I decided to give the books another period of free download on Kindle. I still hope that all the hundred of people who have got the books over this past year find time to enjoy them and potentially write me a nice review on Amazon. The professional review I had from Kirkus and the feedback I have got over the year has been fantastic, so I am pretty sure these pieces of work stand up to scrutiny and are enjoyable.
So if you are feeling like you need to grab a different read, don’t be put off by the sci-fi its is adventure and many non tech have enjoyed it. Of course if you are a techie you are the target for Roisin’s adventures.
Number 3 is bubbling around, having a full time writing and presenting job as an IoT analyst makes it hard to find the sort of blocks of time I used to write the first two, but I will get on with it. Long flights to the US and many hotel room stays may be where this one germinates from.
Anyway, please feel free to download the kindle version in your region. It’s global and both books should just wing their way to you on any device that has an e-reader.
The ad budget is quite low at the moment, so this will have to do as a reminder.
The joys of self publishing 🙂
The book pages are here and here
Last week the pre-order of the Sony PSVR arrived and the question many people may have is it in any good? The short answer is yes. There are a few things caveats but in general I like it.
Despite being a bit more negative towards VR, compared to AR, it is hard not to feel a rush of amazement as a VR scene fills your field of view. The unit is easy to set up, some numbered cables get you installing an HDMI pass through box from the PS4 to the headset. This serves a dual purpose, one it lets others see what you are seeing on the main TV screen (if you want them too, albeit at the lower resolution the lenses use) or it lets you not turn the headset on and use the PS4 without any faffing around. The headset has a sliding front mechanism to allow you to easily install your face plus prescription glasses it, and then a sprung and adjustable back to keep it in place. The on switch is on the cable right next door to the volume controls, which is a little awkward if you press the wrong one. A set of in ear headphones plugs into the the same block, though we swapped that for some noise cancelling over ears.
@elemming and the predlets all had a go, and it is unfortunate that the unit says you have be 12 and over to use it. I am not quite sure what that is, though there are a lot of weird things that happen to your eyes and brain once inside a VR rig.
The headset has distinct blue lights on the from, sides and back that enable the camera to track it in space, which means you can stand and move a little, more on that in a moment. I dug up the PS3 Move controllers and after a lot of trying to charge, hitting the reset pin etc they seem to now be back to capacity and working. They are not essential, but they do enhance a few of the experiences (note I didn’t use the word game)
I used the supplied demo disc first, it created a wide and bright area to present the game selection menus. I picked Battlezone, for old times sake. Cockpits always work well in VR. If you are sat down with a controller indoor hand the cockpit feels right as you are already sort of in one. The demo gradually lit up the cockpit and you definitely feel a buzz. The lower resolution that a normal HD screen is noticeable in some moire patterns on textures but only if you look hard. I was soon whooshing the tank around reliving the early battle zone which was vector graphics and a two handle tank level control in amusement arcades, where you looked through a scope to see what was happening. So it fits with the upgrade to PSVR. Interestingly the demos all had an in view buy button, though no clever VR payment system here, it just goes back to the flat shop only delivered in VR.
Next I tried the paid for set of demos that is PSVR Worlds. The intro to this starts very dark, but you are aware you are in a hall of heroes, a flaming ball gradually illuminates whilst the sound crescendos. As menus go its pretty impressive. An important thing this does is let you see your controller in the VR view. It even lights up the right buttons as you press it. The tracking and view of the controller adds a lot to the experience even just as a menu. If you have put the controller down you can look around to find it, rather than pat around with your hands as if your eyes are shut with ones that don’t track the controller. This experience got richer playing gate London Heist experience. I enabled the two move controllers and holdings the game started they morphed into a pair of hands, pressing the trigger clenched them to a fist. The tutorial has you opening a draw, throwing a can into a bin and the most interesting is picking up a handgun. Because you are holding a controller already the grasping with the trigger does feel oddly like picking something up, which them moves around as you hand does. With the other hand you reach for a clip of bullets and push them into the gun in the other hand. The trigger then acts as, well, a trigger. It is very cool. The vignette of story gets you into a few shoot outs, though it is very short, yet the experience is impactful. Another option is to hit the shooting ranges. Sometimes with two uzi’s. You can reload these buy slamming the gun on the magazines stored vertically on the table, then go all John Wick on the targets point forwards with each gun in turn or taking multiple targets.
