#30daysofbiking day 15 – retrogrouch ride


As you may have heard, the bicycle industry disappeared up its own asshole today, by releasing an 11 speed road group complete with hydraulic rim brakes. Seriously.

Drum Brakes!

To commemorate this ridiculous occasion, I rode my 5-speed Sturmey-Archer equipped bike with cable-actuated drum brakes. I made a lap around the neighborhood, and then went down to the park and cruised past a few kids’ baseball games. Never once did I find myself wishing my brake lines were filled with an incompressible fluid.

If it’s good enough for Sheldon Brown, you can bet your ass, it’s good enough for you!

I rode 3 miles today!  #30daysofbiking

¡Viva la Bike Blogosphere!


Last week, Google announced that they were shutting down Google Reader. Upon hearing this news, I became agitated and behaved in a somewhat undignified manner on Google Plus.

After regaining my composure, I came to accept that Google is perfectly within its rights to shut down whatever services they want, at any time. In short, “the cloud” is unreliable. Google might decide to shut down Blogger tomorrow, and that would be the end of the Free Internet.

Fortunately, I remain in possession of this self-hosted WordPress blog. Unfortunately, I’ve been neglecting it for quite some time. After going through my blogroll links yesterday, it appears to me that many of you are neglecting your blogs, as well.

The reasons for this are fairly easy to deduce. We were all swept away by “social media.” To send a tweet, update your Facebook status, or post a picture of your victuals on Intagram is a trivial task. Composing a blog entry requires a modicum of thought, and at least several minutes of your attention. So, in abject laziness, we abandoned our duties as Jeffersonian Yeoman bloggers, and became digital sharecroppers, churning out content for Mark Zuckerberg and his Hamiltonian ilk.

This migration to content-peonage has forced our readers to submit to dreadful predations merely to stay abreast of our goings-on. If our grandmothers or our friends want to know what we’ve been getting up to, we force them to sign up for a service that will steal their personal information, violate their privacy, and rain torrents of “suggested posts” upon them.

To address these and other concerns, I resolve, forthwith, to write here, on my own self-hosted blog, and to extricate myself so far as is practicable from the myriad social networks in which I find myself entangled. I encourage you to do the same.

Social Media aggregatorWhile I seek out self-hosted replacements for these utilities, I have hastily thrown together a small compendium of my activities on some of these services. You will find it in the right-hand sidebar. I crafted it from a hodge-podge of WordPress plugins, and had to create most of the icons myself.

It allows anyone with an interest in my goings-on to inform himself without the need to visit the premises of nefarious rogues.

For the moment, its utility is limited to publicly available information regarding my bicycling adventures and reading habits.

In the short term, I may seek ways to include more of my activities in this list. In the long term, however, it is my intention that all information I elect to share with the public at large will originate here, on my own server, and not on the premises of some unscrupulous stranger.

These are dark times for the bicycle-blogosphere.

Go! Ride your bikes!
Update your blogs!
Subscribe to each other’s RSS feeds!

Actually, do whatever you want, but that’s what I’m doing.

Wikileaks Winkerdinks


About 5 years ago, the corporate overlords at my last job asked, me to look into a content management system for the information technology department to keep its documentation.

I proposed that we use a wiki.

The mahogany-row big-wigs laughed me out of their office, saying that “wiki” was a stupid name, that it sounded like “dickie,” and that nobody was going to ever use something with such a stupid name. Evidently, these guys had not yet heard of Wikipedia, despite their supposed “leadership” role in the information technology department of a fortune 500 company.

For the past several days, everyone in the news media has been falling all over themselves about the big wikileaks brouhaha.

I hear the word “wiki” mentioned on the radio, the TV news, and all over the Internet numerous times daily. Astonishingly, nobody seems to find the name all that silly, and none of the newscasters confuse wiki-style content management systems with male genitalia.

I would like to take this opportunity to point and laugh at my former bosses, extend a well-meaning middle finger, and shout “TOLD YOU SO!” at the top of my lungs.

