I’m still here :)

Just wanted to quickly post that I’m still around the place!

Sorry for the lack of new content over the past week, things have been a little crazy around here, especially with work (I have a project looming with a definite end date of June 30, so it’s required extra hours on top of my usual commitments in order to meet the deadline), to the point where I haven’t been able to make it to class for a few weeks, though I’ve still managed to squeeze in some training at home, working on my basic forms and kata as I’m still aiming to be able to attend the next grading.

Anywho, give me a week or so, and I’m sure I’ll be back to my usual blogging routine by then πŸ™‚ In the meantime, feel free to drop by any of the excellent blogs and resources I’ve listed on the right-hand side of this page, I know I’ll be looking forward to catching up on them myself once I’ve got things straightened out!

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Wii Fit and amputees – first impressions!

Akin to what I was nerding about in my earlier post, below is my awesome review/first impressions of Wii Fit!

Balancing act 1

For those unaware what Wii Fit is, check out the Wikipedia entry – it’ll make more sense than my crazy ramblings in trying to describe it. Probably more informative too πŸ™‚ To quickly summarise to add some context though, Wii Fit is a game on the Nintendo Wii (aka Nintendo’s money-printing machine) that aims to have you do daily exercises instructed on-screen by standing on a board that wirelessly communicates with the Wii console. Fancy and ingenious piece of kit, much like the Wii in general to be honest. Wifey and I don’t have a Wii ourselves, but we recently caught up with my brother and his family and they’ve got one, so it proved the perfect opportunity to demonstrate my extreme awesomeness. It also gave me the opportunity to give an amputee’s view on how it works.

After doing my initial data entry to get the ball rolling, it appeared there were going to be some skewed results in one of the main tests you go through when you start up your session on Wii Fit, as there are all sorts of balance tests. It tests and works your center of balance, and how you hold your balance according to your right/left side of the body. Not surprisingly, it confirmed my feeling that my center of balance is slightly behind me, and a little to the right in lieu of having one leg. Things really got interesting when it got me to do the one-legged balancing tests though!

Now, this was all well and good on my right leg, given I have one! But what to do when the tests come up for the left leg?

Simple, cheat and use your right leg, but ensure you look like a doofus while doing so:

Balancing act 2

Balancing act 5

As you can see from the results in the image below, it took a little bit to adjust to the balance board!! Those squiggles indicate my shift in balance over the course of time it tracked me standing on each side… ideally there should be very little variation πŸ˜›

Balancing act - the results!

πŸ™‚

And from here, things kept getting better – the trainer decided to offer his evaluation on the situation following my results:

WTF?

lol!

You know, because I totally have a left leg πŸ˜‰ By the time I got to the second leg I reckon I had gotten the hang a little better in using the balance board, hence the result (remember that I used my right leg when doing the tests for the left leg!). Still, gotta love some canned advice from a computer program πŸ™‚

Once the tests and BMI, etc, were all finished (for those interested, my first Wii Fit age was 11 years older than me; when I gave it a crack a few days later, I managed to bring it down to only 2 years older than my actual age — hurrah!), I thought I’d have a quick go at some of the activities. I can’t remember off the top of my head which ones I did – I had a look at the yoga ones but passed, as it looked too tricky to work my way around them and find a solution given I was in a bit of a silly mood when playing the game. I gave the hooly-hoops a whirl, but that didn’t work that well either (was apparently funny to watch though ;)). I ended up settling on the muscle workouts, specifically the pushups one.

I mean, c’mon – I can do pushups, whether it be on my hands, knuckles, dive-bomber and with/without my leg on. So I figured I’d be right; turns out there was a twist with what was to come!

Now, before I get started, I’d like to share this cracker of a screenshot:

Stupid man

While I’m sure Nintendo means well, I think a “skip” button on these would be helpful since I notice he has all his limbs intact πŸ™‚

Anywho, so onto the pushup – aside from the trainer going infuriatingly slow, he then starts adding in these twists at the ends of each of his motions! Now, this is all well and good if you’re coordinated and have two legs – makes it tricky as an amputee though, as there’s no way to elegantly rotate your body without striking awesome/stupid poses for the people sharing the experience with you in the same room (Wifey was crying from laughing so much as I pulled the most ridiculous poses in trying to keep up with the instructions!):

Push-ups with a stupid twist

Now, with all this being said, you might think I’m being overly harsh with the game – I mean, did Nintendo deliberately go out of their way to alienate disabled people with this game? Of course not. And do I harbour I strong dislike of the game? Absolutely not – it was a blast to play, but it certainly represents a number of challenges to those of us missing a few key limbs to make the experience complete.

Playing the physical games like Wii Fit can be a lot of fun, but there’s also the issue that, when playing socially, it can be a bit alienating depending on how good you are with your prosthesis – I was in excellent company so I had a ball sharing my goofiness, but at the end of the day it makes it very hard to keep up with people who are generally more physically able than an amputee. It’s kind of like Dance Dance Revolution – several years back I used to really like playing it, but the most I could ever get to was… either Beginner or Easy/whatever it’s called – I just couldn’t keep up with enough consistency if the difficulty was any higher, which was a bummer, because I couldn’t physically move around fast enough due to the prosthesis.

But getting back to Wii Fit, I have a feeling there are probably a handful of tricks I could uncover to bridge the gap between amputees and able-bodied players, but in the short time I had playing it, there certainly wasn’t enough time to really dig in and uncover the possibilities and post up straight away to share. Wifey and I are looking at grabbing a Wii with Wii Fit some time later this year (not sure when at this stage, maybe closer to x-mas when there are usually some good bundles/packages available at retail), so I’ll be happy to share some strategies and possibly write up an FAQ then. I think the game has a lot of promise and reckon there’s potential tricks so that amputees can possibly keep up with able-bodied people to some degree, but I won’t know until I have the opportunity to give it as more extensive whirl.

