Flashing ROMs like My Wife Drives.

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The Connections Between Chris Lacy, Muggles and Flashing ROMs like My Wife Drives.

 

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It may be hard to see how Chris Lacy is connected to my wife’s driving skills.  I can understand if you are confused, Chris comes from the land down under while my wife’s driving takes place in the Great White North.  Geographically Australia and Canada are rather far apart but if you throw in Muggles and some ROMs to flash it all starts to connect.  Let me explain.

For those that have read my posts before, know that I am a big fan of the RootJunky website.  I guess that is obvious as I always post on his site.  I also visit other tech site that interest me and I enjoy podcasts. One of my favourite podcasts is the blerg, from Chris Lacey .  I have been listening to his podcast for a few months now and I really enjoy it.  He does seem a little harsh toward OEMs, from time to time, but he does it without bias towards any operation system or equipment manufacturer.  I would call him “tech agnostic”, not sure what he would say about that but that is how he comes across to me.  He is an accomplished developer and if anyone is allowed to dish out some harsh criticisms from time to time, it is an accomplished developer.  Dursleys-from-Harry-Potter

Anyway, I have heard him use the term Muggles when referring to people like me, newbs or the uninitiated.  As many of you may know the term Muggle comes from the Harry Potter book series, a Muggle is a person who lacks any sort of magical ability and was not born into the magical world. Muggles also do not have any magical blood. That’s a quote from Google.  Chris uses it to reference those who lack any sort of programing ability and were not born into the computer world or do not have any magical programming blood.  In the Harry Potter books it is a derogatory term, that the privileged few have for their lesser.  I don’t think that Chris uses it in that negative way. I actually like the way he uses it and I think it fits.

I remember the feeling of magic that fell upon me when I followed that first XDA thread, allowing me to flash slimROM on my aging Samsung tablet.  Installing Odin on my PC was done during a new moon.  The recovery was flashed while I danced naked with the witches of Salem.  Booting up the new ROM for the first time I sprinkled the blood of a Unicorn across the screen for good measure.  Just like magic or maybe because of it…….. my tablet booted up and ran like a dream.  It still runs to this day and runs really well on slimROM.  This whole process is very magical to me, so the term Muggle fits.odin-header

Chris Lacy can call me a Muggle anytime and I am OK with that.  I have magical friends like RootJunky to help me out when things go wrong.  Youtube is filled with great videos and XDA is always there.  If you have a problem chances are RootJunky has a video about it or the solution is waiting for you at XDA.  If you follow their magical directions you will be able to work miracles.  This bring me to my wife’s driving.

My wife is a great driver.  She is confident behind the wheel and has a good sense of the road.  A few years back when we were looking for a new vehicle, it was obvious that she would have preferred a high end sports car; too bad that was not in our budget, I would have preferred that too.  Sadly the Corvette in the photo is not ours.  Cars that had stronger engines, stiffer suspension and steering that let you feel the road was where her choices gravitated.  It was really interesting to watch her go through the process of testing cars because I happen to be a mechanical wizard.  To me she is an automobile Muggle.  Someone that is unaware of the magic that lies under the hood. Now just because my wife is a automobile Muggle please don’t think she can’t drive.  She may not understand the difference between 2 stroke and 4 stroke engines or understand what is taking place when you shift gears, but put her behind the wheel and she more than competent, perhaps even talented.  That is exactly how a thought I flashed ROMs, more than competent, perhaps even talented.  That is what I thought but I am not so sure now.

To me, guys like the RootJunky are wizards, Chris Lacey is like a level 20 Magic user and Chainfire is from another dimension. It is funny how many people there are like me.  We flash a few ROMS and then think that we can take down governments with our hacking abilities.  I really have no idea of what I am doing half the time and this became apparent a few weeks back.  When modding my phone, I follow the road as my wife does when she drives but I don’t instinctively hit my apex in the corners.  I would love to tell you how I have become one of the few, someone capable of magic but really I am just good at following directions.  In that respect I guess my wife’s driving is much better than my flashing.  She at least has an inborn talent for understanding space and the car’s place in it.  I am just good at following directions.

