VR Experience

This seems to slowly becoming a gaming than a UC blog but it is really more of blog my thoughts and reference than anything else.

I went to EGX on Sunday which is the large gaming event in the UK but is nothing compared to E3 or Gamescom.  I had seen online last week you could prebook sessions at EGX for Playstation VR and HTC Vive/SteamVR and was lucky enough to get a timeslot for each.

My only experience with VR before Sunday was from last year’s EGX when I queued for about 2 hours at the Oculus stand and played Eve Valkyrie using the DK2 headset. At the time I thought it was awesome although I did get a bit of motion sickness in the beginning of the session.

On Sunday my first VR session was with Playstation VR which thankfully due to the prebooking I didn’t have to queue for and I just turned up at the PlayStation stand at the allocated time slot.  By chance, I got to play Eve Valkyrie again. It was much smoother than with the Oculus and there was no motion sickness this time and the head tracking was much better too.  The ergonomics of the Playstation VR headset are much better than the old Oculus DK2 and HTC vive headset, I would describe it as a bit like putting on a baseball cap with two hands and it was very straight forward. However as great of the PlayStation VR experience is, I do worry whether the PS4 it up to drive the FPS without dropping the quality.  They are double framing to take 60 fps to 120 fps which is why it felt smooth but it isn’t like every PS4 game is 60 fps anyway with just one screen or on per with high-end PC graphic now, which is why I think it is right to be concerned. Also although apparently there will be 12 VR games at the PlayStation VR launch, PC systems already have about 50 VR compatible in the steam store today, I think I’ve now 4 or 5 games in my steam library alone.  But the headset is really impressive, but it is sadly probably unlikely to support PC or SteamVR API as ergonomically it is really good and I think there will only be a small number a VR games for it in 2016.

Again with the HTC Vive session, I just turned up at the allocated time.  I was scheduled into a sitting VR experience which was playing Elite Dangerous, it was essentially the first 3 training lessons from the game.  No joke the PC powering the headset had the biggest case I’d ever seen, it was pretty noisy and god knows what was in it powering it all.   The flight stick/HOTAS I think was the Saitek X52 or pro. Personally speaking, it felt flimsily but it was better than using a controller for this type of game.  The HTC Vive headset was a little uncomfortable compared to the Playstation VR but the head tracking was really good as like I was playing Eve Valkylie you get quickly use to using your eye and head to look up and around and behind for the other ships rather than straight ahead at the main view.  I did find it a little difficult to read the text in the game, the pixelation was on pair with the PlayStation VR headset and both were much better than the Oculus DK2.   I will say I did have a bit of motion sickness at the beginning but it quickly past.  Having completed the 3 training mission at the end of the session they had be stand up and look around the cockpit of the ship which very impressive. The HTC guy said the Elite Dangerous experience was just a prototype for EGX.

I was a little disappointed with the VR experience of playing Elite Dangerous on the HTC vive but that was probably as I had a really good experience with PlayStation VR only about an hour before and although the game are similar in being space combat based they are very different games with Elite Dangerous being more slower paced to the very fast pace of Eve Valkyrie but Elite Dangerous has a lot more depth in term of game.

However…With that the said the guys and gals in the HTC Vive booth allowed me to try the standing up VR experience too.  I was a bit sceptical of VR standing up beforehand. The session was in a 5m x 5m darken room with two ceiling/wall sensors and a computer in the corner with the HTC person helping you.

I started off the VR experience in the white room a bit like when Neo starts his learning in the matrix, you can walk around this white room and the HTC personal helping you get you to experience walking to the virtual wall which then appears as a grid in the VR world (like the holodeck in Star Trek) this representation is so you know that your close to the physical wall which they then have you touch the wall in the real world.  Then they hand you the motion controllers and have you playing with helium balloons which you can knock around so you would in the real world as a kids.   It was very simple but the physic are perfect

The next experience was on a sunken pirate ship were you be knock the fish with motion controllers and you can look over the edge of the ship deck into the abyss and you watch amazed as a massive whale swims past.

The following experience was doing some painting/sculpting in 3D which was very impressive but not as great as the Oculus Medium demo using Oculus touch from Oculus Connect 2 last week.  What is can well imagine in the future is that it is completely possible to send your creation to a 3D printer.

