Cool weather and e-bikes observations

So yes I rode in this am. No it was not warm. The main issues were:

  1. The snow in the park was about 15-20cm deep and frozen. My wheels sunk in and then i was full stopped! Revert to the road. No amount of power was going to go through that
  2. The battery provides negligible assist.
  3. I have goggle, they have an anti-fog system (fancy word for holes). This system is not that great 🙂
  4. The front-brakes (hydraulic) froze. So rear-brakes only. I'm not sure what the fluid is, but it was more like tar even for the rear one.
  5. The shock was rock. Ouch.

But, mission accomplished, I made it to the office with all my fingers intact.

The heated gloves you say? Well the 'fever' zones in the gloves do produce heat. Not to be confused with a lot of heat. The user guide suggests ~50-55C. My experience today suggests a much more modest 'lukewarm' temperature.

Cool weather and e-bikes

So it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to corelate that colder weather means less juice in the batteries of your e-bike. This manifests itself in range for sure, but more obviously in torque. There's just a lot less assist available.

Unlike electric cars, e-bikes don't have battery conditioning (like an air-conditioner/heater for the batteries). In your car, some power is diverted to the conditioning system to warm the batteries up (or cool them down). You may hear this as you plug in a level-3 charger and there's a fan-type noise that starts.

Tomorrow morning here in the great white north we have some suggestions from environment Canada that things will be a bit brisk for southern ontario (and much colder elsewhere, hello to all my readers in Wabush!)

So back to me. Normally I leave for the office around 6-630 am. The weather report suggests I'm in for about -21C at that time tomorrow. Crisp. So, poll. Should I ride in tomorrow am?

Should I bike to work tomorrow?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

PS, I always get a kick out of this advice that was sent home to parents.



Lucky iron fish soup

Today I learned about a fish-shaped iron ingot. You can buy one on Amazon!

It was invented as a means of increasing the iron in diets of folks with iron-deficiency and anaemia in Cambodia by a University of Guelph student, and funded through Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Upon observing that pregnant women in Cambodia were suffering from iron deficiency, and observing that cast-iron cookware would help, but was not viewed as good thing, Gavin Armstrong invented the 'lucky iron fish' and spread the story that it was lucky. He took scrap iron, villagers needing jobs, and started making them. Since they were lucky, who wouldn't want one, and put it in with your soup or rice?

Read more about this intersection of science and superstition and entrepreneurship here.

Security and the Cloud: The need for high bandwidth entropy

Entropy. Its the clutter on your desk, the noise from your fan, the randomness in your life. We spent most of our lives trying to reduce entropy (filing things, sorting, making order from chaos).

But what if I told you there is an entropy shortage somewhere near you, and, that you should care? Would you come and lock me up in pyjamas with sleeves in the back? Well.. you see, good entropy (randomness) is important for good encryption. And you use a lot of it when you create connections to things (as well as on an ongoing basis). If someone can predict your randomness, even just a little, your protections are reduced.

Enter the cloud. A big server, shared with a lot of people. I've even heard terms like 'serverless' bandied about for something that looks suspiciously like a server to me, just one that shares with a big pool of the great unwashed.

Lets examine the entropy of one of my home Kubernetes system (which has been pressed into service to build envoy which uses bazel which has previously caused a lot of trouble). See the graph? See how it falls off a cliff when the job starts, and then slowly rebuilds? And this is with a hardware-assisted random-number generator (/rngd is reading from /dev/hwrng). Imagine my poor machine trying to collect randomness, where will it get it from? There's no mouse or keyboard to get randomness from me. It just sits quietly in the basement, same humdrum existence day in and out.

Now, there are usb random number generators (like this one). $100. it generates about 400kbits/s of random. Is it random? Well, that's a hard test to perform. And it matters. What if its random number generator is like the one in my old TI 99 4/A machine? You called 'seed(n)' and it followed a chain.

We could splurge, $300 for this one. Its got 3.2Mb/s of randomness. Maybe I should get a few of these and come up with a cloud service, randomness as a service? O wait, you say that exists?

Mickey Mouse Arrests DDoS Criminal. 10 years hard time!

Now this is getting somewhere. Earlier I wrote about getting no real punishment for big bad deeds online. Seems the powers that be read the blog with the most 🙂

We've got two big sentences here. Mr Daniel Kaye got 3 years for taking down an African mobile carrier (at the behest of their competitor. Oh my! Cellcom plays rough!). He also took down 900K germans and quite a bit of infrastructure, for which he received a suspended sentence. Mirai. You naughty botnet of pvrs and cameras.

But, even bigger, we've got a chap by the name of Martin Gottesfeld. DDoS'd a bunch of hospitals in Boston. Then got in a boat and tried to flee to Cuba. Likely a 3 hour cruise, so just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

Well, seems the seas got rough, the boat looked to be lost, they hit the SoS, and, well, a giant (no doubt panama-flagged) Disney boat picked him up and dropped him off for 10 years of hard time.

And I gotta say, this should be a bit of a deterrent. And it should be, attacking children's hospitals is a dangerous thing, peoples lives hang in the balance (as they would for knocking out a cell phone company).

Read the gory details on BBC, on Krebs, on Reuters.