Categories: all aviation Building a Biplane bicycle gadgets misc motorcycle theater

Sat, 04 Nov 2006

The new light

My new bicycle headlight arrived yesterday. I excitedly tore open the packaging, although there was trepidation there as well -- the package made an ominous rattling noise as I'd picked it up, suggesting the pieces inside weren't very well secured.

Indeed, the box, once opened, revealed a confused jumble of pieces sitting apprarently at random among the cardboard cutouts intended to hold things in place. Fortunately, nothing appeared to be broken, and I was able to plug the light into its battery and play a little bit.

Before I got to the point of plugging everything in, I examined the retail box, which listed a bunch of information about the light. In particular, it listed the available modes for the three different models of light (CygoLite Dualcross LiIon, 300, 200). As I'd understood it, the different models differed only in battery and charger options. The LiIon model used the smaller, lighter (but more expensive) LiIon technology. The 300 featured a smart charger and larger, heavier NiMH battery. The 200 model featured an overnight (aka, "dumb") charger and the NiMH battery. Other than that, as I understood it, all three lights were the same.

Imagine my surprise and dismay when I saw spelled out on the box that, in fact, they were not the same. In fact, according to the box, the 300 and LiIon shared the same feature set (aside from the battery, of course), but the 200 offered an inferior feature set -- specifically, no flashing modes. Of course, I'd gotten the 200 as being cheapest, since I already own several smart chargers; paying for yet another one seemed silly.

Now, I wasn't married to the flashing modes, and hadn't necessarily intended to use them, but it would have been nice, particularly during the day, when a brighter flasher up front would have helped. Indeed, the little comparison chart showed that the 200 model lacked the four "special" modes (fast flash, slow flash, walking (aka "very dim") and SOS flash). I could care less about SOS, but the slow flash and walking light sounded quite useful.

I loaded up the Cygolite website, and examined the comparison chart. I could have sworn that it showed the features being identically but for battery and charger.. Ah, yes, there it was. The feature chart shown on the website and that on the product box were different. I was gearing myself up to write a very unhappy letter.

Before unleashing any electronic vitriol, however, I tried powering on the light, as I alluded to earlier. I was pleased to find that the light behaved as I expected, entering the flashing modes just as the 300 model had last week at REI. Oh good!

So, I got the battery charged (I was interested to see that it was mostly charged as I got it -- had I charged it the recommended 9-10 hours, it would have overheated), and I'm ready to go.

Of course, I spent the entire day writing and not riding my bicycle through the pouring rain, so I don't have any kind of real-world report yet.

Posted at 21:13 permanent link category: /bicycle

Many words

It feels odd to be writing on a modern laptop. I'm doing all my novel writing on a Tandy Model 102, built in 1988 or so.

So far, by the only measure that matters (ie, word count), I'm doing really well. I would hardly call it a fabulous novel, but it's moving right along. When that website updates tonight at midnight, my number will increase by at least 4979, which is my current wordcount for the day, and the day is only about half over. I may write yet more.

The Model 102 lends itself to this particular endeavor for a number of important reasons. First of all, it runs for around 20 hours on a set of AA batteries. Then there's the fact that it's so old, it has absolutely zero internet access (although it does have a 300 baud modem). Even if it did have internet access, there's very little I could do.

This all means "no distractions." No flipping back to a web browser every few minutes, to "just check on something." Google has got to be one of the biggest time-wasters in the universe. It's a good time-waster, and very useful, but very distracting when trying to concentrate on something else.

For another thing, the laptop is so old that the term "slow" is kind of a misnomer. The screen updates at 600 baud (there's literally a serial connection between the screen controller and the main computer). I can type faster than it will display, particularly when it has to laboriously delete a word and redraw it when the word gets long enough to wrap to the next line. Editing in the middle of text is painful, since each changed character necessitates that all following lines be redrawn. This strongly encourages one to just leave well enough alone.

Anyway, it's a gambit which is paying off pretty well. I had no idea I'd write so much so quickly. Of course, now that I've set such a high bar for myself, I can't let it slide. Fortunately, it doesn't seem like it'll be a problem, but we'll see what weeks two and three bring.

Posted at 15:00 permanent link category: /misc

Categories: all aviation Building a Biplane bicycle gadgets misc motorcycle theater