Posts Tagged 'opensim'

Blurred Vision

Vision can be blurry because something is interfering actively or because the focus has not yet resolved. When I look at the future and virtual worlds, my vision blurs from both causes. This post was triggered by my reaction to Gwyneth Llewelyn‘s post “Innovation, yes, but wrong turn“. Gwyneth is one of my favorite bloggers. I find her comments to be sound and well-supported, and her tone is always equable.

I still believe that all of us will have an avatar in virtual worlds in the fairly near future. I believe that more and more business meetings and collaborations will take place virtually. There will always be a need for face-to-face. But the workplace is global and for short-duration meetings and conferences, unless we have a major breakthrough in transportation costs (“Beam me up, Scotty!”), the most cost and time efficient solution will remain electronic. I no longer believe, however, that SecondLife/OpenSim will be that virtual means. And therefore my vision is blurred from the unshed tears in my eyes. I am still unable to articulate why my SL avatar resonates so strongly for me. I am unable to identify which particular aspects make the experience so powerful. I have tried to bring friends and coworkers into SL. I’ve failed. I introduce them to friends. To live music. To building. To the ability to hold business meetings simply. Many many things. (No, I didn’t try introducing them to Zindra. Was that the problem?) But to date I have failed to convince anyone to see it as I do.

I think that not only is there something in my eyes, but I think the view-finder has not yet been turned to the correct focus. At the moment the virtual world is beset by a storm about anonymity, pseudonymity and “real identity”. I tend toward seeing the pessimistic future and I fear that we, advocates for pseudonymity and anonymity, are going to lose this argument. But moving beyond this moment, I think that the business world has still not identified why it needs virtual worlds. Because of that lack of vision – the WHY – virtual worlds still lack the WHAT. I think we have the “HOW” – we can get there. Once we are there, however, there’s little to do. There’s no “HOW”. We need TOOLS in the virtual worlds. Those tools are coming. But not fast enough and not “sexy” enough. We need tools that allow our avatars to do that which our organic bodies do: easy note taking, modify the same objects (think whiteboards, sketching). Picture yourself in an organic conference room in a brainstorming, problem-solving session. Now, imagine your avatar doing the same thing. The trick here is that all of those tasks that are seamless in the organic world need to be as seamless in the virtual. So yes, there are whiteboard tools and there are ways to modify the same object, etc. But they are not seamless to the avatar experience. The business world and LL only thought to the point of getting people IN.

Not only are we lacking the tools, but there are not enough people being encouraged and supported to envision. I state quite clearly – I am NOT a visionary. I am the person who can get your vision done. But we NEED the people who will look at the conference room I described, will look at the work being done, look at virtual worlds, and make the leap that says: ah, because we are freed from the constraints of the physical world, we can visualize the problem THUSLY. I had the good fortune to work on a project with people who ARE visionaries. We began work on such a business application tool. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the backing (substitute “funding”) to keep working so that they had time to learn the virtual worlds sufficiently to make that quantum leap into hyperspace.

In her article, Gwyneth Llewelyn says:
However, I still think that LL (and not only Rod; he’s just starting to think like the rest) is working from a totally wrong assumption: that virtual worlds with user-generated content are somehow a mainstream product, if only “done right”, and that the trick is how to figure out to “do them right”. To be very honest — and you can check it up on my blog — I used to think like that as well. But the more time passes, the less likely I believe this is going to happen.
… I’m quite convinced these days that Second Life (and these days there is nothing else that compares with SL; I’m considering OpenSim to be just a variant of SL running under open source software, of course) is simply a niche product.

I’m sad to say that to a great extent, I agree. I think that SL/OpenSim is a tool, an environment. Now take that tool and customize it to what you need. Businesses need specific business tools, specific ways of manipulating data. Businesses need specific ways of interacting. Like the government, corporations have specific concerns that drive innovation. Think of how many inventions and every-day appliances we now have due to the government needing a tool. If business took virtual worlds seriously, used them, put the energy into adding tools and applications and seamless integration, virtual worlds would have a bigger niche. I believe that once such tools are there, other people will take them, bend them shake them and leap them into the future. As that happens, the niche expands to a mainstream product.

