Travel broadens the mind – Japan Part 1 Tokyo

This year has been pretty full with travel mostly with work but also with a fantastic family trip. The work trips included January to Boston, February it was Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Las Vegas for an IBM event in March, end of April it was Hannover and I just got back from Santa Clara, California from an IoT event. Nestled in there between Vegas and Hannover at the start of April was the family trip to Japan. This was a 50th birthday gift from my wife that I received the previous August. It seemed to take an age coming, partly with all the other travel before it, but was well worth the wait.
We headed out from Heathrow airport stopping by Heston’s airline food place in the terminal

Heston at Heathrow

Our first stop was Tokyo (ignoring the part about the very long flight as I just zone out and get on with that now)
We arrived to be met by the local representative, as this was all book through the wonderful Trailfinders company. He presented us with all the train tickets and schedule reminders and navigated us to the hotel (we chose a to pay for a taxi though we had train tickets as … you know a long flight!). Driving through the Tokyo roads the place looked and felt just right, it was not even too crowded or busy. The taxi driver was wearing white gloves (no picture of that but it just came to mind)
We were staying in Park Hotel at the Shiodome Media Tower which was ideally situated for the train lines.

Park Hotel

The hotel took up the top floors of what a media office block but its internal atrium style made it feel miles away from anything.

Park Hotel

We still had some time to explore after arriving before crashing out, so we went for a walk.

Tokyo Sunset

Being in the media part of the city there was some interesting art. Which kind of hints at the wonderful Japanese mix of efficiency and buttoned down approach to life combined with a great expression of art and culture and the joy of life.

Odd Sculptures

Right near all the polished skyscrapers we found this district full of small arcades and shops. The loud noise of the pachinko places, where thousands of small ball bearing ping around pins was noticeable. We did not go in as they don’t allow under 18’s in to these gambling areas, despite the bright lights and manga window dressing.

Near the hotel

So here we were in Tokyo, ready for the adventure

Family in Japan

As expected, vending machines were everywhere, this was just round from the shops. Hot and cold cans of drink of all sorts.

Vending machines

Across from the hotel they were shooting a kids TV show, I was going to try and join in for old time’s sake 🙂

Japan trip

It made for an odd skyline picture but again, so very Japanese in its contrast and blending at the same time.

Character Hiding

With the potential confusion of a language that we have almost no possibility to read or speak with any degree of competence we had a guide show us around Tokyo on the first day. This was also great to be able to talk about the differences and similarities in our cultures. I learned an awful lot from our guide and we also shared our perspectives. One of the key things that we learned was about the religious side of life. Japan has both Shinto and Buddhist culture, plus a smattering of other things like christian churches. However the key is that there seems to be no specific religious tension, it is not a choice of believing or not in one or the other, the Japanese people have absorbed both, or all. Our guide said asking someone what religion they were in Japan would be a confusing question, as its melded and just all part of life. Shinto shrines are typically marked by the typical square arch, with rope and white flags and buddhism has ornate temples, they co-exist.
We first went to a temple though, obviously a tourist trap with lots of shops around it, but at the same time oddly tranquil despite the crowds. We were shown how to cleanse our hands with water and make an offering and a prayer. It did not, as an atheist feel hypocritical nor like being a tourist, just blending in.

Tokyo tour

Tokyo Temple

We were lucky enough to see some of the famous cherry blossom

Cherry Blossom

We also got to see a very rare art exhibition of panel paintings, not photos of those, but they were stunning. All telling various Japanese samurai stories and fables. The art style being 2d and not using perspective, yet at the same time feeling flowing and in motion.

Escaping hustle and bustle we entered the Japanese garden next to temple. The aim of these is to recreate elements of nature, ponds are lakes and sea, rocks represent mountain ranges.

Garden

Like our pond at home, lots of Koi

Koi

The garden is very old, again part of the absorbing of the old and new that the culture seems suited to.

Tokyo tour

Right next door, in the same grounds as the temple this was our first view of a Shinto shrine, we did not visit this particular one as we had more of that to come.

Shinto

We took a boat trip back to our next destination, but our guide pointed out these buildings and highlighted the symbolism that is often used. The Horns on the building in the background are the logo of the beer company, the building to its left has golden windows and a white top, representing a glass of beer!

Beer building

we were heading to another park, in the background one of those buildings is our hotel.

Park

The park offered more peace and quite from the hustle of the city

Cherry Blossom

Park

We were heading to a tea house, where we had our first tach of Matcha (Green tea). This is not the normal weak green tea, but frothy almost broth. Sweet paste is eaten first then the more sour tea is slurped down.

Matcha

No chairs (or shoes)

Tea house

Tea House

On leaving we saw one of the original 60’s capsule architecture examples. Still nestled in and preserved and absorbed.

Capsule architecture

Then it was up to a very high floor to have a meal.

