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20 August 2016

Time for a new phone

It's been some years

It was January 2009 when I got a new work phone from my then employer. It was the brand spanking new Nokia e71 smartphone. It did it all and it proved to be a longtime companion. I've used - and loved - that phone ever since. I'm on my 3rd battery. Lately though, more and more things stopped working. The VoIP client and the VPN didn't hold up with the software cycles in their fields. Lately the email-client stopped working too. Those are software problems, there might even be solutions. More and more keys stopped working or fell out. And then the USB connector started to break.

In the end I bit the bullet and decided on a new phone. Given the current selection of phones, this is like "choosing the least sucky of all those sucky phones out there". There's nothing with a physical keyboard. The phone ecosystem seems to think that as a customer, you're just an expendable that never really "owns" the hardware. The security problems are a nightmare. Providers don't bother to update software. Everybody thinks that it's ok if a phone breaks apart and is broken if it ever falls down (typical e71-owners wouldn't even check the phone for damage when it fell down).

So I got myself a "Samsung Galaxy XCover 3 VE" (instead of "VE" it might also be described as "(2016)". It came with Android 6.0.1, which means it will be up-to-date for a little while. I'm trying not to think about all the security holes that are already announced for that platform and duly ignored by providers and handset makers. It's a phone that is slightly waterproof (IP67 IIRC), dustproof, and "should" even survive a little bit of falling down. Only experience can tell on that side.

First impressions: It works. The cameras is better than the one from the e71, but not by a huge margin. Good enough for pics to put on the web when out cycling. Using it is ok. Response time in the UI are really ok. The screen resolution is not great, but good enough for the current state of my eyes (I wouldn't see more on an ultra high resolution screen). Battery time is not in the same league as the e71, but I guess good enough. I'm very stringent about shutting things like bluetooth down and dow't use much (same as on the old phone). The e71 clearly was a phone where "phone things" were much easier accessible.

There is this saying about war, that says it makes difficult things easy, and simple things complicated (or something like that). That's the impression I have about Android. Install a VoIP client? Easy peasy. Open the phone to make a simple phone call to someone in your address book? Takes about 10 steps more than on the Nokia. Put pictures from the camera straight into Strava using the client, childs play. Get your pictures from your phone to the computer that sits 30cm next to it? Ah well, you could do it this way but..., and you could do it that way, but... but in the end it was designed to just hand over your stuff to Google or some other "cloud" thing. Which I obviously don't do.

And there is an app for everything(TM). But that app is quite likely trying to display annoying ads or is crippled in some other way. On the Symbian platform there was none of the ad bullshit really, but there were the crippled apps too. The symbian app selection was smaller, that just meant that you had less "sifting through all the garbage" to do.

Verdict: For now, it will do. It won't last as long as the last one, and it makes some simple stuff complicated. The rest, time will tell.


Posted by betabug at 17:47 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
18 July 2016

//INRNG Supporter Jersey

A really nice jersey even in black
Black jersey in the shade of a hot day

For some time now I'm reading the //INRNG blog about pro cycling. One mark of how well done this blog is, is that from time to time people think it is a comercial cycling press website, and they demand more of this or more of that. Instead it's one man's hobby blog, with a bit of extra income by sponsors and... the sale of supporter jerseys, caps, and socks. So after my usual hesitating and back-and-forth, I decided to finally order a jersey and some caps. So here is what happened and how I like the jersey so far...


Continue reading "//INRNG Supporter Jersey"
Posted by betabug at 22:35 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
30 June 2016

Ride Slow to Get Fast?

No matter if it works, I like it
My shadow

There is this story in cycling that says that to get faster, you have to do some rides slower. The story goes that the main difference from amateur to pro cyclists training is that amateurs don't ride slow enough on their slow rides, and not hard enough on their hard rides. I'm not a trainer, and I can't give any scientific evidence on this. But I've tried it for a few weeks now. Here is what works for me now...


