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Using AI to plan a bicycle trip...

Old 03-27-24, 02:46 PM
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Using AI to plan a bicycle trip...

For fun, I did an experiment to see how well a local chatbot could plan an upcoming bicycle trip. I was using a local copy of "LM Studio" on my PC and picked the Mistral Instruct 7B model. Overall less powerful than many large language models out there, but also something I could run local and portable on my PC.
Here is the prompt I provided:
> Develop an itinerary and guide for a bicycle trip from Alamogordo New Mexico to Lubbock Texas. Include daily distances and places to stay.
Here is the output it generated:

Title: Bicycle Trip Itinerary from Alamogordo, NM to Lubbock, TX

**Day 1:**

* Distance: 48 miles (77 km)
* Start the day in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
* Head north on US-54 towards Tularosa, NM (20 miles/32 km). Stay overnight at one of the local motels or campgrounds.
* Continue your journey to Carrizozo, NM (another 28 miles/45 km) and rest for the day.

**Day 2:**

* Distance: 69 miles (111 km)
* Depart from Carrizozo early in the morning.
* Bike through Capitan and Lincoln, New Mexico.
* Cross the state border into Texas and reach Roswell (34 miles/55 km). Spend the night here.

**Day 3:**

* Distance: 61 miles (98 km)
* Begin your day in Roswell and pedal towards Lovington, NM (27 miles/43 km).
* Then continue to Midland, Texas, (34 miles/55 km), where you can spend the night.

**Day 4:**

* Distance: 58 miles (93 km)
* Leave Midland and head towards Greenwood, Texas (28 miles/45 km).
* Then ride to Big Spring, Texas, (20 miles/32 km), where you can spend the night.

**Day 5:**

* Distance: 61 miles (98 km)
* Depart from Big Spring and head towards Slaton, Texas (25 miles/40 km).
* Continue to Littlefield, Texas (another 30 miles/48 km), and spend the night here.

**Day 6:**

* Distance: 51 miles (82 km)
* Leave Littlefield in the morning and head towards Lubbock, Texas.
* Stop in Levelland for lunch (19 miles/31 km).
* Finish your journey in Lubbock, where you can spend the night.

**Places to Stay:**
Throughout this bicycle trip, you will find various accommodation options such as motels, campgrounds, and local lodges. Make sure to plan and book ahead for a comfortable stay during your rest days.

Please note that distances may vary slightly depending on the terrain and route conditions. This itinerary is meant to be a guideline and can be adjusted according to your personal preferences and abilities. Enjoy your bike trip from Alamogordo, NM, to Lubbock, TX!
*************
In total it created a six day trip and told me the mileage was 348 miles. Doesn't look too bad as far as averages go. Below is the route if I ask Google Maps to plot a route (Automobile with "avoid highways" set) of everything except last part to Lubbock. In general it does seem to have picked stopping cities with places to stay though I am slightly confused with a "stay overnight" instruction in the middle of day one. I am also unclear on where I cross the border on day two. The route has some similarities with an upcoming trip I am planning though I prefer to go directly from Tatum to Levelland.

Definitely needs some polish but eventually use of techniques like retrieval augmented generation can probably also improve things.



As a further exercise, I then asked the chatbot to generate a blog posting that described the ride from the first day...
> Now generate a blog post that describes the cycle ride on the first day of the journey from Alamogordo to Lubbock

Title: Day One - Pedaling Through Beautiful New Mexico: A Cyclist's Journal

As I embarked on my bicycle adventure from Alamogordo, New Mexico, to Lubbock, Texas, I could feel the excitement and anticipation building within me. The first day of this journey promised to be a memorable one as I set out to discover new landscapes, meet friendly locals, and challenge myself both physically and mentally.

The morning sun greeted me with its gentle warmth as I prepared my bicycle for the day ahead. After a quick breakfast, I said goodbye to Alamogordo's charming small-town charm and mounted my bike on US-54, heading north towards Tularosa, New Mexico.

