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Fri, 29 Dec 2006

Wee Jasper on the road bikes - 11:27
In preparation for the Alpine Classic (to ensure it is comfortable to complete rather than painful) a bunch of us went for a "lovely"? long road ride from Canberra to Wee Jasper and back yesterday. Crash's recollection suggested it was fairly flat and around 70 KM each way, I guess this is almost accurate as there are no individual long sustained climbs, and it is about 74 KM each way from the start point at Deeks Drive. However if you take into account the extra 14 KM each way to and from home and the fact that added up there were 2300 metres of altitude gain during the ride the claim of it being flat and sort of easy becomes more dubious.

What the ride definitely showed me is I really need to do a lot of work in the next month to ensure I am ready to have a comfortable Alpine Classic, I do not have enough long road KM in my legs currently to do something like that without pain and extreme effort. The ride yesterday was however a lot of fun even though it was tough. We left at 9am (leaving home at 8:30am) and got back to Deeks around 5:30pm, at which point Ron had called his wife Annie for a pick up to avoid the last 15 KM home so I also got a lift home with them to leave the ride distance at around 160 KM for Ron and I.

Riders on the day were Simon, Crash, DeathMarch, Darryl, Ron, and I. Simon was as always very strong, Darryl appeared to be getting stronger as the day wore on also and DeathMarch did an astounding job of it considering he has only been riding again for a week now and has been mostly not riding for the last year. The hamburgers at Wee Jasper were indeed some of the best I can imagine ever tasting, as we told a local, we heard they were good so rode from Canberra for a hamburger. There were a few more sections of dirt road than I had thought, one I knew for sure was on Fairlight Rd before we hit Mountain Creek Road, then another I had forgotten on Mountain Creek road not long after we turned on to it. Then about 5 KM of dirt on the way down to Wee Jasper just before the fun final descent down to the township, apparently this used to be about 10 KM so it had improved already. As we were on road bikes with 23c tyres the dirt was somewhat tough at times, there were 4 or 5 punctures in the group (fortunately I did not get any) and the stutter bumps on the first section of dirt were rather pronounced and harsh.

The ride is highly recommended though, a lot of fun was had, it is a little unfortunate I forgot to tell Tony or Hugh about it, however they may have found it fairly tough.

[/mtb] link

Unexploded softdrink - 11:22
When I got home from a 160 KM road ride yesterday I put a bottle 1.25 L bottle of flavoured mineral water in the freezer to cool off while I drank a bottle already cold from the fridge. I subsequently forgot it was in the freezer until this morning. Just now I had a look to find it was in the freezer, solid, but unexploded, neato, the amount of soft drink, for whatever reason, did not cause the bottle to explode when it froze solid. Just goes to show absent mindedness is not always as bad as it could be.

[/various] link

Tue, 12 Dec 2006

Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging - 12:00
So no photos, and possibly not directly about milk cartons, though there is mention of printing information other than missing person details on milk cartons in this story. Kottke had a link to a news story about the US Dairy Industry Crushing an Innovator who tried to get around the entrenched milk price fixing system in the US.

Maybe it is because I am a West Wing junkie or maybe it is because it is just interesting to see some of the ins and outs of the system over there, but it is a fascinating read into US politics as they relate to milk (and subsequently milk cartons (to tie in with this post)).

It does definitely seem the various big companies in the US Dairy industry have a lot of money to throw around, thus I am not surprised the guy who owns is holding out for serious offers to buy the domain only and is otherwise happy to use it for his own purposes. Good on him.

[/various/milkcarton] link

Thu, 07 Dec 2006

Not worried about the scratches showing. - 14:39
So I competed in the AROC Brindabella Challenge Adventure race on Friday night last week with Andrew Rowe and Bruce Luckham, then yesterday afternoon I competed in the AROC corporate challenge with Danielle Winslow and Jeff Howell.

Both of those races were a heck of a lot of fun, short enough that it does not really hurt to get through them, a lot of interesting and different legs. In the Friday night race one of the checkpoints was at Jamison Pool and we had to go down the water slides three times in order to collect the control. The race yesterday had a few more of the novelty legs than most of the races, such as building a billy cart form parts in a pile on the ground and pushing a team mate around a track without them touching the ground or the billy cart collapsing.

As much fun as the long races such as 24 hour adventure races (Geo Half or the Full I guess) or similar are, they take a lot of time to commit to, these shorter races are easier and still a fantastic way to spend a few hours. Though there are side effects, because in a short race you want to move fast and wearing gaiters simply would not make sense (over heating, and really not much time spent scrub bashing), thus when you do a bit of scrub bashing you are likely to acquire new scratches on your lower legs.

People are used to my legs being scratched to heck, and it does not really matter what they look like, however outside just now I had to pull my socks up high and look all preppish so as to cover the bloodied scratches and stop flies congregating on my lower legs. At least I do not have to worry about what attire I can get away with if my legs are too scratched, Danielle was pondering if she could still wear a skirt to work after the race last night due to scratches. Though if I were pondering the choice of wearing a skirt to work there would be more significant things going on in my psyche than being worried about the odd scratch <g>.

[/mtb] link

Mon, 04 Dec 2006

I wonder where that email notification is - 18:28
Nice to know that the early bird registration for lca2007 I made will have a 10 day payment window once they inform everyone who registered for early bird by email that we can pay.

I wonder when they will contact people and tell them they can pay? Not everyone who has registered will read blogs, nor will they all be hitting reload on the conference website every few hours, it is nice to know we gave our email addresses with our registrations for a reason. At this rate I at least will not have to get my boss to enter credit card details until the 14th of December at the earliest....

Yes this post is somewhat tongue in cheek, however I am entirely convinced they need to honour their 10 day window from the time of notification by email.

[/lca] link

Singlespeed/Fixed Road bike, the new N+1 - 17:36

Single Speed/Fixed Road Bike (fullsize)
Yet another N+1 happened on the weekend. In this case a single speed/fixed gear road bike. With the option of a freewheel on one side and fixed the other side of the back wheel.

I put a few photos and words about this bike up on a Fixie/Singlespeed Road bike page. I have not yet ridden it in fixed wheel mode, and I am not game to ride it around Cotter/Uriarra tomorrow morning, I will probably take it on the Bilbys Road ride on Wednesday morning though.

[/mtb/gear] link

Fri, 01 Dec 2006

Reasons to use quality patches. - 14:05
Generally I purchase tube patches for bicycle inner tubes in strips, the Cure-C-Cure weldtite brand patches that most shops here sell in strips for around AUD $2 or $3 for 6 (in various sizes).

Recently however I wanted to repair a few tubes sitting in my office (though I wonder why I bother these days when I can purchase 10 tubes or around AUD $30 from a number of places) and did not want to ride over to a bike shop, so I purchased a bunch of dodgy round orange and black patches from the on campus bike shop. No name standard looking patches.

Guess what, they really do not bond well, I did everything as I should, scouring the surface of the tube, applying a thin smear of glue to both surfaces, letting it almost dry, applying the patch and waiting for it to dry for over 24 hours (with some pressure on each patch point). I went to use two tubes I had repaired with the dodgy patches yesterday and both were leaking out the side of one of these rather large patches, obviously the patch rubber had not bonded properly with the tube rubber. Ahh well buy new tubes, toss these and remember to get and use quality patches next time.

[/mtb/gear] link

Tue, 28 Nov 2006

Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging - 15:26

Dutch Milk (fullsize)
The milk is back, well actually the carton is back, there is no real proof that it currently contains milk. Who knows with the beer near by it may be a beer carton. (I leave it as an exercise for the viewer to work out which of the containers is more likely to contain which liquid under common circumstances).

[/various/milkcarton] link

Fri, 24 Nov 2006

Messed up fines - 12:15
My sister arrived last night in town on a Murrays bus from Sydney (it is my birthday today and she has come down to visit for a few days), about 10 minutes before I was due to pick her up off the bus I got an SMS saying she would be an hour late. Fine I thought, probably due to some traffic control issues on the Federal Highway near Collector where there were fires blocking the highway in the middle of the night on Wednesday night. However the fires were under control to the extent that traffic was not impeded, the reason for her bus being late was far more unusual.

The police were doing drug searches of all busses and trucks on the highway up near Goulburn, no idea why, maybe they had a tip off, or maybe they just wanted to use police resources there for some reason. Anyway the drug dogs sniffed around the luggage and all the passengers on the bus which took a while. The messed up part is what happened to one German backpacker. Jane mentioned the dogs had singled him out for some reason, so the police questioned him for a while. However in the end he did not have any drugs or evidence of drugs on his person or in his luggage. However they found a swiss army knife in his luggage (carry on luggage) and gave him a spot fine of AUD $550 for that and confiscated the knife.

So apparently the terms and conditions on the ticket may have some clause about no concealed weapons to be carried on your person, though it is not possible to find this anywhere on the Murrays website, the terms and conditions on purchasing a ticket make no mention of such clauses, it may simply be in some public transport law the police claim to be adhering to.

I personally think it is somewhat dodgy to fine someone and confiscate possessions, sure there may be some good reason the Police dogs went for this guy, however with no way to convict him on the spot it is a bit rough to fine him for someone I am fairly sure no one has ever mentioned or warned about. Really this is not air travel, have you ever been told upon getting on a bus that you need to stow all weapons or similar items in the baggage hold?

[/various] link

Thu, 23 Nov 2006

I wish I had thought of it - 23:05
A friend wore a fantastic outfit at the recent Australian Single Speed mountain bike champs, I only wish I had thought to wear such a great outfit before him, I simply can not help laughing every time I look at the photo.

The slightly strange thing is the race was not even held in Victoria so the outfit was not even as expected as these guys at gravity.

[/mtb] link

Fri, 17 Nov 2006

Mark's Guide and Cool Tools - 21:42
BoingBoing had a link to a pdf file Uncle Mark's Guide which is a pretty wicked one recommendation per category style gift guide. In it I found a link to Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools which is indeed very good reading, similar style of things, all manner of well thought out recommendations for stuff. In both these guides I have already seen a number of great gift ideas for people I know.

[/various] link

But Brain, how exactly to the 1428 pair of rubber pants fit into the plan? - 19:39
It is always fun to see interesting science and other stuff (well duh I here you say), for example this week the real Air Guitar at CSIRO. Though I was wondering about uses in detecting mountain bikers form while riding through tracks or on downhill, and then being able to tell the differences in minute body movements between different riders. I have to agree that sort of application is a lot less sexy than playing an air guitar for real.

Then there was the report on BBC with physicists claiming they will be able make useable wireless power transfer mechanisms using resonance of materials in the radio or similar level frequencies. The claim is rather light on actual references or details of the research, however it sounds interesting, it would seriously rock to be able to use a laptop inside the office or at home or at cafes and have power and network coming through the air. Lets hope this is actually for real.

Then more of the purely cool research, the scientists mentioned on an ABC Australia news story that got dolphins to sing the Batman theme tune. The good news here is at least they are not singing "So Long and Thanks For All the Fish" I guess.

The ABC is often a source of good stories (humourous or otherwise) such as the story about teaching pandas to mate by playing them porn videos, obviously in the hopes they will emulate the the behaviour on the screen, they must be hoping these pandas are not the type to rock up to the Sydney Mardi Gras with a ready supply of rubber clothing. Lets hope the Pandas do get it going to the bow wow wacka wacka beats.

[/various] link

Mon, 13 Nov 2006

Good consistency where Gravity happens. - 14:58
In this case I am referring to the Gravity 12 hour mountain bike race held at Rosewhite in Victoria every November rather than the Scientific property of matter. This year I teamed up with Gail and Alex, we had a great time at the race. The course was dry, I did not overheat, all worked out well.

I have photos and a few words up on my 2006 Gravity 12 Hour Mountain Bike Race page. As for consistency, I was happy with my performance, being able to do 6 laps with the following lap times: 37:54, 37:33, 37:20, 37:13, 37:36 and 41:48 around the 12.3 KM slightly hilly lap.

[/mtb/events] link

Thu, 09 Nov 2006

Geek mountain bike humour - 13:10
It was not a particularly funny joke to begin with, but I will share it anyway. There is a tradition of Garden Gnomes appearing on pine forest single track in Canberra where the 24 hour race is held. They used to be on Kowalski and Son of Kowalski in Greenhills near Stromlo. More recently there have been Gnomes and some other decorations track side at the Kowen 24 Hour course. When Tony, Mikey and I were doing a lap the other day there were still some Gnomes that had survived the 24 hour race out on the tracks.

However some of the Gnomes were broken a bit, probably having been hit by riders a little bit off line as they went past. My suggestion as to the cause of the broken Gnome was that someone had committed some bad untested code into CVS.

[/various] link

Mon, 06 Nov 2006

Another what I ate for weekend lunch style post - 16:46
Except that this contains no mention of food products.

This weekend Lina and I competed in the ACTRA Spring 12 Hour Rogaine on Saturday. Held in Deua National Park out beyond Tallaganda. We both had a lot of fun, and I think we both improved our rogaine and navigation skills somewhat which is definitely on my must work in improving list (day and night foot navigation). With the benefit of hindsight, and a look at the controls Tom, Al and Karl collected in the 6 hour event (getting a higher score than we did in 12 hours) I can see a bunch of better routes we could have done, but it was fun anyway.

The rogaine finished at 11pm on Saturday night, it would have been lovely to camp out at the hash house with most of the other competitors and come back to Canberra on Sunday morning. However I had to be back for a kayaking/paddling course on Sunday morning, so we left after a good post event feed and the presentation ceremony. On the drive back, while still on a dirt road between Cooma and Braidwood before turning off toward Captains Flat. I wondered why the rear of the car seemed to be influencing the steering strangely, it got really wobbly and was not handling right at all, so I pulled up to a stop, got out and found the flat rear drivers side tyre. It was around 1am when this happened, it explained the handling, I had obviously been driving for around 1 or 2 KM with it in this state as the tyre was now shredded. Fortunately the spare in the boot was ready and it took about 15 minutes to change, the most surprising thing is that it happened at all. I have never had a flat in this car before, and from what I can tell flat tyres are remarkably rare in cars now days.

So after getting to sleep just before 3am I had to be up at around 7:50am in order to make it to a Kayaking/Paddling course I am doing for the next two months (Sunday mornings and Wednesday afternoons) being run by the Burley Griffin Canoe Club. Julie suggested this course to me as it will give me proper coaching in improving my technique, balance and all round capabilities in the kayak, something I think I need to do for the purposes of being able to do adventure races more comfortably. Then Sunday afternoon I went for a mountain bike ride with Tony and Mikey around the 2006 Australian 24 Hour race course as I had not had a chance to ride a lap of this year's course yet, and Tony and Mikey were both keen on having a mountain bike ride somewhere.

That was the weekend (see told you it was a boring post), next weekend is the Gravity 12 Hour mountain bike race down in Victoria, should be fun.

[/various] link

Thu, 02 Nov 2006

Apparently Rocky Mountain Element bikes will break if you have low shock pressure. - 16:40
So I have updated my Rocky Mountain Element page with details of what has been happening since the frame broke 2 weeks ago. Anyway due to the pressure in the shock being lower than their recommended pressure Advance Traders have rejected the warranty claim. The rest of this post is simply the stuff I wrote at the start of my page linked to above.

So as stated below my Rocky Mountain Element 50 Dual Suspension frame broke while out riding on Friday morning 2006-10-20. As the frame snapped just below the shock mount I just looked at and though, ahh well something was wrong there, they will replace it under warranty. The warranty says 5 years for dual suspension frames. Of course it also says under what is not covered "B.Consequential damage or any damage caused by accident, misuse or abuse." and "C.Improper assembly and/or lack of proper maintenance," and there is the other clause that the majority of bicycle manufacturers seem to place in their warranty now days under What will void your warranty "A.Competition racing".

Anyway as you may suspect this is leading up to the Australian Importer of Rocky Mountain (Advance Traders) have rejected the warranty claim, Rocky Mountain are standing by the call Advance Traders have made. Their reason for rejecting the warranty claim is that the shock pressure was too low when it was bought into the store. I have been running the shock at 150 psi since I bought the bike. I can not remember exactly why I chose this pressure, though mostly it was from riding it, looking at how much it sagged, checking to ensure the shock was not bottoming out while riding (tie a zip tie around the shock shaft) and setting it to the pressure that seemed to give about 1 inch sag and felt comfortable.

Rocky Mountain have since said the pressure should have been around 190 psi for someone my weight. However I am trying to work out why a low pressure in the shock would cause the frame to break. What Advance had to say on this was somewhat hard to interpret.

You are correct in saying that a standard triangle frame should not break in the middle of the tube, which would probably be a sufficient point if the bike were a hardtail. But, because you have a moving rear end, it's highly likely that excess force (due to heavy impact and / or undersprung shock) through a certain area will cause the problem you have experienced. "The key to it's design is that it doesn't rely on the shock as a structural component of the suspension." (Rocky Mountain 2004 catalogue - Element - Design). If the shock were a structural part of the design I would expect the shaft of the shock to bear the brunt of the force and bend, or the shock bolts to do the same instead of the force being transmitted through the frame.

So they do not even answer my query as to why a low shock pressure will cause the break, it seems they suggest it is highly unlikely to cause the problem I have experienced with a moving rear end. I have asked in my email why the low shock pressure would cause the break. There is nothing in the warranty or owners manual suggesting the frame is in grave danger of breaking with low pressure in the shock. Also the claim made that the warranty guy at rocky mountain has never seen a frame break there before, I think would suggest there must have been something wrong with this specific frame.

The price they have offered a replacement front triangle to me is AUD $750, however I still do not understand why the low shock pressure is being used as a reason for rejecting my warranty claim. Anyway links to parts of this page are at the top to make it easier to see different things I have written about here.

I am not an engineer so I am waiting for some feedback from friends who are to see what someone who knows about this stuff would say on the issue. It is interesting to note that no onw from either the importer or Rocky Mountain have looked at the frame or seen it themselves. They are basing the rejection on photos I took and on asking the bike shop I some questions about it.

[/mtb/gear] link

Wed, 01 Nov 2006

Kernel command line for environment variables - 14:56
So installing a debian based system from a network boot server, ie plug in a computer to the network and the debian installer appears (or similar, in this case it is actually ubuntu). Trying to work out how to ensure a proxy would be used for fetching all the files downloaded during an install (debian Packages files, .deb's, etc). The default d-i can still ask you for a proxy, however this one we are using did not.

I remembered reading something somewhere about setting the proxy environment variable on the kernel command line that d-i would then be able to use. I can find no documentation about this with respect to d-i. However it seems to work correctly by putting append="http_proxy=blah" into the correct pxe boot file. AJ pointed out it is a kernel feature that allows variables entered in such a way to be passed to init (this is sort of hinted at in the kernel Documentation/kernel-parameters.txt file, though not made clear). Anyway because d-i uses wget (and even when it gets to apt, apt understands the same variable) to fetch files this works correctly.

[/comp/linux] link

Mon, 30 Oct 2006

Interesting lyrics from another pianist. - 10:25
One of my house mates had a cd playing the other day with a really great sounding voice coming out of it. I asked who it was and was given a name I had not heard of, Regina Spektor who apparently is part of the Anti Folk scene (what ever the heck that means).

Regina has a really fascinating voice and ways of using her voice, bouncing around the spectrum a lot and really using it as a central instrument, then to the lyrics in a lot of her songs are fascinating. Full of jokes, literary references or just strange ideas and imagery. I guess I can see where the Anti Folk label may come from with the poking fun at herself and her music and many other targets.

Anyway I have to say I am hooked. I say "from another pianist" above largely due to th fact Missy Higgins is a pianist and good lyricist. As for the fun and interesting lyrics from Regina Spektor this is a good example:

And then i fill the sink to the top with bubbles of soap
And then i set all the bottle caps i own afloat
And it's the greatest voyage in the history of plastic
Music Box - Regina Spektor

[/leisure/music] link

Thu, 26 Oct 2006

50 people listening to someone talk about slugs - 20:29
The title is somewhat arbitrary to the content, but it is true, I am in a room with 50 people listening to a talk about slugs, and this is a Linux related thing not a biology conference or something. Heck Mikal even has us laughing. Though he just ruined the myth about running everything as root by using sudo many times to access root. There is still no firewall at least so all of our world views have not been shattered

Of course talking for an hour or so about slug's is possibly an unusual approach to holding the interest of an audience, I wonder what other unusual ways you could hold he interest of an audience. One that I liked the other day, though it only holds the interest for a few seconds per story were a bunch of 6 word creative works.

The blurb goes "Hemingway once wrote a story in just six words ("For sale: baby shoes, never worn.") and is said to have called it his best work. So we asked sci-fi, fantasy, and horror writers from the realms of books, TV, movies, and games to take a shot themselves." This is at wired, they asked a bunch of famous people, mostly authors for 6 word stories.

As is often the case, Joss rocks with his story "Gown removed carelessly. Head, less so. - Joss Whedon", interestingly as Jane pointed out when I passed the link on to her, you can actually get a good idea of the Author's specific style and preoccupations even from their 6 word stories. Such as Cory Doctrow and Neil Gaiman.

