Route Planner: Import Recorded Rides Easily

If you’ve got a Garmin Edge 605 or 705 and you’ve just gone for a ride, if you remembered to press “start” on your GPS at the beginning, your Edge will have recorded your route.  You can find the files in the Garmin/History folder on your device when you connect it to your computer.  Annoyingly, though, they’re saved in TCX format, which is a Garmin specific format.  These files were difficult to import into the route planner: you needed to go through all kinds of hoops to convert it to a GPX of the right type so you could import it and see your ride on your computer.  Now, however, with the latest release of the Route Planner, you can import TCX files natively.  Just select File / Import from the menu!

New Marengo GPS Route Planner – Out Now!

After too long a gestation period, the new version of the Marengo GPS Route Planner is out.  This web-based application allows cyclists (amongst other outdoors types) to plot a route on a map and then upload it to their GPS unit to enable it to guide them.

New features include direct upload from the application to a Garmin device (Windows / Mac only I’m afraid, owing to Garmin’s requirements), a full “undo” system, auto-routing between points, elevation details and charting and more.

The new version is right where the old one used to be:

Weird Pauses Ubuntu Jaunty in Compiz / ATI fglrx

I upgraded my laptop to Ubuntu Jaunty the other day. A relatively smooth upgrade, but one thing was really annoying me.

The open source drivers for the machine don’t support compiz effects, which I’ve come to rely on for genuinely useful task switching, inverting the colours of windows, and magnifying. So I used the proprietary ATI fglrx drivers. All worked well apart from a really annoying several-second delay each time a window was maximized or resized.

I couldn’t find anything relevant on the interwebs until today. Apparently this issue is widespread, and is the result of the xserver “back filling” any maximized or resized windows to prevent momentary display corruption within that window. This goes really slowly!

There is now a patch – basically just an xserver which abandons the back filling. The appropriate repositories can be found here:

Speeding up Firefox 3 on the Eee

I’m running ubuntu-eee on my new Asus Eee 901.  And Firefox 3.0 was horrible on it.  You’d load a page, and scrolling up and down would pause frequently with a jittery, jerky motion.  It was so annoying that I experimented with Opera and Epiphany as replacements.  Both fine browsers, but I hated being without add-ins like Adblock Plus and Foxmarks.  Read on to find out how to fix it…

Continue reading “Speeding up Firefox 3 on the Eee”

DRM-Free Music in the UK


Why is it so hard to legally obtain DRM-free music in the UK?  Amazon, in the US, has offered DRM-free music downloads for a long time now.  However their UK site doesn’t (and they don’t let you order music from the US-based site unless you are a US citizen).  Tesco ( offers some DRM-free stuff, but the site requires Windows clients and is slow and poorly designed.  iTunes did start to offer some DRM-free stuff, but (a) it was more expensive and (b) the selection, when I last looked, was pitifully small.

3G Mobile Broadband with Ubuntu-eee

It took me a while to figure out how to get a dial-out connection using a Huawei E220 USB mobile broadband dongle.  Mine was supplied by Three in the UK so this is specific to them, but if you’re not on three this should give you a starting point…

Edit or create the file /etc/wvdial.conf with the following content:

[Dialer defaults]
Modem = /dev/ttyUSB1

[Dialer three]
Init2 = ATZ
Init3 = ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0
Stupid Mode = 1
Modem Type = Analog Modem
ISDN = 0
Phone = *99\#
Modem = /dev/ttyUSB0
username = username
Password = password
Dial Command = ATDT
Baud =466600
Init4 = AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP",""

You can then dial out by issuing the command “sudo wvdial three”

Note that Firefox assumes that if you aren’t connected via Network Manager, then you’re not online and starts up in offline mode.  Uncheck the option on the file menu and you should be OK.

Note also there seems to be some bug in Three’s DHCP stuff… if you see that on connection you are set up with a DNS server of then it’s wrong… drop the connection and reconnect (or edit your /etc/resolv.conf file manually)

Need wireless broadband wherever you go? Check out Clear 4g

Got to Get Past!

What is it on the roads today?

Everyone seems to have to overtake.

I decided (as I’m tired) to take it easy today, while on my fixie on my ride into work, in London, from Chelsea to the City.  As I wasn’t trying to keep up with traffic as much as possible, I vowed to try and just go with the flow.  I noticed the following:

  • Cars would overtake and immediately slam on the brakes to avoid hitting the car in front
  • Fellow cyclists would undertake me (because I prefer to NOT hug the kerb) at lights (forcing me to overtake them two seconds later)
  • Moped and motorbike riders regularly use the bike lanes to creep ahead at lights
  • I won’t even mention the scum that cycle through red lights (oops! I just did!)

Most of these road users got absolutely nowhere compared to my relaxed riding today; I’d meet and / or overtake the same people over and over.

Why are we so obsessed with overtaking on the roads in the UK?