As I pedaled along, I was struck by the stunning vistas surrounding me – rolling hills dotted with sagebrush and cacti, crystal-clear skies filled with vibrant clouds, and the occasional grazing herd of goats or horses on sprawling ranches. The serene silence of the open road gave way to a symphony of bird calls and gentle breezes that seemed to whisper encouragement as I continued my journey.

Passing through Tularosa, I took a moment to rest and refuel before pressing onward towards Carrizozo, New Mexico. This quaint little town welcomed me with open arms and offered a chance to stretch my legs while exploring its unique shops, galleries, and local eateries.

As the sun began to set, I found a cozy campground on the outskirts of Carrizozo where I pitched my tent for the night. Surrounded by nature's beauty and the sounds of crickets chirping in the distance, I couldn't help but reflect on the day's adventures – a perfect start to this incredible bicycle trip from Alamogordo, New Mexico, to Lubbock, Texas.

Stay tuned for more updates as I continue my journey through the Lone Star State!

Last edited by mev; 03-27-24 at 02:59 PM.
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Old 03-27-24, 03:13 PM
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AI is going to put “Penthouse Forum” writers out on the streets.
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Old 03-27-24, 03:13 PM
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For those more familiar with the east coast, here is what I got when I asked:

> Develop and itinerary and guide for a bicycle trip via the C&O Canal tow path from Cumberland to Washington. Include daily distances, sights to see and places to stay.
Title: Bicycle Trip along the C&O Canal Towpath from Cumberland to Washington D.C.

Day 1 - Cumberland to Frostown (Approx. 35 miles)
- Begin your journey in historic Cumberland, Maryland, at the westernmost end of the C&O Canal Towpath.
- Sights: Visit Fort Cumberland and the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.
- Stay at Frostown Campground or Frostown Hotel & Restaurant.

Day 2 - Frostown to Williamsport (Approx. 25 miles)
- Cycle through rolling hills and picturesque landscapes.
- Sights: Explore historic Williamsport, including the C&O Canal National Historical Park Visitor Center and the Williamsport Train Station Museum.
- Stay at Williamsport Campground or Potomac Overlook Bed & Breakfast.

Day 3 - Williamsport to Dam No. 5 (Approx. 28 miles)
- Follow the scenic towpath along the Potomac River.
- Sights: Stop by Dam No. 4 for a picnic and enjoy views of Great Falls Tavern.
- Stay at Dam No. 5 Campground or The River's Edge Bed & Breakfast.

Day 4 - Dam No. 5 to Georgetown (Approx. 21 miles)
- Experience the urban edge of the C&O Canal Towpath, passing through Great Falls National Park and Potomac Overlook.
- Sights: Visit Old Town Georgetown and enjoy a meal at one of its many restaurants.
- Stay in Georgetown at various hotels or campgrounds outside the city.

Day 5 - Georgetown to Washington D.C. (Approx. 17 miles)
- Complete your journey by reaching the end of the C&O Canal Towpath, just south of the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge in Washington D.C.
- Sights: Take a tour of the monuments and memorials along the National Mall.
- Stay in Washington D.C. at various hotels or campgrounds nearby.

This itinerary covers daily distances averaging around 30 miles, which should allow you to enjoy the scenery and historical sites along the C&O Canal Towpath from Cumberland to Washington D.C. on your bicycle trip.

***************
After creating the itinerary, I then asked it for a packing list:

> Create a packing list for the bicycle trip

Title: Bicycle Trip Packing List - C&O Canal Towpath from Cumberland to Washington D.C.

