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Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Blah Blah Blah

Lots of random today. I've been chomping at the bit to go back to work like thousands of others. Almost did tonight, but hey, shit happens. Not going now until the 16th.

I've been messing around some with A-Frame. Got some basics done thru Frame Academy. But I've slacked off. I can't focus.

Worked some on the Westlake modules. That kind of is in limbo again. JMRI, A-Frame and XR is hinging on those.

Played in IMVU and Second Life. My storefronts are going to shit. no business for 3 months. Visitors. No business. If you can't afford to buy play money, you cant afford to buy digital goods.

And I try not to follow the news. Too damn depressing. So that was my week. Hope yours was better!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

"Pets" and "Bots"

Good morning everyone. I hope you're all staying occupied during the lockdown. I just wanted to share a few ideas rolling around in my head. I've been brooding over the differences between what virtual pets and bots are in games, VR, and internet life in general.

So, what is a pet? A classic example is Tamagotchi. A web version would be Neopets. These are digital critters that you must groom and feed and pay attention to. Most often you'll find pets in games. Bots, on the other hand, are most often a snippet of code that executes when a particular function happens. Depending on the application that you find a bot in, it either will or won't have a visual representation of itself. So here is my dilemma. I would like to run a few bots that I've been finding online. They're being offered as pets.

I know what you're saying. "But you just made two different distinctions". That's my problem. I don't want to have to "feed and groom" the things, but simpler code isn't as effective. I've always been of the opinion if it's a program, it should be able to tend to itself. If I wanted to tend to a pet, I would get myself a cat. What I'm seeing is the complexity levels of these things are starting to incorporate AI. Now if it has a rudimentary AI, it should know how to tend to itself. I guess I'm going to have to keep looking.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

OS Agnostic

Sometimes I can be a dunce. Seriously, I can look at something for hours or days, or in this case, years, and not see the forest for the trees. Then when the dawn comes, it's like a great revelation from God. You'll understand this as you read along.

We're on the edge of Spacial Computing. I refer to it as eXtended Reality. you probably recognize it as plain old Augmented Reality. The whole tech has been percolating for years. There have been a few apps released over the years. Nothing mind blowing, with the possible exception of Pokemon Go. But we're reaching critical mass. The key ingredient will be an Head Mounted Device. I have been championing Vuzix for almost as long as they've been in business. But Apple is in the arena, and as usual, everyone in the industry is sizing up the elephant to see the best way to tackle the beast. Damned hard to take down an elephant.

But what is the crucial feature of ANY hardware device? It's OS. Now I'm partial to Windows. I won't belabor the virtues of Windows over iOS, nor Android over Linux, etcetera. Each is efficient in it's own manner. But I've been casually following the progress of the way Microsoft has been positioning Windows to be the gateway into it's enterprise Azure cloud. The reasoning is to eventually wean companies off of Win XP. And to maybe lock them into Software as a Service. So I let my mind wander. What if, instead of the Win 10 shell, they could use the Win XP shell? Or something even farther back, like Win 98? Or the granddaddy of them all, Win 3.1?

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks: Who's to say that we couldn't use a Windows shell in an HMD? And my mind was blown.

Apple will stubbornly stick to it's proprietary iOS, of course. I expect nothing less. But think with me for a moment. All computing devices use a BIOS. Including HMDs. After that, something called the Open AR Cloud kicks in. Or your shell of choice runs in the background. The point I'm making is that regardless of your operating system, a shell is a shell. You can have Android, or windows or linux or any damn thing that can appear on the horizon.

(Edit) I thought I had published this back in October of 2019 when I wrote it. So I'm sending it off now.
(2nd edit) Now the date is showing April. And somewhere else it shows September. Ugh.

Uff Da, Have a Corona!

Yup, I'm still around. I'm weathering the lockdown just like everyone else is. I just wanted to boot up the blog, and maybe start doing weekly posts again. We'll see what happens. In the meantime, everyone stay safe!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Windows Vs Linux

Even though I do all my work on a two year old HP Windows laptop, I have an old eMachines desktop that I've been threatening to upgrade to Linux for years. I got it from a friend that bought it new almost 10 years ago. It originally came with Windows Vista. I finally put Windows 7 on it about a year ago. But now Win 7 is reaching end of support on 14 January 2020.

I'm quite familiar with MS's end of support cycles. I started out with Win 3.1 on a Packard Bell. Which was cutting edge for me then. I had been using Commodore computers before that. But since the eMachines is still a working product, I'd much rather upgrade it to Linux. This way I'll know that the machine will be stable, rather than trying to shoehorn Win 10.

I very much enjoy working in Windows. But... Ah, where to begin? Since Microsoft has been guiding everyone to the cloud, Windows has made some significant changes. They haven't affected me to badly, but I'm concerned that if I make changes on files in One Drive, their online storage system, it possibly changes the file on the C: drive. I have done stupid things in the past like delete whole folders, and then find that the folder is missing on the machine. Fortunately I keep a master backup on a USB drive. Google has done this to me as well.

Linux, as far as I know, has no cloud storage feature, unless you use One Drive or Google's cloud through the web browser. This is what I think is best for me right now. I need to be able to control what I send to the cloud, and when. I really don't need EVERYTHING in the cloud. I'll fill you in on how the instillation goes.

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Future of eXtended Reality and the Metarverse

I wanted to mention a little bit about my opinion on the current state of XR. As I see it, eXtended Reality is reaching critical mass. I know a lot of people have been saying this. But when someone like me can see where things are heading, you can place bets that this is a sure thing. Because I never speculate this far ahead without being seriously wrong in the end.

Consider the gaming industry as it stands currently. While companies are still offering single player titles, The majority of titles are MMOs. Zombies and war titles abound. And when you get tired of shooting and bombing the undead, you can always run them over with stolen vehicles. But when even that becomes tedious, you can now go to your favorite in-game casino and kick back and win some moola to buy more stuff to run more people over. Cool, huh?

Switching gears, no pun intended, now I ask you to consider the loosely termed "social" world games, such as Sansar, VRChat, and the like. You can kick back after a long day in the default world, and visit with your friends from around the globe and do anything from shopping to intimate cuddling. I don't need to explain much here.

Tying most of these experiences together is a VR headset for immersion. Anyone in the default world that bleeds pixels will own one (or more) by now. But a vast majority, myself included, are still waiting for prices to drop. Which is why companies like High Fidelity have had to change direction to stay afloat.

Augmented Reality has its own unique position as well, and which is one that will explode once Apple releases an AR head mounted device. Anyone that would know on that is Robert Scoble. He is part of a group of tech watchers that live and breathe AR. And if Mr. Scoble says that Apple will release an HMD, it's simply a question of when. I personally get frustrated that the entire industry is in a holding pattern to see what Apple does.

Another thing that has been taking place is the parallel development of blockchain tech. There are dozens and dozens of indie developers that have latched onto the potential of cutting the ties to the industry giants, and taking the metaverse to the next level. Cryptocurrencies are a wildcard right now, giving default world governments ulcers as they all try to figure out how the hell to milk them for taxes. That's all I'll say on that.

And one more item to complete this exercise, is Artificial Intelligence. The Amazon Echo and the Google Assistant are neck and neck in voice interfaces. Microsoft, like High Fidelity, have seen the battle, and have taken Cortana in another direction around it, and are putting her in business boardrooms.  The "Holy Grail" will be AGI, if you will indulge me. It's so close now, there aren't many big thinkers that dismiss it out of hand. I'm going to gingerly sidestep "sentience". That's for the theologians to determine.

I think you can see where I'm going here. We're living in an eXtended Reality universe already. It's been seeping into our lives for years. One bit of innocent tech at a time. When Neal Stephenson wrote about The Street, he wasn't too far off from whats in existence today. There's just a heck of a lot more teleporters. People hate walking.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Mars Rover, "Opportunity", 2004 January 25 - 2019 Februrary 13. R.I.P.

It's only fitting that I post about the Opportunity rover. I had honored the Spirit rover back when she had passed several years previously. There's not much to say here. Many others will be more descriptive in their obits of the robot. Perhaps some day in the future, both Spirit and Opportunity will be singled out and honored in a VR or AR presentation. As will all the other machines that were successfully landed.

To me, the names of the rovers perhaps embodied what it meant to represent the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA was the premiere agency that the world followed along with in many missions. Perhaps some day, the world will, again. But for now, let's raise our glasses and toast to the community that was behind Opportunity. Well done, team! Your offspring earned her retirement.

Rest in peace, Opportunity. Your sister, Spirit, is waiting for you on the other side. :-)