Tuesday, November 25, 2014


We finally got some snow. Granted only a couple of inches but it's better than nothing. I had several errands to do today and I must admit that riding on fresh snow is in the "fun" category. The only place I needed 2WD was returning home up our road. When in 2WD, you do a lot of steering by shifting your weight on the pegs. I suspect that by tomorrow there will be a lot more gravel on the roads.

I needed to pick up a 1⅛" 6-pointed socket to remove the fuel filter on the truck. I had neglected to run the summer fuel out of the system and get some winter fuel. Summer fuel, aka #2 diesel, has a gel point of 10°F to 20°F and the last week or so of below zero temperatures meant that the fuel no longer flows. I have spare fuel filters so the current plan is to clear out the garage enough to park the truck (motorcycles get to live outside for a while) but I need to get the truck running long enough to move it. I'm hoping that replacing the fuel filter and filling the housing with anti-gel chemical and kerosene will enable the truck to run and start enough to move it. With a curb weight of over 7000 lbs, I'm not going to be able to push it.

The other errand was to pick up and return a "dishwasher installation kit" that the salesman said was essential. All of the parts were included with the new dishwasher so 5 seconds after signing for the part, I returned it for a refund. When asked for a reason, I put down "stubborn salesman selling unnecessary accessories".

BTW, this post is being done on an Acer C720P Chromebook. Much faster than the Samsung Chromebook I had picked up a couple of years ago. The key feature is the addition of a touch screen. After years of using an iPad, you get used to simply touching the screen. On this Chromebook, it actually does something. With 4GB of memory, 32 GB SSD and an Intel dual-core processor based on the Haswell architecture, it feels fast enough. The 720p display is much nicer than the older Samsung Chromebook.

Adding photos from the Nexus phone is in the "trivial" category.

Wednesday Morning Update - Our regular November temperatures have finally returned as well though the Weather Channel is still predicting a low of +3°F for today. This is a screenshot from the Nexus 4 Android phone and to add it to the blog, you just select the "From your phone" tab from within "Insert image" popup window. Couldn't be easier. Though I did have to google how to do a screenshot.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Winter Commute


I played around with the GoPro this afternoon and made a short video of my ride home. As you can see, not much snow. The camera is mounted to the turn signal stalk so there is a lot of glare from the left signal. This was shot about 20 minutes after sunset. I have a pretty low stress commute...


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Camera Test

Just a quick post to try out the camera on the replacement Nexus 4. The original phone has a broken microphone which makes it less than useful as a phone. It has a Barrow number to allow it to be reached from the toll restricted VoIP phones in the BARC. The replacement was ordered on Friday afternoon from Amazon and it arrived on Monday using "Standard Shipping". Impressive.

The new phone had to go through a long update process as it came with Android 4.4.2 installed and now has 5.0 aka "Lolipop". I like the Nexus line of phones as it has the true "Google Experience" without all of the junk software that cell carriers install on their Android products. Plus, Google controls the software update process not the carrier. It is also is carrier unlocked.

As you may notice in the snapshot, we have not received any additional snow. The roads have a thick layer of frost this morning left from the warm, foggy night. Hopefully, it won't get too much warmer. Last year we had rain the week before Thanksgiving and it pretty much shut down Fairbanks. Rain on top of cold roads made a thick layer of ice that hung around all winter.

The camera is supposedly 8 megapixels the same as the iPhone 5s but the pictures don't seem as sharp. I still haven't found a convenient way to transfer pictures from Android to the Mac or iPad nor have I found a decent blog posting app. Any suggestions?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Weather, Android and Gearing Up

Another beautiful morning. This is around 9:00am on Sunday morning which is about 40 minutes before sunrise. At -5°F, it's a bit cooler than was originally forecast. Lot of errands that needed to be run as I am in the process of installing a new dishwasher. The original builder must have not been sure where the dishwasher and sink were going to be installed as the hot water supply line for the dishwasher and the cold water for the sink came through the floor underneath the dishwasher. The new dishwasher has no room for such things. But after an afternoon of playing amateur plumber, the pipes are all rerouted. I still need to run a new hot water line for the dishwasher, maybe later today.

On Saturday morning, I had ridden to College Coffeehouse and it felt kind of chilly. When I returned home, I checked on my Nexus 4 (the "Barrow phone") using the Google "Weather & News" app to see what the local temperature was and it claimed 18°F. I then checked on my iPhone and got the more realistic temperature of 1°F. Even though Google puts up the Weather Channel logo, that must not be where they are getting their data as the Weather Channel app agrees with my iPhone. I think I like Google's temperature better...

The Apple iOS app, by the way, also claims to use the Weather Channel indicated by the logo on the lower left. The university temperature sign claimed -4°F at about 10am.

A few comments about Android. I had not even powered on the Nexus 4 since it was returned to me at the end of the summer field season. After charging, it updated itself from 4.4.2 to 4.4.3 to 4.4.4 to 5.0. I thought that the iPhone went through a lot of updates. The only problem with the phone is that it doesn't work well as a phone due to a non-working microphone. I think I heard that it went on a short trip through a washing machine a couple of summers ago. The tech last summer used it with a Bluetooth headset. I think I'm just going to replace it as the price of the unlocked phone on Amazon has dropped considerably since the Nexus 4 had first came out. And there are no 4G data services in Barrow. BTW, Android 5.0 aka "Lolipop", is pretty nice. Almost nice enough to convince one to switch from iOS. But battery life still seems to be lacking.

Inspired by Steve Williams of Scooter in the Stickspost about how much hassle it was to get ready to ride in colder weather. This morning, I timed the ritual of getting ready.

  • Head out to the garage already wearing the Gerbings liner
  • Put on Roadcrafter Light
  • Plug in Gerbings controller into the liner
  • Put in earplugs
  • Put helmet on either the Nolan 104 or Bombardier Modular 1 depending on temperature
  • Open the garage door
  • Start the Ural
  • Optionally turn on the heated grips
  • Plug in the heated gloves to the wiring built into the liner
  • Plug controller into the coiled cord that I leave on the bike
  • If it's below 10°F, put the breath mask on for the Bombardier helmet
  • Back out of the garage - total elapsed time 1 minute 45 seconds without rushing
  • If it's cold, I'll usually let the Ural warm up for a bit
I think the key difference is the use of the heated liner. Instant heat, no layering needed and the glove wiring is built in. The collar of the heated liner is tall enough and is also heated so my neck is toasty warm. I've never needed a balaclava. If it's below -10°F, I'll add a fleece liner over the heated liner. We'll see how well this works this year as I feel the cold more on the Ural than on the Beemer.

If I'm just going on a short ride, I'll usually dispense with the heated gear and Roadcrafter and just wear a riding jacket such as my old Kilimanjaro or a denim riding jacket over a fleece liner and insulated gloves. Not due to time but more hassle dealing with the bulk of the Roadcrafter when I reach my destination. Carhartt lined jeans are worn for most of the winter and they seem to do a good job of blocking the wind.