Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Experience

First off I should say that my interest in VR was very limited only due to the 90s’ experience. I’m talking about the VR setups that were in malls and sometimes even clubs back in the day.
That was until I saw an article with John Carmack he was wearing goggles that were the prototype of the now named Oculus Rift. This article is quite old now probably 2012-2013. He had left ID software to continue the development of the Oculus Rift.

John Carmack has a huge resume and if you play video games chances are you have played a game he created or a game engine he created.
Games we all know Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake III, Doom 3, Rage, Doom 4 aka: Doom 2016 not to mention he created the engines that run these awesome titles.
And did I mention he’s a friggin rocket scientist! He founded the Space program for space tourism.
The company is named  Armadillo Aerospace.

With all that said this is what piqued my interest in VR I figured this guy has to be making some excellent shit!
The Oculus started off as a $2 million dollar kick starter campaign 2 years later Facebook founder purchased the Oculus for $2 billion.
The initial price point for consumers was aimed at $199 unfortunately after time and more tech the price rocketed to $600.
Which I think hurt this technology at the start. Today you can get the Oculus with the Touch controllers for $399 which is an excellent price for the hardware and experience you will get.
Not sure if this is just a summer deal or if it is a permanent price drop to get more of these awesome kits to the masses.
There is also the HTC Vive which is the VR head set created by HTC and Steam
This headset was geared for Steam and has a 120 degree view point compared to the Oculus Rifts 90 degree.
That is the only difference between the Vive and the Oculus Rift the hardware is identical in every other aspect.
The Oculus is lighter and supports Oculus Dream Deck Store and Steam VR as well.
These apps are where you can purchase the VR games available to either or both VR headsets. Vive does not support the Rift Dream Deck.
I have found that the Rift is more compatible with games than the Vive is.
They both have exclusives but again it seems that the Rift works fine on HTC games where as the Vive doesn’t play well with Rift games.
And the HTC Vive is now selling for $599 instead of the $799 price tag.
Steam VR is a very small update to the Steam app that is already installed on your PC.

If you plan on buying a VR headset for your PC make sure you have the hardware to handle it.
My PC is pretty heafty and it failed the USB 3.0 hardware verification.
Which I then had to purchase a specific PCI-E to USB 3.0 card.
I have 3.0 but the Rift is not compatible with AsMedia USB hardware & Drivers.
The headset requires 1 USB 3.0 for sound & a HDMI out for the video this connects to your video card in your computer.
I did find that the sound USB works okay with the AsMedia USB 3.0. But the tracking sensors will need  supported USB 3.0 inputs.
The PCI-E card I purchased costs anywhere from $22-$30.
it’s the Inateck Superspeed 4 Ports PCIE to USB 3.0 this card is listed by Oculus to be 100% supported.
The headset uses a tracking sensor and the touch controllers use a tracking sensor so you will need 2 supported USB 3.0 inputs the gear will work on USB 2.0 but your going to have slow tracking which is something you do not want.

Once I finally got it running took me all week a few hours each day after work to get it 100% connected and games or apps installed.
If you have a free time it should be a pretty quick process connecting it up and installing drivers and software.

I have played a few games some that are not impressive and some that are mind blowing.
I found that the simplest app can be so much fun and just mind bending.
Oculus First Contact is just down right awesome. Your behind a desk with computers and a Robot that hovers around he is your VR friend and hands you discs to put in your Virtual PC to make things with it.
It’s interactive and he will have so much stuff bouncing around the room it is awesome!
Made a gun some rockets and other things as well.
Then there is VR desktop which is your PC desktop in Virtual Reality you can be sitting in the woods or in Space with planets and stars all around you.

The game I really enjoy is EVE Gunjack your in a gunner in a  turret and have to blast enemy spaceships down in deep space.
Where you look the gun points then you fire with your VR touch controllers.
When entering the Turret it’s mind blowing because your so small compared to the spaceship your in and the Turret housing really makes you feel like your in it.

Then there is a game from Crytek called Robinson: The journey this is game where your off planet and you can interact and move around freely.
Crytek also has a game called The Climb this I don’t own yet but hear it is absolutely amazing as long as you are using the touch controllers.

Can also play Alien Isolation in VR. This game was already full of suspense play it in VR and it’s down right chilling and scary.
originally this game only worked with the DK kits DK stands for Development Kit.
There is a mod that now allows it to work with the consumer Oculus.
can find the mod here.

