Archive for January, 2010

CrossFit: Shaping Paul 4.0

January 16, 2010 Leave a comment

We all go through various phases of our lives, childhood, adolescence and so on.  I believe I’m entering my fourth “version” or as I recently started to refer to it, “Paul 4.0.”  Granted my wife and friends might be referring to this as “Mid Life Crisis” but at least I haven’t bought a sports car or motorcycle, yet! 😉 I’m 3 months into the development of Paul 4.0, this “release” of Paul isn’t complete yet but I’m making great progress.  In the last several months I’ve progressed both physically and mentally, I’m still enjoying my CrossFit workouts as much as I did back in October.  Previous releases of Paul are as follows:

1.0: Childhood, we’re all pretty much the same when we’re 1.0.

2.0: Adolescence, I was skinny, really skinny and by the time I was 17 I was also really tall (6’3″ ~155lbs).  When I was 20 I was in great shape, I could swim 2km non stop, and I had put on about 10-15lbs.  I had ~11% body fat.  I still wasn’t very strong, but I was in good health.

3.0: Geek.  I’ve always been a computer person dating back to my days of my C=64.  However I consider “Paul 3.0” my real “Geek” phase.  When I was about 21 I started a BBS and got heavily into my computer, as this is where I saw my career.  It didn’t happen over night but I gained a ton of weight though the 90’s by about 2000 I had reached as much as 265lbs with a 43″ waist, I was BIG and I wasn’t healthy at all.  Drinking in excess of 3-5 cans of POP per day.  Ugh. During a physical in 2003 I was diagnosed with VERY high Cholesterol so high that I had to be put on Crestor, this is what led to Paul 3.5

3.5: Geek IMProved (aka GIM for those Linux Geeks): I consider v3.5 not a full new release of “Paul” but rather a little improvement.  I cut drinking sweetened POP, and got used to sweetner.  Started to watch what I eat, my weight started to fall getting to around 225lbs and a about a 38″ waist.  I barely drink POP any more, diet or otherwise, perhaps 3 can per week of diet Coke a far cry from the 20 or so cans of full sugar fructose laced pop per week I used to drink.  I maintained this pretty good for a couple years; however, watching what I ate was becoming difficult, I like food too much, I’m a foodie.  By  the summer of ’09 I was at 237lbs and 40″ waist.  It was at this time I decided to take up exercise so I could have some foodie fun and generally feel healthier.

Black Tux4.0: Fit Geek: I started to run in late July of 2009 with a training plan designed to work up to a 5k.  Called the “Couch to 5k” I followed this for a few months, highlighted by a 5k run over the Golden Gate Bridge during VMWorld in early September.  I was running ~3-4 times per week.  By October it was starting to get cold outside and I knew that the running wouldn’t extend through the winter, not to mention running wasn’t giving me the results I wanted.  It was at this time that I was introduced to CrossFit.  I won’t go on about that, I’ve posted about that previously.

Now that I’m 3 months into doing CrossFit where am I now?  I’m down to 219lbs and if my Omron Body Composition Monitor is to be believed I’ve put on around 5lbs-6lbs of muscle, my waist is now down to around 37″ and still shrinking.  My resting heart rate is now 62 beats per minute according to my Garmin heart rate monitor, that’s considered “Excellent” according to various sources I’ve Googled.  I’ve got FAR better definition in my chest and shoulders and my build is starting to show that classic “V” shape rather than my previous “b” shape. 😉  I can now see my traps poking up above my shoulders, my arms are more cut, my chest is hard.  My endurance has increased, my strength has increased, granted sore muscles have increased too, but that goes with the territory.  No pain no gain really does apply here, but it’s good pain, it’s discovering muscles you didn’t know you had, it’s looking in the mirror and being proud of what is looking back at you. Hard work pays off.

I credit CrossFit format with keeping me interested in staying in shape this long.  The difference between Square One CrossFit, or any CrossFit gym, and a regular “big box” gym is what has me coming back.  Constant encouragement, not just from Kristine, Chris and Scott, the trainers at Square One CrossFit, but from the other members too.  We all push each other and we all congratulate each other for a job well done, we actively want to see each other succeed.

