Roundup

Busy weekend that was mainly indoors due to the quite lovely weather outside. Give me cold and dry any day over this wet and windy nonsense. It did get off to a great start when four parcels arrived Friday/Saturday. While not quite as good as the instant gratification of buying form a shop the fact I’d saved some cash with these purchases made it all seem a little sweeter.

First parcels were the rest of my hill walking gear. That’s me pretty well set now for the first walk 2 weeks today, a 6 mile jaunt to break everything in. The following weekend is a 12 mile walk which will be slightly more challenging. I can’t wait! Really looking forward to getting out and about. To help I’ve also picked up a couple of books including a cracking little pocket book of 40 walks close to Glasgow.

A new piece of tech was also in one of the parcels – a Bamboo Fun graphics tablet. One of my work colleagues has used one for years and I’d always been tempted. Seeing Shakeel use one over Christmas convinced me of their value. I’ve been using it today to process my London Eye photo’s in Lightroom and it is so much easier, offering far more precision than the mouse. While not essential I’m really pleased with the purchase.

Windows 7

More tech geekery – I’ve switched back to Windows 7. Can’t believe how much improvement over Vista and XP this is. So much so I…..nah – I won’t be switching back 😉 But I was impressed with it once I had it installed using Parallels 4. Quick to boot and shutdown compared to XP never mind Vista. It also looks pretty sweet. Not done to much more with it but will probably remove my XP virtual machine and use this instead.

Apart from that I started a nice new project for work that hopefully won’t take too long to finish off and I’ve caught up with the Screenwipe review of the year which was class. 24’s back tomorrow, Battlestar next week, Lost at the end of the month and FX is showing The Wire from Feb 23rd which if you haven’t caught yet should be added to your diary. Unmissable.

Oh, almost forgot. Tried Spotify today. Very impressive. Reminds me of Pandora before it stopped working in the UK.

And finally, I think. Macworld. Kind of quiet but iPhoto and iMovie 09 look to be very good upgrades so I’ll probably be upgrading at the end of the month. DRM free iTunes is good but it’s been a long time coming so doesn’t seem such a big deal. Even the Macbook Pro was fairly tame except for the non replacable battery. If that option plus the matte screen was available for the 15inch Macbook Pro I’d really consider upgrading. Thankfully it’s not!

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.

I’m Walking

Following on from the weight loss (continuing but slowing down) I’m trying something new. Hill walking. I’ve always fancied doing it but always had the excuse of ‘I don’t have the proper gear’ or people who were doing it were pretty experienced and I definitely was too out of shape to try it. However one of the guys that I play badminton with is trying to get a monthly hill walking group started…and I hope to join them.

I picked up a proper pair of walking boots last week and went out for a trial walk on Friday. Just a couple of miles to try out the boots. Thankfully they are spot on and very comfy thanks to Cotswold Outdoor who were very helpful and spent quite a bit of time helping me choose the boots. Next I need to get some waterproof gear and also something to keep me a bit warmer. It’s quite a steep initial outlay to be honest but I hope to make good use of it. The first walk should be on Sunday 9th November. Probably not the best time of year to start something like this but beggars can’t be choosers.

Even the short walk on Friday was very enjoyable. Walking through the autumn leaves brought back memories of Glasgow Uni. Walking down Kelvin Way was always nice when the leaves had fell until the rain kicked in and it turned into a nice muddy mix. Thinking back to Uni, me and Hamid walked everywhere. Walked to town, then into The Barras for some, erm, software, then walking back home. Walked to each others houses no matter what the weather. Those were the days.

The walk on Friday was also a first test for some geo mapping iPohne app’s. First up was Runkeeper. It tracked the walk with great accuracy as can be seen in the screenshot below. The other app that I’ll try this weekend coming is TrailGuru. Want to do around double the distance as the first hill walk is around 8 miles. One thing that won’t last though is the iPhone battery life. To use one of these app’s over a walk will need a battery pack of some sort. A Kensington option is looking favourite at the moment if I can find it in stock. Really looking forward to the first walk though. Don’t get out and about enough around Scotland but this should certainly help.

