Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kobo impressions.

Got it at my friendly local Borders - $150 for the unit, and it came with a $20 gift card for Borders.com. The unit itself comes with 100 public domain books - started "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" last night.
The hardware seems nice enough. Light, comfortable. I don't think its going to be award winning or anything, but I'm reasonably pleased with it. Its a bit slow compared to what I'm used to (LCDs and multi-cored gigahertz processors), but I got used to it.

The control pad on the bottom goes to the previous page (left), next page (right), up a font size (up), down a font size (down) and brings up the menu (center click). Works nicely, although I do want to press down to go to the next page sometimes.

I've discovered that you can make it crash/hang-up if you hold the power button too long. Clicking it puts it to sleep, so (somehow) I've been trained to press and hold to turn off. That hasn't worked so well for me! Having to find a paper clip to stick in the tiny, not obvious, hole for the reset switch is annoying.

The desktop software is simple and easy to use. It seems to be a gussied up web-browser. Works well, however its very basic and the payment options from it are different from Borders.com, even though you're using the same account! At Borders.com I can use Borders bucks (or whatever) I've accrued and gift cards. Attempting to pay from the application only let me do credit card payments. Its a nice start, but I'd like to see it get a bit more feature rich (for example - I've not seen a "backup books" option, but it might be possible that you can redownload stuff too).

Sadly, not all books allow you to use the Borders bucks discount. Oh well. I've bought two books so far (Relationships 101 and How Successful People Think by John Maxwell - they're business/leadership titles), and would have bought a novel or two (Guild Wars: Ghosts of Ascalon and one of the Halo novels) except I couldn't use my discount stuffs (seems that some books aren't allowed to be discounted on the insistence of the publisher).

All in all, decent. Should I have gotten the Sony eReader instead? Not sure. I'm happy either way, though. Did some reading before bed, even! Would I recommend it over a Sony eReader? Depends on the person. Someone like me would be fine with the Kobo. I know at least one road-warrior who is far better served by the Sony eReaders (and she has one) because it opens more formats and does more stuff. Can't compare to a Kindle or Nook as I've never used those before, but those should be much better. The reason I went with Borders is because later on I'll be able to buy eBooks from the store, keeping some of the money local. I like my local Borders and its staff.

I do have to admit, though... since getting this I've gotten a lot more interested in how to make ePub books, and have gone looking for information, programs, etc. I'm learning! The prospect of converting books to ePub books for people has some appeal. Right now I'm attempting to convert an open game to ePub although the first program I'm trying it with is giving me issues (of course, its a free program, so I didn't expect too much). Time to move on to a new one :p

I get that figured out and then its figuring out how to get books submitted to Borders/Kobo (Kobo powers Border's eBook store), Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple's iBook store. Possibly Lulu, as well.

I'm liking it so far - been reading a chapter a night of one book and started Ten Thousand last night :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Second week of Weight Watchers ends tonight - week three begins.

Tonight at 6 p.m. I'll be heading to my Weight Watcher's meeting for my second weigh-in. I started at 220.6lbs, first weigh in was 221.6lbs (+1lb), and tonight? We'll see.

Its been educational thus far, though. The Point tracking via the little food diary has made me a bit more conscious of what I'm eating, that's for sure. Discovering a bit more about how my hunger works has been pretty helpful, and is helping me plan accordingly.

So, today, what am I having for lunch? Jack in the Box.

No, really.

A Sourdough Chicken Club, hold the mayo, plus a small fries and diet Coke. A gruesome 17 points, or half my point allowance for the day. Yes, this is the same guy who was fretting over a Snickers bar having 7 points, which is more than a lunch from Subway.

But I'll tell you what - I've still got a LOT of points left for the rest of the day, especially if I eat sensibly the rest of the day. For a snack today I've got a personal size bag of low-fat popcorn (thank you Orville Redenbacher) plus some Mrs. Dash to go on it. Will very likely have a good amount of veggies with dinner tonight, not too much rice, etc. On top of that? Its been a while since I've had a fast food meal like that, so it actually tasted better than normal. Maybe because its more of a treat this go round instead of something ordinary. Maybe  because I'm not used to the saltiness or the fat. Regardless of why, it was a very good sandwich.

