It’s not been an awesome week. A roundup:
- I’m suddenly and unexpectedly staring down the barrel of a possible car purchase. It wasn’t on the list of things to do, and certainly not with this car (my car was up for replacement next).
- I broke a nearly-new chainguide on my mountain bike, and while I think I’ve fabricated an acceptable replacement part, I’m not entirely pleased. We’ll have to see how it works. If it explodes (again), I’ll have to decide if I want to replace it with another chain guide, or if I want to replace the chainring with a unit with more aggressive chain retention- right now it’s a Shimano ring, and they don’t really do narrow-wide rings. A new guide likely costs less, though.
- The new chest harness for my GoPro is pretty awesome- it’s exactly the right point of view, and I’m pretty excited to ride with it on more. In my test footage, the camera’s in-built stabilization seems sufficient, but of course GoPro has to go and release a new camera (Hero 7 Black) that has such good digital stabilization (apparently) that a gimbal is unnecessary.
- New phone is ordered. My better three-quarters’ phone came today, but I have to wait another week it seems.
- I’m lifting weights again. My wife started a month or two ago, and that’s been a very good motivator to start lifting again. I’m doing really short sessions right now, and I’m trying to do them two or three times a day (because they’re so short).
- The having my google voice number patched into a regular old-school house phone has been excellent- it’s nice to keep the cell phone free and get calls done around the house.
Time to gear up some new projects:
I need to make a big push to finish the new studio. The rack needs built, the large-format art storage needs built, the room dividers need built- it’s something like a day or two of concerted effort and I have a fully functional work space.
I took a look at re-purposing an old Mac laptop keyboard as a USB desktop keyboard- and while I’ve not given up just yet, it’s not looking great. The internal interface isn’t USB (what with a 30 pin connector), so I’d have to assume that it is a matrix- that might mean I could hand wire it to a Teensy 2.0 and upload QMK firmware to it, but I’d have to map the entire matrix blind (and probe for each keystroke). That’s not sounding overly fun right this minute.
I’ve been planning longer-term to add a Tandem bike to our fleet. Right now, assuming I buy a new bike, that’s looking like a Salsa Powderkeg. It’s a steel framed MTB tandem with a rigid fork and 29″ wheels. That makes it especially well suited as a gravel-capable bike, but I’m trying to plot ways to take it offroad on New England singletrack. That likely means a suspension fork of some sort (though they publish a travel limit of 100mm, so that’ll be a challenge). The frame has clearance for 2.4″ tires, but I’m always curious about things like swapping the wheels to 27.5″ and running 3″ tires. Who knows?
I’ve been working on some sketches of a cable cam rig to use with a GoPro Session camera. It’s a long run of cord with a powered pulley car that can run along that cord with a camera suspended below. That’s pretty simple from the outside- just a couple of wheels and pulleys, a motor, and a frame. But: I’d like to be able to set a variable speed, and I’d like to have a delay from when I push “go” until it actually takes off. That’s still not a crazy build, but I need to figure out some stuff before I start buying parts.
I don’t know where else to put this, and thought it might be useful to someone here (maybe). Some obscure/esoteric bicycle advice:
- If you’re using inner tubes in a performance oriented bike, spend the extra couple of bucks to use ultralight tubes. The difference is worth it.
- Use good tires. Yes, they cost real money- but they dictate an awful lot about how your bike performs, so they’re the last place to scrimp on.
- Advice from racers/pro’s is worth precisely squat unless you’re a racer or pro. Pro cyclists are paid to ride what they ride- they would (and do) ride all sorts of horrible shit because it’s their job. Their opinions/equipment choices shouldn’t matter to you unless you’re getting paid to ride, too.
- You don’t need more gears; you need the right gears.
- The front brake should be your best buddy. When you need to stop in a hurry, it’s where all your braking power is- make friends with it.
- Frame pumps are better than mini pumps and CO2. That there are no good mtb frame pumps in production seems to be a market gap.
- Steel is a perfectly lovely material for frames, stems, and forks.
- Change your brake and shifter cables more often than you do. Change the housing, too.
- Wax chain lube is gross and weird.
- Full fingered bike gloves are better than half-finger gloves. Yes, even on road bikes.
Extra super busy with the start of the Fall semester, so I’m a day or two behind on this post. I’m sure you’ve all been waiting with baited breath.
- I’ve moved the Minecraft PE server from a Raspberry Pi to my Mac Mini. It’s way less fickle, and seems to put virtually no load on the Mini at all, so… yeah. Better.
- With my recently free Raspberry Pi 3 B+, I’ve installed RetroPie. That’s a vintage video game emulator, and it’s pretty sweet. I’ve been playing SNES and N64 games pretty easily (though for some reason my Pi froze and struggled to play Doom on N64- I’ll have to look into that).
