Golden Gate Park loops

Running on Great Highway and in Golden Gate Park at night can get pretty dark, so picked up a headlamp from Sports Basement for this double ggpark loop.

I’ll probably avoid the park at night in the future though, it closes at 10pm anyway.

The Four Freedoms

The Four Freedoms

I believe that software, and in fact entire companies, should be run in a way that assumes that the sum of the talent of people outside your walls is greater than the sum of the few you have inside. None of us are as smart as all of us. Given the right environment — one that leverages the marginal cost of distributing software and ideas — independent actors can work toward something that benefits them, while also increasing the capability of the entire community.

What will your verse be?

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering — these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love — these are what we stay alive for.

To quote from Whitman,

“O me, O life of the questions of these recurring. Of the endless trains of the faithless. Of cities filled with the foolish. What good amid these, O me, O life? Answer: that you are here. That life exists and identity. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

“That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

What will your verse be?

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Things I Use 2013 Edition

pic for blog post

As 2013 comes to an end, I’ll write one of these posts to list the things I use.

Development

Mac

  • Dash: my favorite app right now, if you code on your Mac, in any language, just get it! It’s also free with optional donation
  • Xcode: new version is so great
  • MacVIM: I’ve been a VI user for almost 20 years, after a few years of TextMate in my early Rails days, I’m back using VIM. I’m still far more productive in VI than anything else. When I’m not hacking in Xcode I’m in VIM.
  • HipChat: my livelihood pretty much depends on HipChat, having worked remotely across the globe in Taipei this year. Really loving the native OS X client, I don’t have Flash or Air installed on my Mac after my fresh OS install post SSD
  • Coda 2: only use it for collaborative editing (such as at WWDC)
  • Ansible: simple YAML-based deployment, if you don’t need Chef, try this

iOS

  • HipChat: their revamped iOS client is decent
  • Prompt: really great to be able to SSH from anywhere. Would be better if it supported Mosh, one can only hope
  • Diet Coda: Only for emergency copy changes

Photography

Mac

  • Lightroom 5: if you’re semi-serious about your photos, just use this. I’ve recently tried the latest Aperture again, Lr is still far better 1

iOS

  • VSCO Cam: I’ve bought pretty much all the presets, it’s great
  • Camera+: this continues to be the best camera app on my phone
  • FlickStackr: if you use Flickr and have an iOS device, just get this!

Others

Mac

  • Afred 2: can’t live without this, also check my workflows. Multiple clipboard support is godsend
  • 1Password: also cannot live without this
  • Things: after so many years I still use Things a lot. I’m not a strict GTD nerd, but I do like to jot down tasks and free up my mind for more important things (such as nothing)
  • ShiftIt: opensource windows organizer for Mac, works far better than the paid alternatives currently on the Mac App Store
  • Chatology: if you use the Messages app on your Mac, you need this to make sense of your chat logs
  • Marked 2: great Markdown previewer
  • Tweetbot
  • Mailplane: I tried Sparrow and beta-tested and bought Airmail, still addicted to the gmail web interface and Rapportive integration
  • Bartender: if you use an Air with limited menubar real estate, you really should get this!

iOS

  • iSmoothRun
  • 1Password
  • Downcast: I listen to podcasts when I run, I probably used this more than any other apps in terms of number of hours spent
  • Tweetbot 3: iOS7 update for iPhone version is great, waiting for iPad app update
  • Felix: my ADN client
  • Tumblr: incredible mobile reading experience
  • Mr. Reader: my new RSS reader. I dumped Feedly as they were being shady. Mr. Reader works great with Feed Wrangler
  • Pinner: my iOS Pinboard client
  • Things (iPhone, iPad)
  • Fantastical 2: indispensable app, looking forward to its iPad version
  • Editorial: this post was written entirely in this. Check Viticci’s epic review 2
  • Screens: I used Remoter VNC for years, switched to Screens last week. I prefer paying for all features up front vs buying IAPs a la carte
  • Hangout: to receive and place Google Voice calls, my GTalk can now idle indefinitely with push. It has replaced BeejiveIM on my phone. If you use the shitty Talkatone app, please switch to this!
  • Drafts: if you still use the Notes app on your phone or iPad, try Drafts

