So, I consider my last blog (protolounge) to be a bust. I suppose I could do some learning about SEO and the like. However, for now, I will be moving over to my self-managed personal blog (http://shawnhymel.com/). I intend it to be more of an online resume and portfolio than an actual blog. Most of my blogging (once a month?) will hopefully be at https://www.sparkfun.com/. So check their main news post!
Ah, meetings. The necessary evil of the business world. We need them to inform, collaborate, brainstorm, inspire, get approval, give approval, persuade, showboat, compromise, argue, negotiate, brown nose, and sometimes, entertain. The unfortunate fact is that we fall in love with them. We think we are accomplishing something by sitting around a table talking. For a few professions, this is true.
For the rest of us, we need meetings to help guide us, or perhaps, guide others. That’s it. Get what you need, give your input, and get out. If you’re not a CEO, you likely have more important things to be doing than sitting in a meeting – your time is better spent elsewhere.
FastCompany had a great article on meetings, and what Steve Jobs had to say on them. Essentially, you want to keep meetings short (under 30 minutes), to the point, and only include people who are absolutely necessary to the meeting (no “bystanders”).
While Steve Jobs was a bit ruthless in his application, the idea still remains: keep it simple.
I came across this great article on millennials and how to best lead them in the workplace:
I had an interesting debate with an older colleague the other day, who felt that all work should be performed on a schedule (e.g. 9 to 5). While I wholeheartedly agreed that many positions require a strict schedule, many others do not. If I provide a particular service that others depend on, then a strict schedule is a communication tool to my customers, colleagues, boss, etc. as to when I will be providing that service. This holds true if I am assembling car parts in a plant, on the phone for an IT help desk, providing exercise training for people in a gym, or even managing people.
On the other hand, jobs that require creativity, such as art, engineering, and writing, emphasis should be placed on the final product, not strict adherence to a work schedule. Don’t get me wrong, people still need to be held accountable for meeting deadlines or else nothing will get accomplished. The point is that emphasis should be placed on creativity and flexibility for a number of job positions rather than work hours.
Does this philosophy make me a millennial?
After 3 months of Starting Strength (SS) and eating 3500 Calories per day, I’ve gained 16 pounds and apparently only 3 pounds of Lean Body Mass (LBM). However, I made decent gains on my lift weight. While I did not know my 1 rep max (1RM) for most lifts, I know my bench press 1RM went from 135 lbs. to 150 lbs.
While I certainly did not see the crazy gains reported by Tim Ferriss, I consider 16 pounds in 4 months (albeit mostly fat) to be a success of my efforts. More importantly, I’ve made gains in my base strength, which will help in future workouts.
I spent years in the gym and neither gained nor lost much strength, weight, fat, etc. After this experiment, I concluded that diet is as important, if not more important, than the workout. I aimed for 3000-3500 Calories per day with an emphasis on protein, fat, and water (you need water in excess to offset the massive intake of protein). I cycled on then off of creatine and L-Glutamine. To be honest, they didn’t seem to have much of an effect. To be fair, I don’t know if I was using them correctly. Here is a sample of my daily diet. I maintained this regimen 5 days per week and did my best to eat 3500 Calories on Saturday and Sunday.
The most important thing I learned was that saturated fat was necessary for your well being – especially if you’re taxing your body with heavy lifting.
3 days per week, I followed Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength program as outlined in the original Starting Strength book. Because my fairly active hobbies over the past few years (Taekwondo, Swing Dancing) were so leg-centric, my upper body needed a lot more work. Using the lifting standards found here, I set my lifting goals for novice (2-6 months of strength training) in the 149-165 lbs weight class (my target body weight). I looked up my target lifting weight for each of the 5 major lifts in SS. Given these goals, I used this formula to calculate my gaols for 5 rep max (5RM) based on the 1RM goals. With the 5RM goals, I worked backward with this Starting Strength schedule so that my 5RM goals would be met by the end of April. The only exceptions were my deadlift and squat weights. I actually stopped increasing the weight for these two exercises once I hit my 5RM goals. I wanted to give my upper body a chance to catch up so that I didn’t end up with freakish tree trunk legs.
After I completed this entire routine (February – April), I tested my 1RM for all 5 lifts. I listed my final working weight (5 reps), 1RM goal, and 1RM actual tested weights:
These results put me in the novice category of the lifting standards, which means I met my goals for strength (and makes me extremely happy). I also closely monitored my weight throughout the whole process and graphed it against my body fat percentage. Body fat was measured using the 3-point Jackson/Pollock formula.
