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Berlin Cycling Again

The past few days I’ve been travelling around Europe – through Amsterdam and Berlin. I decided to do the same cycle tour as I’d previously done when I was in Berlin two years ago. I’d done it before but I did enjoy it, and whilst the sights I would see again would be the same, I would have a different tour guide and therefore the tour would be slightly different. Eileen had also never seen the sights, so doing it with her would give us the chance to see things together.

At the same time, we purchased tickets to do one of the other tours that the Fat Tire Bike company do, around the palaces of Potsdam.

Berlin City Tour

The ride around Berlin City was cold – I’d learned from my previous trip and had brought some gloves (getting a pair of these from Decathlon in The Hague earlier in the holiday), though the firm now offer some fancy gardening gloves for those that hadn’t come prepared. Mind, we hadn’t quite considered that it would be snowing in Berlin when we arrived, but the temperatures today were about 5℃ so it was still chilly.

I didn’t get to many pictures this time around, mainly due to only taking my iPhone and the gloves not being able to operate the camera on the iPhone with them on. I did manage to get a few different photos however.

Brandenberg Tor

The route covered the main buildings in Berlin that you’d probably want to see whilst there as a tourist and some of the lesser known sights, all the while you get to hear some of the history of the city from your guide.

Berlin Siegessäule

It’s an interesting tour, and as expected, the tour guide gave slightly different facts and figures so even though I did it two years ago, the ride felt different (and there was a slight difference in the routes we took as well, so I guess it kind of was!)

Reichstag

Potsdam Tour

I wasn’t to aware of Potsdam, other than when I went through it on the train to Magdeburg that I saw it had some pretty fancy looking palaces and that I later discovered that it featured the Bridge of Spies, the Glienicker Brücke (Glienicke Bridge), where spies were transferred between the states of East and West Germany.

Yet, cycling around the palace gardens was an inviting tour and getting to see the bridge itself would be good, especially as Id recently watched Bridge of Spies.

The day itself was colder than the first tour and it was forecast rain – something that materialised just as we started the tour! Thankfully, it was a passing shower and it held off for the duration of the tour, only raining (briefly) when we were near the station and the end of the ride.

The ride took us around the palaces of the Prussian kings and the Kaiser. There were some impressive looking buildings there!

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We stopped for lunch in a traditional German restaurant – run by a German brewery (Augustiner-Brau) which turned out to be nicely placed on the tour that we could warm up after the mornings ride! Gloves and hats were a must – there was no snow, unlike the Wednesday when we arrived in Berlin but it was still cold!
What I didnt realise at the time, was that Potsdam was the location where the Allies met to split up Germany after the war in the Potsdam Conference. The tour included a quick tour of the Cecilienhof Palace but we flew round it pretty quickly (as it wasn’t that busy but you also weren’t allowed to take photos without an additional photo ticket!)

Cecilienhof Palace

After the lunch and the stop at Cecilienhof Palace, we moved on to the Bridge of Spies.

Glienicker Brücke

Overall, the ride was good and the rain held off. It was a bit longer than the Berlin one and the group was much smaller – I found that this was much better for speaking to the other members of the group, espeically at lunch where we were able to all sit together on the same table at lunch and therefore we were able to chat to each other. The ride was about the right length and was well organised by the guides. Id happily do another ride with them in a different country as they do have a few shops around the place.

iPad Laptop

I’ve recently been on holiday and decided that I wouldn’t take my laptop with me, I’d stick with my iPad Mini. I felt that I’d be able to do everything I needed to with just iOS.

Turns out, I’m not far wrong.

Keyboard

Perhaps the biggest bugbear was the keyboard. I’ve got the Logitech Keys-to-go and whilst it’s small and lightweight, I’m not a fan of using it. I’ve found that I have to hit the keys quite hard to get them to register and that isn’t that comfy. However, for what I needed the keyboard for whilst travelling, it does the job.

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Zim

Zim has become my journalling software of choice since Day One went to self run cloud sync. Zim doesn’t have an iOS app so I’m not really able to get the full effect of using it on my iPad. However, it stores all of it’s data in text files, so I’m able to use any text editor on the iPad to write in it.

I use Editorial to edit my files on the iPad, using the workflows I describe here.

