Sunday, September 6, 2009

Things to do, see, and eat in Portland, OR

Since folks often visit us in Portland, I thought I'd put together a list of where I like to take people, in case it's handy for anyone else. These are somewhat centered around Downtown, but not completely:

Nerdy Things to See

Nature & Animals


  • Oaks Amusement Park and the nearby wildlife refuge. There's a very nice, largely car-free bike route from the Waterfront Park, across the Hawthorne Bridge past OMSI through the wildlife refuge to the Park. That would be a fun day :)
  • Pioneer Courthouse Square: 715 SW Morrison St. Good people watching and some local history.


There are tons of great coffee shops, brew pubs, and restaurants in Portland. Here are some of my favorite places to eat:

Getting Around

  • Bikes: You can see much more of Portland if you have a bike, and if you can ride it :) I use a bike to get around everywhere. You can rent a bike at various places, and there is an awesome Google maps mashup of how to get around by bike.
  • We have a pretty good public transport system that gets you all around the city, and it connects to the airport. There is a trip planner at
  • Of course you can rent a car.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cycling Trip to Carson: 110 Beautiful Miles

This weekend, Anna and I took a cycling trip to Carson, WA, along the Columbia River Gorge. Carson is about 55 miles away, so the total trip distance was 110 miles, but we spread it out over two days, with a day of rest in between.

What did we do on the rest day, you ask? Well, we got excellent massages and otherwise did basically nothing. We stayed at Carson Ridge Cabins which we can highly recommend! (@carsonridge on Twitter.)

The ride we took was a variant of the "Bridge of the Gods" ride from Rubber to the Road, except they expect you to do that ride in one day :) The above mural is on one of the supports of the bridge itself.
The original inspiration to go to Carson was from this book, but I had previously found some sections of Highway 14 too stressful. Rubber to the Road routes you around that nicely.

Directions: We modified the route slightly to start out our front door and wind up at Carson Ridge Cabins. You can follow these directions exactly, except instead of turning off of Highway 14 to cross Bridge of the Gods, continue on 14 for about 6 miles, fork Left at Wind River Highway, and continue for about 0.7 miles to Carson Ridge Cabins on the left.
Day 1: On the way there, we were mostly on the Washington side of the Gorge, which is very nice. The roads have relatively good shoulders for the most part, but it could sometimes get a little tight. There is definitely a bit of climbing the first day, but nothing too bad!
Day 2: As I mentioned, we were very pleased with the cabins we stayed at. The rooms themselves were great, breakfast was great, and the hosts were friendly and interesting. The small town was short on yummy food on a weekend, and we didn't feel like biking down to the next nearest town to get food.
We got massages which were very nice after such a long ride. They even came to the room, and then we took a long nap (definitely an advantage of having a massage in your room) :)
Day 3: The way back is mainly on the Oregon side after crossing the bridge. The return trip was stunning! After crossing the bridge, you ride for about 6 miles on a bike path through the woods, which was just an absolute joy. We had to ride along 84 for two miles, but that wasn't too bad. The shoulder is huge and it is pretty brief.

We took a bit longer on the way back because we were taking photos. Multnomah Falls is along the way, and since you're mostly along the Historic Columbia River Highway, there are plenty of parks and waterfalls to see.

After the falls, there is some steady climbing up Crown Point to the Vista House, where there are some pretty amazing views. I should emphasize from the below photo that we rode from before Beacon Rock (in the distance) and up from the level of the river. I actually didn't tell Anna that we were going to climb all the way up there :) She did awesome!

After reaching Portland, we rode along Stark and Burnside for a while with a good bike lane, and a bit of a headwind for us.

Overall, this was an excellent, challenging ride for the two of us. I can highly recommend it! Drop me a line if you want any advice on trying this route.

Speaking of the Gorge, last weekend, we did another ride in the Gorge, this time from the book version of Rubber to the Road Volume 2. It's called "Mt. Hood Orchards". The book lists it as 83 miles, but you can cut it to 40 by taking Baseline Road to Hwy 35, as we did. I recorded the route with the GPS on my Android phone for anyone interested.

