Goal Achieved?

Olympian SandalOn March 30th I blogged about my goal to walk 100,000 steps in a day, and on September 19th I did just that. To put it into perspective:

  • 42.61 miles
  • 5,124 calories burned
  • 19 hours

How did it feel? For most of the day I felt good/motivated, and by the end it was painful… but the worst part was that I didn’t even care the next day, and haven’t cared at any point since doing it.

Goals Are Stupid

I thought I would feel pretty good about doing this, like I achieved something and might be proud. But I didn’t. This might have been because I had a bad week leading up to the Saturday that I did it. I’m not going to get into the specifics, but a family illness has taken its toll on me and to top it off I got a bullshit traffic ticket 3 days earlier. It has been over a month, though. Since I still don’t care, I’m left to assume that it’s just not that important to me.

Now, did I waste my time? Maybe. While one could argue that it was a great day of exercise, it took me out for a few days immediately after. Plus I hurt my knee, which is only now starting to return to normal. I could have easily (and regularly do) spread this out over a few days as extra activity and ended up with a greater net calorie loss and not hurt myself in the process. In the end that doesn’t matter, though. I didn’t do it for the net calorie loss, and I’m not upset about the time. The truth is that I’m disappointed that I don’t care about achieving something challenging that required planning, prolonged effort and dedication. It was challenging, but maybe not the right kind of challenging for me. Maybe speed is more my thing, but as of right now I have no desire to run or speed walk or anything like that.

How I Did It

When I blogged back in March I said it would be 50 miles and would take 13 hours and 20 minutes. It was shorter than that, and took much longer. I’ll cover why in a bit, but the bottom line is that doing a 50,000 day is a lot different than 100,000. Even after 75,000 it was a different pace/feeling/mindset. Anyway, I talked about building up to 100,000 along with plans for food, bathroom stops, routes, temperature, parks, etc…

The reality of it is that while I walked daily more often than not, and I did a lot of longer distance days, there wasn’t a ton of build-up. I did buy a (cheap) treadmill in April, which (surprisingly) has been great. So that changed the process quite a bit.

As far as diet goes:

  • Bananas
  • Clif Bars
  • Kind Bars (for variety)
  • Gatorade
  • A lot of water

I’m not a nutritionist or anything, but after talking with some people and reading online I decided on these items. Bananas would be great for the potassium I needed. Clif bars/kind bars for energy and convenience. Gatorade to replace the salt I was losing throughout the day. And a lot of water, to dilute the gatorade and replace what I lost, no brainer. I avoided caffeine, and think the only real meal I had was a Chipotle bowl around 7pm.

The day itself:

  • Awake at 4
  • 6am: 9,000
  • 8am: 17,500
  • 10am: 32,000
  • 12pm: 43,200
  • 1pm: 48,800
  • 3pm: 60,000
  • 5pm: 70,000
  • 7pm: 79,400
  • 11pm: 100,008

So, the day started early because I couldn’t sleep. It’s a good thing it did, because I don’t think I would have made it otherwise. I set the treadmill up in the living room the night before, and set out 3 sets of clothing so that I could change a couple times throughout the day. I was able to watch some European soccer, college football, Columbus Crew throughout the day. I even played PS4 for a few hours.

I started slow, sped up, and planned to slow down toward the end of the day. I did not think I would have to slow down as much as I did later in the evening, but time allowed for it. Most of the day was spent on the treadmill. At 8am I did walk around my neighborhood until shortly before 10am, as I took brief breaks every 2 hours. During breaks I made sure to keep moving, as to not lock up/cramp. At noon I went to the park, but started to feel the effect of walking about 18 miles and decided to come back in fear that I’d have a problem and be really far from my car. I went around the neighborhood a bit later for variety, but stayed in the remainder of the day after that.

Around 3pm I started to slow down, probably a little earlier than planned, I don’t have my plan notes to say for sure. At that point it was all about going and not stopping for any longer than I had to. Unfortunately, before I stopped to eat, around 7pm my knee started giving me problems. I think I twisted it while turning to look at something my girlfriend was showing me. Stopping to eat (less than 10 minutes) probably didn’t help. It got worse throughout the remaining 20,600 steps, to the point where I was basically dragging it along to finish. There was no way I came that far to come up short in the end.

