Is Soy Bad for Men? It sure is!

This is not a random interesting topic I have decided to write about — I’ve had the privilege (sarcasm!) to experience the dangers of soy myself.

What Makes Soy Bad for Men?

Soy is a great little bean and has become very popular because of its health benefits. Overall, soy is a great addition to virtually any diet. However, the old adage “everything in moderation” cannot be more true for soy.

Soy, in small to medium doses, has been linked to improved cardiovascular health and weight loss, while providing healthy dietary fibre and protein (Dieticians of Canada) but large doses of soy products are another story.

Soy contains isoflavones, which are estrogen-like compounds derived from plants that, in large amounts, can increase estrogen in both men and women. It takes a fair bit of soy to produce noticeable effects, however it can be easy to reach those limits if you are unaware of the danger. Here’s where my person experience comes in.

See: Does Soy Milk Lower Testosterone?

You see, I decided about 4 months ago to make some major changes to my diet. I recently discovered I am lactose intolerant, so cow milk had to go. I easily replaced it with soy milk and loved it! I started drinking more than 2 cups of soy milk each day (which is already a moderate-high about of soy).

I then decided to fully jump on the soy wagon by purchasing soy protein powder and taking it several times a week before workouts. Protein powder is very concentrated, so my soy intake started going through the roof. It didn’t take long before I started noticing problems with my energy levels, alertness and muscle loss — aspects linked to an imbalance between testosterone and estrogen.

I had test after test performed but the test that finally shed light on my situation was a testosterone test, showing that my levels were below normal (not alarmingly low, but low). Thankfully, it seems like I caught the problem before it became pronounced — unlike this poor man.

If left unchecked, high soy intake can lead men to have fertility problems or even grow breasts!

Needless to say, I have not touched a single soy product since. As much as I like a good pair of breasts, I just don’t think they would suit me.
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Learn Something New in 2014 — 2013 Summary Post

Happy New Year! I want to take this moment to thank my subscribers and guests to my blog over this past year!

This post is my 165th, which is hard to believe. It certainly doesn’t feel like I have written that many articles. Pumping out posts week-after-week requires dedication — thankfully I have not yet lost the passion and I am certainly not running out of material to write about, with a backlog of draft posts waiting to go.

Throughout 2013, I made several changes to this blog including rebranding it “Learn Something New” and focusing more closely on “tips for life”. My goal for 2014 is to continue this trend and find great new technology, share tips for life and of course, the occasional movie review.

If you would like to join in on the fun and receive a weekly helpful article, subscribe here.

I am happy to be celebrating over 50,000 views so far and am looking forward to many more. Getting traffic to a blog is no easy task, as any blogger will tell you. The current threats I have to deal with are changes coming down the line from Google, making it harder for small-time bloggers to obtain organic traffic. I won’t get into the specifics but more than ever it will be important to get subscribers and work to obtain exposure on other blogs.

Thanks again to everyone reading up on my latest rants, reviews and tips!
I will wrap-up this post with a list of some of my favourite posts from 2013, in no particular order:

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iPhone Users Listen Up: Keyboard Shortcuts (Autofill) are a Lifesaver!

If you have yet to discover the iPhone’s keyboard shortcuts, you are about to have your mind blown. This function, tucked away in the settings, has two awesome functions: to create shortcuts for strings of text you frequently type, and to serve as a dictionary override. The second use is a best-kept secret, so be sure to read on.

Shortcuts function can be found in Settings > General > Keyboard > Shortcuts

Create Shortcuts for Frequently Typed Items

iPhone Shortcuts — Autofill

The primary use of iPhone shortcuts is as their name implies — shortcuts. Simply press the “+” button in the top right and enter the text that you frequently type as the “Phrase” and the shortcut for the autofill as the “Shortcut”. For example, you can enter your address as the phrase and have your email automatically filled in when you type in “myemail” if you set “myemail” as the shortcut (see image). This is particularly useful for those with long emails or for longer phrases like full postal addresses.

Other great uses of shortcuts are:

  • Addresses (“myaddress”)
  • Phone numbers (“mynumber”)
  • Stop texting me, you’re crazy! (“crazyex”)

Create Dictionary Overrides (Particularly Useful for Swear Words)

Do you find it super annoying that Apple tries to strip you of the colourful language you like to use? Worry no more! Simply add a phrase for the word that you don’t want to have autocorrected and leave the shortcut field blank. Voilà! Steve Jobs will no longer try to correct your exclamations to “Duck!”

