Summer snow and bikes

Aug 21, 2004 | | 0 comments |

Just got back from the second day of moto-marshalling for the Park City Cycling festival. I was the mechanic bike again and today was much the same as last saturday. With one exception. Between races, it hailed, which turned to sleet, which ever so briefly turned to snow.
In August.
We all suited up in waterproofs and swam through the second race :-)

Technology - great.

Aug 20, 2004 | | 0 comments |

I stumbled across the Park City webcam site this afternoon. It's bloody clever - you can pick a camera and control it in 40 second bursts. If nobody else is waiting, you can control it for about 5 minutes. There is just one question though : Cam 1 is placed over the ticket line, and people do tend to get their credit cards out early. Waving them around under a controllable webcam isn't advised, because this close, I was able to screengrab the front and back of a girl's card. The card number, her name and all the info was easily visible, and the signature was big enough to print out and reproduce.
Technology is great, but this particular application might have been thought out a bit better.
Controllable cam 1 is here if you want to see for yourself. The queue for tickets runs to the bottom-right area of the camera's motion. So you can tilt straight down and read people's details......
In these two examples, I've chosen non-credit-card shots, but you can see the effect. The red box in the upper image shows where I zoomed to in the lower image. Particularly interesting is the pink handbag - when she put her credit card away, I got a pixel-perfect shot of the front of it. Obviously I won't be posting it here ....



Thank you George W Bush. Asshole-in-chief.

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DOHA (Qatar) - Iranian Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani has warned that Iran might launch a pre-emptive strike against United States forces in the region to prevent an attack on its nuclear facilities.
'We will not sit (with arms folded) to wait for what others will do to us,' he told Al-Jazeera television when asked if Iran would respond to an American attack on its nuclear facilities.

Thank you George W Bush. Because of your "pre-emptive war" in Iraq, you've given all the other idiot rulers in the world a precedent to do the same thing. Didn't see that coming did you? Whilst the rest of the world told you this would happen, your first-grade Texan mindset managed to skip over this little matter.

"The world, and America, are safer because of our actions in the Gulf."

You stupid idiot.

Most Americans completely lack the understanding that people world-wide view their missile defense system as giving the US the ability to use nuclear weapons without fear of reprisal. That's why Iran and N. Korea have gone to the extent they have. Nuclear war was "okay" when it was a stalemate. The Americans are trying to turn it into a situation they can win, and they're gonna lose. Big time. As are we all.

I hope and pray that El Busho is removed in the election.

Worst. Software. Ever

Aug 19, 2004 | | 0 comments |

ABC have done a rundown today of the 10 worst pieces of software ever. Microsoft clinched 6 of the 10 places, including the top 2. Nothing we didn't know already but it's fun to see anyway.

10. Microsoft Bob.
8. MicroPro Easy.
7. Windows 1.0, 2.0 and 386
6. Microsoft Access (the telephony one, not the database one)
2. Microsoft OS/2 (before IBM bought it)
1. Microsoft VisiOn.

Google finally goes public.

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Greed and a disrespect for the internet-surfing public pushed Google's shares over the $100 mark when they opened this morning. It will be interesting to see how long it takes before the idealistic "we're not the same as everyone else" philosophy crumbles into a frenzy of greed and 8-figure salaries. It seems that thousands of investors have really really short memories of the dot-com-bust of a few years ago.

Put the generator OUTSIDE.....

Aug 18, 2004 | | 0 comments |

This would be funny if it wasn't so tragic. Following Hurrican Charley, 30 people are injured and 1 dead.....

....from carbon monoxide poisoning. They're putting the portable generators INSIDE their houses.....

D'oh!
And the election was supposedly decided by these people in 2000....

Free iPods and free flatscreens?

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I don't think so. Wired have just published an online article about the validity of freeipods.com and freeflatscreens.com.

Oh come on.
This whole free ipods and free flatscreens thing is a total scam. You can tell that just by looking at the sheer amount of information they need from you to set up an account. Why do they need my birthday, for example? The "satisfied customers" are so obviously stooges. If I was scamming like this, I could easily round up a few mates to put photos and blogs on the internet about their satisfaction with the product.
Have you tried to sign up for one of these? I bet that within a week, your phone will be ringing off the hook with cold callers, your mailbox will be full of junk and your inbox will be full of spam.
There's a simple rule with these sites - if it seems too good to be true, then it is.
People are so damn gullible when they see the word "free" in anything. Suckers deserve everything they get, and it won't be an iPod or a flatscreen......