Considering NaNoWriMo is on next month, you could do that, or if you are not up to writing 5000 words of one story a day for a month, maybe try 833 6 word stories a day with 833 different plots.

[/various] link

Julie, Tom and Al Bundy stories - 16:12
The title refers to Julie Quinn, Tom Landon-Smith and Alina McMaster. I was thinking about this the other day, in the vein of the Floyd Stories there are stories around the place of that nature concerning people I know. I am sure others among you who know mad keen fit people have the odd story about them that astounds or confounds others upon the telling of.

What got me thinking of writing something about this was reading some of the reader contributed stories on Fat Cyclist, such as this recent story about a really hard bunch ride. I have not had much in the way of attempts at humour or simply interesting and fun stories on here recently so here are a few.

Julie is good at getting out and doing big endurance efforts, she won the 2006 World Rogaine Championships in the womens Category 2 weeks ago, 12th overall too. Julie has been a world rogaine champion for the 4 years now and will be for 2 more now, having won womens in Czechoslovakia in 2002, then winning the mixed category in Arizona USA in 2004 and now Womens again in NSW Australia in 2006. Also Julie competes in the Triple Tri solo and last year stormed through faster than all but one of the male solos, she even appeared to be catching the male solo winner last year near the end of the race.

So my Julie story for today is about the time she went out for a 30 KM training run in her build up to a solo Triple Tri. Most of us mere mortals look at the 30 KM and Training run in one sentence and are already scared of the effort involved. On this run however Julie just happened to go a different way and accidentally ended up doing a 50 KM training run that Sunday morning. How the do you accidentally do a 50 KM training run I wonder? Do you trip, almost fall, stumble a bit and suddenly realise you did an extra 20KM of running without noticing?

Alina and Tom are the core of the AROC adventure racing team, by far the most successful and capable adventure racing team from Australia. They have won the last two XPD races, finished second and were on the way to a good place the following year in Primal Quest in the US in the past few years, they also take out sprint distance adventure races around the place and have won every Geoquest they have entered as AROC. So tough and fast people both of them.

My Al Bundy store for the day is about her solo win in the Triple Tri 2 years ago, AROC had done a race in south east asia somewhere about a month before the triple tri and Alina had a fall or something and suffered an injury, a crack in a vertebra in her lower back. So with limited leg movement, some pain when using her legs and the suggestion probably being made to rest up and let it heal she entered the Triple Tri anyway, completed it solo in around 14 hours and was unable to even feel her legs at the end of it. Far tougher than the rest of us weak and wussy mortals.

As for Tom, this is a recent story. Tom and Al have recently moved out of town to a property in an area called Bywong, this is around 30 KM from Kowen Forest where the Australian 24 Hour Mountain Bike Championships were recently held. Tom and Al were both competing in the race, Tom was in a 4 person all male team, so he would be doing 5 or 6 laps in the 24 hour period probably at reasonable pace. Al rocked up to the site with gear for their camp, when someone asked where Tom was she responded, oh he wanted to run here. He had decided to do a 30 KM run to get to the start of a 24 hour race he was competing in. As anyone would do I am sure... and this was from a man who often claims he hates training and loves the fact there are so many races on every weekend, he never has to train and can just race all the time. Obviously the 30 KM run was a warm up for the 24 hour race, quite a different perspective from most of the competitors who complain the 700 metre run they have to do to get to their bikes at the start is too long.

I wonder how many other stores there are around about the people I hang out with all the time, hopefully lots more I can find.

[/mtb] link

Fri, 20 Oct 2006

Broke my Rocky Mountain Element 50 Dual Suspension mountain bike frame - 11:14

The whole bike with the break visible below the rear shock (full size)

The break on the left hand side. (full size)

The break from the front. (full size)

The break on the right hand side. (full size)
So the Friday morning ride was in Majura pines this morning, fun and all with around 10 people on the ride, then we returned to the Purple Pickle for breakfast, as we crossed the road into the university (Barry Drive) I bunny hopped up a gutter and heard a crack sound. Odd I thought, the gears on the front shifter went funny at the same time, I looked down and could not see missing gears or bike bits so rolled on the next 200 metres to the cafe and sat down for coffee and breakfast.

When I got back on the bike to ride the 1.5 KM to home I noticed the front shifter was still playing up and I heard an odd grating sound when I stood up out of the saddle. I got off the bike and had a look, this is of course when I notice the seat tube is snapped clean thorough just below the shock mount.

So yeah I have just broken another frame, somewhat inconvenient as I now will be riding an aluminium hardtail until my pink steel HT has been welded up. Lets hope the rocky mountain distributors can get this fixed quickly.

I bought this bike at the beginning of April 2004 so it has lasted around 2.5 years until this break. But yes it is alas true my my rocky mountain element duallie has broken.

[/mtb/gear] link

Mon, 16 Oct 2006

A hard pink life - 11:53

The frame stripped of components, has had a hard life (full size)

The crack on the left hand side. (full size)

The crack on the right hand side (full size)
As I mentioned recently my Bender Bicycles pink steel hard tail mountain bike frame has a few cracks that need fixing. As can be seen on the left here. On the whole the frame marked from a hard year and a half of riding, I guess I have ridden a lot in the past year and a half. I strongly suspect I will need to get the frame sand blasted and resprayed again simply to stop it looking quite so trashed.

I still love the paint job and colour, however the fix will need to be covered with a different colour anyway. And the frame does have chips and scratches and missing paint and the like all over it. Yet another reason to avoid Carbon Fibre mountain bikes I reckon, the majority of this is caused by rocks or other things hitting the frame while riding. Steel (and other metals) fortunately are not known to fail catastrophically after a single impact with a big rock launched at the frame by the front wheel.

[/mtb/gear] link

Wed, 11 Oct 2006

Tear some teeth off - 15:47

Some miche sprockets missing teeth (full size)
So on Saturday Sep 30 during the Bilbys road ride I noticed one of my gears was skipping a bit on the road bike. No idea why I rode on and avoided that gear, the following morning during my ride out to Corin dam I actually had a look at the cluster and noticed I had at some point ripped some teeth off the middle sprocket on the cluster.

I bought this cluster last year, campag fit for use with the new wheels I purchased then. The cassette is a Miche custom sized (11-28 9 speed) which gives me just a little bit of an easier time up hills. One advantage, at least right now, with Miche clusters is each sprocket is separate, thus I was able to pull the above to sprockets off (the totally trashed 17 tooth one and the 19 tooth sprocket missing one tooth).

Obviously I just do not know my own strength <g>

[/mtb/gear] link

Tue, 10 Oct 2006

Laziness as an artform - 19:05
I guess this is kind of like Linus' quote about backups ("Only wimps use tape backup: _real_ men just upload their important stuff on ftp, and let the rest of the world mirror it ;)") but I prefer to refer to it as a form of laziness.

I notice I was being somewhat pathetic writing my last diary post when I wanted the link to my painted pink steel hardtail and could not remember the link off the top off my head, so rather than clicking on my home page and following the links to find it I went to google and typed "bender bicycles" as I knew I was in the top one or two links for that search term. Of course the pathetic part is also that I knew that search term had that ranking.

[/various] link

Getting into a bit of a weight weenie project. - 18:51

My new Rock Shox Reba forks (full size)
For a while I have been thinking my hard tail could use a bit of a diet. The forks on there are bottom of the range Air/Oil Marzocchi MX Comp forks, kind of heavy. The front wheel is definitely heavier than need be, the rear can be made lighter. I have a very heavy rear tyre on currently also. A few other bits could be lightened.

The online store Torpedo7 has for a while been selling Rock Shox Reba SL forks for either AUD $419 or AUD $499 (depending on the week, phase of the moon, etc) either price is damn low compared to the AUST RRP of $749, so I bought a pair which arrived today. The same shop has been selling the top of the line SRAM PG 991 cluster for about half the RRP and the cluster is seriously about half the weight of most other clusters (including the next model down from SRAM) so I bought one of them the other week also.

Soon I should have some hubs arriving which are almost as light as DT Swiss 240's though no where near as expensive so I can build up a pair of light wheels and not spend too much money doing so. I plan to run Stans No Tubes on the wheels to keep weight down (and add a lack of many flats).

Somewhat unfortunately my pink hard tail frame has developed some cracks, one each side of the seat tube/top tube junction. I will need to strip the frame and return it to Wayne Kotzur for a fix (and alas I will thus have some other colour around the fix at that point on the frame). I am planning to throw all the bits back on my Giant Team XtC alloy frame, which though I do not like riding it if I have steel available it is a seriously light frame. It may be a novelty to have a really light mountain bike for once, I plan to use that bike in the triple tri this year, the lack of weight will really help in the hike a bike sections.

[/mtb/gear] link

Mon, 09 Oct 2006

The Scott Australian 24 Hour race is done and dusted - 20:42
What used to be the Mont 24 Hour Race was this year known as the Scott Australian 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race, though I have competed in this event previously, last year, and now this year also I was CORC's Site Manager for the event. (largely because as the CORC vice president I feel somewhat guilty if I do not help out a lot with the club's premier event).

Anyway as I mention in the title the event is done and dusted. The term dusted applies rather literally this year as it was the dustiest 24 hour race we have had yet, there were many people wearing dust masks, all people, tents, bikes, everything else out there was coated liberally with dust even at the beginning, by the end of the race there was a lot more dust everywhere. We had the biggest 24 hour mountain bike race in the world again, with 3031 riders entered, around 180 solo entrants, by the end of the race over 11,000 laps had been ridden which is about 241,000 KM (6 times around the circumference of the earth).

Russ had the preliminary results up yesterday afternoon before he and I had even finished packing up the stuff we had to get packed last night. A big thanks to all the volunteers out there who helped us run the race, and to all the riders I hope you all had a fantastic time and are already thinking up plans to come back. Next year we return to Stromlo on a brand new course almost in the centre of town.

[/mtb/events] link

Tue, 03 Oct 2006

Blog blog blog? Blog blog Blog Blog blog! - 19:31
Okay so the title is some load of trash, however it appears there are similarly strange sentences which may in fact parse.

Buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. is the example I saw today on Metafilter.

Though English is a silly language, I am glad to see other languages are similarly strange, for example the colloquial Swedish "Nallar nallar nallars nallar?" which translates to "Do teddy bears steal (other) teddy bears' teddy bears?"

Of note is that this is indeed a wikipedia page and not the Uncyclopedia Buffalo page.

[/various] link

A weekend with some silly rides. - 09:42
Unlike most years leading up to the 24 hour race, I had this long weekend free to do other stuff, such as ride bikes. So I decided to go ahead and ride a bike or two.

Saturday morning I headed out with the Bilbys road bunch for the long ride, a gentle undulating 100 KM out to Cotter, Pierces Creek, Tharwa, back through Point Hut and home through Tuggeranong. A few of the people on the ride turned off at Corin for some more climbing, however I had to get home in time for a mountain bike ride that afternoon, and I had some other Corin plans afoot.

Saturday afternoon JJJim, Crash, PaulC, lliB, Jaymz, Liam, Rosie, Alex, Terry and I met up at sparrow hill for a lap around the wonderful single track that as JJJim said, flows like oil (the viscosity of which was left as a question for the reader). Much fun was had even if I was feeling a little toasted, which did not really bode well for Sunday.

Sunday morning Liam wanted a road ride, as he had to be back by around 12:30am and I wanted to do Corin we had to leave early, thus no one else was at all interested in joining us for a 7am start on a Sunday. However we headed out to ride up Corin and down to the Dam (the road down is now open after being closed for 3 years). Thus another 125 KM with some climbing on the road bike, then instead of collapsing in a heap once I got home there was more.

After fighting off some cramps and drinking a 1.25 litre bottle of mineral water I was ready enough to head out for a lap of the new single track at Mt Stromlo with Liam, Rosie, Crash (tour guide barbie today), Dan and Tom. The single track there keeps getting better and better. After all of that however I ended up giving the 5/6 peaks ride on Monday morning a miss and had a day off. This morning doing Cotter/Uriarra I was not at all interested in riding fast and cruised round the 65KM loop at a nice relaxed pace.

[/mtb] link

Mon, 25 Sep 2006

Silva L1 and fixing a problem with it - 13:56

My Silva L1 Head Torch (full size)

One of the battery holders, the cut down knobs are visible (full size)

During Geoquest this year, Ian and Michelle were both using a Silva L1 head torch for all night time stuff (bike, foot, etc). This is a 3 W Luxeon Star based LED head torch that is powered by 4 AA cells. It may not be quite bright enough for tight single track as found in endurance mountain biking events, however for adventure racing it appears to be a damn fine light.

I was using a 1w Luxeon LED based head torch on foot and a 5w bar mounted light for bike sections during the race. My head torch was not powerful enough to really navigate with or spot controls and the batteries required for the 5w Nightstick were a pain to lug around. Ian and Michelle on the other hand had strong, focused, adequate light for everything we were doing. Thus I decided to buy myself one of these lights. Alina from AROC gave me a good deal on the (which they stock in the AROCShop) light and hey presto I have one to play with.

I put the Alkaline cells that came with it in and powered it up, rather bright indeed, so I went and purchased a bunch more rechargeable NiMH AA cells to use with it and thought all would be well. During the night rogaine last week I went to change batteries and to my dismay found they did not work (yes I know I should have tested before the event). I was worried that the light required 6v to work and the 4.8v from rechargeables was simply not going to be enough. I could find no details online or with the manuals that came with the light as to voltage requirements. Ian and Sarah who both own one of these lights however claimed they can use rechargeables with the light.

Sitting in my office talking to a colleague about it last week, he looked inside and tried putting the rechargeable batteries in. He noticed they did not appear to touch the contacts in one of the battery holders, looking at the battery, the OEM AA cells had longer nipples than the rechargeable cells. Looking inside the battery case there is a useless plastic knob sitting next to the contacts that juts out and holds the battery nipple away from the contact. So I got out a knife and sliced as much of the knobs away as I could (for some reason only one side of the other battery holder had this problem) and hey presto the rechargeable batteries work perfectly in the light after all.

It would be nice if Silva did not put the little plastic knobs there, however if anyone has a similar problem attempting to use rechargeable NiMH batteries in a Silva L1 have a look and be sure the nipples are touching the contacts.

[/mtb/gear] link

Thu, 21 Sep 2006

The shoe saga update, or my Imelda of the mtb shoe world impression - 22:05

new shoes front, Top older to the right (full size)
The shoe cycling shoe saga continues, I bought myself a new pair of cycling shoes today. In the photo above I have all the cycling shoes I have owned since 1997. On the top right are the Lake brand shoes I bought in January 1997, top middle are the Shimano shoes I bought in September of 2002 when I finally realised the Lake shoes were beyond worn out. Top left are the Shimano M181B, which is effectively the 2006 model of the M180 shoe that I have had replaced under warranty a few times. I bought the M180 shoes in January of 2004 and have had them fail approximately every 4 to 8 months until I got the M181B shoes in November last year.

As I have had the M181B shoes for almost a year now I thought I should probably not claim warranty on them now, though they are failing in two places they probably should not so early in their life. Rather than claim warranty for a 4th time I have finally bought a new pair of shoes, hopefully these will last for a bit longer than the Shimano shoes do. The new pair of shoes pictured in front are the Specialized Comp MTB which have been getting a lot of positive reviews and word of mouth opinions in the last year.

As for the other shoes, I now have a pair of shoes (the M181B) that do not feel awful to wear so I can use them in wet weather or similar and finally do not mind the idea of throwing out my older cycling shoes at long last. The first pair of Shimano shoes (pictured middle) lasted for 15 or 16 months until they really needed replacing, the subsequent Shimano shoes have lasted mostly 4 to 6 months each, until finally this pair (top left) is starting to break down after around 9 or 10 months. I really hope the shoes last for a while, I hear from friends (two in particular who do in fact ride as often as I do) who have mountain bike shoes they purchased in 1996 or so still going strong and am somewhat jealous.

[/mtb/gear] link

Wed, 20 Sep 2006

ACT Schools MTB Championships went well - 22:17
I took the rest of the day off work today after tutoring in the morning in order to help out at the ACT Secondary Schools Mountain Bike Championships race which was run by CORC.

I thought it was pretty incredible last year when we managed to get around 180 students along to the race. This year there were 249 school kids there racing their mountain bikes in school teams. How fantastic is that, definitely good to see them all out there having fun on their mountain bikes. At one point while manning a marshal point I got my camera out and took some photos, until my memory card was full. I am currently uploading them to the CORC Image Gallery where they will be in an album under events sometime shortly. (update, photos are up)

If you wish to see the results Russ has uploaded them to the CORC website in the Junior Events section.

[/mtb] link

Tue, 19 Sep 2006

One way to spend a Saturday - 17:24

Crash, Jaymz and DeathMarch at the eagle rock lookout on Stromlo (full size)

Jeremy and Libby looking toward Canberra near a control on a hill (full size)

There are 8 million ways in which to spend a Saturday, this has been one of them (with apologies to "Naked City" (more info))

Saturday morning I hopped on the Single Speed mountain bike around 7:30am for a ride out to meet Crash, Jaymz and DeathMarch near Stromlo, the purpose of which was for a friendly mountain bike ride on the brand new rather enjoyable Trunk Trail that is part of the CORC Stromlo development. It was indeed a pleasant way to start the day, and the coffee and cake at the new cafe at the top of Stromlo was good too.

On my way back into town I realised the Bilbys were likely to have finished the road ride and be heading for a cafe, I managed to ascertain the name and location of the cafe the fast bunch went to and headed over to Sfoglia's in Dickson to meet up for some breakfast (though it was midday by this time) with them.

Libby and Jeremy had both been on the road ride and were at the cafe, I was able to confirm details with them for what we were doing that evening. Which leads on to the ACTRA 2006 Nightgaine.

This year they were nice to us all and rather than have a 6 hour night gaine starting at midnight it started at 6pm and finished at 11pm, as always with ACTRA events the food put on for competitors as we finished was great (thanks DEWR Hartley crew), though of course the main reason I entered the event was in order to practice my night time foot navigation.

Apart from the fact I need to run more to improve at foot events, I really do want to practice difficult navigation more and more often now days. I can start to see why this sort of event is so much more fun as you learn to navigate better, the times we walk straight onto a control due to our bearing and accurate path through the scrub really were good. On the whole we had fun at the event and I am looking forward to the next one (Spring 12 Hour in November with Lina)

So I had a fun Saturday, how was yours?

[/mtb] link

Mon, 18 Sep 2006 is a damn good name - 17:20
There has been a discussion (and in another thread) on the linux-aus mailing list sparked off by Jeff Waugh suggesting both Linux Australia and should have a name change.

Personally I disagree wholeheartedly with the idea of changing the name of the conference, and though I do not have a strong opinion on changing the name of Linux Australia, I have not seen an argument with any real reasoning and well thought out points as to why it is entirely necessary. So I weighed into the discussion on Friday afternoon with a semi lengthy set of thoughts on the matter.

One thing I realise I forgot to mention is that Linux is the generic most recognised term worldwide for Open/Free Software already. Jon "Maddog" Hall reminded me of this in his response to the discussion (recommended reading). We have a well known brand with, as was pointed out by Andrew Cowie, a conference can change their name as "" has from the old Linux Bangalore name they had, however their name change was in part because they saw how incredibly cool the name was for a technical geeky conference.

Geeks get the idea of and appreciate the conference name. If you wish to attract sponsors or delegates that do not understand the conference enough to grok this I wonder if you really wish to run There has been some suggestions of running some other event for a number of years, a new alternately focused event could utilise the potential delegates Jeff may be after (those who do not find the all encompassing geekiness or existing feeling of to be their cup of tea) (and potential sponsors) and that way can stay as is.

[/lca] link

Wed, 13 Sep 2006

Wheels that are round and brakes that work on the single speed - 22:45
So I had some mountain bike rims sitting around the shed when I built my single speed, I knew there were some problems with them, however I was feeling too cheap at the time to spend money on new rims for a single speed I was trying to build cheaply.

When you hit gutters or other blunt objects with enough force to flatten a tyre (pinch flat) it will sometimes happen that a flat spot forms on the rim. Sometimes these can be hammered out, sometimes not. The problem can be made worse by weak sidewalls in rims, which are caused by wear from rim brakes (v-brakes and similar). Both the rims in the shed had large flat spots and weak sidewalls (splits appearing in places, and pronounced flat spots (one on each rim)).

The flat spots meant I had to have the brakes backed off a lot so they would not hit the rim as the flat spot passed the pads, thus the brakes were set up sort of loose, however once per revolution of the wheel they would be very tight and responsive for a short time. This was not a problem until such a time as you wish to utilise the brakes, at this time the flat really good braking set up on one point on the rim would cause a thunk sort of instant deacceleration which on the whole was rather disconcerting.

