Thoughts & Tips For September 2018

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Picture from RawPixel

Health Update

Back in July and August I mentioned my recent lower back injury with sciatica down my left leg.  I've seen some improvement in my numbness on my foot via some customized pilates physical therapy.  I'll know more after I complete the total of 10 sessions (5 1on1; 5 group). I'm working hard to avoid surgery.

Technology

I recently picked up a Philips Hue starter kit that came with two bulbs and hub for our master bedroom.  The main reason was to get less "blue light" 1-2 hours before heading to bed.  There are a lot of positive health and sleep reasons for reducing blue light before going to bed (Harvard Medical School.) So far it seems to be working well with the Google Home & Google WIFI system we have working at home and the Hue app is pretty easy to use also.

Thankful For

This year's DEFCON was amazing and you can check out my notes from the conference here: TechNewsRadio.com.

My favorite band - CHVRCHES - played a show for Jimmy Kimmel and I was able to attend.  Several videos of the performance can be found on YouTube: Video#1, Video#2, & Video#3. It was very cool to hang out with other CHVRCHES Fan Podcast friends and I managed to get a picture with the band after the show.

IMG_20180814_190909-02We also had another wonderful couple of days camping at San Elijo State Beach

Future

I completed another Vital Smarts' 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) class in August and I have one more to do in September to close out FY2018. 

My next Sprint Triathlon (500-m swim, 15-km bike, & 5-km run) will be September 16, 2018. 

CHVRCHES are coming to San Diego on September 20, 2018.

My niece Haley is marrying Alex at the end of the month!

Tips

I really enjoyed the new Getting Things Done (GTD) book called "Getting Things Done for Teens."  It is an easy read, has great examples, and a bunch of new perspectives that is very refreshing.

Speaking about reducing "blue light" I've also turned on the reduce blue light options on all my devices from sunset to sunrise.  I've been sleeping much better the last couple of weeks since doing this blue light reduction and not having any caffeine after 3-pm in the afternoon.  I got these ideas to try out via Kevin Rose's podcast on the topic of sleep with Professor Mathew Walker.

Quote I'm Thinking About

“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”  — C.S. Lewis


Thoughts & Tips For August 2018

  Image-from-rawpixel-id-436187-jpegPicture from RawPixel

Thrown For A Curve (Update)

See July update for my first report on my recent lower back injury with sciatica down my left leg.  Things are improving, but I'm still having numbness on my left foot and periodic spasms & tightening on my calf and glute muscles.  A review of my MRI with an orthopedic surgeon opened up the possibility of future surgery but that is still TBD.

Technology

I was able to move to Windows 10 on a new Dell tablet at work before the end of June 2018 deadline.  All in all it is working great, and I like having Type-C connectors on my work tablet and my personal HP Chromebook 13G1. For instance the same power adapter can be used on both.

Thankful For

Our July camping trip to San Elijo State Beach was awesome, and I did my first Sprint Triathlon (400m swim, 15-km bike, and 5-km run). I really enjoyed the sprint triathlon format even with my "physical recovery" slowing me down.  I'm already planning to do another one in September.

Future

I completed another Vital Smarts' 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) class in July.  I currently only have material available for two more classes -- one in August, and then one in September.

DEFCON is coming up in August.  That should be fun.

We have another San Elijo State Beach camping trip planned for August.

Tips

I've been using some cream with Arnica on my sore muscles.  It is really good.

Quote I'm Thinking About

"The enemy often tries to make us attempt and start many projects so that we will be overwhelmed with too many tasks, and therefore achieve nothing and leave everything unfinished. Sometimes he even suggests the wish to undertake some excellent work that he foresees we will never accomplish. This is to distract us from the prosecution of some less excellent work that we would have easily completed. He does not care how many plans and beginnings we make, provided nothing is finished." - St. Francis de Sales


Black & White (B&W) Photo Review

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A while back my friend Kreg Steppe challenged me to post a black & white (B&W) photo everyday for 7 days on Facebook.  Here are my seven photos with some background information on each one.

Photo #1:  Construction Material

B&W-Day-1This photo was taken on my Samsung Galaxy S8+ in the Fall of 2017 while I was on a walk during lunch near my work.  There was a ton of construction going on with the water and sewer system being upgraded by the City of San Diego on the main road going out to Cabrillo Monument.

Photo #2: Maui

B&W-Day-2This picture was taken in 2014 when Christy and I went to Maui for our 20th Wedding Anniversary.  It is one of those pictures that I converted to B&W because it was pretty washed out in light.  It was more than likely taken with a Canon Rebel SLR.

