Request for Bike Signs at 21st and 21st in Oakland

** Update 5/22: it turns out that there is a bike nav sign at this intersection heading south, but it is set back about 200 feet from the intersection, so it is not very visible. Consider moving it closer to the intersection.  JMM**

This is a request to Oakland Public Works to put in a bike nav sign on E 21St Street for southbound bike traffic, indicating that there is a bike route going uphill on 21st Ave. I frequently blow past that turn because it is unmarked. This is, as far as I can tell, the main bike-route way to get from downtown to the Dimond district, so I would imagine it would say “Dimond 1.6 mi”. You probably want to also label continuing south on E 21st St, although I’m not sure what the “destination” would be going that way (Foothill Blvd? San Leandro?).  Video below at the intersection describing the issue further.

White and Ambient Noise

This is a curation of white and ambient noise, all from freesound except for the first one made by the open source Android app Chroma Doze. Citations and credits below the break — some have creative commons limitations, please check the freesound citation.

  1. Low White Noise, mp3, one hour.
  2. Ocean sound, mp3, three hours.
  3. Urban rainstorm, ogg, one hour.
  4. Village Morning, mp3, two hours.
  5. Midnight Woods Cottage, mp3, over three hours.
  6. Sunny Point Cafe, mp3, 0.5 hours.
  7. Coast By Night, mp3, 2.8 hours.

Continue reading White and Ambient Noise

Why I’m Glad I Went To Eckerd College

This is my answer to the Quora question “What Are The Best Reasons To Attend Eckerd College“.

If you are a strong student and want to attend a liberal arts school, Eckerd has some amazing scholarships and really offers about the same academic experience as more prestigious schools. Check out the Academic Achievement Scholarships[1]. I got the equivalent of one of those in 1994-1999 (they let me stay on for one more semester to round out a double major), and graduated essentially debt-free. I also had a lot of fun, tried a bunch of stuff, and got a cool job right afterward (and eventually went to a top 10 law school).

Continue reading Why I’m Glad I Went To Eckerd College

Bay Trail Bike Birding

After reading The Thing With Feathers and then Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle, I started being more interested in birds. Then I bought a Sibley Guide, and it got a little more serious.

I’ve always enjoyed the Bay Trail, on several occasions riding SF to Berkeley or the reverse. This weekend I rode from approximately Fruitvale BART to Hayward BART, going through MLK regional shoreline, Oyster Bay Regional Shoreline, and Hayward Regional Shoreline, and I brought my camera. When I’d ridden the trail before I’d often stopped to read the informational signs about birds, and I was surprised that I was able to photograph pretty much all the common birds I’d read about, plus several more. And a bat ray.


Gutenovox, a Mashup of Gutenberg and LibriVox Catalogs

I recently did my first recording for LibriVox, which is a site where volunteers read public domain works. I wanted to contribute to a short science fiction collection, and it was challenging to find a work that hadn’t been read already — not because there aren’t any, but because it involves looking through lists of stories on Project Gutenberg, then and searching for each one in the LibriVox catalog. “This is what computers are for,” I thought. So over the last week or so, I created a mashup site of the two catalogs, so that one can search the Project Gutenberg site and show what LibriVox recordings exist already, plus estimated reading time:  It works pretty well, but there are a few limitations.

Continue reading Gutenovox, a Mashup of Gutenberg and LibriVox Catalogs

Swapping Kindle Keyboard (Kindle 3) Motherboards or Screen Assembly

My Kindle 3 started freezing a few minutes after I booting up. This started after I ran the battery down completely; but the battery appeared to charge fine, and swapping batteries did not fix it. Following the advice of this blog post from SiliconFish, I ordered a couple of broken-screen Kindles from ebay ($10 including shipping for the paid).