Interesting to note from this: I made the best gains in LBM during the first month, when I attempted Tim Ferriss’s workout. After that, all gains seemed to be fat. However, my strength noticeably improved. From this, I can conclude that muscle volume does not equal strength. However, because you need strength to make LBM gains, being strong is definitely important. As a result, I actually recommend doing the opposite of what I did – build strength first using a routine like Starting Strength then moving to mass building (which are slightly different routines/theories).
Finally, I looked at weight gain versus sleep. The gain of weight per day is measured and plotted against my sleep for that night.
While it seems fairly random, it appears that biggest gains in weight were made after 7+ hours of sleep and most losses were made when I got 6 or less hours of sleep. This makes sense, but I wanted to see how much difference it makes. I would like to spend more time analyzing sleep vs. weight change, but I think common wisdom rules here: get as much sleep as possible. Period.
All in all, I think this experiment was a success. Phase 2 will consist of a cutting phase that focuses on conditioning – I would like to do the Zombie Run in October. In the future, I would like to do a 3 or 4 phase cycle throughout the year: Strength -> Bulk -> Conditioning -> Cut/Endurance. I will post the results as I try each phase. I hope this helps – get strong, stay healthy!
Late last year, my thesis was approved by Virginia Tech. Fortunately, that meant I could graduate. Unfortunately, it probably means that my thesis will be socked in a (virtual) drawer somewhere to gather (virtual) dust. I had the option to produce a vanity publication through some shady German-owned publication house, but I opted out. I decided that I would publish my thesis to the Internet for anyone who was interested in such research. It can be found here:
I looked at Hidden Markov Models (HMMs) as a method to enhance functionality in cognitive radios. HMMs have been used previously for pattern recognition, such as handwriting and speech analysis, but they have seen limited use in the wireless world for things like spectrum sensing and analysis.
CPUs (especially the really small ones found in modern wireless devices like radios and cell phones) have trouble keeping up with the demands of most HMM implementations. Therefore, I created both C and CUDA implementations of such HMM algorithms in order to compare their executions times. From what I found, graphics cards (GPUs) can surpass CPUs only when many states or many models are used at the same time. If you’re interested in the results, check out my thesis. If you’re interested in trying out the code or replicating my results, you can find my code hosted here:
For the final project in my Computer Vision class (ECE 5554), I decided that the children’s book Where’s Waldo needed to be solved. For good. All those countless hours spent searching for the red and white striped man could be best spent elsewhere. You know, like solving mazes in Highlights.
After some research, I decided that I could construct a Hidden Markov Model based on the 2-dimensional Discrete Cosine Transform (2D DCT) of our friend, Waldo. Using the model, we could scan through a much larger image, looking for sections that closely match the model of Waldo. If the match is close enough (i.e. over a threshold), then highlight that section blue. We can play with the threshold to make the identification better or worse. With the test images, we saw a 70% positive detection of Waldo. Just think, with a few more algorithm and speed optimizations, manually solving for that elusive figure will be a thing of the past!
You can find the report and MATLAB code below. The code is based on the HMM Toolbox.
Well, progress thus far has been….lacking. After 2 weeks, I’ve gained maybe a pound. Although, I have seen strength gains in the gym. Here’s the weirdest part: my energy levels have been terribly low. I predict it has something to do with my diet. After digging around on the Internet, I found some interesting articles on how to manipulate testosterone levels. Apparently, a low fat diet has a tendency to decrease testosterone. Looking at my diet for the last 2 weeks, I found that I consumed about 10-15% fat, which is far below my normal 20-30%. Even though I’m consuming 3000 Calories per day in mostly protein and carbs, the decrease in fat must have reduced my testosterone production. My energy levels were low. Sex drive was almost non-existent. Fantastic.
Time for an intervention! I put together a different diet. While it was based on the previous 3000-Calorie diet, I threw in a lot more fat. I concentrated on mono-unsaturated and saturated fats; both of which have been shown to increase testosterone. I ideally wanted 25% – 30% of my diet to be fats. Instead of egg-whites, I’m eating whole eggs. Apparently, it’s your liver that produces most of the cholesterol – not your diet. My doctor be damned. This is all for the sake of science. SCIENCE! We’ll see the results of my new high-T diet after a couple of weeks. If you’re interested, the mean plan can be found here: