30 day reports

For the month of May, I didn’t watch any TV. I learned that I don’t miss summer TV that much.

For the month of June, I tried to walk 10,000 steps a day. I learned that a walk in the evening is a nice way to wind down and relax.

For the month of July, I biked into work. I learned:
– I don’t much like to bike to work. Part of it is probably that I have pretty old/crappy bike that doesn’t change gears quite right. The fastest path to work is on car-dense road, which also isn’t much fun.
– For the iPhone, I found a program for $3 called MotionX-GPS that does a very solid job of recording times and GPS tracks.
– But the best program I found was for Android. It’s called My Tracks and it’s free. It’s better than MotionX-GPS for a couple reasons. First, in addition to “total time,” the My Tracks application also tracks “moving time.” In other words, if you’re stuck at a traffic light, your “total time” keeps counting but your “moving time” doesn’t. Second, the My Tracks application can easily upload your GPS track to a Google Map.
– I can tell a notable improvement in my fitness level. It’s deeply satisfying to shave a few seconds off my biking time every day.
– The easiest way to improve your speed is to ensure that your bike tires are fully inflated.
– I get hungrier when I bike to work. I can also eat more without gaining much weight.
– Google has a program that lets bike-to-workers earn donations for their favorite charity.

After biking to work for July, I ended up doing a short sprint triathlon (swim 400 yards, bike 11 miles, run 3 miles) this past weekend. I did it in about an hour and 20 minutes, which I’m pretty happy with–especially with my crappy bike. πŸ™‚

For the month of August, I’m shooting to read 15 books in 30 days. I’ve only read 6-7 books so far, so I’m behind, but I figure I’ll read 15 books and if that takes a little while longer, no biggie. I love to read.

61 Responses to 30 day reports (Leave a comment)

  1. What kind of books do you plan to read in 30days? ebooks? lol

    I guess you need to brush up on your blackhat skills πŸ™‚

  2. This is an awesome way to renew yourself. It’s like SCRUM for your personal life…actually, it’s a lot like that. I look forward to seeing what else you accomplish this year.

  3. Could I get you to post the books you’re reading this month on a Goodreads profile? Would love to see what’s on the list!

    Here’s what I’ve read lately: http://www.goodreads.com/otis

  4. When you said you had a crappy bike this was the first thing I thought of…


    I think I’d rather ride THAT bike to work everyday than read 15 books in 30 days. The internet has killed my attention span πŸ™‚ But congrats, even that short triathlon is quite the achievement!

  5. Hey Matt,

    Great program you’ve got going! Just a quick one:

    Is your commute very hilly? If not, have you considered trying out a fixed gear / fixed wheel bike? I made the switch a while ago, and for street riding, would never consider anything else. Yes, it take a bit of getting used to, but once you do, your stamina will increase dramatically, you’ll have a much better spin, and will feel more productive, since your legs are always moving. It sounds harder at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s actually a lot easier. Especially when keeping pace with traffic.. No more sprinting and brake squeezing!

    Well, give it some thought. If you do decide to take the plunge and either convert your current bike or buy a new frame, please please please install a front brake. Some insist that it’s unnecessary, but in an unpredictable street environment, it’s a must.

    Either way, happy cycling!

  6. Nice time on the triathlon. In the Marines, we had a PFT (Physical fitness test). 3 mile run in 18 minutes, 80 situps in 2 minutes, and 20 pull-ups, for a perfect score, I could always do the 80 and 20, but small legs give me a 21 minute 3 mile run, which isn’t bad. Course, this was all 15 years ago, but i could probably still do the 80 and 20, just the run would take me about a day..

  7. Did you shave your head because you’re a biker?

  8. I would recommend an upgrade on the bike and a new route to work that isn’t as congested. I regularly bike for fitness and enjoyment and can very much relate to the pleasure of shaving seconds off total time, being able to eat more without gaining weight, and just plain feeling better. Do yourself a favor and get rid of the crappy bike – you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. I know this from experience. πŸ™‚

  9. I love my tracks, especially the direct upload to google docs…that way i can track my improvement on a given route.

  10. I wonder if MotionX-GPS would be good for tracking the speed (or lack of speed) of my commute. sounds like it’s worth a try if it’s good for biking times.

