Deep in the virtual world A newbies first brush with VR

by Mae Anderson, The Associated Press Posted Apr 14, 2016 1:06 pm MDT Last Updated Apr 14, 2016 at 2:00 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Deep in the virtual world: A newbie’s first brush with VR FILE – In this Monday, Feb 22, 2016, file photo, a Samsung Gear VR oculus is demonstrated during a preview of Samsung’s flagship store, Samsung 837, in New York’s Meatpacking District. VR is clearly a medium in its infancy and creators are still devising new storytelling techniques that can exploit the technology’s power. But it’s impossible to deny the technology’s underlying potential. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File) NEW YORK, N.Y. – My descent from the boat, gliding through schools of fish and clouds of phosphorescent jellyfish, seemed to be going pretty smoothly. At least until the shark emerged from the deeper gloom and tried to tear its way into my protective cage.Of course, it wasn’t really a shark. And I wasn’t really in a cage — or underwater or even anywhere near the ocean. But it sure felt like I was.At its best, this is exactly what you can expect from the much-hyped technology of virtual reality. All you have to do is put on a headset that blocks out the surrounding world and replaces it with one that’s fake — but often utterly realistic. Suddenly it’s like you’ve stepped out of your life and into someone else’s.With the debut of new VR headsets from Facebook’s Oculus unit, Samsung and Sony over the past few months, virtual reality hype has been off the charts. To its proponents, it’s the Next Great Thing, a whole new way of “immersing” (a word you’ll be hearing a lot) yourself in games, movies, even live music or sports.Until a few weeks ago, though, the prospect left me cold. The first wave of VR entertainment consists largely of video games, which have never much interested me. Reports that VR can make you nauseous also put me off. Eventually, though, I had to try it, and my first brush with the technology was intriguing enough to keep me exploring.Just not enough to plunk down more than a thousand dollars for a full-fledged VR system anytime soon. Current VR offerings have a lot of room for improvement; many of them get old quickly once the initial “wow” factor wears off. It’s also hard not to feel self-conscious wearing goofy-looking headgear, especially when surrounded by strangers you can’t see.The experience, though, had its moments. Zombies and sharks pushed me uncomfortably close to real terror; a few contemplative moments lost in a blind man’s virtual diary, by contrast, proved unexpectedly affecting. And there was another big plus: no queasiness. (For me, at least. Your experience may differ.)___ROLLIN’ ROLLIN’ ROLLIN’My first plunge into VR involved a virtual roller coaster. Which is funny only because the real things scare me to death. If I ride them at all, I get on somewhere near the back and keep my eyes shut tight.This Samsung demo, featuring the company’s Gear VR system, got extra points for realism. Its VR video, shot at a Six Flags park, was synced to mechanical chairs that jerked around in time with the coaster’s virtual movements. And of course, the video put me right in the first car.For all that, the virtual ride proved sort of tame, at least for a coasterphobe like me. For once, I could keep my eyes open and enjoy gawking at fellow passengers or the trees below me. It may not have matched the adrenaline rush of the real thing, but that was just fine.___GOING DEEP INTO ZOMBIELANDA demo of Sony’s PlayStation VR headset, due out in October, was mostly devoted to games ranging from space shoot-em-ups to family puzzle games. A lot of them were enjoyable, but few were as dramatic as “The Deep,” which had me shaking alone in a dimly lit shark cage while what felt like the real thing circled outside.I had a similar moment playing “Until Dawn: Rush of Blood,” a horror game set in a zombie-infested amusement park. (Yes, it was a lot like the finale to “Zombieland,” just like “The Deep” bore more than a passing resemblance to an up-close-and-personal version of “Jaws.”) I knew the zombies weren’t really rushing at me through the darkness, but I couldn’t help ducking anyway.___A VIRTUAL FILM FESTIVALFilm festivals are starting to showcase VR films as directors explore the new medium. At New York’s Tribeca Film Festival, which opened Wednesday, I watched “Allumette,” a dreamy short based on the fairy tale “The Little Match Girl.”For 20 minutes, the story took me around a dollhouse-like town built in the clouds. It was charming to crane my neck to look at houses from different angles; at one point, I even stuck my head into a flying boat to see what was going on.“Notes on Blindness: Into Darkness,” meanwhile, translates the audio diary of man who’d gone blind into a virtual representation of his world. I found myself in a minimalist landscape in which sounds from a park formed ephemeral images — laughing children, barking dogs — that dissipated as their echoes faded.___VIRTUAL CONCLUSIONBottom line: My VR experiences to date have mostly been interesting, but still not entirely compelling. It’s clearly a medium in its infancy, and creators are still devising new storytelling techniques that can exploit the technology’s power. But it’s impossible to deny the technology’s underlying potential.Maybe it’ll even help me lose my fear of roller coasters one day. read more

