28 February 2013

SanDisk Eye-Fi 4GB SD Card

What are the benefits of the SanDisk Eye-Fi SD card over the standard SanDisk SD card? On the face of it, not that much.
I bought this one as a gadget. It was at the very right price but still more costly than the standard 4GB card.
The card doesn't give the full 4gb as it contains a little software that is installed on the PC. Firstly, I installed it on our Acer Aspire One notebook. It's most likely the computer we would take with us on a trip as it only has a 10.1" LED screen and is very compact.
The software loads really easily and there are basically three steps: 

1 - Stick the card in its own USB reader in a slot.
2 - Install the Eye-Fi Center and follow the instructions to set it up for your wifi.
3 - Put the card in a camera and take a pic.....

It took about 10 minutes to load and about half a minute to recognise the card in the camera and then a small window appears in the bottom right of the screen and it loads the pix.
In the Eye-Fi Center you can set up other wifi networks and also direct-link, that connects the card and computer when the wifi is turned off.  I haven't had time to test that, but will later and report back. Without wifi I can't upload this review.
How to demonstrate?  Take a pic, then as it appears take another.....

Another option is in the Eye-Fi Center is that you can set "Endless Memory", effectively a redundancy level for photos. It saves you deleting the photos off the card as you can set a percentage of the card, default is 50%, that will be freed by automatically deleting downloaded photos to keep the card available for new photos.
I actually bought the card for the Nikon D50 and came unstuck as Nikon built a camera that can only take a 2GB SD card!!  My older Canon 300D takes a 4GB CF2 card! 

So far so good. I'll report back when I have been able to use it a little more.
UPDATE: I tried the direct connection option and it didn't work at all. Switching off wifi should switch the card/computer interface to connect directly. I gave it five minutes and nothing happened so I turned on the wifi and within a few seconds photos I'd taken started to upload.
I decided as the Eye-Fi Helper has a link for Technical Support that I would raise a call about the problems I have had and I have since had the initial response back.

Macro Messing

Macro Messing, originally uploaded by InvictaMoto.
Playing with the Samsung S85 Compact. Initially I was playing with the newly bought SanDisk Eye-Fi card.

But sitting in the living room there are a limited things to take, so I wondered how the macro element worked. Choosing the flower icon puts the camera in macro mode and it focusing pretty closely to a few everyday objects.

The camera is 8.2MP. Almost anti-diluvian by today's double figure MP ratings!

Samsung S85 8.2MP Compact Camera
Another couple of photos taken in macro mode....


End of the month MAG news - Local and EU

Three new secure bike parking sites are to be provided for riders in Buxton, at the heart of the beautiful Peak District. Derbyshire County Council have announced that hoops will be in place within the month on 'The Viaduct' near the main shopping precinct.

They've also confirmed that a site on The Crescent, at the other end of the shopping area is to be similarly equipped and a drop kerb and secure installations are to go in at the Train station too. This is the essence of what local MAG activists can achieve. Sean Buckley and all at Peak and District MAG should take a bow for sticking at it for the 16 month campaign.

Other great news is that the work of Leicester MAG has led the City Council to consider trials of bikes in bus lanes. The announcement comes after Ian Underwood and the team at Leicester MAG submitted written and oral evidence to the transport scrutiny committee.
Activists in Coventry continue their campaign for the same opportunity, but have enlisted the help of the local press. After their success getting secure convenient parking in the City, movement on bus lanes has been slower, but now The Coventry Evening Telegraph has heard about the local campaign and at very short notice arranged a photoshoot so they could run the story. Baz Price the Coventry MAG rep managed to pull the troops together for a lunchtime picture at the dedicated bus lane on Foleshill Road next the inner ring road. This could be one of the routes that would provide safer, swifter access into and out of the city centre for riders of all types of powered two wheeler and encourage more drivers out of their cars and onto fun, cleaner, motorised transport.
I'm also pleased that activists have even changed the definition of the word biker!

