Almost got a perfect score!

This past weekend was a busy one for me and Claire.  We decided to try a motorcycle training course to see if we liked riding or not and if we did we might get bikes of our own or at the very least we would get licenses that showed we knew how to ride a motorcycle if we really needed to.  The course we took was the Basic Rider Course at MTII which is a school in South Florida that specializes in motorcycle safety and training.  Since Claire and I are Consultants, our free time is limited to the weekends but it so happened that MTII had a Saturday/Sunday course that we could take.  The course was 16 hours long, 6 in the classroom and 10 riding in a parking lot learning how to ride a motorcycle.  I’ll admit that it felt like I was back in drivers education class when I was 15.

We had our instructor, Dan, show us the ropes and taught both the classroom exercises and the range exercises.  The classroom stuff wasn’t too bad, there is a lot to know before actually hopping on a motorcycle so I was glad to have the instruction up front about some of the controls before I actually got to ride.  The class was kept interesting with some videos here and there that showed what to expect in the range or what might be encountered in traffic.  The classroom was split up into two sessions, Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon with a test at the end that would satisfy the State of Florida requirements to get a license.  I was able to achieve a 100% on the written test so I was pleased with that.  I didn’t even come close to that on my original drivers license test but that was 15 years ago but I got enough right back then to drive.

The range aspect of the course is where all the fun is, we were able to use actual bikes to ride around on to learn how to not to kill ourselves on the street.  We rode Honda Rebel’s with 250CC engines for the first day and the next day I was upgraded to a Buell 500CC bike but Claire was given a Suzuki 250CC again.  On the first day we learned a lot of basics of just getting the bike going like starting it up and balancing the bike.  One of the more interesting pieces was learning the friction zone for the clutch.  This is the same concept applied for driving a standard car but its more difficult since you have to use your left hand and will it to open slowly so the engine doesn’t stall out.  We started out by doing power walking which was using the friction zone to get the bike moving forward a bit and then using big steps to get some speed going.  After power walking we started putting our feet on the pegs and actually riding in a straight line which was pretty fun.  At this point we also knew how to brake and stop the bike so we didn’t hit anything.

The real fun came into when we started to learn turning.  Turning in a bike was all about balance and knowing where to put your weight.  There is also a concept called counter steering that is pretty foreign in a car but is essential in a bike.  At high speeds, you can’t turn the handle bars and steer a bike like a car, a bike needs to be leaned into a turn and the way to do that is to “press” the handle bars in the direction you want to go which is almost opposite of what you do in a car.  By pressing and leaning into a turn the bike moves in the direction you want.  The most important part was to look where you’re going and to accelerate while in the turn and not brake.  Accelerating into the turn gives the bike more traction in the turn so that was a bit new as well.  Claire and I did pretty well that first day, we both stalled out quite a bit because of that pesky friction zone but we were successful in getting the bike going, stopping, and turning.

Day 2 was a bit more challenging since we had to apply our previous days knowledge to the lessons we would do today.  This involved learning a lot of safety things such as swerving, riding over obstacles, and braking quickly going in straight lines and if we were in a turn.  For the second day, I got a different bike made by Buell which had a 500CC engine instead of a 250CC engine.  This bike definitely had more power to it but it was also a bit harder for me to get going.  Since the bike was new, I had to relearn where the friction zone in the clutch was which lead to a lot of false starts and lots of stalling which initally frustrated me.  By far the most fun was doing all the swerving and the fast riding that we were allowed to do.  We had to practice gear shifting quite a bit on this day as well with lots of up shifting and down shifting through the course and turns.  The maximum stopping was really fun too, where else are you told to go as fast as you can in the distance given and then hit the brakes so you can stop in the shortest distance??  I will admit that I dropped the bike just once on the second day, I didn’t drop it on the first day.  I dropped the bike due to my own stupidity of not remembering to put the kick stand down on the bike before trying to get off of it.

