Thursday, 28 February 2013

Telemark skiing equipment


Klevstul doing a telemark turn while photographer Christian Løverås saves the moment.

A lot of equipment is needed for doing telemark (note: Telemark with a uppercase "T" means the Telemark county in Norway, telemark with a lowercase "t" means "telemark skiing" aka. "free heel skiing"). The equipment is also quite pricey, so there is a lot to save if you get used equipment in stead of brand new one.

Below is an overview of everything needed (that money can buy, skills you need to acquire another way) for doing telemark. Everything from top to toe should be on this list. So if it's not here you do most likely not need it. Like a GPS watch, or a waterproof pouch for your mobile. It is nice to have, but you do not need it (you do not need to bring your mobile).

I want to make clear that I've not been sponsored by any of the brands mentioned in this post. I've picked my equipment simply based on own experiences and reviews.

Helmet
One of the most important items for going skiing is without doubt the helmet. People that ski without helmets are plain stupid, and that includes myself as well. Helmets are not all about looks, despite it has become very fashionable. It's important that the helmet fits and is comfortable to wear. I wear the Giro Seam, which is both warm, comfortable and highly adjustable.

Goggles
I do not like to spend much money on goggles. The reason being is that it takes not more than a few trips in the forest before my goggles are all scratched. At the moment I'm just wearing some el-cheap'o plastic I bought in Japan, called "Axe". The much nicer skiing goggles from Electric, that I am wearing on the pictures attached to this post, are long gone, unfortunately.

Back pack
If you go off-piste skiing you need a back pack. I'm using a snow pack from Dakine, as their packs has got some neat solutions for skiiers, and snowboarders.

Snow shovel & avalanche probe
As well, if you do go off-piste, you need a shovel and a probe. Beware that there is NO point having this equipment if you are not 100% sure on how to use it while being stressed out like hell. I'm no longer doing risky off-piste skiing, so I no longer use this type of equipment. However, I used to have a no-brand (?) 120 cm probe whose bag read "lavinen probe sonde nix" and a the 3D Pro snow shovel from Life Link. I've heard experts saying that you do need a metal shovel in stead of a plastic one, as the plastic ones is no good if the snow is too hard packet.

Back protection
You do not want to injure your back, hence it is wise investing in a back protection as well. I've got the Komperdell airshock vest with kidney belt.

Jacket
Having a jacket might be a good idea, at least for some. I prefer shell only jackets, like a multi layer Gote-TEX jacket. I've had a jacket from Burton's AK collection for years, and I love it.

Avalanche transceiver
A good beacon, that is easy to operate, is also important when doing off-piste. Before, when I spent more time off-piste, I was using the Tracker DTS.

Gloves
I hate being cold on my fingers and are using the warmest mittens I've found, the Burton AK Oven Mitt.

Hip protection
It might be wise to protect your hips and tail bone as well. I'm wearing the Komperdell Protector Cross Short while skiing.

Pants
I've got the multi layer Gore-TEX pants from Burton's AK collection. Another piece of garment that I really like.

Poles
The Leki Spitfire poles are neat, and I do love the possibility to take off your poles in a matter of a second. That is why they are my choice when it comes to skiing poles.

Knee protection
As a telemark skier you need some protection for your knees. Otherwise it is insane to go off-piste, as your knees are doomed to hit a rock or a tree sooner or later. I'm using padded volleyball knee supports from Rehband, that I always wear, also when I'm in the slope. When I go off-piste I wear some kneepads from Black Diamon (the TeleKneesis Kneepad), on top of my Rehband pads. Double protection, because my knees are worth it.

Boots
For me there is only one telemark boot, and that is the top of the line model from Crispi, the Crispi Evo NTN (with support for New Telemark Norm bindings). I've tried Scarpa and Garmont, but nothing can compare with these top boots from Crispi. They are simply the best.

Bindings
NTN, or the New Telemark Norm ftw (for the winter)! I feel truly sorry for everyone that stopped doing telemark before these bindings came on the market, which happened around four-five years ago, well after the 90s telemark boom had ended. It takes some time to get used to the NTN, as the bindings are a lot stiffer, and you actually have more control of your inner ski as well. You can adjust the stiffness though, with different power tubes. The NTN system takes telemark to a new level, and gives the rider a complete new control (it sounds like I'm paid by Rottefella, but I'm actually not). With the NTN bindings Rottefella has managed to make the gap in between telemark and alpine a lot smaller (there still is a hefty gap though). I'm using the Rottefella NTN Freeride, with blue power tubes on my racing skis and green tubes for my off-pist skis.

