Posts Tagged ‘space travel’

YeeeEEEsss, Neo.

Wed ,09/05/2018

Well, it was bound to happen. I had my first VR experience last night – very, very cool.

A buddy of mine is a local software CEO, and invited me over to test out some VR setup(s) – yes, plural – they have at their office. After some scheduling snafus, I was finally able to get over there last night, and he did not disappoint.

quick note – for the YouTube video links below I included (so you can see what the games looked like in action) – you may want to turn down the volume considerably or skip around in them – the narrators for some reason in most of them are YELLING loudly (probably overexcited nerds) and it usually detracts from simply checking out the game – just a warning.

First up was Oculus Rift. He had me do an orientation video first, which was similar to being in Wade Watts‘ trailer, standing in front of a DAT recorder, and putting various disks into a 3D printer, assisted by a floating robot that looked mostly like Wall-E. So you can print a series of things (butterflies, etc.) and check them out, then eventually like so many of these simulations, you 3D print a gun and shoot Wall-E – the human race is doomed, basically.

Next up with the OR equipment, we did a version of The Matrix ‘bullet time’ scenario (akin to the rooftop battle by Neo and Trinity) – I think the game is called ‘Superhot‘, you can watch a bit of video as to what it looks like here.

This was very interesting – not sure I ever really got the hang of it, basically if you don’t move, the ‘bullet time’ doesn’t advance – so you can move your head around (advances *very* slowly) and get a sense of who’s about to shoot you, then start grabbing guns and shooting once you are oriented to the scenario (there were several, most similar to the movie scenes). The YT videos show players throwing stuff at the bad guys, but I could never seem to pull that off, the best I did was hit them (besides of course shooting them).

Next up was a Valve VR setup, a bit more advanced than the OR one. First we did a shooter called Raw Data (video example here). I was able to blast most of the robots, but it was a good thing I had shields because in the later scenarios, they start coming very fast, until you see the big “DEAD” floating in front of you. Also, I kept trying to actually lean on the virtual console in front of me to crouch and hide from the robot shooting – which doesn’t work (there’s nothing actually there in the real world, after all) so almost fell over a couple times – funny.

With that same equipment, then we looked at Google Earth – setting aside my usual privacy rant for another day, this was pretty cool otherwise. You can go to any major city on Earth and (effectively) virtually fly around like Superman and look at things from the air, streetside, etc. After a brief look at Hong Kong, we ‘flew’ to WA and looked at Fremont, then my own neighborhood, then went to the cone of Mt. Rainier and ‘skied’ off the top, the impression of which scared me a bit because the sensation of going right off the edge is pretty decent.

Clued in by my Rainier ski commentary, my buddy figured out I was scared of heights, so (of course) he wanted me to try Richie’s Walk the Plank Experience. So I tried to go in the elevator, but it took off upward before I was actually ‘in’ it, so the effect was of me shooting up the OUTSIDE of the building – yipes! Then, you are virtually at the top of a HUGE skyscraper, with a tiny board under your feet. I couldn’t do it at this point, had to take off the gear – too real for me!

We next tried ‘Augmented’ Reality with Microsoft HoloLens – ‘augmented’ means instead of being completely in the virtual world, you wear goggles that let you see what you are doing normally *and* you see additional stuff floating in the air. Think of (kinda) Minority Report, you can see a YT demo here.

This one, despite its obvious potential, didn’t really work that well for me. Ideally you make gestures at it (kinda like ‘pinching’ in the air in front of you – this is in lieu of the computer mouse) and you can manipulate stuff. But I just couldn’t get it to work for me, probably was doing it wrong or not holding my hand in the correct place for the sensor. So maybe next time on this one.

The final VR thing we tried was the Star Trek Bridge Crew game, on the Valve setup. This one is arguably the coolest of them, given the series connection, and apparently you can select from different ships/series, various missions, and different characters to play (captain, navigator, etc.) YT demo here.

At first I was in some sort of (very cool) shuttle flyby of an earlier movie era Enterprise-like big ship, much like the flyby in Star Trek:The Motion Picture (and nearly every other Star Trek series or show at one point or another) – I kept expecting the shuttle to take me into the landing bay but it then went right on by to circle around again.

So we logged into a game already in progress, I ended up as Engineer. There were three guys in a room, already discussing Star Trek stuff (seemed like they were talking about the merits and realism of the game – they didn’t really seem to notice me). Then the mission started, and I was Engineer on the bridge, to the right of the navigator station. Here, i was trying to route power to the warp/impulse engines, shields and phasers, but it wasn’t super intuitive on how to do it. I couldn’t really hear the ‘Captain’ saying anything (likely something weird about my login) and the helmsman/navigator guys kept arguing about some esoteric stuff that I didn’t really follow. I was able to get power to the warp drive, so we went to some asteriod belt where some Klingon attack had apparently happened, and we started cruising around the wreckage a bit.

The controller has some weird mode where you can see a perspective that is as if you are floating above and outside the ship – very cool (if surprising). I can see where this game would be VERY addictive if I had access to this type of VR hardware on a regular basis. My only gripe is that the way you use it is as if your head is floating on a crewman’s body, and in some camera perspectives it’s like you are floating on a disembodied marionette – but that could have also been because I was a newbie to all of it anyway.

