Categories
Rants & Raves

Palm Springs Outings

We just kicked off our “year of living in airbnbs” with a lovely stay in Palm Springs. The warm temps and blue sky were absolutely lovely.

Cristina’s mobility just so-so but plenty of hikes!

aasfasf

Categories
Rants & Raves

Carlos Key Filmaker

My son Carlos Key has a few websites up and the search engines need a little help finding them, so the young filmaker and storyteller can be found when he is being sought!

Carlos Key maintains a catalog of his creative film projects catalog here on youtube. Carlos Key has a developing personal site and photo and work sample portfolio here. And Carlos Key’s professional bio is developing on Linkedin.

Hopefully these links will help you, and search engines, to find the proper Carlos Key information pages!

Carlos Key, filmaker
Categories
Rants & Raves

Back to Mountain Biking

When i lived in california in the 90s i was a huge mountain bike enthusiast—Mt Tam in Marin County was at my backdoor, and I loved the arduous climb and accelerating descent it afforded just minutes from my home in Mill Valley. Somewhere along the way to Washington, Chile, and Beijing i lost track of riding… but on a recent visit to California the idea of off-road biking was reawakened and I’m excited to hit the trails again. The Trailforks app on iOS is an awesome resource to find terrain to explore, and it turns out there is a ton here in Washington state within easy drive of Seattle.

So, after plunking some real money into new bikes for myself and a +1 friend (my son this summer, imagining visiting friends in the future), i thought I’d post the serial numbers and bike descriptions here for safety. I also registered the bikes with the bikeregister.org and 529 Project websites, great community indexes of bikes to help cut down on theft and return of bikes.

For myself, a Specialized Epic Hardtail model that is oh-my-god-so-light. The teal color will hopefully keep me visible to drivers on city roads! Large frame, serial number WSBC614123071N. I have been riding around the city and it really does feel like it “pulls you up the hills” it is so darn slick/light and boy do 25+ years (since my last bike purchase) make a difference in tech!

My son/friend bike is a Specialized Stumpjumper mountain bike, black frame in M, with serial number WSBC604317566P. Red highlights, front and rear shocks, drop post seat, 29” wheels. I look forward to riding both of these, the smaller M frame a slightly better fit for downhill posture and clearance from the frame… as a 5”10 height (down from 5”11 a decade ago?) I’m right on the edge between these M/L frame sizes.

Categories
Voodle

Voodle for iOS Launch

Very excited to kick off life for Voodle for iOS, which launches Monday June 29th 2020. As my son Carlos explains to gen z friends, “Discord and TikTok had a baby and named it Voodle”. To older gen X friends i explain Voodle as a “tiktok for the enterprise” user experience–a short-video a-sync for teams. We started building Voodle before the covid-19 disruptions this spring, so we hadn’t imagined the zoom-fatigue phenomena that is now upon us. As we launch, it really feels like Voodle is a very well timed app that brings lighter-touch, short-form-video, as a compelling alternative to time-sucking synchronous “zoom” meetings that have now started to dominate a lot of professional team interactions.

Voodle for iOS now available from the Apple App Store.

Give Voodle a try with your colleagues at work or other “teams” that you want to share short-video updates with. You can download it now from the apple iOS app store here.

Here’s a screenshot of my Voodle group with colleagues at work: we’ve been using voodles to provide team updates while we are all working remotely. Common voodle themes include project status, meeting summaries, morale updates, working from home checkins… super fun and useful, a great anecdote to #too-many-zoom-meetings.
forest key wearing a voodle football jersey
Dressed in my voodle-f.c. jersey, ready to pounce on social media to update my friends and industry colleagues about the launch of Voodle v 1.0 for iOS.

Nice coverage of Voodle from Venture Beat which says “Voodle’s eponymous software is as efficient in execution as it is in concept.” An app that lets business teams share short video updates, complete with automatically generated captions and transcripts

Categories
Voodle

Voodle Concepts

We are off and running adding content to explain Voodle, and our beta testing is underway. So, excited.

Here’s a blog post on our website i wrote about feature development for voodle.

