Google maps you have a speech problem

Google Maps

I love google maps but it has a problem.

I use it as a GPS when travelling around on my scooter, which means I don’t have a screen in front of me. Instead I’m reliant on the audio output to tell me where to go and when. I imagine for most people this sounds kind of crazy because they want to see the map and directions, but when it works it really works well. It says before the turning and then again just at the point of the turn. Pretty much once you get use to it, its just great and I find it weird sitting in peoples cars when they are not listening to the voice.

However there is a bug/problem.

I use to think it was just my Nexus 5X but its happened with my Google Pixel2 making it clear its a google maps issue.

Every once in a while, google maps stops talking and leaves you with silence.  This seems to be solved with a restart, which is hardly great when driving along. I imagine most users tend to have the display and don’t care too much about the voice. But if you are reliant on it, when it suddenly goes quiet you start to wonder. Worst thing about it is Google maps doesn’t say anything when you don’t need to take a turn. Meaning if you are going down a motorway you have to assume everything is fine.

Google maps fail

This is what happened as I drove down the M6 towards London not Bristol on Monday afternoon, wondering when the M5 turn off was coming. Now to be fair I was on the right motorway but when I came across the M6 toll road, I took it and that led me towards London.

M6 toll
Taking the M6 Toll road
M5 from Birmingham
The M5 I should have took

Google maps said nothing, so I just kept going expecting something over the headset when the turning came. To make things even more difficult I had my pixel 2 phone locked in the scooter charging, meaning I couldn’t see the phone unless I pulled over and turned off the engine. Once again not ideal.

Ok this example is quite extreme (but it happened) and you could say I should have been aware but I honestly didn’t see a sign for the M5 south. Its likely I wouldn’t as I took the M6 toll road.

Google maps has a speech problem and I’m not the only one who has experienced this.

Anyone else?

My New years resolutions for 2017

Thinking Digital Manchester 2016
Can’t remember what prompted me to start blogging my new years resolutions but its become a good habit.

Following my review of last year… here’s my New Years Resolutions for 2017; which follows on from 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010.2009, 2008 ones.

  1. Be taken out of my comfort zone by Kate and take her out of comfort zone
    This still needs to happen and next year seems to be a good time for both of us. So expect to see some distress tweets about being lost in the middle of nowhere with no wifi, no power and only GPRS/Edge support. Well I guess if its warm and dry (not sure this will be the case) I can read some more or practice my circus skills?
  2. Head further a field with the scooter
    I was planning a trip to Northern Ireland (a place I’ve never been to) on the scooter but the weather didn’t quite work out with when I was actually around. Its still on the cards and with my possible new scooter even?
  3. Improve my circus skills
    Its getting there, but the vertex is still not quite there. More practice is needed and more days of sunshine in media city will help with this.
  4. Visit a Japanese styled spa at least once every 4 months in the UK
    Since I left Japan, I’ve decided I need to go to a spa more often. I skipped it again this year, although I did go to Liquidrom in Berlin twice. So now its a challenge to myself to find one and go. Looks like the Midland hotel might be the winner on this front.
  5. Ride a roller coaster in another country
    Return from last year. Its got to happen and it will be a shame if I don’t even go on a rollercoaster in 2017. Maybe a trip to Spain for Port Aventura. Plus theres all the other ones including Europa Park, Efteling and I guess Disney world (if I must).
  6. See the Aurora (Northern lights)
    Still haven’t seen them and 2017 I got to at least try. Be it head to Iceland (brian suda has offered many times – thanks!), Sweden or maybe I can combine this with going to Finland or Norway?
  7. Read more
    I bought a android eink tablet late in the year to replace my kindle, giving me access to epubs and better support for the way I like to read. I also switched from Instapaper to Wallabag to take back control of my deeper internet reading. This is the year when I’m expecting much more in-depth reading generally.
  8. Go to a new part of the world
    Its a weird one, as I have been to Portugal and Romania this year, two places I haven’t been. But why stop there? I already have plans for Hong Kong/South Korea in March/April. Then I’m thinking about the other Scandinavian countries Norway and Finland, perfect for seeing the northern lights
  9. Don’t shy away controversy and get more political
    Digging this one out of the past but added the political aspect. With all which is going on right now, its time to be a little more out spoken about the wrongs and rights in our democratic system. I mean how can you say little to Trumps thoughts to improve the USA’s nukes!
  10. Go to more comedy clubs and contemporary theatre plays
    I love comedy and I don’t go to enough comedy clubs. Plus the last few years I haven’t been to nearly enough contemporary theatre plays. Theres been some great ones including one performed in complete darkness called light and the machine. This year is also the year of the Manchester International Festival which will help a lot, but the contact theatre and frog and bucket should be regular haunts. I almost considered standup comedy for a laugh but thought better of it… hence… improvisation
  11. Take a improvisation class
    I like the idea and I think I might actually be pretty good at it, so I’m going to give it ago. Already tracked down a class in the local area I could join, but it clashes with Volleyball and the Dyslexia group I’m in.
  12. Replace my scooter
    Its time to replace my Honda Silverwing scooter which has lasted me many years (think its 13 years!) Its done a lot of miles and although it runs fine, the body work and general wear and tear is costing too much to fix now. Its will make some one a good cheap project but right now its less useful to me and who knows if it will pass its next MOT without some serious changes.

