Living Outside The Box Born-Again Techo-Geek Renaissance Man


New Bike: ’82 Peugeot

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Anyone familiar with The Rules of cycling knows that the proper number of bikes to have is "N+1" where N is the number you currently have.

My first real 700C road bike was a used 12-speed Peugeot I got back in the early 90's. When I think of old-school road bikes, that's the first thing that pops in my head. It's French, it's classy, it's fast... what's not to like?

And thus I've procured an '82 Peugeot 12-speed. Well, most of one. The picture is from Josh at Simplicity Vintage Cycles, who sold me a different, but identical bike (sans wheels). Mine will look very similar, though with a different crankset, and other different small bits and pieces.

This particular model is an '82 PH-12 Centennial Edition, which was to commemorate Peugeot's founding in 1882. Everything on the bike was French, including the "Carbolite" steel tubing and Michelin tires. This bike is interesting not only because of that, but also because it's aero.. like, really aero for the 80's. Brake levers, downtube shifters, ovalized tubes, water bottle, and brake calipers were all specifically made to be aerodynamic.

So I guess what I'm going to do is build it up and see just how aero it is, compared to a modern swoopy-tubed bike. This will be my go-to bike for club rides where my heavy, slow Surly would be a liability.

I'm pretty stoked about it, really. Can't wait to get it on the road!


Keep Moving Forward

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

I haven't really talked about it much this time around, but last week (July 12) was the 5-year mark since I was hit by a car and hospitalized while bike commuting.

It's been an interesting 5 years, I have to say. The first year was strictly physical and mental recovery. Year 2 was me proving that I had recovered, so I trained and did a 75 mile bike tour. Years 3-4 were mostly me being too busy to do anything bike-related. Year 5 was the year of the Comeback, with me starting to bike commute again, and eventually, getting my son into cycling as well.

It's been a very good process of therapy. I'm still not commuting as much as I'd like, but my situation is such that it's not really possible just yet. I am now riding group rides with Andy and building up a new (to me) legitimate road bike. I'll post a story about that on Friday, it's pretty exciting to be building bikes again!

I feel like I'm transitioning into a different era. I am juggling lots of responsibilities, and I'm trying to make solid choices. I'm spending a lot of time playing and working with the family. I'm laying aside most of my extracurricular stuff, and focusing on my health and my family: two things which can't be pushed off till later.

So, that means I've spent a lot of time riding my bike on the trainer, or in group rides, instead of commuting. This rubs my sensibilities the wrong way, but I don't have much choice.

I think this will be my last annual recap of the accident, though. The fact that I didn't even think about posting about it last week means I've officially moved on. From this point forward, my focus will be on where we go from here.

Get out and ride. Doesn't matter where.

Just ride.


Successes and Failures

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

There's something crazy about successful people. They normally don't succeed at something, and then sit back and say "well, that's done, I guess I can just sit back and chill for the rest of my life."

I mean, there's a few people that have done that... but most don't. Why is that? It's a result of the drive that made them successful in the first place. You can't just turn it off.

Sometimes, you fail pretty hard. In my case, I did a Social Media Fast for a couple of months. I also gave up caffeine.

Both of which I've failed at, off and on, in the last few weeks. Does that mean I'm a failure? No. Does that mean I can't succeed at them? Nope. Just means I need to be aware of it, learn from it, and adjust as necessary.

I've also made an effort to slim down the amount of projects I work on at any given time. This is out of necessity, because I'd never finish anything if I didn't narrow my focus.

Building on my discovery of Microadventures, I'm going to begin working on ways I can document those, and focus on how I can get the most out of them. I also want to include the kids in Adventures as often as possible.

I've got more adventuring in store- a new bike build, camping, and maybe even a multi-day bike tour! This weekend, I'm doing the IOLS (Introduction to Outdoor Leadership Skills) class to be a fully qualified BSA Scoutmaster. I will report back!


Finding My Way

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

I've been thinking a lot lately about dissatisfaction in life, and wishing I could do more than I already am. But I'm 42, have 4 kids, and I work 45+ hours a week at a (mostly) desk job. I don't have a lot of time for adventure or excitement.

I'm always looking for something exciting to do, whether it be tinkering with electronics, or bike commuting, or writing a novel, or producing podcasts... whatever sounds exciting, I want to do it.

But I can't do everything I want to. I just don't have the time and energy. (This is kind of a recurring theme on my blog...)

As a dreamer, I'm always trying to balance the reality of modern life with my heart's desire to be an adventurer. Really, I love a good adventure. In fact, you could say I live for those moments, when I'm going down a road I've never seen before, or learning something new. There's a cloud of mystery, a rush of endorphins that comes from doing something exciting and new.

Eventually, I stumbled across an article on Vocations from Art Of Manliness (which seems to be a recurring theme for me). And there were questions there, about how to discover your passions.

For me, passions were something that I've had stamped out of my life repeatedly. I'm passionate about a lot of things... but only things that are monetarily useful are allowed in today's society. As you might imagine, this isn't a great environment in which to find your Passion.


Untangle Router Thoughts Redux

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Sometimes, when you say something and you eventually turn out to be proven wrong (even if it takes 3 years), you have to eat some humble pie.

For the record, the team at Untangle have created an awesome product. I originally didn't use it/like it because there were no affordable home-based versions, and the free version was lacking in features.

However, I'm pleased to say that with Home version pricing for their full product, Untangle is now a serious contender for DIY budget-minded home techies. Here's the rundown on mine, which I built for a grand total of about $150, including the computer, NIC, and a 1-year subscription to Untangle NG (Home license).

