Category: Technology

Glidecraft S600 is the closest you’ll get to a practical hoverboard

Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few months, chances are that you’ve heard about the Lexus hoverboard that supposedly lets you glide around like Marty McFly from Back to the future 2. What you may not know, however, is the fact that it isn’t a real hoverboard. Yes, it hovers in mid air and it is a board, but in order to ride it you need a special kind of track filled with magnets and you need to refill it with liquid nitrogen every 10 minutes. A process which takes roughly 10-15 minutes to begin with.

On top of that it’s incredibly difficult to ride. So difficult, in fact, that it took a professional skater Ross Mcgouran, who has been skating for about two decades, six months to ride the hoverboard well enough to shoot for the commercial. It basically feels like you’re walking a tightrope or “an invisible air rail” as Ross describes it.

It’s just not practical

I hope I didn’t ruin your childhood dreams just now, but as far as we know, there isn’t a real and practical hoverboard out there just yet.

Sure, there are a few startups here and there who are either working with hovering technology powered by magnets or something along the lines of huge drones, but if you want to take a ride on something as rad as the gravity defying pink hoverboard featured in Back to The Future 2 right now, it’s just not going to happen. Sorry.

What about that awkward “mini Segway”?

For quite a while now various companies have been taking advantage of the hoverboard craze and misleading us by labeling a miniature version of the Segway with no handlebars as a “hoverboard” when in fact it doesn’t hover at all and you have to be rather messed up in the head for it to resemble anything remotely board-like.

They are also known for spontaneous combustion, exploding and they’re definitely not as safe in terms of balancing as the classic four wheeled skateboard is. Still, it’s more than possible to learn to ride one and once you do, chances are you’ll become very good. Some have even said it’s like riding a bike.

Glidecraft hoverboard S600

All this aside, you can now buy a hoverboard from Glidecraft, a New Jersey based startup, who seems to be on the right track with their latest model, the S600.

Glidecraft s600 hoverboard ynef

Unlike its predecessors, the S600 features just one wheel in the center of what appears to be a rather futuristic looking skateboard and when I first saw the video where people rode the thing, at certain angles it truly looked as if the skater was hovering in mid air because you couldn’t see the wheel. The cool LED light show that surrounds the board also helps to make the illusion complete, especially at night.

With a top speed at around 10 miles per hour, it can ride up a slope without problems thanks to its powerful electric motor and certified Lithium Ion batteries that last approximately 3 hours before needing to be recharged.

Because of its self balancing features and the fact that you can stand on it as you would stand on a normal skateboard, a position which by the way is a lot safer, the chances of falling on your ass are greatly diminished unlike with the “mini Segway” where you stand horizontally on top of a two wheeler with its center of gravity working against you.

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Glidecraft hoverboard is the ultimate toy for gamers

What Disney turned into a video game some time ago, you can own in real life. The all new one wheel skateboard is probably the closest thing you will get to levitating in air. Since the wheel is in the center, when you are riding this new one wheel hoverboard to everyone, it looks like you are suspended in air. Since most video gamers are not the biggest workout enthusiast, they made moving on this new hover skateboard easier than any classic 4 wheel skateboard around.

One wheel hoverboard Glidecraft

When you turn it on, it assists you on your balance which from what I know its the only one of its kind. Every other skateboard takes weeks, maybe months to learn not to hurt yourself, but this new Glidecraft model it takes literally minutes and then it rides like you were born to be on one.

One wheel scooter Glidecraft hoverboard

The reason the S600 is the ultimate must have for any gamer is because it gets you to go outside! These boards are so much fun that going out just became way more attractive. Because many people will think that hoverboards don’t give you much of a workout, we have included this hoverboard workout video from youtube. Even though you are not walking, you still get quite the workout just from standing and balancing on one, especially if you take it outside on pavement.

Glidecraft one wheel hoverboard

The most important part is that you are having loads of fun while riding. These new skateboards gave me more satisfaction than most of the games I’ve played so far!

This new Hover skateboard looks way better than the original hoverboards for sale and they go just as fast, 10-12 miles per hour. They are lighter in weight, there is a handle to hold it. They feel way more durable.

If you put your feet close together you can actually jump up a curb with one, which I felt the regular two wheel hoverboards were missing. At first the $550.00 retail looked a little scary, but when looking at the price of most electric longboards and other electric scooters and comparing it to the workmanship of this unit, its well worth it.

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Filed under: GadgetsTagged with:

How To Increase Your Website Speed

In 2016, most web users expect websites to load in less than 3 seconds and if they don’t, they will click the “back” button in a heartbeat. Also, slow websites are typically penalized by Google, which will cause any natural rankings you have to drop over time. This is definitely not good for business and in this article, we will look at a few tips to increase your website speed.