As the book says, there are great views of Mt. Hood, which are pretty different from the Portland-area views.

I can imagine working this ride into a several-day cycling trip to the Columbia River Gorge. The "Hood River" ride is about 30 miles from Carson. One problem is that the bridge between White Salmon and Hood River is off-limits to Cyclists, if I recall correctly, and I don't know if there's a good route on the Oregon side.

Overall, absolutely perfect little vacation. Everything went very smoothly, no mechanical problems, no significant problems with the route. I got panniers for my bike, which worked out nicely. As anyone who follows me on Twitter can tell you, I'm definitely LOVING the rides from Rubber to the Road, and recommend them very highly. You can even import the routes onto an Android phone :)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bike Snob vs. Bike Portland, New Bikes, and Bike Racing. Also, Bikes.

Yesterday, Bike Snob NYC made fun of the Portland-area Michael Jackson memorial ride documented at Bike Portland. Obviously, Jonathan Maus over at BikePortland and Bike Snob NYC should become arch-nemeses: They are both bloggers and both cyclists. One in Portland, one in New York (opposite cities on opposite sides of the country). One is super sincere, positive, and helpful, the other is sarcastic and hilarious. Jonathan even "challenged" the snob to "a super-kitchy BikeSnobNYC-themed ride."

In other news, I'm very excited because Demetry at Veloce Bicycles worked with Torelli to replace my cracked steel Torelli cross bike. I really wasn't expecting anyone to be so helpful, and Demetry really went to bat for me. Thanks, @Veloce! I ended up with a really good deal on this bike, a single-speed Tipo Uno.

Also, I raced on Mt. Tabor again last week, and got my butt kicked again, but it was fun. I was thinking that my Lemond cyclocross bike isn't ideal for racing Tabor, but then I saw a guy in the Sr. Men's with exactly the same bike! Sweet. Here's the Tipo Uno:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Apparently teenagers hug each-other a lot. Obviously this is a very disturbing trend.

This New York Times article is almost surreal. Apparently, teenagers are much more inclined to hug each-other than ever before. Parents and teachers have no clue why, and are freaked out:
  • "Touching and physical contact is very dangerous territory," said Noreen Hajinlian, the principal of George G. White School.
  • "No hi, no smile, no wave, no high-five — just the hug. Witnessing this interaction always makes me feel like I am a tourist in a country where I do not know the customs and cannot speak the language."
  • "'Maybe it’s because all these kids do is text and go on Facebook so they don’t even have human contact anymore,' said Dona Eichner, the mother of freshman and junior girls at the high school in Montvale.
But the article finally wraps up with:

"But Carrie Osbourne, a sixth-grade teacher at Claire Lilienthal Alternative School, said hugging was a powerful and positive sign that children are inclined to nurture one another, breaking down barriers. 'And it gets to that core that every person wants to feel cared for, regardless of your age or how cool you are or how cool you think you are,' she said."

It's as though suddenly peace broke out all over earth, humanity became enlightened, and an entire generation of people grew up to show kind affection for one-another. Perhaps it won't surprise everyone that schools want to ban hugging. Thanks, Carrie Osbourne, for believing in humanity :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Android Market talk at Mobile Portland

Everyone has heard the stories about the iPhone's App Store and the success some developers are finding selling iPhone applications. What people know less about is Google's Android Market which started allowing people to sell applications in February.

More on the Talk and Slides

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Integrating QR Codes into an Android App with ZXing

One of the great strengths of the Android mobile platform is that there is a well defined interface for applications to communicate with one-another. This makes it so that functions and features of one application can utilize functions and features of another application to build something new. Very cool stuff!

Read On for an article about integrating together apps on Android.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Open, Mobile, & Linux: My Android talk at Ignite Portland!

On Thursday, February 19, 2009, I gave a talk for Ignite Portland about the Android G1 phone (video and slides). What is Ignite? It's about sparking ideas in one-another. Each presenter gets 5 minutes to speak, exactly 20 slides must be used, and the slides auto-advance every 15 seconds.

