Pool!! πŸŠβ€β™€οΈ

With all the hot weather lately I decided to get a little pool to cool down in. Yesterday we set it up

Today was the inaugural swim….πŸ₯ΆπŸ₯ΆπŸ₯ΆπŸ₯ΆπŸ₯Ά

Weather is warm but clouds and some rain decided to πŸ’© on our parade 🀬

Hopefully tomorrow it will be a bit warmer 😁

A Failed Programming Project

Sometimes you have to recognize when something is going nowhere. I have dozens of programming projects where I’ve lost interest, but this is one of the first where I’ve actually hit a technical wall and have to walk away.

This started with my upgraded Powerbook G4. I wanted to play with the programming tools on there and build something. I settled on what I thought was an interesting challenge: a podcast player for classic Mac OS 9. I recognized some of the early hurdles: no native XML parsing in the toolchains back then (podcasts are driven by RSS feeds, which are XML) and no ability to connect to TLS 1.x encrypted web servers (HTTPS is how you access a lot of podcast RSS feeds). To work around this, I created a web service that proxied the calls. The web service is made with modern tools, no problem accessing the podcasts.

I even documented it.

By making a service that the primitive code technology could call, I could sidestep a lot of issues:

  • Connect to HTTPS and then expose the content as HTTP
  • Parse the XML and then expose it as a simple text format
  • Download and resize images

It was going pretty well, and I even had the app playing an episode of the Esri Canada Geographical Thinking podcast. But then I started trying to play episodes from other podcasts and they wouldn’t load into the QuickTime player component.

Showing successful loading of the podcast. Some UI is rough, apologies.

It turns out that the whole thing was a house of cards: the one part that I thought was in the bag was that the QuickTime library would be able to play MP3 files. But apparently even that technology has moved forward in 21 years. I started testing more podcasts and found that more failed than succeeded. I considered making the server-side code transcode the episodes but I couldn’t figure out the magic settings that would result in it working. Besides, transcoding podcasts is a losing proposition: very computationally expensive. If I put out this software with it transcoding every episode that users listened to, I would have a thousand-dollar cloud computing bill every month.

The only alternative would be to parse the MP3 files myself (it’s a well-known format), but that’s not the kind of project I signed up for. I’ll have to put this aside. I can take pride in what I made, even if the end has arrived. πŸͺ¦

Now to move on to something else.

First Gravel Ride

Tonight was my first time out with the club for a gravel ride. First off: what is gravel riding? It’s basically going and riding the unpaved roads. There are a lot of unpaved secondary roads in Alberta, so much so that if you want to see anything away from the highways, you’ll want knobby tires to do so. If you want to know more, this Bike Radar article will fill in the gaps.

The ride was a tough one by club standards, and for it to be my first ride was… challenging. I did okay. Wasn’t too brave on the downhill sections with loose gravel. I was plenty dusty by the time 50 km was up and we rolled back into the parking lot at the Golden Rod community hall.

The group. Chris Roy took the picture and Brett was beside him, so not visible. I’m 2nd from right

The sun was setting in the smoke by the time we were done. Tammy met me outside with the hose (at my request) to spray me down, because I was dirt from tip to toe.

Try again next week.

https://www.strava.com/activities/5709028482

Updated

Adding a picture of my bike after the ride to show how dirty it was.

For the record, the people in the photo are, from left to right: Luke, Dave, Warren, Liz, Dave, Justin, Peter, Mark, Todd, Ben, Christine, John, Simon and Richard.

Ian’s 14th Birthday

Today Ian turned 14! Wow! In a couple of years he will be learning how to drive. ❀️

He actually got up fairly early this morning – before 7.30. I guess the hubbub around the place got him out of bed (or maybe Murph kicked in the door and yelled at him again this morning).😼 Ian actually was worried about the timing of everything this morning. he wanted to make sure he got up in enough time (before our workouts and the start of work) to open presents.

Before his breakfast, he opened his cards and gifts (Miranda’s are by far the most impressive, I think) and then he and Miranda went to a local playground. At 10.30 Baba and Grandpa (Marson) called him and the 4 of them had a good chat over Skype. Grandpa (Biickert) and auntie Stephanie will be Face-Timing later this eve.

Supper was from the Pita Basket in Crowfoot. He had the chicken shawarma plate with a Mountain Dew. We got extra roasted potatoes for garlic sauce. Mmmm. After that we had his cake which was made and assembled over 2 days: a Black Forest Gateau with kirsch-soaked cherries. Miranda was a great assistant. Thank you. πŸ’œ

Happy Birthday Ian! I hope it was everything you had hoped for.

New Bike: Gravel Edition

My Norco Search XR S2 arrived at the shop yesterday, but I was too tired after the Road to Nepal club ride. I went down to the shop with Ian this afternoon and brought it home.

It’s a novel experience: 42mm wide tires and a steel frame. My first steel framed bike since my Kona Hahanna and first road-ish steel bike since I was a teenager. I think I’ll take it on the ice cream ride tonight. 🍦 It’s the last Monday of the month.

