25 Milestone

 Bikes, Gadgets  Comments Off on 25 Milestone
Oct 222013

It’s pretty rare for me to pause and just enjoy a moment, but after seven years, more hours and money than I care to remember, and plenty of great dark waves of self-doubt, today I enjoyed some of what I think most people call “happiness.” I turns out I really did know what I was doing after all.

1 patent – 27.5 inches – 160 millimeters – 2 links – 25 mile round trip commute to work
absolutely zero suspension bob

Plenty still to do, but it works. The design I’ve put so much into actually does work. Really, really well. I’m a little bit in shock, actually. Not quite ready for daytime photos, but there’s an entirely new kind of suspension system in the world. I’m quietly happy tonight.

Jan 282013

Yeah, I’ve been away. Previously confined to the backburner, my personal life has since been moved completely out of the kitchen and is now being stored in a dumpster out back. Sure, the bike projects I tend to write about here aren’t necessarily my personal life, but riding bikes and writing about them both get filed under “personal” for me. Can’t consider that work.

I’d like to think I’ve been a little productive while I was away, though. Putting some time in testing a prototype carbon disc ‘cross frameset these days while two other projects are in the pipeline. Lots to work out still on this frame, and yesterday was “fat guy singletrack test” for the flat bar build version (we have a few variations).

Did some exploring around the lakes by my house and uncovered some good stuff. I finally find trails like this right by me, and I’m on a rigid ‘cross bike with 33s. Still a hell of a lot of fun.

No flats, despite the rocks, which I was weirdly delighted to find. After so many years slipping around on rocks in PA, every one of them yesterday was like an old friend–made all the more exciting by the skinny tires.

Actually producing the frameset is still a question mark–we’d need to have molds made for more sizes and are still tweaking things–but it survived today in style. I love taking bikes out of their element to see what they can do, and despite the rain and getting lost more than a few times riding completely new trails, it was a good day. Hope to have another update soon.

Sunday Ample Clearance

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Jan 072013

One thing about bikes with disc brakes: tire clearance at the seat stay is usually pretty good. That’s a Conti 37mm commuter tire in there. One of the things I did this weekend was some clearance research on the project bike (apologies to Seven, too, for temporarily borrowing “Mudhoney”–no idea that was already in play until just recently–need a new project name now).

It was a productive weekend overall.

I’d like to think I’ve always fiercely avoided letting this blog devolve into one of those “here’s what I did today” sort of things. That’s partially because who the hell cares, really, unless it’s something worth sharing? And precious little of what most people think’s worth sharing actually is. Once I start posting photos of what I’m having for dinner, I’d sort of hope my readers would just shake their heads and move on.

But this past Sunday was unique in that I actually managed to get a lot done, including some early marketing work, and then making a new web page. This web page thing normally wouldn’t take long, except it required some social media integration and–far more time-consuming–working around a canned solution web platform. I really like just being able to write a file in a simple text editor, whereas creating files in a cheesy “page creator” (itself, web-based and buggy as shit) is right up there with chewing tinfoil. Anyway, got that done despite some funkiness before noon.

An hour and a half or so on the rollers watching bad TV and then family time, which these days often involves Skype. Skype means my head’s officially out of my weekend rabbit hole and so I started getting some messages. This was OK, really, because a partner in Taiwan has to go over some stuff with me, and that’s both important and fun. I’d already sneaked some time in on bike development stuff really early in the day.

Then back to marketing work, and checking some Google alerts I have, which revealed a conversation about one of my companies that was really interesting and got me thinking about a whole bunch of other stuff.

Pathetic, by most standards, but a pretty good day, I thought. Not as nice as a few hours on the mountain bike or road bike, but mileage was picked up today. It doesn’t always feel that way, and I’ll take it.

Project Mudhoney

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Jan 042013

Meanwhile, in an undisclosed location that may or may not be my house, we have what appears to be an as yet unidentified bicycle frameset. One of the bike projects seems to’ve taken a nice step forward today. Can’t show much more than this right now, but initial tire clearance checks with some 37mm Contis made me grin maniacally. Yes, maniacally. Threaded inserts for disc brake post mount bolts just make sense. Looks like I’m sticking with a musical theme for my project names. Flannel represent.

Noisemakers and Wallflowers

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Jan 022013

So it’s 2013. Among other things I’d not realized that moving to the West Coast meant getting to celebrate New Year’s at a much more sensible 9:00pm. The advantages are clear: a full three hours early I can reassure myself that watching large gatherings of drunk people bobbing semi-rhythmically to the weak and perfunctory musical stylings of an already weak and perfunctory pop star are still not my thing, then get back to more entertaining stuff.

Like work. I ushered in 2013 much like I have most other years: working on something. In this case a site promo code that wasn’t functioning properly but was set to go off at midnight, regardless. Fortunately, texting my particularly capable boss about a site problem at 8:30pm New Year’s Eve means getting a response at approximately 8:33pm, and a fix shortly after that. Whatever’s wrong with me, this sort of thing seems to be my idea of a good time on New Year’s Eve. I’m a happy little wallflower.

So maybe there’s something wrong with me. Or definitely. There’s definitely something wrong with me. It’s not even about making money so much as making things work. As long as I’m working on something I like–anything from a piece of code to a bike design–I seem to actually prefer creating to recreating. It might just be a nerd thing. A decent beer or two during the process is nice, but getting shit-faced purely for the joy of getting shit-faced has never really seemed like fun to me, compared to making stuff. I don’t know why.

