October 29, 2013

Oops. I fell while cycling.

Well, it finally happened.  After four+ years of cycling I finally had my first real crash.

This morning at 8pm I went out for my normal Tue/Thu ride (climbing Jefferson, Kings, and the West side of Old La Honda). While descending 35 / Skyline Blvd towards Skylonda (after climbing up Kings) I was going a little too fast for the conditions (which were wet and cold).  I hit a slick spot where all the chip seal had worn off the road and my tires slipped out from under me. I landed on my right side and skidded for a ways. I remember thinking "just relax" while I felt my head bounce against the ground a couple times.  Luckily there were no cars on the road and I got up quickly and moved to the side of the road.  I was happy to see that my biking shorts, shirt, and vest had no holes in them.  My left had was really numb, so i took off my gloves and saw that my thumb was pretty scraped up.  I also noticed that i was bleeding, at which point I found a hole on the inside of my right arm arm warmer where there was some not-so-pretty-looking flesh hanging out.  I then realized I was no longer wearing my glasses and I found them in two pieces on the side of the road.  After re-assembling my glasses I tried to call Ronda but there was no cell reception, so I started trying to fix up my bike to ride again.  I fixed my chain (which was off and wrapped around my pedal and shifter cable). I got my tires rotating again.  Then I noticed that my left shifter was scraped up and rotated inwards, so I straightened it out.  I also noticed that my rear derailleur hanger was bent so I took a note to avoid shifting to easier gear on the back (so as to avoid the rear derailleur getting stuck in the spokes).  I put my gloves back on and then rode a short ways to Skylonda, called Ronda, and waited for her to pick me up.  Looking at the data from my Garmin, I figure i was going about 28 mph at the time of the crash.

I went home, changed, and then went to PAMF Urgent care. They cleaned up the road rash on my right arm and x-rayed both my right arm and left thumb.  I may have fractured my thumb, so they put it in a splint and I have an appointment on Thu for them to look at it again after the swelling goes down.  I also have some minor scratches and bruises on my right hip and down my back, but those all seem really minor (although Ronda keeps warning me that I'm going to be really sore tomorrow).

I'm a lucky SOB.  First, there were no cars on the road when I crashed (it happened at a curve in the road and they probably wouldn't have seen me).  Second, I'm amazed at how little road rash I actually got (compared to other people I know who have also been in accidents).

I'm really confused about how my left thumb and shifter ended up damaged.  I was in the drops when I went down, so I was thinking that my handle bars must have shot to the left and twisted my thumb outwards (riding over the top of my left thumb and skinning it in the process).  But that doesn't jive with the damage to my left shifter.  The cover plate from the top of the left shifter is missing and it's badly scraped up on the top front.  Given that I slid on my right side I have no idea how or when it came into contact with the ground.  


I snapped a photo at the top of skyline (before i fell), thinking I'd post it to my blog today.
Me at PAMF enjoying morphine and classical music (j/k about the morphine, even though they offered...)

Me all cleaned up (except for the helmet hair).

November 11, 2012

Weekend summary

1) Watched the new Amazing Spider-Man movie streaming from Vudu.

2) Went for a 20 mile bike ride with Ronda.

3) Installed one Romik running board on my Subaru Forester (on the drivers side).  I'm not totally thrilled about how it fits.  The Forester was obviously not designed for running boards, since when you try to stand on it your toes hit the bottom of the body.  Also, while i think it's securely mounted it does flex down when you stand on it, which makes it feel less than secure.  Now I'm consternating about either installing the other one or giving up on them.

4) Tried Himawari in San Mateo.  It's a nice restaurant (lots of jazz records on the walls and jazz playing) with some very tasty Shio Ramen (the Chicken Karaage is tasty as well).

5) Bought two small framed prints of "Party Daleks" by Genevieve Santos that were on display at Sweet Breams (also in San Mateo).

6) Read up on how to avoid contribution limits for Roth IRAs.  I wish I had known about this in 2010 when if first became possible.  I also spent some more time reading some other postings by Meyers Wealth Management.

7) Hung up the "Party Dalek" prints and a decorative metal sign reading "Black Dog Inn; Martini Bar" in the guest bathroom.