Categories
Voodle

From VR, onwards to Voodle and voodling

In January of 2020, after nearly 4 complete years working feverishly and with great passion and focus on the virtual reality market opportunity that seemed so bright and shinny and attainable in 2015… my colleagues and I at Pixvana made the painful, but necessary decision, to shut down our product and cease all of our efforts in the XR market. It was just, not, happening. We built something great, really the best v1 product i have ever been a part of in my 30+ years building software. It was elastic, it was cloud based, it had incredible VR native interfaces to build really interest and compelling immersive content. The Quest headset is pretty darn awesome (if only that had been the v1 experience for most consumers!) and we got *great* looking 360 and 180 stereo video working on it, over the network and offline, with a great end-to-end vr video publishing platform we called SPIN Studio. But in hindsight we were 3, or maybe 10 years ahead of any real inflection point in the VR market. After a blast of interesting products and innovation from the likes of google, msft, fb, and htc/valve… by 2019 our industry found ourselves in a ever smaller and nichier market with only FB/Oculus really pretending that there was any future anytime soon… and at their last developer event it felt like even they were just pretending. Soccer mom’s were featured prominently in their product advertisements while teenagers watched from the living room… really?

A fateful business trip that I took in the fall of 2019 to China and then Germany to attend the AWE event in Munich, provided both the death-blow to Pixvana’s VR dreams, and the inspiration to start something new from the ashes, which is what we now call Voodle. In China i had the chance to talk to some of the manufacturers of VR cameras. At the time we were still actively building support for these cameras in our Pixvana SPIN Studio cloud: we were teaching our system the nomenclature for the file naming conventions, the warp and optic parameters to solve high-quality stitches to 8k+ resolution master files, the LUTs for camera exposure gamuts… but these camera manufacturers one-by-one either did not engage with me (when they had in past visits), or, were blunt and honest with me and shared that they had ceased development and manufacturing, and in some cases had sold -through their inventory. VR Cameras were not going to be a thing… which as one of my colleagues said upon hearing, “well, that’s a signal” (understatement).

Beijing in fall 2019, never looked so beautiful as the city was decked-out for the national holidays. As i took in the beautiful beihai park flowers, i contemplated the collapse of the VR camera manufacturer ecosystem that was a precursor to viability for Pixvana’s video production and publishing software pipeline we had spent 4 years building. Not, good, news, for VR video.

A week later at the AWE conference in Munich, the vast majority of interesting activity at the event was not with headsets but rather, with mobile phone screens. Screens at arms-length, and usually with the SELFIE camera as the primary viewing lens onto the world. As much as Snap and Facebook product managers raved about “over 1bn people are doing AR today with their selfie-cameras”, i couldn’t help but feel that a pivot into phone-based-AR applications using pixvana’s IP and brain-trust would be like signing up for another several years of equal or even greater disappointment.

A representative image from the sessions that caught my attention at AWE Munich 2019; Snap and FB/Instagram crowing about how important selfie-cameras are as ecosystems for mobile AR. The takeaway for me, was not an opportunity with AR… rather, with selfie-cameras. This would directly lead to thinking about Voodle.

This 1-2 combo of punches in my face finally snapped me to the realization that many other entrepreneurs had come to in 2019–AR/VR might just not be relevant right now in the world, in any appreciable business scale way. Why would Pixvana continue to spend time on the XR space? Well, after we huddled back at the office, we all agreed we couldn’t.

However, what did strike me as incredibly interesting… in a way that people of my age/generation sometimes struggle to fully comprehend, is just how much people like looking at their selfie-cameras. To take pictures and video of themselves to communicate with loved ones, all day, every day. Over the course of the next several months i started to pay much more attention to how the selfie camera was being used by my family and friends, and the ways and subjects that we communicated to each other in private networks such as Whatsapp and iMessage groups. That, is what led to the kernel of an idea that grew into Voodle.

Essentially, why is it that among my family and friends, almost all of my communications are image, video, and emoji or meme based:

This is what conversations with (left-to-right) a dinner date plan with my wife, a banter about puzzles with my mother, a group chat with friends about a trip to Japan, and a critical 49ers game-day discussion with my dad, look like on my phone. Emojis, memes, photos, and videos. Very, very little text.

Yet when i’m at work, i’m 99% grounded in text. Long TL;DR text in email applications like gmail, back and forth short messages with an occasional URL or small jpeg thumbnail in Slack or Teams, and sometimes sharing documents such as in Highspot or Onedrive or Google Drive. This schism is plainly evident when looking at my phone screen; if it is text, i’m working, if it is friends and family, it is photos/videos/images. This seems incorrect on many levels?

This is what my daily conversations look like at work: text, more text, more text, some documents, more text, an occasional small jpeg image/thumbnail, and more text…

So what if our work related communications looked a lot more like how i communicate with friends and family? That’s the basic kernel of an idea that led us to create voodle.

Here are my work conversations that previously would have been lots of short text, or worse, TL;DR emails, re-imagined with lots and lots of video.

A “voodle” is a short “video-doodle” that can be posted and shared among work colleagues. These may be insights into customers, competitors, operations, morale and culture insights… we are going to figure out together with our beta-testers. But what we can already feel with our early tests, is that it is *transformational* to communicate with work colleagues in a manner more similar to that we use with friends/family already. 2 billion consumers on their cellphones can’t be wrong!

