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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).

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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