Friday, December 16, 2016

Wii Fit U, seven months in

No miraculous amount of weight lost in the last month.  In fact, I plateaued for a lot of it, while still managing to hit my target of losing 10 pounds in a month.  I don't think I'll be able to keep that up any further, though, because of the aforementioned plateauing.  Regardless, here's the graph.

Wii Fit U graph showing another ten pounds lost

More after the break!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Bravely Second: BP Battery

After having fumbled around with some of the BP gain options and not really finding anything, I eventually tried a variant of a setup from Bravely Default, which works quite well.  This setup uses the Red Mage's support ability BP Recovery to give party members 4 BP per turn, by having a Patissier inflict status effects on the party.

This setup can be used to get a 99 victory streak and is great for farming money and getting bestiary completion.  It needs a fair amount of job levelling to put together, and can only be set up once you get to Chapter 5 and do the side quests.  So, here we go!

Here is the setup for the BP Battery.  As you can see, I have it set up on Tiz, but it doesn't matter who you set it up on.



Running through each of the support abilities in use and explaining what they do for us:
  • BP Recovery: The crux of the whole thing.  Don't leave home without it.
  • Waste Not: Even though it never pops up at the bottom of the top screen when using Patissier abilities, it most certainly does apply to the usage of items to fuel those abilities.  Reducing our item usage means we have to spend less money to fuel the build.
  • Items for All: This is necessary to make the Patissier abilities group target, so we can hit our entire party with a status effect.
  • Status Ailment Amp: Without this, the chance that your Patissier will fail to inflict a status effect on at least some part of the party will be much higher.
  • Speed 20% Up: We always want the BP Battery to go before anyone else in the party.
Because this setup depends on BP Recovery, you will want to make sure that everyone has it set in one of their support ability slots.  As far as the rest of their support abilities are concerned, here are some recommendations:
  • Multitask: A chance of extra attacks adds to overall damage.
  • Barrage: Since you'll be attacking a lot in a single turn, this will increase damage output.  Works quite well with Multitask.
  • Pierce Default: Depending on where you are, some enemies will use Default.  Set this support ability so that you can deal normal damage to them.
  • Redoubled Effort: Your attackers will be gaining BP before taking their respective turns, so this will lead to increased damage output.
  • P.Attack 20% Up: More damage output.
  • More Money: 1.5x the usual amount of money from enemies.  Stacks with the victory streak bonus and the Golden Egg accessory.
  • Whisker Sense: An extra 5% chance of gaining 1 BP before battle.
  • Precognition: Prevent enemies from getting first strike and ruining your victory streak.
Equipment and job setup doesn't really matter much on the rest of the party, as long as you have a setup that can reliably kill enemies in one turn.  I recommend using regular attacks, just so you don't have to replenish MP.  I personally use Hawkeyes, performing regular attacks with firearms.  As you might expect, you'll want the highest damage weapons you can get your hands on.  I use the Guncleaver from the shop in Chompshire.

The only other thing worth caring about are your characters' accessories.  There are two worth bringing:
  • Golden Egg: Twice the pg gains, but no XP or JP.  Stacks with the victory streak bonus and the More Money support ability.
  • Venture Badge: An extra 10% chance of gaining 1 BP before battle.  These stack with each other, giving you a very good chance of getting an extra BP.  You get one of these from a chest, the rest you'll have to steal from Imperial Spear Vans in Chapter 5+.
It's important to note that since we're using regular attacks to kill enemies, we'll be using Silencing Soufflés to inflict Silence upon ourselves, which will not hurt our damage output in any way.  If you're using magic instead of regular attacks, you'll want to inflict Blind with the Blinding Biscuit instead.  I'm covering the setup I use, so from here on out I'm only going to mention Silence.

Turn setup:
  • BP Battery:
    • Brave
    • Abilities → Confection → Bon Appétit → Status Afflicting → Silencing Soufflé, target All Allies
    • Abilities → Miscellany → Mimic, press R to do it three times
  • Everyone else:
    • Attack, press R to do it four times
How it works:
  • BP Recovery will give each character it's set on 1 BP every time we inflict Silence on ourselves, even when it's already there.
  • Items for All makes the Silencing Soufflé target the whole party, giving everyone 1 BP per use.
  • Waste Not and Mimic combine to reduce item usage to approximately 12.5% of what it would otherwise be.
Other notes:
  • The reason for all the boosting of our chance to gain BP at the start of battle is simple: even with Status Ailment Amp set on the BP Battery, the chance of inflicting Silence is still not 100%.  Having a decent chance at getting an extra BP will cover for the occasional failure to inflict Silence more often than not having this decent chance.
  • Use this setup with More Money and a Golden Egg to farm pg.  While it can be used to farm XP, it's suboptimal for farming JP since you'll have to rotate who the BP Battery is periodically.
  • This setup also makes grinding Bestiary completion pretty easy.
  • Some areas have enemies with really high P.Def that can bring an early end to your victory streak.  If your only goal is to farm pg or XP, try to choose an area that lacks these enemies.
  • The items we need to fuel our Patissier are very inexpensive and easy to buy 99 of.  Even without More Money or a Golden Egg, this setup will easily pay for itself, and can be used to fund the purchase of a Golden Egg.
I will have a second post coming soon detailing a pretty quick Chapter 5+ JP grinding setup, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Doing My Part

It seems like spam is unavoidable and inescapable on the internet, and those who perpetuate just don't seem to understand that nobody likes them and that they'll die alone.  I've been receiving spam comments on this very blog from some SEO/whatnot company, who has taken the extra step to impersonate Blogger in the process of spamming.  I'm not going to link their shit because they don't deserve the attention, but I did investigate them, whois their domain, and submit an abuse report to their registrar.  I realize it's a total long shot with a minimal chance of success, but hey, I'll take what I can get.

"Why not just report them to Google?"  I've done exactly that.  Unfortunately, the report process for "impersonating a business" actually requires you to be a representative of said business.  I had to report them for some other reason and just mention in the comment box that Blogger itself was being impersonated.  Being that Google is a giant faceless corporation that doesn't pay any attention to anyone if they don't have bags of money to throw around, I don't expect anything to come of it.

The domain registrar, while being the long shot I've already admitted that it is, is still a much more likely avenue of success.  Below is the message I sent them via their abuse report page:
This company is spamming my blog on Google's Blogger service, and likely many other blogs as well.  Thankfully, I have comment moderation enabled and none of their spam comments are actually visible (because I've been manually marking all of them as spam).  They are impersonating Blogger in the process of doing this, and Google gives me no avenue to report them for it.  I realize this is a long shot, but I simply seek to strike back against them in any way I can.

Their profile on Blogger (the link "My Web Page" links to <domain redacted>, I used an internet whois service to find your site): <link redacted>

Even though the comments were never published, I get email notifications of comments on my blog that contain the full text of each comment, and can forward any number of them to you if necessary.  This has been going on since June 2016, basically since they registered their account on Blogger.
We'll see what happens.  If you're actually reading this and want a follow-up, I'll probably just edit this post.  There may not be a follow-up, though, it depends entirely upon the domain registrar's response, if I even get one.

Monday, November 21, 2016

I have Super Mario Maker now

Since this month contained my birthday, it apparently means I get a 30% "Just For You" discount on one of a few select titles on the Wii U/3DS eShop.  It was either going to be New Super Mario Bros U + New Super Luigi U (a two game bundle!), or Super Mario Maker.  As you could infer from the title of this post, I went with Super Mario Maker.  I had about $10 left over from the $50 eShop card I got for Christmas last year, so I only had to part with a little over $30.  I've wanted Super Mario Maker for a long time anyway, whereas I only have a general level of interest in NSMBU/NSLU, so the choice was clear.

I haven't done much in it other than the accelerated method of unlocking the course elements.  What is that, you ask?  Well, I feel like it's already pretty well documented, but since you're here:
  1. Go into the editor, place things.  I hate having "New!" indicators on things, so I placed everything I had available.
  2. Make a large square of blocks, and copy/paste it a bunch.
  3. Eventually the game will tell you that you'll get the next batch of unlocks tomorrow.  That takes too long, so keep pasting things.
  4. The game will give in after a few more pastes and give you the next set of stuff now.
  5. Change level styles and game styles as you unlock them.  Or at least, that's what I did, I dunno how essential it is.  Play around with things while you're there, you might as well.
  6. Repeat until it says you have everything.
  7. If it won't let you paste any more, use the rocket to erase everything and start over.
Also, you may have seen in videos that different people have different cursors for placing stuff in the editor.  The default is the hand with the stylus, but it can be changed.  Nothing ever says how, so you just have to mess around pressing buttons until you figure out that pressing the analog sticks in will cycle through the available cursors (and change whether they're right handed or left handed).