Fortunately for me a friend moving to the UK for a while and needing to dispose of some bike bits was happy to exchange a spare pair of wheels for a case of coopers. The hub on the rear wheel was fairly stuffed (pitted cones, bearing surfaces and worn bearings) so could probably use replacement, and the front wheel has radial spoke lacing, however when it fails I can put a sensible spoke pattern in. This pair of wheels have the distinct advantage of not being too worn out on the braking surface and having no flat spots.

I put the front wheel onto the single speed yesterday and hey what do you know, the brakes worked once adjusted, it was almost a revelation. Tonight I rebuilt the back wheel with a hub I had sitting in the shed that is in much better condition and a similar revelationary experience happened with respect to braking on the back when I put the wheel onto the bike.

Three cheers for an improved single speed experience, it will be rather enjoyable being able to stop somewhat predictably.

[/mtb/gear] link

Tue, 12 Sep 2006

Drunken teddy bears considered dangerous - 11:51

What happens to teddy bears drinking (full size)

Some possibly misleading statements about teddy bears (full size)

You see what happens when you allow your teddy bear drinking problems to go unchecked, they become a danger to themselves and possibly others. This poor bear has obviously been putting away one too many bottles of wine and look at all those bandages it needs. To think you leave your teddy near a bottle of wine and come back to find it had to be air lifted to hospital and get bandaged up. Sure people may think this is less serious than babies drinking beer but obviously something is wrong with the world when drunken injured teddy bears become common place.

Do not let your teddy bears drink and mountain bike (both the bottle of wine and the teddy bear are from the N-ZO 12 hour mountain bike race I competed in up near Sydney this weekend). Sure if the stuff on the tea towel in the second photos is to be believed teddy bears are great companions and there should nary be a problem, however I notice at least there is a teddy, supposedly one not telling sordid tales of your life to people at parties, holding a wine glass, who knows what will happen if too many refills come its way.

[/various] link

Thu, 07 Sep 2006

Bee in my bonnet - 22:05
So Mikal wonders if other people have inconvenient insect bites while riding (stating the case mildly here). The worst I have had was riding around the lake in a group once when I was 12 or so and I had a bee fly into my bike helmet, get stuck there and sting me. I crashed into a bridge and tacoed a front wheel and needed to be picked up.

Fortunately I discovered (the hard way) I was not allergic to bees, just that they can be rather irritating. I have over the years swallowed many a fly and other non bitey insect while riding. The hot summer climbs up mountains and such are prime examples of fly swallowing territory, and I have to admit I tend to be careful breathing in the snowy mountains in summer due to march flies and their biting capability.

I wonder if Mikal's kids were asking him if he was about to die in hopes of getting his laptop in inheritance, or maybe they simply liked the live action example of the Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly nursery rhyme. If he attempts to live up to the nursery rhyme it will at least be an excuse to eat a lot of beef, what with swallowing a cow.

[/various] link

Wed, 06 Sep 2006

Printer or Ink sort of purchases. - 10:31
I use those little single LED flashing lights that attach to the front or back of the bike with a bit of elastic on some of my bikes. Today I had to replace the batteries (two small CR 2032s) in the rear flasher on my single speed. The rather cheap LED flashers cost me around AUD $6 (including batteries) from Phantom Cycles. The batteries I bought today at the ANU chemist (Duracell with medical stamped across them, I doubt they are really anything special) cost AUD $4.50 each. Thus it costs $6 for a new light or in this case $9 for two tiny batteries to power it.

Definitely reminiscent of the problems where computer printers (bubblejets) are often sold for less than the cost of the replacement ink cartridges these days. My other bikes all have large rear flashing lights so I do not need the little ones so much, it may be time to buy such a light for the single speed, at least then I can use rechargeable AAA batteries in the lights.

[/mtb/gear] link

Tue, 05 Sep 2006

-ENOCRIKEY - 10:28
It is of course sad to hear of Steve Irwin's death, what with the amount he did for wildlife rescue and the fact he was a recognisable cultural icon that had a positive image and message for people around the world. Sure he may have made many Australians cringe, especially when people overseas expected us all to behave similarly, but freak accidents such as this are sad mmm'kay.

On this note so far, this is by far the best comment I have seen on his death, keeping the humour up even when saddened.

[/various] link

Mon, 04 Sep 2006

2:1 up the hills - 16:10
So I had been wondering for a little while what it would be like to climb some of the roadie climbs in Canberra on my single speed (2:1 gear ratio). I just went out and climbed Black Mountain in 13:54 on it, which when I consider my current lack of fitness and that I would not be much faster doing a standing climb on the road bike at the moment. It was not too hard, I was able to sit and grind away reasonably on the two flatter sections. I reckon I could definitely get the time down to around 12 without much effort on the single speed.

I still have a plan to attempt the 6 peaks climb on the single speed some day (Majura, Ainslie, Black, Pleasant, Red, Stromlo), to the pain.

[/mtb] link

Sun, 03 Sep 2006

Getting some rides in - 18:26
So I noticed over the past month and a half that my form is down a fair bit lower than I would like (and is normal for me). Sure I had a cold in Cairns, but even then I was not riding as well as I should, and as noted a while back I may want to consider some real proper training at some point.

For now though I will simply try and get some KM back into my leg, starting up doing the Tuesday morning Cotter/Uriarra loops again this week on. Yesterday I went out on the standard Saturday morning Bilbys ride which was going past the base of the Corin Road climb but would be about 90KM with the suggested route. Fortunately for me Sue was keen for a little bit more climbing so together we split from the group and headed up the 13KM climb to Corin Forest. When we got back to Canberra eventually we headed to Dickson for coffee, thus I got a good fairly solid 130 KM on the road bike yesterday.

Today I had felt like heading into the Bush for a ride, though with other stuff to do today I wanted to keep it short, the plan was hatched for a ride up Mt Coree from Blundells Arboretum and a few bods were keen to join in the fun. In the end due to weather and some other concerns only Dave, DeathMarch, Jaymz and I rocked up to do the Mt Coree climb on our bikes (photos and a few words). But it was a good little climb and an enjoyable (though very muddy in places) ride.

[/mtb] link

Tue, 22 Aug 2006

Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging - 12:00

UK Milk Carton
I notice this milk still has English writing on it, thus it is not really exotic for us Aussies. Though I guess it is at least real English writing as it is from Kent in England. None of this Aussie or American English emblazoned across the carton. You can probably tell it is milk from Ol Blighty just by looking at the picture. They have green grass, if it were Australian milk and they were going for a similar truth in advertising it would have to have a field of brown grass or simply hay scattered on dirt I guess.

I guess with the rampant greenery it could be from Kiwiland, except the measurement is in pints, the Kiwis at least use metric everywhere.

[/various/milkcarton] link

Mon, 21 Aug 2006

RRR Classic 2006 - 18:48
I took a few photos at the RRR Classic mountain bike race yesterday and have now put my photos from the event online.

Definitely a fun course, the thick bull dust down the bump track was very different to most riding I do anywhere. Apparently that will clear up during the next heavy rain, though with the grader having gone down the track most of the interesting rock gardens and their ilk are gone for a few years.

[/mtb/events] link

Fri, 18 Aug 2006

Herberton 8 Hour mtb race - 23:07
Or how I adjusted to the Cairns temperatures slowly, by doing a mountain bike race in the tablelands with rain and almost Canberran temperatures.

Sam and Ben are not going to be competing in the Gravity 12 hour race this year with me as they are living up in Cairns for a year. Thus I was keen to do a race with them at some point. When I saw this appear on the Cairns MTB club calendar it was appealing, then I saw the RRR Classic on the following weekend. That pretty much sealed this holiday for me, so we did the 8 hour race last weekend. As I saw in the few words I write about it, fun, pretty cruisy, could use more interesting singletrack but on the whole worth doing if you are up here.

Anyway if you want to see the details (photos, some words) have a look where I put them.

[/mtb/events] link

Great coffee and some mango wine - 21:31

35 KG of coffee roasted at a time (full size)
As I suggested the other day, I spent Thursday up in the table lands checking out some local produce of interest and looking around Kuranda. The produce of interest was local coffee, and I had a look at a Mango winery simply for the novelty value.

The photo to the left is the bean roaster at the NQ Gold Coffee plantation, this was a good plantation to visit I reckon. Not far outside the town of Mareeba, the plantation is owned and operated by a family, all the coffee has been grown with no pesticides sprayed on it for the last 14 years. They do a free tour for you and will serve a fantastic coffee there. The beans are sun dried there and all processing is done on the premises. In addition to their three coffee varieties (light, medium, espresso) they sell chocolate covered coffee beans, dried fruit (mango and others) and mango jam. All of which I ended up buying. After this visit I decided not to go visit one of the larger more commercial coffee plantations as I was well satisfied with the details I got from this visit. The woman who gave the tour mentioned there is one restaurant in Canberra that serves their coffee (possibly the Chill restaurant in Campbell, I forget).

Afterwards I headed off to the Golden Drop Mango Winery mostly to satisfy my curiosity as to what it could taste like. They had three varieties of wine, Dry, Medium and Sweet, they also sold Mango Port and Mango Liquor, Mango Champagne plus a few other fruit based liquors. I generally prefer dry wines, however I was worried that mango wine would all be somewhat sweet, I was pleasantly surprised to find the dry was indeed a rather good tasting dry wine. The most noticeable thing is there is an almost overpowering Mango aroma from the wine. I liked the novelty of the drink, however at the price (AUD $25 per 750ml bottle) it would not replace a standard drinking wine for many people who drink wine regularly.

After this I headed back to Cairns via Baron Gorge and Kuranda to check out the views and township.

[/leisure/food] link

Wed, 16 Aug 2006

Snicker Doodles - 22:41
The cookies I make fairly often (with apple, choc chip, oat and coconut) are a basic soft sugar cookie recipe. I recalled that there was some slang name for this basic soft cookie in the US however I can never remember it. A few minutes ago I saw an email address with the word Smackerdoodle in it and remembered the cookies were called something doodle. A quick google for "cookie doodle" has reminded me the US slang term for the basic soft sugar cookie is "Snicker Doodle".

[/leisure/food] link

Tea with a coconut aftertaste - 21:42
Sam and Ben purchased some tea from the Daintree Tea plantation when they were up there a few weeks ago. Ben prepared a pot of it a few minutes ago that I am drinking now. Damn good taste, I especially like the slight coconut flavoured aftertaste. I am happy to see I can order this tea online to be delivered to Canberra. (they also have US and Canadian importers) Who knows I may have found a tea to supplant my Twinings Irish Breakfast habit as my favourite tea. I had better sample this a lot more to make sure.

As for things to do up here, I am tempted tomorrow to head up to Mareeba to some local coffee plantations and a Mango Winery as mentioned in this food itinerary. I love fresh coffee, and Mango wine sounds good.

[/leisure/food] link

Good and Bad - 17:16
Having a holiday in a warm place like Cairns with your mountain bike and a road bike available for long rides in the middle of winter. Good.

Coming down with a sore throat threatening to be a cold that makes exerting oneself difficult (160 KM road ride not feasible today) and making you sleepy and lethargic. Bad.

Ahh well.

[/various] link

Tue, 15 Aug 2006

Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging - 12:00

New York Milk Carton
This photo from around July 6th in New York has branding suggesting you consume the product 365 days a year maybe. I guess that is acceptable with milk, however I shudder at the thought of having a tall cold glass of cold pressed olive oil 365 days a year as the bottle of 365 olive oil in the background may suggest.

[/various/milkcarton] link

Yummy eggplant bake - 10:19
I get The Australian newspaper for most of the year for AU $15 through a university staff and students deal. The Weekend Australian is delivered on Saturdays and the Sunday Telegraph is delivered on Sunday, the week day papers I pick up on campus through the week. All of this is to explain why I have the Sunday Telegraph at home (I would never willingly purchase it otherwise, snob that I am <g>).

In the Body and Soul section of the Sunday Telegraph on July 16th this year there were three very appealing recipes. Spicy Fish Soup with Cracked Wheat, Easy Eggplant Bake and Pumpkin, Pine Nut and Silverbeet Rolls. I have been meaning to try these out for a while, however had not gotten around to changing my normal shopping and food preparation for meals at home. While on holiday I decided to try them out so last night I cooked the Easy Eggplant Bake (recipe) for Sam, Ben and I to eat for dinner.

That is definitely one fantastic vegetarian dish, highly recommended, the garlic and the nutty flavour of the dry roasted couscous are good with the eggplant base. I will probably try the pumpkin, pine nut and silverbeet rolls on Thursday.

[/leisure/food] link

Fri, 11 Aug 2006

Training for things to do while sleeping - 11:53
This is not the thing where I often am on the verge of being asleep, and seem to think I am riding my bike and falling asleep, then jerk awake and realise I am in bed trying to get to sleep. This is about dreams, or lack there of as the case is.

I do not ever remember dreams, I guess I have them, I hear that in Psychology class at college or other places you learn how to remember dreams or something. I guess I could search online about it, however I wonder why some people seem more likely to remember their dreams than others, what causes this. Is it more instinctive for some people?

I am fairly sure I am not like Barbie in the Sandman collection A Game of You, I have not simply stopped dreaming, with only dreams from some time prior to a traumatic event in my memory.

[/various] link

Tue, 08 Aug 2006

There goes an 8 year stretch - 22:28
Ahh well it was unlikely to ever last I guess, until 6am on Sunday morning it had been 8 years since I consumed any food from McDonalds and around 6 years since consuming anything from there (I had a coffee handed to me while driving to the snow about 6 years ago).

Around 6am on Sunday morning after getting out of a warm sleeping bag out at the race venue for the working week series 8 hour mtb race, as Russ and I started setting up the site ready for the 6:30am rego arrivals and getting everything happening for the race that day Stu (the race promoter) rocked up and handed us both Bacon and Egg muffins. Who was I to turn down free hot food containing bacon.

I guess the main reason I have avoided McDonalds (and since trying it for the first time ever 3 years ago also avoiding Hungry Jacks) is I do not like the taste of most of the food on offer and it is never particularly healthy even if it tastes alright. There is almost always better tasting or healthier (or both better tasting and healthier) food available so I do not see any point in consuming the food on offer from these ubiquitous fast food providers.

I would however live on Bacon and Egg rolls if that were possible so eating a Bacon and Egg muffin almost fits with in that dietary plan. Mmmmm Bacon.

[/leisure/food] link

Mon, 07 Aug 2006

A good web comic with stick figures - 18:29
My cousin Nick pointed *snigger* me at a rather cool geeky web comic today. I only realised when I saw a recent comic I recognised that I had already seen a link to this site previously but had not read more. I must say there are some fantastic jokes in the archive, I also like that the creator has to make it funny through the text as they are not doing anything with the drawing to try to bring on much reaction, though the simplicity in and of itself is pretty neat.

The one Nick emailed me about had me giggling, some of the others I really liked were c10 (though fairly obviously this was created before the recent news about the Japanese physicists who plan to create mini universes in their lab), c26 (a vet friend of mine is named Libby), c69 (almost appropriately numbered even), c73 (who needs those hammer time jokes), c86, c87 (which needs to be closely followed by c135), c107, c108 (could not stay away from the hammer jokes), c109 (pack them spoilers in), c118, c120 (endurance dating, of course this is the sort of thing we know Dave and Julie do all the time).

Anyway if you have some time maybe have a look through more of them.

[/amusing] link

Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging - 12:00
Monday Edition.

Saw this link on BoingBoing today to reviews of the 1 Gallon jug of Tuscan Grade A Milk. Highly amusing, if you have a milk carton large enough to hold a Gallon (3.785 litres) of milk what would you do with it?

Now that amazon is selling groceries many people have started reviewing the groceries, mostly in a similar humorous vein.

[/various/milkcarton] link

Wed, 02 Aug 2006

The LA Emperor^WPresident's new wardrobe - 17:27
I notice a mention of anti rfid wallet sleeves or similar on Boing Boing to protect your wallet or RFID cards from being scanned. Now thinking of sleeves, Jon needs a new wardrobe! (I wonder if he wants some long sleeved hello kitty jumpers). Just think if the sleeves on all his clothing were Anti RFID, no one would go around stealing his identity.

[/various] link

Do they really make fake crappy network cards? - 16:24
This is interesting, as Bob mentioned on the CLUG list we had some problems with some network cards that appeared to be Realtek 8139 based recently. As suggested in a few (linux netdev posts with mention of the pci id 1904:8139 there) places, there may (a copy of the code here from the INTEX Zip file mentioned in the previous post) be a 2.4 driver (of somewhat questionable licence, quality and capability)

It was interesting to see, as Bob pointed out, the driver supplied with the cards will load on windows, and appear to say it is a 8139 card, yet it was not recognised as a 8139 by the default windows 8139 driver, nor does this driver work with other 8139 cards.

I kind of wonder what details can be extracted from the 2.4 driver file, as suggested in the netdev posts it may be weird, however if we are allowed to use those register details and such it should be possible to get a working 2.6 driver and maybe even make a driver that does not suck. Of course I do wonder why you would want to fake a 8139 rather than badge it as if it were a much better network card.

[/comp/hardware] link

Getting a Kyocera FS 820 Laser Printer working under Linux - 14:42
I needed to buy a laser printer that would be used on a POS system and make it work under Linux. I looked at the Linux printing suggested printers page and found they recommended a Kyocera FS 820 as it is fully supported and provides a very low cost per page. I purchased it at a local computer shop for AUD $185 which is pretty damn cheap.

Kyocera provide a lot of ppd's that can be used with Linux, however they do not provide one for this printer. The Linux Printing page for the printer is not much help, however I find the PPD for the F-820 drives it successfully at 300x300 and also at 600x600 if I manually add the line

*Resolution 600x600dpi/600 DPI: "<</HWResolution[600 600]>>setpagedevice"
to the ppd file. I also found the margins needed a bit of adjustment, at the moment the best I can get (losing a few mm off the top of the page currently) is with
*Margins Custom/Custom : "<</.HWMargins[0 20 30 0] /Margins[0 0]>>setpagedevice"
as a Custom margin in the ppd file.

To get the printer working I needed the usblp driver in the 2.6 kernel and to install a few packages (cups and related), at the moment I have installed "cupsys foomatic-filters-ppds cupsys-driver-gutenprint cupsys-driver-gimpprint foomatic-filters python-foomatic python-ipy printconf hpijs hplip pconf-detect" (on debian) however I suspect I do not really need all of them.

One problem I had with it for a while is it did not seem to be able to find the usb printer most of the time. It took me a while to realise (by running lpinfo -v a few times that it seemed the printer utilities no longer were able to see the usb printer device after the first time they looked for it after it was plugged in. I hope this is due to some bugs in the kernel version or cups version I am using (notably I compiled usblp with gcc 4.0.3 and the kernel I inserted it into was compiled using gcc 4.0.2) and this is on a machine running sid. When I get the production machine set up it is running a debian kernel image and also a sarge system everywhere. For now I can put up with testing from my laptop by re plugging the cable every time I need to print.

Interestingly the device shows up as usb://Kyocera/FS-820 (also you can speak to /dev/usb/lp0) which as they say means it can be plugged in with other printers and not be dependent on plug in order (though if you plug in multiple FS-820's that may now work <g>) Oh and I wonder if the above mentioned need to re plug the usb interface all the time is a cups utils bug due to the fact /dev/usb/lp0 is there all the time an if I do "echo text > /dev/usb/lp0" at any time it prints a page with that plain text on it quite happily.

[/comp/hardware] link

Tue, 25 Jul 2006

Floyd Stories - 13:37
I found a great Landis Profile/Interview linked on Kottke today. Most amusing, the concept of Floyd stories throughout the peloton, as suggested he has increased his legend status a great deal in the tour this year. The 30 coffees in one sitting story is from Lance's book, the others come from somewhere, who knows how much they change with being re-told. As someone said to me in an email the other day after seeing Landis' incredible stage 17 performance. Landis is an absolute dude! I tend to agree.

[/mtb] link

Sun, 23 Jul 2006

Another funny quote from an Aussie in the tour. - 01:37
I do not know if this is an accurate quote, however Mike Tomalaris just repeated something he claimed Robbie McEwan said to him the other day. In discussing how interesting this tour has been and the battles between the top GC contenders. Apparently McEwan said "Yes unlike the last seven years where there was a huge battle between GC contenders up until the tour prologue when Lance took control of the race". Heh, yet another good quote from an Australian Tour rider.

[/mtb] link

Thu, 20 Jul 2006

This tour is amazing - 23:40
Not to take anything away from Armstrong, his tour wins are incredible, however it really is true this is the most interesting tour to watch in a long time, possibly since Lemond's last win or longer.

Two days ago Landis seemed fairly comfortable on he stage finishing on Alpe'd'Huez, then yesterday Landis exploded on the final climb and lost 10 minutes to the stage winner. At this point everyone wrote Landis off. Now tonight watching the stage, Landis went on the attack, somehow they let him get away and he has a huge gap on the rest of the contenders.

And Landis is not the only game in town, Evans and Rogers are both riding well for the Australian flavour, especially with Evans likely to end up higher than his 8th place finish last year this time around.

