If you were directed to this site via one of my self-published works (there are some few copies still floating around with the link), the focus of this site has since changed.

Here I still write about writing, and include story prompts and the occasional book review (disclaimer, Amazon and Smashwords affiliate links included where relevant), along with assorted random topics. I am slowly trying to shift the focus towards those reviews and away from the random topics.
The sister site, Pioneers of the Shattered Waters, now bears the focus of my own stories, up to and including Nation Novel Writing Month competition data.

More details on this change can be found on the relevant page, “Migrating Certain Posts

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Finally beginning my fitness goals anew with the New Year

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Just a couple of weeks late. 😉

Or one week late if we go by last year’s attempted “each update is for the week before” system.

 

Speaking of that attempted system, I don’t think I’ll be counting the weeks this year. If I’d actually remembered to update every single week it would’ve been fine, but there were enough delays due to procrastination and plain ol’ forgetfulness that it became entirely too cumbersome to keep track of which number week I was updating for, and this time I’m hedging on the chance that I’ll have the same problem by deciding in advance that I simply can’t make myself care.

Knowing me, if for any reason I change my mind, it’ll probably be late enough in the year that it just won’t be worth the effort to correct.

 

But meanwhile I do have more specific plans moving forward. Case in point, I’m going to add some of the Wii Fit fitness games to the ranks of “unrecordable” gameplay.

Oh, I won’t stop including it in my channel (when it comes up on the randomizer or monthly test), but I want to start doing weekly fitness tests instead of just the uploaded monthly, as well as doing a few of the activities and difficulty levels I’ve already hit 4 stars in.

I’m mentioning it here, despite the lack of those uploads, for two simple reasons: one is to warn you in advance that there will inevitably be inconsistent details from one video to the next (’tis why I’d only do the games that I’ve already hit 4 stars for but I have far less control over the fitness tests).

The other is to point out that this plan has less to do with exercise and more to do with experimenting my lighting options–I’m hoping my color-change LED won’t make me look as washed out as whatever I had installed in the ceiling before but I’m still suffering from standing almost directly underneath it… at least so far as the Wii’s own built-in camera is concerned. Plus I’ve also tossed a stand-alone light under my desk to avoid leaving my lower body in too much shadow for the workouts. Using the Wii more often gives me an easy way to try out different colors and brightness until I find something that I think works without spamming videos that may not be as upload-worthy as I’d like.

 

In fact, I first tried the light-under-the-desk option while taking my first “before” photos for the year:

 

These photos came, not from my phone as did last year’s, but from my new GoPro, and I can already see changes I may want to make to the process.

One such change I knew about before taking the photos: I’d like to dig out my GoPro remote and get it connected, as well as invest in the flip-up display so I can see that the camera is aimed where I want it to be. (I used the phone app plus burst mode to compensate for both issues, but tapping and then quickly moving into the proper position was awkward at best; I suspect setting a timer would be the same way.) I want the display for other types of videos as well–pretty much for any reason I might need the camera pointed at me–but I’m trying not to spend a lot of money for a while yet….

Another change, though, is to see what resolution et cetera settings are available when taking photos in this manner… for consistency’s sake, I’d just as soon not have to crop the photos like I did here each time after I take them, so I need to look for a setting that lets me focus on that narrow strip in the middle of my room the way my phone does. (On the plus side, the curtain makes for a really good “crop to this point” dividing line… even if the slant does make it hard to crop in exactly the same spot each time.)

But as to the light under the desk, hard to say how much it contributed to a better view of my legs and how much was the fact that I wasn’t wearing dark full-body pajamas for these photos, but I think I’m going to continue this method for now.

 

I’m also trying to decide on a more regular upload schedule. From my side of things, my work schedule means I’d still only make videos one or two days a week, but the change from the 360 to the Hero 9-as-webcam means I don’t have to wait nearly as long for everything to render so I could record a whole lot more in one day while still getting things edited faster. And scheduling when I upload based on what fitness device I’m using may make things more predictable for any viewers who are only interested in specific gameplay options.

While my biggest problem with committing to a schedule is, well, commitment, I’m kind of leaning towards doing all of my devices in those one or two days but uploading different days according to which device I used. E.g. if I’m starting the week’s workouts with Ring Fit Adventure’s Adventure Mode, that should be my “Monday” upload, then I pick (and keep) a specific order in which I play the other devices the rest of the day while using my randomizer to pick the specific workout, uploading each of those videos in the pre-selected order Tues through Thurs, and finish off with uploading insert-VR-campaign-mode-here on Friday.  Obviously this depends on me actually doing multiple workouts as planned and remembering to edit and upload in a timely manner.

 

Finally (for now), there is the matter of how to actually record the VR gameplay. Wii Fit and Ring Fit both go to my computer via a capture card, the Stealth Board supports wireless screen mirroring direct from my phone… but my only options for VR are the completely soundless cast-to-browser or streaming through the likes of a Chromecast.

So at some point I’m going to try connecting my Chromecast to that capture card, see if that actually works the way I want it to. Of course, when I originally decided I’d try this I’d completely overlooked the fact that the HDMI on the Chromecast and capture card are both male ends… so I had to remember to buy a cheap HDMI coupler just to find out if this would even work. (I’m not fond of the “plug in even more things” approach, so it’s too bad there’s no easy way to use my computer as a Chromecast receiver without needing the actual physical device. Supposedly there is, or was a few years ago, some official Google-owned app for the Chrome browser but I keep getting a whole lot of “page not found” results now that I’d actually have a use for it.)

 

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2021 Year in Review and 2022 Goals

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And with my first update for 2022, let’s see how I did.

 

First we have the “normal” monthly update of showcasing what exercise I’ve done over the past week and before-and-after pictures for the month:

Need to dig out the remote for my GoPro so I can start doing before-and-after pics with that.

