Mar 22, 2015

Pixel Gods

Who needs VR when we have Mixed Reality?


Well, leave it to Magic Leap to go and blow up my inbox with inquiries. I mean, not directly... but you get the point. Whenever there is some new technology thing on the Internet and it’s related to VR/AR, I get a stream of emails and messages asking for my opinion about it and instead of answering the same question over and over again I just write a blog post.


So, if you haven’t already seen it, Magic Leap on their Youtube Channel released a concept video for what looks like an amazing mixed reality experience. I would like to lean more in the direction of “concept video” and not “this is an in-environment” thing (yet).


But still, this is pretty much what I would envision the future of synthetic environments to be like.





There is of course some caveats not addressed here in such a video, and that’s down to back-end logistics and MEMs sensors, etc. A lot of things that I don’t think Magic Leap has actually solved yet.


That isn’t to say that these are unsolvable problems. After all, we’re talking about a combination of SLAM algorithm, RGBD camera, and triangulation in conjunction with a loose GPS tracking. While GPS isn’t as accurate as we need it to be for this tracking system, and given that we obviously would not want to use external beacons or cameras, that leaves a triangulation in virtual space in conjunction with SLAM and the RGBD camera.


Effectively, the mixed reality environment is seen as a total VR environment to the system itself and you are the avatar within it. While the end-user of such a headset and system still sees mixed reality (real world plus digital items interacting with it) the back-end system is seeing it all as a VR Overlay, and it is running the calculations (debug view) as a virtual reality world.




In short, it really boils down to saying “If the SLAM algorithm has mapped the area, and it knows your starting position, then in conjunction with the RGBD camera polling it can figure out where you are in that scene in relation to that starting location, which was polled from GPS and then corrected with the triangulation to begin with”


When you load up an application, it goes through this process:


  • Where are you? Check GPS to get rough position.
  • SLAM Algorithm and RGBD camera starts building a map of your scene if one does not already exist.
  • Software checks the discrepancy in that scene between where it thinks you are (GPS) in relation to your relation to other objects in your scene as reported by the RGBD camera (where you are looking)
  • System corrects your position start point and continues to triangulate from that point as you move around. 


Sounds complicated, and it’s tricky but not impossible. Just takes some ninja logistics in the background to poll and correct your position via that sensor/hardware/SLAM updating. What I’m saying here is really an oversimplified explanation of the process, so keep that in mind.


As for the “drift” problem, it doesn’t really exist under this combination. Because the SLAM algorithm has mapped the scene, and because the RGBD camera is giving the distance in relation to other objects in that scene, and because of the starting point, it is just regularly polling and triangulating your position to correct it.


That being said, there is still a long way to go.


After all, in the video it is apparent that there isn’t an RGBD camera in use. If there was, then the 3D objects would have depth occlusion properly and consistently. For instance, you see that turret dropped and the enemies, those are occluded properly but then in the beginning the interface and grabbing stuff (like the GMAIL icon) aren’t depth occluded.


Let us not forget that Magic Leap as a system is really just a visual advancement with light field technology, which for all intents and purposes is a fancy brand name for Virtual Retina Display tech (first seen by Avegant) and what is available from places such as TriLite systems, though there hasn’t been much in the way of knowing how the rest of it would work (at least from them). From their patent applications, it looks like a visual recognition system and not a geospatial recognition system.


Maybe with those flying dragons by the beach it’s just getting a basic GPS location and loading a scene for that area?


The bigger question is then whether or not anyone is working out the logistics for a geospatial mixed reality system (I mean, I definitely am but that’s inconsequential to this conversation at the moment), or if everyone is going with closed localized AR type systems. If we looked at HoloLens, it seems very much like a closed localized system and not dynamic geospatial, and Magic Leap at the moment is giving mixed signals.


The patents are showing localized AR while their concept videos are showing an interest in geospatial mixed reality.


Regardless, I really do think this is the real future to keep an eye out for. Not so much virtual reality but instead a geospatial mixed reality system. When that system comes into existence, and it is done correctly, then anyone wearing such a headset (glasses) are going to be digital gods manipulating the entire world with the wave of a hand.


