DDR and Losing weight

Yesterday I read an article about a school in West Virginia using DDR to help obesity amongst students. It is still to early for me to know if DDR has made an impact on my weight or not since I have only been doing it for about a month but I sure hope so. I have been doing it almost every weekday; I say I do it about 4 days a week consistently.

DDR for those of you not in the know stand for (Dance Dance Revolution). It is a game made by Konami that is played on mats that have directional arrows for top, bottom, left and right. You can find various versions of the game for the home console and at the arcades. I have to admit that it is a little easier to do it at home than publicly humiliate yourself while trying to learn how to do it. There is a learning curve that while not too steep it is there.
I have started to move up to the light mode (there are 5 modes, beginner, light, standard, heavy and challenge.) on some songs, but the higher modes still seem almost humanly impossible to me.

Reading the article and having a conversation with a coworker we tried to think if kids now a days play as much as we did outside. Right now the excuse is winter time in our area and the temperatures are kind of hard to predict. I did not grow up around cold weather like this, but he said he used to spend tons of time outside even during the winter. I used to spend as much time as I was allowed outside playing soccer and just hanging out with friends. Video game playing was there, but not as much as it is now. It seems like videogames are not just another toy but the main toy for a lot of kids.

DDR is not the solution to the problem, but it is a step in the right direction. I think that physical activity is necessary for our kids, and while going outside and playing should be the goal having the chance to exercise at home is not bad. I will keep doing DDR and let you know how good it works; so far it has been very motivating.

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Reading this post might lead to addiction

I am a huge fan of puzzles and riddles. I have always loved solving them since I was a little kid. I also love playing chess and other mind games. It is like pumping iron with your brain. One of the arcades I used to frequent had a logo that was a muscle bulging arm with a brain for a bicep. I always thought it was cool and that image comes to mind when I think of exercising my mind.

Enter Sudoku an addition that I have been able to keep at bay because if I don’t it will consume the rest of my non-existent free time. It is a math puzzle of sorts that has exceptional addiction qualities. It is simple, it requires thinking and it is must of all fun. I just got a kids starter book for Ty and I hope that he enjoys it. You can play online, but be careful; it can be the beginning of a new addiction.

Geek Tech

I am not sure why, but besides a couple of post on phishing and password security I have never really gotten into posting technology related stuff. However, I like this product that is about to come out quite a bit.

It’s the new Optimus keyboard, a fully programmable keyboard that has many applications. It will be awesome for gaming, but also Photoshop or any other programs that use shortcut keys. I can finally program Spanish letters to the keyboard, so that I don’t have to type 4 keystrokes just to get a ñ. The language applications are very impressive, just think of what it could mean to a language major or a translator. I think it will also really help people that use multiple software packages and do not memorize the keyboard layout for shortcuts. Let me know if you think is cool or not.

Yes I am a gamer

I might not be addicted to watching sports like most males of my age group might be… but I do admit that I am addicted to playing videogames. I am not sure how much it really affects my maturity level or not but I am willing to hear some opinions.

Videogames have been part of my life since I was very young. I still remember the first time my Dad took me to an arcade when I was probably 7 or 8 and I played an arcade version of Dig Dug. That day my addiction to computers had begun. I had no clue what made a TV respond to a joystick but all I knew is that it was just the coolest thing I had ever seen. I don’t think my Dad would have ever imagined that he was starting me in a path to what one day would become my career as a programmer.

During my childhood I would go to the arcade as often as I could. As far as home systems I received an Atari 2600 for Christmas when I was around 10, but did not have another home system until I was 17 and I had my own job. I did play Nintendo and Sega at my friends’ houses. Also in Colombia you can find little “game centers” where a bunch of TV’s are set up with home consoles. I have actually seen these places pop up now with Xbox gaming centers, but for the longest time you only saw consoles at home.

I actually saw the first computer games back in Colombia. I played Tetris and Prince of Persia at one of my friend’s house on a computer. I did not actually get my own computer until I started College. That computer was still in use by my sister until last year when she finally got a new one. I did not do too much gaming on that computer, but the next two which I still have at home were both gaming oriented machines.

