First Ride


The new bike had its first good ride yesterday. Being the geek that I am, I was sure to bring along my heart rate monitor, as well as my GPS. The weather was really nice, and I was on a mission to take pictures of Charlie's Coin at the Boer War Memorial in Calgary. The total ride was about 30 kilometers, and for the most part was quite enjoyable exercise. At other times I thought I was going to die.

If you look at the heart rate chart, you can see I pushed myself decently throughout.  The low points around 1:15 were when I was on and off the bike taking pictures.  If you look at the Google Earth KMZ file, the spike in heart rate to 191 beats per minute coincides with the marker referred to as 'Killer Hill'.  I'm not sure if I was misusing my gears, but about 3/4 of the way up that hill, my heart was in my neck and I felt like I was about to keel over.  Nothing like a change in exercise routine to show you the poor shape of your body.  Granted, I haven't maintained 160 minutes of moderate intensity in a very long time.

I was pleased that I am able to keep up with traffic downtown.  I can pretty easily get up to 30km/h, which is par for the course in stop and go traffic.  I could keep up with the flow, and didn't have to resort to riding along the sidewalk like a inconsiderate moron.  The bike is also pretty fast, as I peddled it up to over 50km/h, on the downhill of course.

In the end I did my Geocaching, went for a nice bike ride on a beautiful day, and managed to collect data to get my geek on.


Git’r Done

Falls by the Tent

I find myself thinking that I should write more stuff down.  The desire this website fills is to have a lasting memory of what was happening at certain points in my life.  It is no surprise that right now, I'm very busy.  I'll try to break down the highlights.

The van Zwaaij family and I went to Peru to finish off May.  The trip ran the spectrum from amazingly beautiful and relaxing to very sketchy and nerve wracking.  Over the time, I filled my Moleskine with notes, and took around 3200 pictures.  The set has been distilled down to a select flickr set.  I was also packing my GPS for the entire trip, and as a result was able to map the photos.  I also merged the track logs from the Inca trail and created a Google Earth KMZ file.  The trip was nice, although travelling outside of Lima means that Canadian Blood Services wants nothing to do with me for a whole year.

Another highlight of the last few months is the new addition to the household: Riley.  Our American Staffordshire Terrier is a cuddly one.  She is very content just being close to us, and quite often we indulge her by sitting on the floor so she can sit or sleep on our lap.  She's decently house broken, although she's good for an accident every couple of days.  Already she tipped the scale at 28 pounds, and judging from her paws she has more room to grow.

In other business news, the Beefyapps guys have released Version 1.1 of the iPhone Soundboard: BeefyBoard.  The upgrade to OS 3.0 was not without it's hangups, and we ended up re-writing the recording portion of the application.  We also added some community type features with ratings and comments, as well as the ability for a designer to link sound boards to skins.  We've ramped up on our next project, which is going to be a game, so stay tuned.

Finally, I'm off to Ireland on Thursday.  Andy and Sarah are getting hitched, and I'm making the voyage to be there.  The camera and kidneys will get a workout I'm sure.  Hopefully this trip won't take a month and a half to get the photography up.


It’s Time

Along the Beach

I stepped on the scale.

One's mind always has an expectation, and my expectation was a whole pile lower than what the scale threw back at me. I was stunned, although in honesty, not as stunned as when I saw the pictures of myself in what used to be a lose fitting t-shirt. It is becoming more apparent that my lack of physical activity, coupled with the refined carbohydrate diet has built a load of fat up on me. I'm currenly over 280 pounds with a whopping 32.5% body fat. Calculating my BMI puts me into the Obese category, which is a far cry from the fit 210 pound rugby player that existed five years ago. I've seen friends of mine undergo massive transformations in their health and fitness and now it's my turn.

Currently I'm attacking two points of fitness. The first is my diet, and the second is fitness. I'm not going to make any drastic changes in diet, specifically in quantity, but rather on what I eat. I'm going to be cutting out refined carbohydrates, filling the void with fruits and vegetables. Eating foods that have less energy density, as well as foods that don't cause as much of an insulin response will drastically help in this area without me getting all cranky about being hungry.

The second front of attack is adding regular fitness back into my life. The key in this area is to not try and tackle a mountain at the start, instead to just add small bits regularly until it becomes routine. I'm going to be mixing in interval training and plyometrics to break up the aerobic training. If I'm too lazy to go outside, I'm going to force myself to some casual time rowing in front of the television. The key here is not to have intense workout, or even long workouts, but to get the heart rate up regularly.

The old adage is "If it can be measured, it can be improved". The first step is to know where I currently stand. It would appear I do more sitting than standing. I wore my heart rate monitor while working today and came up with a resting heart rate of 93. I'm sure my future is going to contain a database so I can track progress, and determine if I've stalled, but for now paper is sufficing. I also picked up the cute little Nike Sport pedometer, and paced out a route with my GPS to test it's accuracy. The GPS registered 2.17km for the trip, and the pedometer registered 2.14km, inside 2% even before it is calibrated. Now the largest thing to overcome: Keeping motivated.

