thingelstad

Jamie Thingelstad's personal website

Month: July 2007 (page 1 of 2)

Doping in the Tour

The 2007 Tour de France is winding down, and is frankly a complete mess. The culprit, doping. Or, the appearance of doping. Yesterday was Stage 16 and the scene of a great battle on the Col d’Aubisque. After the stage Rabobank withdrew and fired the maillot jeune of the tour. Only days prior to that Alexander Vinokourov failed a test and was expelled from the tour, along with his entire Astana team, after blowing up the individual time-trial and beating the entire field.

Last year we had Operación Puerto which ejected many riders from the peloton. This years Tour seems comparable to the 1998 “Tour de Dopage” when doping scandals riddled the Tour and just over half of the riders that started finished the race. The 1998 doping scandals caused a permanent footnote to Armstrong‘s first Tour win in 1999 since many riders were suspended from the race.

Let me be clear, I think doping in cycling is a scourge and it needs to be remedied. I also completely believe that doping is prevalent in many sports, and I give cycling credit for being serious about doping. I would expect that more cyclist are caught doping than any other sport, I would expect that is largely the result from actually testing and doing something about it. Athletes in other sports dope. This isn’t a cycling only problem. Viva la Tour!

But.

There are many things that concern me about the current state of affairs. Take a look at Rasmussen. He never tested positive for anything. But, he did miss doping controls and allegedly lied about his location saying he was in Mexico when really in Italy riding in the Dolomites. Boom, he’s out. Why? Because Italy is where all the dirty doctors are. And riding in the mountains in Italy means you must have been doping. And, he did an amazing time trial so he must be doping. Couldn’t he also have just had a really strong day?

Additionally, lab tests are done with an A and B sample. If the A sample tests positive, you are out. The B sample is somewhat irrelevant because even if you test negative on the B sample your already gone. And where are these labs? France. It’s no secret that the French have an axe to grind, particularly with non-French riders.

On top of all this cycling tests are typically not tests of the substance, but the effect. For example, if your blood count is too high you are out. There is no detection of a drug, just the effect.

This all leaves cycling in an utter mess. It leaves fans in a state of confusion and dismissal. And nobody has a good answer. There is a growing theory that the leaders of the Tour must be doping, because if anyone in the peloton is doping you must be doping to beat them.

Cycling could decide to follow American Football and Baseball and make some token gesture on doping but really just let everyone do whatever. The problem with this is frankly cyclists will start to die! This isn’t a new problem, in 1967 Tom Simpson died on the climb of Mont Ventoux after taking amphetamines. The trouble with adding red blood cells is that your blood literally gets thicker, and combined with maximal effort you can simply die. If doping were just allowed I have no doubt deaths would follow.

There was discussion a couple of years ago of working with the pharmaceutical companies to add tracers to drugs so that they can easily be detected. This of course will just create a black market for drugs without tracers.

It seems the only solution is more testing. But cyclists are already pushed to the brink with random drug tests. They occur all year long, are completely random and are mandatory. Representatives show up at riders hotels on vacation in February for immediate tests. Brutal.

Today there is no maillot jeune in the Tour. Tour tradition compells riders to not wear yellow unless they earned it. It’s a rare stage indeed where there is no maillot jeune on the road. Tomorrow Alberto Contador from Team Discovery will pull on the yellow jersey, but forever with question marks. I still really enjoy this sport, but I hope that we can see a clean and uninterrupted tour soon.

Worst CD Ever

92.jpgI recently went through the process of reviewing my rather large CD collection and culling out things that I really don’t like. Accidental purchases or things that I just didn’t like after trying it.

When we were on a roadtrip a number of years ago we decided to pick up a few CD’s just to try some things. Only In America, Volume 2 from Arf! Arf! Records was one of those CD’s. It seemed like it was just a collection of quirky music. I now think it is perhaps the worst CD ever made. I challenge anyone reading this to try to listen to every track on it from start to finish. An excerpt from the web site promoting it:

Only in America focuses on material that leaves the listener bewildered and in utter disbelief.

Amazingly this is Volume 2. There is a Volume 1 as well that I hope to never hear even a track of.

