Bike for Sale – Nottingham Cruiser

Bike for sale

I’m selling the first bike that introduced me to the best way to get around London.

In brief

  • £180 o.n.o. for the bike including lights and locks
  • Raleigh Panache (1980s mixte frame with dual down tube)
  • Frame (seat tube) is 21″ (53 cm), but as it’s a mixte frame, you don’t really need to worry about the standover height. I’m 5’4″ (162cm) and this bike is a little bit too big for me. But certainly test ride it first.
  • Recently fully serviced at London Bike Kitchen by me
  • For collection from Hackney
  • Contact me at becky@theleadingzero.com with any questions, viewing requests, or offers
  • New/replaced items in the two years I’ve owned it
    • Rear wheel
    • Front and rear tyres
    • Chain
    • Headset
    • Handlebars and grips
    • Brake levers
    • Brake cabling and housing
    • Gear cabling and housing
    • Saddle

Bike’s Known History

I bought this bike (then named The Pink Lady) from Re-cycling in Elephant & Castle in the summer of 2011.  I strongly discourage you from ever going to that shop.  I certainly paid too much for the bike which they claim they fix up before selling on.  They definitely didn’t do that with this bike and their customer service was just abhorrent.  At that point I knew nothing about bike maintenance and didn’t know that it was in pretty poor shape.  I ended up taking it to Bike Works for servicing about 6 weeks after I bought it.  I got a puncture about 8 months after that and had the rear wheel replaced at Cycle Surgery when they fixed the puncture (I couldn’t even change a tyre at that point in my cycling maintenance knowledge…).

The following summer I bought another bike that was a bit zippier (Phil) and The Pink Lady went into storage at my flat.  I’ve since learned a ton about bicycle maintenance, thanks to the London Bike Kitchen.  I’m working on building a new bike (just got a Surly Cross Check frameset for a steal!) and can’t justify keeping The Pink Lady. I took the BYOB (Build Your Own Bike) course at the Bike Kitchen this past June.  I dismantled the bike, cleaned and replaced components as necessary, and then put her back together.  I swapped out the drop bars with their horrible brake levers for sit up and beg bars.  The new saddle was sitting around the Bike Kitchen forever and looks like it belongs on a cruiser, which inspired the new look for the bike.  I think it’s now the lovechild of a 1980s Raleigh bike and a coastal cruiser, so The Pink Lady has been rechristened The Nottingham Cruiser. (Raleigh was founded in Nottingham.)

Frameset on stand

The bike during the BYOB course at the London Bike Kitchen.

It comes with front and rear fenders and a rear rack.  I think this bike would work well for commuting and general errands around London.  That’s what I originally bought her for and she did me proud.  I think she’s now in the best condition she’s been in for a decade.  I’m selling her for £180 o.n.o. and including the lights and locks I originally bought for her.

Included lights and locks

Locks and lights included with the bike.

The calculus of cleggeron

Cameron gave a speech recently in the hipster headquarters of the Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch.  There must be some irony in this.  The Truman Brewery was an East London brewery which was started in the 1660s and brewed on site until it went out of business in 1988 leaving behind massive empty buildings in pre-gentrified Shoreditch. The buildings were transformed into a mixture of artists’ studios and dotcom offices and are now at the heart of the Brick Lane scene.  A scene which now hosts a large portion of the creative industries of London.

The irony is that this regeneration of one of the poorest neighborhoods in London was made possible through the arts, an area that cleggeron has massively cut in their budget.  (We can argue another day whether gentrification actually benefits any of the original residents.)  The point is more that Cameron chose to give a speech about brining economic growth to East London from a building which symbolises the power and potential of such growth, but did so through a revenue stream that the current government sees no merit in.