There are, of course, less pleasant things to make–like a backup and relocation of a WordPress site on a sketchy server, which I’m dealing with currently and which ranks right up there with home dental work and chugging spoiled milk. But even WordPress work seems preferable to vomiting into roadside shrubbery, which I witnessed yesterday. As a general rule, if you’ve had to pull your car over to get out and vomit, maybe you shouldn’t be driving. Even if that’s the flu.

So I hope to make more in 2013. I probably won’t weigh less, be nicer, look better or set any new personal records. But I hope to make some things. Overall, January could end up being a decent month when it comes to projects. Some basic carbon fiber samples might be showing up, and I’m hoping to get a timeline on the Danzig prototype soon. A whole bunch of hours finally leading toward making something–that’s my kind of party. I blame Legos.


 E-commerce  Comments Off on Zappoed
Dec 242012

So apparently a customer server agent at Zappo’s spent ten hours on the phone with a customer a few weeks ago. This is just another new standard being set for online customer service, and it joins the ranks of other innovative new standards like endless no-questions-asked returns for any reason and free shipping and free return shipping. If you want to sell shit on the Internet these days, you’d better be prepared to bring your A Game.

Except, wait, what?

Borrow a healthy dose of Web 2.0 skepticism from Jaron Lannier’s pragmatic 21st Century paranoia, apply it to ecommerce, and one starts to wonder if this is improved customer service in the same way Wal-Mart greeters are improved customer service. Perhaps someone spending ten hours on the phone with Zappos doesn’t say as much about Zappos customer service as it does about the state of customers, and I don’t know that that’s something to brag about.

Gangkonfigurator Style

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Dec 192012

I had some technical difficulties yesterday. Computer was fine, but I technically needed more than four hours of sleep. So no post. Literally tens of people may have been surprised to see Monday’s sad post still lingering around. So it goes.

A fourth potential bike project has been added to my list, which I think means I now have a fourth full-time job or something. Unfortunately, dreaming up bikes doesn’t even make the top three when it comes to “things people pay me to do.” Actually, if you count the almost $15 that Google owes me from my Canootervalve ad hosting empire, designed bikes and suspension systems doesn’t even make the top four. It is what people who aren’t getting paid refer to as “a labor of love.”

Anyway, wildly successful profit center or not, I have to backburner Canootervalve for my own sanity to focus free time on doing bike stuff instead of writing about doing bike stuff. I’ll still post all updates on any of the projects here first, but fact is I started this blog to help keep my sanity after leaving my old company unless less than ideal circumstances. I’ve managed to keep it cranking out updates on shit other than what I ate for dinner despite accumulating a pretty alarming number of obligations, so the sanity-preservation play now moves to increasing sleep, decreasing posts.

One thing on my mind, though, is becoming a bike company. I don’t know that this is a bridge I’ll ever have to cross, but assuming the Project Danzig prototype doesn’t wallow around like a drunken duck, having at least some rough idea of a Second Act seems like a good idea. Consumer direct makes a lot of sense, but I like bike dealers. Hmm.

For some site design work I’m doing, I had occasion to visit Koba and check out their bike konfigurator. I’ve always thought configurators were pretty cool. I even built a superhalfass one a long time ago, but one thing about Koba stood out: I’m definitely going to refer to parts groups as “gangs.” As in the new SRAM XX1 Gang. In fact, if I end up involved in a bike company, maybe we’ll just write the whole site in German, so we can use words like “Konfigurator,” too. That word just looks right with a “k” up front. Very death metal.


Combination bike company and death metal band?

More sleep is clearly needed here.

Patriot Games

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Dec 172012

I don’t have words for the murders that took place in Connecticut this past Friday, but thinking about anything else seems impossible and inappropriate. My boys are the same age as the victims. One of them still believes in his own invincibility. The other believes anything can be figured out, provided you think about it enough. Like most parents, I’ve found it difficult not to imagine those beliefs being taken from them. If I’m not careful, I can see what small courage each boy has so far managed to find within himself being asked to face that moment, that endless quiet. I would like very much not to be able to think about that.

By Monday morning, though, we’re well on our way to “understanding” the killer, as if the likes of CNN has ever brought us a breakthrough in the origins of good and evil. The reality is that there is no collective human reaction to this, because this isn’t the business of humanity. While these tragedies necessarily bring people together, it’s only because individually there is no way to process this, no language to speak it. There’s more humanity in a book left open on the floor of a little girl’s room than in all of us left living today.

It’s natural to want to do something.

We could get rid of guns, or at least the kind clearly preferred by people interested in killing other people. That Red Dawn fantasy about having to rise up against an invasion from another country? You don’t own the country anyway, Cletus. Wealthy people do, and they only let you live here because your lives aren’t significant enough to bother them. Besides, your country was already invaded. They came through Wal-Mart, and we surrendered without a fight.

Still more effectively, as many of the best voices during this tragedy have argued, we could put more effort into diagnosing and treating the mentally ill. I would submit to you that we have, here in the 21st Century, the most powerful tool for this work already at our disposal each and every day.

I’m referring, of course, to Twitter.

We can’t predict the next tragic event, but we can do a better job of monitoring the unstable. Deadspin shows us how easy it is to gather a quick list of the emotionally unstable.

The thing about this post is that it seems like I started out serious and then made a joke. I didn’t. If we really wanted to find the mentally unstable, hashtags would help. The media seems infatuated with full-grown human monster-style “Evil,” when it seems to me evil usually begins in things like venomous self-centered, hate-filled, inarticulate spew. Where it goes from there depends on a lot of things, but it doesn’t change the fact that these people need help.