With this, I was able to keep up my journalling habit without much hassle and was even able to add photos to my entries. When I got back to my PC, I was able to view everything had worked fine in Zim itself (access either via VNC on my Linux machine or the Linux Virtual Machine I keep on my Mac).

iCab Mobile

Where needed, iCab Mobile was able to download files etc for me where Safari would let me down. For example, with iCab, I was able to download GPX files from Strava and place them in Dropbox ready for when I returned to a computer and could file them on my NAS (as it was down for the duration of my trip, due to a house move).

Overall, it worked pretty well and I didn’t miss the laptop to much – certainly not with the carrying it around!

Mac Mini SSD

It’s clear that SSD’s are far faster than their mechanical counterparts. Using a computer with a spinning hard drive after you’ve been used to an SSD can be tantamount to torture. Sure, it works, but sitting there waiting for items to load can be real drag. One of the worst contenders I’ve seen is Atom (or Outlook if you happen to be using my work laptop – that is SLOW to load). Considering Atom is a text editor and I only really want to open small files, it’s a real pain to wait for it to open so I will often use something else, driving me away from what is a pretty good program (with some plugins added).

However, not everything comes with an SSD as standard. My current work laptop is fitted with a spinner and this really slows the laptop down, which considering it has an Intel i5, shouldn’t really be the case (the 4GB RAM doesn’t help either mind). Likewise, my 2014 Mac Mini comes with the stock 500 GB hard drive fitted (like the laptop, it’s a 5,400 RPM 2.5″ hard drive). Whilst I can’t do anything with my work laptop (as it’s not mine), I could potentially change the hard drive in the Mac Mini.

Or at least I could have done. However, getting to the hard drive of the Mac Mini is fraught with removing it from the case! It’s not the simple case of replacing the 2.5″ hard drive like on my Lenovo X220. However, Apple have made it relatively straight forward to boot a Mac from a USB drive and therefore I’m able to install macOS Sierra onto the external drive and boot from that instead.

Portable SSD

For a while, I was carrying around a Sandisk Portable SSD with me. I’d got the 250GB version and it carried with me my entire music collection, as well as all my documents, pictures, eBooks and even all the projects I was working on at work – it seems 250GB was plentiful. This was encrypted by Bitlocker and worked fantastically well. The device is light and easy to carry and seemed to be better than using a USB stick.

However, the big issue arose from having to carry the device and the USB cable! I’d often forget one and not the other. As a USB 3 drive, I didn’t yet have enough cables lying about the place to make it handy. I used to keep a cable in the office and a cable at home so it was fine between these two locations, but anywhere else, I’d run into trouble. Without the cable, I was unable to access the drive and after a number of times of doing this, I ended up not carrying it with me 1.

So it was sat and home and ended up being the prime candidate for being used for the external drive for the Mac. This should be the ideal size for macOS to be installed, along with the programs I need and for most of my files. The music and larger files that I might not need access to could be left on the internal drive.

Installing

I followed the instructions here. It relied on me downloading a copy of macOS Sierra from the App Store which was the first thing that I did when I got the Mac Mini.

Once that was done, it was simply a case of following the instructions.

This involved download macOS Sierra and then creating a USB install disc. Once that was done, I had to boot from the USB (install disc) and install the system to the USB SSD. Installation was quick and I was then able to boot into the initial install and select the external SSD as the main boot device in the Startup Disk menu of the System Preferences.

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 17.13.17

When I rebooted, I was then greeted with macOS booting from the SSD!

With a bit of editing of partition sizes, I’ve kept the original install of macOS on the computer in case I need it for whatever reason, but I partitioned some of the space for storage of my music and backups.

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This way, the majority of the space on the SSD can be for documents, programs and settings etc of the system.

Niggles

I guess it wouldn’t be a computer without a few set of niggles.

Mainly, it seems that if the screen powers off, the Mac will freeze. I turned off the shut off hard drives option in power settings in case that was the issue but it still seemed to occur, so I’ve just set the time out of the screen to a larger value and it seems to be Ok at the minute.

Other than that, there hasn’t really been any issues, at least not with the install, but I have some issues with my Logitech K350 keyboard and the media buttons.

I can’t really compare the speed of the system to that of the system prior as I didn’t really use it – I just installed the SSD straight away. However, I know when I had the 27” iMac that there was a potential lag on loading programs, where there doesn’t seem to be on this system. The Mac doesn’t (yet) seem to be constrained by only 4GB RAM and a lower power CPU. In fairness, for day to day office use and browsing, I’ve not really run into any issues with it at all. Time will tell as things go on!

