Saturday, October 30, 2010

Winter Cycling jacket Update

So while trying to find a winter cycling jacket that would be good on and off the bike, I had a conversation with a very nice sales rep at Mountain Equipment Co-Op. He told me his vaforite jacket was one made by Axiom and that he got it at The Cyclepath on Danforth Ave. So I finally made my way over there today and I found the Axiom Stormfront.
This jacket is no longer made. In fact, I purchased their last one. It has all the features I was looking for except one.

  1. Removable Hood
  2. Stow away rear flap
  3. front pockets
  4. ventilation
  5. adequate reflective striping
  6. a nice colour (I got a slate blue) 
The one thing I'm worried about, and cannot yet report on is it's breath-ability. It's a 2.5 layer HydroPEL Stretch material. Hopefully it's good enough though I would have prefered, and paid for Gore-Tex.
I'll make another blog post at a later time reviewing this jacket. Little good it will do most people looking for a similar jacket since Axiom no longer makes them.

Friday, October 29, 2010

I am not the Stig

I am not the Stig
Originally uploaded by
For those who don't know, my favorite TV show on the planet, is BBCs Top Gear. It's by far the best show in terms of entertainment. And yes, I do like cars. 60 Minutes in the US recently did a show on the show. Worth a look.

For halloween this year, I tried to dress up as "The Stig". The faceless tame race car driver that tests all the cars and does some funny mute bits here and there. Not 100% right, but that would have taken upwards of $3300 in gear :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Winter Cycling jacket

I'm on a quest for the ultimate winter cycling jacket. It's proving to be rather hard. I've decided for my own comfort, that the jacket has to be made out of gore-tex. It has to have reflective striping on the back for my own safety. I'd love for it to also not scream cycling jacket when I'm off the bike. A hood would be nice too.

I've tried the Gore Alp-X jacket. It's close, but too thin. It's a good spring/fall jacket for when it's wet.

The local standby, MEC offers the Derecho jacket. Sadly, no front hand pockets and only two very loud colours. It's also not made out of Gore-tex. Reviews say it performs as well as Gore-tex. The other problem is that there is no ETA for this jacket in stores. A standard MEC trait.

Mec also sells, but is out of stock of the Showers Pass Elite jacket. Reviews however point me to the previous jacket as a better buy.

The jacket I think I want is the Gore Cosmo. However, no dealer has one in the area, and ordering one means I have to keep it. Which is a hard sell considering the price.

My search continues.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My new One Million Dollar Tablet

I went to see what the new Lenovo X201 Tablet is going for.
Apparently it's over 1 million! :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bycicle Drive System Comparison

There are a few choices on how you can push yourself along on a bike these days. I'm going to quickly run these down with their pros and cons.

Traditional Chain

This is the traditional type of drive found on 99% of the bikes out there.

  • Cheap with lots of competition
  • Parts are available anywhere
  • Every bike mechanic and probably a few of your friends know how to fix it
  • Rain or Snow requires prompt cleaning and lubrication or rust will form
  • requires periodic calibration/alignment/tensioning or gears don't mesh/switch properly
  • Your pans/skirt need protection from the drive system or you get dirty/torn clothing.


Currently only provided by Gates Corp.. This is an old technology from cars being applied to bicycles in recent years. Trek, Norco and a few smaller bike manufacturers are selling bikes with this.
  • Silent operation.
  • Almost zero maintenance required for any weather condition
  • Smooth feel
  • Less dirty as it doesn't required lubrication.
  • Expensive relative to chain
  • Can only be used with a single cog front/rear
  • requires "broken triangle" frame so you can pass the belt through
  • requires internal geared hub if you want more then one speed, which adds to the cost and repair complexity
  • Few shops have experience and probably less have spare parts. That being said, it's easy to work on and more durable than a chain so not a large issue

Shaft Drive

This is the most exotic of the drive systems. Most commonly found on certain Biomega bikes.
  • Sealed system against elements
  • Never have to worry about your pants/skirt getting dirty/caught.

