Saturday, December 20, 2008

Another good reason for a netbook

Interestingly, many geeks like "slow" computers as much as they like the newest ones. One part of this is finding out just what will run on the slow one. In my case, I have been putting all sorts of things on my Dell Mini 9, and the newest thing has been OpenArena (open source version of Quake 3 Arena with Team Arena functionality) and my favorite game: Forsaken. I used to play this all the time when it came out in '98, and it works quite well on my Mini 9 with 2GB of RAM and Vista Ultimate. Also, I have an emulator on it thanks to my cubemate, and we play co-op Contra over a Bluetooth PAN (Personal Area Network) at work (he has a Mini 9, too). Colin Mcrae 2005 isn't that smooth on it, so there are limits to what the unit can do. However, nVidia plan on creating their own platform using the Intel Atom with a low power 2D/3D accelerator to replace the Intel graphics adapter that's part of Intel's Atom chipset. It might not run Crysis all that well, but the netbook platform uses a small display (1024x600 in my case) so most games will run great at that resolution with just a bit more power in the graphics department.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Score! Welcome my new G1!

LOL! I guess I should have posted this a while back, but the current Blogger app makes the drafts a little easier to see. ;-)

So yeah, the pre-order arrived, and I've had a bunch of Android devices (and some Windows Phone 7.x-8.x) since then. Using a Galaxy Note 2 and Nexus 7 (2013) right now.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Joined the Chrysler Customer Advisory Board

So, I got the invite to join.  The first useful thing I did?  Come up with a slogan for a new bumper sticker!  That's right America, I am guiding a large auto maker into a profitable new age with...a slogan.  But, I think it's a good one:

Chrysler - Bridging our heritage with your future.

Pretty cool, eh?  I come up with this stuff all the time.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

An Ode, to a Phone...

So, I ordered the T-Mobile G1 a few days ago. Yes, for $179 I will look just like a lot of those nerds who got the Sears Tele-Games console (yeah, my mother and step-father did just that, and this was later released as the Atari 2600) when it first came out. Sure, there are other options out there, but this is clearly the choice the ├╝ber-geek of today will want. Why do most want it? Well, it's new, it's (kinda) shiny, and it's different. Oh, and it's based on Linux, runs almost everything in Java, and is on a network that has historically been pretty open in the US; just recently they sent me a code to unlock my T-Mobile Dash for other SIM cards/carriers.

But, this is my blog, so why do I want it. Here's where it gets a bit, well, esoteric. I do love gadgets, and I like the newest things. However, I don't like buying the "same thing" more than once. A case in point would be my iPod. I had a 3rd gen iPod that I got for $499. It was very cool, had 40GB of storage, and would allow me to connect it to any Windows system to use it as a hard drive. I bought this when some people from Apple came out to my place of work to show me how OS X 10.2/.3 (beta) would work with Active Directory. Well, it didn't, but that's another story. I did, however, become infatuated with this little device. They didn't have the 3rd gen, but they had 1st and 2nd gen units, and I was amazed by the simple brilliance of its interface, along with the fluid function of the whole thing. So, I bought my own and used it.

Now, that unit had miserable battery life, and would frequently crash when it was in my jersey pocket during a ride, but I didn't hold that against it. Later, I bought an iPod interface for my Alpine stereo, and some other stuff. After a bit of time, I found that I was going to have to fly more often, so I got the iPod with Video (5G). Here is where things started to sour between me and Apple's consumer electronics mentallity.

I already didn't have much fun with Apple as a company, due to the most of the people I had to "work" with in getting their software to function in mega-scale, hardened, Windows environments. Over time, I saw this same refusal to understand their shortcomings, or even bother with simple patching. They would rather make the user (no matter what size that user might be in scale) wait for patches on their schedule, and many times those updates were simply called the new version of whatever it was you had to begin with. So, with the iPod 5G, there were several things they tweaked, but rather put all of them on the hardware that could use it via a software update, they gave us some of the things, and released a "5.5G" with everything. This also extended to their Directory management application, and rather than just fix it once and for all, it's been dragging along over the course of several OS changes. All the while, there is no admission of "fault" or "failure," rather a thin glossy veneer over the problems and big shining lights on whatever gimmick was being "added."

Oh well.

This process, as witnessed by many millions of customers, is what leads to/feeds the insance treadmill of product cycling that we do. What's that? Need a few tweaks here and there? Just replace the whole device. I have preferred the Microsoft and Open Source mentallity of "if it can run it, let it go." In my case, I had a 1.6GHz Northwood class Intel CPU that was overclocked to 2.4GHz and ran that for a while. Then, I eventually just got a 2.4GHz with a new motherboard. I ran at this speed for around 6 years. No multi-processor, multi-core, or even hyperthreading support. Just a single CPU. The last video card I bought was an ATi Radeon 2800 (I think), and that was in April of 2003. However, this system ran XP and later Vista just fine. In Apple's world, they would just rather you dump whatever you had and replace it every year or two. You know, to keep them employed. Or something.

Not me.

