20 April 2011

Bike Tour of the California Coast

I just returned from leading a bicycle tour of the central California coast. Yoyo Zhou, Ed Lee, Sue-Ting Chene, Kalvin Wang, and I spent six days biking from Saratoga to Goleta (near Santa Barbara), a total of about 340 miles. Highlights included biking down Big Sur and eating lots of great food.

You can read more in my trip report.

18 April 2011

Bicycling the Pacific Coast, by Vicky Spring

I just returned from leading a cycle tour down the California coast from the San Francisco Bay Area to Santa Barbara. The classic Bicycling The Pacific Coast, by Vicky Spring, was an indispensable reference and a major part of my trip planning process.

For the section of interest to us (central coast of California), Bicycling the Pacific Coast routes you down Highway 1 (California State Route 1, a.k.a. the Pacific Coast Highway) nearly the entire way. The book provides turn-by-turn instructions that explain when it is advisable to deviate from Hwy 1 (either when bikes are not allowed on the highway, when there is a scenic detour with less car traffic, or when there are specific points of interest), and exactly how to do so. It explains when food, water, restrooms, and lodging are present along certain segments, as well as when they aren't. These elements are (understandably) missing from guidebooks that assume you are traveling by car.

Elevation profiles of each day's ride are also given, which was handy for mentally preparing my travel-mates for each segment. Points of interest and other considerations for cyclists (such as when there is a wide shoulder, and which segments get really hot in the summer) are noted.

Although the book is oriented towards expedition cyclists (i.e. cyclists who carry a tent with them and stop at a campsite each night), and our group was doing credit-card touring, I had little difficulty adapting the suggested routes to stop each night at a city rather than a campsite. It is also straightforward to follow the suggested route but lengthen or shorten each day's ride, depending on your taste.

I purchased a copy of the book on Google eBooks and loaded it onto my phone, so I was able to consult it on the road as well. You can do something similar with the Amazon Kindle edition.

Route planning for a cycle tour of the coast is an optimization problem in many dimensions, and you will need to consult maps and references other than Bicycling the Pacific Coast, but this book helps to pare down the search space considerably and make it much more manageable. Highly recommended.

06 April 2011

Tron: Legacy followup


Look, it's eshell!

Josh Nimoy wrote about his special effects contributions, among others, to Tron: Legacy:

I spent a half year writing software art to generate special effects for Tron Legacy, working at Digital Domain with Bradley "GMUNK" Munkowitz, Jake Sargeant, and David "dlew" Lewandowski. [...]

In addition to visual effects, I was asked to record myself using a unix terminal doing technologically feasible things. I took extra care in babysitting the elements through to final composite to ensure that the content would not be artistically altered beyond that feasibility. I take representing digital culture in film very seriously in lieu of having grown up in a world of very badly researched user interface greeble. [...] In Tron, the hacker was not supposed to be snooping around on a network; he was supposed to kill a process. So we went with posix kill and also had him pipe ps into grep. I also ended up using emacs eshell to make the terminal more l33t. The team was delighted to see my emacs performance -- splitting the editor into nested panes and running different modes. I was tickled that I got emacs into a block buster movie.

I previously wrote that

the filmmakers should win some sort of award for Not Totally Outrageous Use Of Unix In A Hollywood Movie. Whoever is responsible, I salute you.

So I guess we now know how that transpired and who is responsible for (part of) it.

(via Romain Francoise)