However, I found the content of Cameron’s speech far more irritating than its venue.  It spoke of East London (in this case meaning roughly Old Street Station to the Olympic site) becoming a new Silicon Valley.  I very much support this.  If you take a stroll around the Shoreditch triangle, through the Old Street circle and up Kingsland Road or further east down Bethnal Green Road you will pass a great number of high-tech and creative industries that call East London home.  Extending  this area towards the Olympic site (and consequently straight through Queen Mary, University of London where I work) only makes sense.  The problem I have is with the details of visas and foreign talent.

To get what is called a Tier 1 (General) visa (a non-sponsored visa which allows you to work fulltime), you need to prove you can speak English, are educated to some degree, and have some amount of income.  You can read all about it here. (There are other Tier 1 visas such as the post-study work visa.)

In short: you need 100 points if you are in the UK not on a Tier 1 (General) or are outside the UK.  You get awarded points the following ways:

  • 20 points if you are under 30 years old (nothing if over 40)
  • 45 points for a PhD (35 if Master’s is highest degree or 30 if Bachelor’s)
  • 10 points for English language skills
  • 10 points for a minimum amount of  savings
  • 5 points if you studied for a least a year at a UK higher education institution and earned a degree

Additionally there are caps on the number of these visas they will give out.

For income requirements, you need to have a p.a. income of £30,000-£34,999, or the equivalent in another currency as determined by the UK Border Agency. This assumes you have a PhD and are under 30 plus other things. There are proposals to limit this even further though and limit the minimum income to £45,000. This would be detrimental for university researchers, particularly the masses of postdocs and technical staff with salaries far below the professors and lecturers. See as an example this series of job adverts, most of which require a PhD. The salary range for the jobs is £28,983 – 35,646 p.a. plus London Allowance of £2,795 p.a. If a limit of £45,000 is introduced, it would be more difficult for university researchers to move into entrepreneurial roles since their previous incomes will not earn them a non-sponsored visa.

This all hits very close to home as I am an American who just finished a PhD at Queen Mary, University of London. My research area is exactly the kind of thing this government would like to have help grow the British economy (I do digital music signal processing, computer science and electronic engineering). I am now working a series of short research contracts and will be getting a visa designed for people in my position – a Tier 1 post-study work visa. This visa is good for 2 years and after that I need to apply for another visa. However if I stay within university research, I have very little hope of qualifying for a full Tier 1 (General) visa if the requirements keep increasing the needed previous earnings.

This cannot truly be the intent of the British government. How can excluding non-EU nationals with the talent and education to grow their new Silicon Valley be justified by nothing more than a lack of a qualifying salary from a British educational institution?  At least there are loopholes to make sure foreign footballers still get visas without a problem, otherwise that would just be embarrassing.

A minor irritation

Apple’s HCI Guidelines have long been a document to refer to when designing the GUI for a new piece of software. I like their drag-and-drop tools for creating Cocoa applications. The little helper lines really can help create a more pleasant-looking piece of software.

So why does Apple violate its own rules with iTunes? I don’t know why this irritates me so much, but it irks me every time I open iTunes. This is an excerpt from their guidelines of what a generic window should look like:

And this is what the iTunes window looks like:

Notice the difference in the max/min/close buttons?  Why would you make this change? (And I don’t know when this change was made, I only noticed it in iTunes 10, perhaps it’s been like this forever.)

When you train the users of your OS to expect certain functionality to be consistently placed within an application – and then even publish why and how that should occur – why break your own rules? I just don’t see any clear benefit (and “cleaner lines” at the sacrifice of usability is not a benefit).

My open source morning

I am currently at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. The conference is a gathering of about 2100 technical women (and some men) with a mixture of technical content and soft skill/career-building workshops. While there are about 900 students in attendance, there are also numerous heads of academic and industrial research labs.

Before getting into the open source track sessions I attended, I have to address the keynote by Duy-Loan Le. It was completely amazing and only wish it was longer. It comparable to a talk I heard from Maya Angelou in its eloquence and inspiration.

