April 2022

Extreme Drainage Coverall: first thoughts

So, over the week leading up to the Easter long week-end, a package I ordered way back in late January made its way from northern Finland via Perth to Brisbane and landed on my door-step the Thursday we headed to Imbil.

That’s timing for you… thankfully not that wet this last week-end, and in any case, I had a stomach bug which precluded me from wearing any single-piece clothing as I was running to the loo on a frequent basis. With that week-end (and the stomach bug) behind me, I finally had a close look at this outfit. These are some detail shots of the suit I ordered, there’s of course more general shots on the supplier’s website. The outfit is made by AJ Group who are based in Konin in the central-west of Poland.

I haven’t tried going for a ride in it yet, but it had been raining this morning, and I needed to clear a couple of clogged drains. This outfit is perfect for the job even in Brisbane’s somewhat humid weather.

Weather conditions this morning were overcast with light showers, 20.1°C and 84% relative humidity. No action shots on this occasion. I felt warm, but didn’t feel like I was going to start sweating heavily. That said, I probably wouldn’t want the temperature up much higher than it already was. In intermittent sunny/showery weather, I’d get steamed, no question.

In my case, I needed to clear bundles of leaves that were blocking the water from clean flow, ordinarily I’d be trying to do it with my foot, but here I could just kneel right in the gutter and get stuck into it. Drain was cleared in seconds and I stayed perfectly dry.

I found the hood, due to the thicker material, benefits from wearing a cap of some description underneath for head tracking. Or you can pull a helmet or something down over the top of the hood then it’ll track without issues. The hood can be pulled down but it’ll want to sit up and interfere with anything you’re wearing on your head, so you’re better off just leaving it up unconditionally unless it’s really bothering you.

Mikko (who runs rainwear.store) comments on his site that the gloves generally mean the wearer isn’t able to operate capacitive touchscreens. I guess mileage may vary. First time I tried it on, I did a brief check and found indeed, while my tablet touchscreen worked fine, the phone was unresponsive. However, on subsequent (longer) trials, I’ve observed the phone does in fact work.

The trick seems to be not having your hands too dry when you put the outfit on — a little moisture on your hands helps the conductivity needed for the touchscreen controller to sense your finger. Mileage of course may vary: I don’t use screen protectors or covers on any of my devices, which may be helping the sensitivity of the capacitive sensors, but in general I found I was able to do most things I could do with bare hands. The gloves could be half a size smaller to be honest, size 9 (the smallest offered by Rainwear Store) is on the big size (I’m more a 8½, but that isn’t available), but thankfully not too big to make things clumsy. They’re made by Showa, model 6603 not sure where they are made (they appear to be EU-based as well, RS says Malaysia — but that could be just where RS’ stock comes from).

Typing on a physical keyboard is slowed down, but not impossible, multi-touch pointing devices still work (or at least the one on my Panasonic CF-53 does).

The boots are reasonably comfortable — in fact I think they fit better than any other boots I own. I wear orthodics for a high-arch and these fit well. I’m not sure who manufactures them, but they have “Made in the EU” stamped on the sole, so they’re somewhere in Europe.

The fabric is heavier than what I’m used to with the other rain overalls I have, but it’s not unbearably heavy for the task. This suit has pockets on the outside of the legs — this is a special extra.

The thinking was it’d be somewhere to keep a phone/wallet/keys if I’m out on a check-point in the weather. If I go wading into water, obviously I’m going to have to empty these pockets, and in fact, punching a couple of small drainage-holes on the outer wall of each pocket may be prudent so that they don’t fill with water… but in practice it’s rare that I’d be entering that depth of water. The positioning of them is perhaps lower than I’d like, with the ideal being waist-height — but given most come with no pockets at all, this is a big bonus. Another position I guess would be a large pouch across the stomach like some hooded jumpers. Next time I guess.

In short though, very much worth a look. I’ll know more when I try them out on the bike.

Ukraine war: Cold War 2.0 or WW3?

I guess we’ve all been hearing about the “special operation” that Russia blundered into. This was supposed to be a week-long peace-keeping mission… and the locals were meant to be “welcoming” the Russian troops with open arms.

I tell you what, if that’s a “welcome”, I’d hate to see what the Ukrainians would reserve for true enemies… from what I can see the message seems very clear: “Outta here, Vladimir!” Still, Moscow appears to not have gotten the message, even after 44 days, they’re still at it. The banner up the top-right of this page is quite out of date now — not that the message is any less true, additional lives have been lost due to this conflict.

