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Fri, 30 Dec 2005

Spud stacks and other cleat stories. - 22:03
I see Andrew is dealing with some of the problems we all face when we first start using clipless pedals. Sure eventually using clipless pedals becomes second nature and you do not even think about it, however for the first week or so in every new clipless pedal owner's life there are spud stacks, usually with an audience. Heck I remember one of mine, I had purchased a pair of Onza clipless pedals in Los Angeles and bought them home with me around January 1994. I bought a pair of shoes and went out riding, at a traffic light near Telopia park I pulled up, with some pedestrians watching and many car drivers able to see, and toppled over.

I am pretty sure every cyclist using clipless pedals you ask has some similar story or a few such stories. Interestingly Andrew's fall this time was caused by a loose cleat rather than forgetting to twist out, so he is probably doing better than many cyclists in remembering to use the pedals properly. I know the loose cleat problem is annoying, I did the majority of the 24 Hour race solo last year (2004) with a loose cleat, I had wondered why it had been so hard to get my left foot out of the pedals when I stopped, I did not actually realise I had lost a cleat bolt and that it was loose until the day after the race (I think that shows how out of it I was during the race), that and the broken front wheel axle definitely made the race more interesting...

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Wed, 28 Dec 2005

Making you stop and think again - 17:12
I just finished reading the book The Cuckoo's Egg by Clifford Stoll, it really does make you stop and think a bit. As a large part of net lore (100 greatest moments in Internet history article, a good read) I am somewhat surprised I had not come across this book in the past. The copy I read was loaned to me by a friend who is not a self proclaimed geek to a huge extent who had recommended it as a good read.

I should have been doing a lot of other things today but spent most of it reading the book, ahh well. As mentioned above it makes me stop and think, should I go and recheck my nagios setup, should I run some more log analysis tools, etc etc. Consider that this all happened back in 1986 and 1987, compare the scale of the Internet and the number of people behaving maliciously online back then to today and you start to wonder are you doing enough with security concerns?

[/comp/internet] link

Tue, 27 Dec 2005

Extending the Tuesday loop - 12:05
Most Tuesday mornings I head out with a bunch of other mountain bikers to do the Cotter/Uriarra loop on a road bike. This being the height of holiday season I expected there would not be many others there this morning. In order to avoid riding in the heat of the day I decided to head out early anyway. No one else rocked up so I headed off by myself with my mp3 player on, I decided to extend the loop a bit today as I did not need to be at work around 9am.

Last year when Allan was off work for a while he was trying to talk a bunch of us into doing Condor Creek during the loop, this is not really viable as it would have us returning to town around 8:30am rather than around 7:45am (an extra 10 KM with some climbing). However as I was able to do a choose my own adventure style ride this morning I went out to the end of the bitumen up past Condor Creek, then I also headed out to the end of the bitumen past Uriarra Crossing, and eventually returned to civic at 9am on the dot for a coffee and then home.

A most pleasant way to spend the morning, turning the cranks over by myself, not pushing the pace at all.

[/mtb] link

Fri, 23 Dec 2005

My knees are safe again - 13:42
New RaceFace/SRAM drivetrain
New RaceFace/SRAM drivetrain (Full Size)
After trying to destroy my knees and hurt myself the other week, I finally got around to purchasing a new drivetrain for my hardtail. 2005 RaceFace Evolve XC cranks with an external bottom bracket with the axle attached to the left crank. SRAM PG970 cluster (SRAM finally for 2005 started releasing clusters with a 30 to 34 jump at the top rather than the silly 28 to 34 they used to have) and a SRAM PC991 chain.

I bought the chain at Mals for AUD $50, however the retail price for the crankset in Australia is over AUD $400 so I really could not bring myself to buy that here. The cluster costs around AUD $100 here, so I ended up ordering both cluster and crankset/bottom bracket from the US.

Universal Cycles had good prices so I tried them out. It cost me around AUD $250 for the crankset and cassette including shipping to Australia. They sent it out on Monday and it arrived at work today, considering this is the silly season that is pretty good. Now I will be able to ride the hardtail again next week, wheeeeee.

[/mtb/gear] link

Wed, 21 Dec 2005

Not so much pay for, more a case of implicitly support - 10:45
Lindsay Holmwood seemed to think I was suggesting schools pay for conference attendance, as nice as that would be, I was not really suggesting that. I know from long experience (parents were teachers, many of my friends are teachers) how pitifully underfunded schools are so would not imagine it is possible.