Update: There is a great post and dialog going on about this album over at JasonHare.com.

Cargo Shorts Banned from Cycling

Tammy, Mazie and I went on a bike ride today. Tammy is prone to comment about how great it is to just “ride your bike”. What she means by this is to disregard the crazy gear of cycling — special shorts, shoes, shirt, socks and everything else — and just ride your bike. Street clothes. Normal shoes. You know, like “normal” people do. We were riding to Yum for lunch, about 17 miles round-trip with a long lunch in the middle. So I went with normal shorts like a normal person.

bikevscargoshorts.jpg

I have no option to not wear my cycling shoes since all of my bikes have clipless pedals (a must!). But I decided to go ahead and just wear my normal shorts and spare the world me in lycra. This was horrible. It’s not just that the cycling shorts have padding that make the saddle more comfortable. It’s that regular shorts are hot. They are baggy and restrict leg movement in odd ways. They bunch up all over. It was absolutely horrible.

I’ll never ride my bike over 2 miles without cycling shorts again. I’ve learned my lesson.

2007 Winnipeg Folk Fest via Twitter

This was the first Winnipeg Folk Festival since I started using Twitter. I sort of “micro-blogged” using Twitter while I was there. Here it is. I realized afterwards that SMS messages internationally aren’t included in my plan. Oops!