Only because Russia’s troops on the ground have so far failed to take any major cities by conventional means, they’ve resorted to bombing the crap out of these cities. And it appears, nothing is sacred, with places like shelters and hospitals copping it. Then there’s the allegations of rape and torture committed by these troops.

Russia denies being responsible of course.

It’s been hard to watch this unfold from the opposite hemisphere. I don’t know anyone in Eastern Europe personally, so there’s no “personal attachment”, but this doesn’t mean I don’t feel sorry for the everyday citizens in this region. This is a war ordered by the Russian Government under the pretence of “peace keeping”.

I’m reminded of the pilot episode of Yes Minister, “Open Government” — Sir Humphrey Appleby when asked about the title of a policy document drily replies “Always dispose of the difficult bit in the title, [it] does less harm there than in the text” (17:03 if you’ve got the DVD handy). Governments the world over are notorious for using euphemistic terms to label things, and this just another (albeit, extreme) example. Very few countries are going along with that, the rest are seeing right through this thin veil and seeing the conflict for what it is. Even China Radio International describe the two countries as “warring”.

In any case, whether the people of these places agree with what’s happening or not, they get no choice in the situation. If they’re members of the military, they’re forced into this conflict and carrying out the orders as given, or face insubordination charges.

So on it goes, including the shelling from over the eastern border. Even Lviv in the west of Ukraine has not been spared — it too has been hit from long-distance missiles. I fear it’s only going to take a slight miscalculation on the part of the Russian unit firing it, maybe they aim a little too high, and instead of landing in Lviv, it sails clean across the border and hits something in Poland: a NATO member — then WW3 would be on for real.

Russia was initially using violence in the Donbas region as the justification for their “special operation”, in which case a question needs to be asked: why bomb Lviv in the west? If the military is the target, why did the Kramatorsk railway station get hit when it was clearly brimming with civilians? Are they that inept at their aim that they missed their real target and hit this place instead?

Valid questions that deserve investigation I think. The males of this species are known to have two heads: one above our shoulders and the other between our legs — personally I think Putin has been doing his “thinking” with the latter. No wonder we keep hearing chants of “Пу́тін — хуйло́” (roughly, “Putin is a dickhead” — assuming the Wikipedia translation is accurate).

The violence in the Donbas region should be investigated too — while it’s in no way a justification for the invasion, there seems to be enough reports to suggest there were problems here, and it’s correct that a (perhaps independent) body investigates. However, this will have to wait until the fighting stops.

Presently, the world is attempting to strong-arm Russia into dropping its fight by issuing sanctions. This is made difficult because much of Europe is dependent on Russian fossil fuel, but even those imports will fall under direct bans with sufficient time. Germany has already banned coal imports. The UK says it will ban Russian oil & gas by the end of the year. Some countries have already cut themselves off completely.

Russia’s Government is in a no-win situation now I think. Had they stopped after the first fortnight, realising that this wasn’t going to work, many of the atrocities we’re hearing about now likely would not have taken place and I think things would calm-down relatively quickly. Moscow might’ve been able to “save face” to a limited extent. Too late for that now: domestically they’ll look like a failure, and internationally they’re already being treated like a leper.

I’ve for a long time been blocking China, ever since they started relentless port-scanning activity on my IPv6 subnets. (Looking at you 240e:f7:4f01:c::3!) I’ve since added Hong Kong (because China says HK is “part of China” and the HK Government seems to agree with that… so I’ll treat them the way I treat China), along with North Korea (allied with China).

While Russia is officially fighting the Ukraine, the truth is their cybersecurity attack teams have had a bad reputation for a long time, and this war is being fought with IP datagrams as much as it’s being fought with bullets. They would think nothing of “conscripting” some home router or IoT device into their “digital army”. So into the blacklist they go, along with Belarus, Syria and Turkey who so far are helping support Russia or are otherwise maintaining diplomatic relationships with them.

I’m tempted to throw India into that list too as the Indian Government seems intent on fence-sitting. (They’ll get splinters in their bum doing that!)

Of course none of this stops an indirect attack on my infrastructure via some compromised router or VPN endpoint somewhere else in the world acting as a proxy, but at least it restricts direct attack.

The ugly bit will come though when it comes to the war crimes investigation. The atrocities have been severe, and I don’t think there’s much question at all that they’ve taken place. The true question though is the classic “who dunnit”. We’ll need to use our heads with this: the one above our shoulders, confirmation bias is going to be our biggest enemy. The vehicle of justice must be driven by objective evidence, emotions must take a back seat! I think this is going to be our greatest challenge this century.