Weekend Update

I’m going to have to wait until Tuesday to get a phone that I’ve been waiting for since last week Wednesday. I won the auction for my very own Samsung Galaxy Note last week but for some reason, paypal would not allow me to make an instant payment. I thought it was because there were some uncleared items in my account. However, even after they posted on that Friday, I still was not given the option for an instant payment. So I went ahead with an e-check which was scheduled to clear this Wednesday. I’d assumed the seller would ship on Wednesday, however it would appear that he did not. Despite messages from myself, paypal, and ebay, he did not ship until today, when I sent yet another message asking for a tracking number.

Moving to other things, I’ve been on my 1000 calories a day diet since the start of February and I may have reached a plateau with my weight loss. My strength gains have also started to slow down and the slowdown seem more limited by my nutrition than other factors. Working with formulas suggested by Andy Morgan here which follows Martin Berkhan’s leangains protocol , I’ve decided to end my 1000 calories per day diet two weeks early and switch to a protocol that attempts to satisfy the macronutrient requirements for Andy’s cutting formula. Based on my body composition at the beginning of March (and change from this Sunday), I will decide whether to continue it through March or make adjustments as needed.

According to his calculator, my BMR (using an activity multiplier of 1) is about 2008.64 (I round that down to 2000). Using that as my base, I’m on the +10%/-35% split for training and rest days. I’ve also decided (independently of the change in diet) to reduce my training sessions to 3 days a week from every other day as I’ve been doing for the past two weeks. I may increase that based on how my workouts feel between now and March. Planning my meals is going to require a bit more work, since I’m now more focused on hitting macronutrient levels, rather than caloric ones. But I think, after the first week, I’ll have a better intuition or at least preference for where I get my low fat carbs. Picking low fat low carb food is easy – after doing Atkins, you have a pretty good grasp of that.

Anyway, in case I don’t update this blog to coincide with my video tomorrow, here are the stat changes from two weeks ago:

  • Weight: 198.6lbs -> 194lbs
  • Bodyfat: 21% -> 19.8%
  • Bench press: 185 x 5 -> still at 185
  • Squat: 250 x 5 -> 275 x 3
  • Deadlift: 295 x 5 -> 340 x 2




So, I’ve been trying to figure out how to get MMS working on my phone. Clearly, I’ve not been trying that hard. Anyway, today I got it working. Currently the newest post on my other blog:



Check it out. You main learn something. . .

Am I Stupid?

I have an appointment to see a car tomorrow. The car currently does not run, the owner claims there is some electrical issue, though he’s not yet completely outlined everything he’s done to diagnose it. There are a few other cosmetic issues which will allow me to attack his asking price. Frankly, it would be awesome to be able to get the car. Unfortunately, doing so will dramatically stretch my budget. There is already a trip to Vegas in the works and I’d recently started buying up parts to fix another car so I will really need to be able to hold firm if my asking price is not met – assuming I want to try and purchase the car.┬áIt is tough because it could very well be a relatively simple problem to fix which will allow me to nearly double my investment once sold.

Well, so I went to see the car, and made an offer. Perhaps I could have gotten it for a couple hundred less, but I’m semi-committed to buying it in a couple days. And. . . I don’t exactly have all the cash to do so. I can borrow money temporarily, but that will need to be paid back, the sooner, the better. If I could sell my laptop for about $500 less than what I paid (1.5 months ago) and my awesome projector for $50 less than what I paid (almost 1.5 months ago), that will cover just about all that I’m borrowing. But I’d still need another laptop, much cheaper yes, but still likely in the $300-500 range. I suppose the other thing to do would be to sell off a few parts that I bought to fix up my broke car since I’m not actually going to be doing anything with those for a while anyway. That would help cover the replacement laptop, rest of the borrowed money, and leave me a to spend in Vegas.

I will definitely need to line up a part time job now. There is just no way getting around it. But I’m 90% sure that I know what’s wrong with the car. And assuming that I’m correct, I could be ready to sell it by the end of the month and make back all the money leaving my pockets plus more. This is going to be a big gamble. . . a big one.

My Vaio is Here!

I haven’t posted in a while. Don’t really have a good reason. I suppose I’ve been a bit more busy, but that’s little excuse. Yesterday, my new laptop arrived. I’ve posted a mini-review on one of my other blogs (http://weethomas.wordpress.com) which I’ve decided to start using primary for tech related stuff. Not that I won’t bring it up here from time to time, but that isn’t the main thrust here.

