Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Web design links for the design challenged

One thing I am tremendously bad at is making a web site look nice. I recently found some great resources that I think are very useful.

Open Source Web Design
This is a big collection of open source site designs. You can use a design as-is, or just browse the designs for ideas.

This is a CSS framework to give your CSS development a jump start. They have a grid thing which is a little strange, but you can do cool things with it. Here is a sample page.
The thing that I don't like about the grid is that the layout starts invading your HTML file. I like the idea of separating design an content using CSS and this feels like a little step backwards.

Reset CSS file
This is a CSS file that resets all the basic style settings. When you use this as a starting point for your CSS it will hopefully eliminate annoying differences among browsers. (This is how I found Blueprint, which uses the Reset CSS script.)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Learning to swim gear list

I just started swimming a month or two ago and I'm really enjoying it. I thought it might be interesting to list the equipment I am using.

(It looks like is having some server problems, so the links may or may not work. It's hard for me to believe they are still using plain old ASP to write their site.)

The essentials:

Swim suit: TYR Square Leg
This swimsuit has been fine. It is a little more modest than brief-type swimsuits, which is good. Every time I see my swim suit I think of the jingle: "who likes short shorts? we like short shorts" (Okay, to be honest, I only know that jingle from the Simpsons, but I'm guessing it was a commercial back in the day.) Long story short: I would get this swimsuit again.

Goggles: Speedo Vanquisher
I haven't had a great experience with these goggles, but it hasn't been all bad. Sometimes I have trouble with leaks. I think I would try a different pair next time.

Swim Cap: Speedo Silicone Swimcap
This swim cap has been fine. Originally, I thought I would be going through swim caps pretty frequently. I'm not sure why I thought that. This one has been fine and it's all I've needed. I have a latex cap as well, but I haven't used it.

Sandals: Nike Swim Men's First String Slide
I am very surprised by these sandals. I bought the cheapest ones that looked decent. I've never had sandals like these before and I was expecting them to be very cheap feeling and uncomfortable. These sandals are actually very comfortable. I highly recommend them. I also count these as essential equipment due to the various forms of foot fungi that are likely covering the locker room and shower floors.

Lock: Pad lock for your locker
A combination lock might be nice, so you don't have to worry about a key. I only had a key type lock, so I've been using that.

I would guess that fancy pools will provide you with a towel. I'm using a towel I got for free.

The non-essentials:

Bag: Speedo Mesh Equipment Bag
This bag is decent, but the strap is too long. If you put the strap over your shoulder, the bag is down at your shins. It's fairly annoying. Maybe you're not supposed to put the bag over your shoulder.

Pull Buoy: Speedo Pull Buoy
I just got this as a gift and have only used it twice. It seems pretty decent so far.

Shampoo: Ultraswim Shampoo
Evidently chlorine can do strange stuff to your hair, so I bought this on advice from my brother. It seems to be doing its job. I haven't noticed any chlorine related strangeness in my hair.

Anti-fog stuff: TYR Anti-Fog Spray
Umm, I'm not really sure if this stuff does anything. My goggles fog up regardless. Maybe if I applied this each time I went swimming it would work. Foggy goggles don't bother me too much when I'm swimming. The only time the fogged up goggles come in to play is when I try to read the clock, which isn't too often.

Soap: Some manly shower gel
Bringing bar soap into the shower is a bit annoying, so I went and bought some random brand of shower gel.

Stuff I don't have yet:

Travel bottles:
Carrying the full sized bottles of shampoo and shower gel is a little annoying. It would be nice to have a couple nice flip-top travel bottles.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Training Update

My training is slowing down a bit due to the cold weather. I haven't gone running for a week and a half due to the cold weather and the snow and ice on the ground. I'm wimping out, I know.

I have been swimming weekly and I went today. At the end of my little workout, I decided to time myself for a couple 50 yard laps. I did one lap fast, almost at a sprint speed for me, and it took me about 50 seconds. I then caught my breath and did one lap at a more reasonable speed and clocked in at 1:05 - 1:10.

So, that's pretty close to my goal of about 1 minute per 50 yards. Right now, I don't think I could maintain that speed for a 1/2 mile, but at least the goal feels achievable at this point.

There were very few people at the pool today, so that was quite nice. I had a lane to myself the whole time. I tried to practice a flip turn, but it didn't go well. I ended up doing a full flip and facing the wall again. I need to look into that a little bit.