Tuesday, November 3, 2015

New KCR Trail, Lower Cougar

New KCR Trail, Lower Cougar
By Joseph McCabe 11/3/2015

For those who haven't been blessed to actually experience the new trails, here is a quick report.
The start of the Lower Cougar Trail shows its curvy, sinuous track cut into the slope on the south part of Ken Caryl Ranch. It gently slopes upward in the foothills of the ranch.

I”ve been on many trails in my days, and this one is an excellent trail. There are secret spots where nature provides a shaded, wetter feeling. This trail reminds me of Chautauqua up in Boulder without the flatirons.

Just off Valley Parkway before you get to Amaranth Dr, up into the foothills a 1.9 mile hike gets you to an intersection that can take you back along a relatively flat 1.9 mile trail to the Massey Draw trail. The new October map has all the deets, including the under construction Upper Cougar Trail currently accessible to the 6600 foot mark. There you will see Egyptian like wall building efforts on the tricky switchbacks. All being built by volunteers who carefully pick huge rocks and slide them into the right locations. You can join the community by sending an e-mail to the trail club, be sure to give your KCR street address.

To me, KCR stands for Kind Cyclists Rule. Whenever I mountain bike ride, I always leave space for hikers, never skid and am not in a race. Some of the switchbacks require a slow careful negotiation going up hill. And some of the down hill on this trail can be deceivingly gentle, until you come to a sharp right turn before a deep 8 foot deep ravine dive. Lately, I have been running this trail, taking an hour round trip to the site of the volunteers building the new section at 6600 feet. A 600 foot elevation from my doorstep. Can’t wait till it gets up to 7,300 feet. Now that will be a serious work out for these old bones.
Here is a detail from the on line trail map as of October 2015:

Thanks to all the volunteering and the funding for the professional building of these trails. An excellent partnership. Couple of 3D spherical photos uploaded on my Google+ account, click on the photo withing Google+ to see the cool 3D view. You can scroll around, look up and down and see the full views. Juncture of Lower Cougar trail in KCR and in this one you can see the wall built by the volunteers

Hope this helps understand the new trails. They are excellent. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Considering a Refurbished Phone?

Things to consider before buying a refurbished phone.
By Joseph McCabe, PE 10/25/2015

For me, getting a new phone is very frustrating because all the trends in mobile computing need to be evaluated. Should I get a watch and use that as a phone? Can I get a wifi puck and just use a tablet as a phone with a Bluetooth headphone? And there are dozens more questions that need to all fit within a budget for a phone plan's data usage. When my 2013 Moto X phone screen broke, I had to start this process of choosing a replacement phone with the additional investigate of a screen replacement. Screen replacement would have cost as much as a new phone, so I added Gorilla Glass to my requirements of a new phone. 

My motivations for buying a refurbished phone are that I didn't need the new features of today's Nexus phones. 

Things I don't need: 
  • Don't need greater than 8 M Byte photos
  • Don't need 4k video
  • Don't need a finger print security device
  • Don't need a USB-C port or charger
What I wanted is to use is all my existing periphery equipment:
Photo, from left to right: Qi charger, slim port and smattering of usb mini chargers and adapters. 
The capabilities I wanted, because I had the peripherals, are missing from the new Nexus phones. So the older original Nexus 5 is one phone that floated to the top of the list when investigating all the replacement options. Nexus 5 has these additional features: Multi-touch capacitive touch screen, Proximity sensor, Gyroscope, Compass, Barometer, Accelerometer, Hall effect sensor, Ambient Light sensor, GPS (GLONASS &Beidou), step counter and detector. 

The 2015 Moto G was a close second choice in my investigation. That was until T-Mobile dropped the price on their refurbished Nexus 5 to $149. And they spread that out over 24 month payments without any interest charge (I didn't need this financing, but it gave a relationship to my provider that the phone continue working). A 20 day return policy and a 90 day warranty gave me the confidence that the phone would be working as much as I needed. I did have to pay tax and shipping which was unfortunate. 

