Anki Cozmo order cancelled

Expectedly my order of the Anki Cozmo did not go through. They detected my german address and an Anki support guy wrote me an email stating that Cozmo was not yet available in Germany and that they were going to cancel the order. As he wrote other markets will be evaluated in 2017. I just wonder why they even put up a german advertisement website for Cozmo...

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OS X split screen

The first time since Apple introduced the split screen mode in OS X that it really comes in handy for me. Here I have Parallels running, on the left side with Windows 10 in the standard and on the right in HiDPI mode. This way, while programming, I can test how Task Till Dawn gets rendered in the particular display mode. Pretty neat!

Apart from that I find the split screen implementation rather quirky. I have to admit that Windows is one step ahead of OS X here. Apple only allows to have two windows side by side. Additionally, if one deactivates the system preference "Displays have separate spaces", the split screen mode is no longer usable. Completely illogical and inefficient – because if I am working with multiple monitors I want all monitors to synchronously switch spaces. But unfortunately, on OS X one can either use the split screen mode or the synchronous space switching. Not both at the same time.

OS X Split Screen

SteamVR supersampling

SteamVR has a hidden configuration parameter which allows to enable supersampling for VR applications. With supersampling graphics are rendered in a higher resolution than the native one of the screen in the headset. Afterwards the image is down-sampled and antialiased. This generates a sharper image because – for example – small lines and other details have to be rendered completely before antialiasing. The downside is that this really raises the burden on the graphics card. Additionally, not all VR games support supersampling. Valve probably had a good reason to keep this configuration parameter hidden, so setting it manually might have negative consequences.

To enable supersampling in SteamVR, one has to edit a JSON formatted configuration file. It's a good idea to create a backup before doing so.

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Anki Cozmo

The company Anki, known for the Anki Overdrive series, brings something new to the market in October 2016. Namely Cozmo, a small moving robot. What it will be capable of is yet unknown. Currently there only exist some promotional videos and texts which are not very meaningful. But the little bot looks funny and can be controlled using an Android or iOS app. It has an integrated camera which can be used to recognize faces. Its own "face" consists of a display which shows various emotions. Instead of arms and hands the robot features some sort of gripper, with which it can knock over or lift stuff.

Preorders are already possible on, unfortunately only for US residents. When Cozmo will be available in Germany is yet unclear.

However, the order form can be easily adjusted using Firebug to also accept addresses in Germany, and it is even possible to finish the checkout. So, yesterday I received my order confirmation with a valid German address. Now I am curious what will happen when shipment begins in October...

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CoConnect 1.0

CoConnect is an application which makes it possible to send requests to Cobas Integra 400, 700 and 800 devices. The responses of the devices will be logged and can be exported as textfiles. These textfiles can also be used to import requests and / or responses again into the application. Additionaly, there exists a rudimentary import functionality for Megalab hardcopies.

The connection to the device is handled using serial communication (RS232) using COM-ports. There exists a free tool named hub4com which allows the usage of COM-ports over a network, which might be handy if you want to connect to a device on a remote computer.

CoConnect is freeware and provided under the GPL. The latest binary version for Windows can be downloaded in the downloads-section. The application is multilingual (English and German).


My favorite VR games

After some initial problems with the order processing my HTC Vive luckily got delivered about two months ago. It is more than a fashion accessory to help you look good. There already exists a quite wide range of VR-enabled games and various demos on Steam, and the list is growing larger every day. I did not buy the Vive because of its room scale tracking. Rather, it was the acquisition of Oculus through Facebook which rendered the Rift uninteresting for me. However, it turned out that the room scale tracking of the Vive is absolutely awesome and works really well. I can no longer imagine playing a game sitting on a chair with a controller in my hand, or by using the mouse and keyboard. With the Vive one can use natural movements and get fully immersed in the particular game. So far, nothing got destroyed in our apartment yet. But I already bumped the controllers into the ceiling and the floor a few times by accident. Although the so-called chaperone system shows the boundaries of the playing field in VR, it does not check the ceiling height of the room one's playing in.

I won't write anything about the setup and the hardware because that has already been covered by a lot of other sites. So if you're interested you can quickly find anything about it on Google. Instead I'll just continue with the current list of my favorite VR games.

Space Pirate Trainer
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Task Till Dawn 1.91

This small bugfix release fixes an issue on OS X where the filechooser did not allow the selection of bundles (applications, for example). On Windows I added an option which makes it possible to run tasks in the background (minimized). This is not supported by all applications, but you can just give it a try to see if it works.

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