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i a m m i k e . o r g
In Other News, Part Tres

Too many items to be put into Facebook statuses.

  • I sold my Facebook stock. The insider lock-up period has ended so any [smart] insider will be selling to get what he/she can. I lost about 50% of what I put in. That's the gamble. Maybe I'll get something back via class-action? I can only hope. Regardless, it was play money... Ya win some, ya lose some. It's funny that when somebody hears you bought FB stock they look at you as if you took a leak in the holy water at church. Apparently, hindsight can make one a pro investor.
  • Still on the subject of Facebook, my news feed has really become overtaken with photos of babies. It has gotten steadily worse over the past few years, but this week seemingly hit a level that's near nauseating. I love me some kids, but I don't wake up and hop online to see how poorly your kid slept and/or pictures of it.
  • Today marks my five year anniversary at GroupLogic. So long ago that when I started there was a space in the name. It's been a good ride and a great place to work.
  • Was nasty sick this week. Stomach flu or something. Aches, pains, fever, stomach woes. Think I'm finally over it... What's another week off of training this summer?
  • I've now made $10 on the first photography event I shot and got online in a reasonable amount of time (I've done 2-3 in the past that took me weeks to get up and sold nothing). Somehow, that tiny amount makes it feel worth it. Four hours and thousands of dollars in equipment (not necessarily purchased for this stuff) and $10 makes me keep on wanting to do it. Life is weird.
  • I'm bored with video games. I have a handful that need beating (a Borderlands expansion, Skyrim, Dragon Age 2, Fable 3), but I really have no interest. I spent a few hours looking for something new this week, but to no avail. I can't recall ever being bored with video games. I sincerely hope the gaming industry is to blame and it's not me getting older.

Big news on the horizon. Wait for it... No, no babies of my own.

Aug 17 2012 @ 11:59am
i a m m i k e . o r g
Simplification Not An Option

I like to simplify when it comes to everything. If I can do something with less, I will.

With Mac OS X 10.8 (aka Mountain Lion), Apple has put more effort into being your one-stop shop for various needs. With it, I was looking to simplify my Mail, Chat, and Reading List solutions.

Mail
What I used to use: Gmail was always open for personal communication and Mail was always open for work communication.
What I tried: Adding my Gmail account to the Mail app.
What I'm now using: Gmail for personal communication and Mail for work communication.
Why: The Mail app did a horrendous job working with Gmail. The problem was that it tried to load all 60k messages in my "Inbox." If you're a Gmail user, you know one does not tend to empty their inbox. Instead, things just fall off the front page and are archived forever. Mail didn't want to handle that load because it treated it as a load. I likely could have told it to only load x number of messages, but it was still incredibly slow to open mail and work with it (I told it to delete a handful of items that were never actually deleted from Gmail).

                 FAIL.

Chat
What I used to use: Gmail was already always open for personal communication so I always had Gtalk activated and serving me both my Gtalk and AIM chats.
What I tried: Messages.
What I'm now using: Gmail with Gtalk and AIM integration.
Why: Messages was a pretty bad application. Clunky, obtrusive, and didn't provide a clean way to contact folks via other methods when you already were chatting with them (was iMessaging, but wanted to go back to Gtalk).

                  FAIL.

Reading List
What I used to use: Pocket (aka Read It Later). You might recall my comparo a few months back.
What I tried: Nothing, actually.
What I'm now using: Pocket, duh.
Why: Until iOS 6, the Mac/iOS built-in Reading List lacks offline reading (for the iOS version). That's my primary use of a reading list. I have bookmarks for online reading, but I digress. Until iOS 6 is released (Fall), I cannot make this switch.

KINDA FAIL.

Come on, Apple. Can you go ahead and update the iMac (to Ivy Bridge) as well? Trying to simplify my hardware too. Unlike with your software offerings, please don't fail me on this.

Aug 14 2012 @ 2:35pm
i a m m i k e . o r g
In Other News, Part Deux

Yeah, yeah. I've been terrible. Moved and crushing amount work. I even feel like I've been neglecting Facebook!