High up

They did have an english menu but our guide talked us through this

Menu

It was also really nice to get this, and odd as I had forgotten it was now april 2018 and my birthday was in August 17 🙂

Birthday

An yes there were robots, Softbank’s Pepper made an appearance on this trip a few times

Pepper

In Tokyo, whilst navigation may have been a worry, once you get there its pretty easy, every is labelled and numbers and signs tend to have English too.

Sign

We went past or through a shopping district and ended up in a toy shop, thousands of collectibles. Including dancing storm troopers

Star Wars

I nearly bought this wonderful predator Mr Potato Head, but showed some restraint. In Second Life my full name is epredator potato, just to add to the serendiptiy! I bought a mini Deadpool instead.

Tokyo trip

We were headed to the main Shinto shrine, we were shown how our guide respectfully crossed each arched boundary, at the side of each, bowing with respect as we got deeper into the shrine.Not something everyone was doing by any stretch, but it seemed the right approach.

Shinto entrance

Organisations have barrels of Sake and of Whiskey stored as an offering for good luck and prosperity.

Sake Barrels

Whiskey

The centre of the shrine was a very large structure and area.

Shrine

Then for utter contrast we were taken to the “teenagers” favourite shopping street and hangout. An utterly crammed area that we battled around so that the kids could take a look, but I was very glad to escape.

Teenager alley

Tokyo tour

We then hopped on the train back to our hotel.

Train

I didn’t photograph all my food, but there is more of this later. Stunning textures and colours and presentation on every dish we ate everywhere

Soup

The next day we were on our own heading out into the city

Japan Tokyo day 2

More to come…….

The entire album of photos (all 550+ of course!) https://flic.kr/s/aHskBD8Lbw

Blaming MWC for missed anniversary! 9th Year of Feeding Edge

Somehow we have ended up in March, almost as if February with its short number of days decided to sneak past us all. February is an important month for Feeding Edge as that is the birthday month. This 9th year I managed to not find the time to post and celebrate like every other year In part this is because of all the preparation for heading to Mobile World Congress this year in Barcelona. I had not had the chance to attend this show before, but this time my 451 Research and IoT and AR/VR analyst work took me there, along with a lot of my colleagues.
The scale of the event and the major venue the Fira Gran in Barcelona was pretty amazing, 8 very large halls with a good 30 min walk from end to end if you didn’t stop or go into any halls. A major surprise was that it was very cold and snowed for the first time. Not ideal !

Warm sunny Barcelona #mwc2018

The analyst life is not one of joyfully hopping from stand to stand enjoying the great shows, but one of 30 min meetings every 30 mins usually 30 mins away from one another. All the big shows suffer from this, but equally we get to hear a lot of great stuff. There are the odd times when meetings move or there is a gap but in general every day is like this. Also I started the show off with moderating a presentation set on stage, so had to hold off on the dashing and do more of the imparting of information to a large crowd in an auditorium all looking to hear about IoT Security and Blockchain

A lot of walking and half that time talking #mwc2018

The best way to get from hall to hall is on the top corridor

MWC 2018

You may think of MWC as a mobile phone selling show but it is getting much more like CES with lots of huge stands and gadgets and of course cars.

MWC 2018

F1 had a significant presence too.

MWC 2018

MWC 2018

Including an esports racing challenge

MWC 2018

There was an awful lot of AR and VR on stands across the board, lots of 360 video such as Intel showing Shaun White’s gold winning winter olympic run.
Elsewhere I saw this AR based race track demo

MWC 2018

MWC 2018

A few hololens made an appearance too

MWC 2018

Make of this poster what you will

MWC 2018

Our robot masters made an appearance in a number of shapes and sizes, though AI was big news to go along with IoT and Blockchain at the event. i.e. my day job 🙂

MWC 2018

MWC 2018

MWC 2018

It was great to see the Kickstarter smartwatch with real hands that I backed have a presence at the show too – MyKronoz

MWC 2018

MWC 2018

Makes one feel a little space out!

MWC 2018

I nearly did not get home, and I know some other UK people actually didn’t so I think myself luck as we had snow. Lots of it for us. It meant driving the Nissan Leaf around to help Predlet 1.0 do her paper round, and one other round too for several hours on Basingstoke estate roads.

White stuff

Predlet 1.0 got her round and one other today so we drove around in this delivering papers.

So I think that makes a memorable belated 9th birthday. I will have to pay close attention to the decade of Feeding Edge next year, a bit more travel to do first though, Vegas, Japan, Hannover, Santa Clara takes me to June. Now if I can get everyone I meet to also just take a look at Reconfigure and Cont3xt and post a nice review that would be most useful. It may even help book 3 making its way from the back of my brain to the page.

