Archive for the ‘Social Networking’ Category

Expanding Your Gaming Fun – Socially

January 13, 2016

For many years I had only dabbled in multiplayer gaming, from the early day of running an ethernet cable up my parents stairs to my PS2 to play Tony Hawks multiplayer to the rare occasions I had friends over for FIFA nights.  I did however find that the majority of the time I was playing solo games.  I enjoyed this immensely and before the birth of my daughter this was probably how most of my spare time was spent when my wife and I were not busy.

Xbox_One_logo.svg

However back towards the end of 2013 I joined the Frugal Gaming group.  Initially through their site looking for discounted games I discovered a world of podcasts (occasionally), forums and funny guys all with similar interests in gaming.  I began playing in regular game nights which opened my eyes to just how much fun it can be to play with people you know, well people you know more than complete randoms.  By knowing the guys it made the competition much more fun with banter throughout.

frugalgaming1

Unfortunately over time the Xbox One side of the group slowly declined with very few turning up to game nights.  I had taken over the organisation of these nights and it became increasingly frustrating with week after week of only one friend attending.  The guys running the site occasionally tried to lend a hand but unfortunately the members were predominantly PS4 owners.

It was sometime in 2015 when I decided to look for another home, having enjoyed the multiplayer gaming and the fun of the banter during game nights I was keen to find a new place to play.

I won’t go into too much detail on the next group I joined as there have since been issues with friends and the group, however they did welcome me in  and the leader was always friendly towards myself.  I did find however this group did lean towards the more serious and competitive side of gaming and with few game nights other than Battlefront I found it wasn’t really the place for me due to not being great at any games and at the time not a Battlefield fan.

However it was due to issue with friends that  something better came along.  Some kicked from this group and others leaving in protest started to break away from the group and initially ran the new group via whatsapp.  In the space of just a couple of months the numbers had risen and we had moved on to BBM as it was a far superior cross mobile OS app that enabled chat, events and signups on the go.

This new group became what is now the “Zero Fox Given” group, a nod to what had happened with the other group and also an indication of the humour within the group.  It was even decided to not call it a clan as we felt it indicated a more serious group than we actually were.  This group was much more open to all skill levels, backgrounds and just generally having a laugh whilst gaming.  There is usually some kind of game night scheduled and even when there is not you’ll soon find one of the group online willing to join in a session.zerofox2

Playing with the same people on a regular basis just makes the whole gaming experience more fun.  You get to know what winds someone up, you get to know about the people which makes the banter (or bantz as the group calls it) a whole lot funnier.  To play with people laughing together and not be plagued by the dreaded squeakers is such a refreshing experience.

The group have become good friends so much so that there is even plans for a meet up in the near future and I can honestly say that despite not yet having met these individuals face to face I would class them all as friends.

Gaming is definitely more fun with friends!

 

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Gaming An Outlet Not Just For The Geeks!

April 3, 2014

For years the gamer has been seen as the geek, the young men who sit at home alone playing on their consoles until the early hours of the morning.  Often depicted as an overweight spotty kid with no friends.

geeky

Over the last couple of decades gaming has become more socially acceptable with console’s such as the Wii enabling older people previously unable to understand the complex control systems to play with their families.  Last year games exceeded film revenues, evidence that gaming had become more mainstream.

However there is still an essence of the stigma of gaming that is prevalent still today.  Whilst I understand where some of the gamer stereo-types come from, it at times it can be a little ignorant.

I by no means expect to change many people’s minds,  however I wanted to highlight what I find so appealing about gaming in general and why I can easily waste a good few hours at the weekend on my console without worrying what people may think.

Firstly I’d like to make the point that gaming is now very social, yes you can still play single player games, but more often than not games today contain multi-player elements.  Yes you can find yourself in a lobby of young, idiots or aggressive hormone driven teenagers but I find the ability to simply mute this small faction means they have little impact on me.