Finding levels to play is the next step.  Fortunately for me, I've watched a bunch of Mario Maker videos, so I know of a bunch of good creators going in.  Unfortunately, Nintendo doesn't make it easy to follow a creator.  You have to get one of their levels, either by entering the course ID on your Wii U, or through the bookmark website, then you can find their profile in-game and follow them.  Nintendo's idea of a search is "enter the 16-character hexadecimal unique identifier for the level that you already know you want to play".  No, sorry, that isn't a search.  Let me type in a creator's name and find them that way.  Let me follow a creator from the bookmark website.  Let me search for a level by name.  Fortunately, the community has stepped up and created makersofmario.com, which makes finding levels a bit easier.

The bookmark website is otherwise really nice.  You can bookmark levels on your computer, and then they show up in your bookmark list in-game.  This makes it a lot easier to use their bookmark system, because entering course IDs on the gamepad touchscreen is far less preferable to being able to use a mouse and keyboard to navigate a website.

Playing levels is only half the game, though.  What about making them?  Well, I do have a few ideas.  I'm not going to say anything about them now, since I haven't really played around with what's available to see how possible everything is.  It won't be worth doing an entire blog post about each level I make, so the way to find my stuff will be to follow me on either Miiverse or Twitter.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Wii Fit U, six months in

Just like last month where I lost 14 pounds, I got the complement of 16 this month in order to get that extra ten pounds.  I'm now 80 pounds down, and have 20 to go until I reach my Scientifically Determined Ideal Weight™, which is of course what I will weigh if I can get my BMI to 22.00.


Anyway, descriptions of things and general complaining and whatnot after the break.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Crossword Puzzle Rant Part 2: Supported With Evidence

So a while ago I had a post that came out of nowhere about crossword puzzles.  I offered plenty of hypothetical examples in that rant to support my arguments, but I didn't offer anything taken from actual crossword puzzles.

Now, because not all crossword puzzles contain every element that I ranted about, some will naturally be missing, but hopefully, you'll see what I mean, perhaps a bit more clearly.  My example crossword is one you can easily locate and work on yourself, since it was a Google Doodle.  Fair warning, if you want to do the crossword and don't want answers given to you, you may wish to do the crossword before continuing to read this post.  Jump break here, just to be nice.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Oh Hi There

So, Twitter's had these things called Twitter Cards for a while now.  You've probably already seen them in action.  When you post a link to a website, there will be a box with information about the link as opposed to just a plain link.  That's the Twitter Card, and it's dead simple to implement.

It's all in your page's <meta /> tags.  I'm not going to go in-depth describing how to do it here, because Twitter's got a whole section of their developer site for that.  There's a bit of finagling to get it working on Blogger since you have to edit your template, and if you want to customize them at all you'll end up having to learn Blogger's template language.  Thankfully, it's XML-based, so it's not completely terrible.

Blogger's template language isn't without its shortcomings, though.  The vast majority of the data you might want to work with is only available to specific page widgets.  For instance, on the Twitter Card for my blog's archive pages (click a year or month header in the archive section to get one such page), I wanted the title to just be my blog title, and the description to say something like "Post archive for $MONTH $YEAR".  While there's a way to get the date of the archive, it's only available within the archive widget itself, and not available to the whole page, even when the page is an archive page.  I had to settle for leaving the archive's date in the title and just putting "Post Archive" in the description.

Also, their template language completely barfs all over the place if you have the nerve to try and prepend a string to a data variable.  Appending works beautifully, but prepending causes the whole thing to fail.

Now, in any other language, I'd just go "oh, well, the page title contains the archive's date, I can just test for page type, and if it's an archive page, use string functions to pull the archive's date out of the title and stick it in the description instead!", but we don't get anything nearly as fancy as that here.  I'm basically stuck with what I've got until their template system gets more powerful.

Theoretically I could submit feedback about this, but the trouble with that is, this is Google we're dealing with.  I'm not going to get a response.  In all reality, I'll be completely ignored.  They're not going to implement some random suggestion that one guy would find useful; they'll only implement what they come up with because then it's "cool".

Anyway, when I link my new posts on Twitter, they'll now have Twitter Cards instead of just being plain links.  This change doesn't seem to apply retroactively, so don't go looking through my old tweets for it.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Wii Fit U, five months in

Still going strong.  I'm down by 64 pounds at this point.  It looks like I'm plateauing, but I'm not really.  I'm having fewer random weight gains, and to go along with it, the weight losses are also getting smaller.  However, I'm still losing about the same amount per month.  So, there's still confidence.  The plateau will come eventually, don't get me wrong, but hopefully not for another month or two.

My pre-MAGFest goal is 80 pounds down, which is more than achievable at my current rate of weight loss.  Honestly, I might be able to get closer to 90 if things work out right, which would be amazing since the magical 22 BMI that Wii Fit U says is ideal is pretty much exactly 100 pounds down for me.  Let's do things differently and stick the picture of my last month's graph up here instead of down at the bottom!

Graph showing weight fluctuations for the last month

And now, how about a jump break!  Look at me!  It's almost like I'm a real blogger!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Radio Around Here Sucks

I've mentioned it in the past, and more recently begun dodging around it somewhat, but it's already out there: I live in Charlottesville, VA.  It's kind of a dump to be honest, the only real attractions are the historical landmarks.  Driving around here, it's inevitable that you're going to be listening to the radio.  Honestly, it's usually fine, but occasionally there's just the perfect storm of shit that absolutely ruins your drive.  I'm here to break down the experience I had today going out and filling up my gas tank.

97.5 3WV (WWWV)

This is what the radio's usually tuned to, because most of my driving is at night and they play long sets of classic rock at that point.  I get in the car and turn it on, and hear some classic rock.  Okay, I turn it up and get going.  A few minutes later the song ends and I'm thinking "okay, this is just gonna be commercials or something and then another song", but no.  3WV, despite having the tagline "Everything that rocks", is talking about something relating to Coldplay.  Except they can't just say "hey, there's this Coldplay thing that's happening, now back to music that's infinitely better than Coldplay!", no, they have to make jokes and talk about Gwyneth Paltrow and then play some interview with Gwyneth Paltrow.  So, whatever, I switch stations.

106.1 The Corner (WCNR)

True to their tagline, "Different is good", I'm now listening to something I've never heard before.  Whatever, it's got a good sound, so I go with it.  It's around this point that I get to the gas station, so off goes the car (and thus the radio).  After filling up and bitching about how the Kangaroo station never puts receipt tape in their pumps, I'm back on the road to come home.  Now it's some hipster bullshit with autotune and synth instruments.  I listen to it for a while, I honestly don't know why.  I later switch stations.

92.3 Rock Hits (WXRK)

...or so I thought.  A station that's normally a good bet also happens to be playing hipster bullshit.  Let's see if 3WV has finished talking about Gwyneth Paltrow yet...

97.5 3WV (WWWV)

...and now they're talking about Ronald McDonald.  YOUR STATION'S TAGLINE IS "EVERYTHING THAT ROCKS".  YOUR DJ TALKING ABOUT RANDOM SHIT DOESN'T ROCK.  PLAY SOME GODDAMN MUSIC BITCH.  MUSIC IS WHAT ROCKS.  YOUR DJ IS A SACK OF SHIT AND I DON'T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT HIS OPINIONS.

End

Luckily, that happened just as I pulled up to the house, so I just turned off the car and went inside.

Charlottesville, you disappoint me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Exercising During A Hurricane

Hurricane Matthew humped the East Coast for a while and dumped a bunch of rain on us.  Including at 2 AM when I'm normally out on my walk-that's-slowly-becoming-a-run.

A fun thing about the Fit Meter is that it calculates your relative altitude changes based on air pressure, which varies by altitude.  The lower the air pressure, the higher the altitude, essentially.  However, this is only good for relative measure since air pressure is completely weather-dependent.  High pressure generally means nicer weather while low pressure generally means a storm's a-brewin'.  Hurricanes are, of course, massive low pressure systems.

