Cloud208 Blog

Personal blog of Davorin Ruševljan.

Useful tips for broken ankle

In the late autumn I have broken my ankle, and underwent surgery to repair it. Needles to say broken ankle changes ones life overnight. When you look upfront at recovery it is very long, at least 3 months are expected. But when it is all over and done, and you look back at it does not seem that long anymore. Here are some things that I found useful, and that helped me to cope with it.

In first days while you are still confined to laying in bed, tablet can be your window into the world, from reading mail, browsing web pages about broken ankle like this one, and reading some books to relax.

When you start walking with crutches, you will soon realize that you can not carry anything around with your hands, since they are busy with the crutches. Belt bag will help you to carry quite a few items easily.

While belt bag will help you to carry many necessary items, it is not suitable for a cup of coffee or soup bowl. Here is where serving trolley jumps in if you happen to have one in the house. It is still preferred to use closed containers on it, since you would be pushing it around in not exactly smooth manner.

I have started to take brief walks out of the house as soon I managed to climb 3 stories of stairs (no elevator), those walks lasted for few minutes, but it surely felt nice to feel the outside air and some spots of daylight. But in order to get out, I need a sock, and a shoe that that will fit my huge ankle. As for shoes, I was lucky to have a pair of Aetrex v753 snickers which are very roomy. As for sock, good online friend of mine was kind enough to knit a pair of large left socks for me . They fitted like a sleeve, and frankly I have never thought knitted socks would be that comfortable. Thanks Janis!

Anyway, when going out, there are many more things that can help you. Firstly, ASO ankle brace. It will protect you from taking wrong step and hurting your still recovering ankle. When I became more confident with my crutch walks (and less concentrated), I did once manage to misstep. Boy was I glad that I did have ASO brace at that moment.

It is likely that your hands would not be prepared for extra work needed for the crutches, and you might develop blisters. Bicycling gloves (with and without fingers), helped me in that area. Cycling gloves are padded, and yet strong enough not to get destroyed by the crutches.

Another useful cycling item is breathable soft shell jacket. When walking on the crutches you will perspire much more than just walking and cycling jacket will help to deal with that while protecting you from the wind. Mine had and added bonus, kangaroo sized pocket on the back that proved very convenient to carry quite a few things.

When your outdoor excursions get longer, backpack will become your best friend. It does not affect walking with crutches, and even on the stairs it was not problematic, and one can put a heap of stuff in it.

If your house does not have elevator, you will quickly discover that timer for the lights on the stairways is not designed to handle people moving as slowly as you. Any cheap headlamp will ensure that you do not stay at the middle of the stairs in the dark, and will leave both of your hands free for the crutches.

When time comes for you to start going to the physical therapy, chances are you will need to walk to it. In my case this coincided with some icy weather, and I was quite concerned about it since crutches and ice do not mix all that well. So I got a pair of Yaktrax to put on my shoes to provide me with more grip.

Lastly, I wanted to start working out my leg as soon my surgeon allowed it. Stationary bicycle is great for the purpose but I do not own one, so I got myself gym pass. As added bonus, this gym had Concept 2 indoor rowers, which I could also use.

So this pretty much sums it up. In the next blog post I will try to list all important dates and key events during my recovery.

Posted by rush at 31 March 2014, 4:41 pm with tags broken, ankle 2 comments link

Textual parametric 3D modeling with OpenSCAD

With recent development of 3D printers, and internet based print services like i.materialise, 3DPRINTUK or Thingverse that made it available to wide public, it was getting harder and harder for me to resit temptation to try it at least a bit. It kind of reminds me of early home computer era, when they were still a tad to weak for almost anything actually useful, yet everyone wanted one.

So, I started looking for 3D modeling tool I could use as complete novice, and pretty soon SketchUp emerged as my first pick. It provides intuitive and simple modeling approach, that is easy to use. Well, at least demonstrations and tutorials on YouTube looked so. It was also easy for me to model something random, but I have to confess I struggled more than I excepted each time I tried to model some particular object I had in my mind. But I think it was much more due to my complete inexperience with 3D modeling, than with SketchUp.

But, I have started to migrate my work environment from Windows to Linux, and SketchUp does not have native Linux version, so I have started looking for alternatives. Somehow I have stumbled on OpenSCAD, and got taken away by its interesting approach. OpenSCAD defines language that is used to describe 3D models, and OpenSCAD reads file with such description, and renders the model accordingly. One could think of OpenSCAD language as HTML for 3D models.

OpenSCAD language provides set of basic objects, and operations upon them like translation, rotation, union, intersection, difference and extrusion. By using and combining them one is able to construct arbitrarily complex models.