We are working on voodle! I will write more about voodle soon. I’m excited, as is the team, to share voodle and voodles and voodle pools…

Categories
Rants & Raves

On the death of my son

As part of my grieving i wanted to write about my son’s passing. This post will be a work in progress that i will iterate on, as I am inspired to write.

I read a book back in summer of 1992 called On the Death of My Son. It was an interesting book which tells the real life story of a father’s experience with his son’s death, and a series of insights and connections to the meaning he got from that experience (including a sense of connecting to his son and hearing about the afterlife). As much as anything, the title of the book has stuck with me and it is with a sad heart that as of Feb 29th of this year 2020, i have experienced the death of my youngest son Caetano. He was 16.

Caetano and me in Beijing in 2008, hiking the great wall together. Ultraman in hand, one of my favorite childhood toys passed from one generation to the next. He would grow up to love all things Japan and Japanese.

My wife and I and our son Carlos put together a memorial site for Caetano Key, which has been visited 10k+ times by over 3000 visitors in its first weeks. The many lovely text messages, emails, notes, flowers, food, and other expressions of love and caring for our family have been incredibly uplifting and we feel part of a larger community. And yet, we are devastated. We miss Caetano in so many ways we couldn’t possibly document or convey.

We are however, ok. I’ll let my wife and son tell their own stories on their own channels. I am ok because i’m feeling many intense feelings, but i’m making good progress feeling them, and understanding my grief. These include:

  • I’m angry. I’m angry at Caetano for trying drugs and not taking the risks of illicit drugs seriously. When he was 11 i had a long conversation with him about all drugs that I could name, and their effects, their joys, and their risks. We did this together in the car while driving to Whistler to ski. His brother was with us. I talked about tobacco, alcohol, psychedelics, stimulants, and depressants like opioids. I told him it was likely that he and his brother might at some point in their lives experiment with drugs. I tried to impart to him a strong boundary with addiction, and risky behavior when under the influence that could lead to physical or emotional harm. I shared with him some of the trauma in my own life that came from family members and my own personal experience with certain drugs. Caetano experimented with drugs: too many of them, and too often. His teenage brain didn’t appreciate the risks. He thought he had it under control. He didn’t. We sought help for him from specialists. He became a nicotine addict (thanks Juul, you bastards), he became a frequent pot and psychedelics tripper, and then the gift of the Sackler family to america, the nefarious opioid epidemic got a hold of him and he became a statistic, one of ~70k people dying a year in america. But this anger has been healing as well. Because being able to feel the anger, but then surrender to it and understand that i didn’t cause his addiction, i couldn’t control his addiction, and I couldn’t cure it… i’m ok with it. His addiction was his. I can only work on my feelings, and being angry is a waste of emotion and time–i want to direct those cycles to doing good in the world for myself and others.
  • I have tons of regrets. At work i often talk with my colleagues about “if you don’t have any regrets about how you did things in the past, then you didn’t learn anything”. There are 16 years of regrets in my relationship with my son. Prime among them, i wish i had been a lot more emotionally in tune with him and empathetic to some of the ways in which he experienced the world. Caetano was brilliant and funny and kind and a type A personality that wanted to try everything at least 1 time, no matter the consequences. He was also more anxious, and sensitive to how others perceived him, than i understood or could directly relate to. He and i shared real moments of connection where we were together and really emotionally bonded–i regret there weren’t many, many more of those moments. There are also tactical regrets–i wish i hadn’t given him access to an ipod touch and later an iphone, at the early age of 4th grade. I wish that we had gotten him better psychological support and more consistent support, earlier in his life. I regret not having learned CPR, so that i could have maybe saved his life when he went into cardiac arrest in our home at 3am, from a overdose of street purchased Fentanyl. These regrets make me feel sad and anxious… but they also make me feel ok, because they remind me of the many ways that i’ve grown and learned, thanks to my time with Caetano.
  • I have no regrets. I’ve read many Greek tragedies where fate dictated horrible outcomes, inescapably, for the protagonist. Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by one of my favorite authors  Gabriel García Márquez, was a frustrating experience to read — i constantly wanted to step in and save the character from his fate, as the very title of the book tells you that the main character will die. But even in a tragic ending, the story is full of redeeming life moments that were worth living. Caetano died at the age of 16. I am glad he was a part of my life for those years I had him: through the joyous moments, the maddening/frustrating ones, and ultimately through to his tragic end. I never thought his challenges in life would lead to such a sudden end; but now that they have, i feel at peace with some cosmic purpose and destiny. It is and was, by definition, his journey in life.
  • I have a very strong sense of peace that comes from my material atheist faith. I believe Caetano is one with the universe. Literally, i believe his essence and spirit and physical self are all, now, inexorably intertwined with all matter and all beings, in a peaceful way. I’m not worried about him.

But mostly i’m just sad. I’m sad because of the lost opportunity to meet and befriend the adult Caetano that was yet to come. I imagined years of continued work on our communication and relationship, of good times and bad times. I wanted to see the 2nd act in his life, post teenager. To continue to learn from him. To watch from afar and follow his journey with curiosity and fondness and a father’s love. I had many plans for me and the adult Caetano, including:

  • We had such a good time visiting Japan together for spring break when he was 13, just the two of us. We traveled on trains, ate adventurously in restaurants, marveled at large and fanciful Buddhist temples, took a okonomiyaki cooking class, shopped for manga and other J-curios, and bathed in a onsen near mount Fuji. At the time i thought we would have a dozen such trips together, father and son, in our lives. That was our last 1:1 trip.
  • One summer i convinced him to train with me for a 10k race. At first he had a hard time committing to train, and complained. But then he found that runner’s rhythm and became a fast and long runner, completing a 14k training run on his own and letting me know via text message. He was proud of himself. I was proud of him. We had a great race day together, and i remember how happy he was at the finish line as we crossed together in a feverish sprint. I thought we would have many more races together… not now when he was a surly teenager, but perhaps in 5 or 10 years. We never ran together again.
  • Most of the quality time we had spent together in the last 18 months was in therapy. We had family therapy weekly, and it wasn’t always a joy or even productive. But some times it was… sometimes it was really great. He and I and his mom and brother all went to therapy individually as well, and we would convene as a quad-team to share what progress we were making individually, and as a family group. It was hard work. But it was rewarding. It has changed me profoundly, allowing me to grow emotionally in ways i haven’t ever before in my life. I was looking forward to more years of discussing our individual work, and more sessions together helping each other to grow.
The moment of joy for both Caetano and I as he took his first steps as a 1 year old. One of many, many happy moments together in his 16 years.

I’m sad. I’m happy. I’m angry. But mostly, i’m ok. Taking it a day at a time, and a week at a time, and know that Caetano will be with me the rest of my life.

I love you Caetano, always.

Categories
Voodle

Onwards to voodle

Voodle is a vegetarian noodle, but it is also a great name for a software product? Video-doodles! Voodles are plural, voodle is a noun (“i made a voodle”), and voodle is a verb (“voodle it and it shall be done!). So, voodle, fun word right?

As far as voodle is concerned: Vamos Chile, mierda! as they say in chile…
voodle logo
Categories
Pixvana

Pixvana SPIN Play for iOS

Well after 4 years at Pixvana chasing after the dream of VR and headset based immersive storytelling, today marked a huge milestone–we shipped our first iOS release of SPIN Play. It turns out that the billion+ users of mobile phones and iPads are a super compelling audience for immersive storytelling, and while it wasn’t our initial target, it is the most exciting milestone in our team’s journey.

Pixvana SPIN Play can play any interactive video content authored by SPIN Studio: flat rectilinear videos, 180 or 360, and soon AR content as well. Our web-player is a embed-able short-url hosted full-player (available at http://www.spinxr.com), and we now have native iOS and Oculus app store versions for phones, ipad/iphone, and VR headsets)

You can get Pixvana SPIN Play for iOS now from the Apple App Store for iOS devices. iPad only release today but iPhone will be out shortly (we did a vertical layout for phones which is more comfortable in your hand given how big phones have gottent).

Here’s a default playlist of immersive stories running in Pixvana SPIN Play for iOS (iPad UI)
Categories
Pixvana

Unfurling URLs

Ok so we are adding support to Pixvana SPIN Studio to share URLs more easily of what we call SPINs, playlists of content. Here’s our default SPIN that loads when you download our player app, SPIN Play, from various app stores (iOS App Store, Oculus, etc.):

https://spinxr.com/JBH-8JF-7TC

Note that now i will add that to this page with embed code (note this is FAILING):

Here it is or is not?

Here’s what wordpress does when i simply paste in the Youtube URL for sharing: https://youtu.be/ZI9bKHCVNRM

And this is what wordpress does when i paste the Youtube link into their “Youtube” embed block:

Here’s wordpress barfing on my attempt to use their youtube block, for a spinxr url. doesn’t allow (malformed condition)

Categories
Rants & Raves

Shoreditch Street Art

I had a lovely art-walk experience this week in Shoreditch neighborhood of London led by David Stuart of http://www.shoreditchstreetarttours.co.uk and wanted to make note for others. I had of course seen Exit Through the Gift Shop, superb film on the street art scene and the artist Banksy in particular, so it was with wondrous glee that i set out with David to see some of the many rich art-installations dotted in the streets of this neighborhood.

Categories
Pixvana

I had XR-vu, and I liked it!

XR-vu“, or “VR-vu”…whichever term comes into vogue in the near-future, i want to go on record as saying that it happened to me a few weeks, ago, and I liked it–a lot!

Me wearing a VR headset in the middle of the street, illustrating just how wild and crazy VR experiences can feel? Or, posing for a photo-shoot we did at Pixvana so that we had interesting pictures of people in VR headsets, for blog posts like this, illustrating our experiences in VR! Actually, a very good image that conveys my astonishment at feeling XR-vu for the first time.

Yes i’m playing on the word “deja-vu“, that oh so fun feeling of experiencing something and having a sense of foreboding or otherworldly prescience, as though you’ve previously dreamed of the moment or even lived the moment, in a different state of consciousness? Well play with me for a moment–take that feeling, and now imagine what that feels like when it arises because you HAVE experienced the moment before… but in Virtual Reality or another form of XR (extended reality)?

That’s what i experienced a few weeks ago when I visited Ollantaytambo Peru, a lovely Andean village about 2 hrs outside of Cusco, the former empire capital of the Incas. I had been to the region before, about 30 years ago when i was backpacking for 18 months after college. However, i had never been to Ollantaytambo’s ruins–not in person. But I did visit Ollantaytambo in Virtual Reality, in a detailed, compelling experience that was built by Microsoft as an example of how tourism and travel might be conveyed using VR. It shipped as Microsoft HoloTour, a demonstration app that launched in 2017. This technical document describes what the team did to build the Holotour experience of Ollantaytambo–quite interesting mix of techniques to photographically capture and convey the site.

Unfortunately i couldn’t find any images to illustrate the experience in the headset–suffice to say that in Holotour, i experienced standing in the midst of the Ollataytambo ruins… and when i visited these dame ruins in April of 2019, i had a triple-take moment that flooded my brain with a sense of *very* strong “deja-vu” like cues. Have i been here before? Why does this place seem so familiar? Did I dream it?

Here I am in Ollantaytambo’s Inca ruins, marveling at the beauty of the region, and the astonishing stone-work that pervades Inca sites.
This rock formation is what strongly triggered my sense of XR-vu, as it was prominently featured in the Microsoft Holotour visit to the same site.

No, i had never been here. But yes, i was here in Virtual Reality! Wow. WOW. It was all the fun of deja-vu, times at least 5x… or maybe 10x. It really showed me the difference between seeing a picture or a movie, and having been immersed and felt the unique compelling experience of *presence* that is the hallmark of XR/VR, which triggers activity in the human brain that forms actual spatial *memories* that i was then recollecting/remembering, as though they were real. I don’t know if this feeling would always be as strong, say, if i had felt this sensation many times before? But it was incredibly interesting, and i wanted to first at the podium to share it and i look forward to writing about it more and discussing it with others as they have XR-vu of their own!

Anyone else experience XR-vu of VR-vu?

A wider view of the amazing, beautiful Inca site at Ollantaytambo.
Categories
Rants & Raves

Beijing and Pingyao Visit 2019

We just had a wonderful trip to Beijing and for the first time had a chance to do some side trips to Pingyao.  Was fun to take the bullet-train in china for the first time, it’s about 3.5 hrs to Pingyao from Beijing West Train Station.  The little town is beyond charming and surrounded by a centuries old wall and towers.  We saw no western tourists at all (winter season likely had something to do with it) and stayed in a delightful boutique hotel called Jing’s Residence.  The hotel is right in the midst of the old town, with delightful set meals and comfy beds.  A bit on the pricey side for the town, but *well* worth it.  Highly recommend Pingyao as a Beijing side-trip, as others had recommended to me!

By the way, we hired a private car and driver in Beijing and absolutely loved this service. Eric runs a very good operation, our driver was super awesome, punctual, drove very safe, was in easy contact over WeChat to find and organize drops/pick-ups.  Will be recommending to all my friends that visit Beijing.

Here’s some shots from Pingyao:

Ok this is the discovery of the trip, a local specialty called Kau Lao Lao, a oat-based pasta arranged in a honeycomb pattern, with toppings of various kinds (pictured with lamb and a tomato broth of sorts, which tasted of lamb-raggu but didn’t look like it).  This was the best new food i’ve had in maybe a decade!  Where have you been all my life, Kau Lao Lao?