 

Here we have two different attempts at what is essentially the same gameplay (the Wii Fit fitness test):

Good lord I look seriously washed out! At least on the Wii Fit’s camera–the GoPro ironically looks the best on the grounds that it’s simply less sensitive to light sources than some of the other options I’d been using like my phone. (Ironic because GoPros allegedly do not like artificial and low-light situations due to smaller light sensors than normal cameras.) Anybody want to recommend a better light bulb? I don’t have the space (yet) for studio lights and such so I’m kind of limited to whatever works in that overhead ceiling light, which, from what I’m reading, is a terrible idea in part because I’m almost directly underneath it. (I wonder how well my Misfit Bolt would work in place of a normal light bulb…. Or if it would get way too hot for the purpose. Then again I have no idea what wattage the light fixture is rated for so that might not be a good idea. Actually the light fixture is rated for 60w max, and the led color-change bulb is a “60w equivalent,” so I should be good; just need to play with the settings to see how well it really works for my eyes and the cameras alike, and maybe one day replace that globe with something else–maybe I can even find a shade that will counteract the “I’m standing almost directly beneath it” part without making the room too dark.)

Anyway, the reason for the repeat test (besides playing around with cropping to avoid so much empty space) is because I started off the year using my new GoPro as a webcam instead of using, well, my webcam as a webcam. Except I hadn’t done enough research and didn’t realize that the GoPro-as-webcam setup does not yet support the use of the GoPro’s built-in microphone… so I was yammering away in that first video with not a single sound from anything besides the game ever finding its way to the finished product.

In the second video I used my Razer Stargazer webcam in lieu of a microphone (one of these days I may need to actually buy a microphone but for the time being I’m trying not to add yet more equipment to my desk), with the only problem being that the GoPro’s footage and the Razer’s audio appear to be out of a sync. Looking at preview mode it looks like that’s also a problem on GoPro’s end–though I’m pretty sure I had the same problem when using the Razer for full webcam function–but I’ll still need to play around with OBS’s settings to see if I can persuade everything to run at the same time. (I mean, the heart rate monitor failing to update is a problem as well, but that looks more like a glitch than something that involves figuring out which setting to change.)

 

I finished out the first Season of Zombies Run as of the first week of January.

Weather depending I’m going to see if I can unlock the remaining Radio Abel clips for the season without needing to replay missions, and there’s another homefront-eseque New Adventure (aboard a pirate ship!) on the way, but otherwise I’m taking a hiatus from the app with plans to begin season 2 when the roads are dry and not splits-inducing.

Someone suggested I wear snow spikes on my shoes, but honestly I think I’d prefer to use the time to do my indoor workouts, or get started on adding horror and other non-fitness games to my channel, or even continue to ignore tackle the backlog for my other channels or my writing.

 

And finally for the monthly update, there is of course the weight change… such that it is.

 

Now that the monthly stuff is done, let’s see how I did with my yearly goals. I’d made a lot of “New Year’s Resolutions” for 2021, did I actually manage to make any?

(Y’all saw that coming, right? Especially with all the technical and not-so-technical delays in getting my games recorded.)

 

Anyway:

Last year’s goal of having $5,000 in my bank. Not even close.

I thought I managed to come close even after the annual “I can’t believe I spent that much money” shopping season was over but I didn’t factor in actually paying the credit card bill when I came to that conclusion. I suppose technically the fact that I had more before the end of the year and it only dropped like a rock come January means I still “came close” but not close enough for practical use; I really need to watch my spending in the coming months if I want to continue avoiding interest on my card.

This year’s goal: $7500.

Harder yet for two reasons. One, obviously, the increased dollar amount. The other is the fact that student loan payments are kicking back in after the pandemic delays, and, while I’m still benefiting from the “no interest” side of that equation I have no idea if I’m eligible for the related deferment (what’s an “account beginning with e?”) or if I’m stuck with the same monthly bill I had before the pandemic. Regardless I ought to be paying it and not keep putting it off–nothing short of absolute loan forgiveness will change the fact that I owe that money and interest or no interest “putting it off” just means it’ll take longer to be done with it.

But the increased goal has a reason behind it. While last year’s goal existed solely as a flat dollar amount, this goal is based on wanting to be able to buy a gaming laptop by Christmas. (A way to quantify the “I need to stop spending money” goal besides just saying I need to stop spending money.) And price changes and new models depending, this goal would give me enough money to buy the specific one I’m looking at without wiping out my savings to do so… more to the point, from a “quantifiable goal” perspective it would almost give me enough money to buy a second one. (Yes, the one I’m looking at is that expensive. Alienware, VR ready, and it’s 4k, and I haven’t even started looking at the customization options, but because it’s a laptop it’ll be a lot easier on the cables and desk space than getting another desktop with similar specs.) And if I don’t reach that goal, or if I settle for a less expensive model, well… having more money saved towards it can never be a bad thing.

 

Last year’s goal: the YouTube backlog.

Barely touched it. I got another book-unboxing video uploaded, mostly for decluttering purposes–I figured the sooner I got certain videos uploaded the sooner I could get rid of relevant documents that came with the books to be unboxed–but otherwise the backlog is still waiting for me to do more than organize clips into relevant folders.

This year’s goal: same.

 

Last year’s goal: get in shape.

Well, technically I’ve worked towards this one. I haven’t managed the “lose 10 pounds in a year” objective (though you can see above I’ve lost a little), but I’m making somewhat noticeable headway in other areas… and frankly, the “other areas” are the most important part of it, weight just happens to be the most easily measurable. Started the year with 36 waistline pants all around (casual jeans, shorts, work pants) and ended the year with 34, my shirts fit differently, and my Woxers are loose enough that I went and bought a 3-pack of mediums (I’ve been wearing large) in the hopes of finding out that this is an “inches lost” change on my part and not just them getting stretched from use.

