Lac Témiscouata – Homage to a Lost Canadian Highway Rest Stop

This is a visual tribute to a picturesque Canadian rest stop along Autoroute 20 in Quebec Canada, overlooking Lake Témiscouata . Sadly, the rest stop was literally blown out of the hills surrounding the lake when the highway was divided around 2013 or 2014. As it has been a memorable stop on many family vacations and my own drives out east I wanted to provide a place online where others can remember the area. Enjoy the memories!

Do you have photos of the rest stop before it was taken out? Please contact me as I only have photos after the highway was divided.

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Space Efficient Mysqldump Backups Using Incremental Patches

Update 2015-08-18: Boy do I feel silly! It turns out there’s a much simpler and much more robust way of doing what I’ve done with the scripts below. It turns out that, using any revision control system (eg. cvs, git, svn) that stores revisions as deltas (and most if not all do), all you need to do is copy anything into a revision control repository and commit it. Tada! The rcs takes care of the incremental part for you by its use of revision deltas (ie. patches). As a big fan of git I was hoping there was a way for it to fill this role. I had mistakenly thought that git stores whole files without diffs/deltas for every revision. This is true until git garbage collects as I found out with my Stack Overflow question: Can git use patch/diff based storage? There’s some great reading there, check it out. Simply garbage collect after adding and committing in git and you automatically get space efficient incremental backups with the bonus of the robustness and reliability of git (or whatever rcs you choose). Bonus: You can delta anything you can store in an rcs repository meaning files, binary or text, archives, images, etc. You still get the space savings! So, quite literally, my database backup is now something like this: (1) mysql dump, (2) git add dump, (3) git commit dump, (4) git gc. Simple, powerful, elegant, beautiful. As it should be!

Space Efficient Mysqldump Backups Using Incremental Patches

I’m now using Duplicity for super convenient one-liner style incremental backup commands in a simple shell script (seriously, it’s like three commands long) but what I’m missing is incremental space-savings on my database dump. Right now my mysqldump produces about a 40MB file, about 10MB compressed. It’s irked me for some time that there’s no simple way to do intra-file incremental backups. I’ve also wanted to do intra-day, not just daily, backups. Duplicity’s incremental backups allow for that but full database backups add up quickly. Well, I finally went ahead and wrote a shell script to do it and a recover script that can recover to any date in the series of backups – just like duplicity. The key was interdiff for incremental patches. Here’s how I did it…

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Far Cry 4

I’ve just finished Far Cry 4 and, I have to say, while Ubisoft has done a lot to hurt its reputation in the past few years, the Far Cry series are consistent better-than-expected entries in their portfolio. I’ll say here and now that Far Cry 2, 3, and 4 are the best exploration games you can play these days.

Exploration

farcry4-2bWhile games like Skyrim or Witcher offer massive worlds, they tend to have that RPG-style, clunky, tick-tock-based combat that really brakes the fluidity of the game. It’s a pleasure to play in a massive world like Far Cry offers with all the fluidity of a real-time FPS.

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How to Track Your Workout at the Gym as an Absolute Beginner

I started working out this spring for the first time at my local Good Life and one of the first things I knew I wanted to do was to know when I could ramp up my sets and reps. I’m a big user of the Apple iPhone Reminders app so I figured I’d put it to good use recording my workout:

IMG_8737

But why track your workout like this? Because working out is a long-term activity. Tracking your stats in a simple, easy way like this will help remind you where you’ve been, where you’ve gotten to, and provide a clear path of improvement so you’ll be on an upward workout trend and not plateaued or even going down (how would you know without tracking)? You’ll feel good about continuous improvement and more confident because you know where you’ve come from and where you’re going.  I think most people would find tracking their workout tedious on paper or they just don’t know what workout app to use, etc. So I figured I show how it can be done with an app that most people have already.

So, what you have above is a Gym tab in the Reminders app and I simply list all my exercises in the order that I do them. I also record any pertinent settings for the machine (like Level 12 and target heart rate 150 for the bicycle). Then I record the sets and reps (“10,10,10,10″ – ie. 4 sets of 10 reps each). I record the workout count (“x4″) meaning how many times I’ve done it (usually indicates once per workout). I also record the weight.

See how compact and easy it is to review your current workout when you record it like that? And it’s in the Reminders app that I use for everything else so it’s easy and convenient to use.

For the record: I’m not a licensed gym trainer, physiotherapist or doctor. The ideas in this post are from my personal experience and I hope they can help some beginners as well.

Following I’ve included some personal thoughts, recommendations and anecdotes about my experience at the gym since I’ve started. I hope it helps someone out there get started as well!

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Silver Chair

Silver Chair,
how I hate you!
You’re always there, lurking,
at the end of every good thing!
(Stealing away every pleasure!)

Silver Chair,
how I hate your lies!
You tell me all this wasn’t,
while all the while I know it was! It was!
(You took it away!)

Temptation, come my way!
Lured and trapped,
sheep to the slaughter!

Silver Chair,
how I hate your words!
You speak to me of dos and donts,
but I know of your weels and your wonts!
(Cast it to the ground!)

Silver Chair,
how I hate your angles!
You make meaningless my pleasure
and you show me my measure!
(Burn bright to the ground!)

Temptation, come my way!
Lurid and tainted,
sheep to the slaughter!

Silver Chair,
trouble me no more!
You’re gone within minutes,
why should I care.
(Why do you care?)

