sjh - mountain biking running linux vegan geek spice - mtb / vegan / running / linux / canberra / cycling / etc

Steven Hanley hackergotchi picture Steven
Hanley

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email: sjh@svana.org

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Aaron Broughton,
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Chris Yeoh,
Jeremy Kerr,
Martijn van Oosterhout,
Michael Carden,
Michael Davies,
Michael Still,
Tim Potter,
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January
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2007
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Tue, 30 Jan 2007

Swans of different nations - 14:25
Over the past few weeks I have been having an ongoing discussion with some friends about what Swans are probably saying about us as we kayak past them. Fairly often while Kayaking on the lake in Canberra we go within a metre or two of a swan or a group of Swans.

The Swans here probably yell out something along the lines of "Look out mates there is another bloody kayaker about to barge through". I suggest that due to being Australians swans they are indeed quite likely to use swearing in every day conversation even though they are not too upset and tend to stay right where they are not even moving too far as we come through a group of them.

I then extended the idea further suggesting British swans are probably far more civilised and proper saying to each other something along the lines of "Look out there chaps I see another kayaker is on their way through" as we paddle near them. One of my friends I was having this discussion with pointed out it really would depend where the swans are from in the UK as to their level of politeness. After all inner city London street tough swans (say from a small lake in Hyde Park) may be less polite and proper than some from some idyllic country English setting.

Heck for all we know the swans in Stratford Upon Avon get all Shakespearean on us and speak with thee, and yonder, and sit around composing sonnets in between being interrupted by Kayakers. Of course this is just in the English speaking areas where swans congregate. There are probably similar differences with swans in other places such as Germany. It has been suggested the swans in Hamburg are far more polite than those in Munich.

The Hamburg swans may be heard saying something along the lines of "Moin moin freunde! Seid ihr alle da? Viel spaß und einen schönen Tag noch." whereas the less friendly more abrupt swans in Munich may say "Gruß Gott und HImmel Arsch!"

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Mon, 29 Jan 2007

2007 Audax Alpine Classic - Bright, Victoria, Australia - 15:58
As I did last year, I went down to Bright this weekend just gone to participate in the Audax Alpine Classic for 2007. Gorgeous scenery, fun riding, big climbs, big descents and to top it off this year we even had perfect conditions. Sunny, not too hot, not too cold. Heck we could call it the Mama Bear's Porridge edition of the Alpine Classic.

Anyway I took a bunch of photos and made comments on them, they are online in the normal location where I would put 2007 Audax Alpine Classic photos.

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Tue, 23 Jan 2007

Does the fridge light stay on? - 21:40
Hah I solved it, see cameras now days often have timers. So what you do is disable the flash, set the timer on the camera and place it in the fridge. Then close the fridge door.

Sometime later come back and remove the camera from the fridge. Then look at the photo, we will finally have proof of whether the fridge light stays on or not when the door is closed, this works well for small fridges, for larger fridges you can still climb in and see for your self I guess (though it may be easier to remove all the food and shelving first, thus the camera experiment should be easier).

Who needs all that engineering and circuit diagrams for fridges claiming anything about the state of the fridge light at certain times when you can do simple experiments like this. Well done to modern cameras and timers I say. I leave the experiment as an exercise to the reader. I wonder if the camera fingerprint will still be in evidence in such a shot?

Of course there is another issue that could be looked into here, what are the Schroedinger effects here, what is the state of the fridge light, the camera, the photo, the digital finger print, etc if you never open the fridge. I postulate the photo will be of live unicorns.

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Mon, 22 Jan 2007

Testing the 1 Million Monkey theory it applies to mutant grass - 13:48

Starting the Genetic Grass Monkey tests (fullsize)
I was out riding in Canberra yesterday for a while and I noticed it is good to see the government is obviously testing some scientific theories for Australia Day. On regatta point is this example of the question regarding the length of time it would take 1 Million Monkeys planting 1 Million strains of genetically modified grass to grow an Australian flag and appropriate Australia day message in the ground.