So, a couple nights ago, while Hurricane Matthew was busy humping the East Coast, I was out and about being awkward carrying an umbrella while doing my thing, and my Fit Meter was gathering air pressure data and trying to convert that into relative altitude.  Here's the result:

Fit Meter data showing really high altitude due to really low air pressure due to Hurricane Matthew

Yeah.  Normally it hovers around the zero line, as could be expected.  Fun times.  Also, obligatory song link.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Wii Fit U, four months in

Milestones!

image showing the time when I was a fat motherfucker
...okay, I'm still a fat motherfucker.

Yeah, that's right.  I'm no longer a part of America's obesity problem.  You know, according to BMI.  They had to draw a line in the sand somewhere.  I'm still overweight and have a lot of work ahead of me, but it's an important milestone nonetheless.  I planned on posting these pictures on twitter, but procrastinated the image editing and then things happened.

I tried jogging, but I did it wrong at first.  I tried jogging the first portion of each lap and walking the rest, which resulted in my legs going NOPE by the end of the third lap.  My new solution that's working so far is to just jog the first portion of the first lap, and simply gradually increase the distance I jog as I feel able to do more.

Also, on September 1st, Wii Fit U changed all its graphics to the fall variants.  Island Cycling now has pretty fall colors on the trees, and for some reason, two desolate shades of yellow for most of the grass.  Someone get Nintendo on the line and tell them that grass stays green year-round...

Anyway, standard graph of the last month or so.  Notice how annoying Wii Fit U is getting with the "EXPLAIN YOURSELF" after trivial weight gains that disappear the next day.  Also, towards the end there's a rise in calories burned, I kinda went into crunch time to make sure I'd be 50 pounds down and continue the trend I've been setting thus far.  An extra walk per day is what that amounted to, which is totally within my realm of capability.

Graph for the last month

I have three milestones that all occur together: leaving the Obese BMI range, reaching 50 pounds down, and getting under 200 pounds.  I've already reached two of the three, and I'll be able to easily reach the third within the next week or so.  Things are looking pretty good overall.

Monday, September 5, 2016

RIP My Computer 2004-2016

So my old dinosaur of a computer started randomly rebooting a few days ago.  At first I thought it was something software-related, because it took 15 minutes or so to happen.  But then it started happening even from the BIOS setup menu, and now if I turn it on it just reboots continuously.  This means there's something fucked up in the hardware and there ain't shit I can do about it.

I guess solving my unemployment issue just got a bit more important.  Luckily, I won't actually lose any data since the hard drives are totally fine.  I just need to pull them out, put them in my 3.5" drive enclosure, and pull whatever I need off of them.

I'm posting from a laptop we acquired from my granddad a while back when getting old finally got severe enough that he couldn't really use a computer anymore.  I don't remember if I've mentioned this laptop on this blog before, but the sad thing is that it's better than my old desktop.  I mean, it still has the vast majority of the HP crapware on it, but I cleaned up the most severe offenders that were bogging the thing down and the only bits that remain are just installed programs that never get run.  I'm about this close to reformatting it and putting Ubuntu on it, to be honest.

So, why does Blogger in Chrome do double spaces as <space><non-breaking space>?  In Firefox it does <non-breaking space><space>, which is the correct way to do it so that blog posts won't end up with weird word wrapping issues.  I have to copy and paste every post I write into Notepad++ and do a find/replace to swap them, and it's super annoying.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Oops.

So, Friday evening I went for my walk like usual.  However, partway through the walk I completely lost track of what lap I was on.  Naturally, being aware of when I left and the pace I usually walk at, I looked at my watch to figure it out.  Given the time, I determined I must be on the second lap, so I did another lap after that one and went back inside.

When I fired up Wii Fit U and transferred the Fit Meter data, I saw this:

Wii Fit U graph depicting accidental extra lap

Each lap of my walk has a very distinctive set of spikes and dips in altitude, given that my neighborhood is hilly as fuck.  It's very easy for me to tell where I was in the neighborhood at any point on the graph just by looking at the altitude and taking it into context.  But the pattern is repeated four times, not three.

I accidentally an extra lap.

So Saturday evening I did four laps again, purposefully this time.

I guess I'm doing four laps now.

Go me?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Wii Fit U, three months in

Things are still going pretty smoothly.  Really smoothly in fact.  Buttery smooth.  Like a hot knife through a baby's bu- well, you get the idea.

Before I go any further, though, I want to preface this with a note.  Fortunately, I don't have to type it, because I already did.  I dumped this spaghetti already on /r/mindcrack, where I've been doing short monthly posts about this whole thing in the Free Talk Friday threads.

I changed absolutely nothing, and my body seems to have kicked it into overdrive.  Last month I was 233, right?  Well, guess what.  I'm 213 now.  20 pounds in a month is fucking insane.  I don't really want to keep that pace going, but again I'll stress that I did nothing differently.  Well, maybe that's a lie.  I'm eating a serving of Lay's potato chips every day now.  But that's a relatively recent thing, the massive losses that started this thing happened well before that, and I've continued losing weight despite the potato chips.

What massive losses were they?  The first one was five pounds in two days.  The second one, a few days later, was another five pounds or so across three days.

With all this weight lost, it's only natural to start noticing things, right?  Well, there's the obvious thing that it's way easier for me to get in and out of a car now.  I can also bend over and tie my shoes without running out of breath.  On the negative side, I seem to have lost enough fat from my ass that it now actually kinda hurts to sit on a wooden chair.

This next MAGFest is gonna be awesome being this much lighter.  I wonder if the foot pain issues I've had in the past few MAGFests are still going to be a problem.  They persisted even with supportive footwear and switching my staff shifts from floor staff to desk staff so I could sit down and take some weight off my feet.  Also, if it's any indication of awesomeness, when MAGFest opened preregistrations and hotel reservations, the hotel sold out within 24 hours, and the pre-reg server promptly shat itself from the traffic.  I was there with my email with the link to confirm my staff badge going "damn, this thing just isn't loading".  It took them several days of maintenance to get it back up, this time much more able to handle the volume of traffic.  I claimed my badge, which meant...  it was time.

"Time for what?", you ask?  Well.  Last year I had to get a 2XL shirt, because I couldn't fit into an XL shirt anymore.  Having to move up to 2XL shirts was one of my motivators for losing some weight.  So, it was time to try on one of my many XL shirts and see what size I should request.

Guess what?

I can wear my XL shirts again.

That's awesome.

If you've met me in real life since the latter portion of last year, you may have noticed that I've been wearing these featureless shirts in various colors (white, black, grey) that I got for cheap at K-Mart.  Those were 2XLs.  All my shirts with the various funny or geeky things on them are all XL shirts (for the most part, a couple are actually 2XLs like the "Make 7/Up Yours" shirt).  I went from having eight shirts available to wear, to an entire closet full of shirts to choose from once again.

I wonder if my polo shirts and khakis fit once again.  If so, that's gonna make trying to get a job a bit easier.  If I can get anybody to hire me.  "Overqualified" is the biggest load of bullshit that anyone's ever made up, except maybe for the anti-vax "argument", or the 2016 election where we get to choose between a bigot and a criminal.  I don't care what my qualifications are, I want a job in receiving somewhere so I can be active all day.

Anyway, the graph.  Standard complaint about Wii Fit U not letting me use Miiverse to screenshot it goes here.  Also, I finally got the balance test to be happy, so there's a Miiverse screenshot of that as well.


Let's hope the future is as bright as the present, shall we?

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Lay's Passport To Flavor

So, the new Lay's flavor promo is out, and learning from last time, I pounced and grabbed bags of all four flavors.  The deal this time around is that you can enter a code found inside each bag to earn "miles" and use those "miles" to select prizes.  Given the nature of these sorts of things, I'm sure it requires far more "miles" than any one person will ever get for anything that's actually desirable, but that's not what we're here for anyway.

Nah, screw that, all we want to know is, "What are the flavors, and how are they?".  Also, my palate cleanser would have been a 20 oz. Mountain Dew had I had the forethought to not drink the entire thing on the way back from the store.  So instead, it's a 12 oz. can of Coke Zero, in full "Trying Not To Get Zika At The Rio 2016 Olympic Games" livery.

Just to make it abundantly clear: I bought the chips myself, Lay's doesn't even know I exist.  Even if they did decide to send me stuff, I'd only accept it with the stipulation that my opinion is my own, and there'd be full disclosure anyway because not doing so is unethical and actually illegal.

Indian Tikka Masala (Kettle Cooked)

A flavor very similar to that of tandoori seasoning hits you right away.  There is a hint of a kick in there, but it's very subdued, making these chips flavorful and accessible.

