Midfats in the Moguls

I have an old pair of K2 Axis XP Pros from 8 years ago now and I’m getting clobbered in the moguls. So what’s a person to do? Upgrade skis of course 🙂

The conventional wisdom is that a mogul specific ski is narrow and also very flexible at the tips and tails. Short too. Like the Volkl Revolution. But if you don’t want a specific ski, then a compromise is a midfat that isn’t as stiff as my Volkl Gotamas (or as wide) or my Volkl Six Stars.

Sturtevants recommended two, the Fischer Watea 78 and the Blizzard IQ 8.1, both the same width as the Axis, but way shorter and much fatter. So I am trying 167 and 172s vs. the 178s.

The Watea is very light and flickable, so it doesn’t have lots of metal. It is a 70/30 and it is better in soft, super fun in moguls and good for intermediates. Epicski.com has a good comparison to the Atomic Nomad Blackeyes. Watea is more for soft snow and more forgiving on those VW size rock hard bumps. The ones that are comparable are the nordica Nitroub and the Dynastar Legend 8000. Sierra Jimsays that the Watea 84 is terrific and the 78 reminds him of the very good Dynastar Legend 8000. Citizenski.com says the Watea 78 is better for groomed while 84s are good for out of bounds, but less good on bumps, so that’s the usual tradeoff. 92/100 from skireviews.co.uk. Sierraskis.com reports that it is good on groomers, but at high speed its not as good. Best for the 70/30 skier who is looking for improved performance in moguls. Not for experts as it is a softer flex.

Now the Blizzard 8.1 from Epicski shows that it is very quick to turn. Citizenski.com says at 81mm, this si a good all mountain ski with 81mm waist. It is a good general purpose intermediate ski.

Telescopes

My buddy Jon needs a cool telescope. Also on my list. The new ones are so wonderful because they don’t need as Ed Ting says at scopereviews.com:

  • If you are just starting out and aren’t sure if you are serious then a good pair of binoculars. 10x50s. This means 10x magnification and 50mm wide lense. Cheap binoculars are much better than a cheap telescope and last a lifetime. Some recommendations are the Celestron Pro, Ultima and Orion Vista, Ultraview, Scenix, most Celestron models, Pro Optic from Adorama, Olympus, Bauch & Lomb, Pentax. Spend is $75-200
  • The more light a telescope gathers the more powerful it is. So a 7×50 gathers twice the light of a 7×35 because light gathering goes up as the square of the width. Another way to put it is that a 12″ wide telescope has 44% more light gathering than a 10″.
  • For beginners a 4.5″ or 6″ reflector (light goes in and then is bounced on a mirror back to the top) at $300-650 is relatively portable and easy to move. Or get a 80mm refractor (that means the traditional light goes in the front and comes out the back 🙂 Don’t buy a telescope from a department store, toy store or TV commercial. Good quality costs at least $300. If you have the money, get the really compact Schmidt-Cassegrain which look like reflectors but are super compact but the decent ones cost $1-3,000.
  • Computer controlled is also great in that the computer directs the telescope, but you have to spend at least $1000 for a good one.

So when all is said and done, what to get, a 6″ or 8″ Dobsonian reflector. The Orion XT8 is $329, but is huge and I mean huge. So more practical are the 6″ Dobsonians from quality vendors like Orion (he likes them best), Meade, Celestron or Discovery. Other things to look for 6×30 finder, Plossl eyepieces and Pyrex mirrors. The XT6i at $400 looks like a pretty good choice. Big and it has a star finder. I’m sure it is hard as heck for a Dad to figure out, but what the heck 🙂

You can get it from Anacortes Telescopes (http://buytelescopes.com) or from Adorama

Overall, his recommendations in the Category 3 $250-1500 range include most Celestrons, Orion XT  and Sky View and Sky View Pro, Meade 4500, Discovery

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Nyc and miami so cool

Three days is a quick trip or a life time. Some fast travel notes:

1. Miami lowes. Still haven’t found the perfect hotel here but getting closer. Loews isn’t a hardwar store but a big hotel. During the winter break overrun with families and seniors. Amazing pool and east beach access. I love the plastic cups. Great outside veranda and nice seared tuna (they don’t say ahi here).
2. Miami ritz Carlton. Actually rates are quite reasonable particular with the various Amex discounts. Thank goodness for downturn. Very different crowd. Younger. Great bistro that surprised us with the quality.
3. New York chambers hotel. Been hard to find a reasonable price it good location that is small. The Chambers may be it. Rooms are NYC small but very well done. At 5th and 56th so very centrally located. Can walk just about anywhere. On the F line too at ave of the Americas and 56th. Also get a voucher to NY health and racket club so nicer than those tiny hotel gyms. And ur 2 blocks from central park for the morning run. And who doesn’t love free wifi. Skype rules!

10 inch Netbook shootout

So these seem to be the two notebooks that http://blog.laptopmag.com/10-inch-netbooks-fight-for-dominance, so lets look at ASUS, MSI as the early leaders and Samsung and Acer as newcomers. Laptop Magazine did a shoot out. The net is that the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE scored highest except hard disk transfer time.

