Recumbent Trike

What is it?

See this Wikipedia artical on recumbent bicycles

Basically it’s a bike you ride in a laid-back reclining position. They come in many variations. Mine is a trike. Two wheels in the front and one in the back.

You can find thousands of videos on Youtube by searching for Recumbent Trikes.

Why might you want one?

  • fitness like any bike
  • seat comfort even after long periods of riding
  • stable and easy to control
  • super fun

Brands and differences

What I decided to get

I did a bunch of research online then bought the best bike I could afford from a local dealer Charlotte Cycles.

I got a TerraTrike Rambler

My rambler has:

  • 20” wheels
  • Internal n380 NuVinci CVT shifter
  • Mechanical disc brakes

It’s not the fastest trike you can get, but its fun and easy to ride. I got a basic flag for it and a simple wireless bike computer. I also added a bike rack and a seat bag.

I plan to add some blinking tail lights for safety. I’ll likely also change the pedals to clipless.

Pros

  • I can ride much longer that I could with the standard bicycle.
  • I find myself actively looking for opportunities to ride.
  • I have had several people stop to ask about it and where I got it.
  • I have not had any incidents of people failing to see me when passing me in a car.

Cons

  • I can see myself buying another trike in the future, something that can go faster and has higher gearing.
  • The seat could be more comfortable. I can buy additional padding.
  • The starting price for a trike is higher than standard bicycle.
  • I’m thinking of buying special shoes for riding.

New Website

Meet the new Website, same as the old website.

I switched to blogger a while back. It was nice having free hosting. But I have to say I’ve remained underwhelmed with the features there. Posting was nice, but then the app was removed so I had to go to the website to post, or find a third party app to post. Theming was nice, but I’m a programmer and I sometimes want to add something funky to the site.

Back to roll your own site. Well, almost.

  • First get your data out of blogger. It’s great that google makes this easy to do. You may have to write some code to get the images and convert the blog posts to a format that can be used somewhere else. I think Markdown makes the most sense.
  • Pick a hosting service. I decided to use Linode. I should be fine with the basic plan $5 a month.
  • Pick a blog engine. I’m going with Hexo it’s a simple node based engine that generates a static site. This will reduce processor costs.
  • Pick a theme - I started with the default Hexo theme.
  • My domain is still being managed by hover.

How do I update the blog

  • New posts are created normally in Drafts on my iPad or phone. Since their written in Markdown I can create them any where I want to.
  • I have created a few actions in drafts to help with post creation.
  • I add tags to the blog entry so that it is easy to find within the site.
  • Once the post is ready I save it to a shared drive so I can generate the updated site with Hexo.
  • I then deploy the site to linode. For now I’m doing this manually - but this can all be automated.

My CPO Tesla Model S

I have been watching and drooling over Tesla since they first started selling cars. I believe that electric cars are the obvious path forward. As battery technology improves and becomes cheaper there will be no reason to have a fossil fuel car other than for entertainment.

Tesla has been leading the move forward with a top down approach to electric vehicles. Selling luxury vehicles now with a long term plan to start selling reasonably priced vehicles later. We don’t know for sure if this plan will work long term. But, I think it is already working. Tesla looks to be heading toward a profitable position as their latest manufacturing line is ramping up.

One area where Tesla has become the clear leader is with the Super Charger network. There are Tesla charing stations located along most major road systems all over the world. This gives their cars an easy and quick way to recharge that few other systems can compete with.

I originally signed up a Model 3 reservation, but decided to get a similarly priced Model S instead. Mostly because I’m impatient. But, also because I was very unsure of the minimal interface of the Model 3. I’ve been re-thinking that lately. But for now I’m sticking with my Model S.

Our Car

I only had a few must have options on my list:

  • Premium Audio System
  • Auto Pilot Hardware - would have loved version 2, but for the price I was ok with version 1.
  • Air Suspension
  • 19” wheels. The larger 21’s aren’t worth the hassle and cost.
  • I wanted Silver, Gray Metallic, or Blue for the color. But, I ended up with Multi coat Red.

Our car also has:

  • Power Lift gate
  • Sunroof

Our Tesla Model S

Purchase Experience

You order online and their web site works pretty well. I did have an issue with the car that I originally chose selling out from under me. I called a sales rep and he helped me find a non yet listed car in California that had everything I wanted.

I did have to pay, as part of the purchase price, to have the car shipped to North Carolina. It took about a week to ship.

