Saturday, June 27, 2020

CityQ Car-eBike

electrek reports: [edited]

[There is] a significant downside to bikes, which is that riders aren’t protected from the weather. That’s a problem that CityQ is hoping to solve with the CityQ Car-eBike.

The CityQ Car-eBike features doors and a cargo space for carrying luggage, groceries, and other necessities. The doors and windows can be set up for either fully enclosed or semi-enclosed riding. The micro EV has seating for either two adults or one adult and two children.

The CityQ Car-eBike’s pedals aren’t connected to any gears or chains. There’s no direct drive — only software to enable a drive-by-wire system that powers the vehicle’s 250W electric motor up to its Euro-spec top speed of 25 km/h (15.5 mph).

The bike is designed to fit into the EU’s cargo and four-wheeled e-bike laws, meaning it could theoretically share the bike lane, at least legally speaking.

The CityQ Car-eBike measures 87 cm (34 inches) wide, which isn’t that much wider than a mountain bike. Though at 70 kg, it weighs more than even the heaviest of electric mountain bikes.

With a pair of batteries, the Car-eBike can travel around 70-100 km (43-62 miles) per charge.

After three years of development, the CityQ Car-eBike is now available for pre-order. The purchase price is expected to be north of €6,000.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

VanMoof S3 Lecky Bicycle

The Verge reports: [edited]

Electric bikes, like cars, come in tiers of quality and prestige. Dependable commuter bikes start at around €1,000. At $1,500, they start to look nice, with batteries and motors integrated into the overall aesthetic. Above €2,000 you start seeing sleek designs, advanced electronics, and a preponderance of high-end or original components. On that scale, VanMoof’s premium prices have made it the Tesla of e-bikes.

VanMoof is now taking preorders for its newest pedal-assisted electric bikes: the S3 and X3. They’re follow-ups to the full-sized S2 and compact X2 theft-defying e-bikes released in 2018 and two of the highest-rated e-bikes we’ve ever tested.

Despite a similar appearance, VanMoof says the S3 and X3 are “an upgrade to the S2 and X2 in every way,” yet they cost €400 to €1,400 less than VanMoof’s previous generations of electrics. Priced at €1,998, VanMoof is aggressively setting a new entry point for premium e-bikes that can cost well over €3,000.

Good Stuff
Smooth automatic shifting
Near-silent operation
Improved value for money
Built-in anti-theft with extended recovery service

Bad Stuff
Battery can’t be removed for charging
Some features can feel gimmicky
Kick Lock finicky to engage
More complexity, more problems?

The S3 is designed for riders ranging in size from 170 to 210 cm (5 feet, 7 inches to 6 feet, 11 inches), while the compact X3 fits riders from 155 to 200 cm (5 feet, 1 inch to 6 feet, 7 inches). Both are available in “light” (white with a bluish tint) or “dark” (dark gray) models.

The S3 and X3 feature a number of improvements:

— New four-speed electronic gear shifter
— More powerful and immediate Turbo Boost
— Smaller, nearly silent 250W/500W front-hub motor
— Front and rear hydraulic disc brake

The S3 is the most sophisticated ride I’ve ever experienced on an e-bike. Shifting is incredibly smooth the vast majority of the time, without requiring a pause between downstrokes. Occasionally, maybe one of out every 50 shifts, I felt my feet chase the new gear for about a third of a revolution, or I heard a mechanical 'clink' as the gears advanced. Otherwise, it was silent and glorious, allowing me to pedal along with constant pressure as the gears shifted beneath me, always returning to first when I stopped.

The bike’s smaller, more refined front-hub motor, like the gears, is quiet. I had to strain to hear it above the wind, making it one of the quietest motors around. And the bike is so balanced that I often found myself sitting upright, hands off the grips, riding with 'no hands' on long, lonely stretches of asphalt during my range test.

Every e-bike should have VanMoof’s Turbo Boost feature. The button, accessible from the right grip, is now even more powerful and torquey, giving a near-instantaneous boost without feeling jerky. Push it when you want to make a fast start, climb a hill, or overtake someone quickly.

