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Streaming Games, Lifting Weights
This has certainly been a week for your boy Ed. Lots of calls, lots of stuff to do, mostly because it’s obvious everyone’s turning into a pumpkin tomorrow. Which is fine with me, I’ll still be out there emailing people stuff like “please help me my client wants to talk to you” and “wow, the end of the year already!” to a person who will not so much as read my email. But that’s the fun of it.
The really annoying thing I’m facing is that my bike ride yesterday showed that my cardiovascular system is definitely hit by COVID. A 167 heartrate average for 45 minutes left my body feeling like I got hit by a bus for the rest of the day. Not great. I have a long road ahead of me.
Stadia and GeForce Now
Because I do not experience a moment of calm or normality, I’ve dug into the world of streaming gaming, primarily GeForce Now and Google Stadia. I’m not going to try Amazon’s Luna or anything else because I only have so many hours in the day, so sit down.
Anyway, the first thing to add is that it’s amazing that this exists at all. You are able to stream games to your phone and play them, and they actually work. How well they work depends on your internet connection, and whether you’re willing to mess with it until it looks good. Which is…highly dependent on what device you’re using it on.
For now, the only way to use them on iOS is to use a web browser, but I’ll be honest that I don’t think it affected performance at all. You have to pay either $25 for GeForce Now’s Founders Subscription, or $10 a month for Stadia Pro, which is the only way to get resolution higher than 1080p.
Let me stop there: Stadia is absolutely not worth it considering GeForce Now exists. It stinks for the price. It is an insufficient product for what it claims to be, and the performance is the same as GeForce Now (at least on iOS). Why? Because on Stadia you have to pay for each game. You can’t connect your current games. If you want to play Cyberpunk 2077 on Stadia, you have to pay them $60, and there is no way to check your performance. They claim it can do 4K and 60FPS streaming for their $10/month service, but on a wired fiber connection I have not been able to even get 1440p. Then again it may be because tons of games don’t support it. Stinky!
So, I’d recommend GeForce Now, which is really good at $4.16 a month or whatever. You can connect your Steam account and access the games you’ve actually paid for, and the performance on PC/in a browser is fine. If I was on vacation and playing it on my laptop, I’d be happy, though I would clearly be able to tell I wasn’t on my gaming rig. That being said, if you’ve not got a gaming rig, this may be a better experience for you.
On mobile, it’s pretty fuckin’ great. You access GeForce Now through a browser, and you connect a controller (like the Backbone, see below), and it just…works. It’s really good. This is probably because a smaller screen crushes all the pixels together or whatever, but it works so, so well. Better than Steamlink on iOS. Once again the Backbone is magic, and all of this feels magical.
Apparently you also have a queue thing with GeForce Now - I haven’t been kicked yet, nor have I had any issues with not being able to connect. Apparently there’s a free version with a time limit, which I have not experienced and your mileage may vary. But I am super impressed with how well it’s worked and as I have said before, I think cloud gaming is really exciting specifically for single player games. I do not think you will be playing multiplayer games on it anytime soon barring some sort of technological breakthrough. But I really do think if you want to play your PC games on mobile and don’t have a wired connection to your PC that you should give it a go.
Because I’m a big freak that loves to do stuff, and because I desperately need guidance, I have decided to invest in a Tonal. It’s basically a big screen with adjustable arms that have magnetic resistance up to 100lb a piece, with classes like Peloton, but also guided exercises.
The crucial thing I like about it is that it automatically sets the weights for you based on your progression, and the attachments are super easy and quick to pull off. My coordination disability (dyspraxia) means that any level of fiddling I have to do to do something makes that something more and more mentally taxing on me, so constantly moving around attachments and adding weights is annoying.
What really gets me about consistently lifting is having the ability to monitor my progress and change things up, and also monitor what I’m doing. I forget if I’ve done reps. I don’t know if I’m getting stronger other than the ability to lift more weights. I forget what I’m doing because I’m stupid, and I need a coach. So I got the Tonal 0% interest thing because I honestly know I’ll use it.
What’s exciting about it - other than the fact I won’t have to futz with those clicky attachment things that always slice my fingers, and I won’t have to mess with weights - is that you can either do classes or set up a routine on your phone, then kick it on over to the Tonal and it’ll queue it all up for you, guiding you through each routine.
They have full routines (2x a week, 4x a week, for two weeks or four weeks, etc.) that have different exercises, but it’s huge to me to have the ability to just say “okay, I want to do something today but I only have 15 minutes, I’ll knock through a series of lifts so I don’t feel like such a piece of shit.” I’m excited to do the classes.
It also has a crazy series of features about how the actual lifts work. Because it’s magnetized, they have different ways in which the weight is applied. The most obvious one is that the routines in a class can disengage the weights when you’re changing attachments, but there’re also really specific features for free lifting, like the spotter mode that reduces weights when you’re struggling to complete a rep, eccentric mode (adding resistance to the negative portion of the movement so you get more burn, apparently), and “chains” which sounds weird, but it gets heavier as you pull or push the motion.
I will add that if you’re reading this and worrying I have wasted money on it, and that I would never follow a guided exercise routine, I have 784 rides on Peloton and done a grand total of 6 of them live. I love guided exercise. I am bender, please insert girder. I used to believe it was 100% the gamified nature of Peloton that got me onto it (it still is a large part), but it’s also the fact that I don’t really have to do anything other than get on the bike to get a good workout. I just follow what the person says. I also have a coach that chooses rides for me, but that’s because I cycle a lot and have really specific goals. I only want to use Tonal to look like this:
But seriously, I don’t have an issue with motivation insomuch as I have an issue with guidance. If I get on the bike I know what I’m doing. When I go lift, I sort of know what I’m doing, but I don’t know if I’m getting stronger, and the routine I did for a few months got stale. It’s also depressing to admit how much anxiety/frustration I get imagining having to move around the bar and put on weights and log my reps and log my workout and all that. It's a lot. I’m lucky I can afford a Tonal, and I think I’m gonna really like it when it arrives in 400 years (it’s backordered).
I am also excited because I really enjoy seeing progress in a way that I can actually look at and appreciate. It also monitors and corrects your form, which I definitely need, but crucially it shows you over time how much you’ve done, how you’re improving, and sets your weights for you, which means I don’t have to think about it, I just have to lift. Which is going to be huge for me. Especially as I plan to rip off my shirt revealing my rippling muscles at CES 2022, horrifying my colleagues.
Anyway, hope you’re all having a great Thursday!