Overall, it’s been a worthwhile investment and the Mac flys along. I’d recommend it if you’ve got a Mac Mini (or other Mac) that doesn’t have an SSD and you can’t (or don’t) want to open it up to install one. I don’t realise that mine is running from an external drive at all.


  1. Lesson learned – stick with standard USB devices until enough people have a USB 3 cable lying around! 

iCloud Online

It’s been a while since I’ve sold my Mac and have been relying on Windows and Linux – almost a year has gone by since I got rid of the MacBook Pro. I’ve not really missed it since it’s been gone. In general, I’ve been well served by my Windows gaming rig and my Lenovo X220 laptop running Xubuntu.

In fact, I’ve tended to prefer open source software and my Xubuntu laptop. I’ve taken to using LibreOffice more than Microsoft Word and I’ve taken to using other open source apps, like GNUCash, Zim, KeepassX (and Keepass) and Clementine. I’ve not really had any issues using these over the commercial apps that I used to use.

I did have some issues previously – for example, getting Zim working on the Mac was a right pain and in the end it was part of the reason that drove me away (I was using Zim for some revision and I replaced Day One with as my journaling software 1 when Day One went to a proprietary sync solution which meant it was harder to backup and wasn’t supported on Android). However, in general, it’s been rare for me to think “Boy, I wish I still had my Mac“.

iCloud

Perhaps that is, until today. I tried to use LibreOffice and then Excel to try and setup a tracker (well, a table) so I could track my required Continuing Professional Development hours. My profession requires me to undertake 25 hours a year training and the easiest method of this seems to be the creation of a table and adding new items to it as and when needed.

However, I was put off by the results of both Excel and LibreOffice. Whilst I wasn’t expecting much from LibreOffice (it works, but nothing it produces could be considered other than functional really – it isn’t one for prettiness, at least not without some work), I was at least expecting Excel to produce something reasonable but it seems like I was mistaken.

Functional, but not pretty

It was at this point that I realised that Numbers would give me a decent enough table – but with no access to a Mac, I thought I’d be relegated to using my iPad and having tried to use Excel and Google Sheets on my iPad, this didn’t fill me with joy. Thankfully, iCloud is online as well, so I can make the document I need online via the iCloud website.

There was some initially some issues – iCloud doesn’t like Linux and complains that it isn’t supported (but seems to work fine). Windows has no such issues – at least not if you use a supported broswer. Currently using Vivaldi, and whilst it’s not on the supported list, as it uses Chrome as the base, it doesn’t generate a not supported message.

2017-03-03 17_17_52-CPD Record

Using Numbers online hasn’t proven to be to much different to using Numbers on the Mac. Yes, it’s not quite as nice as using the Mac version, but it gets the job done and I don’t have to use it on the iPad. I believe the version on iCloud is slightly cut back when compared to that of the Mac version, but for the simple table that I’ve needed to create, it hasn’t been an issue.

iWork

In fact, using the Numbers online again has brought back reminders as to how good the iWork suite actually is. Whilst Pages has a number of limitations when compared to Microsoft Word that’s meant that I didn’t use it much (a lack of referencing support made it difficult for using it for for academic reports), Numbers and certainly Keynote give Microsoft a run for their money. In fact, I prefer Keynote for presentation creation – Powerpoint feels quite far behind in comparison. However, Numbers isn’t going to give Excel nightmares when it comes to serious number crunching, but for general day to day use without macros, it performs well and I’ve not really had any issues.

There are a number of apps that I do miss from the Mac days – 1Password on Windows is a poor shadow of its Mac counterpart which is a shame, whilst Windows and Linux are also missing any serious markdown editors – Ulyssess is a fantastic app and something similar doesn’t seem to exist on the other operating systems unless you use something like Simplenote online. I tend to run all my blog posts through Ulyssess on my iPad before posting as it can tidy up any code that I write in Atom on the desktops.

A side effect of using Numbers today is that I’ve found myself defaulting back to the Mac keyboard shortcuts! Yet, I’ve found that I’ve moved a personal finance spreadsheet back into iCloud because the method of using tables in Numbers suits the creation of lots of little tables, rather than the enforced grid layout of Excel/LibreOffice.

