Friday, December 24, 2004

Ouch

I'm out of town for the holidays and will be spending a week off of the bike. To keep in shape I brought my running shoes and have been putting in runs every morning. Now, I'm not much of a runner, but I figured I'd be ok. My coach warned that I might be a bit sore.

Well, that was an understatement. I've gone out for about an hour each day and... holy shit am I sore! My legs haven't been in this much pain since I was into weight lifting and put in a tough session of squats. I dread the thought of walking stairs.

Strangely, I'm really enjoying it. Running is different and doesn't require as much gear as riding a bike, so I hope to make the most of my time off... even if that means hobbling around for most of the week.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

New Calendar

Today's news about a proposal for a new calendar got me thinking about all the code I've written to deal with dates and times. Time zones, leap year, daylight savings (which is different in Europe and a couple states, btw) have all driven me mad over the years. I wonder how much money has been wasted writing and maintaining this mundane code. I'm not sure I think switching the calendar globally is the right thing, but I sure wouldn't mind some consistency within a single organization. Sigh.


Sunday, December 19, 2004

Onfolio 2.0 Beta

I've been playing around with the beta edition of Onfolio 2.0 for the last few days. It is a kind of tool for managing the content you find online, or something like that. Frankly, I haven't quite figured out exactly what it is trying to be, but I'll tell you this, it has a great RSS reader and that is what I've been spending the most time with.

The newsreader integrates very well with Firefox and provides a much richer experience than Sage. In particular, it will periodically poll your feeds and highlight new items. It also generates a "newspaper" view for new items which shows all new items on a single page. Individual feed items can be moved into a "Readlist List" folder, allowing you to quickly scan through new items and save the ones of interest.

Of course, it has all of the issues you would expect out of a beta piece of software. A large memory footprint, unexplained pauses and general sluggishness are all part of the package. Hopefully these will be addressed in the final release, but for now you'll have to deal with a couple annoyances.

The beta can be downloaded for free here:
http://beta.onfolio.com

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Announcing Mobile Money Racing

For the last few months I've been involved with setting up a new cycling team in the Seattle area. The team name is Emerald City Cycling, but Mobile Money was generous enough to step up and become our title sponsor. The team is a great group of guys who will be racing cat 3 and 4 in the coming season. Over the last few months, all ofthe guys have really pulled together to get this organzation together. We've secured sponsorship, set up the organization, put up a website and designed our team apparel. I'm impressed.

I am also very impressed with the way companies have come forward to help a small team. Check out our website for a complete list of sponsors and updates about the team.

In the mean time, here is a peek at our team apparel. Keep an eye out for us.



Wednesday, December 15, 2004

RSS Readers

I never quite understood all the hype around RSS readers, but I recently decided to check them out to see if I was missing something. I felt I had a pretty good news aggregator in Firefox. I simply have a bookmark folder containing my favorite haunts. When I want to see what's up, I right click, choose Open In Tabs and I'm done. Firefox takes care of the rest. But.. as I said.. maybe I'm missing something.

I quickly decided I wanted an RSS reader that integrated with my browser. The options for Firefox are a bit slim, but I ended up going with Sage. After you set up bookmarks for all of your feeds, Sage will run over all of them with a single click and highlight the feeds which have changed. All of the feeds are presented in a newspaper like view, with small blocks of text for each entry. Unlike other readers, Sage does not periodically poll feed sources, you must explicity tell it to refresh.

So is it any good? Yes and no. The main benefit I've found is the ability to quickly figure out which sources have new information. This allows me to sift through information much quicker than opening a massive number of browser tabs. The downside is that the presentation of the news is just plain boring. I like visual display of individual websites and letting my eyes be drawn to new stories. The digested, essentially colorless, feed display makes it harder to skim and find interesting stories. That said, I think I have found a new tool and have found myself using it regularly to quickly keep up to date.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Managing my music collection

I've been struggling to figure out how to manage by music collection. I have a rather large collection of files encoded in WMA format at a high bitrate. I listen to music primarily at work, but also occasionally listen at home using my PC or Audiotron.

My main problem has been figuring out how to keep everything in sync available in all places. Unfortunately my choice of the WMA format a while back completely screwed me because my Audiotron doesn't support it. Neither does my Tivo for that matter. So either I rerip everything again or live with not being able to stream music around the house. I looked around at various streaming options but haven't found anything that supports the wide variety of devices I want. mp3 served via windows shares seems like the lowest common denominator. iTunes looked quite interesting, especially when coupled with AirTunes, but was too captive for me.

I decided to punt on streaming music around the house for now. I think the only answer is reripping everything and I'm just not up for it. So, what about the synchronization problem? I thought about getting some kind of USB drive and lugging it between home and work. DVD-R's are always an option if the collection is mostly up to date. Neither of these options were particular appealing so I went in search of some nifty software to do it, and I found the answer. Plain and simple rsync. It's secure (can be run over ssh), provides incremental updates and is easy to use. I use it to sync music between my PC and backup server so why not between home and work. The initial sync was not exactly quick, but who cares? It required none of my time and was free (unless Comcast cuts me off for excessive bandwidth usage ;)). Yep, KISS prevails again.