Pretty much just imagine if what you can do in Second Life was able to be done in Real Life.





Mar 12, 2015

Fat Bottomed Girls

You make the rockin’ world go round


This is a delicate subject to tackle, but in my typical fashion I’m going to handle it like a bull in a china shop. Because sometimes you just need to be blunt and honest to get the point through. This is the point where I supply the pitchforks and torches as a courtesy... some of you (or maybe a lot of you) are going to want them. For this I’m going to write toward the ladies, but this is just as true for the guys (so don’t think I’m giving them a free pass).






So here’s the deal.


I’ve been seeing this concept of “fat shaming” popping up everywhere lately and it’s pisses me off. There is that guy who got “fat shamed” and a bunch of people decided to throw him a party to boost his self esteem that went viral, I’ve seen Yoga teachers asking if they are accidentally fat shaming their classes, and this goes on and on...


What pisses me off isn’t the fat shaming, it’s the people who promote the self entitlement and ego boost by trying to shame the fat shamers.


I look at it like this:


It’s not the fact that you’re massively overweight that bothers me. I don’t actually care, because it’s totally your call on that one. You make the choice (or in this case inaction) and you are the one who deals with the consequences of those actions/inactions. What aggravates me is the level of self entitlement that being morbidly obese has gained, and a politically correct public walking on eggshells to not be insensitive or hurt their feelings about it.


We’re at a point where we are catering to an unhealthy lifestyle and promoting it, which is the exact opposite of what we should be doing. It is wholly irresponsible as a society to create acceptance for life threatening decisions.


We can say “But it doesn’t hurt anyone!” and we’d be lying to ourselves and that person. Health complications from obesity are a leading killer, it causes misery. Your family, your friends... they have to deal with the negative consequences of those decisions just as much as you do.


With anything, I take the situation and I put it into another context to see if it makes sense anywhere else. With being morbidly obese, we bring this down to an addiction to food and unhealthy lifestyle.


So if it were literally any other addiction or overindulgence, would we treat it the same way and glorify it?


You would want to know what the hell I was thinking if I ...


  • Glorify the alcoholic?
  • Boost the self esteem of the heroin addict?
  • Promote the benefits of cutting?
  • Cater to the sex addict?


These things require rehab, therapy, an honest look at ourselves, and a willingness to undo the damage. It’s totally alright not to cater to the alcoholic, not to glorify the addiction and unhealthy lifestyle in literally every conceivable case you can think of... except morbid obesity which is a number one killer and epidemic.


That doesn’t mean I go running down the road specifically looking to fat shame people, but the minute those people begin with the delusion and self-entitlement routine you bet your ass I’m going to pop that ego real quick.


No, your fat ass shouldn’t be cruising around the supermarket on those electric carts which are meant for actual disabled people and the elderly. You aren’t disabled. You don’t need that electric scooter... you need to be walking.





If you're obese, you're more likely to develop a number of potentially serious health problems, including:


  • High triglycerides and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Metabolic syndrome — a combination of high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Cancer, including cancer of the uterus, cervix, endometrium, ovaries, breast, colon, rectum, esophagus, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidney and prostate
  • Breathing disorders, including sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Gynecologic problems, such as infertility and irregular periods
  • Erectile dysfunction and sexual health issues
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition in which fat builds up in the liver and can cause inflammation or scarring
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Skin conditions, including poor wound healing


It’s not so glorious after all, now is it? We’re promoting a lifestyle that drastically increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, type II diabetes, and cancer.


Why are we throwing a party for these people? More importantly, why are we going out of our way to make them feel good about their decision to kill themselves? Why are we making these people into role models?


In the case of the guy who got fat shamed, and a bunch of people threw a party for him to make him feel better, the irony is that it was the most literal example of a pity party there ever was. Sure they all wanted to party with him, but that didn’t change the fact that those same women weren’t giving him their number or banging him at the end of the night. And that, right there, tells you just how sincere they actually were. I bet you throughout the night if that man asked any of those women for their number they’d show their true colors in a heartbeat.


