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We did the second Yoga workout today and I think it may be my new favorite workout.  The first time around, as well as prior to P90X I had always blown off Yoga as a stupid workout for girls.  I did recognize that it could be difficult, but I still thought it was dumb.

This time was totally different.  I tried to actually do what Tony said (clear your mind, relax, etc.).  During the first 45 minutes we’re doing movements and something called Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga which is sort of a sweaty yoga.  It is hard on your muscles, makes you sweat like crazy, works on your balance, flexibility and coordination all at once.  After 45 minutes of that we switch to balance poses.  These are easier (as far as sweating), but your muscles burn worse.  In the last 15 minutes of the 1.5 hour workout we do final stretches and relaxation.

The amazing thing about this workout is that even during the beginning where we are sweating like crazy it is really relaxing.  There is lots of breathing work and the movements are mostly slow and methodical.  I’m really impressed.  By the end after all of the relaxation moves we do to finish you have stopped sweating, are breathing normal, and are very relaxed…all while your muscles are worn out like crazy.

We have been doing good as far as our P90X work.  So far we haven’t skipped any workouts and have kept diet deviations to a minimum.  If you have direct questions about the diet, email me, or post it in the comments, but I was just going to comment on it a little.

P90X gives you two options for the diet.  You can follow their recipes and do the “meal plan” where every meal for the 90 days is planned out for you.  You can also do the “portion plan” option where you eat a certain number of proteins, carbs, fats, daily and it gives you a list of what exactly constitutes 1 carb, 1 fat, etc.

We chose to follow the portion plan.  There are three levels based on your current weight.  Since I’m much bigger than Emily I’m on Level III and she’s on Level II.  That means that we each get different amounts of food per day (I get more).  Here is the list of foods that I get.

9 Proteins

4 Dairy

2 Fruit

4 Vegetables

1 Fat

1 Carb

2 Double Snacks

2 Condiments

An example of 1 protein would be 6 egg whites (and I need 9 every day).  1 Carb would be 2 slices of bread.

Of the whole program thus far, the diet has to be the hardest.  Even if we’re tired and sore (which is everyday) it is easy to push play and do the workouts.  It is tough every day and every meal to eat correctly.  It seems to be getting easier, but it is far from easy.

We have made some of the meals outlined in the meal plan.  The vegetable soup is amazing, and the shrimp stir-fry was horrible but I think I (we) overcooked the veggies.  I’ll put some pictures down below of those two.

P90X – Day 1

P90X Poster

Well, since the last post Emily and I have decided to start the P90X program.  You can visit the site for P90x Here.  There is tons of information about it available all over online so I’m not going to go into it that much.  In a nutshell:

  1. 90 days long
  2. Strict diet as well as workouts
  3. Mix of cardio style workouts with heavy strength training
  4. Essentially workout every day of the week for the 90 days.

There are some amazing before and after pictures showing people with huge results after only the 90 day program.  From what I have read, it sounds like the diet is the most crucial part.

One thing that I liked about P90X is the small amount of workout equipment that you need.  We purchased the P90X chin-up bar (Here) and the entire resistance bands set (Here).  It was way less expensive than the entire set of dumbells or the selectech dumbells from Bow-Flex.  This was all of the equipment needed.  We both use the bands during the strength training and Emily uses the bands and a door for pullups while I use the chin-up bar.

I could probably have come up with a workout that would do the same thing, but the way P90X is written down and you simply do what it says should help Emily and I stay focused and on track.  We’ll see.  I do know that both of us are serious.  I’ll post our before and after pictures and possibly the 30-day and 60-day pictures so stay tuned.

P90X – Day 0

Emily is now living up here, and we’re going to start P90X tomorrow.  In my >2 weeks of crash dieting before P90X I’ve lost about 13 lbs, making me 263 lbs assuming a starting weight of 275 lbs (which should be pretty close).  Not too shabby for just cutting calories.  For those two weeks I tracked all of my food in FitDay, and my average calories per day was around 1000 which is little to nothing for someone my size.  I’m serious about this.

Eating Better

Emily and I have finally decided to get in shape, for real this time.  We have talked about it for quite a while and have wanted to do it almost as long, but various things have stopped us.  I gained over 50 lbs in college and I’m pretty much done with being fat and out of shape.  Starting today I’m going to cut calories and drop weight as fast as possible ( I know it won’t be healthy) for about 2 weeks.  At that point Emily will be living here again (finally) and we’ll start a real program.  I’m leaning towards P90X.