What I was suggesting is that if a student wishes to attend a conference being held during school time for a week, they should be encouraged by the school and allowed the week off with no penalty or problems. This is because requesting to attend a conference shows a lot of initiative, also of course the incredible knowledge gain available from a good conference. There is an issue of what is a good conference and what is not, however the pricing of contiki style conferences (3 day marketing thingy at the beach or similar, you know what I am talking about) are priced well out of the budget of students. Most of the good conferences however appear to be priced very well, especially for students. The two examples I gave of GUADEC and definitely fit the bill.

The problem as I see it is that a school, and possibly parents, would not realise the huge advantage a student would have knowledge wise by going to something like GUADEC for a week over a week of school.

[/lca] link

Tue, 20 Dec 2005

Students at conferences - 13:52
Yesterday I read something on p.l.o.a written by Pascal Klein, discussing a school student attending lca.

It seems obvious when you think about it, however if a highschool age student is in to Linux or related technologies and they are able to attend a nearby technical conference it should be encouraged by the school and parents. Whether the conference is, GUADEC or some other equally great open source related conference. The price is low, especially for students, and in one week of conference attendance a student will gain far more interesting and technical computing related knowledge than would be obtained in any highschool or similar I can think of in a few months.

For example Bdale Garbee's daughter Elizabeth attended lca2005, initially her school appeared to be a little upset at her missing the school time, however with subsequent good marks and probably increase in enthusiasm from lca I suspect they were convinced of the benefit.

[/lca] link

Mon, 19 Dec 2005

MTB Christmas Decorations - 16:52
Mountain Bike Tinsel
MTB Tinsel (Full Size)
Mountain Bike Snowman
MTB Snowman (Full Size)
For the Friday morning mtb ride last week I decorated my duallie as pictured on the left. Red duallie, all it needed was green tinsel. Oh and a snowman, because what is a mountain bike in the Australian summer without a snowman attached to it somewhere. Christmas Cotter/Uriarra loop is tomorrow so I ponder what to add to the bike for that.

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Thu, 15 Dec 2005

I have new feet! - 16:12
3M Rubber Stick on Feet
3M Stick on Rubber Feet (Full Size)
See my shoes did not fit, so I thought it might be easier to get new feet than new sho.... ahh who am I kidding it is not even a amusing attempt at being humorous, the title of course refers to my missing laptop feet.

This is largely to remind me where I got them, I first went to office works and they did not have them, I later found them for sale at the hardware store Bunnings. Now I think of it I recall buying the feet for my Pismo there also years ago. I got black rather than clear as they are cheaper, and really who wants to sit around admiring the see through feet on a laptop anyway?

[/comp/hardware] link

Wed, 14 Dec 2005

Lessons in drivetrain wear, again - 22:10
If you let your drive train wear out well past the point at which the chain should have been replaced, the cluster and chainrings also wear badly and eventually your drivetrain reaches the point at which the chain skips whenever much power to it.

The drivetrain on my hardtail was well past the worn chain point and into the realms of needing the cluster and chainring replaced also back in May. Today I paid the price for avoiding buying replacement equipment for so long. Every time I stood up or tried to accelerate fast on my hardtail today the chain would skip, on the instances when I was standing my knees made painful contact with the handlebars and on one occasion I almost crashed on bitumen while accelerating.

I guess I have been somewhat lay in replacing the equipment partly because I have two mountain bikes to ride, so I have not paid as close attention to wear on one or the other and to KM ridden. It is my normal experience that approximately every 5000Km on a mountain bike, if you are not replacing the chain more regularly, the chain, cluster and middle chain ring need replacing. Then every 10000Km (another 5000Km later) the same replacement is required but the large chain ring and probably the granny ring also will need replacing. Sure it is possible to avoid this by doing more regular cleaning and replacing chains more often, it is possible to get as much as 20,000 Km out of a cluster and set of chainrings on a mountain bike. I do not however hold to those rather stricter maintenance regimes.

Ahh well time I guess to buy a new drivetrain for the hardtail. The last time I had the knee pain induced by meeting the handlebars due to worn drive train was a few years ago, I had forgotten how much it can hurt.

[/mtb/gear] link

Fri, 09 Dec 2005

Blisters outside the comfort zone - 13:42
As should be expected, when I start doing a sports activity I do not do often, have not done for years or have never done before, things hurt. In this case, kayaking again for the first time in many years. As it was with getting back into running earlier in the year I hurt a lot after kayaking.