One aspect that I find particularly interesting is that is very easy to parameterize model and use the same code to create large number of similar but customized objects. For instance two objects in following image are created with same code, just by providing different parameters:

This opens possibility for authors to easily offer and potentially sell customized 3D models ready for print. Like dog tag with name engraved, or like in above example mold for tube holders of different dimensions and magnet configurations. Possibilities are endless, here is one collection from Thingverse.

Posted by rush at 1 January 2014, 11:22 am with tags 3Dprinting, 3Dmodeling, OpenSCAD comment link

Enjoying bicycle ride on snow, for casual commuter

For quite a long time, I used to think that riding a bicycle on snow is, while not strictly impossible, something extreme, like walking on the rope or trapeze act. Most of my bike riding is leisurely commuting over the flat streets of Zagreb, and I almost never go of the paved surfaces. I am 47 years old, and dexterity or sense of balance are by no means my strong points. Anyway, I was intrigued when few cyclist with much more experience told me that they commute even when there is snow.

So I decided to give it a try, and .. whoha!

Not only that it can be done, but it is in fact quite often fun, and very nice experience. There are risk of course, but I would say that for many types of snow surfaces, it is often easier to avoid falling from bicycle than from your own feet (ok, falling from the bicycle could have more serious consequences).

If you do not have experience of driving on off road and slippery terrain like me, but you would like to give it a snow try, here are some tips:

Bicycle, clothing

Fatter tyres with deeper profiles are better. Tyres with studs are way better on icy surface. Mine are Schwalbe Marathon Winter, 37x622. When driving on the snow, you are probably not going to break speed records, so take into account that you will be generating less internal heat. But do not over dress either, so that you sweat too much or fill stiff or restricted in your clothes. Taking an extra pair of gloves in case primary ones get wet is not a bad idea. Wear solid winter shoes with very good grip.

Before you sit on the bike

warm up properly, especially your back, shoulder and arms. If you are anything like me, your bike will slip from time to time, and until you get some hang of it, your body will be reacting with sudden panic movements originating from your back.

First ride, where and when.

Ideally choose a flat route that you know, free of other vehicles and pedestrians, with hard and even surface covered with 5-8 cm of fresh snow. Riding on such road should be easy-peasy, since wheel will be cutting almost completely through it, and you will be grinning all the way. Keyword here is even surface and fresh snow, uneven surface or semi melted or semi frozen snow will complicate things.

Mounting dismounting

It sounds funny, but for me, mounting or dismounting the bike seem to be among the moves having the largest risk of falling. You have to balance on one foot on the slippery surface and swing your other leg. So try to find good, flat, not to slippery surface to mount and dismount, and do it carefully. Also this is the point where your solid winter shoes should come handy.

When riding

Be soft. Be very soft. Move yourself a little to the back and make sure that you are not heavily leaning on your hands. Your hands should not be stiff, but light and free to react quickly and with good control. Try to avoid panic responses when something throws you off course and respond quickly but with moderation. Concentrate on the surface before you, and try to spot troubling spots ahead of you. It takes some time to find a good speed. Generally you will not be moving fast, but it is important that you strike a good balance. Some speed helps you to cut through uneven terrain, but too much speed will not give you time to react when something throws you off balance. Also take into account that stopping will take more time and space.

Kinds of snow

What kinds of snow, say you, they are all white right? Wrong. Structure of the snow, underlying surface, all influence how will you get over it. The very same part of the road could become from very easy into very difficult in half an hour by some melting/freezing going on. The snow that was strong enough to support you would be collapsing under you, or snow that you were cutting through with ease will be now stiff like rock and throwing you in all directions. Learning to recognize, and read the properties of path in front of you will take some time, but also make the whole process interesting for a long time.

As general rule of the thumb, avoid surfaces that are under angle, since your wheel will not be able to support you like it does in normal conditions. Ice is fine, especially if you have studded tyres. Just try to avoid mounting and dismounting Narrow paths made by people walking can be very tricky since their profile is very often like a peak of a mountain, so you are constantly thrown left or right.

Closing remarks

Remember that pushing your bike over troubling section is always an option. If you do not feel secure, dismount and walk.

Now go out and enjoy some snow!

Posted by rush at 18 January 2013, 4:13 pm with tags bicycle comment link

Android: Your email will appear shortly, or when smart phone gets dumb

It all started this Saturday (24th of November 2012), the gmail app on my T-mobile G1 (also known as HTC Dream: grand father of all Android phones) stopped to sync mails. When I tried to open some label, it told me there was an network error, which sounded funny since at the same time I was able to browse normally.

