Posts from July 2009

RFC 1123 Date Form

Today I needed a simple RFC 1123 formatted date for a date in the future and I couldn't find a form online to do the formatting for me. So instead of breaking out Perl or something I took a few minutes to whip up a JavaScript version:

I haven't tested this across browsers, but it's working for me in Firefox 3.5. Get yer RFC 1123 here! Good for HTTP headers and whatnot.

Achievement Unlocked: Lost 20 Pounds

Three months ago Nelson posted about an iPhone app that was helping him track what he was eating: Calorie counting and metabolism. The post resonated with me, so I downloaded Lose It! and started using it. The application is simple: you enter your height, current weight, desired weight, and your desired timeframe for loss. The application comes up with a daily calorie budget and provides tools for tracking/estimating calories.

On April 28th I weighed 200 pounds and I set a goal of losing 20 pounds. Lose It! set a calorie budget for me around 2,100 calories/day, and estimated I'd lose the weight by mid-September. That all sounded fine, but I figured I'd get bored with the application in a week and nothing much would come of it. Like Nelson, I thought I'd at least get a sense of how many calories I was eating each day and that alone would be worth the effort of using it.

I ended up using Lose It! religiously for exactly four weeks. I took a week off at that point and then tracked my calories for one more week. I haven't touched it since. My last entry in the application was on June 8th, and by that point I had lost 10 pounds. Here we are another six weeks or so later and I reached my goal of losing 20 pounds. Hooray!

I have never been able to lose weight. I sit in front of a computer all day and I always assumed my weight problem was due to lack of exercise. Every few months I would make a resolution to run regularly and hopefully lose weight in the process. I could stick with an exercise plan for a couple weeks, but I'd eventually twist a knee or get too busy and give up. Counting calories has been perfect for me because there is no exercise involved and I didn't need to set aside large blocks of time to do it. I do ride my bike a few miles a few times each week and that's up a bit now that it's summer, but I don't ride nearly enough to account for the weight loss.

Why did Lose It! and counting calories work for me? I think it boils down to the simple idea that if you can track something you can change it. I found that I ate similar things every day and by tweaking my routines I could stay within the budget. For example, I used to have a bagel with cream cheese every morning and that was around 400 calories or more. By switching to an english muffin with almond butter, I saved about 50 calories and didn't feel like I was missing out. I used to view them as equal options for breakfast, but tracking every single calorie for a while taught me to see differences in food.

Eating, estimating calories, and staying within my budget became a game to me those first four weeks. Staying within budget was an easier way for me to "win" at something than losing weight. So I measured my success based on staying within budget and eventually the weight followed. I measured food portions exactly, and looked up calories on restaurant websites. (I wish more restaurants published nutrition information online.) I got fairly good at estimating calories and portion sizes, and I always double-checked with the application. If I ever wanted to have a 1,000 calorie bomb in the middle of the day, I'd have to find a way to budget for it. Constantly thinking within these constraints ruled out fast food entirely because I didn't ever want to waste a whole day's worth of calories on one meal. Now I do the calorie-counting in my head, but I needed to track seriously for a while to get to this point.

Anyway, that's my story and I thought I'd post it in case it helps someone else like Nelson's post helped me. I feel better and I feel better about myself. I'm going to stick to a 2,000 calorie diet and see where it takes me. The changes I made are new habits now so why break them?

Village Snapshots

Little Owl Root Beer House Numbers Village Corner

Rainy NYC

Rainy NYC
  • A promising publish/subscribe protocol that could help connect disparate applications. [via anil]
  • "...she decides that she will 'whisper in the ears' of Silicon Valley’s Who’s Who -- the entrepreneurs behind tech’s hottest start-ups, including Jay Adelson, the chief executive of Digg; Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter; and Jason Calacanis, the founder of Mahalo." The new world of social media PR.
  • "...there’s a nearly infinite universe of things you might wish to express that simply can’t fit into 140 characters. It's not that the Twitter form forces triviality upon us; it's possible to be creative and expressive within Twitter’s narrow constraints. But the form is by definition limited. Haiku is a wonderful poetic form, but most of us wouldn’t choose to adopt it for all of our verse." [via sippey]
  • Greenwald on Cronkite, Russert, Halberstam, Lapham, Hunter Thompson, and journalists as celebrities.