Bras, unfortunately, are not as easy to check without a company that does fittings; I’m almost wondering if I should give ThirdLove another try just to to start adding brand consistency to cope with the lack of actual an actual standard in sizes. I certainly liked the coverage they offered better than anything I can find in cheaper brands….

Oh, and speaking of shirts fitting differently, the layered work shirt I showcased last year, complete with me demonstrating once again where on my torso the seam between layers rests and how much of my belly is exposed by the innermost layer:

I had to search my closet for this exact shirt just so I could have the consistency of showing where on my body that seam rests and how much of my belly shows when I lift the bottom. Sad to say clothing does stretch out after a while, from repeated use and washing (thus the new Woxers being “in the hopes I can wear a smaller size” and not “because I can wear a smaller size”), and we are talking about a shirt I’ve worn probably close to once every two weeks over the course of the last year… but I’m inclined to think that, in addition to that particular problem, this is also the most visible sign of a change in my body shape.

I think I said last year that the reason for the demonstration was my sensory disorder–the one thing I don’t like about these layered shirts is that it feels alternately like the inside layer (showing off a small part of my belly) is all that I’m wearing or that the seam is the bottom of the shirt (like I’m wearing a crop top and not a shirt). One of my weight loss goals was getting both inside layer and seam lower on my body to counteract both of those sensations.

Also I once hauled a Queen size memory foam bed-in-a-box (those things are about 50 pounds) from the floor to a chest-level shelf with little more thought than “I’m going to see if I can lift this before I ask for help.” (Note, don’t do this. I was able to lift it but for safety reasons it’s not something I should be in the habit of doing.)

This year’s goal: same.

I actually find it kind of funny that I started the project last year with recording fitness games for YouTube expecting to just do it for a year… but somewhere along the lines I started talking about what sort of changes I could make in recording options once I could afford better equipment, and it wasn’t until after whichever post I said that that I realized I was treating it as an ongoing project.

 

Last year’s goal: write more fiction.

Didn’t touch it at all. I just didn’t. Not my originals, not my fanfics. I thought about it several times, then either let myself get distracted by social media or decided that getting in a workout and attempting to update my channel quasi-regularly was higher priority.

I’ve said before, I missed the era of Blackberries with slide-out keyboards. I did a much better job keeping on the drafts when I had a keyboard to go with my phone–I could write on my lunchbreak without relying on the typo city that is a virtual keyboard–but I think a phone that’s designed with a lot of writing in mind would be far better than trying find (and subsequently store) an external bluetooth keyboard for the purpose. Though after that time that my phone got really, really slow I kind of stopped trusting it for anything as important as writing and just decided to use it to make my way through the to-read pile (when I’m not getting distracted by social media, of course).

This year’s goal: same.

 

Last year’s goal: declutter the house. (Or at least my room.)

Meh, the ongoing nature of this one means I sort of managed to accomplish it. I did, for instance, get my room reorganized for VR purposes, going from my bed being in the middle of the floor to everything surrounding the perimeter. And all the books remaining on my read-and-redonate pile are on shelves (or the secondary desk) rather than in piles on my dresser. (Signed book for keeping are also on shelves, but on a unit that’s been shoved into the closet. Further decluttering would allow me to move that back out into the bedroom proper.)

But there’s more to be done. While a Murphy bed is still a change I’d like to make, I almost feel like getting to the point where I can get rid of that extra desk (and shove my platform bed into that corner) would be easier, but that’s obviously going to require clearing all of those books and other things off of the desk.

Any bets on whether I accomplish that before or after I get a new computer?

As before, the curious can checkout both my Goodreads and Bookcrossing profiles to see my progress on the read-and-redonate side of things.

 

How about you, my readers? Have you met any of your goals for the last year? Made any for this year?

 

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True 52 Workout Update

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As mentioned I-forget-where, somewhere along the lines my forgetfulness and tendency to miss updating weekly led to me forgetting which week, exactly, I was even updating for, with the result that the week number started corresponding to the blog post rather than what progress I was posting about.

The post title of this, officially the final update for 2021, is my sole attempt to remedy that error. Perhaps in my 2022 progress reports I’ll actually update on the regular… or come up with some other system entirely.

 

In any case, no recordable workouts to report, courtesy of the work schedule and trying out new “toys” e.g. my GoPro and that capture card and theorizing about other recording options. As far as that goes, an unexpected change in my work schedule means I only got one session of Zombies Run in instead of the planned two. (Six days in a row, yech! I will never understand how those in the medical feel do it, need be damned. And since those six days were spread over two work weeks, it doesn’t even count towards overtime.)

 

Speaking of theorizing about recording options, I had noticed while recording Ring Fit Adventure last time that the sound had briefly cut out mid-game.

A link to the video if you’re interested in the reminder:

Now, I don’t know if that was the capture card causing problems or not. On the one hand, “sound” was a frequent complaint in the Genki app’s reviews. On the other hand, those complaints seemed to mostly be about the microphone (which I don’t even use), and my aux extension cable (used solely so I don’t need to keep reaching behind the monitor to swap between headphones and speakers) did start cutting out not long after.

I’m looking at the possibility of buying speakers that include a headphone pass-through, but before I resort to adding more stuff to my desk I’m going to see how it sounds if I connect the speakers I’ve already got directly to the Switch while it’s docked. Probably no need to worry about sound from the Wii as the gamepad has its own speakers built in, but I’ll find out soon enough.

 

But on to the one single workout I managed to do for the week:

At the risk of giving spoilers to anyone new (or like myself, new-ish) to the app, can you say cliffhanger?

 

In other news, I may need to start focusing on playing any one song on Beat Saber until I reach certain scores in that song only before moving on to others… pretty sure I haven’t full comboed on Normal high speed on High Hopes but I’ve completely forgotten which speed modifier I’ve used last on Party Rock (I’ve full comboed on normal speed on everything at their current difficulty levels thus far, and the actual listing on the scoreboard doesn’t factor in which modifiers you’re using).

