Blog

AT&T U-Verse Availability

posted Nov 2, 2013, 10:33 AM by Bill Schuller   [ updated Nov 2, 2013, 10:40 AM ]

I wanted a very simple way of showing the U-Verse Tech a picture of all of the outages I've experienced recently. While most of them are small sub-30-second outages which I imagine are line tests, We have had some significant outages. Since U-Verse is all IP-delivered, when the DSL connection is down we loose all Internet, TV and Phone service at home. I decided to try Timeline.js which does not seem paticularly well suited to this purpose by no fault of it's own. It does present the data, but not without some confusion. I'll try a simple bar chart next.

I extracted the data from syslog message forwarded from my "Residential Gateway". 

Reliving the Quantified Car Wreck

posted Aug 23, 2013, 9:15 PM by Bill Schuller

My car has been fixed up like new after my recent wreck. This afternoon as I was returning from to the office from my appointment I nearly re-lived the same wreck. A driver made a left turn from a stright-only lane right in front of me as I was proceeding straight through the intersection from my straight or left lane.

I have occasionally turned on the accelerometer and gyro logging in FluxStream Capture while I drive. This time around, I have even more data. You can see the massive deceleration and the associated spike in my heart rate and drop in my beat spacing (RR). I haven't pulled my GPS data yet, but I was able to spot this easily in the FluxStream graph. Those dips in the Acceleration data really stand out.

Interestingly, my heart rate also reflects my mood afterward. Initially relieved that I didn't get hit this time, then enraged that it had nearly happened again, calming slowly as I composed in my head a letter to the City of Addison imploring them to add more signage at that intersection. ;-)

FluxStream Graphs showing Heart Rate and motion capture data
 

Quantified Car Wreck

posted Jul 12, 2013, 3:26 PM by Bill Schuller   [ updated Jul 12, 2013, 3:51 PM ]

This afternoon I was in a minor fender bender. I won't provide any details to protect the innocent, but all parties are uninjured.

The event showed up in interesting ways in a few of my tracking tools. It was handy to be able to reconstruct the event using some of my data.

Heart Rate:

GPS:
I log GPS with among other things, a VisionTac VGPS-900 which records my cars position at 1 second intervals. Here's the timeline of the immediate crash

2:38:29 CDT - 25 mph
2:38:30 CDT -  8 mph
2:38:31 CDT -  0 mph

Kind of interesting to know the actual second the crash occurred. [Note: Time in the screen cap below is not reflecting the right time zone offset] 


Steps:

My blog is not terribly pretty or useful. Talk to me on Twitter instead - @dataobsessive

Number of Cities and Towns in California without the letter "E"

posted Feb 28, 2013, 7:08 AM by Bill Schuller

There is a meme emerging lately challenging the massess with simple quizzes. Most of them are silly, but these "Name a  ______ without the letter __" challenges are pretty great. Great in the sense that there are so many right answers. Everyone must feel like a genius! 

I used some of the basic features of Intuit's QuickBase product to graph the percentage of cities and towns without and "e" in the name. QuickBase is a pretty powerful tool. It has an open API with abstractions for most languages. It is extremely empowering to users of many levels of expertise. Perhaps most powerful to novice users as it is trivial to set up data-oriented applications. Check out the read-to-use applications for tracking anything from Projects to SOX regulatory compliance.  

It turns out, 481 (39%) cities and towns in California do not contain the letter "e". That is a lot of right answers.






Number of Cities: https://intuitcorp.quickbase.com/db/bhwsupp9u?a=q&qid=6
Count of Cities: https://intuitcorp.quickbase.com/db/bhwsupp9u?a=q&qid=5
Raw Data: https://intuitcorp.quickbase.com/db/bhwsupp9u?a=q&qid=1

"Working from Home, I'm sick" or "Surely the world will stop if I step away"

posted Feb 13, 2013, 10:45 AM by Bill Schuller   [ updated Feb 13, 2013, 10:46 AM ]

"I need you to be healthy and leveraging your full potential more than I need you to be giving an effort degraded by illness now. Go home and rest. Put your energy into recovery rather than work and we will both have a better outcome in the end."

