Shared posts

01 Aug 16:22

Dungeon Guide for Administrative Assistant Quest by David A. Banks

This quest begins when Your Superior walks up to your desk anytime between 4:30 and 5:01 pm. He will ask you to print out eleven reports double-sided black and white, bind them in three-ring binders that have “those transparent slide-y things on the cover” and print out color cover sheets on card stock paper. There’s a timer on this quest. You’ll need to finish this by 2:45 pm the next day. AlI characters will tell you different times so you should record this in your Quest Journal for later reference.

Begin the quest by printing out the reports using the second-to-last version that was emailed to you last Wednesday. Using the latest version results in having to reprint pages 7 and 8 for all of the reports and you will be unable to complete the quest in time unless you have the Amulet of Convincing Computer Crashes. (If you have this equipped, use it when Your Superior incorrectly claims that the meeting starts at 2 pm.)

Once you have the reports printed, you’ll need to access the three-ring binders. Unlike previous quests, which directed you to Storage Closet 3, you will need to access the locked Meeting Room Storage Closet A. Go to Human Resources and ask Sherryl first. She will tell you that she has the key to the meeting room but not the storage closet. Accept the offer to get the key to the meeting room and head back to the meeting room.

Once in the meeting room, try to open Storage Closet A just as Lawrence walks by. He will notice that you are trying to get into the closet and open it for you. If you take the red three-ring binders you will activate the Avoid ‘Office Supplies Missing’ Meeting side quest. The blue three-ring binders will give you +2 to Synergy and the black ones will give you +2 to Self-Direction. Choose whichever you are missing from your résumé.

Go back to your desk and put the three-ring binders in a desk drawer, otherwise Dave will steal one. When you attempt to print the color cover sheets you’ll be presented with 25 arcane printer names. Only one printer, Fujitsiu Photocopier 3 (not hooked up to print via CUPS), has the card stock you need. You will have to solve the printer naming code puzzle in order to choose the correct printer with the card stock. Three wrong tries will result in getting a memo from IT and your printing access will be revoked.

The correct printer name is derived from the formula PRINTER BRAND/INK OPTIONS/OFFICE SECTION NUMBER/NAME OF PERSON THAT SET UP THE PRINTER – YEAR THEIR FAVORITE BASEBALL TEAM WON THE WORLD SERIES. You can find the office section number and the names of the various IT people that set up the printers on the wall of the server room in the basement. You should have found this in the Help Boss Use Outlook side quest.

If you are printing on the first day of the quest use FUJ-COL-3/KEVIN-93. If you’re printing on the day that it is due, the copier will be out of order and you will have to print to your default printer and then walk all the way over to Fujitsiu Photocopier 3 and make a color copy on the correct paper stock.

Once you’ve completed the printing, you have to find the New Three-Hole Punch that used to be near the copy station. Go ask Anne if she saw who took it. She will tell you it is not her job to babysit the office supplies. At this point you have three dialogue options. If you reply with “EAT SHIT ANNE, I’VE HAD A LONG DAY,” she will reveal a secret three-hole punch but you’ll be required to pay an extra $30 for an expensive lunch during the Requisite Working Lunch Meeting quest. Selecting “Oh, okay, sorry.” and then talking to Jordan two desks down will reveal the hole-punch. Selecting “I’m sorry, I just thought you’d be a decent human being and help me out” will cause the break room to run out of K-cups during the boss fight.

(Note: Anne is susceptible to pleading attacks. If you cast level 6 ignorance she will usually give you a hint for the quest, but this will reduce future dialogue options unless you have the Cloak of Small Talk.)

Return the key to Sherryl by placing it on her desk while she’s at lunch. Otherwise, she will ask what you are doing this weekend and you will have to play the Weekend Work Social Obligations side quest which will cost you $60 and force you to attend a baby shower on a Saturday morning. (This will decrease your charisma by 3.)

Play the Assemble the Reports mini-game. If you get more than 5 paper cuts you will bleed on the reports, lose the game and have to start over. Complete the mini-game by 2:45 and bring the reports to Conference Room A. There you will find Your Superior who will tell you that the meeting has moved upstairs to Conference Room C but no one knows the room has changed. Make two signs for the room change and make sure to put the second one on the back door that attaches to the administrative office suite or The Boss will blame you for missing the meeting.

After making the signs bring the reports to Conference Room C. Make sure to avoid Dave by walking by his desk while he’s looking at porn. If Dave catches you he will shoot you with a Nerf gun and your wisdom will drop by 2 points for the next half hour, raising your probability of repeating what someone else has already said in the meeting. When you get to Conference Room C sit in one of the seats along the wall. If you downloaded the Zynga DLC you can play Words With Friends while the meeting takes place.

Once the meeting is over Your Superior will reward you with Mild Appreciation and a Rush Job, which will give you immunity against four of Dave’s ‘Workaholics Impression’ Attack.

27 Jul 17:12

Dirty Words: The Naked Truth About Marla Streb

by Sal Ruibal

Marla Streb: scientist, classical pianist, downhill racer, cross-country racer, all-around bad ass and the Mountain Biking Hall of Fame.

By Sal Ruibal

One of the great things about mountain biking is that you can talk about the “good ol’ old days” and they happened just a few years ago. The hardtail mountain bike is a time machine that’s stuck on 1991. The dinosaurs still walk among us.

The men and women who first discovered that fire could weld metal tubes into a gizmo that would take you to places both physical and metaphysical might live down your street, if you live in Santa Rosa or Marin. I can go to East Coast races and see Gunnar Shogren and wife Betsy still ripping away wins from kids just out of college.

Beneath all of that is the ethos of constant progression. Who would have thought that 26-inch wheels would be extinct before Ned Overend?

But I come not to praise the past, but to honor the present. Today’s present was seeing an email from the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame that said my friend Marla Streb was selected to the 2014 Hall of Fame. Marla has won races that go up, races that go down, races that get lost in jungles and emerge on the gritty streets of Baltimore.

Kids can tell her kids that, “Yo Mamma manuals like a monkey on marshmallows.” I’ve seen Marla Streb get hit by a car, roll over onto the street, change the bent wheel and proceed to ride into my local woods and come out 20 minutes later with 30 people I’ve never met riding behind her.

Yes, she has a closet full of medals and championship jerseys and yadda-yadda-yadda.

This photo originally appeared in Outside Magazine. A whole lot of people bought that issue. That kind of explains itself...

Every year there is a new champion, but every year Marla is somewhere, somehow showing somebody how to ride a bike. She sailed to Costa Rica to show the Ticos how to build trails in the jungle for a mountain bike resort that will bring gringo dollars to their towns.

The craziest thing she ever did (that I know of) was to pose buck naked for a Yeti poster. Crazy like a foxy fox. I have a lot of bike posters, medals and memorabilia in my basement bike room, but the first thing anyone notices is the huge photo of a gorgeous woman with an amazing, athletic body flying on a mountain bike.