The damage? Obviously I was in pain, primarily my legs. Immediately after I took a bath with epsom salts and rubbed them for a while. I woke up in the middle of the night and needed help getting to the bathroom 15 feet away. The next day they hurt, but were already recovering and by 3 days later they felt good again. My feet held up well, all things considered. I had 1 blister between the two smallest toes on my left foot. My right knee, that I twisted, wasn’t that much of a problem for normal use or even walking. Uneven ground and stairs were difficult, but in the end it didn’t seem 100% until I bent/used it a lot again, which wasn’t happening at home on the treadmill.

So it wasn’t perfect, or even smooth… but I’m not any kind of athlete or professional nutritionist/trainer/health professional. I picked a day, planned, and pushed through it. Some friends and family doubted me, some didn’t understand it, but that didn’t upset me or change my mind. Looking back, I don’t feel bad or regret it at all, I really just wish I felt somewhat proud of it, but I don’t. It is what it is. I nailed it when I said this, though…

If I am able to do this, I don’t think I would ever do it again. If I don’t get there before winter, then I probably give up and forget about it. Either way, it should make for an interesting next few months.

because I will never do this again, and I am ready to forget about it even though I was successful. Indeed, it did make for an interesting few months, but what now? Probably a pursuit of the mind.

Face-less

Anti-FB TweetIt has been nearly 6 months since I deactivated my Facebook account, I think it is safe to say that I’ve “quit.” There have been some real-life benefits and consequences, along with a handful of questions and awkward explanations.

Why

I had been thinking about it for a while and one day decided to just do it. Facebook is an attention machine above all else and provided very little benefit or pleasure to my life. A soapbox for people to overshare their opinions and beliefs on religion/politics, brag about some place they went or something they bought, and post pictures of their children doing things that I don’t find as cute as they do. Don’t twist this around in your head and blow it out of proportion, either. It’s not that I don’t care about the things going on in the world or hate my friends and their children.

  • Facebook is far from the best place to obtain news or discuss issues – it’s one of the worst.
  • I don’t care about the fact that somebody I kind of know bought a new car. Good for them, it’s nice car, but it doesn’t matter to me.
  • Scrolling through album after album of baby pictures isn’t fun, nor interesting to me.

Also, I’m somewhat sensitive with my information and don’t particularly like the fact that everything I do is collected and shared with advertisers and government agencies. Do I have anything to hide? No, but I don’t expect to have a reasonable amount of privacy as long as I own a Facebook account and willingly provide this information. People have this illusion that what they do and say on Facebook is private and it’s not. At least with twitter and my website I know what I post is public and people are going to see it – and I treat it as such.

“Did you delete me off Facebook?”

Seriously couldn’t tell you how many times I have answered this question. Probably half of the people I have regular contact with outside of Facebook have accused me of deleting them. Sometimes it is hesitant, sometimes it is defensive or kind of angry. Once I explain that it’s nothing personal everything is fine, but there are a good number of people I’ve had no contact with that are probably pissed off at me. Now that I’ve learned all this, I regret not posting a “here’s how you can stay in touch with me” kind of post as a warning, but it has been 6 months and I can’t go back and do it now.

I don’t miss it

I traded in a few hundred shallow friendships for time. I use that time to do things that I enjoy. I browse websites with interesting content, websites where actual discussion is possible, and have real conversations with friends. I can ask them how they are doing, they’ll say more than “good, you?” and we might even have a thoughtful or difficult discussion about life. It’s much more satisfying than the shallow experience Facebook provides.

Facebook isn’t the only way to stay in touch with people, nor is it the best way. I appreciate when people reach out to me a lot more than checking my profile every few months or giving me a ‘like.’ If you are upset because you think that I deleted you or just happened to google me and read this post, go ahead and send me an email, I’d love to catch up. You could even send me a picture of your baby and I will actually look at it and maybe even enjoy it. Like I said, it’s nothing personal – much like the Facebook experience.

Changing Seasons – Lego 31038

31038-1

31038-3Name: Changing Seasons
Item Number: 31038
Pieces: 536
Ages: 8-12
Price: $50 US
Released: June 2015

 

 

31038-4Creator is one of my favorite series and I’ve been waiting for this set to release for a while now. It is a 3-in-1 set with a build for summer, fall, and winter. The main build is the summer house, while the fall is the ‘intermediate’ build, and the winter is the ‘easy’ or ‘quick’ build. I didn’t find that any of these were different in terms of difficulty, as the build techniques are pretty straight forward. However, the winter house was the fastest of the 3. I’m going to cover them each, in the order that I built them.

