Archive for the ‘The Kindle Chronicles’ Category

My interview about (and IN) VR with Len Edgerly…and giveaways!

April 8, 2017

My interview about (and IN) VR with Len Edgerly…and giveaways!

It’s here…and the word “here” may soon have a new meaning. 🙂

I did an interview with popular podcaster Len Edgerly of

The Kindle Chronicles

about Virtual/Augmented Reality…and at my suggestion, we actually did the interview in VR.

Now, I’m not an expert on VR…I’m a consumer of it. This is different from when I started my

I Love My Kindle

blog back in August of 2009. In that case, I really could bring special expertise. I had been a manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore, and I was a techie from way back, so I had a special insight on electronic books (e-books).

In the case of what I call VAMM (Virtual/Augmented/Mixed/Merged Reality), I’m coming at it from the point of view of an observer of and commenter on popular culture. I do think that there is a significant Amazon/book element coming to VAMM, and coming fairly soon.

However, in one of my other blogs,

The Measured Circle

I write about movies, TV shows, games (I also managed a brick-and-mortar gamestore), tech…a very wide array.

I think I’m pretty good at understanding pop culture. One year, I called eight of the last nine eliminations on American Idol in order, before any of them happened. My Oscar Prediction contest produces results which tend to be more than 90% accurate (and I do quite well myself). I called (not publicly) the successes of Jim Carrey (based on one interview on TV where he did “facial impressions”), Darryl Hannah (after seeing Bladerunner), Big Brother (before it aired one episode in the USA), and more.

Not that I’m always right…but I’m not always wrong, either, which is saying something. 😉

I’ve been on the Kindle Chronicles several times before and it’s always been a great experience. Len is a former professional journalist, and we shared an enthusiasm for the Kindle.

I noticed Len had been broadcasting in 360, and I knew he was at least dabbling in VAMM. So, a couple of months ago, I suggested that we actually do an interview in VAMM space.

I wasn’t sure at that point how we would do it, but I suggested using

vTime

One reason for that was that I knew you could record VAMM sessions there, which would mean that our audiences could see and hear us later.

Unfortunately, when the time came, that feature (vCast) had been taken offline for improvements.

That created some technical challenges. We both happened to be using Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge phones and the Samsung Gear VR headset (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). That has the built-in ability to take screenshots and record video…but not to record audio

We ended up each recording our audio separately, and then Len put them together. I had a good microphone, and tried a few apps before setting on the free version of

NowSmart

I played around with the settings, and found something I liked.

Apparently, sometimes while I was talking, I had my mouth too far away from the microphone…with the headset on, I wasn’t aware of that, but again, Len was able to boost the sound.

I loved doing the interview!

Avatar with a blue jacket sitting on a rock in a wilderness river

That’s a screenshot of my avatar sitting on a rock in a wilderness river…we were talking about how interacting in VAMM space compared to doing videocalls.

I should mention that my avatar is randomized: hair color, skin color, body type (including gender), and so on. I could have made an avatar that looked very much like me (in fact, I did that at one point), but my regular readers know that I don’t like to identify inherent characteristics…I like people to be known (online) for what they think and feel and how they express it.

My thought is that I’ll randomize a different appearance many times. That was a lot of work: I think it took perhaps half an hour. I can automate that process outside of vTime (by generating random numbers in a spreadsheet, although it would be great if they would just let people pick an entirely random avatar.

I think one error I made was making a choice in every category. I figured that “facial hair” would include a “none” choice, but I don’t think it did. That means my avatar has a hat and glasses, but I need to include a “no glasses” option (for example).

I’ll summarize some of my thoughts on what we discussed, but if you would like to listen (it’s audio only…no special equipment needed) to the whole thing (before or after), it’s here:

TKC 453: Bufo Calvin in Virtual Reality

I’d say the biggest takeaway is that I expect Amazon to get into VAMM significantly before the holidays at the end of this year.

Breaking it down more:

  • Prime Video: I would be shocked if this doesn’t happen…and perhaps by September. I spend more time in VAMM space watching videos (Hulu, Netflix, and others) than doing anything else. Amazon shouldn’t cede all that habit building lead to other services. When Amazon went years without making a profit, Jeff Bezos once said something like “Market share will never be cheaper than it is now”, and that’s the case for VAMM video market share, too
  • An experiences store: this seems pretty likely to me. “Experiences” is the term for VAMM apps. I think it probable that Amazon lets people get experiences through Amazon before the end of the year, but that can be a bit complicated. I would always rather have Amazon process my payments than anyone else…they already have all my info
  • VAMM book reading: I want, want, want this! 🙂 I showed Len a screenshot from the Chimera Reader VR app. It’s not a great way to read books at this point, and Amazon could do that. I wouldn’t say it’s likely, but I want to be at work and be able to read my Kindle books at lunch in a different environment with a virtual book that looks like a paperbook in my hands
  • Amazon VAMM hardware: probably not likely this year, but possible. They could make a headset (I think glasses would be a few years off for Amazon) that would be platform independent
  • Alexa in VAMM: yes! I definitely want to be able to see my calendar events, the weather from Alexa, pulled up by voice in VAMM. However, Alexa as a navigator would also be a big improvement. Getting stuff done in VAMM space, currently, is difficult. You can “eye gaze” to select things, and sometimes use voice input…but I want the latter in a lot more places. I want to be able to ask Alexa to start a specific experience and to do internet searches (I do use the Samsung VR internet browser, and it does voice input…but not as smoothly as Alexa)
  • Shopping in VR: I want a virtual Amazon store to buy things…and ideally, I’d like the option for it to be social, so I can ask other people questions and maybe have Amazon employees virtually present

