#100DaysOfCode – Day 8 – Strings and things, a “method” to the madness – Python


Here I am…eight straight days into this 100 day code challenge and my understanding and progress is greater than it was the first two attempts of learning. I’ve been through learning a bit of Python syntax, to include strings (multi-strings as well), Boolean values, methods, numbers, and the like. I’ve learned enough to have finally started my personal programming project today. While, it’s just the beginning, I’ll eventually learn how to manipulate the data to be entered and code the right formulas to achieve the simulation results.

As said before, engaging with the Twitter community tweeting their journey with the hashtag in the title of this post, has been quite motivational, as well as helpful.

As most coders, I’m still up, it’s 1:52 am where I am. Not bad as I had eaten, not one but, two steaks, salad, two baked potatoes and desert about 10:30pm and didn’t want to go straight to sleep aftewards. The SpaceX launch of Telstar 19V lifted off at 1:52am EST, so I watched that through first -stage reentry (which was successful) and separation of the spacecraft into GTO. This stuff NEVER gets boring.

For now, it’s finally bed time.

Until next time….peace.


#100DaysOfCode – Day 7: Continuing on Codecademy/Python Crash Course

NP: Infinite: A 1 hour Chill Mix

It’s a been a few days since I’ve posted an update on this coding journey, but I will say this revised approach is netting me better results than the first two times around. So far, I’e completed the syntax portion of Codecademy’s Python course and using the book “Python Crash Course – A Hands On Project Based Introduction to Programming” (PCC for short). The book is a good addition because, even though it’s not a one-for-one follow, it’s providing some additional detail (let’s say a bit more advanced) for the sections that it does align with on Codecademy. For example, Codecademy has already giving a brief over of numbers (integers, float, etc), whereas PCC is just beginning to cover it in the next section after the syntax lessons I’ve just completed there.

The #100DaysOfCode campaign on Twitter is really helpful and encouraging. Seeing where everyone is in their personal journey is not only enlightening, but motivational.

In any event, enough coding for the night (or I should say early morning) – time to catch zzz.

Thanks for the read,

#100DaysOfCode – Day 2: Python at Codecademy and A Book


As mentioned in the previous blog post, I’m all set up and currently using my Macbook Air as the coding platform of choice. Right now I’m in Codecademy’s Python for Beginners couse, learning about variables, specifically variable substitution. This will come in handy for one of the project ideas I have (once I get the grasp of variables down). The book I’m referring to is the one I mentioned in my last blog post.

It’s 10:54pm on a Sunday night. I devoured a chicken wrap (one of four I made for lunch this week), and I SHOULD be heading to bed but, instead, acting like an infant that wants to stay up (insert eye rolling here)

I feel I wasted a good graphic on this short post – I’ll have to recycle it, LOL.

Good night.

#100DaysOfCode – Day 1 – 13 Jul 18: Back to Python (again)

[Now Playing: Sleepless Nights – a lo-fi hip hop mix (pt. 4)]

So here we are. About two weeks ago, I came across the following post on Instagram…

This resonates truth to me because there are a few things I have decided to start in life that obviously require constant development to reach certain goals and some of these got an honest start, but fell by the wayside. What happens as a result of this? You look back in frustration knowing how far you could have been by now.

Learning to code in Python is something I first started back in 2015 to strengthen my skill set, for two reasons: 1) I always enjoyed programming (coding) since I took my first college courses in BASIC and FORTRAN IV, back in the day. 3) In 2015, I was unemployed for sometime and thought seriously about a career change. I connected with a developer in a, now defunct, Twitter-like social network call ADN (App Developers Network), around that time, Zeb DeOs. Zeb turned out to be real cool – family man with an intense passion for software development and other things related. He was good enough to engage in some extended email traffic to answer a ton of questions about the many different coding languages, after which I decided that for what I’d like to eventually do, Python would be it.

