The weakness of my commuter bike

I have had my commuter bike for close to 4 years now. I have ridden about 11.000 kms on it and I think I can safely say that I have come to know its design’s weak point. We’re talking about a 2013 Giant Rapid. It has the same alloy frame as the given year’s Giant Defys, so I think this applies to those bikes as well.
The weakness is its headset. It has Giant’s own OverDrive steerer, which means that both headset bearings are ‘oversized’. This adds better control and increased handling, but it has a drawback. The bottom bearing sits in its integrated housing in the frame itself, and the gap between the frame and the fork is about 2-3 millimeters. This doesn’t seem much or out-of-the-ordinary, but since the wheel is pretty close to this –about 2 cms–, it means all dirt from the road will fly to where this gap is. Unfortunately this means that no matter how well the bearing is greased, after about 2000 kms it gets really dirty. My bike starts to have constant clicking noises when this happens. There’s no other way around it but disassemble the headset, clean all parts with WD-40, apply a great amount of grease again and get back to riding. It can get a little bit worse if you ride the bike in rain — this itself can cause the clicking noise.
This is not actually a big deal. After doing it a couple of times, you can go over the whole thing in about half an hour. The bike’s awesome to ride, so this little price I’m OK to pay. It’s just something that needs to be shared.

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Streak of bad luck

Since we have moved to our own house two weeks ago, our luck has left us:
1. Our new fridge freezes in the upper compartment, it’ll need to be fixed or replaced
2. A piece of gas equipment has broken, leaving us without heating and hot water for a night
3. I have wrongly wired money to my account, so I lost some money (see here)
4. Our car broke down today (it needed a new generator, leaving us with $290 less)
5. The alarm system for the house has been acting up, so I disabled it, so someone will have to reprogram it

I think that’s kind of enough for 2017, if I can choose, I’d go for an easier rest of the year. Despite all these bad things happening, we’re still healthy (as far as we know) and nothing irreversible had happened – if I consider it from this point of view, I have nothing to complain about!

How I got into programming

It started a long time ago, but as you can guess, it was a fundamental experience, so I remember some details. I was in elementary school, 4th grade. My family is not religious -I’m not even christened!- and at fourth grade everyone in my class, except for a select few, started going to bible class. My parents asked me if I wanted to and since I didn’t see the point, they didn’t force it. I’m not really sure if my lack of religiousness would’ve allowed me to even participate. Anyways, this meant that the school had to ‘deal with us, outliers’. There was this old man (Mr. Endre) who handled the not-so-huge computational needs of the school and the town council. He helped where he could, so he was tasked with teaching a Computer Class. The school had a bunch of Commodore 64s and some small TVs, and most of the time Mr Endre simply let us play with them. He also brought some games on 5.25″ floppy disks, taught us how to load the games, etc.
At home we had a Commodore VIC-20 with a 16k cartridge extension. It was still far from the 64’s 64k, but it was more than enough. We didn’t have a floppy drive though, only a cassette drive (called a datasette). I asked my father to hook it up to the TV, and I started playing at home too. It wasn’t as convenient as the school machines, and I couldn’t play those fancy games. They kind of started to bore me.
One day I’ve found my dad’s book about Basic. I was fascinated by it, although a lot of things didn’t make sense. I’m not sure why my dad had it, to be honest, he never picked up programming. Anyways, I started reading the book and basically typed in some things that were programs. I didn’t fully understand what was happening, but this mystery lead me on. I couldn’t get enough. I remember one of the greatest revelations was figuring out conditionals – just the fact that I could GOTO to different lines based on some condition opened up a huge space. I also found a way to get input from the user (thinking about it now, these three concepts (conditions, variable assignment and GOTO) meant I’ve found Turing completeness). Combining these things I wrote my first program: a joke teller. It asked if you wanted to hear a joke. If you said yes, it told you one and asked if you liked it. It was a very basic conversational program. I remember gluing the pieces together took me weeks – multiple instances of the computer class plus my free time at home. It wasn’t like I had long continuous, uninterrupted intervals when I could focus on the problems. I had to think about things for days, come up with theories, test them, then wait some more days until I had the chance to touch the computer again. As a fourth-grader, I had to deal with a lot of other responsibilities :)
In a nutshell, this is how it started for me. I think I decided that I wanted to be a programmer then – in fourth grade.

Being the keeper of the fragile status quo

I’m not really sure why, but lately I’ve been finding myself in situations when I need to be very diplomatic and basically serve as the peace keeper. It might just be adult life, me maturing or just a coincidence, I don’t really know.

My manager has been on vacation for a week (and will be for another two), so I inherited all his responsibilities. This means that I need to find the balance between client requests and things that we as a project need to accomplish – these of course might not have direct impact on new features or bugs but will be beneficial in the long run. I need to drive the interaction between to more senior guys who basically can’t stand each other, because we need some bug fixes from them. I’m also responsible for keeping the team move without glitches; this means finding acceptable compromise for all members.

On top of the regular “work drama”, I’ve also found myself excusing some parts of my extended family to others. Trying to keep the peace and relative smoothness between my parents and in-laws plus wife and parents – giving it a little more thought, basically all the combinations that you can think of.

Maybe I just really grew up by now? Maybe before I didn’t really care for what people thought of others or how they felt? Anyways, I’m finding myself becoming more and more diplomatic. I also use this newly found ability to navigate storms to my advantage.

Does the fact that I only noticed this now mean that I’ve been so naive for not realizing this was such a huge part of life?