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DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : end of monthMon, 29 Dec 2008 15:12:06 GMT # 

met the goal to get below 210 lbs. the lowest i got was 208, but then xmas cookies brought me back to 209. i have a serious weakness for xmas cookies. bodyfat percentage wise, i hit 10% (the goal) a couple days, but i've been measuring 11-12% most of the time. strength is down right now. this is partly because i've been off most supplements for the last couple weeks. i think the other part is because i didnt eat so well at xmas ... too much sugar, too many empty calories. anyway, i cant wait to get back on creatine. heading to the gym without a pre-drink of creatine is tough.

the new plan is to continue reduced calories for 3 more months to get below 200 lbs. that should put me below 10% bodyfat. losing 3 lbs a month is easy, so the challenging part is 2 of those months will be strength training, which will force some quality weight gain. figure that i'll try alternating lifting for strength/size each month for all of 2009. the workouts needs a changeup too, so i think legs are getting an extra day. something like : chest, legs (heavy), arms, back, legs (light). that also gives arms priority over back. will add in weighted ab work too. probably need to hold off on shoulders/traps for a while.

DesktopWeb FormText   hardware bugSat, 20 Dec 2008 01:17:34 GMT # 

working on a pet project that involves multi-zone audio. been fighting a bug for the last 2 days where one of the zones would just stop working. it would initially work, and then just disappear. no exception ... of course. so i added more logging ... and everything was as expected. wasn't getting hung up anywhere and all methods were completing. next guess was threading, because i was using an object that was potentially not thread safe. so i changed the code to prevent a race condition, and that seemed to help, but did not fix the problem. then i went and added some test code to check my audio settings were correct. everything was fine, but it did find a noisy audio line. so i change out some wires and the noise is gone ... but the zone still drops off. continued mucking with hardware and tested each USB sound card individually ... they all work fine. totally out of ideas, then for kicks, i take out the hub ... the zone doesnt drop out. dont have another hub on hand to test with, but i 'think' the hub wasnt providing enough power to the USB sound cards, and that was causing them to malfunction. but they wouldnt fail completely. they still show up and their property pages show activity; they would even continue the final task, but all new tasks were ignored. that sucked! ... on the bright side, i've got tons of diagnostic code now.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : met this months goalThu, 11 Dec 2008 15:35:46 GMT # 

started this month at 213 and weighed in at 209 today. that's 2 lbs a week. managed that by changing the caloric deficit to 750-1000 calories. had only been losing 1 lb a week, but i wanted to see what 2 lbs was like ... it wasnt too bad. there were a couple times that my sugar levels were low and i took unplanned naps (old person style). the bad news is its pretty hard to lift heavy without those calories, and getting through cardio after lifting took some willpower. glad that experiment is over and i'm switching back to a 500 deficit for the rest of this month. if i kept up the 2 lbs a week, i think it would really start to chew up muscle mass.

total weight loss is now 35 lbs (started at 245). the first week took off about 7 lbs of water and glycogen. caliper measurements have me losing about 5 lbs of muscle in the process. so i guess that means 23 lbs of total fat has been lost? i don't have a good understanding of how much water weight is lost with fat. i also dont have good 'before' caliper measurements, not to mention my own measurements have gotten more aggressive, but the guess is i started out at 22+% bodyfat. current measurements are 11-12%, and its been mainly coming off my belly. chest and thigh measurements have remained constant, while belly measurements have been dropping consistently.

DesktopWeb FormText   arghSun, 07 Dec 2008 20:06:44 GMT # 

i am taking such a beating right now. need to install Speech Server 2007 to find a tool i need. cant install on my main dev machine because its VS2008 only. wont get VS2008 support from Speech Server until R2 ... probably early next year (too long to wait). already asked to be on the beta, they said no. ok, try to install on a secondary machine. doh, need to install VS2005 first. wait for that to finish, and do Windows Update. restart machine ... and it wont boot. WTF! insert original Vista disk and repair. amazingly, it comes back up, and VS2005 is actually working too. ok, try to install Speech Server 2007 ... Installation Failed, cant install on this version of Windows. WTF! its running Windows Vista SP1. that machine can no longer be trusted, its going to get a new harddisk and a full wipe. and i've still got to get another machine setup with XP to install VS2005 and Speech Server 2007. at this point i've almost forgotten why i needed to install Speech Server 2007 in the first place. crap ... writing this didnt help blow off much steam at all

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : month wrapupSat, 29 Nov 2008 02:34:37 GMT # 

did not meet the initial goal to get below 210 lbs, but thats ok. instead, i concentrated on strength and might have changed body composition slightly. squat is back to 365 for reps and bench is back to 315 for reps. everything went into strength, such that i skipped out early on some cardio sessions, because my muscles were starving and i had to go eat. put on a couple pounds the first couple weeks to peak at 217, and now i've gotten down to 213 for a couple days in a row (er, um ... 214 after thanksgiving). next month will be back to high reps and weight loss. i will get below 210 next month.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : caliper measurementsFri, 21 Nov 2008 18:38:22 GMT # 

got measured by a trainer again ... 13.6% at 217lbs. measurements were chest (11), belly (25), and thigh (8). compared to my self measurements, they are identical, except chest is doubled. i've been measuring around 5 on chest (which made the percentage around 12%). the difference is my trainer measured more to the side and closer to the armpit, while i've been measuring lower down and towards the front of my chest where the skin is tighter. so that still puts my bodyweight at 205 to 210 to hit 10%. the trend seems to be (i hope) that my chest and thigh measurements are staying mostly constant, and now my lower belly is finally thinning up.

DesktopWeb FormText   NXEFri, 21 Nov 2008 00:33:45 GMT # 

had a chance to play. its much easier to find content, and this was really needed, because the last fall update made it overly complex. avatars are cute, but not interesting until they make their way into alot of games. harddisk installs are nice too, but sorely limited by requiring a disk. community games ... bad ass! they've still got to come up with a way to support multi unit households without requiring sneakernetting a memory unit around. and where is a browser ... the chatpad is begging for it. also surprised they havent come out with motion controllers by now.

but what about media? Netflix is cool ... if i subscribed to Netflix, if i was compelled to be a gold member, and if there weren't weekly announcements about other devices getting Netflix. other than that, i dont see any media enhancements. thats a full year with no new media functionality for the xbox 360. no new codecs, no video playlists, no music seeking, no audio book resume, no zipped image archive support, no new slideshow display options, no additional MCE extender support. you've got to be kidding me ... especially after HD-DVD lost out. so the xbox 360 isnt going to make it back into my media setup. its great for gaming, but its media functionality is nothing compared to XBMC or the Popcorn Hour. what has MS done for the living room this year? Windows Home Server got a new UPnP server, and OEMs got the TV Pack for MCE ... is that it?

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : stupid dumbbell tricksThu, 20 Nov 2008 18:12:31 GMT # 

this is one of the stupid things i do in the gym. each gym is different, but my current gym has the dumbbells racked with the lightest pairs on the right and progressing to the heaviest on the left. so for the few exercises that i only need a single dumbbell, i ALAYS pick up the left-most dumbbell out of the pair, because its closer to the next heaviest dumbbell ... therefore it psychologically 'feels' like its 'heavier'. if i went to a gym that racked their dumbbells the opposite way, then i'd automatically start picking up the right-most dumbbell. i'm aware that i do this, and its complete nonsense, but i cant stop it.

DesktopWeb FormText   the data is thereThu, 20 Nov 2008 04:14:04 GMT # 

the ReadyNAS recovered itself to full redundancy! ... but i (sort of) replaced the wrong disk. the logs showed that Disk 3 had the last error. it had a small # of reallocated sectors, which is a warning until the count gets high. and the log only showed that Disk 1 had 1 reallocated sector. but now that its fully online with Disk 1 in place, i see that Disk 1 has a ton of ATA errors ... which means failure. so Disk 1 is what was keeping the ReadyNAS from coming online. and possibly by replacing Disk 3, that changed its bootup sequence just enough to get past what was hanging with Disk 1. that, or i got real lucky that Disk 1 worked this one last time. regardless, now that its redundant, and i know what the real problem is, its shut down until i can get another harddrive to replace Disk 1. the file system check took about 30 hrs, and resync took about 6 hrs. thats a long time to not know whats going on with your data. although Windows Home Server uses more space with duplication (compared to RAID), i think they took the right approach for the mass market.

DesktopWeb FormText   holding breath on data recoveryThu, 20 Nov 2008 01:43:03 GMT # 

so my ReadyNas was inaccessible and i could not get to it on the network at all. all i had to go off of were the LED lights on the front. of course it was blinking a pattern that is not described in the manual ... of course. searching the forums, i found a couple different posts that seemed like they were my problem or similar. at least one drive had failed. i remember that the 2nd or 3rd drive had issues before, but they ended up being internal errors used by Seagate. it was even in a FAQ that these errors could be ignored and it told me specifically which errors to look out for, of which i had none (at the time). so i pulled the 3rd drive hoping it would come up ... no luck. ok, maybe it was the 2nd drive. replace the 3rd, pull the 2nd drive ... nothing. crap! found another post that says pull the first drive. replace the 2nd, and pull the 1st, and its on the network! of course it shows that none of my files are there. crap ... tons of data might be gone. deep breath. deeper breath. its just data ... its just data. remember, you're a minimalist, that should apply to data too. ok ... check the error log. Disk 3 seems to have failed, and then when it failed over to the X-RAID, it found 1 bad sector on Disk 1 ... and everything went to hell after that. crap ... i might have really lost all the data. for kicks, i replace drive 1 and put in a new drive for Disk 3. surprisingly, it stays on the network. huh? and does a file system check for over 24 hours ... i was ready to give up on it after 12 hours. now its 50% through a resync to Disk 3. so my data might still be there? i'd be really surprised.

DesktopWeb FormText   toys for next articleWed, 19 Nov 2008 18:14:09 GMT # 

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : mid monthWed, 19 Nov 2008 04:13:15 GMT # 

postponed the diet for the last 2 weeks and ate at maintenance level. it was one of those 'listen to your body' decisions, and from switching back to strength training, my body was screaming for calories. it actually worked out fairly well. i put on a couple pounds, bodyfat percentage is the same, so it should be muscle/glycogen/water. also been eating more (good) fats, moving the percentage closer to 25%. its counterintuitive, but my lower belly seem to have thinned a little. now i'm feeling recharged to continue a caloric deficit for the rest of the year. thanksgiving won't be a problem, but i'll have to be wary of those xmas cookies.

actually bought one of those 'Iron Gyms' from the TV commercials. surprisingly, i really like it. i've owned a couple pullup trees before and they take up too much space, are more expensive, and difficult to move. i've also had the pullup bars before which were a pain to mount or could not support my weight. the Iron Gym does have a little give at 215 lbs, but holds mostly solid. i've mainly been using it for hanging leg raises, to target my low abs. already had my own ab straps, so i cant vouch for the qualiy of straps that might come with it. as they show in the commercials, i would never use it for pushups or dips ... lame advertising. the floor works perfect for pushups and dips require a tree or higher bench for full range of motion.

DesktopWeb FormText   how to paint a target on your backMon, 17 Nov 2008 16:36:29 GMT # 

been getting hit with comment spam. er, um ... it definitely has everything to do with me breaking a CAPTCHA years ago. since, the 360 started playing DivX natively, the CAPTCHA article is definitely the most popular. i cant tell you how disappointing that is, because it is definitely not my favorite project. so now i periodically get automated comment spam. the funny thing is my sites not that popular, and these guys waste their time automating it, which in turn makes me waste my time changing my comment pages. so that breaks them and they leave me alone for a while. its been a long time, so i'm looking at the code now, and i dont remember ANY of it. its like a totally different person wrote the code. some of its like 'what the hell was i thinking?' and other parts are like 'that pretty slick, when did i forget how to do that?'. anyway, back on track, the comments for the article show my mistake :

anon : do you have a captcha on your comments

casey : no. it's a custom blog engine, so its less likely somebody will spend the time to automate posting to it ...

anon : [proceeds to automate comment spam to my site]

DesktopWeb FormText   volatile memoryMon, 17 Nov 2008 16:22:59 GMT # 

Windows Home Server backup database got corrupted yesterday, so it lost all my backups. actually, it still had 1 failed backup ... which i marked for deletion. and i was getting all warm and fuzzy with WHS, and this just knocked off some of the fuzziness. anyway, i didnt lose anything, and it was a simple matter to kick off a manual backup on all machines. the actual data, i.e. porn :), on the WHS is stored separate of backups, and all that is still there.

now one of my ReadyNas devices is not accessible. from the forums, i'm assuming one of my harddrives has gone bad and its thrashing around screwing stuff up. i haven't lost any data with ReadyNas yet ... so i'm hopeful that this can be fixed without any loss. of course Infrant was bought by ReadyNas a while back, so that lowered my confidence in them by association.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : (unintentionally) gaining weightTue, 11 Nov 2008 20:35:18 GMT # 

weight was at 214 for 3 days in a row, so i was assuming that was my new set weight. but somehow my weight bounced back up to 217. i do not understand why. calories have been at a reduction or maintenance level, so where did the weight come from? my only guess is the weight gain is due to switching back to heavy lifting (5 to 8 reps). cant imagine that i could regain muscle that quickly. maybe its just the muscle holding onto more water weight for recovery, because i have been sore as hell. switching to decaf coffee, which removes the diuretic, is probably involved too. on the other hand, i definitely haven't gone into a catabolic state.

modified plan is to stay on reduced calories til the end of the year. lift for strength this month and size in december. also still modifying what i eat to get more good fats and less carbs for a 25% fat/35% carbs/40% protein split.

DesktopWeb FormText   where's the brains?Sun, 09 Nov 2008 05:50:47 GMT # 

woohoo, 'think' i just figured out the highest risk part for my next side project. got a bunch of new hardware and wires laying around ... and more on the way. the new toys are mostly figured out, and then its just a matter of hooking it up and writing the code.


... or a mental illness?

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : nutrition session 2Tue, 04 Nov 2008 21:08:40 GMT # 

weight loss first. i've been doing 40% carbs, 40% protein, 20% fat. the nutritionist recommended i switch to 35% carbs, 40% protein, and 25% fat. continue with the 500 calorie deficit, with a maintenance day each week. do this for 6 weeks, and then have 2 weeks of maintenance. for maintenance, the percentages would be the same as fat loss, withoy caloric deficit.

i've been on weight loss for 8 weeks, so she would prefer for me to immediately go into maintenance mode for a couple weeks. i'm actually going to ignore this for now and see if i can go for 3rd month by switching to low reps for the last month. also, because i'm potentially close to my goal. it all comes down to what my next (official) bodyfat percentage measurement is. if its close to 12%, then the goal is close (at 210 lbs), so i'd continue weight loss for this month. if it's closer to 15%, then i'd go into maintenance mode for a couple weeks, then reduce calories for the final 6 weeks of this year (at 205 lbs).

now to weight gain. first, she really did not like how i had radically changed from a caloric deficit, to a surplus, and back to a deficit (we're talking 1000 calorie shifts). my body didn't seem to like it either (i.e. i felt starved for a couple weeks). instead, i should have made gradual changes. the new plan is to do 2 weeks of maintenance calories at fat loss percentages (35% carbs, 40% protein, 25% fat). then do 2 weeks of maintenance calories at weight gain percentages (43% carb, 37% protein, 20% fat). then 2 weeks with a 250 caloric surplus at gain percentages. and then 2 weeks with a 500 caloric surplus at gain percentages. at that point i'd need to evaluate bodyfat percentage vs lean muscle gains to see what i should do next. if i were to go back to weight loss, i'd need to gradually reduce calories to a deficit.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : another month, another goalSun, 02 Nov 2008 20:56:58 GMT # 

this months goal is to drop another 5 lbs and get below 210. that potentially puts me at 10% bodyfat, which is the end goal. the error is introduced by using calipers to measure bodyfat percentage. i've got 2 different calipers. when i self-measure, they consistently have a 1% difference. when i have a trainer measure at my gym, they've measured +0 to +2% from my measurements. a 2% difference is about 4 lbs for me. so to hit 10%, 210 is optimistic and 205 is pessimistic. the calipers show that i am getting close, because i am dropping a percentage every couple of pounds lost. the only problem is you can find pics of people at different bodyfat percentages. our bodytypes are different, but they still look leaner than i do at similar percentages. this means my measurements might be optimistic and/or my bodytype is causing the visible differences. as i get leaner, bodytype should become irrelevant. finally, this will be my 3rd month of weight loss, so there is some risk that my body might get into a catabolic state again. if my caliper measurements show lean muscle mass dropping, then i'll quickly change gears to maintenance calories for a couple weeks.

lifting schedule will stay the same. only change will be to drop reps to 5-8 for strength and promote mass retention. last time i tried doing high reps for the 3rd month of weight loss, and that was a disaster ... i'm thinking low reps might keep me from going catabolic and chewing up muscle. cardio has the most changes by switching to some yoga and stairmaster workouts. diet will stay about the same except for the changes made after meeting with the nutritionist. i'm definitely in a fat burning mode now, so i'll probably consume slightly more calories, again, to avoid going catabolic.

DesktopWeb FormText   think i'll call you aliceFri, 31 Oct 2008 22:55:57 GMT # 

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : end of monthFri, 31 Oct 2008 01:55:37 GMT # 

the goal was go get below 215. body weight is still bouncing around, but i hit 214 lbs a couple of times, so i met the goal. from my measurements, bodyfat percentage is somewhere between 13 and 15%. visibly, i'm showing more definition. my quads had good separation, but now my hamstrings are starting to become noticeable. shoulders and biceps look alot better. lower belly has become visibly smaller within the last week too. my lifts are holding strong after taking the week off to jog, and energy is still high, so it was a good month.

just met with a nutritionist to review what i'd been doing. couple changes have come out of that. 1) i could stand to get more water. one easy switch is to go to decaf coffee and avoid the diuretic. also going to try out some stevia water mix-in products. 2) need to switch back to low fat cheese to avoid saturated fat. so i'll have to add some more good fats. 3) need to get on a daily omega 3 fat supplement (not a 3/6/9 complex, and it should be a fish source). 4) should adjust my meals to get more protein before evening workouts. this isn't an issue with morning workouts. 5) i should split my pre-bed protein drink from 50 grams right before bed, to 25 grams before bed, and the other 25 when i wake up a couple hours later. in general, i should keep protein intake below 40-45 grams at any one meal. 6) i'm not eating many veggies, should work more into my diet; but i'll probably just end up adding a greens drink ... which will also help with #1 to push more water.

DesktopWeb FormText   voting securityThu, 30 Oct 2008 18:51:57 GMT # 

with my voter registration card, they didn't even check a photo id?!?!? i would have never guessed. of course they made sure the lady in front of me signed her voter registration card ... that was essential. crazy. might as well put it online.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : in love with yoga (instructors)Tue, 28 Oct 2008 23:17:41 GMT # 

tried 2 yoga classes ... which means i'm now in love with 2 more yoga instructors. serious, you put me in a dark quiet room, play some new age music, lead me through some exercises, and talk in a monotone voice ... instant love. that or cut my hair. i fall in love with all my hairdressers too. doesnt matter how big or old they are. i cant get the full service haircuts with shampoo and massage because i'd be proposing before it was all over.

so how can you be a man and do yoga? 1) never take a yoga class with a guy instructor (see above). 2) hold your hands in a fist, avoid all the hand/finger extension. especially in the overhead and prayer poses. not to mention avoiding prayer poses for other reasons. 3) ignore the instructor from time to time. i.e. dont be a sheep. 4) only place your mat in front of the room if you have visibility of the instructor. otherwise your mat needs to be behind, diagonal, or to the side of a hot yoga chick. 5) periodically wear a sleeveless shirt to remind them that you have biceps. 6) when your doing a balance pose ... purposefully fall. 7) when they tell you to close your eyes, thats your cue to look away. 8) dont do any of the advanced modifications to the poses. they tend to get less manly. 9) kick ass on plank/cobra/side plank and any pose that requires upper body strength, because that is where you have the advantage. 10) if another guy makes fun of you for taking yoga, punch them in the face.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : stairs and yogaWed, 22 Oct 2008 05:01:09 GMT # 

cardio workouts have become routine ... so its time to change things up.

first change was to add a stairmaster workout; specifically, a step mill. not sure what the other kind is called (maybe a step machine?), but i hate that kind with a passion ... they are not meant for anybody over 200 lbs. those end up being too much of a tricep workout.

second change is to start back with yoga on the weekend. its been 3 or 4 years since my last class. took my 1st class with the entirely devious intentions to meet the contortionist yoga instructor ... ends up i liked the class. strength, flexibility, balance ... everything i'm good at! on the other hand, i cant stand the 'aligning your chakras' bit or 'turn off your mind' meditation nonsense. not to mention being the black sheep in a female dominated class. been staking out some of the classes, and i saw 1 other guy, but i dont think he really counts. you know what i mean. going to have to find the 'straightest' workout shirt i've got to wear. i'm also mentally preparing myself to not snicker everytime the instructor says 'downward facing dog' ... that'll never get old

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : mid monthThu, 16 Oct 2008 22:46:31 GMT # 

the week of (mostly) jogging had some effects. bodyweight dropped down to 215 and fat percentage is around 13%. that seems to confirm that every 2 to 3 pounds lost now will be a percentage of bodyfat. the bad news is i seem to have lost some muscle too. the calipers show a slight drop in both lean mass and fat weight. this is also backed by my measurements losing a 1/2 inch across the board. er, um ... i can't wait to start bulking back up. i've read that as you get to lower bodyfat percentages, your body will look drastically different with small weight changes. i think i'm close to reaching that point. more bad news is that my belly, which is smaller, is stubborn as hell. my chest and thigh caliper measurements keep dropping at the same pace as my belly. at some point, they've got to level out, and my belly should start shedding the weight (i hope!). granted i thought that was going to happen 5 lbs ago. now i'm done with the jogging changeup and switching back to a regular lifting/cardio routine. also, i have tightened up my diet and am back to counting calories to make sure i stay at 2250 to 2500. now it looks like i'll have to get my bodyweight down to 210 (or below) to get to 10% bodyfat percentage.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : too much ironThu, 09 Oct 2008 02:37:36 GMT # 

gym has been dead lately. not many people showing up, plus its been low energy. it wouldn't be a problem if i wasn't just going through the motions myself. i need some high energy people to show up so i can leech off of them (come on new years). so i've stopped lifting for about a week. instead, i'm just jogging. that'll give me some time away from the weights and give cardio a kick. so far this change has seriously depleted my glycogen stores. bodyweight has dropped a little, and finally dropped to its lowest weight since i started the diet. the goal is to end this month at 215.