It was an exciting experience! I was very nervous, but I was happy with the outcome and the audience reaction. I think there were over 600 people in the audience, so it's the biggest crowed I've addressed. I definitely recommend giving Ignite a try if you like to share your ideas. There are Ignite events in many, many cities. The other speakers were absolutely incredible. If you weren't there, you should watch the video of the entire event.

Android is a Linux-based open source operating system by Google that can be used to power smart phones like TMobile's G1. It's a very open platform, and easy to develop software for. In this talk, I give an overview of the development environment and highlight some key features of the operating system with a focus on what makes the open nature of the Android so powerful.
For programmers, this talk will aim to be an effective introduction to Android so that you can go home, install the development tools, and start hacking even if you don't have a phone. For non-programmers, this talk will aim to give you a taste of how open-source principles will soon affect a cell phone near you.

I like giving talks, so if you want to hear more about Android, let me know. For information about the projects I'm working on, see the pages on Meditation Words a well as Crypto Intents.
The Ignite volunteers were awesome, and there are official photos and official video of the event, including video of my Android talk. The video has very nice production quality, with good cuts back & forth with the slides, but you can't hear the audience reacting very well:

If you get a chance, check out the OpenIntents project, and if you're in Portland, the Android meetup is the 2nd Monday of every month at the SE Hawthorn Lucky Lab at 6PM.
As I mention in the talk, a portion of the proceeds for Meditation Words goes to Kiva, the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website. Microcredit is the extension of very small loans (e.g. $25) to the unemployed, to poor entrepreneurs and to others living in poverty.
P.S. Here's the exact same talk from another angle: This version from @linuxaid doesn't integrate the slides as nicely, but I kinda like it better since I can hear the audience laughing at my jokes ;)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Supporting Micro-Lending through Software?

A few weeks back, I released a beta version of a simple guided meditation program, Meditation Words to the Android Market. Android is a Linux-based smart-phone platform by Google. Currently everything in the Market is free, but my understanding is that Google will start allowing paid applications Real Soon Now.

Besides the simple breathing exercise, I have updated Meditation Words with a lot more features, and I'm looking for more texts to extend it with, so drop me a line if you have an idea. I plan to release MeditationWords as a paid application, but with a twist!

Kiva - loans that change lives
A portion of the proceeds for Meditation Words (I don't know how much yet) will go to Kiva, "the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website". Microcredit is the extension of very small loans (e.g. $25) to the unemployed, to poor entrepreneurs and to others living in poverty.

I have no idea how this will work out, but I think it will be really fun to try! You don't have to wait for the application, or own an Android phone, to join our Meditation Words team and lend on our behalf :)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I uploaded an application to Android Market: Meditation Words

About Meditation Words Beta 0.2.0

This simple Android application walks the user through a short breathing exercise which can be used for meditation. Meditation Words shows words or phrases on the top and bottom of the screen. The top is for your in-breath, and the bottom is for your out-breath.
The words fade in and out at a breathing pace, and the animation slows after a few breaths.
There is a built-in exercise that is based on a variety of works by Thich Nhat Hanh, but you can choose your own mediation or prayer using OI Notepad, if installed.

Download the application from your G1 phone. For more information, visit

Friday, January 2, 2009

Android G1 Encryption & Keystore Infrastructure

A group of us in collaboration between the Android Password Safe project and the Openintents project have implemented a cryptography service and a keystore service which other Android applications can use to keep data and passwords safe, in a way that's convenient for the end user.

Read all about about it on the wiki! Discussion, source code, pretty pictures are available.
Our system allows a single password, and periodic single sign-on so that all applications can encrypt, decrypt, and store keys using the same master password that the user enters once.

We hope other Android developers will read this and get excited and offer to help with implementation details, modify their applications to use our Intents, and help verify our cryptography implementation. We also want feedback on user experience, security permissions, and other such items :)

All the major features are implemented, but we do not yet have a release plan; we want to be sure that early adopters won't have any data that they'll never be able to decrypt :)
Read more.