Big news from the world of technology: Oculus Rift is here.
What is Oculus Rift? Basically, according to all the accounts, your entry ticket to the world of virtual reality. Instead of just observing the action, you are part of the action; navigating surreal landscapes or blasting aliens in deep space.
Of course, like most ground-breaking technologies, the cost to explore virtual worlds isn't cheap. Expect to shell out around $1,500 for the starter system.
Initial reviews are mixed, like this one. But most everyone agrees it's the start of something big, and will only get better, and more affordable. Hardcore gamers will be the first in line. And speaking of hardcore, the porn industry is getting their own VR products out there. They don't miss a trick, do they?
But VR isn't exactly a new concept. Remember the View-Master? Introduced in 1939, it utilized thin cardboard wheels with color images to achieve 3D effects, like you were on that African savannah, watching that lion. Check out the video above.
Google has launched their own version of that, using cardboard viewers and your smartphone -- here's an example. Not as sophisticated as Oculus, but also nowhere near the price.
The potential of VR is virtually limitless. One can only try to imagine the kind of immersive experiences coming soon to a headset near you. The fabled Holodeck of "Star Trek" fame may still be a reach, but with the pace of technology being what it is, you can't rule out anything.
Personally, I'm not sure VR can match the actual reality of walking on one of our beautiful Florida beaches and dipping our toes into the shimmering aqua blues of the Atlantic Ocean. That's just a few minutes away. And did I mention -- free?
The Palm Beach International Boat Show is under way this weekend, and it kicked off with a panel of experts talking about some of the issues the marine industry needs to address, including this one:
"How do we get more young people into boating?"
A very good question. It's not because it's not popular -- evidence the boat jams around Peanut Island on any given weekend, or the flow of craft on the IntraCoastal. It's not because it's not fun -- cruising, fishing, partying or just relaxing -- it's the thing to do in Florida. I'm no industry expert -- far from it -- but for my money, the main reason is ... just that: Money.
Boating on just about any scale is not an inexpensive pursuit. Beyond the initial cost of the boat, there's the maintenance, and the fuel. The insurance, and the licenses. And when it's not in use, there's the even bigger headache of where to park it. Marina slips aren't easy to come by. Dry storage, not cheap either. HOAs and COAs restrict parking them in yards or parking lots.
While Millennials may be the generational advertising darlings du jour, most of them I know wouldn't exactly be described as flush. Many still live with mom and dad, by necessity. They would be hard-pressed to buy a paddle board or kayak, much less a boat.
I suspect they are good candidates to join one of those boat clubs, and let someone else take care of the upkeep. Or get lucky and have a friend or relative who owns a boat, and doesn't mind sharing.
Answers may not be easy, but there are a lot of smart people, both young and old, working on the problem. Boating is too important to the state's economy not to. Not to mention the lure of all that beautiful blue water that virtually surrounds us.
My co-editor and partner-in-everything, Pam, is so creative. Just check out what she whipped together using one of those make-your-own-magazine-cover apps. Full disclosure: Posing with a surfboard is about as close to actually riding one as it gets for me.
It's not the first time I had my picture made with a surfboard. During high school, me and a buddy took a summer trip down to the Texas coast, where we rented a pair of surfboards. I gave it my best shot, but it just wasn't my thing.
But not wanting to return to school a laughingstock, we devised a plan: Place the surfboard on the beach, stand on it and strike a "Moondoggie" pose, wait until the waves covered it up -- then take a photo.
Come on -- you have to give us some credit: PhotoShop was years away.
Yes, it's that time again. Daylight Savings Time, that is. Our twice-yearly ritual here in the U.S. where we "spring forward" and "fall back." This time around, it's the former, of course.
Whether you like it or not, it's a pain. First, it throws your sleep cycle out of whack. I end up missing that hour of sleep until we get it back. Second, there all those clocks to change. Third, you feel like you're getting up with the chickens and going to bed just after sunset. Fourth, it's just seems wrong to tamper with the natural order of things. Like we are risking retribution from the gods.
There must be a better way to "save" daylight. I'm thinking maybe this is the next frontier for virtual reality. Want a longer day? Just put on your goggles and step into the Holodeck ...
On our recent visit to the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, I discovered you can capture a picture of yourself taking a picture in one of the artworks. Of course you can't see my face ... but no one is complaining about that. (Photo by Gerry Barker)
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Yes, I know it's spelled like "Jerry." No, I don't know why it's pronounced "Gary."