I ride a bicycle, to the extent that it’s probably “enthusiastically”.
Among other things, this must mean I can make pronouncements about bicycling equipment.
Getting a puncture is annoying, isn’t it?
My usual commute is particularly bad for thorns and shards of stone – oh, woe unto me.
But I suppose repairing a puncture – adhering a little patch of rubber to the punctured inner tube, fixing a hole where the air was getting out – is satisfying.
Relentless innovators haven’t relented in innovating in the field of puncture repair.
A recent innovation is “quick” sticky patches which obviate the supposed drudgery of using a tube of vulcanising rubber solution.
Some hucksters call these patches “glueless”, which is patently poppycock as there’s still glue involved – it’s just already on the patches.
At some point, I bought just such a kit, offered by Meqix of Taiwan.
It’s very fancy – some patches, some minimalist magnetic tyre levers, and some other items all fit neatly inside a sleek metal case.
If I didn’t know any better, I’d say it’s like if Jonathan Ive designed a puncture repair kit, but really it reminds me of one of Asus’s high-end laptops.
It even comes with the world’s smallest zester, for … making your tyres citrusy?
(Well, actually, it’s for preparing the surface of the inner tube for the patch – but sandpaper, also provided, is a better tool for doing that.)
I still have, and use, the levers – it’s nice that they’re magnetic, even though I suspect the magnetism of destroying at least one debit card.
But the patches.
They don’t help with the most dreaded part of repairing a puncture – levering the tyre off the wheel, and finding the hole.
They don’t adhere to the inner tube very well. Traditional bring-you-own-glue patches do a better job, and give more satisfaction.
Which puncture repair patches do I like?
Years ago, I had some dispiriting puncture repair experiences, with some low-quality backstreet rubber patches.
I would fix a puncture, and then air would start leaking out from beneath the patch.
Was I doing it wrong? Was I a bad person?
Then I chanced upon some Rema Tip Top patches, and everything changed.
It turns out that product review website The Wirecutter agrees, which is a nice affirmation:
After splitting very tiny hairs over 36 hours of testing, our official endorsement goes to the Rema Tip Top TT-02 patches, which do everything the competition does, but better. All of these patches have beveled edges; the beveling on the Rema is thinner and finer than what you’ll find elsewhere. All of the patches flex with the tube; the Rema flexes better. The edge of the patch is also ruffled, which makes the task of peeling up the patch from the glue more difficult because there’s more edge surface area to bond—that’s a good thing. You can save a couple of bucks by going with a generic brand, but I wouldn’t. There’s nothing more annoying than a failed patch at an inopportune moment.
So we have a good way to repair punctures, but what would be even better? No punctures at all. Can you tell where this is going? To be continued.
Gradually, emails calling me a worthless, time-wasting prick encouraged me to develop new features, and I must say abusive email–driven development is as fine a methodology as any.
People kept finding and using the thing.
In a time of brittle single-page web apps (like the one whose address is printed on every bus stop in the land), building an old-fashioned progressively enhanced website – everything having its own cool URL, accessible to search engine crawlers and mobile telephones – is a revolutionary act.
And horrible programmatic advertising3 can actually be lucrative – well, it’s much more money than I deserve.
At some point, I added a contact form.
And oh, in came the emails: I was no longer a worthless, time-wasting prick, but apparently I was the person to ask about lost property and to answer complaints about bus services.
I’ve since added some words explaining that I’m not, and contact details for most bus operating companies, but nobody reads anything on the web.
And so here I am. Almost three years later, it’s a fine specimen of what insufferable jerks call a “lifestyle business”, a “passive income”, ugh, although I inexplicably maintain a time-zombie full-time corporate stooge job as well.
March was the most successful month ever, as a cold wave disrupted transport and I found myself complicit in “disaster capitalism”.
I bought bustimes.org – which used to house a similar cool independent website – at the end of last year, from some sort of domain name squatter. I had international expansion on my greedy mind. There was a sobering dip in traffic when I moved from .org.uk to .org – it’s a modern parable – but things have picked back up now. ↩
I fear that a lot of the money comes from advertising contemptible adware, “potentially unwanted programs”. Rome2rio piously blocked MyTransitGuide – an eminent PUP, bizarrely published by a company with Chelsea Clinton on its board – but there must be dozens of different ones, and Google’s tools for blocking them are inadequate. So I spinelessly take the money. ↩
But it reminds me: perhaps the clearest sign of something being good is when unpleasant people start to exploit it for selfish reasons. So it is with directory listings.
I could speak from personal experience, but instead here’s a Boards of Canada fan posting on a forum about coming across what appeared to be an Aladdin’s cave of rare tracks, but was in fact a fake listing generated using the MusicBrainz database to trick people into completing “offers” (enter a thoroughly dubious competition or survey – give your details to some spammers).
Who’s behind these sites? Is it like the Macedonian fake news complex?
Do they make much money?
A key question for them must be “how do you sleep at night?”
Yet I can’t help but admire their plucky entrepreneurialism.
The doyen of the fake “index of MP3” game was surely wallywashis.name, which no longer appears to exist – but there are others left, like unknownsecret.info.