New Horizons: Shengri La Chamomile

The Saltwater House
You know I adore my friend Shenlei. She is a dynamo, never relaxing, never stopping, one brilliant creation after another. If I want to get to have playtime with her anymore, I practically have to kidnap her. *grin* I think I need to drop another “time-to-play-and-laugh-for-30-minutes” present on you, Shen. When last we saw our heroine – she’d just published a book. Okay, she topped that. She built 4 regions in Opensim. Yep. Four. Gorgeous, prim-full regions. /me grins happily. I have been there twice already, visiting, seeing the sights.

Resting on the deckFashion Research Institute, Inc. and Intel Labs announced their new research collaboration whose focus is exciting, quality content and optimized performance of the OpenSim platform which, together, will provide for an enhanced user experience. Maybe you don’t know how truly exciting this is. Maybe you don’t play in virtual worlds. Maybe you only play in SL. But as one who has been working in Opensim for the last several months – believe me. This is MAJOR. The efforts being made on Science Sim for both content and performance are huge. You know I am not a techie, I’m not really anyone who “knows” much. I am your typical end user. So what I say reflects the masses, not the cognoscenti. These sims are stunningly beautiful. Fascinating to visit. I think that we are looking at another major step in OS’s rise to fame and glory. *grin* Okay – maybe that was over the top. But since I am NOT technical, I do fall back on my liberal arts upbringing.

Quoting from Shenlei’s blog:
This collaboration is currently scheduled to run for a year, during which time FRI will provide increasingly complex, highly detailed, large scale (beautiful) designs which will be showcased in Science Sim with hosting and hardware provided by Intel Corporation.

We think it is important to have active human agency providing feedback to the technologists about the quality of the user experience. As fashion designers from the apparel industry, we think function should also be delivered with flair, and dare we say it, fashionably. With that in mind, we have begun developing the new Shengri La regions on Science Sim: Shengri La Chamomile, Shengri La Sage, Shengri La Thyme, and Shengri La Rosemary.

Sailing the Waters of ChamomileThere is a wonderful video on the front page of the FRI blog. It highlights the Chamomile region. The hauntingly beautiful music is by Kyle Bronsdon (who you may know as Kyle Beltran), and was composed specifically in honor of Shenlei and Shengri La.

The Horses of the GalleryAt the moment there are sailboats and gardens and landscaping and the stupendous Saltwater House. Also there or coming shortly are works by the FRI interns (hey – they are doing a fashion show in SL in 2 weeks – *grin* you know *I* will be there) and interactive butterfly displays and much more. There is also an art gallery coming, but I’m not allowed to say anything more about that. (Contact me in world – I can be bribed. *grin*) I snuck over and could not resist taking this picture of the grounds about the building. Opensim can be a beautiful space.

Getting Comfy

Oh, yeah, Opensim is starting to feel more like home. *grin* Major hugs and thanks to Natalya! And to Dz too!
Opensim boots1 open sim boots 2

Snapshots from Yesterday

This is NOT the post I intended for today. *grin* Now doesn’t that make me sound organized and thoughtful? As if I actually PLAN for my blog. :) I really really want to post about the Crown and Pearl. I had so much fun there last week. But yesterday was a real treat for me in the way of seeing friends. So often we only get to wave at friends in IM. Then you look up and realize it has been days since you actually talked. That’s why today’s post is a snapshot of my stolen moments with friends.

zazeks wingszazek and I so rarely get time to play. We have hunted Easter eggs together, visited AM Radio’s The Red and The Wild together. But mostly we only exchange a few words in IM and then one of us has to run. Last night we actually had time to talk, catch up on life. :) zazek is doing something that I can’t do. Even if I were capable of doing it – I probably would not be brave enough to do it. zazek began blogging a few weeks ago. “So?” you might ask. “Doesn’t EVERYONE blog these days?” Maybe. But zazek is not writing in her native language. I only know one language. I have a smattering of others but certainly no competency. Even if I KNEW another language well, I doubt I would be writing in it. So zazek has my great admiration and respect! Her blog is fun to read, too! *grin* Check it out for yourself.

