Thursday, November 20, 2014

California DUI Law - the FACTS

Understanding California DUI Laws

The decision to drive while under the influence is not only a bad choice, but one which leads to tragedies of the worst kind at an appalling rate. According to the Centers for Disease Control an alcohol impaired driver kills one person every 51 minutes in the United States. That’s nearly 30 unnecessary deaths a day.

Considering the shocking statistics, it should come as no surprise that states are cracking down on drunk drivers more than ever. California’s DUI laws are some of the toughest in the country.

DUI Alcohol Levels

Ask a person what the legal limit is for driving after drinking, and they will almost always tell you that it’s a .08 blood alcohol level. This is not entirely correct. In California, there are actually different percentages under the law:
  • Under 21 Years of Age: .01 percent
  • 21 or Over: .08 percent
  • Commercial Drivers: .04 percent
  • Repeat Offenders: .01 percent
The .01 percentages are a bit misleading. Individuals who are under 21 or repeat offenders are not allowed to drive with any alcohol in their systems. However, modern analysis devices cannot detect levels below .01 percent.

DUI Penalties

California DUI law places an emphasis on preventing drunk driving, by creating what can only be classified as draconian penalties for those people caught driving under the influence. The penalties associated with a single DUI conviction are strict, but they are much tougher for those who are convicted for subsequent drunk driving offenses.

Jail Time
Many Californians are shocked to learn they not only can go to jail because of an initial DUI, but that they are likely to be incarcerated for at least a short time. Although the initial DUI is classified as a misdemeanor, it still incorporates a sentence from between four days and six months, to be determined by the judge overseeing the case. The “good” news is that an experienced DUI criminal defense lawyer can often get the penalty knocked down to no jail time – but only if the defendant agrees to between 120 and 210 days of a license suspension. During the suspension period, the offender is only allowed to drive to and from work. For violating that order, the judge can issue further penalties including a reservation in the county jail for an extended period.

If you have been convicted of a DUI in the previous 10 years, your second offense will unquestionably result in jail time. The judge has the latitude to sentence you to between 10 days and one year for a second offense, and from 120 days to a year for a third offense. More than three offenses and you can expect to spend a minimum of 16 months in jail, but probably much longer. DUI judges become a bit cynical over time, so repeat offenders should expect to have the book thrown at you more often than not.

As if jail isn’t enough, a DUI conviction always comes with a financial penalty in the form of a fine. The schedule of fines is as follows:
  • First Offense: Up to $1,800
  • Second Offense: Up to $1,800
  • Third Offense: Up to $1,800
  • Fourth Offense: Up to $18,000
However, these numbers are a bit misleading. In addition to these fines, you will pay an additional court fee and assessment penalty which will add between $2,000 and $3,000 to the total bill. Throw in the cost of hiring a defense lawyer and you are looking at paying well over ten thousand dollars for the ill-advised decision to drive after drinking.

Suspended License
In an effort to toughen DUI laws, a number of state governments have added the penalty of a suspended license to a drunk driving conviction. In California, the following suspended license guidelines are used for DUI convictions:
  • First Offense: 30 days to 10 months
  • Second Offense: 1 to 2 years
  • Third Offense: 3 years
  • Fourth Offense: 4 years
A suspended license is not only inconvenient, it is embarrassing. Imagine spending ten months continually explaining to people that you need a ride because your license was suspended as a result of a DUI conviction. Yes, you can take cabs or Uber, but your bank account is going to be drained quickly.

Interlocking Ignition Devices
An interlock ignition device is essentially a breathalyzer for your car. The device measures your blood alcohol level much like the tool used by police for a field sobriety test. In this instance, however, the device is hooked up to your car ignition and the vehicle cannot be started until you blow into the device and register a 0.0 blood alcohol level.

