Posts in Random

New Years Resolutions 2012

Jan 29
Random

A nasty cold, planning a wedding, and perhaps a little bit of procrastination have all kept me from posting my new years resolution’s until almost the last day in January. Not the great start to the year I was hoping for, but hey, what are you gonna do, right?  I had a list of ideas but just couldn’t get it narrowed down until now.  Having said that, here they are:

Learn A Foreign Language

This is something that I have wanted to do since I graduated college, and have never really gotten too far, I started teaching myself German two years ago, but that only lasted about a month and never got very far.  This year, I am going to do it!  I don’t know what language, I might try German again or I might go for something completely different.

Visit One Foreign Country

Traveling intentionally is another thing that has been put off since graduating college. There are a ton of places I would like to visit, but all I really care about is getting out of the country at least once this year, not really where.

Lose 37lbs

My post-triathlon workout last year consisted of eating pizza and watching tv, so I have a little catching up to do in the weight department. Thirty-seven pounds will get me back to a good weight for me, but isn’t so much that it seems unreachable.

100 Push Ups, 20 Pull Ups

Speaking of triathlons, I really wanted some kind of fitness goal this year, and instead of a sport, I thought I would focus on two exercises that have frustrated me my entire life: push ups and pull ups.  Perhaps it is left over emotional baggage from being the “hefty” kid when I was younger, but push ups are never easy and pull ups are downright intimidating to me.  Even when I was in good shape I would max out at about 60 push up and maybe 7 pull ups. Well, this is the year to take them on!  Before the end of the year I want to complete 100 consecutive standard push ups, and 20 consecutive pull ups.

Launch three websites – at least one personal

I really have been enjoying website design lately, and want to continue to create new sites.  This year I want to create at least three new sites from scratch, with at least one being a personal project that I come up with myself.

Volunteer More (250 hrs.)

One thing I have really disappointed myself in lately is not volunteering more.  I want to fix that this year, and putting a hour total to it will be a good way to keep me motivated. I am hoping to get back in touch with Habitat for Humanity in Kent County, but if anyone else has good volunteering ideas in the Grand Rapids area, let me know!

Have the best wedding ever!

I’m getting married on June 30th, 2012, so obviously, making that the best it can be will be the most important thing I do this year!

 

Well that about sums it up, hope everybody has a great 2012!

 

 

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My 2011 Resolution Review

Jan 3
Random

December, a time of family, celebration, and oh yeah, realizing it’s time to own up for how you did with your New Year’s Resolutions. While I had a few rough spots, all in all, 2011 was a good year for me.

Complete a Triathlon (Olympic Distance)

This is probably the one I am the happiest about. I remember setting this as a goal last year and it seemed so far from realistic that I really didn’t think I could pull it off, but I did!  I completed the Olympic distance Grand Rapids Triathlon in June. It was a ton of fun, a lot of work, and if you are interested in one at all you should definitely do it!  If you want the details you can see them here.

No Ice Cream

This one was actually a little easier than I thought.  Sure, the occasional bowl of moose tracks was really tempting, but it was a lot easier than giving up pop was last year.  Surprisingly, it has helped me to change how I am going to set goals for myself in the future, who would have thought little old ice cream could be so philosophical.

Develop one new website/service

Another one I was able to complete, I actually set up quite a few sites this past year.  I think my favorite though was this site for my friend’s comics – jakerohdy.com.

Become proficient at shooting a handgun

While I don’t think that I will be winning any USPSA contests any time soon, I have become a pretty good shot. I ended up buying a Browning Buckmark .22 and have had a blast shooting it.  I’ve also shot a few other .22’s, a couple of 9mm’s, a Glock .40 cal. and a .38 special revolver.  Given that I had never shot a pistol before this past year i would call this another win.

Blog once a week

Ah yes, blogging, the one I set every year and then fail to deliver.  Based on the total blog posts I have written (52) between brentswisher.com, teageek.org, and thewebcounts.com, I actually made it this year to the equivalent of one post a week, but I can’t really count this one as a success. I had wanted post weekly to teageek.org and haven’t written there since August.  So I guess this is a sort of win, but since technically the goal was once a week, I’m going to have to classify this one as a failure.

Monthly Challenges

This was the first year I tried to complete a different challenge each month, and it was a fun and interesting test run. Here is how they broke down:

January: Lose 15 Pounds
February: Work Out 5 days a week
March: Read 10 books in a month
April: Clean/De clutter Entire Apartment
May: None
June: No TV
July: None
August: Write 5 blog posts a week
September: Find a new workout
October: Vegetarian
November: Decrapify for Christmas
December: None
As you can see I missed a few months entirely, and while I didn’t totally complete some of the challenges, I usually did make progress.  It was a fun learning experience and helped me to keep things interesting.  I’m going to do something similar next year, but want to take some time to think about how it went and what I can do to make it better.

Well that’s it!

The Official Count:

4/5 Resolutions Successful
4/9 Monthly challenges completely.

Onward to 2012!