I should go to sleep so I can function at work tomorrow but my god this is incredible, such an incredible race to watch this year.

[/mtb] link

Sun, 16 Jul 2006

Honesty in interviews - 22:23
Geez I love the sense of humour some Australian cyclists tend to use when interviewed during the tour. Last year I was amused by Stuart O'Grady's sarcasm and now tonight on the live coverage there was a snippet of them asking Cadel Evans how the day was in the stage that aired last night (long hot flat stage where Landis let a break away go more than 30 minutes in front and get the yellow jersey). Cadel's response was along the lines of "Long, Sunburnt, Sore Bum, but thats the tour". Good to see such blunt honesty from a high GC rider, you never heard Armstrong say Sore Bum in interviews.

[/mtb] link

Sat, 15 Jul 2006

Mythtv manual record problems - 20:54
There have now been two really strange things I have seen with my mythtv setup and manual recording schedules.

Yesterday evening I was glancing over the upcoming recording schedule. I had set it to record the Tour de France highlights show every evening at 6pm on SBS, this has been working fine for the last week and a half since I set it in there initially. However for some reason the Saturday and Sunday evening sessions were not in the schedule. No idea why, anyway when I noticed this I deleted the lot and then made another manual recording telling it to tape every 6pm half hour slot from tonight onward and it was in there fine for as long as it should be.

Tonight I saw something even stranger, while the mythtv box was recording Dr Who (according to the status screen it said it was currently recording that) I did an ls in the directory all the recordings are stored in. I saw the 1800 file from the tour highlights (half hour show) and then I noticed there was no new Dr Who file (1930 for an hour) being recorded. I did the ls while the show was being recorded, so I tried a ps auxw and noticed the tuner was indeed doing something as the [cx88 dvb] kernel process was there. For some unknown reason the damn software did not actually save the file to disk. After the show finished I had a look at the upcoming schedule and I notice it had removed all future recordings of Dr Who from the schedule (every Saturday at 19:30 for an hour).

I have no idea why this is happening, Paul Wayper has suggested I should put the effort into ensuring the guide data stuff works and is tied to channels so recordings can be done through that rather than simply requesting a recording at some given time. However it is somewhat strange to see manual recordings playing up in this manner. For now I will simply have to be careful and regularly check the recordings I request are in there and hope they all actually get written to disk.

[/comp/software] link

Mon, 10 Jul 2006

Two 8 hour events, a mtb race and a rogaine. - 13:31
The past two weekends I have competed in two 8 hour events, one the working week series (8 hour mountain bike races) round 4 at Yarramundi near Richmond in greater Sydney and the weekend just past in the ACT RA Championships 8 Hour rogaine held in Bournda National Park near Bega (the camp was the rather lovely, and well equipped Hobart Beach campground). My photos from the two events are now online.

I think Hobart beach campground would be a good place to go for some AR training, good Kayaking both on lake Wallagoot and in the ocean. Great trail running and bush trekking in the region. Not much mountain bike potential on the maps we had but there probably is more available not too far away.

[/mtb] link

Thu, 06 Jul 2006

Some short crit times from this morning - 13:30
One thing that can provide some indication of improvement or speed is to have a specific circuit or climb you know your time on and can compare against that at other times. This morning I thought I would put that in practice a bit during the ride. I selected a short (2.34 KM) circuit at Majura, mostly on single track, with the intention to ride it at pace a few times during the morning ride.

I suspect I am somewhat slow and unfit currently so I hope to improve on this significantly. This morning I did both my fast laps of that circuit in almost exactly 8m30s, the second lap I slowed down on all the climbing, however there was more daylight so I was able to do that lap with no lights.

[/mtb] link

Wed, 05 Jul 2006

The pungent smell of spam - 08:44
It is obviously true that spammers really do find you anywhere, today I received spam to my palindromic email address. It however only received a spam assassin score of 3.5, ahh well.

[/comp/email] link

Tue, 04 Jul 2006

Oh so slow - 23:03
So on the weekend I competed in round 4 of the working week series, mens pairs with David McCook. The results came out today and I was able to see how incredibly slow I was. I should have been able to consistently lap at under 30 minutes per lap all day. I did not crack 30 minutes at all, all day I was finding I could not climb at speed. I guess the heads up I had on Stromlo last Monday was pretty much accurate, I really am a bit slower than I should be at the moment.

I am beginning to consider actually training for the first time in my life (as opposed to going out and having fun on the bike all the time). In order to do this I should probably learn a lot more about training and physiology. Three books that could help if I choose to buy them are "Bike Racing 101 by Kendra and Rene Wenzel", "The Cyclists Training Bible by Joe Friel" and though not cycling specific it sounds good (I read the first page or two on Amazon) "Running: The Athlete Within by David Costill".

I had a look at the ANU library and there does not seem to be anything on exercise physiology or similar topics (probably because that sort of stuff is taught at UC instead). The ACT Library service seems to have a few books that may be of interest so I can read them first though.

[/mtb] link

Mon, 26 Jun 2006

That ol' Stromlo thing again - 17:22
As it happens Tony will be getting a fancy new rather light nice road bike later this week (probably one of these), thus to give me a bit of oomph on the bike in the hope I can still ride faster than him I decided I had better go and climb Mt Stromlo during the day again today.

Damn that was bad, 12:30 for the climb itself, 1h11m for the 36.4KM ride (work,stromlo,work) which is a rather lacklustre average speed of 30.6 KMh. The worst was during the climb, I had been unable to keep the pace above 20 KMh on the first half, a little past the boom gates I started picking the pace up properly and all of a sudden I was unable to breathe without pain. My diaphragm muscles were really hurting. I think the main reason for this is I have done no hard efforts since before the geoquest and thus had not had to breathe hard, especially not in the cold air we have in town currently. I think I need to go out and do a bunch more rides by myself at high pace with some hills to get me breathing hard.

[/mtb] link

Sun, 25 Jun 2006

Attempting to fix the Google images result for me - 16:20
Steven Hanley
Steven Hanley
I noticed the other day while ego surfing myself on google images that the first hit for Steven Hanley has changed. It used to be a photo from the 2004 Gravity 12 Hour, from my Gravity 12 2004 race photos page, taken by Mikey of me riding an obstacle they had at the race. I was never quite sure while Google Images associated that photo with me, I did not have my name linked directly to the photos or in the file name. However it was an alright sort of photo so I let it be.

The photo now coming up as top hit is one from the Wild Horse Ridge ride last year, this photo that comes up top hit currently was taken by Andrew Cassie, from behind and is simply a photo of a bunch of flies on my backpack (I copied it from his site and renamed it). Thus the image to the left, with my name as the filename and both the alt, id and title tags set. Lets hope I can replace the flies on my backpack with this, an image taken at the 2005 Triple Triathlon.

[/various] link

Tue, 20 Jun 2006

More success with the tv tuner card - 16:06
Thanks to tpot for a bunch of help with suggestions on what to use t make this run. I was able to tune into a channel (SBS HD) and record it successfully (dump to a file the broadcast stream) and play it on my laptop.

I needed the dvb-utils and dvbstream packages, Tim said first off generate a channel scan in a format xine and other applications will understand (including tzap) which is done using the scan program from dvb-utils.

/usr/bin/scan -o zap /usr/share/doc/dvb-utils/examples/scan/dvb-t/au-canberra > channels.conf

This channels.conf is understood by xine and the tzap command (tune to a channel), to tune into a given channel run tzap -r "Channel Name" where the channel name is listed in the channels.conf. I have not yet found Ten/Capital, however this is using rabbit ears in my office, I suspect when hooked up to the roof mounted antenna at home all will be better. This was enough to find a lot of other channels though so that is good.

Leaving tzap running in the background in another xterm I was then able to run "dvbstream 8192 -o > output.ts" and it sat there dumping the raw video/audio stream until I hit control c. As Tim pointed out the stream is about 1 MB per second and with dual audio streams can soak up more. Almost 2 minutes and I was using 150 MB of disk for the output.ts already. I strongly suspect transcoding to a more compressed on the fly will be necessary. The 8192 above is a dummy value that simply tells dvbstream to dump all of the stream it sees.

Anyway I copied the file to my laptop and played it with mplayer, the quality really is rather nice 720x576 I think, definitely better than normal tv, woohoo bring on the Tour de France.

[/comp/hardware] link

Mon, 19 Jun 2006

TV Tuner Card - 20:56
So I finally purchased a TV Tuner card today, a Leadtek WinFast DTV2000 H, I bought it thinking it was a DTV2000 which is supported in Linux with the bttv driver. Upon realising it was a different card I was worried it was not yet supported. However upon looking around the site I found a link to their Mercurial repository with the latest list of supported cards with the CX88 chipset from the cx88 devices page. The machine I am installing on is an old PIII 866 and for the last while I have been building kernel packages and the v4l-dvb tree. I have however successfully gotten the card recognised so that is good.

I am of course doing this as the Tour de France is looming and I look forward to being able to record all of the live stages televised onto a computer.

[/comp/hardware] link

Fri, 16 Jun 2006

Out of Range at the Geoquest half adventure race - 21:32
Last weekend Michelle, Lina, Ian and I headed up to the Macleay valley with 200 or more other people for the Geoquest adventure race, we competed in the half as team "Out of Range". It took us 31.5 hours to finish the race, and now we want to go back next year for the full. Anyway I wrote a Geoquest race report with photos.

[/mtb/events] link

So will Jon be getting magnets next? - 17:44
So after Jon Oxer went ahead and implanted an RFID chip in his arm I wonder if he will be continuing down the Johndo path and implanting magnets in his fingertips as a wired article (found on kottke and other places) mentions some people have done. Apparently it gives you a sort of sixth sense for magnetic fields.

[/various] link

Wed, 07 Jun 2006

The balance has returned to the force^Wblogs - 11:10
All is once again right in the bloggy world as Fafblog is back and happening, I have not even read the entry yet but darn it is good to see it again.

[/various] link

Tue, 06 Jun 2006

Did she get the telegram? - 16:07
Yes she did!

I have wondered for a while now, when the Queen Mother turned 100 did she receive a telegram from the Queen (Elizabeth II) her daughter? (All citizens of the Commonwealth who reach that age receive a telegram from the Queen AFAIR) Now the source is not authoritative however I see no reason for it to be false. The Queen Mother did receive a Telegram from Queen Elizabeth II on the morning of her 100th birthday. Neat.

I looked for a bit more information, the fact that telegrams are slowly having their use discontinued around the world is of little matter as the aforementioned message is delivered some other way now days. However a more authoritative source does confirm the Queen Mother received the message (the first member of the Royal family to do so). Apparently most people will need to register to receive the message (I say most, I suspect the Queen Mother did not have to register).

The bit I like the most about the message the Queen mother received is she had a guard open it with a sword, that is high style, they don't need no steenkin letter openers there, they have swords!

[/various] link

Mon, 05 Jun 2006

Small disks and low memory are not the default case. - 22:26
After yet another 10 GB disk died on one of the computers I installed Ubuntu on for a housemate I noticed I had a reliable seeming 2.5 GB disk sitting around so I put that in and started and install of dapper.

During the install it warned me less than 95% of disk space was available, it did however make it through the install and at the end of the install cleared off a lot of language packs and other items so there was around 320MB of free disk. I rebooted and went to install "easy ubuntu" so my housemate could watch movies or real player files or whatever and it said it would need around 300 MB of disk while doing the install.

I have now removed all the cups and print drivers, all the non Arabic font ttf packages, all the un needed X Display drivers and a bunch of other stuff to recover some more space. Obviously so few computers come with small disks the need to cater for them is dwindling, at least the measly 256 MB of RAM in this system gets by (though slowly), if only there were more RAM slots on the motherboard, I have around 30 128 MB sticks sitting in my office at work doing not much.

Of course I have a 486 dx2 66 with 16 MB RAM and a 420 MB drive sitting around somewhere, I wonder how that would fare? Though if we go that way a whole lot of people could rare up commenting on us youth of today having it so easy compared to the punch cards and ticker tape from the days of yore.

[/comp/linux] link

Sun, 04 Jun 2006

Taking it easy in a race - 13:21
I drove out and competed in the CORC XC race this morning at the Sutton Rd XC course. I really enjoy the course, and not many people ever get out to ride it much, I know I do not. The single tracks in some sections are deeply reminiscent of the tracks through the Labyrinth and Kowalski sections of Greenhills. They are also remarkably smooth tracks for the lack of riding they get.

I took the single speed out and raced on it, there were around 5 other single speed riders there (mostly in different categories though) (Mal Bennett, Andrew Cassie, David Austin and some I do not know). I decided to take it easy and rather than race in my normal category and try to go fast I went down to an easier category and simply rode comfortably mid pack, overtaking people when I felt like it and generally not working too hard. I should race XC more often to get my speed up, however I was no in the mood for a workout today so it was rather pleasant taking it easier in a slower grade.

Due to the number of single speeders there this race and I know a few more people who race (either there or absent this week) have them, we may try having a separate category for Single Speeders (and probably for cyclo cross riders) to compete in at the next few XC races and see if people are keen for a specific category. Anyway fun was had.

[/mtb] link

Fri, 02 Jun 2006

Oops a rather nice wine - 23:40
Just as a reminder, I really liked the Stoneleigh 2005 Sauvignon Blanc (from Marlborough in NZ). Of course upon getting sick of a bottle of wine rattling around in the fridge, I should not simply assume it was from the dinner party a few weeks ago (after which there were a few half full bottles of wine to polish off over time). This was a half full bottle belonging to one of my housemates, fortunately I was able to find a replacement while out shopping tonight.

[/leisure/food] link

Problems with long sleeve shells - 18:57
So around an hour ago I got back to work after a ride out to Woden to buy some hardware and stuff for setting up tow lines off the back of my bike (to tow team mates in the Geo Half next weekend) and a new pair of trail running shoes I needed (Asics Trabuco).

Because the weather yesterday and this morning was wet (constant soaking rain) I had a light weight waterproof shell jacket, a thermal and a cycle jersey to wear. Normally in this temperature I would wear arm warmers and a shell vest instead, however with rain possible I decided on long sleeves. I probably should have stuck with what I prefer, I was again reminded why I do not like wearing long sleeve shells, you heat up and sweat far more than is sensible, my jersey and thermal are now soaked (admittedly if I had ridden at a sedate pace this would not have happened, however I was in a rush so it did).

I fortunately have some dryer clothing to wear for the short ride home, to which I should head soon as I need to replace a spoke in the back wheel on the hardtail, set up the towing system, do grocery shopping and some other stuff (see I can be boring and mundane in a diary as well as anyone).

[/mtb/gear] link

Mon, 29 May 2006

Dikipedia - 23:01
I want to know why they had to call it Wiktionary rather than Dikipedia, after all the latter name would amount to endless seconds of puerile amusement for English speakers. No sense of adventure I tell you.

[/amusing] link

Fri, 26 May 2006

External VGA on the laptop better now - 15:32
When I got this laptop (Dell X300) back in 2004, the way to get the external VGA display to work under Linux was with a i810switch program, then a while later I had to use the i855crt program to get the external vga to display. These worked (though it meant remembering to use a command when I used a projector or similar for presentations) however I was unable to display XV (overlaid video) or similar output over this (and there were some mouse problems with HW or SW Cursor or something)

I had heard for a while that X.Org had fixed the driver enough to enable continuous output on both from the X Server without these hacks, and the added bonus was there was now a way to get the overlay video reliably. (it could work sometimes with the hacks on some computers). Today I tracked down this page on a thinkpad wiki discussing Intel 855 GM graphics set up under Linux on some laptops. The xorg.conf changes and xvattr command all work fine and I now have better external video with XV available if wanted. Yay.

[/comp/linux] link

There must be a lot of woodwork around. - 14:08
Every Friday year round there is a mountain bike ride starting at ANU at 6am and heading off into the bush somewhere nearby for around one and three quarter hours. (email archive with details of proposed rides) I tend to lead these rides most weeks (if I am in town) and on the whole we all have a lot of fun. Usually we get larger numbers of people in the summer months (warmer, and light for the whole ride), then the numbers tend to fall most years through the darker colder months. Thus it has been impressive and very cool the last month or two that we have consistently had more than 10 people on most of the Friday morning rides.

Today however, as Andrew suggested the people really came out of the woodwork, there were 19 people on the ride, and another who missed us by about 5 minutes at the start so rode around elsewhere and joined us at breakfast. It really is cool that 20 people are keen and willing to get up in the dark and cold and go mountain biking on Friday morning like this. It is cool simply to see more people on bikes regularly too. Rock on.

I recall on the mid winter rides in 2003 for example, fairly often there were only four of us on the ride, our 2003 Mont 24 Hour Race team of Dave, Julie, Aaron and myself. (largely due to the fact Julie would beat us up if we did not get the requisite training in to do well and make it worth her while riding on our team <g>)

[/mtb] link

Thu, 25 May 2006

Being sensible in public to avoid Doocing - 15:36
I am probably just writing this to push Michael, Michael and Stewart's heads further down the page so I will not see them every time I view this site in my browser. Anyway looking back to February last year, there was a fair bit of stuff on the bloggynet at the time about people being Dooced. Anil Dash posited his theory that no one has ever been fired for blogging (with some good comments) and he further commented on this theory (more in depth) later.

Danah Boyd further fleshed out the idea pointing out that people need to pay attention to how much they are in the public sphere when blogging. Unless you have one of those closed off, friends only sort of blogs (such as can be common on Live Journal and assuming you have a reader ship of unknown size (due to google and other search engines this can almost be guaranteed) you have to be careful how you present yourself, and remember the context in which you are writing.

I recall Alli was a little put out with being linked onto Planet Linux Australia early last year as she thought she had to be more careful than previously about what she wrote in her diary. I did not see a problem as Alli is smart and aware of how the the Internet and search engines and such function to the extent that she did not write stuff for public consumption that could be too negatively interpreted.

On the whole I think anyone who realises what they say either in email to mailing lists or on their blogs is fodder for search engines and for anyone to read at some point can be smart enough to keep that context in their writing. Of course with some of the blogs being so pleased at various people seemingly being fired for blogging around February last year Giblets at Fafblog has good insight on the issue.

[/comp/blogging] link

Wed, 24 May 2006

Made a few hackergotchis - 16:34
So I noticed a while back that Mikal had stopped using the crown of flowers hackergotchi I created for him Mikal Crown of Flowers Hackergotchi, this got me thinking, maybe I should make a few more hackergotchis, after all Michael Davies did suggest it would be good to have at least most of the LA committee gotchiid up.

So I made one for Rusty the other day, however he may not like it seen in the wild so I wont put it here. Then I made one for Stewart Stewart enjoying a beer at Tridge's which means two more of the LA type people may have one (Stewart said he may as well use this as it is as good as any).

I have a few photos of jk, cyeoh, Hugh and even a fairly good one of Alli (one I hope she would not kill me for suggesting the use of).

I was wondering who else to do (rather than make the hackergotchis of the above mentioned people) and it occurred to me I have a lot of photos of Michael (Crash) Carden available from various cycling events and such. So I grabbed three photos I had taken that could make reasonable hackergotchis and created them.

Crash about to enjoy a beer at Polaris 05 Crash riding the Corn Trail Crash looking startled in New Zealand

He likes the first one the most (probably because the images with helmets make him look like my hackergotchi or something) so hopefully Michael Davies will use that one soon.

I added alt tags to all the img tags, though I do not know if they will show up on a mouseover or not. I had someone point out to me I need to use the title tag in the img to get the string of text that comes up on mouseover, this seems to be duplicating some of the alt purpose to some extent, ahh well.

[/comp/internet] link

Mon, 22 May 2006

Sarah found some more real life whacky warning labels - 21:59
I do not know if it is the same as the pedometer Mikal was given and he simply did not feel the need to mention this, however we can be thankful Sarah shared the details from the instructions. This is fun like the instructions I got with my coffee grinder or the supposed warning labels seen in the wild by various people. As the commenter on Sarah's diary says, yay for Engrish.

[/amusing] link

Turtle velocity - 20:51
Ahh I love wikipedia sometimes, there is an article about Hairy Ball Theorem and it is a maths thing so get your minds out of the gutter.

I know I should not laugh but this Did You Know on Uncyclopedia got me giggling, "...that some species of turtle are remarkably resistant to centrifugal force, and can reach upwards of 5000 rpm before their wee little flippers fall off?"

[/amusing] link

Program your chest messages from Linux - 14:29
Last year at lca2005, Bob purchased a led message display badge (AMPLUS Ebadge) from the computer shop on campus to display messages scrolling across my chest. The badge is pretty cool, as can be seen on me here while talking to Edale. At the time the program to modify the message was only available in Windows, though it was likely to be simple to write a program on Linux that could do this, a the time we were somewhat busy and no one bothered making it work on Linux.

