July, 2005

  • Eric Gunnerson's Compendium

    Fat Cyclist gets a new gig...


    My wife and I have both been reading The Fat Cyclist, and he's now started writing a column for cyclingnews.

    His first entry is 2005 Tour de France Final Exam with Elden Nelson


  • Eric Gunnerson's Compendium

    The common desk


    Not sure where I got this from:

    The Common Desk

  • Eric Gunnerson's Compendium



    Last week I bought and set up hosting for BicycleClimbs.com. Thanks to all that recommended hosting services - I ended up at webhost4life, and it's been pretty painless so fair, with good tech support when I've needed it.

    The site is a slightly-improved version of my original site - the display now includes a list of climbs (expanded), and I've added an RSS feed that lists the climbs, so you can find out when new ones are added.

    I plan on doing dynamic generation of the pages in the future, when I get some free time to figure things out. How do you generate an XML file from within ASP.NET, anyway?

    I've also looked at Virtual Earth, but haven't seen an API show up yet.

  • Eric Gunnerson's Compendium

    C# team goals for the next year


    Scott Wiltamuth, PUM for the C# team (and my ex-manager), has posted his goals for the next year, and is asking for feedback from the C# community.

  • Eric Gunnerson's Compendium

    Fizik Microtex Bar Tape (yellow)


    Last week, I ordered some of Fizik's high tech bar tape, the kind with the gel inserts under the panel. It was to replace the blue bar tape that probably looked okay on the stock Trek color scheme, but didn't look so good with the red/yellow scheme.

    So, I ordered the yellow color so as to coordinate the color with the bike.

    It showed up a couple of days ago. Hmm. Color names are obviously open to discussion, but I wouldn't call it yellow. Not even close. A quick check this morning wity my available color standards showed that it's not even close to banana yellow, but it is quite close to granny smith apple green (really).

    A brief discussion with my spouse confirmed that estimation, and also established that she'd be okay if I put the pads on her Trek aluminum bike, where they are probably more necessary than my bike. 'specially since her bar tape needs to be replaced.

  • Eric Gunnerson's Compendium

    ASP.NET hosting solutions...


    I'm looking for a low-cost provider with decent quality - something around 1G of disk, ASP.NET, and SQL server database included.

    Recommendations, or providers to avoid?

  • Eric Gunnerson's Compendium

    Tricks you can play on yourself, #35


    I use on of the Belkin dual-head KVM switches on my main dev machine, but it doesn't work for setup, so I keep a separate USB keyboard hooked to the system.

    This morning, the system began to send "-" characters uncontrollably. I did a bunch of checking - it didn't happen on my Longhorn machine, rebooting didn't help, cycling the KVM switch didn't help.

    Turns out that during a meeting, a notepad got moved over on top of the keyboard, which dutifully sent me all the minus signs I could handle.

  • Eric Gunnerson's Compendium

    Bio for my new book


    When I first started writing columns for MSDN, my author bio was pretty dry. But, over time, I started to play around with it a bit. For example, in one of my columns, I ended the bio with:

    He's been programming long enough that he knows what 8-inch diskettes are and could once mount tapes with one hand.

    or, from another one:

    In his spare time, he's preparing a monograph on the rise of cross-dressing vis-à-vis the 1970s sketch comedy.


    In his spare time, he's pursuing a doctorate in cat juggling with a concentration in Persians.

    I hope that at least somebody in my audience understands the reference.

    Nobody ever said anything about those little blurbs, even when I wrote:

    He wonders if anybody ever reads this bio.

    Did any of you ever read them? If so, please add a comment.

    Anyway, for the book, Apress asked me for an updated bio, and here's what I wrote:

    After nearly a decade of programming at companies focusing on aerospace, databases, and bankruptcy, Eric was somewhat surprised to find himself working at Microsoft. He was test lead for the Visual C++ compiler for several years, and then became the test lead and joined the language design team for the language that was eventually named C#. After the first release of Visual C#, he experimented with the Program Manager role both on and off the language design team. He is currently a developer on the Windows Movie Maker team.

    He blogs at http://blogs.msdn.com/ericgu, where he specializes in bad jokes, uninteresting and/or off-topic links, and the occasional nugget of C#-related content.


    In his spare time, he enjoys skiing, cycling, home improvement, microcontroller-based holiday decorations, pinball, Halo 2, and writing about himself in the third person.

  • Eric Gunnerson's Compendium

    Bicycle Adventures Columbia Gorge Family Tour


    Our vacation was, to put it succinctly, fabulous. Bicycle Adventures did a great job, our guides were great, and we had lots of fun. While some of their other tours require more bicycling ability, you could do the Columbia Gorge Family Tour even if you aren't in great bike shape, as the low end is around 80 miles for the week (actually, the low end is zero miles - you can ride in the van the whole time if you'd like, but that kindof defeats the purpose of the vacation).