My only real problem is I do not know when they started the testing so I really do not know how long it took or how many strains of GM grass the monkeys had to use before this came out. I had better write to the government and ask them when they started their Genetic Grass Monkey test program.

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Fri, 19 Jan 2007

Google Underwear - 12:04
So Kristy suggests Google should indeed hand out underwear, and we have noticed a tendency with Mikal the past year or so. It appears he has only worn Google T-Shirts in that time, sure he always had the tendency to only ever wear vendor/free T-Shirts. Anyway we have suggested from time to time he is probably wearing Google Underpants (if nothing else Google selling Underpants may explain them turning a profit...)

Now although I really do not want to know more about Mikal's underwear it is interesting to note he lives in the US and has admitted to owning and wearing Google Thongs.

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The kernel hacker culling plan - 11:13

Linus riding along on Geoffrey's Segway (fullsize)
Back in 1994 when Linus visited Andrew Tridgell and Canberra, Tridge took him out to the National Aquarium and tried to kill him off with a bunch of rabid penguins biting him. Then a few years later after an lca Alan Cox came to Canberra for a visit also and Tridge took him horse riding, he fell off a horse, more proof that Tridge is trying to kill off the kernel hackers. I suspect this is a large part of why Linus did not want to come back to Canberra in 2005, apart form having been there before he was wary of being near Tridge on his home turf.

Anyway at lca this year Linus and various other Kernel hackers are in attendance. However because all Kernel hackers are trained to be wary of Tridge at Kernel hacker school Tridge had to get someone else to do the culling effort this time. In this instance it is Geoffrey Bennett with his Open Source/Hardware hand built Segway vehicle.

Geoffrey has mentioned to a few people that if you go too fast on his it can cause a face plant or other problems as it does not yet back off correctly when it hits top motor speed. He will I am sure have that fixed soon, however he left that feature off here so the experienced kernel hacker Segway riders may be tempted to take it for a fast spin and possibly have an incident furthering Tridge's Kernel hacker cull.

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5 Small Cats - 09:21

5 Small Cats (fullsize)
Apparently their names, from left to right are Pecker, Cowboy Western, Dulcimer, Cornbread, Crockpot. (maybe I should take a photo in sunlight to get them in focus)

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The new camera - 08:04

Old camera front (fullsize)

Old camera back (fullsize)

New camera front (fullsize)

New camera back (fullsize)

As I mentioned last week I purchased a new digital camera. A Panasonic DMC LZ5, I have used it a fair bit so far, on the Friday morning mountain bike ride last week, riding up to Sydney and for various other photos in the last week.

I like the camera, and I took the above photos of both cameras last week just to show them off, the new one is a bit smaller and definitely lighter. It was just as well I had two cameras last week or I would have had a chicken and egg problem, how do you take a photo of a camera if you only have the one camera. (okay so a mirror is one solution, but I am ignoring that for the purposes of this lame chicken and egg reference).

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Tue, 16 Jan 2007

Squirrels not allowed to ski uphill - 10:27

Please to be stopping the squirrel on skis (fullsize)
Last night on a train coming back to my sister's place from Bondi I noticed a sign among the banned signs on the wall that I would swear suggests squirrels are not allowed to ski uphill here, or it says squirrels are not allowed to smoke through their feet. The banned sign to the left of the no smoking sign. Good to see city rail's graphic designers seem more interested in fancy stylised designs than making their warnings clear.

Of course I may just be showing off how blind I am, combining this with the ANU moose sign the other day.

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Mon, 15 Jan 2007

Ride from Canberra to Sydney for linux.conf.au 2007 - 12:28
Michael "Crash" Carden and I rode from Canberra to Sydney to get to linux.conf.au 2007. Last year it was in New Zealand and we had our mountain bikes with us, this year we have the road bikes with us in Sydney, and I have a ride report and photos detailing the ride up to Sydney.

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Fri, 12 Jan 2007

A lovely morning for a ride - 16:07

A bunch of mountain bikers on a fun trail (fullsize)
Although the weather has now become somewhat horrendously hot, heck the BoM had this to say about today a few minutes ago on the forecast page for Canberra.
The maximum temperature to 3.30 pm was 40.5 C, which is the hottest day in Canberra since the highest ever maximum temperature for Canberra of 42.2 C recorded on 1st February 1968 and is the 3rd hottest day recorded since records commenced in 1939.