The badges are still available from the computer shop on campus, and probably from other places, anyway Bob sat down for two hours last night, sniffed the protocol and wrote a user space program that sets the serial port to the right speed and pumps the necessary data across, this way you can set the message from a command line program on Linux rather than find a windows machine (which are somewhat rare anywhere we happen to be)

If you happen to have the badge or plan to get one, Bob has put the source code in public accessible svn, "svn co" to get the source (or simply follow that link in a browser).

[/comp/hardware] link

Sun, 21 May 2006

Some things I did not do today - 22:13

[/various/ilmiwac] link

Sat, 20 May 2006

DPL photo avoidance privilege? - 18:59
So on p.d.n today someone linked to the Debconf6 attendees photo, now I may be half blind and have missed it, but as far as I can see AJ is not in the photo. How did he get out of it? As DPL does he have some special photo avoidance privilege for a year (I see some previous DPLs in the photo) or something. Heck even the stuffed toy DPL AJ linked to that he may be using when too busy to represent Debian in person from time to time is not in evidence in the big photo...

The big photo is obviously taken from the air, I wonder if they used the Cabal's s3kr1t black helicopter to take the photo?

[/various] link

Perceptions coloured by what we see and our preconceived notions - 17:47
So for a number of years now I have discounted the artist Pink as some music industry produced typically crap pop artist (maybe not as bad as Britney or Christina, but of a similar vein). I had done this simply because glancing at the occasional video clip of hers I had seen, she was a blonde, polished looking glitzy sort of current music artist.

I never really thought more of it until I read Danah Boyd's take on Pink back in April. With someone like Danah suggesting her lyrics were: smart, hard hitting, sensible, and "incredibly beautiful"; I thought it may be worth more thought than I had expended so far. I bought the new album last night and have been listening to it on repeat since getting home from the road ride this morning.

Danah was right, there are some absolutely amazing lyrics here, good sound on the whole with a lot of the music and I just saw the video clip for "Stupid Girls" on the Pink website and it really is a fantastic piss take of the typically crap produced pop artists I had previously passed Pink off as one of. Almost as much fun as the Cruel Sea Boy Band piss take (I can not remember the song title so can not link to it, anyone remember it?)

The wikipedia entry on Pink may give a hint on why she was so easy to pass off as produced crap, with the claim that she gave up a lot of creative control on her first album and other early work, which though popular she disliked what was happening at the time with her music.

[/leisure/music] link

Wed, 17 May 2006

Slow but sneaky - 13:26
It appears you can see ways in which some people or animals may make up for certain shortcomings by increasing there ability in other areas. Sort of like deaf people who read lips or the claim that blind people are likely to have better hearing. This story I saw mention of on ABC yesterday is rather interesting. A pet turtle escaped and it took them 8 months to find it, in which time it had managed to travel 2.9KM away from the owner's house.

I imagine you would not really expend much effort looking out for a pet turtle, not expecting it to be able to escape your view even if you don't look for it more than once every few hours. These sneaky turtles obviously have other ideas, you turn around or you blink and suddenly your pet turtle is hiding behind the nearest available chicken.

[/various] link

Tue, 16 May 2006

What is here? - 17:31
I am here now, I was not here from Thursday afternoon until Monday night. Of course how can anyone really tell if I am making this up? I may not be here at all, just a keyboard by itself doing the one million monkeys thing! Spoooooooky!

Of course this is the Internet, well I think it is, otherwise this is some strange collective unconscious thing happening and we are indeed all eating fruit in a cave instead of participating in a vast global network of computers and people.

So assuming for a moment (we experience reality as it happens so who knows what we will see or need to assume in the next moment) that this is the Internets. What is here? For all those Internet addicted geeks who already had the T1 wired into their brains they may always be here. For everyone else you could argue not being here is one of those rare instances with no net connection. Of course how do you know when some random Internet user is connected, and thus here? It is almost like trees falling in the forest, if no one is connected to the Internet, does the Internet exist? and is there anyone on the Internet?

For all this there does seem to be a problem somewhere, whoever it is that makes the falling trees silent in the forest has stopped reading Fafblog as there has been nothing there since early April. Or maybe Chris locked Fafnir, Giblets and the Medium lobster in the basement, man wont Giblets be angry when they get out.

[/various/ilmiwac] link

Wed, 10 May 2006

Keep em home and in the kitchen says Johnny - 22:36
The items in the newspapers today pointing out what a disappointment the budget is for parents with young kids are I think quite correct. After Costello had been claiming for a while he would be providing a big up for Mothers and such there really is no good news. Sure the suspicion that this would all be bollocks (Costello's big talking) has been leaking through the papers for the last month or so, but it is still kind of bad.

I think it does indeed hark back to the fact the current Liberal government appears to be well and truly in the 1950s in their own heads. Or at least they wish they were, what is this sacrilege of mothers in the workforce? Gasp, get them back in the kitchens where they belong or some other such crap. The price of childcare, especially for young (under 3) kids is scary (around AUD $70 or $80 a day), however the other huge problem is how rare/scarce places are.

I have a number of friends who have given birth fairly recently (Rebecca and Ben a week and a half ago, Naomi and James 3 weeks ago, Amy and Daniel a few months ago, Sam and Ben January 2005, though this was their second child) and all of them have had large problems with getting on waiting lists or the cost of childcare if they even happen to get a place.

I do not know how much can really be done, or expected, after all it seems in this modern world we almost have to expect health and education to be severely underfunded to the point our nation suffers (smarter nations are more profitable nations) and making it hard to utilise half of the skills of the population who decide to reproduce really does seem to follow the same pattern.

[/various] link

Bringing us new and more violent Teddy Bear picnics - 18:24
Who needs the right to arm bears when you are armed with these.

How did he die? Shot in the chest with Winnie the Pooh sir!

[/various] link

Tue, 09 May 2006

I needed ear muffs to drown out all those high pitched monkeys - 17:22
I missed doing a longer ride this morning, thus I decided to head out for the Cotter/Uriarra loop by myself during the day today. I got back at 4:30pm, I was fairly slow, and waiting for the day did not seem to help the temperature much, the brass monkeys were still singing soprano for the 2 hours I was on the bike.

[/mtb] link

Mon, 08 May 2006

Arcadia - 14:06
On Friday night I went with a friend to see the Tom Stoppard play Arcadia, performed by Canberra Repertory. On the whole a most enjoyable evening of theatre. The actors appeared too be enjoying themselves, once or twice being unable to maintain straight faces when something funny was happening on stage.

One aspect I thought was very cool was how the play switched back and forth in time periods, however at the end the cool part was when they performed both periods on stage at the same time. The play will be on for the rest of the week, I recommend seeing it if you are of the mind, interesting, contains all manner of maths and history references and is an amusing comedy to boot.

[/leisure/theatre] link

Sat, 06 May 2006

Steel MTB Dairy Farmers Hill Meme - 22:11
New Steel Single Speed MTB on top of Dairy Farmers Hill
New Steel Single Speed MTB on top of Dairy Farmers Hill (full size)
No other people appear to be getting on board and participating in this Meme, I was even lucky that Tony reminded me I myself was participating in this Meme. You can see it was fairly late this afternoon that I took this photo (the flash makes it appear much darker than it really was outside at the time) and I had to use the lights for rest of the ride once I got down off the hill and back onto a bike track.

I was happy to make it up all the climbs to the top of Dairy Farmers on the single speed, no walking required.

[/mtb] link

Fri, 05 May 2006

Good coffee with no machine - 18:08
I saw a review on Dan's Data of the Aerobie AeroPress and was intrigued by the repeated claims in places that this makes good coffee.

I really do not like the coffee produced by the coffee machine in the office at work (some expensive automatic Saeco machine) and thus never drink it, instead I buy my own coffee and at work prepare it in a single cup filter. I have thought from time to time it may be good to have a coffee machine in my office at work so as to make reasonable coffee however I could not get around how inescapably pretentious that would be. This AeroPress however can even be put away in a drawer.

So I bought one, it arrived this morning (AUD $54 delivered, overnight, from the Australian distributor CoffeePress) and I am converted, this does indeed produce coffee as good as can be made in a quality machine.

[/leisure/food] link

Thu, 04 May 2006

My new single speed mountain bike. - 16:14
No Gears
No Gears (Full Size)
Well the single speed is going, I have yet to take it off road so no real report on how it rides yet. Photos so far are up. I will swap to more sensible (wide) bars tonight ready for the Friday morning mtb ride tomorrow. I also have a new pair of suspension forks on order for the hardtail which will free up the pair on it for use here if I decide I am soft enough to want suspension (which I probably am)

It is always a good day when N+1 happens.

[/mtb/gear] link

Wed, 03 May 2006

The Annual May Zombie post. - 13:41
Well I mentioned a zombie joke in a post last May, today while eating lunch I found another zombie joke that had me laughing, this one a flickr photo from Matthew Baldwin of Defective Yeti.

Two zombie posts in the last year, each in May (ignoring for a moment the Radio controlled Zombie Catholic Cardinals in the Vatican of last April), who knows it could be a trend for May.

Of course, if only I make zombie references every May I could be locked up for being a sick weirdo, heck if two people make zombie references each May they may think we are both faggots and lock us up, if three people do it they may think we are some sort of Zombie References in Blogs organisation, however if 50 people make Zombie references in May they may think there is a Zombie Referencing movement, so get with the Zombie References in your Blog this month. (yes with apologies to Arlo)

[/various] link

Tue, 02 May 2006

Almost need to get the beer hat and tattoo - 16:40
For those who do not know, single speed mountain biking culture appears to have a strong association with drinking beer and with getting tattoos. For example the Single Speed World Championships (unofficial) in Victoria 3 years ago had a "shortcut" each lap that involved sculling a schooner of beer and the prize for the person who won the race was a free tattoo.

I finally have most of my single speed bike put together and almost ready to go, I should be able to ride it (currently fully rigid) by the end of the week. Once it is assembled I will take a few photos and report on what it is like to ride. Though I doubt I will increase my alcohol intake up from about one standard drink a week (on average) I must say I was most impressed with the blacklight ink based tattoos, kind of like a private in joke. If I were not such a big girly man when it came to pain I may even consider getting one.

[/mtb/gear] link

Mon, 01 May 2006

2006 ACT 6 Hour Cyclegaine - 12:38
At least I did not hit a kangaroo driving to the event this year, anyway the ACT Rogaining Association 2006 6 Hour Cyclegaine was on yesterday down near Bombala in Bondi State Forest, Adrian has the results up already too. It rained all day so we did get a little bit damp, I was originally entered to compete in this with a friend who late last week found out she would have to work on Sunday morning and thus was unable to compete. Fortunately she found a replacement, though this put us in the Mens Open category rather than mixed I still got to compete in the event which was good.

The course was a lot of fun, though I was often wondering at how much wear my poor mountain bike was getting with all the clay and sand and grit and mud on it. We came 4th over all in the cycle event, first place in mens open (yes the first three teams were mixed category). I must congratulate my last minute team mate Brian, he had not ridden a bike much in the last 8 months (since leaving Canada) and had only purchased himself a new mountain bike a week ago. Brian kept up alright and we were able to ride at a comfortable pace all day. I must say I was surprised when I found out our placing, I really did not expect to do well over all. Of course the scary thing to note is we did around 45 KM of riding (3h30m riding time) and if you compare scores with the running event there were two teams with more points than us, geez those guys were running fast they also covered around 45KM or possibly more in the 6 hours.

[/mtb/events] link

Wed, 26 Apr 2006

Jill hands out a can of whup arse to Jack - 19:50
Jack & Jill Jersey front
Jack & Jill Jersey front (Full Size)
Jack & Jill Jersey back
Jack & Jill Jersey back (Full Size)
For a few years now Heidi has had a running joke with Mike Burden about how easily she can hand out a can of whup arse to him on a bike. Thus with her birthday this month I thought one of these jerseys would be a brilliant gift, alas they did not arrive in time to send them to her before her birthday but she can now receive a surprise gift in the post soon.

However as I love cool/less common jerseys so much, I thought it would be a shame to not see one in use locally much (Heidi lives in New Zealand of course), so I bought a second one to give to Sam. I really hope I got the right size, they appear really small however I think it should be about right (womens sizing and cut for both jerseys).

[/mtb/gear] link

Some shiny new parts - 18:57
Shiny new bike bits
Shiny new bike bits (Full Size)
The bar ends I use on all my mountain bikes are no longer available in Australia. Profile SOS Bar-Ends or SOS Boxer Bar-Ends, I prefer the slightly longer tipped plain SOS Bar-Ends. The Australian Profile distributor makes some claim about them being old models no loner produced, this is bollocks as many US bike stores still sell the bar end (and I believe the Australian distributor still brings in the stubby version Boxer Brief (no kink on the end)).

For the new single speed I have been slowly putting together I needed a pair of bar ends, being unable to get them here I had to make an order for them from the US, however it seemed excessive to pay US $20-$40 shipping for a US $22 item. Thus I ordered a few more items to fill out the order. 3 Pair of Oury lock on grips with clamps (one pair for each mtb) which will mean the end to grips twisting around during races and when wet otherwise (de to rain or excessive sweat). A pair of Deore V-Brake levers to use on the single speed with the V-Brakes I obtained for it. A Thomson seatpost to put on my hardtail (for a bit of bling) thus freeing up the cheapo seatpost on the hardtail for the single speed. A penguin squeaky horn I intend to attach to the single speed (damn cool piece of kit if you ask me) and of course the Profile boxer bar ends.

Retail prices in Australia are: Thomson Elite seatpost ~ AUD $200, Oury Lock On Grip kit AUD $58 per pair, Deore V-Brake Levers ~ AUD $45. Profile Boxer Bar Ends (unavailable but two years ago was around AUD $40) and Penguin Squeaky horn, no idea if that is available. I ordered this stuff from Universal Cycles as I had the drive train I purchased just before Christmas, this time including shipping I paid around AUD $300 for the lot. Probably a bit excessive, especially the Thomson seatpost but it is as you see a hell of a lot cheaper than the items in Australia.

[/mtb/gear] link

2006 Anzac Day Epic, down the Corn Trail and on to the coast. - 13:13
Yesterday was Anzac day, so continuing the tradition of the Anzac Day Mountain Bike Epic, JJJim and Morgs suggested riding the Corn Trail again. 15 people rocked up and had a fantastic day out on mountain bikes. Thanks to JJJim and Morgs and everyone who rocked up. I took some photos as did Crash (and Rob and Morgs), I have uploaded my 2006 Anzac Day Epic Photos (with links to Crash's and previous ADE photos)

Starting at around 9:30am at the top of the Clyde and finishing on the coast in the dark (with rain starting) at 6:30pm I think this ride attained some epic proportions.

[/mtb] link

Sun, 23 Apr 2006

The close of the Spicy Fruit Bun Festival again - 13:40
I went to pick up 2 loaves of country grain bread and hopefully more hot cross buns at Brumbys in Lyneham today. Alas the Spicy Fruit Bun festival has ended for 2006, they are no longer making them until March sometime next year. If I become desperate I may have to go the way Mikal planned and Sarah has.

[/leisure/food] link

Cycling on TV - 11:08
Partay, I tend to look at the tv guide maybe once a fortnight or so and thus never know if there is cycling on tv, I also tend to forget to tape Cycling Central during the months it is on SBS and thus miss it also. I happen to be at home this morning and I happened to look at the tv guide. The Paris-Roubaix is on SBS right now and I have remembered to watch it, they are passing through the Forest of Ahrenburg section right now.

Yet another reason to get a Mythtv box up and running before July so I can get the tour on disk to watch at leisure easily.

[/mtb] link

Thu, 20 Apr 2006

Today's black mountain times - 17:17
I went out at lunch to do some black mountain climbs, I did two, the first one seated the whole way in just under 12 minutes, not pushing too hard. The second climb I stayed standing the whole way, damn that hurts my feet, it took around 14 minutes. I gave some thought to doing a third climb at a fast pace however I had to go get something from home and was running out of lunch hour more than I wanted to. (considering I rocked up to work lateish today and will be going paddling in about 20 minutes so can not stay late to get through more work).

Anyway with no exercise this morning I think those climbs were a good start on todays exercise, now for some paddling to give the torso a work out also.

[/mtb] link

If it wasn't for those darn Kids^WWind Deities - 08:15
This morning, instead of going riding my house mates and I had planned to head in to the lawns in front of Old Parliament House to watch the balloons as part of the Canberra Balloon Festival. We woke up and I drove us in just after 6am, the weather appeared fine here at home however upon our arrival at the lawns we noticed there were no balloon being inflated, as we got out of the car we discovered to our dismay the wind was too strong for the balloons.

For me getting up before 6am was nothing unusual, I believe some of my house mates were somewhat upset the effort did not have the expected returns. A bit of a shame really, ahh well, I will go and get some exercise at lunch (Black Mountain reps) and maybe we can try again on Saturday or something (before the festival ends).

[/various] link

Wed, 19 Apr 2006

Women in a blokes world - 17:32
Interesting, Stewart is discussing movies in which women dress up as guys. I have not seen the movies so can not comment, however it reminded me of a book I saw an article about linked from kottke late in March. The article in the Guardian, Double Agent, touched on parts of the Norah Vincent book Self-Made Man: One Woman's Journey into Manhood and Back

Norah, a journalist, dressed up as a guy for 18 months and wrote a book about the experience. Including going bowling with the blokes as a guy activity, and even dating women during the time. I am keen to read this book sometime just to see the more detailed reasoning behind her so called newfound respect for blokey blokes if nothing else. It does sound like a strange but likely fascinating read though.

[/leisure/books] link

Odie Day - 12:05
What are we going to do today Garfield?
Chase parked cars and slobber like you do every day Odie!

[/various/ilmiwac] link

Mon, 17 Apr 2006

A bit of riding on the hardtail. - 20:02
Today I clocked up around 100 KM on the hardtail. The first ride was the Warks Rd, Bulls Head, Two Sticks Rd loop, around 65 KM all but the last 4 KM on dirt. Crash was there and took a few photos, as he suggests, all the shots appear to be of mountain bikers standing around, thus obviously that is all we do on mountain bikes, stand around chatting.

Upon returning home I grabbed some more food and drove out to a friend's place in Macgregor to show them a good route to use for commuting to and from work, this at least was a nice pleasant pace for the 34 KM we ended riding for the out and back trip. They have a 17 KM commute almost entirely on bike path (so quite safe) past some rather pretty parts of Canberra, I am almost jealous of this commute they have. Anyway enough riding now to fix some stuff on my sister's computer.

[/mtb] link

Sun, 16 Apr 2006

Good dinner - 23:01
I had some friends over for dinner tonight (Sam, Ben and their children), my sister Jane was in town and bought one of her friends (Louise) along also and one of my house mates was around this weekend so joined in the fun.

The main I cooked was Chicken with Mango, very yummy. With it I made a salad from a variety of lettuce's (is that the plural of lettuce?), pine nuts, sesame seeds, avocado, capsicum, feta, lebanese cucumber, tomato and snow peas all chopped fine to make it easy to get on a fork. Dessert was rice pudding spooned on to a bed of banana, strawberry and peaches with honey dribbled over the top.

Good night with friends, enjoyable dinner, some good wine, followed by a fun game. This game is sort of like Pictionary with words rather than pictures. The game is called Articulate (some reviews of Articulate), I enjoyed playing it quite a lot. It is however a game (much like Pictionary) that is biased if played by people who know each other really well (such as close siblings). Jane and I tend to be scary with our ability to almost read each other's mind in Pictionary and being able to speak and bring easy free association into play in this game I suspect we would also do well. Jane and I played on different teams tonight for the good of the game play.

I also baked up some more cookies today in order to take on a mtb ride tomorrow morning.

[/leisure/food] link

Wed, 12 Apr 2006

Damn weak saddle bags. - 22:12
I have yet to find a saddle bag that would last. I had hoped the saddle bag I was using on my road bike would prove me wrong, after all road bikes do not traverse rough ground, the saddle bag on a road bike should not fail. On my mountain bike I tried using saddle bags for around 6 months back in 2002, I purchased three different brands (all with life time warranties) and all the bags I tried failed, on average about once a month. In the end I got sick of going in to get them replaced at the bike shop each time a bag failed and went back to carrying my tools and tubes and such in a camel back.

However on the road bike I tend not to wear backpacks, hence I need a saddle bag. I had a small Topeak wedge bag and was under the impression it may even survive to old age or something. Alas on Tuesday morning I found out otherwise, as I rode onto the road from a bike path in Lyneham the rail on the bag locked into the wedge under the saddle snapped on one side and the bag went flying onto the road. Sure I tend to have things on my bikes break often, however it is likely a function of riding once in a while, I really wish bike components did not fail and break quite so easily sometimes. This bag did last around 3 years so I guess I can put up with waiting for a warranty replacement to come through.

[/mtb/gear] link

One of many chainsaws, not The chainsaw. - 21:41
Oops, so I was rereading the Liberty Meadows book I have at home the other day and I noticed the "I Let Myself In With This Chainsaw" panel actually said "I Let Myself In With A Chainsaw". Thus referring to an instance of a generic chainsaw, rather than a specific well known chainsaw. This is almost a tragedy as I had named my lets be silly about stuff category here "ilmiwtc" (which is obviously an acronym of the above).

