20 Pounds!

I hit my peak weight of 208 pounds last fall. Between us, Rochelle and I have gained more than 60 pounds since we met each other. At the end of last year, we resolved to do something about it.

I hit my peak weight of 208 pounds last fall. The photos of me from our trip to Tequila are painful to look at. Between us, Rochelle and I have gained more than 60 pounds since we met each other. At the end of last year, we resolved to do something about it.

Today, after about six weeks of more moderate and healthy eating, I weigh 188. I’ve lost 20 pounds! (However, looking in the mirror, I either need to hit the weight machines at the gym really hard, or lose another 10 pounds.)

I’ve been fairly successful by concentrating on only a few things:

  • Eat far less processed food (and we’ve cooked a lot at home to achieve this).
  • Minimal carb intake (but not Atkins-style meat/fat gluttony).
  • Don’t drink alcohol during the week (and beer is right out, at all times).

I came to these by combining advice from David, our friend who has lost over 100 pounds, on his own plan that is basically “No Processed Foods!”, and the Phase 1 and Phase 2 food guidance from the South Beach Diet (which is a lot more healthy than Atkins, and not bad at all for a fad diet).

All things considered, my “diet” hasn’t been that painful. I’ve gorged myself on pizza twice (once for the Super Bowl, once for the Duke-North Carolina game), eaten well most of the time, and certainly gone drinking plenty often. A little more exercise wouldn’t be a bad thing, though…

The Next Big Thing

Just read an inspirational editorial on Tim Oren’s Due Diligence weblog, which ends with a great quotation.

Just read an inspirational editorial on Tim Oren’s Due Diligence weblog, which ends with this great quotation:

Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda. That’s what a Next Big Thing is like. Footprints from your ass to the top of your head. Keep it in mind the next time the Valley Grail Quest gets trotted out by the punditocracy. There will eventually be a Valley 4.0, but the odds of any of the [experts] calling it in advance aren’t very wonderful. Most likely, it will hit rudely from behind, when least expected. So find something that solves problems for real people, gets you up in the morning, and lets you work with good folks, and dig in. That’s the way the Valley actually rejuvenates itself.

Food for thought, given that I don’t really know what I want to do next. These are three important things to look for, not necessarily to find the Next Big Thing, but to find a comfortable seat from which to watch for it.

BTW, I strongly recommend Due Diligence, an insightful, technology-focused blog written by a venture capitalist.

Rochelle. Lays. Down. The Law.

It would appear that my wife has decided I’m not doing enough with my time off, to clean up the house and otherwise work on useful projects (with “useful” being a word _she_ gets to define). She’s decided that I need to get up with her in the morning, take a bath with her, and have coffee with her before she goes off to her job. All of this to ensure that my day at least starts early enough to accomplish something.

It would appear that my wife has decided I’m not doing enough with my time off, to clean up the house and otherwise work on useful projects (with “useful” being a word she gets to define). She’s decided that I need to get up with her in the morning, take a bath with her, and have coffee with her before she goes off to her job. All of this to ensure that my day at least starts early enough to accomplish something.

I suppose this could have something to do with idolizing Sarah Hepola’s life in a previous post. Or that I can never remember everything, or much of anything, I did with the day while she was at work. Or that she’s usually waking me up from a nap when she calls home. Or that the stack of BeBox husks is as huge as ever.

At any rate, I now have to be much more productive and accountable. Expect me to blog more, so I can at least point to the posts as something I accomplished.

OK, Enough Goofing Off

Ok, it’s been two weeks of sleeping in and doing nothing (much) more than web surfing in my underwear. I should start doing some real work. So today I’m putting together a weekly schedule for myself.

Ok, it’s been two weeks of sleeping in and doing nothing (much) more than web surfing in my underwear. I suppose I should start doing some real work.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been unemployed. Rochelle and I both left our jobs about two and a half years ago. It was a coincidence, Rochelle taking a planned leave of absence to find her dream job (which she’s now doing), and my dot.bomb suddenly going under. That time we spent our days together, doing cheap stuff around San Francisco, and taking cat-sponsored naps every afternoon. For three months we basically spent all of our time together, and had terrific fun.

This time Rochelle is still employed, thank god. It’s not possible to stay afloat in SF on unemployment insurance payments, which are $370 a week, before taxes. (Yes, you pay taxes on unemployment. Tax cuts on stock dividends, paid for by the unemployed. That’s an economic plan that makes sense!) With Rochelle in a good job, we can tread water almost indefinitely.

Getting laid off is “winning the time lottery.” All of a sudden, I have time to work on the literally dozens of projects that have been building up around me. But in two weeks, I’ve accomplished nothing on any of them. Everything I’ve read or heard about being unemployed in today’s economy says that you have to come up with a routine, something to keep you on track, driving forward to the next job, or at least keeping busy and not frittering the time away. Certainly, when I took the job at Persistence after three months with Rochelle, I looked back and decided I hadn’t accomplished much with that time beyond improving my relationship with my wife. No small thing, that, but still…

I need this time to be different, in no small measure because I don’t want to do marketing in my next job. I’m planning to go back to hands-on technical work, probably software development, and that means rebuilding a number of skills that have gone fallow, as well as acquiring skills for the technologies that matter today. I have a lot of work to do!

