Archive for May, 2003

No longer barely legal

( _The keywords in that title should drag in some more hits from google. Sorry, no teen porn here_ )

So I passed my PA Motorcycle licensing test today. This time I went to the test armed with the Penn DOT Motorcycle Fact-Sheet and my owners manual. The supervisor read the fact sheet, checked the scooter's specifications, and realized that I was indeed riding a motorcycle. That hurdle cleared, all I had to do was pass the test.

I lucked out here too… The Baretta-wannabe tester (I think his name is Ed, or maybe it was Mr. Assclown) was busy giving a CDL test. So the district manager stepped in to administer the test. He was an actual human, and engaged me in some friendly conversation. He didn't give a crap about me testing on a scooter.

The test was: 3 figure 8s, 4 cone slalom, upshift, downshift, stop… PASS. I think it was pretty obvious I wasn't a beginner, so he didn't get too carried away with the test. A few signatures later and I had my M-class. Horray!

It was a perfect day for the test too… Sunny, just warm enough, with a great 15mile ride to the testing center. After making the trip a few more times, I'm very comfortable on the scooter. I was hauling ass the whole way there and back. Country roads are just so damn fun.

Now I can start counting down the minutes till I pick up my Daytona tomorrow. Waiting has been more excruciating than the xmas when I got my first BMX bike.

Brings back memories

So Slashdot ran a story today about some players that hacked a Shadowbane server and made a mess of things. Ubisoft has it's panties in a bind and is threatening prosecution of the evil doers.

While I'm thoroughly immune to such games now, I'll admit I spent many an hour on the Shadow Mud (a Diku Mud) that ran on my friend's Next. It was '91 and I was a freshman at CMU. I hated the place and did what a lot of people did there… escaped by doing something completely stupid like play Netrek or mud all damn day.

Fortunately, having some access God level powers (via my best friend) allowed me to progress rapidly through the game, see most things, with time grow tired. Eventually I quit/was banned for pulling a stunt similar to the Shadowbane mess.

You can do a lot with God level access, and I managed to do just about everything. I gave super powers to lowly creatures, put the badest bosses in friendly locations, teleported people to nowhere, made items of unreal power, you name it. It was fun in that burning ants with a magnifying glass sort of way… except that it was was better, ants don't scream. The Beastly Fido (a 1hit-point dog that roamed the main city) that we gave Balrog like stats was an absolute riot. 20th level characters were being mowed down in the city streets. I didn't realize people could get that upset.

Although I rarely if ever play games anymore… I definately don't play complex games without some kind of cheat. I'd hate myself if I actually spent the 100+ hours it takes to complete a modern game, and why play if you don't get to the “end.” Generally I gravitate towards shallower games, like Pinball, driving sims, or my all-time favorite Adventure on the Atari 2600.

Congrats to the dickheads who reeked havoc on the Shadowbane server. I'm sure you had quite a laugh, and with luck at least one person will be disgusted enought to go outside.

YAPQ: Yet Another Personality Quiz

Why can't I resist these things… I just took the Matrix Personality Quiz I guess I like being told what I already know….

You are Cypher-

You are Cypher, from “The Matrix.” Selfish, disllusioned, you are misguided at times. You deviate from the “right” path.

I think it was just a few days ago that I mentioned Cypher had the right idea… Except that in addition to the steak, I'd want the Olsen Quintuplets (hey, it's the Matrix, right?) too, although not necessarily in that order.

Understanding Winxp's lame Speedstep support

I have a Dell D800, which has the Intel Centrino chipset with the Pentium-M cpu. I'm also running Win XP which has support for managing the speed of the CPU via built in speedstep technology.

Too bad it sucks. The speedstep magic happens via the Power Management control panel. There are a bunch of power management schemes that you can choose from… but you can't tell what they are really doing. I was getting pissed that during compiles my computer was loafing along at 600mhz even while on AC. I changed the profile a few times and got it to go up, only to have it fallback.

So the first thing I found on Dell's website is a patch for Win XP to resolve some speedstep issues. Great. Except according to a Dell employee on their forum, once you've had the problem it's too late. Some settings get incorrectly set in the registry, and the patch doesn't fix that. Well that's just great. After some experimentation, I think this only means that the Dell supplied power management schemes are buggered as my system does the right thing once I figured out the default schemes.

That's where a Microsoft white paper titled Windows Native Processor Performance Control comes in handy. It explains the various settings that are in play behind the schemes:

None= full power
Adaptive=speed up or down depending on load
Degrade=low speed or worse depending on availible battery.

Power Scheme AC Power DC Power
Home/Office Desk None Adaptive
Portable/Laptop Adaptive Adaptive
Presentation Adaptive Degrade
Always On None None
Minimal Power Management Adaptive Adaptive
Max Battery Adaptive /td>


That still doesn't give me the kind of control I want, but at least I can see how the schemes differ.

Then I found SpeedSwitchXP an excellent GPL'd utility that allows you to see/modify all the settings behind the various power schemes. Sweet.

It does exactly what I wanted. That was when I noticed I had a crashed mozilla in the background (stupid Flash plugin) that was pegging the CPU at 100%. No wonder why the fan was running so much.

Bastards, read your own website

So after complaining to the Bajaj Scooter group about the debacle at the testing center, I got a pointer to Penndot's own website, and this Motorcycle Fact Sheet

I quote:

DEFINITION: A motor vehicle having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not
more than three wheels in contact with the ground.
CRITERIA: 1. Horsepower is more than 5.0.
2. Inspection required.
3. Motorcycle plate issued.
4. Helmet and eye protection required for driver and rider.
5. Annual registration fee is $18.00.
6. Class M required on Driver?s License.

Damn it. The Chetak has 9.0hp. I called Penndot to get confirmation. The first time I called I got a complete idiot operator, I hung up and called back. This time I got someone who could at least read, but was unsure so he passed me up to a supervisor. Finally someone with a clue. She sorted the mess out and started the paperwork to get an official response for me, and to send an update to the testing center if needed.

I'm still pissed more about losing the time than anything. I really was hoping to have this over and done… I've got way too much on my todo list.

Pennsylvania is a pain in my ass

I scheduled a Motorcycle license test last week, for today. I showed up on time, passed the knowledge test (perfect score) and was just about to start the riding portion of the exam.

That's when the examiner said “Is that your white scooter… You _Know_ you can't get a M class license with that… you can only get an M-class with a V-restriction.”

The way he said it really jacked me off… No I don't know it, because it's not mentioned anywhere in the damn Motorcycle Operators manual. And it certainly wasn't mentioned anywhere obvious on the website. It _is_ clearly stated that you need an M-class to ride a scooter. No mention of V-restriction there.

So I asked a few more questions and found out, if I passed on the scooter, and want a full M-class license, I'd have to go through the whole permit thing again. Why bother? So I left without taking the riding portion of the test.

I did see the layout of the course though… and I know how big of a box I need to ride 3 figure 8's in. (What a stupid ass test.)

Hopefully the Daytona has a better turning radius that my old FZR.

School of soft knocks

I started teaching Deb to ride this afternoon.

Deb wrote up her account here:

My account follows:

Deb was very excited and nervous all at once. I knew that it was going to be slow going as it's hard to absorb much in that condition. She doesn't drive either, so she's learning a lot all at once.

She had no problems getting underway, and after a few stalls, she learned to pull the clutch in when she came to a complete stop. I had her drive around the building a few times, me running along side her. Soon she was putting along by herself.

I then started to show her how to make tighter turns. The parking lot was about 30ft wide the entire way around the building. I had her do a lap on just one side of the lot. She made the first turn ok, but at the other corner of the building was a big mud puddle. She started the turn ok, but when the puddle came into view she froze. She was still 15 feet away from it at that point, and only needed to go another 45degrees or so to complete the turn. I too froze, and watched her run right into the puddle, and scrape to a stop against the building. She hopped off, as the scooter fell over and ran sadly on it's side until I ran over and turned it off. Deb just stood there unhurt but visibly shaken. I felt bad because I should have seen that coming. I think I over estimated how much she was learning, and how easy that scooter is to ride.

