VersaillesVR: Explore the Palace of Versailles in Virtual Reality

When I was 27, I took one of those three-week Trafalgar bus trips on an excursion across Western Europe: England, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria…I’m sure some of you have done it too.

While I got to see Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre museum, and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, sadly I did not get an opportunity to go see a place I had always dreamed of visiting: the sprawling, ornate Palace of Versailles, once home to the Kings and Queens of France and the royal court.

If, like me, you always wanted to wander the halls and galleries of Versailles as a tourist, you will welcome a brand new release from Google Arts & Culture, titled VersaillesVR: The Palace Is Yours:

You can teleport around various rooms and halls in the famous palace, including the Hall of Mirrors, the Royal Chapel, and the Royal Opera House. A handy map of the palace on your left wrist lets you jump from one room to another in an instant! And no crowds; you get the entire palace to yourself!

I have only one complaint with this wonderful program. Oddly, there are no snap or smooth turns available to reorient yourself using your hand controllers! You will need to physically turn yourself around at times, which means that you can get tangled up in your VR headset cable, or have your back to your tracking stations! It’s a bit irritating. But other than that, I am overjoyed with this new app! You can spend hours exploring.

And the best part? It’s totally free!

VersaillesVR is available now as a free download from Steam, and it works with the Valve Index, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift VR headsets only. The experience requires a Windows 10 PC with 20GB of available storage and at least a NVIDIA GTX 1060 GPU. VersaillesVR is available in French, English, or Chinese.

Le château de Versailles est à vous de découvrir!
The Palace of Versailles is yours to discover!

The Royal Chapel at Versailles (from the VersaillesVR app):
You can click on objects to learn more about them, like the pipe organ.
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Google AdSense Follies (Part III): Success!

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

As you know, I have been having some problems with Google AdSense (here and here).

Today I got another automated email message from Google, informing me:

Four pages were reviewed at your request and no policy violations were found on those pages at the time of the review. Ad serving will be restored on these pages and your monthly review limit will be credited.

Hooray! Success! I still don’t know whether or not an actual human being was involved in this process at all, or whether it was all done automatically using computer algorithms. But at least it’s done.

Google AdSense Follies (Part II): Hitting a Brick Wall

Well, I got back another automated email from Google about my Google AdSense violations. It looks like I got absolutely nowhere in requesting a review, which is what I was expecting:

In the last 24 hours: 

4 page-level review requests were received. You’ll be notified when the reviews are completed.
4 pages were reviewed at your request and found to be non-compliant with our policies at the time of the review. Ad serving continues to be restricted or disabled on those pages.

What I find really annoying is that I cannot access the list of violations using my desktop computer (it gives me an error message), so I have to use either my iPad or my iPhone to check the exact wording of the policy violations to see what’s going on. Pain in the ass!

I also found it amusing that, the past three times I checked the Utherverse blogpost, that Google AdSense did not disable ads on that post. Instead, it simply served advertising for the cheating-on-your-spouse website Ashley Madison! So it would appear that, rather than disable ads outright, AdSense will try to match adult content with adult ads. Interesting!

So, for the most serious offender, the Utherverse blogpost, it looks as though I am going to have to remove a couple of images and the link to Utherverse, then resubmit it to see if it passes muster. Frankly, this automated, terse warning system, with its lack of specifics, is irritating. You don’t get an opportunity to talk with a real person to find out what’s wrong (if there’s a person involved in this system at all). It makes you have to guess at what’s wrong, and you have to keep submitting it for review until it is approved. Again, pain in the ass.

As for the other three blogposts, well, I guess I am going to have to put black boxes over naked avatar boobs and asses to get them cleared. So ridiculous!

Were it not for the fact that my Google AdSense ads are bringing in more money than my WordPress WordAds, I would seriously consider just cancelling my AdSense account altogether. But, for now, I’ll make the changes and resubmit all four blogposts for review—AGAIN.

And I will now be checking my email regularly for any future reports of blogposts that have run afoul of the fickle Google AdSense policies.

Google AdSense Follies (Part I): OH MY GOD WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!??

I am, in a word, bemused.

In addition to the WordPress advertising from WordAds that I have been using in my blog since March of 2018, I recently opened a Google AdSense account and began serving ads from AdSense. (If you are connecting to this blog via desktop computer, you can see one such ad under “Advertising” in the left-hand column, underneath the “Follow RyanSchultz.com via email” link.)

Today, I was surprised to discover an email from Google telling me:

Dear Publisher, 

This Google Publisher Policy Report gives you an overview of recent activity related to violations found on specific pages of your websites. As enforcement statuses may change over time, please refer to the “Page-level enforcements” section of the AdSense Policy Center for the current list of active violations. 

Please note this report doesn’t cover violations that may happen on an overall site or account level. You may be notified by a separate email if site or account level violations are found. Ads will continue to serve where no policy violations have been found, either at the page- or site-level. 

