Mar 242015
 
Banner Should Be Here

Fantasy Faire 2015

Fantasy Faire 2015 is still a month away but I’m about to embark on three Fantasy Faire 2015 related posts. The first is with relation to the sims for Fantasy Faire 2015, which have this week been announced : Ten Shopping Sims Of Magic.

The sims are intended to be unique, but still part of the Fairelands as a whole. Some of the names of those who are involved with creating these sims are familiar to me and those who have attended previous Fantasy Faires.

Some of the names are of the wandering chief Elf variety, whom evil Drow Wizards may still be seeking.

Some of the names may be Dwarfin related superstars who paint a stunning landscape.

Together they make up the whole. The links take you to further details of each sim, including designers who will be displaying their wares on said sim and are subject to change as more designers are allocated their spots on sims for this year’s event. The list itself can also be found here : https://fantasyfairesl.wordpress.com/designers-2/

So let’s get to those details of the sims for this year’s event, with thanks to Sonya Marmurek for posting this information on the Fantasy Faire website.

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Mar 232015
 

Meeting Of Great Minds

The importance of a conference such as Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education should not be underestimated when it comes to putting virtual worlds on the map. Most of the chatter I’ve seen has, unsurprisingly, been about Ebbe Altberg’s keynote speech. Nalates Urriah has taken a very interesting and in depth look at Linden Lab’s nextgen virtual world based on this speech.

Meeting Of The Minds

Avataric looks at VWBPE from other perspectives, including how even in a virtual world being shy has its challenges as she braved being a host, as well as a participant, at the conference. There’s even an inworld/real world crossover with a husband hitting a wrong button. This wasn’t as painful as it may initially sound!

Beyond that the conference touches other parts of the virtual world sphere with links to OpenSim and Unity 3D demonstrating that education and virtual worlds are willing to tackle new technology when opportunity arises.

Vwbpetourutep

The conference also involved communities such as Chilbo and Seanchai making their mark in the education space. Interactive storytelling as a teaching tool is a development I’m eager to see progress, but Seanchai play an important role in bringing storytelling to new audiences full stop.

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Mar 232015
 
OnLive logo should be here

OnLive

SL Go from OnLive have today given the Firestorm Viewer team a major voted of confidence by announcing : Firestorm Mobile on SL Go! At first glance you may not think this is much of a vote of confidence, I mean after all Firestorm is already a choice for SL Go users when it comes to the desktop version of the app. However when it comes to mobile, there’s one glaring difference, choice is not an option :

OnLive is thrilled to announce today that due to overwhelming demand from our community of SL Go users, we are making the Firestorm Viewer available for mobile devices including Android and iOS. Due to current technical limitations, we are only able to offer one viewer for mobile devices. Our studies have shown that the SL Go community prefers the Firestorm Viewer, and now they can enjoy the same rich experience on their mobile devices.

Please note that desktop users will still be able to have a choice of whether they use Firestorm or the official Second Life client, but when it comes to the mobile version, all roads lead to Firestorm.

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Mar 212015
 

FFL Tokyo

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m not a fashionista, nor am I a fashionista’s son and I’m only blogging fashion until the fashionistas come. However the next week or so sees a large fashion event in Second Life, Fashion For Life.

FFL Paris

Fashion For Life is one of many events held within Second Life as part of the Relay For Life fundraising effort. This year’s event features some of the fashion hotspots outside of the virtual world, with sims based on Berlin, London, Los Angeles, Milan, New York, Paris and Tokyo.

FFL New York City

On top of this there are two sims dedicated to events and fashion shows. Central Park North is the entertainment venue and Central Park South is the fashion show venue.

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Mar 212015
 

Taking a Photo on SL GO

These days I use SL Go from OnLive a lot when engaging with Second Life. However some days I like to just fire up a local client, there are things SL Go can’t do. Unfortunately I had decided to install the latest AMD Catalyst drivers quite some time ago and this does not play nicely with rigged mesh in Second Life.

This is explained in Jira Bug-7653 : AMD Catalyst 14.12 Release ( plus 14.9.2, 14.11.1, 14.11.2 Beta) drivers will not render rigged mesh unless hardware skinning is disabled.

AMD Driver Problem

Well usually it doesn’t matter too much, others can see me ok if they aren’t using these drivers and it’s amusing to watch my beard conquer the Second Life world. However today, Inara Pey brought news of a fix in the works from AMD : AMD’s Catalyst™ 15.3 beta driver offers SL mesh fix.

Inara’s post points to the release notes for these beta drivers, which includes the following in the Resolved Issues section :

[413076] Second Life : Rigged mesh objects are not rendered correctly when hardware skinning is enabled in the in game settings.

