I am a London-based Digital PR/Social Media/SEO Consultant, music producer/anorak, deep sea diver, avid cyclist, worldwide traveller and football-loving technology bod! This page functions as a kind of online scrapbook/resource featuring my favourite blog posts and news items as well as my own personal reviews and recommendations in the worlds of music, sport, travel and technology!

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Why celebrate Halloween?

Why celebrate Halloween?: "

Because everyone else does.

Why believe that people once put razor blades into apples and you should only eat wrapped candies? Because everyone else believes it (it's an urban legend).

Most of what we believe is not a result of direct experience (ever seen an electron?) but is rather part of our collection of truth because everyone (or at least the people we respect) around us seems to believe it as well.

We not only believe that some brands are better than others, we believe in social constructs, no shirt, no shoes, no service. We believe things about changing our names when we get married or what's an appropriate gift for a baby shower.

This groupthink is the soil that marketing grows in. It's frustrating for someone who is hyper-fact-based or launching a new brand to come to the conclusion that people believe what they believe, not that people are fact-centered data processing organisms.

Sure, it would be great to have an organization that enjoys the advantage of everyone believing. Getting from here, to there, though, requires stories, emotion and ideas that spread. Organizations grow when they persuade a tiny cadre to be passionate, not when they touch millions with a mediocre message.

"

Best of the web – October

Best of the web – October: "

benefits_of_a_bicycle

Best of the web is a London Cyclist monthly series that highlights the best cycling content from around the web. We go out there and find all of the best bits so you don’t have to!

This months London Cycling News

It has been an unbelievably busy month news wise. Let’s go back to the 4th of October when a cycle route from London to Paris was announced. It is hoped the majority of the route will be off road. More good news came from the Peak District which is due to receive £1.25m of extra funding from Cycling England. It is the national park nearest to most of England and already boasts great cycling.

It’s not all good news however, the cycle superhighway we have been told is only going to be 1.5 metres wide at some points. Far from the optimal width for cycling. The bigger disappointment has been the Mayor’s Transport Plan which set a pretty meagre target of 5% of journeys done by bike by 2026. Finally the Cycle to Work scheme has been expanded and wants to offer a guarantee to employees that when they arrive at work they will have all the facilities they need.

It has been a busy month petition wise. There has been the 3feet2pass petition, the Sustrans petition to put cyclist safety first and the rally to tell people to write to their MP and stop Boris from closing down the HGV inspection unit.

From the blogosphere

Best of London Cyclist

Bargain bin!

  • There is various good discounts out at the moment in the bike shops both Evans and Wiggle have 20% off their bike lights. If you haven’t got one already then pick one up while there is discounts.
  • Evans also have 15% off Rainwear.

I’ll leave this month behind with this great video from Danny. I just hope everyone enjoys their daily commute as much as this:

"

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

site builder sketch

site builder sketch: "- Click image for full size - Pretty much a scale drawing of the studio space with cat. My site is nearly made, just have to add the content to what I have already designed. I've noticed it doen't work so good on computers with slower processors, which is a pain, but it's too far along now to change.
"

Monday, 26 October 2009

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Friday, 23 October 2009

Posters In Amsterdam

Posters In Amsterdam: "Great set of posters from Amsterdam, check out loads more here.
"

Sunday, 18 October 2009

DOWNLOAD | Reprise Podcast double whammy!

DOWNLOAD | Reprise Podcast double whammy!: "
Tracklisting
01. Ranking Records - Hold Your Collar 02. Ranking Records - Jungle Fever 03. DFRNT - Headspace (Scuba mix) 04. Peverelist - Infinity Is Now 05. Headhunter - Prototypes (Modeselektor remix) 06. Jack Sparrow - Terminal 07. Headhunter - S@tp 08. I.D - Cool and Deadly 09. Pinch + Moving Ninja - False Flag (Kryptic Minds rmx) 10. SP:MC - Trust Nobody (Tempa) 11. RSD - Lovers
Yep, not one but two glorious podcasts to share with you this time around. First up is Tectonic signed Jack Sparrow's half-hour of the finest dubstep, swiftly followed by a journey through funky Techno courtesy of the man, the myth, the legend, Dave Angel!
"

Pano 01

Pano 01: "- Click pic for full image - Been working on a moving panoramic city thing, for the redraft it should have more details.
"

Stolen Moments

Stolen Moments: "- Click for bigger - Found a some Russian World War 2 photo archives the other day, I'm totally fascinated by that time, often the pictures I like have nothing to do with the combat, but the downtime between the destruction.
"

Circus of Souls

Circus of Souls: "- Click image for bigger - Roll up, roll up, come and see the show... Possibly could do with an elephant stampeding in the background? - Also discovered a new tool for viewing A full Flickr.
"

Skaggs, Blags and Rags: Hoaxes and the Press

Skaggs, Blags and Rags: Hoaxes and the Press: "

If you want proof that stunts are an art form, your best bet is to head down to the Tate Modern’s Pop exhibition and take a long, hard look at the Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons exhibits. Here are two prime examples of early stops at one of the stations of the cross of Consumerism, part of its steady progress to becoming the prime 21st Century religion.

