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Month: July 2008

Salt Is Not Snack Food

From #mi2600 a few minutes back:

22:33 < c0nsumer> when i was little i would pick rock salt up off the sidewalk and eat it at school
22:33 < c0nsumer> i'd get horrible headaches for some reason

Also, the MMBA Metro North meeting tonight at Rochester Mills was pretty neat. I got to meet some new people, talk to others, things like that. There was also good beer, and I ate some very nice (but not filling enough, and not rock salty) fish tacos during the meeting, then a basket of fries.

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How To Make an iPhone 3G Fail

A iPhone 3G at the Apple Store rebooting after I managed to crash it by viewing a 7MB JPEG.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been contemplating an iPhone 3G as a replacement for my aging (and failing) Nokia 6600. Today I went by the Apple store at the local outdoor mall, Partridge Creek to spend some time playing with one. Unfortunately, I crashed it hard once and made the UI slow horribly another time. I also ran into one other potentially show stopping bug.

First, 3G was a lot slower than local wireless. When using 802.11 things zipped along nicely, but 3G was still wholly acceptable on both web pages and maps. I think it’d be just fine for mobile use.

I then wanted to try to see how it renders my personal site, including my photo gallery, so I loaded up a few things. Everything worked great, except for when I’d try and visit a full size image in the gallery, then the image wouldn’t display. For example, take this page. It worked great, except that large image of the P3 case just simply wouldn’t display.

Thinking that maybe the iPhone had problems with large images I then browsed to and tried to view this image. While downloading and rendering it (via 802.11) the phone got really slow, the volume buttons and ringer switch stopped responding, and then phone laggedly noticed that I’d turned it sideways. The whole phone was very slow, and after four or five minutes of being nearly unresponsive it gave up. The phone was displaying partially downloaded image and half-heartedly rotated screen (it must have noticed that I’d been moving the phone around) when it went blank and rebooted, displaying the screen shown above.

After the phone rebooted I made a point of disabling 3G, thinking that maybe the phone was somehow failing over to it and just let it go with 802.11. (This is done by turning on airplane mode, then turning WiFi on.)

The image was then able to load and display, although it took quite a bit of time. I can’t help but think that the iPhone just isn’t set up to deal with / display images of this size. With how popular digital photography and things like Flickr in particular are, I’d hope that Apple would have found a way to deal with it. Wanting to break things further I loaded up this 9.7MB JPEG panorama of a part of the USAF Museum at Wright-Patterson. This too caused the iPhone 3G to lag horribly and the UI to become unresponsive, but eventually (after maybe four minutes) it acquired the image and displayed it. This time the phone didn’t crash.

While I can understand that a mobile device might not be able to handle images of this size, I think there should be something in place to ensure that the end user experience doesn’t turn to crap. Also, I really don’t like how the image in my gallery silently failed to display.

Speaking of outdoor malls in Michigan, check out the map of Twelve Mile Crossing at Fountain Walk, aka The Fountain walk, in Novi. See all the empty space? I don’t know what developer could possibly think that an outdoor mall in a state with Michigan’s drawn out, harsh winter and frequently rainy summers is a good idea.

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Measured Bike Tire Diameters

This is more reference to myself, but others may find it useful. Here are the measured diameters of the bike tires which I own:

· Continental Travel Contact (26″ x 1.75″ / Wire Bead) @ ~55psi: 2027mm
· Specialized The Captain Control (26″ x 2″ / Aramid Bead) @ ~40psi: 2110mm
· Specialized Fast Trak LK (26″ x 2″ / Wire Bead) @ ~45psi: 2104mm
· Nokian Hakka W300 (26″ x 2.2″ / Aramid Bead) @ ~35psi: 2099mm
· Kenda Nevegal (29″ x 2.2″ / Folding) @ ~40psi: 2303mm
· Specialized The Captain Control (29″ x 2″ / Aramid Bead) @ ~30psi: 2285mm
· Schwalbe Racing Ralph (29″ x 2.4″ / Folding) @ 27psi: 2316mm
· Nokian Gazza Extreme 294 (29″ x 2.1″ / Wire Bead @ ~30psi: 2278mm

In case you are wondering why I’d measure this, these numbers are needed in order to calibrate a bike computer so that it may be reasonably accurate in measuring speed and distance.

The measurement was taken by rolling the tire (fitted to the wheel and inflated as listed) along the basement floor and measuring with a metric tape measure. Yes, I know the diameter will vary some as the tire is slightly flattened while rolling, but finding that variance will require some long distance straight line riding with a GPS and then a comparison. I may do that later on the smooth tires (Travel Contact), but not on the knobbies.

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Big Dave’s Bag of Angry Beans

Rouge Roastery's Big Dave's Angry Beans coffee after brewing in my AeroPress. This blend is made with "...spicy beans from South America and Southeast Asia, mixed with a hint of cayenne pepper." I like it quite a bit.

