On hardware and other things.

The main change to the blog this week is that I’ve updated the bookmarks page. This will require a little more work: I need to add my poetry source list and more about diet and FAQs. This was driven by Willem (more of below) quoting Velomunti rules, which have (among a lot of road cyclist snobbishness) some truths.

Support your local bike shop.

Never buy bikes, parts or accessories online. Going into your local shop, asking myriad inane questions, tying up the staff’s time, then going online to buy is akin to sleeping with your best friend’s wife, then having a beer with him after. If you do purchase parts online, be prepared to mount and maintain them yourself. If you enter a shop with parts you have bought online and expect them to fit them, be prepared to be told to see your online seller for fitting and warranty help.

If you commute by bike, by the way, do not wear the gear of the roadie. No bike shorts. No lycra. Lycra belongs on the kind of women on instagram your mother warned you about and no one else. Wear fitted, but not form revealing.

This weekend I managed to get a keyboard working. Sounds trivial, but it was the first mechanical keyboard I has assembled, and some of the keyswitches had contacts bent in doing so. I had to disassemble the broken keys, fix the keyswitch (I now have some that I managed to break) and reassemble it. The keyboard is now in the office at work, and it has more “springiness” and better return than the one I was using there.

That keyboard will go elsewhere. I have a logitech board that needs to be recycled.

The quote of the day comes from Vox Day.

There are essentially three factors that determine what a society will be like. The first is average IQ. The second is the level of trust. And the third is religion.

One of the things I found over the weekend was a Willem, a Dutch Geek who cycles and plays with hardware. He tends to use tablets. I do not.

If you try to rewrite a presentation because the USB stick got munted at 10 pm before the presentation in your hotel room with a tablet — I am speaking from experience — you better have done it before. One trip, a decade ago, I ended up in New Egg buying the cheapest laptop I could find to do this as the tablet died.

Getting things reliable is hard. This is something Apple sorted with the Ipad early.

From this first attempt I learned a great deal, it led to a better understanding of what I seek in a tablet experience. I am looking for simple, yet versatile software to run on my tablet.

But “simple” is actually very hard to achieve. In order to make things really simple, you need to seamlessly integrate hardware and software. Apple does this well, iPad Pro provides a great user experience because:

  • continue where you’ve left: it saves everything when you put it in a bag, being (instantly) ready to continue when you take it out. No manual saving or (re)booting required.
  • internet everywhere: it automatically switches between WiFi and 4G/LTE networks, you don’t need to do anything this ‘just works’
  • any orientation and position: iPad functions great without an external keyboard or mouse, allowing you to use it in many different scenarios (the display automatically adjusts its brightness and white balance to match your surroundings, too!)

It turns out that getting these things working seamlessly with Debian GNU/Linux on Surface is hard. My first tablet OS required a lot of manual interaction and was therefore cumbersome in comparison to iPad Pro.

It is worthwhile reading how he did this: he now is using a surface pro as his work machine, having sold and got out of the Apple sandbox. Personally, I am not changing hardware for the next year or so — I found him because I was researching commuter bikes with internal hubs. What is becoming fairly clear is that you don’t need to pay a premium for software now. What you do need is good screens, particularly for photo processing. Everything else is now fairly generic.

If in doubt: follow the rule of the comrade. Do not replace what is still working. And back everything up.

Further Planning

I need to start setting up a commute system now that we have a safe way to ride a bike the 15 km into work — my property taxes at work. At present I am looking for something like this. — disk brakes, belt drive, and alfine eight speed internal hub. The alternative would be a Brompton, but they are (a) hard to get and (b) expensive. I did manage to sell/give away my old bikes during the move. So time to start again.