Outfitting a new car

Ok, when you get a new car, here are some tips and tricks:

  1. If you have a fancy high resolution GPS like the Vsport, then you will see lots of dropouts, so you need a GPS antenna and ideally it should be on the roof. The so called ground plane cuts down the multipath reception you get so you want it on top. The problem is what connector, well it turns out it uses something called MCX (Micro Cable) and you need one which is a straight connector and not an elbow. Amazon sells a straight adapter that makes this work

Bikes. Likes. Back to it.

Nothing like waiting 30 years between buying bikes. Finally brad got me back so I’ve been trying bikes for theee days solid. Great interval training!

Thoughts are to read the reviews. There are many good ones so I’ll stack rank the important things

  1. Budgets. Well this is the hard one but there are definitely shelf points. Getting to $2k is probably the best Value for the money. But heck bike lust can move you way higher than that!
  2. Bike shop. Read the reviews as they are great but going to your local bike shop (Elements is great!) is the way to try the bikes and work with someone who is knowledgeable.
  3. Fit. Bikes have moved in measurement from reach and stack height to vertical so now the new measurements are center to top and then effective top tube length, so you can measure how “long” and “low” you want to go. A cheaper better fitting bike is way better than a more expensive one that doesn’t fit. Two quick things are to look down when you mount a bike and see the handlebars block the front axle and then pedal backwards with your heels and see if your leg stretches out fully.
  4. Framesets. This is actually hard to change. You want light, stuff yet compliant. The mid range frames tend to be the Best deals. You lose 150 grams in weight for 2x the price.
  5. Wow electronic shifting is pretty awesome. The new etap sounds cool but the latest shim about 9100 makes lots of sense. Right side is down. Left is up and it automatically picks the right chain ring. No more cross chaining. And u can get a new battery and firmware so works on older setups.
  6. Discs. These are coming to road bikes. Great for rain and also is ur running carbon rims and don’t want them to fail. Main issue is thru axle. You really want one as alignment is hard and there’s a safety issue. Or get bolt on skewer.
  7. After the bike itself the wheelset makes the most difference so get the nicest one you can. U can save a pound and rotational weight is 5x more valuable than static.
  8. Computers. This actually makes a difference but they are expensive. The main thing is to get something which is Bluetooth compatible so you can use your phone in a pinch. Of course it does mean your phone battery is going to drain so a dedicated bike computer is not a bad thing.
  9. Power meters. At least you should get a heart rate monitor and a cadence meter and speed of course. But if you can afford it they are great. You can spend a lot but the simpler ones like the crank arm or even the pedals are a great way to do this.
  10. Trainer. Biking is hard to do by yourself so getting an online coach is cheap and easy way to get better.
  11. Indoor. With the new trainers, stick a big screen in front and it is nearly as good as being out there.

Thoughts on bikes, it’s great to spend a day or even a week trying bikes, a great bike shop will let you take them out for a test ride, so bring your riding clothes and you want a course that will let you test going on out on flats, riding up a hill and then a descent preferably on a bike trail with little traffic. (It’s a great way to interval train). It’s nice to have your own phone so you can measure your speeds and also a heart rate monitor to measure how much effort you are putting in (I didn’t do this but wish I had!).

I’m going to resist ranking bikes for the moment since it is so much a matter of preference, but here are some riding notes from an out of shape cyclist sorted from higher comfort to more race oriented, these are the 2016 models and it isn’t a bad time to shop at the model change over. So here’s a list of the dream bikes I tried, wow it was an incredible few days:

