Author Archives: David

Script to change keyboard on Windows 7

I’m currently working in a client’s office, on an extremely locked-down Windows 7 PC. As usual, I want to change to the dvorak keyboard layout, which is my standard. However, the environment on the computer is reset every couple of days, which wipes out my keyboard setting.

So I started looking for a way to change it through a powershell script. Unfortunately, Windows 7 only has an extremely limited version of powershell. But I was able to find a way to change it using an xml script at these two sites:

Combining them both together, I put together the following xml file:

<gs:GlobalizationServices xmlns:gs="urn:longhornGlobalizationUnattend">

<gs:User UserID="Current"/>


<!-- Add Dvorak -->
<gs:InputLanguageID Action="add" ID="0409:00010409"/>

<!-- Remove US default-->
<gs:InputLanguageID Action="remove" ID="0409:00000409"/>


The trickiest part was finding the code for the dvorak keyboard, which is 0409:00010409

The code to execute the xml file is:

control intl.cpl,, /f:"Desktop\changekeyboard.xml"

Which I then put into a .bat file which I keep on the desktop. So, whenever, the keyboard changes, I just double-click the bat file, and the keyboard is fixed again, and I end up with the keyboards as so:

Permanent redirect to https

This is a bit of a follow-on from my previous post, in which I was setting up https access on my website.

Once you’ve got https set up correctly, you might, like I did, want to make sure that all traffic to your website now goes the the SSL connection, rather than through an unencrypted connection.

On Linux hosting, like I have with Quadra Hosting, this can easily be done by creating a ‘.htaccess’ file. Create one in the root level of your hosted directory (the one where you have your index.html file). In the .htaccess file, put in the following lines:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]

This will redirect all traffic to the SSL connection.

Setting up Let’s Encrypt with Quadra Hosting

For the last few years, I’ve been using Quadra Hosting for my web hosting needs. Their servers are great, with good speed and connection, and they’re reasonably priced. They also have the best customer and technical support that I’ve ever seen, bar none. I highly recommend them if you’re looking for a new web host.

Let’s Encrypt is a project that has set out to ensure that all web traffic is encrypted. To that end, they have changed the traditional process of obtaining SSL keys to a much simpler one, and provide them for free.

Also, Chrome will soon be warning users anytime they visit an unencrypted website. With these two factors, I thought I’d set about trying to install a Let’s Encrypt key onto my Quadra hosting account. As you can see from the green lock in the address bar for this site, you can see that I was successful!

Let’s Encrypt’s preferred method of installation is via CertBot client that runs on the server, and installs and renews the keys. However, a quick check with the technical support team at Quadra, and I realised that this wasn’t going to work on shared hosting, where I don’t have low-enough level access to the server.

Fortunately, Let’s Encrypt and others have provided a variety of different ways to install some keys. They have scripts for a variety of different languages. One that I came across was a bash script that can run on shared hosting without root access. It’s simply called It worked really well.

Here’s the process that I went through to set up Let’s Encrypt with the script.

  1. Go to your Quadra Hosting control panel, and turn on SSL connections, by going to ‘Domain Settings’, then ‘SSL’ and then clicking the ‘Generate self signed SSL certificate’.


Click ‘submit’ on the next page, then just ignore the page of keys that comes up after that. You won’t be using those keys, but it has activated the SSL functionality for the server for your domain.

2. Next you’ll need to install the script. To do this, and most of the rest of the steps, you’ll need shell access. It’s not turned on by default, so you’ll need to fill out the shell access request form and send it through to the Quadra Hosting support team. Then, when you’re logged on, enter

curl | sh

This will download and install the acme script. At this time, it tries to install an alias to, but it failed for me. I had to manually edit the .bashrc file and added in the following line:


This can be done simply by entering the following line

printf "alias\'~/\'" >> .bashrc

then reload your bashrc by either logging out / in, or by typing

source  ~/.bashrc

3. With the script set up, you can now download and install your SSL key. The first step is done with the ‘issue’ command: --issue -d -d -w ~/

This contacts the Let’s Encrypt servers and will generate some SSL keys, and copies them to the acme install directory. It’ll give the location of these new certificates:

[Thu Nov 10 01:46:53 GMT 2016] Your cert is in  /hsphere/local/home/xxxx/
[Thu Nov 10 01:46:53 GMT 2016] Your cert key is in  /hsphere/local/home/xxxx/
[Thu Nov 10 01:46:53 GMT 2016] The intermediate CA cert is in  /hsphere/local/home/xxxx/
[Thu Nov 10 01:46:53 GMT 2016] And the full chain certs is there:  /hsphere/local/home/xxxx/

4. Next up, you need to install the newly created certificates. This is done in two ways. Firstly, through the control panel, then through the command line. This is so that both Quadra and the script know the certificates.

