Monday, June 03, 2019

Name Change ?

So, I've had the online avatar Blackblade for a long time now.

The origins, as you can probably guess from the picture, are motorbike related.  One of the very first forums I joined was all about bikes and, at the time, I was riding a black Honda Fireblade.  Hence Blackblade.

Since that time I've had many bikes ... all Fireblades ... and all with sufficient noir in their colour schemes to just about qualify as Blackblades.

However, now, I've gone and done something unthinkable.  After over 25 years of a series of Fireblades I've bought a Ducati.

Now, this is a wonderful thing.  The new bike is astounding; ridiculously powerful (definitely track only for any attempt at exploiting its capabilities), amazing suspension, brakes that pop your eyeballs and it looks spectacular .... in RED !

So, can I keep Blackblade or do I need to change ?

Guess who's back ?

Time certainly flies.

Sitting at my desk, wondering when I last wrote a blog post ... and realised that it was years ago !

Why haven't I written anything in the interim ?

Well, I guess life gets in the way and laziness does the rest.

Let's see if I can get the next one out in less than a year !

Friday, July 26, 2013

An atypical letter to my son's school

Dear Mrs Teacher,

I write on a very serious matter regarding my son, David.  He appears to have contracted the highly debilitating condition known as HARS (Homework Allergic Reaction Syndrome).  This condition manifests itself, as I’m sure you’re aware, in extreme behaviours when presented with homework.  David is willing to do almost anything to avoid doing homework; with the exception of other work I have noticed – I kindly offered to write him a note if he agreed to tidy up the garden but this treatment programme did not appeal and was unsuccessful (and the garden is still a mess).

David is, as you know, a very lazy hard-working boy so I, naturally, believe his statements regarding the palpitations, sweaty palms and extreme psychic shock that he suffers when presented with homework.  I have, indeed, observed the local contact dermatitis which makes him unable to sit still whilst working on his homework.

I would therefore request that you assist me in employing a highly intensive form of aversion therapy; I would like you to make sure that he is completely overwhelmed with homework, every day.  Our counsellor (also known as his Mum) thinks that five hours per day should be sufficient to make the treatment effective.

Yours sincerely,

David’s Dad

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Swiftcover Dishonourable

Am, right now, burning with indignation. 

After five years with Swiftcover, during which I have paid thousands in premiums and never claimed for a single thing, I finally had cause to require insurance.

My car was stolen just before Christmas ... the house broken into to secure the car keys ... and the car then driven away.

Hiscox and Barclays, the two companies covering damage to the house and contents, were fantastic.  Helpful, reassuring and they got things fixed fast and efficiently.  I was impressed and it certainly made a stressful situation much easier.

Swiftcover, on the other hand, referred me to a company called Sims Claims who, it now appears, fulfill the function of trying to help Swiftcover avoid paying out by any means.

Their story has changed repeatedly, but always with the aim of trying to manipulate different clauses of the contract to try and reject the claim.  I'm referring them to the Financial Services Ombudsman and will blog on further developments as they occur.

However, I still can't really believe that a major insurer (they are part of the AXA group) would think this an appropriate way to behave.  No one wants to pay out money, of course, but the paroxysms and contortions they have employed to try and evade their liability reminds me of the very worst of shyster lawyers.  If it was on TV people would think it too incredible.

I am, unfortunately, stuck with them since I have a protected No Claims Bonus and don't think I can migrate this to another insurer having now made a claim.  However, failing this, I would be cancelling and off somewhere else.  I would strongly recommend anyone NOT to deal with Swiftcover.  The online service and ease of use is good; but what use is that if they won't actually pay out when you need them ??  Beware !!!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Guess who's back

The return of the King

It has been a long, long time since I updated this Blog.  I realised this when I suggested to someone else that they should setup a blog and they asked me whether I had one.  "Yes", I responded and then wondered when I had last updated it.  Suffice to say that it took me more than a little time to find my password and to actually get back in but, anyway, here I am with the strong intention to write some more ... in a while.  Procrastination is such an under-rated skill isn't it ?

Back soon (ish)


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Eating your own cookie

I really should have done this long, long ago. My only excuse is .... well, give me time on that one, I can't think of one right now.

The reality is that I have never been a blogger. A commenter, most definitely, a blogger ... not really.

Anyway, I've been promoting coComment's tools for ages now, of course, without actually implementing it on my own blog. I've finally taken the plunge and, to my delight, it really is as easy as my team promised me it would be. I managed to get conversations, including video, up and running in about 5 minutes and I added in the external comments tracking widget, customised so that it only shows my comments, in another 8.

So, here it is, my newly coComment enabled blog. Not a great looking one, I'll concede, but proof that the technology really does work for the web novice :-)

Racing tyres are wonderful

I've always eschewed pure race tyres on roadbikes. I like riding in the wet, not least because the roads tend to be fairly empty, and therefore I've always had tyres that would work reasonably well on the road in such conditions AND the track too.

However, I was recently persuaded of the advantages of going onto Pirelli Supercorsas and, despite minimal tread on the shoulder of the tyre, they proved much better on the track and tolerable in the road despite near monsoon conditions when Richard and I arranged a rideout. One which, as an aside, everyone else bailed on.

At Snetterton recently though they had definitely 'gone off' and I urgently needed new ones before a trip to the kitty litter and medical centre beckoned. Unfortunately, the tyre guy only had the Supercorsa Pro SC2s. These are the control tyres for many Superstock championships.

Well, my eyes have been opened. The grip is truly amazing. At Oulton Park recently I managed to lap faster than ever and achieve angles of lean that, on the standard Supercorsas, would have seen me on the deck.

All I can say is .... "Yee ha !!"

Friday, April 13, 2007

Re:Publica Day 2

Despite my distinctly poor German Re:Publica has been an excellent conference that I've enjoyed hugely.

Three presentations in two days is quite a lot but the last one, under the aegis of the truly inspired and brilliant 'Powerpoint Karaoke', was so funny that I still haven't stopped laughing. That said, several people are giving me some distinctly knowing grins this morning after my lecture on the evils of European Bread (Remember - say no to bread).

Jan Schmidt, who gave, I thought, one of the most insightful presentations of the conference on day one excelled at the less serious topics too and my understanding of the oversized female shoe market has been well, if not actually extended, certainly tickled !

Looking forward to Day 3 and the chance to go back to work getting feedback on the proposed new version of coComment.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Separation Anxiety

Wed 4 Jan 06 11:42
It's not just for children you know :-)

Today was my younger child's first day at full-time school. Hitherto, she's been going off to nursery for a couple of hours most mornings but, this morning, she's in her uniform and off to school for the whole day.

She's excited; I'm devastated. I don't want her to go and grow up. Well, I do, but I don't if you see what I mean. She is just so lovely at the moment and I don't want to lose my 'little' girl.

It was hilarious in the event; the kids were in the classroom chatting away excitedly whilst the parents took pictures, broke into tears (I manfully avoided this - thank goodness) and nearly had to be manhandled out of the classroom. We all then stood like a bunch of lemons at the windows waving and blowing kisses whilst the kids ignored us.

My wife is threatening to go and pick her up midday just in case she doesn't like it. I pointed out that she loves school, is with all her friends and would probably refuse to leave but logic and mums don't mix.


Mon 24 Apr 06 17:26
The ground gets harder as you get older. I can't prove this scientifically but I am utterly convinced that it's the case. The following, I think, proves the point;

I fell off my motorbike at Cadwell Park in Oct 04 and twanged my ankle and broke a couple of ribs. When I used to race, many years ago, I remember falling off in a race, having a couple of drinks and generally feeling OK the following day. Well, after Cadwell I was getting wheeled around the office on my chair because I couldn't walk and I was desperately trying not to laugh because it hurt so much :-) (and I didn't get much sympathy from my wife either)

On Saturday I suffered a severe bruising of the ego as well as the body. Challenged to try a 'drop off' on my mountain bike I decided to give it a go. However, it was hard to see the four foot drop so I rode towards it carefully .... only to miss the lip and then try to stop just on the edge ... and, of course, the edge gave way pitching me head first off the drop.

I lay there in the dirt, listening to my 'friend' trying not to laugh too loudly and asking me if I was OK. "I'm OK ... but I may lie here for a moment or two!" I said.

Yesterday, Sunday, I'd developed a great collection of bruises and scrapes and could barely walk. I'd managed to give myself two dead legs when my thighs hit the handlebars !

Pics showing my ignominious fall to follow ..... if you're lucky


PS. Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch
Yesterday was a complete, total and utter nightmare.

I had a meeting in Shoreditch in the morning and then had to get to a funeral in Suffolk for the afternoon.

Ah ha, I thought, take the bike ... will get me to both comfortably irrespective of the traffic situation.

However, as I entered Chelsea I felt the familiar 'loose' feeling on the back end which signalled a flat tyre. Bugger ! Oh well, time to call the AA .... oh damn, mobile phone battery is flat.

Walked a way back up the road to buy some tyreweld to get me to the meeting. Tried it .... made it another mile before tyre deflated again .... pushed it a further half mile to Vauxhall and a handy bike tyre shop.

Got taxi to get me to Shoreditch. Took forever and I was sweating heavily in my one-piece leathers. Found I only had Euros in my wallet when I finally arrived, one hour late, at my meeting. Taxi driver, fortunately, took pity on me and accepted payment in Euros !

Business partners looked somewhat askance as red-faced, sweaty and leather-clad individual arrives to discuss serious matters ! Good meeting though ... once they'd finished laughing.

Then, get taxi all the way back to Vauxhall, collect bike, pay for expensive new tyres and head off to funeral. It won't surprise you to learn that I got lost en-route and only just made it in time ....
Spent Tuesday 16th May at Cadwell Park.

An amazing circuit; I vacillate between it and Oulton Park as being the best in the UK. I usually end up deciding whichever I've just ridden is the best.

Anyway, was my fifth trackday on my new bike and, finally, I really started to feel at home on it. I'm a creature of habit and my old bike, nicknamed Old Smokey as the bores and piston rings were starting to get a little tired after 45k miles around most of the UK's and several French and German tracks, felt like a comfy pair of slippers. I felt that I could really push it and know what it would do.

However, when I first got the new bike despite it's massively higher performance potential I was actually a bit slower. Not surprising really. So, I set about learning its quirks and setting it up the way I like it.

I ditched the standard fitment tyres for Pirelli Diablo Corsas, replaced the pads with Carbone Lorraine SBK3s, fitted braided hoses and, most importantly, got the suspension properly setup for my weight and riding style.

Well the end result was stupendous. With the more familiar feel of the tyres and brakes I was able to start to push it a bit more and ...... wow ! Was at least 20mph faster into both Coppice and Park and then held most of that extra speed all the way around.

Barn was a revelation; it's an off-camber fast bend which is absolutely critical because it slingshots you onto the start/finish straight. It's also where Steve Hislop lost out on a BSB championship and broke his collarbone like many riders before him because it can be slippery under the trees and there is very little run off if you get it wrong.

However, amazing, the new bike just shimmies sideways a little as you reach the limits of grip; not a scary feeling at all and you can control it really nicely. I know a real racer would be going a lot faster but, for me, it was really exhilarating.

So, a great day and I can't wait for the next one at Mallory.