Saturday, January 30, 2010

Gadgets - huh! Cold days and clear skies

It had to happen, no sooner had I mentioned that my Garmin EDGE 605 GPS was great and it has started playing up. The first problem is one I have gotten used to - it starts reporting memory full errors, even when there is a fair amount of memory free. I then generally delete the history of rides. As these are stored (and backed up) on my computer it is no big deal. Unfortunately my experience is that it only buys a short amount of time before reporting memory full errors again. At this point the work around is to do a power-on reset and re-enter various settings (metric, auto stop start, record every second...) and it is fine again. This problem has been around for quite a few revisions of the OS (Operating System) and is still there on version 3.1 - the current one. I've given up hoping that they will fix it. I don't think I am the only one to rack up around 15 hours per week of cycling (54,000 data points) and so cause the thing to fall over. I ought to report it - but my experience of reporting problems is patchy and life is to short when there is a work-around.

The second problem is a new one. I normally charge the EDGE by leaving it connected to my computer after being plugged in to download data. Well one morning it reported that the battery level was low after a full nights charge. My first thought was maybe I have a problem with the USB port on my computer and tried it with the mains charger. It still refused to charge. At this point I was starting to get annoyed, the unit is around 16 months old - not much beyond its warranty period. Surely electronics kit like this should be good for a longer period.

The next step was to re-cycle the battery - it might possibly be the electronics that monitors the state of the battery that had gotten into the wrong state. So I left it on and disconnected from a charger - it lasted around 15 hours before turning off- hum not bad for a battery with no charge. I then connected it to my mains charger for 5 hours and it showed it was charging, but only ended up with a minuscule amount of charge. I then took it out in the car and let it run for an hour on and recording - it was fine. Hum it pints to a problem with the sensing of the charge level rather than the actual charge. I let it charge again and tried it out on a cycle ride.

It managed to record 3 hours of data - although it did report a low battery level after 30 minutes. I have since downloaded the data and it is fine. So I now wonder if it is a problem with a connection to the battery since it seems to take charge and will run the unit for some time - yet all the while report little battery charge. At this point I am going to try it out for a bit longer - it might be related to the latest version of the OS - 3.1 which I loaded at the end of last year - sometime in the first week of December. If it continues to fail than I might try a re-cycle of the battery again and after that the option has to be surgery.

I have been checking various websites and I will take it apart and check for loose wires and perhaps replace the battery - new ones seem to be available for around £10 - much less than the cost of a replacement Edge 605.

I have also bought a book on HTML and CSS - the wonders of Amazon and have been writing my own HTML and checking out the results. I am hoping that this will allow me to add richer content to this Blog - but so far it looks pretty straightforward. Although not a programmer I have used text markup languages - the first time around 1980, it was a program called ECCE. Edinburgh Context Compatible Editor - I think. They have not changed a whole lot in the intervening 30 years - the content has gotten richer though and the ways in which you call it a bit more sophisticated.

When I woke this morning my first though was - humm the mornings are getting brighter - my wife then, after peeping out of the curtains, told me it had snowed overnight. Although it was not a lot of snow, the roads around where I live had not been gritted and despite cars driving over them they were still white. The weather has turned quite cold and so the snow was not really melting. Fortunately it was also sunny today an despite the cold weather rather nice. We go a reminder of the dangers when we stopped at a set of traffic lights - just before we arrived a lorry had skidded on the back ice and knocked over one of the lights.

Although the roads were icy and there were reports of a lot of small accidents when I went out this afternoon the roads were ok for cycling along - with a little care. The skies were interesting with sun and cloud and some rich red colours as the sun set.

When they build the Connect 2 bridge over Swaffham Bulbeck Lode as part of the plan to develop my pedestrian//cycle/horse access to the fens the left behind some pools = which will over time develop into a wildlife habitat. Here is one of those pools under a dark brooding cloudy sky - mind you the sun shining in under the clouds was almost warm. You can see some of the sprinkling of snow we had on the edges of the pool.


Other parts of the sky were blue though with puffy clouds. This is a farm-track I sometimes cycle along - although not today - the puddles were frozen and the path itself still had snow on.


The fields had a dusting of snow, it was left in the ruts. I like this picture - a pity that there is the green splodge on the right - caused by some internal reflections in the lens.


A close-up of the field without the green splodge.


I have cycled past these buildings, near the Wicken Fen village many times and it was only when I was checking out a route by viewing it in Google earth that I saw a link to the building. It turns out to be a Farm, which offers Bed and Breakfast and is based around an Abbey founded around 1200 AD. A previous owner was the fourth son of Oliver Cromwell There is more detail on the Spinney Abbey website.


The other side of Wicken Fen village are some electricity pylons marching down towards Burwell. I tried to show this as if the pylons were on the march down the footpath. You can see how the sky was already taking on an interesting colour - although the sun had not yet set.


The Lode at Wicken Fen - further up the lode had frozen.


A bridge over Burwell Lode - which features a lot in my pictures. Here the sun was nicely positioned to appear under the bridge.


The same aspect, but with more zoom. The sky was a nice mix of blue gradually changing into orange.


By the time I had reached Swaffham Bulbeck Lode the sky was turning pink.


It was dark before I got home and although it was not windy my toes felt frozen - it was great to soak in a hot bath.

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