It’s Your Lucky Day, Sir

The freeway this morning was a little wet, but that has not typically caused a noticeable change in traffic speeds. Up near County Road J where I-35E Southbound is still only 2 lanes, it tends to be going around 79mph (posted: 70) at 6:15am M-F. Today, it was 72-ish, with more flickering of brake lights here and there than usual. I noticed it, but only barely. I mused as to why it might be, but only briefly.

I don’t set my cruise at 80 in that 70 zone because I think it is the best idea. I do so because I have learned that is the typical speed, both lanes (all 3 lanes a little further South), day after day.

I don’t have a MNPass thing on my windshield because I want to go 10-over. I have it because the other 2 (then 3, then 4) lanes as we approach Downtown St. Paul are fraught with unpredictability. And trucks. And Metro Mobility buses. And lots of regular old morons who follow too close, then JAM on the brakes when something happens in front of them, causing the moron behind them to have to jam the brakes on even harder… while I continue along at the speed the MNPass lane had been going all along.

So it turned out this morning that the reason the two lanes of I-35E were erratically going slower than usual was because there was a MN Hwy Patrol squad in the right lane.

When the MNPass lane finally appeared, I merged left into it. On a typical morning, I would see a few cars ahead of me merge into it and speed up to 80mph. On a typical morning, I would see a couple cars behind me merge into it and speed up to keep pace behind me. And we’d all continue at 80 until the posted speed drops by 10 approaching I-694, and all 3 (then 4) lanes go 70 at that point.

You know what you can’t do without getting involved in Road Rage incidents, and putting yourself in the midst of the most aggressive, conflict-laden, unsafe driving behavior? You can’t drive in the far left lane MORE SLOWLY than the lanes to the right, at any time, for any reason.

You know what else you can’t do? You can’t drive in the 2nd-to-left lane at 5-over, then merge across the double-white line to the MNPass lane just as the 2nd-to-left lane slows to 10-under.

If you’re going to use the MNPass lane, you need to get in it and stay in it, and go along to get along. Drive the same speed as the majority. Just try to not piss other people off… even while you’re wishing the majority was going 5-7mph slower than they typically do.

So the MN Hwy Patrol gentleman who pulled me over this morning asked me, “Do you know how fast you were going when you passed me?”

“No, I do not, but I could take a guess.”

“Go ahead and take a guess.”

I know they say you shouldn’t do this, but I gave him an honest shot, “Maybe 79.”

“That sounds about right.”

Then we had a nice chat about what my personal responsibilities are, and the conflict I’m trying to avoid, and society’s problem of aggression, and my contention that there isn’t nearly enough enforcement of the speed limit, “and quite frankly I’m glad you pulled me over, ‘cuz with your lights going, EVERYBODY is going slower, and that’s better for EVERYONE. I’ll take that hit. I’ll HAPPILY take that hit, sir.”

I swear, I practically begged for a ticket. He asked me “So what do you think should happen with you today, now that I’ve pulled you over?”

My response was, “Oh, I should get a ticket. Absolutely. I did all the things wrong, wasn’t paying attention, was just listening to the radio and following my habitual pattern, and didn’t look at the situation until I noticed I was passing you two lanes over.”

He went back to his squad with my license. Came back 2 minutes later and said, “Well it’s your lucky day, sir. My printer isn’t working, so I’m giving you a verbal warning for speeding.”

I thanked him, took my license back, shook his hand, and told him, “PLEASE be safe out there, you’re doing a great job. Thank God for you guys, seriously.”

And that, my friends, is how you trick a crooked cop into lying about his printer.

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Art Is Dead

A near, dear, and wise fellow I know quoted some wise fellow he knows…

And art is dead. There’s been a sea change. Jack speculated that people have discovered looking at an image on their screen has become all they want from that image, and that’s a pretty good guess.

Ironically, that usually means looking at an artistic image of some sort on their iPhone, and Steve Jobs has been quoted as saying…

A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.

My reaction to art can be very visceral. Oh sure, I have better color acuity than the average male, but it’s not like I’m on LSD or anything. Just for example, looking at a variety of “white” paint sample chips, I can spot the “warm” one versus the “cooler” one or “greener” one, just like my mother can, but my dad cannot. To dad, they all look just white. That’s why I had a successful career in Digital Prepress Color Correction, and can see subtle color hues like the average female can.

There’s no good way to judge to what extent my better-than-average sense of color plays into the following, but my hunch is “only a bit”.

I was in a museum in Winona recently. Got as close as sniffing distance (figuratively) from some great masters’ works. Most of them were images I’d seen before – some dozens of times, some hundreds. Some images were new to me. But here’s the thing – even the one I’d seen thousands of times before, this was the first time I’d seen it in person. I nearly wept. There’s more to it than you’d think.

Here’s my point: if you haven’t visited an Art Museum IRL and looked at a really great painting in person (not on your computer or iPad or iPhone), you don’t know that you want to… but you do. You really do.

See also: http://stanfellows.com

 

So Many XR Ideas – But For What Market?

I am not alone in this, certainly, but I have so many ideas for things that I think would be really cool, or really informative, or really compelling, or really je ne sais quois.

Here’s an idea that would appeal to me, and quite possibly to at least a dozen other people: VR Model Railroad. Imagine a Model Railroad enthusiast has gotten himself a 3D Printer so they can download models from thingiverse, print out little buildings, cars, whatever, paint them, and add them to that monstrous thing that takes up way too much of the basement. Or the garage. Or the club’s building. Or whatever. Well what if those buildings didn’t need to be really printed? What if the model railroad was assembled in Sansar, or HiFidelity, or some other VR platform, and the train was also virtual? All the valves. All the levers and knobs. The roaring and hissing and clatter… all within the Oculus Rift with Touch Controllers.

Or, in a more AR way, what about a model train locomotive that has 360° cameras, and there was an interface between Touch controllers and the Model Railroad controls? Pop on the Oculus Rift, and shrinkify yourself INTO the cab of your locomotive, and engineer that puppy around the plywood and styrofoam from the Engineer’s perspective.

And shouldn’t every major art museum be making a VR version of their spaces?

And shouldn’t every state’s History Society be hiring 360-cam operators and VR designers to get even more eyes on History? Well heck, that’d also be an interesting area to do AR. Walk into some historic house, then view it through your AR-enabled phone app, and see an actor-portrayal of whichever historical figure sitting at his desk in the study, engrossed in the business of governance or whatever.

There’s a great deal of potential, but the recent articles seem to indicate that the XR market is still quite small (though the ARKit stuff in the latest iPhones may sway those numbers quite a bit).

MyKronoz ZeTime Review

I was backer 12643 on the KickStarter of ZeTime back on April 15, 2017 (boy howdy, it seemed like so much longer ago, but maybe that’s because I’ve received several Kickstarter rewards this year which were soooooo laaaaaate as compared to their initial estimates). Over that span of 6.5 months there were 36 updates.

That’s pretty good. Compare that to the gruff Richard Haberkern, whose 8th Kickstarter campaign I backed on 6/4/2016, was initially estimated to ship that coming October. It’s 13 months after the initial date – still not shipped. And there have been 10 updates. TEN.

Soundlazer VR from Richard Haberkern Sheesh.

Anyway – back to the ZeTime. The idea of having physical hands over a smartwatch touchscreen is brilliant. The fact that it’s shaped like (and the typical size of) a watch, unlike pebbles or iWatches or fitbits, is brilliant.

IMG_6475

No, it doesn’t have luminous hands (inside joke). But look what happens if you push the crown button once… That’s not a great angle (quick-n-dirty iPhone photo and avoiding glare). Point being, in the dark, it totally looks like luminous hands pointing at luminous indices.

If you push the crown button a 2nd time, various things may happen depending on circumstances, but most of the time, it will then display your chosen face (presently there are 24 to choose from).

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Like this… Now I’d like to point something out on this particular face. It has two virtual complications. The day of the month at the top, and weather info just above and below the axle of the hands. It shows the temperature (in degrees Fahrenheit, my choice), an icon indicating partly cloudy, and the city in which those were the conditions.

But I’m in Eagan, and it’s 30 degrees. I’ve been down here for two hours. The watch and my iPhone have needed to communicate with each other a few times since I left Centerville to drive to work… but it still says “Centerville” and “28°”. Why?

I mean, if it’s mid-day, and it looks sunny out, I might want to know if it’s warm enough to go for a walk outside during lunch. Boy, wouldn’t it be convenient if I had a weather bug on my smartwatch that showed reasonably current conditions where I’m at? But no – – unless I go to a specific screen on my iPhone, then drag down to force a re-sync with the watch, this sucker will say “Centerville 28°” all… day… long!

So although the face pictured above is my favorite, and would be most useful to me, I have instead chosen a different one which isn’t going to irritate me all day by showing stale info.

IMG_6478Another thing I wish they’d done (though it’s a visual design choice which could discourage certain other potential customers). I can sort of tell the time when the display is off. And, wisely, they have it designed such that even in powered-down mode (i.e. display completely disabled, no bluetooth, no nothing), the hands will run for about a month. Well, if it had indices around the outside of the face, that is outside the display area, but still below the front glass, I would be able to tell the difference between “about 7:20” and 7:19 or 7:21. That would be a “smart” thing to have when the watch is not in smartwatch mode.

Voithover

I’m in a Facebook group about using Audacity for Voiceover work. Someone in the group who has a self-proclaimed “prominent lisp” was using “DeEsser” and “DeClicker” plugins to reduce it. She posted some edited vs unedited examples.
 
