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virtual Easter

Sunday,  03/27/16  10:53 PM

Happy Easter!  In which we celebrate the resurrection of the son of God by eating chocolate bunnies...  or are we celebrating spring fertility by hunting for hidden eggs?  Not clear.  At least Easter is a nice opportunity to get together with your family, enjoy a great dinner with some nice wine, and reflect on the nature of the universe...

So, the Oculus Rift is out!  Yes I am getting one, despite not being a gamer; I can't wait.  I believe it may be the first iPod or iPhone or iPad of a whole new product category, VR devices.  But two things limit it, the form factor (people are NOT going to end up wearing headsets, I just know that) and the need for a powerful desktop PC to drive it (people are NOT going to buy powerful desktop PCs for VR).  The tech issues will get resolved.  I just wonder about the form factor.  Maybe VR rooms are going to be the future. They have issues too though, but more comfortable and more social. Will be most interesting to watch this play out.  There are many things VR can do besides gaming... 

While moving I found my Amazon Kindle.  Not my new one that I use every day for reading outside, but my original Kindle.  It gave me goosebumps.  Still works, and works well as a way to read a book.  But I so remember getting it, it was 2008, and I was going to Brazil on a business trip, and it was a cool way to bring a bunch of books and a Portuguese dictionary and maps of Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro with me. During that trip I had this epiphany, the ebook form factor was great, but the ability to *instantly* access new content was a game changer. Someone mentions a book, and poof! you can download and read it.

When you first put on a VR headset – whether a Cardboard or a Rift – you have this "wow this is cool" experience.  As I noted I'm not sure the headset form factor is perfect, but for now it is what it is.  I do think that as with ebooks and music and all sorts of other content, the ability to *instantly* access new content is going to be incredible.  Say we are talking about Madagascar.  With VR, poof! we can go there*.  Say we are talking about designing a new bathroom.  With VR, poof! we can see what it would look like.  Say we are talking about a cool new car.  With VR, poof! we can see the car, and we can even drive it.  It is going to be so cool.  The VR content industry is going to be much bigger than the VR hardware industry.

* I do still want to visit Madagascar in person, and I probably will.  But probably not Mars.

Here's why the next SpaceX launch isn't just about the booster landing.  It's also about the Bigelow Aerospace expandable habitat.  The picture at left shows it [virtually] attached to the ISS.  These "living spaces for space" have significant advantages in size and weight.  Excellent. 

Scott "Dilbert" Adams: The Elbonian Zombie virus.  "Now here’s the interesting part.  What is the functional difference between the Elbonian Zombie Virus and radical Islamic terrorism?  In both cases they are spread by prolonged personal contact. In both cases you have no way to identify infected people until there are symptoms. In both cases the “virus” is deadly to both the person infected and those around them."  Adams is on fire as a blogger. 

Religions are a mental virus, and idea I first encountered in Susan Blackmore's excellent (and under-appreciated) The Meme Machine, an intellectual follow-on to Richard Dawkins The Selfish Gene.  This way of looking at them is amazingly insightful. 

News item: California to announce $15 minimum stage wage.  Meanwhile: restaurants face pressure to trim menus and staffs under California's wage hike.  This is going to be a massive failure, especially for the poor people it is trying to help.  Perhaps the only good that will come from it is that the concept will be discredited. 

News you can use: Make Escher -style tessellations online!  Heh, excellent.  Just a little too late for coloring Easter eggs, maybe next year :) 

I've decided to call this one "Fongbakt", for obvious reasons.