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 22 and June Monthly Update

(Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate links included where possible and I deem them relevant. I’ll earn a small commission, as described in my privacy policy from eligible purchases made through these links.)

 

As predicted, I’m starting to gain weight again following the previous week’s cold and loss of appetite.

Dang. I knew that was too easy; weight loss due to not eating is neither healthy nor particularly effective, but some part of me was hoping….

Oh, well. Even if I had kept it off I’d still have to keep working at losing even more. But on the plus side, I did go and buy those 34-waist jeans (same style, same size) in response to the 35’s sliding down my butt, and the 34’s are, as I’d previously announced the 35’s to be, “snug but wearable.” And yet, I still can’t fasten up the 35-waist firehose I bought for work! (Different style from the 36’s I’ve been wearing, as the odd numbers don’t seem to be available in a flex-style, so maybe 34’s would fit?)

 

But on to the imagery!

 

(Still trying to work out what’s going on with the lighting. It’s been the same camera the whole time but it’s only the last few months–including the ones at the same wall as the January photos–that my photos have getting washed out by my overhead fixture. Need to replace my curtains one of these days, too, but that’s not the source of the light.)

Hmm… maybe a tiny change from January to now? Hard to say if I’m actually getting smaller or if my boobs were just sticking out more in the first photo due to the position of my bra. Though I’m not seeing that weird back bulge in the June photos, so… visual progress?

If only my inner thighs would shrink so easily; if I could choose where to lose weight that’s the first place I’d focus on. I don’t need a visible gap, I just want my thighs to stop rubbing when I walk (not “stop chafing when they inevitably rub,” stop rubbing), but all of my pants are baggy in the crotch area…. and of course I can’t get smaller pairs to eliminate the baggy without first losing enough weight to wear smaller waistlines. I mean, I can understand that with my jeans and work pants, seeing as I buy those in the men’s department, not to mention I prefer relaxed fit… but why in God’s name does my sleepwear, bought in the women’s department, have ball room?

 

Anyway, ranting about clothing aside, on to the purpose of this post, starting with the Wii Fit fitness test:

My weight’s clearly gone down a bit since the last test, but as per the whole “I’ve been getting over a cold” situation, this represents a weight gain compared to what it was at the end of my cold as you’ll see towards the end of the post.

 

With Zombies Run, I’ve done a few more homefront exercises, gotten the full points possible on the Ring Fit’s multitask mode without syncing it over three days, and nearly completed the 5K “training” app.

Actually the points I got on Ring Fit might’ve included four days’ worth of Homefront…. I just don’t remember syncing after Tuesday (episode 14) and I know I didn’t use it on Wednesday due to my wrists being tired from work-related reasons (the monthly-or-so scanning out the entire contents of our value movie bins, and scanning each individual movie to verify if it can go back in the bin or what date it can be sent back to home office involved moving one hand in such a way that I didn’t want to do anything with the ring by the time I got home).

The result, though, was that I got the full 500 points fairly early on Sunday (episode 18) after which point I spent the whole workout just walking back and forth across my room. No “workouts,” not when it was after midnight, my parents were asleep, and Sam’s telling me to clean up the house in place of doing formal exercises, just walking.

 

 

I’m thinking of increasing my workouts to two per day off from work (not counting the Zombies Run evening walks)… and rigging my randomizer to pick a workout from every system I have throughout the week so that part is just a tiny bit less random. I’d just need to figure out a better rhythm for the rendering/editing side of things, since that’s the most time-consuming part of the process.

But “recordable workout” besides the point, I could–and honestly should–just jump on the exercise bike and watch Netflix while my computer is using the camera. Found it said best on FaceBook:

 

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Workout Week 21–Sick Days

(Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate links included where possible and I deem them relevant. I’ll earn a small commission, as described in my privacy policy from eligible purchases made through these links.)

 

Nothing serious, just one of those annoying summer colds that are bound to make the rounds again now that so many people are finally getting covid vaccinations so we can go maskless again. (Kinda wonder if everyone had been wearing a mask and practicing social distancing during the pandemic, if the cold virus would have just up and died. Probably not… that would’ve been too convenient.)

But of course even a simple cold does have a way of interfering with plans. Like the fact that the accompanying aches and pains and the cold medicine made me prioritize sleep over getting my workouts done (not that that stopped me from reading late at night), or the loss of appetite (didn’t even realize how much less I’ve been eating until stepping onto the scale) making me nervous about how much weight I’m likely to gain back once my appetite has recovered… starvation mode, don’t ya know? (Or for those who think it’s a myth because they equate the term with literal starvation, “wrecking my metabolism by eating way less than I’m accustomed to, but still eating plenty” mode). On that second note, I can’t help but wonder where the weight is lost from… though I’m sure it’s too much to hope that my body is burning extra fat to fight off illness.

 

I did get some workouts in before I took sick, so on to the visual media!

 

For Monday, the randomizer finally remembered that I have other game systems to choose from, and it selected the Core Crushing mini-game from Ring Fit Adventure.

I confess I’m surprised to have to done that well–the bats’ tendency to immediately return to a “relaxed” state during the tutorial even without me letting go of the Ring threw me off about how hard it would be to get them into position when I needed them, and I expected even the “novice” mode to be harder than it was.

Also, I added a new column to my spreadsheet (well, added it a few weeks ago because of Beat Saber’s leaderboards, this is just the first time I’ve had occasion to use it). See, I don’t know (yet) if the game will show my highest score the way Wii Fit does, and since the mini-games have their own score tiers and difficulty levels I’ll be doing them at a progressive “once I get the highest tier” rate just like I’ll be doing with my other games… which means I need some guaranteed way to track what score I’ve gotten. So the extra column is simply a place to list whatever highest score I’d gotten (“B” in this case), and once I get the highest available score tier (which I believe is “S”) I know I can move on to the next difficulty level. Though who knows? Maybe my score will show when I open the game again and I won’t actually need that column… or maybe my family will finally jump in and give these games a try and I’ll need that column to track my score as distinct from their scores.