Photo 3: San Elijo Beach

B&W-Day-3This photo was taken in 2015 while we were beach camping at San Elijo State Beach.  I also used this photo to make the MP3 backgrounds for the CHVRCHES Fan Podcast Bumpers made by fans of the band CHVRCHES.  It was also taken by a Canon Rebel SLR.

Photo #4: The Streets Of Brussels

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This picture was taken on June 26, 2012 in Brussels, Belgium.  We were doing a walking tour of the city with our Belgium Family (Yes, the same great people who filmed the wild San Diego Boat Crash video!) and this just caught my eye.  It was near the Royal Palace, but up by the streets before the public walkways. This was taken by our Canon Rebel SLR.

Photo #5: Atomium

B&W-Day-5This was also in 2012 when we visited Belgium and Germany. Before this picture, we got to visit "Mini Europe" and have some adventures on the public transit system. This was taken by a Canon Rebel SLR.

Photo #6: Ferris Wheel

B&W-Day-6This was taken in the Summer of 2017 at the San Diego County Fair (also called the Del Mar Fair by San Diego natives).  This was taken on a Canon Rebel SLR.

Photo #7: Stairway

B&W-Day-7This photo was taken at the Portland Airport in the parking garage in 2016.  We went up to Portland from San Diego right after the 2016 Election, and there was some rioting in the Portland area before we arrived. We didn't see anything "live" rioting, but we did see some damage in the Downtown Portland area during our exploring of Portland.  This was taken by a Canon Rebel SLR.


Thoughts & Tips for January 2018

IMG_6963Photo by Steve Holden

Technology

I got a Zoom H6 Portable Audio Recorder for Christmas (see below).  I'm really excited to try it out in Hawaii (see below).

Thankful For

The A Holiday Variety Show in Hollywood, CA at the Fonda on Wednesday, December 13, 2017 was awesome.  My favorite band CHVRCHES played three songs.  It was awesome.  UPDATE (1/23/2019): More details if you are interested. 

Christmas was awesome.

Future

My son won a trip to Hawaii and is taking me - January 2 - 7, 2018.  

We also have tickets for the musical Hamilton in San Diego, CA in January 2018.

Uncomfortable

I'm still prepping for teaching my first set of classes using Vital Smarts material for a new 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) training class at work. 

And I signed up for a two-day course way out my comfort zone - Rescue Academy with Mike Foster - in February 2018.  I'm going to learn a lot, and hopefully help more!

Running Tips

Stretch (~10 minutes) plus do several different sets of situps and pushups before a run. Do pull-ups after your run.

Rotate shoes everyday.  I have 5 pairs of shoes and rotate through them.  I usually just get the basic running shoe at Costco.  This has worked better for me than having two high-end running shoes and rotating between them.  I switch out a set of shoes after about 6 months.


Review of Six Flags Magic Mountain

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On Friday, May 29th Carson and I went on a day trip up to Valencia, CA to ride roller coasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

Here are the rides we went on and they are prioritize with our favorites (high to low):

  1. Scream: Smooth, fun, easy to see where you are going, 
  2. Batman: Smooth, fun, easy to see where you are going.
  3. Twisted Colossus (new!): Very fast, long, not as easy to see where you are going, intense
  4. Gold Rusher: very simple, classic easy style
  5. Ninja: a lot like Batman but not as intense
  6. Viper: Very fast, bumpy for Carson
  7. Orient Express: slow and clam
  8. Grand Carousel: great way to end the day [only horses though :-( ]
  9. X2: Way to scary
  10. Full Throttle: huge loop; slow at top (feels like falling - yuck!), plus one "trick" that we won't tell you about but we did not like it
  11. Apocalypse: Very jerky, long wait

Basically we both agreed that we like smooth and easy to see where we are going roller coasters.  We don't like: feeling like we are falling, bumpy, and going backwards.

All in all we really liked the majority of rides and look forward to going back sometime in the future.


Nexus 7 vs. Nexus 6 - Different GPS Driving Notifications With Google Maps

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I think I've found a good reason to keep my Nexus 7 (2013) as my daily GPS unit in my car compared to my new Nexus 6.

Here is a Screen Shot #1 comparison (click on image for bigger resolution):

Google Maps

And here is Screen Shot #2 comparison (click on image for bigger resolution):

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It appears that since the Nexus 7 (left images) is a tablet and has more screen real estate then the smartphone Nexus 6 (right images) you get the alternative route time notifications as you are driving your selected route in Google Maps.

These notifications are actually a great feature, and I use it all the time for making real time route changes.

If anyone knows if there is actually a way to enable this on the Nexus 6 then please let me know.  