    This is a multi-sport vacation - while you do ride 4 out of 5 days, we also got in a morning of white-water rafting, an afternoon of windsurfing, and a night of stargazing. In this tour, you stay in real accomodations (ie no camping), and eat well. This was the inaugural edition of this tour as a family tour (there's an "adult" version with more mileage), and we were about split between adults and children, with the youngest kid being 5, and the oldest being 17. One family is from Seattle, one from Southern California, one from Houston, and another from back east.

    I took my Trek, and my wife and daughter took their Burley Duet tandem. Though they took really good care of my bike, I'd consider my rain bike if I did it again, as having your pretty new bike go up and down on top of the van multiple times tends to increase your anxiety level a bit.

    We drove down to Portland on Sunday and stayed at McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale, east of Portland. This hotel was originally a poor farm, and now features European-style rooms (ie there's no bathrooom "en suite", as they say on the continent (well, technically, I've never heard them say that)), and a 8 pounds of funkiness stuffed into a 5 pound bag, in the form of pubs, wine tasting, and lots of artwork.

    Monday, we got picked up by the BA van, loaded some other passengers, and headed over to Washington to climb Beacon Rock. Well, to be fair, "walk up" is a better term for how we assaulted this 600 foot monster - "climb" should be reserved for those who climb the rock. Great views. We ate lunch at a nearby campground (sandwiches), and then vanned over to our first drop-off point for our ride for the day. This set up a typical pattern - ride in the van someplace, get out the bikes, ride to somewhere else, often for lunch, but not always. The ride was mostly downhill (as most of the rides were), and about 14 miles in length.  Our destination was the Flying L Ranch, our home for the next few days. After securing spousal approval, I rabbited off the front and rode most of the way to the ranch, realized that Kim and Sam would not be happy with the headwind, turned around, and went back and pulled them into town. Here's a typical example of the views that you are subjected to on this ride:  

    That's Mount Adams, one of the nicer Cascade volcanos. It used to be overshadowed by its neighbor to the west because of the startling symmetry of the neighbor, now it is still overshadowed because of the neighbor's fiery reputation.

    Adams is one of my favorite mountains. Not as big as Rainier, but very nice to look at. If you turned around at this point, you might be able to see the tip of Mount Hood peeking over the hills, if you managed not to be blown off your bicycle at that point.

    The Flying L is a great place to stay - except for a couple of other guests, we had the whole ranch to ourselves, and were able to hang out, get to know each other, and relax while looking at the mountain.

    That night the local astronomy club brought by two of their nice scopes, and we did some stargazing. The conditions unfortunately weren't great - we could see Jupiter and the Galilean moons, but they were a bit fuzzy. I did see the Ring Nebula for the first time, helped out by the on-board index of deep sky objects built into the scope.

    Tuesday morning, we vanned to Zoller's Outdoor Odysseys for our rafting trip down the White Salmon River (which, due to a dam, is unfortunately devoid of its namesake), a class 3-4 river (a detail which I include to sound impressive). Zoller's is located on the banks above the gorge, so after getting wet-suited, helmeted, and some brief instructions, we headed down about 100 steep steps to the boat. I'd never been rafting before - I swim very well, but haven't wanted to risk losing my contacts and/or deal with the hassle of dealing with my very thick glasses - so I was wondering how things would go. After 5 minutes of instruction from our guide, we pushed off, and were in the rapids. While the forward momentum that you provide by paddling is important to the guide, the real reason that you do it is to keep your mind off of what you're about to do. This trip does not disappoint - lots of rapids, and we lost one child overboard for about 35 seconds. Near the bottom of the run, you have the option of going over a 15' waterfall if you're an adult. We shuffled kids to get rafts full of adults, and headed out. You paddle hard for a few seconds, the guide says, "down and hold on", you sit in the bottom of the raft, go over the waterfall and...

    Well, things get a bit hazy at that point, but the result ends up with an enormous amount of water in the still-right-side-up boat. I'm in the middle on the left side in the pictures.

    After the waterfall, there were a few more small rapids, where our guide Casey tried to toss the two fathers out of the boat (I teetered on the edge as I heard the other father fall in), and then a boring but tranquil float to the pull-out point. Highly recommended.

    This brings us to one of the great features of this tour. When we've gone to vacation in Hawaii, after we got there, you have to decide what activities you want to do, and then pay for them individually. On this tour, however, the activities are paid for up front, so the cost doesn't intrude into the experience. I've noticed the same effect with a ski pass - it hurts to pay up front, but when you actually go up, the cost doesn't detract from the experience.

