SitRep

Updates abound.

  • I finally got my road bike back up and running- broken spoke fixed and both tires swapped over for new wider/lighter/not cracked rubber. I haven’t been able to take it out, mind you- the weather has been garbage for two weeks straight- but it’s ready. Though the saddle has some discoloration- I’m not sure what’s happened there.
  • A new crankset, bb, and chainring for my mountain bike should show up today. I’m stealing the current bottom bracket from my mountain bike and installing it on my gravel bike, so the mountain bike needed some new parts. Nothing too special (Shimano XT, if you’re wondering), but it’ll also let me swap some cranks out on my wife’s (amazing) burrito slayer.
  • Camera parts continue to come together. After far too long, I’ve decided to standardize my camera mounts around a Manfrotto 200PL plate system- so I’ve been (slowly) amassing enough of the plates and mounts to cover most of my gear.
  • I finally did some video work too- just for practice. I’m feeling better about getting myself comfortable with the new camera (and lenses, and codecs and whatnot), so it’s good to have some stuff come out of camera looking pretty good, and then be able to process it nicely. Progress!

Research List #43

Currently Researching:

  • Antennas for SDR setups (as my current setup is entirely too anemic)
  • Plugins for Minecraft PE servers (running on Raspberry Pi)
  • Pi-Hole for ad blocking (I’m going to end up with a stack of Raspberry Pi computers running, aren’t I?)
  • Raspberry Pi Rack mount solutions (this is totally a thing).
  • Multi-cam security camera setups with minimal wiring
  • vinyl plotters
  • digital calipers

SitRep

Mid summer.

  • Road bike is fixed. A call to the builder confirmed my suspicions- the frame, built in the late 90’s as a full-blown race bike was built with what his notes say were “minimal” clearances. He was certain I could get a 25c tire through (which is still better than my current 23’s), and he thought maybe, depending, I might be able to squeeze a 28c through- but I wouldn’t know until I tried and there were too many variables to wager a guess. So: I ordered some 26’s (that should come today), and that should do the trick. I wasn’t willing to wager $200 on tires that might not fit, so 26 seemed like a decent place to start. I fixed the broken rear spoke, too- it was nice to get the new spoke in there, bring it up to tension, and have the rear wheel come right back into true. I might have built those wheels properly 20 years ago.
  • Tracking down a re-foam kit for old loudspeakers is… annoying. They exist, but they’re a pita to get ordered and shipped and all that. So: on the list, but trying to find the most elegant solution.
  • Looking at power management solutions for the rack system (again). I’ve got the 120v AC power mostly dealt with- planned, anyway. But the 5v DC USB powered stuff needs to be sorted out, too. While it’s convenient that so many things are USB powered, it’s annoying to have an endless array of tiny power supplies eating up space on a power strip. To that end, I’ve had good luck with Ankler PowerPorts (they do 120 AC to 5v DC with 6 ports), and the two I have are fully occupied, so… it’s looking like I’ll need a third to deal with the stuff in the rack. And some more USB micro cables, too.
  • I’m about ready to start devoting some time to that new video series I mentioned a few weeks ago- building out a proper full-sized set of videos about William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. I’m pretty excited to work on something like this for the first time in a while, and I’m also wary of putting work out into the public like this (as it’s always rough on the ego).

SitRep

Back at it.

  • I broke a spoke and flatted on my road bike yesterday, so now I need to fix the wheel and deal with tires. The rubber on that bike is pretty old, and while it looked to be in ok shape, it has some cracks and signs of age- so that’s likely to be  a new set of tires. I need to find out how large a tire that bike will fit, so I’m going to try to get in contact with the builder and see what he can tell me. Ideally, I’ll be able to fit a set of Compass 26c (or, maybe 28c) extralight tires. Maybe even a second set for the gravel bike (they have a 26″ x 1.8″ and 26″ x 2.3″ I’ve had my eye on…)
  • My Raspberry Pi 3 B+ came, and it’s up and running a Minecraft PE server. Setting up a Minecraft server on a RasPi should be easy, but because my kids play the PE variation of the game (via iOS devices instead of desktops), the sever software is more obscure, and finding a version that will run on a Pi is… annoying. Regardless, it seems to be working. Now I need to look into plugins and whatnot.
  • The “new” stereo is up and running. As per usual with me, there are things to work out, but for right now it seems to be working ok. It looks like the speaker’s woofers will need re-foaming, but I’ll get that sorted.
  • My Software Defined Radio came- it’s super neat to be able to listen to all manner of stuff floating around the airwaves. In theory, anyway, as my antenna is pretty small and I’m not finding many signals I can actually hear. I’m working on a better solution, so we’ll see.
  • I still need to build my rack mount for my office. I don’t want to rehash all the things that have gotten in the way, but there’s just been no time to get it all done. Soon, I hope, as it’s nearly the only thing between me and a finished studio.