RunKeeper

Weight Update

Back in December I posted the last update on my weight loss. I’d lost over two stones and decided it was time to at least post an update, set a target and give me something to aim for. Well, it’s just over 10 months since I started trying to lose some weight and I’ve hit another milestone.

Weight Loss

In total I’ve lost 25.5kg, 56.2 pounds or 4 stones 2 pounds. The fourth stone was a lot more difficult than the others but in truth the biking has calmed down recently so I kind of know why. There’s also been some blips along the way (Christmas, some illnesses etc) but overall there’s a nice shape to the graph above.

So my total weight is now 98.6kg or just over 15 1/2 stones. Another 1.5kg will see me reach my true target, a BMI under 30 which would mean (according to the BMI scale) that I’m no longer obese but overweight. To some reading this that will sound crazy but for me it’s a massive difference to what I was less than a year ago.

What brings it home are things like clothes – some of them are hanging of me now and look really baggy. My waist size has dropped a few sizes and the belts are to big now. The neighbours had their two kids in yesterday and their combined weight is 4.5 stones, just over what I’ve lost. When you see the physical space that they take up and that has disappeared of me over the last 10 months. Well, it made me smile. Reactions from friends and colleagues have also been good, especially those I don’t see often.

I also feel a lot fitter. Two hours of non stop badminton holds no fears, something I couldn’t say last September. On the bike I can now push for a solid hour cycling for just under 19 miles. Some might laugh but it works for me and I’m pretty pleased the way my weight loss and fitness is progressing.

So what next? Well I expect to lose that kilo and a half over the next 3-4 weeks. I thought I would really struggle to hit this target but it’s not been too bad. So I’ll crack on and try to lose another stone by year end. And then? Maintain it!

It’s Been a While

Not posted much recently. A horrible man flu bug has got in the way of things recently but feeling better now. It got in the way so much that my new amp has been here a week now and it’s still not out the box. I picked up an Onkyo 705 to take advantage of the new audio formats now on offer. Looking forward to setting it up this weekend.

Thats assuming I’ve not been blown away – the wind has been pretty bad over the last few days. Just some snow to look forward to now. Joy!

Two weeks left before I start my new job. Can’t wait. Starting to pick up new work already and it’s looking sufficiently different, exciting, new and that’s before I start. Will be coding again when I move jobs and I’ve started to mess around with APEX in my own time – pretty powerful package and you can get a lot done with very little effort, or so it seems.

Weight loss continuing at an OK pace. Lost the Christmas gains and creeping towards 2.5 stones lost since last September. Back on to the badminton also although the calf is tightening every time I play. Not good.

Trying MarsEdit, loving CSSEdit, wondering why I didn’t use 1Passwd sooner, resisting the iPhone with it’s new tariff’s although now that I’m contract free I’m finding it more difficult than ever to resist.

Loving seeing Tory Derek Conway getting caught with his nose in the trough. I can’t understand why we can’t sack MP’s who are obviously abusing the system.

Anyway, another gale’s whipping up. Time for bed (not sleep – got the whistling wind to listen to).

Resolutions

Almost a year ago I did a quick best of 2006 and also mentioned that I had some goals for the year. Well one of the goals was to lose some weight and I’m pleased to say that I have.

It took until August before I actually did anything when I bought an exercise bike and started playing badminton again. It was hard going at first as it wasn’t just the fact I was obese. I was totally unfit. Really, really unfit. When I think back a few years to when I was at uni I was doing lot’s of sports and I walked everywhere. Fast forward 12 years and there is no sport and almost no walking – everything is done via the car now. From leaving uni to now I reckon I’ve put on around 6-7 stone. When I started exercising in August my weight was 124kg (19.5 stones). My BMI was 38.3. Shocking.

