Skyrim VR with Oculus Rift and Touch

As an interesting coincidence, and in a crappy mood because Dimwit Drumpf just won’t shut up and die already, I decided a few days ago to fire up Skyrim so I could wander around, be nice to Villagers, do a favor for a Jarl, kill some Bandits, and forget for a short while what utter shit that idiot is making of America Again.

Coincidentally, the very next day, one of my closer work buddies asked, “So, did you see that Skyrim VR is out on Steam?”

WHAT?!! OMG!!

So immediately upon getting home from work that afternoon, I went and bought it. Full price. None of this silly putting it on my Wishlist and waiting for a Steam Sale (which happen frequently). Bethesda absolutely deserves a premium price, given the (literally) hundreds of hours of enjoyment I’ve gotten from what has now really become a franchise in its own right. (Yes, it’s already part of the Elder Scrolls franchise, but it would seem that Skyrim has more “legs” than the rest.) Plus, I want to do my small part to encourage them to do more things for VR (or as I prefer to say, “which support 3D HMDs”).

First time trying it out, I got hung up with a glitch during the Character Selection and Modification subroutine… I ended up with a generic Nord with the name “Prisoner”. Figured I would just plow onward, going through the initial tutorial-ish chapter, just getting used to vastly different control mechanics. Then I’d start over and try to get the Character Setup stuff done correctly.

And so I did. Took me 3 tries, but finally figured it out. That’s one spot where the stuff that floats in front of your view doesn’t jibe. It’s a picture of a couple Vive Controllers blocking your view of the floating virtual keyboard, with cartoon thumbs, and some markings which seem to imply “You must type your name with the thumb joysticks.” And with Touch, at least, that ain’t true at all.

No – you must use the left-hand (odd) laser, and your forefinger trigger, to shoot past the foreground Vive Controllers image, to the dimmed keyboard behind them, and hit the backspace in the upper-right corner to erase “Prisoner”. As soon as you’ve hit the backspace once, the foreground crap disappears, so you can see what the heck you’re doing.

Anyway, on the 3rd try, I got it. So when I go to load the game, there’s one “Kleiven” and three “Prisoner” in there. LOL… I’ll have to figure out how to delete the Prisoners, which coincidentally was exactly what the Imperials are trying to do in the 2nd scene of the game.

Finally, I spent over an hour in Skyrim VR last night. I spent way too much time fussing over the Kajiit head-and-face characteristics. I think there’s no 3rd-person view.

My buddy says “No third person would make sense. Can you see your body in it?”

I replied, “Only time I could see my body was when making the character adjustments just before not cutting my head off.  Just see either floating Touch Controllers, or weapons if unsheathed. Don’t see arms, feet. But I see hands (fists, actually) if I’ve chosen no weapons, but am going to hiss and scratch the bad guy to death.”

Anyway, Bethesda made great choices for how to deal with turning, running, rendering. The thing that made me stop wasn’t any hint of VR sickness, but the brow getting tired of the pressure. If the Rift was 50% lighter, or the weight arranged such that it doesn’t need to press so hard on my brow, I could see playing like that for 3 hours easily.

I’m somewhat tempted to try adding a weight to the rear strap. I wonder if it were balanced back-to-front, though heavier overall, if it wouldn’t need to press so hard to stay in alignment. The weight could be borne by the top strap more than anything else.

Or maybe just tie a big Helium balloon to the front. It’s not like I could look more silly anyway. But I digress.

Skyrim VR is SO FUN! I hadn’t seen the game without make-it-more-beautiful mods in a long time. I’d forgotten how homely the NPCs are. But it didn’t take long at all to get used to that and ignore it, completely enveloped in the game. This is only my 2nd time starting from the beginning, and I’m consciously making different choices, just to experience it all from a different perspective.

Boy howdy, when suddenly set upon by a Wolf or Skeever, armed with a long-bow, it is not a simple push-a-button ordeal to start poking the beast with sharp, pointy things. I need to get into the habit of sprinting away, turning a 180, and THEN trying to draw the bow. Or just walk around with the sword more of the time. Derp.

SkyrimMilkDrinker

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Welcome To The U.S. of A.

…or…

Why I Miss John Pinette

It was a minor cluster-f%@& at the McDonald’s drive-thru this morning.

