Non Apple Related Post – Skip If Necessary

This is an unusual post as it’s not related to Apple or the Mac or the iPad, it’s actually about me!

But don’t be concerned as it’s the first and last on this particular subject, it’s just that I’m getting a lot of questions asking why I’ve just set up a new Twitter account. So this is just the back story, and will be the only non-Apple related post on this blog.

I have two main Twitter accounts – @donmcallister and @sconline.

@donmcallister is the main Twitter account that I’ve had for almost 10 years, and in that time, I’ve been fortunate enough to end up with over 12,000 Twitter followers. Most, if not all, of these followers I’m assuming follow me due to my connections with the Apple world, primarily via ScreenCastsOnline. I take immense pride in growing this follower base and I’m hyper sensitive in what I post to my Twitter feed. I always try to post interesting Apple related Tweets and RT what I think is appropriate.

@sconline is my primary “business” feed where I promote ScreenCastsOnline content and other nuggets of useful Apple related information.

So the reason for this post…

Up until about two months ago, I was a card carrying meat eater – no, more than that, I was a huge meat eater. If a meal didn’t have meat in it, it wasn’t a meal as far as I was concerned. Despite this, my health was fine. The only thing I struggled with was a constant battle with my fluctuating weight. I was continually following periods of dieting, and then putting it all back on again. Just to calibrate, compared to a lot of people, my weight fluctuations were not a big deal, I’ve never been morbidly obese, I just felt uncomfortable in my own skin.

After a cruise early this year, I came off the ship feeling pretty unwell after overindulging. My first visit to the scales showed I’d put on about 10lbs over two weeks – I thought enough was enough.

I’d previously been aware of the health benefits of a plant based diet, but had never thought it was something I could adopt – I loved meat too much.

I’d also always had a slight inkling of guilt about eating animals in the past, but as with many meat eaters, I’d managed to block those thoughts out.

But, spurred on by the thought that something had to change, I set off to research more fully the benefits of a plant based diet.

I did some reading, I watched some documentaries:

Warning – some of these may not be available on the links in your country. Also, some do contain pretty nasty imagery – I couldn’t watch them all!

As I mentioned earlier, it was mainly the personal health benefits that turned me onto investigating a plant based diet, but after watching the documentaries, the ethical and environmental impact of animal farming hit me quite hard – much harder than I thought it would. In some respects, I feel these aspects may be even more important to me now than my original, somewhat selfish reasons.

I also checked out a ton of Vegan YouTube videos with recipes, vlogs, etc – there is an absolute abundance of guidance and help on adopting a vegan lifestyle on YouTube. Mind bogglingly so.

I also visited lots of Vegan websites – you wouldn’t believe the amount of vegan recipes out there. I also discovered that you can “veganise” quite a few normal meals too.

So about two months ago, I decided to start following a Vegan lifestyle, initially for 30 days, just to see if I could stick it out. A vegan lifestyle means to eat no animal products and to try your best to live ethically without using animal products – this includes meat, fish, eggs and dairy products.

It’s not super easy initially, mainly as you have to think a bit more, but it’s really not that difficult – even for a die hard meat eater like myself.

Initially it was a bit difficult to get set up with the necessary foodstuffs – UK Supermarkets are starting to cater more for the vegan market but the US are streets ahead. There are some “faux” vegan meat substitutes I’ve tried, just to see what they were like. Most were pretty good – except for the Hot Dogs – steer clear of the Hot Dogs. I should really try another brand before saying that.

But, it has now been two months in and I’m sticking to the program.

I’ve lost some weight (but not yet finished) but more telling was my recent trip to Las Vegas. I came back pretty much the same weight as I went out.

Mission accomplished.

I feel quite healthy and very pleased with my progress to date.

The strange thing is I really don’t have as many cravings for meat as I thought I would. I thought it would be a huge effort, but it really hasn’t been. It’s been more of an adventure and I’m eating much more variety than I ever did. Plus I’m actually cooking more home made stuff then I ever did, and enjoying it – both eating it and making it. The overriding surprise is that I don’t feel I’m missing out.

Eating out has generally been OK, although I was spoiled by the first restaurant I visited after turning vegan, in that they had a separate vegan menu – result! And the food was great too. Other restaurants haven’t been as vegan friendly, but there is always something available that is accidentally vegan.

The family are supportive, although none have decided to join me on my vegan journey, but that’s fine with me.

So now I think I’m in it for the long haul and wanted to Tweet a bit more about it, hence the reason for this post.

The problem being, I’m sure the majority of my existing 12,000 followers aren’t really interested in my vegan escapades, and that’s not what they signed up for. I’ve no wish to hijack my current Twitter feed.

So I’ve created a new Twitter account – @donthevegan – and I’ll restrict any vegan tweeting and RT’s to that account. The @donmcallister and @sconline accounts will remain just the same as they have been.

Please feel free to follow me at @donthevegan – I don’t think it will be a particularly active account, but I just wanted somewhere to post stuff. If you have any questions about my journey or veganism in general, please ask them on @donthevegan.

So that’s the one and only vegan related post on the blog – thanks for your attention if you’ve reached this far, and normal service will now be resumed.

Back in the UK

Following the short postscript on my previous blog post, I’m back in the UK after a short dash to Italy and back.

The world really is getting smaller, but the cultural differences and difficulties in communication are as still as evident as always, especially when off the beaten path.

My sister in law was taken seriously ill whilst on holiday and I went over to offer some support to my brother who had travelled over the week before. Alone in a non-english speaking country with just his iPhone as a lifeline, he needed some assistance, even if was just a familiar face to help out.