Second Life isn’t the only platform mentioned, there are fixes for Star Trek Online, Total War : Attilla and The Elder Scrolls V – Skyrim as well.

However, buoyed by this news regarding Second Life, I decided to give it a whirl and delve into the murky world of installing beta drivers.

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Mar 202015
 

Unfortunately I did not get to see Oz Linden live at VWBPE 2015 this evening, which was disappointing because I wanted to see this discussion, alas I had to go shopping and then got into family matters, which changed all my plans.

However over at the VWBPE website there is a small part of Oz’s appearance where he answers questions. This video is not the full appearance of Oz the Great and Powerful, you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for that. However it contains enough information for us to take a look at the sort of challenges educators using Second Life face compared to individuals. However don’t think that the information does not apply to people who aren’t educators, there’s interesting news of developments for all here.

One of the questions Oz got asked was whether or not screen sharing would ever be available in the Second Life viewer. Oz’s answer was a very sensible one. Oz pointed out that screen sharing is an area whereby other people have already developed solutions, and those solutions work well. Oz said that he himself will use applications such as Skype to share his screen with other people to look at bugs, new features etc.

That’s a very fair point and sometimes we overlook the fact that there are other applications dealing with matters very well that will work with Second Life.

However as an example of the fact that not all apps that do something well work with the Second Life viewer, a rather fascinating issue was raised. Someone pointed out that the Second Life viewer accepts typed Chinese characters, there’s a Google App (which wasn’t named) that allows people to speak Chinese and then that spoken word is entered into a document or a browser, so we’re probably talking about a speech to text app. However that app does not work with the Second Life viewer, if it did students would be able to interact with NPC’s in Chinese.

Oz was totally honest and admitted that he wasn’t familiar with the app, so therefore he didn’t know how it injected characters. However he says that he could not think of an architectural reason as to why it doesn’t work, but there is one extremely big problem in terms of Oz looking at this, he can’t speak Chinese.

However we then saw an example of how Linden Lab’s community can assist, Oz suggested that this may be something he could put on a list for Open Source developers to take a look at because there’s more likely to be an Open Source dev who can speak Chinese than there is a person at Linden Lab who can speak Chinese and work on the problem.

The question of education pricing was raised and Oz, honest again, replied that this really wasn’t an area he could discuss as it wasn’t within his remit. However he did point out that Ebbe Altberg had touched upon pricing in his keynote speech.

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Mar 192015
 

Clouds

The photogenic spots of the Destination Guide led me to Wizardhat Studios. Aha I thought, a place for Wizards to perform wizardry. That wasn’t quite what I found. However I did find a magical landscape of stray clouds, wild animals and a walking tree…. I’m not making this up!

Deer

The sim is a mixture of beautiful woodlands in which avatars roam in animal garb and a coastline with crashing waves.

Scenic Views

Scattered around the sim lie buildings, which do look like they’d make a good home for wizards.

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Mar 182015
 

Ebbe Altberg at VWBPE 2015

I’m afraid you’re going to have to remove your weapon.” the woman told me.

I’m a Dwarfin King, a King! Do you understand me?” I replied.

Don’t take that tone with me or I’ll have to ask you to stand outside the room.” the woman sternly replied.

I bowed my head and removed my sceptre. Yes, the educators are in town and Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education 2015 has officially opened with a barnstorming speech from Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg.

VWBPE Stage

Now if you’re looking for a transcript, I’m sorry but I’m not going to provide one. I’m not a big fan of transcripts, but more importantly, my notecard was eaten halfway through so I lost all my notes! However thanks to the power of my memory (this might not end well) and Daniel Voyager’s Twitter stream I may be able to provide some information. An important thing to note is that Ebbe Altberg’s speech may have been aimed at educators but it was extremely relevant to virtual world fans of all types as he delved into the future of Linden Lab’s top secret, but so far unnamed (other than being not Second Life 2.0) virtual world.

VWBPE Rest Area

Ok so the bombshell news, the nextgen virtual world from Linden Lab will have an age rating of 13+. Now before we all panic too much, Ebbe pointed out that legally there’s really no difference between a 16+virtual world and a 13+ virtual world.

Another bombshell for those looking forward to getting an early look at Linden Lab’s nextgen virtual world is that initially Linden Lab will be hand picking participants and they will be looking for participants who know Autodesk Maya and can create experiences for Virtual Reality and a PC platform.