    Question: How do you handle/deal-with having an iphone AND an Android? Isn’t checking email and other functions on both duplicitous? Have you ever said publicly which of the two you prefer? Would you?

  11. Wow that’s a really good time! You should get a new bike and do some exploring one weekend to find a better route! =)


  12. RunKeeper is better than MotionX-GPS for tracking bike trips, runs, walks, etc. It uploads every trip to its server, and you can look at graphs and maps of your trips on-line. You can also look at a real-time map while riding/walking. If you wear headphones, it’ll tell you pace / distance information at intervals you define. Very good app.

  13. Matt,

    You’ll want to learn some basics of bike mechanics if you plan to ride. It makes the whole experience more adjustable. So, get your self a good bike, keep the chain lubed and clean, and learn how to tweak your brakes and derailleurs. It’s really not that hard, and sooner or later you’re going to be stuck on the side of the road wishing you had the tools and knowledge.


  14. Thanks for reminding me that planning on riding my bike to work every day is not exactly the same as actually riding it – it need to improve here… Today I’ll ride my bike to work!

  15. Hi Matt,
    Is there any chance for us to know the list of Books that you have planned to read πŸ™‚ this month…

  16. Hi Matt

    I think your 30 day plan is a great idea – particularly that you mixed in some fitness stuff, some personal development stuff, and ….of course, some Google stuff. I’m going to try out my own plan, and hope you let us know how the reading goes, and what is up your sleeve for Sept.


  17. Matt – you read 30 books in August, and I’ll read 31 newspapers. So there.

  18. Good to see you getting into the fitness.
    Will try the GPS Navigation on my iphone also. Thanks.

  19. Nice! I am going to do a 3/4 triatlon this sunday in Weesp, The Netherlands.
    – Swimming 1km (0.6miles)
    – Cycle 40km (24.85 miles)
    – Running 10km (6.2 miles)

    Hope to do it in 2:04hours. Now i am going to check out “My Trakcs”.

  20. Having been off TV since 1979, I now recommend “checking in” every couple of years. One doesn’t _really_ want to be cut completely adrift from popular culture. It’s disorienting.

  21. Matt, Triathletes shave their legs, not their heads πŸ™‚

    Tip for loosing unwanted weight. Graze your way through the day. Aim to eat at least every hour. Think of you stomach as burning log fire. Fatty foods are wet logs, while fruit, vegies and other NON processed foods are super dry kindling. Breads, cerials, rice, pasta, fish, lean meat are dry logs.

    Part of it is probably that I have pretty old/crappy bike that doesn’t change gears quite right

    That’s right, blame the bike as IT cannot defend itself πŸ™‚

  22. get your bike tuned up and it _should_ shift normally again. a decent shop can have it done in an afternoon for you.

    don’t shave your legs.

  23. Hi Matt

    This is really a thread for your Summer Books – but it fits here too. If you like the Lee Child / Jack Reacher books you may also like a series of 3 books by Swedish journalist (now sadly deceased) Stieg Larsson. His three books are based around a core cast including central character Lisbeth Salander and are entrhalling thrillers. Pacy, well written and sadly never to be added to.

    The books do stand up in their own right, but reading them in order does put a lot of things in to context. I’m saying this as if I’ve read all three – sadly i’ve only read the first 2 and am waiting with baited breath for the translation of the third to be completed.

    Sadly the books were only translated in to Englilsh after his death in 2004 and so Stieg will never know how well received they have been

  24. Sounds good Matt. Why is it always the tech team that drinks too much coffee and forgets to exercise. Our senior engineer’s coffee cup is big enough to grow a sizable plant in! Looked like you’d lost a few pounds when we saw you at SMX Seattle earlier in the year. Keep it up. For info our business now buys bikes up to the value of Β£1k for the team to ride to work. How good is that!

  25. Hey Matt

    15 books in 30 days, hey I do that all the time ( if comics count) πŸ™‚

    Seriously though, making an action plan is great, I do it all the time, I always make a reward / punishment though so I make sure i hit my target !!

  26. You ran a sprint/tri in 1:20? You must mean 2:20. A 1;20 spring is “stand on the podium” for your prize in our age category.


  27. Surprised you dind’t get your bike fixed up before the triathlon (what do you have) – or even get a new one.

    I found the trick for riding in trafic (i some times used to bike across London to BBS meets) was to be agressive and not ride in the gutter.