Then there is Google Earth VR this requires you to use the Touch controllers.
But is again awesome and it’s free.
This is a must check out for anyone wanting to go around the world and see areas like your actually there.

There are entertainment apps as well just kick back and watch  awesomely made video’s from Disney and Discovery made specifically for Virtual Reality.

Did I mention Roller coaster rides? There are apps for those as well and some of them are really excellent.
You feel like your actually on a coaster.

I’ve barely scratched the surface here all I can and will say is it really is an amazing experience.
It messes with your mind in a good way because your seeing an environment like at the top of a sky scraper at it’s edge looking down and it’s dizzying or a Huge Dinosaur runs up to you and the spit from it’s roar is in your face and then Runs over you.
You know your in your house but what your seeing is totally different.
It has shown me how perception really is reality.

There are also multiplayer games like Star Trek Bridge Crew you and others control the Enterprise from the deck. And depend on each other to fly the ship and get out of bad situations.

The Oculus Rift is selling for $399 you get the Rift goggles and the touch controllers which include 2- tracking sensors.
It’s a great price point to get people into this great technology.
There are many free apps and games to give a try. Games start at 99 cents and go up to $50. The majority of high end games are $29.99.

The only down side I have found is the wires but it’s such a small issue that it doesn’t hinder gameplay or comfortability at all.
Behind my monitor on my desk is a wire mess anyhow what’s another 2 or 3 wires going to hurt?
I had to purchase some hardware to use the Oculus which cost me another $42
this was for the PCI-E to USB 3.0 and the Display Port to HDMI cord I needed to buy since my Video card only had 1 HDMI in which the Oculus used and the rest were Display ports which my monitor does not have.

Not to mention games I have spent around $75 total so far.
And I also purchased the Oculus Wireless remote I got that on Ebay for $24 which is normally $30.
In the end it cost around $600 for everything which isn’t all that bad considering all I got.
Only a week or 2 back $600 would of only gotten you the Headset and the Tracking sensor with Touch controllers.

I say if you have the extra cash and already have a PC that can handle it go for it you won’t regret it.
If you don’t have a PC that is capable I’d look into the PlayStation 4 VR.
The cell phone goggles are not the same thing and you won’t have same experience we get using the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive.


DirectX,OpenGL,Mantle, Vulkan

Recently the API Vulkan was fully used in the new DOOM game on PC.
Many think Vulkan is just an upgraded Mantle API from AMD it’s partially true.
AMD donated their Mantle API to the Khronos group which stated that this new API would be the new OpenGL which that name was discontinued and is now called Vulkan. Much cooler name anyhow especially for Trek fans.

Vulkan is intended to provide a variety of advantages over other APIs as well as its spiritual predecessor, OpenGL. Vulkan offers lower overhead, more direct control over the GPU, and lower CPU usage.Intended advantages include:Vulkan API is well suited for high-end graphics cards as well as for graphics solution present on mobile devices (OpenGL had a specific sub-set for mobile devices called OpenGL ES).

  • In contrast to DirectX 12, Vulkan is available on multiple modern operating systems; like OpenGL, the Vulkan API is not locked to a single OS or device form factor. As of release, Vulkan runs on Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, Tizen, Linux, and Android.
  • Reduced driver overhead, reducing CPU workloads.
  • Reduced load on CPUs through the use of batching, leaving the CPU free to do additional computation or rendering than otherwise.
  • Better scaling on multi-core CPUs. Direct3D 11 and OpenGL 4 were initially designed for use with single-core CPUs and only received augmentation to be executed on multi-cores. Even when application developers use the augmentations, the API regularly do not scale well on multi-cores.
  • OpenGL uses the high-level language GLSL for writing shaders which forces each OpenGL driver to implement its own compiler for GLSL that executes at application runtime to translate the program’s shaders into the GPU’s machine code. Vulkan drivers are supposed to ingest instead shaders already translated into an intermediate binary format called SPIR-V (Standard Portable Intermediate Representation), analogous to the binary format that HLSL shaders are compiled into in Direct3D. By allowing shader pre-compilation, application initialization speed is improved and a larger variety of shaders can be used per scene. A Vulkan driver only needs to do GPU specific optimization and code generation, resulting in easier driver maintenance, and smaller driver packages in theory (as GPU vendors still have to include OpenGL/CL).
  • Unified management of compute kernels and graphical shaders, eliminating the need to use a separate compute API in conjunction with a graphics API.The part listed above was taken directly from Wikipedia.
    Vulkan has the same things DirectX 12 is offering but is not locked into a specific OS and from what I have seen performs fantastic.
    And the API works with all flavors of graphics cards Nvidia ,AMD, Intel.
    From what I have seen at least with DOOM is Vulkan works great with AMD cards expect excellent frame rates.