Minimize HTTP requests

The first tip is that you should minimize HTTP requests. When someone enters your website’s URL or clicks on a link to your site, 80% of those few seconds are spent loading the different aspects of your page. These aspects include your style sheets, flash animations, images, scripts etc. In order for these elements to load, HTTP requests need to be made for each element which takes time. So, the easiest way to speed up your website is to reduce the number of HTTP requests that need to be made by simplifying your website, combing various style sheets into just one, using CSS instead of images, reducing scripts etc.

Enable compression

Next, another tip is to enable compression of your web pages. If you’re creating high quality content pages as you should, then you probably have pages that are 100kb or more. This is quite large and will cause your site to slow down. You can fix this by compressing your pages with tools like Gzip. By using a compression tool, you can reduce download time by as much as 70% since compression will reduce the overall bandwidth of the page.

Enable browser caching

Lastly, be sure to enable browser caching for your website. This is basically when a person visits your site for the first time, all of your website’s elements are downloaded and stored in their temporary cache. This information is kept in the cache so that any subsequent visits will cause the site to load faster and increase your website speed for that user.

In closing, we have just looked at a few ways to increase your website speed. Once you implement the above tips, be sure to continue testing and experimenting with other methods to see what works best.

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Filed under: SEO, Web development

What is meant by hosting a website (web hosting for beginners)

When you ask people how to make your own website available on the internet, oftentimes you may hear people talk about something called hosting a website. But what does it actually mean?

Put simply, web hosting is a service provided by web hosting companies which allows anyone to publish their content on the World Wide Web and while it’s possible to turn your own computer into a web host, it’s usually not recommended due to the increased security risks that come from making the contents of your computer available to the general public.

These security issues along with the limitations of your internet connection speed, not to mention the possibility of a hard drive failure, are the main reason why most people prefer to upload their data (website and its contents) on a professionally managed, safe and secure remote server (a web hosting service).

Web servers stacked on top of one another in a clean and neat room

How to choose web hosting?

With hundreds of different web hosting companies to choose from, it’s understandable if it can get a little overwhelming, but don’t worry- the guys over at top7bestwebhosting.com have put together a well researched web hosting providers comparison list and bring out the pros and cons of some of the most popular web hosting companies available.

I can tell you from my own experience that it’s not always a good idea to just go with the cheapest possible service because while the price may look sweet, the service itself will most likely be lacking something important with bandwidth and disk space limitations being the most common problem.

If you have a choice, it’s recommended to go with shared hosting at least in the beginning because it’s fairly cheap with most packages costing less than $5 per month and to be honest, shared hosting will be more than enough for your average website.

In case you didn’t know, shared hosting simply means that your website shares the disk space with other websites on the same physical server.

Shared hosting or Dedicated hosting?

Bigger web hosting companies have the capability of providing dedicated hosting packages for their clients. Dedicated hosting means that you lease out an entire physical web server all for yourself and no other website will have access to it.

For most people, this is unnecessary because dedicated hosting packages usually go for a lot more than a simple shared hosting with the prices reaching well into the hundreds of dollars per month area.

While shared hosting will be your best option if you’re simply looking to host a WordPress blog along with various plugins like WooCommerce, for example, a dedicated server will come in handy in case you want to publish adult material on your website or do something else that requires more processing power than normal (ie. hosting your own online game server).

Another example where you may need to switch to using a dedicated hosting package is when your business reaches a point where you have so many users online at any given time that it is starting to hurt other websites hosted on the same shared server by using up all the available memory and bandwidth.

Most hosting companies will usually send you a notification about it as soon as they detect such anomalies, but unless you’re as big as Amazon, Facebook or Twitter, you shouldn’t really worry about it.

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Silent Hill 4 (The Room) Apartment 302’s Living room in Virtual Reality

Silent Hill 4 – The Room is one of my favorite installments in the Silent Hill series and if you’re a true fan like me, you have probably dreamed of what it would be like if you had the chance to actually step inside the game– literally.

Well, guess what? Thanks to Oo-FiL-oO from Deviantart who extracted and converted a 3D model of Henry’s living room, I managed to mash up a Virtual Reality experience! All you need is the dirt cheap Google Cardboard headset and a regular smartphone to step inside Apartment 302 for the first time.

Apartment 302 in Google Cardboard

Apartment 302 Hallway

You’ll find yourself standing in the main doorway, looking at the other end of Henry’s apartment. There are a couple of chairs further away and beside the TV set you will notice a familiar chest where you used to store all of your items.

Unfortunately everything’s completely rusted shut in this alternate dimension, so I’m afraid you can’t open any cupboards or drawers at this point.