Brazilian Picanha (Regular)

According to Google, Picanha is a cut of beef that's popular in Brazil.  Fittingly, the flavor description on the front of the bag mentions steak, and you can smell a faint beef aroma if you really pay attention.

Digging in, we find a distinct meat flavor, the taste of which reminds me of a steak cooked medium rare, accompanied by several herbs and spices to round it out.  It's a very nice combination of flavors, without anything overbearing.

Chinese Szechuan Chicken (Regular)

No discernable smell upon opening the bag.  Quite flavorful, though.  Further proof that the link between smell and taste is not as set in stone as people would have you believe.  Anyway, there is a larger kick to it than the Tikka Masala chips, enough of a kick to overwhelm the rest of the flavors after the first chip.

Greek Tzatziki (Wavy)

My instinct going in is that this is a spiritual successor to the underdog flavor from a couple years ago, Greektown Gyro.  My verdict was swapped from everyone else's on that, they all picked New York Reuben over it.

Anyway, the Tzatziki flavor is strong, and there's various complimentary flavors of herbs and spices that are also quite noticeable, but well balanced.  There's nothing objectionable whatsoever.

Overall

While I do like spicy things, I also like being able to eat a fair amount without zorching myself.  I ate a quarter serving of all four chips, and ate the Szechuan Chicken chips last since I expected them to be spicy, which takes a bit to go away and I can't be trying other flavors in the meantime.

While the Szechuan Chicken chips are good, I'd probably go for the Tikka Masala chips for best all around flavor.  Second best would be the Tzatziki chips, which has a nice flavor that would go well with a sandwich containing a few slices of meat.  Third would be the Picanha chips, and in a close fourth due to more emphasis on spice than flavor, Szechuan Chicken.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

There is no justice in the world.

I just took a shower.  Then, when I got out, I noticed some things in my bathroom needed cleaning, so I cleaned them.  Now, I'm sweaty and need another shower.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Weight Experimentation

So, as a natural part of having arrived at an amount of physical activity that burns a good portion of calories and a simple accompanying diet that helps me lose weight, it's rather interesting that I've now discovered the room to experiment with what I eat.

My goal with weight loss is really only that, weight loss; but by extension, a healthier lifestyle is necessary.  However, now that I know I can lose weight, my analytical mind wants to observe the effects of various foods on my weight, all other things being mostly equal.  Since, after all, ending up on some sort of asinine restrictive diet such as vegetarianism or veganism is not part of my plan.  It's everyone's goal to be able to lose weight and still be able to eat the things they enjoy, after all.

Moderation seems to be the key here.  I've noticed that a single spike in my weight from eating either more than usual, or something a bit less good for me than usual, comes off pretty quickly if I just stick to my routine.  Knowing that, it means I can treat myself to things that are absolutely terrible for me periodically, and still be perfectly fine in the long term.  However, all the weight I've lost is both motivation to continue the process, and room to experiment with what exactly I can eat.

To get to the point, suck it, vegetarians and vegans.  Meat is still a part of a healthy diet.  I'm completely happy to say I still consume it with every lunch and dinner, which was the norm for me before I started this weight loss journey.  Also, I feel like it's important to start this experimentation now and continue it throughout my journey, so I can see if anything changes.  I'm not expecting anything to change, but who knows, this is new territory for me.

Part of this experimentation will necessarily include getting fast food.  Personally, I'm expecting even the smallest fast food meal option to provide a significant weight spike, judging from the physique of the people you see eating at those places regularly.  There's a reason that the MAN THE HARPOONS meme existed back in the day, even if it's fallen out of use.  People who have absolutely no regard for their own well-being and just eat fast food all the time end up looking like whales.

The image I see every day, living at the north end of the American south, is what I thought of when I heard the word "obese", and "morbidly obese" was another step above that that I hadn't even thought I'd seen.  I really just considered myself to be overweight, because I looked nothing like these... to put it nicely... blobs.  That's why it was a surprise to me when Wii Fit U showed me that my BMI was at the top end of the "obese" range.  I just have a large gut, no rolls, no folds, and I don't buckle my abdomen into my pants.

I knew that America, primarily the American south, had a serious weight problem, but... really?  Wow.  Europeans like to be smug with their generalizations and stereotypes, saying "Americans r fatasses" and whatnot, which isn't really 100% true even on the worst day, but... damn.  It's close to accurate.  However, is the contrast really that severe?  Are there not overweight people in Europe and the rest of the world as well?  It's not just the US, it's just that we've got a really big problem with it.

I kinda drifted off-topic there, but whatever, I'm leaving it in.  My point is, my mental image of "obese" was wrong by about a degree of magnitude.  Everyone I'd been associating the "obese" label with is probably actually "morbidly obese" and really needs to lay off the donuts.  Heck, since I started this journey, I've had precisely one donut, and I gained a pound that day.  Nothing that can't be worked off, but it's an indication that people who can just sit there and inhale a dozen donuts are doing it wrong.

So, what have I tried?  Well, across the board, I've been following the "serving size" recommendations on most things, except when they're silly or ridiculous, such as a serving of Campbell's Chunky Soup being half the non-resealable can.  I've vetted a serving at a time of Totino's Bold (haven't tried the regular pizza rolls yet), a serving of El Monterey Southwest Chicken Taquitos, and I'm currently on one of my favorites, Giant Brand Spicy Chicken Strips.

I haven't yet ventured back to fast food, but the local gem of a restaurant that I eat at every week, Bodo's, is fine.  I was having zero problems with my usual sandwich, which incorporates the rather fatty pastrami and a slice of provolone cheese, but I'm experimenting with other sandwiches there as well, so I can change things up every now and then.  Up until last Tuesday, I'd been getting the same sandwich there for probably two or three years in a row at the very least, so it's kind of time for a change anyway.  I don't really consider Bodo's to be fast food, even though you order over a counter and get your food pretty quickly, because "fast food" carries a connotation of "not nutritious", and Bodo's actually serves healthy food.

I suppose first up will be Cook Out.  At several points in the past I'd been going there regularly enough that the staff started recognizing me, and noticed a rather bloated feeling when I was done with my meal.  It'll be interesting to try it sometime and see what happens, both feeling-wise and weight-wise.  I'm definitely expecting a weight gain, so the real variable will be how much weight I gain.

A restaurant I forget about way too much because we only have one of it is Arby's.  They're definitely on the healthier side of fast food, but still most likely considered "fast food" given my criteria listed above.  I never really went there regularly, but I'll give it a shot eventually and see how it goes.

Five Guys is one I'll want to try.  I may end up going to the single bacon cheeseburger from the double, that seems reasonable.  My toppings as always are lettuce, tomato, and jalapeños.  I've always advocated getting the small fries there, simply because they give you so many fries it's ridiculous even when ordering the small size.  I never really went to Five Guys with any sort of regularity, it was always a midday spur of the moment thing.

Taco Bell will be another variable entirely, that I may or may not decide to subject myself to.  The last few times I went to Taco Bell, I was on the toilet within an hour.  I don't know precisely why that is, other than that my body is clearly reacting to something in the food and saying "ain't nobody got time for that, get that shit out of here".  In my case, the latter half of that statement is literal.  People like to stereotype Taco Bell as causing this sort of thing, or act like everyone who says this sort of thing is making it up, so I'm sure my problem and the associated complaints are simply just lost in the noise, but it really does affect me.  What I do tentatively want to see is what exactly causes it, which will probably either necessitate ordering multiple menu items over the course of a few weeks, or one very well-set-up combo.  I'm thinking that three taco combo, with one of each taco option (beef, steak, and chicken, if memory serves) might be an efficient way to test it.  Also, it'll give me a chance to get some Baja Blast, since they only ever toy with us by putting it in stores on a limited run periodically instead of making it the permanent fixture it ought to be.

Other than those, I'll probably swing by a McDonald's and get a McGangbang, maybe try Hardee's, Wendy's, etc.  There's a lot of fast food options out there, and I think I'll be able to get a good enough picture of how they affect my weight without having to exhaust every single option.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Wii Fit U, two months in

Well, everything's going quite well so far.  I'm continuing my trend of losing about 10 pounds a month, which averages out to less than a pound a day.  The actual graph obviously looks nothing like that, but it's the trend you have to pay attention to, not the individual spikes and dips.