Weight Loss

Over the last four months though I’ve lost 13.4kg (just over 2 stones) and the BMI has dropped to 34.2. I’m really chuffed with the progress so far as it’s not been without hiccups. I had a quick trip to hospital, a really heavy cold (man flu – honest) and I also managed to tear my calf playing badminton in mid October. Despite this the weight loss has been slow but constant but I won’t be stopping there. I first need to work off the Christmas excess as I’m in no doubt that I’ve put on some weight while I’ve been off and away from home. However I’m keen to keep going and see if I can get the BMI away from obese so that I’m just overweight. That would mean getting down to 97kg – another 13kg so I’m halfway there at the moment. A big ask but something I’m pretty confident of achieving. Once I get to that point? Not sure really. Probably a wardrobe shop is required as I’m already noticing that some of my clothes are looking a bit looser than they used to.

At the moment I’ve not changed my diet really. I’ve cut out snacks and also reduced biscuits – my main failing. However my diet as a whole is pretty poor so I’m sure there is a lot to be done with it. As for exercise, I’ll continue with the bike at the current rate and also return to badminton. I’m a bit fearful of badminton as the calf is still not recovered 10 weeks on from the injury but a proper warm up and gentle introduction should see me OK. As for the bike I’m currently doing 50-70 miles a week and I think that is OK. Since the end of August I’ve done 770 miles on the bike burning off 23000 calories. Allegedly.

Apart from that I’m looking forward to a new job next year. Still at the same firm but moving to IT rather than Engineering so should see quite a change in day to day work. I can’t wait. I’ve been stagnating for a while now and I’m hoping the change will work out well.

Apart from that I’m itching to start programming. I’ve a couple of web app’s that I’ve been wanting to do for a while but I’ve never got round to it. It’s also been a long time since I’ve hacked anything together so it will be great to brush up on skills. There also a couple of house projects to get done that I’ve put off for a while.

And that’s it. Happy 2008 to anyone that has the misfortune of reading this blog and getting this far in the post. Hope it turns out well for you.

Upgrade

Leopard

So today was mostly spent upgrading the iMac to Leopard. All went well. In fact it was relatively painless which is more than can be said for my calf which I’ve aggravated again just walking about town. I don’t think I mentioned this but I tore my calf last week playing badminton. 10 days later and it’s still sore(r) but then I knew it would take a while to heal properly.

Anyway, this was supposed to be a Leopard post. Well I’ve not really had chance to play with it much so I’ll get the laptop done tomorrow and then take a few days to mull over what has changed. It ain’t all good you know!

Hospital Visit

It’s been pretty quiet around here for the last few days as I spent Monday and Tuesday trying out a hospital bed at the Western Infirmary. Over the weekend I’d been in some discomfort with some pains in the chest and also some pain travelling down the left arm. Although there were alarm bells ringing the pain was neither sore nor that frequent. Still, disconcerting but I put it down to a muscle strain.

Sunday it got a bit worse, Monday morning at work the pain was felt elsewhere including the legs. Something was not right so I phoned the GP and got an appointment that morning. Fast forward three hours to lunchtime and although the doctor agreed it was probably just a muscle strain she couldn’t rule out a possible heart attack or related heart issues and I would have to go to the Western’s A&E for an ECG. Nice. I’ve never actually been to hospital as a patient so this was going to be an eye opener as well as a potential shock to the system. An hour later and I was waiting in A&E. An hour after that I had been given an ECG, blood had been taken and I had been thoroughly examined. The verdict was that the heart is strong, there are no signs of any problems but a blood test and x-rays would be required to confirm the pain isn’t heart related. All sounding pretty positive and to be honest I was relieved.

