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Monthly ArchiveJanuary 2012

Life &Sports by Spencer on January 28, 2012

Slow Off the Blocks

One of my resolutions this year is to continue to increase my fitness and I had mentioned that there was an aquatic center near my work that I was looking into. Well, that place didn’t suit my needs but I found a recreation center with a nice 6 lane pool near our house and joined up.

My plan was to build up to a mile (1650 yards straight, not a true mile, but what is considered a swimmer’s mile) and I found a plan that helps get you there in six weeks starting with 700 yards three times a week. I figured that would be easy as I did 3000+ yards in practice in high school. Boy was I wrong. My first workout was a Friday a few weeks back, and I couldn’t even do 300 yard and made myself sick… I had to pull over on the way in to work because of it.

So, I took a step back and have been working up my yards gradually… I was able to do 600 yards this past Friday (4 x 100 then 4 x 50). I am hoping to start the six week trek officially on Monday with the 700 yard workouts.

My start has ended up a little slower than I wanted but I really like the rec center pool and am enjoying swimming as a workout again. Hopefully six weeks from now, I can do the mile and go from there with my swims.

NCAA Tournament &Technology by Spencer on January 14, 2012

March Madness in January?!?

As I do every year, I work to make my NCAA Tournament website a bit better and more streamlined. This year I wanted to focus on providing a bit more functionality for the users, as well as minor updates to design, changing colors as I also do each year. Basically I had three things I wanted to do this year:

  • Change color scheme
  • Make it so players see and can print their bracket upon submitting it
  • Create a new area where a user can look up their bracket(s) prior to the games starting

I get requests nearly every year for people to see their brackets and in the past, I wasn’t able to provide that and really wanted to this year. Players will still need to contact me if they want to make changes to a bracket, but now they have the tools to see what they need to.

While just doing the above was a major undertaking, as I started working, I ended up doing those things as well as a complete reworking of all of the pages and nearly all of the code. Most of these are behind the scenes but here are some new additions that really advance the site into newer techniques.

  • All PHP. In the past, I have used a Perl script generated by my pool software to insert entries into the database staging area. This year, I completely wrote that functionality into my own PHP.
  • Complete CSS. I replaced nearly all inline style declarations and created solid CSS in two files (one for the pages, and one to specifically define the bracket and location of teams and results).
  • 100% Validation. HTML has changed a lot since I was first introduced to it back in 1995. Now pages have important DOCTYPES that follow particular formatting to ensure that all browsers interpret the pages properly. I updated every page to ensure and check for XHTML validation. I can even have the seal of approval on the site to prove validation.

I am very pleased with how the site is turning out and should only have to make very minor changes when the 2012 version of my pool software comes out. I don’t plan on any more changes/enhancements for this year, but am already trying to think of possible changes for next year (perhaps looking into using AJAX instead of iframes to serve up the pages).

I hope you are all planning on joining this year as well. Details will be sent as the time draws near!

Life by Spencer on January 1, 2012

New Year, New Start, New Resolutions

It is the beginning of a new year and I can honestly say that I am glad to see 2011 done and over with. In nearly every area of my life, there were challenges this year and difficulties throughout. Rather than looking back, however, I want to use this time and this space to look forward.

In this year (and really the last month of 2011) I am in a new house, in a new state, starting a new job. We picked up the family and moved from Las Vegas to just south of Charlotte in South Carolina. I have taken a new position with one of the largest health systems in the region supporting the oncology service line that is going major growth. It is a position with a lot of potential and I feel like I am making a more direct impact on the care of cancer patients, especially given that I don’t have a clinical background.

Resolutions have been up and down over the last few years. 2 years ago I feel I did pretty well since I used this blog to help keep me on track. Last year, I wasn’t as focused and didn’t hold myself accountable by having specific goals or a plan to implement them. With all the changes going into this year, I want to be specific and dedicated to my resolutions as much as possible. So without any further delay, here are my resolutions for 2012:

  • Daily Devotional: In 2010 I set out and successfully read through the Bible in one year. Last year I wanted to keep up with a devotional but was never consistent about it. This year I want to try again.
  • Physical Fitness: I have been able to maintain my weight for a couple of years but I still have a long way to go to get in shape. I don’t believe that I will be able to bowl regularly as there are no centers within a decent range of the house. There is, however, an aquatic center very near my office. I will check it out sometime this week, but my thought may be to swim each morning before work. If that doesn’t work to be a good option, I will have to figure out something else.
  • Self Improvement: For the most part I believe I am a good person but there are certainly times that I react to situations in a less than ideal manner. The only way to truly change to become better is to acknowledge those times and figure a lesson to learn from that to hopefully not make the same mistake twice. While I may not detail out every aspect, I want to use this space as a personal journal to identify those situations and what I can do to better handle them. This will by far be the hardest resolution I have ever taken on and also the hardest to truly measure.

I believe those three are plenty for this year and hope to be more active on the blog this year as I track these and post about life in general. Take care all and I wish the best 2012 for each of you.