Firstly, log onto the server with an FTP client and download or view the four certificates which were listed in the key creation message (above).

On the control panel, go to ‘web options’ then select ‘edit SSL support’.


This will bring up a page with some areas in which you can paste in the keys. Put in:

  1. Install yoursite.key to ‘Certificate key’
  2. Install yoursite.cer to ‘Certificate file’
  3. Install ca.cer to ‘Certificate Chain file’


The Certificate Key and Certificate file can be uploaded at the same time, but the Certificate Chain File will need to be uploaded separately.

Once that is done, go back to the command line. You’ll need to change the permissions on the ssl key folder:

chmod 0600 ~/ssl.conf/*

Install the keys again using the acme script: --installcert -d --certpath ~/ssl.conf/ --keypath ~/ssl.conf/ --capath ~/ssl.conf/


Note that this will throw a few errors: The script will also try and install some backup keys, which it won’t be able to do. I don’t consider this a problem, as the keys primary location is in the directory anyway.

5. Reboot your apache instance to reload the new keys. There is no direct to do this, but the Quadra support team suggested a simple workaround. Go to Web Options for your domain in the control panel, then click on the ‘Mime Type’ button.
mime-typeOn the window that pops up, enter some dummy data, hit ‘submit’


Then click on Save / Apply in the Web Options window. Wait a few minutes, then click on the red ‘X’ next to the new Mime type. This will delete the new entry.


Click Save / Apply again. This will reboot the apache instance, and load up the new keys.

6. Test the installed certificate. Wait for five minutes for the server to reboot, then go to . If all the steps above have worked then it should be working nicely. Next, check that the cron job to renew the certificates has installed correctly. This should have been done when the script was installed. Check it now.

This can be done through either the control panel (go home -> tools -> cron) or through the command line:

crontab -l

You can also go to SSL Lab’s SSL test to see that everything is working correctly.

7. Celebrate! You’ve now got SSL working on your site, celebrate that you’re doing your small bit to make the whole web a bit more secure.


After I posted this article, I sent a link through to Quadra support with a note along the lines of ‘here’s a guide I made up, please feel free to send it to any other customers who might be trying to do the same thing.’

I shortly got a response from the support team. The team member who’d been helping me with this setup not only responded and corrected some mistakes I’d made, but he also wrote: “You could also mention that we would be happy to do all this for them if they asked us to, e.g. if they are not used to shell commands.”

This surprised me no end. The Quadra Hosting team sell a one-click SSL implementation, which only costs $30, and requires no technical skills at all. Rather than suggest “You could also mention that we have a cheap one-click SSL implementation if they are having difficulty with Let’s Encrypt.”, they instead suggest that they could forgo making that money, and instead spend time help you implement a no-cost alternative.

If you’re not with Quadra yet for your hosting, change. This is just a small example of how good they are.

Formula for a Motorbike Wheelie

In the CB400 thread on Netrider, Positron007 speculated that the CB400 (which accelerates really quickly to 70kph) accelerates as fast as a 600cc sportsbike, at least up to the first gearchange.
He speculated that the limiting factor (up to 70km/h) was not the power of the bikes (which are vastly different) but the fact that you’re trying to prevent the bikes from doing a wheelie for this whole time.
So today, I thought I’d use my nerd powers for good instead of evil, and take a crack at explaining a wheelie formulaically. I couldn’t really find anything explaining the physics behind a wheelie on Google, so I thought I’d have a crack at it myself.
Disclaimer: May be wrong.
TL;DR: Positron is right, 600cc bikes don’t really accelerate faster (to 70kph) than the CB400.


