This is my jam

BOS Deville air spring rattle

My venerable old BOS Deville was rattling, and it felt harsh (like it ramped up far too quickly). I pushed down on the fork and it went “clunk”, and then again as I let it return. It wasn’t the sort of crown/stanchion interface creak I’ve heard on other forks – more of a clunk coming from inside the air spring side.

I searched the web. There’s no service manual floating around. Very few people have posted videos or service notes for this exact model of fork. I found various promising forum posts, but none of them answered my question. Others had what appeared to be the same issue, but (perhaps predictably) no solution to it.

I pored over pictures of the dismantled fork, trying to figure it out. I ended up trying to make head or tail of a video in Russian showing a complete disassembly of the fork. That proved to be the key to the mystery.

When I took the top-cap off the air spring, there was a beautifully machined metal part which looks a bit like a trumpet. It sitting on it’s own, at the bottom of the air chamber. It’s supposed to be attached to the top cap. I’d never noticed it when servicing the fork before – perhaps because it was still attached where it should be. And to be honest, I was far more interested in sorting out the other side of the fork – where nearly all of the oil goes.

So I fished it out (probably the hardest part), re-greased it, and re-connected it to the top cap. Put it back together, pumped it up, and went for a ride.

The rattling stopped and they’re back to feeling nice again. Almost too plush, but I can work on that.

This is my jam

Grimes – 4ÆM.

On learning to XC skate ski

We’re learning to cross country ski – the Skate discipline in particular. It’s hard, exhausting but very satisfying when it goes right. At this point, descending is absolutely terrifying. Here’s some little things which have helped me so far. Mostly they’re for me to refer back to.

You don’t push off the ski behind you, so much as transfer all your weight in the direction you want the forward ski to travel. This might be the most important thing. Point your whole body – hips, shoulders, head – in that direction.

Use poles to aid forward motion. I find it helps to angle them to point in the direction of the forward ski.

Try to keep the forward ski completely flat on the snow. That way it’ll glide better. As soon as you’re on an edge, you’re limiting your glide.

Try to keep the glide going when you’re climbing. On steeper pitches, pushing the forward ski “out” seems to help.

Slushy snow is really tricky – especially when your poles go straight through it, or you sink on every “push”. It’s easier to stop on the descents though!

Most of the time you can ignore the ruts left by other skis and grooming equipment (except for the classic tracks – don’t vandalise them if you can help it). Nine times out of ten, your ski won’t catch in them – and if it does you just do another “skate” and it won’t be in there any more.

Keep an eye on the sides of the track. If the front of your ski goes into the bank it’ll stick and you’ll probably fall flat on your face.

It’s not as cold as you think. You almost certainly don’t need that down jacket. This is really hard work and you’ll be sweating buckets in negative temperatures.

Just like biking, look where you’re going, not where you are. Don’t look at the front of your skis. No, seriously, keep your eyes up!

That said, bad posture seems to help. Keep your weight in the direction of travel. Going out the back door hurts, and it’s hard to get up again!

Rather than taking massive strides from one ski to the other, make smaller, more subtle movements. Like you’re walking (strolling).

I know descending is hard when there’s no real edges to push against. Relax, you big control freak. Don’t panic. Look where you want to go. Keep the knees apart. Weight the outside ski to steer – right to go left, and vice-versa.


Metrik‘s Gravity has a real classic Pendulum feel to it. The first time I heard it (on Hospital Podcast #402) I honestly thought it was sung by Rob Swire.

13 Minutes to the Moon

I’m thoroughly enjoying 13 Minutes to the Moon, which is a wonderful podcast series from the BBC World Service. Highly recommended.

(Overcast is my podcatcher of choice.)

Making it harder to screw up

Chris Coyier’s Make it hard to screw up driven development struck a chord with me. If there’s ever going to be more than one of you working on a codebase, having a style guide for your CSS or SASS or Javascript or whatever makes sense. Having it automatically applied when you hit save means you rarely have to worry about adhering to the style – it just happens for you. I’ve yet to have one of these tools break my code, either.

One thing Chris didn’t mention though was running a spellchecker over your code. It may sound completely bananas, but hear me out. Firstly, it’s a code-specific spell checker. Secondly, I’ve worked on projects before where we’ve ended up with 3 different spellings of the word “palette”, because 3 different people assumed they had it right. It also means you’re implicitly being encouraged to give your variables and CSS classes meaningful names, so when you revisit the code in the future it’ll make a bit more sense. We used cSpell to do this, but I’m sure other similar products are available.

These tools don’t just exist in the development tools, either. We have them set up in our CI environment, so you can’t merge a code change unless it passes all of the tests – and the tests include both spell checking and matching the style guide. The system won’t let you screw these particular things up – leaving you free to concentrate on not screwing up the actual logic.

I’m a big fan of working this way, in case it wasn’t obvious.

Okochi Sanso

I have a browser extension which shows me a lovely image from Unsplash whenever I open a new tab. Today, this one appeared:

Photo by Walter Mario Stein on Unsplash

The Arashiyama Bamboo Groves were right near the top of my hitlist when we visited Kyoto. It looks reminiscent of movies where they appear to be stunning, never ending bamboo paradise. Indeed, in this photo they look pretty damn cool. In reality, while stunning, they’re disappointly small. That path is usually crowded with thousands of people and the groves end not far beyond the end of the photo. There’s a genuine feeling of “Is that it?”

It’s worth the trip though, because at the far end is Okochi Sanso, the former home and garden of Japanese actor Denjiro Okochi. It’s absolutely stunning, and a haven of calm just minutes from the bustling city below. When we visited it was raining, which doesn’t sound ideal. But the rain made the mossy green gardens positively glow with colour and we practically had the place to ourselves.

If you ever find yourself in the Arashiyama area, take the time to visit. It’s a worthy detour.