Apartment 302 Kitchen

I’m sure you’ll recognize Henry’s kitchen to your left. If you look closely, you might notice there’s blood in the sink. I wonder whose blood is that?

Apartment 302 Living room

Turn around and walk into the main room with a comfortable couch. You can rest your legs here if you feel like it. Oh no! The television set… it doesn’t seem to be working.

By now you’ve probably noticed Room of Angel playing in the background as you walk around Apartment 302 in this dark, alternate reality. How does this make you feel?

You can use the stereo on the bookshelf to switch between three different music tracks.

How to walk around

You can move around the entire living room by pulling the Google Cardboard’s magnetic trigger once. Now just look towards the direction you want to go and you’ll slowly keep walking until you pull the trigger again.

I haven’t tested it myself, but if you happen to have a newer Cardboard model, the trigger button should work fine on that too. Let me know if you run into problems!

Not the whole apartment, sorry

Since Oo-FiL-oO’s 3D model didn’t include the rest of the apartment, I only managed to do the living room, so there’s a big, rather poorly textured wall right where you’d normally go into the hallway that connects the toilet and Henry’s bedroom. I hope you’re not too disappointed.

You can’t interact with drawers, the fridge or any other items at this point (except for the stereo and couch). It’s just a simple VR experience where you can walk around the Apartment 302’s living room, but I think you’ll have a blast looking at things from a completely new perspective.

On top of that, Room of Angel is playing in the background so it should give the overall atmosphere a nice finishing touch. Think of this as an interactive music video!

Easter egg?

I’m not sure if you can call it an easter egg, but if you look closely, you should be able to find it. I’ll give you a hint: there’s an object in Henry’s living room that doesn’t belong- I took it from Unity’s asset store because it wasn’t included in the 3D model of the room. Can you find it?

Download Room of Angel (Apartment 302) VR Game

Note: Room of Angel was the original name for this app, but it has since changed. The official name from this day forward shall be Apartment 302! I had to make the change in order to comply with Google’s tough policies on impersonating someone else. In this case, Konami. And just in case you’re wondering, Konami is totally fine with this.

You need to make sure your phone’s security settings allow apps from unknown sources. Don’t worry, I’m a nice guy and would never do anything evil to your phone. You can download the installer here:

RoomOfAngel.apk (31,6 MB)

Or from the Play Store

Currently the game will only work on Android devices and because it uses a Cardboard viewer, you’ll need a phone that will fit in the headset.

It should work with a wide range of mobile phones, but so far I’ve only tested it on my own Samsung Galaxy S2 that’s running Android version 4.1.2 so I can only guarantee it will work flawlessly on that phone.

*EDIT* Looks like it’s working fine on Sony Xperia Z5 Compact as well, but only after the Cardboard headset was paired with the phone using Google’s Cardboard Viewer app. It’s actually a great app to get rid of double vision in most VR games out there.

I’m very much interested in finding out on which phones this works so please send me some feedback and if you like what I’ve done, make sure to share it with your friends!

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How to make a simple Virtual Reality room for Google Cardboard in Unity

Google Cardboard is an excellent way to experience Virtual Reality for the first time as it’s fairly cheap and is compatible with most modern smartphones so you don’t have to buy any additional hardware. Combine it with Unity, the most widely used free game engine, and you’ll have all the necessary tools to create your very own VR experience. In this tutorial I will walk you through a step-by-step process of building your first Virtual Reality room on top of a Google cardboard Unity demo.

The room will have a floor, four walls and a ceiling and you will be able to move around inside of it freely. If you don’t yet have Unity or the necessary SDK’s, please follow this straightforward guide from Google and continue reading my article when you have imported the demo and your working environment in Unity looks like this:

Unity Cardboard SDK Demo Scene

Problem parsing the package error

When you build the .apk file for the first time, load it to your phone and try to open it, you may encounter an error stating that “There is a problem parsing the package“. If this happens you need to open up your AndroidManifest.xml file inside Your Game/Assets/Plugins/Android directory and change the value of android:minSdkVersion to 16:

Change android minSdkVersion to 16 instead of 19 to fix problem parsing package error

Now build your game again, load it to your phone and you should be able to install the app. Oh and by the way, your phone’s security settings should be changed to allow unknown sources.

How to build a Virtual Reality room for Cardboard

Alright, let’s get started! We can optionally remove all the things we don’t need in our current game so in the Hierarchy panel, right click on Cube and delete it. Do the same for Floor Canvas, Overlay Canvas and Event System.

  • Now click on the GameObject drop down menu, navigate to 3D Object and click on Cube to create a new object in our game.
  • Right click on it in the Hierarchy panel and rename it to Character.
  • Drag the Head (under CardboardMain) inside the Character object.
  • Click Continue to confirm your action.
  • Left click on the Character object that now is parent to the Head object to select it.
  • In the Inspector panel at the right side Scale it to X: 1; Y:2; Z:1 and Position it to X:0; Y:1; Z:0.
  • While the Character is selected, navigate to Component, then Physics and choose Rigidbody.
  • In the Inspector panel edit Rigidbody settings by expanding Constraints and freezing the Rotation of X, Y and Z.
  • Additionally tick Convex in the Mesh Collider settings panel (for the Character object).

Adding the Character object and setting it up for virtual reality game

The Rigidbody will prevent us from walking through the walls and by constraining the Rotation of X, Y and Z, we prevent our character from possibly falling over. This was especially the case with the Capsule object set as our Character- you’d simply fall over when you touched a wall. Hilarious, but annoying.

Adding walking functionality

Now that our character is ready, we need to add a way to move around in the world. Luckily JuppOtto has created a script that we can use. You can download it from here.

  • Save the file as Autowalk.cs somewhere in your computer.
  • From the Assets drop down, navigate to Import New Asset and import the Autowalk.cs file.
  • Left click the Character object in the Hierarchy panel.
  • In the Inspector panel, click on the Add Component button.
  • Navigate to Scripts and choose Autowalk.
  • In the newly added Autowalk script component set Speed to 1.
  • Tick the Walk when looking down option and set Threshold Angle to 20.

Importing Autowalk.cs script and setting it up for Virtual reality game

If you play your game now you should be able to move around the empty space simply by looking slightly down. Your character stops when you look back up.

If you’re not satisfied with the angle you can always change it to something else, but I think 20 degrees is perfect because from playing other people’s games, I have found that if the angle is set too high it will be hard to pick up objects that are placed on the floor (you keep moving over them because you’re looking down).

You may have noticed that there is another setting called Walk When Trigger is pressed. It’s another great example of how one can move around and you should definitely try it out! This method was used in the VR Horror game Silent Home and for that particular game, it’s a great fit.

Building walls for our Virtual Reality room

Walking around in an empty space is boring so why don’t we add some walls and a ceiling to our game? We can do this simply by adding 3D objects, namely the Cube, into our game. To make the cubes more wall-like, we simply need to adjust their position and scale properties.

  • From the GameObject drop down, navigate to 3D Object and click on Cube.
  • In the Hierarchy panel, right click the Cube and rename it to Wall#1.
  • Adjust the Position and Scale properties of the Wall#1 in the Inspector panel. I set the Position to X: -3; Y: 1.5; Z:0 and Scale to X: 1; Y: 3; Z: 5.

Wall number one settings

  • Take advantage of the Duplicate option by right clicking Wall#1 to create three more walls.
  • In the Transform panel, Rotate the Wall’s Y coordinate by 90 degrees if needed.
  • Finally add a ceiling which should be placed on top of everything like a lid on a box.
  • Make sure to drag the Point Light object inside of your room once it’s ready.
  • You can optionally left click Point Light from the Hierarchy panel and adjust its light properties in the Inspector panel (range, color, that sorta thing).

Adjust Near Clipping Plane to 0.01Note: When you walk around in your room, you might notice that you can see through the walls when in close proximity.

To fix this, expand the Character object, then the Head object and select the Main Camera by left clicking on it. From its Inspector panel look for Camera and adjust its Near Clipping Pane to 0.01 which is the lowest possible value.

Here’s what my virtual room now looks like from outside (yours can look different. Just be creative!):

Virtual Reality Room Outside View

When you play the game now you should be able to move around in your virtual room, and because we applied Rigidbody to our Character object earlier, it’s working together with the wall’s Box Collider and thus preventing us from traversing through the walls as they weren’t even there.

So far so good. Now it’s time to add some textures!

Adding textures to our Virtual Reality room

Unity comes with its own built in Asset Store which is very similar to Google’s Play Store. In the Asset Store you can look for and download various scripts, textures and other stuff for your virtual reality game or any other game for that matter.

Searching for wall texture in Unity's Asset Store

Select the Free Only filter and search for wall texture from the Asset Store. I chose Make It A Brick Wall by Allegorithmic as the suitable texture for my walls.

When you find what you like, simply download the asset, wait for Unity to prepare it for you and when the Import Unity Package popup appears, select all and press the Import button.

Adding the texture to a wall

adding textures to a wall objectSelect the Wall#1 by left clicking on it in the Hierarchy panel. Expand it’s Mesh Renderer – Materials drop down and click the little circle right next to Default-Material.

A popup should appear in which you should be able to locate your newly imported texture easily. When you double click it, the popup should close and your Wall#1 will now have a texture.

Repeat the process on the rest of the walls (and ceiling if you like). I chose Dungeon Ground Texture by Pixel Indie as my ceiling’s texture.

Adding a texture to the floor

While you can use the same texture on your floor as you did on the walls, it will look a lot better if you add a different texture to it so after you have found the right material from the Asset Store again, left click on the Plane object in the Hierarchy panel to select it.

The Plane object’s default material in the Mesh Renderer should be GroundPlane. Simply click on the little circle next to it as before, browse to the material you want to use as your floor and double click it in the popup to set it as your new floor material.

Adjust tiling if needed

Adjusting the tiling settings for stone floor texture material

I used the Stone Floor Texture Tile by 3dfancy, but because the default tiling settings didn’t match with my floor quite right, I had to adjust its tiling manually. Simply find your texture folder inside the Assets panel at the bottom of Unity’s UI, open it and click on the texture material (with a blue sphere icon) to edit its tiling settings.

Your room in Virtual Reality is ready!

If you’ve followed this tutorial so far, you should have a single room in your VR game with solid walls and in which you can move around by looking slightly towards to the floor. Here’s what my room looks like:

Ynef's VR Room Game Demo Screenshot

If you want, you can download this app and try it out yourself.

Where to go from here?

This was just a basic tutorial on how to create a room in Virtual Reality for the Google Cardboard headset and the next step would probably be to create more rooms. Perhaps even a maze?

To be fair with you, I have to come out and admit that I made this tutorial to be a future reference point for myself because I’m a complete noob  in Unity and I have only been at it for a week. That being said, I hope my guide has helped you and if you get stuck, feel free to comment here or email me.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing or leaving a like so that I will know it has been useful for people and that you want me to write more similar tutorials in the future.

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The future of search: Why ranking #1 no longer matters (that much)

The implementation of Google’s Knowledge Graph, which was launched back in 2012, is a very important milestone in the search engine world and has already had an enormous impact on the way we acquire new information and extract valuable data from the internet. As such, the importance of having your website sit at the first position in Google’s search results is getting more and more irrelevant. In this article I will try to explain why it is so and how you can potentially benefit from this.

Future of search and why ranking number one no longer matters that much

Knowledge Graph examples

Even if you have never heard of the Knowledge Graph, you have probably already seen it in action whenever you search for something online. Here’s an example (in the form of a screenshot) of what happens when you Google for seo services vancouver:

seo services vancouver

When looking at the results page above, you’re immediately attracted to the fancy map, am I right? This is a great example of how even sponsored AdWords advertisements can be less attractive for most people than the completely free Knowledge Graph placements, as seen above in the form of a map, of companies near us offering search engine optimization services.

Getting answers more efficiently

Google, being the world’s top search engines, is constantly working on helping people find what they’re looking for faster and more accurately. Thanks to the Knowledge Graph this is now possible and more often than not you find yourself not needing to visit any actual websites any more because the correct answer to your question has been extracted by Google automatically. For example, if you simply ask Google “what’s the weather like today“, you can see a result like this:

Weather in Tallinn on May 2nd 2016 at 13 47

The above data has been automatically pulled from the weather.com website and as you can see, we no longer had to visit the actual website to know what the weather is like in our area.

This is useful on the desktop computer and saves us from the hard work of having to click the mouse twice, but the true power of this new technology becomes apparent when you’re using your smartphone’s voice to text feature and simply talk to your phone. Your phone will then read the first result back to you. Congratulations- we are one step closer to “Her“.

How to get on Google Knowledge Graph

Nobody really knows all the necessary requirements of getting your business or website to show up as a Knowledge Graph result and most of the time Google decides on who gets the honors on its own.

That being said, there are still a couple of things you can do right now to increase the chances of your website showing up as part of the Knowledge Graph search engine results page placement:

  • Aim for better user experience – Whenever you create new content, aim for providing the best end-user experience in the form of accurate and to-the-point solutions to the problem you’re writing about. Since Google’s algorithms are becoming more and more aware of what we are writing about, sometimes all it takes is to simply write for the human reader, disregarding the old fashioned search engine optimization tricks which can now be considered spam.
  • Write high quality unique content – Unless you’re /b, writing deep and meaningful content will help you get Google’s attention. Writing quality content means doing prior research on the topics you’re writing about and staying far away from content creation and article spinning software. This basically means writing unique content and getting your facts straight as well as quoting trustworthy sources (ie. Wikipedia).
  • Get a Google+ page – Just like Facebook fan pages, the Google+ page helps you to get in touch with like minded people and therefore find new potential clients for your business. It’s been observed that the more you interact with your audience and more importantly, the more your audience interacts with your Google+ page, the higher your chances of getting into the Knowledge Graph. So make sure to ask your clients to share your stuff and write good reviews about your service.
  • Put your business on Google Maps – This goes hand in hand with your Google+ page and will definitely help you get a boost of traffic from local clients looking for what you have to offer (check out the map example at the beginning of this article).
  • Use structured data – Most of the time Google will find important pieces of information by looking for the presence of structured data on your website. This is how you explain to the search robot what your website is about, who or what is on a certain image between your blog posts and how various bits of information are related to one another.