Friday, April 10, 2020

When Christ Conquered Caesar

Unherd has published an excellent piece by Tom Holland on the radical message of Easter. If you have time, read the whole article, but excerpts follow...

The women who came to tend the tomb in the garden had no doubt that their Lord was dead. Rejected as he had been by his own people, legally condemned as an enemy of Rome, brought to a squalid and ignominious end, his defeat had seemed total. What victory could there possibly be in the wake of such a death?

Yet then something miraculous happened. Spreading from east to west across the Mediterranean, travelling along the great network of roads and shipping lanes that constituted the arteries of the Roman Empire, news began to spread that this man whose mortal remains supposedly lay entombed in the grave had been seen alive.

‘Christians’, these deviants were called, after their founder, ‘Christus’, a criminal who had been crucified in Judaea some decades before, under a previous Caesar. Nero, ever fond of a spectacle, had some of the condemned, dressed in animal skin and torn to pieces by dogs. Others, lashed to crosses, had been smeared in pitch and used as torches to illumine the night. Nero, riding in his chariot, had mingled with the gawping crowds. Suetonius would include his persecution of the Christians in the list — a very short one — of the positives of his reign.

[Nero's followers believed he would rise from the dead, and yet] despite the various imposters who appeared, his fate was to be commemorated, not as a saviour, but as a monster.

Among those put to death was a man who in time would come to be viewed [by some] as the very keeper of the doors of heaven. In 1601, in a church that had originally been built on the site of the tomb where Nero’s two nurses and his first great love had buried him, a painting was installed that paid homage, not to the notorious Caesar, but to the outcast origins of the city’s Christian order.

Peter, the story went, had demanded to be crucified upside down... Caravaggio, choosing as his theme the very moment when the heavy cross was levered upwards, portrayed the first pope as he had authentically been — as a peasant. No ancient artist would have thought to honour a Caesar by representing him as Caravaggio portrayed Peter: tortured, humiliated, stripped almost bare. And yet, in the city of Nero, it was a man broken to such a fate who was honoured as the keeper of 'the keys of the kingdom of heaven'.

That a man who had himself been crucified might be hailed as a god could not help but be seen by people everywhere across the Roman world as scandalous, obscene, grotesque. Nero, charging the Christians with arson and hatred of humanity, seems not to have undertaken any detailed interrogation of their beliefs — but doubtless, had he done so, he would have been revolted and bewildered.

Radically though Nero had sought to demonstrate to the world that the divine might be interfused with the human, the Christians he had tortured to death believed in something infinitely more radical. There was but the one God, and His Son, by becoming mortal and dying the death of a slave, had redeemed all of humanity. Not as an emperor but as a victim. The message was novel beyond the wildest dreams even of a Nero; and was destined to endure long after all his works, and the works of the Caesars, had crumbled into dust.

This Sunday, when billons of people around the globe celebrate the triumph over death of a man laid in a tomb in a garden, the triumph they celebrate will not be that of an emperor. “For God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” (1 Corinthians 1:27)

Friday, March 20, 2020

Free Font - Cheddar Gothic Stencil

Font Squirrel reports: [edited]

Cheddar Gothic is a hand drawn, 8 style family, including Sans, Serif, Slab, and Stencil (FREE) styles — each with Italics (except the free version of Stencil) and includes 92 matching catchwords and icons.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

The Slow Death of French Cheese has published an excellent article on how modern industry, marketing and politics are 'beigeing' France's massive range of cheese.

A precis follows:

In his small fromagerie at Saint Point Lac in the Jura, Fabrice Michelin produces hand-made, raw-milk Mont d’Or cheeses. He is the last person in France to do so.

“I get up at 5am. I collect the milk from the farms in the village. I warm the milk,” Mr Michelin told me. “I scoop it into cylinders. I pay attention to the varying consistency and taste of the curd. It alters subtly with the seasons, depending on the qualities of the grass. I mould the cheeses by hand. Every cheese is a little different.”

“That’s what gets me into trouble,” M. Michelin said. “Brussels and Paris say that the cheeses must all be the same. There seem to be new rules every month. How can I carry on if all my cheeses have to be identical?”