Rather than perpetuate the lie for ever more I decided instead to rename the category (to "ilmiwac") to correct the mistake, I updated the two links in my diary history to reflect the change, anyone else who linked to it, tough luck (I doubt many have)

[/various] link

Tue, 11 Apr 2006

Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging - 14:30

Exotic USAnian Milk
Ahh my job here is done, my Milk Carton collection finally has an exotic foreign milk carton. Though maybe I had better not hang up my Milk Carton Blogging hat quite yet. This is USAnian milk, if you look at the enlarged photo you can even see where it says "Product of the USA". However this milk may not be exotic to people who live in the USA. Sure it is lactose free and probably healthy, but is it really exotic? Where are the rare birds sighted for the first time ever in the middle of a jungle? Where are the cannibals? Where are the belly dancing cowboys (okay so that would possibly be Kings Cross milk and maybe not terribly exotic either)? However I think you should all thank Andrew for this glimpse into the milk cartons of America.

[/various/milkcarton] link

Tue, 04 Apr 2006

Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging - 20:35

New location for the magnetic cow
The magnetic cow has migrated to the top of my monitor as can be seen in this web cam photo.

[/various/milkcarton] link

Linux Australia membership Pants: off - 16:21
So Stewart put out a new release for the memberdb code the other day, I downloaded it to read as I need to use something like this soon and was reading the sources. I was glad to see Stewart had ensured the memberdb code has Pants: off.

echo -e "HEAD HTTP/1.0\r\n\r\n" | nc 80 | grep Pants
X-Pants: off
The above courtesy of the header("X-Pants: off") code in both index.php and The Pants feature was also in the 3.1 release of the code I notice. Well done Stewart.

If anyone does not understand this in joke, google for "Jeff Waugh Pants Off" as the Pants off thing is a well known part of Linux Australia and Gnome.

[/comp/linux] link

Mon, 03 Apr 2006

Songs in the key of *HAAACKKKCOUGH* - 10:17
I had Thursday and Friday last week off work, not for the normal reason of going to some event or similar, instead for the first time in over a year I was sick enough that I had to stay home in bed trying to recover. After the race the previous weekend I was sore all day Monday and then sometime Tuesday started feeling really sick, thus I have not done any exercise since the 24 hour adventure race over a week ago now. As you may imagine I am beginning to climb the walls (figuratively, as I am not a good rock climber at the best of times, and am still sick anyway)

Back at work today as at most I am coughing a bit and not feeling 100%, however it is a lot better than late last week. I did however have to miss out on competing in the N-ZO 24 Hour race in Sydney due to having this cold, which is a shame as I have been keen to compete in that race since it's inception, however the past two years I was too busy on the weekend of the race to contemplate going up. Yesterday the activities I engaged in due to feeling a bit better were, washing my hard tail and road bike. Cleaning the road bike drive train and adjusting the gearing a bit. Built myself a new rim brake back wheel from parts in the shed to be used with the single speed once I get the rest of the parts for it. Baked 24 fruity muffins (recipe in LaTeX or pdf), these are the apple, sultana, pineapple and apricot with whole meal flour muffins I have baked on and off for a few years now, healthy and yummy. I also repaired some things on a new house mate's bicycle for her.

With that level of activity at home yesterday I should survive today alright, including dinner tonight at Debacle with my AROC 24 Hour team, we won three $25 gift vouchers for Debacle at the race so we decided to have a team dinner there to celebrate the fun we had at the race.

[/various] link

Wed, 29 Mar 2006

2006 AROC 24 Hour Urban Adventure Race - 13:56
As I have mentioned a time or two I was competing in the AROC 24 Hour Urban Adventure Race on the weekend just past. I have now uploaded my race report and photos.

James, Marea and I had a great time, Tom and Al put on a really cool event, Dave and Julie did bloody well (no big surprise) in different teams (Dave in second place Mixed, Julie in First place Female). Fun was had.

[/mtb/events] link

Mon, 27 Mar 2006

Palindromic email address - 15:12
I was just sitting here wondering, I do not think I have ever seen someone use a palindromic email address, such as So there is no real point to it but I thought, for the heck of it I may as well add a palindromic email address to one of my domains.

I guess one of the reasons not to is that is harder to type/remember than a normal address such as

[/comp/email] link

Fri, 24 Mar 2006

FHFC - 14:03
Once again some comments on Michael Ellerman's most recent post, he is quiet correct in my opinion when he states Flat Heads Fish Cafe have the best Hamburgers in Canberra. I may be somewhat biased (due to the fact I live about 60 metres away) however they truly are a great hamburger.

On the riding Mt Ainslie note, it is the fastest road descent in Canberra, largely due to the lack of corners, I have exceeded 90Kmh coming down that road from time to time and I know a few people who have passed 100Kmh on the descent. Climbing wise it is also one of the harder climbs in Canberra, it is deceptively easy at the bottom and then gets increasingly difficult and steep as you approach the top. Time wise most people will climb it in about the same time they do Black Mountain, possibly a minute or so faster.

[/leisure/food] link

Thu, 23 Mar 2006

Pointless web cam usage 101 - 13:58
purple t-shirt Wednesday
Purple T-Shirt Wednesday
black t-shirt Thursday
Black T-Shirt Thursday
I have a webcam sitting in my office we are not using for anything else currently so I plugged it in to my desktop and took a snap shot or two. The only reason I can actually think to post these photos here is to shift the photo of my injured shin further down the page so it is not visible when you load my diary up in a large web browser window. Of course having photos of me staring back at you probably is not an improvement (though hopefully it will not force people to almost lose their breakfast as I heard the ankle photo did), them's the breaks <g>.

[/various] link

Tue, 21 Mar 2006

Jindabyne Multisport Classic - 17:41
As promised I have uploaded a report from the Sri Chinmoy Jindabyne Multisport Classic, mostly photos. The race was a lot of fun and I once again was happy to be on a team with such great people. Thanks to Bruce, Shanyn and Randall for a fun race.

[/mtb/events] link

Mon, 20 Mar 2006

Recovery ride? - 23:15
So after competing in the Jindabyne Multisport Classic on Sunday, as today was a public holiday in Canberra we stayed the night in Jindabyne and a few of us decided to head out for a road ride today. Obviously we were in need of a nice gentle spin to recover from the racing the previous day. So what do we decide to do? Why ride from our accommodation 6 KM on the Cooma side of Jindabyne (ie up some hills) through Jindabyne, up to Charlotte's Pass (49 Km, mostly uphill) and back. I wonder wonder if the concept of recovery has not been properly explained to us. On the other hand maybe Dave and Julie's form of recovery is rubbing off on the rest of us.

After finishing XPD a few weeks ago they decided their bodies were not up to competing in the mutlisport classic solo as they both did last year, so what do they do instead, compete as a team of two of course. Oh and put in some blindingly fast times (such as Dave doing the fastest final bike leg overall).

I will link to a short report and a few photos from the event once the rest of my team has seen it, Results are online already though (see the link at the top of this post).

[/mtb] link

Sat, 18 Mar 2006

Competing after a log <-> shin interface moment - 14:35
The result of a log shin interface moment
The result of a log shin interface moment (Full Size)
Yesterday morning on the Friday morning ride I was riding along in the dark down a track, my lights focused on the centre of the track had not highlighted a large log poking toward the edge of the track at just above horizontal pedal height. I however was lucky enough to find the log with my right shin, damn did that hurt. I stayed up right on the bike and rode down to a more convenient stopping point. I needed to sit down until the queasy feeling in my stomach passed (about 5 minutes) but was then able to continue riding.

It hurt but if I kept my foot fairly still while pedalling I was able to ride, which is fortunately still the case. I am however having trouble walking and am unable to run right now as when ever I flex my ankle in any direction it hurts a lot. I was lucky the log moved backward with the impact as I am fairly sure I would have a broken leg right now otherwise. Of course the problem with an injury is that tomorrow I will be doing all three bike legs in the Sri Chinmoy Jindabyne Multisport Classic with the rest of my triple tri team plus Shanyn's partner Randall doing the Kayak legs (Team name "Don't Nobody Move" (another Ani inspired name)). For this I should be able to compete as hopefully there will not be much walking involved in any of the bike legs anywhere (unlike the triple tri which does have some walky sections) and I do not need to run.

Right now I just have to hope I heal reasonably fast as next weekend I am competing in the AROC 24 Hour Urban Adventure Race (team of three with Marea England and James Gardner). This event will have significant amounts of running and a heap of other stuff, I just hope my shin has healed and the swelling gone down to the extent I can run well enough by then.

[/mtb] link

Thu, 16 Mar 2006

More of them hill repeat things - 19:18
I just got back from a post work ride (though I am back in the office doing some work, ahh well). Sue and I (there was supposed to be one other person however they mysteriously piked) went and did two Stromlo repeats and then a climb of Black Mountain upon our return to this area. We had intended to go around Cotter/Uriarra however the wind is blowing heavily in Canberra right now and we did not think the loop would be pleasant in this wind. We also originally planned to do two Black Mountain reps upon returning however it is getting darker and I felt the need to get back to the office so I talked Sue out of the second Black Mountain.

I was somewhat surprised how well I climbed today, the first Stromlo climb (in the howling wind) felt slow and I did not see my speed sit much above 20 anywhere on the climb however I found when I got the top I had done a 12:10. Next climb I was setting a reasonable (though not full on) pace and then my phone rang with Bob asking something about a computer at work, so I chatted with him briefly. At half way they had put the boom gates down so I had to pull up almost to a stop and go around it on the gravel (on the descent the boom can be ridden around easily as it is shorter, however it goes all the way across on the left hand side of the road).

After those two things slowing me down I though, ahh what the heck I may as well put some effort in and attempt to regain time so I put the bike up a gear and started spinning along up the climb at 24 and 25 constantly for the rest of the way. Surprisingly when I got to the top I had done the climb in 11:20. We rode back toward town with Black Mountain looming in front of us, the ride down Cotter Road was brilliant with the strong tail wind we could do 60KMh effortlessly, feeling like pro cyclists for a few minutes. Then turning up Black Mountain I took the bottom steeper section slower at around 11Kmh the whole way, past the reservoir I decided to simply keep it steady siting around 12KMh. I seemed to be on track for a comfortable 13 minute climb. I guess I stopped paying attention at the flat bit and somehow at the top had sped up enough to do a 12 minute climb. Where the hell did that come from? Oh well I guess it is nice to be pleasantly surprised by ones form from time to time.

[/mtb] link

Singlespeed frame modifications done - 15:09
Long Horizontal Dropouts and Disc tabs
Long Horizontal Dropouts and Disc tabs (Full Size)
The rather nice Diamond Back Ascent Steel Hard Tail frame I got back in January would have been great as a touring bike or plan hard tail (so long as I was happy to use V Brakes) however as I intend to use it as a single speed I needed to get slightly longer dropouts on the frame so as to avoid the need for a chain tensioning device.

Before I left for my recent New Zealand trip I dropped the frame off for Wayne Kotzur to do some modifications. I have previously been most impressed and happy with the work Wayne has done on some of my other frames (he also repaired the broken Apollo Road bike frame, I simply have not photographed the fix).

On the new single speed frame I asked Wayne to add longer horizontal drop outs, and just in case I ever choose to use the bike as a normal mountain bike, or if for some reason I want to try it on the single speed, I asked him to add disc tabs (and a support brace) to the rear triangle so I can use discs if I ever choose to.

It comes as no surprise that Wayne did some lovely work with the modifications, as can be seen in the photo the the left. He even did a great job with the colour matching of the paint with midnight blue paint over the undercoat he applied then gold paint speckled on over that to appear similar to the rest of the frame. Once again the cost was remarkably low, AUD $143 for all of it including labour.

[/mtb/gear] link

Economics of Anti Super Sizing - 12:17
I noticed this a few weeks ago, however I am still attempting to get my head around it. At the local supermarket they sell 600 ml bottles of pepsi max and 1.25 litre bottles of pepsi max. Both bottles are chilled (in the same fridge unit), the 600 ml bottles cost AUD $2.60, the 1.25 litre bottles cost AUD $2.25.

Did the people who set these prices have marketing lessons from the Underpants Gnomes or something? I do not understand.

[/various] link

Tue, 14 Mar 2006

Another cool custom jersey - 14:00
Polaris for Dummies Jersey
Polaris for Dummies Jersey (Full Size)
As I explained in my 2006 Polaris Challenge report, Marea and I had some custom jerseys made for the event this year. Modelled off the Dummies books, we basically put a whole bunch of in jokes on it, Richard Bontjer, Michael Carden and Jim Trail quotes, a reference to the Fairlight St Boys who Marea always wishes to beat in Polaris and others. I have a png of the book cover artwork online if you wish to be able to read all the text easily.

[/mtb/gear] link

Climbing Black Mountain - 13:34
Hmmm, I notice Michael Ellerman has been doing some black mountain climbs. I feel the need to correct his data somewhat.

I climb black mountain sometimes, usually I do three repeats (climb it three times in a row) often in winter I head out there on Tuesday morning for three reps as there is no Cotter/Uriarra loop through the middle of winter. Also I do it after work or at lunch time a bit as it is handy to ANU. My fastest time up the climb is close to 11 minutes, I tend to do repeats between 12 minutes and 13 minutes three climbs in a row. I am by no means a fast or strong climber.

Dave Moten for example holds what is the current observed fastest climb of black mountain, I was riding repeats with him the day he did this climb too, he and Simon disappeared in front of me, and this was the third climb in a row Dave had done that lunch time, he did one at my speed (ie slowly) to start off, then he did a climb out of the saddle the whole way, next he decided to try and do a fast climb. Which as you can see above, he did. 8 Minutes 44 Seconds is absolutely flying up there.

On that list you may note the second name (9m15s) is Stephen Hodge, an ex European pro cyclist who has ridden in the Tour de France a number of times. Dave Moten comes out on road rides with me fairly often and I can tell you that man is a damn impressive climber. I seem to recall the Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic finished a stage from Goulburn to Canberra one year climbing up Black Mountain, I thought the times for the lead bunch were under 8 minutes however I was young and my memory may be deceiving me.

[/mtb] link

Mon, 13 Mar 2006

The spicy fruit bun festival is back, this time with chocolate - 16:57
So the other day I went to buy two loaves of Country Grain bread at the local Brumby's bakery as I do most weeks and what do I see there. Chocolate Hot Cross buns. Neat. As I have said in the past, I am a fan of The Annual Spicy Fruit Bun Festival. Similarly, in a rather unfortunate circumstance for a diabetic, I am a chocolate addict. Thus finding a food product mixing these together was quite an experience. I would like to say these chocolate hot cross buns are damn good, mmmm chocolate, melted butter, coronary...

[/leisure/food] link

Thu, 09 Mar 2006

The most dangerous sale of the year - 20:21
How I escaped is almost beyond me, today I went to the club night at the Mont Factory Sale. This, in my opinion, is the most dangerous sale of the year, incredibly large amounts of great outdoor equipment at really low prices. Every year Mont holds this factory sale, around this time of year (generally it is the weekend before Polaris), Thursday evening is the clubs night, so members of cycling, triathlon, rogaining, and other outdoor clubs can attend the sale. Then Friday, Saturday and Sunday it is open to the general public, however there is a lot of stock they rotate or bring out of the ware house to the factory floor through the weekend so being in there first does not mean those there later will miss out.

Although I would love to buy, oh I don't know, one of everything they make almost, I went in with the objective of replacing my wind proof vest with a Mont Zing Vest. For the last 4 months the Netti wind proof vest I bought when mine went missing after Gary Rolfe wore it when he broke his arm has been starting to fail. Mostly the zip has been problematic, however as I never liked this vest a whole lot I am happy now to have the chance to put it into the cycle gear pile and not use it much. I bought myself a lovely bright orange Zing Vest then as I was about to walk out of the sale I saw Cargo Bags for sale, 90L bags for AUD $49, too good to pass up as I have no large gear bag to carry all my stuff I need to races in one bag and generally end up with a few smaller packs. They had other sizes however I thought the 120L bag was too big for what I need and the smaller bags are similar to some of my packs.

I guess the only reason I escaped the sale with only two items was I was only buying what I absolutely needed and not stuff that looked nice. There is always next year I suppose. I saw Hugh at the sale (among many others who do not have blogs so can not be linked to) and I was impressed he was also able to control the urge to buy all that lovely equipment and walked away with only two purchases. I saw others walking out with arms piled high so not everyone was able to escape so easily. At least for me I have the Polaris this weekend so I will be able to better resist the urge to return to the sale and buy more due to being out of town.

[/mtb/gear] link

Wed, 08 Mar 2006

Web Cams are fun - 21:22
So I spent a while today at work mucking around with some web cams we bought cheaply. They used the spca5xx driver which is apparently based on the old ov511 code. One of the two (and IMO the nicer camera) is the remarkably cheap Logitech Quickcam for Notebooks, it looks like some small flying saucer side on. Once the spca5xx driver was installed I was able to use gqcam and pan around the office and wander around with a laptop attached watching the video.

I can kind of understand why there would be fun aspects to Mikal's PhD research, mucking about with imaging and output quality of these things among other topics. I guess I was having more fun with this one as I was setting it up to be used for something other than a security monitor which is what we use a few other cameras around the department for.

[/comp/hardware] link

Tue, 07 Mar 2006

Recent link dump - 16:14
Clearing a few links out of the to blog file once more.

On Metafilter the other week was this link to a set of tables and links that enable you to find out what song was number one in the US Charts back to 1940, using the billboard magazine data. This is neat (though completely irrelevant information) for example you can find out what the number one song was (yeah in a different country) on your birthday easily. For me it was "MacArthur Park" by Donna Summer, which and who I have never heard of, at least my sister gets a rather neat song of which I have heard "Another Brick in the Wall" by Pink Floyd.

I think this one was from Metafilter also, a blog someone is writing with 6 thousand people you should meet before you die, some interesting looking people there, a lot of them are academics but I personally think that is valid, smart people really are interesting.

Danah Boyd had a link to Cute Overload the other day which is pretty much what it sounds like based on photos of animals. Kind of like 1000 unicorn posts in one website.

Gee the US School system lives up to all the bad reports we hear about it (from Metafilter), it scares me that our government seems keen to make schooling in Australia worse all the time also. On the note of US schooling I have a story I found the link to on Feb 21st last year (from Joe Shaw's diary on Planet GNOME) detailing the quagmire into which US Text Book production has sunk, although we (Australia) do not have quite the ridiculous amount of religious crap to get around in schooling I suspect our text books are not really a whole heap better.

From December 1st last year, Kottke had a link to a New Yorker article about different working patterns in Europe compared with the US and what the causes and outcomes were/are. Interesting (though not surprising IMO) that Europe's more relaxed attitude appears to be more beneficial.

I am sure everyone has seen this story by now (I got the link on November 18th from BoingBoing) however it needs to be written about as it is damn cool. A scientist worked for years on one of the holy grails of toys and similar and finally was able to produce coloured blowing bubbles that do not leave permanent stains and have the colour evenly spread over the bubble. Damn I want some when are they going to market.

For another kottke link (from Nov 2nd) this is a mcsweeneys list of responsible spam messages.

From Metafilter again, a list of (from Sep 30) useful google tips, many of which should make you far more effective at using the search engine.

What the world needs more of is Statues that pee a message sent to them in an SMS

[/various] link

Tue, 28 Feb 2006

Jokes only a cyclist could love - 17:02
In theory this should probably go in my /amusing category, however the title is somewhat accurate, these are a hell of a lot funnier if you are a cyclist.

Earlier today I was searching the web for one of those lists of "You know you are a cyclist when" sort of things. It took a while (my search terms were not returning much for a while) so I thought I should link to them. Especially because I got a huge giggle out of one I had not seen before. I had at some point received an email with the list of things to look out for I think.

You Know You're Addicted to Cycling When... is pretty much what I recall seeing in an email a while back. I found a link to a page of cyclist jokes, on which this list also appeared, however I had not previously seen the list Craig's Beginners Guide to Preparing For a Cycling Trip. Oh so true, we cyclists really can be a disgusting lot in public and there may be some pain involved with lots of cycling.

[/mtb] link

Mon, 27 Feb 2006

Winning XPD in style - 11:52
This morning at 05:05am Team AROC Mountain Designs paddled into the finish of XPD to win the event, a time of around 4 days 22 hours. At the moment no other team has reached the finish so they have won by at least 7 hours. It is good to see they have had fun in their win though, such as their outing to the pub on Saturday night for a meal and some drinks. The team has a report online from the race already also.

If they keep at their current pace I expect Dave and Julie (team Tangerine) will finish sometime tomorrow morning, Randall and Alex (Entropic) are likely another day behind them. There was a pretty good photo of Dave from Day 4 too.

