Cyclists at risk in cycle lanes

A recent article in Road Cycling UK has just confirmed what I always believed that when you use a cycle lane on a road cars are less likely to pull out to pass you. SOmehow drivers feel the a painted line on the road is enough pretection for cyclists.

Real Age vs. Virtual Age

I did one of these on-line age calculation things today. I don’t really hold much stock in these sort of things normally as there as simply too many variable, hell I might get hit by a bus tomorrow.

In this case though it goes through all the usual medical, hereditary and lifestyle questions that are idicators to eventual possible lifespan, so I was pleasantly surprised by my results.

Yes I know this means nothing really but when you’re told you’re 13 years younger than you real age and you could live till almost 90 it’s a bit of a boost.

Weird Cloud

sunset cloud
sunset cloud

Took this photograph last week of very large cloud over my village at sunset. I only had my phone camera, hence the poor quality but an interesting sight nevertheless.

Synchronising Google Calendar with Thunderbird Calendar

For some time now I have been running exclusively in Ubuntu on my corporate LAN with very few problems. Initially I used Evolution as my mail client as it could directly link up to MS-Exchange server so I got all my mail, global address book and calendar. But when my company updated to MS-Exchange server 2007 Evolution was no longer able to do this so I went over to Thunderbird. This was fine as far as mail and contacts were concerned but I could not get the Lightening calendar addon to synchronise with Outlook. I tried the method suggested by Ryan Hadley but I just couldn’t get it, so I gave up on Outlook altogether and just used Thunderbird/Lightening. Then I read over at Lifehacker about synchronising any desktop calendar with Google Calendar. I followed the very clear instructions and in seconds I had my desktop calendar sychronising with my Google Calendar. This was great as I could now access all my events etc. from any PC, but it got me thinking of synchronising with Outlook again so I had another crack at it, but with no luck. It then it dawned on me after looking at the image above from the Lifehacker article If I synchronised Thunderbird with Google and Outlook with Google then in effect all three would be the synchronised, obvious really.

Timeline of Internet Memes

internet memes
internet memes

This site has a rather interesting interactive time line of internet memes, those sometime weird, baffling or just down right silly items that spread throughout the internet and somehow get far more attention than they deserve. This is however a really nice way to display such time lines.

Eye Candy in Ubuntu 8.04 – Hardy Heron

I’ve been using Ubuntu since version 5.04 the second ever release and love it. The version numbering is based on the year and the month so 8.04 is 2008/April (see table)


I use it primarily to recycle older PCs usually Pentium III so eye candy and effects provided by Compiz Fusion are not really an option on these systems. But since moving all the computers on my home network to Ubuntu I have been playing around with a few things. I particularly like the Avant-Window-Navigator (AWN) which is a dock app-launcher similar to that in Mac OSX. First you’ll need to find out if your system can handle the effects, Compiz Fusion is already installed in Ubuntu 8.04. Go to System>Preferences>Appearance>Visual Effects. There are three settings try them, if you can’t get normal or extra to work then your system and video card can’t handle the effects so I’d stop here. If you can get normal at least to work great.

Visual Effects

To install AWN open Synaptic  (System>Administration>Synaptic Package Manager) and search for Avant then mark it for installation and install. You will also need to update your Sources List, you can do this by opening a terminal window and typing sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list this will bring up your sources list in a text editor. Then add these lines

deb hardy main
deb-src hardy main

or in Hardy just go System>Administration>Software Sources click Third Party Sources and add these two to the list, then reload the list. You will find AWN under Applications>Accessories but if you want AWN to run at start up you’ll need to add it to your session. Go to System>Preferences>Sessions click the Start up tab and then +Add, type Avant in the name field and avant-window-navigator in the command


field, AWN should now start automatically the next time you reboot. You can find out about AWN settings etc. in System>Preferences>Awn Manager. There are other dock app-launchers such as Cairo-dock and Kiba-dock, full details of how to install Cairo-dock in Ubuntu can be found here.

Now if the basic Compiz Fusion functions are not enough for you you can install the Simple Compizconfig settings manager (simple-ccsm) via Synaptic as before. This will give you and added choice of Custom on the Appearance-Visual Effects window where you can modify things the way you want. If this is still not enough then you can install the full blown Compiz configuration settings manager via Synaptic, this will give you access to all the possibilities available in Compiz Fusion in Settings>Preferences>Advanced Desktop Effects Settings.

