Some posts have ‘Continue Reading …’

They shouldn’t though. I couldn’t figure it out at all. Why should posts, mostly from the older pages, suddenly start showing the Continue Reading link. Here’s an example:

Continue reading

There are lots of posts like this. All in the later pages. I’ve checked the theme settings and it’s fine. The next obvious thing was the blocks or raw HTML itself to see if there was some sneakily embedded tag that was causing mischief. Nope. All looks fine.

I finally found the problem. White space in the excerpt widget. Easily resolved by deleting it. But why? How has this happened? And it looks like it’s always the same amount of whitespace. In the screenshot below you can see the highlighted whitespace just before deletion.

It’s annoying, and what’s also annoying, is whether it’s going to happen again. I’m wondering whether a recent update caused this but I can’t think why it should.

Mysterious whitespace appearing in the excerpt widget

By copying the whitespace and pasting it into vi, then saving and running od on it I get:

dougie@office:~$ od -c temp
0000000 \n \t \t \t \t \t \t \n
0000010

I’m not sure how meaningful that is, but if it’s accurate it looks like that, for whatever reason, lots of my posts have acquired a newline, 6 tabs, and a newline. I wonder why.

A week on the trailcam

12 to 21 Aug 2020

This new spot for the trailcam is proving to be quite interesting. Despite being just a few metres from the house and close to the feeders it’s just out of view, and it’s surprising how much wanders by that I normally miss.

Quite a lot of scraggily looking birds. I’m not sure if they’re in moult, or juvinile birds, or both. There’s also quite a lot of the greater spotted woodpecker drinking, both adult and juvenile. I think it’s the same juvenile each time. It has quite a distinctive red dot on the right-hand-side of the nape of its neck, but it’s not always easy to see, and I suspect there may be more than one juvenile around.

Hedgehogs and mice appear in the dead of night.

The water is a huge hit. Birds that I don’t often associate with drinking from the ground level seem quite content to spend a bit of time there. Chaffinches, robins, blue tits, lots of long-tailed tits, and I’m pretty sure there’s a treecreeper that makes a brief appearance. The water depth may be a little too uncertain for them but a few of the bigger birds certainly have a dip. The greater-spotted woodpecker having a good bath at 13:10 is, I’m fairly certain, not the same juvenile that appears earlier.

There’s often a bit of background action too on the feeders, mostly Jackdaws and woodpeckers.

the tacx tyre and the Saris M2

Tacx trainer tyre

So there I was, plodding up some pass in the Czech republic, slogging steadily through the middle of a Rouvy server, minding my own business, when BANG! A mechanical! On a smart trainer. A blowout.

I hopped off my bike and moved to the side of the road. Fished out the tyre levers, which had conveniently appeared on a nearby workbench, and had a look at the problem.

Tacx trainer tyre – exhibit A
Tacx trainer tyre – Exhibit B

I have my doubts about the Saris M2. I miss my Tacx Vortex. It’s a pity that it fizzed and sparkled when I tried to fix it. It’s pretty much unfixable now. It’s now a perfectly functioning not-smart trainer though. The Saris M2, with its scary clutch knob, makes me nervous. So much tyre squashing involved.

Moving to a dedicated trainer tyre was definitely a good move. It’s quieter and smoother. Not sure about the battery life though. Is it connected to the trainer? Is it a co-incidence that since changing to the Saris M2 that the cracks have begun to show in my trainer tyre?

On the surface of things I certainly seemed to have a smoking gun. But I’m a bit puzzled. Admittedly the tyre is not looking its best, but I was surprised it had resulted in such a rowdy blowout. I decided that it was just a fluke, and the tyre had a bit of life in it yet.

Tacx trainer tyre

I wasn’t wrong. There was some life yet. Another 12 minutes to be precise. Then there was another loud bang, not dissimilar to the first one. Luckily I had another nearly new tacx trainer tyre, I just had to find it. I was nearly at the top of the pass too. Annoying.