Any thoughts on effective policy to provide incentives towards this? Any ideas on how to measure the impact of working while ill vs concentrating on recovery? 

I see a common strategy of "I'm sick, so I'm going to work from home so I don't spread it around". It's admirable that folks don't want to spread things around, but what about the quality of work that is delivered in this state? I know that I can't muster the same level of rigor. My ability to weigh a broad set of options when making decisions is severely hampered as well.

In the end, is my employer more hurt by my absence during focused recovery or by the reduced effectiveness during a recovery drawn out by channeling energy away from recovery and towards work?

!!!! Neurology Nerd Alert - Below information references low level science !!!!

I'm not talking about energy  commonly described as qi, prana or aura. I am referring to cellular energy generated by mitochondria throughout your body. It is well established that organs compete for available energy, including the brain. When you body is fighting infection, a substantial amount of available energy is devoted to that fight. You bodies primary defense against infection is inflammation which also stacks the deck against good cognitive function.

So there is a double-whammy at play. There is higher overall demand for energy as your body fights the infection. Less net energy is available to the brain. The sort of inflammation that fights infection is systemic affecting all parts of the body including the brain. This in itself is a double-whammy. Inflammation restricts blood flow in the brain limiting it's access to energy in the blood stream (glucose, ketones). It also triggers a myriad of inflammation regulation processes acting on the endothelial cells which control microvascular constriction in the brain. That takes energy as well!

My conclusion - the body is an interconnected super-system. As I have paid more attention to how it works I'm becoming more familiar with both current limitations as well as the theoretical maximums. Working within my current limits and working past them to get closer to my most capable self has actually up-regulated my success. That's right! I've taken measures to ensure I can bring my most effective self to the table which for me has meant making sure that I stop working when I need to. 

http://www.cell.com/immunity/retrieve/pii/S107476130900140X
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=thinking-hard-calories
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1750-3639.2000.tb00248.x/abstract

Motivation to Move?

posted Jan 10, 2013, 8:11 AM by Bill Schuller

My 5 year old son Luka and I have been reviewing and comparing our FitBit data each morning since he's been getting ready for school with enough efficiency to leave a bit of free time before we leave the house. I've been in and out of the home office as I gather our lunches and wrap things up. With parental controls keeping him out of trouble on the computer, he sent me these two messages through the FitBit social features this morning.


Fitbit
Luka sent you a message:
Luka“I love you dad”
View friends
REPLY
Fitbit
Luka sent you a message:
Luka“Go dad”
View friends
REPLY

My perspective has shifted on motivation though. I would have chosen to act on this in a "let me move some more to make Luka happy" in my pre-bulletproof fog. Now my perspective is nearly opposite. I move more not because I am choosing to move, but because the emotional connection that Luka has extended has made me feel so good, contributed to my new ultra-optimistic outlook and I have so much physical and mental energy that I can not help but move. I'm shaking my money maker to some pop dance music at my standing workstation now. Not to improve my health by moving more, but because I need to in order to properly physically express the way I feel. Now I'm not sure it would be a good way to express the way I feel to others observing my dancing. That might better elicit a response like "Quick, call a doctor and get me a wooden spoon! This man is having a seizure!"

Put another way; "Don't move to become healthy. Become healthy and observe how much more you move without even thinking about it". I wonder if this is a rampant case of correlation mistaken for causality in the observations that "Happy, healthy people are happy and healthy because they move. Move and you will be come happy and heathy." Put much more eloquently are Dr McGuff's thoughts on the subject which I am sure influence the perspective I am choosing to take. 

Due some quirk in the iOS Podcast app, Bulletproof Executive Radio Episode #26 featuring an awesome interview with Body By Science author Dr. Doug McGuff was marked as "unplayed" on my phone a few days ago. I listened to it again over the past few days and boy was I glad I did. It's one of the best episodes. Dr Mcguff communicated this concept much better than I have. I can't find the transcript to pull the exact quote, but the episode is very much worth listening to in it's entirety   

As the market of smart pedometers gets more crowded, I'm starting to see value in what FitBit has built as part of their platform that I didn't value nearly as highly as I did before.