My ability to follow direction and my lack of any really Android knowledge became very apparent about two weeks ago.  I wanted to give Cyanogen 13.0 a try but I wanted to try out the CAF variant.  This took a little bit of magic and I…….I am just a Muggle.  I did get CM 13.0 CAF running on my phone but my actual phone app was crashing on me all the time.  Not much of a smartphone if you can’t make phone calls.   After a number of wipes and reinstall things were not getting any better.  So I did what I do best, I followed directions on XDA.  I started from scratch and got my phone back to stock Android. Oh the defeat and shame that I felt.  

It was at this time of defeat that I listened to Chris Lacey’s podcast and heard him used the term muggles again.  That is when all the connections hit me: Chris Lacy, Muggles, flashing ROMs, my wife’s driving and this post was born.

My phone is currently running well with CM13.0, but not the CAF variant.  I have decided to stay away from that.   It was a tough week for this muggle as I struggled through my phone issues. It was a little disappointing realizing  that after a year or two of flashing ROMS I am still driving without really knowing what is happening under the hood. I may never be at the level of a developer but as I have fun in the world that XDA has shown me I will improve day by day.  

Who knows, one day I may be able to flash ROMs like my wife drives!

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Episode Tuesday

Misfit Flash

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Misfit Flash

The Misfit Flash fitness tracker is worth way more than it’s meer $29.99 price tag. The Flash is a slim fashion friendly wearable fitness tracker that measures sleep and activity. This information is available through syncing the Flash with your smartphone via the Misfit app (on both Apple & Android). The app helps organize all the information collected by the Flash. For example, calories burned, distance traveled, steps taken & sleep duration/quality. With a catalogue of pre programmed activities to track like running, walking, tennis, cycling, basketball & soccer, tracking different activities is simple and this keeps the collected data accurate to each activity. This is an always on fitness tracker. Once you put it on you don’t need to remember to charge it or plug it in to update or receive logged data. With a battery life of 6 months to a full year, depending on use. Misfit is considerably one of the most convenient fitness trackers available, especially within it’s low price tag. In addition to tracking fitness and sleep the Misfit Flash also works as a wireless bluetooth button that can be programed to trigger events. Events such as services like, Yo, IFTTT, Harmony & Ring my phone. Other events such as music and camera control are also available for programming. With the services event options you can extend the reach of this tiny fitness tracker. To use this feature and use the tracker as a bluetooth button with programmed responses first you’ll need to install and setup the Link app by Misfit.  

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Misfit Link

The Link app by Misfit picks up where the Misfit app leaves off. Stepping in after the fitness and sleep tracking and enabling the interactive functionality such as the single, double, or triple press and the long press options. After syncing your device with the Link app, you’ll be presented with pre themed options like, music remote, selfie button, preso clicker, bolt switch and the custom button option. We’ll be covering the custom button option. Where each click, tap and press are blank and customizable with 3 sub options. The 3 sub options are, services, music remote and selfie button. Inside the services option there’s time & progress, yo, if, harmony and ring my phone. Music remote options are next, back, volume up and down. The selfie button list is short but still very useful with its take a photo and burst pictures options. With these plug-in like events, that can be programmed to react to a single or patterned click of a simple fitness tracker, the events options are only limited to your imagination.  

Custom Buttons

A profile for every occasion. Switch between profiles for fast functionality based on your needs in the moment. There are a bunch of pre built profiles such as the Bolt option, that comes with two button options, single press (change brightness) and long press (power off). You can create many custom profiles that have up to four button combo options, in case the provided ones fll short.

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IF (If This Then That)

By far one of the best most useful apps to be published to date is IF by IFTTT (If This Then That). Which means just that. If this (Misfit Button Pressed) Then (Play/Pause Music). It’s very simple to set up recipes. Just open the IF app and create a recipe with the if this then that template. With over 230+ services to choose from for there are endless options to combine. Just login to the services you choose to use and select an event that will domino effect a responding event. If you can’t seem to think of anything, to get the creative juices flowing try the shared recipes in the recommend or collections folders.

