Adventures with Garmin

I purchased a very expensive Garmin GPS watch(Garmin Forerunner 910XT) near the end of April 2012.  The reason I purchased was because the device was waterproof and could be utilized for running, biking AND SWIMMING.
After my first swim with the watch (2 weeks after purchase), it filled with water. (http://flic.kr/s/aHsjzdT13f).  Thus my adventures with Garmin support begins.
I first eamiled Garmin support and waited.  After 24 hrs with no response other than the automated receipt of issue, I called Garmin phone support and got a RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) but had to ship them the device before they would send the replacement.  A process of WEEKS!  I only had the watch for 2 weeks and now I would be without for 2 weeks. At what I paid for it, I was not happy and told them this. I use it almost everyday and sold my old Garmin Forerunner (now evaluating the Garmin Fit iPhone App).  Garmin did send me a UPS shipping label by email.
The same day I tweeted the pictures on Twitter regarding the watch failure and was contacted by their "Social Support" team (@Garmin) to see if they could help.  I let them know that I had already called phone support and was getting the exchange but was dissatisfied with the amount of time this would take.  Social Support stated a way I could get it quicker and they could do it.  I emailed them and said OK, lets do it.  Then silence. 24 hours or more until they emailed me asking for a time to call me.  I guess I get one email a day.  That is the limit.
Ugh, what should have been done at FIRST CONTACT is taking days to complete and if Social Support would only email me once a day, this would take another week to complete.  Again, back to why I was not happy.  These guys work at the slowest pace possible.  Even when they are trying to fix the problem of taking to much time.  I am getting dizzy.
So once again I called phone support to speed things up.  They stated they do not offer the opportunity to send a replacement first unless the person contacting asks or complains.  I did state originally when I called Garmin I was not happy with the 2 week turnaround.  I guess that does not count as complaining.  The support person seemed not happy that the Social Support told me of this option.  They took my info and said a new Shipping label will be sent to me and the replacement watch will be sent out within a day or two.
We shall see............
Stay tuned.

Best Burger in Orlando Area

Everyone has their own version of what they think is a perfect burger.  Mine is from my own grill.  But what you like is probably different that what I like.  

But what is there in Orlando regarding great burgers?  To me, a great burger is a thick burger, fresh made buns, flame grilled or flat top makes no difference, fresh greens and good cheese. 

Bacon never hurts.

Here are a list of the places that have potential and as I visit and eat, I will update on how good the burger was to me.

1 burger is poor and 5 burgers is excellent.

Order of top 4 so far: 1. Graffiti Junktion, 2. Fiddler's Green, 3. Crooked Spoon, 4. Pine Twenty2, 5. B&B Junction

Battle of the Inbox

I am primarily an Apple and Gmail user with some other email accounts with my own domains and Yahoo mail.  But 90% of my time is within Gmail via the web, so the focus of these reviews and recommendations are from a Gmail centric life within Mac OS X, but native on the desktop vs. the web.  Currently the three primary alternatives to the native Mail client  in OS X for those that use Gmail is Mailplane, Sparrow and Postbox.

Going into this, my thinking was that they would all 3 be similar, and I could  not have been more wrong.  Each are distinct from the other and come at the solution from a different angle.  So in no particular order:

sparrow  

Sparrow was an easy set-up, just asking for my Gmail credentials.   A negative right off the bat is It asks for your Facebook login to integrate and pull profile pictures and only allows you to either do it, or say to do it later.  It does not allow you to say “never ask again”.   Really?

The look of the client is very Twitter-like and pleasing to the eye, both running full screen or not.  I like how it manages the labels from Gmail, as I use them extensively.  Unfortunately the app likes to always download images for every message and I could not find a way to turn that off, even though I have Gmail set up to not do so due to security.  But the usability is simple, fun and unique that you will feel comfortable with if you use other social/Twitter client apps.

While downloading, be sure to click on Activities to watch what Sparrow is doing in the background.  I liked that feature a lot.  Maybe because I am a nerd.

Sparrow also integrates with Cloudapp so you send links instead of files which is nice if you use Cloudapp.  It does have IMAP abilities for the paid version.  The lite version will have ads, but the paid does not.and only costs $9.95, the cheapest of the three clients.  3half

postbox

Postbox looks to be an updated version of a more traditional full featured email client.  It does integrate directly with Gmail, but also adds the IMAP capabilities as well as Newsgroups and RSS feeds.  It has integration not only with Facebook, but LinkedIn and Gravatar for your profile pictures.  But unlike Sparrow, it was simple to select the “No Thanks” option.

It also integrates Social by allowing you to update your status on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.  It also had additional add-ons you can get from the Postbox website.