The final VR experience there was the Valve portal game VR experience where you can get to interact with things in a room in the Portal universe in here I think I did lose touch with reality. I was complete blown away by the standing up VR experience, at no point did I have any motion sickness and everything was just second nature and you completely forget that it isn’t actually real.  It felt very weird when the headset was taking off at the end of the session as your mind was still in the VR world.

As I said the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR were very similar in term of pixelation and head tracking. Pixelation (being able to see individual pixels) is something live with for generation 1 of VR headsets until the move to 2K or 4K.The view of field of both isn’t perfect as in at the IMAX, I felt initially it was a bit like looking though a pair of Ski googles . The HTC Vive is still very much a dev headset and according to the guy in the HTC booth there is going to be an announcement in December about the consumer unit. I think with consumer unit the ergonomics of the Vive will be similar to the PlayStation VR and Oculus CV1 and also the motion controller will look completely different too.  I can imagine the dev headset it probably quite old tech now for HTC/Steam so I think there will be a massive leap forward with their consumer unit, which will be a worry for Oculus and PlayStation since the dev headset it really good already.

Overall I am very excite about VR, as much as I love the PlayStation VR and have a PS4, I just think PC is the way to go and I’ve largely switched over gaming from PS4 to PC in the last 12 months to an old Sandybridge 2500K based system now overclocked and have added a 980ti recently which is a massive step forward graphically from the PS4. Hopefully will be enough for VR, although I can see having to go to Intel Skylake next year.

At this stage very little in actually known about the final VR headsets which will hit the market early in 2016.  All the key VR players (Steam/PlayStation/Oculus) do at the moment seem to be very much watching each other and holding off announcing final specs and other things including preorders until they know what each other are doing whilst thinking they still have an ace in their hand in terms of yet released information whether it be features, games or price.  I think nothing will be said until at least late November by Oculus or HTC/Steam or even until following the PlayStation Experience in December although I can imagine PlayStation will hold off a full announcement if nothing has come out from the others since their unit will probably hit the market last.  But in reality everything is largely finalised for all three already and they will be into or at least starting manufacturing very soon, it just nothing is announced to consumers really.

I won’t say anything about Facebook buying Oculus but I do think it is a factor for the kickstarters who backed it in the beginning and also VR early adopters too and we have already seen what happened with Xbox One launch and how market sentiment affected sales.

It is going to be an interesting 6 months and it is difficult to comment on which one is better as it is not just about the headset tech spec or ergonomics, motion controllers or game support now but I do hope we don’t see console style exclusively come to the early years of VR. however with the standing up experience alone (and tech) I think SteamVR is the one to beat already, I just need to find somewhere to put it.

And this is just the beginning of VR….the possibilities are mind blowing.

REFERENCE

Introducing Oculus Medium
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IreEK-abHio

HTC VIVE Developer Edition Setup guide pamphlet http://media.steampowered.com/apps/steamvr/vr_setup.pdf

#Lync Question 44: What SQL collation should I use

I have been asked this question quite a few time now.

As much as I believe (according to a few SQL administrations) it is best practice to match the server collation with the database collation for performance reasons for Lync you really don’t want to this.

The server collation should be Latin1_General_CI_AS

If you interested all the Lync Server 2013 databases use Latin1_General_BIN collation, this is a case sensitivity collation and if you happen to match the collation then you will probably run into issues with mirroring the archiving and monitoring databases as they their database naming is mixed case.

Game Streaming for Dummies (UPDATED)

This is a bit off post for my blog, but as a massive gamer it has been interesting seeing all the announcements with regards to game steaming in the past couple months.

2015 is definitely the year for game steaming with Microsoft, NVIDIA and Steam making major product announcements.

For me game steaming was probably the single biggest reason for switching from being an Xbox 360 gamer to PS4 gamer and in fact probably 80% of PS4 gaming has been done very Remote Play and my PS4 isn’t actually connected to TV.

Game steaming isn’t necessarily new, there has been cloud based game services for some time with OnLive being one of the more well known ones however the OnLive service discontinued as of April 30, 2015 with Sony acquiring the their patents.