Especially since I’ve come across three more songs I want to buy, and even with how little I listen to music I’m sure there will be more to come; I eventually started a playlist for DLC I want (or have bought) and songs I’d like to see in this and similar games:

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Week 51-52: Storm Winds, Power Lines, and Christmas!

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The first week for this update was “fun” this time around. Well, weekend anyway, but still enough that it cut into my exercise time.

 

So I managed with little difficulty to get in another couple of sessions of Zombies Run but did not get any recordable footage from my games.

Reason being… er, Monday I think I mostly spent time on the computer dealing with the edit-and-upload videos that I should be trying to get done the day I record them (as well as the usual parental delays of them thinking I’m their live-in tech support and am available at the drop of a hat, which does not mesh well with a tendency to lose focus on whatever I’m doing when the person interrupting me demands that I change that focus for any length of time). Since I no longer remember when I actually recorded that gameplay (the previous Thursday I’m mostly-but-not-completely sure) I wound up using the date tag the computer gave me for when I edited it.

Thursday, though… Thursday was the critical one alluded to in the title. On Thursday morning, round about 2:30 am (I was still sitting up reading), the power went out. Come closer to 9 in the morning it was still out, and upon checking outage maps it turned out their were outages all over the area including about half of our road.

Since I was up and didn’t relish the thought of using a camp toilet (I like my indoor plumbing), I drove out to the nearest grocery/department store to do some wandering, and stopped by Burger King to pick up breakfast for everyone on the way back. Spent some gas making a few trips for bathroom reasons as far as that goes, as well as spending time just sitting in the car with the heater running and my phone charging while I read in whatever light snuck past the cloud cover.

Some time during the day I decided to go out for my walk in the hopes that I could get two of them in before the end of the day (due to a change in my work schedule that completely eliminated my plans to walk more days that week–probably just as well since the sun would’ve set before I got home Christmas Eve on my original schedule), only to decide it was simply too cold and windy to do more than one mission that day. While I was out I saw a likely cause or contribution to the outage: a tree branch had fallen on the power lines at one end of the road (visible from half a mile away once I knew I was looking at), and the lines, as my dad had described them that morning, were hanging low. Since the outage map still reported another couple of days before power was likely to be restored, I called it in (speaking to a real person instead of the automated forms my parents were relying on) to make sure someone mentioned the branch.

By the way, that branch was visible from about half a mile away.

 

Come evening, my parents elected to get a hotel room so as to have access to heat and running water. There we ordered pizza for dinner, went to bed, and the next morning we came home so I could get ready for work… where I left an hour earlier than normal so I could have access to heat and running water.

Also I learned, courtesy of another bout of eye pain, that ocular migraines (or perhaps “retinal” since one of the distinctions seems to be whether it affects one or both eyes) can be triggered by intense exercise. Kind of like how I’ve been randomly itchy all year could be heat rash due to stepping up the attempts to work out and not an allergic reaction to, say, perfumed laundry detergent. Yay. 🙄

Friday night, I got out of work and drove to a different hotel to once again stay with my parents somewhere with heat and running water, where my dinner consisted of whatever was leftover in my packed lunch (maybe half a serving of chocolate milk, a single clementine orange, and a handful of trail mix) and a few candy bars that my parents had brought with them–they, of course, had already had dinner a few hours previously and since it was almost midnight by this point we weren’t ordering out again.

Saturday we came home to lights and running water and… not a lot of heat, but that’s just because it took the furnace some time to catch up to our normal setting. (Judging by all the things that blink, power had been on for about four hours by the time I walked in the door.) I sat in my winter coat for a while until my parents got home, then we spent the next hour dumping out food that the fridge and freezer had not been up to the task of keeping cold (some ice cream because it just doesn’t taste good if it melts and refreezes–and this hadn’t reached the “refreezing” stage–as well as things like eggs and meat that were tossed for safety reasons). Then I packed up what I could of my normal selections and once again headed out to work.

 

Now, in all this time I could have tried a few workouts on VR… the standalone nature of the Oculus Quest means that is absolutely not a problem as long as the battery is good. But my editing skills are poor enough that I would have trouble getting worthwhile footage out of it, so I elected not to try. Plus with the hotel stays and not wanting to pack more than necessary, that means that Thursday, the day where I spent more time in my car than in the house, was really the only day I could’ve gotten anything done.

 

The following week I did three walks, taking advantage of still having my normal two days off plus the store being closed on Christmas, visited other family members for Christmas dinner, and opened up my single present under the tree that was a GoPro 9. Got some playing around with the settings to do, but due to the differences in features I plan to switch my fitness game recordings from the Fusion’s 360 degree capability to the 9’s built-in webcam mode, and maybe do a little more digging with OBS while I’m at it.

I also, on Christmas, finally got around to getting my monitor arm set up for reasons of space-saving and eventual decluttering. (With the graphics amplifier on the desk in front of me, I have that much less stuff requiring the desk to my right so maybe soon I can get rid of that and get myself some more floorspace.)

I’m hoping to have enough money to justify the cost of a gaming laptop by next Christmas (for reasons of both desk space and fewer cords), so I went into this planning to eventually not need the arm and monitor… but that hope is far enough out, especially with student loans kicking back in soon, that I decided it was well worth taking whatever steps I could do now.

 

But as mentioned, I did get one recorded gameplay session in before the weather went south, and I got to try out my Genki covert Switch dock and Shadowcast capture card to play Ring Fit Adventure:

This one, for privacy reasons, is only uploaded in split-screen mode. Reason being I’d completely forgotten to declutter my desk prior to the recording, there were certain things that I really didn’t need showing up on camera (I mean, I personally couldn’t see what any of them said in the footage but that doesn’t mean nobody else would’ve had problems), and 360 mode just doesn’t allow for cropping the way a fixed-position image does.