Whats my options for a new scooter?

my silverwing

I love my Honda Silverwing, its one heck of a scooter at 600cc. But the time has come to think about replacing it with something else. So I thought I’d just see what people recommend. I do want…

  • A scooter, not a motorbike… Yes I know but it suits me better
  • A CC of about 600 or more, I can’t really imagine dropping down now.
  • Lots of storage space and ability to put my Givi box on the back
  • Automantic transmission (although all scooters this size have that)
  • I’d love to have a electric or hybrid scooter of a good road size but there seems to be so little of them.

I guess everytime I go somewhere, I’m on the look for what kind of scooters they have.

Thoughts are welcomed, but don’t just say get a motorbike…

Welcome to Scotland…

One of my new years resolutions knocked off again…

Scooter into another country or new area
Last years trip down to Bristol via Snowdonia was amazing and I got to go do it again but go further a field. The issue really is weather but I think early summer in Ireland or up through Scotland could be fun. I’ve also been thinking about how I have never been to East Anglia (except Kings Lynn), so maybe its time on the scooter?

Done!

Grenta Green all the way from Manchester along the M61 and M6. Thanks Kate an d Paul for putting me up. in the Yurt.

The maxi-scooters of Tokyo

Akira
Akira (1988)

Most people know I ride a big scooter and always been a fan of them since a early age. I like to think of the scooters (officially and legally called maxi-scooters) like the crazy machine in the Akira. Its clear Tokyo takes its maxi scooters pretty seriously, they were everywhere. Its was interesting to see the types and how they have been pimped up/out.

Scooters of Tokyo

Its my silverwing but a newer model, wondering what cc? as maybe an upgrade is needed in the near future?

Scooters of Tokyo

What on earth is this? Not fan of the colour but I like shape. Either its heavily customised or something I’ve never seen before? Reminds me of this crazy thing.

Scooters of Tokyo

This is a weird scooter (honda helix) which I thought died out but I saw quite a few of these but also pimped out.

Scooters of Tokyo

I use to have a Yamaha Majesty but it certainly didn’t look like this thing. Check out the trims and attention to detail.

Scooters of Tokyo

Skywave or Silverwing? I couldn’t work out if this was the same beast as mine with a slightly different body or something totally different? They look similar?

Scooters of Tokyo

Another one of those very long honda helix scooters. They appeared to be everywhere in Tokyo. So much so, I stopped taking pictures unless they were very different.

If/when I go back I’ll be hiring a scooter (almost hired one while I was there).