There's 30lbs less of me now...

posted Jan 9, 2013, 8:04 PM by Bill Schuller



On September 30th, 2011 at 8:08 PM I weighed 236.7 pounds. That is the heaviest I've been since I started weighing myself on my Withings scale in December 2009. This morning I clocked in at 206.7 officially closing out 30lbs of weight loss. While it is hardly comparable to the standard American diet, I'm eating really good food too! And plenty of it. See for yourself the sort of stuff I started eating a few weeks ago. Want to see my weight data too? Go for it! I'm grateful for Fitbit pointing this out. I am especially grateful that even though the measurement came from a competitors device, they still took advantage of the data and provided a delightful experience. It's been a little frustrating to see that my FitBit data doesn't show up in Withings Health Companion in the same way.

I haven't been focused on weight loss, but it is the universal metric it is. I'm triply excited about the changes in my brain.

Bulletproofing Bill

posted Jan 6, 2013, 12:16 AM by Bill Schuller   [ updated Jan 6, 2013, 6:23 AM ]

For nearly a year I have been astounding everyone I know by letting them know that I put butter in my coffee. Dave Asprey, also know as the Bulletproof Executive has been sharing what he has learned over his years of biohacking through conference presentations, blog and podcast. This January I will be joining him in San Francisco at the first Bulletproof Biohacking Conference. There I will spend 2 days intensely training my nervous system with the world-renowned trainer Jay Schroeder. I'll spend a third day listening to Doctors and Scientists speak about biohacking. The knowledge that I've applied from Dave has already netted tremendous results for me. I can't wait for more.


So much of what Dave has uncovered suggests a path to health that is in the opposite direction that every educator, physician and friend has ever pointed me towards. I approached Dave's work with the same skepticism as I do the output of any other diet miracle kook. The difference is that Dave hasn't discovered any of this which seems so much like snake oil. Instead, he's found these answers in strange texts unreferenced by the USDA dietary guidelines. No, not the notes of a witch doctor preserved on clay tablets. He finds this wisdom in publicly published scientific studies. Perhaps more skeptical than I, he reports to have tried the mothods on himself. Don't worry, it's done with the supervision of Medical Doctors including his wife Lana. They have coauthored a fascinating book prominently featuring epigenetics called The Better Baby Book


I want to make one thing clear up front. I do not endorse any of the methods that Dave describes as part of the Bulletproof lifestyle for anyone else. I do fully encourage everyone to experiment with those methods, measure the results and then decide if you endorse them for yourself.  My journey is an excellent example of what is happening to me when I went bulletproof. There are others who have reported similar results. Be much, much more skeptical than you have been with the guidelines you have accepted already. Test for yourself and share the results with everyone, particularly if they don't have the desired effect.


The beginning of my journey is uninteresting. As I progressively learned from Daves blog and podcast, I tried a few things here and there. The coffee tasted good. I was more than ready to stop cardio workouts. However, much of what Dave was preaching was too outlandish for me. I started reading the work of others. I checked some of his references. Then I caught myself using more and more of the knowledge gained through consuming Dave's work to refute things I found in other places on my exploration into improving my health. I experimented off and on with good forward progress which kept me encouraged. It was a long time before I was able to remove all of the barriers to my success though.


I had my first true taste of bulletproof results starting strangely on this past Halloween. A business trip took me away from home that evening. This usually results in less adherence to the bulletproof diet as compliant food is more difficult to find in most airports. Through sheer determination and preparation I was actually able to do very well for a few days. The meeting I was in town for went very well. I noticed a significant increase in comfort and fidelity of my social interactions both with colleagues and strangers. The following two weeks are turmoilous and busy. 


By mid November I decided I was going to recommit and start implementing the whole bulletproof enchilada (with nightshade-free sauce and no tortilla or cheese). During my "whole enchilada" phase, I cooked throughout the week food from the Bulletproof Chef cookbook. Since I had also invested in a Bulletproof Vibe Whole body vibration plate, I also doubled-down on that, using it for 15 minutes each morning. I stuck with my usual bulletproof coffee and less-than-compliant bulletproof intermittent fasting in the morning. I started on Saturday and by Tuesday I was feeling amazing. I felt it increasingly for a few days. I was bulletproof! I had formerly convinced myself that the small improvements I had seen were the bulletproof feeling that Dave was talking about. Those incremental changes just had me feeling better. Feeling Bulletproof was amazing. I was exceeding even my own expectations at work. My mind was on fire. My body wasn't fighting me anymore.


