Friday, December 11, 2009

Asus EEE 1005HA review Pt 3

So far I've had the 1005HA for about a month and I am pleased with it after the initial power supply problem. The replacement power supply is holding up very well though sometimes I find that it and the netbook get pretty warm. I've left XP on the system though I am being careful with what sites I visit. I've tossed a bunch of my tools such as Groovy, IntelliJ (I'm real happy with the 8.1 IntelliJ editor on Linux and Windows - woo-hoo, 9.0 was just announced). The primary use of the netbook has been browsing the internet, reading my books, a little multimedia and light application use. Video is choppy but that happens on all my machines so it's probably an access problem (too much latency?). Over all I am very pleased with the unit. The battery really does last a long time (6+ hours) when put into the correct mode. Hopefully I won't need to have any service done in it as that seems to be Asus's weak point.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

And life goes on ...

No, no one in my life has died but I've been very busy. In August I finished my BS degree and my employer has informed me that I need more which means a MS. Basically they want more of an engineering degree with 16 university level math credits, at least 8 science credits and a curriculum that has that as a pre-requisite. I'm looking at Pace University and NJIT. I like what I see with NJIT and I'll be attending a Graduate Open House there in a week. In addition to putting me in the whole for an addition $40K I need to get 8 additional math credits (Calc III and Statistics and 8 science credits to replace my college level course). I'll need to study for the Graduate Placement Exam which I should pass but I am nervous about. I may also need to review the GRE. Overall I am excited about learning.

I have been busy riding my bike. I've actually written several blog entries but I never posted them. The new Giant TCR Advanced frame is fantastic! I've slowed a bit because my ribs still hurt at various times. I think I cracked a few rib and maybe my shoulder. They really get sore with weather changes but are fine the rest of the time. I've been using my lighting system to get out and ride. It's fun riding at night but it's a bit hard to find low traffic areas to ride in.

Lastly, I've had my first experience with bad internet business service from Nostalgia Films ( I will never do any business with them ever again! Since October 31st I've attempted to contact them about an order I've placed. I have not received it and I have not received any reply to any of my emails (I've tried 3 different email addresses). They claimed to have filled the order pretty fast but that was the last I've heard from them. They use Yahoo Store to accept orders but I've been unable to issue a complaint to Yahoo Store also. So I won't be doing business with any more Yahoo Store businesses either (what good are they, they provide for reassurance). So if you are interested in doing business with Nostalgia Films I recommend you don't.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Crash! Owie!

Well now I've gone and done it, I crashed Wednesday night. Yes it was my fault. Basically what happened was I accelerated hard, looked back at traffic when I looked up my friend in front of me went left, I went right and rode into the path of a large I beam. I was probably doing 20 mph and somehow I walked away with only minor damage. The bike, on the other hand, cracked. That night I didn't notice the damage as it was hard to see and rode home 10 - 15 miles. But in the bright of day it was found. So it's now in the shop getting an estimate for the repairs. Oddly enough the front wheel sustained no damage (no cracks in the rim, spokes or hub), stayed true and the tired didn't burst. As for me, well I flipped off the bike (I went completely over the handle bars and did a flip). My helmet cracked and I'm surprised it didn't shatter as I hit the ground hard. I skid on my helmet and Camelbak of a brief distance and landed on my ... butt. :-) I compressed my chest pretty hard and was in a lot of pain. When I finally stopped I was in a great deal of pain. I took inventory of the damage (start at the toes and work your way up), waited a while for the adrenaline to subside and determined that I actually survived relatively unscathed. I'm one lucky rider! My sternum still hurts (sore when I sneeze), a few neck and back muscles are slightly sore, my knuckles are scabbed now (dang I'm a knuckle dragger :-/ ) and I did not sustain a concussion (I've had plenty and know what they feel like). Oh, I also shattered the screen on my cell phone, which was in my Camelbak. The ride back home was interesting my friend and I laughed a lot (which hurt like hell when he made me laugh too hard) but I was grateful to be alive!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Finally some nice weather!

