Outlook Online…You had me at hello.

Anyone who has worked with me for longer than a day knows how much I deplore email as a way to conduct business. It is a platform abused by many as a way to shirk responsibility for things they should just take care of themselves or to excuse themselves from helping at all. “If I just +Erik on this email it will serve in-place of a nice, pleasant phone call where I explain the context of the 40 pages of replies and forwards that linger just below my convenient addition of Erik to the ‘thread.'” Then when that +Erik email gets lost in the 100s of properly formatted, contextual emails that I actually read, the responsibility shirker is upset that I didn’t reply. Not because I didn’t want to but mainly because it looked unimportant based on the effort you put into it.

Geez, what were we even here to talk about? I know, sorry; I didn’t mean to get us so worked up.

We are here to talk about Outlook Online.

If your company or yourself are a subscriber to Office 365 services on Microsoft, I feel the email best interface you can get right now, application or web based, is hands-down, outlook.office.com (the new Outlook online interface.)

Why is this? For me, one reason, the search engine.

Because I do not organize email into folders but rather just send everything to “Archive,” having a great search function on that archive folder is vital to finding things I worked on last year and need to produce for some obscure request in a +Erik email. The genius behind the search function is that when you search, you are not nailing your laptop/desktop’s CPU to the cross to find that awesome-marketing-final.pptx from Karen. When you search through the Outlook Online interface, the results are damn near instant and the recommendation engine normally finds what I want and just puts it at the top.

A slight runner up in the “Reasons Outlook Online is awesome” category are the keyboard shortcuts. Microsoft has demonstrated great user sensing by adding the keyboard shortcuts from your other favorite online email experiences, including Gmail. So if you are like me and spam the ever-living hell out of “E” in gMail (or GMail? or Gmail?), you will be pleased to find out this works in Outlook Online as well.

Is Outlook Onilne as feature rich as a Windows Outlook App? Maybe not but I have not found a need to launch a Windows version of Outlook since using the online interface.

YMMV.

Zwift Together: Join a Zwift Meetup and Workout at the Same Time (Zoom for Extra Credit.)

I am writing this article in support of my Triathlon team Big Pistachio and our awesome coach, Erin Truslow. If you are training for any sort of endurance sport, Erin can get you across the finish line.

Welcome to the great indoors! So you have Zwift setup and you want to take your workout to the next level by joining some friends? Great! Let’s go over the steps to ensure you do it in the right order.

First lets cover the of how you can make both a Zwift Meetup and Workout happen at the same time. Skip ahead if you have done some of these steps.

  • Allocate 20 minutes of setup and troubleshooting time before the ride starts. Seriously, do this well ahead of your event until you get the hang of it.
  • Download the Zwift Companion App. The Companion App is the easiest way to navigate through some of the elements of the Zwift environment. We are going to use the Companion App to join the Meetup: Android App iPhone App
  • Login to the Companion App and open the events screen. This is where you will see any meetups your friends (maybe Erin Truslow) have invited you to. You should accept your friends invites ahead of time if there is a chance you might make it. Do this by tapping the event request or via the events page. When you have the meetup screen in front of you tap –> “GOING“. Doing this will ensure Zwift prompts you to join the meetup about 5 minutes before it starts.
Screenshot Credit: Zwiftinsider.com
Screenshot Credit: Zwiftinsider.com
  • Great you have accepted the meetup! If it is almost time for your meetup, get on your bike and get logged into Zwift.
  • If you haven’t paid attention until now, please pay full attention. If you cannot afford to pay attention, please ask your friends to help you. 😀
  • You will join the Meetup BEFORE you select your workout for the day. That’s right; the order of operations here is: wait for Zwift to prompt you to join the Meetup, then we will choose your workout. If you are Zwifting before the meetup starts, don’t worry just choose a map and a route and get to Zwifting. Zwift will prompt you to join the meetup. DO NOT SELECT YOUR WORKOUT YET.
  • Once you are in the Meetup your avatar will look like it’s on a smart trainer like this image below.
Ride With Friends! All About Meetups in Zwift Companion | Zwift Insider
Image Credit: Zwiftinsider.com
  • Now you will pick your workout! Or if you just want to free ride you don’t need to do anything. You will just ride with the group.
  • Navigate to the Workout Menu in game by pressing E if you are on a computer or by navigating to Menu –> Workouts; then pick your workout!
Zwift Releases The Biggest Expansion to Watopia Yet: Alpe du Zwift | SMART Bike Trainers
Image Credit: smartbiketrainers.com
  • Once you select your workout, go back to the main riding screen where your avatar is sitting on the trainer in place, waiting for the meetup to start.
  • Now you’re all set! Get ready to ride with your buds and do your workout at the same time.