Happy New Ye#AR – Welcome 2018

These years just tick away don’t they? Last year finished in a big rush of work with reports to get out before I took the rest of my holiday that was sitting there ready to expire. I was really please that I got my AR and VR long form report out for 415 customers. These a 6k or words and pictures but I was not expecting to be in a position to share Augmented and Virtual reality insights quite as much as I have this past year. It is what I know, and what I feel or course, but there are a lot more things in IoT especially in Industrial to try and stay on top of. However, AR is the UI for IoT, so there it is. It was over 18 years ago trying to get a shared avatar space of our offices working with presence of people, at the turn of the century! The along came Second Life, which made things a lot easier in 2006.
2017 was supposed to be the VR year, and it sort of was, but also AR is hot on its tail and finally Magic leap, on the 20th December unveiled their AR goggles.Yes, that was just a few days AFTER I managed to ship to AR/VR report with the words, “we shall have to wait and see what they do” in it. Though the shut down of Tango, which I did get in as an amendment waved the flag that would happen.

No prices, not dates, other than 2018, but its a jump in technology with light field (hopefully)

We are also very close to Ready Player One hitting the screen, which will be the main point of reference for escapist VR with Spielberg directing. So it seems all the future thinking stuff we have all been doing is going mainstream to some degree or other.

Apple ARKit and Google ARCore put AR tracking into the hands of everyone with every mainstream device too.

Maybe a few more people will spot my novels and enjoy them with all the AR and VR, IoT and Quantum theory in them 🙂

So it looks like being a good year.
Enjoy !

Stack of new tech to catch up on! Games, watches, Mocap and old age

Yes its been a few months, but as I write for a living about tech elsewhere it is a bit of a busman’s holiday to blog, but I intend to keep going, Sept and Oct were just very busy, travel and more holidays. All that and turning 50 at the end of August! What the hack happened there, where did that come from? Thanks all for all the comments and best wishes on Facebook and Twitter. Plenty more years left yet!

One of my presents was a trip with predlet 2.0 to the NFL game at Wembley, I had got him playing Madden on Xbox and he was all up for the game and how it worked which was fantastic.
NFL london
The game was a weird one full of incredible errors on both sides and the favourites, the Dolphins lost, which was quite amusing. Though all teams were supported, as you can see some cheeseheads in the background.

My kickstarted watch arrived yesterday, the Mykronoz Zetime. Now I do have an Apple Watch, but didn’t;t when this was first an thing to invest/preorder. This swiss based watch is a traditional watch with real hands, a good solid engineered feel to it too. However under the hands is a screen that can display watch faces and information. Regular buttons and/or touch screen interaction work. It paired with my iPhone and its apps so pretty much just works. When you get a message and need to read it the hands file to 9:15 to not obscure the text, then wind back to the time when you exit. It is supposed to have a 30 day battery life as a watch and 3 days burning smartwatch features. Heart rate monitor and movement sensing are all part of it too. I thin it will be more of a posher dress watch or just to show off at IoT conferences 🙂
Just arrived
Mykronoz smartwatch
Mykronoz smartwatch
Mykronoz smartwatch

Today my Enflux motion capture suite arrived too. This top and trousers stretchy contraption has every sensors that track body movement and connect to blender and unity3d on Windows using BLTE. I am not posting pictures of me wearing it just yet, need to loose a few stone first ! However the connection and mocap calibration just worked straight away. I will see how well it works to record Choi, compared to the Kinect experiments of old
Enflux mocap suit
Here is how it records in unity3d

I had an interesting time ate the Augmented World Expo in Munich a few weeks ago too. AR is really getting embedded in a lot of enterprise solutions and the future is rosy for that as the user interface for IoT 🙂
I did get to appear (just) in the Meta headset demo on stage.
I am sitting here in the meta workspace demo #ar #awe2017

Also I got to see and feel the very clever effect of the light field displays from Avegant in a private showing.

On the games front. Wow, we are in the midst of a bumper crop of interesting things. Forza 7 on the Xbox is brilliant as usual, and they have kept the importing of the custom car gfx which means I get to quickly repaint my cars 🙂 Only picture I have handy is a stock paint set in the rain.

Mordor and Assassins Creed follow ups both giving a good deal of baddy bashing and climbing up things. Both huge games and probably never to be finished.

Double Mario on the Switch, first the turn based strategy mashup with the Rabbids, which proved to be far better than I expected and one of my favourites now, and a few days ago Super Mario Odyssey, giving Zelda a run for its money, though obviously more arcade like.

These need their own posts and comments but I think I will wait until the arrival of the Xbox One X in a few days hopefully.

I have had some really nice comments about the books too, still a few billion people to sell them too and a third one to find the time and energy to write 🙂

Vancouver then a Van

We just got back from an amazing holiday in North West Canada. Whilst jet lag is still kicking me and tomorrow I may forget everything as I turn 50, I though it best to record some thoughts now.