After waiting a day in hope problem would go away by itself, I have concluded that some action is needed. Web search indicated that there are such cases, and consensus was "yes, it does happen, clear gmail (or some other google application) data, and either the thing will fix itself, or you will enter your account info again, but eventually it should come to senses.

Well, I started deleting various google application data, but the problem was not going away, and I had less and less google services available. Finally I have reached the point where I had to reenter my account info or create a new google account, and to my despair, I was not able to do either. I was politely informed that there is network error, and that phone is unable to reach google servers. Needless to say, at the same time I was able to surf the net without problems.

At that moment I have decided to try something I should have done in the beginning, try to open gmail from the web interface. When I tried, it did open, but only after few warnings about invalid certificate for the google.com domain provided by google servers!

So my theory is that on Saturday google rolled out shiny brand new SSL certificate on its servers, but it forgot that validity of those certs can not be verified on old Android 1.6 devices, probably because root certificate needed for verification is not included on those devices. Which is not such big problem if user browses the web. He gets the warning, and can proceed (at his own risk) if he needs to. But probably the very same web browser component is used inside core google apps for android, and those apps just get exception when they try to get resource protected by new certificate, and proudly claim that google servers are unreachable as consequence. And anyone using those apps is doomed from that point on. Gmail, contacts, calendar, market, to name a few.

At that point I realized that my smart phone is not very smart any more. For a long time I was tempted to install CyanogenMod to my HTC Dream, but I was afraid that I migt loose my data and even brick the phone. Now when most of my data was inaccessible, and phone turned into bulkier equivalent of Nokia 3310 with poor battery life, installing CyanogenMod did not seem such a big risk, and new version of OS should be able to handle new certificates without problems, right?!

So there I was reading (very good) tutorials how to install CyanogenMod on HTC Dream. Procedure basically consisted of downgrading OS on the phone to the initial version which has exploit in it, downloading telnet client from the market and rooting the device through telnet, and then installing Cyanogen. So I have downgraded Android to ROM version 29, rebooted the phone, initial setup started, asked me to use existing account or create a new one, and you have guessed it by now, it was not able to contact the darned google servers! Only now I was not able to do even the simplest things with phone, It refused to do anything until registration process with google is completed.

I had faint hope that maybe it was my SIM card causing the problems now, so I purchased T-Mobile card with data plan for $4 and tried with it. Still not able to reach google servers and register. Then I found tutorial how to activate android without SIM card . It involved connecting phone to pc thorugh USB and adb utilities, triggering Wi-Fi control panel on the phone, where I turned the Wireless on, connected to the net over Wi-Fi, and then proceeded with activation now over the Wi-Fi connection. Which of course did not work either since activation could not reach google servers. So obviously downgraded version of Android was not able to deal with new certificates either (not a big surprise when I think of it now).

So, it seemed to me I was defeated, and I started to get used to idea of using Nokia 3310 for a while. Then occured to me that I might use the same trick that was used to trigger WiFi through ADB, to install Telnet client and start it on the phone - without going through activation and completing it. After some poking around I found a way to do it, telnet got installed, started, I connected to the localhost, rooted the device, and from that point on CyanogenMod installed like charm. Here are details how to root HTC G1 without activating it.

So now my 4 years old "grandpa" phone has newer version of Android OS, and it runs nicely, my emails and contacts sync! Phew!

Posted by rush at 27 November 2012, 11:33 pm with tags android, ssl 2 comments link

Rooting HTC Dream (G1) without activation

There is nice tutorial how to root HTC Dream (also known as T-Mobile G1)

Unfortunately, this procedure requires that downgraded phone gets activated over the google servers, and at least as it seems now there are some problems with activating such old device, possibly related to google web site certificates

Here is the small modification of procedure described in tutorial how to root HTC Dream, which bypasses activation.

  1. Before you begin, and while your phone is completely operational go to Settings » Applications » and check Unknown Sources.
  2. On your PC download telnet client, save it locally on, and take note where you have saved it.
  3. setup ADB on your PC as described in this tutorial You are not done with this step until you can see your phone listed in output of "adb" devices command
  4. Now proceed with instructions on how to root HTC Dream, from the start until including step 3 of paragraph "Rooting the HTC Dream"
  5. Now instead of steps 5,6 enter following adb commands (modified for correct path to the telnet apk you have downloaded before)
  6. adb install Telnet.apk
  7. adb shell am start -a android.intent.action.MAIN -n koushikdutta.telnet/.TelnetActivity
  8. after this on your phone telnet should be started. Connect to localhost port 23. You should connect succesfully.
  9. return to and follow instructions on how to root HTC Dream from paragraph "Installing a Custom Recovery Image" till the end.

That should be it.

Posted by rush at 27 November 2012, 11:32 pm with tags android comment link
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