2019 02 Carlos China Trip-1172

Standing on the west-gate above the bustling streets below:

2019 02 Carlos China Trip-1159

Walking around the perimeter of the wall, probably a good 3+ mile circumference although some construction kept us from looping the entire city.

2019 02 Carlos China Trip-1154

Near the center of town amongst the bustle.

2019 02 Carlos China Trip-1113

Categories
Pixvana

My Japan Recommends

Just putting a quick note on some of my top recommends from Japan as i get a lot of requests and have been having to cobble together for friends.  Here’s a starter list:

Pro-tips in general:

  • Use this amazing site that has great english pages: https://pocket-concierge.jp to book restaurant reservations with many michelin-star and otherwise foody and hard to get reservation locations in Japan.  Most japanese restaurants don’t have good english websites and don’t take english phone calls.
  • Buy a japan-rail pass before flying to japan, activate it at Narita or other JR Rail station.  Huge savings over buying tickets individually or locally in japan after arrival, 7 or 14 day passes, you can make reservations for multiple trips at any JR Rail station and have nice comfy chairs, reserved seats, and tons of fun.  Riding the bullet trains never gets old, great fun and way to get around the entire country.  lots of google ads take you to vendors who sell the passes, all are licensed, but i used this one.

Tokyo

  • Amazing Tsukiji market tour and private cooking class, this was insanely good.  We did this before the move of the market out of central tokyo to god-knows-where.  But this company was top shelf, and the experience insanely good.  Best sushi meal of the trip, and fun for family with 2 teenagers not easily impressed: http://www.tsukijimarket.jp/

Kyoto

  • Really reasonable great location boutique hotel.  Cheap/great-value, and good location.  I’ve stayed in 5+ hotels in Kyoto that were all more $$ and lesser locations.  Very, very small rooms, but comfy.   Kyoto Granbell Hotel.
  • Phenomenal 6-person, michelin-star sushi restaurant, best i’ve had in Kyoto, well worth the $150 fixed price experience for 3hrs of entertainment and close-magic-cooking. Sushi Gion Matsudaya.
  • Great Kyoto cooking class in a private home with a woman-chef who has pro-kitchen experience overseas.  Great english, great tour of the market before or after to buy directly from vendors (in the big central Kyoto market), great location, really neat small private home with good kitchen.  We spent 3-4 hours with her, were entertained, and great meal.  Very price reasonable.  Contact Midori Nukumizu at her email: bungahijau2012@yahoo.co.jp.
  • My teenage boy loved this ninja dojo where they had a several hour private ninja training class, they *loved*.  Good for teens boys and girls.
  • Insanely good coffee, several locations, be prepared to wait in line for 15-30 minutes… worth it and fun to wait in line in expectation of great coffee!
  • Do a day trip out and back to Nara, amazing walks from train station to dozens of temples including insanely old/awesome/etc.

Himeji

  • If you have the JR Pass, consider taking a morning side-trip from Kyoto on the bullet train to the city of Himeji, to check out the Himeji castle.  OMG, insanely awesome… apparently the best/oldest/original castle in the country.  So. Cool.  Better day/morning trip than others from Kyoto IMHO.
  • Before or after the castle go to the rope-way and up to a hiking area for a 2-3 hr trek around some old temples that were used in several films including the tom cruise japan film about samurai. Shoshazan Engyo-ji Temple, via the rope-way called Mount Shosha Ropeway

Onomichi – coming soon

Fukuoka – coming soon

Miyajima Island – coming soon

Kanazawa – coming Soon (Kiragawa Go, Takayama day trips)

Hiroshima – coming soon

Nagasaki – coming soon

Categories
Pixvana

Unboxing Kandao Obsidian R VR Camera

Just unboxing a Kandao Obsidian R VR Camera, this is going to become my personal VR blogging / testing camera, i really like the form factory and the quality of shots is excellent.

First observations which are important to others considering buying:

  • Box includes the camera, and a PPOE power injector.  And not much else.
  • NO included LP6 Canon Batteries (2 required to shoot with battery power)
  • NO micro SD memory cards.  they recommend U3 class, 100mb speed cards.  I have ordered a set of 6x64gb to start
  • The power cable for the PPOE adapter is a european plug standard, useless in the USA.  This camera was purchased from Kandao directly and drop-shipped from China… perhaps ordering from other sources will yield the proper power cable.
  • Not much else in the box.  The nice carrying case is kind of overkill, i plan to carry this around with me in a wrapped towel in my luggage so it can go on/off planes with me easily.