Skis
Without good skis the skiing experience will not become a good one. I used to have three pair of skis, one giant slalom pair for the slopes, one twin tip pair for fooling around, and one pair of fat boards for the powder. At the moment I "only" have two pairs though, but I might have to get back a "play-pair".
My racing skis: Fischer RC4 World Cup Giant Slalom with radius >21m.
My powder skis: Fischer Big Stix 120.

Warm underwear
You do need some warm underwear as well, and some good warm socks, and maybe a neck warmer for those cold days.

Get started!
So what are you waiting for? Telmark skiing is pure awesomeness, and with today's equipment you might experience a revelation.

Frode Klevstul in Hemsedal, Norway (photo: Christian Løverås photography).

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Light Cycle core exercise

Core exercise is not just important, it is great fun as well. Recently I've started doing "The Light Cycle aka. The TRON". Of course, this exercise is not complete before you do it on your toes. However, it's not a bad idea starting on your knees.



Related posts: | Floor to board | Six different core exercises |

Back to the 80s



Listen to Kavinsky.
Watch Drive.
Play Hotline Miami.

Friday, 22 February 2013

SRM winter edition 2013

Wednesday 20th of March it was time for the yearly Sognsvann Rundt Medsol free-to-join organiser's race. Last year I got sick before the race, this year my leg is "broken". However, I was there, helping out the SRM crew. Here are some shots and a experimental video taken in the dark. And yes, there was one guy wearing nothing but his undies. Guess whom.



Vemund and Marianne, cold but happy being back at Sognsvann.

Waiting for the gift cards from Löplabbet to be handed out.

Eiksund with give aways, and Sharon.

Mr Leira with tonight's prizes.

Somewhere in between six and eight degrees cold, but still around 50 people came.

Andreas (3rd fastest guy) brought candles and made it all very cosy.

Peeps, page one. The winner ran in 12:37 and there were no losers.

In a few weeks, on the 3rd of April, the SRM season 2013 will start.

I'm back

I had not done a single telemark turn in four years, before this Wednesday that was. Now I am back. Luckily that is a very good feeling as I had almost forgotten how fun skiing is.

These days there are not many people left doing telemark, compared with the 90s when it was the big thing in Norway. Now most people are doing alpine skiing. I don't blame them as alpine is great fun as well. To me though, the argument that there are very few telemark skiers left, was one of several reasons why I didn't convert to alpine.

NTN
NTN Freerride (src: rottefella.no)

Over the years I've used several bindings for telemark skiing. From the old 75mm 3-pin binding, to a variety of Rottefella cable bindings, like the Chilli, Cobra and what have you got. Back in 2009 I was using Linken. Now I decided to go for the New Telemark Norm, or the NTN system. As these bindings are very stiff I found it challenging skiing again. After two days of skiing I still has not managed the transition. However, I'm determined to get there. I do believe that the NTN is a brilliant system, when you get used to it. Having said that, it's possible to change the springs / power tubes. I'm using blue (medium). Below is a video of me, struggling with finding back to the great feeling of mastering a carving telemark turn.



Equipment
What has kept me back from doing telemark, for this long, has been the amount of equipment that is needed. It's quite costly when you have to get almost everything, from goggles to skis. And that was the case with me, since I unfortunately did get a bit trigger happy on finn.no back in 2010. I thought I would end up in Australia, so it seemed like a smart move back then.










Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Distance and records

It's interesting comparing distance, and time of year, with when records are set. I'm very satisfied when I get 50 - 60 km a week. However, as displayed on the chart below I sometimes I run a bit more, often less. It depends what your running goals are, but there is no doubt it's possible doing OK with around 50 km. Running less gives more time to train alternatively, and hence less chance of getting injured. Having said that, it's still possible getting injured with few kilometres a week as well though.

Below is an interactive diagram that shows my weekly kilometres along with my personal records. I haven't added any data from before September 2009, as I unfortunately used Polar Personal Trainer back then. If I one day feel bored enough I might import some of those numbers as well, as I have recorded my training sessions back to October 2007.

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Monday, 18 February 2013

Photo gadget for Blogger


Intro
Creating your own photo gadget / widget for a blogspot.com / Blogger blog.

The challenge
I've got a separate blog for photos (here is some info). I'm mainly using flickr for uploading and pushing photos to the blog. However, as well I've set up Instagram to do the same. The challenge is that there was no very neat way to present pictures from my photo blog on main blog (chronicles.no, this blog). Hence I ended up having to make something myself. Here is how it was done.