In November 08, their comparison had the Samsung NC10 and the MSI Wind U110 as the leaders with great battery life, good design and great keyboards.

Overall on performance, Acer Aspire has the fastest hard drive. Boot time wise, HP Mini 1000 was slowest at 1:04 ASUS Eee PC 1000HE was fastest at 37 seconds. MSI Wind U120 was in the middle at 50 seconds. So HP Mini really has a slow hard drive.

On Wifi, Samsung NC10 was quite a bit slower at long range at 17Mbps. Acer ASUS and MSI were all about the same at 20Mbps closer. Farther away, the MSI Wind stayed at 19.4 which is pretty amazing. Not much to choose from here.

Screen-wise, they were all pretty much the same. Matte screens are Lenovo, Samsung, Wind and ASUS. But on the touchpad and keyboard, the special Amazon version of the NC10 is a larger touchpad that is nearly perfect. Lenovo’s IdeaPad S10 is multitouch and the ASUS 1000HE. Wind is the same as the U110 and only OK.

The keyboard is what really counts. Overall, the 1000HE and NC10 are the best, with the Acer and Lenovo close behind. The Samsung NC10 and HP Mini have nearly perfect keyboards. Too bad the HP Mini has so many other issues. ASUS’s new keyboard in the 1000HE is much better. MSI’s keyboard is OK.

Battery life. MSI Wind got 5 hours and the NC10 got a blow away 6.5 hours. Wind U120 only gets 4:28 hours. The Special Edition NC10 has a six cell batter than coule get 8 hours. ASUS gets 7 hours! The Aspire is strange in that some come with big batteries and others with small.

Pricing. You get waht you pay for. The two nicests, the NC10 is $444 and the Special Edition is $500. The ASUS Eee PC 1000HE is $365 which is probably the best buy. The Aspire One is $350 as well, so the main issue is the NC10 worth the $150 premium. I’d say the ASUS is probably the best buy.

Upgrading. This is easy for the ASUS and Acre. Nearly impossible for the new Wind U120.

10 minutes to geek out

I never have time for that anymore, but during dinner:

  • Washington DOT uses twitter. How amazing and cool. Another way to get closure information. Now that is modern government. John told me that twitter is replacing RSS. Makes sense. Follow http://twitter.com/wsdot
  • Never could get jailbreak to work. How frustrating. Couldn’t get QuickPwn to work on Windows nor Pwntool on Mac. Sigh :=(
  • MCE has a solution which takes out the huge optical drive in your Macbook and puts another drive in. With 500GB drives at $100 from newegg.com, you can now have two spindles and a terabyte on a $1200 Mac. How about that!
  • Plex is an open-source Front Row. Just tried it, it is remarkably good. Uses the Apple Remote but is way better than Front Row. Big new feature, you can watch videos from CNN, Hulu, Joost, etc. like you are watching a real TV. Combine this with Tivo on your Mac and who needs a television 🙂

iPhone unlock and jailbreak

Well, the folks have finally figured out how to unlock an iPhone 3G. You just have to make sure you *do not* upgrade to 2.2.1. You need firmware 2.2 with baseband 02.28.00. The source is at dev-team blog. The short notes are that it only works with the baseband you get with 2.2, so *don’t* upgrade and there is a bug with the most recent OS X 10.5.6 that you have to work around.

You basically use PwnageTool on the Mac as explained by intomobile.com

  1. Fix 10.5.6 with the 10.5.5 USB drivers by using a script that installs the old USB drivers by running Fix_DFU_10_5_6 which installs two drivers or .kext files
  2. Download and install iPhone 2.2 software (not 2.2.1!!!)
  3. Download PwnageTool 2.2.5 or later
  4. Run it in expert mode and find the iPhone 2.2.1 OS firmware called iPhone1,2_2.2.1_5H11_Restore
  5. Uncheck the Activate if you have an AT&T contract already (like me!)
  6. Change root partition to 1000MB and choose Build
  7. Save the new file as iPhone1,1_2.2.1_5H11_Custom_Restore.ipsw
  8. Select No if you have an iPhone 3G and never been Pwned and go into restore mode and now quite Pwnage and start iTunes
  9. Option click on Restore and find that Custom_Restore file

For first generation iPhones, these are still easily unlocked.

All Mountain Skis that turn well on moguls

Well, I discovered my Volkl Six Stars are really racing skis with a nice logo on them. Incredibly stiff and stable, but stiff means impossible on moguls and 68mm waist means sinks everywhere but the groomed. Joe showed me how to ride them though. Their sweetspot is tiny and it took two days to learn to get my hands down 5cm and forward 2cm and not push so hard on turns. And on moguls, wow, they are really hard. They are so stiff in the tail that if you get into the back seat, you are completely blown out.

There are dedicated bump skis like the Volkl Revolution which are best for big hard spring bumps. These have soft tails and tips and are great for sliding down the bumps. It turns quickly and is pencil tin at 63 waist. They are very light too and easy to turn. Also see Everything the Instructors Never Told You About Mogul Skiing by Dan DiPiro. The Dynastar Twister is also a top choice to try. For soft snow moguls a standard mid-fat like the Volkl Karmas work.

