katsmeat: (Default)
A tale of good and bad luck...

Yesterday, I had the notion to kill 10 minutes in a Barnado's charity shop whilst waiting for somebody, and received that pure moment of exultation only generally had by suddenly-successful gold prospectors (insert movie stereotype of a crotchety bloke with a waist-length beard, a gold pan and a laden mule; wearing only a hat, boots and union underwear with a bum-flap)

Yes, pair of North Wave snowboard boots - a few seasons old but looking unused and only £9.95. And, praise $deity, they fitted! Perfect fit of these things being of such huge importance that the general advice when buying a pair is to set aside an afternoon and try absolutely everything the shop stocks. Whilst moseying around the empty shop, gripping the prize tightly, I noticed a crappy pair of ski-gloves. I asked the obvious question - yes somebody had come in to donate a complete set of stuff, but the jacket and pants had been sold. But half-full and all that.

I took the boots for a spin last night and they're an awful lot better than the crappy old Nitros I've been putting up with for far longer than I should. Huzzah! Thank you $deity, for the idiots in the world. Especially the people who buy all the equipment for a sport before finding out if they actually like it. I'd been contemplating new boots, and the associated £170-ish price-tag, with much apprehension.

And this afternoon, a crank axle on my bike snapped with no warning. The left crank-arm simply dropped into the snow with the a little snib of the axle. Fuck fuck fuck... I though Shimano UN54s were supposed to be ancient, obsolete, reliable, enduring and utterly bomb-proof. Now I suppose I have to get another one, given that I'm not about to pay ohmyGodHOWMUCH! to put one of Phil's on my round-town beater. Broad, consumer choice doesn't seem to happen much in the world of old-style, square-taper, bicycle bottom brackets. The distrsssingly polarized nature of the market is a fact that, I'm sure, is keeping you up at night.

On the plus side, my plan to put a fat, knobbly, off-road tyre on the front, and run it at low pressure, had worked quite splendidly in the slush.

katsmeat: (Default)
Catsmeat is looking for new snowboard bindings at some point.

My first-generation, K2 Cinches worn out, I think I've progressed past them and the design was always an annoyance in some ways. I'm hearing many, many good things about Salomon Relay, intermediate/advanced bindings and the nice chap at the local ski shop, hoping for a sale, has lent me an old pair to bash about on for a few weeks to see if I like them.

Naturally, I've taken him up on the offer, whilst looking for Relays on eBay.

Cue jaw drop....

eBay Screen Cap. )

"Used for one week on snow" is par for the course for ski and snowboard eBay listings. But this is a new level of abbreviating the experience. Clicking on 'other items from seller' pulls up two complete sets of boards, boots and bindings - I would guess 'his' and 'hers' from the sizes and models. Pricing it up, somebody spent over £800 on an hour of riding the Milton Keynes indoor snow hill, and did so about 12 to 18 months ago as it's all last season's stuff. The unknown snow-shop sales-person also managed to do the usual upsell with accessories to this pair of would-be thrashers, with a bullet tool, which is naturally still in its blister pack.

Contrast that with my consumerist guilt over replacing bindings because they still work, despite them being hammered for three years, having broken springs, badly worn ratchets and design flaws that have slowly grown from unnoticed to niggling to annoying.

I'm left with two conclusion. Firstly, I have simply no comprehension of the thought processes that govern a good many people's purchasing decisions - I'm not good at sales because lacking this comprehension makes it harder to exploit these people. Secondly, the medium and long term future, which promise a huge scaling back in people's lifestyles in the cause of the environment, may actually leave me more or less unaffected as it is already modest. It's people like this who'll feel the pain, assuming they're actually still solvent.
katsmeat: (Default)
Notes to self...

Buy the CD from the Short Bus Window Lickers, what the heck, it's only £6.

Read up on the Angevin Empire.
katsmeat: (Mischevious)
Yesterday, I rewired a dead desk-lamp that normally lights the workbench I use for bike stuff. The insulation of the cheap thin wires in it had cracked in the bulb's heat, shorting it out and taking out the fuse.

That sort of thing I like because it's like the world is screaming in my ear "THROW IT AWAY, THROW IT AWAY, IT"S EASIER TO BUY A NEW ONE FOR £4.99 FROM SAINSBURY'S" When I flippeded the switch and the light came on, it felt like I had flipped the finger to all that. Anyway, I feel mildly good for saving the carbon footprint for making a new one and shipping it from China and not making Sainsbury's slightly richer.

Later on, in Boot's, I was shopping for a toothbrush, amongst other things. I was about to unthinkingly grab whatever brand was 2 for 1 when I noticed the "Boot's Basics" ones that are 28p for 2.