Of course, this isn’t limited to swearing. If there are any words that you type that are frequently “corrected”, incorrectly, simply add them to your list of shortcuts.

Have you been using the iPhone’s keyboard shortcuts? If so, what are some of the shortcuts you have created?

Bad Customer Service? Don’t Take No for an Answer!

It seems that everyone, except the customer service providers themselves, knows that customer service is terrible these days. Cable companies, telecom monopolies and consumer electronic companies have the worst customer service but the problem exists for the majority of consumer-facing businesses.

So what can you do about bad customer service? For starters, don’t take no for an answer!

I have earned a reputation amongst those who know me for my ability to get what I want and my strategy is simple: if you have been legitimately wronged or have received terrible customer service, pull out your guns and get ready to do battle. Here is a quick breakdown of my top secret “process”:

  1. Determine whether or not the fight is worth it. You will certainly cost yourself some time so make sure you are fighting for something more than $5. Fighting on principle may be acceptable.
  2. Determine your “leverage” or the amount you were “harmed”. The more arguments you have the better your chances of getting what you want. Only one legitimate argument should be necessary to win.
  3. Consider the amount you stand to gain and convert it to an hourly wage for motivation. Yes, it sucks to fight with agents on the phone for an hour, but if it nets you $100, then it was a very good use of your time ($100/hr “wage”)
    • My personal best is 8 month’s of free internet because they missed several setup appointments over 2 weeks (It took over an hour to get what I requested but it saved my student household approx. $800)
  4. Explain your situation to the agent in a clear and concise manner, outlining your arguments. Wait for them to offer you something and if they do not, make a specific request (1 month free, a refund etc.) Prepare for a “no”.
  5. If you get a “no”, quickly reiterate your arguments and stand your ground.
  6. If you still get a no, immediately request to speak to a manager. No need to waste much time with a useless rep.
  7. If they say “sure, but the manager will tell you the same thing”, ignore the rep and request to speak to the manager.
  8. Repeat your arguments to the manager. This is where things get intense. Do not take no for an answer and sternly request retribution/reimbursement etc.
  9. Still getting a no? Grow a pair and dig-in! Now’s not the time to let up.
  10. Remember, there is always someone that can help you, even if the rep and manager say that they can’t. Ask to speak with someone who can help you if the manager won’t. Many companies have separate teams to deal with persistent customers. Reaching them is your end goal if the manager is useless.
  11. Stress that they are wasting your time as well as their own and costing the company money by spending so much time with you on the phone. Threaten to cancel your services, if necessary. Use social media as leverage (last resort).
  12. Get what you want!

Going through this process takes practice but one thing is for sure, you will certainly show weakness if you are not dedicated to getting what you want. If you’re not truly upset, do not follow this process and live with the situation. If you are truly upset, use it! I have a near perfect record in dealing with customer service departments simply because I am persistent, offer coherent arguments, express real pain and ask for specific solutions.

Companies on the customer service shit-list:

  • GoodLife Fitness – see GoodLife Fitness Sucks
  • Warrior Dash (Red Frog Events)
  • Microsoft Store
  • Bell, historically. Though they have improved greatly
  • Dell

The bottom line is, bad customer service has unfortunately become the norm, forcing you to fight for what they deserve. Whatever you do, don’t take no for an answer.

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Teach Your Children the Most Important Language: Code

Parent’s always want the best for their children; whether it is private school, language immersion or special extracurricular activities. In Canada, for example, French immersion is very common to ensure that children grow up to be bilingual.

Being bilingual has many advantages, particularly for countries with multiple primary languages like Canada, but these advantages pale in comparison to the advantages of learning the global language of code.

Essays and literature are not translated internationally easily, unlike code. A well-written program or application can be used globally with only small modifications to the interface. More importantly, however, because of the increased prevalence of technology, those that know how to code will find success more readily in today’s world than those that do not.

Learning to code should become a priority, and education should begin at a very young age. According to J. Paul Gibson, a computer scientist at the University of Ireland, “Children aged from 5-11 have so much potential for learning about algorithms and computation that it would be a shame to wait until they are teenagers before we teach them the foundations”. Gibson found that older students (18 or 19 years old) struggled to learn the concepts of programming compared to much younger students. This applies to technology-use in general, not just programming.

Teach your children how to code and use technology!

Gibson’s insights may seem obvious to some  — that people learn things easier, and more wholly, as children — but to many it is still frowned upon to introduce children to technology at a young age. There is a delicate balance between allowing your children to learn technology, and allowing them to get lost in it, but you absolutely have to try. I would argue that it is better to have your children “get lost” in technology then for them to never “find it”.

