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James Ots
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James Ots

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I looked at the weather forecast, and decided it was time to replace the Schwalbe Winter tyres on my Tricross with its Gatorskins. Which is a much easier job than trying to fit the Winters, although still not a pleasant task. I have to say, I'm glad I've never had a puncture in the Winters. If I did, I'd probably just get a taxi home rather than sit at the side of the road for three quarters of an hour struggling with them! To fit the Gatorskins I didn't even need levers. I'm quite looking forward to riding the Tricross again — riding with studded tyres isn't much fun.

Now I just have to decide when to ride the Tricross and when to ride the Cube Agree. I think it'll probably depend on how much stuff I have to carry. When I'm going swimming before work I'll take the Tricross, as I can put my swimming stuff and work clothes in the panniers, but on other days I can take my clothes in a small backpack, so I can ride the Cube.
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the studded tyres toughen up your legs, though - think of it as "off-season training" :-)
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I went for my first ride on my new bike this afternoon. It's a Cube Agree and it weights 7.9 kg, which is about 4–5 kg lighter than my other bike, the Specialized Tricross. It felt incredibly light when riding it, almost as if there was no bike there at all. The riding position is a bit lower and stretched out than the Tricross, which will take a bit of getting used to, but it wasn't uncomfortable. 

I fitted mudguards this morning. I know some people think it's morally wrong to put mudguards on a carbon road bike, but I think it's better than getting a skunk stripe up your back. The Crud Roadracers work really well, although it did take a bit of fiddling to stop them rubbing, as there's so little tyre clearance.
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Looks good! I'm gonna go for a roll today too! Try to get a ride in in February!
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I went out and picked up my new bike this evening. I probably won't get to ride it to work tomorrow though, as it's likely to be frosty, so my other bike with the studded tyres will be more appropriate. Hopefully I'll be able to get out on it at the weekend.
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James Ots

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For the last few days I've been working from home so I can take the kids to school and nursery while my wife recovers from a bad cold. So I haven't been doing any commuting, and the children's school and nursery are both within walking distance, so I've been feeling a little lethargic.

Fortunately, my wife got a new bike recently and as she's pregnant and won't be going out on the roads for a few months, we also got a turbo (which'll also be handy for triathlon training), so I was able to do half an hour on that last night. It's a little small, but with the saddle raised it's not too bad when you're not really cycling.
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Better to peddle nowhere than not at all I guess. :D
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The company I work for is looking for a Java developer to join our team. It's based in Coventry (in the UK), and I think it's a pretty good place to work. The job description is below. Email me if you're interested. It says 3 years' commercial experience, but if you're awesome then I think we'd take less.


A Java Developer is required to join a venture-backed software company based in Coventry, UK. They produce web-based business execution software used by some of the world's largest companies to achieve their goals. They are currently recruiting for a Senior Java Developer or a strong Java Developer to join their team.

They are looking for smart, dynamic and independent-thinking individuals with at least 3 years commercial software development experience.

You will: 

- Be part of a skilled Scrum team which takes a dedicated agile and test-driven approach to software development. 
- Contribute key enhancements to their flagship product, used by thousands of end-users worldwide. 
- Use your experience of enterprise web application technologies, such as Spring, Hibernate and advanced JavaScript techniques. 
- Work in a friendly, informal and intellectually stimulating environment. 
- Work with talented and experienced software developers. 
- Mentor other members of the team. 
- Make a strong contribution to the architecture of their product. 
- Be based in their modern Coventry office, equipped with excellent facilities.