I stuck with the move to become Batman in Arkham VR. This is pretty stunning too, though once again very short. Some of the AR style features in VR assembling things are very convincing, again because of the Move controller. The freaky psychological elements of batman game recently where you turn around and a room has changed work very well in VR too. Reaching to you utility belt to grab the batarang or the grappler and hooking things back on there again is great. You play better stood up, though you can’t walk anywhere, you have to blip teleport to defined locations. It is a pity that all the batmobile and batwing interaction is not there you do no driving just grapple to the batwing, a quick loading pause and you are at a new venue. None the less I will remember this for a long while. It is one of those experiences, like the t-rex in tomb raider.
Back on PS VR Worlds the undersea adventure is an interesting one. It puts you in a dive cage and then you descend, it mention sharks in the title, so yes, there is a shark. You have no controls, you are in a cage and you feel utterly powerless. The rest of the family all experience the fear in different ways, but again it wont be forgotten in a hurry.
Then it was Driveclub VR. This one suffers the most from the resolution drop but when you are hurtling around and glancing across as you overtake you soon forget that. It is fast and can be quite nausea inducing. On my first race I pushed replay and watched again sat in my car, I chose to stand up and see what happened. I was standing up and turning around in a car doing 120mph around a corner. I nearly fell over, and certainly had to sit down and take a bit of a VR rest. It was pretty intense 🙂
Other things we have tried is the VR playroom, Predlet 1.0 was inside the headset playing the main character, I was able to join in on the TV with a normal view, seeing her avatar and the thing she controlled move around and working with her was cool.
The other collaborative experience is Keep Talking and no-one explodes. The headset view is of a bomb, with lots of different components, the external view for the other player(s) is of an instruction manual of text and pictures. Through descriptions and finding a common language like “the squiggle button with a dash on the top” you work together to stop the bomb. It is a fantastic party game and if you are disarming the bomb you feel a sense of powerlessness not seeing the manual, and vice versa for the manual readers.
Finally Eve:Valkyrie. Well this is pretty intense but my favourite full game. The cockpit and the combat are stunning. It has a feel of the BSG reboot, a quietness to the space and the ship turn very quickly unlike maybe in Elite Dangerous, where there is more momentum. As a fan of flight games and dogfights, probably are than the fps shooters on the ground I feel in my element. Targeting with missiles uses the headset and the extra glass in you canopy to be able to get a visual lock which certainly makes you look around. The frantic firing and explosions and space debris has you ducking and weaving. It is wonderful once you get over space sickness.
So yes the PSVR is great. I like it a lot. We just need more full content done well, like any new tech.
Whilst on our summer holiday in glorious California I got an email from the Independent Author Network book of the year awards. It said that Reconfigure was nominated as sci-fi book of the year. This is of course excellent news. I am not sure if I can fit the badge on the front cover, as some of the Amazon rules seem to say you can’t from what I remember.
Anyway here it is. I will add it to the book’s page too
It is still just 99p and sales seem to have picked up recently too. So hopefully people will enjoy it and then come and discover Cont3xt too.
With more reader there is more potential for more reviews, and that all keeps the ball rolling.
My page over at #ian1 will need updating too 🙂
I has been a few months since I wrote anything here. My new role at 451 Research has kept me doing a lot of writing about a lot of interesting subjects related to IoT. It is an interesting change to be on the receiving end of briefings where people tell me why their implementation or product direction is of interest, yes that’s bit poacher turned game keeper, but it is good to be able to share and build upon all my previous experience. The Internet of Things is huge and diverse, because like the internet it underpins everything. The great thing is it also include how we as people understand what is going on in a system, which lends itself to being able to discuss virtual and augmented reality. I had started to cover some VR and just posted a longer report spotlight on AR when Pokemon Go hit. It was only a matter of time before a mass market awareness thing happened, but few of us knew the form it would actually take. Most of what I write is behind the paywall for our customers, but somethings make their way outside. Firstly our AR report (as this was with @xianrenaud 451 Research IoT research director) made the home page and some free access to all. I was not in a position to write a whole report on Pokemon Go or its lack of real AR, but I did write an analyst note (our briefest piece of content). Which now is also on the homepage and free (linking back to the AR report). The VR report is still locked away but you can sign up for a trial account.