8) Created a 6" tall splash guard for the dogs water bowl so that when Rye drinks water he doesn't end up splashing it all over the bathroom floor.

February 5, 2012

walking on ice: my mom's first novel

my mom, maria pilatowicz, has just published her first novel called "walking on ice."  it's a story about a young girl growing up in poland under communism.  the official "in print" release date is 2012.04.10, but you can get a digital copy (pdf) from tate publishing today.

August 14, 2011

an introduction to the google android app store, aka the "market"

the google android app store (aka the "market" application) allows you to download android applications to your phone.  amazon also has an android app store (and to access it you have to download the amazon app store program) but i'm going to focus on the google app store here.

first off, you can see all the applications you have installed from the app store by starting up the "market" application, hitting the menu button, and then selecting "my apps". note that this isn't a list of all the apps on your device, it's just the apps that were installed via the app store.

not only can you download apps from the market, but updates to apps are also delivered via the "market".  to make sure that you always have the latest version of an application, after you finish installing an application you should go the "my apps" list, select the app, and select the "allow automatic updating" option.

to find new apps you can search for them via the "market", or you can do it online at https://market.android.com/ (make sure to login with the google account your phone is connected to).  the online web market will allow you to browse and install apps directly onto you phone.

in general, one thing to keep in mind when installing apps is that there is really not much quality control for apps before they get added to the market.  so there really is nothing to prevent malicious or dangerous apps from being added to the app store that can steal your personal information.  so when searching for and installing new apps, you should be cautious and pay attention to a few different things, for example:
  • does the app get good reviews from lots of people?
  • how long has the app been around?
  • does the developer of the app have other applications in the market or just one?
  • does the developer of the app have lots of other small stupid apps?
  • does the developer name/company sound suspicious? (if an app said it was by "g00gle inc", i'd be suspicious that they want to trick people into thinking it's an app made by google.)
  • what permissions does the app require, and does the app want access to any of your online accounts.
the last point about permissions is important.  before you install an app, the market will show you information about what permissions the application wants once it's installed on your phone.  this can include access to things like like: location information, the phone book, making calls, sending txts, the sd card, etc.  pay attention to what the application wants to do.  if you're installing a calculator application that wants the ability to send sms text messages, you should be wary.  lastly, once you've installed an app, it may request access to accounts that you have registered on your phone. (you can see these accounts by going to Home -> Menu -> Accounts & Sync).  once again, if a calculator is asking you for permission to access your gmail account, you might consider uninstalling it and finding a different calculator app.

also worth noting is that after you install an application and select "allow automatic updating,” an app which changes the permissions it requires in an update will not automatically update.  instead the market will notify you that is a new update available and that you have to explicitly say "yes" to updating it again because the permissions have changed (and once again it will show you the new permissions required by the app).

