Planet Damian

February 03, 2016

Christof Damian


As I have mentioned in my New Year Resolutions 2016 post I have started doing yoga.

The main reasons for this are:

The meditation part
Some of the sessions are so relaxed that you fall asleep and even if your mind is racing at the beginning of a practice, after a few minutes you get distracted by doing stuff. In that aspect it is like cycling for me, getting out of your head and into your body. Breathing exercises are a big part of this.

The stretching bit
Yoga is mostly about getting into positions your body doesn't want to be in. At least my body doesn't want to be twisted like that.
Sitting on my desk most of the day and then sitting on the bicycle a bit more has resulted in myself being very inflexible. The result of this is a bad back and problems with all kind of joints.
I did some physiotherapy for my back a long time ago and when I broke my collarbone. The exercises are very similar to some yoga poses. So I am just going to pretend that they work.

The workout stuff
This I just discovered after a few practices. Apparently I should have some muscles I didn't know about. I am mostly talking about the mystical core one hears about so much.

Disclaimer: I am the first to admit that I was not a big fan of yoga. I saw it as something people do that don't want to do a proper sport and can be done lying down. And it isn't about yoga, you can have the same result with other sports. But the Kata style helps, it gives you a pattern to adhere to.

So how did I start? On YouTube obviously. Because I am not quite up to embarrassing myself in front of a group of pros.

One of the cycling channels I am subscribed to had some Yoga For Cyclists videos and it is a good starting point.
It also helps that it shows a few inflexible guys in sweatpants trying to keep up with a yoga teacher.

This got me going and after a few other videos I got myself a mat and practised once in a while.

For the New Year Resolutions I picked a video series which is very easy and very chilled (at times too chilled), that provided a video for every day of January. I haven't managed to keep up, I am on 22 of 30 now. There are bits with mantras and affirmation I choose to ignore.


I am already noticing a slight improvement in flexibility and the position of my shoulders when on the road bike.

But it is early days and lets see if I can keep it up.

by Christof Damian ( at February 03, 2016 10:00 PM

January 04, 2016

Christof Damian

New Year Resolutions 2016

It's that time of the year, when everyone makes empty promises to themselves. And I don't want to skip this important tradition. The last one I did was in 2012, which seems like a long time ago.

Usually these are along the lines of sporty stuff or loosing weight. I have already stopped drinking alcohol and coffee end of last year and I am doing two hours of activity (as tracked by google fit) already. And nobody will stop me cycling too much anyway.

There are also some things I promise I won't do this year: going vegan, stop gluten intake or low-carb.

Still, some of these might be unexpected.

Yoga Everyday

I have started this end of last year, mostly for the relaxing aspect. I might seem quite chilled, but there seems to be some manic person inside that needs to be dealt with. Additionally I want to have some more flexibility to counteract all the time spend sitting in front of computers or on the bicycle.

Cycling Mini Adventures 

I cycle a lot, but usually I am doing the roads around Barcelona and repeat the same ones quite often. In 2016 I want to put more effort on discovering new roads and doing road trips to other places. Some of these will be sportives, others just short trips. I would love to see more of the Pyrenees and maybe Majorca. I also never been to the Alps. 

So far I have in the calendar:
  • GFNY Barcelona
  • Velothon Stuttgart
  • Gran Fondo Mussarra
  • Visiting Tour de France in Andorra

Draw something every day

For relaxing and to learn a new skill. I used to scribble a lot when I was young, but my first computer put a stop to this. Now I am putting a use to all my Moleskins and draw something every day. The goal is to be able to draw a recognisable person and face by the end of the year. This will be comic style and not overly realistic. 
No, I am not publishing what I have done already. 

Blog once a month

This seems to be a low target, but judging by three posts last year it might not be. 
But this is the first one, so I can relax for the rest of the month! 

12 Books

I have no idea how I am going to find the time. There is just not enough time left in the day where I can sit down and not be interrupted. But I have set my goal on goodreads, and will see how it goes. 
I am happy about any suggestions, especially sci-fi or crime novels. Non fiction books have to be extremely good to convince me.
Audio-books don't count, it is just not the same. 

Some of these commitments mean that I will have to reduce time in other areas, unsubscribing from podcasts is the first step.

Have a happy new year everyone!

by Christof Damian ( at January 04, 2016 01:19 PM

December 31, 2015

Christof Damian

Bloomsky Review

UPDATE: I posted a followup to this, with information about the new software and API and now highly recommend the Bloomsky Station

The Bloomsky "Weather Camera" is a weather station with built-in camera.