For me what makes gaming so appealing is the ability to get lost in a game, completely forgetting any stresses of the outside world, much like a book or a film can do but there is just more interaction in gaming.  For instance I can come home from a hard day at work, angryperhaps someone has wound me up, simply switch my console on and lose myself in a Premiership football match, go to war against others joined by a band of teammates trying to become the leaders of the lobby.  It is just this variation and removal from the trials of everyday life that can bring so much fun.

Don’t get me wrong, this does need to be balanced with everyday life, we still need to get exercise, earn a living and socialise in face to face situations, but when there is not enough time for that type of socialising, an hour or two playing a game can give you that stress relief you need.

I have recently joined a gaming forum (Frugal Gaming) which I originally just joined for the cheap game listings and email offers, however this has since given me even more opportunity to meet like minded people for game nights, which makes the multiplayer games even more fun.

Whether you have never played games before, are a casual gamer or you spend a lot of your time playing games, don’t view these ‘gamers’ with any misconception.  They are just like you, they just have another outlet for all the stress of daily life.

Gaming, Facebook and Twitter – Going Cold Turkey! (1 Week Offline) – Day 5

June 29, 2013

Day 5

quit-chewing-tobacco-cold-turkey

Well it has been a pretty uneventful week off of the Xbox.  No irritation, no getting moody, which was a surprise.  There have been moments of slight boredom but I have always quickly found something to occupy my time.

Despite having to correct a couple of my friends and family that despite some apps and this blog auto posting to Facebook, I haven’t actually been on Facebook.

Initially the hardest part from this week off was surprisingly not posting to Facebook and Twitter, there were times I would normally reach for my mobile to post, such as when bored on my commute to work but I quickly realised that by logging out of both apps it made it much easier to realise what I was doing and quickly shut it back down again.

Now my time off of Xbox had not been hard at all, there have of course been times where I have thought I would fancy a quick game of Call of Duty but I have quickly found something else to do instead.  I have managed to finish the book I had only just started a month ago which I really enjoyed and I have also started the fourth book in a series I have been reading over the past year which I am really enjoying.

So this week, so far has not been too hard at all, today being Saturday and tomorrow will be the real test as I am not working but I am not worried.  I have found that what originally prompted me to start this week off has actually improved.  I was finding that even when not playing I was thinking about playing or posting videos to YouTube of my gameplay.  This over the course of the week has diminished, it hasn’t gone completely (I am not expecting miracles) but it has stopped distracting me from more important things in my life.

So I have two and a half days to go, it has been a revealing week and I am pleased I took the decision to do this as I have benefitted from it, also through pure luck my self-imposed ban does end the day before the new Call of Duty map packs are released and the new free game is released on Xbox Live but both of these are pure coincidence (to back this up I have yet to play the last free game they released).

I think I will do one more post on this topic when the ban is lifted unless of course anything major happens over this weekend, but I seriously doubt there will be anything to report.

Thanks for reading and please follow if you have enjoyed any of my posts!

Gaming, Facebook and Twitter – Going Cold Turkey! (1 Week Offline) – Day 1

June 24, 2013

Day 1Image

As of this morning I made the decision to stay offline from my Xbox, Facebook and Twitter for the week.

To some this maybe seem a little over dramatic and to be honest it is a little embarrassing that I feel this is such a big deal, however I will tell you what lead me to make this decision.

I have always been your typical ‘geek’, keen to keep up with the latest gaming and gadget news.  I played a fair bit of Xbox on a weekly basis but nothing of concern.  However last month I had an operation on my ankle which meant I was slightly less mobile, I am not for a moment saying this is the cause of my concern but it did align with when my concerns started to increase.

I found that I started to play the Xbox much more than I usually do, this itself is not a major problem, I enjoy gaming and it is not doing any harm.  However I started to find that even when I was offline I was thinking about gaming, perhaps with all the next generation console news going around after the E3 expo it was also partly to blame, however I started to feel that it was taking over my life.  I always seemed to be thinking about something to do with gaming, whether posting a new video on Youtube or my thoughts on what I was going to play when I got home from work or over the weekend.  It was beginning to feel like it was distracting me from life.

