HP Reverb Pro VR headset

I recently bought the new VR headset (HMD) from HP. Prior to the purchase I have read the positives and negatives.

To start with the negatives, I agree with these statements:

No manual IPD
IPD referees to the distance between your eyes. This set only have a software based IPD. Mine is around 71. In the software from Microsoft max setting is 67, but it’s possible to set 71 directly into the registry with Regedit. I’m however not sure it works. I tried different values without noticing much effect. On the good side the picture looks quite good anyway.

HP Reverb to the left, Oculus Rift to the right

Thick cable
One cable comes out from the VR headset but splits into a two cable dongle that is quite thick.
One good thing is that it is detachable if you need to store away the VR headset. Package also contains a shorter cable for backpacks.

Not great tracking
The HMD has an inside out tracking, meaning there is no need for external sensors.
It only have two cameras and you can tell when using the hand controllers that they need to be well in view of the cameras to track your hands.

Bad controllers (Windows Mixed Reality)
Having used controllers from Oculus Rift and Oculus Quest, these “Windows Mixed” controllers is notably much worse to use. Also connected via Bluetooth, yuck.

That was about it for the negatives in my opinion, and I do understand that for many, those arguments is enough to turn this headset down.

Why did I buy it then ?

I have already own Oculus Rift for a couple of years now. They are great! the immersion is definitely there, but often you realize that the picture quality is quite bad with its 1080×1200 pixels per eye.

Having used VR for some time I have also found out where I find most enjoyment in VR space. That is watching videos with Bigscreen, social experiences like with Sansar, but mostly Sim Racing in Assetto Corsa (AC). I have 200 hours with Oculus Rift in AC. Driving in VR with pedals and wheel is the only way for me to drive. It is so much fun and immersive. I find myself coming back as often as I can!

Using those application I mostly sit in a chair without the need for those dreaded controllers. The 6DOF head movement is anyway spot on.
The thick cable can be a bit annoying, but I seem to come to peace with the IPD.

Where the HP Reverb really shines is the fantastic resolution with it’s 2160×2160 pixel resolution per eye. This is instantly noticeable, and the “too bad the picture quality is not there yet” feeling is now gone. In fact, Assetto Corsa looked so good that my first thought when hitting a car was that this will be expensive.
It’s difficult to describe (or show) the picture quality. You have to see it for yourself.

A bit smaller than the Oculus Rift

It’s easy to put it on to make it fit right. It does not require a lot of fine adjustment. Notice the nose rubber which fully encapsule you from the real world. You will no longer be able to see anything else (like you could in Rift when looking down)

I have only spent a few days with HP Reverb, but I’m already quite happy with it. It is definitely right for my needs which I anticipated and hoped for before buying.
I’m using a GTX1070 and that is a little weak for powering this resolution. I will probably consider RTX2070 which performs close to GTX1080 TI.

HP Reverb is really not aimed for gamers, allthou it is compatible with the Steam VR library, and most games will work.
If you are looking for a general gaming VR headset , then this headset is probably not what you should buy. If you are a Sim gamer, playing flight or racing games, then this headset will give you the best visuals out there (pr June 2019).

What’s wrong with Google ?

This post is not about privacy concerns against Google, but my raising concern on their many products and services.
Google is constantly discontinuing their product lineup. Luckily (for me) I never gave Inbox any interest, which recently announced is being killed end of match 2019.

Earlier I’ve replaced Google Reader with Tiny Tiny RSS. Blogpost here.
Remember Answers, Buzz, Code search, Goggles, Health, iGoogle, Labs, Page Creator or Real-time search ?

Now, what about services that is not discontinued, but simply do not work? 

Google Keep

Keep is a note taking app similar to Evernote and OneNote.

Google keep

The beauty with cloud services like this is that you can easily share your notes with others.

I use Keep mostly to share grocery lists with my wife. Past week the sharing option is broken.  We’ve tried several attempts sharing both ways to no avail.

Google Status Dashboard shows green light and no mention about problems.

Google Photos

Remember Picasa ? A great application for organizing your Photos. It was replaced by the cloud alternative “Photos” in 2016. While Photos still not have all the possibilities Picasa had, it has other advantages like easy backup and sharing.

Past few months the Desktop version (not mobile) has become terribly slow to load thumbnails. Sometimes even impossible. This is how it looks like:

Photos

Luckily the Norwegian cloud storage company Jottacloud has a very similar service that seem to work great as a possible replacement.

Hangouts

Google Hangouts was my main Instant Messenger tool until it stopped giving alerts when new messages arrived (yes I’ve looked into settings more than once).
Obviously, when you don’t get alerted with sound and/or icon, it’s pretty useless.

