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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Workout Week 13–My Legs Are Rebelling

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I keep thinking that this is supposed to be my monthly update for April, and I think the problem is that this is my week 13 update. See, at each of the previous months, the monthly update used as its source whatever activity I had done in a week that is divisible by 4 (because of months having four weeks) plus one extra week to start the next month. Not that I’ve had all that many months to form a pattern from, but whatever. And if every month was actually a standard 28 days long (which would require 13 months and either a slightly shorter year or a few days that would still eventually throw things off), the pattern would continue to work that way. But since they aren’t, I am instead due to provide the final update for March.

 

I have, for this final week of the month, created the second profile settings review for Ring Fit Adventure… the one that I had forgotten about the first time around until after I’d finished the recording and editing session.

An easy enough fix, though it created an unplanned delay in experimenting with my randomized spreadsheet.

Like I mentioned in the previous post, I chose to upload this one solely as a split-screen version; there is simply not enough moving on my part to warrant rendering a 360 degree version, and the only reason I even show myself in the video is to maintain some consistency in my editing style for the series.

The next “profile settings” video, which I will not–can not–produce until I’ve progressed far enough in the game to unlock whatever I have left to showcase, should likewise be split-screen-only, but in the meantime I can go back to experimenting with recording options for my other games. And once I start adding VR games to the mix, experimenting will definitely be a requirement.

 

And we finish the update with my week 13 progress in Zombies, Run.

My pace managed to pick up again from what it’s been the last couple of weeks, but I have a feeling I’m starting to level out at this point; with as little time as I have left until the end of the story from the 5K app, I probably won’t see another significant improvement until I start back in to the main app… and maybe then I can blame my current pace on the fact that my legs want to fall off after walking for so long!

Still haven’t started on those homefront missions for non-walking days. Not on work days, and not on “not going for a walk outside because of nasty weather” days, either. Shame on me.

 

I did finally make a decision regarding headphone/sunglasses combos, however. Around the same time as I received the third stimulus check, I learned that Bose finally made a model with a higher IP rating! Or at least, higher water protection. Still not thrilled at the lack of dust protection (or the testing thereof)–even if I didn’t live and walk right next to a dirt road, trail running is a thing, as they well know since they include it in their marketing for different colored replacement lenses–but I decided to take the chance and bought a pair.
And then, once they were paired to my phone and I could start exploring the app, I realized that I had been looking forward to experimenting with the “added bonus” of the Bose AR mode more than I’d originally thought… as the discovery that Bose had discontinued this feature was reason enough to return the product for a refund. That part was handled easily enough, but this realization sadly occurred too late to cancel my order for an off-brand set of replacement lenses; rather than mess with shipping the lenses back to the secondary seller based out of who-knows-what-country, I’ve got them listed on eBay in the hopes that I’ll have a better chance recouping my losses there. My option, therefore, is to instead use the Aftershokz brand Optishokz, at least once I remember to charge them up for the first use in well over a year.

 

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Workout Week 11-12–Ring Fit Profile Part 1

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With week 11 came the final week of my nephew needing our internet to do his classes, which will hopefully translate to the final week of not having ready access to my gaming area.

Week 12, on the other hand, involved running errands (driving twice to the dealer one town over to get the driver’s side mirror in my car replaced due to a crack running from top to bottom that distorted the reflection–first trip was so they could examine it to determine what would be needed and the second was to actually replace the glass after they ordered the part), spending time on a home improvement project (dad replaced our microwave which turned out to be a three-person all-day task), and assorted other time-wasters, that I just never got around to doing my workouts like I should’ve done. Not video games, and not my morning walks either. Exercise-wise, that home improvement project certainly qualified as a workout, just not one suitable for recording for my YouTube channel. 😉

 

That being said, I did manage to get started on showcasing the profile settings in Ring Fit Adventure:

I’d elected to do this video in split-screen mode only, for which the Fusion 360 still serves better than trying to use multiple cameras. While my image wasn’t necessarily critical to the content of the video (you’re clearly not seeing me contort myself for the purpose of exercising here), I want to try to maintain some consistency with my video formats and, well… the lack of movement on my part means a 360 degree version would’ve wasted my time trying to render and upload the thing. I expect I’ll do the next profile video the same way.

