Category Archives: Miscellaenous

734 Days

High ISO fun
High ISO fun
Yet again I have managed to neglect my blog for far too long while consumed with various other activities. 734 days of neglect to be exact.

These days outside of work and family my free time has been spent improving my photography skills, learning new technology, and quite a bit of reading.

Perhaps the biggest change over the past couple of years has been my purchase of a Nikon D7100 to replace my old Nikon D80.

The D80 was great for my first SLR and is still a fine camera but just as we see with anything else in technology, things constantly improve.

The one factor that stands out to me as the biggest difference between the two cameras is the high ISO capability of the D7100. While the D80 could theoretically shoot at up to ISO 3200, the quality was unacceptable without a lot of post-production work. Even then the photos were quite noisy. Best bet was to stay below ISO 800 which basically handicaps one third of the exposure triangle.

With the D7100, I have gotten usable, quality shots at as high as ISO 6400 such as the photo above in this post. This has unlocked a great deal of potential I did not have before, especially in low light settings.

I will be posting more detailed examples when time permits.

Aside from photography I’ve made it my mission to master Ruby on Rails this year. It has matured a LOT since I first looked at it some years ago. The way I see it, it never hurts to broaden your skill set.

The thing about Rails that impresses me most is how quick I can go from idea to prototype codebase just sitting down and dabbling. Some of my PHP friends might not want to hear it, but Rails is a better framework than most of the comparable PHP options.

Until next time – hopefully not another 700+ days away!

Cheers,
–Jon

Busy, Busy, Busy


I am quite aware I have not been keeping up to date with my blog. It is unfortunate, but I have been so busy it is almost an afterthought these days.

Sometimes I really do wish there were more hours in the day. Between my family, my job at Princeton, the gym, hockey, creative writing and throwing down code for an application for my new business I am stretched pretty thin.

Hopefully soon I will be able to show off some of the stuff I have been working on!

I will be back to updating my blog once again very soon as things will be settling down soon.

Cheers,
–Jon

Q1 Progress

Flowers Spring is finally here even if by the colder than normal temperatures you wouldn’t know it. I started the year on a mission to completely change to a more healthy lifestyle.

So far so good. I eat a low carb diet (<30 grams of carbs) Sunday through Friday, and Saturday is my "cheat day" where I eat what I'd like and enjoy myself. For the most part Sunday through Friday I am eating no sugar products at all, staying away from starches and glutens and primarily eating a diet focused on healthy proteins and fats. Chicken, beef, turkey, eggs. For greens mostly spinach and broccoli. I also gave up on drinking calories - chocolate milk, mochas from Starbucks, etc. If I get thirsty now I reach for water or unsweetened iced tea or green tea. Here are some of the numbers so far: Weight
January 1: 261.2
March 31: 212.4

Resting Heart Rate
January 1: 90bpm
March 31: 57bpm

BF (body fat percentage via bioelectrical impedance)
January 1: 34%
March 30: 20%

Fasting Blood Glucose levels
January 1: 110 (pre-type 2 no bueno)
March 31: 80 (healthy range)

VO2 Max (ml/kg/min)
January 12: 26
March 30: 48

Blood pressure is pretty consistently around 110/70 too both before and after.

Overall I am pleased with the metrics. Still have a LONG way to go and the pace of weight loss has been slowing down as of late. The next 25-30 pounds will be tough, but I am optimistic I can and will do it.

Hardest part is getting yourself into the mindset that not only is it the right thing to do but that you can actually do it. Once you get to that point mentally the rest falls into place. And once you see results, it becomes quite easy to stick to the routine.

Cheers,
–Jon

New Year, Same Goals

261.2 It’s that time of year again – the first of the year when we all start out focused on our New Year’s resolutions usually only get derailed before January is through.

I am just as guilty as the next person of these lapses and unfortunately once I fall off the wagon it is hard for me to get back on if at all. Big difference this year though is that my life (or the quality there of) really depends on my follow-through this time.

This year I am trying yet again focused on a goal of not just losing weight, but becoming a much healthier, fit person. The number above (261.2) is my current weight as of today, January 1st 2011. I was kind of shocked when I weighed myself because as recently as this fall when I was making an effort to be more active and watching what I eat I was down to 230 or so. So I really let it go bad the past few months.

During in my senior year of high school back in 1992 I was at 180 pounds and much more fit due to playing ice hockey in multiple leagues, roller hockey, etc. I did not have a good diet but did have an eighteen year-old’s metabolism.

Now I am 37 but feel like I am 57. I have not been nearly as active as I would like to be or should be. I do not like the way I look and I am tired of feeling tired all the time.

So for this year the goal is to get down to my senior year weight of 180 or so along with a target of 12% or less BMI (I won’t mention what it is now because it is REALLY bad) and ultimately develop a healthier lifestyle that I will stick with.

Wish me luck! I will be posting more details on methods and progress as the year goes on.

Cheers,
–Jon

iPad: Great New Device or Harbinger of Digital Confinement? (UPDATED)

Apple's iPad A few weeks ago Apple formally announced the long-rumored iPad and my first impression was that I HAVE to have one. I think the device is really a cool, neat toy that would be nice to use around the house.

Like any other Apple device it has generated a lot of buzz. Some early reviews have been quite positive and others were more measured.

The more I thought about it as a device though, the more I began to think of it as going down a path I am not sure I want to go down.

