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1 year of bike commuting

Well, I rolled around to a whole year of the bike commute and forgot all about it. Like most things if you do it long enough it's a habit.

Here are the numbers:

Those are pretty averaged.. I think my mileage is quite a bit more than that.

Are you an Artist or Author? Give us a tip jar.

I bought an e-book yesterday. I don't have a microsoft reader compatible device, but I bought it in reader format.

I paid $17 dollars to Neal Stephenson, because I generally like his books. I paid, finished checkout, then spent the next 45 minutes or so installing microsoft reader, so I could download the file, and rip the drm off of it in order to get it to plain html (to read on the iphone). I did all this because I felt I should pay Neal for his work, but I didn't want a dead tree copy of it.

Had I not had this fuzzy motivation, I could have gone to IRC and had a drm free copy at no cost in probably.. 30 seconds, but Neal wouldn't have seen a dime.

So, here's the problem you face as artists. You no longer control the distribution of your work. It's got legs baby. If you charge too much, people will steal it. If you don't distribute it in a format people can use, people will convert it for you to the platform of their choice (after stealing it).

I know it seems like it sucks, but I truly believe you'll do alright! The business now is about fairness and an actual relationship with your audience. If we like your work and want to see more of it we'll support you. It's direct patronage.

Why you need a tip jar

At this point very few people are doing digital distribution that is palatable. I know that sometimes with agents and publishers and lawyers in the mix that all gets muddied. The thing to remember is that none of those people can control your audience or the distribution method any more. We choose it. Sorry, but we're in control again, it's the nature of the net.

So go with the flow. Put up a simple app on your website that says: "like what I do? leave me a tip!" and take donations. Outwardly, you don't need to be any clearer than that. Inwardly, count every cent of that money as a vote against closed formats and DRM. (by buying the microsoft reader format, I in effect voted FOR DRM.. which I'd prefer to avoid.)

Your publisher, rather predictably will then say something like "Your tips are taking money from us!". Tell them that in fact, they're not. People that want a printed book will still buy a printed book. People that want to put up with their ham handed attempts at ebook publishing with draconian DRM, will still put up with it. The ones that wouldn't have, were never their customers. We're yours, artist.. and we're damned loyal to you, if you let us be. ; )

No, a foam hat won't save you.

I've been following the story of Rebecca Allen's death in Fort Collins last Tuesday, and I went to her funeral Friday, (cyclists city wide showed up to show support).

I've been reading the local press about it, and this is as good an example as any:
http://www.coloradoan.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080730/UPDATES01/...

In every article I've seen, this, or some variation of this concept has been uttered:

Allen was taken to the hospital where she died from her injuries. Garvey suffered serious injuries, but was released from the hospital the same day. Both were wearing bike helmets.

A helmet? She was hit by a CAR! In the equation of bike v. car, a helmet is little more than a luck bonus. Yeah, there are lots of tales of people getting their heads run over and the helmet miraculously takes the hit and squirts their noggins out onto the street. But seriously, day to day, what do you think that inch of foam is going to do for you?

So, why do they bring it up? Because people assume a cyclist without a foam hat is an irresponsible idiot who somehow deserves to die. Because people don't want to talk about how CARS KILL PEOPLE. Being on the bike didn't kill Rebecca. A car killed Rebecca. (yes, the dumbass kid behind the wheel killed Rebecca, but tell me, would that have happened if he were out riding a bike drunk instead?)

Consider this:

4,749 pedestrians were reported to have been killed in motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2003. These deaths accounted for 11 percent of the 42,643 motor vehicle deaths nationwide that year. An estimated 70,000 pedestrians were injured or killed in motor vehicle collisions, which represents 2 percent of the 2.9 million total persons injured in traffic crashes
(http://www.walkinginfo.org/pedsafe/crashstats.cfm: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts 2003, Washington, DC, 2004)

We're worried about deaths in Iraq? We lost more people in one year just walking down the street than the entire war so far!