The reason I only “started” on the profile settings is this: When I made this video, I had very deliberately avoided going any deeper into the game, so that poor Tipp wouldn’t “think” that I was actually trying to start a new session. But at some point after I’d recorded this video I realized that I’d missed some of the settings… notably those that required that deep dive. So I’m planning to take that dive for another video, just so I can showcase the settings I’d overlooked.

 

As for the actual in-game workouts, I’m nearly done with my attempt at randomizing. I’d set up a simple spreadsheet showing most of the workouts I have available, and got a working formula that not only selects a workout at random but clearly indicates what game it’s from (else I’d spend too much time searching the spreadsheet for that second detail), but naturally there will be some editing needed before it’s fully operational.

For instance, there are these changes:

  • I have not yet added the non-adventure-mode workouts from Ring Fit Adventure. (Literally the only entry for that game at the moment is “Adventure Mode.”)
  • might remove some entries from other games. (Some of my VR games, for instance, might be more conducive to just sitting down and not involve enough moving to serve as a fitness game; these would would work elsewhere on my channel but not in this particular series. Also, does anyone really want to see a 30-plus minute video that’s nothing more than me doing a single Free Run in Wii Fit?)
  • Figuring out how to incorporate difficulty levels into the random element. (In Wii Fit, the only difficulty levels I have listed are those I have actually unlocked–which at this point is whatever the game starts with–with the single provision that workouts that start with a practice/instructional mode and a regular workout only have the practice mode on the list, with intent to swap it with the regular mode once I’ve done one practice video. The original plan was to simply add the difficulty levels as I unlock them so that they, too, can be selected at random–and in the case of Beat Saber that means adding all of the difficulty levels right away–but part of me is also thinking that I should wait until I’ve gotten the highest score tier before simply swapping out the entry for the next level up.)
  • And of course anything I might’ve accidentally overlooked.

There are also things that are missing from the start and which will remain missing from the list. Any workout in Wii Fit that involves two players, for instance. Or the fact that I chose to leave out VZ Fit Explorer (VirZoom’s app to bicycle in the “real world” via Google Maps, versus VZ Fit Play involving actual games; also, the content of these apps is already random via their own system so no need to select anything specific on my end).

For a very small selection of my workout options and the randomizer formula I used (column C just uses a basic concatenation to combine the entries from A and B):

Due to the way I count the individual workouts, the full list at this point in time includes 120 entries. At some point I plan to add more, not just by adding all of the Ring Fit modes but also by buying more music in Beat Saber or simply finding other workout games I’d like to try.

 

And finally, my week 11 sessions with Zombies, Run!

My pace has been kind of waffling back and forth since that hiatus of nearly a full month, but I’m still faster now than I was during January. I’m sure the lack of snow and ice has quite a bit to do with it, but I’d like to think there was a noticeable improvement on my part as well. 😉

 

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Workout Week 10–Slacking Off

*sigh* And still with the “nephew’s over for the week” delays.

 

And not only that, but since my dad and I ended up having errands to run first thing in the morning on Wednesday, I only got in one session on Zombies Run instead of the usual two.

 

But it isn’t a total loss. I made some headway on updating the “outdoor walks” playlist (not a lot of progress, percentage-wise, but that’s what happens when you have enough indie-game soundtracks to listen for 19 hours and change without repeating a single track) and with getting a list of my unlocked workouts so I can start randomizing them for future videos.

 

And speaking of that outdoor playlist, I’ve also started looking into other options for headphones. Currently I’m using the Aftershokz brand Trekz Titanium, but once I got back into the habit of using it on the regular, I noticed a few… problems. The biggest problem, which will persist regardless of the weather, is the mere fact of needing to hook these headphones over my ears in addition to doing the same with a pair of sunglasses.

