I grew up differently than everyone else. We didn’t call housework “chores.” Housework was referred to as “You do this right now or I’m going to bust your butt, mister!” We didn’t call punishments “demerits.” We had “Go out there and cut me a hickory switch! If it’s not good enough I’ll make you get another one! Then I’ll make you wish you got a good one the first time!” Long, but effective!
Fast forward a few years to me between my freshman and sophomore years in high school. I got the opportunity to go to a summer camp with the Upward Bound program. The first few days I felt like I had went to a foreign country. The counselors used terms like “chores” and “demerits.” There was an imposed curfew, lights out and bed time. If I had stayed at home that summer I could have stayed up all night long if I had wanted to. This was an interesting change to my lifestyle from home.
Fast forward to August 13, 2016. I have been on this bariatric diet for two weeks now. I think I have been doing a fantastic job. Have I lost any weight? I don’t know. Have I cheated? Oh, absolutely! We all do when we’re dieting, right? Right? You had better have answered YES to that! However, there is a night and day difference between what I was eating and what I am eating now. I haven’t raided the vending machine in two weeks. Okay, I went one time because I didn’t bring enough food for my 10 hour shift at work. I got beef jerky. Then I realized how much sodium was in one package. I won’t be doing that again!
I have finally realized, truly realized, that there is nothing in that vending machine that is even remotely healthy. Not even the granola bars. Just because it is a healthier option doesn’t mean it is a good option. That machine haunts me! I can hear it calling me from my desk. When I am sitting in the break room during my lunch break eating a salad I hear it calling me.
“Andy! Andy! Andy! Come and get some Ruffles! Just think about how good they will taste! Don’t stop at one bag! You know one bag isn’t going to be enough to satisfy your craving!”
I stare at it. I look at each and every item thinking: “Would that really be that bad?” Then I stop myself. “YES! Andy! YES! It would be!” I really want some Ruffles Cheddar and Sour Cream chips. I want them with sour cream and onion dip. I want an entire family size bag and tub all to myself! I can’t though! Not even one chip!
I went to the grocery store three times last week. I had the hardest time shopping. Prior to starting this diet I had gotten into a bad habit of buying freezer meals. At the time I didn’t think I was buying terribly unhealthy food. It was either something from Trader Joe’s (they have an absolutely amazingly delicious selection of frozen Asian food) or the organic section of Fred Meyer. After starting this diet I REALLY got to looking at the sodium, fat and carbohydrates in the nutrition facts. It was shocking!
This diet truly is a lifestyle change. If I am going to have bariatric weight loss surgery, I have got to make it a permanent change. Going out to eat will be happening a lot less. Preparing food at home will be happening a lot more. It’s a good thing my partner and I love to cook (we just wish we had more time to do it … and a cleaner kitchen to do it in)! It’s one of the hardest lifestyle changes I have had to make. Even harder than getting used to being away from home at summer camp. At least with summer camp I knew there would be a time when I would get to go back home and resume my normal life. I can’t ever go back to my previous eating habits! Maybe I need someone to beat me when I eat the wrong things? We’ve got plenty of bamboo canes!
Even going through the grocery store is a new battle. Even if you stay on the outside perimeter of the store. Every aisle I go down I see everything differently. I don’t see what they’re trying to sell me. I see one of the following: carbs, sugar, fat, sodium. Canned soup? No, it’s canned liquid salt. Suddenly Salad anyone? How about Suddenly Fat! I think not!
One would think that they could order a tuna sandwich from Jimmy John’s, right? That sounds healthy. OH NO! 1,700 mg of sodium. I had no idea it was a salt lick. Maybe that’s why it is so good? I won’t even talk about the carbs! 2,414 mg in the Italian Night Club (my personal favorite). 3,534 mg in the Gargantuan. How did I or anyone else not instantly die after eating the Gargantuan? Goodbye Jimmy John’s. I will miss you!
