The personal website of Chris Coyier

Archive for September, 2010

It’s No Secret

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

I’m overweight. There is only one good way to lose weight, and it’s no secret. You need to eat better/less and exercise. If you burn more calories than you consume, you’ll lose weight. I know that. Everybody knows that, even the people buy the miracle products on late night TV. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to act upon.

I have a lot working against me. I work from home sitting in a chair. I sure don’t burn a lot of calories that way. Nobody cares what I do for meals. Going and getting fast food for any meals is easy, a nice break from home, and delicious*. Both my Mom and Dad are overweight. I don’t have any hobbies that are big calorie-burners.

So for me, I need to force some exercise into my schedule. That’s not too bad actually. Exercise is also a nice break. I recently bought an Elliptical machine (always my favorite at the Gym) so I can use it often. It’s been a few weeks and I use it tons. I’m thinking of getting some weights as well. Despite being overweight, until this recent move to Tampa I’ve always had and used a Gym membership. Probably on average 3 times per week I’d go run or lift weights or use the Elliptical or whatever. I’m thinking of getting a dog as well, and those walks will be all the more exercise.

Exercise isn’t really my problem. Food is much more my enemy. I love it. But not in a foodie way where the savor the complex flavors. I like great restaurants, to be sure, but I love McDonalds too. I like food like a smoker likes cigarettes (thankfully I don’t do that anymore). I like food like a gambler loves poker or an alcoholic loves whiskey. It’s an addiction. Eating salads for lunch feels like withdrawal in a way. There is a weird physical/mental reaction to it. My brain plays tricks on me telling me why I deserve some crappy food today. My body plays tricks on me telling me I’ll be too tired and distracted to be productive unless I cram some grease in there. Fulfilling those desires has short-term feel-good benefits, and terrible long-term effects.

About four years ago I was also pretty overweight, and I went on a huge health kick and went from nearly 300 to at one point under 220. It was pretty fantastic. One of the things that helped me at the time was a variety of pills from my Doctor. They worked great for me as an appetite suppressant. I’ve since tried to get them again from a few Doctors but nobody would give them to me. But I can’t let some pill be my crutch. I’m nearly 300 again (took years to put it all back on) and I’m launching into another health kick. If I can get to 250 in six months, I’ll consider that a huge success.

Wish me luck.


* That’s right. Fast food disgusts a lot of people. I wish I was like them.

The Best Tool for Changing Slides: Kensington Presenter

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

At a conference I was at (jQuery Conference Bay Area) I heard Steve Smith give an enthusiastic endorsement of the Kensington Presenter to a table full of other people speaking at the event. I picked one up shortly after and I’ve been giving the same enthusiastic endorsement ever since.

The device feels very comfortable in your hand. Heavy enough to feel like you are holding something and curvy enough to saddle up in your palm nicely. The body of it has a cavity which holds a little USB dongle. You plug this into the laptop, which is the communication conduit from the device to the computer (and doubles as a mini hard drive!).

You might scoff at needing the USB dongle. After all, Apple’s native remote doesn’t need a dongle and performs the same function. Theoretically, it performs the same function. In reality, Apple’s remote falls short. You need to have direct line-of-site to the front of the laptop for it to work at all. The Kensington Presenter has no such restrictions. This turns out to be a very big deal in the vast majority of presentation setups. Your laptop sits on some kind of podium facing you, away from the audience, and standing in front of the actual projection screen (where you should be to engage the audience) leaves you perpendicular to the laptop and forcing you into crazy contortions to get an Apple remote to work. You can be all the way across the room with the Kensington Presenter and click away with full responsiveness.

A particularly nice feature I think is that it’s very plug-and-play. I’ve lent mine to many people just minutes before their presentation and all they need to do is plug in the dongle and away they go. At worst, sometimes you need to quit Keynote and open it again to get it to respond. No software installs or changing of settings.

Tampa!

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

I live in Tampa, Florida now. Figured that was good fodder for a personal blog. Only one other time did I ever live in a house (besides when I lived at home with my parents) where it was only one unit. And this is the first time I’ve ever lived alone.

I don’t own the house, I’m just renting it. I really like the house, but wow, I can see what a hassle home ownership can be. Already there has been loads of stuff to deal with.

The house didn’t come with a washer and dryer, so I bought those (Whirlpool Duets). The first load in the dryer, it broke. It didn’t get hot, so the clothes don’t dry. I call the place I bought them. They tell me to call a real repair shop and bill them. Repair guy shows up and it turns out it’s a blown fuse. He can replace the fuse, but the problem is the ventilation. He doesn’t do vents, so I gotta call a vent cleaning service. While he’s there, I have him look at the Fridge. It has water/ice, but it doesn’t work. He pulls out the fridge and the water isn’t hooked up. He’ll have to come back later.