The infinite variety of French cheeses — one of the finest achievements of French culture — is gradually being eroded. Only one in ten of the cheeses now consumed in France is made with raw-milk.

Search where you like in the finest cheese shops in France, you will no longer find a Bleu de Termignon or a Galette des Monts-d’Or. They are among 50 species of French cheese that have vanished, like rare flowers or butterflies, in the last 40 years. Other varieties, like Vacherin d’Abondance and M. Michelin’s hand-made Mont d’Or have been reduced to a single producer.

Many of the best-known French cheeses — Brie or Pont L’Evêque or Camembert are overwhelmingly made in large factories with pasteurised or sterilised milk.

The traditional French soft, runny cheese is made with untreated milk, maintained at the temperature at which it leaves the cow’s udder (37C). There is no attempt made to kill off all bacteria, since that is what makes the cheese, including the chalky white flore — a form of fungus — which appears naturally on the rind.

There will be listeria germs in the cheese at some stage — since listeria is everywhere — but they will be fought and defeated by other naturally occurring bacteria. If this were not so, soft cheese would have been poisoning people for centuries.

Campaigning by Mme Richez-Lerouge and others has slowed the march of industrial cheese with traditional French names in the last decade. In some years, the market share for lait cru cheeses has edged up — only to edge down again. The avalanche of regulation continues.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Citroën Ami

Aol reports: [edited]

This 2-seater electric vehicle can be leased for as little as £17 per month (with a £2,300 deposit). It can also be rented for 23p per minute or purchased outright for £5,140.

Its battery has a range of 43 miles, and its top speed is 28mph. Citroën sees it as 'a real alternative to scooters, bicycles, mopeds, or even public transport'.

It hasn't been confirmed for the UK market, but Citroen hopes it will appeal to a new generation of car buyers in Europe.

- - - - -

CNN reports: [edited]

The Ami can be driven by people as young as 14 in France, or 16 in many other European countries, without a license.

It is built using as few unique parts as possible. For instance, the body parts used for the front end are identical to those used for the back. The right door is identical to the the left door. That means the driver's side door hinge is at the front while the passenger side door hinge is at the back.

There's a minimal gauge cluster. An app in the driver's smart phone, placed in a holder high in the center of the dashboard acts like the central display screen in other cars showing things like driving range and navigation. There's also a cupholder behind the steering wheel.

It can be fully charged in three hours using a household electrical outlet.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Smithsonian Open Access

Smithsonian reports: [edited]

Welcome to Smithsonian Open Access, where you can download, share, and reuse millions of the Smithsonian’s images without asking. With new platforms and tools, you have easier access to nearly 3 million 2D and 3D digital items from our collections — with many more to come. This includes images and data from across the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives, and the National Zoo.

Monday, February 17, 2020

TaoTronics SoundLiberty 53 Earbuds

My current favourite earbuds, the Pamu Slides, suffered a pairing failure recently. While waiting for a replacement, I came across these budget earbuds on Amazon, and decided to give them a try. At the time they were selling for £25, they have since risen to £33, although you can get 'Amazon Returns' for less.

They are Bluetooth 5, rated IPX7 waterproof, and come with a compact charging case and the usual complement of cables and operating instructions.

Everything feels cheaper than the Pamu Slides, the earbuds are bulkier, and all the plastics are glossy black rather than matt.

However, they connected fine and stayed connected. The sound quality is perfectly acceptable (the volume can go louder than the Pamus), and they stayed in place during a 25 minute running session and after an hour's use were still very comfortable.

All for a tenth of the price of a set of Apple Airpod Pros!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Voyager 2 glitch

Inverse reports: [edited]

Voyager 2, currently some 11.5 billion miles from Earth, is back online and resuming its mission to collect scientific data on the solar system and the interstellar space beyond. The fix is no mean feat: It takes 17 hours for a message to reach Voyager 2 from Earth.

The spacecraft had run into trouble on January 28, when NASA revealed that it had unexpectedly — and for unknown reasons — shut down. Voyager 2 went black right before it was scheduled for a manoeuvre in which the spacecraft rotates 360 degrees in order to calibrate one of its instruments.

