Russ: You missed out on a chance to test VR at the mall in Seattle

Experiencing VR at the Microsoft Store in Seattle, near the Amazon book store. Look what you missed Russ!

Right wing activist, global warming denier and political blogger Russ Steele (a former Union columnist, along with George Rebane) has been waxing on about “Green Screen Review” on his blog, largely poking fun at the local effort to jump on the virtual reality bandwagon with a “Green Screen Institute.”

In his latest installment, Russ writes: “Picked up a copy of  Bloomberg Business Week at the Amazon Book Store in Seattle. On the cover is a VR article featuring Facebook’s Zuckerberg. He wants to take over the VR market and control it like Apple and Google control the mobile phone market.Is the Green Screen Institute up to this challenge?  Facebook has billions to spend on VR development!  How much does the Green Screen Institute have to develop a regional model to create a cluster of VR related businesses?  Maybe they can get Zuckerberg to create a Nevada County VR Skunkworks at the GSI?  There are a number of local business that were spinouts of expired skunkworks projects.”

What a hoot! Last week we visited the same Amazon Book Store in Seattle — on our own vacation to the Emerald City. But unlike Russ, who merely glanced at a magazine at Amazon’s only brick-and-mortar bookstore, we were more enterprising and “dug deeper.”

Here’s how: As it turns out a Microsoft Store is in the same shopping center — just a short walk from the Amazon book store. And the store has an outstanding VR demonstration, which we all tried out with glee.

I would have liked to have seen Russ don the VR headset (and posted that photo on my blog) as well as hear his impressions as a user.

Our feeling from the demo was that VR has a lot of potential, though we remain skeptical whether it will be the “next big thing” or just another thing. The drawbacks range from affordability to a technology that is a “work in progress” to some people getting motion sickness from the VR headset.

We also are skeptical about whether the “Green Screen Institute,” not far from our home, will be able to translate into a measurable economic boost for our towns. As I joked to one friend, “Who needs a VR headseat around here; the real-life views — from the Yuba River to the wildflowers in bloom to Lake Tahoe — are outstanding.”

But we need to give VR and our local effort a chance. I am going to tour the “Green Screen Institute” this fall, and report on it. In the meantime, I hope Russ will don the VR headset and report back to us on his experience. And include a photo.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

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