tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:/posts phlatphrog's blog 2015-04-11T16:18:24Z Patrick Kelly tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/839367 2015-04-11T16:18:24Z 2015-04-11T16:18:24Z good/long article on bike locks

http://thesweethome.com/reviews/best-bike-lock/

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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/828629 2015-03-23T07:21:46Z 2015-03-30T21:52:33Z the solution to bicycle theft in Hawaii

the solution

I've spent a good number of hours thinking about the problem of bicycle theft. I even built an online bicycle registration service. I've met with people dealing with this issue in the bay area, and the creators of StolenBicycleRegistry.com and BikeIndex.org. After a lot of thought I ended up shutting down my bicycle registry service because I came to understand both how simple the problem is to solve, and how difficult.

"Simple" is not the same as "easy".

Here is what needs to happen to actually make a difference in bicycle theft:

Whenever a person is buying a bicycle, they must first check the serial number against a database of stolen bicycles. If it's stolen, don't buy it.

This is theoretically simple, but a moments contemplation will quickly reveal why this is not easy. It will take a lot of effort to educate all bicycle buyers to do this. The easy part is to create a database that is easily searchable, that everybody can use to register their bike, either before or after it's stolen. There are existing options, but my current favorite choice for that is bikeindex.org. More important than which registration service in particular to use is that one is selected, and that it is easy to use both by the public and law enforcement officers.

The real problem of bicycle theft is that bicycles are in the sweet spot of being easy to steal and easy to sell, with little risk. Some bicycles might be stolen for other reasons, but the purpose of the vast majority of bicycle thefts is to generate cash. 

The best, most effective way to directly combat bicycle theft is to stop buying stolen bicycles.

There are many technical "solutions" (GPS trackers, alarms/detectors + notifiers, crowd-based data gathering with bluetooth) but all of these are expensive and easily defeated, especially if deployed massively. (If every bicycle has a GPS tracker, bicycle thieves will very quickly learn to disable it ASAP.) These technical approaches may help individuals combat bike theft for their own bikes, but will not succeed for all bicycles, and will not make a serious dent in the general problem of bicycle theft.

The current "standard" solution is to have a registration service, oftentimes only accessible to law enforcement, and to rely on police to check the registration status of bicycles. The actual only case where this accomplishes anything is when police confiscate a bunch of obviously stolen bicycles and use the data to return the bicycles.

Bicycle recovery is not the same thing as deterring bicycle theft.

This current standard approach of bicycle registration is useless in deterring theft. It does nothing to dissuade thieves from stealing. It does not increase their risk of being caught. Bicycle registries that are not accessible to the public are worthless in terms of deterring bicycle theft.

what about Hawaii?

Here in Hawaii, we have some factors in our favor:

  1. Stolen bicycles do not cross state lines
  2. Smaller population
  3. Kuleana

Since bikes do not cross state lines, we can implement a solution state-wide, and it cannot be defeated by taking bikes to the next state. Seriously, this is a problem in the mainland.

Having a smaller population, we will have an easier time educating the public. I'm not an expert on public relations, but I expect it boils down to money vs time. The more money we throw at the issue, the faster it gets done. If we don't have a lot of money, it will take longer. But, I believe it is completely possible and doable. I'm imagining a time-line of 1 to 5 years.

We have the concept of kuleana, being responsible individually in order that all of us collectively can have a better life. This is exactly the understanding that is required to get people to do this. Individually, people are better off not checking if a bike is stolen because they can "get a deal" and it's certainly less hassle. But by all of us working together (checking before buying) we can ensure that our own bicycles are less likely to be stolen. The best defense against my bike being stolen is that the potential buyer will not buy it.

Given these factors, and the already available technology (e.g. bikeindex.org) and a little bit of will, I truly believe that Hawaii can quickly become a model of how to stop bicycle theft for the rest of the U.S. It's totally possible.

Final note: I've been wrong before, and I've learned. I've been talking about this approach for a while, and so far I've heard no serious counter arguments, or better proposals. The only reaction I've observed is people changing the subject. I suspect that people believe this approach is too hard to get done, and would rather talk about other "technical" solutions. If there is some problem with this proposal other than "it's too hard", or something that is easier/more effective, I'd love to hear it.

want more?

If you're interested in this and want to contribute, come join the conversation at 

https://groups.google.com/d/forum/btrthi/

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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/816263 2015-02-27T05:54:23Z 2015-03-24T02:43:13Z less is more, and more is lazy (timbuk2 especial tres v. goruck gr1)

"Less is more, and more is lazy" is basically a motto of goruck/Jason McCarthy, the founder of goruck. Another potential title for this post is "42 vs 72", but we'll get to that at the end.

prologue

I recently received a goruck GR1 and my plan is to return my Timbuk2 Especial Tres. The purpose of this post is not so much a review of either, but a comparison of a pair of top-end backpacks, and some observations about "quality".

As a confirmed bag fanatic, I've been on the hunt for the perfect bag for a long time. When I got the Especial Tres, I was convinced that I was finally done. Sadly, not true. Hopefully, now with the GR1, perhaps I'll be able to settle down, at least for a while.

The Especial Tres is an excellent bag. Really. An awesome bag in a lot of ways. It basically checked all my requirements boxes:

  • Good for bicycling
  • Usable for single-bag travel
  • Rain proof
  • Super durable

Basically, I was looking for a single bag that I could use in all conditions and meet all my needs.

What went wrong? The biggest problem is that it's just a little too big to use every day. I also have some niggles that I'll cover later, but the deal killer was that it's too big, so it ended up sitting in the closet. I bought a timbuk2 messenger for everyday carry, and that is an totally excellent bag as well. There are issues there, too, but let's focus on the backpacks for now.

So I found that my dream bag was not working out, and that I was using a different (totally excellent) bag instead, and so the quest resumed. I had been curious about the GR1 before but had ruled it out because it's ridiculously expensive. But I became obsessed. Then I realized that if I return the especial tres, and the messenger (thank you REI for the insane return policy) then I could have a GR1.

overview

At this point, my general summary is

  • the especial tres is a totally excellent bag, perfectly executed, but with an overly complicated design
  • the goruck G1 is a near perfect design with competent execution

Timbuk2 has been making bags for many years. They know what they're doing. They know exactly what is possible and how to get it done right. It's clear that when it came to the especial the approach was "no holding back." They put in everything to make a totally awesome backpack. The fact that it's too big is not their fault, that's my fault. There are smaller bags in the especial line that I could have chosen, but there are other issues that pushed me towards the GR1. But back to execution: there are no flaws in the implementation of the design. Everything is clearly exactly where it should be, and there are no mistakes.

goruck is a new company. Their bag is a lot simpler, and I think it actually makes the bag better. There are issues, and things I would like to see changed (details below) but at this point, given a choice between the especial tres (inferior design, better execution) and the goruck GR1 (better design, inferior execution) the GR1 clearly wins.