New years resolutions 2015

Ian Forrester

Still can’t remember what prompted me to start blogging my new years resolutions but its become a good habit (as far I’m concerned) and I’ve always got friends, family and followers to keep on reminding me.

Following my review of last year… here’s my New Years Resolutions for 2015 which follows on from 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010. 2009, 2008 ones.

  1. Go to a new part of the world
    I’m scoping Tokyo and think I got the flight sorted, some friends who maybe interested and I’m looking at Airbnb for somewhere to stay. My cousin has mentioned eastern europe is cool…  regardless, I got to try going somewhere new and further east
  2. Improve my circus skills
    I have completely neglected  my circus skills last year. This year I’m aiming to be able to perform a basic vertex. This will mean going to down to Quirkus or seeking out the Circus House. I’ll also be watching and practice in front of Youtube (i mean tricks like the vertax gunslinger have got to be tried)
  3. Scooter into another country or new area
    Last years trip down to Bristol via Snowdonia was amazing and I got to go do it again but go further a field. The issue really is weather but I think early summer in Ireland or up through Scotland could be fun. I’ve also been thinking about how I have never been to East Anglia (except Kings Lynn), so maybe its time on the scooter?
  4. Explore my sapiosexual and datasexual sides
    I like new ideas and also like data, its time to explore how far this can go, with a linked up approach to my self-directed career.  This links up my thoughts about surrounding myself with smarter media/people, with my aspirations linking up my career.
  5. Quantify more and make better use of my data exports
    Off the back of the last one…I collect quite a bit of data but its still in a lot of silos. When I was doing the metadating, it became clear how distributed it all is. So I’m going to do something about it. Maybe aggregate it all together under my own control. Also I’m going to sort out the Manchester Quantified Self meetup.
  6. Do something for other dyslexics
    Another connection to number 4? I manage my dyslexia in a not bad way, yes there are better ways but everywhere I look there are still stories of people struggling to manage. Somebody once suggested I would be a great mentor and to be fair I have done a little ad-hoc mentoring. I’m not sure exactly what yet, but something.
  7. Improve my health and alertness
    2015 is 5 years after my brush with death. I’m forever thankful for the chance to change things and live the life I want. I’m not doing too bad, consistently at my lowest weight and feeling quite active. Of course I can always do better and that is happening. But I’ve been wondering about my alertness. I use to be quick and I’m seeing signs that its coming back. So I’m going to make 2015 about alertness. This may include the flu jab and better sleeping patterns.
  8. Hire somebody to ironing my clothes
    I have a cleaner because although I do clean my own flat, there are things which I don’t have time for or simply forget. Likewise I usually keep my clothes in a reasonable state by shaking them and hanging them up when out of the washing machine. But I have a lot of cotton now and it just gets wrinkled and there is little you can do. I bloody hate ironing, so its time to just hire someone. Looking at you hassle.com
  9. Try dating younger (and progressive) but central located women
    Recently I seem to be going out with women my age who live further a field and seem less progressive about their thinking. Its time to try something different, theres lots of single women in Manchester. I hadn’t really considered younger (don’t know why really), although most men do. My parents have a large age between each other and it works ok, maybe it could work for me?
  10. Decorate the flat
    When I first moved into my own flat in Manchester, I was told by the estate agent, the furniture would be easier for them to leave it there. Of course this was a lie and I had to run around in my recovery period getting furniture from IKEA. My parents and good friends (sheila/glyn) helped me put everything together. And the lovely Jane, rearranged my living room a while ago. I always said I would replace things like the sofas, but 4 years later its pretty much the same as most other apartments. Time for a new look, touches and some new furniture.
  11. Read more
    I still tend to read non-fiction type things but recently my instapaper and greader is getting quite busy as I’m certainly not finding the time to just sit and read. Thats going to change in 2015.
  12. Discover more music via Djs and Podcasts
    Chris tweeted following my review of 2014 about my top music listening from Last.fm. I have to admit my music discovery last year was a little crap. I don’t listen to music radio or go out to clubs where trance or serious house is played, so don’t really get a chance to discovery new stuff.  In the past I use to listen to Armin van buuren and gareth emery’s podcast because I use to walking alot. However I walk less now due to the scooter (can’t quite get headphones under the helmet yet). So you know what I’ll be listening to while working. Be interesting to see the difference next year.

