Preparing Your VR Environment to Avoid Injury

You wouldn’t think it, but it is possible.

What is that?

Injury while enjoying your favorite Virtual Reality excursion. Seriously.

You could probably sit down and brainstorm a bunch of different possibilities that could happen, in just a few minutes. In fact, if you have spent any time participating in virtual reality, you have probably had some of these not-so-fun experiences while playing. It could be as simple as a few bumps and bruises, or even worse.

So, you really should consider what to avoid so that you don’t harm yourself (or others) and also consider what you can do to help make the physical side of things more endurable.

In virtual reality (VR), it is ok if you have some bumps and bruises in the virtual part, while shooting at your enemy in a war game, flipping an automobile in a car chase, doing your favorite stunt in the next Hollywood hit movie, but those are supposed to remain within the virtual reality environment and not really happen in real life.

The problem is that people often get so involved in what they are playing that they forget that it is a computer-generated environment and actually do physical harm themselves. One common way of doing this is to forget that they might be standing while playing their favorite VR game. If that is the case and they are physically moving around, they could fall over, they could run into walls, they could trip over items in the room or any myriad of possibilities (including bopping Granny in the face as she walks into the room with your sandwich).

Steps to Secure Your Safety

So, the first rule of thumb would be for you to sit down while playing VR. You can still participate in all of the virtual activities of standing, running, jumping, flipping, tumbling, or whatever you want to do in your virtual reality. Just make sure you are sitting down in the real world, ok?

Another suggestion, while you are sitting down, is to get a wheelie chair. It is the type that you would use in an office. Ensure that the floor is smooth, or use a rubber mat. Again, like you would use in an office so that your chair easily moves.

Unless you really need the ability to lean forward, get a high-back chair. In that way, you can get comfortable for your entertainment. You may be spending quite a few hours playing VR. You don’t want back aches from too much time without back support. Besides, you could always lean forward in your high-back chair or have another stool in the room (not too near to where you are playing) ready for when you need it.

Don’t forget to ensure that your room is devoid of excess objects or furniture. Be sure to do a quick sweep (or vacuum) of the room prior to your VR games. Do this especially prior to any marathon virtual reality event. If you have regular flooring, it is probably time for a Swiffer moment (affiliate). This will ensure you have picked up any fluff and gathered up any gravel. That helps to get rid of anything that is not-so-fun to land on during your games.

Rhythm SoundBox to Fix the Audio in VR

Just like the visual is very important in virtual reality, so is the sound. You want to feel the sound, not just hear it.

Think about listening to your favorite song on a “tinny” replication of a sound box (think radios of the 1950s, if you can). Now, compare that to walking into a movie theater and not only hearing the sound of the movie but feeling the rhythm as it permeates through your body. That is a sound experience!

You can get a similar sound experience with good speakers (assuming you do not annoy your neighbors too much). But, why not get that experience with a good headset? Why not feel your way through the virtual experience? It is already a virtual reality experience, right?

Have you ever watched a TV show or a movie and you notice that the soundtrack is “off?” You see the lips moving before or after you hear the person speak. If it is a streaming movie from Netflix or Hulu, you can restart the box and the TV and hope that the two (visual and audio) sync up properly. Usually, it ends up being in the file and it isn’t quite right. It can be frustrating.

Now, imagine that experience in virtual reality. Talk about annoying to the Nth degree! Not only does this adversely affect your virtual reality experience, but it may affect HOW you play your games and take action within the VR experience. If you are dependent on the exact moment of sound in order to take the next action, you will not be able to perform well and this may affect scoring or at least enjoyment. You certainly don’t want your cohorts to get an edge on you, do you?

An Example Sound Solution

Fortunately, there is what is called a SoundBox (affiliate), especially from the Okra vendor. As Okra brags, their device helps to line up that sound with your eyes, so that you have a perfectly aligned virtual reality experience.

No longer are we talking about sound engineering at the basic 101 level. No longer are we wondering whether someone was able to line up the audio track with the movie track. Now we are talking about an experience that is so in sync that it is as if it was born that way. After all, YOU were born that way, with your ocular capabilities. You also have your aural capabilities in sync with each other and well-integrated, allowing you to experience life in the full 360-degree experience that you are supposed to experience.

So, why not expect that with virtual reality? If it is virtual, it is only virtual to the extent that you can bring that reality to the forefront. You are looking for your entertainment pleasure. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice that rhythm of life that is the sound that permeates your being. At least, not while you are seeing and physically experiencing this alternative reality. So, go enjoy the SoundBox that you were meant to enjoy!

