Rjays Super Top Box (motorcycle luggage) review

Posted by jerry on March 11th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Motorcycling

The gearsack was more than six years old and lately the zip had started to give way making it difficult to open and close, and the thing was no longer waterproof. It was time for a re-think. Armed with some birthday money I headed off to Joe’s Motorcycles in Fyshwick on the advice of a friend who had told me of some bargain priced hard top-cases to be had.

I looked at replacement bags and then saw a small top-box. It was more lunch box than top box. It may have been cute, but I couldn’t see a helmet AND jacket fitting in the way the gearsack did (oh so THAT’s why the zip gave way!)…

Underneath the small topcases was a larger model – the Rjays Super top box

rjays topcase
– a full 45litres and by trying in the shop found it fitted two helmets snugly inside. That’s a good start I thought and after parting with AUS$159.95 I took home the case.

It comes with a mounting plate and a set of four brackets with bolts to attach the mounting plate to the bike. I figured I would just cut down the gearsack rack to provide room for the lid to swing open.

After a bit of research online, it appears that there is a strong recommendation to have a pre-existing FLAT rack on which to mount the topcase. I decided on a different solution. The gearsack rack is built from square section steel, so I lined up the slots on the mounting plate with the non-structural in-fills of the rack and drilled two holes to fit. Then I used some longer bolts to fit the topcase mounting plate. I positioned the other two so the brackets would go between the rack in-fills and bolted the plate firmly down.

When I tried to position the topcase onto the mounting plate I found it was held apart by the uprights on the rack. So a little surgery with an angle grinder brought the rack uprights down to the level of the mounting plate.

I positioned the topcase on the mounting lugs and pushed it home. It felt solid for a second or two then popped off in my hands. Okay so it needs to be pushed home very firmly until there is a definite click.

The case looks neat, and feels secure, and at 45 litres it should hold a fair bit. I shall reserve judgement on whether or not it will need to be mounted more securely – ie whether it needs to be bolted to the mounting plate, but it’s designed to be able to lock securely on the bike, or to be removed quickly to use as a carry case. Good concept – like the BMW panniers. As I say, I hope the plastic clip holds it securely – if not I’ll bolt the thing permanently to the mounting plate.

Anyhow, it looks like a stylish piece of luggage and at one third of the price of some other brands, it’s a bargain! It should look good with the panniers in place for touring too. One nice touch is the elastic hold-down inside the topcase to stop stuff from moving around inside – nice touch.

rjays topcase
It weighs a mere 6 kg and measures 40cm front to back and 58cm across and top to bottom is 28cm. Did I mention it has a pillion backrest incorporated? In my case it’s probably mounted too far back for a pillion to use it comfortably, but for safety it’s always better for the pillion to hang on to the rider so the rider knows when the pillion is falling asleep.

Inside the cardboard carton you will find: the top box, the steel mounting plate, four brackets with bolts, a set of keys, and an almost useless sheet of instructions. But it’s easy enough to figure out and over the next few weeks Ill put it through its paces 🙂

[later 21 May 2007] In response to James’ comment below, I have included a couple of photos to show the carrying capacity – the yellow envelope is a standard A4 inter-office envelope – you could probably fit an A3 envelope in without bending it. – [Jerry]

rjays topcase

rjays topcase


Violin repaired – German Maggini copy

Posted by jerry on March 10th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Music

One of the best bits of news I received on my birthday was that my concert violin is fixed. Four cracks repaired, new bass bar, new end block – so it was fairly major. But worth it 🙂

German Magini copy violin

Let me tell you the story of this violin. In the early 1980s I was touring in the northwest of Western Australia, with the Mucky Duck Bush Band and we played a show at a mining town called Mount Newman. After the show a woman came up and said how she enjoyed my playing – and how it reminded her of her uncle who used to play. She then said that she had had her uncle’s violin for the past 20 years since he had passed away. And she said she’d like to give it to me so that it can be played again the way he played it. On one condition. I would need to have it rebuilt as the dry hot summers in Mt Newman had taken its toll and the plates had separated – it was in pieces!

I pointed out that I would be leaving for the next town early next day, but if she could bring it round I’d love to see it. And I thought nothing more about it.

The banging on my motel room door at 06:30AM woke me with a start and I quickly threw on jeans and tee-shirt and opened the door. And there was (as I recall her name) Mrs Richardson? Simpson? bearing a box. A quick glance at the double purfling and the inlay in the back convinced me that this could be something special. We shook hands warmly as I duly promised to have the violin rebuilt. I knew just the person – Scott Wise a then up and coming luthier – and very fine musician in his own right.