PSA: Remember to keep any recordable area clear of things you don’t want other people to see. The messy room is bad enough. 😉

Sadly, the covert dock did not allow me to see the Switch screen when the camera was potentially blocking my view on the computer monitor–it went dark just the same as it does when I slide it into the official dock. I honestly don’t know if they chose not to make it do that or if the Switch itself isn’t made to allow that sort of thing. But it still means I don’t need to keep disconnecting the regular dock from whichever TV it was last attached to to record in here.

 

And the five sessions with Zombies Run….
I finished out the “lost” episodes of the New Brunswick storyline:

Hey, Six to Start? What exactly was on the USB stick that was so important that the story had to end that way? It’s not even listed as an artifact, for crying out loud!

Anyway, after finishing Brunswick I returned to the later end of the season and, courtesy of having Christmas off from work, got in two more of the regular missions:

Nearly done with Season 1, but I’m not quite there yet! And unless I double up episodes somewhere this will extend into next year.

 

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Week 50 and December Monthly Update

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In which I have to look at a calendar because I’m pretty sure these delays led to my weekly count being off.

I mean, there are two weeks left until the end of the year but I’m pretty sure I started that count based on when the workout happened, not when I updated my blog. Maybe there’s an “I forgot to update my blog” delay that I reported wrong or something.

 

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Kept forgetting to upload the before-and-afters:

 

Now on to the gaming!

We have my first attempt using my Genki ShadowCast capture card via my Wii Fit U monthly update:

Lighting still leaves a lot to be desired, as does available space; I have a few plans that may soon help a little bit with the first, and other plans that will take a much longer time to implement but may help a lot with both, but in the meantime…. *shrug* I think this will work in the absence of regular TV access. And look! Real-time heart rate monitor up top!

Hopefully the Shadowcast will work just as well on Ring Fit. In theory it should, but one of the most common complaints about the Genki app was sound issues… and the Switch doesn’t have the benefit of playing its own sound that the Wii Fit gamepad does…. But so far I’m liking it.

 

Following on the heels of the capture card test, I also opted to test a different hardware option: screen mirroring my Stealth game to the computer.

I will say the one thing I don’t like about this one is the huge amount of black space to either side of the game footage. But that issue exists even on the TV, is merely a result of playing a phone game instead of something that can truly fill the screen, and honestly I haven’t decided on the best way to handle that (I could try shrinking the window, but that would require coming up with a background that isn’t just as bad as the black space).

 

On the VR front, I finally decided to give Supernatural a try… only to find out that, despite having a Google Play companion app, it doesn’t actually support Google Play as a payment method. Since that was a good chunk of my reasoning for deciding to subscribe (via Kasasa Rewards) I backed out and haven’t even signed up for the free trial. Someday, maybe, but for now I have plenty of other games to keep me sweating.

Granted, it’s not like I need another Google Play subscription for the rewards (Kasasa requires twelve transactions per month, and the weekly auto-reload of my and my parents’ Amazon gift card balance already knocks out 8), but it’d be nice to have an extra to fall back on, especially since my Microsoft sub is on a rolling 30 day period (and can theoretically skip February once in a while) and I’m debating on switching Zombies Run to the higher-content VIP membership (which is only billed annually).

 

Speaking of Zombies Run…. no missions this past week. 😦

I did work out, however, that if there were absolutely no delays, and if I went for a mission after work on Christmas Eve (earlier hours) and went on Christmas day (store’s closed)… I would have exactly enough days off from work to finish the season by the end of the year.

I also downloaded The Way of All Flesh, a Zombies Run podcast available on Audible (Amazon Bounty link included!), so now I’ve got a new thing to listen to on the drive home from work (which is just a bit longer than any one episode) before I start on the next season of No Sleep.

 

And the rest of the monthly update, the numbers game!

 

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One of these days I’ll do something wild and crazy and actually narrow that list down so I don’t have a ton of Amazon Associate links per one blog post (not that Wii Fit itself helps with all the different versions to suggest).

I guess I could split up my workouts to different days/posts instead of embedding all of the videos at once? Maybe learn to stick to a schedule? I probably ought to do that with the actual video uploads, anyway, so as to avoid spamming whatever YouTube subscribers I have.

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Week 49: In which I have “seasonal” allergies all year ’round

Ugh. Allergies. Not even a proper cold or other sickness that I can treat and get over when it’s run its course. No, this delay had to be because my body, plain and simple, hates me.

I don’t remember what all I did on Monday besides keep an eye out for the arrival of certain hardware upgrade options. (That capture card I mentioned in the previous update, for instance, or a monitor arm so I can start work on decluttering my desk.) Not my outdoor walk, though, not according to my run logs.

Thursday, though, I woke up in the middle of the night with a sharp pain in my left eye… the kind of pain that feels like an eyelash had landed in there and which I was later told was most likely an ocular migraine. (Yay, more types of migraines.) This in conjunction with sinus allergies made for a hard time seeing past some very watery eyes.

Now, I don’t get this type of pain what I would consider “frequently,” but I’ve had it often enough of late that I deemed it worth investing in one of those refrigerator/freezer gel eye masks. And normally what happens is I’ll stumble my way out to the kitchen to grab the eye mask, stumble right back to bed with it, and wear the mask for a few hours, and when I’m properly awake in the morning the pain is gone… or gone “enough” that my eyes are no longer streaming and it doesn’t stop me from going about my day.

This time, though, the pain did not go away by morning, and my eyes continued to water all through the next day. In fact, my eyes were watering so badly that I called in sick to work for the simple fact that I could not keep them open for more than a few seconds at a time (and then got a ride to Urgent Care so I could get it taken care in the hopes that I could get to work the next day). The cold air and lack of traffic on my road meant I was safe enough attempting my outdoor walk, but I was unable to do anything that required consistently watching what I was doing like run a cash register.