Who wouldn’t want to ride with her?

Cross-country racing has gone stale. A bunch of skinny euros Frooming around on three-pound 29ers with 45 psi of helium in their tires.

Mountain biking needs more Marlas. Marla was freeriding when she thought she was just riding back to the house. She rides downhill like it was flat and like flat when it is uphill. She’s a scientist (not like that meth lab guy) and a classical pianist.

So let me rejoice in the fact that my friend Marla is now a neighbor in the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. Come up and see our two-dimensional selves in Crested Butte some time. She’ll be the naked one.

27 Jul 15:18

Santa Cruz police collect your stolen bikes

by Richard Masoner

When the Santa Cruz police department recover a bicycle from one of our local ne-er-do-wells, they try to reconnect the property with its rightful owner. Since nobody ever reports their stolen bikes or register their bikes, however, the bikes sit in the police warehouse for 90 days until they’re disposed of or donated.

Recovered stolen bicycles Santa Cruz police

The police collect so many bikes with unidentified owners, however, that they have to dump them into the overflow storage area.

Recovered stolen bicycles Santa Cruz police

But even that’s not enough, and they overflow out into the parking lot.

Recovered stolen bicycles Santa Cruz police

Santa Cruz police say they have recovered over 500 bicycles this year, most of which cannot be reunited with the owner because nobody registers their bikes or reports them stolen. When they are reported stolen, nobody had bothered to look up the serial number until it’s too late!

The simple takeaway: Record a good description of your bicycle(s), including (especially!) the serial number, and keep it in a safe place! Flop your bicycle over, clean the grime from the numbers inscribed on the bottom of the frame between the pedal cranks, take a picture of those numbers and email that photo to yourself. Do not publish your serial numbers; keep it private, because I’ve heard some miscreants will take that serial number, file a stolen bike report, and then claim that bike belongs to them!

The Santa Cruz police have some more interesting information about their experience with bike thefts over at their blog.

27 Jul 15:11

#thefeels Dog sees Dad after being gone over 6 months (by...


Dog sees Dad after being gone over 6 months (by icecat8301)

27 Jul 15:01

Overnighter on Tam



This was the final shakedown run before the CT. Morgan and Mark drove to Mill Valley and rode up to Pantoll in the afternoon to assure we got a spot in the campground since it fills so quickly in the summer months. I worked until 6 and left directly from the shop. Hit the other side of the bridge and got out of the wind (which sucked majorly the whole damn way across the span). I decided that in the interest of time I’d take the road out to Tennessee Valley rd and then poach some fire road (it was cold and foggy, very little chance to piss someone off, which meets all my requirements for poaching a trail) along the coast out to Muir Beach to meet with Morgan and Mark.


Started up Coastal and immediately ran into the damn fog again. I did, however, get a nice view of TN Beach and Valley before my ascent into nothingness. 



Pedaled for a while and saw more people than I thought I would so I chickened out of the poached route and headed up the legal version (which added some time and elevation…bummer). I forgot how disorienting fog can be. Riding up a trail I’ve ridden probably 10 times before was a completely different experience when I couldn’t see more than 20 feet in any direction. Up a couple more hills, a couple more false summits, then down some steep fireroad and finally I arrived here:


Since it took me so long to get to this point, Morgan and Mark had made the decision to try and beat the impending darkness and headed up the mountain ahead of me. I grabbed some water from the hose at the Pelican Inn and headed off. I decided to take the safe route and avoid riding up HWY1 solo since it was getting dark and visibility was less than perfect. I rode into Muir Woods and hopped on a trail that will remain nameless due to it’s less-than-legitimate nature. After riding into the darkness and back into the fog, I met up with Coastal Trail and made the turn up towards Pantoll. 


Night riding always messes with my brain a bit. Starring into the tunnel of light 15 feet in front of my tire get’s my mind doing weird things. I had not, however, experienced night riding in the fog…quite a different thing entirely. The tunnel of light is amplified by the fog and feels even more lonely. In the middle of going over this thought in my head and about twenty minutes into the climb, something jumped across the trail in front of my headlight beam, just close enough that I could clearly see that it was larger than a squirrel. Definitely startled the hell out of me and my mind went immediately to “holy shit, that was probably a mountain lion.” After 30 seconds of internal argument over the real-world chances of this ACTUALLY being a mountain lion, I decided that it was indeed NOT a mountain lion and that I was being an idiot and that I should just get the hell back to riding my bike and get to camp. I believe the main motivator was the pint of bourbon in my seat pack, but I can’t be sure. Long story short, I made it to camp, boiled some water, ate some ramen/potato/bacon concoction, and drank some whiskey. Tarps were pitched, sleeping bags were weaseled into, slumber was enjoyed by all. 



Next morning I was up before, what seemed like at least, anyone else in the entire camp. I made some coffee and wandered around a bit.


 While enjoying some delicious (read: not that delicious, but convenient and packable) Foldgers coffee crystals I noticed a flock of these assholes roaming about:


I watched them make a meal out of our neighbors groceries and contemplated shooing them away. I decided that if you were dumb enough to leave your food out overnight when there is a food locker NEXT TO YOU PICNIC TABLE you probably deserve to have your shit ransacked by winged assholes. Anyways, ate breakfast, loaded the bikes, and rolled. 


Hit Coastal on the way down and ran smack into the middle of a trail running race. 


Why these folks were running down Coastal and not Dipsea was confusing. But nevertheless we gave our brakes a nice workout and kept speeds close to running pace so as not to piss anyone off. 

Hit HWY1 at the bottom of the trail and cruised towards a fun little cutoff into Muir Beach to avoid to descent on 1 which was socked in with fog, not that it’s ever really a safe place to ride a bike. Plus, when given the option of dirt or pavement, one should always choose dirt. 



We met a rather unfriendly fellow along the way who told us we were ruining his town or something. It always seems like the people who yell at cyclists are the ones who need to ride a bike the most: fat, lazy, and unhappy. Oh well, my day undoubtedly ruled a lot harder than his. Hit the bottom of Dias Ridge and spun our way back towards the inland.


Once the unpleasant climb was over we cruised through a few groups of very nice hikers and what looked like a group of college kids on a class outing. We decided to take a little offshoot and immediately got somewhat lost. Luckily there was a nice woman in trail running attire who was more than willing to point us in the right direction and give us a few tips on which trails were more fun than others. We parted ways as she waited for a running partner and we found the first of the singletracks she had mentioned. Down we went. 


After minutes of discussing what that little circular sign actually meant we decided to turn left rather and straight. No reason to piss off anyone in Marin County right now with all the trail use legality bullshit they’re going through. Through some trees, a good amount of easy hike-a-bike, and we were back to civilization (not that we were really ever out of it in the first place, but it sounds cool to say we were).