The interface is a familiar email client interface with a lot of options (choose between color or the Lion icons) and layouts.  It has both a Mac and Windows client and is simple to understand, yet powerful enough to personalize for your workflow.  If you currently use a traditional email client, you may want to check this one out and compare.

Also unlike Sparrow, it did not download images in my email messages which is important to me.  The settings for controlling your email are very robust vs. the other clients in this review.

Compared to all the extras you get with Postbox vs. Sparrow, it is not surprisingly priced similar to other full featured email clients at $29.95.  4half

mailplane

Mailplane is the third client and is basically the web-based Gmail with an additional Toolbar and extras.  So it also has most all of the web-based features such as G-talk integration and the Google toolbar along the top to have access to your other Google services.  It also does not download images since it seems to just be your web-based Gmail in an app.

It does hide the ads which may be the best feature vs. the actual web-based Gmail, but overall it seemed to just be a browser running Gmail with some extra add-ons.

And for $24.95 I have to say “really?”.  Really?  Especially when compared to Sparrow. 1half

So what is my recommendation?  As much as I want to say Sparrow due to it’s interface and new way of using email, I am going to say Postbox due to the strong options and abilities it provides beyond the basics.  However, if you want to do away with the more traditional email client, Sparrow would be a good choice.

Deathstalker Space Opera

Back in the 1990's I read the Deathstalker series by Simon R Green.  There is also a prequel series and a sequel series as well. 

It is a classic Space Opera that takes place in a vast Empire led by a evil Empress with lots of different aliens. It is one of the most entertaining scifi series I have ever read.  It is not a serious Science Fiction series, but taking the best of space opera to the extreme.  It starts fast and never slows down.  Each character is larger than life with unbelievable battle skills. 

What makes it perfect sword and laser is that the the "laser" guns are powered by energy cells that need 2 mins to recharge (why is discussed in first book).  So one shot then you must fight with swords.  But this is only the beginning.

deathstalkerseries  

There are 3 types of enhanced soldiers (Wolflings (part man/part wolf), Haden Men (Cyborgs) and Dead humans with artificial blood (not zombies), large starships & space battles, Clones, ELF's (ESP'er Liberation Front), battle drugs, deadly aliens, deadly plants, deadly planets, a deadly Arena, and it goes on and on and on and on.  I can not express enough the insanity of this series.  It is so much fun!

I suggest starting with the Deathstalker series first, and then if you want some more background on a few characters, read the prequels.  And if you still love it and can't get enough (like me), then read the sequel series.

Prequel Series Twilight of the Empire:
    Mistworld (1992)
    Ghostworld (1993)
    Hellworld (1993)


Deathstalker Series:
    Deathstalker (1995)
    Deathstalker Rebellion (1996)
    Deathstalker War (1997)
    Deathstalker Honour (1998)
    Deathstalker Destiny (1999)


Sequel Series:
    Deathstalker Legacy (2002)
    Deathstalker Return (2004)
    Deathstalker Coda (2005)

Once you have read the series, yes, the name of my website is taken from these books.  Have fun!

Resize Boot Camp Windows Partition

On my MacBook Air, I installed Windows 7 via Boot Camp in a 36GB partition which I have filled quickly.  I wanted to increase the partition size to 50GB if possible, but without having to completely wiping, repartitioning, and reinstalling Windows.  How do I do this?

Note: Before trying anything, be sure both partitions are fully backed up!

My first thought was via Disk Utility, in which it allowed me to shrink the OS X partition which creates a 3rd partition in order to increase the Windows partition, but Disk Utility would not allow me to increase the Windows partition.  So I booted into Windows and via Disk Management, tried to extend the Windows partition to the newly made empty partition, but it would not allow as well.

So I went online to see what others have done.  The vast majority used a Mac program called WinClone that clones Windows and then through wiping and repartitioning, to restore Windows on the new increased partition.  Winclone Actual success with this process looked 50-50 based upon what I read, and WinClone is no longer supported and does not work with OS X Lion.  A modified version of WinClone to work with Lion was available, but it did not look stable enough based upon comments by users.

My Next search looked for actual programs that could resize a Boot Camp partition and was led to an application called CampTune by Paragon Software.  It does cost $19.95, so the you have to weigh the “cost vs. effort” to determine if you want to purchase.  You also have to recognize that even this software may not work and you could end up reinstalling both OS X Lion and Windows 7 in new partitions if something goes wrong.

create-partition-for-windows

What this software does, is create a Start Up CD/DVD with a minimal copy of Windows and their Software utility which gives you some options to Install Windows, backup, restore, resize partitions and other tools.   I resized my Windows partition to 50GB, it went through the process in about 20 minutes.  I rebooted into OS X to be sure that partition was still working correctly.  I checked in Disk Utility and indeed the partition for OS X was now 68GB and the Windows partition was 52GB.