Mind, I’d post my thoughts up sooner if Nintendo Australia is kind enough to gift a Wii and Wi Fit for my household πŸ™‚

… what, can’t blame a guy for trying, can you? πŸ˜€

If you want to check out more pics of me making an arse of myself, I’ve added a dedicated Wii Fit 2009 gallery under (funnily enough!) the ‘Gallery’ menu on the top nav bar; alternatively, you can also click here to access it. Huge thanks to Wifey for being a good sport and taking the photos, and to my brother and his family for treating us to some Wii Fit gamage that night πŸ˜€ We hada ball, and I can’t wait to catch up again to give it another go!!!

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Nerd moment – original TMNT toys have been re-released???

Spotted this at Target last week-ish:

Original TMNT toys are back???

All the way down to the packaging, it’s an exact replica of the original TMNT toys I used to love playing with when I was a kid!!! Truly crazy/nerdy stuff. I used to love TMNT (in fact, I still do – I’m so tragic :P), I wanted to get a picture of Raphael but I couldn’t find one. Ah well, the above should suffice πŸ™‚ I was also reading that apparently there’s a massive graphic novel compilation of the first x number of issues of the original comics on the way (500+ pages or something??), due out in a couple of months – I have the four coloured graphic novels of the original Eastman/Laird comics lying around the place, but the prospect of seeing more of the story and art sounds really, really awesome.

Aaaand, apparently the original TMNT movies and the new CG one are Blu-Ray box set bound some time this year. Probably a waste of moolah/HD capabilities, but I’ll totally pick them up. TMNT is so awesome.

Okay, I’ll end this nerd post here. Just thought I’d share the retro love πŸ™‚

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Oops, my knee’s busted again :P

Being the clever person I am, I was running around most of this afternoon in the office attending to stuff; when I came back to my desk towards the end of the day, I heard the familiar clickity-clack my knee makes when the spring’s munted… and sure enough, my hunch was right – I’ve mangled my prosthetic knee again πŸ˜›

This is an ongoing thing for me, but thankfully it’s not too difficult to fix, as the knee unit I have can get serviced locally. For those interested, I’m expecting something similar to this when I drop in next week to have it looked at:

I borked it

That’s a shot of one of the best mangled springs I’ve managed to accomplish over the years – on the right is what the great big spring inside my knee is supposed to look like; the right is what I’d managed to do. My technician’s normally just as amused as I am when it comes to checking out the damage done by my general use of my leg, so hopefully I’ll be able to take another happy snap to share next week, though this time it’ll be with a phone camera with a significantly higher resolution than my old VGA one from a few years back πŸ˜‰

The bummer is that I was planning on going to two classes next week, but with my leg munted, it’ll be a no-go – with the knee this buggered, it’s prone to locking up and causing me to randomly fall over more often than usual, which is dangerous in class. Instead, I’ll do some extra weight sessions with an emphasis on bench work next week, and I’m confident I’ll have everything all fixed up in time for class later on next week!

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Blog roundup (week ending 12 June, 2009)

It’s getting late and I have an early start tomorrow, but wanted to post at least something remotely worthwhile before I went to bed:

The Martial Explorer: Project Natal
Jesse over at The Martial Explorer has two posts (here and here) on Microsoft’s new Project Natal tech they demo’d at E3 last week-ish. Being a bit of a nerd, I didn’t really take much interest in it at first, but I’m now intrigued with the possibilities. Mind, the same promises of this kind of control were made with the Powerglove, Sega Activator (I bet nobody saw that reference coming!), EyeToy, EyeToy 2 and the Wii, so we’ll see how it goes. MA stuff could go quite well if the canned footage is anything to go by, and it’d be nice to see some more XNA love for indie developers and this kind of tech getting filtered onto XBLA or something. I guess time will tell!

Wim’s blog: Martial-intent, Maori-style
Wim’s got a great post on martial intent and its importance in training, with some great demonstrations of the precept in action. It’s gotten me to thinking that this might be something I have traditionally missed during previous sparring training, and will keep in mind as I continue my training. I’m sure I can find it somewhere, surely it’s lurking somewhere amongst my general placidity πŸ˜›

Oh yeah, and Wim’s giving away free stuff as part of promoting his mailing list. Click here for more details and to sign up if you’re interested! Free stuff is always good πŸ™‚

Black Belt Mama: Karate from an Outsider’s Perspective
I’ll keep this one bookmarked – BBM’s invited Lauren Balogh (of travel blog Get Fox’d) to give a guest post on the BBM blog. It is a brilliant piece on the nature of a martial arts as an art, and on karate in particular. The next time you get a funny or awkward look from a friend/colleague/family member/dude on the street when you tell them you do karate or martial arts, point them in this direction. Thanks to Lauren for posting her thoughts, and for BBM for giving her the stage to share it with the rest of us. You can read the post in full and leave comments here.

Oh, and Lauren gets extra points because she thinks Australia is awesome, even if she neglected to mention that I’m of course one of the contributors to this country’s inherent awesomeness.

Mind, I’m also prone to moments of delusion caused by illusions of personal grandeur. Keep this in mind when considering the previous comment about my personal level of importance and/or awesomeness in relation to this country πŸ˜€

Well, that should do it! I’m off to bed now, good night!

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