In California, interlocking ignition devices are required as follows:
  • First Offense: In some counties
  • Second Offense: Statewide without exception
  • Third Offense: Statewide without exception
  • Fourth Offense: Statewide without exception
Alcohol Treatment Program
There’s still more, including required attendance at alcohol treatment programs. For first time California offenders found to have an alcohol level of less than .20, attendance in a three month program is mandatory. Those blowing .20 or higher must complete nine months in a program.

Ongoing Probation
In many cases, first time offenders will be given a probationary period as well. The probation typically runs from three to five years. During this period, you
  • Cannot drive with any alcohol whatsoever in your blood stream
  • Must submit to breathalyzer tests on request from police officers without objection
  • Must refrain from further violations of the law
Failure to meet these three requirements will lead to even more penalties from the court.

Injury To Others
The ramifications are even more serious if you injure or kill a person while driving under the influence of alcohol in California. At a minimum, you would be looking at a felony conviction resulting in at least a year in state prison. At a maximum, you could be looking at a five-year sentence for a first offense if the victim dies. If the DUI is a second, third or subsequent offense, the prison time increases and you can expect to spend many years locked up.

It should also be noted that criminal charges would not be your only legal problem because the individual you injured (or the family of a victim who died) will also sue you in civil court, seeking monetary damages for their medical bills, pain and suffering. The fact you are in prison will not weigh in your favor. Judgments are common, often in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Know Your Rights
As should be clear, being arrested and charged with a DUI in California is no minor thing. A conviction will do serious practical and financial damage to your life.

Perhaps the most important thing to understand if you are pulled over is that the authorities are not your friends. No matter how clever and intelligent you consider yourself to be, anything you say can and will be used against you during trial. If stopped or arrested, your best move is to say nothing and retain legal counsel immediately.

California DUI laws are some of the stiffest in the country. To avoid having to deal with them, don’t drink and drive. If you do and you are arrested, keep your mouth shut and retain a drunk driving lawyer as quickly as possible.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Wisdom tooth - your reign of oppression is over, thanks to a good dentist.

This post is possibly not for the squeamish, in fact if you are a bit delicate then I'd recommend against scrolling down as there are some photos of teeth you might not enjoy.

I even got a neat little presentation case!
A couple of years ago the mystery of why my gums and the insides of my cheeks blew up like painful balloons sometimes was solved.  My dentist told me that I needed my top wisdom teeth removing; because the bottom ones are growing in a different direction nothing was impeding their growth, and they were getting a bit large.

Like most people I take dental advice on-board, and then kinda really mean to action the advice, but never quite get round to it.  My dentist assured me that the extraction would be painless, and despite the fact this dentist has never caused me any pain what-so-ever (even although I've had repairs, fillings and root-canal surgery) getting my wisdom teeth removed never quite seemed like a priority.

By the start of this month I could no longer eat properly, and if I didn't keep up my regime of painkillers the pain was almost unbearable.  I was taking painkillers late at night and being woken up by acute dental pain when they wore off some time around 3am.  Every night.

F U wisdom teeth

By the time I booked myself in for the extraction I was in a considerable amount of pain 24 hours a day, with the dual-dosed paracetamol and ibuprofen only just taking the edge off.  The time had come to say goodby to Mr. Lefty (only the left tooth needs to be removed at the moment).

On the big day I sat in the waiting room focussing on the positive outcome of this extraction; the biggest being the ability to eat and drink without feeling electric shocks of pain ripple through my face.

Warning - this bit contains graphic dentistry details

As soon as I was in the chair the dentist informed me that he would 'start getting me numb', and started using a mirror to look at my gums, and just as I was wondering when he was going to start the injections I tasted the anesthetic in the back of my throat.  Oh my, I literally didn't feel the injections at all, that's AMAZING!