Categories
Pixvana

Obituary: Luis Emilio Casanueva Tagle

Our papa Emilio Casanueva passed away Friday May 25th, 2018, at the Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara CA.  He was surrounded with love and affection with family.  Emilio was born in Chile in 1939 and immigrated to the USA with his young family and eventually settled on the west coast in Marin County CA.  Early in his career he opened Campolindo, an innovative health-food store in San Anselmo in the 1970s, and he maintained a life-long interest in health foods and active living.  He was the founder of La Barraca de Zapallar and Zapallar Sustentable, and a designer/builder of dozens of delightful homes in Chile, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Santa Barbara.  One of Emilio’s greatest passions in life was ocean swimming.  He was a founder of swimming clubs and events including the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Org, and social swimming groups Patos del Mar / Ocean Ducks.  He published a book on innovative cooking recipes using Cochayullo.

Emilio was a loving and active father to his 5 sons: Luis Andres, Santiago, Forest, Joaquin, and Roberto.  He was an adoring and fun-loving father-in-law to Laura and Cristina.  He was a cool and relaxed grandpa to Emilio Jr (and wife Andrea), William, Camila, Carlos, Caetano, and Ava.  He had the joy of meeting his first great-granddaughter Nyla this year.  His dearest friend and big-brother Catucho survives him, together with his wife Angelica and their many children and grand-children, who knew Emilio intimately and delighted in his company.  His nephews Carlos and Diego Casanueva were very dear to his heart, as were Andrea, Angelica, Mario, Cote, Maria, and their partners “Gordo”, “Caco”, Luz Maria, and “Negro”.  Emilio’s former wives and co-parents remember him fondly and with great love and affection: Maria and Jane.  In Emilio’s last years of life, he had the incredible fortune of returning to Zapallar where he lived some of his most joyous moments together with Francisca who he absolutely adored.

He was beloved and he loved his many friends in the communities in which he lived.  He was particularly fond of his life-long friends in Chile and in the USA that shared his passions for swimming, good company, and positive outlooks.

Our family is planning a memorial for Emilio in Zapallar to be held at a later date.  His in memorium facebook page is a place to post photos and memories of him.

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Categories
Rants & Raves

Remove and Replace Ford Focus RS mk3 Billet Badges/Emblems

My 2017 Ford Focus RS (mk3) is a joy to drive and i like its styling.  I’m a first time Ford owner, and got in on the “made in USA” car thing just in time for Ford to discontinue all future sales of car vehicles (except for Mustang) which might work out just fine for me, as I think of this project car as a long-term toy to use for track and occasional car outings.  Now it will also be the last ford hot-hatch made for a long time?!  Bonus.

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When i looked over the exterior stylings of the car one of the things that stood out for me as a eyesore is the blue on white stock “billet badges”, the thing on the hood and the trunk that say “Ford” in the classic font.  I found a custom fabricator and design shop called Billet Badges that had awesome designs, and when i contacted them they assured me that as long as I was patient and gave them time (turned out to be about 4 months) to design and spec the new billets, they’d be happy to do a custom design.  I went with “Fury” in the same Ford font, which feels playful and true to the original mark, but unique and a tribute to the awesome heroine Furiosa from the last Mad Max Fury Road film.

The badges came a few weeks ago and I got started on install over the last day and wanted to post my findings/process for others thinking of this kind of mod.

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Here’s the first headline:  Be warned, the Ford Focus RS mk3 (2016-2018) front billet badge (“ford emblem” on hood) does indeed have screws that need to be removed from inside the engine bay. Floss and a heat gun alone will get you nowhere!  I was unable to find any videos or posts that correctly showed this install challenge. Floss alone will rip and hurt your hands–this job requires unfastening two screw bolts from under the front bumber/face of the hood.

Let’s jump right to the problem piece.  Using a heat gun (to warm up the pieces and make the glue that binds them to the surface a little looser/easier to manipulate) is a great first step and I’ve used to remove several outer badges on this and other cars.  Then, using tooth-floss, you can shimmy the floss between the surface and the badge, with a back-and-forth motion gently bitting into the adhesive and releasing the bond, eventually leading to the piece/badge popping right off.

But not with the front badge, which looks like this:

You can see the removed emblem and the fasteners. Note the thick plastic screws that are fused to the emblem and are threaded.  Those little fasteners are threaded onto the end of the two outer plastic aligners.  DO NOT try to rip/pull this off, you’ll damage the body fender/bumper.  Instead, go in through the engine compartment, get behind the badge, and use some pliers to twist/turn the fasteners off.  Then the piece will come off with some gentle tugging and the floss/cutting of the glue-binding.  When off, you’ll see this:

There is lots of adhesive to break down.  A little elbow grease, some Goo Remover fluid, and some gentle scrubbing and fingernail work, and voila:

I then placed the new billet badge in the slot to see if the fit was right, and was amazed at *perfect* fit.  Flush to the hood, perfect depth, oval size, etc.

