Syndicate This Blog
Sunday, April 23. 2017
Yesterday I attended my first in-person motorcycle race as a spectator at the Gratz Fairgrounds in Gratz, PA. This is a cinder flat track which makes for an exciting, if a bit dusty show. There were racers there of ages from 4 to 80, racing everything from highly customized dirt bikes ideal for the track to barely customized street bikes with dirt tires with engines from tiny 50cc 'chainsaws' up to big heavy harley motors.
Racing was held by Baer Motorsports, which has other races on its schedule this year but nothing like Gratz. At only $5 per person and with racing running from 11:00 until 19:00, this was a great show.
Browsing other videos of racing at Gratz, one of my favorites is this one, which shows what the track is like from a rider's perspective:
Definitely looking forward to going to this one again next year, with better camera equipment.
Tuesday, February 14. 2017
Had an interesting discussion today in which a few points on Java came up. My primary focus has never been Java exclusively, so I am far from an expert, but I have been working with Java more extensively in the last few years with the Hadoop stack.
Explore the variety of Map implementations. I usually reach for HashMap when sometimes I should be thinking about the other Map types. Lots of other goodies to review there, when doing development with a 'get a project done' focus it's easy to forget these basics, there's a bunch of other interesting Java collections topics in the sidebar there too.
There are different reference types in Java which affect garbage collection. Many Java implementations make heavy use of object and object factories, let garbage collection throw away some of the extra stuff you may not need in your implementation.
In the fun with threads category, the volatile keyword. As the author at the link succinctly puts "poorly documented, poorly understood, and rarely used." Avoid reliance on a changing global variable when using threads, use immutable types. Related to this is Java's Atomic classes, another construct to allow simultaneous access among threads to common values. These can provide efficiency gains in advanced use cases, but in general really think, read about, and consider safer alternative patterns before using.
Saturday, January 21. 2017
Let's Encrypt changes the game for SSL certificates. By combining free certificates with an effective mechanism for ensuring these certificates are legitimately issued, everyone running a site can now have a signed certificate. EFF's Certbot is a handy tool for allowing even novice administrators to easily maintain these certificates, with automatic renewal.
For companies with intranets, Let's Encrypt may not be suitable. The resolution protocol which proves out the site owner requires access to the dns or parent web server for a real domain. Regardless of registration method used, the addresses of these intranet sites are then publicly available via logs which anyone can see, which could be an issue in cases where it is important to keep these private.
Regardless of the caveat for intranets, this new option is a tremendous improvement over the previous state of SSL for many, and has particularly impressive use cases in cloud deployments.
Tuesday, September 13. 2016
Lake Hope was low on Rebel count this year; saw lots of Harleys, a Vulcan, a BMW, but no other Rebels. Since I was alone I was able to do more riding than I ever had out there; including plenty of runs on the Zaleski Roller Coaster and many of the interconnecting back roads around the park.
Found a lot of new attractions, but I don't want to spoil them here in case I want to use them for future ride destinations. Nothing beats seeing them in person anyway, and the incredible twisty roads to get to them in the area are most of the fun.
I did miss Guba's chili, the group camp fires, and some of the adventures and social opportunities being there which are only found with groups. I ride most of the time alone because I generally like it (Lake Hope rallies past are actually the only group rides I've ever been on), so I'll keep going to Lake Hope if no one else does; but meeting someone from the forum every once in a while would be nice.
Since no one else came, it may be safe to say this rally is "dead", and it's more "Lex and BOB's Lake Hope Vacation", but we'll see what happens next year. I didn't want to presume to 'take over' this year as I wasn't sure if there was planning going on via some other medium, but since it was just me I will assume next year I'm in charge of planning and advertising, so I'll do more to get the word out and set some official meeting locations, times, etc. so those who want to come are more clear there will be something to arrive to.
Interested in attending next year? Watch for future rally announcements at Honda Rebel Forum and Honda Rebel Unofficial Rebel Forum.
Tuesday, July 5. 2016
Getting back into bicycle riding as I work on getting into shape. My bicycle needed a rear tube replacement and a good cleaning to remove the cat hair from the gears. As a 'return to cycling' event and a July 4 adventure, Christine and I rode the Buffalo Valley Rail Trail on Monday.
Only the ends are paved, but the packed gravel in the middle is reminiscent of the lane at home, so it wasn't uncomfortable. Although at first I felt my bike was a little stiff for gravel, by the end I realized it was the rider not the bike that was stiff. A beautiful ride in the country with farms and fields on either side and gentle slopes, even for a rail trail. We rode in light rain and mist on the return leg, but my gear kept me dry and it proved rather refreshing.
Longer than I expected; about 10 miles each way, as they finished more parts of it than when I had investigated it in the past. 20 miles was probably a bit more than I should have tackled after having not ridden in years, and led to being quite sore this morning.
Saturday, June 25. 2016
After years of using an otter case on my Samsung Note II phone, figuring it was near the end of life and wanting to enjoy a slim phone for a while before retiring it, I started using it without the case. I enjoyed having a phone that actually fit in my pocket, but alas the inevitable happened, I dropped it and the screen broke. This older phone still fit my needs however, so I was loathe to replace it. I've always wanted to tear one of these apart, so instead of throwing it away, I decided to replace the screen.
