Random links

Companies with good ESG scores pollute as much as low-rated rivals
"ESG ratings have little to no relation to carbon intensity, even when considering only the environmental pillar of these ratings"
Manvir Singh on Twitter
"Advocates of Paleo-inspired carnivore diets (e.g., @PaulSaladinoMD @SBakerMD) often point to the Inuit as having a traditionally carnivorous diet. Yet there are at least five problems with using the Inuit as the quintessential ancestral carnivores". Eaten half-digested contents from the stomachs of animals is one of those kind of foods that doesn't sound very appetising.
The true trigger of shame: social devaluation is sufficient, wrongdoing is unnecessary
"Exclusion increased shame. Under-contribution did not. In fact, even the highest contributors tended to feel shame when excluded. These findings strongly suggest that the true trigger of shame is the prospect or actuality of being devalued by others."

Should you trust a report on science?

This honestly isn't a bad heuristic in a lot of highly politicized areas:

A sign that you might want to trust a source:

If they say, "We're not sure." Or, "The evidence suggests X. But the quality of that evidence isn't too strong, so better research is needed."

A sign that you should be wary of a source:

If they say, "The science is settled."

Solar growth vs. predictions

Every now and then I see an updated version of this and it always amuses me. Not sure if I've posted one of these here before though:

EDIT: Amusingly it seems you actually have to click through to see the image to properly view it. Otherwise the bottom just disappears.

Will Quest 3 be more successful?

I've currently got a Meta Quest 3 on order to replace my rather-heavily used ~Oculus~ Meta Quest 2, and been thinking more about the future of VR given the recent announcements. It seems likely to be a great piece of hardware, but I'm less sure on the software front and as far as Meta's focus and marketing strategies go.

The mostly-negatives

What business audience?

The first thing I found weird about Meta Connect was the type of application that sometimes got focused on. Office 365 got mentioned not once, but multiple times. Probably the last thing that I think I'd put on a VR headset for at the moment would be to write a document in Microsoft Word. There may eventually be a market for some sort of productivity tools focusing on collaboration, but at the moment I'm not sure that I see much of an advantage to using the existing tools in VR.

Nice hardware but really bad UI

Overall Meta seems to have focused quite a bit on hardware which I wouldn't call a bad thing1, but they seem to be surprisingly bad at building a user interface.

For example, there's New Quest Update Reimagines the Landing Page, Once Again Sequestering Your App Library. I have a couple of applications pinned to my launcher but other than that it's surprisingly hard to find applications you have installed to launch them. They started off badly, eventually allowed you to make the default view of your application library the set of installed applications rather than the entirety of those you own, but now appear to have removed this again. In order to launch a non-pinned application I current have to select app library, then either:

  1. Type in the name of the application (not as quick in VR as with a physical keyboard)


  1. Go to filters. Selected installed. Scroll past the list of useless crap that Meta has gradually been making mandatory installs and hope amidst the clutter that you don't overlook the application you're hoping to find.

Something as simple as making the default app library view the list of installed apps and allowing you to have them sorted by recency by default would already be a great improvement. Similarly allowing me to delete apps they've forced upon me would be great. (At the moment they don't even allowed you to delete demos from your library, even if you've purchased the title in question. e.g. I have the Beat Saber demo cluttering up my app library even though the full version of that was one of my very first app purchases for the headset).

Similarly, in the latest Quest firmware it seems there's no longer any visible way to resize application windows, though this seems like incredibly-basic functionality for a platform that (over-)targets the enterprise market.

I should note that the bad-UI is mostly criticism of the launcher and other Meta-controlled elements. Once you actually get an app to launch the user-interfaces of the applications themselves are usually fairly good.

The mostly-positives

Does Meta realize it's a gaming company? If so what kind?

I've mentioned that Meta seems to confusingly put a lot of emphasis on enterprise customers where I think that there's much more opportunity in the gaming sector. But this is something that Meta seems quite confused about, even as far as what types of games might work with VR.

In one of the more prominent announcements - itself a seeming reannouncement of what was already announced last year, now with a firmer December timeline is that Xbox Game Pass is coming to the headset. I actually think that there's some value here, but one of their most prominent announcements was regarding 2D gaming rather than something inherent to VR2.

The article I don’t think Meta knows it’s a game company had the following to say:

And while Meta is thrusting metaverse experiences onto users, it’s kind of ignoring that core gamer audience and not doing a whole lot to build it. Beat Saber, arguably VR’s killer app, is four years old, and no other VR game has really captured the zeitgeist in a similar fashion. People don’t see their friends play admittedly great games like Pistol Whip and run out and buy a Quest 2.

... Steam and Sony are both very aware that killer AAA game experiences are necessary for a VR platform. That’s why we’ve got excellent titles like Half-Life: Alyx and Horizon Call of the Mountain. They’re invested in the software as much as the hardware. Meta isn’t.

In the months since that article came out it feels like Sony's largely abandoned the PSVR2. Hopefully that doesn't happen with the Quest 3 gaming market, but only time will tell.

Custom content created by 3rd parties for rhythm games is generally enough to keep the platform feeling fresh to me though. Take a game like Synth Riders for Quest and you have roughly a hundred songs officially available, but several thousand available as custom content:

(Weirdly the Meta-owned Beat Saber is amongst the worst rhythm games on Quest as far as it's support for custom content goes.

Is standalone the way to go?

With traditional VR you would need to have a fairly powerful PC available to run your VR games, rather than only requiring a single device. It wasn't something you could do if someone else wanted to use the PC, as might be the case for a lot of families3. Overall I think that choice to go standalone has been a good one, as the market seems to agree:

The downside is that graphics are a little more limited, though as standalone hardware improves I think they're generally adequate.

That sentiment is one that I'd agree with. As long as the games are fun I think they'll do well, though thus far a lot of VR games have been quite short. Hopefully that's changing though as the power of standalone VR grows. e.g. I think that Asgard's Wrath 2 has been estimated at providing 40-60 hours of gameplay.

Only time will tell if more such titles come to the platform. For me at least I think the Quest 3 will be quite a bit of fun. (A slight change in Meta's focus and an tweaks to the UI I think could help substantially).

  1. I'd wish there were additional sensors to allow for more-full-body tracking, but there are accessories like SlimeVR that could be purchased and which it seems the chipset in use for the headset might allow to be supported efficiently if Meta exposes the correct APIs to developers. ↩︎

  2. Weirdly I have an active Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription valid for the next few years due to Xbox experimenting with some heavily discounted (and now-discontinued) friends and family plans - basically several years of access worked out cheaper than paying for a single game in that time frame so I joined a few friends in a plan. Total Xbox game pass use in the 3.5 months I've had it: about 10 or 15 minutes. ↩︎

  3. The ability to run Xbox Game Pass on a standalone devices also means that you could play even if others are using both any game console or any gaming PC in the house, so I think there's still value even if the games are only 2D. ↩︎


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