Category Archives: technology

Uploaded to Vimeo!

‘Take that, Google!’

I did start the account creation process with Google [so I could upload my videos to Youtube], but when I was asked to verify both my email address and my phone, I started to get goosebumps, and not in a good way. This is a small part of Google’s privacy [sic] statement:

It was about this point that my survival instincts kicked in again and I aborted the process, or at least I tried to. I very much fear that my phone number is forever in Google’s possession. Given that it’s an Android phone I’m very glad I have GPS turned off. 😦

Anyway, with Youtube no longer an option, I went looking for alternatives and discovered that WordPress.com allows Vimeo videos! Yay and double yay. πŸ™‚

So here is my rather ambitious Plotagon video entitled ‘Prepare for Induction’:

Go on, you can laugh. I won’t mind. πŸ˜€

cheers

Meeks


Playing with Plotagon

Plotagon is a program that allows you to create cartoony animations by using stock ’emotes’. In gaming, these would probably be called ‘run cycles’, except for facial expressions.

Basically, what you do is you add a sequence of these run cycles to a ‘scene’. When you play the scene, the run cycles merge together to create a short animation.

WordPress will only allow me to upload a Plotagon video [mp4 format] if I subscribe, so, here’s a gif that I can upload for free. πŸ™‚

I had to split Innerscape to ‘inner’ and ‘scape’ so the computerised ‘voice’ could say it without mangling the unfamiliar word. And yes, in the video, Miira is talking out loud!

Plotagon provides voices to speak the dialogue, or you can use your own voice. As I don’t have a mic., I’m making do, at least for now. The app. also provides a ton of sound effects and free music, so you can imagine how much fun I had choosing those. πŸ˜€

If you want to have a play yourself, go to:

https://www.plotagon.com/

You can download a free, trial version for 7 days. That’s what I was playing with last night. It’s a good way of testing out whether the app. is for you or not, but there’s a whopping big watermark right across the screen that is rather annoying. That’s one of the reasons why I decided to subscribe for a month [cost US $13].

I’m calling this a marketing investment as everything I produce can be saved to either mp4 or gif format, or both. That means whatever I create remains ‘mine’ if I decide to unsubscribe at the end of the month.

If I manage to produce something genuinely worthwhile, I may sign up with Youtube again so I can upload the videos I produce. For some odd reason, WP allows me to place Youtube videos in my posts but not home made ones.

Unfortunately, Youtube is now owned by Google so I can’t create an account without signing up for Google as well.

I’m very ambivalent about Google for security and privacy reasons, but as the blind man said, ‘we shall see’. πŸ™‚

cheers

Meeks


The car of the future

My thanks to SV3DPRINTER for posting about this amazing 3D printed innovation!

I’ve had a love affair with 3D printing since I watched a video of the first, primitive 3D printer create a toy, layer by tiny layer. Designing, prototyping and manufacturing cars using 3D printing is an order of magnitude more complicated than anything we could have imagined back then, but the technology is almost here. It’s almost a reality.

But what will happen once this technology becomes commonplace? Once it becomes as mainstream as the microwave oven? These are the kinds of questions that trigger wild flights of fancy in this thick noggin of mine.

I suspect that sometime soon, 3D printing will invade the home, becoming the must-have tool for everything. Or perhaps there will be a number of specialised 3D printers – one for food, one for clothing, and yes, one for personal transport. πŸ™‚

In tandem with the spread of 3D printing, I can see shops becoming obsolete; retail is already dying thanks to e-commerce. The bricks and mortar shops that remain will be antiquated curiosities selling hand-made articles that people buy for their uniqueness, not necessarily because they’re ‘better’ than what they can buy at home. And yes, real shopping will occur at home. We’ll browse for ‘patterns’ and download them straight to our in-home 3D printers [which will be called something else by then]. Those printers will then print off a copy of the object for us to use.

Given how e-books and e-music already works, we won’t own these 3D patterns; we’ll merely lease them for a limited time, or a limited number of reproductions. Once the limit is reached, the pattern will disappear.

The only thing I can’t work out is how the poor will buy ‘stuff’. If they can’t afford the printers and/or the patterns, will they be forced to buy second hand items printed off by the rich?

If this future is as wasteful as the present, the second hand business could really boom. Or perhaps the darknet of 2020 will become a digital black market selling stolen 3D patterns, amongst everything else…

Not sure I want to live in this future I’m imagining, but I’d definitely love to visit. πŸ™‚

cheers

Meeks


The Irishman special FX

I haven’t seen The Irishman, but the video detailing how it was made has me absolutely enthralled. Watch, and see for yourself:

Cool tech, right? But it’s not just the tech that has me jiggling up and down in my chair. It’s the fact that another piece of Innerscape is becoming a reality! -dance-

If you read book 1 of the Innerscape trilogy, you may remember the scene, early in the story, in which Miira finally gets to see the ‘avatar’ she will use once she has been inducted into Innerscape. That avatar is based on her 29 year old self. In other words, her avatar has to be ‘de-aged’.

To make the story work, the Innerscape AI had to be sophisticated enough to create avatars so real looking that none of the Residents can tell the difference. That was one of the key pieces of tech in the story, and now I know that it’s possible, actually possible.

I cannot tell you how good that feels.

cheers

Meeks


Some tech for 2020

In between watching the bushfire catastrophe unfold in real time, fire proofing my own block as much as possible, and translating one of my how-to books into blog posts, I don’t have the energy for anything creative so…

Here’s a future focused video clip that looks at ten of the most interesting tech breakthroughs likely to become mainstream in the near future:

If you’re in the cold, stay warm. If you’re suffering from the heat and smoke and ash…stay safe.

cheers

Meeks


Drones instead of fireworks!