 

And I did make a little progress in Zombies Run, the 5K app and Homefront alike.

I had expected to finish ZR5K the week of my birthday, but repeating the previous episode due to phone issues and getting sick this week put a damper on that plan. Oh, well.

 

In other news, I received my Cybershoes Oculus Quest kit on Friday, so as soon as I get that set up that gives me three different “walking in the real world” VR systems to try… the others being the 3dRudder and WalkOvr that I’ve had for maybe a year and never got around to setting up. (This seems to be a thing with me and VR.)

I should probably vacuum my room first; that Cybercarpet is a big rug. (And not a very comfortable one, I’ll want to drag in a yoga mat for any Homefront workouts that require getting on the floor.)

I also caved and bought myself a Polar H10 heart rate monitor, for use with both VRHealth (a phone app) and Yur (calorie tracking etc via Steam); neither app is compatible with FitBit–which isn’t terribly surprising given the device’s lack of real-time updates–else I would’ve just used that for the purpose. At the rate I’m going I’ll need more of those headphone desk clamps just to hang all of this stuff up… trying not to put more holes in the wall but I’ll need somewhere to store this stuff that isn’t the middle of my floor or under the bed while I continue trying to declutter everything else.

 

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Workout Week 20–Workout Gear

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In which I splurge on additional equipment and finally try casting the Oculus to my PC… only to find out it’s easier said than done.

 

Two gamiefied workouts this time (funny how the plan was to start increasing that to twice a week once I’d made a dent in the non-gaming backlog… and I still haven’t touched the backlog) plus a lazy attempt at recording Beat Saber.

First we have my randomizer’s obsession with Wii Fit despite all of the other games to choose from, starting with….

The yoga move called a Chair Pose:

If you’ll remember me commenting throughout the Ring Fit videos, I hate this pose. In hindsight amateur that I am thinks it’s practically the same thing as doing squats, with the critical difference being duration–several ups and downs in the span of, say, a minute, versus trying to hold the pose for the full minute.

But the randomizer said to do it, and short of rigging it for when I don’t have access to the TV (that’d be where the Beat Saber/PC test came in) I’m going to try to follow the randomizer.

That one was followed by another yoga move that I find difficult for a very different reason, the Standing Knee:

Here the difficulty is mostly a lack of balance on my part. Inner-ear issues, ya know? (I was one of those kids… and while my hearing isn’t at “I need a hearing aid” levels the chronic infections and subsequent surgeries had a lasting effect on pretty much anything pertaining to my ears.)

I’m going to try to do this workout now and again without holding onto something–there doesn’t seem to be an advanced mode to unlock so the change in score won’t interfere with that–in the hopes that I can get a more accurate measure of any improvement… but I’d do so knowing full well that my score will be much worse without that support.

 

And then there is the lazy attempt at recording Beat Saber via my computer.

Why lazy? *shrug* Because the entire point of the video was to try out a different recording option in the form of Oculus’s own “casting” page (requires Chrome or Microsoft Edge)–no “exercising” this time around–so I simply played it while sitting down.

The real work in this video was in getting the computer set up to something I like. For the purpose of this test I used Bandicam (I have a paid lifetime license so I figured I’d start with that before trying to learn a different program like OBS), on the grounds that it supports the use of recording webcam footage as part of the video. Should be simple enough in theory.

Except the webcam side of things was really, really laggy. We’re talking “really super old outdated webcam” kind of laggy (it’s a Razer Stargazer if you’re curious–technically outdated but not enough to justify this sort of problem), where it looks the person you’re chatting with is jumping around the room instead of anything that could even remotely be described as “smooth.” The gameplay footage was fine with Bandicam, and the webcam footage was smooth enough when using Window’s built in camera app… and I’m pretty sure Bandicam cooperated with everything before I’d factory reset my computer earlier this year so I really have no idea why it didn’t work right this time around.

Due to the webcam lagging, I wound up recording with both the camera app and Bandicam at the same time, with much better results than Bandicam alone. Obviously I’ll want to make some changes, like repositioning the windows so there aren’t all of those black bars to crop out (I might just leave the camera behind the browser and then combine footage the way I’d been doing for the split screen videos), not to mention figuring out why Bandicam doesn’t like my webcam right now, but in terms of lagging, syncing, etc, this version came out so much better than trying Chromecast or screen mirroring on my TV.

But there is also the matter of sound. Because apparently it is a common problem that the browser-based casting page completely fails to transmit sound from the Quest to the computer. I mean, I guess the webcam picked up the sound okay, better than I thought when I originally uploaded (see my rambling in the video’s description to see what I mean), but I’d really rather it be part of the “in-game” audio that the screen capture can pick up alongside of the video. So until I can find something that says how to properly transmit the sound via casting, my next plan is to get my hands on a wearable microphone (connected wirelessly to the computer so I have the same freedom of movement that the untethered Quest normally gives me) to see if that solves the problem… and I think I’m going to start by pairing my Aftershokz to the computer for the job.

Barring all of that I might just stick with the 360/split-screen option from my Fusion for sake of consistent video formats and only worry about screen capture once I’ve got something set up for mixed reality.

 

But speaking of the Aftershokz, there is finally the matter of my excursions with Zombies Run!

First on the list is the next two sessions in the 5K app:

You’ll notice both of those are from the same episode… but with vastly different results. I’ve noticed this entire time that my phone, no matter what power mode it’s on, will always effectively kill parts of this app as soon as the phone goes to sleep. Normally this just means that the display doesn’t update–no ability to see how far I’ve “run” or for how long or anything like that–but it still gives me reasonably accurate numbers once I’ve ended the mission. (I say “reasonably” accurate because Charity Miles keeps giving me almost a full mile more than ZR for the exact same outing–I haven’t tried tracing my route yet so I don’t know which app is wrong.)

On Monday, though… well, I’m not sure how my phone ended up on “medium” power mode, but not only did it kill the app’s ability to update the display, it also killed the app’s ability to use the phone’s GPS, without affecting its ability to track the time I was using it! (Charity Miles shows all of my mileage for a given day, not just during the time I’m actively using the app, so it’s hard to be sure but it looks like CM was accurately tracking my GPS… or as accurately as it normally does.)

And of course there’s no ability to completely disable sleep mode like you could freely choose to do on a computer. The only related options I’ve found are to set the display to stay awake for the longest duration available (ten minutes of idle time) or to set the “stay awake” function in developer options to make it just… stay awake indefinitely (which only applies when it’s charging). I’ve ordered a charging case to see if it will work with that second choice, but until I receive it I may want to get in the habit of tapping the screen periodically to keep the phone from going to sleep.

 

And with Homefront I got my hands on a “sit up machine” which actually supports my back enough to encourage proper form (seriously, why do things like the Ab Roller only support your head?) as well as hauling the Ring Con into my room to use during “dance” segments.

Regarding the Ring Con, now I kinda wish I’d held on to the Joy Con charger, instead of donating it the local thrift store once I got that charging stand for the entire console, so I could just keep one of the Joy Cons charging in my room for the purpose. But I figure by the time I’ve decluttered enough to have somewhere to put it I’ll probably be done with Homefront anyway. (I did locate my charging grip, though, so that should help if I do end up needing it.)

As it turns out, I am not getting the full 500 daily multitask points on Ring Fit from using it during Homefront’s dancing segments. But I’m still getting more than what I’d get if I left the Ring in the living room, and that’s what counts.

 

Suggested products in use, Amazon Affiliate links included where possible:

  • GoPro Fusion 360 degree camera
  • Wii Fit U plus Fit Meter
  • Wii Fit U digital version (there are different price points on Amazon but as much as I’d like to support secondary sellers I haven’t decided how I feel about buying a digital copy from them, though there’s always the option of just buying a Nintendo gift card and buying the game straight from the Nintendo shop)
  • Wii Fit Balance Board plus Fit Meter (This is the bundle to get if you go straight for the digital version without owning hardware from the previous incarnations)
  • Fit Meter (green) or Fit Meter (black) (the color is solely a matter of personal preference)
  • Full Wii Fit U bundle (game, balance board, fit meter)
  • Core Max Home Gym a.k.a. “sit-up machine” (There are actually eight recommended workouts for this thing, but sit-ups are what I bought for so “sit-up machine” it is. 😉 And unlike the previously mentioned Ab Roller, this can be folded down and shoved under my bed alongside the step deck, so no cluttering up the floor when I need the space for other things.)
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Workout Week 19–Poor Time Management

(Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate links included where possible and I deem them relevant. I’ll earn a small commission, as described in my privacy policy from eligible purchases made through these links.)

 

This time around, I slacked off for reasons that have little to do with procrastination and much to do with simply not realizing how long of a delay assorted chores would take me. (Technically, I did, after all, “put it off for later” but it wasn’t originally “later” simply never coming but rather was about having a concrete task I needed to get done first and that task taking longer than planned.)

 

Case in point, the fact that my nephew’s sleeping bag was occupying the gaming area again on Monday despite there being plenty of room off to the side where it wouldn’t be in my way. By the time I finished my daily chores and moved his bedding out of the way where it wouldn’t be a problem, he was on his way home from work, I didn’t have the slightest idea how much time I really had before impending interruptions, so I retreated to my room instead of doing a random workout then and there.

And then I don’t remember what I spent the rest of the day doing (certainly not setting up my computer to cast Beat Saber), but by the time I was done with chores and errands it was so late in the day that I couldn’t even do Zombies Run because the sun would set long before I got back home. (Safety concerns; I’ve never gone for walks when the sun is down.)

 

Fast-forward to Thursday when my parents were heading out for a meeting with their motorcycle group and I fully planned on getting started on the workouts after they’d left so there’d be no chance of interruptions and the camera overhearing them getting ready and all.

And they left far later than I had anticipated, plus I still had errands of my own that needed doing (car wash, haircut, drop off stuff to the thrift store, and buy milk since we were out and I’d need some for myself while they were gone). The result being that my “morning” workout on the game console took place late afternoon and was followed immediately by a session with Zombies Run.

 

But it wasn’t a total loss; I still got some exercise in.

For the random workout, my spreadsheet selected the Core Luge from Wii Fit U:

 

And for Zombies Run I started on “Week 7” in the 5K app as well as doing two workouts in Homefromt.

 

Why only two? Well…. that goes back to the “I was procrastinating but not technically“… See, I’d also decided to take advantage of my parents’ absence by watching a few movies when I got home from work (stuff I’d bought for me for cheap with the full expectation of watching it once and then adding it to the donate pile) only for showering, dinner, and watching the movie to take long enough that I really didn’t want to stay up late enough to do another workout when I had to work the next day.

And then Sunday I just decided to go to bed earlier than what I’d been doing rather than doing the workout.

 

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Workout Week 18 and May Monthly Update

(Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate links included where possible and I deem them relevant. I’ll earn a small commission, as described in my privacy policy from eligible purchases made through these links.)

 

Another monthly update, getting off my unintentional hiatus in Zombies Run (and starting homefront while I’m at it), and finally starting to use my workout randomizer to get two videos in per week instead of only one.

All while still procrastinating on all of my other content. So much for the “I plan to do this twice a week once I’ve made a dent in my backlog,” but I suppose the fact that I’m doing more on something counts for, well, something. 😉

 

First we have the before/after photos in which my change in decor completely throws consistency out the window:

I had actually intended to start using my GoPro Hero 5 for this, but since I haven’t been using it since the first time I tested my recording options (no motorcycle rides yet), I haven’t been keeping the battery charged. Maybe I’ll remember next time, but for now, phone again it is.

The assorted GoPro adapters, arms, gooseneck, and clamp I used to attach the phone to my desk (along with the Grifiti Nootle universal mount I’d originally acquired to add my phone to the pile of motorcycle-worthy cameras… only to give up on the idea after a couple of videos) work a lot better than the phone-centric desk mount I had before, though. While the gooseneck and clamp make this set-up quite a bit pricier for the purpose, they’re also a lot easier to adjust as needed (and a lot harder to accidentally knock out of position), which means I could conceivably transport this thing back and forth between my desk and my motorcycle without needing too much effort to get it re-situated each time.

 

But to continue the subject of consistency, though, I need to pick out an actual order in which to feature my videos and still images. I’ll have to check, but I’m pretty sure I’ve been putting these photos (and everything else) just kind of… all over the place this entire time. Well, in the monthly updates at least; the weekly “I’m just playing video games” updates don’t include much that even needs uploading so they’ve mostly been “video-then-Zombies-Run” if I remember right.

Anyone willing to weigh in on what order looks best to them before I make a final decision? And for that matter, whether I decide if it’s worth editing my older posts to account for any change in order?

 

And to return to the point of these posts, there is my May monthly fitness test:

and my randomizer-selected extremely short (I did say I’d be doing a single activity per video, did I not?) “first” attempt at Wii Fit’s Ski Slalom:

Hmm… on the one hand, the amount of light coming in through the curtains isn’t bad (barring nasty weather or having to do another workout after dark), but on the other hand there’s the matter of the light reflecting off of the TV screen the way it does. I’m really not open to cluttering up the place more by adding things like studio lights, but I wonder if there’s anything I could just add to that limited space to get me better lighting without having to rely on open curtains or dragging lamps around the room?

Like maybe something that could just go on the entertainment center and use a battery or the TV’s USB ports instead of needing a wall plugin, since this room doesn’t include a ceiling fixture. Or since there are a few ceiling hooks in that corner of the room, maybe I could persuade my folks to let me put up a nice swag lamp for the purpose; I’d just have to run the cord along the wall to get to the next outlet over.

 

And of course getting back in to Zombies, Run.

I finished out the last two days of “week 6” in the C25K app via two days off from work (going out in the afternoon evening due to changes in my work schedule instead of my original “routine” of doing it first thing in the morning):

And Homefront, which I don’t need to do because it’s technically for covid/lockdown but I wanted to do anyway (for the same reason I want to do the virtual runs: it’s “extra story”), every night when I got home from work, which with my schedule typically meant going to bed around 2 in the morning.

I cannot believe how difficult that “dead bug” (or to paraphrase Sam’s description, “puppy wanting a belly rub”) exercise in episode 1 was.

Or how easy the inchworm in episode 4 was, considering I’m terrible at planks (improper form and curving my back more than I ought probably had something to do with that).

And the incline press in episode 3? Considering I have a hard time not doing those types of workouts on my knees (that would be a variation of the “I’m terrible at planks” issue), I probably ought to invest in a kneeling-friendly mat to lay on my floor, even if it’s just a small yoga mat or similar that I can slide under my bed when not in use. I have the Cybershoes kit on preorder but I suspect the included rug won’t be any more kneeling-friendly than my carpet, and even if it was it might not be that easy to reposition as needed between this and VR.

Next time I think I’ll want to bring in my Ring Con so I can start earning my Multitask points during any workouts that don’t require my hands. Heck, as long as the homefront episodes have been (at the shortest possible length), I might easily hit the 500 daily point limit just during the “dance” sections and not need the Ring Con during specific workouts at all!

 

And for this month’s bookend (before I pick a specific order), my actual changes in weight.

 

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Workout Week 17–End of a (Vive Infinity) Era

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Between the usual “running errands,” two different doctor’s appointments (one dental, one the second covid shot), and taking advantage of my change in decor to try a few things in VR–and of course adding pure laziness/procrastination to the mix–I ended up not doing any particular workouts this week.

Instead, I spent most of my gaming time sampling the VR games I’d selected via Vive Infinity.

 

For those who are unfamiliar with the program, Vive Infinity is a subscription service via Vive’s own VR game store that, similar to the Kindle Unlimited for ebooks that I’ve written about in a few other posts, allows you to “borrow” eligible games for as long as you have the subscription.

And like I’ve done before with KU, I used it not as an alternative to buying those games outright, but as a means to discover if I was likely to enjoy those games enough to buy them outright.

Granted, unlike my reading habits, I tend to take so long getting around to playing video games (case in point, the fact that I had purchased a year-long subscription but barely touched it until the year was almost up) that the cost to subscribe to Vive Infinity would’ve outweighed the benefits of using it to sample these games, were it not for the fact that I’d gotten the subscription on sale for roughly the cost of one or two games. So useful the first time, but not something I anticipate signing up for again unless I see another sale.

 

And I have indeed made some discoveries.

For instance, when posting elsewhere about some of the glitches and lags I experienced, I discovered that my internet connection is not quite up to par to play PCVR games on my Quest. The suggestions I’ve received are to add other devices to the network–in the form of another router (not merely upgrading the house router but specifically adding one to my gaming area) or an access point–and I’ve also found much online about the benefit of having a band dedicated solely to using in VR.

Price and lack of space being what they are, I suspect my first move would be to upgrade the house router (which needs upgrading anyway–it was $40 on clearance a few years ago so already outdated and probably not a high-quality model to begin with), maybe to a tri-band model if I can find one for a decent price (so I really can have one band used solely for VR while still having 5 GHz available for other devices that support it). Despite the previous suggestions, this might be enough to fix the problems I’ve been experiencing.

