Month: March 2013

I need a Spark

Last year I got myself a bit healthier, shed some pounds, dropped a waist size, was able to walk up stairs without puffing for breath. There are many ways to choose to measure your ‘health’. For me, it’s about my appearance, this beer belly must go!!

Last July I wrote about the various ways I was try to ‘game’ myself, a mixture of gadgets and apps that I was using to gather data to give myself a view on progress.

Flipside is that if progress, let’s say, reverses, well the numbers and data start to re-enforce various unhealthy thoughts.

With my change in role, I’ve got less energy after work as my ‘after work’ is frequently around 7-8pm. As my usual time to get into the office is 8am then, yeah, I’m pretty bushed of an evening.

Chatting to Kirsty about this and it become obvious, in that way that things usually do when you talk to someone who knows you, that what I needed was to change my routine. Instead of looking to exercise in the evening, why not get up and exercise in the morning!

I am not a morning person.

Which is, of course, total BS. Several years ago I was dragging myself to the 6am train to be in the gym for 6.30!

So I’ve been looking around for something I could do everyday, nothing too major as I’m still getting my fitness back, but something with an all round benefit. I can then mix it up on the exercise bike, some weights, games of basketball and 5-a-side, and some walking. And no, not been out on the bike this year yet, it’s too damn cold (I know, shut up!).

I’ve been starting to log my weight, waist measurement and tracking my activities again. Fitbit is with me everyday and I’ve started using Fitocracy for logging exercise. Mostly because it’s fun and I’m hoping it’ll drag me in more than it has, but I need a way to properly game myself.

Enter Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yes, THAT Arnold Schwarzenegger.

He has joined up with Fitocracy and set a challenge, based around a simple set of exercises that I can do every morning. He’s calling it the Spark.

I think it’s a great idea, particularly his calling out to others. One of the reasons I dislike the gym is (and this is born from my own view of self) the comparisons I end up making, me against others.

So, starting April 1st (no I’m not joking) I’ll be taking part. Wish me luck!!

iTunes / Airplay issues – FIXED

“It just works”, they said.

“Except when it doesn’t” they didn’t say.

What follows is a bit of a rambling post about random playback issues I’ve experienced when using iTunes to stream music to an Airplay. Simply put, for no reason I can fathom, iTunes playback across Airplay will stop. The track is still playing in iTunes but there is no sound passed to Airplay. Searching for this issue has helped me narrow it down to the problem being iTunes, beyond that I’m stuck.

Read on for some lessons learned…

Read More

The Best Google Reader alternative

It was only back in December that I pondered this but with the news that Google Reader is to shut down I find myself revisiting some of those choices.

I still use Google Reader heavily, I consume it mostly through the website itself and via Reeder on my iPad, so it’s annoying that they are pulling this service.

But, as the adage goes, you get what you pay for, so I find myself, once again, revisiting the ‘what am I willing to pay for’ line of thought.

There are a few alternatives to Google Reader out there, I’ve tried some myself in the past, and already the tech blogs are offering their ‘best alternatives to’ posts.

But for me, the new consideration has to be whether I have the option to pay for the service with the hope that it offers a level of protection against the service disappearing on me. It’s either that or roll my own, or perhaps a 3rd party option like Fever (I have a server, and it is an option I might look at when I have more time, i.e. probably never!).

So far, of the many suggestions, the one I’ll be trying is NewsBlur precisely because it has a ‘paid for’ option.

As well as the specific impact of Google closing Reader to those that use the service, the fact that a company as rich as Google is (rightly) shutting down services that it sees no value from is a trend that is likely to start to pick up momentum.

Instagram prompted my original post on the “Going Paid” trend, how long before FaceBook push that application behind a paid for subscription?

Time will tell how this trend will pan out, but one thing remains constant and that’s the ever shifting nature of social media applications and their usage models.

Bad Motorist

You couldn’t make it up.

One day after berating a bad cyclist, I have the perfect example of how to be a bad motorist.

Part of my commute crosses a small, narrow, humpback bridge. It’s an old bridge, with high solid stone walls. Visibility is nil from either side.

Obviously this is the perfect place for an oncoming car to try and overtake a cyclist on the road. He was a couple of feet across the white lines, so how I missed him on one side, and the wall on the other, I have no idea. I did, out of the corner of my eye, see the cyclist wobble a bit as the car cut back in so I’m guessing he almost knocked the cyclist off too.

Stunningly stupid, dangerously reckless.

Cyclists 1 – Drivers 1!

But no, this will not be a theme of posts as, frankly, I could probably start up a separate blog on this topic alone! Instead I’ll give you the top two links you get when searching for “Bad cyclists bad motorists”.

  • Bad Drivers – a list of examples compiled by a user called Cycling Addiction
  • Bad Cyclists – a montage of examples compiled by a user called StoryOfBike

Which prompts the question, if cyclists are calling out other cyclists, where are the drivers calling out other drivers?

Bad Cyclist

I was driving to work this morning and witnessed a minor incident that irked me.

As I approached a pedestrian crossing the lights were changing back to green and by the time the car in front got to them, they had been green for a couple of seconds.

That didn’t stop a cyclist, cycling on the pavement and across the road at the pedestrian crossing almost getting taken out as he only started crossing the road when the light changed to green. I saw it happening from a distance and braked but the car in front of me had to slam his brakes on (there were others cars in the left lane, likely blocking his view).

The cyclist, once he’d gotten across the road. Stopped, turned and started shouted at the car in front of me as it drove off.

As, by that point, I was level with the cyclist I had half a mind to have a go at him!

Now, I cycle, not as often as I should, but when I do a lot of it is on busy roads. I have cycled to work and I think I have a fair grasp of roadcraft. I’m not the best cyclist, but neither am I the best driver.

I also know that this incident is probably not that common.

Unfortunately I think it’s this type of thing that sticks in the minds of the (pro) drivers and the (pro) cyclists. The driver probably drove away thinking “bloody idiot cyclist” and the cyclist was probably thinking much the same about the driver (despite being in the wrong!)

To all drivers, please be vigilant. Not every road user will use the road properly and you are in a large hunk of metal that can hurt and kill. Be mindful of that.

To all cyclists, please try and obey the rules of the road. I realise that jumping that red light, or using the pavement and a pedestrian crossing to cross the road is an easy option, but it’s dangerous (and I’m pretty sure it’s illegal).

A wee bit of give and take and the roads can be usable by all of us.

(I really don’t like writing this kind of preachy bollocks, I know it won’t make an ounce of difference, but it pissed me off!)