Apple Watch knows we have arrived

Firstly 4 days in Vancouver felt so relaxing that it was like we had lived there for ages. We did a fair bit of course, cycled around Stanley Park
Vancouver - Stanley park and Gastown
We also got on a sea plane to Victoria, where we then boarded a Zodiac rib in dry suits to blast out into the sea and get sighting of Orcas – Killer Whales.
Planes
Zodiac rib
The dry suits were not very dry though !
Wet after 3 hours or a watching in awesome choppy seas on a rib
We found some great places to eat in Vancouver and got some great recommendations from friends too. I marched us off to have korean shaved ice – Bingsoo
Bingsoo
As a home form home the predlets experienced yet more VR
Vancouver
The science museum was great too
Vancouver
Vancouver
We all enjoyed that.
Then we went for another holiday, completely different we hired an RV for 12 nights
RV in BC
Just a 7 birth, 9m long, 3m high and wide V10 mega beast, or so we though until we got to see the other campers.
We headed off on what ended up being a 2500km drive to multiple sites.
We managed to go and get supplies at a local Walmart but this was not where we were supposed to park!
RV in BC
The first was by a lake and had no hookup for the van, but it did have Canada geese and play park for the kids

RV in BC

RV in BC

RV in BC

The second site had a swimming pool and full van hook up. It is odd to be flushing sewage at the side of the van down a big pipe next to where the other people are having their breakfast, but that’s camping !

RV in BC

The inside of the van was bigger than the hotel room, or so it felt sometimes

Travelling

We stopped on the long 3-4 hour journeys to admire the trees and sights

Canada

Canada

We then headed to Lake Louise, a campsite by the river. With Bears.

Canada

Canada

Canada

We walked into town by the river

Canada

We took the bus to the actual lake, where it was a bit misty

Canada

Where we then walked 3 km up a big hill to mirror lake, not many people with us there.

Canada

This fella was though

Canada

When we got back down the mist had cleared

Canada

Elemming had booked afternoon tea at the Fairmont as a complete contrast to the hiking and camping

Canada

We then headed to the pst famous road in Canada that runs Lake Louse to Jasper. A long 400km run to Hinton but fantastic road and fantastic scenery such as the glacier

Lake Louise to jasper

more waterfalls

Lake Louise to jasper

and water

Lake Louise to jasper

Driving the view was great but not easy to take photos, but stops I got them.

Lake Louise to jasper

We arrived near Jasper, in the rain. It all seemed a bit UK camping like.

Untitled

Still, they had Wifi

Untitled

And weird beer cans

Beer can

When the rain cleared it was quite spectacular.

Untitled

We had a day of nothing, doing nothing at all. It was great.

Then it was Elemming’s birthday.

Happy birthday

So we went up a cable car and walked up the top of Jasper’s Whistler mountain. The cloud kept rolling and and rolling away it was very spooky. As was the big fat Marmot that laughed at us on the way up.

Jan's birthday - Mountains and hot springs

This is where we walked from, the cable car stop in the distance

Jan's birthday - Mountains and hot springs

Then once again for contrast we drove off to the hot springs and sat in boiling hot water with hundred of others

Jan's birthday - Mountains and hot springs

The next day we were travelling but I made a pinhole camera out of the beer box in case we got a clear sky for the Solar Eclipse (we didn’t)

Pinhole beer box

As we drove along it went dusk like, very steadily, car headlights got very much brighter. Once it was done we stopped for a cuppa

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We made the next KOA campsite at clearwater it had another swimming pool too.

Clearwater

We drove up a smallish mountain road, it got a bit bumpy towards the end and got to watch Salmon jumping the falls. Predlet 1.0 managed to catch a phot but I was just watching. Saw 5 all in all. Very cool

Elemming saw a bear n the way up too.

Clearwater

There were an amazing set of Waterfalls to view all very varied

Clearwater

Clearwater

Clearwater

Clearwater

There were some great places to eat here too

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Our next stop was on the way to whistler it was a bit more desert like, and apparently was closed due to the wildfires two weeks previous.

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Whistler

We then headed to Whistler the final stop arrived to a watch out there are bears warning again

Whistler

After a stroll into town we were in civilisation again, with olympic park.

Whistler

We rode two chair lifts (yuk) up the first mountain

Whistler

Then the peak 2 peak in gondola across to Whistler. The worlds longest of its type. only two posts holding it up. we avoided the glass bottom gondola.

Whistler

A long way up/down

Whistler

More olympic rings

Whistler

Stunning views

Whistler

Then a gondola back down (phew) I really don’t like chair lifts especially with a snowboard on.