Ride down to Bristol via Snowdonia

At end of my journey

In a previous post I talked about driving to Bristol via Snowdonia. Well I’m happy to say I made it! Yeh me! 400+ miles completed.

I know most of you are saying, so what? But I have never driven so far on my Silverwing scooter before. I use to drive between London and Bristol on the A4 when I moved to London and it use to be a very long trip (4hours). Main reason it took so long is because I was on a 125cc scooter and it was going flat out most of the journey. I couldn’t use the motorway with my L plates and 125cc bike. Such a journey I would need to nap for a hour or so straight away afterwards!

I recorded the journey using my tracks as usual but unfortunately turned it off when stopping at Aberystwyth. I also forgot to turn it on a couple times, hence some small gaps in the journey.

Here is my ride from Manchester to Liverpool to Llandidno to Llarwst to Blaenau Ffestiniog to Barmouth to Dolgellau to Machynlleth to Aberystwyth. Blaenau was impressive, I wished my camera still had enough battery because you swing around a mountain down a beautiful valley into this clearing. The clearing is a mine site with a village in the middle. Barmouth was a mistake because when looking at google maps, I thought the line across the river was a public bridge but it was actually a train bridge. I actually thought I missed it but ended up going back on myself towards Dolgellau. I did stop at Llandidno and try and go around the Great Orme (the wrong way it seems). I also tried to pay at the mersey tunnel but realised it was free for bikes.

Then I stayed at the Queensbridge hotel on the seafront where I got told I was being moving to the Four Seasons in town. Didn’t really matter because it was pretty much the same.

After a sleep and breakfast I headed out again. From Aberystwyth to Rhayader to Talgarth to Abergavenny to Newport to Bristol. The travel across the 2nd seven bridge cross was free, and I somewhat forgot this. Also got stuck in a bit of traffic around Newport and Bullth Wells due to the Royal Wales festival.

The camera clamp actually held all the way through the journey, I was very impressive and thought it was bound to fall off somepoint.

I think I might have connected the two parts together using Google Maps Engine. I tried to do it with a non-native XML editor but KML is a odd format which I don’t really get the schema.

So having that ride under my belt and the weather looking to hold while I drive back. I may avoid Birmingham and the Motorway to drive up through Wales again.

Who knows… Maybe I’ll drive down again and Ireland is calling me too. I always knew the Honda Silverwing was a touring scooter being the little sibling of the Honda Goldwing.

Visiting the lake district


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While most people, this weekend were watching the tour de france in Yorkshire. I decided it was time for a ride further a field to the Lake District. Very nice ride with the sunshine beaming down all day… Of course I captured most of it with my head mounted camera and the autographer.

First time ever been to Kendal or the Lake district actually…

Riding down the Hope Valley


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On Sunday afternoon, it was nice and warm and after 4 hours of Volleyball training, I decided to give Tim’s advice of doing the Hope Valley road a try.

I have to say I need to find a way to attach my Xacti Camera (thinking this could be the hardware project I’ve been meaning to do with FabLab all this time) to the Silverwing or maybe get a Go Pro. There were some stunning views which I wanted to stop and capture but while driving the dangerous path of Snakes pass from the Glossip end, its not advisable to stop a lot. Got to say the trip from Hope Valley into Lancaster was very hilly and amazing to drive, just a shame I was looking directly into the Sunset…

Anyway you can see the path I took which is a lot cleaner than my last one.

