Robert Aitchison

Menu [toggle]

Shameless Plugs

Help Me Help You

Feel like throwing me a bone without costing you anything? Heck in some cases you may come out ahead.


Follow this link and buy something from Amazon, I get like 4% back.

ING Direct

Open a savings account with ING direct, you get $25 and I get $10. But you have to contact me so I can refer you on this one.

The state (and future) of my home page
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Fri 03 of Feb., 2012 10:58 PST  (907 Reads)

As unlikely as it seems, here's an update for the site. For anyone coming across this page it's pretty obvious that it's been all but abandoned. It's been over 5 years since the site was seeing consistent updates and no updates at all in more than 2 years.

Social media sites have become the place where I put things I want to talk about, for a while I was active on Twitter and I still "tweet" from time to time. Mostly I've moved my content to Google+. I'm still active on Foursquare.

Which brings me back to my own home page, what's the point of it? What I'm going to do is move to a simple "landing page" which will have basic info about me plus links to the social media sites I'm active on. Right now the main reason to keep this page around is the Mazda3 D.I.Y Oil Change Guide which after almost 8 years still gets visited regularly. I'll need to find a new home for that before I take this site down.

In the mean time, as you imagine I've got quite a bit of new stuff to talk about which I'll briefly discuss below. For future updates I'd recommend my Google+ page.

Read More (1830 bytes) Print
Update to my Mazda3 D.I.Y. Oil Change Guide
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Wed 21 of Oct., 2009 09:38 PDT  (2335 Reads)

One of the most popular pieces of content on my page is the Mazda3 D.I.Y Oil Change Guide, originally written in 2004 and not updated since 2005. Still many visitors come here from Mazda sites all over the world, I'm glad my guide has been helpful.

Today I made the first update to the guide in more than 4 years:

  • Added additional information about applicability of the guide to different model years
  • Simplified the Materials Required section and included some additional information, also added part numbers for different brands of oil filters
  • Last but not least changed the license from All Rights Reserved (©) to a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial? 3.0 United States License. Creative Commons License

Mazda3 s 2.3l Do It Yourself Oil Change guide

My Forward Controls installation odyssey
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Mon 12 of Oct., 2009 14:52 PDT  (2658 Reads)

When I originally bought my bike in July, I didn't anticipate that I'd ever want to go on rides longer than 30-40 miles, so I didn't really pay much attention to how comfortable the bike might be for a longer ride of 50 or 100 miles or more. Mostly I was concerned that I could work the controls easily enough for safety purposes.

What I found was that 30-40 miles isn't very far at all, and that I did want to go on the longer rides, what I also found out was that the bike I bought isn't really well suited to me going on these longer rides.

There are two main issues; the most important thing is that the footpegs, along the the gear shift and rear brake were designed for someone much shorter than me with shorter legs (someone from Japan for instance), secondarily the seat isn't really very comfortable after you are in it for a long period of time.

In a car you can adjust your seat position to increase or decrease your distance from the pedals, can't really do that on a motorcycle, in general you don't have much in the way of options. You can replace your seat with one that's more comfortable, of course the good aftermarket seats cost hundreds of dollars. For the foot position you have two basic options, you can get highway pegs, which give you an additional place to rest your feet, but these require that you move your feet back to the stock footpegs if you need to shift or use your rear brake, since that didn't sound like a good plan in case of an emergency situation I deciced to go with the second option, forward controls.

What forward controls do, as the name suggests, is move your footpeg and controls (shift & brake) forward, so you have the more stretched out riding position without having to move your feet to use the controls. These are more expensive but I figured it was the safer choice.

Of course when I made the decision to get the forwards I had no idea how long they would take to arrive and I certinaly didn't know how difficult they would be to install. Here is the story of that install.

Read More (16892 bytes) Print
Google failing at not being evil
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Sat 26 of Sept., 2009 11:54 PDT  (2466 Reads)

Google is one of the most pervasive companies in the world today, Google search dominates and has for some time, other services such as GMail and Google Apps and see extremely widespread adoption. It's not an exaggeration to say that Google has their hands on more data than any other entity and their own intentions are clear, they want to index and categorize all the world's information.

There is quite a bit of joking that Google will take over the world, that the Google systems will become sentient and enslave us and the like. There has also been some serious criticism but by and large Google gets a pass because of thier motto and their generally good behavior.

Their unofficial motto is Don't be evil, of course there is a story behind how that came to be but a big deal has been made about it and by and large Google has been on the not-evil side of other organizations with similar size and scope. After all the potential evil that Google could do is tremendous.

Still from time to time Google does something that is unabashedly evil, in this case they have sent a Cease and Desist letter to Cyanogen, developer of one of the more popular customized versions (known as "ROMs") of the Android platform that Google created and touted for it's supposed openness.

Read More (2362 bytes) Print
When is a difficulty curve more like a wall?
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Mon 14 of Sept., 2009 13:19 PDT  (2132 Reads)

Back in 2008 David got the game Rock Band for his birthday, it's definitely a fun game, it's really the only one we have where everyone in the family can play.