In the meantime, the vent guy comes, cleans the vents ($80), dryer now works fine. Appliance guy comes back, hooks up the fridge, but the whole things use a Reverse Osmosis (RO) system under the sink. When it’s hooked up and sending water, it leaks. There is a drain clamp that isn’t sealed. Appliance guy says he can’t fix that, I’ll need a plumber. I look up a few online. Appliance guy says those are too expensive, use Craigslist. Applicance guy was about $125.

I find a handyman on Craigslist. He says he’ll come out tomorrow. He never shows. I call a real plumber. Real plumber comes and says it’s a weird part specific to RO systems and he can’t fix it. He does fix my running toilet though ($120). I call a water filtration specialist. They don’t do houses. Refers me to another company that does. The specialist says he’ll come out today. He never shows up. He’s my only hope, so I’m going to need to hound him.

Wow, quite the journey!

In the meantime, I’ve tried about four different lawn service companies. One answered my call, said they’d email back with more info. Never emailed. Another company had an online contact form, it didn’t work. Should have used Wufoo. Another company had an online contact form only. I submitted it, they didn’t get back to me. I tried a guy on Craigslist. TAMPA Craigslist. My house was too far away. IN TAMPA. He said he would have his buddy call me who does lawn care closer to me. He never called.

I just bought a fricking lawnmower. Then two hours after I’m home with the mower, a guy shows up and cuts the yard. Apparently the management company does it and they haven’t told the guy to quit yet since the house is rented. So now I both own a mower and have a mowing service. Cripes.

Now my toilet that I just got fixed is running again. I talk to the guy across the street, he says I really should get pest control. It’s affordable and a good idea.

HOLY COW WHEN DOES IT END?!

But I’m all good. In some ways it’s kinda fun juggling all these things getting the house perfect. I quite like it here, so it’ll all be worth it.

Bread Boxes and Bad Search Results

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

I was looking for a bread box to buy. I looked on Amazon but nothing that really stood out as cool. So I Googled for them.

I got this result:
http://breadboxes.org/

Wow, a whole site just for bread boxes!

But wait…

The site is the worst kind of website in the world.

There is content on it, but it’s all bullshit content. Just a few things copy and pasted from elsewhere. Just barely good enough to seem like a real site. And everything is lathered in affiliate links. I think affiliate programs are great, but not when you’re squatting on a good domain name with bullshit content and ruining my search results.

I Hope Twitter Isn’t “The New RSS”

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Bloglines is dead. I never used it, but it’s a household name. I’ve also read that “visits to Google Reader are down 27 percent year-over-year.” Khoi Vin says about RSS: “ultimately I think its evolution augurs even more exciting things.”

I also hear people say in my Twitter stream on a regular basis how they use RSS less and less and that “Twitter is the new RSS.” I’m sure Facebook devotees have thought the same thing, if they ever used an RSS reader to begin with.

I personally don’t find any other technology or service a suitable replacement to RSS feeds and my RSS reader. I love it when people share cool links on Twitter, but that’s not my “source” of news and current information. If a tweet goes down past the bottom of that window, it’s gone forever. I extremely rarely scroll down through time and catch up on old tweets. With RSS however, I read them oldest-to-newest, so I don’t miss anything interesting I might want to read.

I think of Twitter and RSS as completely different. As such, I assume that other people do too. I don’t tweet about every single thing that I publish on my blogs. I don’t want to turn into a link-spewing self-promotional robot, which is what I would become if I tweeted every single article I published and every single other article I read that I found interesting. I don’t have any particular rules about how I use Twitter, I’m just saying don’t count on my Twitter stream as a reliable source of links to my content.

I don’t really want to tell you how to use Twitter either, but, if we are going to replace RSS with something else, can it please please please not be Twitter?

You Can Like Things

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

I believe you can make a choice in how you feel about new things. You can choose to like new things by default, and only change that opinion if you are overwhelmed the other direction by your experience. I also believe this is the opposite of how most people think. I think most people are naturally skeptical or negative toward new things until overwhelmed the other direction. Next time new-ness is upon you, try it out.

I am going to like this new song.
I am going to like this website redesign.
I am going to like this person I’m meeting.
I am going to like this movie.
I am going to like my new apartment.
I am going to like the new shoes I ordered.

You don’t have to be Mr. Happyfeet all day long. I’m just suggesting you might enjoy your life a little bit more if your mind spent more time liking things than hating them.

This thought was inspired by Apple recently releasing iTunes 10 and I’m seeing tons of hate-talk in the first 24 hours. I think if people defaulted to liking the redesign and gave using it a proper chance (24 hours for a piece of software used so much isn’t enough) the talk would be different. I also recently redesign CSS-Tricks, which was met with loads of hate-talk, only to be getting more comments recently on people “coming around” on the design. Those people wouldn’t need to “come around” if they didn’t default to hating it in the first place.