The new tyre is on, and today I managed to complete the ride without a mechanical. But I’m really, really not sure about the Saris M2. Surely a tyre was never designed to be quite so squashy …

Tacx trainer tyre

algorithms

It’s a long time since I did my A levels. Actually, I never did A levels, I did Highers, but they were almost as good, or better, depending on which side of the Who Cares fence you sit. But algorithms are implicated. Great things algorithms, when they work. Sometimes they don’t.

I’ve been using Teamviewer for years. In a personal capacity. Very personal in fact. Pretty much tautologically selfishly. Friends and Family don’t even come into the frame – it’s pretty much me me me. Or, me and the PC in the garage.

My case use, pretty much my sole case use for the last year or two, is to use one of the PCs in my house, to connect to the PC in my garage. I have a Linux PC, and a Windows PC, and I’ll use one of them (usually the Linux one) to connect to the Windows PC in the garage.

Why? Two reasons. 1. to do the massive upgrades that Microsoft lob into the universe at occasional intervals, and 2. to download videos for Rouvy rides that I take a fancy to. It’s not great when Microsoft decide that your Windows 10 PC wants to do an upgrade, and it’s gotta do it NOW, just when you’re settling into the little cog for a slog up some pretty alpine pass.

My Rouvy rides were getting a bit jumpy, and I realised that garage PC just wasn’t cutting the mustard. Cutting the mustard? Where does that come from …

Hmmm, well I’m not sure I’m any the wiser, but my garage PC, imaginatively named garage, was at the bottom end of the spec for Rouvy. But the spec of my office PC, in my house, was a bit better. With the addition of a bit of memory and a budget graphics card it would be a better fit.

So, long story short, I swapped things round. The Office PC went in the garage, and the dusty garage PC came in the office. And all was well. My Rouvy cycle rides along canal paths and up alpine passes did not get easier, but they did not get easier with a better frame rate.

This hasn’t gone down well with Teamviewer. It starts simply enough. Rather than walk down the stairs, go out the back door, unlock the garage, check the PC for updates/downloads, it’s easier to fire up Teamviewer.

And then the problems begin …

COMMERCIAL USE DETECTED

If you click on More info you get taken to a Teamviewer page where you can explain yourself. I thought, why not. It’s not unreasonable. I wasn’t too chuffed tbh. There was the presumption of guilt. Hints of Capita TVL about the tone. Capita TVL are an organisation that combines incompetence, dishonesty, bullying and cowardice in one easily manageable package, and every year they get the contract to collect the BBC licence fee. It’s what Capita do. Make money out of misery. And blame their own data for the fact that their own data is bad, and somehow make out that it’s someone else’s fault that they’re really bad at what they do. They’re pretty nasty.

But surely Teamviewer aren’t the same as Capita? Surely Teamviewer are quite good with data? I filled in the form, explaining that, it was just me, in my house, connecting to my PC, in my garage. Sorry, but I wasn’t even helping out friends or family. Surely personal use doesn’t get much more personal than that?

Apparently not.

Teamviewer say that it can take a while to respond to their online form. Specifically:

We are aiming to solve all requests within seven days. Please note that we will attend to every request. Sending multiple requests will prolong the process.

https://www.teamviewer.com/en/support/commercial-use-suspected/

So I was a bit surprised when my response came through just a few hours after submitting my form. Almost as if it were, I dunno, automatic, or processed by some algorithm, rather than looked at by sentient entity.

Unable to Confirm the Situation

No matter. There are other ways. I could, for example, get off my arse and go downstairs, outside, unlock the garage, and check for updates. Do me good. Or I could use one of the many free remote desktop utilities available for Linux which would do all I need. All is well.

Horizontal Scrollbars

Are a thing. Quite a big thing. I like to keep an eye on ideas about good practice for presenting information on the web. I still haven’t got my head round the alt tag for images – where and how to use the alternative text and image title attributes for instance. And is opening an image in a separate tab good or bad? And how much do I care?