Whistler

The final day was a 4×4 trip up Whislter to look for bears

Whistler

We saw Slumber, a 21 year old male for about 40 mins, it was amazing how he could melt away into almost no grass or trees then pop up a head to look at us whilst he ate berries. iPhones are not great for that sort of photo but here he is.

Whistler

We saw some awesome cycle parks too

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After a slap up meal and beer in El Furniture Warehouse (a happening place it seems) we drove back to Vancouver. Suddenly hitting traffic was a shock but the van was undaunted and undented

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2500 km sat here.

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Timing was a bit odd then as we had to drop the van at 11am but flight was 9pm. So we sat at the airport and watched our screens

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Once we were able to drop the bags the predlets got to play chess.

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And that was that. Luckily after the drive, the wait and the flight and no sleep we had a bank holiday monday to recover.

The whole trip was amazing, I still don’t like camping, too much faffing around but I am glad we did it and saw the things we saw.
The big van fitted the big scenario too.

The whole album of photos is here. Probably missed a few so may do a search for the lost ones 🙂

Canada 2017

30th Year of Choi Kwang Do and 2nd Dan Grading

This week sees the 30th year of Choi Kwang Do as a martial art. Many from the art are travelling to Atlanta for the celebrations. we were not in a position to go with this the last week of school and work commitments, but I think we managed to celebrate in our own way.
A few sunday’s ago predlet 2.0 and I stepped onto the floor of the dojang in Farnborough to face our biggest challenge yet in Choi Kwang Do. Together we went through the grading for our EE Dan (2nd Degree) Black Belts. We shared the floor with other students heading for their 1st Dan. It was an amazing and gruelling experience with 2.5 hours of full on effort. Also Predlet 1.0 took her tag grading for 1st Dan blue tag afterwards, which is about another year or so until she will be doing her 2nd Dan. She may well be doing that at the same time as Jan does her 1st Dan too, another family double grading. To do 2nd Dan you have to also effectively do 1st Dan again, then add another layer to that. These gradings are as much a test of mental strength as they are of physical conditioning. Remaining focussed but remembering what to do and to be as flowing as possible whilst still delivering aggressive energy is a challenge. I know during the course of my patterns my mind lots its way for one set, and in speed drills I transposed two of the kicks in the wrong order. The experience from the 1st Dan of something similar helped a great deal as that is the time to reset, acknowledge it and get on with it. There is to much to do to be annoyed or worried about mistakes. An extra problem this time ardour was the humidity. It was pushing 30C outside the hall and Doboks are heavy fabric that soak up a lot of sweat. During our spinning kicks though I kept having to move around a bit as a slippery puddle was forming under my feet and falling over risks not only losing focus but injury towards the start. For most of the grading we were shuffled around in the line up to avoid predlet 2.0 and I being next door to one another which can be a distraction. However for the 2nd Dan elements it was just us. He is so fast at his patterns that it can throw me as I he is 1 or 2 ahead but we had practiced that so I learned to try and ignore him and focus on mine. This is tricky when you are combining being a proud or concerned dad, an instructor and a fellow student doing their own thing all in one. You also have the amazing panel of very experienced chief instructors and Masters watching your every move and family and friends behind you also watching. Unlike being on stage or TV though this does not feel like a performance, it is important to try and suppress the performance elements, so I find a different me and try and work internally, but being human its hard not to look up and wonder what anyone is thinking, am I doing it right? am I letting my teacher down. These fleeting moments can interrupt the flow that one is trying to achieve whilst also managing heart rate and breathing to give maximum effort but not take everything from the tank for the rest of the grading. We all managed to achieve our goals though.
2nd dan
I had spent a good few months focussing on conditioning, PACE training and doing full sets of curriculum in order to be ready. On the Monday before the grading I had tried to do almost a full grading of techniques, patterns and speed drills plus some heavy work on the bag and BoB but with a few more breaks and lots of water just to rehearse enough. My in class preparation from Master Scrimshaw and with my fellow students set the foundations for being able to do this. It is certainly not something you just turn up to and hope you can do it. After my various teeth extractions at the start of the year my energy levels had dropped and a few months ago in class at Basingstoke CKD I couldn’t do even just the kicks in order at a good pace without a water break. That was my Rocky steps moment, each training session I explored how much of that I could do until that full set on the Monday.
These are incredible experiences and I am really appreciative of the instructors and masters who give up their time to run these gradings on a Sunday. The feedback and advice before and after is always very useful and the ecouragment partnering for some of the energy sapping drills really helps too. I am really please for predlet 2.0 too. At 10 he has achieved not 1 but 2 black belts and is enjoying the next stage of the journey too. He was worn out for the week after this (as we both were) which given how energetic he normally is indicated the effort he put in too.
We did it - 2nd dan black belts in Choi Kwang do. More to learn still #ckd4life
These belts represent a milestone in a journey, they are called degree’s because they are the result of many years of study and practice. They are as much about mental strength as physical and whilst the belt is an external indicator it is the feeling and sense of achievement that is inside that counts. It is also a reminder of how much there is yet to learn, each belt brings new challenges, chapters in a book, and the black belts are like a whole new book in a series. I remember my first grading and at white belt, thinking how can I get through this it is hard. 1st to 2nd Dan is the same feeling. Yet each technique that is learned works on the base of those very first techniques and the attitude to them. They are all equally as important, and learning new things makes the previous new things seem familiar. Familiarity doesn’t become complacency though, ever time you think “I’ve got this” a new twist, distraction or realization makes itself known.
As we say in Choi, Pil Seung! and a very happy 30th anniversary to everyone.

