My harvest

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As Ciri, the kiddos, and I continue on this path of a healthy, sustainable lifestyle, I am reminded now more than ever about what Thanksgiving was and what it has changed in to.

This year has proven difficult yet the harvest of our hard work has been plentiful and nourishing. Between doing what I love with friends that I care about and living a beautiful life with some of the coolest people on the planet, its hard to find something to NOT be thankful for.

The years have been rough and stormy and I could sit here and write about all of the harsh moments that could have been better. In truth, the near future looks promising and THAT is what is important. Hard work and hard decisions bring the largest and most bountiful harvest.

Surrounding yourself with people that are supportive, respectful, understanding, and humorous doesn’t hurt either. Sometimes, hard decisions and hard work sucks, but they’re mere presence helps make it easier.

I’m thankful for my family and friends. I’m also thankful that my hard work returned a great year with my family and friends.

Using Dropbox for versioning

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Prior to my current position, I had no clue what SVN or GIT were.  I finally got a very thorough explanation of SVN and versioning in general a few weeks ago.  Like all concepts I learn, I started to examine areas that might benefit from not just SVN but the concept of versions and revisions.

The obvious place was my personal pool of ongoing projects.  But I know how I work with new things.  I get all “ooo shiny” and want to find a place for it even thought all it is is shiny – nothing more. With this in mind, I thought about where my projects currently reside: Dropbox. 

Versioning

Dropbox has revisions!  Duh!  Using the methods explained to me but considering the size and use of my files, Dropbox is the perfect platform. I have accumulated about 4 gigs of extra space on my free account over the years; It already creates periodic revisions (I don’t believe it’s with every save, but that’s ok for my use it is with “every change”); and it syncs to all my other computers including my test server.

The test server, by the way, has symbolic links set up so when I save the file locally, it is immediately pushed to my web server for testing. No FTP required!

Research is for weenies.

I didn’t think to search if anyone already thought about this until recently.  Maybe I’m not searching with the right query, but I couldn’t find much except “Hey! Here’s an idea!” which is less than helpful.

I did start reading up on the concepts behind SVN and GIT which helped a little.  Wiki: saving the day again.

[Update] I just found this link. I don’t have a problem with rollbacks but most of my projects are small.

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/8238399/dropbox-as-a-programmers-source-control

[/Update]

SVN THIS!

I have a web application that I am updating: DailyKittehEmail App.  The current stable version is 1.0 while the current development version I call RC. So the folder structure looks like this:

WEBAPPS > DailyKittehEmail  > 1.0, RC

The versioned folders are locked – I don’t edit those anymore. If I need to make an update, I copy the whole folder to an RC folder and work from there – this is how I branch or fork a version.  When I’m ready to commit that release, I give it a version based on the edits made and change the folder name to the new version number. The new folder structure will look like this:

WEBAPPS > DailyKittehEmail > 1.0, 1.1

During development, though, as I finish editing for the night, I update my release notes with that nights version number.  Discipline, lads and laddettes, discipline. The folder would stay as RC but I keep the log going.

So, the cycle continues.  If I need to update 1.1, I copy it into a new RC folder and squash bugs or add new cool stuff.  The best part is that all this is done within Dropbox so it’s backed up and versioned.

Meh. What about source control.

The one thing it needs is source control.  Because it’s just myself, I don’t really run into me overwriting my own changes because I didn’t properly check something out/in.  But to make this a valid solution, it would obviously need some way of controlling edits and commits.

Another necessity would be to create a copy with every save.  The source control can back up the file before overwriting it to a specified folder in the Dropbox space.

Ok, it’s not very robust on it’s own, but it’s free and it’s robust enough for a one-dev gig.  With some proper planning, it can probably work with multiples but why when SVN is pretty cheap.

[Update]

Also, apparently this helps with source control

http://tortoisehg.bitbucket.org/

[/Update]

Big Jambox is a big meh, that’s what it is…

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It is odd to me that the designer of the Jambox also designed the new Big Jambox.  The Jambox is simple and almost utilitarian.  The Big Jambox with it’s Jawbone badge and extra buttons and extra options is not the same.  I wouldn’t even agree if you said it was an “evolutionary step” in the design.

I don’t like it.

On the other hand, I can see how the extra controls would be useful.  The buttons have context just by their shape and positioning.

But… that badge.  Oohhh, that badge.

I loved that the original covertly mentioned it was a Jawbone product on top.  The product design sets this speaker apart from it’s competitors – why do you need to have your mark on the front of it as well?  It pulls attention away from the detail and thought that went into the design. Keep it simple, a gentle reminder would suffice.

If anything, I bet it sounds pretty bad ass, though.  More air space, bigger drivers, more powah.  Obviously, I’m conflicted.

Actually, I’m not: I heart my Jambox. Just bummed out on the design of this iteration.

Jawbone BIG JAMBOX Wireless Speaker | Hi-fi Sound, Wireless, Portable, Smart & Updateable.