Then Thanksgiving break came. It started with an ~18hour road trip with the wife and little ones. I ate bulletproof on the drive. I enjoyed my "No-Chili Lamb Chili" cold in a fast food joint with a play area while my kids burned off some energy. My daughter even spilled a huge cup of Brocoli Leek soup all over a very nice, very, very understanding woman on one stop. Bringing along my bulletproof Vibe didn't even occur to me, so I skipped my shake sessions. While enjoying my time in Atlanta, I had a beer (or maybe 6) with my old pal and had a few other minor dietary deviations. On the trip back, I ate something called an "Angry Whopper", bun and all. Then I had another for dinner. No, this didn't progress into a downward spiral ending in some sort of horrible fast food binge. I sure did feel horrible for a week after eating those two burgers though.


I jumped on the obvious. What I ate was causing me to feel like a dazed moron encased in jello. After returning from Thanksgiving break, it was time to go into overdrive to finish work that needed to be done before christmas break. I let life get in the way and slipped back into some habits of convenience. I had been a very, very big Chipotle eater*. I had myself convinced that a double-chicken, guacamole and lettuce burrito bowl had no negative impact on my body. So I continued my practice of frequent meals at Chipotle. I also ate a lot of my wife's very delicious, very well intentioned perfectly paleo food. The fog cleared a little, but just as before, I was only feeling better. I wasn't feeling Bulletproof.


Then I dove into my data. Unfortunately, as track-happy as I am, I find that tracking food is arduous and I hadn't done it. So I was data mining my mind, which had been through and was still in a wheat fog. I did manage to figure out that I just can't tollerate nightshades. Potatoes are still on my "maybe" list, but any sort of pepper certainly induces in me mind-numbing, gut-bloating, second-chin-conjuring inflammation. It occurred to me that durring my first fleeting Bulletproof success, I had accidentally not eaten out at Chipotle because I had brought my home-cooked food to work for lunch each day. 


Chipotle has four menu items that don't have a nightshade or wheat in them. Chips, lettuce, sour cream and cheese. With the bulletproof diet lens, the only completely green menu item is lettuce. The thing is, I knew this. My love affair with Chipotle was long. It started with my first burrito in 2002 at the San Diego location near UCSD. I can conjure up a vision of the sign seen from the parking lot as my coworker told me about this place he had been to in Denver. He pronounced it "cha-poodle". Chipotle is named appropriately. It means smoked jalapeno pepper en Espanol. My young sister actually works at a Chipotle. I had personally interrogated an expert from behind the burrito counter about what was in each item. I knew that my "safe" bowl was laced with delicious, succulent jalapeno and adobo sauce. Needless to say, the realization that my body could not come to an agreement with food so delicious which had done so much to forward the cause of organic, real food was tough to bare. 


This realization launched a quest to stop ingesting anything that might be causing an inflammatory response in my body. For good measure I was also looking for anything I could do to reduce any inflammatory response that did occur. I started cooking again with recipes from Upgraded Chef and a few from Practical Paleo. I had some ginger tea and tightened my supplement regimen including Upgraded Glutathione. My cognitive engine started to roar once again. 


It was only then that I realized that a key part of my success before the Thanksgiving disaster was the Bulletproof Vibe. Every time I use the shaking sensation I feel "good" when I step off the plate after a 10 to 15 minute session. A nice tingly feeling and a little more alertness. Either the effect, or my awareness of it always fades quickly though. I hadn't thought much about it and hadn't attributed much of my success to it. Which is why I hadn't bothered with it durring the initial recovery from my Thanksgiving disaster.


