Saturday, January 31, 2009

Why Blog?

I recently ran across Richard Bejtlich's post on Why blog? and I asked myself that question. I currently run three different blogs focused on different things and found that while there are some similar reasons for all three, there are some different reasons.

Primarily I agree with Richard's first reason Blogging organizes thoughts. I find the process of collecting and expressing my thoughts enjoyable. My job requires me to do this constantly, but usually under time pressure, so it's nice to have an opportunity to do this at my pace.

Another reason I do it is because I have a desire to share what I've learned. It drives me nuts to think that I've just spent an hour figuring something out that someone else already had or that someone else may be fated to repeat my efforts. This is a big motivation for my Ubuntu experiences blog. It is a diary of my system administration experiences on my home network. I started it for my own benefit so that I could later remember what the heck I did and decided to put it online so that others could hopefully benefit. Based on the amount of traffic and comments it gets, I'm happy with how it is going.

Security Unwrapped is my attempt to atone for my profession's failure to really make computer security understandable usable. My goal is to make computer security understandable for my mother (hi mom!) It consists of my pointing our stories and articles I think achieve that as well as my own writings to try to take aspects of computer security and explain them in simple terms. This writing is by far the most work of the three blogs, I wish I could do more of this, but it takes time and inspiration.

The third (and final for the moment) blog is Honestly, I started this because I had stuff I wanted to blog about (like this) that is out of scope of my other two blogs, so I intentionally scoped it as a catch-all. Tying it back to Richard's post, it's probably most accurately described by Blogging captures and shares thoughts.

Well, that's that. Thanks for listening. Happy blogging.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Getting rid of the gas mower: My year with the Neutron 6.2

(Updated Jan 4, 2009: I looked up out property map and our yard is actually 140' x 95', so a little larger than I guessed. Plus I mow some "commons" that I neglected to include, so I updated the amount I mow with a battery charge.)

Update Jan 31, 2009: Fixed broken image link.

I hate gas mowers with a passion. For years, I used a reel mower, but as part of a compromise with the wife when bought our house together, we got a gas mower.

But, about a year ago, I saw a compromise to the compromise in a cordless electric mower and we got a Neuton CE 6.2 Battery-Powered Mower.

Neutron Mower

After one year of using this mower, I'm very happy with it and wanted to share my experiences.

The pros:
  • It is quiet. We're not talking whisper here, but compared to a gas mower, it's a pleasure to the ears.
  • It just starts. Press the button and it runs. No messing with pulling a rope, clogged spark plugs, bad gas, tune-ups or any of that other small gas engine fun.
  • Speaking of gas, it doesn't use any. No having to buy gas, haul it around or store it. (Ditto for oil.)
  • It's light. Easy to turn and push.
  • No pollution. (Ok, somewhere someone makes the electricity I understand, but I gotta think/hope/believe it's done much more cleanly than a gas mower, which is just a air-born carbon factory as far as I'm concerned.)
The only real con is our big concern when we bought it, and that was "would a single battery charge be enough to do the whole yard?" The answer is "usually." Our yard is about (updated) 140'x95' plus another ~20'x95' of commons I mow  (which google tells me is about .38 acres). It's typical central Illinois flat, with a average assortment of landscaping and a garden. On a normal mow, it will do the whole yard on one battery charge. But, if I've let the grass get particularly thick and I have to go slow, it won't quite do it on one charge. So for those times, we bought an extra battery.

Only other thing to relate: late in the Summer, it suddenly stopped working one day while I was mowing. It has a thermal cutoff, and I figured that had tripped, but I checked and it hadn't. Poking around a little further I found the holder for the cutoff itself had melted. I email neuton, explained what had happened and to their credit, they shipped me a replacement board no questions asked. It was a new version of the board, so I'm hoping it was a problem they addressed.

(I have to admit, I'm not sure how someone without aptitude would have actually gone about swapping the boards, it wasn't rocket science, but did require disassembling and reassembling the mower - about 20-25 minutes of using a screwdriver, and disconnecting and reconnecting wiring).

The only other thing to mention is that it's not self-propelled. Fine by me (remember, I'm used to the reel mower), especially since it is so much lighter than a gas mower.

All together I'm very happy with it and wouldn't go back