Sunday, April 30, 2006

Smooth soft hands

The more miles I do on the bike, the more my hands take a beating. Road bikes are inherently uncomfortable. I've mitigated as far as I can - thicker padding in the shorts till they look like a filled diaper, a new saddle to help protect the rear a little more.

So the rear end of me is working out pretty good now. But on longer rides the vibration comes through the bars to my hands and I get very numbed out, tingly fingers. So, today new handlebar wrap.

This stuff has techno-gel in it. With a name like techno-gel it just has to be good. Wrapping the bars was an exercise in patience, but it looks ok now. The gel goes underneath all this and is supposed to adsorb road shock.

The first real test will be June 3rd when I go to ride my first century of the year. More news then sports fans.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

New toy: update

I thought I'd post an update based on Sancho's and Jo's comments. Both of you commented on the Xbox 360, which is the next part of the plan.

It started when I first heard about the ability of the 360 to integrate with Windows Media Center. I knew I wanted a PVR of some sort in the house, and I also knew that at some point I'd be buying the 360. That kind of sealed the deal in terms of the solution I was planning.

The first step was to then run a wired network downstairs through the house. I spent a weekend under the house drilling up into studs from below and praying I wasn't going through my hardwood floors. Fortunately all went well and I had four new hard wired ethernet ports, plus two new cable connection points for the TV and future PC / PVR hookup. I put in gigabit ethernet wire and switch and hid it all away in a cupboard. It looks very neat and finished.

Step two was the PC / PVR. Windows MCE means it will play easily with the 360.

Step three will be the 360, allowing me to stream TV across the network from the living room to the lounge. My wife will actually be asking me to buy the 360 soon, now that she's starting to see the benefits of our new toy. I'm really into how integrated all this is going to be - how I'll be able to stream my video across the network and not have to watch a commercial again.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Our new toy

Four new boxes were delivered to my house on Wednesday. Biggish sized ones too. I always love getting deliveries - I feel so grown up and also like such a kid when I do. I'd ordered a new PC from Dell, plus a new monitor, surround sound speakers and a printer / scanner combo that they somehow are able to sell for $19 (with free shipping).

The big big big thing about the PC though is that it runs Windows Media Center. This may be old hat to some of you guys, but it's a huge deal to me. Basically it's given me the ability to record TV shows to the PC, making it act as a TiVo-like device. There are a few very cool factors to this. So:

- since I got a new monitor with it - a 20" widescreen - plus surround sound, I decided to watch the Johnny Cash movie "Walk the line", with the sound all around me. Great sound and I really enjoyed the movie. After I'd stopped the DVD and removed it I went back to Media Center and saw that somehow in the background there was a new show for me and thoughtfully made available for my viewing pleasure. Now how cool is that ?! It's almost like magic to me - it just somehow appeared.

- my youngest came downstairs this morning and wanted to watch Bob the Builder. Just as he started his mom called him for breakfast. He wanted to still see the show, so I was able to pause it for him to come back to. Too cool - he was impressed too.

- I have it set to record every morning on the local 24 hour news channel. At 6:21 it will record the detailed weather forecast, so that when I get downstairs I can watch that forecast rather than having to wait for it to cycle back around at 6:51 or 7:21. I think that's just wonderful.

In fact, this technology is so cool it's pretty close to magic at this point. I figure that it's not really a gadget at all, that hidden away in the box where I can see it is the video pixie. I will do all I can not to anger the video pixie.

Friday, April 14, 2006

It's here !!!

Spring's here !!! Certainly feels like it anyway. The dogwoods are blooming in my back garden ... I can wear just a t-shirt into work ... the humidity is getting up there ... sandals are replacing sneakers on my boys feet.

I love this time of year, particularly in NC.

I rode to work twice this week, and yesterday morning was started 56F, the warmest day to ride in of the year so far. No foot booties needed, and only one pair of gloves.

On the cycling front, I'm getting an average of 50 miles a week in at the moment, 180 since March 17th (the start of my cycling year). My first big ride of the year, a 100 mile jaunt "Ride for the land" for the Triangle Land Conservancy is not far away. Here's hoping the new saddle keeps on being comfortable.

Happy spring time !