Zomg Babbage

I'm in Mountain View, CA this week for work and for a variety of reasons ended up taking a ridiculously early flight down today. In the end it was probably worth it since I got to finally visit Weird Stuff and the Computer History Museum. Weird Stuff was something of a let-down as it's mostly just full of old PC hardware and while the prices are good, I wanted more... well... weird.

On the way back from that I remembered that the Computer history museum was nearby and since I'd never managed to get in while it was open I thought I'd try again. It was my lucky day. Just as I walked in and caught sight of The Difference Engine a docent was starting a talk about it. It's an awesome machine. That made getting up early worth it.

There was a bunch of other old hardware, but after The Difference Engine it all seemed somehow a let down. Though the Cray 1 was pretty cool, and you could stand inside of that!

Pics here.

Pow! Pow! Power-wheels!

The battery in the R50 is giving up. On my ride home last week the headlight would go out if I let the revs drop. So today while I was out I picked up another. This is the box that it came in:

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    amused amused
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How to piss off your customers in 3 easy steps...

Imagine you are a cellular company that wants to shed some customers because your network is being driven into the ground by iPhone users.  Here's a plan that should get you some breathing room:

  1. Announce that you are going to require data plans on 'Smart Phones.'

  2. Without warning 'upgrade' all your customers to a $30/month data plan.

  3. Refuse to revert the change claiming that 'The System' will only change it back.

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    annoyed annoyed


Had a great weekend up until tonight when the computers started fighting me. Mostly it's the BIOS on this new server, but aggravated by stupid installers. Enough about that, here's the fun I had:

Saturday I got up early (for a Saturday) and got to Ride West in time to be there when the parts and apparel swap opened. I just missed a rear seat for the R50, but I'm next in line if the buyer decides that he doesn't want it after all. It was in really rough shape, but priced at only $5 I could put some effort into it. I did manage to score some really nice Lee Parks gloves at about half price. I also met a few vintage bike people and chatted a whole bunch. I met up with Morgan and we chatted for a while. Just as I was about to take off cooncat and G showed up so we chatted a bit.

I took off from that and after doing a few things at home I headed to the brew store to pick up an apple crusher and ratchet press and hauled them over to ibexris and mimsy's house. It was a lot of work, but oddly enjoyable. After several hours of work we managed to turn 630 pounds of organic apples into about 34 gallons of cider. I took home 5 of that, 1 for drinking and 4 to turn into hard cider.

Sunday I returned the crusher and press and picked up a few oddments for brewing. I then visited my brother to help out with my nephew's halloween costume. He's going to be a lightning bug this year, and I'm in charge of illumination. I've got 100 yellow LEDs, I just need to figure out how to wire things up. I'll be making some little lens-like devices with the laser cutter that will hopefully diffuse the light better. It's all going to be powered by a mintyboost.

After looking over the costume and testing a few things Andrew, Jack and I went to Costco. Jack was pretty good and even let me hold him long enough that my arms got tired. He's a cute kid.

Now I'm home, waiting for this install to finally finish so I can copy a bunch of data off a failing array. It's not the way that I wanted it set up in the first place, but it's close enough that I can fix things later.


I've been extremely busy of late. Mostly helping my friend Matt open up his new retail space (http://metrixcreate.tumblr.com/ for a bit of info.) I'm pretty happy with the shelves I built. I designed them in Sketchup, cut all the bits and screwed it all together with only minor tweaks.

Tonight I installed a new exhaust system on the R50. I was going to keep using the one I had but I got fed up with how poorly it fit (it's for an R60) so I sprung for a new complete stainless system. It's an exact replica of the OEM system only in stainless so it will last nearly forever. I'm pretty happy with it. I no longer have dual exhaust leaks and that's a good thing. I finally got the rear brake shoe today and will install it as soon as I can. I've also got a seat mounting bushing to install which should firm up the ride a bit. After all that I need to get started on the sidecar.

The Rockster is still out of commission as I've not yet had time to replace the fuel filter. Thank you BMW for putting it inside the fuel tank. That's a great place for it I don't think.

On the fluffy flying friend front we have a new bird staying with us for a while. She (He? It?) is a baby black cap conure, about 7 or 8 weeks old at this point. She is smaller than Niko and incredibly cute. I've been taking her to work a lot, my coworkers seem to like her.

The Groovik's cube appears to have gone well. All of the photos look great. I hope we set it up locally one day, though that would take a lot of effort and a good chunk of cash.

So busy...

I'm helping out with a bunch of projects. One friend is building a 15' rubik's cube, the other is starting a new business, I'm trying to build a makerbot and I've got a motorcycle that needs some love. I think that I need to take a week off just to sit at home and do what I feel like. Too bad I can't for at least a week.
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    drunk drunk

It's Alive!

Tonight gordonmessmer came over and we installed the exhaust system, put a bit of gas in the tank and did a few last minute checks. The engine started and ran on the second kick. This is even more amazing considering that we soon discovered that the left cylinder wasn't firing (pulling the plug wire did nothing to engine RPM.) Turns out that the left carb was completely dry. The float needle was jammed and there was no gas getting in at all. I cleared that and we kicked it again and it ran way better. Did another spark plug cap pull check and now it was the right side that didn't want to run on it's own. Pulled the plugs and the right side was running rich so after resetting the carbs and a bit of tinkering things were balanced up a bit better. Then the engine really wanted to run. It actually starts halfway through a kick now.

So I took it for a ride around the block. It's been so long since I've ridden it that I'd forgotten what it's like. It was a blast. Gordon had a goofy grin on his face when I accelerated past him on the street. I did a lap around the block with the transmission bolts finger tight to align things. Then Gordon tightened them down and I pulled it around into the driveway again.

I'm having a celebratory drink tonight. There's still some fine tuning to do, the timing isn't right and the carbs are still only coarsely tuned, but it runs and that's cause for celebration!

Final steps, and a closer look at the next project

I pulled the R50 out of the garage today to do some work on it and was startled by how good it looked in the daylight. The clean engine makes a huge difference:

Tonight I filled the bike with fluids, gapped and installed plugs, checked the valve clearance and checked things over. I think that the last thing is the exhaust (that doesn't fit, but that's another story), fill the tank and kick it over. We'll see how well that goes, maybe tomorrow.

On the sidecar front, I pulled it into the garage and had a closer look. I tried to pull some of the nuts and bolts apart but they are pretty well gone. I think that I'll try using electrolysis to remove/undo the rust and see if that helps. In the mean time, have a look at the awesome plate that is mounted on the nose of the sidecar: