Real life biking

With the weather finally turning awesome here in Seattle and the days being longer and longer I’m really looking forward to getting out of the basement and onto the real bike.

Today was one of those days to go on a ride in real life. You can take a look at it on Strava.

This was the second time this year that I went out on a ride… coincidentally it was the same ride. It has a good long hill on it that I want to get better at; the hill climbs from Golden Gardens up to Loyal Heights some 300 feet up. Last time I didn’t do it right — I got up, but I was dead. This time I did it better: higher gears and not being afraid to stand up on the pedals.

- = -

Good biking is something that I miss from living in Solon. It was almost ideal in fact. There was a number of challenging hills — but you could opt for level as well if you wanted to. You were near enough civilization that you can easily get to a bike shop. But just a half mile out the sidewalks fully stopped and you got to hills and farms.

Here in Seattle I have way more biking culture. Bike shops everywhere. Lots of bikers. Most of where there is to ride though is on city streets. It’s good for commuting, but it’s a bit more annoying dodging traffic.

- = -

Regardless of location… I think I just have a fetish of sorts for two wheeled ways of getting around. Both the pedal bicycle and the motorcycle have an allure that I can’t quite get over.

Go figure.

Co-misery

I’ve been writing about a sub-optimal system a bit… it can be demoralizing to feeling like you’re always on the back foot because you can’t get anything to work. It can really feel like the lack of progress is a reflection on your own competence.

When you’re alone in that situation it’s quite easy to start second-guessing yourself.

Then when someone else climbs into the same boat as yourself it feels a lot better. If nothing else it can be a boost of self confidence that you’re not alone. That you’re not stupid.

And then you can collaborate with your compatriot to see how you can improve your situation.

Two ton death machine

I was reading an article a while back from Ars Technica. Elon Musk was saying that he’s figuring that non-self-driving cars might be banned one day.

That’s a scary thought for me.

Ok, so I think the majority of Seattle’s drivers are bad. (Of course I think that I’m well above average… but regardless)

That said, I’m still trying to figure out how the self driving cars will deal with all of the exceptional conditions that exist in the world. In this case I’m talking about real exceptions. Like what about a cement truck that has to go the wrong way on a one-way road to get to where they’re going.

What about all the remote areas in the world?

Oh, you’re not authorized to drive there because the computers don’t know about it.

What about things like the old haul road? What of the roads that try to kill you — that you don’t let kill you?

What about motorcycles?

What of the classic cars?

What of the horse and buggy?

What of bicycles?

What of everything that isn’t a self-driving car?

It’s easy to cry “think of the children” in the face of death. It’s another to think of the children — and think of the freedoms of theirs that you are so easily giving away.

Embarrassing oversight… brakes

Last summer I swapped the brake rotors on my bike. That was around 6,000 miles ago.

Then today I hear some grinding when I’m braking.

For a bit.

Then I check the pads.

What pads. Just the backing plates trying to weld themselves onto the rotor. Trying to mess them up real bad.

:-O

Oy.

Thankfully I have another set of pads (with actual meat on the bones) in stock. (Actually, I think I have two sets and a half-used one… but that’s just how I roll.)

I installed the new pads with a headlamp and the bike sitting in the street parked. But I was able to pull it off in just a few minutes.

A quick test ride showed a real improvement… but still around half the rotor face is pretty gnarly looking.  :-/

I’m hoping a few hundred miles will machine things flat again.

I hope.

Tricks of the trade — assumptions

My current project (and the systems I’m dealing with) have basically been an all-consuming thing in my life. It’s not from a standpoint of what I’m working on being a death march, as much as it’s getting someone else’s system to work for us.

So, I always make analogies… typically about cars. And today will be no different.

Let’s say you’re working on an engine and putting things together. If you’re reading the manual you could very well come across this statement:

“Introduce the piston to the cylinder.”

If you know how to work on engines that says everything you need to know.

Therein lies the problem: “if you know how to work on engines.”

If you don’t know how to work on engines you’ll never get them together. Hell, you might barely know which side to put where. (What you would need is a piston ring compressor if you’re trying to do this, without which you’ll have a hell of a time getting things in place without buggering up the cylinder or rings)

The same can be said for cooking.