My concern prompted me to do some Google searches of gaming addiction.  Whilst I was pleased to read that the fact I can resist playing for a day or two meant there was nothing too serious to worry about I was concerned about the offline distractions I was having from the gaming which was mentioned on many sites.

It was this that prompted me to make the decision to take a week off of gaming, to see if I suffered from any of the symptoms the addiction sites suggested (withdrawal, becoming irritable, etc).

With all the gaming news I get on Facebook and Twitter, plus my constant posting I thought it would be an ideal opportunity to take a break from these too (to my friends and followers, WordPress.auto posts so I haven’t been on the sites to post this blog to them)

So today is only my first day but I have to say I feel good about my decision.  I felt an initial relief, like a weight had  been lifted, again this feels a little over dramatic for me to be saying, and maybe my posting of this blog is some kind of therapy, but this is genuinely how I feel and thought it would be interesting to share.  I have spent the evening after work catching up on a book I started reading last month and I am really enjoying it again.  So far I haven’t found myself scratching for things to occupy my time and I have found that my wife and I have perhaps talked a little more than normal (not that there was ever an issue there).

So it is only day 1, I plan to make some more posts on this topic, perhaps not daily as I can’t imagine it will be particularly eventful but I will post as the week goes on to update on my thoughts and feelings.

Thanks for taking the time to read and please follow if you enjoy any of my posts!

How to get the old Nike+ Widgets working on your Blog/Site – Answered!

February 14, 2010
I have spent ages trying to get the old Widgets working on my site after Nike removed the grab code buttons.  I finally cracked it today.
Basically go to your goals and select one of them.  Then look at the address bar of your browser, the address contains two vital pieces of info.  1. Your goals id and 2. Your id, both appear at the end of the address e.g. mine appears as
Take this info and paste your goal id where it says XXXXX in the
code below and your id in the part below that states OOOOO.  You then paste this HTML into your website and your goal will be displayed.
Code:
<object classid=”clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000″ codebase=”http://fpdownload.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=8,0,0,0&#8243; width=”198″ height=”145″ id=”Nike+ Runs” align=”middle”><param name=”allowScriptAccess” value=”sameDomain” /><param name=”wmode” value=”transparent” /><param name=”movie” value=”http://nikerunning.nike.com/nikeplus/v1/swf/scrapablewidget/goal.swf&#8221; /><param name=”quality” value=”high” /><param name=”bgcolor” value=”#ffffff” /><param name=”FlashVars” value=”type=individualGoal&userDefaultUnit=mi&screenName=SXFoxstar&dateFormat=DD/MM/YY&id=XXXXX&userID=OOOOO&region=emea&language=en&locale=en_gb”/><embed src=”http://nikerunning.nike.com/nikeplus/v1/swf/scrapablewidget/goal.swf&#8221; quality=”high” wmode=”transparent” bgcolor=”#ffffff” width=”198″ height=”145″ name=”Nike+ Runs” align=”middle” allowScriptAccess=”sameDomain” FlashVars=”type=individualGoal&userDefaultUnit=mi&screenName=SXFoxstar&dateFormat=DD/MM/YY&id=XXXXX&userID=OOOOO&region=emea&language=en&locale=en_gb” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” pluginspage=”http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer”></embed></object&gt;

Social Networking – Getting Your Privacy Settings Right!

July 5, 2009


I have been a member of Facebook for some time now and have recently joined Twitter and just yesterday joined the locational social networking site Bright Kite.  It was whilst setting up my privacy settings on Bright Kite and reading some proposed changes to Facebook’s privacy settings that I realised a guide to keeping your data private may be useful to many others using these sites.

