Some diet tips

Diets are always hard if you don’t know how to do them 😉
Everything here is for “normal” weight loss, down to 15% or so, where the abs are beginning to show.

Here are some tips that have helped me:

  • Calories in / calories out are the single biggest weight loss driver
    This means, that calories consumed mused be reduced, and daily activity should remain, or slightly increase
  • Protein is more filling than carbs and fat
    and it helps keep the muscles, when you keep training
  • Volume and regularity of meals helps with hunger
    instead of just removing things to eat, or removing whole meals altogether, try to keep the volume similar by replacing foods.
  • Water fills also
  • Hunger before meals is ok, and normal.
    But you should not be always be hungy. Fruits and vegetables are great snacks.
  • Sleep more.
  • Still try to enjoy foods. Skipping breakfast at the weekend to enjoy some icecream instead? Yes please.
    Small treats and gifts for yourself are important to keep going, and make the journey not to bland.
  • Eating out: minimize
  • Eating out with friends / parties: It is ok to occasionally indulge a little bit, when the situation arises
    Just be mindful about the foods and portions
    You don’t need to eat a whole cake

That’s most of it, I believe. Nothing special, and posted everywhere else.
There is no magic trick to do it.

6 weeks down I now am at 3kg less weight 😀

New diet plan, but manual

One of the last goals of this year was to get a bit leaner. I am well-versed in counting calories, having successfully used it to loose weight at the beginnings of my fitness journey.

The first steps at the time were of course some online tools, but I found them horrible unusable. Therefore I wrote my own Python based command line tool. It was equally horrible to use, but streamlined to my needs.

This worked, I lost weight, and after some time being comfortable with myself, the weight slowly increased.

Now, the tools are not really less horrible to use (tried fddb and myfitnesspal) and my old Python script is broken.

A few months back i tried to wrote something new and better with Electron and typescript, but things always got broken, and learning UI while always fighting the tools really left me dispirited. Nothing against the tools, they obviously work, but it didn’t really fit how I liked to use them.

The latest iteration is completely manual. On paper (together with a spreadsheet).

It is not as bad as I first had guessed.

Only calories and protein is tracked. Protein is rounded to the nearest 5, and calories are rounded always up to the nearest 50. It’s less to write, easier to calculate, and should cover the most important numbers. The weight itself is tracked via the median, maximum and minimum weights per week. I try to weigh myself always after breakfast, which usually includes something to eat and a cup of tea.

I have been doing this for 3 weeks now, and it gets the job done for now 🙂

Supplement that I take

Just a short overview over every supplement I usually take.

My personal guidelines for which/if to take a supplement are

  • ROI: cost vs potential benefits
  • potential benefits: how well studied / safe is it
  • potential benefits: are they applicable to me / my goals

In general you don’t really need to take anything, unless there are actual deficiencies. But there is also a difference between having just enough of something, or having optimal amounts; this is the gap I try to bridge.

I usually take

  • protein powder as needed (meal plan)
  • creatine, fish oil and vitamin D with my breakfast
  • everything else gets mixed in my greek yoghurt mix, which I eat every evening.

Protein Pulver

https://examine.com/members/deep-dives/article/on-the-whey-to-getting-lean-one-more-round-of-whey-vs-soy/

Creatine Monohydrate

https://examine.com/supplements/creatine/

  • improvement in strength and power output during resistance exercise

Spirulina

https://examine.com/supplements/spirulina/

  • against allergies

Fisch oil

https://examine.com/supplements/fish-oil/

  • general wellness
  • against muscle soreness

MSM

https://examine.com/supplements/methylsulfonylmethane/

  • against allergies
  • against muscle soreness
  • potential for joint health

Vitamin D

https://examine.com/supplements/vitamin-d/

  • general wellness

especial in COVID and home office times

Collagen Protein

https://examine.com/supplements/type-ii-collagen/

  • potential joint health
  • skin health

Adventures in HomeCinema: Audio /3 Bass woes

As stated in the last post about my cinema, for me there are two concrete possible solutions for my bass problems, a
  • (Parametric) Equaliser (PEQ), and an
  • additional subwoofer.