Burritos were purchased by Morgan as Mark and I figured a way to mount my Jones to the roof without a 135mm rack adapter…what we came up with was truly a work of genius. Combine the intelligence of a doctor with the practicality of bicycle mechanic and you get…


A haphazardly strapped and lashed bicycle on a roof rack. For what it’s worth, it was solid a hell and didn’t move an inch on the drive home. 

Great, albeit quick, little trip. I always forget how awesome our backyard is here in the Bay Area. Thanks Morgan and Mark for an awesome time. Next up: Colorado Trail in two weeks. See ya there!

That’s it. Longest goddamn post ever. Hope I didn’t clog up too much of your feed. Thanks for reading.


20 Jul 05:24

No charges for driver who Jerry Browned Palo Alto boy

by Richard Masoner

What does it take for the Santa Clara attorney to file charges against somebody who runs down a 12 year old boy on a bike?

12 year old Sebastian Lerrick was on his way to school at 7:19 a.m. when Hau’s Nissan Quest struck him from behind, breaking his bicycle frame in two and damaging the Nissan’s front bumper, hood and windshield. The boy was wearing a bike helmet, but he sustained a leg and wrist fracture, a broken jaw, broken teeth and brain swelling, according to a police report. He still suffers traumatic brain injuries, resulting in physical, cognitive, psychological and emotional issues.

Luis Felipe Hau was allegedly speeding down a narrow, bike-laned street with a suspended license, the sun in his eyes and meth in his blood when he steered his Nissan Quest minivan into the boy, resulting in disabling injuries for the boy.

Apparently even this bar is too high; the Santa Clara Attorney’s office declined to bring charges because they feel this case is not winnable in court.

Go ahead and drive like a maniac; the Santa Clara attorney’s office says it’s okay.

Hau’s actions did not constitute reckless driving under the law, [Supervising Deputy District Attorney Cindy Hendrickson] said.

“We could not find a single case where similar driving was found to be ‘reckless.’ The evidence here supports at most a finding that the driver violated two California vehicle codes: unsafe speed for the conditions, assuming the sun impaired the driver’s vision and the safe speed was therefore 0 mph; and improper driving in a bike lane.

Details in the the Palo Alto online.

20 Jul 04:32

Sagan is a baller.  Sagan - Wheelie en Alpe d’Huez - Tour...

Sagan is a baller. 

Sagan - Wheelie en Alpe d’Huez - Tour 2013.

17 Jul 04:32

The Renovations That Up Your Home's Value (and the Ones That Don't)

by Tessa Miller

The Renovations That Up Your Home's Value (and the Ones That Don't)

Is digging up the backyard to put in a pool worth it? What about upgrading a tired-looking kitchen with gleaming marble countertops? And what about installing high-tech speakers—throughout the house? If you’re planning to renovate your home, you may already be asking yourself these questions. But when it comes to increasing your home’s appraisal value, the answer to them isn’t always a resounding yes.



16 Jul 04:44

Elon Musk calls for feedback on bullet train alternative ‘the Hyperloop’

by Christina Farr


California’s cities may be trailing behind when it comes to public transportation. But soon we may be home to “the Hyperloop,” a transport method so futuristic and cool that Tokyo’s levitating high-speed trains will lose their luster.

Resident entrepreneur Elon Musk has been hinting for months at plans for the Hyperloop. The goal is to transport travelers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in a mere 30 minutes.

The Hyperloop is designed as an alternative to the bullet train with no reservation system — passengers can just show up and board.

Today, Musk tweeted today that he’s open to feedback on the project, and he clarified that he will not pursue a patent. Musk is the South African-American founder of SpaceX and cofounder of Tesla and Paypal — and he does not entertain small ideas.

Will publish Hyperloop alpha design by Aug 12. Critical feedback for improvements would be much appreciated.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 15, 2013

Musk intends to push forward with plans next month, but it’s still not clear how the Hyperloop will work. He has hinted that the Hyperloop won’t be affected by weather, so it may run in an enclosed capsule.

In a rare public appearance at a recent tech conference, he described the Hyperloop as a cross between a “Concorde, a railgun, and an air hockey table.” He added, “Even if I’m wrong about the economic assumptions behind the hyperloop, it would be a really fun ride.”

Musk’s visionary leadership and bold ideas have engendered frequent comparisons to Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs. More on his future plans here.

One of the most in-depth explanations comes from writer Brian Dobson, who suggests it may be a “pneumatic transport system (PTS) in the form of a closed tube that loops between Los Angeles and San Francisco.”

Travelers would ride in a capsule at around 621 miles per hour with very little air drag.

Cool, right? What are your thoughts on the Hyperloop? How will the physics work? Let us know in the comment section below.

Filed under: Business

13 Jul 17:36

Friday Five: Carving Turns - The patent-pending B.A.T.H.E technique to turning

by Seb Kemp

By Seb Kemp

Corners are the cornerstone of mountain biking (*vomits* sorry, I couldn’t help myself). Get them right and everything becomes a little easier. Fail to master them and everything on the trail will be a little harder.

No two corners are precisely the same but these five basic pointers, based on the patent-pending Zero Wash Out Methodology, might help you carve curves a little bit more confidently. The worst thing that can happen on a corner is that you wash out and hit the ground. The answer to this is to B.A.T.H.E. (Brake – Angulation – Twist – Hands – Extension).

Again, this week we have the lovely Candace Shadley of the Trek Dirt Series on board to show us how to corner smoother, safer and maybe faster.

Look up, see the corner, consider the appropriate entry speed and slow down early, while riding toward the corner, rather than when you are in the corner.

Stirling Moss once said ‘It’s not how fast you go into the corner that counts, but rather how fast you leave it.’ Slower in can mean faster out.

Braking before the corner, and then releasing the brakes throughout the turn, lets both your bike and body perform at their best.

In some situations it might be necessary to drag your brakes through the corner to control your speed (you’ll often need to do this on descending turns for instance) but make sure before enter the corner that your speed is reduced to what it needs to be. Sudden braking during a turn will force the bike to stand up, force you to correct your body position and can lead to a loss of traction as your wheels fight to slow down and turn at the same time. It is like rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time, it makes things complicated. So slow down in a straight line well before the turn.

Lean your bike but not your body. Counterbalance with your body, keeping your weight over the tires.

We generally steer our bike by leaning it (as opposed to by turning the front wheel as we might do in a tight switchback corner); you lean your bike and counterbalance with your body.

Bikes can be angulated pretty aggressively, and as long as you don’t lean over with the bike you won’t fall over. Try this in a car park at first. Coast along at a steady speed then turn by gently angling the bike while keeping your bodyweight centered over the tires.

