Monday, May 24, 2010

L.A. Times Botches Lost Finale Review

L.A. Times botches the review.  Spoilers at the link despite many mistakes.  My own discussion follows the break and will include spoilers -- hopefully if you're reading a news feed, it doesn't include stuff after the break.

Monday, May 17, 2010

How to get a nerd to exercise

Jaru and I got a Wii last week -- the one video game system Jaru would actually ask for ahead of me!

We also got the Wii Fit+ package which includes the balance board and such.

I've enjoyed it quite a bit since it allows me to exercise in the house in shorts then head straight for a shower.  Driving back from a gym in sweaty clothes always bugged me, plus then I'd need multiple sets of clothes so they'd be clean.

One other benefit (I think) is that when I do the jogging in place for the jogging game I run on my toes since I'm effectively jogging barefoot.  I've read that jogging in shoes causes problems since you tend to hit hard heel-first -- I'm I'm pretty sure that applies to me.  When I tried jogging last I'd develop knee issues after a few months.

What surprises me though is how few exertainment games there are.  Practically no true exercise programs that are game-focused.  I picked up Walk it Out, which allows you to walk around a little virtual island.  There's a slight game aspect in that you click on glowing stars and pellets while walking and build up the island with houses and trees and such.

I'd rate it 4 out of 5 stars since it's the only goddamn exergame out there really.  But if there were any competition I'd give it 2 stars or less.  In order to click on things you need to point the remote -- doing this while walking when you should be swinging your arms to get the full effect. 

One plus of the game is that you need to step fairly high when using the remote in pocket method of walking, and at a good pace, so I work up a solid sweat while playing.

But it's frustrating that there are so many simply obvious ways of making a fun or interesting exergame.

Jogging works remarkably well by putting a remote in pocket.  Jaru had the idea of simply laying down various virtual paths through unusual terrains.  Why not jog through the Amazon, or Paris, or Middle Earth?  That'd make jogging a little fun.

Or how about some incentive -- jogging through the amazon with a leopard chasing you.  Or maybe you're a tiger and chasing hapless guys in pith helmets through the jungle.  There's no reason your icon couldn't be an animal or monster.

Or you play as Pac-Man and gobble pellets while running away from ghosts.

You could dash off hundreds of interesting ideas in a few hours and they'd all be remarkably easy to implement -- yet there isn't a single dedicated jogging game on the Wii.

One thing though, using the Wii is making me really look forward to Natal.

I've played a couple sword games using the Wii and it's amazingly fun to swing the controller and hack something up.  The big downside has been that it doesn't track the movements of the rest of your body.  So being able to full body dodge and such will be very cool if the Natal technology works.

One upshot of all this is that there'll be all these pale, extremely wiry nerds in the future who spend 16 hours a day working out to World of Warcraft.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Some book ratings

I've had a flurry of reading over the last couple months.  I don't trust my ability to assign quality ratings since I'm influenced by what other people say about books or the opinions I hear about a writer or even just how much the books seems like it ought to be considered good.

So I'm using a more empirical scale:

Q     Quit reading the book.
Q+   Quit reading the book, but might read another book by the author.
R      Read the book, but probably won't read another book by the author.
R+    Read the book, will read more books by the author.

It actually takes me a while to truly quit a book -- usually about page 100 before I get irritated enough to dump it and decide that I'm not picking it up again.  Not sure about the qualitative difference between Q+ and R, thus no real star system.

The Tourist R+
I'm waiting for more modern era spy novels by this guy. I liked finding a modern spy novel that wasn't mired in the wars I can get mired in by turning on the news.

A Spy by Nature R
Up until the ending it's rather slow, but feels like an accurate description of a spy op.  The ending felt like it went a bit Hollywood, which was jarring compared to the rest of it.

Already Dead  and the rest of the series  R+
Was really reticent about this since I'm not big on vampire novels, but really dug the lean and nasty writing.

Closing Arguments  R+
Domestic life complicates theosophy and a mystic assault from beyond.

Magic to the Bone  Q
Our broke heroine spends her last ten bucks on a taxi.  Then her friend later gives her 100 bucks which she promptly blows on on more taxis.  Get a bus pass!  I got a hundred pages in and noticed I was starting to obsess over this taxi business instead of the story, so figured I'd move on.

Daemon  Q
I couldn't get past the killer remote control Humvee that FBI agents apparently didn't realize you could hide behind a thick tree in order to avoid.

The Breach  R+
Fun and fast-moving, one of two new authors from whom I'm definitely getting their second book.

Pandemonium  Q+
Some interesting writing style but I need to be fed regular little plot pellets like the reading rat I am.

Child of Fire  R+
Starts off fast and keeps moving.  What I particularly liked was the lead characters and their complex, evolving relationships. The second author where I'm definitely getting book two.

A Corpse in the Koryo  R  (first eBook read on iPad)
Really cool idea, a detective story set in North Korea where detective also has to navigate complexities of politics.  But the ending felt a little deus ex.

Songs of Innocence  R
This is pretty fucking dark!  Gritty pulp noir updated to today.

Horns  R+
I read and loved Heart-Shaped Box, then discovered this kid's lineage...  Anyway, the first book had already scored an R+ on its own.

Beautiful Lies  R+
Even though not paranormal fantasy, this is what provoked the Urban Fantasy Mary Sues post.  But the story was tense and fast-moving.  Gonna give Black Out a try.

American on Purpose  R
I suppose he'd have to re-incarnate in order to write a second biography.