Sigma 1909 HR STS Bike Computer Review

After a year of serious cycling, I have finally bought a bike computer.  So far, I’ve been getting by by using TrailGuru on the iPhone for post trip analysis, or asking my fellow riding friends during the ride, “How fast are we going?”.  Not very scientific or useful.  Sort of like driving a car without a speedo, or having a bank account without transaction history.

Yesterday, my eBay purchase of the Sigma 1909 HR STS arrived! 

This little computer does speed, cadence and heart rate – all wirelessly too!  I definitely wanted speed so I can maintain a good pace which is useful when cycling in a pack.   I heard that cadence was useful to make my cycling more efficient.  And heart rate should be useful to improve my fitness.

First Impressions

I was worried that the screen would be quite small, which would make it hard to look at when cycling.  But no, when I unboxed the Sigma, I was happy to see a large clear display!

The wireless sensors seem a bit big, but I’ve heard that they are smaller than the Cateye wireless ones, so I’m not complaining.

Packaging all looks professional, instructions were very clear, all good!

Nice things about the Sigma package is that you get O rings as well as zip ties – you can choose which way to secure the parts to your bike.  It also came with a sample tube of Buh Bump heart rate monitor electrode cream!

Installation

The Sigma website actually has videos showing you how to install the sensors on your bike.  You gotta see the video once – it’s useful, but moreso because it’s all done in cheezy simulated slomo.  The actor must’ve had a ball recording this.

Mounting was pretty simple thanks to the clear instructions.   I just had some problems with the magnet on the front wheel.  It seems if it was mounted the correct orientation, the magnet jutted too far out and kept hitting the sensor. I couldn’t move the sensor any further away from the spokes.   So I’ve temporarily mounted the magnet facing the other way on the spoke.   Not ideal but it’s still registering OK.

Very small gap between magnet and sensor

One nice feature about the sensor – it seems to make a small clicking sound everytime the magnet goes by.  Not sure if this is the magnet relay inside the sensor or an actual click from a speaker, but it makes it easier to tell whether the sensor is working or not.

The cadence sensor was quite easy to install and didn’t seem to get in the way of my shoe at all.

Sigma cadence sensor

Operation

At first I wasn’t sure how to turn the device on or off!  But it seems to be always in standby, turn on when it detects movement from the sensors, and goes back to standby automatically after some period of not being used.

Speed and cadence worked fine for me.  Actually, I noticed I ended up pushing myself more on my ride to work today because of the computer!  So it must be doing something right :)    And it was nice to see the cadence so that I could keep it around 80-90rpm.  

The speed and distance sort of matched up with TrailGuru on the iPhone.   Yeah I know, a pretty short commute to work and “slowish” because of traffic lights, intersections, etc :)

The thing that didn’t work for me though was the heart rate monitor.  I had it strapped on, and I did wet it before I started (and it was pretty wet when I finished), but it didn’t register anything!  No heart rate.  I’ll need to investigate another time – maybe it was in the wrong location on my chest, or maybe the shape of my chest is not conducive to strap on heart rate monitors.  Hmm..

So for AUD $129 off eBay, the Sigma 1909 HR seems like quite a bargain.   Especially when a Cateye RD400DW double wireless without a heart rate monitor goes for the same price on eBay and the Polar CS400 and CS500 ones with heart rate monitor go from $349 to $399.

I’ll need to try different positions for the HRM strap and see if it makes any difference…   and try that sample Buh Bump cream!

More info here: http://www.sigmasport.com/en/produkte/bikecomputer/topline_2009_wireless/bc1909/

Fixing McAfee’s mess

Got a phone call from my Dad today.   Apparently overnight, his Dell laptop decided to kill itself.

Symptoms

When he started his computer today, he saw these things:

  1. The Windows task bar at the bottom of the screen wasn’t showing up correctly or at all and no networking was working
  2. When logging in, he got this message:
    HP AiO Device Object Server
    RegisterClassObjects failed: hRes = 0x800706BA
    The RPC server is unavailable.
    Maximum retry attempts exceeded
  3. He also got this message:
    Application Error
    Exception EOleSysError in module Skype.exe at 0008963D
    The RPC server is unavailable.

At first I thought, “Crap! He’s gone to some weird website, or someone’s hacked into this PC!”

But then, I heard the news today about McAfee’s blunder last night – http://blogs.zdnet.com/Bott/?p=2003&tag=col1;post-6001.

Yep, Dad confirmed he had McAfee Total Protection on his laptop.   That was probably it.

Trying to fix it properly

So tonight, I sat down to try to fix it.   Seems that the problem is not just confined to corporate users only.  It also affects some home users of McAfee Antivirus software.

First thing I did was boot up into Safe Mode and take a peek around.   No weird exe’s running.  Everything looked OK.    I did see this in the System Log at around 4AM:

The protected system file svchost.exe could not be restored to its original,
valid version.  The file version of the bad file is unknown. 
The specific error code is 0x00000426 [The service has not been started.]