So today I’m starting to put together a weekly schedule for myself. I need dedicated, scheduled slots for networking, job hunting, exercise, e-mail, socializing outside my house, technical development, home clean-up, blogging, bathing, naps, reading for both pleasure and research, web surfing, cat petting, going to the movies (matinees only), etc.

Some of these need to be done every day, but it’s impossible to do all of them in a single day. So I need a weekly, or even a bi-weekly schedule of activities. I’m sure I won’t get it right the first time, but with the economy the way it is in SF, I’m sure I’ll have time to perfect things. In any case, look for my first schedule draft on Monday.

All Good Things…

Today was my last day at work; I was laid off, along with a few other folks. I worked at Persistence for 27 months, all told, at a time when many people were struggling to find work. It was a good job, with good people, and I’ll miss it.

Today was my last day at work; I was laid off, along with a few other folks, in what I hope is the last downsizing needed to get back on track. I worked at Persistence for 27 months, all told, at a time when many people were struggling to find work. It was a good job, with good people, and I’ll miss it.

I know folks who have been out of work for more than a year. Scary thought. In spite of that, I’m looking forward to the time off while I look for work, to re-sharpen technical skills I haven’t used much in the last two years. I don’t want to take on another marketing job, at least not right now. I’ve been wanting to go back to technical work, and make the transition from web developer to full-time software developer.

So I have a long list of technical projects for the coming weeks or months. Rochelle has a long list for me, too, which starts with “clean the house” and continues with dinner ready for her when she gets home from work. At least for the next couple weeks, she’ll be lucky if I’m out of bed and dressed when she gets home, as I intend to “pay down” my sleep deficit.

At any rate, I’ll be signing up for unemployment tomorrow. Updating the resume. Visiting the various online job sites. Etc. There’s a lot of work to do, for being out of work!

Channel-Specific RSS Feeds

For those of you who may not be interested in everything I write (hi Mom, sorry about all the technology stuff), here are some channel-specific RSS feeds.

For those of you who may not be interested in everything I write (hi Mom, sorry about all the technology stuff), here are some channel-specific RSS feeds:

Life Tech
Self
Rochelle
Food
Travel
The Cats
The House
The Job
Haightlife
I Like
Politics & Law
Media
Miscellaneous
  Mac OS X
Anti-Spam
Technology
About This Site

Keynote

I just finished installing my new copy of Keynote, Apple’s new presentation program. It’s _so beautiful,_ I am imagining that I will borrow a Mac to be able to give a presentation using Keynote during our sales kickoff, next week.

I just finished installing my new copy of Keynote, Apple’s new presentation program, and spent a few minutes playing around with it. It’s so beautiful, I am imagining that I will borrow a Mac to be able to give a presentation using Keynote during our sales kickoff, next week.

But then I look through the available presentation themes…and none of them are professional in the way I’d like to present to the sales team. They are all beautiful, and they certainly have character. Indeed, that might be the problem. I want the gorgeous Quartz transitions and imaging, but I actually want to use a more “boring” theme.

The themes page says that it’s possible to create new themes using tools like Photoshop and Illustrator, and there are (somewhat brief) instructions in the manual, so this is probably a temporary issue. I hope that lots of people will buy Keynote, and that designers will create new themes for it. I might even be willing to pay for a themes pack. Might be nice if Apple offered such a thing as a reward to early Keynote buyers…

New Year’s Resolution #1

One of my many New Year’s resolutions for 2003 is to do something for the house, every day. It can be a small thing, like changing a light bulb, but it can’t be an ordinary thing, like washing the dishes. And every day, I’m going to list it here in my blog, where you can hold me to it. Gulp!

One of my many New Year’s resolutions for 2003 is to do something for the house, every day. It can be a small thing, like changing a light bulb, but it can’t be an ordinary thing, like washing the dishes. (Washing the dishes when it’s Rochelle’s turn might count, though. ;-)

And every day, I’m going to list it here in my blog, where you can hold me to it. Gulp!

Many days my little thing will have to do with the systems infrastructure for our web sites, mail servers, etc. Indeed, my first two days are exactly that:

  • 1-Jan: Add MIMEDefang and SpamAssassin to our mail server.
  • 2-Jan: Tweak MIMEDefang configuration to only check incoming messages, and not add SpamAssassin reports as attachments.

Still, I hope that no more than 200 of my 365 improvements will be electronic. God knows there’s enough things to put away or throw out, just in my office, that will qualify as a home improvement!

How to Get Ready for the Holidays

I have five brothers and sisters, which can make holiday gift giving very stressful, so many gifts for so many people. Years ago we simplified, with a gift exchange where we drew names out of a hat. Well, that’s how my siblings did it, but I have “more sophisticated tools for assigning gift-receivers to gift-givers.”

I have five brothers and sisters, which can make holiday gift giving very stressful, so many gifts for so many people. Years ago we simplified, with a gift exchange where we drew names out of a hat.