My dentist took a quick x-ray and showed me the roots of the wisdom tooth on a screen in front of me, reassuring me that this helped him know which direction to apply force.  Then it started.  He very gently lent on my chest and warned me that I'd be able to hear some strange noises due to the fact the wisdom tooth was so close to my ear.  About fifteen seconds of what I can only describe as 'mild pressure' the dentist asked me to bite my teeth together.  Whyever would he ask that I pondered to myself.  Then he asked me if I wanted to keep the tooth, which of course I did!  I lay there waiting for whatever it was that he had just placed in my cheek to take effect, and was a bit surprised when my dentist started returning the chair to the upright position.  WHAT? That was it?  I was relieved I got a bit giggly!  I'm writing this the day after and while I do have some discomfort it's nothing compared to the pain this damned tooth has given me for so long.  Happy days!

So if you're reading this because you've been putting off getting a tooth extracted then I hope I have offered you some reassurance that with a good dentist there really is nothing to fear.

That's a teeny tiny filling in the top!

I measured the tooth with my vernier calliper and it's 20.4mm long and 12.8mm wide!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Tile (GPS tracking device) - review 2015

Just over a year ago I stumbled upon a kickstarter campaign for a small device that appeared to be a modern version of one of those keyfobs you can whistle at when you lose your keys.  The price was surprisingly low so I took a chance and invested in three Tiles (and got one free!).

This morning they arrived, here are my first impressions.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Breakfast ideas for kids

Kids don’t bother about nutrition being present in their meals.

They just don’t bother whether the food or meal that they are consuming is healthy, or is providing them the proper required nutrition which is essential for their adequate evaluation. No, they don’t waste their time griming over such issues and rightly so. Why would they when they have their parents to worry about stuff like that. So in simple terms, if parents desire to provide their children with the proper nutrition in their meals, then they will have to pull up their stock and smarten up a bit. They have to pester their brain cells to come up with innovative ideas in providing their children the proper needed nutrition in their meals. They have to strike a balance between selecting meals which provide the much needed protein and energies as well as that which appear to their children as something tasty and which they are willing to consume or eat on a daily basis. These parents have somewhat got their work cut out, but for the sake of their children they are willing to go to any extent just to make them healthy.

The clever ideas that work
One important aspect for healthy meals and a healthy life is to pick and choose from all the groups or cluster of foods available. Some of the essential and popular Breakfast Ideas For Kids, which would more often work are distinctively highlighted below:

  • Eggs are a must for every breakfast meal.
  • Fruit smoothie, such as a strawberry smoothie. Or a mango smoothie is also a very healthy and tasty way to begin a Children’s’ day.
  • Cold milk, cereal, cornflakes etc. are also not a bad idea.
  • Warm cereal more precisely like oatmeal, cream of wheat with some dry kind of  fruits and nuts on the top as dressing etc. is also not a bad idea to serve children
  • Try out Waffles, French toast, pancakes (try wheat or whole-grain varieties). They are equally tasty as well as healthy.
  • Bagel, whole-grain toast or cheese crested with puffed up English muffins is also very tasty as well as very healthy.
  • Yogurt with fruit fillings or Fruit cakes with nuts is also not bad.
And now for the bizarre (but yummy) ones:
  • Banana dog with the main component being a banana, peanut butter, and whole-grain bun dressings.
  • Taco fragmented with cheese in the tortilla, enveloped in half and then micro-ovened is also not a bad idea to serve children in the morning.
  • Country cottage cheese assembled with delicious cottage cheese and apple butter. Is also not bad
  • Fruit and cream cheese sandwich comprising of cheese, and various fruits.
  • Grilled cheese sandwich, or sandwich with peanut butter and jam.

Include various other ingredients
Like in every meal parents should also include these items in their children’s diet good health and effective nutrition. Parents must also keep in mind to include a regular dose of other pre-requisites such as a fresh dose of fruits, various dairy or milk products such as low-fat cheese, fat free milk and yogurt. They can also include in their children’s diet various green vegetables and grains. But make sure to use it in a manner that the children don’t recognize, because if there is one thing to know about children, it is that they hate green vegetables. So their parents have to use it cleverly to feed them. Following these breakfast ideas for kids will help them get the necessary proteins and nutrition in a very yummy manner.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Backing tracks - are they always bad?