In the last 24 hours: 

New violations were detected. As a result, ad serving has been restricted or disabled on pages where these violations of the AdSense Program Policies were found. To resolve the issues, you can either remove the violating content and request a review, or remove the ad code from the violating pages.

Further details on enforcements can be found in the AdSense Help Center. To learn more about our program policies, please view the AdSense Program Policies.

Kind regards,
Google Publisher Policy

Now, I was very surprised to see this, since I have always strived to keep things at a PG13 level at all times on my blog. And, when I click over to see what the “violations” were, I find that four of my blogposts were flagged for “Adult, Sexual Content” violations, which are defined as:

Adult: Sexual Content

As stated in our Program policies, we may not show Google ads on pages or apps with content that is sexually suggestive or intended to sexually arouse. This includes but is not limited to:

– pornographic images, videos, or games
– sexually gratifying text, images, audio, or video
– pages that provide links for or drive traffic to content that is sexually suggestive or intended to sexually arouse

So, which blogposts triggered the violations? Glad you asked. There were four. Here are the first three (all linked, so you can visit and see for yourself how unoffensive and safe-for-work they are):

UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Romeo and Juliet Full-Body Mesh Avatars as Valentine’s Day Gifts at the eBENTO Event!, which contains, AT WORST, a blurred-over image of a female avatar’s breasts in the background of the first photo, and ABSOLUTELY NO SEXUAL OR ADULT CONTENT AT ALL. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT MESH AVATARS.

The Mesh Project Releases New Male and Female Mesh Bodies for Second Life Avatars: Why I Won’t Be Buying One, which, AT WORST, shows a naked male avatar with a COMPLETELY BLURRED OUT penis on the first photo, and two photos of The Mesh Project’s new male mesh avatar which is essentially a FREAKING. KEN. DOLL. WITHOUT. A. PENIS.

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Rick Bento Mesh Body by Alantori for Only L$50!, which, AT WORST, shows a naked male avatar rear end. OH MY GOD END OF THE WORLD SPARE THE CHILLUNS!!!

And then, finally, a double strike against this fourth and final blogpost: “Adult: Sexual Content” AND “Adult: Sexual Merchandise”, the latter of which is defined as follows:

Adult: Sexual Merchandise

Google ads may not be placed on adult or mature content. This includes fetish content as well as sites or apps that promote, sell, or discuss sexual aids. Examples include, but are not limited to:

– sexual fixations or practices that may be considered unconventional
– sexual aids or enhancement tools such as vibrators, dildos, lubes, sex games, inflatable toys
– penis and breast enlargement tools

The blogpost Google finds so offensive? Utherverse and the Red Light Center: A Brief Introduction. Now here, I can begin to see why it might have gotten flagged. All the female-presenting nipples and vaginas and such are completely blurred out, but it’s still clear from at least one photo that some (as Google calls it) “sexual fixations or practices that may be considered unconventional” could be taking place. And I do also include a link to the Utherverse/Red Light Center with a VERY CLEAR warning that the link is Not Safe For Work (NSFW). So now I have to think twice before I put in any links like this, even with a warning label? (UPDATE: I have decided to go in and blur out the offending images in this blogpost even more strongly than before, including completely blurring the kinky one.)

I would argue that my blogpost is simply TALKING about an adult virtual world at a PG13 level. I am tempted to remove the link to Utherverse/RLC, but instead, I have called for a review of all four “violations” (which I am told can take up to a week or longer to process).

The first three “violations” are ludicrous. Am I supposed to start blurring out AVATAR REAR ENDS OH MY GOD THE CHILDREN THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!! This is ridiculous. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT AVATARS, PEOPLE. THE DIGITAL VERSION OF BARBIE DOLLS. The fourth one, well, if the review is rejected, then I supposed I am going to have to go in and sanitize it even more. But this is a slippery slope; am I going to have to go back through 1,255 blogposts over two years and check each one for inadvertent tits and ass?

I have subtitled this blogpost “Part I”, because I have a horrible sinking feeling that this issue is not going to go away so easily. If the four blogposts above were flagged (either by machine or human), there a probably dozens more that would also fall afoul of Google’s AdSense rules. I have written about (and linked to) other adult/sexual worlds, always with a very clear NSFW warning. Should I remove the links and tell people to just Google them? (Now THAT would be ironic.)

But to date, I have never seen the need to blur out an avatar rear end (male or female) as I would a penis, a vagina, or a “female-presenting” nipple. And we are talking about AVATARS, which are not to be confused with real people. I’m not serving porn here, I’m talking about mesh avatar bodies! GET A GRIP, GOOGLE ADSENSE.

This is NOT over. Even though I have a feeling I am in a losing battle here. The good news is that it would appear that Google AdSense has blocked advertising only on those four blogposts.

Stay tuned; I will post updates!