  • Very expensive. The highest cost of this list
  • requires internal geared hub if you want more then one speed, which adds to the cost and repair complexity
  • Can only be used with the frame it came in. This is not a standard
  • mechanical loss due to bevel gears
  • Huge issue if you have a flat while riding. Requires disassembly to change tires.
  • Maybe one shop per city knows what to do with it. Parts are special order
  • Heaviest of the types


I recently purchased a new bike. I chose a traditional driven bike due to price and maintainability. Yes, it requires more care and attention, but it's all stuff I know how to do. The bike was also under $1k which is not going to happen with the other drive systems. That being said, if money had not been a factor, I would have gone with the Norco Ceres belt drive bike.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Computer

So my trusty old desktop died shortly after moving into my new house.
While in Michigan on a shopping spree, I picked up the following:

  • Intel Core i7 930

  • Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R

  • Corsair XMS3 3x2GB DDR3 RAM

I saved about $140 on buying this stuff in the US. Most of the savings are from the CPU.

System works great except for one big problem. I have to turn off all power management features on the CPU otherwise I hear a very annoying squeel coming from the motherboard. This is apparently a problem with certain power supplies plus this board. Hopefully this is an issue that will be resolved, maybe in a BIOS update. The reason I'm ticked is that this is NOT the board I wanted. I wanted the Asus P6T. Older board, but had all the features I wanted. This board has more features, like SATA3 and USB3. Which I guess will be nice for the future.

Overall it's nice to have a new computer after 4 years. My desktop was actually slower than my X200 Tablet. No longer the case.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

48 Hours with the Google Nexus One in Canada

I was fortunate enough to get a Google Nexus 1 for a couple of days. I used it as my primary phone using my Fido SIM card. This isn't going to be an exhaustive review. If you want one of those, there are plenty around. However, I thought I would put down my personal impressions of the phone and version 2 of the Android platform. That and my quest for a new phone.

First, some background. I own and use a Sony Ericsson Z710i "dumb phone" as my primary phone. It has hacked firmware installed on it to get around Rogers/Fido limitations. It may be a regular phone but as a phone and MP3 player, it has served me very well for the last 3 years. It also happens to have one of the best Bluetoth implementations of even the latest phones (ie. iPhone). I have been using Sony Ericsson's phones for over 8 years now and am very comfortable with their platform. I also use a 3rd generation Apple iPod touch. I have over time owned and or used several Windows mobile phones and PDAs and and the Nokia E71.

My initial experience with the Android platform was the HTC Dream/G1. The first phone commercially available running the Android platform. Let's just say I was not too impressed. This was also about the time I got my hands on a 2nd generation iPhone to try. Other then the keyboard, the Dream had nothing going for it. It was underpowered running a slow, rushed out the door OS. I dismissed it as a poor first attempt.

Since that time I have been on a quest to find a PDA type phone which was as responsive as the iPhone, but far less restrictive. Unrelated, I ended up with a 3rd gen iPod touch for development reasons. Having the touch convinced me that the iPhone was not the device I ultimately wanted. The reasons for me not getting an iPhone are:

  1. Prefer physical keyboard

  2. iTunes sucks. I'm sorry, it does. If you've used any other media manager you'd know this. (ie. Winamp)

  3. Having to use software to move files back and forth to my "portable computer" is silly

  4. All the truly useful applications and utilities only exist after you "jailbreak" the phone

  5. No user replaceable battery

  6. No memory card expansion

  7. Poor, unreliable Bluetooth support

However, the iPhone/Touch have a few qualities, at least in the latest 3rd generation versions that have now also become a requirement for any phone that I buy:

  1. Responsive touch interface

  2. Instant feedback. AKA Zero lag

  3. Build quality

This leads me to several days ago, where I got the chance to try out the Google Nexus One. Let me start off by saying that if your experience of Android was any of the first generation ones, forget them. This is what Google should have come out with a year ago. This is also a negative point. This should have been what they had out a year ago, and today's phone should be as polished and responsive as an iPhone. It's not, but that's not to say it's not as good. It's just different.