Backing Tracks are an interesting topic for me as a 'live musician'.  Unlike some musicians I have mixed feelings on the use of backing tracks.  I think if you have paid to see an artist who claims to play entirely live then there should be no backing tracks, but if you're going to see a sugary pop act like The Wiggles then perhaps the use of backing tracks is more excusable. After all, if you're going to see Fhe Wiggles perhaps their musical ability on live instruments isn't what originally motivated you to buy your ticket?

Here's an official statement from The Wiggles that used to appear on their website;

"Do The Wiggles Lip-sync in concert?
If you've seen a live Wiggles show you will know that there are many times when they chat to each other, start to laugh, say "G'day!", etc which show you that it is not a mimed or "lip-synced" show. 

Sam has developed a good aerobic level of fitness which enables him to sing and dance. You will notice the LARGE amount of sweat that is on their shirts which is a result of this effort.

Some of the backing music is pre-recorded and replayed on mini disc as this frees The Wiggles to sing and do their dances.

It is more interesting for a child to watch actions and movements rather than a guitar solo (as good as it might be) However, this musical backing is augmented by Murray often playing his acoustic guitar and Jeff playing his keyboard."

There are many times (such as the Captain's magic buttons segment of the show) when the music is totally live.

I think this approach  from the 'band' is quite refreshing and candid. Perhaps my open-minded ness to the use of backing tracks is down to the fact that one of the rehearsal studios I have used for many years (was called SoundBack, now called Punch) actually produces backing tracks!

Friday, May 09, 2014

Virgin Media V+ dead (bricked) - how to fix

Virgin Media (nee NTL) have been providing what I consider to be unbeatable cable broadband for about fifteen years now, and in that time the set top box provided for the television part of the Internet / Television / Phone package has changed several times.  The first box was a tiny little effort with a silly little remote control that didn't make much sense.  The next set top box NTL gave us came with a remote control that appeared to have been designed with the ability to always be sticky to touch as a priority.

The current set-top box we have is the Virgin Media V+ box, I believe it has been superseded by a Tivo box, but as plenty of other folk must still have the V+ box I'm going to share with you a little fix that might just save you a bunch of trouble.

How the Virgin Media V+ box died

I was watching telly and paused it so go and eat my supper (pizza it was) and when I came back the screen was black, but the little widget that informs the viewer that the program is paused was still showing on the bottom left of the screen.  I couldn't get the box to respond to anything pressed either on the remote or the actual device itself.  I tried the power button; nothing.  I pulled the power lead out of the back, left it for a few minutes and plugged it back in.  Nothing.  Now the V+ appeared to be well and truly dead.  No lights, no whirring, nuffink.

How to fix a dead V+ set top box.

I rang Virgin (by dialling '150' from my landline) and the operative was very sympathetic to my woes, and ran me through his entire repertoire of troubleshooting magic for the issue I was having.  This process involved asking me to switch the thing off and on twice.  After a brief period of presumed noodle-scratching (on his part) he kindly offered to send out an engineer.  When the engineer arrived he picked up the V+ box and as if by magic it sprung to life in his hands.  I was amazed, these Virgin Media guys are always polite and efficient, but I've never seen such a fast repair in all my life.  I asked how he was able to fix the problem so quickly, I'll leave his reply as the last line for this blog post:

'I just switched it on, you had switched it off; there's a power switch next to the power lead.'

01747228096 - who is it?

I just received a call on my VirginMedia line from 01747228096 and got an automated message telling me the caller had a special offer that was only for BT Customers.  Are they just being a tease?  Is the special offer a deal on a Virgin Media account?

I was then given the option to 'opt out' of further calls.  If you are ever given this option don't take it, it's the fastest way to get yourself / your number onto a 'suckers list' that makes you more valuable to other unwanted callers.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Apple Dictation + Toddler = potential genius

I write a LOT of words every day, for a great number of clients and projects, so I've been experimenting with using the 'dictate' function that I found on my Macbook.  On the whole it's been working quite well, but this morning I was writing / dictating a blog post with a little 'help' from my two year old daughter.  Seemingly non-plussed with the topic I was nattering about she threw in her own little questions, affirmations and random noises.  The result on the output of the dictation software was quite remarkable.  In the spirit of literary adventured championed by the wonderful Good London Copywriter website (well, the 'blog' section) I thought I'd share with class.

I guess you could call this the first collaborative project between myself and my daughter.
Dishwashers used to be seen as a bit of them or why not sure that if you stay is oh is out is this what you really see this what is on the mark in my some work well at some time is this what is stop and when he is still what is the eye this what you had me at this what is stop to the bar we've used box is for any many as I say there is any cost about 60 para as I seem to last a long time and I some times there are some from them is with that at the see my and my be very soon are at the very very it is boss at six is for sure is that, flex a row poor to grow if you find the man you'll feel this will see you'll see you can send a lot the time how thing but as I'm reading a: it's and just time out why this is a still come in last and I speak get the ball and now is that some sign's boss made things a little bit you see which is why on the car six this for Sirane is there a C is a light on the answer that it's done.

Bosch Classixx dishwasher check water error

Dishwashers used to be seen as a bit of a luxury, but these days any household with the space can have one of these marvels of the modern age.  The problem with having a dishwasher is that you can come very to dependent on them,  and when they stop working the dirty dishes soon pile up.

We have always bought Bosch becuase they seem to cost very little and last a long time. I think we pay about £60 for each of the dishwasher's we've bought.  However, we don't think of these machines as disposable in any way; A lot of the time they stop working they are actually quite easy to fix. Most Bosch dishwashers have a complex series of error-checking programs that can tell you exactly why your dishes are still covered in remnants of last night's vittles.  If you can figure out which combination of buttons you need to click in what order then you can get the error codes, your next task is figuring out what the hell they mean.

The Classixx range is somewhat easier to diagnose. thanks mainly to the clearly labelled error lights on the front panel.  One error light that has troubled me more than most is the 'Check Water' error.  So I'm going to tell you how to fix it.  The problem with hiring a repair-man to fix a machine that costs so little is that the repair may well be higher than the the cost of a new machine.  That's not to say it shouldn't be fixed though, I think we're all aware that reuse-recycle is much nicer to the trees and bees than chucking stuff away at the first sign of trouble.

How to fix the Bosch Classixx 'check water' error.

If you've got this error message there's a chance your dishwasher has stopped mid-cycle, either through power-cut, the law of random-averages, or because your toddler has figured out how to open the door.   These Classixx don't like it up 'em, by which I mean they don't like being stopped in the flow of their important work.  As long as there actually is water going to your dishwasher then you might yourself scratching your noggin as you stare agape at the 'Check Water' error light, as fears of actually having to wield a washing up brush enter the darker parts of your psyche.  Do not fear, here's how to fix this error message:

Step-by-step guide:

  1. Switch your dishwasher off at the wall, leave it for the length of time it takes you to say 'rum baba makes me wish donuts were sold in kebab shops'.
  2. Explain to whomever happens to be present why you just mentioned 'rum baba'.
  3. Pull the dishwasher out of its little 'ole
  4. Gently (and carefully if full!) tilt the wisher about 45 degree angle (sideways), first left then right.
  5. Clear up the water that spills out.
  6. Put the dishwasher back
  7. Switch the device back on at the wall and wash your dishes!
  8. Buy me a pint, I've just saved you a wodge of cash.

To buy me a pint (£4.30) click the PayPal button below.

