Category Archives: Comments

General comments I want to make and share with friends.

Second Life and VR INteractions

A friend asked me about second life recently. I thought I’d comment here is a bit more detail than my facebook response…

I have limited exposure to second life. I do have an identity there as NineCrows. Haven’t used it in some time but I checked after you mentioned it and reset my password to something I know.

It would be cool to try that environment with room scale VR and I’ll look to see if they have software for that sometime soon. I did check and it looks as if they took a run at a VR product but gave up and sold off what was left.

My take on web- next with them is that they have the AOL or CompuServe walled garden model and that is limiting.

The web took off when HTTP and HTML were released openly and without royalties. Add in the free mosaic browser and free web servers (i admit that apache is the earliest I can remember…there may have been earlier options) and the web exploded.

I would think that an immersive VR web could happen if some group put together the equivalent for VR worlds with an open and relatively uncluttered protocol, a free open source client and server (these don’t need to be fancy, just work reasonably well with an assortment of hardware) and a URL equivalent for doorways between independent servers.

That would make it possible for a merchant or site to host their own environment with various implementations of fancier servers and clients in the mix and doors acting like links in the VR environment. Would be cool, I suspect we need more good quality VR systems and better internet links (lower latency?) out there for something like that to retake off.

I’m thinking that the protocol design would be the hardest part. You need to be able to push the complex information needed to render a virtual environment out quickly, handle the interim situation as assets load in a way that doesn’t make people upset and end up with high enough quality at the end that users would enjoy the experience.

Interesting challenge but one that is huge enough in scope that I’m not currently in a position to even poke at it 🙂 I do have a friend who wants to try VR chat sometime soon though so I may be able to get a basic idea from that as to how things perform in terms of latency and overall experience.

On reflection, if I take the random dungeon generator toy project in Unity far enough this might be an interesting ‘stretch’ goal. Allow doors to pull layout and assets from a remote machine (on my local net for simplicity) and render them in VR. Cool idea, probably too challenging to get to any time before something else catches my attention for home projects though…

Moday, September 7, 2020

Got the work bench in the basement cleaned up (finally). Not perfect at this point as much of the clutter that was on the bench is not in boxes of bins…but usable.

Installed the latest blender on several decently capable machines. The learning curve to get to a level of proficiency I want/need remains dauntingly steep. Challenges to be surmounted 🙂

I’m also probably going to look deeper into either WPF or Angular UI building so that I can build some tools I really could use. Probably WPF as some of these tools really want access to low level windows APIs and control of where windows show on the screen.

I think I want to become more comfortable with simple graphical editing in WPF (could go with MFC but that is really old-school) and see if I can build the tools I want to laying out things for Unity projects.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Looking to get back to some personal software projects as the fall approaches.

Got the VR system back together in the basement again. Software updates have been done. Needing to decide whether to pick cluster back up or head off in a different direction.

It has been a crazy year (almost) since I went from KMC to Draeger.

Started during a busy time for the team and spent a couple of months designing and prototyping an architecture for modern password management. Kind of a fun exercise building out samples for windows in C++ and C# and for linux in C using OpenSSL.

Dug in a bit and found that the bcrypt password hashing algorithm is obsolete. SCrypt partially replaced it and PBKDF2 seems to be the modern, tunable option.

Around December the member of the team who was leading (and mostly building) the proposal for the overall security architecture for the networking aspect of our devices gave his notice. As I was available and know my way around cryptography and cyber-security I stepped in and have spent the time since then taking his rough sketch and getting it much closer to a final product.

This has been particularly interesting as the devices on the network span three different operating systems. Some of the devices are rather old with low powered processors on no frills on the CPU selection. This needs to pass muster at FDA in the recent climate there where cybersecurity is being taken seriously and it has to drop into the existing network architecture without too much dislocation.

Fun challenge made even more challenging by the arrival of covid-19. I’ve been working from home and communicating with the rest of the team by teleconference and email. Nice to avoid the commute for a while and it has been a very pleasant summer but everything is harder when you can’t easily take everyone into a conference room and hash things out on the white-board.

I’m hoping that things will calm down a bit now so that I can get some VR work going again. I’m still toying with buying a resharper license to make C# development a bit more pleasant. I’m looking at VR headsets and newer CPUs and the 3000 series graphics cards that NVidia is about to release but probably won’t make a move on that front any time soon. If a new and exciting VR headset came out I might go for that…so far I’m not sold on any of the latest crop over my old first generation vive.

I’m still doing some photography though with our vacation plans for this year totally cancelled I haven’t had anything more photogenic than the pond to shoot. We did get the kayaks back in the water this summer and I’ve been getting a decent amount of paddling in. I’ll probably get out on the water some more this weekend and likely bring the camera along.