It has been a rotten June and start to July! It's rain almost every day, many with thunderstorms. So finally this Saturday (July 4 20009) it was gorgeous (well it was windy but I'll take it anyway), sunny and mid-70's. We rode from Cranbury to Brielle. I was tired of visiting the Pine Barrens and we hadn't been down the shore this year. Technically we weren't down the shore yet as the shore traffic is dangerous once the summer season opens and we weren't going to play in that kind of traffic. Anyway, Mark and I decided to keep it short and not do a century as neither of us had been on the bike since the Longest Day ride (206.5 miles @ 17.5 mph avg). We also decided not to bust it like we usually try to do. When we hit the Manasquann rails-to-trails path it was full of tons of people (it's very popular). We had to be careful as there we lots of kids and dogs. There were several large groups of non-club cyclists who were all over the place. made the ride interesting but like I said we weren't busting it so no big deal. Our return ride was just as interesting the trail traffic was still busy as it was the first nice day in over a month and the 4th of July weekend. For Mark and myself we had to do battle with a head wind. Summer winds in NJ are generally out of the West when it's warm and this was no exception. The difference here was that it was quite strong. I probably should have gone to Ringo but I need to hit a bike shop and Brielle Cyclery is one of the best. Overall it was an excellent ride.

On the subject of Brielle Cyclery, I must say it's really is one of the best shops I've been to. I needed a new cluster as I had worn out the current one. I also thought I needed a new front ring as the chain was shot and I had ignored it since early June. I put the chain on two months earlier and I must have put on a lot more miles than I thought as I wore out a new chain and a rear tire (also put on with the chain). Anyway the gentleman from the shop took a look at my bike (outside) while the place was packed and busy. He told me just the chain and cluster would need replacing. He could have sold me the ring but told me I didn't need it. He said they probably last a lot longer than I thought. He was very polite and helpful. We spoke of the saddle as he's a Brooks user too. and the radical setup I have (nose down, handle bars lower than the nose). I told him it was very comfortable for me (yes it's weird). Brielle will be getting a lot more of my business in the future.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Leading up to the CJBC's Longest Day ride

The last few weeks have been interesting. Last year, around this time I was dealing with leg problems that were scary. I was pushing a pace of around 18.3 mph over 120 miles (a flat route). By about mile 110 I could no longer push up an over pass (South Jersey mountains ;-). I had no strength at all. I'm not talking about the lack of snap you may have towards the end of a long ride, I mean had nothing! At the start of the month I had a little scare on a century training ride when I managed to keep pace until mile 90. I had been off the bike for two weeks and played catch up just days before. This year my scare turned out to be rather minor. It was my diet, I bonked. Since then I've been pushing the pace and chasing cyclists late in our long rides (phew!).

Last week my friends (Gina and Mark) and I rode from Cranbury to Batsto then Tabernacle and home again. It was a nasty ride. Gina's tires were low for the first 40 miles so she was beat up. It was warm and windy. So windy that we had yellow/green fog (pollen) in the Barrens (great for making it difficult to breath). I was hot but we couldn't tell because of the wind and as usual it was humid in the Barrens. The Chatsworth to Batsto section (20 miles) was into a decent head wind. Then the ride back up Rt 206 from Hammington to Taberbacle was just plain nasty (too much traffic and high speed). The only good thing to come out of the ride was that we checked a good portion of the Longest Day route route, we determined that Rt 206 is no longer an option for this ride and that it was a great training ride. It was great for training because it was a ride from hell, we survived and we we experienced everything one would expect on the Longest Day ride. Oh and most importantly, we survived.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I am an odd individual

Today I came to an odd realization. I am an odd individual. I Work in a place with lots of brilliant people but few have an interest in the curriculum they took in school. Is this what lone inventors and mad scientist feel like? Yes I have a lab at home and yes I build experiments. I've asked my colleagues and none of them have any interest in conducting experiments. Maybe it's because my they have families or that they really weren't that interested in what they took in school, I don't know. I do know that it makes me somewhat lonely individual when it comes to having others to share my ideas with in a face to face manner. I have no one to bounce ideas off, argue with or share discussions with. I know I have the Internet and there are chat rooms, forums and newsgroup but sometimes you just need to have whiteboard discussion face to face.

Of course, this feeling sorry for myself maybe due to the fact that I'm stressed and exhausted from school, work and the economy. But they will each resolve themselves in time. :-) Now if I can just get the weather to cooperate I'll be able to get out and ride a few centuries (100 miles).

