Turntable.fm’s live music rooms are great for inflicting our questionable choices in music on others, with one major catch: everyone has to be in a virtual room at the same time. The company’s new Piki social music app for iOS won’t let those friends (or soon to be ex-friends) get away so easily. Rather than rely on the professional recommendations of a radio provider like Pandora, the service automatically generates a stream of music based on the collective selections of those you follow. Piki will also auto-recommend friends based on personal selections, and everyone can message each other or tag tunes with reactions — we’d be careful about revealing that love of polka dubstep to the world. While copyright licenses prevent Piki from offering friend-specific streams, or listening outside of the US, we won’t complain too much when the service is free and will get an Android port. Our friends’ ears, however, won’t be so fortunate.
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Saturday morning, I joined three friends for a Circuit Training workout class. The odd part was that none of them left their homes and we live thousands of miles away from one another—in Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, North Carolina and Louisiana. Our trainer was in California.
For the past week, I’ve been working out using Wello, a website that lets people turn on their computer webcams to take one-on-one, trainer-led exercise classes. Tuesday, Wello launched Group Workouts, which involve up to five participants plus a trainer. They cost as little as $ 10 an hour versus solo sessions that start at $ 35 for an hour. This week, all users get their first group class free. I tested three hour-long group classes ($ 15 each), as well as a 30-minute solo class ($ 29) to get a handle on how the site works.
The thought of seeing friends during workouts and not having to leave home motivated me to use Wello. I could imagine using it as a way to stay in touch with people who live far away, sort of like an activity-based Skype. And unlike using a stale workout DVD, Wello’s live trainers watched each move I made and offered feedback. A pregnant friend in my class even got specific modifications for her condition. (Before using Wello, users are encouraged to fill out a health form. This lets people notify trainers of injuries or specific conditions like pregnancy.)
The default view for a Wello class puts the trainer in the largest screen and class participants in smaller ones.
But the Wello class is only as good as the technology it uses, and two of my classes experienced technical difficulties. In one class, the trainer froze half a dozen times, wasting about 10 minutes refreshing his set-up. (A Wello co-founder, Leslie Silverglide, explained that this trainer’s computer met only the minimum level processor accepted by Wello.) During the same workout, a friend could hear us but couldn’t see us for about 15 minutes. (It turned out she had two browser windows opened, with one showing us while the other hid us.) Another friend who was using the Internet Explorer browser could only be seen. (Wello asks users to read instructions beforehand, including a recommendation to use the Google Chrome browser.)
Despite some glitches, Wello is a solid product that I’ll certainly use again. I liked taking classes without signing up for an expensive yearlong gym membership. And it was easy to sort through the trainers on the site to find one who fit my needs.
Of the over 1,000 trainers who have applied to work for Wello, about 200 have been vetted and trained to work in the system as video trainers. Wello looks at experience, specialties, certifications, education, references and other qualifications, and then sorts trainers into three tiers by overall experience, certifications and experience on Wello.
All of the trainers I used fell into the “Tier 2″ category. Three were categorized as “fun and friendly” trainers, two fell into the “focused on form” category and one was labeled as an “all business” trainer. A “Celebrity Trainer” category is also available; this means trainers are well-known fitness experts and have experience training celebrities.
A page for a class combining kickboxing and high-intensity interval training.
You can sort classes by skill level (beginner, intermediate or advanced) and by trainer specialty (like brides-to-be, postnatal, exercise novices or elite athletes). You can also enter a goal to search for a class, such as “get stronger, lose weight or get Zen.”
Wello’s Ms. Silverglide says the company doesn’t mind if two or more people share a webcam for a class as long as they notify the trainer ahead of time. But this isn’t encouraged as it’s harder for the trainer to see two people at once and to give feedback. I tested this by dragging my husband into a Core Conditioning class. It worked, though we were a little squeezed in some exercises and our trainer couldn’t always see us clearly when she tried to check our form.
Like an aerobics class at the gym, Wello’s Group Workouts could be filled with strangers, as was the case for two of my classes, though I didn’t mind. If only two people sign up for a group class, the class will be canceled 12 hours beforehand. Twenty-four hours before the class, Wello will send an email, encouraging you to invite friends; it will put the class on its home page and will send out targeted emails to Wello users to get others to sign up. Wello offers discounted one-on-one workouts to make up for cancellations. Users can always buy pre-paid bundles that cost less than pay-as-you-go workouts.
To check if your system will work with Wello, the site offers a quick diagnostic test to check your computer’s processor and Internet connection; on some of my computers I had to download a small plugin file before getting started.
After users sign into the Wello website, a handy dashboard displays their upcoming and past workouts. If users opt to “follow” favorite trainers, they’ll see a stream of activity from those trainers on the right-hand side of this dashboard screen.
Wello’s screen layout was a bit squeezed on my 13-inch laptop, but looked better on two larger iMac screens. The default layout puts the trainer in the largest viewing screen, making you and other class participants smaller. I wished I could see the trainer in full-screen view; Wello’s Ms. Silverglide said this option is something that may be incorporated in the next month. The company also is working on an iPad app.
In one of my group classes, called Morning Meditation Flow, the trainer played music, which set the tone and gave the class an added ambiance. Wello has been experimenting with music and hopes to integrate it into the video platform; for now, trainers can play music on their phones.
When classes went smoothly, the setup worked well. When they didn’t, my classmates and I wanted a way to use text chatting to talk to the trainer—or the ability to raise a virtual hand.
For people who hesitate to exercise, Wello wipes out their excuses by helping them work out with friends and trainers who they like. Just be sure you have ibuprofen on hand for aching muscles; these classes are addicting.
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When it comes to politics, everyone is an expert. And thinking you’re an expert is the first sign of being an idiot. But is that gonna stop every Tom, Dick and dipshit on your friends list from taking to their Facebook wall and voicing their opinion? It is not. People LOVE political rambling. I know a friend who takes every opportunity he gets to ramble about his political views, and I take every opportunity I get to never hang out with him. One time I ran into him at the bar and I straight up pretended I didn’t know who he was even though we lived together for two years. I’m here to get drunk and eat wings, STFU! Unpolitic.me (links to download page) is a Google Chrome extension that removes political content from your Facebook and Twitter feeds and replaces it with cat pictures. Because who doesn’t like cat pictures? Those dirty ultra-conservatives, that’s who!
Thanks to cancan, who agrees a Facebook soapbox is just about the shittiest soapbox you could stand on. Nobody cares and I’ll probably unfriend you.
Razer has been big on Star Wars gaming gear, but never quite like this. Enter a free contest and there’s a chance to win a completely unique Star Wars: The Old Republic version of Razer’s Blade gaming laptop. The winner sees the system’s normally black shell replaced with a matte, laser-etched aluminum gray and the green backlighting dropped in favor of a subtler yellow matched to the MMORPG logo. Anyone who brings out this portable at a bring-your-own-computer gaming party is inevitably going to be the center of attention, although we have a feeling some would almost prefer the second-place bundle of peripherals — at an estimated worth of $ 15,000, the Star Wars Blade might be too precious to carry for all but the most well-heeled of fans.
This video was uploaded from an Android phone.Related Posts:
Many photographers will tell you that their least favorite shooting situation involves a portrait with the sun to the subject’s back: there’s a good chance the shot ends up an unintentional silhouette study unless the shooter meters just perfectly from that grinning face. Apple has just been granted a patent for the metering technique that takes all the guesswork out of those human-focused shots on an iOS 5 device like the iPhone 4S or new iPad. As it’s designed, the invention finds faces in the scene and adjusts the camera exposure to keep them all well-lit, even if they’re fidgety enough to move at the last second. Group shots are just as much of a breeze, with the software using head proximity and other factors to pick either a main face as the metering target (such as a person standing in front of a crowd) or an average if there’s enough people posing for a close-up. You can explore the full details at the source. Camera-toting rivals, however, will have to explore alternative ideas.
Question by thanks: Is there a Words with Friends type game for Windows Phone 7 and Iphone? I have Windows Phone 7 and want to play Scrabble/WWF type game against someone with an Iphone. Is there a word game compatible with both?
Answer by Becci HendrixThere are (at this time) three scrabble type games on Windows Phone 7. Alpha Jax and Spell It for WP7. Words by Post (free) will work on WP7, iPhone and Android.
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Question by : How can i get my kinect for xbox360 to work on my computer so i can skype with my friends? I have tried to set it up on my computer so i could use it for a video source but it says i have to put some kind of cd in my computer… what is is talking about?
Answer by Marc PrevostAlthough some hackers have made some open source drivers for the Kinect so it could be used on a PC and have been using it to make applications for the 3d camera. Nobody has made a simple driver for it so it can easily be used as a webcam for your PC.
Since it’s only has a 640 x 480 RBG camera, it’s not really anything to get excited about. You can buy one of those for a few dollars these days.
Microsoft has not made a skype application for the dashboard yet, I guess they couldn’t reach an agreement with Skype for it. So you will just have to wait.
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A mobile Facebook feature called Find Friends Nearby, previously code-named Friendshake, is coming out of development and will soon be on its way to your iOS or Android phone. Perhaps springing from the social network‘s acquisition of ambient social app Glancee, it’s still fairly primitive, merely navigating to a browser page on your device, where it will show you a list of other users within a given, undisclosed radius. Presumably, the benefit is to let you quickly add someone in your purview like Find my Friends, although we’re interested to see what privacy settings are on offer. You never know, Mr. Zuckerberg could be tempting the privacy gods — and governments — once again.
Question by Joyce T: Where can I find non-random friends to exercise with on Xbox Kinect? Is there a forum where you can find people who want to do Reflex Ridge every day sometime between 7-9 am EST? When I try random people, half of them drop out when you want to do actual exercise.
Answer by Milk84Try posting a thread over in the Kinect Adventures section on xbox.com
Maybe others will want to join you.
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