Assumption 1 – That both the CB400 and the 600cc sportsbike (which I’ll call the CBR600RR from now on) are both at their ‘liftoff point’ for the whole drag-race (which will be up to 70km/h, after which the CB400 is not capable of wheelie-ing).
Assumption 2 – The CB400 weighs 270kg fully laden with 76kg rider, and it’s COG (with rider) lies 600mm and 500mm from the rear axle.
Assumption 3 – The CBR600RR weighs 273kg fully laden with 76kg rider, and it’s COG (with rider) lies 650mm and 550mm from the rear axle.
Assumption 4 – Gravity is 9.81 m/s2


Why is the liftoff point important? A bike is accelerating at its fastest when the front wheel is at the point of becoming weightless. If the bike is accelerating any faster than this, then the front wheel will continue to lift off the ground, until the rider is on his back. (See endless YouTube videos to see this effect in action).
At liftoff point, both the liftoff and the gravitational turning moments are equal. What do I mean by this?


To describe this as a formula:

Moment (downwards) = Moment (upwards)

I don’t think that this formula applies to drag-cars and other very-high performance vehicles. The principles do apply, but they also have some massive lifting forces created by the torquing action on their drivetrain. Bikes do not have torque-induced lift, especially at the low-power levels we’re looking at here.

The turning moment is the force multiplied by the perpendicular distance to the turning point, and can be described by the formula:

 Mt = F * D

To show the turning moments visually:

Horizontal Turning Moment

Horizontal Turning Moment

Vertical Turning Moment

Vertical Turning Moment

Force is described by the formula

 F = m * a

So, to combine all these equations


Solving for acceleration provides:


This is quite an interesting result, as the mass cancels out of both sides. Ergo, the mass of the bike has nothing to do with the bike’s ability to keep the front end off the ground. (Naturally, the bike’s mass will have a lot to do in limiting the amount of acceleration available to the bike.)

So it all comes down to the D(h) against D(v) ratio. In retrospect, this makes sense, as it is well-known that an adequately powerful cruiser can out-accelerate a sportsbike, due to its low COG and long wheelbase (more forward COG).



So comparing the CB400 against the CB600RR:

Result_CB400 Result_CBR


So the CB400 will actually out-accelerate the CBR, though there is not much in it. These accelerations will mean that the bikes will do 0-70km/h in 1.7 seconds. NOTE: The numbers for the vertical and horizontal distances are pure guesswork. Any assistance to provide real numbers would be greatly appreciated.


In Summary:

  • The maximum acceleration threshold for a bike is limited by its turning moment.
    • At any point below this threshold, acceleration will be limited by other factors, such as power, gearing, weight, etc.
    • The turning moment is a factor of the height and distance of the COG of the Bike (and rider) from the rear-axle.
    • Any two bikes which have sufficiently similar COG distances will have the same maximum acceleration threshold.

Quad-boot Lenovo X220

After getting Mac OSX working fine on the Lenovo, I decided to reach higher and go for a real multi-boot setup – five OS’s! I wanted to put on Windows 8, so that I could play Steam games, and I wanted Linux to see how Linux has progressed over the last few years, and BSD just to see if I could.

My first step – upgrading the hard drive. The 320GB Seagate that I was using was fine for two partitions, but wouldn’t really cut it for more. So I bought a Seagate 7200rpm 750 GB Hybrid HD. With that done, I had to partition it up, which was quite a feat:

Disk Utility Screenshot

So that’s

  • 170GB for the original Windows Partition
  • 120GB for Mac OS X
  • 200GB for Windows 8 (pretty much only for Steam)
  • 60 GB for Linux
  • 50 GB for BSD and
  • 180 GB for general storage (formatted FAT, so that all the OS’s can share it.)

I used Mac OS’s Disk Manager for the partitioning – it does a good job, and it’s a lot harder to make some fatal mistakes.

Once that was done, it was a pretty straightforward, though time-consuming task to put all the OS’s on it. The Mac OS and Win 7 partitions I could copy straight across from the 320 GB drive. Windows 8 installed without too much hassle, but only once Windows 7 was on. It wouldn’t install into the non-first partition without another boot partition being in place.

For my Linux partition, I chose Ubuntu, which is definitely ‘flavour of the moment’. I’ve installed Linux in the past – Red Hat 3 on my old Pentium 2 300Mhz desktop computer, and Gentoo on a Sony Vaio Picturebook. Compared to those old installs, Ubuntu installed like a dream, I’d say fractionally easier than the Windows 8 install, and getting close to that of OSX.

I wasn’t completely thrilled with Ubuntu. It’s probably the Gnome-based Unity desktop, but I found a few of the OS choices to be quite annoying, particularly the dock on the left. There was also a surprising lack of configuration options in order to change the user experience. Sleep / wake worked just fine without any setting or configuration changes, which impressed me a lot.

One thing that impressed me though was the wireless connectivity. With my last Linux install – Gentoo on a Picturebook – getting wireless networking running required a lot of hard work, and a lot of editing of configuration files. However, Ubuntu made the experience as easy and fast as Windows or OSX does.

I was trying to go for five OS’s – with BSD being the fifth OS. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get it to work. It was very frustrating. The first time I tried to install it, I then discovered that it would only install into a primary partition, not into an extended partition. After much grinding of teeth, I re-partitioned the hard-drive and started from scratch.

I then moved Windows 8 to an extended partition, so that I could install BSD on a primary. Then, for some reason, I just could not create a bootable USB installer with BSD on it, it just wouldn’t work. The X220 doesn’t have a DVD-drive, so I had to go with a plan B – move the hard-drive across to another laptop which has a DVD-drive, then install, and move the HD back across for first boot.

Using this method, I was able to get PC-BSD installed and working, at least if they had full control of the bootloader. Once I tried to install another bootloader, to boot the other OS’s, then BSD would no longer work. I tried both the FreeBSD and the PC-BSD variants, but neither would boot. I eventually gave up. The BSD partition was only meant for ‘fun’ – a bit of icing on the cake, but it was proving to be more hassle than the rest of the OS’s put together.

Only after I had gone through all of that drama with installing on another computer that I realised that I had another install option. I could have used Virtualbox, and booted up the installer in Virtualbox, then installed on one of the other drives.

Getting the boot loader to work is generally a pain with these multi-boot installs, but I was able to get that sorted pretty easily. I used my Windows-to-go bootable USB to boot into Windows, and then I used EasyBCD to configure the boot loader on the computer. So my boot loader now looks like this:


After I had got it all working, I went back and had another look at Ubuntu. I wasn’t completely happy with the Gnome environment. Fortunately, there’s an officially supported branch of Ubuntu called Kubuntu, which uses the KDE environment. I found this to be much more to my liking, and a lot more configurable. The only downside is that the wireless networking isn’t quite as easy or smooth as Ubuntu’s, and takes a bit longer to re-initialise itself after sleep.

All up, I’m now very happy with my work-issued Lenovo X220. It does absolutely everything I want, and can run any program I want. It’s got a good size and is extremely robust. I think that when it’s time to hand this computer back, I’ll go and pick up a 220 for myself.

RAM Disk on Mac OS X

One of the things that really annoys me with modern computers is that they don’t use their RAM as much as they should – particularly with video and music playing.

Case in point. I was watching a movie on my new Hackintosh the other day, and the hard disk light was flashing continuously. The computer wasn’t doing anything else except watch the video, and I had more than 6GB of free RAM on the computer. However, the video player (VLC in this instance, but they all do it) wasn’t using that RAM, it was continuously reading from the HD. That’s okay for a desktop computer or a laptop with an SSD, but for a laptop with a regular HD, that’s a real waste of battery power. The 800MB video file could easily be read into RAM, then accessed by the video program.

One of the best ways to get around this problem is to create a RAM disk, something that used to be a regular feature on Apple computers. The obvious ways of doing it were removed with the introduction of Mac OS X, but the underlying capability is still there.

I was able to find out how to do this pretty quickly, through a Terminal command:

diskutil erasevolume HFS+ "ramdisk" `hdiutil attach -nomount ram://3165430`

This creates a RAM disk that’s about 1.6 GB in size. Modify the last number to make the disk larger or smaller.

One thing that the articles didn’t mention is how you can easily turn a Terminal command into an ‘executable’ that you can click on to run. So I thought that I’d post a quick ‘how to’ to show how to do this.

  1. Open up a text editor (I use TextWrangler) and paste the command into it.
  2. Save it as a text file (I call it ‘’) to the drive.

