Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Two, two, two rants in one

The swim was good. Only 2K, 45 minutes or so. Half of it, in sets, at an 18 minute per K pace. Water ran for 30 minutes after to replace the scheduled run.

Once I got home I started fixing the bike computer. Eventually I figured out the battery in the sensor unit had died. Once that was replaced I got it going again fairly quickly, only it was in miles per hour, which is a meaningless number. My efforts to change this spawned two rants.

Miles. They aren't much used here anymore, nor much anywhere else since the sensibility of SI took over from medieval and pre-medieval confusion. To start with, which mile? Roman, British, American, Scots, Irish, Arab, Danish, German, Swedish/Norwegian, Russian, two different Croatian ones, and of course the nautical mile. All are slightly different, or were, or might still be. They don't relate well to any other unit of length, even the obsolete imperial ones. As an aside only Burma, Liberia, and one other country still do not officially use the metric system. Anyone care to take a guess which country goes with those oh so illustrious companions? I'm just assuming the bike computer was in American miles, but who knows for sure? Yes, that was a hint. Somehow, America went from being one of the initial supports of the move to the metric system in 1875, and via the Mendenhall Order in 1893 adopted the fundamental metric units. Somehow it all went pear shaped in the 20th century. Eventually they'll catch up, and then maybe Canada can finish the job and banish the few remaining reminders of an obsolete, archaic, complex, and essentially unworkable system of measurement. Until then we are shackled to an underdeveloped trading partner that thinks metrification is a commie plot. Or a gay one. Or an atheist one. Whichever plays best to the home crowd.

Engineers. At least 4 of my readers are engineers of one stripe or another, and I have my suspicions about a couple more of them. Don't get me wrong, engineers are admirable in many ways. They have been instrumental in us getting all the nice things that surround us. And in getting us mental about using them. Today is about buttons, and modes, and trying to cram as many functions as possible into a small device, even if nobody wants them or can use them in the unlikely event of being wanted. Even the method of accessing those functions is beyond arcane. I refer you to setting up my bike computer. Once I got it going again it was showing me distance in miles. (See other rant.) It took the better part of a half an hour fiddling with buttons to make it display Kph instead of Mph. There I am sitting on my bike, pedaling slowly, holding the computer and the manual, and trying to follow the instructions. Which are SHITE by the way, just in case you wanted to know. I'm still not sure how I got it the way I wanted it. I am still not sure everything else is just as I wanted it, and I've no idea what happened to any of the data it had stored. Not that I really care, as long as the tire diameter didn't change. This is a small device. The buttons take a bit of force to press. One of the buttons needed is on the back, and is a recessed spherical ball. The display element range in size from barely readable to severely microscopic. We have one of those magnifying lamps, and I was seriously considering setting it up. I nearly dropped it several times. All I can say is that lately there has been a trend for "good enough" devices. They don't do as much, but they are much, much simpler to operate. Amen to that. Where do engineers develop the mindset that lets them design devices where you have to press multiple buttons to change modes, and you can never tell which mode you are in, then use some of the same buttons to adjust the various settings, and maybe the same button to say I'm done. Or maybe a different button altogether. Who tests these little insanity generators? I believe it has to be another engineer, incubated from the same environment that produced the designers. For this sort of stuff, they should be dragging random people off the street. Give them the device, and the manual, along with any other supplies needed, like a bike in a trainer, for example. Tell them to install and set up the computer. Video tape them. Don't bleep out the swear words. The designing engineers should be required to watch, and respond to that video before they get paid. These responses are not permitted: "it works fine for us", "they aren't following the instructions properly", "they must be stupid", "they aren't the target market", and others of that ilk. (You do know what an ilk is, don't you?) Almost every other electronic device out there has the same problem. I've had my adventures with watches, cameras, video and DVD players, iPod, cable and the old fashioned modems, cell phones, and the clocks in cars and on various other devices such as ovens, microwaves, stoves, ect, and alarm clocks. Don't get me started on remotes. The problem is the human interface. Our fingers are big, and our eyes can only resolve text that is at least a certain size. We are trying to work with devices that get smaller and smaller, and every effing user interface is different!!!!! Grr. I totally understand why people get the urge to smash that device with a hammer, or throw it away as hard as they can. Why has nobody thought of giving every device a small standard cable attachment that plugs into any computer, and then you can access the operating system of the device, through the computer, using a screen that is big enough to see, and a keyboard/mouse that most of us know how to use. Don't get me started on people that can't touch type.