It's not a double-blind, controlled study. Heck, there's about 10,000 variables I'm not controlling for. I imagine the affect is reduced inflammation attributed to the lymphatic drainage stimulated by the vibration. Whatever it is, I lost 8" off my waist and dropped about 10 pounds and seem to have turned on the other 90% of my brain. How much of it is the bulletproof diet, avoiding food sensitivities or standing on a vibrator for 15 minutes a day I'm not sure I want to bother finding out. 


I am convinced that I've found a way to cheat at the game of life. I considered myself to be a pretty smart guy before I started on my long bulletproof journey. I did manage marginal success in a technical career at least. Now, I feel like I've doubled my cognitive ability. Suddenly I'm seeing all of those "crazy ideas" I've always had in a different light. Before I would squint and see an opportunity. Now I'm seeing the opportunity, four different ways to grasp it and getting it in motion in an afternoon. Look out! I'm either tilting at windmills or my wind is about to blow some major change into town. 


A Quantified Quickview


Oct 31 - Nov 2 - Business trip to California, pretty bulletproof, taste of feeling bulletproof, no taste of Chipotle on this busy trip. I ate lots of US Wellness Pemmican and sockeye salmon.

Nov 3th - First weight measurement since leaving for the trip, Daughters 3rd birthday party hosted at home, I eat "bulletproof" chipotle for dinner instead of wheat-filled party food @209.3 (First time under 210lbs I can remember since high school)

Nov 4th -  Wife at baby shower, take kids to Chipotle for dinner @213lbs ( +4lbs? Stress and drinking at party, Chipotle for dinner two nights in a row?)

Nov 10th - I've been eating "well", but also hungry often. Too busy to eat. Tax Season cometh! Decide to start cooking/eating completely bulletproof @208.8lbs 

Nov 13th - Feeling truly Bulletproof for the first time ever @ 208.8lbs

Nov 17th - Fun activities with the family @210.1lbs (+lbs stress finishing up work before big trip?)

Nov 18th - night time weight measurement @213lbs ( Stressed about departure early next morning. 1.5 hours of driving to make a QS Meetup in Denton fairly late)

Nov 19th - 3AM Departure on road trip from Dallas -> Atlanta (no weight measured)

Nov 24th - Returned home after trip ending in ~18hr drive @216lbs (Now who's an Angry Whopper!)

Dec 14th - Trying really hard! Still not feeling truly bulletproof @ 209lbs

Dec 20th - Spent $55.45 on Chipotle burritos for office pot-luck so I would have "bulletproof" option. @210.2lbs

Dec 21st - Ate my last Chipotle meal. My 243rd non-cash Chipotle purchase since June 2009 (thanks Mint.com!) @210.1

Dec 27 - Going all bulletproof dietarily. Dust off the Upgraded Chef book. @ 211.5lbs

Dec 30 - Realized I need to use BP Vibe. Started 5-15 minute sessions nearly every day @ 211.4

Dec 31 - NYE @ 211.6lbs (ate no-chili lamb chili for dinner. Ate about 8 amazing home made irish chips (potatoes, salt, vinegar deep fried). Had about 4oz potato vodka and 1 2-finger Jameson in bed at 3AM) 

Jan 1 - Some "digestive reactions" to [vodka|lunch out|irish chips] @ 207.7lbs measured in the afternoon

Jan 2 - @ 208lbs (Spend a lot of time in the kitchen, slow start getting to work, work goes okay, feeling great)

Jan 3 - 5 @ 207lbs ( Still adjusting to cooking, driving wife nuts in the kitchen, mind is on fire, unparalleled progress at work, lights turning on all aspects of life, writing enjoyable and seems high quality)


Care to help me make this pretty? @billschuller 



* Seriously, I recently ate 12 of 13 consecutive non-breakfast meals at Chipotle. It was not out of the ordinary to eat both lunch and dinner there for a while. No, I was not on the "Chipotle diet", but they have organic food that tastes good when I was not going through the "trouble" of cooking. My kids also love it making it pretty much the only place where we could all get a meal together.