In the end, VERY cool and interesting – it will be neat to try it again someday, hopefully soon – Thanks Jason!

candybowl

Stormtrooper!

Wed ,17/01/2018

Saw (finally) The Last Jedi last night. Spoiler-laden review coming next, but in the meantime… 🙂

candybowl

RIP, Mr. Young.

Mon ,08/01/2018

a true American hero – RIP.

From the Seattle TimesNASA: Legendary astronaut, moonwalker John Young has died

“….NASA called Young one of its pioneers – the only agency astronaut to go into space as part of the Gemini, Apollo and space shuttle programs, and the first to fly into space six times. He was the ninth man to walk on the moon.”

“…His NASA career lasted 42 years, longer than any other astronaut’s, and he was revered among his peers for his dogged dedication to keeping crews safe — and his outspokenness in challenging the space agency’s status quo.

Chastened by the 1967 Apollo launch pad fire that killed three astronauts, Young spoke up after the 1986 shuttle Challenger launch accident. His hard scrutiny continued well past shuttle Columbia’s disintegration during re-entry in 2003.

“Whenever and wherever I found a potential safety issue, I always did my utmost to make some noise about it, by memo or whatever means might best bring attention to it,” Young wrote in his 2012 memoir, “Forever Young.”

He said he wrote a “mountain of memos” between the two shuttle accidents to “hit people over the head.” Such practice bordered on heresy at NASA.”

candybowl

V’ger!

Wed ,09/08/2017

At 40, Voyager spacecrafts still zooming toward galactic achievement

candybowl

farewell, Commander Koenig…

Mon ,17/07/2017

Oscar-winning actor Martin Landau dies at 89

We too, argued constantly as kids whether Space:1999 was better than Star Trek too – and never came to a consistent conclusion. RIP.

Space 1999 @ IMDB

episodes on YT

hard to believe we were watching that in 1975(!)

candybowl

Shuttle Trainer….very cool and interesting.

Mon ,27/03/2017

So for a bday thing, a friend and I went to the Museum of Flight yesterday and specifically to check out the Space Shuttle Trainer they have. When NASA’s Shuttle program ended, there was of course a mad dash by all the museums everywhere to ‘get’ a Shuttle. Boeing’s Museum of Flight naturally wanted one too, but ended up getting something arguably better – the full-on Space Shuttle Trainer mockup that was actually used in Johnson Space Center for hands-on training by the Shuttle crews.

It’s important to note – this is not a flight simulator – rather, this was meant to simulate and train on nearly everything else (equipment, evac, procedures, operations, etc.) – the thing is huge and has a fully-accurate, replica cockpit and crew module underneath, built to full scale.

So regular visitors can go in the main cargo bay and in the tail section, but only special tours (yes, costs extra) can go in the pilot section and the crew module. Naturally we did that!

What follows are pics from the tour. I’ll post all the ‘plane photos’ tomorrow from the other parts of the museum we went to, but the Shuttle tour was our first priority yesterday. Definitely very cool and the tour guide was well-informed. The main take-away for me is simply how impressive a technical achievement this thing is – in one of the movies you can watch (sadly about the Challenger and later Columbia disasters) they note at one point that at re-entry to the atmosphere, the heat outside is hotter than the surface of the sun – boggles the mind. In many ways the Shuttle is a tougher and more impressive achievement than even Apollo was, despite the program not ending up near as ‘affordable’ as they predicted nor as long-lived in the end.

here’s to you, NASA!

candybowl

Click on a gallery pic, then click it again to get the high-res version….

Funny….!

Sat ,04/03/2017

good haul of comics this am – enjoy!

candybowl

Ha!

Thu ,22/12/2016

candybowl

Sleeping Giants – Book Review

Sun ,27/11/2016

Just finished reading this book – Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel. This is a sci-fi story told in an somewhat unusual way, via ‘interviews’ – most often with an unnamed lead interviewer we never meet. I won’t spoil the main storyline (plenty of other places online can do that for you) but to say the following:

– The main story ‘device’ of the interviews works very well, IMHO. It makes you think harder about the motivations behind and the mentality of the main characters, especially as the ‘unnamed interviewer’ most often heard from is usually not sympathetic.

– I like the focus being first and foremost on the characters and not the main overarching plotline. While that may get further development in a future book (looks like a sequel is coming out possibly next spring?) and it will be interesting if the ‘interview device’ is maintained there too – this book ticks right along and definitely holds your attention all the way through, with at least two major plot twists I never saw coming.

– Finally – while there may be some story elements here that are inspired by past classic sci-fi (or even anime/kaiju), I still think the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and this is a great read – DEFINITELY recommended!

candybowl

Other perspectives (and spoilers – you are warned!)
NPR – The Sleeping Giant
Goodreads.com – The Sleeping Giant

funny….!

Sat ,08/10/2016

SMBC

Aliens Playing Poker - Savage Chickens

candybowl