Concerns were raised as to why Linden Lab were looking for people with skills in what is a rather expensive piece of software, rather than an open source product such as Blender. Ebbe assured people that they will be looking for the nextgen virtual world to be open to many different creation products, but for the early testing, they want people with Maya skills.

iSkye Silverweb at VWBPE 2015

In terms of costs, Ebbe is looking to lower land costs and increase sales taxes in the new platform. Linden Lab are spending a decent amount of time trying to find the ideal balance here, although it’s much harder to change the balance for Second Life than it is for the nextgen platform.

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Mar 182015
 

Million Dollar House

The above platform is described as :

Suburban Seastead, Virtual Property (Futuristic throwback), Second Life. Price: $1 Million Linden (most recent exchange value in U.S. dollars accepted). Will not last long. This impressive monument to housing everywhere is single-handedly responsible for upholding the impressive home values of this neighborhood. Calling it a house does not do it justice, mostly because it is in fact a giant virtual platform, situated in the ocean right off the coast of a fantastic and family friendly suburb.

The build is the work of artist Andreas Angelidakis and is part of an Intangibles collection for The Walker Art Gallery in Minneapolis. The build appears to be a somewhat tongue in cheek sale :

Greek architect Andreas Angelidakis is not serious unless YOU are serious and his agent’s motivation can only be described as “cautiously optimistic.”

I stumbled across this via an article in the New York Times by Melena Ryzik : For the Walker Art Center, a Shop That Peddles Evanescence. The article is in some ways odd, especially the part about Second Life :

But the rules of Second Life mean that buyers cannot simply enter the house; Mr. Angelidakis has to log on to show them around. “It’s almost like being a real estate agent,” he said, albeit for “an object and a price that is virtual even to the Internet.”

If you want to buy the item inworld, then you can buy it now, it’s set for sale, although I would certainly advise anyone to have a serious look at it before taking such a large plunge!

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Mar 172015
 

James Poulos of The Daily Beast has published an article : How Block Bot Could Save the Internet. The article pains me, deeply, on many levels. First of all it pains me to see a journalist advocating such a system :

Meet The Block Bot, an invention of the social-justice left that allows people to automatically screen out disliked content and disliked people from Twitter. The Block Bot comes complete with a helpful hierarchy of disapproval, ranging from mere irritation to bigotry in the first degree. Some people who have been added to The Block Bot’s rolls have been offended, of course. But in addition to muting offense, The Block Bot dissipates rancor.

When I was a lad and I used to buy newspapers I’d regularly buy The Daily Mirror and Daily Mail. The Mirror is a left wing newspaper, The Mail is a right wing newspaper. Some days if I felt in the mood for a really good read, I’d buy The Guardian and The Times. The Guardian generally leans left, The Times generally leans right. Politically I’m on the left, however sometimes the right will say something I agree with. The idea that I should shut out any and all other ideology is completely against my beliefs and I simply don’t see it as healthy.

My big objection to blockbots are, for want of a better word, McCartyhist style guilt by association and allowing others to think for me. I say for want of a better word because McCarthyism was a far more serious issue than this and I don’t like appearing to belittle it by comparing it to some silly nonsense on the internet. However guilt by association is not something I can buy into on any level.

How silly people can get with their dogma was exemplified in horrendous style recently by Ben Kuchera of Polygon. Ben objected to EA head of communications Chris Mancil linking to a post of Ben’s on Chris’ personal blog. Ben’s objection was due to Chris’ post being critical of blockbots, even though in his post he agreed with Ben :

I had heard about these Twitter Auto-Blockers before, and thought the use of these tools to be extremely sad.

  • One – because there are no proper harassment protection tools on Twitter, which Polygon’s Ben Kuchera has ingeniously identified the solutions for in this great piece. Which makes these tactics thinkable.

  • Two – because these auto-blocker tactics leave no hope for change or progress. It’s the cement walls of the West Bank and Gaza, forever dividing the two groups which probably have more in common than not.

Ben Kuchera took to Twitter, tagging Chris Mancil’s employer, to demand the links were removed. Let’s just rewind here, a journalist took to Twitter to demand someone removed links to his work because he didn’t like someone agreeing with him in a post. I lost a lot of respect for Ben Kuchera over this.

There were parts of Chris’ post that were objectionable, a glaring example being comparing these blockbots to the issues in the West Bank, which is quite frankly a ridiculous comparison, but for Ben Kuchera to object to the degree he did was also absurd. The end result is that Chris Mancil’s blog is now set to private. As a journalist Ben Kuchera should be embarrassed about this.

However, let’s not kid ourselves here, the reason people turn to these blockbots is more often than not because they are fed up with being dogpiled and abused for having the temerity to have an opinion.

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