New year, new attempt at losing weight

So after the new year I’m (again) trying to lose a few (40) pounds. I’ve made a realization this time when I started counting calories. I’m using the Myfitnesspal app (yes I’ve changed my password), and after I started counting for a couple days, I noticed something. The reason that Weight Watchers, Lean Cuisine, and all the others try to stay under 300 calories per meal is that…they know. They know you’re going to snack.

Look at any of your “normal” meals, and realize that you probably eat 500-600 calories (easy) per meal. That’s probably outside of whatever you drink with it. Now add in a candy bar or a bag of chips during the day, a drink or two after work, a late night snack and bam…you’re nearing 3000 calories. No wonder almost all of us gain weight!

Today I had an average breakfast (no coffee w/ sweetener…just plain iced tea), a light lunch with ice water, a snack (candy bar), a Lean Cuisine dinner meal, with 1/2 a serving of veggie-based crackers & 2 beers when I was out with a friend.

2390 calories!

My goal is 2070, and with linking the Myfitnesspal app to my FitBit, it gave me an additional 371 calories based on steps that I could add and still be “under my limit”. So if you count the steps I took, I’m *51* calories under my limit. So basically I’d be maintaining weight at this point. So I get it. They figure if you only buy their products, you eat about 900 calories a day in meals, 2-3 snacks a day (2-300 extra calories) and add in a beer at the end of the day & you’d be at about the 1800-2000 calorie limit.

I’m going to either have to invest in a chef, or really start counting what calories I eat for meals & snacks. I refuse to get any larger so it’s either buckle down & count…or starve. I think counting is probably the best way forward. Maybe I’ll try the Mediterranean Diet. Pass the steamed broccoli & olive oil please.

New house, new security system

I recently moved to a new house (August) and decided that I was going to have a security system to replace the antiquated ADT system the previous owners had installed. I started looking around & decided that there were 3 that provided what I was looking for in a system. Nest, Ring, and Simplisafe. There were a couple others I looked at but I was looking for things like a glass-break sensor, doorbell camera, or a panic button that they didn’t offer.

That lead me to look into the 3 options I mentioned previously. I’ll start with the drawbacks for all three, then the benefits for all three & why I settled on what I did and the issues I ended up having with it.

The Nest is well known and I already had the thermostat & the smoke detector so adding the other parts would have been an easy choice but their parts are almost universally more expensive than the other two. Also their subscription package was the highest cost year by year. The Ring system seemed to be a bit cheaper on price but they don’t offer the option of a key fob to let you into the house without having to run to the keypad. Neither of these two offered a glass-break sensor or a panic button. Simplisafe was the cheaper cost for hardware but it currently doesn’t have an outdoor camera (they are working on it) and their subscription is nearly as expensive as Nest. They were higher on price for the extra siren if you wanted to go with that but Nest doesn’t offer one. Nest does also charge each year if you want cellular back-up and it’s motion sensor is in the door sensor which could be a benefit for some, but read about my issue below & it’ll explain why it wasn’t great for me.

Each did have a number of benefits if I was to choose them. All 3 offered a doorbell and indoor cam, monitoring, and door/window sensors. Simplisafe’s price on most items was the biggest benefit and covered the most check boxes I was looking for in the hardware area. Ring was the cheapest overall for the monitoring & what parts I could get total and it allowed a battery powered camera which means no drilling into brick to put the camera up. Nest would have integrated with the items I already had and also had the outdoor camera I want.

I ended up going with the Simplisafe system based on a few friends who have it & say they have no issues and it was easy set up and that it was hassle free. I haven’t had a perfect install or hassle-free yet and I still want to be able to have the outdoor camera so I hope they release that soon. My issues are not only with the installation but also with the fact that their marketing department took an idea and ran with it without fact checking anything.

