Monthly Archives: January 2013

Fighting cold weather

Me wearing a GripGrab balaclava and a bike helmet on January 30, 2013After a few days with temperatures between -10 and -15 ºC, I have bought a balaclava. Actually, I have bought two – redundancy is nice. It allows me to have one down for maintenance (washing) without downtime. The brand is GripGrab and I bought them at CyclingShop.dk. So far I wholeheartedly recommend the GripGrab balaclava. It will probably also work very well for hunting, but the winter hunting season in Denmark pretty much ends tomorrow, and I will not be hunting until the summer season starts on May 16. I imagine using a balaclava when going for a run on very colds days, but I expect it to get too hot after a few kilometres. It might also be difficult to breathe and get rid of snot while wearing it. Anyways, if the thought of wearing a warm balaclava can get me out the door on a very cold morning, it’s all worth it 🙂

By the way, try to look at Usain Bolt in slow motion:

At the workshop with posemand.dk, we started out by looking at sprinters and endurance runners in slow motion. It turns out most of them have something in common. Notice that the posture of Usain’s upper body is completely vertical and that he is very compact when hitting the ground (and very wide when he is not, which yields the insane speed). Also, he always he hits ground right underneath his body. At the moment I strive to achieve the same good posture, the same compactness and the same way of hitting the ground right underneath my body in each stride. Don’t get me wrong – I’m aiming for painless endurance, not speed.

Still alive, still rocking

If I wrote more frequently, I could write smaller and more specific posts 🙂 As usual it is easier to have good intentions than to do something about it…

One of the newsflashes since my last post is that three of my close friends have had problems with their female partners. I know, or at least knew, their partners, so it affects me to some degree as well. I have never really tried this, so it is a new experience for me. The problems range from temporary separation (that’s the most recent status known to me) to infidelity with an ugly divorce as a result. It’s sad and complex when children are in the middle of it all.

Barefoot running at posemand.dk workshop in Aalborg on January 20, 2013In an entirely different category, I have attended a workshop where I was taught how to run without getting injured. It was a workshop by Claus Rasmussen, the guy behind posemand.dk, and it was an absolute pleasure to be a part of it. The general theme was to avoid injuries in the long run (haha), but the specific solution was to do barefoot/natural running and to do it with the right technique. As you might know if you have read this blog before, I have run in FiveFingers for some months. Around Christmas, i.e. approx one month ago, I was actually running 10 km training passes (in Vivobarefoot Evo II) using what I thought was correct barefoot style. The initial video of my running at the workshop immediately revealed that I was landing on my feet in front of my body rather than underneath it. Moreover, I was forcing a forefoot landing and wasn’t relaxed at all in my ankles and feet. Claus taught me and all the other participants a number of exercises for correcting our posture and relaxing our limbs. It will of course take a lot of practice in the near future. I recommend the book/pamphlet Proprioception – Making Sense Of Barefoot Running by Lee Saxby and one of the accompanying videos.

On Thursday I visited the library in Hobro, where the two extreme runners Johnny Wulff Andersen and Andreas Carlsen shared their experiences and gave advice. Johnny talked about his participation in Jungle Marathon in 2012, which was a 256 km race through the South American jungle in Brazil. Undoubtedly too extreme for my taste, but it was great mental preparation for my participation in this year’s Copenhagen Marathon. Andreas had planned to show his documentary Ultra, but the electronic devices he had brought and the ones at the library wouldn’t cooperate, so he ended up given a talk instead. He is clearly a runner with many great experiences in his backpack and I look forward to watching Ultra at some point.

I have been using my new media center to follow e.g. NCIS and How I Met Your Mother, and I have also watched numerous semi-old Top Gear episodes. People keep telling me to give Game of Thrones a chance, but fantasy doesn’t normally catch my interest. I’m not saying never, though. The media center (based on a Raspberry Pi, an external hard drive, a wireless keyboard and the Raspbmc software, as you might recall) works pretty well. It is stable and able to be the secondary, authoritative name server for my domains at the same time. It would have been nice, however, if my music collection was properly tagged. Bugger. What a daunting task.