I then rebooted into Windows without issue.  Checked in Disk Management and it was now showing 49GB as the Windows partition.  Interesting how each OS gives me slightly different sizes.  I am satisfied and all is working as advertised.  Impressed at how easy it all worked using CampTune.  I do recommend.

The Omen Machine

Warning: Some spoilers

I have read all of the Sword of Truth books by Terry Goodkind as they have been released and was pleasantly surprised that a new book continuing the adventures of Richard and Kahlan was to be released.  I felt the series ended very well in the last book Confessor and felt it complete.  I have to say that after reading the new book The Omen Machine, I still feel the same.  It should have stopped.

 

I am not sure what specifically about this book that led me to feel this way.  My favorite characters are all back, but they seemed changed.  Is it that I am remembering them in a different light?  I do not know, but found myself thinking during the reading that I just want to get it done and over with.
The power of the previous books was the grandness of it all, the adventure, the travel, the new and exciting twists and turns and here in The Omen Machine you feel stuck in one place with a bunch of stupid characters.  Not stupid as in useless, but stupid as in brainless.  And the most sad is Zed.  He is reduced to either not believing what Richard says or repeating what Richard says back to Richard.  A smart, powerful character minimized to a shadow of who he use to be.  Everytime Zed spoke, my eyes rolled in my head.  Sad.
Another disappointment is that with 11 previous books, that there would be some reference to the experiences in which they have had to make decisions now.  We are but products of our past experiences.  However, it is like the previous adventures did not happen other than the "war is over".  With all that has happened to them previously, why would they ever not take something seriously, especially if they have a "feeling".  And all the conversations of doubt was mind numbing.  And it was really strange that the whole affair with Kahlan forgetting all and the aftermath of what happened in the 3 Chainfire series are not even hinted at.  This book takes place right after those books!  It is like it never happened to Kahlan.  
Overall I feel let down.  I will continue to read the series, but the excitement and grandness has been lost.
I gave The Omen Machine 3 stars on Goodreads.

 

 

Ice, Fire and Dragons (with Spoilers)

Beware, spoilers ahead!

Adwd1
I read the George RR Martin's first 4 books of A Song of Ice and Fire as they were published, so it has been a long time since I have even thought of the books since the last book was released/read in 2005.  Not until both the new HBO series and news of the next book in the series (A Dance With Dragons) being released had me thinking once again about the Stark's and the Lannister's. Strange that I think of the series as the "Starks and the Lannister's" as they may have been the focus in the first book or two, but no longer.


My memory was a bit shady as the books are extensive and the number of characters is mind numbing, but I did remember the first book pretty well, Bran's fall, Jon Snow going to the Wall, and of course, Eddard's death.  But somewhere between the years and other 3 books, my brain added stories and lost some stories since 2005.  For some reason I thought Jon Snow left the Wall in search of his real mother in Dorne and that Lady Melisandre died by fire.  Those that have read the first four books obviously know neither are true, but somehow these crawled into my brain and remembrance from those books. Strange what the mind remembers and what it makes up.


So I decided to take a dive back into the series both to prepare for the TV show and the new book.  My avenue was to re-read via Audible books all four books before A Dance With Dragons was to be released in July.  Unfortunately, I did not take into account how many hours each book would be.   I fiinished the first book by the start of the TV show in April 2011 and the second book by the release of A Dance with Dragons, both of which books I seemed to remember the most accurately.   It was obvious that the 3rd and 4th books are the ones I was having trouble with (besides remembering the the Red Wedding) which is interesting since they are the most recent books.  One would think it would have been the other way around, that I remember the early books, but not the recent books.  That may say something about this series.

Asoiaf

Therefore I went to the web to find chapter by chapter synopsis of both A Storm of Swords and A Feast of Crows (I have since found a more detailed chapter by chapter synopsis).  While reading these summerized versions of each chapter, the "what has gone before" slowly returned, as well as the "why" I could not remember.  Less so for A Storm of Swords, A Feast of Crows was just not engaging to me.  I was not emotionally attached to most of these characters therefore not feeling connected with the decisions that the characters were making or the caring about the outcomes.  And I was missing so much of the other characters not included that are my favorites.

Adwd2Thus the newly released A Dance of Dragons would by my savior.  More of Daenerys whom I loved more as the series progressed, Tyrion and his honesty(yes, I said honesty), Jon at the Wall (I just can't get enough of this!),  and my favorite character of all, Arya.  Please, no Sansa (I just can't comprehend her) I prayed.