After having implemented one, I will also doing the other. Not because it is bad or not working, but there are now other… “problems”.

Because of the immediate cost, und potential future additions, the chosen solution for now is the PEQ.

Parametric Equaliser: minidsp 2×4 HD

The minidsp 2×4 HD box was very easy to install: just plug the audio wires and power in, and then connect per USB with it.

I choose this PEQ because of the apparent easy and fast setup in conjunction with REW and a measurement mic. And it really was easy to quickly get good results in a timely manner.

Setup with REW

REW has a module to generate PEQ configurations, among others for the minidsp 2×4 HD.

The procedure is pretty simple:

  • measure the subwoofer at your preferred listening position
  • start the REW PEQ module with this measurement
  • configure your target curve, how you would like to have the subwoofer responded
  • let the REW PEQ module calculate the parameters for the 2×4 HD.
  • load the parameters into the 2×4 HD.
  • profit

A subsequent control measurement with the PEQ versus the target curve shows a very good approximation.

Further improvements

Bass at the main listening position is now pretty good. The control measurement shows only a small dip now, but it is not as significant.

A remaining problem now is way too much bass in music at my second listening position at my desk.

Because if these I will definitely add a second subwoofer to eliminate the remaining dip, and hopefully also get to lower the bass while listening music. Another improvement could be to use the bass from the tower speakers, even though most sources don’t recommend this.

Lettering the plates

I always like the look of colored plates, regardless if the are actually completely colored like competition plates, or just classic black with white lettering.

Therefore I grabbed some paint and did just that.

Thing learned: space efficiency is not great, if your goal is to reach everything…

After two hours later, and two rounds of color for each plate, they look great. Much better than it seemed while painting.

My Personal Budgeting

A (personal) budget is just like a plan, or a calendar: it shows things that are, things that have to be, and things that could be.

Being free to spend money on the things that matter to you as much as you can is the goal of a good budget.

There are apparently many different named “categories” or “types” of budgets. I am not going to even try to distinguish if there are different types in my approach.

For one, it seems that there are multiple, overlapping names of different things by different parties; meaning there is not really a standard naming scheme. And secondly, how you personally achieve your money goals depends on how you personally have to handle money — it doesn’t matter if it works for me, if it couldn’t work for you, but maybe you understand the idea, and adapt it to your needs.

A budget is the sum of finances allocated for a particular purpose and the summary of intended expenditures along with proposals for how to meet them. It may include a budget surplus, providing money for use at a future time, or a deficit in which expenses exceed income. [1]
I am assuming that income and expenses are already in some form allocated and are tracked. I personally use GnuCash[2], but there are many other programms, or you can use spreadsheets, or even track it with pen and paper.

General ideas

  • Income budgets are slightly smaller than the real income.
  • Expense budgets are slightly higher than the real expense.
  • Cashflow at the end of the month has to be positive.
  • Always have at least one month income buffer
  • We are interested in the overall picture. Every week could be different, but over the year it should make sense.

Purposes

I have some categories for were my money is allocated, in order to easier see were something can be adjusted.
  • Income: Everything you earn at your job, gifts, dividends, …
  • “Hard” expenditures: Rent, utilities, … everything you have to pay, that is basically out of your control.
  • “Soft” expenditures: Food, gifts, … things you need, but are more under your control.
  • Long Term Savings: personal retirement provisions
  • Short term savings: bigger financial spending (vacation, bigger subwoofer, …)
  • Buffer savings
  • Fun Stuff: Books, Games, Music, Movies, …
After writing it down this way, this is basically my budget.

Income and Expenditures are at least predictable and can be budgeted. Just check what always has been, and think about what is going to happen. Gifts can also be budgeted: you know when people have birthdays, and what gifts are expected.

