I played ‘Minecraft’ with Microsoft’s HoloLens

“Try to look straight,” a Microsoft employee tells me in a bright, cheery tone. I’m staring through an unusual pair of binoculars — the kind that’s normally used to test your eyesight in an optometrist’s office. My gaze is locked on the piercing white light inside, but I can feel my sleep-deprived eyes beginning to tire. “Oh, you’ve moved again,” my guide mutters with a hint of disappointment. I’m sitting in a small meeting room deep inside London’s Excel Exhibition Centre, waiting for the distance between my eyes to be measured. It’s not even 9AM, but already the first Minecraft fans are spilling through for the second day of Minecon — a fan convention that celebrates the blocky building game invented by Markus “Notch” Persson. Once an indie darling, the imaginative sandbox title is now a global phenomenon played by millions of children and adults around the world. But today, instead of queuing for pictures with creepers and famous YouTubers, I’m waiting to play Minecraft on HoloLens.

While Oculus, Sony and Valve are busy working on virtual reality (VR), Microsoft is focusing on something else entirely: augmented reality (AR). With the HoloLens headset, you can visualize and manipulate digital images overlaid on the physical world. One of its most impressive showings to date was at E3 in Los Angeles this year, where Microsoft demoed an AR version of Minecraft. The player was able to project the game onto a wall and later place the entire world on a coffee table. Unsurprisingly, the crowd went nuts. Now, here at Minecon, I’ve been given the chance to try the same demo for myself.

via I played ‘Minecraft’ with Microsoft’s HoloLens.

 

Posted in Interesting, MSFT, Tech | Leave a comment

Where did the word OK come from and what does it actually mean?

 

We say it almost everyday. When friends text to meet at 7. Ok. When your boss hands you an assignment. Ok. When you need to pay the bill. Ok. And so on. But where did that term come from? What did it first mean? This interesting word breakdown from Arika Okrent dives into the real origin of OK and reveals how it’s similar to the OMG and LOL of today.

via Where did the word OK come from and what does it actually mean?.

Posted in Interesting | Leave a comment

First Look At Axanar, The Star Trek War Movie We’ve Waited Decades For

Star Trek fans have been curious for years about the Battle of Axanar, the decisive turning point in the war against the Klingon Empire. And now, a new unofficial movie will show what really happened at Axanar, and how Captain Garth triumphed. Here’s your first image from Star Trek: Axanar, exclusively at io9!

This image was sent to us by Robert Meyer Burnett, who was involved in Axanar in a producing capacity and has just taken over as director. Burnett, who directed the classic comedy Free Enterprise, explains the image to us: “This is Gary Graham, once again playing Ambassador Soval (from Star Trek: Enterprise), and Kim Fitzgerald playing a new character, Vulcan Minister T’Lera (who may or may not be the same character from Margaret Wander Bonanno’s terrific 1987 TREK novel Strangers from the Sky.) They are discussing a very dire vote the Vulcan High Council has just made, which would have potentially dire consequences for the entire Alpha and Beta quadrants.”

via First Look At Axanar, The Star Trek War Movie We’ve Waited Decades For.

Posted in Interesting, Movie | Leave a comment

The Spaceport

The Spaceport

THE ANNOUNCEMENT

On June 30, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that the City of Houston had been approved as home to the United States’ 10th licensed commercial spaceport. The Spaceport would be located at Ellington Airport, just south of the downtown area, and would offer the nation’s fourth-largest city a focal point for aerospace innovation – a regional center for a cluster of aerospace activities, including but not limited to:

  • Component and composite development and fabrication
  • Space vehicle assembly
  • Zero-gravity scientific and medical experiments
  • Micro satellites
  • Astronaut training and development
  • Space tourism

THE PLANT

With the Houston application already approved by the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, the Houston Airport System (HAS) now turns its attention toward securing partnership opportunities with leading companies operating within the aerospace industry.

via The Spaceport.

