detour a long way to get on the right side, or jump the ditch. So I jumped, knowing that my feet couldn't get any wetter. And, of course, I sank into the mud.

And, while on the subject of mud - at one point, I had to cross a mudflat with the bike, and it was the sort of clingy gluey mud that jams itself into the bike so thickly that you can no longer move, and you have to stop and dig some of it out.

At another point, I found myself on the wrong side of another ditch, this one without mud, but with water. I left the bike behind, walked 200 meters to get the cache, then walked back. Walking in wet boots and sopping socks is ... different.

So - I didn't quite follow the route I'd planned; getting to the sea wall needed three tries, because the place I'd planned to go through didn't let me, and the second place I tried, did get me to the sea wall but I couldn't go east from there.

So when I did get to the sea wall, I looked up, and dimly in the distance I could see the cubes of the Bradwell Nuclear Power Station. A long, long way away. And I knew that was where I was heading, because that's where I'd started last time I was here.

Most of the track was bikable, although at this time of year it's very overgrown, and the water was entering my boots so freely it felt like I was barefoot.

Along the way, there was a cache I tried to do, where the mud underfoot was so slippery and slidey, I nearly went over a few times, and after spending 20 minutes on this I gave up; better to have a DNF than to fall over and possibly also fall into the water.

Eventually I got to Bradwell Waterside, where I found that a track I'd planned to follow led over 50 meters of water, and wasn't a track at all, so I had to backtrack (and thats where I got the bike clogged up, again).

At Mill End, I saw this. I bet you don't get many of those to the dozen.

And from there, back to the car. I was out for seven hours; it really was a struggle to get round, what with ditches to cross, mud to clog, soaking socks, lifting over stiles, and I was pretty exhausted, and was able to manage just two more caches before getting back to home. 41 caches today, and a really cracking day out.

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Weight report 10

17 stone 5 pounds, a slight fall.

Plus, the Higgs Boson has been found, that's the thing that is the particle corresponding to the Higgs field, and the Higgs field is what gives mass to things.

So, all I need to do, is adjust the Higgs field down about 20%, and my weight will be about right.

Passage to Silkingrad

Up to Stevenage today, but I was being very cautious, because the last time I went out, my right thigh gave up the ghost; it was *SO* painful at the end of the day, I could barely hobble. And I don't know why.

Today, no trouble with the thigh, so maybe that's fixed itself. And the tendonitis seems to have gone, I haven't had it for a few weeks now. My right arm is still a bit achey from when I fell into that ditch, but it's progressing, and I can use it, although cautiously.

No, the big problem today was the bike. As soon as I go on it, the electric assist didn't work - so much for my theory about an overheating controller.

So, what's wrong. Is it the throttle? The controller? The motor? I get occasional power, but today, it was *very* occasional, and I was using it as a traditional bike.

Until I have this sorted, I'll used the backup bike (fortunately, what I bought on Ebay was a pair of bikes). That now has a back carrier, so I can use my saddlebags, and I've changed the inner tubes for thorn resistant Kendras, plus I've put in the Weldtite gel insert, so I'm pretty puncture resistant. And now that I've sorted out the saddle post, it's ready to roll.

36 caches today, including "Passage to Silkingrad" which is a very old multi cache I've been wanting to do for ages, involving a tour of Old Stevenage. And I also did a puzzle cache that required me to solve a 3-D rolling ball bearing puzzle. I made that easier for myself by using a strong magnet to move the ball, rather than using gravity to try to roll it to where I wanted it to go, that made it much easier.

I got it open in about 20 minutes, which isn't bad. But inside, I didn't find a log book to sign. I found a set of coords, which was nearby, and when I go there, I found ... another 3-D puzzle. But this time it only took a few minutes, since I'd had the practice of the first one. An excellent cache!

Tuesday 3 July 2012

The bike holder doesn't

The bike holder that I bought for £40 arrived today. I assembled it (there's no instructions) apart from the three pieces that just don't seem to go anywhere or have any purpose.

Then I tried to use it.

No matter which way round I set the gripper, it couldn't hold the bike.

Eventually, I gave up and turned the bike upside down and worked on it in the usual way - I replaced both inner tubes with "thornproof" and put in the Weldtite gel inserts; that combination has meant that I didn't get a puncture over the last 12 months.

Now all I have to do is think of a use for the bike holder.

Thank you, Heathrow

A spam I received recently gave me two pieces of information.