After that, who knows? Perhaps by the time I can justify the cost of the extra equipment my room might be decluttered enough to support the presence of yet another router or everything else I’ve been told to install… or perhaps, space depending, I’ll just bite the bullet and get a VR system intended specifically for use with the PC. Meanwhile I should look into physically connecting my Quest to my PC in the form of a suitably long USB cable; while wireless is an asset to my clutzy self, for me the main draw of the Quest has always been about available floor space rather than the lack of a physical tether.

 

But speaking of the ongoing need to declutter, this was not my only discovery. No, I also managed to get a better idea of how much space I have with regard to specific types of games.

There is of course my test the previous week demonstrating my ability to play Beat Saber in the available space:

But there were a variety of game types in my selection of “samples,” and as such a variety of requirements.

  • Seated games of course have no problem, though I’ve noticed that even these sometimes have me reaching far enough that I see the guardian boundary pop up (at least if I have it set to stationary mode). Guess it depends on whether the game is really intended to play seated versus “it happens to be compatible.”
  • As mentioned, games like Beat Saber work well enough as even the “workout” really doesn’t force me to move much from my starting position… though I’ve smacked the pull chain on my ceiling fan twice in one session; I couldn’t feel it but I could hear it both times over the music and I could see it swinging wildly upon reviewing the footage above. I’m looking to see if I can get a “bladeless” ceiling fan for dust allergies, and I’ve noticed that most of these rely on a remote control, but until I find something locally I’ll just have to be careful with my swinging… and hope I don’t ever accidentally smack the pull-chain so hard it catches on the fan blades (I’ve done that before just from letting go too quickly when turning the fan on or off).
  • I have to be careful with “exploring” type games that actually have me physically moving around for navigation (I’ve smacked my desk, and knocked over the contents of my dresser, a few times despite both being outside of my guardian boundary). I’ve previously been moving my desk chair into the corner so it doesn’t block my view of the monitor/webcam (the chair is too high even at it’s lowest setting, the upcoming Cyberchair might work as an alternative here) or decrease my available space, but I’m thinking I might just have to leave it in front of the computer to provide an extra boundary between me and the desk.
  • And games like Oh Shape just don’t work in there because even in the tutorial some of the shapes put me outside of the guardian boundary. There is simply no workaround to this unless the devs themselves add an option to remain centered, so I’ll still be doing some games in the living room. VirZoom, likewise, requires the living room by virtue of requiring the exercise bike.

 

But space requirements are not the only discovery I’ve made. There is also the matter of why I went with Vive Infinity, and my thoughts on the games themselves.

One of the first games I tried (barring the brief encounter in FNAF) was Apocalypse Rider, the thus-far-only motorcycle game I’ve found. Content-wise, it seems on par with playing an arcade game, perhaps similar to a racing game albeit without an actual opponent to race against. There are several missions (most of which I’ve found via watching someone else play it on YouTube, I simply didn’t sample it enough to play them myself) that earn you points based on how quickly you get through the stretch of road, how far you get, how many times you’ve crashed or had near misses, etc, but the actual gameplay doesn’t vary much from one mission to the next. Not really the type of game I’d normally be interested in but it’s cheap enough that it may be worth obtaining as an occasional “something different.”

Moss is a game that actually confused me for a bit. Not “confused” as in I had no idea what’s going on or how to play it, but rather that the gameplay was so like playing a flat-screen game (with the obvious exception of having the monitor right in my face instead of sitting on my desk) that I still feel a bit puzzled as to why it needs to be VR. A useful way for people to transition, possibly, starting them with something they’re already familiar with instead of jumping straight into “this is how VR is different from flat screen games,” but I’ve seen plenty of games that have VR and non-VR modes and I think this could easily have been one of those if the devs had chosen to take that route. Then again, “samples” being what they are, it’s possible that I just haven’t gotten far enough into the game to see whatever it is that makes this impossible to play on a flat screen. Still, I liked this one enough to add it to my wishlist on the Quest… and on Steam.

Paper Beast was one I enjoyed for the graphics alone. I think I’ll be acquiring both the VR and the “Folded Edition” (non-VR) at some point, though as this is not currently available on the Quest my ability to play the VR version will be limited until I’ve solved my Quest-to-PC issues.

Into the Rabbit Hole gave me a “why is this only in VR” reaction similar to what Moss did, until I discovered areas where the control scheme does require VR… unless, I suppose, you’re in the habit of connecting two mouses to your computer. Haven’t really made up my mind if I’d like this one enough to buy outright, and it doesn’t help that this is one of the ones that kept glitching out courtesy of my internet connection.

I finally made a genuine attempt at FNAF VR, the game that officially started my interest in Vive Infinity (I’ve got a fellow gamer who keeps insisting I need to try the series despite my lack of interest in horror games), with the natural result that I died in the first night. Despite knowing what to expect from watching the other gamer in question, and his constantly watching the series on YouTube, I left the doors closed the whole time, practically obliterating my available power as a result, and subsequently met Freddy before Phone Guy was halfway through giving me instructions. Cue a very loud “Geez! Right in my face!” and realizing in hindsight that I should’ve been recording for my reaction… only to discover to my dismay that the game was no longer available for Infinity (my mild-OCD self had already removed it from my Vive library by this point so I couldn’t simply redownload it without buying it). I might consider buying this game if it goes on sale (I already have one $10 horror game I opted to try and am considering another), but $30 is a bit steep given my general lack of interest in the genre.

