Daily dump

Assorted mind junk

Some good stuff:

First: John Battelle pointed to O’Reilly’s Make, a new quarterly magazine for the DIY crowd that likes to do things like aerial photography with kites, replace Ipod batteries, and build desktop Gauss rifles. At the sample table of contents I found a series of links to nice stuff like:

Gmail hacks
, a collection of add-ons and plug-ins which make Gmail even better to use. My new favorite gets ride of the annoying systray notifier and puts an icon into the menu of Firefox which shows how many unread messages are waiting in the account.
Gmail notifier

My second link o’ the day is courtesy of Jerry Michalski, who, in a discussion of Wikipedia, linked to a very cool “screencast” demo of how a Wikipedia entry evolved. It was built using Camtasia by Jon Udell at Infoworld. Definitely something I want to check out myself. Camtasia was developed by Techsmith, the same people who developed my favorite screen scraper — SnagIt — and is available for a free trial download. Otherwise it costs $300.

Finally, this winter’s personal obsession has been fixed-gear bicycles. Bikes that have one gear and don’t coast. These are essentially track racing bikes — some don’t even have brakes — and are favored by urban bike messengers. They’re also great winter training tools for racers who use them to build length strength and smooth out their pedalling stroke. Basically you never, ever stop pedalling. Try to stop and it’s like being on a rolling ejector seat.

I built mine out of an old frame and some spare parts and a few new parts ordered from Harris Cyclery in Newton, Mass. The guru there is Sheldon Brown, the man of all things bicycling.

Anyway, fixed-gear is one of those subcultures within a subculture which appeals to my current zen bent towards minimalistic technology. No gears. No brakes. No fancy materials. I like things stripped down to their essence and fixed-gear bikes represent the ne plus ultra of human powered transportation in my opinion.

Here’s a link to a picture of my ride — “The Snotrocket” — at the wonderful Fixed Gear Gallery collection of bike porn.

Lucas Brunelle's NYC Drag Race
For a very cool video of a messenger race down 7th Ave. in Manhattan, check out Lucas Brunelle’s 50 mb flick. It is worth the download and receives my vote for best use of a Guns n’ Roses soundtrack.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write