I've bought many things highly touted as "made in the USA." Obviously the sales pitch is that "made in the USA" implies better quality than you can get anywhere else. The sad reality, today, is that "made in the USA" does not always mean better quality. In fact, most of the "made in USA" items I've purchased are clearly higher price and lower quality than comparable items from overseas.

I'm not anti-American, by any means. Why do you think I buy more expensive stuff with "made in the USA"? It's just really disappointing to find that this stuff actually does compare poorly to imported goods.

When you put the Timbuk2 bag next to the goruck and look at the details, you can see that the Timbuk2 is perfect. There is not a stitch out of place. There are no errors. The goruck is clearly amazingly designed, but, compared to Timbuk2, you can see that things are not exactly perfect. There are nice touches on the Timbuk2 that goruck does not have, but could.

Which bag is better? The GR1, I think. Which one will last longer? The GR1 for sure. What's wrong with the Timbuk2? Overly complicated design which compromises functionality.

details

Here they are, side by side. Especial Tres on the left, GR1 on the right. They appear to be roughly the same size, but wearing them, the Tres really feels bigger/longer. The GR1 sits higher on my back.

I got the GR1 kit, which included this carabiner.

With the carabiner installed in the molle webbing this way, it's easy to hook something onto it.

I'm not a super patriot, but I do ride a bicycle a lot. I added in the reflective reverse flag for my patch. This is a good example of how goruck sometimes fails to be perfect. You can see here that the lines are not straight on the patch. It's totally functional, and not exactly broken, but it's clearly less than perfect.

Here's the zipper for the front pocket on the GR1. It has a nice overflap to keep rain off the zipper, and goruck's easy to grab and use zipper pull. Check out the next photo from the timbuk2 to see their rubberized zippers. They went a step further to help protect from rain/water. From what I've read online, everybody says that being out in the rain with a GR1 is no problem, but you can see how timbuk2 has just gotten one thing better here.

A very well done rain-proof zipper on the front of the especial tres. You can also see here that timbuk2 has used ripstop cordura, which is a tad lighter than the cordura that goruck uses. goruck's cordura definitely gives the impression of being stronger.

Open the front flap of the especial tres to find some organization stuff. The light blue material is a less weighty nylon material. The nice thing here is that it's not a black hole. You can see what's going on because the material is not all black. This pocket is pretty convenient, but from experience I know the velcro is going to become less and less sticky. Eventually, the flap will be barely held closed at all because the velcro will be dead. I prefer the all zippers all the time strategy of goruck.

This is the entry into the pocket that is in front of the organization pocket on the tres. This is more akin to the slash pocket on the front of the GR1. But you can see that timbuk2 uses the lighter material both to save some weight and to enhance visibility.

This is a nice feature of the tres: detachable waist strap. I think this is actually a valid use of velcro, because your not constantly opening and closing it. The velcro will last here, unlike on the front org pocket.

Here's the waist strap attached.

The belt and the buckle on the waist strap are suitably beefy.

Another view into the org pocket. The velcro makes this quick to get into, but I don't like it because I know it's going to get loose.

You can see here the kind of complexity that timbuk2 can pull off. There's TPU, cordura, rain proof zipper, elastic side pockets, a strap for lights and reflective corners all coming together without anything going wrong. There's a lot of style here, a goodly amount of functionality, but it's not as elegant as GR1. It's much more of a "check out what I can do!"

Elastic side pocket on the especial tres.

Here's the bottom of the two packs. You can see that the timbuk2 is bigger on the bottom. Also, the weird shape is kind of weird. There is a reason it's shaped like this: this way the reflective corners are visible both from behind and from the side. This maximizes exposure of those reflective bits. The downside is that it makes the interior of the bag odd shaped. I might also mention that this fat bottom on the tres makes it stand up pretty well. The GR1 is not really made to stand up by itself.

The back of the especial tres is meant to accomplish a couple things: provide some space for your spine, and help reduce back sweat by providing more airflow. I can attest that it's pretty comfortable. I rode from San Francisco to Santa Cruz with this on my back and did not have any problem. It was lightly loaded, and I did sweat a lot. I expect that if I do any extended riding with the GR1 I'm going to need to remove the laptop from the back pocket so that it can curve more. I also expect that I'll have a much sweatier back than with the tres.

The both have the same sort of attachment strategy for the shoulder straps of using an intermediary webbing strap to provide flexibility. The timbuk2 has some attachment support on the straps, but not nearly as useful as the molle webbing on the GR1 straps.

More detail on the back of the especial tres.

The tres has a nifty small pocket up against your back. Again the rain proof zipper. Pocket could be used for wallet, cell phone, but not much.

Here's the sternum strap on the tres. Nice buckle, and easy to put on or take off because of the snaps.

Heres the snaps on the sternum strap. Works good.

Bottle opener on the timbuk2. Even if I kept this bag, I don't expect I would ever use this.

Here's another nice touch of the tres: a built in strap retainer. You can't see in this shot, but this can be easily detached from the second strap via a gap in the plastic. In order to get strap retention on a GR1 you have to buy an extra doodad.

One of the side pockets on the tres has this extra strap with velcro. I think this is supposed to be for your bicycle U lock, but I never quite figured out how it's supposed to work. Well, I mean it's obvious that you put the U lock behind the strap and into the side pocket, but why the extra velcro?

The tres is a rolltop bag with straps and with velcro. Here again you can see styling over functionality. Do we really need TPU here in addition to the cordura?

The grab strap on the timbuk2 is not bad. Almost OK, even. The grab strap on the GR1 is just excellent.

Yup, GR1 definitely better on this one.

The especial tres has nifty little velcro ears on the strap ends so you can roll up the end and minimize dangle. This is a nice feature.

Here's the strap anti-dangle thingie. Nice. But the thing is, do you really need so many straps on the outside of your bag? There are four straps with this on the tres. These straps just do not exist on the GR1, so no risk of dangle.

More velcro that will become nearly useless over time.

More velcro to die.

Opening up the top of the tres.

Here is one of the practical problems with this design: the pit of despair. It's a long way to the bottom. I thought this would be awesome, having the ability to expand the capacity of the bag, but in daily use, it's more of just making it harder to find things down there.

There is a side zip on one side of the bag to get into the main compartment without having to dive in through the top. Theoretically this solves the problem, but I never actually used it.

Here's another example of timbuk2 doing stuff really well. A zipper garage for the side zip. Of course on the GR1, there are only two external zippers and they're both covered end to end, so no need for a garage.

timbuk2 zipper garage.

The tres has a couple expansion zippers on the sides as well. As if it weren't quite big enough yet. There are also a couple compressions straps. You'd think these would be a good thing, but because of the position, they're pretty useless. I would have preferred to have compression nearer the bottom of the bag in order try and keep stuff more evenly spread. These basically only serve to compress the empty space at the top of the bag because everything went to the bottom.