It may come to pass that I’ll start using it more often over the coming months for various other items as well. I can’t pretend that the auto sync doesn’t come in handy as well, though without a Mac, backing up the files is restricted to manual downloads of a file, which perhaps isn’t ideal.


  1. You can read about setting it up here where I set up my iPad to create Zim compatible text files in Dropbox. 

Rack Bag Purchase

Rack Bag

A few weeks back, I looked into how I was going to carry around my spare inner tubes and pump on my cyclocross bike, especially after I’ve ended up with two punctures on the cyclocross bike! Part of that was to move the Carradice saddlebag I used on my commuter onto the Verenti and to find another solution for the Dawes.

In the end, I settled for a rack bag, as I thought that with the rack on there, it made sense to have a bag that didn’t leave the rack.

I’d been trying to decide on a bag when I ended up spur of the moment getting one from Evans Cycles whilst I was in there one time – an Evans own brand, FWE Rack Pack. I had been considering either the Carradice Super C Rackbag or the Carradura Rackbag but I think being able to see and feel the bag before purchasing it (and an easy return if it didn’t fit) meant that I went with the Evans one.

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Fitting it to the Dawes was simple – it just attaches via velcro. Put the straps around the underside of the rack and thread it through the D rings and back under and it’s secure. Movement forward and back shouldn’t be an issue on my rack as the straps are near the supports so should be OK in regards to movement.

One of the major downsides I’ve found though is that I can’t use my panniers at the same time. This is because the attachment points for the panniers line up exactly where the velcro mounting strips for the rack bag and therefore they are prevented from attaching.

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This isn’t the end of the world it would seem – as the sides of the bag are able to fold out and allow you to fill them as panniers as well.

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However, there are some occasions where this wont be sufficient! My work laptop is to large for the bag and clearly doesn’t fit – it’s not a huge laptop either (a Dell E6440 – 14″ laptop) but it does mean that I’m limited as to when I can use it!

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Having cycled to work with this bag instead of my panniers, it made a big difference in terms of noise – cycling with this was silent! Usually there is a degree of rattling from where the panniers attach to the rack but with this one, there was none of that. Space wise, it’s smaller than my usual pannier setup, so I’ve got to be more careful with what I take with me. I can fit a change of clothes, towel and my puncture repair kit, but other than that, I can’t carry much more so I’m not sure where I could pack in a packed lunch!

New Bike Parts

I’ve picked up some new bike bits over the Christmas period that I’ve finally got sorted and fixed to my bike.

Brooks Saddle

The first part I got hold of was a new saddle. I wasn’t after one, but this came up for a price that was entirely reasonable so I decided to snap it up.

2017-01-16 18.08.25

I’d been considering getting a Brooks Cambium saddle for the Verenti for a while – it was either that or a Charge Spoon. I’ve a Cambium on my Brompton since they were released and I released that I wasn’t going to get on with a Charge Spoon on my Brompton. If I was going to get one for the Verenti, I wanted it to be a black one to match the colour scheme, but this one was going for a song compared to brand new so I thought I’d let the colour scheme suffer for a bit.

The Spoon is what I’ve got on my Dawes and it’s the same saddle I’ve had for quite a while. I think I’ve moved it from my first bike I bought from when I got my first bike after years off the bike back in 2011. It’s been extremely comfortable, with the exception of my Brompton. I’ve used it on road and off road and it’s performed excellently in each type. Now that I see that they offer a camo version of the Spoon, I might have to reconsider my Brooks purchase….

Spoon-GrnCamo

Alpkit Fuel Pod

Alpkit are an outdoor equipment designer and retailer. I’ve purchased a few items them recently and I’ve been incredibly impressed with the price and quality of the items they have.

For my Dawes, I have a Carradice Super C Audax Saddlebag that I carry around my puncture repair kit and assorted other items I may take out on a ride (though I’m beginning to think that a rack bag might be a better option for the Dawes). I’ve nothing that’s similar on the Verenti, so I decided to get myself an Alpkit Fuel Pod.

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This will let me hold my keys and/or phone to hand in case I need it for whatever reason.

However, since putting this on, I’ve done a ride with the bag on and I’ve come to the conclucsion that I wont get on with it – at least not on this bike. It was geting in the way slightly when I would have to get off the saddle to get up hills.

