Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2019

Hummingbird hammocks

Light and strong but plenty to complain about.

try to hang the bugnet from a hammock ridgeline and you'll drag the net on the ground. There is something to be said for having the zipper here as sometimes it's easier to get in/out and some times not. Mostly it's because this is an always on bugnet and it diffuses the wind if you want that sort of thing.

Ridgeline setup is questionable. The buttons are an interesting implementation but depending on the engineering this might not be a good place for the ridgeline.

When the ridgeline is converted to a standalone ridgeline it creates a different problem in that you now have a 3rd line that needs a drip line to prevent water from getting into the hammock. And you have to carry that much more line regardless of the gauge.

One huge plus here is that the hammock and tree straps are super light and super strong.

so long and thanks for the fish

Google is shutting down Google+ but as I see it there is so much wrong with what google is up to that I've stopped caring and starting the move to a new platform.  I've moved from:

Google Home to Amazon Echo
Google Play Music to Amazon Music Unlimited
Google Cloud Computing to Digital Ocean and on-prem VMware
I could very easily move from GMail to Office365 but the one thing I hate worse than Google is Microsoft.
My desktop is exclusively ChromeOS but I can go anywhere including Firefox. As for the host OS it really does not matter any more. I think a proper AndroidOne tablet is a valid choice.

Let there be light

I want to call these my EDC but I'm not sure. On the one hand having the USB rechargeable lights is handy. They have a number of useful features and lumens. 
Has 2 intensities; 550 lumens max but not clear how long it will last... it has a red and white low light with optional blinking. The clip is good for a ball cap and the luminescent case will give you a few minutes to find it in the dark once exposed to light. You can use it while charging so a longer cord might be useful.

The OLight, pictured above, uses a AAA battery and they can be found anywhere when doing long hikes.

My problem is not knowing when to recharge the rechargeable or when to replace the AAA. A 45 minute quick charge is appreciated but I would not want to plug it in before bed risking a lithium fire.

PS: I've thought about bluetooth headphones but have decided that's not a good idea for many reasons and batteries is only one.

Sea To Summit Stuff Sacks

What is with all those stuff sacks? Is this just their product packaging or is there some intent that we carry these rags with us everywhere we go?

Hammocks, tarps, bug net, sleeping bag liner, head net, hammock straps, gear sling and so on. In this kit somethings need to be dry others no matter and some are just different stages of the setup. Certainly one stuff sack to rule them all is kinda silly and one wet and one dry does not improve in it. So now what?

Sea To Summit Gear Sling

This is how you need to respond when you're tired of dumping your pillow on the ground:

This little sling is easy to reach. Might offer some protection from convection currents if closer to the hammock. Might keep some splash off the hammock. Might keep the contents dry or might be pool. But for the moment it's a place to keep my pillow.

Oh my VMware

For nearly two days my VMware host was pegged at 20% CPU and as a result the machine's fan kept running. On the one-hand I have no idea why 20% warrants the fan except that it clearly generates a ton of heat. As for the guests they are 5 and each is under 3% so that did not cause much. I did notice that ETCD was pegged at 10G virtual ram and no matter what I did I was not able to reduce the footprint. Finally I managed a reboot of VMware and the system recovered. Now the fan is spinning at a much lower RPM.

I like VMware in a certain number of use-cases. The most notable being experimentation, however, cloud systems like Digital Ocean make that even easier. It also means that I can build up and tear down much larger system groups. There is something to be said for on-premise systems but there are challenges there too. Distributing SSL certs is a big one and so is cradle to grave deployment. Scripting to DO makes things really simple... much easier than VMware APIs.

when it rains

It has been raining for nearly 2 days and nights and the backyard is swamped and the grass and sod gets squishy and muddy quickly. If I were tent or tarp camping I would be wet and uncomfortable. The challenges that come with hammock camping mean I could avoid those challenges keeping in mind the hammock tarp offers plenty of shelter. Also the 30 degree hang is only a recommendation.

This morning I changed the height of the tarp and tightened the hammock. It was not ideal but it worked and it kept me off the ground. Really the next challenge is keeping the gear out of the dirt and adding bugnet even though there are currently no bugs. Lastly I might even carry a bivy which could be used inside and outside the hammock as a backup when I need the extra 5F or when there are no trees.


Homemade Wunderlust makes a great point that warrants repeating and expanding. No need spending or holding out for one of those expensive "hiking" umbrellas. [a] you can get a cheap umbrella from most grocery stores that will work fine to get the rain and snow off your face. [b] you might use the expensive umbrella less often if you think you're protecting it.

