Homemade Cyclocross Barriers

OK, I know, this is hitting a planet or two, or three, where some of you just looked up from your basement and said, “HUH?!” As many of you know, I am somewhat into cycling and recently got a cyclocross bike. Cyclocross is like taking road cycling (you know, the type that Jens Voigt does. You don’t know Jens? Jeesh, how about Lance Armstrong?) and mountain biking, combine them in a road bike like setup, and race off-road. During a race you have to dismount the bike and jump over barriers or bunny hop over the barriers (just hope you don’t pull a Todd Wells).

In order to train for cyclocross you really need a barrier, or two, to jump over. Now, when you are training, you don’t want to have to lug around big wooden barriers, you want something more portable. Because of this, I Googled “diy cyclocross barrier” and got a few results. All were pretty much the same, and there was typically two variations of the design. I chose the design that would make the barrier stand up, but if you were to kick it while jumping, you wouldn’t trip and kill yourself. UCI and USA Cycling both state that 40cm is the maximum height of a barrier, or for you American turkeys (me included), that is approximately 153/4 inches. So, without further ado, here is what I created in less than 30 minutes with a whopping $3.06 USD with tax:

DIY Cyclocross Barrier

Cyclocross Barrier Hardware List (purchased from Lowes)

I used a pipe cutter similar to this one at Lowes. That is it, nothing other than my hands for this one. You could use a hacksaw, or heck, even a really sharp knife. The reason I didn’t use a saw of some sort is I didn’t feel like de-burring or sanding the ends that I cut.

Cyclocross Barrier Setup

  1. Cut off a 4 foot piece out of the pipe.
  2. Cut 2 pieces 13¼ inches long.
  3. Cut 2 pieces 8 inches long.
  4. Cut 2 pieces 4 or 5 inches long, your choice on this one.
  5. Attach the elbows to each end of the 4 foot pipe.
  6. Attach the other end of the elbows to the 131/4 inch pipes.
  7. Attach a tee to each end of the 13¼ inch pipes.
  8. Attach each 4 or 5 inch piece to the same said of each tee.
  9. Attach each 8 inch piece to the other side of each tee. This way both 8 inch pieces are on one side, and the 4 or 5 inch pieces are on the other side.

The side with the 8 inch pieces is the front, or the part you will dismount your bike and run towards. The side with the 4 or 5 inch piece is the back of the barrier. This way here it stands up straight in the grass, yet will topple over if kicked or tripped on, hopefully keeping your face and body off the ground. The way the legs attach to the elbows and the tees, makes the 4 foot bar portion approximately 40cm high, the maximum height allowed for a barrier. I could make this even more portable by cutting the 4 foot pipe in half, and then using a coupler to connect them when I ready to use the barriers. That would make the largest piece only 2 feet long, and that should fit in almost all backpacks or messenger bags (I can put about 5 or 6 broken down barriers into my Chrome bag).

Have any questions, just ask away in the comments. If I insulted you with my opening statements, then go shave your neck beard, and stop looking at porn or building Ubuntu packages (that was for my buddy Ben!).

Posted in Cycling | Tagged , | 1 Response

Download Photos From Picasa

So, I was tasked to download a bunch of images from another person’s Picasa gallery. At first this looked to be a pain in the rear, but I had noticed that on the right hand side of the person’s gallery there is an RSS feed. I quickly thought of Python with a bit of feedparser thrown in. And in just a few lines I was able to grab all of the photos from someone else’s gallery. The code isn’t clean, isn’t optimal, but it works.

#!/usr/bin/env python
import feedparser, os
items = feedparser.parse("<remote picasa web rss feed>")['items']
for i in range(0, len(items)):
    os.system("wget -q %s" % items[i]['media_content'][0]['url'])

Works good for a quick 4 lines of code.

Posted in Application | Tagged | 1 Response

Steve Jobs – My Take on the Man

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

I was sad to hear on Wednesday that Steve Jobs had in fact lost his battle with cancer. For the past couple of days the media has done nothing but run with it here in the US. Knowing a little about Steve Jobs and the tech industry, I heard a lot of stretched truths in all the coverage. To be honest, when the news broke into the show I was watching, and the way they started, you would have though that either President Obama had died, or Jesus himself came back and killed in a drive-by shooting. True visionaries die every day and unfortunately the news never breaks into a show to let you know about them. Was Steve a true visionary?