Virtual Reality Eye Masks

What do you think of when you think of an eye mask? Does the Halloween holiday come to mind? What about pirates and pirate ships? Maybe a medical condition comes to mind. Actually, any of these could be true, in the loosest sense of the word (especially the pirate ship) in a virtual reality (VR) game or experience. However, that is not what we are referencing in this particular discussion on eye masks (affiliate) in virtual reality.

This might be a boring topic, but it is a very important topic. That is because it is about hygiene and your health.

Eye Masks for Health

Hey, maybe you have the healthiest body in the world. In fact, the healthiest body that has ever existed in the world. That is great! Pat yourself on the back for that one! But, there may come a time, especially if you are so healthy that you are still participating in virtual reality when you are 90 years old, sitting next to the sexy nurse who is meant to handle your meds in the local senior citizens’ home… There may come a time when health is higher on the list of benefits in your life.

In that case, you may wish that you had taken more time to pay attention to the little things, especially those buggers called germs.

Steps to Be Taken

Fortunately, in virtual reality, it is not that difficult to take a couple of extra steps to ensure that you stay healthy. It also won’t break the bank. So, set aside a few seconds and a few pennies and you will thank yourself later.

When it comes to virtual reality, eye masks are sort of like having rubber gloves. No, we are not talking about some cop show and avoid leaving fingerprints. Instead, we are talking about stopping from passing (or receiving) germs.

Eye mask sizing is different from, say, gloves. Gloves may come in different sizes (really tiny to very large). In contrast, eye masks are generally a one size fits all. But, even if you happen to have a larger head than most, you can find a way to obtain an eye mask that works for you and fits comfortably on your head (especially considering the benefits that the hygiene will provide).

You will not win any beauty contests with the eye masks, but you will be prettier longer because of your awesome good health!

Why Health?

The idea with the eye mask is that you put it on your face, around your eyes, in order to protect that part of your skin/face. Then, you use your VR gear over the top of the eye mask.

The eyes are known to be a source of germs excreting from the body. They are also a direct inward spot into your body. Without getting too disgusting about it, the eyes are one of the most vulnerable places on the body. This is especially true when it comes to germs. There are, of course, other vulnerable places, as well, but in the case of virtual reality, the eyes are likely to be the top of the list for discussion, as well as the most accessible.

Not all eye masks are the same, so be sure to read the reviews and get the highest quality necessary to protect yourself. You will be glad you did!

Virtual Reality Possibilities for the iPhone User

Apple and its iPhone iOS have had a bit of a slow start in the virtual reality (VR) world. It has not been one of the most popular platforms, having been outdone by HTC Vive or Oculus Rift. Samsung’s Gear VR has worked well for the Samsung phones, but that still does not help the iPhone with its popularity.

Fortunately, with the virtual reality apps that are available via the App Store on the iPhone, as well as opportunities with panoramic videos and 3D style opportunities, there are some possibilities for the Mac users and their iPhones. This is especially true with Google’s Cardboard viewer and the ability to insert the iPhone into the makeshift viewer, whether it is something that was purchased at the low rate of four dollars or it was the product of a do-it-yourself activity with the family.

Of course, the iPhone can also be inserted into most VR viewers on the market.

Will Apple catch up with some of the other VR platforms out there? Will the graphics speed up enough to satisfy the VR players and encourage them to use the Mac OS?

Keep in mind that it is not only the Apple users who love their iPhones. There are many people out there who are not Apple users but still love their iPhones.

How Do You Satisfy Mac Users?

Mac users tend to be very loyal with their selection of their software. They are not eager to discard the Mac OS. At the same time, Mac users do not have a problem keeping their Mac desktop (or laptop) and switching over to a Windows emulator (like Parallels) in order to use Windows software.

If a Mac user is going to go to that length, why not pick up an Android or Samsung at an affordable rate. This is especially helpful with used devices on sale. Also, opportunities like eBay exist. It is not like the VR player has to be married to the smartphone of choice as they can still continue to use their Mac desktop or iPhone smartphone for what they were intended to be used and use the purchased Android or Samsung for the virtual reality play.

It is not like the VR player has to be married to the smartphone of choice as they can still continue to use their Mac desktop or iPhone smartphone for what they were intended to be used and use the purchased Android or Samsung for the virtual reality play.

Benefits of the Used Equipment and Cardboard Viewer Approach

So, now you have a used smartphone and something like the Google Cardboard viewer. This is a wise approach.