Anyway, back to this restart. This is my third attempt at learning Python. The first two times were via a structured approach – both times were an MIT MOOC – Introduction to Python for Scientific Computing. Great course and packed with students worldwide with varyng degrees of aptitude BUT with the normal day-to-day ongoings coupled with the fact that i haven’t taken a structured programming course since college, it was kinda tough to hang and get assignments done on time, etc, etc. Directly prior to the first MOOC, I discovered Codecademy, an “online freemium interactive platform that offers free coding classes in 12 different programming languages including Python, Java, JavaScript, Ruby, SQL, and Sass, as well as markup languages HTML and CSS”. I’m back to taking this route, along with using a book called Python Crash Course – A Hands -On, Project-Based Introduction to Programming

This time around I’m not going to let the “pressure” of a structured course driving the learning curve, but, instead I’ve come up with two projects I’d like to code. I won’t say what they are right now, but one has increased complexity over the other Good things these are long term projects that I have something to look forward to After all, the best way to learn coding is to build something.

I’ve got Python 2.7 loaded on my Dell Laptop using Geany as the IDE. On the Macbook, Python 3.7 with the Sublime Text Editor as my IDE (it’s cross platform so I can easily use it with Windows, etc.) I may take a look at freemium course Microsoft has for learning Python, as long as it’s self-paced without the online classroom environment…we’ll see.

That’s it for now…


One month in, Deep Work, and human nature story about coffee & the 44th

Greetings all…

It’s been a minute since a posted a web log (actually since last year). DK Wyatt were talking about blogging lately and it was something (before the advent of social media sites like Twitter and FB) that we used to do a lot. IN any event, I got the urge yesterday to sit down and post this – until I ran into some craziness with mismatched USB bluetooth dongles and wireless mice around this house last night.

Any way, some of you know I’ve recently returned to the space missions industry. I’m working as a systems enginner on NASA robotic space missions at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab. Nothing but happy about it, although the real work hasn’t started yet, after being there for exactly one month yesterday. The atmosphere and people are great, but it’s been mega reading for the most part. I’ve been working on documents in preparation for a preliminary design review this month for one of the missions but my immediate supervisor has been crazy busy working on a current mission, so there hasn’t been a great deal of face time outside of talking about some documentation he’s feeding me to come up to speed on for certain aspects of the missions I’ll be involved with. No complaints there, the more reading time I get the better. Having a desk with a window view can make it a wee bit distracting though.

I’ve been posting in my FB and IG feeds about this book, Deep Work. It is nothing short of a game changer for me. I’ve already began to put it’s concepts to use (although long time habits are hard to break) and can and will see the benefits of doing such. I highly recommend this book if you desire is to “starve your distracctions and feed your focus” along with learning how to produce quality and value-added work.

I have an officemate who will be working on specific aspects of the same missions I’ll be working on. Over the last few days, we got into discussions about drinking tea and coffee. Those discussions led to various tea and coffee establishments in the DC metro area. One we discussed is called Vigilante. While I’ve never been a coffee drinker, I will make it a point to visit this one, and stop by a Teavana shop before Starbucks closes them all this year.
I decided to check out Vigilante’s website and found much more than I expected. The Yelp reviews are great and I can imagine why just be visiting the site alone. I found an interesting human nature story in the blog, which turned out to be a nice read. It involved the origins of the company and former President Barack Obama. I had to work late for a Friday, but found it a nice way to end the work day. You can read it here.

That’s a wrap…it’s been a quiet Saturday, but going on 1pm – time to get moving.


Gone… A Loss of Fond Technology


It started a few nights ago. Someone in a music production forum on Facebook posted a synthesizer advertisement from back in the day…a vintage synth. Before long, members of the forum were chiming in about what they remember about those days – things like they used that synth at one point, how it compared to others of its timeframe, etc. Even I pulled out a set of old music production user group magazines and posted a pic of them.

This got me reminiscent of the first computer I was every able to purchase. The backstory (some of you may know) is when I started my professional career out of college, I was a young systems engineer working in a Naval satellite system program office. This office, surprisingly, had a mix of Macs and PCs. It was then, in 1988, when the Mac was only four years old, that my love affair with the platform began. Our business affairs guy was the keeper of the Macs in the office and it was through his enthusiasm and love for the platform that got me interested, not to mention (as I found out shortly thereafter), the magic of Apple. For the next two years, I dreamed of owning a Mac.