Silver Chair,
how I hate what you show!
You show me what’s ugly…
you show me myself.
(Don’t show me myself.)

Temptation, come my way.
Bruised and broken,
sheep to the shear.

Silver Chair,
don’t leave me here!
You’re already gone,
you’ve left me alone.
(Don’t leave me alone.)

Silver Chair,
why did you go?
I want what you do.
Clarity. You do clarity.
(Clearly. You show me clearly.)

Temptation, go away.
Broken and beaten,
crushed underfoot.

Silver Chair,
you bring me clarity.
You put everything in its place.
All weights are set correct.
(Gravity sets all a’right.)

Silver Chair!
Reflector of my heart!
Don’t go!
You’re gone.
(I want to go with you.)

Temptation, get behind me!
Beaten and lost,
crushed under your foot!

Silver Chair,
you were never the thing were you?
You cleared the air, brought sanity to madness,
so I could find myself clearly.
(Clearly. So I could find You clearly.)

God,
have mercy on me,
a sinner!

 

Duplicity – Pleasure and Simplicity in Your Backups

If you’re like me, you’ve spent a long time, in many different configurations, trying to come up with a simple yet flexible, easy to use yet space efficient backup solution for a long, long time. Well, I think I’ve finally jumped ship from shell scripts and tarballs to duplicity: bandwidth-efficient backup using the rsync algorithm. Although duplicity talks up encryption, and it’s great and makes it easy, it’s not required and I don’t use it. Here’s some tips and tricks to get you started…

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SimXperience AccuForce Pro Steering System

Update 2015-07-30: Check this very helpful and informative post on tuning the Accuforce Pro: AccuForce Settings For Dummies.

Update 2015-06-03: Added RaceRoom Racing Experience after 2015-06-02 Update section.

Update 2015-06-01: Added Auto-Tuning with SimCommander Software section. Recommended read for AccuForce owners: AccuForce Tuning Feedback Test. This is a thread Berney of SimXperience created after the Sim Racing Garage head-to-head video, mentioned below, attempting to provide collect some user experiences and determine what kind of changes could be made to the wheel to improve feel for sim racers (who may have different force feedback tastes than real-life race drivers).

Update 2015-06-01: Barry, from Sim Racing Garage, has release a head-to-head comparison of the Accuforce Pro, Bodnar, and OSW wheels. It has highlighted some nagging concerns I’ve had ever since I’ve been playing with the wheel. Before we go any further, don’t think for a moment I’m saying the Accuforce is not a good wheel. It’s a professional, supported, warrantied, complete package, direct-drive, very strong wheel, with good force feedback and excellent tuning options. It’s a great wheel and at a competitive price. What I will say though is that the forces are not coming through as much as I’d like. For example, one reviewer in the video mentioned how it was difficult to tell the different between a slide through grass and the moment it hit the pavement during the slide. The AF wasn’t communicating that well. Other examples include strong cornering forces washing out road feel, or banking or kerb forces not feeling as defined as the other wheels. On the SimXperience forums, Berney (of SimX), has said he’ll be thinking about pushing out wheel updates to work on the comments the reviewers had in the videos. I look forward to trying those updates.

Update 2015-05-21: Added iRacing Settings, RaceRoom Racing Experience Settings

Update 2015-05-19: Added Setup, First Impressions, First Driving Experience, G27 Thoughts, Resources

accuforce2I’ve recently received my SimXperience AccuForce Pro and have been enjoying it for the past week. I’ve only owned one other force feedback wheel, a Logitech G27, and this is, of course, leaps and bounds beyond a G27. There is ample power and tuning options to provide the flexibility sim racers really want to ensure the best and most realistic experience while driving.

I’ll be posting my initial thoughts, my driving and tuning experiences, and providing tips and tricks for various facets of the wheel, it’s tuning software, and for the various sim titles I play.

I’ll be writing this post in parts and updating new sections as I have time and learn new things about the wheel!

Enjoy!

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My Recommended WordPress Themes and Plugins

After having used WordPress for a number of years, I’ve really started to get into more plugins that help me present and share my content the way I want. I’ve also gone through some themes and picked one I like, including versions for desktop and mobile. Here’s my recommendations for WordPress themes and plugins…

Themes

Twenty Eleven

twentyeleven2Twenty Eleven is still my WordPress theme of choice. It’s feature-full, clean, elegant, and problem free from my experience.

Please note it’s not actively updated so you may need to Google around for fixes. For example, I wrote a post on how to fix the featured image that is buggy in the default Twenty Eleven theme.

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The Ultimate American Roadtrip

I’ll be honest, I’m linking this article just so I can remember for the next time I have enough money to do something crazy like this. The article is How to Really Drive Across the U.S. Hitting Major Landmarks and it manages to hit every continental US state and nearly every major landmark you’d want to hit like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, and a host of others. I plan to use it as a basis for my next big roadtrip, should I ever have the spare cash to do that. :) Here’s a map route and a list of the destinations…

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How to Help ISIS Persecuted Christians #Charity365

The latest atrocities by the Muslim group, ISIS, includes a video of the shooting or beheading deaths of thirty Ethiopian Christians. In previous posts, Charity 360 and Charity 365, I laid out my experience in charitable giving. In the latter post I talked about expanding to include more global and humanitarian groups. If you don’t know how to help here’s a few organizations to support that are helping persecuted Christians in general or are in the Syria/Iraq area directly affected by ISIS…

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