 

All of which is to say that once again, there is not only a delay in recordable footage but a delay in the actual monthly update. But now that the capture card etc has finally arrived, the next videos I record will be me finding out just how much using my computer instead of the TV changes my recording options… I look forward to at least being able to include a real-ish-time heart rate monitor in the footage, so my fingers are crossed that the capture card wasn’t a waste of money and/or doesn’t require a newer computer to do the job properly.

 

But as previously mentioned, I did get in one Zombies Run mission for the week.

This graphic actually represents my second attempt, done on Friday during one of the rare moments that my eyes and the weather cooperated with spending time outside.

The first attempt on Thursday started out normally enough despite my watery eyes… until I got to one end of my road, where I thought it was very odd that a mission lasting 0.7 miles had not progressed past the first story clip. I checked the app, noticed it claimed I had only gone about .14 miles (should’ve been near to half a mile) with an average pace of over 60 minutes per mile. Then, after far too much troubleshooting on some of the more complicated potential causes of the problem, I finally discovered the very simple fact that my tracking was set to “simulated running”… I’d forgotten that I’d set it to that some days before to check something and had never changed it back to GPS for an actual mission.

 

Oh, come Saturday morning my eyes were fine. A little more tired than normal, even a little sore like an overworked muscle, but normal insofar as being able to see to get anything done is concerned. (Well, “normal” for me, anyway; one of these days I might have to invest in sunglasses made specifically for allergies and/or light sensitivity and not just trust “darker lenses” to be good enough, and the kind I’m looking at is not cheap.)

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Week 47-48: In which I begin eliminating my excuses for delays

No recordable footage this time ’round, but I did, as per the title, eliminate one of my valid excuses for frequently failing to produce any.

Well…. hopefully eliminated. There is still the matter of trying out the capture card that just arrived in the mail and finding out if it really works or if I wasted my money.

 

See, due to space limitations I prefer to just do all of my gaming (or nearly all what with the VR options) out in the actual gaming room, but as things stand I still don’t have ready access to that space due to its status as a “temporary” guest bedroom.

So I decided to see if it would work to set up the consoles in my bedroom on a temporary basis, using my computer monitor in place of a TV. I’ve previously posted my first attempt at that (in which I completely forgot the backlight issue before recording). Granted I really don’t want to rely entirely on the monitor (don’t ask me why that’s a worse option than the TV because I haven’t figured it out myself), I’d rather have the option to connect to the computer for a proper screen recording if and when I choose to go that route… plus the computer gives me the option to include a heart rate monitor in my footage. So I bought a capture card, which I now need to test.

I also found out that the error message that claims that my computer doesn’t support screen mirroring–literally stating “this device doesn’t support receiving Miracast, so you can’t project to it wirelessly”–does not, in fact, mean that it doesn’t support screen mirroring. Instead, it means “hey, idiot, turn on the WiFi.” (I rely on ethernet for most internet usage.) Me, I would’ve expected the error message to say something about needing wifi, but we are talking about the same operating system that thinks that “An error has occurred” is an incredibly useful message and not at all a statement of the obvious. Point being, aside from finding out how well my 360 Fusion’s field of view picks me up when it’s attached to my desk and I’m practically laying on the floor, my Stealth plank game has also lost the “guest room” excuse. It just doesn’t seem to play well in windowed mode, so it remains to be seen whether I can include heart rate data in that particular game’s footage.

 

I haven’t eliminated all excuses, of course. Due to the sweaty nature of the footage I still won’t be doing anything before I go in to work, and due to my schedule I won’t be recording anything when I get home from work. So the actual workouts will be limited to two days a week regardless of when I edit and upload. But that leaves the not-valid excuse of procrastination as the only thing I really need to work on… and the fact that I never had a valid excuse for any non-recorded workouts via the likes of VR.

 

Speaking of procrastination, I made another attempt at a different kind of self-care by tackling the video backlog, and finally uploaded my “Way of Kings” book set Kickstarter unboxing to my main channel!

Whew! That was a lot of packages for one unboxing.

As mentioned in the description, I have a few years’ worth of backlog to go through, and this was recorded some time this year. The reason I addressed this one before sorting through the older content was all the documentation and links for collectors included with the bundle… my mindset was that the sooner I got the video up, the sooner I could post those links, which meant the sooner I could declutter by ridding myself of whichever documents I had no desire to keep for myself. I’m somewhat sure I have a few other book unboxing videos that I need to address in a similar manner.

 

But back on topic with the fitness side of things, I finally finished season 1’s last 20K race in Zombies Run!

Just in time for them to add the New Brunswick “lost episodes” mini-series to the list, necessitating going backwards in the storyline to listen to things in their “proper” order before I can truly finish off the season. (All of those weather-centric delays the last couple of months meant I wasn’t going to finish the season by the end of November anyway, but the inclusion of the new mini-series means I may not finish before the end of the year… and that’s if the weather cooperates. On the plus side, more short missions means getting that much closer to finishing Radio Abel before I resort to repeating episodes or playing Radio Abel by itself.)

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Week 45-46 and November Monthly Update

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Let’s start this off as usual with those before-and-after photos:

Had a few snafus with this one. First, it took about a week before I remembered to take the month’s round of photos, and another week before remembering to take them translated to actually taking them. Then, I’m not sure if the remote I’ve got is just poor quality or if the battery’s actually dying, but I had to keep clicking the button, and clicking it, and clicking some more before it finally took the photos. Like it’s not connecting to the phone every time (reason for my hand placement in the back view–I was thinking using it in a more natural pose had my body blocking whatever signal it sends just enough to interfere).

I had similar issues with the remote last month, and I’m hoping it’s just the battery… but to add to that, I’m hoping it’s because the battery was already bad when I bought the remote, because using a common CR2032 a few times a month (the same kind I use pretty much every day vis a vis my Nintendo Fit Meter) and having it die less than a year out seems excessively fast for the type.