  28. Realising (or pretending) you have a crappy bike is the excuse you need to go and spend some cash on some nice new machinary. Keep the old one of course as it will be too good to dump – just stack it in the garage with all the other old ones….

  29. Matt,

    Just how do you find the time for all of this? I hope you’re not planning on reading whilst you bike to work. You’ll lose concentration and you’ll never beat your best time!

  30. How exactly do you count the number of steps in a day? Pretty cool thirty-day challenges… now try writing a major blog article every day for 30 days πŸ˜‰

  31. sometime,newspaper is a good choose.

    I like read book,but now I go to school by walk!

    I felt I am losing my weight…

  32. I love the idea of these mini goals – short bursts of one activity (whatever it may be) stops you getting bored and maintains your interest level.

    From a fitness point of view, varying your type of exercise is a great way to keep your body guessing about what’s coming next… which in turn burns more energy and helps you keep fit.

  33. Dr Seuss books don’t count Matt! How do you have the time to read? After working and socialising, I’m barely left with enough time to sleep!

  34. Matt,

    Good job.

    Do you ever swim in the infinity pool on campus? Been out twice meeting with my account team and have never seen anyone in it. The lifeguard reminds me of the Maytag repairman.

  35. πŸ™‚ good for you Matt πŸ™‚
    you should try body building also, go for Mr.Olympia 2010, no one will dare to spam on the web after that.

  36. Hey Matt, ever read any Aldous Huxley?

    Famous Quote: β€œThey intoxicate themselves with work so they won’t see how they really are” πŸ™‚

  37. I think most that voted for the bike riding to work thing new it was going to tough. Maybe you should create a poll where all the options are just fun things for you next time?

  38. As a good rule of thumb it takes 3 weeks to get fit (doing 3+ exercises a week for 20-30 mins)

    However, it takes only 1-1.5 to get unfit again.

    And when I mean ‘fit’ I mean relating to you. For example, you might be 250lbs but if you walk (at a reasonable pace) or do light running for 20-30 mins (or bike etc) then you’ll be ‘fit’ in relation to how you were after 3 weeks.

    And folks, there’s nothing like feeling half dead when you start on day 1 and then 3 weeks later being able to breeze through the same exercise.

    And here’s a tip if you like the gym – DON’T make any session longer than 40 mins because otherwise you’ll find all sorts of excuses not to go. Somewhere between 20-40 mins is a sweet spot.

    Good luck everyone πŸ™‚

  39. You’ve inspired me. I rode my bike around the driveway! Think I’ll start a little slower than you (I’m older) by walking.

  40. TimDineen, I’m sure the GPS app would work to track your commute. It’s perfect for stuff like that. To handle having both phones, I bike in with a backpack that also holds my laptop, so I just slip a phone in the outer pocket of the backpack.

  41. Andy Poulton, Larsson’s first book is on my list. πŸ™‚

  42. “How exactly do you count the number of steps in a day?” That’s easy. πŸ™‚ Here’s the best pedometer I’ve found: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/my-favorite-pedometer-omron-hj-720itc/

    Dan London, I haven’t been in the infinity pool at the Googleplex yet. Maybe if I get some lessons I’ll feel comfortable enough, but not yet.

    Steve Thomas, I’ve read the normal level of Huxley. πŸ™‚

    Damian, not a bad idea to only include fun ideas in the next poll. πŸ™‚

  43. Try to read shorter books. 30 is possible. Book is book yes?:)

  44. I love the 30 day cycles of trying new things or breaking old habits. I do the no caffeine no alcohol at least once a year. Did 90 days no TV in 2002 and have not gone back since (except for superbowl and a few major sports events). I had similar problems biking to work, if there was a bike path (instead of road traffic) think I’d still do it. Not done the books in 30 days, I’m good to get 12-15 books read in 12 months. Congrats on the triathlon Matt, a great accomplishment.

  45. Sandor Dornbush

    Glad to hear you liked my tracks. Ashame about the bad route. Do you mind sharing?

  46. Andy, glad you’re enjoying Stieg Larsson. You’re not waiting for the translation of #3, but for the PR and sales machine of Big Publishing to squeeze every penny out of the first 2 books before they will release #3. I translated them all in 2006. The third wraps up the trilogy nicely, even though a series of 10 was planned. Sorry I never got to meet Stieg. See supporteva.com for more background info.