The future of search is fascinating

As a developer I can’t help but wonder what the search engines will be like in 10 years from now. Because of the advancements in Artificial Intelligence, we probably don’t have to use traditional tools like the keyboard or a mouse to get answers to our questions almost at the speed of thought.

This is all great and exciting, but at the same time challenging to the internet marketer of today because if Google can find answers to all of our problems, how are we supposed to get any new traffic to our websites let alone generate a sale?

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Best free Google Cardboard games for low end smartphones

The world of Virtual Reality really took off earlier this year when Oculus finally released a consumer ready version of the Rift- a standalone VR headset used with high end gaming computers running the Windows operating system. However not everyone can (yet) afford this new technology and according to Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus, we are still years away from a Rift for everyone. But does it stop us from experiencing Virtual Reality right now? Of course not.

Poor man’s Virtual Reality headset

Google cardboard

Back in 2014 Google realized that it doesn’t take a lot of effort to trick the brain into believing it’s actually inside a virtual environment and by combining a regular smartphone with a magnet, a couple of lenses and a recycled cardboard casing held together by a rubber band, the Google Cardboard was born.

And even though the Do It Yourself head mount is not intended to be 100% immersive, it will give you a first hand VR experience for less than the price of a Happy Meal and it’s definitely worth it. Just slide your phone between the cardboard case and you’re off to explore the wonders of a completely different, virtual realm.

Best cardboard games to get you started

In the last two years since Google Cardboard was first introduced to the public, game developers have been eagerly working on creating the next best Virtual Reality game for your smartphone and to be honest not all of them get it right.

For example the most common issues I’ve faced when testing numerous VR games for android phones with a Google Cardboard are double vision due to the screen not being split exactly right and excessive lag in the head tracking technology which can induce motion sickness rather easily. It’s basically when you move your head to the left and the camera keeps going left even after your head has stopped. It’s confusing to the brain and sort of feels like being way too drunk.

Of course I’m not blaming the developers for everything since I have a low end smartphone myself with poor processing power by today’s Virtual Reality standards to begin with, but still there are certain things you can do a lot better by simply writing better code.

Anyway, I’ve been testing various VR games from the Play Store using my Samsung Galaxy S2 and a regular Google Cardboard I bought off eBay a while back and here’s a list of games that I actually enjoyed playing and didn’t uninstall immediately.

On a side note, if you’re like me and get motion sickness easily, you should probably take breaks between gaming sessions to avoid feeling sick for up to an hour after removing the headgear because Virtual Reality Sickness is a real thing.

The Dark Forest VR

The Dark Forest VR

From the few Virtual Reality horror games that my smartphone can actually handle flawlessly, the Dark Forest VR really surprised me as it didn’t make me feel sick at all. I guess it has to do with how natural your movement feels when playing the game and there’s absolutely no double vision or any other crap that will make the overall experience awful to say the least. I really recommend it if you’re a fan of horror games as the atmosphere in the game is guaranteed to give you goosebumps.

VR Fantasy

VR Fantasy

If you like fantasy adventure type games then you will enjoy VR Fantasy– a first person fantasy game where you are taken on a quest to explore a mysterious fortress filled with cute, but dangerous enemies. The graphics in this game are a lot more detailed than in Dark Forest and the scenery is really enjoyable to just stare at for a while. It’s almost as if you were inside a childhood dream.

As with a lot of other VR games for android devices, you can move around simply by looking down at your feet where you can find an icon which, when focused on, will make your character move forward. You can fight enemies and break treasure chests using the magnet button at the side of your Cardboard headset and if you happen to have a Bluetooth controller, you’re in luck because the game supports that as well.

Deep Space Battle VR

Deep Space Battle VR

Even if you’re not a true fan of space shooters, you’ll definitely get a kick out of protecting Earth from a bunch of alien attack vessels that fly out of a mothership parked in orbit around our planet. The Deep Space Battle VR is basically a modern version of Space Invaders, but this time around You are in the center of action- literally. All in all it’s another immersive VR experience well done by Archiact Interactive Ltd. With a 4.1 rating on the Play Store, it’s a must have in any mobile VR game collection.