On behalf of the seller, the German Amazon has cancelled my order for the Cablesson HDelity HDMI Audio Extractor (ARC). I don’t really know whether they cannot or will not deliver the device, but the cancellation bugs me a bit, as I was looking forward to having the device solve my digital to analog conversion problem. The somewhat cheap alternative is a similar device by the brand ViewHD, but the seller apparently only ships from the USA at the moment, which means I will end up paying more for postage, import tax and fees than for the device itself. There are also more expensive alternatives, like devices from Luxi Electronics, but I refuse to pay four to five times the price of a Raspberry Pi for the functionality. At the moment I “survive” by using the DAC is my tv, i.e. my amplifier is connected to the headphone out on the tv. I have discovered that it doesn’t produce as bad sound as I initially thought. The volume on the tv just have to be set to max. The sound quality is decent, but the solution is a bit impractical, as the tv must be turned on and I have to remember turning the volume back down when disconnecting the amplifier. Oh well… It’s the little things 🙂

Update, 13:52:42: I almost forgot that I have been out hunting with Nordthy Jagtforening on a cold but very beautiful Saturday. In total, 10-12 roe deer were observed, while two were shot. I missed on a forest snipe. The headline was fox hunting, but no foxes were shot. As far as I remember one was observed, though. The day traditionally ended with yellow split-pea soup, sausages, bacon, potatoes, mustard, beetroot, schnapps, etc.

Speaker placement and fighting with XBMC etc.

As mentioned in my post yesterday, I have been moving my speakers. My first plan was to build angled mounting brackets out of wood, which the speakers could hang from, like when they hang flat on a wall. I found out, however, that my skills with a handsaw on my dining table without a clamp are non-existent. I kept the screws and will donate the pieces of wood to my parents’ stove.

Instead, I pointed my Aygo towards Ikea and bought two shelves and four brackets. I like the result. Judge for yourself. Before and after shots:

Old placement of my speakers (January 12, 2013)   New place of my speakers (January 13, 2013)

My media center setup with Raspbmc on a Raspberry Pi currently has a problem. I tend to believe the problem mainly lies with XBMC, which is the media center part of the the Linux distribution Raspbmc. Without XBMC’s AudioEngine (AE) enabled, i.e. with default settings, playback always stops after one song. I have already enabled “automatically play next song” (!!!). If I want it to play the next song, I have to press x (to stop playback mode) and press enter on the next song (to start playback mode on that song). When it is done playing the next song, the problem repeats. It doesn’t make a difference whether I choose HDMI or analog audio output.

With AE enabled and the kernel module snd-bcm2835 loaded (AE will not use HDMI output without it), the problem actually gets worse. Before I reveal why, I must admit that AE for a short while made me happy, as its digital to analog conversion (done by PulseAudio) is clearly better than the DAC in my tv. At the moment, my old fashioned, analog, stereo amplifier is connected to the headphone output on my tv. The DAC in my tv is almost as bad as the analog output on the Raspberry Pi itself. Running with AE enabled is worse, because XBMC crashes when it is done playing a song. It automatically restarts, though, so it is not unavailable for long. Well, the point is that XBMC crashing is worse than having to manually start the next song. Which is worse doesn’t really matter, however, as both makes the platform unusable for simple audio playback (in my humble opinion…). Hopefully, both problems will be solved in a not so distant future. Until then I’ll probably just connect a simple mp3 player to my amplifier.

I have ordered a Cablesson HDelity HDMI Audio Extractor (ARC) from the German Amazon. It should provide me with excellent digital to analog conversion, but it will not solve the next-song-problem. Let me cry a bit more – it almost costs the same as two Raspberry Pi boards.

On top of all, I have tried to use a Terratec Aureon Dual USB DAC, which I got for Christmas. I haven’t had any luck getting it to work with Raspbmc, and I’ve tried both inside and outside XBMC. I have also tried limiting USB to 1.0/1.1 (lowest speed), but that made Raspbmc stop working, and I had to put the memory card into another computer and remove the boot option. Of course, I have tested with and without a powered USB hub.

Update, 2013-01-14 19:25:42: The next-song-problem was fixed by installing the latest nightly build of XBMC.

Having a cold

I have had a cold for a few days, so not much is going on at the moment. My head is full of snot. It feels like it cannot fit in there. When I blow my nose, which I do all the time, I get semi-deaf for a while. Sometimes the snot finds its way into my throat, where it becomes green/brown slime. Delicious. I look forward to getting well.

I haven’t had days off work, but most of my energy has gone into being productive at work, despite all the snot. At home I have finished my media center setup – Raspbmc on a Raspberry Pi controlled by a wireless keyboard. A pretty sweet setup. My current project is to move my speakers to the corners of my living room – on shelves close the ceiling. It will improve their sound compared to their old position next to the tv. Moreover, they will be less visible.

That’s all for now.