I'm happy to report that our Chetak suffered no worse than a few small scuffs. It was a bit hard to restart though. After repeated attempts with the starter and with the kickstarter, I did it manually. I put it in 2nd gear, pulled in the clutch, pushed it at a semi run, and let out the clutch. Without drama it came to life, I pulled in the clutch, and hopped on. After a bit Deb settled back down, and we concentrated on using the brakes. I also did some demonstations of turning radius, and stopping distance. I was a little surprised by just how hard/greasy the tires are. Hauling it down from 25 mph in a hurry, it was hard not to lock up the rear. I think it's probably wise to invest in something with a bit more bite.

By the time we got home Deb had more or less shook it off, and said she'd be ready for more tomorrow.

Luke my son

Also got my new helmet (heh) today. I couldn't resist the dark smoke shield to go with it. Swank. Where did I leave the keys for the Tie Fighter?

I'd let my friends see me ride one

Deb and I drove out to Pride of Cleveland Scooters today with trailer in tow. We were picking up a new 2002 white Chetak.

We drove past the shop once or twice (left the directions at home duh!) util we noticed a white scooter, and a half dozen scooter sized wooden crates on the sidewalk. We had found Phil's scooter shop.

After some general BS'ing and looking at the other scooters in the shop, Phil
gave my Deb and I an excellent intro to the Chetak. I know my way around a
bike, but he pointed out all the little details that sometimes take a while to
figure out. He showed Deb what she needed to know, and any doubts about
getting a scooter faded away. I felt really good about buying the bike from

A few minutes of paperwork signing, and a swipe of my credit card, and we were on our way.

We got home, unloaded the bike, returned the trailer, came home again and
grabbed our gear. About 2 minutes later I fired it up, and off I went. After
a lap of the neighborhood, Deb hopped on the back and went for a 15 mile ride.

Impressions: What a nice machine.

Engine: Plenty of power. With a combined weight of ~310#, it had no problem
pulling up the local hills (pretty steep in Pittsburgh) at greater than the
posted 35mph limit. (I'll admit I used all of the powerband, despite only
having 3 miles on the odo. Having rebuilt a motor or two, I'm a believer in
the run-it-hard break-in program. Just don't run it lean, or at the same rpm
for too long.) The only thing I had to get used to was the relatively narrow
rpm range. My last bike had a 14,500rpm redline. The overall experience
wasn't much different than a friend's Honda Rebel 250 I once rode, except the
scooter handled better…

Handling: Surprisingly good. I ran it through some twisty stuff, and it
didn't complain at all. Very neutral, and easy to hold a line if you were
smooth. No ill manners at speed (breifly over 50mph) and unbelievable at low

Brakes: This will take some getting used to. On a sportbike the front brake
is everything. On the Chetak it's pretty anemic. The rear brake definately
gets the job done, but modulating the foot pedal isn't as easy as the front
would be.

Passenger experience: Deb loved it. Once I got her to stop fighting the lean
she made an excellent passenger, although she hogged most of the seat. This
was her first time on a bike of any sort.

Other Stuff: What were they thinking with the turnsignal beeper?!? I started
using hand signals… didn't want anyone to think I was a Mack truck backing
up. I have to fix that. The mirrors are ok. Pretty much what I'm used to.
Neutral light is a little wonky… it seems to register in 1st gear. I
probably need to adjust it. I don't use it but it might help Deb. Having a
gas gauge is excellent. It the first bike I've ever had the had one.

I think we'd have just kept riding if we weren't a bit tired from the drive out
and back.

An enthusiastic 2 thumbs up.


Our 'cycle gear from New Enough arrived yesterday. It's excellent. Everything fit just right, and I was very happy with the choices we made. I'm still waiting for a new lid, and some boots… they should be here in a few days. We decided to take some pictures anyway.

What we are wearing…

Return top