Funny I should mention that, because Wii Fit U gets way too caught up in the spikes and dips.  On top of that, it's inconsistent.  It's made me explain a 1.1 pound gain before, but I've had a couple 3 and 4 pound gains that it was apparently fine with.  It sees that I'm burning enough calories to meet and exceed my daily calorie goal, notices that my weight is up, and goes "EXPLAIN YOURSELF".  You get a choice between eight reasons why you gained weight, most of which are either judgmental or imply that you're not really fully in it to win it, as they say.  The only choice I've ever chosen is "I don't know", and sometimes, it's not even satisfied with that.  It'll go "Do you really not know?".

It thinks you're constantly trying to cheat the system.  It thinks you're trying to avoid exercise and that you're not eating correctly.

On top of that, a lot of the exercises get too caught up in being "games", to the point that the game they're trying to be gets in the way of the exercise itself.  In a lot of cases, things have countdown timers where I feel as though they should have countup timers.  Sometimes input recognition is an issue, like with the rowing exercise and Puzzle Squash.

In the rowing exercise, you have to row at the right time in order to go faster, but sometimes it feels like the game just wants to take a shit on you.  Lately I've been getting completely random, unexplainable "nope, you didn't do something right" failure noises, and with them, much slower times than I'm used to.  The game offers zero feedback as to what it thinks I'm doing wrong.  In Puzzle Squash, it just decides whether you're going to do forehand or backhand, even when what it's decided on is less intuitive than what you really want to do.  That, and it limits you to three balls.  If you let those three go past you, it ends the exercise early.  Also, sometimes it recognizes my movement of the wiimote to get ready to hit the ball as a swing, and then it goes into a forced cooldown between swings and I can't actually swing to hit the ball, causing a miss.  Get that crap out of here, give me unlimited balls.

Input recognition was such an issue with the Luge exercise that I removed it from my routine entirely.  It's so prohibitively difficult to get off the damn banking that it gets in the way of the exercise.  You have to basically roll all the way onto your side to steer far enough, and even then the game doesn't really want to let you off the banking.

Also, there's things the game just flat-out doesn't tell you about some exercises.  I'm thinking mainly Island Cycling here.  While you're riding around collecting the checkpoints, you'll find a dog, which is cute, and follows you around.  For the longest time I thought it was just decorative.  Then at some point, I discovered that the A button rings a bell, so naturally I started tapping out various songs and whatnot.  I soon noticed that the dog reacts to the bell, and that you can use the dog to get checkpoints.  Since the goal is to have the shortest distance you possibly can, using the dog to optimize your route is crucial to success.  In fact, on Beginner I was able to get Shortcut Champion without dog optimizations, simply because I didn't know you could use the dog at all, and I found a route through the checkpoints that got me Shortcut Champion every time.  On Advanced, however, dog optimizations seem to be required if you want to get Shortcut Champion, and if you don't use them, you get Shortcut Pro instead.  There's one required dead end on the route no matter how you string the checkpoints together, and my best route so far inserts another dead end close to the beginning.  Using the dog to collect the checkpoints at these dead ends means you can turn around sooner, meaning you don't have to cover as much distance.  The cutoff distance for Shortcut Champion on Advanced seems to be 2.47 miles, and with my route and dog optimizations, I've gotten it down to 2.41 miles.

I could go on listing additional gripes.  Wii Fit U is my most-played game on the Wii U, which is fitting since I bought the console specifically for it.  I play the game for an hour every day, and do the same routine every day.  Thus, I experience the things that cause my gripes every day.  Even then, my gripes are far outweighed by the fact that I'm losing weight.  It's still been a really good purchase for me, even if all the required materials did end up costing around $400.  I plan to continue, mainly because I want to lose all this weight.

I see no reason to keep the details hidden, either.  Since I acknowledged that I was overweight and became determined to do something about it, part of that is accepting that I'm not currently in a perfect state.  So.  I started out at 253 pounds.  Before the added activity began to kick in, I actually gained weight for the first week.  Since then, though, it's been a downward trend, leading up to the end of the second month where I was 233 pounds.  My mom always said that once you get started, your body will tell you what to do next, and that sounded kind of weird, but it's totally right.  One day you'll go "you know what, I wanna do this" or "you know what, this one thing I'm eating I could probably be better off without".  With the Fit Meter, Wii Fit U encourages you to have activity outside of playing the game, which I've implemented so far as a nightly walk around the neighborhood.  My neighborhood is fairly hilly, with a really big hill that I incorporated into the walk.  I started out at just one lap, but I've worked my way up to doing three laps.  I soak a shirt in sweat in the meantime, and I take a bottle of water with me to consume as I walk.  But you know what?  It's working.

Just like before, here's a graph.  Since the game won't let me use Miiverse to screenshot it, I had to use my phone.  The red dots are where the game made me explain weight gains.  However, there's that nice 4 pound spike in there that it was apparently fine with.  That was July 4th, go figure.  More important than the spike itself is the fact that two days later the extra weight was gone.


So, to summarize my point about spikes, dips, and trends: If your diet/exercise combination is working for you, a spike is nothing to be worried about, because you'll work it off, guaranteed.  This means that even while losing weight, you can afford to have a treat every now and again.  Don't do it all the time, of course, but... reward yourself every now and then.

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Good Snack

On my weight loss journey, I've come across a pretty tasty snack with room for customization, so of course I'm here to share.

Get yourself some Triscuits.  My only gripe with Triscuits is that they have both Reduced Fat and Low Sodium varieties, but not a Reduced Fat, Low Sodium variety.  Anyway.  I use the Reduced Fat ones, but they've got a lot of varieties to choose from.  Whichever ones you end up with, get out six of 'em (which the package lists as a serving) and stick them on a plate.

Next you'll need some hummus.  Storebought hummus is hit or miss, a lot of companies put stupid shit like sugar, salt, and oils in it.  If you find a good one, more power to you, but it's also easy to make yourself.  The base is chick peas (aka garbanzo beans) and tahini (ground sesame seeds), and maybe a small amount of lemon juice if you lean that way.  You can have that as-is, or add stuff to it.  My recommendations there are roasted garlic and roasted red pepper.  Whatever you end up with, get a knife and spread a small amount on each Triscuit.

Finally, you'll need some vegetables.  Carrots and celery work well, and radishes function as a much more flavorful and less heartburn-inducing alternative to onions.  Explore the produce section at your store and grab a few things.  Whatever you end up with, you'll want to slice it just small enough that you can fit two or three pieces of whatever vegetables you've chosen onto the Triscuit.  The hummus will hold it in place for easy eating.

...aaaaaand that's it.

Pretty simple to make, only contains things that are good for you, pretty damn tasty, and fully customizable.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Wii Fit U Part 2 - My Personal Experiences

So, I bought a Wii U for the express purpose of playing Wii Fit U.  I was determined from the beginning to give it a shot, after all, what do I have to lose?  Only unwanted weight.

After doing all the initial setup stuff, it was time for my first Body Test, to see where I stood weight-wise.  I had a general ballpark that I was expecting my weight to be in, which was in the 270-280 range.  This cued my first bit of happiness, in that I was only 253 pounds.  Still, though, for my height (5'10"), this is enough to have a BMI in the mid-30s, placing me off the top of the game's BMI range labelled "Obese".  It became clear that I had a lot of work ahead of me.

I've heard from various sources that BMI can be flawed in some situations, but I'm not sure if that applies to me.  The game claims my ideal weight is around 150 pounds.  I've always thought it would be nice to be around 180 pounds, personally.

The other metric the game uses is calories.  It helpfully informs you of how it calculates calories burned based on the intensity of the exercise, measured in METs, and some other factors.  I can't really vouch for how accurate it is, because I don't know enough about these sorts of calculations myself.

I initially started out doing 30 minute workouts, but quickly jumped up to an hour because I noticed I was just getting going at the end of the 30 minutes.  An hour had me feeling pretty worn out, so I feel like that's right for me.

I went into this with an experimentative mindset.  I wasn't very active to begin with, so my first question was "how much can I get out of just increasing my level of activity by itself?".  After all, I'd had a prior experience while living in the apartment and doing contract work for Silverchair.  I basically ate whatever I wanted, parked somewhat far from Silverchair where I could park for free, and walked in from and back out to my car every day.  While still continuing to eat whatever I wanted, I noticed after a while that I wasn't completely exhausted when I got into the building, so I started taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

I will note that I didn't make stupid dietary decisions while eating "whatever I wanted".  I had a fairly regimented meal setup: breakfast was a bowl of Quaker Apples and Cinnamon oatmeal, supplemented with some coffee once I got into the office.  Lunch was a stir fry concoction of vegetables, buckwheat noodles, beef, and some sort of garlic+ginger sauce, all put on a 6" hoagie roll; supplemented with a Chocolate and Peanut Crunch Clif Bar and a can of Sprite Zero.  Dinner was one of three things: a Bird's Eye skillet meal, pre-made pasta (either ravioli or tortellini) with one or another Classico pasta sauce, or my usual at Bodo's, which is a whole wheat bagel with pastrami, provolone, mustard, and pepper spread.  I ended up in the habit of walking to a nearby convenience store around 2 or 3 in the afternoon to grab a snack, usually this was a bag of chips or pretzels and a 20 oz. drink.

