Archive for July, 2012

Break out the tin-foil hats folks…

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Drivers Befuddled By Area Of Bermuda Triangle Parking That Renders Car Remotes Useless

Mysterious force blocks car remotes in Yonkers

I heard about this on the radio yesterday – basically there’s an area in Yonkers where the signals from keyless entry systems are being jammed.  Other reports claim that cars in the area won’t start unless they’re pushed or towed from the area.  Apparently a local hardware store is upset because the disruption is costing them business… I say they should start selling keys at half-price and encourage folks to stop polluting the air with filthy radio waves.

First and foremost, if your keyless entry doesn’t work USE A KEY.  That said, i’m very curious as to what could possibly be jamming the signals, and what else is affected… cellphones? Cordless phones? Wireless internet?  Generally in a situation like this you’d call in the FCC (if they’re not too busy invalidating the first amendment) who could find the source and stop it and/or fine the crap out of whoever is causing it.

If its strong enough to actually keep a car from starting, short of a natural anomaly – what could actually be pumping out a signal that strong?  It may be the side-effects of my tin-foil hat here but maybe there’s some super secret government facility there which has malfunctioned (or is actually operating correctly).  In any event – if some mystery device hidden a in a building in a populated area can do this – imagine what’d happen if a few dozen of them were hidden around a real populated area…  sounds like something Homeland Security should get on top of.

Either way, I may just take my Subaru out for a drive this weekend and see if I can experience it first hand, sounds like fun. 🙂

The NYC Nanny

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Anyone with at least one half of their brain still functioning knows that drinking something packed with sugar, sodium, and other chemicals only Walter White could translate too much can’t be good for you.  Anyone who has stopped drinking soda outright most likely notices that within a week they’ve lost 5-10lbs of water weight because all of the sodium has finally been flushed from their system.

All that being said, I can’t help but throw up in my mouth a little when I hear ‘man on the street’ interviews where an ‘average New Yorker’ is asked about the proposed ban on soft-drinks over 16oz and actually agrees with it.  Now mind you, there are several reasons that don’t involve nanny state bullshit which justify such an action:

  • Decreasing litter.
  • Decreasing pollution by producing fewer containers over 16oz.
  • Increasing tax revenue by forcing people to buy more soft drinks in separate containers.

That’s right.  I’m of a mind that this has less to do with promoting healthy living and more to do with increasing tax revenue to the city of New York.  If Bloomberg’s plan had ANYTHING to do with health, he would have either imposed a higher tax on soft drinks, or banned them outright.

See, there are certain things that when a tax increase is proposed, people will not argue – such as cigarettes.  Try it on something a greater portion of your population enjoys and there is sure to be backlash.  Smaller sodas generally cost more per liter than larger ones (compare a 16oz bottle of Coke to a 2-liter bottle), sales tax is a percentage of the total price of the product, so by eliminating the lower cost option Bloomberg effectively increases the tax revenue by forcing people to buy more small bottles, as well as increasing the revenue from deposits.  Now while everyone knows you can take your bottle to one of those machines and get your $.05 back, how many of us actually do it?  How many people in NYC actually do it?  Exactly.

Don’t forget about the retailers… they’ll now have plenty more space on their shelves and refrigerators to store even MORE soda and greater variety… or the manufacturers that will end up selling more soda because of this ban.  Follow the money my friends, Bloomberg is just as crooked as any other politician, he’s just better and weighing the odds.

The kicker is, the only way to push this through is to accept a restriction on personal liberty – and Bloomberg isn’t an idiot.  Raising taxes in an election cycle is a mistake.  Imposing a ban at the cost of personal liberty (which the American population doesn’t seem to give a shit about) because it will supposedly improve your health… well that’s a no brainer!


And the real lunacy begins…

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Already saw a bunch of absolute retards trying to tie the Colorado shooting to a comment that Limbaugh made (jokingly) comparing the character Bane to Bain Capital…  Yeah.

Now I’m seeing backlash in the form of people trying (even Conservative pundits that I wouldn’t expect this from) to link it to the so-called ‘de-sensitivity’ to violence as a result of the violence in movies.

Give me a BREAK people.  We have had plenty of disturbingly violent cinema since the 70’s, maybe even earlier.  I said this when I was a wee teenager, and it still holds true today – the violence we see in movies and television is not the CAUSE of violence in reality, it is a REFLECTION of it.  Blaming that reflection is a copout.  Charles Manson wiped out how many people because of a song… were there calls to ban shitty music because of it?  Exactly.