The last part of the day on the range was the actual road test.  The instructors set up the range so that we would have to use all of the skills that we learned over the previous two days to show that we can operate a motorcycle safely and under control.  The first part consisted of performing a figure eight in a designated box then a quick swerve around an obstacle.  The next part was to do a quick stop after getting up to speed.  The last part consisted of cornering around a turn at a given speed without going outside of the lines and by using the right techniques to get through it.  This mostly consisted of braking before the turn and then accelerating into the turn.  Everyone in the class was able to pass the road test although there are some people taking the course that I would be fearful of seeing on the road with a motorcycle.

The last part of the day consisted of going back to the classroom to finish going over some additional safety information and taking the written test.  There was a lot of information on where the most dangerous areas are for motorcycles on the road and how to avoid people that probably don’t see motorcyclists when they’re changing lanes or going through intersections.  The test itself was 50 mutliple choice questions which went over everything we learned in class.  I was able to ace that one without getting anything wrong and I also learned I almost got a perfect score on the road test.  I lost 1 point for not going fast enough through the cornering section of the test.  Since I passed, I can now go to DMV and get a new endorsement on my license that lets me operate motorcycles!  My wife also passed by acing the written and getting high marks on her road test as well.  Now the last step for the both of us  is to pick out a bike and to start practicing.  So excited to try out my new hobby!

iOS 4.0 is live for iPhones…. and I’m not installing it yet!

It has finally come to pass, iOS4 has been released for all iDevices on the planet except for the iPad which will get its upgrade later this fall.  I have been following the release on the internet using a number of blogs and so far things sound pretty positive.  It seems the best way to get things going is to set up the device as if it was a brand new iPhone to get the OS on and then to do a restore to get the applications you used back on the device.  I’ve done a few restores of my iPhone but that was due to it constantly crashing and the process is quite time consuming to get all the data back.

I am personally not going to be updating any of my devices to iOS4 just yet.  I’m going to be patient and wait and see if a jailbreak comes out since my jailbreak apps are quite important.  The most important of these is MyWi which I use every once in a while for work when I need internet access while on the road.  I don’t think the way AT&T is selling tethering is correct, I’m using the same data pipe but I need to pay for the privilege of using my iPhone as a wireless modem.  For me thats not really a problem since I have unlimited data still (and I will continue to have unlimited data since I’m never leaving this plan after AT&T instituted that crappy data plan where it meters you by how much data you use).

I expect to see a jailbreak come in the next couple of weeks and for now I can live without iOS4.  Most of what is offered by iOS (except for something like folders or the universal inbox) I currently have in some form or fashion using a jailbreak.  I’ll be sure to upgrade when a new jailbreak is available so I don’t lose some of my more important apps.  I’ll continue to read up on iOS to see if there are any bugs or problems with it.  Can’t wait to upgrade though 🙂

World Cup Coverage is Excellent!

I have to say that the coverage offered for the 2010 World Cup is outstanding.  I have never seen so many ways to get World Cup coverage ever.  I used to only catch games on TV when I could and a lot of the time the World Cup was playing at a time when I wasn’t even awake.  Seeing re-runs of games just isn’t the same as seeing it live since most news outlets already have the results and highlights of games.  I give big kudos to ESPN and ABC for providing coverage on TV and the internet.  The internet part is definitely awesome since its all live streaming on ESPN3.  The video quality is really good too since I tested it on my computer here at home.  There is even an iPhone app from ESPN to track the World Cup games for stories, scores, and my favorite teams.  The fans are the true winners in this scenario since there should be little excuse not to get updates on World Cup unless you’re living in a hole somewhere.

I’m sure Disney is making a killing on commercial fees while this event is going on (ESPN and ABC are both owned by Disney and that was probably a smart move too considering how much us in America love our sports coverage).  The preliminaries are almost done with Team USA on top of Group C.  I can’t wait for the finals to start!  It’ll be exciting this year.  Too bad this event only takes place every four years.