I try to avoid getting breakfast at McDonald’s, but I knew I was out of granola at work, and wouldn’t be going to the grocery store until tonight at the earliest. So I made sure I had a fiver and a single in my shirt pocket before leaving the house, and 50 minutes later I had dropped off my wife, driven through and past to the opposite side of our state’s Capitol city, to the McD’s nearest my office by 06:37 (which tends to be just before the morning rush at that one).

First clue that there would be trouble: the first car in line was at the rearward (of two) order screens, with no cars visible in front of them (most particularly, not at the forward order screen. I was 3rd in line at this point.

Second clue: the 2nd car in line had left nearly a full car-length gap in front of her.

Third clue: once the 1st car moved, the 2nd car veeeeeerrrryy slowly crept forward. Can’t (or didn’t) read the sign, and did not pull up to the forward ordering screen. Sheesh.

Fourth clue: car in front of me is way wide of the curb and order screen. They have to shout to hear each other simply because of the extra distance. It’s taking unusually long (with so much gesturing and shouting). But after merely 3x or 4x the typical amount of time for a sole vehicle occupant to order, she pulls forward and around the corner. The 1st car is still at the 1st window, probably because the person at that window was so busy dealing with the 2nd car that they haven’t begun the monetary transaction yet.

Fifth clue: as I’m rolling by the rearward order screen to the vacant forward order screen, I hear a voice say “Does that complete your order?” Oh boy. Well I get to the forward screen, after a brief wait they ask for my order. “Number 2, Medium Coffee, Black.” Her voice replies, “That’ll be Five Thirty-Three at the first window.” Quick and simple.

Sixth clue: After the first guy finally pulls away from the first window, the woman in front of me slowly creeps forward, again staying very wide from the curb (at least 1.75 meters, maybe 2m, from McD’s window to Toyota Camry window). More gesturing and explaining. Some COINS are handed to the McD’s woman. More gesturing and explaining. The COINS are handed BACK to the Camry woman. The McD’s woman closes the window and disappears.

2… 3… 4… 5… 10… 15… 20 seconds or so later, Camry gestures and pulls forward. First guy has left the forward window with his breakfast.

Seventh clue: different guy at first window, asks me “Four Seventy-Nine?” I respond, “Nope, I’m Five Thirty-Three. Number 2, Medium Coffee.” I hand him exact change, speeding things up just a little.

No longer counting clues, it’s officially a cluster-f%@&. Now I’m waiting behind the Camry at the forward window, though she’s scooched a little closer this time. It looks and sounds like she’s only just now placing her order, to a McD’s manager I’ve seen a hundred times, and whose English is so-so (but I get by OK because I can speak a little Spanish, and I don’t place complicated orders). The cajoling and gesturing goes on for nearly a minute, then she hands him her Visa card.

Another minute  goes by, nobody re-appears at the pickup window. Camry woman gestures a big “I don’t know what’s going on” sort of thing, and drives away. Without her Visa card.

I pull up to the pickup window, and the same guy who had replaced the original gal at the pay window is now at the pickup window, and he asks, “Two Sausage Biscuits and a Hash Brown?” I reply “Nope, Number 2, Medium Coffee, Black.” But the poor guy is not at the register configured for orders, he’s at the screen configured for meal delivery. So he’s got nothing in front of him that says “Number 2.”

We finally clarify that a Number 2 is a Sausage McMuffin, With Egg.

“No hash browns?”

“Number Two – a combo meal – of course it has hash browns.”

“Oh. Sorry. Of course. Coffee, with Cream?”

“No. Medium Coffee, Black.” He turns around to pour a fresh coffee. Then as he hands it to me, he’s apologizing, and I’m reassuring him that it’s not his fault, “No, no, it’s not you, it was her. She screwed up everything.”

After I drive away with my meal (after double-checking everything is correct at long last), I suddenly get a pang that the McD’s guy might think I was criticizing the female McD’s team-member who first had to deal with Camry woman. The poor gal. Uff-da.

I got around to the front of the building, and the drive thru line now blocks the street, and then some. It’s at least 8 cars deep. I see no sign of the Camry in the parking lot. Again, uff-da.

Welcome to the USA, but regardless of how long you’ve been here…

If you have a complex order, “Get out of line!” as John Pinette would say. Don’t tie up the Drive Thru at morning rush. Go inside. That’s where you talk to the manager about the problem you had yesterday and your claim that they owe you a Coffee for free, or whatever it was.