Long and short term savings can be automated. For short term savings just use a suitable second account (for example “Tagesgeldkonto” in Germany). If you do not want to automatically invest in your long term savings (you should), then you could also just transfer this temporarily to a different account.

Buffer savings don’t need to be much. They are just there, to get to a positive cashflow every month. If there is enough buffer savings, this budget can be removed for the time being, and spend on other things.

Which leaves the remaining budget for fun stuff. This fluctuates a bit, because peoples birthdays are not regular, or some other expenditures are not every month. There are two ways to deal with this: use what you have for the month. If it is less, then it is less. Or calculate the average for every month.

Buffers

Don’t be too hard on yourself, if not every budget is working every time. Life happens. If you spend too much one month, then spend less the next month. Or adjust the respective budgets.

There is a reason you should have a buffer on your main spending account, and under-budget income respectively over-budget expenditures, and have dedicated buffer savings.

At the end of the year, we want to have maximized our goals in term of savings and fun money, while also don’t have to be stressed about paying the bills.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budget
[2] Gnucash

Adventures in HomeCinema: Audio /2 Bass woes

Bass woes

Last post finished with flaky bass in movies… sometimes great, sometimes not.

Without some objective measurements it is quite hard to understand the underlying problem, and without understanding the problem it is even harder to find some solution, let alone a good solution.

I bought an USB measurement microphone (UMIK-1) and used REW (room eq wizard) to measure the bass behavior.

Measurements

The first (green) measure is without Audyssey, the second with.

You can see, that Audyssey helped a bit by lowering the peak at 33Hz and filled a bit the valley afterwards. Nonetheless there is a rather big drop of about 15db at 35Hz. It is often said that 10db difference represents a perceived 2-times loudness increase — 20db 4-times.

This certainly can explain the sometimes missing bass response.

I made more measurements and played a bit with difference subwoofer positions and AVR settings, but the problem at around 35Hz always stays the same.

Simulations

There are tools to simulate / calculate these problem frequencies for rectangular rooms.

Amroc clearly shows problems between 33 and 36Hz (and even calculates the Schrödinger Frequency).

REW has a room simulator, where you can place your subwoofer(s) and your main listening position.

Both simulators show inherently the same characteristics that were actually measured. Playing around with REW room simulator shows a few positions for subwoofer / listener, that are unfortunately not possible.

Are there things to fix this situation?

Possible Solutions

position changes

Changing the position of the listener position respectively the subwoofer inherently also changes the loudness of the low frequencies. If possible this is the simplest fix. Not possible for me right now.

Sound Dampening

When building a home cinema from scratch in its own room, there should always be the concern of which (not if) sound dampening measures to install.

Living room cinemas are more constrained, and mostly limited to installing absorbers at the first reflection points.

I have not much clue about sound dampening, because I stopped researching after preliminary results. The needed space and costs are just nut feasible. Lower frequencies are longer, and need thicker and more heavier dampening, which I cannot install here.

AVR

There is the possibility to manipulate the frequency curve in the Audyssey App, or so I thought. Turns out you can only change the target curve the AVR should try to reach. And there are definitely limits how much equalising the AVR does, because it cannot be used to really do great changes unfortunately…

Parametric EQ

There are equalizer boxes (for example the miniDsp 2×4 HD) you can switch between the AVR and subwoofer, which offer the possibility to equalize like we need.

Additional Subwoofer

Additional subwoofer also should help, by basically filling up the valleys and reducing the peaks. Positioning them in opposite corners should do the trick.

The simulation says so! I have to read up, why specifically this should work.

Next steps

The most promising (and possible) things to try are the EQ box, and more subwoofer. I lean on the side of more subwoofer.

I have ordered a suitable cable to try out my kitchen subwoofer. It is better to use the same subwoofer, but this should be ok for a quick proof of concept.

