Green Screen Review #13: Chilling Courtside at The VR Olympics

I have not used any VR devices,  having a hard time finding a place in my life for a good fit. My grandson has a VR headset for his cell phone but had no desire to use them. Sandra at the Back Channel tried to check out the Olympics using VR and was not impressed.

Hi there Backchannelers. This is Sandra, and I’m a VR skeptic. Yet with the Olympics embracing virtual reality, it’s clear even to a slow adopter that we’ve reached a turning point. The time has come for us holdouts to find religion. So this week I borrowed a Samsung Gear VR — the only NBC-approved headset — loaded up the network’s app, and tapped into the beach volleyball feed.

There I am in Rio, hovering a few feet above the ground, just behind the courtside photographers. I fiddle with the focus dial and peer at the figures on the court, four of the most athletic women in the world. But I can’t really see them. They are so blurry that all I can say with confidence is boy, are they tall.

The Talls are lunging across the sand and hammering at the ball. They thwack blistering serves and high-five and hug. The Talls, I learn, are Russian and Brazilian. But I can’t see their faces. I can barely tell the color of their bikinis. I feel no human connection to these lanky superbeings.

The image quality is about what you’d get with your nose pressed up against an old CRT, a combination of low resolution and what’s known as the “screen door effect,” for the thin lines that appear between magnified pixels. It’s like I got the most amazing seats in Rio, and then someone draped mosquito netting over my face. (So much for avoiding the hassles of Zika-proofing.)

To get a better view of the players, I try walking a few paces to my left, but my Rio-based self remains fixed in place. So I twist around to gawk at the people in the stands. There they are! Audience. Confirmed. After watching some match highlights and wondering about the strange man staring intently at me (What do I look like to him — am I just a camera? How can I find a mirror in this weird world?), I flip back to the app’s main menu and pull up the gymnastics feed.

Read the whole review HERE.  More work is needed to make VR more usable.  Maybe usability should be the Green Screen Institute mission?

Posted in Green Screen, Human Behavior, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Green Screen Review #12: Zuckerberg is coming, Zuckerberg is COMING!

Picked up a copy of Bloomberg Business Week at the Amazon Book Store in Seattle. On the cover is a VR article featuring Facebook’s Zuckerberg. He wants to take over the VR market and control it like Apple and Google control the mobile phone market.

Apart from cracking the workings of the mind—pretty cool!—Oculus will give Zuckerberg the chance to actually make an object, as opposed to the intangible millions of lines of code that constitute Facebook. That code is an achievement, but a physical object that people love might be talked about a generation later. People hate throwing things away, because they remember how they loved them. Things get tied up with one’s youth and years later get found in an attic and caressed, or maybe traded on EBay.

There’s a less romantic reason for getting into the hardware business, too: Facebook wants to own VR the way Apple and Google own mobile. That means taking control of the technology, from the software to the hardware.

Is the Green Screen Institute up to this challenge?  Facebook has billions to spend on VR development!  How much does the Green Screen Institute have to develop a regional model to create a cluster of VR related businesses?  Maybe they can get Zuckerberg to create a Nevada County VR Skunkworks at the GSI?  There are a number of local business that were spinouts of expired skunkworks projects.

An online version of the Facebook VR Article is HERE.

Posted in Analysis, Green Screen, Jobs and Economy, Local, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Green Screen Review #11: VR Unicorns Five Years Out

Kevin Kelly, Co-Founder of Wired Magazine on the future of VR at LinkedIn

Question: So who do you think is going to be on the forefront of that [VR]? Who do you think is gonna do the really innovative stuff and most experimental content creators are gonna be?

Reply: My bias is that the studios will spend a lot of money trying this, but it’s the Buzzfeeds of the world that will come along and make something that will actually work. I think we’re far from even seeing, even formation of these companies that will succeed. I think they haven’t been formed yet, or maybe they’re forming in the basement right now as we speak, but it’s still years away.

I think some of the gaming companies, people you know, might have the first round of successes, but I think it’s gonna take five years for the other forms. It’s gonna be a little slow in the beginning. I don’t see any kind of VR unicorns happening within five years.

Five years is a long time to be burning venture capital before the big payoff. Will it take five years for the Green Screen Institute to develop the Nevada County VR Unicorn? Let’s hope not.  It would be nice to have some progress reports.

Posted in Green Screen, Jobs and Economy, Local, Uncategorized

Green Screen Review #10: Sketchfab’s New Update Previews a Three-Dimensional Web


VR Comes to the Web:

Soon, “page” won’t be a very helpful word for describing everything on the web. The word has made a lot of sense so far. Pages are flat, two dimensional things. The web can imitate additional dimensions, but it’s been a flat place. Soon, that won’t be true. To view many spaces online, viewers will need virtual reality goggles that shut out the real world and let them see in three dimensions.