The lesser problem–at least, lesser in terms of when it will occur–is that any time I have to wear a jacket, the collar tends to push at the headphones (if you check out their gallery, you’ll find it’s perfectly normal for Aftershokz headphones to stick out a good inch behind the wearer’s head), which in turn nudges my head forward. Angling them downwards seems to reduce the degree to which this problem occurs, but it doesn’t eliminate it entirely. The bad habit of overall poor posture certainly doesn’t help, and I have been trying to keep my head up even when energy starts to flag towards the end of a session, but honestly I’m thinking of relegating the Trekz to the task of computer work and going outside instead with a set of sunglasses with built-in earpieces.

The thing to decide is… which sunglasses? I could use what I already have and wear the Optishokz (same brand) that I acquired a few years ago from a crowdfunding campaign. The pro there is that the lenses can be swapped out for different colors as needed, and they have a very high IP rating (dust-and-water protection, and if I remember right they were a 6-7 which is the highest dust rating that exists and one step below the highest water protection, more than sufficient for living right off from a dirt road or wanting to walk even when it’s raining out). And of course there is the pro of not needing to buy anything more for the purpose. The con is that, for a device meant to use bone conduction, I’m not all that pleased with the placement of the earpieces, as they look like they’re built to transmit sound through the cartilage of my ear instead of going straight for my skull the way the brand’s normal headphones do. The alternative I have in mind would be to use some of my stimulus check by splurging on a pair of Bose sunglasses; the pro there is an earpiece placement I like better with the added bonus of AR games to try within their proprietary app (sound-based games are always a challenge for someone with hearing problems, but I do enjoy Blindscape so there’s at least a chance that I’ll like these), while the con is a questionably low IP rating of only X-2 (no tested dust rating and water protection only claims to be sweat proof) for something allegedly made for outdoor use.

 

There is one other thing I’m thinking about doing for future videos, but it isn’t necessarily fitness-related. And that’s food.

Oh, sure, doing some of the smoothies from Ring Fit will be tangentially fitness-related, but I can almost guarantee the recipes from my official Elder Scrolls cookbook won’t be. (And official cookbook it must be; as much as I’d like to experiment with trying to bring the in-game versions into the real world, there is the small matter of some of those ingredients not existing in our world and the considerably larger matter of some of those ingredients being dangerous in the game’s suggested amounts. That second point gave me the pet theory that the Gourmet started work as an assassin before he became a full-time chef and briefly forgot who he was writing recipes for.)

The issue at present is determining what I would need to even start a series of this nature, given, among other problems, the size of my kitchen. At this point I haven’t decided if I actually want to try these videos or if it’s just a completely random idea.

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Workout Week 9 and March 2021 Monthly Update

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And we’re back to the whole “nephew’s spending nights over to do classwork,” otherwise known as “I don’t have access to my game space.” Ah, the occupational hazard that is being in my thirties and still living with my parents. I’m looking forward to his classes being done so he won’t need to keep occupying that space during the only time I have available to use it.

I did manage to get my Wii Fit U fitness test in before he showed up for the week but that’s it as far as recordable content.

 

And as you can see in the preview images, I finally started making thumbnails! A fixed-position image, of course, even on the 360 degree video, but extracting a frame was easier than I expected… I just opened up the 360 degree video within GoPro‘s own proprietary VR view (included with the installation of Fusion Studio), played the video and rotated it to the frame I wanted, and used the app’s own screen grab function to get the image. One of these days I may try to actually make thumbnails, but this works for the time being.

 

Still haven’t done that quick-ish review of Ring Fit Adventure’s profile settings, so there’s something specific for my to-do list.

I also decided that moving forward my workouts are going to be somewhat randomized for the purpose of my channel. While none of the games I play have a tool that actually picks things at random, my current method is to simply list all of the workouts I’ve unlocked within a spreadsheet and then use a random number formula to pick one to record. This means video length may range from only a couple of minutes (case in point a single game on the Stealth fitness board) to my typical 20-ish minutes for a single level in Ring Fit… and given how short some of them are this might also result in choosing to squeeze in the occasional workout on days I work (schedule depending; I still won’t do it before work and I’m not too keen on staying up past midnight on days I’m scheduled late). These random workouts will also include some of the custom modes within the likes of Ring Fit instead of relying entirely on Adventure Mode.

 

As far as weight loss is concerned….

Ick. Still not the drop I’m hoping for. But I continued to cross my fingers.