Ramdisk script

Once this is done, do a ‘get info’ on the file. Go to the selection ‘open this file with’, and select Terminal.

Ramdisk script Info

Once this is done, when the script is double-clicked, it will open up in Terminal and run:

ramdisk initialisation

This will create the ram disk, and put it on the desktop, like any other type of network or local drive.

ramdisk info

You can then copy your video or other files to it, and get extremely fast access to those files. It’s great as well if you want to do some video editing / photo manipulation, but you have to remember it’s volatile memory. If you lose power for any reason, you’ve totally lost the contents of the drive.

Edup USB wifi dongle

As I mentioned in my last post, one of the remaining issues is that the Lenovo X220’s wifi card isn’t recognised by Mac OS X. One of the ways around this is to replace the wifi card with one that’s recognised by OS X, and this is the path most take, as the new card only costs about $15, and works seamlessly with the computer.

I didn’t want to do this though, since the laptop belongs to my employer. I didn’t want to open up the case and break the warranty. Instead, I went to ebay, and bought the smallest USB wifi dongle I could. It was a Edup RTL8192C 802.11n dongle.


It’s remarkable the miniaturisation that they’ve been able to do for this card. The fact that they could pack the electronics and an aerial into this tiny package is amazing. It’s only 150N networking, and the range isn’t great, but that’s to be expected.


Naturally, the drivers that came with the dongle don’t include Mac drivers. It took a bit of hunting to find some, but I eventually found them. I’ve included them below in case anyone finds this page when looking for drivers.

EDUP Wifi Card drivers

When installing on Mountain Lion, the installer says that it fails, but it actually works. To initiate the wireless connection, you have to use the ‘Wireless Network Utility’ app which is installed. This app replaces all the built-in wireless connectivity

Wireless Setup Window

An interesting side-effect is that the wireless dongle also works in Windows, so you can connect to two wireless networks simultaneously.

Lenovo x220 Hackintosh

For the last few weekends, I’ve been doing a little project, trying to get Mac OS X running on my work-issued Lenovo x220 laptop. It’s quite a good laptop with an i7 processor, 8 gigs of RAM.

However, I can’t really use it. It’s got a pretty locked-down copy of Windows 7 running on it, and I don’t have admin rights. That’s fine, my workplace pays for this computer, they can set it up how they want. So I decided to experiment, to see how I could use the computer in other ways without affecting the ‘work’ nature of the computer at all.

The first thing I tried was to swap out the hard drive. The Lenovo makes this pretty easy, with just one screw on the outside case. With one of my spare laptop drives in, I then installed Windows 8. Naturally, that worked just fine, but switching out the HD every time I wanted to do something different is a bit cumbersome.

So then I tried a new feature of Windows 8 called Windows To Go. It’s basically a full install of Windows 8 that can run from a USB stick or external hard drive. I then created a WTG external drive. This worked fine, and allowed me to play Steam games with no hassle, and without affecting the work hard drive at all.

After a few weeks, I thought that I’d see what other possibilities might be achievable. I’ve really missed my MacBook Pro since the motherboard died about a year ago now, but I was never quite able to justify to myself to buy a new one. I’ve always been an Apple and Mac fan, so one day, I did a search, to see if it was possible to create a ‘Hackinosh’ with the Lenovo.

I found a few pages that had some methods on how to do it. The main one that was very useful was from the ThinkPad Forums.

The main issues I had to work through were:

  • Creating a boot USB stick.
  • Installing Mac OS X
  • Copying across the Windows 7 partition and fixing the bootloader.

Creating the USB boot disk gave me a bit of grief at first. I tried creating one using various instructions that I found on various pages, that mostly involved copying files across from the Mountain Lion installer DMG. This method copied the files across, but didn’t leave me with a drive that the Lenovo would see as bootable. The next method I tried was from using the Lion Disk Maker tool. However, while this tool works really well with genuine macs, it doesn’t work so well for Hackintoshes.

The method which ended up working for me was by using TonyMac’s UniBeast tool. This worked well, and got me to the installer window. Then  I got stuck at the next step. The installer only works for GPT-formatted hard drive’s and the Lenovo (since it uses Windows 7) only allows MBR. (Windows 8 now works with GPT). Fortunately, the main Thinkpad Forum page came to the rescue again, pointing to this page on the site.