Posted in Interesting | Leave a comment

Does Safely Ejecting From a USB Port Actually Do Anything?

Is there any harm to be incurred by just pulling a flash drive out? Why do we need safe removal at all?

Historically, Operating Systems treat disks as objects that can be trusted not to change state suddenly. When reading or writing files, the OS expects the files to remain accessible and not suddenly disappear in mid-read or mid-write.

If a file is open, a program reading the file expects to be able to return to it and continue reading. Similarly, write commands may be dispatched to a writing subroutine and forgotten by the main program. If a drive disappears between the time the subroutine is called and the data is written to disk, that data is lost forever.

In ye olde days, there were formal processes to physically “mount” and “unmount” storage media, and the physical act of mounting a tape or a disk pack triggered some mechanical switch to detect the presence or absence of media. Once the mechanism was engaged, the software could start to use the media (a “soft mount.”). Some media even had mechanical interlock to prevent media from being ejected or removed until the software processes using the media released the lock.

The Macintosh floppy and optical disk provide more modern examples of an interlocked physical and soft mount. One could only eject media through a software command, but that command might fail if some program was holding a file open on the medium. Enter USB connected storage. There is no mechanical interlock in a USB connection to coordinate the hard and soft mount. The user can decide to rip the disk out from under the operating system at any time, and endure all manner of programs freaking out about the sudden loss of media. “Hey! I was using that!”

Symptoms could include: Lost data, corrupted filesystems, crashing programs, or hanging computers requiring a reboot. A safe removal executes the “soft unmount” needed to prevent any unexpected Bad Things that may happen if a program loses its access to media.

A safe removal does a few things:

It flushes all active writes to disk.

It alerts all programs (that know how to be alerted) that the disk is going away, and to take appropriate action.

It alerts the user when programs have failed to take action, and still are holding files open.

You can remove a disk at any time, but you are at the mercy of how well programs using the disk cope with the sudden disappearance of that disk.

In the modern computer, many steps have been taken to defend against the capricious and careless removal of media. For example, Windows even introduced a feature called “Optimize for Quick Removal” that makes sure data is written quickly instead of batched up and written efficiently. It is very hard to get people to change habits. If you are doing exclusively reads on a media, safe removal is probably not needed. If you are doing writes, you are probably OK to skip safe removal if you haven’t written recently and you aren’t doing something silly like indexing that disk.

As a good friend of mine once said: Life is too short to safely eject the disk.

However, Safe Removal does a number of important things and is, in fact, the only assuredly safe way to remove a disk. You probably don’t need it most of the time, but it is a good habit to have since data loss sucks.

via Does Safely Ejecting From a USB Port Actually Do Anything?.

Posted in Interesting, Tech, tips | Leave a comment

Use SoundCloud to Start Your Own Podcast for Free

A couple months ago, SoundCloud opened its podcasting service up to everyone. There are limits to what you can do with a free account, but it’s a great way to dip a toe into the podcasting waters without spending any money, and you don’t necessarily need any in-depth technical knowledge.

We’ll walk you through the process of getting your first podcast up and running.

via Use SoundCloud to Start Your Own Podcast for Free.

Posted in Interesting | Leave a comment

World’s Highest Hammock is located in Moab, Utah over a canyon | BGR

When you think about lying comfortably in a hammock, odds are, you’re not thinking about being suspended 492 feet in the air over a canyon. But for solely fueled by adrenaline, that’s exactly the type of activity that passes for a relaxing Saturday afternoon activity.

The photo above is a makeshift hammock, otherwise known as a “pentagon space net.” Located above a canyon outside of Moab, Utah, the hammock, for a 1-week period in 2014, was suspended 213 feet away from the nearest piece of solid land, essentially leaving visitors quite literally in the middle of nowhere.

Looking at the hammock begs the question — just how did anyone manage to get to it in the first place?

via World’s Highest Hammock is located in Moab, Utah over a canyon | BGR.

Posted in Interesting | Leave a comment