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Update - September 2019
This post is now five years old and is still visited many thousands of times a year.  The advice hasn't changed in all that time and I still get a lot of messages from Bosch Classixx dishwasher owners thanking me for helping them fix this check water error.  I'm guessing eventually the number of Bosch Classixx dishwashers still being used will decline, but in the meantime I'm still really happy that this troubleshooting blog post is still helping so many people.  I'm also still really happy that a few people (roughly 1 in 5,000) are so pleased they buy me a pint :)

Update - January 2021
Well this post continues to be very popular, and was viewed 8,424 times in 2020! The only change I've made to this page is to add a Bitcoin donations section. I REALLY appreciate the few people who are kind enough to click the PayPal link for 'buy me a pint' so added a bitcoin QR code. I honestly do think Bitcoin is the way forward for money as a whole, but that's a subject for another time!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pebble watch (UK buyer) - first impressions.

Pebble Watch box
The Pebble watch caught my attention way the hell back when it was just a twinkle in a Kickstarter user's eye.  The concept of a simple watch that connects with my smartphone is incredibly appealing, but the other options on the market were laughably large and woefully under-supported in terms of applications.  I held off investing in Pebble because I wanted to see how much interest it gained, and oh boy did it gain interest, around $10m of interest!

I checked in with the Pebble project website very few months but something was stopping me from putting my hand in my pocket - was this a toy or was it a useful tool?  A couple of things convinced me to buy my own Pebble, the first being yet another bike ride where I missed a bunch of important calls and texts, and the second being the launch of a FourSquare app.  I'm a bit obsessed with FourSquare but getting out my iPhone and staring at the screen every time my little family and I arrive somewhere new can put a bit of a dent in marital bliss.

Read my full review...

Click here to go the Pebble website...

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

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

Go -

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

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 they wouldn't want their customers to receive business emails from they would want them to appear to have been sent from (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'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.


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!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Apple airplay device currently in use - how to fix

I was recently seduced into buying an Apple Airport Express, partly because I've been listening to the radio through my fairly poor sounding Macbook Pro speakers for a few months and it kinda bugged me that I have a nice sounding stereo just a few feet from my computer.  I could run a cable to the headphones socket on the Mac but the fewer cables I have on my desk the better.  We have a few Apple products in the house and (in theory) because I've now signed up for iTunes Match I should be able to listen to my music from my iPhone, but of course that'll sound even more tinny than the Mac.

The Airport Express appealed because I can connect it to my old hi-fi and 'push' my music to from any of my devices.  Well at least that's the theory.  The Airport Express worked a treat from iTunes, but it turns out that's all it appears to be intended for.  So this new Apple device would be no good to listening to the Radio through a browser (er, then through my stereo if you see what I mean).  At least that's what I though until I found a cheap bit of Mac software called 'Airfoil'.

Airfoil allows you to play any sound from any program on your Mac through your Airport Express.  Lovely.  I cheerfully listened to the radio for a morning, then I fancied a break from other people's programming for a chunk of my own, so shut the browser and fired up iTunes.  Problem.  When I tried to play iTunes through the Airport Express I got a message that said something along the lines of:

Airplay device currently in use (blah blah blah).

So I rebooted every Apple product in the house but it still didn't fix the error message.  Then I realised how to fix it, and here's how:

  1. Go to the Airfoil popup and choose 'iTunes' from the drop down box at the top of the software.

  2.  Enjoy iTunes through your Airport Express.
It would appear that the other user who is using iTunes is Airfoil, which means it's you using it, which means you should probably apologise to anyone around you who you just accused of hogging the Airplay device!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Badges - where it all began.

Badges were hugely fascinating to me when I was a kid, and so they remain to this day.  When I was still in short-trousers (probably because I'd put holes in my long-trousers doing 'skidders' on my knees in the school playground) the local agricultural show (The Suffolk Show) was my primary source of badges.  In among the tractor-reversing and fluffiest livestock contests local car dealerships and household brands would give away badges like they smelled of poo and they wanted them off their stand as soon as there was a mug kid passing who would take them off their hands (which was possibly very much the case with the fertiliser companies).