At the Festival’ 10:10 PM July 05, 2007 from txt
Listening to Indigo Girls 10:18 PM July 05, 2007 from txt
Gearing up for the first full day at the festival 09:24 AM July 06, 2007 from txt
Eating at the Winnipeg Original Pancake House 10:18 AM July 06, 2007 from txt
Folk Festival in full swing now. 12:51 PM July 06, 2007 from txt
Blazing hot in the sun. Yikes. 02:38 PM July 06, 2007 from txt
Relaxing in the shade. Quintessential Folk Fest afternoon 02:47 PM July 06, 2007 from txt
Just got Tammy on Twitter. Tekester. 02:54 PM July 06, 2007 from txt
Waiting for Crooked Still. Thinking about food. 02:59 PM July 06, 2007 from txt
Crooked Still just started playing. 03:33 PM July 06, 2007 from txt
Agnostic Gospel Choir rocks! 04:56 PM July 06, 2007 from txt
Noting a significantly increased police presence at Folk Festival. 06:08 PM July 06, 2007 from txt
Main stage acts have started. 06:09 PM July 06, 2007 from txt
Shocked and in awe at how readable the iPhone is in direct sunlight 06:15 PM July 06, 2007 from txt
Thinking how the Folk Fest could be leveraging SMS 07:49 PM July 06, 2007 from txt
Wondering what drugs Rushad from Crooked Still is on. 08:45 PM July 06, 2007 from txt
The Nields just did a tweener (shout out to Alona). The Flatlanders just started. 09:31 PM July 06, 2007 from txt
Sun is setting, temp is dropping. Great! 09:49 PM July 06, 2007 from txt
Spearhead just started. Wow! 10:53 PM July 06, 2007 from txt
Survived first night ever in Festival campground. It settled down at 6am. 09:57 AM July 07, 2007 from txt
Standing in line waiting for Festival gate to open. 09:58 AM July 07, 2007 from txt
30 minutes on the phone with AT&T “fixing” my account for my new phones. 10:48 AM July 07, 2007 from txt
Front row seat at the morning stage 10:51 AM July 07, 2007 from txt
Main stage tarp staked out for tonight. Too far back. :-( 12:07 PM July 07, 2007 from txt
Super humid at the Shady Grove stage listening to my new favorite, Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir. 01:04 PM July 07, 2007 from txt
Rockin Out! 01:52 PM July 07, 2007 from txt
Swearing off shoes for the rest of the weekend 02:06 PM July 07, 2007 from txt
Buying CDs 02:38 PM July 07, 2007 from txt
Just woke from crazy nap in the shade 05:11 PM July 07, 2007 from txt
My voice is completely ravaged by this cold and the Festival. Barely anything left to it. 07:04 PM July 07, 2007 from txt
Leo Kottke just started on the main stage. 07:04 PM July 07, 2007 from txt
Time for the Tavern tent. Yep! 08:12 PM July 07, 2007 from txt
Big shouts out to Bricker! Drink up! 09:16 PM July 07, 2007 from txt
Time for Whales Tails! 10:02 PM July 07, 2007 from txt
Listening to the Flecktones. Going to check out DJ Medina in the alternative tent shortly. 10:08 PM July 07, 2007 from txt
At the DJ tent at the folk festival. Very surreal. 10:30 PM July 07, 2007 from txt
Listening to this crazy one man band called “That One Guy” 11:02 PM July 07, 2007 from txt
The Cat Empire takes the stage to close out the night. 11:04 PM July 07, 2007 from txt
Passing on Cat Empire and heading to camp. 11:37 PM July 07, 2007 from txt
In tent. Beginning last night ever in Festival camping. I may try to capture some of this for posterity. 11:51 PM July 07, 2007 from txt
The party is arriving in the campgrounds. 11:59 PM July 07, 2007 from txt
That One Guy has been playing for 3 hours IN THE CAMPGROUND. 04:41 AM July 08, 2007 from txt
People next to our tent being loud and obnoxious. 04:42 AM July 08, 2007 from txt
Last night ever in Festival camping is lasting forever. 05:11 AM July 08, 2007 from txt
Up and making coffee on my camp stove. 07:07 AM July 08, 2007 from txt
Drinking coffee. Interesting sounds coming from tent 10 feet away. 07:44 AM July 08, 2007 from txt
Brewing another kettle of camp coffee. 08:39 AM July 08, 2007 from txt
Campsite all packed. Couple cups of joe and then time to haul everything a half-mile to the car. 09:03 AM July 08, 2007 from txt
Waiting to put tarp down for main stage. 10:21 AM July 08, 2007 from txt
Watching the Tarp Run. 10:25 AM July 08, 2007 from txt
Sunday morning gospel workshop just starting. Perennial favorite. 11:00 AM July 08, 2007 from txt
Getting very soulful. 11:08 AM July 08, 2007 from txt
Relocated to a better spot in the shade. Nice music. I think it’s nap time. 01:21 PM July 08, 2007 from txt
Listening to a drum workshop and sipping lemonade. 03:34 PM July 08, 2007 from txt
At workshop titled “Whiskey, Women & Death” 04:45 PM July 08, 2007 from txt
Being forced to move out of shade by security. 04:45 PM July 08, 2007 from txt
Final night at the main stage. Los Lobos and Randy Newman taking it home. 06:43 PM July 08, 2007 from txt
Folk Festival traditional finale! 10:19 PM July 08, 2007 from txt
The Mary Ellen Carter 10:20 PM July 08, 2007 from txt
Wild Mountain Thyme 10:25 PM July 08, 2007 from txt
Amazing Grace 10:30 PM July 08, 2007 from txt
The 2007 Winnipeg Folk Festival ends. Be back next year! 10:37 PM July 08, 2007 from txt

I think the shoes tweet is my favorite from the whole weekend. :-) Note that my cold turned out to be a sinus infection, ugh.

2007 Winnipeg Folk Festival Recap

Last weekend I made my fourth visit to the Winnipeg Folk Festival (previous years were 2006, 2003 and 2001). Tammy was at all of those except 2001. We left Mazie with Grandparents this time. We continue to plan on bringing Mazie every-other year.

folk_fest_post_07_banner.jpg

This years festival was great as always. There were a number of firsts this year too. It was the first year I’ve been there that my mother wasn’t able to go. She’s been going to the festival for many more years than I, so it was odd that she wasn’t there as well. We preserved the tradition of getting an evening Whale’s Tale every night in her absence.

It was also the first, and last, year that we stayed in Festival Camping. In the past I’ve either camped in the quiet campground, or stayed in a hotel in Winnipeg. The appeal of festival camping is that you can walk right over to the festival grounds. It’s also a full party, with pretty loud “festivaling” going on until about 6am every night. Not my thing these days.

