AnalogSenses

By ÁLVARO SERRANO

Giovanni Pinarello dies at the age of 92 →

September 07, 2014 |

John Stevenson:

Giovanni Pinarello, founder of the Italian bicycle manufacturer whose frames have been ridden to Tour de France glory by the likes of Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Miguel Indurain and Jan Ullrich, has died at the age of 92.

I am deeply saddened by this news. Pinarello was a living legend in the cycling world. My road bicycle is a Pinarello Montello SLX, the same model that Spanish cyclist Pedro Delgado rode to victory in the 1988 edition of the Tour de France.

In this image we can see Delgado and the rest of team Reynolds, including Miguel Indurain, who would go on to win 5 consecutive editions of the Tour from 1991-1995. They are all riding Pinarellos, and would continue to do so for the entirety of Indurain’s career:

Reynolds team during the 1988 edition of the Tour de France

These bicycles will be forever linked to some of the most memorable feats in the history of the sport.

Riposa in pace, signore Pinarello.

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Christina Warren hacks her own iCloud account →

September 05, 2014 |

Some serious reporting by Christina Warren:

For just $200, and a little bit of luck, I was able to successfully crack my own iCloud password and use EPPB to download my entire iCloud backup from my iPhone. For $400, I could have successfully pulled in my iCloud data without a password and with less than 60 seconds of access to a Mac or Windows computer where I was logged into iCloud.

It looks like iCloud backups are far more vulnerable to attack from experienced hackers than we thought.

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mattgemmell.com turns 10 →

September 05, 2014 |

Today marks a decade since I started writing here at mattgemmell.com. I’d like to thank you for reading my words throughout the years.

Huge congratulations to Matt. I’m sure the next ten years will be even better.

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The impracticality of nice

September 04, 2014

I love bicycles.

I believe it’s one of the most remarkable inventions in human history and if I can, I ride one every day. I don’t mean in a sporty, lycra-clad kind of way, but as a normal person wearing everyday clothes. The bicycle is my usual means of transportation in Madrid.

Bicycles thrive in the city, where the average trip is often just a couple km long. In that scenario it is usually, by far, the most convenient way to move from point A to point B,1 without having to worry about things like finding a parking spot. It also happens to be really good for your health.

Up until 2011 I had been using the same bicycle since I was 15 years old: an old Kona Lava Dome from 1998. I love it. I’ve used the heck out of it for over 10 years and it’s never let me down. It’s still in pretty good shape, considering the abuse it has endured over the years. However, riding a mountain bike in the city, especially one like Madrid, is not ideal, so after a couple years of daily use I decided it was time for a change.2

I also appreciate nice things. That’s why I’m a Mac and iOS user, among other things. I value attention to detail and I recognize great design when I see it. When someone sweats the details, it shows. And I like that.

When it comes to sweating the details in the bicycle world, there’s a name that’s in a class of its own: Bianchi. They’re the oldest bicycle manufacturer in the world. They’ve been making bicycles since 1885, almost 130 years ago, and they’re a fundamental part of the history of the bicycle.

It should then come as no surprise that when I decided to buy my first nice bicycle, I chose a Bianchi:

It’s a beautiful Bianchi Pista Steel from 2011, and it was the first bicycle I ever bought for myself. Today I own four different bicycles, but the Bianchi remains the only one I have purchased new from a local bike store. It’s gorgeous.3

The craftsmanship and attention to detail are evident anywhere you look. In the time that I’ve had it, I’ve replaced and upgraded many of its components, but its essence remains intact: that beautiful piece of chrome-finished steel with Bianchi decals on it. The frame is the true soul of a bicycle, and mine’s is a stunner.

Riding it is also one hell of an experience. Fixed-gear bicycles are so much fun. I hadn’t enjoyed myself so much on a bike since I was 10 years old. I feel very fortunate to own this bicycle, because it is exactly the one I wanted.

However, in the past 12 months, I have barely touched it. It’s been mostly sitting on its rack at home, begging to be used. And it makes me sad.

Why?

The problem with nice things is that they tend to get noticed more than we’d like, and my Bianchi is not an exception. It gets looks and comments from strangers on a regular basis. Most of them are compliments, with the occasional bit of skepticism thrown in for good measure.4 I like it when a stranger feels curious about my bike, but all that attention means the idea of leaving it locked on the streets makes me extremely uneasy.

For a while, I managed. I resorted to pretty much the only thing I could do: I would take the bike with me anywhere I went, even if it was a place were bicycles are normally not allowed. I have taken it inside clothing stores, banks… you name it. Even restaurants. It certainly made for some interesting conversations with the security personnel sometimes.

After a while though, I got tired of arguing. Laziness started to creep in, and I realized it wasn’t worth it to keep fighting about the bike all the time, instead of doing whatever I was supposed to be doing. I just wanted to get my stuff done with as little fuss as possible, and in that regard, my bike wasn’t helping.

And so, last year I decided to try a different approach and I bought another bicycle. A beater bike, as they say. They’re the polar opposite of nice bikes: the kind of bikes no one would bother to steal, but even if someone did, you wouldn’t really care that much.

If you take your time, it’s pretty easy to find an old bicycle in reasonably good condition for very little money. After a few weeks looking I eventually found a great candidate: a classic hybrid Peugeot Eton 21 from 1990. It was in pretty good shape and I bought it for about $80.5 That’s almost 20 times cheaper than my Bianchi. And you know what? It may be the best purchase I’ve ever made.

