30 November 2023

And now for something completely different: a mountain bike that thinks its a motorbike, or is it the other way round?


Mike & I went to Motorcycle Live last week & had a brilliant time - there was lots of great stuff to grab the attention ;0). 

One of the two bikes that I rode on the day was a mad thing called a MECR-X. A tiny light electric motorbike that rode like a mountain bike - without the pedals. I totally loved it! As you might have noticed, I have a thing about motorcycles LOL! Also I enjoy cycling: my Specialized RockHopper Pro (which I've had for 15+ years) is a brilliant mountain bike. The MECR-X is somewhere in-between. Really light & stumpy, fast handling & accelerating. You might have seen bikes like this in the news recently, for all the wrong reasons...

They were demonstrating the MECR-X & other bikes in the electric test ride zone - and gauging feedback. After my ride (so much fun!) I had a chat with the peeps on the stand. Target price was £2500-£3000 - I said I be happy to have one! However, after thinking about this a while, I have to temper that comment... What we have here is something from a Chinese company that no-one has heard off, with little or no dealer network, spares, after sales, etc. Now, Sur-Ron is a player in a similar space - that has been around for a few years. Their bikes are £4500-£5500. However: for that sort of price you can (more or less) get a proper bike like a Honda CRF300L with a real support network & known longevity...

Hmmm: lots of fun to be had here, but still not convinced that small electric motorcycles are ready for primetime, yet...


Santa is preparing to lower this down the grandson's chimney!


Introducing the OFFICIAL Alex Marquez Replica Wooden Balance Bike!

Speedy Adventure: Designed to ignite your child's sense of adventure, this balance bike makes them feel like they're racing with its Alex Marquez-inspired design.
Eco-Friendly Construction: Crafted from sustainably sourced birch plywood, this bike is both speedy and environmentally conscious.
Comfortable Control: Soft rubber grips and real pneumatic tires ensure that little hands and feet can maintain comfortable and confident control at all times, enhancing the overall riding experience.
Official Alex Marquez Design: Authentically designed with Alex Marquez colours and branding for an exciting riding experience.
Child-Safe Paint: Painted with child-safe water-based paints, ensuring a safe playtime experience.
Lightweight: Weighing just 5kg, it's easy for little ones to handle and control.
Designed in the UK: Created in the UK by Kiddimoto, a trusted name in quality children's ride-on products.
Age Suitability:
Suitable for ages 18 months to 5 years.
Technical Specifications:
Material: Sustainably sourced birch plywood
Weight: 5kg
Tire Type: Pneumatic tires for a smooth ride

Honestly this thing is stunning! I met Simon - the MD of KiddiMoto - @ last year's MCL. Really liked the products but Kim said that as our grandson Oliver was only about two months old at the time - perhaps I should leave the purchase till he was a bit older ;0). I called Simon a few days ago, struck up a deal for a bike, helmet, bell & gloves. The kit arrived promptly, assembled easily & looks fantastic! Grandson is going to have a great Christmas & good few years play out of this thing! Highly recommended if you have a nipper in the family who could do with some wheels!  Proverbs 22:6.


27 November 2023

Advent is starting soon!


Advent with the Church of England. We invite you to mark the Advent season with us and Join The Song! As you make your preparations for Advent and Christmas, we have the following resources available:

Follow The Star App: Daily Advent reflections will be available in the Follow the Star app from 1 December and run until 24 December. The reflections include a Bible reading, short reflection, activity suggestion and prayer. Audio of the reflections is also included in the app. Learn more and download the app.

Follow The Star Advent Calendar: With beautiful illustrations and 24 stickers, you can now order these for children in your family or church. You can order each individually, or in packs of 10. Click here to order yours.

Online Advent calendar: Join The Song and find daily reflections for all ages, as well as audio versions so you can take a moment to reflect, even on the move. Follow along this December.

Christmas reflections booklets, prayer cards and more: This year's Christmas reflections by Richard Carter can be ordered in standard or large print, as well as prayer cards promoting the free digital versions. Find out more.

A Church Near You: Churches around the country are holding services and events to mark Advent and Christmas. Find a service or event local to you.