Here's where the phone part comes in. I kind of liked the iPhone at first, but I didn't care for the touch-only interface. I've had my T-Mobile Dash (as mentioned earlier) for two years now, I it's had one ROM upgrade from Windows Mobile 5 to Windows Mobile 6. It works pretty well, but it just isn't fast enough to run everything I like. Also, while I like the OS, it's clear that it is still carrying a lot of baggage from the PocketPC days (I had two of those from 2001-2003) and not quite as quick as it should be. However, it will still at least try to do just about anything that the hardware will allow. Want to overclock? Go for it, although it might not be stable. Bluetooth support? We do nearly everthing, including support Voice Command for application commands over BT. Web browsers? There are at least 5 different ones. Java? Yep, several JVMs are out there, depending on the ROM you get. After that, you can run any of over 100,000 or more applications (some might be touch only, which could suck depending on your device). Oh, and don't like the look of the QWERTY keyboard? No problem, there are probably 50 different handsets that sell Windows Mobile, and they have a variety of hardware configurations. After this, you still get support from Microsoft.

Apple? Well, you get their OS, with their hardware, on whatever network it might be chained to. Want applications? Well, if it's a flashlight app you need, you're in luck. Otherwise, you are only allowed to get applications from iTunes? Don't like iTunes? Oh dear... Any deviation, and Big Brother Steve Jobs will not love you anymore. So, drink the Kool Aid and stick with the iTunes ecosystem.

Android, along with the HTC G1, stand for something else. The first thing to stick out is the plethora of input options. Well, you get the capacitive (like the iPhone) touch screen. But, you also get a keyboard. And a track ball. And, an accelerometer. A compass. Bluetooth. Oh, and some hardkeys at the base. This unit has just about every type of input you can get. Communication? Well, you get the normal GSM GPRS/EDGE stuff, along with T-Mobile's brand of 3G (AWS). After that, you get WiFi and Bluetooth. Oh, and a lovely "enhanced" mini-USB connector at the bottom. You also get microSDHC for storage. What's more, nearly all of this crap is basic, standard stuff. So, in my case, I've sworn off devices that don't use USB/mini-USB connectors so I have a ton of cables and chargers for these things, and I even have a headset modified to use the mini-USB connector for audio (they didn't include a 3.5mm headset jack on there, but I'm OK with that).

The software is also a fairly standard, yet modular setup. For instance, while it's based on Linux, it runs all of the upper-level applications in Java. I like Java a lot, but I usually hate how poorly the stuff you see is coded, or how awful the JVM/JRE the apps have to run in are designed and implemented. Also, when a Google developer provided a coding example, he did it with Eclipse, which is a great open, and free, IDE. Most of this stuff follows Google's traditional model of form follows function, where things are streamlined. This provides for an initial experience that isn't awe-inspiring to most people, but brilliant to geeks who know what they are looking for. For example:

  • The notificiation area is brilliant. Basically, you can do whatever you want, and when a new email, text, voice mail, IM, or whatever comes up, you can read about it at the top of the screen and then just "drag" that down and see all the notifications that you've missed. You can also interact with them at their level (if it's a text, you can directly reply, or call/send and email) without bouncing around to various applications on the handset.
  • Multi "desktop" concept. You can setup two different views, with a home page using basic widgets, and two other spaces that have shortcuts or whatever else you like.
  • The concept of "intents." Basically, this allows the core apps, along with 3rd party apps, to "publish" functionality and allow other applications to tie into them. So, if wanted to play a huge game of tag, you could write an app that uses Google Maps for wide-scale navigation, then drops to Street View or using the camera, provides "targets" that are drawn relative to your position (using the GPS and compass hardware, along with the accelerometer for handset position). During this, you can send texts back and forth without leaving the application.
Of course, it isn't without its flaws. The Bluetooth API didn't get finished in time, along with some planned GoogleTalk API that may or may not come out in the near future. This means it will probably be missing BT sync/tethering, BT PAN, BT file/contact transfer, and maybe even BT stereo and AVRCP profiles. This sucks for me. It does, however, allow for some basic functionality like running multiple apps at the same time and over-the-air OS updates (rumored, but make sense) that the iPhone can't even be bothered with doing.

What I am really hoping for, however, is to keep a phone for 2 years and not feel like I am missing out so much to other handsets that are running the same OS. This has been happening with my Windows Mobile device, as it's just so slow. However, the upshot is that Windows Mobile does work on many things, and while it's a bit bloated (clearly) it does support a lot of hardware. Better yet, when new hardware is introduced (HTC and Samsung have different accelerometers) you can code support for it using their SDK. On top of this, a person wrote a unifying class to allow developers coding for accelerometer support to use one chunk of code to interface with differing hardware implementations. Windows Mobile allows for this, while Apple would rather you leave the most of the hardware out of it and code against Safari, its browser.