Administrative

So I was looking around for a way to build my online presence and I found this page that discussed ways to promote your blog and overall self around the webs.  One step has to do with the blog directories.  I decided to add this blog to those directories, which should help, but they require linkbacks.  So this post is essentially a cheap way for me to link-back to those sites.  Which sites are they you ask?  Well…There is blogflux,
blogcatalog, bloghub, and blogarama.  Now that I have sold my soul….I’ll let you get back to what you were doing…actually…perhaps I’ll leave you with a somewhat appropriate picture.

Me whoring out my blog space

Me whoring out my blog space for linkbacks

About a year ago I discovered the Dvorak keyboard layout.  It hit me, like it does most people, as a much better way to type.  I have always been pretty quick at typing – generally around 110 WPM with bursts over 130WPM.  I decided to take up Dvorak and work on learning it.

Somehow, again like many people, I lost track of learning it and went back to using Qwerty for the next year and didn’t think about it again.  A little over a week ago I stumbled upon a website talking about Dvorak and I thought “Oh ya!”.  While I was looking through the comments I found someone who mentioned that the Colemak layout was superior to Dvorak.  It turns out that they were right.  I won’t spell it all out, but the Colemak website has a page devoted to nothing but how it is better than Dvorak.  Not better by a huge amount, but enough that if you are starting out, you should go with Colemak instead of Dvorak.

Many people in the forums area have discussed their experiences thus far in the switch to Colemak.  A couple have succeeded very swimmingly, and others decided to give up and go back.  I decided to track my progress using, no surprise here, Google.  As many of you know, I’m a bit of a Google fan boy anyway.  You can see the chart that will map my progress as I get faster at Colemak below this section.  Here are my thoughts thus far at each of my readings.  They were tested using the test found here.  It isn’t the most ideal place to test, but I needed a test that allows two spaces after sentences as that is how I learned to type.  On tests that only allow one space I end up double tapping the space bar after every sentence slowing my score considerably.  Anyway…onto the data and my thoughts.

I’ll continue to update this as I progress.

Day 1

QWERTY Speed – 107 WPM
Colemak Speed – 7 WPM

Comfort Level
These test were taken about 4 hours into messing with the keys and staring at a printed out version of the keyboard.  I had just barely memorized where the keys were, but had to think about each and every one.  7 WPM may even be a little fast, but that was my score, so I’m reporting it.

Reactions
Although I hadn’t found myself using Dvorak in about 8 months or so, I found myself reaching for the Dvorak keys.  I had no idea where the L, R, and E were on the Dvorak layout, but if I had to hit the keys – and they weren’t in the normal spot…my fingers went to the Dvorak spot.  That made things tough right off the bat.  Other than that, it was the normal “new keyboard layout” blues as well as a bit of frustration.  Nothing really to say here other than it pretty much sucked.

Day 2:

Qwerty Speed – 105 WPM
Colemak Speed – 13 WPM

Comfort Level
Things were a little better today.  I knew where all of the keys were without looking, although I generally had to take a split second to think about it.  Things were very slow, and I was not able to type continuously even very slow.  I find that certain letters are tougher than others.  The R & S keys are constantly being reversed, and I find myself using doing a rapid wrong key thing quite a bit.  I’ll type “L” for instance incorrectly.  Then I’ll backspace it, then hit “L” again, then backspace it and hit “L” again before my mind can figure out why the wrong key was showing up.  It was sort of like my mind had switched back to fast typing mode and just wanted the damn “L” key to work.  I would have to stop and think about it for a minute, and then I could continue.

Reactions
At my job, I write large failure reports consisting of between 7 to 30 pages of text and pictures.  Normally my fast typing speed helps me bang these out very quickly, so I could really only afford to use Colemak when I was typing something slow.  There is no way I could go “cold turkey” like some have.

I want to mention how awesome the backspace key is.  For those of you not on the colemak forums…Colemak replaces the caps lock key with another backspace.  That way your left pinky finger can hit the backspace without removing three fingers from the home row.  It is fantastic.  I haven’t used the caps-lock key in probably 5 years on purpose.  It is more of a nuisance than anything else for me.

