360 Video – Google’s Take

Google and their YouTube are moving toward 360 video. The site Voices of VR Podcast has an interview with Google reps. See the article: YouTube VR Wants to Find the Next Billion Dollar Genre That Hasn’t Been Created Yet.

This video is from the New York Times, taken in Falluja, Iraq August 2016. It is a 360 video. You can drag the view around as it plays. I think it works amazingly well.

For viewing on my 2D screen it is a bit of a pain. I can’t always tell what the point of the clip is and have to pan around to see what it might be. I suppose in VR with directional sound it would be more… useful? Enjoyable? I think as each scene fades in from black that a direction needs to be set so one is looking at the subject of the clip.

Space the Final Frontier, or Not

Do you know anything about the United Nations Outer Space Treaty, passed in 1967? Did you know it forbids the claiming of territory beyond Earth? Even if you get there, spending billions, you cannot own the land/asteroid. Cutting off any assurance you can recover your costs or gain any reward.



That relegates space exploration to governments and large corporations. Government has once again killed creative incentive.

Bob Zimmerman writing for the Federalist in Jumpstart Space Settlements suggests repealing the treaty and replacing it with the American Homestead Act of the 1800’s. That resulted in the rapid expansion of America into the west.

The keyword is ‘rapid’. The act provided for a return on investment. I suppose few people know that the rail line from the east to the west was incentivized by allowing the rail roads to claim two sections of land on each side of every mile of rail laid.

Land with all the possibilities of hidden wealth is an incredible incentive. The UN Treaty eliminates that incentive. So, for 50-years space exploration has remained in the hands of the governments and wealthy.

In the 1800’s moving west was thought too expensive for the poor. With the promise offered by the Homestead Act that changed. Will we do something similar with space?

NASA Refocused?

You may not realize that US$1.9 billion of NASA’s 2016 budget (US19+ billion) was going to climate study. If my sources can be believed. The 2017 NASA Transition Authorization Act (S. 442 – link) supposedly reallocates the funding. Figuring out exactly how is unclear, at least to me. But, the words ‘climate’ and ‘weather’ do not appear in the text of the bill. Nor are all dollars assigned a place other than NASA.

Following this bill gets bit confusing. Sen. Ted Cruz introduced a bill prepared in the Obama days: S.3346 – National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2016. It got tabled as the 114th session of Congress (2015-16) ran out of time. Continue reading

Gaming in 2016 – Predicting 2017?

According to SuperData Research  people spent US$91,000,000,000 on games. Billion… This is an all-time record. But, they are hyping things a bit. In 2015 Statistica shows $91.5 billion spent and $99.6 billion in 2016. I suppose it depends on where one gets their numbers and categorizes them. Game revenue is notoriously flaky as companies like to hype their increasing sales and keep decreases secret.

Still that is about a 10% increase year-to-year. Eight billion isn’t chump change, unless your spending $10 trillion on credit, like some governments…

Data From Statistica

They break the revenue down into subcategories. Handheld games are dying. Smartphone games are the hot item. They show the largest growth from 2015 to 2016 and that is expected to continue, which seems reasonable as smartphones are selling well.

In 2005 smartphones sales were just $3.8 billion. Eleven years later in 2016 sales of smart phones was $55 billion, a 1,447% increase. So, as more people get smartphones there are more possible users of smartphone games. According to Statistica a little less than half of the 2016 game revenue was from smartphone gaming. Continue reading

Philosophy: Do you know what the Ignorance Project is?

I used to be surprised at how little people know, especially about current events and important political subjects. I’ve gotten over it. I’ve moved on to the psychology of changing minds.

Ignorance Project

I’m not the only one concerned about ignorant people messing up the world in their effort to make things better. In a 2014 presentation by TED (About) we learn about global ignorance and what can be done about it. Continue reading

Tech and Space 2016 w/47

I like science and math. Science is the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. To practice science one needs observations and experiments.

On the observation side, Nov 19th the NOAA GOES-R weather satellite was launched.

Launches and later positioning are not as simple as one might imagine. Getting into a geo-stationary orbit at the correct place is no simple thing. It is expected to take 16 days to maneuver and test the satellite before it is in the right place. Then a year of testing follows. Depending on the results and the health of other GOES satellites this new satellite will park over either the east or west coast of America.  Continue reading