I expect Android to go even further than this, considering the open nature of the OS along with the Open Handset Alliance (hell, "open" is in its name!) should allow for better hardware integration along with backporting support of newer applications to older hardware. Couple this with more regular OS and SDK updates, using free/cheap tools that work well, and you have a huge platform begging to take over and expand. Let's just hope that it works out. For me, at least.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Garmin TCX to KML converter that works!

http://www.oe-files.de/oefiles/gmaps/tcx_to_kml_html

This works pretty well via the website, and I will try using the stylesheet template on my own for batch processing. Nicely done so far, but I might try to get more metrics to come up in Google Earth.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Vista 64 bit (x64) on the Dell Inspiron 530

So, I had to replace my regular system due to a power supply failure. In many cases, you would simply pitch the PSU in favor of a new, and preferably working one. Since the PSU in question was in a system consisting of an Intel 2.4GHz Northwood, this was a bigger problem. The CPU is so old (got it in 2003, I think, and it was "old" then) it doesn't even support hyper-threading, let alone the multi-core setups we have now. Getting a PSU that supports the older motherboard connections (including the secondary CPU power rails) and a ton of IDE power connections (I have no SATA items) wasn't something I wanted to deal with. Anything that would support that stuff would be cheap (I like getting nicer units, and those have gone to current power topology) and probably something I wouldn't feel confident in. Besides, who wants to put $50-$100 into a system that old?

Enter Dell, or rather www.roosster.com, and their cool deals. After a week of fiddling around with various coupons, I got the following:

  1. Intel Core2 processor Q9300 (2.50Ghz,1333FSB) w/Quad Core Technology and 6MB cache
  2. 4GB DDR2 SDRAM at 800MHz
  3. Dell USB Keyboard
  4. Dell Optical USB Mouse
  5. Video ready option w/o monitor
  6. Integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3100
  7. 500GB Serial ATA II Hard Drive(7200RPM)
  8. Dell 19 in 1 Media Card Readerincluded in Dell Bluetooth Package
  9. Microsoft Windows Vista SP1 Home Premium Edition, English
  10. Mouse included with Keyboard purchase
  11. Integrated NIC card
  12. No modem requested for Dell Dimension
  13. 16X DVD+/-RW Drive
  14. Roxio Creator 10 Dell Edition
  15. Integrated Audio
  16. No Speaker Requested
  17. Dell 19-in-1 Media Reader withBluetooth 2.0

Now, while I got Vista Home Premium, I already have licenses for Vista Ultimate and I wanted to put on the 64-bit version. This is desire is what caused me a few problems. It seems that the chipset may be crippled and limited to 4GB of RAM (a lot of RAM, but I wanted 8GB at some point) and seems to have setup this system for 32-bit OS only. Once I formatted it and installed Vista Ultimate x64, my life got a lot more complicated. The Dell website doesn't "officially" support 64-bit software and drivers for this system, even though the CPU (all 4 cores) do. Once I installed the OS, I needed the following:

  1. NIC driver (that's the most fun, since you usually can't get anything else until that's up)
  2. Chipset driver
  3. Video driver (even though it's embedded)
  4. Bluetooth module driver
I am going to throw up the links to get stuff started in case I need it again, and for those unfortunate others that are trying to do the same thing I did. So you know, the system is AMAZING with Vista x64 on it, and I run VMware Workstation 6 and virtualize Windows Server 2008, XP, and a Linux VM right now. It's great with 1080p video that I've downloaded (some movie preview), but I plan on getting PCI-e adapter with HDMI (and HDCP) support for my Samsung 4671 in the next few months.

NIC driver
Site http://outerheaven.c-reality.com/archives/96-Dell-Inspiron-530-Windows-Vista-64-bit-Driver-Pack.html
Binary location 1 http://cheapfilehost.com/file.php?file=f1e2ede8cae99a45c4cfd6248e567b5d
Binary location 2 http://www.filedropper.com/inspiron530vistax64driverpack

Chipset Driver
On CD, or get from Dell using 32-bit (x86), since it will also create a 64-bit directory

Video Driver
http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?agr=N&ProductID=2102&DwnldID=15843&strOSs=162&OSFullName=Windows%20Vista*%20Ultimate,%2064-bit%20version&lang=eng

Bluetooth Module Driver
On CD, or get from Dell using 32-bit (x86), since it will also create a 64-bit directory



Suprise! JD Power loves the Honda Fit

Or rather, the people that were interviewed do.

http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2008/autos/0806/gallery.2008_jdpower_apeal/2.html

Yay me.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Top 11 Most Pointless Celebrity Products

This was given to me at the beginning of class today, and now I pass it on to all (both) of you, my adoring fans:

http://www.cracked.com/article_15835_hulk-hogan-pasta-shaq-fu-11-most-pointless-celebrity-products.html

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Working around TCP/IP limits in Vista

I ran into an issue tonight where I had a torrent going, and even with the limited connectivity of it I started having problems streaming a movie to my XBOX 360.  Once I checked the logs, I saw a 4226 error regarding a limit to TCP/IP connections.  What's strange is that I don't recall having such an issue with WinXP Pro SP2, and I was downloading a lot more stuff.  I've found this, but haven't tried it yet.

http://www.mydigitallife.info/2007/04/09/windows-vista-tcpipsys-connection-limit-patch-for-event-id-4226/

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Like Top Gear?