On the plus side, I did manage to find a way to get a single day’s weight for screenshotting purpose. That method doesn’t seem to exist in FitBit’s actual app (either phone or PC) but rather when logging into my account via the web browser. I’m not sure if this is a new feature or simply one I’ve never noticed due to rarely using the browser, but it’s there on the first page of the dashboard, so all I really need now is to learn to properly crop my screenshots.

If only FitBit didn’t discontinue the scale that measures body fat, then maybe I could at least guess if there’s any difference in that or muscle mass to contribute to the weight change. But I suppose that sort of guessing game is the purpose in taking before-and-after photos….

Once again I’m noticing a difference in how close the phone is to the camera. Oh, well, yet more stuff on the to-fix list. (And is it just me or is the January set at an odd angle? Hmm, could’ve sworn my last monthly update showed the February set with that problem when compared to a completely upright January.)

 

And finally, after too long a hiatus, I have more progress in Zombies Run!

Eh, it isn’t too surprising that my pace slowed a bit after going a month without using the app. I suppose instead I should be surprised that I slowed down by such a small amount; recall when I started that I was ranging from 20 to 24 minutes per mile. Granted, the lack of snow and ice helps, but I’m moderately sure that I’m actually faster than when I began this project.

 

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Mini Rant: Essential Oils vs Perfume

We interrupt your irregularly scheduled “fitness games” updates (and everything else I need to get back in the habit of) to bring you this mini-rant.

 

I’ve never bought into the notion that “natural” is automatically healthier than “synthetic”–all else being equal, sure, but “all else” means things like being able to absorb vitamin C from an orange better than you can from a vitamin tablet. It does not mean “contains natural ingredients” is good while “manufactured” is bad. Poison ivy is natural, after all, but you’d never use it in a salad… and so many life-saving medicines are man-made.

 

The reverse, though, is also true. Man-made medicines are only preferred because you have better control over elements like dosing and availability, but they are not better than natural options in and of themselves. Holistic healing has enough anecdotal evidence to suggest that so much of it isn’t “tested to work” because it simply isn’t being tested. And there are definitely times when “natural” is automatically better… like when you’re allergic to a synthetic product but don’t want to give up the benefits of that product. Case in point, my love/hate relationship with perfumes and my growing interest in essential oils.

 

Note, I’m not talking about wearing perfume as is. That, unfortunately, is just a chemical smell to me, nothing pleasant about it, one that has a tendency to linger and even grow in intensity as time passes (which is apparently a common problem for people with sensory disorders). No, I’m talking about products that include perfume in them to provide their scent. Scented deodorant, scented shampoo, scented laundry detergent, et ceteraThese I actually think smell nice, but I’m allergic to perfume. A mild allergy, to be sure, otherwise I could never have put up with these products for so many years, but I’ve started trying to cut back on perfumed products, which is proving to be easier said than done.

 

I got all excited one day recently when I found out Secret had a line of deodorant that uses essential oils… until I read the ingredients list and saw “fragrance” listed. (Note, I don’t know if there’s an industry standard meaning to this term–I’ve actually tried to look it up but no dice–but in my extremely limited experience it means “perfume” unless the ingredients list specifies otherwise, so I treat it as if it says perfume.)

Gain detergent with essential oils? Ingredients include “fragrance.”

The unscented “for sensitive skin” deodorant I’ve used for years because the scented varieties give me a rash (and with which I am now noticing that I might still be getting a rash)? Fragrance.

Medicated acne wipes, also “for sensitive skin?” Fragrance.

The first two examples are annoying because it’s always more expensive to get a product with essential oils, but near as I can tell they’re not even using the oils for scent, not when they have to add “fragrance” in addition to the oils. (Maybe I’m the oddball here, but I thought “not using synthetic perfume/fragrance” was part of the point of using essential oils?) And the second two examples are just… why? Why, when they’re not even scented products, and they’re intended for sensitive skin, are they adding a scented ingredient that could potentially irritate the user’s skin? Would these products really smell that bad without the added fragrance?

 

Urgh. I never realized just how common added perfume (‘scuse me, fragrance) was as an ingredient until I started actively looking.