What you need
To do this yourself you would need a server where you can run a small program. I ended up developing in Perl. It might be possible to do the exact thing just using JavaScript rendering on the fly, but I never got that far.

The program
The program below parses the RSS feed for my picture blog and outputs a HMTL file using the Blogger gadget format.
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Cron
The program has been added to cron and runs once every 5 min:
*/5 * * * * /usr/bin/perl /home/klevstul/www/klevstulCom/scripts/kThumb/kThumb.pl; date >> /home/klevstul/www/klevstulCom/scripts/kThumb/crontab.log

The gadget
The output file became a Blogger gadget that I added to my blog.

Adding your own gadget.

kThumb picture gadget

The gadget presented below the banner and above the posts.

The final result.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Oracle development environment


Intro
Below I'm describing a way to set up a developing environment for using an Amazon RDS instance of Oracle.

Having an Oracle instance up and running on RDS and have gotten SQL Developer connected (read more here) the next step was to set up a local environment for development. You can do everything described below in SQL Developer, however I prefer not to.

In brief
Using a database modelling tool I generate an SQL file for (re)creating the entire database (like "crebas.sql"). As I in a development phase constantly are doing changes to the database this file is updated and executed frequently. Next to this I like to write own PL/SQL code using Komodo Edit. These files are as well executed at all times. To execute I prefer using SQL*Plus from the command line. To avoid bloated software packages I'm using SQL*Plus with Oracle's Instant Client.

Oracle Instant Client and SQL*Plus
Download Oracle Instant Client (I use the Basic package) along with the SQL*Plus package. Unzip all these files into the same folder somewhere appropriate on your computer. Note that no installation program is needed. Unzipping is all that has to be done.

Oracle Instant Client.

Having unzipped these files you need to add the path to this folder to the PATH environment on your computer. This so you can start SQL*Plus from anywhere using the command prompt (cmd).

Control Panel.

Go to your control panel, search for "environment" and click the "Edit the system environment variables" link. Then click the "Environment Variables" button in the new window that shows. Locate "Path" under "System variables", click "Edit" and append the path to your Instant Client folder to the already existing string.

Adding the path to your Instant Client folder.

Having done this you should be able to execute the sqlplus.exe directly from the command prompt, no matter what folder you're starting it from.

Starting SQL*Plus from the command line / command prompt.

Starting SQL*Plus from a customised command prompt.

login.bat and login.sql
For each Oracle database related project I have a folder containing all PL/SQL code. In this folder I create a .bat file used for logging into the database. Not that you do NOT need a "tnsnames.ora" file for connecting to a database. In stead you can simply specify the full connection string from the command prompt:

sqlplus username/password@(DESCRIPTION=(ADDRESS=(PROTOCOL=TCP)(HOST=myhost.mydomain)(PORT=1521))(CONNECT_DATA=(SERVER=DEDICATED)(SERVICE_NAME=servicename)))

What I do is creating a bat file with this information, to avoid having to type all this every time. Please note that you might not want to store the password in the clear.

Example connecting to a Amazon RDS hosted database from SQL*Plus without a "tnsnames.ora" entry:

sqlplus sleeptracker/thisispassword@//privyinstance.cdhzvkd198ux.us-east-1.rds.amazonaws.com:1521/PRIVYDB

You might also want to create a "login.sql" file in the same directory, for initiating SQL*Plus. By default I use the following two lines in "login.sql":

set hea off
set serveroutput on

Having created those two files development is a lot easier.

PL/SQL directory.

SQL*Plus made easy.

Komodo Edit execution
Execution of SQL statements directly from Komodo Edit might also come in handy. To do this all you now need is to create a command (note the extra @"%F" that is needed for executing current file):

sqlplus sleeptracker/thisispassword@//privyinstance.cdhzvkd198ux.us-east-1.rds.amazonaws.com:1521/PRIVYDB  @"%F"

Komodo Edit command.

You might as well have to add the Instant Client directory as a PATH here as well. See the above screenshot.

Execution of SQL directly from within Komodo Edit.

Amazon Relational Database Service


I finally found some time to check out Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for Oracle. Over all it was straight forwards, but I did run into a few issues. This post is a note on what problems I had and how I solved them, along with a brief "howto" for setting up Oracle on RDS.

Create your account
First of all you need to sign up for Amazon Web Services (Amazon AWS). That is a straight forward process that I won't comment any further.

Create your database instance
Having your account you should access the RDS panel and start setting up your own database instance.

With the wizard it's quite simple.