Oculus Rift and Touch controllers – rapid evolution of VR

Having primarily engaged in console gaming the past few years I thought it was about time we had a decent spec PC in the house again. I decided on a high end MSI laptop with a glowing keyboard and UHD screen to level up the house tech. The predlets have been enjoying it too, getting to use a mouse (A high end logitech gaming mouse) to engage with some different types of games has been good for them. The Mac’s and Minecraft are one thing but it seems the high end Windows 10 stuff seems to be more reliable than my previous windows experiences. The Upgraded 10 from 8 on my older laptop (which was a good spec a few years ago) was appalling and crashy. It did work a bit though for the early access Kickstarter for Elite Dangerous and my original Oculus headsets the 1 and the DK2 did work (with a bit of faffing). Watching these original headsets evolve into todays product has been fascinating
Dk1 and dk2
SO with a new PC in the house I took the plunge and got the Oculus Rift and also the Touch controllers. It was the latter that really elevates the Rift from its previous incarnations. Now, with two sensors, it can triangulate the position of the headset and the controllers in a much bigger space. In fact it is more space than we have free even in the relatively open kitchen area. You don’t have to have a big space, some things are designer to be seated to standing in one place, but being able to draw the boundaries of the space and be notified of them in the headset (with a virtual mesh wall that appears) takes this much further than my previous home experiences, even with the PSVR.
The screen display resolution and refresh rate as you turn and move is much more comfortable than the PSVR, reducing some of the the nausea inducing effects of VR.
But what about the content? Well… As an old hand at VR and virtual it is still great to be able to put a headset on and just laugh or gasp at the impact these things can have.

Robo Recall – Comes with the setup, bright city environments and sneaker robots running at you. Using the Touch controllers you grab pistols from your side or shotguns from your back and blast away. You can catch and deflect incoming bullets, and if the bad guys get to close, drop the guns nd grab the machines and pull their arms off. You play in a single place, but turn a lot (risky with the cable) and teleport, which takes some getting use to as you have to orientate. It sees you ducking an dodging firing two directions at a time or putting 2 guns together and blam! Its very good!

SuperHot VR – This is even better! The original console SuperHot with its stylised orange characters and minimalist whist building structures sees you only have time progress when you move. The same applied in VR but you have head and body movement combined with both hands to deal with the incoming attacks. If you want to feel like John Wick, play this. Dodging, punching, catching guns dropped by bad guys and turning and dispatching those behind you is just superb. You have to be very careful of the swinging punches and and the gaming area border. It’s great defence training for my martial art, just a pity I can’t kick too.

Facebook Spaces – I created my avatar, I have a table in a room, at a fixed location, I can take pictures with a selfie stick and video called the family from there. It was very exciting, in many ways a backwards step from Second Life experiences but with a honed physical experience due to the headset. Roll on getting the two principles fully working, free moving, construction in virtual space with social interaction. (Yes I know there are few trying it 🙂 ) I also have bot tried the Oculus Rooms.

Google Tilt Brush – This is a beautiful experience. Painting and splashing colours and effects around in a full 3d Space. My attempt is not going to win any prizes but it felt very good. The Dobok should be white but I had picked a blue like white but in a white lit environment I did not notice

The Climb – This was a favourite for Predlet 1.0, 2.0 had a go too but VR is not good under 13’s according to the blurb. Reaching up and across with the touch controllers is very physical.

Predlet 1.0 rock climbing #vr

Elite Dangerous – It is a lot better with the higher resolution, it was hard to read the screens on DK2 and with the early betas from kickstarts of the game. Now, Wow! Also the Xbox controller schema on a headset is a lot easier to deal with than when I had my fancy stick but couldn’t see all the buttons. Elite still stick in my memory from the early release in VR when my screen cracked and I was on reserve oxygen, and found myself regulating my breathing in real life. That is a gaming moment I will remember for ever and is an example of the impact this level of immersion can have.

