Tinkerer

Every time there’s a new version of Windows I try it for a while, then inevitably end up removing Windows in favor of Linux. I had already put Ubuntu on my Acer Aspire V5, dual booting within a day or two of getting the laptop. After 3 months of really giving Windows 8.1 a daily trial, I finally had enough. Windows is out again, and Linux remains.

Ubuntu 14.04 with the Unity desktop worked 99.9% out of the box on the Aspire V5.  The touch screen, the wireless adapter, graphics, function keys for volume, brightness, etc… Everything worked. The .1% leftover, would be because it only worked that well in Ubuntu Unity. Using Gnome Classic, Gnome Shell, or KDE, the touch screen doesn’t work… It acknowledges a ‘touch’ with an arrow or a ripple, but that’s all. Can’t open or close a window. Can’t start an app. So, until I’m ready to tinker with it, I’ll hang with Unity desktop on Ubuntu. I’ve used worse.

Update 8/20/2014 — Apparently, if I start Chrome with ‘Touch’ (my finger), it continues in touch mode after that. Scrolling, links, etc… all work.  If I start Chrome by the mouse or touchpad click, then touch has no effect.  Same in KDE or Gnome. Go figure.

BFG Shack

There comes a time in a man’s life when he must break free from the constraints of a shared garage, to be able to spread tools and projects at will, without fear of his ‘work-in-progress’ being “put away” by his wife to who knows where.

There also comes a time in a man’s life when his wife says, “That’s it, I’ve had it! Build your doggone shop and get all this crap out of here so I can park my car in the garage again like a civilized person!” Or something to that effect.

So, the BFG Shack P1000664is born. I chose a loft design, 320 square feet on the lower level, 7 foot ceiling, and 320 feet on the upper level, lofted ceiling about 9 feet. The plan is to put the motorcycles in the bottom floor, so I’ve had that built double thick, 2 x 3/4 plywood for 1.5″ total. It is really solid.

The upper level will be for my daily work office, my mini-studio, and generally geek type stuff. Of course I’ll have to have power, air conditioning and heat.

The work started Monday, February 10th. Tuesday and Wednesday it rained, but they picked back up today. We’re actually both looking forward to this, as Wendy will not only gain the garage back, but also the room I’ve been using as an office. More to come…

Fast Forward Another Year

Working lateAnother year, so fast. I’m working late tonight, really late, but it’s OK.  I am just so grateful to have a good job, that I actually enjoy.  I do hope I’m fortunate enough to keep it until I retire.

Be good to us all, 2014.

 

 

Gadgety Goodness

Ever since Canon introduced the Powershot S90 in 2009, I’ve longed to get my hands on one of these.  Smaller than my wallet, but it still has all the manual control of a full DSLR and can shoot raw. Each year it got better, the S95, S100, then the S110, and S120.  When the S120 came out, the price on the S110 went down, then with a Best Buy sale combined with my award points and a gift card, I was able to get the S110 for a great price.  The S110 adds a touch screen and WIFI to the original camera, as well as a faster processor and a few other perks. I am really looking forward to shooting with this camera, and I think I’ll end up using it quite a bit.

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Motorcycle Parking at Barbers

Last Saturday Wendy and I met Andy at the Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham for the Barber Vintage Festival. The number of motorcycles there was overwhelming to say the least. I’ve since read that there were 67000+ in attendance, 22% more than last year. I have never seen more motorcycles in one place, and I suspect you’d have to go to Sturgis or Bike week to see anything similar. I think there were about 15,000 – 20,000 motorcycles. Unreal.

Motorcycle Parking was at a real premium. I’d estimate there was at least a mile of motorcycles parked side by side, sometimes several rows deep. Some were really pristine – some rat bikes. All wonderful in their own way.

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Friends and Motorcycles

Last week my buddy Andy had a tumble on his new Valkyrie, and a broken collar bone to show for it. he being unable to ride, his new ride being in the shop, a trip to Rome was in order.

I planned out a nice route to Rome, Georgia, following the western border between Georgia and Alabama.  The plan was to meet Sam for breakfast at 0730, at the Waffle House in Phenix City.  So far so good.  In the parking lot preparing to leave, Sam decides to adjust the idle on his motorcycle. My back is turned, but I hear that unmistakable, loud, cringe inducing crunch, of the Gold Wing falling over. Not just over on it’s engine guards, but over beyond that, crushing the mirror and spilling oil like a shipwrecked tanker.  Sam thought it was in neutral when he hit the start button, while standing on the wrong side of the bike. It didn’t just fall over, it threw itself down!  I had an instant reaction of “HOLY SH__!” as I spun on my heels and took in the scene.

After righting the fallen ‘Wing, we brushed it off and headed out.  Once on the road, I wondered why I didn’t get a photo? I think that the look his Gold Wing wheels up was just so freaky that I rushed to help before I thought about it.

