Running Linux on HP Spectre x360

Computer reviews aren’t my thing, but for this one I had to make an exception. My 3.5 year old laptop, the HP Spectre x360 I had scored as swag at the 2015 Microsoft Build conference, suddenly died a few months ago. I had taken a liking to that thing, so when I had to leave for a conference in early November, and realized I should probably bring a laptop with me, I decided to replace it with the current version of the same model. Fortunately they had one in stock at my neighborhood Best Buy (alas, only the silver one and not the pretty black and gold one), so I was able to pick it right up.

I then had the bad idea to search online for Linux support on the x360 after already having bought it, and was dismayed by what I found. A lot of people reported poor performance, too-hot-to-handle operating temperatures, and very poor battery life. Not having much of a choice at that point, I decided to go ahead anyways and install Fedora 28 on it, the then-current release of my go-to Linux distribution. Long story short: installation was a breeze, everything worked out-of-the-box, performance is great, the laptop runs barely warm, and battery life is awesome (so awesome, in fact, that I initially thought the readings were wrong). In order to provide a counter-narrative to those other reports, this is my experience of installing and running Linux on a 2018 HP Spectre x360. Continue reading

I think this is what statisticians call an “outlier”


My web server was close to having a nervous breakdown today, but it held up! Behold:

Figure 1: Total page views on over the last 30 days.

I’m expecting tomorrow will be back to normal. BTW, my previous “Best ever” was around 4,500 views on the day I published my first impressions from the Oculus Rift dev kit, a little more than one year ago.

New Adventures in Blogging


Today I learned what happens when an article gets reblogged (is that a word now?) that does not have a picture in it, and apparently an embedded YouTube video does not count as a picture: the blogging software scoops up whatever the first picture below the article headline is, and if that picture happens to be a commenter’s mugshot, so be it. Proof: see Figure 1.

Figure 1: How an article without a picture in the article is represented when reblogged by an artificial “intelligence.”

Note to self: always add a picture. Now I’m curious to see what will happen if this article gets reblogged. After all, it has a picture in it…

A Positive Outcome of the Facebook Oculus Acquisition


Here’s a silver lining: Since Facebook has taken over Oculus, this blog, or more precisely, my early review of the Oculus Rift dev kit, is no longer Google’s number one result for “Oculus Rift garbage.” I’ve always felt very bad for that (Google took my review completely out of context!). It’s now number four three two.

Alas, I’m still number one for “Oculus Rift rubbish.” Hey Oculus, could you please announce that you’ll delay shipping of DK2 to Q1 2015? Help a guy out, will you?


Happy birthday,!

It’s exactly one year ago that I posted my first article for this here blog. I think that is cause for some reflection and maybe some celebration. Has it been worth the effort? Am I on the way to achieving what I set out to do?

According to my “About This Blog” page, my concrete goals were to

…talk about insights gained or problems encountered while writing software, comment on things others have said, discuss my own opinions on how to do things the “right way” or the “wrong way,” post updates on software development, comment on new VR hardware as I get my hands on it, etc.

Continue reading

Stereo Sue

I was just reminded of an article in The New Yorker that I read a long time ago, in June 2006. The article, written by eminent neurologist Oliver Sacks, describes the experience of an adult woman, Susan R. Barry, a professor of neurobiology herself, who had been stereoblind her entire life, and suddenly regained stereoscopic vision after intensive visual training at the age of 48. While the full original article, titled “Stereo Sue,” is behind the New Yorker’s pay wall, I just found an awesome YouTube video of a joint interview with Drs. Barry and Sacks:

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An off-topic post

I promised I would keep off-topic posts to a minimum, but I have to make an exception for this. I just found out that Roger Ebert died today, at age 70, after a long battle with cancer. This is very sad, and a great loss. There are three primary reasons why I have always stayed aware of Mr. Ebert’s output: I love movies, video games, and 3D, and he had strong opinions on all three of those areas.

When hearing about a movie, my first step is always the Internet Movie Database, and the second step is a click-through to Mr. Ebert’s review. While I didn’t always agree with his opinions, his reviews were always very useful in forming an opinion; and anyway, after having listened to his full-length commentary track on Dark City — something that everybody with even a remote interest in movies or science fiction should check out — he could do no wrong in my book.

I do not want to weigh in on the “video games as art” discussion, because that’s neither here nor there.

However, I do want to address Mr. Ebert’s opinions on stereoscopic movies (I’m not going to say 3D movies!), because that’s close to my heart (and this blog… hey, we’re on topic again!). In a nutshell, he did not like them. At all. And the thing is, I don’t really think they work either. Where I strongly disagreed with him is the reason why they don’t work. For Mr. Ebert, 3D itself was a fundamentally flawed idea in principle. For me, the current implementation of stereoscopy as seen in most movies is deeply flawed (am I going to see “Jurassic Park 3D?” Hell no!). What I’m saying is, 3D can be great; it’s just not done right in most stereoscopic movies, and maybe properly applying it will require a change in the entire idea of what a movie is. I always felt that the end goal of 3D movies should not be to watch the proceedings on a stereoscopic screen from far away, but to be in the middle the action, as in viewing a theater performance by being on stage amidst the actors.

I had always hoped that Mr. Ebert would at some point see how 3D is supposed to be, and then nudge movie makers towards that ideal. Alas, it was not to be.