Expansion zipper and compression straps, especial tres.

Expansion zip on the other side.

There are a couple of elastic straps on the should straps of the tres. These would be perfect for a bladder hose. The problem is that because it's a rolltop, there is no way to use a water bladder. I don't understand why these are here.

Here's some molle on the side of the GR1. The extra strap came with the kit. I put it on here as a possible attachment point for some kind of waist belt. Those little buggers are hard to get on there, BTW.

There's the carabiner again. Plenty of ways to attach reflective straps, blinky lights, or accessory pockets. I might even say that another row of molle would be a good thing. Actually, what I would like to see is more side molle, but up higher. It could be used either for compression or for attaching secondary items, like a sleeping bag.

The front slash pocket. To me, this pocket really demonstrates goruck's attention to design. On most packs this pocket would just be the space between a couple layers of fabric, with a zipper on the top. You can sort of see from this photo that this is not just the space between two pieces, but there is a extra layer of cordura in there, whose only purpose is to create this pocket. If you stick your hand down in there, you'll find the bottom of the pocket to be a fold in the pocket fabric, not just a stitched bottom. A lot of folks complain about there not being enough capacity in this pocket. To me it's clearly a "flat things" pocket. I like this pocket. To make it even better, I could see this being lined with TPU, ala a messenger bag, rather than with cordura. At the least it should be lined with a lighter color, not black.

Heres I'm indicating where the bottom of the slash pocket is. It does not go all the way to the floor of the bag. This is a good thing.

goruck likes patches on everything. :) I feel this is an appropriate use of velcro. It's not open, close, open, close all day. Patches change in frequently and there's not so much risk of the velcro dying here.

The padded laptop compartment. Here again I want to point out that the inside of this pocket got an extra layer of cordura. It's not just the back of the other compartment. You can see the stitching in here from the molle webbing on the other side, but there's more than just a single piece of fabric in there.

Here's the suspender for the water bladder in the laptop/hydration compartment. I have a field pocket on the other side, and I figured that if I do actually use the hydration bladder, I'll be putting it in this side.

The goruck solution to dangling is a separate product. It works fine, and can be moved/repurposed, but I suspect this is a case where timbuk2 did the right thing.

Here's the attachment point for the sternum strap. I've seen pix of this done incorrectly. This is the correct way to mount this.

Here's one of those web dominator things, incorrectly mounted.

I was really disappointed with the sternum strap included with the goruck GR1 kit, so I'm playing around with mounting straps I found in my bag bag.

The included sternum strap was just not satisfactory. The spring action of the clip was way too soft. It felt too squishy to me. I'm pretty sure that it would function just as well, and if I ever had a problem, I could get it covered by goruck if it failed, but I don't want to be feeling this squishy thing all the time. The strap itself is pretty tough, almost too tough even. It's a bit of a mismatch.

Here's a shot of some of the heavy duty stitching on the GR1. This thing is solid. In general the timbuk2 gives the impression of better-than-most build quality, the same as all timbuk2 products I've dealt with. The GR1 gives the impression of overt-the-top toughness.

Heavy duty. That is not coming apart.

Here's an example of where the "simple" GR1 design wins over the tres. The zipper goes all the way around. You can open the top, or a side, or the other side, or all the way open and flat. The rolltop design of the tres has benefits (rain proof, expandability) but ends up creating more day-to-day inconvenience that I'm really happy with.

Here's getting into the bottom of the bag without having to dive from the top.

Here's getting into the other side. 

Here's opening just the top to get to the internal pocket.

Open the top a little bit more and you can get to the second internal built-in pocket. For myself, I didn't think that the 3 built in pockets would provide enough organization, so I also purchased the GR1 Field Pocket, which I've mounted on the internal molle.

Opening the field pocket from the top, I can get to three additional pockets (two zippered and one with elastic top). If I start with everything closed, it can take three unzips to get to what I want (open the GR1, open the field pocket, open the final pocket), but I know where it is. One big advantage of this system is that almost all my little bits are at the top of the bag. There is no digging to find stuff because everything is within 6 inches of the top of the bag.

Here's the bag opened all the way. Some reviewers have complained that they have to lay the bag down and open it in order to get stuff. I don't buy it. From my experience, the only time i open it like this is if I'm doing a full bag emptying or packing. In use I'm mostly just opening the top. Sometime I'll open the side to get something from the bottom (like my glasses case). Basically I don't often use this "feature" but when you want it all the way open, it totally works.

Here's the two internal pockets built into the GR1. The netting pocket there is parallel to the slash pocket on the outside, but can more easily hold bulky stuff. I only put flat things into the front slash pocket. Obviously here you can see whats in the big internal pocket. The standard is to use it for cables and misc junk that you don't want getting tangled or lost in the main compartment. The top internal pocket (on the left in this photo) is the "go to" pocket for you're frequently accessed small things. For myself I keep most of my small things in the field pocket rather than in this pocket. I have my pepper grinder and flash light in it, currently.

Here's the field pocket mounted inside. I mounted it to the side so that I'd have more room on the side. The other option is to mount it in the middle, and have a bit of space on either side. I have not opted to attach a patch here.

Here's the field pocket fully open. I don't usually open it like this. I've only done it here for the photo. The middle space is usable and another "pocket" if you remember not to open it all the way. I keep my camera right there. (Currently in my hand in this photo.) I stuck a couple mini-carabiners in the two molle spaces to the right of the field pocket.

This field pocket is another example of the "more is less and less is lazy" philosophy. With this field pocket there is lots of organization options, but nobody is telling me "your pens go here. your phone goes here." How I want to organize is up to me. I even have the option to not attach this pocket, so I could use it to store stuff that I'd take with me and leave the backpack behind.

Internally mounted carabiners with some junk that I don't want to bother keeping on my keychain in my pants pocket.

I ordered the kit which came with hydration bladder and suspender. By skipping a single loop in the field pocket mounting I was able to also mount the suspender. I haven't used it yet, but I expect that I'll put the bladder in the pocket next to my back.

Build/design quality shows here. The bottom has extra layers. Every possibly exposed bit that might fray is taped. There are no loose ends anywhere.

Here's a place where I think goruck could have gone one more step. Everywhere else in the bag, there are multiple layers. On the sides and top (in contrast to the front and back and a lot of the pockets) there is just a single layer of cordura. What I'd love to see on the sides and top is TPU, or maybe even just a layer of thinner nylon fabric. In either case, having something non-black would be good.

Here you can see light through the single layer of cordura on the side and top. I haven't tested it, but This is where I fear rain will get thru.

Very well done zipper attachment and edge cover.

No loose ends. Well done.

Good and bad here. The pockets are built rather than just being places where gaps happen to exist. But then the side is just a single layer or cordura.

