2016 Year in Review

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.” -Proverbs 23:7 KJV

Grandmommy Funeral

Grandmommy’s Funeral in Tipton

In January, my wife’s grandmother, Helen, died and my Grandpa Stauffer started to get sick. My oldest daughter turned 12 and my wife took her to Universal Studios. My mom ended chemo therapy and started radiation treatment. I flew to Orlando for work at GoServicePro.

Erich at Goservicepro

Erich at the WWETT16 Show in Indianapolis

In February, my best friend, Jason Cobb, told me he was moving to Wisconsin. My brother, Mitch, moved into a new house. Skinny and Company offered me full-time employment. On the last day of the month, GoServicePro moved offices and I let them know I was moving on.

Erich and Jason at the Hi-Fi

Erich and Jason at the Wakey Wakey Concert in Fountain Square

In March, my Grandpa Stauffer died. Our family decided to wait to get together. I began working nights at Skinny and Company and went full time March 28th. I started to notice that our kids were starting to grow up.

daddy-and-amalia-2016

On the weekends I would take the kids down to the park by the church. The Catholic church had decided to tear down the old church in the background as maintenance costs were too much to repair it.

samuel-and-kevin-swinging-2016

Working at Skinny was fun and exciting, but also challenging. We were setting up new systems and so I had to do a lot of learning really quickly. This also uncovered other areas, which needed improvement so there was a lot to do.

erich-at-skinny-coconut-oil

My mom’s cancer went into remission and her hair started to grow back. I admired her pursuit of health and her consistently positive attitude through the whole ordeal. Here she is at a band concert:

moms-hair-2016

In April I went and visited Jason in Wisconsin. It was a long drive up there and back, but I’m glad I did it. We walked along the Mississippi river and up on top of the bluffs. While I was there my wife told me she was pregnant.

erich-jason-lacrosse-2016

Later on that month I went to my first Pacer’s game with Skinny. That’s Mike, Luke, me, and Matt in the picture. Jordan, Landree, and Mike’s wife were also there (she was pregnant, too).

erichs-first-pacer-game

Samuel keeps growing up. He really likes going to the park. He’s my little buddy.

samuel-in-tree-2016

At the end of April we drove out to Missouri to see Peggy before going on to Dixon for the funeral for Grandpa Stauffer.

kids-with-peggy-2016

It was a good way to remember Grandpa.

grandpa-stauffer-funeral-2016

Here we are all together in front of the church where my parents got married.

dad-mom-family-church-2016

In May I finally setup my own office at Skinny. My brother-in-law, John, got married, and Suzanne and I went to a “Rev Indy” event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Skinny.

erichs-skinny-office-2016

By the end of the month, I stopped to smell the roses. I bought a season pass to Eagle Creek Park and would go walking there during lunch kind of like I used to when I worked at Worksmart Systems.

smell-the-roses

I took the boys out there, too.

boys-at-eagle-lake

We went to the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. It was my first time going. It was hot.

race-day-2016

And we started going to the Silver Beach off Lake Michigan.

kids-silver-beach-michigan-2016-may

In June, Jason and I went to Chicago. I’ve been to Chicago with Jason more than any other person (so far). We watched a Cubs game.

We road bikes to China town to see the famous “Post No Signs” sign. It wasn’t there anymore, but we remembered it.

In July I thought I was going to Atlanta, but I didn’t get to go so I went to the 100 Acres Woods instead.

I went and saw my mom playing in the Greenwood band at a Greenwood park. She did good!

Worlds collided when Hans from GoServicePro went out with me and Mike from Skinny and Company to Amber Indian.

Kids got some ice cream and started growing up.

In August I went on a walk around Tipton with Samuel.

Magdalena left me a note.

We went and visited Jason and his family in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

And here’s us at the top of a bluff.

Here’s the office I had setup for a while at Skinny.

In September I bought a new bike (the first bike I’ve ever bought myself as an adult). My goal is to ride the Hilly Hundred in 2017.

Me and Magdalena went for a walk in Carmel on the Monon.

I took Samuel for ice cream.

Kevin learned how to ride a bike.

And I started going to the gym (or at least took at least one picture of myself at a gym).

In October I told Skinny I was moving on and I had Mike and Matt take this picture with me (thanks to Allison for taking it).

Carmina had fun seeing Skinny Coconut Oil at grocery stores around Indianapolis. She’s a good spokesperson.

I went and visited Jason in La Crosse, Wisconsin and made a movie of the trip.

The Cubs ended up winning the World Series. I had nothing to do with it, but I did visit them (twice).

Jason and I went for a bike ride on the trails at the top of the bluffs.

