Physical Fatness: Update 1

As I blogged before I’ve been trying to increase (and track) my daily activity for consistently. I’ve been pretty good about the tracking portion of that, just not the increasing part just yet.

Let’s take a look at October:


I’m definitely doing better so far in November for comparison:


The success I started seeing increasing my steps and activity at the end of October has rolled into November but I still haven’t hit the 10,000 step goal on any days. I just need to keep increasing the length of walks I take with Ghost to get over that hump on a day.

I’ve gotten to almost 2 miles on a walk, and the puppy seems to be able to handle it well enough. I keep having to remember that he had surgery less than a year ago to remove excess cartilage from his elbow. So I can’t push the dog too far, but he seems to enjoy short jogs and longer walks lately so I should get them in before old man winter rolls in for an extended visit.

As far as calorie tracking goes I have a hard time remaining consistent. I dutifully track breakfast, lunch and mid-work snacks but find it hard to get in a rhythm tracking dinner or snack that occur at home. Something about the regimented way I go thought he work day lends itself to building habits. But the moment I cross the front door into my house it all goes out the window for some reason.

I have reduced portion sizes a bit as a result of the tracking I’ve been able to remember to do. Especially limiting the over-eating I was doing at lunch. But I still need to get some traction with dinner and reducing the amount of eating out I’m doing.

Lord only knows what will happen to my self control through Thanksgiving next week. Pray for my belt.

First Impressions: Steam Controller

My long awaited Steam Controller arrived in the mail yesterday and I’ve tried to put it through it’s paces.


I do like that everyone has glommed onto the packaging style that Apple has made so famous. The Steam Controller arrived in a clean looking box, no blister packaging to wrestle with and cut myself on.


I find myself fond of the look of the controller, it’s unique and that helped me to want to try the thing when pre-orders became available. I already have the best possible standard gamepad available for the PC, it’s called the Xbox One controller. If the Steam Controller is going to find a home in my daily routine it’s going to have to do something special.


The back plate pops off in a satisfying way to reveal the battery compartments in each handle. Hey, name brand batteries! Neat. The buttons that are part of the grip are a little too easy to press, and don’t have a very satisfying throw to boot, same goes for the shoulder buttons. The triggers are an interesting take, they have a digital click at the bottom of the relatively short throw that will instantly remind you of the Gamecube controller. And that’s a good thing to me.

As far as the face button and analog stick: they are serviceable. I don’t really have any complaints other that the buttons are in the analog stick position compared to any controller. The focus here is on the big trackpads and not the traditional buttons. As a result the buttons are kind of hard for me to find when I need to hit them and transitioning from the trackpad to the buttons causes me to occasionally hit the wrong button. Maybe that will change with time.


The trackpads are where the rubber hits the road. Do they feel comfortable for shooting? Mousing? Camera control?

The short answer: not really.

I knew that the trackpads would fall short replacing the mouse or an analog stick for shooters or any twitch aiming action. But I expected them to feel better for point-and-click controls. The range of motion and precision of the trackpads just isn’t there. I can’t get the right speed or acceleration on the settings to make the controller feel right to mouse with. There isn’t enough precision, as you move your thumb around slowly the mouse seems to stair step everywhere, clicking from position to position instead of smoothly transitioning.

Moreover the lack of a d-pad becomes apparent when you play a retro style game. I used Downwell as my test game for this. The analog stick isn’t very precise for the platforming in that game and the left trackpad is a poor substitute for a d-pad. So I’m left looking at my Xbox controller longingly thinking about picking up the wireless adapter… a product I did not purchase specifically to force myself to try the Steam Controller and give it a fair shake.

I figured that the type of game this controller best opens access to is a slow mouse based point-and-click type game. I loaded up Broken Age to test out the experience (I’ve been meaning to finish that game out). I could not have been more frustrated, an analog stick would be a better way to interface with that game. Which really defeats the whole purpose of the damned controller!

I’m going to give a turn based strategy game a shot, something like Civilization: Beyond Earth would be a good fit. Maybe that will find a use for the Steam Controller. But that does seem a little frustrating, I have to go looking for a use for this controller? Shouldn’t Valve have set up some games that showcase this thing? It seems a little crazy that consumers, in the form of the Steam community creating profiles for every game out there, have to create the justification for their purchases?

That’s not even including the sheer level of anger I felt attempting to type using the Steam Controller’s on-screen keyboard. I was wracked with physical pain as I tried to slowly pound out a simple sentence to a friend on Steam who saw me playing a bunch of games. I felt like I was rehabbing, I know how to type and I had a keyboard three feet away, why was I forcing myself to slowly click my way through when I could pick up that keyboard and be done in three seconds?

So, I’m not very far into testing the Steam Controller, and I’m going to give it more time, but I’m having a hard time seeing what it’s for. The phrase that keeps leaping to mind while I use this thing is “a solution is search of a problem”. I usually hate that cliché because it seems so dismissive of new ideas, but in this case it feels all too appropriate.

Getting Back on the Band Wagon

I made a solid effort to get back into shape a couple years ago. I made decent progress but stalled out after moving from an apartment complex with a gym on site to where I live now. It doesn’t seem like much but the ten minute drive to the gym really did make it fall out of my daily routine.

I am incredibly lazy.

hat fact is probably the largest part in getting me to my current size (285lbs, I’m only 6’1″ so that’s a BMI of “you might actually be deceased already”). My ideal weight would be somewhere around 220. I’m sure medical science would say 185 is a true ideal weight. But I think I know my own limitations too well.

Speaking of limitations I think reducing my weight by 65 pounds is a big chunk to try and tackle so I’m targeting a smaller goal. Assuming an ideal weigh loss rate of about a pound-and-a-half a week I’ll be looking to take out 25 pounds in 5 months. Mostly by reducing portion size and making sure to move more everyday.

