Monday, January 7, 2019

Monthly Progress Report For My Twitch Channel, FuzzyJCats, Nov 25 through Dec 24

Twitch Channel FuzzyJCats

During this month of streaming, I continued to work on improving the usual chatting and gaming at the same time, and not using filler words, though I noticed I constantly slip into using a lot of filler words as they help to fill dead air.

I was also trying to find out how we can tell if we're entertaining. Certainly watching your VoDs help you notice if you're articulate or not, if you move around too much such that you're off the facecam, but I still can't tell if my streams are entertaining.

However, I started having an inkling as to what's entertaining to viewers this month. Since the entertainment is in real-time, and people are chatting, like with everything, people find you very interesting if you ask about them and talk about their issues. This is try-hard but cbenni.com can let you review your logs so you can remember what your viewers say, so when they show up the next time, you can ask them about that specific thing. 

For instance, if they mention that they're starting a new job, you can ask them how work is coming along, if they like their new boss, coworkers, and so on and so forth.

So another try-hard method is after each stream, I have been more or less writing these topics to talk about when the viewer shows up next.

Again, this is very try-hard, but it can help not only make your chat more entertaining for specific viewers, but with these topics on hand, it will help reduce dead air.


Aside from the usual goal of chat and gaming ratio, working on dead air, and removing filler words while streaming, improvements to be made is to be more aware of my viewers so I can ask them about issues next stream. 

The How of Happiness Review

Apologies

Apologies for not posting very regularly over the holidays due to a lot of IRL issues. I should get back into the swing of things hopefully soon. Thanks for understanding!

The How of Happiness Review

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Re-visiting Self-Improvement as a Middle-Aged Adult (Monday Musings 71)

Happy Holidays everyone! Sorry for not posting last Monday as my friend was admitted into Hospice.

As I moved to a more healthy attitude towards streaming, with one of the major goals being to improve streaming, I looked up articles on how to be more entertaining. Strangely, it was hard to find actionable steps to follow. While also researching how to be a better streamer, there were articles about how to be successful in streaming, which tend to be having a set schedule and such. 

Upon internet search about more global definitions of how to achieve success, Dr. Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People came up time and time again. In college, I did all the exercises in the book, and it really helped me to be a better person, the person that I'd like to be back then. Yes, I even did those grid exercises and followed them to the letter.

I revisited the book as a now middle-aged adult, and my heart sank because I just didn't have the energy to do even the first thought exercise, which is envisioning yourself at your funeral, and what you'd like your loved ones to say about you.

At this point, because I'm so fatigued and tired, I thought, "I really don't care if all they said was that Alice loved video games". I then envisioned my friends looking into my casket (though I prefer to be cremated) with the Xbox One Elite controller in my hands, and Dark Souls Remastered as well as my other favorite video games and consoles surrounding me. Lastly, an effigy of Extreme Behemoth (my most hated boss of all time) being burned at the end of the funereal proceedings.

The next exercise made my heart sink even further as you're to write your mission statement. That was very overwhelming as there doesn't seem to be concrete guidelines that Covey offers, though he gave sample mission statements. However, I remember I wrote a mission statement back in college - if only I could find it!

Looking at the still unpacked boxes of books and various papers, my heart sank yet again, as my house is very disorganized. I thought if I could just organize things, I could find that mission statement, saving me the work of having to write it again.

Searching for books upon organization, the KonMarie system kept coming up, and reading the reviews of her book on Amazon, Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, made me laugh because a lot of the readers who followed her system had the same feelings as me. That we wished our homes would accidentally burn to the ground (of course, with no one getting hurt), so that we can start from square one. However, they noted that they achieved success following her system, so I bought the book.

It's a very amusing book, and made me laugh at Kondo's attempts, since age 5 years old, to hone in on methods that lead to permanent organization, as she noted the past traditional but flawed strategies of tidying inevitably descents into disorganization.

I feel that so far, her methods make a lot of sense and she delves very deeply into why her methods work, as opposed to past tidying "truisms". I'm 3/4 of the way through the book around the section of how to go about folding clothes. If I ever have the energy to organize using the KonMarie method, I'll certainly blog about it. Like with all structured programs, there are caveats to her book, such as her warning to not wear comfortable sweatpants as loungewear. 

