Virtual Reality How To

You’re gonna want to be sitting down.

Daniel Glass wanted to know if I’d seen the “New York Times” VR video of the retaking of Fallujah. Alas, I’d thrown the viewer out when it came with the paper way back when. Didn’t know I was doing that, but realized it after the fact, when the “Times” kept advertising its content and I couldn’t see it.

I don’t know whether virtual reality is the future or the next Google Glass. I do know all the techies are talking about it and most people are left out. So, I want to give you a primer, a little help.

You need a viewer.

I assume you’ve got a smartphone, Apple or Android, doesn’t matter.

So, go to Not to Amazon, it’s actually more expensive there.

Click on “Products” on the top line.

You want the Knox V2 on the resulting page. Buy it, it’s only ten bucks, they’ll charge you another $2.65 for shipping, but that’s a bargain, to get in the door, to see what’s going on.

Everything has a hurdle. And those who’ve jumped it care not a whit about those left behind. If anything, they ridicule them. Most people still don’t seem to know that you can synch streaming tracks for offline use. Every day I get e-mail from people decrying data charges and complaining about lack of coverage, they want their music 24/7, and you can have it, assuming you pay the $10 a month, just synch it to your handset and as long as you have juice, you can listen.

But this is about VR.

I didn’t dip my toe. I was turned off by the hype. I followed the stories, about Oculus Rift first and foremost, raising money on Kickstarter and then selling to Facebook, but I could sit on the sideline just fine.

Reminds me of the first computer era, back at the turn of the decade, from the seventies to the eighties, when the Apple II was infiltrating law firms and I was still using pen and paper, believing the IBM Selectric with memory was good enough.

But when I started my newsletter and loaded up on Apple equipment I was stunned, I entered a whole new world with tons of functionality.

But that was back when there were still manuals, instructions. I follow orders, I’ll take the time to read.

VR comes with no instructions. Which is why I’m helping you out here.

So, you’ve got your smartphone. And you’ve ordered your viewer. Do this, please. So we’re all on the same page, so we can talk intelligently, it’s less than the cost of a movie, and the unboxing and first experiences are worth the price of admission.

So, it’ll take you a week to get your Knox viewer.

And when it comes, you’ll be excited and flummoxed.

Be VERY careful opening the box. Because this thing IS cardboard and you can ruin it quite easily.

But after you unbox it you’ll be too scared to make your next move, which is why I point you to this YouTube video,

“Hands-On with Google Knox V2 – Google I/O 2015 – I AM CARDBOARD 2.0”

This will teach you how to extract the viewer from its case, which is intuitive, yet it’s in its sleeve so tight you’re afraid you’ll break something removing it.

And then…

You’re at the mercy of the instructions on the viewer itself, which are poorly done and might as well be in Greek, despite being pictures. Bottom line? Fold the flaps back towards the lenses and then secure them with the Velcro tabs. I wish I could be more explicit, if you’re confused I’m sure there’s a video for it.

And then…

You need content.

The Knox viewer comes with a little pamphlet and implores you to download an app. DON’T DO THIS FIRST! I did, and was mightily confused.

So then I went searching on the “New York Times.” I discovered you’ve got to download a virtual reality app, search on “NYT VR” and download it. But don’t do this first either!

No, what you want to do first is download the Google Cardboard app, even if you’re using an iPhone, it’s platform independent.

So now, after you’ve downloaded Google Cardboard…launch it and click for the demo.

If this is the future, Google owns it, because at least they give a few instructions, like where to put your phone in the viewer and how to close the cardboard to hold it in place. (Just to be clear, you put your phone into the viewer on the backside of the lens holes, close the cardboard flap and secure the Velcro tab to hold the phone in place, or you can do this with your hands for easy, ongoing accessibility, which you’ll need.)

Now, for you oldsters out there…

You’re gonna need your reading glasses to download and launch the apps, but you’re not gonna use them when looking into the viewer. Got that?

Oh crap, I can’t get back to where I started, and I’m trying to tell you how to do it!

Bottom line, first I saw birds and… There was a white dot and I couldn’t figure out what to do with it.

Turns out the Knox cardboard box has a button, on the upper right side, you push down to select, this is everything, try it!

And then, to go to different VR movies in the Google app you turn the cardboard box sideways and click on what you want.

Now this is getting too complicated, but it’s somewhat intuitive, I know you can do it and…

I didn’t do it this way. I started off with the Knox-approved app and couldn’t make anything work.

And then I went to the “New York Times,” and I knew enough to know that you turn your head to see multiple views and I wanted to see behind me and got up and promptly lost my balance, which is not good, I’m still recovering from shoulder surgery.

So, like I said up top, you’re gonna want to be sitting down.

And you’re gonna want to use the Google app first, because when you fly like a bird…IT’S VERY COOL!

So then I jumped back to the “Times” and the movies kept stalling.

I’ve got a speedy connection, but it turns out you’re best off downloading movies in the “Times” app.

And the “Times” app is not quite as intuitive as the Google one. You download it, launch it, click on a movie and employ the option to download it and then you’re confronted with two choices, two pictures, one for “GOOGLE CARDBOARD” and one for “SMARTPHONE,” choose “GOOGLE CARDBOARD,” that’s the one that works with the Knox viewer. Otherwise, you can just watch the movie on your phone and pan…but it’s not the same thing.

So now I’m thinking I’ve overloaded you, confused you, you’re throwing your hands up like you don’t care.

But you do. And you will get the hang of this. You’ve just got to take the plunge.

So, once again, go to and buy a viewer, it’s easy, go for it.

And then, when it arrives and you’ve unboxed the viewer and installed the apps you’re 90% there, you’re on your way home, it’s only then you’ll have to fumble a bit, but by this time you’ll be excited, you’ll see stuff through the viewer, you’ll be part of the new paradigm, on your own adventure into the future.

Oh, one more thing!

Use headphones. Preferably Bluetooth ones, but any old wired ones will do, even the pods that came with your phone. It’s not necessary, but it’s a much better experience.

P.S. Once you’re up and running you can go to the App Store and search on “Paul McCartney” and download the app to watch his VR movie, along with one about Jack White. However, it worked at first for me and now the content won’t download. I just checked the speed in the house and it was 100 Mbps down, so who knows what’s going on, maybe it’ll work for you, but it’s glitches like this that hold new technologies back, we need an AOL for VR, then again, do we really need VR? I’m still not sure…

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