A 2x4 isn't really a 2x4

Aug 17, 2004 | | 0 comments |

Curses!
Once again I am foiled by the difference between the size that lumber products are sold as, and the size they actually are. I calculated that for 15ft of decking, I'd need 30x 6inch planks. Makes sense. With a little gap between each one, I'd have enough to do the whole deck with some scraps left over.
But no.
A deck plank sold as 1.25" x 6" x 12ft is actually 1" x 5.5" x 12ft. So for every deck plank I laid down, I lost half an inch in calculated width. Net result? 2 planks short when I got to the end. Dammit!
Why is the building supply trade like this? And why the hell has nobody complained about it? Like when we put the beam boards in - we got 4x4 post caps to mount a pair of 2x12's side by side. You'd think that two 2inch boards, back to back, would be 4 inches wouldn't you? Of course not. They came to 3.5inches instead, leaving a nice sloppy gap in the 4x4 post cap - which was sold for the express purpose of putting two 2inch boards together on top of a 4inch post!
Another good example - the joists. 2" x 10" x 14ft. Ah - but not quite. We'd learned by this point, so I sawed a piece off one of them and used it to mount all the joist hangars. The actual width was about 9.25" instead. I ruled supreme, until I then found out that no two boards were the same width! Some were 9 inches wide, which meant having to put shims in the joist hangars, whilst others were 9.5 inches wide, which meant I had to cut notches out of them.
In fact, it turns out that when lumber is sold as 2" x 10" x 12ft, for example, what it means is: 'could be 2", could be 1.5", could be 1.75" - we don't know' x 'could be 10", could be 9", could be 9.31234" - we don't know' x 'exactly 12ft to two decimal places'
So if they can get the length of the boards precise every time, why is it so difficult to get the width and height to be precise?

I can't fathom why this is, but it's bloody annoying. You know it would be so much easier if they'd just catch up and use decimal instead.

We can spin anything.

Aug 16, 2004 | | 0 comments |

Google getting rude?

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I know it's probably me, but doesn't the Google olympic swimmer logo look like he's sporting a woody under his toga?

Holland whup America's ass. Twice. Plus other weekend news.

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We watched the swimming mens 4x100m relay finals last night and the big upset wasn't only that America didn't win, but that South Africa came first and Holland came second! Hup Holland! Then today, Australian Ian Thorpe came first, and the Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband came second. Once again, Michael Phelp's nose was out of joint as he came in third. Bronze. Twice in two days. Tee hee.

Also, I found out yesterday that the DJ playing the opening ceremony at the Olympics was DJ Tiesto. When we were watching it, I kept saying "they're playing an Armin Van Buuren or Paul Van Dyk mix!". Right country, wrong DJ. (All three are Dutch).

My Sony CLIE PDA is dead. The battery has expired in a big way. I've begrudgingly ordered a PocketPC PDA to replace it.
I spent the weekend scouring the reviews of Palm, Sony and other Palm-based PDAs and came to the conclusion that they all stink right now. Sony are pulling the Clie range from the US and European markets because they (wrongly) believe that everyone wants cellphones with all this stuff built in.
The Dell PocketPC offerings seem to be fraught with manufacturing and supply problems (according to the Dell forums). The HP iPaqs seem to have build and screen problems. The only one I could find that didn't have a majority of bad reviews was the Toshiba e400 / e405. All the others had bad reviews outranking good reviews by 2-to-1 on Amazon, epinions and c|net.
The only thing that really impressed me was the Windows2003mobile ability to read my handwriting in "digitiser" mode. Clearly something so useful that it wasn't actually written by Microsoft.
It's going to be a pain in the ass having to migrate all my palm data to PocketPC....

100,000 troops pulled from Europe.

Aug 15, 2004 | | 0 comments |

Looks like El Busho is stoking the War Machine. He's pulling 100,000 troops out of Europe and Asia. I guess he's readying to invade Iran and Syria then. Either that or he's afraid of an attack at home, in which case it's another example of Bush's policies being dictated by terrorists - exactly the thing he says he'll never do :-)
If it wasn't so tragic it would be funny.

PCCF

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Yesterday I did my part as a volunteer moto-marshall for the Park City Cycling Festival. It was great!
For the first two races, each 120 miles, I was the mechanic bike. I had a Shimano mechanic on the back of the bike and we had to tail the lead group of cyclists. When someone had a problem, we had to do a live pit-stop. The mechanic would hop off the bike and change the wheel on the rider's bicycle, then hop back on and we'd have to pull alongside the Shimano support vehicle. He'd then exchange the dead wheel for another one while we were doing 30mph or so - he always had three on the back of the bike with us - one front wheel and two rear wheels (one 9-speed, one 10-speed).
We had police escorts all around the peloton and the lead riders, and as moto-marshalls, we were deputised for the day. It meant that we pretty much had the run of the road - we could blow through lights, stop signs etc, and drive all over the road. Our aim was to keep the riders in check and keep the other traffic away from them. The best part of the day was when we had to do our second race. 5 minutes after we got back from the first race, the second peloton left with no support vehicles. The Shimano support truck left 10 minutes later and got stuck in regular traffic, so I got a police escort and we went the wrong way around the road circuit to meet the peloton coming the other way. We caught them at Kamas, just as one of the cyclists had a blowout. Because all the traffic was stopped and backed-up because the police had closed the Kamas intersection, we had to blow past all the traffic on the wrong side of the road, horn blaring, all lights on, with the mechanic waving a wheel over my head to indicate we were support. (I had official stickers and support paraphenalia on the bike too).
The driving was very technical - I had to hold station with the support truck a few times, doing 30mph or so. I had to mingle in the pack without hitting the other riders and without giving any of them the advantage of drafting me. It was too much fun, but 8 hours in the saddle was sore, to say the least.
Sucker for punishment though - I'm off to do it all again on Saturday next week.