Wednesday, 24 May 2017

bicycle usage preference in Finland

Growing up in Australia I've pretty much always had "derailleur" style gears. I say "pretty much" because as a kid under 10 I had a "Dragster" style bike (like this, but I don't have a picture of mine)

 which pretty much got changed into something which would later become (yes, I'm old) BMX.

One thing about that bike that non of my other bikes (until I came to Finland) had was a "Sturmey Archer" style "internal hub" gear system.  For those unfamiliar with them (and mistakenly thinking that that shifter was just for looks because "that bike doesn't have gears" this is what they look like:

Clean, and simple, with no requirement to bend the chain as it moves across the lower cassette.

I quickly discovered (with my first 10 speed bike) how sensitive the rear hanger was (riding though bush all the time) to impacts and how often one needed to tune the system (something many folks could never properly do) or it wouldn't shift properly, would make a "rattle" sound all the time (while it was partially attempting to climb up or drop down on the cluster.

A great example on how you need to adjust your derailleur:

My last bike in Australia was a Giant Yukon, which I loved and rode to work (and on trails as well as for general exersize) quite a bit for many years. Finally after some thousands of Km (literally) I needed a new rear cluster, but the Shimano Deore with "Rapid Change" worked great for me with only occasional adjustments and I loved the ability to keep a decent cadence and constant energy irrespective of slope or headwind.

Gears work. But most riders just don't know the first thing about how to use their gears properly, especially with a Derailleur system. For instance you can't just sequentially shift UP or DOWN, as you need to keep the rear sprocket more or less in line with the front sprocket, especially if you have more than 5 gears on the back sprocket. So as you shift up you eventually move from the smallest sprocket on the front to the middle, but you should do that before you've gone to the smallest on the back. Probably this will mean you'll need to change back down on the rear before changing up on the front ... which the rapid change system allows you to do (but you still need to be careful to not make a tangle of it).

It may sound complex but eventually it becomes second nature (or you just fluff it around like most people do).

Then I came to Finland where "entry level bikes" have most commonly got no gears (meaning a single gear fixed gear but with a coaster clutch / brake system not a "fixie") or a (most commonly Shimano Nexus) 7 or 9 speed hub. By most commonly I mean most of them.

These systems have the advantage that you just shift up or down with no thought of "do I need to change the front sprocket" ... just change.

Dead Simple ...

To show how common this system is here, here is a "for instance" just walking along and decided to film "poll" at my local small supermarket:

Note the number of mudguards and racks in that video. Its easy to see that bikes here aren't like most Australian bikes, they are clearly fundamentally practical transport. Because (unlike Australia) many people ride bicycles all the time, in all weathers for most of their daily stuff (like going to the shops or stuff like that).

After using my hub now for a few years I totally love it. Actually it was pretty much love at first pedal. Indeed while I see that "derailleur" style has some advantages in competition, almost none of that translates to street.

I have seen occasional posts on bicycle forums in Australia enquiring about these systems and usually they're regarded as "expensive" ... which is weird because in Finland they are fitted at almost the bottom end of the market. I expect its just another example of Australians being shagged up the butt for stuff because (either) the retail system just wants to simplify and have one thing to pedal (or the bike shops are populated by dedicated enthusiasts who just can't see the point of not being "comitted").

My bike (with the Nexus 7) has been a great transport unit and I paid 50 buck for it second hand (in really good condition. A real "low maintenance practical work horse" and my daily driver over here since 2013 (without as much as a screw driver put to it).

I wish Australians were as wise as Europeans.

PS: lastly if one is to get hung up on issues like efficiency , then I suggest reading this good reply on a forum here, its a good one.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Getting DoF at a distance

one of my pet "disturbances" is people taking pictures of a tiny toy on their keyboard from 5cm away and going on about the DoF and Bokeh of their new lens, especially when its clearly going to be useless at "normal focal distances"

The only way to get DoF is by pupil diameter, not "f stop" ... the bigger the pupil the shallower the DoF

Of course to get that pupil bigger for the same angle of view one needs either a bigger f stop OR a larger format. For instance a 50mm lens on a FullFrame camera has a pupil diameter that's about 25mm at f2 ... while the pupil diameter of a 25mm lens on a 43rds camera (capturing the same view from the same spot)  will be 12mm. Meaning less DoF

So I thought that (not having a full frame or a good 50mm f1.4 lens handy) that using my 45mm f1.7 would do the job at imaging my favourte tree if I stitched together an array of 4 shots (as it would approximate a 50mm on a full frame single frame grab).

