Blog entries from April, 2005

7,918 kilometres

Monday, April 25th, 2005 at 10:33 pm

Seven thousand nine hundred and eighteen was the value of the odometer on my bicycle computer before I transferred it over to my new bike two weeks ago. I have just reset it back to zero and now I need to work out an efficient method of adding one hundred and sixty to it in order for it to reflect how far I have ridden on the new bike…

I will need to trigger the counter 72,748 times in order to register the appropriate distance… maybe not…

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Perls of Wisdom

Friday, April 22nd, 2005 at 5:57 pm

On thing I forgot to say was that when I got home my copy of Perls of Wisdom by Randal Schwartz was sitting on the doorstep. Yet another book that I need to find time to read…

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Riding the Maribyrnong River Path

Friday, April 22nd, 2005 at 5:28 pm

Damien and I both took today off work in order for us to ride the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail but this plan was shelved as he needed to spend the day working on the lighting design for a show in a few weeks. As I have heaps of leave that I need to take I decided that I would go for a ride anyway and the next path around from the Moonee Ponds Creek is the path along the Maribyrnong River.

My travels unfolded as follows:

  • Train from Glen Waverley to Flinders Street and then to Jacana (on the Broadmeadows line). This took an hour and a half but it could have been done in twenty minutes less if I had caught an earlier train from Glen Waverley and changed to a Belgrave line train at Richmond that ran straight to Flinders Street rather than around the loop.
  • Rode along the Western Ring Road past the suburbs of Tullamarine, Airport West, Keilor Park and East Keilor to Brimbank Park. Initially I had planned to do a circuit of the park before heading down the river but I decided against it.
  • Negotiated the very washed out track that runs from the east end of the E.J. Whitten Bridge almost straight down the valley to the path next to the river.
  • The hill on the other side of the river to the Department of Defence Explosives Factory was a pain but from the top there is a very good view over the factory and beyond.
  • After this it was a pretty easy ride all the way along the river (crossing over once) until Footscray where I turned onto the path along Footscray Road (aka Docklands Hwy) that leads to Docklands itself.
  • Underneath Citylink I was required to wait for a load of containers to cross Footscray Road on the line to Appleton Dock. I’m kicking myself for not taking a photo as I had plenty of time…
  • After Docklands it was a pretty straightforward ride past Crown and Southbank. I crossed to Flinder Street but I continuted down past Federation Square, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne Park and the MCG to Richmond Station where I caught a train back.

I left Jacana at 11AM and arrived at Richmond at 3PM after covering just under 50 kilometers. All up it was a very easy ride.

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Higher-Order Perl

Tuesday, April 19th, 2005 at 9:18 pm

A few weeks ago the book Higher-Order Perl by Mark Jason Dominus was released and my copy arrived yesterday. I have just finished covering it and now all I need to do is find some time to read it…

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The Design of Everyday Things

Sunday, April 17th, 2005 at 7:28 pm

Yesterday I finished reading The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman. Since any decent material on usability (specifically in reagard to the web as that that is what I do) references concepts that can be traced back to this book I probably could have got by without reading it. Since I prefer to go to the source rather than rely on second, third or nth hand mutations I read it anyway and there was one point that I cannot recall being stressed enough elsewhere:

  • The design of a system should both make it easy for the user to correctly select the appropriate action for the desired output as well as the system preventing incorrect actions from being performed.

I think the next next book that I will read will be Emotional Design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things which is also by Donald Norman. In fact I bought these two books at the same time to get a discount…

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New bike is back!

Tuesday, April 12th, 2005 at 6:16 pm

On my way home tonight I picked up my bike and now I have front brakes that actually work. It turns out that as the Giant rep wasn’t able to pick it up yesterday the bike shop disassembled the brake caliper for an inspection. It all checked out fine so they reassembled it and now there is only a slight deflection in the join between the two pieces when the brakes are applied very hard, but most importantly there is no leak. Giant is sending out a new part in case it does start leaking again but otherwise the hope is that it beds itself in.

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New bike has more problems than previously thought

Monday, April 11th, 2005 at 11:43 am

This morning I dropped by new bike off at the bike shop so the front brakes could be fixed up and I have just received a phone call from them with some bad news. It appears that the brake caliper housing is actually leaking out the side is a pretty signifigant problem. A rep from Giant will be picking it up today, getting it fixed, and dropping it back tomorrow (to the shop) which means that I won’t be able to pick it up tonight as previously expected.

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Super parma!

Sunday, April 10th, 2005 at 3:02 pm

I have to say that the combination of live bookmarks in Firefox and rss feeds from del.icio.us is highly addictive. I probably check the recently posted sites at least a couple of times a day and that is how I came across Search for a Super Parma, a site that has ratings for chicken parma’s (aka chicken parmigiana) available in Melbourne and Greater Victoria.

