Friday, June 26, 2009

Ten Commandments of the Paceline

Riding in a group is a lot of fun, and working together any group can ride consistently faster than a single rider on their own simply because it is more efficient. But only if the riders stays together - and that is why it is called a group ride. IT IS NOT A RACE. Riding in a group as if it were a race is NOT SAFE.

Because of the mixed abilities of riders it is not always possible to keep a group together. Yet, it is a simple courtesy to re-group at appropriate points during the ride, and for stronger riders to pull off and drop back to help gapped riders bridge up on long stretches.

There are many rules of the road that will take time for new riders (whether strong or not) to learn, but the following "10 Commandments of the Paceline" are generally agreed as the basics for proper paceline etiquette:



Thou shalt MAKE NO SUDDEN MOVES, neither by SURGING AHEAD, nor by BRAKING, yea neither left nor right.

Thou shalt LEAD with STEADY TEMPO, neither slowing before nor whilst pulling off, nor ever soft pedaling downhill.

Thou shalt EVER HAVE an ESCAPE route.

Thou shalt WATCH MORE than the wheel in front of thou.


Thou shalt PULL THROUGH, if second wheel.


Thou shalt CONTROL thy EGO.

Thou shalt strive to PULL OFF INTO THE WIND and DRIFT BACK TO THE END of the line.

Thou shalt strive to keep thy followers out of the gutter.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wonderful Rub for Aches & Pains

Someone on my father's side of the family wrote this down. It is a recipe for a home remedy for "aches and pains", most likely for rheumatism, since almost any list of home remedies for rheumatism contains alcohol mixed with mint oils, chloroform, etc. I don't know if this works, but whoever wrote this thought it was a "wonderful rub", and so it must have been:

1 pint of rubbing alcohol
4 ounces wintergreen mint oil
30 Bayer aspirin

Friday, June 19, 2009

There's Not Enough iPhones to Circle the Earth

Piper Jaffray's senior analyst Gene Munster thinks it's going to be a good weekend for Apple as companies in 8 countries roll out the iPhone 3G S today. Yet will it be good enough?

Analysts expect half a million units will be sold today. That's a fine mess of finger-sliding real estate (actually about half an acre of touch screen mess-ness), but hardly enough to have any kind of global impact - at least not in a strictly geospatial sense. How many iPhones has Apple sold? How many iPhones would it take to circle the earth? Clearly these are VERY IMPORTANT questions! Well not really...but wouldn't you like to know?

The first iPhones were sold on June 29, 2007, and 3G sales started a year later on July 11, 2008. Today you can buy a 3G S. According to Aayush Arya (, 03/24/2009), Apple sold 13.7 million units in 2008, for a total of 17 million iPhones. Using data from Wikipedia by March 30, 2009 Apple had sold 21.17 million iPhones.

The iPhone measures 4.5 inches in height by 2.4 inches in width and by 0.48 inches thick, so 21.17 million iPhones, laid end-to-end would measure about 95 million inches, which works out to be 1503 miles. This figure depicts the range, or how far out from Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California you could go by laying all these iPhones end-to-end. It's a long way, but it won't reach around the world.

The trend for iPhone sales is positive, so using the data I wanted to find out when there would be enough iPhones to reach all the way around the world. With ZunZun, an online curve fitting resource, I was able to fit this data with a second order polynomial with good results (the model estimated that Apple would have sold a total of 2.7 million iPhones by March 30, compared to 2.2 million that were actually sold). Here's what the fitted curve looks like:

Along the X-axis are the number of days since the the iPhone was launched, and the Y-axis represents the total number of iPhones sold. Here are the estimated parameters for the 2nd order polynomial trend line:

With this information you can work out the estimated total number of iPhones sold at any given time. For example, by June 30, 2009 (the 732nd day since the iPhone launched) the model estimates that Apple will have sold a total of 2.76 million units. My guess is the number will be a little higher because of the hype associated with the 3G-S. Even so, consider that the Earth has a circumference of about 24,902 miles. So we're going to need 350,620,160 iPhones laid end-on-end just to get close. That's a lot of iPhones, right?

The model predicts that by the end of 2019 Apple will have sold more than 342 million iPhones, and the big day comes just a few weeks later. On January 16th, 2019, on the day that Ernest Shackleton discovered the magnetic South Pole, Apple will have sold enough iPhones to circumscribe the globe. In the meantime we'll just have to cool our jets, playing flightcontrol and waiting for the next update.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Visualizing with Wordle

I was playing around with Wordle this evening. "Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes."

What I like about the web site is that one doesn't have to register to add content to the public gallery. Just type in your username when you submit a wordle.

I did five projects right away. The first was Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. This was followd by the abdication speech of King Edward VIII, Richard Nixon's resignation speech, and then two Hello World projects, one for ANSI-C and one in Assembler. By the way, I also created a wordle using the text of this blog post. Nifty, huh?

Monday, June 1, 2009

How many beans are in a pound of coffee

I'm intent on finding out. What got me interested in this was a recent TWIT podcast that highlighted Wolfram Alpha, which aims to "make all systematic knowledge immediately computable...", yet a search for How many coffee beans are in pound of coffee turned up nothing. So does anyone have any idea? My last "pound" of coffee (they sell 12 oz "pounds" at Starbucks) was pre-ground, so I'm going to have to wait until I have beans before I can start my research. I'm guessing that moisture content is important.

In the's some anecdotal evidence from ground coffee to get things started: I measured a coffee scoop (2 TBS) of ground Starbucks Kenya and it weighed 9.5 grams - enough to make two cups of coffee. Now 9.5 grams is 0.335 ounces, and since there are 16 ounces in a pound (yes there are - don't interrupt me, SBUX), then there are 47.761 scoops in one pound. But we're talking Starbucks that would be 35.8 scoops of coffee in a Starbucks "pound" - enough to make almost nine 8-cup pots of coffee.