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Another pair of sleddogs bites the dust

I was on the slopes again with my Sled Dog snow skates, and my friend Gary was there too. He nuked a pair last month, a feat I had tried to replicate but failed.

A great weekend of spring skiing. The kids are so charming as they learn. And Gary, of course, disintegrated another pair of Sled Dogs.
Sled Dog Snow Skates bite the dust

This ends his collection. Unless the Norwegians restart the assembly line, he’s going to have to move on to skiboards or something.

Sled Dog snow skates

Back in the mid 1990s, inline skating exploded in popularity. The number of people skating increased by 40% to 50% each year, and it seemed each season brought another new player to the market. First Rollerblade, then K2, Roces, Salomon, etc. etc. etc. In racing skates, you first saw Bonts, then Simmons and Miller, and people moved from 72mm wheels to 80mm to 100mm. Pressing the expansion of the market, some entrepreneurs incorporated a company called SnowRunner to introduce a Swiss innovation called snow skates to the U.S. market. In the words of the company, “Snow skates are . . . designed to permit travel across snow using a skating motion or gliding downhill like an alpine skier.” The devices looked like ski boots with a smooth base, and the action was a tiny bit like inline skating.

The company changed its name to Sled Dogs and came public in 1994, projecting millions of people would adopt their new sport. “The Company believes that snow skating not only appeals to the new winter sports enthusiast (active individuals who enjoy the outdoors and are eager to find a winter activity that is quick and fun to learn) but also will appeal to a broad segment of the nearly 31 million in-line skaters in the U.S., primarily the 20 million who, according to the Company’s marketing studies, currently do not have a winter sport of choice. The Company also believes its products and the new sport it is creating will be an alternative for infrequent skiers and snowboarders in the U.S.”

Snow skates were slower than skis, and tedious on a traverse, but otherwise a lot of fun. Some friends and I were prominent inline skaters at the time, and were given demo units. We would do things like link arms and spin around in circles as we plummeted down a run. Technically difficult terrain was often a lot easier for us than for people on skis. Our snow skating got some press; the photos below appeared in an inline magazine.

I’m in the back here:

And here I am again:

They had a great logo, produced some television commercials, enlisted “Top Dog” demo skaters around the country, and got rental and demo units into hundreds of ski resorts. However, the business was doomed. The inline skating boom ended and management of Sled Dogs got desperate. They chased the snowboarding market with an ill-conceived brand extension called “K-9s” that had a larger base than the original skates, and were much harder to control (especially when the base detached and went shooting ahead of you down the mountain, as these were wont to do). The company soon went out of business. They sold their licenses or patents to a Norwegian company that developed some later models, but which seems to produce only a small run each season and is usually out of stock.

One of my skating buddies took his original Sled Dogs out of the closet this weekend for the first time in over ten years, and hit the slope. Unfortunately, the company seemed to have used a cheap plastic in their design, and the age plus the cold was too much for them:

The skates exploded.

So we’re looking for replacements. We’ve found a canadian company selling 20-year-old Snowrunners, and a Korean company with a much too expensive snow-base for actual inline boots. I’ve gotten my old Sled Dogs out of the basement (both model sd250 and a pair of K9s the company sent me), and I’ll take them into the mountains next weekend, trying my hardest to blow them up the way Gary blew up his. Wish me luck.

February 21, 2011 update — my skates survived. I will try again to destroy them next week.

A thoroughly unscientific study of computers in the New York City court system

I am on jury duty today. Civil court, as it turns out. I last served in 2003, when I sat on one of the “murder and mayhem” grand juries (grand juries in New York specialize in drugs, family, violent, or white collar crime). On the violent crime grand jury we heard about a dozen cases, none of which I am allowed to disclose, though I will say that one of the accused had tried to kill himself by pressing a running power drill against his head until, I think, he broke the bit, then slashed his wrists, jumped out of an eighth story window, and survived. I proposed that we waive any indictment in exchange for this superman’s agreeing to be dropped on Afghanistan, but that power is evidently not available to grand juries.

Anyway, since my last stint they have installed Wifi in the court building.

I’m seeing 47 unambiguous PCs on the network and 12 Macs, with another 56 I’m not sure about. All the official machines seem to be PCs. I’ve noticed one machine with a public directory featuring a bootleg collection of hiphop recordings.

The man two seats to my right has fallen asleep and is snoring. Everybody else is jealous.

Installing WordPress on, the 2010 edition provides a software installation kit that will do this automatically, but they charge $3/month for access, which seems silly for free software. You can install WordPress yourself in a few minutes. These guidelines follow those from eHow, but updated for the current state of things.

  1. Download the WordPress blog software. It will be delivered in a .zip file, which you will need to unzip.
  2. Inside the resulting folder, locate the wp-config-sample.php file and rename it to wp-config.php. Open this file in TextEdit (Mac), Notepad (PC), or another text editor.
  3. Log in to your Pair Networks account to create a new database for your WordPress installation.  Go to the Account Control Center, then to “Database Management,” “Create a New Database”.
  4. Assign a name to your new database. It is best to choose a name that will be easily identifiable if you plan to have multiple databases. Access level “local” and “monthly” optimization should be fine. Then click on the “Add Database” button. You will be brought to the New Database Details screen. Copy the server name, user name for full access, and the password.
  5. In the wp-config.php file that you have opened in your text editor, set the DB_NAME, DB_USER, DB_PASSWORD, and DB_HOST variables (the last of those is the server name over at pair, probably something like  All of these must be exact matches to your database setup at You should also take this opportunity to assign unique phrases to the various authentication unique keys and salts in the wp-config file.
  6. Connect to your web server via FTP and upload all of the WordPress files, including the wp-config.php to the desired location on your account. If you upload them to then people will later be able to reach your blog by going to that exact address.
  7. Start the WordPress installation PHP script by pointing your web browser to your domain/installation directory, followed by /wp-admin/install.php. Follow the on-screen prompts and the WordPress installation on your account will be complete. If it can’t log in, try going back to the database management screen, “Change A Password,” and give a new password to your main database user account. Enter this new password into your wp-config file, upload the fixed wp-config file back to the server, and try again.


“The combination of precise formulas with highly imprecise assumptions can be used to establish, or rather to justify, practically any value one wishes…Calculus…[gives] speculation the deceptive guise of investment.”

—Benjamin Graham, 1949