Alexa: Listen to the Advent and Christmas reflections by telling Alexa to, "Ask the Church of England for today's Follow the Star reflection."

DailyHope: Listen to the day's Advent reflection by calling the DailyHope phone line on 0800 804 8044


23 November 2023

Reading (and video) for today: Dwell on these things

While under house arrest in 62 AD, the apostle Paul wrote a letter to a church in the Roman colony of Philippi. He was no stranger to adversity. Yet, instead of collapsing under the weight of difficult circumstances, Paul discovered supernatural peace and joy. His inspired words (recorded in Philippians 4: 4-13) come alive in this unforgettable devotional video. It is  a message that has never been more relevant.

Philippians 4:4-13 - Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.


Commercial Flights Are Experiencing 'Unthinkable' GPS Attacks and Nobody Knows What to Do

Commercial air crews are reporting something “unthinkable” in the skies above the Middle East: novel “spoofing” attacks have caused navigation systems to fail in dozens of incidents since September. 

In late September, multiple commercial flights near Iran went astray after navigation systems went blind. The planes first received spoofed GPS signals, meaning signals designed to fool planes’ systems into thinking they are flying miles away from their real location. One of the aircraft almost flew into Iranian airspace without permission. Since then, air crews discussing the problem online have said it’s only gotten worse, and experts are racing to establish who is behind it.

OPSGROUP, an international group of pilots and flight technicians, sounded the alarm about the incidents in September and began to collect data to share with its members and the public. According to OPSGROUP, multiple commercial aircraft in the Middle Eastern region have lost the ability to navigate after receiving spoofed navigation signals for months. And it’s not just GPS - fallback navigation systems are also corrupted, resulting in total failure.

According to OPSGROUP, the activity is centered in three regions: Baghdad, Cairo, and Tel Aviv. The group has tracked more than 50 incidents in the last five weeks, the group said in a November update, and identified three new and distinct kinds of navigation spoofing incidents, with two arising since the initial reports in September. 

While GPS spoofing is not new, the specific vector of these new attacks was previously “unthinkable,” according to OPSGROUP, which described them as exposing a “fundamental flaw in avionics design.” The spoofing corrupts the Inertial Reference System, a piece of equipment often described as the “brain” of an aircraft that uses gyroscopes, accelerometers, and other tech to help planes navigate. 


21 November 2023

Reading for today: what God wants from us

 For it is not so much of our time and so much of our attention that God demands; it is not even all our time and all our attention; it is ourselves. For each of us the Baptist's words are true: “He must increase and I decrease.” He will be infinitely merciful to our repeated failures; I know no promise that He will accept a deliberate compromise. For He has, in the last resort, nothing to give us but Himself; and He can give that only insofar as our self-affirming will retires and makes room for Him in our souls. Let us make up our minds to it; there will be nothing “of our own” left over to live on, no “ordinary” life. 

I do not mean that each of us will necessarily be called to be a martyr or even an ascetic. That’s as may be. For some (nobody knows which) the Christian life will include much leisure, many occupations we naturally like. But these will be received from God’s hands. In a perfect Christian they would be as much part of his “religion,” his “service,” as his hardest duties, and his feasts would be as Christian as his fasts. What cannot be admitted - what must exist only as an undefeated but daily resisted enemy - is the idea of something that is “our own,” some area in which we are to be “out of school,” on which God has no claim.

For He claims all, because He is love and must bless. He cannot bless us unless He has us. When we try to keep within us an area that is our own, we try to keep an area of death. Therefore, in love, He claims all. There’s no bargaining with Him.

From The Weight of Glory

19 November 2023

Poem of a dog - by Calli

I'm the one who's always waiting for you.

Your motorcycle has a special sound that I have imprinted on my senses, I can recognize it in a thousand.

Your steps have a magic bell.

Your voice is music to my ears.

If I see your joy, it makes me happy!.

Your scent is the best.

Your presence moves my senses.

Your waking up wakes me up

I contemplate you sleeping and for me you are my daddy, I am happy watching your sleep.

Your look is a ray of light.

Your hands upon me, hold the lightness of peace and the sublime display of infinite love.

When you leave, I feel a huge void in my heart.

I keep waiting for you again and again.

I am the one who will wait for you all your life today, tomorrow and forever:

I am your dog.