They look weirdly incongruous, surrounded by ranks of all the other brands. All the ones round them, are brightly coloured and have bizarrely shaped heads, built in ultrasonic thimajbobs, and all other kinds of wonders that promise superior cleaning. Features some demented types with rimless glasses and a Masters in Marketing dreamt up in about a thousand brainstorming meetings, where they used thick marker pens to write single words in large letters on a flipchart about what Ms Average wants when she buys a toothbrush. Features that have more to to with getting the product sold than cleaning teeth, that they think will give you a small burst of positive emotions when you pick the item up and are essentially what happens when advertising and the product merge into one.

There amongst all that were the Boot's Basics. They are white and are 1/20 the cost of the others. My internal dialogue went as thus:

"Get the usual ones, they're on two for one."

"But those ones are cheap."

"Which means there's something wrong with them, you fool. How can something without 3D-Angled Bristles™® and a Multi-Flexi-Head™® possibly call itself a toothbrush?"

"Excuse, me! Bristles and a handle! What essential toothbrush features do these lack?"

"Look, it's only three pounds extra to get the proper ones."

"And exactly what benefit will I see from that expenditure?"

"I don't know, but you're just being weird again because nobody else buys the 28p ones."

< sighs >... "If I promise to uses these these for cleaning oil from bike cassettes, if they're unsatisfactory, will you shut up?"

"I suppose. But I bet you'll be back to get one of the others."

"Yeah... whatever. Fine."

< grabs Basic toothbrushes and stalks to the checkout >

Though, I'm now slightly suspicious that the 28p ones are carefully designed and packaked by cunning marketeers want to appeal to smug people who believe they can see through the transparent blandishments of marketing. Perhaps marketeers are like the devil - their greatest trick is to make you think they're not there. But they always are.

This is getting seriously paranoid. Sod it, I need coffee.
katsmeat: (Default)
- Must be very bombproof.
- Long battery life - I like the idea of one with a viewfinder so you can turn off the milliamp gulping screen.
- Nice pictures - I appreciate there's more to this then simply the megapixel count.

Any advice? I know little or nothing about cameras. This is notwithstanding the fact I used to sell them to people when I worked weekends as PC World (I bet you thought the cards listing features next to the display models were for the benefit of the customers, didn't you.)
katsmeat: (Default)
I've gone vegetarian, at least to a limited extent.

I'll happily eat free-range meat. But no more pies, pasties, etc - I think it can safely be assumed that any processed product containing meat is going to contain the cheapest, crappiest, most hormone and antibiotic infused animal-product the manufacturer can possibly source. That originates in some Animal-Auschwitz industrial unit whose name includes the word 'farm' but which otherwise has as resemblance to the traditional idea of agriculture as a pit-viper has to a Sherman tank.

Unfortunately, while I like pasties in general, I loathe cheese and onion ones and nine times out of ten, that seems the only non-meat option.

< shrugs >
katsmeat: (Default)
Screams with frustration!


Now the US$23.99 price tag will be bit steep for some people, but if you consider that these really do save a lot of time, swearing and in some cases cables, then it's not that much of an expense. I know it might sound very geeky to say so, but this really is a funky tool. And it's a worthy addition to any toolbox.

Price guide: US$23.99
Sizes: Just the one, Chunky.
Weight: 363g
Pro: Strong, sharp, does what it's designed to
Con: Not cheap

They're £29 in the local bike shop.

< Grrrrrrrrr! >
katsmeat: (Default)
< sigh >

Isn't it great being into bikes in the UK?

Park lockring spanner - US$13.95 or UK£16.50

Only two and a quarter times more!
katsmeat: (Default)
Ordering from CD Baby is worth it just for the "your order has been dispatched" email.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CDs and polished them to make
sure they were in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over
the crowd as he put your CDs into the finest gold-lined box that money
can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party
marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of
Portland waved 'Bon Voyage!' to your package, on its way to you, in
our private CD Baby jet on this day, Friday, February 9th.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did.
Your picture is on our wall as "Customer of the Year". We're all
exhausted but can't wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!
katsmeat: (Default)
So want one of these:


< evil grin >
katsmeat: (Default)
For once the brain is in gear.

Around 8ish last night, I became aware Lindsey Davis' new Marcus Didius Falco book was out. The urge for immediate gratification made me run round the corner from the city library to Borders, the only bookshop open until late, to get it.

It was only when I had the book in my hand that I realized - new hardback fiction from a reasonably well known author, it must be discounted somewhere.

I waited until this morning and lo - the book was £5 off in Norwich's ex-Ottikars, now a Waterstones. It's not the saved money that concerns me so much, it's the slight feeling of relief that I'm not going to spend the rest of the day kicking myself on the rear for buying the more expensive copy.
katsmeat: (Default)
I wrote a bitchy post on Bikepirates about a stainless steel Egg Beater pedal whose spindle cracked on me without warning. I politely emailed Crank Brothers without much hope. I told them the full story - the pedal was bought 2nd hand on eBay about 10 months ago (the vendor claimed it was only a few months old, though that's quite possibly BS). Therefore, it might be within their 2 year warranty period, but it might not - there's no way of knowing and I have no way of proving it.