Sure, it’s no head-turner: it’s old, the frame is rusty in places and it has a certain utilitarian look to it, but that’s precisely the point. It blends right in. So much so, in fact, that last week I forgot to remove my LED lights and left them on the bike over the weekend and when I came back, after a full 72 hours on the street, the lights were still there. Nobody had even looked at the bike twice. That’s peace of mind that money can’t buy.

Thanks to this bike, I have discovered the pleasures of stress-free riding. I don’t care if it gets chipped, or stolen. I even leave it out on the street at night. Not having to carry a bike on the elevator every time I leave the house is another huge plus. Anytime I want to use it, it’s right there, waiting for me. It’s truly become the most convenient means of urban transportation I’ve ever used.

Besides, since I don’t need to worry about aesthetics, I can put big, fat tires on it, fenders and a huge rack to help me carry my bags. Now it’s the bike that carries the heavy weight instead of my back, and it’s awesome. I get wherever I’m going without breaking a sweat, lock it up in 15 seconds and off I go. As far as convenience goes, it’s pretty hard to beat.

The more I keep using it, the more I realize that this is exactly what an urban bicycle should be. Functional, discrete. Bombproof. I love it.

But then I look back at the Bianchi and, once again, I feel sad. Sad because even though I love nice things, I realize that sometimes, nice is not the best choice. Sometimes ugly is the answer.

It’s a lesson I’m still struggling to assimilate, but I’m making progress. I don’t think I’m quite ready to sell the Bianchi though. I still ride it occasionally, and enjoy it immensely. It is a wonderful piece of engineering and craftsmanship and, as someone who loves bicycles, it represents an ideal; the embodiment of my passion for these mechanical marvels.

We all have some guilty pleasures, and this is mine. Owning a nice bicycle makes me happy, even if it’s not particularly useful, or practical.

Ugly certainly has its moments, but that doesn’t mean that we have to forever let go of nice.

Fortunately, as far as bicycles are concerned, there’s always Rule No. 12.


  1. This is what worldwide bicycle ambassador Michael Colville-Andersen very logically calls “A-to-B-ism”.

  2. For obvious sentimental reasons, I hesitate to call it an upgrade.

  3. There’s something special about restoring an old object and giving it new life. That’s why I always prefer restoring old bicycles as opposed to buying new ones, with the Bianchi as the sole exception.

  4. “How can you ride a bike without gears?”, is a frequent favorite of mine.

  5. You should always ask for proof of ownership when dealing with used items on the Internet. Otherwise you risk ending up with a stolen bike. If no proof of ownership exists, my advice is to pass on it. Or at the very least, use this sample contract. It’s a good way to protect yourself against any possible theft claims that could come your way in the future.

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Olympus Drops Worldwide Warranty Policy for its New Camera and Accessories | The Phoblographer →

September 04, 2014 |

Speaking of Olympus:

Don’t go doing anything too dangerous with that new Pen E-PL7 as the company has just announced it will stop adding worldwide warranty support for its new digital cameras and accessories. While every piece of Olympus camera equipment has come with a worldwide warranty card since April 2014, now these globetrotting service packages will be reserved for a smaller set of products.

If you were thinking of buying a new Olympus camera or lens overseas to save money, you may want to reconsider.

At least worldwide warranties for equipment purchased before September 2014 will still be honored.

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Shawn Blanc on the new Olympus E-PL7 mirrorless camera →

September 04, 2014 |

As awesome as the E-PL7 looks when compared to its younger sibling, I don’t know that it’s a no-brainer of a purchase. It’s terribly close in price to the E-M10, and the slight savings of $100 means you’re not getting things I think are easily worth that $100 (especially once you’re up in that price range already).

I agree with his assessment. The E-PL7 looks like a nice camera, but it’s just too close to the E-M10 in price to justify its purchase.

There’s something else I find curious. Olympus is widely expected to introduce new camera models in the upcoming Photokina. The fact that they chose to reveal the E-PL7 barely a month before the fair, as opposed to waiting for it may suggest that they have something big up their sleeve, and they don’t want whatever they’re planning to announce to share the spotlight with any other camera.

Now I’m intrigued.

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Ben Brooks on the leaked pictures scandal →

September 04, 2014 |

Speaking of the leaked celebrity pictures:

It doesn’t matter if the stolen pictures were of landscapes or boobs, it was still theft and the only person to blame is the person who did the theft. Not the victim.

If your house is broken into you, don’t call Schlage and get pissed at them because the lock on your door was bypassed — you call the cops and they go after the person who broke in (not you, not Schlage).

That’s precisely what most people seem to forget with this whole thing. There is not a system in the world that is 100% impervious to malicious attacks. However secure a system may be, there is always some risk that your data may be accessed.

Instead of obsessing over who’s to blame, perhaps we should all be focusing more on finding the people responsible.

PS: At the time of publication (September 3, 2014), this article was only accessible to members of The Brooks Review. If you enjoy it, you should consider becoming a member and supporting Ben’s work.

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Security Trade-Offs | Daring Fireball →

September 04, 2014 |

John Gruber on the intrinsic risks associated with cloud-based backups:

It is thus, in my opinion, terribly irresponsible to advise people to blindly not trust Apple (or Google, or Dropbox, or Microsoft, etc.) with “any of your data” without emphasizing, clearly and adamantly, that by only storing their data on-device, they greatly increase the risk of losing everything.

Well said. “Just don’t put your stuff in the cloud” is about the worst advice you can give.

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