Very uncontrolled, unintended study on cognitive effect of MCT oil supplementation in 5 year old boy

posted Dec 13, 2012, 7:52 PM by Bill Schuller   [ updated Jan 7, 2013, 8:34 PM ]

As part of the standard kindergarden curriculum in the public school my son attends, he is assigned two books to read each night. One book is chosen by the teacher and he reads it with a group at school and again to us at home. The second book is referred to as "self-selected reading". Luka can choose for himself any book he wishes from a curated selection of age appropriate material. He can currently select from any of 10 reading levels rated from A (easiest) to J (hardest).

When my family and I returned from Thanksgiving break, I began adding 1/4tsp MCT oil to both of my kids standard supplement regimen of 1/4tsp Probiotic Ultra Blend, 1/2tsp Vitamin D3 and 2 Nordic Naturals DHA capsules (beyond time to up it to 4!). I've since upped the MCT to 1/2tsp, easing them into it. I had been on a mission to get my kids eating more fat in the morning rather than the "all gulcose all the time" standards of whole grain cereal, whole grain waffles or whole grain toast. I was appalled after discovering how exactly wheat affects the body while reading Wheatbelly by William Davis. Sending my kids to school with their poor little bodys fighting hyperglycemia instead of putting slow burning energy to use forming new synaptic pathways now feels like negligence to me.

The results are not controlled at all. In fact, I know that I had without any association been encouraging Luka to challenge himself with higher level reading. His abilities have also progressed naturally as a part of his schooling. I would never go so far to say that MCT oil was the only cause for Luka's selection of more challenging reading material. However, while reviewing the log he keeps of his reading selections, I was surprised to find a strong correlation. The first week back from Thanksgiving break was November 26th, the same week Luka first selected a Level E book. Since then he has not selected anything less challenging than a Level F book. While it's entirely irrelevant, I'm tempted to do the statistics... 


Self Selected Reading Log showing more challenging reading selections over time


Measuring Cognative Function

posted Dec 13, 2012, 1:38 PM by Bill Schuller

I am starting to see four axis for measuring connotative function.

Speed - Inverse of the delay in recall in serial thought flow. When I have good speed, my thoughts are flowing easily.
Control - The ability to maintain the correct speed. Slow down if needed to explore other forks. I often feel overwhelmed when my thoughts are flowing too fast and I observe parallel threads backtracking to look for missed forks. Maybe this is a crude form of speed regulation? It has a negative association for me.
Breadth - How well relevant associated thoughts are being recalled in the context of the current flow. When I have good breadth, related thoughts come into play easily and I draw surprising correlations between disparate entities.
Clarity - Cognitive Awareness. I'm lacking some clarity of thought on this, which is what prompted the impromptu development of this model. It's "fog". Even if I'm thinking very quickly with excellent correlation of related thoughts and do not feel like I'm careening out of control, I still am not sure "where I am", or is it "where I'm going".?


Stream of consciousness:

What is this watchdog process that keeps saying "stop thinking about that, you're going to hurt yourself!". Often it is more to the tune of "yes, this is very interesting, but think about it later" where "later" is a pointer to "some time in the indefinite future if your remember to think about it at all again".

This had me thinking the other day about the practice of writing down "great" ideas. I came to the interim conclusion that great ideas are really as the saying goes a dime a dozen. What I am actually aiming for is not better ideas, but better recall of those "great" ideas when they become contextually relevant. More importantly, as most of those ideas are already in a notebook beside at least 42 beds other than mine, I would like to recall _all_ of the contextually relevant great ideas, weigh them against each other and mash them up. Begs the question: If writing something down is a way for our brain to externalize that cognitive "actor", does it weaken the recall of that idea? This obviously contradicts research proving that writing reenforces recall, i.e. taking notes. However, this is in the input->filter->output->input loop involved in taking notes (hearing -> listening -> writing -> reading) different? Jotting down an idea follows a flow similar to filter->output->input. Is jotting a quick sentence or fragment enough to increase recall, or does my brain assume that there is a "backup" so it de-prioritizes maintaining the primary storage? Is moving an actor from the stage onto paper expanding your "RAM" for working with a current idea? Does it affect the "flash" memory stored more permanently?

Obviously I need some more reading in the neuroscience area. Also need to look at the literature on measuring cognitive function. Quite a bit of this thinking references Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long. It's a good read.


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