Archive for May, 2011

Single-speed conversions: Why?

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

I recently purchased a used (“ancient”) GT talera mountain bike from a thrift-shop for just a few dollars.

I am no expert, but it appears to be in reasonably good condition; in any event, I’m not planning any hardcore trail-riding with it.

As I was searching for info about this bicycle-from-the-last-century, I found several instances in online forums where folks much more knowledgeable than I detailed their use of GT taleras as the base frame for what’s called a “single-speed” conversion. That is, taking a multi-speed bike and turning it into a single-, or fixed-speed one (yes, I know those two things are not exactly the same as one another).

Old mountain bike frames are often the target of these rebuilds because (I’m guessing here) they were built to be pretty rugged, meaning rigid and “hard-tailed”–in the days before much suspension became common on MTB’s–so they could hold together over a lot of rough terrain (especially downhill).

All of which seems to mean that, despite the passage of time, they’re still in good enough shape to take to the streets.

I certainly understand the desire to build something from the ground up–it’s the tinkerer in all of us–but what I don’t understand is why one gear is preferable to 10, 12 or 21?

I understand that there is some advantage in terms of weight (less gears==less sprockets/chainrings==less weight), but what I don’t understand is why that’s better for street-riding?

I guess, at the very least, I should be glad that the trend seems to be giving new life to old frames, eh.

Making Mutt Fetch Your Email: Good Dog

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

If you’re like me, you fondly remember the days when email first appeared. We had found a new way to stay in touch with friends and to annoy colleagues.

And it was good.

Then text-based editors/clients came along to handle the growing deluge of messages from friends and annoying colleagues and we tapped our arrow keys and used those.

And it was good.

Now, of course, GUI clients, as well as broadband and smartphones, make it so simple to use web-based, html-heavy email that the simpler days of text-based email, even within the same organization or on the same server, are becoming a dim memory from the last century.

Fortunately, if you want to live in the past, technology allows you to do so.

Pine was first (for most of us), but most sources now say that that University of Washington product is too insecure to use and recommend against it.

Mutt works a lot like pine used to and is more flexible besides being more secure.

Now that gmail offers IMAP––which the mutt can do–there’s almost no reason not to give it a whirl.

If you’re on Linux, mutt is a breeze to install from the pertinent repositories; if you’re on OS X, here’s a great how-to; and if you’re on Windows . . . well, that’s not my fault.

So, turn back the clock to 1988 and let the mutt retrieve your mail.

And it will be good again.