Day 9:

Qwerty Speed – 101 WPM
Colemak Speed – 27 WPM

Comfort Level
Things are better now.  I have made it to level 5 on the typing lessons suggested by the Colemak site.  I’m taking things pretty conservatively on that program, and only moving forward when I can type the whole lesson continuously and get over 97%.  That usually means getting an average score of about 27 WPM or so.

I haven’t looked at the Colemak diagram in days and know where all the letters are close to immediately.  The home row is getting to be second nature and less of a discrete thought before I hit each key.  I’ve learned the pattern for a few words that lets me “burst” those out and move on to the next word quickly.  When I type in Qwerty, I do that with tons of words.  That is one of the reasons I can achieve the speeds that I do.  I almost never actually think in terms of letters, but more in terms of “finger shapes” to words.  I’m not sure if that is the same for everyone who types quickly, or something quirky about me in particular.

Reactions
I’m starting to get fast enough to understand the smoothness that everyone describes.  My fingers tend to do everything a little more gracefully in Colemak albeit more slowly.  I’ve found that if I try to go quickly I make tons of mistakes.  My fastest and smoothest way to type is to slow down and move at a steady unchanging pace.  When I do that, the next letter will be in my head as I type the one before it.   So in “race” I hit “r” as I think of “a”, then by the time I need to hit the “a” I know where it is already.  This is certainly not the way to be fast in the long term, but it is working the best at this point.  I’m at 27 WPM now using that method, and it seems to be working well.

I am making a very hard push to keep up my Qwerty speed as I learn Colemak.  I use my speed often at work to get through things quickly, and I’m not willing to sacrifice that speed.  So I may learn Colemak at a slightly slower rate than others.  We’ll see.

I have noticed that during normal boring typing I tend to make timing mistakes more often in Qwerty.  I’m finding that in words like “group” and “things” I type “gruop” and “thigns” when I try to go fast.  I haven’t ever had problems with the timing before, so it may be Colemak related.

Day 13:

Qwerty Speed – 98 WPM
Colemak Speed – 34 WPM

Comfort Level

Today was the first day that I used Colemak the entire day.  It wasn’t that I was much faster, but the work I was doing allowed it.  I hate typing the word “you” in Colemak, and I constantly find myself typing a “p” when I want an “f”.  I wonder if that is normal…

Reactions

I found myself making a huge number of errors and simply backspacing.  I’m not going to deal with it just yet, but when I am comfortable, and plateau initially, that will be where I spend my time at first.

How to Fix Your Computer

Everyone is fully capable of de-virusing, de-spywareing and de-slowing their computer for free.  Here are my favorite methods to do just that.

Step 1: Download this Software

AVG – My favorite free virus scan software to leave running all the time.  Replaces Norton, McAfee, etc.  Use the free version.

CCleaner – The best tool to clean crap from your computer.  This will also repair your registry, and uninstall programs.  Click the link at the top-right that says “Download Latest Version”.

Malewarebytes – One of the best malware (spyware, adware, etc.) scanners I have found.  Don’t pay, use the free version.

DiskTrix Defrag Utility – My favorite free defrag utility.   Don’t pay for this, use the free version.

Ad-Aware – A popular anti ad-ware and spy-ware utility.  Choose the free version.

Spybot Search and Destory – Another good anti ad-ware utility.  Pick a download site, and download it.

CCleaner

Step 2: CCleaner

  1. Disconnect from the internet.
  2. Install CCleaner from the file you just downloaded.  Uncheck the “Yahoo Toolbar” option during installation.  You don’t want that bastard.
  3. Run CCleaner.  From the main interface, click “Cleaner”, then “Run Cleaner”  This will clean all of the crap off of your computer.  (Crap-Cleaner…get it?)
  4. Once it is done, click “Registry”.  Click “Scan for Issues”, then “Fix Selected Problems”.  Fix everything.
  5. Finally, click “Tools”, select your virus scan (Norton, McAfee, etc.) and click “Run Uninstaller”.  This will free you from your old crappy virus scan.

Step 3: Antivirus

  1. Now that the old anti-virus is gone, close CCleaner and install AVG from the file you downloaded.  It should install smoothly.  Let it update,  and do it’s thing.
  2. Start it on a full system scan by clicking on “Computer Scanner”, then on “Scan Whole Computer”.
  3. It will take longer, but you should slide the little slider to the left for a “Slow Scan” at least for the first time through.
  4. Once it either finds or doesn’t find something, deal with it accordingly (Quarantine, delete, etc.)