Regarding my workout/diet plan, my focus has shifted to a mixture of strength training and cardio. I was doing some reading on calculating body fat (I wanted alternative methods to my scale’s bio-impedance analysis) and found that unless 100% of the weight I’d lost between now and my goal was fat, I’d still not be at the bodyfat percentage that I want. What I would be is a smaller guy, having lost some fat but also muscle and other mass. Anyway, I’ve found that my best bet may be an exchange of muscle for fat. The strength training and cardio will help ensure that most of the net weight I lose is fat or I replace fat weight for muscle. Either way, my real target – decreasing my bodyfat percentage will be achieved. Losing weight was just how I’d initially expected to accomplish this.

Schoolwise, I need to get on the ball. I’m in the process of scheduling my proposal exam and augmenting my existing proposal document. I think if I can double the size, I will allay the fears of everyone who made their decision based on its heft. Still, this requires actually sitting down and working, though now that I have a laptop, I think this is more likely. While I feel fine coding and running simulations on my desktop in the lab, I’m still very much a person who likes working on his own machine. Despite my insistence that I’m trying to move away from bringing work home. If that was the case, I could have saved $1000 and bought a cheaper, not so powerful, and perhaps .25lbs heavier laptop.

Cost Benefit Analysis

So, I started a new diet and exercise routine with the initial self gratifying goal of getting back six pack abs. And for a couple weeks, that was pretty much the only benefit I really saw in it. I’ve certainly experienced some of the downsides – return of my repetitive stress injury in my ankle due to the significant increase in jogging that I do now. It originally started from regular playing of volleyball combine with soccer and jogging too. Luckily, because I’m not currently in a volleyball or soccer league, the amount of jumping I do (I tend to become the blocker/spiker or goalie/defense) I do hasn’t changed much and I don’t have to worry about the return of the shin problems as well.

Some point out that my diet is pretty restrictive and thus very hard to stick to. For the most part, that is not actually the case. I can manage with what I’m allowed to eat and a couple of my favorite dishes can be easily made using what’s on the acceptable list. The tough part though is snacking. I tend to be lazy about grocery shopping – pretty much only do one large trip at the beginning of the month and one smaller trip in the middle. So, aside from not having enough cheese cubes to satisfy my snack cravings, there is actually very little else I can have (as a snack) that I actually want. So while meals are usually where people go wrong, in my case, snacks could be my biggest Achilles heel (as if I didn’t have enough foot problems).

In the past week though, I’ve come to find some other benefits besides those of a purely physical nature. I’m actually eating less – perhaps due to the restricted food choices and not always feeling like cooking (which is weird, a couple years ago I was fine cooking almost every other day), but that’s going down which means my monthly food cost is also decreasing. I’m also fitting into more of my clothes purchased some time ago which means that I won’t have to spend as much to refresh my wardrobe. Furthermore, I’m getting back into decent shape (well, better than before) whose benefits while a bit more intangible are no less real.

Aside from the diet, I have made some changes to the tech in my life. I’d been working on a multimedia setup for my bedroom and recently purchased a pocket projector. While I’m not enthused by it’s one hour battery life on reduced brightness (makes movies or anything with dark scenes barely watchable without the AC adapter), it otherwise seems to be ok. I’d purchased a roku box to give that device a shot. At some point, the main projector in my living room will die and I expect to replace it with an HD capable proejctor. Currently my media device is an original xbox running xbmc. However, video output is only composite (no HD) and some 720p titles can’t be played (too much decoding work for the xbox to handle). So, the plan is when the projector gets replaced, to replace it with an HD capable media device.

Given that my pocket projector has both analog and digital outputs, I thought roku might be a good first step to play around with an HD media device. And while it seems to handle streaming video ok, most of my media actually lives on network attached storage and would require a lot more configuration on my end to work with roku. Furthermore, even the lastest roku device does not support all the media formats that my movies and tv shows are encoded. So, I need a replacement. I’d been considering boxee as a next step when I noticed that the Logitech Revue (a google tv) device has been reduced in price to $99. Given that my roku cost the same amount (and has a 30 day return policy), I think a swap is in order. From what I’ve read, the google tv should support more of my media (technically all of it, the revue has been hacked to run Android – I can install an android media player which supports all of my files). While google tv is lagging behind in terms of available partners, it can browse the web (and presumably playback flash and html 5 content). I’ll verify it’s ability to access Hulu once it arrives.

Now, as promising as this all seems, I did notice a slight flaw in the bedroom media thing. Since the living room projector is a full-size one and thus very bright, it puts out enough light whereby I can comfortably move around, see the remote, even quickly read over something or eat without having to turn on the room lights. I think the eating part will be the hardest to translate to taking place in a bed. Also, that pocket projector is pretty noisy. Coupled with the AC (though this won’t be a problem once the summer is over), it is pretty hard to hear things from the projector’s speaker (which isn’t the greatest either). So I’ll need to invest in a set of those as well.