I was, however, amused enough by the “waiver” that I had to “agree to” early in the game that I restarted the whole thing just so I could record the intro:

Oh, and just like I suck at shooting game (guns) on the flat-screen, I also suck at shooting games (archery) in VR. Doesn’t matter whether I’m using a longbow or a crossbow, I simply can’t aim. Not sure how much of that is the control scheme and how much is being on a time crunch; as is typical of certain in-game mechanics (like those found in driving games) this is something that is much easier to do in real life than in any video game I’ve ever tried, and “controls” and “time” are both critical differences between the two. Ironic, given that I am the typical “I like archers best” when playing the Elder Scrolls series; this may not bode well once I get around to playing Skyrim VR, unless I choose to employ my self-imposed challenge of only using weapons I’ve found in whatever dungeon I’m currently exploring.

There were other games on my to-sample list, as well as free demos available on the Quest itself, but nothing that made any lasting impact, good or bad. The only other game for me to try at this point would be “Until You Fall,” which I had somehow miraculously purchased from Vive… entirely for free. The “purchase” happened because they were offering a promo that allowed annual Infinity members (and only annual members) to get the game for free; the “miraculous” part is because the promo showed up after I had elected to cancel my subscription instead of getting charged for another year, but before my current subscription actually ended, rendering me unexpectedly eligible.

 

And I did manage one change regarding actual workouts. I found, bought, and (eventually) received… a step deck designed to be used with the Wii Fit balance board.

Two of them, actually. The first is part of a 5-in-one kit that includes a few extra accessories that I can see myself using in conjunction with the Wii Fit (controller holders etc), but since I couldn’t find any pictures of what the step deck itself looks like I couldn’t be sure if I could use it on its own. (I’ve seen several that are little more than feet, connected by an “x” to presumably make the whole thing more stable, but without the balance board there’s barely any surface to step onto.)

Given that uncertainty (which turned out to be a correctly-anticipated problem as the kit does use the x-style risers), and given that I’ve been looking for a specific model that was proving hard to find, I continued looking even after purchasing the kit… and finally found a bundle on eBay that included both the specific model I was looking for and an extra balance board. Not sure if I really need the extra board for my specific purposes, but this way I can guarantee more durability than the deck alone (which, despite having the fully flat surface that was the reason for wanting that model, has a hollow drawer to store games etc in and therefore still might not be durable enough to use alone) without needing to carry my balance board back and forth between rooms. Once I’ve finished with Zombies Run Homefront, I can just add the extra balance board and whichever step deck I like least to the pile of things to be donated and use everything else in conjunction with the Wii Fit.

Given the difficulty finding these things, I doubt I’ll add them to future Amazon-affiliate suggested-products lists, but who knows?

 

The final change in response to my rearranged furniture has to do with the placement of my VR headset when charging it.

For a while I’ve been using a charging stand that stores the headset and controllers alike, but only charges the headset itself (I’ve since found many chargers for the controllers, but they all have mixed reviews that focus on the battery losing its connection mid-game with the controller).

And for a while this worked for me. The charger did not actually plug in to the headset, but rather involved a dongle that merely makes contact with the charger, so a certain amount of precision was required to get it to charge, but it didn’t usually require more than a little fidgeting to get it into place. When I finally got around to trying my VR Power counterweight (for comfort reasons), I discovered the weight was enough to keep the headset from making that contact, so I elected to leave the counterweight off of the headset when I wasn’t actually using it.

And then, one day, I put the headset on the charger before I went to bed, and come morning the light indicated it was still charging. And two days later I went to use it and got “low battery” warnings. Clearly it was making some contact, else the indicator light wouldn’t have been on, but just as clearly it was not consistently making the contact it needed. Another option was in order.

I found another charging stand online, one of those with the mixed reviews, and decided to take the risk. Upon receiving it, it took only a few minutes to set it up and begin using. One of the included controller batteries showed as being fully charged within a few seconds of inserting into the charger, while the other took some pushing around before the indicator light even turned on and showed it to be in need of charging. And the headset… still involved a dongle that merely makes contact with the charger.

I elected to return that one, leave the entire headset and counterweight “permanently” connected, and sit the whole kit on my filing cabinet to charge instead of in its former position on my desk.

Books look MUCH neater lined up on my desk than piled up on my filing cabinet… perhaps my signed copies can go here whenever I finish reading and redonating everything else, so I can get rid of the shelf unit occupying most of my closet.

At some point I’ll get another stand so I can set up the headset and controllers properly, but charging is just going to involve physically plugging in a USB cord. Sadly this does not involve charging through the counterweight (which is also a spare battery) because for some reason the headset just… stops charging after a few seconds. So if I want to keep the accessory charged and not use it solely as a counterweight, I’ll need to dig out another suitable-length USB cable and find myself a dual USB charger.

 

Suggested products in use, Amazon Affiliate links included where possible:

  • Oculus Quest (I have the original, thus the link. I’d done some research on the 2 to decide how it would most likely affect my migraines–weight plus IPD–and decided my best bet was just to stick with what I have.)
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Workout Week 16–Redecorating

(Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate links included where possible and I deem them relevant. I’ll earn a small commission, as described in my privacy policy from eligible purchases made through these links.)

 

So I did another footage-unfriendly workout, which is to say I did a lot of real-world heavy lifting and practically no gaming.

But unlike installing a microwave with my parents, this time the heavy lifting relates to the gaming (somewhat) because I was rearranging the furniture in my bedroom to get more floorspace! No more need to invest a thousand K or so into a Murphy bed (though the temptation remains), I’ve instead pushed around my desk to the wall opposite my window to make room to push my bed into the corner; while this doesn’t give me a truly roomscale area, and even the amount of moving Beat Saber requires kept making the guardian boundary pop up (worse than in the living room), and I am still completely dependent on Virtual Desktop/link cable for PCVR options because I have nowhere to put the lighthouses or whatever that other systems use, I at least have enough space that the headset no longer restricts me to stationary-mode-only.