At the moment I’m using the twentysixteen theme. I quite like it. Nice and simple. Recently I wanted to paste a bit of code so I selected Code Block in the Gutenberg editor. It looked terrible. A sort of unwrapped inverse video that I found not very clear to read.

So I tried it with the preformatted block option. I think it looks better. Cleaner, and with a border. But the code I pasted was wrapped, and I find that difficult to read.

But is it just me? I started searching for how to add a horizontal scrollbar to the code or preformatted block and found it a muddy field. First discovery I made was that this behaviour seemed to be particular to the twenty sixteen theme; the other themes I tried defaulted to horizontal scrolling.

And I seemed to be in a minority in liking horizontal scrolling. All the search results were for people trying to work out how to disable horizontal scrolling, whereas I seemed alone in wishing to find out how to enable it. I’m intrigued to find that on the whole it seems people don’t like horizontal scrollbars in code windows.

But I like it so I tried to work out how to enable it. I think I’ve sorta managed it but whether it’s right I’m not sure. Seems to work. I used the Inspect facility of Firefox to prod and poke and try a few things, then I added:

.wp-block-preformatted {
    white-space: pre;
    overflow-wrap: normal;
}

and

.wp-block-code {
    white-space: pre;
    overflow-wrap: normal;
}

to the Additional CSS section of my theme customisation.

That seemed to work so I went hunting for the settings. I’m using a child-theme and I quite like to know where things live. I looked for recently changed files but there were no likely culprits. I was a bit puzzled so back to the internet, and I discover that these customisations are saved in the database itself. I’m not sure why, but I wasn’t keen on this. I’d prefer it if they were there, in green and black in a text file that I could see.

So I’ve removed the code from my Additional CSS bit, and put it in style.css in my child-theme directory, and it still seems to work.

I do like the way other themes do it though. I think the styling is nicer in twentytwenty but I don’t like the way it displays categories and tags in block capitals. Maybe I’ll tinker in that direction somewhere down the line.

Why did the slow worm cross the road?

If you went down to the woods on Friday and tried to drive along the Hamsterley Forest drive, you may have encountered four grown men in a protective huddle around a corner of the asphalt. You may have driven carefully around them (they were not for moving) and wondered why they were standing as they were and where they were.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a slow worm before. And they’re not a worm, they’re a lizard. And they’re kinda gorgeous. So I’m quite pleased that we were there to give it the rolling roadblock it justifiably deserved to get from one side of the road to the other.

Once we’d seen it safely on its way, we continued safely on ours. Out into the forest and up on to the common. Where the sun shown and the flies buzzed. All is well.

A week on the trailcam

6 to 12 Aug 2020

I moved the trailcam. This turned out to be a good move. I moved it near a water trough and at around ground level. This spot isn’t visible from the house, or the garden for that matter. Quite secluded. It has proved to be a popular drinking spot.

There are lots of moulting magpies. Or perhaps just one moulting magpie. One moulting magpie looks pretty like another to me. It’s also possible that it’s a juvenile. There are a few sequences of a blackbird feeding its youngsters, (4:00 and 7:05), with what appears to be some peanuts that I’d scattered on the ground. Although they look pretty scrunched up I think I’ll keep the peanuts in cages until the birds are a bit bigger. A few long-tailed tits show up from time to time. I love the whirring their wings make when they fly off.

Some interesting blackcap behaviour at 4:33, where a female, possibly juvenile, blackcap approaches a female chaffinch. I don’t know what’s going on there. Perhaps it’s a juvenile looking for food. It also illustrates a conundrum I occasionally have with the Garden BirdWatch scheme. If I observe a bird on the trailcam, but not from my usual watching positions, do I add it to my records?

The juvenile greater spotted woodpecker is a regular visitor, at 8:56, then 9:58 visible on the fat-block feeder in the background, then at the water trough at 15:23, 18:03, 18:28 and 18:58. There’s a nice catch of a male bullfinch in the sunlight at 14:33.