The shooting was perpetrated by someone who was a complete and utter CRACK JOB.  Sure, you can call it mental illness if you want, but generally mentally ill people have the common decency to just kill THEMSELVES.  Now this ‘Joker’ (who had red hair while the movie/comic/television character had GREEN) will get to enjoy our penal system as a slew of bleeding hearts wait for the precise moment to try and get him clear of the charges based on typical bleeding heart bullshit.

Movie’s didn’t cause it, the second amendment didn’t cause it, the fact that this jackass was able to obtain a drum magazine for his AR15 didn’t cause it – he did.  If someone is neurotic enough that they plan on going out and slaughtering innocent people, it doesn’t matter whether they have a gun, knife, safety scissors, or explosives – they’re going to do it, and there isn’t a single thing we can do to stop it.

Perhaps if after the Columbine shooting, Colorado legalized conceal and carry, someone MAY have been able to take his ass out before a single innocent person was killed – but we’ll never know.  I’d rather have a legal holster and weapon on my person at all times than rely on some imaginary kinder and gentler society full of hapless Eloi just waiting for the Morlocks to come out of their underground lairs to slaughter them.

We’re fish, the world is our barrel, and the nutjobs don’t give a shit about gun laws.

Guerrilla Tech Support

Monday, July 9th, 2012

I have a bad habit.  If I’m out and about, and pick up a wireless network on my phone, I try to poke around.  It’s amazing how many people set up a wireless network and just forget about it, or try to get a little more advanced and do it completely wrong.

Where I stayed, the network was setup with a single DSL connection feeding the 4-unit condominium.  That connection had a single Buffalo router running DD-WRT.  All in all, not a bad setup.  The problem was that it absolutely ran like garbage.  No signal was strong enough, and when you got a strong signal – the connection between the main router and the access-point you were connecting to was shaky at best.

I’ve been working with DD-WRT for some time now, so when I was able to get in with the default admin credentials, I realized that not only had they put 4 routers on the same channel, they throttled back the Tx power.  DD-WRT defaults at 71mW, and Buffalo recommends running their units at 30mW due to some form of built-in amplifier.  These were all set to 20mW using channel 7.

The problem with running all of these devices on the same channel is interference, so I’m guessing they cut the transmit power to try and lessen how crappy everything ran, but in the process lessened the performance when communicating with the main router.  I proceeded to turn up the transmit power to 30mW, and then put the devices on separate channels.

The main router went to channel 9, and the rest were set to 7, 5, and 3 (you generally want to keep a free channel open both before and after the channel being used).  As a result, every wifi network I connected to ran well enough that I could watch Netflix on my phone without any buffering.

Sure, running multiple AP’s is nice and avoids having to run wire or multiple broadband connections… but if you’re going to do it, at least GOOGLE the best way to set things up, and even if you decide NOT to encrypt the connection, at least change the default admin credentials.  Not everyone is going to be as helpful as me…

First road trip on the bike…

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Last Tuesday night I decided to catch up with the rest of my family down at OBX.  The catch was, OBX is around 600 miles from here, and generally takes 10-12 hours to reach.  Since I’ve been riding for a good 4 years now, I decided to take my bike down.  Now there are many things which out and out scream – do not take a 500cc Kawasaki on a long road trip, such as a 2.9g fuel tank (150 miles max range) and a seat that was designed by satan to steal life from anyone who sits on it for longer than an hour.  Still, I decided to throw caution to the wind and get going.

The first thing I came to realize, is that while the bike can keep up easily with interstate traffic (90+ mph on average), the gas mileage drops significantly (from 50mpg to around 36mpg) – so while I can go faster, technically its a wash because I would have to stop more often for refills.  So I brought the speed back down, and slowly other issues cropped up – mainly comfort.  The bike itself isn’t all that uncomfortable, but the seat isn’t exactly made for long rides.  Shifting back and forth in line with the varying levels of discomfort helped – but what I eventually tried was to plant my feet on the rear pegs and lean forward on the bike (like a sport bike).  That took most of the load off my rear end, and allowed me to relax my arms and legs.  Each time I did this I’d have to adjust the mirrors so I could see whether or not anyone was coming up from behind (NY bike, riding south, was waiting for the eventual ticket…).

