Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Hobbies Lead to Tool Lust


Once again I find myself in a hobby conundrum.  The only good thing is that I recognize it, and might be able to escape this one.  However, I am not really sure.

I used to love riding my bicycle.  I rode all over the place.  This might have a lot to do with the fact that I didn't have a car, but I am pretty sure that isn't all of it.  I know I loved the feeling of speed and power.  I remember once thinking I could be in the Tour de France.  I was never that good, but every boy has to dream.

I have always owned a bike.  When I had a job as a teenager, I took my bike to work every day.  If I had the choice of bus or cycle, I always chose cycle.  When I lived in Japan I bought a bike on a whim and had to carry it home on a very packed subway and train.  This was the kind of thing I did.  I never second guessed decisions like that. 

Lately, I have been thinking about getting back on my bike before the dust in the garage consumes it completely.  It would certainly help with the fitness part of my diet.  Of course, being dusty, it is going to require a bit of maintenance, and that is where the dilemma comes from.  I could pay someone to do it for me, or I could do it myself.


I know that I would rather do it myself.  Yes, it is a mechanical job, but it doesn't seem that hard.  So, I did what I always do.  I checked the internet and found lots of good resources and tools.  Do you see where I am going with this?

Regular readers of this blog (if there are any) know that I have tool equipment lust to a terribly high degree.  Sometimes, I love hobby tools more than the hobby itself.  I thought I was strange, but after reading other blogs and internet forums, I know I am not the only one.  Plus, I am one of those guys.  I think tools are cool.  I want them, and I want good ones.

My current lust features two things:  A bike stand for working on the bike, and a dedicated set of tools.  Of course, there are some really flashy ones out there, but I have settled on these two.  The fact that they come in sexy anodized blue is just a coincidence--or is it.  Perhaps, I really don't need these things, but I scratched the itch, and I am now I am starting to obsess.

I probably have enough tools that I only need a few specialized ones to do any repair that I want.  I also don't need sexy blue tools.  Plain ones will do.  As for the bike stand, while not necessary, it certainly would be handy.

The next deadly step is to go to a bike shop (rather than the internet) to see what they have.  I might succumb and regret it, but what else can I do.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

The Latest Hobby Itch: Arduino



 
 
I know I shouldn't do it, but I've got the itch.  I have become obsessed--no, that's not right.  The word is too strong.  Okay, I've become intrigued by Arduino, though I am not sure why.  However, I can explain how it happened.
I was looking for a new project.  Actually first I was working on my decision making processes.  That is why I read a book that differentiated between gain and pain tasks, and how we put off gain tasks in favour ending pain tasks.  The book recommended scheduling time for gain tasks, and not worrying about how long they take, or whether they every get finished or not.  Sounded wonderful to me.  (If I can figure out how to do it, I will put a link to the book in my Amazon store at the side of the page)
So, despite having lots of these tasks, I decided I wanted something new.  Kind of a silly thing, but that is how my mind works.  That is how I started writing this (and three other) blogs.  If nothing else, my typing skills have gotten better.  I thought I would like to do some sort of science/technical project.
In days past, I would have gone to the Efton Science Store.  Alas, that has disappeared, and I had no idea where to look.  So, I consulted my fallback position.  I checked Amazon and searched for "project kits".  That is where I found Arduino.  Just like a boy, I saw a kit full of interesting parts (all the bells and whistles), and thought, WOW!  I need that.  Though, in truth, I was not overly clear on what it was.
You've got to admit, this is cool.
After some YouTube videos, which are a tech nerd's dream, I am still interested, though perhaps overwhelmed.  It is probably too complicated, but I am as fascinated and overconfident as I am nervous and confused.  I consider this a normal state when thinking about a new hobby.
So, I ask you.  Have you had any experience with Arduino?  Can you tell me anything about it?  I would really like your help.  Also, if you know anybody with experience, could you send them to this blog to help me before I spend all my money and end up with a desk full of electronic bits and pieces.  Please.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

World Cup Thoughts


 
World Cup season is upon us.  My television is full of games, repeats of those games (condensed and not condensed) and a whole lot of commentary about those games.  My students, often proudly wearing their nation's jerseys or waving flags, are chatting non stop about the game.  They have begged me to watch the game in class on at least one occasion.  I suspect in the coming weeks, this will become a regular occurrence.

There are positives and negatives to all of this.  It is great to see such enthusiasm in people.  There is a hum in the air, and electric vibe if you will.  In most cases, I can tell they are talking about the World Cup, even though I can't hear what they are saying.  They are either discussing the latest controversial calls, the penalties or lack of penalties, the game, or making plans to watch the game.  All in all, that's pretty exciting.

There are a few negatives, sadly.  One downside is that my students are not really paying attention to school.  The begging to watch the game which seemed cute on the first day, will grow pretty tiring by the end of it all. 