This contradicts the whole tome of the book, as it's about finding what brings you joy. What brings me joy is to be able to come home in a neat, organized, beautiful space that's functional and has all my favorite things. I change into my comfie sweatpants and t-shirt (100% cotton that prevents welts and rash), rather than flouncy lingerie that invariably tends to be an unfortunate blend of silk and polyester that scratches and abrades the skin. Even if pure silk, the dry cleaning process causes massive hives.

At any rate, because of my tiredness, feeling that Covey's and KonMarie methods are out of reach, I decided to read Viktor Frankl's Man's Search For Meaning (Covey frequently alludes to his work), for the second time in my life. The first time again was when I was in college. I completely agree with everyone's views that you should read this book at least once in your life.

I appreciate Frankl's work because it doesn't take physical or immense mental energy. In fact Dr. Frankl mentions that you can't write your life's mission in one fell swoop. His analogy is that it's like watching the frames of a movie, you don't know what the movie is about until you watch the whole thing. In other words, you can find meaning right now without coming up with a life plan! 

What else is refreshing is that the meaning you find will change from situation to situation, moment to moment, and it's your unique and personal journey to find your own meaning. So, there's no tortured formula to follow.

Further, one thinks that given Dr. Frankl's will power, integrity and moral character, that you can only find meaning in extraordinary situations. Rather, he notes that you can find meaning in very simple things such as helping others, loving another person, experiencing beauty such as art, the outdoors and the like, and even hobbies such as video games, which still has the stigma of being considered frivolous time-wasters. I very much appreciate this very lack of elitism that Frankl espouses.

Indeed, we've come full circle, finding the meaning of streaming, which I strongly feel will not only prevent burn-out, but lead to joy. This is success in its own right. If you find streaming meaningful, you'll look forward to it, even when you're tired. Streaming for me is meaningful because of the personal connections I have with my wonderful community, truly remarkable people who helped me improve my life, challenge myself and grow.

Streaming condensed how I approached things in a very short time frame, over a few months. Every time I start a project, I tend to be overly gung-ho that leads to burn-out and quitting. Overly gung-ho in that I push myself to be "successful" in the artificial sense of the word such as having the magic 75 concurrent viewers to become Twitch partner. And doing as much as possible to achieve that type of "success".

I finally came to the realization of what streaming means to me after my friend was diagnosed with a grave illness, and woke up to reality. It was so easy to recognize that this artificial sense of success is bogus, misleading, and even hurtful. As a result, I was finally able to let go of these Twitch cultural expectations that are so highly in-grained in the field, "the dream is to stream" for a living is a meme.

Certainly, the holidays (and, for that matter, any day) are a wonderful time to explore meaning in your life.

TL/DR: Finding meaning will lead to success.

FuzzyJCats' Thoughts for the Stream

Collecting the quotes we discussed on stream at FuzzyJCats, starting with most recent.

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom".
-Marcel Proust

Abundance Mentality Step 2:
"If you count all your assets, you always show a profit".
-Robert Quillen

Abundance Mentality Step 1:
"To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don't need to be accepted by others. Accept yourself".
-Thich Nhat Hanh

"He who has a Why to live can bear any How".
-Nietzsche

"When you are content to simply be yourself
and don't compare or compete
everybody will respect you".
-Lao Tzu, Tao De Ting

The How of Happiness Review

Monday, December 10, 2018

AI Versus Environmental Interactivity in Gaming (Monday Musings 70)

Horizon: Zero Dawn's Thunderjaw
Both Breath of the Wild and Red Dead Redemption 2 have received universal critical acclaim, with environmental interactivity being one of the highlights, so it appears that a trend is for video games to emphasize physics.

One such example that my friend mentioned is that in Breath of the Wild, when you're in the lava area and drop a piece of raw meat, it falls to the floor cooked and then burnt. 

I was hoping, however, that developers will move more toward advanced enemy intelligence so that when you're fighting a trash mob or a boss, they respond to where you are and your attack patterns, so it actually feels like you're attacking a real monster.

For instance, even with my favorite game, Dark Souls, the bosses' attack patterns are very stylized, so even as you move behind the boss to whack it, he or she would attack in front, grasping at air, which is not realistic.

I think that's why I was so impressed with Horizon: Zero Dawn's machine design where they actually see what you're doing. I placed a trap, and the Watcher, noticing it, actually jumped over it. 

I was going to do the usual strategy of Dark Souls and attack the Thunderjaw behind him when he was shooting lasers at me when I was facing him. My thinking is that if I run behind him, he'd continue to shoot lasers in front of him, like the typical Dark Souls boss. However, since he saw me make a mad dash behind him,  he stomped me with his hind legs, turned around to face me, and started shooting his lasers at me.

For me, interacting with the environment is really cool in-game, but I can do a lot of these things in the real world (i.e. pushing benches, picking flowers), so it's not that exciting to push objects around in-game.

However, in real life, I'd never be in a situation where I have to fight soldiers, monsters, and other enemies, which is why I enjoy video games, to experience things that I'd never experience in real life. To be transported to another world, and face these awe-inspiring enemies.

Therefore, I'm hoping that if developers have to chose between environmental interactivity versus enemies that respond realistically to your attacks, I hope they'd work toward the latter so battles will feel more real, visceral, and get my heart pumping.

I'm not sure what is harder to code, but it appears due to limitations of budget and computing power, a given developer will have to emphasize one aspect over the other.

What do you prefer? The intricate, extremely detailed physics of a Breath of the Wild or Red Dead Redemption 2, or fighting extremely intelligent enemies of the likes of Horizon: Zero Dawn?

The How of Happiness Review

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Monthly Progress Report For My Twitch Channel FuzzyJCats, October 25 through November 24

Twitch Channel FuzzyJCats

Finally knowing and feeling that I want to stream for my community, and enjoying the process and challenges of improving stream content, as opposed to numbers grasping, I had a wonderful month streaming.

The first day back after my hiatus was rocky and rusty, but I felt the same joy I did the first month of streaming.

I wasn't upset about the drop in numbers (50% drop) as it was fun talking and socializing with chat. It also reignited my desire to improve which can be rather challenging. Being challenged and rising to the challenge makes me happy.

I set up a better schedule for myself, as discussed in the last monthly progress report, and streamed between 1 to 2 hours in the morning after exercise and chores, which worked extremely well for my lifestyle and well-being.

At first even 1 hour was difficult, so I don't know how I was able to stream 4 hrs starting out! But because of my new plan of stating only 1 hr, I can go over if I want to.

At any rate, the interesting thing about not caring about "success" in terms of viewers to the road of Partnership is that I felt more free and daring. I wasn't afraid of making mistakes so I can be more spontaneous.

There was a couple of moments during streaming near the end of November that I felt natural and effortless, though most of the time, I had to really focus and concentrate.

In terms of improvement, I would like to see myself typing less and incorporating ways to support my viewers who are streamers instead of "shouting out" which means typing their link in chat, causing the eyesore that is clutter.

I've noticed when watching streams, when chat gets clogged with auto-messages of auto-bots, it's harder to read what others are saying, as you have to scroll down. It's not aesthetically pleasing to see a block of text. That's the precise reason why I got rid of hydratebot, who reminds you to drink water.


Of course if someone raids and brings their viewers over, you must shout-out and thank the person. I think it's also kosher to shout out your team members. As a member of both Midnight Saloon and Pallet Town, as well as a participant of RoyaleStreamers, I'll have to be cognizant to use the shout-out commands.

Because I was more free, I noticed some of the "bad habits" slipping in, mainly filler words. Therefore, I want to be able to stream content by getting rid of filler words ("so", "now", "like", etc), and replacing them with more meaningful descriptive words. That will definitely improve my content.