VR Silent Home

Silent Home creepy woman

Ohh man… so Silent Home is officially the first Virtual Reality horror game that managed to spook me so much I had to take off my headset just to make sure I was still in one piece. It happened when I was walking through a corridor very similar to what I’ve previously seen in Konami’s Silent Hill series with a lot of doors leading to various messed up rooms.

There I was just minding my own business, taking a look at some notes on the floor, and as I was about to leave the room, I lifted my head up and saw a woman standing in the doorway (yup, that’s her on the screenshot).

For a moment I thought she was a friend, but then she turned her head… you know, slowly and all the way back 180 degrees… she stared at me for a moment just to make sure my brain registered her horrific blood shot eyes and unleashed a bone chilling scream right before dashing at me. Then… everything went black…

What’s more, after removing the headset to make sure I was still alive, I realized that I had completely lost all sense of “reality” because I was standing in front of a wall in my room and I had no idea how I got there. Talk about immersive virtual reality… and that all happened using a plain old cardboard. I’m impressed!

Where to go from here

After you have experienced these new and exciting virtual worlds on your cardboard, you will probably want to try out even more fun games, right? Well, you’re in luck because VR has really started to grow exponentially. I remember just last year when the best game, called Tuscany Dive, was a big hit. You could only walk around a virtual house and there were no objects to interact with, but it was considered mind blowing by most.

Now, just a year later, the entire Play Store is filled with epic content. And while some developers are definitely doing a better job than others, it’s important to realize that we are only at the beginning of a very interesting journey into the virtual realms and the most immersive and epic experiences haven’t even come out yet.

Upgrade to a more advanced headset

Over time you will no doubt realize that your cardboard isn’t very effective in taking you into the virtual world. For instance, I can only enjoy playing mobile VR games in complete darkness because of that annoying ambient light that otherwise shines through the cracks.

Additionally the cardboard doesn’t really align with my face that well, isn’t very durable and has a nasty sweat collector right between the eyes. Ugh. This is why it will make sense to eventually upgrade to a better, more advanced headset built by Samsung and meant for mobile virtual reality gaming.

In some ways it’s actually a better solution than Oculus Rift to a lot of people, mainly because it’s portable and since our smartphones are getting faster and faster chips all the time, we can soon experience “Rift class” virtual reality on the go.

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Benefits of replacing GU10 halogen bulbs with their LED counterparts

When I first moved in my apartment 5 years ago, the owner had just renovated it and like many other “modern” kitchens, ours too had to have a total of ten GU10 halogen light bulbs spread across the entire ceiling. Definitely overkill for a small room and It was bright as hell, but honestly I kinda liked it. What I didn’t like, however, was the monthly electricity bill and so I took most of the halogens out of their sockets, leaving a total of seven awkward holes in the ceiling. The lonely trio that remained still managed to illuminate the entire room- that’s how bright they were.

Replacing GU10 halogens with LED’s

Gu10 LED light bulb from Majordepot.comBy pulling out most of the unnecessary halogen light bulbs I effectively managed to cut my electricity cost by around 60%. I’m still not entirely sure why the owner needed to use so many light bulbs when you could do just as fine with only three. Maybe he just liked bright hospital-like rooms?

Whatever his “problem” was, I had one too- those damn awkward holes! They didn’t bother me that much, but I grew tired of stupid remarks ie.”are you a vampire?” or “how broke are you?” every time someone would come over.

That’s when I first learned about the GU10 dimmable LED‘s and I was shocked to realize just how much more energy efficient, not to mention cheap they were compared to their halogen counterparts. Many people online claim to have reduced their electricity bill by up to 80% simply by replacing all of their halogens with LED’s.

I knew then and there that this was the way of the future and my “hole problem” would be swiftly taken care of once and for all.

GU10 halogens VS their LED counterpart

Here’s a quick bullet point overview on why the LED’s are superior compared to the halogen version:

  • Depending on where you’re buying them, they usually cost half the price of halogen light bulbs.
  • They consume much less energy for the same light output and therefore you can reduce your utility bill by up to 80%.
  • Under normal conditions the LED’s have up to 20 times longer life span compared to old halogen light bulbs.

It’s clear that you will save money both from using less energy for the same amount of brightness and because the LED’s usually live way longer, you have to buy them less frequently and even if one eventually wears out, they go for way cheaper than their halogen analogs.

Choosing the correct wattage

GU10 LED light bulb wattage information as seen on Majordepot.comChoosing the correct wattage to replace your old halogen bulbs is actually pretty easy because all the information you need is usually written right there on the box.

For example if your old halogen bulb has 35W written on it, you should look for a LED that says 4-35W on the box.

In layman terms it means: This is a 4W LED light bulb meant to replace a 35W halogen.

