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Why Am I So Loud? Observations About Kinect Video Chat

In dance, Dance Central, dog, family, Kinect, relationship on January 8, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Kinect Video Chat.

Now we can talk to each other, much like a split-screen in a newscast – one person/several people in one box talking to another person/group, or an extension of the web cam experience.  Doesn’t seem super futuristic, but nonetheless, I heard about this and thought it might be cool to do it through Kinect.  I wondered how well it would work.   I tried it out with two parties in my Xbox Live crew:  my friend, a former TV news producer, and my brother, a computer nerd and electrical engineer.   Just for the record, these are smart people with a knack for communications technology (and then there’s me).

First attempt with my friend, the former TV producer, and here are my observations:

  • It was not intuitive where to go.  She and I had to get on the phone to troubleshoot how we accepted each others’ requests to do Video Kinect.
  • Just for the record, when you get a pop up “toast”, you have to go to the Dashboard and check your messages.  Via messages, you can accept.  Then you can Video Kinect.
  • I would really like it if you could just say “Accept” when you get the “Toast” and Kinect does the rest for you.  This would use the voice recognition and leave none of the thinking to the user.  IMO.  (More on my early impressions of “toast” in this post: “We Were Making Out On The Couch…”)

Second attempt, with my brother and his family.

  • Same thing, only he had been trying to figure out a bunch of things, such as how to add friends, for awhile, before we had to get on the phone.
  • Richard was with me, so he talked them through it.
  • My question is this:  If you don’t have a Richard, who helps you?  Normal people need fewer steps.

That being said, when we finally Video Kinect-ed with my brother, my sister and law and my niece and nephew, I have to say it was kind of entertaining.  My niece wanted to see the dog right away, so we sat the dog up to say hi.   Then, we talked about our experiences with Dance Central.  If you don’t think this is all terribly boring, here’s a peek at our Video Kinect conversation.

You might notice that I laugh really loudly.  My mother always told me this was inappropriate, but many years later I just can’t help it.  On video though, it does make me think why AM I so much louder than everyone else? Maybe my mom should answer this random question.

Kinectimals Quagmire: Bornean Clouded Leopard or Golden Retriever?

In dog, family, gaming, Kinect, relationship on November 22, 2010 at 6:26 pm

My obsession with Dance Central and Bust A Move leaderboard status was starting to get a little unhealthy, I guess you could say, so I busted out Kinectimals for what I thought would be a kinder, gentler game for my emerging Kinect addiction.

Little did I know that Kinectimals would be… so freaking adorable.

I proceeded to play frisbee and soccer with my Bornean Clouded Leopard, run around the beach with it, clean it and feed it.  I even bought it a bed for the island homestead.  I thought: my niece, a junior high school aged animal lover and aspiring veterinarian, is going to freak out when she plays this next month.

I was unaware that some time during my immersion, my real dog had snuggled up in the area near my feet, which is quite unusual when we’re moving around in the living room.  Usually, she knows to stay out of the way.

I stepped right to kick the soccer ball – and I accidentally kicked the dog.  Oh no!   Not hard, just a little.

Hugs, apologies and a treat or two later… I think she forgot what happened.

But I suddenly felt guilty… like my real pet deserved a little more attention.  She has been around much longer, after all.  My Bornean Clouded Leopard has only been in my life for two days.

 

 

Kinectimals Takeaways:

  • Make sure real pets are away from your feet or area of play.
  • Give them much love in advance of a play session.
  • Love your pet a lot after your play session.
  • For kids – some of the levels of play are pretty fast-paced, but the game itself is pretty encouraging and forgiving.
  • For adults – you may be surprised that this is a fairly active game for a kids’ game.  You might even break out in a sweat during the crab-booting on the beach!


A Mom and a Pilates Junkie Walk into My House…

In dance, dog, fashion and style, gaming, Kinect, Product on November 13, 2010 at 4:47 pm

No joke.  Two girlfriends who have no interest in video games broke free from their Nordstrom jeans shopping (serious stuff here) and came over to the house for a super-fast sampling of Dance Central on Kinect before picking up the kids.

