These videos are on YouTube (for now) but may also be viewed from here.

29th annual Nevada County Food and Toy Run (12/12/20)
First annual NCFTR Outlaw Run?

Once again, weather cleared and rain stopped just in time for our annual Food and Toy Run here in Nevada County. This year, tho, the county decided those in need could go without and banned the whole event. Thom wasn't having it. Hundreds of bikers ignored the county's attempt to cancel Christmas and our ride delivered the goods to a raucous crowd.
6 min. 37 sec.

Of five cameras (not counting the iPhone), my helmet cam was the only non-functional camera this year. Seems some bonehead forgot its SD card - d'oh! Got more than enough video without it, tho. Also decided to forgo using the drone as I'm not experienced enough to be flying between trees at the fairgrounds (I believe County center is a no-fly zone). Maybe next year... ;-)

28th annual Nevada County Food and Toy Run (12/14/19)

Morning brought a last-minute mix of sunshine and clouds after a solid week of rain which might have reduced attendance a bit. Had to scramble to remove plastic covering toys and cams, but arrived at launch site with plenty of time for coffee, donuts and friends before the run. We had no clue that this might be the last Toy Run.....
7 min. 40 sec.

All six cameras were operational (for once), yielding 23.5GB of FHD video to wade thru. Flying a drone is now forbidden over county buildings and populated areas.

27th annual Nevada County Food and Toy Run (12/08/18)

Another wall-to-wall turnout this year, thanks in part to a cloudless December day. C&E Auburn V-Twin again loaned Thom a fully-loaded Indian motorcycle for the day (as they have for many years past), and it was all hands on deck for another outstanding Toy Run.
5 min. 46 sec.

Of five cameras (not counting the iPhone), my helmet cam was the only non-functional camera this year. Seems some bonehead forgot its SD card - d'oh! Got more than enough video without it, tho. Also decided to forgo using the drone as I'm not experienced enough to be flying between trees at the fairgrounds (I believe County center is a no-fly zone). Maybe next year... ;-)

26th annual Nevada County Food and Toy Run (12/09/17)

Official count this year: 1,812 motorcycles. Unofficially, most estimates top 2,000 bikes. Run founder and head honcho Thom Staser finall got some richly deserved recognition this year as NevCo Citizen of the Year. Wouldn't be Christmas without the Toy Run and all the great people who make it happen. Thank you, one and all!
7 min.

Tailcam decided to quit working at the last moment, but the others were up to the task on this warm, bright and sunny day. Couldn't ask for better weather or nicer people. Saw lots of happy kids leaving the Fairgrounds loaded with stuffed animals and bags full of toys.

25th annual Nevada County Food and Toy Run (12/10/16)

Steady rain, gusty wind, cold - not freezing cold, but enough to reduce turnout to about 10% of normal. Only dedicated riders on our Toy Run this year, and a hardy few who braved the weather to cheer us on. Didn't dampen our spirits, but rain put an end to shooting video.
30 sec.

No onboard cameras this year, only a measly handheld that somehow managed to stay dry (probably because it wasn't used but for a few seconds). Safe to say, this year was a wash.

24th annual Nevada County Food and Toy Run (12/12/15)

Day was plenty cold - bracketed by rain the day before and day after - but nothing can stop us! Another spectacular NCFTR, thanks to all involved who make it work every year, including our local law enforcement agencies, Search and Rescue, plus all those countless good-hearted volunteers.
5.25 min.

5 hours of video from 5 cams whittled down to a 5-minute flick (such as it is). 4 of the 5 cams had junk in the shot; tailcam has a corner of toy bag flapping in the frame, barcam caught a bit of my tool bag up-front, visor intrudes in helmet cam video and a zipper obscured much of the bodycam footage. Apologies for all that, we'll do better next year.

23rd annual Nevada County Food and Toy Run (12/13/14)

Impossible to stop grinning at this event, no matter who you are or where you're from. A break in the weather during the week helped produce another massive turnout and another successful run.
2.2 min.

Was a bit unprepared for this year's event, only had a single handheld cam available and went without the usual complement of mounted cams. No video during the ride, only what little was shot before and after the run, so this is a short one.

22nd Annual Nevada County Food and Toy Run (12/14/13)

Turned out to be a bright, sunny and warm December day in the northern Sierra Nevada foothills, perfect for a gathering of NorCal road warriors (and a quick test of new cams with FCPX).
5.6 min.

Two new cams with new mounts and a new hand-held (all shooting at 720p for reduced file size), plus some new editing software - with a stupendous learning curve - adds up to much better video. Gonna miss those little VGA units tho; they were lightweight, tiny and nearly foolproof.