Now that I have finished A Dance of Dragons, did it re-ignite what I felt with A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings?  Or was it just a continuance of the A Feast of Crows and monotony of bad characters making stupid decisions and the ramifications of such (ie. Cersei).

Adwd3<sarcasm>

First, Let's focus on the title "A Dance of Dragons". I do not remember any dragon dancing but I do remember:

  • Theon is George RR Martins Bitch
  • The Taming of Daenerys
  • The Misadventures of Tyrion
  • The Fat Men Across the Narrow Sea
  • Weddings-R-Us (with more to come!)
  • The Storm of Lost Ships
  • The Knives at Night

</sarcasm>

Now on the book itself, what I immediately liked was the book began right after A Storm of Swords and caught up to the A Feast of Crows about two-thirds of the way through the book.  This may confuse some people and finding some of the earlier stories from a different perspective a bit confusing.  I enjoyed it as it went back to a time in the story that I was still somewhat engaged with the characters and this portion of the book really focused on the the big 3 (Daenerys, Jon and Tyrion). Please note, I realize that any criticisms coming may in fact be wrong as I do not know the future of the story.  All my opinions are based upon the books to date.


Cersei returns at the convergence point, but please George, just put her out of her misery.  She has become a characature of herself that I no longer care about in any way. Am I to have some emotion or connection with her now that she is humiliated and weak? I do not care about her any longer, or have cared for about 3 books.  This may be just me.


The emergence of long 'lost/supposed dead' characters that have not been in the series at all previously seems a way to make changes the "easy" way.  Although in most cases I did like the new characters, a part of me could not help but feel a bit let down.  It seems like the process is to kill off the old characters and bring in new to advance the story.  Fine.  I guess that is real life.  I just don't read fantasy for real life.  Unfortunately, the story did not reveal anything that I wanted revealed, and only left more threads unsolved with more mysteries.  The forums are ripe with peoples predictions and who they think is Jon's parents, Tyrion's parents, etc…


My favorite characters:

  • Jon - Although there was a good portion dedicated to Jon, not much moved or changed of significance that I did not expect other than the final scene.
  • Daenerys - All I can say is that she was the focus, even in other POV chapters, and her strength was taken from her and made weak in this book.  Made me sad.
  • Tyrion - I think everything but death happened to him during his romp across the narrow sea.  He was fun to follow, but it seemed like he did move forward in character, but in significance to story.
  • Arya - although she only had a few chapters, I was rivited.  I want a book of nothing but her story!  I am on the edge of my seat anticipating how her story will develop.
  • And thank you for a very little of Sansa.


In the prologue, bringing Varys back and exposing his spiders may be the only real reveal in the book.  Makes me wonder when Arya will join them.


I could give my thoughts a feelings chapter by chapter, but this blog post has gone on long enough.   To sum it up, I did give it 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, mostly because it reignited my love for the series, even with its weaknesses.  I look forward to the second series on HBO and the sixth book.  I must have an ending…. Even if it is in ice or fire.

My Weight Loss Experience

Wow, it has been a long time since I wrote a blog post.  Such is life in the world of Twitter, Foursquare, etc…

I have many weight and diet stories I could share, but will focus on the last 13-14 months since in that time I have lost 30 lbs, gained 20 lbs, and as of last week, lost 11.5 lbs.
This journey started at the end of December 2009 when I finally received my fitbit.  I was weighing in around 245, the largest I have ever been and was going to get serious about loosing weight.  So started immediately on my diet by doing what I know best: Eat better and less, exercise more.  I will call this the “starve and sweat” diet.   I tracked everything I ate and every bit of exercise using the fitbit website/application

fitbit

Over the next 4-5 months, I limited myself to under 1500 calories while burning over 3000 calories.  My exercise routine went from just weights 3-4 mornings a week, to adding about 15 miles of running and 10 miles of biking a week.  During this time I lost 30 lbs. and maintained that weight loss by running and biking more until mid September 2010.  That was when I injured my Achilles tendon and running/biking became impossible.
After a couple of weeks, the Achilles was not getting any better so I finally went to the doctor and said I must get back to running ASAP.  I started rehab near the end of October

 

