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October 9, 2008

Using your gears

Filed under: Cycling — Tags: — joel.cass @ 8:36 am

Since the warmer weather came to Sydney and the days become progressively longer, there has been an influx of pedestrians and cyclists on the streets, making my once quiet ride to the city a rather busy one. For the most part this is ok, except for the occasional braindead pedestrian that freaks out when they hear my bell or the occasional ‘competitive cyclist’ trying to make me feel insecure, it’s mainly good.

But if it’s one thing I cannot stand, it’s the cyclists who don’t know how to use the gears on their bike – and this mainly goes for the road cyclist types, and the occasional noob. In my mind, if you don’t use them, lose them. Go single speed, or whatever, then you have an excuse for lifting off the seat, tearing all your leg muscles and risking an accident.

The ironic part is that it doesn’t make you go faster – the optimum pedaling speed is around 90rpm1 – which is not possible to do at length going uphill in a high gear. Often I can just go straight past these people that don’t gear down without blinking

Today a stupid cyclist tried taking off in high-high and almost stacked it right in front of me as we were crossing a reasonable busy road. I told him to use his gears – he muttered something back at me when we next passed – probably that he didn’t need them. Eh, tell me that while you’re getting knee surgery after being hit by a car because your chain snapped at the next intersection…

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.

August 26, 2008

Unwired

Filed under: Technology — Tags: — joel.cass @ 7:09 am

It was six months ago that I got fed up with the lousy unwired coverage I had on my area and settled for an ADSL connection.

When I rang to cancel my account I was informed that the $30 or so owing to me could not be refunded. This was ok so I cancelled. A few days later I got a call from some guy at unwired saying that they did not want me to go so they offered me six months of free email.

THIS IS A SCAM. IF YOUR ISP OFFERS THIS TO YOU DONT TAKE IT.

Why? Well, 6 months later MY ORIGINAL PLAN THAT I NO LONGER USE was reinstated and my bank account was charged. I rang to attest this, and was informed that my money would not be refunded as I should have been aware that this would happen.

To me, this is a scam and is not ethical nor good customer service.

Only the rich can afford to fly?

Filed under: Musings — Tags: — joel.cass @ 6:50 am

It’s a bit strange to think that I am in the category of people that furnish their lives with expensive consumer goods and status symbols, but it may seem to be that way, at least according to the people that publish virgin blue’s inflight magazine.

Today I am travelling on a flight to Melbourne, in economy, using tickets I did not pay for. The people around me are a mixed bunch, including concrete faced suits to scruffy road worker types and all in between.

I don’t actually see any fashionista types smocked in the latest designer jewellery or clothing. So I wonder, why are they trying to sell this crap to us?

Perhaps they did the research and found that people who pick up and read the inflight magazine are pretentious, insecure and image conscious. Perhaps virgin want to be seen as being this way – but wait, aren’t they a budget airline?

Not only does the magazine feature overpriced crap on each page, but it also features articles that confirm that it is ok to be into overpriced crap.

I could understand the latest in luggage fashion or perhaps the latest noise canceling earphones being advertised in the magazine, but designer jewellery that costs the same as 10 return trips to Melbourne? No, I don’t understand that…

August 18, 2008

Is ColdFusion Dead?

Filed under: ColdFusion, Web Development — Tags: — joel.cass @ 7:32 am

I have been a long term developer and supporter of the ColdFusion cause. I have been developing in the language for more than 10 years and have come to appreciate it as a convenient and reliable way to build web applications.

What is ColdFusion, may you ask? Well it is an application server language. In it’s day, people paid for this kind of thing, but these days application server languages are mainly free and/or cheap to install. However, Cold Fusion is not free, and it’s not that cheap. Anyway, that is beside the point.

The thing is, ColdFusion has not changed much in the last 5 years, well not in my mind, at least. When ColdFusion MX came out in 2004 it was groundbreaking, extraordinary. The whole thing was re-written in Java. While it was not as fast as it’s predecessors it became reliable, and so many new things were added on – component support, web services, native Java support – it was such a breakthrough that it made any later release seem like a bugfix more than anything else.

And in my mind that is exactly what CF7 was – a better working version of ColdFusion MX. Sure, it had some fluffy cfdocument tags thrown in and some minor syntax improvements but nothing revolutionary. CF8 introduced .net support and image manipulation, as well as better performance, but let’s face it, most people were using .net via web services (which is more standardised albeit less efficient) and using tools like CFC_Image to manipulate images. Furthermore, developers had started to adapt their practices to match the performance limitations of CF7, which, involved implementation of best practices anyway. So, CF8 wasn’t of any big help, to me at least.

It leads me to consider that Adobe has effectively “shelved” ColdFusion – some people are baffled by this concept but let me explain. Consider that Adobe sells 1000 copies of ColdFusion every year – lets face it that even this figure is ambitious considering that most people don’t need to buy a copy of CF every year and that many new projects are looking to start in Java or .net these days. Anyway, 1000 copies equals around 4 million dollars, given that all copies are the enterprise version.

However, Adobe would only receive half of this due to retail markup and distribution costs. Out of this comes marketing, admin, and support costs, which might leave around a million dollars for Adobe to play with. Consider that the average developer costs 100K per year and say that they have 5 or 6. Then there might be a manager or two, or even a tech lead who gets a little more – after all this Adobe might get a little profit – then there’s taxes… Which leads me on.

Adobe ask for around 25K for an enterprise license of LiveCycle, which, like ColdFusion is a Java based app that generates business documents (no, really) – Yet they can only ask around 4K for a ColdFusion license – why would this be so if Adobe hadn’t realised that about 4K is all they are going to get before they start scaring developers off? So it leaves them between a rock and a hard place.

Given that ColdFusion is pretty well established as an app server, in that it is relatively bug free and reasonably reliable – do they even need to continue development, or just shelve it and use it to push their *other* front end products? I would be leaning toward the second option.

Which leads me to the next point. In my mind, ColdFusion is “old hat” – while it was excellent in the 90’s and pretty good for the first half of this century, it’s becoming out-competed by the likes of .net and Java – not due to ease of development nor performance, but simply because more people out there know Java and .net – these languages are taught widely and are more trusted, simply due to the reputation of their respective vendors.

As said earlier, Adobe are between a rock and a hard place – and this is supply and demand in action – if they made it cheaper, more people would use it. However, then they would need to increase support and invest in their reputation as an application services vendor and for that they would need money, hence they would need to increase prices and effectively kill demand.