  • The sensors are very easy to set up using a “command-strip” style double-sided tape but the sticky part does not stick very well, even after you clean & dry the surface you want to stick them to beforehand. I replaced a number of them with 3M Command strips.
  • The motion sensors are supposed to be “pet friendly” and are even identified on the site with the text of “We precision-engineered our motion sensors to detect the unique heat signature of humans. Not pets.” This is not true & apparent marketing B.S. After a few emails to them asking why my motion sensor was tripped by my two less-than-35-pound puggles (resulting in a call from the monitoring company less than 5 mins from when I left home), it turns out they recommend that if you have pets larger than 30 lbs, or that they may get close to the sensor (it’s heat-based IR), that you put the sensor up upside down at around 4′ off the ground. This way it will catch someone walking through but not the dogs. I decided to put both motion sensors in the basement & order some new window sensors for the areas that the dog would be.
  • The doorbell installation was pretty easy but as soon as I connected the doorbell to my system, the mechanical chime started ringing constantly and causing the dogs to go crazy. Another call from tech support and they shipped out a “chime connector” which appears to be some sort of resistor that you put inline to the power going to your chime. This stopped the constant ringing and allowed me to finish the set up for this item.
  • The WiFi for both of the cameras is a little flaky and can result in a “not found” message for them when they try to record or you try to view them live. I will be contacting the support team about this in the future.
  • The indoor camera is set to record any time the system is armed or disarmed so that’s a little odd. I am unable to find a setting that would allow me to turn it off anywhere in the app or the site.
  • I am unable to find anywhere to set a profile other than Off/Home/Away. I would like the option of adding a profile where I could be home, open the doors upstairs, etc. but if someone were to come in the basement, the motion detectors would trip.

All in all I’m satisfied with my purchase and so far with the settings. I have set it and used it for a couple weeks and it doesn’t make me feel like I live in a prison but it does allow for a small bit of comfort against break-ins even if I do live in a lower crime area.

What are your thoughts? Did you have other things I should have considered?

A guy from the US learning Gaeilge

I decided to do an entry on my desire to learn the Irish Language or Gaeilge.

A lot of my friends have wondered why I would want to learn a “dead” language. It turns out that “At least one in three people (~1.8 million) on the island of Ireland can understand Irish to some extent. Estimates of fully native speakers range from 40,000 up to 80,000 people.” [1]

One of the biggest challenges for me personally was that growing up learning English, I can’t understand the pronunciation of a lot of the words right off the bat. I look at the words “Dia duit” and I don’t get “gee-uh gwitch” out of it at all. I also didn’t want to start mispronouncing anything if I tried to speak with someone when I was in Ireland and look like a “Plastic Paddy”. I have to go back 5 generations on my mother’s side before I have any Irish heritage so I’m not going to be visiting relatives over there or anything. Speaking to someone in their language and screwing it up wasn’t something I wanted to portray as a US citizen either.

One of the things I was curious about being in tech was an easy way to start to learn how to “type Irish” so I could take notes in class. I spoke with one of my instructors and found out that using an iPad with Swype installed & the Gaeilge keyboard chosen allows you to slide a stylus across the keyboard & it will try to predict what Irish word you are trying to spell including the fadas.

The great part about taking notes this way is that holding the spacebar down with the stylus will allow you to quickly switch between English & Gaelic. This way you can Swype out “Dia duit – ‘gee-uh gwitch’ – means: God to you” on your tablet even if you’re in the same spot as me & can’t read your own handwriting.

I also found some information on DuoLingo.com about typing Irish letters including the fada on a USA QWERTY-layout keyboard. It can be found here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/4278237

One good thing about living with all this technology is the ability to put the CD’s from our Irish book into Itunes so I can listen to someone pronouncing the words over and over without having to annoy someone asking them to repeat something dozens of times. It’s allowed me to learn to say “Tá sé go deas bualadh leat” (Tah shay go jas boo lee at) and a few other ones that have proven difficult for me as I start out.

While this isn’t the easiest thing I’ve done and it definitely puts me out of my comfort zone, it’s something I’d really like to continue. So if anyone out there wants to learn with me let me know!