DesktopWeb FormText   WHS upgradedThu, 09 Oct 2008 00:24:43 GMT # 

upgraded the RAM in my Windows Home Server box from 512 to 2 gigs after HP announced this would not void your warranty (awesome). followed the steps here : Upgrade the Memory in your HP EX470 or EX475. read the warning about stripping the small screws, had the right screwdriver, and still managed to strip one! so i had to take an hour break to wait for a battery to charge to drill it out. i'm real happy about the upgrade because the console responds much faster. now i can put some Add-Ins back on it. had previously uninstalled all Add-Ins (even the one i wrote!) because they were just bogging it down. i had real issues with PVConnect chewing up resources and making it unusable. not sure if that was just when it was building an initial media library.

anyway, i actually dont have any UPnP services running on it anymore. XBMC is using SMB and has its own library, while the last Popcorn Hour update sped up SMB access, so it can play 1080p content from WHS without having to use UPnP (or installing NFS). i'm waiting on the next Xbox 360 update to see if that makes it a worthwhile UPnP MediaRenderer again. or maybe not, now that XBMC is running on Apple TVs. i could definitely see that becoming a replacement for the Xbox1 running XBMC, because the Xbox1 occasionally has difficulty playing some (busy) SD content. plus, the Apple TV already supports infrared. think i'd still need the Popcorn Hour for 1080p content, because I believe Apple TV maxes out at 720p. my current media content is now split up between SD and HD. i use the Xbox1 with XBMC a majority of the time (since most of my content is SD and the UI is fast), and only use the PCH for HD or busy SD content that fails on the Xbox1. all content is served from NAS devices over SMB (WHS) or NFS (ReadyNAS), so UPnP isnt necessary. in other words, the Xbox 360 needs to be able to playback content over SMB/NFS shares too.

DesktopWeb FormText   atheist origin storySat, 04 Oct 2008 04:08:47 GMT # 

haven't seen 'Religulous' yet (liked the trailer), but in honor of its release, here's my atheist backstory. since atheists are distrusted more than terrorists (wtf), i'm a villian. some people refer to admitting you're an atheist as 'coming out' ... that's gay. not that i have anything against hot lesbians ... but atheists need a new term, how about 'waking up' or 'becoming rational'? using gay nomenclature isnt going to help atheists become public. my parents believe in god, of course, and they took me to church when i was a kid ... especially after we moved to Texas. i can't remember any of that. my only real memory is that after church we would come home and watch professional wrestling. anyway, i used to believe in god because it was pushed on me. i became a skeptic the instant we learned about mythology in school. the whole concept of there being a ton of gods that we dont believe in anymore really connected. i remember asking in class if there would be a textbook in so many years making fun of the god we believe in. that was a bad idea, and i got verbally berated by the teacher. anyway, i didnt even know at this point that you could not believe in all gods. at least i got involved in enough sports that we stopped going to church. later on, in middle school, i had a hippie science teacher that taught us both evolution and creationism. it was pretty much the most confusing 2 weeks of my life. now that i was already a skeptic i asked the teacher about their not being a god at all. bad idea, he was a deeply religious science teacher, so he had somehow come up with some early 'intelligent design' ideas and verbally berated me in class. science was my favorite class, but that jackass actually made me cry a little. shortly after, i made an all-star baseball team with a catholic head coach. so we were praying all the time, and at one very odd meeting he sold us on accepting jesus. well, i went for it. one of the few times peer pressure got to me. couple weeks later he gave a bible to each player that did. this made me take a step back, i wasnt sure what i had done ... so i studied. first, i ignored the new testament, i wanted the original material, so i bought the old testament. then i bought a book on the black arts ... satanism. i read them both and categorized both as fiction. at this time, i had written a report on Thomas Jefferson and was finally exposed to the concept of atheism. and i liked it. so in middle school, in my room, i rejected : being saved by jesus, all gods, the devil, heaven, hell, etc... the thing is i still lived in TX, so i couldn't tell this to anyone. again with the gay nomenclature, i adoped the 'dont ask, dont tell' policy of being atheist. because if i told just about any of my friends, then i would be quickly visited by somebody wanting to convert me back. cannot tell you how many endless arguments i had. not to mention how many people thought being atheist meant i worshipped the devil ... no joke. college finally came, and we were surrounded by all sorts of religious beliefs, and that is when i could finally be openly atheist. the football team still said the lords prayer, and sometimes i would say it to be part of the team, but most of the time i remained silent and just respected the others. i had tried that on my high school football team, and one of the coaches praying next to me noticed i wasnt saying it ... yep, verbal berating followed by being paddled. how fucked up is that? i got spanked for not saying the lords prayer. don't remember much of childhood ... but all the verbal beatings are still there ... bastards. and the coach that paddled me ... i'm still pissed off enough to kick his ass. but college was real interesting because the computer science and philosophy tracks worked together. your professor would teach you about logical proofs and then turn around and explain circular arguments in philosophy. that gave me the tools such that i wanted to go back and argue with all the people who tried to convert me in the past. of course at some point it becomes impossible to argue against blind faith and you might as well try to reason with a brick wall. at least i came up with my own reasons. college also introduced me to the concept of being agnostic. i gave that a shot for a while, but gave up on that too. the religious people seemed to use the indecisiveness as a way to reaffirm that they could be right, so i went back to being full on atheist. at some point, i told my parents, but that didnt go well ... so now we just dont talk about it. it would have been so much easier to just believe in god and blend in ... thankfully, i tend to prefer the paths of most resistance as well as following reason ... doesn't make sense when those paths are the same.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : fat burning zoneMon, 29 Sep 2008 05:24:54 GMT # 

weight dropped down to 218 yesterday. now i'm fully back into fat burning mode. the main tell is body temperature. after eating, my body temp kicks into high gear. especially after a 'cheat' meal. the same happens with low intensity exercise. even light walking will turn the heat up and i'll start sweating immediately (highly unattractive). the keys to get into the fat burning mode was to have a 500 calorie deficit, keep fats at or slightly above 10%, and keep carbs about 50 grams below proteins. this gives me enough energy to do normal activities, including working out, but i'm definitely not a ball of energy. strength fails quicker when lifting and failure is immediate. e.g. i might do 1 rep fine and then completely fail on the next rep; opposed to gradual failure over a # of reps. and forcing myself to do cardio after lifting takes some mental discipline because glycogen stores are already depleted. before counting calories, when i tried to diet, i would mainly cut out fats or too many calories. this would work for about a month and then my body would crash, mentally and physically. trying to operate on low fats would ultimately hinder my ability to think, so i would fail. the lower carb doesnt have that effect. low intensity morning cardio also seems to help kick start the metabolism. i also eat 8 meals: 4 small meals and 4 shakes : morning shake, breakfast (carbs, fat, protein), lunch (carbs, fat, protein), afternoon shake, pre workout snack (carbs, protein), post workout shake, post workout snack (fat, protein), before bed shake. the largest meals are breakfast and lunch, so i get more calories (especially carbs) earlier in the day. the many small meals throughout the day has tethered me close to food sources. if i go more than 2 hours without a shake or snack, i start to get cranky. 3 or 4 hours and my body starts to shut down. so i have to carry 'emergency' food stores that can be deployed when needed. one really odd thing is that jogging is easier for me on reduced calories. i would assume it would be more difficult, because i have less calories for energy, but i can get into the zone easier. when i was jogging while eating surplus calories, it was a struggle for me to catch my wind and it just did not feel comfortable.

so under 220, my WiiFit Mii should be out of obese and back to overweight :) bodyfat is currently around 13 or 14%. even though i wasnt using calipers to measure bodyfat when i first started, my lean muscle mass seems to have remained mostly constant. so i'm estimating that i started out at 240+ lbs with 21 or 22% bodyfat at the beginning of May. at this stage, every couple of pounds lost (as long as its primarly fat) is 1% off my bodyfat percentage.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : back to where i wasThu, 25 Sep 2008 01:08:04 GMT # 

bodyweight is back down to 220, and all measurements are back to where they were 2 months ago. bodyfat percentage is around 13 or 14, so i've got a couple more pounds of muscle from last time. the bad news is i wanted to be closer to 215 lbs right now. it took me about 2 weeks to switch from catabolic to anabolic, but it took about 4 weeks to switch from anabolic to weight loss. hingsight, i wish i would have done a maintenance month instead of a weight gain month. but i learned a couple things. first, even with a caloric deficit, i needed to make sure the deficit was from carbs. Waximaize will be a good post workout supplement when i'm trying to gain, but it was interrupting the fat burning cycle. also tried a natural thermogenic with green tea extract, and it didnt seem to do anything; plus i prefer to drink tea. was also allowing some fruits and milk in my diet but that was interrupting fat burning. finally, even though light intensity morning cardio doesnt burn many calories, it does seem to jump start my metabolism.

now feel like i'm fully back into fat burning mode. as soon as i eat, it feels like my metabolism kicks in and starts burning. caliper measurements are about 6 on chest, 8 on thigh, and just over 25 on belly. yep, still all belly. at some point i'm assuming that i've burned enough fat off my chest and thighs that it has to burn off my belly?!?! damn you genetics.

the goal is still 10% bodyfat, which is estimated to be about 10 lbs away. that will take 2 more months. only change i'm making is to add in more cardio. had just started 1 on, 1 off, 2 on, 1 off .. but i'm switching to all on. that should take care of the rapid weight fluctuations i've been having. not countng morning cardio, i'll do cardio every day. even on non lifting days, i'll still head to the gym just for cardio. the only time i might skip cardio is after a heavy leg day. 2 more months, no playing around.

DesktopWeb FormText   hate politicsTue, 23 Sep 2008 14:29:19 GMT # 

politicians need a lie count. basically a set # of fouls like professional sports. once you go over that lie count, you're out of the game. you dont get to play again until next term.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : diff routineWed, 17 Sep 2008 02:23:22 GMT # 

supposed to be losing weight, but i'm still stuck at 222. not sure what is going on. nutrition is the same, except i finished off the post workout waximaize and changed to a different morning protein shake. my caloric deficit should be around 500 calories with the deficit coming from a reduction in carbs. 10% of my calories are from fat and sugars are below 50 grams per day.

lifting routine has been the same for about 6 weeks, so its time for a change, along with cardio.

chest, shoulders (optional), forearms - mid cardio
legs, calves - no cardio
back, traps - light cardio
tris, bis, forearms - jog

had been lifting 5 days on, so this will give more days off but the lift days will have frequent core lifts to burn more calories. cardio had been 1 on 1 off, so this works in more cardio. abs and grip work everyday. light cardio every weekday morning to get the metabolism going. finally, i'm getting back on a thermogenic. the only one that i swear by is the Universal Cuts pak.

DesktopWeb FormText   /dvdMassRip updateTue, 16 Sep 2008 01:06:19 GMT # 

decided to re-rip my DVD collection to ISO and delete the loose VOBs. MCE doesnt natively support ISO; but Popcorn Hour, XBMC, and the Klegg MediaShare do. a handful of other people have used the app (/dvdMassRip) now and i've incorporated some bug fixes that popped up. the code and exe are available for download. the DvdInfoCache button will download metadata and cover art for ISOs. press it after the mass rip is completed.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : 1st week of dietWed, 10 Sep 2008 00:27:57 GMT # 

didn't work ... i actually gained weight. went from 222 to 225, then back down to 223. wondering if i was still stuck in an anabolic state? not sure, because there is no way i had a caloric surplus. one problem is i was getting more carbs than protein, because i was still taking Waximaize after lifting. just ran out, so that gets rid of 40 grams of carbs. i'm assuming that will give me the deficit to deplete glycogen stores and i'll see weight loss from here on. my morning shake has quite a few carbs, so i might end up switching it out later. also adding low intensity AM cardio. it doesnt actively burn many calories, but it does seem to get my metabolism started earlier to burn more calories throughout the day. just need to remember to skip it on leg day. the good news is that i've been measuring lower bodyfat percentages at the same bodyweight as previous measurements. e.g. previous measurements were in the 14.75 to 15.5 range, now its in the 13.8 to 14.1 range. i take that to mean that i really did add some lean muscle last month. and if i can keep from losing muscle right now, i might be able to hit 10% bodyfat closer to 215lbs than 210lbs.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : start of diet roundThu, 04 Sep 2008 03:39:58 GMT # 

been slowly reducing calories the past week from a +500 surplus to a -500 deficit. weight started at 225, even bounced up to 227, but has come back down to 222. that quick loss should be glycogen and water. now i can see what damage the last month of bulking did. belly has thinned some but still looks bigger from the starting point. legs picked up some muscle and seem to be showing more definition. shoulders and traps definitely added some size too.

nutrition is going to change slightly from last time. the main change is to get more carbohydrates after a workout. i'm also going to bump up calories after the heaviest workout days. this weekly 'cheat' day will be similar to what i ate when bulking. finally, i'm going to severely limit, but not completely cut out fruit. this will mainly be to add some fruit juice to flavor water. cold brewed coffee is still on the menu, and i need to get back to drinking green tea.

supplements. a friend had good results with Forslean, so i'm giving it a shot now. when its empty, i'll switch to a more traditional thermogenic. also trying Waximaize. that's giving me 40 grams of carbs with a post workout drink. that bumps total carbs up to equal the amount of protein i'm getting, so i'll cut that out soon to get more of a deficit. might cycle back onto it if i feel energy levels dropping.

lifting. the change will be to start out at high reps and then lower the # of reps each month. starting at 10 to 12 now, 8 to 10 next month, and 5 to 8 if i go a 3rd month. i've been real happy with the current routine : chest/forearms, legs/calves, back, shoulder/tris, traps/bis ... but i have to change routines next month.

cardio. starting out with radical changes here. i'm not doing morning cardio at all. what i had been doing was really low intensity, so i'm cutting it out to give my legs more time to heal and have more productive lifting sessions. there is some logic to my afternoon cardio now too. mid intensity intervals at the start of a workout cycle, low intensity recovery the day after legs, and high intensity the final day. each cardio workout is slightly more intense than what i had been doing before. this plan coincides with what the O2 test recommended.

DesktopWeb FormText   XBMC : xMceItv updateWed, 27 Aug 2008 05:38:05 GMT # 

added thumbnails, synopsis, and the ability to drill further down into categories; so you can get to the 'Arrested Development' streams in TV now. its also up on, so i think it can be added from within XBMC using their load script.

DesktopWeb FormText   Popcorn Hour updateMon, 25 Aug 2008 04:42:24 GMT # 

new firmware came out on Friday and i'm really happy with it. they sped up SMB decoding so now i can stream 1080p from Windows Home Server (which doesnt support NFS out of the box). it now supports Vorbis in MKV and audio codec support seems to have improved all around. basically, the PCH can now play all of my MKV files. it previously had problems with background noise on some MKV files with AAC, and it couldn't play Vorbis at all. also had some HD MKV files that would not play, but now they play fine with the updated Haali codec.

that'll keep me happy for a little while, but i'm still hoping they end up supporting OGM, FLV, and MMS (all of which are supported by XBMC). but their main priority should be to redo the UI and make it faster. the PCH seriously kicks ass for media playback, but browsing to find your media is painful. its much quicker/easier for me to browse/find media using XBMC.

i think this last PCH update fully retired the Xbox 360s media functionality. its now just a gaming machine. pitiful, i really wanted the 360 to be my entry point for running custom applications in the living room.

DesktopWeb FormText   trackball seems to be dyingMon, 25 Aug 2008 04:14:21 GMT # 

just want to start out by saying mice are lame, and used by luddite persons referred to as arm-movers. trackballs rule! hell, the ball itself can be used as a projectile weapon. plus nobody ever uses your computer because they dont know what to do without a mouse. you know the movie scene where they break in and immediately know how to hack into the computer and grab all the files. that problem is easily solved by using a trackball. the hero would reach for the mouse, be foiled by a trackball, would not be able to find out your evil master plan, and he's dead in the next scene. happy ending. for the real world just replace 'hero' with 'your sig. other' and 'find evil master plan' with 'find your porn stash'.

since the last time i bought a trackball, nothing seems to have changed. i'll end up getting another Logitech Cordless Optical TrackMan because i'm a finger-mover and not a thumb-mover. finger-movers are cooler than thumb-movers which are still cooler than arm-movers. i wish MS hardware would have a trackball revival because the Microsoft Trackball Explorer was the best pointing device ever. the 3rd party retailers on Amazon are selling it for $300 used and $450 new! was also really hoping i'd be able to get rid of a transceiver by now.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : bulking month overSun, 24 Aug 2008 19:36:37 GMT # 

hit 225, so i added 5 lbs. bodyweight had been bouncing all around, but its been a constant climb this last week. i take that to mean that i'm back into an anabolic state (which was the goal). bodyfat has bumped back up to around 15%. that means i probably added a couple pounds of muscle and a couple pounds of fat. probably have some stored glycogen and water weight too. measurements seem to agree with this. thighs are up an inch and arms are up a 1/2 inch. on the other hand, waist is a 1/2 inch bigger and belly is an inch bigger. at least strength is up too, mainly in my legs. workouts have been great since i've had alot more carbs to power them. was able to handle 10 to 12 reps much easier with a caloric surplus.

now i've got a week at maintenance calories (3000). then the plan is to go back to a caloric reduction (2500) for 2 to 3 months. in that time the goal will be to get down to 10% bodyfat. estimating that my bodyweight will have to be 210 to meet that goal. supposedly, if i'm at 10% bodyfat, then it'll be easier to put on a higher percentage of lean muscle mass for the next bulking phase.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : weight gain 4000Mon, 18 Aug 2008 03:25:59 GMT # 

still feeding the machine (this is where you visualize me pumping my arm to make the Mack Truck horn honking signal). probably been over 3500 calories daily, but i've stopped counting calories because its too much effort now that my caloric intake has increased. the new rule is :

can i eat? ... if YES, then eat. if NO, continue digesting. wait 30 minutes, repeat.

if i ever feel hungry, then the battles already been lost. the goal is to preemptively strike before hunger pains fire. one change is to switch from protein supplements to MRP (meal replacement) which has more calories and a closer balance of carbs and protein. they taste better too! i dont seem to be doing very good at gaining weight this round, so i'll probably have to switch to full on weight gain 4000 next round (BEEFCAKE!). too early to tell, but it needs to start packing on for me to reach 225 this month. at least i think i'm mostly out of the catabolic state and my body should be re-learning how to be inefficient using calories. hoping that translates into better weight loss next month.

energy levels are picking up but still have not at full capacity. i want that feeling back when i walk into the gym chomping at the bit to move some iron. strength is up slightly but my left shoulder is gimped and holding back chest workouts. left shoulder has become a recurring problem. think its because i've got a bone fragment or cartilige build-up in my right elbow which wont allow it to fully straighten (from a football helmet). it used to be that the right elbow would injure first, then i would favor that elbow and the injury would transition to the left shoulder that was overcompensating. now the right elbow injury is skipped altogether and it goes straight to the left shoulder. if we ever get in a fight, you should use that to your advantage.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : olympic liftsSun, 17 Aug 2008 18:43:10 GMT # 

couple days ago at the gym : a guy doing clean and jerk. today at the gym : powerclean. # of times i've seen anybody perform these lifts at the gym within last 8 months ... 0. chances are i'll stop seeing these lifts as soon as the olympics end, then i won't see them again til the next olympics, because olympic lifts are killer. these are the least performed lifts at a typical gym (from most to least common) :

squat - relatively common, but its usually the same people each time. most people dont purposefully crush themselves with weight. out of the people performing squat, about half of them are only doing half-squats.
deadlift - mainly because its such a pain to load and unload the bar. plus the initial start of the movement is killer.
powerclean - most gyms dont have a good place to perform this lift. it also takes some balls to drop under the weight before you squat it up.
clean and jerk - starts as a powerclean and then you have to press that over your head. good luck with that.
snatch - the name is funny, but i can't remember ever seeing this lift performed at a public gym. you need some agility for this lift.

DesktopWeb FormText   code : MCE InternetTV for XBMCSat, 16 Aug 2008 23:59:14 GMT # 

here's my first day with scripting / python / XBMC scripts : xMceItv. all it does is parse MCML and ASX files from the MCE Internet TV (beta) app and put it on XBMC. so you get : Top Picks, Movies, TV, Music, Viral, Lifestyles, Sports, Tech, News.

DesktopWeb FormText   pythonSat, 16 Aug 2008 16:04:49 GMT # 

trying to bake up a quick little script for XBMC. for UI, i just need a list and the ability to play network streams. found an XBMC sample for a list, and it just looks like a single call to play the stream. but then i ignored XBMC for a bit and just wrote the networking and screen scraping part in python on my desktop. that wasn't too bad. screwing around with indentation is stupid, and i'm quite sure their concept of global is not intuitive. and finding an XML lib to use took some fumbling around. anyway, i got that working easily enough. but now i'm trying to put the networking piece back into XBMC ... PITA! for debugging on XBMC you just call the 'print' statement. then when you exit your app you can open a debug window to see what is going on. but when i interact with the list, i keep getting into a situation where i cant exit the app without resetting XBMC. and that wipes the debug log. so then i have no clue what the problem is that caused it to lock in the first place. painful. going to have to read their script forum to figure out what stupid mistakes i'm making.

DesktopWeb FormText   returned the iphoneThu, 14 Aug 2008 22:31:34 GMT # 

had the iPhone (wannabe) 3G for almost a week. in that time, every single call and web browsing session from home started out as 3G and ended up EDGE within 30 seconds. there's a study on, but i can't complete the 3G test because its already reverted to EDGE by the time i hit start. AT&T was supposed to service my area and contact me, but now that i see that the problem is global, i'm giving up. Verizon ported my # back over and i'll be back on the old month to month contract (think my service rep said i had 90 days to return to the old plan). returned the iPhone. i actually really liked the phone itself. its not helping that both Apple and AT&T haven't acknowledged the problem. the workers at the AT&T store even pretended like there wasn't one. if i wanted an iPhone EDGE, i would have gotten v1. then they go and put 3G in its name and totally fuck it up. now i'm holding my breath for the HTC Touch Pro; or it looks like we might be seeing Android soon enough. or i'd get another iphone if they'd fix the phone and/or service.

DesktopWeb FormText   waiting for AT&T serviceSun, 10 Aug 2008 19:27:04 GMT # 

tried to see if a wireless repeater would work for me. walked all over my house trying to get a good signal that could be repeated. upstairs by a windows ... no good. all around the outside ... no good. in the attic ... in TX ... in August ... no good (then i was pissed off and sweaty). so a wireless repeater won't work for me.

go to the AT&T store, where i get a great connection because they have a repeater. they check the settings, but ended up logging a service check with my address. i should hear from them sometime next week. to make me happy, they've got to get it so that it doesn't rollback to EDGE when i'm at home. even if its still just 1 bar, i'd be ok so long as it stays 3G.

talked to Verizon too. a local customer service rep seemed to think they could take me back within a week without me having to start a new contract. but i'd have to call their customer service within a week. if nothing changes with AT&T next week, then i'll see about switching back to Verizon without starting a new contract.