It all happened so fast that the dog got really excited and didn’t quite “stay”.  Out she went on the deck for the time being. (More on what happens with Kinect with a big dog in the picture in the next post.)

I pop in Dance Central. and the intro to the game rolls…

“I’m so excited.”  (the Mom)

“This is a good video.” (the Pilates Junkie)

I sign in.

“I love how it’s so futuristic… that you’re just using your hand for the commands.” (the Mom)

“Okay, which song?”  (this is me)

“PUSH IT.” (Both, almost simultaneously, after seeing a few songs)

I pick the Easy mode just to get started.  The Mom jumps in first.

“This is hard!” (The Mom, after a few steps to the music.)   “This is so much fun!”

Pilates Junkie is laughing at the nerdiness of it all.

“I’m totally sweating!” (The Mom)

Pilates Junkie jumps in, laughing at herself for getting about half the moves right.  She also lets out a little gasp when a move isn’t quite right, and the dude tells her, “That’s alright, everyone messes up on that one.”

And just like that, their inaugural Kinect Dance Central session is over.

Final thoughts from them?

The Mom: “OMG I’m totally getting this.  My kids will love it.  I love the no-controller thing.”

Pilates Junkie: “I don’t like the Freestyle so much… when they take your pictures.  I don’t really want to see that.”

I agree.  I’m not a fan of the photo Freestyle feature.  (Xbox – can we disable this?   Don’t mind the Freestyle, don’t need to see the sweaty playback.)

When they leave, I’m back on Bust A Move, trying to stay in the Top 10.  A few rounds later, I post my highest score yet (another blog post, another time).

Young MC Made Me Sweat!

In dance, dinner, dog, gaming, relationship on November 4, 2010 at 11:12 am

“If you want it …you’ve got it…” (this is me, my living room)

I am in my living room, the dog in the corner watching me with a bit of confusion.  I am singing the Young MC classic “Bust A Move” and doing same hip hop moves I remember for the late college years in California.  I. Love. It.

Before I knew it, I was a little bit obsessed, trying out new moves in and via Kinect.

I channeled my inner Kylie in “Can’t Get You Outta My Head”.  I fed my long standing obsession with the disco era in “Brickhouse”.
I wasn’t crazy about The Pony move in the choreography for “C’mon Ride The Train”, but it was still fun.  Oh, and I tore it up in “Push It” (did you know the famous Salt-n-Pepa hair was a result of a relaxer mistake?  Watch Chris Rock’s Good Hair.)

By the end of my half hour session (was it an hour?), I was sweatin’, happy to burn off the calories from dinner.  Could the Kinect sense my sweat?  I was also impressed by the Kinect command-with-hand function to choose titles and scroll.  Very smooth, I have to say.  Even that was fun.

One more thing I liked:  if you get the move on the first try, the game gives you a diamond for a score.  How about that for a little extra sparkle for your day?

Finally, all of this bustin’ a move  made me try to remember what year I was actually jammin’ to “Bust A Move”.  I think I had a Sony Discman at the time. I looked it up and found out something really cool on Wikipedia about “Bust A Move“:  Young MC wrote the lyrics in 90 minutes in his campus apartment at USC, and they were never edited.  And – he recorded his first draft to the track!  What?!!!  Serious.  I knew I loved that Marvin Young from Cali.

By the way, I let my husband play a little too.

Thank goodness we started talking about Family Guy.

In dance, dinner, dog, family, gaming, Halo, Product, TV watching on September 29, 2010 at 5:50 pm

And… cue the quicksand.  I’m sinking deeper into geek-land.

The other day we were visiting friends, whose pre-teen sons were, let’s just say, brilliant and enlightening (it was like talking to two Stewies from Family Guy, but with less anger).  However, they are boys, and they’re very excited about the recently released Halo: Reach (as in Spartans and multi-threat armor, etc.).

They also can’t wait for controller-free gaming with Kinect.  Suddenly, over hors d’oeuvres, I found myself explaining the benefits versus drawbacks of playing shooter games on Kinect.

