Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Tips for doing the Seattle-to-Portland Bike Ride (STP)

Here are some things I learned from doing the Seattle-to-Portland Bike Ride (STP) last year:
1. Do it with somebody, otherwise its too boring.
2. Don't bring a water back-pack. Just carry two water bottles and try to get everything else under the seat, or in your pockets.
3. Toledo High School is a good place to sepnd the night, but maybe try to go a bit farther next time, like Castle Rock?
4. Only bring 1 extra tube (2 max) to save space. If you use it you can always buy another one at the next stop.
5. Bring a spare spoke or two in case one breaks.
6. Leave at 5 am or 5:30 to avoid heat and get a good start. I can just leave from my house and skip the start.
7. The air mattress is wonderful for sleeping on.
8. Eat a lot and drink a lot. Stop at every rest stop.
9. Use tons of chamois lube.
10. As part of training, in addition to a bunch of 45 mile rides, try to do a couple 70 or 80 mile rides with a 45 the day after.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

DSL connect speeds with Covad

Saturday, January 20, 2007

How to setup your Wireless Router to be secure (Linksys router)

There are 4 basic things you need to do (this is for Linksys routers):
1 -Set the Security Mode to WEP, i.e. enable encryption. This insures all network traffic on your network is encrypted. This makes it harder for someone who is sniffing your communication to intercept traffic and obtain sensitive data that you want kept private, like passwords. WEP allow a group of devices on a local network (such as a home network) to exchange encoded messages with each other while hiding the contents of the messages from easy viewing by outsiders. All devices need to have matching keys.
2- Disable Wireless SSID Broadcast - Most routers automatically transmit their network name (SSID) into open air. This feature is intended to allow clients to dynamically discover and roam. However, this also makes it easier for hackers to break into your home network. Because SSIDs are not encrypted or otherwise scrambled, it is easy to grab one by snooping. Knowing your SSID brings hackers one step closer to a successful intrusion. In a home Wi-Fi network, roaming is unnecessary and the SSID broadcast feature serves no useful purpose. You should disable this feature to improve the security of your WLAN.
3 -Enable the wireless MAC Filter. Without MAC address filtering, any wireless client can join (authenticate with) a Wi-Fi network if they know the network name (SSID) and perhaps a few other security parameters like encryption keys. When MAC address filtering is enabled, however, the access point or router performs an additional check on a different parameter. Only machines in a list of allowed MAC addresses (PCs) can join the network. To improve the security of your Wi-Fi LAN, you should enable and use MAC address filtering.
4 - Change your router's password from the default. Every Linksys router comes from the factory with a default username and password which are well-known. So if you dont change it, anyone can potentially log on to your router. People know this. You should change it to something else to make it harder for someone to access your router's admin settings.

Here is how you do each:
(First, navigate to using your browser to get to your router's settings page.)
Set the Security Mode to WEP
Go to the Wireless, Wireless Security, Set the Security Mode to 'WEP'
Click the 'Generate' button to generate some WEP keys.
You will then need to enter at least one matching WEP key into each PC that you want to connect to your network. You can do this via the wireless configuration on the PC.
Disable Wireless SSID Broadcast
Go to the Wireless, Basic Wireless Settings, Select 'Disable Wireless SSID Broadcast'
Enable the wireless MAC Filter
Go to the Wireless, Wireless MAC Filter, Select 'Enable'
Select 'Permit only PCs listed to access the wireless network'
Click the button for 'Edit MAC Filter List'
Add the MAC addresses of any PCs that you want to allow to connect to your network
To get the MAC address of a PC, open a command window and type 'ipconfig /all'
Change your router's password from the default
Go to Administration, Management and reset the Password.

Useful reading:

Salt Spring Island, British Columbia

Here are just a few shots from our vacation last summer to Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. We stayed in a small 2-BR house right on the beach called Otter Cove Cottage. It was very private and peaceful. We had great views looking towards Victoria. It was a working farm and sheep would come down to graze. Here is a link to the rental prop:


Here is a picture of our dog, Tobi. We like him a lot.
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How to transfer the content of VHS video onto DVD

There's lots of ways to do this. Probably the easiest way is just to purchase one of those combination VHS/DVD recorders that can burn the content of your video tape directly to a DVD. You can probably get one in the $200 to $300 range. Editing options will be limited in this case though. Here is one at Amazon that looks good that costs $275: Panasonic DMR-ES45VS DVD Recorder / VCR Combo . These can also work as a 'Tivo' and copy stuff to DVD off the TV. I should get one of these.