 

 

Really starting to slack on the “update my blog every week” side of this project, and not purely due to a lack of recorded footage. For instance, I had my November monthly test uploaded to YouTube for a full week and only just now took it out of draft mode (as compared to Ring Fit that I recorded the same day as the test but took that full week to get around to rendering).

You know what? I’m going to blame this one on my parents. 😉 Nope, not the typical parental interruptions to do chores and the like, this is from them starting to take an interest in their own YouTube channel (and the brand new GoPros they got via early Black Friday sales) and “needing” me for all of the technical stuff (as well as the “just plain reading instructions but I’ve reached that age where I magically stop understanding technology” variety of mental block). You know, the type of interruption where you practically have to start your thought process over from the beginning every time you’re forced to think about something else.

 

But despite that I do have a couple of videos to share.

The November Wii Fit test, of course:

 

And the next level/world of Ring Fit Adventure! Which I managed to record in the actual gaming area courtesy of the guest finally having a regular job with at least one workday that overlaps with my time off.

 

While I don’t know how long the guest situation is going to continue, I’m honestly thinking about getting a cheap-ish capture card at some point to play these games more often in my own room (which will obviously require finding out what software I’d need to make it play), partly for the guest/space limitations but also because I want to include a real-time heart rate display (I have Cardia installed) to the gameplay footage and I don’t believe there’s any other way to do it without multiple displays.

From what I’m reading, though, this plan will probably take a while to implement… while my 360 works well enough, it’s obviously limited to “point the camera at a screen” mode for the purpose and I would like to upgrade my Hero 5 to a Hero 9 or 10 (both of which have a webcam mode). Also, regarding the above parenthetical point about software, it looks like I’d need something like OBS to actually use any gameplay footage from a capture card in real-time, and as highly recommended as that program comes my outdated machine lags considerably when running it, meaning I probably wouldn’t try such a project until I can justify the cost of a new computer, either.

 

Next we have Zombies Run, wherein the four days I had off from work since the last update translated to finishing… half of Season 1’s final 20K episode.

 

I only did it once per week instead of my preferred twice. Once I skipped due, if I remember right, to how dark it was outside by the time we finished family dinner (ah, daylight savings time and late-year sunsets, how my evening walks loathe thee), and the other skip was because it was supposed to be storming most of the day (I spent most of that day playing Synth Riders and Beat Saber due to the “I don’t need to plug anything in” safety aspect) though in hindsight the weather had been decent enough that I could have gone out if I’d decided to chance it.

Yeah, I don’t think I’m going to finish the season before the end of November. And that’s without factoring in the upcoming “lost episodes.” Even if the weather cooperates I just don’t have the stamina (yet) to speed it up, not to mention the sunset limiting when I’m willing to go out, but I will certainly try to finish before the year is done.

 

And speaking of playing VR versus Zombies Run, I’ve slacked off again on the Homefront workouts once I finished the German segment–I suspect the problem this time, besides being distracted by the shiny, is that there’s no actual correlation between my activity and what the app reports due to the nature of the workouts so no sense of achievement coming from that direction (while I don’t care about leaderboards and such, I can at least look at my time for an outdoor walk and tell that my speed has improved), and the fact that I’m repeating the story which is good but not really “revisit old favorites” good.

So while I got distracted by the shiny a few more times over the past couple of weeks, for the last three days during which I’d normally try to use Homefront after work I instead made further attempts to improve at the “for my use only” song selections on Synth and Beat Saber alike. The result is that I’ve played Uprising by Muse about half a dozen times, I’m still missing a few blocks every time when playing Counting Stars, Greatest Showman, or High Hopes on Normal at the highest speed, and after a couple of fumbles between each of the other songs I finished my workout on Sunday (to the tune of about 300 or so calories according to FitBit) by getting an SS Full Combo on new addition Party Rock on Easy Mode… meaning the next time I try that one it will be with speed modifiers.

 

And of course, the final update for the month, the numbers on the scale:

 

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Week 43: I Caved. Twice.

No recordable footage to be had this time around, nothing worth even including any affiliate links to products I’ve used.

 

Instead, I’ll simply repeat the title: I caved.

See, Oculus Quest (and so many others) was having a Halloween sale. And I bought stuff. Stuff I probably wouldn’t have bought had it been full price, even though “full price” wasn’t necessarily much more expensive than the sale price.

Namely, I bought Synth Riders (which, after playing the tutorial, looks like it might be even more of a workout than even Beat Saber once I really get into it), I’m leaning towards buying Uprising for it (as the only DLC song I spotted that I’m actually familiar with, courtesy of having first heard it during the previews for the 2009 reboot of V) amid whatever songs I use to experiment with its custom ability, and…. I bought FNAF Help Wanted.

I kept dithering about that last one before I finally decided that, since I already have a few horror games that I paid $10 apiece for, my real objection to paying the full $30 (40 if I buy the Dreadbear DLC) was paying that much all at once for a genre that’s low in my list of interests. But eventually I accepted that, content-wise, I’d really be buying a few games all at once, so how is any different if I’m willing to give it a try? Now I just need to avoid caving in to a certain someone’s demands that I play it when he wants me to–I’d like to at least have the option to record my reactions, maybe even track how it affects my heart rate–and while he’s had me watch him often enough that I won’t truly be going into this as a “new player” with no idea what to expect, if I do end up recording I’d like to authentically play it as close to that role as possible.

 

Kinda wish I’d bought Paper Beast while Steam was having their sale. I had to fight, while typing out this post, to get over the “only buy things on sale even though full price isn’t much higher” and finally convinced myself to just buy it now rather than putting it off again in the hopes that it’ll go on sale again someday maybe.

(Though for sake of merely trying different ways to connect my Quest to PC, it occurs to me that I already have multiple VR games to choose from, most of them Indie, free, and acquired because I admired the graphics as portrayed by the assorted app pages. As well as Skryim VR, which I bought before I even had a means to play VR, because I planned to eventually have that option and because hello! it’s Skyrim!)