Final Product

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I’ve a few extra bits that I’ve purchased that have yet to make it onto the bike as well – I’ve got some mudgaurds that need fitting and I’ve new pedals (platforms, as I’m moving away from the cleats). They’ll be fitted when I have the time to do so.

Sunday Ride – A few photos and a puncture!

I managed to get out this morning for a short ride on my cyclocross bike – it’s been a while since I’ve ridden it as I’m using my Dawes touring bike for commuting and I haven’t had the chance to get out at the weekend for a while due to cadet activities.

So whilst the weather was good this morning, I managed to get out and about before the rain that was forecast for the afternoon. Whilst I didn’t manage to avoid the rain completely, it was a mainly dry ride and I’m glad I managed to get out.

As I said, took Atlas out for a spin. I’ve recently purchased a few items for it that are covered in a separate blog post and I was looking to try them out.

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I also decided that I wanted to get out and about on some unpaved routes as well to put the cyclo-cross part of the bike to the test. Whilst it did mean some road riding as well, I was able to get back on some trails that I haven’t ridden for a good while – not since I had my mountain bike and lived closer to them.

2017-01-29 10.17.38 HDR

The ride was cut slighty short by the fact that I got a puncture – oddly, not whilst I was doing the off road section of the ride but later, during the road section when I was starting to head back home anyhow! It meant that I had to cut my ride slightly short as I then ended up taking the faster route back home to avoid any further issues.

Changing the tube at the side of the ride, I found a slither of glass inside the tube that had caused the puncture – I can’t be certain whether this was what had caused the earlier puncture but I hadn’t fully removed the cause or not. However, the wet roads actually helped me find the cause – the bubbling water on the tyre as the air escaped betrayed the punctures position!

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Repairing the puncture, I headed home. Of all the cyclists that went past, only one slowed and asked if I was OK. In general, I’ve had better help in the past. I mean, if there’s a group of cyclists, I wouldn’t stop to offer a hand unless they looked like they really needed it, but I’m surprised that more people didn’t ask if a single cyclist was OK. It turns out that it wasn’t that much of an issue sorting the puncture so I wasn’t to bad.

However, I’ll keep an eye on the tyres. That’s two in less than four months – that’s two more than I’ve had in the past 12 months on my previous bikes! It may mean I have to look into some thicker, more puncture proof tyres!

In terms of how everything performed…

  • I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m no longer a huge fan of being clipped in. That might be different if I was just doing road riding or was off road on a proper mountain bike, but I wasn’t to keen on it on this one. Not being able to put my foot down if I wanted to in a hurry wasn’t good. Also, it requires some more playing to get my foot position right I think without it aching. I think flats would be the best replacement.

  • The bar bag isn’t in a good location, especially when hill climbing. I’d wanted it there for somewhere I could store my keys/wallet/phone but I think I’ll be replacing it. It might be better on a longer frame bike or one where I won’t be standing on the pedals to climb hills much. I’ve recently purchased a rack bag for my Dawes, so I’m looking at removing the saddlebag and placing it on this one instead.

  • I’m going to have to have to get used to riding off road again! And hills!

Overall, it was a good ride and I enjoyed it (even with the puncture). I’ve got a few things to change before I’m 100% happy with the ride (such as changing the pedals and changing the luggage options). Hopefully, I’ll be able to get out on the bike a bit more as the weather begins (slowly) to start improving.

2017-01-29-Ride

Eddington Number

Eddington Number

I’m a keen user of Veloviewer as it provides some excellent methods of viewing my Strava data in a way that Strava can or does not provide, whilst adding on additional statistics.

I like it enough that I pay for the premium version (£10 a year) and I feel tha this is money well spent. Whilst I’ve said before that cycling isn’t all about the numbers, I do find myself as an engineer enjoying looking at the figures as well!

Eddington Number

Veloviewer is able to calculate and display a cyclists Eddington Number.

The Eddington number in the context of cycling is defined as the maximum number E such that the cyclist has cycled E miles on E days. For example, an Eddington number of 70 would imply that the cyclist has cycled at least 70 miles in a day on 70 occasions.