As the ride progressed, I came to realize that everyone speeds – and at least during the time I rode – they speed a lot.  This helped make some good time once I was off the interstates, if a pack of traffic was doing 70mph through a 40mph zone, I just kept up with them.  Most of the ride was pretty un-eventful on the back-roads, but my general practice of ‘wait to get passed, then keep up with a decent gap’ worked pretty good.  At one point I was running very low on fuel, I ended up stopping off in Virginia at a closed gas-station which kept the pumps online.  Was a little creepy but got the job done.  I had tried to wire up a 12v port on the bike before I left, but all I managed to do was fry my cellphone charger.  So my primary source of navigation was a short direction list stored in my seat-bag.  I only managed to goof once or twice, like getting on route 12 in Kitty Hawk instead of staying on 158.  Also discovered that having a crosswalk button nearby is a great asset when stick at a light that isn’t configured to support a motorcycle.

I made a point at every stop to take a little extra time to stretch my legs, re-hydrate, and check that everything on the bike was still working right.  All in all, the ride down took about 14 hours including stops and waiting for the ferry to Ocracoke.  The best way to go on a trip like this, is to leave with the sun up, travel through the night, and arrive for sunrise.  The next day I took a few power-naps to partake in the absolutely glorious weather without collapsing.  I ended up deciding to head back early Sunday morning.  Since weather reports showed rain on the horizon for the coming week, and I had no desire to ride 600 miles soaking wet.  The ride back was a little more than I bargained for.

Starting with the wait for the ferry, the bike wouldn’t fire up when it came time to actually board.  After putting the kick-stand up I was able to get it started.  My best guess was that the kickstand safety switch which is designed to stop the engine if the bike is put in gear decided to start working (it never has).  Once back on the mainland, I made a point to stop for ear plugs (a dozen hours of wind noise and open exhaust can get a little rough).  I also stopped at an Ace Hardware store in Virginia to get a Leatherman – it felt a bit like going to Radio Shack and asking for a specific type of resistor – the kid who tried his damn-est to help me didn’t even know what a Leatherman was.  I ended up finding a knock-off in the outdoors section.  I removed the switch and re-attached it so that it would always be open.  This appeared to work for a short time, but eventually the bike wouldn’t turn over again.  I’d say at least 50% of my stops required pop-starting the bike.  Made me start to wonder how hard it would be to install a kick-start on it.

The next problem with the ride was the heat.  It was about 75F for the ride down and I didn’t have much trouble staying hydrated.  For the ride up, the average temperature was around 100F (a real-feel temperature indicated the temp felt more like 123F around Cape Charles, VA).  At each stop I’d pound two of those $.99 Arizona cans, but by the afternoon I started to get a headache and feel the dehydration starting to take affect.  The clouds began to roll in around Delaware, so I took a long stop at a Waffle House ($10 T-Bone Steak & Eggs… can’t beat it).  That helped me get my bearings as I continued back up through NJ.  I stopped on the turnpike for gas, there were some pretty long lines – one woman decided not to wait and drove around the lines to the other side of the pump.  To my amusement – they refused to fill her tank and told her to get back in line.  Between exits 6 and 8 I hit some massive slowdowns due to construction zones (although I couldn’t see a single bit of construction being actively performed).  This tacked another hour onto the ride, I had hoped to make it back without stopping again, but as the sun went down after that long wait I decided to get off of the highway and take some familiar back-roads home.

Heading up 206 through Flanders, I had to detour due to an accident.  Apparently a bike clipped a car, and the passenger on the bike was killed.  Gave me pause… I stopped to top of the tank and just sat there, astonished that I had gone over 520 miles at that point without a single problem and these folks who made the mistake of stopping at a 7/11 for whatever have had their lives destroyed.  I always ride like anything with 4 wheels is out to kill me, and thus far that has kept me safe… still, its only a matter of time before your ticket gets punched… if you’re lucky, you walk away, if not…  Damn.

Managed to make it home around 10pm last night, 14 hours.  Looking back, I’m glad I took the trip.  I wish I could have stayed longer (seriously considering driving back… lol), but as far as long trips on a motorcycle go – I don’t think I’ll ever take another on this bike again.  That accident last night really shook me, moreso than the dehydration, soreness, and wear and tear on my mental faculties the 1200 mile round trip took on me.  Perhaps some day I will get a bike designed more for long trips, until then I’ll stick to cruising locally and commuting.  Seeing the world on two wheels is entirely different.  The sights, smells, sensations… After awhile I got the sensation that I was flying over the road…no longer a passenger, but part of my bike.  Next time, I’m driving!