Meta is augmented reality

There’s a lot of criticism and mockery of Facebook’s rebranding to Meta. The timing, coming so soon after revelations that Facebook was profiting off of disinformation and outrage, is certainly suspect. However, there is a key idea here that is lost in the meta-discussion about Facebook itself – the idea of augmented reality, or AR for short, which if is to be brought to reality, deserves genuine admiration.

I have previously written about how I thought Google Glass was the first real effort at AR, despite many skeptics and its eventual failure. The problem with Google Glass was that it was positioned as an interface to search and take photos, i.e., content acquisition rather than an augmentation of reality:

Note that Google describes Glass as having a primarily voice-directed interface, for initiating search queries, taking a picture, or real-time language transcription. The main function of Google Glass is to record video and take pictures (not content creation, but content acquisition), to facilitate access to information, and most importantly to overlay data onto the visual field, such as maps or translations. It’s the latter that is the “augmentation” of reality part, and is very, very crude.

This was eight years ago, well before smart assistants like Alexa and Google Home were mature, and of course, suffering from Moore’s Law limitations. Natural Language Processing has come a long way since then, with graph processing tools and other incredible advancements in neural networks.

Facebook’s Meta has the advantage of building on that foundation and learning from those pioneering failures. The mistake that I think Meta is making now is that it is distracted by visions of the Metaverse from Snowcrash or The Oasis from Ready Player One (the latter probably being more accurate, as an ultimate escapist repository for all our nostalgia and cultural baggage). You can see those influences in how Mark Zuckerberg himself describes it:

The next platform will be even more immersive — an embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it. We call this the metaverse, and it will touch every product we build.

The defining quality of the metaverse will be a feeling of presence — like you are right there with another person or in another place. Feeling truly present with another person is the ultimate dream of social technology. That is why we are focused on building this.

Immersive. You’re IN the experience. In ANOTHER place. This language describes an alternate reality, a virtual reality. It does not describe a meta-reality or an augmented reality.

To be fair, in the same letter, Zuckerberg does allude to augmented reality to stay present in the real world while you interact with the virtual. But the framework here is an Otherworld where you can decide on a use-case basis to what degree you are present. Think of it as an opacity, with 0% being fully in the real world and 100% being fully immersed (using, say Oculus).

The difference between this and truly augmented reality is that there is no “other” world. You are always in the present reality – but there are added layers. I’ve evangelized the truly groundbreaking anime, Dennou Coil, as a visionary example of a truly AR future. One screenshot alone is sufficient to convey what the true potential is.

Screenshot from Dennou Coil

I don’t know if Facebook/Meta will ever be able to be AR, but I do know that succeed or fail, Facebook/Meta will definitely bring us closer.

Check out my earlier posts on Dennou Coil here.

Month 49: biking #50to50

This post is several months late. I am basically catching up to my 50to50 list all at once, but for aesthetic reasons prefer to break them out into separate posts and backdate them 🙂 So, for the record, month 49 should have been posted on January 14th, 2020 but was actually posted on March 25.

These are my 2019 biking statistics from Strava:

  • 508.9 miles
  • 48 hours, 39 minutes
  • 21,975 feet
  • 28 rides

This was the result of intermittent effort, with me still really exploring and being tentative about how far I could go. The above does include some mountain biking, but mostly road. My wife bought me a brand new mountain bike (a 2019 Trek Roscoe) for our anniversary in 2018, and I am still making do with my old 2011 Trek 7.3 hybrid for road rides. I’ve upgraded to clips, a better helmet, safety gear like a helmet mirror and electric lights, and learned how to change a tire.

This year, i am determined to break the 1000 mile mark. Assuming I miss a month for Ramadan and another month for Ashara and other various events or reasons, and rounding down a bit to allow for laziness here and there, i’m assuming I have 40 weekends available. Therefore I resolve to ride at least 25 miles a week to hit my goal. Unlike last month’s resolution, this one has data – via a Garmin Instinct watch connected to my Strava account. So I can monitor my progress – and so can anyone else 🙂 Follow me on Strava and keep me honest! (and give me the occasional kudos, too. It helps!)

