The feeling of accomplishment I get disassembling a defective household appliance, determining the issue, fixing it, and finding the device usable again. Even if the only thing that needed to be done was soldering resistor back onto a board and it took 10 minutes at most.

I’m so here for this kind of riding. Smooth, hard-pack gravel going down a hill at speed. So much fun.

Good morning.

Es ist so ein Luxus einen Backshop mit wirklich guten Brötchen fußläufig zu haben. Schräg, dass dies in einer Tankstelle ist, aber hey.

Reading this makes me incredibly happy. Seeing that Twitterrific’s subscription scheme is resulting in solid revenue is great.
Twitterrific Subscriptions Going Well

Just saw an article about how Apple removed ratings from their online store. It mentioned that the various dongles receive a lot of negative feedback and in that moment I wanted to give the Lightning/Audio adapter a hug because it’s one of Apple’s best products.

200 Million Reasons to Watch 1Password by Rebecca Sadwick

I’m part of this team and the article captures the company pretty damn well.

First ride with the WTB NANO 40

On Wednesday, in an attempt to make good use of the surprisingly sunny weather, I took my gravel bike out for a first ride with the WTB Nano 40.

Wtb NANO 40 on DT Swiss CR1600 Spline db 23 wheels in the forest

My recent experiment of using 650b × 47 mm tyres on my bike failed due to tyre rub on the left chain stay, yes, but it gave me a taste of what wider, higher-volume tyres with an aggressive tread could do for riding gravel and some tame singletrack. So after doing some research on 700×40c rubber, I had high hopes for the WTB NANO 40.

(I set up the tyres tubeless with Muc-Off’s No Puncture Hassle Tubeless Sealant and inflated them to 37 psi up front and 38 psi in the back referencing the handy tubeless tire pressure recommendations published by ENVE.)

For this outing I put together a 20 km route that I had ridden before, at least in parts, comprised of fire roads, some root-y singletrack, a few fast descents on what I thought was going to be either fire roads or well-worn foot paths. The bad news is that some of the paths had been shut down years ago and were very much overgrown and hard to navigate, the good news is that I was not only able to try the NANO 40 on loose, muddy, sloshy, puddle-dotted forest roads, I was also treated to a crazy fast descent on a 3 km hard pack and relatively dry gravel road.

Ride on 20191120

After finishing the ride, I was left with two dominant feelings from this first experience with the NANO 40:

  1. What an insanely fun ride. These tyres did such a good job and provided loads of grip even in ankle-deep mud.
  2. You idiot. You had considered buying these almost two years ago when you replaced the Schwalbe X-One 33 mm tyres on the Canyon Inflite AL that brought you to gravel cycling in the first place but you didn’t do it because you were too chicken about trying a tubeless setup and the tread looked too aggressive.

So what did I learn?

For one that tubeless setups are the way to go for me moving forward, it seems.
Don’t get me wrong, the Donnelly X’Plor MSO 700×40c 120 TPI tube tyres I’ve ridden so far are crazy good. Having now ridden a properly supple and comparatively aggressively treaded tyre, I appreciate them even more. For a tubed tyre, they are very comfortable and robust even when ridden below the manufacturers specification of ~ 50 psi and they offer great traction within their limits.

Then there’s the realisation that once the fear of pinch flats is reduced and I embrace lower pressures, it opens up a lot more paths to ride. That said, I am going to increase the pressure in the back wheel for the next ride to 40 psi, because at 38 psi, it sometimes squirmed too much beneath me especially on faster, slightly rockier roads.

Lastly that I felt the NANO 40 provides a very good mix of a fast rolling 700c tyre and some serious grip on loose ground that the WTB Sendero 47 got me hooked on.

Oh and they look oh so nice on my bike 😏

Battle cat on the bridge over the kurparkweiher in weisskirchen

Next week is going to be a good week

A week dedicated to robot butts

This is from one of my favourite web comics, Questionable Content by Jeph Jacques.

Diese neuen Knoppers-Riegel sind für mich in kürzester Zeit zu einer absoluten Suchtsüßigkeit geworden. Schlimm. Ich kriege nicht genug von den Dingern.

