PlayStation VR

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I got to demo PlayStation VR this past weekend and whoa was it cool! The field of view was a slight bit narrower than the Oculus Rift and the resolution a bit lower but it is still extremely immersive. I didn’t get that sense of peripheral vision that I got with the Oculus but it also didn’t feel constrained at all. I think it actually felt quite a lot more comfortable than the Oculus, because they have apparently pulled a bit of tech out of the goggles and put it in the center of the visor making it feel more balanced. It’s also super easy to adjust with just one button. There is a bit of space at the bottom of the visor but I didn’t notice any light seeping in. In fact I actually kind of liked it because I could just tip them up a bit to see out pretty easy when I wanted to.

The one thing that knocked me out though was the software! We tried The Playroom VR with Anna on the controller and me being the giant monster. Most of the software I have tried with VR has always been kind of a forced conversion of a first-person shooter but this thing is made completely for VR — and it is so cool because of it. In “Monster Escape” the person with the VR is a massive monster and the people playing by controllers are small little guys trying to run away and/or throw all sorts of mess at your head. The cool part is the perception really makes you feel like some big giant looking over all these tiny people. It’s extremely, extremely immersive and just really cool. Up until now I had been rather disappointed with the titles I played (as they felt more like a novelty than anything else) but this got me really excited about the possibilities for VR going forward. It really had that “wow” factor and brings a new dimension to gaming that you just can’t get on a 2D screen. And allowing people to play along with controllers is smart because you know most people aren’t going to be able to afford more than one headset (@ around 400 USD or 500 to get the proper motion tracking). I so want one of these now!

Father’s Day

We had some friends over for a BBQ tonight which was really nice — it’s been a while since we have done something along these lines. Our crazy neighbor of course came over and threatened to call the cops for us BBQ’ing and talking on our porch at the unforgivable hour of 4:30 pm in the afternoon but by this point, that’s pretty much par for the course. So yeah, whatever.

So, it’s Father’s Day so I figure I’m going to give my dad a call. Been missing the fam — really hoping we manage to make it home this year to hang out.

D2 Vanguard

Seems like the only time I post on my blog anymore is when I’m talking about VR but oh well, so be it. I ran across a demo of the D2 Vanguard from 3Glasses in Akihabara the other day and gave it a run. The D2 Vanguard is basically trying to be a cheaper Oculus Rift (at around 400 USD) and to be honest, they have done it well. It’s been about a year since I tried the Oculus so my comparison may be crappy but the D2 Vanguard was hanging in there. The first thing that impressed me was the weight — it’s extremely light! The adjusters for the lenses and whatnot also worked well. The resolution wasn’t bad I don’t think but it didn’t compare to the Oculus. I noticed when you focused on particular objects you could rather notice the pixels. Also, and this may have been the hardware it was running on, but I was getting the occasional white flash when looking around. Beyond that though, it was very good, and very immersive. The demo they had setup massively sucked though, which was disappointing. But, they did get the proportions right so I felt like a proper adult in height! As an aside, the FOV is supposed to be similar to the Oculus I believe but it felt a narrower to me horizontally. It wasn’t bad by any means though.

On the topic of VR in general, every time I demo a headset the lack of a proper input method really annoys me. If you take your hands off the keyboard for a second you basically have to lift up the headgear so you can find it again — and it’s a pain. I get that headsets are probably the most important thing to get VR off the ground right now but I get the feeling the lack of good input methods are going to end up holding things back from he technology really taking off. Hoping the powers at be have some stuff in the works at least though.

Budget VR

I recently read about Google cardboard and thought it was such a cool idea! I took a look on the internet and noticed already a million spin-offs, including this one, the GP 3DVR which runs from about 30$ from Amzaon:

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You plop your cell phone in the front of it running some VR software as so:

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And just amazing — 30$ VR that works! Very fun to play with. There is an extremely limited amount of software at the moment (and the vast majority of it sucks balls) but the Zombie Shooter demo I downloaded was rather impressive.

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The head straps are nice and it holds the cell phone well. The side adjusters (distance) are great but I found the angle adjuster on the top rather useless. Other downsides are the foam on the top that kind of sticks into my forehead and the holes on the side that let too much light in:

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But the lenses are very good and it has fantastic magnification. You really can’t bitch for 30$.

In short, it will never of course be the Oculus but if you want to play around, it’s not bad at all. I still can’t believe the stuff I was dying to get my hands on as a kid will run you this cheap these days — it’s just a completely different world.

Fat 25

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Just got back from the Fat Wreck Chords 25 year anniversary show in Tokyo and it was utterly insane. Just so many good bands. The floor wasn’t guarded off so I actually managed to get right up near the stage for pretty much every set — except when it started getting closer to the end because I was just completely worn out. I pushed my way through the pit to the very front for Lagwagon but that about did me in — the whole damn front section just went nuts and I got more than a good few kicks to the head. And I’m actually pretty sure Officer Bradford from Masked intruder smashed into me once in the Good Riddance mosh pit.

One thing I love about the fat bands is they are all extremely good live — much better than the recordings even in most cases. As an example I never really listened to Swingin’ Utters much in the past but they really impressed me in concert. And when Hi-Standard came on the place just exploded — they absolutely killed it.