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The more things change, the more they stay the same

Aug 7
Random

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
That’s one phrase I remember from college. I’m not sure where the phrase originates from, but I’m pretty sure I heard it from the head of the CIS program at GVSU, and professor for one of my final undergrad classes. At the time I thought it was a little strange to be coming from a technology professional, because we were inundated everyday with how once we get out in the “real world” if we didn’t keep updating our skills and staying on the cutting edge we would get left behind. As I go through the beginning of my career however, I am beginning to see the wisdom of that phrase.

Lately I have been reading a book called Blogging Heroes. A spur of the moment grab from the library, it interviews 30 of the top bloggers at the time about their experience and advice for blogging. The book is a little dated, published in 2007, but most of the bloggers they interviewed were still relevant, so I thought it would be a decent read. While it was interesting, what I found most intriguing was their perspectives on blogs. Most started their blogs in the early adapter stage of blogging, and talk about how they didn’t know where blogs were going. What was so interesting to me is that if I changed the word blog into social media, Facebook, or Twitter it looks remarkably similar to many articles I read today. Will ____ survive the test of time? Does ____ really add business value? Are ____ too personal and biased to be considered journalism? Across a period of four years and a ton of technological advances, the same questions are being asked now. Today, blogs are mostly taken for granted as a good idea that will be around for a long time, now it is social media that is being questioned.

As I look at other aspects of technology, the phrase rings true as well. Printers today are wireless, vibrantly colored, direct-from-camera enabled, and yet, I spend as much time un-jamming and power cycling them as ever. Today I program mostly in coldfusion, jquery, php, and asp.net, but the concepts I first learned in basic HTML and Java still hold true and influence how I code. Despite how connected and networked our everyday lives have become, the go to utility to test a connection (ping) has been around since at least the early 80’s, probably before I was even born.

It seems, especially concerning technology, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Forbes: 18% Content, 40% Ads

Mar 10
Random

I was browsing the web today and came across this article: http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2011/0328/billionaires-11-profile-yuri-milner-billionaire-friended-web.html. It looked interesting and I wasn’t sure who Yuri Milner was so I thought I would check it out.  Once I got to the page though, I was so confused by Forbes layout, that I never got to actually reading the article.  By far the most overwhelming thing on the page was an ad about investment mistakes. WTF? I came to learn about Yuri Milner, not my own lack of investment prowess.  I then looked around and realized something: the vast majority of the page wasn’t actual content. I was curious so I fired up Photoshop and broke down the different sections (White Space, navigation, Content, Ads) of the first screen of the website, (no scrolling aka “above the fold”) by width and height.  Then, brushing off my basic geometry skills, got the pixel area of the different sections and compared them to the total pixel area of the page.

Here are the results:

Navigation: 15%
White Space: 27%
Content: 18%
Advertisement: 40%

No, you didn’t read that wrong.  Advertisement took up over twice as much space on the first screen of the article than the content.  Maybe that’s why the article had to be six pages long.

Just another example of print media just not getting the web, and page design being driven by a bottom line.

Here are some screen shots:

 

Forbes Article Screenshot

Forbes Article Screen Shot

Green = Content, Red = Ads, Light-Blue = White Space, Dark Blue = Navigation
Forbes – Content Overlay

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Uncommon Ideas for IBM’s Watson

Feb 18
Random

Like every true geek, I watched the very interesting Watson vs. Past Champions Jeopardy series this past week, and it was very entertaining.

IBM WatsonIf you missed it, there is a good recap here.  Basically, IBM created a distributed system that was designed to learn the intricacies of the human language, and answer trivia style questions based on its massive database.  It was a great show, and I enjoyed seeing the answers that Watson would consider and their probability of being right.  IBM has said that one real world application they are looking into is health care.  While I think this is great and look forward to seeing the changes it brings, I also starting thinking of what other ways Watson could be used.  Some practical, some, not so much:

Spam Filtering

I thought this could be interesting because I’m pretty sure that Watson has a better understanding of the English Language than a lot of

spammers:

Under forecasts of experts "Kaspersky's Laboratory", in 2010 of a spam does not become less
-via spamuseme.blogspot.com

Watson could process an email, and then give it a probability based on whether it was a real person or not.

Answer Site

Yahoo Answers, LinkedIn Answers, Quora, I know, I know, but how cool would it be to have a computer instantly answer trivia for you?  No waiting, no trolls, no idiots who think they know the answer to everything.  Maybe even set it up as a twitter account, to keep it simple.  Admit it, you are already thinking of things to ask it.

Sports Betting

Just to be clear, I’ve don’t bet sports or really know that much about it, so maybe this is way off.  I have to imagine though, if you fed Watson all of the stats from the last 4 years of baseball, his probability algorithms could do some pretty sweet stuff.  Add to that his ability to understand the human language, which means he could process sports writers and analysts, and he would have to be fairly accurate.

Drive-thru Attendant

Okay, admittedly more than a little silly, Watson would make a great drive-thru attendant.  While I don’t eat fast food often, it seems almost inevitable that the order I place, if anything other than a number, is some how changed into something else by the time I get it.

Well, that’s all I have, what about you?

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