Of course, like you I was concerned about the condition of the phone. I was pleasantly surprised at how good the condition was when it arrived four days after ordering. There were strips of protective plastic all around the edges, plastic protecting the rear camera and the face of the phone itself. The only indication that it may have been used previously was a small amount of scratches on the back side (see youtube video at the end of this blog). 

I tested everything when the Nexus 5 arrived using the app "Phone Tester" from the Play Store. Android system upgraded multiple times, from 4.4, to 5.0 to 5.1 to 5.1.1 and to my surprise then it loaded marshmallow 6.0. I hadn't put the T-mobile sim into the phone yet so this was all done over the air (OTA) using wifi. Apps were constantly automatically updating at each new OS, but I stopped the automatic update in the Play Store. After setting the phone up the way I wanted I called t-mobile and gave them the 9 digit number the sim card they had provided at no charge. My old phone no longer used the phone number but the new Nexus 5 did. I wanted to make sure nothing was wrong with this new phone, especially the USB charging socket. Turned out that this socket was in excellent condition. My old phone is now working as a WiFi only device still able to receive and make phone calls over WiFi calling. 

I often like to use the java script on Octane to see how strong my web-based computing is compared across devices. I've done this on Raspberry Pi 2, the Moto X phone, desktop and mini computers and now the Nexus 5. The score for the Nexus 5 was 50% higher than the Moto X phone I replaced. This is good.

Only issue I have found with the phone is the music amplifier through the headphone jack sometimes gets garbled. I know the headphone plug is the right size, but I think it isn't making a great connection. Not a big enough problem to send the phone back at this time. 

One added benefit of purchasing a slightly older phone is that purchasing a case for the phone is very inexpensive. I was able to get a top of the line case for the Nexus 5 delivered for $2.80. 

Using the T-Mobile refurbished program has been quite a respectable experience (see update below for clarifiation). I will update this blog if any issues arise. Hope this helps!
I've put this boring 2 minute long, no dialog YouTube un-boxing video so you see what is sent when getting the Nexus 5 refurbished phone from T-Mobile. Lots of useless packaging (New2U), the phone, a USB micro charger and a sim tool to remove and insert the tray for the sim card. 

Hope this has helped in considering a refurbished phone for your next purchase. 

2 week UPDATE: Update here, T-Mobile put an extra $10/month charge on a program of their's called Jump!. Be very careful that you don't get this added. It took a trip to a store and a call to 611 to fix this, if it isn't fix I will update this blog post. Hope this continues to help!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Gluten Free, Yeast Free Bread

Gluten Free and Yeast Free Bread
by Joseph McCabe

I have found it difficult and expensive to use yeast making gluten free bread. This recipe actually came out of my making bread with old dead yeast by mistake, and having used too much baking powder. The bread actually turned out great. I've modified the original approach after some more experiments. Hope you like it.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F, put two bread pans into oven to heat. When you take pans out to fill you coat pans with oil or butter. I use Pam.

  • 3 cups gluten-free flour 
  • 1 tbsp xanthan gum 
  • 2 tbsp baking powder (this is for 6,000 ft elevation, increase as needed for lower elevation, optional to put powder in last because it reacts immediately to create air, too much mixing and air is lost)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (or milk substitute, or water)
  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 2 or 3 eggs depending upon size (1/2 cup pumpkin can be a substitute) 
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, and the 4 tablespoons sugar.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and splash guard mix the eggs, milk, olive oil, and optional vinegar.  Beat for a few seconds to combine.  Slowly add the flour mixture.  Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Separate the mixture into two parts for two loaves; place into preheated and oiled loaves pans. Cook for 22 to 30 minutes. Turn if the top is looking unevenly cooked.  Makes two-1 pound loafs. 
Two one pound loaves, slightly burnt on top.

Feel free to comment, share experiences at different elevations. Thanks. Hope this helps.

One two pound loaf.

