Archive for April, 2017

Happy 80th birthday, George Takei! Amazon Giveaway

April 20, 2017

Happy 80th birthday, George Takei! Amazon Giveaway

Happy birthday, George Takei!

George Takei born event at The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip (TMCGTT) at The History Project

While clearly, geeks got to first know him as Sulu on the original Star Trek, George Takei has been involved in so many of our favorite universes! From Batman to Godzilla to Star Wars to Irwin Allen to Jonny Quest, the combination of his charismatic screen presence and resonant baritone has made him a great fit for both live action and voice artistry.

Nowadays, I’m sure he has many fans who think of him first as a supporter of human rights.

A third group may simply see him as an embracer of social networking.

He is, of course, all of these things.

I had just one personal memorable experience with George Takei.

It was decades ago at a convention…I was in the back of the room, and I think we had been shown a clip from Star Trek III: the “Don’t call me tiny” scene.

I asked him (just as a member of the audience) if he’d like to play James Bond.

I was surprised a bit to see heads whirl around and hear laughter, as though that was a completely ridiculous question. It didn’t even occur to me at the time why people might have thought that.

George Takei, with his signature combination of being both suave and childlike, enthusiastically responded, “I would love to play James Bond!”

Nowadays, I think that might have been seen as a much more reasonable idea…I guess we might both just have been ahead of our time. ūüėČ

In honor of George’s birthday, I’m giving away a Kindle version of his book,

Oh Myyy! ‚Äď There Goes The Internet (Life, the Internet and Everything Book 1) (at AmazonSmile*)

1 winner

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/0a55a7230ccfd4aa

Start:Apr 11, 2017 3:56 PM PDT
End:Apr 21, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

There will have been hundreds of entries by the time the giveaway closes tomorrow. My requirement for it is to follow @TMCGTT on Twitter, and there are geographical and age restrictions from Amazon:

  • Requirements for participation:
    • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
    • Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
    • 18+ years of age (or legal age)

Happy birthday, George Takei!

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

My other current Amazon Giveaways:

One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

by my sibling, Kris Calvin

Ten winners

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/e39ec1bca3592757

Start:Apr 8, 2017 12:05 PM PDT
End:Apr 23, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

===

¬†Giveaway of a ‚ÄúTim Curry‚ÄĚ Frank-N-Furter collectible¬†CelebriDuck in honor of Tim‚Äôs birthday!

CelebriDucks Rocky Horror Picture Show Dr Frank-N-Furter RUBBER DUCK Tim Curry (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*

1 winner

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/10d9d8f4121e9918

Requirements for participation:
Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
18+ years of age (or legal age)
Tweet a message: “Happy birthday, @timothycurry! Tim Curry born April 19 1946 https://www.thehistoryproject.com/projects/view/1433/timeline?eventId=31535 https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/ #giveaway”

Start:Apr 11, 2017 3:56 PM PDT
End:Apr 21, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

Happy birthday, Tim Curry! I’m doing an Amazon Giveaway in honor of Tim

April 19, 2017

Happy birthday, Tim Curry! I’m doing an Amazon Giveaway in honor of Tim

Tim Curry was born on April 19th, 1946! For more information, see

Tim Curry born event at TMCGTT at The History Project

I’m doing an Amazon Giveaway!

Giveaway of a “Tim Curry” Frank-N-Furter collectible¬†CelebriDuck in honor of Tim’s birthday!

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/10d9d8f4121e9918

CelebriDucks Rocky Horror Picture Show Dr Frank-N-Furter RUBBER DUCK Tim Curry (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*

Tim may certainly be best known in that role in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (and the earlier stage show), but here are ten¬†other, lesser-known Tim Curry things I’ve enjoyed:

  • Tim’s Charge It (YouTube video¬†) from his Fearless album
  • Tim in Me and My Girl live on stage
  • Tim on Saturday Night Live
  • Tim on Steven Spielberg’s TV series Earth 2 as Gaal (I thought he deserved an Emmy)
  • Tim as Dr. Frankenstein in a computer game (Through the Eyes of the Monster)
  • Tim in the recent Rocky Horror Picture Show live remake on Fox as The Criminologist: honestly, one of the strongest, bravest things I’ve ever seen
  • Tim (and others, including Alan Cumming) reading Dracula as an audiobook
  • Tim describing his singing style as “loud”
  • Tim’s shout-outs to his daughter as “Sunshine” in his music
  • Tim in¬†the quieter role in The Shout

Happy birthday, Tim!