The positives of the Google Nexus 1:

  1. The Google integration is scary good

  2. The screen. Seriously beautiful. Four times the resolution of most smart phones including the iPhone

  3. I can choose to use a media manager or just copy files over, your choice

  4. The customizable home screens are very useful

  5. There is a setting to allow non-authorized applications. This is how things should be

  6. Auto Rotation works 100% of the time and is instant

  7. Raw horsepower. Seriously, this thing is faster than the first few desktops I have owned

  8. Size and weight are nice and it sits well in the hand

  9. The multitasking works well with the right interface to support it

  10. status bar is great and super useful, like the auto open wifi notification

  11. The back button functionality is very very useful. Taking you back from app to app

  12. Integrated Amazon MP3 Store sells DRM free MP3s, as things should be

  13. GPS Integration works well

  14. Excellent on screen keyboard implementation. The keyboard lists the possible words above the keyboard that show up as you're typing allowing you to quickly bash the one you want without having to finish typing it

  15. It is possible to not be tied to Google here

  16. Stereo Bluetooth implementation is the best I have used in a phone. Slightly edging out my 3 year old Sony phone, and trouncing the iPhone/iPod touch.

And the negatives:

  1. The google integration is scary, google owns you here if you do end up using all their services.

  2. How on earth does a 1Ghz phone have interface lag? How do you screw this up? It's minor but it's there in rare occasions

  3. Yes, it has the best on screen keyboard I have ever used. It's still not as good as a Blackberry/Nokia E71 or Motorolla Milestone keyboard.

  4. The Amazon MP3 store interface needs work

  5. Voice quality was not as good as other phones I have used

  6. Lacks Bluetooth HID support, though it is implemented in the driver stack so this is temporary

  7. The bottom buttons are seriously borked. They should have been physical buttons. They work about 50% of the time. And 5% of the time you hit the home key when you want to be hitting space on the vertical keyboard

As of this posting, the Phone is now available in Canada on both the North American 3G Bands working on Rogers, Telus and Bell and the AWS Bands working on Wind Mobile and the soon to be out Mobilicity.

I did not test it's Edge Data performance on the Fido/Rogers network.
Took only one snapshot with it
It's BBQ Time

I'm getting very close to finally upgrading my phone.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Apple iPad vs. HP TC 1100

This would be funny if it wasn't so true. Of course 2003 Ghz aren't 2010 Ghz, one is running Windows XP Tablet Edition and the other a customized version of the iPhone OS and one cost 3-4 times as much during it's release as the other. The HP wins hands down though because it has Pen input. I don't want a portable entertainment device, I want a digital notepad. Too each there own though. I was actually really sad when HP discontinued this line of tablets. They had a good thing going. Several of my friends all had the same one. We all now have Leneovo ThinkPad Tablets, but they are too big and heavy.

Found on the random Internet.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Misleading Globe and Mail article about Canadian Broadband competitiveness

Update: Great article in the Ottawa Citizen about Canadian broadband that pretty much trumps this blog post.

An article in the Globe and Mail this weekend talks about how Canadian broadband is actually competitive. This is in response to a report commissioned by the FCC from the Berkman Group on how poor Canada (and US) broadband is compared to the rest of the developed world. This article is complete garbage. I'll go over some of the most glaring errors:

1. No sources, anywhere for their completely made up "facts".
Correction: They list Akamai as a source for download speeds -- thanks Brian Jones

2. It talks about penetration rates being wrong because there are more members per house hold than in Europe, so more people use a line. Then later point out that North Americans are heavier users of broadband than in Europe. Those balance out nicely in my opinion.