Ah yes, this really confirms it’s the McAfee bug, as I had read that it deletes svchost.exe, a key process in Windows.   I couldn’t find any svchost.exe in the c:\windows\system32\ directory.   A search of the whole drive only found it in these locations:

  • C:\windows\$NtServicePackUninstall$
  • C:\windows\Prefetch
  • C:\Windows\ServicePackFiles\i386

Unfortunately, right clicking on the McAfee tray icon didn’t do anything.  The icon was unresponsive.  Using my trusty MacBook Pro, I googled around and found these instructions on the McAfee site for home users:

http://service.mcafee.com/FAQDocument.aspx?lc=&id=TS100969

But I couldn’t click on the McAfee tray icon.  So I decided to try these instructions here:

http://service.mcafee.com/FAQDocument.aspx?lc=1033&id=TS100970

But the instructions didn’t quite work for me as there was no svchost.exe in the dllcache directory.

I ended up copying in svchost.exe from the ServicePackFiles\i386 folder, deleted the dat directory as instructed then rebooted.

But things weren’t working again!  Aaarghhh!!   It seems that the svchost.exe was gone again!  WTF?!?

I rebooted into Safe Mode and then tried to run the SDAT5958_EM.EXE file from McAfee.  But this wouldn’t even execute correctly!  What the?!?

Trying to fix it the brute force way

I rebooted into Safe Mode again, and this time I just deleted everything I could under the McAfee VirusScan directory.   I just wanted it gone!!!  There has to be no way that it will try to kill svchost.exe again.  I’d rather a working XP system with corrupted/missing McAfee than a corrupted XP system with working McAfee.  I restored svchost.exe and rebooted.   And the good news is that all was good!   No error messages on boot up, Skype started fine, and the wireless network adapter was detected and connected successfully.

Except now for some messages about McAfee missing files!   I reinstalled it and it downloaded the latest definitions, and all is OK now.

This took me just under 2 hours, mostly due to extra paranoid investigation at the start in case it was a virus.  I really wonder how many hours everyone around the world has spent fixing this problem!

Actually, I really pity the standard home user with minimal computer knowledge.  I don’t see how they could fix this without some help.   As they may not even be able to connect to the internet or use their computer to find out what to do!!

My computer was infected…

I’m sooo angry with myself!  I keep on telling family members about being careful to not click or run wierd programs off the internet.   I had recently spent ages getting wierd malware and spyware off my parents and parents-in-law’s computers.   And what do I do this week?   I accidentally ran an executable called “wmcodec_update.exe” thinking it was a high definition codec update for an embedded Windows media player!

As soon as I ran it I knew I shouldn’t have.   Luckily my hard drive isn’t totally silent – because the thing that made me realise it was bad was hearing the hard drive go crazy!  I thought “*@^&$!! It’s deleting all my files!”   I immediately shut down the laptop and pulled out all my external USB drives.

I first ran my favourite Spybot Search and Destroy but it didn’t seem to have done the full job.  I first tried to remove wmcodec_update.exe by following the instructions at geekstogo and I followed the recommendation on Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware at Yahoo Answers.

I also noticed a few wierd things – my wallpaper had changed to show a fake window about viruses, I didn’t have the permissions to change my wallpaper back, and there was a “new” virus scanner that had installed itself on my computer called Antivirus XP 2008 which seemed to scanning my computer, reporting hundreds of viruses!!

I noticed a few wierd processes running in Task Manager.   I tried to kill them but they seemed to keep coming back.

Avast found a virus

Avast found a virus

I’m naughty – I had recently removed all virus scanners from my laptop, so I quickly put on Avast and did a few scans which did reveal and repair more traces of the virus.

msconfig showing 2 suspicious startup processes

msconfig showing 2 suspicious startup processes

Unfortunately the fake antivirus program was still there.  I used msconfig to disable it and Task Manager to delete the process but it wasn’t all gone!   I came across this article on bleeping computer with details to remove it and its files and I think I’ve now got rid of it.

Suspicious folder on hard drive

Suspicious folder on hard drive

Arghhh!!  I’ve lost a few days use of the laptop and my Friday night.   Well, now I’ll be extra careful about running unknown processes and have that virus scanner permanently running *sigh*.

DJ’s worst nightmare come true

A huge group of Perthies went over to MLX on the weekend.  Su and I had too many other things to attend that we couldn’t.  But Shane asked if I could fill in for him on the Mustang DJ desk.  No problems!

Well, so I had thought – until Thursday night when I was packing my gear up and thought I’d double check my Hard Drive with my swing mp3s on it.  Connect the USB cable, drive wurrs, Windows spits up some unhelpful error message box, can’t access drive..  oh dear.   I tried Firewire – no difference.  I hooked it up to Su’s MacBook.  OK, now we’re getting somewhere.  I can see the drive in Finder, but when I browse into my audio/swing folder, it’s not there!  Aarrgghhh..   I tried running GetBackData over the whole night but it didn’t finish – it seemed to hang.  ARGHHH!!!  I had lost all my ripped swing music!!

So I spent lots of Friday ripping some favourite/best CDs.  But I didn’t have time to apply the old BPM, rating and favourite collection/grouping info so I was DJ’ing semi-blind on Friday night.   Looking at the few hundred CDs I’d have to rip/tag again – I really can’t be bothered…   so that was probably my last DJ gig for a longggg time.

My advice for those that spin off digital media – make a BACKUP!!!  and keep it up to date!!!