now, before jumping into the apps themselves, there an important and REALLY STUPID item i have to mention.  as you've probably already noticed, android phones come pre-loaded with a bunch of apps.  (think google maps, facebook, etc.)  the stupid thing though is that there are usually newer versions of these apps available in the app store, but until you download them they won't automatically update to the latest versions.  so essentially, before downloading any new apps, the first thing you want to do is go to the app store and re-install a bunch of apps that you already have.  once you do this you'll get updated version of them as they are made available.  to make this doubly annoying, if you ever get an full android OS upgrade, that upgrade will undo these updates so that you have to go back and re-install the bundled apps.  it's an incredibly stupid bug.  so here's a list of apps that were pre-installed on my phone for which the market has newer versions:
  • Books - by Google
  • Car Home - by Google
  • Facebook for Android - by Facebook
  • Gmail - by Google
  • Google Goggles - by Google
  • Google Maps - by Google
  • Google Search - by Google
  • Google Voice - by Google
  • KickBack - by Google
  • Music - by Google
  • SoundBack - by Google
  • Street View on Google Maps - by Google
  • TalkBack - by Google
  • Voice Search - by Google
  • YouTube - by Google
so, when it comes to apps, i'd recommend trying out the following apps which are publisher by google:
  • Earth - by Google
  • Google Sky Map - by Google
  • My Tracks (by Google) - by Google
  • Shopper - by Google
if you use the online google reader as your RSS reader, then i'd also recommend:
  • Google Reader - by Google
then, i'd recommend the following application that allows you to set phone preferences based on location. For example, you can set your phone to enable wi-fi at home and at the office, but to be disabled in between thereby saving battery life.
  • Locale - by two forty four a.m. LLC - $9.99
another fun app that allows you to scan barcodes (and works with other apps like google shopper) is:
  • Barcode Scanner - by ZXing Team
if you have a limited data plan on your phone, then it's handy to keep track of how much data your applications are downloading/uploading.  you can track this with:
  • Traffic Counter Extended - by Carl Hopf
if you want to access maps when you don't have any cell phone coverage, try out:
  • MapDroyd - by OneStepAhead AG
personally, i think that the built-in android music player isn't that great.  if you are going to store and play music on your phone, you should probably try out this music manager:
  • Cubed - by Filipe Abrantes
here's a list of games i have installed on my phone:
  • Angry Birds - by Rovio Mobile
  • Shortyz Crosswords - by Robert "kebernet" Cooper
  • Wordfued FREE - by hbwares
  • WordUp! - by Anthrological
here's some other applications i have installed on my phone that you could check out:
  • Adobe Flash Player - by Adobe Systems
  • Advanced Task Killer - by ReChild - utility to kill processes
  • AK Notepad - by Snaptic - create files with notes
  • Android Agenda Widget - by Everybody all the time - home screen agenda widgit
  • Astrid (task manager) - by we <3 astrid - todo lists
  • ASTRO File Manager - by Metago
  • DoggCatcher Podcast Player - by DoggCatcher - $6.99
  • Fandango Movies - by Fandango - movie reviews and times
  • GPS Status - by EclipSim - gps data
  • GPS Test - by Chartcross Limited - gps data
  • IMDb Movies & TV - by IMDb - lookup movies on imdb
  • Mobile Banking - by Bank of America - find an atm nearby
  • Movies - by Flixster - movie reviews and times
  • NetQFree - Ads - Netflix Queue - by SporadicSoftware - manage your netflix queue (better than the netflix app)
  • OpenTable - by OpenTable - make resturant reservations
  • RealCalc Scientific Calculator - by Brain Overspill
  • Speedtest.net Speed Test - by Ookla - test your download bandwidth
  • Twitter - by Twitter, Inc
  • UltraChron Stopwatch Lite - by The Spinning Head
  • WeatherBug - by WeatherBug Mobile - get weather forecasts
  • Wifi OnOff - by CurveFish - home screen widgit to turn wifi on and off
  • Wikipedia Encyclopedia - by Wiki Apps - search wikipedia
  • Yelp - by Yelp

June 18, 2011

Comcast "business class" internet FAIL, when static IPs aren't

I have Comcast business class internet service (with a static IP) at home, and I've been pretty happy with that service up till now. But yesterday, my wife (who works from home) texted me saying our internet connection was down. From work I discovered that my server (which is hosted at my home using a static IP) was no longer accessible. Also, I was unable to ping the next hop Comcast router normally used by my internet connection.

Since I couldn't ping the next hop gateway for my normal connection I figured this must be a connectivity problem with Comcast. I told my wife to call tech support and she spoke to some very less than helpful person (that's my description, hers was more colorful). They told her there were no problems with our internet connection. When my wife insisted that things weren't working, he replied, "I am not saying you're lying, but I've refreshed my screen three times and your internet is working fine on my end." He then said he'd be happy to "roll a truck" for a business account customer, but since the problem was obviously on our end, they would likely charge us for it. He also stated that they had many people in the queue waiting for help and maybe she should call back when she knew what the problem was. She hung up.

When I got home, I logged into our cable modem and discovered that it did indeed seem like we had an internet connection. The cable modem had negotiated an upstream connection and could ping other hosts on the internet. Digging further into it, I discovered that the modem was indicating that we were hosted on a different subnet block, with a different static IP address. As mentioned before, I have a static IP address (which I pay extra for) because I run a server at home. In general, when you run a server you want to have an static IP address so that you can configure services to use that address. (For those not familiar with IPs, the easiest way to think of them is as phone numbers.  You give them out your number and people know that they can use those numbers to contact you.) But in this case Comcast changed my IP (which I had been using for the past two years) without notifying me.