Cloud based

Here is what cloud based streaming looks like

CloudGameStreaming

Nintendo

The Nintendo’s Wii U has off-TV play [1] whereby some games can be played on the Wii U Gamepad.   Sadly although the experience is generally good the Gamepad screen is only 6.2 inch’s and is pretty big and heavy in comparison with today’s tablet standard.   Although latency is pretty good the range is limited as the connection is direct from the console to the gamepad and not over any home wireless network.

WiiUGameStreaming

Sony PlayStation

Sony have been playing with game steaming for some time.  Originally the PS3 supported Remote Play [2] with a very limited number of titles to the PSP and PS Vita handhelds. Through Sony’s acquisition of Gaikai [3] they have expanded remote play to be able to steam the majority of PS4 titles to the PS Vita as well as the Playstation TV (Vita TV in Japan) and also the later models of the Xperia smartphone and tablets.   What is pretty impressive is this all works across the Internet too as long as your have a faster enough and stable connection.

With PS4 system software update v2.00, the Share Play feature was introduced allows users to invite an online friend to join their play session via streaming.

As a final piece to the jigsaw the PlayStation Now cloud gaming service is now available in North America allowing for collection of PS3 games to be stream across the Internet to a number of Sony devices and giving a level of backward compatibility to the PS4 although this is a subscription based services and you can’t play any of your own PS3 games which you might own.

Remote Play is limited to 720p 60fps.

As of the PlayStation 4 System Software 3.50 game streaming to Windows (8.1 and 10) and Mac OS X (Yosemite and El Capitan) is supported [4]

PlaystationGameStreaming

PC (Steam and NVIDIA)

Game streaming on PC has been expanding over the last 12-18 months.  Game steaming is now split into two camps NVIDIA and Valve steam.

NVIDIA game steaming is very much limited to their shield products including their graphics adapters.  NVIDIA has also introduced cloud gaming service using GRID technology.  There is some unofficial 3rd party support to Android tablets using Limelight/Moonlight [5]

The Valve Steam support in-home steaming from a Windows PC based host with either an AMD (ATI) or NVIDIA graphic adapter to another Windows PC, Apple Mac, Linux machine and also to steam box or machine running SteamOS.   Later in 2015 and Steam link box will be released with steam box as Valve steam tries to make PC gaming more accessible and break into the living room as an alternative to console gaming.

There is not support for in-home steaming to Android or iOS devices however there is no reason why it won’t work to Windows tablets running the steam application.

Both NVIDIA stream and Valve steam in-home streaming operates at 1080p 60fps.

PCGameStreaming

Microsoft Xbox

Microsoft announced Xbox One streaming to Windows 10 PC’s [6] and it has recently been made available via both products preview programmes and was available at the launch of Windows 10 on the 29th of July 2015.

Oculus also announced the Oculus Rift will be compatible with the Xbox One steaming [7] of its VR handset in, although the PC hardware specification for the rift is quite at the higher end at the moment with a $300 GPU required and no laptop support.

The quality of the streaming with Xbox One to Windows 10 is much better than with Remote Play on PlayStation 4 with the ‘Very High’ setting supporting 1080p 60 fps however you pretty much need a wired connection (which I use) or 802.11ac wireless router and adapter [8]

I am sure Microsoft will further expand its game steaming support whether it be a cloud based service or support to Windows Mobile 10, Android and iOS devices as well as steaming over the Internet.

At the end of 2015, Linx Vision tablet [9] was announced and released which is an 8 inch tablet with a Xbox compatible controller dock to enable you to do Xbox streaming which is similar the Sony GCM10 game controller mount arrangement for the DS4 controller and Sony Xpedia Z3 compact tablet.

At E3 2016, Microsoft announced the new Xbox One S along with new Xbox Wireless controller with added Bluetooth support [10] which would make pairing and streaming with iOS and Android a lot easier in the future.  Although controller device support is still a challenge on iOS.   Also following E3 2016, the Xbox One SmartGlass App on Android and iOS has been rebranding to “Xbox” inline with the Windows 10 application.   Maybe Microsoft will release an official Xbox One controller mount in the future support attachment with phone or tablet, although there are some 3rd party one at the moment.

