Morning Headlands Ride

Posted in personal, san francisco at 10:07 am by danvk

On my way in to work Friday morning, I took a detour via the Marin Headlands:

It was a total whiteout on the Golden Gate Bridge, but as soon as I got to the north bay, it cleared right up. I went back into the fog for the ~800 foot climb up Hawk Hill before breaking through and getting some amazing views from the top:

Top of the World

I saw a fighter plane zoom into the city, which made me briefly think that it was Fleet Week. Not so! (It’s in October.)

The ride down the back side was misty, beautiful and frighteningly slick. All in all, I left at 7:40 and got into work with a change of clothes right around 10.

One more view from the top:
View from Headlands


Cabbie Karma

Posted in personal at 10:44 am by danvk

I rode a cab to Joe and Amy’s wedding yesterday. It cost $5.05. In a rare moment of innumeracy, I handed the driver a $20 bill and asked for $16 in change. (I’d meant to ask for $14.)

In the confusion that ensued, I wound up paying $5 for my ride to an unhappy cab driver and got out before realizing what had happened. I felt terrible — my cabbie karma was at zero.

On the ride home, I resolved to do better. It was $6.15, so I gave the driver a $10 and asked for $2 back. He handed me a single bill. I was about to complain when I noticed that it was a $2 bill. A sure sign that my cabbie karma had been restored!


Close to Me

Posted in personal, san francisco at 11:44 am by danvk

While walking around my block with an out-of-town friend the other day, I found myself pointing out all the restaurants I had never been to. How could I be so remiss? Part of it is the sheer number of food places: 40 within a three block radius.

Here they are. I’ve been to the bolded places. The links go to Yelp.

Within one block (3/4):

  1. Cafe du Soleil
  2. rotee (Indian)
  3. S&W Market
  4. Two Jack’s Seafood

Within two blocks (8/13):

  1. Chili Cha Cha’s Thai Food
  2. Cu Co’s Restaurant
  3. Estela’s Fresh Sandwiches
  4. Indian Oven
  5. Kate’s Kitchen
  6. Lo-Cost Meat and Fish Market
  7. Metro’s Caffe
  8. Nickie’s (bar)
  9. Roland’s Bakery
  10. Squat & Gobble
  11. Thep-Phnom (Thai)
  12. Three Twins Ice Cream
  13. Volare Pizza

Within three blocks (12/23):

  1. Abe’s Market
  2. Bistro St. Germaine
  3. Burger Meister
  4. Cafe International
  5. Castro Coffee
  6. Golden Natural Foods
  7. Hanabi Japanese Restaurant
  8. La Carreta Taqueria
  9. Love ‘n Haight Deli & Cafe
  10. Mad Dog in the Fog
  11. Memphis Minnie’s
  12. Molotov’s (bar)
  13. Mythic Pizza
  14. Naan and Chutney
  15. Noc-Noc (bar)
  16. O’Looney’s Market
  17. PeaCock Lounge (bar)
  18. Raja Cuisine
  19. Rosamunde (“the sausage place”)
  20. Tacqueria El Castillito
  21. Toronado (bar)
  22. Uva Enoteca
  23. Whole Foods Co

Now that I have a list, there’s no excuses!


A Great Twitter Experience

Posted in personal, web at 10:50 am by danvk

As danvk.org regulars know, I recently joined Twitter. I had a great experience with it last weekend and came away feeling as though I’d “seen the future”.

I ran into Tyler Hinman last weekend at a friend’s Oscars party. Tyler’s claim to fame was that he’d won the American Crosssword Puzzle Tournament the previous four years, starting in 2005 when the movie Wordplay was filmed. Tyler played a major role in that movie.

Tyler told us that he’d be trying to make it five times in a row the next weekend. So, come the weekend, I was curious to see how he did.

After one day of competition, the official results page showed Tyler in fourth with one puzzle left before the finals. If you’ve seen Wordplay, you know that fourth place is a bad spot to find yourself. Only the top three finishers qualify for the finals.

On Sunday, the standard news sources weren’t helpful. A crossword tournament is not exactly front-page material. The official tournament page hadn’t been updated. Even the bloggers would take another few days to tell the story. So I tried Twitter.

I searched for #acpt and saw these two results:

Tim-boone-tristin_normal boonebgorges: Congrats on the fivepeat to Tyler Hinman, and nice work to Francis and Trip for a valiant final round! #acpt
Bzbz2_normal bgzimmer: #acpt The thrilling conclusion of the crossword tourney, now on YouTube: http://tinyurl.com/dzx5uw

Not only did I immediately get the bit of news I wanted, I also got to watch it on video!

I’m not saying this is a great way to get news in general. A crossword puzzle tournament is more likely draw the twitterers than most events. But just consider that this would not have been possible even one year ago.


Fun with a Wireless Repeater

Posted in personal at 11:27 am by danvk

I recently purchased and installed a Belkin F5D7132 Wireless Repeater. It was $37 on Amazon, about half to a third the price of most other options. Most reviews along the lines of this one: “Hard to configure, a charm once [it's] done”. I thought I’d share my experiences, in case they’re helpful to anyone.

Here’s the basic layout of my apartment:

The wireless router is in the living room, and all the bedrooms come off a long hallway. My bedroom is the farthest from the living room. Somewhere between the middle bedroom and my bedroom, the throughput falls off a cliff. (I measured this using the Speakeasy Internet Speed Test)

My plan was to install the repeater somewhere in the middle bedroom, just before the performance cliff.


I followed the instructions on this Amazon review, rather than those in the instruction booklet. You’ll need a Windows machine to set the thing up, nothing else will do. The basic trick is to make sure that you’re plugged directly into the repeater via Ethernet when you run the setup utility, and that you’re on the same subnet. Its default IP is This is pretty unusual, so it’s not going to “just work”.

After the subnet business, the most annoying part of the install was the ethernet cable that Belkin included with the Repeater. It kept slipping out of my laptop. Most of the problems I had were solved by shoving the ethernet jack back in place.

Once I got into the web interface, there were a few more hiccups. The first time I set its parent network and network name, it rebooted the router. When it came back, only the parent network had been set. But after one more change and reboot, everything was working fine.

Security: I chose the WPA-PSK, but had to switch from TKIP (the default) to AES to get it to work with my Macbook.

I also gave the Repeater a different SSID (network name) than the main wireless router. This made testing it much simpler, since I knew which one I was connected to.

Placing the Repeater

The absolute key for this was AP Grapher, a Mac OS X application that plots wireless strength over time. I would place the repeater, then watch the signal strength plummet as I walked around the corner, into the hallway and into my room. After experimenting with a few locations, I realized that:

  1. The Repeater’s antenna is much better than my laptop’s.
  2. The Repeater’s antenna is much worse than the main router’s.

As soon as there was even a single wall between my laptop and the repeater, its signal strength was indistinguishable from the main router’s. So here’s the configuration I wound up using:


This is not at all how I’d expected my setup to look, but you can’t argue with results! Here are the details:

  Before After
Signal (db) -55 -36*
Noise (db) -95 -96
Downlink (KB/s) 378.9 853.8
Uplink (KB/s) 342.1 692.3

The uplink/downlink stats are the most impressive. The “Signal” stat is misleading, since it’s only half the story. There are two wireless connections (Router to Repeater, Repeater to Laptop) and this only represents the strength of the latter.

When it’s all said and done, $37 for a 2.5x wireless speedup made the Belkin F5D7132 a great investment!

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