Thursday, October 30, 2014

Indianapolis Monument

Today was the last evening in Indianapolis and the "Net Gurus" meeting was finished at 6:00 pm. The group went out to a Tapas restaurant about a mile from the hotel. This is the Indiana State Sailors' and Soldiers' Monument we passed on the way. I wanted to take a picture on the way over (more light) but there was too much traffic to stop in the middle of the street.

I had never had a paella before that was made by someone else before. I've made it at home but have never even seen it on a menu. I was happy to see that the flavor was about the same as the homemade version though the ingredients were dramatically different. Tomorrow will be spent flying back home with stops in Dallas (what!?) and Seattle.

This post was originally done using an iPhone app called BlogTouch Pro. Better than most of the others but still not really as good as Blogsy on the iPad. If you stopped by earlier, you may noticed that you can't "click" the picture to enlarge. The only option is to manually resize the photo to fit in the column. Kind of lame but for low quality pictures such as this, that's not a big deal.

Since I have several hours sitting in DFW, I went ahead and edited this post using Blogsy on the iPad.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Conference Food

Typical lunch at this conference. Grilled salmon (they also had something like tandori chicken), white bean ragout, cauliflower salad, cherry quinua salad, grilled vegetables and jasmine rice with pine nuts. A decent selection. Plus two or three kinds of dessert.

Last night, I finally made it out of the hotel and a couple of us walked towards downtown to try out the Weber Grill restaurant. As in, everything on the menu is cooked in a Weber grill. The food was really tasty, especially the pretzle rolls. Probably too much sodium, but I this is only the second time that I've been here. The last time was in July 2009 when the Internet2 Joint Tech meeting was in town. Tonight, five of us went to P.F.Chang which is a chain restaurant that had tasty asian food. (no pics = didn't happen = no calories?)

The keynote speaker on Monday afternoon was former hacker / engineer / CTO / CEO now venture-capitalist Harper Reed. He had shown this picture in the middle of the talk probably to get a response from the audience (it worked!). The talk was about pushing the boundaries and not accept the status quo. If you saw him on the street you wouldn't think most of those titles would fit but he was an excellent speaker with a great message.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Robot Video

This was an autopost. Hmmm, I need to look into that...


Just a shot of the view from the hotel window looking towards the downtown area. The wind had picked up some during the day but it was still above 70°F in the evening after a daytime high of over 80°F. I haven't had much opportunity to walk around outside as meetings or sessions ran from 7:15am to past 8:00pm. And it's pretty much the same all week.
Indiana Statehouse
Moving to the end of the hall, a quick photo of a baseball stadium. I'm afraid that I'm not at all familiar with many of the locations in the area. I still haven't even made it out of the building.
I just thought that it was a little odd to have a power plant in the middle of downtown especially being surrounded by the sport facilities. Though it doesn't look like it is operational maybe it's been turned into something else. I believe the large building in the background is Lucas Oil Stadium where the Super Bowl was held in 2012.
In the evening, there was a robotics demonstration just in case folks had never been involved in robotics. These robots were not autonomous and the challenge was to pick up a ball and toss it through the red rectangles above the folks controlling the robots. They were also using the opportunity to encourage some of the 745 tech types to get involved in the K-20 robotics programs.

As an aside, the network VP mentioned this morning that 60% of the traffic over the Internet2 layer 3 network (traditional routed network) is research and engineering traffic. This is the green in the graphic on the left. And total traffic is 61.79 petabytes (61,790,000,000,000,000 bytes) in the month of September. This does not include layer 2 traffic. This is equivalent to streaming 11 million movies in HD or downloading 19 billion songs.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Heading to Indianapolis

On Sunday afternoon, I left central PA and headed for Indianapolis. I know that I've been here before but it all only vaguely familiar. The last time, I stayed on the IUPU (Indiana University Purdue University) campus in their hotel management facility. This time, I'm near the convention center in a Marriott. Quite a change. This is the view looking towards downtown Chicago in the distance shortly after take off.

Over three hours waiting around the Chicago airport felt like a really long time. Especially since they seem to enjoy shuffling people around. I arrived at L6B, next flight was at G2B, then G21, then L6B. I was told that this was a common occurrence in Chicago. Kind of a long day for not too many miles. I just found out that Chicago to Indianapolis is only 183 miles. I could've driven there in less time. This is just a snapshot looking out the window while waiting for the elevator.