There's only so much much tee shirt space a pre-teen has available for badges - and there were some really big 'pancake' badges about in the 70s and 80s - so I kept my treasured metal badges on a sheet of curtain backing fabric that my mother stole from a local National Trust property. That's a lie; it was English Heritage.  Actually that's another lie; my mum handmade curtains and I loved to help her but I wasn't going to admit to that in public, but then I figured 'why not''; we live in an era where Etsy sellers are considered godlike and folk can get away with flogging a zine made of two bits of spit-recycled bog roll and the hem of a rotting teddy bear for a tenner.  I'm out and proud; I enjoyed helping my mum make curtains.  Now where were we?

Oh yeah. Badges.  Victor Kiam had a shave one day and liked it so much he bought the company who made the shaver.  I liked badges so much I started a company that makes badges, and they're still making them, although now they have fancy machines and people with actual motor-skills rather than me sitting watching Simpsons at 2am making ten badges an hour.

If you need badges go see my old friends at Best Badges Ltd.  They'll do you proud.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Suffolk cycling humour

I found these gems in a book of Suffolk Humour published in 1976.  We were having lunch at The Steamboat Tavern, which is full of all sorts of interesting bits and bobs like this.

One of the aspects of this book that really intrigued me is that every person who had written into the publication with had their home address printed under their submission!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Heatmap showing every ride I rode in Ipswich during 2013

Following on from the previous post here's a map showing every ride I made around town during the entirety of 2013.  The lighter the colour the more times I rode that route.

Friday, January 03, 2014

2013 - my year in the saddle (a sort of review)

This post may be of limited appeal to anyone other than me, but each year I like to look back over the previous year's cycling and see how I did.  If you'd like to see last year's report then go here...

In 2013 I cycled a total of 2,508 miles according to Endomondo or 4,752 miles according to Garmin Connect, I'm inclined to think Endomondo is correct.  I used a sync tool called Tapirik to sync my Garmin, Endomondo and Strava data and somewhere along the line things got a bit crazy.  In 2012 I cycled 4,076 miles so in terms of miles-covered my stats are much lower overall than they were in 2012.

Miles cycled in 2013 by ME
In 2013 I burned 173,509 calories riding my bikes

In 2013 I commuted less and concentrated more on longer, steadier rides.  I have become even more of a stats geek by investing in a Garmin GPS, along with a heart rate monitor and cadence monitor.  I am quite frankly in stat-geek heaven.  This year I ditched my old mountain bike, I was never using it and quite frankly I hated it.  I lusted after a new MTB for a while, until I went proper mountain biking in the Lake District and found out that not only is cycling up the side of muddy mountains more exhausting that I could ever imagined, hurtling down the other side is quite exquisitely terrifying.  More on that tale HERE...

Despite cycling for most of my life I had never had anything nicked.  Until THIS happened.

This year I broke my previous top speed by just over 10mph by reaching an astonishing 52.1mph during a ride in the Lake District.  This was also my first ever ride that took in some proper hills, meaning a ride of just over 40 miles was more tiring than some of the 100 mile sportives I've done!  The stats are HERE, the story is HERE.

The map
This year's map looks very different to last year's map!

Chest colds, parenting and mechanical debacles have considerably reduced the number of miles I have done this year compared to last year, but the variety of my cycling has been marvellous and I've pushed pedals in many new locations.  I reverted back to working for myself in 2013 so 'lost' the opportunity to commute to a place of work, which on the whole has been positive as my thighs have got smaller, which means they're putting less strain on my back.  My long-distance ability will hopefully approve in 2014, albeit at a cost to my sprinting ability, which I'm fine with.

P.S. Strava KOMs
I ended 2013 with 35 KOMs on Strava, 67 podium places, 146 top tens, 261 top twenty fives and 384 top fifty rankings.  To be honest I don't think I'll ever top these stats, and I'm not sure I want to.  Cycling has become a lot more personal over 2013 than it was in 2012 (when it was a battle to shift flab) and I really want to do more epic rides at reasonable paces this year.