Here's the inside of the top internal pocket of the GR1. It's built with it's own layer of cordura, rather than just being the back of the outside of the bag. It's good. It could be better if they used a non-black so that there was more visibility in here.

This is inside the hydration/lap top pocket on the back. Again, they added layers here, which is good. There's also a bit of padding between this compartment and the main compartment of the bag. This protects the laptop from stuff in the main compartment. I never liked using a laptop sleeve, so I really like the way this is done. One of the problems I had with my timbuk2 messenger was that there was no padding anywhere to protect my laptop, which now has several dents in the back.

I don't know what this diagonal strap is for. It looks good to me. I assume there was some structural issue that this addresses, but I don't know what.

Here's a spot where the lack of experience of goruck shows compared to timbuk2. It's not as obvious in the photo as in person, but the left corner and right corner don't exactly match. The folds are not quite right. Also, towards the left you can see a couple wrinkles. That's where the seamster is fighting to get everything together properly, and almost making it. My take on this is that goruck is attempting to make a bag that is on the edge of their abilities. Timbuk2 has the experience to not attempt to do something so difficult. (There is a lot of very heavy material in this area.)

Is this a problem? No. Really, it has absolutely no affect on the usability or durability of the bag. It's just that you can see that it's not quite perfect. I expect something like this would have been failed by Q/A at timbuk2. But when you're paying American wages, and you're dealing with so much smaller volumes, it costs too much to reject something like this. I expect that as goruck gains experience, issues like this will go away. Hopefully they can maintain their "made in the USA" without having to raise prices while they improve. We'll see. I really hope they can do it. I want my forever warrantee to actually be worth something.

Time for the "how many beers" test. Three cans fit into the GR1 field pocket

Here's the bag fully packed. I might have been able to squeeze another one in. I don't know if maybe there was a more efficient layout.

I got 42 cans in there. Like I say, maybe it's possible to get one or two more in there. When I did this with the especial tres, I got a max of 72 cans in. That was with all the expansion options engaged, and I had run out of cans. The especial tres held 56 cans in "standard" mode. Clearly the tres wins the "how many beers" test, but that may not even be a good thing. Anyway, if want you want is capacity, get a GR2, not a GR1.

conclusion

One of the biggest issues that drove me to the tres in the first place was the desire to have a rain proof bag. I have not yet tested the GR1 in the rain (or facsimile) but from what I've read, it does fine. The GR1 was designed for goruck events, which include full immersion. I doubt that even the tres would keep all water out during that. goruck's real answer to the problem of keeping stuff dry is to use a dry bag or pelican case inside your GR1. That is, they recognized that they could not do a 100% solution to water in their scenarios, so they do not compromise the fundamental design. I'm planning to get a rain cover for my GR1.

Another issue is that I wanted a "do everything" bag, and got something that was a little too big for every day. So I got another bag, which was awesome, but not quite enough for every day. (It was awesome for 80% of the days.)

I could totally accept that for some people, the especial tres would be the better choice. With a slightly different set of needs (like actually spending more time in the rain than I do) and expectations, the tres would win over the GR1. Also, considering the level of detail and complexity, it would be easy to see the tres costing more than the GR1. I suspect that if the tres were built in the USA, it would cost more than the GR1, and be unsellable at that price.

For me, the goruck GR1 is the winner. The especial tres is an amazingly put together, top quality bag, with a lot of capacity. The goruck suffers from imperfect execution and some places where things could be improved. But the GR1 design is fundamentally more useful, more flexible, and definitely feels like it's going to hold together longer. I think it boils down to "less is more and more is lazy" wins over "we have the experience to solve any problem". The especial tres is an impressive collection of well executed solutions to problems that the GR1 either doesn't have, or chooses to ignore for the sake of usability, or leaves open for the owner to solve. I do think that goruck could learn some things from timbuk2, but I'm glad that they took a fresh, raw approach.

One weird thing is that the GR1 wants to be abused. I want to see how much it can take. I'd like to throw it in the ocean, fill it with sand and drag it in the mud. Somehow that doesn't sound like as much fun with the especial tres.

Can't get the photos to link properly, so here's the whole flickr set:

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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/775545 2014-11-26T21:38:23Z 2014-11-26T21:38:44Z all that to send me direct messages?

HBO seems to need a lot of permissions to just send me direct messages. Couldn't they have just created a twitter account for me to follow, and then send me direct messages?

I changed my mind and went for the SMS option.

https://www.threeeyedraven.com/

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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/768396 2014-11-12T02:24:00Z 2014-11-12T02:37:05Z actually a really interesting conversation with Jon Stewart

Wherein Jon talks about the movie Rosewater and his show and life and many things. There are a couple slow bits, but it pays to watch all the way to the end. I'm gonna watch that movie, one way or another.

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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/750987 2014-10-05T02:30:28Z 2014-10-05T02:35:07Z the bicycle security solution

A very common problem facing cyclists is "How do I keep my bike from being stolen?" The standard answer is "Buy a really, really good lock. And then another one for the front wheel." It's not enough to lock your frame, or your frame and one wheel, because the other wheel will get stolen.

The problem is that there is no such thing as an invincible bicycle lock. If one lock can be defeated, then two can. If your lock is tougher than the bike rack it's locked to, the rack (or fence, or whatever) can be defeated.

What other solutions are there?

  1. Make your bike not worth stealing.
  2. Make sure your bicycle will be recovered, if stolen.

There are many ways to do #1, including uglifying, but the best I've seen is to make the lock integral to the bicycle. If the lock is defeated, the bicycle is broken. The best example of this is the Denny urban bicycle. Its lock is the handlebars. The problem in this case is that the handlebar is replaceable. I also saw an example where the lock was the frame itself. The top tube had a hinge and a lock.

For #2, the right solution, I believe, is to make sure that every person buying a bicycle checks the serial number via stolen.bikeindex.org, but it's hard to get everybody to do something that is inconvenient, even if it is to their own benefit in the long run. Another thing going on these days is the bluetooth tag tracking systems. Examples include TheTileApp and Trackr.

The biggest hole in the bluetooth tracking solution is it requires massive buy-in. It requires many people running the app in their phones so that the chances of your tracker being found is higher. Clearly this market will see either some kind of cooperation between vendors, or a last-man-standing end game, where whoever has the bigger network wins. In any case, it looks like this is going to fly. We just don't know yet who is going to be around in 5 years. I believe this hole is closing, it's just a matter of time.

Another problem is robustness and battery life. These tracker things are not primarily designed to be attached to things that get dirty and wet and live outside most of the time. Both have a 1 year battery life. I'm afraid they're not going to be reliable enough for long term bicycle protection. By the time your bicycle is stolen, the thing may be dead, either by the battery running out, or abuse, or it may have fallen off and you never noticed. 

Also, they can easily be removed from a bicycle. Once thieves catch on that these things are around, they can quickly check over the bike, find, and remove any tracking devices attaches with a sticker, or other creative attachment methods. 