Another day, another week, same old therapy.  on Twitpic

and by the beginning of December was back to running - except 20 lbs heavier than I was in September.  So back to the “starve and sweat” diet.  and through the beginning of February 2011 I have lost 11 of the 20 lbs.  Then I came across and read the book by Gary Taubes “Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It” (was an Audible.com pick on the podcast Windows Weekly).  To summarize, he suggests that getting fat has nothing to do with calories in/calories out, but what you eat.  Today’s obesity epidemic is due to the large quantities of easily digestible and cheap carbohydrates.  He uses the science of fat cells as the basis that our fat, just like our height, is determined by genes and hormones.  For the fat cell this is insulin.  Calories, Fat and other supposed causes of excess fat have no interaction with our fat, but insulin production and sugars have direct impact.  Thus refined and easily digestible carbohydrates that turn to sugar causes triglycerides in our fat cells to get to large so that they just store fat.  Mr. Taubes shows how science proves this and that you can eat all you like and still get lean as long as you are not eating these carbohydrates.  This has been known for over 100 years scientifically but in the 1960’s obesity turned to a physiological issue that we are just lazy and eat to much.  There is so much good stuff in this book that will make you think, agree, question, etc… that I could spend 100 blog posts explaining.  My success at recent weight loss according to this book is due to my “starve” part of my diet since I am limiting these bad carbs/sugar.  Of course, no one believes me when I explain this, so I will let you read the book yourself, but will provide my experience of trying this change in food consumption on me.

So what am I doing?  Well I have changed from a calorie limited intake to a carbohydrate & sugar limited intake.  Less concerned with calorie intake or the amount of food.  Will continue the “sweat” portion of my diet. 

Before starting the carb and sugar free diet, I was averaging 1.4 lbs loss per week.

Week 1 results: Removed any potatoes, pasta, rice, high-carb cereals, and most “sugars”. Maintained lower calorie intake.  Lost 4 lbs. (wow!)

Week 2 results: Changed to eating a lot of Chicken, beef, eggs, cheese, salads & nuts.  Increased total overall calorie intake, so no more “starve” in diet. Lost 3/4 of a lb..

I will update here as I go.  Preliminary thoughts are to combine my “starve & sweat” with “no carbs/sugar & sweat” to loose the weight fast, then switch to “no carbs/sugar & sweat” to maintain.  But before doing that, I will see if I can loose the weight with the “no carbs/sugar & sweat” with the higher calorie intake.

For the “sweat” part, you can follow my progress at either fitbit.com for steps and calories burned; at dailymile.com for my running.

My New Life with Microsoft OneNote

I know I am a late comer to Microsoft OneNote, and I can not say what has taken me so long.  Regardless, I do use it everyday now and wish I could also use on my Macbook Pro, iPhone & iPad.  But alas, no.

 

So I focus on my work life, since it is Windows based.  I keep all of my "Notebooks" on a network drive so that no matter which Windows computer I use, I have access to all my Notebooks.  And since it keeps a local copy, even if I have no network, I can still use.  And to be a little meta, I am writing this blog post in OneNote.   Integrate Windows Live Writer and it would be just that much better.



For work and business purposes, note taking during meetings is taken to a new level.  The ability to Tag enhances my workflow so much, I wonder how I lived without it.

 

 

It is very well integrated with Microsoft Office, especially Outlook.  It allows inserting and attaching supporting documents, pictures, audio, video, screen captures, etc… with each note.  You can also share the notebooks via SharePoint for collaboration purposes. 

 

My current "Notebooks" are Meetings, Personal, Projects, Conventions, Acquisitions, and HRIS.  I can drag and drop stuff from one Notebook to another.  Link items between them and add shortcuts.

 

As stated earlier, there is no real multi-platform analog that I have found.  Evernote is what comes to mind for most people, and is similar in many ways and is very workable. 

 

 

I use it, and I know people who rely on it as much as I rely on OneNote.  My perspective of Evernote is more a repository of miscellaneous stuff, pdfs, scans, receipts, etc… more a way to organize a junk pile than a productivity powerhouse.  I can only pray somehow Evernote will become OneNote compatible.  Not sure if Microsoft will allow such a thing, but the ability to use Evernote on my iPhone and have the info show up in OneNote could be a great solution.  Evernote does allow for a OneNote2007 import, but I am using 2010 and would miss to many of the OneNote features to use Evernote exclusively.  Maybe I will give it a try just to see…

 

Stay tuned for possible follow-up.

Share LicenseKeeper Database with Multiple Computers

I use OuterLevel’s LicenseKeeper application to store and manage all of my software licenses for all of my Macs (Macbook Pro, MacMini, and iMac).  Since I have the Family 5-pack license, I want to be able to have one shared database so I have all of the licenses available on each computer.  Unfortunately, unlike 1Password, this is not built into the application.  As usual, Dropbox to the rescue.

Although LicenseKeeper is not set up to share a database, there is a way to move it  to your Dropbox folder and make sure LicenseKeeper is pointing to it on each Mac.  I will give the directions for doing so on two computers (my MacBook Pro and MacMini).