In November I accepted the job at Marine Credit Union in La Crosse, Wisconsin and moved into a hotel.

I came home for a bit and ate some tacos with Hans.

It was hard to say goodbye to my family after the weekend.

Samuel learned how to ride a bike and we went for a ride to the park.

In December I had a baby. We named her after Helen.

And my parents flew to Hawaii.

I bought the kids a PS4.

My brothers came up for Christmas.

I took Amalia to the park.

Here’s to 2016.

Things I Want You to Know About Life

My mom wrote this recently when the power was off. She had, “no WiFi, & time to reflect.”
Power is off and sensors are beeping. So here goes:

Things I want you to know about Life

It can change in an instant.
Don’t wait to do the things you love.
Don’t waste time on things that don’t matter.
Do something new.
Think about others needs & feelings. Express your gratitude.
See the beauty all around you.
Listen more Get off your phone.
Look up.
Write personal notes, not texts. Handwritten notes  express your heartfelt appreciation
Be trustworthy always.
Build your character & integrity.
Keep a journal to record the highlights you will forget.
Good times can be very simple. Enjoy them as they come.
Watch the sunset.
Smell the rain.
Read a child a book.
Take them for a nature walk.
And the power is back. Hallelujah.
Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity. Hours fly, flowers die, new days, new ways, pass by. Love stays. —a sundial
Enjoy life!

Virtual Reality’s Mainstream Moment: Ready Player One

Ready Player One: VR Goes Mainstream

Stock photo from Adobe not related to book or movie by Ernest Cline.

I remember it like it was yesterday: March 28, 2015, the day Ready Player One and its corresponding virtual reality (VR) game, The Oasis, were simultaneously released.

While it is true that Avatar 2 released its own VR game months earlier in 2007 it wasn’t until Ready Player One’s “The Oasis” that VR games were considered mainstream.

The Platform Wars

Just like in the early days of gaming consoles like Nintendo, SEGA, and Atari, today’s VR landscape is equally segmented and even more fractured because of PCs and mobile devices.

In the beginning, relatively cheap options like Google Cardboard or View-Master were under $20 while devices from Oculus cost $800 and required a $300 graphics card in a PC.

Adobe stock photo of cardboard VR glasses to play games in 3D.

Adobe stock photo of cardboard VR glasses to play games in 3D.

The Adoption Curve

Early adopters eagerly purchased any new technology no matter the cost, but for mass adoption the price point of a VR gaming unit had to fall under $400. That happened in March of 2018.

Samsung, Facebook’s Oculus, and Microsoft all had solutions in the mix, but it was Nintendo who leapfrogged them all with a device that used low-power, cell phone processors and a simple headset device we all know as the Nintendo VoyR.

The Network Effect

The VoyR debuted with Mario Planet, but it was The Oasis that was a breakout hit. Although the elements of Mario Planet were familiar (Mario Cart anyone?), it was the built in friendship and messaging abilities that Nintendo built into the game that truly allowed it to prosper. Steam, Battle.net, Sony PSN, and Xbox Live all quickly followed suit.

But VR wasn’t limited to gaming. Because of the success of Nintendo and other platforms, Facebook was now a place I could go to talk to my friends in 3D and group texts in iMessage could now be done via avatars with Apple’s new VR headset. Even Google was back in the game with Glass VR, Nexus VR, and Chrome VR.

The Internet of Things

VR applications opened up a whole new use for Internet connected devices. Apple Car drivers could now virtually do a walk through of their house to look to see if they left something or see who is at the front door when the doorbell rings.

2018 also saw UBER “drivers” designated to serve a pseudo-AI role of making sure self-driving car passengers feel comfortable in much the same way self-checkout cashiers used to help people when they got stuck checking out some weird item.

Augmented Reality

Not all VR tech involved a fully immersive environment. Special “see through” versions from Warby Parker and View-Master allowed an entirely new market of face recognition CRM software for LinkedIn and Minecraft skins for your home.

But maybe the biggest surprise was the return of the local arcade where specialized VR and augmented reality (AR) environments could be setup for bowling on the moon or playing real-life Mario Kart. But by far Dance Dance Revolution is the most fun.

First World Problems

The worst part about VR is taking the headset off and readjusting to the real world to do things like eat and use the restroom. That’s why VR headset makers quickly moved to create hybrid VR/AR headsets that let you see “both worlds” without having to remove the mask.

And like in Ready Player One, sometimes people hide behind the mask and you really don’t know how someone looks in real life. But maybe that’s okay. Because you can’t judge a book by its cover and maybe you shouldn’t judge a person by the way they look in real life either.