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Sun, 30 Aug 2009

Kate and Ruth at the Folkus - 23:29

Kate and Ruth(fullsize)
On Friday night after getting home from another day doing World Champs work at Mt Stromlo I had the rather enjoyable opportunity to see Kate and Ruth playing live at The Folkus Room. They do not often play in Canberra outside the folk festival and they really are a wonderful pair of performers. My housemate Matt who is also a fan of their work came along with me and we got to enjoy a spectacular evening of music.

Early on they played Cindy Cindy which was wonderful. Kate played a cover of the Joni Mitchell song A Case of You which was really amazing, what an evening. I thought it was a little disappointing how few people were there as they are popular in Canberra. Though an amusing aspect of this is that most of the people in the audience were close friends of theirs and both there mothers were (eventually) at the gig and they had played in groups with some of the audience members.

I have been taking photos while working out at Stromlo on the worlds, however have not had much time in front of a computer recently so have not had time to upload them and comment on them. It will happen at some point soon.

[/leisure/music] link

Sun, 23 Aug 2009

Another ouch, Out at the worlds site today and Coraline is awesome - 23:00
On my way out to Stromlo this morning on the CX bike I unfortunately had more data provided to back up my theory that my CX bike is cursed. Riding into the bike path tunnel near Scrivner Dam I thought to myself on the wet bike path, hmm I may be going a bit fast here, as I finished the thought my front wheel slipped and I went sliding along the bitumen on my right hip. This is of course the same hip I went sliding on a month ago.

Right now I am seriously annoyed as it makes walking around and a lot of movements painful, I was almost back to being able to sleep on my right side, now I wont for a while. I once more will be unable to run for a few weeks, and can not put full power into the pedals for another few weeks now too. I also have this theory that the cyclocross bike is cursed. This is the only bike I have ever owned on which I have had crashes serious enough to stop me riding or doing other things.

Sure I have had other crashes, such as those involving the breaking of frames however I was still able to go out and do long hard riders or other stuff the next day without much pain. So far on the CX bike I have crashed badly 4 times, each time with the front wheel losing traction and ending up pretty badly hurt. Stitches at the hospital required from one such incident in November 2007, then last year I came off and broke my collar bone when the front wheel lost traction. The recent crash in the CX race meant a month of no running, missing some events and some serious pain. Now a repeat (though it does not feel quite so severe) today. I guess it is possible that something about my position on the bike combined with the geometry and handling of it simply does not suit my riding style and thus I just lose the front wheel badly form time to time. Or I could be blaming the tool.

I made it out to Stromlo of course and we got to work, getting closer to having all the pipes up to hold the bunting around the XC course. We put in some new rocks in a line on one section to make A and B lines, later while working near hammer head the Australian team came past. I took some photos of them practising sections (not posting online until I get faster Internet at home again). So we asked them to check out the new section later on and tell us if it worked and if the B line needed to be slowed or the A line changed. In the end we went down and fixed both up to the extent it should work well while the practised in front of us as we changed it around to ensure it was correct. As Dave said it was kind of fun to have the elites there as we built this to see how it worked at pace.

Upon getting home I showered and headed out to see a movie, Coraline in 3d. This (being a Neil Gaiman based movie) was something I had been looking forward to for a long while, everyone had said seeing it in 3d was worth it too. What can I say, it did not disappoint, scary and cool and fantastic and fun and incredible and sweet and fun and oh so worth seeing. The 3d was a cool experience too.

[/various] link

Fri, 21 Aug 2009

Where many of my friends will be next week - 12:36
So a lot of my friends I regularly ride bikes with will be over in East Timor next week for the inaugural Tour de Timor, this looks like an excellent event in the making and I would love to be there. The timing however was simply too close to the Mountain Bike World Championships which start on September 1st here in Canberra at Stromlo, there is a lot of work to be done out there next week and I am having the next two weeks off work to work out there with the other CORC people who have been putting in so much time and effort to bring this event to Canberra.