Also, probably since I am not a fan, the marketing looks rather insincere.  When the Olympic hockey was on, the sports channels proudly proclaimed it "our game".  For the Soccer World Cup, the same station is calling it something similar.  While I guess it might be true for some, it doesn't ring true for me.  It just seems like shameless marketing.  Of course, what this means is that I am a victim of marketing.  They manipulated me before, and now they are manipulating someone else.  I guess I am more upset at myself than them.

In the end, I hope my students and everyone else enjoys this month of soccer.  I hope no ill feelings are created by these games.  I hope this tournament creates some happiness in the world.

 

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Yahoo vs YouTube


So I have heard that Yahoo is going to offer a competitor to YouTube.  I am kind of excited about this idea.

Don't get me wrong.  I love YouTube.  Anyone who has read this blog knows that I watch a lot of JVloggers, and spend more time than I should watching old TV shows and clips online.  I even have some videos on YouTube.  I think I have about ten.  They haven't gone viral (and I wouldn't receive any money even if they did) and only one of then has had a really strong number of views--though I am not sure what the attraction is, and nobody has commented on it.

I guess I just want to be there, on the ground floor when it happens.  While it won't be a new thing (like YouTube was), I would like to say I was there from the beginning.  I want to be one of the originals, even though the idea won't be that original.

There are problems, however.  What kind of content should I put up?  I am not in Japan, so JVlogging is out.  I live in Canada, and while I love my country, I cannot see any blogging potential there.  I love my hobbies, but since I switch them around so much and am rather lax on completion, I am not sure there is anything there either.  I love to rant (check out my other blog site to see what I mean) but I have a face for radio--and who would want to see a static image of a wall or picture while I rant away?

I am excited and I want to participate, but I don't know how.

On another note, I still don't know what they are going to call this thing.  YouTube is a brilliant name.  Yahoo tube sounds derivative.  YahooTV doesn't sound cool.  They already have Yahoo Screen--so I guess that's not it.  I suppose, if I were to name it, I would call it OnYahoo.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

A Modern Day Dilemma


I can be a bit of die hard.  I can hang on to technology far longer than some.  I haven't gotten a Blu-ray player or flat screen TV yet.  On the other hand I have an eBook reader, and I was the first to get a DVD player.

The question is whether it is time to go completely digital where my music is concerned.  I already have an MP3 player and have most of my library on my laptop.  I could put every single CD I have onto my computer and then either store or get rid of my CDs.  This would have been unthinkable years ago, but now...

When cassettes became passé they ended up in the trash (or recycling box...which then probably got put in the trash) or got sent to people who still had cassette players in their cars.  I didn't get rid of my LPs and now they seem to have come back in fashion.  I may have to go and dig them out of their storage/hiding spot.

This is such a first world problem.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Passion Lost


 
I just finished watching the Indy 500 on television.  I have to say that there was a time in my life when that was really important.  There was a time when I looked forward to it all week.  There was a time when I planned my snacks for the big event, like I do for the Grey Cup.  That time seems like a long time ago.  I guess it just doesn't capture my imagination like it used to.

I still like motorsports.  I dedicatedly watch the British Touring Car Championships.  I love the speed and the technology.  When I write like that, it is hard to understand why the 500 just doesn't do it for me.  I can hardly understand myself.

I am not going to repeat those oft cited 200 laps of left turns.  Those never made sense to me before, and they aren't going to start now.  I also am not one of those people who watch for crashes.  Thankfully safety technology has cut down on the fatalities in auto racing.  Sadly, they have not been eliminated entirely.

Maybe it is the commentary.  Despite the in car views, telemetry and abundant stats, I find some of those racing comments like nails on a chalkboard.  I don't blame the commentators entirely.  I blame them (and all commentators) for relying on cliche and hackneyed expressions, but I know that some of those are directed at less than knowledgeable and casual fans.  In this great high tech, high bandwidth TV universe, couldn't we have a secondary channel where they didn't state the obvious, didn't speak to me like I was five years old?  Let me choose, I might surprise you.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

A Valiant Effort



I am not really a basketball fan, but the Toronto Raptors certainly had my attention.  Although they did not win game seven and will not advance to the next round, they have earned everyone's respect and should be thanked.  They brought a winning, can do attitude to a city that seems stuck in a sporting slump (except the Argonauts or the Rock).

I was shopping today and I heard the stock boys and cashiers discussing the score.  Every few minutes another voice would ring out, begging for an update.  I don't remember the last time I witnessed something like that.  It was great.

They might have lost, but they aren't losers.  They along with the fans (die hard and bandwagon types alike) are the winners.  It was a great playoff series, and they deserved to win.  They deserve some respect.  They earned some respect.

Thank You.  You have done an amazing job.