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My planned route was all two lane roads, county roads that are less traveled.  Anytime I come upon a sign “No Thru Trucks” I know the road goes through to somewhere and it’s probably a shortcut truckers would take if they were allowed. A lot of these are like that. About 12 miles up the first stretch, we come to a “road closed” sign. Looking ahead into the valley I can see the top of a crane.  No doubt bridge work.  There was no warning previously, no detour signs.WP_20130921_09_07_48_Pro__highres

There was a small road turning right by the “road closed” sign that said “No Thru Trucks”.  Good enough. But first, I have to see if the bridge might be passable…  if so, it could save time.WP_20130921_09_08_52_Pro__highresWP_20130921_09_09_54_Pro__highres

I slip around the sign, and carefully wind my way around the heavy equipment.  Turns out the bridge would only be passable if I could keep the bike on a 10 inch beam, and jump a 40 foot section.   Not today. Before we left, we spotted a ‘lions den’, so this is now an official adventure ride. Back to the “No Thru Trucks” route we go. This road goes about one mile east of the bridge, then a stop sign as it t-bones into another road. Turn left, head north around the bridge.  A mile up the road a farmer on a 1970′s tractor, watched us intently as we passed slowly by. It was as if he was amazed a motorcycle would come that way. Then I saw the sign, “Pavement Ends”.  Damn.  No biker likes gravel roads, but I wasn’t about to turn back 12 or 13 miles.  I press on.  My ’83 Wing is handling it very well though, and there are no deep ruts, no washes, no deep gravel.  Just dusty.  After about 8 miles of gravel we came out on a state road, turned left, and had successfully made our own detour around the bridge.  As I said – this was an adventure ride.

Then it started raining.  The rain was with us for 140 of the 160 miles to Rome. Light at first, steadily increasing. I learned that short windshields on a ‘Wing suck.  I vow to buy an oversized windshield.  I wonder as we ride, is there a way to install a windshield wiper?

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As we get farther north, fog accompanies the rain, and farther along, wind gusts literally blow me left and right.

We finally make it, only 45 minutes or so late despite the detour and the rain. Andy has hot coffee ready… mmm. As soon as I dry out, it’s time to pick up the Valkyrie and ride it 20 miles back to his house – in the rain.  Even in the rain though, it was a pleasure to drive.

The ride home later that night was dry, smooth, fast, and uneventful. Except for the drug deal I saw going down in the Church’s Chicken parking lot. Second one I’ve seen this week.  It just makes me sad.  I’m a fortunate person to have avoided that scene – but thats another story.  Suffice it to say – thank God for friends and motorcycles!

Miles for the day – 347

 

Real Beauty is in the Experience

Why would anyone pass on the comfort of a climate controlled car equipped with several forms of entertainment, to ride in the open air and elements? Because riding in the open air and elements IS the entertainment. The level of entertainment is controlled by your right wrist… from relaxing to exhilarating, and everything in between.

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A Technicians Parable

A carpenter was called to repair a window. When the job was complete, the owner tested it and found all to be satisfactory. The next day the owner called the carpenter. “Ever since you fixed the window, my faucet started leaking. What did you do? When can you come and fix that?”

And that is why I stopped repairing other peoples computers.

JÄGER Transistor Radio

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I picked up this transistor radio from one of the local Goodwill stores. It is in excellent condition and works great! I have tried to locate anything I could on the company that made it, to no avail. I can’t find any information on any company named JÄGER that made radios, Beare Design Collection, or any radio with Model BR-880. I did find one other JÄGER here.

Because of the LCD Clock, I think this radio was produced in the late 70′s.  I like the design. It has a hard cover that slides onto the back to prop the radio up for desk or tabletop use. With the cover off completely, it will fill a shirt pocket, but it will fit.  The controls are solid and not fiddly, and hold their position well.

I need to find a battery for the clock, but the radio works perfectly and has good sound, better than any cell phone or tablet speakers for sure.

This is the very reason I troll thrift stores every now and then.

First Rides

Sometime in high school, 9th grade I think, I convinced my best friend to let me ride his Honda Mini-Trail 70. We were at my house on Victoria Drive, a sizable backyard which unbeknownst to me, would prove to be too small.

I got on the bike, eased it forward. This was easy! I went faster, and faster! Cool! Wait – theres the fence and I have to turn – can’t turn – oh no – how do I stop – what did John say? Too late! CRASH – Through the chain link fence went the CT70, while I hung by my neck on the top bar of the fence, two wire prongs puncturing my neck in a (thankfully) harmless position other than a little blood.

John jumped the fence to check the bike, understandably upset, but as usual forgiving. That had not gone as well as I’d hoped, but I got the taste and I wanted more.

“No” said my dad.  “Too much money, insurance is too expensive, you’re not careful enough”.  I was somewhat surprised because of his tall tales of riding an Indian Chief in the late 40′s and early 50′s. He told me he loved riding and regretted not keeping a bike, but it was just not responsible or practical for him while raising a family as a military career man. I did understand but was disappointed nonetheless.

Perhaps that’s why I jumped at the opportunity to buy a motorcycle on my own shortly after Air Force basic training.

My first ride on that Yamaha RD400 would be the first ride since my Mini-Trail crash. When I threw my leg over that bike on the road right outside of Caribou Ranch, I exuded confidence on the outside, but my mind was racing with thoughts of my previous ride and crash.  I’d had a long time to think about that first experience and I knew what I did wrong – I had panicked. Riding a motorcycle was easy I reasoned – millions do it successfully every day.  Nothing to fear here.  In my head I had played out this test drive I knew I would take, practicing it mentally. Now the time came.  Relax – DON’T PANIC! – Keep calm, ride on.

I eased the clutch out (I learned to drive with a manual shift car) and started down the road.  I sped up slowly.  Shifted to 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.  Perfect!  I slowed down, downshifting, matching rpms to what I anticipated the engine would want on the downshift.  I pulled over, stopped.  Revving the engine a little, I felt much better.  A slow speed u-turn was pretty easy on this light bike, then acceleration and back to where I started.  Success.

First rides are something to remember. Oh yeah.