It’s-a Me, Blorphlax

I made-a the pizza-pie!

Apart from making good sauce, I found that the trick to it was laminating the bejesus out of the dough — roll it out, cover in butter, roll it up. This is alluded to in the work “Roll it up, light it up” by noted chefs Cypress Hill. Likewise, you have to follow their topping advice carefully, and break off sausage in the right proportion.

One time a reputable lady grated mozzarella right into my mouth.

Anyway, pizza is pretty good, so I suggest that if you want some, you should eat a pizza. Pizza was unknown to the Maratha empire, but a lot of their records still refer to “the Noid” and “Caesar of the Small Temple” and “the raging, cheese-fueled obesity of the North Korean potentate”. So listen to Peshwa Madhav Rao II and eat a goddam pizza. You don’t even have to make one — people will even bring them to you. Good people, people you can trust. Laminate your dough.

Fietsklik is Pretty Neat

I commute by bike to work, and I was looking into a better way to carry my garbage back and forth. Better, even, than bungee-cording my bag to the back. My old bike had an old soda crate on it, which worked okay, but my more recent bike has a big-ass 8 lb. chain lock and is Dutch, so I was in search of a Dutchier way to carry things. The Fietsklik is one such thing, but I couldn’t really find any review of it, at least in English, although it was a Kickstarter about 18 months ago (most of the English-language Fietsklik things are coverage of the Kickstarter). So, this is that. For reference, my commute to work is 3.3 miles each way on a very bumpy dedicated bike path. Between the bumps and the fact that I do it whether it’s raining or 110 °F, I wanted something that was both well thought-out and tough.

The basic system is a base-thing that attaches over your bike rack. The base is smooth plastic, making the rack a nicer place for a passenger. On either side of the base are clips that a bag can attach to using a mechanism built into each bag (Fietsklik offer three styles of bag). Each bag can lock on or quick-release. There’s also a crate that slides and locks on to the top. Pretty simple. Topeak makes a bag-and-crate system, but it is less suave. I didn’t buy a Fietsklik for a long time because their US shipping was something like 100 Euros, and I was too lazy to ask my mom in Wales to forward one. It’s currently 25 Euros to ship everything, though, making the total for a base, box, and bag 120 Euros with their current sale. I didn’t measure my bike’s rack because it’s a Gazelle and if a Dutch bike accessory didn’t fit a Gazelle I figured I might as well just jump into a volcano, but their website has size guidelines.

Here’s the base pre-installation.

Installation is very easy. It attaches with U-bolts, then you put a plastic cover over the business. You should get an 8mm nut driver, but everything else is included. The nuts are nyloc, but I figured a little Loctite couldn’t hurt. My crate needed a little assembly. The instructions were poorly-Xeroxed in the finest tradition, but they’re not really necessary.

The big problem for me was the bag attachment mechanism. Here’s a picture of the business:

The straps to either side release the bag from the base. The locking mechanism is inside the bag.

The issue is those truss-head rivets. They’re pathetic. I put my big chain lock, a roll of pens, and a Nintendo 3DS in the bag, attached it to the bike, and two miles later the bag broke free from the attachment mechanism because the rivets fell apart. This was pretty annoying, as the bag itself is quite well-made. Fortunately, nothing was permanently damaged. My solution was to imbue the Fietsklik with some overkill. Here’s the inside of the bag half-way through the process:

A dollar or so of hardware sorted everything out. I replaced all four rivets with bolts, washers, and nyloc nuts. Now my Fietsklik bag accepts no guff from interlopers.

That’s basically it. It’s a pretty well-designed system. It’d be nice if they sold the attachment mechanisms separately so you could hack together your own bags or whatever — I’d like to hang my chain lock right from the side, for example, rather than putting it in a bag. It’d also be nice to have the option for a slightly smaller, stronger (maybe non-folding) box that has a shopping basket-style handle.

The Fietsklik bits are all pretty good save for the issues above. I’d buy it again. 7 out of 10 Queen Beatrixes.

Update, a few months later: All the Fietsklik stuff is holding up pretty well. The only thing I’ve been noticing is that the plastic cover to the base bit scratches up really easily when exposed directly to my big chain lock. I have also been noticing that the bag is fucking huge, but I guess that’s alright.

Update, a year later (Feb. 2017): I stopped using the Urban Explorer bag because the retractable latches stopped retracting. I pulled the latching mechanism apart and it seems like the retaining clips inside are a bit vulnerable, as one had broken. The sliding portion of the latch falls out of place, and no longer works.

To replace it, I got the Urban Office bag. It’s a little smaller. My problem with the old bag was those pathetic truss-head rivets, but I thought that was maybe due to my huge chain lock. I now have an Abus Bordo folding lock that rides on the seat tube, so that cut a lot of weight from the bag. I thought it would be okay with the truss-head rivets — to work, I now carry a 12.9″ iPad Pro (1.5 lbs), a roll of fountain pens (almost nothing… 50 g?), and some headphones. Unfortunately, it lasted for about a week before the upper rivets pulled out and had to be replaced with more bolts, washers, and ny-loc nuts, as with the older bag.

I gave them a pass with the last bag since my old chain lock was massive, but the new bag has never even had a kilogram in it — for the latch mechanism to be falling off of the bag after a week of regular use is pathetic. Proper hardware is cheap (I paid less than 1 USD to sort the bag out, and I wasn’t even buying in bulk), and product failures due to improper hardware make for a bad look.

Hoxopleuratical Intermulationz

In this entry from a few years ago, I wrote about putting an SSD in an iBook from 2001. I got another iBook because I like them and they play Starcraft and if I didn’t who would, and I thought that it’d be fun to revisit that and see what a new IDE SSD did against that one from 2011.

Unfortunately, that was a short-lived plan. KingSpec (and others) do still make IDE SSDs, but almost all of them use the SM2236 controller, instead of the older SM2231, which seems to demand a couple more channels than the iBook knows what to do with. It can’t start up from a preformatted SM2236 drive, and it can’t install from a CD onto the drive either. Since clamshell iBooks are one of the trickier computers to do a drive swap on, I found this realization very amusing (although, truth be told, it’s not a terrible job at about 40-50 minutes; it’s just a fuss).

So that was out. But then I figured, in that last article I made reference to my CompactFlash-bedrivulated iBook — what if I revisited that? I made that thing in 2008 or so, surely CF has gotten faster. I also sold it in 2011 without having benchmarked it, lending an air of pointlessness to this whole thing, which was perfect.

So, I got a neat Syba IDE-CF bridge in 2.5″ drive format. Pretty nice; it has two CF slots. I used a Lexar 16 GB 800x card, since I had a spare one; presumably a 64 GB 1066x card would be faster. I also added a 512 MB stick of RAM and a new “CWK” battery to the iBook — which must be made using decade-old NewerTech tooling or something, but it works shockingly well.

Installation was the usual pain in the ass. Installation was the usual pain in the ass.


I also lost my Air’s disc burner and had to resort to, err, backup measures. I didn’t realize this iMac only had 10.1 on it, but it burned the Panther CDs fine, so that’s alright.

Anyway, long story short, it works great. On the left, here is the SM2231 KingSpec SSD in the other iBook. On the right, that iBook’s original Travelstar HDD.


Now, here’s the iBook with 800x 16 GB CompactFlash: 

A nice improvement! Slower small random writes than the KingSpec, but everything else is a decent little bit faster. Again, I think you could address that by going with a faster CF card if you were so inclined. The CF and CF-IDE bridge is also slightly cheaper than the 16 GB KingSpec was (in 2011) and the 16 GB KingSpec (with SM2236 controller) is now. The computer is fast for a 2000 laptop, silent, and gets pretty good battery life even by modern standards. The only downside is that the first-generation AirPort cannot use WPA2.