DesktopWeb FormText   XBMCSun, 10 Aug 2008 18:03:32 GMT # 

totally late to the party ... but i just setup my first XBMC on an original Xbox. been trying to muck around with as many features as possible, so i haven't gone deep on anything yet. overall, for SD content, its AWESOME! the CPU isnt really powerful enough for HD content, but it just so happens most of my content is currently SD. as an end user, it puts the xbox 360 upnp / extender experience to shame.

UI - better than 360 and way better than PCH (Popcorn Hour). it looks good and is easy to navigate large collections. there's tons of different views. only negative is that the UI periodically freezes on me. this happened relatively often during setup, but now that i'm mostly using it for playback, its happening alot less.

videos - the 360 plays about 33% of my content, PCH plays about 66% (although its getting an update this month which should bring it closer to 80 or 90%). excluding HD content, XBMC plays 95+% of my content (even OGG and FLV). its container/video/audio codec support is incredible. during playback, its got tons of options for skipping around too. one negative is DVD playback, the PCH has much better ripped DVD support (loose VOBs and menu support).

music videos - the 360 sucks at music videos because of limited codec support. PCH has the codec support but you have to use a specific UPnP MediaServer to generate a shuffled playlist. XBMC can just generate a playlist from an SMB share and then shuffle it .. excellent. it has some ability to create a metadata lib for music videos and a party mode ... but i havent had luck getting that to work. not a big deal.

photos - XBMC supports image archives and comic book archives with zoom support! i had to write an app to get zips into MCE and on the Xbox as well as a UPnP service to get image archives on the PCH.

music - the 360 sucks because it doesnt let me skip or fast forward within music. so if i'm listening to an audio book or 60 minute mix you have to start from the beginning. within XBMC, you can fast forward using the remote and skip around using a game controller. the PCH is better, because i can hit the 1-9 button to jump from 10-90% along with 30 second skips. i might be able to get this to work in XBMC by setting up the remote differently.

games - tried this out for kicks. easily downloaded an Xbox game and transferred the iso contents to the harddrive. sure enough it played ... but i'm seriously addicted to achievements on the 360, so why the hell would i play a game without achievements. also found a couple emulators and tossed those on. load some ROMs ... sure enough they work. they just look so freakin old ... once again ... achivement whore.

scripts - 3rd parties can create scrips for accessing websites like youtube, google images, internet radio, internet TV, simples games, movie trailers, etc... tried a couple and they are decent. i'd rather have a browser on the xbox 360 that uses its keyboard attachment that hooks to a 360 controller ... that'd be awesome in the living room. of course the 360 would have to radically improve its codec support.

setup - its kind of a pain because you have to hunt for the files you need (for the xbox). since the original xbox isn't even being sold by MS anymore, why would MS even care about it being hacked?

cost - ($149 total) $60 used xbox (30 day warranty), $10 used dvd controller, $15 used component cable, $4 used memory card, $2 used spliter cell game, $15 used wireless controller, $20 action replay kit, $23 XIR easy kit.

unexpectedly, XBMC is now my primary media player. PCH is the secondary player for HD content and networked DVDs. Xbox 360 is now just a gaming device and a backup for the random HD files the PCH has trouble with. NOTE the PCH is expected to get a firmware update soon that will add new video/audio codecs ... but its main problem is still the UI, its just too slow for navigating large libraries. since XBMC has great music video and image archive support, i can now remove MCE from my media setup altogether. now i'll just have NAS devices for storing content and STBs on the TV.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : 1st week of bulkingSun, 10 Aug 2008 17:02:07 GMT # 

er, um ... i'm eating all the time. when i was on the -500 calorie reduction, i was eating every 3 hrs and rarely got hungry. now i'm trying to consume 250+ calories (above maintenance level) by eating larger portions every 2 hrs. the goal was to get +500 but i haven't figured out how to eat that much yet. if i could drink those calories it'd be easy. i'm keeping fats just above 20% for hormone production. since i'm eating more total calories, that's about 20g more than when on the diet. carbohydrates and protein are ranging from 325-350g and i'm trying to lean towards getting slightly more carbs for energy. so i try to get equal amounts of carbs and protein each meal. e.g. 'double meat' for sandwiches. e.g. blend quick oats into protein shakes. sugar has been ranging from 75 to 100. the additional sugar has been from fruit in the morning and post workout when i want an insulin spike to help with recovery.

strength is definitey down but i feel like its on the rebound. i'd been feeling really flat and was failing quickly. at least my musces seem 'fuller' and i've been able to make it through sets of 10 to 12. bodyweight jumped up to 2 pounds to 221 when i took a week off (i'm assuming that's stored glycogen and water) but its stayed the same since. i've heard that it takes a couple weeks to switch from catabolic to anabolic ... so i'm testing that theory now. visually my legs and shoulders look bigger and leaner at the same time ... odd. on the other hand, my belly looks slightly softer. i'll definitely put some fat back on, i'm just hoping its not alot. and i'm really hoping its mainly glycogen stores and water weight which i can quickly strip off going back to a caloric reduction next month.

DesktopWeb FormText   iphone wannabe 3gSat, 09 Aug 2008 23:43:08 GMT # 

so AT&Ts 3G rollout is crap ... or the iphone 3G has a crap antenna. if i turn off 3G, i get 3 to 4 bars with EDGE. switch 3G back on and i get 1 bar tops, and it keeps switching back to EDGE. checking the blogs, this is a recurring theme, even in large urban areas. for kicks, i'm going to abuse my local AT&T store to try and get a support ticket for my area. the other option is to try a signal booster ($220-$300), but first i have to see if i get good reception anywhere on the condo. not looking good since reception was weak the entire time when i drove around the block. er, um ... and isn't that what i'm paying AT&T for in the 1st place?

absolutely ridiculous since i'd been rocking 3G with Verizon for almost 2 years in less populated areas. 'more bars in more places' ... my ass

DesktopWeb FormText   iphone edgeFri, 08 Aug 2008 23:26:05 GMT # 

got the iphone an hour ago and on the AT&T network. but it looks like the condo is in a dead zone. i get like 1/2 a bar. EDGE keeps kicking in instead of 3G. the coverage maps (voice and data) show that i should be more than covered. hell, the condo isn't even in a valley. the AT&T store itself is only a mile away. pissed off ... need to go lift

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : this months planWed, 06 Aug 2008 05:16:06 GMT # 

AM cardio is out. dont want to burn those calories and i want more rest time for legs. i'd been using one of those muscle-stim ab training belts you see on TV, but now that's out. the belt has been maxed for a month so now i need to integrate abs back into my lifting routine. the lifting/cardio routine follows :

chest, fore (cardio 108-116 intervals)
legs, calves (abs)
back (cardio 104 constant)
shoulders, tris, calves (abs)
traps, bis, fore (jog intervals)
off [2500 calories]

lifting for size, so 10-12 (slow tempo) reps for 60 minutes. tried this routine a couple months ago, but it seemed a bit to tough on reduced calories (2500). now i'm going to try it again with surplus calories (3250+). switched the leg and back days because it was ridiculously difficult doing legs after both chest and back. slacked off on grip training, so i need to start that back up.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : another caloric estimateTue, 05 Aug 2008 01:20:05 GMT # 

still trying to figure out what VO2 value to use with the heart rate monitor (HRM) for caloric estimation. the test gave a VO2 peak of 33. now this is where the test gets iffy. if you really get pushed to your limit, then its also your VO2 max. the problem is testers won't push you to the limit, because they dont want their gym-goers falling over and dying. instead, they push you just past your anaerobic threshold, and the software estimates your VO2 max (mine was 57). this is where i'm still confused because 33 is on the low end of the continuum and 57 is on the opposite extreme. depending on which i use, the caloric estimate has a diff of at least 500 calories per workout.

ignoring my possible VO2 values, i think i'm going to use a simpler technique. the O2 test also provides actual calories burned across different target heart rate zones. and the HRM provides the average heart rate across the entire workout. so i'll just multiply average heart rate by the # of calories i burn per that target zone. the initial results seem to look like reasonable estimates to me. not sure, but i might be able to enter my actual target zones into the HRM and have it report the amount of time i was in each zone, which would be the most accurate.

DesktopWeb FormText   ordered an iphoneMon, 04 Aug 2008 17:05:08 GMT # 

the battery on my SmartPhone has started to fail, plus my contract has expired, and the phone is no longer sexy. actually looked for a WinMo device ... nothing jumped out. then i looked overseas for an unlocked WinMo device ... still nothing. its not the devices themselves, it the OS. what was WinMo done lately? there's been too many releases of stuff getting changed 'under the hood', with only minor changes for the end user.

i'll be leaving Verizon for AT&T. the AT&T plan will actually be cheaper, and i'm going to love rollover minutes. Verizon is expensive, but their reliability had been worth it, except for the times i went over my minutes and they would rape me with overage charges. it is annoying that AT&T doesnt include text messages with the data plan and you cant tether to a PC to provide internet access.

it also sucks that AT&T only offers 2 year plans at the moment. but when the time comes, the iPhone will get 'stolen' and i'll pay the Early Termination Fee (ETF) which seems to be pro-rated. the real shock was when they ran a credit check before i ordered the phone ... WTF was that about? it's a phone. now i get to wait 10 to 20 days for it to show up.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : VO2Sun, 03 Aug 2008 17:46:09 GMT # 

found out that the Polar caloric estimates do take into account VO2, but i still haven't found the actual equation they use. also found out that the test for VO2 max provided by the watch (OwnIndex) isnt accurate. out of the 3 times i've used the watch, its results ranged from 37 to 50 and my resting heart rate was about the same for all tests. now the watch does have some trending functionality, so it might have a better estimate over time. but from reading online, the O2 test at the gym should be the most accurate value.

from the O2 test at the gym, my VO2 threshold is 32 and my VO2 peak is 33. you want those numbers to be close, because that means you're in better shape ... so i'm totally kicking ass there. but the problem is my numbers are low. for my age, a VO2 peak of 33 puts me in the bottom 10% compared against the general population (2006) ... i totally suck! er, um ... to be an asshole, that's actually hard for me to believe ... because i've been to wal mart. i've never been an aerobic athlete, but i'm really good at recovering from anaerobic work. the other question is semantics. is the VO2 'peak' from the O2 test the value that my watch wants for VO2 'max'? from the O2 test, the software also provided an estimated value of 57 ... and i'm wondering if that estimated value was specifically VO2 'max'? if not ... what purpose does that estimated value serve? have to follow up on that with the trainers at my gym. but if 57 is my VO2 max, then that makes me an elite athlete. er, um ... now its time to be humble, because i really wouldn't think i'd be elite when it comes to cardio either. for cardio, i would guess somewhere in the middle of the pack.

anyway, i changed my heart rate monitors settings to resting heart rate : 49, max heart rate : 151, VO2 max : 33. from a 1 hr leg workout (moderate intensity) it estimated i burned 600 calories. that actually seems like a reasonable value to me. from the original values (rest:60, max:188, VO2:37) i only burned 400 calories with a high intensity leg workout. so lowering my resting heart rate and max heart rate bumped up my calorie expenditure. from yesterdays chest workout (rest:49, max:151, VO2:57), those values would have put any leg workout well over 1000 calories. so it looks like a higher VO2 would have estimated burning more calories as well. about all i can do now is find out if VO2 peak from the O2 test software is the same value required by the heart rate monitor for VO2 max ... or if its the estimated value from the software.

hmm ... so caloric estimates from workout sessions seem far from reliable. i'm starting to think that the only way i'll get a decent guesstimate about how many calories i actually burn working out is to count calories, watch my bodyweight for a couple more months, and make a guess based off of the O2 test results for how many calories i would burn a day at rest. from the months of weight loss, my current guess would be that i burn an additional 500 to 750 calories each workout. but the real test will be if those numbers match up when i'm trying to add weight.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : caloric guesstimationSat, 02 Aug 2008 17:39:54 GMT # 

made the changes to my heart rate monitor (HRM) and its caloric estimates went off the chart.

2 weeks ago. 1 hr chest workout. resting heart rate : 60 (default), max heart rate : 188 (default), VO2 37 (5 minute OwnIndex test). estimated to be 300 calories.

today. 1 hr chest workout. resting heart rate : 50, max heart rate : 151, VO2 57, estimated to be 950 calories. throw in 30 minutes of cardio and that put me at 1450 calories burned in 1.5 hrs ... compared to 150 calories burned sitting at a computer for the same amount of time.

er, um ... that's a 600+ (3X) caloric difference. the moral of the story is ... i still dont have a decent clue how many calories i burn working out ... and ultimately how many calories i should be consuming. since the numbers were so different, i talked to another trainer, and he said i should use the actual VO2 # (33) instead of estimated (57) ... but he's going to discuss it with the trainer i talked to yesterday because their software recently changed. his gut feel was the 950 calories burned was the better estimate. it'll be at least 3 months before i take the O2 test again. i'm also going to keep a log of resting heart rate for a couple days to get more accurate there. finally, it'll probably take a month of workouts (jogging and squats) before i record my true max heart rate. i'm assuming it'll still be lower than 160.

hmm ... i need 'working out for engineers'. it really bothers me when the numbers dont match up. when do i get the nano machines living in my body reporting out what the hell is actually going on in there?

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : more heart rate nonsenseSat, 02 Aug 2008 05:29:03 GMT # 

was reminded last weekend of another why i dont wear a watch while working out. had the heart rate monitor (HRM) on and was doing dumbbell bench. about half way through my last set, i started to lose feeling in my left hand. ends up my forearm had gotten a little pump and the watch band was cutting off some of the circulation. just got the universal heart rate data logger and i'm hoping that will replace the need for a watch.

still trying to get a better idea of how many calories i burn while exercising. now i know to trust the HRM and not the caloric estimates of the cardio machines. but now i'm trying to make sure i have the right settings in the HRM. you have to enter standard things like weight, age, height. but you can also enter resting heart rate, max heart rate, and VO2. for resting heart rate, i think the watch defaulted to 60 (average for an adult is between 60 and 100). but mine is super low. it's always below 50, usually around 45. it even has its own medical term : Bradycardia ... that's a little scary! for max heart rate, the watch was at 188. a trainer recommended for me to workout with the chest strap, and then check the results for max heart rate. so far, my max heart rate was 151 after doing squats. the tough one is VO2. the watch has a test that put me at 37 (fair). when i did the O2 test at the gym, they only maxed me out to 33 (low), but it estimated my VO2 at 57 (elite). so i'm not entirely sure which number to trust? but the trainer i've been going to with HRM related questions said to go with the 57 estimate. that gives me all the settings i need ... now the question is if these new settings will have any significant effect on estimating how many calories i burn? just to add more variables ... my lifting sessions will change from 7-9 reps to 10-12. i'm guessing that change alone will have me burning more calories.

another problem i have is with fitness articles. nutrition and training related articles should tell you the authors body type (endo, ecto, meso ... or mixed). i'm mixed endo-meso. but i'll be reading a nutrition article only to find out its written by a 'hardgainer' (aka ecto), so i have to disregard most of that article. right now i'm trying to find good articles about gaining lean muscle mass. most of these articles are written by hardgainers and are basically saying to eat, eat, eat ... which doesnt work with the endo in me, because i would just add on the fat i just lost. instead, i found an article that says to eat, eat, starve ... which is probably a better plan for me. instead of getting an additional 500 calories every day, i'm only going to do that on workout days; and on off-days, i'll keep calories at or slightly below maintenance level. it's the mirrored version of a 'cheat day' when losing weight ... the 'dont get fat day' when adding lean muscle.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : from catabolic to anabolicFri, 01 Aug 2008 02:06:27 GMT # 

been trying to figure out calories for this next month. i've been in a catabolic (weight loss) state for the last 3 months. the first 2 months were primarily fat loss, but last month seemed to burn up more muscle. next months plan is to switch back into an anabolic (growth) state to avoid even more muscle loss. had been doing 2500 calories for weight loss because i need 3000 calories for maintenance on workout days. now i'm going to need a calorie surplus to go anabolic. 3000 calories on non-workout days, and 3500 calories on workout days. if i get an additional 500 calories each day, then the idea is i'll regain a couple pounds of lean muscle mass. getting the extra calories should be easy because i've read a couple articles lately that the average american consumes approximately 3750+ calories each day.

now i am back to counting calories to figure out how i should be getting those extra calories while continuing to eat 'clean'. fat stays at 20%. protein increases slightly. carbs increase alot, because that is where i had been getting the caloric deficit. consuming extra protein and carbs has automatically increased fat intake, so i dont need to supplement extra good fats anymore. also been getting extra carbs from fruit, so i'm going to allow sugar intake to increase above 50 grams.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : caloric estimatesWed, 30 Jul 2008 02:20:20 GMT # 

been using the heart rate monitor and comparing its calorie estimates vs those of different cardio machines. the rule is to trust the heart rate monitor and ignore the estimates of cardio equipment. i agree with that because i've been able to recreate the same heart rate levels of a workout on different pieces of equipment, and the caloric estimate of the HRM was identical while the different machines varied widely. e.g. estimates from treadmills were within 10% of the HRM, while an elliptical machine and recumbant bike estimated twice the # of calories burned.

i don't understand why the HRM only sends heart rate info to cardio equipment, but it doesnt send age and weight info as well. i'm assuming the chest strap and watch have bidirectional communication. if so, the chest strap could get age, weight, HR zone from the watch and pass it on to the cardio equipment. and since the watch is doing its own caloric estimate, it could pass that on to the cardio machine as well.

so what do i burn? lifting for an hour (7 to 9 reps), i burn 250 to 400 calories depending on muscle group. arms/chest are on the low end and back/legs are high. for a half hour of cardio, i burn 150 to 200 calories with light to moderate intensity (haven't done any high intensity cardio yet). but just sitting on my ass, picking my nose, i burn 100 calories an hour. for a complete workout, i'll burn an extra 350 to 600 calories a day. those numbers actually mesh up : need 2500 calories at rest, i've been eating 2250 to 2500 calories a day, burning an extra 300 to 600 working out ... which ends up averaging about a 500 calorie deficit per day, or losing 1 lb each week.

now i'm taking off 5 days to let my body heal and recharge. the thing is ... i'm physically addicted to endorphins. tomorrow, i'll be bouncing off the walls feeling the 'need' to go workout.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : 3 month weight-loss wrapupMon, 28 Jul 2008 04:44:10 GMT # 

bodyweight hit 219, so i met this months goal to get under 220. the problem is i burned up more muscle this month than in previous months. although i was eating more calories, i was craving more calories too. i'm assuming that was my body trying to avoid cannibalizing existing muscle? in 3 months i lost over 20 lbs : 8 lbs the 1st week, and just over 1lb each week from then on. now the obligatory ... i'm back to my (high school and college) football playing weight. not sure what my starting bodyfat percentage was, but my last self-measurement was below 14%. lost a couple inches off the waist, and more than a couple off the belly.

next months plan is to build back up and regain some of the muscle i've lost. i'll mostly be eating clean, but will increase calories to avoid a deficit ... YEA! plus i'll get to eat fruit ... DOUBLE YEA! that means more energy in the gym and better recovery. jogging will be limited to once a week (if at all), and restricted to a workout day after a leg day; because my legs have been held back. supplements will stay about the same, except protein might slightly increase. a high sugar post workout drink will be ok too. lifting will probably be a 5 day routine with 12 reps. hope to keep body weight between under 225. i'm assuming that i'll regain some water weight and glycogen store that i rapidly lost the first week of reduced calories.

for the Wii-Fit weigh-in ... BMI dropped below 30%, so my Mii was down/upgraded from 'obese' to 'overweight'. so now the Mii 'after' photo has a smaller belly. they could at least make him smile ... or at least stop frowning.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : heart rate monitorsSun, 27 Jul 2008 18:06:11 GMT # 

got an idea of how many calories i consume each day and how many calories i burn at rest. but i dont have a clue how many calories i burn working out. so i needed to get a heart rate monitor. first, which brand to get. that was easy ... Polar, because my gym has some deal with them, and all the cardio machines will work with Polar chest straps. of course i had to test this out. i've got another heart rate strap from Sigma, so i wore that in one day. it synced up fine with one brand of treadmills, although it might not have been 'coded' because it seemed to jump when somebody else would walk by whom seemed to be wearing a heart rate watch too. on the other brand of treadmill, it synced up, but the results fluctuated wildly back and forth by about 50 bpm ... so that wasn't going to work.

second, which Polar heart rate monitor to get? there's a boat load of them. for data, all i really want is duration of workout, calories burned, and current heart rate. also wanted one that would let me enter in a target heart rate zone. the ones that matched the best were F6,F11,F55. didnt get the F6 because it came with the cheaper chest strap. didnt get the F55 because it was just more expensive for features i didnt need. the F11 had the features i needed, and comes with the WearLink 'coded' chest strap that stays in place better when i'm working out. the F11 can also sync up with your computer using a mic and audio. it chirps out some audio, the mic pics it up and processes the data to upload to a Polar website that tracks your progress. er, um ... if i can find out that protocol, i definitely want to write some code to recognize the audio :) audio based networking is sexy.

now its time to workout. went through a whole set of workouts. as expected i burned more calories in correlation to the size of the muscle group i was working out. legs > back > chest > arms. and since i know my target heart rate zone for fat burning, i've been really tweaking the intensity settings on cardio machines. but that's where the problem is introduced. on a Precor elliptical, my HRM syncs up and displays the same rate as on the watch. i enter my age and weight into the elliptical, which have already been entered into the watch. after a 30 minute workout, the watch shows that i've burned 150 calories, and the elliptical says i've burned 300. crap! this happened the 1st day, but i didnt realize it until i had already left. recreated it today and got the same results. honestly, i dont know which one is correct ... but i'm hoping its the elliptical. and why in the world is there a 100% difference. er, um ... so i still dont have a clue how many calories i burn during a workout. the only guesses i've got right now is that the watch is showing how many 'fat' calories i've burned, and the elliptical is showing total calories burned. or i've entered some user setting into the watch that is used for calorie calcuation, which is not used by the elliptical.

the other problem with the HRM is i hate wearing watches ... watches are for people that want to tell the non-wearing watch people what time it is. i'd prefer that it was just a chest strap, with a button(s) for start/stop workout. maybe a lock buttons switch. and a mini usb port that would let me sync up the data to a PC when i got home. because i'm wearing the heart strap when i lift to know how many total calories i burned, but i'm not going to adjust my workout based on the rate, so i dont need the UI. instead, i'd like to hit the start button on a strap, do my lifting workout, then hit a button to end that workout session and record those results. then i want to hit start again, do cardio on a machine, use the UI on the cardio machine itself to see the heart rate and adjust accordingly, then hit a button to end that session. finally, upload to a PC when i get home ... all without a watch. since Polar doesnt have that product, it looks like it might be possible with this : Heart Rate Logger. looks like i'll be able to clip that onto the chest strap, and that will log my heart rate over time. then i can download the data from that device to my PC. i'm hoping that will let me skip out on the watch. it'll also give me more data, because the Polar data file doesnt seem to provide heart rate over time.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : more dataWed, 23 Jul 2008 00:54:37 GMT # 

didnt like that i was just guessing how many calories i needed, so i took 2 tests at the gym to get better numbers. both tests involved wearing what looked like an S&M (bring out the gimp) mask with a tube coming out of it and hooked to a computer measuring oxygen and carbon dioxide, along with a chest strap measuring heart rate. the first test took 15 minutes relaxing in a dark room. it measured Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). the result was i need 1850 calories for my body to function, and 2450 calories for a sedentary lifestyle (i.e. office work). i'd been guessing 3000 calories, and that is probably low on workout days. the second test took 15 minutes walking uphill on a treadmill. it started out low intensity and increased to high intensity. the result was how many calories and what percentage fat i was burning at different intensity levels. so it determined what my heart rate should be (104) to burn the most calories with the highest fat percentage. i've never really paid attention to heart rate, but i'll start paying more attention. the more interesting part is the software created a cardio workout schedule. the goal of the workout is to modify my training zones so that i'm burning more calories and a higher percentage of fat at a higher heart rate.

ends up my heart rate should remain low to be in the fat burning zone. most of my cardio workouts the last 2+ months have been more intense and burning a lower percentage of fat calories. need to do a better job there. i've also probably been underestimating how many calories i burn during lifting. so i'm going to start wearing a chest strap to get an idea of how many calories i'm actually burning while i lift and to make sure i dont stay way above the fat burning zone during cardio.

got about a week left of this months routine. weight just dipped down to 220, so there is a good chance i can reach the goal to get under 220. that said, it seems like i burned up muscle this month. strength has definitely dropped on some lifts, and i dont feel like i've gained strength on any lifts. the lesson learned is that i shouldnt reduce calories for more than 2 months in a row. i've also stopped counting calories because its become mostly routine. from the month i was counting, i know what i should be eating and when. now i just make sure to lookup and record the nutrition info whenever i eat a 'new' food.

finally, 100 pushups. i've seen it on a couple blogs and my friend said he's doing it. hadn't done pushups in years, but i knew that i used to be able to do sets of 50. also know that i've never done a set of 100. for kicks, i tested and stopped at 60 reps with 5 to 10 left (current bench max is around 365+). stopped because i'd already worked-out out chest that morning, so i was supposed to be resting. even if i was fresh, i'm positive i couldn't make 100 reps. anyway, i'm not going to do it. that many reps seems pointless. feel the same doing bodyweight dips. after so many reps, i might as well do a weighted exercise instead. hmm ... that's why i stopped doing pushups in the 1st place.

pic below shows my workout calendar. i record bodyweight, cardio/ab/grip work, lifting body part and exercises performed.