What is dissapointing is that they don’t have a rating for the chicken parma available from the Hotel Bedford. The relevance of this is that after Melbourne Perl Mongers (the next one is this week) we go around the corner to the Bedford where for the past few months the Wednesday night special has been the chicken parma…

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New bike! So far both good and bad…

Saturday, April 9th, 2005 at 5:59 pm

This morning I picked up my new bike, a Giant XTC-3, and while I was there I finally got some gloves and also a saddle mounted bag. It is certainly a different feel compared to my old bike as the handlebar is wider by about 60mm and more significantly it has front suspension.

After getting it home I proceeded to spend the majority of the afternoon transferring the accessories from my old bike across to the new. Unfortunately not much of this went to plan:

  • I could not install my speedo (a now outmoded Cat Eye Mity 2) as the clip for the sensor was not large enough to fit around the suspension fork.
  • As the frame on the new bike is 19″ instead of 20″ as well as the top tube meeting the seat tube at a lower point it proved impractical to have a bottle holder mounted on the seat tube as it was difficult to remove the bottle. I may review this however.
  • The down tube (and the top tube) on the new bike are of signfigantly larger diameter than the old bike which mean that the batteries for my lights have to sit at an angle. I also had to dig up some longer bolts that would reach through both the bottle holder and the battery holder into the nuts embedded in the frame.

The one thing that did go smoothly when transferring the accessories was that I was able to mount the two lamps for my lights directly to the handlebar. Previously I had the lamps mounted forward of the handlebar on a Minoura Space Grip.

While I was trawling through the drawer that contains miscellaneous bolts and nuts I began to wonder if I really had to mount the batteries under the bottle on the down tube. What if there was an extension cable that would let me place them in a pannier bag? This would mean I would have to accelerate any plans I had to buy a rack for a bag but it would also mean that I would not be restricted to the ABS battery packs, I could use another 6 volt rechargeable battery…

When I went to the Cat Eye website to see if they made such a thing as an extension cable for ABS I found that what I have no longer exists. The only ABS product I could find was the ABS-10 the single 10W lamp and single NiMH battery product. No mention of the ABS-20 ( two 10W lamps and two batteries), the ABS-25 (one 10W and one 15W lamp with two batteries) or the ABS-30 (two 15W lamps with two batteries). On a hunch I checked the UK site (ie ‘English (UK)’ instead of ‘English’) and there I found a mention of the ABS-20 however this has NiMH batteries instead of the NiCad’s mine has. It makes me doubt the reliability of the Cat Eye website as there are plenty of sites out there that mention them but the manufacturer’s doesn’t…

And now for the really annoying thing; it appears that when the front brakes were assembled in the factory they didn’t tighten the bleed value enough as the fluid leaks out if I depress the lever. This means that I will be dropping the bike off at the bike shop on my way to work on Monday and picking it up on my way home…

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Commuting via public transport is painful

Tuesday, April 5th, 2005 at 9:58 pm

Today was my third day in a row of commuting to work via public transport. I leave home just before 8AM in order to get to the nearest bus stop just in time for the correct bus to arrive. This bus is particularily busy so I have had to stand until most of the passengers get off at Glen Waverley at which point I can find myself a seat while the bus fills up with even more passengers. Fortunately this bus actually passed through the university which means that at 8:45AM I get off at the stop that is around one hundred metres from my office. All up it takes around 50 minutes from walking out the door at home until I walk in my office door. The journey home on the other hand can take over an hour if it is peak hour and the main roads are almost stationary.

This is actually around about the same time that I need to spend in order to ride my bicycle to and from work:

  • Go out, open garage door, get bike close garage door etc: 5 minutes
  • Ride the 9km to work: 20-25 minutes (depends on how long I have to wait for traffic lights, etc)
  • Cool down and get changed: 15-20 minutes

However riding is much less stressful as missing the bus automatically adds 20 minutes but if I leave home a few minutes later I simply arrive a few minutes later. I also have the flexibility of being able to easily make a detour during the ride (for example to return some dvd’s that I had hired) and riding along side streets is much more pleasant than staring blankly out the window at hundreds (if not thousands) of tin cans.

The point I am trying to make here is that it is much better for me to ride to and from work than to catch the bus. I believe in this so much that on Saturday morning I will be spending the equivalent of what it would cost me to buy a bus ticket every day. Yes, I stopped off at the bike shop on the way home (an extra half hour waiting for busses) and placed an order for a Giant XTC-3

(Unfortunately I will have to endure three more days of public transport as my old bike isn’t currently in rideable condition)

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Last golf lesson and bike shopping

Saturday, April 2nd, 2005 at 5:19 pm

This morning I had my final (of five) golf lesson. What I am supposed to do now is actually go out and play some golf in order for it to be of any benefit. This may or may not happen…

Instead of heading back home like I did previously I travelled around to the bicycle shops in the area. After telling them my requirements three of them ended up recommending the same bike, a Giant XTC-3. This is a hardtail with hydraulic disc brakes and fairly decent components although I would add bar ends and get it with semi-slick tyres. I was also looking at racks and panniers as I have been considering not using a backpack anymore but I’m not sure if I will go down that route…

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