The window manager or theme manager in Gnome is called Metacity and there are lots of themes available for it. If you are playing around with Compiz Fusion then you might also want to have a go with another theme manager or window decorator called Emerald. You can once again install this through Synaptic and have it run at startup by adding it to your session as before with the command emerald –replace, which will ensure the next time you log on Emerald will replace Metacity. The Emerald Theme Manager can be found in System>Preferences. Again there are a huge number of themes available here for Emerald.

I made a couple of screen casts using Compiz Fusion but quite frankly they were rubbish. There are loads of demonstrations on You Tube, here’s a particularly nice one.


Another thing you might want to try is using other Window Managers. Ubuntu ships with Gnome as the window manager and there are other flavours of Ubuntu such as Kubuntu which uses KDE. There are a few others such as Enlightenment, Open Box, Icewm and Fluxbox, do a search in Synaptic for Window Managers. If you install any of these it’s fairly easy to switch between them, just log out of Ubuntu as normal then log in again. Before you type your username and password click on the Options button on the bottom left of the screen. Here you’ll see a number of options, one of which is Select a Session, click this and select the Window Manager you want to try and that’s it…have fun.

Cycling Tour of Ireland – 1978

Eire tour 1978
Eire tour 1978

After being at University for a year money was really tight so in 1978 we could only afford a short tour of Ireland. The original plan was to cycle to the ferry at Stranraer but this was going to take too long so we jumped on a train at Perth. We caught the ferry to Larne then a train to Belfast and then another train to Dundalk where we really started our tour.

We headed West through some very rural areas and beautiful countryside. I remember at one point cycle down a country road to see one of the biggest bulls ever coming towards us followed quickly by a little old lady, who looked about 90 waiving a stick at the bull and screaming at it. We quickly dismounted as the bull and it’s pursuer passed.

The most eventful episode of this trip has to be our time in Westport, a small village on the West coast. We found a really nice campsite then headed on into the town for something to eat and, more importantly something to drink. We spent most of that day and night in and out of bars and got very..very drunk. It seemed like a good idea to ride our bike back to the campsite but there was one small problem, we couldn’t actually get on them. I remember falling and trying to pick up my bike which for some reason was really difficult and Magnus racing past me standing on hips pedal and running straight into a wall. We got back to the campsite and I spent some time, in the dark, drunk trying to get my bike chain back on…with no luck. I woke the next morning with my hands covered in oil and slowly the events of the night before started to come back to us. I rushed outside the tent to find my bike upside down and the rear wheel buckled, well almost bent at a right angle really. It slowly dawned on me that the reason my bike was so difficult to pick up the night before was because I was standing on the rear wheel whilst trying to lift it. I needed a new wheel but this was Sunday and no shops were open so we wandered around and somehow found an open air music festival at Westport House with the headline act of Colm C.T. Wilkinson, who it turns out was Ireland’s entry into the Eurovision Song Contest that year coming in 5th place, (I only just found this out).

We also met a young lad who seemed to know us and as we struggled with his accent in our still fragile hung over state it became apparent that he’d helped us with our bikes the other night commenting that we were a bit the worse for wear and he had a great laugh at the state we were in. The next day I had to borrow money from Magnus to buy a new wheel, then we were on our way again heading eventually to Dublin.

We parted company there with Magnus heading South towards Cork and me heading North for the long trip home. I caught the train to Belfast and had to change stations to get the train to Larne for the ferry. I managed to get horribly lost in Belfast at one point queuing up at the cordoned off central part of the city and being ordered to empty my panniers on the pavement by a British soldier. The army presence was still high at that time and there was a great feeling of edginess in the air, certainly after I’d been told to unpack my bags I felt a little uneasy. These delays meant I missed my train to Larne and had to hang around the station for a good two hours or so. This made me feel much more uneasy with every passer-by watching me. I needed the toilet but couldn’t find one in the station so I went to the bar round the corner, it had a steel door with a sliding hatch. I knocked on the door and a guy with a very broad Belfast accent asked what I wanted, I told him I was looking for a toilet, he took one look at me with my denim cut-off jeans and plastic bag in hand and told me “we used to have a toilet but they blew it up” then slammed closed the hatch. I eventually found a quite alley to relieve myself but by now I was really feeling very jumpy.

Finally the train arrived and whisked me off back to reality, the ferry and the long ride home.