Your beer gut isn’t sexy... and those women all went home with somebody other than you. So you might have had a great party, but it was a temporary escape from reality.


In all honesty, I really think that whole situation was a joke on him. First he was fat shamed and then a bunch of people threw a pity party for him. And yet all over the Internet you see people resharing that story as if it were a harrowing example of people doing good and being nice.


Except, I don’t think they really were being nice when you really think about it.


If you walked into a Karate Dojo, the sensei isn’t going to modify the class because you can’t do a high kick. Your sensei is going to tell you you’re too overweight to participate and suggest a healthier lifestyle before attempting to participate in Karate. The same attitude should extend everywhere else. Which is why I find it absolutely asinine for Yoga instructors to be asking if they’re fat shaming their students for not catering to them in a class that can do the poses.


Society shouldn’t lower the bar because you refuse to raise it.


In this society, for some messed up reason, we immediately jump on that and say “How dare you fat shame them and make them feel bad about themselves!”


In my mind this is absolutely ludicrous.


As Roxy Gray so eloquently puts it:


Your fat acceptance is bullshit. You’re telling women to accept a body that is killing them. You’re telling women it’s ok that you’re a massive drain on the medical system, as long as you think you feel good.



Curvy vs Fat


Curves The main problem is the blurring of the line between curvy and fat. There is a very big difference between the two, but the folks at the other end of the spectrum have jumped on “curvy” as their catch all excuse.


Curvy simply means you have an hourglass figure. Whether you are a bigger person or not is irrelevant to the situation.


As my girlfriend put it “Curvy is when your hips are bigger than your waist, and you have an hourglass shape. It’s when you’re toned up regardless of being a bigger girl”. She’s snuggly... not a Barbie by any means, but by god does she look good. I attribute this to the fact that she works out for an hour a day and spends a half hour doing yoga.


A lot of women are just morbidly obese and very out of shape, but that doesn’t stop them from jumping on the “Curvy” bandwagon to feel better about themselves and justify it. And for some reason society is increasingly jumping on the bandwagon with them.


Somewhere around 20-30% BMI is curvy.

Not 50%+ BMI.


Curvy Woman

At that point you are not healthy, it is not widely accepted as “sexy”, and a society that actively promotes it as such is delusional and doing more harm than good. Should you feel bad for being morbidly obese? I think you should... If you don’t feel bad about poor life decisions then you have no reason to change them for the better. Instead, you get this self-entitlement mentality and start expecting the entire world to cater to you for it, and that’s where I draw the line.


The woman on the right is “curvy” and I’m totally alright with that. It’s when we confuse curves with rolls that I will say something. Ultimately it’s about self respect and honesty with ourselves and others.


In my mind there is that difference as well between the fat person that insists on being treated like they’ve earned the praise and the fat person that says “Yes, I’m fat... and I’m holding myself to a higher standard and working out to get into shape.”


Those sort of women I think are amazing. They strive for better and they get it in the end. Instead of finding excuses or hiding behind public image rebranding to lower the bar, they raise the bar for themselves and demand better. I don’t care if you’re a mother of three kids and you still have the weight... the only thing stopping you from getting back into shape is yourself. I’ve seen plenty of women get right back into working out and they look fantastic for the effort.



Before & After


As I’ve said earlier though, I don’t go out of my way to “fat shame” people. It’s not like I run up to morbidly obese women on the street and yell about a beached whale. That actually is just being intentionally mean. However, that’s the stigma you earn for being morbidly obese and out of shape. It is a legitimate consequence of your actions and you shouldn’t be able to pretend it isn’t just so you can continue on in your delusion.


That being said, whenever I hear a fat woman say she’s curvy, I immediately reply that the only curve she has is round and they need to lose weight. It’s blunt, it’s honest, and it’s the truth. I’ll tell you if you’re fat if you ask me. I’m not going to sugar coat it or pay you compliments when you’ve done absolutely nothing to earn them.