Once LicenseKeeper is installed on one computer and your database is complete with all of your licenses, you will need to launch Terminal and use the following commands (note, this is from my MacBook Pro):


Now that the LicenseKeeper database has been moved to the Dropbox location and is being used on my MacBook Pro, I make backup copy of the LicenseKeeper folder in Dropbox, then I delete the original so I can go through the same process on my Mac Mini.  So I once again go through the exact same process on the MacMini as I did on the MacBook Pro, moving the empty LicenseKeeper app database to the Dropbox location.

Once this is done on the MacMini, I then overwrite the LicenseKeeper Database that was created and linked in Dropbox with the back up I made from the full database backup I made from the MacBook Pro procedure.

Now both the MacBook Pro and the MacMini are looking at the same Dropbox  LicenseKeeper folder for the full database.  Problem solved.

Why Book Publishers are Morons

Yesterday was supposed to be a great day.  My favorite author, Alastair Reynolds, new book "Terminal World" was released.   I hopped onto the internets and searched for the eBook on Amazon.com, B&N.com, Borders.com, eReader.com, etc... trying to find to purchase and read.  Please, someone, take my money!  But everysite only had the hardback version.

My next stop was Google.  I searched and what did I find?  The third listing showed it at Amazon.

And 3 of the top 7 results are for Torrents!  When I went to the Amazon listing, I got the following:

 Good job publishers.  I am one of the authors biggest fans, will pay whatever is asked for the novel in eBook form, it is available in other countries, but not the US, and my only recourse is BITTORRENT!  Fine, don't take my money.  Morons.

Diet Update (Day 133) & New Gadgets

Day 133 and I am currently at 26.2 lbs lost.  I have been hovering around –26 & –27 for about 2 weeks now.  I have kinda slowed down :( on the weight loss.  But the big news are the new gagdets I am using in my “lifestyle change”.

I have mentioned the Fitbit in earlier posts and I still wear it everyday and night.  However, I have stopped entering all the food I consume.  It was good for 3-4 months to do, so I could learn and understand what and how much I was eating.  It taught me a lot regarding, but is a lot of work to maintain when I leveled off regarding my calories and diet.

Now the new stuff.  Since I have been running more, I added the Garmin Forerunner 405CX.

 

You can follow the me and the data on the Garmin website if you have access or via my DailyMile account.

I have also added a Tanita InnerScan Body Composition Monitor scale which not only gives me my weight, but also Body Fat %, Body Water %, Muscle Mass and Visceral Fat.  My latest results for each are:

  • Body Fat % 15.8%
  • Body Water % 55.0%
  • Muscle Mass 173 lbs
  • Visceral Fat 7 

Overall still on track for my goal by the end of June.  Yes!



Diet Update (Day 105)

No video today.  Still trying out different providers to post video content.  None have risen above the rest yet.  Anyway, thought I should at least write about the status of my diet since it has been awhile.

Today was weigh in day (usually Tuesdays or Wednesdays) and so far, I have lost 25.2 lbs!  At 105 days, it feel like some type of milestone.  I am only 5lbs away from my first target and 15lbs from my stretch goal.

No magic formula for my weight loss, just eating smaller portions that are healthy and increasing excercise (see my DailyMile widget on right).  I have leveled off at about 3000 calories burned each day and 1700 calories eaten. I no longer am tracking what I eat (that was a lot of work!) as I feel I know what I can and can not eat and how much.

Stay tuned.

My Favorite Holiday

When people ask me what my favorite holiday of the year is, I always answer “St. Patrick’s Day”!  I usually get a strange look and the question “are you Irish?”.  Well, no I am not.  I am mostly of Scottish and English heritage.  But not only does St. Patrick’s Day provide another legitimate reason to wear my kilt, it is a day I take off work every year and celebrate all day (vs night when you can’t get in anywhere).

Lisa & I on St. Patrick's Day 2009

Why St. Patrick’s Day?  For many reasons which include that it is the only day of the year (well maybe New Years) where everyone, stranger and alike, are friends and family.  Yet, it is not a holiday in which it is required to spend with friends and/or family.  Nor do you have the burden of gifts, cooking, traveling (unless you are going to Savannah, Boston or Chicago – the best St. Patrick’s Day cities in my opinion).

Lisa on St. Patrick's Day 2009

I start St. Patrick’s day with a Irish breakfast at the Irish Pub & Restaurant right by my house, and move on from there.  I think I counted in the Orlando area at least 25 Irish Pubs & Restaurants, so the day is full moving from one to another and meeting new friends!  This year my wife has the day off as well so she will be joining me.  I hope this becomes a holiday tradition for her as well as she does have Irish heritage!

 

St. Patrick’s Day blessing opun you!

Slainte.

Note Taking Applications

As part of my ongoing attempts at organization for life and work, I have tried to tackle To-Do List (see prior post from December 2008) and am now reviewing note taking applications, some of which also contain To-Do abilities.