Every now and then I'd go to Cook-Out or Sticks or something just to change things up, but my point is already clear: by simply increasing my activity level to above zero, I was beginning to feel better.

Well, the first week of Wii Fit U was a bit rocky.  I gained weight overall, and it spiked up and then back down twice.  But then, after the second spike, it kept going down.  Not as fast, but it kept going down.  It's had a couple of spikes since then, but I've already noticed that I can easily deal with the spikes by just sticking to my routine.

My diet was already quite good.  It's been low on fats and oils for a while now, and relatively high in fiber thanks to whole grain everything ever.  I did, however, make a minor and very easy change to my diet.  I have a hankerin' for some frozen snacks, and most if not all of these sorts of things are incredibly bad for you, or at least they are in the quantities that I was consuming.  I didn't get rid of the frozen snacks, but I did replace them with much more healthy things.  I've got a cache of lightly sauced frozen vegetable mixes and Campbell's Chunky Soup.  I typically eat the vegetable mixes along with a couple White Castle Jalapeño Cheeseburgers, just to get some meat in there.  Even before I settled on this, I was enjoying Totino's pizza rolls in smaller quantities, basically just heating up one serving at a time instead of half the bag at a time, without it really affecting my weight loss.

Other than playing Wii Fit U and making that minor diet change, I've started taking walks around the neighborhood.  One of the only good things about Central Virginia is that it's very hilly terrain, which is great for burning some calories.  A lap around my neighborhood is about a mile and takes about 15-20 minutes depending on how fast I walk, which is pretty fast to begin with.  Recently I started being less winded after one lap, so I bumped it up to two laps.  If I start getting less winded after that, I'll bump it up to three.  I probably won't go any further than that, though, because I'll be pushing an hour at that point.  If I take the Fit Meter with me, I can keep track of all of that and get credit for it in-game, which contributes a lot towards me meeting my calorie goal.

Speaking of the calorie goal, I've already noticed that it's not everything in the equation.  For the most part I've actually been falling short on my calorie goal and still losing weight.  So, just keep that in mind.

Also, with regards to weight loss, there are no "quick and easy" answers.  Anyone else who tells you otherwise is lying and probably trying to sell you something.  Healthy weight loss takes time and perseverance.  Once you begin tracking your values and working to lower them, you may not see a benefit immediately.  Recall that I actually gained weight in my first week of being more active.  All you need to do is find something that works for you and keep at it.  Whether that something is Wii Fit U, or a gym membership, or buying some weights and running shoes and whatnot, it's most important that it's something you feel that you can do.

I like Wii Fit U because it makes a game out if weight loss.  It harnesses the gamer's natural drive to want to do better at the game and get better scores, and it turns those better scores into weight loss.  I can lose weight while doing something I enjoy, which I'm quite pleased with.  I personally feel like the ability to get fit in a way that works for me was worth the $400 price tag for a Wii U, the Wii Fit U + Balance Board + Fit Meter bundle, and two Wiimotes.

Now, because the game supports taking screenshots via Miiverse, here's some images.  I've noticed that it's incredibly picky about your center of balance, wanting you to have exactly 50/50 balance.  While good balance is important, I feel like it's not as important to have it be perfectly in the center as the game makes it out to be.  It actually complains that your balance isn't perfect when it's 50.1%/49.9%...

Image showing my balance being 50.1% on the left leg and 49.9% on the right, which apparently isn't good enough.

Also, my workout is split up into all three of the routines you get under My Routine.  The first one is my warmup, then there's the actual workout itself, then finally the cooldown.  At the end of each, it updates you on a few things like how long you've been working out for, calories burned, and how many calories you've got left for your daily goal.  Well, I suppose it was inevitable, but this happened one time at the end of my warmup...

666 calories left for today's goal!

I will leave you with one more picture, which is an indicator of my progress so far in the one month I've been playing Wii Fit U.  The four red dots are when the game decided to ask me to explain why I'd gained the weight I'd just gained.  It offers you eight cookie-cutter reasons to pick from, none of which truly explained each gain, and all of which seem incredibly judgmental, so I just selected "I don't know" for all of them.  The bigger picture is that in the month that's gone by since I started playing Wii Fit U, I've lost ten pounds.  Miiverse refused to screenshot this for some reason, so I had to take a picture of this screen with my phone.

10 pounds of weight loss over the course of a month.

I'll probably do Wii Fit U check-in posts periodically, as I hit milestones and whatnot.  This is something that's very important to me, so it's gonna get done, dammit.

Wii Fit U Part 1 - The Game Itself

Wii Fit U does a lot of things right.  After each workout, it gives you a score based on how well you did during the workout.  Any gamer who sees a score is naturally going to want to make that score higher.  Video game numbers are better when they're bigger, after all.  This basically tricks the player into getting fit as they try to beat their high scores.

At its core, Wii Fit U is a set of exercises, categorized into Yoga, Strength Training, Aerobics, Dance, and Balance Games.  It gives you a variety of ways to meander about its set of exercises.  The simplest one simply just has you select an exercise, and then when you're done, it suggests two more and you pick one.  This is probably the easiest way to get acquainted with the exercises themselves, as you always have the option to go back out to the menu and manually choose another exercise even if it isn't one of the ones being suggested.  It's also the way to unlock longer, more challenging versions of the exercises.

If you'd rather have the game decide for you, there are two options.  One of them categorizes the exercises into various aspects of your life or physical wellness you might want to improve.  I honestly haven't tried this option.  The next is the Personal Trainer.  Here, you select either the amount of calories you want to burn, or an amount of time you want to work out for, and it picks the exercises to fit the goal you set.

Finally, once you become acquainted with the exercises available in the game, you can go into My Routines and set up a maximum of three exercise routines, by simply picking exercises from the list and moving them around until they're in your desired order.  Doing one of your routines is really simple, you just select one and hit the nice big button that says Start.

My only gripe about My Routines is that you can't unlock the more longer and more challenging versions of exercises while you're doing one of your routines.  The game still tracks your high scores, but My Routines goes for as little "press A to begin" and as few dialog box confirmations as possible, so you don't actually get presented with your high scores and any dialogs it does show will auto-advance.  I guess I'll just have to go back out and select exercises individually to unlock those longer and more challenging versions, and--hey waitaminute, this is another way the game tricks you into getting fit, because you'll end up wanting to unlock something, so you go and select that exercise to unlock whatever you can, and you get more exercise in the process.  I see what you did there, Nintendo...

When you start up the game, though, one of the first thing the game wants you to do is the Body Test.  This is basically a check-in sort of thing where it assesses your progress so far.  My only gripe with it is that it makes me too aware of my current weight.  I'd much rather just play the game and only check my weight every couple of weeks.  At the same time, it's nice to be able to see the gains and losses so you can try to equate them to things you either did or didn't do.  If only it would present its graphs with unlabelled axes.

The game has a calendar, and every day you do the Body Test, you get to put a stamp on the calendar.  After a while, the game unlocks additional stamps for you to use, which is neat from a graphical variety point of view, as well as from a "keep the player coming back" point of view.

In addition to the Balance Board, the game also uses a Fit Meter that clips onto the waist of your pants or whatever waist-level garment you happen to be wearing.  It tracks various things like steps taken, altitude change, and calories burned, and every time you play the game it'll have you transfer the data over so you can update all your graphs and whatnot.  There are two minigames relating to the Fit Meter, the Walking Challenge and the Altitude Challenge, where your number of steps and whatnot count towards walking around or up various cities or landmarks.  I don't know what metric they're using to convert the number of steps into distance covered, but they're neat regardless.  The Fit Meter's purpose is obviously to encourage you to be active outside of when you're playing the game, and every aspect of its design makes it suitable for that.  I often forget I'm wearing it.

