Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cisco CAE

Today was the Customer Appreciation Event at the Cisco Live conference and it was very loud with a variety of bands performing. I didn't feel like staying around for the headline group just the first couple. They were pretty good. Food was so-so with some sort of Asian tofu noodle dish, wonderful grilled vegetables, and American Kobe beef sliders. These I have to admit were pretty tasty though with 12,000 people in attendance, the food lines were pretty long.

Here are some shots of the performers. And you can see the size of the crowd in the third shot. Pretty nice show but pretty mediocre photography. Too many people...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cisco Live! 2010

Here is a shot from the window of my hotel room in the Mandalay Bay Resort. If you are an airport junkie, you couldn't ask for more. I remember when this was all vacant lots and way past the end of the Strip. When I was a student pilot, I landed at McCarran International Airport in a Cessna 172. It was a long walk along Tropicana Drive until I was able to get something to eat. Now, it is a very busy eight lane road with lots of hotels and casinos. This particular cross country flight sort of stands out in my memory since I got a load of water in the gas from the fuel truck. Must of drained out almost a gallon. Pretty scary as a student pilot since I wasn't sure it was all drained...

The Cisco Live! conference is, as usual, a wonderful training opportunity. The signal to noise (content to marketing) ratio is very high and the only real negative being the location. Last year, it was held in San Francisco and I enjoyed that venue much more. Here, it is over 100°F outside, smoking is permitted everywhere, and it is very loud. Many people, not all, seem either rude or drunk when you venture out from the casino but, in spite of all that, it is a great conference. Many folks are looking forward to the customer appreciation event to be held Wednesday evening. Someone named Smashmouth or something like that....

(Here is some motorcycle related content) This afternoon, I talked with a vendor who mentioned that his BMW GSA is sitting in the garage all packed waiting to head for Alaska as soon as he gets back to Colorado after this conference. He is also planning to stop at the BMWMOA rally in Redmond, OR, on the way north. Another vendor was raffling off a Honda dirt bike.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Guess Where I Am Now?

I'm here for the Cisco Live! conference at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. I walked to the Hilton for dinner and this iPhone photo was taken from the bridge over the road.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Nice Day to Ride

Today was just too nice of a day not to go for a ride. Another BMWMOA member had finished working most of the bugs out on his bike before heading out on a long road trip so we got together with a friend of his and went to Nenana for lunch. His bike is an 1984 BMW R100RT, just one year newer than mine but both are painted the same color. His is the one in front in the picture. Mine is in the middle and the beautiful, purple Harley is is in the back. It was sunny and warm for the entire trip and after a Mondo Jalapeno burger at the Monderosa, we headed into the village of Nenana and beyond for a little sight-seeing. On the way out of Fairbanks this morning, we noticed a new brush fire to the south but I didn't think about taking a picture in time to pull into the turnout.

On the way back into town, I did remember to stop and take a couple of pictures. This is another Autostitch iPhone panorama made from three iPhone pictures. Again, the only way to control exposure is to tap on the screen to use a similar area for focus and exposure. The fire was considerably bigger at 3:00pm than it was at 11:00am when we first went by. I'm told that this is burning on military land and no effort is being put into control. Unfortunate as it probably could've been completely knocked out this morning before it started growing.

Here is the mandatory bike picture. I actually washed it after the last trip to Rika's Roadhouse since it was pretty filthy after riding on the highway in the rain. I could barely see anything through the windshield. This was taken at the same turnout where the panorama was taken.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Arctic Ocean

A panorama created with AutoStitch iPhone app. It's pretty difficult to control exposure as you can't simply lock it. This is the Arctic Ocean viewed from downtown Barrow looking approximately north. I was barely able to see the lead right at the horizon.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tricaster Studio

Absolutely no moto content in this post.

Today turned out to be a much nicer day than it was yesterday. This is the view from Brower's Cafe and if you look carefully, you can just make out a bit of open water. It shows up as a dark strip just above the sea ice. There is still a bit of open water right next to the shore. The blue sky was pretty much horizon to horizon. It was still pretty cool but today it was a pleasant breeze where yesterday it was a biting wind. I think that this is one of my favorite places to take pictures up here as this isn't the first picture of these whale bones and skin boat shell.

