What's davintosh? Mostly just the random ramblings of a hopelessly distractible… Hey, what's that?

The Big Wheel Lives!

Filed under: Bikes,Fun!,Geek — dave @ 11:38 pm 2008/05/31

bigwheel.jpg

I was a little too old for the Big Wheel when they hit the big time back in the early ’70′s, but I remember thinking how cool they were. The big draw was those fat rear tires and the power slide lever on the back end. Those little squirts riding these things down a hill, hitting the brake, and spinning/sliding to a stop was just too much.

Turns out that there are adults(?) with fond memories of riding Big Wheels, and still do ride them! BigWheelRally.com exists to bring together people for, what else; Big Wheel rallies, where they ride their Big Wheels down hills in and around Boulder, CO. I kinda wondered about the pedaling thing… A Big Wheel is nearly impossible for all but the shortest adults to pedal, so many of the trikes are modified to fit. Their photo gallery shows some interesting looking trikes, and also some rally shots, with some awesome looking downhill races. For the downhill races, it looks like many used trikes without pedals, using footpegs instead, which makes sense considering the damage a spinning pedal could cause on a downhill run.

bw_racing.jpg

BigWheelRally.com sells Big Wheels, and offers tips on modding a Big Wheel to better withstand an adult rider’s weight. Larger Big Wheel-style trikes can also be purchased from BigWheelRally.com, although it looks like some are getting more difficult to source.

Another site that hosts Big Wheel events is BYOBW (Bring Your Own Big Wheel). BYOBW is based in San Francisco, and for a few years held its big event on Lombard Street, but has since been relocated to Vermont Street. No surprise; they draw a crowd.

When Will It Stop?

Filed under: Politics — dave @ 10:38 am

Well, the June 3 South Dakota Primary election is looming large, and with things being so close between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Hussein Obama, South Dakota is suddenly a factor once again. And the two of them have suddenly rediscovered South Dakota, as evidenced by the fresh deluge of campaign ads. And each of the ads is a true groaner.

Mrs. Bill Clinton drones on about being a friend to the middle class, all the while complaining about the “Bush economy”; an economy that she — as the junior US Senator from New York — had a hand in creating. An economy that many (including me) believe is on a false downturn, a direct result of actions taken by her party and the complicit media to increase the chance of getting a Democrat in the White House. Watch how quickly things turn around after the Nov. 4 election.

“We are 8 trillion dollars in debt,” Clinton tells an audience in the ad. “We borrow money from the Chinese to buy oil from the Saudis.” But smart voters will read between the lines and hear her reminding us that the Chinese are in a position to loan us money in part because of her and Bill’s extracurricular activities during their eight years in the White House. And she can also be heard saying that she is partly at fault for any economic problems caused by Washington — she’s been in the Senate for how long?

Yeah. She’d make a great US President.

Then there’s Barack Hussein Obama. Yeah, I know he doesn’t like people using his middle name. Tough cookies. Blame it on your parents. Anyway, his commercial says, “Let’s go change the world!”, reasoning that he can change the world because of a good speech. I think. I didn’t really follow the logic, because I don’t think there was any to it. But that one is better than the typical platitudes he spews in most of his commercials; “We want change,” “We can change America,” “We can create a new Washington.” He makes me groan every time I hear his voice. Such a joke. A bad one.

Yeah, he’s the guy who said he’d meet with any world leader without preconditions, then later scolded Jimmy Carter for meeting with Hamas. He complains that the US has lost influence in the world community in recent years; elect him, and the US would be a laughing stock in the world community. Elect him, and we will end up in a weaker position militarily than at the end of Bill Clinton’s disastrous presidency (hear it from B. Hussein himself.) He is dangerously naive to think that he can cut the military to the degree he proposes in that video and still protect the American people.

I wish they would both just go away. And we’ve got five more months of this crap. I’m no fan of John McCain either, but he’d make a much better President than either of the two Democrat candidates.

What’s really funny about this campaign is that Hillary is still in the running. It seemed in the beginning that the fix was in for Obama, and the pressure continues to mount for Hillary to drop out. She has Rush Limbaugh and his Operation Chaos to thank; Rush urged Republican voters to change party affiliation for their primary elections so they can keep the Hillary candidacy alive as long as possible so that she can keep swinging at Obama, bloodying him as much as possible. That’s really funny because the mainstream media just doesn’t get the whole Operation Chaos thing; they think that the votes for her are legitimate and will translate to real votes in November. It is to laugh!

What really scares me though is how many people will place legitimate votes for one or the other of these two socialist idiots, even here in South Dakota. That tells a sad tale of how far from the Federalist ideals we as a nation have drifted. God help us all.

Henry Workcycles

Filed under: Bikes — Tags: , , , , — dave @ 10:16 am

I thought sure I wrote a post about Henry Workcycles earlier, but I guess it was only on Gadgetopia.

bakfiets.jpg

Henry Workcycles creates bikes that are beyond unique and beyond cool, built to fit some very specific uses:

school_bus.jpg
Hauling kids…

transport.jpg
Hauling, um, stuff. Note the sturdy platform over the front wheel…

long_cargobike.jpg
Hauling even more stuff…

kruisframe.jpg
Hauling a bible (this one is known as the “Preacher’s Bike”)

So many great looking machines made by these people… I’m sure there are a lot of other builders that make similar bikes in that part of the world, but Henry Workcycles has a great web presence (and in English too!) As neat as these bikes are, my knees combined with even the minor hills around here make them the stuff of daydreams for me. In the Netherlands however… a totally different story. There the terrain is much flatter, lending itself to large, heavy bikes carrying heavy loads. The hills around here aren’t enormous by any measure, but I still wouldn’t want to be pedaling a monster like that flatbed cargo bike up the hill to my house. My knees hurt just thinking about that.

Renovo Hardwood Bicycles

Filed under: Bikes,Favorite Things,Links — Tags: , , , , , — dave @ 4:50 pm 2008/05/24

I like bikes, and I like things made of wood. And holy cow, I had no idea you could combine the two on this level… I’ve seen some nice bikes before, but this… This is a thing of beauty. A work of art.

renovo_road_sm.jpg

renovo_1_sm.jpg  renovo_4_sm.jpg

renovo_3_sm.jpg  renovo_2_sm.jpg

This bike was produced by Renovo Hardwood Bicycles, where else, but in Portland, Oregon. “Wood is natures carbon fiber” they say. They hand pick hardwoods for their frames, and use a CNC machine for shaping & hollowing out the four pieces that comprise each main triangle, and bonded finger joints where the pieces intersect and the halves are joined in the middle.

They call the frames “heirloom quality”, and I’d have to agree. I don’t know how well they ride, but my guess is that they are as stiff yet supple as Renovo claims. And this is something you’d definitely want to bequeath to your kids, and they’d love to inherit.

renovo_inside.jpg

renovo_dougfir_sm.jpg

renovo_city_sm.jpg

Semper Velo

I’d like to take a shot at building a wood frame bike like this, although I couldn’t match Renovo’s build quality. The finger joints would be the difficult thing to reproduce with the tools I have on hand, but it might be possible to use lap joints at the three main joints, with the wood forming gussets at those joints as well. Three layers of overlapping 5″ wide, 1″ thick planks in four sections to form the triangle might just work… Build a solid prototype from something soft like Douglas Fir to see how it works, then go to a hardwood with hollow tube centers… Even if it didn’t work as a bike, it’d make a great wall decoration. This could be fun!

The Plywood Bike

Filed under: Bikes,Family,Fun! — dave @ 4:50 pm 2008/05/23

The boys and I are still planning on building a rowbike of some kind — at least I am, but they’re getting a little impatient wondering when we’re going to get started. I’ve been trying to source cheap/free frame materials and trying to figure out in my head how to construct the thing, and think I’ve come upon an idea that will finally get this project rolling… build the frame out of plywood.

plywood_bike.jpg

Plywood construction in bikes isn’t a new idea at all; I found plenty of links online from people who have gone through similar projects, apparently with a decent level of success. This site is a build diary of sorts where a number of students built recumbents using a laminated plywood & foam sandwich construction… Very cool.

One other site I found that’s worth mentioning is the manytracks.com Woody Project. There he took stock bike parts, made some modifications to them, built a frame from lumber & plywood, and it looks like it’d work.

I really like the plywood/foam sandwich construction for the rowbike concept because you don’t have the twisting that happens on a pedal bike in the area of the bottom bracket; all the torque in a rowbike is linear. Sounds like a match made in heaven for a guy with few welding skills and less welding equipment, but wields a pretty mean scroll saw.

That same group also built recumbent bikes using carbon fiber a couple of years later; perhaps that’ll be our next garage project…

The Telmarine Catapult — How Does It Work?

Filed under: Fun! — dave @ 11:03 pm 2008/05/20

The family and I went to see the latest movie installment of C.S. Lewis’ Narnian Chronicles — Prince Caspian — last Friday night, and it’s a great movie. The story line doesn’t follow the book very well, but with a few exceptions the movie does follow the book at least in spirit.

One of the things in the movie that puzzled me and left me discussing it with the boys long after the credits rolled was the catapults that were used by the Telmarines in the attack on Aslan’s How. These catapults were marvelous machines, able to hurl stone balls great distances at a very rapid pace. Each had a rotating arm with a throwing basket at each end, and they were throwing two stones for each revolution.

catapult_2_sm.jpg

The one problem I could see with them is that there’s no way they could work as they were depicted in the movie.

From the brief glimpses given of the machines, there were maybe a dozen men operating each one with the stones loading from a wagon pushed up behind each machine. There didn’t appear to be any mechanism for keeping the arm rotating other than some kind of chain or belt driven by something at the base. You couldn’t tell at all what was driving it…

catapult_1_sm.jpg

But I guess with all the magical inter-world travel, the fauns, the centaurs, the talking animals, etc… it must be magic that was making it go.