Well, it's back this Sunday.  Which means it's back all over the world, this Sunday, via Torrent (www.finalgear.com).  However, if you feel like flexing your driving might, check out this game.

http://www.topgear.com/content/timetoburn/sections/games/

I saw it earlier, but didn't get around to posting it until the Top Gear newsletter hit my mailbox this morning.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

More stupid comments from me, about stupid things

So, you can't get enough of me but you're not sure where to go.  Fret not, as you can simply go to my Engadget profile and see what I've posted about.  You will be the envy of, eh, forget it.

http://www.engadget.com/profile/1272955/

Monday, June 02, 2008

Honda loves your dog, and money

http://www.honda.co.jp/dog/

Right, so I can't read it either, but over here
(http://www.autoblog.com/2008/05/31/honda-goes-to-the-dogs/) they have
a write-up covering what it's about. It seems they drafted up this
site to show Honda's current (and prospective) owners how they can
load up their vehicles efficiently with pets, and how to clean the
vehicles when things go all pear-shaped. Pretty cool.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

So, I took the Fit for an Autocross



Today's the day I took the Fit out for a spin, but not just any old drive: I went to an autocross. The event was at an old airport, and we ran on the concrete apron. Sadly, while I used to be quite competitive with my WRX in STX (even winning overall with PAX) my Fit and I are hopelessly outclassed while the Fit is in H-Stock (HS). I have no reason to believe that R-comps would have made that much difference on this course, as the brakes performed wonderfully even with street tires.

All that stated, the Fit is absolutely amazing while going through slaloms and offsets, and handles pivots (sharp hairpins) incredibly well. The only real issue is just that it's slow. Very, very slow. Body roll was noticeable, but not terrible since the car didn't generate enough speed to make it excessive.

Since this is the Sport version with the automatic, I get the super-cool paddle shifters. These worked amazingly well and were very quick. The only thing you have to do is stay aware of requested downshifts to make sure it was able to complete them. What is cool is that you can shift into first when it's ready (and it's got a wide tolerance) and if it didn't make it you can downshift again as you exit (or while you're still turning the wheel). I saw a review complaining about the shifters being attached to the wheel and how one can be "confused" or find it "hard" to find the right paddle while spinning the steering wheel. I didn't find any problem with it, as the wheel has a profile to it and paddles have different patterns behind them to denote one from the other. Suffice to say it wasn't a problem for me. :-)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Getting MP4 files to stream to Xbox 360

This has been out for a while, but to keep myself from having to search for it every time I update a system, I figure I will put the info here. So:

Xbox 360 Dev team blog with DivX/XviD update:
http://blogs.msdn.com/xboxteam/archive/2007/11/30/december-2007-video-playback-faq.aspx

How to register and stream MP4 files:
http://a8t8.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!2518DD508BB713E8!156.entry

The regkey info (32-bit Windows):
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.mp4]
"PerceivedType"="video"
"Content Type"="video/mp4"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.m4v]
"PerceivedType"="video"
"Content Type"="video/mp4"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.m4a]
"PerceivedType"="audio"
"Content Type"="audio/mp4"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Multimedia\WMPlayer\MIME Types\video/mp4]
@="mp4file"
"UserApprovedOwning"="yes"
"Extensions.SpaceSep"=".mp4 .m4v"
"Extensions.CommaSep"="mp4,m4v"
"Extension.Key"=".mp4"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Multimedia\WMPlayer\MIME Types\audio/mp4]
@="mp4file"
"UserApprovedOwning"="yes"
"Extensions.SpaceSep"=".m4a"
"Extensions.CommaSep"="m4a"
"Extension.Key"=".m4a"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Multimedia\WMPlayer\Groups\Video\mp4]
@="mp4file"
"Description"="Includes files with .mp4 and .m4v extensions."
"Extensions"=".mp4 .m4v"
"FriendlyTypeName"="MPEG-4 Media File"
"MIME Types"="video/mp4"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Multimedia\WMPlayer\Groups\Audio\m4a]
@="mp4file"
"Description"="Includes files with an .m4a extension."
"Extensions"=".m4a"
"FriendlyTypeName"="MPEG-4 Media File"
"MIME Types"="audio/mp4"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Multimedia\WMPlayer\Extensions\.mp4]
"Permissions"=dword:0000000f
"UserApprovedOwning"="yes"
"Runtime"=dword:00000007
"PerceivedType"="video"
"MediaType.Description"="MPEG-4 Media File"
"Extension.Handler"="mp4file"
"Extension.MIME"="video/mp4"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Multimedia\WMPlayer\Extensions\.m4v]
"Permissions"=dword:0000000f
"UserApprovedOwning"="yes"
"Runtime"=dword:00000007
"PerceivedType"="video"
"MediaType.Description"="MPEG-4 Media File"
"Extension.Handler"="mp4file"
"Extension.MIME"="video/mp4"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Multimedia\WMPlayer\Extensions\.m4a]
"Permissions"=dword:0000000f
"UserApprovedOwning"="yes"
"Runtime"=dword:00000007
"PerceivedType"="audio"
"MediaType.Description"="MPEG-4 Media File"
"Extension.Handler"="mp4file"
"Extension.MIME"="audio/mp4"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\MediaPlayer\Player\Extensions\Descriptions]
"737"="MPEG-4 Media File (*.mp4;*.m4v;*.m4a)"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\MediaPlayer\Player\Extensions\MUIDescriptions]
"737"="MPEG-4 Media File"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\MediaPlayer\Player\Extensions\Types]
"737"="*.mp4;*.m4v;*.m4a"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\MediaPlayer\MLS\Extensions]
"mp4"="video"
"m4v"="video"
"m4a"="audio"

