Archive for the 'Life & Leisure' Category

In pursuit of ‘perfect’ shape

Thursday, February 4th, 2010 February 4th, 2010 Priyanka JoshiPriyanka Joshi

The Nintendo Wii game Your Shape lets you see yourself working out onscreen beside an anatomically perfect virtual trainer.

It’s very easy to set up. It gets you moving. It has hundreds of moves available.

What is it?

It’s a game – a console game that I play on my Nintendo Wii. Your shape is a game featuring Jenny McCarthy (famous from Weight Watchers) containing nearly 400 exercise routines. Launched late last year, Your Shape comes with a Ubisoft (the game developers) camera that you mount on top of a TV, very similar to a webcam. After feeding in my details like age, gender, height and weight, the camera scans my body in two different positions.

What happens next is the part that I love. Within the TV screen is a picture-in-picture projection of my living room (or something that resembles my apartment) that helps serve as a mirror so I can watch myself exercise. I have to make sure that I stand closer to the camera, of course. Beside me, McCarthy’s anatomically perfect body moves as fluidly as any live trainer. She can sense when my body movements aren’t in sync with hers, and she quickly offers tutorials to teach me.

While I have the freedom to set my goal for the game - such as weight loss, and thereby get the recommended workouts, time for workouts, and how many days a week to do them, what I don’t like is McCarthy’s digital avatar correcting me to “refocus on the hands” or worse chides me by saying “you are doing it wrong” when I am honestly sweating and puffing from all that physical trauma. There are many of the cardio and warm up exercises that will kill your shoulders , but McCarthy demands you do perfectly else she will fail you at the end of the game!

Before I launch the exercise routine, I am required to tell McCarthy (my trainer) how motivated I am feeling at the beginning of each workout, and this determines how challenging the workout will be. My answer is usually “Tired” or “Sleepy” yet I am yet to end a routine on a high note. I have already abandoned the exercise routine thrice out of the total 4 attempts.

Sometimes McCarthy’s digitally manufactured voice can be very jarring. Like when her anatomical avatar on my TV screen tells me that to “straighten my back and bend more,” I find myself glaring at the TV and mouthing words that I can’t really write here.

I have to admit that this exercise programme must be working because it really makes me break into a sweat whenever I hear McCarthy telling me to “straighten up.” In fact, a 15 minute workout with this digital exercise routine burns about 200 calories, or so I am told. Bottomline: if you don’t want to watch yourself work out and escape McCarthy’s reproachful voice then you may want to head to a gym nearby but if you love the idea of getting rid of the Wii controller (like in the Tennis games), then Your Shape is can get you that perfect shape (provided you please the digital trainer!).

Indifferent Premier League

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009 April 21st, 2009 Aabhas Sharma

Being a sports freak has a lot of drawbacks. People tend to take you for granted as far as watching sports is concerned. And the magnitude of it hits you the most when the Indian Premier League (IPL) is on.

It’s assumed that you must be glued to your telly watching each and every ball of “the biggest sporting extravaganza”. So conversations with friends revolve around how weak the bowling attack of Rajasthan Royals is and you are expected to pitch in with your views on it.

Relatives will give - and seek your - expert opinion on what a brilliant innings Sehwag played, when the fact is you were busy watching re-runs of Friends (yes I did that a lot during the first season of IPL).

Personally, cricket in its Maggi noodles avatar is something which I am not too bothered about.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think of myself as a snob as far as cricket watching is concerned. I enjoy the occasional drama and edge of the seat stuff that T20 guarantees.

But give me a two-hour session of test cricket where 40 runs are scored but the players are fighting tooth and nail, over a three-hour slam bang cricket where the idea seems to be who can hit the ball longest out of the ground.

Of course, I can understand why the IPL remains such a huge draw. It’s fast paced, requires very little of your time (as compared to test matches or even ODIs), and most importantly for the paisa vasool audience, it’s all about having fun.

I may be an extremist but for me one of the biggest reasons of watching in any sport is to actually care about a particular team winning or losing. In the IPL, I find that majority of the time that goes out of the window.