An annoyance for me, since I do my workouts at 1 or 2 in the morning, is that the game really wants me to change one of its settings.  It has a setting that controls when it ticks over to a new day, and you can choose between midnight and 3 AM.  Well, considering that I'm often still doing my workout at 3 AM, and that logically speaking, the date changes at midnight and no other time, I'm leaving it at midnight, but the game just. won't. shut. up. about. it.

I don't necessarily advise you to use the Personal Trainer right away, especially if you're not very physically fit.  Some of the Yoga and Strength Training exercises are marked as "For Advanced Users Only", and require a lot of flexibility and body control that you're just not going to have if you aren't already physically fit.  Trust me, I had one ill-fated Personal Trainer run that had about six or seven of these, it wasn't very fun and I didn't really get a lot out of it.

If you're new to all this, or you're like me and buying the requisite console as well as the Wii Fit U box that comes with the game, Balance Board, and Fit Meter, you'll need two Wiimotes.  A fair number of the exercises will have you hold at least one Wiimote so it can use motion tracking or button presses or whatever.  Some exercises can also use the Nunchuck if you happen to have one, but anywhere a Nunchuck can be used, you can also use a second Wiimote.  I find a second Wiimote to be the better choice, given that not all exercises use the Nunchuck.  If you're going the Nunchuck route, you'll have to plug it in and unplug it as necessary, which I can see being a hassle.

I'm not sure why you'd want to play the game multiplayer, but some exercises (mostly the balance games) have two-player versions available.  Also, it's not just a single-user game, you can let someone else play on a guest profile, or have them register another profile so they can track their stats.  They'll need to buy their own Fit Meter, though.

One thing the game alerts you to straight away when you run it the first time is the existence of the Wii Fit U Quick Check application.  It's a small download that enables you to transfer over your Fit Meter data or do a Body Test, but not enough time for a full workout.  I generally don't use it, but I've got it there in case I do ever need it.

Overall: Wii Fit U is an excellent way for someone like me who's overweight and into video games to get fit, and we'll see what happens.  In my next post, I will cover my personal experience with the game in greater detail, and go on a bit about the psychological aspect of losing weight.

Monday, June 13, 2016

I feel old and I'm only 33

I'm already using expressions like "kids these days" and "back in my day".

Kids these days have excuses for everything.  They don't want to be exposed to anything negative, which they call being "triggered".  They just want to stay in their "safe spaces" and remain ignorant to the world.

To be fair, it's not their fault.  It's their parents' fault.  Parents of the newer generations have been engaging in wanton shielding of their children from reality, complete with the reinforcement that they're a "special little flower" and "unique".

Unique?  You mean, just like everyone else?  Come on.

This is why we have people insisting there are more than two genders.  This is why SJWs are a thing.  This is why cognitive dissonance is running rampant these days.

Sorry, did I just use big words?  Look them up and read about them for a while, maybe then you'll understand.

Freedom of Speech, one of the freedoms specifically carved out by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, is bigger than your feelings.  You now probably want proof, seeing as how you're in denial that your feelings don't matter more than others' right to speak their mind.  Fortunately for me, there's a handy little quote floating around, that goes something like this: (slightly paraphrased, of course)

"I may not like what my fellow man has to say, but I will defend to the death his right to say it."

Despite the misinformation you may have heard, it's not from Voltaire.  Do your own research into the matter and you'll see who actually wrote it.  Don't cheat by asking someone else either, it's a really simple thing to just look up yourself.  It takes about five minutes, and Google, whether you like them as a company or not, has a very accessible search engine that will give you the proper result.

When you're done doing that, I've got a movie for you to watch.  Don't worry, it's a comedy.  From 1994.  Starring Jeremy Piven and David Spade.  It addresses, and pretty much predicted, the frivolity of this younger generation in a truthful, yet comedic manner.  Don't know the name?  Well, it's a cult classic, so I'm not really expecting you to already know about it.  Look it up.  There's a really good website full of information about movies that lets you see who's been in what, what genre it is, and a lot more.  I've already given you enough information to locate the title yourself.  Getting a copy of the movie, on the other hand, is a point of contention.  It may or may not be available on one or another streaming service.  I honestly don't know, so you'll have to search on your own.

Stop sticking your head in a hole and pretending that a problem doesn't exist if you can't see it.  Stop covering your ears and going "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" when people say things you don't agree with.  You have a choice.  Speak up and let your beliefs be known, or keep your beliefs to yourself and stay silent.  Regardless of which choice you make, be sure to consider opposing viewpoints.  It will make you a much more well-rounded individual if you can learn to see an issue from both sides.  Even when one side doesn't really have a leg to stand on, make sure you know why people are saying what they're saying.  Don't trivialize someone's viewpoint.  Don't generalize into easy labels.  Also, don't be pedantic.

Also, for all the wannabe activists out there: make sure you're actually willing to practice what you preach.  It's so easy to speak loudly on an issue these days, that people seem to be forgetting that in order to make change happen, it starts with the person proposing the change.  Learn what is and isn't constructive behavior.

I really feel old now.  Don't mind me, just gonna go play games on my Nintendo Entertainment System...

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Just saying...

Twitter, or any social media really, is completely normal, for whatever definition of normal you have, under most circumstances.

Then once something terrible happens and starts getting 24/7 news coverage and whatnot, suddenly everyone's an activist.

This has not gone unnoticed.

And it's stupid.

If you want to be an activist, fine.  Be an activist.  However, you'll find that really being an activist involves being an activist all the time, instead of just when something bad happens.  You need devotion to the cause.

Social media "activists" pretty much ignore every cause they care about until it's suddenly in the news, and then they're all "if you don't agree with me you're a terrible person" and whatnot.

That's not how activism works.

I specifically avoided mentioning any one cause or terrible event, because this applies to all of them.

Thank you, and good night.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Miitomo

Having recently joined the "wonderful world" of smartphone ownership, and having been in the Nintendo ecosystem for a while with two 3DSes (and now a Wii U, not to mention the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, NES, SNES, and GameCube), I was interested in Nintendo's smartphone application, Miitomo.

They call it a game, but I'd hesitate to do so.  99% of it is just your Mii walking around a room.  The "gameplay" is answering questions and periodically changing your Mii's outfit.  Also, every single time you change your Mii's outfit, you have to deflect not one, but two requests to take a picture ("Miifoto") of your Mii in that new outfit.  No thanks, Nintendo, my phone has limited storage space and I don't want to fill it up with pictures of my Mii.

As I've just implied, the usefulness of Miitomo is limited, so even if you're in Nintendo's ecosystem and have a smartphone or a tablet or something that can run it, you may still want to pass it up.  The only thing really game-like at all about it is Miitomo Drop, a frustrating minigame where you drop your Mii in one of a few differently-laid-out boards in a mostly vain attempt to unlock new outfit parts.  Most of the time you'll just bounce all the way to the bottom and end up getting candy, which is only useful for when you're interacting with your friends.

The reason I don't have any information on how the friend interaction works is because none of my friends still play it.  There was an initial boom of activity, as there is with any new high-profile software release, but then it promptly died off, and took the application's popularity along with it.  Its only primary use is to get Miitomo coins for My Nintendo, so you can... wait for it... unlock more Mii outfit parts.

Because apparently having real money transactions in a smartphone application is something that can't be avoided these days, you can also use your hard-earned cash to buy in-game currency to be able to purchase more outfits or play Miitomo Drop.  It's completely overlookable, though, because the daily bonuses give you plenty of stuff, and none of the outfits and outfit parts are really "must-haves".  I've grabbed some stuff that looked neat out of Miitomo Drop, either through sheer luck, or using YouTube videos as a guide to know where and how to drop my Mii in order to get the thing I wanted.  I've also used my Miitomo coins to grab outfit items from My Nintendo.

It's kinda neat, I guess, but as long as the main gameplay only involves answering questions and turning down photo requests, I don't think it's really worth playing for very long.  Miifoto is kind of neat, but just like the rest of the application, it's a novelty that wears off rather quickly.

I will leave you now with the only Miifoto I've ever taken that I'm reasonably proud of.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Day of Racing 2016 (late post lol)

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I hate watching races with my dad and his friend.  They ramble on the entire time about one thing or another, and most of the time it's unrelated to what's happening on screen.  Then they miss things because they're so involved in their conversation, and meanwhile I'm just trying to watch the damn race.

My dad in particular seems to have fallen so in love with DVRs that I don't think I'll ever get to see an event live again.  That's why I don't tweet about races much anymore, because by the time we're actually watching them, the race is already over.

