photo of Soto Hax walking on an AVtrak treadmill

Mizz Hax Rocks

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

photo of Soto Hax walking on a VR Treadmill
Soto Hax walking on AVtrak at Izzy’s Gym

The Quantified Avatar #

Scripting genius Soto Hax, aka “Mizz Hax” has scripted the Treadmills at Izzy’s Gym so they can report your activity to your WordPress blog!

Your Chair is Killing You #

Since 2011 I’ve had both RL & VR treadmills. It all started when I saw a video of a talk by a guy I’ve never even met: Ernesto RamirezYour Chair is Killing You at Ignite San Diego:

After seeing Earnesto’s compelling talk I did a bit of research and learned two things:
1. Most people didn’t know about the dangers of sitting, or about treadmill desks
2. If you surf a bit, there’s all kinds of info on both

So I built an RL treadmill desk. And then I modeled it in VR so “we” could both walk and work at the same time.

photo of Vanessa Blaylock's treadmill desk featuring Soto Hax' distance logging script

New Hampshire Rebellion #

And then in January of this year Isabella Medici opened Izzy’s Gym a VR Treadmill Desk gym where avatars can get the exercise they need and still work on their blogs and other projects. She challenged us to walk 10.2 miles with Lawrence Lessig and the New Hampshire Rebellion.

Merriam Galaxy and I signed up to walk the 2014 NH Rebellion, and on walking day about a dozen more avatars joined us. I walked the same 10.2 miles in RL & VR. And we finished the walk in the same 5-1/4 hours that Lessig and the other walkers did. In RL I had a Fitbit activity tracker to measure my steps and distance. But in VR we just had to fake it. Until this week!

AVtrak Avatar Treadmill Demo from Vanessa Blaylock on Vimeo. Soundtrack is Quantified by The Law, feat. vocals by Asteria.

Soto Hax #

Thanks to Soto Hax’s cool scripts, when we again join Lawrence Lessig & The New Hampshire Rebellion in their January 2015 walk, our new AVtrak Treadmills will track our walking and send all of our walking to a leaderboard on this website!

Serendipity, Baby! #

The story of how Soto Hax wound up writing her awesome scripts is a tale of virtual serendipity. In January 2014 I decided to do a project called 365 Dancers wherein I would do a portrait of someone dancing in VR every day of 2014. I came up slightly short of 365 days, but I did manage to publish a dancer portrait every day in a row, all the way till.. January 16!

Fortunately in my brief project, Dancer #5 was RMarie Beedit, who quickly became one of my best friends and VR Exploring pals.

RMarie Beedit dancing at the Hotel CHelsea. RMarie is the avatar who introduced me to Soto Hax

Eight months later when we presented Virtual Public Art Activity No.9 – Avatar Hangout RMarie Beedit brought her pal Soto Hax along.

sepia toned photo of RMarie Beedit, Vanessa Blaylock and Soto Hax standing in the rain in a jungle brush area
RMarie, Vanessa & Soto at Activity No.9 at Kimika Ying’s “Sister Planet” at LEA29

Soto saw the treadmills this week and we got to talking and BAM!!! She wrote a little LSL script to put in the treadmills, and a companion WP plugin in PHP to install on your WordPress. It was her first WP plugin ever. I think she got it running, start to actually working, in 2 or 3 hours!

Playing with Others #

Hopefully Soto’s plugin will eventually be in the WP Plugin Repository, and also on GitHub, but for now you can get all the parts from her website. And I’ve put the treadmill on SL Marketplace for free. You can use the treadmill without sending the data if you like, or you can wire it up and track your activity.

If not before, I hope you’ll join us in mid-January when we join Lawrence Lessig and the New Hampshire Rebellion in the 2015 walk. The walk is in the memory of Granny D and Aaron Swartz, and it’s a fight to end the corrupting effects of money in American governance.

Soto Hax: screen cap of fitbit website showing some of the data it tracks
a portion of the fitbit dashboard

Soto’s modified the plugin so it now is a leaderboard, showing who’s walked the furthest at the top. I wonder what it’d take to get some cool dashboard graphic displays like the Fitibit dashboard? And avatar photos next to how far they walked? And maybe a wearable AVtrak that doesn’t need a treadmill and can measure how far you walk. And, and, and!!! Oh how the wish list of the mind grows!

2015 Challenge #

Many avatars, like me, can spend a lot of hours online! These avatars are my friends. I’d like to see them live long and prosperous lives, not drop dead from the harmful effects of sitting. A standing desk is nice in that it gets you out of that chair, and personally I like standing a lot. But standing is actually a lot more fatiguing than walking at an easy 1-2 miles or 3-5 km / hour. At these slow rates you can wear business attire without sweating, and you can talk on the phone without being out of breath.

You can buy a high end treadmill desk that is as amazing as it is expensive from a company like Steelcase. If you already have a treadmill, you can save 90% of the Steelcase price by getting something like a TrekDesk. Or you could save 90% of the TrekDesk price (99% off the Steelcase price) by simply strapping your laptop to a SurfShelf on your treadmill. You could also slide an inexpensive treadmill from Amazon or eBay under your drafting table like I did.

Do you think you can setup a treadmill desk at home or office for 2015?

Vanessa Blaylock's signature

About Vanessa Blaylock

I was the Choreographer at Vanessa Blaylock Dancers and the Artistic Director at Vanessa Blaylock Company. Today my work focuses on Public Art projects. I'm interested in the mediation of perception and mixed reality performance works. I'm passionate about community and civil rights in cyberspace.

5 thoughts on “Mizz Hax Rocks

  1. Upcoming Events

    • 11 Jan – NH Rebellion 11 Mile Walk
    • 27 Mar – Dance Anywhere
    • 1, 2, 3 May – Jane’s Walk – LEA22-23-24-25

    AVtrak 2.0 Wish List

    1. Pix on AVtrak Leaderboard
    2. Send a distance walked total both at intervals and when you step off.
    3. Only 2 decimals places
    4. km is usually good, but NHR is in miles – can there be a switch?
    5. Walk Parameter or Name of Walk (NHR, DanceAnywhere, JanesWalk, or GenericGymTime)

    AVtrak 3.0 Wish List

    • Treadmill AVtrak works great for NHRebellion
    • Avatar Worn / Portable AVtrak would be great for Jane’s Walk on 1, 2, 3 May
    • Dance Anywhere – 27 March – Perhaps “Time Dancing” could = “Time Playing Animation”?
    • Weight (self report of Inventory count), Heartrate, Calories
    • Reset distance walked, perhaps monthly? Or have way to display Month Total & Year Total. Fitbit does a weekly “blast” of how you compare to friends. We might MailChimp out a monthly progress report.
  2. Hello Vanessa,
    This is such an inspiring post! as someone whose been around sl for years, and on the computer for much longer, I can definitely relate to the problem of our physical bodies not moving enough while our minds wander off into cyberspace. Once I acknowledged it was a problem, I replaced my desk chair with a large yoga ball, and while it wasn’t exactly being active, it did seem to be an improvement from a chair (and more fun too). But after a while I realized that wasn’t going to cut it. So I figured I had to commit to making a choice; either on screen OR physically active. That was a very difficult decision to make but for the sake of my health and fitness I did start cutting down my daily screen time in a conscious effort to leave more room for other activities including a serious workout. It’s still not ideal, but I find I am usually motivated with my workouts because I have “sacrificed” my screen time so I make sure it was worth it!
    As a side note, while I love this idea, I personally am a fan of elliptical machines more than treadmills, but I doubt any of these extensions could work with those, so the treadmill desk seems like a good middle-ground compromise.

    1. Hi Cybertwigs! Thanks so much for sharing your own process of dealing with the “new” body-mind problem! 😀

      One key to the treadmill desk is that you are walking slow. So you don’t sweat and you can easily type and do fine mousing and so on. Occasionally if I want to watch a longer video documentary or something, I might crank the treadmill up to jogging speed, but 98% of the time it’s slow and easy.

      The elliptical is Walking plus arms – yes? So that too would be great for watching a 30-minute documentary on Vimeo or YouTube.

      [start_plug]
      You could watch The Internet’s Own Boy. I don’t think Academy Award nominee CitizenFour is available online yet, but hopefully soon.
      [/end_plug]

      As for being in a Virtual World, well, Joseph DeLappe (Gandhi) did use a NordicTrak with arms, but he was mostly walking and had to stop to type.

      I guess the 2 issues for an elliptical would be:
      1. taking the arms off
      2. if your balance is good enough to comfortably do the elliptical movement without arms, and also type and mouse.

      If so, I’d go for it! My treadmill came with side rails and an incline motor and all kinds of junk I took off. It wasn’t too hard modding it. Just be careful not to cut any important wires! 😀

      Or, as you say, a treadmill, even if not your 1st choice, is a great way to be active and in-world at the same time. And the thing to remember is that a Treadmill Desk doesn’t need cardio activity, or at least not high-cardio. The point is to not be sedentary and to not have that circulation-cutting sitting posture.

      Did you see my 2 more recent posts on Putting your Treadmill Desk together?

      http://vanessablaylock.com/blog/tag/your-treadmill-desk/

      If you decide to go for a Treadmill or Elliptical Desk, I’d love to hear how it goes and perhaps see some pix! And for sure I’ll be happy to help in any way I can!

      1. Thanks for all the feedback and info Vanessa! Yes I see the whole point is that this setup allows you to stay active at otherwise sedentary times, but not so active that you are raising your heart rate enough to break a sweat, or that it decreases your productivity.
        Yes my elliptical machine has moving arms and even if I could balance without using them.. I cant imagine it would be possible to actually do any tapping/clicking while on the move. But I do like the idea of watching shows while working out! Actually I think thats a great way to make sure we get in our fitness goals if we only watch youtube/tv while on a machine! Its also a nice alternative to your usual music playlist.
        By the way I’ve been checking out your avtrak in the MU sim (Im Art Oluja inworld) and it looks great!

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