Month 50: caffeine #50to50

I drink too much caffeine. In college, I was notorious for drinking multiple cans of coke a day. In grad school, I made the switch to Diet and lost 10 pounds in a month. That was my peak Chipotle phase, too, clocking in around 175.

In the past few years, since moving to California, I’ve drastically reduced my caffeine intake from Coke (having made the switch to Coke Zero, which my crude palette likes as much if not better than original Coke, and miles better than Diet). I basically order it when we eat out, which is a few times a month, and on weekends once in a while. I estimate that I currently drink 5-10 cans a month.

However, I inhale coffee. I have at least two (large) cups in the morning (one on waking up either at home or at Starbucks, another on reaching work) and another in the afternoon (usually to stave off hunger from intermittent fasting). I also will make a cup in the evening if I need to stay up, and on weekends I typically have a few cups too. I estimate that I drink about 75 cups of coffee a month.

I can’t give up on coffee. I’m not really an aficionado of the taste – I can tell great coffee from terrible, but good vs bad coffee is not always clear. Low standards indeed, because for me it is purely functional. I did go nuts over Pumpkin Spice for a while but I’m well and truly over that now. My go-to drink at Starbucks is a flat white with sugar free hazelnut and vanilla, just enough flavor to keep me interested but not attentive. The bottom line is, I don’t get enough sleep, so I drink coffee.

However, caffeine after 2:00 pm has long been shown to interfere with sleep:

  • Caffeine consumed 0, 3, and 6 hours before bedtime significantly reduced total sleep time. Even caffeine consumed 6 hours before bed reduced total nightly sleep amounts by more than 1 hour.
  • Caffeine consumed at all three points diminished sleep quality. Caffeine taken 3 and 6 hours before bedtime, as well as caffeine consumed at bedtime, significantly increased the amount of time spent awake during the night.
  • Disruptions to sleep as a result of caffeine were perceived by volunteers (as recorded in sleep diaries) for caffeine consumed at bedtime and 3 hours before bed, but were not reported for caffeine taken 6 hours before bed. However, sleep monitors measuring total sleep time and sleep efficiency (time spent sleeping relative to total time spent in bed) showed that caffeine consumed 6 hours before bedtime had significant detrimental effects to both.

That third point is the most surprising. It means that even if you don’t perceive an impact on your sleep, there still may be one. I haven’t tried to replicate the study on myself because I don’t have/want a sleep tracker, but the point is compelling.

(Here’s a full-text link to the actual study)

This makes it easy to resolve to stop drinking caffeine after 2pm and limit myself to two cups of coffee a day. I’ll just switch to water (which I drink a lot more of since buying myself a cool hydroflask with a Joshua Tree design).

Table 3 from the study referred to above. Click for full-text link.

the inevitably necessary political post

(if after reading this post you find yourself wondering, what the heck brought that on? then don’t worry. it’s not aimed at you.)


I am not anonymous. It’s pretty easy to know my real name, and thus know where else I blog, and other facts about me, most of which are very strongly correlated with a certain kind of politics. From time to time I slip and that political bias leaks out here at Here, I am not interested in being publicly liberal like John Scalzi or alt-right like Vox Day or even partisan on niche issues but determined to link all sides fairly like Mike Glyer. I just want to write about stuff that I like.

In a few days, we enter a new political era, and this has certain people emotional for different reasons. That’s understandable. I like a good playoff game as much as the next guy, and I enjoyed the game so much more when Dallas tied the game – twice – and Rodgers only had 30 seconds left. The emotion I felt, and would have felt had it gone the other way, is real. Same thing with politics. I am allowed to feel what I feel, and so is everyone else. This is the Internet, however, and some people just don’t seem to grok this.

There are people I disagree with profoundly with whom I am able to have a perfectly civil conversation. That is because I consider respect to be the first and foremost responsibility of anyone engaging someone else. If you don’t respect someone, then don’t concern yourself with what they do or think or especially, post on the Internet. This is common sense and civility. Again, I am not surprised that some people on the Internet don’t seem to be able to understand this concept.