Replacing the screen on these isn't particularly easy for the unexperienced. There's many small parts and screws, the components are sensitive to ESD, and to get a good job without wrecking the case proper tools are needed. Fortunately I'm an N scale train hobbyist; these have similarly sized components and similar issues dealing with tiny electronic components.
Ifixit has a guide for replacing the screen on the Samsung Note II which I used as well as an order page for the various parts. It actually works the first time, I have no extra parts on my workbench, and my new screen is unbranded, which is a rather cool side effect of the surgery.
Thursday, June 23. 2016
Riding in to work last week I picked up this stowaway. I heard a noise when I hit it, then after riding a few hundred feet, came to a stop sign. When I pulled out from the sign, the back end felt slightly mushy and I started hearing a ticking noise as I began moving faster. I changed road position, thinking it was the road as the stretch I pulled onto was under construction, but in the course of turning I noticed the back end was very mushy, and it dawned on me what was going on. My first flat tire on a vehicle.
Pulling off towards the side of the road as far as I could, I looked back and saw this nail sticking out of my tire. Unfortunately I was at a bad spot where there wasn't a berm to park in. After assessing the situation I decided to move the bike at a few MPH up a driveway to a storage facility where I could safely park and wait for help.
Waiting a while in occasional rain, contemplating how it had been a while since I had time to just relax and watch the rain, I was able to arrange a ride home then come back for the bike with my trailer. Loading proved to be a challenge on a wooden tilt bed trailer; my rear wheel skidded off when I tried to go up. However, there was a location with a pile of stone where I was able to load with some strategic parking and riding. Looking for a way to unload the bike off the tilt bed safely, I ended up buying a patch kit, cutting the nail out with bolt cutters, patching the tire, then inflating it. With sidewall damage like this, there was no permanent fix for the tire, but this was enough to get the bike in my shop and remove the rear wheel.
YCH examined the wheel when I brought it in and determined the damage was cosmetic. With a new tire, the bike is back on the road in time for the Triumph rally in Oley and I have a new experience to add to my motorcycling repertoire.
Sunday, June 12. 2016
Having experienced many motorcycles by now, I still hadn't ridden a Harley Davidson. Generally their price is exorbitant and their reputation for quality is poor. Although typically thought of as behind on technology, they are one of the only companies selling mid-size cruisers with ABS brakes, a strong part of a purchase decision for me. In this case it came down to a Triumph Thunderbird ABS or a Dyna Switchback ABS. Both were similar in price (albeit the Triumph was new, and the Harley gently used), the deciding point came down to a review which actually rated the Harley higher; rare for this magazine which frequently lampoons Harleys. Reading about the Dyna; with a rubber mounted engine for the famous Harley vibration, and arguably the best handling of Harley's bikes, it seemed a great choice for me.
On a technical checklist basis, the Harley is inferior in nearly every way; crazy weight and balance, shaking, short service intervals, the frustrating bag mechanism, proprietary tires, the checklist goes on. It leaked oil on the ride home, which got me thinking 'oh boy'. The saddlebags had a locking component which appeared to have been broken by the vibration; this specific bike is a bit famous for the bags coming off. I believe this locking mechanism breaks as the locking pins are on a cast part, and if undetected for too long the bags jiggle off. It turned out the oil was overfilled, which is apparently common by Harley dealers. Once the oil level was adjusted, it no longer leaks a drop. I replaced the broken saddlebag component, time will tell if it happens again, but now I know what to watch for. As I do my own service work, the short service intervals shouldn't be a big cost for me.
On this four state all day tour to Harper's Ferry, I rode it long enough to get used to the shaking and certainly loved the journey. The experience reminds me of the 1952 Ford 800 I have versus my Kubota B3200. Modern Kubota is more practical in every way, and it's what I reach for to do real work, but the Ford has character all its own. I'll give and get a fair shake from this bike, and use experience to determine for myself if I like the brand.
Saturday, March 26. 2016
Heated gear is something I have avoided in the past, even though I ride year around. Smaller bikes I enjoy most don't have the alternator output to power it, and the battery powered options aren't suitable for my ride length and frequency. Cycle Gear had a sale on heated gear this winter, and I now ride the Kawasaki Voyager 1700 most frequently in cold weather, which has plenty of electrical output to spare, so I decided to try a vest.
Keeping my core warm with a vest certainly extends the amount of time I can ride below 40F; typically on the one and a half hour ride to work I would need to stop once when in the 30-40F range, twice in the 20-30F range, and sometimes four times below that to walk around and warm up appendages. With the vest I've been able to ride straight to work without stopping. However, although I didn't have too much trouble with my hands before, now with the vest and the longer range I am riding without stopping, my hands were the next target for heat.