 

There are some drawbacks, of course. For starters, I measured for dimensions but neglected to account for the position of outlets and light switches. (Measure twice clearly doesn’t apply solely to cutting things.) My bed now effectively blocks the outlet my computer had previously used, making it necessary to reach underneath to deal with my electric blanket and similar; my desk, likewise, sits in front of the outlet I’d formerly used for the aforementioned electric blanket, making it very annoying to get the particularly sizeable powerline adapter plugged in when I need ethernet.

And the bed’s position in the corner makes it harder to make the bed. (Not as hard as the full-size brass bed was!)

And I feel like I should do something about the light leakage around my curtains hitting my pillow in the morning.

But compared to simply having room to move around? Even without factoring in the desire to do gaming/exercises in there? Acceptable drawbacks.

 

Before/after/demo (literally demonstrating my available space by using the Beat Saber demo) featured below:

Of course, as you can see when comparing the “before” and “after” part of that video, that rearranging did result in having less desk space as I had to remove the side-arm to make room for the bed. So that adds to the perpetual need to declutter, which I don’t see myself making much progress on until I’ve made a bigger dent in that pile of books on the dresser (and everywhere else), I need to keep the floor clear… and though it doesn’t affect the “floor space” issue I also need to make another trip through my closet and hopefully find stuff that is no longer worth keeping. And figure out a better place for all those dust magnets plushies hanging directly over my pillow….

 

The demo in that video simply used my webcam to get the real-world footage combined with in-game recording; no streaming involved. The whole point was, as alluded to within the video, so I could see myself playing from an outsider’s perspective and review just how much space I really have. That being the case, I have one final test planned: to use Oculus’s own streaming service to “cast” to my web browser, maybe include a screen recorder that can add real-world footage at the same time (no need to edit for timing if I do that). Oh, and I suppose get my hands on a green screen so I can add mixed reality to my options; I kinda want to see if my curtains would be good enough for that, but with how thin they’re getting they ought to be replaced first, plus I need to get the curtain rod repositioned so there isn’t so much light leakage.

I do have other things to test but as they don’t relate to “recording options” I expect I’ll just use them until I decide I don’t like them. That’d be the 3drudder I bought a couple of years back (and only got around to opening a day or two after rearranging my furniture), the Walkovr that I similarly have had for a substantial period of time but haven’t tried yet, and the Cybershoes that I am awaiting shipment on.

 

And speaking of awaiting shipment, there are other workout-based benefits to the change in decor. For one thing, I now have more space available for non-recordable workouts like the Zombies, Run homefront, though there is still the matter of some of those workouts requiring additional equipment. I finally made the executive decision to simply buy a step deck rather than the “sturdy box” that I had originally assumed I would keep in my room once I no longer needed it for homefront; the plan now is to use an actual step deck in the living room post-hf in conjunction with Wii Fit, so I tracked down one made specifically for use with the Balance Board. Given the game’s age, such an accessory was much harder to find than I anticipated (either a lot of people are still using theirs and unwilling to give them up, or a lot of people simply threw them out due to damage or other reasons over the years… always assuming there was that great of a supply to begin with).

And of course there is the option (now certainty) of recording my workouts in my bedroom should I have another “guesting” moment to occupy my normal gaming area. Well, my VR workouts, at least; not so much for the console games, but I can always rig up my randomizer to give me a VR result (which, given the number of options, will mostly mean Beat Saber) if needed. I may want to clip my webcam to the front of my desk for some of those workouts, though….

 

Suggested products in use, Amazon Affiliate links included where possible:

  • Oculus Quest (I have the original, thus the link. I’d done some research on the 2 to decide how it would most likely affect my migraines–weight plus IPD–and decided my best bet was just to stick with what I have.)
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Workout Week 15–Guesting and Testing Times Two

(Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate links included where possible and I deem them relevant. I’ll earn a small commission, as described in my privacy policy from eligible purchases made through these links.)

 

Eeyup, another week of “can’t do much gaming because the nephew’s sleeping in the gaming area.”

But I did manage to test the possibility of streaming from my Oculus Quest to the TV via the phone app and screen mirroring.

(Disclaimer: Videos may not be visible in some territories due to copyright.)

A variety of problems with this method (including the fact that I didn’t realize the “stream to Oculus app” would have a nice big “record” button on the screen until after I’d finished recording–too bad I couldn’t stream to that and Chromecast at the same time for additional recording options) but especially that lag…. Eesh, I think I’ll stick with using the Chromecast for now.

Here’s the previous week’s Chromecast test again for comparison.

Granted, there’s lag here, too… but my untrained eye thinks it’s maybe not as bad? I hear the Chromecast Ultra is supposed to be even less laggy than whatever generation I bought years ago, I just haven’t convinced myself I need to buy it for the purpose.

Perhaps once I’ve gotten my bedroom rearranged to my liking I’ll have enough floor space to play and record in there, then I can test the ability to stream to the website (and use a simple screen capture program instead of a camera for additional recording options). But I’d still use the living room for my console games rather than drag all of the equipment back and forth, which leads me to the next update:

 

I still haven’t done another session of Zombies Run due to my work schedule. More to the point, how late I sleep after getting home as late as I do. I really don’t want to rely on exercise to wake me up so I’m pretty sure I’m going to be moving my morning walks to afternoons.

But I finally decided to start working on the Homefront… only to discover that the first exercise requires a stair stepper/step deck, which I don’t have. Or a sturdy box, which I also don’t have (not that I’d trust with my weight, anyway). The Wii Fit Balance Board would’ve done the trick nicely, but I didn’t feel like rummaging around the house at 1 in the morning, plus I’d prefer to use something I’m just going to keep in my room and not have to transport back and forth based on what workout I need it for. I also would prefer not to buy a step deck when I only expect to use it *checks Homefront workout listings* about a dozen times, so I’m trying (and failing) to find a likely “sturdy box” to serve the dual purpose of a step deck and an actual box I can store things in and shove under my desk when I’m not exercising.