Unlike MotoGP racers we should not be leaning into the corner with our body, and certainly never leaning our body over more than the bike. Unlike fire-breathing motorbikes, mountain bikes are much lighter than our own body weight and we are moving relatively slowly, so to generate traction we must get our weight directly over the tires. Remember applied weight equals traction.

There are exceptions to angulating like this (for example, if you are going really fast on bermed trails) but for most corners this technique is going to help minimize the chances of you wiping out.

Point your flashlight (or your headlights if you are a lady) in the direction you want to turn.

Twisting your body into the bike (screwing down into the bike and in the direction of the turn) gives you a lower center of gravity, which makes you more stable and gives you space to angulate the bike more. Sometimes I tell people that if they had paint on their tires they’d be trying to make the darkest line possible in the corner by pushing their weight into the bike and the tires. Weight equals traction if applied correctly.

Imagine a laser beam coming straight out of your belly button and trying to shine it towards the exit of the turn. If you have angulated the bike enough your bottom should stick out over the outside of your bike, too.

The twist is the component of this technique that really makes a big difference to many riders. This subtle move helps you see the exit earlier, gets your body weight over the tires more (your booty should hang out directly over the tires), lowers your center of gravity (useful when changing direction) and helps drive weight into the correct hand when turning, which is the next point…

Angulate the bike, twist towards the exit of the turn and place more pressure on the outside grip as you bring it across your body.

Weight equals traction, so the more you press, the more grip you will generate. However, you have to be pressing in the right spots at the right time. When cornering, get your weight forward and attempt to press more weight through the grip on the top hand when the bike is angulated.

Pressure control (the act of weighting and unweighting various parts of the bike throughout maneuvers) in the hands is essential. When you angulate the bike bring the outside hand (this changes, obviously, depending on the direction of the turn) toward your midline and as you twist drive your shoulder into what will become the uppermost hand. As you angulate the bike the top hand will be more closely lined up over the tire contact patch. Weight this hand more because it will drive your body weight into the tires. A strong component of this is creating a strong frame with your upper body with your elbows out.

Getting your shoulders over the bars will really help with this. It is understandable that newer, shyer riders will tend to slink off the back of the bike, afraid of what is ahead of them, and fall over. However, this is what compounds the problem. The less weight you place over the front tire, the more likely it is to wash out. Weight equals traction.

Despite what some advice says do not push most on the lowest (or inside) grip. You will end up on your face more than you want by doing this. Pushing on the lowest grip pushes the tire tread outward, not down, and increases the likelihood of washing out the front wheel. Think about an imaginary line running between the two contact patches of your tires and keep your weight directly over that line.

Try this simple demonstration:
Stand over your bike (feet on the ground for now) and angulate (aka lean) it to one side. Now push on the handlebar grip that is closest to the ground. What happened? It slid out, right?

Now start over again. Angulate the bike in the same direction but this time push on the upper grip. The wheel doesn’t shift does it? Keep pushing harder. Even try using both hands. This gives you an indicator of the correct hand to weight when cornering.

Standing at the exit of the corner, you can clearly see how much Candace is twisting. Her eyes, shoulders and bellybutton are pointing to the exit of the turn and the bike will follow

This is usually only appropriate for riders who have mastered the previous steps in the technique. Don’t rush to get to this point. The previous steps are more important to get right.

When you feel more confident with your cornering, start to drive even more traction to the tires toward the exit of the turn by pushing through your feet powerfully. You should be screwed into your bike anyway (step three: twist), so as you unscrew and straighten the bike upright, in one fluid movement try pushing yourself up to neutral position with a powerful push through the heels of your feet. This should drive more traction to your tires but also generate some momentum and bring you to the neutral position quickly, ready for the next corner or obstacle.

Here Candace is pressing deeply into her bike as she twists, building up traction and potential energy to allow her to burst from the corner with precision and power.

Here you can see she has used that potential energy to press firmly through her heels, extending her body back to a near-neutral position and straightening the bike for the next trail obstacle.


The Order Of Things:
Remember that we are trying to spell out the word Bathe and to do so correctly means putting the letters in the right order. In the same way, twisting first and braking last might get you all discombobulated. Find a simple easy corner that you can session over and over again, and as you ride through it (quite slowly at first) spell out the stages out loud. B-A-T-H-E! BRAKE-ANGULATE-TWIST-HANDS-EXTENSION

Master each stage of the B.A.T.H.E technique before moving on to the next.

You will go wherever you look. So always look up to be able to see a corner (or other obstacle) early, prepare for it, then reach your eyes through the corner to find the exit.

Often, riders ask whether they should keep their pedals level or drop the outside foot. The answer is that it could be either. It’s helpful to at least start with flat pedals, maybe you’ll then decide that having the outside foot drop works better for you in different situations (especially flat corners) or maybe not.

No two corners are the same. However, these are a few elementary techniques that are consistent and which can make your riding more enjoyable. Different corners might require a slight change in timing and execution, but the five stages of B.A.T.H.E. will help.

Some people refer to this skill as ‘high-speed cornering,’ however this is somewhat misleading as you don’t have to be moving at high speed to benefit from this technique. However, this does differ slightly from very slow-speed turns (switchbacks, for instance) when more steering is initiated by turning the handlebars and remaining a little more upright. That is a technique for another time.

Here is a video that, Endless Biking and I produced last year. It might be easier to see the technique in action.

Hey Coach! Ep. 1 – Cornering from on Vimeo.


Candace Shadley and the Trek Dirt Series

Candace Shadley is the founder and director of the Trek Dirt Series Mountain Bike Camps, a women’s only and co-ed mountain bike education experience. The program was started in 2001 and they now run an average of 18 instructional camps per season throughout North America. Since starting they’ve taught nearly 9000 participants.

Seb Kemp

Bike Magazine’s Gun For Hire is also a certified mountain bike skills coach and before he joined Bike he worked for the Whistler Bike Park and well as guiding and coaching clients throughout BC, New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden and Nepal. Seb believes that both writing and coaching are, in fact, very similar roles – both require information to be broken down and communicated clearly and concisely. In an attempt to simplify coaching techniques Seb learned to strip back the skills to their core elements and designed a series word games or visual clues related to each technique that make them easier to learn and remember. We will be revealing some of these throughout Friday Five, however, there is no replacement for hiring a good coach and getting some first hand guidance and feedback.

