SMICK.NET | Website of Mike Smick Graphics and Web Developer

Sketching Fashionable

Yet another terrific gem from over at the Internet archives (

Check out “Costume Design and Illustration” from 1918. Like many others of the fantastic collection of public domain texts, you can read online or download in all possible formats.

I also just discovered tonight that the online reader app works really well on the iPad.


March 8, 2013 at 1:38 am | books, design, general, graphics, learning | No comment

Flatland Bike Check – Flatware Waltz

This post will be longer than you will care. But I’m putting it all in. I’ve built a new bike. My first bike change since 1999. Been riding flatland on a tank (Hoffman E.P) forever. I won’t give the impression that I’m some kind of pro, but even as an amateur I still want to share it. Part of the fun of Flatland is the equipment and the variety right?

I’ll get this out of the way quick…YES I ride back brakes. Nobody does anymore hardly but I like having them for all kinds of reasons. Sure they can get in the way and may even provide too much of a crutch, but right now, those don’t outweigh the positives (for me). I can understand the freedom of getting rid of brakes entirely, but I’m not quite done with them yet. I know I’m not alone but I’m in the minority in flatland certainly.

Mike Smick Bike Check - Flatland Flatware Waltz

I realize now just how much I’ve been missing out on the lighter modern frames. Lighter is better. That’s one of the things I like about the Waltz. It’s definitely on the lighter side, even of the newer frames. The heavier bike you’re swinging around you’re definitely expending more energy per hour.  I can tell right now I can maneuver this thing in ways that would have been too strenuous on the other bike.  I have been able to recover mishaps easier. It’s nice to feel like I’m working on the combo more than just straining to hold the bike up. A heavy bike is demotivating. Flatland is all about repetition, so there you go.

So how does the new bike work out for me? I dig it BUT there’s room for improvement. Here’s my full photo gallery and then I’ll give a few more thoughts.

The Flatware Waltz frame designed by Odyssey and Terry Adams is constructed well. I like the tubing. I’ve gotten used to the new setup and geometry in just one session. A couple more I will have tried nearly all the stuff I normally do. It’s all so smooth.

I made the right choice going with the taller and wider Flatware Chase Gouin bars. The shape and design is so right. Wider for me means more leverage in maneuvering. Too narrow and your balance can get thrown off (my opinion). I know my comfort zone and with longer arms, it makes sense.

Problems with my choices?

I’m glad you asked. The Flatware Waltz is right on the edge of being too short for my height.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m keeping it and I’ll enjoy it to the max, but I’d bet adding a half inch to the front and then to the back would work well.  I’m 5’10” and I’d argue anyone my height with a shoe size 10 or over should get a longer bike.

I’ll be looking at a something between 19 and 19.2 next time. You’re going to want to go with 165 cranks for this setup, unless you like your heels hitting the back pegs. If you like longer cranks, this is gonna be a noticeable thing for you.  I jam up back there and my pegs aren’t even that fat.  That tells me the back or the entire bike is too short (at least for somebody with size 11 shoes. Let me make the only other strong criticism. The dropouts on this thing are done wrong. They are notched for grinding for larger axels but once grinded are way too thinned out. Best to just have the larger axel

I’m giving the Waltz a rating of 7.5 / 10.  If it also came in a longer size like 19.2 with proper dropouts it would easily be a 9.5 / 10

I learned a lot from shopping, making a couple mistakes not knowing what to get. I’m better prepared now. Expensive lessons though.

After reading a lot of bike checks, I knew I wanted to show my full parts sheet and prices in the table below. That way you know what’s up. Plus EVERY time kids see me ride they ALWAYS ask,  “How much was your bike?” Now I can tell them to go here and see how ridiculous we all are for loving this expensive sport. I thought about including links to online stores but I don’t want to recommend one retailer over another (unless somebody wants to give me a gift card kickback for promoting them!) Prices should be pretty similar online everywhere.