Other essential skills: 

- Java EE 
- JavaScript - HTML/CSS
- Object Oriented design principles 
- Relational databases and SQL 
- Web containers such as Tomcat 
- Spring framework and Hibernate ORM 
- Problem solving - Teamwork - Communication

Desirable skills: 

- Experience in architecting distributed enterprise web applications. 
- Modern web technologies, such as NoSQL and message-driven architecture.
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James Ots

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I just got my miniSpartan6+ FPGA board to read stuff I type on my PC and echo it back to me. I've decided to create a repo on GitHub to store these projects in so I can keep track of what I'm learning, and so other people can learn from my mistakes too, perhaps.
learnfpga - Learning to use my miniSpartan6+
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James Ots

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An alternative view of the Z80 Homebrew Computer.
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Have him in circles
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Here's my new bike after its first short outing. I fitted mudguards this morning (no point having a nice looking bike and a skunk stripe up my back) and went out for a quick 16 km test ride. It's very nice! Almost feels like there's no bike there, it's that much lighter and nimbler than my Tricross. Would have been even nicer if it had been dry and sunny!

#teamfenders  
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Olivier Magere's profile photoBishop Auckland Biking's profile photoPhilip Mc Adam's profile photoJames Ots's profile photo
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My commute is about 3 km, so I wipe the Tricross down with a rag and lube the chain every few weeks (and de-crud the cassette and jockey wheels), and that keeps it pretty much looking and working like new. I don't think I've actually washed it yet. The Cube might need more attention, with that white paint, but it seemed to clean up nicely yesterday without a wash.

I'll wear my cycling shirts up to three times, depending on the ride length. My winter jacket hasn't been washed yet, except by the rain.

The mudguards are Crud Roadracer mk2s. They were a bit fiddly to fit and to stop them rubbing, but they're lightweigt and are the only full mudguards you can actually fit on a bike which has that little clearance as far as I know. Plus they have extra protection around the chainrings, which is nice.
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The good thing about having two bikes is that I can pick and choose which one to ride to work each day. The bad thing about it is that today is the first day I've had two bikes to choose from, and the weather was cold and frosty, so I had to ride my old (but still very nice) Specialized Tricross with its (very heavy, but not slippy on ice) studded tyres, instead my new (lightweight, and as yet unridden) Cube Agree.

(Actually, I have three bikes, but I haven't found a good use for my old (too small, slightly rusted, with dodgy shifters) ridged framed Muddy Fox mountain bike yet.)
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Oh the miles I could eat up quick on that Cube...
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The next step on the road to an FPGA drum brain. I built a midi interface today, which works electrically, but I haven't managed to write correct VHDL for it yet. #miniSpartan6+
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Just got the VHDL working too. I realised I was sending data at 62.5 KHz instead of 31.25.
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James Ots

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I got the pin headers soldered onto my miniSpartan6+ this evening. I practised on some stripboard first, and didn't do too bad a job. It's not the neatest soldering in the world, but I'm better than I was a few months ago. (It'd be much neater if you could still use leaded solder, but I'll get used to this RoHS stuff).
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Hmm, just read a bunch of articles about lead-free solder, and I think I'm switching back to leaded.
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My miniSpartan6+ FPGA board finally arrived today. I originally backed the Kickstarter project for it back in July last year, and they've finally got round to making and shipping them. I actually got a shipping email back at the start of January, but I think it's been stuck in customs until today.

The board is tiny — a couple of millimetres narrower and nearly a centimetre shorter than a credit card. For comparison, I've taken a picture of it next to a Z80 CPU.

It wasn't too difficult to get working. I already had Xilinx ISE installed on my computer, so I just had to install xc3sprog as well and I was good to go. I found a really basic miniSpartan6+ project on the internet (http://hamsterworks.co.nz/mediawiki/index.php/MiniSpartan6%2B_bringup) and got it running on my board. I took a while finding out how to get ISE to work (I had to double-click the 'Generate Programming File' link in the Processes window to build the .bit file), and I had to edit a udev rules file to give it permission to access the FPGA board, but it works.

I now have to actually work out how to programme in VHDL properly so I can make a drum machine or an Amstrad PCW.

In case you need the details, the udev file I edited was /etc/udev/rules.d/52-ftdi.rules, and it needs this line in it:
SUBSYSTEM=="usb", ATTRS{idVendor}=="0403", ATTR{idProduct}=="6010", MODE="0666"
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Have him in circles
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Husband, Father, Guitarist, Android Developer, Photographer, Runner, Cyclist, Son, Brother, Son-in-Law, Brother-in-Law, Cousin
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