In 1990, I was settled into my own apartment (no more roommates) and was making enough to finally afford a brand spanking new Macintosh Classic. I purchased that computer for a whopping $1200 from a small computer shop in Silver Spring, MD. Until then, I was recording the music I was composing to a Tascam 424 multitrack tape recorder. Getting the Mac was way more exciting then most of you could ever imagine – it opened up the world of music sequencing and facilitated greatly how I composed music. It was also the first time I was able to connect to BBSs online via a blazing fast 2400 bps modem (LOL).

Since that Mac, I’ve had many more, some of which I still have in storage, some not, but it was that all in one Mac, the 9-inch B&W, the tiny sequencer, MasterTracks Pro, and a lot of other things during my early journey into using a computer for music production, that leave me with fond memories.

Two nights ago, I pulled it out of storage, set it up, turned it on, and set it in my studio. A little, but well know screensaver called Darkside, was installed. I set it to fade to the “Kitten” screensaver, a little spunky kittne that ran around the screen chasing a ball of yarn. A lot of memories came flooding back, especially those of what I could do with so little hard drive space and processing speed compared to what I have today. Having to load programs via 3.5-in floppy disks, and all the other charming things that only Apple could make you experience.

Last night, when it was appearing everything was fine with it, I decided to move it. I went to shut it down via the shutdown menu, but the mouse froze on the screen, along with the kitten. All I could do them is manually shut the power switch off. When I turned it back on, the video screen essentially malfunctioned. An awful looking pattern was now frozen in place. I repeatedly turned it off and on, trying to see if that issue would fix itself. I followed my a short shake, then firm pounding on both sides, as if I was trying to resuscitate it. All of that…amounted to nothing. It was no more.

Interesting how attached we can become to inanimate objects. While it wasnt necessary the object itself, it was more the memories attached to using it, the things I was able to accomplish during the beginnings of a journey that I’m still on. I admit that I miss it, despite the fact it was sitting in storage for years, despite the fact that the Macs I use for music production now are vastly superior to it. I just miss it…call it tech nostagia.

Today, after some research, I’ve decided to purchase another for posterity. For an original price of $1200 I paid 27 years ago, I’ve seen that computer in flea markets and classified ads selling for as little as $20. On eBay, one in good condition is well over $250. I won’t spend that much, but I’ll continue to research, continue to look around and just maybe, a sort of resurrection of sorts will occur one day in the hopefully near future.

oceans of rhythm…


Calories to NikeFuel Points – An Experiment

Greetings readers,

In my last (longgg) post, I discussed why I have, in 2017, begun using the NikeFuel Band. In all the research I’ve done, I wanted to determine (via some crude experiments), what many have tried before – How many calories burned make up 1 NikeFuel point?

As a recap, the Nike website says this:

“The NikeFuel algorithm was developed at the Nike Digital Sport Science Lab (DSSL), a state-of-the-art performance lab located at Nike WHQ in Portland, OR. The DSSL consists of a team of exercise physiologists and biochemists who are constantly working and reworking the science behind the NikeFuel algorithm. Their goal is not only to perfect the accuracy and consistency of the metric, but also to tune NikeFuel for the performance needs of different athletes.”

About four years ago, there were net postings saying the ratio was 2.79 cals to 1 NP (calculated via experiment by a runner) and “roughly 3 cals to 1 NP” (according to Nike). Since the algorithm was worked over time (says Nike), I decided to conduct some experiments on a normal day of movement (24 Aug 17) and exercising to see what results I’d end up with.

Experiment 1 – Morning Calisthenics
Since I workout every morning by at least do a short calisthenics set, I decided to note the NikeFuel points tracked vs the calories burned with the band and compare them to what the Apple Watch recorded. The following resulted in the amount of calories burned for each NikeFuel point:

Roughly, a 4-to-1 ratio.

Experiment 2 – Normal Daily Moves and Exercise
This time, I decided to take the same approach and apply it to a normal day of activity. Once again, note the results.

Finally, Experiment #3 – Core Training
It takes 30 minutes of exercise in Workout mode to close the exercise ring on the Apple Watch. Since the NikeFuel Band offers a capability called Sessions, I decided to start a session simultaneously with the Apple Watch and record the results as follows:

In all three experiments, with the exception of the outlier of 3.42 cals/NikeFuel point, the results consistently show roughly 4 cals to every one NikeFuel point, or a 4-to-1 ratio.