This isnt the first time illegal recording of Garda station calls has

first_imgDuring the course of the trial the lawfulness or otherwise of the Garda Síochána at Waterford Garda Station recording incoming and outgoing calls on their public lines, and the admission of the evidence obtained during the use of such practices became the subject of protracted legal argument.On the 29th of January 2010, shortly after the arrest of Mr Holness, there was telephone communication between certain of the accused. These calls were recorded on the Garda Síochána recording system and a recording was provided to GSOC. This recording was offered in evidence by the DPP. Objections were raised by the Defence. The court held that the practice engaged in by the gardaí at Waterford Garda Station of recording all incoming and outgoing calls on a particular phone line was in breach of the relevant statute on the recording of telephone communications, which requires that at least one of the parties to a phone call has consented to its being recorded.This requirement was deemed to have not been met on this occasion. The court ruled that the evidence obtained in those calls was inadmissible.On consideration of the ruling of the court the Garda Commissioner may wish to re-evaluate his practice regarding the recording of such calls and the consents required if it is to be permissible to use such recordings in evidence. Despite this admonition in June of last year, Taoiseach Kenny said today in the Dáil that the system of recording incoming and outgoing calls at a large number of Garda stations stayed in place until November last year, with the Government only being informed of the extend of this practice this Sunday, and an inquiry launched only this afternoon.This evening, a government spokesperson said they were not aware of any discussion in relation to the report in question at government level or whether Justice Minister Alan Shatter was aware of it when it was published last year.Several queries to the Department of Justice about if and what Shatter knew about the report and whether he discussed it with the Garda Commissioner were not immediately returned.- additional reporting Hugh O’Connell First published 4.46pm New revelations: Incoming and outgoing calls at Garda stations taped ‘since the 1980s’>Gardai did not co-operate with watchdog investigation>Catch up: Everything you need to know about GardaGate in one place > Updated 6.40pm TODAY’S GOBSMACKING REVELATIONS that there was systemic recording of both incoming and outgoing calls to Garda stations around the country has sparked a major inquiry.Taoiseach Enda Kenny said today that the Government was first made aware by the Attorney General of the breadth of recordings on Sunday – and the fact that the recordings dated back as far as the 1980s.This “new information” however won’t surprise anyone who will have noted a report by the Garda Ombudsman relating to a case in Waterford in 2010.Academic and journalist Elaine Byrne retweeted a message from a Tim Price on Twitter, pointing out that the recording of incoming and outcoming calls from a Garda station had previously been highlighted in a court case:That case – although not the case referred to in today’s Government statement on how the systemic recordings came to light – shows that illegal recording of calls to and from Garda stations is a matter of public record.In 2010, Anthony Holness of Waterford made a complaint that he had been assaulted by gardai in the city. That case went to trial in 2011, two gardai were jailed for harming Holness when he was being arrested; another garda was given a suspended sentence for perverting the course of justice.In June of last year, GSOC claimed that gardai had not co-operated with the watchdog’s investigation into the claims – and, as reported in this article from that time, “was also critical of Waterford Garda station for illegally recording telephone conversations and called on Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to immediately review procedures”.The full report from GSOC can be read here.This is the most important passage (bold text by read more