But the spacecraft didn't make the move. As a result, two of its systems — both of which consume a lot of power — were running at the same time. The likeliest problem was that the spacecraft was using up too much of its available power supply, which triggered protection software.

Voyager 2 is sister craft to Voyager 1. Both have been travelling through the solar system — and now beyond it — for the last four decades. Together, they have transformed our understanding of our stellar neighborhood and are already revealing unprecedented information about the interstellar space beyond the Sun's sphere of influence.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Database of old book illustrations

Kottke+ reports: [edited]

An enormous library of old book illustrations, with searchable name, artist, source, date, which book it was in, etc. There are also a number of collections to browse through, and each are tagged with multiple keywords.

Though the team behind the site doesn’t specifically list the whole site as public domain, chances are a lot of the illustrations you’ll find are way out of copyright in most jurisdictions.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

1914 Detroit Electric Model 47 Brougham

Production began in 1907. It used a 1100 lb, 108 volt lead-acid battery. It cost $3,300, the equivalent of $85,000 today. The cars were advertised as achieving 80 miles between recharges, although in one test a Detroit Electric ran 211 miles on a single charge. Top speed was 20 mph.

Clara Ford, wife of Henry Ford, drove a Detroit Electric.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Bluetooth LE Audio

Gizmodo reports: [edited]

One of the biggest improvements of the latest Bluetooth standard will be a feature called Multi-Stream Audio. Bluetooth is currently limited to streaming audio to a single device. That’s fine for portable speakers and headphones where both sides are connected with a wire, but for wireless earbuds, such as Apple’s AirPods, your smartphone can only connect to one side. That earbud then has to forward the audio stream onto the one in your other ear, which requires some clever software tricks to ensure everything remains in sync.

Multi-Stream Audio will solve that, as it will allow a single device, such as a smartphone, to stream flawlessly synced audio to multiple audio devices at the same time. The most obvious benefit is that it will be easier to make wireless earbuds work without any audio lag issues. But the feature will also benefit those who want to use their wireless headphones with multiple devices at the same time, such as a tablet, phone, and a laptop, streamlining the process of switching between each audio source without having to go through an annoying disconnect/reconnect process each time.

Bluetooth LE Audio will also make sharing a music stream with others possible. Users should be able to share audio from their smartphone with friends, as multiple sets of wireless headphones can be connected to a single source device at once, and each should receive the exact same audio stream in perfect sync with all the others. Further expanding on that idea is another new feature known as Broadcast Audio which allows a single audio source device to broadcast several audio streams to an unlimited number of wireless headphones, without any private pairing required.

Imagine sitting in a waiting lounge at the airport and instead of TVs blaring the news over their speakers, they’d instead allow anyone with wireless headphones to connect to the audio broadcast, even in multiple languages. It’s a feature that promises to improve the experience at movie theaters, gyms, and even shopping malls.

Even audiophiles might finally have a reason to embrace Bluetooth with LE Audio, as the new spec is introducing the Low Complexity Communication Codec (LC3) — which promises better audio quality at lower data rates. The reduced data rate will also result in reduced power consumption for Bluetooth destination and source devices. This will allow companies to further reduce the size of wireless earbud devices, as smaller batteries will be needed to achieve the same battery life.

New hardware will be required, starting with the chips that should arrive sometime this year.

Image: Adam Clark Estes (Gizmodo)

Monday, January 06, 2020

Free Typeface: TT2020

Fredrick Brennan has gifted the world with a typeface that makes a pretty good stab at looking as it it was produced using a real typewriter.