And, well, I've been fighting something the past few days, so its nice to have something a bit more substantial than soup, saimin and liquids, you know?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Figuring out my appetite.

One of the things that I've found interesting about Weight Watchers is my point allowance is what they say I should be eating. Ideally, after I add up all I've eaten and subtract it from my daily allowance I'll end the day with a nice zero. Slow and steady weight loss at maybe 1lb per week is what its shooting for, along with getting me to change my habits and diet. Good and admirable, certainly.

Well, I've run into going over before. There are provisions for that, and honestly, the worst thing that happens is I dust myself off and get back on the program. Slowed progress is still progress. Last night, however, is the first time I've gone under my allowance, and I did so by about 1/7th of my total.

Not a big deal, right? Nope. At least not the way I did.

If I had eaten a lot of filling, zero to low point foods that'd be one thing. But I didn't. Where I missed things was dinner. I had a very small (less than 3 oz) portion of steak, half a tomato, kim chi and salad. I left okay-ish, but was hungry about an hour later.

Ignore it.

Another hour.

Ignore it.

Another hour.

Gaaah... I need something. So make a smoothie with a banana and a Glucerna chocolate shake, plus a serving of peanuts, and that more or less caps me for the night. I feel okay, even though I want more, and I'm under budget (so to speak). Everything should be fine, not a big deal, I'll be asleep and breakfast comes in the morning, right?

Well, come this morning I ate oatmeal with cinnamon (a filling food) for breakfast. The day is off to a reasonable start. Unfortunately, oatmeal has never done a particularly fantastic job of sticking with me. On top of that, I'm hungrier than normal on top of that. Get to work at 8 a.m., and by 9 a.m. I've already eaten my orange. 10 a.m. I've eaten my pistachios. I eat my sandwich for lunch at 11 a.m., and now I'm pretty much done with all the food I bought. I've got one "emergency" granola bar staring at me now and I'm reasonably sure it'll be gone by noon. The snacks at the office are looking pretty good, which is moderately scary since they're not the healthiest foodstuffs out there.

All because I under ate yesterday.

So, yeah, I'm learning. I've known for a while my appetite kicks in after lunch, during the afternoon. But this is pretty important too so I don't sabotage myself - I'm hoping I don't get double-whammy'ed this afternoon! So, keep snacks for the afternoon, and make sure I go to bed with a zero point balance and a satisfied stomach...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Opinions on smart phones?

Right now I'm seriously hunting a for a new smart phone (darn my geek lust). At the moment I'm ignoring the iPhone - I know it'll do everything I want, so I think I'd be better off looking at the competition, you know? More likely to find that "perfect" fit for me.

I've been looking at Android and the upcoming Windows Phone 7's, but feel like I haven't given Blackberry a fair shake just yet. Just doing my research :)

Been looking more at the smaller phones - want something that's a reasonable size (no Droid X for me) with a good camera. I've realized that having 1 billion apps isn't important - my wants and usages are actually fairly limited. Nothing major. If my Centro has taught me anything is that I'm fine without multitasking, although it would be nice. I'm seriously NOT power-using my cell phone - that's what I have computer for!

I pretty much want:
  • a phone (heh)
  • to be able to check my email (two accounts - Yahoo and Live/Hotmail)
  • sync my calendar between Live/Hotmail and the phone
  • "clouding" for all my contacts
  • a good camera (3-5 megapixels) for photos, video optional
  • decent web browser
  • eReader and PDF viewing

Its an interest piece of de-cluttering. In exchange for less physical clutter I'm going to have one consolidated device. I gave up on my old camera because it was so large (wonderful, but large) - 95% of the time I really only need and use a cell phone camera. Small, spontaneous photos with friends and family, hobbies and food. I'd like to be able to check my email, calendar, and light browsing because some things aren't worth firing my desktop computer for. I'm tired of having tons of dead tree books, physically, so having a library of eBooks and PDFs appeals to me (especially if they're search-able). Borders' eBook store appeals to me as they aren't tying me to a specific device - very agnostic, very nice, and I love my local Borders (yay Kris and crew!).