‘Fans’ of IPL are content with enjoying the action and are somewhat indifferent towards the end result. It doesn’t matter too much if their team lost the match as long as they were guaranteed some action packed moments, something which is a staple ingredient of most IPL matches.

How can you expect enjoy any sport, where winning or losing is secondary and entertainment is primary. At least, I can’t.

As I said at the beginning of the post, being a sports fanatic has many drawbacks. And one of them is that you end up taking sports a bit more (in fact, a lot more) seriously than the rest. Fun and games are good, but sports is a serious business, at least for hardcore sports buffs. And when indifference creeps in, like in the case of IPL, it sadly fails to cut the ice.

Nokia to make netbooks!

Thursday, March 5th, 2009 March 5th, 2009 Priyanka JoshiPriyanka Joshi

nokia-n97-smartphone.jpg

Nokia has dropped broad hints of its intentions to enter the netbook market. Nokia’s big boss, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo in an interview with a Finnish TV admitted “we are looking very actively at this opportunity.”

What began as rumours last year has fuelled itself into a full-blown opportunity for Nokia.  The company executives do not want to miss out on a product category that is thriving and which could be a good platform for boosting uptake of its web services (that are to be launched in May-June this year). This backs up Kallasvuo’s statements made at Barcelona last month that Nokia would expand the definition of the smartphone “into categories and form factors that have not yet been explored”. But the use of an ARM-based chip will hugely disappoint Intel.

Intel’s Atom processors gave birth to the idea of netbooks by leveraging its powerful position in the PC industry. Today, the chip giant has ensured that its mobile processors remain dominant in netbooks category, even as it got tougher to break into the conventional smartphone world. Intel is investing through recession – which executives insisted would be the pattern for 2009 too– in order to emerge from the downturn with the most advanced products in key growth areas. With operators relying on mobile data for their own survival plans, netbooks with embedded 3G, Wi-Fi and/or WiMAX should certainly represent one of those growth areas, and Atom is already driving volumes at Intel, even if it is squeezing margins.

Nokia, the Finnish giant, is reportedly working on a cut-down, mobile web-optimized PC, based on the recently announced ARM multicore Sparrow processor and incorporating elements of the existing N800 internet tablet, including its Maemo-based Linux software platform.

We won’t see a Nokia netbook until early 2011, and most probably missing the first boat for netbooks. But trust Nokia to try to outdo the traditional PC makers in terms of form factor and mobility, playing to its strengths and building on the N800 experience to create a new approach, as well as capitalizing on its vast scale and logistical excellence.

According to various leaked features (found easily on the internet) of the supposed prototype, nicknamed Nokia Sparrow, include a multi-slide keyboard with different layouts, automatically revealed as the device is moved in different directions; and a multidirectional display, similar to the tilting display of the N97 smartphone.

Dip dip dip…

Saturday, February 21st, 2009 February 21st, 2009 Priyanka JoshiPriyanka Joshi


Mobile_Phone_dropped_in_water.jpg

We cannot imagine a day without our phones, right? We have observed that there is whole lot of mayhem when you drop your mobile (or better termed as your life line) into water. (Guess, it’s no big secret that we all take our phones to wash rooms, during work hours at least).  So, here are some useful tricks to help you bring back a ‘wet’ mobile phone to normalcy.

It works…I dropped a Nokia N81 in a water tub to prove my point (I know I’m mad). And it is in working condition as I write this post.

Disclaimer: Please don’t perform these stunts by your own unless you have a spare phone or a genuine wet phone. (more…)

YouTube game videos become channel for game marketers

Monday, December 22nd, 2008 December 22nd, 2008 Priyanka JoshiPriyanka Joshi

YouTube_logo_4.jpg

In June this year, Electronic Arts launched Spore Creature Creator, a $10 version of its Spore game. Then, from within the application, players could share videos of their creations by clicking a button and uploading to YouTube. The idea was to get buzz going about the game before its September launch. To date, more than 160,000 videos of Spore creatures have been uploaded. The most popular of these videos has been viewed 194,000 times. EA ran a contest on YouTube, including a link to buy the game online on the contest site. This is the latest way, YouTube helps monetise your videos directly. (more…)