All of the purchase forms and required documents were all handled via the website. Even the trade in info was entered via the web. For the most part this was a good experience. However, there were some issues with communication from Tesla. They sent us the final loan info right before the delivery. We had to scramble to get things notarized and completed. Due to out dated laws in NC Tesla only has a showroom here. They can’t legally sale cars here directly. So, we can’t sign and handle the loan info at the delivery. It’s silly and needs to change. It made things stressful.

Delivery

Our delivery was delayed a day due to a crack in the wind shield. This would normally have been fine, but Tesla did not call me to let me know this. I only learned about this when I was calling for another issue. Fortunately it was only a single day delay. They replaced the windshield at no cost.

Tesla does pretty well at training people during the delivery. They go over everything and let you ask any questions you might have. I pretty much knew everything that was covered already. You can spend some time on Youtube and get in depth information on every aspect of the car.

In less than an hour we were driving home.

We did have one issue with the delivery that was quite annoying. When we handed over the title for our old Prius, we had not gotten it notarized. I missed this completely. The delivery person also missed it. So they had to send it back to us to get notarized.

Charging

Initially we were charging the car at home with a 110 standard plug. This gave us about 4 miles of range per hour. This is not enough to make up for a normal day of driving for me. Luckily it only took a week to get a new 240v dryer style plug installed in the garage. With this I can charge up my normal daily use in a few hours. I regularly get around 30 miles of range per hour with this connection.

We have used the Super Charger network a few times. It’s been great, with some planning you can go pretty much anywhere you need with only a little more time spent charging than you would need to spend at a gas station. Your going to want to stop for food and bathroom breaks anyway. Getting used to the difference is the only real problem.

Driving

Driving this car is like a dream. Our car is a Model S 85. We do not have the performance or dual motor options. It’s not nearly as fast as the newer tricked out cars. But, it is crazy fast and easy to drive. When you need power its there. No hesitation, no struggle.

All of the included technology makes this a great driving experience.

Conclusion

It’s only been a few weeks, but so far I have to say I’m ridiculously happy with this car. It’s like having two car payments, and the insurance is a bit more. I’ve never had more fun driving a car.

Who knows what will happen in a few years I may trade it in on a new or used Model 3. We need more people to buy electric cars and to drive the price down. Don’t fight the future, embrace it, and have a good time.

HomePod Mini Review

So I got a HomePod. I did not previously own any of the other dedicated Voice assistant devices.  I could talk to my phone, and my watch, and my TV. But, the power of a dedicated, always listening assistant is just more useful. I have used the Amazon device in other environments and thought it was pretty cool. But, I'm all in on the Apple eco-system.

My short review is it's great.  I think it will get significantly better in the near future.

Sound Quality

This small speaker sounds great.  It does not sound better than my huge Stereo.   I won't be using it when I watch movies, but it is ideal for casual music in the kitchen or in the bedroom.  When cooking or preparing to start or end the day is when it shines.

Siri

Say things like:
  • "Hey Siri play some music." 
  • "Hey Siri shuffle Steely Dan."
  • "Hey Siri start a timer for 10 minutes."
  • "Hey Siri whats the weather for tomorrow."
  • "Hey Siri turn all the lights off."
  • "Hey Siri set the thermostat to 68."
  • etc.... 
Siri will most of the time hear you correctly and do what you want.  But, you need to know how to ask for what you want. Trial and error will eventually train you.  All the same issues you have with Siri on the phone are here. Contextual conversation often fails. Siri can't do some things that other devices can. You can only have one timer at a time. You can set alarms and reminders.

Siri needs more 3rd party APIs. Continue to develop and extend the limited apis already added to Siri. Add new apis. Let Spotify decide whether to develop an integration. Let Overcast develop an integration, etc...   I'm sure this will happen. I wish it would happen faster than Apple typically moves.

Siri needs to be consistent everywhere Siri can be used. The phone should be no different than the desktop, which should be no different than the HomePod.

Siri also needs to support multiple users on the HomePod.  I'm sure Apple wants this to be based on the person speaking. Not asking for a new profile to be active.  However, profile switching would be good enough for now.

Conclusion

If you use Apple Music. Don't mind talking to Siri occasionally on your phone. Have a place in your home where a good speaker would be nice. Then sure give it a try.  Don't buy it based on the possibility of future features. It does more than enough to justify the purchase.  If you already have Echo and are happy with it, maybe skip the HomePod.

I liked it so much that I already bought a second one.


Side Projects - So hard to get started

I have multiple side projects whizzing around my mind at the moment. The long overdue re-write of Simply Lists, my ill-fated To-Do list app.  I don't expect to make much money with it, but It's something I want to write for my own use.  I have a Trello board all ready populated with tasks. I just need to get started.