Still I wish Libby, Chris, Gary, Bleeksie, Cameron, and the rest of them an excellent time over there and I look forward to hearing how much fun it was when they return from their adventure.

[/mtb/events] link

The final product of yesterday's baking - 12:24

Vegan Tiramisu cupcakes, finished product(fullsize)
The photo on the left is of the 24 finished tiramisu cupcakes mentioned yesterday. They were a hit. Yummm.

[/leisure/food] link

Thu, 20 Aug 2009

Still not allowed to give blood - 17:35
So I have been hearing rumours from friends recently that the rule that means I am not allowed to give blood has recently been relaxed. Not due to my diabetes, reading the FAQ on the donate blood site mentions that insulin controlled diabetics should speak with them, however hints they probably will be able to.

The reason I (and also my Sister and Mother) are not allowed to give blood is that we lived in England for all of 1993, which is between the 1980 to 1996 period they rule out due to the lack of a vCJD test. (details here). Which it appears is definitely still a restriction. Unfortunate really.

[/various] link

Ahh cupcakes - 12:26

Vegan Golden Cupcakes pre Tiramisu (fullsize)
Will anyone ever tire of a cupcake? I doubt it. Here are 24 fresh (baked this morning after I got home from swimming before going to work) vegan golden cupcakes (from the VCTOTW book), this is the plain cupcake recipe, however tonight I will be making them into vegan Tiramisu cupcakes. Last time they were spectacular so I expect similar results this time, and I was able to get the dark chocolate coated coffee beans at the ANU Food Co-Op yesterday too so they may even be better.

This is of course pre preparation with the Kahlua at the ready for when I get home to do the vegan vanilla cream cheese icing and Kahlua/coffee mix. I am going over to a friend's birthday dinner tonight and offered to bring a vegan friendly dessert.

[/leisure/food] link

Mon, 17 Aug 2009

dc++ or new digital camera - 14:43

New Panasonic DMC-FT1 (fullsize)

Old Panasonic DMC-LZ5 (fullsize)

So I bought myself a 6MP, 6x optical zoom, panasonic dmc-lz5 in January 2007. It has been a good camera and has worked well for 2.5 years now. I guess one thing I found a little bit jarring is it seemed to have more sensor induced noise (it looked like a painting up close) in many photos. However on the whole I liked it.

When I have it with me in an event I tend to carry it in my jersey pocket, in a padded bag inside a dry bag. This makes the camera quite bulky (and heavier), it also makes it a lot harder to whip it out for a photo (have to undo the bags, get it out, put it back etc). At geoquest this year one of my team mates had a Panasonic DMC-FT1 (called the TS1 in US and possibly Europe) which is waterproof to 3 metres and shock proof to 1.5 metre drop. He was swimming with it in his pocket and getting it out to take shots in the ocean and simply kept it there where it could easily get banged up.

One of my housemates already had an Olympus camera she uses in races that is similar (waterproof and shock proof), this Panasonic one I was looking at came out this year and has some nice features, as I am still somewhat partial to Panasonic cameras (Crash's influence) I decided this is the one I wanted. 4.8 optical zoom, 12 MP, AVCHD (1080p) video recording, no moving parts externally. So I ordered it last Wednesday night and it came on Friday morning.

When water used to get into the drybag/camera bag while racing the camera would fog up and be useless for taking photos, this camera I can now keep in a pocket or neoprene pouch and let it get wet and it will still work fine. Also My test photos so far do not have the painted looking noise as the LZ5 did and the photos appear crisper. I like it, I also think Jane may like the purchase as I will give her the old camera as I no longer need it.

Of the photos on the left, the photo of the new camera was taken with the LZ5 and the photo of the LZ5 was taken with the new camera. A few other photos taken this weekend (3 paddling on Saturday afternoon and one at the Gravity XC race at Stromlo yesterday also turned out well). The new camera is effectively the same size as the old one, however as I do not need the camera bag or dry bag it will be more compact and easier to deal with.