I guess if taking a lot of money and throwing it at something like Pixar or NeXT makes you a visionary, then no doubt Steve was one. No doubt Steve was a great front man for a really big company, but calling him a visionary I think takes it to far. If he was a visionary, you would think that he would have seen what was about to come from Gates and Microsoft back in the day. If I remember correctly, was it not his entire team that was in fact telling him what he was getting himself and Apple into back then? Is it not also true that if it weren’t for Steve Wozniak, there would be no Apple? Then again, if there were no Steve Jobs there would have been no Apple. Steve Jobs, a technology visionary or a marketing master, you decide.

Seeing as I am not a Steve Jobs buff, I had to brush up on a little history, and of course I used the always amazing Wikipedia. OK, so there was a bit of sarcasm with that last line. According to Wikipedia, it says Steve Jobs was the primary or co-inventor of 338 US patents. I know, 338 patents, we all just threw up a little in our mouths. There are a lot of electronic device, computing device, user interface for computer display, and many more technical patents. If I remember correctly, and Wikipedia can back me up a little as well, Steve wasn’t an electrical engineer, he wasn’t a designer, and he wasn’t a developer. What Wikipedia says is that he was a business person. OK, so they also say inventor. Let’s see, did Steve invent the computer? No. Did he invent the GUI? No. Did he invent the touch screen? No. Do you think he really invented speakers, keyboards, power adapters, or staircases? Will someone please explain to me what staircases he invented, and is this like the staircases in your home or is there staircases for your iPhone? I don’t think he invented anything, I in fact believe he rode on the coat tails of the amazing inventors, engineers, designers, and developers that Apple had hired. Like I said earlier, he was an amazing front man for an amazing and talented group of people. If he invented anything, it would be the mindless brainwashing and creation of robots known as Apple users.

OK, so I called Steve out a little. Actually, I didn’t call Steve out, I really called the media out who has swung from his proverbial nuts for the past few days. I definitely do not think Steve was an evil person and actually believe that he was a really good guy with such an amazing passion for technology and computing. I believe he may have assisted in some decisions which led to the success of Apple, but unlike MSNBC, Fox, CNN, and others, I do not believe he is the visionary he’s made out to have been, and I also believe that Steve just might agree with me. Never once have I heard Steve say, “I did,” nor have I heard him say “because of me.”

Will Apple be able to continue without Steve Jobs? The media are 50/50 on this. They wholeheartedly believe Steve was Apple, but at the same time a few people with a bit of common sense that realize the company was left in good hands with the new CEO, and all of Apple’s amazing talent is still in tact. Jony Ive is still at Apple, and I do believe he was the head designer behind such products as the iMac, the PowerBook, the MacBook, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. If I remember correctly, earlier this year Apple lost Bertrand Serlet, one of the original GUI designers at Xerox (isn’t that where both Apple & Microsoft ripped off the GUI?) as well as NeXT, and he was the principal developer behind Mac OS X. So to you media moguls out there, Apple will survive, they just won’t present the next iPhone with a blue jean clad, black turtle neck wearing, CEO. They will still come on stage and disappoint with a new product. Example, you all thought you were getting the iPhone 5 this week, only being told you are getting the iPhone 4S, but I guarantee you will all be standing in line at the Apple store, or AT&T, or Verizon, or wherever it gets sold, just to get it. Who cares if you have only had the iPhone 4 for just over a year, you will go and spend your hard-earned money, and for that we are grateful. You need the dueling antennas to get the reception you should have had from day one.

So, from me to you Steve, I will miss you. Even though I am not a Mac user or fanboy, I will miss your product launches. I will miss your true UNIX spirit as well. UNIX spirit? Yes, one thing Steve did when he presented was talk about an app and how that app did one thing, and did it well. The browser, the email client, other apps, and the iPod. Kudos to you Steve for helping create one of the largest and successful companies in the world. Thank you for all the philanthropic work you have done over the years. Thank you for showing the world there is something more than Microsoft out there. Thank you for proving you can create a mainstream UNIX-based desktop. And one last thank you, with a bit of sarcasm and fun, thank you for taking 10% of the desktop market away from Microsoft leaving us Linux people with a whole 1% to 2% stake in that market. Rest in peace Steve, you have done a lot of good work over the many years and you deserve the rest. My thoughts and prayers go out to you, your family, and your friends.

Posted in Personal | 11 Responses
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