  47. Matt

    This is such a breath of fresh air, someone loving life, I reckon this could inspire loads of people who think they’re stuck in a rut in their ‘same ol’ job.

  48. You can eat more and are more hungry because your metabolism is speeding up. Now if you really want to shed the extra body weight you need to adopt an eating schedule where you eat 6 smaller meals throughout the day (as opposed to 3 huge meals hours apart) to really supercharge your metabolism. You’re basically telling your body “hey, you don’t have to store any calories from that last meal because I’m going to put fuel in you again in a couple hours, not 4-5 hours later. Go ahead and use those calories up.” Takes about 2-3 weeks for your metabolism to adapt to these changes but once it happens and you’re being active the LBs will fall off. Have fun with it!

  49. Matt, how does the battery hold with the motionxgps on 3g? Dead by the time you get to work?

  50. Try to read shorter books. 30 is possible. Book is book yes?:)

    Not when it’s the “light reading” from Airplane!

  51. I noticed the same things since I started to bike to work. Hopefully, 5 of the 7 km is into a forrest. Very joyful when the sun rises.

  52. I know the solution how to read faster.
    Matt, go to the fast reading school to take a course. After that itll be one book – 3 minutes. 30 books – 90 minutes.
    Biking to work… I got 100m to work and bike is useless…

  53. I think you must post a pic of your crappy bike (As said by you) πŸ˜‰

  54. One of the ways I found to get my 10K + steps per day is the Steelcase Walkstation.
    I was one of the first in California to get one almost 2 years ago and in addition to my regular
    workout I ad 3-6 miles a day while working on my computer.

  55. One more thing about getting all those books in each month.
    I use a service called Audible.com and I can download great books unabridged and listen to them while working out at the gym. Just finished a great book called “FREE” and it was
    free to download.

  56. Though in German you can find useful book recommendations on my website. Let me know what books you’ve read – maybe I’m going to change the subject of the upcoming article and write about one of “your” books instead! What do you think? πŸ˜‰

  57. 15 books in 30 days. Are you a speed reader? I wonder how large the books were.

    Why did you ride your bike to work? Was your Butler under the weather? πŸ˜‰

  58. Matt, I wanna see your bike. I am just curious to compare your bike with mine. Can you please post your bike’s snap somewhere on this post?

  59. M. James Maglio

    Biking Tips:

    1. You mention an old, crappy bike that doesn’t shift well. You will have a much more satisfying commute with a nice bike. A gentleman above mentioned a fixed gear bike if you live in a city without significant hills, but I’d suggest a single-speed free-wheel bike–basically a normal road bike sans gears. Because the chain is always lined up strait, and no weight from gears, and less friction etc, it’s more efficient than a many-geared bike for a casual commute. Also, you don’t have to worry about shifting; the standard gear is just fine unless you want to go *really fast* for some reason.

    2. Don’t ride on heavily congested roads! Or, if you do, at least ride on ones with bike lanes, or traffic and lights so heavy that you can easily keep up with traffic. Plan a slightly more scenic route, and you’ll like it much more.

    3. Flex your forearms, and bend your elbows! By pulling up on the handle bars as you ride, you make it easier to push down on the pedals, better distributing the work.

    4. Get some pedal clips! At the very least toe clips. They are immensely helpful; I’d argue that this is on par with keeping your tires inflated. I loathe riding a bike without clips even more than some clunky heavy thing with too many gears that don’t shift smoothly.

  60. Hey,

    About your bike… it sucks to have a crappy bike, but it’s not the end of the world. Like someone said, you can get it tuned up and the gears will/should shift normally again. You could even do it yourself, one of the easiest tweaks there is for a bike!

    Search for ‘indexing bike gears’ and you’ll find loads of videos on YouTube about it. There should just be a little barrel that’s located where the gear mechanism (on the rear wheel) and the gear cable meet. This adjusts the tension of the cable, which effects the shifting. If you adjust this either way and then experiment you’ll see it either get better or worse, and just keep going until you get it to shift smoothly all the way through the gears. Takes 5 minutes, but the videos will make it nice and clear.

  61. I bike to work every day and it does enable you to feast a little more, even when the bike was out of action I carried on walking to work, however unfortunateley there is no incentive to bike/walk to work perhaps I will try asking the boss….