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

My other current Amazon Giveaways:

===

One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

by my sibling, Kris Calvin

Ten winners

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/e39ec1bca3592757

Start:Apr 8, 2017 12:05 PM PDT
End:Apr 23, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

===

Oh Myyy! ‚Äď There Goes The Internet (Life, the Internet and Everything Book 1) (at AmazonSmile*)

by George Takei (in honor of the actor’s 80th birthday on April 20, 2017)

1 winner

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/0a55a7230ccfd4aa

Start:Apr 11, 2017 3:56 PM PDT
End:Apr 21, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

My interview about (and IN) VR with Len Edgerly…and giveaways!

April 8, 2017

My interview about (and IN) VR with Len Edgerly…and giveaways!

It’s here…and the word “here” may soon have a new meaning. ūüôā

I did an interview with popular podcaster Len Edgerly of

The Kindle Chronicles

about Virtual/Augmented Reality…and at my suggestion, we actually did the interview in VR.

Now, I’m not an expert on VR…I’m a consumer of it. This is different from when I started my

I Love My Kindle

blog back in August of 2009. In that case, I really could bring special expertise. I had been a manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore, and I was a techie from way back, so I had a special insight on electronic books (e-books).

In the case of what I call VAMM** (Virtual/Augmented/Mixed/Merged Reality), I’m coming at it from the point of view of an observer of and commenter on popular culture. I do think that there is a significant Amazon/book element coming to VAMM, and coming fairly soon.

However, in one of my other blogs,

The Measured Circle

I write about movies, TV shows, games (I also managed a brick-and-mortar gamestore), tech…a very wide array.

I think I’m pretty good at understanding pop culture. One year, I called eight of the last nine eliminations on American Idol in order, before any of them happened. My Oscar Prediction contest produces results which tend to be more than 90% accurate (and I do quite well myself). I called (not publicly) the successes of Jim Carrey (based on one interview on TV where he did “facial impressions”), Darryl Hannah (after seeing Bladerunner), Big Brother (before it aired one episode in the USA), and more.

Not that I’m always right…but I’m not always wrong, either, which is saying something. ūüėČ

I’ve been on the Kindle Chronicles several times before¬†and it’s always been a great experience. Len is a former professional journalist, and we shared an enthusiasm for the Kindle.

I noticed Len had been broadcasting in 360, and I knew he was at least dabbling in VAMM. So, a couple of months ago, I suggested that we actually do an interview in VAMM space.

I wasn’t sure at that point how we would do it, but I suggested using

vTime

One reason for that was that I knew you could record VAMM sessions there, which would mean that our audiences could see and hear us later.

Unfortunately, when the time came, that feature (vCast) had been taken offline for improvements.

That created some technical challenges. We both happened to be using Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge phones and the¬†Samsung Gear VR headset (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). That has the built-in ability to take screenshots and record video…but not to record audio

We ended up each recording our audio separately, and then Len put them together. I had a good microphone, and tried a few apps before setting on the free version of

NowSmart

I played around with the settings, and found something I liked.

Apparently, sometimes while I was talking, I had my mouth too far away from the microphone…with the headset on, I wasn’t aware of that, but again, Len was able to boost the sound.

I loved doing the interview!

Avatar with a blue jacket sitting on a rock in a wilderness river

That’s a screenshot of my avatar sitting on a rock in a wilderness river…we were talking about how interacting in VAMM space compared to doing videocalls.

I should mention that my avatar is randomized: hair color, skin color, body type (including gender), and so on. I could have made an avatar that looked very much like me (in fact, I did that at one point), but my regular readers know that I don’t like to identify inherent characteristics…I like people to be known (online) for what they think and feel and how they express it.

My thought is that I’ll randomize a different appearance many times. That was a lot of work: I think it took perhaps half an hour. I can automate that process outside of vTime (by generating random numbers in a spreadsheet, although it would be great if they would just let people pick an entirely random avatar.

I think one error I made was making a choice in every category. I figured that “facial hair” would include a “none” choice, but I don’t think it did. That means my avatar has a hat and glasses, but I need to include a “no glasses” option (for example).

I’ll summarize some of my thoughts on what we discussed, but if you would like to listen (it’s audio only…no special equipment needed) to the whole thing (before or after), it’s here:

TKC 453: Bufo Calvin in Virtual Reality

I’d say the biggest takeaway is that I expect Amazon to get into VAMM significantly before the holidays at the end of this year.