  • BMC Roadmachine 01. This was one amazing cruiser. For a cool $11K it should be, man once you get up to speed, it really rocks. Nice aero wheels and the Dura Ace Di2 grippo was awesome as was the wheel set. It’s got the two things that I really wanted electronic shifting and disk brakes. Really a nice ride and super compliant yet stiff at 930 gram frame weight. Basically a beautiful endurance bike that can go anywhere
  • Collage C60. This is a lugged beauty. I’ve always lusted for one.
  • Parlee Altum Disk. I actually loved this bike quite a bit, more responsive than the Roadmachine, but smoother than the F8. It was also incredibly light and felt like it charged up the hills. At $6K list, a relative bargain here as a small American manufacturer doing small batches in Taiwan.
  • BMC Timemachine 01. This is a great race oriented bike. It is not disk ready though, but I sure loved riding it.
  • BMC Timemachine 02. This is a good way to go for value. Adds 150 grams in weight, but is half the price of the 01. You can put that towards an incredible Enve 34 wheel set for instance and get to a terrific place.
  • Pinarello Dogma F8 Disc. This is the disc version of the F8, so a few pounds heavier, but with Ultegra Di2, it’s pretty awesome. It does have a quick release hub though (the 2017 goes to a 12mm transaxle), so you might want to get a set of bolt-on skewers to make sure it doesn’t release and stay true as disks are pretty picky.
  • Pinarello Dogma F8. This is the bike that has won a bunch of Tour de France’s. And as one buddy said, if I were to buy one, I would have to train in the dark until I could actually ride it. It is super light and super responsive. The new Dogma F10 supersedes it this year. With a Fulcrum Race Zero wheel set, it looks fast just sitting still.

So some specific recommendations for accessories:

  1. Quadlock. I think I got this from Wirecutter (and CyclingAbout) and did get for Calvin, it is a really reliable lock for the car. Also I see the Element Cycles has them on their racks.
  2. Ultegra SPD-SL. The leader these days is the Ultegra carbon’s. At 128 grams, it’s hard to beat
  3. Shimano S-Phyre (and super light at 230 grams and only in bike shops for $400 with custom heat fitting) but shoes have a huge range of options. There are a huge number of options but the main things are getting something with Boa dials so it is easily adjustable and carbon fiber soles to maximize energy transfer. Fit of course is always the first and most important thing.
  4. Shimano Yellow Cleats. ($105 at Amazon)Well then there are the cleats, most folks should get some with a little float so you don’t damage your knees. The yellow Shimano ($24 at Amazon) is a 6 degree float and you’ll also want a cover for it too. ($14).
  5. Wahoo Element Bolt. (There are lots of Computer). Well while you could use your phone, the reality is the battery won’t last as long as a dedicated bike computer. I’ve had lots of these over time, but right now the Wahoo Elemnts seems like a decent choice. It’s aero, support ANT+ and Bluetooth so you can use it with your existing monitors and cadence and RPM. As an aside I find DCRainmaker to be just awesome at doing in-depth reviews of gear like this. It’s pretty clear it is between the Garmin Edge 520 and the Wahoo Elemnts (he doesn’t like the large size of the Wahoo, and I do have one of these Garmins running around in my garage somewhere!). One of the great things is that it is configured from your phone, so you don’t spend hours clicking on a tiny machine without touch. And of course Garmin remains ANT+ only whereas Wahoo supports Bluetooth and of course connects to it’s trainers. And although they lack an open apps platform like Connect IQ, their Strava integration is really good
  6. Strava. This seems to be the default social network for cyclists.
  7. ENVE 3.4. These come across over and over as the nicest wheel set even at an astronomical $2K (right now there are a bunch of 20% closeouts) and ultra light 1,532 g or try the Fulcrum Quattro Pro as a good value carbon set for disks. However the stock Shimano WH-RX31 ($450) are pretty darn good). These are 2Kg. For comparison the new Shimano 9100 C40 is $1970 and weighs in at 1557 grams

So frustrating Mac Mail Search fails may need to delete all Spotlight indices

This is the first time I’ve had this problem, but basically Spotlight indexing is working, but Mac Mail doesn’t seem to ever find anything. I’m not the first person with this problem. But the fix doesn’t seem to work. Doing a rebuild and then deleting the index doesn’t help.

I also tried just deleting all the data in ~/Library/Mail/V4 which forces a complete reload, but that doesn’t work either. Argh!