“Does Kinect work with shooter games?” (John)

“Well, it’s really not for shooter games, because of the timing.”  (This is me… and I can’t believe these words are coming out of my mouth.)

“How does it work with shooter games?” (Trevor)

“It’s not what you really want for shooter games to be effective in your game.  By the time you react, tell it to do what you want, then it reacts and shoots… it’s a little too far past the moment.  In that type of situation, you really want the immediacy of the controller to just hit the button and fire the shot.”  (WHO. AM. I?)

“Oh.  Yeah, I guess you would just want to hit A.”  (John)

“Exactly.”  (I pause.  Please pass the red pepper dip and celery.)

Soon afterward, conversation shifted to the brilliance of Seth McFarlane and the season premiere of Family Guy.

Whew.  That was fun, but just a little bit alarming.

(That being said, I am excited to dance MJ moves on Kinect.)

Are You Too Busy Watching Project Runway to Video Chat?

In dog, fashion and style, gaming, interior decorating, Product, relationship, travel, TV watching on September 6, 2010 at 11:32 am

When we first moved in together, Richard tried his best to convince me we did not need cable because we had a ton of content options through Xbox Live.  I told him, no, I needed cable to a) do my job…sometimes, and b) because I wanted to watch shows like American Idol real-time (as detailed in my post, Sept. 25, ’08:  How Do I Watch Cable?  Really, Just Cable).

So, we hooked up one television for cable.  Problem is, it is the living room’s 64″ television, where Richard prefers to play shooter games, watch his action/violence movies and test new technology.  Most of the time, he gets there first, and I’m blocked out of my cable shows.

Richard, visiting family, calls me the other night. Predictably, I’m catching up on my cable shows and at one with my armchair with the dog at my feet, curled up in an orange ball and snoring.  I have no competition for the remote(s).

Here’s how the phone call went:

“Do you want to try to video chat over Xbox Live?  Or are you too busy watching Project Runway?”  (this is him)

“???” (the bubble over my head…wondering how he knew I was, at that very moment, waiting to see who would get the Auf Wiedersehen from Heidi.)

“Okay, what do I do?” (I know this will make him very happy, so I put Heidi on pause.)

“You have to get a headset and plug it into the controller.  Then you have to log on as xboxbride.” (him)

I reach into the boxes in which I’ve stored all his gaming accessories (see: Sept. 8, ’08 post, I Made Friends With the Container Store) and fish out a headset.  Then, I follow his directions.

He tells me how to do something else, but either I can’t “make it work” a la Tim Gunn, or I am too uncreative at that moment to problem-solve.

“Never mind, sweetheart.”  (him)

“Can we just talk on the phone?” (I am thinking… “like normal people”?)

We do.

It wasn’t long before I found out that Peach (below) got the Auf Wiedersehen and Michael C. won the challenge of turning an ugly bridesmaid’s dress into a wearable party outfit (black dress below) in Episode 6:  “You Can Totally Wear That Again”.  Why is it that bridesmaids dresses are always so ugly, anyway?

Why Does One Need Multi-Threat Armor? It’s about more than Halo: Reach..

In dog, family, fashion and style, gaming, Halo, movies, Product, relationship, TV watching on August 26, 2010 at 11:16 am

“Do you want to watch something while we eat?”

This is a normal question Richard poses to me as we sit down to dinner. However, also normal: having to sort through all the new videos on Xbox Live before we can even get to something like, say, Mad Men (you know, the amazing, award-winning show on AMC).

The other evening, this was the video that I experienced as I was taking my first few bites: Game Stop – Halo: Reach

It is a promotion to pre-order one of the most highly-anticipated titles in the video game world through Game Stop. If you pre-order, you get exclusive, multi-threat armor. Multi-threat armor. Again for the nosebleed seats… multi-threat armor.