Here are the musical highlights from this years festival for me:

  • The Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir absolutely knocked my socks off. First of all, these guys aren’t a choir. In fact, their name is pretty misleading. Think of Tom Waits with more pep and bluegrass mixed in. These guys were my favorite new band out of the festival.
  • We didn’t get to see Todd Snider play, but liked what we read and are really enjoying his CD we got.
  • We saw Ndidi Onukwulu play a couple of workshops with other bands. I wasn’t digging her stuff at first, but Tammy started liking it and it’s pretty good. She has some really nice vocals.
  • Elliott Brood, besides having 3 sets of double letters in their name, plays some really nice music. Tammy briefly heard them in a workshop and figured I would like their stuff a lot, and I do. She describes them well as a bluegrass Jane’s Addiction. You know…
  • We didn’t see Carolyn Mark, but also picked up a CD of hers and are liking it.
  • Buille is an Irish group that came over for the festival. If traditional Irish music is your thing, you’ll like them a lot.
  • The Carolina Chocolate Drops intrigued me for a number of reasons. I like their traditional music, and they learned with some of the most significant southern musicians ever.
  • Michael Franti & Spearhead closed the main stage out on Friday night, and they just blew the place up. Franti’s politically motivated, reggae inspired performance made you want to be a better person. Great stuff.
  • The Ponys hit a groove of Americana, Rootsy music that is in my sweet spot.
  • Ben Weaver proves again that sometimes I have to go to Canada to find someone in my own city. Weaver is a Minneapolis local that is putting out some really great stuff.
  • I really wanted to see Romi Mayes perform but there were always conflicts, or too much sun! She has a great folksy, Americana sound as well.
  • When Indio Saravanja did his “tweener” set we all looked at each other because we thought Bob Dylan had taken the stage. Saravanja has an amazing voice, and some great songs to go with it.

Check out these musicians and pick up some of their music. It’s all great, independent stuff.

We’ve already blocked out July 10-13 of 2008 for the next festival. Next year Mazie comes along again.

Randy's Sanitation does Organics

We got an announcement in the mail a while ago from Randy’s Sanitation. We have been Waste Management customers since we moved to our current house, and know Randy’s Sanitation as a locally owned company that probably services 10% (my guess from the Tuesday trash can displays) of our extended neighborhood.

randys_final_home_01.jpg

Randy’s has launched an Organics Recycling program [PDF] for Minnetonka. We have wanted to compost for a long time now, but our yard doesn’t have any good options for a compost location outside of the front-yard, and I just couldn’t see that working.Randy’s now provides this as an add-on service for customers. You get a second container and put your organics in there. Regular trash stays in the other container. These organics are then composted and broken down in a facility that Randy’s operates, and then used throughout the city. Also, since they do this on a larger scale you can compost some things that you wouldn’t be able to at home, like pizza boxes.

We’ve now switched to Randy’s and will be participating in the organics program starting August 1st. If you live in Minnetonka, you should check it out. Sadly, it’s not available in other cities yet. Congratulations to Randy’s for doing something innovative to help reduce waste.

Maximum Runtime for iPhone Battery

Shortly after getting my iPhone I went to the Winnipeg Folk Festival, a 4-day folk music festival. During the festival I was camping, and had very limited access to electricity (available by making a trip back to the car). The iPhone has been criticized for it’s battery life. During normal usage, I have no problems with it. I dock it each night and the battery makes it through even the most demanding days of usage. But what if you are in the woods and need as much life as possible?

Here are some notes I made to get your iPhone in the lowest power mode I could imagine. These are in no particular order, and I haven’t attempted to quantify how much of an impact each of these has.

  1.  Turn Off WiFi! This seems obvious, but is easily forgotten. There are no WiFi access points in the woods so don’t waste battery looking for them.
  2. Change Email Checking to Manual. Your iPhone will always be checking for email in the background. This wastes power. Change the check to manual and be careful about launching Mail, since it automatically starts checking when you launch the application.
  3. Turn off at night. This may sound dumb, but if you aren’t worried about getting calls, turn it off!
  4. Turn BlueTooth Off! You can spare your BlueTooth headset while camping, and turn off the BlueTooth in the iPhone to save some juice.
  5. Turn Brightness Down! This is a big one. That super-brigh, crystal clear screen isn’t free. The iPhone has a strong backlight. Go into settings and turn it all the way down and disable automatic brightness (you must do both!).
  6. Turn Sound Off, and Vibrate Off. If you aren’t worried about getting called, put the iPhone in silent mode and disable vibrate to save a bit more juice.