The Oxford University Press who publish the Oxford English Dictionary, have responded positively to the MAG activist's campaign to change their definition of a 'biker'. Back in September 2012 MAG activists Tracy Hammond from Peterborough and Jenny Cook from Paignton among others, wrote to the University Press highlighting that those who saw themselves as bikers were a diverse group of people and not just 'long-haired and dressed in dirty denims' as their original definition stated.
After a string of correspondence lasting four months, the OED has at last acknowledged the offence caused and the inaccuracy of their entry.
The new definition, as of 22nd Feb, reads "A motorcyclist, especially one who is a member of a gang or group" Rather unfortunately its illustrative expansion is 'a biker was involved in a collision with a car' so one stereotype has been replaced with another, albeit a marginally less offensive one!
It is however, another good example of how MAG members undertake to achieve change and improve the lot of motorcycling and don't just moan. Well done all.

But next week will be time for all of us to get back to letter writing.
MAG's NC is currently debating our response to the report which has been released by the Rapporteur for the Transport and Tourism Committee of MEPs. (TRAN)
TRAN is leading the EU Parliament on the EU Super MoT and the Rapporteur is the committee member chosen to provide the guidance for MEPs.
His name is Werner Kuhn MEP and his report contains 36 amendments and his considered opinion...
Some of these amendments are good - like removing the requirement for an MoT to happen every time a vehicle is sold.
Others aren't so good - like adding belt and braces to the idea that mot testing and vehicle repair must be kept very separate, such that anyone who's worked on a bike will not be permitted to test it at any subsequent time!
So there's good and bad, but the main thing is that although all of the EU member countries (except Italy) want bikes to be excluded entirely and for the Regulation to be downgraded to a directive (thus letting the UK pretty much keep the system we've got) the MEPs seem intent on sticking with it.
It's an interesting alliance, the governments of Europe and the citizens on one side and the elected representatives on the other with the Commission.
I hope you'll be able to help next week.
Paddy Tyson
Campaigns Coordinator
Motorcycle Action Group

17 February 2013

Oldham Athletic Supporters Club Badge

Going through a box at Mum's today as part of the clear out, I found this badge. I have searched high and low for it for a number of years, then forget, then search again!

All the time it was in a box tucked away in her house with a load of other stuff.

It was given to me when I was an adorable kid at the football (soccer my US chums!) who stood behind the goal at Boundary Park with my Aunt Linda and her friend Anne. My Dad however used to sit in the stand with his friends.

It is a little battered but I was given it before my brother was born in 1960!

The back is a "bat shape" as it was intended to fit in a lapel button hole,  that seem to have been consigned to sartorial history in the modern era.

13 February 2013

Celebrate with MAG - be proud to be 40!

Although we will be holding events throughout the year to celebrate our 40th, Blackpool MAG are hosting the Official Birthday Party over the weekend of our actual Birthday 28th-30th June and tickets are available here now.


But if you can't make it one of our events this celebrate MAG's 40th birthday with a fantastic retro t-shirt.

Be proud to be 40!  Life's just beginning!

Grey or black Only £10 and ladies fit V-neck only £13 - Follow the link, but note the image of the female v-neck shirt is yet to be updated...


Paddy Tyson

10 February 2013

9 February 2013

First Ride of 2013

Today, I managed to get out for the first ride of the year.  It wasn't until the afternoon and the sun was still up but it was very cold. According to the car thermometer it was 5°C outside, but once on the move the cold cut through my jeans as if I was riding in just my underwear!

It was also the first time I could wear my new Shoei helmet.  First impressions are that it is light and much quieter than I have been used to over the last few years.  Once I work out how to control the air flow at lower speeds to stop it steaming up it will be perfect.  My glasses fit perfectly without any pressure on the lining.

I can't wait for the better weather. Allons-y!

I have been toying with a new bike.  But what to get?  But, as soon as I get on the GS and go for a ride I wonder how I could ever consider selling it.

It's not been used since the end of December. I always worry after freezing weather and snow that it will not start, maybe just hear that click-click as the starter barely turns, but no, it fired first time. Maybe the Odyssey battery I bought last spring has actually lived up to its reputation as being powerful.

8 February 2013

Update on the Super MoT

Just before Christmas we reported that the EU Council of Ministers (The National Governments) decided to exempt bikes from the new Super MoT and downgrade the proposals from a Regulation, to a Directive, which would give each country a little leeway in what they introduced.