The first and probably most important piece of infromation I can give anyone is do not supply your date of birth unless you really have to.  On Facebook it is nice to let your friends know when it is your birthday but if anyone else sees this information it can be very valuable to fraudsters.  You can omit the year from your date of birth if you like your friends wishing you a happy birthday but personally I feel it is best to keep it hidden as your ‘real friends’ should know this information already.

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So first I will look at Facebook.  Initially Facebook’s default opened you up to a lot of people being able to view your personal private data but now this has been tightened up, but I feel you need to tighten it up further.  First you need to consider who you will be friends with on the site.  If you are just going to be friends with people you trust you can use the following settings.  Go to the top menus from your home page Settings>Privacy Settings>Profile.

This screen gives you a lot of control over who you want to see what.  As a rule I have everything set to ‘Only Friends’ as this means that others cannot see your information.  You can still be found by people wanting to add you as a friend, but they cannot view any of your profile.  I know many friends who use the ‘Friends of Friends’ setting, but how many of us actually know who is on our friends friend list and therefore I say use this with a lot of caution.

If there are people on your friends list that you still would rather not see certain bits of information you can also block them from seeing certain bits of your profile.  To add people to restrict from seeing certain bits of information simply click ‘Edit Custom Setting’ below the section you want to restrict for example ‘Photos tagged of you’ if you didn’t want certain people to see photos of you.  This is good if for instance your boss is a friend on Facebook.  Once you have clicked that option a box appears and you can start typing the name of the person you wish to restrict and it should be populated from you friends list. Once you have added all the people you wish to restrict and have edited all your settings here just click ‘Save Changes’.

The next bit to set is again within the initial Privacy settings below the Profile option you just edited.  This is Privacy>Search.  This area sets what people searching for you can find about you i.e. when a friend is looking to add you as a friend.  Now in this section I allow everyone to find me, you can restrict this but it will make it very hard for your friends to add you if they haven’t already got your email address.  Below this you can select what current non-friends can see when they search for you.  I suggest here you just allow searches to find your profile picture and a link to add you as a friend.  Save these changes and you are done.  This should provide you with ample protection as long as you don’t have any dodgy friends, and if you do simply impose further restrictions on them as described above.

twitter
Twitter unlike Facebook is more for people wanting to follow celebrities or to post mini blogs about their life.  Whilst you can completely lock down your profile so that only people you allow to follow can see your profile, you won’t get many people following you this way to see your views on the world.  Also whilst you often want to increase your followers by encouraging complete strangers to follow you, you also want to keep your private information safe.  The general rule any ‘Tweeters’ should follow is edit yourself.  Don’t just say everything that is going on in your life as often upon reflection you will notice small bits of personal information have slipped out.
Your first place to visit once signed up is Settings>Account.  Choose your username not using any dates of birth for obvious reasons.  Secondly the system asks for your real name, now here is where you should lean on the side of caution.  Using your real name enables your friends to find you more easily but also gives out your real name to the whole world.  You also need to remember that your friends can find you by your email address anyway.  I therefore recommend using the same real name as your username.

Location, now this is a piece of information that is quite easy to give too much information away.  When I first started tweeting I liked to update my profile location from my iPhone.  Now be warned, this will give an extremely accurate map reference of your current location so I recommend you do not use these facilities on GPS phones.  Instead manually type in your location but make it to your nearest city instead of your exact location.  You must also bear in mind that if someone has seen your home location and then sees that you are out this can open you up to opportunistic burgalars.  So it is best to leave your profile location stating, if anything, your city and to not update it when you are out.  On this point it worth mentioning about providing map links in your tweets, whilst very cool and useful for locating you if meeting up with friends, also bear in mind that people you do not know can also see at what time you posted that location and exactly where you are, again opening up the possibilities of being burgaled.