Well, that’s how my siblings did it, when it was their turns to run the exchange. In preparation for this year, my brother mentioned to my sister that I had “more sophisticated tools for assigning gift-receivers to gift-givers,” to which I replied:

This is the difference from me and a normal person: I looked at the gift exchange as an opportunity to spend some time writing software. I wrote some scripts that would select people out of a pool, randomly match them with people, ensure you didn’t get matched with yourself, ensure you didn’t get the same person multiple times, ensure each person got selected X number of times, where X was the number of people you had to buy for, etc. I wrote test scripts to make sure that the random assignments were at least approximately random. I thought about adding notification routines, which would send out e-mails with gift assignments without my intervention, so I wouldn’t know who got who. But then I decided that was a little extreme, and it didn’t really matter if I knew. Plus I ran out of time, and had other things to do. Uh, like my actual shopping.

Now, if you think of this as a learning exercise, rather than a personal obsession/problem, it would almost be reasonable. And then you’d ask for the software, so you could use it yourself. Except I wrote it in an relatively obscure product called UserLand Frontier, of which only Tim L. might have heard of it, and none of you would actually pay for (it’s $899 these days, but it was free when I was using it). Plus it has a really steep learning curve, so even if you got the software free, you wouldn’t know how to use it.

I suppose that, with about 3x more work, I could turn it into a web site, and that might actually be fun (uh, remember, think of this as learning, not being weird), but I don’t have it on my list of things to do in the near future (i.e., before NEXT year’s holiday season).

So, long story short, if you do a gift exchange, I recommend a hat.

Now, before y’all start e-mailing me about my personality quirks, Rochelle already beat you to the punch:

Freak! Freak! Freak! It’s clear to me that I SHOULD be taking up more of your free time so you don’t continue to “waste” it ;->

Finally, before any Frontier fans get upset about the “obscure” or “steep learning curve” comments, remember that Frontier is a developer’s tool, and I was writing to my family, not a bunch of programmers. I happen to like Frontier a lot, but I wouldn’t give it to my mother!

Who Reads Warning Labels

When I was a kid we got a VCR with an early model remote control — with a wire! (This obviously dates me.) When watching movies, the kids would want to fast-forward past the FBI warnings, and our father would make us stop.

Like a lot of people over a certain age, I remember my first VCR. My father bought an “advanced” model with a “remote control” for the family, back when a remote was a novel idea. The control had a thick wire that ran between the remote and the VCR itself — none of that infrared stuff back then!

And we’d have family movie nights pretty regularly, where we’d get a couple videos for the weekend, and watch them all together in the family room. It was a fairly big production — there’s eight of us, and some nights would have everyone watching. We’d have popcorn, sodas, or ice cream, and everyone would run around getting their favorite movie-watching items together, grabbing a good seat, etc.

So then we’d finally sit down to actually start the movie, with the house lights turned off, our anticipation would be very high…and the first thing we’d see on-screen would be the FBI warning about making illegal copies.

Now, these were exciting for the first few times, I suppose — remember, once upon a time, you couldn’t watch unedited movies at home, so for a while this was a Big Deal — but it quickly became boring, something in the way of getting on with the movie.

I or one of the other kids would attempt to fast-forward through them, and my father would yell at us for fucking around with the remote. Sometimes he’d even make us rewind the movie! More to make a point about playing around with the machine, rather than to actually see the warning, one presumes.

Anyway, I guess that kind of behavior pisses off the folks in Hollywood, too, because with DVDs, the Fast Forward button is disabled during the display of the FBI warning.

More Anti-Spam Tools

At the recommendation of a new co-worker, I recently installed Cloudmark’s SpamNet add-in for Microsoft Outlook, the e-mail client I’m using at Persistence. If you’re using Microsoft Outlook on Windows (as I have to at work), this tool should be a no-brainer.

Note: I no longer recommend SpamNet, having found more effective tools. See my Personal Survey of Anti-Spam Tools for more details and recommendations.

At the recommendation of a new co-worker, I recently installed Cloudmark’s SpamNet add-in for Microsoft Outlook, the e-mail client I’m using at Persistence.

The plug-in adds new capabilities to Outlook, enabling it to scan each message as it’s downloaded, and determine if it’s spam or not. If it’s spam, it’s sent to your Spam mailbox, rather than your Inbox. This lets you review the caught spams at another time, to verify that only spam has been filed there.

The most interesting part of SpamNet is the way it detects spam. It plugs into a P2P (peer-to-peer) network of spam reporters. Everyone who’s part of the network reports spam when it gets through their filters. After a couple people have reported any given spam, the network “learns” what that spam looks like, and will filter it for everyone else. So SpamNet “learns” about spam from the collective experience of everyone using SpamNet (currently about 40,000 people). This makes SpamNet probably the most effective anti-spam tool out there. There’s more to it than that, but not much, and you can read all about it on the Cloudmark web site.

Oh, yeah, the price tag. SpamNet is free for individual use. If you’re using Microsoft Outlook on Windows (as I have to at work), this tool should be a no-brainer.

But, there’s the catch. Today SpamNet supports only Outlook on Windows. If you use Outlook Express, you’ll be supported soon. If you’re using Netscape, or Eudora, or a Macintosh, you’re SOL at the moment.