DesktopWeb FormText   batch DVD rippingSun, 20 Jul 2008 04:47:49 GMT # 

wanted networked DVDs. setup a NAS for storage. have a Popcorn Hour for playback. all i needed was an automated way to rip the DVDs. so i wrote a simple program (/dvdMassRip) to control a DVD Changer and call out to an external app to perform the rip. the end result ... much better than sneakernet.

DesktopWeb FormText   DVD StreamingThu, 17 Jul 2008 19:06:55 GMT # 

saw Sean Alexander's post about Discussing DVD Streaming with Media Center. reading the source, its pretty clear MCE is highly unlikely to get DVD streaming. sadly, its just another reason i stopped using MCE.

instead, my Popcorn Hour and Klegg MediaShare devices stream DVDs from NAS devices with full menu support. just had some harddrives free up, so i put together a NAS for DVD rips. hacked up a quick app last weekend to batch rip my DVDs, using a Sony (MCE) DVD Changer, its been running 24/7. guesstimating that it'll finish this weekend. when it does, i'll test the results and put the code out.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : muscleheadTue, 15 Jul 2008 00:53:29 GMT # 

this is brilliant. i'm at the gym and starting my second set of weights. adjust the weight on a machine and just pull down on the handles to test the stack. seems like it might be too heavy for 8 reps, so i bend over and lighten the stacks. do my 1st set, and its way too light. feeling stupid, i bend over and adjust the stacks again, only to raise up and hit my head on the machine. that hurts ... my pride. about half way through my workout i go to wipe some sweat off and see my towel has blood marks on it. my 1st thought is that the gym needs to use bleach. then i realize the blood is fresh. find a clear spot on the towel, wipe my head ... yep, busted it open. the sad thing is, this is at least the 2nd time i've busted my head open at a gym.

the last set of workouts was no good because i got sick. had a fever for a couple days. the fever itself wasnt so bad, but the problem was it slowed down the previous workouts recovery and amplified soreness. my legs felt the sorest they've been in about a year. simple acts like sitting down were painful. went to the gym those days and did some light workouts to get the endorphins flowing. pullups and chinups are both to 13 reps now. dips are way too easy now, something like 45+ reps.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : calipers (round 2)Sat, 12 Jul 2008 03:55:16 GMT # 

BMI has my bodyfat percentage at 30%. body-part measurement estimations put me at 21-24%. so i'd been trying calipers for the last 3 weeks. using calipers, i'd been consistently measuring 14 to 16%. this seemed low to me, so i thought i was using them incorrectly OR my calipers were broken. finally went to the gym and had a trainer measure with their calipers ... 15%. for my age, the normal range should be 15 to 19% ... so i'm at the lower range for normal. the problem is i've still got some belly. supposedly you have to get below 10% for abs to show definition. i'd have to drop another 10 lbs to get that low. current plan is to finish out this month of fat loss, next month will be a baseline month, and then i might spend the next 2 months after that trying to get to 10%. i won't do another 3 months of weight loss in a row ... it's starting to wear me down.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : first week of new planMon, 07 Jul 2008 01:34:27 GMT # 

had a mega cheat day last week. who would have thought a small 'cold stone' shake had 1200+ calories? that seemed to give my metabolism a good kick because i quickly dropped a couple pounds. metabolism has been noticably more active the last couple months. can notice it burning when i'm just sitting around. after drinking that shake, it basically turned on fire to start burning those calories. i've also become highly dependent on many small meals throughout the day. if something makes me miss a meal, it really starts to effect me. the new workout schedule is better. seemed to have more energy on both my leg and back days. and having a day just for arms is too much fun. strength is slightly down, but i'm just blaming that on reduced calories ... will be easy to regain.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : new planWed, 02 Jul 2008 19:27:03 GMT # 

got the new plan figured out. the goal is to drop another 5 lbs and get below 220. nutrition is going to stay about the same, except i'm going to slightly increase calories to 2500. 50 to 65 grams of fat, 200-225 carbs, sugars below 50, and 275-300 protein. for supplements, i'm going to stop taking NO because it still doesnt seem to do anything for me. i am going to start adding additional creatine (5 grams) to my pre and post workout drinks. cardio stays split (light in AM empty stomach, heavy PM post lifting). for weights, i'll lower the reps to between 7 and 9 as a compromise between size and strength. switching to 4 days on 1 off, to get more rest days. also, putting legs between chest and back. doing chest, then back, then legs was tough last month.

chest, shoulders
legs, calves, abs
back, traps
tris, bis, forearms

when this month finishes i'll just work on body composition for at least a month. the goal will be to maintain 220 lbs while continuing to lose fat and adding muscle. right now i'm guessing that i'll have to add 250 to 500 calories. most of the additional calories will probably come from carbs. figure my weight will go up some from the body re-storing glycogen/water. had to have lost some muscle mass too ... so that'll come back. will also cut down on jogging, and replace with elliptical, to get my leg strength to build back up. bigger leg muscle will burn more calories on the next weight loss cycle. weights should probably go back up to higher reps for size and i'll have more energy for that type of workout.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : 2nd month wrapupSun, 29 Jun 2008 05:02:25 GMT # 

body weight hit 224, so i made this months goal to get below 225. that comes to about 15 lbs in 2 months (7 lbs the first week, and then 1 lb/week). did not initially state the weight goal this month because i did not think i would meet it. last months routine added calories (250-500 more) and reduced cardio (30 minutes max), so i thought my weight would stabilize. i'm assuming weight loss continued because i worked on nutrition. those changes compelled me to eat more (good) fat, eat more protein, cut sugars to below 50 grams/day, and mainly reduce carbohydrates (with occasional cheat days). so even though i was eating more calories, i was getting more energy out of those calories and disrupting the fat burning process less. granted my energy level is down slightly, but i dont feel like my body ever slipped into fat conservation mode. strength is still up, although i ended the month failing early on some sets. i actually think that my body did better with muscle maintenance when i was training for strength the 1st month vs training for size the 2nd month. so maybe i should stick to lower reps when i'm on a caloric deficit and do higher reps when i'm feeding the machine ...

visibly leaner this month. upper belly is gone and the lower belly is reducing. er, um ... love handles don't seem to be budging. that's where i store fat first, and since i mostly store fat in my belly ... suck. need to do more twisting exercises to get them to at least firm up some. the good news is that my upper body is showing more definition especially in arms and shoulders. legs are showing more definition from all the cardio.

uncertain about the calipers, but 21% is still my max reading and i only managed that once on the 1st day. i'm consistently measuring below 20%. that seems low to me, so i've been pinching more aggressively. chest comes in at 10, thigh is 10-15, and belly is 20-25. i'm assuming my chest and thigh measurements will remain mostly constant since i dont store fat there in the 1st place. lower abs should continue to thin up, so the belly measurement has the potential to drop quite a bit. unless i'm totally measuring wrong, i might already be in the upper range of 'normal' weight. of course i've still got some belly, so my body type skews the entire process. anyway, i need get a trainer from the gym to show me proper caliper usage.

now i get a couple days off from working out to recover and load up on carbs. need to figure out the plan for next month.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : diet updateSun, 22 Jun 2008 17:57:06 GMT # 

sort of stuck at 226. my weight loss pattern has been to drop a pound, add it back on the next day, lose that pound again the next day, and then stay at the lower weight for a couple days before dropping again. but right now i keep bouncing back and forth between 226 and 227. anyway, i've got about a week left to get below 225 ... so it'll be close. going to keep food intake the same and increase cardio by about 10 minutes.

measurements are decreasing. waist is slowly dropping although there arent many visible changes in my belly. right now my upper abs have mostly thinned out, and i'm stuck with lower and side belly fat ... ugly. in the past, my upper abs go, then lower, and finally obliques. upper body is visibly thinning down and my arms have dropped below 17 1/2 ... lame, must work on that next month.

picked up some AccuFitness calipers for self-measurement. i need to take them to the gym with me and have a trainer help me out, to make sure i'm using them right. been trying myself and the results vary quite a bit. at least the highest i've measured myself is 21%. compared to BMI which puts me at 31%, and the body part measurement estimates that put me at 21-24%. the problem i have with these tests is they dont seem to take into account body type. anyway, my caliper measurements are about 10 and lower for chest and thigh, and 20+ for belly ... because thats where i mostly store fat.

liftings been good, at least i'm recovering faster after 12 rep workouts. energy is slightly down, so i'm looking forward to having a couple days off soon. strength might still be increasing on some lifts. i'm estimating my decline max might be 385 now. but most of my gains have been in shoulders and traps, they are noticably adding size.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : diet modsThu, 19 Jun 2008 01:03:29 GMT # 

basing my diet off of the estimate that i need 3000 calories per day with a split of 20% fat, 40% carbs, 40% protein. if that's the case, then i need about 66 grams of fat, 300 carbs, 300 protein to maintain my current weight. but for weight loss, i need a caloric deficit. a deficit of 500 calories a day, would be about 1 lb a week, because there are 3500 calories in 1 lb of fat. the caloric deficit should come from reducing starchy carbs. so i'm shooting for 55 to 66 grams of fat, 200 to 225 carbs, 300 protein. its counter-intuitive, but i'm having to supplement extra fats, but there's the risk if you dont get enough fats, then your body goes into fat conservation mode. instead, we want to train the body to burn off the fat, by reducing carb dependence. by keeping protien high, and lifting, the hope is that muscle will be preserved. also keeping sugars below 50 grams because it interferes with fat loss. mostly off all artificial sweeteners too. its also counter-intuitive, but almost none of the foods i'm eating are marketed as 'low fat'. had to get rid of most of those because they had too much sugar. instead, if there's a 'high protein' option for a food, then that's what i get.

the mods i've made is to vary my foods, which in turn will vary my fat/carb/protein split. e.g. i might go one day keeping fats at 55 grams, then bump it up to 66 the next day. except protein, i keep it at 300 grams. for carbs, i've added 'cheat days' where i increase them up to 300 grams. the concept is that this confuses the body about how many carbs it will get, so it wont become efficient at running on low carbs. instead i want it to inefficiently burn through the carbs on low-carb days and then have it to turn to the stored fat. this should also keep me from dropping too much energy and feeling run down. the final change has been to eat carbs and protein together. this does something to the effect of helping protein uptake when carbs spike your insulin level. another change i might do is to replace some starchy carbs with more fibrous carbs.

the hardest part of the diet has been cutting fruit. when i switch back to bulking up, fruit is going to rock! switching to 0 calorie liquids was tough at first, but green tea and cold-brewed coffee have made up for that loss. counting calories is annoying, but its actually allowed me to eat more than i would think i should. in the past, i've always hit a wall in the 1st month because my energy levels would dip too much. probably because i wasnt getting enough fat/carbs, and too much sugar, so my body would go into fat conservation mode. 'no alcohol' sucks ... there needs to be a protein-based alcoholic drink :) but alcohol pretty much screws everything up : empty calories (i.e. no nutrients), stops fat burning process, dehydrates, causes bad food decisions ... crap!

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : dropping acid (from coffee)Sun, 15 Jun 2008 15:02:23 GMT # 

never liked coffee pre-starbucks. got hooked by their desert drinks until i realized how many calories they had. so i switched to iced coffee (e.g. skinny lattes or plain ol iced coffee). the problem is i didnt really like the taste of plain iced coffee and their skinny lattes still have 90+ calories (that adds up). abot a month ago, i tried cold brewing coffee. the cold brew process is interesting because it reduces the acid. it also generates a coffee concentrate that you mix with water, so you can control how much 'coffee/caffeine' you get with each glass. plus you can freeze the concentrate into ice cubes and just get 1 or 2 at a time ... so i only brew about once a month. the acid reduction is noticable from the 1st glass, the cold brewed coffee is smooth. i like it so much that i dont have to add any cream or sweeteners, so it stays at 0 calories! the real tell is i tried plain (unsweetened) iced coffee from starbucks after a month on cold brew, and had to throw it out because the acid taste was overpowering. was more concerned about calories, but its certainly saves money too. the toddy system payed for itself in less than a month.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : dietSun, 15 Jun 2008 00:06:58 GMT # 

was confused about how much fat i should be getting. for grams, i was getting 10%, and that seemed right to me ... but the articles i'd been reading were saying 20%! finally figured out that the articles were talking calories. so the mismatch is because fat grams are 9 calories, while protein/carb grams are 4 calories. the bodybuilding article which most closely matches my diet recommended 40% carbs, 40% protein, 20% fat (calories) [there's actually a grams calulator at the link, i just totally missed it]. after the grams conversion, that becomes 45% carbs, 45% protein, 10% fat. i'm pretty consistent with 10% fat, but my protein/carb split is more like 40%/50%. since i'm on a caloric deficit, i think i'm supposed to keep it that way; and then balance them out when i go back to bulking up.

have reduced sugars to below (10%). this involved cutting out fruit entirely, and replacing a post workout drink that was 37 grams of sugar for one with 10 grams. my other big sugar fix is from skim milk (10 grams) with cereal. since cutting back on sugar, i actually noticed the sugar taste in milk for the first time. even some of the high protein cereals have too much sugar, so i'll have to eat more oatmeal (with water).

weight is down to 227. even though i've added more calories and reduced cardio, from last month, i've still been losing 1lb a week. my current guess is that my daily caloric use is 3000. at least that coincides with being a 500 calorie deficit. waist size seems to have dropped rapidly in just the last couple weeks. lower abs are starting to firm up too. also trying to figure out bodyfat percentage. BMI has me at 31% (obese), which is bogus. the body measurement estimates have me at 21-24%. i'm going to try calipers, but they dont work so well on me since my body type mostly stores belly fat (i.e. chest and thigh measurements will be low).

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : feed the machineThu, 12 Jun 2008 16:59:36 GMT # 

i follow the 'many small meals a day' plan. so i'm pretty much eating all day to keep the metabolism going. right now i'm eating to lose fat while maintaining muscle. a typical day looks like :

morning protein (35 grams blend), ceral (protein and fiber with skim milk) or oatmeal, 1/2 cup egg whites, veggie snack or fruit, lunch (mainly carbs and protein), afternoon protein (35 grams blend), pre-workout snack, pre-workout drink, post-workout drink, post workout protein (35 grams whey), tuna or chicken, more veggies, cottage cheese or yogurt (light), before bed protein (35 grams casein), middle-of-night protein (35 grams blend). i'll also snack on almonds and grilled chicken strips throughout the day.

ends up being 2500 calories. around 50 grams fat, 225-250 carbs (75-100 sugar), 275-300 protein. main fat sources are almonds, natural peanut butter, and lean meats. the goal is to keep it at 50 or slightly above. plus i supplement (good) fat with CLA and Flax oil. sugars are mostly from the post workout drink and fruit. going to switch post workout drinks to drop sugar intake to 50 grams and see how my body reacts to that. if energy drops, then i'll up the good carbs. need to find more food choices that are higher carb with low sugar. its been more difficult for me to find low-sugar products than low-fat. didnt realize how many low fat products had so much sugar. i don't follow 'calories-are-calories' so i try to get most carbs earlier in the day. try to get protein any chance i can ... wish the stores i shopped at had protein bread. for liquid, its all water. protein mixed with water, green tea, iced coffee (no cream or sweeteners), and more water. comes to 24+ cups a day.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : wrapupSun, 08 Jun 2008 05:22:05 GMT # 

finished the first set of the new workout routine. its brutal, because my body hasnt figured out how to train for size. actually, the training part isnt the problem, its the healing ... i'm freakin sore. when strength training, i rarely get sore. at least i'm getting a little better at working out with higher reps, because i can do reps until strengh failure. previously, i would have to stop because of lactic acid buildup. so the workouts were good ... i'm just feeling half-sick from being sore.

its basically training one body part a week. that's a big change, because that doesnt work for me when strength training. but i need to give it a chance for size training. that also means i cant half ass any of the workouts. thats difficult because size training takes more mental concentration to keep form in check, slow the tempo, perform more sets (per bodypart), perform more reps, and rest for less time. for strength, i could always lose some mental control and bully my way through a set if necessary. at least being sore is a good sign that i got something out of it

body weight has leveled off at 229. although, i did have to cheat last weekend after some serious cravings for pizza and ice cream. that's off limits for the rest of the month. had to re-evaluate what i've been eating, and i'm gradually swapping out certain foods for something with a lower glycemic index. still haven't figured out carbs, because there are times when i feel really flat during the day. but the pre-workout snack has come through for powering the workouts. sleep is still a problem, because i keep waking up in the middle of the night craving protein, even though i've been eating more protein than i was last month. i need an IV protein drip ...

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : supplement routineThu, 05 Jun 2008 01:41:37 GMT # 

this is what my supplement routine looks like. the hard part is trying to find a time to take Nitrix (NO) on an empty stomach. especially since i believe in eating 'many small meals' to keep the metabolism up. its also difficult to get enough protein. recommendations vary from .75 to 2 times your bodyweight. this has me drinking 150 grams (around 750 calories).

wake - nitrix (on an empty stomach)
wake+30 - protein drink, animal pak, flex pak
before lunch - protein drink
early afternoon - nitrix
afternoon - protein drink
(pre workout snack)
pre workout - Nano Vapor drink
post workout - CellTech drink
post workout+30 - whey protein drink
night - nitrix
before bed - zma, casein protein drink
middle of the night - protein drink

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : new routineTue, 03 Jun 2008 03:04:24 GMT # 

figured out the routine for this next month. this round is about body composition. eating stays low fat except a pre-workout snack is now mandatory. for supplements, i'll drink an additional 50 to 100 grams of protein each day (that'll be 250 to 500 calories). and although NO hasn't really worked for me before, i'm going to try BSN Nitrix. cardio stays split (light AM, heavy PM post lifting). lifting changes significantly. strength is out and i'll go back to 10 to 12 reps for size. 5 days on, 1 off (push/pull/legs/push/pull/off)

shoulders, triceps
lats, biceps

DesktopWeb FormText   kitty harmonyMon, 02 Jun 2008 17:09:43 GMT # 

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : as seen on tv : slendertoneSun, 01 Jun 2008 23:57:53 GMT # 

its akward to even admit that i bought a fitness product that's been advertised on tv. but i did. at least i bought if off amazon ... so i'm partially civilized. the problem is i'm not good at working out my abs, because i'm top heavy. me trying to do crunches on the floor is like watching a turtle thats been rolled onto its back. even though i workout my legs all the time, they're just not heavy enough to counterbalance the chest and back. when i was lifting heavy this last month, there were a couple times i felt a tug on my abs. that brings up the fear of hernia. i dont actually know what a hernia is, just that it has something to do with coughing :) so i needed to strengthen up the abs for their sake, and to take stress off my low back. enter the slendertone. from past football injuries (you should have seen the other guy), i know muscle stim works. and the slendertone is just a muscle stim unit targeted for home use.

first, i went with the newer slendertone system. its kind of interesting because they are going to release other sleeves to work with it. e.g. there is a skirt (not for me) and it looks like arm sleeves are coming next. it uses gel pads which you can use around 20 times. its difficulty setting goes to 100, and it works you through 20 to 40 minute programs. been using it for a month (5 days on, 1 day off). started out at a difficulty setting of 45 and i've gradually increased to 90. actually, i start out at 80, go for about 10 minutes (to get used to it), then up to 90. the question is does it work? contrary to WiiFit ... i'm not that fat, and i had some ab muscle to begin with. so when the slendertone is going, it definitely activates my abs. if you've never used muscle stim, its like a 'good' cramp. unless you turn it up too high, then its like a cramp cramp. to me, an actual cramp is the worst pain in the world. i've cramped 3 times in my life ... and i vividly remember what body part cramped, where it happened, and what i was doing at the time. for fat loss, this isnt the right product. cardio and nutrition is what's needed. but for strengthening the abs, it definitely works. my abs are definitely stronger and that has helped my form during certain lifts. my only complaint is that it doesnt seem to activiate my lower abs as well upper and obliques. guess i still have to work those manually.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : end of diet goalSat, 31 May 2008 01:57:10 GMT # 

so i completed the diet goal, to get below 230 in a month. at 229 now. started out feeling really strong and full of energy. i've actually kept gaining strength, but i haven't 'felt' strong for the last week and a half. energy levels have dropped too. still been doing all my cardio sessions, but i've cut morning cardio short the last couple days. lame, but i havent cheated myself on the high intensity cardio in the afternoon, which is hard as hell to pull off after a weight session. the worst part is trying to jog when you can barely lift your arms. plus i'm constantly tripping the kill switch on the treadmill because my arm will slowly drop and accidently hit the emergency off button. the worst part of this month is i've totally gotten out of the habit of taking a multivitamin ... need to fix that ASAP.

strength-wise, my back got significantly stronger. mainly due to it being the first body part after a day off and improved hand strength. i had also changed it up to work my biceps more and they've finally started to develop. more importantly, i've regained muscle awareness of my biceps, so that'll make them easier to work from here on. chest strength remained mostly constant and triceps made some gains. legs haven't been doing great, because of too much cardio, but they were able to max out the leg curl/extension machines yesterday. leg abduction/adduction is thoroughly maxed too. now i just need my squat form to settle in. started working shoulders too, but i tweaked my left shoulder, and have been taking it easy on them.

get to take the next couple days easy to recover, then its back to it. already got my supplements/nutrition/cardio planned for next month ... still formulating the lifting routine.