I’m surprised the tech cleaned it up as much as it did. Were it me, I’d fix it at the source, rather than in post. Which is to say, if I were the person on the purchasing end of the transaction, hire someone who doesn’t have a lisp.
A lisp. Voiceover work. Huh. Well I guess the heart wants what it wants. Teens with thick glasses who want to be fighter pilots. Thick-fingered trolls (like myself) who want to be guitarists.
But – let’s assume I have a lisp, but for whatever unfathomable reason, I also yearn to do Voiceover work. I’d either get speech therapy, or my teeth fixed (I have no clue of the causes in the poster’s case). I’ve known a couple people (from my elementary school) who had a prominent lisp, and they fixed it. But I also had a niece with a lisp (as a toddler), and I suggested (because of experience with the previously-mentioned people) that it could be improved with speech therapy – and my bro-in-law angrily contended that there was nothing wrong. So I shrugged it off, and as an adult, she still has a lisp, which seems from my uneducated perspective to be unnecessary.
 
This all makes me wonder about accents, affectations, hearing, etcetera. I don’t know much Spanish. But when I do speak Spanish, I try to speak it with a Mexican accent (as I hear it). I try not to sound like a big dumb gringo (my appearance as such is more than sufficient). I’ve had Mexican immigrants (a bank teller, in one case), jump to the conclusion that my mother tongue was Español. What is it about me that I’m able to do that, while my co-worker a few cubicles away (born in Ukraine) speaks with such a thick, wet (literally) accent that he’s difficult for us to understand (or stay dry)? If I can spit “day-tah-base” just like him, why can’t he say “database” just like me?
 
And here’s my theory: Some people who have emigrated here, have somehow come to the conclusion that if they talk a LOT like us (native US English speakers – worse yet, Minnesotans), that we will feel mocked.
You know, how Hollywood so often uses a Southern accent for a dumb character, even though there’s no reason to conclude that regional diction has any correlation to intelligence. So when a Yankee such as myself takes on a Southern accent in order to “sound dumb,” we’re mocking. Ergo, although when I’m in the South I can talk like the locals in order to reduce their struggle to understand what I’m saying, I’m keenly aware of the possibility that I’m also hurting someone’s feelings – so I’m cautious about it.
 
A related theory: Though I’m sure, depending on the causes, some speech characteristics that one might want to fix, could be fixed, but might there be a subconscious resistance? If I was from Boston, but wanted to excel in VO work, or in broadcasting, and I started pronouncing Rs properly, would my family and friends think I think I’m bettah [sic] than them? (Insert your favorite clip from Goodwill Hunting here.) Might I struggle to overcome my own psychological resistance to changing my speech? Does a particular speech pathology, however undesirable for voiceover work, be so ingrained in a person’s identity that it’s more difficult to fix than it might otherwise be?
And I wonder what the overlap is between adults with a speech impediment AND who also do VO work.

Relative Irrelevance Of The First Family

Let me start out by stating that I didn’t vote for DJT, I’ve disliked the guy as long as I can remember, and I believe the People of the United States have done our nation an enormous disservice by allowing ourselves to be fooled by an unfit, unqualified, unwise, but very persuasive candidate.

That said, I’ve been seeing a lot of Tweets and Facebook posts similar to this, lately…

IrrelevantComparisonWeakensTheArgument.png

The security of the First Family provided by the Secret Service is not relevant to Food Stamps or any other budget subject matter about which one may argue, for or against. They’re not related at all.

The First Lady might be a wonderful person, or she may be horrible. I don’t know, and I don’t care. And it’s not really relevant to whether protection is deserved, or how expensive it is. Same for her son, Barron. It’s not his fault that his father was elected President.

Protection of the President, and the First Family, wherever they go, wherever they live, has been the law of the land for a long time.

New York City is expensive. If we had elected anybody else who lives in New York City, it would be similarly expensive to protect that home.

The First Kid is a school-aged kid. His parents have made a decision to keep him in the school he’s been attending, rather than to uproot him and move him to some school in or near Washington D.C.. So what? That’s up to his parents, and nobody else.

Go ahead. Pick your favorite President of all time. Now think about this hypothetical scenario: Your favorite President gets elected. The Secret Service provides security to your favorite President’s First Family. Would you think it’s OK to say that your favorite President needs to move the First Family someplace which is cheaper to protect? I mean, does that not sound ludicrous?

Again, DJT was not my choice. I’m embarrassed and ashamed and acutely irritated that he’s the POTUS. The fact, however, is that his is the POTUS, and that is the end of the discussion as to whether his family gets protected, or how much that costs. Costs which are irrelevant to arguments about welfare, education, infrastructure, tax reform, bank regulation, military, whatever.

You can surely make an argument for Food Stamps – and so can I. That argument is not made stronger by making comparisons to an unrelated law and the costs for it. Rather, these failures to stick to the point make the arguments far weaker.