Little Successes During Lockdown

Did a Joe Wicks with the sprogs:

Ran 5kms with my dear lady.

J fixed a shower while I “helped” by saying “It’s on”; “Lots of water”; “No water”, “That looks good”:

Found my old blog and realised some info on it might be useful to me nowadays. Wow.

Plan is to do something useful/fun each day.

Tomorrow I want to get the Pi sending emails. Already spent too long on it. But then I can plug in namshubs daily emails to it.


Android Oreo Phone Service Notification

Just got the Oreo update. Now get alerted every time mobile service drops out. Intensely annoying on trains, in buildings, etc etc.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Apps and Notifications.
  3. Press see all apps.
  4. Press the three dots at the top and select Show System.
  5. Scroll down to Android System and select.
  6. Tap Notifications.
  7. Scroll down to Network Status and hit that. I suggest set to low so you are not notified at all.
  8. Done.


gpsbabel on ubuntu 16 LTS for Garmin GPSMap 60Cx

Argh! Why is Garmin so awful! They make excellent hardware, that (mostly) works brilliantly, but the software for connectivity and on the website… grrrr.

In the last two/three months I have had to de-upgrade Garmin Connect on my Android phone (it’s at 4.1.7 cos everything so far after that has utterly borked any connectivity to my Forerunner 235); swapped from browser to browser as first chrome, then chromium, and, finally today, firefox, failed to display anything except the headers and footers of any pages after logging into connect.

Deep breaths… breathing in calm, exhaling bullets.

Anyway, after an epic (for me) 50km off road day on my Sonder Camino Al (drop bars, 650Bs @ 30 psi, cable disc brakes, 11 spd SRAM – astonishingly good off-road, must write it up!), my buddy and I were talking about having a more accessible map easily visible without us fishing out the phones, or digging in the bag for the maps. Since we’re goldfish braining, probably due age and adrenaline, we both found ourselves checking nearly every flipping turn and wasting quite a lot of time. We weren’t worried about it, it was a beautiful day, between 16 and 24 deg C all day, and we were not inclined to try and race it. We just thought, at the end of the day, we’d have been more comfortable if we could have had a turn-by-turn available. And probably not stopped halfway down awesome downhills to check we didn’t have to hang a left.

I remembered having some old garmin kit from some years ago that did the job. A handheld GPS that is pretty ancient tech now looking at most phones, but is waterproof, has real buttons you can feel, and a chunky screen with a flipping great arrow or zoomed in map pointing you to the next waypoint. I went digging.

The GPSMap 60cx. I loved and hated it. Loved it for geocaching and tracking my commutes on my wannabe Brompton (Giant something or other). Hated it because getting data on or off it with my Mac (at the time) was an utter crapshoot, and invariably took re-re-re-researching because garmin had broken or repurposed whatever piece of software had kinda worked last time.

So I dug it out today. The mount is no good for getting around this day and age handlebars, so two removable cable ties and it’s firmly attached. And then… dramatic pause… I got it working on both the old Mac and the Ubuntu 16 LTS boxen using gpsbabel! I am so chuffed. It remains to be seen how long it works for, but here’s a cheat sheet of what I did.


  1. Install GPSBabel from
  2. Make sure the GPSMap is switched off
  3. Plug it into the USB port on the Mac
  4. Turn it on
  5. Use GPSBabel making sure to leave it set to “usb:” on the Garmin device connection

So far so simple. Although it did take a lot of plugging in and out.


Absolutely loads of info on the web from about 10 years ago. Nothing current. What I ended up doing was this:

  1. sudo modprobe -r garmin_gps #not sure whether this was necessary or not
  2. sudo apt install garmin-forerunner-tools garmin-plugin gpsbabel-gui
  3. sudo nano /etc/udev/rules.d/51-garmin.rules
    insert this line (without the single quotes): ‘SYSFS{idVendor}=="091e", SYSFS{idProduct}=="0003", MODE="666"
  4. reboot (yes really) the system and login again.
  5. making sure gpsmap is switched off, plug it into the usb port.
  6. Turn it on.
  7. Fire up gpsbabel and admire how you can import and export data simply and easily with hardly any hatred of garmin connectivity.

Oh happy day! Hope it helps someone.

Thanks to (I mean, like loads of thanks, give them some money!), and to this guy on who got voted down sadly. Some of it didn’t make any odds, but it cracked it for me.