XboxGameStreaming

As with all in-home steaming, the device connectivity needs to be considered.  Wired connections are best and ideally if you need to use wireless the host PC or console machine should be wired with a 5 GHz 802.11n or 802.11ac wireless connection used for the client.

I think that covers to basics. Please do share the article let me know if I missed anything or any mistakes and I will update it as I am sure people will be interested if only for the diagrams I have knocked together.

RESOURCES:

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Off-TV_Play
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remote_Play
[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaikai
[4] https://remoteplay.dl.playstation.net/remoteplay/lang/gb/index.html
[5] https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.limelight&hl=en
[6] http://www.xbox.com/en-GB/windows-10
[7] http://news.xbox.com/2015/06/xbox-xbox-and-oculus-partner-to-change-the-face-of-virtual-reality
[8] http://news.xbox.com/2015/08/18/xbox-august-update-game-streaming/
[9] http://www.linxvision.co.uk/
[10] http://news.xbox.com/2016/06/13/introducing-newest-member-xbox-family-xbox-one-s/

UPDATES:

17/06/2016: PS4 System Software 3.50 and Xbox One updates (E3 2016)

#Lync Question 43: Can I protect federated users from taking screenshot of desktop share session content

Another common question in relation to federation, governance and control.

But yes you can protect federated users from taking screenshot of desktop share session content, however this area/capability is more Information Rights Management (IRM) in Office rather than Lync.

With IRM in Office 2013 you can authenication and authorise access to sensitive documents. For example a word document could be protected so it can only be opened by specific users. Also it can be protect from being printed, or shared, also the content can be protected from copy and paste and screenshots.

If a protected document is opened and then the screen or program is shared via Lync then it is just shown as blacked out at the other end.  This is due to Lync 2013 honouring the IRM protection.

However this behavior is only support on Windows 8 or later and not Windows 7 nor does it work with Lync 2010 and of course will need to deploy Information Rights Management (IRM).

REFERENCE:

Presenting your Screen with Lync 2013
http://blogs.technet.com/b/lync/archive/2012/11/02/presenting-your-screen-in-lync-2013.aspx

Plan Information Rights Management in Office 2013
https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc179103.aspx

#Lync Question 42: How do I run the SkypeUI when my administrator want me to run the LyncUI

I am sure this is going to annoy some Lync administrators, however I came into work this morning after running the Skype for Business client for the last few months to the following message

SkypeUIRestart

Thus following the restart, I was back the the Lync UI.  “How retro”

Disclaimer: Playing with the registry may result is serious injury or death for your PC so everything be careful out there!

First you will need local administrator rights to do this and also have a read of my previous post #Lync Question 38: How do I control the Lync and Skype UI with the Skype for Business client regarding the registry keys.

Here is the registry with the Skype UI disabled (you might see some other keys in here too)

SkypeUIRegKey

 

Lets delete it, or via command line it would be:

reg delete HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\Lync /v EnableSkypeUI /f

Next we add back the registry key with the Skype UI enable

reg add HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\Lync /v EnableSkypeUI /t REG_BINARY /d 00000001 /f

Next lets change the permissions, select the EnableSkypeUI key and on the Edit menu select Permissions

SkypeUIRegPermissions

In here we click on Advanced and then Disable Inheritance and then select Remove all inherited permissions from this object

And then OK, Yes (we are going to denied all users permissions) and finally OK

Then we can launch the client with the SkypeUI

How do I revert?

If you want to revert in the registry edit, select HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\Lync in the left pane and then in the Edit menu, Permissions and we will see there is no permissions

LyncRegNoPermissions

 

 

Next click on Advanced

LyncRegAdvancedPermissions

And then Enable inheritance followed by OK and OK

There we go…..enjoy the Skype UI again

#Lync Question 41: How I do configure a Polycom SIP Phone (VVX / SoundStructure) as a Lync Common Area Phone

There are already a number of good blog articles on how to get Polycom provision server up and running to provision lots Polycom SIP phones. I would recommend Jeff Schertz blog article [1].

