So one of the things I wanted to do on a more consistent basis this year was blogging but as you can see by my posting history that has not come to pass. But I think I found something that will kill two birds with one stone.
I picked up a copy of Dragon Naturally Speaking as a dictation tool to help me with my writing. The software seems pretty awesome and has a lot of functions but it also has a learning curve. So I thought I would blend my blogging with learning how to use this tool and see how it goes.
So far I am very impressed with the accuracy of the software after a small set up exercise where the software learned the tone and diction of my speaking voice. Right now not finding it much faster but then again I’m still trying to find the best way to blog and do that through dictation. If you start seeing a lot more blog posts than I guess you’ll really all know that this experiment has turned out to be a success.
So how about that Last Jedi? Without a doubt, this Star Wars directed and written by Rian Johnson has generated more conversation than any Star Wars more movie ever. I think it’s a really good movie I just don’t think it’s a very good Star Wars movie. By that, I mean Star Wars movies are designed to appeal to the mass audiences and so the plots are pretty straightforward. The Last Jedi most definitely does not have a straightforward plot. Rian Johnson has crafted a movie that that does its best to break out of the mould of the previous Star Wars movies and deliver something new. Depending on how deeply you associate yourself with the Star Wars movies, you’re going to find this one does not give you the typical Star Wars experience.
For myself, I found it a refreshing breath of fresh air but that doesn’t mean the movie is problem free. The whole casino planets sequence is a waste of time. Time that could be better spent on the Jedi characters in the movie. Specifically, Mark Hamill who does a great job as Luke Skywalker. In The Last Jedi, Mark Hamill gives his best performance as Luke Skywalker. Carrie Fisher also gives her best performance as Princess Leia. However, the story arcs these two characters follow in the movie do not adhere to the conventions of the Star Wars movie and this is why a significant portion of the fans are upset.
It’s interesting that before these new Star Wars movies came out there were probably two things that seem like slam dunks to deliver to Star Wars fans. First up, at least one scene between the original cast members. A scene between Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia should’ve been a given. Secondly, fans have been dreaming for 30 years of seeing a kick-ass action sequence with Luke Skywalker as a Jedi Master in full control of his powers. The Force Awakens to took care of the first fan wish and now The Last Jedi has taken care of the second one. Two big fan moments that would’ve wowed audiences and, specifically for The Last Jedi, a Luke action sequence probably would’ve quelled a lot of fan grumblings.
For a franchise whose premises based on a war amongst the stars, there’s only so many things that can be done with that. Rian Johnson tried to do something new. I thought it was successful but there’s a lot of fans that are not happy. And I can understand that because I too was jonesing for a full-on Jedi, Luke action sequence.
Okay, the last thing I want to blog about is Virtual Reality. VR, for short, has been promised for the last decade or so and the geek dream of a Star Trek type holodeck seemed to be destined to gather dust like everybody owning a flying car. However, in 2017 VR headsets were released and this time it looks like VR may finally become a reality. A variety of headsets for the PC have been created but you need a hefty machine to be able to run VR games. Plus the usual amount of tinkering and fidgeting with settings to get the games to run properly. Sony has released their own version of VR with the PSVR. It had definite shortcomings when compared to its PC counterparts but it also is pretty easy to set up and is about as close as you’re going to get to a plug-and-play solution for VR.
Sony also knows how to make and market games and so far the PSVR has in its first year sold over 2 million units. In one year it has overtaken its PC brothers and is really pushing the VR envelope. This despite having the most limited technical platform upon which to deliver their games. I picked up a bundle myself and I must say I’ve been blown away by the experience. There is a definite crudeness to the graphics compared to what you get with 1080 P or 4K gaming but the immersion of VR trumps all of that. You quickly forget all the graphical limitations and just experience the game. There is a VR mission in the Star Wars Battlefront game where you get the pilot a X-Wing and it’s just fantastic!
I’ve also sampled some of the other games such as Drive Club VR and Resident Evil 7, which will scare the crap out of you, and they are just a blast to play. On the practical side, you can also use your PSVR are with the PC, though that takes a lot of tinkering, and what’s really cool is that you can use Google Earth VR which just recently added a street view. So you can stand in Times Square, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, at the Grand Canyon, or anywhere on earth that you want to. This is a fantastic tool that will, I believe, help flush out story settings for writing. I’m really looking forward to testing it and we will see how that goes.
So this is my first blog post using dictation and I have to say it’s actually pretty cool. I definitely wrote this, or dictated it, quicker than if I had typed it out. So as a proof of concept, I’m encouraged.