Another suggestion was to sign in and out of iCloud?!

Or you can rebuild your entire Spotlight index since Mac Mail uses it (although this feels like a Mac Mail bug since Spotlight works fine). Now that this actually generated an error saying that it could not remove the entire disk. This looks like a terrible error:

Privacy List Error (null)

Looks like a bug and now typing the terminal line mdutil -E / returns a /: No Index Yikes!

Now it looks like there is something really wrong with Spotlight, so I tried the draconian sudo rm -rf ./Spotlight-V100 but amazing, this doesn’t change any indexing and I still get no index messages. Argh!

What’s needed is an actual reboot (which they don’t mention). But after reboot, I do get the indexing message at the Spotlight icon. I don’t know if this will help but worth a try.

And Eureka it works. Looks like net, net, Spotlight somehow got confused. I’m not sure if I had to do a complete reindex, but the fact I was getting (null) messages is not a good sign

Random thoughts on 4K Gaming and monster rigs and drones

Ok, some projects for this year;

55″ Gaming Monitor and nVidia 1080Ti.

Last year, we discovered thanks to rtings.com that televisions are great displays. Ended up buying 40″ 4K Samsung monitors for $600 that are just awesome for showing 4 or even six full windows of code. This year, the discovery is the curved displays and 55″ monitors are going to be amazing for gaming. We used to use multiple screens, but with the modern nVidia processors, a single 4K display is really all you need. Rtings.com recommends the LG 2017 OLEDs if you can afford it. 55″ is $1800. But the Sony X900E is just $1200 (ok everything relative) for an incredible full screen display. Imagine it one foot from your nose playing Call of Duty!

The friend here is an nVidia 1080Ti. That is a monster $700 card that is 2x the 1080 and handles 4K gaming well at 60fps. Of course the coming frontier is going to be 8K monitors and 4K120 monitors, so the race never ends, but this isn’t a bad stop.

Hackintosh Lives for Professional Video and Image Editing

The Hackintosh is alive and well (as long as you use Tony’s hardware and installation guide) and with Apple basically giving up on Mac Pro’s and MacBook Pros, what’s someone to do who uses an all Apple workflow. The answer for right now seems to dual boot your Windows gaming machine (see above).

But the basic idea is to take advantage of the new nVidia Pascal drivers and run your machine. You do need to use the older Z170 motherboards, but that isn’t too much of a problem as the Z270 and Kaby Lake  are pretty marginal upgrades anyway. Then you use Unibeast to create a bootable MacOS on your hardware. You will get a strange error about a volume mounted so you need to look at /Volumes for the errant volume, but it works otherwise. Then you load Multibeast to get the drivers that you need after you do your initial boot.

You then need to twiddle your BIOS settings so that the this USB will boot. Boot your new hardware with the USB key in and hopefully the boot loader called Clover will start. You then add your device drivers and you are done!

Life is not complete without a Drone and VR rig

Well, how can life be complete without being on the bleeding edge. I bought a DJI Phantom 3 more than a year ago and it stopped working and I never fixed it. It needs a huge case and where was I going to put it. Looking at the best drones of 2017 (or myfirstdrone.com, or best drones review and dronesglobe.com),

It’s pretty clear we are reaching an inflection point where the software is maturing (yeah collision avoidance) and prices are crashing. The main thing I would love:

  • Collision avoidance. These things really do crash a lot and so if you are taking photos, losing the drone is just terrible.
  • Water safe to have is something that makes it safe to use over water. Like these gigantic floats. After all losing a $1K is kind of a bummer.
  • Photo quality. The whole point is amazing photos and videos and being able to get close for the shots.
  • Portability. Having something small makes a big difference.

Mavic Pro. The winner at least for this year seems to be the DJI Mavic Pro which fits in a water bottle and has a 4K camera. It’s basically at that magic $1K price point (actually $1.3K with all the accessories from Amazon). It has front facing cameras for collisions and infrared sensors that point below. It’s so small and portable that it can fit into a backpack.

