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Month: December 2013

House Numbers in reCAPTCHA

Earlier today when setting up a new Google Group for planning a CRAMBA event I noticed that Google’s reCAPTCHA service has moved from using just scanned book images (info on how this worked) to using house numbers which I suspect are from Google Street View. I imagine that this works well for them because house numbers are inherently human readable and successfully translating them to integers is likely key to their reverse geocoding efforts.

EDIT: Apparently this is old news. Shows how often I use reCAPTCHA… I first noticed it today.

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Mounting Problems: Garmin Edge 510, OS X, and VMware Fusion

Despite some quirky problems, I’ve been using Garmin Edge devices (first a 500, now a 510) for the last couple of years when cycling in order to track and display various statistics. This has generally worked well, but throughout all of this I’d had one overriding problem which wasn’t serious enough to properly dig into until this past weekend: the unit would not always mount (show up in Finder) when I plugged it into my Mac.

The original problem that I’d had with both the units was that, sometimes, plugging the device into a Mac would result in it not mounting, but unplugging it, waiting a few seconds, and plugging it back in would then work. I was content with this for a while and there was no obvious correlation between when it’d happen and wouldn’t, but a few days ago the Garmin Edge 510 stopped mounting at all. I figured nothing was wrong with the Edge 510 because it would mount perfectly fine on a Windows box, so I began looking at the Mac.

In the end the problem has turned out to be VMware Fusion. While I haven’t proved it, it also seems that the upgrade to Fusion 6.0.2 (from 6.0.1) last week changed the problem from sometimes to always and I could not get the Garmin to mount at all. After some thinking and testing I narrowed it down to only occurring when VMware Fusion was running a virtual machine with a USB controller.

VMware has published knowledge base article 1025256 to help one troubleshoot such issues and find workarounds by including quirks definitions in the VMX files, but none of these recommendations worked for my Edge 510, so I opened a support request (#13413345912). I’ve been emailing back and forth with VMware support and the assigned support person seems to be working on it, so hopefully the information I’ve provided them will lead them to developing a proper fix for it. (If/when I receive a fix I’ll update this post.)

In the mean time I’ll just leave the USB controller disconnected from the VM that I have running most frequently. This allows things to work, and as I rarely use USB passthrough it’s a fair trade.

The software / hardware versions when replicating the issue are as follows:

Apple iMac: iMac11,3, OS X 10.9 (13A603)

Garmin Edge 510: IC: 1792A-020, FCC ID: IPH-02069, firmware 2.80.

VMware Fusion: 6.0.2 (1398658)

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On-One Floater: Traction for Days

This evening I left work a little early to squeeze in a ride at River Bends before it got dark, and this ended up being a great evening. Because of a freshly fallen quarter inch of snow and a few days of below-freezing temperatures the ground was a beautiful white, and clearly visible and ridable half an hour after the sun had set. Riding comfortable along the ridge, sun just below the horizon, looking down at the oxbow lakes (ponds, really) along the Clinton River looking at the leafless grey-brown trees and mottled white forest floor was incredibly beautiful. I would love to have what I saw captured in a photo, but it’d be so difficult that I didn’t bother to try.

Besides just getting out for a ride, one other intention for today is to try out the On-One Floater tires (package photo) that arrived last week. I purchased these hoping for something with a similar knobbiness as a Surly Nate, but a bit cheaper. Last year I’d picked up a Big Fat Larry for the front, moving the original Larry to the rear, and while this was a decent setup it left me wanting for more traction in snow. While the Nate would have been my tire of choice for this, at $128.74 (shipped) for a pair of Floaters they are (per tire) less than half the MSRP of a comparable 120 TPI Nate. Roger picked up a pair of the Floaters earlier this year and was happy with being happy for general trail riding, so I figured I’d give them a go.

Last night I set them up with 20 PSI to seat and stretch the tires to shape, then today I rode them at 11 PSI (rear) and 9 PSI, and I’m really happy with them. At 1460g and 1462g each they added a total of 172g (0.38 pounds) to the bike, which is nothing to be concerned with given the radical increase in traction. The center / transition knobs are about 5.1mm tall on the Floater, versus ~3.15mm – 3.5mm on the Larry / Big Fat Larry, and they have a very square-ish shape as opposed to the Larry’s ramped triangle shape. Width came in at ~3.85″, which is a bit shy of the 4.0″ printed on the sidewall, but still a very acceptable width. On the Mukluk’s 82mm Surly Rolling Darryl rims the furthest-out side knobs are parallel with the sidewall, giving the whole setup a great profile and feeling. Here’s two photos showing tread detail: 12.

Normally with the Larry family tires I’d get a controlled, comfortable bit of slide/drift in corners; something which was very predictable and worked nicely. When on frozen surfaces it’d get a bit weird, and would at times wash out if I pushed a bit too hard. I wasn’t able to make the Floaters behave in the same way, and coupled with the deeper tread I think these will meet my desire for a snow fatbike tire.

Oh, and that monster truck feeling when one first gets a fatbike and rides through rough surfaces with impunity, holding lines that would have been considerably harder on a skinner tire bike? Tonight I had that feeling again while riding the frost heaved Swamp Loop at River Bends. It was rough, bumpy, crunchy, icy, and oh-so-much-fun.

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Avid BB7 Road w/ Black Knobs

Yesterday’s first ride (Strava) on the Salsa Vaya exposed the problem with BB5s that I was most afraid of: weird noises.  Because of the loose pad design, whenever I’d hit a small bump a very audible bell-like “ting” sound could be heard as a pad would rattle against a rotor. Braking briefly would remedy this for a short while, but after not long it’d be back again. The brakes themselves performed much better than I expected, and were a really welcome feel when riding on a drop bar bike, but the noise began to bother me after a while.

I was even able to demonstrate this sound for my friend Roger by picking up the front end of the bike and dropping it gently, where it made the sound over and over again.

Thus it’s a really good thing that last Friday I’d won eBay auction 360797543167, for a set of dark grey Avid BB7 road disc brake calipers with black knobs for $76.85 shipped. This is a OE color not shown on the Avid website and clearly a bike take-off (photo as shipped), as they were missing one set of bolts/washers and didn’t include rotors. The auction claimed like-new, and save for a couple small nicks on the calipers everything is in great shape, and the pads look like new.

As expected setting them up with the existing rotors was extremely simple, and I’m ready to take them out for a ride. I really prefer this darker / monochrome look, as the lighter silver and red knobs doesn’t go well with anything else on the bike. I’d even stuck with the original black bolts to keep the colors as dark as possible. I’m glad I was able to find this set of calipers on eBay, because I believe they are otherwise unavailable in this color scheme.

A couple times while stopping last night I inadvertently locked up the rear wheel, skidding briefly. This makes me understand why many road bikes have 140mm rear rotors, as there really isn’t much stopping power needed on the back of a road bike. I won’t be switching to 140mm rotors, though, as the Vaya frame is post mount and thus can only take 160mm or larger rotors. I’m sure this won’t be a problem, and may even be a benefit if I do some longer / hillier rides, as I tend to drag my rear brake when I’m trying to keep my speed in check.

(Switching to the BB7 brakes even saved eight grams! The BB5s are 172g per caliper w/pads, and the BB7s are 168g w/pads. I’m sure that’ll make a tremendous difference!)

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