Now onto the back tailgate.  Turns out the badge in the back is NOT fastened, rather, is simply pushed in through some alignment holes.  here’s what the piece looks like removed, with some floss to loosen the grip, and some gentle tugging.

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And the tailgate hole after some cleanup:

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I did have a fit problem with the back, you can see here that i could fit a US 1 cent penny in the gaps that remained around the badge, to be flush with the body of the tailgate:

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Here’s the same view, from flush above, without the penny in place:

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I contacted the friendly folks at Billet Badges and they said to send back and they would grind down the width of a penny, i think we agreed on a few mms.  When it came back a week later, perfect:

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So in summary, here below are (left) the FRONT badge, which has screw fasteners and needs to be loosened from inside the engine bay, the (right) rear badge, which has alignment push-in plastic protrusions (can simply be pulled off after loosening the glue bond), and the back of my new badges which are smooth, with the Made in the USA sticker (thanks again BilletBadges.com!)

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And here is the front after it is fully installed:

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And a wider shot, with my now more recently added decal stripes:

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e, voila!
Categories
Pixvana

We shipped Pixvana SPIN Studio!

These people (including some that aren’t pictured):

pixvana teamJust shipped our first baby, Pixvana SPIN Studio:

  • Pixvana SPIN Studio is an amazing new tool for storytelling with video for Augmented and Virtual Reality.  The suite has a lot of components still to come, but our MVP is something we are super proud and excited by–it provides workflow support for optimizing and publishing high quality VR videos to both our SPIN Play SDK and SPIN Play.  Login to Pixvana SPIN Studio here.
  • Our SPIN Play SDK is in the hands of our partners who are building their own branded players, the first of these to be live is Valve’s Steam 360 VR Video player, in beta now.  Many more to come.  Learn more about the SPIN Play SDK here.
  • The video player component of the Studio is called SPIN Play.   SPIN Play is available on Steam for download for use with both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.  This is the player for reviewing and sharing VR videos–think of it as a b2b player (it is not a consumer portal for videos!) . Versions for other platforms including Gear VR and Daydream VR, coming soon to Google Play and other Android app stores.

Here’s a quick getting started overview:

Much more coming soon!

Categories
Pixvana

Zapallar in VR Project – Start

We just got back from a lovely spring break in Zapallar Chile visiting family.  We took a Omni VR Camera Rig with us and spent a day shooting the areas along the Zapallar-to-Cachagua coastal area and upon my return and review of the footage i’m really excited by how it looks.  I’ve got my 15 year old cineast son working on building a ~5m piece for VR which we’ll master at 8k+ using Pixvana’s software.

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For now i wanted to post a few photos and production stills:

Just getting going with the equarectangular 4k elements… really exciting project.

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Here’s a rough play-out of all shots:

And here’s an extremely rough, early version of the footage.  Carlos will be doing a proper edit, sound design, effects, titles, giving it narrative cohesion, etc.  Then we’ll master at full 8k and publish with Pixvana’s SPIN Studio.  But here’s a preview of work in progress:

 

Categories
Pixvana

Sofia the VR Explorer by Jesse Link

Seattle fine artist Jesse Link completed a commissioned piece for me to adorn the Pixvana office.  He completed the piece and dropped by our office last week, and my colleagues and I are totally psyched.

My wife and I came across Jesse’s work in various Seattle cafes and first asked him to paint a piece for our home a few years ago.  As a fan of his work, he immediately came to mind when we moved into our new Pixvana office on Stone Way in Fremont/Wallingford, and I looked around at the walls longing for some inspirational art and color to liven things up.

At work we have frequently talked about our journey and Pixvana’s mission/vision as a company focused on building a Virtual and Augmented Reality storytelling technology platform.  We often use the 1933 classic film King Kong as a metaphor/framework for our own journey, because the film is (a) an absolute classic of the cinema, and (b) the movie contains a meta-story about film-making and pursuing a journey of discovery.

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We named Jesse’s protagonist “Sofia” after Sofia Coppola, an inspiring film director.  Our Sofia is seen packed and ready to go with her VR Camera, VR headset, and tools for her adventure into the great adventure that lays ahead.

Thank you Jesse–your art piece will be a constant companion to us on our journey in the years ahead.

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Seattle fine artist Jesse Link, pictured with his piece “Sofia the VR Explorer” and team members of VR video software company Pixvana, at Pixvana office in September 2016.

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Sofia the VR Explorer, by Jesse Link