    My experience with Vulkan on DOOM has been amazing I can crank it up with Nightmare settings well above 1080p with 8xAA and it never even gets a hiccup.
    Hoping the new Battlefield 1 will be implementing the Vulkan api I look forward to many, many games supporting it.
    Mantle was good but from what I see with Vulkan it’s many jumps ahead of what Mantle was doing.

    Nvidia was always the better card for OpenGL. AMD finally has a API that favors them.
    AMD’s Crimson drivers  are excellent and in the next year things will get even better.
    The new drivers have already shown great improvements in AMD cards they are performing above similar Nvidia cards that at one point were faster than AMD cards.

    Hopefully AMD will keep pace and do something huge in the CPU department for desktops very soon. Like a 5.0ghz 16 core or more CPU;-) We can hope. Or I can anyhow.

Kodi Jarvis 16.0 Final released 02/20

Update is in grab it at Kodi site:-)
Windows version is downloadable Kodibuntu install 14.0 if clean install and run commands in the terminal to get latest version.
If already using Kodibuntu just go ahead and run commands in the terminal.

Simple commands:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

If upgrade turns into older version run command
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Lastest version of Kodi for Kodibuntu is only upgradable through command does not get new version via download section like Windows version.

As quick as latest version has released i’ll take a guess they will stay with their goal of doing smaller updates and fixes to keep new versions rolling out faster.

Here are the improvements.

Update 03/09/16:
Kodi 16.1 RC 1 is available.
Release Candidates are fairly stable so give it a try.

Kodi underfire by likes of uninformed Amazon.

Kodi does NOT endorse or include applications / addons that enable piracy driven 3rd party apps that facilitate the links to watch-stream unreleased/Pirated movies on their software.

Kodi/XBMC has and always will be software that is a media player only A awesome open share your movie nights among not just multiple rooms on HTPC cases but for also watching your favorite recorded shows on any devices such as Android tabs , Cell phones, Ipad ,Ibook, Fire TV, Smart TV’s and many others the list goes on visit google read educate yourself. Silicondust, read Kodi!. People this opens up a new era of consumer based control unseen before now.  To benefit the use of 3rd party hardware that is legitimate like Silicondust HDHomerun and other seasoned manufacturers that produce these tuners to watch and record Tv within Kodi that is following the letter of the law. These are okay to include in your Kodi bundle.

With that said since Kodi aka: XBMC is open software they will not and do not tell users of their software to not use 3rd party apps that can be found in awesome repositories all over nets. They are all for openness of using their software as you see fit.

Beware quick buck scam artists taking from people who would be getting the software for free in the first place.But DO NOT produce a Kodi/XBMC box with the full monty  meaning loaded with 3rd party apps that base consumers think is legal and okay to purchase.

Kodi is the trademark holder for the Kodi name and franchise. Amazon has already banned Kodi sales from their web/site sales with an almost passive aggressive agenda to cover their own collective asses.
Why had Amazon did this? Well it was for what I believe is a lack of knowledge on the consumer and Amazon how Kodi 3rd party addons work. Or was just a stunt to kiss the content holders ass to garner more funds for their upstart to crumble bright and upcoming starts with new bold ideas.

SO what are 3rd party apps?
In simple terms-A thirdparty application is any app that is not an official Kodi Application But uses Kodi’s Media Center software to integrate into Kodi itself. 3rd party apps are NOT developed by Kodi programmers. 3rd party apps allow the consumers of Kodi to add whatever they want to Kodi to either open up new options and availability that Kodi alone does NOT produce.

Apps that allow the users of Kodi to watch Streaming movies from the theater or sometimes not yet released are Exodus, Genesis, 1-Channel, Pheonix.  And quite a few others. This is only on the movie side of viewing. And these apps listed are not created by the Kodi team.

Small Media center boxes based on Android OS are almost the size of a cigarette pack but square. People on Ebay, Amazon other online retailers are selling these boxes fully loaded with 3rd party software that enables pirate streaming of Movies not out of theaters or not yet even released to theaters & same with Television shows.
The sales of these fully enabled boxes are not just getting Kodi taken off online retail sites but are destroying Kodi’s name.