I first saw it on a Kickstarter Campaign, which was pretty successful. I snapped one of the early birds deals and later added a solar panel.
Expected delivery was December 2014 (ha!), it turned up in August 2015. But this is already better than some other campaigns. They had some problems to get the CE approval for Europe, so that explained some of the delay.

It is advertised as "5-in-1 weather station + HD camera that captures real-time weather data + sky image at your location. Next Generation Weather Network.".

mounted with solar panel
The hardware is really nice designed, from the station itself, the solar panel and even the stake/brace to put it up somewhere. I am glad I got the solar panel, it means I do not need any cables coming from the station and at the moment it seems to function really well and never drop below 50% charge, which might change in winter.

When it arrives you have to set it up with a Android or iOS app, to connect it to your wireless network. The app uses wifi itself, so there is no kind of bluetooth support. I had lots of problems with the Android app at the time, because it was buggy and the setup process is not very reliable. In the end I borrowed an iPhone and after a few tries and reboots of the station it worked in the end.

The mobile app is also the only way you can access the station, it shows the current data and photo and you can view time-lapses from the five previous days. 
It also tries to be some kind of social weather network, where you can browse, like and follow other Bloomsky stations.

all you get out of it,
and watermarked

Now the bad part: this is not a weather station and it isn't a web cam either. 
A weather station should give you access to historical values for the sensed metrics (temperature, pressure, rain, uv and humidity). 
And a web cam should do the same and has to be available on the net.  I can't even share a web address with my friends to show them the view of the camera, they have to install this mobile app first.

There is no API either, nobody will be able to add these features in the near future. All data is uploaded from the station to Bloomsky servers and fetched from there by the app. If the company goes bust, which is quite likely for a start-up, then the whole hardware will be a useless brick. 

To summarize: at the moment this is a nice toy with brilliant hardware and rubbish software.

by Christof Damian ( at December 31, 2015 01:21 PM

Bloomsky Review Update: Much better

In September I published a review of the Bloomsky Weather Station, which I summarized with "a nice toy with brilliant hardware and rubbish software.".

My main complaint was that it was impossible to share an URL of the station and to get to the data, photos and images in any way.

Today all of this has changed.

Now there is a map with all the stations, and each station has it's own URL like mine for example. It includes the current data and webcam image and last timelapse.

This will already make most people happy, but they didn't stop there. Now every user has his own private dashboard with access to previous timelapses and historical data.

historical data
The historical data gives you nice graphs for the available period and also has a table view with the detailed information.
The feedback of the graphs can be a bit slow especially if you choose a large time span, but it does look really pretty and gives you a quick overview about the weather changes in a longer time frame.

The timelapses view is straight forward, you can see a calendar with the available timelapses and you can download the one from the selected date. No bulk download yet as far as I can see.

And finally, for people who want to have even better access to this and want to integrate it into their environment, there is now an IFTTT channel and an API.

I haven't played with the API yet, but I have created two IFTTT recipes for my station: one uploads the latest timelapse to google drive (which I did manually from the app previously) and a second one, which copies all data into a google spreadsheet, this was not possible before.

So, to conclude: the software has caught up with the hardware and I now can highly recommend the Bloomsky Station for anyone interested in a webcam / weather station combination.

by Christof Damian ( at December 31, 2015 01:16 PM

January 02, 2015

Christof Damian

A year of cycling

For some reason this year turned out to be a year with a lot of time spend on bicycles. While I have been cycling more since I changed to a company which allowed me to park my bicycle in the office, this year I increased this even more. One part of this has definitely be Strava, which allows me to track my riding and improvements (or not) over time.

Some numbers for 2014, 2013 in brackets:

Rides: 340 (276)
Distance: 7434 km (3311 km)
Elevation: 127496 m (66689 m)
Time: 411 hours (209 hours)

Rides on the mountain bike stayed the same at about 900 km, but rides on the road tripled. A good reason to finally buy a road bike.

I also participated in my first ever race, just a hill climb organised by a local bike cafe, but still pretty fun and exciting.

Another fun part of Strava are the Challenges, which take a random set goal and allow everyone globally kill themselves trying to finish them. These year I managed to finish some of them, the most difficult one being the Rapha Rising 8800m elevation in 8 days, others were easy, but all were fun.

I also spend a ridiculous amount of money on bike toys, but mostly on clothing. On the bicycles themselves I only replaced a few chains, cassettes, bottom brackets, tyres and tubes. 

For 2015 I have subscribed to three Sportives / Gran Fondos, in the hope that my new bike arrives before the first one of these.
I also want to find a higher hill to climb than my current record (974 m), probably in the Pyrenees and maybe ride somewhere outside of Catalunya or even Spain.

by Christof Damian ( at January 02, 2015 03:26 PM