Climbing Virtual Reality, Uniform and Grip

Climbing Virtual Reality tuition is an interesting idea. Learning to climb is fun because it is a physical and intellectual challenge. The first step is to familiarise yourself with the sensations of climbing and learning to see where foot holds are and where hand holds are. When you begin the hand holds are easy to find and hold on to but as you progress and attempt more challenging routes you need to develop finger strength to hold on to those holds. Climbing Virtual Reality tuition is an interesting idea.

In some cases though finger strength is not the only challenge. You also need to learn to read the route and to know which hand to hold a hand hold with, which foot to use on a foot hold and how to reach the next hold. You can learn through trial and error which is fun or you can climb other routes and wait until someone who knows the route that has you flummoxed decides to climb that route.

Virtual reality Goggles are an alternative way of learning how to climb a route. In the example provided in the video above Grip by Uniform provides climbers with an alternative. In their example they speak about Shauna coxsey participating in the project and allowing people to film her as she is coached on how to climb a route. In other locations it could just as easily be the route setters.

It’s interesting to see such a project because the question we often hear people ask is “How did you climb that route” and the answer is often “I don’t remember”. With this technology it would be easy to provide people with guidance for the routes they find more challenging.

It is a new and immersive form of tuition which could help people progress and learn climbing skills more efficiently and within a shorter amount of time.

FIFAD Day 6 – Women and Extreme sports

On the 6th day of FIFAD two films stood out. One looked at a wheelchair bound woman who still had the urge to go climbing and the second film looked at a woman who went from riding snowboarding lines in winter to base jumping in summer. By having these two documentaries the FIFAD event promoted women who appreciate and enjoy extreme sports.

A few weeks ago I wrote about superhuman climbers, it explored how differently abled people were empowered through the efforts by climbing centres to allow wheelchair bound people, people with mental issues and others to climb despite the challenge. Rêver sous les étoiles was a documentary exploring this topic from another angle. Vanessa François moved to the mountains with the goal of becoming an Alpinist but was paralysed from the waist down after a block of ice damaged her spinal column. Thanks to the people she surrounded herself with she was able to continue climbing, cycling and doing other sports despite this disability.

In the film we see how friends set up a route on El Capitan for her to climb and how the CRS in France prepared the equipment for her to spend a night at over 4000 metres near the Aiguille du Midi. We see how a woman, surrounded by the right people could, despite her injuries, keep living adventures.

There is a moment in this film where we see that she is given the opportunity to act in a play where actors in wheel chairs and conventional actors could interact to provide people with a show. As I watched this documentary I thought about how technology could be adapted to be invisible in the performance. At the moment wheelchair bound actors need to rely on conventional systems to move the chair around. Imagine if engineers from EPFL and other tech universities designed a wheelchair control system that would allow wheelchair bound actors and performers to control the wheel chair with arm and head movements. Imagine if the movement of the chair did not rely on a joystick but rather a harness or sweater which controlled the chair’s movement. In future I expect that technology will become invisible, to provide these people with wheel chairs.

The documentary is great because it shows that injuries are an opportunity to adapt new techniques to conventional sports rather than to give up and live a life that is more limited. This empowering documentary should encourage people not to give up on their passions and to continue striving for more.

La face cachée de Géraldine Fasnacht

This documentary is about Géraldine Fasnacht, a snowboarder from Verbier who won snowboarding competitions in winter and then moved on to base jumping after friends invited her to jump. In this documentary she introduces a doctor to skydiving and explains the parallels between snowboarding and base jumping. She talks about some of the principals of base jumping and how technology has allowed the sport to improve and become more interesting. As with many extreme sports documentaries and films she speaks about the importance of safety norms to make sure that dangers are avoided.

In diving, mountaineering, base jumping and other sports there is a common philosophy to minimise risk. She speaks about the importance of knowing when to call a jump, to cancel it if there is doubt. This is an important aspect of many conversations in extreme sports films. Goals and ambitions are important but it is just as important to know when to say “Let’s try again next time”.

Sommets de vie

Sommets de Vie by Sebastien Montaz Rosset illustrates this effectively. The film maker, along with Jordi Tosas, who had been on 37 trips to the Himalayas arrived just two days before the earthquake. When the earthquake struck they abandoned their original projects to help with search and rescue efforts. They went in to more remote valleys to scout what areas were affected by landslides, where bodies could be found and to find whether people who had survived needed help. In this film they walk along footpaths. Occasionally they had to cross multiple places where landslides had occurred. When they found corpses or possessions they took pictures along with GPS coordinates in order to provide search and rescue teams with information to help with the repatriation of remains to help provide families with closure. This documentary is nice because it shows Westerners working along with Asians, UN organisations such as the World Food Program and others to help people cope with and adapt to the new situation.