3. "Advertised broadband speeds vary from actual speeds. In North America, this is largely a result of “network overhead,” and is quite modest. In Europe, however, the variation is often dramatic." Anyone who has used Internet in Canada knows that this is complete bullshit. My sources are sadly not that representative, but a quick trip to will show you that advertised speeds are most definetly not what you get.

4. "So it is that in Canada, Rogers, Shaw and Videotron all offer 50- or 100-Mbps services, while Novus (using its own fibre) offers 200 Mbps in Vancouver. Bell Aliant has rolled out an ambitious fibre deployment in parts of its territory. Bell Canada has offered fibre-to-the-node technology since 2005..." I'm not arguing with this fact, in that those speeds are possible for a select few, who are willing to pay over $100/month for their Internet. However, the usage limits imposed on these connections are ridiculous. How is the Internet supposed to advance in this country when you are limited to 60GB downloads per month? I can easily break 100GB on my 6Mb connection without even trying. Oh, I know, buy consuming your video (TV/ Movies) from the other services that Rogers, Bell and others are providing. Of course, what was I thinking.

5. "Where the Canadian picture looks less favourable, however, is in the mixed signals that the CRTC is still sending on prolonging and extending regulatory policies that may, at best, have made sense in the days when we could not see beyond the old copper-wire telephone network." And here we have the true purpose of this article. If this quote doesn't scream "This article is payed for by the large telco and cablecos" I don't know what does.

It's a shame that the Globe and Mail, a newspaper my household subscribes to, and one that usually has good, well balanced articles, would print what is obviously an advertisement from the companies that have the most to loose from real change and innovation in this country.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

OK Go - This Too Shall Pass - RGM version

Awesome video from OK Go. Not a huge fan of their music, but I love their music videos. For those who don't know, they've been fighting with their label to have the right to share their videos on the Internet.. I guess they made this one themselves. With help from Synn Labs, a group of Makers.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Nikon Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 AI Repair and Rebuild

I purchased a Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 AI lens a while back off of eBay. The seller listed the item free of fungus, dust and oil. Sadly there was so much oil on the aperture blades that you couldn't close the aperture. The seller agreed to have it cleaned at his expense. One trip to Nikon Canada, $170 and 3 weeks of waiting and I had a clean lens. I'm not sure what Nikon Canada did, but the aperture blades showed signs of oil about a year and a half later. This time I was not willing to spend that much money myself, and have to wait that long.

First I found this great group on Yahoo for Nikon Lens Repair. Unfortunately there was nobody on the forum that had experience fixing my particular lens. Someone did manage to dig up this Chinese forum thread that has pages of different lenses with photos. Specifically there was a page with my lens on it about half way down. I had a friend translate the forum post for me as I cannot read Chinese :)

So I started on the quest to take my lens apart. I never really sat down to do it in one big go. It ended up taking months to even get to the aperture blades. So much for having it sooner than 3 weeks. Mostly unrelated to this, I've purchased a house with my fiancée and needed to clean, sort, organize and pack. Having this lens taken apart on my desk had to be remedied. I got determined, and armed with a few bad photos I had taken of the teardown and the Chinese forum post, I set out to rebuild the lens. I decided to detail it here for anyone who will need this info in the future. This is the build up, not tear down. Just follow it in reverse for taking it apart.

The tools used were the Wiha #26199 Slotted & Phillips Tool set. This is an excellent screwdriver set. You will need something similar in quality where the philips screwdriver tips are well made and will not strip the screws. The main screwdriver I needed that I was missing was a 1mm flat head (slotted) screwdriver for one of the grub screws. To clean the lens I used the Nikon Professional Cleaning kit (only available from Japan as far as I know). From that kit I mostly used the cleaning fluid dispenser and the lens paper. The cleaning fluid used was Anhydrous Ethyl Alcohol (99.9% pure alcohol).