Fall Build

31038-7

31038-5This was my least favorite of the 3 builds. That’s not to say that it is a bad build, but the other 2 were really good. Overall it felt tedious, there was a lot of straightening 1×1 pieces, and the interior was underwhelming. However, I did think enjoy the pile of leaves, skulls, witch, bat, and mushroom details. It was also the worst use of the red light brick included with this set.

Winter Build

31038-231038-6

I really enjoyed the winter build. My favorite part is the siding of the cabin, built with slope pieces to give it the illusion that it is built with logs. The inclusion of white/snow slope pieces (and how they were used in the other builds) was also nice. The interior detail includes a large chair, rug, lamp, desk, and fireplace. The red light brick adds a nice glow. This was my favorite build of the set.

Summer Build

31038-131038-8The summer build is the primary build of this set and uses the most (all) pieces. The interior detail is disappointing, including only a desk and chair, but the house itself is very nice. The pool with basketball/hoop is charming, though a little small. There is also a tree, chair, table, and mailbox outside. The best part of this build is the barbecue/grill, a great use of the red light brick. I’m also fond of the lawnmower and flowers/greenery detail outside of each window.

Overall

Overall this is a great set for the price point. It includes a good amount of useful pieces, including the special red light brick. It’s also nice when a set comes with instructions for 3 builds. I love the idea of having a house for each season, and will likely have each displayed during the appropriate season over the next 6 months.

First Mail Trade

People do crazy things for beer. Take trips across the country to other states and get hotel rooms, wait in lines for hours for a chance at entering a lottery, follow distribution trucks around town, take vacation days to head to limited releases, meet strangers from the Internet to trade… there is seemingly no limit to what people will do. I’ve done some of these things myself, but had never done a mail trade until recently.

I managed to get my hands on about 1750 different beers in Ohio, on work trips and vacations, and while I still have options here, I’ve always known that this is something I wanted to try. I didn’t really put it off, because I didn’t have a trade partner, but I never actively sought one. An opportunity arose to join a group trade and I thought about it for about a week. I didn’t think I was going to do it, but changed my mind and signed up.

The match that I sent to was located in Texas. I used this website to compare what is available there to what is available in Ohio. When filling out the signup they said that they loved IPAs, but enjoyed saisons and pretty much every type of beer. I sent the following:
FullSizeRender-1

 

The match that sent to me was located in Arizona. I gave him the same basic info, and we talked a little about what I liked. A couple weeks later I had an impressive haul on my counter, including snacks!FullSizeRender

Now, some of the boring details about cost, shipping, and things I learned:

  • Yes, this was absolutely worth doing.
  • Don’t buy shipping (moving) supplies from Lowe’s, it’s way overpriced.
  • Wrap bottle caps and can tabs with electrical tape to prevent them from getting snagged and opening.
  • Place bottles inside of ziploc bags incase anything does break and leak, as the entire box will be thrown away.
  • Wrap bottles and cans with bubble wrap, held on with rubberbands so that the bubble wrap can be re-used.
  • Fill in space between items to prevent shifting, continuous, and especially hard collisions between glass bottles.
  • Place box inside of garbage bag and close. Place box/bag inside of a slightly larger box, with a little more packaging.
  • It is illegal to ship beer through USPS (I didn’t try this), where it is a gray area with UPS/FedEx.
  • FedEx is a little more gentle with boxes than UPS, and has weekend delivery.
  • It cost a little over $20 to ship a 17-18lb box.
  • Print the label and drop it off at the store to avoid questions.

Update

I haven’t wrote for a while but had the itch. I don’t have a specific topic, but figured that I could touch on a handful of small things.

Walking

I had the idea of purchasing a treadmill a couple weeks ago. I looked into the cost, and sat on it for a couple days. I decided to buy it based on the fact that it really wasn’t that much money and it would allow me to get my walking done more efficiently and whenever I choose. In Ohio, now that it is not snowing, it’s too hot to go outside. A treadmill allows me to avoid going outside altogether. It allows me to avoid people. It minimizes discomfort by being in my own home. I don’t have to worry about getting bit by someone’s lost/stray dog, or a snake or something. Yeah, these are actually things I worry about.