 

It’s not all bad, though. There are some products that use essential oils instead of added fragrance (and those that mention “fragrance” on the ingredients list specify that it comes from the oils or other natural ingredients and don’t just leave it at “fragrance” as if that’s all I ever needed to know). I’m trying Seventh Generation for my laundry detergent (first test was on my covid mask), I switched to The Seaweed Company for my shampoo/body wash needs (they have different varieties, but the scent in mine comes from orange oils), and I took a chance with the deodorant Cleo Coco (sadly very expensive) which I’ve found is so dry thanks to the clay that it’s going to take some getting used to. Or some unscented varieties of cheaper brands are genuinely unscented, no added fragrance; it just requires due diligence and a willingness to find out the ingredients before buying.

 

So, who of my readers have switched to products with essential oils? Or genuinely unscented products? Which ones do you like best?

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Workout Week 8–I Can’t Plank!

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‘Tis the end of February, and I have finished the first world, and first boss fight, in Ring Fit Adventure.

To “celebrate” getting this far, I think the next step should be a quick video on changing your profile settings.

 

In the meantime, I added another workout to my repertoire, Stealth Fitness!

And, well, I really need to learn to do planks.

Hindsight being 20/20, I know I kept saying in the video that I can’t do planks right and had to be on my knees to do them (sort of like how I can’t do pushups without being on my knees), but the day after recording this footage I randomly decided to test that theory… while laying in bed. Full-on traditional plank, not even the forearm variety and definitely not on my knees, and I did fine (ish). Granted, doing it in bed meant the only thing making me move (besides the trembling from holding that pose) was the fact that a memory foam mattress isn’t exactly a solid surface, so I think my belief that I “can’t” do planks had less to do with actually believing at the time that I couldn’t do them and more to do with some instinct that told me to compensate for the fact that I’d be fighting the stealth board to maintain my balance the whole time. Regardless, it’s something I need to work on in order to do workout properly.

I also need to work on not putting so much weight on my elbows. Either that or I need to find a decent set of padded sleeves for the purpose; even with all the padding on the Stealth board, my elbows hurt trying to play this game!

 

Slightly off-topic, but for purely aesthetic reasons I would much prefer the “professional” gym model… I just think the green looks better than the other options.

Instead I wound up buying the yellow basic model (and linking here accordingly) due entirely to the price difference; I just wasn’t up to paying what, at the time, was an extra $100 just to get a color I liked more.

 

And finally, we have what is hopefully the last week of my Zombies Run hiatus. Weather depending, of course.

Speaking of hindsight being 20/20, I really should’ve been spending that hiatus doing the homefront exercises in the main app instead of just… not using the app. If nothing else, I could’ve started deleting them as I go, to clear up what little bit of space on my phone they represent. Perhaps instead I’ll have to persuade myself to do them on days I work, as the only deliberate exercise worth doing after I’ve already spent all day on my feet.

 

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Workout Week 7–RingFit First Battle! That’s going to take some getting used to….

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I finally, a year-and-then-some after buying Ring Fit Adventure…. moved on to the second stage of the game and my first battle. No button-mashing thumb-centric flexibility to focus on here, instead battles are won and lost entirely by how well I do the exercises. Like the post title says, that is definitely going to take some getting used to.

I did fairly well for a first try (and second and third and however many battles I forget I had in the second stage), but I fully expect them to get harder as I progress in the game no matter what difficulty level I choose.

Though despite having the backlight all the way down, I seem to still have a lighting issue that makes my TV screen look… weird. Not the super glare, but even looking at the preview YouTube provides the colors just look a little off. Might just be a normal product of using the GoPro Fusion–or, indeed, any camera–to record a TV rather than something I can adjust, I don’t know yet. (Looking at my previous videos, it looks like it might just be a product of recording a TV screen.)

 

Weather still interfered with my outdoor walks and Zombies, Run, though I did start experimenting with one of SixToStart’s other games, The Walk.

