Virtual Insanity

I’ve started work on another entry about the notion of refusing to hear certain arguments or suggestions, not because of deliberate ignorance, but simply to avoid wars of attrition (that is, it’s a bad argument the first time you’ve heard it, so why would the hundredth time be any different?). By coincidence, I get a notification in my email from Quora about a certain puzzling question.

Quora has a feature I think far too many people misunderstand. Don’t worry, I’ve fallen for it too. When you visit someone’s profile, there’s an option to ask them a question. The problem is this is made to look like some kind of private messaging system. In actuality, it’s a way to post a question and have a request sent out to a certain person right away. Imagine walking up to someone’s house, knocking on their door, then stepping back and pulling out a bullhorn to ask if they have a moment to talk about our lord and savior, Jesus Christ. You think you’re having a private discussion when you’re really airing your dirty laundry. Benjamin here seems to be doing exactly that. The context I’m about to share here does decipher the puzzling nature of the question, but shines a light on a puzzling kind of behavior I’ve seen on Quora far too often. It’s a kind of obsessiveness that’s often found in the neurodivergent or autistic spectrum. I’m not saying that to make fun of anyone. I don’t know Benjamin and I’m certainly not a psychologist, no matter how comfy my armchair is.

The person Benjamin is directing this question to answered a previous question of his. He’s trying to make his own VR headset as a personal DIY/Maker project. Fair enough, but here’s where I start to worry about punching down. He’s asked this question multiple times. They’re all slight variations with different qualifiers, but it’s more or less the same question asked no less than a dozen times.

He wants to know how this can be done, and he wants it done in such a way that this particular homemade headset can work with whatever platform he desires it to. This isn’t the kind of repeat question that can get someone’s account taken down as it’s not spam or anything like that, but it’s waxing insincere given his response to the few answers his questions receive.

First things first, let’s put his project in perspective. He wants to do, by himself and on his own time with supposedly no real budget, the sort of project that takes literally whole teams of people years to develop and vast sums of investment capitol. On top of that, this project is supposed to be able to fit in and play nice with any platform he sees fit, regardless of how they may feel about it. Whether he expects this to be done via jailbreaking or pure force of will is hard to pin down. Again, I don’t know Benjamin personally. I have only this tall, vertical slice he’s presented for me to work with. Put simply, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and has feathers and webbed feet like a duck, that it keeps yelling, “I’m a platypus!” is only going to convince me that this duck knows how to talk… and very little else. My point is he’s more than welcome to convince me of his credentials, but little of what follows has done as much, if any at all.

The person Benjamin seems to be addressing with this question is a gentleman named Joseph, who answered one of the VR headset questions (I haven’t looked at the other answers on its other iterations, but I’m willing to wager they go much the same way). To sum up Joseph‘s answer, he more or less said what we’ve already established, that the scope of this project is far beyond a single person to achieve in any reasonable length of time, and if he’s even asking how to go about it, he may not understand this scope and its ensuing burden.

Once thought, Benjamin. Once. Not “one.”

Quite a lot to unpack here, let’s start with the false dichotomy.

Ok, well could you at least give a viable alternative?

Benjamin, the viable alternative is to make your headset to work with a single console of choice, purchase a headset for your particular platform of choice, or purchase multiple ones for each system you wish to employ it for. However, as you pointed out in one of your previous versions of this question, you want to build one and don’t want people to tell you to just buy one. You also don’t want to use any kind of existing hardware such as Raspberry Pi or an Arduino because of licensing issues… even though these components have open source licenses that encourage people to hack them. The actual licensing has more to do with branding than anything that would hinder the progress of the project they’re used for. Whatever headaches you think you’re saving yourself by not dealign with SBC’s or microcontrollers are only going to be replaced by larger, more onerous ones. Why build a giant when there are plenty with shoulders perfect for perching?

I know how to code in multiple languages, and have dealt with computer hardware before, and nothing gave me the idea on how I would make my own headset.

This is a response to Joseph insisting that Benjamin must not be very knowledgable in coding or computer hardware if he doesn’t understand the scope of his project. Benjamin counters that he has extensive knowledge in such areas, but that it has not given him any direction in how to make his own universal VR headset. This is fair, though they’re effectively talking past one another. Unfortunately, Benjamin opens a door that leads to a self-digging hole.

I’m not an idiot, if that is what you’re thinking,

Benjamin, simply saying you have knowledge of something does not demonstrate that knowledge. Furthermore, you’ve asked the same question multiple times. You’ve gotten answers on those questions, you’re still asking the same thing, and now you’re lashing out at the people who aren’t telling you what you want to hear. These are not the earmarks of someone blazing a new trail or thinking outside the box. This is a pattern of the sort of stubbornness that comes from inexperience. Again, you can tell me you’re a platypus all you like, but you’re doing all the duck things that ducks do. Inexperience is not a mark of intelligence or a lack thereof, so you’ve just poisoned your own well by assuming what you think Joseph is driving at, which he isn’t. You’ve gone from doubts to persecution, and that’s not a good look for you in your position.

all I really wanted was a way to create a 6DOF headset that connects to PC or console, whichever would be easier.