I still have a long way to go before I am eating right! I am doing good right now, but it could be a whole lot better. I am eating better foods, but I still need to work on portion size. An omelet recipe in the South Beach diet cookbook calls for 3 eggs. Says that it serves 2 people. Mind boggling! I used to eat 3 eggs in my own personal omelet. I need to focus on eating while I am eating. We still sit in front of the television for dinner. Perhaps it’s time to go get the table cleared off once and for good!
I just wish these cravings would go away! I am really wanting a pizza from Costco right now. I want to go out for Mexican food! I want Chinese food! Jesus, take the wheel!
NOTE: In regards to the first paragraph. I was spanked for misbehaving, but it was not abuse. It was included as a humorous way to tie in other thoughts in this entry.
Apparently, I have decided to have weight loss surgery (WLS). For years, I have railed against the idea of having WLS. I have been frightened by the thought of having WLS. I always thought I could lose the weight on my own. I have always thought WLS was for the super morbidly obese. News flash, Andy. You weigh 425 lbs. You ARE super morbidly obese!
I am 30. I will soon be 31. Tick tock. Time is running out. I want to lose weight. I want to enjoy my 30s! I can’t in my current condition. I want to be able to climb the stairs, hike the trails, take the spectacular photos that I can’t take right now because my weight hinders me from being upwardly mobile.
My health is rapidly declining. Last year I found myself in the hospital diagnosed with blood clots. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. I developed a hernia a few months ago that has further hindered my mobility. I am extremely fortunate that I don’t have diabetes! I really don’t want to wind up with anymore special conditions!
Two of my good friends who also happen to be coworkers have been positive influences in my decision. I have witnessed their amazing transformation. Not just in their size, but in their mindset. They are more determined, more outgoing and happier!
Two months ago I started on this journey. A couple of weeks apart from each other I attended two WLS seminars. One at each of the major hospitals in the area. After going to the two seminars I made my decision on which provider would be better (I went with the provider that has been doing the surgeries the longest). After the seminars I made an appointment and I met with a surgeon. The surgeon HIGHLY recommended that I have a gastric sleeve. I had initially wanted to have gastric bypass. The surgeon said that he would do it, but he really believes the sleeve would be better. He said that due to my size, it would be much riskier to do a gastric bypass. From what I gather, more surgeons are highly recommending the gastric sleeve now. So the current plan is to do the sleeve, but we do have some time to change our minds.
Since I don’t have $30,000 to pay for the surgery out-of-pocket, I do have to go through insurance. My insurance company requires that I go through a 6-month doctor supervised diet. Two days ago I had my first appointment with a dietician. I will be following the South Beach diet plan. I am well equipped. My wonderful sister-in-law bought me a stack of South Beach diet books. They are full of valuable information. In addition my dietician provided me with meal plans.
Another requirement of my insurance company is that I go through a psychological evaluation. I did that yesterday. While I won’t tell you the results of that test (because it will probably show that I am crazy). I will tell you that if you are planning on having the surgery, be prepared. It was a 3 hour long session at a psychologist’s office doing testing and discussing my entire life history with a psychologist. Not an ideal way to get your day started!
In a couple of days I have to go to the hospital to have an upper GI tract X-ray. It’s a good thing that I liked to eat chalk when I was a kid!
I am going full on with the South Beach diet on Monday morning. It’s going to be hard for me. I don’t think it’s going to be hard to give things up. I think the biggest problem I am going to have is preparing fresh food. I have relied on ready to go meals too much lately.
It’s definitely going to be a long and quite possibly a difficult journey. I want you with me for it. I have been wanting to get back into blogging for a few years now. Perhaps this is the best reason to make myself do it! Please excuse the default WordPress theme. I plan something much better! Please, watch this space! Thank you!
Edit 8/13/16: Before I published this I forgot that when I was in the hospital last year I weighed 464 lbs. I don’t know if that is my heaviest weight, but it is the heaviest weight I have ever had recorded.
This post is in response to me thinking that people may be wondering how to use Chocolately, as discussed in “Getting Started with Chocolatey”, to install applications to a remote Windows 7, 8 or 10 computer.
