Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Pelotonnage

May 6, 2020

The actual outdoors. No instructors shouting at you. Free of charge.

I’m having trouble fitting into The New Weird Order.

The idea of spending $2,245 for a Peloton bike plus $39 per month for online classes*, so I can stay fit for … for. …

For what, exactly?

“Enjoying” a long and healthy life spent indoors, never more than a few steps from a screen?

I guess if the auto industry gets another bailout, as seems likely, these folks — the ones with all the money, anyway — will be able to have their “outside” and their screens at the same time.

* Incidentally, if you already own a bike, and you must do your cycling indoors, you can spend a few hundy on a stationary trainer or a set of rollers and join the free community of voices in your head.

So, 12 monkeys walk into an Earth Day. …

April 22, 2020

“What’s wonderful about the air, James?”
“Very fresh. No germs.”

They tell me today is Earth Day, and indeed, it seems we still have one.

An earth, that is. No thanks to us.

Yesterday I bicycled out to inspect the property and it looked pretty a’ight from just below the intersection of Tramway Road and Juniper Hill Road.

It probably helps that fewer people are motoring pointlessly around and about lately. I only start the Subie every other Wednesday, for purposes of replenishing the pantry. Though I did take the Vespa out for a spin yesterday, too (sorry about that).

The Mad Dog Media Entertainment Complex, featuring a Toshiba TV from 2008; a Mac Mini from mid-2010 (right); and an Apple TV from 2012 (left).

Today I celebrated Earth Day by not spending $150 on a new Apple TV box. HBO Now is dropping its support for older Apple TVs like ours (third generation), and so it was either buy a new one; try AirPlaying HBO Nowto the old box from an iOS device; or use the Mac Mini to stream the sonofabitch.

The last would have been easiest, if the wee beastie weren’t running an OS from 2013 (Mavericks). That dog won’t hunt, sez HBO Now. You gotta have Yosemite at bare minimum, and either Chrome or Firefox (ixnay on the Afarisay).

So I burned a little daylight this morning getting all those ducks in a row. If you monkeys smell smoke, well, that’s why. Ook ook ook.

Looking west from the foothills on Earth Day.

Rebooted

March 11, 2020

If spring hasn’t quite sprung, well, it’s thinking about it.

It was a pretty pleasant morning yesterday in the Duke City, so I bit the bullet and ventured out for a short walk around the flattest parts of our neighborhood, which made it a very short walk indeed.

I did a bit with both crutches, and a bit with one, and a bit with none; chatted up a few neighbors who wished to plumb the depths of my stupidity; and finally headed back to the rancheroo for a spot of lunch.

Then I pulled off the Darth Gimp boot and its Vasque Clarion companion, leaned back in my chair, and put both dogs up on a footstool to rest awhile.

Just out of reach. Like a cat.

Not until I settled in and got comfortable did the smoke alarm go off.

Beep.

Beep.

Beep.

Etc.

So I put on the Darth Gimp boot and its Vasque Clarion companion, levered myself out of the chair, crutched into the entryway … and it stopped.

“Turkish, are you fucking with me? I asked. The question seemed relevant, if a tad mystical.

For starters, as all cat people know, your cat will never assign you some vital task until you are settled in and comfortable.

Second, the night Turkish died, as Herself and I were settling into bed, and I rested my right hand on the spot where our big, big boy would usually lounge for a bit, the bathroom light suddenly turned itself on, and then off.

Now there was this. And it wasn’t lost on me that I had instructed that my old comrade’s remains be cremated.

I crutched into the kitchen for a fresh battery, because why the hell not, and the smoke detector started up again. So I returned with the battery and a small stepladder, and — praying there wasn’t a giant, pissed-off, blue-eyed spectral cat in a cloud of smoke up there somewhere  — made the swap without incident.

Turkish always liked the high spots.

 

Booted up

February 25, 2020

Bad ankle! Bad, bad, bad! Get in that boot and stay there, thinking about what it is that you’ve done.