Technically this should be in my week 8 updates, but I’ll put it here so I don’t forget: Unlike Zombies Run, which has a story that you listen to while exercising, The Walk is designed to let you run the app in the background on your phone, leave it in your pocket or wherever, and go about your day, waiting to check your phone and pick up the story once you’re done and have the free time to simply listen. Keeping that in mind and thinking I might just let it run while I’m at work, but having no idea what kind of drain that might put on my phone’s battery, I first tried out the app one morning when I was out shoveling snow off of my back porch.

My first experiment failed on multiple counts. Oh, the tracking was fine… but you can use any step counter or fitness tracker to estimate how much you’ve exercised for the day. The story element was fine (so I assume, I never actually bothered listening to any story clips before resetting my progress to nil), but that part is also available for free online as a podcast. The game aspect was where things went wrong. See, the game aspect includes a few achievements for, among other things, scanning all landscape features within a given route, but you can only actually scan the features that are close to you. By the time I looked at my phone once I was done shoveling, I had already moved too far away from several of the landscape features and had completely lost the opportunity to scan them without replaying the episode. (I have the exact same problem with FitBit’s challenges.)

But that is not the only problem I had with the app. See, either I had stopped shoveling at exactly the moment that the paths diverged within the episode (another game element: each episode consists of a short route and a longer one, and different landscapes and such are available depending on which one you pick), or it was sitting at the fork in the road waiting for me to check my phone so I could pick a route. Assuming the second theory to be the case, running this at work would not let me finish the story in “no time flat” as I’d originally decided; instead, it would approximately take two hours (clock-in to first break) before I’d even have the opportunity to choose a path, after which point it would take another two hours (lunch break) to actually mark that I’d finished things… for an episode that supposedly takes about half an hour to complete.

And finally there is the matter of some of those landscape features. I’d clicked on a few of them, and only after I’d scanned all of the ones in reach did I realize that some of them were playing sounds–one, for instance, was labelled as a “ringing phone” (I might be misremembering that label) but was actually playing a phone conversation.

Anyway, my point is, The Walk really isn’t a “play in the background” fitness app. To get the most out of the gaming aspect, you either have to be willing to replay episodes multiple times (which you’ll have to do anyway for 100% completion due to the split paths, but not to this extreme), or you’ll have to treat it like a true game and stick to using it when you can actively pay attention to what you’re playing.

 

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Workout Week 6–Workout Swap

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And once again we have a road covered in snow and ice and all the changes in terrain that implies. Rather than risk another major sciatica flare-up, I elected to put Zombies Run on hiatus and spend that time working on other things, including:

  • checking out my recording options for the Stealth/Plank Board (games are played entirely via a dedicated phone app that is not Chromecast-friendly, but it turns out that both my phone and TV support screen mirroring),
  • continuing to work through my background-noise-friendly workout playlist,
  • and finally–finally–getting an upload-worthy video out of Ring Fit Adventure!

 

The video ended up being quite a bit longer than planned, which of course added significantly to rendering, uploading, and processing-on-YouTube’s-end time.

I elected to play Ring Fit’s intro video “later” with the idea being that I would move right in to showing what the first stage looks like instead of making my viewers sit through or skip past five minutes or so of exposition. Well, “move right in” after the character creation process, of course, in which I list off a few of the settings that users can change after the fact if they choose to do so. (I’m planning a short video–fixed-image only–in which I actually demonstrate the ability to change those settings.) But once the stage was done, I discovered (or perhaps was reminded, since I had played this once back when I bought it in 2019) that “later” meant “at the end of the stage,” not “whenever I feel like it”–the expository scene started playing right as soon as I finished the level, before I was even prompted to start the next level or play a cool-down stretch.

Speaking of the cool-down, anyone who chooses to watch the entire video not only can pick up my random commentary, they can also see me attempt the (optional) stretches at the end… the key word being “attempt.” I’m thinking I’ll probably want to keep doing those on camera as an additional measure of my progress, such that it might be.

 

I also discovered that those pajamas aren’t quite enough to keep the leg strap from sliding down, though unlike my blue jeans which are simply too loose, I think the problem is that the material doesn’t have enough friction for the purpose. Still, they feel like they’ll work until I’m confident enough of the weather to wear shorts, which even with a whole-house heater may not happen until springtime.

