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My Writing Desk

My Writing Desk

January 18, 2014 | By | 4 Comments

I got a question a couple of days ago asking what my writing desk looked like. That’s a pretty good question, because I have two desks in my office. One is for the day-to-day finances, emailing, music, and all the rest.

The other one is my writing desk. I planned it with the idea of getting away from distractions. It’s on the opposite wall from my other desk, so I turn the speakers off on that one. That way I won’t be distracted by email beeps, and all the rest. And yes, I turn off the music too. I find I need as much silence as possible. Probably indicates I’m easily distracted!

So I took a picture of my writing desk, the one with no distractions. As I looked at the picture I wondered what I’d been thinking! No distractions? I had to be kidding myself.

However, if you’re one of my readers (and I hope that you are!), I’m presenting the picture for you here. Feel free to get a little view into my head, and the things that interest me. The stuff I’m interested in.

Click to see the image full-size.
My Writing Desk - Labeled for Your Convenience

I’ve got a 1949 Packard Deluxe Eight sedan. I bought it in 2006, rusted, gutted and not running. I worked on it pretty hard for a few summers, and now it’s a fun car to drive.

I use Scrivener for my writing. It’s a wonderful software product, and you can take that from a guy that writes software for a living (me).

I love Bluetooth stuff, so I use a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard. Also a headset, but that’s not in the picture.

The Mossberg 300 is a great shotgun for home defense. There’s a box of 12-gauge shells for it.

The fake security camera is looking for opportunities. It doesn’t take pictures, but it does follow you around with a blinking red light, and runs on two AA batteries.

I built an airplane from a kit, which I flew happily for six years. Loved flying that thing. I finally sold it to a brain surgeon (yes, I really did) because fuel got so expensive. Maybe someday I’ll build another one.

My day job never goes away, so I have a dedicated laptop for that under the Toshiba I use for writing.

My kids (their ages range from sixteen to forty-four) and my wife are what keep me going. I’ve got stuff all over from them.

And lastly, you can see real work taking place. That is, when I’m not distracted.

 

Protecting Your Kids from Internet Predators… |…

Protecting Your Kids from Internet Predators… |…

January 9, 2014 | By | Add a Comment

Protecting Your Kids from Internet Predators… | Today’s Christian Woman buff.ly/1jLNuAs

Stepping Into The Virtual Reality of the Matrix

Stepping Into The Virtual Reality of the Matrix

January 4, 2014 | By | Add a Comment

In The Matrix, Morpheus offered Neo two choices: The red pill, or the blue pill. The blue pill would allow Neo to remain in his virtual reality… the Matrix. The red pill would take him into reality. The real world.

The rush is on to make the blue pill real. A way to escape the real world and live in a life-like fantasy… a Virtual Reality.

Websites like Second Life are proliferating. The hook is, “Experience endless surprises and unexpected delights in a world imagined and created by people like you.” In Second Life, you can create your own avatar (an animated figure that is “you”), choose (or even design) a world to live in, and begin your encounters with other virtual people.

It’s no secret that many who visit Second Life, and the websites like it, do so in order to experience secret romances and sexual encounters, not necessarily with humans. In the free version, you can choose to start off as a person, a vampire, an animal, or more.

“But,” you say, “People wouldn’t really experience those things. Not really.”

Right. And not right. The key phrase is not really. This article is about some of the technologies going on now that will make the not really more real than ever.

We have five senses.

  1. Sight
  2. Hearing
  3. Taste
  4. Smell
  5. Touch
Let’s talk about these senses in terms of what is now in the works for experiencing them in Artificial, or Virtual Reality. I’ll be using the generic “we” below.
 
Sight and Hearing:

If you can see your computer display and hear your speakers, then you’re already half-way there. But people are going to want more than that. We’ll want 3-D, and we’ll want to be able to look up, down, all around. Hear as if surrounded by sound. How do we make that better? The answer is VirtualReality Headsets.

  • This video promotes the new one from Sony. You can buy it today for $999. Sony’s VR Headset
  • The headset most talked-about is the Oculus Rift.

With these VR (virtual reality) headsets, you’re going to get the full sense of 360 degree vision, surround sound. . . the works. And the technology is going to keep getting better and better.

  • Here’s an example of what I mean by the technology getting better – Innovega is now producing contact lenses with built-in digital displays. You wear a pair of special glasses with them to reflect the images back to your eyes. These can be worn all day long, just like normal lenses.