Crude experiments, yes…but consistent. It’s just something I was curious about, but honestly didn’t expect pretty stable results across the board.

Thanks again for the read….


Why the Nike FuelBand SE in 2017 – “Band on the run”

So, I’ve found the Apple Watch fitness capabilities a welcome and useful way to track my general fitness activities AND found the entire process it uses to motivate me, especially in the area of consistency. The apps that I use integrate perfectly with the Health app, I’ve had no issue with sharing my Activity data with others, and even with the current Watch OS 3.12, operating everything I need from the watch is a breeze (there a few things I’d like to see changed in future updates but they’re not fitness-related).

That said, it seems like it’s an all-in-one solution for my needs, as I stared using wearable technology to track my fitness data five years before the Apple Watch came along. Why, then, have I developed this fascination for using another unit that once had it’s heyday as a wearable fitness tracker, but met an untimely (some what say timely) death three years ago, one that many lambasted as inaccurate, lacking features that units in co-existence had at the time? Well, it’s simple, it offers and does a few things that the AW ecosystem doesn’t. This fitness tracker is the Nike Fuel Band. I’m going to talk about my personal likes about it and why I enjoy using it in concert with the AW, vice discussing it’s technical drawbacks as a unit and in comparison to where fitness tracking technology has evolved to.

I’m certain that all of you reading this blog post have, at least, heard of the Nike Fuel Band, and probably have an idea what Nike Fuel and the band is.

For those of you that don’t, the Nike website describes the concept of Nike Fuel as follows:

“Nike Fuel is whole integer number that represents your daily activity by calculating your calories burned along with your steps taken, while simultaneously factoring in your age, gender, weight and height. In short order, Nike Fuel is a calculation that allows everyone and anyone to compete regardless of their sex, age and any physical predispositions. Nike worked with some of the world’s top experts in science and sports to engineer NikeFuel algorithms based on oxygen kinetics. Unlike calorie counts — which vary based on someone’s gender and body type — NikeFuel is a normalized score that awards all participants equal scoring for the same activity regardless of their physical makeup. A user can also choose to also receive a calorie count to understand how many calories are burned versus how much NikeFuel is earned. The Nike+ FuelBand SE and first generation FuelBand track activity-based caloric burn (not resting metabolic caloric burn) using an algorithm (a series of mathematical models that link movement patterns to known energy requirements) based on the energy you expend when you move.

The NikeFuel algorithm was developed at the Nike Digital Sport Science Lab (DSSL), a state-of-the-art performance lab located at Nike WHQ in Portland, OR. The DSSL consists of a team of exercise physiologists and biochemists who are constantly working and reworking the science behind the NikeFuel algorithm. Their goal is not only to perfect the accuracy and consistency of the metric, but also to tune NikeFuel for the performance needs of different athletes (Nike says “If you have a body, you’re an athlete”). Our NikeFuel science team has an extensive amount of athlete V02 tests, each consisting of a series of 42 activities that include both lifestyle and traditional sport movements. Our data set grows exponentially every year, and our algorithms get short and more accurate every month.

In addition to the work we do in-house, the DSSL works directly with experts from across the academic and research industries to further perfect the algorithms.”

Popular Mechanics published a 2012 story regarding an inside look of the Nike DSSL, read it here.

The steps and calories are not an exact science but it is a pretty good gauge of how active you have been during the day. It takes into account the amount of movement in a given period of time so assigns a higher “point” value. It also does not take into account heart rate at all. What I like about the Fuel Band is it constitutes itself a motivational tool – you can compare your Fuel score with some celebrity athlete, or to everyday people in your age range, even you know they are more active or less active than you are.

Like many dedicated fitness trackers and mobile phones, motion is key to tracking fitness via use of accelerometers and other motion sensing technologies. Nike+ Fuelband is at its core an accelerometer; it counts the number of steps and calculates the estimated calories consumed. The FuelBand contains a timer, and by taking into account both distance and time, i.e. how vigorous is your motion, the NikeFuel score provides a measure of the aerobic and cardiovascular workout. In addition, Nike Fuel points do not depend on weight as a metric factor (unlike calculating calories burned) and so, again, the score can be directly compared between individuals.