I ended up spending much of the day unpacking and setting this up. It is a Tricaster Studio. Basically, a video production studio in a box. It has six video inputs, two digital video recorder channels, three virtual VGA computer inputs and four audio inputs. The audio inputs won't get much use since I prefer the tactile feedback of an actual audio mixer. There is a twelve channel Mackie mixer somewhere in the pile of stuff. Its output will just be fed into two two of the inputs on the Tricaster. Today, I just unpacked two of the Sony cameras that will be mounted to the ceiling of the conference room (once the mounts get here tomorrow) and connected them into the unit. There is a huge selection of transitions available and I, naturally, got the optional control surface. I also set it up to optionally feed the output to This was a test as in actual production, I will feed either a Windows Media server or a Flash server on the Fairbanks campus. It was still fun to try it out.

I plan on using a Mac Mini to capture and feed the resulting video to a Podcast Producer server. To do this, I need to have a "box" of some sort to convert the S-video output to Firewire for the Mac Mini. Since I didn't want to devote a lot of desk area to the podcast capture monitor, I picked up a 9" DoubleSight USB monitor for the Mini. As you can see, it works great. You can't see the boot process but once it's up and running, no problem. Compared to the Mac Mini, the monitor seems pretty small. I like it and may be tempted to pick up a couple more...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Just Arrived in Barrow, Again

Not much riding to report since last week beyond the normal everyday commuting. Not that is isn't enjoyable for me just not much to report on. It did rain just about everyday but then again, I kind of enjoy riding in the rain. The R100RT fairing provides pretty good coverage and I don't think I ever really got very wet. I did wash the bake last week maybe that's the reason for the rain.

I'm back in Barrow again and it still feels like winter. Granted, Fairbanks was beautiful today with temperatures in the mid 70s. I ran a few errands with the bike but spent much of the day getting ready to come up. The purchasing group mistakenly had a bunch of stuff delivered in Fairbanks instead of Barrow so I ended up bringing a bunch of stuff up as baggage. This is a shot of the Arctic Ocean facing roughly northwest along the beach. It was cold (30°F) and windy. As you can see, the ice hasn't gone out yet except for the small lead right next to the shore. On the flight in, you could see some large leads several miles off shore. I though about getting some walking in but decided that it was too cold to spend much time outside especially since I just had a light coat on.

This is on the NARL (Naval Arctic Research Lab) campus and shows some of the above ground utilidors. I believe the only thing they are still used for is delivering natural gas. The building right next to the overhead utilidor is hut 254 which is an example of the housing units made available to researchers coming up to do their work. Just to the left of this shot are huts 2 & 3 which are shown in the last shot.

These huts are used for vehicle storage and repair and as a staging area. Those heading out to the field can get their equipment tested and set up and during the winter, their sleds packed. Don't believe the sign on the building claiming to be a theatre. It hasn't been that since this place was still part of the Navy. It was shut down sometime in the late 1980s and ownership of the property was turned over to Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation. As you can see from the appearance of the building, this is a fairly harsh environment and their isn't much opportunity for maintenance. Most buildings in town are needing a coat of paint. Hopefully, I'll get some nicer weather before I head out and can get some better shots....

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Ride to Rika's Roadhouse

This afternoon, right after church, a small group of us headed for Rika's Roadhouse near Delta. I have never ridden my bike in that direction since it is kind of like riding on the freeway. Not really enjoyable. Through town, then multi-lane divided highway until passing the entrance to Eielson Air Force Base then two lane for the rest of the trip. Not too much traffic but, as you can see in the first picture, we started out in a light rain. Once we passed Eielson, the skies cleared up a bit, no real bright sunshine but not wet either. Some turns as the highway wound along the banks of the Tanana River. Past Harding Lake, Birch Lake and Quartz Lake to the turnoff just past the confluence of the Delta and Tanana River. We had a pretty mixed group with two Goldwings, a KLR, a Yamaha cruiser, a Harley and my old BMW. The two Goldwings and the KLR were two up.

This is Rika's Roadhouse and it is set up like a museum now as opposed to an actual roadhouse with a number of touristy displays in the out buildings and the main building is now a museum. In all the years I've been up here, this is the first time I have ever stopped here. But the real reason we stopped here was for lunch. Then again all our trips have been to somewhere for lunch. Prices were pretty high, which is sort of typical for these touristy places that the tour busses stop at but the food was pretty tasty. Crab bisque, strawberry rhubarb pie, coffee and a ham sandwich on whole grain bread. $17! They are pretty proud of their food...