Let's step back to #2, for a minute.

I'm a big, big fan of locking skewers. The two I know of are pinhead locks and pit lock. My theory is that if a bicycle with locking skewers is stolen, the end buyer will realize that the bicycle is stolen when they get their first flat, or need to do any maintenance. When they discover they can't get the wheels off, that little lightbulb in their head will go off notifying them that they're a victim of fraud. I'm always in favor of locking skewers and recommend it as part of any bicycle security solution, but today I want draw attention to pinhead's headset lock (pitlock also has a headset lock).

At first being able to lock your headset may seem like a pretty minor worry, on scale with being able to lock your saddle, and certainly not going to prevent your bicycle from being stolen. But consider being able to lock your headset in conjunction with these headset spacer headlights:

  1. Sparse Bicycle Lights
  2. Fortified: Bike Lights
  3. Blink / Steady

What these have in common is that these can be secured to a bicycle with pinhead's headset lock.

Here is the solution to the bicycle security problem:

Bluetooth tracker + headset spacer headlight + headset lock
  1. The bluetooth tracker needs to be integrated into a headlight that is built for living on a bicycle. 
  2. The user needs to notice if/when the device stops working (either from battery issue, or any other issue).
  3. The device should be designed so that the only way to deactivate it or remove it (other than properly) will render it ugly and obviously tampered.

I hope that this happens. Here's what I'd really like to see:

  1. Multiple vendors selling headset spacer lights with integrated bluetooth tracking
  2. Cooperation between the sellers of these devices, and with all other bluetooth tracker devices
  3. More options in headset locks

It's conceivable that having a bluetooth trackable device securely, and obviously, attached to your bicycle would be more of a theft deterrent than the best bicycle lock money could buy. 

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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/742587 2014-09-17T03:48:21Z 2014-09-17T03:48:21Z neil de grasse tyson vs the consolation of philosophy

I recently watched a somewhat interesting video of a discussion between Neil deGrasse Tyson and Richard Dawkins, ostensibly on "The Poetry of Science", but they weren't actually overly poetic. There were some bits of emotional impact, but Tyson has done better in other talks.

Here's the video:

I was kind of disapointed by Tyson's response to the last question from the audience (at 1:12:18). The young man introduced the issues raised in "The Consolation of Philosophy" and challenged Tyson and Dawkins to respond. It wasn't actually a question, but basically he presented the scenario "You're going to die tomorrow. How do you, using only your ability to reason, reconcile yourself to your fate?" For a couple seconds the two men on stage check each other to see who's going to take the "question", then Tyson answers with

I would request that my body, in death, be buried, not cremated. So that the energy content, contained within it, gets returned to the earth, so that flora and fauna can dine upon it, just as I have dined on flora and fauna throughout my life.

Whereupon there is much applause, and they wrap up, and head off to the book signing.

The questioner did not mention life after death, or any "religious" keywords, but he certainly seemed like a person who was attempting to point out the need for faith. When I heard the question, my feeling was that he was attempting to say something like the following, except without explicitly saying anything about heaven, or life after death.

You're going to die tomorrow. With only science, and reason, how do you reconcile yourself to death? Without faith, and some belief in a next life, how do you not despair in the face of death?

Clearly, I'm putting words in his mouth, but my sense is that this is what he was pushing for. You can view the video and judge for yourself.

In any case, here's what I wanted to hear Tyson say:

I am reconciled to my own death. I do not fear it, or at least I like to believe that I do not fear death. Fear of death is driven by ego, and I am forced to accept humility when confronted by the cosmos. The universe was here before me, and will go on without me. I am thankful that I have been able to live in this world, to learn, and experience my life. My life has been good. Not as good as some lives, but far better than many. Today I enjoy the privilege of being well respected. In this room are a couple hundred people who came to listen to me and my friend chat for an hour. I am a slightly bigger than average frog in a puddle in a very, very, very large world. But I know that in a hundred years, less than a microsecond on the cosmic scale, I will be forgotten, my lifetime contributions to humanity will likely be less than a footnote. I understand that science, like evolution, is built on a very long chain of tiny, tiny steps forward. Hopefully I add something useful to that chain. Maybe not. My additions will be forgotten in time. But I am thankful. I am thankful that I was able to be here, briefly, and try to contribute, in a small way, and to experience this vast, amazing and beautiful universe. I try to devote my life to learning and appreciating the wonder and beauty that is here, and I attempt to share that with my brothers and sisters here on our little blue ball. That is enough for me.

Or something like that. :)

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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/741113 2014-09-13T21:09:18Z 2014-09-13T21:09:18Z the birth of modern mountain biking

http://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/the-hippie-daredevils-who-were-just-crazy-enough-to-invent-mountain-biking/

That article includes a photo of Gary Fisher’s modified 1940s Schwinn, which reminds me of the Trek Gary Fish Sawyer 29er. I test rode one, back when they were actually for sale, and bought a Cobia instead. Now I wish I'd gotten the Sawyer, but at the time I just didn't grok it.

http://mmbhof.org/


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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/739760 2014-09-11T02:33:00Z 2014-09-11T02:33:08Z wealth is a claim on future production

"[W]hat we call "wealth" is a claim upon future production, future economic output. If our view of future economic output is incorrect, if it doesn't take place, then that wealth is a mirage."


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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/738873 2014-09-10T05:03:01Z 2014-09-10T05:03:02Z "training for long distance cycle touring" - brilliant

http://tomsbiketrip.com/how-to-train-for-long-distance-cycle-touring/

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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/736208 2014-09-07T01:00:03Z 2014-09-07T01:00:03Z using stickers to share stuff

http://blogs.bicycling.com/blogs/thehub/go-ahead-take-my-bike

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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/737487 2014-09-06T22:16:33Z 2014-09-06T22:16:33Z awesome vid of robin williams on stage with sheryl crow

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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/729715 2014-08-20T04:37:51Z 2014-08-20T04:37:51Z federal web services rock

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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/727756 2014-08-15T07:56:27Z 2014-08-15T07:56:28Z how to kill sean bean

Here's a thing that needs to happen. We need a television series starring Sean Bean where his character is (apparently) killed every episode, and every episode ends with a dramatic death scene. Of course, at the start of every next episode he is recovered, and we can learn how he actually survived.

To make things more interesting, the time line could be totally mixed up, so the episodes are not actually chronological. And it will be known that he does actually die one of the times, but we have to wait until the last episode of the season to find out for sure exactly which of the death scenes really did kill him.

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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/727238 2014-08-14T11:10:57Z 2014-08-14T11:23:30Z how to lock up a bicycle

I recently wrote about the one true bike lock, but I didn't explain how to use it. Here is the post about how to use that lock.