Part Name Description Price Per piece
Odyssey Flatware Waltz Flatland Bike Frame $344.99
Colony Dejavu Fork $134.99
Demolition Zero Rim Rims x2 $131.98 $65.99
Demolition Bulimia Hub Front $43.99
KHE Reverse Hub Rear (Freecoaster) $149.99
Odyssey Flatware Chase bars 8″ High 6 degree back and upsweep 26″ w $85
Fit Cranks Fit Spline Drive 3pc Crankset $144.99
Eastern Plastic Red Pedals Plastic $11.99
Animal Jump Off Remix Stem Anodized Red $69.99
Tree OG 48 Spline 19mm 22T Sprocket $59.99
Animal Stitched Pivotal Seat $19.99
ODI Longneck Red Grips $19.99
Colony Transformer U-Brake Front and Rear Brakes $119.98 $59.99
Mechanik Hollow-Trac Chain Chain White $29.99
Snafu Moebius Detangler Detangler (gyro piece) $25.99
Quamen Gyro Plate Gyro Plate $11.99
Animal Integrated Headset Headset $27.99
Tech 77 Brake Levers x2 $29.98 $14.99
Oryg SST Cables (top = shorty) Detangler Cables top & bottom $19.98 $9.99
Wheel build labor Danscomp building bike wheels $0.01
Powdercoating frame (white) Custom Paint Powdercoating service $100
Wasted money (in mistakes) Odyssey Chase fork, + $30 powdercoating on unused fork, astroglide detangler cables $185
Odyssey Frequency-G Chase Gouin tires 20×1.85 x2 (NOT soft cp) $47.98 $23.99
Macneil Valve cap (red) Tire Valve cap / cover – anodized red alum 3.99
Colony Jam Circle Pegs Front and Rear pegs (anodized alum red) x2 $89.98 $44.99
Dans Tubes Shrader Valve Tube $7.98 $3.99
Unused Tree Big Balsa Pegs x2 $113.98 $56.99
Demolition Chain Tensioners Chain Tensioners (unused) $19.98 $9.99
TOTAL COST $2052.68

April 6, 2011 at 5:01 pm | bikes, design, general | 1 comment

VNC black screen and no refresh when remoting into Linux Mint

I was trying to remote into my Linux Mint desktop using VNC both on Mac and Windows. The Linux box was allowing the connection, but I’d just get a black blank screen.   I thought this was strange because I knew from seeing the monitor around the corner that my mouse movement was working.

When fiddling with TightVNC settings, I could change the type of connection and finally get an image, but it wouldn’t refresh. After searching for a while, I discovered that I the problem was probably that Compiz desktop effects needed to be disabled.  Makes perfect sense actually, since the Compiz effects are kind of a second overlay on top of the existing system. Get rid of the middle man.

Instead of searching the Control Panel preferences, just right-click on the desktop to change the desktop background. I figured out that I could do all these steps as long as I restarted VNC with each click.  Restarting VNC was the only way to get a refresh and see the result.

From Appearance Preferences screen, you can click the Visual Effects tab and set it to none, disabling effects completely. As soon as I clicked that radio button, my screen started moving very well, even on my wireless connection. Hurray!

One step closer to getting my home server running the way I want.

Linux Mint VNC & RDP Disable Desktop Effects

March 16, 2010 at 1:43 am | general | 1 comment

My son is so awesome!

I mean this little guy is a pain quite often during the day, he’s thrown off my already ridiculous sleep schedule, but who couldn’t love a guy like this?

Mike and Andrew Smick taking a little nap

February 5, 2010 at 1:27 pm | general | 4 comments

How is Japan in 2009?

I took way too long to let people know how our trip is going. I thought I would do my best in a short moment I have. It’s late, I have been working on another project and I’ll just do my best with some pics.

The best thing about Japan for me is always the fun and interesting eats. There is an abundance of it at the house. Also we have the best scenery and oddities in Japan too. So it’s no stretch to say that I love it here, even with the boring and lonely stretches as the only foreigner in the area.

To start off, these are lunch boxes (Bento). Mom has been making them for Juri and I on the days we stay at the house. She makes them at the same time she cooks everyone breakfast, meanwhile getting ready for a full day of work. She’s superhuman. We try to do the dishes to make her life easier.

These are the best snacks ever. The first is called a Chocochip MelonPan. Basically a sweet bread with a sugary top and embedded chips. Excellent texture and taste. It looks heavier than it is, but don’t get me wrong, it’s no diet food.

This next one is the best popsicle ever. It has multiple stages, much like the Saturn 5 Rocket. First the outer fruit flavor, then a small pocket of vanilla cream as you can see in the picture, then a larger pocket of the fruit outer layer, only slightly softer. Comes in greentea flavor too. So good.

I did manage to work in the fields some. I laid out bags of fertilizer for Dad to spread it on the field. I did a bad job spreading fertilizer on my first and only attempt. They fired me. But then they rehired me and I did a good job planting potatoes with Mom on the sideyard.

This is our daytrip with dad to a Plum Blossom Festival. Plum blossoms bloom shortly before the cherry blossoms. The same day we also went to a nearby temple by taking a cable car up a mountain. These pictures don’t hardly show anything we saw or did that day. Too bad.