The Tony Sly tribute at the end was somewhat sad but it was very cool to see all the bands come together and play No Use For a Name covers. His daughters were at the show as well — and they all sat on the stage during NOFX (while Fat Mike went on about his balls and whatnot). The “Soulmate” cover with Hi-Standard / Strung-out was definitely one of my favorites.

But… I’m soooooo tired. Just seeing one of those bands can be exhausting but seeing one after another all day is just murder!

Low Expectations

The gym I had been going to for some time now closed down so I had to shift to another (more snobby) one down the street. The one I had been going to just had a weight room and you could pay each time you went which was rather nice. The new one I am going to has more amenities, such as a swimming pool, sauna, etc., which luckily I can get no use out of because I have a tattoo (in Japan tattoos are still associated with gangsters so it’s common for them to refuse membership for people with tattoos to gym’s and boathouses). Also it has the added benefit of being more expensive.

Anyhow, the first month had free membership as part of a campaign so I got the most expensive one where I can go whenever I like. And of course, I’m have been trying to make some use of that meaning trying to go after work and whatnot, even if that means just popping in for 30 min or so. And you know what? It’s interesting: when I paid by the session I always wanted to get the most out of it and would try to go for 1-2 hours at a time but now that my goal has been just to essentially show up, I have been going like nuts: 4 times this week. Seems like there is something to say for lowering your expectations.

Note by the way even when I go, I end up being there for about an hour anyway. But saying I’m just going to pop in for a bit seems to get me in the door.

Oculus Rift

I went to Akihabara tonight to demo the Oculus Rift (Developer Kit 2):

2015062303In actuality this is really the second time I did a demo; the first time I was just so blown away that I didn’t really get to think about it like the proper dork I am — so I went back for take two:

2015062301I’ve been a bit of a sofa VR fanatic since way, way before VR was ever a popular topic. I remember owning and reading through quite a few dry and boring research manuals as early as middle school, when the universities where still making prototypes using mirrors and bicycle helmets.

Growing up in the country and before the internet, it was always hard to get much information on VR, and down near impossible to actually see it in person, so I was really excited when I finally got the chance to try it. And I remember when I did so, I was extremely, extremely disappointed:

The field of view was so small it was like looking through binoculars, the graphic rendering was crap, and it was so fuzzy you could barely see anything unless you squinted. It was so far removed from what I was hoping for that I pretty much starting writing up my expectations to be a bit of a pipe dream.

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But, if I had to sum up the Oculus Rift in one sentence it would be this:

It’s real VR, as I imagined it for the first time back as a kid, and it is just really, really cool.

The graphics are good, impressively sharp, and it has an amazing field of view — so much so that I could even see things in my peripheral vision (mainly upwards and downwards, but I imagine it would have been improved if I took the time to adjust the straps). The headset was deceivingly lightweight and reasonably comfortable — probably much more so than it looks in these photos. It was also very, very immersive.

The demo I ran was a model of the inside of a skyscraper in what looked like Tokyo, and you could see some flying cars off in the distance from the terrace, or look up through the open space in the building to hundreds of floors going upwards.

Looking up actually made me feel a bit dizzy, but looking down was where I first starting noticing issues: mainly that the ground was way too close and I felt like I was three feet tall.

I remember John Carmack mentioning this in a speech once actually — that one of the hardest things about porting games over to VR was that the sense of scale gets all out of whack. It was probably made worse by the fact that I was standing when I was trying it, but I definitely noticed the same in the demo I was running.

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The other major weakness that I found was image skipping when I swung my head at a semi-fast rate. If you turn your head at some speeds, the image jumps a bit as if it can’t keep up with the rendering. Interestingly enough though, if you go a bit faster, than it seems to smooth out and you don’t notice it. I’m not sure if this is down to perception or if they have added some sort of smear to fool your eyes. It leads me to suspect that you have to have some mighty strong hardware to support a smooth viewing experience though.

All in all, I think the technology is the start of something amazing and I’m really looking forward to how it gets developed over the next few years. And if anyone needs a birthday idea for me…

Blogging Is Dead

Or maybe not — I’m not terribly sure. It’s been dead for me for quite a bit now. It feels like it has been partly replaced with twitter (because of the low commitment needed) but probably more so with Facebook — just because what you write pops up in people’s timeline’s without them having to *gasp* actually go visit people’s pages.

But there is one side that isn’t covered for and that is just the writing for the sake of writing even if no one is around to read it part (which has always most definitely been the case with this decently long-running blog of mine). And I do find myself missing that part lately.

Summer Festivals

We went to the festival at Irugi Shrine last night:

And then yet another festival today. I really do love summer in Japan.

Car Project #2: Touch-up Paint

Now that I finished with installing the etc device, I figured it was time to move onto car project #2; namely trying to touch-up some of the bad bumps and scrapes.

Here is what I was starting with:

I went to Autobas and picked up some touch-up paint and clear coating. I found the correct color from the maker plate under the hood and matched the code and maker to the paint.

Here is what it looked like after the first layer:

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Much better!

I did a second coat as well to try to fill in some of the deeper scrapes:

2014071303Not as noticeable of an improvement but there is some there. If you look at the scrape at the very bottom for example you can see it looks much less obvious.

Anyhow, I figure I’m going to give it one last coat and then put on the clear coat. Will take some more pictures to compare.