But on a mountain like Whistler, I really need a mid-fat all-mountain ski. So onto the rental shops according to Skiing Magazine, Epicski.com, and Skipressworld.com some recommendations of instructors up here:

  • Volkl Grizzly got best all-mountain ski this year. I of course love my Gotamas (if only for the name!) and Six Stars. As Epicski.com points out it is really for true experts and it is very stiff and hard to flex. Like the Gotomas for that matter for the Six Stars. Main issues is that if you are light or don’t have the leg strength to push, it won’t turn well. It has 89mm underfoot, so it is a wide ski for sure. As my coach said, all the Volkls have such stiff tails, it is hard not to get in the back seat with them.
  • Volkl Unlimited AC50 is highly rated next to the Mantra. It is less expensive than the flagship Grizzly. 85mm, 18M reaidus, Stiff so best for strong skiers who can push down hard.
  • Blizzard Magnum 8.7 might be better. It is so stiff, it would be touch on moguls where you want them to flex and skid. Blizzard has a bunch of ex-Volkl people who arrived after K2 bought Volkl.
  • The pros here recommend the Atomic Metron 11B5, I tried and it does do groomers well and some light powder worked well. Didn’t do enough bumps to know if they are supple enough, but the guys at Whistler swear by them.
  • Head Monster IM88. Nice but too wide for moguls.
  • Head Monster IM82. $1150 list, 83mm waist, 20M turnig radius. Medium flex and turns easily. Good for moguls and is more an all mountain board.
  • Head Monster IM78. Folks seem to like this one not many negative reviews. It is quick and zipper and a carver.
  • Nordica Hot Rod Hellcat. 90mm waist, 18M turning, stiff, good for lighter and aggressive skiers.
  • Kastle MX88. 90mm waist, 20M raido, stif, turns fast.
  • Nordica Hot Rod Top Fuel. 78mm and 15M radius. Medium fle
  • Salomon Tornado Ti. Almost turns too quickly. 75mm waist, 16M turning raidus, mediumflex.
  • Dynastar 8000
  • Fisher Watea 84. Another one that has gotten good reviews. The guys at Sturtevants liked them because they are light (no metal) and easy to flick around.
  • Atomic Nomad Crimson Ti. I demoed this ski and it was easy to turn in hard pack. didn’t get to try it in the bumps. 86 waist. 19M turns, good for light skiers, medium flex and light. Medium radius turns.n geat in hard pack.

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Ski Levels

There are lots of levels now that are on the boards when you want to talk ability. What do they mean? Here’s to everyone who is a level 7 with kids just behind who in a week go from 6 to 7- or are watching their kids go from 8- to 8 🙂 But at least I went from 7- to 7…

Skiing Ability Levels

A skiing ability level is a short way of classifying skiers based on what they ski, their skiing ability, and how well they ski beginner, intermediate, or advanced trails. Knowing what skiing ability level you are is often necessary when purchasing a lesson. Knowing your skiing ability level will make sure that you get the most out of your ski lesson – your instructor needs a summary of what you can ski before they can begin to teach you. Here is a guide to the skiing ability levels.

Level One: “Never-Ever”
Level One skiers are first time skiers who have never skied before.

Level Two
Level Two skiers are cautious novices who are able to do a ” snow plow” (wedge) turn both ways and are able to stop, but linking turns smoothly may be difficult. Level Two skiers may have skied once or twice before.

Level Three
Level Three skiers are confident novices who are able to stop and make round snow plow turns on easy beginner trails.

Level Four
Level Four skiers are cautious intermediate skiers who can link turns but still moderate speed. Level Four skiers ski in a small wedge and their skis may even be parallel at the end of the turn on green or easy blue trails. Level Four is a transition level in which skiers will begin to ski more blue intermediate runs.

Level Five
Level Five skiers are intermediates who are confident on easy blue runs and ski mostly parallel but may at times use the wedge to begin a turn or to stop. Level Five skiers may be cautious on intermediate trails that are slightly steep or icy.

Level Six
Level Six skiers confidently make parallel turns on blue runs but do not ski many advanced trails. Level Six skiers use their poles to time turns. A Level Six skier is interested in learning to ski better on more challenging terrain.

Level Seven
Level Seven skiers ski controlled parallel turns and can ski very well on blue trails. Level Seven skiers can control their speed and rhythm on black diamond trails, but they are looking to ski on challenging trails with better style. Level Seven skiers can adjust the size and length of their turns and are learning to ski on a variety of different types of snow and terrain.

Level Eight
Level Eight skiers ski with good technique on all terrain and snow conditions. Level Eight skiers can ski moguls and are able to ski black diamond trails with confidence using carved turns.

Level Nine
Level Nine skiers enjoy the challenge of difficult ski trails and ski moguls, steeps, and other black diamond terrain.

Level Ten
You are learning free style mid-air tricks