Despite this, the guy form CB just emailed

Thanks for the email. I can mail you a replacement spindle, it should be easy to swap that out. Please let me know your mailing address.

jason // rider support
Crank Brothers
310 Broadway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

(cp to [livejournal.com profile] bikepirates )

< grins, wishes all companies were as cool as this >
katsmeat: (Default)
After not bothering to check mail for weeks, I find I'm running down to the post pigeon holes about 3 times a day now. The reason? I'm waiting for a free student-only Beta edition of Matlab. Of course, I'm no longer a student but the people at Mathworks only wanted a picture of my campus ID as proof of 'student status' and luckily the UEA's staff card is pretty much the same as the student. It doesn't say anything inconvenient like "Staff" on it. I have visions of 60 year-old full-professors and School Deans trying to scam cheap movie tickets by flashing their cards and pretending to be students.

Anyway, full-blown Matlab is about £1000 - an awful lot of money for a cardboard box with a couple of DVD's in it. When it arrives, I can shove it on my laptop and work in the coffee shop.

I cam in this morning on the single-speed, after swapping the broken Eggbeater for a couple of single-sided touring pedals from my parts box. Dunno what I'm going to replace them with. The simplest thing seems just a couple of new Eggbeaters. But I'm tempted to say "sod Crank Brothers". I don't like buying Shimano simply on principle so that pretty much leaves Time ATAC's or Speedplays. Instead of having a cleat on the shoe that locks onto the pedal, Speedplay seem to put the locking mechanism on the shoe. As you're walking on that, I'm not sure that's a good idea. AFIK, Look now only make road pedals leaving Ritchey as the only other option.
katsmeat: (Default)
My (3 day old ) Macbook Pro developed a problem. It was in a padded slip-case in my bike-messanger bag. There was enough pressure in it to flex the screen and put it into contact with the keyboard pannel - puttting a faint horizontal mark on the screen.

I called Apple (I bought 3 years Applecare so figured they may as well earn it) assuming there might be a way of removing it - alcohol screen wipes or something. I simply wanted to be sure of not using a solvent that would
damage the screen finish.

Instead, they agreed to send me a new Mac without me even asking.

< still slightly boggled >
katsmeat: (Bored)
Jeez... my Mine Flail article got rated as a B-Class on the quality scale .

And there's me thinking I could submit it as a featured article. < shrugs > I'll have to decide in the new year if I have sufficient interest to imrove it.

Oddly, I was in a military surplus shop in Norwich to buy a pair of trousers and saw they had a de-activated* anti-tank mine for sale - £19. As a result of the work I did researching the article, I find it strangely compelling (I also find it disconcerting that I can now identify the type by sight). Though I doubt I'll buy it. I have enough crap to find space for as it is. Given that the single thing it can do is not explode, it's not a very useful possession.

Actually, it would do something - it would confirm in peoples' minds the strangeness of my interests. Though I'm probably way too late if I want to avoid that.

* Well, I'm assuming it was deactivated. But I was fiddling with if for about 10 minutes and I'm still alive
katsmeat: (Default)
Can I say that whoever devised this product in time for the holiday season ^D^D^D shopping season, should be shot in the belly and left to bleed to death somewhere.

Devilshly clever though - hit small girls with the fantasy and the reality of feminity one go.
katsmeat: (Default)
Ok... you've seen binary watches before - http://www.thinkgeek.com/ is generally stuffed full of them. But have you seen one in pink with rhinestones?


Wow. Cool in a very twisted way.

Given the set of people who can read binary by sight. And the set of people who wear mainly pink and pastels and carry around tiny, spoilt dogs. What kind of individual is represented by the sets intersecting?

< boggled >
katsmeat: (Default)
Laptop decisions making (again).
Read more... )
katsmeat: (Default)
Hello, shoes; allow me to introduce you to Mr Hot-Glue Gun. < Sigh > don't buy 661 'Launch' bike shoes. Should've listened to the person who told me all 661 stuff was awful.

BTW today's "fun" discovery ... the Matlab command eval(string) treats the string as a command or calculation and evaluates it as usual. The command urlread(URL) goes to that url and brings back the web-page as one long string.

Nest them and lo! You can execute matlab scripts without bothering to download them.
If you have Matlab, copy'n'paste this:


And you can now know which prime numbers less than 1000 are palindromic. Alternatively, I could just tell you it's 179 and 971 but that would spoil the surprise.
katsmeat: (Default)
They're out!

Come to me, baby!


katsmeat: (Default)

June 2012

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