What's going down:

  • Yes, we moved. About a half mile down the street. House from the 40s, needs some serious TLC, but having room to move around is nice... and weird at the same time. I've been sharing cramped quarters for a long time. Garage, backs to the woods, right next to the trail, nice neighbors. Come on over for some grillin'! In moving this time, we discovered the magic that is moving companies. We moved me, I got injured (more on that later), we hired two guys to move her stuff, and it was done painlessly in two hours for about $200
  • I got hurtie. I've twisted my left knee a handful of times this year, it's been a little sore constantly, I ran ten miles the day before moving my apartment, and I basically blew it up by moving. I was barely able to walk for about two weeks and still feel a bit of pain. Wasn't able to run for a month, and had to ride lightly for that month as well. MRI showed nothing but inflammation. Doctor thinks my kneecap hasn't been tracking correctly and gave me a brace. I wore that for about a week before it stunk. It was only making my knee worse, anyway. So... $1050 in deductible and a brace later and I would have been just fine resting it. Two weeks removed from serious resting and I'm putting in some good work again, but am taking it very slowly (see image for working out time per week). The good news is it allowed me to see inside this knee, which I badly damaged about a decade ago in a skiing accident... Seems to have healed perfectly and other than the current issue is in great shape! With bad knees in the family, it's nice to have that knowledge.

  • Mom continues to fight her amazing fight. She went through yet another set of scans with her cancer progressing 0! Couldn't ask for anything better! With marriage and all that stuff, I haven';t been able to visit her as much as I'd like to, but I think I'm going to be able to get down there for two weeks in the next two months!
  • Marriage keeps on getting better. Not much more to say here. It isn't always rainbows, but I feel Heather and I continue to grow closer and stronger with each day.
  • I performed the biggest IT task of my IT By Mike career. A client's aged server started acting up and needed to be replaced. Working with small business is both a blessing and a curse as I found out with this job. A large company's infrastructure is very similar to a small one's in that there are basic server function that need to be done no matter what size your business. Well, a large company will have one machine per function. When one goes on the fritz, it's a trivial task to replace it. A small company, however, has one machine that performs all of these strange/difficult/large tasks. When it goes, you need to migrate each one of those functions at once. Needless to say, it's a bear of a job. It turned out to be a full weekend job (including Friday night) and went into the next week as there were loose ends to tie up. The important part is that no productivity was lost. Folks left working on the old server on Friday and returned working on the new server on Monday. There were dozens of unforeseen hurdles, which while unforeseen are to be expected due to the complexity of the systems involved, but Google and some luck got me through it all. This job also made me realize that the life of an IT guy is not for me. More on that in a post... maybe this week?
  • Partly thanks to the server migration, I went ahead and upgraded my pretty darned old road bike to a more or less brand spanking new one. It was bought new by an older gentleman who fell ill just after purchase and was only able to put a couple dozen miles on it. I found it on eBay and snatched it up, savings over four figures. When the bike arrived, I wasn't even able to find signs that the bike was ridden at all. I still need to get professionally fit on it, but I've got it pretty close and absolutely love it. Going from aluminum to carbon makes a world of difference in everything that matters -- weight, stiffness, and comfort. I'd heard folks tell me how much I was missing out, but never gave it much care... I regret that now.
  • My review of the restaurant we had our engagement night dinner at won the Yelp review of the day. Apparently it's a pretty big deal that serious Yelpers really sweat. I had no idea what it was until I "won." It meant my face on the front of the Yelp page for the day and nothing else so I'm not sure what the fuss is about. Regardless, cool to be recognized for something.
  • All of my non-athletic goals for the year are on great pace. The athletic ones were in good shape (aside from swimming, which I still think might be doable) until my injury. I'll try to get the running back, but it might not happen. The biking goal will be easy.
  • I haven't really done much racing due to the injury and life in general. I did run a 5K early in the summer in post-injury (the one that had me out for years... not the new knee one) record pace of 19:15. Only about 30 seconds off my adult best, which had me pretty pumped for the racing season... And then the knee... Le sigh.
  • I've been reading Game of Thrones. Got through Book 1, then watched Season 1. Now reading Book 2. Absolutely love it. Why I didn't hear of it until it came to HBO, I'll never know. I'm a bit saddened to realize there are so many amazing books out there that I don't know of and/or will never be able to read. With movies, at the very least, the end is in sight (Netflix queue reduced by 25% already this year). Yeah, I'm a whore to checking things off.
  • Work has been rather interesting and exciting. Suffice to say, it's going very well. I owe a post on this subject in the coming weeks.

Sorry for the posting interval. Won't happen again... I hope.

Aug 13 2012 @ 12:59am
i a m m i k e . o r g
In Other News

This past weekend I did the Crystal Ride in Arlington for the 2nd straight year. I went 66 miles in 2:59, which is 3 more miles in 10 fewer minutes than last year. I earned a gold medal (nothing too special... you need 57 miles in 3:30 for that), and "placed" (not actually a race) 7th overall out of the 1500 participants. I have to give a lot of the credit to the great pace line I found myself in, but I think my riding is in much better shape this year, regardless. Last year I wasn't able to hold onto the back of my pace line, but this year I actually pulled a bit after the early leaders gassed themselves, and did a 20mph lap solo to finish off the day. I started an 8th lap to get an even 66 miles for the day, and in retrospect should have finished it as it would've put me in "2nd" for the day. Oh well. Next year for sure.

I ran the Run After The Women 5k just down the trail from my house on Wednesday, putting the 3.1 miles away in a new post-injury best of 19:15 (6:12/mi). Very happy with the performance... Actually felt like I finished with some gas in the tank. Still half a minute off my adult PR, but I'll get there. Just gotta keep training smart.

Heather and I applied for a new house! Rental... We haven't yet heard back, but we were first to apply so I'm assuming it's ours. About 3/4 mile further west down Washington Blvd than we currently reside. Pretty much right next to East Falls Church Metro, which is awesome. As if our current distance of 1/2 mile from the W&OD wasn't close enough, we'll now be about a block from it. Awesome! Older house, but well taken care of. 3BR, 1BA, partially finished basement, garage, wooded yard. We're excited... we just hope it's ours. The lease would begin on July 1, which kind of stinks because I need to give my current place 30 days notice on a 1st, which mean's we'd have to eat a month's rent, but also gives us the flexibility of moving slowly.

I'm really wanting to buy a new bike and an iMac (except the bastards @ Apple didn't update them this past week, as expected). If anybody has $5k sitting around that they'd like to donate to the smile on my face, I'd appreciate it. Maybe time to start buying lottery tickets?

Yes, I still owe a trip report. It's slowly rising to the top of my to-do list. It will happen, unlike my Japan report :) Promise. I took really good notes this time around so it should be effortless.

Jun 15 2012 @ 3:26pm
i a m m i k e . o r g
Adjusting Goals

Is it acceptable? I did some Googling, found little to nothing on the subject. It's a sticky subject. If goals become adjustable, what's the point of them? I suppose they're still better than nothing, but you run the risk of not taking them so seriously.

Anyway, halfway through the year, I find myself only able to run about 10 miles a week, comfortably, with all the other training I'm doing. My goal was to run 1000 miles for the year (19.2/wk), but that's a 3x improvement over last year and just plain silly. Without knowing my physical condition, I set a goal that was unattainable, and that breaks one of the fundamental rules of goal-setting.

So I went ahead and adjusted it so as to not have to live with the daily reminder that I never even had a chance to reach one of the goals I set for the year. My new goal? 520 miles (10/wk). Still a solid improvement over last year, but also plenty doable without risking injury. I'm currently 5 miles behind pace, but that'll easily be made up and I'm quite certain I'll be able to surpass the goal.

All of my other goals are doing pretty well. I'm about 100 miles behind on riding, but that's the equivalent of 5 miles running ;) I'm way behind on swimming, but I swim A TON more once the outdoor pool opens for the summer so there's no concern there. Also way behind on reading, but that is what it is... I may just not make it. Yelp reviews I'm on par for, blog posts I'm way ahead of, and our Netflix queue is almost already to the end-of-year goal. So... athletically doing great, but I need to read more.

Jun 15 2012 @ 3:13pm
i a m m i k e . o r g
What's in a title?

Running to the office today, I had my first realization that my days of being "a runner" may be coming to an end. Three years since identifying an injury with my hamstrings, I'm still only able to comfortably/intelligently run about two hours a week. To someone who spends their time on their couch, that may seem significant, but when I was really a runner a few years back, that would have been an abysmal week.

Now that we're finally settling back down after wedding/honeymoon and the mess that putting your life on hold for roughly two months entails, I've been able to get back into a training routine. Using last week as an example, I ran two hours, biked seven, and swam one. Does that make me a cyclist since the bulk of my time is focused on that? Does it make me a triathlete since I'm performing all three sports to a fair level? Therein lies my problem.

I have a make-believe definition that each of those three named athlete types are only valid if you're at the top of the game in any one of them. I was a runner when I was capable of winning races. I'm no longer really capable of that; I'm doubting myself as a runner. To me, a cyclist is someone who races. That's silly; it excludes folks who do cross-country treks or ride to work. And a triathlete (I know for a fact that I'm not a swimmer) is someone who could "win" at all three sports on their own, but instead combines them all for a display of superhuman endurance. I know a lot more folks call themselves triathletes, but there is a stigma built up in my mind that I really could stand to break down; they're folks who weren't really good at any of the three sports, but instead combine them for... I don't know what reason. And that's my problem.