Extra Credit: Go download the Zoom app and pop in some headphones to your phone or computer. It is recommended to use your phone with Zoom if you can manage it; it keeps the audio separated so you can hear your friends when you ride. Otherwise you will hear the Zwift environment sound.

You can lower the environment sound in the in-game menu by going to Settings if you are using your computer for both Zwift and Zoom.

Source: https://zwiftinsider.com/zwift-meetup-group-workouts/

Day 23 of SARS-CoV-2 Isolation

Slept in. Made Progress Driveway blend Coffee. Goofed off till noon. Checked on my wife who was writing a paper for O-Chem. Went on a run. Contemplated what friendships mean because I haven’t seen any in a while. Talked to my Coach; she listens and coaches outside of sports also. Mowed the yard since it had been a couple of weeks. Lots of clippings; overflowed the compost container. Dinner made by Cassandra: Crispy salmon, roasted potatoes with a honey mustard vinegar sauce, and kale chips. Late evening walk.

Tomorrow, work resumes. Many video conferences. Cassandra goes back to the ICU. Uncertain if SARS-CoV-2 patients will be there.

Occupy All Streets

SARS-CoV-2 and isolation has created an interesting dynamic in my neighborhood: there are at least three-fold more people on the streets, riding bikes or taking walks. Makes sense when there aren’t many places to go in our cars. Our neighborhoods are becoming our hike and bike trails and I would argue it is long over due.

The roads in our neighborhoods have low speed limits for a reason. We should all be out there occupying space and exerting our right to walk, run, and bike, even in the road. Why? Most areas in Austin do not have a consistent policy when it comes to sidewalks. Many times the only place you can be is literally in the road.

Were the conditions in society different, some might argue this is a danger. I argue the roads in our neighborhoods have always been intended for this purpose and cars should be yielding to pedestrians at all times when not on major arterial roads. This would be defined as any road with a speed limit of 30 miles per hour or less.

If you haven’t already, get out there and walk on your roads. Use caution of course and be courteous to your neighbors who are also walking and driving. This is not an excuse to be rude. However, the point is, low-speed neighborhood roads are intended for you to use. Take up that space and ask your friends on the road to slow down as they roll by.

When life goes back to normal, keep doing it. Be safe and have fun even if you can’t drive to the park right now.

Putting Ideas on Paper

I read somewhere the best way to start writing is to just write. So that’s what’s up. Just ideas on a virtual canvas. I have no idea where this will go and fully expect to look back in about 5 years and think this was a dumb idea.

But I do not have a journal anywhere else; maybe one day someone will want to read about what happened in my life. Or maybe I will come back to this one day and wonder what happened to my life? Where did the time go?

Also, if you are my wife reading this don’t come complain to me that this sounds overly braggy or silly. 🙂 That’s the idea. But then again, you’re allowed to call me out on bullsh; just go easy on me.

Where are we at today? Currently it is day 23 of social distancing due to SARS-CoV-2. At the moment New York is paying the highest price. Austin, Texas has not been as affected…yet. I feel our social distancing efforts are working and the city’s decision to cancel SXSW this year was retrospectively a genius decision. (Who deserves credit for that? Mayor Adler?)

I will try to document more about our experience so far as I go along. Additionally, look for retrospectives on big life events. The main driver for this was my intention to document my Ironman from last November. That should be a long post hopefully.

Mostly, this journal will be for me. If you don’t find any use for it then sorry not sorry. ❤

Be well.