Services

  • GitHub: Really great for distributed team, definitely made my life a lot easier having worked from Taipei this year
  • BitBucket: I really like their pricing structure. Charging based on number of users is far better IMO. I was using Dropbox to archive my old git repos and also to host repos when working with just one other developer. After getting tired of fixing repo conflicts when we both pushed while Dropbox was catching up, I looked for viable alternatives and I’m glad BitBucket now works with git in addition to hg
  • Pinboard
  • Spotify: We each have our own subscription. The iOS apps could use some design and development love, but it works great in general, the ability to sync offline playlists is great when cellular service is spotty to nonexistent in central Taipei. At our wedding reception we played hours of music from a synced offline playlist on Sherry’s iPad Mini, turned on Airplane mode to prevent getting notifications, worked amazingly well
  • Feed Wrangler: my RSS service, smart feeds are pretty damn useful, and support a great indie developer
  • Crashplan: just do it, you should have a cloud backup service
  • Copy: great Dropbox alternative, I now have over 100GB of free space (thanks everyone!)
  • Private Internet Access: my new VPN provider, they allow up to 5 simultaneous devices, which is useful when we have 3 Macs and 4 iOS devices together
  • App.net
  • Flickr: still a loyal user after almost a decade

Hardware

Finally

  • Samsung 500GB SSD: best $300 I spent in 2013, my MBP is so fast now, night and day from spinning disk. Samsung released updates on their SSD line, check the great Wirecutter
  • Early 2011 15″ MBP: my trusty 2-year-old MBP is kicking strong after installing an SSD. Been holding out for a 11″ rMBA
  • Thunderbolt Display: just great, I have my FW800 drive, GigE, USB headphone amp, Elevation Dock all plugged into the back of it, only Thunderbolt and power goes to my Mac. Xcode is so much better on a 27″ display
  • iPhone 5s, 64GB, Verizon: can’t wait to move back to get LTE, hopefully VZW service degradation reports have been exaggerated. 64GB not really needed after reclaiming my Messages attachments. My phone has also been my main camera. Hugely improved battery life and the M7 made the upgrade from the 5 worth it
  • iPad rMini, 32GB, Verizon: just incredible, glad I waited. Far more useful than our original Mini
  • Mac mini: my media computer
  • UE Boom: this is amazing, I use it in the shower and next to the tub when I do ice-baths (and I did a lot of that in 2013). We bring it when we travel
  • Synology DS213 (D214 is out now) with 2x 3TB WD Red: decent entry-level NAS, but not enough RAM to run CrashPlan headless, and not fast enough to move my NZB workflow (SAB, SickBeard, CouchPotato) on it. The DS213 is still great with its array of iOS apps, being able to add torrents from my phone or iPad and get emailed when they’re done is great
  • UE900: my Sensaphonics broke again, picked these up for cheap from Ruten as a stop-gap, decent universal cans
  • Audio-Technica A900: the most underrated cans IMO, better sounds than most more popular and expensive cans
  • Plantronics Backbeat Go: walk-around-the-house cans, small and wireless, version 2 looks even better
  • 5D Mark II: still going strong. Still amazed by its outputs every time I use it. My 3 primes have served me well and I’m very happy with my setup: 50/1.2L, 85/1.2L II, 100L. I sort of want the OM-D E-M1 with the 17/1.8, but it’s hard to justify the cost
  • Polar H7 HRM: great tool to judge your effort when exercising, connects to your phone via Bluetooth LE

  1. Seriously Apple, no graduated filter? 

  2. You might not want to open this on your iOS devices, it’s so long that it crashes mobile Safari. Opening this review in Editorial’s browser also crashed the app 

More 2013 Marathons

After my first marathon in March, I signed up for 3 more marathons in 2013. Taroko Gorge Marathon and Sun Moon Lake Marathon in November, and Taipei Fubon in December.1

2013 Taroko Gorge Marathon

From AllSports.tw

There was an pretty decent quake two days before the Taroko Marathon, so the full marathon got changed to half. I ran it in the rain and had a blast. I didn’t really have a HM time in mind as I’d been training for the full, so I sort of winged it, but managed to PR with 1:38:47, averaging 7:39 minute-mile. I placed 161st overall and 58th in my age group.