Adventures in HomeCinema: Audio

The home cinema experience depends of course on the picture quality, but also the sound quality, if not more.
    Sound quality is directly reflected by your equipment and your subjective listening experience. Meaning more expensive is not always better for you, even though the equipment might be objectively measurable better.
    My 5.1.2 equipment:
  • Mains: Klipsch RP RP 280F
  • Center: Canton Center
  • Subwoofer: Klipsch R-112SW
  • Surrounds: Klipsch RP 402S
  • Atmos Ceiling: KEF T301
  • AVR: Denon X1600
My basic steps and AVR settings:
  • subwoofer crawl for finding a suitable place
  • Audyssey measurements
  • Set boxes to small and set the the LFE crossover to 120Hz
in the AVR android app (MultiEQ) are some more settings to change:
  • disable “Midrange Compensation”
  • set “MultiEQ Filter Frequency Range” to your rooms Schrödinger Frequency. This effectively restricts the AVR EQ to the lower frequencies.
The Schrödinger Frequency is the limit where your room doesn’t act like a resonator anymore. [1, 2] Bass frequencies up to 100-300Hz get amplified or negated, while everything higher disperses after some reflections.
    Seems easy enough, and sounds pretty good under most circumstances. Unfortunately some movies (for example Deep Water Horizon) that should be very bass-heavy sound / feel pretty tame. Will have to check how to fix this in the next post…
Sources:
[1] https://www.soundandvision.com/content/schroeder-frequency-show-and-tell-part-1
[2] https://www.soundandvision.com/content/schroeder-frequency-show-and-tell-part-2

Github issues as my todo list

Introduction / motivation

Some friends and me have a regular weekly meeting. Besides friendly chatter, the reason for this particular meeting is to discuss what everyone has done respectively failed to do. We listen, give feedback where necessary, and the task to actually talk about your tasks is a great productivity boost. At the end of each session the planned tasks for next week will be presented. Additionally everybody has to sent an eMail presenting a small summary of tasks (not) done / tasks todo.

Until now I didn’t really track these tasks, besides some notes in the eMails themselves and some paper scraps. But this changes this year with Github issues.

Github issues

There are quite a lot todo list apps out there. Personally I did try Wunderlist and Todoist in the past. Why would I choose Github (GH for short) Issues over these more “traditional” tools?

Besides a personal preference about the way GH is used, there are two big reasons:

  • templates
  • API

Templates

Github lets you save templates from which you can choose for different issues. Not only can you set the issue text, but also the labels, assignments, and milestones / projects they belong to. For example a template for normal todos with sections for SMART goals, and a template for buying things with a budget section.

API

Automation is sometimes pretty handy and even useful. GH offers a very comprehensive GraphQL Api, which can be used to handle issues.

Further down I describe two cases where the API is used to great satisfaction.

more reasons

The following reasons contribute also:

  • As a software developer I am already comfortable with GH and its UI / possibilities.
  • Githubs UI is in my opinion better for usage on the desktop. (Regarding smartphone useability I have no idea — I generally use my smartphone only for podcasts and chatting.)
  • Progress can be easily tracked with comments and appended files (like pictures).

Automation

There are some Saas platforms like zapier or IFTTT that have integrated GitHubs API. And there are tools you can use respectively self-host that have integrated or at least can be used with the API. Tools like huginn, n8n or Node-RED.

The following two tasks have been automated (for now with Zapier ¯\_(ツ)_/¯):

Book summary issue

After finishing a book, a reminder to summarize the book is created. Not all books need a summary, or have some lasting value, but some do. The reminder is an issue with the book title, read from a Goodreads RSS feed containing my read books.

Weekly check-in

One of the things that can’t be represented in issues are daily or otherwise very often repeated tasks. These I track offline. But a weekly check-in issue to track the overall accomplishment of dailies is a good compromise in my eyes. Just let the automation service create a checklist issue with the current week as title.

Open tasks / questions

Like already mentioned, there are things that cannot really be represented in the GH issue flow. For example things like dailies or otherwise often repeated tasks and deadlines / schedules.

For now I just use the weekly check-in as reminder respectively a calendar.

Thanks for reading!