It was however rather nice out riding mountain bikes this morning, as I got a new camera the other day I decided to test it out a bit, so took a bunch of photos with it that can be found at the normal sort of place here.

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Thu, 11 Jan 2007

More links to throw out - 21:31
BoingBoing had a link the other day to a rather impressive delivery effort by the UK Royal Mail, this reminds me of a letter I sent to a cousin while I was living in Cornwall in 1993. My cousin told me when he received the letter all that I had written on it was

Firstname Lastname
Kundle Kundle Rd

Apparently someone at the Royal Mail had written on it "Try Australia" and it got to him. Good to see that impressive sort of effort, also both the UK and Australian postal services. I like the look of the book that is mentioned in the BB post where someone wrote a book about their attempts to mess with the Royal Mail people and see how good they were at working things out and solving puzzles to deliver post. In the same vein is the post a few days later, a repeat of a BB post I recall reading a few years ago. Improbable Mail Experiments, another attempt to send all manner of objects through the post to see if they would be delivered.

Another interesting link on BB the other week was to a series of photos of different food stuffs totalling 200 calories, Bacon of course is rather dense, but who cares, Bacon is an essential foodstuff.

So recently the EU voted that Gaelic, the language of Ireland, would be recognised as an official language in the union. The statistic was trotted out that at the last Irish census 1/3rd of the citizens claimed they could speak Gaelic. One journalist thought the numbers sounded a bit high so went out to test that claim travelling around the country. An interesting read and it is good to see there is a revival happening and that there are good outcomes from younger people learning the language (better education coming out of the Gaelic language schools). (found the link on MetaFilter)

And on a closing note, this is a good set of photographs that may have changed the world (a little US centric I think but they are valid claims)

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I found some kernel hacker wheels - 14:45

Kernel hacker wheels (fullsize)
This post is probably in the wrong category. My friend Lina is Swedish, her road bike has some wheels on it I always thought to myself I should get a photo of. When the wheels that came with the bike died or something she got some new wheels from a small wheel making company back home run by some friends.

Of course all the Linux geeks reading this realise a certain kernel hacker should have this brand of wheel on his bike if he rides one.

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Wed, 10 Jan 2007

Rocky watch me pull a moose out of my university - 20:40

The Moose Sign at ANU (fullsize)
From I distance I could have sworn this was a sign with a moose head and a cross through it. It was somewhat disappointing when I got closer and I realised it was some sign saying no busses or trucks past this point. It really would be far more interesting if the ANU had no Moose signs up around this Australian educational institution.

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Neato, new and shinier photos to come. - 14:33
So after much deliberation I finally decided to get a new digital camera yesterday. Most of what I use a camera for is photos while doing events or outdoors doing something, thus a small easily pocketed model is a good thing. I notice often I have a lot of blue induced by shaking in my photos so getting good image stabilisation in a compact camera was the plan. Also a really short auto focus time and shutter release time was a good target. I was pretty much settled on getting a Panasonic camera for a bunch of reasons. In the end I decided on the Panasonic DMC LZ5 to replace my 3.5 year old Canon PowerShot A60.

The camera was ordered yesterday from a mob in Adelaide, Camerastore.com.au and arrived at work in Canberra around an hour ago. More details and photos and stuff to come once some playing has happened. I am sure my sister will be happy as I intend to give her the old camera (she does not have a digital camera) and it is still a nice sturdy camera.

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Tue, 09 Jan 2007

The sync option to mount does not mix well with vfat and memory cards - 16:41
So I was wondering why the performance of USB memory sticks appeared to be so pathetic on my laptop and my desktop at work the other day. Read performance was fine with 10 or 1 MB per second, however depending on which memory stick I used I got between 70 KB/s and 600 KB/s.