Phantom 4 Pro has got your number if you are shooting for quality , it is way larger, but has cameras at the front and back that look for obstacles and avoid them plus a really great 4K camera with 4K60, F/2.8 Lense and 12 stops of dynamic range. It’s $1800 with the remote. You can also get a backpack so you can carry your drone on the plane or get a hard case and check it in if you dare.

Inspire 2. For true lust, this has a 5.2K camera that writes RAW to an onboard SSD. Drool, drool, drool. $3K worth of drone.

Some runners up are:

The Yuneec Typhoon H UHD ($1300 at Amazon but $1800 with collision avoidance in the Pro version) is pretty cool given it’s Intel Realsense collision avoidance. I guess I’m sensitive to two things, collisions and water 🙂 so it’s a little cooler technology wise, but the DJI Phantom 4 Pro has the advantage with popularity.

Forgot pin for a nexus 5

With an Apple phone you can recover through iCloud, by with Google Nexus 5 (as well as Pixel) you can still Go through the debug sequence. Which at its base involves turn the phone on with the sequence by holding volume down while pressing power. This will put you into debug mode. Select the right option the volume up and down and select is the power button. 

You want to get down to recovery mode. This gets you to yet another screen and the magic sequence is hold the volume up key and press power so to enter another menu system. And look for wipe data and then go to reboot. 

Advice for the average home

It seems like once a month, I get asked what to install in typical home (that is where nerds to do not live 🙂 so here is the advice:

  1. Make sure you have a great access point. There is such a temptation to just get a $50 router, but with all the wifi signals out in the world, you really need something that is going to have great coverage. I’ve been buying Unifi AC LRs ($95 from Amazon) if the houses are large and Unify AC Lite is actually much cheaper, but doesn’t use standard POE, so I sometime get that if there is price pressure. The line is confusing, but it is {Lite, LR, Pro, HD} where each has more power. The main drawback is that these things are hard to configure because they use a PC or Mac client to program them, but the advantage is that you can manage them all remotely. Really handy if you have to manage a remote house. Mainly though, the Unifi APs just seem to work and work. So super reliable.
  2. Get a great router. If you have lots of traffic, then these cheap routers will just lock up and hang. There are lots of choice on routers, but if you do care about traffic, then I’ve tried the small business class routers like the Linksys LRT and the Ubiquiti Edgerouter PoE ($160 from Amazon) is a POE router which makes it a good match to the Unify AC LR. If you want a budget version, then the right combination is the Unify AC Lite ($77 from Amazon) and Edgerouter X ($50 from Amazon). The main drawback here is that you do have to program it.
  3. Get a good Internet access, most of the time, no one will have much of a choice, it will be either Comcast or whatever, nothing much you can do about that. One nice feature of the Edgerouter is that you can have two providers, so you could have Comcast and safe Qwest as a backup if you really have trouble. Another option is to get one of those unlimited data plans from say T-Mobile and get a cellular modem. Make sure you do buy your own cable modem as this will save you dollars.
  4. Get a good VPN for some privacy. Private Internet Access I can say does work.
  5. Finally, you want a place where you can back things up. I’ve used Synology quite a bit and they have a very broad product line for the simplest case which is a two disk NAS. They make a huge variety of this. The DS216j ($160 from Amazon) is the cheapest but does not hot swap. You do have to swap drives out. The DS216 is the middle market ($223 from Amazon) and then the DS216+ II which is an Intel processor with hardware encryption ($299 from Amazon). For most folks, I’d recommend a techie geek set it up and then deliver it.
  6. Finally you want a good and reliable set of drives. Backblaze does a nice job of looking at the reliability of consumer drives, you definitely do not want the cheapest ones, so typically a NAS drive is a good compromise. Not as much as an enterprise drive and not as unreliable is a consumer drive. The main point is the HGST drives tend to be more reliable. You really want one with a five year warranty, so in this case the 7K4000 ($170 from Amazon) while their NAS is just three years. In this case, I’d advise you use PcParkPicker.com and then buy from Newegg, they have the best reviews. I’ve used the Seagate Constellation (now called Enterprise Capacity) pretty effectively. They are $175 at Newegg which seems expensive but is super reliable and has that five year warranty).