On that page are some hacked installers, which allow you to install onto MBR partitions. Once these were copied across onto the USB installer, it then allowed me to install, and get to first boot.

At first boot, things got a little tricky. At this point, you need to install various extensions to get the computer to recognise all the hardware, change a few configuration files, set up the boot manager and patch the DSDT, so that control of the processor is correct. At this point, I got a lot of kernel panics. Much fun.

The forum posts lists two methods for first-boot setup, one by ‘Fraidos125’, the other by ‘Superkhung’. Some people record success using one method, some people record success using the other. Unfortunately, neither worked for me. I kept reading through the thread, trying to figure out why I wasn’t having any success. Then, toward the end of the thread, I saw that someone suggested using both methods in conjunction, one after the other. I gave this a try and had success!

Here’s a photo of Mac OS running on the Lenovo.


There are only three residual issues with the ‘Hack OS X’ install – the wifi doesn’t work, the bluetooth keyboard installer pops up every time you boot and 3rd USB port doesn’t work.

Wifi not working is a recognised issue with the 220’s. Mac OS just doesn’t have a driver for this wifi card. Most people just buy a new wifi card and install it into their laptop, since a new card only costs about $15. I don’t want to do this with a work-issued laptop though, so I’ll find a USB alternative.

The second issue – the bluetooth installer is slightly annoying. The keyboard and trackpad is PS2, and work fine with the right extension. However, on bootup, the computer doesn’t quite seem to recognise that a keyboard is connected, and starts up the bluetooth keyboard installer every time. It’s easy to quit out of it, but it’d be better if it didn’t show up at all.

The third problem is strange. The x220 has three USB ports, two USB2, and one USB3 port. The USB3 port doesn’t work at all. I suspect that there’s something wrong with my configuration files. Most x220’s only have 2 USB ports, with the i7 computers having three. I think that it’s one of the files that I downloaded from the Thinkpad forums that’s causing the issue. It hasn’t bugged me enough yet that I want to fix it, but I’ll probably add that to my list for later.

MacOS Info

 Once I had Mac OS installed, I decided to try and make the computer dual-boot, so I wouldn’t have to swap out the hard-disk everytime I went to work. Doing this was almost as tricky as the MacOS installation. The main problem is that I don’t have administrator rights on the work partition (Windows 7), so I had to work completely ‘hands off’ from it.

One of the things which helped this was the WTG boot drive, and this came in very handy for the dual-boot set up. It enabled me to boot up the 220 without having to touch the internal drive, allowing me to manipulate it as I needed.

The first step was to copy an image of the Win 7 partition from one HD to the other. I tried a couple of methods, with no success, but then I found a method that worked. For this I used a tool called DriveImage XML. It works like the image copy-and-move capabilities of Mac OS’s Disk Manager.  It allowed me to copy across the Windows 7 partition from one drive to another, with no changes.

Once the partition was copied across, I then re-installed MacOS into the other partition. Then I just had to get a bootloader working so that I could select which partition to start. The Hackintosh installer uses a boot-loader called Chameleon, but I couldn’t get this to work with the Win 7 partition. I tried creating a Win 7 rescue USB and fixing the Win 7 partition, but that didn’t work either.

The easy way to get both to work is to use a program called EasyBCD on Windows. It works very well, but I don’t have admin rights on the Win 7 partition. Fortunately, the WTG drive came to the rescue again. Running EasyBCD on it, I was able to fix the bootloader on the laptop’s drive. It boots into the Windows Boot Loader (the finest of text-based user interfaces), which then enables me to select which partition I want to boot from. If I select MacOS, it then goes to the Chameleon boot loader, which allows me to select boot-options for the MacOS partition.

Now both partitions are working great. I’ve got my pristine work partition, and a Mac OS partition for fun. It makes me want to install a few other OS’s, just to see if I can. Maybe a Quin-boot Work / MacOS / Win 8 / BSD / Linux setup.

Project for another weekend.

Review: Motolegion Jeans by RHOK – a disappointment


Motolegion are a brand of jeans designed by Australian brand RHOK. I recently purchased a pair, and this is my review of them.