 

And of course I encountered another technical… situation. I discovered, while in the process of rendering the videos for upload, that the camera kept panning around the room. Upon doing a quick Google search I discovered this to be tied to the GoPro Fusion’s stabilization function; since I haven’t encountered this problem in my Wii Fit body tests, my guess is that all of that running in place had me pounding the floor hard enough to jostle it. Thankfully, this was a setting I could switch off in the rendering stage and not something that required re-recording, but I will have to remember that for future videos.

 

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Workout Week 5 and Feb 2021 Monthly Update

Such that it is.

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Photography Practice

The first update would be my monthly “before and after” photos. First there is the beginning of the year, followed, of course, by current photos:

Not a whole lot of difference… yet. Methinks I need to adjust the position of my camera mount, though; February’s photos look oddly angled and zoomed in more than January’s. (And all it takes is jostling it once and I’ll have no easy way of knowing that it’s in a different position until after I snap the photo.)

I had hoped to show either or both group using WordPress’s built-in gallery feature, but I’m still playing around with that to see if there’s a way to eliminate most of the white space between photos.

 

Update: Forgot to include my “weight loss” for the month

I think FitBit needs is a “custom range” option–just today, a full month at a time (not just the rolling 30 days you see here), things like that. I mean, a single day at a time I could do straight from the app’s main page, but it would be nice to have other options on the actual chart….

 

Gaming Footage

I finally got around to recording the character creation for RingFit!

And…. I have to rerecord it because the TV’s backlight was on again. *headdesk* Maybe five minutes after I recorded decent footage for the Wii Fit U body test, at that, so either I got lucky with Wii Fit or the backlight switched itself back on between games and game systems. Hard to say; on the one hand, the idea of the backlight switching itself on just seems weird, but on the other hand, I want to lean towards that theory because the lighting for Wii Fit was much better than it was the first time around.

And since the nephew was over again, naturally on both days I have off, I didn’t get anything recorded until after he left for the night and therefore didn’t discover the error until I had to get ready for bed and the next round of work shifts.

 

On the plus side, I did discover a few things.

One: the leg strap does not work very well with jeans. Their design just makes them too loose, and the strap keeps sliding down my leg no matter how much I tighten it down. It probably won’t work with most of my pajamas either, though I might have one set that’s snug enough (by virtue of it technically being too small) to work. The whole thing is designed to wear with shorts or leggings, but it’s cold enough to make me hesitate on the one and I simply don’t own the other… unless, again, you count the pjs that are “technically too small.”

Two: check the backlight before every recording session; don’t just assume that it’s set to what I want it to. (Bleh.)

Three: I tried a couple of different recording angles including sitting the camera directly in front of the TV instead of to the side. While this position slightly blocks my view of the screen (I may want to drop the tripod a little), I think it makes for better footage. On a similar note, pointing the “camera” at the TV while rendering makes for better 360 footage, as the default position, which is the only position when the viewing device doesn’t support 360 (case in point, my cable box) will actually show something of the game instead of pointing vaguely to the side of the room. I still need to come up with my own thumbnails instead of relying on YouTube to suggest frames for me, but I think the footage looks better than it did the last time.

And once again, the Fitness games playlist if you’d like to keep an eye out for my other videos.

Zombies, Run!

The last two workouts of “week 3” in the couch-to-5K app… and I made it faster than before. Still without any actual running involved, and no major sciatica flare-up this time. Granted, the weather was decent most of the week, and the roads, even mine, had been cleared off before I set out to do my walk, so that made a considerable difference to both my speed and the lack of back pain, but I’m still amazed at those numbers.

Next up is “week 4,” which, for anyone new to the app will require either a paid Abel Runner’s Club membership that syncs with the main app (and which unlocks all missions in The Walk, while you’re at it) or a this-app-only payment to unlock the remaining missions.

Now if only they’d make a monthly version of the VIP so I can get the rest of the virtual races while still automating my Kasasa transactions….

 

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Workout Week 4–Guesting and Testing

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And one of these days I’ll quit using corny titles for these posts. 😉 Not because I’ll choose to knock it off, but because I won’t be able to come up with one that I like.

Anywho, another week of no new footage. Technically speaking.