IFTTT Recipes

Some fun Misfit Flash IFTTT recipes are; (IF) Single Press (Then) Toggle Hue Lights On / (IF) Double Press (Then) Toggle Hue Lights Off. (IF) Triple press (Then) Send Daily Activity Report To Google Drive Folder / (IF) Long Press (Then) Play Workout Jams. Get creative with your recipes and the available services.

MyFitnessPal

For counting calories and logging your meals, MFP is your best option out of the vas list of apps available. Here is where you log the food you eat and the calorie count takes place. See the Misfit Flash tracks what calories you burn but that’s only half of the equation needed to do some diet math. MFP is the missing half, by giving you something to subtract them calories from. Knowing the macros of your meals is important when you’re trying to lose weight. So you’ll have a calorie intake number and a calorie outgoing number to make sure you’re not burning the candle at both ends. Keep track of how many calories you’re taking in and make sure it’s healthy (advise a trainer or nutritionist).

MFP Tips

Logging meal preps can be a pain in the glutes, but with MFP it’s actually pretty simple. Just scan the barcodes of all items used in the meals and create a preloaded meal. So when you go to log a meal prep and it’s something you have had before you can just go to the meals section under diary and select the matching meal. Other tabs besides the meals section are frequent, my food, and recipes. Recipes will scan your food shopping recipes from the grocery store, making entries as simple as possible.

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Record

Now that you have a way to measure the calories coming in from food, the calories going out from the Flash but that’s mostly just calories burnt from motion in general without taking in account for which weight lifting activity the motion was for (excluding running, walking, biking, soccer and swimming). The missing link in the calorie counting madness is weightlifting. Record by Under Armour fills in the gap left by conventual fitness tracking apps. Log your workout by time and activity and get the best estimated feedback possible. Combine the calories burned with Record to the calories burnt with Misfit’s Flash and then subtract them from the MyFitnessPal calories to get a complete calorie count.

Record Yourself

Tracking activities and workouts is simple and the feedback is pretty accurate. Just set your high, weight and BMI/body fat information. Once you provide that the app can tell you how many calories you’re burning based off the activity you are doing. With two options for tracking, one being log entries and the other tracking a workout live. So if your phone is dead and you can’t do a live log, you can always just enter what you did and the amount of time spent doing it to get feedback on an activity you already did. Personally I like to see what the workout I have planned will burn by logging it, then deleting the log and tracking it, then compare results.  

How I Use The Misfit Flash

Utilizing the Misfit Flash for all that it’s capable of doing isn’t a short process but after you’re done setting it all up and linking all the third party vendors like Link, MFP and Record, it’s simple to keep up with. Personally I lost 80lbs of fat within a year using the Misfit Flash as my calorie counting guide. I had no clue what I was doing trying to lose weight, but luckily I made a random small investment in a tiny doodad called Flash. The Flash helped me to understand how many calories I burn a day without even working out, just dailymotion. That alone gave me a good idea on how many calories to allow myself for meals for each day. After I got the hang of the calorie basics, I started taking gym related activities into consideration and started counting the calories I burn working out. So now I know my daily calories burnt and the kinda calories I burn on top of that at the gym with the amount I consumed with my meals. With all that information I was able to plan for success. Prepping meals and workout routines to balance my calories and macros.

It’s also basically my wireless bluetooth button. Thanks to the Link app made by Misfit the maker of The Flash. it’s possible to give functionality to the fitness tracker. With options for things such as take photo or play/pause music, or log activity and control Bolt smart lights also a Misfit product. In addition to the preloaded options there is an endless variety of possibilities provided by IFTTT via their 200+ channels list. For example: I have a Misfit Flash custom Link profile that is set up for all IF related reactions. Like, press once (only provided options) double press (sends sms to my girlfriend “omw home” ) tripple press (log GPS into google drive folder, named cool places) and long press (only provided options) another few IFTTT events are sleep duration and goal achieved. For example, When I sleep longer than 8 hrs I have IFTTT turn on all my lights and E-Mail my boss that I might be running late. When my daily goal is achieved IFTTT reminds me to have a reward via a SMS from myself. It’s a super useful button. I find myself using it for something other than fitness tracking at least 3 times a day. almost always for recording a Snapchat video or taking a photo handsfree. To take a hands free selfie with Snapchat just set up the Flash in the Link app and choose the selfie button preloaded option. There will be two button functions, one for the single press and one for the long press. Single press will take a single photo in almost and photo taking app (I had problems with instagram). The long press starts to either take burst photos or records a video again depending on the app being used to take the video.