Nicked from a friend

15 November 2023

Boston Dynamics teaches robo-dog to recognise speech, respond using ChatGPT

Robot-maker Boston Dynamics has taught one of its "Spot" robo-dogs to talk, by using ChatGPT.

As explained last week in a blog post, Boston Dynamics (BD) folks observed with considerable interest the advent of foundation models (FMs) and their use powering chatbots like ChatGPT. The firm therefore became interested in developing a demo of Spot using FMs to make decisions in real time.

"Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT are basically very big, very capable autocomplete algorithms; they take in a stream of text and predict the next bit of text," the post states. "We were inspired by the apparent ability of LLMs to roleplay, replicate culture and nuance, form plans, and maintain coherence over time, as well as by recently released Visual Question Answering (VQA) models that can caption images and answer simple questions about them."

A robot tour guide was chosen as good test case. "The robot could walk around, look at objects in the environment, use a VQA or captioning model to describe them, and then elaborate on those descriptions using an LLM," the droid-maker's post states. "Additionally, the LLM could answer questions from the tour audience, and plan what actions the robot should take next. In this way, the LLM can be thought of as an improv actor – we provide a broad strokes script and the LLM fills in the blanks on the fly."

Over The Air software update to Rivian cars - goes wrong & kills internal screens!

On Monday, Rivian released an incremental software update 2023.42, which bricked the infotainment system in R1Ses and R1Ts. The company is frantically working on a fix, but it might not be an OTA

Update: The company has acknowledged the issue with affected customers but a fix will have to wait until Nov 15th

Rivian’s vice president of software engineering, Wassim Bensaid, took to Reddit to update users on the situation.

Hi All,

We made an error with the 2023.42 OTA update – a fat finger where the wrong build with the wrong security certificates was sent out. We cancelled the campaign and we will restart it with the proper software that went through the different campaigns of beta testing.

Service will be contacting impacted customers and will go through the resolution options. That may require physical repair in some cases.

This is on us – we messed up. Thanks for your support and your patience as we go through this.

* Update 1 (11/13, 10:45 PM PT): The issue impacts the infotainment system. In most cases, the rest of the vehicle systems are still operational. A vehicle reset or sleep cycle will not solve the issue. We are validating the best options to address the issue for the impacted vehicles. Our customer support team is prioritizing support for our customers related to this issue. Thank you.

That’s the last update we had over 10 hours after Rivian customer vehicles were fed the bad software update. Rivian’s PR team hasn’t replied to requests for comment.

The vehicles are drivable, but software and displays go black. It appears that the 2023.42 software update hangs at 90% on the vehicle screen or 50% on the app screen, and then the vehicle screens black out. All systems appear to still work except for the displays.


14 November 2023

Warning issued to WhatsApp users over account takeover scam


Action Fraud has received many reports relating to a scam that steals access to a WhatsApp user's account.

The scam begins when a criminal gets access to another WhatsApp account which has you listed as a contact.

The criminal, posing as your friend or someone that’s a member of a WhatsApp group you’re in, will then send you seemingly normal messages to try and start a conversation with you.

However, around the same time you will receive a text message from WhatsApp with a six-digit code. This is because the criminal has been trying to login to WhatsApp using your mobile number.

The criminal will claim that they sent you their code by accident and ask you to help them by sending it to them. Once the criminal has this code, they can login to your WhatsApp account and lock you out.

The criminal will then use the same tactic with your WhatsApp contacts in an effort to steal more accounts and use them to perpetrate fraud.

What you need to do: Set up two-step verification to give an extra layer of protection to your account: Tap Settings > Account >Two-step verification > Enable.

THINK. CALL. If a family member or friend makes an unusual request on WhatsApp, always call (phone) the person to confirm their identity.

Never share your account’s activation code (that’s the 6 digit code you receive via SMS)

You can report spam messages or block a sender within WhatsApp. Press and hold on the message bubble, select ‘Report’ and then follow the instructions.

Every report matters: If you have been a victim of fraud or cyber crime, report it to Action Fraud or 0300 123 2040


The Great British Switch Off - how will it affect me? A useful update from electronics retailer: LiGo

Update: Feb 2023 - We (LiGo) are hearing more and more from contacts within the industry that the date of the switch might be pushed back to 2026. We will of course update this blog as and when any new information becomes available and keep you abreast of any official announcements.