Delays of nearly two and a half hours reported


Tickets unsold with only weeks to go

Who would have thought that Heathrow Immigration would be the only factor between London and a total overcrowding of tourists? Although, if you think about it, the immigration authorities job is to keep out unwanted visitors, and we certainly don't want millions of tourists cramming into London at a time when many of the roads have been halved in capacity.

Monday 2 July 2012

Cache pages on iPhone?

The way I put the cache page info on the Mio and Loox PDAs, is HTML files, and I do a link from Memory Map, so that when you tap on the cache flag, it brings up the HTML file with the cache description, type, hint and logs. It would be nice to do the same thing on the iPhone.

To do it on the Loox, I use file:// instead of http:// - that tells the Internet Explorer browser to look at a local file instead of over the internet. Simple, and it works.

You can't do that on the iPhone. The browser won't recognise file://

This is a particular instance of a general iPhone limitation; one app can't access another app's data.

So what can be done?

One way would be to "jailbreak" the iPhone. What that means, is get root access. I have root access on every computer I own. But Apple don't allow it on the iPhone, so you have to find a clever way to get it, and that's called a jailbreak. It's legal - I can do whatever damage I want to my own property. But I don't think ladysolly would allow it on her iPhone, and I'd be nervous about doing it on mine, because it means I'm trusting someone else to know what they're doing and not cause unwanted side effects.

There's another possibility, though. There's an app called ServersMan, which is a web server running on your iPhone. Then I could use ( means "myself") to access files on the iPhone. Maybe. Would that work? I googled "ServersMan" and I got a lot of articles in Japanese.

I think I'll probably leave it.

Sunday 1 July 2012

Memory Map on the iphone

Ladysolly was getting fed up with using the Mio for geocaching; it kept crashing, she said, and often just didn't work. So I was looking at for possible replacements.

After looking around for a while, I decided that Memory Map (which we use on the Mio, on my Loox, and on my big screen PC when I plan where we're going) looked like a possibility on the Iphone. Last time I looked it was expensive for an app, I seem to remember £40 or £50? But now it's £4.99.

But! Looking at the reviews, including the ones on the Memory Map web site, and the reviews on iTunes, opinion seems to be divided. Some people give it five stars, and speak very highly of it; others give it one star and call it a rip-off.

Something's wrong.

Memory Map are a well-established company, and although I usually find their prices somewhat high, in my experience, their products work very well. And £4.99 certainly isn't a high price.

Reading the reviews in more detail, it looks to me like the users that gave it a poor review, were complaining mostly that they couldn't get the maps they'd already bought onto the iPhone, and it was asking them to pay again. The users giving a good review, didn't mention this.

So, my thinking was, some people were doing something wrong, and weren't getting their maps transferred.

Ladysolly didn't like all those one-star reviews, and wanted to try another product, but I said, let's risk £4.99, because I think that since Memory Map say that you can transfer version 5 maps (which is what I have), then it must be possible; they wouldn't be saying this if it weren't true.

So, she forked out the £4.99, then passed the iPhone over to me to do the mapping.

I read the memory Map web site, where it gives (I thought) very clear instructions. And, although I'd never used iTunes, I found it a piece of cacke.

1. Connect the iPhone to your computer via the USB cable.
2. Run iTunes. Wait till it's done any syncing it wants to do.
3. Go to your device on the left of the screen, then click on Apps at the top, and choose Memory Map on the left panel below. On the right panel, there will be a list of files; at this point, it's probably empty.
4. Go to where you have the maps on your PC, and drag-and-drop the maps that you want, onto that right panel. I chose OS 1:50k Southern England, Central England and Wales; I bought these on CD Rom a few years ago. I also put the 1:250 road map on.

The copying took a while, because those maps totalled over a gigabyte. But when it had finished, I started Memory Map on the iPhone, and it showed me mapping.

But no cache locations.

So. How do you get those on the iPhone?

Back to the Memory Map site. They say that you do that by emailing the GPX file "in the usual way". Huh? I have the GPX file here, and it's several megabytes. You want me to mail that up to the internet and then back down to the iPhone? That's daft. I want to copy it from my PC to my iPhone, why do I need to go all round the houses?

5. Get a GPX file (GSAK will make one for you, or you can use on you get via a PQ from Groundspeak) and drag-and-drop it onto the same place that you put the maps. Email not required.

Then I started up Memory Map again on the iPhone, and viola - maps and caches.

But the red blob that shows you where you are right now, was greyed out.


Take the iPhone outside so it could have a look look at the satellite, and - red blob!

So it is indeed really easy to get maps, and caches, onto the iPhone. And we've used it, and it works.