The Eddington number has units – so it can be measured in either miles, km, or whatever distance you measure your cycling (or running, walking or any other distance sport – any can have an Eddington number). And your Eddington number in one distance is not directly compatible with the other distance. For example, Veloviewer shows the Eddington in miles and in km. My overall values are 36 miles and 51 km – this means that I’ve cycled at least 36 miles in a day on 36 days and 51 km on at least 51 days. Converting the miles into kilometers shows 57.6, whereas my Eddington number is actually less! So the Eddington number is entirely different for the different measurement values.

Veloviewer have a nice blog post trying to explain it here.

Personal Eddington Numbers

Looking at Veloviewer, as I’ve said, I’ve got an overall Eddington score of the following:

36 ml and 51 km

Looking at 2016 however, the results are a bit lower…

29 ml and 42 km

And the graph could indicate why this is the case:

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though in miles, the drop off after 29 is more noticable

2017-01-20 10_06_11-Eddington-miles

The majority of my cyclcing last year was commuting – this is obviously a fairly set distance! I can’t move my house any further away from work (though I could Cycle a different route and therefore, distance). These commutes are clearly seen in the graphs, with a sharp decline after 29 miles!

Why am I discussing this?

Well it would be nice this year to increase my Eddington number above last years distances. That means 30 days of 30 miles or more, or 42 days of 42km or more so it gives me some ideas to aim for. I’m not sure I’d manage to make it much higher, but it’ll be worth a shot. It provides an incentive to get out at the weekend on the bike as well. I’ve applied for a place on Ride London this year again so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get my place on that and then my training rides would certainly help me to increase my Eddington number I expect!

Pi-Hole

Pi Hole

I had my Raspberry Pi lying around doing nothing. I’ve had a version 1 since they were released and I’ve had a version 2 for a while as well (in fact, I’ve been through two version 2’s). I’ve had this one in the draw for a while now doing nothing – it’s not really seen the light of day since I purchased my Synology DS116 as I had been using it as a home server and accessing my documents via SFTP outside the house.

However, after I stumbled across the Pi Hole project, I decided that it was time to dig it out again. Whilst the NAS is excellent (DS Photo allows me to backup mine and my girlfriends photos from our phones, DS Video allows me to stream videos to my Chromecast, DS Audio streams all my music to my iPad and it can act as a VPN when I’m out and about, though this is less of a benefit now I have a years subscription to Private Internet Access), it doesn’t allow me to block adverts which is what Pi Hole does. Quite successfully.

Setup was easy and I had the Pi Hole up and running within 30 minutes or less. Setup was as simple as downloading a fresh copy of Raspbian, installing that, remembering to enable SSH as the new versions of Raspbian have SSH turned off by default

For headless setup, SSH can be enabled by placing a file named ‘ssh’, without any extension, onto the boot partition of the SD card.

Once this was done, I updated the Pi and then downloaded the Pi Hole software using the command

curl -sSL https://install.pi-hole.net | bash

This installed everything I needed and set it up. All that I then had to do was to set my router to give the Pi a static IP address and change the DNS settings on my devices to point to the Pi.

Once I’d done that, I’ve been able to enjoy ad blocking across all my devices.

The Pi presents everything in a web interface, so you can keep an eye on the drive at any point of time.

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This shows the DNS requests that are being made and you can even drill down into what sites are trying to be accessed.

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This shows the top domain name requested by devices and the top advertisers being blocked. You can also see what devices are requesting the most domains by IP address.

The downside I have is that the DNS records on my router cannot be changed, so I’ve manually had to change the details on each web connection. This isn’t the end of the world and actually can prove handy where I might want to allow an advertiser to track me (such as if I’m using a cashback site). However, it does mean that devices like my work laptop, ones that I cannot change the DNS settings on (in this case, due to admin lockdown), will not benefit from the blocking whilst on my network.

However, overall, the Pi Hole was easy to setup and manages to block a lot of adverts – browsing on the iPad, it’s surprising how much cleaner various websites are. There have been a single instances where the website has appeared to be broken due to the blockage and this was solved by white-listing the site. Whilst this should stop the need for running an adblocker in my browser, I’ve still got uBlock installed.

It’s certainly worth a try.

Annual Summary 2016

Yearly Summary

This year has been a roller-coaster year to be honest, full of ups and downs.