Now, I’d also been planning on purchasing a tablet pc to take over as my primary computer. Of course, it will be interesting to see my usage of it between the revue actually having a built in web browser, especially when it makes the move to the living room (and the xbox goes to the bedroom). However, my screen configuration has been delayed by yet another month and I’m unable to wait any longer. So, I’m going with a Sony Vaio Z. This is my first Sony. . . I may have briefly owned one for a week once in my undergrad, but aside from my first laptop (a compaq) and the disaster that followed it (a Dell), I have been solidly thinkpad for the past 8 years. This marks a big departure for me but I’m hoping the power and lightness of the Z will make up for not having a tablet (though the tablet I was getting wasn’t a thinkpad either).

Still, with all these changes, I will be left over with a variety of tech which I no longer really need that were purchased in anticipation of a different technology scenario. Hopefully I can unload them without suffering too much of a loss over the next couple weeks.

Turning back to my exercise/diet, my recent NYC trip has left me at 208.2lbs. On the other hand, I’ve definitely lost a few inches on my waist, a bit on my chest and thighs. Biceps remain the same. I didn’t get in my third hour of running this past week, but I plan on doing an hour each day over the next 5 days. I still think it is possible to hit my target of 185 by the end of the month.

I am the tech king!

So, I’d mentioned the Dell Streak phones I was buying to fix and resell. Unfortunately, I ran into a small snag. It appears one of them has a broken dock port. As a result, I can’t charge it’s battery using the charger. It was the first phone I’d put up for sale, luckily though, all the others are here and I can swap that one out in the sale and list another so that prospective buyers know about the defect. I’ll have to throw in my charger which means I’ll need to buy another, but that’s the game I guess.

My pocket projector arrived over the weekend. I’m excited about this because while I still haven’t figured out if it’s an impulse buy, I now have portable projector capability and can watch movies on my ceiling. Though I need to figure out how exactly I’m going to mount the thing. I noticed what appears to be a IR window on the back of the projector. I need to check if there is a remote available for it. That would be great – because one of my concerns was interacting with media without having to reach for the laptop or phone. Of course, the remote would be limited to media played from SD cards or USB connected devices and I haven’t yet found out if I’ll need to convert videos so that the projector could play them. But we’ll discover all of this in due time.

Otherwise now I’m just waiting on my tablet. It’s the one pictured above. Due to the earthquake in Japan, there has been an industry wide shortage/delay in components and while ordered at the beginning of this month, it is expected that my tablet won’t be ready until August (though they won’t charge my card until it actually ships). I daydream about how many people have also ordered and so would be ahead of me on the list of having their machines configured and built.

In other news, I weighed in at 207.6lbs. That’s about 6lbs down since I started the low carb diet a week ago. Three times as much as I lost in the two weeks that I did the 1000 calorie diet. Though if one believes my scale’s measurement of bodyfat, or at least accepts that while it may not be accurate, it is precise, of that 6lbs, only 1.5 has been fat.

Buying Rampage

Within a week, I will be the owner of three Dell Streak phones. I’ve been buying them for cheap online with plans to fix whatever issues they have and sell them. For example, the one that arrived today was advertised as not working. It arrived in great condition, without a battery or sdcard. Luckily, a set of batteries that I’d ordered arrived today as well. Within 5 minutes, I had the phone up and running. I expect it to sell for twice what I paid – though the profits will be a bit less than that once paypal and ebay take their cut.

One of them is actually mine to keep. I’d recently sold my AWS band Dell Streak to cover a budget shortfall and happened to find one on ebay. Selling the other two will pretty much cover the price of what will become my permanent phone. If this goes well, perhaps I might make it a habit to checkup on phone auctions to snap up easy fixes. Only about 30 minutes of my time (including going to the post office) to make $150 seems pretty decent.

Speaking of gadgets, I’d also ordered myself a pocket projector. I’m still trying to figure out whether I’d classify this as an impulse buy. So far, I’m not coming up with too many usage scenarios and even the primary reason for buying (watching movies on my bedroom ceiling) seems kinda weak – just how often would I choose to watch movies in bed than on the living room projector? Don’t get me started on my new tablet. Technically I’ve not bought it yet, since they don’t charge my card until the unit is built and ready to ship, but still. . .

Today I weighed in at 212 lbs. Today also marks the start of my ultra low carb two week diet. We’ll see how this goes. I’ve even recruited a friend to give it a try. I was expecting to eat a bit more on the 4th, but ended up with just a normal amount.