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Posted by betabug at 10:48 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
21 June 2016

The Heat is On

First heatwave of the year

The last few days have been excessively hot here. There is a small heatwave passing going over most of Greece right now, the peak was on Saturday and Sunday. Right now things are slowly improving. In our little mountain village on Naxos, it was the first time that we experienced the temperatures not cooling down significantly over night - the wind was stil hot. We're new here, so that might be no surprise, but the oldtimers tell us that it's not something that happens "normally".

The weather report says we had temperatures around 37°C, while in Athens the temperatures would have passed 40°C. I've lived through worse, but that doesn't make it less annoying.

It didn't keep me from riding my bike though. Over the last few weeks I've been working on my acclimatisation. I've been riding more and more in the heat, at the same time improving my hydration. Because when it's hot, you have to get used to it and you have to drink a lot of water. I used to take small sips of water every now and then. Now I switched to drink large gulps at once, as much as I can drink without getting out of breath. The rate of emptying my water bottles has increased a lot like that. On Saturday I drank one bottle (I think they're about 600ml) every 10km / 30min.

Sunday evening I the breeze wasn't that hot any more, yesterday evening it returned to being a cool breeze, even if it wasn't very strong. I hope it stays with us for the rest of the summer.


Posted by betabug at 08:39 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
09 May 2016

Two Training Blocks

So happy to have guests for this
Cycling in the early morning sun

The last few weeks my cycling-Fu finally took a few steps forwards. I've been going to the gym to fix my left/right leg imbalance, but I don't think that's so much the cause of the improvement (yet). What got me forward was doing two blocks of tough training, with riding much more than I used to do in the last months.

You see, first we had the sprint, where we had (amongst other friends) Borja here cycling with me for 10 days. With Borja I cycled 311km with 5500m of climbing, in 6 rides. One ride was a nice, round 100km Apollona round, always a good endurance builder. When that was done I relaxed a bit... and went back to the gym.

And not long after that, my friend George showed up. Now George, he's in a different category of endurance riding. He has completed his 2nd 400km brevet, and is now training to do the 600km brevet.

Even though he brought the family over, for some days of vacation around Greek Easter, we managed to put in 4 rides. Those 4 rides made me ride 254km in one week, climbing 4500m. That's about 50-60% more than I used to do in a typcial week in the months before this.

As for the results of those two "training blocks"? Of course I have only anecdotal evidence, but I seem to be as comfortable to ride 60km now as I was doing 40km before. Unless I've been to the gym, in that case I'm just a useless pair of sore, tired legs. Ah well.


Posted by betabug at 12:12 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
30 April 2016

Flower Power Sprint

Working and having fun on Naxos again
The official sprint tshirt artwork

The team I'm working with on one of my projects has this tradition of meeting roughly 2x per year and working all together for about a week. We call that a "sprint" (despite that some software process terminologies call something different "a sprint", we're not bothered). The last one was last November in Galicia, Spain. This time we were on Naxos again (for the 3rd time now, April 6-16).

Our program consisted of 3 days of intensive work, then 1 day off, then another 3 days of "sprinting", followed by 2 days for "social stuff". We were quite productive on the work days, which resulted in us enjoying the "social" days together even more. We also had lunch and dinner together mostly, which resultet in way too much food being eaten. In early April, not all naxian restaurants are open, but there is still a good selection.

Borja and me spent much of the "social" time out on a bike. We explored many of the less cycled roads of Naxos together, and the number of climbs was almost dwarfed by the number of sheep and goats we met out on the road. We also met The Pig (which is another story for this weblog, but since The Pig has a no-photo shield around it, maybe better for another time). In the process, Borja managed to pass the magical "100km in one ride" mark, of which he has written a nice ride report. Oscar and Panos went looking for sheep and goats on a couple of motorbikes, but they missed The Pig.

One perfect fit is that we got a new team member from Naxos, joining the team just a few days before the sprint. This fit perfectly, as he could meet all the team members, and also get a working start on the code base.

Oscar has another sprint report online, with tons of picture.