After the absolutely amazing keynote, I attended two panels in the open source software track. The first one addressed was an introduction to open source development the surrounding community. The moderator was Natalia Vinnik, Yahoo! Inc. and the panelists were Sara Ford from Microsoft/CodePlex,Olga Natkovich from Yahoo! Inc./Apache/Hadoop and Stormy Peters, Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation. The main points touched on were:

  • There was a very brief declaration that “free” and “open source” are largely interchangeable terms and it’s best to observe community practice. This elicited a lot of muttering and disagreeing from the back of the room, but there wasn’t a lengthy discussion.
  • Education support and resources for teachers are available. I didn’t catch the urls, but GNOME has some resources.
  • There are many corporations involved with foss development and support such activities. This includes Microsoft, Yahoo!, and Google. It is a strong resume builder.
  • A huge draw to foss development that people like collaborating and the projects produce high-quality code.
  • The main skill needed is English. There are lots of non-coding opportunities such as bug reporting, logo design, usability improvements, etc.

The second panel addressed how foss can be a career path. The moderator was Cat Allman, Program Manager at Google, and the panelists were: Jenny Han Donnelly, Senior Engineer, Yahoo! Inc.; Margo Seltzer, Associate Professor of Computer Science, Harvard University; and Sarah Sharp, Linux Kernel Hacker, Intel.

  • **See code.google.com/opensource tomorrow for a big announcement**
  • Just today there were 593 job postings with the keyword open source on monster.com.
  • Community development teaches you communication skills, particularly when interacting with people with less than polished social skills.
  • Jenny comes from front-end development, so is used to view-source, open source was a natural progression (YUI)
  • Lurking is encouraged, excellent learning tool
  • Margo’s research group builds a lot of system software, likes people with foss experience.
  • Women are too hard on ourselves, need to be ok with making mistakes and with those mistakes being public.
  • Women often expect an invite, foss doesn’t invite but expects volunteers; women just need to be aware of this
  • Mistakes can be great in foss because more people are there to identify and help correct them.
  • Any environment where they treat you like an adult and allow you to be flexible will create better work.
  • READ LICENSES
  • Understand the difference between free speech and free beer.
  • Open is not a defined business model but can be used with different models.

Sleepycat was offered an example of how a career can be built off foss. It was profitable from day 1, never took outside investment and only product was open (Berkley DB). When it started getting popular and more features were requested and payment was offered.

Q & A brought a question from some Raytheon employees about whether foss can be secure or just be riddled with malicious content. The response was “security through obscurity is no security at all.” Emphasizing that proprietary software does not mean security. This didn’t seem to be completely accepted by the Raytheon employees.

What I really wished I had asked during the sessions is how academic research can be best be moved into foss development. I think of this as I have thousands of lines of Python and Java sitting on my machine from my PhD work. My research group has a new project starting to try and address this, Sound Software. It’ll be interesting to see where it leads.

Ada Lovelace Day

It’s Ada Lovelace Day , a day of blogging about women in science and technology. I’m afraid this is not a very thorough post, things like a PhD thesis and various papers are occupying my time, but I still wanted to point out a female influence on my work.

In my fantasy spatial audio conference/dinner party I would like to strike up a conversation with Elizabeth Wenzel. (My fantasy conference/dinner party would also include Barbara Shinn-Cunningham and Sally Jo Cunningham.)

There are not a lot of women that lead major research groups in anything related to audio; there certainly aren’t many women in spatial audio research. Elizabeth Wenzel first stood out to me in her publications; I like her writing style. She then stood out even more so when I learned she is the director of a research lab at NASA-Ames. I’ve read and referred to her work for a couple years now, but I don’t know much about her beyond her NASA personnel pages here and here.

She and her research lab have done significant work in spatial auditory display, especially display using binaural audio. I appreciate the clear research questions that are asked and then answered. I think they are good examples of rigorous basic scientific research. Her lab is the primary (if not only) US government funded organization I would be interested in working with.