Last night after Danielle and I met up with at Dragonmead we swung by IPM for a couple hours. While there I found out that one of the folks there named Dave, who I’d met previously, runs Rouge Roastery doing coffee. There was a bit of talking about coffee, and I ended up being given a few servings worth of Big Dave’s Bag of Angry Beans and Sumatra Gayo Mountain Organic Beans.

I used my trusty Aerobie AeroPress to make up a cup of the Angry Beans this morning. The Rouge Roastery site describes this flavored blend as follows:

…spicy beans from South America and Southeast Asia, mixed with a hint of cayenne pepper. It’s a nice mixture of smooth spice in the cup, but finishing with a kick.

As can be seen above there is definitely chili in it, as it settled to the center / bottom of the pile of grounds while using the AeroPress.

Perhaps it’s just be, but I don’t really think of coffee + spice as “flavored”, but I guess it’s not pure coffee and has things added for flavor, so it is. Maybe I’m just more familiar with coffees called “flavored” as having lots and lots of odd, sickly half-flavors (hazelnut, vanilla, etc) added ruining any actual coffee taste.

Despite the description on Rouge Roastery’s site indicating that the Angry Beans are “Particularly good with creme and sugar – hot and sweet. Just like Big Dave himself.” I first tried it black.

This coffee seems to start out nicely smooth before the cayenne starts to bite. After swallowing the burn moves down the throat but isn’t too much. The coffee part of the flavor is fairly smooth, but not as smooth as some of the oilier coffees I’ve had. If you are someone who likes Vosges’ Oaxaca or Red Fire candy (chocolate) bars and you also like coffee you’d probably like this.

After finishing half the pint glass of coffee I followed this suggestion and tried it with just half and half, then also with sugar. The dairy alone definitely added something to the coffee, but it really is best with sugar in it as well.

I’m going to have a hard time knowing exactly how to drink this coffee because it seems that there’s a bunch of different ways that I enjoy it. As I said, I normally drink coffee black, but for the Angry Beans I may even end up having a whole serving with both dairy and sugar, which would be a first for me.

All said, this is a great coffee. After this sample is gone I’m going to have to secure some more of it. The Sumatra Gayo Mountain will probably be tried this afternoon or maybe just later in the week. I have high hopes for it as well.

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Split Hose

My coiled green plastic hose has developed a leak. I'm not quite sure how this happened.

After Danielle got back from the UP we had to wash Roxie because she smelled like a mix of dog and lake. Following that I washed a few days of riding of mud off my bike, during which time I noticed that the coiled green plastic hose I have has a small split in it. This causes a very small, powerful jet of water to spray out.

I’m not sure how it happened, but thankfully it’s still small. Hopefully it won’t get much bigger.

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Sore Shoulder

With 90°F (32°C) temps, 70% humidity, and pretty much no wind riding today was quite strenuous. At one point I’d overexerted myself and was right near the throwing up point (and probably a bit out of it) when I clipped a tree with the left brake lever / handle bar. This caused all sorts of weirdness resulting in my hitting a tree on the opposite side of the path (about 4′ away), and as I fell I grabbed on to a third tree.

As the bike was wrenched around hitting the tree I somehow hurt my shoulder, most likely because my arm was fairly rigid and suddenly the handle bar was about a foot back from where it had been. I hope this soreness doesn’t last too long.

I fell two other times as well. Once was right over into a huge pile of thorns and vines and the other was on a downhill when in a bit of sand and my front wheel turned and hit a root. After falling into the shrubbery I made sure to survey the area to see if I’d fallen into any poison ivy and thankfully I hadn’t. With the second I actually got off the bike and was mostly still holding the handle bars when the bike came up and over my shoulder.

This is actually the first time I’ve done anything more than just falling over while on the single track stuff. I was really pushing myself at times and right on the brink of exhaustion, so that probably had a lot to do with it. I felt like I was riding quite a bit faster than I normally do, but I was also right on the edge of losing control a few times. Pushing myself feels nice, but I really do need to be careful not to cause permanent injury.

After the ride I ended up talking with a guy named Mark for a while in the parking lot about bike stuff. He said that he shows up at many of the Wednesday night group rides, so hopefully I’ll see him there. Mark also suggested that I drop the pressure on my new tires a bit, which I’ll try on the next ride. I’d been running them at about 50 psi, but he was suggesting somewhere around 35 psi. I think I’ll give this a go.

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A spindle of old optical media which I need to safely dispose of.

Do any of you have a good idea for how I can securely dispose of this spindle of optical media? This mix of both pressed and writable media needs to somehow be done away with safely. Normally I’d think a shredder would be acceptable, but buying a shredder is expensive and this is a lot of media to push through in one go.

I’ve considered burning them, but that’s a lot of plastic to burn. Microwaving would be effective, but difficult. Scoring / scraping the surface of each individually is very costly time-wise.

So, any idea what else I could do?

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Soap Scum

Soap scum on the floor of my shower after many months of not cleaning the bathroom. I am fascinated by where the deposits are and where they aren't.

For my 100th post since moving to self-hosted WordPress with a LJ crossposter I give you this photo of the floor of my shower as it was earlier today with some lots of soap scum on it.