And proof is needed that stunts are an art form – they are making something of a comeback at the moment, but the latest examples – the Starsuckers film and Balloon Boy – are in need of a bit of spit and polish if they are to really shine. Despite all this, there has been not one mention of the master of the hoax, Joey Skaggs, the master Culture Jammer whose hoaxes have always had a pertinent point to make. This is a pity because the Starsuckers team could learn a trick or two from him.

Take, for example, Skaggs’s Celebrity Sperm Bank hoax from 1976. Skaggs organised a sperm bank auction in New York, then arranged for the sperm bank to be robbed with the semen supposedly being taken hostage. Or the Dog Meat Soup hoax from 1994, in which Skaggs portrayed Kim Yung Soo, a butcher who wanted to purchase dogs for food, to expose cultural intolerance and the media’s tendency to overreact. These are the stunts of a master and they are works of art.

There has been considerable attention for the hoaxes at the heart of the new film Starsuckers – the film’s makers created a series of hoax stories about celebrities that they then pushed on the tabloids. The aim was to point out how easily one could dupe journalists at the tabloids into taking patently ridiculous stories about celebrities and in this they succeeded. Reports of Amy Winehouse’s beehive catching fire, Avril Lavigne falling asleep in a nightclub and Russell Brand’s secret childhood desire to be a banker all made the tabloids – and some made it round the world.

But filmmakers’ aim, which was to expose how the whole of the news industry is running stories without checking their facts, has not been achieved. This was not a sublime act of Culture Jamming – celebrity journalism and hard news are quite different animals (most of the time at least) and the hoax story they tried to push on the media that came closest to qualifying as real news, in which G20 protestors were apparently planning to dump tonnes of sugar on Alan Sugar’s drive, was not picked up.

Telling everybody that it’s easy to pass off nonsense about celebrities to the papers is hardly news in itself – most reporting of the lives of celebrities verges on the nonsensical as it is and most people know this and don’t care, so far gone is their addiction to celebrity soap. The team behind Starsuckers are going to have to work harder if they are to achieve what they want.

Balloon Boy is another matter again. A family in Colorado claimed that they thought their son had been carried off by a weather balloon – he was found “hiding” in the attic after an expensive two hour cross country chase in full view of the world’s media. I suspect that this was a stunt by a publicity-hungry family of stormchasers keen to further promote themselves after appearing on American Wife Swap. I also suspect that the only reason that the police aren’t treating this as a hoax is to save face.

None of this has stopped a full-scale media hoo-ha and #balloon boy trending on Twitter. There’s been reams of analysis in the medi and newscasters claiming they’d burst into tears as a result, followed by a backlash after the six year old boy was found in the attic at home. As my pal Mark Solomons says: “He’s a falcon liar, that’s what he is. The father put the con in Falcon. It’s like the Bart-Simpson-down-the-well episode. If the balloon had been up any longer, they could have had Sting do a charity record.”

We know that the media are willing consumers of all kinds of storytelling, but it would be good to see more artfulness and careful thought going into any future hoaxes. More Skaggs less blags, perhaps?

Embedded video from CNN Video

"

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Clean your bike this weekend for improved performance

Clean your bike this weekend for improved performance: "

clean bike vs dirty bike Set aside 30 minutes this weekend to get down and dirty with your bike. If you do you will keep that new bike feeling for longer and enjoy a smoother ride with crisp gear shifting. Can’t beat it! So make sure before you head home today you pickup any of these bits you need from your local bike shop and then take a look at these easy instructions to clean your bike like the pro’s do, avoiding some of the common mistakes.

Bonus: I’m looking for some good before and after pictures. If you have a dirty bike take a picture, give it a clean and link to the pictures in the comments!

For a clean bike you will need:

All the equipment you need to get your bike clean

Everyone cleans their bike in a different way. In my experience, after much research and honing this is the most efficient way I have found. I can usually get my bike looking brand new in less than 25 minutes. You may want to print off these instructions for reference while you clean your bike. Let’s get started.

Clean bike chain

A clean bike chain will easily shift through the gears. If you have a dirty one then it will be slow to shift and will wear down your expensive drivetrain.

Cleaning the bike chain

  1. Put the bike in the lowest gear and pedal backwards running it through a damp cloth. Sometimes this stage may be enough to get the chain clean.
  2. If its not then you will need to apply some degreaser onto the chain and allow it to sink in for 3-5 minutes. Don’t be overzealous as this is strong stuff. When the degreaser is applied rotate the chain to work it in.
  3. Dampen a toothbrush or cloth and wipe the entire chain removing any degreaser and dirt making sure to get in between each chain link
  4. Finally using a clean soft rag dry the chain massaging each link to make sure there is no degreaser left.