Photo Contest at Work…

Draeger is holding a photo contest so I’ve grabbed a few shots to run off 8×10 prints of to submit. There are six categories. I’ll probably submit a couple of shots in ‘places’, ‘things’ and ‘animals’ and skip ‘people’, ‘humor’ and ‘black and white’. I have some ‘leanings’ at the moment from the sets of shots I’ve printed, but until I see how they render I’m going to reserve final judgement.

I did leave things off till a bit late so I have to have my shots in by end of day on Friday and Sam’s Club is indicating they’ll be available a bit before noon on that day…

Here are the shots I’m looking at.

Animals:

Places:

Things:

…and in the ‘not likely to be used’ but worth going through the process of selecting…

Humor:

People:

Black and White (not yet monochromatized here)

A Blendery Weekend

I’m finally getting around to learning some blender. Not really functional yet, but headed in the right direction.

Blender

I watched a bunch of tutorial videos and read through my ‘intro to blender’ book (my more detailed blender book is 2.7 based and thus doesn’t really talk to the current UI). I also pulled the git source onto jabberwock in the basement and successfully ran a build. I’m not sure I’ll ever get involved with blender development, but it seemed like something nice to have around and was very straightforward to do.

I took a cursory look at what is involved in building blender extensions. Looks as if they’re all written in python. This surprised me a bit as I wouldn’t have expected python to have the necessary performance but it certainly would seem to make the development process easier. I’ll probably look at this stuff in more detail once I have the basics of running the tool well in hand.

Sunday evening I sat down to try to build something with the things I’d learned and realized how many gaps I had left. I think I need to print out a blender hot-key cheat sheet for 2.8 and then dive back into some of the early tutorial pieces and get some basic shapes built.

I am particularly interested in walking through the steps from blender creation to import into unity and material manipulation on that side. For game pieces I very much want to be able to adjust the color/textures on parts of a given item programmatically while using the nicer models that can be generated in blender. I expect this can be done, I’ll just have to work through the details.

Unity

I’ve started looking at text in VR space options. Mostly watching some presentations on text and in-game UI alternatives so far. I’ll probably try out a few things over this coming week in the evenings as time permits.

I also took a quick look at in-game VR keyboards…doesn’t look as is there’s anything in unity itself. There are a few choices on the unity store that are available for purchase. I think I may just look at quickly rolling my own when I need one.

I’m thinking that once I get to looking at online, multi-player options there will be a need to text input. The VR keyboard in google earth seemed reasonably usable so I’m optimistic that I may be able to build one that works decently.

I once again saw references to the Godot game engine. As a fully open-source option it looks interesting, but at the moment I’ve got enough investment in unity that I’m not inclined to go looking at other choices too closely. I may take a quick look and pull the code just out of curiosity.

Happy New Year

Rolling over to a new year. New challenges and existing things to pick back up and get rolling.

Photography

I haven’t been doing all that much photography lately as other things have occupied my attention.

I’m hoping to get that rolling again with the new year. I need to get my 5D SLR in to Canon for cleaning and maintenance as it is clearly in need of some work. Currently I’m using my older 7D and since I haven’t been doing much shooting that has met my needs. I want the 5D back in service before vacation this spring though. I’m also planning on getting a 1.4x tele-extender to see what a bit more range on my good lens can do for me.

I generally find that when I pick up a new lens I also find interesting new perspectives to work with. Hoping this extender can help on that front.

I’m also going to look at taking six+ shot ‘sky box’ sets in various places this time. Given the VR work I’m playing with, being able to sky-box locations in Florida would be pretty nice. Something else interesting to play with. I’m wondering if there might be a camera that can take these sorts of shots in one go…the stitched shots I’ve used in the past are a bit ragged around the edges when glued together.

3D Objects

I plan of becoming far more proficient in blender than I currently am. I want the objects I play with in unity to be much more interesting than the current simple shapes I’m using and blender seems like the ideal tool for my needs.

I’ve been planning on learning this tool for some time. Now is the time and I’m going to see where I can take this. Add in some textures from the camera and I’m hoping I can create some pretty cool items.

Keep an eye on pandamallet for more detail on blender and unity work in progress. Cluster is my current focus but I expect there will be more to come after that work reaches an interesting milestone.

3D Printing

Still of some interest…still not immediate enough to spend the money needed to buy an off the shelf printer. Stay tuned 🙂

Wargames and Role Playing Games

Always interested in playing but don’t have any players within reasonable range.

Looking for VR inspiration in the various games I’ve got around. I could see anything from VR sand-tables to full game implementations or environments coming out of this. Cluster is the leading edge, but if all goes well I’ll do more as time goes on.

I think that many of these games were too complex to be comfortably played on a table in any case (possible to play but really too much work and too many hours of play time). Looking at building games inspired by some of them that play in VR seems ideal.

It is funny because I started out doing ‘inspired by’ to avoid intellectual property issues but as things play out it becomes very clear that the designs would want significant adjustment to translate into offline, turn based computer format in any case.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Day after my birthday. I appreciate all of the birthday wishes from people I know. I’ve tried to respond to everyone individually, hoping I didn’t miss anyone along the way.