Sunday, February 22, 2009

It's February and that's not a bad commute

On Tuesday (Feb 17) I rode to work. Unfortunately it was on my older Trek 1100. My nice Giant TCR3 snapped a cable. Odd, I've put a lot of miles on my other bikes and not broken a cable this soon (2 years, about +10K miles). Right now the cable end is stuck in the STI but the STI is still working. I'll take the STI off the bike and put new cables on the bikes (brake and shifter). The Trek needs a bit of work too as it's not shifting as smoothly as it should but it worked well enough for a ride back and forth to work. I was going to leave before dawn (around 5 AM) that way I could use my new lights. But I ran into some problems and need to do a little work to the Trek before I could leave. So I postponed my ride until later and stay at work until 9PM. So I got to use my lights anyway. I was really surprised at the level of traffic at that time of night (it was lot). The good news was that I was well lit (two read blinking on my Camelbak and the Niterider MiNewt,X2 Dual on the front). Oddly enough it was easier to climb in the dark because I really couldn't see the top of the climbs. The ride in was sunny but it was a bit colder than I had dressed for so my chest was cold for the entire ride. On the way home I dressed more appropriately. I thought I might have been a bit too warm but as the temperatures continued to drop (22F when I arrived home) it wasn't a problem. I'll do it again next week but I'm hoping that I'll have the Giant this time. It looks like I'll only be able to squeeze in a single day of commuting as the weather doesn't look to cooperating.

I was going to go out and ride tonight but the wind is howling and I'll have more than the 10% increase for the week. So I'll just stay warm indoors tonight. ;-)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A few places to visit

In a few weeks my bike rides will start to stretch out the mileage so I can start training for the Longest Day (and possibly a new Princeton Freewheeler Double Century ride). In the mean time I still need to lead winter rides, a time for building a base. My friend Mark suggested that I keep it to less than 50 miles as I hadn't been riding for the last three weeks, I just got over the flu and my chest is pretty much congested. So I came up with a Mid-Winter's Ride (54 miles). It includes sections I normally do when I do lunch time rides or late night rides. Seeing how I'm going to start commuting to work I won't get much time for those and still get what I need to do for the day. I chose the route just so I can visit some different places. Now I probably should have listened to Mark's advice on the ride length but I wanted to ride. I knew it would push me past my limits (0 miles for the past 3 weeks, a jump to 80+ miles this week, and not so good lungs). Every thing felt fine until the last few miles where my lungs were sore (that's not good). It didn't help that my cable snapped for my rear derailleur (early in the ride) and I was stuck with a two speed. Still it was a nice ride and my lungs feel much better today (as long as I don't laugh ;-).

The weather for the week looks like I'll be able to commute to work on Tuesday (20 miles each way) but I'll probably only be able to do a late night ride on Thursday night. Next Saturday looks to be more of the same , cold, possible snow. I may plan out a metric but I'm not sure. If I can't lead Saturday I'll do another group ride on Sunday. Possibly ride to and from the group ride to get my additional miles. So next week I hope to have more than 100 miles for the week. Not bad for February! :-)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It's February and it's 68F in NJ!

I managed to get out and ride today at lunch time. The weather was beautiful! It's been 3 weeks since my last ride. Last week I was in Houston for training so no riding there. Here it was as low as 8F (at night). So I took this day as one of those little gifts you get from time to time. It was only slightly windy, but it was a warm wind. I rode in shorts and it felt great! The rest of the week looks to be less nice but much better than 8F. :-) I may sneak out for a few more ride before Saturday's club ride.

For those that are curious this was my router: Old Bridge - Jamesburg - State Home.

Some items of note. I'm seeing that some of the general public has forgotten how to share the road (pass and leave 3 ft between your vehicle and the cyclist, pass only when it's safe and you have a clear view of the road ahead). A number of folks in those large high end vehicles seem incapable of crossing the yellow line when passing a cyclist (hence leaving less than 3ft.) with no traffic approaching. The folks with smaller vehicles and 18 wheelers have no trouble (???). I want to thank the person in the black Corvette for the polite double honk before passing (no really) and the appropriate room as they passed (nice!). Technically nothing unusual other than the polite and correct motorist. Still it was a good day to ride.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Random babblings ...

I'm currently in the middle of training to learn how to install AT&T's U-verse TV, Telephone and Internet service. There's a lot of hard work that goes into putting this service in and a lot to remember. Though I may never actually have to install anything (I'm training as U-verse Technician as part of a strike contingency plan) I have found a new respect for the amount of work these tech's have to do. I took an online test where I had to replace the existing cable providers equipment and I was terribly confused as my cable installation consists of nothing more than a drop wire, a splitter, the set top box and my cable modem. The installation lacked a proper ground wire (I hooked one up to my incoming water pipe). Having learned what it takes to install the service properly I'll be taking care cleaning up the DeMarc in my home. I also happen to need to clean the connectors because the transmit power my cable modem is using is 54db (3db too high). That can't be good.

