Yesterday we took the kids in to see Exxopolis, a giant inflatable scupture sitting out the front of the Sydney Opera House. The first photo is one I took on Tuesday while walking down for the Matmos gig. The rest from yesterday. You can see there's a really odd light inside, that's sunlight coming through the plastic.
It's an amazing artwork and must have enormous amounts of clever thinking and engineering behind it. The kids loved running around and exploring it, getting us "lost" inside.
Afterwards we had pizza overlooking the harbour. Lovely afternoon and evening out and the kids had a ball. We're very lucky to have this kind of amazing stuff happening in Summer.
It's January in Sydney which means Sydney Festival time. That's when Sydney's centre is transformed for a pretty damn awesome art and culture festival. There's always a stack of awesome gigs, plus free stuff too.
Last night we went to see Bonobo, though not part of the festival. Loads of fun and it's always amazing to see gigs in the Opera House's Concert Hall. One of the great spaces for music.
Next week I'm off to see:
Hopefully we'll get a chance to take the kids for a bounce on Stonehenge too.
In May last year I started wearing the annoyingly-capitalized Jawbone UP device. It's a wrist band that tracks your movements, syncing the data with an app on your phone. It's part of the whole Quantified Self movement where people measure aspects of themselves and their lifestyle and use the data to optimize.
For me, I thought it looked like a cool piece of tech and I was curious what I'd find out about myself and my activity. Having endured the past 4 years raising young kids, I was particularly interested in my sleep patterns.
The device itself is pretty straightforward. It's a rubberized wrist band with a button on one end and a cap covering a headphone jack at the other. A couple of LEDs shine through to indicate the modes it is in and battery status. Syncing is done by plugging into your phone's headphone jack and opening the app. Newer units use Bluetooth to do this wirelessly, which would be nice. Charging requires a proprietary converter to charge on USB, which is pretty annoying given the ubiquity of the rather small Micro-USB these days. Hopefully wireless syncing devices will have that standard connector in future.
Pressing the button can do a few different things. You switch to "sleep" mode by long-pressing once. It then measures your movements to get an idea of your sleep patterns: how long it takes to get to sleep, how often you wake up and your periods of "light" and "deep" sleep. It divines all this from your movements. Not sure how genuinely accurate this is: I'd love to see a sleep lab study comparison.
Long-pressing the button twice starts logging an activity. You use this for gym workouts or other special exercise periods you want to log. In the app you can define what the activity was and it'll log an average calorie burn for the period.
The app itself ignores a lot of Android conventions, like the menu button, which makes it plain annoying. Pinch zoom doesn't work on things like timelines, which is just ridiculous. No, I don't want to just look at "today" thanks, and I don't want to be swiping for another hour to get where I want to.
The limited UI means I didn't get to spend much time with the data itself. That limits the insights you might get. You have to think to open the app and record your mood, or how well rested you feel. So then it's hard to correlate the data with how you feel.
At launch the Android app didn't integrate with other apps. Now it does, though I haven't used it. Not sure if there's some way to suck the data out for your own purposes.
A couple of months after buying my device, it stopped holding charge. I'd plug it in and the battery just flat out wouldn't charge, in fact it would lose charge while "charging". The retailer, Exeltek, flat out failed to respond to my return requests. So a big fuck you to those pricks, don't buy from them. Fortunately the Australian distributor were quite good. Though they then had no stock and it took about 7 weeks to get a replacement. Sounds like this isn't an uncommon problem.
Over the Xmas break, while bodysurfing up on the Central Coast, I lost the device. Was flailing my arms around swimming to get onto a wave and the thing popped off, never to be seen again. I tried in vain to find it, but pounding surf and all it was kinda impossible. Doh!
So while I wouldn't strongly recommend the device, it's kinda cool and not too ridiculously expensive. They seem somewhat unreliable, and the app UI is annoyingly crap. If you could get the data out, it might be cool.
The wristband thing is vital for me. I don't wear clothes in bed, so the sleep function works best in a wrist band. Fitbit and other devices have a sleep band, but otherwise you have to carry it somehow. That seems clumsy and I'm likely to forget it. A wrist band works much better for me.
The vibrating idle alert is awesome. Does anyone know if other devices do this?