This morning, the 2014 Technology Exchange, sponsored by Internet2 and ESnet, began. Lots of familiar faces and quite a few new ones as well. Not too much going on this morning since they shuffled the schedule around a bit. One of the interesting announcements from Google last week with another two-factor authentication option using a physical USB key. The current time based system using their phone app works well as long as you have an accurate clock. I'm tempted to try it out though it obviously won't work on the phone app as there are no USB ports.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Farmers Market

After arriving in Harrisburg, PA, a little after noon, we headed down to Elizabethtown to visit Bridget's dad. We took a liitle field trip to the local farmers market to see what they had available. There were lots of pumpkins both the traditional orange and the more unusual (to me) white. I am told that there isn't any difference in flavor and they are still orange inside. Somehow, the white ones don't make me think of fall.

What they had a lot of were apples. Many different varieties and sold by the peck or the bushel. A few other things such as these beautiful plums, lots of jams and jellies, and other locally produced products. We picked up a peach/raspberry pie to share with friends that we will be staying with for a couple of days. BTW, I had originally met this wonderful couple back in the early 80s before I had moved to Alaska while we were at a field site in Lost River, WV. The leaves were changing colors then since, as I was told, this is the easiest time to identify the different types of trees.

I think that we missed the real intense color in the leaves by about a week but it still looks pretty nice. Plus, it was 71°F earlier this afternoon. Can't complain too loudly about that. The green is kinda nice after Barrow.

I'll be here for a couple of days total before heading to Indianapollis on Sunday for the Internet2 Technology Showcase (what used to be known as the Fall Member Meeting).

Later, Saturday Evening - We went back to the farmers market as this was the last day for pick-your-own apples. As you can see the trees are still loaded with apples. They had row after row of just about every type of apple I've ever heard of and many others that I hadn't. I believe the sign at the end of the row said that these were Pink Lady apples.

I went further looking for my favorite, Granny Smith and the trees were loaded. After Bridget and I selected one apple each, we went to where they weighed the bushels to pay. We put our selection on the scale, one Granny Smith and one Golden Delicious, and paid our 50¢. My apple was delicious.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Flying Again

Passing through Seattle again on the way to PA to visit Bridget's dad. Just a quick shot out the window waiting for our American Airlines red eye flight to Chicago. Then a regional jet to Harrisburg. 

I thought the seat configuration was unusual though I'm not complaining. There was this table typy thing in the middle seat. Not temporary as the seat numbers didn't suggest that the middle seat was even there. Someone said that if a certain number of seats were blocked, they could drop one flight attendant. 

The Alaska Airlines pilot in his welcome message said that the flight from Fairbanks to Seattle used 1900 gallons of jet fuel. For the number of passengers and the distance covered, it came out to 79mpg. He compared that with a motor scooter but didn't want to guess how long that trip would take.

This was posted using BlogTouch Pro for the iPhone. Still not as good as Blogsy for the iPad.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The "Beach"

As I mentioned in one of the comments, I went ahead and wandered onto the beach on my way to dinner. This is the Arctic Ocean. The snow on the beach is obvious but the white out on the water is not an artifact from slow shutter speed or something. That's really how it looked. I think it was the wind blowing droplets of water which froze as soon as they were airborne. I can't think of another reason but the result was really interesting.

I didn't stay out of the truck too long (I left it running) as the wind has picked up somewhat. It almost ripped the door out of my hands when it was opened. In town, the houses do a pretty good job breaking the wind. There were quite a few drifts across the road out from town towards NARL and I was glad to have a ¾ ton 4WD crew cab to plow my way through. Most of the drifts were around a foot deep. And the wind is now around 35 knots. Almost a blizzard…

I just got off the phone with another Ural rider in southeast Alaska who is planning a road trip around Alaska beginning sometime in January. Now there is a tough rider...

A Short Walk

I decided to outside for a short walk outside of the BARC (Barrow Arctic Research Center) right around solar noon. After all, we all need to take advantage of whatever daylight there is, right? Blowing snow, temperatures in the high teens (°F) and 25 knot winds. Needless to say, it wasn't a very long walk. This is the view towards the rest of the NARL (Naval Arctic Research Lab) campus. The new line of poles on the right were put in to replace the older infrastructure on the left. The buildings shown aren't more than a couple of tenths of a mile away and even though it almost looks like a road between the poles, you'd bog down pretty quickly in the mud.

