Pondering VR Goggles

I’m soooo tempted to preorder a Valve / HTC Vive … only $800!  what a bargain!  Frankly, it looks to me like better hardware than Oculus, and it might even be a better value, given it comes with two hand controllers.

I’d not quite be an early adopter here, but I’d love to see SL, HiFi, and Sansar in VR…  Would it be worth it? I’m not sure.

My other big worry is that it won’t work very well with (my) glasses.  I’ve had issues with Cardboard, though it is okay.

… ponder ponder ponder …

Return of The Squid: how to build a terabyte texture cache using Squid 3 (updated)

squid_logoThis is a followup to my earlier post http://vex.fabulo.us/2011/01/tentacular-magic-for-sl-squidifying-your-viewer/ where I discussed how to set up a local squid web cache as an adjunct to your SL viewer’s texture cache.  There were several important caveats there: First, that you could use Squid 2.7 only, since the feature we need for running an efficient cache, StoreURLRewrite wasn’t implemented in later versions and second, there were some bugs in recent viewers that resulted in some textures being cached in a broken state.

Well. Things always change, so this post is aimed squarely at the earlier problems and an attempt to find a better balance now that viewers support ten times the internal texture cache size that was previously available.  So, intrepid reader, gird your loins and lets get kraken!

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“50% OFF Monthly Premium Membership!” and other hyperbole.

If anyone from the Labs happens to read this: I’m not much for Linden bashing, but these ridiculous discount offers suggest either your marketing department is full of idiots or they think readers are idiots. Okay okay, maybe there are a sufficient number of idiots to make it worth the breathless hyperbole, but still, it comes across as insultingly childish. At worst it verges on false advertising.

“50% OFF Monthly Premium Membership” is simply false – the offered discount isn’t on anything monthly at all, it is a half price on the first month of a presumably longer membership. Furthermore, is better access to tech support reeeeeally the most compelling reason to upgrade membership? It makes it sound like “our product is so bad that it is worth paying to get all-you-can-eat support” which certainly doesn’t match my experience.

Dungeon Hacks

“I don’t usually personally promote books… but when I do, I’m the star!”

Well, okay, not really the star, but I did get interviewed for Dungeon Hacks, by David L Craddock.  I’ve just received a pre-press copy and will be reading it over the next few weeks, but it is neat to see some of the events I recall from years past in print!  Enjoy!

P.S. Other neat background information is Wagner James Au’s (yes, that Wagner James Au!) article for Salon: The best game ever (2000), and I cannot pass up the opportunity to link to thegreatestgameyouwilleverplay.com.

Dungeon Hacks

Our first Megawatt-hour

So, in September 2014, we signed a contract to install a photovoltaic solar panel array on our roof.  It took quite a while to get things complete, but we “threw the switch” the first week of March 2015 and by 1 May 2015, we’d generated 1 Megawatt-hour of electricity!  Woo hoo!  The trip has been full of frustrations and surprises, so I thought I’d document it a bit here. I can just hear your confusion: “Why on Vex::Tech?! Isn’t this supposed to be about virtual worlds and stuff?!”  Well, true… so I’ll make the totally weak excuse that it is helping to power my own opensim and HiFi servers as well as the various gaming desktop and laptop machines in the house.

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Converting from Vonage to Google Voice (VoIP)

So, I was looking at my credit card bill a few months ago and it hit me… My monthly telephone bill via Vonage has grown to $37.44!  I wasn’t really certain how that aligned with, say, phone from Verizon FiOS (which we have for internet) or other options, but I thought I’d look around for alternatives.

I finally settled on buying an Obihai Obi200 VoIP adapter for $47.99, connecting to Google Voice (free for domestic phone calls, $0.01/min for international calls I could think of any reason to make), and e911 service from Anveo ($12.99/year for up to five 911 calls).  The other part, of course, was to port my current “home” number from Vonage to Google which turned out to be a little more exciting.

Google only supports porting from mobile numbers, for some reason, and Vonage doesn’t count as mobile.  So, it required a two-step process:  first, port from Vonage to T-Mobile ($14.99 for a sim activation kit + $10 for some airtime to deal with setup – I already had an unlocked phone, but the battery was dead, so I needed another $9.98 for a new battery).  That step took about 48 hours, not counting the excitement of getting a new battery for an old phone. THEN I could immediately port from T-Mobile to Google (another $20!) and wait another 24 hours.

…. and it worked!  Same phone number, all new services, new hardware, and I have far more control over the components so I can switch providers as needed. Woo hoo!

Total cost: $102.96 one time (more than half was fees to port my old number), and $12.99/year recurring costs. Compared to $449.28/year with Vonage, and I’ll break even in three months.