1. Bike and necessary tools (tire levers, patch kit, pump, multi-tool)
2. Helmet
3. Water bottle or hydration pack
4. Sunscreen and sunglasses
5. Rain gear (jacket and pants)
6. Extra clothing layers for cooler temperatures or rain
7. Map and/or GPS device
8. Flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries
9. First-aid kit
10. Insect repellent
11. Camping equipment: tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, camp stove, and cookware
12. Personal items: toiletries, change of clothes, wallet, ID, and emergency contact information
13. Food supplies for the duration of your trip (energy bars, trail mix, fruits, etc.)
14. Water filtration system or purification tablets
15. Repair kit (spare tubes, brake pads, derailleur hanger)
16. Camping chair and cooler if desired
17. Camera for capturing memories

This packing list covers the essentials for your bicycle trip along the C&O Canal Towpath from Cumberland to Washington D.C. Make sure to adapt it according to your personal preferences and specific needs during your adventure.

Last edited by mev; 03-27-24 at 03:28 PM.
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Old 03-27-24, 04:17 PM
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Ask “it” about tent size!
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Old 03-27-24, 05:25 PM
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don't know what to say except, f me a certain percentage of future folks are going to lack a lot of skill sets in life
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Old 03-27-24, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
Ask “it” about tent size!
I know this was said in jest... but I was curious so I asked the following:

> I'm going on a van supported bicycle tour. The night time temperatures will be in the low 40s. Is a 1 man tent better than a 2 man tent for warmth?

While a two-person tent can provide additional square footage and potentially more insulation due to its larger design, the primary factor affecting warmth inside a tent is not its size but rather its insulation quality and your ability to properly set it up for optimal heat retention.

A well-insulated one-person tent with a proper setup can offer comparable warmth compared to a two-person tent if you utilize the right techniques:

1. Insulate the floor: Place a closed-cell foam pad under your tent, which offers good insulation against cold ground. A camping mat or air mattress can be used on top for added comfort.
2. Set up a vestibule or rainfly: Make use of any available vestibules or rainfly extensions to protect the entrance and prevent cold drafts from entering your tent during the night.
3. Seal the gaps: Ensure all tent seams are properly sealed, and use tent stakes to secure the ground cloth around the edges, preventing cold air from creeping in through the gaps.
4. Insulate the walls: Use a reflective insulation layer like an emergency blanket or a high-density foam pad along the inner walls of your tent for added warmth.
5. Warm up the tent before bedtime: Before going to sleep, warm up your sleeping bag and tent by using a portable heating source or simply your body heat while preparing dinner inside your tent.

While a one-person tent may not offer as much space as a two-person tent, by focusing on these insulation techniques, you can create an effective and cozy shelter for yourself even during cold night temperatures in the low 40s.
*********
As far as AI goes it made some different premises than others might make in this group. I was also curious whether it would repeat so I reversed things slightly and asked again:

> I'm going on a van supported bicycle tour. The night time temperatures will be in the low 40s. Is a 2 man tent better than a 1 man tent for warmth?
A 2-person tent can provide some additional warmth compared to a 1-person tent in cold conditions due to its larger size and increased volume of heated air that can be trapped inside. This extra space can allow you to use a larger sleeping bag, which may have a higher temperature rating than one designed for solo use. Additionally, two people sharing the tent can generate more body heat between them, further increasing the interior warmth. However, keep in mind that the primary purpose of a tent is to provide shelter and protection from the elements, not just warmth. If the difference in size and weight between a 2-person and a 1-person tent doesn't significantly impact your touring setup or overall packing considerations, then it may be worth considering the added warmth and comfort that a larger tent can offer in cold conditions. Ultimately, your personal comfort and preference should guide your decision, as well as the specific requirements of your bicycle tour.

