Volto e-bike review

After researching the available electric bikes in New Zealand, I concluded that the best bang for the buck is the range of 3 e-bikes from Volto in Tauranga. A 10 minute test drive on one of Pete Wilcox’s bikes at Rockgas Wanganui‘s e-bike agency left me smitten.

The Volto bikes are manufactured in China, but designed by New Zealanders for our conditions.

The Volto Falcon e-bike

Safety first

Contrary to my expectation, I feel safer on the e-bike in city traffic than I do on my conventional bike. The extra acceleration available, especially from a standstill, makes it easier to keep up with the flow in busy city traffic; you’re not being shunted to the side of the road and made vulnerable to negligent car drivers who’re dying to open their doors in your face, or to suddenly back out of an angled parking space because they didn’t see you coming. Or maybe because they did.   :o)

At stop signs and traffic lights, the same applies; I’m less vulnerable because I can accelerate as easily as a car, again, avoiding being shunted to the side of the road.

The bike

The Volto (mine’s a Falcon) has 3 power levels; I haven’t found it necessary to go beyond level 1, even on steepish hills. Higher levels give you more boost on the flat, but when you’re putting in extra effort on a steep hill you get maximum assistance even on level 1. My perception: hills are flattened by a factor of about five; head winds are forever vanquished.

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ASCII Characters

In Windows programs the individual characters of the ASCII character set can be inserted using the Alt key plus a number pad combination or Alt Code.

The procedure is to hold down the Alt key, tap out the appropriate number (the number in the left column below) on the number pad, then release the Alt key.

Note that—in the second half of the table—most Alt Codes produce a different character when a leading zero is added to the number. i.e. from number 127 upwards, “Alt+0127” and “Alt+127” for example, will each produce different characters.

Alt+189 gives ¢ but Alt+0189 gives ½

So all the characters in the third column are produced by prepending a leading zero to the number.

Hex codes and HTML entities are included in the table for completeness, but a much more extensive and useful listing of the HTML entities is found on this page: HTML Character Set.

Not all of these characters are useable in all fonts. If a character shows up as a square, try changing the font to Arial or Times.
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Entering special characters in Windows programs

Common ASCII codes

In Windows programs the individual characters of the ASCII character set can be inserted into your text by holding down the Alt key and typing a number on the number pad.They don’t work with the numbers along the top of your keyboard.

Make sure NumLock is on.

Here are the ones I find most useful:

Commonly used ASCII symbols from the standard set
Numpad Symbol NumPad Symbol NumPad Symbol
130 é 138 è 0224 à
174 « 175 » 0252 ü
156 £ 0162 ¢ 0165 ¥
0248 ø 158 × 0169 ©
172 ¼ 171 ½ 0190 ¾
0150 0151 0133
167 º 0178 ² 0179 ³

You may have different requirements, check the full set of 200-odd more characters from Alt+32 — Alt+0255 will be on this page along with a broader explanation.

This table shows the less commonly known ones which use Alt+Numpad 1 — Alt+Numpad 31.

ASCII symbols using the number pad 1 to 30
Numpad Symbol NumPad Symbol NumPad Symbol
1 11 21 §
2 12 22
3 13 23
4 14 24
5 15 25
6 16 26
7 17 27
8 18 28
9 19 29
10 20 30
31 145 æ 0177 ±

These are not to be confused with the much more extensive HTML character codes for inserting characters into web pages. See them on this page.


Cloud storage

cloud icon

No such thing as a free lunch?

There is when it comes to your data security.

Until quite recently, if you wished to back up your valuable data without cashing in the family jewels, extra storage drives were the logical choice of medium.

The quandary

The question when backing up to extra internal or external hard drives is where to draw the line. If your main computer hard drive crashes a backup is invaluable, but if you only have one backup drive it can be stolen in a burglary or destroyed in a fire along with your computer. So for total peace of mind you really need two and one should be kept at a remote location. That means regular exchanging of drives, loss of data created since the last backup, and an administrative hassle we could live without.

Do you use more than one computer?

Data management is further complicated if you need to synchronize your files on two or more computers. There is excellent software for this. Microsoft’s free SyncToy and the excellent SyncBack SE are two very good sync utilities.

But running these programs is yet another job that we can do without. If you flip back and forth between your laptop and desktop, or between home and work, it’s a never ending task.

Enter the cloud

An extra hard drive is invaluable at home or in the office. I wouldn’t be without one for backing up my whole system with imaging software, but recently the game has changed for data files. There are services popping up like spring daffodils all over the place clamouring to back up your data files on somebody else’s hard drive in the “Cloudi.e. on a remote Internet site.
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The skinny on Skinny

I thought 2Degrees was the best deal available for mobile phones if you use your phone to access data. But 2Degrees just cut back on my data cap and they pissed me off by wanting to charge $40 if I changed my plan, so I went looking.

Long story short


The best deal for a contract account on 2Degrees would have cost me $29. Telecom and Vodafone even more. The nice guys at Skinny give me a pre-pay account with 500MB of data for $16 a month.

It took $4 for a SIM card and all of 20 minutes for the staff at Warehouse Staionary to set it up and my old number was transferred to the new Skinny SIM card in a couple of hours.

But wait…

There’s more:

If you transfer your old number to your Skinny account you get your first month free.

Good deal Skinny.