Kodi team is all for installing your loved 3rd party apps since Kodi is open source software.
Developers at Kodi aren’t saying what to install or not install on your Kodi setup. But they are asking if You do sell hardware with Kodi installed DO NOT have any 3rd party applications installed. This is for the consumer/end user to add on.

Download your own repositories and install the 3rd party apps you want after you purchase a Kodi box in it’s vanilla form. Kodi software it self is free and can be downloaded. https://kodi.tv/

I have a few of the small Boxes that came with pre-installed 3rd party apps myself.
And the little boxes are great but they are great with just Kodi installed on it with no 3rd party apps

Want some Repositories? The link is for multiple repos that need to be unzipped with WinRAR. WinRAR is free and downloaded for Windows= http://rarlabs.com/download.htm

to Install repositories in Kodi go to:
then select Addons then click on install from zip file.
navigate to where you unzipped the repository folder which will contain about 30 repositories in zipped files.
The individual repos need to be zipped for install in Kodi.
Here is the 30 repos in one zipped file which does need unzipped.
This file does not contain every repo just a good start.

The file is clean and been scanned but still scan with your Antivirus anyhow.

Can also install repositories by going to System, File Manager , Click add source.
Add File source box will pop up click in the address type bar that will say NONE.
Type in exactly as I list=   http://srp.nu
Now Click Done
At bottom of window will be a blank bar that says Enter a name for this media Source
Type SuperRepo then click OK.

Go back to home screen and in settings click Add-Ons then click on install Zip-File scroll down until you see SuperRepo click on it and install the Supernova repo.

This step can be taken over and over again adding new repositories.
Here are more links for you to add manually yourself:-)


SuperRepo is a must have if you want some of the best 3rd party addons.
The more repo’s you have the more application selection you will have.

While Kodi team doesn’t care what 3rd party apps you use copyright holders do. So beware and know your local,state,gov , laws. Even streaming unreleased movies is considered pirating.
There are many cool 3rd party apps that are not for pirating movies or TV. Steam is awesome! PVR, Advanced Launcher and many, many more.

Most important if your going to sell Kodi boxes do so without any Repo’s or 3rd party apps installed.
Kodi alone is already kick ass!

Tip: If you do decide to install many repo’s and add-ons. Kodi does not support this. Don’t go hitting the official forums looking for a solution to an issue. Your on your own!




Finding the right HTPC case

Have went through 3 different HTPC cases. Every change made me happy but not for very long.
What Bothers me most is the lack of any on case display. Why? Bling factor is one of them but not the main reason for wanting one.
Wanting a LCD or OSD is for music and time.
If i’m listening to music from my HTPC which I often do i’d rather not have the TV on just to go through what I want to play or to see what is playing.
It can cause burn-in on the TV and is a waste of electricity.
With a small LCD display on front of case can scroll through music and see what’s playing with out the need of TV being on. Plus I like looking below the TV while waiting for Supernatural to come on and see what time it is or how much longer I must wait.

There are the beautiful cases that incorporate a excellent 7″ touchscreen LCD on front of the case.
The cost is now $360 to $800 which has dropped significantly over the last 2 years.
Is it awesome? HELL YES! Is it really needed? Nope.
Bling factor  +50!! Usefulness not so much let’s think about this. Will I be watching any movies on it? Not a chance I have a 60″ HDTV it is connected to.
So this leaves the only useful option to see what music is on when TV is off and what time it is.
This can all be done on a LCD that is 2 x 20 in size and will accomplish what is useful.

If I had $360 to blow sure i’d get one of these awesome displays of techgeekiness. Flex my HTPC muscle.

Now to finding a case that has the feature of a small LCD display is another quest.
They are out there but not in the huge numbers they should be.
I’ve located the model I want and it has been discontinued and costs $275 used:-(
Can always go ahead and pull the DVD drive from my HTPC and add the nMEDIAPC Silver Aluminum Panel PRO-LCD-S 5.25 drive bay slot. This would accomplish what I am looking for.
But I just don’t want to give up my DVD/Bluray slot for a LCD display panel. I want both!
Have I ever used the DVD drive? No, but why should I give that option up.

Then there is the nMEDIAPC Black HTPC 2800B ATX Media Center / HTPC Case 
Which costs $89.99 and the LCD panel isn’t programmable which means i’d still have to purchase the nMEDIAPC Silver Aluminum Panel PRO-LCD-S:-(

The search for HTPC case bliss continues on. Will I find that sexy sleek case I’ve always wanted but could never have?
Will the case continue to allude me? Or will I just be crushed under the mad chase of case bliss?