Archive for July, 2011

The Fireworks, Will They Ever Stop, Yo, I Don’t Know

Not to sound particularly unpatriotic, but I really increasingly loathe Independence Day here in the states, which – as you may have noticed – was two days ago, July 4th.

Why? Mainly the eight hours of sustained firework bombardment this neighborhood receives, which gives me a headache even with the windows closed, prevents me from watching television or listening to a radio without headphones, and traumatizes my cats. Also the week beforehand and the week after, which are more of the same, just on a slightly smaller scale.

To share this dubious delectable joy with those of you unfortunate enough to live in a place where powerful consumer fireworks are readily available and your neighbors have an infantile fascination with explosions, I recorded several hours of ambient sound in the neighborhood on the evening of July 4th this year. I realize it’s unlikely, but if you ever do find yourself wanting to listen to an hour of sustained firework explosions, you can do just that right here. It’s a 68MB 160kbps VBR stereo MP3 file. The original was recorded as a 1.7GB (yes, gigabyte) stereo recording with a Zoom H1 recorder, using the built-in stereo microphones, then converted to MP3 format using Audacity. The tripod-mounted recorder (with a windscreen) was placed in an open attic window and left to do its thing. Even at a moderate recording level (80), some of the larger mortar shells resulted in clipping. Sorry…

Open it in your music player of choice, turn up the volume slightly, and experience that peculiar hell that is July 4th all over again, complete with mortars and rockets and fountains and emergency-vehicle sirens in the distance.

Published in: Geekiness | on July 6th, 2011 | 1 Comment »

Cheap Bike Pedal Disassembly and Postmortem

Late last year, I bought a pair of inexpensive bicycle pedals from a large, relatively well-respected online bike store. They were mid-sized lightweight no-name things made in China, and they were, as I mentioned, cheap.

Fast forward to this spring – a few hundred miles of riding later – and I’m cleaning the bike one day when I notice that the pedals really don’t want to turn. Like, very substantial force is required to make them rotate. I also note that the alloy parts of the pedals are horribly bent and twisted (which I’d noticed before), and that the plastic core of the body on each is bent and distorted, in one case so much that the dust cap on the end has come off (which I hadn’t noticed).

Okay, they were cheap, in every sense of the word. Lesson learned, I bought some decent pedals and replaced them, and have been much happier. In fact, the old ones were so stiff, my speed on that bicycle, all other things being equal, increased just under 20%.


Anyway, I was curious as to just how the pedals had turned to suck, so I finally got around to disassembling them and conducting a postmortem of sorts. Here’s the report, as it were:
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on July 1st, 2011 | 3 Comments »