2013 Sun Moon Lake Marathon

3:35:55.52, #19 overall

Two weeks later I went to Sun Moon Lake for the first annual Sun Moon Lake Marathon organized by TWEMBA . The route around the lake is around 29k, so they had a 29k super half marathon, and a 42k. The full consisted of running around the lake and the remaining 13k out on a highway, and turning back to complete the loop. I didn’t know much about the course and the elevations before the race. I think the race booklet had a course map, but I don’t remember seeing an elevation chart. I got placed into the first wave2, and I saw the 3:40 pacers at the starting line. My goal was sub-3:40, so I ran with the pacers. They went out way faster than I would’ve, my first split was in the low 7-minute pace. That obviously wasn’t really 3:40 pace, but I figured the pacers knew the course and there must be some hills coming. They were right. The course was 80% slight downhill, and since it’s a loop, the remaining 20% had to make up for the elevation loss. The last 10k was pretty insane, I don’t think I had ever run up a steep hill for that long. I managed to run all of it even though I contemplated walking a bit. I ditched the pacers at around the 15-mile mark and ran my own race. Finished with a PR of 3:35:55.52 3, I was 19th overall (but out of only 728 runners). Not bad for my second marathon.

race chart Check out the elevation changes

After Sun Moon Lake Marahon

2013 Taipei Fubon Marathon

2013 Taipei Fubon Marathon

Taipei Fubon Marathon happened under heavy rain. I got up at 4am, went through my usual marathon morning routine, and showed up at the super crowded starting line about 45 minutes before start time. I read that almost 50,000 runners participated for the various races that day! The race was pretty uneventful. I had to run fast in the beginning to catch up with the 3:30 pacers. Turned out one of them was one of the 3:40 pacers I ran with at Sun Moon Lake. Their balloons got tangled up so they stopped to fix them at around mile 5, I didn’t feel like stopping to wait so from then on I ran my own race. My goal was sub-3:30, I ran at 7:30-7:45 pace and felt strong, so I just kept going. Ended up with another PR of 3:22:47, 220th overall and 67th in my age group. Not quite BQ, but now it seems closer to reach. 4

2013 Fubon Taipei Marathon chart

Recovery

Gu Recovery Brew

I fueled with GU gels (with caffeine) during the races and I drank GU Recovery Brew within 15 minutes of finish. They served me well. Sun Moon Lake was mostly pounding downhill, so the bottom of my feet hurt quite a bit the couple of hours after the race. My feet felt fine after Taipei Fubon Marathon, but my legs hurt like hell that night that I couldn’t get much sleep. I took some Ibuprofen the next day and it helped with the swelling. The day after either marathon, I couldn’t walk fast and especially struggled walking down stairs. I felt better the following day, and by day 3-4 I felt good enough for an easy run. I also foam-rolled, soaked legs in ice bath, and got sports massages 3-4 days after the races.

Onward

I signed up for the 2014 San Francisco Marathon, and hope to BQ the month before at Grandma’s. I’ll figure out a training plan to get more speed. My goal is sub-3, just to be safe. I’ll probably fit a couple of halves and shorter distances in just for fun, maybe the Napa to Sonoma Wine Country HM and US Half. Too bad Big Sur is sold out already, maybe CIM. I entered the TCSNYCM drawing, but doubt I’ll get in.


  1. Somehow I thought that was a good idea. I figured training for one was pretty much the same as training for three within 2 months, which turned out to be mostly true. 

  2. It was the first race in Taiwan I’ve run that had waves/corrals, not sure why not all races have them, they really help with traffic. This is especially true when a lot of participants are there because running is sorta trendy here and they’re there for selfies to “PO” on Facebook. 

  3. It was easy to “PR” when it was my second marathon. 

  4. Plan to attempt at Grandma’s in 2014. 

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Taipei reception photos from Ming Thein

My friend Ming Thein attended and photographed our reception, amazing shots as usual (Flash required, direct link to the photoset on Flickr):

Ming will be doing workshops in KL, Sydney, and London in 2014. If you’re serious about improving your craft, I highly recommend attending them. He also does email school and videos, check them out. Great stuff!

We also put together a slideshow of these images with Animoto: