Archive for December, 2009

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Cycling 2009 And Into 2010

Thursday December 31, 2009

The last day of the year and naturally I’m looking back at all elements of my life over the past twelve months.

2009 was a pretty good year for me and my cycling.  Got up to quite a bit and bought my second new bike in less than a year (the Trek, February).  There were quite a few cycling-related purchases as I continued to kit up with cycling gear as my interest grew in the pastime.

Ride-wise, I completed a 77mile ride to London’s Hyde Park and back, began my Rochester Challenge and took the Dahon across The Channel to Calais – amongst others.

The last couple of months of ’09 have been pretty quiet though primarily due to weather and work which is quite depressing but in 2010 I’m going to fight both inhibitors and get out more.

There are no major cycling purchase planned for 2010, I thinking I’ve now bought all I need and I’m running out of storage space – that definitely rules out a third bike!!!

We’ll see what the new year brings…

Good luck to everyone for a great year of cycling in 2010 (and of life in general).

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The Trek, 70mph Top Speed

Tuesday December 29, 2009

The Trek hit 70mph over the weekend!  On the back of the car!

I headed over to Pembrokeshire for Christmas and took the Trek on the back of the car using my Saris Bones 3 cycle carrier.  It worked really well and held the bike securely for the 300 mile journey, mainly at motorway speeds.  It was definitely a good purchase and at £50 via eBay I couldn’t really go wrong.

It was the first time that I’d needed to use the carrier since buying it so I experimented with the fitting during the day before the journey.  It’s simple to fit and should fit most cars.

I unfortunately didn’t get around to using the bike though during the four day visit due to a mixture of the weather, beer and too much food.  Oh well, at least I know the carrier works well.

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Merry Christmas

Friday December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas everyone!

I hope you all have a great day with family and friends and I hope there’s a couple of cycling-related gifts under the tree.

🙂

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Snow Tyres

Tuesday December 22, 2009

SpikesIf I’d had the time this week to get out and ride then I’d definitely have needed some spike tyres like Ice Spikers from Schwalbe.

Not only do these tyres look really cool but they’d be sure to keep me upright on the icy streets around Rochester.  The snow hasn’t really melted since it fell last Friday, it’s just getting worse for cycling as the compacted snow is slowly icing up and making it difficult to walk on let alone cycle on.

Unfortunately work, as always, has got in the way and I haven’t been out on the bikes but even if I wanted to venture out after dark, I don’t think it would have been safe enough without some Spikers fitted…

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No Cycling (again) – Snowed In

Sunday December 20, 2009

A weekend of snow.  Thursday night / Friday morning saw heavy snowfall over the South East so roads were closed and travel chaos ensued.  Although the snow (and ice) prevented me cycling this weekend, it did result in me having a day off on Friday!  😉

Took a long walk on Saturday afternoon in some local woodland and took the camera along with me.  More photos over on Flickr.

Winter Thistle

Icicle

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30,000th Track Scrobbled

Friday December 18, 2009

Last.fm scrobbled my 30,000th track this week!  i.e. Last.fm has logged me listening to over 30,000 tracks since I started it counting on 25th April 2007 – an average of 31 tracks per day.

The specific track?  Here it is:

30000: (2009-12-15 09:48:50):
Johann Sebastian BachBrandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050: Andante

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Gigapan – The Photography Robot

Sunday December 13, 2009

The bikes have got me back into photography.  When I go out on long rides I take my Canon Ixus 40 with me to capture the ride, the sights and the memories.  Then I bought my Canon G11 as I wanted more control – the same level of control I had when I used my Minolta SLRs in the past.

Now I’ve bought a Gigapan Epic – a robotic camera mount for taking huge, high resolution images.

What?!

Okay, here’s something cool:

The GigaPan Imager uses the same panoramic photo technology as the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, used to collect amazing panoramic images of Mars.

GigaPan Systems was established in 2008 as a commercial spin-off of a successful collaboration between researchers at NASA and Carnegie Mellon University that developed the breakthrough GigaPan System for creating high-resolution panoramic images. GigaPan Systems was founded to bring this powerful, high-resolution imaging capability to a broad audience.

The Gigapan system consists of the robotic mount, stitching software and the Gigapan.org website which hosts the resulting massive images.

The mount itself ($300) fixes to the top of your tripod and then holds your digital camera nice and tightly in its special fixture.  There’s a small amount of setup to perform, so that it knows the field of view of your specific camera, and that’s it.  You then put your camera on maximum zoom, lock the focus, lock the exposure, then tell the Gigapan what to do.  It’s simple: you point the system at the top-left corner of your scene, then the bottom-right corner, and the Gigapan will then work out how many shots it needs to cover the entire scene.  Everything set, you start it off and it pans and tilts until its taken loads of individual photographs of the scene: x-number of rows and x-number of columns.

You then go home and download the images from your camera and into Gigapan’s stitching software.  This software really ‘uses’ your computer and all its processing and memory capacity to blend the photos into one huge image.  This can take a long time to compute, my initial (relatively small) capture took around 30 minutes – it’s complex and demanding for the software/computer to merge and blend these images automatically but it does it fantastically well.

Once it’s done its thing you upload to the Gigapan.org website, into your account, and then it’s available for the world to see.

Initially it looks like a normal photograph, but then you move your mouse over it and you realise that you can zoom into the image, pan around and explore it – in a similar way to the way you navigate in Google Maps.  Find something of interest in the middle of the image? Just zoom in and take a look.  As you do, the Gigapan viewing software adds the more detailed images as you get in closer until you reach the full resolution, then just keep panning.

The Gigapan hardware was shipped to to me from the USA.  I ordered it late on a Sunday night (UK time), the Gigapan team shipped it on Monday afternoon and it arrived at 1045 on the Wednesday morning!  Really quick shipping and a high quality product.

It’s a great bit of kit and I’ve only just started playing with it.  The weather yesterday curtailed my trials but I managed to get a couple of giga-images captured: the Castle and the Cathedral.  I’ve just exported the castle image to a TIFF file and that image is 450MB in size!  It is a 261 mega pixel image!  Oh, and it took my computer 1hr 55mins to stitch it together – that’s 56 images in a grid of 7 x 8.

The images below are small copies of the exported TIFF files, if you want to see the Gigapan images then click the links below each photo and you’ll be taken to the images over on Gigapan.org.

I’ll post updates of my Gigapan experiences as and when they happen.


Click here to view the Gigapan image of the Castle


Click here to view the Gigapan image of the Cathedral


My Gigapan Epic set to take the images of the Cathedral

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