13 Jul 16:56

Canadian Team Creates Operational Human-Powered Helicopter

by Kimber Streams

pretty cool

Canadian design team AeroVelo has successfully won the American Helicopter Society’s $250,000 Sikorsky Prize — which was first established 33 years ago in 1980 — with the Atlas human-powered helicopter. The winning flight on June 13th lasted 64.1 seconds and reached an altitude of 3.3 meters (nearly eleven feet) and is shown in this video along with footage of the vehicle’s earlier test flights.

via The Wall Street Journal, Wired

13 Jul 05:25

The Makers of Things, Documentary Series on an English Model Engineering Society

by EDW Lynch

“The Makers of Things” is a fascinating series of short documentaries about the Society of Model and Experimental Engineers, a London-based organization of hobbyists and model engineers that was founded in 1898. Its members make everything from wooden furniture to miniature steam locomotives. The series was created by London filmmaker Anne Hollowday.

submitted via Laughing Squid Tips

13 Jul 04:06

Weekend Watching: Mondo Hollywood (1967)

by Dave

A documentary directed by Robert Carl Cohen and “described by Variety as a “flippy, trippy psychedelic guide to Hollywood”.” This is awesome, watch it.


12 Jul 05:19

The Case of the Missing Human Ancestor (

12 Jul 04:18

Hey programmers, we need to talk (

12 Jul 03:52

It's a strange and confusing world

by Shaun Usher

In October 1974, as he lay on his death bed at the end of a battle with cancer and reflected on his past, Clyde S. Shield (pictured above) wrote the following heartfelt letter to his 3-week-old grandson and offered some poignant advice for the road ahead. 30 years previous, Clyde had played a significant role in World War II, having first taken to the air immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor in a valiant attempt to fight off the Japanese, and then, some time later, as lead test pilot during the Manhattan Project—a project during which the atomic bombs that ultimately devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and ended the war, were developed. His military career was a particularly illustrious one.

His proud grandson said of the letter in 2011:
"It has meant different things to me at different times in my life [...] Anytime I am struggling, in tough times or having to make a big decision, it is something I always come back to."
Full transcript follows; images of the remaining pages are here.

(Source: imgur, as kindly recommended by Mark; Image above: Clyde S. Shield via

Dallas, Texas
7 October, 1974


I doubt this letter will mean too much to you now – you can't even focus your eyes, yet, but maybe, years hence, it may mean something to you. So, I hope your father and mother will keep this for you until it does mean a little more to you.

You may or may not get to know me – your Grandfather – that is in someone else's hands. But just in case you do not – I'd like to leave a few ideas with you. Ideas, I may say, that I tried to germinate in your father's mind with varying degrees of success.

To begin with you are very welcome to this sad, tattered and abused old world. We really haven't done a very good job of preserving it for you. On the contrary we have plundered it of its wealth of minerals and oils, polluted its streams and even the very air we depend on for the very breath of our lives – and we've done this with our eyes wide open and with the knowledge that we were doing it! How we explain this, I really don't know except to say that I, for one, am sorry for it.

We have not learned, even, to live with our fellow men. Instead we have perfected more means to annihilate him – to wipe him (and ourselves) from the face of the Earth.

We produce record crops of grains and other foodstuffs, but still much of the world goes to bed on empty stomachs and thousands starve to death every day.

It's a strange and confusing world we leave to you. I only hope you can do a better job with it than we have done.

But, in spite of what I've said, there is much, in life to enjoy – to relish. There is also much that can be done to make life worth while and living worth the "candle." There is a rich heritage of literature and music that awaits your investigation – it's there for the taking – in the libraries of the country and in the archives of the museums. There is poetry and prose – enough to fill all the hours you can spare to listen to them and more knowledge, on every conceivable subject, than you can assimilate in a lifetime. It's all there just waiting for you to ask for it or to seek it out. Don't overlook it or pass it up for less important or less meaningful pastimes.

Most important of all is ability to savor life, to taste of it in as many variances as you can – while you can. Life never looks so short as when you look back on it. Unfortunately you cannot do this until it has passed you by. So, as you go through life, don't overlook the "Lily in the Field," the newborn puppy, the fledgling bird – for they are as much (or more) of life as the tall buildings, the shiny automobiles and the possessions we tend to place so much importance upon. If you can do just this much – life will be more meaningful for you.

When your Dad was born I was busy playing soldier, World War II was history – but recent history – and in which I had a small part. But then I lacked both the knowledge and the wisdom that comes from experience. Now, at 56, I think of what I might have done – and didn't. But all of us are blessed with "20/20" hindsight.

If I could package (with ribbon) those gifts that I would most like to give you, I would. But how do you package integrity, how do you wrap honesty, what kind of paper for a sense of humor, what ribbon for inquisitiveness?

But, since there is no way I can give you any of those things, I can in this year of your birth, wish that you will find some wisdom and some guidance from these words, and, perhaps my wish for a bright new life for you will, eventually, come to reality. At least I hope so – with all my heart.


RSS Feed proudly sponsored by TinyLetter, a simple newsletter service for people with something to say.
12 Jul 03:40

How Does a Transistor Work, A Video Explaining the Science Behind Much of Modern Technology

by Kimber Streams

In “How Does a Transistor Work?Veritasium explains how the technology behind transistor radios, televisions, mobile phones, satellites, and much of modern technology actually works.

Our lives depend on this device. When I mentioned to people that I was doing a video on transistors, they would say “as in a transistor radio?” Yes! That’s exactly what I mean, but it goes so much deeper than that. After the transistor was invented in 1947 one of the first available consumer technologies it was applied to was radios, so they could be made portable and higher quality. Hence the line in ‘Brown-eyed Girl’ – “going down to the old mine with a transistor radio.”

But more important to our lives today, the transistor made possible the microcomputer revolution, and hence the Internet, and also TVs, mobile phones, fancy washing machines, dishwashers, calculators, satellites, projectors etc. etc. A transistor is based on semiconductor material, usually silicon, which is ‘doped’ with impurities to carefully change its electrical properties. These n and p-type semiconductors are then put together in different configurations to achieve a desired electrical result. And in the case of the transistor, this is to make a tiny electrical switch. These switches are then connected together to perform computations, store information, and basically make everything electrical work intelligently.

via Adafruit Industries

11 Jul 03:31


09 Jul 05:33

truckee > tinker knob (1 | 5)

by erik




backcountry portal

tinker knob in the distance




afternoon thunderstorms kept company on the climb









storms over I80

heading the other way
07 Jul 00:22

Interview: Dave Weagle, suspension designer

by Josh Patterson

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then suspension designer Dave Weagle has a number of admirers, some of whom he’s been locked in costly legal battles with. Weagle freely admits that he didn’t know what he was getting into when he started developing his now famed dw-link system - he just wanted to build a better mountain bike.

BikeRadar caught up with Weagle at the recent launch of the Salsa Cycles Spearfish and Horsethief, both of which now feature his Split Pivot suspension design. We picked his brain about his recent legal battles with Trek and Giant, how he works with companies to integrate his suspension systems into their bikes, and what motivates him to keep developing new designs.

There are a number of similar and sometimes conflicting suspension designs on the market. Are there a finite number of ways to make mountain bike suspension work?

There are a lot of ways to make suspension work in general, but there aren’t a lot of ways to make it work within the structure of a bicycle. It’s difficult when you have a person involved and you have to fit that person to the machine - it makes things tricky.