I’ve never owned any kind of fitness equipment, mainly because I’ve never needed it. Not only that, it’s so unsightly and most of the time people buy that stuff and use it for a week and then stop. Then it just sits around, looking ugly – a permanent eyesore and reminder of how to not spend money. It’s almost as bad as wasting money on a gym membership. So, hopefully that’s not what this becomes. Seeing that I’ve been walking more for the last 2-3 years I think my habits are pretty solid, which helped justify the cost. I also bought some dumbbells because they’re cheap and apparently a really good/versatile thing to own if you want to take care of yourself just a little bit better than the average person. Too bad I don’t really know what to do with those, but at least I won’t be embarrassing myself in public and wasting money to do it. Anyway, now that I have the treadmill, 25,000 step days are common. I’m making decent progress towards the 100,000 goal.

Beer

It has been a good few months beer-wise. All of the best IPAs come out early in the year, stouts are easy to find, and April beings Founder’s chaos. One thing I’ve realized is that rare and popular beers really are not worth the time it takes to hunt them down. It’s a pain in the ass, and beer nerds are some of the worst people on the planet. I attended a CBS release, which consumed way too much of my day and required me to endure hours of stress. Was the beer good? Yes, of course. Would I do it again? No. For me, once I’ve tried it once, I am good. I’ll save the next event for those who didn’t make it to one yet this year. It helps that they had 2 other beers from Founders that I’ve been trying to get my hands on, so I do not regret going at all. But for me, things become unenjoyable once it becomes repetitive and stressful. Sure, I drink a lot of beer more than once if I enjoy it. I can go to the store and buy at least 5 different beers that are pretty damned good whenever I feel like it. It makes waiting in lines and being breathed on at the bar really unappealing in comparison. Maybe I’ll go to another next year, maybe not. Who knows. I will continue to buy as many different beers as I can, though.. always searching for hidden gems and avoiding hype. In Ohio, distribution includes a few breweries that I’ve found make consistently great beers that you can buy pretty much anytime:

  • Fat Heads
  • Boulevard
  • Left Hand
  • Sixpoint
  • Stone
  • Clown Shoes
  • Ommegang

I am sure there are a few more, but those are the ones that come to mind right now. I will buy anything that these companies put on a shelf in my local store.

Homebrewing

I spent my entire budget this month before I ever finished planning for the Hefe I want to brew for this summer. Brewing this will happen in early May, and it should be ready for June. I don’t really have a lot planned for it, just going to make a decent quality hefeweizen. 5-6%, maybe a little more on the banana side, less on the clove. No funny business.

Sports

Hockey playoffs are going, which is always great.. but better when your team is in it. I still watch every game, but meh. I hope the Caps win, but realistically think the Canadiens have a very good shot. Goaltender is my favorite position, goaltending is so important in the playoffs… and Carey Price is the best goaltender in the world right now. So, there we go. Not going to focus on the teams I don’t want to win and players that I don’t like.. no need.

But I will say that Edmonton winning the draft lottery is terrible (and pretty much killed any belief that it is fixed). Edmonton getting McDavid doesn’t benefit anybody. It’s bad for McDavid, it’s bad for the league, and it’s bad for Edmonton as long as they keep getting fed top-tier talent to waste. The team needs an overhaul, I hope that happens sooner rather than later. A lot of good forwards on that team.. now if they had some defensemen, a goaltender, new coaching staff, and new management they’d be dangerous.

Football (soccer) has started. It’s my second sport after hockey, and seeing that hockey is still going on that still has priority. I have made it to a few crew games, though. They’ve been playing great and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season. Not much else to say there. However, I did have an absolutely terrible experience with their team shop right as the season started.

They sent me a jersey with a hole in it and numbers stuck together. Apparently they outsourced the labor and whoever they hired obviously didn’t give a shit. To make matters worse, they waited until the start of the season to hire some new company to handle food/retail/merchandise at the stadium. I called, and called, left voicemails, sent emails.. nothing. Finally I started looking up individuals that worked there since they weren’t monitoring their store number/email. So, after it took days to get a hold of someone, I was relieved when they told me to bring it up and they would “take care of me.” So I did, then found out that they don’t have a press there. Okay, fine.. I’ll wait for it.