Whilst on his own, and trying to communicate with Doctors, Nurses and basically everybody else, his iPhone has been invaluable. Real time Google Translate, Word Lens, Maps, iMessage, eMail and many other apps have all played a part in helping him through a difficult time in impossible situations.

The positive impact of the iPhone in this horrendous situation can not be understated.

They are both now en-route back to the UK, even though they have to endure a 22 hour ambulance journey across Europe. It’s going to be an even longer journey for them both to hopefully full recovery, but at least they’ll have family on hand to help out in any way possible.

My thanks to the Doctors and Nurses in Nocera Inferiore, Salerno for looking after Ian and Jan, as well as the kindness shown by many of the local people during this difficult time.

My New Walking Desk

Ok, So I’ve got a new desk. A walking treadmill desk!

This is basically a standing desk with a treadmill. It’s not my permanent workplace, I still have my normal desk, but I’m hoping to build up to spending a few hours on the walking desk every day.

So why a walking desk?

I’ve read a lot about the effects of sitting for prolonged periods of time. It doesn’t make for comfortable reading, especially for some one like me, who spends seven or eight hours every day in front of my monitor.

I’ve also read about the benefits of a standing desk. I’ve tried it and I didn’t really like it. There’s something very fatiguing about standing in the same spot for prolonged periods of time.

The alternative is a walking desk.

First thing to state up front is the walking desk is not an exercise machine. The treadmill is purpose built for walking at slow speeds. There’s no incline setting and the usual speed is between 1 and 1.5 miles per hour. The idea is to just keep moving and not break into a sweat. At this speed, it’s fairly easy to type, use a trackpad and I even can use my Wacom Tablet. It’s early days (it only arrived today), but I was quite happy answering emails, doing some post production stuff and various admin stuff. To break myself in gently, after the effort of setting the thing up (it’s a bit of a beast), I decided to limit myself to just 45 minutes. I’ll gradually build up over the coming months.

I also don’t intend to do podcasts or record my ScreenCastsOnline videos whilst walking. I have a normal desk kitted out for my recording activities.

I’ll do a more detailed post over the next few weeks, but to answer a few specific questions and comments on Twitter.

Which model did I get?
I went for a commercially available model rather than build my own. I just don’t have the time and I wanted to get one that was specifically designed for the job. I went with the LifeSpan TR1200-DT5 Treadmill Desk. Horrendously expensive and almost twice the price in the UK than in the US. At least I can claim it as a business expense and reclaim the VAT. It’s not even the top of the range. However, build quality is excellent and the desk area is huge.

What mount did I get for the Monitor?
I can’t remember! I got a standard VESA mount for the 27″ Thunderbolt Display but I can’t remember where I got the stand from.

What is the Wallpaper?
I picked up the wooden wallpaper from here

Why don’t you just go out and enjoy some fresh air and walk?
After a long day seated, I tend to go for a long walk outside each evening, to try and compensate for inactivity of the day. I’m not a runner but I do enjoy my long walk. So wouldn’t it be good to walk whilst doing some work during the day. Hence the walking desk. I’ll still go for my evening walks, but I’ll supplement that with walking during the day to remain productive and gain all the health benefits. It’s not to replace my other activities, but if I have to work seven or eight hours a day indoors. why not spend some of that time walking?

Just as a bit of fun, I did a time lapse of setting up the new beast – enjoy!

Countdown continued…..

Harking back to my previous blog post, fell off the wagon only a couple of times this week in my attempt to get a bit trimmer and fitter for MacMania09. Just too much Pizza on Friday night with friends and a humongous Sunday lunch 🙁

Even so, I’ve managed to trim 3lbs off this week without going too berserk!

That brings me down to 14st 7lbs (203lb or 92Kgs) after 7 days.

More than happy with that!


Countdown….

Just four short weeks before leaving for MacMania 09 and I’m way behind in where I wanted to be.

So the next four weeks are going to take some serious planning and hard grafting. I’ll need to cut down the distractions (sorry Twitter) and get some focus to make sure everything is accomplished before I can leave.

Following on from a recent blog post, the overwhelming consensus was that the world will not end if I don’t publish a show for two weeks.

Really!!!

Oh well, that’s a good thing then! It relieves the pressure somewhat in that I don’t have to double production leading up the trip, besides which, even if I did the shows for the weeks I’m away, there is no guarantee that I could publish them remotely. I’ve got a house sitter organised who will take on some of the membership related emails and queries, so I should be able not to worry too much about that side of things.

One thing I will take seriously over the next four weeks is to try and get in shape for the trip.

I could do with losing at least two stone (28lbs) to bring my weight down to a reasonable level. I appreciate that it’s not going to happen in four weeks but I’ll try my best to at least make a dent in that. Nothing dramatic, just a bit more exercise, no chocolate, reduced portion sizes and no alcohol midweek (a definite cause of midnight snacking!). I’ll also be trying out a regular course of JuicePlus to supplement my eating habits. It just so happens that one of my regular ScreenCastsOnline viewers is associated with JuicePlus and he has kindly sent over some samples for me to try out – Thanks Curt!

I’ll not bore you everyday with an update, but I’ll try and report back at least every week to let you know how I get on. Going public may help me stick to a sensible regime. Just for the record, as of today I’m, 14st 10lbs (206lbs or 93Kgs), if I can loose at least 14lbs in the next 4 weeks, that would be a start!