HW

Virtual Reality

My daughter bought a Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphone several months ago and wasn't using it. I took it over to possibly use for Android software development. After seeing some reviews of virtual reality, I discovered that Samsung also made the Gear VR headset. I figured this would be a good and low cost way to experience virtual reality.

While I don't have a lot of experience, I think this technology needs more improvement before it will be widely used. I was initially concerned about wearing my trifocal glasses with the Gear VR. Luckily I have some glasses that have only one prescription that work fine. The Gear VR also has a focus adjustment dial on the top. Even then the display is not in focus at all points. Also the resolution of the phone display is split into two images, one for each eye, and magnified to reveal the pixels. Possibly, more expensive units have better viewing quality. Even with the display quality, it is easy to overcome with action and motion in the images.

The Gear VR supports a stereo audio output jack so you can use whatever earbuds or headphones you wish. It has a small trackpad on the side and two buttons for Back and Home control. I also discovered that my SteelSeries Nimbus controller works through wifi with the Gear VR. I bought the controller for my AppleTV but have to disconnect it from the AppleTV to use it with the Gear VR. Note that the Gear VR only works with a few of the Samsung smartphones and not my new iPhone 7+.

One last comment: the battery of the S7 phone only lasts 3-4 hours and gets pretty hot. There is an external power input that can also be used but I found that VR is too disorienting and tiring to use for more than an hour at a time.

GearVR

Scanners

sunday, 31 january 2010 10:12
I recently purchased a professional scanner after years of struggling with cheaper scanners.  My first scanner back in 1997 was an EasyPhoto Reader which just scanned photos up to about 4 inches wide. I also had flat bed scanners, the latest which is a Canon LiDE 20 that my wife still uses.  Three years ago, I bought an HP PhotoSmart All-in-One printer with scanner, copier and FAX built in.  That has both a flat bed and an automatic document feeder, ADF.  It scans well for one side of paper through the ADF, but not for photos.  Photos need to be placed on the flat bed.  Multiple photos can be placed and the software is supposed to separate the scans for each.  But that requires two steps, one to review the prescan and photo detection, and typically a second step to correct the identification.  
Last year I purchased a portable IRIScan 2 scanner that required a feeding each page or photo separately. Big problems was with color scanning since it blotched out portions of a photo.  It worked ok for text pages and did OCR with the included ReadIris software.  It also had a mode for business cards that worked pretty good using the CardIris software to OCR text, recognize fields and produce a vCard output. 
After seeing a promotion from Mariner Software for their Paperless software package that included a Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M scanner.  I investigated further and in early January 2010, purchased both separately and saved about $60 overall.  List price on the scanner is about $500 but I got it for $404 through Amazon.  This scanner comes bundled with Adobe Acrobat 8.0 Pro for the Macintosh as well as CardIris and ABBYY FineReader.  A version of this scanner for the PC includes Acrobat 9, but not the Pro version.  CardIris allows scanning of business cards, recognizing fields and outputs to VCF format files that can be imported into most address book applications.  FineReader is integrated to automatically convert scanned documents to PDF and recognize text.
The scanner feeds paper at about 20 pages per minute.  The ADF hopper holds about 50 pages, but I have scanned 60 pages at one time.  It scans both sides of a page and intelligently determines whether anything is on the second page.  It automatically orients a page and is accurate most of the time.   Note that as fast as this scanner is, I find that most of my time is loading paper, waiting for the text recognition or entering descriptive titles about the documents.  For the text recognition, a fastest processor is beneficial.  For multiple sections from one large collection, I can enter a title that is incremented with a 1 to 3 digit number.
I can put photos of various sizes in the ADF together and it determines what the size is.  Direct input to the Mac's iPhoto app is available.  I separate photos by size, orientation and whether there is writing or dates on the back.  The ones without writing, I scan in simplex mode, one side only.  The ones with writing, I scan both sides to capture the information in iPhoto where I can type it in later to identify .
The ScanSnap Manager has six options for output.  I can save the scans to a file for which I can define an incremented name or accept a time-date stamp for the file name.  I can also have scans sent through to email or just print out like a copy machine.  It will also output direct to MicroSoft Word or Excel.  The final output is for CardIris discussed above.
So far I have scanned about 1000 photos and 11000 pages.  I am on a mission to get rid of paper and have filled 4 recycling bins so far.  The scanner has a consumables menu which displays the total number of pages scanned and has counters that can be reset for the pad assembly and the pick roller.  The pad assembly should be replaced every 50,000 pages and the pick roller every 100,000.  So far, the scanner is working great.  My biggest problem is with pages sticking together due to holes from staples or ring binders.