Archive for June, 2016

The BMW F800GT is, in my view, a well-looking bike. Not as sharp as the R1100S, but more than “nice”. Of course, the engine is completely different: it’s not a boxer, even if it tries to sound like one (at least, that’s what many reviewers try to tell me).

One of the advantages of the boxer engine is the protection offered by the cilinders pointing sideways. “Dropping” the bike when you’re (almost) not moving means that the cilinders will take the fall and thus avoid damage to the fairing, the mirrors, etc. Put cilinder protectors on your boxer and at least that kind of fall will not cost you an arm and a leg.

What are the possibilities for similar protection on the F800GT ?

  • Wunderlich and Touratech have crash bars for the F800GT in their catalog. I haven’t seen them mounted on a machine in real life, and I’m not entirely convinced of their capabilities: their position doesn’t seem right (at least on photos). They’re not exactly beauties either.
  • Adding panniers would help too, of course, just as on the boxers. But I don’t need them at this moment, and buying them as crash protection and not as a means for transporting luggage is a bit too weird for my taste.
  • Several well-known players offer frame sliders for this particular bike: Wunderlich, R&G, SW Motech, and Puig are some of them.
The Wunderlich frame slider on my bike

The Wunderlich frame slider on my bike

I have pondered the question since I bought the F800GT; last week I asked my dealer to add the Wunderlich frame sliders on my machine. The dealer tells me they really do help in protecting the side panels of the bike, and I don’t want a repeat of what happened a three weeks ago. Fellow F800GT rider Daboo writes: “I stalled the bike just as I was starting a sharp right turn from my driveway to the main street” – and that is almost exactly what happened to me as well.

I should have decided earlier: those fairing panels aren’t cheap!

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I prefer to let the designers and builders of this small jewel explain it themselves, so head over to the APWorks website to learn all about the “Light Rider” – or perhaps even order one? It costs just 50.000 €, after all ;-)

This is what the generative design algorithms of the Airbus subsidiary APWorks came up with

This is what the generative design algorithms of the Airbus subsidiary APWorks came up with

It looks more or less like a bicycle, it weighs hardly more than an e-bike, but it tops out at 80 kmh, so it’s not a toy! It will certainly be interesting to see the next generation of this bike. Wired writes:

… the Light Rider isn’t meant to be ridden through the Alps. At least not yet. The team is working on another version that will be able to go faster and farther.

In the mean time, I’ll will try and plan a trip to the mountains with my current bike. Or perhaps I should move to München, to be closer to APWorks and the Alps?

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Call it sheer luck, but the weather hasn’t be very June-like this month. In fact, many parts of Europe, including Belgium, have seen torrential rains the last few weeks. But when my friends and I ride our yearly Spring Tour on our bikes, the weather is dry and even sunny (at least partially ;-). Ditto today – yeah!

The F800GT on the N758 in Bilzen, Belgium

The F800GT on the N758 in Bilzen, Belgium

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If I would still be riding my BMW R1100S today it might have looked a bit like this one:

I found this picture recent ly on a second-hand listing.

I found this picture recent ly on a second-hand listing.

I had been contemplating a more upright position earlier, and I had already investigated similar so-called “street fighter” handle bars. But in the end my right leg decided the F800GT was a better choice ;-)

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If you like “ASCII art”, then you probably already know that this phenomenon started a long time before computers and daisywheel printers. The article “The Typewriter ASCII Portraits of Classic Hollywood and the Obsessive Fans Who Made Them” on the Pictorial website explains it all, and shows a fine selection of samples from the 1920’s.

"Harold Lloyd, a type sketch done by Katherine H.Parsons"

“Harold Lloyd, a type sketch done by Katherine H.Parsons”

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The speed of light is, according to currently accepted science, “the maximum speed at which all matter and hence information in the universe can travel” (Wikipedia). That’s faster than fast for most of us here on earth: there is no way we will be getting close to that speed on a motorcycle, for example, or in a plane.

BoingBoing pointed me to a fantastic animation on Vimeo, that shockingly illustrates how slow the speed of light turns out to be on a cosmic scale: “Riding Light“.

This animation illustrates, in realtime, the journey of a photon of light emitted from the surface of the sun and traveling across a portion of the solar system, from a human perspective.

This is what you reach after almost three quarters of an hour: the orbit of Jupiter.

