December 27, 2011
Accident Report Cards for Cyclists

A little over a month ago, I was out riding my bike, listening to Jesse, Jordan, Go! one of my favorite podcasts when I heard them get to their "jumbotron" segment of the show and started talking about Josh Zisson, an attorney out in Boston that made a card for cyclists to carry with them. When I got home, I looked it up on the forums. I was impressed.

But I live in California and we have different laws here. So I decided to take a little action. I wrote Josh an email and asked if he would be willing to come up with one for California.

After a bit of discussion, we came up with a plan. He'd get the research and design done and I'd cover the printing. I want to hand them out to local cyclists and make sure people are prepared for both accidents and talking with police officers.

Soon enough, boxes of cards showed up at my house.

Here is the front and back of the cards.

Inside is a place for you to write down info in case of an accident. If you do have an accident, it's likely you'll be a bit fuzzy and distracted, so the card will help make sure you get the details down.

On the back is a visualization of the rights and requirements for California cyclists and the specific vehicle codes that apply.

Called out are the following rights/responsibilities:

  • You can ride side by side with another cyclist in a lane.
  • The motorist is as fault if they open the door and you crash into it.
  • You cannot ride drunk or stoned. You can get a DUI on your bike.
  • You cannot have headphones covering both ears, but you can ride with with one earpiece in.
  • You must signal.
  • Cars must yield to you and cannot turn in front of you.

Josh included contact information inside the cards as well. It's always good to have the number of an attorney with you. Lawyers, guns, and money will get you out of pretty much any situation.

I've printed these up for the benefit of the community and aren't trying to make money off of this. The better informed cyclists we have in California, the better for everyone.

I'm going to be handing them out on rides, at club meetings, and at local bike shops. Drop me a line if you want some.

There is also a new site,, that promises to be of continuing help to Los Angeles cyclists.

One last thing to remember is to put a pen or pencil in your bike bag. I chose a super cool bullet space pen, but a short pencil would work too.

Josh is looking to work with other cyclists and attorneys that want to help their communities as well. You can contact him at

Posted by michael at 03:24 PM
December 12, 2011
Up by Jawbone

As Loyal Cruft Readers have noticed, I've been on an exercise kick for a few years now. Combine that with being a geek, it's no surprise that I wanted to try out the Jawbone Up. The Up is a new fitness device that tries to combine a simple way to monitor your health with a data recorder that fits easily into your life.

Issues with the hardware failing are in the news. Mine hasn't failed, so I won't go into it. Mat at Gizmodo is keeping track of it well.

The basic idea fits in nicely with my wife's trifecta of health philosophy. For those unaware:

Trifecta of Health = Exercise daily, eat good food, get plenty of sleep.

You need to do all three to have a healthy lifestyle.

The Up takes on all three of these to some degree.

The Up is a rubberized bracelet with electronics hidden inside. There is a buzzer inside you can feel, a single button, and a couple lights that explain what state the Up is in. Fairly comfortable to wear, the only drawback is the cap over the plug, which can get lost. I lost mine this weekend, some time during the Christmas tree purchasing/transport/home placement process.

The Up app loads onto an iPhone and is easily synced with the bracelet.

To use the Up, you don't do a lot. You tell it when you go to sleep and wake up, when you are going to exercise, and that's about it. Sync it, and this is what you see in the app.

The app tracks your sleep, your steps/exercise, and your eating. I gave up on tracking eating once I realized that all it did was allow you to take pictures of your meals.

Here's the exercise detail. The red section was my run during the day. Up says I did over 8 miles while my Garmin GPS watch says I did just over 6.

The Up doesn't have the concept of cycling, swimming, or many other sports, so everything looks like walking to it.

To me, the most interesting this about the Up was the sleep monitoring. You can see the graph of my sleep habits. On other nights when I wake up to pee or something, you can see when I'm up walking around. The Up will also act as an alarm clock and buzz when you are out of deep sleep in the time period you specific to wake. I had never looked at my sleep patterns before and find it pretty cool.

Overall the idea is great. The more aware you are of your eating, exercise, and sleeping, the more you will work on improving it. This is good stuff.

Should you buy it? Yes and No.

If you already exercise regularly and track you data "quantified self" style, you will find the Up lacking in many ways. It doesn't compare to Garmin Connect, Strava, Runkeeper, or any of the data heavy exercise tracking systems.

If you are seriously trying to lose weight and keep a food diary like with Daily Plate, the Up doesn't compare.