To find out more, and to download the files, click here

Thanks to Conrad Gempf for the link.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

London - Somerset - London, 27 & 28-12-19

London to Somerset
Perfect Gentleman - Wyclef Jean
You Have Placed A Chill In My Heart (Acoustic Version) - Eurythmics
Afternoons And Coffeespoons - Crash Test Dummies
Bloodbuzz Ohio - The National
Solitary Man - Johnny Cash
We Will Become Silhouettes - The Postal Service
Dead! - My Chemical Romance
Bing Bang - Lazy Town
Sweet Cheeks - Raf Rundell
Scooby Snacks - Fun Lovin Criminals
How Will I Know - Whitney Houston
Boys Don't Cry - The Cure
Slayers-Theme - Slayers
Since I Left You - The Avalanches
Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me - The Pipettes
After All - The Frank And Walters
Mr. E's Beautiful Blues - Eels
Tank! (Opening Theme) - Cowboy Bebop
Keep The Customer Satisfied - Simon & Garfunkel
You're So Vain - Carly Simon
Country Girl - Primal Scream
You Give a Little Love - Silvery
Electric Feel - MGMT
Let Me Entertain You - Robbie Williams
Back To Life (However Do You Want Me) - Soul II Soul
We're from Barcelona - I'm From Barcelona
Wearing My Rolex (Radio Edit) - Wiley
Girlfriend - The Darkness
Would You Love a Monsterman - Lordi
Jump on Demand - Spunge
Giving You Up - Kylie Minogue
I Lust U - Neon Neon
What Is Life - Olivia Newton-John
Suspicious Character - The Blood Arm
Born To Run - Bruce Springsteen
I'm Not Okay (I Promise) - My Chemical Romance
If It Happens Again - UB40, Robin Campbell, James Brown, Michael Virtue, Ali Campbell, Earl Falconer
I Want an Alien for Christmas - Fountains of Wayne
Wimoweh - Karl Denver
Helena - My Chemical Romance
Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom! - Vengaboys
Ready Steady Go! - L'Arc en Ciel
iPod Xmas - Hello Saferide
Honky Tonk Badonkadonk - Trace Adkins
Dancing In The Moonlight - Toploader
Andrew In Drag - The Magnetic Fields
Vogue - Madonna
The Reeling (Calvin Harris Remix) - Passion Pit
Mary's Prayer - Danny Wilson

Somerset to London
I Ran - A Flock Of Seagulls
Sally MacLennane - The Pogues
This World Of Water - New Musik
The Show Must Go On - Leo Sayer
Making Your Mind Up - Bucks Fizz
Pull It to Pieces - Elektralow
Dignity - Deacon Blue
Poison Ivy - The Lambrettas
The Way I Do - John McVie's "Gotta Band" With Lola Thomas
Smoothie King - Bowling For Soup
Your Love Alone Is Not Enough - Manic Street Preachers
Chug A Lug - Jawbone
Hey Mickey - Toni Basil
Under Pressure - My Chemical Romance & The Used
Tony the Beat (Push It) [Single Version] - The Sounds
Neon Genesis Evangelion Theme Tune - Neon Genesis Evangelion
Consolation Prizes - Phoenix
Something Good '08 (Radio Edit) - Utah Saints
The Most Beautiful Girl [In The Room] - Flight Of The Conchords
Stupidly Happy - XTC
I Told Her On Alderaan - Neon Neon
Can't help falling in Love - A-Teens
Love Your Money - Daisy Chainsaw
If You Let Me Stay - Terence Trent D'Arby
Mellow Yellow - Donovan
Call Your Girlfriend - Robyn
Skinny (Radio Edit) - Lo Rider
Dare (Radio Edit) - Gorillaz
Glamour Boys - Living Colour
Come On Eileen - Dexy's Midnight Runners
Born Slippy - Underworld
Real Love (Studio Version) - Hillsong Young & Free
Hey Dude - Kula Shaker
Behind These Hazel Eyes - Kelly Clarkson
Good As Hell - Lizzo
We Don't Stop - Michael Franti & Spearhead
Love In An Elevator - Aerosmith
Happiness Is - Paul Evans
La Bamba - Los Lobos
In Your Car - Kenickie
Ecuador (feat. Rodriguez) - Sash!
Dirty Harry (Single Edit) - Gorillaz
Best Of You - Foo Fighters
Shut Up Kiss Me - Angel Olsen
Clearest Blue - CHVRCHES
Ring a Ding Ding - Brakes
Go! (feat. Mai Lan) - M83
After Hours - The Velvet Underground
Destination Venus - The Rezillos
Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros - Flight Of The Conchords