January started with a new job on the outskirts of London – potentially meaning that I could get out on my bike a lot more cycling to work. However, I seem to have spent the majority of the time on my bike commuting to and from work and the social rides and just rides at the weekend have been missing. Part of this can potentially be attributed to doing a lot more with my air cadet unit, though some of it could be down to laziness at weekends.

Perhaps the other reason has been that I’d dug out my running shoes this year again. I’ve run 244Km this year, slightly under my PB of 246Km in 2012. Running had become part of my training routine again as I was trying to join the Royal Air Force and cycling unfortunately isn’t part of the training or entrance fitness test! However, I’ve enjoyed running again and it’s been good to see progress. I’ll look into trying to break the 300Km mark next year, though I won’t be joining the RAF as they have declined my application due to medical grounds. Whilst disappointing, I’m looking to run some of the local races again next year (such as the Welwyn 10K).

Whilst I say I’ve not done as much cycling, I’ve still managed to do my second best year in terms of distance – last year was a PB with 3,741Km total of running, walking and cycling and this year is 2,721Km.

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However, my climbing this year has been pretty pitiful.

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The main part of this has been that the route I take to work is fairly flat – going via an old railway line, so the path is fairly flat. Without the weekend rides to make up the elevation, my elevation has been fairly flat line – like my bike rides! 😉

New Toys

So I’ve had new toys this year, with the purchase of my Verenti Substance Sora from Wiggle in the later half of the year.

2016-10-09 10.31.46 HDR-1

The delay in getting it (thanks to some issues with my cycle to work voucher) has meant that I haven’t ridden it quite as much as I could have done (and then it managed to get a puncture only on it’s second ride out). However, I look forward to using this more next year.

Aims

Overall, the year hasn’t been to bad for activities and I look forward to 2017. It looks like that 2017 will be different and unique challenges to the table – for example, I’m looking at more hiking and walking expeditions this coming year, with the potential for getting registered on the Mountain Leader scheme and to become a Duke of Edinburgh assessor/supervisor. Obviously, this could make that cadets takes more priority over cycling again but I’ll see what happens. I don’t intend to stop cycling to work either!

However, that shouldn’t stop me setting myself some aims for the new year – just to keep things interesting.

  • I’d like to cycle to work at least 100 times in a year. Considering that I can’t really cycle to work on Tuesdays or Thursdays due to evening commitments with my cadet unit, this reduces the number of days I have available to cycle. However, I believe this should be doable.

  • I’d like to hit 3,0000Km of cycling and 300Km of running this coming year, with some more hiking etc thrown in for good measure.

  • Elevation wise, I’d like to see myself exceed this year. This means getting out at weekends or evenings during the summer and aiming for some actual inclines!

  • Perhaps a sportive or organised ride this year would prove to be a good distraction and training aim. I had wanted to do the London Revolution but I’m not sure I’ll do that this year, though I have my eye on the London to Bath route and I’d love to do the Devon Coast to Coast ride. That might include some of those hills I’m looking for as well!

  • Lastly, I’ve seen a club on Strava and I’ve seen a Road.cc post about it before about riding all the roads in the local area. I’m looking at doing this for Welwyn Garden City and then perhaps spreading out to nearby areas as well as I know there are areas of Welwyn I’ve never even visited since I moved here in 2014 and I know that I’ve rarely (never via bike at least) gone to old Welwyn either so I think it’s high time that I changed this. I’ll look into marking all rides I do this on Strava with the hashtag #RER (Ride Every Road) so then I can use the excellent Strava Multiple Ride Mapper tool to track this and keep a copy of the final results.

Summary

I’ve continued to track all my rides on Strava and I’ve now gone back to Garmin to also track data (with two Garmin devices, data goes into Strava through the Garmin Connect app, thanks to it’s auto linking). This way I’ll have two copies of my data online, though I also keep all the files from the devices as well so I have the originals – either by downloading from Strava in the earlier part of the year, before getting them from the device or from Garmin Connect. I’ve done this since 2012 so I’ve a few years of data now.

Once again, I’ve renewed my subscription to Veloviewer. I found the service excellent for looking at Strava tracks in more details and specifically I like the mapping feature where I can view all my rides on a global map. My Veloviewer infographic for 2016 can be seen below.

16-12-29_Veloviewer

Looking at the aims for the new year, Veloviewer will continue to provide excellent value for money for the £10 it has cost me for a year of service.

So onwards and upwards and here’s to 2017! Happy New Year all.