This $29.99 fitness tracker is my favorite piece of tech. It’s cheap, it’s simple, it’s got so much potential, the only limit is your imagination. If you’re looking for a fitness tracker or a bluetooth button this is the device for you. It’s the best for the buck and does more than expected of it. For $29.99 it’s worth giving a shot. If you don’t like it you can always regift it to the healthy and fit family member who’s in need of their very own tracker, but i’ma bet you’ll love it. Get yours Misfit Flash Here for just $19.99.

 

Kenn Bosak

Writer/Dev./Tech

Misfit Fitness Tracker

December 1, 2015

Google Cardboard: It’s just a box

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Google Cardboard: It’s just a box

 

Google Cardboard VR is a free open source D.I.Y. project Google started to inspire VR (virtual reality) development and to get it into the hands of the common user. It’s acentually free at worst low cost, by only requiring everyday household items or easily accessible parts from a local crafts store. To save time at the cost of only a few bucks more then building your own, you can order one from Unofficial Cardboard. Google provides a free stencil print out and parts list with a blueprint for assembly that starts with Biconvex Lenses, Neodymium Magnet, Ceramic Magnet, Velcro Strips, Rubber Band and an NFC Tag which is optional. The box itself is specced specifically to work with most devices and screen sizes, just make sure to use plans or purchase the headset that’s designed for your device’s size. Google also designed a special UI to simulate the VR experience, by utilizing all the high end tech your current device has inside it. Since your device is already equipped for VR argo it’s accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer, this seems like a no brainer, at least for Google.

Google wants to immerse you in an interactive virtual reality with nothing more than a piece of cardboard and your current device. Providing free virtual reality apps for 360° video, gaming and interactive educational apps on both Apple and Android platforms, but other than the Google provided Cardboard app some 3rd party apps may vary store to store depending on the developer. With the Google Cardboard app you get a portal to a virtual world that feels bigger than the tiny 5 inch screen it’s being displayed on. Described as a theater experience, with the feeling of looking at a huge screen at a pleasant distance it’s easily fun for everyone of all ages.

It’s just a box, but thanks to your current device’s super high end tech, it’s so much more than just Cardboard. It’s a virtual reality console with endless possibilities for entertainment & educational purposes, for those of all ages.

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Watching VR 360° videos is an indescribable experience that can only be understood by participation, spectators will get a good laugh. You don’t necessarily need a VR to watch a 360° video via mono screen, although the side by side VR style with head movement to control the view is incomparable. To watch a 360° movie or music video, simply open YouTube and search #360Video. You can select the viewing options on the player, in the bottom right corner via the goggles icon. There’s a variety to choose from, music videos like live concerts to horror movies and live action adventures that bring the POV into the stories.

 

Star Wars – 360° Virtual Reality

The Star Wars #360Video gives you a short POV of a Droid wheeling along on the Death Star marching floor. While wheeling through the corridors of the infamous destroyer of worlds, the Sith Lords right hand Darth himself makes an appearance. While on the mighty Death Star, you’ll get the unique perspective of a lonely single dorid on its mission to collect data and escape with its batteries intact.

 

360° Horror | “Eat You Alive” with Chris Riedell, Jason Horton and Lauren Reeder

When it comes to virtual reality horror the YouTube Space LA team is winning with its new video. Get that fly on the wall feeling in this zombie apocalyptic stand off between man and monster, which aren’t so different in this story. With headphone and an office chair that rotates for ease of view, you’ll feel as if you’re standing in the room frozen in fear. It’s a highly adult horror short that’ll get your heart pumping damn near outta your chest.