In a recent post, I raged about Sydney staging New Year’s Eve fireworks when so much of Australia is burning. This is a fantastic alternative for New Year’s Eve 2020 and beyond:

My thanks to Carol Cooks 2 for bringing this amazing video clip/technology to my attention.

cheers

Meeks


Generating power at night, the flip side to solar

Nuclear energy has been in the news lately, and its proponents have once again cited the intermittent nature of renewables as a compelling reason to embrace nuclear. They say that only nuclear can wean us off fossil fuels fast enough given the imminent climate crisis.

My argument has always been that renewable technology is still in its infancy and that the sector will explode with new tech in the near future. This post is about one such possible ‘new tech’ – thermoelectric generation.

I can’t explain the science, but I can say that this new direction in power generation would work at night, while solar is unavailable. You can read the complete article here:

https://newatlas.com/energy/thermoelectric-generator-renewable-energy-cold-space/

The amount of power generated was miniscule, but this experiment sought only to prove that the principle was sound. Scaling up the process and making it robust enough for commercial applications will take a while, but then so does setting up a nuclear power plant.

My money’s on the new tech rather than the old.

cheers

Meeks

 


$249 3D printer for kids?!?

You know I love tech, and you know I’ve loved the idea of 3D printers for a long time now. In fact, a future-tech version of the 3D printer appeared in one of the Innerscape books [where Miira prints herself a new outfit as part of a ‘disguise’]. But this?

You can find the full article, including a really good video review, here:

https://sv3dprinter.com/2019/06/23/3d-printing-news-alerttoybox-the-3d-printer-just-for-kid/

This shorter video [just over 1 minute] is an advertising trailer:

Honestly? If I had a grand child, I’d be thinking very seriously of buying this for their birthday, just so I could have a play with it! I particularly like the fact that kids can create their own designs instead of simply using the stock models.

As scary as it may seem, this is the future of tech, and it’s coming at the speed of sound.

cheers

Meeks


Lucid Energy turbines

Lucid Energy is running electricity turbines from the water flowing in the pipes of a city.

This provides baseload power with no emissions, and the technology can be retrofitted into any water pipe large enough.

Most drinking water pipes in most cities of the developed world can use this technology!


Eyesight & Oculus Rift

As an old[er] gamer with dodgy eyesight, I’ve been worried that I’d never be able to play VR [virtual reality] games. Well, yesterday I learned that I can. πŸ˜€

But first things first: what is Oculus Rift? Basically, it’s a very expensive piece of headgear that makes it possible to view imaginary things as if they were real. The model I tried out yesterday looks like this:

As well as the goggles and inbuilt headphones, the Oculus Rift comes with two handsets that transmit Wifi data to the two ‘receiver’ units positioned in front of the ‘player’.

All of this hardware is controlled by specialist software running on a fairly powerful pc. Without getting too technical, the software sends two, separate, high resolution images to the lens inside the headset. The appropriate image then bounces through one of the lens and into the left or right eye.

To get an idea of how this works, close one eye and look at an object. Close both eyes and move a few inches to the left. Now open the other eye and look at the object again. The object hasn’t changed at all, but the viewing angle has – i.e. you’re seeing a part of the object you haven’t seen before. Put the two images together, and you get a 3D image.

The human brain interprets these separate images all the time using a process called ‘stereopsis‘. But for some individuals, stereopsis doesn’t develop as it should. The brain still gets streams of images from both eyes, but these individuals see depth using a process called ‘motion parallax‘.

I am one of these individuals, and that’s why I worried I wouldn’t be able to see in VR. But I can! I can.Β My spatial awareness expanded right out, and when a bunch of very large robots suddenly turned feral and loomed over me, I instinctively threw my hands up to protect my head! I also squeaked in fear, but the less said about that the better. πŸ˜€

This is a video of a bunch of older people experiencing VR for the first time:

The headset shown in the video clip is the VIVE rather than the Oculus Rift, but the experience is much the same.

I wasn’t wearing glasses when I tried out the Rift, but apparently you can fit your normal glasses inside the goggles by adjusting the fit.

And now a word or two about the quality of the graphics. I wasn’t wearing any of my glasses [I have 3, one each for long, mid-range and close viewing] and that may have made the graphics less than optimal. Or it may be that the graphics still need to be improved. Or perhaps you simply need bleeding edge computer hardware to get the best results. Whatever the reason, I was in no danger of mistaking computer generated graphics for the real thing. But…the sensation of depth really does trick the brain into believing the images are real. One day, we may not be able to perceive the difference at all.

Finally, some unpleasant aspects of the hardware. For starters, the goggles are heavy. Whilst you’re ‘inside’, you tend to forget about the weight because there’s so much there to distract you, but it does feel a bit like carrying half a brick around on your head. It’s also hot. Yesterday was only warm, but after ten minutes playing with the Rift, my hair was wet with sweat.

A big part of the weight of the Rift comes from the glass lenses that make the magic possible. Given how young the technology is, I suspect the mechanics will be improved rapidly. One improvement I would very much like to see is in the handsets. Although they are far more intuitive than the controllers used with consoles, they’re still clunky. Gloves and a full-body suit with embedded sensors would be miles better.Β They’d also be miles more expensive, but hopefully the price will come down by the time I can afford to buy one. πŸ˜‰

All in all, I loved my taste of VR, and now that I know I can see despite the issues with my eyesight, I’m determined to own my own setup…one day.

cheers

Meeks


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