[/comp/hardware] link

Wed, 12 Aug 2009

Dessert! - 15:37

Fresh Warm Chai Latte Cupcakes (fullsize)
Last night D, G and I went over to M and A's place for dinner. A asked me to do dessert. Before that request I had been considering making Vegan Sausage Rolls, with the Dessert request I decided on the rather wonderful Chai Latte Cupcakes from The Post Punk Kitchen. Pictured to the left are 22 cupcakes fresh from the oven last night. Everyone liked them so only one or two remain now. Yum.

[/leisure/food] link

Fri, 07 Aug 2009

Tracking down disk accesses - 14:02
In the last few days since a recent reboot (I normally simply put my laptop to sleep) of my laptop I have noticed a lot of disk access noise. One obvious one was approximately every 5 seconds I heard an access. Others were likely to be occurring also.

I started looking around to see how to track down the problem. I have used iostat in the past to give me some details about activity happening. However the problem with that is it does not tell you which process is doing things. Running top also is not any good as it does not identify io and it also does not show cumulative use/hits as iostat and similar tools do.

There is a python program called iotop I have not tried yet, also there are files in /proc now days you can laboriously work your way through to track down some of this information. However while looking around and reading some of the man pages I discovered the existence of pidstat. This program is fantastic. It can display accumulated disk,vm,cpu,thread information on a per process basis. This is a program I have wished I had for years.

So I ran pidstat -d 5 and watched to see what was writing to the disk so often. First I noticed the predictable kjournald. Rather than messing around trying to change commit interval for this I found there is a laptop-mode-tools package I should have had installed on my laptop. I have now installed it and enabled it to operate even when AC power is plugged in and now kjournald seems to be able to go for minutes at a time without needing to write to disk.

Next I noticed xulrunner-stub was writing often and causing the disk to spin up now it was spun down due to laptop_mode. This is firefox (or iceweasel in the debian case). I found details suggesting firefox 3.0.1 onward had an option to decrease the save/fsync regularity and that 3.5 and up should be even better. I installed 3.5.1 from debian experimental and found another page with 28 good firefox tips, one of which actually told me which about:config option to change to decrease the save/sync interval.

So the disk is not always spinning up or constantly accessing now, though there still appear to be a few culprits I could track down more information on in the pidstat output. Also I may want to play around with more proc settings such as /proc/sys/vm/dirty_expire_centisecs which can change how often pdflush sends stuff to disk and there are other suggestions around which if I think about may help too. Update: I also have since first writing this found a good Linux Journal article on what laptop mode does.

One of the reasons I am so excited about pidstat is it helps with my work a lot, if there is a problem with a mail server, or student login server or any number of other machines. Getting a read out of this information by process accumulated over time is really useful to work out what is causing issues and thus work on controlling and preventing problems.

[/comp/linux] link

Thu, 06 Aug 2009

Some standard sort of news from tests - 22:19
I had to have some blood tests done on Monday morning to have results ready for an Endocronology appointment today. I was interested to see how my iron levels and B12 levels were also. My cholesterol is at 3.1 (HDL 1.0, LDL 1.7 Trigs 0.93) so below the normal range of 3.5-5.5. HbA1C was a bit higher than last year but still in adequate control region (as it has been for two years now). Good to see my iron and B12 levels are healthy and not showing a current problem.

I was a little worried about my iron levels a few months ago, I have not been eating as much green leafy stuff with meals as I probably should and I felt a bit flat, I started having iron tablets, though not with tests at the time so not a good control, however they have B12 in them also I may as well keep having them regularly. With over 10 hours of fairly intensive exercise every week I tend to think I should be careful to have lots of iron and protein from dietary sources I choose to use.

Anyway I thought I would put this data on here, last time I could not find it the printouts I had again and wanted to know some of the numbers.

[/various] link

Tue, 04 Aug 2009

Internet down... due to phone company going bust - 22:27
Well that is kind of unusual. I was out at a function tonight, upon my return home a housemate mentions the Internet connection is down. I look into it and find the ADSL link is acting as if there is no phone line there. Then my housemates happen to mention that the land line has been unable to make outgoing calls for the past few days.