It's clear that I have an issue with titles. Lately, when folks ask me if I'm a runner, I don't know what to tell them. If they ask me if I'm a cyclist, I don't know what to tell them. If they ask me if I'm a triathlete, I shy away from that title and reply "No, but I do all three sports" because I somehow deem being "pretty good" at three sports not as respectable as being "very good" at one, but heck, at 10 hours of training per week, I'm shorting myself.

I'd love to have the time to focus on one of the sports (running or cycling), but I can't run enough to be competitive and if I find the time to cycle enough, I won't have any time to run. I'm not ready to give up on running... And I refuse to shave my legs.

I've only done a single triathlon, but I think the writing is on the wall... and I'm still not going to shave my legs.

Jun 06 2012 @ 1:22pm
i a m m i k e . o r g
My Day In Hollywood (err... Baltimore)

It all began last Friday. In the daily digest of a bike racing mailing list I subscribe to was a call for cycling extras. Intrigued, I read on. The movie, Better Living Through Chemistry was filming a race scene in a park in Baltimore on the following Tuesday. I'm absolutely swamped at work, but figure I'll never get another opportunity to be this close to Kevin Bacon again (2nd degree; the main character in this film, Sam Rockwell starred in Frost/Nixon with him) so I shoot my boss a plea (telling him I'd make up the hours... still negative six as I was dead tired upon returning home after a 3:30AM to 9PM day), and he tells me to go for it.

Day of, I wake at 3:30AM to rain. Joyous. Hop in the shower, pack up the bike and a handful of outfits (costumes asked us to bring options so we don't stand out or match the actors), hit 7-11 for a Red Bull, a donut, and some coconut water. By 5AM, I'm in Maryland and the rain has stopped. Good stuff. I arrive at Druid Hill Park about an hour after leaving home (that's absurdly fast... and I was traveling at a reasonable speed), unpack, rest my bike on my bumper as I have a million times before, it falls, a bolt meets my taillight, punctures the lens, and before even starting, this day is a wash monetarily.

I "register" (am given a piece of paper saying when I arrived and how much I'm to be paid), head over the the food tent, grab a quick bite (tasty bacon!), and meet with the costume lady. She asks me to change. I do. Upon arriving back in my 2nd outfit, she dislikes this even more, sends me back to my car and tells me to bring all my outfits. I'm on a bike; carrying four "kits" any distance (half a mile) is not fun. I do it anyway, and she ends up putting me back in my original outfit. One more trip back to the car to put the others away and I spend the next few hours shooting the shit with the other cycling extras. With the exception of one team, everyone is solo (strike #1 on movie bike racing being silly), and most are from Maryland; I know they can't drive... can I trust them on a ride? Eventually, we're all sent to a massive line for makeup. After 30 minutes in it, the first cyclist gets seen and she (the artist) proceeds to walk through our group to tell us we all look perfect. Couldn't they have decided they weren't going to work on cyclists the day before? I digress.

Following breakfast, we begin shooting. I won't go into the details of the shots we take as it might turn out to be a bit mind-numbing (like the movie), but we end up doing about a half dozen different shots throughout the park. Cyclists were split into two groups early on. Luckily, I found myself amongst the group they decided to call "the lead group;" the other group only gets in one or two shots, while our group is featured prominently and will likely make the credits (they took our names, but not theirs). I was involved in around 10 hours of filming with the other time spent standing/sitting around. My guess is this entire cycling scene will comprise just a few minutes of the movie, but I should be visible for at least a handful of seconds; I made sure to make myself pretty visible at all times. Unfortunately, I missed clipping into my pedals the first time we filmed the finish scene and due to continuity, was stuck repeating my performance (last place of the lead group) for each subsequent take.

Overall, it was a very cool experience and one that I'd repeat in a heartbeat. The actors were all really down to Earth and friendly, which was unexpected after all the things you read about their peers on the Internet. Sam was pretty damned funny; in shots where they'd [likely?] be doing audio in studio, he really enjoyed saying "Suck a dick." (Video #1 | Video #2). Michelle was incredibly friendly, and Ken (a more local actor / stunt man) was a seemingly regular guy. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to meet Ray Liotta, Olivia Wilde (all I saw of her was this), or Jane Fonda as they played little or no part in this day of shooting. The staff on the shoot were mostly great (there were a few you knew to avoid as they had that "I'm a Hollywood snob" attitude that, funnily, the real stars didn't share), and I even happened into a friend who is a freelance cinematographer for the film (pic). Made a handful of new riding friends, and left with soon-to-exist IMDB profile, $180 (minus cost of a taillight should I choose to replace it), 30 miles of riding under my belt (we ended up doing our own training riding in downtime), and a killer cycling tan.