AR and VR also featured in at the end of a recent IoT Webinar on Brightalk that Christian and Brian did. I provided a couple of pictures for that. I take the position that VR is great but it is an extension of current screen technology at its heart. A screen for each eye. AR is a new departure, sensing the world and projection/translucent displays is a whole different ball game and one that had many more industrial and enterprise uses.
Interestingly lots of AR tech is being retro fitted to VR. Nothing is ever clear cut, but its good to spot a trend or find a theory to explore.
Of course my IoT VR and AR experiences blend into the books Reconfigure and even more so the follow up Cont3xt and the adventures are still selling and being downloaded at $0.99 around the World. A few more reviews would be great. In some of my briefings some of the elements I have used start to get a little closer to reality, but it was always supposed to be near real sci-fi.
I have not thrown away my tech hands on approach to things though. Yes there is a lot of writing but the predlets still need to get the opportunity to learn their craft and this morning my/their BBC Micro:bit arrived. A fascinating Arduino like controller but loaded with LED’s, compass, bluetooth and gyroscopes. It will be great to see what they get up to with it. It is a full IoT endpoint when it comes to it.
Its not all work, though a lot of my play is work related too. However, we invested in a Wheel for the Xbox One, having had one on the 360. It was part present for predlet 2.0 getting a great school report and a pen licence. This time I also got a proper stand for it the Wheel Stand Pro V2. It makes a huge difference to all the driving games, particularly the rock hard Dirt 2 and Forza 6. Of course there is a prime example of where VR works, and I believe the PC version of Dirt now has headset support. If they sort it out for the Xbox, well I am in 🙂
Another addition and a rather fantastic one was my Father’s day present of next generation slot(less) racing with Anki Overdrive. These fascinating cars read the track as they race on it, making any layout they will autonomously drive around mapping the reach first they you get to race using you phone/tablet. Switching lanes and controlling speed and virtual weapons and defences. They are fast and frenetic, and when they go off track they razz around trying to find it again. Watching the robot cars drive is pretty magical too. I know how they work, I know what they are doing, but…. wow. Once again another IoT style twist in the tail. Alluding to where the World is going, first liberating the ideas from play, just like Pokemon Go has.
If you want to see the diverse list of 451 Research reports I have been doing look here, thats not including all the press articles and conferences presenting I have been up to in just a few short months.
If you have anything industrial, enterprise or just plain quirky you would like to talk about please get in touch I am @epredator and do take a look at the books for some summer reading 🙂
This is not an April 1st joke, though I know it is going to be interesting and exciting. Today I start work at 451 Research – Analysing the business of IT innovation. Specifically I am an analyst for the Internet of Things (IoT) industry. IoT is of course the underpinning substrate of almost everything that is going on so it covers an awful lot of new technology and evolving businesses.
The role entails a lot of writing and finding the important and salient facts to share with 451’s subscribers and customers.
I will be working from home, but with a fair amount of travel to conferences, customers and briefings. Those of you who work in the IT industry will be familiar with analysts making sense of the marketing and sharing their perspective on company developments and products.
Feeding Edge is continuing as a company, but not as a consulting one, as it has no employees. Having written the two sci-fi novels (that are strongly IoT related) it is now the publishing company for those books. The third book in the trilogy will be a little way away as I know the work load and writing load for my new role will be pretty intense.
What about virtual worlds and augmented reality? I am not leaving that behind. There are a lot of industrial uses in the IoT space that fit with AR in particular. When the world in instrumented you need a way to see what is going on. Likewise for VR and dealing with Big Data visualisation. When you consider the Wimbledon Second Life project in 2006-2008 a centre piece of that was the rendition of the real world trajectory of the ball pulled into the virtual space. It is a flavour of IoT. I have also worked on pushing and pulling data in and out of virtual environments making them, in some cases, an IoT simulator. So the quirky and the virtual still sit within my sights, though the focus is on the big stuff. Smart buildings, cities, corporate infrastructure, manufacturing, cloud integration, platforms and services etc.
I am going to be working for the Research Director, Internet of Things at 451 Research. Someone many of you may also know from the 2006 Virtual World days, and many other things, Christian Renaud. The role is global, but it is handy that I am over here near London and Europe to cover all the things happening here. I already have 4 conferences to attend in London this month. If you see me around say hi.
It will take a bit of getting used to the cadence of the work, but I am really looking forward to getting to hear the details of what companies are up to and sharing that with the written word, conference talks and webinars. It is a natural, but still challenging, step to take.
Thank you all for the support and interest over the past 7 years with Feeding Edge.
I had a trip to Jersey this weekend, sponsored by Jersey BCS so that I could be an out of town judge at the #hackjsy game development event. The focus here was for teams to build something in 36 hours, game related. With my BCS Animation and Games specialist group hat/badge on it made a lot of sense to to and see what was going on.
I also treated the trip as a re-aquanting myself with travelling on business, the family getting a chance to see I am now there all the time, but just for a short first stint. I also thought I would test out the new clothes for travel comfort. That test worked, but in a way I was not expecting. I usually have been wearing combat trousers and my phone sits nicely in the leg pocket. Instead it was inside my new jacket/ waistcoat arrangement. As i parked the car at the airport and hoofed my overcoat on with a hunch of the shoulders, my iPhone 6s plus felt the urge to slide upwards out of the shiny new pocket and propel itself face down onto the floor. I knew it was not going to be too well but I was surprised at just how smashed it made itself.
It was completely unhappy with any sort of interaction. I couldn’t power it off with a slide either. I tried the power and home button together for a few seconds and it shutdown. The Jersey flight is inly 40 minutes in a turbo prop but they don’t like phones being on. It is not so bad these days to be without a phone as if you have a laptop/pad etc wi-fi is readily available, so I let home know I was not going to be texting and Jersey know I was not going to be ignoring them if they called.
Whilst there I got to talk to a lot of people from all over the island in different industries. It was great to catch up with the guys from vizuality as they are making huge strides in the areas of installation experiences using VR. Tracking users in a 10x10m space and providing headset visuals as they wander around.
I spent the Saturday hacking too. I looked a little in IBM Bluemix and its Unity api for text to speech, using my own book quotes to see if it could cope. They all still have trouble pronouncing Roisin though 🙂 I also then spent a bit more time on my Vuforia AR covers for the books. I decided that Reconfigure should have the variant of the block world view that Roisin sees and builds in her own Unity application.
Then on Cont3xt I explored writing a scene changer, so at certain intervals the models and view would swap. Initially I did that by toggling the image targets, but that did not trigger the re-viewing of them, as it expected the same target to have the same stuff on it. However, swapping the game objects attached in the tree, turning them on and off worked, just as the animation works. So I now have a little bit of authoring infrastructure that makes it easier to add multiple scenes and play through them.
I was going to do something with the leap motion sensor too, but that fitted more with having an AR headset to interact with the book covers, with a broken phone and other judging work to do I parked that one.
I also had a lot of conversations around IoT in various forms, and a bit of a chat about blockchain too. Jersey may only have 100,000 people on it, but there is a vibrant tech community there. It was a great trip, and the phone is now repaired (the Jersey shop wasn’t able to do 6s plus so Apple Basingstoke did it in 1 hour) It also now has a proper case. I had avoided that for ages, not having broken the phone before. Rather than take a picture of the phone in a mirror to show the case, I sparked up the AR unity, put the Reconfigure picture on the phone and then the mac did its thing and rendered Roisin, holding her phone with a view of the world that she sees.
Just to re-interate the loops within loops here. I am rendering an AR representation using Unity3d and an Iphone onto a digital version of the cover of the e-book that contains a story about Roisin discovering a way to see the World in terms of position and labels that she expands on by writing an application in Unity that tuns on her iPhone. I will share this post on Twitter. The same Twitter (happy 10th birthday) that she uses to accidentally discover her new found abilities when she accidentally types into the wrong window. Meta enough ? 🙂
Anyway, well done everyone at #hackjsy, great organization, great participation, great fellow judges and a great island. See you all again soon I hope.
After seven years of employing myself here at Feeding Edge, I am making an exciting and very positive move and I have accepted a new role. This part of the adventure has been incredible and I have learned an awful lot, worked with some fantastic people and projects and ended up with something to remember these times by in the shape of the two sci-fi novels.
Feeding Edge as a company will be staying, as that’s the publisher of the books, I just won’t be working for it any more as an employee, issuing myself a p45. It may get to publish the third in the trilogy too, just not for a while yet 😉
What am I off to do? Well, I will be able to say in detail, and for who, in a few weeks when I officially start. I am still very much in the emerging technology industry, I will also be out and about a lot at conferences and various other events. I will also still be doing what I set out to do here, in ‘taking a bite out of technology so you don’t have to.’ I will also be doing lots of writing.
In all the variety of things I have experienced I have found a great deal of fulfilment in writing, both fictional and factual, historic, now and future. The sharing of the patterns and ideas that I get to experience feels like something I should carry on doing. Which is why this was just too good to pass up.
Each day here, I have found a little spark of something interesting to pursue. Some of those became small and intense flames of interest in a full project. With what is on the horizon, I feel a massive burst of energy ready and raring to power forward with. It is so interesting that whilst I don’t actually start for a few weeks I am already just getting on and doing some of the prep. It all builds on what has come before that is more about now having a sense of direction and purpose, and a team to belong to and not want to let down.
Team work and a something to rally around is important. I think it is Choi Kwang Do training that has helped me want to belong in a group again. We all help one another, and can identify still as very individual in our pursuits but part of a whole. I will of course carry on with that part of my life, as it is very important and a family bond too. With my new role I will be able to be both part of an organisation, a focussed team and with an individual focus too.
Did I mention Internet of Things? I will be very focussed on that, which is of course pretty much everything! As it’s an infrastructure and a concept that underpins the current wave of emerging technology. I have of course been in and around this since before the name got attached to it, so it’s all familiar, though ever changing. Just the way I like it.
I have one last semi-official gig with Feeding Edge this weekend, as I am honoured to have been asked to go to Jersey and judge a gaming hackathon Though this is more BCS Animation and Games dev and also a book tour.
Anyway, Thank you to everyone I have worked with over the years here, to all those opportunities that have been presented to me, for the support and believe in my abilities, and that I have learned so much from, and found this new direction to head in because of that.
Now I need to go and work out where all my little bio pieces are around the social web to get ready to update them. A nice problem to have, I think?
Unity have released a short film created with the Unity3D Game engine. It shows some serious design talent at work, but is also remarkable because it is rendered in real time. Anyone who remembers the early 80’s when we use to try and ray trace on a home computer and had to wait 24 hours for one frame of shaded imagery to create a line at a time. Then in 1984 the Amiga had this realtime demo flying around of the animated Juggler.
Here is the new Unity trailer for a short film they have created to show off the lighting, textures, animation, camera effects etc. It is also quite a powerful piece that cuts through all that into feeling for the character.
Very impressive stuff I am sure you agree? That’s “just a game development tool” for you 🙂
Yesterday I popped along on just an expo pass to London’s Excel centre for the Wearable Technology show. Despite its name it is not all about wrist watches that check your heart rate. The organisers have recognised the wider implications of things getting more instrumented, more data flowing and more business opportunities in the Internet of Things industry pattern. I had several reasons to pop along, the main one there will be a little more on later. I alluded to some big changes in a tweet. I don’t mean to tease but I am going to anyway.