If you have other suggestions or ideas, feel free to add a comment.

Initial iPhone Impression

iphone_small.gifI’ve now had the iPhone for a couple of weeks and it is about time that I share some of my thoughts on the little magical device. I’m not going to try to write some in-depth review. If you want that, Ars Technica and Engadget both did very thorough reviews covering everything you could possibly imagine. Read those for the nitty gritty. I’ll just hit on the things that I particularly dig, or don’t dig.

Let me first start with the question everyone asks me, is this a BlackBerry killer? The simple answer is, right now, not at all. I’ve been a “CrackBerry” addict for a long time now, currently sporting the BlackBerry 8800. The iPhone outshines the BlackBerry in almost every area, but the maturity of the BlackBerry environment and shortcuts really slams the iPhones v. 1 shortcomings. I’ll be keeping both my iPhone and the BlackBerry 8800. For power email users the iPhone currently doesn’t even come close to the BlackBerry. Now, let’s move onto the iPhone.

The Device

The physical form factor of the iPhone is stunning. It’s a great size and fits perfectly in my hand. It feels very rugged. I would love it to be a bit lighter, but it’s okay. The glass screen is a nice change from other handheld devices and gives you a crystal clear view at the stunning display. The display is amazing and even readable in full-daylight.

On the negative side it does get hot after prolonged use (say 30 minutes of web browsing). It doesn’t get super hot. It’s no AppleTV (which I swear could bake a cake!), but it is warm to the hand and ear. This generally doesn’t bother me, but I’m growing more annoyed by all my devices creating so much heat. The other device issues have been written about thoroughly — EDGE-limited and no 802.11n. Insert that for the record.

I think Apple hit it out of the park on the physical form-factor. My overall take is that this is by far the best ultra-mobile little computer ever made. And really, that is what the iPhone is, a very tiny little computer.

The Software

This is where things get ugly. Let me start with the positives. Many of the included applications are pretty cool. The Google Maps application is an absolute joy, and highlights how great things can be. Other applications like Stocks and Weather are functional, but are severely limited in functionality. The iPod “application” is great, and another home run.

Safari on the iPhone is the best web browser on a mobile device ever, even if it is buggy and crashes fairly regularly on me.

But then there is Mail. Mail, and this is sad, really is horrible on the iPhone. If you have a public IMAP server, or use Yahoo mail you may find it okay. If you use GMail you are in for pain and suffering as you have to resort to POP. Really, who should be forced to use POP in 2007? I find it stunning that there is no way on the iPhone to select 10 email messages and delete them at once. This is an instant non-starter for power email users. Very, very sad.

The software keyboard is not worth worrying as much as most have. I’ve found it quiet capable, and after 3 days I fealt very proficient with it. However, it falls short in two areas that BlackBerry has shown the light for. The iPhone badly needs AutoText. I want to type “sked” and have “schedule” appear, or “msp” and get “Minneapolis”. The iPhone also needs the nice touches like a double space producing a period and a space.

I’m not overly bitter about this because, well, it is software. I expect this will be fixed and improved dramatically. The true power of the iPhone goes back to it just being a little computer and a new software update could dramatically make the whole thing much better.

We Need Software

This highlights the biggest problem in the iPhone, the lack of a software development kit. This simply has to be solved, and hopefully will be soon. The bone that Apple threw, building applications in Safari, is a joke. Get real guys. I want native GMail, Google Calendar and many others on my iPhone. I want them on the main screen. And I don’t want Safari in the middle!

If Apple doesn’t get on the ball here, I will be the proud owner of a cool phone that doesn’t do as much as it should. A mere shadow of what it could be. I’m confident that this will get resolved, until then I love my iPhone with a number of notable footnotes.

iPhone Day via Twitter

I didn’t get an “I was there on June 29, 2007″ t-shirt or anything, but the iPhone wait via Twitter is entertaining.