At some moments we see that landslides are taking place as food and aid are provided. We see how although the Himalayas are beautiful they are also a dangerous place. I like that the film concludes by saying that Jordi still wants to set up a ski school, so that people in the relevant countries can enjoy the mountains differently. It is nice to see that people who travel to these areas give back and integrate with locals.


FIFAD Day 5 – A visit from Claude Nicollier and more

On the Fifth day of the FIFAD event Claude Nicollier came. He is the Swiss Astronaut who went on a number of STS missions to fix the Hubble Telescope between 1992 to 1999. He is an astrophysicist with connections to this part of Switzerland. The Sonneurs D’ormont rang cow bells as the group moved from one area to another. The conference centre where this event is taking place is now named after him.
Claude Nicollier speaking at FIFAD
Claude Nicollier speaking

Le Printemps Des Rennes

The film looks at the Saami people living in Norway who move their herds from winter to summer grazing grounds. These people and their way of life face threats from the modern way of life with children being tempted by other careers, their own people, some of whom want to fence in specific areas so that only their herds can graze their and from energy companies that want to move in and use certain areas for energy production and to exploit other resources.


Mira is a Nepalese woman who was part of the Maoist army and grew up facing manual tasks such as fetching water and more. Her young life resulted in her getting to a certain level of fitness that would help her eventually win trail running competitions. She travelled to Australia, Italy and Hong Kong to compete.

D’Homme et de Glace

D’Homme et de Glace made me think of the “making of” films by the Natural history unit that you see at the end of each episode. In this documentary we see the crew go to interesting locations by the sea side and in the mountains to illustrate climate change. The way in which it focuses on a specific individual reminded me of Cousteau documentaries. I still prefer what the BBC Natural History Unit produce. This project did not have as much time to work on getting beautiful shots so the comparison is less relevant.


Bartas is a slack lining film where a group of people flew to the Reunion island to practice the sport. They met the challenges of weather and went from location to location to find the best location from which to set up a slackline and successfully cross from one side to the other. They tried on the coast, above a waterfall and eventually they set up and set a world record above a valley with a slack line of 403 metres. The vista where they wet this record is nice. This record has since been beaten a number of times.

Plague inc, the game

Plague inc is a game that is available on multiple platforms. These are pc, android, ios and windows phone. The version I played was on android. If you want to watch someone play the game you can watch this series:

I was at the first general Staff Meeting for the UNAIDS program a few years ago and more recently I was at the World Health organisation during the SARS crisis helping with Virtual Press conferences. During these two weeks I learned about the language used when discussing epidemics and how to mitigate the threat they posed.

During and after the Ebola crisis I was able to go to two or three conferences discussing how best to prepare future responses as well as to discuss what systematic weaknesses there were and how best to address them to deal properly with a future epidemic.

Plague inc is a real time decision based game. There are four tabs.

Overview provides you with an overview of air and sea transportTransmission: you can decide whether it is spread by air, water, blood, animals or birds. Symptons: You can decide how it affects people, whether through coughing, fever or other forms of discomfort. Abilities: You can develop, cold, heat, drug and bacterial resistance.

The game is an opportunity for people who do not live a 20 minute drive from the World Health Organisation and other UN organisations to learn more about the terminology of diseases as well as the factors that can make it more or less virulent and how best to counteract the threat.

In the game you may spend two or three years spreading a disease but in the real world diseases can spread over decades or even centuries. Look at Polio for example. Within the last two weeks we saw this headline Only complacency can stop Nigeria – and Africa – from finally conquering polio. For context UNICEF has a fact sheet about Polio eradication milestones. The Virus was first described by Michael Underwood in 1789, it was theorised as contagious in 1840 and in 1907 Dr Ivar Wickman categorised the different strains. It was first hypothesised that Polio was caused by a virus by Karl Lendensteiner in 1908. You can read more details in your own free time but the first vaccinations in Europe started in 1955 in Denmark. It is in 1988 that the World Health Assembly, the World Health Organisation yearly conference, adopted a resolution to eradicate Poliomyelitis by the year 2000. This goal was not reached due to various factors but finally in 2016 it looks as though the disease is ever closer to being eradicated.

Polio type 2 virus destroyed as strain no longer in Kenya

The Global Certification Commission verified that the type 2 virus had been eradicated globally in September last year. This means Kenya is polio-free as the last case was reported in 2013.

