Monday, February 28, 2011

The Days Are Getting Longer

To all those with a light dusting of snow or a bit of winter weather, not a lot of sympathy from anyone around here. Actually, this is pretty typical weather for this time of year. It gets cold at night when the night sky is clear then, as you can see, it warms up significantly during the day. The days are getting longer at the rate of approximately 6 minutes per day. Sun up to sun down is already up to about 10 hours and it is almost sunny by 8 am. Daylight hours are actually in excess of 12 hours per day counting dawn and dusk. You can actually start to feel some warmth from the sun. Most of our snow will be gone in another month or so and by mid April, the roads should actually be clear enough to ride. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to spring X-country skiing and some long walks as the days get longer. For some reason this winter, I haven't really felt like walking much. Last year, I was averaging almost 50 miles per week. This winter, under 20. Maybe I'll try and improve my average this week.

Just to get a little moto content in, I still haven't heard back from the Beemershop. The last I heard, they were getting ready to start work on my heads and get some needed machine work done. Maybe I just need to call them periodically. Once it gets a little warmer outside, I'll start working on the other items on my list. Lately, the garage has been a bit too cold and wet.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Two-Factor Authentication

No moto content in this post but anyone using Google's Blogger platform or Gmail service should consider taking advantage of their new two-factor authentication service (sometime referred to as two-step authentication). In addition to the normal userid and passphrase used to authenticate into Blogger or Gmail, you will be prompted for a passcode. This passcode can be generated using a free Google app on your smart phone (e.g. Authenticator on my iPhone) or it could be sent to you via a text message. Everytime you run the app, you get a different passcode. I don't know how long it is valid but I suspect on the order of a minute or so. Essentially impossible to guess. So you have to not only know your passphrase but also have possession of your mobile phone. To sync the app with your account, a QR code is displayed on the screen during the setup process. You just aim the camera on your phone at the screen to read the QR code. The app is now synced to your account.

Once the app is setup, you simply run the app after entering your username and passphrase. A code is displayed on your phone, enter it in and you're logged in for the next thirty days. Pretty slick. Many Google apps don't support two factor authentication yet. For these, you generate one time passphrases for each app using the Google account setting website. For example, if you use their IMAP service with your laptop or smartphone, a one time password will need to be generated for your email client to authenticate. This service is a huge step forward and I would encourage anyone with a Google ID turn on this feature. Many of those that comment on this blog have Google IDs.

Edit Tuesday morning - So far, I have three apps that don't support two-factor authentication. IMAP from my email clients on my laptop and phone, Google Voice app on my phone, and the Google Latitude app on my phone. I suspect that I'll probably run into a few more over the next couple of weeks. I now also have it set up on my Google Apps account (hosted domain). You have to enable the feature for the domain.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Red in the Morning...

This morning, there was a pretty nice sunrise. This is welcome compared to the blizzard we've had here in Barrow for the last couple of days. -15°F and 35 knot wind plus snow makes it feel like winter. This shot was taken around 10am. For the last several days, the wind has been blowing from the north. This morning was calm and now the wind is blowing from the south. All the snow drifts across the roads were cleaned up this morning and now they are reforming...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Messenger Feast

I arrived in Barrow yesterday evening and was surprised to hear that I had arrived before the last day of Kivgiq and was encouraged by several to to at least go see some of the Eskimo dances in the high school gym. Of course, I had no idea what they were talking about so I felt obligated to at least stop by for a look. Kivgiq is the re-creation of the Eagle Wolf Messenger Feast by the North Slope Borough and it brings together people from throughout the area for a time of dancing and celebration. After all, the sun is above the horizon again. There was also a craft fair going on where folks from all over the area were selling hand made goods such as kuspuqs, baleen, ivory, seal skin mittens and hats, and all sorts of other things. There was a hospitality room set up where local families made all sorts of food for the visitors from out of town and even included some very thinly sliced maktaq or whale blubber. This celebration has been going on since Wednesday morning and there was a full schedule of activities every afternoon and evening since then. There have been dance groups from the different villages performing as well as speakers and story telling going until way past midnight every day. I imagine that there has been some feasting going on as well.

Here are some photos of one of the dance groups.

I did pick up a decorative knife made by a local Barrow artist from whale baleen and decorated with a bit of ivory, a bead and polar bear fur. I thought it looked pretty cool. I  don't think TSA would like this in my carry on...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Valve Recession Update

Just got a call from Ted at the Beemershop and he confirmed my initial diagnosis. My airhead was suffering from a bad case of exhaust valve recession. From what I've read, this is caused by a change in the metallurgy of the valve seats that BMW made in 1980 due to the unavailability of leaded gas. This resulted in poor heat transfer between the valves and the heads. Valves, seats, springs and guides will be replaced as well as machine work on the head to ensure that the valve seats fit well. Estimated time to completion is about a week and a half. I may get the heads back on the bike before the end of the month in exchange for a lightening of my wallet. And they will be shipping all the gaskets and O-rings to get it back together. I think I will put off the ugrade to the charging system until next year. BTW, I should add that all of my interactions with the Beemershop have been great. I've ordered stuff from them many times in the past and when I shipped the heads, I said "no rush".

I don't think that I ever got used to the time change last week from traveling to the east coast. Combine that with the stress of teaching a workshop that I haven't done in over a year. I ended up arriving home completely exhausted and just wanted to sleep.