There are four difficulty levels, Easy, Medium, Hard and Expert. I started out playing Bass on Medium and this is where I have run into problems, most of the songs are REALLY easy to play on medium (with one notable exception) usually I'll hit these well over 95% and 100% isn't all that uncommon, I figured I'd move up to hard, yeah that sounds better in theory than it is in practice.

Hard is rEdiculously more difficult than hard, it throws way more notes at you, it throws them at you faster, and it also throws in the use of the orange fret button. I know that these games are marketed towards younger people who have better reaction times and hand-eye coordination but I've already found 2 additional songs I simply can't pass and songs that were >95% are now <85%. They need to add a fifth difficulty and spread it out so that the difficulty curve isn't so steep.

We just got Rock Band 2 so I'm finishing up the remaining attainable achievements in Rock Band and at the same time trying to become halfway competent playing on Hard

New Hobby: Motorcycles
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Fri 04 of Sept., 2009 13:11 PDT  (2143 Reads)

Hey this one actually is new, I've recently purchased and started riding a Motorcycle.

Taken a couple weeks ago

I originally became interested in getting a motorcycle because of traffic, my current commute could be worse but it also could be better, I try to work early hours to minimize the amount of rush hour driving I do but sometimes rush hour doesn't keep to a strict schedule and more often one has to work later than they hoped and ends up stuck in traffic. I would see the people on motorcycles driving between lanes while I'm stilling there and that sounded really appealing.

Of course that idea didn't sound too good to Tove so I let it go, plus my desire for this would ebb and flow based on how bad traffic was at any given time, in general during the school year traffic is worse and during break times it's better.

Additionally I had only been on a motorcycle once before, when I was in the Navy I took a short ride on a buddies Honda sport bike and it didn't go well, I didn't crash but that was more luck than anything. I decided to take a safety course through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and get my license, that way I could get a bike if I wanted to and would actually know how to ride it.

There was a place that offered the courses very close to my house, but there were only a few sessions that were convenient, and these were usually full well in advance, I kept procrastinating until the sessions I wanted to sign up for were full. After quite a a while at this I decided to just sign up for the next convenient class that had an opening.

The time came to take the class and I was amazed at how much fun it was, even the little 250cc bike they had were a blast, I knew I wanted a bike, not for commuting anymore, but just to ride.

Of course the bike may have been a good price but that doesn't mean that the hobby has already gotten expensive as heck

Immediately after the class I started searching craigslist and other sources for a nice, inexpensive bike. I ended up finding a good condition 1987 Suzuki Intruder VS700 for a good price.

Read More (1171 bytes) Print
Disabling comments due to spam (why we can't have nice things)
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Fri 28 of Aug., 2009 12:50 PDT  (2210 Reads)

Sorry for the half dozen actual people who have left comments in the history of my site (including the guy who thinks I'm an asshole) but I had to disable comments.

Apparently since I blew the dust of the site the spammers have been having a field day, leaving almost 4500 spam comments in the past 30 days, I had to use MySQL queries to clear them all out and then I just disabled the feature to prevent a reoccurrence.

Sony still doesn't get it
By: Robert Aitchison  on: Tue 18 of Aug., 2009 15:12 PDT  (2310 Reads)

We currently have three consoles in use at our house (well, four if you count that we have two Xbox 360s), We have the 360, the venerable PS2 and the Wii. Obviously the 360 sees the most use, the Wii hardly ever gets used, but the PS2 surprising sees regular use. We even bought a component video cable for it to eek out every bit of graphics we could from the thing.

The PS2 was my first introduction to the modern era of video games, I bought it primarily so I could play Gran Turismo 3 and Gran Turismo 4 is one of the games we still play, along with Jordan playing the various Ratchet & Clank games.

When the PS3 came out, as expected it had backwards compatibility to play PS2 and PS1 games. The problem was that the PS3 was (is) ridiculously expensive for Sony to manufacturer, the retail price was a staggering $500 for one with a 20Gb hard drive, even at that cost Sony was still losing money. Now it's normal for video game consoles to be sold at a loss, especially when they are new on the market and the components are more "cutting edge" technology, but this was losing a lot more than the norm.

The fact that the PS3 was so expensive led to lackluster (to be kind) sales, Sony in an act of bubris that would embarass Apple thought that everyone would happily pay almost any price for their product, but that simply wasn't the case. Eventually Sony lowered the price, taking an even higher loss on each console, looking for any ways to reduce their cost and by extension the amount of money they would lose they changed the backwards compatibility, instead of including PS2 hardware components in each PS3 they emulated those components in software. Apparently this did not work quite as well as the hardware solution but worked well enough for most people, apparently well enough was more than Sony decided people needed, so they eliminated the PS2 backwards compatibility altogether.

Just today Sony announced a new, cheaper, smaller "PS3 Slim", right now it's evenly matched in price with the Xbox 360 Pro, and where the Xbox 360 Elite is expected to go imminently While having the PS3 be priced competitively is certianly a good thing, the new unit STILL lacks backwards compatibility.

Read More (1054 bytes)