The litigation side is brutal. It’s probably the worst thing I’ve ever gone through in my life. I hate everything about patents. I hate the patent system, but I can’t change it. I have to work within it. It gets insanely convoluted when you get into the litigation process.

As a small company it’s incredibly difficult to enforce patents. In this business, if I want to continue to have a business I have to do something, I have to protect something. I only protect my most worthwhile ideas; even then it’s extremely costly and time consuming.

Split pivot uses a rear pivot concentric to the rear axle to increase the range of suspension tuning options available to a single-pivot suspension: Trek's abp system also uses concentric axle pivot, which makes it very similar to weagle's split pivot:

Weagle's Split Pivot and Trek's ABP systems both use concentric rear axle pivots

There are many dual-link bikes out there from a number of companies. In your opinion, how many do you feel are skirting or infringing upon what you’ve done?

I think that’s a good way to put it. I think there are a lot of them that are ‘skirting’ what I’ve done, or trying to make a ‘me too’ bike.

It’s funny, when you start looking at some of them, some of those dual-link bikes are closer in terms of function to Split Pivot than a dw-link bike. The axle path curvature really doesn’t change all that much throughout the stroke of the travel. For a dw-link bike, a millimeter or two is worlds of difference in terms of performance.

Weagle's dw-link is licensed by ibis, pivot and turner: weagle's dw-link is licensed by ibis, pivot and turnerGiant's maestro link functions much like weagle's dw-link; weagle is currently suing giant for patent infringement and breach of contract: giant's maestro link functions much like weagle's dw-link; weagle is currently suing giant for patent infringement and breach of contract

The dw-link and Giant Maestro systems are functionally very similar

Here’s another battle of sorts - Split Pivot versus dw-link. Is one better than the other? Do they have different strengths and weaknesses?

They’re both incredibly capable systems. Every bike is a compromise. In the bicycle industry I think people think ‘compromise’ is a dirty word. Some companies might be like, “We have no compromises.” That’s bullshit - suspension is all about compromise. Geometry, fit and feel are all about compromise. If you can’t admit that then you have no idea what you’re doing, because that’s the reality.

I look at each bike on its own merits. We design for feel. I sit down with the companies and discuss feel. For example, an Ibis Ripley; the desired feel is probably closer to the 80mm Salsa Spearfish than it is to the 120mm Salsa Horsethief. I really try to boil it down to the desired trail feel.

How do you start working with a company to integrate one of your suspension systems into their bike line? What’s the development process like?

We start off riding their existing product - product they are comfortable with or product they are interested in - and talk about how it rides. We develop a language of feel and break it down to different parts of the travel, different situations. Sometimes it’s not even real words. Sometimes it’s like, ‘Clack, clack, clack!’ As a rider, you kind of know what that means.

When comparing dw-link bikes from different brands, it seems as though they have different feels from one brand to another.

Each company has its own vision for what the bikes should be. It’s the combination of everything: pivot placement, dampers, etc. It comes down to how we want a bike to attack corners, how we want it to handle square-edge bumps. Do we want it to be firmer or more plush?

Do you spend a lot of time working with specific athletes to refine your designs?

On request I do. When you have a guy like Stevie Smith (who is at the top of the sport) I do because I want them to succeed. If I can help Steve pull a tenth of a second off of his run, that’s awesome. It’s actually easier than designing a trail bike for a wide range of riders. I know how he rides. I can run data on the bike and I can build the bike to suit.

If you were designing a bike for yourself what sort of feel would you prioritize?

I think it’s a lot of the things I’ve prioritized in dw-link and Split Pivot designs. For me, I definitely look for cornering support. I definitely want the bike to be efficient out of the saddle.

I want geometry to be lower, slacker, longer. I grew up riding motocross and I love downhill bikes - that’s the side of the sport that I cut my teeth on. I ride my cross-country bikes like I ride my downhill bikes. For me, I’m just trying to have fun out there and get a little rowdy on the trail.

Weagle's designs seek to balance the attributes that make riding most enjoyable

You have three suspension designs on the market: dw-link, Split Pivot and Delta. Why develop competing suspension setups?

Because I can. It’s my passion. You can’t ask a painter to stop painting. I think there’s still a lot of real estate out there. I have other designs I’ve developed and haven’t brought to market.

It seems as though your designs have led to a sea change in how companies approach suspension design. They’ve certainly introduced the phrase “anti squat” into the parlance of mountain bikers. 

I think that, over the past five years, there’s been a mass realization that the kinematics of suspension are a really efficient way to extract performance from a bicycle.

We went through the whole platform damper phase and that’s kind of fading out. Some companies are still doing it, but most are realizing that the best way to do this is to use the kinematics of the bike and let the damper do its job separately.

It’s asinine to me that you would choose to use a bunch of low-speed compression to slow the suspension down when you’re accelerating, because then you are drastically over-damped when you’re coasting. It’s a terrible compromise.

One of your constraints is that you’re working within the confines of existing damper technology. If you were to create a new shock from the ground up to work with your suspension designs, what would it look like? How would it be different?

I would simplify it significantly. We don’t need all those bells and whistles.

Is there a project you’ve worked on that you’re most proud of?

The Orion project. It’s a motorcycle project I’ve been working on. I actually developed a prototype, but I didn’t finish building it because I spent all my money on stupid litigation. But now I’m working with a specific company on it.

Can you say which motorcycle company you’re partnered with?

No, but it’s pretty awesome.

What do you want your lasting impact on the sport of mountain biking to be?

I hope I’ve helped people to enjoy the trail more. Everyone can benefit from more traction. Everyone can benefit from more confidence and not having to mess around with more levers. I hope some of the things that I’ve done have helped to push the industry in a direction that’s more positive.


06 Jul 03:42

A return guest speaker tonight down here in The Near-Sighted...

A return guest speaker tonight down here in The Near-Sighted Monkey Lounge. We buy him as many juice boxes as he wants. We just want to keep listening.

06 Jul 01:01

Things Come Apart

by Scott

Ja-party VLTM12
1600x1200 (1)
1600x1200 (2)
todd-mclellan-things-come-apart-04 (1)
Object autopsies from Todd McLellan’s book Things Come Apart. No idea how he got those exploded views but they’re incredible.

Via Wired

Permalink | Comment On This Post (7) | Tweet This Post | Add to | Stumbleupon
Post tags: Books, Photography, Products, things come apart, todd mclellan

06 Jul 00:46

Sarah Silverman "I’m Going To Change Your Life Forever" - Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee by Jerry Seinfeld

05 Jul 23:38

Destroying a leg

by Scott

It all came together perfectly.

BLM increased the flow in the Gunnison Gorge to simulate a spring runoff.

Kurt was wrapping up his big tour in Durango.