Post usage USB C cable recommendations and accessories

OK with a few months now of Nexus 5X, MacBook Pro (late 2016) and the new Logitech Brio, here’s a recommendations based on the longer article on long term cords to get in this conversion to USB C connectors for your every day carry (EDC), with the goal being to have two of everything with the smallest redundancy:

  1. JUC–01. Yes it is expensive at $40, but it has it all with full 100 watts, USB 3.1 Gen 2 10Gbps speeds. It is solid and all made, but the main issue is that it is only a meter long.
  2. Apple charging cable. At $20, this is long enough for all needs and supports the full 100 watts, most “phone charges” only support 15 watt maximums, so beware. With this one, you don’t need that cheap cable, you got with your phone. I normally bring the 1 and 2 the meter in my bag.
  3. Apple USB C to Lightening cable. I carry just one and can get a second set from the adapters below

The next set of cables to carry are the USB A cables. these are for compatibility mode charging:

  1. Apple USB A to lightening. Everyone makes these, but the Apple ones do work the best long term.
  2. USB A to USB C adapter. There are lots flavors of this, but the third party Anker cables are nice in 1-meter, so you can always charge your phone at least with it or the laptop at a very low rate.

Adapters to carry

  1. USB C from USB-A. /this let’s any old USB cable like the two above convert to USB C. I use this for back from my old cables.

Lens Rentals and great telephoto setups

It’s been a few years since I’ve really had to shoot a big event, but next month, I do need some neat gear. Lensrentals.com (they are having a 10% discount if you order for the summer)  has been a great site for getting things like sport telephotos


Shooting Canon (and Sony too) is something of a trick, but you can actually get a complete Canon setup for long range outdoor shooting which looks like:

  • Canon 5DS R. 50MP and super fine detail. Many sports need speed, but the nice thing about outdoor sports like sailing is the light is good but the dinghies are far, far, far away.
  • Canon 400MM F2.8L IS II. This is a monster $10K Lense that you can rent for $400 a week, which is a great way to try things and get some wonderful shots.
  • Canon 600MM F4L IS II. This is another monster that is even longer and gives you in effect 20x zoom. Moreover, with 50MP and an effective 38MP resolution, you can zoom in and still get a great shot with effective 40x.
  • Canon Teleconverter. Assuming that it is really bright, a 1.4x teleconverter will make your 600MM, an 800MM although you need lots of light. It’s not a bad choice.
  • Wemberly Sidekick. Assuming you already have a sturdy tripod (Gitzo!) and a great ballhead (Q20), then you need the Sidekick to convert it to a smooth gimbal. The 400MM also needs a 6 inch Arca-Swiss plate to mount it.

One of the nice things about this setup is that if you already have some Canon lenses you can shoot short as well.  Also, if you want to see how well Sony A7R II does, then you can just get a Metabones converter. These things sometimes work well and sometimes don’t, but then this let’s you have a short range. body:

  • Sony A7R II. The model III is about to be announced but this is still an incredible 40MP camera.
  • Sony 85MM GM. This is the grand master 85MM for portraits. Can’t wait to try this one.
  • Sony 55MM F/1.8. This is a general purpose lense and super sharp.
  • Metabones Canon EF to Sony E. This converts the big lenses above.

Finally, for really the best quality, the Nikon setup is in many ways even cooler because the 200M Lense is incredible:

  • Nikon D810. 40MP that is at the state of the art still after quite a few years.
  • Nikon 200MM F/2 Nikkor. I still dream about how good the shots are from this Lense. The 1.4 teleconverter is a great thing to add. You can even shoot this handheld on a dinghy.
  • Nikon 400MM F/2.8. This is still an amazing Lense and goes to 600MM with the teleconverter.