-Slán go fóill

 

[1] – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Status_of_the_Irish_language

Moving & Technology

So something I hadn’t thought about when moving until today was the lack of technology. Of course I’ll still have my phone but I’m moving on Saturday and I will be without internet for a week at my house. I will obviously live but it got me thinking. A lot of us rely on technology to do our day-to-day tasks like pay bills, chat with friends, look up directions, or just find a good restaurant. Many of these tasks have been transferred to our phone but there are things that are just easier when you have a keyboard.

Typing this blog entry would have taken forever on a phone, or I could let google/siri/whathaveyou try to translate my speech. Either way it is much easier to type out my thoughts and surf on a cable connection than a phone connection.

All in all it’s not the end of the world. I’ll be back online on Saturday the 22nd, and the blog will be down for a week. No big deal.

Dublin potential

So I may be heading to Dublin again next year for SourceConference Dublin in May. Any ideas for me on what to do if I stay a few extra days this time? I’ve listed what I’ve already done below so new ideas within walking distance (or short cab) from Jury’s Inn on Custom House Quay would be great!

  • Guinness storehouse tour (normal & connoisseur tour)
  • Kilmainham Gaol
  • Jameson whiskey tour
  • Hop-On-Hop-Off City bus tour
  • Temple Bar mini-bar-crawl (Palace Bar, Temple Bar)
  • Trinity College / Book of Kells
  • Cabaret evening
  • Walk down Grafton Street
  • New tattoo (plan on doing this again when I decide on a design)

I’ve heard that I should wander around more in Temple Bar, and a couple Google searches have told me to try Kehoe’s for a “local bar” atmosphere but I think I’ll rely on my friend Andrew McKenna for that part of the trip. The music he lead me to last time was amazing.

Good food is a must so tell me where you found some amazing seafood or Irish cuisine.

Comment below and let me know what to try!

How to focus on learning

So it seems that since my move life has been a bit of a blur. I’ve had to figure out where things are in the area, what vet to go to, get my license & plates changed over, and not the least of all, make sure all the bills get paid on time from the old house or the new apartment. While stressful, none of this is work related. I’ve been struggling to get time to sit down and learn new things like python scripting to plug into the API for the tool we use, or even get better with Linux to broaden my technical skills.

I even have an idea kicking around in my head for a talk the about the information security field and our constant thirst for knowledge but I haven’t had time to sit down and flesh it out. While some of you may be saying “yep, that’s life”, I wonder about those who struggle with time management and how they can continue to learn. When you have a long commute, or take care of a loved one (child or senior) in your off time, how do you manage to stay on top of things and remain relevant? Do you mainline espresso and forego sleep? Read articles when you’re on the train? Give up hobbies you loved in the past to keep up in the industry?

If you could leave a note and let me know what tips or tricks you can impart I’ll make them part of the talk I’m putting together regarding Infosec knowledge sharing.

Greetings from Michigan

Sorry for the long delay between posts. Life has been a little up in the air lately. I am now living near Detroit, Michigan working for VioPoint as a Senior Security Consultant. I had always said I didn’t want to be a consultant because of the travel required but this job seems to fit the requirements of “less travel”. I haven’t had to travel at all yet thankfully so we shall see if that continues.

The team I’m working with is awesome and many of you know them. @ZombieTango, @Dthom, @B31tf4c3, and @JimmyVo are all here and we’re headed up by @jwgoerlich. I’m slowly getting myself settled in my new apartment, house was sold in short order and the only problems I’ve had are with crapcast, so all-in-all it’s been a decent transition. I will be posting periodic work-related blogs on the VioPoint blog at http://www.viopoint.com/blog/. You can catch my first one there regarding auditing automation, and look for new ones coming later. As for this personal blog I just got it back up and running so I will assume that I will be posting more in the coming weeks/months. Keep checking here or Twitter to see if I can keep that up.

Until then I’ll be taking in the fall colors in Michigan and trying to learn as much as I can about the consulting gig.