Monday, March 31, 2014

My new cycling gear and health tips website

In a further attempt to try and stop the main topics of this blog wandering too far and wide I've started a new cycling health and gear blog over at http://cycling-health-tips.blogspot.co.uk/

I'll likely still cover the less 'mass-appeal' personal side of cycling here on this blog.

Go - http://cycling-health-tips.blogspot.co.uk/


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Critical Mass London 28/03/14 - my report

Critical Mass is an unofficial and 99% unplanned bike ride that happens in hundreds of cities around the world on the last Friday of every month. It's a bike ride that I've wanted to be a part of for a long time. 

My friend and fellow cycle adventurer Sam made it to the meet-up point under Waterloo bridge bang on time (6.30pm) only to be dissapointed by the fact that we appeared to be the only cyclists who had turned up. Two bikes doth not make a Critical Mass ride. 

We then figured out that we were under the wrong part of Waterloo bridge, a fact made clear to us when we made our wsy down to the river and found hundreds of cyclists getting into the party mood. It has been estimated that over 600 cyclists were in attendance. 

There were all kinds of bikes, a LOT of fixies and a lot of bikes decorated with fairy lights. Some folk took their bike upgrades to the extreme by adding surprisingly loud sound systems.

After what seemed like an age of standing around feeling a bit cold someone shouted something, everyone cheered and rang thier bells and we were on our way. Slowly. 

As we hit the first roundabout we found a big group of cyclists blocking the traffic from comming round the roundabout, giving safe passage to the hundreds and hundreds of cyclists spewing out of the side streets and into the city via Waterloo bridge. 

The first few miles of the ride were very stop-start. It appeared that collosall bottlenecks were forming at traffic lights, and then once the traffic lights did the job of stopping the opposing traffic large numbers of cyclists positioned themselves to block traffic once the lights changed back. This happened with side streets throughout the ride and on the whole was very good-natured, with the blockers genially chatting with bewildered and amused blockees. 

The whole ride was very high-spirited, lots of 'thank yous' being thrown to the vehicles our sheer mass were stopping from moving. I saw lots of laughing cabbies and waving laughing bus drivers. 

I was expecting to see a lot more aggro on the ride, but people just seemed to be really amused to see this raggle-taggle tidal wave of bikes forging a path through Central London like a massive bell-ringing  fun-plunger. 

The evening wasn't entirely incident free, and I only mention the incidents I saw in the interests of balance, not scintillation. As Sam and I passed through a junction we saw a black cab nudge forward and push a stationary cyclist off his bike (only stopping short of actually driving over his bike). Sam and I stopped to block the cab and were very quickly joined by many others. This sense of instant solidarity was evident too many times to mention, and each time the situation ended the same way - the blockers would politely thank the motorists for their patience and normal traffic would resume. 

There were quite a few pizza delivery mopeds trying to weave their way through traffic, which on the whole was fine. But I was saddened to see a Dominos scooter driver try and kick a cyclist off his bike before trying to veer into him. A large volume of cyclists stopped and surrounded the cyclist and moped driver, not to hassle him, but to protect him from the cyclist who wanted to have a unfriendly word. I did see the same cyclist yelling at a Pappa Johns moped dude later in the evening, so maybe he was just a dick.  The important thing was that as a collective the Critical Mass riders utterly refused to allow aggression from any fellow riders towards any other road users. If motorists looked frustrated they were thanked for thier patience and the situation was calmly dissappated. 

A lot of pedestrians called out to ask what was going on, 'why are all these people following me home?' was my stock answer. 

We took in a lot of the London sights and busiest roads, all with a feeling of total safety. There were parents cycling with thier children along Regents Street, something that ordinarily would perhaps be lunacy. There was a thirteen year old boy and his older sister skateboarding along the main road through Camden Lock. In fact there a lot of skaters. 

The ride ground to a halt at Trafalger Square. It was a great experience and I really look forward to riding Critical Mass again, hopefully quite soon. 










Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Threatening call from 01832448484

I just received a phone call from someone who asked if I was available to answer a few short questions about my household.  'No, not at all thank you' was my reply.  To which the caller replied,
'I will call you every day, I will call you every day, I will call you every day' then hung up.

A search around the web shows a lot of folk getting abusive calls from these people (who apparently are in Manilla) so it might be worth putting their number in your phonebook so you can reply however you feel is appropriate if they call you.

The number is 01832448484

Transcript of my call with an Indian Microsoft Support scammer.

I've had several of these scam calls from Indian companies trying to lie their way into controlling my computer before and they're SUCH good fun!  Instead of rambling on about this surprisingly virulent criminal behaviour I'm going to give you a rough transcript of the call I just received from 02102490540

Them - Hello, I am called from XXXXXXX in London, we are a Microsoft Partner

Me - Oh goody, this sounds like it's going to be fun

Them - Do you have computers in your house yes?

Me - Is that question rhetorical?

Them - We are calling from Microsoft, we believe you are having problems with your computer.

Me - Well mercy me, how did you know that I'm having problems?

Them - We have been told by Microsoft that you are having problems with your computer.

Me - Lordy lordly and lummy thrice, how did Microsoft think I'm having troubles with my windows computer?

Them - We have been told there are bad signals coming from your network.

Me - Really?  How so?  I mean most Windows installations are OEM-installed and are usually unregistered, so even if Microsoft was aware one of their OS installs was experiencing problems they'd likely have no idea as to the identity of the user, and would be even more unlikely to share the identity of the owner / operator with a third party (even if they were a Microsoft Partner) due to a complex web of privacy issues.

Them - But there are bad signals coming from your network...