After banging my head against this for a while I googled for details about bad usb memory performance on Linux. I came across a lkml thread from may 2005 that seems to have helped enough. Apparently the performance of USB memory with the sync option and vfat filesystems is really pathetic, this is largely due to the repeated hammering of 2 blocks with every sync.

Alan Cox has some good and salient points in the discussion (to be expected from such a guru I guess), notably he points out most quality flash memory is very unlikely to be too adversely affected in a short time by using sync and he has a link to some details of life time guarantees from some companies for their flash products.

Anyway I disabled sync on the desktop image and my own desktop and disabled it on my laptop, all of a sudden I get 2MB/s or better depending on the memory stick I am using. Neato.

Interestingly Alan suggests the documentation for mount is generated form the kernel docs somehow and should be up to date and thus not continue to suggest that vfat filesystems ignore the sync flag. It is interesting to see that my Debian unstable copy of that man page on my laptop today still suggests that vfat ignores the sync option. At a glance I can not see any mention of this on the Debian bugs page for mount.

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Pink frame back and nicely fixed. - 15:51

The repaired area of the pink frame (fullsize)
Back in October I put up photos of some cracks developing in my primary steel mtb frame, the pink Bender Bicycles hard tail mtb. Anyway as is the case when I break a steel frame I got Wayne Kotzur to fix it up, however Wayne has been busy as a volunteer firey for a bit and thus it took a bit longer than his last few lightning fast repairs. I got a call yesterday that it was fixed and ready so went and picked it up.

To ensure the frame will not fail similarly again Wayne put a sleeve around with better welds onto it than before on that part of the seat tube. Lovely work as always and all it cost was AUD $60.50.

I think I may indeed go ahead and get this frame repainted though, apart from the black where the fix is looking a bit strange the frame has had some hard use and would look oh so pretty with a new coat of paint and brand new stickers applied.

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Oh no the meme got me - 15:00
Well I think I have so far resisted participating in most memes (exceptions are those memes of my own creation such as Tuesday Afternoon Milk Carton Blogging and Steel bike on Dairy Farmers Lookout and the occasional interesting looking meme, such as the Which Dr Who quiz and the where have I been world map. So not many, and definitely I try to avid memes as some way to fill in blog space. The one meme I really would love to participate in is the draw batgirl meme from early last year, however my artistic skills when it comes to drawing or similar art are a little too limited, especially when compared to some of the beautiful drawings that appeared in that meme.

Anyway all that was by way of introducing that I am once more participating in a meme, this time the 5 Things You Did Not Know About Me Meme, largely because Tony pinged me on it and I give him enough crap about not blogging that I may as well live up to him actually having posted for once.

5 things probably not known by too many people about me.

  • Growing up we had a cat, she was named Mother Cat (due to the large number of litters of kittens she had that we knew of by the time we adopted her)
  • Occasionally I waste huge amounts of time reading fanfic.
  • My sister and I are of the firm belief that Toyota Rav 4's are evil and whenever we see one we pretend to aim and fire a rocket launcher to destroy it.
  • Tomorrow Wendy by Andy Prieboy is one of my all time favourite songs.
  • My mother has told me that the name she and dad had chosen for me if I turned out to be a girl was Adele, after Dad's grandmother on his mother's side.

If I am to be so mean as to pass this on I guess it would be pelted towards Crash, Allan, Martijn (as if he will ever blog again, ahh well), MRD (because he is cool) and my sister Jane if she ever happens to start blogging.

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Specialized brand cleats and associated hardware are like cheese - 14:26

Specialized cleats top, new Shimano cleats below (fullsize)
So I know I tend to be tough on bike equipment, and shoes do not seem to stand up to much of my use. When I bought my new Specialized Comp MTB Shoes in September last year I simply left the screw plates that came with them in the shoe and used the cleats and screws that came with them also. I now discover I probably should have simply used one of my many spare pair of Shimano cleats as they last longer.