Roll on another hour and the x-rays were complete and I was admitted to the Western, probably overnight as the tests would take a while. Fast forward to Tuesday, another set of blood tests, another ECG and confirmation that it’s not heart related but some sort of muscular viral infection that should clear with time. Happy days. Sort of. I’m obviously relieved that it’s not a heart problem and it’s great to hear that all the tests have confirmed it. Just hope the aches and pains subside as I’ve been warned that if they continue or it flairs up again I’ve to return to A&E to get some further tests. Hopefully not required.

As it was my first time as a patient in a hospital it was interesting to see how it worked, how prejudiced I was and how my views changed over the two days. When I entered i was expecting to be waiting for hours before being seen. I was dealt with very quickly by the whole A&E team and I can’t fault them at all. I also saw first hand the range of people they have to deal with and the difficulties they face. They do an amazing job – something I could never do and it impressed me no end. Hat’s off to the team at the Western.

As I was pushed through to x-ray and finally to level 8 I caught myself trying to find dirty areas, trying to find faults, trying to nit pick in my head, analysing what was wrong with the place. All pretty negative, carrying baggage from sensational newspapers with no personal experience to back them up. On the whole the Western was pretty clean and I had no major issues with dirt. The staff all the way through to level 8 were great. Level 8 is where you are usually sent to from A&E before they assign you to a longer stay ward so the floor has a massive turnaround in patients. In my room alone (4 beds) there were 8 patients in a 24 hour period. The volume and range of illnesses shocked me and really highlighted the difficulties that medical teams, nurses in particular face day to day. Also highlighted the problems of drink, drugs, smoking and obesity that look likely to blight the NHS for years to come. Some examples…

  • A was in with a balance problem. He could walk for 20 yards or so but would then need to hold onto walls and fences to go any further. Worked all his life and was pretty bitter about his illness. Admitted to liking a drink but not so much now. Doctor transferred him to neuro ward for a brain scan and asked was he a heavy drinker as all the signs are that drink has affected his brain and ability to balance. A real shame.
  • J1 was in his seventies and had suddenly been hit with breathing problems. He was bemused by the suddenness of it all and that his only vice was 20 fags a day since he was 16.
  • J2 was also in his seventies. He readily admitted that drinking, smoking and lack of exercise had left him in a mess. He also admitted that he wish he’d dies in his 50’s as the last 20 years were hellish. A series of problems were only made worse with testicular cancer three months ago and now a problem that prevented number two’s from appearing.
  • R was a young guy in his late teens. Admitted late on Monday night he had drunk himself silly and was brought in via ambulance. On a drip he told me later in the night he had taken 50 paracetamol as well, egged on by mates and also because he wanted to feel free. A lecture from doctors and a visit from psychiatrists didn’t seem to have helped him when I left – he was just annoyed at missing the Celtic game. If only he’d have thought the night before.
  • T was another old chap who was beyond looking after himself and whose speciality was groping any nurse in the vicinity. Dirty old bugger.
  • W was brought in an hour before I left. He’s the first guy I’ve seen who although younger than me looked about 10 years older. I must admit I pre-judged him based on his face and speech. Turns out he’s a 20 a day guy, usually at least 10 pints a day and was a drug user until 6 months ago. Once the nurses sorted him out, attached him to various devices, made sure he had a bottle to relieve himself as he said he couldn’t walk….he then pulled everything off, removed his drip and started to walk to the toilet. Nurses come in, tell him off and re-attach everything. I ain’t using an f’in bottle. Give me some f’in painkillers. Where’s the f’in doctor? Nurses assure him he is very unwell and doctor is busy but he will be there soon. He then removed everything again once the nurses had left…and they came back and re-attached everything again. As I left he was putting two fingers down his throat as it makes him feel better. If I had a gun I swear I would have used it on him and saved nurses all the grief and no doubt other people who he will hassle/rob/annoy in the future. Scumbag.
  • Then there was me. 33 year old with chest pains…and obese who probably was too lippy with the nurses for his own good and thought he always knew best.

Although I’ve painted it pretty black the guys in the room were all OK apart from druggie boy who came in near the end. Interesting to hear the old boy’s and their stories form yesteryear and talking to people who I’d normally never meet.