What if a line of the instructions read “prepare the eggs.”

Eh?

How?

Should I scramble them? Fry them? Turn them into mayo? What?

If you’ve worked under the chef that developed the recipe then you instantly know what’s going on. But if you tell someone that you’ll get nothing but frustration on both sides.

In either case, if you’re giving the instructions you’ll look at what looks like the idiot in front of you and think that they are clueless and incompetent. The receiver of the instructions will just be frustrated since they have no idea what to do next.

While both are frustrated, the party to blame for the most part is the instruction-giver. They are the only one in the position to know what’s important and what isn’t. If they are leaving things out or refusing to clarify it’s bad on them.

Complexity

A lot of times I look around me and I see people making complexity.

I’m pretty sure that much of is subconscious. Some of it comes about from feature creep. But much of what I see comes more from the pursuit of the computer science-y configurability.

If a little configurability is good, more is better, right?

That’s the problem — as you keep adding more complexity the system you’re building starts getting bigger and bigger. Soon you start inventing your own language.

But as things get more complex you get to the point where you are the only person that can understand the system.

Then you’re stuck.

Seattle Public Library + Lynda = <3

Many of you I’m sure have heard of Lynda — they make educational videos on all sorts of things. They specialize in a lot of the creative fields so you can find things like training on Adobe products, film making, programming, the works.

They typically have a monthly (or annual I suppose) charge.

I found out a few weeks ago about a connection they have started with the Seattle Public Library.

If you have a library card here in Seattle (which is stupid easy to get), you can access all of the Lynda videos for free!

:-D

This is such the win for me! I’ve been tinkering with Adobe Premier for a while now… and hey look, they have a course on that!

For free — for me! (and everyone who lives or works in Seattle or parts of King County)

So, if you have a Seattle Library card, just go over to Lynda.com using this link and start learning! (No, not a magic link that’s all hacky, it’s just an organizational login for spl.org)

(edit: forgot the link for logins)

VHB Adhesive

I mentioned a week or two back about moving from the Garmin Virb action cameras to a set of GoPro cameras. With this move comes the replacement of the mounts.

Between my bike and my helmet I had four mounts adhered to things.

I’ve always wondered how tenacious the bond really is… you know, how much should I trust a bit of adhesive to hold on a camera when I’m cruising down the highway doing (let’s all pretend for a moment) 60 miles per hour.

Well, I can say that I now really trust them. Even holding a dryer on them for a few minutes and getting everything nice and toasty I can say with some certainly that I would be more than happy for them to hold a camera and then some.

VHB – Very High Bond.

Indeed it is.

Not just the simple bond, but the viscoelastic that’s between the sides of the tape is also just as impressive. I stretched the gray goo on the inside to at least three times its thickness and it did nothing but stretch — all while holding onto both sides of the bond on both of its sides.

Not to re-mount new mounts — of the GoPro variety.

Cycle time

When working with another person or another team you become faced with the problem of latency in the cycle time.

When you’re working alone the only real limiting factor is how fast you can work and how well your tools work.

The big issue with the working with someone else is how quickly they can get back to you when you have questions or need feedback and how many times that round trip needs to be made.

That’s where it can get more than frustrating.

Let’s say you’re working on a project. You submit a code review to the other team for instance and some things need to be corrected, let’s say A, B, C, and D.

The ideal scenario is you get back the feedback and they say to do all four and get back to them. You do four and you’re set. You only have two round-trips.

They can, however, just get back A. You fix A and resubmit. Then get told to do B, and so forth. Each of the now five round trips takes time — and the time equals lost work opportunity and frustration.

Chemistry

It’s the strange moment when you realize that something exists between two people… and this is going well beyond NRE — new relationship energy. Old relationships… with the new worn away and the sharp edges burnished off.

What is it? And how and why is it there?

Even when in some ways you don’t want it to happen — because of complicated. It’s there none the less.

I wish I knew.

I wish I could bottle it. Hell, I’d make a fortune.

That moment that you realize that even though a lot of angst, anger, and general annoyance… while that layer is there and is itself real… is covering up another equally real segment of reality.

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