NOTE: I did load up Waze on the Nexus 6 to see if that application had the route time notifications but from what I could tell it doesn't.


An Apple iPad ~2 Month Later Review & Update

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Here is a follow-up update to my one week review of the Apple iPad.

Overall, I am still extremely happy with the device.  It has become my primary personal device when I'm at home eliminating my Microsoft Windows 7 TabletPC I was using before the iPad.  I have also travelled with the iPad twice since the initial purchase, and I have found it a great device for reading material (books, PDFs, magazines, saved offline web content, etc) and for consuming videos (podcasts, TV shows, and movies).  Taking the iPad on travel vice the personal TabletPC has also meant that I had over 6 pounds less in my backpack than normal.  This made travel much more enjoyable.

NY Times' BOB TEDESCHI recently did a review on his impression of travelling with the iPad.  The only thing I found different from Bob article is that TSA at both San Diego (SAN) and Washington Dulles (IAD) wanted the iPad in a seperate container to scan vice stored in my backpack.

Things that continue to make this device enjoyable:

  • Excellent form-factor, screen, and battery life
  • Internal speaker is well suited for casual listening
  • Consumption of media when and where I want to is ideal
  • Applications customized for the iPad are compelling

The one thing I did have to figure out was how to seemlessly as possible listen to "new" news and video podcasts directly on the iPad without having to do a regular desktop sync.  I tried using Safari and Google Reader to manage the feeds but playing MP3s in Safari has proven to be buggy for me.  Safari would play them for a while but then become unstable and quit, especially for large shows over 15 minutes long.  I then moved those specific news and video podcasts to my desktop iTunes to get the subscriptions loaded on the iPad.  Once loaded you can then play them from the iPod application.  But if you want new podcasts you need to click "Get More Episodes ..." which then launches the iTunes application.  You then need to click on the Free icon for the newer podcast items you want to download directly.  The Free icon then changes to Get Episode which when you click on that icon will download.  You then need to application context switch back to the iPod application to play the new content.  It works but definitely not seamlessly.  But the benefit of using Apple's iPad and iTunes applications on the iPad is that you can listen to content and launch other applications.

The biggest negative continues to be lack of multi-processing. Switching between applications is fast but swapping context is mentally challenging.  Plus, I'd love to be able to run Pandora in the background and then go about whatever else I'd like to do.

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My top ten most used 3rd-party iPad apps seem to be:

  1. TweetDeck (Twitter app)
  2. Kindle (eBook reader)
  3. iThoughtsHD (MindMap tool)
  4. Evernote (online notes and reference library)
  5. Toodledo (projects and tasks management)
  6. Goodreader (PDF reader)
  7. The Weather Channel MAX+ (check the weather)
  8. Dropbox (online, multi-computer file storage)
  9. Atomic Web (multi-tab browser)
  10. QuickVoice (audio recorder)

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Next on the list is to consider trying out some of the remote access solutions to see how well you can run a Mac or PC from the iPad.  If you have a favorite then please let me know.


GTD Suggestion - Tracking References Via Google Maps

A recent question on the Getting Things Done (GTD) Virtual Study Group mailing list related to tracking travel related task & project items, reminded me that since this past summer I've been tracking geographical items of interest, reference, and someday/maybe items using Google Maps:

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The My Maps feature with Google Maps lets you create your own pins and references.  You can also make your maps public or private.  If you make a map private you can still send the private map as a link to someone else via email.

I like this option because the next time I'm in Atlanta I'll know the options that are available to me.  And the data is available with any Internet access plus browser.

I've also used this feature to build a Visiting San Diego Map for friends and family:

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This has been very handy in helping visitors figure out what is available to do in San Diego County and how far away items are.


TSA Travel Woes - Post A Comment To Their Blog

I just found out that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is now officially blogging (started Jan. 30, 2008) and is accepting comments on their blog posts.

The blog is called "Evolution of Security" and can be found at: http://www.tsa.dhs.gov/blog.

If you run into trouble or maybe have a great experience, then make sure you use this resource to give them some feedback.


Coffee Bean Storage Suggestions

Kevin Devin and I have been trading emails on coffee bean (whole or ground) storage options since we are both purchasing some beans from Kevin's brother who lives in Alaska and works at roaster Cafe Del Mundo.

Kevin found this recommendation, which I have summarized to:

  1. Store beans (whole or ground) in an air tight container
  2. Store the air tight container in a cool place like a pantry with no direct sunlight on the container. If pantry gets warm, then use a refrigerator but not a freezer.
  3. The sooner you go from bean to grounds to brewing the better.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Other opinions?