Here is me and the cat “Emma-chan” eating dinner. The cat comes up to the chair next to me because of the fish. Otherwise, both cats in the house avoid and hate me. As you can see, Emma-chan is hoping for a role as Simba in the Japanese version of Lion King.

Here is Mom and Dad at Dinner. Piles of vegatables are on plates along with some meat and squid that will be cooked in the electric fry pan tonight. The sweet potatoe slices are my favorite. Notice the sushi rolls too. Always something extra as a nice starter with a cold beer. Great people. Meals are all different, I never know what to expect. But pretty much Dad and I will drink a beer before dinner with appetizers.  Also a side note. Grandma cannot remember which chair she sits in at the table, so she asks us every day.

Bedtime. Tomorrow it’s Tokyo Disney Sea.

March 18, 2009 at 12:39 pm | general | 3 comments

Show respect for your ideas – Avoid the Top-Ten List

The advice marketers and web experts espouse for writing top-tens might get you bookmarked or twittered or whatever, but that doesn’t mean it holds genuine or lasting meaning for people.  A top-ten list is like dumping your ideas onto the tabletop. It is boring and cheap. It’s boring because when you lay it out, you’re done, what discussion is there with your list of facts? No detours, no need for story or background. I see the man on the street who nudges you before flashing a rack of watches hanging on the inside of his coat hoping you will be enticed by the sparkle. Only $13 will get you a Rolex. You don’t have to dream about it, or even search for a store or go bargain hunting. It’s all right here, he’s handing it to you for practically nothing.

Why should your reader go on a quest if you’ve done it for them? You’ve made genuine effort, you’ve read ten books to get these ten pearls of wisdom. Too bad with precious elements, like gold or gemstones, the more the world has, the less it’s worth. When we read your top ten, we didn’t have the adventure that you did when searching through the books. Your enjoyment and eagerness to scrape away to the absolute essential took something hidden from the reader. Where is our foreplay to this knowledge you give us? Getting right to the meat would be great advice if it actually worked. Does it?

So I say, the hell with these lists. To hell with this writing advice. I say when you encounter information like that, even on favorite websites that get hit upon hit of popularity, reject them. Recently I saw the article at Zen Habits that made an interesting claim. Gain Bruce Lee’s physique without equipment. It contained a list of many two-sentence exercise suggestions. Reading that I felt that even when information is right, it can be wrong. What was written for the masses of readers won’t hook a single one. I’m betting not one reader of the Zen Habits blog will get his physique. It was a reminder for me that these quick reads solve little. I don’t meet people that read a top ten that changed their life.

Too often we are encouraged to write in this mode or medium. The advice tells you that these are the sites with the traffic, the hits the money makers. It’s the best way to write blogs many will tell you. I say, “So what!”  Sure you can be the guy selling cheap shiny watches by on the street and make a decent living. You can be that guy. And year to year you’ve made more money than Shakespeare ever did. But has your shiny advice become an heirloom to a person and family?

You will be able to argue your point on this. I know many or most of these writers are intelligent, have good intention and are doing what they love. They are also for the most part giving their writing away for free on the web. How could one have contempt for them? I don’t, and this is a fine argument, but you simply can’t convince me that this mode of advice top-ten is effective or capable of creating change. Rather than try to polish the turd, I’d much rather go against the advice, so that my writing and your reading uncovers something that is unique to you. Your discovery and adventure is part of your relationship with books or short stories, or blog entries you’ve read. You don’t flip directly to the conclusion of stories because they, just like life have beauty and offer more because they unfold. And without the chapter heading stating directly what the five interesting parts of the chapter are, you want to find out what is in there, and you love it when you find them. In that, the impression is made. I believe it’s this sort of experience that can create change. But even if I’m wrong about lasting change being created through discovery, I still know that the enjoyment will still be there.

Don’t be silly and conclude that written lists or chunks are worthless. And don’t be foolish and think that lists and chunks are the effective way to share your knowledge. Have a little respect for what you have to offer and look beyond the conventional or default method claimed to be best for modern readers and search engines. Consider and realize how your ideas are best cooked and served. Wrap wisdom in an adventure or a mystery or where it isn’t likely to be found. Surprise people. Stories can be shared person to person, better than a list. Reveal.

March 7, 2009 at 11:12 pm | general | No comment

Olympus is not cool.

Last night in Tokyo, I was given the opportunity to view a couple cameras I’ve had my eye on for a while. Ones I can’t get in the United States. The Ricoh G600, which is a type of heavy use contruction or utility working camera and a newly released water and shock resistant Olympus uTough 8000. I believe Olympus has equivalent models in the United States but this one is brand new as of this writing.

I was so disappointed while looking at the the two. They are, among the very few water resistant cameras. There have been just 3-4 cameras like this which is astounding to me. Just like the lack of water resistant phones.  I wonder why just these companies have created a minimal number of products that seem to me to have a greater demand. It’s one thing to say “well our customers aren’t asking for water resistance” but we have to assume that durability is in of itself good design and not necessarily a way to lose money (because our product never needs replacing.)  If anything, right now, you can win market share with durability and continue to sell cameras with advancing technology. Plus the cameras are not absolutely impregnable, they are just resistant.

I feel like the Ricoh camera is simply overpriced for the offering. I think it’s a decent camera, and the fatter controls for gloved hands are lovely. However for the price I would expect some sort of alternative imaging capability included such as infrared or some other specialized spectrum. I’m not imaging scientist so I don’t have the vocabulary for a suggestion at the moment. I just think given that the camera seems more basic in controls, the durability is worth more, but not THAT much more in materials.  However, I can only suggest that it feels to me expensive. My money guage is for me alone I suppose.

The olympus is simply aggravating. Because it’s so close. Sure it’s not a perfect camera and neither are any of the others. But it has fun features that standard olympus cameras have, plus the water, cold and shock durability It’s hampered by something which to me is absolutely unforgiveable. The problem results from memory cards. Olympus uses XD format. This camera can also use Micro SD. Along with being more expensive, a non-standard and inferior out of the gate with limited storage space, it seems to me that it is unnecessarily small. You might find it strange to hear somebody say that a card is smaller than necessary because we think technology should advance smaller, lower power and lightness, however devices like cameras and phones still need to be at a human scale. Our hands aren’t evolving as fast as cameras, so we have to operate them and be able to locate their cards. The SD card could fit in this camera. The same SD card that last I saw could be found at 32 gigs. That’s a far cry from the 2 gig XD card I found. Micro SD was better at 8GB, but it was more costly and while in the camera, hampered the video clip length. These are needless problems and limitations.  Why give us the problems when you don’t have to?

This is why I’m unhappy with Olympus and decided last night that I won’t buy their camera even at 1/3 the price I found it. And believe me, I was torn last night.

But I’m so happy that I made that decision. Because today I learned of Canon’s spring line. They include a camera called the Powershot D10 which is nearly the same specs in water depth and shock and uses SD. Plus is has some of the Auto mode bells and whistles that Canon does so well.

This is why it’s great to have choice. This is why we should vote with our money and not settle and keep our eyes open. Because sometimes a purchase is about not compromising, about going with what is more open. The sad thing here is that Olympus could have won this. I don’t care about the brand name. I care about the capability for the need here. Olympus might have won my confidence for many other products, but they failed. It’s a shame really because when a standard like SD is demonstrably more flexible with more storage, to go against that with something not as good for aesthetic reasons or stubbornness Olympus is just not cool. Cameras and photos are for sharing. Sharing requires compatibility. Enough said.

Wait there’s more.  I may actually get a camera before I return to the U.S. after all. In April, Panasonic is releasing an updated Lumix.  I used to have a Lumix and I loved it. Unfortunately it fell in a river and disappeared. This Lumix has a 28mm wide lens, and shoots video in AVCHD lite, which allows for longer sessions. The Lumix might be the winner here if it can handle macro shots like my older one did. It will go 10 feet in water, unlike the Canon’s 30 feet, but I think the shape of the camera and features may make it my choice over Canon.

March 4, 2009 at 8:52 pm | general | No comment

Some Sweet Science

I thought I might add to your day by showing you some Popular Science articles from September 1920. You can find this and other issues on Google Books. If you haven’t heard of Google books, it’s going to change the world. I’ll have a follow-up posting about it because there is about to be a publishing and knowledge revolution underway and I feel obliged to participate.

You might think that our science news is deteriorating and things just aren’t like they used to be. Well take a look at how things used to be and then compare.

Is the Toothbrush Harmful?

Why do we have more trouble with our teeth than our ancestors did? Today there are improved tooth-pastes and toothbrushes—and yet the amount of decay has increased.

The food we eat is generally blamed for it, but now there is a scientist who suggests that the very toothbrushes we use in order to preserve our teeth are causing the decay! He says that the toothbrush is an unnatural instrument, which damages the teeth and is not very effective for cleaning the interstices. He recommends rubbing the gums with the forefinger instead of using brushes.