Now, being in VAMM space wasn’t perfect, by any means. Len disappeared for me a few times…it seemed to me like I was able to be on consistently,  but it’s possible it looked to Len like I disappeared.

The other thing was that I couldn’t have any notes I could see…and I made two big mistakes. I’m usually good and careful about crediting people properly, but in this case, I gave the wrong title for a book and for a video series.

I want to try to make up for that for those two, even though they are properly linked on Len’s site.

What I’ve decided to do is Amazon giveaways.

The first one is for

The Fourth Transformation (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel.

I mistakenly called it “The Fourth Revolution”…there is a popular book by that name, but it’s entirely different. I did identify “Scoble and Israel” as the authors.

I think this a well-written and insightful book by a couple of people with an excellent track record of predicting what will happen with technology as it relates to business. I’ve recommended it to people at my company: I think if you have a major consumer presence and aren’t starting to prepare for VAMM interactions in the next five years, you are missing an opportunity.

I made it a requirement of the giveaway that people follow one of the authors, Robert Scoble, on Amazon…and I’m giving away two (one for ILMK and one for The Measured Circle…or one for Scoble and one for Israel, however you want to see it). 😉

Here is the link for the giveaway:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b079fbab9711319a

The second one is a VR specific comedy series, and I unfortunately really butchered the name (badly enough that I don’t want to repeat it here and mislead people).

The right name is

“Virtually Mike & Nora”

and they really understand what Virtual Reality means (while being funny at the same time). They completely (and intentionally uncomfortably) bring you into the experience. It is a bit racy…maybe “edgy” is better.

Since this is a video series which is part of your Hulu subscription, I needed to find something to giveaway.

I’ve decided to give the same VR headset I gave to a relative:

Blitzwolf VR Headset (at AmazonSmile*)

This is generic, simple headset…nothing fancy, but it did work for my relative. I can’t tell you for sure that you’ll be able to watch

Hulu VR

and therefore Virtually Mike & Nora, but it should be fun even if you can’t. 🙂 It’s going to depend on your phone.

To benefit that very creative duo, I’m requiring that you watch a short YouTube video (under two minutes) from them about the show before you enter.

I’m going to give away one of those, via random draw of the entries during the period.

Here is the link for the giveaway:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/0ab8bc9943c50e4f

Again, my apologies to both pairs of artists…hopefully, this will help discovery of both of these good works.

Finally, I am doing one more unrelated giveaway. I’m giving away ten Kindle versions of my sibling’s 4.6 out of 5-star (at time of writing, with over 100 customer reviews), triple Silver Falchion winning mystery

One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I am requiring that people follow Kris Calvin on Amazon to enter…I want you to know when the second Maren Kane mystery is released, and other titles Kris may do.

Here is the link for the giveaway…feel free to share:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/e39ec1bca3592757

Thanks again to Len for taking the VAMM adventure with me for our interview (interVR?)!

Note: feel free to connect with me in vTime. I’m listed there as Bufo Calvin.

If you have any questions or thoughts about this, you can let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

I’ll be on Friday’s (April 7th) The Kindle Chronicles (and we did the interview in VR)

April 7, 2017

I’ll be on Friday’s (April 7th) The Kindle Chronicles (and we did the interview in VR)

I like Len Edgerly to “break” our conversations on the podcast

The Kindle Chronicles

before I say too much about them in the blog, but I figured I would give you a heads-up.

The focus is on Virtual/Augmented Reality…but the first segment is specifically about books in VR, and the rest of it is largely about Amazon and VR/AR, so I think many of you will find it interesting.

At my suggestion, we actually did the whole interview in Virtual Reality, which I found a fascinating way to do one! I expect I’ll do many more things virtually…I do use my name, Bufo Calvin, on vTime…feel free to friend me if you see “me” there.

I’ll say more after it becomes available, but now you know. 🙂

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

My February 5th interview on The Kindle Chronicles: the annotations

February 6, 2016

My February 5th interview on The Kindle Chronicles: the annotations

I am the featured interview on Len Edgerly’s The Kindle Chronicles podcast for Friday, February 5th, 2016, and you can hear it here:

TKC 392 KINDLE BLOGGER BUFO CALVIN

It was a great experience!