For the purposes of this review, I’ll be comparing the jeans against some work-issued jeans that I have – some King Gee jeans.

King Gee’s (left), RHOK (right)

Ordering and Delivery

Ordering was very simple from the RHOK website, though the website seemed confused as to how much the jeans were – the page said $145, but the Paypal checkout said $146.

Once I placed my order, I waited for 11 days, with no jeans in sight. I sent off an email, and was quickly replied to by Marinko. They were out of stock, but had forgotten to let me know. They said that they would ship the jeans in a couple of weeks. A couple of days later, however, I received another email, saying the jeans had been mailed, but they had probably sent the wrong size.

When the jeans arrived, they were indeed the wrong size. Marinko was very apologetic, and immediately sent up the correct size jeans, and a pre-paid express post satchel to send the wrong jeans back.

First Impressions

My first impression of the jeans was how thin the material was! I was expecting a very heavy, thick denim, but the denim felt a lot thinner and flexible to my fingers than the King Gee’s. A measurement with my micrometer confirmed by suspicions – the RHOK’s measured at 0.77mm vs the King Gee’s at 0.93mm. This obviously doesn’t matter from a protection standpoint, as the Kevlar does the protecting, not the denim, but the jeans may not last as long as I’d hoped.

What the jeans lack in thickness, they definitely make up for in weight. The King Gee’s weigh in at 804 grams on the scale, the RHOK’s are 1.10kg! I don’t know where the weight comes from – probably the kevlar panels, and the huge amount of thread which has gone into stitching these jeans together.

The stitching is very heavy duty. I’ll comment more on it later.


The jeans are not subtle at all. Red stitching all around, and a giant logo on your ass. If there was one aspect of the style of the jeans that I could live without, it’s the logo. Given that I usually wear work-issued jeans most of the time, and these come with the corporate logo on the back, I’m not totally adverse to this idea. However, the sheer size of the logo is off-putting.

Giant Ass Logo

Some of the panels, such as above the knee, and the seat also come pre-distressed. The ‘blue’ colour is also very dark. While not black it’s definitely on the ‘navy’ side of blue.

Distressed panels


The jeans are quite long, about 1cm longer than the 87R King Gee’s, which are a very traditional 501’s – style cut.

They’re also quite wide at the boot. You’ll have no trouble at all fitting these over your Sidi race boots. Each leg averages about 1cm wider when laid flat.

Width and colour difference between the two jeans.

The belt loops are a little bit narrow in length. My belt just squeezes through.


The stitching is extremely heavy-duty. All of the important seams are triple-stitched. One area of concern is that all the stitching is external, and doesn’t have the ‘two under, one over’ style that is found on other jeans – like the King Gee’s. This raises a slight concern that in a bad slide the stitching may possibly wear through, though this seems highly unlikely, given the strength of the stitching.

Ultra-heavy-duty stitching

Internal Stitching, RHOK’s

Internal Stitching, King Gee’s

Each stitch has a massive amount of thread going through it. I’d like to know just what percentage of the weight of the jeans is made up of thread!


On the bike – When on the bike, the jeans are perfectly comfortable, and don’t get in the way at all. However, I found that one of the seams appears to settle right on the inside of my knee, which is uncomfortable when hugging the tank. When I sit on the bike, I need to spend a second to make sure that the leg is rotated so that the seam is out of the way.

Off the bike, the jeans are surprising uncomfortable. The main culprit is the velcro panels inside the knee pockets. Because they face towards the outside of the jeans, the velcro strip  basically sits against your leg, tempered only by the thin mesh material. The sharp edges (especially the corners) of the strip poke through the mesh, and onto your leg.

This isn’t unbearably uncomfortable, but it’s pretty much continuously noticeable. I’m hoping that they soften up with wear and washing.

The Kevlar panels themselves are completely comfortable. You won’t even notice that they’re there.


The Kevlar protection is excellent, huge panels of kevlar weave covering all parts which are likely to slide along the ground in an accident. All the panels are the same size as the denim panels, and stitch into the same seams.

The hard protectors are highly weird, when compared to my other pair of riding pants (Motoline textiles). They are a standard ‘hard plastic over breathable foam’ style of protector. The knee protectors are a standard shape.