(Yes we must always avoid “unnatural instruments” of any kind if we are to keep our teeth and bodies clean and healthy. Also the “interstices” or spaces between teeth are definitely not cleaned more effectively with your finger so the logic is terrific. Since this scientist is unnamed, we can’t verify his statements or ridicule him unfortunately but, I’m mostly just curious about the first sentence of the article. Did the people of the time really think their ancestors had better teeth? I’d think it’s just that people were finally addressing problems like poor hygiene that were previously ignored for centuries.)

How to Keep Hot Pipes Hot

“Will an asbestos-covered pipe keep hot longer than an uncovered pipe?”
“Yes,” you say. And we answer, “Not necessarily.”

Tests have recently been held in the research laboratory of a large electric plant, and these have shown that if asbestos is not applied properly it will tend to dissipate heat rather than conserve it. The layers of asbestos should be put on loosely. Three layers having a thickness of thirteen thousandths of an inch will reduce heat loss considerably.

(if one could only go back in time….)

Poison Gas Kills Germs

A large quantity of poison gas-which Germany introduced to us as a weapon of war­­­‪—was left over when the war ended. But now some of it is being used to kill typhus germs.

A small epidemic broke out among the refugees in Paris. Most of them were wearing second-hand clothes and the authorities decided to fumigate the clothes, mattresses, blankets, even combs and brushes. The germ-laden clothes were hung for twenty minutes in a cylinder containing a mixture of chloropicrin­­­‪—one of the poison gases used in the war. The epidemic soon died out.

Typhus is spread by the feces in lice often found in the deteriorated conditions of wartime and poverty. Even just normal laundering in soap and hot water kill lice in bedding and clothes. But it was the people who were really just as needy for a wash and healing any open wounds. That and removing and quarantining sick and dead individuals in their camp. But hey if the “authorities” made the decision, it must have been the best one.

It’s hard to say that it was a stupid idea as a refugee camp is going to create huge strains on time and energy, which is exactly the reason why many chemicals are created in the first place. However, both handling the chemicals daily and being nearby this makeshift cleaning cylinder was dangerous. Also looking at present day regulations for Chloropicrin when used as a soil pesticide, many cautions are taken. One of which is to “Discard clothing and other absorbent materials that have been drenched or heavily contaminated with this product’s concentrate.  Do not reuse them.” Oops.

One other amusing thing to point out is this is just one issue. I’m not cherry picking these from over a year or decade. I’m scared what other advice was available at the time.

February 11, 2009 at 4:16 pm | general | No comment

Full Moon Rides

Once a month, the F***ing Bike Club gets together and has a ride during the full moon.  November 13th was an auspicious night for me. Since I had only been back in town for a couple weeks, I was surprised to hear all the things going on. The weather was unexpectedly beautiful considering the November days that bookended it. I got the invite with plenty of notice but I almost didn’t go.  I was so comfortable when about 10pm rolled around.  My friend called me and I told him I was staying in and staying cozy.  But I decided that I’d check the weather and it was just too perfect.  I decided that my life story would be a little more interesting with a few overnight rides in it.

Not too late, I grabbed my bike, put on a couple layers and met the FBC and my friend at Turtle Park for the rendezvous before the ride.

It was a long ride, my legs were burning, and I felt good waking up sore. We went from Turtle Park, to Maplewood, down through Webster Groves, Kirkwood, down a breathtaking moonlit Trail, onto South County and ended up at the BMX dirt jumps.  There was a stop along the way where some shennanigans went on.  Let’s just say one guy fell in a river, he was naked of course. You should go the next time, partake in the enjoyment.  The ride is different every time, so you never know what to expect.  You deserve to treat yourself to a night of camradarie and childish behavior.  People riding are on all kinds of bikes at all levels. The FBC is huge and full of great people!  Makes you feel lucky to be alive.  Even in December through February, I’m betting it will be worth braving the cold.

November 16, 2008 at 1:34 am | general | No comment

Back in St. Louis for good

I’m back in St. Louis after over ten years away.  Part of that was college, part female pursuit. I was in Kansas City since 2000 and it feels great to be back.  There is a lot to do. Plenty of projects, plenty of ideas.  I’ve been fortunate to get back in touch with some friends rather quickly and I’ve noticed that there appears to be a lot more recreation for me to do, or turn down being closer to my family, and having re-entered my circle of old friends.  And I haven’t even met up with everyone yet.  It was sufficient just jumping on my bike a couple times since I’ve been back.

I’m looking forward to seeing more of my family and friends and if you happen across this and we knew each other once (or I owe you money) it’s a good time to contact me in St. Louis.

I’ve been saying this for a while, but there WILL be a site design update to reflect my new location and fresh start.

November 16, 2008 at 1:19 am | general | 1 comment

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