One of the things many of us take for granted with our computers is the ability to install what software we want when we want. You buy a Windows machine, a Mac, or a Linux box and you can go on the Internet, download freeware/shareware, or buy commercial apps, install them, etc.

Contrast that to a device such as an iPhone (and many other phones for that matter) that require applications to be digitally signed before they can install and run on the device.

In our phones this has been par for the course under the guise of it being in our best interests so that when we need to count on the phone it works (though it is likely in the interest of carriers to keep certain apps from interfering with their lucrative business.)

But for our actual computers this has never been the model. We have always had the “freedom to tinker” with our PC’s.

While some folks are quick to point out that the iPad is basically a larger and enhanced iPhone, the cynical side of me thinks this is a gateway device to Apple (or other large companies) being able to change the locks on our digital front doors.

What if the next generation of Macs and Mac OS X used an app store model and required signed apps? What if Microsoft Windows adopts a similar model in order to “keep us safe” from all the malware?

Of course this is all what if’s at this point, but there has been a trend with corporations like Apple, Microsoft etc acting more and more like gatekeepers of content and information. Look at what happened with Amazon’s Kindle. It had it’s own beacon of irony when they remotely removed Orwell’s “1984” off of users’ Kindle readers.

Even Apple’s app store is not without it’s own controversy. Many developers have cited Apple for their glaring inconsistencies in the approval process and in some cases exercising some behavior that seems to be anti-competitive such as removing applications from the app store for mentioning competitor’s services or in some cases denying approval to an app such as Google Voice.

Sure one could say this is all tin-foil hat territory and that I am reading too much into it but am I really?

Guess only time will tell. Either way I have to admit I do like what I see in the device from a technology and user experience standpoint. My only hope is that Apple is more open with the platform and more forthcoming with the application approval process than they have been with the iPhone.

UPDATE – Somehow I missed this when digging around but it seems the Free Software Foundation has some similar concerns.

–Jon

Retooling

Circuit I am sure you have no doubt noticed I have not been updating my blog very much as of late. I think a large part of it is because when I write something these days I tend to focus too much on political stuff, and quite frankly writing about politics these days is not fun or interesting anymore. Far too often I find myself getting headaches out of anger since the more research I do for a piece, the more shit I find that really infuriates the hell out of me.

So going forward I am going to completely avoid politics as a subject around here. People who know me know where I stand, and if I do get the itch to write about politics I will likely post on a more appropriate site such as OpenLeft.

I am also going to remove all of my previous politically-oriented posts from this site. No, I am not hiding nor am I ashamed of what I have said, but I am doing so because I want this site to be a place to share and discuss fun stuff that I enjoy in life. Stuff like geeky tech gadgets, toys, cars, home projects, food, music, life, etc.

If someone is really interested in my previous political postings I have made here and since deleted, they can always use the WayBack Machine. Once you say something on the web these days you best be ready to stand by it because when it is out there, it is out there for good 🙂

Cheers,

–Jon

Habits That Are Hard To Break

We all have our vices. For some it’s TV. Others it may be alcohol or drugs. Some people even get so addicted to video games that it ruins their life.

What’s my vice? None other than Starbucks. I never really gave much thought about going to Starbucks on the way to work in the morning and plunking down four bucks for a venti mocha.

But it was not just the morning. I would also get one around lunch time. And if it was one of those slow days I would get yet another. At an average of four bucks a pop, that is twelve dollars spent per day.

Do the math over the course of a week, and then over a month, and then over a year. It is amazing how quick it adds up.

It finally registered for me when I was looking at my bank statements online and saw this pie chart for my expenditures last year. There was this relatively small slice of the pie that was there nonetheless – it was Starbucks. Sure enough, over the course of 2006 I managed to spend over $2,200 dollars just buying mochas! Needless to say I was displeased when I realized this. Think of what you can do with an extra $2,200 a year. Four bucks here, four bucks there, and damn – the little things DO add up, painfully hehe.

Empowered with this knowledge I have since started scaling back. I went down to two a day a couple of weeks ago, and now I am doing about 1.5 a day averaged out. Hopefully by next spring it will be an occasional “treat” as opposed to a staple of my diet.

Here is a sample of what last week looked like:

A week worth of mochas

So yeah, take my advice. Sometimes making a seemingly small change can make a big change down the road. Money saved from less mochas will lead to a new laptop for me 🙂

–Jon

The Obligatory “First” Post

Welcome to Jon’s Journal.

Well, this is my like my third try at putting a blog up. You all know what they say about “third time” so I will leave it at that and hope for the best.

I attempted to write a blog back in like 2002 when it was the “new” thing, but never really got into it. Perhaps it was the shitty blog sites out there, or the lack of motivation. Whatever it was that deterred me seems to have passed.

So what’s changed? Hell if I know, but I am a rather opinionated person and I have a lot of shit to say these days. Figure the frequency of updates on this site will depend on how busy I am at the moment, or if there is something that catches my attention that I feel like writing about.

For example, if I get home from work, nothing really happened, nothing really keeping my attention at the moment I might not post jack. But say that idiot Bush does something dumb (ok, so I might be updating the site quite frequently lol) I might come on here to rant. Or maybe I will watch something on pay-per-view that I never saw and feel the desire to write about it.

Either way, this will be my place to spill thoughts on technology, politics, news, entertainment, eating, life etc. I am leaving commenting enabled in case people feel the urge to discuss what I post, or to tell me to go to hell because they dislike what I wrote.

Let’s see how this thing works out.

–Jon