About a month after I placed the original order I realized that I still hadn’t heard anything. So I wrote back, asking if there was any update. That’s when they decided to tell me that they were unable to get any more of the jersey I bought in. They offered me a replica and partial refund, or another authentic jersey. In so many words, I told them no thanks and then asked for a full refund.

“I have to admit that I am very disappointed. This level of customer service is not representative of an organization that values its fans. It has been 3 weeks since I dropped it off, when were you planning on letting me know that you were out of stock?”

This was the reply: “We just found out that we cannot get the jersey back in. There has been a big transition with the merch department and we have been trying to work through all the issues as quickly as possible.” 

At which point I asked them to please issue me a refund or I would contact my credit card company to dispute the charge. They issued the refund and I eventually purchased gear elsewhere after I calmed down.

I was pretty pissed off about it at the time, though. Enough that I questioned if I would even follow the team anymore. After a few days I calmed down and realized that would be a pretty harsh reaction to a bad experience with their retail store. It’s not like I don’t enjoy the sport or the experience of attending games. The players themselves didn’t do anything to me. While I really wanted that jersey at the time, and I could still order one from the league, I no longer wanted it. I would always associate it with this extremely negative experience. Maybe I’ll order another next season… if I do, it certainly won’t be from the team store.

A Goal

I’m setting a goal for myself to take 100,000 steps in 1 day.

Why?

I use FitBit and was recently challenged. During this challenge I walked 30,000 steps in a day because I am oddly competitive about strange things, despite not being a very competitive person. Or maybe I am a competitive person, but don’t have competitive outlets, hmm… Anyway, on FitBit you get a virtual “badge” for the highest number of steps you’ve ever taken in a day. The “badge” is upgraded every 5,000 steps, upto 100,000 steps, which awards the final “badge.” When I hit 25,000 and 30,000 I received new “badges,” since my previous high was 24,000 something. I was curious as to how high it went, and found out that it was 100,000. It seems like an awful lot, and it is, but I realized it wouldn’t be impossible (for me), and I want to do it. A virtual “badge” is kind of silly, and obviously there are other benefits to it, but mostly I want to prove to myself that I can.

By the Numbers

On average I walk about 3.75 mph at 125 steps per minute. With that in mind, here’s what walking 100,000 steps translates to for me:

  • 50 miles
  • 13 hours, 20 minutes

Planning

I didn’t plan a 30,000 day all that well. I actually planned to do 25,000 and ended up doing 30,000 by the end of it, mostly because I wanted the 2nd “badge.” My feet hurt, I was pretty hungry, and my legs were not at 100% the next couple days. While I was able to go out and do 30,000 I know that I couldn’t just go out and do 100,000 without some planning. First, I know that I will have to build up to it, so I will probably start going out every weekend and doing at least 25,000 and increase little by little as time goes on. I’d likely do 50,000 a few times before I go for the 100,000. I don’t think I can make the time to do build all the way up to 100,000 each week or two. Though, I might have to do it that way if the jump from 50,000 to 100,000 fails. I am going to need a route, a plan for food, water, restroom breaks, etc.. Not difficult stuff to figure out, but important to remember. I’m thinking a day in the fall, while it is still warm but not hot. That also gives me all spring/summer to prepare for it. It would be nice if I could find some kind of walk/event to participate in, but most likely I will just spend a full day at a local park.

If I am able to do this, I don’t think I would ever do it again. If I don’t get there before winter, then I probably give up and forget about it. Either way, it should make for an interesting next few months.

Fin

I couldn’t tell you how many times that I have started something in my life and not finished it, but I’m not sure that is a bad thing. Why? Finishing something isn’t always a good thing. Many things don’t need to be finished, or shouldn’t be finished. A few things come to mind here…

Website

Yeah, I set up my website many years ago. It has gone through a few “redesigns.” The last time was about 5 years ago, I made it pretty and wrote like 6 or 7 articles and that was the end of that. I stopped updating it and it sat stagnant for years. Why? I work on websites all day, so the thought of working on a website after work was unappealing. Habits were set and very quickly I was paying for something I didn’t use or really need.

In my profession, I learned that websites should be focused around content, not design. It makes sense if you think about it, but when I started I had a lot of technical experience/skill and that was about it. I never thought about it before, but it was obvious. I’ve spent years working with people who want “shiny object” sites and can’t answer why they want the site.

Bring it back full circle, and here I am. I wanted a site, I made it, set it up how I wanted it, then stopped creating content. I finished the website, but now I know that websites don’t need to be finished. They should live on to provide fresh content for the audience.