I have never done much kayaking or paddling in my life anyway, thus I do not have a particularly effective or efficient paddling technique. There is a lot more to paddling technique than simply sticking the paddle in the water and pulling back. Hopefully with more practice (so far only two one and a half hour paddles in the last few weeks) I will improve.

From last night I have sore shoulders and slightly sore upper arms plus blisters on my pinky fingers and on the inside of both thumbs to show for my efforts. Hopefully that adage about pain simply being weakness leaving the body will hold true in a while, I know it does for cycling to a large extent.

[/mtb] link

Thu, 08 Dec 2005

This is how warranties should be - 21:00
Almost a month ago Crash sent a link to this reallite warranty, absolutely hilarious. I wish more companies would show their sense of humour by putting a warranty such as this on their product.

All products should be warrantied against damage due to drop kicking them into the path of an oncoming run away train after all.

[/mtb] link

Thu, 01 Dec 2005

Open source cookie design attempt, what they missed - 17:44
Malcom Gladwell as is often the case can write a good article, this article I found linked from kottke concerns an attempt to develop a great diet cookie using a few different software development methodologies. On the whole the article is interesting to see an attempt at applying software development methodologies (eXtreme Programming, Cathedral, and Bazaar) to another problem space/industry. From my reading of the article I believe they misapplied the open source model to a large extent.

Gladwell is a great author and often writes interesting and entertaining articles as I have noted in the past on occasion, however coming from an open source geek perspective there are obvious points missed here that show how the open source methodology could have been better applied. For example the quote "Linus Torvald, the Norwegian hacker" shows two problems, Linus' surname has an s, and Linus originates from Finland. The guy who ran this multi methodology project, Steve Gundrum, got off on the right foot, talking with Mitch Kapor as to the viability of applying the open source methodology to this new problem space, however I would suggest the team established did not operate in the manner teams on successful open source projects tend to.

They established a team for the open source group by inviting 15 well known specialists in the related food industry to be involved and make suggestions that would be implemented by Gundrum's company. Asking these people to design the cookie in effect. During the project, when some arguments or difficulties arose there was no dispute arbitration mechanism or established way to make a final decision. Also no one was actually elected as a benevolent dictator, without one or both of those mechanisms I am not surprised the project suffered and many people involved came out of it not particularly happy with the results.

Using the Linux kernel as an example again I think a few things they missed are, lack of benevolent leader, a dispute arbitration mechanism based on something akin to show me the code, ie coming up with ideas or suggestions is not sufficient, it needs to be implemented, tested and proven to work in a satisfactory manner, also some specific specialising in areas may have helped, especially with such a large team. Looking at the goals of the project and dividing up components such that people who may better work on those aspects could have more control over them. However I think one of the biggest failings was the scratch an itch component of free software or passion for it. This project though possibly interesting to those involved was unlikely to inspire passion from them. A combination of technical ability and the passion for the project really does provide a lot of the groundwork for success in the open source world. Even those people paid full time to work on open source are generally still passionate about their work (Linus, Tridge, Rusty, Anton, etc).

The article does mention some of Joel Spolsky's (of Joel on Software) reservations about open source development, and admittedly they could be relevant, however they could also be disputed. The argument about lack of innovation and simply following the herd would be disputed I suggest by looking at the innovation happening in given problem spaces in open source. Some of the desktop software such as amaRok, f-spot or the gstreamer based Fluendo (admittedly this is a company, however it is open source development with Flumotion) are all doing things way ahead of and more interesting than other entries in that problem space worldwide. Sure there are problems that do not mix well with open source development, but a simple argument being made that there is no innovation in the open source would I think is quite narrow minded.

Looking at how close the open source cookie was in second place I suspect that with a better understanding of the methodology and applying it with a group of people that fit well to that mechanism would have somewhat improved results.

[/comp/design] link

Laptop feet go bye bye - 17:36
I just noticed a few hours ago that my laptop (dell x300) is missing two of the rubber stabilising feet on its base. When this happened to my pismo powerbook a few years ago I was able to purchase basic round rubber stick on feet and they worked. The feet on this dell are long thin bits of rubber. I need to have a bit of a look around OfficeWorks or similar to see if they sell feet that will work.

The laptop rattles a bit when I type now unless I have my palms resting next to the touchpad while typing, which is a slightly inefficient typing position and possibly damaging long term. I noticed the missing feet as one of them fell off, however somehow I lost it as I flicked it away before realising what I had just flicked away.

[/comp/hardware] link

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