Pick the RDBMS of your choice. For my test case I went with Oracle Standard Edition One (se1).

Summary of preferences chosen. Only pick BYOL if you have an Oracle licence already.

Enable connection
For you to be able to connect to the database you have to enable connection from your IP or your IP range. This is done under "DB Security Group" in the RDS control panel.

Add the IP range of your choice.

Note: If you forget this step you will get a time-out trying to connect to your database.

SQL Developer: IO Error: The Network Adapter could not establish the connection.

SQL Developer
A great tool to manage an Oracle database is Oracle's own SQL Developer, which should be quite simple to set up. However, I did run into some issues here due to being on a 64-bit Windows 7 system (due to not reading the documentation well enough). I did get error messages like "unable to launch the java virtual machine" and "msvcr100.dll is missing from your computer". This was due to me having installed a 32-bit JDK (first error message) and using version 7 in stead of 6 of Java (latter error message). At the time of writing SQL Developer only supports Java versions below 7. When I removed the problem versions of Java and installed it all over again, it worked just fine.

With the x64 / 64bit JDK (SDK) version 6 update 39 it worked just fine.

Note: If you get the error message "cannot find j2se skd installed" when starting SQL Developer it means you have to download the JDK and install it.

Starting SQL Developer also gave the error code "_execv() failed, err=2". This I simply ignored, as it didn't seem to matter. After a restart of the machine the error message also disappeared.

Connect
After 10-20 minutes your database instance should be ready, and you can connect to it.

Status: available.

Click the database instance in the control panel to view more details.

DB instance details.

Here you'll find the details needed for setting up a connection in SQL Developer. Note that endpoint is the same as hostname and that DB Name equals SID. If you're using a wrong value for SID you'll get the error message "ORA-12505, TNS:listener does not currently know of SID given in connect descriptor".

SQL Developer connection settings.

Test the connection. If you've done everything as described above it should read "success" in the down left corner of the connection settings window.

Create a new database user
You should of course not use your master user for developing. Hence you have to set up a new database user. If you know databases this should be straight forward.

Note: RDS is using Oracle Managed Files, hence no need for creating and administrating tablespaces, log files and control files.

Example of SQL needed for setting up a new user (done as master user), with some standard access rights:

CREATE USER SLEEPTRACKER
    IDENTIFIED BY "thisispassword";

GRANT CONNECT TO SLEEPTRACKER;

GRANT RESOURCE TO SLEEPTRACKER;

GRANT CREATE DATABASE LINK TO SLEEPTRACKER;

GRANT CREATE VIEW TO SLEEPTRACKER;

Note: If you have granted "resource" to your newly created user, but still get "ORA-01031: insufficient privileges" (when for example trying to create a table) it might be because you logged in with that user before the grants were executed. Try logging in and out again.

Now you can create a new connection in SQL Developer for your new user, log in and start developing.


select * from hello_world;

Twidere for identi.ca


I'm using identi.ca for microblogging. This is because I like to have more control of the content I do write, than what for example Twitter gives me. With Twitter you didn't even use to be able to get hold of your old tweets. Luckily this has changed now though, as you can request your archive. I've also set up identi.ca, using dlvr.it, so that if I use the tag "_t" somewhere in my post, the post is automatically published on Twitter.

Edit API settings for using identi.ca.

The drawback with identi.ca is that because it's not as widely used as Twitter there are not that many good apps for it either. I've been using Mustard on my Nexus devices, which has done the job well, but just isn't that sleek. Hence I was happy when I read that Twidere works with status.net / identi.ca as well. It should simply be a matter of changing the "REST Base URL" to "http://identi.ca/api" (or "https://identi.ca/api") and setting "Auth type" to "Basic".

Error while signing in.

Getting Twidere to work was not that straight forward though. I almost gave up as I did run into one problem. I ended up getting the error message "Error while signing in: Can't get profile image". This seems to be a bug with the app, as it was not related to me having a profile picture / avatar on identi.ca or not (I tried different once, tiny ones, medium ones, big ones, and tried without any profile picture at all).

Set colour.

With a colour logging in works fine. Beats me why.

To get this working I needed, by some strange reason, to set the (background?) colour of the app. To set a colour is done by tapping the palette icon in the bottom right corner and picking a colour. Having done this logging in worked like a charm.

Twidere for identi.ca.



One year


Today it is exactly one year since I launched this blog. At 01:08 on the 10th of February 2012 klevstul.blogspot.com was born, later to be renamed chronicles.no. Read more about my history of blogging here.