Fitness Gear Review: Rhone’s Silvertech No-Show Socks

Rhone’s no-show no-slip socks are worth every penny.

Rowing machine. Check

Deadlifts. Check

Sprints. Check

Burpees. Check

Pushing a sled. Double check

Simply put: these socks work. THEY. DO. NOT. SLIP.

I knew these were awesome within the first five minutes of working out in them. One of my usual warm-ups is a 3-4 minutes on the rowing machine. Without fail, my old no-show socks always slip off my heel. It’s an annoyance… which becomes a major hindrance when I’m putting in work on the weighted sleigh.

I went through my entire workout before realizing that I never had to stop to readjust my socks. They never slipped. Rhone has placed a small rubber (or maybe its silicone) band right above the heel that stops the socks from slipping.

On top of that, the socks are comfortable. They have some cushion (which helps on runs), but not so much bounce that my lifts are impacted. The socks also have silver woven into the threads – which supposedly help with smells.

In short, $14 may seem like a lot, but it’s totally worth it. I have four pairs, and plan to add more when their next sale comes around (where sometimes you can get 10-20% off, or a free sock with another purchase).

Building an Automated Cat Feeder with Amazon Alexa

In my second IoT project, I tackle feeding my cats by voice commands.

cat-feeder_title-pageMy family owns three cats; for the most part, they are well behaved – unless they are hungry. When it’s time for them to eat, they get a little crazy – constantly meowing and running under/between our legs, or waking us up at night.

We used to keep extra food in their dishes, but they would just overeat – resulting in cat throw-up (which, without fail, I seemed to step in every morning on my way to the kitchen).

We’ve been living in this “claw-ful” situation for a few years, and never really considered resolving the problem. My oldest daughter suggested that we (and by we, she really meant me) build an automated cat feeder. I told her that I didn’t have the time to build one… but then, I figured, why not give it a try.

Full instructions are on the write up at Hackster – https://www.hackster.io/darian-johnson/alexa-powered-automated-cat-feeder-9416d4

Getting the Most out of my Amazon Echo: Using TuneIn Radio

Telling Alexa to “Play The Big DM on TuneIn” has been the highlight of my Alexa experience to date

before1Before I talk about technology, a quick segue: I grew up in the age of radio and cassettes. The hiss of a cassette tape is a callback to simpler times – when most albums were constricted as complete pieces (and not as a string of singles); when the order of an album was important (no easy skipping)… when building a mixtape was more art than science.

I feel the same way about radio. There’s nothing like the excitement of not knowing what great song is coming next, or the magic of slowing flowing from one song to another. Before there was music video1, there was radio – where I discovered Incognito, and Angela Bofill, and Teena Marie…. Continue reading “Getting the Most out of my Amazon Echo: Using TuneIn Radio”

Moving my blog to AWS Lightsail

In a span of a few hours, I successfully migrated my Wordpress blog from an EC2 instance to Amazon Lightsail.

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-8-34-34-am-930x5811Of all the new releases announced at AWS re:Invent, I was most excited about Amazon Lightsail. I love AWS, but sometimes it’s too complicated. If someone wants to run a blog, then they shouldn’t have to learn about VPCs, subnets, etc…. they should, in a few clicks, be up and running.

So, I spent a few hour this weekend migrating this blog from the t2.small EC2 instance I’ve been running (with RDS and Memcache) to a new, smaller Lightsail instance.

The migration was straight forward (instructions here: https://docs.bitnami.com/aws/how-to/migrate-wordpress)- the biggest challenge was re-installing my WordPress plugins (they did not migrate over).

Will this be better than running my own VPC and EC2 instance? I’m not sure. I still have my old instances available if I need to switch back. I’m hoping that it does; I was spending about $20 a month running my t2.small (I know, I know.. I should have been running on an RI to reduce cost). The small instance of Lightsail is on $5/month.

Going from Skinny Fat to Fit: No go to Yoga

Swallowing my pride and starting Yoga was one of the best fitness decisions I’ve ever made.

Five years ago, I would have laughed out loud if someone asked me to attend a yoga class. I could not imagine any sane man willingly subjecting himself to something as BORING and MUNDANE as yoga. Fast forward to today: practicing yoga is one of the highlights of my fitness routine. I love my weekly class; I always leave feeling exhausted, energized, and excited for the next opportunity to practice again.

When I started my fitness journey, I was primarily focused on building strength and stamina. The progress was slow and steady. I gained strength and felt healthier – plus, moving big, heavy things was a great stress reliever. Unfortunately, my flexibility began to suffer; my upper back and neck always felt tight. So, on the recommendation of my trainer, I started going to a yoga class. Continue reading “Going from Skinny Fat to Fit: No go to Yoga”