I’d love to increase my activity and say I’m going to start going to the gym every day and eating broccoli and baked chicken breast every meal but I know better. I’m going to start by trying to max out a step counter (more on the technology side below) and eating less. I’ve talked to my workplace about bein able to get a standing desk, but that might not happen.

I’m hoping to be more consistent about blogging about it here to give myself a cadence and chance to reflect, change bad habits and reinforce good ones.

And because I’m a sucker for technology I’ve gotten myself something to help motivate. I had a Fitbit for the longest time, a Fitbit One in particular. I really did like racking up flights of stairs and steps, but I kept losing the darn thing or forgetting to grab it.

So I snagged a Band 2 when pre-orders went live. The watch concept fits into my lifestyle well. I forgot how much I liked wearing a watch, ever since I got my first smartphone I stopped wearing a watch.

WP_20151031_17_51_09_ProBetween tracking sleep, heartrate, elevation changes, steps, UV exposure (important for long Cleveland winters) and many other things that don’t surface much I should get more data than I could possibly want. I can create custom workouts to load onto the band that I’ll run in the morning. I’ll also be tracking my nightly walks with Ghost and any other time I can get out and go for a walk.

BuildAWorkoutI’ll also be using MyFitnessPal for calorie tracking, I think honestly tracking how much I was eating made the biggest impact three years ago when I hit my all time low weight. I wanted to use LoseIt but I don’t have a good app solution on Windows Phone. So until a better option appears I’ll have MyFitnessPal.

I’ll look to update every week or so. Wish me luck.

TRP 10/28/15: World Championship Expectations

A full cast is here to talk Sony Paris Games Week conference and League of Legends world championships. Neil and Kaz talk about the impossible expectation Life is Strange couldn’t hit. Neil waxes poetic about Tales from the Borderlands. Kaz talks up the Jackbox Party Pack 2 and Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. And the group talks early Halo 5: Guardians impressions.

TRP 10/13/15: The Hype Train Arrives

Kaz, Tony and Neil get together to get irrationally pumped for Halo 5 based off of trailers and speculation. They get sidetracked by Halo canon and Star Wars legend (not canon) before talking Undertale, Rock Band 4 and much, much more.

QuickReview: Super Mario Maker

Super Mario Maker is not the perfect make-your-own-game that I wanted it to be. It comes as close an anything that I’ve played, a lot of that is due to the familiarity with the mechanics presented here. You know how Mario games work, it makes creating levels that fit within the pastiche of a Mario game exceedingly easy. The tool set to make that level is incredibly intuitive combining that familiarity with the amazingly simple, yet deep, UI design.


There’s so much to play with that it can be overwhelming to figure out what to base a level on. In fact, my most accomplished levels probably took an hour or more to perfect (and they’re still not completely there…) while also taking an incredible amount of focus. When I finished this level to the right, I was physically exhausted. The focus it takes to keep adding non-repeating elements is surprising, but I find finished levels leave me with such a sense of accomplishment.

The frustrating part of Super Mario Maker is the lack of a friend level hopper. You’re only way to play your friends games will be to trade a level code, which allows you to add them as a followed creator, and then visit each friend’s profile to play their levels and the levels that they have starred. Outside of following creators there’s a 100-Mario Challenge that mixes up random levels that err on the side of frustrating more than creative.


Once people get over making impossibly difficult gimmick levels some really creative uses of Mario mechanics show through. Some people actually make realistic Mario levels. Ones that might have appeared in a Mario game at some point in the past. When I run into those inventive levels the true beauty of Super Mario Maker shines through. And I can’t get enough of that.

I'm thinking about playing it right now, in fact I'm probably playing it as we speak...

TRP 9/30/15: The Taken Time

Neil and Kaz sit down to assess the free-ish games for October and some of their Vita concerns. Afterwards they dig into Neil’s time with Destiny: the Taken King, is the experience worth the year of investment? Then Kaz takes a critical eye to indie darling Undertale and relieves some Lovers in a Dangerous Space Time stress.

QuickReview: Forza Motorsport 6

I eventually came around on Forza Motorsport 5 after it came out. It took a little time for some tracks to release, it took a couple car packs to fill out the roster. But once everything was in order it was a pretty decent racer. Then Forza Horizon 2 came out and I never saw myself going back to 5.


I’m kind of feeling that way with Forza Motorsport 6, kind of. The feel and soundtrack of the Horizon series is hard to replicate in a more serious simulation-type game. But there’s a lot of positives with 6, they start to add up into a really compelling game in a way that I haven’t felt with the mainline Motorsport games since 3. The track list is expansive, the car list is damn-near perfect and the menu and interfaces have been refined significantly.

There’s still stuff to nitpick, though, easily. The finer points of replicating Motorsport is still missing, meaningful pit stops, longer races (would it be that hard to let me select a lap multiplier so every race can be 2-3 times more laps?) fuel management, etc. A full day-night transition would be nice but doesn’t seem to be feasible in the current engine for the game, but it would go a long time to making the endurance races more realistic.


The stuff they did add hits all the right notes. The rain racing isn’t as visually spectacular as compared to the other racers out there (the rain in the 30fps racer Driveclub comes to mind) but in game play it is superb. Modifying your race line  to avoid standing water while navigating traffic is a challenging but rewarding experience. If they made a more compelling single player experience I could see myself playing this game for an entire year easily. The online rivals and league modes will keep me playing but some variety in the single player challenges (something other than podium every race would be nice for goals) would be welcome.

All in all, unless you have Project CARS and a nice wheel and rig setup, there isn’t a better all-purpose simulation racer out there right now.I'm thinking about playing it right now, in fact I'm probably playing it as we speak...

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