The argument is simple:

  • Technology is becoming a very big part of everyday life, globally
  • Knowing how to interact with technology, including learning to code, is important to play a role in the new world economy as a result of this global transformation
  • Coding is much easier to learn as children
  • Therefore, teach your children how to code and use technology!

North America is already falling behind when it comes to producing strong programmers, mathematicians and scientists. Programming, like education in general, is still viewed as “nerdy”, so many students avoid the subject. The reality is that, nerdy or not, the technology sector produces some of the most lucrative careers — much better than flipping burgers for the rest of your life.

Of course, parents always have to balance their children’s interaction with technology with other activities like sports, social activities and outdoor fun, but introducing technology and coding to children early is vital to their success in the ever-changing world of technology.

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Best RSS Reader / News Feed: Feedly Review

There was a time, eons ago, when people got all of their news from two primary sources: newspapers and television. Although I remember that time, the world had already moved on by the time I was an adult and I do not miss it.

These days, there are interesting articles spread out across thousands of blogs and sites across the internet.

The question is: how do you consolidate your favourite news sources for daily consumption?

The answer is: Feedly!

Feedly is an RSS-reader, a type of news aggregator, that uses the RSS web feed standard. Don’t be scared by the tech-speak, Feedly is very easy to use. Simply install the addon and search for your favourite sites and blogs that support RSS (most do) and Feedly will automatically check those sites for new content and present them to you in a visually appealing way.

You can think of it as your own personal newspaper / magazine for the web and since you don’t need to visit those sites manually anymore, it can help you clean up that pile of bookmarks you have in your browser.

You don’t have to follow strictly news sources, of course. I follow a variety of content such as:

  • Blogs (Science, Technology, Business, Sports etc.)
  • Web Comics (Perfect for lunch breaks)
  • News (Science, Technology, Business etc.)

Feedly is available across devices (desktop, Android, iOS) and automatically keeps everything in sync. It’s perfect for reading up during lunch or digesting articles on your phone whenever you have some downtime. I swear by it.

I have been using Feedly for several years now and, although I have tried other RSS-readers, I have always stuck with Feedly because it is simple, convenient and it just works. Feedly allows you to search for sources directly from their search bar — for example, typing in “Wired” to automatically pull up any Wired magazine site and blog feeds  — as well as allowing you to manually add RSS feeds.

For those new to RSS, adding feeds manually, while not necessary in most cases, is very easy. Simply visit your favourite site or blog, look for an RSS icon or text, and copy and paste the feed URL that typically looks something like:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/smbc-comics/PvLb?format=xml

RSS feed button

You may have to click through a secondary FeedBurner page if the feed was setup that way and click “View feed XML”. To keep it simple, however, just search using Feedly’s search box and you should be able to immediately add all but the most obscure feeds.

If you aren’t already a devoted Feedly fan like me, give it a shout and let me know what you think!

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How to Use Google Maps to Map a Run

Everyone uses Google Maps. It is one of the most pervasive applications out there for finding your way around. What many people don’t know is that Google Maps can be used not just for mapping car and transit routes but can also be used for mapping bike trails and running courses.

There are ways to use Google Maps to map a run itself, however, I found the easiest way to accomplish this was to use a tool called Google Map Pedometer. Google Map Pedometer extends Google Maps to make it very easy to map a route. I’ll take you through the steps:

  1. Type in a location on the location bar to get to the area you want to create a route for.
  2. Double click to add a pointer to the map where you would like to begin your route.
  3. Double click to add another point further on in your route.
  4. You can undo the last point you placed or reset the whole route altogether, if you make a mistake.
  5. You can then opt to save your route.

That’s it! It is super simple and intuitive. Other important things to note is that it automatically keeps track of the distance you have mapped in either miles or kilometers; perfect for map out a 5KM run or a half marathon if you so choose.

One thing that I found was particularly impressive (just a feature of Google Maps, I presume) is the ability to plot a route through bike paths and trails as well as roads (see the main blog post image). Google Maps is now very impressive for mapping areas other than roads too.

It is strange that Google hasn’t developed these tools yet given how useful they are. Then again, I suppose Google has other things to worry about — like mapping the globe. No big deal.

Give it a try. I know it will personally be my go-to site for any running routes I create going forward. Did you find it easy to use?

Map Pedometer | http://www.mappedometer.com/

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