A new year begins

Weight training in Østerild Multicenter on December 27, 2012 - the shirt reads "pedal force, yes please" :-)Many exciting things happened in my life in 2012, and I had a plan to go through most of them in post. A huge task in itself. Moreover, I wanted to write about what I’ve done during the Christmas holidays and how I celebrated New Year’s Eve. I have realized, however, that I will never get that utopian post written properly, and that if I did, it would become too long for anybody to read. So many good intentions, so little time. I actually write less on the blog when I experience a lot, because no time is left for reporting… After all, it must be better to live in the moment than to always think about how to present it afterwards.

Here is a few headlines from 2012:

    • I began the year by saying goodbye to my old workplace Telenor and welcome to Netic. Also, I moved from the western part of Aalborg to the eastern part. I had 1.5 km from home to work, when I worked at Telenor. Now I have 1 km. After a year I’m still very happy with both my new workplace and my new apartment.
    • I trained for Copenhagen Marathon, but I couldn’t run it due to an injury. I travelled to Copenhagen and was a spectator, which was also a touching experience. The injury was the cause for my shift to minimalistic running in FiveFingers and Vivobarefoot Evo II. I cannot yet determine whether it has helped or not.
    • I attended an awesome Rammstein concert in Herning on February 22.
    • I ran a very brutal half marathon, Thy Trail (Half) Marathon, on February 26.
    • I attended Top Gear Live in Copenhagen with my work colleagues on March 31.
    • I participated in the Silverstone Challenge with a number of my work colleagues on April 24. Everybody should try that! This was my second trip to the UK ever – my first trip was in May 2011.
    • I became ITIL v3 Foundation certified on June 11-13.
    • I attended Nibe Festival with my work colleagues on July 7.
    • I attended TheCamp.dk in week 30 (give or take, i.e. July 21-28), where I, together with my friend and work colleague Georg Sluyterman, held a long and technical talk about DNSSEC.
    • I attended the wedding of my two good friends, Mads Chr. Olesen and Jane Billestrup, on August 4.
    • I participated in the relay running event at Elektronik Cup with my work colleagues on August 17.
    • I attended the wedding of my two good friends, Troels and Lone Frøkjær Christensen, on September 1.
    • I attended the 10-year anniversary party for my workplace on September 29-30.
    • I bought my first car, a Toyota Aygo from 2008, on October 1. This was approx ten years after I got my driving license. I managed to drive approx 4,000 km during October, November and December.
    • I participated in Xtreme Mandehørm Aalborg with Hans Jacob Møller and Morten Klingenberg on October 6.
    • I participated in BakkeChallenge in Silkeborg (beautiful but exhausting 10 km of forest) with Hans Klemmensen on November 3.
    • Together with my brother, Christian Toft, I was photographed, such that we were able to give our parents (and grandparents) a photography of us. This happened on a very cold and windy Friday morning on November 23 at Click Foto in Aalborg.
    • I became 28 on November 26. I’m becoming somewhat old, hmm…
    • My parents’ silver wedding anniversary was on November 27.
    • I had my car treated with a Dinitrol anti-rust treatment on November 28.
    • I attended the Christmas party for my workplace on December 1-2.
    • My parents held a very fine party for family and close friends on December 8, where their silver wedding anniversary and my mother’s 50-year birthday were celebrated.
    • My mother became 50 on December 15.
    • I held a small, semi-spontaneous party on New Year’s Eve for my three friends Steffen Troldtoft, Kenneth Holleufer and Chris Nielsen. I had made shrimp cocktails and braised roast beef. The roast was served with baked potatoes, onions and carrots from the braising of the roast, garlic bread, homemade brown sauce, salad and a delicious bottle of 2012 game-wine from Holte Vinlager. The dessert was icecream with caramel sauce and waffles.

Apparently, “a few” is now redefined to be 24 🙂

I hate to use the term “New Year’s resolution”, so I will not, but I’ve decided to start getting up early and do most of my training in the morning. My circadian rhythm will no longer move daily, at least when I haven’t been to a party and haven’t had my sleep disturbed by work.

My left ankle is sore at the moment, so regarding fitness I’m focusing on eating healthy and doing weight training rather than running. Besides that, I’m playing with a Raspberry Pi, which will be my new media center.

Update, 2012-01-05 07:07:42: Like 2011, 2012 didn’t bring a girl into the picture. It didn’t even bring real desire to go look for one. No, I’m not gay. No, I don’t think it’s wrong to be gay. A few of my best friends are.