So, anyway.  Memorial Day weekend is always host to three auto races, spaced out so nicely for us in the US that you could call them the breakfast, lunch, and dinner of auto racing.  I always refer to it as The Day of Racing, just because.

Formula 1 Grand Prix of Monaco

In the morning, there's the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Monaco, an iconic track for a variety of reasons, and also one of the most difficult to pass on.  This year's F1 season has been kinda boring, to fix it, just remove Mercedes.  Then we'll have real races with actual competition and whatnot.  It rained between qualifying and race day, which made things interesting just because there's always that point you reach where it's time to switch from full wets to inters or from inters to dry weather tires, or in Hamilton's case, just say "fuck it" and stay out on full wets until it's time to change to dry weather tires.  A dubiously legal blocking maneuver by Hamilton and a pit stop gaffe on the part of Daniel Ricciardo's team sealed the victory for Hamilton.  Ricciardo wasn't terribly pleased, but Sergio Perez scored a podium for Force India and was pretty happy overall.  Hamilton managed to work his signature "blessed" thing into the post-race interview, just after he shared the victory champagne with Justin Bieber.

Indianapolis 500

The Indy 500 has way too damn much pre-race.  I know it's an event with a lot of history, and being held on Memorial Day weekend means it ends up with a bunch of pre-race events honoring war veterans and whatnot.  Then there's the national anthem with the flyover, the singing of Back Home Again in Indiana, the releasing of the multi-colored balloons, then the most famous words in motorsport, and then about twenty minutes of parade laps later we finally get racing.

Things stayed pretty civil this year, no completely bonehead maneuvers to speak of, except for pit stops during yellow flags.  For whatever reason people were ignoring the fact that there's two lanes to the right of the pit boxes and just darting straight towards the rightmost one on exit, without any regard as to whether anyone's already there.  Thankfully, they were vigilant about handing out the penalties for it.  The first one to get hit with a penalty was Will Power, which basically put him on a sub-optimal alternate strategy that ended up seeing him go a lap down at one point.  Cue sad trombone and picture of the room of those who care.

My eternal pick to win, Tony Kanaan, was in the mix as always and led a few laps, but ultimately had to stop for fuel with nine laps to go.  As could be expected, fuel basically dictated the race win, and Alexander Rossi pulled off some amazing fuel savings by coasting on parts of the last lap to win, only to run out of fuel during the victory lap and have to be towed back to the pits.  He did a few races of last year's F1 season with a backmarker team, so perhaps having an Indy 500 win under his belt will increase those prospects a little bit.  After all, Jacques Villeneuve winning the very first Indy 505 kinda kick-started his F1 career.

Coca-Cola 600

I'm always on my own for the Coke 600 because my dad is an old man and just wants to have a martini (made with gin, as one correctly makes a martini), and go to sleep. I went to B-Dubs like in previous years, except that this year some Florida baseball game had priority and they were playing music instead of TV audio, so it was a silent NASCAR race.  NASCAR apparently re-branded their "phantom debris caution" as a "Competition Caution", which came out early in the race.  Partway through the race, by coincidence, a friend of mine showed up just to get something to eat, so at least I had someone to talk to.

I missed good portions of the race due to the lack of TV audio, but it was mostly a missable race.  No huge wrecks or anything (that I noticed, at least) and Truex led 392 of the 400 laps, making this NASCAR race more of a parade than the Monaco GP was.  I was making jokes the entire time about how if the Jimmy John's car wins, the first sentence of the post-race interview should be "Man, this Jimmy John's car was Freaky Fast™ tonight." and how it should be Jimmie Johnson driving the Jimmy John's car.  But Johnson didn't win lol, and neither did the Jimmy John's car, so it's all a moot point, I guess.

The food I had was pretty good.  I got a chicken wrap with the Parmesan Garlic sauce, with a side of chips and salsa, eight boneless Thai Curry wings, and a tall Yuengling.  Later I had some Dr. Pepper, which I wasn't even charged for.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Holy crap, why was this so difficult

So, all I wanted was the dimensions of the default wallpapers in Android 5, so I could prepare images from my computer to be wallpapers on my shiny new android smartphone.

All it had to do was cough up the numbers.  I already forced it to cough up the single-screen wallpaper dimensions by way of taking a screenshot, which is also similarly hidden (on my phone, press and hold both Power and Volume Down).

For the wallpaper that pans, though, I had a hunch which ended up being close to correct, but it was a lot harder to get it to cough up the numbers.  Just eyeballing it based the scaled-down version of a 1000x1000 image, looking at how it wanted to crop it to make a panning wallpaper, I estimated 120px extra on each side for the panning, it ended up being 240px extra on each side.  This is the portrait-mode screen width multiplied by two, which in retrospect I should have expected.

For starters, you can't just find a folder on your phone's internal storage with the default wallpapers.  They can't possibly be bothered to make it that simple.  No, instead you have to set an image as your wallpaper that requires cropping, so the Gallery application will do the cropping before it gets set as your wallpaper, and then use a third-party application to dump it via Bluetooth to your computer, where you can then just look at the damn dimensions.

So, for future reference, on my LG L33G/LG L33L/LG Sunset LTE, the single-screen wallpaper is 480x854, and the panning one is 960x854.

Also, in case you're reading this and are having similar troubles with a different phone that possibly uses a different resolution, the application I used to dump my current wallpaper via Bluetooth is Wallpaper Saver on the Google Play store.  It has a lot of other options, and Gallery is irritatingly not in the list, but thankfully Bluetooth is.  Don't use the other application with this title, that one has in-application purchases and requires superfluous permissions.  The one I linked to only requires storage access so it can get at the wallpaper, which is really all it should need.

On second glance, it seems to dump the wallpaper to the Gallery in the process of sending it elsewhere, even if the send fails.  So, if you don't want to post it on the internet, you can probably finagle one of the options into running just long enough for it to dump the wallpaper to the Gallery and then fail the transfer.

Anyway, now that I have that crucial bit of info (as well as the aspect ratio, which is arguably more important), I have some image editing to do.

In other news, it looks like my only root option might be KingRoot, and then going through some steps to swap it out for SuperSU.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I also have a Wii U now

So a while back I was tweeting about it, and I finally ordered from Amazon.  It seems to be impossible to find just the base Wii U console these days, but I did find a bundle that included Mario Kart 8 with a code for its two paid DLC packs.  While I do intend to play that, and get Super Mario Maker as well, the primary purpose I purchased it for was Wii Fit U.

I basically haven't been physically fit for a long time now, and it's time I did something about that.  I figure combining my love of video games with my desire to lose weight can only be a good thing, so we'll see how it goes.  I'm still a bit leery of a video game controller that I stand on that isn't a soft plastic DDR mat, but hey, it says it can support up to 330 pounds.  I just have to hope I'm not that much of a fatass.  I haven't weighed myself in at least a decade, so who really knows how much I weigh?

Looking at some of the pictures of people using the balance board, it doesn't seem like they're putting their full weight on it very much anyway.  So perhaps I don't really need to worry too much.  (post-playing-Wii Fit U-update: I no longer worry.  It's quite hefty and well constructed.)

I know, I know, exercise is only one part of physical fitness, the other part being diet.  However, I'm a programmer.  My brain is wired with an engineering mindset.  I'm built to troubleshoot, and the only way to see what's going to work in any situation is to change one thing at a time.  Otherwise, you won't know what worked.  I'm taking that very same iterative approach here.  My goal is to hopefully get fit while sacrificing relatively little in terms of what I enjoy eating, but that's the American dream (lol "muricans r fatasses" stereotype) and it isn't always feasible.  All I can say is, we'll see.

Other than the aforementioned copy of Super Mario Maker, and maybe Smash Bros., I don't really have any idea what I'm going to get for it.  There's the inevitable eShop purchases, what with the Virtual Console being a thing and all.  Smileboom has a version of SmileBASIC planned for the Wii U, so I'll probably grab that.  If WayForward ever releases Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, I'll probably get that.  There's also the Wii eShop and Chrono Trigger on Virtual Console.

One issue that's going to be annoying for a little while is how the console has an AV Multi Out port on the back, but only comes with an HDMI cable.  While I do have access to an HDMI-equipped setup to plug it into, I'd be able to use the console a lot more freely if I had a regular old RCA audio/video cable.  Then again, one of the Wii U's selling points is that you can play games purely from the tablet controller while the TV is used for other things entirely, so we'll see how much mileage I can get out of that.

Overall, happy with my purchase and so forth.