Mike dropped me an email. Packraft the Gunni Gorge, tomorrow?

I dropped Kurt a text – want to float the Gunni Gorge tomorrow? He was somewhere up on Indian Trail ridge when I sent that. “Sure” was his reply.

I missed out last time, with a bum knee preventing me from doing the hike down to the river. Not this time. I had seen photos and video from Mike that made the Gunnison Gorge an absolute must-do. I didn’t ask any questions, just knew I was in for whatever it entailed.

really? we’re going down there?

I had vaguely recalled talk of a couple mile hike down. Enough that I couldn’t fathom it a few weeks ago. But I figured I could fumble my way through it this time.

As we entered Black Canyon National Park Mike began describing the day, eventually admitting we weren’t doing the easy approach — that this hike down was the crux of the day. He described how he and Doom had first done it with snow, and that Doom had said it was the sketchiest “climbing” he had done all year. Hiking poles were recommended, as well as grabbing onto any and all vegetation possible.

There’s a bit of trail, then it’s just a route down a gully, heading straight down to the river, losing several thousand feet. It’s pretty amazing this kind of travel is sanctioned in a National Park. Even more amazing that these routes down to the river exist, and don’t get cliffed out.

I made a strategy error. I favored my bad knee all the way down. Why? Because it still hurt. I couldn’t support myself with just it. So my good leg did all the work. And work it was — and sweating we were, all from a downhill hike. It was brilliant.

It was a relief to finally get near the river, and the cold water was calling me, ever so loudly.

Putting the pack in packrafts! This was the first time I’d used one to run a stretch of river otherwise completely inaccessible to other craft.

We aired up the boats and readied ourselves for some rapid fun. I fooled myself into believing that the hike down really was the crux. I knew it wasn’t, of course, but it was useful to believe that before we put in. That way the roar of the water below us didn’t redline my heartrate… yet.

We were off and scouting very quickly. Nothing too serious, but enough that lines needed to be examined. Especially for river newbs.

Mike showed us how it’s done, going first and making it look smooth enough that we were tempted to give it a run.

Only Kurt ran this one, and he ran it well. It was early enough in the day that Skippy and I decided to not risk a swim.

The twenty mile run had a very nice flow to it. Calm sections would only last a few minutes, leading to rapids that required attention, followed by a few more minutes of calm.

During the calm our heads would be spinning, trying to take in all we were experiencing in this deep and mysterious canyon. I think this is the aspect of running rivers I enjoy most — the unique perspective and means to see places otherwise impossible to access. Dodging boulders and getting adrenaline spikes is fun and all, but there are many ways to achieve that. There’s only one way to see the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

Speaking of adrenaline: the last rapid, a class 4 (not that I understand what that actually means!). Kurt and I watched Mike and Skippy roll off the drop and pop up still afloat. I couldn’t see where Kurt was readying himself, since I had missed the first eddy for the scout. As I pushed off from the rocks, I saw Kurt in front of me. “I’ll follow him,” I thought, stalling a second, then going for it. There was a lot to negotiate, especially to hammer over to the far wall from my last ditch eddy. I dug in hard and made the turn, rounding a boulder just as I caught a glimpse of the drop. I looked at the pool below it, in the split second I had, and saw Kurt’s boat, upside down, but no Kurt. Not good. Better pay attention or you’re going to end up upside down in the water too, dummy! I paddled as actively as I could, came too close for comfort to the wall, then hit the drop at what Mike had described as the correct angle. Sure enough, the drop flipped me about 30 degrees, which had me going off it straight. Woo hoo!

As soon as I could focus on anything else, I saw Kurt’s boat again, and could see his head floating along side it. He swam off to an eddy and got himself back together, shivering the whole time.

Two rapids later, and twenty yards from the last flat water to the take out, I was dodging boulders and riding waves just as I had been doing all day. Then, before I realized what had happened, my brain realized, “Ummm, we’re upside down and underwater here!” “Not good.” “Issue new command!” Uhhh, kick and swim! I was very quickly out of the boat and next to it, head above water. I lost the paddle, and my dry bag. I swam to the side and stood up in an awkward spot, then realizing that I couldn’t really see anything. Uh oh, my contacts are gone. But, I was fine otherwise. Blinking around I thought they may have just rolled back on my eyes, and pushing them down I got some sight back. OK, no dry bag. Mike signaled to let my boat go — he’d catch it. I could then scramble backwards over some rocks to look for my paddle and dry bag. They were circulating in an eddy. Just as I thought my dry bag was going for a ride down the river it spun around and shot right back to me.

Adrenaline. Near life experience. It was pretty awesome.

As we floated the last miles, feet dangling over the edges of the rafts, Skippy summed up the day, “I like doing rescuing, not being the one rescued.” We owe both Mike and Skippy for their patience and the amazing opportunity. We wrapped up the day with a lot of driving and a divine DQ blizzard, just as the video promised.

I summed up the aftermath of the day – “I’m not sure what’s going to be sore tomorrow, but I think it may be more a question of what’s *not* sore.”

Sure enough, I was pretty worked over, especially my good leg, which grew to be as sore as I have ever experienced. I made the call to skip the Durango Dirty Century after a painful and sloppy rim trail ride. Kurt went on to scorch the DDC for 3rd place, tour legs, Gunni Hike and all.

Eszter and I went to go explore Engineer Mountain instead.

More accurately, I climbed a while with her, then turned off to do a shorter ride. Pedaling was weak, and downhill very difficult. My leg was destroyed.

Leg destroyed, trail divine.

I kept expecting the singletrack to get steep, choppy, brake bumped, rutted, or something, but it was nothing but a pleasure cruise all the way down.

When Eszter came down from the same trail, she was bubbling and asking me what front tire I had. “Do you still have a Rampage? A Rampage?! I really hope you got to ride that trail, that was the best!” New favorite trail in Colorado. :)

So good, we went back the next day to climb it. It’s pretty dang climbable, but still steep enough to cause suffering for those of us in less than showroom condition.

backside of Engineer

Small price to pay for where it takes you.

Land of rainbows and unicorns.

And acrobatic caterpillars, spinning themselves a cocoon. This guy was hanging right in the Engine Creek trail, where we watched him do his dance, slowly growing his ball of fuzz as he went.

We’ll definitely be back to Engineer, hopefully many times over the rest of the summer. Luckily an extremely sore leg heals much faster than a bashed knee. A small price to pay for a memorable day in the Gunnison Gorge.

05 Jul 19:13




Ibis Cycles resident Artist Chris McNally doing his thing.