Gaming (Android)

Thanks to Google’s Cardboard project, virtual reality gaming that fully brings a player into its characters world is finally here. The way a game acts and reacting to movements and provides a believable experience. When you add a gaming controller and headphones into the mix you get one h.e.double hockey sticks of an experience that takes your breath away. The games currently available aren’t the best of quality in the sense of graphics and storyline. Think of this as a big beta test to see if there is a market for VR that’s worth the time and effort to develop higher quality more expensive games. In consequence the more users and downloads of VR apps will push the development community to make better games.

House of Terror VR

This is a creepy twist on escape the room that takes place in a virtual world, where you’re trapped in a house of terror with monsters and no way out in sight. Your goal is to survive each room, avoiding giant spiders and lurking evil, while looking for the way out. This app does require a bluetooth gaming controller for moving the character around the room, a VR headset like Google Cardboard and a pair of headphones to really be immersed into the experience. If you want to test your escaping skills as well as you courage, this game is perfect for you.

 

Galaxy VR Cardboard Space FPS

Galaxy VR is a space flight simulator that puts you in the cockpit of a starship fighter. You’ll get to experience a true VR FPS thats multiplayer. This game has it all from amazing graphics to reaction timing with seamless head tracking and it’s an online multiplayer, could you ask for more? You can even look down and see your full body avatar, the controller in your hands and the hands reacting to your button pressing IRL (in real life). With an option to play first person or 3rd person view, there are 3 different camera angles in game play to choose from. Unlock the full app by paying a small fee, for additional gameplay options and modes. Once you get used to the movements and past the motion sickness this app is definitely one of my favorite VR games. Join me in the fight, download the app now and get ready because there is no traditional main menu here. You  start the game in mid flight, sitting in a starfighter with a 3D holo HUD in your lap, and in a fight for your life against other live players from around the world. What are you waiting for? The future is here, go download it!

PS:

You can even play Flappy Bird from the Birds POV with Flappy For Cardboard VR.

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Apps (Cardboard Demo)

The free interactive educational opportunities provided by Google alone are worth the small investment in Cardboard. You can visit and learn about historical places and look around as if you were actually standing in the room. Get a tour of a famous foreign or domestic landmark with your own personal virtual tour guide. Visit the old neighborhood and walk the streets to slight see with Google Street View and be your own tour guide. Visit and learn with Google Cardboard, it’s time to go on an adventure.

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Tour Guide

Let’s go on an adventure, without leaving the comfort of our couch. Learning historical facts about places you’re practically standing in. Very interactive and immersive with the Tour Guide saying “to your right, over to the left you’ll see”, things like that really make you feel like you’re standing in a room with a person whose describing a room as if they were there with you. It makes learning feel fun, I almost forgot it was an based on teaching i found myself spacing out and wandering around looking at the whole surrounding area. This would be a good way to teach the kids about places all over the world and keep their attention while doing it. Only thing I would like to see added to this tour guide app is a LIVE #360Video for a more convincing feel of being there, or at least some sounds of the scenery. Overall, this is an amazing app for learning about our world and the special places some only dream to see like this.

Expeditions

“Expeditions lets teachers take students on field trips to anywhere. Coming to schools worldwide in time for back to school. If you’re an educator, learn more about bringing Expeditions to your school” Click Here to learn more.

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Weeeeeeee, boy Google Earth VR is fuuuuuuun! This is one of those (needs a controller) to really enjoy apps. Just strap in and strap…on? It’s going to be one hella ride. Flying from city to city from a bird’s eye view. Visiting old places, and future old places to be. Checking out New York City and taking a FPV flight around the Statue of Liberty as if you’re an American Eagle. Google Earth was always a blast, but this is a welcomed add-on to the mix. Using the gaming controller to move front, back, side to side and to control which direction you’re moving to and fro simply use your head and look to stear. Go take a look at what’s out there via Google Earth in a whole new virtual reality world, where you feel like a spirit moving with the wind high up in the sky. Go anywhere in the world and feel as if your flying right above your dream vacation spot or old fishing hole, this is a tool only limited by your imagination. Go explore the world, your world.

 

TILT BRUSH GALLERY

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View creations made with Tilt Brush, a painting application made for virtual reality. Load pre-made sketches and watch them draw in as they were originally created.” Click Here to learn more.