In the first few weeks of having the shoes I had problems keeping the cleats tight, eventually I swapped the bolts that came with them for some Shimano bolts, though one of them snapped off in the screw plates when I was trying to tighten them. The last few weeks I have had my feet pull out of pedals on my single speed, my road bike and my mountain bike (sometimes causing painful bike meet body moments, sometimes coming close to crashing (starting a sprint)). I was surprised at the possibility of cleats being worn out as I have seen cleats last for more than a year, even with the sort of use I give them.

However when I looked at the cleats the damage visible in the photo was there. They had worn out rather badly around the bottom retention lip and that was the cause of the problems. I have asked a few people about this since and it was pointed out by a few of them (one of whom uses Specialized shoes and sells them in a shop they work in) that the cleats are made of some form of metallic butter or cheese it seems and are not recommended for use. Ahh well.

Of note also is that when I was changing the cleats over last night I noticed the screw holes in the plate in the shoe had split in two places so I had to throw away the Specialized screw plate and use a Shimano plate I had sitting in the shed.

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My almost hackergotchi business card - 13:31

My CORC business card
So Jdub asked if others had business cards with hackergotchis, my response to that would be sort of. My business card for work is the bog standard ANU business card, I did not even try to slip something neat such as Big Cool Guy onto it (after all I really am not as Cool as BCG). However as one of the CORC committee members who regularly has meetings or interactions with others on CORC business I have a card to hand out in those situations.

When Russ created the cards he requested a photo for the card, it seemed only natural to use the photo from which I created my hackergotchi, not quite a hackergotchi in that my head is not floating in a void, but close.

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Mon, 08 Jan 2007

A list of 2007 predictions to schonfinkel favour with... uh, people like me. - 18:39
January: The governator (Arnold of California) puts out a press release to encourage the use of the nickname "The Governator" in the hopes the nickname "Arnie" will no longer be used and thus decrease confusion for Ani Difranco fans.

February: After the success of the 2007 Australian Mountain Bike Nationals in January the federal government announces all government backing and funding for the Rugby Codes, AFL, Cricket, Golf and Motor Sports would be cut to enable further funding and attention for mountain bike trails and access nation wide.

March: More weekends are discovered in the edges of March to enable people who already have events to compete in every weekend a bit of a break... or more time to do events alloted on the newly discovered weekends.

April: Fafblog returns after the huge break and puts out a huge back log of posts and resumes daily posting.

May: Arnotts announce the release of the Tofurkey flavoured Tim Tam, much use of the term Tofurkey all over the place ensues. (so sue me the name still makes me giggle)

June: Underwear Pirates Ltd announce they have turned a profit.

July: Freak snow storms in Canberra enable us to use Cross Country Skiing as our major form of transport around the city, the novelty of this much snow is definitely there for Australians, though some of the Sweedes or other northerners living in Canberra tell us it gets old fast.

August: Anti Counting Crows protesters attempt to blow up the planet to put a lie to the album title August and Everything After. Fortunately they fail, everything will still be there after August.

September: Jude Law and Ewan McGregor move back into the same residence and strangely are joined by Peter Wingfield, the trio announce the forming of a Boy Band, largely to mess with people's heads.

October: Cadel Evans rocks up to the Australian 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race in Canberra at Mt Stromlo to compete after winning the Tour de France in July he convinced his sponsors to let him do some fun mountain bike races too.

November: The portmanteau Movember is combined with another November observance NaNoWriMo with the aim of finding which writers would have been the most competitive entrants in the World Beard and Moustache Championships 2007 a few months earlier had they entered.

December: I continually fail to have any blogthenticity going another full year with no photos of my (non existent) cats on this diary.

For anyone who wonders what the heck the title is about there may be some hints in Combinatory Logic but it is a pretty lame joke (and could only ever appeal to a math or computer languages geek).

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Thu, 04 Jan 2007

Technique and equipment adjustment - 20:28
So I went out paddling on Lake Burley Griffin tonight as I do most Thursday nights, however no one else joined me for the paddle today. I decided to take Alex's boat, a Time Machine Multi Sport Kayak, out by myself. Though not supposedly suited for a paddler as heavy as I, it is a reasonably good boat to paddle even taking that into consideration.