21st Annual Nevada County Food and Toy Run (12/08/12)

Betcha didn't know Santa was a biker. Yup. Don't believe that stuff about reindeer, Santa rides a Harley and we have proof right here. Special thanks to our unknown conehead friends who unwittingly graced this year's video with style. We wish Thom a speedy recovery, too, and a big thank-you to all who make it work every year.
6.5 min.

Shot with 7 great little VGA cams producing almost 6 hours of video - 300GB o'stuff - conveniently whittled down to a 6.5-minute flick. Enjoy! Please donate to a worthy local cause: supporting Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Headstart of Nevada County.

20th Annual Nevada County Food and Toy Run (12/10/11)

This thundering Christmas tradition is a one-of-a-kind local event that should not be missed. In fact, it's inescapable if you're unlucky enough to get stuck in traffic while it's underway. Ride with us!
2 min.

First organized in 1991, Thom Staser and company created an annual event that is always a great time and the very essence of Christmas, drawing a procession of 1500-2000 motorcycles on a mission to deliver toys and food for families finding hard times here in Nevada County. Visit the NCFTR web site for info and donations:

Nevada City's 1st EVER Annual Soapbox Derby (06/18/11)

Watch death defying speed demons, fire-breathing chariots, pirate ships and misguided missiles compete for speed and style in this exclusive (one time only) nCity video short
3.25 min.
The day started with a rollover crash (top-right corner in video), but driver walked away. Gladiator entry won in style category.

Info, news and video for subsequent Soap Box Derbys may be found on the official web site:

Favorite local Nevada County Wifi hot spots:

If an old fashioned coffee shop is to your liking, the Humpty Dumpty Kitchen has been serving breakfast and lunch until 3pm every day (except holidays) since 1960. Drive thru, too (until 8pm).

11711 Nevada City Highway, just south of Brunswick Rd.

(530) 272-2251

Flour Garden

Great coffee, sandwiches and bakery goods with a relaxed atmosphere. Might even have Macs available...
Open Mon. - Sat. until 7pm, Sun until 6pm.

Main store = 999 Sutton Way, GV. (530) 272-2043

2nd store =109 Neal St., downtown GV. (530) 477-2253

Nevada County Libraries

Madelyn Helling, Grass Valley-Royce, Penn Valley Station and Truckee branches all have WiFi access using 802.11b standards (according to web data available at left).

GV Safeway #1

867 Sutton Way  Grass Valley, CA 95945
Store Phone:     530-273-2249
Store Hours:     Open daily 5:00 AM-1:00 AM

Cafe Mekka
(What, no website?!)

237 Commercial Street, Nevada City
(One block north of Broad Street, downtown.)
Gourmet coffee, beer, sandwiches and desserts
Mon. - Thurs.
8am-7pm, Fri. - Sun. 8am-midnight
(530) 478-1517

Local Macintosh User Groups:

Lake Wildwood Macintosh User Group - Meets 2nd Monday each month at 1pm, Lake Wildwood Community Center (you must call to attend).

Sierra Mousetrap - Meets 1st Monday each month, see their web site for details and directions (hasn't been updated in awhile).

Chico Apple User Group - MacCHUG meets on the 3rd Thursday each month, September thru June, Masonic Lodge in Chico.

Lincoln Hills Apple User Group - 7pm on 2nd Tuesday each month at various locations around Lincoln Hills.

Sierra Nevada Apple Users Group - Meets 2nd Wednesday each month, 7pm to 8:45pm at Denny's in Sparks, Nevada.

Apple User Groups - Find a user group near you, worldwide.

Buy local?

Thanks to all of you who call and visit the shop and express your desire to deal locally with your hometown businesses before running down the hill. Thank you!

Our ability to keep service and repair rates low is partly due to obtaining materials as needed and passing 'em along at cost. No retail sales here, only service. We offer quick turnaround and local convenience at reasonable rates, with personal attention to our clients' needs. Your best option for Mac services is right here in Nevada County.

  • A list of speed test sites appear below; each link opens in a new window.
  • Run three or more tests from different sites and record your download  speed results.
  • Note that test results may be in Kilobits (Kbps) or Megabits (Mbps). 1,000Kbps = 1Mbps
  • Record date, time and speed of each test.

  • Find the average of test results: Add all speeds, then divide by number of tests. More tests = better accuracy.
  • Test results may vary depending on load; avoid peak hours (evening), use nearest location (if given a choice) and pick an appropriate non-holiday weekday for tests.
  • Call your service provider and share your test results with them. They should be happy to hear from you. Or not.