President Bush, Science Decider in Chief

Our oh-so-brilliant Commander in Chief, is apparently quite brilliant with science stuff. It seems that when scientists think of something that might cause someone(s) with a lot of money a bit of grief, he will step in and save the day. Or not. First, this humorous account of what happened in March:

http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/jwalke/science_decider_in_chief.html

And an article that came up today on Truthout:

http://www.truthout.org/article/bush-definition-transparency

I do like that they can also create alternate definitions of common terms to suit themselves. Sweet.

Pledge to download Firefox 3 on opening day, go down in history

Sure, you might already be rolling a beta/RC of Firefox 3 (I am), but join the rest of us dorks and try to set a world record for downloads. This should be good.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Why didn't ours come like this?


Now that is a nice front end. The 2009 looks similar to this, but I think it's limited to the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) and the rest of the world will get the 5-star, pedestrian-friendly extended front end. Boo.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

More about the 2009 Fit

2008 JDM Fit2009 USDM Fit

I love my car, but that has already been covered. Now, I loved the first pics of (what was thought to be) the 2009 Fit in the US. You can see them here:

http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drives/FirstDrives/articleId=122688#6



Now, the first picture above is the 2008 JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) Fit. Notice the relatively short overhangs, and in the article it includes telescopic steering and, I believe, automatic climate control. The second one, however, is at least the USDM if not "global" version of the Fit that's coming out for 2009. It (http://www.autoblog.com/2008/03/19/new-york-2008-2009-honda-fit/) has a much longer nose and a rear bumper extension that isn't even seen on the JDM unit. Now, in the UK, Europe, and Austral-asian region it might still get a telescopic steering wheel, automatic climate control, and some other stuff that they will pay for I don't believe that it will show up in the US. I would love the added features (and would pay for them) even if I had to keep the extra overhangs.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Meet my next new car, maybe...



I love my 2008 Honda Fit Sport. Period. However, there are a few things I would have liked in it:

1. Integrated navigation option
2. Integrated audio controls in the steering wheel
3. Integrated Bluetooth
4. USB connection support
5. A little more HP
6. A little better mileage
7. 16" wheels standard (although the 15" have been fine with my Sport)
8. Tweaking of the transmission's shifting performance when in normal automatic mode
9. Even more cupholders, since 5 just isn't enough

Well, it seems that the 2009 Honda Fit addresses all of these and more:

http://automobiles.honda.com/2009-fit/

Not only are these things addressed, but you get more storage and further integrated head restraints in the back seat so you don't have to take them out when folding them down. Now, the head restraint thing wasn't a big deal, but it's still a nice little tweak. So, if Honda would just add ethanol support I will gladly trade in the Impreza for one. These are great cars.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bike fitment, saddle height, and knee strain

So, having a better idea of what's going on with my knees, I am searching for more information on proper saddle height. Granted, most information is based on road bikes, with mountain bikes being more upright, but it should be a good place to start.

Size chart
http://www.prodigalchild.net/Bicycle6.htm

Dave Moulton's blog post on sizing
http://davesbikeblog.blogspot.com/2006/02/different-thought-on-frame-sizing.html

As I find more stuff, I will add it. Although I might just create more posts. Who knows...

A new toy


I bought a 14' trampoline today. And yes, it's awesome. I think I figured out my knee issues, and it appears to be a problem with stabilizing my patellar tendon (and thus patellar tendinitis). I found a small brace that wraps beneath my knee, and tried it on. It worked immediately, so I got two of them. In about 15 minutes, I developed a dull ache at the bottom of my quadriceps just above my knee, and it settled down over time. I tried another brace at the same time, and liked it more, but it was around $40 (and I wasn't sure it was worth it) and I wouldn't be able to wear it under pants that well.

So, what does this have to do with a trampoline? Well, I went to this store (Big 5) to check out the trampoline yesterday, and found these braces. I was thinking about getting a trampoline for my daughter and I play on, and for me to start developing more stamina and flexibility without further shock to my knees. When I went to pick up the trampoline today, and bought the bigger brace and fell in love with it. This brace will not slide or rotate, keeps my knee warm, and still gives me a good range of movement while being snug. I was able to assemble and screw around on the trampoline (about 5 hours) without issue from the brace. So far, so good. I hope this will let my tendons recover and tolerate shock while riding.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Newsflash: UK Gets First Drive-Thru Starbucks, Finds No Cupholders In Cars

http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/news/autoexpressnews/221799/stop_for_coffee_on_the_go.html

So, Starbucks just opened its first, yes first drive-through coffee shop in the UK. In fact, this appears to be the first for the whole of Europe, and it's a "pilot" for them right now to see how this is received. Now, for most people in the US this would be laughable, considering how many already exist in the US. We have all sorts of drive-through places, so coffee is a requirement in this country. And, speaking of requirements, this is why we have so many cupholders. This is also why people get annoyed with having small cupholders when the "medium" size sodas (you know, 32oz.) won't fit. My Honda Fit has 2 cupholders in the front so large they hold my Gerolsteiner and San Peligrino 1 liter bottles with ease. In addition, I have 3 more, 2 of which are in the rear doors and they hold .5 liter bottles of Arrowhead water and most other bottles as well.

