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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.

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Kinect Saves a Manhattan Mom From Meltdown

In family, gaming, Kinect, relationship, workout on December 28, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Me to my friend Robin via phone:  “Are you having fun with Kinect?”

Robin: “Fun?  Kinect is not fun.  Let me tell you.  Kinect is saving our sanity.”

You see, the December 2010 East Coast blizzard has created cabin (or Manhattan apartment) fever for my dear friend, her sick husband and two little boys.  The older one, Gabriel, is a six year old with energy that could power the entire island of Manhattan in case of blackout.  When there’s a blizzard of this magnitude, the concept of containing kid energy of this magnitude in a two-bedroom New York apartment sparks…parental survival instincts.

The family has been snowed in for days; however, Gabriel has not been bouncing off the walls.  Instead, he’s been bouncing around in a 3×3 square foot space in the apartment’s living room… playing Kinect… instead of acting out and wearing out his mom.  (There are only so many snow angels you can make, you know?)

“Let me tell you how much Gabriel loves Kinect.  He doesn’t even realize there’s a box of Christmas cookies on the table.” (Robin again, who can’t stop raving about the Xbox in her living room, which was formerly devoid of any video game technology.)

Several months ago, Robin’s husband (the dad), a cerebral chap, was truly suspicious and dubious about having an Xbox and/or Kinect in their apartment at all.

This week, I greeted him on the phone with: “Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Kinect.”

His response?  “Yes.  Kinect is a Godsend.”

At the very least, it is a parental coping mechanism providing a little boy with exercise in a record-breaking snowstorm.


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!


No way! I’m #6 in the World!

In dance, family, relationship on November 7, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Never before did I think I would be obsessed (okay, semi-obsessed) with my gamer score or rank.

Today, I discovered that I’m #6 in the world for Dance Central’s “Bust A Move”.  WHAT?!!!  Check. It. Out.

Now, I know that the competition is limited at this point, because Kinect just came out, so as more people/dancers get on board with it, the board will get more crowded at the top.

How long can I stay in the Top 10?

One thing is for sure.  I’ve  never been in the Top 10 in the world for anything.  I’ll be sweatin’ to Young MC in my attempt to stay there… and working on my abs at the same 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.

Close your mouth, honey, or you’re going to get flies in there.

In family, gaming, Halo, Product, relationship, zombie on October 4, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Last week, around 2am, I stirred in my sleep to find that my husband still hadn’t come to bed.  Battling an ugly cold, I went back to sleep.

Several hours prior, around 9:30pm, as I said goodnight, Richard had logged onto Xbox Live to start a multi-player Halo: Reach session with his two brothers and brother-in-law (two of them on Eastern time, so 12:30am there, already).

Flash forward to the morning after.  I wake up.  He is stirring…barely coherent.

“What time did you come to bed?” (this is me)

“Around five.” (this is him)

Silence.

“Are you serious?” (me)

“Yes.  At least I won’t have to play Halo:Reach anymore.  It’s done.”

“You finished the entire game?” (me)

“Yes.”  (him)

“All of you.” (me)

“Yes.”  (him)

Mouth agape. (me)

“Close your mouth, honey, or you’re going to get flies in there.” (this is him)

“They stayed up all night and played until 8am their time?” (me again, wondering how my sisters-in-law dealt with the little kids and everything)

“Yes.”

I really couldn’t say anything, based on my New Year’s Day obsession with Kung Fu Panda (see post: A new decade. Another day of Kung Fu Panda), but at least I played during the day…on a holiday…and I stopped to walk the dog and eat.  These guys were zombies.

Reflective pause. (me)

“Was it good?” (me again)

“Yes.” (him)

“Do you want me to let you sleep some more?” (me)

“Yes.” (him)

Zombies, I tell you.  Zombies.

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.

Geordi LaForge is a Fan.

In Product, relationship, travel, Uncategorized on July 24, 2010 at 9:00 pm

It’s pretty cute when your normally uber logical husband plays the part of a fan boy.

“He said, ‘Heyyyy!  Richard!'” (this is him, excitedly, over the phone with me)

The “Heyyyy! Richard!” came from LeVar Burton, aka Geordi La Forge, Star Trek Next Generation, at Comic-Con 2010.  Understand that this greeting has “roots”, so to speak, in E3 2008, when my husband first met LeVar.

Here’s how the story “goes”:  Richard was sitting in one of the E3 lounges and overheard some conversations about Xbox.  To his surprise, the conversation was coming from LeVar and his group, which was very exciting to Richard, a massive Star Trek fan.  A few minutes later, Richard had scooted closer and introduced himself, discovering that LeVar is a huge Xbox devotee.  So…they all geeked out together, which made my geek pretty happy.

Flash forward to Comic-Con at the Tweethouse event.  “Heyyyy Richard!”

“He totally recognized me.  I didn’t think he would.”  (this is him) And apparently, they started geeking out about Xbox stuff all over again.

They’ve been friends on Xbox Live since their first meeting, but I think it’s safe to say that “Geordi” is now a little bit of a fan…of both Xbox and my husband.

The New Center of Our Universe: Halo Reach Console.

In gaming, interior decorating, Major Nelson, Product, relationship, travel on July 22, 2010 at 11:13 pm

I’ll admit it:  I know nothing about Halo Reach except that I think the commercials are really, really cool and that Richard is geeking out over the new limited edition console (which he worked on).

He brought it home the other day to do a test before a work trip/thing-or-other, left a flurry of packaging on the living room floor in his excitement to install it quickly and said…

(wait for it)

“This will now be the center of our universe.” (this is him)

I’m totally serious.  I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean, so I asked.

“All you need to know is that it matches the t-v.” (this is him.)

He is referring to my preference for keeping entertainment devices and their accessories in a certain color scheme, because the massive 64″ television dominating our living room is silver.   (See June 2010 posting: What’s in the Black Case?)

I ask you women:  Is this so wrong?

Some time passes, and I ask more questions.

“What makes the new Halo console different?”  (this is me)

“The sounds it makes are from Halo.”  (him)

“Oh.”  (me, still a little bewildered by the gravity of his excitement)

Postscript:  In the opening hours of Comic-Con 2010, Major Nelson used Richard’s console to film his Xbox Live report on the new product. Richard thought that was kind of cool.  I’ll admit, I thought so too.