DesktopWeb FormText   UMPC warmerSun, 25 May 2008 19:06:26 GMT # 

for some reason, kitty kitty likes to sit on certain products. her favorite thing to 'hatch' is my UMPC in its sleeve. it doesnt matter where i move it to, she'll find it and sit on it.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : diet updateSun, 25 May 2008 18:49:17 GMT # 

the goal was to get below 230 by the end of this month. hit 230 a couple times now, so i'm expecting to reach the goal. strengh hasn't dropped, but my energy level has dropped some. i seem to be taking longer to recover too. the risk here is that my body will start burning up muscle instead of fat. so the pre-workout snack has been added back in. going to finish out this week and then i'll switch to a new routine.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : WiiFatSat, 24 May 2008 05:08:39 GMT # 

got to try out WiiFit for a second at a friends house. i'd already created a Mii. at the time, i remember adding some extra weight onto the Mii. so i stepped onto the Balance Board knowing it was going to use BMI ... and i was screwed. when it asked for height, i made it 6 ft, even though i'm really 5 ft 11 1/2 ... because i knew i needed that extra 1/2 inch for BMI. then it weighed me, and pegged me at obese. hell, and i just dropped 10lbs to get to 230. BMI sucks. but the worse thing is it totally fattened up my Mii and threw a super-sized gut on him. it made my Mii so fat that now he even runs like he's fat. said i needed to drop another 10 lbs to even get into the overweight category. in reality, if i drop another 10, that'd get me mostly lean.

here's a pic of my Mii ... i'm the super fat one. BEEFCAKE!

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn :Fri, 23 May 2008 03:31:26 GMT # 

finished another set of workouts. started out thinking that my back workout was really stinking ... then i realized the weight stack was marked in kilograms! so i unknowingly made a big leap on lat pull. actually, i dont think my back got that much stronger, i think my improved hand grip was the major change. bicep strength also shot up on the hammer preacher curl for a set with 3 plates. then i got through a set of 5 with the 70lb dumbbells. not good form, but almost passable. know this makes me a douche, but i get a kick out of grabbing the weights that somebody is benching and then using them for curls. how horrible is that? didnt make any gains on chest, but shoulders are slowly adding strength. going to have to switch chest back to being the primary body part after a rest day. triceps are fine, they pushed through 35+ dips. quads are still no good. need to take it easier on them until i reduce cardio and give them some more time to adapt. at least my legs are starting to show more definition. calves are getting stronger ... still not growing. hate that

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : what happened to my enemyMon, 19 May 2008 16:12:17 GMT # 

this last set of workouts sucked ... the whole set. there are good days and bad days, but this is the first set of workouts that have been bad since i started at the new gym. back was ok, but i couldnt get biceps to do anything. struggled through legs because my quads were tight again. chest and triceps didnt feel strong either. i'm assuming that the workouts were flat because i've been running on reduced calories for almost 3 weeks? i'll stick with it as long as strength is maintained. lifting right now is just a way to remind my body that it needs to keep the muscle.

the worst news is my enemy has been a no-show for weeks. i need him to come back to compete against. as a backup, i'm holding auditions for new enemies. there should be an influx soon, since kids will be getting back from college. punk kids make good enemies. college chicks have a tendency to prolong my cardio workouts too :)

for the diet, i'm hovering around 232. its odd, the first week i dropped almost 1lb a day, which wasnt healthy. not entirely sure what was happening? my calorie deficit was maybe 500 calories. now the diet has slowed to losing about 1lb a week, which is what i expected, and is healthy. the only reason i care about weight right now is that i want to make cardio (i.e. jogging) easier. it already feels alot more comfortable at 232 then it did at 240. the goal is still to get under 230 by the end of the month ... it'll be close. did make a change from last week. when i was losing too fast, i added in a pre-workout snack of 250 calories. since my weight loss has slowed to something reasonable i've cut that snack back out. pretty soon i'll start ignoring body weight again and just work on body composition.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : love heavy daysTue, 13 May 2008 23:37:17 GMT # 

took the 130lb dumbbells for a couple sets of 6 on flat bench. that's the end of the rack. been asking for heavier dumbbells, but the gym has said 'no' because of how they get thrown around. the dumbbells at this gym do abuse the dumbbells more so than other gyms i've been to. when i lift heavy dumbbells, the testoserone gets the best of me too, and i'll glance around to note the people that weight less than a single dumbbell. sorry, i cant help it. anyway, the game is more fun with 150s. then i went and maxed out the chest fly machine. dont even warmup at this weight anymore, just walk up and move the pin to the bottom along with adding the incremental weights. followed that up by maxing out the shoulder press cable machine. today, i maxed out the seated dip machine at 630 lbs for 8 reps (sounds more impressive than it really is). followed that up with tricep pushdowns on a lat pull, because the other cable tricep machines are maxed. so my upper body has readjusted back to strength training. that's not too surprising because i was at my peak strength less than a year ago. my legs haven't been at their peak for about 3 years, so they've got some catching up to do.

going to leave dumbbell flat bench alone for a while. need to concentrate on getting dumbbell shoulder press back into the 100s. plus dumbbell shoulder press feels more natural than straight bar shoulder press to me. the gains i make there will help push dumbbell incline bench into the 130s. i wont do dumbbell decline bench anymore. its too awkward to try and get onto the bench without having somebody hand you the weight. and when you go heavy, you really need 2 people to hand you both the weights at the same time. this makes it difficult to get your hand positioning right. last time i tried dumbbell decline bench, my shorts got snagged and well ... (shudder)

getting close to maxing out many of the machines. now i'm picking machines based on how difficult they are. even with the same weight stack a different brand of machine might be significantly more challenging than another. this complicates things in the gym. i asked a guy to work in on the chest fly yesterday, and he pointed out the empty one a row over. then i explained that machine was much easier than the one he was on. he didnt understand until i moved the pin. and i never use dual pulley machines ... what's the point? all they do is make the stack 1/2 as effective. finally, i'm forced to do single body part exercises on machines using more than half the stack. at least i'll be back to increased reps shortly, and then the stacks will have more than enough weight.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn :Sat, 10 May 2008 03:59:13 GMT # 

need some heavier dumbbells. can handle the 130s on dumbbell flat bench now, and am getting close to the 130s for incline bench. on single arm row, the 130s are nothing. now i'm doing the trick where you wrap a towel around your wrist and then piggy back a second (lighter) dumbbell on top of the first, wedged in between the dumbbell and your wrapped wrist (e.g. 20lb dumbbell stacked on a 130). back is still coming in strong. was able to get 12 pullups from additional strength and dropping 5 lbs bodyweight. used to do 15+ controlled pullups, so i've still got some ground to regain. granted, i can count the number of times i've seen somebody over 200 lbs doing (any) pullups on one hand. for chest, went over 315 on decline again. used to workout with 365 on decline, so i've got room there. the odd thing is my flat bench and decline are almost identical; usually my decline is 25-50lbs stronger. its probably because i was lacking a decline bench in WI for 3 years and my lower man boobs have gotten weak. working out with 275 on incline for reps. want to get that back up to 315 for reps. whatever muscle/joint i injured doing nosebreakers last week hasn't been an issue. tweak it periodicically through daily arm motions, but it hasnt bothered me at all while lifting. haven't done shoulders yet, so it might still screw that up. got back to squatting 365 for reps. quads were just a little bit tight but felt alot better than last week. they're not tight from lack of flexibility, because i'm still crazy flexible. would like to do some yoga at the new gym, but the classes are ridiculously crowded.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn :Mon, 05 May 2008 05:15:10 GMT # 

finished another set of workouts. quads seemed to lighten up a little bit, so i was able to get a medium intensity workout in and increase cardio intensity. for flat bench, i've been doing solid sets of 315, so i'll slowly start bumping up to 325. got up to the 85s on dumbbell shoulder press. IIRC, my personal best is around 105 or 110 ... hope to get back to that weight soon. one problem is i tweaked my left arm doing machine head crushers. the lift was fine, but it was awkward getting into lifting position. ended up having to get somebody to hand me the weight after tweaking my arm. so i dont think my tricep is actually hurt, just some secondary muscle. still was able to lift biceps afterwards with no issues. hope its not a shoulder tie-in. its bothering me a little, but i'm expecting it to heal quickly or be ignorable. biceps are finally showing some definition. my bicep is relatively long, so it takes forever for it to take shape.

weights been down to 235 a couple days now. that's too quick. need to increase calories before i start dropping energy. my split right now is about 55% carbs, 10% fat, 35% proteins. that ends up being about 175 grams of protein for muscle maintenance. when i'm really trying to add muscle, i shoot for a minimum 1 gram of protein for each lb of body weight. one problem i'm having is i've been waking up starving every night. my casein protein is only cutting it for a couple hours. when that happens, i've been downing another 42 grams of liquid protein. that doesnt seem to be working, so i might switch to some low fat meal replacement drink instead. i've got to be able to sleep better to heal.

DesktopWeb FormText   one month with the ChumbyThu, 01 May 2008 04:10:55 GMT # 

the Chumby has been a reliable alarm. i've got it setup to play one of my favorite mp3s when i wake up. its also got an option to stop playing after N minutes, but that isnt working for me, it just keeps playing. i've tried their beta too, which has some more alarm fixes, but that didnt help. seems like i should be able to set it up to play N # of songs and then stop.

although it can play local music, it doesnt seem to have an option to display local images? it does have widgets for displaying remote images, seems odd that it doesnt have digital picture frame functionality already.

the biggest killer for me is the unreliable wireless network connectivity. i've tried the ethernet-over-usb connection, but that's not working reliably either. since the Chumby is entirely an internet appliance, they've got to make the network connectivity rock solid ASAP. and when it fails, it has to recover.

so i'm just using the Chumby as an alarm and waiting for a firmware update before i use it for anything else.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn :Wed, 30 Apr 2008 04:26:18 GMT # 

finished the first week of the new routine. my quads are still problematic because they feel sore when lifting, even though they should be fully recovered. thighs are doing fine, so i've been having to change those workouts to target the thighs and ease off the quads. back workouts have been great because i'm not use to having the day of rest beforehand. finally managed 10+ pullups (not bad for my weight). chest has become secondary but its still making progress. broke through the 315 barrier on decline and pushed 120 on dumbbell incline. triceps have outgrown the cable machines, will have to start using the lat machines for the larger stack. biceps seem to be reacting to the new routine. had felt like i was just going through the motions, but i'm starting to gain control. hand strength has caught up, because i had no problems with the 120 dumbbells. left pinky is still gimped though. didnt think my pinky did much, but my right hand seems to be at least 25+ lbs stronger (insert masturbation joke here). i dont think its really a difference in strength, but its just that the motion feels more natural with full use of my pinky (insert thats what she said joke here). calves still suck. abs have gotten stronger, so they are reducing pressure on my low back for heavy lifts.

bodyweight finally dropped some. been 240 for 4 months, which is heavier than i should be right now. body composition has been changing. been gaining muscle primarily in my legs while leaning up bodywise. e.g. arms were over 18, thinned down to 17.5, and now they're close to 18 again. so i think i've finally reached the critical amount of muscle mass to churn through calories. of course the warm spring weather is helping to trigger a loss too. going to change my diet to coincide, so i'm cutting fats and reducing carbs. i'm getting better about knowing when i need carbs, so that i'll still have energy to workout. of course i still crave more carbs than i need. the goal is to get under 230 within a month, and then stay at that weight for a while, continuing to change composition. been doing cardio twice a day, but i've had to cut back (intensity and duration) because of the sore quads. quads really need to start properly recovering. actually thinking about getting a muscle stim unit to try and work through this.

DesktopWeb FormText   (not) the end of evangelionTue, 29 Apr 2008 03:08:05 GMT # 

just (sort of) finished the evangelion movies. the first part, Death, was a rehash of episodes 1-24 of the TV series. could have skipped it. if you didnt see the first 24 episodes, you'd have no clue what was going on. the second movie, End of Evangelion (EOE), picked up from that ending. the first half of EOE was seriously brutal. i had basically forgiven them for episodes 25 and 26 of the TV show, and then the second half of EOE went all weird again. we're talking 45 minutes of weird. weird like the end of the TV series, with a bigger budget. they even throw in a couple minutes to try and trigger eplileptic seizures. the part that really sucks is they get you all pumped up for Eva1 to kick some ass, then nothing. at this point, i wished i would have watched the first 24 episodes, never known 25/26/Death existed, then watched the first half of Eve of Evangelion, and never seen the second half of EOE.

but its (not) over. there's another movie : Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone. not sure if it has an English dub yet? i'm just hoping it caps the weird to about 10 minutes max.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : new trend : surgical tubingSun, 27 Apr 2008 18:36:12 GMT # 

been a gym rat for 15+ years, so i've seen a # of trends come and go. around 5 years back it was ab/bosu balls. so everybody was lifting while balancing on a ball. personal trainers still use that in some of their lifts, but most everybody else gave that up. then kettleballs became the new trend. a couple of the gyms that i've worked out at ended up buying a set, but they mostly just collected dust. and i think the only thing that brought them back into the spotlight was the last Rocky movie.

the new trend i'm seeing involves free weights and surgical tubing. so they are affixing the surgical tubing around a bench or machine, and then holding both handles or hooking the handles over the free weight bar. then they are lifting with resistance from both the free weight and surgical tubing. the tubing will change the intensity of the list based on how far the tubing is stretched. i.e. the tubing would add some additional resistance to the easier part of some lifts. but getting stronger on the easier part of the lift isnt the point. anyway, messing around with the tubing seems like more trouble than its worth. add more weight and train the sticking point

DesktopWeb FormText   a week with the Popcorn HourSat, 26 Apr 2008 21:01:28 GMT # 

pretty happy with the Popcorn Hour (PCH). in that week, i've used it primarily for video playback. its UI is decent, but its quicker to browse through media using the 360. what's great is the Popcorn Hour is very quiet, except when a harddrive (optional) periodically spins up, and that is loud. need to switch to using a 2.5 inch harddrive. random access for video (and music!) playback is very customizable. you can fast forward/reverse (some formats dont reverse yet), goto a specific time, and press 0-9 to jump 0 to 90%, as well as 30 second jumps forwards and backwards. it does not (currently) support resume from where playback was stopped, which i dont consider an issue since you have some many ways to skip around. it also supports multiple subtitle formats (with options), and multiple audio tracks. what's odd is the PCH doesnt have an off button. it occasionally got into a bad state where it would stop playing videos, but it wasnt fully locked. to get around this, there is a remote control button sequence you can press. just added that as an additional button to the harmony remote, and its no longer an issue. for normal operation, chances are that i'll hardly ever need to reset it.

for content, it can access UPnP Servers and file shares. one nice thing is it looks like it can access password protected media shares, like what the Promise SmartStor exposes. it does not currently see the UPnP AV service from Infrant ReadyNas. the ReadyNas has another service called 'Home Media Streaming', if i turn that on, the PCH can see it ... but the UI sucks. it can also see the ReadyNas as an SMB share, but i enabled NFS for faster speed. you can also install other services on the ReadyNas, but i'll hold out for the UPnP AV issues to be worked out. the PCH can see the 'Windows Media Connect' service from Windows Home Server. but i have some issues when i'm browsing around (white screens of nothingness). WHS doesnt support NFS by default, so i'm just using it as an SMB share, which is fast enough for SD and 720p content. for 1080p streaming, i did install the myihome UPnP server on my media center PC. myihome also comes in handy for shuffling music video directories. finally, i installed an old harddrive (IDE), so that i could try its web services, but never pushed any media to the harddrive.

for video formats, it has decent support. WMV mostly plays, but i've got a handful that it cant play but the 360 can. MPG mostly plays, but again, i've got some that do not play. granted, the 360 doesnt play MPG over UPnP at all (lame). AVI mostly plays too, including Div3 (not supported by 360). HD MKV plays great, including 1080p content served over UPnP. initially, i could only get 720p MKV content to play because i was using an SMB share, but 1080p works great over UPnP. HD MKV is a huge feature, because that is the format i'll rip my (dead) HD-DVDs to. anime MKV mostly did not play because they used the OGG Vorbis audio which is not supported by PCH (yet). for ripped DVDs, it has menu support and works ok, but i had some DVD files that it would stuttter on (this is bugged for the PCH team to fix). i could play the same DVD rip on the Klegg MediaShare without any issues at all. it also has some MOV support, but i havent had any luck with the few HD MOVs i tried.

that brings up audio formats (for supporting video), which did not fare so well. not sure i understand the issue, but it looks like they did not license DTS. instead, they just pass it out digitally, for your TV or home theater to decode. that mostly works for my setup, but i've had some DTS audio files that screw up my receiver. it does support MP3, and plays AVI files that the 360 might stutter on or fail to play because of an older mp3 codec. but the main issue i run into with MKV is the lack of OGM Vorbis support. if they can get DTS working better, and ultimately add OGG support, then it would improve its video support. i.e. if a video wont play, it has typically been the audio codec keeping it from playing.

for music videos, it can playback a directory of files on an SMB share with the ability to skip next/prev songs. but it breaks down by not being able to skip to a random file. but you can get around this by using the myihome UPnP Server. it introduces a PC back into the scene, but it also allows you to shuffle the files in the directory listing. then you've got a decent music video player. this is a huge feature for me. cough ... stage6 ... spider ... bot. when they update music playback to support shuffle, i'm assuming i can stop using myihome for music vids.

as far as music playback, it gets poor reviews, and the UI team has announced they are reworking it. but i actually like it as it is, because the same tecniques for random access that work for video also work for audio. so its perfect for listening to 60 minutes mixes (and audio books), because i can fast forward and skip around by 10 percent increments. random access for long running audio files is a huge feature for me.

haven't used it for photo viewing. supposedly the UI is lacking

haven't used it much, but it also has web services support for YouTube, Google, Live365, Shoutcast,\ etc.. ends up the YouTube support is not FLV, but it uses the MP4 formatted vids instead. developers can write their own services to display on the PCH as well. i've tried a couple of the services, but the response time is too slow for my taste. i'll have to give these services another chance.

the hope was that the PCH would become my primary player, but it hasnt. the 360 is still my primary player because it has great support for the most common video formats : AVI, WMV, and those formats in HD. if the PCH could speed up their UI and fix the UPnP issues i have with ReadyNas/WHS, then it would become my primary player. the PCH is a solid secondary player for (the many) features the 360 lacks : HD MKV, MPG (over UPnP), Div3, mix tracks, and music vids. the Klegg MediaShare is still a secondary player for DVD rips, until PCH fixes the stutter problem. i still need a way to play anime MKV (from the forums, it looks like PCH will add Vorbis support). to a lesser degree, i'd like OGG video and FLV video support too. but the best part of the PCH is there will probably be a firmware update next month, and some of my issues above will be fixed, along with new features. they are really good at listening to the community and releasing updates consistently. the 360, MCE Extenders, and PS3 are going to have to start extending their media functionality.

DesktopWeb FormText   myspace friend whoringFri, 25 Apr 2008 23:31:50 GMT # 

against my anti-social behavior, i was compelled to join myspace. not that i can critique anybodys grammar, but i'm getting sick of it saying 'you have 1 friends'. anyway, this is my 1st look at a social networking site, so please shoot me a friend request so i can properly check it out. at least i understand the 'more friends than Tom' joke now.

the concept certainly makes sense, although the visible tech isnt impressive. but the social aspect already got me. when i created a profile, it added Tom as my friend. i understand the need to add an initial friend, to jump start people ... but it felt like a total intrusion. my reaction was like 'you don't know anything about me, what makes you presume that we are friends'. yep, not sure why i would push back so much at some virtual stranger being signed up as my friend. but that is how i reacted. wow, when did i become such an asshole? i'm assuming other people might react 'alright, i've already got a friend'. not me, i revoked his friend privileges. and that's when it gets annoying. his posts still show up in my friend subscriptions. now that rightfully pisses me off, because its basically spam now. so then i blocked him ... but his posts still show up. er, um ... so now its not really myspace ... its tomsspace.

DesktopWeb FormText   windows home server mascotFri, 25 Apr 2008 06:05:56 GMT # 

well, i still love my windows home server. it backs up my dev machine, server, mce machine, tablets, and umpc. and it gets a ton of use serving media to UPnP MediaRenderers.

well, kitty kitty loves the home server too. actually, she loves the windows home server beer koozies. she's been playing with a one that i got when WHS was released at the end of last year. got 2 more at the summit and she can't get enough of them.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : stupid leg workoutsThu, 24 Apr 2008 01:35:19 GMT # 

legs haven't been feeling strong lately. but they had last week off, so it was time to get something done. either grow or break ... words to live by. so i started out on a (medium difficulty) leg press with 90 lbs for 8 reps. add 2 plates each set for 9 more sets to end up with 900 lbs for 8 reps. my previous max on the same machine had been 900 lbs for 5 reps (2 months ago). happy about that increase. actually, i was happy until i tried to walk down the stairs. you know its a good workout when you're basically doing dips to get down the stairs. and when your hoping your legs dont cramp when you're driving home. at this point, my body has gone into what i guess is mild shock, because i'm feeling somewhat ill. walking is going to suck tomorrow. forget about taking the stairs ...