Developing something for a PC is very different than a console, which I don’t doubt you know because you’ve said as much… except for when you haven’t. Your earlier attempts at this question focused on using Raspberry Pi SBC’s and Arduino microcontrollers, and you seemed much more focused on PC development. Later on, you made comparisons to the Playstation VR setup and opted for a console version. Again, none of these behaviors of yours speak to any kind of development experience, hence Joseph‘s doubts about your expertise and my doubts about your sincerity.

If you are so smart, maybe you could give a solution for this question instead of telling me that I cannot do it, “

How many people have given you an answer similar to Joseph‘s? Have you ever heard the phrase that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results? It doesn’t matter how many times you ask this question, the specific answer you seek is only present in your hopes and dreams. As we’ve gone over, VR is nothing new, and it’s the culmination of decades of research and development by multiple teams of individuals, and you’re trying to build it in your garage with parts made from sand and forged with positive thinking. You’re looking for a magic bullet. You ask why people keep shooting down your idea, but you yourself have scoffed at every answer that doesn’t meet your expectations. Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.

The solution to your question is to ask another question, because what you’ve been trying up until this point has not helped you in any way, shape, or form, and I’m wondering what it’s going to take for that to get through to you.

or telling me to learn coding, which I already have an extensive knowledge of. Hopefully you can now plausibly answer my questions now that you know I am not as incompetent as you one thought.

At the risk of this being taken the wrong way, Benjamin, you haven’t actually demonstrated that you’re more knowledgable in these fields than you insist you are. Say I was the founder of NVIDIA and had a hand in every project in the company’s history, including virtual reality hardware, and I told you that it couldn’t be done. Would you respect my expertise or would you insist it wasn’t a viable solution or fitting alternative to your question?

Joseph responds at this point, and credit to him for being patient and civil, as this is not returned in kind by Benjamin. Among other points, Joseph notes how many people are involved in these kinds of projects and they’re nowhere near close to achieving what Benjamin has set out to do. This is the part where Benjamin opens his mouth and removes all doubt…

Ok, but guess what? I have many people that know extensive programming knowledge, more than I do, and other people that work at AMD, Intel, etc.

… And? No, really, what was the rest of your point? You know people who know more than you, and they haven’t made the kind of progress you’re expecting to make on your own with a hobbyist outfit… therefore it should work?

My responses may seem a bit rude due to the plain and simple fact that the people do not answer the question, by either stating I can’t, or to buya headset, when the question specifically states that is not a viable answer. You really are no better, as you completely shoot down any newer ideas anyone may have, just so you can get a simple upvote.

Again, repeatedly asking the same question over and over again and taking all the doubts and honest advice about it as some kind of affront to your efforts are not helping anyone, least of all you. For the record, Joseph‘s answer got an upvote from me because he more or less said exactly what I would have said, and I doubt he’s the first person to say as much to you. People aren’t upvoting this question because it knocks you down a peg and puts you in your place. Believing others to be so petty is only serving as a comfort fantasy to you so you don’t feel so embarrassed for asking this question or the umpteenth time and not hearing what you want to.

Also, Oculus was started by a DIY project, and all i want to do is to simply make smaller improvements on VR systems. 

Oh, I get it. You’re not LOOKING for a magic bullet. You believe yourself to BE the magic bullet, the answer to the VR world’s prayers for a multi-platform, homebrew solution that fixes what decades of research haven’t been able to fine-tune… by asking people on Quora to tell you how to do it…? I could genuinely sum up your entire mission statement as,

I know how to do this thing… How do I do this thing?

Benjamin, people keep bringing up your behavior because it keeps getting in the way of the discussion you may or may not want to have. When you’re told the logistics of how and why something cannot be done under the conditions you’ve specified, you need to explain how those are not obstacles to you or why they shouldn’t be brought up, not simply dismissed and followed up with a demand for people to “try again” at answering your question. If you’re not hearing what you want to, then maybe your knowledge of the subject is nowhere near the level you think it is.

How about this, I’ll give you an easy place to start a rebuttal to my points if you’re up for it. Joseph suggested you try a smaller scale project and work your way up to a full VR headset. What other projects have you partaken in that makes you feel qualified to tackle it? Have you ever worked with the SDK for an existing piece of hardware? Have you coded an Arduino or written something for a Raspberry Pi? What can you show to demonstrate that these skills you insist you have? Would you expect to become employed at a place like Intel or Facebook on your word alone?

I’m not saying any of this to bully you or put you down or call you stupid. I’m saying what I’m saying because your behavior is not helpful to your endeavor and you need to change it if you want any chance of getting any closer to your goal. If I wanted to develop a VR headset and set about employing a team of experts to take on my task, I would not hire you. Please change my mind.

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