The quickest solution is to utilize PsExec’s remote command prompt feature.
If you are in a workgroup environment rather than a domain environment you will most likely need to make a registry modification in order to be able to connect to a remote computer using PsExec.
Note: All registry edits should be performed with care. A backup of the registry is highly recommended before performing any registry edits.
Navigate to the following location in the Windows registry:HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Current Version\Policies\System
• Right click.
• Choose New -> DWORD (32-bit) value.
• Change of the name of the newly created key to: LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy
• Double click on the newly created key and change the value to: 1
Modifying the above registry setting allows full credentials to be passed between the local and the remote computers in a workgroup environment. I do not have access to a domain environment where I can test whether this registry modification is necessary in a domain environment or not. Please feel free to comment if you have the answer to this.
If you do not already have PsExec installed onto your own computer you can easily do so via Chocolatey using the following command: choco install sysinternals -y
Once you have installed the Windows Sysinternals suite you can open an admin command prompt and enter the following command: psexec \\REMOTECOMPUTERNAME cmd
If this is your first use of PsExec you will be prompted to accept the license agreement.
If your local credentials match the credentials of an account on the remote computer that has administrator credentials you should be connected without any problems. If your local account is different than your account on the remote computer that has administrator credentials you will have to enter a different command to connect remotely: psexec \\REMOTECOMPUTERNAME -u USERNAME cmd
If PsExec is able to successfully connect to the remote computer you should be prompted for the password of the user account that you specified. If the remote logon is successful you will be taken to a remote command prompt. You can issue the same commands here as if you were sitting directly in front of the computer. You can use this to install software via Chocolatey as discussed in the previous post.
To confirm that you are on another computer you can issue the command hostname
When you have finished you can enter exit and you will be returned to your local command prompt.
What is Chocolatey and why would I want to use it?
Chocolate: “A typically sweet, usually brown, food preparation of Theobroma cacao seeds, roasted and ground, often flavored, as with vanilla. It is made in the form of a liquid, paste, or in a block, or used as a flavoring ingredient in other foods.” – Entry for Chocolate on Wikipedia
If you read my previous article you probably think I really do hate Windows Phone 8.1, but I don’t. In fact, I actually love it. I think it is one of the most compelling mobile operating systems that I have ever used. It’s definitely not without its flaws, but please allow me to tell you why I think more people should give it a chance.
The operating system is extremely customizable, but there is a limit. That limit is where I get frustrated.
Example 1, Transparent Tiles: Finally, you have the ability to add a background image to your Start screen. This option makes many of the icons on the Start screen transparent so that you can see through to your background image. However, not all application icons become transparent. You’re left with that Fisher Price look we’ve become familiar with from Microsoft, from the Windows XP and the Windows 8.1 desktop operating systems. I personally want all of the icons to be transparent so the background image can shine through. Microsoft isn’t entirely to blame for this. They give developers the option to include transparent tile images for their applications. More developers are, but there are some that seem extremely stubborn in releasing a transparent icon for their application. They demand that their icon stand out like a sore thumb among all of the other beautiful transparent tiles. It is usually the social network sites that INSIST on this.
Example 2, Live Tiles: Simple live tiles that alert me to the number of unread messages or missed calls, I am fine with those. However, I absolutely hate live tiles that cycle through an entire news feed. I hate looking at my Start screen with the desire to scream “SHOW ME THE MONEY” as if it were a slot machine. There is one exception to this frustration. I am fine with the stock weather app cycling through the weather report. I keep it at the bottom of the Start screen, below all of the beautiful transparent tiles. I can’t keep all of the blinky, blinky apps at the bottom of the Start screen though. Ok, yes, technically I could, but that would look terrible and be terrible from a usability perspective. Again, this isn’t entirely Microsoft’s fault. They do give developers the ability to allow users to turn off their application’s live tile. It seems as though some application developers think their content is so important it must stare me in the face as soon as I unlock my phone! There are some media outlets, I’m looking at you CNET, that insist on having constantly updated information on their tile, no matter how small you make the tile.
Feed Resiliency and OS Navigation
Windows Phone 8.1 is ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE at remembering where you were on the previous page when you hit the back button. The best example of this is the Facebook application (which is developed by Microsoft because Facebook doesn’t believe in the Windows Phone platform). As I am scrolling through my news feed I will inevitably come across a link that a friend or a news outlet has posted. I will click the link and read the article. When I press the back button to go back to Facebook and my news feed I expect to be able to pick up where I left off. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask for, does it? Well, I guess it is because I am instead taken ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE TOP OF MY NEWS FEED. That is like having to start reading a traditional newspaper from the front page after you’ve read an article! This is, quite possibly, my biggest problem with the operating system. It is one of the most frustrating problems because it affects me constantly. The good news is that there are some applications that are good at remembering where you were. Not all of them make me want to bang the phone on sharp objects and run it over with my car!
Side note: While I do have major gripes about the Facebook application that the Microsoft team is developing. I have to also thank them for stepping up where Facebook won’t.
When I am finally ready to be taken back to the top of the page I am on, there is not a universal gesture for returning to the top. Most mobile operating systems allow you to double tap the top of the screen to return to the page you’re on, but not Windows Phone OS. If the application developer hasn’t added a method for returning to the top in their application you will be doing a lot of scrolling to get back to the top, refreshing the page or closing and re-opening the application you’re in.
There are some sections of the operating system that provide you with a quick way to jump down the page to the section you need to get to. Example: From the Start screen you can select a letter and then select the first letter of the application you’re trying to get to. Tapping the letter ‘S’ allows you to get to the applications that start with the letter ‘S’ very quickly. Unfortunately, not all applications provide this feature. Looking through long lists of folders in the Windows Phone Mail client, this feature would be extremely useful. This must be an easy feature to add, but I don’t know why Microsoft didn’t add it wherever they could in their own applications.
Limited Network Share Support
I hate that I have to install a third party application to access network shares on a Windows Server from my Windows Phone. I guess their intention is for you to store everything on OneDrive? I would love to have my favorite home network shares automatically mount on my phone when I connect to my home network’s wireless access point. I am sure that is asking for way too much! I won’t hold my breath waiting for that wishlist item!
For years, I have been able to watch a plethora of media file types across my home network by simply mapping to the share. Rarely, have I ever had to copy the file down to my device to watch the file. However, many file types that are supported by Windows Phone simply will not play unless you copy them to your device. It seems as though iOS and Android are better at buffering the data stream from server to device than Windows Phone is. WMV files that I attempted to stream to my Windows Phone were the worst. I would get a few seconds of video, playback would begin to buffer, but playback would never resume. This was not a problem from Android or iOS (with the same .wmv file).
How the **** Do I Copy and Paste Text?
It was the season for shipping and receiving when I first started testing Windows Phone OS. My inbox was full of tracking numbers. I wanted to copy and paste these tracking numbers from the mail client into the tracking application. One would think that you could simply tap, double tap or simply hold your finger on the area you want to select to get a highlighter to appear, but one would be wrong! In the Windows Phone Mail client you have to hit the reply button in order to copy and paste text from an email message. Thankfully, in other applications such as Internet Explorer, copy and paste doesn’t appear to be so frustrating.
Lack of Default Stock Applications
I am sure by now all of you have seen the image where someone has laid out all of the devices that a modern mobile phone has replaced. Microsoft forgot to include a few items from that image: Compass, level, world clock, voice recorder, stop watch and a note pad. I can deal with the omission of a compass because there is a stock map application. Also, the Lumia 635 does not have a built-in compass. I can deal with the omission of a level, but it is still a nice feature to have. It is great when you don’t have a spirit/bubble level handy when taking pictures. I think a world clock, stop watch and alarm should be combined into one application. Yes, the phone does include Microsoft OneNote for notes, but I hate it. I guess I am simply one of those people that “doesn’t get it.” Perhaps if I took a class and learned how to use it and all of its features I would learn to love it. However, all I really want is an application that allows me to take quick notes and have those notes sync across all of my devices via OneDrive. It took a few days to get all of these features onto my phone. Microsoft does provide applications for some of these features, but you have to hunt for them in the Store.
Lack of Security Applications
There does not appear to be a built-in mechanism for scanning for viruses. It doesn’t appear as though there are any reputable solutions in the Store either. Being a Windows OS based device, I would think it would be a necessity. This seems like the perfect opportunity for Microsoft to release a version of Windows Defender for Windows Phone.
The OS also does not provide any security for your SD card. Anyone can pull the card from your device and access the contents. There are no options for encrypting the data on your card.
After a few days of having the device I noticed that in the Wi-Fi Sense application the option for “Connect to Wi-Fi hotspots” was on by default. I would love it if we lived in a world where everyone who has an open WiFi access point had good intentions, but we don’t. I highly recommend turning this off. You’re phone will still automatically connect to the networks you intentionally connect to (i.e. your home network.
Speaking of security. One of my goals for 2015 is to be more secure. To do that I intend on utilizing a VPN while using public WiFi. According to Microsoft the Windows Phone VPN client supports IKEv2 or L2TP with IPSec. I attempted to create a VPN using Windows Server, which should support IKEv2, but I was never successful in getting the Windows Phone to connect to the VPN server. I won’t blame anyone but myself for this. I’m sure I just need to learn more about it. Unfortunately, despite all of the documentation that states the option for “L2TP with IPSec” should be an option, it is not.
You have tasks to complete, but Cortana won’t tell you about them.
First, I find it completely absurd that tasks are hiding under the calendar. Once you are in the calendar application you click on the “…” menu and then click on tasks to access them. I feel as though tasks should be its own application.
Second, you can add tasks all day long. However, if you ask Cortana what tasks you have, she won’t see any at all. If you ask Cortana to remind you to do something at some point during the day she will gladly create a calendar reminder and you will be reminded. Tasks though, they don’t seem to be relevant in Cortana’s world.
Miracast Is The Way Of The Future
If you have a TV, gaming console or some other set-top box equipped with Miracast you can stream content to those devices from Windows Phone. Supposedly. I don’t have any Miracast devices in the house to test this feature with.
I did play with the “Project My Screen App” app to mirror my phone’s display to a Windows desktop. Unfortunately, I was only able to get it to work while having the phone tethered to a computer via USB cable. I can see a lot of uses for this feature (especially in the classroom).
I am disappointed that DLNA devices are not supported for streaming content to. Since Windows 7 the “Play To” feature has been equipped with the ability to stream content to DLNA certified devices. It is sad to see that this was not included in Windows Phone.
One would think that Microsoft could simply allow a Windows PC to act as a projector for a Windows Phone, but no.
USB on the Go Is Not Available
I would love to be able to connect a USB on the Go cable to my Windows Phone so I can connect a card reader or a USB flash drive. There are many uses for this. Sometimes you simply don’t have access to a computer or a WiFi connection. I have had the occasion where someone has handed me a USB flash drive and I am not able to view the files until I get home. USB on the Go would solve this problem. I could connect the flash drive and provided that it wouldn’t take too long I could upload the files to OneDrive and hand the drive back to its owner. USB on the Go cables are supported on Windows 8.1, so I don’t understand why this feature was stripped from the mobile operating system. I can’t see it taking up that much space.
I, like Steve Jobs, HATE Adobe Flash
Browsing websites on my iPhone I got spoiled by not having random audio coming from some hidden location in a webpage. Flash simply wasn’t supported in iOS. When clicking a YouTube video link the MP4 version was streamed instead. In a separate application with accessible controls. It was a beautiful thing. Now, like on the desktop, I have to fight the myriad of flash popups and banners. Flash videos play automatically and inside the browser windows. Some of the players built into the webpage are absolutely atrocious. You can barely access their controls because they weren’t built for mobile clients.
Speaking of YouTube. The stock YouTube application is terrible. Absolutely awful. It is simply a wrapper application that utilizes Internet Explorer. Look for a third party client for a better YouTube experience.
Check Your Backup Settings
This is just a personal preference, but if you look at the backup settings, by default photos and videos are only set to upload a “Good quality” version. I personally prefer to wait until I am on WiFi to allow pictures and videos to be backed up so that the “Best quality” version will be uploaded. I would rather have the peace of mind of knowing that the full resolution version has been backed up instead of a lower quality version.
I also highly recommend enabling the settings and application backup to the cloud.
Where the **** is the Lumia Denim Update?
The Lumia Denim update was announced several months ago. Since that time several Lumia devices have started to receive the update. Unlike Apple, Microsoft is not rolling out the update to all of the Lumia handsets at once. Instead, they are rolling it out to a few devices at a time. Unfortunately, when you have a ton of different devices to support, it is much harder to roll out a software update to all of those devices. This is something I will have to get use to on this platform.
OneDrive.com is TERRIBLE
I could write an entire blog entry about why I think OneDrive.com is terrible, but I don’t want to induce a heart attack. I hate comparing everything in Windows Phone OS to my experience with Apple iOS, but seriously, iCloud.com is phenomenal. Don’t get me wrong! There are a ton of features I would love to see implemented on iCloud.com, but compared to OneDrive.com, Apple got it right! Microsoft has some SERIOUS work to do with OneDrive.com! For a start, why must everything load in a separate window?
Having an online component, that works beautifully, allows users to manage their information much more easily and from any location, from any device, without having to install any software. iCloud.com is beautiful and each application available on the site is essentially a replica of the mobile client. Sometimes you don’t want to tap data into your phone or your tablet. Sometimes you want to sit at your computer to update your contacts or calendar items. Not everyone wants to use Microsoft Outlook. You won’t always be on your home computer.
While OneDrive.com does provide the same functionality as iCloud.com, I very seriously hope Microsoft invests some money into improving it.
Lack of Applications and Hardware Accessories
When I first started investigating the possibility of switching to Windows Phone, one of the biggest complaints I heard from other users is that there is a major lack of applications. While yes, I have found that there are a lot of companies that I would like to see applications from, I have been able to find applications from third parties to get me by. Sometimes the applications from the third parties are better than the application I had experience with on iOS or Android.
The lack of applications is not the fault of Microsoft. As I mentioned earlier in this article, Microsoft is developing a Facebook application on their own. Facebook has released one Windows Phone application for Messenger. They could VERY EASILY release an application for Facebook. Google has released one application for Windows Phone. It only provides one feature, searching Google. Yes, there is voice support, but nothing more. Why bother when asking Cortana is faster? I wish they would develop their own Google+ client for Windows Phone!
Windows Phone adoption is on the rise thanks to Microsoft introducing low-cost smartphones. This trend will only continue. Hopefully, at some point in the near future, these companies will see the benefits of offering their services to Windows Phone users. Microsoft, on the other hand, has been trying to get their applications and services into as many user’s hands as possible. Whether they are using iOS or Android devices.
During my conversion to Windows Phone I had to look for suitable replacements for applications that I used on iOS. On iOS I used a lot of remote applications to control playback on my media center PC. Apple has a good one for iTunes. Thankfully, there is a good one available for VLC Media Player on Windows Phone. Unfortunately, I don’t see the same type of application from Microsoft for Windows Media Center, Xbox Music or Xbox Videos.
It is amazing how many add-on devices you can get for an iPhone these days. There are add-on camera lenses that allow you to take 360° photos and videos. There are meters, readers and all kinds of measurement add-on devices that you can get. Unfortunately, I fear it will be a very long time before any Windows Phone enjoys these same wonderful accessories. Thankfully, I’m hanging onto our old iPhones.