My First 5K / Mud Run

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Entering the Rugged Maniac is one of the craziest things I’ve ever done.  I have never pushed myself so hard for so long under this amount of soreness and pain. In hindsight, I don’t think I pushed myself that hard but the race was something I never thought I’d ever do.

When I started training with Ciri, I had lots of questions regarding training and the race itself.  Is there a type of shoe that helps keep footing more than others?  What kind of training has a better success rate?  Can we actually finish?!

The questions now feel somewhat naïve. We attempted a couch to 5K program and did okay, we actually didn’t finish it by race day.  We used our Vibram Five Finger KSO and had NO traction… but neither did anyone else. Mud.

Of course you will finish.  You can walk the entire time, skip every obstacle if you want, although not sure why you would.

What I learned

The most important part I learned from this whole ordeal, was to have fun.  Make friends, enjoy the mud and the outdoors, and don’t worry about your time.  It was, honestly, like being a kid again.

When we were checking in our bag, I overheard two people complaining over how slow others were and how they got in the way.  This was really off-putting until we were out on the track.  During our heat, we met two guys that were just a little faster than us as first. We were able to catch up to them after a while and we sort of stuck together. We ended up motivating each other, helping each other past obstacles, and hooting and hollering when we passed the mile markers. Mick and Eric, you guys rock.

The obstacles were fun except one: the barb wire hill.  That thing was nasty.  Bring something to protect your knees.  The sharp rock tore my knees and shins to shreds.  Once the hill was passed, though, there is a wave of amazement and accomplishment.  Yea, you’re playing in mud and climbing hills, but it’s not easy. It’s fun, yet difficult, but rewarding nonetheless.

Preparation

IMG_0457The couch to 5k is all running.  My legs felt fine after the run, the soreness is all upper body, back, and butt. Granted, I slipped in the mud and fell on my ass a lot, we should have still done more core or upper body stuff.

How do you train for obstacles when there aren’t any in your home, though.  We could probably hang a rope on a tree for climbing exercises, which would have helped A LOT, most of what we needed was endurance and core stuff.

Packing for the race wasn’t too big of a deal.  Spare clothes, towels, minor toiletries, etc.  Bring sandals – if you can spare your shoes, donate them, they’ll be really muddy anyway.

Don’t go too overboard with running clothes. If you wear shorts, protect the knees.  Simple shirt will suffice provided it’s lightweight and won’t take on fifty pounds of mud. I spent about $70 at Target on spandex undershorts, a running shirt and some simple shorts.  They cleaned up pretty good and even if they didn’t, they still work as simple exercise clothes.

I heard the early heats were bogged down by the massive amount of people running. Our heat was second to last and was very empty.  I would do that again because it removes that added pressure of getting in people’s way.

Motivation

Bring a friend.  Bring LOTS of friends.  We met a father that was easily in his fifties.  He brought his “boys” this time around and their whole pack finished waay ahead of us. How cool is it to be in shape to not only run this thing but also keep up with your kids.  Motivating each other and just having a blast. Friggin’ awesome.

Ciri and I had each other.  If I fell, she was there if I needed help.  On the 12 foot walls, I helped her over.  Our friends Mick and Eric were great motivators and good sports.  To also have friends and family in the crowd though, would be great as well.  There was lots of stuff to keep kids entertained as well. 

Sprint that last turn.  You’ve done just over three miles of obstacles, mud, sweat, and blood.  You can sprint that last 100 ft.

Shoes

IMG_0459

Ciri got me into the minimalist shoes.  I’ve always loved being barefoot so these shoes make sense to me.  After reading up on the “barefoot movement” they have taken up more of my life than I thought they would.  They take some getting used to, but they feel really good once you’re broken in.

I have the Vibram Five Finger KSOs which I realized aren’t very good for trails, let alone mud runs.  Still, they held their own and are currently getting a well deserved wash.  The sole is very smooth for track or streets and does ok for grass or very mild trails. They felt REALLY good, though and being able to shake the mud off easily was fairly advantageous. 

Our next run will definitely warrant the purchase of a new pair specifically for trail runs – we’ll see if they offer better traction. I know mud negates a lot of special treads but even preventing one fall will keep my butt happier.

Memories

IMG_2857I’m all about memories and the experience. We met some cool people, took some scary spills, overcame many fears and pains, and took on a challenge we never thought we could.  I honestly see things differently: if I can do this, what else can I do?  What more adventures can I find? How much farther can I push myself? 

I would much rather run on trails than on pavement or tracks so, for me, the experience was about enjoying the outdoors and playing in the mud. It was also about conquering obstacles of the track and of ourselves. It might sound silly to career marathon runners, but this was an amazing experience for us.

I hope that others will be motivated to try a mud run of their own.  It’s not easy, but it’s worth every drop of blood and every muscle ache.