1. Assembly of the aperture blades

The aperture blades have little nibs on both sides. See picture for orientation. Make sure they overlap in the correct order. Sorry, I didn't check this photo until after the lens rebuild. It's a tad blurphy (yes that's a word :).
From Nikkor 35mm f1.4 Rebuild

2. Aperture mechanism

The main ring goes over the aperture blades and the slots going around the ring go over the nibs facing up from the blades. I spent a bunch of time wiggling the ring to get all the blades to sit properly. There is a tab that sticks out from the ring. This goes into the slot closest to the bottom of the main cylinder. The copper shaft sticks up from the blades.

From Nikkor 35mm f1.4 Rebuild

There is then another ring that goes on top. I missed taking a photo of it. You'll see in the following photo the orientation to the pin sticking out of the ring from the previous bit. This ring has a screw on shaft that pokes out the side of the inner housing. You'll see this in a later photo.

On top of this goes the last ring for the aperture mechanism. This bit is tricky as there is a spring loaded guide that goes in place over the other two rings. The photo shoes the orientation and the placement. Go slow with placing this final ring in as the spacing is very tight. This ring also has a spring which then loops around the shaft from the first ring. I used a small screwdriver to get the spring on. This is the return spring for stop down metering.

From Nikkor 35mm f1.4 Rebuild

There are three screws that hold the last ring into place. You'll see an incorrect type in a later photo. The correct type is shown below:

From Nikkor 35mm f1.4 Rebuild

3. Main Lens Group

I did not take the main lens group apart. It was clean inside the group so I only cleaned the outside. It treads in without issue.

From Nikkor 35mm f1.4 Rebuild

There are three main threaded rings that go on the end of the lens. An inner ring with a grub screw whole, an outer ring and the branding ring that goes on the inside of the first ring.
Screw in the main locking ring and the Nikkor branding ring into the main group now. My apologies for missing some photos here. The main locking ring is the one you need the tiny slotted screwdriver for as it has a very small grub screw.

From Nikkor 35mm f1.4 Rebuild

4. Focusing collar

The focusing collar was a real pain. The reason is because it's double threaded. It can go in one of two ways. The first time It went in it was the wrong way. The result is that the mating tab wasn't in the right position. I don't know how you no this until you have the outer housing on and can test the focus throw goes end to end.

In this photo the focusing element was screwed in the wrong way.
From Nikkor 35mm f1.4 Rebuild

5. Outer body

I did not take apart the outer body of the lens as I didn't have to. I may do this at a future point to smooth out the focusing action.
The important part here is the two tabs. The one on the left is for the focusing tab from step 4. The tab on the right is for the shaft from the second aperture mechanism ring which you had to screw in from the outside of the inner cylinder.

From Nikkor 35mm f1.4 Rebuild

You'll also see a notch at the end. This is for a guide screw that sits below the copper ring of the inner housing.

6. Second lens group.

The second lens group screws into the focusing collar pictured on the left.
You can also see the shaft from the second aperture mechanism ring here. Please note that the screws holding the third aperture mechanism ring in this photo are wrong. Lastly you'll notice the guide screw mentioned above to the right, holding the copper ring in place.

From Nikkor 35mm f1.4 Rebuild

7. Depth of field gauge

The depth of field gauge slides on very tight. It took me a while to get it on. Do not screw it in yet until you've placed the aperture ring on to see where the guide and indicter dot for the aperture should be.

From Nikkor 35mm f1.4 Rebuild

8. Aperture Ring

The aperture ring goes on fairly easy. There is a small shaft on the main body that slides into a notch in the aperture ring.

From Nikkor 35mm f1.4 Rebuild

9. F Mount

I should have taken a photo of me inserting the mount. there is a long tab that goes into the lens. This is the stop down tab. This tab is then held in place with a smaller ring that goes in last. You can see them both in place and screwed down here.
The inner ring of the mount is held with three small screws. Two of them are countersunk, one is not. Look at any other AI or AIS lens for position of the non-countersunk screw.

From Nikkor 35mm f1.4 Rebuild

10. The test

From Nikkor 35mm f1.4 Rebuild