Superior Tint is Awesome

In 2004, my wife Claire got me tints for my 2002 Nissan Altima so that my car would look awesome and also to block out the heat rays of the crazy Florida sun. I went with a tint made by Solar Guard since it was one of the better tints out there. I also got it because it had a limited life time warranty just in case something happened to the tint.

During my trip to Key West, the tint on the rear window of my car started to peel off. I’m assuming it’s because my car spent so much time in the sun, the heat eventually killed the adhesive that made the tint stick to the window. I looked online and I found s place in Boca Raton that would honor the Solar Guard warranty called Superior Tint (superiortint.net). Just like the place I went to in Tampa to get the tints on my car done, Superior Tint used a machine to cut the tint instead of using razors to cut the tint after it’s put on the glass.

I went there recently and they were able to replace the tint on the rear window and one of my side windows in a matter of a couple of hours. They needed to get the old tint off without damaging the rear defroster and then they had to apply the new tint. From what I’ve seen, they did a really good job. If I get a new car and it needs tints, I’m going back to Superior Tint together the job done even though it is quite far from my house. Now I have to wait a couple of days before I can use my side windows so I don’t ruin the new tint. Time to watch some South Park to pass the time tonight.

World Cup Soccer is awesome!

2010is the year of the World Cup. Just like the Olympics, the World Cup only comes once every four years but in my opinion, more people care about the World Cup than the Olympics. While the Olympics is huge and covers many different sports, the World Cup is only concerned with the game of football (soccer to us Americans). The World Cup is one of those sports where the US isn’t dominant which I guess adds to it’s appeal since there are so many other countries that are better at the game than we are.

The World Cup is being held in South Africa this time around and the time difference isn’t so great that I can’t catch a live game on TV. So far I have watched quite a few games when I’ve had some time but the game that I wanted to watch, USA v. England I missed because I had to travel that day. There are only a few teams that I plan to follow as the World Cup progresses. I will naturally follow The USA, but I will also follow Argentina, Brazil, England, Germany, and of course Italy.

Three is still a lot of World Cup to go, this should be exciting. I’m sure most of South Florida is shut down because everyone is trying to catch the World Cup on TV or on the Internet.

Working from Home

This is week two of working from home and I can say that it is both good and bad. On the good side I get to be home for the week which means I get to sleep in my own bed, enjoy all of my home entertainment systems, and have access to everything that I love about my home. On the down side, I don’t have my office assistants around to keep me company so it’s a bit lonely, I’m not a great cook so the food isn’t all that great unless I eat out, and I have to make the bed in morning Monday through Thursday.

I like the time at home because I don’t have to deal with all the hassles of travel. It’s almost like having a mini staycation but I’m still doing on stuff for work. Being at home let’s me take stock of what needs to be done at my house and gives me a chance to get some things done that I normally would have to do on the weekend. Having clothes to choose from is also a huge plus in my book. I can wear shorts in my home office and no one will complain or I can work upstairs in the loft for a change of scenery.

I’m looking forward to traveling for work again but that won’t happen until maybe next week. I’m still waiting to hear if I have the OK to go to Washington DC or not. If my planning holds true, I won’t be spending all that much time in DC at all but I will be out at different sites across the country which should make things exciting.

Right now, I’m going to enjoy the week I have at home until I have to head out once again for work.

Sunset at 34,000 Feet

This was the last picture that I took leaving Minneapolis from seat on my Delta flight.  Every once in a while, I try and sneak out my iPhone when I’m not supposed to in order to snap pictures that I think will look really cool.  I don’t have anything fancy for picture taking, mostly I use my iPhone or my Olympus Stylus 790SW.  For no flash situations, my iPhone is actually better than using my digital camera although all that is going to change with the new iPhone which actually has a flash on it.

I have some other awesome pictures of sunrise from my hotel room in Minneapolis during the winter.  Minneapolis in the winter is really really cold but it does offer some excellent sunrises.  I would have gotten some pictures of sunsets during winter but it was always too dark out when I left work to capture anything good.  Here is one that I captured that has some pretty sweet colors in it.