Thursday, August 13, 2015

Tech Thursday: hands on with VR

I've discussed VR and AR devices and predictions of their applications in the future several times. Now I've got a brief hands-on with it to review, specifically the Samsung Gear VR.

Other than not quite being able to get it in perfect focus, it was pretty fantastic. There was no visual lag to be noticed, and most of the images were nicely crisp and reasonably 3d. Headset was easy to wear and comfy, and the whole rig caused no headache, vertigo, or disorientation (note: I'm mostly immune to these, your experience may differ).

The interface needs a bit of work, but various controllers and similar are in the works, and even the included touch interface would work just fine were it a personal model I could adjust the settings on. I'd like a bit wider field of view, but dedicated vr sets like the occulus rift will no doubt handle that. It also kind of requires you sit in a spinning chair, at least for the games I used.

VR and AR are technologies that are going places. A bit more streamlining and development and I'd bet they'll be as revolutionary a step as the smartphone was. Presently vr is stuck in a loop of not much development for it because nobody has it yet because nobody develops for it. I'm used to being a late adopter for tech, but i think this is one that's worth it to get in on.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Motor Monday: Tactical Hotrod

Been a while since I had stuff for one of these. Been meaning to do this one a while.

A thing that rolled across my dash on the Book of Faces.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

GURPS Macheteswords, further further musings

It's much easier to work out how to stat something when you have it in hand to test and dick around with. And, as usual when doing things in GURPS, I over-complicated things. McThag said it was pretty much just Cheap, which I agreed with on the lost damage (utility edge isn't as sharp as regular, etc), but wasn't sure about the increased odds of breakage seeming wrong. Naturally I went to trying to make a new rule, as opposed to the better option of "Machetes just bend a bit rather than snapping", resulting in penalties to use but an otherwise easily fixed and still functional blade.

I also mis-remembered the mass-produced modifier given as being 75% instead of 60%, so no change to that, although I will rule that the powers of modern mass production can allow it to be applied to most modern factory-made swords (there are plenty of handmade swords still to be found for comparison, and the price difference is just about right).

And, because why not, some stats

CS Cutlass Machete: Splits the difference between cavalry saber and cutlass due to borderline size, with elements of falchion due to balance; mass produced, cheap quality (machete). Given time and equipment, may be sharpened to a good edge, at the cost of shorter edge longevity (stats given are for good quality, which requires time to sharpen).

Sword (Broadsword or Shortsword)
TL     Weapon               Damage        Reach   Parry    Cost    Weight   ST     Notes
 8    Cutlass Machete    SW+1 cut         1           0        $36        2 lb     10      Hilt Punch
                                      THR imp         1            0          -                      10
Handguard provides DR4 against crushing, DR2 vs everything else

CS Bowie Machete
Mass produced (60% cost), high tech good quality (40%) Long Knife.

Cold Steel Macheteswords Review

I LIVE! Well, kind of. Anyway, here's a slightly-past-first impressions review.

First up: CS Cutlass Machete, $30 on amazon

Like all CS machetes, it comes in a really basic plastic sleeve and a cordura sheath. Out of the box, the edge was possibly the worst edge I've ever seen. It also was not a machete edge at all, much narrower of angle, more like a knife's edge. Cleaning up the edge of the blade was reasonably quick, and left a decent knife's edge on it. The blade itself balances a nice 6-8" out from the grip, giving it a hearty chopping weight not dissimilar to a light hatchet. EDIT TO ADD: The balance point of the cutlass machete is identical to that of an SOG Tactical Tomahawk relative to grip. The molded polymer handguard, while not particularly standard for a machete, is nicely placed to prevent crushing your hand should you screw up a swing. The blade is simple stamped steel, covered rather crudely with an anti-rust finish except for the very edge. The blade is sturdy enough, and can withstand a not insignificant amount of bending and snap back straight, and any bend too extreme is easily straightened with little difficulty. The guard itself is molded directly to the blade.

Here's where things diverge from what you'd expect of a machete. First off is the blade length; at 24", it sits right at the intersection between shortsword and broadsword in length. Despite being nominally a machete, it has a rather nice point for thrusting. I may add a false edge to the back, to really step it up to a proper thrusting blade. I've been using it to practice for broadsword fencing, using a free broadsword manual available on kindle (Broadsword and singlestick, with chapters on quarterstaff and bayonet). Other than requiring forearms of might to keep the blade under control and enact swift direction changes, it works quite excellently for it. The blade and grip feel quite nice in hand, the blade size perfectly registering as "Sword", neither too short nor too long, able to be used for shortsword and shield style thrusting just as well as broadsword style cuts and thrusts. The polymer grip and guard, while pleasant in the hand, are just polypropylene and though durable against bludgeoning, polypropylene is easy to shave off or cut through.

-Versatile size
-Reasonable weight
-Good for chopping
-Cheap enough to use and abuse

-MUST be sharpened after purchase
-Balance requires substantial forearm strength for anything but the most basic of use
-Molded grip, while passable, is molded on rather than screwed/pinned in, and cannot be easily swapped for a grip to adjust the balance or gain actual protection for the hand.

Overall Rating/Value for Money:
B+, would be A- if the grip were screwed/pinned on and could be swapped by those so desirous. Still, a superb sword for the low cost.

Next: CS Bowie Machete, $18 on amazon

Similarly to the cutlass, packaged plainly and comes with a simple cordura sheath. Had a similarly terrible and even LESS machete-like edge than the cutlass. The balance is also hardly machete-like, and is nearly identical to their simple fighting knife, the GI Tanto. The bowie machete is quite light, as well, despite being such a massive blade it weighs about the same as the nearly half length knife. It has the same molded-on grip as all the other CS machetes, and is comfy enough if odd and lacking in anything resembling a grip.

-Handy size
-Light weight
-Nicely balanced

-Poorly weighted for chopping
-No handguard between grip and blade
-Grip cannot be easily replaced.

Overall Rating/Value for Money:
B, B+ with replaceable grip. It's basically just a cheap, abusable bowie knife.