This time around, my nephew came over to stay a few nights, and since the spare bedroom was converted to a storage room several months ago, my folks put up a queen-sized airbed for him in the living room, right smack in front of the gaming system. So I had no floor space to speak of without deflating that mattress on a daily basis, and since it takes forever to inflate and doesn’t hold air properly in the first place and… you get the idea. I didn’t use the area so I didn’t play any of those games.

On the plus side, that gave me time for a few other things. For instance, I started work on tweaking my “outdoor workout” playlist–the current list as recognized by the Zombies Run app is full of everything I got from the soundtracks for my assorted indie games, set to shuffle, so naturally I’ll randomly come across a few that just don’t work for me. Case in point, one track that was nothing but talking–not singing, not chanting, talking; a rather unusual track to hear in the middle of what amounts to an audiobook, and I suspect that one was the “narration” track for Dust that is included with the game download rather than something included with any of the official soundtracks.

On a more critical note, it also gave me more time to test an issue I discovered with my available footage. If you saw the note I added to the previous post, or saw the video in question, you’ll notice that the video I recorded and rendered as 360… didn’t show up on YouTube as 360. I was not, at the time, sure why it didn’t show as 360, and to be honest I still don’t know: upon reinstalling all of the relevant software it showed on GoPro’s own “VR” viewer as 360, so I didn’t accidentally upload the wrong video, and two other videos (one on my motorcycle channel and the test video linked below from the gaming channel) both present as 360 without the need to “inject” the file that YouTube offers for the purpose.

Best I can figure is that it just glitched out somewhere along the way.

In that case, this post provides two moments of footage for comparison: the original Hero 5 footage as linked in the previous post and the test footage from the Fusion 360.

Or you can visit the Fitness Games playlist on my channel to keep an eye out for any (fingers crossed) new videos.

As mentioned in the previous post, I’ll need to do something about the ambient lighting and/or editing on the computer’s side of things to make the footage less grainy, not to mention find a better mount for the camera… or just switch to using only the 360 Fusion. I haven’t decided yet but I’m leaning heavily towards the “use only one camera” option.

This one is nothing more than a smaller clip of the footage I’d recorded the first time (thank goodness I still had the original files, usually I delete them to clear up space right after I’m finished editing and rendering… or think I’m finished in this case). At this point I think the plan is to use Wii Fit’s body test mode as another “before and after” thing, done once a month to show if I’ve made any progress and by how much, rather than the weekly thing that I keep not doing with my other workout options.

I might choose to move the camera to the other side of the TV so the lamp doesn’t shine right at it, but the current position was based on finding a spot where it would consistently be out of the way while I exercise. Barring that, there is still the option of skipping the “360 degrees” idea and just editing both sides of the camera into a single still image via the likes of OBS as my only upload options; that would make it easier to grab a frame for a thumbnail, at any rate. I’ll still have to see how that works with my currently available footage before I make any decisions.

 

And finally, there is the Zombies Run! progress.

Monday’s mission was par for the course from previous weeks, which I must confess I found a little surprising: I had two separate delays in the form of A) still being in the house while the intro was playing (I don’t actually know if the app includes that time in my stats but I usually start playing the mission as soon as I’m out the door and ready to start walking), and B) not realizing until I was down to one end of the street that I’d forgotten my reflective vest and having to slow down a little for the purpose of heading inside and putting it on.

But Wednesday’s workout was especially surprising. This one starts the “week 3” round of training, with a considerably longer session once I was done than anything that I’ve done before… and not only did my energy not flag enough to slow down my average pace, I actually went faster than any of my previous sessions. Of course I paid for that the next day, when it took a couple of hours into my shift at work before my sciatica flair-up died down; given that I work a retail position that has me on my feet all day, I doubt that the “walking for 40 plus minutes” is to blame, but a combination of the pace and the way the weather affects the terrain and even how the ice kept trying to convince me to do the splits are all likely major contributors.

(And can I say that sciatica just doesn’t make sense? You wake up in the morning with back pain, that’s your body telling you “I’ve been injured, I need to protect myself,” so you don’t want to move… but moving is exactly what you need to do to help it go away! It’s a complete contradiction of the function pain serves.)

 

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