05 Jul 00:24

Merckx Mondays! (by John Prolly)

Merckx Mondays! (by John Prolly)

05 Jul 00:18

Wild Ass Tour days 6,7

by doom

I wouldn't normally bore my readers with a, bland dude riding up a hill shot, like this. Butt......take a look at the seat configuration.....  Shortly after returning to our stashed bikes on the morning of day 6, Jon's fat wild ass broke his seat post. Yep, sheared it right off at the seat collar. This would not be that big of a deal, except we were smack in the middle of our trip, and nowhere near a bike shop... With several stokes of luck, not the least of which was having a cell signal, calls were put out, and it looked like Mama Doom would meet us the next night, with (hopefully) the right size seat post. Until then, Jon would ride with his sleeping pad strapped to the seat, to help boost it's height. Not cool......We had a long way to go!

 I'm not sure if it was the seat post thing, or some sort of hallucination, but I swear JB's facial expression went through some dramatic changes over the course of the day.

 Our goal on day 6 was to ride up to the top of the large bench above the hole in the rock area, stash the bikes at the lake trail head, and then once again head out on foot. This time up, up, and up to the top of the Fifty Mile Mnt area, and more specifically the plentiful springs in the area, where we could replenish our always shrinking supply of water.

 This is the old Griffin Cabin above the Lake Th. It's in the middle of nowhere, and was also the middle of some of the more dramatic controversy surrounding the Grand Staircase of the Escalante National Monument. Seems like the Griffin's had a good thing going and the NM pretty much shut down their 3rd generation cattle grazing lands up on Fifty Mile.  The whole town of Escalante 50 miles to the north, was violently opposed to NM status change. Things got so bad that President Clinton held the opening ceremonies in neighboring Arizona due to security concerns.

There are still FBI warning signs near the cabin. Premises under constant FBI surveillance, ect...
This did not deter us from spending a couple hours hacking off the handle of an old posthole digger to make an insert for Jon's seatpost!!

We pretty much got "cowboy" on that ol' post hole digger, precisely hacking off an 8 inch piece with a bent steak knife, and two broken rusty ax heads.

I have to wonder who will find this note, and when?

We made our way back down to the bikes where the real wood working project started. We now had to size down the hickory stick to fit the inside diameter of the seat post. This job took about an hour or so. And was completed using my pocket knife like a chisel, and a rock to strike precise blows.
This  vid (my first, and rough) should make you piss your pants! Especially if you shotgun a beer, or 3 first.

hickory stick about to get the desert beatdown

Here it is after a full day of washboard riding on the hole in the rock road. It's still perfect and could have made the rest of the tour, had our rescue post from Mama Doom not actually fit.  Thanks Mama Doom!!!!
30 Jun 17:21

Summertime Festivals | Old Faithful Shop

04 Jun 00:03

On the cusp.

by MC
Cessation of wind +

(rapidly) increasing temps +

glowing globemallow +

(rapidly!) dwindling numbers of tourists = 


There is a certain finality to that statement if you count yourself among us desert dwellers.

The translucent glow of yellow, purple, orange, or pink flowers is a welcome sign, a cause even for celebration (water! and sun!) but also a harbinger of...


Heat, in a word.  

Our next three months are consistently hot by almost any standard.  Surviving, even thriving is easy in this modern world, but we do so always with an eye toward fall.  The shoulder seasons are what make summer tolerable here.

Please enjoy a few hundred thousand pixels illustrating how, and even a bit of why, we've enjoyed the last moments of spring.


Hope that you have, in your own way and place, been doing a lot of the same.

Thanks for checkin' in.

01 Jun 04:41

Video: Continuous Integration for Your Puppet Code

by Mike Hall

Matthew Barr of Snap Interactive gave a great talk at Puppet Camp New York about bringing continuous integration (CI) tools and practices to Puppet code. It’s a good introduction to the ways you can manage the automation of your infrastructure in a safe, reliable manner.

Matthew started his talk with a reference to our own Adrien Thebo’s blog post about using Git with Puppet environments. Environments provide a way to break up your Puppet installation into multiple configurations. With Puppet environments, it’s easier to create development, testing and production configurations, or isolate configurations by roles, such as database servers or web servers.

Since Git branches are cheap, Matthew noted, they’re a natural way to store Puppet environments in a CI environment: One branch per development stage.

Alongside Git in the core toolchain Matthew discussed is Jenkins, an open source CI server that makes it easy to apply automated tests to a codebase.

Getting Jenkins set up is made easier with R. Tyler Croy’s Jenkins Puppet Module, which automates Jenkins’ installation and configuration. You can also use the module to install Jenkins plugins, including a Jenkins plugin that builds pull requests in Github and reports the results.

Static Analysis

The first stage of Matthew’s Puppet/CI workflow involves performing static analysis against incoming Git commits. The tools he mentioned include:

The static analysis tools validate the basic syntax of your Puppet manifests and erb templates, then make sure they’re in line with recommended style by catching whitespace errors and other issues that might not cause Puppet code to fail, but could make it harder to maintain.

Module Testing

The next stage in Matthew’s workflow involves module testing. With rspec-puppet tool, Puppet code can be tested in greater depth: Issues with more complex logic or Hiera data sources are surfaced during this stage.

Catalog Testing

Once the Puppet code is validated and tested, it moves on to catalog testing. At this stage, Jenkins jobs are running shell scripts that update the repository under test from Github, then attempt to compile a Puppet catalog against a set of Facter facts.

Where previous stages in the CI process can catch more formal issues with logic or style, catalog testing can catch dependency loops or missing modules, variables or facts.

Dynamic Analysis

Having moved through a number of Jenkins jobs that test your Puppet code in isolation, Matthew’s workflow moves on to dynamic analysis. This is a stage where virtualization helps, because the Puppet code must be deployed to running systems.

During dynamic analysis, testing is centered around making sure the target systems themselves will work with your Puppet code: Missing packages, or problematic configuration files that might break a service in production are caught at this stage.

Integration Testing

Once your Puppet code has been validated in isolation and in virtual environments that match what your code would encounter in product, the next step in the workflow involves integration testing.

Matthew said he uses integration testing to check critical functionality on each system to make sure necessary services are running, applications are responding as expected, and that key resources such as databases are present on the system.

He said tests don’t have to be complex. Jenkins can work with anything that can return a “0″ for success or a non-zero value for failure. A simple script that uses curl to pull down a web page, for instance, can serve as a Jenkins integration test.

Nightly Rebuilds

Once everything makes its way through testing, Matthew said it’s important to perform nightly rebuilds in order to have confidence that you can redeploy your Puppet-managed infrastructure in an emergency.

Nightly rebuilds check for dynamic factors outside your Puppet code: Updated package repositories, changed or updated packages, altered kickstart files, or other elements Puppet isn’t directly controlling.


And there’s the purpose of the whole workflow, which is deployment to production. Matt’s talk covered the use of canary servers doing “noop” and live puppet runs before merging the Puppet code and doing a full deployment.

If you’d like a look at some tooling Matthew himself has produced, he’s published his puppet-ci module on the Puppet Forge.