This is where the US and the UK/Europe see things differently. I am a fan of Top Gear, and on that show they make fun of the US (a lot, but along with every country) and one key thing is our "need" for cupholders. Many of the cars they test, along with Fifth Gear, don't have many cupholders and the ones that do aren't that big normally. I for one will love to see how many UK/EU spec car owners are going to get annoyed with the idea of getting drinks but not having a (or enough) place for them. Granted, I believe that the cost of owning and operating vehicles there tends to keep them from even wanting to drive long enough to warrant eating and drinking in the cars, but the commute could become a lot more interesting if these drive-through facilities take off. Or not.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A new addition to...my blogroll

R-Squared Energy Blog
http://i-r-squared.blogspot.com/

I saw this referenced by a commenter to The Truth About Cars blog, and so far it looks pretty good. The reference was to this post that covers a gasification process to produce biofuels. Check it.

http://i-r-squared.blogspot.com/2008/05/visit-to-new-choren-btl-plant.html

Monday, May 12, 2008

2 Attacks of the Flu, Are You Kidding?

Right, so I just got off of my second flu. First, I got sick in January with what I thought was the flu, as I had joint pain and fatigue, but I think that was some sort of sinus infection. I got a steroid injection, some pills, and off I went. Next, I got the REAL flu in the middle of April and was stupid sick for 3 or 4 days, and drained for nearly a week after that. I started riding again and getting better, and then my daughter came down with the flu last Weds/Thurs and she shook it off in a day. Then, my wife came down with it halfway through last Saturday and was really miserable. It appeared that my wife developed what I had, while my daughter had a weaker strain, but that's unlikely.

Now, the fun part. I came down with another fun flu yesterday. I was in extreme pain and felt like my spinal column (along with all my other joints) was trying to explode apart. I was able to get my super awesome friend (I doubt she's reading this, but we'll call her "Lotus" for now) to come over with some food and Gatorade. The pain was so bad I almost called for an ambulance, and I needed someone at the house that could take care of my daughter in case my wife and I were both taken to the hospital. Fortunately, while Lotus was here, my fever started backing off and after another couple of hours I was able to move around a little bit. I was up until 0245 because I wasn't sure I could even sleep

Well, I did. I first got up at 0630, was pretty confused, and went back to sleep. I got up at 1230 and was fine, except for the dire need to get red beans and rice from Popeye's. After a trip to there, I was (and still am) completely exhausted. I think I'll be fine for this Friday's night ride, along with rides this weekend. But it does make me wonder one thing: Why did I bother getting that stupid flu shot in the first place?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Jackass driving car tries to wipe out cycling pack, in Australia

http://www.velonews.com/article/75979

Strangely, where I ride in AZ I don't run into (or, more importantly, get "run into") by these problems. I guess it's a combination of the areas I ride, the typical driver, and how I ride. In AZ, you can ride 2 abreast on road as long as you maintain a reasonable distance to the curb (kerb) or edge of the road. I typically don't ride a "full" 2 abreast, but will just overlap to some degree with the rider in frontof me. Granted, wheel overlap can be problematic depending on the skill of the riders involved (the better rider at the back) and the speed, but I don't worry about conversation (primary reason for close proximity) when doing much more than 28mph.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A really, really cool function for Google Reader: Share with Note

Now, anyone that knows me, or has been following my shared items gadget knows that I like to share stuff in Google Reader. A lot. However, there are times that I would like to share something, but also tack on an explanation as to what the hell I was thinking when I found the "New ways to restrain a goat, in bed" post so interesting. Well now, I can do this without fear of PETA hunting me down. Again. Even if I still found their use of a "restraining order" a bit counter-productive to their claims...

NiN has given me The Slip

So, with 24 hours being an eternity in web-terms I must be one of the slowest people I know. Of course, being this slow, it could be I will only know other slow people and, much like the relative speed of light, everyone will always appear to be faster...

In any case, Trent and crew over at NiN have seen fit to release their whole album now, for free, on their website. You get LAME encoded MP3, FLAC, Apple Lossless M4A, and high-res WAV files. The MP3s get immediate download links, while the others are torrents. I read a comment from minntc that The Slip is pretty good, and I have another 30 seconds for the download to complete before I can verify this claim.

http://dl.nin.com/theslip/signup

Monday, May 05, 2008

NASA sends Student Driver to Moon, leaves certificate for all

What's that? Your greatness still hasn't been immortalized in bronze by those who should be grateful to be stepped on by you? Do you feel the need to oppress others with your legacy by having it spin in orbit, so you can always "look down" on others? Then I have the site for you. Simply go here, read, look for another link, click on stated link and if you're lucky you'll get to a page that let's you enter your name to be inscribed on future space debris; you know, the kind that we'll have to shoot down in 100 years...