The Details

So here are what I remember from previous reviews, then an update as lots has happened since 2015 for DxOMark:

  1. Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200mm F/2G. (Image Resources, DxOMark 44) With a Nikon D810, this thing was kind of a miracle. It was crystal clear with 33p-Mp effective resolution (against a 36Mp sensor according to DxOMark you get in effect 33 megapixel of resolution) and that made a real difference. Even with a 1.4x teleconverter. The main thing is that it isn’t quite a long so was great for near shots. The main thing was the light transmission was just awesome.
  2. Nikon AF-S Nikkor 400mm F/2.8G (DxOMark 39) with an even better 33p-MP on the D800E. I haven’t tried this, but it could be a very good choice particularly with a 1.4x teleconverter.
  3. Canon 400mm f2.8L IS II . (Image Resources, DxOMark 38, The Digital Picture) This was a monster of a lense and with a 2x teleconverter, it was a great tool to try to shoot at the Columbia River Gorge where you need to make things 2 miles away look up close and personal. DxOmark says that on a 5D2, it has a 14MP effective (compared with a 20MP sensor). I actually found the sample I had much less sharp than that. You can see the difference in quality by noting that a Canon 5DS (50MP sensor) gets only an effective 29MP with this Lense. Still it has an amazing DxOMark. And with a 1.4x teleconverter you have a 600mm Lense set.
  4. Canon 300mm F/2.8L IS II. (DxOMark 32) Even paired with a Canon 5DS R, I was surprised how much sharper the 200mm F/2G Nikkor seemed. DxOMark says this is 45MP sharp combination, but with 1.4x teleconverter it felt much softer.
  5. Canon 600mm F/4L IS. (Image Resources, DxOMark 32, The Digital Picture,). This sounds like a much lower score than the 400mm, but in fact this is all due to the transmission. It is a F/4 Lense, in fact, it is just as sharp as the 400mm, so perfect for shooting really, really long.

The very best resolution according to DxO is still the 200mm and 400mm lenses with the Nikon D810. These are still the best choices for resolution. Canon is just one step behind One interesting thing to try is the Sony A7R II which has a nice Metabones adapter, so you can use it with the Canon. Nikon is harder of course because of its autofocus design.

As a comparison, the older zoom lenses are much less sharp, for instance:

  • Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS USM ($1600 list in 1998) is a 10 year old lense but with a Canon 5DS R (a 50MP sensor), it manages just 14MP effective, so you are losing ? of the bits. This is fundamental optics, as a Canon 5D Mark II with it’s 21MP sensor resolves 11MP, so zoom’s aren’t great, but the older ones get way worse with today’s high resolution sensors. The later mark II version is much better resolving 24MP on a 50MP sensor
  • Canon 70-200 F/2.8L IS USM. ($2200 list in 2002, DxOMark 29) is another good example, it resolves 18MP from a 50MP Canon 5DS R, but with the Canon 5D Mark II, it resolves 14MP. The newer Mark II version of this lense is DxOMark 32, but resolves 33MP, so nearly 1.5x the resolution.

Then for ordinary shooting we have again quite a spread of lenses against different bodies. It’s interesting to see 3 of the top 5 are with the Sony A7R II, so quite different compared with the super telephotos:

  1. Sigma 85mm mm (DxOMark 48) for Nikon. This art Lense is really the best in the world.
  2. Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Sonnar (DxOMark 48). On the Sony A7R II this gets you to 41MP.
  3. Carl Zeiss APO Sonnar T* 2/135 (DxOMark 48). This is another portrait Lense that is incredibly sharp on the Canon 5DS R.
  4. Sony FE 90mm. (DxOMark 47)
  5. Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 on Nikon D810 (DxOMark 46).
  6. Carl Zeiss Batis 25mm on Sony A7R II (DxOMark 46).