Me - I very much doubt you would be able to see that because my network is behind a firewall, and as such machines on a reserved IP range behind the firewall wouldn't be openly broadcasting their IP out to the Internet, you must know - as a Microsoft Partner - that internal networks are masked by any router or firewall that is acting as a NAT.  Also, even if you were able to see this information that is supposedly being blasted around the web like some sort of poorly seal calling for it's mother's teat how would you know that IP belonged to me?

Them - Microsoft give us that information, this is very urgent, you have problems with your computer...

Me - Nah, even if I was using a static IP to access the internet only my ISP would have a record of  my IP (and possibly my physical location) using that node, and that's assuming my ISP is logging their DHCP leases, which I'm not sure they are.  And anyway, if they were why would they share that information with Microsoft?

Them - *Silence while I assume they leaf through a document containing appropriate responses*

Me - I think you're talking poo.

Them - Excuse me sir?

Me - I don't have any Microsoft computers.


Them - .....................................................................



Picture is unrelated, although that is what my office at home looked like years ago.

Hot Sauce UK - my new blog

Hot sauce is a very long-running obsession of mine, and occasionally when trying a new sauce I want to tell other people about it.  Instead of clogging up the already erratic topic-tangle of this blog I've decided to start a new blog focussed on Hot Sauce over at http://hotsauceuk.blogspot.co.uk/

If I find a nice sauce that's new to me I'll snap it with my phone, say a few words and minutes later it will appear on the new blog.

Go there now...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Digitech Bass synth wah bass envelope filter FX Pedal - FOR SALE

I'm selling this Digitech Bass synth wah bass envelope filter pedal.  It has several unique sounds, ranging from boingy bouncy synth to a sound not unlike a sub-bass (well it's 'OctaSub' technically).

I was playing a lot of fairly funky music when I bought this pedal (for about £80!) but these days I'm playing far heavier stuff, so wanting to replace this pedal for something fuzzy.

This pedal has lived in my pedal board for as long as I've had it, and has had an easy life.

I'm up for swapping this pedal for something like an ElectroHarmonix Bass Big Muff.  So if you're going from metal to funk then maybe we can trade?

Update 12th March 2014
This pedal is now SOLD.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Would you like a BIKE PUNX tee shirt?

I'm thinking of getting a limited run of Bike Punx tee shirts printed, either with a just the 'Bike Punx' logo across the breast or with an illustration that I'll have commissioned from this artist (who I've worked with before).

The shirts would be printed on Gildan Heavy (very hard wearing, long-lasting and ethtical) and would cost between £12 and £15.  The shirts would most likely be black, but if I'm not hearing a lot of enthusiasm for black there are plenty of other colours we can have made.  I've been involved in custom clothing and promotional goods for very long time so this isn't a case of me just 'having a go' at making cool clothing.  I'm also considering hoodies, which again will be Gildan and would cost about £30.

So would you be interested in buying one of my shirts?

Friday, March 07, 2014

How to send emails from other email addresses in Hotmail

Yeah okay so it's not called Hotmail anymore, but it'll take us all years to start calling it Outlook.  I'm not too bothered really as I use Gmail (which I consider to be far superior) but I acknowledge that Hotmail does have a lot of users, which is why I'm writing this little tutorial.

NOTE - for these instructions to work you need to have already set up your forwarding email addresses with your web host or domain registrar.

Why would you want to send an email from Hotmail and have it appear to have come from a different address?

When some of my clients set up a new website they want to be able send emails that appear to have come from their business address.  For example if a client had set up a new business called 'Ice Cube Collector' (for example) and was using the hotmail address icecubecollector@hotmail.co.uk they wouldn't want their customers to receive business emails from icecubecollector@hotmail.co.uk they would want them to appear to have been sent from icecubes@andrewculture.com (for example).

Instructions - setting up a 'send from' email address in Hotmail / Outlook:

1. Click the wee cog on the top right of the Outlook site






2. Click 'More email settings'









3. On the next page click 'Your email accounts'







4. In the 'Add an email account' section you'll need to click 'Add a send-only account'








5. Click the 'Advanced options' link underneath the Account info boxes and select the option 'Send emails using Outlook.com's server'.  Now there is a chance that a few people might see your hotmail address, but in our experience almost nobody does, at worst they'll see 'send on behalf of'.








So your page should look something like this, if it does then click the 'Next' button:





















6. Outlook will now ask you to verify your email address... 







...which is fair enough, just click 'Go to your inbox button and your confirmation email should be waiting for you.






You might see a message saying that Outlook isn't too sure the message is kosher (even although they sent it!) so you may be asked if you're sure you want to click the verification link, which of course you are sure.




Once you've clicked the link you'll see a message informing you that your new 'send as' address has been set up.  Don't worry too much about the second line in this message, this is just a reminder that in order for you to receive emails sent to this new address you'll need to set it up wherever your hosting or domain registrar is.







DONE!

Now when to go to write a new email in Hotmail / Outlook you'll see a drop-down box next to your name that gives you the option to send an email from one of your other addresses.  I've smoooshed out my addresses so wronguns don't get hold of them, but hopefully you get the idea here.



















Here's how the email looked when it arrived in my Gmail account:



How to get your music into iTunes and onto the Amazon MP3 store the RIGHT way.

I seem to have written far too many zine columns about the fact that nobody really needs to get signed to a record label these days.  Admittedly getting signed to a label will definitely open doors for you, but on the whole why would you want to give away 95% of your royalties to a record label?

Getting your music into the most popular distribution channels (Amazon, iTunes etc) is really easy, but there are many different people offering this service for varying amounts of money but in my opinion there's only one way to do this correct.

The right way to get your work online.

I recommend Tunecore for getting your work into the right places because their reporting is brilliant, the interface easy to use and the promotional opportunities are great.  I used Tunecore when I ran my own record label and the reporting made paying royalties a LOT easier!