You may have heard that BT are switching off the old landline network in 2025. Obviously, that's a big change to the telecoms industry. The old copper network in place right now has been in use for over a century now. From 2025, though, all phones will go through broadband lines. This means that "landlines" as we know them will now be serviced by VoIP, or "voice over internet protocol"- in other words, your phone calls will go through the internet.

Will I need to buy a new phone? Naturally, you might be asking yourself: do I need to buy a new phone? Will I be able to keep my current landline phone in 2025? Do I need a phone which is already VoIP-compatible?

Don't panic! Your existing landline phone will still work after the switchover, the only difference will be that your phone connects to your broadband router via an adapter. While the change in infrastructure is a huge undertaking, most end users won't have to do much. In fact, the official guidance from Ofcom is that your phone provider should supply you with an adapter. The four main phone providers- BT, Virgin, Sky, and TalkTalk- have all said they will do so, and you can find links to their statements on the switchover process at the end of this article. These four companies provide 85% of the UK's landline service. If you are in the remaining 15%, we recommend contacting your provider to find out if they will be supplying customers with adapters too.

Will I need an internet connection to make phone calls? Yes. Once the PTSN network has been switched off it will no longer be possible to make phone calls via landline without an internet connection. If you don't have broadband access at home, your phone line provider can put you on a basic, line-only broadband connection, which will cost about the same as your existing line rental.

The only circumstances where you may need to do a bit more setup is if you have other services which are plugged into the PSTN line, such as security systems, fax machines, or telecare. In some cases these will be able to work on the new line with some additional setup. However, there may be systems which need to be replaced outright. Again, your phone provider should be in touch before the switchover to tell you what steps you need to take. However, it's probably for the best if you contact them in advance so you have plenty of time to make any necessary changes.

Will I still have the same phone number? Yes. While the technology behind the phone lines is changing, there's no need for everyone's phone number to change. Most users already have the option of porting their number over when they switch from an analogue line to VoIP. When the 2025 switchover happens, any numbers which haven't already been ported will be ported automatically.


Panasonic UK shop - 12% discount code!


Panasonic is a great company. Over the years there is nothing that I've bought / used by them that isn't of superb quality. Well designed, high quality manufacturing, reliable, long service life & excellent customer support when required. For example their DECT phones are simply the best, and their breadmakers are legendary!

Donline is now pleased to offer a 12% discount code for their official UK online store! Click HERE to redeem, or enter "Don Tocher" at the checkout - after clicking the "BEEN REFERRED BY A FRIEND?" button. Enjoy!


13 November 2023

Reading for today: what makes something "good"?

It has sometimes been asked whether God commands certain things because they are right, or whether certain things are right because God commands them... I emphatically embrace the first alternative. The second might lead to the abominable conclusion... that charity is good only because God arbitrarily commanded it - that He might equally well have commanded us to hate Him and one another and that hatred would then have been right. 

I believe, on the contrary, that “they err who think that of the will of God to do this or that there is no reason besides His will.” God’s will is determined by His wisdom which always perceives, and His goodness which always embraces, the intrinsically good. 

But when we have said that God commands things only because they are good, we must add that one of the things intrinsically good is that rational creatures should freely surrender themselves to their Creator in obedience. The content of our obedience - the thing we are commanded to do - will always be something intrinsically good, something we ought to do even if (by an impossible supposition) God had not commanded it. But in addition to the content, the mere obeying is also intrinsically good, for, in obeying, a rational creature consciously enacts its creaturely role, reverses the act by which we fell, treads Adam’s dance backward, and returns.

By C.S.Lewis

From The Problem of Pain

08 November 2023

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03 November 2023

A Western Digital 3.5" Hard Disk Drive - with the lid off!

I've often been asked what the inside of a Hard Disk Drive looks like.

It's a bit like a record player! No groves though - the media is magnetic.

Here is a 30 second spin up of an old Western Digital WD2500AAJS 250GB SATA 3.5"drive - with the lid off.


This was done just before the drive was destroyed & recycled.