... unless they've been overly protected :

3 handrails
paint caution on each step
painted caution message is facing the proper direction for each side
posted caution sign to the side
warn both sets of people that might be going up or down the steps
have more steps in the drawing, than the actual number of steps
what ... no 'watch for ice on steps'?

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : the friend of my enemy is my ...Wed, 23 Apr 2008 13:46:21 GMT # 

after i blogged about my lifting enemy, i felt bad. felt bad because my enemy has a cool workout partner. started out at the new gym by working out in the AM. at that time, the choices for spotters are soccer moms and non-soccer moms. but my enemy's workout partner would occasionally workout in the morning (this is before i even knew my enemy existed), so i asked him for spots whenever he was there. and it was all nice and polite : 'could i please get a spot', 'good lift', 'thanks'. plus he doesn't grunt when he lifts.

because the workout partner was cool, i decided to give my enemy a chance. they were lifting next to me a couple days ago. was on my last set of decline and needed a spot. my enemy had just gotten done with a (grunting) set, so i asked him for a spot. he declined. then he must have seen the disgusted look on my face, because then he had a look of misunderstanding, said he thought i said something else, and then agreed to spot me. i 'think' he thought i asked him to work-in with me? weird, because that's not the way it works. if you're on a machine, people might approach you to work-in, but you don't randomly ask people to work-in as they are walking by. then he says something to the effect of 'i'd be a total asshole if i didnt spot you' and he smiled. that's the best part ... he's wearing a gold grill ... while he lifts. awesome. i just don't know how it could get any better.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : new routineTue, 22 Apr 2008 05:11:04 GMT # 

took a week off from lifting at the summit. had been on the same workout routine for over 4 months, so it was time for a break. the old routine was 3 days on, 1 day off with sets of 8 to 12 reps.

1) chest, triceps
2) legs
3) back, biceps

now it's time for a change. the new plan is 3 days on, 1 off, 4 on, 1 off. sets will be from 5 to 9 reps. will stick with this routine for 3 months.

1) back, biceps, forearms
2) legs, calves
3) chest, triceps
1) back, biceps, forearms
2) legs, calves
3) chest, shoulders
4) triceps, biceps, forearms

the bad part of the new plan is it adds an extra workout day. that extra day ends up being an arm day, so it shouldn't have much effect on recovery time. my legs have not been recovering quickly enough, so the added arm day is really just a way to give my legs more time to heal. it also adds more bicep work, because my biceps dont seem to react unless i'm hitting them constantly. back now becomes the primary muscle group after a day off, which has been lagging behind chest workouts, so i'll have more energy on those days. forearms are added in because my grip is starting to fail on heavier lifts. calves are added in for no particular reason ... i've pretty much given up on ever getting them to grow, but i'll have to wear shorts more in TX. if i ever show up with calves one day, they'll be fake ... with nipples ... pierced. on the other hand, shoulders are added in, which is entirely unnecessary. my shoulders get enough work as a secondary muscle when targeting other body parts, and mine grow naturally to begin with, so giving them their own sets is just for fun.

DesktopWeb FormText   popcorn hour - mkvMon, 21 Apr 2008 00:26:22 GMT # 

tried out some MKV files with the PopCorn Hour

1) HD - it was able to play all of my 720p content, but only a few 1080p files. the problem seems to be a combination of resolution and what codec was used. my tests failed because the content was 1080p and used High@L5.1 with 8+ RefFrames. the 720p content played with the same codec and up to 10 RefFrames.

2) Anime - most non-HD movies would not play at all. checking the forums, this might be because they used an older version of mkvmerge. i'll have to try demuxing and remuxing with a newer version of mkvmerge. almost all TV episodes would play, but only half with audio. the half without audio failed because they use the Vorbis audio codec, which the PCH does not support. there are posts on the forums about reencoding the audio to get these files to play. but i'm going to wait before reencoding. supposedly the PCH team is working on improving FLAC support (recently added with a firmware update), but they are also considering adding OGG support. they are still working on DTS too, so it might be a while.

DesktopWeb FormText   neon genesis evangelionSun, 20 Apr 2008 19:04:58 GMT # 

just finished the TV series (haven't seen any of the re-edit movies). really liked it, up until it went 'last 5 minutes of Akira' for the final 2 episodes. serious, WTF happened with the last 2 eps? think i was supposed to be philosophically inspired, instead i was wishing that the last angel had wiped out mankind with episode 24. i'm not even sure the last 2 eps can be understood? i'll have to give them another shot on my own before letting wikipedia try and rescue them. they could have given me a warning that it was about to get weird ... or at least a big explosion.

DesktopWeb FormText   popcorn hourSun, 20 Apr 2008 06:44:42 GMT # 

picked up a Popcorn Hour to try out. they call it a media 'tank'. put 'tank' in a product name and i'll definitely consider buying it. already have two other set top media centers : xbox 360 and klegg mediaShare, plus an extended media center; so what makes the PopCorn Hour (PCH) interesting enough to pick up? first, MKV support. with Blu-Ray winning, i'm going to rip my HD-DVDs to HD MKVs. or it looks like they might end up supporting EVO too. also to watch anime that comes with embedded english subtitles and audio dubs. second, web service support. it can be used to get media from popular sites like YouTube, Flickr, Veoh, Live365, etc. not sure if it plays FLVs from YouTube or if it plays the format for the iPhone? third, MOV with RMP4. think i have some HD vids in that format? fourth, frequent firmware updates. it looks they are fixing bugs and adding features about once a month. it can already play all the files in a directory back to back, so i'm hoping they extend it to randomly jump to different files in that list. that would make this an excellent player for music videos.

DesktopWeb FormText   summit wrapupSat, 19 Apr 2008 20:56:34 GMT # 

pretty happy with this years summit. the WPF/Silverlight guys were saying everything i wanted to hear and more. they've got a couple things coming up that i'm really excited for. of course i took every opportunity to point out that it sure would be nice to get one of those runtimes on Media Center, Xbox 360, IPTV, and other 10 foot interfaces. maybe somebody will listen someday. until then, the UDP broadcast will continue.

i'm especially happy that Ballmer came to talk. every time i've heard him speak, i come out thinking he's a bad ass. even now that i know he's a bad ass beforehand ... he still impresses.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : archenemyFri, 11 Apr 2008 16:39:16 GMT # 

i've got an enemy at gym. so how do you become my enemy? not that we've actually met ... but it all began when we first met. was working out, minding my own business, when i heard somebody grunting ridiculously loud. this guy kept grunting his entire workout. every single rep, even his warmup sets. but that wasn't enough to earn enemy status. what pushed him over the edge was when i was leaving the gym. the weights are on the 2nd floor, so i was walking downstairs. just so happens the gruntng guy was leaving at the same time. but the oddest thing happened, he was grunting as he walked down the stairs. serious. now i've had killer leg workous before, where i've been wincing as i exit. but this guy was full on grunting after an upper body workout. hell, he was still grunting and his workout was over. yep, that's how you become my enemy. another time, he growled after he drank from the water fountain. at least i think it was a growl? couple weeks ago, i was doing cardio in a different room, but i knew he was there because i could hear him. the best thing is somebody mocked him after a loud grunting session. when he finished, somebody else started up and mock grunted out a set. hilarious. but it didn't phase my enemy at all, he continued grunting just as loudly for his next set. don't get me wrong, he's one of the strongest guys at the gym ... just so happens i am too. i'm certain he's recognized that, because he now seems to use grunting as a way to mark territory. the closer my proximity is, the louder his grunting becomes. and it's not just the soundwaves, because i'm closer, he actually seems to be upping his grunting intensity. so what i'm doing now is seeing how much he lifts, and then i go do the same lift with more weight, more reps, and in silence. that is fun for me.

DesktopWeb FormText   chumbilliesThu, 03 Apr 2008 01:10:29 GMT # 

had the chumby for almost a week. i'm happy with it as an alarm clock. they also seem to be responsive about extending the alarm clock functionality for features and reliability. e.g. you can set an alarm to automatically activate night-mode. i also like the widget community they are creating. i have 3 channels. my 'default' channel is primarily clocks, weather, news headlines, and photo feeds. my 2nd channel is for video feeds that i would interact with as a time killer. the 3rd channel is random interactive widgets like the magic 8ball, games, calculator, chumby 9000, and hypnotoad! for the price, i'm not satisfied with its internet radio support. it only plays shoutcast streams for a handful of minutes before disconnecting, and it doesnt auto re-connect. i get the same experience with other audio streams, even a slimserver setup running on my LAN. my Chumby is in the room directly above my wireless router, so it should have a great signal. it looks like there is a way to setup a wired connection with a USB dongle, so i've got one on order to see if that helps out. regarding the slimserver, it only supports playback. so you have to use another browser to select tracks, see song info, etc... but there is a YouTube video where somebody has extended their Chumby to support those features as well. i'm holding my breath that the Chumby will get this feature in a future firmware update. as an end-user, i'm ok with the Chumby. it still has a ton of potential to win me over down the line.

DesktopWeb FormText   MVP award : Client App DevTue, 01 Apr 2008 16:37:42 GMT # 

Awesome! ... my new MVP category is 'Client App Dev'. this is the 2nd most worried i've been about not getting renewed. for the other years, i targeted a specific group, and steered my community involvement to match. did not do that this year. instead i just wrote whatever articles interested me at the moment and presented at user groups whenever the opportunity arose. then at the end of the year, i looked back to see if my community efforts match up with one of the existing groups. ends up i did a bunch of windows client dev, but i was still worried because there is alot of competition in that group. yea!

pursuing the goal of 'pervasive computing', this makes 6 categories in 6 years. tablet 03, embedded 04, web services 05, media center 06, office communications 07, client app dev 08. oddly, this will be my first pure Development group.

haven't decided about next year. there are still alot of things I would write for Media Center, but it needs to regain some momentum before i would invest the time. still waiting for XNA to give access to the media, camera, and mic before i really get started there. if the 360 were to get a browser, i could see writing a number of windows home server apps. something will probably catch my eye at the summit.

DesktopWeb FormText   first hour with ChumbySat, 29 Mar 2008 03:32:25 GMT # 

got a Chumby. hardware is decent. touchscreen is a little 'touchy', but works decent enough finger driven. it'd be nice if it came with a stylus that could be tethered to it. it also has a control panel button and tilt sensor. not sure about the squeeze sensor, it might really just be a button that's on top of the device. and i doubt that i'll find the tilt sensor useful. i.e. not sure how compelled i'll be to pick it up. the bottom has a velcro slit for a backup battery. the back has a power button, 2 usb ports, headphone out, and speaker. i'm assuming the speaker will be used to sound the alarm, even if i have headphones plugged in? at least i hope that's the case. i was looking for a volume control, but the volume is software controlled. the front face could use a button to quickly change the current widget.

the setup was simple enough : calibrate the screen, set the timezone, connect to wireless, activate the device on the chumby website (using a PC). then it downloaded some updates and booted again. on the chumby website, you can easily add and configure more widgets. the website is pretty decent. the widgets can be rated with user comments. there seems to be a sizable number of widgets too ... including more clocks than you'll ever need. you can also access a beta update on the website.

its main use will be as an alarm clock. in that regard, it looks pretty solid. the backup battery was a requirement and the alarms are highly configurabe. e.g. when to sound, what to play, how long to sound, backup alarm. it can also play internet audio streams. tried some shoutcast streams, but they timed out after a while and never recovered. this seems to be a network problem, because a Flickr widget was failing to load images too. hard to tell in the 1st hour, but it seems like they need to improve the network stack/clients. and for the price, it needs to be a solid music player too. anyway, it'll take some time for me to get a look at the different widgets and judge its reliability. my 1st impression is that it has alot of potential, and being an open platform keeps it interesting. the widget development platform is flash ... hmm, how about some Silverlight?

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : i'm a dumbbellThu, 20 Mar 2008 18:37:24 GMT # 

new gym has dumbbells that go to 130. it's sad, but out of the 6 different gyms i ended up at in WI, they all maxed out at 100 or 120 ... so i haven't touched a 130 dumbbell for 5+ years. also haven't worked dumbbell bench for months, but i managed the 120s for 7 reps. should have stopped there; but the 130s were just sitting there all dusty and lonely at the end of the rack. so i picked them up, laid back ... and dropped the left one. my left grip just gave out. the dumbbell hit loud. bunch of people looked ... yep, i was the jackass.

there's even a backstory of why my grip failed. about a month ago i was at the gym working out legs. a lady next to me is trying to adjust the height on the leg curl machine, but the screw is stuck. she asks the guy to the other side of her, and he can't get it. so i'm assuming she looks for a bigger guy, or maybe its just the next nearest guy, which ends up being me. of course i wanted to be macho, so i went to help. grip the handle and turn ... nothing, its stuck. so i re-position, re-grip, and turn ... until my left pinky pops. it really hurts, but i'm in the process of being macho, so i hide the pain. take a look again, and it's actually rusted stuck. so i pick up a 10 lb plate which i'm giong to use to hit the screw until it breaks loose. hit it 3 times to break it loose. i should be feeling macho now, but on the 3rd hit, i also hit the same pinky that just popped. still hasn't fully recovered from that self inflicted injury.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : supplement routineSun, 16 Mar 2008 16:01:33 GMT # 

each day, i take a universal animal pak and flex pak for vitamins and joint support.

immediately after waking up, i drink whey protein. gave up on egg proteins because i couldnt find anything that mixed easy and tasted good.

mid-afternoon, another protein drink.

before workout, i have a pre-workout drink and sometimes i'll take a thermogenic. my favorite pre-workout drink is NaNo Vapor. also like NO-Xplod or Creatine Ethyl Ester mixed with grape juice. might mix Arginine Ethyl Ester with the creatine too.

then i have a post-workout drink, followed by whey protein about 20 minutes later. my favorite pre-workout drinks are Cell Tech Hardcore, Cell Mass, Nitro-G, or more Creatine mixed with BCAAs. i alternate my pre/post workout drinks each workout cycle.

before bed, i take ZMA (cycle on/off) and another protein drink. usually casein protein, because it digests slower. if i wake up starving anyways, i keep protein snack bars on hand.

DesktopWeb FormText   xbox support beatingsThu, 13 Mar 2008 02:03:25 GMT # 

my xbox support experiences has been a comedy of errors. this is how you kill brand loyalty.

round 1 - hardware failure
11/28/07 - my 360 breaks (RROD), i go onto and submit it for repair.
12/06/07 - still wasnt showing that the casket had been sent out. call xbox support again, and the agent said there was a problem and they were going to fix it.
12/11/07 - still nothing, so i call xbox support again. this agent says my repair request was still broken, so they deleted it and started over. i asked for them to expedite the casket being sent out, since it was sent 2 weeks ago ... they refused. i explain to them that i purchased the extended warranty from MS and it seems like i'd get better service ... nothing. they did offer a free game ... i'd already purchased the games they offered.
12/18/07 - casket arrives 21 days from my original repair request. i send it out that day.
12/31/07 - replacement console arrives, 33 days from original repair request. it comes with a card for a month of xbox live. of course my console was broken for over a month ... so they were almost breaking even by giving me a month.

round 2 - DRM
1/6/08 - i have 2 360 consoles. when purchasing content, i would buy everything on console A, and then stay signed into console B ... so everything is fully licensed on both (i.e. content is tied to your gamertag and the console it was purchased on). well, console A is the one that broke, so none of my content was licensed on the replacement console. this sucks, because i had purchased the first 100 arcade games that had come out. to be licensed on both consoles, i would have to sneakernet a memory unit between consoles ... no way. so i call support and tell them to re-license my content on the replacement console. first, they tell me to delete a game and redownload it. that doesn't work. second, they tell me to delete my profile (but not the saved games) and recover it on the replacement console. i delete my profile (but not the saved games), but cannot recover it because xbox live is screwed up.
1/7/08 - i finally recover my profile ... but all my (100+) saved games are gone. i did not delete my saved games, something in the recovery process deleted them. not happy. call xbox support again. they cant do anything about the missing saved games. but for the DRM, they tell me to wait 20 to 30 days for the license to change.
2/7/08 - nobody ever called ... of course. i call xbox support again and they say it will take another 30+ days.
3/11/08 - somebody from xbox support called and said the license has been changed ... all i have to do is re-download all 100 games i'd already purchased (6 at a time). so it took over 2 months to finally get my purchases licensed on the replacement console. what did xbox support do for my 2 months of not having my content fully licensed, and for unintentionally deleting my saved games ... absolutely nothing.

this has been my worst customer support experience in years. because of this BS, i won't be spending anymore money on the xbox brand. they gave me such a beating that i've stopped playing games on it altogether.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : legsSun, 09 Mar 2008 19:44:45 GMT # 

squat form is starting to come together. i was stuck doing reps at 315 for the last couple months, because it was bothering my low back. plus it just felt heavy. aside, the heated seats in my car feel really good on a sore back :) to take the pressure off my back, i've been doing more abs/low back exercises. and yesterday ended up being a breakout day, because i managed 2 sets of 8 at 365 lbs. this was really good, because it felt more comfortable than the lifts i had been doing at 315. real happy that my squat weight is back to being better than my bench weight.

DesktopWeb FormText   Promise SmartStor ... not so smartSat, 08 Mar 2008 03:50:25 GMT # 

had 4 loose drives that i wanted to build into a RAID ... so i picked up a Promise SmartStor from Fry's for $350. i consider that a great price for a bare-bones NAS enclosure. hardware-wise ... it's plastic. that wasn't expected, but it seems solid enough. it's also lounder than my other NAS devices. installation was easy and it was setup for RAID 5 within an hour.

copied some files over to it and then tested it out to see how it would fit into my media setup. first, i upgraded the hardware and got the latest DLNA add-in updated. fire up the 360, and it doesnt show up. this is because the Xbox 360 isnt DLNA compliant and looks for magic strings like ModelName beginning with 'Windows Media Connect' (detailed here). so that's the 360s fault ... and that needs to be fixed ASAP. NOTE, my Infrant ReadyNAS and WHS do work with the 360 because they send the appropriate magic strings. second, i fire up the Klegg MediaShare, because it works off of Windows shares ... and the SmartStor can do Windows shares. the SmartStor shows up as an available device, and it lists the initial directories. but when i try to drill into a directory, there are no files or folders listed. i 'think' this is because the SmartStor cannot share without requiring a password ... even the 'guest' account is passworded. NOTE the Klegg MediaShare can see the shares of WHS, Infrant ReadyNAS, and PCs on my network. third, i try to hack around the share problem. my attempt was to map the SmartStor shares to a PC, and then have the PC share those folders without requiring a password ... but i couldn't get the mapped drives shared. fourth, the only other thing i can think of is to map the drives to my MCE PC, and then use MCE to share the files to the 360 in an extender session. the problem is i hardly use MCE anymore, so that's out. so i'm pretty much stuck. the SmartStor could be a decent NAS if they updated its DLNA service to support the 360 and if it could share files/folders without requiring a password. unless i hear good news from Promise support, i'll be returning it to get a different bare-bones NAS enclosure.

DesktopWeb FormText   video : The FSM vs the IPUFri, 29 Feb 2008 19:43:58 GMT # 

excellent :) The Flying Spaghetti Monster vs the Invisible Pink Unicorn

DesktopWeb FormText   cat whispererSun, 24 Feb 2008 21:08:26 GMT # 

kitty kitty won't use her litterbox. she pees in it just fine, but she will only poo near the litterbox (not in it). this was never a problem when she was younger and had an automated litterbox. so i've been trying different automated litterboxes with no luck. been scolding her, but obviously not enough, because her behavior isnt changing. all i can figure is that the negative feedback isn't immediate (or harsh) enough. so i think my next article might be a cat-poo detector. have a webcam scanning that room, and probably a loud noise when poo is detected. at least something to notify me so that i can scold her immediately. one of those USB turrets would be nice, if i could find one that squirts water.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn :Fri, 22 Feb 2008 19:17:17 GMT # 

still making gains from muscle memory. managed 275 lbs on bench for 11 reps, followed by 315 for 6. was at my personal best for bench about 6 months ago, so it looks like i'll regain that within a couple months. today, i maxed out the main bar for a 2nd leg press machine at 900 lbs for 5 reps. there is a secondary bar for this machine, so this machine looks like it might go to 1350, which i think is my personal best for any leg press machine. my personal best for legs is years old, so i'm not expecting my legs to be at full strength for some time. the 10+ reps is working great, but i probably need to back off the weight and concentrate on size to let my joints keep pace. for supplements, i've switched to powders for almost everything. the main reason for switching to powders is it forces me to consume more water.

DesktopWeb FormText   XNA community and ZuneThu, 21 Feb 2008 20:25:55 GMT # 

awesome news! i'm so happy that XNA will be able to access music and pics on the Zune ... really hope that XNA 3.0 will also allow for media access on the 360 (including video).

DesktopWeb FormText   Klegg MediaShare (round 3)Thu, 21 Feb 2008 20:02:37 GMT # 

i've been using it as my primary media client the last couple days to test it out.

it's totally hit and miss with MP4s. some of my MP4s will play with audio but not video. the Xbox doesnt have these problems, but i have used it to play back some MP4s that are on my Windows Home Server ... since WHS doesnt serve MP4s, but the Klegg can see those shared files fine. anyway, once WHS starts serving MP4s, then there will be no reason to use the Klegg for MP4 playback.

it plays Div3 fine, which the 360 will not. also had some audio stutter with a handful of Div5 files on the 360, but these play fine on the Klegg. that said, the video quality seems to be slightly better on my 360. so i'll only end up using the Klegg for Div3 files, at least until I re-rip those DVDs. for the Div5 files with audio stutter, i'll keep reencoding the audio to play them on the 360.

my MPG files play fine on the Klegg, it can even play the handful of MPG files that failed through MCE extender sessions. since the 360 will not play MPG through UPnP, i'll continue using the Klegg for MPG.

the Klegg is also hit and miss with WMV. most play, although some play with video but not audio. the 360 handles WMV better, so i wont use the Klegg for WMV at all.

it plays HD content fine too (WMV/AVI and 720/1080). it did have problems with some of the WMV content which played without audio. haven't has any problems with HD content on the 360, so i won't use the Klegg for HD.

need to rip some of my test DVDs with complex menus, but the Klegg has been working great with ripped DVDs shared on WHS. it's supposed to handle ISOs too, but i dont have any to test with. also been meaning to see if it can play HD-DVD VOBs. anyway, this feature is probably going to compel me to setup another NAS just for DVD rips and then use a Sony MCE DVD Changer to mass rip my collection to be available on the network.

overall, i prefer the video quality on the 360. the Klegg periodically shows some video artifacts. its also not very user friendly. i'm not sure my parents could figure out how to use it as easily as they figured UPnP on the 360. but the Klegg makes a good enough complement to find a place in my media setup. its good with file formats that the 360 doesnt support, and the ability to play networked DVD rips is compelling.