Updated

Here are some photos from the ride tonight.

As I thought: it was a novel experience. It’s heavier than my road bikes and the tires are harder to push. I worked reasonably hard tonight, but for the riders with me on road bikes, it was a chill ride. But this bike rolls over everything. I found myself not caring if there was gravel on the road or cracks in the pavement. And I found excuses to dart off onto dirt paths or just about anywhere I wanted to go.

The other ride ambassadors have dubbed the bike “Blue Steel” already.

New Xbox

Just a little entry: after watching the market for months, we managed to get a new Xbox Series S. It arrived yesterday. We’ve had an Xbox One S since September 2017 and it’s gotten a lot of use, primarily Minecraft but a lot of Halo and other games, too. The drivers were:

  • With the updates to Minecraft, the frame rate on the game has gotten choppy at times, especially with two or three people playing. Four people (i.e. the family) has been unplayable for over a year. The new one is powerful enough to be glassy smooth with four (we tested that last night).
  • Ian’s really interested in playing Microsoft Flight Simulator and it wouldn’t run on the old one.

Then there’s me, playing the original Halo from 2001 on my 2021 console.

More Bloodletting

There was a lot of bloodshed today: Tammy, Miranda and I all donated.

All with our bandages on

As you can tell from my sticker, it was my first time ever. Better late than never, amirite? Miranda went into full badger mode after her first time, goading us into making an appointment. 😜 I chose the path of least resistance.

It was down at the Shriner’s Centre by the river. It wasn’t too busy and it didn’t take too long. Maria was the woman who drew my blood. I didn’t have any dizziness or anything so I guess it all went well. Wasn’t too bad.

Afterwards, we went into Bowness to pick up some pizza at Red Swan’s and I picked up my bike. Bow Cycle replaced my front shifter, front and rear disc rotors and rear brake pads. All ready for more long rides! Hopefully I won’t have to climb huge hills in the big ring now.

Moraine Lake Ride

Today was the Bow Cyclist Club ride from Banff up the Bow Valley Parkway. I did this ride in 2019 as an unofficial ride with some cycling friends from the club. Last year the club made it an official “event ride”, but I couldn’t make it because I had that weird chest pain. This year, I was good to go. The only problem was the air quality: the forest fire smoke had rolled in from BC in the last few days. In fact, this morning, the air quality was a 9 in Calgary, after being better yesterday. But I drove through fog, smog and low cloud this morning and wonder of wonders it was clear and sunny in Banff.

There were three ride distances but that expanded to four: 60 km to Castle Junction and back, 120 km to Lake Louise (town) and back, and 144 km to Moraine Lake and back. An additional route was pushed for: 130 km to Lake Louise ski area for a free beer. Turned out that was a popular option. 😁

I joined in with a group heading to Moraine Lake. We started out quickly and stopped in Johnston Canyon. Tammy had texted me to see how it was going and I surprised her by letting her know how nice it was.

Look! Very little smoke!

The weather stayed nice and it was a good ride. We stopped for water and washroom break in the town before starting our climb up. Unfortunately, my front shifter chose that moment to break. I couldn’t shift onto the small ring on the front. I was facing a climb up to the lake without being able to use my lower gear ratios. I was not sure I could do that, but I made it.

Here’s some video that Rob took as we rode along the Parkway back to Banff. In order of appearance: Amy, Rick, Richard, Eric, Colette, Lee, me, Brenda and Bob. Brenda is 99 pounds soaking wet and about 4′ 10″. Amazing that we can take part in the same sport, eh?

We made it back to Banff around 3:30. Other groups (like those that went to the ski lodge for beer) got back before we did.

I drove back to Calgary and plowed back into the horrible air quality. I was sure glad it wasn’t like that when we were riding.

Going to have to get that shifter fixed!

Snowbirds

This morning I saw this on Twitter:

I let the family know and at noon we were on our bikes and cruising down to the cell tower area to get a look. Unfortunately, today there is a significant amount of smoke in the air from forest fires. I thought I spotted the Snowbirds with the binoculars when they were doing their loop around Foothills Medical Centre, but it wasn’t until they did Children’s Hospital that everyone could see them. Also unfortunately, Tammy had already headed back home at that point. I hope she got to see them because they would have gone over our house.

Oh well. It got us out. Maybe not into the fresh air…

Somewhat underwhelming. Would be nice to have a proper airshow.

Tooth Extraction

Today Ian got to experience having a tooth pulled. It wasn’t anything like a lack of brushing, just genetics. One crazy tooth growing the wrong way meant a baby tooth didn’t want to leave.

The source of the problem

It was a quick procedure. The painful part was getting the freezing, but the tooth popped out fine. He had a numb face when I saw him mid morning. Nothing but soft food and drinks today. I didn’t think I’d ever see a kid disappointed to have pudding for supper.

The braces are going back on in two weeks.