Since the roadhouse is no longer used for food service, there is another new building set up for that. We pretty had the whole place to ourselves for quite a while until a couple of tour busses came in dislodging their loads. Since we were the only one there initially, we kind of spread out with riding gear and helmets taking up a number of tables in the restaurant. When the tour bus crowd came in, we took that as our signal to head back on the road. Not because we don't like tourists but we figured that they probably would like somewhere to sit down,

We headed to the gas station across the highway and topped off our tanks and here, I made a mistake. I took off without lifting the side stand. That threw my balance completely off when it hit the pavement and down I went. Only a one mile per hour fall and more embarrassing than anything else. Since I'm not supposed to lift anything really heavy, like my bike, several others came and helped. No damage, no injury to anything except my pride. We then headed back to town. All in all, a great trip, 194 miles, and my right hand never went numb from tightly holding onto the throttle grip. The new springs were worth ever penny and I should have gotten them sooner. No funny vibrations indicating fuel starvation and the engine sounded wonderful but I did notice that my oil pressure light wasn't working. With an old bike, there is always something that needs fixing. I noticed that the additional front facing lights really add to the visibility of the bikes. Something I should probably consider. I also liked the flashing LED brake lights. They really stand out. More farkles....

Saturday, June 5, 2010

EZ-Pull Springs

I went ahead and installed the EZ-Pull throttle springs. I simply loosened the hose clamps on each side of the carbs so I could easily rotate them since the springs are on the backside between the carbs and the engine block..I now found another area that really needs cleaning. In the photo, the original, factory spring is on the left and the new one is on the right. The wire gauge is lighter even if it is a bit longer on the EZ-Pull spring so I can easily believe their claim of 30% lighter pull. After snapping them in, you can easily notice the difference on the throttle. These old Beemers have a "maintenance screw" to add friction to the throttle tube to allow you to have a fast idle to balance the carbs. I had the screw turned down a few turns to help hold the throttle a bit so you weren't always working against the springs. I had to completely relieve the friction in order for the throttle to return to an idle. They are definitely much lighter pull. I then tightened the hose clamps on the carbs and moved up to the take a look at the throttle. There is a little gearbox on the throttle to turn the rotational force into a linear force and this is another area that is usually ignored during normal maintenance. I pulled off the cover and was very happy to see plenty of clean grease and the gears are in great shape. I suspected as much since the throttle is very smooth but it never hurts to check.

I took it for a short ride, partly to see how the throttle feels and partly to help charge the battery. I had left the key switch on Thursday evening which leaves the parking lights on so the battery was almost dead yesterday morning when I was getting ready to leave. I had it plugged into the battery tender all day but it wasn't enough to fully charge the battery. Tomorrow, our church is having another ride supposedly out to Rika's Roadhouse near Delta. I suspect it may depend on the weather as some of the riders don't really care to ride far in the rain. I'm not complaining about the rain since it can only help with all of the fires in the area. Hopefully, my right hand will like the lighter throttle springs...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Beemer is Back on the Road!

I picked up the thermal compound at the local computer store so I was able to finish putting the bike back together. Took it for a short ride to see how it ran, fill up the fuel tank, and make sure there were no leaks. I guess another reason was to see how my body reacted to riding. I'm happy to report that the bike ran great, no leaks and I feel just fine. No aches or pains or at least no new ones. I didn't head up the long hill on this ride since I promised to just ride to the gas station and back and not try and push myself. The rebuilt petcocks feel silky smooth and the engine started on the first compression and just seems to run better. I guess the vacuum leak contributed to the harder starting. Maybe tomorrow I'll try a longer ride.

My Beemershop order came in today with the carb overhaul kit. If it runs fine, I'll wait until this winter to do the overhaul. I'll be sending off the heads then for a thorough rebuild at that time. One other item I ordered were EZ-Pull springs which are basically replacement throttle springs with a 30% lighter pull. According to the web site, I don't need to pull the carbs to install them. They do recommend giving the throttle grip a good cleaning. I may try and do that before replacing the springs.

Wednesday evening - I took the bike up the hill just past Ester to see if the vibration returned. The good news is, it's gone. The tank was full, as before, and about the same air temperature, cruised up the hill in fifth at about 65 or so and even passed a couple of trucks. I guess the problem was the broken vacuum line and the really lean condition it created. Just like yesterday, the bike started on the first compression and idled smoothly. I guess the carb rebuild is going to wait...