Movies…

Even if we need a “Spotify” for movies, I think it is far away due to incredibly complicated movie rights. Meanwhile I have decided to purchase my movies on Google Play. It seems like a viable alternative as I’m using Chromecast, and Google should have plenty bandwidth to provide stutter free HD video. 
The problem I have with Google Play is that the movies often is missing Norwegian subtitles, also on the movies where they claim to have. 
Surely, if I have bought a movie and report a claim, I instantly get my money back with their automated claim handling, but I really bought the movie for keeping it in the first place.

Google Search
(new tab Chrome Desktop)

The Microphone button has never been possible to press. It could be related to Norwegian language, but maybe not show it if it doesn’t work Google ?

What is going on?.. and who to contact ?

My intent is not make a rant post about Google. They have still a lot of good things going on, however my issues is real and frustrating, and frankly I don’t know who to turn to except looking for alternatives.

Your own URL shortener

After having my own domain names and websites for decades, I finally got my own URL shortener!
Until now I have been using goo.gl but as with many other Google services it’s being discontinued.

Cloud services is increasingly popular and one of it’s beauty is that all files has a URL that can easily be shared on the internet. Only drawback is that the links tend to be ugly and terribly long.
This is inconvenient in some cases. Maybe you even want to share a link on good old SMS ?

If you have a website you can host your own shortener. The URL will be friendly and more likely to be trusted by your friends.

YOURLS stands for Your Own URL Shortener. It is a small set of PHP scripts that will allow you to run your own URL shortening service (a la TinyURL or bitly). It’s free!
Now you can create your own custom urls or random ones. It even comes with statistics and smart bookmarklets so you can shorten any page in just a single click.

To share a photo, you should avoid sharing a link like this:
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/n6MHE8s-r5nSPBcoNOpM_J-DOwXgcNcFzld2vC01-Ai93eCp0ZNixUgI0-nnsiPleJY7Gw6FV9j-04KK-kmCg8hnzr5RAqTUF92Uzd7Q8XEMBlUcKsuNHUt2QExgETECV76VRAcJ3PXRgReSXjLLuYTzBFBsir9L5ByDAMfbLnFemmJwZrb3NR314ppw19HruA612H5NYkStcmFvTG87L4EiODVz8KZ_mheERUQUIDQr_skSFo2njTiO-QIFCK9h_rgSISc_V3hp-LKy95TwRrmrh6-0epJYhJ1Gp_54m31Q0iH3V9ex_rhCLijueHxucbkqIf4_ofVI2KphyCr7bXkHRZqbqw_No6_3B73SRExIPYiEZV4ciUjmx0dy4tQT64Xh3LcRbq5R7SO9V1hSsilCNaDlv40ogKr9K37oTZPy60geZKifhCGYA0ezKbSn4wZV1nUTGIDQEEFMa8915Oe7GbTCDp-AG-6YWsYKouPO2qjdc_YU23_RtsMTQrKRg8DHSOVyi2vOt_wfG74uqnzqB0mOw2v-1MkCy9g0hvrnClmHnONCiMP5WfyzoTzLLHWrnlYc7ZaLFHW3pZUwIm4R71TqoQRGEPCeh8esLnnigUR_YU_hYuZ09wBPzJkG-xZqr1Br0-JPCZUv8fzGsyBKdgbcf_8Qiw=w1152-h648-no

…when you can share it like this : https://janespen.no/url/bilde

I wonder why this hasn’t been on my radar before.
Get one yourself for your own domain name, or maybe buy a new short name just for this purpose ?

How teleporting and time travel will be possible

It’s been a couple years since my post about Virtual Reality. The BIG breakthrough takes time, but its growing every day. At some point in time, people will realize that VR (and AR) is as significant as the Internet itself.

A couple of months ago I purchased an Oculus Rift. It was an convincing experience. I use it as often as I can. Surely the image quality could be better, but the immersion is as incredible as I hoped it to be.

Why is it immersive ?
Humans are equipped with five senses. We feel, taste, smell, hear and see. Combining these tricks our brain to create a reality.
Technology like the Rift satisfies three of those five senses. By seeing, hearing and using the touch controllers, your brain is largely tricked into believing you are in another place. In this sense, teleporting and time travel is actually possible!
Listen, it is totally possible to trick your brain!

Your physical presence is not a requirement for your experience.

Inevitably, going forward, the image quality, field of view and ease of use will blow your mind.

Watch Ready Player One by Steven Spielberg coming out later this month and you may understand.