DesktopWeb FormText   death of HD-DVDTue, 19 Feb 2008 18:16:24 GMT # 

too bad ... i wanted HD-DVD to win. liked that it was cheaper and had less DRM. was considering buying a PS3 (at the next price drop) for Blu-Ray and MPG support over UPnP AV, but not right now. the Klegg MediaShare plays more harddisk formats along with ripped DVDs. plus Windows Home Server is really steering me to prefer having all my media available on harddisk and just serving it to different clients for playback (vs sneakernet). the PS3 would have to improve their UPnP AV client to make it a potential purchase : more video formats/containers (Div3, MKV, FLV), video playlists, audio skip and resume (does the PS3 already have audio skip/resume?). the 360 needs to add those features too, along with MPG over UPnP AV, to remain relevant for media.

will have to rip an HD-DVD to see if the Klegg MediaShare can play it. i'm assuming it wont be able to support the menus, but it might be able to play a VOB.

DesktopWeb FormText   Klegg MediaShare (round 2)Tue, 19 Feb 2008 06:37:49 GMT # 

kept playing around with the Klegg MediaShare. it failed on some WMVs, but played many fine. it also locked up again when fast forwarding through some other files. music playback works, but its still no good for long audio mixes. it wont let you skip around audio files like you can with video. its supposed to do 1080p, but i'm only getting 1080i right now. i need to try a different cable to see about 1080p. HD content played fine. also found a DivX 5 file with multi-audio and it swapped between streams no problem. it works with my Harmony Remote too, which is a requirement to keep a single remote. played a 2 part video file, and it auto started playing part 2 when part 1 finished. ripped some DVDs to Windows Home Server and they played fine, menus, the whole bit.

for $130, i'm impressed. i think it has effectively removed a PC from my media setup. have an MCE PC setup, but have only been using it to run TVersity to play unsupported file formats on the Xbox 360. but now the MediaShare will play those unsupported formats along with streaming DVDs. so now my setup will be a Windows Home Server and ReadyNAS for storing the content. the Xbox 360 will be the primary playback client with the MediaShare as the secondary client for unsupported formats and DVD rips.

DesktopWeb FormText   Klegg MediaShare vs Xbox 360Tue, 19 Feb 2008 02:47:40 GMT # 

picked up a Klegg MediaShare from Fry's Electronics for $130. AvsForum thread over here. hardware-wise, it has DVI and optical audio out, along with component connections. for content, you can install an (optional) harddrive or just plug into a network. its not a UPnP AV client, it just recognizes folder shares. so it can see the folder shares on my Windows Home Server and ReadyNAS. it has wireless (g) built-in (optional on 360) and comes with a remote control. i tested it wired and without a harddrive.

it does a couple things i wish Xbox 360 could. first, it plays Div3 files (360 and PS3 dont). it also plays mpg1 and mpg2 (360 only plays mpeg through MCE). it also supports DVD files (IFO, VOB, ISO) ... with DVD menu and subtitle support ... beautiful. you can jump to specific time, bookmark, slow play, and repeat a video segment (360 doesnt do any of that). finally, it can successfully play the DivX 5 files that the 360 had audio stutter problems with. its also supposed to support video files with multiple audio streams, but i dont have any files to test with. finally, it seems to be firmware updateable.

it doesnt do so good playing mp4 files (which 360 does beautifully), a number of mine would play audio only without video. it also froze up when i was fast-forwarding an mpg file and stopped responding to remote commands. the video kept playing, but i had to manually cycle power to get it to come back. was also hoping this might support video playlists, but it doesnt look like it.

DesktopWeb FormText   existing securityThu, 14 Feb 2008 19:45:07 GMT # 

the condo came with a basic security system. its got a simple console and door sensors. the problem is there wasn't any sort of handoff from the original owner about its code. trying to track down its manuals so that i can program/reset it. if possible, i'd like to re-use the existing door sensors, but the console has to replaced. from my initial searches, this is looking more complicated than it should be. and even though there is a security system, none of the windows or doors have stickers to signify this.

DesktopWeb FormText   home smarteningThu, 14 Feb 2008 00:11:02 GMT # 

the next logical step for my pursuit of pervasive computing is a smart home. it was that or telematics ... but i just got the car and am not ready to start breaking stuff ... yet. so the last couple years were targeting the living room, now its time to branch out to all the rooms and perimiter. going to start out targeting security and then transition to home automation.

the base security will probably start with an OTS system. i'm not handy around the house, so easy installation will be a requirement. else i'll have to get somebody else to do the physical install, and i'll do the programming. the system will also need to be reliable and extendable. i'll need to be able to get events triggered by the system, and might need to trigger my own events as well. if i cant find an extendable OTS system, then i'll end up building entirely from scratch. might end up building entirely from scratch anyways, just so i can piggyback off the security hardware for use with home automation too.

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn : steroids and HGHWed, 13 Feb 2008 20:46:39 GMT # 

since its in the news ... steroids first. i know steroids work. never taken them, but i've seen a couple people put on ridiculous amounts of muscle and gain a lot of strength in a very short period of time. i know they were on steroids because they told me directly. granted, the guys that had these results had great genetics to begin with and they worked hard. i also know other guys that took steroids and didnt seem to gain strength or size. either because of lack of genetics or hard work. if steroids were legal ... they would just be an unregulated supplement with potential health risks.

i've taken HGH. you can legally buy some forms of HGH from respected supplement brands. i'm not sure if the legal versions work. can't say it did much for me. nor have i heard of any of my lifting friends mentioning any form of HGH working for them. checking the supplement forums, there are many claiming that the legal versions of HGH are such small doses that its just a waste of money. because of the baseball trials, i'm assuming the legal versions of HGH will end up being pulled, much like Andro was from the Mark McGwire fallout. i never figured out why Andro was actually pulled from over the counter sales? people weren't dying from andro, like they were from ephedrine.

DesktopWeb FormText   problematic divx/xvid videos on the 360Tue, 12 Feb 2008 06:01:25 GMT # 

older Div3 files will not play. you can use a program called GSpot to see if the video was encoded with Div3. or a hex editor. i ended up writing a quick program to check the FourCC of all my vids and renamed to *.div3.avi when found. these were only my original DVD rips; quality wasnt very good, so i've just been re-ripping them. it's easy to tell when you've got a div3 on the 360, because it gives an error flyout. but sometimes i get false positives. it will give me a flyout saying the vid wont play, but if i dismiss the flyout and press play again ... then it'll play.

some of my rips try to play but the audio will stutter. the stuttering is constant and makes the video unwatchable. the problem is the audio encoding, not the video encoding. for this, i use a super program called SUPER. this lets you create a new copy of the video with a direct copy of the video stream, and a re-encode of the audio. audio encoding is fast, so it only takes about 5 minutes to fix these videos. SUPER can process a batch of files too. i haven't figured out a way to detect the stutter problem other than manually testing the vid on the 360, because the videos play without any stutter on the PC.

also ran into one file that had a bad segment. it always failed at the same point and only that point. it failed by displaying an error flyout and stopping the vid. tried numerous 'fix' tools, but they've all crashed during the process. during playback on the 360, i was able to skip past that point and finish the vid without any other problems.

DesktopWeb FormText   new used carTue, 12 Feb 2008 05:26:24 GMT # 

picked up a used Infiniti G35 today. the color and options i was looking before came available over the weekend. going to work on home security/automation next, but hope to build my own telematics system later in the year.

DesktopWeb FormText   xbox 360 DRM, call from MSSat, 09 Feb 2008 00:32:36 GMT # 

somebody from MS xbox 360 live support just called. i'm assuming the call happened because i wrote Major Nelson. anyway, the person stated that it was going to take a lengthy amount of time ... i might be waiting another month (from now), but they are working on it. he wouldn't tell me why its taking so long. i cant really fathom how the system is designed to make it take so long? its DRM, so there is obviously some crypto involved ... but for it to take so long, its like they are having to brute force crack one of the algorithms.

DesktopWeb FormText   car : nissan or luxury nissan for the nissanFri, 08 Feb 2008 20:28:37 GMT # 

i generally don't have brand loyalty, but i've narrowed the car choices down to a new Nissan Altima coupe or a used Infiniti G35 coupe. Nissan/Infiniti just happens to have a nice selection of coupes that i feel comfortable in. fully decked out, the price ends up being a wash between the two. the Altima is smoother, quieter, great gas mileage. its also the 1st year for the coupe; being different is good. the main negative is i'd be paying the premium for purchasing it new. the Infiniti is sportier (also bumpier), has more power, and some status associated with it (i'm shallow). buying it slightly used, its already taken the major depreciation hit. its major negative is barely passable gas mileage and it takes premium gas. could go either way ...

Honda Accord coupe is out because its close to the Nissan Altima coupe, but i prefer how the Nissan handles/feels. Cadillac CTS is out because its options packages quickly add up to make it considerably more expensive (even with the family discount). if the coupe was out (not until next fall), then i'd consider going for the upsell.

DesktopWeb FormText   more xbox 360 support crapFri, 08 Feb 2008 16:15:23 GMT # 

just called back. on January 7th, the tier 2 support told me somebody would call in 20 to 30 days (i.e. yesterday) ... posted here. when i call in this morning, they tell me the 20-30 day countdown started January 15th. WTF, are you calling me a liar? let me talk to a supervisor. he tells me that on January 7th, they escelate it to Microsoft. Microsoft doesnt get back to them until January 15th ... and now i have to wait 30 days from that date. of course, nobody bothered to tell me. what to you bet nobody calls me by February 15th? at least i've moved beyond anger and transitioned into this being a comedy of errors.

DesktopWeb FormText   xbox 360 DRM (still not working)Thu, 07 Feb 2008 23:30:30 GMT # 

after getting back a replacement xbox 360 console, the 100 arcade games i purchased were no longer tied to that console (because of DRM). took a week of calling into xbox support before being escelated to Tier 2 support. they told me to wait 20 to 30 days and that somebody would call me to tell me the license had been updated. 30 days have passed ... nobody called. call into xbox support to see what's up ... they cant help me because their system is being updated. that's the 3rd time i've called in and they couldn't begin to help me. that is really annoying when you've been waiting on hold. the moral of the story ... DRM sucks. its been almost 6 weeks that my purchases have not been fully licensed. of course i haven't (and won't) spent anymore cash on the xbox. support has been so horrible, that its now a matter of principal.

DesktopWeb FormText   test drive round 3Thu, 07 Feb 2008 22:37:10 GMT # 

Infiniti G35 coupe - finally got to try a used 06 (low mileage). it drove real similar to the 350z. seemed quieter, but it was still a little bumpy. felt good to drive and looks great. these are real easy to find used too, so i'd have some pick of colors and options. gas mileage isnt very good. reliability and re-sell should be great.

now i need to look at options/price, and narrow down my choices again. still like the Cadillac CTS (new, for 2nd gen), Nissan Altima (new, for coupe), Honda Accord coupe (new or used 07), Infiniti G35 (used 06 or 07).

DesktopWeb FormText   test drive round 2Wed, 06 Feb 2008 22:36:07 GMT # 

Cadillac CTS - it felt and drove good. looks good too. huge sunroof was awesome. tried the 300hp model since it gets the same gas mileage. wish it wasnt a sedan, but the coupe doesnt come out til fall. it becomes a serious upsell for options, so i'll have to run those numbers. even with the family discount, i'm not sure i liked it enough for the cost. its reliability is unknown and its resell value retention is unknown too.

Infiniti G35 coupe - tried to drive a used version, but the Infiniti dealer pretty much blew me off. guess i didnt look like i had any money. only got to see that its base is mostly identical to the Nissan 350z.

Honda Accord coupe - this drove and felt pretty good too, i tried the 4 cylinder version. they've stopped making the hybrid entirely. it should have great reliability, gas mileage is good too.

so nothing has jumped out as being the right car for me. the frontrunners are probably Nissan Altima and Honda Accord coupes. will look at used cars next.

DesktopWeb FormText   test drives round 1Tue, 05 Feb 2008 23:30:54 GMT # 

Nissan Altima - tried the 4 cylinder model. there is a 6 cylinder model for about 2K more, but i'd rather have the gas mileage. like the size and that it has 2 fake back seats. sunroof available. smooth shifting. the one problem was side rear-window visibility ... it needs bigger windows. so this one is still on the table. there is a hybrid version available in 8 states (TX not being one of them) ... if the hybrid version was available here, i'd probably be sold. i believe Nissan has licensed Toyota's hybrid tech?

Nissan 350z - 6 cylinder only. this was definitely a bumpier ride and the engine was louder ... its a sports car. rode great, but it would be totally wasted on me. i'd rather have the smoother ride, more space, and quiet of the Altima. there is even less visibility too. but the seat was more comfortable than the Altima. oh yeah, only 2 seats and no sunroof. there is a convertible model, but i'd rather have the coupe.

Toyota Prius - i wish this wasnt a sedan. i knew about the silent start, but it was still cool. the seat wasnt exactly comfortable (manual only), and the steering wheel doesnt telescope. had to sit-up more than usual to drive comfortably. after driving the 350z it felt underpowered at first, but that feeling went away and it felt fine. no sunroof here either ... i love sunroofs. the car is kind of ugly, but i noticed a black one on the drive home and it looked good.

Toyota Camry - wish this wasnt a sedan either. its noticeably bigger and heavier than what i'm used to. it was also more powerful than the Prius, and just felt more like a standard car. the steering wheel telescoped, so it drove more comfortably.

so my test drives didnt help that much. the only thing i learned is that the 350z isnt for me. if i could get the Nissan Altima Hybrid ... then it would be my pick out of round 1. but since that isnt an option, its still a toss up ... not in love with any of them. i really dont like that the Prius and Camry are sedans, but they are still on the table for reliability, high rankings for owner customer satisfaction, and potential resell value.

DesktopWeb FormText   time for a different carTue, 05 Feb 2008 04:20:58 GMT # 

been meaning to buy a different car for the last couple years. the problem is i'm not a car guy. never been one. i care more about the speakers in a car than the car itself. my current car is now over 13 years and 155K miles. had kept it in good shape, but its been in a downward spiral the last couple years. concidentally, i seriously started looking this weekend and the 'check engine' light came on today. for the 115K miles i owned it (bought it used), i've never seen the 'check engine' light until today.

the title is 'different' car, because i'll either buy used or new. i've got a family deal where i can buy a GM car pretty much at cost. that's hard to pass up, but i might, because they dont have many cars i'm interested in. but i'll definitely be looking at the cadillac cts. not really liking that its a sedan and that its ridiculously overpowered. i'd rather have gas mileage than 300HP. i'm also thinking hybrid, which i'd buy new as well. the problem is the hybrids are all sedans, but i'm going to try a couple out. otherwise, i'll be looking at used luxury-coupes. my main requirements are reliability and decent gas mileage.

DesktopWeb FormText   SageTV Extender needs UPnPTue, 29 Jan 2008 19:32:25 GMT # 

following a post from babgvant ... i found out about SageTV Extenders. the codec support is awesome and the price is right. the problem is its tied to SageTV ... if they were to turn it into a generic UPnP MediaRenderer, then i'd be sold.

DesktopWeb FormText   video playlist blocksTue, 29 Jan 2008 19:07:16 GMT # 

still been thinking about how to get music video playlists to the TV ...

a) UPnP 360 - the problem is the 360 as a UPnP MediaRenderer does not support video playlists. but it does support the video codec i need (DivX). i'm assuming the 360 will ultimately get video playlists since you can now purchase music videos using the video marketplace. too bad the 360 updates are few and far between.
b) MCE Extender - can easily support video playlists and let me create a custom app. the problem is it doesnt support the codec i need in an extender session.
c) UPnP PS3 - supports the codec, but doesnt support video playlists over UPnP. the PS3 seems to support MPG1 and MPG2 over UPnP too (360 doesnt) ... if it were to get a UPnP update for video playlists, then i'd buy one.
d) MCE - it would definitely work to hook an MCE PC directly to the TV. the problem is i hate this model and am pro extenders.
e) alternate UPnP MediaRenderer device - one that supports video playlists and DivX ... does one exist?
f) XNA - maybe some hack to use the new XNA network stack to get vids to the 360 and then playback within XNA. this would be a hack, and i'm not sure its even possible with XNAs current feature set and partial trust sandbox.

seems like this should be easier.

DesktopWeb FormText   new article : /whsUpnp360 (WHS UPnP MediaServer for Xbox 360)Thu, 24 Jan 2008 03:03:47 GMT # 

/whsUpnp360 is a custom UPnP MediaServer that runs on Windows Home Server and serves content to an Xbox 360. it uses Intel's UPnP SDK, which is entirely managed. so if you wanted to know how your Xbox was getting content from WMP11, WHS, or TVersity ... this will show you how. mainly wrote it so that i could browse zipped image archives on the 360. there is a YouTube video of it being used. C# source code provided. worked on this for 1.5 weeks.

DesktopWeb FormText   UPnP : code completeMon, 21 Jan 2008 01:58:20 GMT # 

finally got it put together. it is a UPnP Windows Service, Windows Home Server AddIn for settings, and Installer that adds a Firewall Exception. the end feature set isnt interesting for end users, but it taught me alot about UPnP. going to write an article and post in a couple days.

DesktopWeb FormText   WHS hello worldSun, 20 Jan 2008 04:49:36 GMT # 

spent the last 5 hours trying to get a Hello World addin to run in WHS. with a TON of Thanks to Brendan Grant, i would have been done in about 2 hours. he's got a great list of home server development tips. he provides VS templates, intellisense XML, and a loader for debugging. er, um ... everything that should have been included in the WHS SDK. as of now, the SDK is just some links up on MSDN. so hopefully the next version of the SDK will be a proper SDK and provide some actual bits like VS templates, local docs, and ready to run samples. anyway, my addin ended up not running because of capitalization. wasted 3 hrs because my addin was named whsHelloWorld, and the WHS loader framework was looking for WhsHelloWorld. somewhere along the line it introduced PascalCasing ... everybody knows camelCasing is the best

DesktopWeb FormText   half way installedSat, 19 Jan 2008 22:03:09 GMT # 

my problem ended up being that the .exe name was not getting passed properly to the Firewall Exception installer. fixed that by setting the CustomActionData, and now it works. by remoting into the WHS, i was able to manually install the .msi and it setup the firewall exception. still had to manually start the service, but it ultimately showed up on the 360!

the next step is to write a WHS console AddIn. the console AddIn should let the user start/stop the UPnP service and change settings like choosing folder shares. then i'll have to figure out how to get that installed as well :(

DesktopWeb FormText   did i mention i hate installersSat, 19 Jan 2008 20:54:11 GMT # 

i seriously suck at creating installers. can get the WinService to install fine ... but i dont know how to get the installer to make it start. its set for Automatic start, but its not started after the install. why doesnt the installer see that its set for Automatic, and then automatically start it. does it expect me to reboot to start it?

my other problem is how to add an exception to windows firewall for the UPnP service. found some installer code on a German MSDN site ... and it works when using InstallUtil, but is failing when i add it to the Setup and Deployment project. the exception returned isnt helpful either. fun fun.

DesktopWeb FormText   UPnP : deploy to WHSFri, 18 Jan 2008 19:59:46 GMT # 

now i've got a basic UPnP service console application. the next step is to get it running on my Windows Home Server. copied it over, and i can remote desktop in, execute the app, and it runs fine; except its listening port is blocked by Windows Firewall. if i open up the Firewall, then it is seen by the 360. now i need to change it to a Windows Service and create a .msi installer. i'm assuming i can add a windows firewall entry using an installer. this is the crap part for me, i dislike making windows services and despise making installers. but i've got to get through this part so i can get back to more code ...

DesktopWeb FormText   killing wattsFri, 18 Jan 2008 03:31:09 GMT # 

for a condo, my electric bill came back higher than expected. since i've already had electrical issues, i've decided to check it out. started out by getting a Kill-a-Watt and measuring watts for all 110v appliances. most everything had a somewhat stable watt usage except for my refrigerator (its watt usage varies by a huge margin). for the fridge and other variable power draws i'm doing a 2nd pass to measure actual KWh over time. keep my dev notebook on all the time, and its almost always crunching on something. thought that would cost alot, but its actually quite cheap. my cardio workout equipment uses very little energy too ... this actually disappoints me. since it takes so much energy for me to use it, i thought (was hoping) it would take more power to counteract me (i.e. brains costs more than brawn). the TV and 360 uses quite a bit of electricity ... but its only on alot when i'm writing UPnP applications :) the other variables are of the 220V variety. most of these dont count because i cant (or wont) use them. stove ... cant cook. dishwasher ... disposable plates. washer and dryer ... bundle laundry service. lighting ... already switched to CFL and programmers like the dark. that pretty much leaves heating (thermostat) and a water heater (i do have to take showers). for kicks, i'm probably going to get a whole house energy meter to guesstimate what those are pulling.

DesktopWeb FormText   from games to mediaThu, 17 Jan 2008 18:33:34 GMT # 

i'd really been enjoying playing games on the 360. i'm pro games because they are at least mentally active, as compared to passive TV watching. they were also a way to relax. but the whole hardware failure, 360 support calls, lost saves, and DRM problems have introduced a level of 'stress' into gaming. all that crap seems to have introduced a negative stigma associated with gameplay on the 360. really, i've got a ton of games sitting here, and i'm not compelled to play any of them. how fucked up is that? i'm actually finding it more relaxing to write UPnP code to serve media to the 360 than to actually play games on it. the only value i see in my 360s now are media playback and XNA. i'm hoping the next release of MCE will make that interesting again too.

the 360 is also losing me without a front man. for some reason, i actually trusted Peter Moore. he was generally late to admit fault, but when he did, he would do it publicly and at least fool me into thinking he was sincere. i liked that. the 360 brand needs that back.

DesktopWeb FormText   UPnP : mixes / audio booksThu, 17 Jan 2008 03:11:08 GMT # 

got basic music playback working a little better. tried to extend it to better support large mix mp3s. it really sucks that you cant fast forward music, skip forward, or resume playback. so audio books are entirely out of the question too. the 360 never requests Ranges for music. when you fast forward, it just restarts the track. so i sent back multiple item entries for a single mix track, then when that mock item was requested, it would send back a Range value ... but that wouldnt play. now my options are to have a process that chops the file on the UPnP server; or send mock files back to the video container for mix mp3s, and then transcode them on the fly as if they were video files.