Whilst games like Plague Inc. can introduce us to the terminology used in the game we can also benefit from reading about real world epidemics, pandemics, plagues and more. I remember watching a documentary a few months ago that showed that thanks to the Plague in the Middle Ages in Europe serfs benefited as they were less numerous. It meant that they could finally pressure land lords to provide them with better working conditions and more freedom. Games are interesting but with the complement of history we see that reality is even more interesting.

Paléo Trafic – enjoying the view from La Barillette.

Most people think of the concerts, the food, the alcohol and the social aspects of Paléo Festival. If you are one of the collaborateurs (sounds Cold Warish doesn’t it?) then Paléo is about sleep deprivation, roasting in a tent, sleeping under trees, eating with others and occasionally doing the task that you are collaborating on. I decided to look at Paléo Trafic this time.

I have spent at least ten hours standing at la Barillette over the last two days filming the Paléo Festival terrain. In that time I have looked at the landscape, photographed the landscape and talked with people up there. During this time the camera has captured the crowds of people walking from the train stop to Paléo, the cars driving from Nyon and tractors harvesting crops in the background. In effect I have captured life in summer.

I have been lucky over the last two days because the weather and visibility has been excellent. We can see really see everything at the moment. You can see the valleys on the French side, you can see the Cervin, the Dents du Midi, the Mont Blanc, Lausanne and more. If you spend as much time as me enjoying this landscape then you can see places you have been to in person from afar.

If you want to get to La Barillette and enjoy the views in person then follow this link

VR Shinecon Virtual Reality Glasses

The VR Shinecon Virtual Reality glasses provide a low cost opportunity for people to experience Virtual Reality content and immersive videos with their existing phone rather than investing hundreds in a new phone and VR headset. it can fit phones from 4 to 6 inches easily.

The front panel opens to accommodate a diversity of phones and sizes. You can open the front panel, place your phone and centre it, and then close it. Before you close the front panel make sure to launch the VR app or content that you want to experience. Jaunt VR is one app that is easy and intuitive to use.

Once the front panel is closed and you put on the VR headset you can adjust focus  to suit your eyesight. This control is on the right and left side of the goggles.The inter-ocular distance can be adjuste to suit the spacing between your eyes via the wheel at the top of the headset. The straps are velcro so adjusting the headset to your head size is also intuitive.

The phone compartment has two openings on either side. This opening allows for headphones to be plugged in to the VR headset as well as a USB cable to charge the phone if you are using this device for an extended period of time. With the Samsung Gear headset the USB port is taken up by the external controls. This means that although you can use your phone with the headset on you lose the ability to recharge the phone.

Good for demos

If you are demonstrating VR content to clients then you have two options. The first option is to have more mobile phones than VR headsets. This allows for one or two backup phones to charge whilst the others are being used to view VR content. The other option is to recharge the phone while people are enjoying the VR experience or even to try the VR experience with their own phone. Imagine the effect that this would have on potential VR enthusiasts. When they see that there is almost no barrier to entry it will encourage them to join in the experience.


The positive aspects of this headset are that it can accept most phones, you can adjust focus and interocular distance intuitively and strap adjustments are easy. It works well with youtube and the JauntVR app.

The negative aspects of this headset are that light leaks in so the immersive experience is diminished there is a slight learning curve as you learn to adjust the headset to your requirements. You can only control apps that allow you to look at something specific to start playing content.

I would recommend this headset for people getting in to VR who want to enjoy immersive content without spending too much money on features that they do not yet require.

Finding the Vibrant Swiss Pokemon Go community.

Pokemon Go has been available in Switzerland officially since yesterday but people have been playing the game for longer than this. Some have achieved level 20 and above. There is a vibrant Swiss Pokemon Go community in the French speaking part of Switzerland.

Pokemon Go Switzerland is one place where French speaking players can unite. One thousand nine hundred people have already liked the page so if you are looking for other players this is a good place to start.

There is the Pokemon Go Lausanne group. This group has 430+ members at the time of writing. Friday they had their first event and at least elevent people were present. Another event is coming up on the 24th of July 2016.

2850 people have liked the Pokemon Go Genève page.

Ingress players from Lausanne, Geneva and other french speaking towns have had a Google Hangout dedicated to Pokemon Go for several months. At this moment there are 83 members. 50 members of the Yellow Instinct faction are also highly active on Telegram. Hundreds of messages are exchanged.

These communities form online to facilitate meeting other players offline in the physical world. By playing the game there is a good chance that you will come across other players, as would frequently happen with Ingress. Having online communities allows people to plan events and meetings, shares hints and tips and more. Factions can plan a campaign, come to my village and lets capture it from this faction or that faction. Come to that train station or event and you will find these pokemons. The game is creating new social groups and the age range according to one thread I saw today is between 15 years old and 45. I am certain that all age groups are playing. That is the range people disclosed in that specific thread.

I expect the community to grow and for events to be organised on a regular basis. If you do play the game then there are hundreds of people to meet and play alongside in the Léman region of Switzerland.

In August I will be at FIFAD

In August of this year I will be at FIFAD as a volontaire. FIFAD stands for Festival International du Film Alpin Des Diablerets. It’s the international Alpine Film Festival of the Diablerets. I want to participate at this event for three main reasons.

The first of these is that I have a passion for the documentary film genre and adventure films. I really enjoyed going to Montagne en Scène a few weeks ago and I expect to enjoy having the freedom to watch certain of the films at this event.

The second reason I want to go as a helper is that every time I have applied to help at an event I have got something out of it. I have built my confidence. I have met interesting people and I have found new and interesting ideas. In this case I hope to view a number of the films.

The third reason is that I will have an opportunity to spend a week in the mountains once again. I have frequently been to Diablerets for hikes and just once to enjoy a via ferrata. This time I will get to stay for a few extra days and learn to appreciate the town differently. I will have my 360 camera and via ferrata gear with me. Time to ride a tyrolean in 360 right? I hope it won’t rain too heavily. People told me they got wet last time they went under the waterfall.

When I watch an interesting film or hear someone talk about an interesting topic I will try to take notes and write related blog posts. It’s good to share the knowledge and passion with you.

Thoughts on “How technology disrupted the truth”

How technology disrupted the truth is currently a popular topic. This statement is a fallacy because technology is not misleading people. People with political agendas are disrupting the truth. If you remember back to the Obama campaigns you will remember that bloggers were seen as part of the solution, not the problem. In the social age when everything shifts towards clicks and audience reach people lose focus on the value that the world wide web and user generated content can play. With the way in which social media have been hijacked by political groups, trolls, flamers and others it is hard to see social media as sustainable.

Religion, language and interpretation

Information has always been controlled by those who have the funds and the technology to distribute it. There was a time when writing and Latin were the barriers to entry. If you could read you could access information. The better your understanding of Latin and the more in control you were of the information that you could access. The Dark ages, as many of us have read about were a period in time when information contained in books and other manuscripts were read, duplicated and interpreted and that information was then used to provide an interpretation of what was permissible in science and politics. With the shift from Latin to English, French and other European languages the number of interpretations of certain texts could grow. Add to this the arrival of the printing press and the speed with which information could be spread increased. It also provided greater power to the masses as they could interpret moral rules and ethics themselves.

Industrial revolution

Although it is seldom discussed the Industrial revolution and literacy are closely connected. While parents and older children would be working the machines, mining the coal and labouring so their children would be in school learning to read and write. They would have a religious education and be taught values that would make them easier to control. At the same time by increasing literacy so did people’s ability of self-determination increase. Why would a worker accept what you say as truth when he can read an article proving or disproving the claim made by his employer. Literacy also gave people access to the written press and journalism.

Koenig and Bauer sold two of their first models to The Times in London in 1814, capable of 1,100 impressions per hour. The first edition so printed was on 28 November 1814. They went on to perfect the early model so that it could print on both sides of a sheet at once. This began the long process of makingnewspapers available to a mass audience (which in turn helped spread literacy), and from the 1820s changed the nature of book production, forcing a greater standardization in titles and other metadata. Their company Koenig & Bauer AG is still one of the world’s largest manufacturers of printing presses today. Source

The beauty of the written and printed word, of journalism and of the Printed press is that it provided thousands of people with the same information at the same time and people could check the veracity of what someone had read. Another important aspect of printed journalism was reputation. If you printed reliable and useful information then your readership would grow and your authority would grow. In such a landscape anytime a newspaper or journal would make a mistake or misrepresent information their reputation and circulation numbers would suffer.

By the early 19th century, many cities in Europe, as well as North and South America, published newspaper-type publications though not all of them developed in the same way; content was vastly shaped by regional and cultural preferences.[24] Advances in printing technology related to the Industrial Revolution enabled newspapers to become an even more widely circulated means of communication. In 1814, The Times (London) acquired a printing press capable of making 1,100 impressions per hour.[25] Source

Political bias

“Our news ecosystem has changed more dramatically in the past five years,” she wrote in March, “than perhaps at any time in the past 500.” The future of publishing is being put into the “hands of the few, who now control the destiny of the many”. News publishers have lost control over the distribution of their journalism, which for many readers is now “filtered through algorithms and platforms which are opaque and unpredictable” source

Berlusconi, Murdoch and others controlled or still control big portions of the news media landscape in Italy and England. This control has allowed them to shape how and what people think about a number of issues. In effect it allowed them to shape public opinion.

“According to a Loughborough University study, once newspaper circulation is taken into account, just 18 percent of media coverage was pro-Remain compared with 82 percent pro-Leave.”


If you were in favour of Europe in Great Britain during the EU referendum campaign you would have been hard pressed to find articles supporting the view that the European Union was a good thing. Even those that supported Remain had articles that were negative about the EU.

Although the author writes that In the digital age, it is easier than ever to publish false information, which is quickly shared and taken to be true – as we often see in emergency situations, when news is breaking in real time. I would argue that the main issue is media literacy. People take as truth what are nothing more than rumours. People believe that if they read just one source of information that it will be sufficient to get a good understanding of current affairs that this is the case.

As people have shifted towards Social media and web platforms so their browsing is done automatically rather than actively. News publishers have lost control over the distribution of their journalism, which for many readers is now “filtered through algorithms and platforms which are opaque and unpredictable”. Source I would argue that the situation is as bad for the audience as it is for publishers. Social media are meant to be social, conversational, between friends but media platforms have now tried to be about news, about entertainment, about friends and about events. By combining all of these things social networks such as Facebook have lost their value. That unpredictability as the writer phrases it translates in to unreliability when it is used as a communication tool between individuals. More time is spent sorting through the feed than finding interesting and relevant information.

I switched back to blogging because of this trend: The New York Times announced that its operating profits had fallen by 13%, to $51.5m – healthier than most of the rest of the publishing industry, but quite a drop. Facebook, meanwhile, revealed that its net income had tripled in the same period – to a quite staggering $1.51bn. When you think about it this is pathetic. If you have 1.6 billion facebook users and your revenue is 1.51bn USD then your customer is worthless. One dollar per user for an entire quarter. With that return on investment is facebook really to be envied?

“When reorganisation and cost-cutting in this core area jeopardise accustomed journalistic standards, it hits at the very heart of the political public sphere. Because, without the flow of information gained through extensive research, and without the stimulation of arguments based on an expertise that doesn’t come cheap, public communication loses its discursive vitality.

This is clearly evident in comment streams. People are happy to flame each other rather than to share points of view and attempt to understand the other point of view. Discourse has been replaced by quick comments rather than thoughtful responses.

I would argue on this point “But we must also grapple with the issues underpinning digital culture, and realise that the shift from print to digital media was never just about technology.” that digital culture has not been the big change but that the mass migration from analogue media to digital media by the mainstream, average person is the big change. I would argue that although studying was seen as a Mickey Mouse course by some it does show value in today’s media landscape. We see how those who are media illiterate are drown towards the appealing lies and unrealistic promises rather than the well thought out and well understood policies of professional and realistic people. Truth

Summer Nyon


Summer Nyon
Summer Nyon

This is an image of Nyon on a day when the thermometer indicated at least 31°c on a sunny Sunday afternoon. In this image you can see the CGN boat leaving Nyon and heading towards Geneva. You can see the Jet D’eau in the background. You can see a sailing boat in the distance, some kayakers nearby and two pedalos. What you don’t see in this image are the people playing volleyball, other people sitting at Nyon Plage or yet more people at the Nyon Swimming Pool.

From Nyon you can cycle along the lake road to Geneva or Lausanne and if you feel you have the stamina you could cycle from Nyon to Nyon by taking the long way around. This may take 10 hours depending on your level of fitness and endurance.

If this does not tempt you then you could go up to the Jura. You can either go up towards La Dôle and choose one of three routes to get to the doppler radar or you could go to St Cergue and walk from that side to the peak. The walk is short but physical so make sure to take appropriate shoes and something to drink.

If those options do not tempt you then you can catch the boat you see in the image above or the smaller boat that you see below. These boats are regular. People like to take the boat from Nyon to Yvoire, have lunch, dinner or an ice cream and then come back. If you have the right friends then you could do this trip on a sailing boat as we used to do frequently with one friend.

CGN boat
CGN boat

Nyon has quite a few activities to distract people in summer so if you’re in the region there are a few events and activities to choose from.