Breaking it down more:

  • Prime Video: I would be shocked if this doesn’t happen…and perhaps by September. I spend more time in VAMM space watching videos (Hulu, Netflix, and others) than doing anything else. Amazon shouldn’t cede all that habit building lead to other services. When Amazon went years without making a profit, Jeff Bezos once said something like “Market share will never be cheaper than it is now”, and that’s the case for VAMM video market share, too
  • An experiences store: this seems pretty likely to me. “Experiences” is the term for VAMM apps. I think it probable that Amazon lets people get experiences through Amazon before the end of the year, but that can be a bit complicated. I would always rather have Amazon process my payments than anyone else…they already have all my info
  • VAMM book reading: I want, want, want this! ūüôā I showed Len a screenshot from the¬†Chimera Reader VR app. It’s not a great way to read books at this point, and Amazon could do that. I wouldn’t say it’s likely, but I want to be at work and be able to read my Kindle books at lunch in a different environment with a virtual book that looks like a paperbook in my hands
  • Amazon VAMM hardware: probably not likely this year, but possible. They could make a headset (I think glasses would be a few years off for Amazon) that would be platform independent
  • Alexa in VAMM: yes! I definitely want to be able to see my calendar events, the weather from Alexa, pulled up by voice in VAMM. However, Alexa as a navigator would also be a big improvement. Getting stuff done in VAMM space, currently, is difficult. You can “eye gaze” to select things, and sometimes use voice input…but I want the latter in a lot more places. I want to be able to ask Alexa to start a specific experience and to do internet searches (I do use the Samsung VR internet browser, and it does voice input…but not as smoothly as Alexa)
  • Shopping in VR: I want a virtual Amazon store to buy things…and ideally, I’d like the option for it to be social, so I can ask other people questions and maybe have Amazon employees virtually present

Now, being in VAMM space wasn’t perfect, by any means. Len disappeared for me a few times…it seemed to me like I was able to be on consistently, ¬†but it’s possible it looked to Len like I disappeared.

The other thing was that I couldn’t have any notes I could see…and I made two big mistakes. I’m usually good and careful about crediting people properly, but in this case, I gave the wrong title for a book and for a video series.

I want to try to make up for that for those two, even though they are properly linked on Len’s site.

What I’ve decided to do is Amazon giveaways.

The first one is for

The Fourth Transformation (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel.

I mistakenly called it “The Fourth Revolution”…there is a popular book by that name, but it’s entirely different. I did identify “Scoble and Israel” as the authors.

I think this a well-written and insightful book by a couple of people with an excellent track record of predicting what will happen with technology as it relates to business. I’ve recommended it to people at my company: I think if you have a major consumer presence and aren’t starting to prepare for VAMM interactions in the next five years, you are missing an opportunity.

I made it a requirement of the giveaway that people follow one of the authors, Robert Scoble, on Amazon…and I’m giving away two (one for ILMK and one for The Measured Circle…or one for Scoble and one for Israel, however you want to see it). ūüėČ

Here is the link for the giveaway:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b079fbab9711319a

The second one is a VR specific comedy series, and I unfortunately really butchered the name (badly enough that I don’t want to repeat it here and mislead people).

The right name is

‚ÄúVirtually Mike & Nora‚ÄĚ

and they really understand what Virtual Reality means (while being funny at the same time). They completely (and intentionally uncomfortably) bring you into the experience. It is a bit racy…maybe “edgy” is better.

Since this is a video series which is part of your Hulu subscription, I needed to find something to giveaway.

I’ve decided to give the same VR headset I gave to a relative:

Blitzwolf VR Headset (at AmazonSmile*)

This is generic, simple headset…nothing fancy, but it did work for my relative. I can’t tell you for sure that you’ll be able to watch

Hulu VR

and therefore Virtually Mike & Nora, but it should be fun even if you can’t. ūüôā It’s going to depend on your phone.

To benefit that very creative duo, I’m requiring that you watch a short YouTube video (under two minutes) from them about the show before you enter.

I’m going to give away one of those, via random draw of the entries during the period.

Here is the link for the giveaway:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/0ab8bc9943c50e4f

Again, my apologies to both pairs of artists…hopefully, this will help discovery of both of these good works.

Finally, I am doing one more unrelated giveaway. I’m giving away ten Kindle versions of my sibling’s 4.6 out of 5-star (at time of writing, with over 100 customer reviews), triple Silver Falchion winning mystery

One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I am requiring that people follow Kris Calvin on Amazon to enter…I want you to know when the second Maren Kane mystery is released, and other titles Kris may do.

Here is the link for the giveaway…feel free to share:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/e39ec1bca3592757

Thanks again to Len for taking the VAMM adventure with me for our interview (interVR?)!

Note: feel free to connect with me in vTime. I’m listed there as Bufo Calvin.

If you have any questions or thoughts about this, you can let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

**VAMMers is my term for people who use Virtual/Augmented/Mixed/Merged Reality: for more information, see Welcome, vammers! Our Virtual/Augmented/Mixed/Merged Reality coverage starts here

Videos in VR: Hulu vs. Netflix

April 7, 2017

Videos in VR: Hulu vs. Netflix

Welcome, VAMMers**!