By taking this approach, the VR participant does not have to worry about scratches as much. They also don’t have to worry about dents or any other disturbing results to their smartphone. After all, the Google Cardboard does not appear to be the strongest gear equipment or device out there, so damage is likely inevitable. It is easy to understand how a smartphone may slip out of its hold. This could especially be true if the VR players become exuberant in their virtual reality play. From there, one could accidentally knock into one another as they participate in their virtual reality activity in the most meaningful way possible.

Why limit the level of fun? By using a lower dollar device, that comes with a myriad of VR opportunities, and adding a Cardboard viewer, the player may be able to have more fun.

Other Viewer Possibilities

There are other viewers on the market and some are reminiscent of the 1960s Mattel Viewmaster. It is easy to see how the virtual reality viewers appear to be cousins of the same technology. It is also easy to see how the science fiction technology starts to inspire additional technology.

The viewers may not have become communicators yet, like Star Trek. If that were the case, we could have the transporting of an individual from the space station to the spaceship. However, understanding that a smartphone is a communication tool and it fits within the Google Cardboard helps. It may even help to allow the individual VR players to feel as if they are on the spaceship.

From there, it is easy to see that the makings for the comm button. That, and the transporter are just around the corner… at least virtually speaking.

How to Make Your Own Bandcamp Download Cards

Hey, all.

Here is an idea that many of you musicians have probably already thought of yourselves, but if not, it is a helpful tip to make your own Bandcamp Download Cards. 🙂

If you have a Bandcamp account, you can offer discounts on your music. So, maybe you want to offer a holiday discount or a CD launch discount. Oh, Bandcamp isn’t the only way, but it is fun 🙂

Step 1: Login or Register at Bandcamp

First, you would need to login to your Bandcamp account. Or, if you don’t have one, it is an opportunity to sign up for one. At the time that I (Deborah E) signed up for the account, it was free. I can’t guarantee that that is always the case, as times change rather rapidly in these internet times, don’t they? But, check it out and consider whether you want a Bandcamp account. 😉

Bandcamp Login

Step 2: Setup Your Bandcamp Profile / Page

If you already have a Bandcamp profile, now is the opportunity to beef it up a bit. If you just registered, it is pretty much essential that you build some sort of profile or home on the Bandcamp site. This is the time to do that.

Ensure that in the process, you upload a high-quality headshot, as well as any other high-quality images you can add. Create (or have one designed) a professional header. This is something that you can reuse on other profiles, or modify to work for other profiles. Also, upload your high-quality digital music and post your bio. These are tips for starters, but if you have been there and done that, you probably already get the idea.


Create Your Special “Download Code”

One of the real beauties of a Bandcamp account is not just the eCommerce, but the ability to create download codes. That is the real secret behind the download cards!

Here are the two steps. It is that easy. The steps are described here, followed by the screenshots.

  1. Under “settings” click on “tools.”
  2. Scroll down a small distance and look for the codes section (as shown in the below image). Read the fine print and follow the instructions to create the codes. Then, from there, grab the link that they give you so that you can provide that to your fans, as well as the code that you chose. You are all set!


    Step 4: Design/Create Your Download Card

    Now, to create the download card. You may want to create a short URL to use for the long link for the download code. By doing that, your link will fit better on your download card. You could also put your home page from your main musician page and give a link there, to redeem the codes. But, if you want to keep it a bit secret, or special, you may want to do the short link thing for the download card.

    For example, I use for my short link for my Deborah E links. So, I may create something from that link and it will fit nicely on my download card. You can do a Google search to find places, like bitly, where you can create your own short link (or shortlink).

    Then, there are a myriad of places where you can create the card. You could print it out on a color printer and laminate it. You can do it manually and cover it with contact paper (anyone remember doing that as kids?). If you plan to do this frequently, and with quite a few cards, probably purchasing a lamination machine would be your best bet, along with a nice paper cutter of some sort.

    Be sure to create a digital version, using your favorite image program, and make it available for people to download the doanload card from from the internet. Maybe you want to offer the card as a treat for those who purchase another one of your albums. On Bandcamp, you can create a smaller album or EP and offer it as a free “gift with purchase” for those who purchase the LP.

    With a digital download card, you may not even have to create a printable version. You could just go with the digital. Isn’t that where we are headed as a culture anyway?

    In Closing

    There you have it, your own download card for your music, as well as a couple of promotion ideas to get you going 🙂

…the wings of imagination…