It was several weeks later that Scott phoned me and told me I’d better get down to his workshop. He wouldn’t say anything more. When I arrived he handed me a bow and the newly restored violin. I must’ve played it for an hour in his workshop before I could bring myself to put it down. The tone was amazing and very loud – as perhaps only a German violin could be.

It instantly became my concert violin – at least until the hardangerfiddle was built – but that’s another story – and from then on the concerts were shared between the two instruments.

German Maggini copy violin

German Maggini copy violin

German Maggini copy violin

German Maggini copy violin

The side decoration is consistent with 1870s-1890s (Arts and Crafts Movement), the single turn on the scroll is not characteristic of Maggini and there is a label on the inside of the top plate in German which doesn’t give a makers name, just a quote that translates loosely as: “joy comes to he who brings joy to others“. A delightful sentiment 🙂 The back is flamed maple, the front is spruce, and the belly swell is unusually deep, yielding a rich mellow tone. I’ll post an audio link soon so you can hear it too 🙂

If anyone can shed any further light on the maker of this fine instrument, or if you have a similar one, I’d love to hear from you.

One possible clue is an uncertain dating by a US violin shop that lists a similar violin one as ca1930s from a ‘sears’ catalogue! Again if anyone has info on the maker I ‘d love to hear from you 🙂

Maggini copy violin


Vale Jean Baudrillard 20 June 1929 – 6 March 2007

Posted by jerry on March 9th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Theory, Writing

French postmodern philosopher Jean Baudrillard died on my birthday, aged 77. He leaves us with a question he himself posed in 2004 in a paper he presented at the European Graduate School in 2004:

… When the referent no longer exists, can we still speak of an image?

Where Roland Barthes spoke of language as a mediation of the real, Baudrillard realised that the mediation is what we have access to, not the thing itself – and irrespective of whether or not the thing itself was actual. The world is richer for his having been, and poorer for his departure.

Jean Baudrillard
Jean Baudrillard at the European Graduate School, 2004

I still think his short book Simulations was his best work.


Plato and new media

Posted by jerry on March 8th, 2007 — Posted in History, Journal, New media, Technology, Theory, Writing

Plato, one of the first new media analysts was concerned about the then new technology of writing. And he understood the potential (and actual) pitfalls of this new operating system. The same has been true of all subsequent new technologies. Always there remains the need for a meta-helper – one who understands the new technology to help later adopters make full use of the new technology.

This wonderful skit on medieval helpdesk support to a new user switching from scrolls to folio books is truly one of the internet video classics!


There is a wonderful parable here that speaks to one of Plato’s greatest concerns with writing over face-to-face communication. And that is that when something is written you can no longer query it or interrogate it – a bit like the user manual in the video here.

Plato, writing between 411 and 406 BC in the Phaedrus noted five key concerns with new information technology:

  • Education will suffer because it presents information rather than promoting thought
  • Information security will be compromised
  • Authorship will be difficult to authenticate;
  • It will be nothing more than a shallow distraction, devoid of serious purpose; and
  • people will stop interacting with real people.

Quite prescient really when you consider the many criticisms of the internet and with web 2.0. His objections were raised almost 2500 years ago, but remain true today, and form the basis for the key themes of almost any information technology seminar whether about censorship or eLaw or online banking or copyright.

In popular discourse, the internet is often presented as a dangerous and anarchic space. At the heart of the arguments against the internet lies the issue of authenticity.

The point is that virtual communities, like SecondLife, are real communities that exist in a virtual space. But people are still talking to people, albeit mediated by computers. It is no different from peopletalking on telephones, excpt that the interface is different.

In addition, the real/virtual distinction breaks down because human idiscourse is already mediated through language and social conventions – we can no longer harken back nostalgically to a ‘state of nature’.

There’s a lot more about this in chapter 9 of my book Virtual States, but there are elements here that will form the basis for my next book – more on that later.

Thanks to Angela Thomas for the YouTube link (though I haven’t yet figured out how to embed it properly into my self-hosted WordPress blog) *sigh*.


Speech accent archive

Posted by jerry on March 7th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media, Writing

We deal so much on the web with visual literacy and linguistic literacy, but as direct oral communication gets easier on the web so much can be lost in translation – from English to English due to regional variation in accent. At George Mason University there is a great site for exploring an archive of accents from around the world.

speech accent archive

You can browse by region or via the world map and there are sound samples as well as a descriptive linguistic transcription. Fascinating site! Check it out 🙂

Thanks to languagehat for the link 🙂 and to Sharon for pointing it out to me
Thanks to