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That was REALLY stupid

Calgary North at Sunrise

In a couple of seconds I managed to mix in an event that would further complicate my already stupid and packed schedule. Monday morning, Mike and I were escorted to the top of the Telus Tower, in preparation for a photographic assignment. With climbing that evening, my camera sat and I was unable to retrieve the photographs I took in our brief introduction to the security of the tower.

Tuesday evening, I had some more free time, so I collected my laptop and card reader, got myself a glass of water and plunked myself down in the La-z-boy. Seconds later Aperature was sucking the photos off the card, and generating previews, so I grabbed the remote, fired up the television and reclined back with my water.

The confluence of events, led to me not quite being prepared with the water hit my lips, and I inhaled a bit of water, as opposed to drinking it. With my chair reclined and my laptop chewing away on my lap, I sputtered forward spitting out water, and spilling more than just a little from my glass. It probably doesn't help that my typical water vessel is most often confused with a bucket made of glass. Losing about a 1/10 of my schooner is probably equivalent to a small child's sippy-cup, something I should have been using in this particular situation.

My eyes went to the keyboard, which had puddled watter over most of the right hand side, and then to the water soaked screen which was now showing the white apple wait screen. By the time my eyes registered that my machine seemed more aware of its damage than I did, the screen flashed blank, while all the power lights remained on.

The shock and disbelief were astounding, afterall, my life was on the machine sitting on my lap. All my personal projects, GPS tracks and routes, trading systems and platforms and photography were on 2.5 inches of swimming hard disk. I immediately went to work drying it out, and the next day, without success of resurrecting the machine, I went to recovering the data. Again, not a whole lot of luck.

Being as though I'm a bit of what marketing departments classify as a power user, I wasn't as bad off as it would seem, as I do in fact have a backup mechanism. My photography, and all my personal coding projects are backed up offsite. I did lose things that missed the backup window, like photos from Las Vegas and camping, but comparatively minor when you consider that I've still got two people's wedding photos to deliver. I was elated when my parter reported that our system had kept both intact, save for some selection and cropping work. I had just gone through the motions to ensure database schemas and seed data were commited to my source repositories, so except for some GPS data, I did pretty well on the data recovery side.

The next couple of days were off kilter, and I became painfully aware of how big of a part that little bit of consumerism impacts my life. I'd find myself sitting at my desk wanting to check e-mails and stock prices, but be staring at a blank screen strictly out of habit. The events that followed, I blame on Mike.

Mike and I had spent some time culling wedding photography a few weeks back, and at that time, comments were made about how my MacBook was "slow as ass when chewing on the 14-bit, 12MB files my new camera produces. Like an acquaintance with an annoying habbit that you don't quite see until it's pointed out, after that moment, I was painfully aware of how long I'd wait just to get the file loaded and presented. At the same meeting, while I was talking about beefing up some of my hosting and possibly going to a co-locate setup, Mike showed me how you can get refurbished Apple products. With my unfortunate accident, it seemed like the perfect time to realize my dream of purchasing a Mac Pro.

I took a definite step away from mainstream, purchasing an 8-way machine which will have 8 GB of RAM at it's disposal, but I need some serious horsepower for my photography work, right? No longer will I have problems running virtual machines, or having applications like Photoshop, Illustrator or Aperture open at the same time. I should no longer have big waits when working with film scans or high resolution stitching. Furthermore, now that I've got a machine with a ballsy video card, I'm going to Boot Camp my self a Windoze box, and work on my micro. I'll even be able to partake in the September release of Spore.

The replacement has been ordered, and I've been watching the shipping tracker. It arrived in Calgary this morning, so it'll go out for delivery today. Tonight I'll use the door knocker number to ensure that I can pick up the beast tomorrow.

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Global Position Verified


Many moons ago, I used to Geocache with a Magellan Meridian Platnum. I fell in love with the sport, and used it to find new and exciting areas when I traveled overseas. It wasn't very long however when my e-bay purchase developed a sickness and could no longer run off batteries, requiring that it be tethered to some other sort of power. I did examine the guts of the receiver, and thought that I could fix it, but the delicate work scared me and never did end up being completed.

Recently I was looking into a new receiver. I had my choices narrowed to a couple when a friend of mine told me about what he thought of the Garmin GPSMap 60CSx. One afternoon I rolled down to GPS Central to examine the units they had in stock, and as soon as I saw the 60CSx fire up with the Topo map, I knew I was going to be making a purchase.

Handheld GPS units have come a very long way since my first purchase. A lot of the functionality that used to exist on the PC software is now built into the unit itself. The GPSMap is able to routefind, manage your Geocaches, create images from your current map as well as a plethora of other features I haven't even discovered yet. The unit is about half the size of my old one, has 3x the battery life and locks into your current location in seconds rather than minutes. The antenna is sensitive enough that I can now get a lock on my position inside my house, which no body even dreamed of when I purchased my Magellan.

The software and community around GPSs and Geocaching has changed a great deal since I last played in the genre. I guess the major improvements are the new free software tools like Google Earth, the availability of very neat and super accurate maps and how seamlessly everything integrates. For instance our little 4.9km Geocaching adventure on Sunday where we dug up GCN419, GCRQTP and GCMVDW could easily be ripped off the GPS and examined in Google Earth like so:

Sunday Walk (Click for larger version)

The details really appeal to the geek in me, and I'm really stoked about getting back in the the Geocaching groove.

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