Anyway when I unlocked the boat and uncovered the cockpit I found Alex had left some paddles in there, as I am seriously thinking about buying a paddle soon and his was a brand I had not tried out I decided to give it a shot. Kayaking is very technique intensive, by this I mean good technique helps you go faster with less effort. This is why I have been doing a course with the Burley Griffin Canoe Club, to learn proper technique and how to paddle faster boats.

What I had not realised fully until today is how important it is to have the paddle adjusted correctly for you, I initially had the paddle too wide and got sore arms using it, sorer than I should have for the distance I had paddled. So it all plays in together technique and equipment (and better technique allows you to use your equipment more effectively), when I came back to shore I adjusted the paddle length a bit and got back in, all of a sudden my arms did not seem so sore and I could get a better stroke and rotation.

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Rotten Eggs? - 11:42
We had a plumber in this morning to clear some drains and fix some taps and stuff. I discovered the period of time when the plummer is stinking up half the house with some sulfur smelling thing that is redolent of rotten eggs may not in fact be the best time to be cooking or eating eggs in the kitchen. Just passing on the hint in case anyone else needs that information.

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Tue, 02 Jan 2007

Briefly Back Baconing - 13:11

A Bunch of Baconers (fullsize)
On the Saturday before Christmas the grand ol bacon ride tradition was rekindled for the morning. Ride mountain bikes with friends then eat bacon. Simple really. By the time I took the photo I had already had to return home and swap bikes due to stripping a pedal thread in my drive side crank on the single speed. Also some people had left the ride and headed off before the Bacon Imbibement happened. Lots of fun was had, we must do it all again sometime.

Oh and a note, the cafe we went to afterwards in Chifley was damn good, they have Bees Knees on tap for $5.50 a pint (or $4.50 on Sundays possibly according to Morgs) and some damn fine menu items apart front that too. This cafe is called "A Bite To Eat A Drink As Well".

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Mon, 01 Jan 2007

A real bunny hop and a new description for those locks, "Unbicable". - 16:06
Out on a ride around Cotter/Uriarra with an extension up to the end of the bitumen past Condor Creek this morning (lovely ride, highly recommend it) and we were seeing a few hares and rabbits around at times as is often the case. However when you see these from a bike they are generally not too close too you and are running away as the bike scares them, thus there is no real chance to get some practice in at doing real Bunny Hops (as opposed to a bunny hop over a gutter, small dog or a snake (such as we came close to hopping on Saturday when a small brown snake was on a bike path) as is often the case) in which you hop over rabbits (commonly known as Bunnies of course).

However while riding down from Mt McDonald toward Uriarra Rd I saw an excellent chance, a dead rabbit in the middle of the road, sure maybe not as challenging as a moving target but hey I was going to finally be able to practice my bunny hopping skills for real. So I did a bunny hop on the road bike and all was well. Neil (an mtb friend) caught us up at about that point too and congratulated me on a good bunny hop. He ended up riding with us up to the end of the bitumen and on down to Uriarra too so it was all good.

Now on a different note, many people will recall the Kryptonite bike locks that could be broken into with a Bic pen lid. Chris and I had a discussion about it a while back too. Last night at the dinner I was at we got to talking about these locks at one point and Andrew made one of the funnier comments on this I have heard. I suppose it amused me a lot also due to the Oracle Unbreakable Linux hoopla that has been going on.

Andrew said with the revised locks kryptonite released that were impervious to the bic biro lids, they were now "Unbicable" as well as being "Unbreakable". :)

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Yay the attempt to fix this worked - 09:18
I still have 2006 hard coded into my fingers, it took me more than one attempt to write the dates for this post correctly. Happy New Year and all that stuff.

I was glad to notice this morning that the attempt I made in June to fix my google images ego surfing result has worked. Looking at the result now the full sized and small sized photos are the first and second hits for my name.

Makes me happy as a photos of some flies on my back while riding up a hill near Tumbarumba was not I thought a good way to recognise me. Of course it is possibly a little unfortunate this photo I chose has me standing next to my now broken rocky mountain largely due to my still being unhappy about the situation with getting it replaced, but hey it is still a pretty good photo.

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