(Click the image for a larger version, or go to https://vimeo.com/117815404 for the complete animation)

(Click the image for a larger version, or go to https://vimeo.com/117815404 for the complete animation)

That’s just “two blocks away” in terms of the solar system (Jupiter is the second planet beyond Earth, counting from the sun out). Also notice how the stars in the background hardly move once the first few minutes of traveling have passed. Humbling, is it not?

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Motorcycle Touring Envy

An Oregon Expatriate posted this picture to the ADV Rider forum, and boy, am I jealous. Yep, I’m jealous – not as much about the bike, but about the landscape the bike is allowed to roam in!

ORexpat's ride on the Olympic Peninsula

ORexpat’s ride on the Olympic Peninsula

Never mind though – I’ll be adding a few hundred kilometers to the odometer of the new F800GT myself during the coming days ;-)

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Bye Bye, Woozweb

I have been using the services of the french Woozweeb to monitor the availability and the performance of a few of my own websites since many years. A free Woozweb account allowed me to define up to five (later up to ten) URLs to be checked on a regular base (I don’t recall the exact frequency, but it was multiple times per hour). Woozweb would accumulate the responses, display a graph of response times as well as the latest HTTP response code, analyse the response headers, etc. Every so three of four weeks, I would check my account, to verify that the different providers were not failing to do what they promised: host a responsive website.

This should be part of your content management solution: after all, content isn’t worth anything if it is not available. So monitoring your site is an essential part of your CM system, even if you do so in a separate tool.

Although I received a mail to extend my Woozweb account just few days ago, an attempt to log into the site just showed a shutdown notice:


I will be on the lookout for alternative solutions like Woozweb (suggestions are welcome). And remember: if you’re going to close down your service, make sure not to send out renewal notices after the shutdown!

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I have been writing about KeePass since 2009, because I have been using this tool (in one of its many guises) since then. Last year, around June, I tried to upgrade to the then latest version 2.29 of the official release. On my Mac, all in all, things did not work out that well. To install the (.NET version of the) program, you have to:

  • Install Mono
  • Install XQuartz
  • Download keepassXXX.zip (where XXX is the chosen version number)
  • Start a terminal session, go to the unzipped folder and start the app using this command:

    mono keepass.exe

    (which looks silly on a Mac, and there are ways around it, but nevertheless…)

  • Choose the correct XML type if your data are coming from a KeePassX 1.x “export to XML”.

Using it isn’t intuitive – remember: KeePass is not a Mac app, and that means Command-S will NOT save your file; you have to use Ctrl-S. If you resize a window, or change the width of a column, strange things will happen on the screen. Don’t try drag-and-drop operations: they will crash the app with error messages saying: “System.NotSupportedException: Implement me” or worse.

After a few edits (an import of the old database in XML format + choosing a new icon for a group), trying to edit a second group entry crashed the app. In the console I saw this error message:

: CGContextDrawImage: invalid context 0x0. This is a serious error. This application, or a library it uses, is using an invalid context and is thereby contributing to an overall degradation of system stability and reliability. This notice is a courtesy: please fix this problem. It will become a fatal error in an upcoming update.

Well, I did not find a good explanation for this problem, and ended up deleting everything so that I could continue to use the older KeePassX version I have since long.


But a few weeks ago, I did find a relatively simple way to replace that old version: Keeweb. It’s a multiplatform application, built on the same principles as the Atom editor: both are based on the ‘electron’ framework. So basically you’re running a local application built with web technologies. And yes, it does work in the same manner on my Macs, on Linux machines and even on Windows. I like it, because it is devoid of complicated installation procedures, and that simplifies things when you only need it occasionally on your desktop. To top it off, there is also an offline web version of the same application. What more can you want? Check it out, you may like it too.

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Ye Olde Love…

I may be riding an F800GT now (and liking it, yes indeed), but somehow I miss my previous bike: the BMW R1100S. Now if only I had mountains such as these in my backyard…

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You might say that “average” isn’t too bad, when we’re talking about our solar electricity production numbers. Only two weeks ago, I was even afraid that those numbers wouldn’t even get close to the average number of 290 KWh. But we still had the very-much-below-average month of April to recover, so I hoped for more.

(Click for a full size version of this picture on Flickr!)

(Click for a full size version of this picture on Flickr!)

The last few days, however, brought us lots of rain and very little light, so I won’t complain too hard ;-)

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