Category Archives: Geekiness

#30daysofbiking – day 13

Yesterday was day 13 of #30daysofbiking. I got out for my normal 13 mile out-and-back In the morning. I achieved an auspicious number of calories burned.

STFU n00b!  I m1337!!!!!!!one!!

In the afternoon, I headed north to visit relatives. I took the Karate Monkey and the trail-a-bike to entertain the kids. I ended up towing them around for almost 5 miles.


I ended up with 17.5 miles for the day.

I rode 18 miles today!

A Preview of Coming Attractions

What the world needs is an Open Source, Open Data, self-hosted replacement for Stava, Dailymile, Runkeeper, etc.

phpMyGPX as Ridelogger?
Using phpMyGPX as a ride logger?

I downloaded phpMyGPX yesterday afternoon. I was up most of the night studying the code. I’m not a very good programmer, but it seems possible that I might be able to modify phpMyGPX into what I’m looking for.

I’ve got a crude prototype of a ride report up and working.

¡Viva la Bike Blogosphere!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are dark times for the bicycle-blogosphere.

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

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

Trail-a-bike Adventures

I scored a Trail-a-bike for next-to-nothing at a yard sale a few weeks ago. I don’t have any kids, but now I at least have an excuse to have some. In the mean while, I have a niece and a couple of nephews who are the right size to go on bike adventures with this thing.


The trail-a-bike web site says that the kids should be able to ride without training wheels before you let them ride it. Bollocks to that. None of the kids are very good without training wheels, but I have really wide bars on the Karate Monkey, and thus far, I have been able to counter their incessant wobbling without getting thrown into the ditch.

The kids seem to like it. They like to either sing silly songs or tell you crazy stories when you’re out riding around.

Yesterday, while trail-a-biking around the block, my nephew (age 4) told me this:

Nephew: Uncle Adam, I’m not afraid of spiders anymore.
Me: How come?
Nephew: Because Spider-Man got bit by a spider, and he has super powers! (I had just given him a Spider-Man bike helmet)
Me: That’s right!
Nephew: Spider-man is a good guy, right?
Me: Yep.
Nephew: And he fights the bad guys, right?
Me: Yep.
Nephew: I wish Spider-man was real. Then I would never be afraid of anything ever again!

So, yeah. Pretty awesome.

I’m not sure the Karate Monkey is the best bike for this. The chainstays are short, and when a kid goes wobbly, it really makes the bike lurch. The wide handlebars make it pretty easy to yank the bike back upright, though. Maybe once the kids learn better balance, I could tow them with the Cross-Check. Then we can haul serious ass down the bike trail, and get to the Ice Cream store in record time.

The Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus will never catch us!

Metric Century Plan

All this #30daysofbiking foolishness has me feeling like a bad-ass, and I’m starting to think about the metric century I promised myself I’d train for this year.

So, I came up with a training plan.

All I really did was take the old century training plan I ripped out of an old copy of Bicycling magazine, cut out the last three weeks, and interpolated the remaining weeks to keep the weekly increase to a manageable 2 miles per week. Over the next 23 weeks, the “long ride” gradually increases from 16 to 65 miles.

I made a spreadsheet with this plan in it, because once you put something in a spreadsheet, then you know you mean business!

To my eyes, the first few weeks of the plan seem ridiculously easy, and the last few seem ridiculously hard. That probably means it’s right on the money.

Mapping the Sprawl

I’ve been doing some armchair mapping of the West Shore area for OSM.

The whole area is a gigantic clusterfuck of sprawling housing developments and go-nowhere roads. It’s easy to get lost in there, and have your 10 mile bike ride turn into a never-ending marathon of dead end roads, cul-de-sacs, and near misses by Volvo driving soccer moms.

OSM Map West Shore area near Harrisburg, PA

Once I get it all mapped, maybe I’ll put together a “bicycling guide to the West Shore”. I know I could have used one when I started out.

Wikileaks Winkerdinks

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

I proposed that we use a wiki.

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

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

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

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

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

Musings on the New Kindle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Download the file

  2. rename the file from .epub to .zip

    Rename it to .zip

  3. Open the zip
    It's just HTML!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vendor lock-in is a bitch.