I also really want to move all the content I have here to a self hosted blog.  This involves exporting my content from Blogger, converting it to something like Markdown, and using a blogging engine of some kind.  I'm currently liking the idea of using something like Hexo. I like the idea of generating a static site.

Speaking of blogging, I've recently started using Micro.blog. It's an open replacement to things like Twitter. You can use the social graph of Micro.blog, but keep your content on your own site.

Now I need to decide which of these to work on in my limited personal time. Hmmmmm


Me?

I have had to make some big dietary / lifestyle changes and thought I would do a quick post to mark 40 days in.  It's still not normal to me, but I have to admit I feel pretty good so far.


8 Bit Madness

Electronics and old-school computing is one of the many hobbies I find myself returning to over and over. Of course I'm old enough to have been right in the middle of everything that you might call "old-school computing". I had a great deal of experience with the Tandy Model 1, and the Commodore 64.  I went to my friends house and drooled on his Apple II.  I spent way to much time typing programs into these machines. These early experiences are what inspired me to become a Software Developer.

I recently stumbled on a, new to me, YouTube channel "The 8-Bit Guy", the videos here are all about these old computers and their restoration. He also has a channel about synthesizers called "8-Bit Keys" thats pretty cool. Watching these videos has re-kindled my desire to work with electronics again. Check them out!

I have to admit I've thought about trying to buy a working Apple IIe or maybe even an Amiga. I don't need these - I have plenty of other projects to keep me busy.

Duluth Trading Co.

I often find it hard to find clothes that fit or that I like the look of.  I tend to favor clothes that are comfortable over the way they look. I'm also very large in both directions.

I heard about Duluth on a vlog that we have been watching and decided to check them out. Duluth specializes in comfortable, long lasting clothes. Their marketing is geared toward construction and outdoor work wear. They are also known humorous commercials.

There are no Duluth stores close to me, so I've only ordered from their website. I wish there was a store closer, so I could try some things on first.

So far I have purchased:


Everything has fit perfectly. The clothes feel like they are made extremely well. I'm sure everything will last for years. I haven't had to return anything yet, but they seem to have a no hassle return policy.

If I was going to complain about anything, it would be price. But, honestly the quality of these clothes is exceptional.  I think everything has been well worth the price.  If you do buy from them, be ready to receive daily emails with their latest sale.  There is always a sale going on.




Disney World 2017



This years trip to Disney World has come and gone.  I'm already thinking about when we can return.  I'm still betting we end up moving down there in the future.  I just love the place.  I always feel like a kid there.



We once again stayed at the Wilderness Lodge. We aren't members of Disney's Vacation Club, but I still consider this our home resort.  There are other resorts we want to try, but I always feel comfortable here.




One high point of this trip, was our first night dinner at Sanaa a restaurant at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Everything here was wonderful. It was super busy, but the excellent service and always great way Disney deals with food allergies made it a perfect meal.  If you go here deff try the bread service.




Now I just have to figure out how soon we can return.

iPhone X

I've had the iPhone X for about a week now.  Here are a few of my thoughts.

Pros

The screen is bright, vibrant, and super colorful. OLED has issues, but this is a well implemented screen. It has none of the artificial punch up of colors and contrast you see on some phones.  Accurate  and precise color representation.

Face ID takes some getting used to. You have to retrain yourself. iPhone users have gotten used to using Touch ID and the scenarios where it does and doesn't work.  Face ID works great, but has a different set of cases where you have to re-learn when it will or won't work. If you have "Attention Detection" on, which you probably should, then you need to actually look at the phone to unlock it.  With Touch ID, you could unlock it as you picked the device up.  After a week Face ID is already beginning to feel natural.

The A11 Bionic processor in the iPhone X is the same processor in the iPhone 8. It's super fast and very energy efficient. Apple is getting better and better at processor design.

Battery life seems better to me than on my iPhone 7+. This could just be that its a newer device with fewer recharge cycles.  Or, I could just be wrong.  Either way, it lasts all day.

Wireless Qi charging is convenient and easy.  If you have a metal case then your out of luck.  I have a cheap charger on my desk at work and on my nightstand at home. I got  the Anker wireless Charging Pad from Amazon.


Cons

The new gesture for the Control Center can be awkward with one handed use, but in practice I'm not having problems with it.  I have a bigger issue with the difference in animation between Control Center and the other "Pull Down" animations for search and notifications.

This is an expensive phone.  It's a luxury item. It's also the main computing device I interact with when I'm not working.  We will follow our normal keep it for two years and then sale it. We normally get $200 to $300 when we re-sale iPhones. I'm betting the iPhone X may even sale for more.


Conclusion

It's a great device. It's not perfect, but most of the minor issues I have are fixable with Software updates.