Frankly any and all gear is not worth the cost or weight if you do not use it.

things they never tell you about hammocking

When it's cold and rainy climbing into a hammock is like trying to right a canoe in the ocean. So let's run this by the numbers....  It's current 54F and rainy in Florida. I have my Outdoor Vitals 6 point tarp and OV hammock setup in the backyard.

The tarp just barely covers the hammock. The side cat-cut exposes the ends of the hammock. Lowering the tarp closer to the hammock might create other challenges but this is what we have at the moment.

People talk about dip lines and that might make sense too; but not implemented.
In the meantime a pad is required to provide some insulation from the cool air. I've tried others and I'm still experimenting. Currently a klymit Inertia X. It's torso length but has a few voids that let the chill get thru.

A pillow of some kind is required for the same reason. I have many different kinds but I'm opting for a hydrophobic inflatable. The head generates a lot of heat so a quality pillow and/or beanie might also be a good id…

hammock insulation

I do not care to argue the merit or folly of the underquilt but it does suggest to me that you have to fill the volume of the space with warm air in order to stay warm. And that's going to take a bit. On the other side there are foam and air pads that will act as insulation and the results are immediate.

Speaking of pads I've recently experimented with full and torso length cell foam pads. The 1/8th inch pads did not offer much protection at all. The 1/4 inch pads were much better, however, [a] they had to be hydrophobic in case they fell out of the hammock. [b] pliable enough to wrap around the body [c] and slippery enough that you can roll.

Hammocking and Pillows

I'm getting comfortable with hammocking. Now that I have constructed a hammock stand in my backyard it's a snap to setup. The tarp has been secured with bungee cord to keep it taught when the hammock shifts and so it's solid.

Yesterday it rained hard. I left my pillow in the center of the hammock while I worked indoors. During one of the rain breaks I decided to slip into the hammock but unfortunately I ejected my pillow and without paying attention it was soaked.

This is a thermarest pillow with synthetic fill. It compresses to about 1/3rd but that's it. It's light but has volume. And when it rains it becomes a sponge. I have a Snugpak pillow that is about 1/3rd the size so it could only absorb 1/3rd the water (sure would be nice if they used hydrophobic materials.)

There is something to be said for under-inflated pillows like the seatoummit, snugpak and klymit. There are even some third-party manufacturers that make some nice inflatables with soft covers.

google is losing it's grip

For years I have been drinking from the google cool-aid machine but lately things have been going south. Systems, Services and devices are just not as smooth as they once were regardless of the features they try to pack in them.

GSuite and GSuite for private domains used to be the testbed/sandbox for new features. Now it's the last place you'll find new features.

Google Home and Mini do not work with a GSuite domain. You need a family music subscription and a plain gmail or 3rd party email account.

Android on my Moto G6 is still version 8.0.0 and it's slow and junky.

Google Fi does not support visual voicemail for iPhone.

T-Mobile does not support Android Visual Voicemail.

Blogger is almost as old as the internet and it shows.

Slate reliability is sketchy.

Here's the thing... as all of these systems that I rely on become more unreliable it's time to consider others. For example I dumped the Google Home and Mini and Amazon Dots are on their way. As I move to best in…

Poncho Tarp in bad weather

Let's face it if you are hiking in bad weather and you've already accepted the fact that hiking means discomfort then using a poncho-tarp as clothing and shelter is a real possibility. There are two real challenges. [1] ponchos, in blustery weather, blow everywhere and do not offer much protection. [2] when transitioning from poncho to tarp getting the cordage right can be a challenge.

This weekend I took the family to a soccer tournament. The morning of the second day we saw terrible rain and for the most part it was raining sideways so the colemen tent was almost useless. I ended up using my poncho as a tarp to deflect the rain from the side but it was cold, I only had 550 cord, and my fingers simply would not tie a knot.

In hindsight I could or should have used plastic s-biners. I suppose I could have used smaller cordage but I did not have any on me.  uhg.

One person's bivy

I have 5 YouTube tabs open to SungPak Stratosphere Bivy demos. Faving watched the first video I have bivy envy. It only lasted a minute and now that it's gone there are real options. Sure it's dry, compact, roomy but compared to what?

For $75 more you give up 14oz (almost a complete pound) and you can sit up and move around. Snugpak uses a heavier material so it is to be expected.

The Trekker weighs and costs the same as the Stratosphere but even with the same weight you can sit up. Open both wings.