Chromebook Asus Flip C101 Won’t Boot

The Girl got an Asus Flip Chromebook c101 for Christmas, which she is chuffed as peanuts about. It’s quite nice. I have played with it using Google Keep, surfing a wee bit, messed with Google slides and casting to a big screen with presenter notes on the flip. Very good.

Last night an update asked for a reboot and then the thing locked. Long story short below.

Locked: screen blank, silver light on the side on, no response to any keys or to on off button.

With a Linux or Windows box in such a state, I’d start with the three fingered salute, then try pressing and holding the power button to proper switch off. Failing that, pull the power supply and battery. Needless to say, that doesn’t really work with Chromebooks.

This solution doesn’t factory reset or lose any settings.  It’s just a gentle hint to the blasted thing to restart properly please.

1. Press the power button and the refresh button (middle button, top row, cut circle with an arrow in it) at the same time for about 10 seconds, or until the screen flashes. After its flashed, let go of the buttons and you should see the silver light is out.

2. Give it a minute, then press the power button to turn on as usual.

3. You’re done. Should work normally now.

As far as I can tell, this is either a three fingered salute (ctrl-alt-del) equivalent for chrome OS, or a press and hold the power button equivalent. It makes a difference if the lock up isn’t sorted and remains locked. Then you have to get medieval on it’s arse and disconnect the battery I suspect.

It took me a hour to suss it last night, fearing hard resets, factory resets, etc. The guy who steered me right was thefakegeek. Thanks!

Running Apps Synchronisation


Using mostly tapirik: . It costs 2 dollars a year to have it auto-sync, or free if you do it manually whenever you remember. It will sync pretty much everything from a date you supply (or a default date of around 1868).

Garmin as master (mostly), syncs to Strava, runkeeper, and dropbox.

Have set dropbox as listener only. It gets tcx files from garmin or strava depending where the activity is recorded. This is dropboxed to my hard disk and forms my “oh crap, x service has died/borked/gone forever and I need to export everything. in theory I already have it all.

Have set runkeeper as listener only. It gets updated from garmin or strava depending where the activity is recorded.

FitBit is an arse. It is (deliberately IMHO) made hard to get out of and, frankly, to get into as well. I use it for tracking my weight and for various family members on it.

Strava – have linked to FitBit through Strava’s integration.

Runkeeper – have linked to FitBit through Strava’s integration.

Currently Garmin can’t get my weight, etc from FitBit. I suspect if I link Garmin using the official apis to/from either Strava or runkeeper it might update the weight.

Next Steps
1. let runkeeper get back populated by tapirik.
2. unlink runkeeper from tapirik and link using offical APIs to Garmin Connect. See if a: the data that gets sync’ed off a run is as good/better than tapirik; b: if teh weight data is pushing into Garmin from FitBit via RunKeeper.


Playing with Meteor Again

It’s been awhile. I’m looking at Meteor again after my first look about 2 or 3 years ago. It seems to have matured into a rather cool web framework. It’s USP is real time updates between server and clients. Anything entered into the server database, is reflected (almost) immediately on each of the clients. If a client makes changes, those are reflected immediately on the local, and are background updated to the server, and then out to the other clients. It’s really slick.

It uses (by default) a mongodb as backend, and minimongos on each client, which live in the browser memory and have a subset of the full database cached locally. These listen for updates from the server and push updates to the server form teh minimongo. The client only reads and acts on the minimongo.

I decided to pay proper attention this time instead of skimming, so I’ve bought the Discover Meteor Book by Tom Coleman and Sacha Greif.

I’ve also done some digging into the architecture of Meteor because I have always wondered about how much control and scalability I might be sacrificing for the “magic”. This page from The Meteor Cookbook helped a lot (thanks). I now understand that I can remove the mongodb from the meteor server itself and deploy and admin as I wish in production. I am still a little hazy on scaling the meteor app itself, but that is coming in later chapters!

All in all, I’m enjoying myself. The long winter evenings will just fly.

Installing and Running Django Tutorial on Anaconda Python

So I want to do some more fluffy web based stuff with python, and, ultimately, mongodb. I’m doing things properly and starting with the Django tutorial. I’ve already installed Anaconda to provide me with a  full python 2.7 and the key data analysis packages pre-installed. The Anaconda windows installer works perfectly.

An aside, but the ipython notebook is brilliant. Runs a local webserver on your machine with the python command line running. You can record everything you do, download copies and send to others, inline graph generation, etc. It’s lovely.

Fire up a DOS command line.