They’re all a bit different, but share these rather brilliant terms and conditions:
You must brush your teeth and floss at least twice daily.
You agree to reject critical thought by condemning it as the realm of conspiracy theorists and cranks.
You must not harbor expectations of downloading mp3 content from this site.
(I can’t really do it justice just by quoting excerpts. Seek out the whole thing yourself.)
The webmaster may ask for collateral in the form of your first born child as a sign of good faith before permitting you to use this website.
But then, who knew there’d be so many goings-on in such a short space of time?
First, an upsetting development regarding my Hiut jeans. A sort of hole has opened up around what might be called the “seat of the pants” area. This could be used as evidence for some cojones-based flattery, but the more pedestrian story is that I ride a bicycle quite a lot.
We stand by what we make. And keep standing by it even when things go wrong. That’s why we offer a free repairs policy for life on our jeans.
We can’t offer this service on the Tech Jean as it can’t be darned liked a pair of jeans can.
My jeans are a Tech Jean. Oh well, fair enough I suppose. Now, some bloggers would probably try to argue about semantics – what is a pair of jeans? – there’s the word “jean” in “Tech Jean”, right? – but that wouldn’t really befit my brand. If it can’t be darned, it can’t be darned. (Maybe the word “tech” is an allusion to contemporary consumer electronic products, which are difficult to repair. Ooh.)
Meghan Markle’s influence is being felt in full force by one Welsh company, who have skyrocketed to fame thanks to the Suits star.
Markle wore a pair of Hiut denim jeans during her official visit to Cardiff and, according to the company’s co-founder, the brand has not been the same ever since.
The only possible explanation is that this blog has an acolyte embedded deep within the palace. Hello, acolyte! What’s more, I think it adds to the growing body of evidence that the royal family is irrelevant, and blogging is much more relevant. The famous actor’s with-fiancée trip to Cardiff was back in January, months before I wrote anything, but I don’t really understand what difference that makes.
[James] Krug is an unusual entrepreneur. Twenty years ago, he was a rising star in the film and television business. […] But 11 years ago, Krug became convinced that the world did not need another TV show. What it needed was a better urinal.
Major [Seattle] City Hall Scoop: The flushless urinals are corroding the pipes and must be replaced with old fashion[ed] flushing urinals. Dudes: You need to hydrate more so your pee isn’t so destructive.
Apparently this isn’t a new problem. Non-flushing urinals are fine if the pipes are made from materials other than copper, which resist corrosion better. But sometimes building regulations stipulate copper pipes. I’m not curious enough to find out what Seattle City Hall’s pipes are made of.
Dystopia starts with 23.6 inches [60 centimetres] of toilet paper. That’s how much the dispensers at the entrance of the public restrooms at Beijing’s Temple of Heaven dole out in a program involving facial-recognition scanners—part of the president’s “Toilet Revolution,” which seeks to modernize public toilets. Want more? Forget it. If you go back to the scanner before nine minutes are up, it will recognize you and issue this terse refusal: “Please try again later.”
“Internet food police” Cook Suck is good fun.
I’ll keenly defend people’s right to eat whatever sub-diarrhoea terrible food they like, and even to publish photographic evidence inexplicably on Facebook – but Cook Suck writes very well about it when they do.
A quirk – well, apparently, a long-standing feature – of Unix graphical environments is being able to copy and paste text by some surprising combination of selecting text and clicking the middle mouse button.
If you ever mindlessly select text while reading, are a fan of scrolling with a scroll wheel (who isn’t?), and are generally some kind of neophyte, this makes it all to easy to do accidentally.
And so it was that I accidentally pasted one of Cook Suck’s profane outbursts into a collaborative Google Doc a few years ago.
Loyd Grossman follows me on Instagram, which is my one interesting fact about Instagram.
(“Loyd Grossman” here means the actual former Masterchef and Jet Bronx & The Forbidden frontman, and not the brand of cooking sauces named in his honour.)
More to the point, I follow him, and the steady mixture of art and gastronomy is excellent value. When the subject is edible, the captions inevitably contain adjectives like exemplary, superb, outstanding, and sensational. There’s an opportunity, there, for some data science (well, maybe just a Wordle) and/or some machine learning (well, maybe just a Markov chain).
The adjectives are well-warranted, as Grossman goes to some nice restaurants, and the pictures – like frankly everything I’m shown by Instagram’s algorithmic timeline – look delicious.
Curiously, there’s never any sauce from a jar – and that’s OK!
I can actually look at a picture of some sorrel dressing without my own life seeming bland by comparison. Even though it is.
Due to an error in translation, a previous version of this article erroneously stated that the firefighters comforted the students by claiming that they didn’t know how to make pasta, either. This was not the case and we regret the error.
So, this is how it works in the era of influencer marketing in the engagement economy.
Some elder bloggers – who I trust aren’t in the pocket of Big Trouser – blataboutHiut Denim, which is a nice brand of trousers made in Wales.
Later, I, in possession of some money and in want of something to conceal my legs, remembered this and bought some.