Looking to the south towards the BEO (Barrow Environmental Observatory), it wasn't looking too much better. This snow fence has seen better days but when there is a lot of snow, it does a pretty good job of keeping it from moving.  Today, there isn't enough snow to worry about. The snow fence on the other side of the road was dismantled last July and I thought that it would have been replaced by now but the mounting posts are still empty.

Looking to the east, you can just see the radar dome. Earlier this morning, it was difficult to make out. There weren't enough contrasting edges in this picture for the autofocus on the camera to work. The weather service is forecasting similar conditions for the next couple of days. Hopefully the Alaska Airlines flights will still be running.

Maybe I should have gone for a walk on the beach...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Going To Yosemite

This post will possibly be of interest only to those running OS X. On Thursday evening, the newest version of Apple's operating system for the Macintosh was released and they named it Yosemite. I guess they ran out of large cat names. I must be a geek as I couldn't wait to try it out on at least one system. After downloading the 5.18GB installer, I followed the directions readily available on the Internet to make a bootable USB stick to avoid having to download it more than once.

The in-place installation went without a hitch and took a grand total of 18 minutes on my Macbook Pro from start to finish. (SSDs are wonderful things) By comparison, on a 27" iMac with a much faster processor but a spinning hard drive took almost 3x as long and an older Mac Mini took well over an hour. So far, the only non-compatible program appears to be an old version of Printopia that I don't need or use any longer. Most of the changes seem to be cosmetic with the exception of Continuity which is only significant if you also have an iOS device like an iPhone or an iPad running the newest version of iOS.

One really cool feature using the cell service on the iPhone is that I can send and receive SMS messages and voice calls. This may sound rather useless but I, like many others, usually spend much of the day staring at the computer screen and now I can answer calls or respond to text messages without digging the phone out of my pocket.

No complaints, everything seems to work and the hand-off features between iOS and OS X seem to work pretty seamlessly. I've upgraded several of the Macs here in Barrow and all have been seamless upgrades.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Heading North

A parting shot of Fairbanks as I head north once again. I wasn't planning on visiting Barrow until next month but a few things have come up and I've been absorbed in a programming project. The project was fixing an online nomination and election system for the staff governance office. Over the years, I've been annoyed by some aspects of the system and set out to fix them rather than just whine about it. I now know a lot more about Perl, MySQL, Shibboleth and JavaScript. 

Shortly after leaving Fairbanks, I tried an HDR photo showing the fog in the valleys. This photo really demonstrates a major shortcoming of a phone camera. The small sensor results in a lot of digital noise in low light situations such as this. But I still like the colors of the morning sky. Winter-like temperatures arrived in interior Alaska today with temperatures of 11°F. I think that Barrow is much warmer.

By the time we got to the Brooks Range, there was more light so not quite as much digital noise. This is also a HDR photo and both photos were made using the Pro HDR iPhone app. (My favorite one to date) Prudhoe Bay and Barrow are overcast so I'm not sure if there will be any photos from the flight.

Coffee with plain yogurt with granola and fruit. A reasonably healthy breakfast served on the flight up. But it's always a challenge for me to eat healthy while in Barrow. I believe that there would be few, if any, in the science building so I should be able to get a lot done.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

In Before Sunrise

It has gotten to the point in the year when there isn't even a hint of sunrise in the eastern horizon during my commute in. The official sunrise isn't until 8:41am (sunset is at 6:31pm) and until today I was at least able to tell which direction was east. I now can really appreciate the lighting on the Ural versus the BMW. So much more light on the road even though they both use the same H4 bulb. Just a newer headlight lens design. The LED fog lights put a nice pool of light on the road just in front and sides of the bike but don't add any distance. I still haven't moved the LED driving light over from the Cozy as I still haven't figured out the "best" place to mount it on the sidecar.

I had mentioned in my last post that the Gerbings gear was sent in for repair but it isn't really cold enough for it to be missed...yet. I did manage to get the Arctic Cat brand handlebar mitts that I've used on the Beemer the last two winters to fit. The challenge was that there was no allowance for the mirror stalk and the throttle cable on the Ural sticks out perpendicular to the bar. Plus I didn't want any pressure on the clutch or brake levers. It was a really tight fit compared to the Beemer but I think that it'll work. With the heated grips and these mitts, my regular riding gloves are more than adequate for our current temperatures.

