obligatory obscure reference

self-deprecating yet still self-promotional witty comment


Some tips for new cyclists in Pittsburgh

Filed under: Cycling,Pittsburgh — jet @ 10:30

Some notes from today’s ride

  1. Before you start cycling here, and especially before you move here or look for a place to live, go over to BikePGH and read up on the city. Get their fine cycling map and your riding will go much more smoothly.
  2. There’s a popular belief that Pittsburgh drivers are some of the most polite in the US. While this may be true, they also get into dangerous, passive-aggressive games of “no, you first” that block traffic and cause other people to do stupid things.
  3. The Pittsburgh Left is as real and as dangerous as it seems.
  4. If you see a motorist doing something rude or dangerous don’t assume they’re a jerk. It’s quite likely that they’re probably just incompetent, elderly, or both. The state driver’s exam is a joke — you just drive a bit in a parking lot — and there’s also no mandatory retest as you get older.
  5. If elderly, incompetent drivers annoy you then avoid Squirrel Hill.
  6. There’s a reason there are sharrows on one side and a bike lane on the other. Trust me.
  7. If you’re in Oakland and almost collide with an oblivious college student, thank Pitt.
  8. If you’re in the South Side and almost collide with an oblivious hipster, thank PBR.
  9. Negley is not nearly as fun as you think it will be.
  10. Yes, you broke 35mph without trying. We all have.
  11. Cycling here has improved several orders of magnitude in the four years I’ve lived here. There are bike lanes, sharrows, a pro-bike org, and city support for cycling.
  12. Tuesday night is Bacon Night at the Harris Grill.


Google Street View vs. Your Privacy

Filed under: Hacking,Random and Pleasing — jet @ 20:57

In the middle of dealing with the permit process to build a deck off of our house, I read about the little oopsie Google had with collecting network data while running Street View.

It took me less than one minute to come up with some great ways to “monetize” Google Street View data by selling it to:

  • local government code-enforcement units so they can issue fines for building without a permit
  • repair/building contractors buying images of “all houses with old gutters” or “all houses with peeling paint”
  • law enforcement agencies looking for pot growers (cf. electric bills triggering search warrants)
  • security consultants / network security software firms selling fixes for things like unpatched software or open networks

You now have one minute to come up with other ideas, GO!


Thinking of building a Mendel…

Filed under: Hacking,MakerBot — jet @ 20:49

Building the Makerbot Cupcake was pretty straightforward and it’s been a lot of fun playing with it. My biggest problem right now is the print envelope — 80mmx80mm is all you can realistically hope for, and that’s with a heated platform to control warpage. I’ve made some useful bits for my bike computer project and cranked out a bunch of new year’s ornaments, but other than that I haven’t been using it much. Everything I want to print is too big, either in terms of warpage or in terms of x/y size.

Since I’m interested in bigger things, so I’m looking into building bigger printers. (Anyone who wants to buy me a Stratasys can ask and I’ll give them the delivery address…) One option is to build a Mendel which has an envelope of 200mmx200mm. Another is to figure out how to put a print head on something really big, like a knee mill or a large CNC plasma table.

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