Step 4: MalewareBytes

  1. Re-connect to the internet now that you have scanned your computer, and have a virus-scan running.
  2. Install MalewareBytes with the file that you downloaded.  It should try to update automatically, and then finish installing.
  3. Under the “Scanner” tab, you should select “Perform a full system scan”
  4. Select your hard drive, and click start.  This also may take awhile, but it is worth it.  Let it delete / remove all of the threats it finds.

Step 5: Ad-Aware

  1. Essentially follow the same steps as Step 4.
  2. Install, let it update, then scan your whole system.  It may look different, but it will work about the same way.  Just look around for the correct buttons.  These programs are pretty automated.
  3. Delete the problems that it finds, and close.

Step 6: Spybot Search and Destroy

  1. Same thing, once again.
  2. Install, update, scan, remove anything it finds.

Step 7 (Optional): Remove the programs.

  1. If you want, open CCleaner now, and uninstall Ad-Aware, Spybot, and MalewareBytes.  This is up to you.  I like to keep my computer clean, so I uninstall these programs after I use them, except for AVG and CCleaner.

Step 8: Defrag

  1. Install Disktrix from the file that you downloaded.
  2. Run Disktrix.  Accept all the instances where it says that this is only a trial.  We only need to run it once.
  3. You will see all of the buttons to control the program along the left side.  First click the option “Auto” to select how it will organize your drive.  Then click “Start” toward the middle.  It will re-organize your hard drive, and take some amount of time.
  4. If you have two hard drives, then use the program on each of them.
  5. Use CCleaner to uninstall the program when you are finished.
  6. You may want to keep all of the files you downloaded so that you can re-install the programs (if you uninstalled them) when/if you need them again.

If you still didn’t get your computer issue solved, you may have either a more serious virus (rootkit, etc.), or the problem is caused by something else.  If this is the case, I recommend Google.  You can always email me if you want, and I could offer some suggestions.

Two Googs and a Cloud


New browser on the block

Google Chrome

-New Browser from Google (Duh.)
-Much faster than Firefox (for now – until Firefox 3.1 drops with their new JavaScript Engine…anyway)
-A little strange.  The only thing that I’m missing is the integrated FTP client.
-It seems to run all web apps, both work and home, much faster.
-It’s memory management is less prone to runaway bloating when open all day.
-It’s way of saving a web-app as a program is very hand for things like Google Calendar and Gmail

Look right and Down

-I found a way to integrate my google calendar into a sidebar widget here on my blog.  
-You can click on it and it will show you the information for upcoming events on my personal calendar. 
-Awesome. 

Look Right and Up

-Added a 3D javascript tag-cloud. 
-Move your cursor around to select the different tags.
-Pretty sparse right now, but it will fill out as I make more of these.
-Ok, not Google. 

I’m a Maven

“The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell is a book I’m currently reading.  It discusses how there are three types of people that bring about change.  Connectors, Mavens, and Salesman.  Connectors connect people together, Mavens are information gatherers, and salesman sell the ideas.  I’m a Maven.  Here is how one blog summarizes the Maven discussed in Malcolm’s book. Talk about a perfect description.

Mavens are information specialists.
.

They are the ones who tell Connectors about what’s hot. They always have the newest inside scoops on gadgets and specials. The upside of Mavens is that they amass a vast store of knowledge and are eager to share it with others. The downside is that Mavens can sometimes be a bit geeky and awkward around people.

Here are some questions that will help you decide whether you are a Maven:

  1. Do you enjoy reading junkmail?
  2. Do you seek out the specials in your local store?
  3. Do you tend to watch trends and know what’s ‘in’?
  4. Do you study the market before buying a new gadget?
  5. Do you tell your friends about special deals?

If you said ‘yes’ to four or five of these questions, you are a Maven.

Mavens want to educate, not to sell.

They take delight in finding out the special deals that will save them money. And they are interested in new technology. They are the ones on the Internet who are the first to investigate new software, or a new laptop or mobile phone. And they don’t keep what they find to themselves. They publish articles about their findings or let their socia media friends know what they think.

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