Portland Panorama

Portland Panorama

The view from my hotel room yesterday. Go Large.

Music Share: Fly Me To The Moon

Since everyone has gone Apollo crazy, I'd like to join the bandwagon by sharing one of my favorite Groove Armada mixes, Fly Me To The Moon:

The track contains audio samples from the moon landing, so spoiler alert if you're planning to tune in live for the rebroadcast today. I like to think of it as an overture rather than a spoiler. You can find this track on Groove Armada's AnotherLateNight.

MetaFilter 10th Anniversary Party

These are some scenes from last night's MetaFilter anniversary party in Portland, Oregon. I had a great time talking with old friends and meeting new (to me) MeFites in person—the perfect way to celebrate 10 years. And a special thanks goes to MetaFilter member The White Hat for letting me use his wonderful song Chiefest Microns.

Sunny PDX

Sunny PDX

Remove Google Reader 'Likes'

Google Reader is adding some new social features, and one of them is Likes. You can mark that you like a particular post that flows through Google Reader and see other users who have done the same. The Like notification appears in a prominent position directly under the headline:

Google Reader Likes

There's no way to opt out of the feature and I found it distracting. To disable it, I used Stylish for Firefox. I chose "Write new style", then "for", and I added the following lines (after some CSS investigation):
.entry-likers-n {display:none;}
.like-inactive {display:none;}
That removes both the Likes count and the button for marking something as liked. It's a lot like the MetaFilter favorites feature but it feels odd because there's little to no community interaction at Google Reader. I guess it might be neat to spot someone you happen to know in a liked-list, but what are the chances? (Showing just my contacts who liked something would be great.) Aggregate data might be fun to see, but I don't need the feature active unless I want to start Liking-posts-up to give them more attention on a list of popular posts somewhere. So until Google Reader liked-lists are more than just a list of random users who liked something, I'm going to mute it.

Shipping MetaFilter Shirts

Last weekend we started selling t-shirts at MetaFilter and had the crazy idea that we'd ship them ourselves. Today we bagged, labeled, and dropped off a bunch of t-shirts at the post office. I took this video for posterity.

Typing Machine

Typing Machine

Stack of Hope

Stack of Hope

Prepped For Labels

Prepped For Labels

Drive Thru

Drive Thru

Gmail Style Tweaks

So the other day Jessamyn posted about her custom Gmail style: barely there email and I rushed in to create my own custom style. (You get there in Gmail via Settings -> Themes -> Choose your own colors.) My custom colors look like this:

gmail custom theme

Works great for me, but the one color you can't change via this form is the color of read messages. So I busted out Stylish for Firefox to finish my Gmail customization. If you'd like to control the color of read messages in Gmail, you can borrow my Stylish style if you'd like: Gmail Stylish Tweaks.

Just replace my color choices with yours and you'll be set. Oh, and I threw in removing the invitations box at no extra charge.
  • "...dozens of new URL-shortening services are allowing spammers to evade anti-spam tools that aim at Web domains known for sending spam. The services also inadvertently help spammers trick Internet users who would normally be wary of domain names like, say," Irksome.

River Fun

River Fun
  • MetaFilter is #1 on a list of companies that don't get Oregon cred. Not only is Matt Portland-ish, but I'm Corvallish, and Josh is smack-dab Portlandy.
  • "...increasingly, we're seeing people with similar levels of access engage in fundamentally different ways. And we're seeing a social media landscape where participation 'choice' leads to a digital reproduction of social divisions."
  • A disposable email service for single-use, throwaway accounts. [via nelson]
  • "Different things work for different people but I thought I'd share what worked for me in the hopes that maybe one or more of these tips will help your own weight loss as well." Good tips and motivation for healthy eating.

ColdFusion Documentation Search

Every time I set up a new instance of Firefox I have to recreate my custom Search Plugin for ColdFusion 8 Documentation. So I'm going to stash it here for posterity: ColdFusion 8 Documentation Search Plugin. (It's just a site-specific Google Search with some extra search operators and a CF icon.)

Hello future self! Ruin another hard drive?