Finally moving to clipless pedals

After years of resistance, I finally decided this week to move from platform to clipless bicycle pedals.

After doing some research on the web and asking some friends for opinions, I ended up picking up a Speedplay Zero System which I have mated with some Shimano SPD-SL shoes.

As an added bonus, it turns out my Lifecycle E3600-HRT can accommodate *real* pedals so I’ll be able to practice with the new system a fair amount where I *can’t* fall over before hitting the real world!

I elected to go for a road system (stiffer shoe and exposed cleat) rather than one that would be a bit more forgiving should I need to walk a lot by evaluating how often I’ve ever needed to walk when out for a ride over the past 15 years which has been seldom).

I also had some concerns for whether or not my knees would be happy with the potentially limited range of motion that a clipless system offers. The Speedplay system has tremendous float (0-15 degrees adjustable) and has the added advantage of allowing you to clip in to either side of the pedal.

I’ll be very interested to see if I garner an appreciable performance boost from this upgrade. The last real boost was when I upgraded from my trusty Bianca Alaska commuter bike (awesome for commuting to work on glass-strewn city streets) to an actual racing bike (Giant two TCR composite frame).

I’m not intending to do any racing – but I do want to go as fast as I can for the effort I’m putting out, it’s just so satisfying…

Posted under Sports

This post was written by Marc
on August 28, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Cancelled my DirecTV service

Hmmm…  Apparently the $99 I paid for my DVR back in 2005 wasn’t to actually *buy* the unit but rather is a lease price and they want it back. No doubt there were too many people who were continuing to watch all of their recorded content long after they had cancelled service and they needed a way to quell that.

Since mine is about as useful as a brick I have no objections to returning it. Looking at my bill I can see that I’ve had a $6 charge for a “leased receiver” (and a corresponding $6 credit) forever so I can’t really say they weren’t telling me that.

Who really pays attention to those line items anyway?

Now, what will life be like using Netflix, Hulu and other Internet resources for entertainment?  We’ll have to see. The adventure begins…

Posted under Retail Experiences

This post was written by Marc
on August 17, 2011 at 10:24 pm

The Magic Smoke Left my HR23-700 DVR today

I’m glad I was home when it happened. I was watching TV with my wife (Netflix – trying to figure out if we liked “Mad Men” or not) when we started smelling something electrical burning.

A quick survey of the house found that the smell was strongest in the TV room and then I noticed smoke coming out of the back of our entertainment unit.

I powered everything off immediately and hauled out the electronic pieces on that side of the unit which made the source of the problem either my Blu-Ray player and our DirecTV DVR.

Once we were sure what we were dealing with, I turned the power back on and then plugged both units back in. The Blu-Ray player seems fine but the DVR is now just a brick. Once that “Magic Smoke” is released, there’s no going back I’m afraid.

It’s just as well, we were trialing not using the DVR anyway (maybe it was miffed that it was being ignored?). I’m going to cancel our DirecTV tonight. This just forced my hand.

Just a warning to any other HR23-700 DirecTV DVR owners… I’m not sure what you can do to prevent this issue or what precipitated the failure of my unit but I won’t replace it. I’ll get a different brand should we go back to Satellite or Cable. I’ve never been particularly fond of the UI anyway – it’s always be slow and clunky compared to a TIVO.

Posted under On the Home Front

This post was written by Marc
on August 17, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Apple iTunes – AppleMovileDeviceService.exe – excessive CPU consumption

*Updated 2011.11.19*

I have posted a resolution to this issue here.

*End Update*

*Updated 2011.09.05*

I accepted the updater’s offer to upgrade iTunes to 10.4.1.10 and the problem recurred. This time I followed the protocol from this KB article from Apple ( http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1923 ) and quelled the issue again. Next time I’ll do more experimentation with stopping and restarting the Apple Mobile Device Service (AMDS) first to see if the issue is limited to the service itself…

*End Update*

*Updated 2011.08.22*

I ended up having to uninstall iTunes (and “Apple Mobile Device Support” and “Apple Application Support” and “Apple Software Update”) and reinstall iTunes (the rest came along for the reinstall ride) and the CPU issue went away.

*End Update*

I have Apple’s iTunes 10.4.0.80 for Windows installed on my Windows 7 – 64 bit machine.

I’m not exactly sure when it started but I’m pretty sure it’s with either the most recent iTunes update or the most recent Windows update (monthly patches).

My machine has variable speed fans to cool it based on CPU load so I’m sensitive to when the machine is doing something even modestly taxing. Lately the fans have been kicking up a notch regularly while I’m just reading email or some similarly low impact activity. So I see in my Process Explorer that the AppleMovileDeviceService.exe process is consistently chewing up almost exactly 12.5% of my CPU cycles all the time.

Has anybody else encountered this? Do you know of a fix?

Posted under Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on August 17, 2011 at 9:04 am