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Monday 15 September 2008

Interior Decoration For The Leet [DrDave]

Hello Lairlords. A short blog, seeking the wisdom of my peers.

I'm redecorating my home office, where I "work". And I want a decent desk. I don't want one of those mentalist computer desks with fold out flaps and keyboard shelves that jitter and jive when your typing approaches a reasonable pace. I want something long and flat, maybe with some drawers or storage off to one side, but enough workspace to do a couple of monitors, a printer and maybe a novelty dancing plastic flower. Wood, quite light but I'm flexible. About £100 if that's realistic.

So far, my front runner is an Ikea job, but I find myself a little uninspired by that. Please to make recommend.

[Also, an office chair - nothing to expensive, but must have a galant name like "the Matadore", or "the Faustian Lament"]

Friday 12 September 2008

Bike To Work [Spiny]

I got a bike through the government cycle to work scheme* last November, but was too much of a pussy to start till the clocks changed. Having done the commute a few times a week since May, I thought I'd share some of my hot tips & gear.
  • The Bike The bike I chose was a Specialized Allez Elite, mainly because a while ago I'd ridden a friends M4 Stumpjumper & been well impressed. That & the fact that they're red & thus fast :) Carbon seat post, forks & stays help reduce some of the road buzz & the geometry is very comfy. Specialized BG fit saddles are also very good, with a cut out to reduce pressure on your perenium so your old man doesn't go permanently to sleep. You may be tempted to remove the (by the law) fitted bell, but I moved mine under the stem & have found it very useful to warn walkers to clear the way. It usually takes a few dings to rouse people from their catatonic state but the courtesy is appreciated. As the bike is a bit of a racer I fitted some clip on mudguards which have been handy for the sub tropical conditions of this summer. They come off nice & easy too for when you take your bike somewhere that has Sun. This time of year you also need lights. LED Rears are much of a muchness, but I've been really pleased with the Cateye EL530 front I bought. I needed to replace the front tyre, as the originally fitted Bontrager got pretty cut up from road crap. Like a fool, I bought the same again, which lasted about a week, and strangely was very noisy. After a few enquiries, I settled on another replacement Continental GP 4000. This was a bitch to get over the rim (I guess Germans have strong thumbs), but it's a great tyre. Robust, grips well & intact after a few weeks abuse so far.
  • Clothing I'm a big fan of Endura stuff from my MTB days and have just bought a second MT500 long sleeve jersey. It's fab, really well made, decent pockets & zips. Wiggle have these as discontinued so I'd pick one up quick if you fancy one. Jut make sure to wash on cool < 40C as some of the Scotchlite bits on mine have peeled. I have a Goretex for the rain, but it's not high-vis (read "eye-burning yellow") so I'd like to grab an Altura Night Vision o Endura Luminite when funds allow. Socks are pretty important & De Feet Wooly Boolies are fab. They're pretty good at keeping your feet nice & comfy in heat or cold. I've been pleased with the Specialized Shoes I got for Xmas too, though I reckon the comps may be worth the extra for the snugger ratchet fit. Again, dead comfy.
  • Gadgets My Nokia 6220 Classic has been a surprisingly great bike accessory with the addition of Nokia Sports Tracker. As well as tracking your ride with the built in GPS it will geo tag your photos, place them on your routes, even place the mp3s you were listening to too. There's also a gadget for iGoogle. For phone protection, I picked up an Aquapac Micro The phone remains fully useable, but nice & dry, which is handy when it's in your back pocket recording your your route home in the pissing rain. This one's even a UK product \0/. Back to the Jerries for a rucksack though & the Ortlieb Velocity has been uber. Holds a stack of shit (tm) and is completely and utterly waterproof, and almost as importantly big and yellow with reflective logos. There's a handy detachable pouch inside for a few shower things & keys etc. The waist and chest straps keep it very stable on the bike, as do the shaped shoulder straps. Cyclecraft is a great book if you're at all unsure about riding in traffic or need to help your kids with the same. I bought it more for reassurance really, but still picked up some useful tips to avoid being knocked off by stupid car drivers. I'd also recommend The Haynes Bike Book. I've had my copy years & could do with another with updated stuff like v-brakes.
  • 'Tinternet Resources
    • Sportstracker, see above. Also has a Widget to put on iGoogle, Facebook or wherever. The dev blog is here.
    • Wiggle Good web shop, often has offer codes.
    • SJS Cycles another good shop, very nice helpful lady on the phone when I rang up for an order inquiry.
    • On line GPS File format converter.
    • Bikeradar new & reviews.
    • The Bicycle Tutor videos
    • MapMyRide for an alternative to Sportstracker. This has a nice feature that it puts markers every mile of your route.
    • Giro. The best helmets. You may think they look stupid, but you'll look more stupid being fed your liquidised Sunday lunch with a spoon for the rest of your life. You may as well get a cool one.
    • Immac for the legs... just kidding ;)

All in all I'm really glad I've started the commute with cycling, I feel loads better for it, dropped two belt notches & filling the car up half as often. Win!

* They don't help the image of cycling by having crap pictures like this twat but you can't have everything I suppose.

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