Tough Mudder Essential Gear, Training and Preparation

Posted by matt on July 13, 2011 at 1:15 am

So in a little more than a week, I am competing in the Tough Mudder Wisconsin 2011 event, which is an obstacle course designed by British Special Forces.  I’m not exactly sure why I’m doing this… it turned out to be more of a dare than anything, but a team of 4 of us will be working our way through this crazy, 10-mile course with 25 obstacles with names such as “Devil’s Beard”, “Kiss of Mud” and “Electroshock Therapy”… At the end of the race you get free beer and free tattoos (?!)  Click below for an interactive map of what we’ll be in for:

Tough Mudder Course

My prep work for this event was doing p90x, replacing most of the cardio with simple 4-5 mile running workouts.  This was going fairly well for the first 6 weeks, until the wheels fell off and for the last 4-weeks or so I’ve definitely be slacking… this may prove disasterous race day, but the point is not to get through quickly, but to survive the event.  Maybe it is more bad-ass to do this unprepared?

Because this isn’t some sissy marathon, the gear you require for an event like this is different as well.  My list of what I’ll be using:

  • Shirt: don’t have this specific one, but you can’t go wrong with this.  Duh!
  • Shoes: Will likely wear an old pair of running shoes, or my old Merrell’s.  I’ve heard Vibram’s work well too, but too weird for me. Whatever you use, it’s going to get trashed.
  • Shorts: Since this is a summer event, shorts are obviously what we’ll all be wearing.  Go retro with Umbros!
  • Gloves: not sure I’ll wear them the whole time, but you are doing enough grappling that gloves should come in handy.  Peal Izumi have good fingerless ones that will get wet, but hopefully still have some grip.
  • Camera: I’m a photographer, so of course, I need to capture the action.  No DSLR or standard point-n-shoot here. I just got the Olympus Stylus Tough 6020, so should be able to hold up.  It shoots 720p video, so should be good for some laughs as well.  Waterproof, shockproof.
  • Flask: It’s a long event, but there are aid stations, so I’m not carrying a camelback… but a flask will come in handy.   It’s less than $5!  Big question is what to put in it… Jaegermeister?  Red Bull Vodka? Both? (that’s a Jaeger Bomb, by the way).

So excited and scared for this event.  I haven’t ran more than 5 miles until the training for this, and I haven’t ran 10 miles in over 20 years….  either way, it should be quite an adventure.  Check this video from a recent event to see what it is really all about.  Good luck to those of you participating, and remember to work together!

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Take a photo-a-day, EVERYDAY for a year!

Posted by matt on January 10, 2011 at 1:04 am

Matt Apps Photo-a-day 2011It goes by many names (photo-a-day, PAD, Project 365, etc.), but attempting to ‘make’ a picture every day for a year is anything but an easy task.  I’ve been intrigued by other photographers who have done this, so one of my new year’s resolutions for myself was to give it a shot.  Nine-days in, I can tell you it is challenging, but fun.

Follow my progress here:

A little about my process and rules:

  1. The photo MUST be taken on the exact day – While I may go out and shoot 10 solid pictures in a given day, I can only post ONE of those on the day I shot it.   Tomorrow I must shoot another one… A bit of a loop-hole would be that if I shoot a band starting at 11PM, and shoot the band past midnight, I could technically have 2 pictures from the same event that I could submit.  Note that my first day’s picture was from quite early in the morning…
  2. The photo SHOULD be posted on the day I take it – I’m giving myself a little leeway here, as it may not be possible to easily post the picture I shot that day, but I will make a strong attempt to do so.  I will post the image to my new photography website with links from Twitter, Facebook, and a copy to my Flickr too!

I’m thinking one of my biggest challenges will be to attempt to stay creative throughout this process.  I’ve found that in the dead of winter, the pictures can be tough to make, but I have my son, Ian (who is already in 3 of the 9 pictures I shot) as well as my goofy dog, Pepe that will help me get through the winter. Still, working full-time does limit the time allowed to shoot the pictures.

As for gear used to shoot the PAD, my preferred order of what I use:

  1. Canon 7D – I have numerous lenses, flashes, etc. so this is definitely my preferred method of shooting to keep the image quality high
  2. Canon s95 – I will literally keep this camera with me at all times.  It gives me manual control, and takes pretty darn good pictures for a point-and-shoot.
  3. HTC Evo – My phone is a last resort, but with an 8MP camera, it takes pretty good pictures (for a phone).  Retro Camera is a lifesaver–that android app rules!

Why do this?

  • The main goals are to keep me shooting, and thinking. Being on the hook to make a picture every day, you can maybe have a few ideas ‘in reserve’, but you really need to observe your surroundings and quickly identify and capture an idea.  I’m excited to see what I’ll do when ‘forced’ to take pictures.
  • After doing this for a year, you have quite a body of work and a historical representation of 2011.  That’s pretty cool to look back on, in that you can see EVERY day where and what you did.

If you’ve thought about it, I definitely encourage you to try it, if even for just a week or a month. I hope I can keep it going for the year!

If you’d like to follow my progress, simply check this main link where the photos will be posted:

Good luck, and happy shooting!

Posted under how to, photos

Boxee Box in-depth Review: a $200 powerhouse

Posted by matt on November 14, 2010 at 8:08 pm

Boxee Box in the HandThe highly anticipated release of the Boxee Box is finally upon us!  Since its debut at CES in January 2010, the thought of a relatively cheap consumer electronics device that could take the place of a typical media PC was indeed attractive.  While most likely initially targeted at those already quite familiar with the Boxee (or XBMC) interface, it is likely the sub-$200 device will bring an entire new market of casual over-the-top video users into the foray. This review will go through installation and use of many of the screens and local media types.

If you find this review helpful and wish to buy the Boxee box, please do so via this Amazon link to help support this site.  Thanks!

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Posted under boxee, reviews, tech gadgets, Unbox

Top 50 Android Apps for the HTC Evo 4G

Posted by matt on July 23, 2010 at 2:06 pm

HTC Evo 4G Top Android AppsAfter having the HTC Evo 4G for just over a month, thought I would spill the beans on all the Apps I’ve been using (afterall, Apps is my name…)  While these will likely work on most Android phones, they are all ones I use on the HTC Evo.  Since there are so many good apps, I’m also going to skip the super-obvious ones, like the Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, etc. apps. If you use those, just get the official one.  (I do use Peep for Twitter though).

First off, i’m a big believer in the ‘teach a man to fish’ philosophy, so one of the first Apps you should get is the AppBrain App Market. I typically use this in place of the ‘Market’ app, as it has what is popular in the last 24 hours, week, etc., and is a nice way to see what good new Apps are available.

Best part about all these apps?  They are all FREE, (unless where noted).  Many do have ads, so if that drives you nuts or you simply want to support the author, grab the paid version (usually just a couple of bucks).  The easiest way to get them is to simply look up the name below in either Market or in AppBrain and then download from there or click the name to get more info on each one.

Also, the ‘Showoff’ column is useful if you want to show someone the power of what your phone can do.

Finally, if you have the EVO, you should do yourself a favor and GET YOURSELF THE EXTENDED BATTERY.  I’ve had this for awhile, and you can heavily use your phone without worrying about it dying at the end of each day!  It’s the best ~$50 you’ll spend.

Note, this is dated 7/23/2010 and are my favorites from around that time.  Without further ado, the list sorted alphabetically:

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Posted under Android, HTC Evo, reviews, tech gadgets, top 10 lists

Gadget Review: EOS Canon 7D

Posted by matt on November 11, 2009 at 11:11 pm

canon-eos-7d-small.jpgAfter spending a few weeks with the Canon 7D, I decided to put together my mini-review of the camera.  I was able to take it to a few events, and also on a 5-day vacation to Athens, Greece where it got quite a workout.  For perspective of this review, prior to using the 7D I’ve shot 4 different versions of the Canon Rebel series, (original, XT, XTi and XSi).  My Pro’s / Con’s are mostly related to moving from the Canon Rebel XSi.

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