Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The collected bicycle wisdom of JWZ

JWZ is one of the original developers on the Mozilla Firefox project, and this is a collection of his "bicycle wisdoms" for anyone looking to become a commuter in the San Francisco are (thanks to Jay for finding this one for me). JWZ's blog can be found here (note: it's "interesting" to navigate).

The Collected JWZ bicycle wisdom:

I posted most of this as a comment in someone else's LJ who was thinking of buying a bike, but perhaps it is of more general interest.

I've been using a bike as my exclusive transportation in SF for about ten years. I've always ridden, but that's when I stopped driving a car except under extreme duress.

Here's how to begin your adventure as a commuter-bicyclist in San Francisco:

  1. Never take bike advice from anyone who owns bike shorts, clip shoes, a messenger bag, or a fixie. That's like taking car advice from someone who enjoys rebuilding carburetors.

(Update: If you are this person, you need not reply with your indignant "corrections". You are not the person to whom this advice is addressed.)

  1. "City bikes" and "road bikes" are designed for some Jetsons-slick hypothetical future city that I've never seen. Or maybe for the bike paths in Los Altos or something. Here in real cities, roads are shit, and if you want your wheels and tires to survive curbs and potholes, you need a hybrid. They're a little heavier and a little slower. Are you racing? No? Then you don't care.
  2. So, get the cheapest hybrid you can stand. Shocks are a waste of money. You should be able to get a pretty nice brand new hybrid for $370 or so. You can probably get a used one for a hundred bucks.
  3. If you feel like you want a lighter bike so that it's easier to carry up stairs: don't bother. That's optimizing the wrong thing. You'll get used to it (by which I mean: become stronger).
  4. Get a bike that's the right size for you, and has properly adjusted handlebars and seat. The shop will adjust it for you. If they won't, or if they tell you it doesn't matter, go to a different shop.
  5. Get a u-lock. Lock through the frame and the back wheel. Your bike will be stolen, so don't get too attached to it. This also means, don't waste your money on junk like baskets and lights. Just get a backpack.
  6. I always replace my front wheel and seat quick-releases with $2 worth of hardware store bolts, and then bend the ends over. This might have some negligible effect on theft. I refuse to be one of those people who lugs around 3 chains and disassembles their bike every time they park, so that's the trade-off I make.
  7. The bike-nerd at the bike shop will try to give you smooth, high-pressure (110psi+) tires, because they are more efficient. But if you don't air them up weekly or more often, you'll get pinch-flats every time you hit a pothole, which is always. Also, the gas station air pumps often only go up to 60psi anyway. Get knobby low-pressure (60-80psi) tires and they'll last a lot longer. (If you do end up with stupid tires, you might want to get one of these.)
  8. Likewise, make sure the tubes you get have the kind of connectors that the gas station air pumps take. Bike shop nerds like to fuck you with goofy connectors sometimes, out of sheer mean-spiritedness.
  9. Bike maintenance: don't do it, ever. It's not worth your time. Just take it to the shop. Getting them to replace a flat for you costs $20 and takes 10 minutes, including the tube, and you don't get dirty.
  10. Safety: I follow the Zodiac approach: always assume the cars can see you perfectly, and are trying to kill you. If an intersection seems iffy, use the sidewalk and crosswalks. If big streets like Market and Van Ness freak you out, there are always less traficky ways to go, or just stay on the sidewalks.
  11. Grocery shopping: yes, you really can do it with a single backpack. The trick is, shop small once a week instead of big once a month.
  12. If you try to dangle bags on your handlebars, you will die.
  13. Cross train and trolley tracks at a 45° angle or more or you will die.
  14. You really do need to tuck in or roll up your right leg. (You won't die, but you'll shred your pants.)
  15. You don't need to ride up Haight. Take Fell or Fulton and then go through the Panhandle.
  16. The City is only 7 miles across. Nothing is as far away as you think it is.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Kama Sutra for IT people

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Oh Puppah....

This morning Big Bear decided he was going to test me. He always seems to get into trouble when I'm in the shower. Its like he's pissed that Sara left, and I'm still home but ignoring him. He's tore up alot of crap while I've been in the shower; hats, garbages, shirts, pants, etc. Every time it happens, we figure its the last time since its usually months between.

Well, today Tardface McShitbiscuits decides that my damn near brand new Blackberry Curve is the object of his affection and went to town. Here is a poor picture of part of the carnage:

I apologize for the poor quality of the picture, but it was taken with said Blackberry, and one of his teeth cracked the camera lens, significantly reducing its picture quality. I love my dog man, but it took every ounce of restraint I had to not let him have it. He ate my favorite, irreplaceable hat and I let it go. He ate my favorite belt and I let it go, so on and so forth. Oh well.

Update 5/15/08: Well, I thought the actual functional parts of the Blackberry had escaped all the damage (other than cosmetic) but it looks like its done for. It just started going into SOS mode over and over. Not good.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Some geekery for you

You guys probably all know I'm an IT guy. We deal with a lot of security stuff, and I'm our primary anti-virus administrator, so work with AV software daily. Managing alot of machines in an enterprise environment means very different requirements than what you would generally use at home, but you always need some sort of anti-virus protection. Back in the day, you could probably just get away with common sense, but now malware has evolved into a whole different beast. There is a whole gray area between spyware and actual viruses, but even spyware these days is a very serious threat as most of it will install keyloggers and other nasties that jack your personal info.

As far as anti-virus clients go, the best I've used is a product called Nod32 from ESET, which is a paid, premium product. There are alot of free anti-virus software packages around too, of which Avast and AVG are two of the most popular (there is another called Avira that is good too). I've used them all, and AVG has always been my favorite because it is very very light on system resources (doesn't slow your pc down). AVG has always been pretty basic, but more than adequate for me. The truth is that when I work on peoples computers, 70-80% of them have whatever client was included when they bought it (Norton or Mcafee) and they've never paid to continue after the trial, so it hasn't been updated in forever which is just as bad as having nothing. AVG is a good option as its free and updates every day.

AVG has changed its game a little though. With version 7.x it was still a basic AV package. They just released 8.0 and totally redid the works. It now includes alot of other features that newer "internet security" software packages have (anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-rootkit, etc). I was really excited about it, until I used it. It has this feature called "linkscanner" that actually goes out ahead of you and scans whatever links you click on to make sure they're legit. This is excellent on paper, but in real life it slowed browsing down alot. To top it off, when you disable it, you get to look at a big red exclamation point on the tray icon, letting you know that something is broken (masking any other issues that you could be alerted to). Lots of people have been complaining that you can't uninstall linkscanner, or configure it to not install when you install AVG. I have found a solution.

AVG is building the options to disable linkscanner into the next revision, but until then, this is how you can install the package without it.

1) Download AVG 8.0 and save it to the ROOT of your c: drive (c:\). Click here to download.
2) Highlight the text below, right click and select Copy:

c:\avg_free_stf_en_8_100a1295.exe /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSurf /REMOVE_FEATURE fea_AVG_SafeSearch

3) Click Start, then Run.
4) Right click in the box, select Paste to enter the above text, hit Ok.

The installation will run as normal, but will not install Linkscanner.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Old school tv find

I don't know how many of you grew up on Macgyver like me, but I made a pretty sweet discovery today. Apparently you can watch every episode of Macgyver ever on!!!! If you want to partake, click HERE.

Friday, May 02, 2008