Today, October 14th, 2014, is Ada Lovelace Day.Or more formally known as Augusta Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace and has been just recently heralded as the inventor of computer programming, mathematician and the founder of scientific computing. She lived between 1815 and 1852 which was well before the development of what we know as computers. But the concept of using a calculating machine as a general purpose computing device was unheard of at the time let alone the idea of computer generated music. Today is all about the celebration of women's achievements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Curiousity go he better of me so after running around this morning, I drained the crankcase vapor canister I installed last Tuesday. This is how much water came out after only about 120 miles or so. It's not a lot but pretty compareable to the amount of water in the Beemer carbs. I'm pretty confident that this may really be the solution. 

No heated gear for the next couple of weeks as I decided to send back the liner and gloves back to Gerbings to be repaired. One of the glove connectors is broken as well as the liner connector. I can find the jacket connectors at Radio Shack (power connector "N") but not the mating connector such as would be used on the gloves. Additionally, the resistance of the two gloves are different suggesting that there may be a broken wire within one glove. I'm thinking that the Gerbings gear was never designed for near daily use.

On Saturday afternoon, a half dozen of us went to Nenana to visit KIAM radio. It was started in 1983 as an offshoot of Arctic Missions and I had visited the station with a friend back in the summer of 1983. At the time I didn't know that the station was just started. Their current director is a retired IT manager from a university in OR that I had met a while back. We got a fairly in depth tour of the station as well as an overview of their translators around the state and stations in Bethel and Houston, AK. It is only a 250W FM station but a 10KW AM station. A very small, mostly volunteer staff so they don't produce much local content.

While we were there, they were broadcasting one of the novel things permitted in Alaska. Up here, stations are allowed to broadcast personal messages. The intent is one way communication for those within range of their signal. For example "To George Smith on SuchAndSuch Lake, we are flying out to see you tomorrow with Joe. We have the xyz widget that you asked for". I thought that these programs were kind of novel when I first moved up here as just about all of the stations had similar programming. Some even have online classifieds. I probably could have ridden out to Nenana but thought I should be a little sociable and ride with the others.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Some Minor Mods

Water in the air cleaner
Since colder temperatures arrived, the Ural has been running rough upon returning home in the evening. Really similar to the way the BMW was running last winter at colder temperatures. Upon arriving home today, the carb bowls were checked for water using the handy drain on the bottom of the bowls but didn't find any evidence of water. The airbox branch pipes that run from the air cleaner to the carb inlet were removed and the left one had a lot of water drops in it just like when they were checked a couple of weeks ago. The air cleaner housing also had a puddle of water with a trail of moisture from the breather hose which is attached to the left side of the air cleaner housing. The right side of the air cleaner housing and the right airbox branch pipe was completely dry. Seems like a good time to add some of the pieces and parts I picked up in Salem.

This is the solution sold by Raceway Ural in Salem, OR. A nicely machined, anodized aluminum canister with two hose fittings on top and a drain valve with a hose fitting on the bottom. In the old days, the crankcase vent would simply have been a hose aimed towards the ground. Sometime in the '60s this was no longer allowed and venting the crankcase into the air cleaner housing became the norm. The aluminum canister is mounted to the frame by a nicely machined clamp.

After removing the stock hose, the original crankcase vent fitting is turned up and a new hose is run into the top of the aluminum canister. A small diameter hose is attached to a valve on the bottom of the cylinder to drain the contents. The folks at Raceway suggested draining after every tank of fuel and that it depends on the temperature, humidity and if you have ethanol in the gas. (Alaska has none!)

Horizontal twins aka boxer twins and singles move a lot of air through the crankcase vent. With a boxer twin, the pistons both move in and out at the same time so the entire engine displacement of air is moved in and out of the breather hose with every revolution. Similarly, a thumper will move the entire displacement in and out as the piston moves up and down through the cylinder. Other engine configurations don't have this "issue" as when one piston moves up another is moving down balancing things out. For the Ural, that's 106 ft3 of air per minute while running down the highway.

The second hose runs from the top of the canister, along the top of the engine to a small air filter. The suggested location for the air filter is above the battery and below the seat but can be anywhere where it is somewhat protected from moisture. The air filter is the only shiny part of the whole system.