 

Oh, and I also got my Quest connected to the various streaming services I’m enrolled in, so now I can just hop on the exercise bike and watch Netflix or whatever without needing to involve my phone in the process. Granted, I could probably do that anyway if our cable box includes the apps I need (the main one does, but the exercise machines are no longer in that room), but this also gives me somewhat “private” audio.

 

Suggested products in use, Amazon Affiliate links included where possible:

  • GoPro Fusion 360 degree camera
  • Oculus Quest (I have the original, thus the link. I’d done some research on the 2 to decide how it would most likely affect my migraines–weight plus IPD–and decided my best bet was just to stick with what I have.)
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Workout Week 14 and April Monthly Update

(Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate links included where possible and I deem them relevant. I’ll earn a small commission, as described in my privacy policy from eligible purchases made through these links.)

 

So I didn’t do any outdoorsy exercises this week. Or the homefront exercises still.

Monday I spent a good part of the day running errands. Wednesday afternoon I was scheduled for my first Covid vaccine so I had planned to do my Wii Fit monthly fitness test in the morning when I would normally have done my walk, so I could have all afternoon to do whatever post-vaccine recovery ended up being necessary.

“Planned to” being the key phrase, of course. Oh, I got the fitness test in, and an experiment with Beat Saber to boot (two sessions in one week, yay!), just not when it was most convenient for things like rendering and editing.

 

But with that, you have four videos for this update!

 

The fitness test in 360 and split-screen mode, of course….

 

And because I wanted to experiment with my recording options before I actually started using my randomizer (not to mention get in at least one video on the Oculus Quest so I’ve finally got content from each of my currently-available gaming systems), I have an attempt at playing Beat Saber to the tune of Panic! at the Disco’s “High Hopes.”

I’d gone digging through samples of all of the available DLC and, hearing impairment and sensory disorders being what they are, so far this and “Greatest Showman” (same pack) were the only ones I liked enough to listen to for their own sakes, therefore they were the only ones I liked enough to buy for the game. Only time will tell if any new packs show up that I like, but everything else that shows up on my channel will most likely involve the content in the free updates.

Since I’m pretty sure this is not the type of “arm exercise” the Powers That Be had in mind when suggesting how best to recover from injections of any kind, I opted to begin the game straightaway on easy mode.

(Disclaimer: Videos may not be visible in some territories due to copyright.)

Note to self: work on scripting my outro better–and more to the point, adapting as needed–especially since I can’t just attach a pre-recorded one to my Fusion footage and leave it at that. I didn’t realize until after uploading these and editing on YT’s end that my brain’s belated “it was in the script dagnabbit!” reference to experimenting with my recording options (which originally referred to using in-game footage, which I’d discovered was disabled for this game and therefore didn’t need mentioning) put me well past the 20-second limit and therefore the end screen overlays don’t even come close to matching up to what I was saying.

 

And the final monthly update, the photos and screenshots.

The need for consistency being what it is, I have no idea what’s going on with the lighting. And I’ve just bought (but not yet tested) a new mount that will hopefully be harder to accidentally knock askew than the old one… and much easier to reposition if and when I do need to move it for any reason, but it will of course put my phone in a completely different position than it’s been for the last few months.

 

To be honest I don’t see a difference in my appearance. And with the scale showing me a difference of only a couple of pounds, I don’t really expect to see my body changing just yet.

No, the real change I’ve been noticing lately is how my clothes fit. See, I normally wear a 36 waist (American men’s sizes), but lately, both my casual jeans and the firehose cargo pants I wear for work have been starting to feel…. loose. Like they’re starting to slide down my butt a little. The possibility that they’re simply stretching out from use has crossed my mind, so I decided to get another pair of jeans in my current size (but not the cargos, I have a spare set already and those things are expensive!), but also to take a risk on a 35 waist for each of them. (Easier said than done; I’m short so I’ll wear a 28-inch inseam when I can get it, and I’d be better with a 27 or even 26, but I usually wear a 30 due to the virtual nonexistence of anything short enough.)

The brand new 36 in jeans, freshly washed and dried and all the shrinkage that involves, with nothing in my pockets to weigh them down… felt like it was sliding down my butt. The 35 in jeans was snug but wearable. And the 35 in cargo…. I couldn’t even fasten up, bleh.

Oh, well, a little progress is better than none. And the 35 in firehose aren’t as “flexible” a style as the 36’s I’m still stuck wearing (there would be that lack of size choices rearing its head), so there’s a chance that I really have lost a bit of my waistline. Just not enough to regularly wear a smaller size, not yet. Now if only I can notice such a change in my bra….

 

Suggested products in use, Amazon Affiliate links included where possible:

  • GoPro Fusion 360 degree camera
  • Wii Fit U plus Fit Meter
  • Wii Fit U digital version (there are different price points on Amazon but as much as I’d like to support secondary sellers I haven’t decided how I feel about buying a digital copy from them, though there’s always the option of just buying a Nintendo gift card and buying the game straight from the Nintendo shop)
  • Wii Fit Balance Board plus Fit Meter (This is the bundle to get if you go straight for the digital version without owning hardware from the previous incarnations)
  • Fit Meter (green) or Fit Meter (black) (the color is solely a matter of personal preference)
  • Full Wii Fit U bundle (game, balance board, fit meter)
  • Oculus Quest (I have the original, thus the link. Given my tendency towards migraines, I did a little research on the Quest 2 on the grounds that it’s supposed to be lighter than the 1; while it’s obviously always up to the individual to decide what works for them, in the end I decided that it wouldn’t be light enough to matter, plus I figure the difference in how the 2 measures IPD means there’s a good chance it would make things worse.)
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Workout Week 13–My Legs Are Rebelling

(Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate links included where possible and I deem them relevant. I’ll earn a small commission, as described in my privacy policy from eligible purchases made through these links.)

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.

 

Suggested products in use, Amazon Affiliate links included where possible:

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