Browsers will soon be able to render virtual reality that users can explore with any of the consumer devices, such as the HTC Vive, Oculus or Samsung Gear. In fact, early adopters can download developer editions of Chromium and Firefox right now that display the forthcoming WebVR standard (more details). Mozilla engineer Kearwood Gilbert told the Observer in an email that the standard will be available in Firefox’s public release when version 51 goes live in January. Through a spokesperson, Google declined to confirm a release date for the WebVR spec in public versions of Chrome.

Interested internet denizens don’t need to download an unstable version of their favorite browser to get a preview of VR on the web, though. Sketchfab, the YouTube for virtual reality objects, has made its entire library viewable with today’s VR hardware, even the cheap stuff

Read the rest of the Article HERE.

Global VR development is moving at a rapid pace, I wonder how fast it is moving at the Green Screen Institute? Any thoughts?

Posted in Analysis, Green Screen, Jobs and Economy, Local, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Nevada County a Winner in Digital Counties Survey 2016:

Winners Make Collaboration, Innovation, Civic Engagement Top Priorities

Nevada County, Calif., took first place in the up to 150,000 population category for its exemplary county budget portal, BYOD policy, participation in the 18-county Central Valley Next Generation Broadband Infrastructure Project, and a strategic plan that allows the IT arm to finish each project smoothly. Nevada County Chief Information Officer Steve Monaghan is no smarter than his peers, he explained — it’s that their organizational structure takes the pressure of politics and the need for lobbying and allows IT to focus purely on IT.

The quality and quantity of technology projects the county is able to complete can be attributed to Nevada County’s comprehensive strategic plan, Monaghan said. The plan has four pieces that include governance, strategic planning, top-down planning, and service economics. By doing this foundational step so well, it allows everything else staff members do to succeed.

The county’s technology governance is centered around the grouping of what would be silos into communities of organizations that participate in like-activities. Those offices with shared customers, funding streams and business processes partake in a logical collaboration across organizational boundaries. This collaboration guides the county’s strategic planning.

It’s nice to have a plan, but if the powers that be won’t allow the plan to happen, then it’s all for naught, but they have top-down support, Monaghan said, because the board of supervisors always invests in technology in recognition of the savings that projects can achieve in the face of reduced staffing. And the pricing and pricing structure of IT’s services makes implementation a winning proposition for customers too, he explained.

“When a department wants to do a project, we have the organizational infrastructure to take that idea, turn it into a project, get it approved through governance, get it funded, get it supported by the board, get it implemented,” said Monaghan. “We have that mechanical system in place to get that stuff done very smoothly. To me, that’s the differentiator.”

Details are HERE.

Congratulations to Steve Monaghan and his staff. While Steve gives credit to County Supervisors, the real key has been Monaghan’s leadership.

Posted in Analysis, Jobs and Economy, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

California Drought Report #71 : Sierra Nevada snowpack will not recover from the current drought until 2019

This from Lauren Lipuma, Contributing Writer, EOS at Watts Up With That.

The unprecedented drought that has gripped the Southwest United States has severely depleted the Sierra Nevada snowpack, the major source of water for drinking and farming in California. Researchers and water managers thought this past winter’s monster El Niño would bring enough rainfall to help ease the strain on water resources, but whether El Niño rains were enough to replenish the dwindling snowpack remained to be seen.

Here Margulis et al. used daily maps of the Sierra Nevada taken from NASA Landsat satellites and snow survey data collected by California’s Department of Water Resources to determine the snowpack’s current volume and predict how much water is available within it. The team also used the satellite images and historical measurements of the snowpack and of past El Niños to estimate the snowpack’s total volume for each year from 1951 to 2015.


Analysis of the Sierra Nevada (USA) snowpack using a new spatially distributed snow reanalysis data set, in combination with longer term in situ data, indicates that water year 2015 was a truly extreme (dry) year. The range-wide peak snow volume was characterized by a return period of over 600 years (95% confidence interval between 100 and 4400 years) having a strong elevational gradient with a return period at lower elevations over an order of magnitude larger than those at higher elevations. The 2015 conditions, occurring on top of three previous drought years, led to an accumulated (multiyear) snowpack deficit of ~ −22 km3, the highest over the 65 years analyzed. Early estimates based on 1 April snow course data indicate that the snowpack drought deficit will not be overcome in 2016, despite historically strong El Niño conditions. Results based on a probabilistic Monte Carlo simulation show that recovery from the snowpack drought will likely take about 4 years.

More HERE.

The bottom line, conserve the water we have as the recovery may be delayed beyond 2019.   Throughout history,  droughts have lasted decades, not just four to six  years. Only time will tell, in mean time conserve what we have today for tomorrow’s drought.

Posted in California, Climate, Drought, Westher

Ayn Rand Insight

Ayn Rand

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