A day at Dual Sport Plus

I spent the day with the awesome folks at Dual Sport Plus in Stoney Creek, just outside Toronto. I was told that Les, who owns the shop, is a KLR master. He’s a fellow KLR rider and very knowledgeable. He’s ridden KLRs all over the Americas I understand.

In the afternoon I spotted what I suspected was a Google street view car. I was correct. I snapped a few pics.

Google streetview car

Turns out the driver was in the shop talking motorbikes. The car is about $16k he said, the cameras and computer equipment $80k! Quite the setup. There are 9 cameras on the vehicle. Four pointing forward / back / left / right, four diagonally and one upwards. Here’s a close up.

Streetview camera close-up

Rick is the mechanic at Dual Sport Plus. He’s also a fine fellow and was very helpful today. He talked me thorugh the doohickey upgrade. That’s the technical term! Here’s Rick reading the manual.

Rick reads the manual

In addition to the doohickey upgrade I also changed the oil, switched to a re-usable oil filter, replaced the brake and clutch levers, upgraded the gear shifter pedal and gave the bike a bit of a clean. Here’s a photo once we’ve got the side of the engine off.

Side of the bike off

The pieces that we’ve taken off are lying on rags on the floor.

Pieces on the floor

Once we got the engine side open, we discovered the piece we were replacing had split into two. The spring that is supposed to hold tension on the chain had completely vanished. It’s probably buried inside the engine somewhere. Now that I’ve got the upgrade installed, the bike sounds much healthier. It almost purrs now. Accelerating no longer sounds like the engine is destroying itself. Happy days.

Big thanks to Rick and Les. If you find yourself in Toronto needing motorbike assitance I highly recommend Dual Sport Plus.

Google Wave

This might be the most exciting technological development since email. I’m truly impressed at Google’s approach to this project. It gives me newfound faith in Google.

The guys behind Google Maps set out to answer the question “What would email look like if it were invented today?”

Their answer is truly outstanding. Wave is a collaborative communication tool. Something like email crossed with a wiki, instant messaging client, and much, much more. As I watched the video I was thinking, all well and good, but when I got to around 1 hour 8 minutes, I got really excited. In a truly genius move, Google has made the whole protocol behind this new platform open source. That allows independent organisations to build their own Wave servers, and privacy is tightly coded within the system. No Google snooping. Wow.

If you’re technically minded, watch the video here. I’m not embedding the video because it’s 1 hour 20 minutes long and you probably want to watch it in high def on YouTube directly. See more info and sign up for a demo account on Google Wave here.

I was clapping with the audience as the video ends. Truly amazing. Thanks to Pete Mall for the tip. 🙂

Unsubscribing from AirAsia

I cannot unsubscribe from AirAsia’s email newsletter. They say email unsubscribe@fly.airasia.com to be removed from the mailing list. That email address is dead. Likewise unsubscribe@airasia.com is also dead.

I’ve tried contacting their customer support department, nothing.

AirAsia’s emails appear to be handled by dartmail.net. Whois shows that this domain is owned by Google. The first result in a scroogle search for dartmail is a service from ClickZ / Double Click.

All in all, I’m feeling some frustration. If it comes to it, I can simply block all email from AirAsia, but that would mean I cannot fly with them. Not ideal. Does anyone out there have a suggestion or solution?

Update at 15 Jan 2009: ccd5 said the unsubscribe address now works, I tried again and it worked for me.

Google Government

Google have launched a browser. It’s called Chrome. It’s an interesting move from a company that started out as a search engine. It has started me thinking, what is Google now? Is it a search engine? A mail service? A browser? A mobile phone company? It would seem it is all of those things.

What is Google’s core offering then? What does Google do better than anyone else? Again, it would seem many of those things. Google seems to do well in every market it enters. Gmail is generally regarded as the best free webmail service. Google search is surely the dominant search engine. Google Docs is hard to beat. If other companies create competing products, they’re typically bought by Google. YouTube, FeedBurner, and so on.

So what is Google? Where is it going?