Once I got that out of the way I ended up having a nice ride. Short warm up, and 2 long aerobic sets, and a short cool down for a 1 hr ride. Stretched another 15 minutes after, working on Soleus, and ITB. Later tonight is yoga class, and I hope Fiona has some good stuff lined up for us. And there was! Yay! Pigeon pose, my fave! But you'll never guess which pose I had to back out of. Child pose of all things. I have trouble breathing in it at the best of times, and tonight it was making my sinuses explode.

As an aside, I think these periodic rants are good for me. I've added a label to make them easier to find, since the title doesn't always reflect the presence of a rant.


  1. That was some quality ranting there, Keith. Well done.
    But you've gotta be some kinda Commie gay atheist to condemn Burma and Liberia (Oh, and the USA, too) for shunning the metric system. HELLO? What did we Burmese ever do to you, huh? HUH?!?! Your "metric system" makes zero sense!!!!! What kinda backwards frozen country doesn't acknowledge that a mile = 5,280 feet? The kind that considers curling a sport, I guess.

    Also, I am not an engineer, nor have I ever played one on TV. I'm just a simple Burmese air traffic controller, and that is all.

  2. I got to the word "engineers" then I quit reading, sorry.
    Imagine trying to manage their money.

  3. Don't be a hater, keith, we're not all gay commie atheist metric naysayers. I personally love kilometers as a measurement for races-makes it go by faster. But nobody ever listens to MY suggestions.

    You lost me in the engineer part too. But I sure can tell that you felt better after getting all that off your chest. Isn't that what ranting is for?

  4. Hahahahaha!! I use miles on my Computrainer and on the treadmill as a mental diversion....26 miles seems way easier and shorter than 40km. Don't ask me why -- that's just how my noodle works. :) :)

    I totally know where you are coming from regarding instruction manuals!! Who the hell writes those things? You should have seen me setting up my Computrainer initially -- HOLY $HIT!!! 4 MAUNALS!! There wasn't even a *quickstart* option. And you have to keep flipping from one book to another. I could have written out the instructions on one frigging page!

    Love the idea about video taping members of the public trying to follow those useless instructions!! Hahahahaha!!

  5. I actually prefer the miles to kms when i do a race or travel or anything for the same reason julie likes them....OMG i have to run 42kilometres now or i only have to run 26 miles!! the second sounds way easier!!
    The people that right those manuals are the same the right a legal doccument or income tax forms.....

  6. oops that should be "the people that write those manualsare the same that write a legal doccument or income tax forms".....

  7. I used to be an engineer. I walked around saying "Choo Choo" and they said we weren't that kind of engineer though. My experience with engineers makes me sure that most engineers wouldn't understand your rant anyway since they couldn't get past your saying Z, Y, Zed. Of course since you are having problems with almost all forms of technology (See "I had my adventures with watches, cameras, video and DVD players, iPod, cable and the old fashioned modems, cell phones, and the clocks in cars and on various other devices such as ovens, microwaves, stoves, ect, and alarm clocks."), they would quickly determine the problem must be unique to you.

    And Julie, each Computrainer manual was at one time the worst document ever crafted until the next Computrainer manual was hatched. This is speaking as a former engineer so it must be true.

  8. You know, when it comes to running and cycling I can only process in miles. When I was a kid we used to run the mile in school so I always equate everything back to that. Distance in km/h or min/km means nothing to me. Plus I'd rather run 26 or something than 42. Even if at the end of the day it equates to the same thing.

    As for engineers? Sheesh...sorry to hear you don't like us very much!

  9. i just pretend to be an engineer. heck, i had to force myself to read on after i read the word engineer even. oh. and i don't know how to use my ipod either. see. i just pretend to be an engineer.


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