We've built our entire society around the automobile; around the idea that accelerating 2 tons of steel to human killing speeds through the places we live and work is acceptable. It's quite literally killing us.

For a better article about Allen (yup, mentions helmets..) read this one:
http://media.www.collegian.com/media/storage/paper864/news/2008/07/30/Ne...

Get out on your bike this week. Take the lane. Let a car or two know you're there.

A 500 mile commute

So I made it my goal to ride to work every day ever since I started my job in February. It's been interesting. The winter was practically easier than summer heat. (and it's only gotten to about 85 around here) Business casual dress + 5 miles a day on a bike make for a not totally nasty, but funkier than average Aaron sometimes.

Anyway, the other reason I really wanted to post this is to test out google's spreadsheet embedding in html. Here are my calculations about the commute:

Cellular Neutrality

My friends and I were recently chatting about cellular service providers. AT&T seems like it's going to be in control of the next generation of iPhone and we were comparing their plans. The scary thing we find is the nasty tendency to nickel and dime you for all kinds of services that, when you boil them down, are nothing but bits over a wire.

Drivers: Treat cyclists like cars and we'll all get along fine...

I ride my bike around Fort Collins, CO a lot. Collins is nice, it's a college town, so by default it's peppered with cyclists. Lately, it seems like cycling is on the rise, and it's becoming cool to have a single speed fixie and dress like a bike messenger.

My problem with Fort Collins drivers is not the usual one of rudeness, it's one of politeness.. When I show up to a busy 4 way stop that's moving smoothly with everyone taking their turn.. and a motorist (who was there first) tries to wave me through, I get seriously angry. This waving exchange takes a good 5 seconds or so, whereas if they would have just treated me like a car and acted normally, traffic would have kept flowing.

Yeah, it sounds like a silly thing to be angry about, but think about it this way. Dumb motorist sits there waving at me.. I do what they say but the one across from them (who thinks it's their turn) doesn't see any of this. That results in me riding to the center of the intersection and getting hit.

The rules of the road are extremely well thought out. There are very few instances where you need to trust a motorist to not do stupid things, you only have to trust that they too understand the rules. If you throw those rules out for cyclists, we are suddenly put at risk because we have to trust that the rules this one polite idiot just made up won't kill us.

This morning I was crossing a busy 4 lane road, The first two were clear, and the second two had one lone truck, followed (at a bit of a distance) by a huge pack of cars.

20 minutes of exercise a day for 2 years

So as I mentioned in my previous post, I've been doing this thing where I exercise in some fashion for no less than 20 minutes every day. I hit 2 years over a week ago, and it was more or less a non-event. The 20 minutes thing has gone from something i'm 'doing' to just something I do. It's habit. I think about it every day, and I just do it.

Why I love the Thinkpad #37

I needed to take apart a my precious Thinkpad today. (The poor thing is getting on in years, and I needed to swap out its CPU fan.) It struck me as I was taking it apart. (something I've done many times) I don't know of any other puter manufacturer that makes it this easy on you. This is a primary reason I love the Thinkpad. It's like the Jeep of computers. Simple, easy to service, uses basic, standard parts and screws.

Fix Site design horribleness with the stylish plugin

Celeste mentioned to me that a bunch of the design blogs she reads have switched to a grey font on a white background... which is.. frigging stupid and hard to read.

The neurotic problem solver that I am, I told her about Stylish, a Firefox Plugin that lets you easily write user style sheets on the fly before content loads in your browser.

You can fix pretty much any display annoyance with application of stylesheet rules these days. The only obvious drawback to this plan is that most people don't know CSS or how to wield it. That, I can't really help you with. I'm just planning on illustrating the power here. ; )

The target:
http://www.mstetsondesign.blogspot.com/

notice the grey text on a white background. Yeah.. you'll be upgrading your glasses prescription in no time.

Distrusting Experts...

Here is a nice little piece about when and why to distrust expert opinion.

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