From my “hey, I’ve never gotten lost in the woods, why not give that a try”-ride two weeks ago. The light that day was strange to say the least but made for interesting pictures.

Steven Colbert's New Zealand Special, part 1

I’m not gonna lie, I was looking forward to this a lot. This man is such a huge Lord of the Rings fan, I’m surprised he hadn’t moved in with Peter Jackson years ago.

The first part of the New Zealand Special has Steven being picked up at the airport by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and she really held her own in the interview that followed.
I thought I saw a tiny bit of Colbert’s old persona from The Colbert Report or his time at The Daily Show during the sit down and I kept grinning through it all.

I decided to set up macOS Catalina with a fresh install. It’ll allow me to rethink a couple of application choices and see what I actually need. One immediate positive is that I’ve been able to install Lightroom from the Mac App Store — no more Creative Cloud cruft.

Set up a pair of brand new WTB Nano 40c and I noticed that the front tyre has a slight imperfection in the left sidewall, in a place where the rubber was pressed into the mould. I’m hoping that the Muc Off tubeless sealant will take care of it.

On Sunday my ride ended with me literally getting lost in the woods for a bit because both Google Maps and my Wahoo Elemnt failed me. I need a bike computer with much better maps and navigation and I’m going to give the Hammerhead Karoo a try.

When you find out coincidentally that the theme you chose for your site renders Markdown footnotes beautifully. 👍🏻🤘🏻✊🏻🥳

The iPad is still being held back by its operating system and Apple isn't being straightforward about the why

My colleague and friend Mike sent me a link to an interview with Phil Schiller on c|net conducted by Roger Cheng. The core part of the interview concerns the new 16” MacBook Pro and the redesign of the keyboard away from Apple’s butterfly mechanism to an improved scissor mechanism. Later in the discussion, they talk about how iPads and Macs coexist and the purpose of each device. Schiller’s answer to a question about whether Apple can see the iPad and Mac merging like this:

No, that’s not our view. Because then you get this in-between thing, and in-between things are never as good as the individual things themselves. We believe the best personal computer is a Mac, and we want to keep going down that path. And we think the best tablet computing device is an iPad, and we’ll go down that path.

iPad benefits because we assume that you need to be able to do most everything with touch, and we don’t have to trade off on that experience. Mac assumes you want to do most everything with a keyboard and mouse input. We don’t have to trade off on that path. You can look at some of the other products that will try to go halfway between the two. They end up just compromising experiences. That’s not good.

I have a 12.9” 3rd generation iPad Pro. It’s a device that’s as close to my teenage self’s Star Trek P.A.D.D. dream as I could hope for. But what drove me to stop using iPads for a couple of years after the iPad Air 2 and what still bugs me, even in iPadOS, are the limitations Apple places on the software of the device and on the capabilities of third party software. The way Schiller frames the separation between iPads and Macs is based on the type of input and that, to me, misses the point.

Let me put it this way. When I was shopping for a new tablet at the beginning of the year, the decision to go for the top-of-the-line iPad Pro instead of an infinitely more capable Surface Pro 6 came down to two things:

  1. I put a gigantic amount of faith and € 2,000+ in Apple, hoping they would come through and at least add support for external storage with the next major release, as had been speculated. Thankfully, iPadOS delivered.
  2. The quality of third party software on iOS (and macOS), particularly from indie developers and once you venture outside of the big name applications, is still completely unmatched on Windows and in all areas: touch-friendliness, UX and UI design, etc.

On this I agree with Schiller: it’s important to have proper support for touch and proper support for mouse + keyboard in the devices you offer.
The best example sits in front of me daily; my lovely Surface Pro 2. This is a full-fledged Windows PC with all of the potential you expect it to have but using the operating system and third party applications in touch mode is a compromise at best and impossible at worst (and don’t even get me started on the schizophrenic nature of Windows 10 itself with a Settings app and the Control Panel app).
But the above also goes to show that it’s not a matter of the devices’ form factor or input methods but a matter of having the operating system expose as much potential to the software running on it and enforcing a high standard of optimisation for the form factor and input methods.

Comparing a modern Surface Pro 7 to a current iPad Pro leaves me with this conclusion:

Windows 10 limits how comfortably I can accomplish my tasks but iPadOS still limits what tasks I can accomplish.

And this is what I continue to have issues with, this is the thing that drives me to pick up my MacBook Pro or my Surface Pro 2 for tasks as trivial as using some necessary extension in a browser like Brave 1, or quickly converting a video file I created on my camera into a different format, or adding new music to the Music app on my iPad, or inspecting the code of my website right in the browser I’m using. Tasks that the iPad, as a device, is absolutely capable of but that iPadOS keeps me from doing.

  1. I am fully aware of the fact that allowing extensions and other features common on Windows and macOS needs to be done carefully because of the security and privacy implications. That still doesn’t excuse, in my opinion, why Apple hasn’t made any visible efforts to solve these problems on a platform that’s been around for over 12 years. [return]

584×47 mm — my beautiful but failed experiment

A couple of weeks ago I had the idea to buy a second wheel set for Battle Cat, my gravel bike, to expand the where I can ride it. The plan was to keep the 700c wheel set I’ve been riding for the past two years for longer gravel rides or for road riding (using road tyres, obviously). I would then buy a 650b/27.5” wheel set and a pair of wider tyres with more bite to venture into more gnarly terrain.

I inquired with the frame manufacturer what tyre width would be safe to use in the frame and set out to find a good, used wheel set from DT Swiss because I’ve had nothing but great experiences with these so far. After being told that 1.9“ or 4.83 cm wide tyres should work and still provide enough clearance, I quickly settled on the WTB Sendero 650b × 47 mm pneus.

The result was this sexy setup:

My gravel bike Battle Cat with 650b wheels and WTB Sendero tyres

The wheel set I found was an older pair DT Swiss M1700 MTB wheels with a decent internal rim width and the Ratchet Free Hub System. There was a bit of a setback when I found out that the last person to service the hind wheel didn’t just fail to remove a massive radial run-out, they also centred the rim over the hub body and not over the axle, resulting in a rim that was too far on the left. After getting this fixed for a good amount of money, putting the tyres on tubeless and the wheels into the frame, I saw that it was a tight fit but doable with no tyre rub on the frame or fork.

Well, that changed after the first 15 km of singletrack riding on Saturday. I pushed the tyres the way you would and to my great dismay, they expanded/deformed in a way that caused tyre rub on the left chain stay twice in one revolution on a perfectly true back wheel.

What I’m left with is the choice to either sell the wheel set and tyres again or to find slightly smaller but equally gnarly tyres for the wheels. The problem here, of course, is that smaller tyres also mean an even smaller wheel diameter and a further lowering of the bottom bracket, something that already took getting used to going from 700×40c to 584×47c on the Litespeed T5 Gravel frame I’m riding.

There’s one silver lining to all of this, albeit a fact that left me with a very substantial urge to slam my head into my desk repeatedly because I could’ve saved myself the trouble of buying another wheel set:
I started checking out which 700×40c rubber is available that would give me better grip on wet forest floor than the Donnelly X’Plor MSO I love so much. I found a number of options, the WTB Nano 40 being the supposed best among them when set up tubeless. The only issue is that WTB recommends running these tyres on a rim with at least 20 mm internal width and my DT Swiss CR1600 Spline db wheels are 22 mm wide externally … … … or so I thought.
Turns Out ™ I had misread the specs of the wheels because the spec sheet of the bike I bought them on didn’t specify whether the 22 mm were internal or external width figures. Long story short, they have an internal width of 22 mm, meaning they are right in the goldilocks zone width not just for the WTB Nano 40 but for many other ~ 40 mm wide, supple gravel tyres.

I’m likely going to try and get my hands on the Nanos if I can find them for a decent price and maybe, just maybe I’ll get my wish of a gravel bike capable of some gnarlier paths but still fast when I need it to be.

Goodbye 650b wheels, I hardly knew ye.

Is it fine to call the Zeiss ZX1 vapourware at this point?
When it was announced at Photokina, I was so incredibly excited to see a proper successor to the Sony RX1R Mark II happen but there have been no announcements since. 😔

This may be a bit meta but I wonder if Apple is keeping new styles of Memoji in their backpocket to coax people into updating iOS when they need to push out a crucial security update, like WhatsApp did a while back.