The basis for this machine is a tired, refurbished Dell Optiplex I picked up on Amazon for $75. It's not anything spectacular, but for just running a software firewall, it's perfect. It had 2 PCI slots and 1 PCI-express slot, which means you shouldn't have any trouble finding network cards to put in it. I opted for a Rosewill dual-port network card, and since I had a couple extra PCI Intel Pro/1000's sitting around, I threw them in there, too. Plus the onboard LAN port gave me five total network ports I could play with.


Untangle Firewall: Round 2

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Some of you may remember me writing about Untangle Firewall a few years ago. At the time, it was (and still is) an amazing piece of software, but had no affordable option for home networks. So I put it to the wayside, and moved on to other solutions.

When I say Untangle is a solid piece of work, I'm not exaggerating. It has tools that let you control, filter, log, and lock down everything passing through your router. It was just out of my price range for what I needed it to do. I'll even admit, I might have been a bit harsh on them- it really is good- but their business pricing is pretty steep for a home user.

And then recently, I discovered that Untangle released a Home pricing option for the full package. We're talking a $540 value for $50!

Naturally, I was intrigued. So I'm going to pull out my unused firewall mini-PC again, slap a dual-port NIC in it, and give Untangle another (well-deserved) shot.

I'm honestly looking forward to trying it out again, and if it works well for my needs, I will definitely make some how-to's and give them some well-deserved positive publicity. I'm pretty excited.

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Rest, Work, and Sabbath

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

For the last few weeks, I've been busy. It would be safe to say I'm busier now than I ever have been before. And yet, every day I struggle to not feel guilty over the things I didn't get done.

How many things am I involved with that I've put off? Sheesh. Let's see:

  • This blog (thanks for reading! Last updated 2 weeks ago)
  • Weekly posts for The Badass Forge (skipped last week)
  • Occasional posts for the Bike Commuter Cabal blog (last posted there in August)
  • The ADD Masterminds podcast recording/editing (skipped 2 weeks)
  • Not Entirely Unlike Chiptune (last touched this 6 months ago)
  • Restoring a classic car (currently not running, haven't touched it in weeks)
  • WIP non-fiction book on ADD life hacks (haven't seen it in a month)
  • WIP fiction novel(s) (months... maybe years for parts of them)

And these are just the things I do that aren't part of my normal family life, like cooking, Boy Scouts, house renovations, church music, and so on. Those things are getting put on back burners, too. I just can't keep up with everything, so I'm dropping stuff left and right.

Clearly I needed a Sabbath, but what does that look like for a supervillain like me? How can I "rest" when there's so much to do, and being creative restores my soul?

It's a problem indeed.

I will have to make some hard decisions as to what will stay, and what will have to go. But I know my life will be better for it.



Homemade MIDI Filter

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

One of the goals I wanted to do with my guitar stage setup was to be able to control everything the Adrenalinn3 pedal does with two different MIDI foot controllers. This is interesting at least, challenging at best. You can't just combine the output of two pedals, because the Linn doesn't know which pedal the commands came from, and even if it did, it doesn't know what to do with them.

I looked into off-the-shelf pieces to do this, and there were a few that were close, but none of them could do what I needed without custom ROM hacking. I wasn't really interested in that (for time constraints) so I looked into something simpler, easier, and definitely cheaper.

Enter the humble Arduino. This amazing little piece of technology takes a cheap microprocessor and packages it into a board the size of a credit card, with a voltage regulator, and input/output pins. The tools to program them are free and (mostly) easy to use, and they even make DIY add-on kits that let you expand what the board is capable of.


What’s Your “Why?”

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

A lot of what we do nowadays is a waste of time.

There, I said it. If we look at ourselves, we know this is true. Deep down, we know we waste a lot of time.

Now, I'm okay with wasting time every now and then. I love a good video game, or just goofing around. But really, there's a lot of things I do that I could use to evaluate. I mean, I know why I do some things, but that usually means "I just felt like it." That's not really a reason, per se.

So in light of my wife's wonderful thoughts on "Why" I've decided to put together a list of the major time sinks in my life, and then think about why I do them. Here they are, in no particular order:


Information Diet, Week 9

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

A while back, I wrote about how I was going to use Evernote to collect all my social media feeds, so I wouldn't be tempted to check them constantly.

So here I am, about 2 months into my "experiment." Has it worked so far? Well, yes and no.

In one sense, I've narrowed down my information input. I've unfollowed blogs and unfollowed people on facebook and Twitter, just to pare down the stream of junk coming into my "Pending" notebook. So in that sense, it's been an improvement. On the other hand, I'm still easily distracted. I still find myself compulsively checking Twitter every now and then. It is getting better, though.

Some of my tools to channel my feeds into Evernote threw me a monkey wrench this week. Feedly suddenly (with no announcement) changed the ability to export feeds to a paid for feature. Which is fine, I guess, except I don't like it when apps suddenly make features unavailable to non-paying users, or even worse, nullify a paid-for feature and ask you to buy it again. (There's a few apps that are on my blacklist for this reason... Tapatalk is one, Endomondo is another.)

So that means instead of importing a couple of RSS feeds into Evernote, I'd have to set up a feed for every single blog I want to follow. Okay- fair game. I just narrowed down the list to a few I actually care about. That's a win, right?

I took a break from using StayFocusd, because I was always stressing about how much time I had left to use a particular site. I never hit the limit, but it was the constant nagging in my mind that was driving me nuts. I may go back to it later. Just needed a break.

I think overall, the program is working. I'm still not 100% used to it, and when I'm bored I still scroll through Twitter and such for interesting things to fill my brain. But overall, it's improved my focus noticeably.