See, I’m lazy and tend to put off some tasks if they aren’t immediately needed. As soap scum is just a build up of soap residue and minerals in the water, I find it to be not disgusting and not worthy of immediate cleaning. Then I tend to let it go for way too long and you get what you see above, soap scum with interesting texture which appear to match standing water and where the shower spray hits while one stands in front of it. Sometimes I’ll sit down in the shower and just stare at it and run my hands over it, wondering exactly how it deposited as it did.

Now that it (and the walls and shower head and stuff rack and doors) are clean, it is much nicer, though. Tomorrow I’ll probably clean the rest of the bathroom. Sink / toilet / floor / etc are a whole lot easier, though.

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Schweppes’ Original Bitter Lemon

Schweppes' Original Bitter Lemon, purchased from a local store called Balkan Market. It's excellent.

After being present for the inspection of my sister’s new condo on Sunday, Danielle and I went to a small family restaurant (with good food) in Shelby Township, then stopped at the little shop next door called Balkan Market. We picked up some pastries and some odd chocolate, and this bottle of Schweppes’ Original Bitter Lemon. It’s rather clearly not labeled for sale in the US, but I figured it’d be worth trying.

The verdict? It is great. It’s excellent. It’s a very nice, light bittery lemon soda with a bit of sweetness to it. It’s not syrupy like Sanbitters and (as suggested by one of the employees) quite good when very cold.

After poking around online I found that bitter lemon is commonly mixed with gin, so after half of the sheep glass was gone I added ice and gin, then stirred. It’s all right with gin, and definitely nicer than gin with the crappy HFCS-based tonics regularly available. I think I prefer the soda by itself, though.

That reminds me, I need to get everything required and make my own tonic water. That’s a project for another night, though.

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I Will Not Vote For Paul Viar

Paul Viar, running for re-election as Shelby Township Treasurer in 2008 voted against the two local pedestrian bridges which make it safe for me to bike westward.

A man named Paul Viar is running for re-election as Shelby Township treasurer this fall, but I will not be voting for him.

Yesterday I received the flier above (click the image or here to make it larger) in the mail asking for my vote. One particular bullet point I noticed is the one circled in magenta, which reads:

He voted against paying $2.7 million for two (rarely used) pedestrian bridges, preferring to use tax money to improve township roads.

Thankfully, against the wishes of Mr. Viar, the bridges across M-53, a multi-lane limited access highway, were built. The existence of these bridges allows me to safely ride my bicycle to points westward. Without them I would have to either ride in 45 MPH – 50 MPH soft shoulder or curbed roads (unsafe, particularly when on the far side of the bridges) or at least four miles out of my way north or south to safe crossing points.

I use these at least a couple times per week. Danielle also uses this bridge whenever she walks to the Humane Society of Macomb to visit the horses.

This article from the Advisor Source elaborates:

The current overpasses contain a 24-inch width for pedestrians to walk on when crossing over the highway. Plans to install mandatory guardrails [required to conform Federal standards to keep vehicles from going over the side of the bridge] along the walkway would have further limited the amount of access for pedestrians and cyclists, forcing them closer to a busy roadway with limited visibility.

“Last year I just became even more aware of how serious this problem was because some of the local high schools, their track teams run over that road. They run right on the road and that’s really dangerous,” Manzella said. “We’ve had several incidents out there and it’s just a very dangerous place to walk or ride a bike.”

Township Supervisor Ralph Maccarone said the large amount of amenities for pedestrians on the west side of the township was a draw for people from throughout the area, making a safe location to cross a necessity.

“We have major developments on both sides of the freeway, and we really wanted to provide some access to the parks and trail system we have out there,” said Maccarone.

While I understand that Mr. Viar is conservative in his spending of the public’s dollars, I feel that safe and equal transportation for citizens using whatever mode they choose (foot, bicycle, car, whatever) is worth paying for, and these bridges go a long ways towards allowing equal use of our road system. Not only have I seen pedestrians and other cyclists on the new bridges, I have also encountered people crossing it in motorized wheelchairs, kids riding up and down the safe approaches, and people just using the bridge to move about without a car. That is, people who couldn’t safely use this corridor before.

Mr. Viar’s claim that he voted against paying $2.7 million is also a bit inflated. While the total cost of the project was $2.7 million, $1,187,500 of the cost was actually paid by MDOT grants. Per these meeting minutes (.DOC file) the township’s portion of the bridge cost was only $1,458,500.

Additionally, Mr. Viar also claims in this flier that he “…established an on-line payment system to make it more convenient for Shelby residents to pay their taxes.” I’m not sure what Mr. Viar’s idea of establishing or convenient is, but outsourcing payments to a company which charges a 3% “convenience charge” does not strike me as particularly inventive or useful. What I would find useful is if the township came up with a facility for paying one’s water and sewer bill online and without undue additional fees. Currently this quarterly bill is the only bill for which I still have to write and mail a check.

For reference, the two bridges can be found at these links on Google Maps, although the currently posted images have them in an unfinished state: 21 Mile · 22 Mile.

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