Oof! I forgot to continue listing the strikes against the race they put on so you'll get them in list form:

  1. (already mentioned) With the exception of one team, every rider was wearing a different kit (synonymous with "team uniform").
  2. There were a handful of folks in the race who were serious Freds.
  3. The race was coed.
  4. There was midrace doping involved.
  5. The race winner was on platform pedals.
  6. A sleeveless jersey (for REALLY hot weather) and arm warmers (for kind of cool weather).
  7. There was a water station. That's dangerous and silly, but good for stunts (pic of aftermath).
Seven strikes? Yeah, ouch.

The movie is in the midst of filming (26 days of shooting), will then enter post-production for approximately a year, and be released as an independent in late 2013. Fear not, I'll be sure to remind you to go see it. I'll even setup a system where I'll reimburse your ticket cost (if it makes theaters... it probably won't) if it doesn't meet a certain Rotten Tomato score. It pains me, as everyone involved in the movie rocked, but based on what I saw, this thing is going to be a huge flop. Surely, the folks who poured time and money into the making of it know better than me, though, and maybe there is hope.

Random thoughts on the day:

  • Everyone in Maryland drives like they're from Maryland. Sucks.
  • Baltimore is an absolute dump. Like, scary dump. Apparently I'd never seen the really bad parts before.
  • Filming movies is hard work. My hat is off to the folks who don't get the millions.
  • Extras (the "regular" ones) are a very odd breed, but on the whole were surprisingly normal for folks who would take on such a job.
  • It's amazing how the right equipment can make any old scene look amazing (steadicam + silly camera + lenses costing more than cars, specifically).

May 23 2012 @ 8:29pm
i a m m i k e . o r g
I wouldn't say I "fell" off the wagon

I jumped. "Producing" every morning was too much effort. I already do too much and then I had a wedding on top of that. Holding myself responsible to do more was overwhelming. Aside from not producing each morning, I've reduced the number of places I log my physical activity (from 4 to 3... one of which is automatic). This is just the beginning of me reducing my activities. Do less. I currently owe you the following:

  • Marriage recap
  • Honeymoon recap
  • Switzerland pics (to Facebook)
  • 5k recap
Soon.

May 11 2012 @ 2:04pm
i a m m i k e . o r g
The Cherry Blossom Struggle

Soooo.... "If any race photos pop up of the finish, I'll need to see them. The anguish on my face must have been a hell of a sight." Enjoy.

Apr 12 2012 @ 2:43pm
i a m m i k e . o r g
To Instapaper and Back Again [to Read It Later]

Do people send you links for which you have no time to read? Surely, at some point you do find the time to get to them, but without a means to save those links, you'll have to go find them again. Enter the realm of "Reader" apps. At the top of the food chain are Read It Later (RIL), and Instapaper (IP). There are others out there, but I've done the hard work for you; you only want one of these two.

I began using RIL around the middle of last year based on a recommendation from a coworker. He's apparently friendly with the creator of it. I did a short bit of research and jumped right in. It worked and I was happy.

A few months ago, I became aware of tech writer, Marco Arment, who also happens to be the creator of IP. After following his blog religiously and agreeing with his thoughts on most everything, I assumed his product had to be superior to RIL.

A month ago, I made the transition to IP. Today, I made the transition back to RIL. In this case, an outstanding person does not make the most outstanding product. It's good, sure, but not as good.

Why I went back:

  • Chrome integration. Marco more or less ignores browsers other than Safari. The RIL devs may also, but third parties have done a heck of a better job creating tools for their product than for IP. I spent a few hours trying all the IP extensions and was happy with none of them. I ended up with two buttons on my toolbar to get the functionality out of IP that I had been getting via one (Orbvious Interest) with RIL.
  • Page rendering. Of the first handful of pages I attempted to read inside IP, half rendered incorrectly. I was forced to visit the actual pages of the articles, which turns my reader into a bookmarker. If I was offline, which is a strong use-case for these applications, I'd be without a paddle.
  • App design. I never felt comfortable in IP [IMAGE]. It is more feature-rich than RIL, but more features isn't always necessarily better. RIL is simple and works beautifully [IMAGE], which is the pinnacle of design IMO.
When using RIL, I'd add and read multiple articles per week. That made transition to IP a bit of a headache since I had so much data stored, but luckily, I only added a single article to IP over the past month, which was a breeze to migrate over to RIL. Sure, I've had a heck of a month with a wedding on the horizon, but I think it's more indicative of my lack of love for the product than anything else.

I'll continue to read what Marco has to say because he's a heck of a writer, but I'll be doing that reading in Read It Later.

Apr 09 2012 @ 2:52pm

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