My initial reaction of a raised eyebrow of confusion/bubble over my head: “seriously?” changed when I thought of Reach as a metaphor. By the end of the Game Stop promo video, I understood. If you really think about it, sometimes… on the job or in life… life changes so drastically, one needs multi-threat armor to cope or fend off the bad guys, the bad times, and the hardest challenges one faces (e.g. family illness, job loss, etc.). After all, we are in the middle of an economic downturn that is unique in many ways, and many of us just don’t know how to predict what will happen…what to expect.

Would it be such a bad idea to have multi-threat armor right now? Anyone? Bueller? What does that look like? For me, it’s entertainment like Mad Men, my yoga practice, the dog, growing my own herbs and cooking from them, and of course, my husband. That’s my multi-threat armor. What’s yours? If you can’t think of anything right away… maybe Game Stop can help. We all need a little multi-threat armor now and then.

Lost in LOST.

In dinner, dog, family, movies, Product, relationship, TV watching on July 3, 2010 at 1:50 pm

We are about to celebrate our one year anniversary, and these days, “date night” is on the couch.  I couldn’t be happier.

Sure, we could pepper our date nights with the following: 1) a movie, 2) restaurants, 3) plans with friends, 4) any number of social events, and 5) salsa dancing (how we met).

However, when work-related events consume lots of social time, you’re a pretty good chefette, and the amount of content on your husband’s Xbox is enough to keep you in the house for weeks on end if you didn’t have a dog to make you go outside (oh and a job), there is a certain part of me that is just happy to be tranquil on the couch.

Right now, we’re watching the final season of LOST.  The only problem is, when you have an entire season at your fingertips, and the show is as good as LOST, it is easy to just keep watching episode after episode.   It dawns on you that you now have more in common with hard core gamers than you ever thought possible: you are in front of the screen for hours, obsessed, and your tranquility is no longer that.

My solution to this current obsession is to do an Xboxbride mash up of sorts:

  • We’ve invited friends over to BBQ and watch fireworks for the 4th of July…
  • …with the promise of my Sweet Corn, Avocado and Truffle salad…
  • and Hot Tub Time Machine (thanks, Zune VM).

I think I can safely say I’ve combined my content obsession with above options 1, 3 & 4 for our holiday date night… #2 as well, because, well, I’ve been told my corn salad is restaurant quality.  😉

(Note to self:  Plan salsa for next week.)

By the way, I finished six seasons of The Hills in a just a few weeks.  Seriously, I do get out, though.

Dear Xbox, I think these are adorable.

In dog, fashion and style, gaming, Product, relationship on June 30, 2010 at 9:30 am

“COOL!”

The big sound of excitement came from the living room, where my husband had just started exploring the newest Xbox “accessories” for your Avatar:  fantasy pets.

“What?!!” (this is me)

I walk in to see… a gargoyle, a cyclops, a minotaur…

I have to say…very cute.  I mean, the fantasy pets (okay, my “big kid” husband too”). Kudos to the designers.  These are just the right balance between not-too-cutesy and a little bit edgy.

Now the question:  which one for my avatar?   More shopping for me.

Hope the dog doesn’t get jealous.  ;D

Ganesha Girl Likes Kid Games

In dog, family, gaming, movies, Product, relationship, travel on June 27, 2010 at 9:51 am

The other day I saw the promotion for the Toy Story 3 video game.

“OOO. Honey, can you get that for me?”  (I found myself saying this before the promotion was even over.)

Laughter from the husband.

“I love you!” (this is him – clearly my once-every-so-often interest in certain games makes him happy and helps us bond in his gamer world)

One day after I made this request, TS3, the game, is in my house.   Can’t wait.  We’re going to see the movie this afternoon before I dig in.

My Short “Kid Game” History:

I became one with the couch to master the Panda Quake in”Kung Fu Panda”  See post: A new decade.  Another day of Kung Fu Panda, Jan. 2010.

I delighted over the adorable interaction between Russell, Mr. Fredrickson and the ability to dig and swim as Doug in “Up”.

Fable 2 obsession was locked in because of my ability to travel all over the place with my dog… which I kind of do in real life anyway.  See:  Let’s Disco.  I have Inferno Level 5 and I got a dog.  A fable dog.