SitRep

Whoops! I managed to blow up my bandwidth for last month, so this site was inaccessible for a few days. I’m back, now. Updates!

  • I’ve gone through the media files for this site and thinned things out a bit- I foolishly left some photos at pretty high resolution (and thus larger file sizes…), so I’m hoping that’ll do the trick and keep bandwidth under control this month.
  • I’ve been ill, so my riding has been pretty much nil for last couple of weeks- and now the weather is super-duper hot-and-humid, so… yeah. Biking is frustratingly on hold for a bit as I recover.
  • As always, I’m an adaptor away from greatness: I was recently gifted a vintage NAD amp/receiver with some Boston Acoustics speakers, and those have becoming my new office sound system- but, as would always be the case, I’m short a pair of slightly obscure adaptors to make the final connections work. Typical.
  • My kids are starting to play a bit more Minecraft- and now they want to play together in-game. That’s pretty easy at first- they all play on iOS, and the can see local games. But it’s fickle and requires the host to always be in the game- they’d like to share a game a be able to work on it whenever. So: I’ve a Raspberry Pi inbound to be built up as a local Minecraft server. Should do the trick.
  • I’m still writing my newsletter. I just sent out #93 a couple of days ago, and (as per usual with newsletters) I had a few people immediately unsubscribe. That’s how it is- I get that. It’s just a drag to see your subscriber count creep slowly down every time you actually send something out. I’m trying to figure out what my goals for that newsletter are (or even what my purpose for it is). Am I writing it for me? Am I writing it for some imagined audience?

Research List #42

I’ve not done one of these in a while, and I’m trying to write here more, too. So: currently researching:

  • EF-M 22mm Lens from Canon
  • Maranez Watches (and other micro brands, especially those using Seiko’s NH35 movement)
  • A desk mounted iPhone charging dock (that accommodates a case)
  • PowerPC “Modern” browsers (I don’t know if this is even a thing)
  • IKEA Spänst lights (usb powered light tubes)
  • Alternatives to iTunes on a Mac (I’m using TinyPlayer right now)
  • Compounding interest
  • Bookmarklet Javascripts to modify webpage CSS

SitRep

It’s been a long hard week. I’ve had to make some difficult decisions, I’ve gotten sick, and the wind-down of the school year for my family is always rough. Regardless, it’s officially summer now, so let’s do an update.

  • The studio is starting to break in nicely. The overall design is one thing, but it’s when the space reacts to heavy use that the details start to come out. The SD card reader mounted to a shelf, the USB switch to move some of the peripherals from one machine to another easily, the mounts for the webcams… all that starts to solidify. An finer example- I’ve got a birds-eye view webcam over my analog desk. That camera is mounted (via a Manfrotto plate system) to a SuperClamp that’s gripping the overhead shelf. It means I can either use the webcam there, or with a flick of a lever, swap the camera to a proper video camera (or still, for that matter) to shoot higher end video. Fast, easy, and versatile.
  • I’ve begun some work on a proper update to my most popular YouTube videos. Years ago, I made a short series of videos about Lord of the Flies, and it’s time to update them. It will be a project for the next couple of months- and after those videos, I’m hoping to make a set for Catcher in the Rye. After that, who knows. But my better half and I are starting to break down the segments and outline the topics, so it’ll still be a while until you actually see any of them. But I’m working on it.
  • This site has been eating through it’s bandwidth this month- there was a pretty hefty spike in viewership, and at the same time I put up some uncharacteristically media-heavy posts. I’ve redone the media for those (a bit smarter with the jpeg compression is all), so that should help.

Slowing Down.

Borderland PathThe only metric I keep track of at all it’s how long I’ve been out on the bike. Mostly, that’s because I have obligations as a dad to my family, and I need to make sure that I’m where I’m supposed to be at any given time. Because I don’t chase numbers, it leaves me free to slow down sometimes. I’m not chasing an average speed; I’m not chasing mileage. I’m not chasing anything.