I try to make a call and hear a message from Telstra talking about contacting them, strange as the landline is not through Telstra. I hope online with the wireless broadband built into my laptop and have a look. The phone company the land line was with has gone into voluntary administration, Telstra took control of all the landlines and other things and has now disconnected them all.

I quite like the phone number for this landline, very easy to remember (something like 6363 8222, repetitive and not hard to grasp) so it would be nice to keep it if we can. However it would also be nice to be able to switch to a service such as Internode naked adsl and use a phone through that. However Internode do not yet do number porting from pstn from what I can find out. I wonder if a potential option would be to port the number to one of the VoIP providers in Australia that do do number porting and then use Internode naked to that.

Anyway I will get to have a bunch of time wasted tomorrow trying to sort this out and I am almost sure I will have to deal with Telstra somewhere in there, I wonder if I can book in for a dentist appointment as that would be a whole lot more fun.

[/various] link

Sat, 01 Aug 2009

N=N+2 more steel in the stable - 17:28

New Single Speed mtb(fullsize)

New Road Bike(fullsize)

In April, not too long after my house mate had gotten herself a lovely new light road bike I got to thinking about my road bike. For the previous year and a half since my Lemond developed another crack in the frame I had been riding the Cyclocross bike as my road bike. However Cyclocross bikes with road tyres on are sort of neutered not being used for their true purpose (being able to go anywhere, off road or on fast) in my opinion. So thinking how I wanted to run CX tyres on it more and use it off road more I decided to buy a new road bike.

I admit I was tempted by the ultra light weight carbon wonder bikes such as the full Ultegra Jamis Xenith that had recently appeared in the garage or maybe a Scott CR1. However I have a well known tendency to break bikes, and I am a self confessed fan of steel bikes. Mal happened to offer me a good deal on a 2008 (the orange coloured one, not the uglier 2009 yellow one) Kona Kapu steel road bike with full Ultegra. This is a lovely frame, with polished steel lugs and brazing rather than TIG welding to construct it. As they say (in the clever marketing) on the website "A beautiful, old school lugged frame that harks (yep... used the word "hark") back to when frames were meticulously crafted in only small batches by guys named Giuseppe."

And at 9.1 KG it really is not much heavier than a similarly specced carbon wonder bike (maybe 1 KG heavier, all of which is in the frame and steel fork). I am very happy with this new bike and it even continues a trend of orange gear and clothing I was going through about 4 or 5 years ago. I may soon put open pro wheels on this bike and put these open sport wheels on the CX bike, I changed the bar tape to orange as seen to the left and put my preferred saddle and more puncture resistant tyres on it. Lovely bike to ride I must say and no carbon in site.

The other new bike, purchased about 3 weeks ago is my self proclaimed fad bike. When I first built up my old single speed it was just from parts I had sitting around in the shed really. I thought at the time I probably would not like single speeding and would not long after turn it into a geared bike. I was wrong and discovered I really like riding single speeds. One of the things I really missed on my single speed is the disc brakes I was used to riding on other mountain bikes. Then recently when I began to notice the chain tension did not stay as tight as I liked due to the wheel slipping forward in the quick release tightened back wheel I was getting a little annoyed with my SS.

I could have simply put a bolt on axle on and kept riding it without that problem, instead I went and bought a new bike. This is my fad bike as I can claim it has five fads in one bike. First I thought I would try out 29 inch wheels, just for something different, then it is a single speed, fully rigid with Mary bars and disc brakes (the JohnJohn fad). What with this and the cyclocross bike you could argue many of my bike purchases in the last two years have been about making mountain biking harder for myself. However this is a fun bike to ride, the 29 inch wheels are not better or anything, simply different, and different can be exciting anyway. Long term I may become soft and buy suspension for it, also I am undecided on the benefit of the Mary bars, I may put normal bars with bar ends on it eventually also. Chain tension is kept on this with an eccentric BB which allows the discs to be mounted normally with no complexity.

[/mtb/gear] link

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