DesktopWeb FormText   UPnP : music playingWed, 16 Jan 2008 20:50:17 GMT # 

just had some initial success with music. one of my problems with music on the 360 is it doesnt let your browse by folders. instead it goes off of album/artist/genre metadata ... assuming your metadata isnt screwed up. plus the metadata is stored in a library, and its easy for a lib to get out of sync. i'm writing mine a little bit different, so that it doesnt use metadata at all and only works off of files and folders. so if you request artists/album/genre, it ignores those specific requests and returns folders every time. if you drill into one of those folders, then it returns files within that folder. if you select Songs, then it returns all files. for metadata like duration/bitrate/sampleFrequency/bitRate/nrAudioChannels/... it just returns 0 for all, and the 360 doesnt seem to care. working off a small test dir right now. what i need to do is point it against a large library and see if its any faster. got at least 1 bug to fix before i get to that. then i've got something else to try ... more on that later.

DesktopWeb FormText   UPnP : the video beatings continueWed, 16 Jan 2008 03:59:21 GMT # 

wrote a screen-scraper to get some internet TV content to the 360. its ultimately WMV content, so i assumed it would work ... the problem is it is streamed with MMS. ends up MMS only works on the 360 through MCE. i mistakenly thought the 360 supported MMS natively. crap. the only workaround i can think of would be to have the UPnP server spin up a DirectShow graph to download the MMS stream and archive it to WMV, then that WMV file could be sent to the 360. ugly.

another feature i wanted to implement was video playlists. i wanted to generate a fake item that would end up streaming multiple items from a container (e.g. a series of music videos). the first option is video playlists ... not supported. second, maybe some way to have the server trigger the client to request another video item after the first item is done playing ... need to revisit the UPnP specs. third, start transcoding multiple files into one file, and then stream that file to the 360. that'd work, but is more processor intensive than i want. plus i'm sick of transcoding on the fly.

tomorrow i'll see what damage can be done with music.

DesktopWeb FormText   UPnP : video codecsTue, 15 Jan 2008 22:38:42 GMT # 

got video skip to work. so if you are playing a long WMV file, then you can skip by one-tenths. its cool to see it work, but not really practical. this network stack is slower compared to my other UPnP servers, so i'll continue using them for local video. plus, i still have not been able to figure out why MP4 and AVI files won't play at all? wasted enough time on that ... going to try and finish up video tonight by scraping an external source and exposing it on the 360.

DesktopWeb FormText   UPnP : video round 1.5Tue, 15 Jan 2008 19:38:59 GMT # 

stumbled across the code for working with Ranges and such again. when you play a video from the start, a Range HTTPHeader is not sent. but if you skip/resume/fast forward? playback, a Range value is sent from where playback should start. after digging through the network code a couple days ago, i now see how to use this code. so i wired it up and was just able to resume video playback! in theory, skip might work for large videos. my tests so far have all been under 5 minutes, so the client (360) doesnt send skip requests.

my main problem is that only WMV files are playing. testing with MP4 and AVI, but those are all failing immediately. mimeTypes and protocolInfo look decent. i'm not sending a bitrate, and duration is 0 for both; but that wasnt a problem for WMV. and the server code isnt currently sending back all HTTP headers that WMP11 and Tversity does, but i wouldnt think that matters. this is what sucks about the 360 being a black box. it doesnt tell me why it thinks my garbage-in is garbage. and it doesnt provide any garbage out, all i see is a fly out on the TV that i read as 'you suck'. so i have to look at 2 working clients and figure out what is and isnt important through comparison. but it ultimately comes down to trial and error.

DesktopWeb FormText   UPnP : round 1 for videoTue, 15 Jan 2008 04:00:35 GMT # 

fleshed out pictures functionality a bit so that it serves more image file types with the proper mime type info. but it looks like it has a problem where a single image is getting multiple network hits. so i'll probably have to get back in and hack around the network stack some more.

also started working on video functionality. this forced me to refactor some of the common code shared across media types. videos can be browsed now and return the proper DIDL info. some videos will play too, but the multiple network hits seems to be happening here too. the main feature i want to add will leverage external videos, so the network problem can be ignored for that. but i'll probably spend some time trying to get basic video functionality to work anyway. probably wont work on getting trick-play to work.

music browsing is not working because its based off of the Search action. although WMC defines a folder for musicFolders, the 360 doesnt ask for it as a MediaRenderer. really wish both MCE and WMC would provide a folder pivot, just because files and folders are quick, and dont have to depend on metadata in a library.

DesktopWeb FormText   UPnP : picturesMon, 14 Jan 2008 22:33:40 GMT # 

the first custom functionality i built was to work with Zipped images. i never store loose images. takes forever to copy 1000 loose files, but store them in a single zip file and its quick. that gets back the functionality that i'd written for MCE here : /mceZipPicWpf ... but now uses UPnP instead of MCE. what's great about this solution, is that in theory, it adds zip file support to all MediaRenderers (e.g. PS3 and UPnP pictures frames).

it would be simple to add support for Image URLs and RSS Feeds, but Tversity already supports that fine, so i'll leave that alone. it would also be simple to dynamically generate some images, for pseudo browsing, so that i could put a fake item up called Weather.jpg. when you request that image, it could retrieve the weather (with some pre-configured zip) and generate an image to return to the 360. cant believe the 360 still doesnt have a web browser. they've even got the chat pad for input. plus the internet exists!

DesktopWeb FormText   UPnP : picture browseMon, 14 Jan 2008 20:10:05 GMT # 

Intel wrote back and just reinforced that their UPnP stack isnt supported ... thanks for nothing.

so i hacked up their network stack and can get the GET requests for images now. then i look up what image the item ID is mapped to and serve that image. that provides basic UPnP picture browsing to the xbox 360. 'Play Slideshow' even works if you are in a folder that has images. if not, it does a Search instead of a Browse, and i dont have that implemented yet (if ever).

anyway, now i can cook up some more features.

DesktopWeb FormText   UPnP : codecsMon, 14 Jan 2008 05:11:57 GMT # 

an annoying thing with WMP11 and WHS as UPnP MediaServers is they haven't kept up with Xbox 360 codecs. WMP11 wasnt serving up MP4 when the 360 started serving it without a registry hack. WHS came out later, and it still doesnt serve up MP4 ... no clue how they missed that one? i dont think WHS even tries to output legit metadata. e.g. it only sends duration for WMV. still new to UPnP, but i think it could easily be corrected. the Xbox 360 as a MediaRenderer should implement the GetProtocolInfo action. GetProtocolInfo should return all the supported file types. so the MediaServers (WMP11 and WHS) should query the MediaRenderer (Xbox 360) for the file types it supports, and return all supported types. as the 360 gets more codecs (hopefully), GetProtocolInfo would reflect this, and the WHS/WMP11 UPnP servers would automagically start serving those files without requiring any code updates ... at least i think that's how its supposed to work ...

DesktopWeb FormText   UPnP :Mon, 14 Jan 2008 02:39:11 GMT # 

there is an Intel C# UPnP MediaServer sample. the problem is its using an older version of the core UPnP library, it doesnt look like it was bootstrapped using the Device Builder code generation, and it uses a number of other undocumented tool DLLs ... making it altogether different than the framework i've been using.

forgetting that option for now, and looking back at further modifying the core UPnP library isnt without challenges either. sending a dummy
did get the code working for container and item browsing. it shows the available pictures, but then it begins to request those images for display and fails for the reasons above. not sure how i'm going to proceed yet. at this point i really want to hear from Intel. their library looks to be real close to what i need.

DesktopWeb FormText   UPnP : close (maybe)Sun, 13 Jan 2008 22:12:33 GMT # 

decompiled Intels UPnP.dll and modified it to change the ContainerID argument to ObjectID for Browse requests. fixed one other reflection bug too, but that might have been introduced by exporting with Reflector. haven't implemented directory browsing yet, but i've looked at the traces and see how to shape the XML.

also see how the 360 requests the content and skips around using the RANGE header. and that's where i'm stuck. i dont see how the UPnP.dll handles requests for content, if it even handles it at all. so far its handled what all the URLs should be for service requests, but now i need to construct the content URL for a resource ... and i'm stuck. no clue. a little digging into the code, and i see some support for RANGE and streaming objects, but that code doesnt seem to be tied in anywhere. nor do i see any events that come back for content that would let me handle it myself. hmm.

posted to the Intel UPnP forum ... but not much hope there, its mostly dead. looked at what docs there are ... didn't see any URL shaping magic. pretty sure my next step is to see if one of Intel tool samples serves content, and either try to understand the URLs it constructs, or decompile it too.

DesktopWeb FormText   UPnP 360 compatSun, 13 Jan 2008 06:50:36 GMT # 

now that i see what is going on, i was able to find the 360 differences documented here : XBox360Notes for JEMS (Java Extensible Media Server)

so now the 360 pretends to validate my UPnP server and then it requests to Browse videos. the problem is it passes a ContainerID, instead of the expected ObjectID as a request parameter. this causes an internal exception within Intels core UPnP library. dont see any hooks that will let me catch and ignore that exception, so i think this is the point where i'm forced to decompile and modify the UPnP lib. almost through the plumbing and to app logic. tomorrows goal is to hack together some basic directory logic and get a video to play.

DesktopWeb FormText   UPNP reverse confirmedSun, 13 Jan 2008 02:42:00 GMT # 

wrote a quick app to send an HTTP GET request to my ReadyNAS and modeled the request to look like it was from an xbox 360. sure enough, the ReadyNAS sent back a different UPnP device description with the same changes i'm having to make so that it looks like it is Windows Media Connect. what a bunch of crap.

DesktopWeb FormText   UPnP : 360 reverse engineeringSun, 13 Jan 2008 02:28:47 GMT # 

ok, i'm not 100 percent positive this is the case, but it looks like the 360 requires reverse engineering to get your UPnP server to show up. as opposed to just exposing all generic UPnP MediaServers ... the way i thought it would work. what's throwing me off is my ReadyNAS device that shows up fine on the 360, but doesnt have some of the changes i'm having to make in my app to get it to show on the 360, when viewed using the Intel Tools. i'll have to write a quick app to check, but now i'm thinking my ReadyNAS MediaServer changes its metadata and services it exposes based on if detects a 360 HTTP user-agent. for metadata, it requires the ModelName to be 'Windows Media Connect'. and the FriendlyName needs to be something like 'DumbShit : 1 : Windows Media Connect'. not sure if ModelNumber matters yet, but i've got it set to 2.0 for now (e.g. WMC 2.0). anyway, if i add the additional service for authorized/validated then it gets a bit further. this would be alot easier if this MS proprietary crap wasn't getting in the way. my question, why the hell is MS making it difficult for generic UPnP MediaServers to get content to the 360? i know i've seen a screen on the 360 that says WMP, Zune, MCE, Windows Media Connect only ... lame. owning the living room is all about content. since HD-DVD is losing any meaning, the 360 needs to flesh out the rest of its codec support. my immediate demands would be MPG, MPG2, and MKV through UPnP.

DesktopWeb FormText   UPnP : retracing steps (forwards and backwards)Sun, 13 Jan 2008 01:10:11 GMT # 

Intel provides the UPnP SDK for free, and they actually generate code for you. the odd thing is they don't provide the code for the core library. luckily its C# ... and Reflector exists. to get my server to show up on the 360, i'd started to modify the core library to make the responses look identical to what WMP11 is returning. by 'identical', i mean capitalization of HTTP headers, order of Xml Elements, whitespace (including trailing carriage returns). when i say identical ... i don't fuck around. seen too many trivial mismatches break the most robust code down. but the final change to get the 360 to recognize it involved changing some metadata. so i went back to the unmodified core library and the 360 still recognized it. but now the 360 has trouble connecting back to the app to get a directory browse. might be mistaken, but i 'think' it was doing an initial directory listing with my modified library. so it looks like a modified core library might be required again. either way, i've got a small foothold. also generated traces from both WMP11 and Tversity of happy day scenarios, so it shouldn't be that hard to match those traces. one difference is that both are exposing an extra MS service for Authorization/Validation, so i'm hoping those are optional. if not, i'll need regen my code with an additional service. i think the main risk now is how well the Intel code is going to handle serving the actual data, fast forward (trick play), skip capabilities. because i'm targeting video first. if i can get video to work, i'm assuming music will be of similar difficulty and pictures will be easier. also need to take a step back and see what the specific metadata change was to make it discoverable by the 360.

DesktopWeb FormText   WOOHOO - pluggedSat, 12 Jan 2008 00:03:07 GMT # 

i cant tell you how much i was cursing until just a second ago. my last ditch effort was to install Tversity on my dev PC and sniff the messages that it sent. the only thing that looked different was some of the info like Manufacturer and Model Number ... stuff that shouldn't matter. so i copied those strings directly, fired up the 360, and my apps friendlyName showed up in the list of available UPnP devices! so now the 360 can at least discover my UPnP device ... now i have to make it do something. that sucked! oh yeah, another oddity, Tversity is never recognized by the Intel UPnP tools. think this is because Tversity isnt sending SSDP quite right. at least WireShark only recognizes it as UDP, but its recognized all my other UPnP device broadcasts as SSDP.

DesktopWeb FormText   UPnP black boxFri, 11 Jan 2008 23:19:53 GMT # 

after sniffing the wire, i'm still stuck. my UPnP device/server sends out an SSDP broadcast saying that its a MediaServer and where it is located. the 360 seems to get that just fine, because it then requests the root xml description from that location. the device/server then seems to send out the xml description. the WireShark trace shows the response, but its not associated to the original request. i'm not sure if that means its ignoring the keep-alive header from the request? also assuming that doesn't matter. checking the xml content of the response, and comparing it to other UPnP servers, the response looks fine. so i'm not sure if its failing on the network call or the 360 doesnt like the content. at least the content is recognized fine by Intels UPnP tools. the only option i can think of at this moment is to dump the Intel UPnP stack and start writing my own networking stack, which is more time than i wanted to spend on this.

DesktopWeb FormText   Intel UPnP SDK to Xbox 360Fri, 11 Jan 2008 21:46:18 GMT # 

plug-and-play ... not so much. it's more like plug-and-play-around-with-it-a-whole-bunch-to-try-and-figure-out-why-the-hell-its-not-working. since Intel and Microsoft both have their name on the specs, you'd think they'd actually have a plug session to test the spec and get their products to work together ... wouldn't you? anyway, back to looking at UDP/TCP traces

DesktopWeb FormText   brawn :Wed, 09 Jan 2008 03:20:21 GMT # 

kept getting injured in WI. had a series of leg injuries and my shoulder was really bothering me. at the time, i thought my age was catching up to me, but now i'm really starting to think it was repetitive stress. the gyms in WI dont offer much equipment, so i ended up performing the same motions over and over again. now my gym in TX has all sorts of equipment, so i get to vary the workouts dramatically. my shoulder is almost healed and my legs are starting to feel stronger. bench max is probably up to 350, squat might be over 400 now. legs are coming back slower than i like, but they haven't been at peak for a while.

for supplements, i just got done with Nano Vapor. you've really got to read the warnings on the bottle, they're awesome. e.g. dont breathe the nano vapors! the way i look at it, the more warnings a supplement has, the bigger it will help you get. just kidding ... maybe. anyway, i liked it and am going to try it again sometime this year. when i drank it, my body (and mind) seemed to immediately prep for the upcoming workout. and now that i'm off of it, i feel a bit of a let down.

also just realized that i can walk to the gym. had been driving to the gym, and then walking on a treadmill for 20 minutes to warm up. then it hit me that the gym was probably about a mile away, so why dont i walk it instead? now i just walk to the gym and immediately hit the weights. plus it forces me to walk back the extra mile when its over. now i just have to remember to take a post workout drink with me, so i can down that before the walk back, and then i'll be ready for protein when i get back home 20 minutes later.

DesktopWeb FormText   more 360 DRM infoMon, 07 Jan 2008 23:55:08 GMT # 

called back again and they finally got me to a tier 2 person. they took my console serial #, cosole ID, and my phone #. within 20 to 30 days, i'll get a call about the licenses being updated for the console. WTF. MS just had my console for 30 days, this should have been taken care of then. and why the hell does it take 20 to 30 days? don't you just change the old serial # to the new serial #?

what about my saved games being deleted? supposedly they might still be there. i'm supposed to wait 2 to 3 days for the xbox live servers to get updated and try recovering my profile again. and somehow the saved games will magically show up on the memory unit. yes ... i'm highly skeptical about that one. if it doesnt work, i'm supposed to call back in again ... great, i have more pain to look forward to.

DesktopWeb FormText   more xbox support shitMon, 07 Jan 2008 22:41:47 GMT # 

call them up today. start talking to a guy. even though i started out saying it was an 'xbox live' problem, it had connected me to a hardware guy, and he was going to get me connected with an xbox live guy. on hold, and then the call ends. my phone shows 3 bars. 15 minutes wasted.

against my better judgement, i call back. get connected to a new guy and explain my problems. 1) content i purchased is only accessible when online. 2) the profile recovery deleted all my saved games. this guy understands the problem and admits that its a mess. he really starts to help me after i told him i had purchased the 1st 100 arcade games (shouldn't they already be able to see that on a dashboard). he's going to connect me to a level 2 guy. i tell him i got disconnected the last phone call. he says there shouldnt be a problem. on hold for a bit, then he comes back on to ask more questions. he puts me back on hold, and then i'm disconnected. phone has 3 bars. additional 30 minutes wasted.

now i'm typing this ... freakin pissed as hell. they have my phone # ... why isn't a level 2 guy calling me back? do they really expect me to call back in and go through that shit again?

DesktopWeb FormText   recovered profile success ... i mean failureMon, 07 Jan 2008 07:11:31 GMT # 

kicked off the gamer profile recovery one more time (masochist). after an hour, my gamer profile was recovered (4th attempt). but recovering the profile to my Memory Unit did not restore the saved games. its still showing around 450 megs. they were somehow lost during one of the failed profile recovery attempts. i definitely chose to delete the profile only (NOT profile and items). er, um ... that bug needs to be fixed. losing a players game saves is not acceptable. it'll be fun (sarcasm) trying to explain this to xbox support tomorrow. i already know what'll happen. they'll say 'sorry' and that'll be the end of it. then i'll say 'thats not helpful', and we'll sit in silence. that pretty much sums up all of my calls to xbox support. oh yeah, WHS should be backing up the 360s saved games.

DesktopWeb FormText   recovering 360 profile ... more failureMon, 07 Jan 2008 05:11:28 GMT # 

more venting

in the CES keynote, i wasnt happy when they announced xbox live reached 10 million subscribers 6 months before they thought they would. er, um ... we can tell. live is sucking. buy more servers. from my xbox support call, i tried to recover the profile again. kicked it off at 10 pm, and it got further. in fact it was downloading the profile until 11 pm, showing about 66% complete, when i got the fly out blade saying that xbox live sign in was unavailable. the really weird thing is that my 512 MB memory unit shows it has 467 megs free. before i deleted the profile (which i thought was only 12 megs), the MU only had about 250 megs free. i definitely only deleted the profile, and not the profile and items. maybe it wont show the items until my profile is recovered (someday). or it got hosed up during one of the many failed recovery attempts. anyway, that's enough beatings for one day.

DesktopWeb FormText   MS CES keynoteMon, 07 Jan 2008 03:45:02 GMT # 

nothing really jumped out at me for the 360 or MCE. it was good to hear about Sync upgrades, but it needs to move to other car brands. what i really want to know about is the TellMe 'Say and See' app. that's what multimodal 'tap and talk' was supposed to be with Speech Server 2004 and Windows Mobile back in the day; but it was dropped in Speech Server 2007. can't wait to hear how i can write my own apps like that. the MS research image/video recognition demo was entirely bad ass.

DesktopWeb FormText   xbox 360 DRM problemsSun, 06 Jan 2008 22:40:22 GMT # 

when you buy content through xbox live, its tied to the console you buy it on and your gamertag. since i have 2 consoles, i buy everything on console A and then sign in with my gamertag on console B. this makes it so all content is fully licensed on both consoles. had bought the first 100+ arcade games ... so that makes me a good customer. but when console A broke, it was replaced with console C (now i have consoles B and C). none of my content is licensed on console C, unless i'm signed in. to be signed in, i'd have to sneakernet a Memory Unit between consoles ... lame. so i call xbox support and they give me 2 steps to try : step 1) delete an xbox live arcade game and redownload it. tried that, and the game still wasn't licensed. step 2) delete my profile (but not the items) and recover my profile. so i deleted my profile and tried to recover ... 3 times now. but since xbox live is fucked up, it fails during recovery. so now my content wont work on any console, because it wasnt purchased on B or C, and i cant recover my gamer profile to sign in. its really annoying that i had to do any of this in the first place; they know the serial #s of the old and new console, they should have been able to transition all of this automatically when i signed in the first time. call support and their solution is to have me keep trying every hour. what a bunch of crap. i was already an angry customer from how they handled my console replacement. the xbox brand needs some serious customer relations work

DesktopWeb FormText   goals of y2k7Fri, 04 Jan 2008 19:41:34 GMT # 

last year went ok. the experiment was to reduce the # of tech books i read, and try to just use APIs, the web, and SDKs instead. ends up i did not like that experiment. i really value tech books for being able to quickly get the info i want and in an organized manner. could get the same info through other means, but the process took longer and was less organized. so expect to see some book review blog posts this year.

started out last year concentrating on Speech to help earn Office Communications Server MVP award. spent another half of last year wrapping up what i wanted to do with MCE. now i'm out of that space and fumbling around until i find something else to concentrate on. i did pick up a UMPC and wrote some code to figure out its usage scenarios. /umpcFrame ended up being one of the more popular articles from last year. the most popular article was definitely /wpfAugReal. ended up doing alot more User Group presentations than I usually do. that can become a time sink, so i probably need to cut back on that. disregard that i did a presentation last night :)

had a good year of lifting. at one point i was about as big and strong as i'd ever been. ended up losing much of that because of injuries, but i'm loving my new gym ... so this is looking like a great year for moving some weight.

DesktopWeb FormText   code dump : /wpf3dPart (WPF 3D Particle System)Wed, 02 Jan 2008 16:18:10 GMT # 

/wpf3dPart is a basic 3D Particle System for WPF.

DesktopWeb FormText   Dallas C# SIG : Augmented Reality with .NETWed, 02 Jan 2008 02:55:29 GMT # 

i'll be presenting 'Augmented Reality with .NET' this Thursday (1/3) at the Dallas C# SIG. the meeting is from 6 to 9 PM at MS Offices (7000 State Highway 161, Irving, TX 75039)