So, here I am again. Why? That is something that I can’t answer quickly. I do have a couple more topics that start to fill the picture, though.

Friendships

Most people don’t think of friendships as something you need to finish. It sounds unpleasant, maybe cruel, and like someone has to be betrayed. That might be true. I’m not as close to many of my friends as I used to be, and that is okay. It really depends on the friendship and how things are handled. Most of my friends are married and starting to have children. While that isn’t for me, yet… I realize that is great for them. For the most part we have managed to stay in touch, and even though we are distant, we maintain a certain amount of respect for each other. However, there are 3 friends that come to mind that have taken a little.. different of a path. I realize that all relationships are unique and none fit into a standard mold, but these stand out. My friends may read this and I am okay with that. I’m not trying to embarrass these people, I’m just telling a story from my perspective. This is all stuff I’ve said directly to these people in previous conversations, I’m not calling them out on my website. In other words, it’s all old news… done and over with.

E

Someone I wasn’t that close to years ago, that I reconnected with through a common interest at my 5 year high school reunion. This is a friendship that started small many years ago, went stagnant, and thanks to that common interest was revived. That interest is gone, in both of our lives, but this friendship lives on. We don’t talk every day, but they’re a great person and I do value the friendship. This is a great example of a friendship that started small and grew into something greater. It didn’t need to be finished.

J1

This is somewhat difficult to write. A very good friend of mine years ago, separated by college, revived when we returned home. Until… a very sudden relationship that quickly turned into marriage and then 1 kid, and 2 kids. I’m not angry at this friend for what has happened, because I want them to be happy. However, there was a pattern of them only talking to me when they needed something. I had a few parties, invited my close friends (and partners) who were still in the area, and this friend never made it. Excuses ranged from silly to “you’ve got to be kidding me.” I actively tried to end this friendship, but they’ve continued to contact me and made a positive impression when it mattered most. I feel bad for the way that I’ve treated this person, but I had reason. Right now I’m not sure where things stand, but I know that I could rely on this person if needed because they don’t hold grudges. I also try not to hold grudges, so knowing what I do, I would be there for this person. Friends wouldn’t be a stretch, but we’re certainly nowhere near as close as we used to be. It happens. No need to finish the friendship and end things completely.

J2

This one probably should be… but is not difficult to write. This is someone that I met in middle school who was always looking out for their own best interest. This person used me for years whenever they didn’t feel like driving somewhere or needed computer help. I lived with this person during my first year of college and had an incredible amount of time invested in our friendship. It makes me feel foolish to be honest and it’s kind of embarrassing to talk about. Why? Because I learned that our friendship meant nothing to this person. This friend was in a pretty serious, long-term relationship during college. I went up to visit my girlfriend (in the same town) one summer, and ran into them at a local bar. A year or 2 later I saw the engagement photos, congratulated them. Never did I expect one of my best friends to not invite me to their wedding. Want to know how I found out that the wedding was taking place? Somebody told me at our 10 year high school reunion. The wedding was a month out and I had no idea it would be taking place. I let it be for a while. One night I decided to ask why I wasn’t invited. It’s not like I expected to be in the wedding, but I did expect to be invited, and if not invited – at least told that it would be taking place and receive an explanation for why I wasn’t invited, too many people, family only, etc.. who knows. Anyway, I was told that they “didn’t know why” they didn’t invite me. They had “to make some tough decisions, but I’m the one person they regret not inviting.” They weren’t too surprised to hear my response. I wasn’t nasty, but I wasn’t nice. As far as I am concerned the friendship is over. In this case, the friendship needed to be finished. It clearly meant nothing to this person, and I’m better off without it.

Facebook

I wrote a post about deleting my Foursquare account a few years ago, nobody cared that I deleted it. People praised the post for being so blunt. I’m not going to get in to the details of that, but I feel like history is repeating itself. Here I am, writing about why I deleted my Facebook account.

Why? It’s stupid. Facebook is a terrible company who sells information willingly given to them by people who don’t know any better. Even worse, you may as well be writing status updates to the government. Since you volunteer the information through a third party, the government can access it without a warrant, it’s a legal loophole. “Yeah, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t have anything to hide.” Luckily, I don’t. But that doesn’t mean I like people poking around my personal business.