However as I found, most focus on setting up a Polycom SIP phone using a standard Lync user (with a full AD account and password) and not a common area phone, which has just a AD contact object.   Although you could just use an AD user account instead in some environment it is just easier just not have to justify why these accounts have non-expiring passwords.

With the UCS 5.0.2 software it added support Lync PIN authentication and although with a Polycom VVX phone it is easy enough to manually logon the phone using the screen and keypad. As I found with a Polycom SoundStructure this isn’t so easy since there is no screen or keypad and especially since UCS 5.2.0 and later the phone’s (or VoIP Ccrd) web interface is disabled by default.

Although it  is easy enough to re-enable the web interface via some additional lines in the shared.cfg XML file on the provisioning server at which point you can log to VoIP card into Lync as a Common Area Phone (below).

PolycomVoipCard-LyncSignIn

However when you have a large number of Polycom SoundStructure devices to configured or support then this quickly becomes impractical.

After a bit reading and trial and error, here is the syntax for the [MACADDRESS]–Lync.CFG file to

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" standalone="yes"?>
<!--UCS Device Configuration file for Lync-->
<LYNC reg.1.auth.useLoginCredentials="1" reg.1.auth.loginCredentialType="extensionAndPIN" reg.1.address="room101@uctestlab.com" device.logincred.extension="1234" device.logincred.extension.set="1" device.logincred.pin="5551234" device.logincred.pin.set="1" />

Then you just need to reset the VVX/VoIP card for it just automatically logon.

References

[1] Provisioning Polycom SIP Phones
http://blog.schertz.name/2013/05/provisioning-polycom-sip-phones/

 

#Lync Question 40: What sounds have changed with the Skype for Business client

Disclaimer: The following blog post is subject to change as it is based on the pre-released version of the Skype for Business client.

A number of the sounds that us and our users have become accustom to over the last few years have changed with the Skype for Business client.

Under the either of the following folders you will find a bunch of .WAV files

  • C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15\Media (64-bit Windows)
  • C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15\Media (32-bit Windows)
  • C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office 15\root\Office15\Media (Click-to-Run)

Most of the major sounds have changed. Such as the ringer, alert and invite sounds.

Here is a list of which files have changed:

LYNC_abbrdialtone.wav
LYNC_ActivePresenterChange.wav

CHANGED

LYNC_appinvite.wav

CHANGED

LYNC_busy.wav
LYNC_callended.wav

CHANGED

LYNC_ChangeModality.wav

CHANGED

LYNC_connecting.wav

CHANGED

LYNC_dialtone.wav
LYNC_dtmf0.wav
LYNC_dtmf1.wav
LYNC_dtmf2.wav
LYNC_dtmf3.wav
LYNC_dtmf4.wav
LYNC_dtmf5.wav
LYNC_dtmf6.wav
LYNC_dtmf7.wav
LYNC_dtmf8.wav
LYNC_dtmf9.wav
LYNC_dtmfpound.wav
LYNC_dtmfstar.wav
LYNC_fastbusy.wav
LYNC_fsringing.wav

CHANGED

LYNC_howler.wav
LYNC_iminvite.wav

CHANGED

LYNC_joinedconference.wav

CHANGED

LYNC_muting.wav

CHANGED

LYNC_newim.wav CHANGED
LYNC_onhold.wav

CHANGED

LYNC_presence.wav

CHANGED

LYNC_redirect.wav

CHANGED

LYNC_ringback.wav

CHANGED

LYNC_ringing.wav

CHANGED

LYNC_ringtone2.wav
LYNC_ringtone3.wav
LYNC_ringtone4.wav
LYNC_ringtone5.wav
LYNC_ringtone6.wav
LYNC_ringtone7.wav
LYNC_secondcall.wav

CHANGED

LYNC_untag.wav

CHANGED

LYNC_videoadded.wav

CHANGED

LYNC_videocall.wav

CHANGED

NOTE: LYNC_connecting.wav currently doesn’t have any sound in the Skype for Business client

In case you need to sound file again here they are (rename them to .zip)

LYNC2013-SOUNDS

SfB-PREVIEW-SOUNDS

I guess I could try and write a script/procedure to restore the old sounds.