Star Trek Bridge Crew – Well I have that on the PSVR, but I am tempted to get it for the Rift too as there is cross play and I can friend myself of PSVR and see if we can get a 2 player team going 🙂

There are more experiences and games to explore of course but this cross section is pretty cool. I need to clear some more space for SuperHot VR and I did destroy the kitchen notice board with a side fist, but I caught the bad guys wagon and turned and used it on those attacking from the other side, with destroying the fridge too. Another memorable gaming moment too 🙂

I had a few issues getting the Rift to play movies, I used the virtual desktop but Amazon and Netflix didn’t want to stream out to another HDMI device. All very old school copy protection, or a setting I missed.

What’s missing is fully body, lets just hook a Kinect up so we can see legs too ? The dynamics of physical gaming come back into play, but in a tethered and potentially dangerous way, despite the boundary protection. The solution is far from ideal, but if it was about practicality…

My biggest problem is having to pack away and set up again each time with both sensors, it’s a barrier to entry even in a house that has quite a lot of room. It would also be handy if my phone and sms alerts that appear on my apple watch popped up in the view too 🙂

The proper games though are fantastic. The “Experiences” are usually way too short though Spiderman (free) is way way better than the utterly appalling Martian one (Paid) from a few years ago. Onwards!

Sci-fi coming true with AR and Quantum communication – Wake up World

Recently the fledgling AR industry got a bit of a boost with the announcement of Apple’s AR kit. This bit of software layering is supported by Unity3d and Unreal, to name a few, and puts some AR elements directly into the OS of the Iphone and iPad. That of course is a bit of a problem for the many other AR toolkits that have been around for some time, but these things happen. Developers are already diving in an making interesting things, such as this Minecraft style tech demo

The ability to position and accurately keep track of objects in the the camera view of the World is a core part of what happens in my novels, including the “how to build stuff in unity3d” parts of Roisin’s inner dialogue. Of course the bits of how she gets to instrument the world if is a bit further off, but as Quantum communication is getting closer and, well that leaves just a little sliver of fiction left that powers the stories 🙂

These things add to the amazing amount of tech out there to keep track off and understand, something my IoT analyst day job keeps me very busy doing. Luckily (well by design really) my research agenda incorporates AR and VR and whatever XR comes along so I am still able to build on all these many years of being in the business of virtual. It is surprising how many companies are deep into it, but still keep it a little quiet, probably out of the same embarrassment or resistance we back in 2006 showing Second Life as an integration platform with both people and real World data, but oh…. it had colourful graphics and game like features, how could that be “serious”. It still makes me laugh to think of the resistance to it, as with the web, e-commerce and social media. The same is happening with blockchain, AI, IoT, autonomous vehicles. Lots of stuck in the mud attitudes, it will never catch on…(a few years pass) oh look my entire business has been disrupted…. why didn’t I listen…
Anyway, keep an open mind on tech and its interaction with society, it’s not all version numbers and installations, people are in the mix and very much part of whatever ecosystem is forming. Why not read the sci fi adventures whilst they are still fiction, look back in a few years and it will like a documentary. (That’s by design not accident BTW)
Reconfigure is the place to start there are some links on the right 🙂 Enjoy the future.

More instrumented training – Hykso, CKD, Power tests

I was probably not expecting this blog to end up as a gym bore, but as this is tech and IoT related but blends with Choi Kwang Do I think it can be excused. Number are all relative, regardless of the units or apparent speeds and counts they need to have previous states to compare them to in order to make sense. (Something we see all the time in IoT analytics 🙂 )
I have had a few sessions of the 2min, 1min, 30 sec punches to see how the punch count and power is affected, plus to track if I am getting anywhere with the training. I have also mixed and matched going for power with just sheer punch count, both variant of a PACE drill for hi intensity bursts. I am not neglecting the kicks or other techniques, but theses are what I can record.
Over a few session I tried 3x1min30 rounds with the aim to get the punch count consistent and fast across each. Around the 3rd go at this I managed to get over 200 strikes per round and the same 8mph avg velocity across them.
The recording of what was a straight or a power shot is a little distorted as I am not using boxing strikes so may be confusing the kit. It does show favouring the right 366 strikes to 246. Even when I thought I was using both side equally, so that is a handy insight. It is probably the really fast combinations have an extra start and stop on the right so I can work on that. Thats 136 strikes per minute, which is wonderfully surprising to be able to achieve. I will revise that as a bench mark in elements of the training, to see if power increases over time.
The other metric was to start to do PACE rounds with decreasing amounts of time
From bottom up 2 min, 1 min, 30 second and 15 second pace drill with kicks only punches logged #ckd4life
In this one (above) the First round at the bottom is 2mins steady heavy but controlled strikes, 91 at avg 16.7 mph (Twice the velocity of impact of the flat out drills). Each session then seeks to up the pace but reduce the time. This worked out quote well as the velocity only dropped from 16.7 to 11.5 but it still meant a punch rate of 172 per second on the 15 second flat out round.