Swapping the motherboards is pretty easy. Pull the back off gently. You can do this without any tools, just bend a corner, gently and gradually, until the back pops out at that corner. Then peel the back out, again gently and gradually, and all the clip-points will pop out. Remove the two screws holding in the battery and remove the battery. Continue reading Swapping Kindle Keyboard (Kindle 3) Motherboards or Screen Assembly

Bicycle Cue Sheet Holder

I’ve moved to Oakland from Berkeley, and so biking to things goes over longer distances and often I find that I need to bring a cue sheet. That meant I needed a way to hold a cue sheet. I already have a section of my handlebar taped over with electrical tape where I attach my front light, and so I just put a velcro cable tie through a binder clip and then around the taped area. The tape helps hold it in place and prevents scratching.


[picture of cue sheet]
Cue sheet made from electrical tape, binder clip, and velcro cable tie.

The Last Lion, by William Manchester

I’ve been really enjoying this book.  This is Doris Kearns Goodwin-style biography.  It is detailed, written like a novel, and hard to put down.  Maybe even more than Goodwin, Manchester used this three-volume biography as a way to show an epic arc of history, from the apex of British Empire and its wane and climax in the Second World War, all with Churchill as the main character.  The primary theme of the book is of Churchill as a carryover of Victorian virtues: the sense of duty, honor, hard work, and Imperialism.  All those had started to seem less relevant as the twentieth century began, but suddenly because immensely valuable at the outbreak of World War II.  I’m about midway through the first volume, at the buildup to the first world war and in the middle of Churchill’s initial ascendance to political power.  It is interesting to see the combination of societal factors that supported him — first and foremost, being a member of the aristocratic elite, and having the connections of his mother Jennie (who sounds to have been the mistress of at least a dozen various powerful men including George V when he was Prince of Wales), and being able to follow in the footsteps of his father into Parliament.  On the other hand, there was a lot of internal dynamics that also made him extraordinary.  There was his ability with written language:  by the time he was an adult and his father died, his parents were close to broke, and Churchill may not have been able to sit in Parliament at all if he hadn’t made a small fortune writing.  There was his comfort with adversity, with his own ambition, and with conflict and dissent.

Setting Up Emacs + Cygwin + PHP + ssh-agent

I had to struggle for a while to be able to remotely edit php files with emacs on Windows.  After trying various combinations of putty/plink, cygwin, xemacs, and GNU emacs, I finally got things to work with Cygwin’s ssh-agent and GNU emacs.  Here’s the procedure:

Install Cygwin, ssh-agent, emacs.  Use ssh-keygen to create a private/public pair.  Append the public key to your ~.ssh/authorized_keys file on the remote machine.  Add this to your ~/.bash_profile in Cygwin:

if [ -z “$SSH_AUTH_SOCK” -a -x “$SSHAGENT” ]; then
trap “kill $SSH_AGENT_PID” 0

ssh-add ~/.ssh/id_rsa

Add this to your emacs load path (.emacs, init.el, whatever):

(require ‘tramp)
(setq tramp-default-method “sshx”)
(setq tramp-debug-buffer t)
(add-to-list ‘load-path “~/.xemacs”)
(autoload ‘php-mode “php-mode” “Major mode for editing php code.” t)
(require ‘php-mode)

And the link for php-mode is here:


Bike Camping: SF to Point Reyes Sky Camp

Last weekend I was the event host for a trip from San Francisco to Point Reyes with the NorCal Bicycle Touring and Camping Meetup.  We ended up getting six people together for the trip, all from San Francisco and Berkeley, except one coming in from Sacramento.  I had picked up a camping permit for Sky Camp at about two months earlier. It is still the rainy season in San Francisco in March, so we felt lucky to have a weekend of sunny weather predicted.

On Highway 1, about ten miles south of Stinston Beach.
On Highway 1, about ten miles south of Stinston Beach.

I planned the route, which was to go out on Highway 1 and back via Sir Francis Drake (Google Maps or Map My Ride; during the trip, we used the Marin County Bike Coalition’s map, which was up-to-date and accurate, $12 including shipping).  The wind is usually from the north along the coast, so ideally we would have gone out Sir Francis Drake and back on Highway 1, but the ferry schedule didn’t really have a good Saturday morning option, so I had to go with the reverse route.

We had a bit of a dodgy start.   Continue reading Bike Camping: SF to Point Reyes Sky Camp