While I almost bought a Stratosphere today I have to acknowledge that cost and weight is a big deal and a meaningless purchase. The Stratosphere weighs 3.5 pounds where a Bora bivy and tarp weighs under a pound and that's if you're interested in weight. There are less pricey tent options that weigh less and give you more room.  So just forget it. The only way this becomes a good idea is if the price or weight drops by half.

more quick packs

This G4Free pack has a frame and a bottom pocket/entry for quick access to your sleeping bag and a hidden pack cover compartment. Plenty of pockets but the side pockets were kinda thingy and the back pockets were kinda blah. Plenty of straps that make it seem pro but in real life is a waste.

My first real pack... I remember that first hike; this was awful. Sure the pack is large and functional but it's heavy and the side pockets are sticky and small. Since it's waterproof if anything is wet and then put in the pack then it all get's wet.

More useless drybags... at least no hiking use-case that comes to mind.

quick packs

I posted about my Klymit Dash packs and then quickly threw them in the trash before I had a chance to think twice. I would have donated them but then why? If they were not good enough for me then why the next person.

Anyway... Here is a brief review of most of my packs in the garage. Sadly it's quite an investment.

 This Naturehike 25L is not 25L and not much of a pack. Based on the straps and construction it might be useful as a stuff sack that could double as an excursion or summit pack. Even if it were 25L it has no structure and with 15lbs of gear the straps are uncomfortable. Just getting it into position is a challenge.

I cannot find the original receipt for this Marmot so I do not recall the model information. While it has deep elastic pockets they are not very functional. The shape of the main compartment and the pockets means there is some shifting. Also the pocket in the center is really small. Hiking with this model feels clumsy.

The minimalist has been my go to pack fo…

Klymit Dash 18 and 30

Being a UL hiker (SUL is stupid expensive) I tend to use smaller packs. I also tend to use fewer pockets because what I really need is bags whether they are ziplock, compression sack or contractor bags.

When I started making UL gear decisions I went to the Klymit 18. At the time I still had too much gear and the 18 was only good for day hiking although having to stop and pull a bottle from the pack was a pain. It was also demanding to remember to make more water because I almost had to empty my pack.

Later I bought the yellow Dash 18 and it was awesome to be able to see inside the pack. Keep in mind that my packs was still full so being able to see inside it is kinda meaningless. Of course you can still make an argument for or against visibility vs dry time. Not to mention that when I kept my water in the black Dash 18 it was always tepid.

As I continued to transition I bought different packs only to find a Dash 30 was being manufactured for MassDrop and Klymit sold me one from the ov…

Bluetooth competition

I do not particularly like Bluetooth but it is the current standard for personal area networking (PAN). It's a problem, not to be confused with the PC' "challenge", that here in my office I have no less than 10 active mini computers and laptops (and another 2 cars) and while each device will allow me to pair my headphones the outcome is not always the same.

I have a Jabra Evolve 75 that I like to use for conference calls because it's noise cancelling(both side of the conversation) is top notch. Also the Jabra is supposed to be able to actively switch between 2 different active connections. For some strange reason the connection for the Jabra drops here and there. It's terribly annoying.

Last week I purchased the TicPods. They are pretty good but the BASS I like is tough to get even though I can with my wired buds. The freq range is in the pod not the source. Since this bud is a one source bud I have not had the same problems as the Jabra. One other thing... I…

ASUS ZenScreen Brilliant

I bought an ASUS ZenScreen for my mobile computing kit. I had intended for it to connect to my Google Pixel Slate but then it failed to connect out of the box. (more later) I tried to connect the display to my Chromebook Pixel and it worked So I was encouraged.

This morning I decided to connect the ZenScreen to my ASUS Chromebox as my 3rd monitor and it works great!

Back to the Slate. What I have read is that the problem may be in the OS or maybe the firmware related power management. Some people have had success using power hubs but none have described why, only the model(s) that worked. After my reading of product descriptions I got the sense that it is probably PD. Which is the ability for power to be negotiated and multi directional. And so that is the next test. Not all vendors properly describe their products.

In the meantime the ZenScreen is a nice addition.

PS: the ZenScreen got an expensive update this year. They added a battery so that Android devices, including phones, will…

bloatware on google pixel slate

For some crazy reason Infinite Painter was auto installed on my new Pixel Slate. According to the splash screen I get 7 days trial. Well, F*CK YOU. The whole reason for going to ChromeOS is that it's not bloated, is secure, and does the work I need done.

I do not want anything extra. I'll get it myself.