After this I went back to flowing pattern drills and gave my body a rest from impacts, but just out of interest when I was the most relaxed I tried pure concentrated power. By this time there is not energy to think about hitting hard, only relaxed efficient movement, which is what the aim is to produce.
The following was 16 strikes going up from punches to reverse knifehand.
Power test front punches, then reverse knife and round after pace drill #ckd4life
The punches came out at 19mph but the reverse knife hand hit 45 mph. Whether these numbers are right I am not sure, but previously a standard punch was registering at 10mph when I was not so worn out, and a reverse knifehand was 24mph.
To be scientific, I isolated these again. So this is right at the end of a training session. Both right and left rear hand rear inward punches (with a stance change) followed by right and left hand rear reverse knifehand. Just 4 strikes, and sure enough it registered in a similar.
Hykso data #ckd4life
2 punches at 22 and two reverse knife hands one at 54mph and one at 47mph.
What this shows is that the principles of our training in being as relaxed as possible to generate as much power as possible, whilst they often feel at odds with one another, are in fact true. Fluidity of motion comes with years and years of practice, but wearing yourself out a little beforehand helps you practice technique in the right way.
It is nice to also just get away from the numbers and get into the patterns and the mindset too, focussing on targets can be distracting so its good to mix and match.
Pil Seung!

Nintendo Switch – fancy but fun

Friday my dark grey Nintendo Switch arrived. I had not bothered with the Wii U, in fact it marked the first console I had not bought for a long while. The Switch however, well it looked too good to pass up. Especially the gadgetabulous transforming nature of it. Of course there was also the new Zelda, getting rave previews for being such an engaging open world evolution too. I figured with all the work travels I do now it would be good to have some quality gaming in my backpack.
Nintendo Switch

The Switch is an iPad sized screen with a few buttons on it, but it comes with a docking station that HDMI’s it into the TV. Two small controllers slide and click and slide onto the sides of the screen making it very good for gaming, unlike an iPad where no tactile response, or simply your hands being in the way destroy the experience in anything other than turn based combat. The controllers are also not just buttons, but gyro and vibration sensing with very intricate rumble packs for feedback too. One of the appeals of the controllers is that whilst you can use them together, either on the unit or slid into a joypad frame, they can also be used by two different people. So you have an instant 2 (or more with the various combinations available) player setup on a small screen that can prop itself up on a table with a little kick stand.The clicking and unlocking, changing and switching around is a key part, it feels like a Klingon battle ritual making weapons from their armour

We spent Sunday afternoon playing the party game 1 2 switch in which mini games are presented such as quick draw, or gorilla dancing, the motion elements of the controller being exploited. The games are places facing your opponent, with all the action prompted by audio or vibration cues. Multiplayer face to face with imaginary scenes is a new twist. The Switch screen is just there to show the score afterwards. One very nice example is having to guess how many marbles are in a box, the box is your joycon, as you move it the vibrations feel like a number of marbles bumping into one another. Its very subtle and very clever.

Afternoon of family fun with 1-2 Switch and snipperclips

All these are good fun party games, very Nintendo and I look forward to lots more. However there is serious gaming too. The Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wild is just a stunning achievement.

Zelda - Switch
(One of the first views of the sprawling landscape, which is much bigger than this too!)

The environment is huge and varied, the crafting and puzzle solving needed gives a real feeling of adventure. The heart stopping moments when you stamina disc is decreasing but you are climbing higher up a tower and only just make it by the last little blip, it goes on. It has taken from many other games, but kept is Zelda with Link running around saving Hyrule. There are towers to climb to unlock maps (like most Ubisoft free roamers), there are find the area by a photo, there are horses to not just catch but gradually tame, plants to collect and meals to cook with special properties, clothes to buy and dye, paragliding, bow and arrow and I assure a boomerang will turn up soon for me too. Dotted around the land are shrines, more in keeping with the Zelda themes these puzzle rooms let you use your fancy powers (one gained) to move and manipulate the World. Rather like Portal 2 did it makes you think you are stuck, then you try something odd, it works and you feel clever. One puzzle (no spoilers) use the motion controller, and my solution was just smirk inducing, a truly memorable gaming moment.

I had assumed it was all cartridges and no downloads, but its not. All the games are digitally downloadable. I had order Bomberman, Switch 1 2 and Zelda on carts, but Amazon were not able to deliver Zelda on release day so I cancelled it. When the parcel arrived I downloaded Zelda, and I wish the other 2 games had been digital now as the cartridges are so tiny they are annoying. I bought a 200gb memory card as the 32gb in the machine is half full already with Zelda, but that is much better than having to cart carts around. Also the battery is only 3 hours or so playing Zelda, not ideal for long plane journeys, but I will have to test that out later. Either way its a great addition to the console family and has exclusive titles. So thats all fine by me.