I've never been a skinny guy. The fittest I've ever been, playing rugby in my mid-teens, I was still chunky bloke. Helped me avoid being bullied. As an adult, my weight has gradually crept up. Finally I've decided to do something about it, mainly because the 5:2 diet came along and appeals to me.
The idea is you can eat anything you like 5 days a week, but for 2 days a week you drastically reduce your calorie intake, 500 kCalories for women and 600 for men. This has an important psychological effect. With a normal diet, high calorie foods you really love are pretty much off limits. This diet means that on fast day you can say to yourself you can eat the thing tomorrow. You won't necessarily eat it (I find my appetite is somewhat lower the day after a fast), and obviously you can't go absolutely nuts and you should aim for normal moderation on non-fast days.
You'll read some stuff about other health benefits from fasting, things like the "repair gene" and the like. I'm dubious. The science behind these claims is only solid for different patterns of fasting: long-term fasts, alternate day fasts and the like. There hasn't been much research into this particular pattern, though the weight loss parts are pretty clear.
For me, I've been doing it since the end of October and in those eight weeks I've lost about eight kilograms. That's about as fast as you want to lose weight in a sustained fashion. Other indicators are also good: I've dropped three belt notches, my "tight" jeans are starting to feel loose, I'm contemplating buying a bunch of new clothes, and my blood pressure was described by my doctor as "perfect" last week, which is awesome.
I think the psychological aspect of this diet makes it really easy to sustain. It takes some planning and being a data nerd I have a spreadsheet to track what I eat and various measurements to track my progress. By planning things in quite a bit of detail, you can focus on bulky but low calorie foods that will fill you up and ward off hunger. I rarely feel particularly hungry. Lunch time I actually have later than normal days, though I do drink a fair whack of caffeine on fast days. By dinner time I'm generally quite hungry, but not for hours beforehand, and if I've chosen good food options I'm not hungry again until morning.
The eight weeks have flown by, Tuesdays and Thursdays are my regular fast days and I've developed a bit of a routine. On fast mornings, I get up and make the kids their breakfast. Then I start my own breakfast of Shakshouka, a North African dish of tomatoes and eggs that I've been eating regularly for a fair while.
While that's simmering, I chop up a huge amount of vegetables, particularly carrots, to eat raw for my lunch. I might pop out into the garden and harvest whatever's going there too, mostly lettuce and rocket. While I'm preparing all this, I weight and write down each piece. Once I get to work I'll look up the calories pm Calorie Count and fill in my spreadsheet, which gives me my calorie budget for dinner.
Shakshouka (~240 kCal, but weight your ingredients)
(This picture is taken pre diet and so it's probably a fair bit bigger and has some other ingredients.)
Dinner is often some simply cooked fish like flathead and some more vegetables, steamed or raw, eaten with the kids. Tuesday nights have become fish night in our household. We've also been enjoying Haemul Paejeon, a Korean prawn pancake, which is ridiculously quick to make and packs a massive amount of flavour. I've also tried out a few other recipes, there's loads on the net.
So I'd have to say I strongly recommend this approach to weight loss. I've been doing it two months and don't feel like I'll stop until I hit the healthy BMI range, which at the current rate will be about February or so. Even then I think I'll go on a maintenance regime, perhaps a fast a week. We'll see how I go over the festive season, there may be some setbacks...
Wow this was way more painful than it should've been. SSL is hard!
So I followed the instructions from Gandi and ended up with a private key, a certificate signing request, a certificate and an intermediate certificate. To load them into the Load Balancer, you can't do it directly from the Elastic Beanstalk console, instead you go to the EC2 console and look at your Load Balancer. Go to the Listeners tab and add an HTTPS listener, click "Change" on the certificate and upload a new certificate. Here's where I got really stuck. Turns out the private key is in the wrong format.
openssl rsa -in <private key> -out server.key
Use THAT file for the private key, and all is hunky dory.
Don't forget to include the intermediate key too, which you download from Gandi.
Just to save anyone having to bugger around to set up this printer, it's dead easy. This printer is in HUB Sydney, and I wanted to use it.
Go to the CUPS configure printers thing. Open up Network Printer and click Find. Wait a bit and it'll show up, assuming you're on the same network as the printer. Select it and click Forward.
Select "Generic" and click Forward. Then choose Postscript and the default sub-selection for it and click Forward. Name the printer, click Apply and you're done. That's it!