I have had a lot of consoles after college; regretfully I never really had a chance to take advantage of them to the point that it almost feels like a waste of money. Most of the consoles that I have owned have been recycled by selling back old systems and getting new. I was also lucky to get in on package deals from people getting rid of their collections for next to nothing. I have played plenty of computer games lately and I feel like it is money well spent. Also my gaming computer performs other tasks that make it a good investment.

You can see how much I love videogames, but I feel that my addiction is not a problem for the following reasons. If it were to interfere with my personal life I would drop it. I would not choose to play games instead of going out and bowling, or watching a movie. However I do enjoy playing videogames. I like playing videogames not because I am good at it; I play for the fun of it. Even though I am above average at a couple of games.

I think having an addiction to videogames is better than say a controlled substance. I don’t think that you can really hurt anyone but yourself playing videogames. While I do not advocate the complete addiction to them, I do think that it is not a bad one. I put it in the same level with the addiction that some guys have to professional sports. Where they are so dedicated that they will drop everything to watch a game. I love watching sports, but in the grand scheme of importance, the only thing that even keeps it on the list is that it can be a social activity.

Videogames now, with the introduction of multiplayer games has become a social activity also. Not just online communities but gamer communities in real life (IRL). LAN Parties bring people together that have a common interest and starts to erase the antisocial stereotype of gamers. I think the word gamer still has a negative stigma in a lot of people’s eyes, but I think that as time goes by more and more people will see that almost anyone can be a gamer. There should be no stereotype attached to the activity.

Cyber Monday

Today is known as Cyber Monday. Today is the Monday following Black Friday. Black Friday, for those who do not wake up early to take advantage of the sales in the various retailers around the country, is the day where a company can go from the red to the black on their books; in other words, they can start making a profit. Since the Internet begun to gain popularity it also started to sell stuff. I even wrote an article about how online sales vs. brick and mortar retailers might compete. And now we have Cyber Monday, the day when online retailers start their holiday shopping season.

I have purchased holiday gifts online before. Mostly from Amazon, which is one of my favorite online retailers. This post however is going to be about security, and what you should watch out for online when making your purchases. I believe it is a good thing to remind everyone to be careful when using a credit card online. Before we start that though, I would like to let you guys know about a couple of places that I buy stuff from so you can get in on the deals.

One of my favorite online retailers for all things electronics. They have awesome prices on computer parts, as well as systems already put together. If you have a techie on your shopping list do visit them. They have the best shipping record in my book. When I build my latest computer, I purchased 90% of the parts inside of it from Newegg and I got everything in 3 days.

Amazon Toy Store
Yes you heard right, Amazon.com is the place for toys. I have purchased several educational toys for my niece there. The cool part about it is that there are very good reviews of the products from customers. Hearing from parents about how a Toy worked or did not from personal experience is worth a lot more than my opinion on how a toy looks.

Amazon DVD
Everyone loves a DVD. From your in-laws to your friends. You cannot go wrong with a DVD. It could be a bestseller or simply a new release, but if you know something about that person you will be able to buy a DVD for them. The only legwork is to check out their DVD collection and see what they have already.

Also don’t forget people’s wish lists. A lot of people know a days have an Amazon wishlist, go and make one of their wishes come true. It is really easy to find people, you just have to know their e-mail and voila.

Ok, so those are my store recommendations to make your life a little easier… but what I really want you to be on the watch for this online shopping season is security. The phishing attacks are on the rise along with viruses. Please be very careful about opening your e-mail. Anything with an attachment that you do not expect, don’t open. Check with the person first before you launch even what might be the cutest or funniest joke. Never put personal information on a site that has solicited it via e-mail. I am 99% sure that your bank, online retailer or even ebay will never ask you to change your password or send them your Credit Card or Social Security information. Please be careful.

Also, watch for 2 little clues when shopping online. Before you enter your Credit Card information into any online form you should see 2 things. 1st the URL http thingie should have an S at the end of it. HTTPS means that you are now securely connected to that website. The second clue should be a little padlock at the bottom right hand side of your browser. Always do that double check before you enter your CC on any retailers website. If those two are not present don’t enter it. Also if you get a link from an e-mail that you did not solicit, be careful and just go to the main site, instead of following the link. Just this week I got an email from “ebay” and they had mimicked the site to almost perfection. But of course it was only a phishing attack. Don’t be too scared, just be careful and have fun shopping online.