If I get a Windows Phone 7, I might look at re-upping my Zune subscription. $15/month for all you can eat music, plus you keep $10 worth of music in MP3 format? Hmm... I've used the Zune software for a few years now, and own a 4g Zune - I'm very happy with the platform (former iTunes/iPod user here). Plus I tend to buy my music from Amazon, which sells MP3s anyhow, so I'm not tied to anything with my actual purchases (product loyalty? What's that?).

Thoughts?

Friday, August 6, 2010

[Diet] Feeling a little proud of myself.

There are a fair number of truisms and clich├ęs about getting back up after being knocked down and learning from one’s mistakes. I won’t bore you with them, but that is what has happened.

After doing things my way - at my own pace, and generally not having much success at it – I started up with Weight Watchers. Last week was my first weigh in, and I took home a bit of information for it. Now, anyone who has tried to break, change or start habits can tell you its hard, never mind doing two or even three of them at once. As such, I came back this week and actually gained a pound.

Yay me!

Thanks to the little food journal I got, I could see where I was having trouble plus figure out why. Seems a bit obvious, I suppose, but I wasn’t doing it before!  After thinking about it, I remembered (or more to the point, made it a point to remember) that afternoons are trouble for me when it comes to food. That’s when I want to eat, to snack, to put my face in a trough of something tasty just to keep my mouth occupied.

So, after my embarrassing setback, I prepared both a breakfast (oatmeal) and packed some snacks for today last night. Knowing that I am not a morning person and simply accepting that I am not in the mood to cook, prepare or anything of that sort in the mornings is helpful. I want to get out of bed and out the door as quickly as possible, but have no desire to get up early to cook.

The oatmeal was simply a cup Coach’s Oats in a bowl with 1/3 c. reduced-fat milk and 2/3 c. water, sprinkled with cinnamon and left overnight in the fridge. This kept the “point” cost down, and throwing it in the microwave is a pretty brain-dead easy thing to do. It stuck with me reasonably well – not great, but not bad. I could, and probably will, doctor it up a bit next time with fruit or something – both for flavor and bulk.

The snacks were likewise simple. A 1/2 c. of pistachios (the salt-and-pepper ones from Costco) and a peeled orange. The pistachios are nice, convenient, and the shells slow me down when eating them. I think I need that lest I inhale them and miss the “I’m getting satisfied” signal from my stomach. The orange, on the other hand, is too messy and too much hassle to peel at work. I actually had that very same orange at work for two days before admitting I would not eat it like that and bringing it back home. Sad, I know.

Today I did a lot better, I think. I had a little snack (about half the pistachios) before lunch, helping keep my stomach calm. A quick trip to Subway got me a turkey breast sub on wheat, veggies, pepper jack cheese and mustard instead of mayo. Top it of with diet Coke (I’m slightly addicted) and a low-fat yogurt? Not bad! The rest of my snacks were eaten bit by bit from lunch on.

Getting home I was pretty hungry, so I know I really ought to have another snack packed along with me next go around. But, behaving myself, I made a quick salad. Took an 8” tortilla, put it on top of a bowl, sprayed it with PAM and stuck it in the oven on broil. About a cup of lettuce and three small peppers got cut up, then put into the tortilla “bowl” once I pulled it out of the oven. Topped it off with some salsa and it was a nice little meal.

Am I still hungry? After about an hour and a half, yes. But at the same time, I’ve got close to 1/3 of my “points” left, and I’m not so ravenous I’ll go out and devour anything and everything. I’m not sure how I’ll finish off the evening, but its nice to know I’ve got some room to work with, you know?

Next challenge: dealing with the weekend and having so many friends who cook a ton of great food. Courage… courage!