TL;DR

  1. Use locking skewers for your wheels, and 
  2. use your U lock around the rear wheel, inside the rear triangle

Where to put your U lock

where to put your U lock

the U lock position

This method of locking a bicycle with a U lock around the rear wheel is known as The Sheldon Brown Lock Strategy. It's a little bit counter-intuitive. When you first hear/read this, it seems like a thief would be able to just detach the rear wheel and walk away with the bike. But the reality is that the thief would have to pull the rear triangle over the wheel, which is impossible without either destroying the wheel or wrecking the bicycle frame. Compare the diameter of the wheel to the size of the rear triangle, and you'll see it.

This position has the double advantage of securing the rear wheel and the frame while allowing use of the smallest U lock.

It is true that it is far, far easier to saw thru the rear wheel than to saw thru either the U lock or the frame. The fact is, though, that the rear wheel is generally the most valuable piece of the bike, after the frame. To destroy the rear wheel in order to steal the bike is very nearly a waste of time and effort. Thieves don't do it. If this changes, if thieves do start cutting wheels in order to steal what's left, then we'll revise this advice. Until then, this lock position is widely recognized as the best way to use a U lock.

locking skewers

I assert that locking skewers are a far better thing than a cable, or even a second U lock.

Commonly, people use a cable, attached to the U lock, to secure the front wheel. Or even, they may use a second U lock to secure the front wheel. I say that you're more likely to have a bicycle stolen (or stolen and never recovered) with either of those than if you use locking skewers.

In order to understand this, you have to realize that the purpose of all these things we do to "lock" our bike are really just deterrents. Mostly people want to buy locks to be 100% sure that the bike will not be stolen. They are looking to make the bike theft-proof, and it seems that, for instance, a second U lock on the front wheel will stop a thief stealing the bike better than having a locking skewer. That is to say, most people think that making the bike harder to steal is the one and only goal.

The major flaw in this reasoning is that once you've got one quality U lock on your bike, adding a second U lock only makes your bike twice as hard to steal. If your bike is being stolen by someone who can defeat one U lock, don't you think they can defeat two? If it takes them 10 minutes to get thru one, it'll probably take 20 minutes to get thru two.

The reason that people use a second U lock is that a cable is ridiculously easy to defeat. Putting a cable around the front wheel is definitely more secure than a quick-release skewer (the standard attachment method), but that's not really saying much. A cable is pretty much a token effort to not lose a front wheel.

Let's take a step back. The reality is that bikes are generally stolen so that they can be sold. There is an entire branch of bicycle security devoted to uglifying your bicycle in order to deter theft. By making a bicycle hard to sell, you deter thieves from stealing it in the first place. 

The beauty of locking skewers boils down to this: locking skewers

  1. are better than a cable in preventing wheels being removed from a bike,
  2. are lighter and less hassle than a second U lock or a cable for locking up,
  3. communicate to purchasers of the bicycle that perhaps it is stolen (when the thief cannot produce the key),
  4. and deter theft because of #3.

Locking skewers provide a completely separate vector of theft deterrence than just anther external lock. Once a thief has defeated both of your U locks, which he can do if he can defeat one, there is no clue that the bike was stolen. With locking skewers, when the thief attempts to sell the bike, he will be asked for the key. A bike with locking skewers is harder to sell than one without. A bike that is harder to sell is one less likely to be stolen. Assuming a thief does steal the bike and the buyer fails to notice the locking skewers during the sale, they will eventually understand that there was something "off" about the deal they got when they learn they don't have the key. Hopefully this will inspire them to seek out the original owner (you) and return the bike.


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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/726659 2014-08-13T06:35:49Z 2014-08-13T06:38:43Z small kine scare

Just had a bit of a scare coming down Makakilo. I'm trying out the tires that came with my muirwoods. As I was coming to the light next to malama market the light turned yellow. No problem. I've stopped there many a time when the light changed like that. It got exciting about 1 second later when I learned that these tires do not stick as well as my regular tires. The back tire was slipping.

I realized that I was going to end up on the middle of the intersection. There was nobody there but it still seemed like a bad idea.

I quickly made an executive decision to turn right. I immediately executed. I turned and easily stopped on the side road, it being slightly uphill.

I now have a greater appreciation of my schwalbe mondials. I didn't realize before how much better they are than "average" tires.

It also reinforces the fact that most rim vs disk brake discussions often miss out on more important factors, like does it make any difference at all if your tires give up braking before your brakes?

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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/725447 2014-08-10T09:02:38Z 2014-08-10T09:02:39Z "pocket full of money"

This dumb "pocket full of money" thing came up in my tumblr feed.

The only time you will witness this phenomenon in your life.

This year, the month of August will count 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, and 5 Sundays. This phenomenon occurs only once every 823 years. Chinese people call it: 'Pocketful of money!'

blah blah reblog blah send this to all your friends blah

This happens way, WAY more often than every 823 years. Here is the list of Friday, August 1sts from 1900 to 2100. The last time was in 2008 and the next time (after this year) will be 2025.

irb(main):007:0> (1900..2100).collect { |y| Date.new(y,8,1) }.reject {|d| not d.friday?}
[
    [ 0] Fri, 01 Aug 1902,
    [ 1] Fri, 01 Aug 1913,
    [ 2] Fri, 01 Aug 1919,
    [ 3] Fri, 01 Aug 1924,
    [ 4] Fri, 01 Aug 1930,
    [ 5] Fri, 01 Aug 1941,
    [ 6] Fri, 01 Aug 1947,
    [ 7] Fri, 01 Aug 1952,
    [ 8] Fri, 01 Aug 1958,
    [ 9] Fri, 01 Aug 1969,
    [10] Fri, 01 Aug 1975,
    [11] Fri, 01 Aug 1980,
    [12] Fri, 01 Aug 1986,
    [13] Fri, 01 Aug 1997,
    [14] Fri, 01 Aug 2003,
    [15] Fri, 01 Aug 2008,
    [16] Fri, 01 Aug 2014,
    [17] Fri, 01 Aug 2025,
    [18] Fri, 01 Aug 2031,
    [19] Fri, 01 Aug 2036,
    [20] Fri, 01 Aug 2042,
    [21] Fri, 01 Aug 2053,
    [22] Fri, 01 Aug 2059,
    [23] Fri, 01 Aug 2064,
    [24] Fri, 01 Aug 2070,
    [25] Fri, 01 Aug 2081,
    [26] Fri, 01 Aug 2087,
    [27] Fri, 01 Aug 2092,
    [28] Fri, 01 Aug 2098
]


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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/724920 2014-08-09T23:18:28Z 2014-09-08T16:17:34Z the one true bike lock

The one, the best, the u-lock that I most highly recommend is the Abus Granit Futura 64, aka U-Lock 64/120HB150.

abus granit futura u lock

It’s small, it’s light, it’s extra hardened. It’s rated by the manufacturer as more secure that some of their other (heavier) u-locks.