The initial list of contenders I chose are:

My needs for this are an easy to use application no matter what computer I am using (Windows, Mac, Linux), not matter where I am, is secure, easy to manage the content, fast to access, and pleasing to the eye.  I do not necessarily need an application that installs on all clients, thus the cloud applications I have selected above, although Evernote does provide an native client.

 

evernote

Evernote is the most well known of the online note taking applications.  Notes are only the beginning of what Evernote can do.  It is a place for all of your ideas you come up with, things you like with access from any device you use.  Capture and Organize everything is Evernote’s rule.  It may be the only application in this that recognizes and indexes images and PDF’s.

Visually, Evernote is very mature and provides the ability to create notebooks for different needs.  You can keep everything private or you can share specific items & notebooks.  Tagging is key to Evernote  and successfully utilizing all of it’s potential.

Evernote restricts by the amount you may upload per month for free (40 MB).  You can add via Evernote plug-in for both IE and Firefox, emailing to a private email address they assign,  importing from Google Notebook, and via Twitter.

There is also a $5 month premium account that adds SSL transfers, priority image recognition, no ads, monthly upload to 500MB, access to notebooks offline for iPhone and iPod Touch users, and more.

Evernote also provides downloads for Windows, Mac, iPhone+iPod Touch, Android, Palm Pre, Windows Mobile and Blackberry.  All devices will sync and work together with one account (if you have that many phones and computers).

My only complaint is that my workflow and Evernote’s seem to not mesh well.  Thus the Evernote interface is not intuitive for my purposes for me.  I have been trying to use Evernote for over a year and it has just not caught on for me yet.

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mynoteit

 

MyNoteit is an interesting application.  It is also a free offering, but does have Google Ads included on the pages.  It is set up specifically for those that are in school as it has Courses and Assignments by default.  They provide external links regarding Term Papers and Learning Management Software.  The site did render a bit slower than expected and the interface is not as intuitive as I would like.  It does provide a to-do list along with the note taking, assignments and bookmarks.  Messaging also looks to be within the MyNoteit environment to help with groups and collaboration.  I did not see anything regarding a storage cap.

Overall, MyNoteit does not look to be the best product for my needs, but may be good for students in school, especially if they are working in teams and like to share assignments.

2half

 

ubernote

UberNote reminds me of Evernote.   It seems to be a direct competitor, using much of the same types of interaction.  There is a Firefox toolbar you can install that allows clipping and bookmlarking, as well as, UberClip which adds entire web pages directly into UberNote.  There is also a Netvibes widget, iGoogle gadget and user specific email address you can send items directly to your UberNote. Other methods of getting info into UberNote includes Twitter and importing of your Google Notebook and exporting to a an HTML backup.

Similar to Evernote, tagging is a big componant of UberNote and it also provides a task management section.  There is a mobile version that you can use on your smartphone as well.  They are working on a premium version that will provide more file space (can not find how much they give you now), secure connections and encrypted notes.  Overall I like what I see in UberNote, but am unsure if it would replace Evernote for me.

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springnote

Springnote allows you to login using OpenID if you so desire.  Springnote provides a very clean interface, dashboard and 2GB for free.  You can have both Personal Notebooks as well as Group Notebooks for collaboration.  Springnote is interesting as it is based upon wiki technology.   When creating a Personal Notebook, Springnote creates a Bookshelf, Meeting Notes, Monthly Calendar, Monthly Schedule, Personal Profile, To Do List and Web Clippings by default.  You can create your own pages as well.   Bookshelf is an interesting addition for me as I am an avid reader.  You also have an Inbox and Comments section, both of which look to only be for within Springnote environment.  Within the setting section, you can turn off comments if you have a public page, back up your full notebook and change your profile image.  Exporting to your blog can also be configured here and they identify Typepad, Moveabletype, WordPress, and Blogger.   I run my blog on SquareSpace and it set up without issue.  They also have a plug-in page wiht all plug-ins developed by Springnote and not the community.  They also have what they call “Mashups” which include an iPhone App, a Messenger bot which allows you to add to your Springnote via Googletalk and MSN.  It uses XHTML and has Open API.  There is also an Open Source project for the Springnote editor at Xquared.

Overall I am very impressed with Springnote and can actually see myself using.  I looks like it could replace a number of specific apps I currently use.  All I would need is a paid version with more storage as well as secure usage.

4

 

google

Google Notebook was abandon by Google (stopped development and no new users), but if you are in the Google world already you may want to check it out.  It provides you with a barebones notebook application.  Similar to other Google applications, they make it simple.  You can creates different notebooks, use labels similar to tagging, and share for collaboration.

