MS Excel roll centre calculator

Just put together a very simple roll centre calculator in Excel Online which should work for one axle of an RC car with double wishbone suspension.

You’re welcome to try it out yourself!

Roll centre calculator on OneDrive

 

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I heart IKEA

You know what, I REALLY like building IKEA furniture.

A change of circumstances recently means that I have furnished a two-bedroom house from scratch, and almost all of the contents have come from IKEA.

The experience of building IKEA furniture has a lot in common with building a Lego set or Tamiya kit:

  • The quality of manufacture is exceptional. You almost never get a faulty component or a missing part. I can think of only two items that have caused me trouble in 15-odd years, an “Aspelund” wardrobe mirror and bed frame, both of which are still in use today after a few tweaks and three house moves.
  • The packaging is ingenious. It is much more than just a set of parts. Just as much thought goes into the packaging materials themselves, and even the design of the furniture itself to allow it to be flat-packed. As a single example, the “Kallax” drawers use a one-piece folding hardboard insert to create the structure for the drawer runners.
  • There is a unique design language. You can always tell a Lego set from brick-a-like alternatives, and you can always tell a Tamiya kit from the rest. IKEA’s designs are frankly weird at times, but somehow it emboldens you to try something different. More often than not, the weird design works.

By way of contrast, the Argos TV stand I bought was little more than a set of boards and some dowels.

It may seem strange to say this, but I would happily build IKEA furniture all day long!

The Sony Smartwatch 3 – a brief review and a couple of tips

At launch about 2 years ago, these were £250. I picked it up for £70 at Currys in their “Black Friday” sale.

smartwatch

I’m not sure whether that heavy discount is related to the popularity of Smartwatches in general (which it seems have passed their peak), or the popularity of this particular model. I was actually in the market for a GPS running watch – and this is half the price of any Garmin!

In no particular order, here are my thoughts:

  • It’s not really a looker – but it is discreet, and I think it is suitable for the office (more so than a running watch). It reminds me of the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • Google Fit can’t cope with me riding a scooter to work and adds loads of steps (or cycling) to my daily total because of it. I have no need for a fitness tracker but the info I get from it is nonsense.
  • Loading music onto the watch is more of a pain that you would expect. It’s well known that “pure” Android doesn’t like external SD cards. So if you have an external SD card with music on it in your phone, transferring music to your watch via Google Play Music doesn’t work. Don’t waste your time trying to trick Google by transferring music to your watch with the SD card removed as it will go wrong again as soon as you put the SD card back in. I chose to remove the SD card and just put a few favourite albums onto the phone’s internal storage. Android Wear is happy to sync these (although syncing over Bluetooth is slow – save it for overnight while the watch and phone are charging). I listen to Spotify or internet radio 95% of the time anyway.
  • Strava now tracks your activity using the watch alone. There are lots of complaints on “the internet” about Strava’s lack of support for GPS-enabled watches like the Sony – but these are all pretty old posts. Strava now supports watch-only tracking. Just tick the “Use Device GPS” option under the “Wear” section of Strava’s settings. It works well enough – certainly I have had no complaints about the data it creates. It is also a lot less hassle than using Ghostracer to track your run and then uploading to Strava separately. Strava’s average speed on the watch is not that accurate (it is rather unresponsive) – but neither is Ghostracer’s (which varies wildly).
  • I don’t like talking into the watch and it isn’t as good at understanding me as the phone.
  • Very few apps offer a rich experience – most just invite you to open a page on the phone. The hardware limits are pretty obvious.
  • The best feature is the notifications – this is the one feature I would not want to give up on a day-to-day basis. My phone is usually silent – and getting a vibration on my wrist when it rings means I have picked up a lot of calls and messages that I would otherwise miss.

A testament to Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen has left us. I have no reservations in considering him a genius who will never be replaced.

2016 has been marked by the passing of many genii (Bowie, Rogers Nelson), but that is simply a coincidence. What matters is that Cohen brought a unique voice to music and it will be missed.

My love of Cohen cannot match that of many. Fundamentally, it was restricted to a battered copy of “Songs From a Room” that cost me a quid or so twenty years ago. But there were times that the lyrics and, more often, sounds from that album spoke to me, and I thank Leonard for that.

I don’t think there is anything more that needs to be said. Rest In Peace, dear friend.

You and your bicycle

(From https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code/annex-1-you-and-your-bicycle)

Make sure that you feel confident of your ability to ride safely on the road. Be sure that

  • you choose the right size and type of cycle for comfort and safety
  • lights and reflectors are kept clean and in good working order
  • tyres are in good condition and inflated to the pressure shown on the tyre
  • gears are working correctly
  • the chain is properly adjusted and oiled
  • the saddle and handlebars are adjusted to the correct height.

It is recommended that you fit a bell to your cycle.

You MUST

  • ensure your brakes are efficient
  • at night, use lit front and rear lights and have a red rear reflector.

Laws PCUR regs 6 & 10 & RVLR reg 18

Cycle training can help both children and adults, especially those adults returning to cycling to develop the skills needed to cycle safely on today’s roads. A new national cycle training standard has been developed which the Government is promoting and making funding available for delivery in schools.

All cyclists should consider the benefits of undertaking cycle training. For information, contact your local authority.