 

In A Nutshell:

Google really nailed VR. They got it gaining momentum in the development community, which is good for VR, because without developers there’s no content for users. Using a person’s current device with a simple cheap cardboard box setup, freaking genius! Now for comfort and user friendly ease of use i’d suggest a little modification to the simple setup Google lays out. For example; I use an elastic sweat band to hold the Cardboard device on my head so I can use the gaming controller. Also I added tiny cushions to the nose rest, since it starts to irritate the skin after a few minutes of uses. I’ve also added a few good layers of duct tape to the cardboard as a reinforcement to strengthen its dexterity. In conclusion I enjoy using wireless headphones to enhance the experience with the spatialized audio, which helps fully immerse me in the world i’m playing or exploring in. Once you have your own Cardboard setup, you’ll find your comfort zone and person interests, just give virtual reality a chance.

You can learn in a whole new format. Taking education to a whole new level by taking you from your seat to the venue. Interacting with the student and giving them a personalized experience in a way that was never possible before. Children will never learn the same thanks to Google, and that’s a beautiful evolution in education. Affordable high quality VR in the hands of the masses, that’s Google’s goal. Even Gaming in VR changes game play and how a player interacts with the game world. Looking right, leaning over, falling back, all have a reaction in the virtual world giving players more control than ever. Imagine being able to duck IRL and the enemy in VR misses his killshot. Picture shooting in one direction, steering the character in another all while looking in the other direction for cover without moving the flow of fire. I call this the triple Y axes advantage, that only VR games can provide. Even movies and music videos have to reevaluate their way of production to accommodate this new media and social outlet. Being in the center of the experience is what entertainment strives for, it’s that feeling you get when you tunnel vision into the screen and forget you’re in a theater full of other people experiencing the same sublime euphoria, that is the true goal. With VR and #360Video the future of media entertainment is here, and it’s beautiful.

 

How I Use Google Cardboard VR:(Android)

VR, as we know it right now, is in it’s early beta testing. Slowly but steadily picking up users along the way, as more and more developers create more and more apps. By contributing to the VR “cause” with purchases of apps and leaving good ratings and positive encouraging reviews, I hope to motivate developers to create more and I suggest you do the same.

I like to watch #360Videos, play VR games & take Tour Guides all around the world. With my Beats By Dre PowerBeats2 bluetooth headphones and my Amazon Fire TV gaming controller I can fully immerse myself in a movie and video game. Sitting in the comfort of my office chair I can spin 360 degrees with ease, which takes a lot of the work off the neck when turning 180. Watching movies in 360 with spatialized audio is how I like to enjoy short films. I wouldn’t enjoy long length feature films that are over 15 mins long. After about 15 mins I find myself needing a break from the virtual world, because of motion sickness. So I watch short horror films that bring me into the terror and give me that feeling of fear and excitement that only movie theaters once could deviever. There are some good action films that are good #360Videos but there is something about the horror genre and VR that compliment each other perfectly. Gaming in VR is a whole different ball game, and takes a lot of getting used to. Moving around spinning and flipping in a virtual world, even running in VR for long periods of time can have IRL effects. I only game for about 5 mins at a time, to keep myself from feeling vertigo and getting nauseous. I think this is a graphics and rendering meets head tracking and stitching issue, that money could solve. So again I encourage you to download VR apps, try them and leave some positive reviews and feedback. I prefer to VR with Android, since there are more developers and well Google does Cardboard. That and my bluetooth gaming controller won’t work with my Apple device, but there are VR apps for Apple devices. Personally I like the way my iPhone 6 plus’s bigger screen produces the VR effect in my Cardboard rig over my Samsung S6. So when I using an app like Tour Guide, which doesn’t require any interaction just pure observation, I tend to use my iPhone 6 Plus for the more clear and detailed viewing experience. I love introducing people to VR for the first time and watching their reactions to it. It brings me great joy to see someone smile ear to ear while experiencing something so new and foreign for the very first time.  

So, that’s how I like to do VR. I hope this was informative and motivated you to at very least give Google Cardboard or any form of new age VR a try.

 

Kenn Bosak

Writer/Dev./Tech

Google Cardboard VR

November 1, 2015

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