Len and I exchange occasional e-mails, and I’ve been on the show a couple of times before. We’ve never met in real life, though…our mutual admiration comes from each other’s work. 😉

I also have to say that I think Len did a terrific job editing our interview! We actually spoke for well under an hour, so it wasn’t so much cutting out things as it was polishing them. I did make one mistake, and referred to our adult child by a gender specific term, which I don’t do here in this blog (I’ll explain in a moment). Len was nice enough, and skillful enough, to edit that out for me when I mentioned it.

On this blog, I don’t identify inherent characteristics, such as my own gender. There are some other things I don’t reveal as well. There are two reasons for that.

The first is that I want this to be a place where people can participate based solely on their ideas and feelings. When people make comments (which I always appreciate), I don’t want them to feel that they should reveal gender, or marital status, or age…or anything they don’t want to do. 🙂 They are welcome to do so if they want, but if I do it, I think people would be less comfortable not doing it.

The second reason is that it’s a challenge and fun. 😉 I’ve taught people how to use the same skills we use in improv to have better interactions at work. One of those is the ability to think about one thing while you are doing something else (for example, thinking about how what you are saying will affect someone at the same time you are saying it). One thing I’ve had people do, with no warning ahead of time, is stand up and talk for thirty seconds about what brought them to this place in their lives…without using the word, “I”. Great trainers (that’s my “day job”) can all do that pretty smoothly. Most people have a very difficult time.

While I definitely would like you to listen to the show, and I think I was completely fairly represented, I thought that some annotations might be helpful.

Here’s the first thing:

You can hear one of our dogs on the show. 😉

What you actually hear is Elf squeaking a favorite toy, a plush mustache which is about the same length as the dog (who, while a rescue and undoubtedly mixed, turned out to apparently be primarily Portuguese podengo pequeno wire-hair). It’s pretty quiet, but you can hear it in the background at one point. Elf will squeak it repeatedly for minutes at a time….I actually encourage that by saying, “Squeaky! Squeaky!”

Two things about that, and one which is not just about me. 😉

I did the interview at home. As I said, it took under an hour, so I blocked some time on my work calendar, recorded it during what was basically my lunch break, then went to my nearby office.

The second thing, and Len and I were both impressed with this, was that I did my end on my now discontinued Fire Phone (I was one of the few who paid the initial about $200 for one) with the earbuds and in-line microphone that came with it.

The sound quality is quite good! I use those earbuds at work, but I haven’t recorded anything for broadcast with them before.

We did the interview via Skype, and I tried a couple of other configurations first, including a headset I got for use with Dragon (a very popular speech-to-text program…you talk, it types)…but this was the best.

You aren’t going to buy a Fire Phone at this point, but you can buy the headphones:

Amazon Premium Headphones (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

At $14.99 at time of writing, I think they are a good deal. You could use them with other SmartPhones and devices…you know, unless the next iPhone drops the headphone jack, which is a rumor. 😉

We covered a lot of topics, and they tie back into five things you can read from me. Two are previous posts in this blog:

The first one we discuss explicitly. The second one addresses the idea of “inheriting” e-books…I wrote it back in 2009, but the basic information should still be current.

There also a question and some discussion about

The Collected I Love My Kindle Blog Volume 1 (at AmazonSmile*)

which you can read as part of

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

or it’s available in the USA for $0.99.

My other blogs came up a couple of times. I mentioned a funny statistic about my Sherlock Holmes blog, and my broader pop culture blog was named. Those are:

Another item that was mentioned was one of my sibling’s first novel

One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I didn’t mention it by name, because I didn’t want this interview to feel like I was promoting items, but I did refer to it.

Not something I’ve written or that a family member or someone I know has written (you can see those at I know these authors!) but that I referenced was software that can give you a virtual background when you are on a video call. I’ve used

ManyCam

It’s free, and a lot of fun!

I do want to clarify something about that part of the conversation.

I said that I had used it at work to have an office background, and jokingly told Len not to tell my company. 😉

I’m a very honest person, as I think my readers know. I never did this to trick anybody. I was actually authorized to test out the technology for possible use at my company. Yes, I did “fake” an office background, but I would always tell them before the end of the call to get their feedback.

One question (about public libraries) was asked by a reader who was named on the show, but I didn’t get that question directly here, so I’m not naming names…I’ll just say thank you, and I’ll name you if you like. 🙂

I want to make very clear my gratitude to people who subscribe to this blog through the Kindle store! I mentioned that they really make it possible for me to do this, but I don’t think I said the words, “thank you”, so…thank you!

Finally, I mentioned a project I have that I will make public on February 29th. I think readers of this blog will find it interesting, and I’ll announce here it here when it is ready.

I’d be interested in any feedback you have for me about the show, or additional questions about topics we didn’t cover. Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things. 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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