- I’m moving my newsletter tool from tinyletter to SubStack. I’m not thrilled about doing that- it’s a bother and one more thing to do, but there’s been noise & rumors about tinyletter getting shut down so… yeah. SubStack is pretty nice, it seems- and it supports the ability to monetize. I’m not going that way, mind you.
- I’m looking to carve out some time early this autumn to finally finish work on the studio. The rack needs to get built, and I might as well build two room dividers while I’m at it. It’ll be nice to have the space finished.
- I’m still playing on Mastodon- but I’m not finding it (or twitter, honestly) very compelling right now. I’m toying with the idea of dropping both. Maybe. And with twitter talking about some god-awful thread function and even-worse-awful online indicator? Yeah. We’ll see how that goes.
I’m starting to settle in on the design of some room dividers for the office- I don’t want to wall myself off from the world, but being able to hide the cozy coupes littering my basement might be a good thing. Currently thinking about two of them (one in whiteboard, one in cork). I’d like to have the whiteboard also be magnetic, but that’s a pain to source (according to my research thus far).
I’m back on mastodon.cloud (and mastodon.social and mastodon.xyz, while I’m at it…). It’s still weird, and I’m still not sure about finding people to follow, hashtags, and the like. Trying to read a federated timeline is like drinking from a fire hose, and I want better filtering for it, but… yeah. I’ll need to read up more. Still: twitter is… not great. @jack seems really, really ok with nazis (and whatever horrors invade the platform), and I’m increasingly less sure I need that in my life.
I’ve grown less than thrilled with my Raspberry Pi Minecraft PE server. When it’s working, it’s great. But we lose power here sometimes, and the server would… not behave on reboot. So: looking for a new/different/better solution. Also worth noting: there may not be a better solution.
I’ve been beginning to question if my current use of social media is actually improving my quality of life or not- I left Facebook years and years ago, and I’ve never really regretted it. There are parts of Instagram I still like, but I’m feeling less-than-great about the competitive nature of likes and followers and whatnot. Ditto with twitter, I think- so I’m spending some time thinking about what I actually want out of those platforms (if anything), and what (other) tools I can use to generate those outcomes (on my own terms).
I use more than one computer at home- that should be no surprise if you’ve followed along with the manifestations of the studio. But: I really only have one keyboard I like right now, and I hate unplugging/plugging to move stuff back and forth. So: I found a four-port USB2 hub that does switching- there are four “ins” on one side and two “outs” on the other, and a button to toggle between the “outs.” Now I have my keyboard and mouse (and a webcam or two) that can easily bounce between the two desktop computers. Totally worth it if you have a complicated-ish computer rig.
Rested! I should point out that I never do these in any sort of order, so don’t read into that or anything.
- I’m spending some time looking into a rack solution for bikes on one of our cars. I need to be able to carry 5 bikes for now, with provisions for a tandem eventually. Likely a combination of roof and hitch mount.
- I’m looking at moving my mountain bike drivetrain from 8spd to 11spd. It was last meaningfully updated in 2004, and 8spd was old then. It’s likely time- I’ve just done the cranks/bb/chainring, so it’d be chain, cassette, shifter, and derailleur. Likely Shimano XT, for any bike dorks reading.
- I’ve got a stack of clothes that need altering/updating/repair, so it’s time to get the sewing machine out and get working again. You’ll be shocked to hear I’m thinking about shoulder bags again.
- Working on some sketches/plans for room dividers for the studio. It’s a bit room, and being able to partition it a bit would be pretty useful (and also as backgrounds when I do web calls…), so I’m putting a bit of thought in here with these. I’d like them to be useful, too, so likely two: one whiteboard and one cork board. I’d like the whiteboard to be magnetic, too.
- I got to spend some time playing with some Adafruit goodies while I was away- they’re super neat. I’m starting to have some ideas about what I can do with some of them, so keep your eyes peeled for upcoming projects.
I had this bike built by Peter in about 1996-7. It’s still a prized possession of mine, and I’m very happy to finally be back to riding it (after a few years off with kids…). This bike, 20 years later, still represents a platonic ideal of a road racing bike. I know things have moved on- compact geometry frames, disc brakes, Di2, tubeless, whatever. But for me (as a product of my time and upbringing), this bike is what I look for in a road bike.
For the tech geeks that might be reading:
The front triangle is Reynolds 853 brass brazed with 3Rensho lugs. Fork is an internal Cinelli crown with Suntour Track dropouts. The rear triangle is Columbus EL/OS silver brazed to Henry James stainless dropouts. It’s a full blown race bike, so the 26mm Compass tires are at the very hairy edge of what will fit. Gruppo is 8spd Campy (a mix of Record and Chorus), and I built the wheels with Mavic OpenPRO CD rims, DT Revolution spokes, and alloy nipples. Headset is a two-tone Chris King, stem is Salsa steel, bars are ttt with Neuman tape. Campy seatpost with a Selle Italia Flite Ti, seat roll by me. Pedals are painted Shimano DuraAce Look compatible.