You may find Google Documents a better experience if you want stronger collaboration and tools. 

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fruitnotes

I can tell just from the logo, FruitNotes is very Web 1.0.  Not going to be high on the design and visual appeal.  But how is it to actually work in?  What it provides that is unique is the ability to record phone voice notes.  It provides you with a US or UK phone number to do so.  You can also upload photo and videos and tag your notes.

You can share your notes or publish to “your” blog.  However, “your” blog is a blog on their site and not really “your” blog.

What is amazing is that this is “beta” and the footer of every page says “2007 FruitNotes.com”

I struggle with this one.  It just never looks right on the screen, the fonts are awful, calendar seems to be from 1995 Microsoft Access.  Not for me.

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notefish

Notefish tagline says “Revolutionize your Web Research”.  You save information you find on the web into a Notefish page for organizing and/or sharing.  Similar to Google Notebook, Notefish has a simple interface with little advanced organization available.  You can color code your notes and tag notes. 

Plug-ins are available for both Internet Explorer (Windows only) and Firefox.  Very simple, very plain.

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zoho 

Zoho Notebook is apart of the Zoho office products which includes Zoho Writer, Zoho Sheet, Zoho Show, Zoho Wiki, and others.  You can sign up using your Google Account, Google Apps Account, Yahoo or Facebook. 

If you use any or all of the Zoho applications, it is well integrated and easy to switch between them.  They do provide plugins for both Firefox and Chrome and the ability to import your Google Notebook.  Zoho Notebook is the most like an application that happens to be online.  You can add new notebooks, spreadsheet pages, writer pages, web pages and others to notebooks.  It supports images, audio, video, RSS, etc… as well.  You choose which notebooks you share.  It is really focused on content creation more than the other notebooks reviewed here.

The forums for users look to be robust.  They are working on a mobile version, but none yet.  My big issue is the lack of subfolders for how my brain organizes.  It also does not have some of the advanced features from Evernote like OCR nor does it have task lists like Springnote.

And have I mentioned the Skype integration?  Yes, it has this.

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Let me know if you are using something I missed and I will check it out and update this post!

Why I hate & Love eBooks

I love the idea of eBooks.  I have been an eBook reader for years since I had Microsoft Reader on my iPaq.  Now I have a Kindle and iPhone and this means I have more books to read than I really can handle.  But there is another dark side to eBooks beyond the quantity…. DRM. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_e-book_formats

My first choice right now is to buy a Kindle book so that I can read and sync on both the Kindle and the Kindle app on my iPhone or even a computer. 

kindle

Unfortunately, no all the books I like to read are on the Kindle.  Some are free and although can be sent to my Kindle, they can not be shared and synced with my other Kindle devices.  Also are books that I get at other eBook stores in which require their own eBook reader.  Thus I currently have 3 eBook readers on my iPhone.

ebookreaders

Stanza – For free and open eBooks (http://www.lexcycle.com/supported-formats)

Kindle – for Amazon Kindle eBooks (.AZW, .MOBI & .PRC – without DRM)

eReader – for Barnes & Noble/eReader/Fictionwise eBooks

Thus a book is stuck on one reader and can not be shared and synced to the Kindle.  This is frustrating.

Help me Apple, you are my only hope! 

iPad

Now we have the iPad and does it add to the complexity with it’s own iBook store?  It says it will support ePub, but I am sure it will be a DRM version. But what the iPad can solve, is due to having all of the ebook readers available on the device, I will no longer need the Kindle itself and can read any book from any format, all on one device.  The next question is… will they sink to the iPhone for on-the-go reading??

My Apple Prediction

It is the day before Apple's big event so I decided to put forward my predictions (wants) out for ridicule.

As I have no insider information, this is coming from me and only me.  So take it with a grain of salt.

There will be a tablet, but more.  The tablet will be a 10in 720p OLED tablet for reading books, magazines and newspapers, internet browser, media player (movies, tv, radio, music, podcasts, Audible) and will run all of the iPhone Apps, especially social networking type apps. It will be the same iPhone/Touch gaming platform for casual type games.  It will have built-in Wifi (wireless N), Bluetooth and 3G for always on connectivity.  Nothing new here that you may not have already heard about.

There will also be an Apple television (not the box, but an actual television) that will integrate with the tablet.  You can be watching a show on the television, switch to the tablet to watch and back to the television seamlessly.  Television will have built in wireless to run apps from the tablet.  When watching on the television, the tablet is a universal remote with a slick touch interface to run the media on the television and other devices.  The tablet is the ultimate computer in the living room. 

In addition to the AppleTV Box or MacMini, you will have DVR capabilities.

Apple will be introducing a new ENTERTAINMENT platform that the tablet is just a part of.