Test results can vary considerably depending on a number of factors.

 Factors include server traffic, distance (closer = better), date and time of test, computer specs, browser and operating system, routers, switches, condition of cable/wiring, and more. For best results: Reset modem/router, clear browser cache and history, and quit all other programs before running tests. Please make sure your machine, software and network are in order and up-to-date before blaming your broadband provider for poor results.
Additional test resources:

If you have an iPod Touch, iPad or iPhone, search the App Store for "speed test" and you'll find a variety of bandwidth test apps from Cisco, Xtreme Labs and others. These may be the quickest, easiest and most accurate way to test any broadband connection. Sites listed below are for computer use, sorted (roughly, given the constant flux) by accuracy and ease of use.

WARNING: Avoid any/all BIG GREEN buttons on these (and other) web sites, they lead to garbage and malware. DO NOT download.
Accurate test sites:

Verizon Speed Test
DSL Reports

Windows User Group (WUGNET)
CNET Networks Bandwidth Meter

Bandwidth Place Speed Test

Entertaining test sites:

Comcast Speedtest


ATT Yahoo

Some ISPs have an initial speed "boost" that may skew results for a few seconds, and certain older browser/OS combinations can also distort speed tests. If you're not up to running speed tests, watching the fine print during a download in real time can tell you a lot about your bandwidth, too:

The legal definition of broadband was originally [anything over] "200Kbps in one direction," which means this dismal Comcast connection @ 173Kbps cannot legally be called broadband even by the _old_ definition. In 2010 the FCC redefined broadband as a minimum of 3Mbps downstream (inbound) and 1Mbps upstream. Are you getting true broadband from your ISP (3Mbps+)?

56,000 bits per second. 
Theoretical maximum for analog data transmission over landline, actual max is 54K.
Planning to use dialup? (Really?!) You'll need a V.92/56K modem.

1,500,000 bits per second = 1.5 Megabit/second (1.5Mbps).

Think of 1.5 as the new dialup speed. 1.5Mbps is too slow to stream video (2.5 = min.) and takes hours to download files of any size.

3,000,000 bits per second = 3 Megabit/second (3Mbps).

Minimum bandwidth defined as broadband, 2.5-3Mbps is typical DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) around here, just enough to stream video. ATT offers tiered rates according to services available at your location, so it's good to know your top speed before subscribing. Ask 'em to test your line.

6,000,000 bits per second (6Mbps).

Maximum for DSL is 6Mbps. ISPs happily charge for speeds they cannot deliver, which is why speed tests are necessary. Satellite providers have additional factors impacting data transmission (latency and weather), but at least they're honest about it.

Fiber Optic = speed of light.
The ultimate broadband transmission method, Fiber Optic lines carry light pulses instead of electronic signals for the fastest possible data speed.

  Broadband Service Providers in Nevada County: has a comprehensive list of the major wired and wireless providers with coverage info, price, customer ratings and some interesting statistics along the way. (Link posted here leads to Grass Valley, but you can enter any zip code). Some smaller providers may be missing tho - like Spiral (DSL).

  • Spiral DSL is a local, full service ISP, and a much better choice than dealing with ATT directly. (Why? see their web site.)
  • ATT DSL? Best to do an end-run thru Spiral, above. Uverse includes data caps, per-device charges and other excessive charges.
  • Comcast cable Waaay overpriced, dismal customer service, Xfinity has same data and device caps as ATT. Odd coincidence, huh.
  • Hughes net satellite broadband covers much of Nevada County.
  • WildBlue satellite services also covers some of Nevada County as well as Downeyville and outlying areas.
  • Smarter Broadband uses line-of-sight (microwave) repeaters to "fixed wireless" access points. Good choice if DSL and satellite options are unavailable.
  • DigitalPath offers unlimited fixed-wireless service at speeds suitable for streaming video (they claim). More info is also available from Spiral.
  • Suddenlink covers Colfax, Auburn, and provides south-county services. Also uses repeaters for those who cannot access other options.
  • Dish Network? See below...

Dish Network and FlexTV:
Actually, there's no such thing as "FlexTV" - that was a bait-and-switch mail scam from Dish Network awhile back - one reason why we don't recommend Dish for internet service. But, if you must use Dish, be sure you only deal with Gold Country Satellite. Note: GCS web site may be down temporarily...

Fiber optic (finally) coming to Nevada County?
Yes - and no. Empty underground conduit was installed all over Nevada County by CalTrans awhile back, but it may never be used. Meanwhile, Spiral Internet obtained grant funding for "last mile" connections in Nevada County and work is underway. Stay tuned.....