I called Comcast support, pointed out the problem, and the support folks spent about 30 minutes taking me on and off hold while they confirmed that:
  • Yes, my static IP block had been changed earlier in the day.
  • No, there was no attempt to notify me that the change had been made.
  • No, there weren't any notes on my account indicating that this change had been made. So, had I not diagnosed the problem myself, their tech support would have had no way to see that there was any problem at all. This kinda explains (but does not justify) my wife's wonderful support experience with them.
  • No, they couldn't restore my IPs because they had already been re-assigned to someone else.
The speculation from Comcast tech support folks was that my previous IPs had been taken back for consolidation into a larger subnet block. I can understand this technical justification. (Having been a network administrator I'm well aware that larger network blocks require contiguous addresses.) And had I been contacted in advance, I would have been more than happy to plan to update all my router settings, server configurations, DNS servers, etc. But instead, no notifications were made and I had to diagnose the situation myself. This really doesn't seem like "business class" service to me.

January 5, 2010

a new road bike

i've been biking almost every weekend (rain or shine) since i fixed up my bike in august (i've missed 3 weekends, two of them over the xmas break), so i estimate i've been riding for about 17 weeks.  in that time i've managed to log 770 miles (according to my old sigma BC 1606L bike computer).  that puts me at about 45 miles per week.  after daylight savings time ended and it started getting dark really early, i stopped commuting into work on my bike.  instead i've just been riding for about 30 to 50 miles on the weekends.

so i used the mileage above to help justify buying a new road bike.  after test riding a bunch of bikes, and spending an obscene amount of time looking at bikes online, i narrowed it down to two choices.  bicycle outfitter (in los gatos) had a 59 cm '09 bianchi vigorelli and and chain reaction (in redwood city) had a 57 cm '09 gary fisher arc pro.  both bikes were the same price, had comparable components, and both road really well.  also, i really liked the customer service at both shops.  after much consternation i ended up getting the '09 gary fisher arc pro.

now that i've spent a bundle on a new bike, the goal is to keep riding at least as much as before, preferably more.  today i took the bike out for a 16 mile ride on some roads i'm familiar with and i'm really happy with it's performance.  my only complaint so far is that my old bike saddle had much more padding than my new one, a change that will take a little getting used to.  i'm really looking forward to taking it out for a 50 mile ride this weekend to see how it feels over longer distances.

September 26, 2009

biking mt hamilton

so yesterday i took the day off work to join about 20 sun (and former sun) employees for an annual bike ride up mt hamilton. i started the climb around 9am along with two other folks, and the rest of the group started at around 9:30am. it was way more climbing that i've ever done before on my bike, ~4500 feet worth. but i managed to make it to the top, and i did it all without using the lowest front gear (which i'm actively trying to avoid when riding now). according to my little bike computer, the ride was 19 miles and took me 2 hours and 58 mins. we hung out at the top for about an hour eating, relaxing, and socializing. the view from the top of mt hamilton is impressive, with monterey bay visible to the south-west and mt tam to the north-west. It was pretty warm (90+ F) at the top but at least there was a refreshing breeze. going down only took one hour. two folks had tire blowouts on the way down, but happily no one was injured. i was really glad that my new slick tires worked well. (two days earlier i had replaced my knobby mountain bike tires with slicks to make riding on roads a little easier.) unfortunately the cool breeze seemed to vanish once we started the descent and there was a hot wind in my face for most the way down. also, ithought i'd be looking forward to the bits of shade i passed on the way up, but i quickly discovered that these bits of shade going down were hiding all the bumps in the road that i wanted to avoid when riding at higher speeds. regardless it was still a great ride, and i've been told by friends that since i've successfully done that ride, i can do any other ride in the bay area.

after getting home i cleaned up, took some aleve, relaxed a bit, and then headed out to city pub with ronda for a burger and beers. a couple friends (who also went on the ride) met up with us at city pub, and subsequently we went to the beer garden behind the staudt haus for a couple more drinks and some large bavarian pretzels. it was a pretty good friday. needless to say, i'm a little sore today and i figured i'd skip my normal sat ride up old la honda road in favor of doing some work around the house.