Progress made:
  • Improved schedule with less expectations in amount of streaming hours, which helps to reduce burnout
  • Not caring about viewer numbers.
  • Had moments of feeling spontaneous and free during streaming
  • Reinvigorated my wanting to improve stream
Improvements:
  • Getting rid of filler words
  • Decrease typing in chat drastically, which will reduce chat clutter

Monday, December 3, 2018

Why You Have To Live In Your Mother's Basement (Monday Musings 69)

Best book on Peronal Finance
During my Twitch streaming (channel link), I discussed plans to write a synopsis of Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi's All Your Worth, which really can help improve your financial health, as my streamed video-blogging series focuses on health in general.

In this politically divisive time, regardless of what you think of Sen. Warren, please don't be too concerned that she co-wrote the book (with her daughter) and keep an open mind even if you don't like her politics, as the advice here has helped lead to my own financial stability, even in tough times.

You can go to the library and check it out, if you want to read the best book on personal finance for the average person without giving the authors further funds. I read quite a few personal finance books and this is the best I've found, where it shows how to take concrete steps and learn what you need to do now to improve your financial situation.

Warren and Tyagi write very clearly and interestingly; I found it a page turner. Indeed, it's riveting to find out that you can take charge of your finances and live well!

I'll have to re-read the book first before I summarize in detail, so thank you for your patience.

In the meantime, upon doing some preliminary number-crunching, I'd say this book can work if you make $10/hour at 20K (though I will have to do more research and work the math so I may have to revise these estimates), if and only if you can somehow manage to live with your parents or friends to obtain "cheap" rent.

The average American income is around $25,000, according to the Census Bureau. The numbers could be as high 47K on average, though billionaires can be skewing the curve.

After taxes, let's say your income goes to $20,000 for easier math.

Ideally, the place you live should cost 1/3 of your net income, per All Your Worth. Indeed, research has shown that people tend not to fall into debt as readily if their rent/mortgage is 1/3 or less. Americans have a tendency to "buy more house" than they can afford to "keep up with the Joneses".

At any rate, 1/3 of 20K is $6666. Divided by 12 months, the rent should only come to $555.50, or let's say $500. In Philadelphia, you can get a "cheap" apartment for $800, so let's say $1000.  We're left with $20K minus $12K or a mere $8000.

In NYC, rent would be at least $3000/month (this is a "cheap" apartment) at $24K/year which is above the entire income.

Those who live in NYC, and you're making $25K, you can see why you can't live on your own, and you must live with your parents or friend(s) or other roomies. Hopefully that leaves you with a rent of "merely" $500/month.

As for those who live in more "reasonable" cities, we are down to $8K with the rent being on average $1000/month. Food is $400/month, if you pinch the pennies, coming out to $4800. We're now down to $4200 (8K - 4.8K dollars).

That leaves $350/month (4.8K/12). Utilities run $200/month at best so we're now at $150/month. Gas costs, say, $20/week (I live in New Jersey, so can buy relatively cheap gas for the Eastern Seaboard), so $80/month down to $70/month.

For internet/phone bill, that cone out to over $70/month, so no streaming for you!

With at best $70/month left over, what if, among the potential emergencies, your car breaks down, which you might need to get to work. Then you're wiped out completely and in crippling credit card debt (if you can charge auto repairs on your credit card). With the compounding 20% annual interest, you may have to declare bankruptcy or go homeless.

I know I'm being dire here, but I think this is the reality for a lot of Americans.

In other words, to be more financially sound, you'll have to live with your parents or friends or otherwise share living space.

The intent of this post is to argue against the snide dismissal of the phrase, "he probably lives in his mother's basement", and recognize the realities of life today in the US. 

A lot of hard-working people shouldn't be ashamed when they have to move back in with their parents given the rising living costs, to prevent crippling debt, bankruptcy and/or  homelessness.

What do you think? Should we make fun of those who have to live with their parents, or understand that with the realities of drastically rising cost of living with stagnating wages, that we should be more understanding and have more compassion?

The How of Happiness Review

Monthly Progress Report For My Twitch Channel, FuzzyJCats, Nov 25 through Dec 24

Twitch Channel FuzzyJCats During this month of streaming, I continued to work on improving the usual chatting and gaming at the same time...