Advantages/features of this lock:

  • small & light
  • locks both sides of the U rather than just one end
  • keyhole covered, keeps out crud
  • stronger/harder steel than other, heavier locks

Disadvantages/drawbacks:

  • no good bicycle mounting option
  • sometimes too small
  • not as secure as top-end u-locks
  • more expensive than less-good locks

Here are the trade-offs between smaller and bigger u-locks:

smaller               bigger
lighter               heavier
less convenient       more convenient
more secure           less secure

When locking with a u-lock, you want a snug lock-up. Longer u-locks may be more convenient, but they’re much easier to break with a leverage attack (pipe thru the lock, twisting). The Futura 64 sometimes is too narrow to fit around some thicker objects like parking meters, but I’ve never been in a situation where I couldn’t find something to lock to.

I would call this a “high-end” lock, but it’s not tip-top. If you live in a seriously theft-prone area, maybe you need a Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini Lock. (I don’t know if there is anything else as burly as that.) But for the vast majority of cyclists, the Fahgettaboudit is overkill. To my mind, the Granit Futura 64 is the sweet spot in terms of security per dollar, and security per pound.

second choice

My second choice option is the Kryptonite Evolution Mini 5. This is very similarly sized to the Abus, above, but is a little wider, increasing lockup options. The Mini 5 lock does have a very good bicycle mounting system included. The downsides are that the Kryptonite is heavier than the Abus, and locks on one side of the U with a bent foot on the other side. Theoretically, this makes it less secure than the Abus.

I don't really have any way to judge which of these has the stronger steel, but from what I've read online, it sounds like the Abus has better quality steel. Will it make any real difference? I don't know.

other options

Really, the difference between these higher quality u locks is probably not really significant to make a difference in your bike being stolen. There are other similar options from other brands which are probably just as good, for about the same price.

The important thing is to not buy a cheap u lock. Every brand has a range of u locks available (including Abus and Kryptonite). Deciding which u lock to buy based on brand is the biggest, easiest mistake to make. You really need to be looking for the most secure lock you can stand to take with you (having a smaller lock helps on this), and that you can afford. Buying a $25 u lock is probably a waste of money.

additional info

http://urbanvelo.org/abus-granit-futura-mini-u-lock/

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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/720480 2014-07-30T00:10:42Z 2014-07-30T00:10:42Z watched

on the plane yesterday

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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/719142 2014-07-27T06:11:21Z 2014-07-27T06:11:22Z remember aaron

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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/718798 2014-07-25T23:15:07Z 2014-07-25T23:15:07Z i found the magic chicken
After flailing all day trying to get ruby 1.9.3-p385 installed on my os x 10.9.4 machine, and trying many, many suggestions, this finally worked for me:

> CFLAGS=-Wno-error=shorten-64-to-32 rbenv install 1.9.3-p385

To make things more complicated, I previously had fink and macports installed, and wanted to switch to brew, exclusively. You can see from the above that I'm using rbenv, and not rvm.

Other things involved using brew to install readline and openssl and gcc42, but none of those actually fixed the problem.
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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/718093 2014-07-24T14:46:16Z 2014-07-24T14:46:16Z "a dramatic reversal"

In this story there is this line:

President Barack Obama is paying a political price at home, with 55 percent of Americans polled by Pew now disapproving of his handling of foreign affairs -- a dramatic reversal from 2009, when his approval rating was 56 percent.

Say what? Since when is a change from 56% to 55% a "dramatic reversal"? How does this kind of writing even get published?


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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/715426 2014-07-18T04:52:40Z 2014-07-18T04:55:44Z old wheel, new wheel

old wheel

That's what's left of the old wheel.

new wheel

new wheel

That's the new wheel.

Yesterday evening, I was on my way to dinner. I stopped at a red light right behind a vespa-type scooter, at the corner of 15th and Mission. The light turned green, and I was watching the scooter in front of me so as to not run into it. Then I turned left onto Mission.

As I was turning, I saw out of the corner of my eye, a car heading right for me. Next thing, I was on the ground in the middle of the intersection. I was unhurt, not even really bruised or scraped. I've had worse accidents all by myself. When I got up, I saw that the car was a police car. Oops.

The important fact that I had missed was that 15th street is a one way street. I was in the left side of the right hand lane, thinking that the left lane was for oncoming traffic. While we were stopped at the light, there was nobody in the left lane. I was turning left from the right lane across traffic coming up behind me. The whole encounter was totally my fault.

The cops asked if I was ok, and I said yes, and we all moved over to the side of the road. They had to call in other police officers and report the accident. I think one pair of officers came and went, then another pair arrived and stuck around. They took my ID and checked it out. Finally, an "investigator" showed up, and chatted with the other officers.

He came over to me, and asked "You're alright?"

Me: "Yes"

Him: "Any damage to you or the bike?"

Me: "Nope"

Him: "You know I'm not trying to coerce you or anything, just asking"

Me: "Yup"

So, this nice investigator fellow declared that this was not an accident since nobody was hurt and there was no damage to either the police car or my bike.

I was happy because this meant I did not have to deal with any fallout from an "accident". I got the impression that the officer driving the cop car was happy as well to not be involved in an "accident".

"Let's just call the whole thing off!"

I think it took at a 1/2 hour, maybe 3/4 of an hour for all that. A lot of standing around waiting for cops to come and go.

So....

I hadn't actually really inspected my bicycle. I mean it seemed fine to me when I moved from the middle of the intersection to the side of the road. What I discovered as I was leaving was that my rear wheel was way out of whack. "Out of true" for the bike geeks. So much that the tire would rub against the seat stay and then the chain stay as it went round. I wasn't in the mood to ride right then, so it wasn't a huge deal. I figured I'd take it to a shop and get it trued the next day.

I had dinner and did manage to ride the bike back to my airbnb (not very far). It was not a stable ride. It was surprising to me that the back wheel being out of true could make it feel like the steering was whacked up as well.

So tomorrow (today) comes around. I know that the local bike shop opens at 11am, so I take off for an early lunch from work at about 10:40am. I go get the bike from the airbnb, go the one block to the shop and take it in. The guy at the shop takes a look and is like "I don't think I can fix this. Even if I can, it's probably not going to stay true. You'd better get a new wheel." You might be thinking that he's just saying that so he can sell me a wheel. The thing is they don't have one (the right size/kind) for me.

I talk him into trying to true it for me so that I can ride for the next week or so. $25 to have a working bike for another week seems like a bargain to me. He doesn't want to charge me, cuz he doesn't think it's gonna stick. Anyway, we agree that I'll come back in 20 minutes and he'll see what he can do.

I go grab a sandwich and come back 30 minutes later. He takes it off the stand and says "No go. I can't fix this." And he will not charge me.

I highly recommend Box Dog Bikes. They are good people there.

Next step: Where else can I get service for a bicycle? REI. 