#53 in line for iPhone! 01:59 PM June 29, 2007 from im
They have closed the Apple Store and covered the windows in black fabric. 02:13 PM June 29, 2007 from web
Watching Christopher getting lots of attention for being first in line. 02:18 PM June 29, 2007 from twitterrific
Christopher getting his taken picture with some random person at the mall. 02:20 PM June 29, 2007 from twitterrific
Just finished pizza in line. 02:52 PM June 29, 2007 from twitterrific
Random person turns out to be former CEO of Cray Research. 02:53 PM June 29, 2007 from twitterrific
Taking a survey for Piper Jaffray on a cell phone being passed down the line waiting for the iPhone. 02:56 PM June 29, 2007 from web
Just passed the phone on to the next person in the line. 02:57 PM June 29, 2007 from web
Kent‘s taking survey now. Awesome. 02:59 PM June 29, 2007 from web
“Which iPhone you getting?” “8 gig. Go big, or go home.” — Kent 03:00 PM June 29, 2007 from twitterrific
Christopher just polled the crowd regarding which model people plan to buy. 03:08 PM June 29, 2007 from web
Drinking a Heath Bar Chiller from Caribou. Oh how I’ve fallen. 03:41 PM June 29, 2007 from twitterrific
Got a chair! Thank you to my wonderful wife! 04:55 PM June 29, 2007 from im
40 minutes left! 05:18 PM June 29, 2007 from im
Apple store window unveiled with iPhone displaying countdown to launch on it. 05:30 PM June 29, 2007 from im
Crowd is now queued up to the gated storefront. 05:50 PM June 29, 2007 from im
Line is compressed and standing. The smell of anticipation lingers. 05:51 PM June 29, 2007 from im
Store is open! 05:59 PM June 29, 2007 from im
Line is moving! 06:00 PM June 29, 2007 from im
Line is stopped. 06:05 PM June 29, 2007 from im
Inside the store. 06:15 PM June 29, 2007 from im
Success! Two iPhones in hand! 06:26 PM June 29, 2007 from im

iPhone Activation

One of the ways in which the iPhone claims to be revolutionary is how you activate it. Rather than sitting in the store and having someone press a few dozen numbers on your phone, you simply take it home and plug it into your computer and follow a few easy screens in iTunes. Sounds great!

And great it is! On Tammy’s phone, it was flawless. I changed her phone on her existing account and it flowed with ease through iTunes. Everything was great. No issues. Bliss.

Then it was my turn. I knew this would be more complicated since I decided that I was going to move my phone to my individual account and no longer submit it through my business. During the weekend I called AT&T and the service representative said I had to call back on Monday, but I could just activate now on my individual plan and they could fix it up on Monday. It turns out that was incorrect. After about 90 minutes of time on the phone with AT&T this is what had to be done.

  1. Transfer my existing account from the business to a new individual account.
  2. Move my existing individual account to the same “market” as my business number was. [This seems totally odd to me.]
  3. Cancel the activation I did on my iPhone before.
  4. Get a new SIM card for iPhone. [Once you activate a SIM card it's toast, trip to the store!]
  5. Reactivate iPhone.

I came within millimeters of just giving up and changing numbers. I’m going to be astounded if there are no billing issues the first couple of months.

Note: there was some concern on various sites about replacing your SIM card. I can say with confidence that replacing your SIM card is very painless on the iPhone. Just pop a new one in from AT&T and re-activate in iTunes. All of your existing sync settings will be retained.

The story has a happy ending. After getting a new SIM card, and having the AT&T people get my account all prepared for it, activation was flawless on my phone as well.

There are many people complaining about activation problems. Perhaps Apple didn’t spend enough time on this process. Or, in my opinion, they are just trying to do something that isn’t possible. The complexity required to move my phone would be incredibly hard to code around, and expensive. Solving the problem seamlessly for 80% is great, but the other 20% are probably thinking it’s easier than it really is.

Older posts

© 2014 thingelstad

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