A long ride out to sheffield and back

Ride across the Peaks

So this time I went through the mountains of the pennines along the woodhead crossing, stopped in Sheffield and then back through along the forever talked about Snakes pass.

To be honest Snakes pass, wasn’t as scary as I imagined. But there certainly were some corners which I can totally see someone less aware getting caught on. I think I prefer the woodhead crossing for its pure speed and pleasure of driving on top of the mountains but I can see why Snakes pass is a heck lot quicker.

I was amazed at the lake in the middle of the pennines, from my brief look, it seems like there is a pebble/rocky beach too. I might be wrong, I imagine its maybe all just sinking mud and thats certainly not the place to get caught out.

Hope valley is next on my list, but if the weather gets any worst I certainly won’t be driving around the pennines. It was pretty treating when I went out on Saturday, cant even imagine what its like in rain and in the dark!


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For some reason, my phone went a little nutty in the middle, so I ended up with 2 KML files, using Oxygen XML I was able to put the data together. You can’t beat side by side view…

Documenting a ride

HONDA SILVERWING

I now have my scooter (Honda Silverwing) back on the road, thanks to Matt.

I have been on a few longish journeys around but not anything major. So today I went for a long ride in the mountains (well there officially the peaks  but…). I keep meaning to go down the famous Snakes Pass. But there seems to be a number of different routes which are interested rides through the peak district.

Using my tracks on my phone I was able to create a map of where I had gone complete with all the riding info. I was surprised to find you could easily export it to Google Drive and therefore easily something/somewhere else.


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Time to fix up the scooter?

Honda Silverwing

Saw this picture and started thinking its about time I fixed my scooter to either use it or sell it… I do believe it will get warmer and there is almost nothing better than riding around in the summer breeze.

Now I just need to find a decent motorbike repair shop somewhere near the centre of Manchester? Any pointers would be useful…

To the scumbag(s) who stole my scooter top box

Had a wonderful day hooking up with friends and ex-students from Ravensbourne. Our lecturer John Durrant was retiring from his role at Ravensbourne and Lisa setup a get together through Facebook and email to celebrate his clean break from Ravensbourne. Anyway it was going so well till I went to get my coat and a baby play rug from my scooter.

I walked the short walk to my where my scooter was parked and noticed from a far something was wrong. Yep some fucking loser had stolen my top box from the back of my locked silverwing scooter. I couldn't believe it and started swearing out loud before checking my scooter for any damage. The rest of the scooter was fine, they had not even tried the ignition.

I don't know what it was but I've never had a top box stolen from my scooter before and I've parked it over night in places like Kings Cross and Euston. Maybe it was because I decided to put my helmet out on the top of the scooter (it was hot and sweaty, so I wanted it to cool down in the natural air. Anyway it was gone, so I checked the local bins and asked a couple of women from a close by bar. I figured anyone carrying a large black and red box would be easily seen. Unfortually they didn't see anything so I called the Police and they ran me though the criminal reference stuff.

Generally I'm pissed off because I had my scooter coat, gloves, bungy net and baby play matt in the back box. SO when the thief/thivies open the box, there going to be pretty pissed off.

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Westminster Council, what a bunch of greedy f…

Matthew lead me on to the scheme where Westminster Council will charge motorcyclist a price for parking. It seems to have moved from a joke into something real with legs. I think this so crap and we need to do something about this before it happens and worst still Camden and others start following suite. How dare they claim the cost of securing bikes parking will cost up to 1 pound a day. This is simply wrong and smacks in the face of the congestion charge which is meant to stop congestion in London. Bikes are a good way to get across london and cause very little congestion. Charging for bike parking sends a message that were not welcome. Anyway From London Bikers

Thanks to the efforts of our LB Reporter Mr Toby Stokes – we secured an interview with Westminster Council about the parking scheme. We also asked you what you thought – and here's the video.

Sign the petition here http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/FreeBikeParking/ and visit the campain website here http://www.free4bikers.org.uk/

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