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/main/index.html

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Specialized Rules! And Crank Bros are good, too...

So, I had an interesting ride with the Moab yesterday. I took it out for a light ride, and used my Crank Bros. Eggbeater MXR pedals. Now, I got these a little while ago, but had 2 rides on them before this (one each on a Cannondale CAAD2 mountain bike, and on the Surly Cross-Check) and decided to throw them on the Schwinn for a ride up and down Garden Canyon Wash. On the way back, I was surprised to have my left foot fly out, only to find that my pedal had unscrewed itself from the XT crank arm. Awesome. The bearings in the pedal (such as they are) seized up so I wound up spinning the threads out. I took off my shoe, and screwed the pedal back into the crank arm with the pedal still clipped-in (try yanking the pedal off with no leverage; it's entertaining). When I took off my shoe, I found that one of the soccer-style cleats broke off, and the other had the nut (mounted to the shoe) come loose and left it to rattle around on the nose of the shoe. This, coupled with stitching coming undone, and another nut-mount that came loose made me thing I was going to have two things to warranty. I tightened the pedal, again, with an allen wrench and carefully rode back home.

This morning, I went to the shop (Sun 'n Spokes) and told them what happened. After a bit of a laugh, I got a new pair of shoes (pictured) and upgraded to the Eggbeater SL after giving them my old ones. The upgrade was due to them being able to warranty the old ones and get fresh ones in exchange, hence a zero-out in stock. I have the Eggbeater SL on my Stumpy and have never had an issue.

With this, I will continue to pimp out Specialized stuff (I've had to warranty some arm/knee warmers, a saddle, and a saddle bag; never an issue) due to great issues. Also, I will continue to recommend the Eggbeater SL but will probably not be such a fan of their cheaper pedals. At least their warranty support has been great from what I've heard, and this situation worked out for me.


Posted by ShoZu


Friday, May 02, 2008

Finally took a pic of the Stumpy, but...



It's crap! I will dig up (or take) better pics tomorrow. I know, I know; likely story...

Posted by ShoZu


Nero Recode 3 for the Xbox 360

http://www.nero.com/enu/index.html

My friends know that I like to convert video for portable media players. I started doing this for my 5G iPod Video, and now I have an Insignia Pilot. I liked using Recode 2 (comes with Nero Ultra 7) to make a video file at 320x240, or some derivative that worked within the "divisible by 16" requirement. Later, Apple updated the iPod firmware to support video up to 640x480 I started making videos that I would later use to play on the Xbox 360.

In Dec 2007, the Xbox team updated the 360 firmware to allow even more playback support. This included DivX, XviD (MPEG 4, Part 2 Video with MP3 or AAC) along with h.264 (MPEG 4, Part 10 Video with AAC audio). These can use AVI and MPEG 4 containers, but with different rules.

http://blogs.msdn.com/xboxteam/archive/2007/11/30/december-2007-video-playback-faq.aspx

Now, the bummer for me is that while I could use one application to make one video for two players (the iPod and Xbox 360) I can't really do that anymore since the Pilot doesn't support MPEG 4 Part 10, nor AAC audio. In addition, it will only go up to 320x240 in resolution and I don't want to use that on my 46" Samsung LCD.

Since this is what I've got to work with, I decided to make a high quality "master" video of a DVD using h.264 (Ahead calls this "Nero Digital AVC", while DivX/XviD/MPEG 4 Part 2 is simply "Nero Digital") and, if I really like the audio, I'll use 5.1 AAC to keep all of the AC3/Dolby Digital tracks but compress. On a side note, Recode 3 will let you use MP3 or AC3 (keeps the audio and just mixes it with the video in the MPEG 4 container) with Nero Digital, and AAC or AC3 with Nero Digital AVC. However, Recode will only spit out these videos in MPEG 4 containers, and not AVI. So, keep this in mind when you create videos for the Xbox 360 as it will only understand AC3 audio if using MPEG 4 Part 2 video and an AVI container; simply renaming the file isn't enough as I have found out.

To get this file converted for my Pilot, I use iriverter with the Creative Zen config, at 320x240. I use no more than 768k video and 192k audio. These settings have worked fine even with 5.1 channel AAC audio in the "master."

http://iriverter.thestaticvoid.org/

So, to convert "One Missed Call," I used Nero Digital AVC with around 980kbps video and 192kbps audio (you can go down to 160kbps and it will still be quite good, but I keep it a bit higher in case of further conversion with iriverter). Doing this, the 1.5 hour movie was less than 700MB and fit on a CD. The result looks quite good on my HDTV. I am still working on "enrolling" the mp4 extension in Media Player 11 so I can simply stream it from my laptop/desktop to my Xbox 360. More information on that is in the blog link, but requires 3rd party add-ons.