Here that is:

Seems that while its better than my earlier attempt with the 20f1.7 (single shot with m43) it looks like its not really doing what I want ... a pixel peep (or a big print) shows that it does indeed have better DoF popping it out of the background, but not as much as my 4x5 had (standing pretty much in the same spot).

Well its better and shows more "separation" from the background.

So, I was right but there was a lesson to be learned

On a larger (again) format (like what is called Large Format) a "normal lens" (like the 50mm) is a 180mm lens and (my f5.6) lens yeilds 32mm at "wide open".

Perhaps a Full Frame with a 50mm @ f1.8 (using a 1.4 lens so as to not get too much corner darkness) would do it. However when one is using even 100ISO full sunlight will require super short shutters (or a ND filter) if you're using f1.8 ... Then there is the highlight clipping to deal with...

I still keep my 4x5 camera and some chemistry around for just this sort of specalised thing (and its cheaper than a Sony A7).

way to precious

WARNING: This may have content which is offensive to some. Please read no further if you're that precious.

The "Alt Right" tends to label the "Alt Left" as Snow Flakes ... not the least because they vanish when there is any pressure.

Today I get an email notification that a friend of mine on on Twitter (who hardly ever says much) has retweeted something. So I go and look ... to find this:

I wondered what "horrors" lay there that this sensitive material bore hiding from a sentient adult. Scenes of torture and human dismemberment? Pictures of Donald Trump masturbating nude?

So I went to review my settings and it still didn't show ... so I had to actually uncheck the "Hide Sensitive Content" under "Safety"

to reveal:

FFS people : grow up

Friday, 12 May 2017

Electric Cars ... one day

I just couldn't resist posting this usual, Elon Musk managed to fool those who were only focusing on the headline numbers, which were both good and bad: while TSLA missed earnings, reporting a (non-GAAP) 4Q loss per share of $1.33, or $215 million, far worse than the consensus estimate loss of $0.82. On a GAAP basis, the company reported a loss of $330 million, or $2.04 per share, compared with a loss of $283 million or $2.13 a share in the year-earlier quarter. This amount to a loss of over $13,000 for each of the 25,051 cars delivered in the quarter.

As I've said many times before if it worked it would be working already (oh, but I fogot about the conspiracy theories)

As I've also said, if we want to use electricity to power vehicles we need to change the paradigm entirely. Stop making them as heavy as vehicles are today (because the power needed is related to the weight, turns out Newton is still right) and start making urban environments that don't need cars to simply get you from where you live to where you work / shop.

I know people can't grasp numbers, but hopefully those don't read my blog (or if they do then just accept that this is right).

From this Tesla source:

What will the battery size be for the base model that provides <= 215 miles of range? A 70D is 240 miles, and a 70 is 230 miles. A 60 was about 210. Since the 3 is 20% smaller, does that imply it would get about 20% more range for a given battery size, or is it non-linear? 
Seems like they should be able to pull off 215 miles with a 50kWh battery on Model 3.
If you think about that number and what it means, I used a total of 800kWh in my whole house for the entire quater which was winter (in Australia so not super cold).

So to drive for a week (or in reality probably less) a Tesla will use about what I need for my house (fridge, freezer, hotwater, lights ...) in the same period. Oh and that assumes charging is 100% efficient (which it isn't) and you don't tear off at the lights or drive in hilly areas.

Get a grip folks ... where the hell is that energy coming from and how will you get it there?

If you want to be green and sustainable - ride an electric bicycle or better yet pedal the thing and get some exersize too.

Stop paying to be serviced by a service industry which sees you like the way Pastoralists use the term service.