 

And then the final thing I caved on was buying a new foam padding for my Quest. The “guest” in the house just got himself a Quest 2, and while helping him to set it up he had me try it on for a few minutes. Not “try it on to make me jealous” from my side of things (though given his tendency towards bragging, I wouldn’t put it past him to see it that way) but so I could see the screen long enough to connect it to the computer so I could watch him play.

And while I’d never before noticed that the pad on my original Quest was uncomortable, I noticed a considerable difference in the feel between that and the padding on his Quest 2. After looking through the paperwork I found what kind it it uses and did a little digging to find one made for my own model; once I get the VR Cover brand one I ordered from Amazon, I’ll also get to see if the advertised difference in pressure makes any difference to my tendency towards collecting red marks. And maybe one of these days I’ll also figure out how to get this halo-esque strap attached!

 

In other news, I’m still on the lookout for a riser (or riser and monitor arm) that will get me some additional airflow for my computer with needing to plug in more stuff. While I need a new computer, getting the current one to not need to blow the fan so loud and so often when I’m gaming is at least the cheaper option, if not a suitable long-term option.

 

And finally, the one sort of exercise game I did make progress on, Zombies Run!

Unlike the “5k per day” I was anticipating due to my progress with the 10K episodes, I’ve managed to finish the full 20K (ish) of Jeffro Complex in only three outings.

That leaves the New Canton 20K and (checks app) 5 normal missions if I hope to finish out the season before the weather keeps me off the road like it did back in February. After that, maybe I’ll rerun the New Adventure “Negative Space” at least once (five bodyweight episodes, two “running”), since I’m absolutely certain I’d seen a notification or blog post (that I can no longer locate) saying that SixtoStart has begun adding story-themed supplies to the NA stories that you could collect for Abel. I’m trying to find a list of all available supplies, though, just so I can tell if I’m missing anything.

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Week 42: Change of Scenery and Yet Another Recording Experiment

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I thought I’d finished with the recording experiments back when I settled on the GoPro 360 as my best option for console gaming and gotten my webcam/screen recorder settings working for VR/casting to PC.

But I kinda got tired of having to navigate around the “guest bedroom” that is still occupying my gaming space more than two weeks after I was told to return the bed (bought for our actual spare bedroom) on the grounds that we “didn’t need an area for a guest” any more. So I decided to see how the console games would work in my bedroom, hooked up to my monitor.

I wasn’t terribly keen on having to move around a lot of stuff, notably the cords plugged in behind the TV, but we already have tons of spare HDMI cables (god only knows how they keep reproducing), so it was simply a matter of selecting a console and getting my hands on an extra power cord. Given its newness, I deemed the Switch a better option for this experiment, paid shy of $20 for a spare cord from my place of employment, and set up the dock in my room. I might prefer to change the precise setup in a later non-experimental video, and I only consider this as an alternative to be used until I consistently have my gaming space back, but technically the experiment worked.

 

Well… it worked until I remembered, while reviewing the footage, that monitors have backlights, too.

I mean, the footage is sort of visible so it’s not a total loss, but if I do this again I’ll need to keep the monitor’s backlight turned down. And unlike with the TV, I actually need it bright for some of my games (I rarely play horror games, so I’ve never really been able to get into the “darkness as ambience” mentality when it interferes with my ability to see what I’m doing–I even prefer playing Oblivion with the “Lite Brite” command turned on despite the weird graphic glitches it produces) so I’ll need to remember to turn it back up at times.

 

This all happened Thursday, for the record. Monday, if I remember correctly, was spent going through the duplicate folders on my backup drive and getting rid of the files that I genuinely don’t need. (Dear god I can’t believe how long that took.)

Ironically, the whole point of going through the duplicates was because, since I wasn’t playing games at that time, I wanted to go through the backlog for my other channels and start getting things uploaded, but my organization has been a little messed up since the factory reset and unwitting duplicates that I wasn’t really sure what which videos in my “to be uploaded” folder still needed uploading and what was simply badly organized, and I wanted to see where all those files existed on the drive before I took action. “Ironic” because going through the duplicates took so long that I simply never got around to doing anything with the videos, so while it’s finally done it didn’t serve the intended purpose to doing it at that specific time.

(Oct 28 update: Oh, yay. So apparently mass-deleting folders from the backup drive to fix the screwed-up organization does not prompt the backup “plan” to recreate them in their correct locations the next time it backs up the entire computer. So after creating an entirely new plan–and as such, waiting for everything to back up from scratch–I get to go through looking for duplicates again. Shouldn’t be too big a deal this time around as there should no longer be anything important in the currently-old backup folder that won’t end up in the new, but let’s just say there’s more than a little paranoia behind my choice to keep the old backup folder for the time being…. And this also means that anything I relocate for organizational purposes, e.g. raw unsorted footage versus labeled ready-to-upload videos, will have to be manually shifted to the correct location on the backup folder, instead of relying on the backup plan to put a copy there for me. Funny, could have sworn in the past that a significant chunk of those duplicates pre-factory-reset were the result of reorganizing things on the computer without manually doing the same on the backup drive.)

 

Also Thursday, I started on one of the Season 1 20K “races” in Zombies Run.

I couldn’t quite remember if there was a relevant order between this and the New Canton 20K, but since everything I’ve read says they take place more-or-less concurrently I just went with the one the app says is next on my list (which recommendation, I should add, doesn’t actually take into account canonical order–it wanted me to move straight from the New Canton 5K to the NC10K without any regard for the Abel 5K and regular episodes that took place between, and likewise straight from Abel5 to Abel10 again without stopping for the regular missions, so clearly it’s just recommending in the order that the app lists them).

Not sure how long it will really take me to finish the two 20Ks, but barring delays I think I can reasonably expect to finish out the entire season by the end of November.

 

My back hurt the next day. I really need to work on my posture.

 

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