***********
So I decided to see if I could get more of a case by asking explicitly to make a case...

> Convince me that a 1 man tent is better than a 2 man tent for my trip
A one-man tent can be an excellent choice for your van supported bicycle tour, especially considering the following advantages:

1. Lightweight and portable: One-man tents are generally more lightweight and compact than their two-person counterparts. This makes them easier to transport in your van, set up quickly, and carry while cycling between campsites.
2. Cost-effective: A one-man tent is typically less expensive than a two-person tent due to its smaller size and simpler design.
3. Solo camping experience: By choosing a one-man tent, you'll have the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the wilderness during your solo adventure. This can lead to a more peaceful, reflective, and personal camping experience.
4. Reduced condensation: In cold conditions, condensation is more likely to form on the inner walls of larger tents due to their increased surface area. A one-man tent, with its smaller size and better insulation, can help minimize the risk of unwanted condensation, keeping you warmer and drier throughout your trip.
5. Efficient use of resources: Setting up a one-man tent requires fewer stakes, guylines, and other camping accessories compared to a larger two-person tent. This means less equipment to pack, transport, and set up during your tour.
6. Energy efficiency: Since you'll be the only occupant in a one-man tent, all of your body heat will be contained within a smaller space. This can help maintain a warmer environment more efficiently compared to heating up a larger two-person tent for just one person.
7. Easier setup and takedown: The simplicity and compact design of a one-man tent makes it easier and quicker to set up and take down than a two-person tent, saving you time and energy during your trip.
8. Better insulation: With the right insulation techniques (as mentioned in the previous response), a well-designed one-man tent can provide comparable warmth to a two-person tent or even be warmer due to its smaller size and better insulation capabilities.
9. Customizable: You have the freedom to choose a one-man tent that caters specifically to your personal preferences, such as choosing a lightweight ultralight model for backpacking or a more spacious and insulated design for van camping.
10. Environmental impact: A smaller one-person tent has a reduced environmental footprint compared to a larger two-person tent. This can be an essential factor if you're conscious of your impact on the environment during your tour.

By carefully considering these advantages, a one-man tent could be the better choice for your van supported bicycle tour, providing you with a warm, efficient, and cost-effective shelter for your adventure.
************

I'll leave it for the other thread to argue the merits here. From an AI perspective I would say it isn't quite there but has definitely matured since a few years ago.

Last edited by mev; 03-27-24 at 06:34 PM.
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Old 03-27-24, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
AI is going to put “Penthouse Forum” writers out on the streets.
Damn… I guess I can go back to being a bike mechanic.
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Old 03-27-24, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by djb
don't know what to say except, f me a certain percentage of future folks are going to lack a lot of skill sets in life
That's been the way of the world for decades and centuries now, hasn't it? I don't know how to milk a cow, gut an animal and prepare a hide, set type, or program with punchcards. Instead, my time has been spent learning other things.

And so it will go.
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Old 03-27-24, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by john m flores
That's been the way of the world for decades and centuries now, hasn't it? I don't know how to milk a cow, gut an animal and prepare a hide, set type, or program with punchcards. Instead, my time has been spent learning other things.

And so it will go.
Ya, I know, I know. Stuff is always changing and I don't have a problem with that. It's the creative writing aspect of this that has always bugged me.
Will be interesting to see where all this goes even in the few years I've got left in this warranty of mine.
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Old 03-27-24, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by mev
I know this was said in jest...
Actually, it wasn’t. I was curious to see how its responses would compare to those in an active thread made by people with real intelligence.

Thanks.

It clearly needs work.
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Old 03-27-24, 10:17 PM
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From now on I shall carry high density foam for the tent walls, and commence cooking inside my tent. Bears be damned.
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Old 03-27-24, 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by mev
For fun, I did an experiment to see how well a local chatbot could plan an upcoming bicycle trip. I was using a local copy of "LM Studio" on my PC and picked the Mistral Instruct 7B model. Overall less powerful than many large language models out there, but also something I could run local and portable on my PC.
Interesting. I am considering Mistral and Llama 2 to run jobs I currently do with openai. Was there a reason behind your decision or was it just a matter of opportunity?

Have you compared with what Gemini/chatGPT/Claude have to say? Meaningful differences?
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Old 03-28-24, 03:44 AM
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Originally Posted by gauvins
Interesting. I am considering Mistral and Llama 2 to run jobs I currently do with openai. Was there a reason behind your decision or was it just a matter of opportunity?