The Cycle Gear vest has matching glove liners I then purchased; this solved the cold hands, however these do have an annoyance. I expected them to be controlled via the same controller the vest has, however they seem to go full heat whenever plugged in, ignore the controller, and don't shut off until unplugging. This works fine below 30F but tends to roast my hands after a while above that, with the only way to shut them off being to unplug. Fortunately the connector is rather easy to just reach down and remove; although I do have to stop to plug back in.
Now as I'm able to do longer rides without stops, my legs and feet are starting to get a bit chilly . . .
Thursday, December 17. 2015
It is a great time of year to ride on those narrow back country single lane pavement and packed dirt roads, as normally the dense trees along many of these roads are particularly effective at blocking the view. Slower speeds involved on such roads allow longer riding times between warm up stops. Care does need to be taken as such roads are poorly maintained, particularly an issue if it is below freezing and/or the ground is frozen, which makes these roads a better late fall choice than winter.
Wednesday, October 7. 2015
Fortunately it cleared up on Friday the 11th, so I headed out at my usual time. It was a gorgeous ride out with clear skies and nice weather; until I got within a few hours of Lake Hope. As I approached it became clear storms and rain were prevalent over the park; a particular issue for someone planning on setting up a tent, compounded by the fact that it would be both raining and dark when I arrived. I contemplated the idea of camping to the east where it wasn't raining, but the forecast made it clear that wouldn't help as it would be raining Saturday. So for the first time on one of these trips, I stayed in a hotel in Parkersburg, WV.
It was still raining in the morning, but with daylight to ride, in I proceeded to Lake Hope. When I arrived I didn't find any Rebels; it turns out I missed the pack leaving by 50 minutes. After enjoying a fine meal at the lodge and generally puttering the park around for a few hours, the rain finally relented so I headed to my campsite to set up. Afterwards, I went for a ride to Ash Cave, a few trips on the Zaleski roller coaster, and a few of the other wonderful motorcycle roads around the park.
By then evening had arrived, the party had returned to the cabin area and had a campfire going, so I joined in. Although the party was small; the rain had scared off most of the riders it seems; there was plenty of fun conversation and Guba's famous chili to enjoy.
Sunday we enjoyed Lake Hope Lodge's breakfast buffet which includes their delicious brisket. Afterwards, I hung around the park, explored the campground and some trails around it. Guba stopped by with a large pile of firewood, and B.O.B. the bear. After dark, DNC stopped in and we enjoyed a fine campfire on a glorious clear night full of stars; a fun change from year's past where I'm usually the only one still there.
B.O.B. the bear (shown in the picture) has been riding around the country on Rebels for 10 years. Apparently I was the only one at the Rally who hadn't ridden with him yet, so he accompanied me on the ride home. Now to plan some trips with B.O.B. before I hand him off to the next Rebel rider . . .
Friday, May 1. 2015
I was hesitant to go with a Triumph after other experiences the family has had with them. However, this one being inexpensive, and hoping that was a two-off problem, I decided to try one. Alas, I had issues too; there was a defective part and Triumph apparently isn't open Saturdays to provide any support to their dealers, and they don't provide adequate documentation or instructions to dealers as to what the computer codes mean. This resulted in a bike that wouldn't start, then one throwing error codes. Unfortunately this means my family is 3 for 3 with Triumphs not working off the showroom floor; fortunately the dealer got it working the next week and I hit the road.
Amazingly smooth bike; I'm still in break-in so I haven't had a chance to push it yet, but handling and weight are similar to the 250. I love the 'sitting on the hood' feeling which is more extreme with this bike than my other ones; it's easy to forget the bike is there. I had some concerns the bike would be too powerful, but it has very good manners; smooth and controllable power with more only if asked for.
With my Ventura Rack and Scottoiler installed tonight, I'm ready to start tackling longer distances with it.
Saturday, February 28. 2015
Finally as of today we had enough days in a row of sun to clear the roads of ice, and with the balmy 20F degree day I got a chance to hit the roads before February ends. My first ride of the year, although shorter than I would have liked, was glorious indeed.
If next winter is like this again, I might have to invest in a snow cycle (aka snowmobile) to make it through these trying times.
Monday, February 16. 2015
It took a while to set up, a few decorative rocks to tweak the heights so the car drivers don't lose their heads, and quite a bit of testing and tweaking the many feet of seams, twists, and turns to get running smoothly. As such I certainly wouldn't recommend this as a 'first' set lest one get discouraged, but once set up it is quite amazing. With some extra landscaping pieces from my collection of HO scenery, and the included pit and grandstand displays which are a nice extra touch, this set has certainly lived up to my expectations.
Thursday, January 22. 2015
By this point in time we have tried quite a few recipes. Our favorite so far is undoubtedly one originally based on this Light Oat Bread recipe but with a few changes to match our tastes:
It's interesting how sensitive these recipes are; with more experience I hope to get more consistent round tops for example. So far though, we've devoured every loaf.
Beyond bread, there is a recipe in the book for pizza crust. Although it took 1.5 hours on the dough setting, it made the best pizza crust I've ever managed to turn out. Looking forward to more dough recipes, and I need to try rolls at some point.
(Page 1 of 15, totaling 225 entries) » next page
Lexiyntax @ Twitter