So far I've learned a lot and I've enjoyed the class. I was also payed an indirect comment when the instructor commented that I'm 'an engineer, aren't you?'. Well four more training classes and I'll be back home. I'm looking forward to picking up some new tools (I'm buying them) that I've used while in training.

And, finally, I'm training in the Houston area and I've found the people to be friendly they tend to drive a bit less aggressive than they do in NJ (though I've seen a few nuts, fewer than in NJ). Also the traffic is a bit heavier than where I live with lot of new construction going on. The weather has been very nice, usually hitting the high 70's. The other night I saw a 'boomer' (thunderstorm clouds) that were bigger than anything I saw back in NJ. In NJ those would have sent me to hide in the basement. The light show (lightening) was impressive. My wife tells me that she just got 4 inches of slushy snow. The weather prediction for Saturday, in NJ, is a high in the low 50's. Anyway it will be nice to be back home. :-)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Whither the librarians ...

This semester I have a course on 'Mass Media' and I'm learning a little about the Internet, social sites, blogs and other other topics related to Media and Mass Media. One of the things that the Internet has brought us is information. Huge amounts of it.Heck, we're drowning in it. It's a conspiracy junkies delight as now they have 'proof' that we never reached the moon, the earth is flat and many other topics that they (loosely) keep under their tin hats. Within a few minutes, using any search engine, I can probably get a dozen different pages that say a dozen different things about any particular topic. When all is said and done how do I know what is right and what is wrong? In the past you could generally trust books in the library because they were a bit expensive and difficult to produce (try writing a book some time and you'll know what I mean). Today anyone can, and will, write on any topic, without fact checking and declare themselves a fountain of useful information. It used to be that when we wanted to research material we went to the research librarian (not the lady behind the main desk sorting books) to get help doing research. Not today, we now have Google and a dozen different search engines but we basically can't trust the information that's presented to us. From my class I've learned that librarians want to come up with a new system. One that will again put the librarians' talent to use and hopefully bring some renewed level of trust back to the information we need. Hopefully my class will go into further detail. Maybe, when I have to write a term paper, that can be the topic of my paper. Outside this class I don't have time to look up such information as my interests lie with other topics that need as much of my attention as does this class. Someone has to help rebuild the level of trust in the information we use to make decisions on a daily basis. Lets face it information is the new currency.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Testing out my new MiNewt.X2 Dual lights

Last night (Jan. 23, 2009) I finally got a chance to use my new lights. :-) It was warm (40F) and it was dark. I decided to ride over to a road that is hideously potholed, no street or house lights, and the forest on either side is far enough away that it can't be use as a reference. So I took off, rode this section road in both directions and found a reasonable smooth path to ride on (good to know for my commute home). The pair of lights, set as I have them, worked great! I'm very pleased with the lights.

For Christmas I received these new lights. I was looking for something that would last at least an hour (hi: 1:45, Lo: 3:30) and recharge in less than 8 hours (my work day). This would allow me to ride my bike to work before dawn and ride home after sunset. It will also allow me to take my older sets of lights and modify the setup to use newer halogen bulbs and an over voltage battery setup (more on that at a later date). I did a little searching on the 'net and found that the overall review of the Nite Rider MiNewt.X2 Dual setup was favorable. So that's what I got.

Back to last night, So I rush to get out, I got dressed, put water in the Camelbak and I'm outside with my bike and I put the lights on, I push and hold the button and the lights barely get any light. I turn them off and I push and hold the button longer, it now blinks but barely lights, I fidget with the lights for 15 - 20 minutes, Nada! So I take the lights in the house and fidget some more. What I've found since I first received these lights was that I had to push and hold the button for about 3 seconds, then the lights begin to flash brightly (I feel that I'm about to have a seizure when it first starts) once they start blinking I can release the button and push it a second time to get it stay on high and steady. Push it again and it drops to low and steady. Any more button pushing toggles between high and low. Today I tried simply hitting the button and releasing it quickly and it works. Tomorrow I'll try it out in the cold again to see if it was me or the lights (I suspect it was me).

Once I got over the initial problem I had to adjust the lights to put down a nice beam on the road. I chose to put the left beam center and closer to the tire (about 10 - 15 feet). The right beam was aimed a little further forward and slightly left. This worked out nicely. Some of the roads in my area suffer greatly from potholes, cracks and some would make the cobble stone roads of Belgium and France seem smooth. The lights did a real nice job of lighting these surfaces. I was available to avoid the potholes without slowing down.

Update: Jan 25, 2009 - Looks like the battery I have has some kind of problem. I have a second one (don't ask) and it works properly. I'll send the bad unit back to Performance and get it replaced.