Some ways back I seem to have reached the summit of my enthusiasm for new technology. More and more it feels I'm pedaling on a false flat, working harder than I should and going slower into the bargain. The admission doesn't come easy for someone who makes a living as head of product design for a Silicon Valley startup. The promise of... take your pick... computing, gps, mobile phones, networking is invariably compromised by mediocre software, terrible usability, incomprehensible documentation and abysmal support. The pay off goes down as the passwords pile up. You get me?
The gadgets we covet and the services that seduce us routinely fail to deliver the goods and that's why I love the bicycle so much. There are few things that can go wrong with our two wheeled friends, and most of them are easily remedied. Flat tires repaired, components lubricated, brake pads replaced and off we go. We may be particular about the mechanical precision of our machines, but when it comes to function there are few inventions as resilient and reparable as the bicycle. They work for and with us, elegantly and simply.
Compare the bicycle with the frustration of more "advanced" technologies. Interested in upgrading your AT&T DSL? The derailleur is there but try getting the gears to change. Online or on the phone this is a company at war with itself. Customers can't get what they want, when they want it. At the office we had a $100,000.00 digital switch left by the previous tenant; a full two years after we set off alarms by unplugging it AT&T finally carted it away. We should have made good on our threats to auction it off on eBay.
I've written repeatedly about the trials and tribulations of Garmin's Motionbased/Connect services. I take no real satisfaction in the fact they've just missed another migration deadline. Fifteen months late and counting. Agile development anyone?
Then there's Cycling.tv... a complete waste of $90. It's dead and Competitive Cyclist says so. I just need to remember to cancel my subscription before it auto renews. What's the bet that piece of the machinery will work perfectly.
This all comes to mind because I just completed a two-weekend configuration of a new PC equipped with the Cancellara processor (at least I hope it's that fast). Eschewing my Macintosh roots I risked the vagaries of Vista and came through relatively unscathed. Epson struck the one truly sour note. The printer that's productively performed over firewire for three years with XP, can only print over USB in Vista thanks to Epson's latest drivers.
I could go on, but I'm twittering and it's time to get back to bicycles. Between reboots, and while the 4 TB NAS device was taking 17 hours to cook I changed tires, tubes and rim tape on the Enigma Sunday and got an object lesson in real value.
Value. A measure of utility or merit
The Continental GP4000S tires I'd been running for 2137 miles (to be exact) had reached retirement age. The wear indicators had all but disappeared from the rear and though they felt better than ever I knew it was time to let them go. This pair had done its job and then some. One flat in five months is stellar performance.
By my calculation the rear tire had lost 20g, nearly 10% of it's weight, the front 5%. The rubber really hits the road after all.
With clean Velox tape installed I rolled the new Continentals onto the DT Swiss RR 1.1 rims, laid in the tubes and brought them up to pressure. With so many products over promising and under delivering, it's nice to have confidence in the thin strips of rubber that we roll about on. Long after the gadgets have been consigned to history's rubbish pile, the bicycle will continue on its way, taking us happily along for the ride.
Now what's my network SSID again?