Behold the latest in Empire Stormtrooper technology: the boot. Just call me Darth Gimp.

The doc I saw yesterday is a podiatrist and a cutter, but he didn’t see any pressing need to fire up the old circular saw and prescribe a piñon peg and parrot from Largo Juan Plata’s in Old Town.

Dude sez to me he sez, I am presently enjoying an avulsion fracture (basically a severe sprain with extra attitude) and it should respond quite nicely to immobilization (hence the sexy footwear a la Bootsy Collins).

We’ll meet again in a few weeks to compare notes. The doc and I, not Bootsy. Though I wouldn’t object to meeting up with Bootsy, too.

I liked this approach because (a) it reminded me of the spiel I got from an orthopod the last time I did this ankle, back in 1983. I was sporting a fiberglass walking cast, installed by others, that he considered an overabundance of caution. Questions of diagnosis, treatment, and masculinity were raised and examined.

Also, and too, (2), it means nobody is firing up a circular saw and murmuring, “He under yet? Yay, boat payment.”

The Monitor in the Merrimack

February 11, 2020

C’mon. When you’re staring at this much screen you want a box of popcorn, a big ol’ soda, and a preview of coming attractions that does not include the honking 18-wheeler into whose lane you have strayed.

I have an ironclad disagreement with the notion of a multiplex in motion.

My argument is a simple one: If you want to drive, get an automobile. If you want to text, tweet, phone, Facebook, Instagram, eat, drink, smoke, shoot, or stream anything other than your own bad self down the road, why, get a sofa and some fixed location to put it in.

Our discussion of the Escalade Multiplex with its 38 inches of curving OLED real estate caused me to remember an earlier screed on this very topic, from the pages of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News circa 2014. For a change I cited sources other than the voices in my head, though of course they too were interviewed at length.

Rather than simply reprint the column — c’est ennuyeux! — I barked it into the old Shure SM58 and presto! Yes, yes, yes, out popped another episode of Radio Free Dogpatch!

Too late for this year’s Pulitzer for Audio Reporting, but hey, there’s always next year, amirite? Or maybe 2024, when the sonofabitch will be 10 years old and journalistic standards may have declined even further, perhaps to my level.

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with a Shure SM58 microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder, then edited in Apple’s GarageBand on the 13-inch 2014 MacBook Pro. Post-production voodoo by Auphonic. The background music is “Well Oiled Machine” from Zapsplat. Sound effects from Apple’s iMovie effects bin and Your Humble Narrator.

The 2021 Escalade Multiplex

February 8, 2020

This beast has nearly as much screen real estate as my living room. The difference is, my living room gets better mileage and won’t be found parked on top of a cyclist because I was having trouble deciding what to watch.

Call me old-fashioned, but when I read a statement like this

The most important screen for any driver of the new Escalade is the 14.2-inch digital instrument cluster that sits just behind the steering wheel.

… I long for the days when editors, like, y’know, edited, an’ stuff.

I would argue that “the most important screen for any driver of the new Escalade” is the fucking windshield.

Our man at The Verge doesn’t get around to wondering whether this mechanized multiplex is a good idea until quite late in the piece. Given that the curb weight of the 2020 2WD model is 5,311 pounds, you may consider me a strong “No” on that question.

Nobody needs 38 inches of OLED on the ROAD, which s/he shares with pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and other, lesser autos, like UPS trucks, cement mixers, and SWAT-team armored cars. You want to play with screens, get a living room and a comfy chair.

99 Mobiltelefon

February 5, 2020

The headline reads: “A man walked down a street with 99 phones in a wagon. Google Maps thought it was a traffic jam.”

Back at base bugs in the software
Flash the message “something’s out there!”

Our robot overlords will not be amused, Herr Weckert.

And yeah, he drew inspiration from a Jay-Z song, but Nena’s piece was the first one that sprung to mind for me.

Stupor Sunday

February 2, 2020

His Excellency confers with the underside of his eyelids.