Because I can slow down, I found that I often stumble across things that I’ve ridden past dozens of times and never seen before. A new trail, a new road, a new path to venture down. If I was more numbers obsessed, I’d go screaming pass these trying to push my average speed up or cover more miles. But the benefits of slowing down can’t be overestimated.

So, here’s to slowing down- to finding a bench to sit on, a path to get lost on, and a view to admire.

SitRep

Here’s where things stand:

  • I’m in a small holding pattern on the custom rack cabinet build for the studio- it’s really just a matter of finding the time/weather combo to make it happen. It’s likely a one or two day build, but those two circles in the Venn diagram just haven’t aligned, yet. Some of the power management I was waiting for is there, though, so that’s one less holdup on the buildout (when the cabinet is done).
  • I found an excellent solution to storing large format art that’s not framed. I’d nearly resigned myself to needing to hunt down a map file (and find a place to put that), but I’d been stalling (as they’re expensive and bulky). Through sheer dumb luck I’ve stumbled across a method that involves hanging the work off stringers- and it’s totally something I can build.
  • I’ve been working on a streaming setup- I don’t really know why, but it seemed like a good idea? Anyway, I’ve found that my Mac Mini I’ve hot rodded still doesn’t quite have the horsepower to deal with three HD cameras at the same time, so… it’s also patched into the xserve (which I mostly leave off, these days, as it’s loud and power hungry… but when you need horsepower, it’s got it (still!)).
  • I haven’t been filming a lot recently- there have been too many other projects on the front burner, and something(s) had to give. I’m trying to get back to that, now- as well as putting some time on on my still photography. I’ve been away from it for a little while, and video and still have always been good at pushing some creativity back into my routine, which has obvious benefits elsewhere. The gallery of one of my bikes in the previous post would be the very start of this project.

 

Bridgestone MB-3

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I got this bike in high school, around 1994 or so. Actually, it wasn’t this bike- it was a teal MB-4. It was a gift, and a way to get me to stop borrowing and breaking my mother’s MB-5. I broke a chainstay on the original bike a year or three later, and this was my warranty replacement frame and fork. That was a bit of luck, too, because by that time Bridgestone had pulled out of the US, and I had to track down the former rep and see if he had a frame around that he could give me. He did, and I’ve ridden this bike ever since.

Originally, of course, it was built up as a regular mountain bike. The sub-genres of bikes we have now weren’t yet a thing, so that meant it was setup for twisty technical New England singletrack. Think: narrow flat bars, toe clips, 2″ tires inflated to 35 psi, and a rigid fork. Classic. The build evolved over time (and as I broke things), but it was pretty much always setup for trail riding.

Then, I went away to college and needed to bring a bike. I took this, and before I went I put 1.5″ slick tires on it, got rid of the granny chainring, and added toeclips. It became my first commuter bike. Around 1999, I bought a Specialized Stumpjumper Pro, and that became my “good” mountain bike. The Bridgestone morphed into a single speed (32 x 16… remember when that was the thing?), and stayed that way for years. I raced cyclocross on it a few times like that with the addition of Conti Cross Country tires in 1.5″. As I got older and had my own children, the bike turned into a seven speed burrito slayer- single chainring, front rack & basket, flat pedals. Built for pedaling on bike paths with kids.

I’d been toying with the idea of putting 700c wheels on it- apparently they’ll fit (sorta?) and you can run adaptors to get the brakes to work… but I didn’t have any spare 700c wheels lying around, so I thought I’d test it out for gravel with the existing wheels. I swapped the bars and stem, got some vintage Dura Ace STI levers, re-geared it (and added a front derailleur for the first time since 1998!), and refinished a saddle to match.

It’s my “gravel” bike, now- and it’s totally in it’s element. The handling and frame still feel excellent, and the drivetrain works beautifully for the terrain I ride here. Eventually, it might be fun to see how 650b wheels look in there (the brakes don’t require an adaptor for those- I’m unsure of the tire clearance, though), but it’s pretty sweet as-is. I suppose a slightly narrower/lighter tire would be cool too, but that’s really just splitting hairs.

So there you go- a 24 year old bike that’s still finding new ways to be useful and wonderful. Long live the Bridgestone.