The most echt artisanal trousers are surely made of selvedge denim.
Whereas many mass-market trouser merchants sell stonewashed jeans in various states of distress1, Hiut and others revolutionarily offer actual brand new clothes and invite you to distress them yourself.
The most committed disgusting raw denim users will forego washing their jeans for months at a time, in favour of putting them in the freezer, to make the distress as personalised as possible.
Perhaps this is a case of the IKEA effect, “a cognitive bias in which consumers place a disproportionately high value on products they partially created”.2
I didn’t buy that sort of trouser – too predictable.
Instead, a high-tech blend of stretchy fabric.
Slightly tight – a style once favoured by Tony Blair – but no one has the courage to tell me to my face that my kecks make me look like a war criminal, so it’s OK.
“Great to ride your bike into work, it’s quick drying, but in the office they just look like a great black jean,” blethers the marketing copy, which is quite right.
Months later, it seemed time to expand the trouser collection with something different: cheap, flappy and made of cotton.
But disaster struck: on practically their first outing, I trousered my mobile phone, before nonchalantly sitting down near some aphsalt … you can guess what happened next.
The trousers had seemed cheap, but the shallow pockets quickly made it a false economy.
It’s a modern parable.
I kept a lookout for aspirational garb.
Of course, I’m abreast of the exciting New York “underground fashion label for nerds” Outlier – there’s a long Wired article that probably isn’t worth reading – but, the last time I considered it, shipping a military-inspired poncho across the pond just didn’t seem worth it.3
Instead, doesn’t someone make something similar in this country, I thought.
Someone suggested Finisterre, whose products are slightly targeted at people who surf.
I’ve never surfed, but I can speak favourably about the slightly itchy short-sleeved woollen base layer, and nice socks, that I bought.
Also, some trousers, which were the wrong size (my fault) but the return process was wonderfully hassle-free.
Their commitment to sustainability isn’t bullshit, which is nice.
The last trousers I bought were from the venture capital–backed corporate stooges Spoke.
Again with the technical fabric aimed at bicyclists – less stretchy and a bit more water-repellent than the stuff of the Hiut jeans, but – let me be clear – still not so water-repellent that actual waterproof trousers aren’t needed on top in the rain.
They’re innovative trousers, with a fold-out reflective bit, and an extra zipped pocket inside the right-hand side pockets.
The one snag is literally snagging one’s hand on that pocket’s zip (after leaving the zip unzipped and forgetting about it) – but such is the agony and ecstasy of high-quality trousers.
Adding a message to your trousers: in the 2011 BBC Three documentary Secrets of the Superbrands: Fashion – which contains lines like “That says ‘crankshafts’ in Japanese. That’s amazing isn’t it?” – children’s presenter Alex Riley went to India to meet a “philosopher of denim” whose vocation is using power tools, bleach etc to fuck up trousers. ↩
See also: the (disproven) theory that instant cake mixes “sold poorly until one food company decided to require the addition of a fresh egg to their product”. ↩
Maybe I will change my mind. Cotton Bureau’s “Blank” T-shirts are the best T-shirts I’ve worn in all my years of wearing T-shirts – well worth the hassle of international shipping. ↩
I’m surprised that no private media organisations have “slammed” the “feckless corporation” for “staggering waste” over this.
Or even just taken the piss out of some of the language in the Global Experience Language guidelines, which can be an open goal sometimes.
Of course, some say they could have made do with something free from Google.
The BBC behemoth must be cut down to size!
Actually, the BBC expects to save money compared to licensing off-the-peg typefaces like Gill Sans – so there.
So far, only BBC Sport is using the new fonts.
BBC Weather isn’t, despite having been mucked around with1 more recently.
We’ll just have to wait.
Searching Twitter for stuff about that, I found something completely different:
The pictures show some minified cascading style sheets, obscuring an FA Cup match, Only Connect, and some other programme a week later.
Let me be clear: this is not one of the quite interesting usual examples of source code in TV and films.
This isn’t supposed to relate to the plot of the fifth round of the FA Cup.
This is, surely, a bug.
Some of the styles in there mention Reith Sans, so we can assume the CSS was written by the BBC.
The big flat screen in the bottom image has a Panasonic logo on it, and the other user says he has a Panasonic Blu-ray player which seems to be implicated.
It’s known that these modern smart TVs all use bastardised web browsers so cross-platform experiences can be more easily shovelled across platforms.
I guess there’s a missing </style> tag somewhere.
Apart from that, I have no idea.
The beleaguered supermarket Morrisons has attracted attention – well, my attention – by actually playing bearable music in its shops.1
It’s not even just Van Morrison, Morrissey, and, uh, Maurice Gibb.
I don’t know why this re-occurred to be the other day, but it did.
I remember one particular occasion when I even used my mobile telephone to, well, I believe the verb is “to Shazam”.
It was in the Acomb branch, I remember.
My Google Play Sound Search history suggests that it was A Long Time by Mayer Hawthorne, and it was in June 2015.
I can’t find a record of a card transaction in my bank account, but it’s a safe bet that I bought some potato fardels.