Tiny Tiny RSS, a Big Big Thank You!

If you like me want to keep up to date on what’s happening in the world and don’t want Facebook as a single news feed you probably already know about RSS. RSS collects content from all your favorite web sites and presents them to you whenever new content is published. You no longer need to surf around to see if there is something new for you to read.

RSS has been around for ages and RSS clients was normally used until Google Reader became a popular cloud alternative. Unfortunately Google shut down the service in 2013 and chances are that you jumped to Feedly which is a great cloud RSS service.

I have used Feedly ever since, it’s great! However as with many free services companies needs to monetize somehow. Lately Feedly seem to push this more and more adding extra features for subscribers.
But I was adding a new RSS source and that was no longer possible. Now there is a limit on 100 feeds and if you need more you have to pay $65 pr year. But let me say this first, if your needs are well below 100 feeds then I think Feedly is your best option still… at least for now.

Searching for alternatives I found Tiny Tiny RSS, a open source web based RSS reader. I installed this on my server and have been running this for a few weeks now. I’m really impressed with how good it works, and with the right theme I honestly thinks it’s on par with Feedly….atleast for my needs. Now I can add as many sources as I want, and it’s free. There’s even Tiny Tiny RSS apps for Android.

Tip! Feedly allows you to export all your feeds into a opml file and Tiny Tiny RSS allows you to import it.

I said it was free but there is a catch…. you need a server with php/mysql and ideally a php daemon that can run to update the feeds. This is not for everyone to setup and if you need to rent this, its not free anymore.
However if you already have a server you can spare for this, then I can highly recommend Tiny Tiny RSS.
A GREAT open-source alternative and a BIG thank you to the developers.

Are you subscribing to my RSS feed ?

 

Inflatable kayak

Summer is lovely, especially by the water. I have never had the pleasure of owning a boat but this summer I think I found the compromise. Last year I attended a Kayak course and experienced that you get close to the water and can get good exercise as well.
Kayaking is not that expensive, but it could be a struggle to transport it to the sea. I did not have the gear needed for my car and that became an obstacle for me.

Then I found this inflatable Kayak that removed that problem. This came with a backpack that you carry on your back. It is a bit heavy (25kg) so not suitable for very long walks.

Once at your destination, just lay it out on the ground and inflate it. It is three chambers that you need to pump up to 10psi. With the included pump it is done in no time. In addition there is two chairs that needs to be pumped up. This is the Tomahawk 425 model that is 4meters and 25cm long, with good space for two people. There is also a model for one person.

The fabric seems very solid. It has a so called drop-stitch technique that seems very durable. It has a more “defined” shape and not that typical balloon like shape that inflatables often do. It looks great!

All thou this is referred to as a Kayak it has more resemblance with a Canoe. It is open so you don’t sit tucked in. But you paddle it like a Kayak and with the included fin it tracks good in the water. It is a bit slower to maneuver than a small Kayak off course, and the Tomahawk is probably more fitted for a family outing than a sport activity.

After the trip it was easy to deflate the kayak. When releasing the valves high pressure gets out and the kayak is flat very quickly. Then pack it down in the backpack and put it back in the trunk of the car.

The picture is from our first trip with the kayak at a lake called Svartangen near Svarstad in Norway.

Acer Aspire One Cloudbook

In my previous blog post about how great the Acer Aspire One Cloudbook works as a thin client I need to add a few words about it’s operating system. The machine comes with Windows 10 Home 64 bit, version 1511. Problem with Windows 10 is that it auto updates, and there is no space left on the 32GB drive to update to version 1607 (the anniversary update). In my case it did try anyways, offcourse without any notice other than “install updates and shut down”. Next morning when I was going to use the machine it went ahead trying to update and was busy with this for a few hours. Problem is that when I want to use my machine, it cannot be busy with updating windows. Anyway, when done, it all crashed (I suspect due to hdd space), and after one more hour it had restored to the previous version 1511.

After this I realized how not in controlled I was with using this machine with Win10. I therefore went ahead installing Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon 64 bit. If you are doing this, remember to go into BIOS and turn boot from UEFI to Legacy mode. Also to get the touchpad working, set it from Advanced to Simple mode.

Now the machine is running Linux flawlessly and with less system resources. I can still use RDP and Teamviewer to reach my main machine, and the best is that I’m in total control over my Aspire One. It updates only when I tell it to.

Thanks Linux, you saved me once again…

Where a $199 laptop really shines

So I was looking for a laptop with long battery life, SSD disk and i3 or i5 Intel CPU. I was going to use it for some emails, programming and general surfing when I was away from home. I was tempted to buy one of those expensive ultrabooks, but thought it was too much money for my casual use.

When considering what to buy, it’s always a good idea find your real needs. The laptop was only going to be used when I was not in my home office. My main i7 with 16GB RAM is really covering all I need. A laptop would mean that files and software would be on two machines and I had to think of a cloud solution to share the files.
Then it naturally struck me what I really needed. I want to be able to work on my main machine from anywhere.
Obviously when working remotely I never needed a expensive ultrabook because that would just be a total waste of system resources.

So I ended up buying an Acer Aspire One Cloudbook at $199. It has a Celeron N3050 CPU with 2GB RAM and 32GB eMMC drive. Off course the machine is barely useful for anything else than Notepad or Calculator except my main use…. working remotely.

Having used this solution for some weeks now I have all good experiences:

  • The computer has a decent keyboard and a OK screen.
  • Machine is fanless and makes no noise at all (YAY).
  • It is lightweight and small (like an expensive ultrabook)
  • Build quality in general is actually quite good
  • It’s something odd to sit on a $199 computer and see you have 8 CPU threads, 16GB RAM and 3TB HDDs at your disposal.
  • Outstanding battery life (double YAY)

Long battery life was one of my original demands and this computer runs 14 hours straight!!!
Working remotely means even a Celeron CPU have very little work to do. CPU is around 2-10% busy, and memory is using around 1GB (win10), and still there is 1GB left -again good news for battery life.

What about the internet connection with lag and response time working remotely ?
It is (almost) like sitting at my home office. It works amazingly well using Teamviewer. One day I was even connected via 4G using my smartphone to make a wifi signal. It worked impressively well, and it didn’t use much battery either, neither on the phone or the laptop.

So a $199 laptop really shines…when being used as a thin client.

My first full year with Linux

For years I’ve been curious about Linux and have tested it on numerous occasions, mostly on virtual machines or on older hardware. That changed a year ago when I decided to go for Linux Mint on a new SSD drive on my main Quad Core i7 machine with 16GB RAM. It was a couple of months before the release of Windows 10.

So what is my first year experience with Linux Mint as my main OS ?
It has been just GREAT!!. No errors, controlled updates, no unwanted reboots. A intuitive user interface and fantastic performance!
I’ve found replacements of Windows software to fit all my needs and my appreciation for open source software has grown every day. It has not been free of charge. I have donated to a lot of projects to show my gratitude.

It’s fair to share that I’m a relatively conservative user. I think I’m a bit experienced over the years on what to do and what not do to avoid breaking systems. I have probably avoided some crashes just because of that.

A ground rule for keeping a system is to have backups. Naturally I have it for Linux also.
I have quarterly backups (full image) of my SSD using Clonezilla, and daily, weekly and monthly backup of my system installation using Timeshift.
My personal data files are mostly stored in the cloud (at least the important ones).
I have not needed to restore any backup yet, but it sure is a good insurance.

A Linux geek ?
Not at all…. I’m just a regular user of an operating system. If I can avoid using terminal, I will. Although some knowledge is gained around folder structures, terminal, ssh, sudo apt-get install, ls -l, mv, cp and let’s not forget htop.
My main argument is that Linux (as of 2016) is VERY user friendly. It just works….

I actually now think Windows 10 is harder to learn. Microsoft have made it even more difficult with its inconsistent interface having two ways to solve some of the same kind of tasks (old vs new convergence). And what’s up with the forced upgrade ? Many inexperienced users are now using Edge as their main internet browser and wondering, what did just happen ? where is everything ?

Don’t think Microsoft is the only OS. There is many good alternatives out there and most are free -unless you will donate to a good cause…

I will go for Linux Mint for yet another year!

Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee

This post is not so tech related, but its about a show using the Internet as the only distribution channel, so I let it pass.

Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee is a 18’ish minute weekly show about cars, comedians and coffee. The title of the show is as you see pretty accurate.
The show got a lot of attention when Barrack Obama (!) was guest, and that’s when I first heard of it, only to learn the show was in it’s seven season!

Not too bad coming late to the show really. Then I was ready for binge-watching thru comedians like Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, Jim Carrey, Howard Stern, Steve Martin and Will Ferrell.

The show is like a breath of fresh air and is really enjoyable to watch. The different elements makes the concept work well for me. There is something with famous guests and a even more famous host among ordinary people that hits a nerve.

Not sure about the future of the show. Lately they’ve only come up with short “single shots” which is a edit bonanza over old episodes.

Anyway, if you have not heard about it, I can highly recommend the show. Here’s hours of free episodes:

http://comediansincarsgettingcoffee.com