Archive for July, 2019

Garth goes racing (again).

July 29, 2019

Last Saturday I participated in a 25-mile mountain bike race, the Sorini 25, which is part of the Butte 50 and Butte 100 races.  I really did not race, I just consider it a large expensive group ride that happens to have a timer. I finished in 5 hours, 7 minutes.  I had only one goal, to beat anyone older than me. I succeeded. There was only one rider older and I beat him by 10 minutes. My time could have been better but I stopped to help a gal with a flat tire for about 15 minutes.  Like I said I do not see this so much as a race but more of a chance to have fun with a lot of riders I do not know. Two years ago when I last did the 25 my time was something like 4:45.  

I have done the Butte 50 twice.  The 50 is noted to be one of the most brutal races in the US.  8000+ feet of climbing and tops out at 7200 feet altitude. The first time I finished (and was not last) in something like 10 hours.  The second time I got cramps at 30 miles and had to quit. 105 degrees and the race has some brutal climbs. Over 50% of the racers did not finish that year so I do not feel bad.  

The Sorini 25 is supposed to be the “easy” ride for those that do not want to spend their life training.  It is not “easy”. 4000+ feet of climbing at 6200+ feet altitude. (I live at 3200 feet and that 3000 feet is very noticeable.)  The last mile is a push up a steep sandy 4-wheeler road. Ugh. I have to say it was worth the $75 entry fee except for that last mile.  Next year there is going to be a new course that will not have that sandy push. Hooray! I am in. For next year I do need to train a bit more.  I ride about 3-4 times a week but the rides were too short this year. I was getting pretty gassed near the end of the race and had to push things I should be able to ride.  I can pretty much smoke anyone on a single track downhill (low IQ and poor survival instinct) but the climbs kill me even when I think I am in shape. I need to get some 20 – 30 mile rides in with ugly climbs.

Now I have to spend the week recovering.  The 4th of August I am heading to Bend and Oakridge Oregon for three days of riding.  Just some place new and different in an area that is supposed to have wonderful trails.

The IT job and weird magic.

July 11, 2019

Doing the IT job for the school can be interesting and challenging.  Sometimes it is just weird magic. Last week I bought some new Ubiquity wireless access points for the elementary school.  It is necessary to adopt, update and configure the APs. To do this I usually just line them up on my workbench, plug a bunch in and set them up through the interface software.  Done it before with no problem. This time I plugged two in and the school’s network went down. No internet, zip. What the heck (or words to that effect). I unplugged one and the network came back up.  I plugged the second one back in and down it went. More what the heck (or words to that effect). Bad AP? Tried another. Nope, still died. Weird switch issue? Plugged the second one in to the main school switch.  Down she went. Time to go home and have a beer and think. The next morning I try to replicate the issue. It is still wacky. It did not vanish overnight. Nuts. I replace every part involved in the AP setup. No luck.  Network still dies when I plug in two APs. I sits and thinks. I have been troubleshooting for about two hours.  I have eliminated all the hardware variables so whatever is causing the problem must be non-hardware related. The APs are 12 inches apart on my bench. Could proximity be the issue?  Never has before but what the heck, I have pretty much eliminated everything else. These are new model APs I have not setup before. I move the second AP to another room. Everything works. I plug in a third AP in a third room. Everything is good.  Proximity. What the heck (or words to that effect). For some reason the two AP signals were interfering with each other enough to kill the school network. I will have to do some research. Arthur C. Clarke’s third law states “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”.  At the moment this issue is magic. Weird magic at the moment but I will discover the why.  Later.

Like I said this job can be interesting and challenging.  I love it.


Thunkable, here we come.

July 3, 2019

I want to teach a phone app design and programming course.  Earlier this last school year I started the research on possible programming languages/platforms and talked about it in a couple of posts.  If I was going to do it Android Studio seemed to be the way to go.  So a few weeks ago I started testing the course I wanted to build. I found a decent and recent free textbook (“Android Programming for Beginners 2nd Ed” by Horton) to start with and handed it to my summer tech aide to try out.  I have some used second generation i7 laptops with 8 gigs of RAM I had planned to hand out to those kids that did not have a better laptop of their own. (I do not have a teaching computer lab, everything is BYOD or I give them a used laptop to keep.)  I had just acquired these from the free State recycle warehouse and they were better than anything I had and seemed like they would do the trick. I gave my aide one of these to test just to be sure. He immediately hit problems. The book was just fine, the computer was not so fine.  I looked up the requirements for Android Studio. 8 gigs is a minimum and more is suggested if using the emulator. Most of the kids have iPhones therefore I need the emulator. There are only 2 ram slots in the laptops and I only have 4 gig cards to rob from the extra laptops so 8 is it. Opps. Time to punt.

I am not crazy about App Inventor so it was low on my list of options but it hits the free requirement.  I had looked briefly at Thunkable, again hits the free requirement, but took only a glance because it looked like App Inventor (and it does).  Oh well, I am punting so I pointed my aide at it. (My summer aides typically help me fix computers and rebuild the computer labs. Sometimes I am lucky and get one that actually knows computer stuff.  This summer I got really lucky. My aide knows computers AND can think for himself.) Thunkable is not App Inventor. It has a lot more depth to it. It can test on iPhone and Android. Good punt. Now I just have to build a course and test a lot of material and learn the software.  The usual teacher summer.

When I picked up those laptops I also picked up some i5 towers.  I am going to take the RAM out of three and cram it all into one and see what happens just out of curiosity.