Rear sprockets and mech

Scrub the rear sprockets with hot water and a brush.

Clean the sprockets using a brushAgain use a little degreaser if it is being really stubborn.

To get to the mud wedged deep inside the sprockets use a flat screwdriver or thin stick to gently poke it out. Remember dirt attracts more dirt so the more thorough you are at this stage the less likely it is you will need to clean it again in the near future.

Get any additional dirt out using a small screwdriver

Finally wipe using a dry cloth with a flossing motion to remove anything left. This stage is important as no degreaser should remain. The effort you are putting in now helps the gears shift more efficiently.

Clean bike using a cloth in flossing motion

Moving on to the rear mech. Here you want to use a brush to remove any big chunks of dirt.

Cleaning bike picture of brush in rear mechThen poke carefully with a thin screwdriver to remove any trapped dirt. Make sure you clean both sides of the rear mech.

Picture of the dirt coming off a rear mechFinally apply some degreaser and use an old toothbrush to remove anything that remains.

Front mech

Use a brush to get off any dirt from the front mech. A toothbrush can be useful here to get to any parts that are hard to reach.

Use a brush to clean the front mechUse a cloth to floss the front mech so as to get in-between the different parts.

Use a cloth to clean the front mech

Give the bike frame some love

Using a clean cloth work your way around the frame using hot water and a cloth. I tend not to use washing-up liquid as it often contains salt which can rust the bike if not washed away properly.

General bike clean

It’s worth quickly going over the rims with a clean cloth to get off any extra dirt that could get caught in the brake pads.

Go over the rim with a clean clothBrake pads are often ignored but are worth going over with the toothbrush. Also when doing your brake pads check they do not need replacing and that there are no metal bits stuck to them that need removing. Gently remove any stuck metal bits with a small screwdriver. If the brake block surface has become shiny, use some sandpaper to roughen it. Finally do the pedals and other parts of the bike with hot water and a cloth.

Polish for that extra special bike

By polishing the frame you prevent it picking up more dirt. Saddles can also benefit from some polish.

Final stage: Apply lube to moving parts

If all the components are dry then you can apply some lube.

Start off with the chain. Use a chain lubricant and apply sparingly on each link by moving the chain around. Allow to dry and then remove any excess with a cloth. This can feel counter intuitive as you have just lubed it but the only lube your bike needs is the one that sinks into the cracks. The excess simply gathers dirt. As a test the chain should feel only very slightly damp from the lube.

Final stage of getting to a clean bike is lubricationThe same rules apply for the jockey wheels. They don’t need much as they gather most of it from the chain moving around.

Lube the jockey wheelsUse your fingers to apply lube to the front and rear mech. Aim to apply lube to any pivots.

Lube pivotsMove on to the handlebars. Lube should be added to the brake lever pivots and the gear shifters. As always use a cloth to wipe away any excess.

Lube bike brake lever

Finally apply a tiny bit of lube to exposed springs in the brakes (not the brake pad itself!) and any cables near the housing where they move around.

If anything else is squeaking apply a small amount of lube, work it in by moving the part around and wipe away any excess.

Common mistakes, further tips and discussion

bike cleaning with a pressure hoseIf you want to supercharge your bike cleaning routine it is much easier with a bike stand. You can either buy one or make your own. There is a lot of debate (yes people debate about bike cleaning) as to whether to hose down your bike using a pressure hose as the pro’s do. The truth is a pressure hose can cause damage to the bearings and the frame. Therefore, someone that is not sure about what they are doing is best just using a sponge and water which improves the long term life of a bike.

If there is one further cleaning routine I would follow it is cleaning the brake and shift cables and lubricating them. For instructions on this see this bicycle tutor video.

I personally don’t recommend removing the bike chain for cleaning as it can cause damage. You can do a perfectly acceptable job with it remaining on the bike.

Get the gear!

The gear isn’t necessary but it can make the job a lot easier. If you do splash out on the cleaning gear then make sure you get the right stuff that is recommended. Usually it is slightly cheaper to buy online than walk into a shop.

muc off degreaser Muc-off degreaser – staple part of any cyclists toolkit finish wet lube for post clean Finish line cross country lube – requires less frequent application than other chain lubes
cleaning kit for bike Pedro’s Bicycle Cleaning Kit – just as good as other cleaning tool kits but at half the price chain bike clean kit Chain cleaning kit – for that extra dirty chain that just won’t come clean this is exactly what you need.

To not miss out on more maintenance tips, cycling news and advice you should sign up to email updates because I will only send you the stuff that will help you as a cyclist.

"