For the past 6 weeks, I've been doing sysadmin tasks remotely, working from home. One good thing about not having to go into the office is I can sleep about 1~2 hours more in the morning. One bad thing is that I am walking a lot less than I used to. I track my steps with a Fitbit Zip and I have a Beeminder steps goal linked through Fitbit's API. If I don't walk at least 7,000 steps per day, my credit card will get charged a penalty by Beeminder.
When working in the office, I routinely surpassed 7,000 steps per day, but working from home, I found I was walking less than 4,000...I was inspired by this post in which a fellow Beeminder user extolled the virtues of DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) for getting some exercise.
I searched some Korean shopping sites and found a USB DDR pad for W23,000 (about $20 at the current exchange rate of W1200/$1):
It's a soft, foldable mat that has sensors inside corresponding to 8 buttons. When I plugged the DDR mat into the USB port on my laptop, dmesg -wH gave me the following info:
[Oct25 02:34] usb 5-1: new low-speed USB device number 6 using uhci_hcd
[ +0.183611] input: USB Gamepad as /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1d.0/usb5/5-1/5-1:1.0/0003:0079:0011.0006/input/input18
[ +0.000565] dragonrise 0003:0079:0011.0006: input,hidraw3: USB HID v1.10 Joystick [USB Gamepad ] on usb-0000:00:1d.0-1/input0
And lsusb returns the following:
[archjun@latitude630 ~]$ lsusb
Bus 005 Device 006: ID 0079:0011 DragonRise Inc. Gamepad
In a Google search for this usb ID, I learned that the DragonRise chipset is generally used in handheld game controllers. Apparently now it's also used in DDR dance mats! The DDR mat I purchased is called PlayDance and is manufactured in China but sold on many Korean online shopping sites.
When I first launched Stepmania 5 (which works on Windows and Linux), the DDR pad seemed unresponsive. Before sending it back to the seller, I needed to check if HW input was getting picked up or not.
I referred to the excellent Archlinux documentation on gamepads at the following link:
Recent kernels should be able to automatically detect USB joystick hardware. The documentation indicates that in /dev/input/by-id there should be a new device created when the USB gamepad/dancepad is plugged in:
[archjun@latitude630 ~]$ cd /dev/input/by-id
[archjun@latitude630 by-id]$ ls
After running cat on the the gamepad device, gibberish is printed to the screen every time I step on a dancepad button:
[archjun@latitude630 by-id]$ cat usb-0079_USB_Gamepad-event-joystick
:� V0r V0r
=� V�J V0r =� V�J " =� V�J =� VV~
[archjun@latitude630 by-id]$ cat usb-0079_USB_Gamepad-joystick
F=�U �F=�U� F=�Ucat usb-0079_USB_Gamepad-joystick� F=�U� F=�U� F=�U�F=�U� F=�U�F=�UF=�U� F=�U ��F=�U �� �E�U ?G�U I�U �J�U �M�U yN�U �O�U
After verifying that input from the USB pad was being detected by the Linux host, I once again tried Stepmania 5 to see if it would detect the dance pad. I don't know why Stepmania 5 didn't detect input the first time, but the second time the DDR pad worked fine and I was able to map dance pad buttons to actions in the Options menu.
For the first day or two, it was hard to break 3000 steps in an hour, but Now that I've got the hang of it (well, kind of -- my best is Easy 5) I find it's possible for me to record 3000 steps in 30 minutes and break into a sweat if I do enough songs > 130 bpm. So far, DDR seems to be an effective form of indoors exercise!