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September 26, 2008

Extending iPhone battery life

Filed under: Technology — joel.cass @ 8:35 am

I must admit that I was pretty disappointed with the battery life on the iPhone (3g). I was struggling to get more than 2 days out of it. Furthermore, it would always go flat at the worst time – when you are actually using it.

It reminds me of my first (and only) iPod, which frequently and unpredictably went flat without warning and still wouldn’t hold a charge after being on the charger overnight.

Thankfully, apple has seemed to get past the battery issues – the iPhone battery takes around 1-2 hours to charge and seems a little more consistent in usage time. So the real problem is the phone and how it uses the battery.

From the word go it has the following features enabled:
- gps
- bluetooth
- 3g
- wifi

All of these features chew up the battery something chronic. If you don’t use them, turn them off.

Furthermore, if you have outlook accounts set up, your iPhone will continually receive updates every time anything changes (which for most people is rather often) – this also chews up the battery. To disable this, go to settings, check new data = off.

With 3g, gps, bluetooth, wifi and checking of new data turned off, I now get about 5-6 days of standby time. And of course you can turn all that stuff back on when you need it.

September 24, 2008

Driver / Cyclist education

Filed under: Cycling — Tags: — joel.cass @ 9:57 am

This is a comment I made against an ignorant journalist’s article regarding the conflict between drivers/cyclists on our roads.

I ride almost 20km to and from work every day (meadowbank-sydney). I see a lot. I have almost been run over on two occasions in the last two weeks – both in the same area, near birkenhead point. A lot of “rat runners” drive through here to avoid the congestion on Victoria road. I always used the alotted cycleway to the left of the road.

On both occasions, drivers have unpredictably driven into the cycleway (where I ride) to avoid speed bumps. The first time I had to slam on the brakes so hard that the rear wheel lifted (and I was going uphill at that). The second time I was going downhill and saw it coming so avoided it by slowing down so I was behind the car when they did so.

Even so, motorists should be aware that it is *by law* that they should never use emergency lanes, cycle lanes, bus lanes, footpaths etc to avoid speedbumps. They should also be aware that *by law* they need to give way to other vehicles on the road (including cyclists).

On the same note, cyclists should be aware that they need to give way to motor vehicles as if they were driving a motor vehicle. Cyclists should also be aware that they need to give way to pedestrians.

In my mind, there should also be permanent cycleways on main roads – I am talking about Victoria Road in particular. I often use the footpath when following this road as I have had too many close calls from ignorant drivers who speed past. In my mind there should be bus lanes following the entire stretch of this road from Parramatta to the city as it would make the ride for cyclists all the more safer.

In reply to some of the comments made by others, cyclists are regarded as road-worthy vehicles by the RTA. They are only regarded as pedestrians when they dismount the bike. Team cyclists are annoying, agreed, but just be patient. Any abuse or misconduct towards them would effectively be breaking the law so get used to it.

September 10, 2008

The meaning of birthdays

Filed under: Musings — Tags: — joel.cass @ 2:05 pm

This was written a few days after my last birthday…

I must admit that my last couple of birthdays have been slightly depressing – it gets me thinking, what is the importance of a birthday? After all, time is just a convention – a year is a human invention, a day or a month would be almost meaningless if they were not a part of almost any planned human interaction.

But I wonder, what is a birthday exactly? All social contexts aside, a birthday celebrates the position of the earth in it’s orbit around the sun, in a way that, the earth is in the same point in it’s orbital cycle as the day you were born. So theoretically the weather should be similar and the day would be of the same length.

So if you are struggling to think of a reason to celebrate your birthday, don’t celebrate, unless you are a pagan who worships the sun, because the day itself is pretty much meaningless.

How old am I? 27 revolutions of the earth around the sun, thank you very much.

September 9, 2008

Look mummy, I just cooked a gremlin!

Filed under: Random — joel.cass @ 4:10 pm

This is the inside of our microwave @ work, so dirty it’s almost a work of art…

September 5, 2008

Magpie evasion strategy part 1: The cable tie helmet

Filed under: Cycling — joel.cass @ 8:30 am

Well it’s not 100% obvious to me why magpies freak me out so much. After all, the worst the could to is make a nasty cut – it’s not like they could kill me – cars, gravity, and cancer can all do that easily – but for some reason I don’t find any of those as scary as the magpie.

Anyway, to avert the possibility of me not being able to ride for the next 6-8 weeks, I did some research and found some useful tips:

1. Avoid the area of known agressive individuals (that one was obvious)
2. Put a flag on the back of your bike (sounds good in theory but it’s hard to find a flag and somewhat impractical to ride with)
3. Put cable ties on your helmet

When I saw option 3 I thought it was a little stupid, but after reading more about it, it actually made sense. For example, if you look around in public areas, you will most likely find spikes on top of lights, signs, and other objects which birds are likely to sit and crap on. And these spikes stop the birds! Alright!

Anyway, I went to jaycar and found a pack of 15 60cm cable ties for $5. Awesome. I fitted two at the to in a V pattern, two going out laterally from the side and one straight out the back for good measure. One problem though, they were far too long, stupid looking, and impratical to get through doorways, tunnels, trees, etc. So I shortened them:

At the top: 30cm
On the sides: 22cm (to match the width of the handlebars)
At the back: 30cm

So, while I did get some stupid looks on my first trip, I didn’t get hit by any maggies. Let’s see how it goes in the future…

September 1, 2008

Gah! Magpie Season!

Filed under: Cycling — joel.cass @ 2:24 pm

Ok, the first time I get to ride in almost 2 weeks and I get swooped. There is just one corner in my trip where it happened but it was enough to freak me out and make me wonder why the hell I ride to work anyway.

I knew what was going to happen as soon as I turned into that corner – there were a bunch of birds gathered on the ground underneath a tree. The minors start their usual squawks – yeah whatever, they never hurt – and then I hear it, the war-cry of the magpie, “ka-kaaaark, ka-kaaaark!”… oh shit.

This black and white apparition of satan himself followed me for about half a kilometre, snapping his beak and squawking away. I wave my left arm over my head and it stops. “He’s gone”, I think to myself… and then, “KA-THUD”, the little bastard had gone for my helmet. I start pedaling faster, faster until I am out of gears. The bird leaves me alone and there I am sailing down the road at 55kmh (which is fast for my bike).

I have a bit of a browse around and see that bike flags are a good deterrent, and are recommended by councils throughout Australia. Although somewhat nerdy they sound like a great idea as they can either become a distraction or a hindrance to the magpie. Though I still have my doubts.

It seems that bike shops don’t sell them (ironically) though I have heard around the traps that you can get them at K-mart. I’d be interested to know if they work.