Obviously it’s sort of pointless. When I was little, the three computers I really wanted in 2000 were the Indigo/Key Lime iBook and the Cube, as well as the “Lamp” G4 iMac when it first came out in 2001. I couldn’t afford any of them at the time (although I eventually did have a 1.25 GHz 20″ iMac G4, bought slightly used in 2004, which lasted me until the Intel switch), and made do with a PM7100/80 upgraded to G3. But I guess buying now-useless things you couldn’t afford when you were small is part of being a grown-up or whatever. I have the iMac and a couple iBooks, and I had a Cube upgraded to a 1.33 G4 in 2007-2008, but sold it. That was real dumb since Cubes cost insane monies now. Ah, well. The point is, I don’t really use any of them and it’s pointless. But if you like pointless old nonsense, I guess I recommend shoving CF cards all up ins it. Sometimes you just gots to have a Starcraft 1 LAN party.

Norplex Vanadiated Cookie Injection Int’l

This has to be the laziest thing I’ve ever done. I was sick of my ugly garage door opener sticking to the visor where it would pop off and hit me in the eyebrow every six minutes. However, when you take the case off the battery pops out. So I soldered wires to the internal switch, put the case back on, and VHB’d it under my dashboard with with a switch dangling out.

The Cromp

I wanted to do this for a while — Game Boy shelf. It’s just an Ikea Nornas with a little middle-thing I made out of scrap wood, but it’s nice to have all that stuff in one place. Top row, we’s gots R. Monkeys’ first Game Boy, R. Monkeys’ Color, the Color I modified with an Advance speaker and frontlight, my first Game Boy. Middle row, my modified Advance (AGS101 backlit screen), the Advance SP I put together for R. Monkeys to match her 3DS, and my Anniversary Micro. Bottom row, 3DS XLs. I’ll probably paint the Nornas white to match the rest of our shelves when I have more time.

I did have time to set up the important stuff, though:

Hoxho’s Amalgamated Kneebone Headlight Polishes

It’s pretty nice to have an actual place to do garagey work — for the first time in ten-or-so years, at least. I still need to bring my bins of metric bolts from my padre’s house, my Dremel stuff and drill chargers/car parts/etc. are still trapped on the other side of the garage until I can afford proper shelving, and I’ll be adding a Hakko soldering station and a scroll saw I’ve had my eye on pretty soon… but eyy, it’s a start.

Edit, two weeks later: Ah, there we go:

Wavelength Attenuation the Awful Way

The Element has kind of a weird gauge cluster backlight color. Greeney-bluey white. I thought I’d see about making the gauges and dials light up red instead, because I don’t have any real problems to focus on. Fortunately, it was a success despite being conceptually bankrupt.

The gauge cluster comes out in about 30 seconds, which isn’t an exaggeration. A little prying, one screw, a little more prying, and four screws. That was nice. The last time I was inside a gauge cluster it was to fix my Mercedes’ odometer; you had to screw around under the dash for a while, and that thing had a damn oil line going right to the gauge (features like that are why I think of the W123 as the last, best car of the 1960s). Anyway, for the Element cluster you can just use #74 bulbs, incandescent or LED, in the color of yer choice. I tried some LEDs, but I went back to incandescent because the light was a little more even.

Getting into the center console is real easy, too, and once it’s off you can throw another #74 bulb in the shifter. And getting into the HVAC dials and radio is super-easy, too — Philips screws and a little prying. But then the conceptually bankrupt part on my end was that things inside ’em are a little wacky. The HVAC dials use crazy tall bulbs, and the radio uses tiny little weirdo bulbs, so replacing them sounded like a real pain in the ass.

The HVAC knobs and buttons are pretty easy, though, because they used colored filters, which you can replace with Rubylith pretty easily. Obviously it’s best not to replace the dual-color temperature dial filter, although in a poignant critique of my mental acuity these days I didn’t actually think of that until I had already pulled the thingy off.

The radio’s the real dumb part. It uses little those blue guys that go over the bulbs, so I pulled all those off and just covered the light spreader with Rubylith. This was basically an interminable exercise in cutting shapes. In the picture I’m, like, 15% done. It was a real nightmare if you have big dumbass hands like me. I found out that I lost my Exacto knife, so I used woodcarving tools, which probably didn’t help much.

Kind of a pain, but I’m pretty happy with the results (although they’re somewhat obscured by blurrycam). A lot nicer at night. There’s a lot of really long unlit roads to the west of me, so it’s nice to have the red gauges way down low.