The shape of the hip protector, however, seems all wrong. They look like they have come out of a jacket, not a pair of pants. For comparison:

This is a side-by-side with the knee / elbow-forearm protectors from my Spidi jacket next to the shoulder / hip protectors from the jeans. The shoulder / hip protectors are nearly identical in shape.

Perfectly fitting ‘hip’ protector

When the hip protectors are in place, it makes you look like you’re wearing jodhpurs – it gives you fantastically wide hips. The protectors just stand out from your body, and don’t conform at all. There is a good centimetre of air from your body to the protector in the middle of the hump.

By comparison, here’s the hip protector from my Motoline textile pants.

One of these is designed for human hips.

The knee protectors can be inserted and removed through cleverly designed hidden zips below the knee.

The knee protectors go into mesh pockets that have ‘hook’ velcro on the bottom of the pocket. In addition to causing the comfort issues mentioned above, they also destroy the pocket itself. Every time you open the pocket, the hooks on the velcro tear at the mesh, which in my case is already starting to fuzz up from the abuse.

Knee pocket with Vecro ‘hook’ side up

The knee protector pockets are massive in the ‘up’ direction – they go halfway up my thigh. However, they’re not long enough in the ‘down’ direction. When I fit the pads so that they’re comfortable with a bent knee, the pads stick out the bottom of the pocket, so that the pocket can’t be done up! This is an epic flaw in the design.

They fit just fine if I rotate them 180 degrees, but I think they were meant to protect the shin, not the thigh. At this point in time, they’re just not usable. I’m going to either have to cut the knee protector with a Dremel tool (not a generally good idea, since it’ll leave some sharp edges), or buy a more standard foam protector and cut it to shape.


I bought these jeans hoping to ride them to work every day, to pop out the knee pads, and then work all day. As it stands, I can’t see myself doing that.

The knee pads are too difficult and time-consuming to put in. The hooks on the velcro also tear up the mesh extremely rapidly. Taking the protectors out once or twice a day is going to destroy the mesh in very short order.

I have two options – ride to work with the protectors in, then change to a different pair of pants. If that’s the case, I may as well wear a pair of waterproof textile pants. My second option is to ride without the protectors in place. That’s the option I’m taking at the moment, though riding without knee protectors is a concern.

The style and cut of the jeans seems aimed at a younger market segment. This is not a bad thing, but something to be aware of if you’re interested in purchasing these jeans.

Overall, I’m disappointed in the jeans. They’re not as good as I was hoping for, in comfort and practicability. I honestly can’t see myself buying another pair of these jeans, unless some of the recommended changes below are made.


Please note, that these recommendations are only based on my personal experience and tastes – YMMV. These are in order of my preference.

1. Fix the knee pad pockets or protectors, so that they actually match each other in size.

2. Remove the ‘hook’ velcro on the inside of the mesh pocket. Replace it with ‘loop’ velcro on the top side of the mesh pocket, then allow the owner to decide if they want to attach the ‘hook’ side to the protector.

3. Have a hip protector that is actually designed for human hips.

4. Have a second ‘subtle’ jeans style, for those who don’t want a giant logo on their ass.

5. Have a jeans style that has a more traditional tapered leg cut.

6. Make the belt loops about 3mm longer.

Home-brew Ginger Beer

I really enjoy a good home-brew ginger beer, it’s a perfect summer drink. I’ve made a few different varieties from the different pre-mixed cans that you can buy, but I can never remember which ones are the best.

A month ago, I made up a fresh batch of ginger beer. This time, I took a photo of the pre-mix can, so I’d know which one was good.

I had a bit of a disaster as I was making it. I accidentally poured the wort over the hand-mittens that I was wearing to protect my hands from the heat. I was certain that I’d infected the batch, but I went ahead anyway.

After two weeks fermenting, I opened up the fermenter. There was a nasty black mould around the thread of the fermenter, but the beer looked and tasted great.

I bottled up the beer. After a week of gassing, I gave it a first taste. It was really excellent. The temperature-controlled fridge had done another great job. There were hardly any off flavours to the beer at all. This kit has only a light ginger flavour, and comes out tasting quite similar to the famous Bundaberg ginger beer.

Next time, I think I’ll try making a ginger beer from scratch. To do that, though, I’ll have to buy a wort chiller, to cool it down enough for fermentation.