    Notice the girl at the end of the video. She is virtual, superimposed into the real world view. Don’t worry that she looks a little artificial now. Given time, this technology will get so good you won’t be able to tell the difference. Your virtual friend (think Friend Me) will be able to accompany you wherever you go.

In Friend Me, Rachel re-created a friend that had died from ovarian cancer. Her friend was back again! Using the technology in the video above, you’ll have the potential to not only re-create that lost loved one (husband, father, wife, child. . .), and have them go with you throughout your day. If you think it looks strange to see people talking on their Bluetooth earpieces to people you can’t see, wait till this one is a reality!

Taste:Virtual Reality - Taste

Are You Ready for Virtual Taste? is what sparked the idea for this article. A researcher in Singapore has put together a very simple device that is held against the tongue. He has developed a way (Taste Over IP) to send those tastes over the Internet.

It will be trivial to incorporate taste into VR headsets. Just a wired (or even wireless!) device like a football mouth guard with a taste receptor. I’ll estimate such a device could go into production in ninety days.

Smell:

Ever heard of Smell-O-Vision? Virtual Reality - SmellOk, I can hear you laughing. The movie illustrated here sent thirty different odors into movie theater seats, triggered by markers on the soundtrack. Again, this is trivial to implement, once you’re wearing a VR headset. Call it done. For a little interesting history on Smell-O-Vision and other variants like Aroma-Rama, click here or on the picture.

Touch:

This is where it’s all headed. Lots of research is being done to make this happen. A new technology called Hapic Technology is a major step in bringing Virtual Reality You Can Reach Out and Touch. Big companies like Kyocera, Redux and Valve are getting behind it. Oculus, mentioned earlier, is promoting a treadmill (see it here) that allows the user to run and walk in his virtual world. That’s only a step half-way to real touch, though. Touch is going to involve all the tactile senses of the human body. That’s right. All of them. And you can easily guess where that’s going to wind up.

In The Matrix, Neo was totally wired up to a computer. His sensory perceptions  (yes, I know it was just a movie) worked on all five levels. Do you imagine there mighVirtual Realityt be people today that would prefer that to a real life? I’ll guarantee you there are many who would, and would pay for the privilege.

A man with a virtual girlfriend is eventually going to want to touch her. Ditto for the woman weary of Harlequin romance novels, who wants a “real” person, without the trappings that come with a human relationship. When I wrote Friend Me, I had exactly this sort of idea in mind. Current science — to my knowledge — hasn’t matured the technology for this part of VR yet. But it’s coming.

Some Conclusions:

This is weird stuff.  Friend Me used simple technology that people see every day. Going beyond that would have put it into the Science-Fiction realm, and I didn’t want to be there. One editor from Random House told me she wanted Friend Me “right now,” but insisted on making it a Sci-Fi publication. Why? She said, “Because it hasn’t happened yet.” I beg to differ.

It’s All Bad, Right?

It’s easy to only look on the negatives when it comes to virtual reality. And no wonder, there are plenty of them. Our society is rife with people trying to escape reality. I know people, and so do you, whose entire social life is on Facebook. That is a virtual reality. The entire genre of fantasy, and I’ll include most romance, novels is there to provide an escape from this present world, and transport you into an imagined (that’s what virtual is) world of your choosing. Again, not necessarily bad, but it’s an area where the Enemy has a field day.

My prognostication — Pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States. They’re going to have the finances to push this technology to the limits of evil. You might as well get ready for it, because if the Lord tarries His coming, you’re going to see it happen.

Is There Any Good In It?

I’ll suggest one use that may not have occurred to you. Suppose you were physically disabled to the point that you could not leave your bed. How would you like to be hooked up (via your Virtual Reality System) to a robot that works like the one below — see everything the robot sees, go everywhere he goes, do everything he does. This technology exists now. It’s only waiting for someone to bring it all together. The Honda-manufactured robot in the video is actually working independently, which is a little creepy in itself!

I think there are other good uses too. Think about the possibilities for new ways to present fiction, for training (especially in risky, dangerous endeavors), and immersive education. Yes, there are some excellent applications for the technology.

We don’t know yet where all of this will go. As with all things, the Christian must do as the Lord Jesus said: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16). Just because something is cool doesn’t mean it’s good. Conversely, it is silly to think that if something is good, it can’t be cool. Believers are expected — commanded — to exercise discernment in the things we involve ourselves in.

Please comment on this article. I have more to say in the future on the subject, but in the meantime, I want to hear from you.