In other news, tomorrow marks my four year anniversary with my current company, where I keep all the server and network documentation in MediaWiki, and nobody seems to find this strange or comical.

Musings on the New Kindle


So, there’s a new Kindle out, and there’s an interview with Jeff Bezos on USA Today:

Q: Why doesn’t Amazon support the popular “e-pub” standard used by your competitors and many libraries?

A: We are innovating so rapidly that having our own standard allows us to incorporate new things at a very rapid rate. For example: Whispersync (which uses wireless connections to sync your place in a book across devices) and changing font sizes.

I call Shenanigans on this line of argument. Kindle supports PDF and plain text files, for heaven’s sake! Plain text files don’t have Whispersync either, but it’s still nice to have support for other formats.

It’s not as if adding ePub support would be hard, either.

Want to see how hard it is to support ePub? Follow along.

  1. Go download the ePub version of this book. It’s a good one, trust me.

    Download the file

  2. rename the file from .epub to .zip

    Rename it to .zip

  3. Open the zip
    It's just HTML!

See, ePub is just a zip file full of XHTML.

So what’s the deal, can the Kindle not render HTML?

Nope. The new Kindle comes with a webkit browser, so I’m pretty sure it can handle HTML rendering.

There’s really no excuse for the Kindle not to support ePub.

I still have an old-ass first generation Kindle, that won’t even read PDFs, let alone ePubs. I read a lot of PDFs for work, and the old Kindle isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Although Amazon added PDF support for Kindle a few months ago, they neglected to issue the update for Kindle 1, to my great consternation.

I suppose I could stomp out in a huff and buy a nook, but I already have something like 60 books in the Kindle format.

So, despite my sense of indignation at the lack of ePub support and general grumpiness at being overlooked for the PDF upgrade. I went ahead pre-ordered one of the shiny new Kindles.

Vendor lock-in is a bitch.

Change we can believe…oh nevermind


Well this is just fucking great.

Obama creates faith-based office with wide mission

Before signing the order in the Oval Office, Obama told a prayer breakfast it would show not favoritism to any religious group and would adhere to the strict separation of church and state.

Uh, forcing me to tithe to faiths I don’t believe in shows favoritism to those faiths. Giving government monies to religious groups is the very definition of violating the separation of church and state.

I really hope that Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is getting some loot out of this.

I Hate Dogs


I went for a little cruise around Marysville this evening, gathering GPS tracks for OpenStreetMap. I rolled up to a stop light, and no sooner had I put my foot down, when a viscous, evil, snarling hell-hound sprang from the bushes and made like he wanted to eat me.

I jumped off my bike the tried to keep it between me and the fell creature. We must have circled each other – dog-fight style – a dozen times before his owner came out to see what all the fuss was about.

She seemed to be of the opinion that by keeping my bike between us, I was instigating her mutt’s aggression. She even went to far as to grab my handlebars a few times to try to make me stop.

As soon as I saw an opportunity, I wrested my bike free, jumped back on, and fled with all haste.

Today: 5 miles
August: 70 miles
2008 Utility Miles: 224
2008 Total Miles: 426 miles

Boo Hoo! There’s Bears!


The local news ran a story this morning about a man who built his house right next to 14,000 acres of protected game lands, and now he’s shocked and amazed to learn that bears live there.

Interactive Map

The Yellow arrow on the map shows the approximate location of the housing development in question. The green areas are the game lands.

He wants the game commission to ‘relocate’ the bears. I’m not sure where they would relocate them to, since the game lands are where the bears are supposed to live in the first place.

Bear Cavalry

In the north country where I come from, everybody has bears in their yard, and nobody runs crying to the game commission about it. Bears really aren’t all that dangerous, and they generally make better neighbors than most people do.

The “Sylvania” part of the word “Pennsylvania” is Latin for “forest land.”

Bears live in the woods.