Moleskine Thoughts

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My MoleskinesMy first Moleskine was a sketchbook with the thick slightly yellowish pages.  I love that notebook, but I felt it was too nice for daily stuff.  Target has some of their Moleskines on clearence so I picked up a pocket lined and a regular lined notebook. I also pre-ordered Lego branded plain Moleskine when they were announced.  I realized something in the past month… Moleskine’s paper quality sucks.

I’ve been using my Lego Moleskine for a month now – jotting ideas, keeping project notes, sketches, et al. I use a Pilot V5 pen and I borrowed a friends fountain pen too – both leak through the page enough that I can’t use the back page.

My lined notebook from Target is slightly better, but not by much.

I don’t get it.  This is what Picasso used?  I’m being sarcastic, I know the two products are not the same. Still, it’s frustrating to find out that these wonderful notebook’s use sub-par paper.  I’m bummed.  Partly because I love the form factor and the simplicity and the ubiquitousness of the notebooks.  But mostly because now I have to finish the notebook before I try something else.

This website has been helpful with researching my new future notebook.

Are all those options on newer cars needed?

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STSCPanel I love this image of the Space Shuttle’s cockpit.  So many controls and screens.

It reminds of newer cars though, and not in a good way.  On the shuttle, the plethora of controls makes sense. 

My first car didn’t have a digital radio – I installed one afterwards.  The A/C had those slider switches.  Now, A/C controls have many variations, multiplied by the number of passengers – since they all have their own environment controls.

Cars are getting closer and closer to the complexity of a space craft. Instead of making them simpler and smarter, we’re making them more reliant on our feedback. The logical progression isn’t more options of high techy-ness, but towards autonomy.

50k words, or bust.

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I’m preparing for NaNoWriMo. Hopefully, using Evernote and as well as being better prepared, I will write those 50,000 words. I’ve got some notes ready as well as a few ideas of what to write about, but haven’t decided yet. Perfect excuse to try this poll feature…

Socializing socialness with a watch?

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When I was a kid, I remember gimicks like this were rampant.  Maybe the products have continued since then and I haven’t paid attention, but the one thing I remember is how unsuccessful they always were.  The reward of playing outside, the motivation as well, is fun.  Good ol’ Sandlot kind of fun.  Watches aren’t going to encourage this behavior… especially at a premium.  As a nerd, I think these watches are awesome, but as a parent I’m like, “Really?”  Cool idea, but it ain’t gonna happen.

Yanko Design – Modern Industrial Design News

via Watch Encourages Play.

Dreamworks, Pixar and storytelling

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I love this poster art in the movie. Hilarious!

The family and I finally watched Megamind the other night.  I was really impressed. The story was creative and different, but I was mostly amazed with the facial expressions –  really sucked me into the story. Also, a few weeks ago, we watched How to Train Your Dragon for the first time.  That has to be my favorite Dreamworks film to date.

I got to thinking about Dreamworks and Pixar.  Dreamworks has intermittent success.  Kung Fu Panda was really good (I’m excited to see the second one). Monsters versus Aliens was fun, but not great. Madagascar was one of the funniest movies they’ve made, but also not great. And by great, I guess I mean timeless.  Little Mermaid is still enjoyed by children today, like mine. It’s timeless.

Pixar, on the other hand… well, it’s interesting to hear all the hype about Pixar’s awesome-flick streak.  Well, I’m kind of “eh” about Cars 2, right now – I’d much rather see an Incredibles 2 right now but I digress. Pixar can tell a story and they create these beautiful works of art… their “timeless” success ratio is essentially pretty darn high.

It’s all about Storytelling.

Pixar’s documentary mentions that it wasn’t computer animation that killed traditional animation, it was poor story telling.  The Princess and the Frog was a great way to prove this hypothesis. It wasn’t amazing, but it’s still up there for my family – very close to timeless.  (Who knew Goliath could sing!? Wow!)

So, who’s the better storyteller here?  Pixar has some really great original and successful stuff.  Dreamworks – well, How to Train Your Dragon was amazing, but it’s based off a book written by someone else.  Megamind was also amazing, but it’s just a twist on Superman.  Creative? Very. Timeless? Ehhhh… not sure.

Although Pixar isn’t perfect, they’re definitely the better story tellers.  But here’s the thing, though: Dreamworks is more fun oriented than Pixar is.  Pixar tells these beautiful stories of struggle and life changing resolutions.  Dreamworks is like, “Let’s blow crap up! Wooooo!”  Their story telling doesn’t feel as refined because they don’t want to be.  They just want to give people a good time at the movies. Nothing wrong with that, it just makes it harder to be “timeless.”

Which is better? Ford or Chevy? Apple OSX or Microsoft Windows?

DreamWorks or Pixar?  Neither and both.  Ok, so DreamWorks hasn’t been as successful at the box office and has landed pretty close to bankruptcy a couple of times. But, remember, Apple and GM came pretty close to destruction as well.  (And yes, Apple fanboys/girls, Apple’s stuff is awesome, but even Windows has its good points.)

In the end, sometimes you want that beautiful movie and sometimes you just want to watch stuff explode, you know?  Timelessness be damned.