I’ve moved the camera again. When the birds are perched on the nearside of the trough they’re just a little out of focus so I’m guessing it’s just a shade too close to the camera. And the trough needs filled. Poor birds are having to bend down a long way to get to the water. The other thing I may try and adjust is the timer. The default recording period is 10seconds, but in theory this should extend if activity is being detected, but in practice this doesn’t always happen. This can be a little frustrating if there’s activity on the camera and the recording suddenly ends.

Signs of Life

Finally, something has shown up next to the pond. Or puddle. I’m not expecting whales or dolphins or anything amazing, but I’d expected some insects to show up. It’s a nice little pool. Surrounded by nettles.

I think this is Helophilus pendulus, a hoverfly. According to Wikipedia the scientific name means “dangling marsh-lover” – which seems a pretty accurate description.

[Later … Perhaps it’s Myatropa florea (batman hoverfly) – I can’t tell]

an orienteering competition. a real one.

Back to orienteering. CLOK went for it. And it was a hoot. My first real race using maprun went ok. It seemed to start from the car, going to the lavvie, then the registration bit, then off.

‘lap’ 1 seems to be just before me and Roberta stopped for a chat (clock ticking) about what happened next. Then offski.

A few minutes later, on my way from control 3 to the underpass, to get to control 4. I drifted up the bank to get a slightly more direct line. Marginal Gains! And flew close to the sun. Or the finish.

Total distance: 1599 m
Average speed: 11.48 min/km
Total time: 00:35:19
Download file: Darlington South Park orienteering - attempt1 - 2020-07-19_09 53 34.gpx

My Garmin buzzed. Finished! I don’t think so.

Ok, let’s try that again.

Total distance: 8281 m
Average speed: 6.50 min/km
Total time: 01:03:21
Download file: Darlington South Park - Orienteering VOC LONG - 2020-08-02_09_30_44.gpx

Adjusting the Clutch Knob tension on the Saris M2 Smart Trainer

Goodbye to the Tacx Vortex

My Tacx Vortex packed up. I was a bit surprised. Five years it’s been turning round and round with various degrees of resistance and I’ve always taken it a bit for granted. Then recently, when trying to pair it to Rouvy, I noticed nothing was happening. No lights, no connection.

I was in denial for a while. When something has worked fine for 5 years then doesn’t, it’s a bit of an adjustment. After changing the power and plug and digging around with a multimeter, it was clear it really was dead.

I lifted the hood, had a google, and it looks like it’s a thing. A thread on www.electronicspoint.com reveals a few people with tantalisingly dead Tacx trainers. I don’t fancy prodding the PCB with a soldering iron – my soldering skills were never that good – but I might one day revisit this.

The R64 resistor gets a few mentions and the one on my PCB looks like after 5 years it’s decided to call it a day.

I was discovering how much I’d taken the trainer for granted. The Tacx Vortex is a really simple affair, with a straightforward lever that presses the roller against your back wheel. I liked it a lot. Smart Trainers are hugely variable in price and the Vortex hit a nice entry-level sweet point when I bought it in 2015, and now it was dead.

Or, more precisely, dumb. Clearly I could use it as a dumb trainer, like in olden times. But I was surprised how quickly I’d adjusted to, and taken for granted, having real virtual resistance, or virtually real resistance, as I slogged up an alpine pass in the comfort of my garage. I needed another smart trainer.

Looking for a new Smart Trainer

Time for another shock or two, or three. The Vortex was no longer available. And Smart Trainers are pretty expensive. Even cheap ones are expensive. And as we pedal virtually through the post-Covid apocalypse, they are very hard to find.

I was quite keen on a wheel-on trainer. Mostly because they’re a lot cheaper, but also because you can use it to road-test, or pseudo-road-test, an old bike. During lockdown I’d rebuilt two old steel bikes and learned a lot on the way. Mostly about the joys of trying to adjust a cup and cone Campag bottom bracket. And I was discovering that the best place to discover that you hadn’t adjusted it very well, was not somewhere a long way from home.

I bought the Saris M2 Smart Trainer. I wanted to stick with Tacx, but price and availability were against me. Despite many of the alarming reviews for the M2 I decided to take a risk. It was the only one around my budget, in stock, and available to pick up.