[/mtb] link

Sat, 25 Feb 2006

Ozlabs and Einstein? - 15:21
So reading Metafilter last night I saw a link to a website on which you can get Einstein to write messages on a chalkboard for you. A rather cool an geeky app. The site saves the images generated, in the top 20 at the time I had a look were a message referring to David Gibson and another referring to Mr Kerr. This makes me wonder, did someone at Ozlabs happen to stumble upon the site around the same time I did last night.

[/various] link

Fri, 24 Feb 2006

XPD an exercise in sleep deprivation with a view - 18:08
If anyone thinks doing a 24 Hour MTB Race solo sounds intimidating you may want to sit down now. A number of my friends frequently participate in Adventure races, multi discipline (MTB, Running (and Trekking), Kayaking, Ice Climbing, etc etc) endurance races (the big races, or Expedition races as they are known tend to have the winning teams finish in around 5 days) in the middle of nowhere, at all times you have to be on the ball with navigation or risk losing a lot more time.

Right now the biggest Expedition race in Australia is happening down in Tasmania. XPD run by Craig and Louise (ex Canberrans now living in Queensland) of Geocentric Adventure Racing is a Expedition length (600 KM this time) race covering many of the disciplines available and racing through the Tasmanian wilderness for up to 10 days (course cut off). The inaugural XPD race was held in the Australian outback in 2004 near Broken Hill. Team AROC won that edition, and currently are on track to win this edition (though anything can happen in this style of race over such a large time period through such remote areas) just over half way through the race for them. (AROC also run short races in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and other places around the country, between 3 and 5 hours for most teams, held during the day, for anyone who wants to give Adventure racing a go a chance to try it out in a less extreme manner)

A number of my friends are competing, Tom (of Team AROC, though alas his wife Alina, the team captain in races usually is injured so has had to sit a race with the team out for the first time ever), Dave and Julie (on Team Tangerine), Alex and Randall (on Entropic), Matt and Michael (on team Mont Crank) and a number of other people I have met in passing also. So I, along with many other people, have been glued to the online coverage on the Sleep Monsters website. Notably the leaderboard and also the reports and other information that appears on the XPD race page. Some photos, news from marshals and people on the course, reports posted to the website by people down there and race HQ in Hobart (where the race will finish, right now many of the teams are still up in the North West corner of the state) and a forum in which you can write messages to the teams that are handed to them as printouts at transition points during the race.

I am jealous of all these people doing this incredible adventure, though I would prefer to do it at a much slower pace, maybe 2 weeks, and enjoy the scenery and the outdoors more than the pain and suffering. The list of teams entered is up on the XPD site if you wish to know who is in each team by the way.

[/mtb] link

Wed, 22 Feb 2006

Crossing the streams - 09:21
At a supermarket the other day I discovered Latte flavoured Tim Tams, as everyone (in Australia at least) knows Tim Tams are the world's best Chocolate biscuit. However this Latte flavour could be dangerous, there are to potential reasons for this. 1) Combining the Coffee addiction and the Chocolate addiction, who knows where it will end, we may all begin overdosing on these wondrous new tim tams soon. 2) If you are in the habit of having a Tim Tam Explosion, using Tea what will happen when you cross the streams, Tea causing the Latte explosion, anything could happen.

As a sacrifice to science I will endeavour to research this and learn to the best of my ability what will happen, I may be gone for some time.

[/various/ilmiwac] link

Mon, 20 Feb 2006

Commodity mp3 players - 18:18
Before the 2004 24 Hour race I decided to buy an mp3 player (in case I found I wanted some music while doing laps around 3am). I found I was never particularly interested in the distraction of music while riding. However I still have the mp3 player. A Frontier Labs Nex IA, this fit with my requirements of, solid state (compact flash or similar) and uses removable (AA in this case) batteries. Both points mean I was less likely to damage a spinning hard disk when using it in rough environments and if the batteries ran out I simply popped a few more in I did not need to be near a power point to recharge it. I paid around AUD $150 for the unit at the time (September 2004) and have since bought a few large CF cards to have a variety of music hot swappable.

Today I was in Jaycar and saw a player that satisfies the above requirements, the cost was AUD $31. It uses SD/MMC as media and takes a single AAA battery, mp3 players really are commodity items now days. It comes with earplugs (which cost around AUD $20 miniimum in shops anyway), a AAA battery, a neck strap and a usb connection cable. You can buy 512 MB SD cards for AUD $60 if you know where to shop.

Admittedly this device does not have fm radio or display track names or make navigation easy (ie no folders and directories which the mp3 player my sister has now does allow, though hers does not have a removable battery) so it is somewhat like an Apple Shuffle in this case (the lcd display simply shows track number and time in the track).

[/comp/hardware] link

Fri, 17 Feb 2006

An organic mouse at work - 15:45
About two years ago there was some discussion in the department where I work about a mouse, (an organic one that runs around the place) that had been spotted in the building a few times. I do not recall if we caught that one or not, however there has not been talk of it since. The other day one of my colleagues mentioned he had seen a mouse again, running down the side of his desk in his office.

A short while ago I was siting at my desk and glanced at the sandwiches I had next to my computer thinking about eating lunch. Strange I do not remember there being large holes in he sandwich bags when I made those sandwiches. I did not eat my lunch from home yesterday as I went out to a farewell lunch, thus I left my sandwiches, some fruit and a muesli bar on my desk overnight.

Then it twigged, the holes in the sandwich bag are round and slightly serrated, not simple tears in the plastic as I often see after they wear out. The mouse is indeed loose and it got into my lunch overnight. Maybe we should think about trapping this mouse, ahh well it is a bit of variety from the inorganic mice we plug into computers on a regular basis I suppose. For me now I think I will wander somewhere and purchase some hot chips.

[/various] link

Mon, 13 Feb 2006

Connected once more. - 20:18
Ahhhh, that sweet Internet connection is once more available at home. Two days before leaving for Victoria at the start of my recent holiday my Internet connection at home failed. I had no time to deal with it and there seemed nothing obvious wrong. The pppoe logs however showed PADI packets being sent out and nothing coming back.

My guess eventually was that the ADSL modem had died, however I could not do anything much about it until I got home. Today I purchased a new ADSL modem (D-LINK DSL-502T) and what do you know, everything works again now.

[/comp/internet] link

My latest NZ trip photos are now up. - 17:33
All if you wish to see them my contribution to the photographic record of the NZ trip Crash and I just did is now online.

As I may have mentioned somewhere, Crash has 550 or so photos somewhere, so you may want to consider the 76 photos here a bit of a warm up. I will post a link to them when they appear online.

[/mtb] link

Wed, 08 Feb 2006

Sweet flowing Rotorua single track - 20:39
After a bit of a rest yesterday, where I read a lot and wandered into town for lunch at Zippys (a cafe that is one of the main mountain biker hangouts) we were ready for some more riding today. Gary had again said he was keen to show us around some of the trails in the mtb park that had not been part of the race course. Jim alas was still feeling far too sick to ride this morning so had to miss out again, poor guy it really would be a sad thing to be over here, so close to such a huge number of fantastic riding areas and be feeling too unwell to ride.

Gaz said there was rain forecast for the afternoon so we would be best to head out in the morning. We rode over to the N-ZO offices around 10:30am to have a look around before starting. Gaz has a huge steel ring in the garden that is taller than Mike fashioned to look exactly like a disc rotor, very cool. They also have all their design capability, materials and sewing gear there to make mock ups or initial examples of new designs to test out before they get manufactured. Also the offices are almost as close to the mtb park as they could be on the edge of town near there.

The three of us hopped on and headed over to the park via the campsite and start finish area of the race. At a bbq in Wellington the night we arrived there last week Ahnadoo (who I had ridden with a bit last May and was at the bbq) said there were three tracks that were fairly new that were a must ride in the park and that they would not be in the race course. The three tracks were "Gunna Gotta", "Hot Cross Buns" and "Roller Coaster". As we started climbing up to the first single track Gaz explained the main objective of the ride was to ride the three tracks Ahnadoo had told us were so good.

I had a crash riding down "Gunna Gotta", following Gaz over a jump and missing the landing a bit, however do not let that detract from this beautifully sculpted flowing piece of amazing track. At the bottom Mike Metz rolled up to meet us and ride with us again. We then headed through "A-Trail" and "The Tickle" an on to the base of "Hot Cross Buns" (which is also where "Be Rude Not To" starts). The climb up to the top of "Hot Cross Buns" takes 10 to 15 minutes lots of it in the granny ring and on open fire road. Once more do not let this detract from the experience. At the top are some great views out over Lake Rotorua and some other mountains all around, then you have a 10 minute descent down yet another sculpted and amazing piece of single track.

After this we headed over to the climb up to the top of "Roller Coaster", although all three of these signature tracks we rode today required some fairly steady climbing to get to I can guarantee the effort has a huge reward when coming back down. "Roller Coaster" lives up to its names with sculpted berms and sections where you are going up and down over tummy drop sort of ridges at 30 KMh or faster. We stopped at one point to wait for Crash and he appeared giggling his head of enjoying the track like nothing else he had ridden in years. Next we rode a slightly sloping up hill trail ha was still a lot of fun to link us back up to the top of "Be Rude Not To". This link track and the last two thirds of "Roller Coaster" were about 2 KM in length and had been cut in about three weeks. They had hired a small earth moving machine on which one man stands, with a compressing mechanism at the back, it had been able to bench cut and compress this track fast during construction.

At the top of "Be Rude Not To" we were met by Morgan, the guy who owns Zippys cafe who was out for a ride, so we finished off the ride down "Be Rude Not To" and the two tracks that follow directly on from there, and then out through "Exit Trail" at the bottom. I have a lot more to write, maybe sometime next week, about the track construction and track ownership stuff they do here in Rotorua, some of which I hope CORC can adopt or encourage in Canberra. However all I can say is I can not properly describe how good all these tracks are, all I can do is strongly suggest you all hop on a plane and go spend a week or two in Rotorua, you really will be glad you did.

Just as we finished the ride the heavens opened up and monsoonal seeming rain dumped down on us, Gaz offered us a lift into town for lunch at Zippys which was a great finish to the day of kick arse riding. Thanks again to Gaz and the others for some great rides in the region.

[/mtb] link

Mon, 06 Feb 2006

Taupo and Kawakawa Bay rides - 20:18
Jim had lined up Gary Sullivan from N-ZO to show us some trails today and there is a plan for more tour guide stuff on Wednesday sometime. Today the plan was to head down to Taupo where Gaz planned to show us around some of the great Craters of the Moon tracks then after lunch maybe some other place near the lake.

Getting a local or a group of locals to show you trails is always going to be a good idea if it can be arranged as you get to see the best riding terrain and trails that way, this definitely turned out to be the case here. Alan Vogt and Garrett Macdonald who had also flown across from Canberra for the race joined us for the morning riding. Gaz had a friend along named Jonno from Planet Cycles bike shop in Auckland, riding a rather sweet looking Santa Cruz Nomad (according to Jim, quite rare in Australia still) and we met up with Mike Metz out there who was riding a stupidly light (9.5 KG) Turner Duallie (tricked out to the max with light parts).

We parked at the sports centre in Taupo where the 100 KM Rotorua to Taupo road ride finishes and headed for the trail out past Huka Falls. There has been a lot of work on this trail in the last 6 months according to Gaz and it was pretty damn good. Fun techy riding all the way out to the mountain bike park in the forest. Some impressive bench cutting and supports to keep the trail there in both directions and safe next to the river and other fun things such as a tunnel under the highway.

Once we got to the lower trails in the park, with Gaz in the lead we really started hooking in. I stayed on Jonno's wheel and with Gaz in the lead, Gaz, Mike, Jonno and I tended to drop the others fairly regularly. I have to say, one of the resounding points in favour of N-ZO clothing I think is that the owner and designer rides a lot and is also a damn good rider, out there testing his product all the time and he rides with a lot of people who give him good feedback from a lot of riding in the gear. I was having to work to keep up which for me was a heap of fun, it is really good to ride with people who can ride faster than you as it helps your skills a lot.

During all my laps of the 24 hour race on the weekend I noticed my middle chain ring skipping and when I looked at it I found it was indeed worn almost smooth, it is almost surprising anything was able to grab the chain at all. By this point in the ride today I was slipping on every pedal stroke, so I had to stop using the middle chain ring, and use only granny or large chain ring. Due to this when we headed into town for lunch, we found a bike shop open (it was a public holiday today) who were able to provide and fit a new middle chain ring to my bike. Fortunately it was not the Corner Store who I had such a negative experience with last time I was in Taupo, if you wish to go to a bike shop in Taupo do not go to "The Corner Store" they are no good.

After lunch we drove around to the town of Kinloch about 20 KM around the lake shore from Taupo to ride to a place called Kawakawa Bay. The Queen Charlotte Track is a 76 KM single track maintained for both walkers and mountain bikers by the Department of Conservation, this track is a 6 KM out (and 6KM return) in the same manner, for use by mountain bikers and walkers, and it is similar in nature, however it is a hell of a lot more fun. This is saying something considering the Queen Charlotte track is one of the most enjoyable mountain bike rides around. This 6 KM of tight twisty climbing, descending, ridgelines, rain forest, beech style forest and all manner of terrain and obstacles is a must ride if you are in the area I suggest. I am amazed the Kennett brothers book (Classic New Zealand Mountain Bike Rides) only mentions it as another ride in the area and does not dedicate a full entry to it, this is an incredible single track, some amazing views, a lovely campsite by sparkling clear fresh water at one end of it, all in all a fantastic place.

Unfortunately for Jim he had come down with a virus and though he got through the 24 hour race he was not feeling too good so decided to give the afternoon ride a miss in favour of returning to Rotorua and collapsing into bed. The rest of us loved it, Jonno had never ridden the track before and really hooked in on some of the descents. Thanks to Gary for a fantastic day of riding and I am really looking forward to some of the treasures he says he will show us in Rotorua on the bike on Wednesday.

[/mtb] link

Sun, 05 Feb 2006

N-ZO N-Duro 24 Hour mtb race, Rotorua - 19:20
As mentioned a few times I was competing in the N-ZO sponsored N-Duro 24 hour Mountain Bike race this weekend in Rotorua, New Zealand. With a team of 5 of us it was going to be a fun and not particularly hard (when compared to solo or pairs) effort. The team consisted of 4 Australians, Michael Carden, Jim Trail, Heidi Flaxman (who lives in NZ now), myself and one New Zealand native, Lisa Morgan, entered in the mixed category we would not be directly competing against the most competitive category of 5 person males. Our team name was Australian Mountain Bike, the magazine Jim writes for in Australia.

Heidi, Lisa, Mike and I had driven up from Wellington on Friday evening, Jim had flown in from Australia on Friday and we all hooked up at the race site setting up the camp on Saturday morning. Rather bizarrely for us (Jim, Mike and I) more used to the Mont and other large races in Australia the camping was almost empty 3 hours before the race and we had prime choice of spot. After putting up a few tents and prepping stuff Jim, Mike and I wandered into the Fat Dog cafe in town for breakfast (2 hours before the race start).

I personally was amazed at the small turn out for the race, I competed solo in the Moonride 12 hour last May here in Rotorua, with a 24 hour race tacked on to the same course at the same time there were around 2000 people there that weekend, admittedly most of them were competing in the 12 hour rather than the 24 hour race. Thus the race format and forest itself can attract higher numbers. Thus to rock up to the N-Duro and find only 300 or so competitors when I would expect around 1000 was a shock. Gary Sullivan from N-ZO suspects the event may be just a bit early in the year, too soon after Christmas, people return from holiday and do not have enough time to fit it into the calendar and organise teams and travel for the race.

Heidi and Lisa competed in a team last year at this event and when we rode some of the extra trails in the area that were not in the Moonride course back in May, trails such as "A-Trail" and "Be Rude Not To", Heidi said they were part of the lap in the N-Duro 24 Hour course. This made my mind up then and there, any 24 hour race that included such incredibly good single track has to be on my calendar to compete in. I suppose I should not be surprised the Moonride did not include some of the better tracks in the park. Speaking with Gary about this last year and again this week, he sets the course for the Moonride, however the event organiser does not let him include more technical or challenging parts in the Moonride, thinking he caters better to beginners and average punters by keeping the course simpler. Fortunately for all of us there are events such as the N-Duro that can include some of the most amazing single track anywhere in the lap.

Anyway the race started at midday, and unlike most Australian races it was the most laps you could do in 24 hours which meant you last lap to count was before 12pm Sunday, if you returned from a final lap at 12:01pm it would not count. We decided on the running order with me starting for the team on the first lap, followed by Heidi, Mike, Jim and then Lisa who wanted to do a double lap. Held up in traffic for a lot of the first lap, and including the run I got around in a fairly respectable 49 minutes. Heidi knocked off a good 46 minute lap and we were underway reasonably well. My next lap was around 44 minutes which I was happy with. Come night time and we had been pulling into first place, however the rain also started falling fairly heavily.

Due to the nature of some of the tracks, and possible damage to both tracks and riders in heavy rain, at midnight the race organisers decided to stop the race until 6am, due to how heavily the rain was falling this was probably a good thing to do. We all bedded down as best we could in the tents as it continued to rain. The organisers also modified the course slightly and removed A-Trail. I headed out for the 6am lap, which would end up being my final lap of the race, followed by Heidi and then Lisa on a double. Mike and Jim finished off the race for us at around 11:35am on Sunday, too late for any of us to fit another lap in before midday.

In the end we each had completed 4 laps, for a total of 20, we won first place in the mixed teams of 5 category (the race had Solos, Pairs, Fives, and Tens), the prize for which was a free entry next year. I wonder who will be keen to fly across for this race next year? It was fun to watch near the end of the race some of the really fast riders pulling out laps around 36 minutes and one rider who had done a 36:18 a few hours earlier heading out at 11:24:05 in the hopes of getting in before 12pm in order to secure over all first place. (he came in about 30 seconds too late and damn was he moving)

The race being small and the nature of presentations and the people there was great to compete in, far more laid back than many races back in Australia, I definitely recommend anyone who can that they should enter this race, if only for some of the single track in it, I really can not describe how good some of these tracks are, Maybe Mike or Jim will be better with the superlatives.

[/mtb/events] link

Thu, 02 Feb 2006

In Wellington - 10:06
Crash and I just rode the Queen Charlotte Track for two days, and yesterday arvo hopped on a boat across to Wellington. Had a good bbq with a bunch of people last night and will be riding Makera and stuff a bit today in Wellington before heading up to Rotorua for the N-Duro 24 Hour race on the weekend. All is fun and good here.

I have photos but wont do much with them until I am back in Australia. Crash has been taking even more photos so I can link to his site when we get back also. Right now I have some of my less geeky friends wanting to stop the Internet thing and go do other stuff in Wellington so I had better stop for now.

[/mtb] link

Sat, 28 Jan 2006

Mark Shuttleworth talk notes. - 12:54
So the keynote this morning was from Mark Shuttleworth, talking about collaboration between open source projects (lca link), as I missed the best of sessions (too busy running around telling people what the best of sessions were.... oh and I guess a need to use some bandwidth before I lose it for two weeks) this is the last of the talk notes I will be uploading from lca.

[/lca] link

My NZ Mtb trip in May 2005, oh and some ghosts. - 12:37
In May last year I headed over to New Zealand and competed in the Cateye Moonride 12 Hour race as a solo, then did some more riding and travelling in New Zealand. At the end of the week I flew south to Dunedin for the Ghosts of lca past meeting for the weekend to assist the lca2006 crew in preparations for 2006.

As I am back in New Zealand again at the moment and about to do 2 weeks of mountain bike riding, which will include competing in the n-duro 24 hour race. I thought I had better upload these photos before the next trip really has gotten under way. (Also while I still have bandwidth at lca right now).

My May 2005 NZ Photos are now online. Also I have a write up of the race in an email from the time.

[/mtb] link

Fri, 27 Jan 2006

Van Jacobson rocks - 15:13
The next two talks I saw today were David Gibson talking about the new device trees and device tree compiler they are using for all powerpc archs (and could in theory be used for unrelated archs such as arm or x86 variants). Device Trees for embedded systems (lca link)

However the standout talk of the entire conference was probably the next one I saw. Van Jacobson, you know one of the guys that was involved with creating the Internet, and designed protocols in such a way that they do not suck and thus the Internet does not fall over. Anyway he presented a seminar with suggestions for speeding up the Linux tcp stack (lca link).

Van Jacobson had done the code, the tests and the work had really obvious merit for the conclusions, he presented to the likes of Dave M, Linus and Rusty, everyone else liked the talk too.

[/lca] link

More trench notes. - 11:12
Last night we had a rather cool Professional Delegates Networking Session, with thanks to IBM and HP for the beers and food, at the Larnarch Castle in Dunedin, neat location. This morning the keynote was from Damian Conway talking about lessons learnt (technical and social) from the perl 6 development process. Next I went to Chris Yeoh's talk about Managing Memory in variable sized chunks. Then I got to see the cool new stuff Wayne Piekarski has done in the augmented reality gear and software he has been presenting about since lca began in 1999.

I have uploaded some notes, not much from Chris' talk but a but from the rest.