torturing primsDark and I used to have time to dance and party and fly planes. Then somehow my schedule got totally out of control. We chatted periodically, but rarely ended up in the same SLURL. Yesterday we were chatting about building. I am still fairly intimidated by manipulating prims. I simply do not understand path cut and taper and shear. I know, I know – you all tell me to “try it, play, experiment”. I do not learn that way. I like having another human being nearby who can answer questions. Dark tp’d me to a sandbox to give me a quick introduction to torturing prims. *grin* I did my best – teasing a pink torus. But you can see that Dark REALLY knows how to torture prims. :) It was a quick start, but he’s promised we can do it again. YAY!!! Thank you, Dark!

welcome home OuraOura got home yesterday. *hugs* Welcome back, Oura. I missed you. We started in immediately on girl talk, catching up on the week’s events for us both. I told her about my escapades at work, trying to move my AO and boots and hair over to opensim. We started inventory diving – looking for any fullperm boots and clothing. LOL. We tried on some pretty amazing outfits. bearsI promised her I would NOT take pictures or blog, so you will simply have to imagine the wet T shirts that we found. Is that okay, Oura? Can they use their imaginations???? Oura also noticed that my bear either smokes or the room was excessively cold, causing breath condensation. :) Being in a silly mood, we somehow decided that the bear was indulging in a post activity cigarette. *grin* twinsSince none of the other bears were smoking, there is still some mystery here. We ended up standing on the bed, swapping freebie outfits, finally finishing the evening as twins.

I guess I haven’t mentioned work in the last few days. I’ve been involved with the usual building for the demos. We’ve been meeting with others trying to learn more about opensim and developing in virtual worlds. We’re making great progress, imho. We plan to begin demo’ing to folks next week. I’ve been attending meetings in a variety of virtual worlds. As you know, I really get tired of being “dweebie”. A friend wrote and gave me an AO that works in opensim, another friend taught me how to build my own AO in SL using the ZHAO. I bought poses and FINALLY understand (somewhat) what happens in my AO. Maybe I will finally have the courage to toss the 2 poses I dislike. :) I have different hair as well. life with an AO,hair and bootsI have been learning to wheel and deal with builders and scripters. I’ve also been friending coworkers and enjoying all the cool lectures and such that are available. Have I mentioned recently how much I enjoy my job? And now I even have boots and hair.

Ahuva, Landlord

right-this-way“My” opensim mall is ready for tenants. :) If ever there was a misuse of a pronoun, my first word is that misuse. “My” mall is not really mine, of course. It belongs to work, to my co-workers. Not only is it not mine, but I didn’t build it either. Let’s see…. for what CAN I take credit/blame? I picked where it would sit in the sim. I modified the original proposal, reducing the size. I solicited comments from the future tenants and passed those comments to the builder. I supplied the textures. (Well, we could actually say that isn’t true either. A dear friend GAVE me several textures, knowing for what they would be used, but said that we could have them free and clear. So I supply textures much as I build trees. With help!) And, of course, the color scheme is MINE!!!

ROFL. Yes – I proudly admit that the shopping-mallcolor scheme is mine. So there. I don’t CARE if you think it’s wrong. :) Mine, mine, mine. Some of you might actually recognize those colors. I used them in my dining room when I had the house repainted. IMHO, those are warm welcoming colors. *grin* Deal with it. (Hmmm, as I look at the picture I just added, I notice that some things look odd. The gray areas are signboards that have not yet been completed. But there seems to be something else wrong with the walls…. sigh. A landlord’s job is never done.)