I’ve seen a woman that was a half ton (yes, a freakin half ton) decide to lose hundreds of pounds and say she’s going to keep right on going until she’s a healthy weight again (and she did). I respect this woman to no end. She actually stopped bullshitting herself, reached a breaking point and said “Enough”.


But my god... the fact that it took that long and being that far gone to finally get her to face reality and do something to fix it says a lot about society on the whole.


Even so, if a half ton woman can bring herself down to a healthy weight and look good for it, your excuse is totally invalid.





But that doesn’t seem to stop the public relations department of fat people from trying to rebrand being fat as beautiful and sexy. It doesn’t stop that PR blitz of catering to it and trying to make it alright. Which to me looks like delusion and insanity.


A lot of people like to call it “an unrealistic expectation of beauty” to be as healthy as you can be, but it’s not unrealistic at all. Unrealistic is expecting somebody in a wheelchair to run a marathon. Realistic is getting on a treadmill and eating healthy when you’re fat and out of shape. If that half ton woman up there can do it, then there is absolutely no way you are unable short of being lazy about it.


Unless you are actually disabled and doing so would actually not be possible... you’re just making up excuses and expecting everyone else to buy into it.


At the end of the day, you can take offense to the situation and people being insensitive, but the bottom line is you’re fat. You don’t feel bad enough to have decided to do something about it yet, and that’s partially because this world keeps running campaigns to make you feel better about yourself, which in turn might as well be like tobacco companies still running advertisements to make me feel good about smoking.






I’m still a cigarette smoker.


It’s the one habit I’ve tried very hard to quit, and have had marginal success. It is a daily routine of slowing down and working toward that goal of being completely smoke free. I’ve tried the patches, gums, etc and all they have done is made my heart race and make me dizzy. Apparently “light smoker” to the Nicoderm company is somebody that smokes about two packs a day or more.


I’m down (on my own accord) to about a half a pack or a pack (depending on circumstances) from what used to be nearly four packs a day. I continue to cut down cold turkey because it’s the only way I think I can do it. I am making constant progress and working toward that goal.


In the meantime, being a smoker does not entitle me to special treatment. There is no sympathy for smokers when we feel bad after seeing a diseased lung or some other “smoker shaming” commercial on television. You’ve seen them (I’m sure)... the first hand account of the person with the tracheotomy, or the “Your lungs look like this” sort of deal.





You’re damned right I feel bad about myself after seeing shit like that.


Nobody asks “Are we shaming smokers and making them feel bad?”

Nobody asks “Should we cater to smokers more and help their self esteem?”


It’s a choice, it is not healthy, and endangers my life. I should not feel good about that choice. I should be made to feel bad about that choice to a point where I decide I want to quit for my own health and benefit. And that’s exactly the effect those commercials have had and the social stigma that came with it.


Bad enough to where I said – Holy crap, I really do need to quit. I know I can’t do this immediately, but I can start working toward that actively... because let’s face it... I want to live a happy and healthy life.


It’s the same about drug addictions otherwise.


We don’t throw a party for the alcoholic or heroin addict, we tell them they look like shit, are killing themselves, and need help. We throw them an intervention and get them into rehab.


I think fat people need the same treatment.


Except their version of rehab is just a gym membership and a personal support trainer to make sure they keep getting on the treadmill. Learning to cook and eat healthy to lose the weight.


What this world needs are fat shaming advertisements on television of the same exact caliber as those anti-smoking advertisements. If you are morbidly obese, you need to start thinking it’s a bad thing instead of glorifying it...


Well, at least in Australia they start to take it serious... after all, according to them half the people are obese. But you’re still not getting to the levels of what smokers have to endure... I mean, where are all the sudden heart attack commercials and the crying children screaming “Mommy, no! Don’t die, Mommy!” as you’re hauled away in the ambulance?


The world needs more of those commercials and less of the “Love the skin you’re in” bullshit.








Pitchforks and torches are available at the beginning of the post.