Next Year

Looking back is never usually a good thing. Last year’s resolutions surrounded two main targets – lose more weight and getting more hands on with programming. Well, one out of two ain’t bad.

A picture saves a thousand words:

Weight Loss 2008

After my last weight update I wanted to lose five stones in total. Unfortunately I didn’t make that target. Since Sep 07 I’ve lost four stones and 13 pounds. One lousy pound short of my target. Grrrrrrr. Never mind, I’m pretty pleased with the weight I’ve lost and I’ve done better than I thought I would when I started back in 07. I’ve not done the same amount of exercise in the later half of 08 as I did in the first six months but something that’s obvious to me (and everyone else!) is that without further diet changes I will put the weight back on slowly but surely which is obviously not what I want to do.

So the year ahead will see some more work on the weight and another target – get another stone off. That will take me down to around 13 and a half stones which I think is good for my height/frame and make a total loss of six stones from when I started in Sept 07. BMI will still be higher than recommended but that’s a guide only and not something I’m going to treat as a hard and fast target.

I’m also taking up hill walking. Got most of the gear now (waterproofs to buy – maybe I don’t need them for hill walking in Scotland ;-)) and first proper walk should be in the next four weeks or so with one taking place each month. Should also help with another thing I need to work on – taking more photographs. I know what I need to do but like most peoples resolutions that’s not the issue – it’s getting my ass in gear – that’s the issue.

Last year also had a ‘must get into programming more’ statement. That worked, not! Don’t know how yet but I want to set aside some time, regular time at that, to program for the iPhone.

Written down it all looks pretty simple. Happy new year folks! Hope you have a good 2009.

Blog Updates

With work finished for the year (and by that I mean I’m not dialling in to work again as I would end up doing ‘stuff’) it’s given me time to make a few tweaks to the blog. So, in no particular order:

  • On the hosting side moved from PHP 4 to PHP 5. No noticeable improvements or issues except that I can now run a few extra plugins that were PHP 5 only.
  • New WordPress, new theme. I’ve moved to using Depo Clean which I’ve always liked. Hardly any tweaks – made it slightly wider and gave the sidebar slightly more room and that’s it. Still need to think of a catchy tagline.
  • Dropped the number of plugins I was using which has speeded things up a bit.
  • Added Lifestream plugin which I really like. Seems to work quickly and so far without errors.
  • WordPress 2.7 back end is very different. I actually like this over 2.6 except it still feels sluggish. So I’ve removed some dashboard entries which has helped and also moved to turbo mode using Google Gears. This install, for me, was really messy and I constantly had to enable/disable gears and refresh the install page. Now that it’s complete there is a small but worthwhile performance increase.

That’s about it really. Now onto the important matter – content. I’ve got a handful of draft posts that I either need to finish, but they might not exactly be relevant now, or ditch and move on. Finding time to blog has been difficult. Even knowing what to blog has been difficult, especially as Twitter works so well for firing off quick one liners and links. Still, I’ve a few posts that I do need to get completed over the next couple of weeks so we’ll see how it goes after that. I can never see me shutting the site down but I would like to post more so it doesn’t feel so stale. Ahh, so fuck- who cares if it’s stale. It’s my site, I’ll blog when i want to! Mmmm – there’s a tagline in there methinks.

BBC’s HD Test Card

Calibrating your HD TV is never straightforward. Lot’s more settings than a standard SD set and if you use an amp for your surround sound you will potentially get lip-sync issues too. You can pick up a calibration disk – Digital Video Essentials on Blu Ray for example which will step you through calibrating your TV. You can also use any THX DVD’s as they will include a THX Calibration tool that helps you tweak your setting (Wall-E also has a nice calibration tool as well). Another way of calibrating is to use the newly added BBC HD Test Card which broadcasts a number of times per day on the BBC HD channel.

Andy Quested has posted up a great tutorial on the BBC Internet blog that takes you through how to use test card to not only calibrate your screen settings but also adjust audio settings to fix any sync issues. It looks like the trickiest part of the process is recording the 2 tests. Directly from Andy’s blog post – the HD test card is just over 1 hour into the promo and the AV sync signal is 50 minutes later. To record both signals, check the time the last programme finishes and add 1 hour. So if the last programme ends at 01:30 set your PVR to record from 02:25 to 02:45 for the test card and 03:15 to 03:35 for the AV sync signal. The promo referred to is the rolling HD promo that is broadcast on BBC HD when there is no actual programming being broadcast. It would be far easier if these two tests were broadcast as individual programmes with actual time slots – would make recording far easier. However that’s a small niggle as these two tests are a nice addition from the BBC. I know I’ll be using them to set-up a new TV over Christmas.