    Wednesday is a transit day - we headed across the Columbia into Oregon, and on a short ride to the east to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center. The ride is about 15 miles, with a few reasonable climbs, and a tail wind. That's fine, until you hit it as a 20MPH sidewind. The tandem does fine, but the Trek gets really squirrely, and I need to slow down quite a bit through that section. After lunch, we head back to the hotel - the Hood River Inn - for the optional wind surfing lesson. Kim begs off because her back has been bothering her, but Sam and I go in for the three hour lesson. You start with a simulation session on the land, then you learn to do a 180 turn on the water, then you get your own rig.

    At least, that's the theory. What really happens is you do the simulator part, you do one 180 turn, and then you spend a couple of hours flirting with competence while not actually ever reaching it. This was complicated by the 20 MPH wind with gusts that differed across the course, but it's mostly due to my lack of skills. I did, however, get really good at pulling up the sail. After a couple of hours, my shins were bruised and I lacked the motor control to go much further, though I was still quite good at the falling off part.

    Lots of fun... But... I need another hobby like I need a hole in the head.

    Thursday took us up onto the northern flanks of Mount Hood, for about a 20 mile ride down to lunch. After a few climbs - on an optional loop - I started the descent, with about 20 minutes at over 25MPH, and 10 minutes over 30MPH. A nice descent, but the valley we rode into was about 90 degrees, so it was a little tiring to get into lunch. And, due to unforeseen circumstances, the pool at the park was closed, so instead of playing in the pool, the kids got to ride another 20 miles. Fine for me, but everybody else was a bit toasted.

    That night, the kids went with two of the guides for pizza and ice cream, and the adults to a nice restaurant in Hood river for adult food.

    Friday found us up on Mount Hood for one last ride, this time a bit to the West. Another nice descent, plus an ugly (and optional) loop with about a 12% climb in it, and then lunch in the park. Afterwards, a quick stop at Multnomah falls, and then home.

  • Eric Gunnerson's Compendium

    Trailercycles for the Serious Cyclist


    Trailercycles (aka tagalongs) - the single-wheel vehicle that attaches to a normal bicycle - have become pretty popular in the past few years.

    I looked at a few of these, and we settled on the Burley Piccolo, because:

    • It attaches to a rack, and pivots above the rear axle. This means it has less effect on handling than the kind that attach to the seatpost.
    • It has gears, so the child can actually help out.
    • It has good adjustment in seat and handlebars.
    • It has good resale value, because it's from Burley.

    We got an extra rack, so we could easily swap between bikes. The downside of the Piccolo is the cost, at more than $300. When we were done with our's, I think we sold it for $175.

  • Eric Gunnerson's Compendium

    Gorge is also a noun


    I'm taking next week off, going on a cycling tour along the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon (well, between Oregon and Washington).

    We had considered going back to Maui - which I love - but decided to go for something different this year. This is one of those "ease into it" cycling tours - the riding is really pretty minimal (15 miles/day) and you don't camp. This does make it quite a bit pricier than versions where you camp, but considering what airfare, lodging and food cost in Hawaii, I'm sure it will be cheaper in the long run.

    My wife and daughter will be on their Burley Tandem, for their first big ride of the year (they would have done the 25 mile Flying Wheels route, but softball got in the way).

  • Eric Gunnerson's Compendium

    What Eric's been doing...


    ...is none of your business. At least that's the answer I got a while back - I'm not currently at liberty to tell you much about what I've been doing. With any luck, as Longhorn gets closer to shipping, we will reach a point when I'll be able to tell you a bit more.

    To tell the truth, for the last 4 or 5 weeks I've mostly been fixing bugs. Some of them are problems with my code, some of them are changes in the way controls appear and/or are laid out, some are due to changes/enhancements coming in Longhorn, and others are due to some recalcitrant code that I use (not Win32, though that is also recalcitrant).

    I'm in at work today to get a checkin done (Whidbey beta1 expired Friday, and I had to reinstall), and to get my laptop updated (Whidbey Beta1 expired...)

  • Eric Gunnerson's Compendium

    New Recommendations for Using Strings in Microsoft .NET 2.0


    String comparisons are one of those topics that seem easy when you start, and then gets more and more complicated as you delve into it. Just be happy if you don't have to deal with internationalization...

    Via Rico, a great set of recommendations from Dave Fetterman.

  • Eric Gunnerson's Compendium

    The Fleet type Submarine


    Back when I was but a lad, I was a bit a of a WWII buff, and read through most of the WWII books available in my library. I always found the ones about submarines to be especially interesting, because of the stealth and bravery required. The US submarine force was pivotal to winning in the Pacific (and the German U-Boat force made things very hard in the Atlantic), accounting for the majority of the Japanese ships sunk during the war.

    Today on Boing Boing, I came across a link to the "The Fleet Type Submarine Online", which is a set of Navy instruction manuals from just after WWII. If you want to know what it was like to be a sonar operator, or how the engines work, this is a great reference.

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