Refugee Housing by Ikea

And four other intriguing things: Mark Penn at Microsoft, a better virtual-reality headset, feminist data, and the ghosts of Fukushima.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

1. Refugee housing developed by Ikea

"The house comes in a flat pack that can be put together without tools. It is equipped with solar lighting and is portable... The house weighs 100 kilos and is expected to last three years compared to an average of less than one year for the current family tent."

 

2. Mark Penn, former aide to Bill Clinton, is now chief strategy officer at Microsoft.

"Mr. Penn’s new role at Microsoft is the most surprising, given his background as a political operative and pollster who built his reputation in the other Washington — D.C., not Washington State, where Microsoft is based. While a polarizing figure within Microsoft, as in politics, he became a trusted adviser to Mr. Ballmer, and now is poised to do the same for Mr. Nadella.

It was not immediately clear whether the new job was a promotion for Mr. Penn since he will no longer oversee Microsoft’s huge advertising budget. That responsibility will go to Chris Capossela, a longtime Microsoft executive who has been managing its relationship with retailers and distributors, the person briefed on the executive changes said.

Some of Mr. Penn’s work at Microsoft has been criticized by people within the company and in the tech industry, especially a negative advertising campaign aimed at Google. The 'Scroogled' campaign, as it is known, has sought to raise privacy and other concerns about Google. While many pundits have derided the campaign as sour grapes, Mr. Penn’s supporters within Microsoft say they have data showing it has been effective."

 

3. A guy demo'd and wrote about Valve's virtual-reality headset.

"The first demo stuck me in a simple room, whose walls were textured with financial data for Facebook from some website. An odd choice, yeah. There was a little red cube bouncing around the room, and the desire to avoid it was *extremely strong*. A dodgeball / laser field game immediately popped into my mind, but as I mentioned before, a tether really hurts this type of idea.

"I want to point out how strong the positional tracking is, here. *I was moving around and dodging something with absolutely zero issue.* Jumping, ducking, Matrix-dodging, whatever. It’s bizarre how compelling this demo was, as it could be knocked up in Unity in approximately seven minutes.

"Next was the same room, but now I was placed high up on a ledge. This is what Valve likes to call 'presence.' I have no fear of heights; I’ve been skydiving, and I have a fairly strong ability to separate reality from unreality, but my body did NOT want to step over that edge. I did it, eventually, it just took me a couple seconds, and it was uncomfortable...

"Starting to lose track of order…at some point was a room (with some sweet global illumination bakes from Maya) with low-hanging pipes. Moving around the room basically forced me to duck my head under and around the pipes, which was extremely compelling. There was also a glowy pit in the floor and I wanted to lean over and look inside, but the positional tracking break kind of threw me off.

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