I’ve completed some grueling workouts lately including the infamous “300 Workout” made famous by the movie.  I’m going to the gym now 4-5 times per week.  I’ll be working on Paul 4.0 for a good long while, but I’m still that geek, I just don’t fit the stereotype as closely as I used to.

Categories: CrossFit Tags: , ,

Not All High-Def Is Created Equal: Bit Rate Matters!

January 10, 2010 Leave a comment

I’m an early adopter, always have been.  I’ve been enjoying high-def TV since 2001.  Back then there wasn’t much high-def to enjoy, Nash Bridges anyone?  But watch it I did.  These days we’re bombarded with High-Def choices from traditional Cable and Satellite offerings and Blu-Ray to online offerings such as You Tube, Hulu (not in Canada, grumble grumble), and many many others.  Recently telephone companies such as Bell Canada have also been entering the high-def TV market with IP TV offerings or VDSL.

All of these services offer high-def that range from 720p to 1080i and 1080p but the one biggest missing piece they don’t provide is bit rate.  What is bit rate you ask?  Bit rate reffers to the number of bits that are conveyed or processed over a given duration of time.  In computer networking terms your bit rate is your upload and download limit, as in 5Mb/second or 100Mb/second.  When you talk about the speed of your DSL line at home you’re talking bitrate.  When it comes to video content bit rate also plays an important role, as it is a sign of picture quality that’s far more important than resolution (720p/1080p/etc).  I’d much rather watch a full bit rate DVD 480p video (9.8MB/sec) than a 1080p video compressed for Internet playback over DSL (1.9Mb/sec).  Why?

Bit rate when it comes to video quality tells you how much information is available in the picture you’re about to watch.  Compression plays a major roll in allowing us to watch video over low speed (DSL) links, even technologies such as Blu-ray use compression because the movie needs to fit on a Blu-Ray disk.  And some compression such as MPEG4 (aka H.264) do a better job (less quality loss and more compression) than others such as MPEG 2.  Blu-ray’s bit rate comes in at 40Mb/second and offers the most stunning picture of any home based High-Def format, but it’s still obviously massively compressed with the uncompressed rate of 1080p 12bit video being 2.5Gb/second.   How do these other “high-def” delivery mechanisms compare to Blu-Ray and uncompressed 12bit video?   Here’s a handy reference list:

Uncompressed 1080p Video:  2.25Gb/sec

Blu-Ray: 40Mb/sec

Over The Air HD: 19.2Mb/sec

Rogers Cable: 10Mb-16Mb (Depends on channel)

Bell ExpressVu: 12Mb/s -15Mb/s

DVD: 9.8Mb/sec

Bell Entertainment (VDSL): Unpublished and no documented anywhere that I can find.

Hulu HD: 2.5Mb/sec

YouTube 1080p: 1.9Mb/sec

* A note about the above bit rates, with the exception of Blu-ray and DVD NONE of these bit rates are published numbers, I had to use my Google Kung-Fu to find these.  If you know any of these to be inaccurate and can point me to official numbers please let me know in the comments.  I was formally told by Bell Canada that they don’t publish bit rates, and that’s what prompted me to make this post.

Now, that you’re starting to understand the difference bit rate plays on the quality of the image you can see that not all Hi Def is created equal.  From where I sit Blu-Ray, being the best we can get at home (Uncompressed High Def isn’t realistic at home) is the benchmark and all other “high def” sources need to compare themselves to Blu-ray, a sort of “Blu-ray scale” where Blu-ray is a 10/10 on the scale and OTA HD would rank a 4.5/10 and You Tube being maybe 2.5/10.

However more important than a scale I’d like to see companies that offer Hi Def content stop talking purely in terms of resolution.  They must start talking in terms of bit rate;  how else is a consumer suppose to make and informed decision and compare the various high def offerings that are available?  Take Rogers for example, they announced to their base a little while back that they were going to start compressing some channels more than others, that directly impacts the quality of the product being delivered to the customer.

So don’t just look at the cost but take into account the picture quality and by extension bit rate, when you’re trying to choose which feeds those great looking high def images to your brand new LCD or Plasma screen.

Categories: Home Theater