If your English isn’t strong enough to deal with the horribly shitty audio quality of the McD’s Drive Thru order system, “Get out of line!” and go inside where you can point and nod at a picture menu.

If you’re so new to driving that you can’t pull up within earshot of the Drive Thru order system, “Get out of line!” and go inside.

If you’re so easily flustered that you’ll drive away and leave your Visa card behind, don’t leave home without (or with) it. Just don’t leave home alone. At all. I sympathize, and wish you happiness and prosperity in this great country. I hope you can find someone to bring you to McDonalds, help you order inside, and have breakfast with you. And I hope you get your Visa card back. But really… you’re not ready for the breakfast rush… Get out of line.

A Man Of Extremes

In some ways, I’m very difficult to peg.

Every time I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® test, I find myself recognizing when a particular question is trying to ascertain whether I am Introverted or Extroverted. And every time, I try to go with the first situation that pops into my head, but I immediately think of some other situation for which the answer is completely opposite. And in neither case is my answer iffy… it’s like a holy-crap-yes-strongly-agree or it’s OMG-no-no-no-strongly-disagree… for the exact same question.

So when it’s all done, the thing puts me a little nudge to one side or the other on the I-to-E scale, as if I had given middle-ish answers to all those questions. Nope. I gave extreme answers, but very polarized.

The same is true of the Red vs. Blue, R vs. D, Right vs. Left. If you tried to find an average of my views, you’d probably conclude that I’m a centrist. The most recent example of this is the 2nd Amendment. I honestly believe I would fight in a shooting-back-and-forth battle to defend my 2nd Amendment right. I own guns; always have. But I would also argue at the top of my lungs until I’m blue in the face that our current interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is completely screwed up, outdated, backward, misguided, and otherwise just freaking wrong.

Limit how many rounds may be in a handgun clip, or rifle magazine? Not an infringement, in my opinion.

Outlaw bump stocks? Not an infringement.

Require Universal Background Checks regardless of who sells what to whom? Not an infringement.

Raise the minimum age for purchasing certain classes of weapons? Not an infringement.

Outright ban on a well-defined (unlike last time) class of weapons? Not necessarily an infringement.

Waiting periods? Not an infringement.

Requirement to pass safety training? Not an infringement.

Requirement to pass skills test? Not an infringement.

Requirement to keep current liability insurance? Not an infringement. (And mind you, I hate insurance companies.)

Mental health screening? Not an infringement.

Confiscation of weapons when someone has made batshit-crazy remarks or credible threats? Not an infringement.

Yanking the tax-exempt status of the evil-dickweed NRA? Not an infringement. In fact, a damned good idea.

Putting firearm registration info into a computerized database, instead of those stupid index cards? Not an infringement, and also a damned good idea.

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.

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).

IMG_6477

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.

What’s It Like Having a Stalker?

The following is a blog-excerpt from a very interesting, amusing, and scarily forthright person I follow on Twitter.

I’m in a very happy, stable relationship, and yet I have 2-3 enormous crushes. There’s one guy who works at my gym, for example. I can hardly look at him without feeling my face go all hot. There’s another guy I know at a nearby university. At conferences, part of me wants to fall into his arms. It happens. The difference? I recognize those feelings and put them where they belong: my vibrator.

Source: What’s It Like Having a Stalker?

So I was reading my Twitter feed, and saw a thing that said she’d updated this blog post (which I’d not previously read anyway). So I went and read it. Insightful. Interesting. Intelligent. And often, LOL funny.

At the end, I saw social media links (like one often sees), but there was one I’d not noticed before. There was a square “W” icon that, when moused-over, it said “press this”. Curious, I clicked it. It took some text I’d had highlighted above, and turned it into a new WordPress Blog Post on MY blog. I thought, “Cool!” So I cancelled that, and instead highlighted the few sentences that I had found most amusing, and clicked the thing again.

Well I thought it would APPEAR like I was making a link to some other person’s blog, with a QUOTE of what I’d highlighted. And, well, it KIND of did that, but it made it look way too much like I had written it, but had used the other blog as source material. I had to go through another edit process to instead make the copied text into a blockquote. It all works kind of clumsily for something where I’m just trying to point anyone reading my blog to go see hers. Oh well. I fixed that, AND bored you along the way.