Priest in the Church of England. Trustee SPCK. Father, husband, son. "Small acts of Good change the world."

Category: advanced riding

Adventure day at The Ace – Win a motorcycle care hamper

Ace Special BreakfastWhat could be more fun? A breakfast at The Ace along with a bunch of my  mates and every adventure biker of note this side of Mongolia – well those that are in the country in any case.

That’s what awaits me on Sunday at The Ace Cafe in North London as I attend the Overland & Adventure Travel Bike Day. The day kicks off at 9am and I’ll be there from around 6am helping Les set up the Traveldri Plus stand. I can’t wait to show off the XT on the stand and explain to everyone why I have a rubber mat on my seat.

I’ll also be announcing the winner of the 2012 most inspirational travel book awards (voting closes on Friday so go vote now). In true thelondonbiker style I also have some stuff to give away.

Motorcycle Direct – the bike insurers – have given me two hampers to give away. The first is a valentine’s week special – this is your get out of jail free card – if you’ve left the Mrs behind to get to the Ace and play with your mates – head home with this to calm the waters. The hamper has:

  • Charlemagne Rose Sparkling (5.5%) 75cl
  • Marshmellows for Fondue 175g
  • Guylian Belgian Chocalate Dip 150g
  • Maximacs Indulge Yourself Butterscotch CVlusters 90g
  • Traou Mad de Pont-Aven Savoury Mini Crepes with Mozzarella & Bacon 60g
  • Pink Champagne Candle in Tin

Adventure Travel Film Festival 2011There’s also a second hamper – I got the guys over at Motorcycle Direct to throw this one in as I thought it very unfair that only the ladies were being catered for. In the blokes hamper you’ll get:

It’s easy to win these hampers – I’ll have them with me on the day – all you need to do is find me and say at the top of your voice ‘These BMW jobs are crap!‘ See, easy. First person to find me and say these magic words after 9am gets both hampers there and then – can’t say fairer than that.

See you on Sunday!

And the winner was: Alex Richards from London! Congratulations Alex and I hope you other half enjoyed the bubbles and chocolate.

How to podcast using your mobile phone

Sound simple doesn’t it. Just find a way of leaving a message on something like skype, then get it to encode your audio, upload it to the server and generate the XML. 

However, the whole skype thing is a bit of a red herring – I’ve been trying to make this work on and off for a few months, and as soon as I realised Skype wasn’t the way to go, it took me two days. In this post I’m hoping to demonstrate how you can podcast straight to your blog and iTunes from anywhere in the world using your mobile phone. Just like this – http://journeytorussia.co.uk/category/podcast

There are a couple of services that I’ve found that can make this work – unfortunately whilst both of them offer a free service to get the best you’ll need to pay a little cash.

The first is called Evoka – http://www.evoca.com/ – it’s a simple service that is essentially a bit like YouTube for audio. When you create an account you get a home page evoca.com/username and helpfully an RSS feed. Unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be a way to edit the MP3 tags, or to pull the content and RSS easily to your own domain – there’s certainly no way to edit what gets posted in the RSS feed.

The second service, and the one I’ve finally decided to use (and pay for) is called PhoneBlogz – http://www.phoneblogz.com/ – it offers a simple way to edit your MP3 tags, you can even (using the wordpress plugin) totally customise the posts that hit your blog, as well as pretty much everything in-between.

What I like most about PhoneBlogz though is that you can pretty much build everything using the free service then only pay if you want to create more than one, two minute audio recording each day. There are various levels of service – I’ve gone for the four, 15 minute messages each day package – costing a princely sum of $12.99 per month, the great thing of course is that for Russia we only need to pay this one and then drop to the free package again.

How to set up PhoneBlogz

It can be a little confusing, there’s no guide on the site and hopefully this will help. Whilst PhoneBlogz supports DrupalWordPressSerendipityBlogger,LivejournalTypepad as well as FTP uploads, this guide concentrates on WordPress.

Before you start on the below steps go to PhoneBlogz and register for a free account.

1. Download the plugins

You’ll need both the PhoneBlogz  and the Audio-Player plugins.

2. Upload and install the plugins

Upload to your plugins directory – normally found at www.yoursite.com/wp-content/plugins

3. Set up the plugins in your wordpress admin backend.

Click ‘Plugins’ and activate both of them.

Note… you’ll note find the PhoneBlogz plugin options in the normal ‘setting’s section – it lives in the ‘plugins’ tab after you’ve activated it.

  • PhoneBlogz settings – insert your access code and your WEBSITE password (not your account pin).
  • Tick the ‘use Audio-Player’ box if you want the flash player to appear in your posts.
  • Edit the posting text – this is the text that appears on your site every-time you send a recording.

I left the Audio-Player settings alone.

4. Edit the settings for posting on the PhoneBlogz configuration pages.

5. Set the category you want the audio to be posted to.

You’re supposed to be able to set this in the plugin – however it doesn’t work. There’s an easy way around this.

  • Click on ‘settings’ in your wordpress backend
  • Click on ‘writing’
  • Scroll down to ‘Post via email’
  • Set the Default Mail Category to your choice.

I’ve discovered that the plugin uses this setting – if all works well you’ll have all your audio recordings posted in this category

For example

http://www.journeytorussia.co.uk/category/podcast/

this then of course provides you with an RSS feed of all your audio recordings

http://www.journeytorussia.co.uk/category/podcast/feed

You can find out how to work out your RSS settings / feeds over at WordPress Codex.
That’s pretty much it. All I have to do now is create a new wordpress template page that will allow me to create a simple page at /podcast and includes all the posts in the category ‘Podcast’ beneath the text that currently appears there. Not being the biggest PHP head, I’m struggling with this bit at the moment – any helpful tips most appreciated!

Advanced Riding

Just been on my first observed run for quite a while… a really nice guy called Phil Roethenbaugh took me out, and after a quick chat in the Tescos car park we hit the road.

I’ve not ridden ‘advanced style’ for over three months. I was amazed how much of it has actually integrated itself into my everyday riding. I didn’t have to try hard today, it all came quite naturally. My town riding still needs work – I move around far too much – if I see someone on the pavement looking around, or if I run past a gate or turn I can’t see properly I’m putting as much space between me and them as possible. But I think that’s what comes of riding through London everyday.

You learn to give yourself as much space as possible, as much room as you can manage to ensure that you can get out of any issues that may arise. Sometimes that means going very very slowly, and sometimes that means giving yourself a lot of space.

Then again sometimes that means thinking hard about the new London Mayor – is it time to see Ken go? Perhaps – take a look here