But, if you don't exercise, feel crappy, eat junk, stay up till the wee hours, and need some motivation, the Up is PERFECT for you. It's just enough motivation to get you moving forward to a healthier life.

Will I keep using mine? Probably not. I'm not the target market. I already track my heart rate, cadence, performance, and location in nauseating detail.

I hope Jawbone CEO Hosain Rahman keeps this moving forward and that this is just version 1.0 with more to come. I'd love to see it mashed up with Daily Plate and accept Garmin TCX files to make it more attractive to people that are already data oriented. Finding a way to exchange the data with other sites would be great. Maybe something similar to the Runkeeper Health graph. I wouldn't be surprised if the Jawbone labs have a version with a one line, pager style LCD to show messages as they prepare for v.2.

Once they get serious about the team system, the Up should shine with people for looking for that extra moral support ala Health Month. So far, the social aspect isn't tapped very well, but that will change over time.

So many opportunities here to help with healthy diets, remembering to take medicine, get up from the desk, taking time to call a friend, and other positive actions. Imagine running your own apps on the Up like the Jambox or Jambone allow. I've got a million ideas, so if you're reading this Hosain, feel free to give me a ring.

I applaud Jawbone's effort and urge everyone to remember this is just the start, don't expect perfection. Bravery and courage are required to step out of the comfort zone of phone accessories and into the competitive zone of fitness.

Posted by michael at 01:21 PM
December 07, 2011
The Cruftbox Holiday Gift Guide

A quick scan of the web reveals pretty much every site posting holiday gift guides. Most of them are full of crap, so I thought I would share with you, the Loyal Cruft Reader, the actual best items to give. Or to be clear, items that would be great for people that think like me. I've also included a few things not to buy, because they suck.

2011 Good Gift Guide


Deus Ex - A great action oriented RPG that gives the player multiple ways to solve the quests most aligned with their playstyle. Good story with a surprising amount of detail thrown in and plenty of Easter eggs for the die hard fans.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - A deep wide open RPG set in the Elder Scrolls universe. You can do pretty much whatever you want in the world, follow questlines or not, learn crafting skills or not, slay everyone in town as a werewolf or kill no one. I love games that basically require the use of spreadsheets and wikis to really understand the deep end of possibilities and Skyrim delivers. Some of the basics of the game are great, I mean really, who doesn't love the ability to literally steal the soul of your vanquished foes?


What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly - I bought this on a whim after hearing Kevin speak on the radio. A truly eye opening look at the role technology plays in our lives and how technology is growing and changing along with humans. Part history, part philosophy, part prediction, the book is a must read for anyone that thinks seriously about building new technologies.

It's All About the Bike by Robert Penn - The story of a man building his dream bike, touching briefly on cycling history, as his roams the globe visiting the companies that make the components he dreams of. There is a video of the story, but the book is well worth the read. A truly inspiring book for cyclists.


Lululemon Men's Brisk Run Gloves - While no fan of their recent silliness, these gloves are great for runners that brave the winter. The conductive finger and thumb tips allow you to use your iPhone or ATM without removing your gloves. Well designed for running or cycling, these things are worth your cash.

Secret Drink Mix - Such a good energy drink, I gave it a full review. If you exercise, you can use some SDM.

Twin Six Clothing - Cycling apparel for people that don't want to advertise products, pretend to a pro cyclist, and have an appreciation for good style and design.


Handsome Coffee - A few friends have started a coffee company in Los Angeles and they roast wonderful coffee. Coffee so good that your significant other will stop and say, "Wow, that smells fantastic." Buy some now.

Jambox - A portable audio speaker and speakphone that does it right. Simple, and elegant, it's an extension of your phone, nothing more, nothing less. If all you want is you music with you in the house or when you travel, Jambox is perfectly. If you want multi-room, playlisty, smart tagged, app friendly, complicated bullshit, don't get a Jambox. Super simple and easy to use, this bluetooth enabled speaker is for the music lover that doesn't love tech.

Habits of the Heart by Idle Warship - The new album by Talib Kweli and Res is terrific. Give it a listen, don't cost nuthin'.

Bad Gifts - Do not buy

Rage - Glitchy shooter on rails with a backstory written by a 5 year old. Anytime John Goodman's talents are wasted, it's a tragedy. This game is tragic.

Battlefield 3 - Prone snipetards and aimboting fuckwits.

McRib sandwich - Gross and horrific miracle of meat glue.

Clowns - Anything to do with clowns is bad, stupid, and a blight on humanity.

Posted by michael at 10:19 AM