We wound up going out to dinner at Longhorn’s for my birthday without planning to. We’ve been getting meal kits from one of the places that provides those for a while now (nice meals, something different and less expensive than eating out). Yesterday the meat part of the ingredients pack turned out to have a leak so we decided to head out to a steak place and celebrate.

I ordered a couple of task force games games for my birthday. I know I’m not all that likely to find people to actually play them with. I still enjoy reading through the rules and seeing how they make things hang together. In this case these are the star fleet marines ground combat games. I am particularly curious to see how they make star trek ground combat work in a way that makes for interesting game play.

I’ll write up my impressions once they arrive.

Still not getting back to any serious Unity VR programming. Still on my list of things to get to, but not making it to the top.

I did get the back porch rework most of the way to completion over the last couple of weekends. The bulk of the boards are in place…I just need to add in the outer edge of the floor and stain the kick-plate between the top surface and the first stair. Looks good and water does seem to be beading up rather than soaking in. I also left gaps between the boards to allow water to more readily escape through the surface. The original structure had the boards tightly butted up against each other and we had a healthy crop of moss developing between them.

Heading up to the Conway area this weekend for a short trip. We used to take trips up there more often and it will be nice to revisit the old places again. Expecting a pleasant and relaxing weekend away.

Friday, October 4, 2019

End of the week, going to Sam’s steampunk festival this weekend. Should be a fun time. Weather report says the weather should be good as well.

Continuing with C++ refresher reading. Need to get a better handle in detail on what the 2014 and 2017 updates added to the language. I know that there were a number of adjustments that made some of the large enhancements in 2011 more usable or less broken.

Re-reading ISO medical device documents as a refresher too (62304 and 14971 in particular). The stuff in these is mostly just good sense development practices, but it is very important to understand what is actually required in order to ensure that things remain on track.

Wed, Oct 2, 2019

New Job

I’m now a few weeks into my new role at Draeger. Still getting up to speed on things (though I did get my required training done quickly, so that’s behind me). Back to C++ on windows for work…knocking a bit of rust off, but it feels good…once I get rolling I’ll have to see how well some techniques I’ve gotten used to in Java and C# can be ported back to C++ 2011-2017.

Little tech work this summer

It has been a slow summer from a technical standpoint…not much progress on home projects in unity and such. I did upgrade the strap on my vive headset to the newer (and hopefully more comfortable) version with built in earphones. I’ve also moved the lighthouses up to my office for the time being as I’m more likely to get work done up there at the moment. Won’t be starting up off Friday coding sessions with Malcolm and Sam obviously, but hoping we can figure out some other options to get together…whether for software stuff or board games and other such.

Sticking with my current VR headset for now

I looked at the new inside-out headset from HTC and wasn’t impressed enough to consider buying one…thought about it for a little while as I had some money to play with. It wasn’t enough of an upgrade. The fact that they’re talking about offering an outside-in update for ‘more precise tracking’ also suggests to me that I’m better staying with the headset I’ve got for now. The pro was also tempting, but I’ve given that a pass previously and I’m not tempted enough now.

Daydream for google seems to be dying. My new phone (a note 10+) doesn’t support it at all…and indications are that it never will. I much prefer the 6 DOF systems but having a headset that can travel and be used for demos is extremely nice…even if you’re limited to 3 DOF. I had been really hoping that they’d at least find a way to do limited 6 DOF with the controller…but it sounds like that’s not going to happen now.

JetBrains tools…

I am still tempted to buy a Jetbrains individual ‘all products‘ pack to get the C# and C++ tools and the other useful items (PHPStorm seems nice). Got to consider budgeting this at some point as it would allow me to evaluate these tools for broader use and help out with home projects along the way. Probably not a bad investment in the mid-term.

Machen Bachen

Headed to Machen Bachen this weekend. My friend Sam is involved with a steampunk festival. Lorna and I have tickets and we’ll be heading over there this weekend…should be fun.

Good Day Driving Around Southern Cali

We’re in San Diego visiting with Alyssa. Had a great day today driving inland a bit and seeing the sights. Grabbed a great breakfast here in the city and then headed east to a town with a delicious pie place. I’ll post pictures at some later time.

At this point we’re relaxing back at the hotel and Lys is taking a nap. Nice seeing her again and roaming around her new stomping ground with her. Cool to see a new part of the country and new places to explore. Jet lag doesn’t seem to have been to bad getting out here…hoping is isn’t bad when we head home.

Just took my little camera with us today as we drove around. I’ve left the 5D at home as it really needs to be sent it for cleaning and maintenance. i’ve got the 7D with me…should do the job for this trip…expecting it to be used at the zoo (and we will wind up at the San Diego zoo as Lorna has waited a long time to see this zoo).

When Lys wakes up we’ll probably head down to the pool for a swim and then grab dinner.