It seems like Google is becoming the major supplier of information to a large portion of the people using the internet. That is, for many people, Google is their primary conduit of information. Google delivers access to all other websites via search and advertising. Google delivers personal messages via Gmail. Google provides news. With the launch of a browser, Google takes the next natural step in extending that reach.

Google is surely synonymous with the internet. For many people, Google is the internet. Google provides them with information, information they trust and believe.

It has been shown that all news networks have a bias. This is most obvious with political campaigns like the current presidential election in the US. Each network has their preferred candidate, or party. That has a significant impact on the voters who watch / read / consume the news from that network.

I wonder, what are Google’s biases. How does Google influence the web.

The internet is a largely unregulated territory. It is global, borderless, and largely lawless. This is seen most obviously in activities like child pornography. The internet spans almost every legal jurisdiction in the world. It is therefore almost impossible to prevent something from being available on the internet. That is both a great weakness and a great strength. It is very hard to quash freedom of speech online, likewise it is very hard to quash child pornography online.

Conversely, Google has massive censorship powers on the internet. While they can’t stop you from accessing something you already know exists, they can stop most people from finding something. As the global gateway to the internet, that is an immense responsbility for one company, and ultimately, one board of directors, to carry.

Typically, roles of such significance to the populution are carried out by governments. In the west, these governments are largely elected, and at least in principle, answerable to their people. Google has no such restriction. As a corporation it answers to it’s shareholders. A corporation’s stated and legally required purpose is the creation of wealth for it’s shareholders. Period.

So where does this leave us, the public? Google is arguably more able, better resourced, and far more global than any of our elected governments. Who then, can judge Google’s activities? Who can hold Google accountable? It would seem, at least currently, that Google is largely unaccountable. The corporation operates in famous secrecy, keeping all it’s technology hidden from prying eyes.

Ultimately, I believe, in time, all things answer to the people. Every empire, no matter how benign of tyrannical, falls eventually. Every great organisation dies. Death is what defines life.

It will be interesting to watch as Google grows. Microsoft, one of the technology gians of old, is now 33 years old, and has arguably had it’s day. Five days before it’s 10th birthday, Google reigns as the new king of technology. With the ever increasing pace of technology, how long will this king sit before it is replaced? With the ever growing size of the global market, how big will Google’s kingdom be at it’s peak?

These are both intriguing and worrying times. I choose to avoid Google where I can, but I will be interested to see how Google continues to shape the internet over the years to come.

Google Groups Error

I received the following error while trying to access the OpenCouchSurfing Google Group. I post it here on the off-chance anyone is interested in finding out more about the inner workings of Google Groups!

Error: Exception thrown while generating page

java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: MemoryError: Unable to resize ULIST to 20: Out of memory
	at org.clearsilver.CS._parseFile(Native Method)
	at org.clearsilver.CS.parseFile(CS.java:58)
	at com.google.clearsilver.base.PageBase.go(PageBase.java:486)
	at com.google.clearsilver.base.PageServlet.handleRequest(PageServlet.java:44)
	at com.google.clearsilver.base.PageServlet.doGet(PageServlet.java:33)
	at javax.servlet.http.HttpServlet.service(HttpServlet.java:689)
	at javax.servlet.http.HttpServlet.service(HttpServlet.java:802)
	at com.google.gse.HttpConnection.runServlet(HttpConnection.java:534)
	at com.google.gse.HttpConnection.run(HttpConnection.java:458)
	at com.google.gse.DispatchQueue$WorkerThread.run(DispatchQueue.java:299)

Burn Your Feeds, Burn Your Profits

I’m surprised by the continued success of Feedburner, the popular blog feed stats service. On the one hand, you get a great stats package, offload some traffic from your blog server, and it’s free. However, for those benefits, you give up control of your feed and you give up a share or all of the ad revenue.

With plugins like Google AdSense for Feeds WordPress users can put their own ads into their feeds. With a handful of feed stat plugins around, it must be possible to get all the benefits of FeedBurner without the downsides.

I suppose it’s one of those situations where they’ve “made it” sufficiently that using FeedBurner is the norm. That and they were just acquired by Google, uh oh, the G disease is spreading…