There is a lot of talk about what might be the “killer app” that gets the average person to want to start using Virtual/Augmented/Mixed/Merged Reality.

Is it going to be a game? Well, in terms of Augmented Reality, Pokemon Go certainly introduced a lot of people to a phone-based version.

What about a headset?

Could it be social experiences, like vTime or AltSpaceVR? Sure, those are good. In fact, I was just interviewed in vTime for Len Edgerly’s popular

The Kindle Chronicles

podcast (the episode should be up tomorrow, Friday, April 7th).

However, I think that the first thing that may really popularize headsets is watching videos.

Yes, that’s right: Netflix and Hulu both have VR apps, and that’s what I do the most in VR.

I’m using the Samsung Gear VR headset (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) with a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

During lunch at work, I like to do “floor exercises” and watch a video (it’s how I watched Stranger Things, for the most part, and I’m now enjoying One Punch Man).

With my headset (and simple earbuds), I can easily watch a video on a giant screen…and put it where I want. If I need it directly on the ceiling, fine. If I want it a 45 degree angle so I can watch My Favorite Martian while doing crunches, great.

The screen is like a movie theatre screen in size…well, that can be adjustable, but much bigger than a big screen TV. The resolution seems fine. The sound is what you would expect through headphones.

So, as it often does, in comparing two software applications, it comes down to the content and the interface.

Looking at Hulu versus Netflix, it’s clear that one is innovating more than the other.

Netflix VR is surprisingly limited compared to Hulu VR. Not in terms of content: they both have the videos they would normally have.

However, that’s one of the first places there is a real differentiation. Hulu also has VR specific content…and not just “experiences” like swimming with bears (that’s a real one). They also have VR scripted content, which can be quite good.

When you first enter Hulu, you have a choice of “TV” (which includes movies) and “VR”.

The Netflix interface is very much like what you would see in the app on, say, a Fire TV (if you ignore the virtual room and just consider the screen).

On Netflix, you have two environments: the “living room” or the Void Theatre. The latter is what lets you position the screen: one thing about VR, the environment knows where your head actually is. You can’t just swipe a screen on to the ceiling, since it know where the ceiling is and is trying to keep you level. You have to go the Void first.

How do you get to the Void?

That’s something that really points out a weakness in many VR experiences: a lack of explanation. That’s not uncommon when a new medium is becoming popular. In this case, I had to look it up online. You look straight up at the ceiling, and when you are in the right spot, you tap the touchpad on the side of your headset.

Not intuitive.

Once you’ve done that, you get two significant new icons: travel mode and the ability to change the size of the screen.

I don’t find travel mode that useful…the screen tracks where you are looking and moves to stay in front of you, which would be great if it did that at a reasonable speed. Instead, it’s slow: it feels a bit like trying to take a three-month old puppy for a walk. ūüėČ

Resizing the screen is nice.

That’s about it for Netflix.

On the other hand, Hulu has four main environments, and they also have sub-varieties. For example, their “Beach” environment can be day, night, sunset, storm, or “Day Night”.

The four choices at time of writing are

  • Modern Living Room
  • Movie Theater
  • The Void
  • The Beach

The screen also seems to be able to snap more quickly to a new orientation than Nelix does.

Perhaps most significantly, you can access Hulu from Oculus Rooms…which means that you can view a show with up to three other people, even if those people don’t have a Hulu account. Social video viewing is a thing (think of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and viewing parties…and Hulu does do some current TV season episodes): Hulu has it, and Netflix doesn’t.

In the current state of play, Hulu wins on the VR experience (you’ll have to judge the content yourself…I do watch both apps in VR).

What about

Amazon Video (Prime and otherwise) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

?

Nothing.

I can’t imagine that they won’t have some Prime Video presence in VR before the end of this year (announced by the holiday season). As Len and I discussed, and as I predicted in my I Love My Kindle blog, I expect Amazon to make a pretty big movie into VAMM space this year.

One last thing: there are many other video options in VR, especially if you use a browser (like Samsung’s VR internet browser). We’ve even started a site here at The Measured Circle:

You can eye gaze (or look and click) on some public domain videos there…and I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of watching the very old Captain Video in the very new VR. ūüôā

In the next five years, I think some people will watch the majority of their video in VAMM space…and the majority of streaming video users will have done it at least once.

Have other questions or comments? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

** VAMMers is my term for people who use Virtual/Augmented/Mixed/Merged Reality: for more information, see Welcome, vammers! Our Virtual/Augmented/Mixed/Merged Reality coverage starts here


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