Posted by betabug at 21:31 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
31 March 2016

Back from Paris

... and at home since a while

So, I came back from Paris. I had a very nice and successful week there. Apart from the business stuff, I also did a tiny bit of tourism. Not too much, since walking around currently isn't really my strong point. On the last day I noticed that I had started to limp. Ah, never ending story with that leg, it seems.

After the "vacation", I needed a few days of rest though. The main reason was that I spent an overnight at the Athens airport. My plane from Paris arrived at 23:40, my plane to Naxos left at 7:15. The airport hotel is ridiculously expensive. So I just whiled away the hours. There are some places where you can try to get some sleep, but since I was alone, I didn't fall asleep at all. I re-watched an old movie ("A Sunday in Hell"), then read up a bit on the Intarwebz, since during the days in Paris, I was mostly enjoying offline time. The first 3-4 hours passed quite fast, then somehow the clock seemed to slow down.

The worst was clearly over when I met some friends while waiting for boarding on the little plane to Naxos. The flight passed really quick. I had a nice window seat again, but this time I forgot to take the camera out of my cabin bag, so no propeller pics.


Posted by betabug at 21:48 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
20 March 2016

Paris-Brest (the sweet version)

Cycling and baking united
Paris-Brest (the sweet version)

Paris-Brest-Paris is one of the toughest cycling events that a mere mortal can attend. It involves cycling 1200km in 90 hours and is a strictly amateur event. Before it was this "randonneuring" event, many years ago, it used to be a professional race. At some point, someone (I forgot who) created a sweet called "Paris-Brest" in its honor. I knew that much.

This Saturday, while shopping with my host here, I was standing outside the bakery... when I noticed the sweet in real. It's something different to read about this, and then to see it in person. I probably should have gone in and tried one, but at the time the bakery was so full that there was a line outside the door - that's why I was waiting outside.

In any case, I should have gotten one for my friend tralala, who on the same Saturday rode a 400km Brevet (congrats, man!). One the one hand, he could use the calories after that monster of a ride, on the other, in a few years he might be riding PBP itself and then it would be a good preparation.

UPDATE: The sweet things in the pics aren't actually "Paris-Brest", but chocolate Eclairs. Seems that the bakery had misplaced the label. I got a real Paris-Brest a few days later, and saw another one in a restaurant, and they didn't look like this at all. OTOH they were true calorie-bombs.


Posted by betabug at 18:35 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
18 March 2016

Going to Paris

Just jump over
Leaving Naxos

So there I was, climbing into the little plane (Dash 8) on the little airport on Naxos. Heading for Athens... and then on to Paris. The airport in Naxos is really kind of a family affair. Also you see that road in the picture? It has the only traffic lights on the island. They turn red when a plane is starting or landing.


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Posted by betabug at 21:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
28 February 2016

Attention, Dangerous Curve Ahead

You're in a maze of twisty little curves
Warning: Dangerous Curve Ahead, Behind You, and ever on!

You're in a maze of twisty little island roads, winding and curving through the mountaineous island landscape for kilometers and kilometers. There's a curve to the left, one to the right, to the left, and so on forever. But then, you arrive at one curve that is special: It has a warning sign in front of it.

All the other curves before or after don't have a fancy warning sign. This one has. I've been wondering for a while now, what's so special about the 1-in-a-100 (just guessing, I don't keep stats) curve that gets a sign. I very much doubt that someone checked it and deemed it more dangerous than others - I know some scary curves on this island, and they don't have signs. The one in the picture is even easy to see ahead.

Also I doubt that it's the curves where accidents had once happened. Not that I know that, but I don't think it makes sense. My current theory is that there was a budget for warnings signs, x number of signs for y square kilometers. So basically someone loaded a bunch of signs on a truck and started planting them here and there.

What seems to be put to much better use are warning arrows on the side of the road. They too aren't everywhere, but when they are there, usually there is a good reason.


Posted by betabug at 21:24 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)

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