So I started by checking to see if Django was already installed:

python -c "import django; print(django.get_version())"

It wasn’t. easy_install and pip often don’t work directly from the command line, with either python 2.7 installed manually  or with anaconda, so I went for the safe option that seems to work everytime and:

where python
cd C:\Users\me\AppData\Local\Continuum\Anaconda\Scripts
pip install Django

That installed Django for me fine. I checked again to see what version was installed:

python -c "import django; print(django.get_version())"

So now I need the Django Tutorial for this version. Note that if your version of Django/python is different to mine, you will need to select the right Documentation version. You can do that with the control atthe bottom RHS of the tutorial page.

Next, it wants me to create the project. I have to cd to my source folder and run a command. That command blows up:

C:\me\projects\reporting\incubator> startproject mysite
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "C:\Users\me\AppData\Local\Continuum\Anaconda\Scripts\", line 2, in <module>
from django.core import management
ImportError: No module named django.core

Sad Face. But let’s work around those pesky path issues like we did with pip:

C:\me\projects\reporting\incubator>python C:\Users\me\AppData\Local\Continuum\Anaconda\Scripts\ startproject mysite

Success. Happy Face. Mental note made. Continuing with the tutorial.

I didn’t have the sqlite3 shell installed, so downloaded it from


Finding a WinSxs Solution For Windows Server 2008

On Windows Server 2008 R2 there is no real way to manage the growth of the folder C:\windows\winsxs. This is an issue if you have virtual machines with small system partitions. Hell, it’s an issue because install files from 3 years ago are in a security protected folder that you can’t get rid of without major surgery.

There are lots of articles online from MCEs and MVPs etc saying you do DISM /this /that or COMPCLN.exe. These are all missing the point. They cleanup the stuff prior to the last Service Pack. What about the ~7 gigabytes, and growing, of OS partition space taken by this flaming folder that has no use to it all?

This technet discussion is typical.

However, I did find an article on the microsoft blog about introducing some cleanup to winsxs on Windows 7 that is non-typical, and provides a little clarity. The author, Charity Shelbourne, engages with the commenters specifically about Windows 2008. Hurrah! A comment from GerVoeten on 30th Sept, 2013 is most accurate:

The answer is the only way to clean the winsxs folder up is to uninstall updates and software. There is no guarantee that this will return back to its original size as the files maybe hard linked somewhere.
For 99.9% of us uninstalling updates and software is not really an option, these articles on cleaning up odd files in the os and using disk cleanup is a joke.

In summary, after digging around for 2 days on and off, I think there should be a canonical answer:  if you have Server 2008 R2 and you want to safely cleanup some old install files, wash your hands, pull on your rubber gloves, <small voice of reason>make some backups</small voice of reason>, you’re going in.

Please note this is specific to Windows Server 2008 R2 and doesn’t include Windows 7, Windows 2012.

Basic Motorcycle Kit

I recently got asked by a friend what he’d need kit-wise to start motorcycling. I emailed my thoughts and then realised this might be useful another time. So here it is, slightly tidied up and hopefully not too patronising (if it is, pat-on-the-head). If you’re already a motorcyclist, yes, I know: comfort and safety levels are subjective and differ for every person.

First thing you need is a hat. This is key, it’s the one thing you wear whatever the weather and it needs to fit right and not frustrate you. I also suggest you want your first one to be cheap enough so that you can ditch it with minimal agonising over how much it cost if it turns out you made a terrible mistake.
So two recommendations:
1. don’t spend over 150 quid on it (that’s not a target to aim for!);
2. go and try lots on. 
My opinions, which come down to personal preference: 
  • AGV and Shark are very good brands that have some good budget offerings; 
  • a seat belt style chin strap is minimal fuss on and off;
  • an integrated sun visor is a life saver, esp on autumn evenings when sun is low in the sky;
  • I like flip face helmets as it reduces on and offs and they are the ones that usually have integrated sun visors. On the flip side (ahem), they tend to be noisier;
  • If you go top job (300 quid plus) on an Arai or a Shoei, they tend to be Marmite. You’ll either love the Arais and hate the Shoeis, or vice versa. Tends to be on shape of forehead. I always get on with Arai and AGVs, hate Shoeis and Sharks.
  • A good place to research them is . They are a pretty good shop too. I’ve bought some kit from them in the past.


