Archive for the ‘how to’ Category

Tough Mudder Essential Gear, Training and Preparation

Posted by matt on July 13, 2011

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!

Posted under how to, reviews

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

Posted by matt on January 10, 2011

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: mattappsphotography.com/2011-photo-a-day

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: mattappsphotography.com/2011-photo-a-day

Good luck, and happy shooting!

Posted under how to, photos

The Lost Art of Creating a Mix Tape

Posted by matt on August 12, 2009

mixtape3.jpgIn the land of multi-terrabyte hard drives, iPods, MP3′s and ‘infinite playlists’, the art of actually using some restrain and editing to create a cohesive, interesting representation of your musical self is an art form long lost.

On my continual quest for quality and fresh music, about twice a year I create an 80-minute mix CD of my ‘favorites’ that I’m rocking at the moment.

While I haven’t made a ‘mix tape’ since college (yes, that is an actual one of mine above), I still have a CD player in my car which is where 90% of the mix is consumed.  Some rules I follow when creating my mix:

  1. A majority of the music must be < 1 year old – While I might create a ‘best of grunge’ mix or something like that, for the most part, I want to hear new music.  The life of the CD is usually around 3-6 months until I am ready to make a new one.
  2. Genre variety – I want to hit 2-3 genres at least, but no hard and fast rules.  Just not 80 minutes of metal–the mix needs some contrast (not so true of “Ultra Mosh II” above…)
  3. No more than 3 songs from the same artist/album – If you really like an album, it forces you to pick your favorite 3.  Also, mix them up throughout the mix
  4. Fill the 80 minutes as best you can – For my mix below, it clocks in at 79:59.11.  Yes, less than 1 second to spare! (with 0 second breaks between tracks as well)
  5. Try to make the tracks ‘flow’ – This can be tough… I don’t spend hours doing this, but you typically want some contrast without abruptness
  6. Don’t repeat a song from one mix CD to the next – Yeah, that song may be your favorite, but if that’s true, try and find a re-mix.  I did that below w/ the 2 Bloc Party tracks.

While you could, of course, do this exercise with an MP3 playlist, often you wouldn’t use any harsh editing because you usually don’t have constraints (after all, an 80 min. mix encoded at 256K is only about 160MB, which most every MP3 player has at least 10-100 times that much room…)

So without further ado, here is my Summer 2009 Mix.  The first thing you might notice when reading the below is that YOU HAVEN’T HEARD OF ANY OF THESE SONGS OR BANDS.  Well, the mix is mine, so that’s your problem…  I typically try to put some indie, punk, alternative, electronica, so while you may not know them, the songs work for me (and they are good, trust me).  Own your mix, it is something that is probably truly unique to you.

Matt’s 80-minute 2009 Summer Mix: (with links to either the video or a streamable version of the song)

  1. Bloc Party – Ares (Villains Remix)
  2. Julian Plenti  – Games For Days (Paul Banks of Interpol, solo album)
  3. Röyksopp ft Robyn – The Girl & The Robot
  4. Future Of The Left – Stand By Your Manatee
  5. Flight of the Conchords – Sugalumps
  6. Does It Offend You, Yeah? – With a Heavy Heart(I Regret to Inform You)
  7. Silversun Pickups – Growing Old is Getting Old
  8. Late of The Pier – Space and The Woods
  9. The Bird and the Bee – Diamond Dave
  10. Flight of the Conchords – You don’t have to be a Prostitute
  11. The Mars Volta – Cotopaxi
  12. Sunspot – Grand Guignol
  13. Bloc Party – One Month Off (Filthy Dukes Remix)
  14. The Bird and the Bee – My Love
  15. Future of the Left – Arming Eritrea
  16. Does it Offend you, Yeah? – Attack of the 60ft Lesbian Octopus
  17. Silversun Pickups – Panic Switch
  18. Flight of the Conchords – Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor
  19. The Bird and the Bee – Polite Dance Song (this video is soooo David Lynch)
  20. Sunspot – Sweet Relief
  21. Silversun Pickups – Catch and Release

That clocks 79:59.11.  Do you still make mixes?  Favorite ones you’ve made?  Comments, baby.

Posted under how to, music, reviews

Palm Pre vs. Treo 700p with SERO Plan

Posted by matt on July 27, 2009

palmpre3.jpgWhile there have been countless comparisons of the Palm Pre to the Apple iPhone, I haven’t seen many comparing the Palm Pre to the Treo line of products (Treo 650, Treo 700p, Treo 755p, Treo Centro). There are still tens of thousands of old Sprint SERO customers on a Treo 700p (or similar) that like me, are looking to upgrade to something. The old Sprint SERO plan was at it’s peak around 2-3 years ago, so many Sprint customers are either rolling off their plans, or at a minimum, definitely ready for a new phone.

I was a Treo 700p user for 3 years with heavy use on a $30 SERO plan (upgraded later to $45 with unlim. text). For over a year of that, I also extensively used email, RSS, web, Twitter, Twitpic, Facebook, etc. I made the move from the Treo 700p to the Palm Pre in early June 2009, and decided to put together the comparison of what you have to look forward to (or what you have to give up): NOTE: this comparison was written on 7/27/09 and is based on Palm Pre WebOS v1.1

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Posted under how to, reviews, tech gadgets

40 Free Wallpapers for the Palm Pre

Posted by matt on June 25, 2009

palmpre3.jpgI’m still working on my review for the Palm Pre (I’ve had it less than a week), but in the meantime, enjoy some wallpapers I created specifically for the Palm Pre!

The images are from various trips I’ve taken the last few years and are already sized and optimized for view on the Palm Pre (320×480 resolution, appropriate sharpness, etc.).

To get these wallpapers on your Palm Pre simply:

  1. Click the file(s) you like, and when the file is loaded right-click and save to your computer.
  2. Plug your Palm Pre into the USB port of your computer and choose “USB Drive”.
  3. Once the folder opens on your computer, copy the images into the “Wallpaper” directory on your Palm Pre (you don’t have to do this, but it may be easier to find them than just copying them in the root folder).
  4. After you disconnect your Pre, go to the “Screen & Lock” application and choose “Change Wallpaper” to set your desired background!

Pretty easy as you can see.  On to the wallpapers!

30rock-320x480.jpg   alley-320x480.jpg   andrewwk-320x480.jpg   bench-320x480.jpg   broken-window320x480.jpg

burgeltz-320x480.jpg   caboarch-320x480.jpg   chrysler-320x480.jpg   cliffs-320x480.jpg   collesium-320x480.jpg

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Posted under how to, photos