The Transport and Tourism Committee (TRAN) of MEPs who are the leading committee on this subject, revealed in early meetings that they however, seem happy to believe the statistics the Commission put forward about safety and emissions improvements, even though the research was done by the private company (DEKRA) that wants to provide the testing facilities should it all become law. To that end, they now wish to fight the Council, keep the proposal as a Regulation and include bikes again.

The DEKRA figures claim that 8% of bike accidents are caused by component failure which wouldn't happen if the bikes had regular testing. This is at odds with all other studies, which the Commission and most MEPs seem oblivious to.
The Committee were willing to listen to evidence from other sources though and to that end they called a public hearing on 22nd January in Brussels. They invited the Road Worthiness Testing industry, the motorcycle industry, road safety institutes and even the car lobby FIA, but alas, just like IMCO and the Type Approval Regulation, they wouldn't let FEMA speak, so no motorcyclists were directly represented. FEMA were allowed watch though, so were able to fill us in on what occurred.

The RWT industry said that cars crash more often if their last inspection was over 12 months previously and that bikes crash more frequently in countries without an MoT for bikes. This clashes with other studies which don't have quite the same commercial connection, and it doesn't explain why countries like Denmark and the Netherlands, who don't have an MoT, have the best road safety records.

MAG was chastised for earlier suggesting that the Super MoT could be used in conjunction with the TA regulation as a method of enforcing anti-tampering by owners, so it was interesting to hear the ACEM (bike manufacturers) representative say that the Super MoT as proposed would prevent riders from tampering with their engines!

Thankfully the FIA did at least speak out against the interests of the commercial sector. The representative noted that other studies find very different results and those countries noted for their strict attitude to safety – Sweden and Switzerland – have been reducing the frequency of their testing regime because they can find no link between frequency of test and safety. She even went so far as to say that since bikes generally cover lower mileages, they should be excluded.

The other good news is that not all the MEPs on the committee seem prepared to follow the commercial interest. Phil Bennion is the Lib Dem MEP for the West Midlands who attended a huge Riders Are Voters meeting near Coventry last year to discuss EU legislation. He said he hadn't been to such a big event and was impressed with the bike lobby.

Phil Bennion is also the shadow rapporteur on the Committee, so he will be steering all of the European liberal MEPs when it comes to parliamentary vote, currently timetabled for July.  He certainly seems to have listened when he met riders in Coventry: he raised concern about genuine spare part availability on older machinery, suggested more flexibility for member states to make up their own minds and decide if they want to test bikes or not.

Another feisty Brit was Jacqueline Foster, Conservative MEP for the North West who said the costs would be excessive for imperceptible gain, that the impact assessment was flawed, that older vehicle users would be badly affected and finally, that the RWT industry shouldn't present as fact, unproven stats about lives that would be saved!

Unfortunately the Chairman of the Committee, Brian Simpson the NW Labour MEP, looks prepared to go against the interests of the British Government for purely party political reasons, which is a huge shame. And the Rapporteur (who will lead the committee) is a German MEP Werner Kuhn who appears determined to implement a TuV type German system.

At the end of the meeting he summarised the TRAN Committee priorities as:

·         The highest RWT standards should be harmonised in Europe
·         There should be a separation of testing and repairing
·         Motorcycles should be included
·         Testing frequency doesn't matter!

Basically, that list is what the commercial testing industry wants, but this time we aren't alone in our campaign, as we have the weight of the National Governments on our side and not just the UK this time.
A targeted letter to MEPs on the committee will be available soon.
Have a lovely weekend

Paddy Tyson

5 February 2013

Incognito Insect Repellent

I bought this at the Destinations travel show at the weekend. I suffer badly when there are mosquitos about. The number of hours sleep lost hunting for them in hotel and apartments all across Europe are almost incalculable. One mozzie is all it takes. Claire is often in the same room and not a nibble, but I am simply fast food to the damned useless creatures.

Even the satisfaction of killing it doesn't make up for the days of irritation from the bite and the huge red bites on exposed skin.