I am quite sure that I fit the definition of a SJW or moonbat or whatever other fancy buzzword du jour has all the cucks kecking. But to paraphrase a certain timeless truth, “to you be your way and to me, mine.”

and that’s enough said about that.

And yeah, the photo doesn’t have much to do with the post – apart from the obvious fact that there is only one Green Deity, and his name is Godgers.

monetizing is the new thing

Regardless of whether or not you agree with his politics, Andrew Sullivan’s decision to monetize the Daily Dish is an admirable one, which I envy. I’m hardly a blip compared to him, even if you aggregate all my various blogs. Still, I often think about blogging in a meta-sense and the issue of monetization is one that no blogger can avoid for very long. Simply put, blogging costs money and time. There are hosting costs, domain costs, and software costs, as well as the time needed to ensure that you suppress spam, silence trolls, and above all encourage sincere commentors by engaging them in conversation. You *can* run a freeblog on wordpress or blogspot, of course, but you’re limited in your growth.

Here at haibane I started this blog because I was genuinely frustrated with political blogging. Haibane was my refuge, where I write what i want about what I like, and it’s amassed enough of a following that I think it’s been a success. That success largely covers the cost issues; what meager earnings the ads bring in, mostly covers the hosting costs, with just a small deficit. The bigger issue is time, though. Writing for myself and my audience is fun, but not a priority compared to other ways to use my time that bring greater rewards in family time, work, and money. So, ultimately, blogging is a hobby that must be actively accomodated even without the cost issues. And of course, time is money.

The ironic thing is, if I were to increase the income I make from the blog, that would probably be a great motivator to blog more. More revenue would raise the priority of blogging vs other activities to spend my time on. And of course that is a positive feedback loop, because more posts = more traffic = more revenue. Most blogs like mine are in a static phase where traffic and revenue are flat; we have our usual coterie of readers and blog community, but no growth, because the barriers to growth are time and money. There is a point well above where this blog and others like it are, where those barriers get reduced.

I think of those barriers as “cost overhead” to blogging. How does a medium blog reduce that cost overhead? One way is to recruit more bloggers. Here at Haibane I’ve had occasional guest posters on, but recruitment is also a large time investment. A regular blog partner or partners is more reliable and less effort, and allows shared overhead of time.

Another way is to simply monetize. I do have ads, but as the Sullivan example shows there are more direct ways – and for a blog with 100 unique visitors a day, if I could extract $5 from 10% of them a month, then that would triple the revenue for a year. There are more subtle ways of doing this, for example something like what Brooks Review does.

If you monetize of course then you become responsible to the audience. That’s not a bad thing, especially if it increases and motivates more output, on the topics of interest to that audience. (The question is always, what audience do you pursue). I’d certainly be willing to blog more and be responsive to what my readers wanted, if they were paying for it.

politics and the otakusphere

word cloud of the Constitution of the United StatesFour years ago I had a minor snit about the encroachment of politics into our realm, and while we are still relatively early in the next presidential election cycle, I already sense that the problem will recur. I’m guilty of some political musing here myself, but I do make a reasonable effort to avoid overt rah-rah cheering for one side or the other here (unlike my other haunts, where I let my partisan biases hang out). I really do see geekblogging as a refuge for myself, and while I certainly cannot and do not want to tell anyone how to run their blog or what they can or can’t post, I do find myself itching for the damn thing to be over already.

Wishful thinking, I know. It’s only April and we have 6 months left to go. It’s an eternity.


is it just me, or does the otakusphere seem filled with political posts these past few weeks?

I am not knocking anyone’s choice of blogging subject material, but I am finding it harder to use the otakusphere as my release valve for the bitter and divided one-sidedness of the poli-sphere (left and right alike). I am not above that fray – in fact I am actively and proudly a partisan myself – but one of the great things about the otakusphere is that it is one of the few common grounds left on which we can meet our putative idoelogical opponents on without acrimony.

At any rate the solution is simple; if you don’t like what others are writing about, don’t read it. But I am looking forward to this election season being over so we can all go back to discussing the important things.