Have you compared with what Gemini/chatGPT/Claude have to say? Meaningful differences?
I haven't compared it with larger models that do better on the leader boards. This is mostly opportunity situation. I expect they may well do better on some of my tent questions.

It was also trying out a run local scenario. I was running locally on my laptop in a way I could also do without Internet access and without a GPU. So the model was smaller and less powerful but also more portable. The tool I was using was LM Studio but there are others like llamafile in similar space that I anticipate becoming more widespread on devices like mobile phones.
​​​
While not a surprise when you think about it, it was more intriguing to see both the presence and absence of spacial awareness. All the locations mentioned were at least in the general geographic area. The distances and overall order was bogus.

I see that as not too different from how people are exploring the ability to do math. That is an area where you need exact answers rather than something close (though looking at it in terms of fuzzier metric like how many digits are correct on a probability basis might also explain some of the claims of why some models appear to do much better). A similar approximation idea comes in my geographic questions.

Rather than go to larger models, the direction I am more interested to work towards is retrieval augmented generation (https://arxiv.org/abs/2312.10997). In short what this does is augment a large language model with a content specific vector database that gets searched to provide context for the answer. So for example, if I could preload a set of trip reports about the C&O canal and then ask for a customized trip plan based on my circumstances or perhaps a set of blogs that describe equipment choices/results and have those incorporated in the answer.
​​​​​
I expect we could get better and more interesting answers that reflect previous documented trip reports. I also expect we can start to get tools that go through photos taken and summarize a trip. However a really good AI assistant for cycle touring will still take some work.

Last edited by mev; 03-28-24 at 04:08 AM.
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Old 03-28-24, 07:10 AM
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mev (1) I didn't realize that distances were bogus. Indeed related to spatial organization of data. Interesting. (2) RAG is another interesting avenue. Not clear if these models have integrated CGOAB, nor what prompting models to privilege this corpus would do. But yes, summarizing, organizing, "digesting" CGOAB + relevant sub******s and forums could be useful, perhaps...

Like writing a touring digest for... riding Biarritz -> Lisboa, which I'll do in a couple of months. Looking forward to visiting a few cities that have legendary status, but there's certainly much much more that I am unaware of. Put differently, I would think that the tools might be more useful to gather information on an itinerary, vs building one from end points.

Thanks for sharing your experiment.
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Old 03-28-24, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by mev
**Day 1:**

* Distance: 48 miles (77 km)
* Start the day in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
* Head north on US-54 towards Tularosa, NM (20 miles/32 km). Stay overnight at one of the local motels or campgrounds.
* Continue your journey to Carrizozo, NM (another 28 miles/45 km) and rest for the day.
wait, what!!!!

day 1: ride from alamagordo to tularosa and spend the night. wake up, ride to carizoza and rest for a day.
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Old 03-28-24, 09:11 AM
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What does it say about wearing helmets?
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Old 03-28-24, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by djb
Ya, I know, I know. Stuff is always changing and I don't have a problem with that. It's the creative writing aspect of this that has always bugged me.
Will be interesting to see where all this goes even in the few years I've got left in this warranty of mine.
Yeah, as a writer, I'm watching the evolution keenly. I've played around with it, and it produced cliche-filled, hackneyed writing. That's to be expected; drivel in, drivel out. But people using it are already flooding their blogs and stuff with it, and that's going to make it even harder to find unique and interesting voices. It's going to be harder and harder for me to get my stuff seen.

Interesting times indeed.
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Old 03-28-24, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by raybo
What does it say about wearing helmets?
I asked the following after it gave me the inventory list, and here was the answer:

> My friend tells me a helmet isn't needed for the trip. Should I bring one anyway?

While riding on the C&O Canal Towpath may seem more relaxed compared to busy roads, wearing a helmet is still strongly recommended for safety reasons. The towpath can have uneven surfaces, roots, rocks, and unexpected encounters with other bicycles or pedestrians. Additionally, you might encounter sections where you'll need to ride on the road, especially near intersections or in towns.