There’s a good review, or non-review, of the M2 by Jeff Whitfield on the velonut.com website. I have to say my experiences almost exactly reflect his. He mentions adding the bolt action tube was difficult. My experience was identical. Initially I assumed that I was doing something wrong and I kept checking and re-checking the documentation until I was convinced I was right, and eventually it jostled in. It was in the right place but the engineering felt a bit rough.

Same story for the resistance unit. After many “this can’t be right” moments I tentatively tapped the bolt through the frame, having constantly checked the alignment and kept everything lined up. There isn’t a huge amount of thread to be engaged on the bolt and I spent a few minutes fruitlessly using a socket wrench turning a small amount of empty space mistakenly assuming I’d finally managed to get the bolt far enough along to engage the thread.

But I got there in the end. And then, the adventure really begins. The Clutch Knob.

The Saris M2 Smart Trainer Clutch Knob

It’s hard to find a review of the M2 that doesn’t mention the Clutch Knob. It is, as they say, a fine idea. In principle, you might add. But it scares me. So much tension in such a delicate looking piece of metal. So much so, that on my first attempt, I lost my nerve. I’d read so many reviews mentioning so many bent frames and so many clutch knobs not clicking, that I really didn’t want to end up with a bent 2-day old trainer. The last one the shop had in stock.

It was very frustrating. After spending a lot more time assembling the frame than I expected, and thinking I was finally getting somewhere, I wasn’t sure I wanted to risk turning, and turning, a yellow piece of plastic hoping, waiting and praying for it to click. What I hadn’t been able to find out from my searches was a ball-park figure for how many turns, how much pressure, would be required to get to the click. How much should the tyre be squashed?

One article suggested 2.5 to 3 turns, but that was for a black knob. The M2 was yellow. Did this matter? Another support article suggested the tyre should be squashed in about a 1/3 to get the required resistance, with the tyre inflated to just a little of maximum. And a thread on www.trainerroad.com shows that I’m not the only one to be uneasy about the level of deformation or turning required.

Having lost my nerve and resigned myself to never knowing, and then discovering the joys of software calibration, I was feeling pretty dejected. Compared to the simple engagement mechanism used by the Vortex to apply pressure to the wheel, I was finding the M2 pretty inelegant. I visited the Saris website, registered the product, and put in a support ticket explaining my sad story.

Waiting for the click

To set things up I was using a 1983 Alan bike with a wheel and tubular of similar age. The tubular is pretty frayed but it would fine to test things out.

Alan Super Record with old tubular

Next after the Alan was to try it with my road bike with a dedicated Tacx trainer tyre inflated to the recommended 120psi.

Tacx dedicated trainer tyre

After my first failed attempts I decided to man-up and try again. But this time I decided to video my attempts so that I had something concrete to show to Saris.

The twenty minute adventure is available for viewing but you might have some paint you need to watch drying somewhere, so here’s my key discoveries.

TL;DR

  • Old tubular at approx 120psi: Start tightening clutch-knob (06:47).
  • Old tubular at approx 120psi: Clicks after 8 and a bit turns (08:27).
  • Deformation in tubular (09:34).
  • Old tubular at approx 130+psi: Start tightening clutch-knob (12:50).
  • Old tubular at approx 130+psi. Clicks after 6 and a bit turns (13:25).
  • Tacx trainer tyre at approx 120psi: Start tightening clutch-knob (17:10).
  • Tacx trainer tyre at approx 120psi: Clicks after 6 and a half (18:00).

So that’s between 6-and-a-bit and 8-and-a-bit turns. To me that feels like a lot of turns, even if the tyres are slightly under-inflated. I get that you need decent thunk of pressure to get that potential 15% of slope, but even so, it doesn’t feel right. Perhaps I could inflate the tyres a smidgen more and it’d bring the number of turns down but I’m not so sure. There feels like a lot of tension in that L-bolt. I’ve had one training session on the M2 and the jury’s out. Time will tell.