However hearing all their medical issues was pretty uncomfortable as the doctor did his rounds. Putting up with 72 year old guys walking around naked in the middle of the night, oxygen tanks failing and a toilet covered in urine as they older gents struggled to control themselves was also pretty taxing but I was only there for one day. The staff have to put up with that day in and day out, at the same time doing their job and trying not to be judgemental. So, so impressive. The nurses are doing a great job and on what I saw, using limited resources as they always seemed stretched and were always busy. Sometimes I thought they were pretty harsh but with hindsight they are trying to get the job done as quickly, easily and safely as possible while at the same time looking after a lot of people and you need to remember that patients aren’t always the easiest to deal with.

Doctors in general were OK but not very forthcoming with information. It was like a test to see if you could prize info out of them. Maybe I was just unlucky but it was always a struggle to find out what they thought could be wrong. Maybe they didn’t know, but I’d rather they said that than fobb you off with a glib statement.

Also of concern is A&E in Glasgow. The Western on a Monday afternoon was busy enough but think what Friday and Saturday nights must be like? The Western A&E is closing in 2010 replaced by the Southern General. That’s a big area covered by one hospital. What happens when the Clyde Tunnel is busy or closed? That’s some detour. I don’t know if it’s too late to reverse the decision but it will cause deaths. I’m in no doubt.

So that leaves me. This has been a bit of a wake up call. Sitting in the ward gave me a lot of thinking time. Priority is to tackle my weight and thankfully that’s something I had already started to address. I hadn’t posted anything here as I was embarrassed about even mentioning diets and exercise but needs must and it’s something I faced up to 5 weeks ago. So since mid August I’ve cut back on junk food and started exercising more. The result has been a 1/2 stone drop in weight to just under 19 stones….120kg. Not much but it’s a start and I intend to continue. There’s a long way to go. It’s also good to know that the heart has been checked out and is healthy. A big weight form my mind. Hopefully that’s the last post on this topic for a while…back to games and gadgets – Apple.

Oh So Quiet

Not been in the mood to post recently. Combination of work (including trip to Bristol), a stinking cold (blame rests with Easyjet) and then a migraine yesterday means I’ve not had the inclination to write anything. This means I’ve made no comments on the PS3 slip (I think it’s good news to be honest) nor on Blair and New Labour or on Saints Row being more enjoyable than GTA.

The only blessing from the last week is that it’s over and tomorrow night is showtime. That 24-inch iMac is so so tempting that I may make the plunge tomorrow. I had pretty much settled on getting a Macbook Pro but I don’t need that type of power on the go. So it may be an iMac now and the gorgeousness that is 1920*1200 pixels with a Macbook early next year. Oh – and a new iPod. For once I’d love the spoof to turn out to be true.

Anyway, enjoy the show for those watching online – no doubt I’ll post with some news in the next few days.

Almost forgot…Lord of the Rings:Return of the King looked amazing in HD on Sky at the weekend. Quality of the picture was superb and looked so much better than DVD. The Proms and the live football have also been great. Sky even managed to get a decent firmware upgrade out which has fixed quite a few of the bugs. Only grumble is lack of disk space makes keeping films etc an issue, especially now that the original Star Wars movies will be broadcast in HD before Christmas. Might have to perform a sneaky disk upgrade before then.

Shameful

Well done to Jamie Oliver as the government finally bows to public pressure over the amount spent on school meals. But did we really need:

  • A programme to highlight how bad school meals currently are and how it affects kids diets?
  • Labour lies. They had been working on the issue for quite a while said Tony Blair. Election on the way?
  • The ever more desperate Tories saying they would match anything the government spends. In fact…they’ll do more. Hang on a minute lads. I got a great idea. Mmm. Mmm. Mmm (think Italian Job).
  • If this is what the next 6 weeks are all about I’ll see you in June.