Wearing a helmet reduces your risk of head injuries in case of an accident or fall. While it may not be mandatory by law for the entire C&O Canal Towpath, bringing and wearing a helmet is a responsible decision that prioritizes your safety during your bicycle trip.
**********
This highlights a bit of a difference between how using an AI agent might differ from using a search engine. As an example, I did a Google Search with the following "wearing helmets c&o canal towpath". It gave me a set of links with the following is the top link: https://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/safety.htm

​​​​​A little lower in the links is this link: https://www.nps.gov/articles/000/top...-c-o-canal.htm

The AI agent leads with more of an advice comment and as an aside mentions the regulations. My Google search first told me about the regulatory requirement for minors and lower down has a blog post with recommendations.

In a similar fashion for trip planning, I can see an AI agent creating an itinerary in respond to a question like "plan an itinerary for a two day visit to Lisbon" that likely includes some interesting suggestions to wade through but I would be wary of taking 100% at face value. The search engine would more easily provide a set of links to attractions but I would do more work putting them together.
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Old 03-28-24, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by AI
Alamogordo's charming small-town charm
​​​​​​​It really does emulate humanity.
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Old 03-28-24, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by phughes
From now on I shall carry high density foam for the tent walls, and commence cooking inside my tent. Bears be damned.
“warm up your sleeping bag and tent by using a portable heating source”


“Lightweight and portable: One-man tents are generally more lightweight and compact than their two-person counterparts. This makes them easier to transport in your van, set up quickly, and carry while cycling between campsites.”

But I’m not carrying the tent while cycling between sites on a van supported tour.

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Old 03-28-24, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
“warm up your sleeping bag and tent by using a portable heating source”


“Lightweight and portable: One-man tents are generally more lightweight and compact than their two-person counterparts. This makes them easier to transport in your van, set up quickly, and carry while cycling between campsites.”

But I’m not carrying the tent while cycling between sites on a van supported tour.
I seriously do not see the current appeal of AI. I am a geek, and I appreciate the technology for use in some industries, and have actually been reading and studying what I can about it since the '90s, but its current use online is maddening. The AI online uses all that is available online currently, without discernment. There is so much misinformation online, that works its way into the AI generated responses. It is useless. Unfortunately most people using it do not take that in consideration when using it, and take it as a more reputable source than that found elsewhere.
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Old 03-28-24, 02:10 PM
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Uh, am I missing something? It has you arriving in Lubbock on day 6, without mentioning it routed you through Lubbock on day five. I guess it's about the journey, not the destination.



Fun fact: Lubbock is the largest city on the Great Plains.
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Old 03-28-24, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by john m flores
Yeah, as a writer, I'm watching the evolution keenly. I've played around with it, and it produced cliche-filled, hackneyed writing. That's to be expected; drivel in, drivel out. But people using it are already flooding their blogs and stuff with it, and that's going to make it even harder to find unique and interesting voices. It's going to be harder and harder for me to get my stuff seen.

Interesting times indeed.
I agree very much with your take on it. I'm not a writer myself but I put a lot of value into writing style of what I read, and have a writer in the family, so it does bug me.
Heck, blogs and stuff are one thing, I'm pretty certain I picked up the whiff of this in a couple of ads for used bikepacking stuff, the same "sameness" tone and a few repeating key words I noticed in different ads.
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Old 03-28-24, 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by phughes
I seriously do not see the current appeal of AI. I am a geek, and I appreciate the technology for use in some industries, and have actually been reading and studying what I can about it since the '90s, but its current use online is maddening. The AI online uses all that is available online currently, without discernment. There is so much misinformation online, that works its way into the AI generated responses. It is useless. Unfortunately most people using it do not take that in consideration when using it, and take it as a more reputable source than that found elsewhere.
The world is filled with things that are worse but cheaper.
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Old 03-28-24, 10:27 PM
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Originally Posted by john m flores
The world is filled with things that are worse but cheaper.
May I borrow that for a potential signature?
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