If this makes a difference, I may have stumbled into a solution for the rough running on the Beemer in cold weather. As it also has a boxer engine and the crankcase vent runs directly into the "air horns" inside the air cleaner housing.

I also picked up replacement airbox branch pipes from Raceway at the recommendation of ChrisL of The stock parts are made up two rubber 90° hoses, a short metal coupler and 4 hose clamps. Getting all of these pieces lined up correctly and the hose clamps tightened seemed to be a real hassle. Not an issue with these new one piece parts. BTW, these are not aftermarket but sold by Ural as a replacement part. I'm not sure if the lower hose clamp is even needed as everything fits together so well.

I had installed this earlier but figured that I may as well show it installed. This is the quick disconnect that fits into the fuel tank crossover hose. You simply push the round button and the two pieces pop apart and both sides seal. No more fuel leaking out when the gas tank needs to be removed. The hose above the quick disconnect is the one from the top of the canister to the small air filter under the seat. Given the amount of air that needs to move through this hose, it seems undersized.

There is still a lot of snow and ice on the road and the Ural is even more "sure footed" than the BMW especially with the GripStuds installed. I think that there is more weight on the rear tire and having brakes on all three wheels makes a huge difference. With the BMW, just touching the rear brake will lock up the wheel in these conditions. Possibly due to a lot of weight transfer to the front when braking. The leading link front suspension design on the Ural seems to eliminate the front end "dive". As you can see, there aren't that many studs installed. I just alternated from side to side so there is a lot of room to add more if needed.

Update - Upon returning home today, there was no rough running, no rich smelling exhaust and no moisture in the left airbox branch pipe. I didn't bother to check the right one.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Frosty Ride

Last night was the monthly Airhead get together at the local microbrewery. We had a large turnout of about 15 including a couple of new guys. One of the new guys, Gene, is someone i had worked with quite a bit back in the 90s so it was good to see him again. He had recently picked up a 1980 R65 and had used it to travel around the state.

I tried riding without studs installed in the tires in yesterdays fresh snow as suggested by Mickey, the Anchorage Ural dealer. Somewhere between 3" and 8" on the road and I now know for certain that the 2WD works on the Ural. It was needed several times on the commute. After getting home from work, I installed the studs into the tires. It took 52 in each of the front and rear tires but didn't have enough to to all of the sidecar tire so I just ran a row down the center slightly staggered from side to side. I guess I'll order more before rotating the tires. With the studs installed, the ride to the microbrewery felt secure and and the rig planted to the road.

We are beginning to get winter temperatures this morning. Kind of annoying that the connector for one of the heated gloves within the jacket was broken. Of the four connectors on the Gerbing jacket, this is the third one that needs replacing. Fortunately, Gerbing provides additional wiring with the gloves for use with other jackets so I just ran that through the Roadcrafter sleeves. These temperatures also brought the winter helmet out of storage. The face mask is uncomfortable but the tradeoff is no ice on the visor. A fair trade. On the ride home last night I needed to pull over and clear the ice off the inside of the visor. At these temperatures, the Pinlock insert alone isn't sufficient. The first picture is the windscreen after arriving home last night. Kinda frosty.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Quiet Weekend

On Friday afternoon, I drove (yes drove) up to 37 mile Elliot Hwy where we had a men's retreat. I had volunteered to cook so I went up early hauling all of the food, to sort out the kitchen and start dinner preparations. Fortunately, another gentleman who had just finished building a trailer mounted smoker volunteered to test it out on us. He had previously owned a restaurant and had the expertise and experience to make some fabulous ribs and pulled pork. It wasn't a large group only ~25 or so. Food preparation was pretty straightforward.

The camp was pretty quiet and even though it was only a short ways off of the only road to Prudhoe Bay, you could barely hear what little traffic there was on the road. This is the main room and at this time, most of the group was out trying to shred targets or out on their mountain bikes or four wheelers. These guys were playing some overly complicated board game. I preferred to sit and relax. Cell service is lost once you are about ten miles out of town, water is pumped out of the creek, wood heat and electricity is from a generator. A wonderful way to spend the weekend.

The snow didn't melt off of the road so it was a slow, slippery trip back to town as it was just below freezing. There was some evidence of a large tractor trailer rig sliding off the road at some time during the day. Traffic was also slowed by a barge looking thing being transported by truck. Slow as in 10mph when going up or down the hills.