It is reputed to be the best non-deet on the market. This is all natural and safe for all the family.

Some years ago in Finland the product called Johnson's "Off!" was available and it was very effective.

Walking around the lakes with it on was like having a force field with the damned mozzies leaving me alone.

The Johnson's product is not available in the UK, but an alternative called Autan is, and it is good but not 100% perfect.

Here's hoping that Incognito will fit the bill.

Shoei Qwest Paragon TC1

I don't like to spend money too quickly, but with the sale on and stocks dwindling, rather than weeks to make up my mind I had days.  Painstaking research into which model to buy after I had decided to get the Shoei.

It comes with the Pinlock posts on the visor and the insert itself. The inserts usually cost about £25. On top of that it also has the wind reducing skirt that fits in the chin piece.

I was tempted by a website offering the XR1100 at £199.99 but it had to come from Italy and although it claimed to be postage free, I had severe doubts that I'd ever see it,  or that matter, my money again.

The UK has a testing system that gives products a British Standard, although since successive governments sold out to Brussels, we have an ECE standard for motorcycle helmets that is actually lower than our BSI standards.

There is also another test called SHARP and the Qwest gets 5* out of a possible 5* - http://sharp.direct.gov.uk/testsratings/shoei-qwest

What struck me was how light the helmet is.  When I pulled the box out of the boot (trunk my US friends) of the car, I had to look to see if it was actually in there!  The claimed weight is 1300g or 1.3kg which is the equivalent to a fraction under 3lbs.   It feels very light when on the head too!

It won't see too much action for a while as the weather has turned cold again with temps hovering about 1°C.

It gives me a chance to see about fitting the Cardo gear.

MAG make even greater impact in European Riders' activism

FEMA (the Federation of European Motorcyclists Associations) had their first full meeting of 2013 last weekend in Germany, and I'm pleased to announce that MAG continues its involvement at the centre of riders' rights in Europe with the election of Pat Van Alst as FEMA's Director of Finance.

Pat already acts as Finance Officer for MAG UK and has an excellent track record, but his nomination and successful election to the FEMA Board of Directors cements MAG's commitment to FEMA. Pat had the whole-hearted backing of our own National Committee. It's pure coincidence that he rides an ST1100 Pan European!

FEMA's current President, Gerard Livett, another MAG UK member and former regional Rep for London, has been in the post for 4 years, but has decided that he should step down. When Gerard was elected to the Presidency he did so on the platform of wishing to protect and enhance motorcycling and he has certainly done that, along with all of the team based permanently in Brussels as FEMA's respect continues to climb.

It should be noted that both President and Director of Finance are unpaid, voluntary roles, undertaken by individuals committed to ensuring motorcycling survives.

Congratulations Pat!

Paddy Tyson
Campaigns Coordinator
Motorcycle Action Group

3 February 2013

New helmet or old helmet?

That is the question.
My Nitro N700V is getting to the point where the trim around the padding that runs from ear to ear around the rear of the helmet has started to crack and drop off leaving the foam underneath exposed. Structurally it's perfectly safe but it is getting on for 9 or 10 years old.....
The other option is the expensive white elephant known as the Schuberth C2, that I bought just a few days short of six years ago at the bike show in London. Although a great helmet I have never been able to fit the Cardo kit to it, even with the extra long boom that Cardo sent me to test.

I'll keep it, but I need something to replace the Nitro for everyday use and provide the same sort of comfort and fit as the Schuey.

Over the years I have had both Arai and Shoei helmets, the Arai I had was a Freddie Spencer replica (remember him?) and the Shoei was a GRV in Eddie Lawson colours. I determined that I am actually a Shoei head shape. The current Arai models in the shops were very tight around the forehead.

I had a trip to Laguna in Ashford to have a look and fell immediately for a Shoei Qwest in a vivid red and black. The photo off the web doesn't do it justice, and mine shows the price tag.

The price looked good and had the Internet on my phone worked, I might have been able to Google and see that it is being offered about £75 less than the cheapest on offer on the web!

Need to be there are 10am tomorrow when they open! Fingers crossed that they have a box fresh one for me.....

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