Four weeks with Wii Fit

Four weeks ago I started using Wii Fit. It’s fun to play with but I also wanted to see if it could actually be a useful exercise aid. I had two goals – lose 4lb and decrease my back pain.

Well, I didn’t lose any weight at all. Not through any fault of Wii Fit I should add. I wasn’t able to do other exercise that I had planned on – and too many ice lollies. (This has been one of the driest, sunniest Mays I can remember and the ice lollies have been a necessity!) My back pain is considerably better though – both the severity and frequency have decreased.

I have used Wii Fit every morning (bar one when I overslept). I had initially hoped to do a combination of yoga, aerobic and muscle exercises every day. I quickly realised this was going to be too much though. It would take over an hour to everything I wanted and 30 minutes is the maximum time I have available on a weekday. I felt the yoga was the most important as far a my back was concerned so that is what I have mainly concentrated on. I’ve also been keen to do some abdominal exercises in a vain attempt to get a flatter tummy. (But after 3 children who am I kidding!) I manage to fit all the back stretching yoga poses and 20 jack-knives into half an hour. At weekends, since I have more time, I have also been able to do extra yoga and aerobic exercises.

Over the weeks I have of course gotten better at doing a lot of the exercises. Most of them have harder levels that are unlocked only once you reach a certain attainment. This means there is still always a challenge and for most people Wii Fit will continue to be of use for a long time after they first start working with it.

I have found myself getting a little bored with the same exercises every day. Especially knowing there are many others available but I just don’t have the time to do them all. From today I’ve changed the routine a little. Three days a week I will do muscle or aerobic exercise instead of yoga. I think it’s important to have a bit more variability to keep up interest.

For me, Wii Fit is certainly a good adjunct to an exercise plan. And it’s fun just to play with too. Although funnily enough, my children have completely lost interest. As soon as the good weather arrived they forgot about it and went outside to play instead. Quite right too!


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LaunchBar vs Spotlight

I have written previously on keyboard shortcuts that I frequently use to save time on my Mac. You can bypass the mouse even more if you use an application launcher.

Quicksilver is probably the best known and has received much attention from Merlin Mann on 43 Folders. A few months ago I thought I’d see what all the fuss was about and download it. However, I just couldn’t get it to run properly and so gave up. (This was just after the release of Leopard so it may be that the version I downloaded wasn’t yet compatible.)

Then, a few weeks ago I read (and watched) an interesting review on Macworld of LaunchBar from Objective Development and thought I’d take a look. You can try it for free – after seven uses it will remind you that you are using the demo. You are however able to continue to use it for free beyond seven uses which gives you a chance to fully evaluate it. I set it up to launch on command-spacebar. All you need to do then is type the first few letters of an application and LaunchBar will bring up a list of suggestions. Most of the time I found it correctly selected what I wanted at the top of the list so all I needed to do was then click return. If the required application is further down the list you just use the arrow keys to select it. In time LaunchBar comes to learn what applications you use most and they will tend to appear at the top of the list. If you want to be really speedy, type a couple of letters (or in some cases just one will do), hold down the last one, and you will go straight to the application without needing to click return. 

Some examples:

  • To open Safari I type command-spacebar and then hold down s
  • To open Mail I type command-spacebar and then hold down m
  • To open Moneydance I type command-spacebar, then mo, keeping the o held down

It doesn’t just work with applications. You can also open files. All you need to do is start typing the name of a file, LaunchBar will find it for you and then open it in the default application. Read the rest of this entry »

The difficulties of finding the perfect GTD system

Last week I wrote a post about a fairly negative review of OmniFocus by Matt Neuburg. This prompted some interesting comments regarding the relative pros and cons of OmniFocus and Cultured Code’s Things.

This got me thinking. It’s interesting, isn’t it, how everyone gets different things from different software? I’ve tried a number of GTD apps (as covered in earlier posts) and the only two I used for any length of time were OmniFocus and Things. There were many other applications that just didn’t suit me, and yet others swear by them. There isn’t a perfect application to suit everyone. (And never will be.)

Everyone who has read Getting Things Done by David Allen seems to have a different take on it. We all come up slightly different variations to suit the way we live our own lives. And therefore we all have different needs when it comes to software. Features important to me include simplicity (in adding tasks and then viewing them) and the ability to create repeating tasks. I also want it to be enjoyable to use (or I’ll end up losing interest). So far, for me, Things comes closest, although it’s still some way off of perfect. Other people have priorities such as iCal integration or online access – features I’m not that fussed about.

A common problem for GTDers seems to be the difficulty settling with one system. Many of us chop and change regularly, tweaking here and there, trying to get it just right. “If I change to this new system I’ll be so much more productive.” I’m terrible for this. And I still haven’t got it right yet. GTD is an excellent method in theory but its implementation isn’t as easy as it would initially seem. Hence we’re all in search of the perfect application to help us in our quest to be more productive. But since we all want different things from GTD we all want different features in our GTD app.

Is it a good thing that there are so many GTD apps out there? Does choice lead to freedom? For me choice has meant many many hours fiddling with different systems trying to find “the one”. Things works pretty well for me but I still have this niggling doubt that there might be a better way. Forget digital and go to paper maybe? Aarrgghhh…if only I could find the perfect system!


Some useful Mac keyboard shortcuts

Generally I prefer using the keyboard to a mouse. I can touch type at a reasonable speed and every time I have to take my hands off the keyboard I feel I’m slowed down. (Less use of the mouse means the batteries last longer too!) So I tend to try and use keyboard shortcuts when I can remember them. But this is the problem with shortcuts – you have to remember them. If you’re sitting there trying to recall which keys you need you would probably have been quicker using the mouse. It’s best to have a small range of shortcuts that you regularly use as they should then be easier to remember.

These are my favourite Mac command-key (⌘) shortcuts that I use on a regular basis: Read the rest of this entry »

Cutting down on blogs

Blogs are taking over my life. Until yesterday I subscribed to 34 via NetNewsWire. Three or four times a day I sit down and read them. As you can imagine, this takes up a fair amount of my time. I try my best to be efficient, reading all the titles and only clicking on those posts that sound interesting. But we’re still talking about a lot of reading.

Well, no more. It’s time to take control. I have been ruthless and unsubscribed from 14. I’m left with my favourites – written by people who tend write high quality, interesting posts. Much as I love reading blogs, I just don’t have the time – and I think 20 will be manageable.


Dissatisfaction with OmniFocus

There’s a really good review of OmniFocus by Matt Neuburg on Tidbits today. He has even included two screencasts to illustrate his points. He’s fairly critical of the user interface. His dissatisfaction completely mirrors my feelings.

I used OmniFocus when it was still a beta but gave up on it once I discovered Things from Cultured Code. The problem I had was it was so complicated. And the UI quirks really annoyed me – particularly the one where you try and change the size of a column and the whole window shrinks. No such problems with Things. It’s easy and intuitive to use and generally behaves as you would expect a Mac application to behave.

Matt Neuberg has one criticism that I disagree with. He doesn’t like the fact that you have to manually tick a project as complete once all the tasks within it are complete. Things also works this way. I like this because I don’t always list all the tasks within a project right at the start. Sometimes I just note down the first few and add more tasks as they become apparent. So occasionally I have a project that may look completed but it isn’t as I will be adding more tasks in the future. Any projects that should have been marked as completed but have been missed get picked up in my weekly review.