Stupid Computer Trick — VNC Echo

Filed under: Computers,Fun!,Geek — Tags: , , , , , , — dave @ 8:41 am 2008/05/16

At work I’m messing around with setting up a new machine running Leopard… I was having trouble figuring out how best to access network shares and a helpful guy on the Apple Support Discussions Board pointed me to the Columns View in a Finder Window. When you click on the icon for a machine on the network that has file and Apple Remote Desktop (ARD) screen sharing enabled, you get two buttons; Connect As… and Share Screen…

Now while I was setting up the Leopard machine, I had it sitting in the opposite corner of my cubicle with a standard mouse & keyboard attached, and was getting some wrist pain from that, so I set up ARD screen sharing through VNC on the Leopard machine so I could control it from my PowerBook or the PC. I also have ARD screen sharing through VNC set up on my PowerBook, so…

When I finally figured out to look for the Connect As… button in the the Columns View, of course my first thought when I saw that Share Screen… button was, “Hmmm. What does that do?” So being the geek that I am I clicked it, it asked for my password, and up popped a view of my PowerBook screen. Inside that was a view of the Leopard screen, and inside that was a view of my PowerBook screen, and inside that… You get the idea. Very cool indeed!

Oh, and I almost forgot… I’m controlling my PowerBook through my Lenovo PC via Synergy and QuickSynergy (my post on that here). So it’s Lenovo — PowerBook — Leopard on Intel — PowerBook — Leopard on Intel — PowerBook — Leopard on Intel — ad infinitum…

vnc_ard_echo_sm.jpg
(click on the image for a full-size screenshot)

Vine Viewer is able to record movies of what’s going on, and once I figure out how to get the file size down a ways (right now it’s full-resolution, and 240MB) I’ll post it, just for fun.

Update: Here it is. Enjoy!

Sioux Falls Bike To Work Day — May 16, 2008

Filed under: Bikes — dave @ 10:39 pm 2008/05/15

08b2w_400.jpg

Tomorrow is the 7th Annual Sioux Falls Bike To Work Day. The electric is ready to roll, so I’ll be there, even if it is a long way out of my way. Who can pass up free pancakes?

b2w1_poster.jpg

You-Convert-It dot com

Filed under: Links — dave @ 9:34 am 2008/05/04

Here’s a Useful Site to bookmark; youconvertit.com.

youconvertit.jpg

Free! Convert any media file format (Documents, Images, Audio, Video & Archives) without buying or installing anything on your PC

All you do is upload a file, tell it what format you want it converted to, and it’ll email you with a download link when it’s done. Of course, there are limits to what it can do — MS Publisher files are out of bounds for some reason (Zamzar will do .pub files) — and you certainly don’t want it converting something that contains sensitive or personal information. But for that oddball file that gets emailed to you that you can’t open or convert on your own, it’s great.

And it doesn’t just convert files; if you see a video online, whether it’s on YouTube or just in a weird format, and want to be able to download a copy, just go to YouConvertIt.com’s Video Conversion page; paste the link to the video you want converted, and click the button. In a short while you’ll get an email with a download link. Very slick.

And that’s not all; there’s a separate section that does just unit conversions. Granted, the interface is a little clunky and I can do the same thing and probably more quickly with the Calculator that comes with OS X, but for those times when I need to convert something that Calculator doesn’t handle (like a parsec, which is 19,161,519,629,164.8 miles), it’s pretty darned helpful.

Psystar — On Its Way!

Filed under: Computers,Psystar Open — Tags: , , — dave @ 12:14 am

Yes indeed, it’s really happening. On Wednesday I got a confirmation email from Psystar with a valid UPS tracking number. It’ll be delivered by May 5 (feliz Cinco de Mayo!)

confirmation_480px.jpg

Huzzah!

As cool as that is, I’m certainly not the first to get one; several people have already received the machines they ordered, and one guy sent video and photos to Gizmodo. It’s been a bit funny — yet sobering — reading through posts and comments on Gizmodo; the initial posts were pretty skeptical in nature, and only fueled my own skepticism, but now the tone has changed to disdain for those silly enough to actually purchase one of the machines. Many of the comments are tainted with a base hatred of anything Mac, which is to be expected from that crowd.

I knew up front that buying this machine would be a shot in the dark, and bought it with a Plan B that would put the purchased OS and hardware to work in different roles in the event that they couldn’t be effectively used together. Another article at Gizmodo has a good list of reasons to avoid buying a Mac OS machine from Psystar, and although many of their reasons are very valid, I had considered most of them before buying. The one that will keep this machine out of graphics production is the inability to use Software Update, and the inability to do a reinstall. Oh well. On to Plan B.

But then the reported noise level issue may make even Plan B unworkable, so a Plan C may be needed — putting the hardware into a server role of some sort, or swapping out fans or power supply. But then again, it seems that Psystar is reacting fairly rapidly to customer concerns, so it may well be that this won’t be an issue with mine.

We’ll see.