Not only that, it’s a waste of time. I used to open up my browser and open up Facebook, scroll through a bunch of nonsense that I really don’t care about and then close it. The only thing I miss is being able to stay in touch with people once in a while that I don’t normally stay in touch with. However, when I really think about it – I communicate with the people I really want/need to. I don’t need to connect with people on Facebook if we’re not interested in communicating with each other otherwise.

The only difference between deleting Foursquare and Facebook is at least Facebook worked properly and people were actually upset about me deleting my account. It was like I betrayed them, personally. “How am I going to keep up with you now?” Have you not heard of instant messaging? Email? Websites? Call me on the phone!

Facebook is a stupid waste of time, and I finished my account. So long to 2004, so long to advertisers, so long to the US Government.

Full Circle

Anyway, back to the point. I plan to write more often, because websites aren’t about design and developing websites. It’s about content. I can write about whatever I want because it’s my website. People may like it, maybe not.. doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have to be a chore to me.

Some friendships enhance with time, some change, some degrade and blow up. If I have time to write, great. If I’m too busy with friends, even better. Who knows, maybe I’ll even make some new friends, or meet people who share the same opinion through my website. Better than being used and betrayed!

Lastly, I’ve eliminated useless time sinks from my life – like Facebook. This saves me a ton of wasted time to focus on things that actually matter to me, like my website, or job, or friendships… imagine that.

Regardless of what happens, I’m glad that my website is no longer finished like it used to be. It’ll make for much more interesting, and more content.

Why I deleted my Foursquare account

While hesitant at first, I eventually signed up for a Foursquare account and from that moment began “checking in” everytime I went somewhere. The longer I used the service, the more frustrated I became and today I decided that I had enough.

Foursquare in an Ideal World

Foursquare is a fun service that encourages you to get out and “do more.” You can see where all of your friends are at and get tips about local businesses.

The Reality of Foursquare

  1. Most of your friends don’t use it.
  2. Everytime you go somewhere, you will immediately pull out your phone and spend a minimum of 1 minute checking in – if you are lucky.
  3. The database of venues allows for all users to create venues, but a significantly smaller amount of users to make changes. What tends to happen is some idiot creates the venue with no information or creates a bunch of duplicates. In order to get anything fixed, you have to post on some bullshit forum thread and wait. Sometimes they fix it, sometimes they don’t. Whether or not your “suggestion” based on the knowledge you have as a local becomes reality is dependent solely on the opinion of some e-peen stroking “power user” that knows absolutely nothing about where you live. I’ve checked-in over 1000 times to some stupid number of different venues, hold 16 mayorships that each contain perfectly formatted information – yet I am powerless over my own city.
  4. Most of the time your smartphone application can’t determine where you are at. It’s pathetic when I am standing inside of a store and spend 5 minutes refreshing my phone so I can check in.
  5. Oh, guess what… the venue you want to check in to doesn’t exist – have fun sitting in the parking lot punching in the address from your receipt. <sarcasm>You could just create the venue with no information at all or duplicate it, hell – everybody else in your city is doing it</sarcasm>.
  6. Recently Foursquare rolled out anti-cheat checks that simply compare your smartphone’s determined distance from the venue to an acceptable variance based on how spread out previous check ins have been. This would be great if it worked correctly, but it doesn’t. End result of spending 5 minutes checking in is a message telling me that my phone thinks I’m too far away and I don’t get points or credit towards mayorship. <sarcasm>Awesome</sarcasm>.
  7. Foursquare servers become overloaded at lunch time every single day. It has been this way for months and they have done nothing to solve increasing scalability issues.
  8. Even if you aren’t the kind of user to put your home on there or accept friendships from strangers, do you really trust a service with information about where you are located at any given time? I don’t.

The gist of it is that I am tired of having to dick around on my phone every time I go somewhere and using a service shouldn’t be frustrating. I shouldn’t be spending more than a few seconds using a service like this or distracting myself while driving in order to win “nerd points IRL.” On top of that, it’s 2010 – there are digital directories of businesses that Foursquare should be using to populate their venue database. It would be far more accurate and less frustrating than the current half-assed system they have now.

The best part about Foursquare is that it was easy to delete my account. I feel sorry for myself that I wasted so much time and allowed myself to be completely distracted by an obligation to check in every time I went somewhere.