Wayne has managed to make the tinmith system a lot smaller now, to the extent the entire system fits in a bum bag sized case with some batteries mounted on the hips (2 8 Amp Hour batteries, I suspect if he used NiMH 4.4 Amp Hour cells he could get the battery packs even smaller and lighter too).

Damian Conway rocked seriously, a great speaker and I am a perl fan so it was fun to see.

[/lca] link

Thu, 26 Jan 2006

Trench notes - 15:04
So the title of this is somewhat incorrect, the stuff I am seeing is not a negative experience, thus not trench style, ahh well. It is really good to see and attend the talks. I have for the heck of it been taking notes of most of the presentations I have been going to. Not many notes at some, such as the LA AGM, partly because more details from LA will be imparted on Saturday and partly because it is not particularly fascinating. Anyway I have placed my notes (in order of seeing them) in a directory on this web server.

So far I have put notes up from

The notes are fairly rough, and just my interpretation of things. Also I recorded stuff from the slides a bit so if you look at them when they are eventually released by the organisers there will be some overlap.

[/lca] link

Wed, 25 Jan 2006 2006, bring it on - 10:25
I will be using Australian times on blog entries, though I am right now in Dunedin, New Zealand for 2006. This is hell fun, as I kind of had to miss the conference last year, what with running the thing I have not seen all this cool technical content since Adelaide 2004.

Mike Beattie and his crew have put on another awesome conference this year. Some of the highlights are going to be Van Jacobson (yes that Van Jacobson) with suggestions on how to improve the speed and integration of the Linux tcp stack. Damien Conway's keynote (I really tried to get Damien to lca last year but alas he had to pull out for various reasons), Dave Miller, the guy who melted all our brains at CALU in Melbourne and lca in Sydney. And a whole heap of other stuff, if you are not here, why the heck not?

Heck as Mike said in the conference handbook, they even improved on the cardboard cutout Linus technology we used in Canberra last year to the extent you can talk with Linus in a real interactive conversation, though Mike does request that no one try to fold him up and take him home in their suitcase.

Right now I have just been taking notes in a tutorial from Andrew Fitsimon on open source graphic design. Showing off the features and capabilities of inkscape, scribus, the gimp, fontforge and how to produce web and print quality stuff well. The tools are amazing, and in the hands of a graphic designer as capable as Andrew some cool stuff can be created.

Looking forward to a whole lot more cool geekery over the coming days.

[/lca] link

Mon, 23 Jan 2006

2006 Audax Alpine Classic - 22:30
I rode the 2006 Audax Alpine Classic yesterday out of Bright in Victoria, I completed the full 200 KM (Bright to Falls Creek via Towonga Gap and Mt Beauty, back to Bright, then up Mt Buffalo). It was damn hot (not just hot). I took some photos and put them online on a 2006 Audax Alpine Classic page, to think I decided to suffer through this pain rather than attend the two mini conf days at in Dunedin, I must be insane. Ahh but it was a heap of fun, really, heck I will even be back there next year.

[/mtb/events] link

Fri, 20 Jan 2006

Damn Mont rock - 11:08
Mont Packs
Mont Packs (Full Size)
I had to visit the Mont factory to talk to Dave Edwards (one of the owners) about something briefly (I deal with them for CORC a lot). I happened to mention I may need to visit again tomorrow as I am not sure any of my packs were the right size for the three week trip to New Zealand I was embarking on.

Dave said, well we have a few of our Astro Travel packs we use as demos and for testing purposes, you could borrow one of them for three weeks. Wow, thanks Dave. Of course now I feel the need to convince everyone to buy one <g>, I will know better how well they perform in three weeks of course. For now I have a photo of the Astro pack, the Day pack that comes inside it and my bike bag packed and ready to head for New Zealand in my room this morning.

[/various] link

What a coinkidoink. - 10:21
Sorry about the spelling above, I probably can not help it, just as I feel the need to refer to that great northern land of mountain bike and skiing terrain as Canadia rather than the more common name other people use for it.

Anyway last night I had gotten home from work and received phone call from a AC Nielson person performing a phone survey of ACT residence on our perception of the Australian Federal Police wok in Canberra. I thought sure I have a few minutes I can answer some questions.

At the end of the survey the woman asking the questions requested a bit of additional information, one item of which was my occupation. When I answered Programmer/System Administrator she happened to mention, "that is what my Son does down there (meaning in Canberra), though he is not there right now, he is in New Zealand", to which I responded is does he happen to be attending a conference? when she answered that yes he was, I said is it in Dunedin? when she answered yes I realised he was another person attending 2006. Thinking about it I probably know the guy (though she never said his name), after all there are not many Canberrans attending LCA, and I probably know most if not all of them from CLUG and maybe previous conferences. I remember her name was Bridget (though I forget her surname), anyway just another strange random coincidence.

Who knows I may see him there next week, I am looking forward to a lot this year as I did not get to actually see much in the way of conference last year strangely. Mike and his crew have lined up some excellent speakers, it is going to be a hoot.

[/various] link

Mon, 16 Jan 2006

Some of the better batgirls - 18:05
Although I have yet to foist my artistic ineptitude on everyone and participate in the draw batgirl meme I mentioned on Saturday, in order to find the pictures I like again I may as well link to some of the pictures I liked the most.

  • Gorgeous headshot, Babs, this is my favourite I have seen yet. Probably painted, but brilliant none the less
  • Different, Ra's sort of style, Babs (maybe), There is nothing in this drawing that obviously says i is batgirl, however it does look like Babs could in a Ra's Al Ghul centric elseworlds
  • Shiny, Babs, I like the simplicity and the shinyness of this
  • Sad Cass, Cass, In reality it looks as she appears in the comic anyway, a good shot though
  • Snowing elseworlds, Elseworlds, A mangaish looking batgirl in snow, very effective image
  • Green elseworlds, Elseworlds, smooth lines and an interesting interpretation, a bit shiny
  • Grey uniform striking head, Babs (maybe), Interesting uniform, with all the grey the head comes out really bright.
  • Babs day off, Babs, Drawings like this make me wish I could draw, great perspective.
  • Black and White inspiring, Elseworlds, I love the first of these images, this is an inspiring interpretation of Batgirl I think, this is the sort of picture that makes me wish they could get the artist to do an elseworlds entire book in black and white with someone like Neil Gaiman as the author.
  • Simple, Cute Babs, Babs, Simple lines and colours, a painted look, damn Babs looks good in this one, the artist did another one claiming they did not like this attempt, I disagree completely and do not like their second picture
  • Good, slightly futuristic manga style, Babs, more clean lines, good interpretation of the costume

There are a heap more, those are just the images I liked in the first 200 or so when I looked on Saturday afternoon.

[/comp/blogging] link

Sun, 15 Jan 2006

The slashdot effect vs digg - 22:52
On Friday Kottke wrote a good analysis of the slashdot effect as it applied to a recent hit on his own website. Comparing it with the hit from a website called Digg (of which I have never heard).

This is somewhat reminiscent of the slashdot effect t-shirt the Canberra Ozlabs crew made up a few years ago (I was unable to find a photo of any of them wearing it after a quick search), however it is interesting some the conclusions Jason draws here and some of the numbers from his own logs.

I can see what he means about the editorial backing behind slashdot keeping it relevant and interesting to many people, heck Rob Malda weighs in on the Digg style of voting for stories in the slashdot FAQ. Personally I stopped reading slashdot regularly sometime in late 1998 as I decided I did not personally like the editorial line, accuracy (or lack there of) and for some items lag in getting on there. However I can see why is popular still to such an extent, and there is occasionally some interesting comments on there. Also I will read interviews or the odd other item if someone points me toward it.

However the bit Jason points out about stories lasting there longer, the editorial control rather than voting or similar, and a few other points definitely help show some of the reasoning behind slashdot being as long lived as it is. The analysis is worth a read IMO, though it is interesting to note that Rob Malda dealt with a lot of the conclusions in the FAQ back in the year 2000 or so already. I am happy enough with LWN for my geek news though.

[/comp/internet] link

Sat, 14 Jan 2006

Must draw Batgirl meme - 23:27
I saw a link to this Batgirl Drawing meme on BoingBoing today. Livejournal has been accruing hundreds of hand drawn variations of Batgirl. Damn I love the Internet, this almost makes me want to attempt to join in a meme I would be pretty hopeless at (I am a fairly hopeless artist). I guess part of the appeal to me is, being such a comics geek, it is cool to see something like this become so popular so fast, there are around 400 drawings linked from there already, with more appearing regularly. Sure I am a huge fan of babs, however the few Cassandra pictures people have done seem to be some of the best. Of course the elseworlds style pictures are often pretty good too.

[/comp/blogging] link

Riding a bicycle painted on the road. - 23:19
Riding a bicycle painted on the road
Back around August 14th 2003 I received an image in an email that I thought was somewhat humorous. Today I went to email the image to someone and could not for the life of me find it anywhere, and I was unable to work out when or where it was exactly. Google and Flickr both provided no luck after searching for it for a while. Thus when I did eventually find it I thought, if I put it online it will be easier to find next time. If I Google for riding a bicycle painted on the road or some variation they of I should get my own post about it.

[/mtb] link

Fri, 13 Jan 2006

Aaron and the Hollywood Blonde - 17:39
Hollywood Blonde Jersey
Hollywood Blonde Jersey (Full Size)
I did some computer geek sort of stuff for Aaron a while back, as a thank you he was most kind to me and bought me the cycling jersey on the left. Hollywood Blonde Ale, so it is a beer label jersey (like the six pack jersey) and fits in rather well to my jersey collection because really, who wants a plain boring team jersey or similar when you can have fun and in jokes and the like on them instead.

[/mtb/gear] link

Tue, 10 Jan 2006

Kids and the rest of us in a culture of fear - 18:49
A few weeks ago (Early November) Danah Boyd posted a few damn worthwhile thoughts on responsibility and kids in the modern culture of fear. First on 2005-11-02 was growing up in a culture of fear: from Columbine to banning of MySpace.

I have mentioned some of the negative issues of the culture of fear we live within in the past, however reading something like this really makes me wonder if anyone listens to experts on the broader scale when it comes to youth culture.

Danah points out how when Columbine happened, the media in The Netherlands was quite sensibly coming out with stories about "how there was a school shooting by kids who felt alienated from their community." then when the US media started appearing it was more along the lines of "Goths (or anyone wearing black, especially black trench coats) were marked as the devil incarnate. Video games were evil and were promoting killing. Everything was blamed except the root cause: alienation."

Danah goes on to point out how people such as MIT Professor Henry Jenkins when testifying in Washington "about how dangerous our culture has become, not because there are tools of rage, but an unchecked systematic creation of youth alienation." (Children's Culture Plea) appeared to be completely ignored in favour of the easily sold media darling of evil kids.

Danah says a few more really interesting things here, wondering how youth come of age when protectionist actions create hatred and resentment, how ageist rhetoric alienates younger people. Or the US centred (but probably still valid to an extent here with compulsory voting) question of "Ever wonder why young people don't vote? Why should they? They've been told for so damn long that their voices don't matter". I once linked to some studies pointing out drugging children to make them happy doesn't really work, however Danah goes further with "We drug our children the whole way through school as a mechanism of control and wonder why drug abuse and alcoholism is rampant when they come of age.". I could continue quoting this article however i strongly recommend it be read for some perspective on youth culture.

As mentioned Danah was on fire with the youth issues in November, a week after the above article she posted her perspective on a rather poor appearing new law in California which is mostly about how the respect of your children (And youth in general) should be earned and you should not attempt to enforce it, also she points out how important giving youth their own agency is, let them choose, let them make their own mistakes. This really echos strongly with me because of how I think my Mother raised Jane and I rather well. Our mother would never explicitly forbid us from doing things, if we started doing something foolish or mentioned something she disagreed with we intended to do she would tell us she thought it inane and stupid, however she would not forbid the activity and if we set our minds to it would not stop us from learning for ourselves. This works amazingly well because it really does allow you to gain respect for your parents.

Anyway both links are a good read, Thanks Danah.

[/various] link

Ahh the minty memories - 16:14
Joe pointed out this link on mtb-oz today, an archive of a lot of Mint Sauce (wikipedia).

For those who do not know, it is a cartoon that has appeared in the MBUK mountain biking magazine since the 80s. Mint Sauce is a philosophical mountain biking sheep, and a damn good read I think. I almost religiously collected MBUK from some time in 1992 until around 1996 sometime (including the year I lived in England throughout 1993) and really do have fond memories of the cartoon. (and all the back issues in storage along with posters and stickers and other paraphernalia)

MBUK has a link to this archive at the moment which means it is probably fairly new, good to see a link to it on the wikipedia stub too. This brings back so many memories, maybe I should get some of the stickers out of storage and decorate one of my bikes a bit, except of course JJJim already has some Mint Sauce stickers on his Ventana so I would just be following the crowd again.

[/mtb] link

Mon, 09 Jan 2006

I forgot the not make the pan icky stuff - 21:29
I got home from work around 19:00 and hopped back on the bike to get some groceries at Woolworths, I am making a curry tonight which should last for a few days of Dinners or so. I also intended to make cookies again tonight, varying the recipe a bit by adding chopped/crushed cashews and diced dried apricots to the choc chip/oat cookies. I finished getting the curry onto simmer and had rice cooking and was about to start the cookies and I realised, I am out of Glad Bake.

Sure I hear you say I could be a man and simply grease my baking trays in order to stop the cookies sticking to the trays, alas I am not well'ard and dislike washing baking trays to remove icky cookie baking residue. Thus I will get some Glad Bake in the morning and bake cookies tomorrow night. If only I had thought about this and remembered I needed it while getting the other ingredients and assorted groceries.

[/leisure/food] link

Some good mtb rides in Tallaganda - 16:11
For a few years I have done a New Years Day epic with Marea, Stephen and a few others, however last weekend Marea and Stephen were out of town, Andrew and Alex however expressed interest in a Jan 2nd epic sort of ride. So Monday last week we headed out into Tallaganda, parked at Lowden Forest Park (a lovely camping area with a historic sort of power generating water wheel) and went riding around a rather enjoyable loop inside Tallaganda. I uploaded some photos and a word or two last week.

The weekend Just past Dave Sutton had mentioned he was planning to head out on one of Saturday or Sunday for a ride from Canberra, out Captains Flat road, through Hoskinstown and into Tallaganda, then on down to Braidwood for some lunch and then a lift back to Canberra. Dave was getting a few people interested and said space was however limited for the lift home as his van could take 4 people and bikes (being driven out and back by his wife Cec), also I was kind of pondering the idea of a long ride such as this on the mountain bike where more than half the ride would be on the road, that did not appeal, particularly in light of the fact that Captains Flat road is not a fun/interesting/nice road on which to ride at any time really.

Alex said he was keen for another long mountain bike ride this weekend, also Allan Bontjer and a few other people expressed some interest in the idea. I put forward the plan of driving out to Hoskinstown, meeting the group riding from Canberra as they came through, riding with them to Braidwood and riding back to the cars a slightly different way through Tallaganda on the return journey. This plan had the added advantage of a bit more of a sleep in on top of more riding off road and a good explore through some more fun terrain.

Saturday rolled around and I picked up Allan and headed out there to meet with Dave Austin, Alex Ramsey, Randall Fitzsimon, Jaymz Davies and Tony (friend of Jaymz's) who had all driven out also, and we waited a few minutes for Jim Trail, Marea England, Michael Carden, Ley Kingdom and Dave Sutton who were all on their bikes riding out.

I forgot to take a camera on this ride (though I believe Marea may have taken a few photos) however it was a great ride (though with no photographic evidence maybe the ride was a figment of our collective imaginations?). 92 KM of almost entirely off road riding, great bushland to ride through, good company of 11 other mountain bikers (and 6 others on the return ride). Braidwood was packed (coast traffic around Saturday lunchtime I guess) and the Bakery where we refuelled was standing room only with difficulty getting in and out the one exit/entrance door.

With 5h20m riding time it was a pretty good hit out, Allan and Dave both mentioning it was the longest they had been on a bike in one hit for a while, both of them got through it alright, though Allan did not get along well with some of the steeper climbs on the return trip. I doubt he will have much trouble with the Alpine Classic in 2 weeks, as Allan said the climbing in that does not ever go much above 10% unlike the 25% gradients we were doing during the mtb ride. Anyway it is a road ride and Allan is used to road rides.

[/mtb] link

Thu, 05 Jan 2006

Yet another bike in the making - 18:33
Diamond Back Steel MTB Frame
Diamond Back Steel MTB Frame (Full Size)
So although I have a lovely steel hardtail mtb and a Duallie, as we all know the correct number of bikes to own is N+1. I have been looking around for another steel mtb frame for a while, hopefully one I could purchase cheaply (rather than paying AUD $750 for something new) that I might be able to use as the basis of a single speed mountain bike. Sure I have a really light Giant XtC Team Aluminium frame sitting in the shed, however I would prefer to never ride alloy hardtails off road.

Diamond Back used to for years make steel hardtails throughout their bike range, my sister's mountain bike is a 1994 model Diamond Back Topanga, Sam owns a similar vintage Diamond Back Apex, basically they made a lot of rather nice, rather light, steel mountain bikes. I have from time to time checked to see if anyone on Ebay Australia or the Trading Post was selling one of these bikes or frames, however so far have had no luck.

A few weeks ago someone mentioned they had a 1994 vintage unused Diamond Back Ascent frame for sale for AUD $125 in my size. Bargain I thought and snapped it up. The frame (pictured to the left) is in perfect condition, gorgeous blue with gold spiderweb pattern paint job that was popular back then. One thing I have to give some consideration to is the dropouts, currently they are too vertical for single speed use without the use of a chain tensioner. I am tempted to give Wayne Kotzur (the guy who has fixed 3 of my other frames in the last year) a call and ask him to replace the dropouts with some Campagnolo Horizontal Dropouts or similar which would allow for geared or single speed use fairly easily.

I have just been looking around for other parts and currently I have two rim brake (no disc bits on the hubs) front wheels sitting in the shed unused and two rim brake back hubs, I also have two deore cranksets and a bottom bracket to go with one of them that is fairly new. I am already well on the way to building up the bike with those parts. I am unsure whether I should get disc brakes and a new hub for the front or not. Ahh well it should be fun.

[/mtb/gear] link

Pub Bike - 16:50
To join the annals of eccentric but interesting bikes with the couch bike I saw a link the other day to the ultimate Pub Bike. The joys of experiencing beer and cycling, and you do not even have to go to the Pub as the Pub can come to you.

[/mtb] link

Cookies'R'Us - 16:24
I was reading something on Saturday that made me want chocolate chip cookies, so I googled for a recipe, found one (with notes) and baked myself a batch of chocolate chip cookies, using oats rather than nuts.

They turned out fairly well, a soft texture, almost like a cake but still crunchy, this is due to the rise induced by the baking soda. I can understand why nuts or some other variations (adding fruit, etc) may be worthwhile to make them a bit more interesting as a biscuit. Maybe some rice bubbles in the mix would be good also. They went down fairly well on the Tallaganda ride I did on Monday, though when I was eating the cookies at home my milk consumption was rather high as they really did go down better with a glass of milk.

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Wed, 04 Jan 2006

First non Latin alphabet google logo. - 19:24
I must say this Louis Braille google logo is fricking neat I think. I could not remember any time previously they have used a non Latin Alphabet based logo, so I had a look to be sure and my suspicion appears to be correct. Ignoring a few April fools day (logo) logos (logo) that could be interpreted as something completely different anyway.

Anyway, rather cool I think.

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Sun, 01 Jan 2006

Authors read too - 17:51
I noticed the sunlight filtering through the clouds outside my office window was a little bit orange, worried that there may be a fire near Canberra causing it I went and had a look at the ABC news website, fortunately there is no fire near Canberra, however while there I found a link to a story talking about Stephen King's top 10 lists (books, movies and music) for 2005.

It is good to see he is a prolific reader (80 books read in 2005) and still appreciates it as a premier form of entertainment with the following quote

A friend of mine sold her first novel this fall. She said the good part was finally being allowed into the playground where the big kids play. The bad part, she said, was that her book was tentatively scheduled for publication in 2007. She asked me if I thought people would even be reading novels in 2007, with so many other entertainment options available. I had to laugh, because novels are still the best entertainment option. Even a hardcover is cheaper than two tickets to the local multiplex, especially once you throw in gas, parking, and babysitting. Also, a book lasts longer and there are no ads. Need more? No tiresome ratings system to keep you out if you're under 17, the special effects are always primo (because you make 'em up yourself), and although I read nearly 80 books this year, I never ran across the Olsen twins a single time.

Sing it sister! also books are far more portable than movies and tv.

I am interested to note the number of books he read is high (for someone who also wrote two books in the year and is probably a very busy person on top of his writing), I suspect doing a lot of reading helps more than most other activities for a professional writer, the only other activity that helps to such an extent is writing lots I suspect.

It would be neat if a few authors I really like put out similar lists I think, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett both come to mind.

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