Apple’s AirPods are disposable and they shouldn‘t be

Last week I came across an article by Geoffrey A. Fowler in the Washington Post titled „Everyone’s AirPods will die. We’ve got the trick to replacing them.“ (thanks to Dave Mark of The Loop for bringing it up).

Sadly, the title is not just slightly clickbait-y, it also belies the sensible discussion about the viability of AirPods the article contains. Fowler goes into detail about how and when the batteries in AirPods tend to stop performing and then dives into an analysis of the economic circumstances and environmental implications of a product like the AirPods.

Fowler quotes a rule by Kyle Wiens, CEO of the repair website, that has stuck with me for the past few days:

The life span of an expensive, resource-intensive gadget shouldn’t be limited to the life span of one consumable component. You wouldn’t buy an electric toothbrush where you couldn’t replace the brush. Or a car with glued-on tires.

Sadly and also predictably, the new AirPods Pro are made to be just as disposable as their predecessors (and just like any other pair of wireless earbuds on the market right now).

I bought my AirPods a little over two years ago. These little things are a brilliant gadget with decent sound and when pairing works as it should, they’re the pinnacle of convenience. They’ve also been in almost daily use since I purchased them then and the battery life is accordingly bad at this point: I get less than 1.5 hours of listening or calls out of them nowadays.
When I purchased them, I knew full well that the battery was not replaceable and to be honest, I’m kind of mad at myself that I put convenience over the longevity, repairability, and recyclability of a device. Typically everything I buy needs to be either repairable and if for some reason that’s not feasible, it has be long-lasting and recyclable.
Case in point: in writing this article I remembered that I bought a pair of EarPods a couple of days after they were released in September 2012 and that pair lasted me almost six years — yes, I treat my earphones carefully.

I’m going to keep using my AirPods until the finally give out or rather until the battery life is so bad that it negates any kind of convenience these truly wireless earphones offer and I’m going to go back to wired earphones with an in-line remote for casual listening. I still have two pairs of completely new EarPods that came with my iPhones over the years in a drawer (one with the lightning plug and one with a standard 3.5 mm plug), or I might splurge on the Campfire Audio Comet.

Two reviews of the Quoc Gran Tourer gravel cycling shoes and my own two cents

Two comprehensive reviews of the Quoc Gran Tourer have cropped up on sites that I frequently read.

Quoc Gran Tourer Review: Rocks, Gravel, Dust, And Puddles
by Cass Gilbert on

A Summer of Riding in the Quoc Gran Tourer All-Terrain Gravel Bike Shoes
by John Watson on The Radavist

I’ve been using the Quoc Gran Tourer for over a year now and up until I saw these two reviews, I had thought of writing my own but I found that the assessment of the shoes by these two persons mirrors my own closely enough that there are only two things I would add:

  1. Fit wise, I have moderately wide feet and I appreciate having ample room in the toe box. The Gran Tourers deliver in this area, all the while the lacing system allows me to perfectly tie the shoes so they’re comfortable yet stay firmly on my feet all day long.
  2. It takes quite a bit for water to seep into these shoes but once they’re wet, it takes very long for them to properly dry.

I’ve taken these shoes through quite a lot yet they still show only minimal signs of wear on the upper and they’ve only gotten more comfortable with use. I’m very satisfied with the shoes.

So, eben endlich Fördermitglied bei der Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte geworden. Ist echt notwendig, wenn ich mir den Murks anschaue, den die Regierung so in den letzten Jahren verzapft.

What an absolutely stunning paint job. I want a Cannondale Slate but the geometry isn’t for me. This is giving me serious bike envy, even though I adore Battle Cat, my titanium gravel bike.

A new Spider-Verse movie has been announced

Sony/Marvel announced a new Spider-Verse movie and I’m so happy this is coming. Even though we’ll all have to be patient because the film’s release is scheduled for 2022.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” has quickly become one of my comfort food films. I don’t remember when a movie made it onto this list so quickly and I must’ve watched it more than 10 times already.

Can’t wait.