A blog post from Quantified Health states “…Taken together, the Nike Fuel score probably correlates closely with the number of calories burned but it also contains a component that is orthogonal (distinct) to this count relating to the briskness of the exercise. It would be helpful if Nike could provide more information about its Fuel score and how it is calculated to enable a more accurate physiological interpretation.” That said, Nike’s formula for calculating Nike Fuel points is “proprietary”. I’ve read two web references where a runner conducted some experiments to determine that one Nike Fuel point is equal to 2.79 calories burned. You can read the entire post here. Another reference aligns with this in that a user contacted Nike and their reply was the ratio of of calories to Fuel points is “roughly 3-to-1” Yet another user compiled a month’s worth of data to try and determine this, you can read about that here. I’ve started conducting some experiments to see if my findings show. A reader commented to the Quantified Health blog post by saying: “What SHOULD have been used, both by Nike and here in your article discussing it, is how there Nike Fuel points are related to METs which are the universal measurement of activity and caloric expenditure. I suspect Nike Fuel is either based on or directly correlated to METs in some way.” Again, many have been interested in trying to crack the code of Nike’s proprietary formula.

Back to why I use the Fuel Band in a few short reasons:

1. Where Nike Fuel really works for me is as a personal motivation tool. At any point during the day, I can push the button on the band to see where I am in relation to my goal. I don’t need to pull out my cell phone to bring up the app (which obviously has much more functionality in a number of ways), because, for one, mobile phones are prohibited where I work, but the like the Apple Watch (also prohibited), the band is connect via Bluetooth to my phone, so as soon as it reconnects, I can see all the extra data via the app, data which is essentially synced to my Nike+ fitness account online. I’ve never been one to enjoy having a phone strapped to be to measure my physical activity when exercising or otherwise.

My first introduction to trophies (or achievements, as the Apple Watch world calls them), came via the use of Nike Fuel. For a list of all the trophies, go here. For a list of Nike and Nike + Fuel badges, you can view those here. I’ve gotten a number of achievements via use of the Apple Watch fitness tracking, but the Nike Fuel ones seem more…..exciting…for lack of a better word.

2) There’s a certain “cool/wow factor” with this band – the LED lights, the progression of color (red to green) as I reach my goal. it’s definitely an attention-getter if seen in public today. I like that, it’s simple and to the point. While the Apple Watch gives data (currently) on 58 types of exercise activity, Nike designed the band to track 88 different types. A lot, but not near the 200+ types the Polar fitness trackers are designed to measure.

3) It’s any inconspicuous wearable that gives me a different metric of my physical activity.

4) Nike, being the juggernaut of the company it is, got every aspect of advertising and social media dead on for me, everything about it is still attractive (even though the band itself and it’s social media activity is dead and discontinued)

In short, it’s convenient (no phone needed), simple (though the Fuel points concept is unlike most common fitness data tracking methods), it’s cool looking, provides the motivation I need, and they just got me with everything they put in to this now dead platform.

Yes, I have the NRC app on my phone and watch, as well as the NTC app on my phone – both generated Nike Fuel points when used to the Nike Fuel app, but for some odd (I guess) reasons, I like the physical and tactile aspect of wearing the band.

Nike did end up settling a lawsuit regarding misleading advertising about the accuracy of the fitness tracking of the band, resulting in refunding users $15 USD or a Nike gift card, if they purchased the band within a certain time period. They also eventually released their API to the public so developers could integrate the software into other applications.

Why did Nike can the development of the Fuel Band? In short, the company decided it eventually did not want to invest resources in a dedicated fitness tracker, but otherwise license and integrate that technology into mobile devices. At that time, the FitBits and Garmins of the world exceeded the features that the Fuel Band offered.

Well, there you have it. I did an Instragram hashtag search on #nikefuelband and was surprised to see how many people are still using it in 2017. I think that, in itself piqued my interest more, aside from the reasons given above.

Thanks for the read…