Two one pound loaves made with pumpkin instead of eggs.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Gluten free corn muffins with some chilies for heat

Gluten Free Corn Bread Muffins w/Chilies for Heat

  • 1 Cup corn meal
  • 1 Cup gluten free flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Cup milk
  • ¼ Cup butter (4 tablespoons)
  • 3 Eggs (or 1 egg and 1/3 cup pumpkin mix, not pie)
Reduce these next ingredients as desired:
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup honey or agave
  • your choice of chilies

Heat comes from fresh cooked chilies. Choose your preferred ingredient from warm to very hot: 1 hatch pepper; or 2 jalapeño; or 1 habanero; or 1 habanero plus 1 jalapeño. I cut off the top, clean out the seeds and center ridges, then dice into small 1/4" pieces, except for the habanero which I make into tiny pieces. They go into a skillet with one half of the butter and cook for as long as it takes the oven to heat up to 400 degrees F (be sure not to let any smoke or steam from cooking the chilies get into your eyes). 

The empty muffin pan is placed into the 400 degree F oven, coated with your choice of Pam, olive oil, or your preferred method so that the muffins pop out after cooking.

Dry ingredients are stirred into a mixing bowl, corn meal, gluten free flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Wet ingredients go into another bowl, milk, eggs (pumpkin), honey or agave and half the melted butter. When ready, mix the dry and wet ingredients. The baking powder will start to react. Mix in the cooked chilies of choice with butter, then while continuing to stir pour complete mixture into the hot muffin pan which has been taken out of the oven and coated again if needed.

Place into oven for 10 to 15 minutes, rotate once (I live at 6,000 feet elevation and takes ~12 minutes). Makes 12 muffins. Some people like a little honey on top. After cooling you can keep the muffins in a Tupperware container for a few days. Clean your hands thoroughly after any contact with the chilies or muffins. And be sure to share with others who eat gluten free. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Terratrike Idler Ripped Off and Inexpensive Solution

Terratrike Idler Ripped Off and Inexpensive Solution
by Joe McCabe Sept 2015

Picked up a used '08 Terratrike Tour in 2011 and put a few thousand miles on it.  Have been pleased with it as an addition to my road bike and hybrid bike for trails. Recently I was trying to power up over a curb and tore off the boom idler. Don't know if it was torn off due to bottoming out on the curb, or because I put so much tension on the chain that the idler was torqued off. Either way, it was sitting on the ground before the curb (See Photo:1). Moral of that part of the story is don't try to use a recumbent trike like a BMX bike, Doh!
Photo 1: Torn Off Idler on Floor Below Boom

I thought my jury-rigged solution might help someone who might find themselves in the same situation. Eventually I will need to try and re-weld the lugs back onto the boom. But for now, this PVC and hose clamp solution seems to be working. Below (Photo:2) is shown an image of the solution. I used a 1-1/4" with 1/2" tee PVC fitting, cut it in half and screwed an additional 1/2" threaded fitting into the tee for density. Cut the tee in half and placed it onto the boom in the exact location where the idler was ripped. The 1-1/4" diameter PVC seems a bit small for the boom, but it stretches out when the hose-clamps tighten down. This is important because that unit needs to be snug, tight, or the chain under tension will rip it off, twist it, and make this worthless. I used a wrench to tighten the stainless steel hose clamps down as much as possible without stripping. Drilled a hole in the 1/2" PVC fitting coming off the tee and the original bolt for the idler was inserted. I used one less red lug in the final assemble than the original on the recumbent so that the self-locking nut would have some threads to bite (PVC>Red Lug>Spacer>Sprocket Idler>Spacer>Return Idler>Self-Locking Nut).

Photo 2: Terratrike Idler with PVC and Hose-clamp Retrofit

Here is another blog on how to make and install a low cost fairing for the Terratrike. And here is a blog entry on the electrification of the recumbent. Hope these help someone. Feel free to comment.

Update photo, PVC didn't last long. Now there is a motorcycle exhaust clamp that is working.

Photo 3: Motorcycle Exhaust Clamp holding idler.