Good boots will keep you dry and warm and will stop your feet and ankles getting crushed in an accident or when you drop the bike. You can spend an outrageous amount on boots. My most expensive boots (so far) were £180 and were not waterproof or warm, they were racing boots. The ones I wear now were fitted dual purpose bike and walking boots (Hoggs I think) at 150 quid from Altberg. Worth every penny! However, I recommend you start with off-the-peg and work out what you like. Try lots on. Don’t spend over 100 quid on your first pair. Make sure they’re waterproof but breathable if possible.
Jackets and Trousers
  • traditional: leathers. You can get one piece or two piece. One piece are good in summer and if you’re doing a lot of track days. Chances are, you’re thinking about touring and commuting. I’d steer clear of leathers until you know what you want. However, leather is pretty much ultimate sliding and abrasion resistance, although textiles are pretty excellent these days.
  • touring solutions: armoured textile. You can get a jacket and trousers as a set or get separate. Trousers should always be able to zip to jackets – so make sure you test any that don’t come as a set. I went set and got waterproof, detachable thermal lining. Make sure they have CE approved armour with them, including, preferably, a back protector. Textiles are so good these days that they perform almost as well as leathers in abrasion tests, with the added bonus that you’re more likely to have them done up and on in most weathers, unlike leathers :-). My 5 year old Hein Gericke Sheltex suit is great. I’ve talked to a couple of guys at work who have more recent versions of HG jacket and they rate them too. Depending on how much you’re spending, suggest you look at ones that hi-viz built in. Adding a hi-viz vest later is just a faff, so you stop doing it. To get an idea have a look at 
  • sports jacket – good for summer. You’ll freeze and get soaked if it rains. But they are nice to just chuck on and go. I got one with an R1 in 1998 and still wear it occasionally. 
  • armoured jeans – I think they’re expensive for what they are, but they do look good. I have no experience with them. 
Armoured leather ones for summer (and learning to ride), and (prob) textile thermal armoured ones for rain and winter. Learning to ride you need to be able feel really well through the glove, so a waterproof thermal glove that feels as though you have five copies of the Telegraph wrapped around each finger are not what you want. A decent-ish, 50 quid plus race glove is my recommendation. Don’t go mental on Handroids and what not. And don’t get white ones if you can’t stand the sight of road muck on your previously pristine purchase. 
You will get cold hands in winter. I wear a thin set of normal thinsulate stretchy gloves underneath my winter gloves to keep warm. Other solutions include: heated handlebar grips; electrically heated glove liners; and bar mitts (which are permanently attached to bars and you slide your hands in).
Get some earplugs. It’s about 10 quid for hundreds of them. Boring, but will save your hearing. Future you will thank you.
Switch off your Phone
Seriously, every time you get on the bike, turn it off. You’re learning. You don’t need some dodgey pyramid selling SMS to vibrate your moobs as you negotiate weaving to the front of the traffic light queue for the first time or Billie Jean starting playing as you lay the bike into that 50 mph bend just right. What are you going to do anyway? You’ll have to stop, get your gloves off (at least), and dig inside your jacket or rucksack to deal with it. 
That should get you started. there’s loads of other stuff you can get (back protectors, airbags, armoured airtex vests, sat-navs, comms gear, etc), but getting this basic set will protect you and keep you comfortable so that you concentrate on the bike and riding, rather than how cold/hot/tight/loose/wet you are or how to turn on or off the gadgets.
At today’s prices, 2013, I reckon that’ll cost you between £650 and <insert huge figure here/>. 

Unzipping Huge Files from the Command Line

Lucky me. I have 7GB zip which has about 8K files in it, across 160 odd folders. Unzipped it’s about 32GB of data. Whatever zipped it used 64 bit extensions to enable it to be that massive. 

So can’t be unzipped by the standard *nix unzip which doesn’t do use 64 extensions (AFAIK). The Windows 7 compact -u command borks completely (and unhelpfully). I’ve had a look at winrar, command line doesn’t like zips, and all the usual suspects for handling zips in Windows. None are really simple, available, and just, well, THERE, when I need them. What I need is something simple that’s on just about everything I use and doesn’t mutter “shareware” or “trial version” at me and I can use in a bash one liner.

Step forward java. The jar utility uses zip compression as part of it’s packaging, and can unzip zip files for you. It also uses whatever extensions necessary to get at those pesky enormous zip files that no-one ever expected anyone to be able to use.

On windows:

C:\tmp> "<path to your jdk>\bin\jar" xf

On bash:

jar xf

Ta-da. It ain’t quick but it works.