Once I get the specifics, I'll update this.

Journey to Forever, a case study in self support

http://journeytoforever.org/

They have very interesting projects that they perform at sites around
the world, but I find their BioFuel page very interesting:

http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel.html

It's worth a read.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Anatomy of a Racecar Driver

Yes, racing is a demanding sport and requires more strength and coordination the faster you go and change direction. But, this is still pretty cool:

http://www.wired.com/special_multimedia/2008/pl_motor

My Stumpy

Well, since I put the Schwinn up here I might as well put my Stumpy here.

Large, Blue, SJ FSR, fsr technology, M5 manipulated alloy frame with Transform monocoque TT, sealed cartridge bearings, disc compatible, 120mm travel, replaceable derailleur hanger, two sets of water bottle bosses
Fox Triad
Fox Talas RL, 100-140mm, rebound, compression adj, LO, alloy ST
Specialized 3D forged CNC machined, 4 bolt, 31.8mm OS clamp, 8 degree rise
Easton - EC70 CNT MonkeyLite Carbon Bar, Hi Rise, 31.8mm clamp diameter
Oury Lock-On
FRONT BRAKE Avid Juicy 7 hydraulic disc, S/M 185mm, L/XL 203mm, polygon rotor
REAR BRAKE Avid Juicy 7 hydraulic disc, S/M 160mm , L/XL 185mm, polygon rotor
FRT DERAILLEUR Shimano M-580 LX, 34.9mm clamp, top swing, dual pull
REAR DERAILLEUR Shimano XT Shadow
Shimano M570 LX 9spd shifters
Shimano XT, 9spd, 11/32
Shimano M-760 XT Hollow Tech II, 2-piece crank/BB
22A/32A/44A with Shimano Dura-Ace chain, XT BB
Crank Brothers Eggbeater SL
Mavic Crossmax SL Wheelset
Specialized Eskar, 2.3 tires run tubeless, using Stan's to set them up, and Specialized Air-Lock afterward
Specialized Phenom 143 Saddle on
Thomson 30.9 x 400mm seatpost
Salsa Lip Lock 34.9mm clamp ID, Blue

This is a rocky trail



When I "talk" (such as it is) with others on forums and try to tell them how rocky our trails are, they state theirs are just as harsh. However, this is rarely the case, so I took this picture to explain what we consider "rocky." There are much worse sections, but this gives others a better idea of what I am talking about when setting up tire and shock pressures.

Posted by ShoZu


3rd in race, last to know what's going on

So there I am, lost as to what to do. I'm the one on the right, with the white jersey staring off into space. The one on the top step is Jon, who I've been riding with since the first time I lived in AZ. I was sick a couple weeks before the race for a few days, and the week of the race I tried getting some mileage in. If I would have been able to ride, I think I would have had second. Maybe next time. Or not.
Posted by Picasa

Savannah going for a ride


Savannah has been in love with horses for a while, and she's been to a "class" for a few weeks. While she isn't old enough for formal instruction, she does get to do a lap while her friends are taking lessons.
Posted by Picasa

New (to me) bike

This is the Schwinn Moab I just got.

Schwinn Moab 1, Red (I guess it's a large, but it's a great size whatever it is)
2004 Marzocchi Marathon SL (currently 45psi in both positive chambers, and 200psi in the negative)
Shimano Deore hubs with Sun Rhynolite rims
Shimano XT Cranks FC-M752
Shimano XT shifter/lever combo ST-M750
Shimano XT Rear Derailleur
Shimano XT Front Derailleur
Shimano LX Cassette (9-Speed)
Specialized Low-Rise bar (31.8mm)
Oury Grips
Specialized Pro-Set MTB 90mm 12* (static, uses sleeves)
Specialized Phenom Gel Saddle
Specialized Mag-Pro flat pedals or Crank Bros EggBeater MXR
Generic Seat Post
Shimano Deore V-Brakes BP-M420
CST Cheyenne 2.1 Tires

I have had a couple rides on it, but only out front of the house. So far, so good. I don't see myself taking it on many of the rocky rides I do since I can't stand on the pedals for very long (if at all) thanks to my super-fun knees. However, the fork tuning seems to be coming along quite well, although I will be fiddling with the negative air chamber pressure a bit more.

I am waiting for a Specialized Pro-Set MTB 90mm 12* stem to come in. I thought I was getting it with the bike, but the box had the wrong stem in it. So, Shane at Sun 'n Spokes is letting me keep this stem (provided I don't mess it up) while we wait for the correct one to come in.

OK, this is a cool ride


http://um.puma.com/

Check out the glow-in-the-dark paint job of the PUMA GLOW RIDER. Oh, and they have some bad-ass shoes too.

Lazy, lazy, lazy...

Yeah, this is one happy, but sleepy dog.

back online?

maybe it is time to start using this thing. I finally got a new battery for my Dash, so it is nice and stable now. I bought and sold a Surly Cross-Check, and now have a Schwinn Moab that I got used. More stuff to come. Maybe.