Fri, 31 Aug 2007
Bicycle Frame Painted
A month and half ago a chain on my bicycle cracked, so I have decided to do a bigger-than-usual maintainance work on my bike. Apart from the other tasks, I have decided to let the frame and fork newly painted. The current paint was more than 10 years old. I googled for the bicycle service shops in Brno who were also able to get the frame painted. I have found only the RockRoad.CZ shop.
I went there and ordered new painting for the frame and fork, as well as some other repairs. They were a bit surprised that I wanted a green color (they said that blue is more common these times). However, they have accepted the order, and said that it will be ready in a week or so.
Two weeks after that, the frame was still not ready. Another two weeks, the person on the other end of the phone said that they do not have a green color, so they are going to use a blue paint instead. I have rejected that, demanding that they return the frame, as I wanted to look for another paint shop. The serviceperson discussed it with his boss, and then replied to the phone: "It has already been painted blue". WTF? After repeatedly saying I do not want a blue bike (as I have most of the accessories green) and several other phone calls and two personal visits (I have even brought a voice recorder with me, just in case), I have finally managed to get the frame from them without paying anything.
For a moment I have been thinking about keeping the blue color, but after seeing their work, it is a no way: the color is unevenly distributed, with occasional drops of paint left (see the endings of the fork), etc. The message is: stay away from RockRoad.CZ (or at least from their painting services). And the question to my lazyweb is obvious: do you know about a good paintshop in Brno, which can paint bicycle frames?
Thu, 30 Aug 2007
Last weekend I took part in another puzzle-solving outdoor game, Svíčky. This time Svíčky took place in Jičín, which was quite far from Brno.
The first (and fatal, as we will see later) weak point of our team was the qualification. We were too busy to seriously solve the qualification tasks: we have solved only one puzzle, which allowed us to qualify. However, solving more would have given us the points which were later usable in the game itself.
I will not describe the whole game in detail, hopefully somebody will write a more detailed report. We were quite good, after the game we have found out that we were the first team at majority of the stages. We have arrived to the penultimate stage together with another team, Prahory. However, they had many points left from the qualification, so they have immediately used them to receive the solution, and even the rest of their remaining points allowed them to solve the last stage quite fast. As a result, we have lost to them three hours during the last two stages. The Prahory team won, finishing the game at 3:43 am, while we were the second at 6:48am. After that, there was a long gap - further teams started to arrive to the final stage at about 11am, and only one more team has solved the last puzzle (they were short of time, but they had a laptop with them, so they have computed the solution using frequency analysis).
The second place is not so bad - after long time another puzzle-solving outdoor game where we have solved all stages before the time limit (my previous one was - I think - TMOU 4). As for the puzzles - Svíčky 2007 was excellent! The only puzzle we did not like - as we have found later - could be solved by a more elegant way than we did, so even that one was OK.
Sat, 11 Aug 2007
The Best Deal
I normally try to avoid looking at banner ads in the web pages. However, today I have seen something which I nominate for my Daily WTF award :-)
It was an ad to a digital SLR camera (which is why I have looked at it at all). The screenshot is cropped, it was twice that high, with the other half describing the camera and saying that Circuit City offers the Best deal.
Fri, 10 Aug 2007
Our relatively new (~1 year) frying pan with teflon coating is becoming more and more sticky, so we are looking for a replacement. However, I don't think buying the new frying pan every year is the right solution to the problem.
So far the average lifetime of our frying pans has been slightly more than a year, with almost daily usage. After that, it either become sticky, or the teflon coating started to crack and fall off. And we are (at least moderately) cautious about the pan surface - we don't use sharp accessories inside of it, we don't put it in the dishwasher, etc.
The Wikipedia article on pans (marked as [] :-) says the following:
With the exception of cast iron frying pans, a Teflon coating can be applied to the surface of the pan to make it non-stick. This is popular for frying pans sold to the home user but less so for those used by professional cooks and restaurants. Cast iron naturally becomes non-stick through use and so would not benefit from a Teflon coating.
Is it true - do I want a cast iron pan? So far the Teflon-coated frying pans seem like an example of a product with a built-in obsolescence, designed to keep the manufacturer's cash flow steady. What about other materials (like titanium)? My dear lazyweb, what frying pan do you use/recommend, and what is the average lifetime of it?
Thu, 09 Aug 2007
Spare CPU Cycles
BTW, thanks for the link to Eternity II. An interesting puzzle indeed, but why would anybody want to solve it without a computer? It sort of defeats the purpose of a puzzle - to use your brain. If you need challenges for your brain, go play Haluz 2007 instead.
Tue, 07 Aug 2007
I run a dual-seated configuration on my home computer (two monitors, two keyboards, two mice, etc.). It works for most applications, but it has one problem, which I haven't found a solution for yet: sound. I have only one 6-channel sound card, and I would like to use it from both heads (ideally split to two channels for one user, two channels for the other one, and the remaining two channels for Music Player Daemon output, connected to the stereo in the living room).
There are big problems with multiple users accessing a single sound card - usually when some application from one user's session locks the sound card (or create the ALSA DMIX shared memory segment or whatever), other apps cannot use it (which is pretty annoying especially when an incoming call through Ekiga arrives).
The solution would be to use a sound server (such as EsounD or aRts). But unfortunately not all sound apps have plugins for the same sound server. Each sound server appears to invent its own new incompatible API. However, today I have found something which looks like it can fulfill my needs in this area, and even better, it will be included in the Fedora 8 (see the feature list of F8): the project named PulseAudio.
There is an interesting presentation (PDF warning) on PulseAudio. Hopefully it will be a project of a "what people really need" nature instead of the "not invented here, let's create our own solution" one. Does anybody know whether it is possible to configure PulseAudio for two users (as described in the first paragraph)? From the examples from the PDF presentation it seems possible.