We (the committee of three) were putting the finishing touches on the mall the other day, just before I posted the notice that vendors could come stake out a store. We put out balloons to welcome everyone. We put up signs to show violation-14-safety-hazardpeople the way from the entry point to the mall. We covered the pond in the middle so that people wouldn’t fall through. Oh my, did we have trouble with OSHA and the local code officer. /me sighs I considered bribing them, buying them off, but that is soooooooo against company policy. They objected to no railings, to failure to comply w/ ADA, lack of bathrooms, steps the wrong dimensions, lack of sprinklers….. You get the idea. I looked at them. I looked at the money sitting in my bank account. I looked at them checking off violation after violation. I did what any sensible landlord would do. I shot them! LOL Hey – this is MY fantasy world. I get to have a little fantasy here.

Anyway, after we had the building looking spiffed up and ready for prospective vendors, I took a few snapshots. anchor-store-still-availableI passed one of them to a friend who is a very good builder. She approved the build. But then she added that I “might want to find some colors that are a little different”. I started laughing and told her “I picked the textures”. She said “I’ll shut up now”. Ah, you never have to shut up. I’m a big girl. I can take it. And besides…. I did tell the vendors that they could change the inside colors. :) Of course, *I* don’t know why ANYONE would want a DIFFERENT color, but there you have it.

I don’t know what will happen with this mall concept. I think that most of the people in this opensim really don’t have time to do much in the way of being retailers. Not only that – everything is free. The wares are being “sold” for $0. The purpose is to add content and pleasantness to OS. I have 8 stores available but only 38% occupancy. Good thing that I don’t have to pay tier, or this mall would be closing for sure.

bedrock-steps-a-primitive-textureWhat’s my personal interest in all of this? (1) Learning. This process has made me much more interested in learning about textures and building. The mall needs railings and chairs and tables. I made the stairs and learned a lot about repeats of texture patterns. I also had to do some more terraforming. Now THAT is definitely an acquired skill. I need more practice for sure. :) (2) Friends. I love meeting new people. Jaymin – you are a joy! Thank you and thank you again. Not only are you kind and helpful and encouraging – you make me laugh. I enjoy your sense of humor immensely!! (3) I’m REALLY hoping that SOMEONE puts up a decent AO for ‘sale’. I simply cannot STAND how Summer walks. Sigh. This must be why everyone else chooses to fly. I don’t like flying. I like to walk. *grin* With the appropriate AO. AO, skin, hair, boots. In that order!!!!

Duet

ahuva-in-slYou know that Shenlei and I are good friends in SL. What you may not know is that now we are good friends outside of SL. :) In the atomic world, Shen is CEO of Fashion Research Institute, Inc. Shenlei has invested much effort into Opensim. This week she announced a major enhancement that will bring joy to residents of virtual worlds – the creation of the Message Bridge. The technical announcement can be found at Open Simulator Forge.

What exactly is the Message Bridge? It is a tool that enables someone in an opensim grid to chat with a resident of SL or another opensim grid. I’m lifting the following directly from Shen’s blog on this subject:
The Message Bridge is simple. One simple chatted command, and I’m connected to colleagues and friends in Second Life without breaking immersion in OpenSim. I can stay in touch, handle issues as they arise, and remain safely tucked away in our OpenSim doing real work. It’s a small advance in technology, but a huge social advance for people doing real work in OpenSim.

People who are working in OpenSim usually have roots in Second Life, and are likely to have business contacts and actual business in Second Life as well. It is a matter of business productivity and quality of the work environment that the two populations can communicate through messaging without breaking immersion. It’s not teleporting, it’s not asset sharing, but it is a critical component to supporting actual workers doing actual work in these virtual worlds. It lowers the barriers to doing business across worlds.

Kudos to Justincc, the lead developer on this project! Not only is Justincc wonderfully brilliant, he is a nice guy too. :)

So here is the proof folks: You can see Shenle in her opensim grid chatting with me working away in SL. Same chat, different worlds. Notice that while my chat box is the old familiar SL look, Shen’s chat identifies the grid for each user. :) You gotta love it.
shen-in-opensim


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