Color and beam angle

The two other variables you need to consider are the color of your LED light and it’s beam angle. There are commonly three different colors available: 827 (warm light) used in most households, 830 (warm white light) often used in restaurants and hotels, and finally 840 (cold white) often used in offices or supermarkets. For a cozy atmosphere I definitely recommend 827 – warm light.

The beam angle is another variable that changes from bulb to bulb. For a regular household, I’d go for the widest possible angle you can find because this way more of your room gets illuminated. On the other hand if you want to enhance a certain object like a painting or a statue, then it would make sense to put a light with a narrow beam angle above it.

Generally you can choose from 25 to 60 degree beam angles and the most commonly used GU10 light bulbs have a beam angle of 40 degrees.

Is it dimmable?

If you happen to have a light dimming switch integrated in your system, you definitely have to double check the box of the LED bulb because not all LED light bulbs are dimmable. Fortunately they’ve made it easy for us by simply adding the letter D in the name. For example: D 4-35W. And if you look closely, you’ll probably find the word “dimmable” somewhere on the package as well.

Conclusion

As you can see there is really no reason why you shouldn’t replace those old halogens with a new and more energy efficient technology. You’ll benefit from a cheaper price, a much longer lifespan and most importantly a significantly reduced electricity bill. On top of that, the GU10 LED’s have a voltage of 230 which means you can simply plug them into your regular sockets and start using them immediately.

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Requirements to create a theme for wordpress

WordPress is the number one Content Management System (CMS) for both small time blogs, huge corporate websites and even online shops thanks to an endless sea of plugins such as WooCommerce, for example. With thousands upon thousands of free wp themes available on the internet, it’s almost guaranteed that you will find the one template that suits You perfectly. However if you are after a more professional and a truly one of a kind appearance, developing your own WordPress theme is probably a better idea.

Requirements for building a WordPress template

Creating your own WP theme requires at least a basic understanding of the following web programming languages: PHP, CSS, HTML and JavaScript. Here’s a quick overview on each language and how well you should “speak” it:

  • Cascading Style Sheets or CSS for short is the first one on my list because it’s the most important part of any theme/template. This is what gives your website (the skeleton) an actual “skin”. Without it there would be no “web design”.
  • Hypertext Markup Language or HTML for short is next in line because it’s “the skeleton” of your project. Without it there would be nowhere for your “skin” to go.
  • Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) is yet another very important part of a WordPress theme because PHP is a server side scripting language which makes your entire website “tick”. You can think of PHP as a set of cogs, strings and wires that when put together just right, will make the clock run.

WordPress How To Create A ThemeThe three programming languages above are all required if you want to develop your own wp theme, but CSS and HTML are the two most important ones.

PHP is important too, but since WordPress is a very advanced platform, you will find that there is little to no need to actually add/edit any PHP code when creating a new theme. It’s possible to get away with just knowing how to use PHP’s include function in order to include certain page elements together (for example header, content and footer).

However if you want to build custom plugins or other functions that no other website uses, you have to dig a little deeper into PHP.

You may have noticed that I left JavaScript out of the list and I did it on purpose because honestly JavaScript and libraries such as jQuery are mostly used for cool special effects and aren’t really a requirement for building a new and functional WordPress template.

Additionally it may slow down your website’s loading speed and nowadays we can achieve pretty much any special effect using CSS/CSS3 so for the average user JavaScript is just going to do more harm than good. On top of that there are still plenty of oldschool internet users who have disabled JavaScript on their browsers.

Recommended framework to work with

I seriously advise against building a WordPress theme from scratch unless you’re doing it because you want to learn everything there is to know about the wonderful CMS. Why? Because WordPress is quite complex and it would take you a very long time, especially if you have never done this before, to go through all of the code and create a template on top of it.

It’s simply a lot easier and faster to use a “naked” framework which includes all the basic back-end stuff so you can get developing the front-end immediately. One of my favorite “skeleton” frameworks is Underscores and I have designed many WordPress themes on it. It’s basically a fully functioning wp theme with absolutely no design so it looks like you’re back in the 90’s.

Additional tools

You will need Notepad or better yet, Notepad++ to write code which I assume most of you already have and a testing platform with PHP 5 support, an SQL database and optionally FTP access if you’re not doing it locally.

Google Chrome is great for developers as it comes with the Inspect element feature which means you can inspect any element on your web page and the browser will show you exactly where it’s located within your code. It’s especially useful for figuring out where the element is rendering, what id and class it has and a lot more.

WordPress Codex is a useful repository of code (mostly back-end) with great examples and a very active support group ready to answer your questions. Only StackOverflow can outshine it’s activeness!

Finally the Theme Unit Test data will populate your WP blog with dummy content with the sole purpose of breaking your theme, which is good of course, because otherwise we would miss the small stuff and our project wouldn’t be whole.

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