As you can see, Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) and his adjutant Miss Mia Sopaipilla can’t wait for The Big Game to get under way.

We don’t follow the feets ball here at El Rancho Pendejo, having gotten our fill of artificially augmented athletes at that Boulder-based journal of competitive cycling.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla stands watch at the rear portcullis.

Indeed, we watch no televised sports of any kind, preferring to participate rather than spectate.

Oh, sometimes I’ll watch the U.S. cyclocross nationals, or ’cross worlds, if I can find a free feed uncontaminated by bots, viruses, Trojan horses, poltergeists, pixies, h’ants, djinni, cooties, boogers, and other agents of Chaos.

But I didn’t even watch worlds this weekend. My gal Katie Compton just missed the podium after a poor start, and Mathieu van der Poel — well, let’s just say that the dude might as well have been racing all by himself.

Anyway, this morning I had other concerns. Ironically, they involved my own doping regimen.

As I stumbled into the kitchen Herself intercepts me and goes all like: “Bad news. The coffee grinder’s broken again.”

Happily, she’d managed to brew just enough joe for me to pour a shot in each eyeball and then get to work rebooting the evil sonofabitch.

Get outa my Waymo(fo)

January 23, 2020

Phantom 309 gets a phantom Big Joe.

Oh, good. Waymo is bringing its self-driving minivans and trucks to New Mexico.

The Duke City’s drivers can’t wait to take their hands off the wheel for real. Then they won’t have to steer with their knees while texting, smoking meth, swigging hooch, spitting out the fire in their laps (spilled hooch and pipe sparks), and shooting at the punk-ass bitch who gave them the side-eye at the last stop light they ran.

Riding on the rims

January 13, 2020

My old bro’ Dr. Schenkenstein practices the mystical art of puncture resolution during a February 2011 ride around Bibleburg.

Do you remember when you learned how to fix a flat?

I don’t. But I’m pretty sure that in my first incarnation as a cyclist I served my time as one of those guys you occasionally see trudging gloomily along, pushing a bike, instead of spending a few moments at roadside swapping tubes and getting back after the riding of the thing.

No doubt some lucky shop handled flats for me until I got “serious” about cycling in the mid-Eighties. I didn’t have any mentors, or friends who were deeply into the sport, so I read every bike magazine and book I could lay my hands on and got my basic training and maintenance tips from a distance as I moved around from job to job, town to town, Pueblo to Colorado Springs to Denver to Española to Santa Fe, where I finally joined my first club and started taking instruction the hard way.

Flats, it seemed, were part of the price of admission to the game. You want to play? You got to pay. It’s like taking your pulls, or sharing food, water and kit as circumstances dictate. Sooner or later you have to give it up. Patch it up. Whatevs.

It’s no big deal. Unless you have been seduced by what the engineers call “progress,” fixing a flat on the fly is not rocket surgery or brain science. Open the brake caliper, flip the quick release, remove the wheel, pry off the bead, remove the old tube, check to make sure that whatever violated its integrity is no longer in the tire, install the new tube, inflate, replace the wheel, close the QR and caliper, stuff the flat tube in a jersey pocket, and get on about your business. Easy peasy. Even the Irish can manage it.

Of course, they’d have to make a short story out of it. Perhaps a song. Or maybe a podcast.

A podcast?

Yes, yes, yes — pull out your patch kits and push in the earbuds, it’s time for another thumb-fingered edition of Radio Free Dogpatch.

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with an Audio-Technica AT2035 microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I altered the recording setup a bit, breaking out an old Auray reflection filter to help isolate the large-diaphragm condenser mic, then edited the hot mess using Apple’s GarageBand on the 13-inch 2014 MacBook Pro. The background music is “Out of Step” and “In His Own Way” from Zapsplat.com. The rim shot is from xtrgamr at Freesound.org, which also supplied the pop! (gniffelbaf) and the squeaky chain (Jamesrodavidson), because you just know that a pro like me would never, ever have a squeaky chain. Yeah, right.