Android Apps

I’ve been on Android for 2 or 3 weeks now, overall I like it.  Here are some apps that I recommend…

Of course there are others that I use, but chose to leave out because they aren’t good and just convenient. I’m sure there are other exceptional apps that I haven’t found yet, let me know if you have one.

Advanced Task Killer

See what system bloat is eating memory, close apps that you are no longer using. Can be done manually with the app, a 1 click widget or set to run on a timer. Free version will suffice for most.

Alchemy

Game, mix elements and see what it makes.. time killer.

Converter

My pick for a units converter, basic and advanced options.

DoubleTwist

The default music player is okay.. but this one is better, plus the desktop app is really easy to adjust from (because it mocks) iTunes/iPhone

Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Youtube

Covers social media.. get the official apps, don’t bother with any of that integrated garbage built in to your phone’s UI. Also, the twitter app is good – don’t understand why somebody would use anything else at this point. All of these work pretty well, though facebook opens my browser for some basic functionality – complete fail.

FxCamera

It’s a camera with Fx, interested? Check it out for yourself.

Google Sky Map

Any kind of nerd that wants to see stars will love this.

Google Voice

If you aren’t using Google Voice yet, please let me know why not.

Instant Buttons

Funny little app with internet memes and ebaums world sound clips.

ixMAT Scanner

Turns your camera into a barcode scanner, supports DataMatrix and QR too.

Meebo IM

Any IM service, one app – simple and easy.

PixelChaos

WarioWare wannabe.

RemoteDroid

Turns your phone into a trackpad and keyboard for any machine on your network. Uses Java. Great for my media center PC.

SNesoid ($)

SNES Emulator , seems to work pretty well on my phone. Recommended for RPG games, other games – hesitant based on your phone/controls.

Speed Test

speedtest.net on your phone.

Spirit level Plus

I wouldn’t do any construction with it, but if I am hanging a picture this will do.

Tasker ($)

Powerful automation software, may be difficult for someone without logic/programming background to use. There are a lot of pre-made profiles on their wiki though. Well worth the cost.

TeslaLED

Flashlight, has morse code and strobe functions.

Uninstaller

A better way to remove unwanted apps.

Wifi Analyzer

If you are on the go often (and like to steal wireless) or just want to see a lot of information about nearby wireless networks, this is nice. Helps you to select the best channel for your network.

I hate forms

Web forms are great at 1 thing – requiring and guiding a user to fill in necessary information in the proper format and making sure it is routed to the proper person. With that said, I hate when I see a form on a personal website. Forms are not great for general contact, the type of contact that is typically made from a personal website. If I just want to say Hi, what’s up – I don’t want to fill out a form and I shouldn’t have to track down or guess the Email it goes to either. – It should be right there.

For those trying to hide their Email address, for whatever reason – loosen up or use a fake address that forwards to your actual account. Don’t trouble your users with a pointless form. Forms are also a sorry excuse for spam prevention – but luckily this is something that can be fixed. Sorry, I don’t have a way to make sure people include meaningful information when they contact you by Email

Tricking a bot

When a bot scans the Internet for Email addresses to spam, primarily it’s poorly programmed to find the @ character and report back everything before and after until a space character is found – most commonly an address, which can then be sold, spammed, etc. Luckily a few HTML escape characters are enough to fool most of these bots – preventing the need for stupid forms and using cheesy tactics like -at-.

What is an escape character? Essentially a reference to an ASCII value. When used in HTML, the browser/OS will (magically) turn it into the character it represents when rendering the page. Since rendering pages is extremely inefficient for a bot scanning the Internet, most of the time escape characters will evade detection. Here is an example:

  • Bot: &#064; = &#064;
    The bot will read it as &#064; – how it is seen in your code, no conversion takes place
  • User: &#064; = @
    When the page is rendered, the user will see the intended character due to the conversion

It’s worth noting that some of the ASCII values are OS specific, therefore won’t validate, but in terms of characters not matching up correctly, I think the days of having to worry about that are long gone – as what I’ve tested works fine. Also, spam is a minor issue today compared to years ago, considering even a bad spam filter catches most spam by searching for messages (No, I’m not kidding) containing these few words:

  • Rx
  • prescription
  • r0lex
  • drugs
  • viagra
  • pfizer
  • cialis
  • kin
  • lottery
  • casino

Lastly, if you need a list of escape character codes, try google. Now get rid of those impractical forms, please.