BrightKite

Now this is the final social networking site which I joined and also one of the ones that can have quiet a few security risks if you are not tech smart.  I assume the same will apply to many other locational services such as Loopt and Google Latitude although Bright Kite is one of the better services available in the UK that I have found.
One of the first things that will effect your decisions is if you are looking to use the Bright Kite service with Facebook and Twitter.  I wanted to use all the services together and this will help to cover off most security issues.  Firstly the same considerations need to be made, if you are posting to Twitter or Facebook, do you really want those audiences to see your locational information.

In the account settings it provides the options yet again to supply your date of birth so that it can supply your age on your profile.  I think it is best to leave this blank as any indication of your date of birth is filling in the blanks for the fraudsters.  The next area you should look at is Account settings>Privacy.  If you are hoping to make friends via this service you will want to set your profile to public, but I strongly recommend not using this setting as it enables the world to see you current location which is not advisable as it gives thieves the intel they need to know when to strike your home.  I myself chose a private profile as I was looking to use the service with my friends and my wife and I can invite them using the helpful options in the site to do just that without opening myself up to the world.  Now the next part to consider is the amount of information you supply to each category of friends (Trusted, Friends, Everyone else).  Naturally most security minded would set Everyone else to Hidden, and trusted/friends to exact/city which is great for our privacy.  However there is one issue with using these setting, it will not allow you to post to Twitter.  I have therefore set my posts for Everyone else to allow city location, this allows the postings to reach my Twitter account also but not my check ins.  Whilst people on Bright Kite can see the post of the City you are in this does reduce the amount of information strangers can obtain without locking you out from updating Twitter etc.  The final change I recommend you make is from the Account Settings>Sharing tab.  Under the Twitter section I highly recommend you deselect all of the options that can post to Twitter except for ‘When I Post a Note’.  I wanted to also be able to post photo’s however unfortunately this provides a link to the site which give the location that you took the photo so unfortunately a bit of a risk.  The final change I recommend making here is next to the ‘When I Post a Note’ click customize.  This gives you some coding to decide what is posted to Twitter with your note.  I solely have $note selected so the note and nothing else reaches my Twitter account.  If you use any of the other options,  especially $link it will provide a link to Bright Kite and provide the viewer with a lot more information than you want to share such as your location etc.

I hope people find this guide useful and that we can enjoy and remain safe on these great networking sites and if you know me, please add me or follow me on Twitter!

Locational Social Networking – Too Many Coming!

April 29, 2009

As a fan of new technology, blogging and social networking I have been keeping a keen eye on the next networking fad to hit the UK shores.  

Google Latitue

Google Latitue

This type of networking has been established in the US for some time now but has yet to fully reach the UK shores.  This new form of social networking allows users to upload and download their location and see updates from people in their local area. This can also be used to find out if any friends are nearby with the pretence of meeting up socially.  However I have already seen two of these sites that are making their way to UK shores Loopts and Google Latitude.  Google is already active but until it is available on the iphone it is of little interest to me but this development is on it’s way.  The problem I have however with this is that like social networking, there are many different sites offering similar services.  In the case of social networking we seem to have three winners so far, Myspace for mainly music and entertainment users, Facebook for everyone else including your parents and then Twitter for people wanting to coninually say something and also to cyber stalk their favourite celebrity.  Facebook did try to step into the Twitter user arena with some changes to it’s service but this does not seem to have taken off.  Even with these three you find friends are often found at just one and I know from my own experience it can become tedious to check all three for friends updates, so I tend to use them all for different purposes.  Facebook for keeping in contact with friends, Myspace to keep up to date with my favourite bands and then Twitter to see what celebrities are up to.

 

Loopt

Loopt

 

 

 

Don’t get me wrong I will be on the band wagon for these new locational social networks but how do you choose which one to join?  In the end it will probaby be down to the new reports on the sites as it would seem the more publicised the site the more users and thus the more of your friends you will find using a certain site, but until this happens you will find, especially in the case of the locational services that you will be checking various sites to find out if your friends are about and even then who has that many friends who would update their location enough to make it useful?

We will have to wait and see!