One of the reasons I went to the show was to see some of the sports tracking wearables though. This was more in keeping with the title of the show. I was interested in both the physical monitoring, taking it past heart rate, and how the coaching software was shaping up to make sense of the data. I was also interested in anything that helped track the type of movement. Both these are from my training and teaching in Choi Kwang Do. A lot of the newer body monitoring kit was being built into skin tight performance clothing. That seems a good idea in general, and for a martial art, not having things on our wrists, yet getting some great training and tuning feedback during cardio and PACE training is going to be useful. There was only really one body movement tracker, related to boxing. It was based on the accelerometer principle, combined with an app that told you how many punches you were doing and at what rate and also showed the speed of the punch. It is not out for a while but it will be interesting to try this version with our more unusual martial arts moves. It is called Corner
Another reason to go, just in general because it’s what I have worked with for years is the VR and AR aspects of the show. There were a lot of headsets, both full immersive Rifts, Gear VR and also lots of peppers ghost, not really a hologram, heads up displays. There were some interesting uses to track warehouse goods in a HUD and also using projection onto a surface to avoid the need for glasses at all.
One company I spent a bit of time talking to and taking the demo was vTime
The preamble was good, and the demo was great and I wish them all the best of luck. It is a 3d chat room, avatar based where the users choose lovely rendered scene to sit in and converse, soon to share pictures etc. It is claiming to be a sociable not social network application. It is targeted at mobile first. I kept hearing the zuckerburg quote about one day people will just sit around a virtual campfire. Of course I was taken back to 2006, but tried not to get all grumpy and remind them everything old is new again. The campfire was a key part of the imagery and the experience we had online back then. Though then we could get up and walk about in the free form environment. In fact we still can, and SL had VR support. i.e. two cameras one for each eye. I still liked this new application, and if people connect and enjoy it, then so be it 🙂 I would dive in but it was focussed onto Gear VR and I only have my iPhone (and a load of things to drop that into to get stereo vision)
The full post this was in to date it is here
Also Rita J. King was our embedded story teller/journalist and wrote tales from the fire pit to explain the rise of the virtual community powered by people, avatars and Second Life. The PDF of the story is here, and should be useful reading for the next wave of virtual environments. Headset or otherwise. I would say it is essential reading in fact 🙂
The economist had a stand showing a great use of virtual worlds. They have a reconstruction, from photos and other data, of the Mosul artefacts that have been destroyed due to the conflicts in the middle east. The VR was a little old fashioned, but the principle and content was good.
It was fun talking to the marker based AR developers, as they showed me things like book covers coming alive. Once again, I had to let them know I new a little about it and of course I tried to sell the idea in my books to people. If I had though about it I would have had a stand to show sci-fi novels about VR and AR and IoT with Reconfigure and Contxt 🙂
I mentioned serendipity in the title. I had tweeted my location as I got to excel, but then not checked twitter as I was going around the exhibits. As I tweeted I was leaving I saw that my colleague from way back Martin Gale was at the show, speaking and presenting. It was fantastic to catch up and see how well he is doing, quote the Fast Show, ‘Ah Ted” multiple times. Thank you for the coffee :). It made a great end to a fantastic day out. A day in which I got to practice a little of what I will be doing in the very near future, around the subjects that I will be immersed in. I guess in startup terms someone would call it is pivot. There I go teasing again. Watch this space, if you are interested 🙂
I thought it would be interesting to revisit some of the Augmented Reality tools that have Unity3d packages for them. The first I headed for was Vuforia, now owned by PTC. I am using the free version. It all worked straight from the install, though there are a lot of features to tinker with.
I wanted to use an image marker of my own, so naturally I used the book cover. There is a lot of AR and VR in the story so it all makes sense.
For the 3d models I used the current trial of Fuse/Mixamo now part of the Adobe. It lets you build a model and export it in a nice friendly Unity3d fix format. You would be suprised how these various formats for models and animations hide so much complexity and weird tech problems though. Eventually I found a couple of animations that fitted the mood. This is not a full action sequence from the book, but it could be. I have some more vignettes in mind to experiment with. I am just upgrading my windows machine so I can use the Kinect 2.0 for some of my own motion capture again. Finding the right animation, and then trying to edit it is really hard work. The addition of motion, especially in humans, hits a different part of the brain I think. It makes lots of things look not quite right.
So here is the video of augmented reality on a cover of a physical copy of an ebook novel telling the story with lots of augmented reality in it, if thats not too meta. Roisin rather sassily taps her for while the Commander lays down the law to her.
Reconfigure and Cont3xt are available right now to enjoy, and if at all possible, PLEASE write a review on Amazon, it makes a massive difference to the take up of the books.