I ride over to REI (going slowly and very carefully since my bike is totally wobbly). The nice fellow at REI takes the bike back into the shop and comes back a few minutes later: "I don't think I can save that wheel." Not unexpected, but good to confirm that the guy at Box Dog wasn't wrong. In some ways, anyway.

Me: "You have a wheel I can buy to replace it?"

Him: "Let me look."

This time he takes longer than examining my wheel. Eventually he comes back with three options and lays them on the table. I very quickly decide on the cheapest option for $100. He says it's a solid, strong wheel, and at the moment, that's the kind of wheel I like.

After he got my old wheel off, I took it and (with a wire cutter he loaned me) cut all the spokes to remove the hub. (I figure I might be able to use it to build a new wheel someday.) I didn't get a photo of the rim, but after I had taken all the spokes out, it was completely obvious that it was never going to be true again. It was really wonky.

I think the police car bumped into my rear wheel and that's what put me down on the ground. The good news is that only the bike was harmed, and I was fine. The worst thing of all this is that my very first bicycle/automobile encounter was with a cop car.

Riding back to the office on a bike that did not wobble was very, very pleasant. I think I got back at about 1:30pm.

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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/709746 2014-07-02T00:50:54Z 2014-07-02T00:50:54Z ice age units

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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/709725 2014-07-01T23:14:26Z 2014-07-01T23:18:10Z going to the post office

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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/709724 2014-07-01T23:03:43Z 2014-07-01T23:03:43Z note to self

Always, always take a roll of packing tape when taking a parcel to the post office. You're gonna need to re-tape, or re-package something.

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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/708957 2014-06-30T07:33:44Z 2014-06-30T07:33:45Z 72 cans of "beer" in the bag

One popular method to measure the capacity of a bag (backpack or messenger style) among cyclists is "how many beers?" For instance, here's a roundup of bags that hold at least 24 beers.

I recently acquired a Timbuk2 Especial Tres (2014 edition) and was curious about its capacity. It's officially a 40L bag, but it's not clear if this is before or after expansion, or pushing its limits. Today's test doesn't really answer the "How many liters does it really hold?" but it does demonstrate that this is one capacious bag.

Before we begin, here are the tags that came on the bag.

Here is the bag before we begin. I don't actually drink beer, so I have two 24 packs of diet coke and a third 24 pack of assorted drinks. A 12oz drink is a 12oz drink, yes?

Here's the first layer of a dozen cans.
When I did the second layer, I realized I could fit 2 more per layer, so here's two layers of 14 (28 cans).
Here's after 2 more layers of 14. So, 56 cans.
At this point the bag was basically at "normal" capacity. I had filled to the normal top. I closed it up and here's some photos with 56 cans inside.
Now it's time to start expanding.
I don't think the expansion zipper thing on the sides actually adds that much room, but that in addition with using some of the above the roll top line, I got all the rest of the cans that I had into the bag, all three 24 packs, for a total of 72 cans. Unfortunately I forgot to get a photo with all the cans inside. I got the additional 16 cans in by laying a bunch on top and then shoving the others down alongside the cans that were already in the bag. I had no trouble closing the bag, and I probably could have fit a couple more inside. Plus, as you can see, I still haven't even touched the stretchy pockets on the outside.
You can see from that last set that I had to extend the top straps, and I could only just fold the roll top. I would not recommend actually trying to wear this bag with this much weight in it, but they do fit pretty easily, and it is definitely "closed" and fairly secure. You can also see that the bag is bulging. It's not straining at all, but it is very nearly totally full.
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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/702748 2014-06-11T18:01:56Z 2014-06-24T04:35:30Z git up

I've just discovered git-up. I like it.

gem install git-up
rbenv rehash
git config --global git-up.bundler.check true
git config --global git-up.fetch.prune true
git up

I had to do a rehash to get rid of

git: 'up' is not a git command. See 'git --help'.
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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/698916 2014-06-02T09:23:53Z 2014-06-02T09:33:31Z more about the marin hamilton bicycle

There's a good post/review of an older marin hamilton here.

That year was quite different from the 2013 that I have, but some points still pertain. It's an excellent commuter/all around bike. His model was single speed, I think, while mine was a 7 speed. (Mine is currently a 21 speed since I swapped in a triple ring crank and front derailleur).

He wishes there was disk brakes on his hamilton. The answer to that is to get a marin muirwoods 29er, which has disk brakes and 24 speed drivetrain.

The 2014 muirwoods has hydraulic brakes, while the 2013 had mechanical disk brakes. Personally, I prefer mechanical.

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Patrick Kelly
tag:blog.phlatphrog.com,2013:Post/698364 2014-05-31T08:34:35Z 2014-09-17T22:59:18Z my latest bike: 2013 marin hamilton 29er

Near the end of last year I bought a 2013 marin muirwoods 29er to keep in the bay area, for when I'm there working.

fresh new bike!

One reason I bought it was that it was on sale at the marin factory store in san francisco. It was a "bargain" and a bike that I thought would be really good for the riding I do in California. I ride around the city, in the east bay, and then also go for long rides in marin and berkeley hills and mt diablo with my friend Dave.

Lunch time

I liked it a lot. Really, a lot. 

Recently, I noticed that these bikes were coming up for sale on ebay. For a lot cheaper than my "bargain". (They're selling for about $350 plus shipping, where I paid $600.) Also, the lesser twin of the muirwoods, the hamilton, was coming up for sale.

The only differences, as far as I know, between the 2013 hamilton and the muirwoods 29er is that the hamilton has rim brakes instead of disk, and its a 1x7 drivetrain instead of 3x8. I had been thinking that I'd prefer the rim brakes because of the reduced complexity, and that it's easier to get a rack on.

I bought a 2013 hamilton for about $250 + $48 shipping.

The seller wouldn't ship to Hawaii, but I had it shipped to Dave in California, and then I mailed the frame to myself (another $40) and took the rest of the bike on the plane in a checked bag.

The hamilton was delivered to me in it's original box, unassembled. It never got assembled as originally designed. To get it from California to Hawaii, I disassembled it more, and then I already had plenty of changes to make before I rode it the first time.

  • 100mm, 25 degree salsa stem
  • schwalbe marathon mondial tires (622-47)
  • charge scoop saddle
  • problem solvers backstop
  • cranks, triple front rings and top pull front derailleur (from my other 29er)
  • microshift twist shifters
  • black soma clarence bar
  • spurcycle grip rings

That's the basic changes I made. I did actually put on the original tires and rode those for a day before I put the schwalbes on. I ordered the stem, the saddle, the backstop and the shifters, and had them ready and waiting before I got the bike home. The other stuff was already in my collection.

I've been riding it around here, at home, and still liking it. I'm nearly convinced that these bikes are fabulous. More people should be buying them. And there are still real bargains on ebay, if you have a mainland address.

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Patrick Kelly