The other way is to purchase a video card for your PC and a DVD burner and do everything on your PC. You would get a video card that can capture video, such as the "All-in-one" Video Cards from ATI. With this, you hook up your VCR to the card via RCA cables and use software such as Windows Movie Maker 2 to play back and capture the video onto your hard drive. Then once you have the video on your hard drive, you can use a variety of different products to edit and then burn the video onto DVD. With this option you have maximum control over the whole process but its harder and more time consuming than the first option. You need a pretty beefy PC for this but I do it with a 1.3 MHz P4 with 512KB RAM and it works OK. Would be much better if I had at least 1 GB RAM and a faster processor.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Seattle's "Bodies" Exhibit

Uh..This is pretty cool, I think. Awe inspirng journey or ghoulish sidewhow? It's an exhibit of the body using actual cadavers. It runs in Seattle for 6 mos starting Sept 30 in a downtown building that most recently served as temporary home of the Seattle Public Library. (800 Pike). I think I want to go. Its $24.5 per person.

Seattle's New Olympic Sculpture Park

Seattle just opened a new sculpture park along the waterfront. The site was formely an old industrial facility. This may really help redefine Seattle's waterfront. I can't wait to go and see it:

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Couple of Usefel Cell Phone websites - This is a free service that allows you to create personalised greetings on your cell phone for anyone...your friends, family, etc. All your messages are accessible via the web. This service hijacks and replaces your existing phone's messaging service. You can also create a "ditch" message that basically just hangs up on people that you don't wish to talk to. I haven't used that feature but I guess it could be useful (bill collectors, the IRS?). The only downside of this service is that your phone's regular message notification no longer works and is replaced by either an email or a text message. Email isnt very useful if your arent connected to your email, and text messages cost $. - with this service you can get a free, phone number and voice mail. This is a phone number you can give out if you don't wish to give your cell phone. It keeps you cell phone # private, cuz we know that once someone has your cell phone # it goes into their address book and it's there forever. Another use is you can get a number in a different city for work, or to be local to out-of-town friends and family.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

All the Seattle weather sites you need

With all the wild weather we've had this winter in Seattle, keeping track of the weather has become key. Here are all the Seattle weather web sites you need. One for the forecast, one for a summary of current conditions, and a radar site so you can see what's coming:
Current Conditions

Great backup solution - Carbonite

I have finally found a backup solution that works for me. Its called Carbonite. Its completely online. It costs $50 per year but I think the service is well worth it, because it has unlimited storage and once its setup you can pretty much forget it. There is a small app you need to install on your PC to use the service.

No more DVDs, or backing up to a hard drive that might fail!

One drawback is it takes a while to create your initial backup. It is creating my backup at the rate of about 1 GB/day. I am backing up about 30 GB data so it will take one month. It works in the background and is limited by the uplink speed of your internet connection. I have a pretty slow DSL connection so I bet it would be a lot faster for most DSL users and certainly for anyone on a cable.

Here is info on the speed of my DSL connection:
Download Speed: 455 kbps (56.9 KB/sec transfer rate)
Upload Speed: 92 kbps (11.5 KB/sec transfer rate)

But the time it takes for the initial backup isnt too big a deal though becuase once its created any additional changes you make to the folders you are backing up are automatically saved pretty quickly.

Everything works in the background. And the uploading only occurs when your PC is idle so you shouldn't see any performance hit to your internet connection.

I think this service is great!

Cool web sites I recently discovered...

These aren't anything new really, but they are new to me.

Good 'reviews' site. It covers about 8 metro areas, including mine, Seattle:
Online Bookmark manager. I find it really useful to have all your links in one internet accessible place. Plus you can search on tags and find lots of other people's favorite sites. A big time sync if your not careful. My list of favorites:
Really cool real estate site where you can check the estimated sales price of your house as well as all the homes in your neighborhood: