Friday, December 28, 2007

OpenSim update

Things are looking up at OpenSim land. Of course, it's not finished by a long shot, but a couple of painful issues have been solved recently. Most notably: OpenSim now remembers avatar settings between sessions. This means clothing, body shape etcetera are now persistent. That's a huge win, and I've noticed my kids are much more eager to use OpenSim because of this. They are also starting to customize their avatar now that these modifications are automatically persistent.

My kids are happily building stuff and houses; I try to teach them a new trick every now and then, to keep them involved. So far this seems to work. Check out the last pictures in this set for some of their recent work!

I have provided a teacher at my daughters' school with a couple of logins; he's thinking about using my OpenSim environment as a part of the computer training all kids receive. Unfortunately, his home PC is not able to run SL, so we'll have to wait until he's back at school after the holiday break.

HTML allowed in Second Life postcards

Ok, this may look like a trivial thing, or something you have known for ages, *duh*! But I could not find this information online. It's just not mentioned anywhere. At least not where I could find it! So, to clear this thing up once and for all: yes, you can use HTML code in the message body of a Second Life postcard!

...Phew! Yes, much better, thank you, thanks for asking!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Köln closed

After admiring the Sistine Chapel and, earlier, the San Francesco Assisi, I went looking for more rebuilds of churches, cathedrals and the like. I found this one, the Dom from Köln (Germany), but unfortunately the thing is open only two hours a day. I don't know what their reasons are for doing this, but I think it's quite lousy. Even though the project itself looks impressive!

posted by Sered Woollahra on Visit using a blogHUD : [permalink]

seeing the Sistine Chapel from Michelangelo's perspective

I visited the RL Sistine Chapel a few months ago. But, of course, you only get to see it from one perspective: from the floor. This build however allows you to see the Chapel like Michelangelo saw it when he was working on it: from above, up close.

SL allows us to view this art in ways that would be impossible in RL!

posted by Sered Woollahra on Vassar using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Recently I've read a lot about Second Life numbers. For instance, there are over 11,5 million accounts created; there is still 10 percent user retention, and SL seems to plateau at 538 K active users.

I have been thinking about that last number: 538.o00 active users. An active user is someone who has spent 45 hours in SL in the past month.

45 hours? That's quite a lot! Personally, wether I'd want it or not, I would be hard pressed to find 45 hours in any given month to spend online. I have a fulltime job, a wife and children to spend time with, volunteer activities in our local community, spend a few hours on my mountainbike to stay at least a bit in shape. I'm lucky if I can spend 20 hours online, and there are months where I can barely log 10 SL hours.

So, maybe I'm not an active user after all. But this does not mean I'm not there, interested, reading up, and buying stuff in SL. I am also the sole SL resident in my entire family and extended circle of friends - and most of my colleagues, as well.

Maybe 45 hours is a bit on the steep side for the many people who've got just too much other RL stuff going on. There are probably plenty people who consider themselves active SL residents, like me, but are not counted among the 538.000 'officially' active users.


IBM may not have the reputation to be the hippest of big IT, but it's a dynamic place nonetheless. Because of my day job I am closely monitoring IBM, and they've made a couple of surprising statements recently.

At my day job, we're using Lotus Connections - a corporate version of social software tools like Facebook, Hyves or LinkedIn. Think Facebook within the firewall. It has profiles, blogs, shared bookmarks (called DogEar), communities and activities, a kind of (shared) todo's on steroids. We're also using IBM Lotus Sametime, IBM's corporate, secure Instant Messaging and web conferencing application. Recently, I have picked up several articles that point to a 3D future for IBM Lotus Connections, integrated with Sametime.

The first one is this eweek article: "The mashing of Virtual Reality, Social Computing". It tells how IBM Lotus engineers are working on ways to get data from Connections in a 3D environment. Your avatar would show data from your profile, for instance.

Another article discusses IBM's own 3D software: "IBM gulps it's own web 2.0 kool aid": IBM is apparently working on a 3D platform of their own, called Metaverse. It's currently being tested by 2200 IBM internal staff, and it's mostly used for web conferencing activities. IBM is looking at integrating Sametime with Metaverse, which would provide VOIP services in world, much like Second Life has.

So, is IBM creating an enterprise alternative for SL, like Connections is to Facebook or MySpace? I'm not so sure. IBM is actively participating in OpenSim development; limited, but official. And, in october of this year, they inked a deal with SL's Linden Labs to work towards open standards and interoperability for 3D environments. IBM is, at this moment, not betting on one horse it seems. Maybe IBM will tell us more at LotuSphere, the big annual IBM Lotus conference in Orlando, Florida, which will take place in January 2008.

In the mean time, IBM's Jo Grant posted some interesting thoughts on integrating Second Life with other software - IM or otherwise. He makes a couple of valid points: first, a 3D environment may not be the most suitable for all activities, and second, easier methods to integrate SL in other software (Lotus Notes, AOL chat are the examples used) would be beneficial to both Linden Labs and SL residents. Read the whole thing, as the saying goes.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

her present - in SL and RL

Yesterday I noticed this Starfruit shop. They sell virtual presents, which can be delivered in RL as well. For instance, you buy a lady a virtual necklace and she gets the present in SL. When she clicks on it, she's given the opportunity to go to a RL website, enter her address, and have a RL copy of the same necklace delivered home. You don't get nor need to know her RL address. And she gets to wear the necklace both in SL and RL! They do this for other stuff as well, and they deliver in many countries.

I was served by Greygar Gibbs; he's even selling on a saturday night. Let's keep him occupied :-)
btw, I have no ties to this company or anyone working there.

posted by Sered Woollahra on Starfruit using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Windlight Redlight?

Does anyone know why I keep seeing certain images all red, when watching them through Windlight? Are there workarounds? grapichs card is ATI X300..
posted by Sered Woollahra on Vassar using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Another view of the Sistine Chapel

Most people never get to see this in RL. And if you do, you're not allowed to take pictures. It's good to be able to view in in SL!
posted by Sered Woollahra on Vassar using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Friday, December 21, 2007

after the synagogue, here's the church (2nd try)

This is actually a nice build. Lots of pews though. I wonder how many people visit these church services - and what is taught there.
posted by Sered Woollahra on Truth using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Linden snowball island

It looks like an iceberg, and in some respects, it is exactly that!
posted by Sered Woollahra on Kovari using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Cannery Rezzable - the last one..

..for today. You know, large parts of SL are made to look like a Caribbean island. Cannery definitely does away with that fake tropical atmosphere. Somehow, this sim reminds me of William Gibson..
posted by Sered Woollahra on Cannery Rezzable using a blogHUD : [permalink]

more art at Cannery Rezzable

More from Cannery Rezzable. Dark, industrial, smudgy, a worn out and weary feeling environment. But very beautiful!
posted by Sered Woollahra on Cannery Rezzable using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Thursday, December 6, 2007

ABM AMRO stock market analysis

This is a meeting organized by ABN AMRO, one in a series on current events in the stock markets. ABN seems to be satisfied with the format, although it depends on an evaluation of 2007 to determine how this will be done in 2008. It's Dutch spoken, and given that, I'd say there's a nicely sized crowd here. btw, this is the third pic, but the first one seems to be gone - hence another try.
posted by Sered Woollahra on ABN AMRO 2007b using a blogHUD : [permalink]

another one from ABN AMRO Analyst meeting

ps. The red glow comes from Windlight, with the normal viewer it looks perfectly ok..

Sunday, December 2, 2007

fossils at Svarga

Even with my no longer supported hardware, Windlight is worth a try, as you can see at Svarga.

posted by Sered Woollahra on Svarga using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Friday, November 30, 2007

Not supported :-(

Until earlier today, I had a fairly up to date IBM laptop, with plenty RAM, a reasonable CPU and such - at least that's what I thought. It got a bit stale recently, but overall it did the job. But as of this moment, my trusted T43 laptop is officially designated 'old'.

Why, do you ask? I installed todays' update to Second Life Windlight, version And for the first time since I got this laptop, an installer told me that my hardware was no longer supported. Not good enough. Not fast enough. Not capable. In short..Old. It said I could of course try to install and run the SL Windlight viewer, but I would experience lag and other malfunctions. And lag I did experience, even in an almost empty sim.

I have talked to our hardware guys about this laptop, as I said it did get a bit stale recently. But this is proof positive that I am really lagging in hardware upgrades..

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

more Windlight reflections at Bug Island

more Windlight reflections at Bug Island
posted by Sered Woollahra on Bug Island using a blogHUD : [permalink]

this shiny test reminds me..

..of a real life office building. The difference: this thing is warped on the outside, at that office the warped things work inside :-)
posted by Sered Woollahra on Bug Island using a blogHUD : [permalink]

an army of pacmans

This army of pacmans is another windlight test, for the bump mapping and shiny part. Again the results on my screen differ considerably from what I should see according to the accompanying hud.
posted by Sered Woollahra on Bug Island using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Torley's windlight test

Vint Falken proposed a Windlight test for different graphics cards; today Torley Linden appears to have such a setup ready. Here I am testing with different settings. The results are not all ok: the live view and the hud screenshot should be identical, and it appears they are not. At least not for the midnight setting. I'm still testing the rest.
posted by Sered Woollahra on Bug Island using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

San Francesco Assisi, detail

yesterday I posted a pic of the outside of this church build, but be sure to view the inside as well. Rich in detail; it must have cost a lot of effort to bring this together.

posted by Sered Woollahra on san francesco assisi using a blogHUD : [permalink]

San Francesco Assisi

..what an amazing build! A must see, rightly mentioned in todays' NWN article "The Best of Second Life's Ten Best of Second Life".
posted by Sered Woollahra on san francesco assisi using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Friday, November 23, 2007

Games booming business in The Netherlands

This news today captured my attention: "Nederlandse Gamesindustrie groter dan filmbranche", which means: in The Netherlands, games are bigger than movies - in some respects. The article cites the chairman of the Dutch gaming industry organization NLGD, who claims that, in 2007, the game industry will employ over 1500 people and have an annual turnover of an estimated one billion dollars - more than the Dutch movie industry.

Of course, the Dutch movie industry isn't exactly Hollywood, but it's still significant when something new overtakes the old, isn't it?

What makes this really interesting from my point of view however, is that it's especially the 'serious games' (training, simulation, education) that do well; they create most of this economic activity. One of the biggest universities of The Netherlands, the University of Utrecht, created the "center for advanced gaming and simulation" (English site), in a joint partnership with the Utrecht School of the Arts and TNO.

This looks very promising for anyone with an interest in virtual worlds and their usability in business or work situations. Especially the work of the center at Utrecht University looks promising. I wonder when they''ll have an event in Second Life..?

enjoying the afternoon sun

I built a little perch up in the sky, to be able to enjoy the afternoon sun. Nice view, I really like Windlight. I ran OnRez and Windlight together to be able to really compare, and once you've done that, you'll never return to the old viewer!

You know what was eerie? Yesterday I watched the moon rise here, between the scattered clouds. Beautiful! After logging off, I went out for a smoke, looked up at the RL sky and it looked almost identical!

posted by Sered Woollahra on Timandra using a blogHUD : [permalink]

I think I'll like it here

I haven't owned any land for quite some time, but as the stipend Lindens kept coming in, I felt it was time for a small investment. So now I own a nice small plot of land, next to a Linden owned waterway, with a view of the ocean nearby. Nice sunsets here, too.. I think I'll like it here.
posted by Sered Woollahra on Timandra using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Thursday, November 22, 2007

something wrong - redux

Todays' first experiments with Windlight atmosphere shaders didn't turn out well, as an earlier post revealed. A search of the jira bugtracker for RADEON ATI X300 pointed me in the right direction: I might need a driver update. So I installed the latest Catalyst stuff for that card, and sure enough, atmosphere shaders now work flawlessly. Second Life sure can look pretty with Windlight fully enabled!

For others suffering from this issue, here's the JIRA reference:

posted by Sered Woollahra on caLLiefornia using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Sundown at Ciuso Prime

I've been wayyy to busy recently, almost no time to blog - but I had to try out the new Windlight viewer. Looks nice, although, as you can see at the previous post, I do have problems with atmospheric shaders enabled. It gives the world a funky color - not exactly what's intended, I think! But the water and lights effects are great, both in SL and in OpenSim.

Something wrong...

I just started playing around with todays' version of the Windlight first look viewer. After enabling atmospheric shading, this is how the world looks. I must be doing something wrong :-)

posted by Sered Woollahra on Dulce Dal Mare using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Much more OpenSim testing

Every day, several new revisions of OpenSim are committed to the subversion repository. Bugs are fixed, new directions are discussed during office hours or on IRC; there's limited but official involvement from IBM, and obviously Linden Labs is aware of Opensim, and talking with OpenSim people too. Things are happening, and much progress is made.

This wouldn't be surprising if Opensim were carried by an active community of dozens or hundreds of developers. But if you check out the project stats, it's really quite a limited group who's actively contributing code. They are doing a good job and deserve some public praise.

So, here's to the opensim developers!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Technorati Trouble

A quick note .. yesterday I found out that Technorati hasn't updated my blog for the last 22 days, despite manual pings etcetera. My other blogs are fine, but this one isn't. Working on it..

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Onrez viewer - first experiences (and some screenshots)

A couple of minutes ago, I've downloaded and installed the OnRez viewer. I must say, I'm inpressed with what I've seen so far. For instance, it looks cleaner and more tight when compared to the normal SL client (wich I will call the LL client, as of now). At first sight, OnRez looks much more intuitive than the LL client as well.

I've tried it on Second Life, and on my OpenSim install, and both seem to work ok. At that time, OnRez was using around 120 MB of RAM. Then, I started the LL client in order to compare the two, both usage and memory wise. All over sudden, the memory usage for OnRez dropped to 16 MB, and the waves turned funky.. after I quit the LL client, and restarted OnRez, all was back to normal.

Might have been a bug, though, because when restarting OnRez, I got an upgrade notification for a newer version! That was fast :-)

A couple of screenshots of my OnRez viewer can be found here.

Monday, October 22, 2007

OpenSim update

I've been quite busy working on a couple of OpenSim installs, one at home behind the firewall, and another one at a cheap hosted environment. Both installs run on Linux: one on CentOS (see my installation adventures here) and one on Fedora Core. Fedore proved to be the bigger challenge, because that one runs at the hosted environment. Their default install of Fedora does not include any development tools, so I had to download and install several packages (mono, nant, a whole lot of libraries and stuff) in order to be able to compile and run a mono based opensim environment. Maybe we should work on a comprehensive overview of what's needed in such an environment!

In the mean time, I've got the hang of downloading the code, installing and running the stuff, both in standalone and in grid mode. But, I think it's too early yet to allow others to use the environment. A teacher at my daughters' school has expressed interest in using my sim for educational purposes, and it's something I very much would like to do, but there's a couple of issues that may need to be solved before we're ready for that.

One of the most important issues in my opinion, is the lack of persistence in avatar customization, inbetween sessions. Every time you login to an opensim environment, you're reset to the default avatar - Ruth, a female. You can create new bodyparts and clothing, and you can wear those too, but once you logout, those modifications are (partly) gone. The next time you login, you have to go into your inventory and reselect the bodyparts and clothing you want to wear.

In grid mode, I have not been able to store new items in my inventory at all. Only the default inventory items are stored in the MySQL database, nothing new gets added. For a user, there is no inventory persistence in grid mode, it seems.

Another issue: customizations in terrain are not persistent between server reboots. Somehow, every time I restart the server, the terrain is reset to a relatively small flat pancake island. I've been experimenting with larger islands, and modified terrain, but I haven't been able to make much progress there - yet.

The good news is, these are known issues, and several of them are being worked on for the next release, 0.5. Remember, OpenSim is still alpha software which is being built by volunteers, so we can't and shouldn't expect everything to work. Tomorrow, I hope to take a look at the OpenSim Office hours, where OpenSim development will be discussed. That should be interesting.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

virtual synagogue

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Rome; we also visited the Grand Synagogue there, in the original 'ghetto'. I wondered if there would be synagogues in SL too? The answer of course, is yes. Btw, I am not really doing much in SL lately; I've been busy building my own OpenSim world for my kids :-)
posted by Sered Woollahra on IR SHALOM using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The nail on the head

A year ago, when Second Life became a hype, many companies went there as fast as they could, put up big impressive buildings - and then nothing happened. Some of them pulled out again, others evaluated the failures and learned some valuable lessons. As did Cisco:

It turned out people wanted to log on to Second Life to hang out with friends and play casual games, not visit a 3-D version of a corporate Web site.


“Two or three months in we bulldozed everything we’d done. It’s now a place for meetings (with customers and employees) rather than repurposed Web content,” Renaud said. “If I can have an intimate talk with 50 people a week, man, I’ve won the lottery.”

As they say.. read the whole thing. And learn from it ;-)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

IBM to partner with Linden Labs

Now here's some important and very welcome news: today, IBM and Linden Labs announced a partnership. The two companies intend to work on some areas of key importance. Here's a very short list:
  • avatar interoperability: take (some) properties of your avatar (e.g. assets, name, identity certificates and more) from one virtual world to another
  • integration with existing business processes: existing business applications and data repositories should be able to interact with virtual worlds
  • secure transactions - in and across worlds
  • open standards for interoperability with the current world wide web
This partnership may, in time, prove to be a breakthrough, if IBM and Linden Labs succeed in getting other worlds and platforms on board as well. Let's hope they do.

But in the mean time, read the whole thing!

Update: read the official IBM Announcement as well.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

RL interference part II

Again, RL is interfering with SL activities. There will be no posts until sometime mid next week. Until then, I'm going to spend some days exploring one of the roots of our RL civilization, in a mediterranean setting. Guess the destination ;-)

Monday, October 1, 2007

Synchronicity - when and where

My employers' website has been IM enabled for quite some time. You can chat with one of the CEO's, the commercial director, sales people and the front office desk (the reception), if they are online. This means that we offer an element of synchronous communication in a generally asynchronous environment, the 2D world wide web.

Recently, I asked my colleagues what their experiences with being online on the website are. It seems that while there is a lot of useless chatter, and even, incidentally, some harassment towards the sales ladies, there are also useful contacts. In some cases, these have resulted in actual sales, but not much. But, as it has been very positive for our image in the marketplace as an innovative company (there are not many CEO's online like ours), it's still a positive experience.

From asynchronous to synchronous, from 1-1 to 1-many
Written communications seem to move from asynchronous to synchronous at an ever higher pace. In the business environment, we moved from paper and snailmail, via email, to instant messaging in a couple of decades. There is another shift under way: from 'one to one' communications, to 'one to many'; from a personal letter, to a phone call, to group email, to online meetings, blogs and more recently applications like Twitter, which can be used to tell the whole world what you're doing in "140 characters or less". Broadcasting one's thoughts or opinions is easier than ever.

The 3D fit
In my opinion, the advent of 3D environments fits in with these developments. The 3D environment begs for synchronicity, as it were. I have spent quite some time in Second Life; the most rewarding and useful hours have been, those, where I interacted with other people. IBM briefings and meetings, blogger meetings, the people you meet incidentally at sites of mutual interest: these encounters offer something that's not easily repeatable in the 2D world wide web. Chat rooms and online meeting rooms may offer the same basic functionality (communicate with n people at the same moment), yet it cannot be compared with a 3D immersive experience. Viewed like this, environments like Second Life really belong in the "social software" world.

IBM virtual business office
IBM seems to be aware of this. They have had a Virtual Business center in SL for a few months now, which is being staffed by RL people. I have been over there for a couple of times, and twice there was someone there, indeed; unfortunately, both times these avatars were 'away'. Apparently, it's possible to summon them back to life by pressing a nearby button, but I have not attempted that, not having a real need to buy something from IBM at the time :-)

Associated cost
But it does point out an interesting difference between "being online on a website" and "being online in Second Life". For my colleagues who are supposed to be online on our website, no extra effort or time is required. When they logon to our internal IM infrastructure, they are automatically online on the website, as well. They can continue to work, without having to spend time or effort on "being online". There's almost no visible cost, but it brings positive PR (the CEO is online, which keeps surprising people) and even some sales.

What if we would require them to be online on a Second Life site? This would definitely require more time and more energy, and would result in far more visible direct costs. The return on investment would have to be substantially, in order to justify these costs. I don't see that happening anytime soon, not on the scale and size of companies like the one I work for.

At this time, I think the best way to make use of the synchronous communication advantage of a 3D environment, is by concentrating the in world presence. For instance, be there at published, fixed hours, like the recruiters of a bank I am aware of. Or, have targeted meetings for your (prospective) customers at, again, published, fixed hours. One other bank has investors' meetings every two weeks at thursday night, chaired by someone on the CxO level; they are actively trying to foster a community around these meetings.

Early Adopters mistake..
During the Second Life boomlet at the end of 2006, early 2007, many a company built an in world presence, only to be disappointed later on when almost no one came to visit them. Perhaps, some of these companies jumped the SL bandwagon without really thinking about what the differences between 2D and 3D presences are. Static content and asynchronous communication is fine on a 2D website, and for many purposes it's perhaps the best medium. But a 3D environment like Second Life asks for synchronicity, community and activities. Now there's a couple of buzz words to think about!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Building with my daughter on our OpenSim

This is me and my eight year old, building on our OpenSim island:

She's enjoying it quite a lot, and learning fast as well. This object below her first build - I admit, I helped her with positioning the roof, the rest is her own work!

We're having fun as you can see, but we're also noticing the limits of this opensim alpha build. I had a client crash when saving a new outfit, and we have to select our clothing and body shape each time we login. But hey, it's alpha, I'm not complaining!

RL air traffic in SL

This is the US West Coast as recreated at the Daden Prime build. It shows RL air traffic (to or from LAX) in SL. A nice example of RL data mining! It's a bit similar to the way IBM did Wimbledon; they gathered RL game data at the tennis court (using high speed cameras) and used that data to plot the course of the ball at a virtual tennis court in SL. A RL tennis game in SL with a couple of seconds delay.
posted by Sered Woollahra on Daden Prime using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Installing OpenSim 0.4 on CentOS 5 (updated 06-02-2008)

This weekend, I had the pleasure of installing OpenSim 0.4 on CentOs 5. The OpenSim project wiki has a page on installing OpenSim, which helped me on the way. But it wasn't complete enough for my taste, so here's my experiences. Enjoy!

Install Mono
First off, it was clear I needed to install Mono, even though the Opensim wiki page only mentions this for Mac OSX. For installing Mono on CentOS, I found a howto here: "Installing Mono on CentOS 5". The first thing was easy: get the latest build with wget.
# wget
# wget
# wget
Next, after bunzipping, tar -xvf etcetera, I installed Mono using the instructions linked above, like this:
# ./configure --prefix=/<installed_path>/mono
# make
# make install
Based on instructions found here I also modified my .bashrc file, and added these parameters:
export PATH=/bin:$PATH
export MANPATH=/
At this point, I was not able yet to correctly compile and install the OpenSim software. Without any clear error, NAnt didn't do what it was supposed to do. I decided to download and install Nant. The OpenSim wiki page doesn't specify this as a separate task, but I had to do it nonetheless. Again, after downloading and unzipping I executed this trinity:

# ./configure --prefix=/<installed_path>/nant
# make
# make install

After this, I was able to successfully install OpenSim itself using the commands on the OpenSim install page; but because Nant wasn't anywhere in my PATH, I had to execute them like this:

# cd opensim
# ./
# ./

I could have fixed the path, but figured that could wait until later. This worked, in any case, so I proceeded to start OpenSim.exe for the first time. Initially that seemed to work, the console logging looked good, but then I hit this snag:

Failed generating terrain map: System.TypeInitializationException: An exception was thrown by the type initializer for System.Drawing.GDIPlus ---> System.DllNotFoundException: gdiplus.dll

According to the OpenSim troubleshooting page, which is called "slightly outdated" by the site maintainers, this problem is caused by incorrect versions of software on the operating system level. It was suggested to include 'unstable' packages when updating the system, as to get the newest versions. This didn't seem such a good idea, as the stability of my system is quite important to me. However, I did update or install some tools with these Yum commands, as suggested on a related website:

#yum install glib*
#yum install libtiff-devel.i386
#yum install libjpeg-devel.i386
#yum install libpng-devel.i386
#yum install giflib-devel.i386
#yum install libexif-devel.i386
#yum install libX11-devel.i386
#yum install fontconfig-devel.i386
#yum install freetype-devel.i386
#yum install libtiff-devel.i386
#yum groupinstall "Development Tools"

This didn't help. I poked around the internet for a while, and then decided to do the thing I should have done in the first place. The error says it can't find a dll, so I decided to check if the darn thing is indeed missing! It turns out it is indeed not there, and I should have installed libgdiplus ( together with Mono. I retrieved libgdiplus from this mono project page and again, I executed the configure - make - make install trilogy. Also, I didn't forget to modify the LD_LIBRARY_PATH statement in .bashrc to point to the correct install path for libgdiplus.

After that, OpenSim started just fine. I was able to run OpenSim in standalone mode, and we were able to connect to the thing.

Some useful configuration data is in this file:


It contains the sim name, master avatar username and password, ip addresses, ports and stuff like that. Handy in the first stages of configuration and running OpenSim. According to this blogpost it's possible to run multiple regions on one OpenSim installation by cloning and then modifying this default.xml page. Haven't tested that, though!

Next up: I'm going to try to run in grid mode. I actually tried that yesterday using these instructions, but that didn't work yet. Probably my error, as I've seen others run in grid mode, even though it's officially 'not supported' for OpenSim 0.4.

Update 05-02-2008: OpenSim 0.5 Earlier this week, I upgraded an earlier install of OpenSim 0.4 on a recent RedHat distro to OpenSim 0.5. It seems that the instructions above still hold true for OpenSim 0.5!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Welcome to my world!

Yay - it works. I've got an OpenSim up and running on my own Linux box. I created user accounts for my kids and wife. My daughter is too young for Second Life or even the teen grid, so she's happy her daddy created his own place for her. It's just that, well, it's a bit lonely there, so I'll have to let her girlfriends in as well, I'm afraid.

So what's up next? Dressing up the place a bit, importing other stuff, like a male body shape for instance :-)

Installing OpenSim

I've been busy tonight, installing the latest OpenSim build on my Linux server at home. Had to install Mono and Nant first, that took some time but wasn't too hard. All stuff installed and compiled ok. Finally, I was ready to run opensim.exe. Unfortunately, this yielded an error:

Failed generating terrain map: System.TypeInitializationException: An exception was thrown by the type initializer for System.Drawing.GDIPlus ---> System.DllNotFoundException: gdiplus.dll

This error is actually described in the OpenSim troubleshooting page on the wiki, but those instructions, to include unstable packages, are for Debian. I'm running CentOs with Yum, so that's a bit different. Besides, I'm running some other stuff on the box that I'd rather keep online as much as possible, so I'm not sure running unstable packages is such a good idea.

Hopefully we'll be able to find a solution! I had hoped to get my own sim up and running tonight, but shortly after I hit this snag, my wife came home from her nightshift.. which means I'm done for now, time for an RL drink together!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

OpenSim Ruth

I just paid a visit to Zion on OpenSim Ruth. I'm going to keep an open eye on OpenSim. Or maybe run one myself!


The future of virtual worlds

I touched upon this subject yesterday: there are currently no universally accepted protocols or (de facto or de jure) standards for virtual worlds, like HTTP is on the internet. This lack of standardization means no interoperability between virtual worlds, no exchange of data, avatars or objects between them. When you're in one virtual world, you can't teleport to another!

Of course, several companies and individuals try to fill that gap. There's much at stake: those who create the set of protocols that will eventually rule the metaverse (so to speak), stand to gain a lot of influence - and a lot of money as well.

There are quite a few contenders. I have named a few in the past: Multiverse, a proprietary platform, launched in early August. Yesterday, Metaplace announced they are ready for alpha testing. Metaplace is created by Areae, a company, but is completely built on open standards, to make it open and extendible.

In the mean time, Linden Labs is also contemplating the future. The current Second Life grid cannot scale to the numbers of avatars that Linden Labs would like to see, in a couple of years; a new architecture is necessary. Linden Labs proposed such a new architecture at The First Architecture Working Group Meeting. Linden Labs wants this redesign process to be as open as possible, given the circumstances; you can read about it at the Architecture Working Group wiki. We're all welcome to participate. Linden Labs' current proposal explicitly allows thirdparty hosted sims to be connected to the SL universe, be it as standalone sims or tied together in the grid. Of course, this is all quite preliminary.

Some people just can't wait; they are building their own simulator software, as you can see at There are a couple of public grids available to opensim users, for instance or Ruth. A description on how to connect to Ruth can be found on Vint Falken's blog. I like the fact that I can use the default Second Life client to connect to OpenSIM worlds!

I think I'll be watching these developments closely in the coming months. Important things may happen!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

so many books, so little time..

Some of these redbooks have helped me tremendously in the past, most notably the one about Lotus Domino 6 on Linux. Maybe they should republish that one for Domino 8, now that it's out.
posted by Sered Woollahra on IBM BUSINESS CENTER using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Metaplace, the easy platform? (updated)

Earlier today, I noticed a news item on Metaplace. I took a look at their website, and their product looks very interesting.metaplace_logo.png

Metaplace promises to ease the process of creating a virtual environment. In fact, it should be easy enough for anyone without real programming experience, to create a new virtual world in a couple of minutes, stick it up a website, and have at it. Of course, you can program it for all kinds of games, MMORPGs, chat environments et cetera; but creating a basic environment should be fairly straightforward.

Much like Multiverse, Metaplace wants to be a platform. Metaplace has the advantage that no programming seems to be necessary to get started. Also, there's no need for a separate client, it should work in the browser. These advantages could drive adoption significantly. Multiverse however has 3D, which is currently lacking in Metaplace, with no timeline being given as to when that will be available. That's quite a big thing to miss, frankly, but we'll see how that works out.

Linden Labs of course wants Second Life to become a platform as well, but as long as they don't open source or sell the server code, I don't see that happening anytime soon.

update Ok, so Linden Labs isn't sitting on their hands either. They are hosting a discussion on the future of Second Life which may have huge implications in this regard. The best news: we're all invited to join the discussion. Read the linked blogpost for the juicy details!

One other 'minor' point regarding Metaplace: I haven't been able to locate information on pricing, licensing and other legal stuff. If anyone else has, I'm interested!

But, even with licensing information and 3D missing, I immediately applied for alpha testing. My daughter really, really wants to try virtual environments, but there's not much there for Dutch speaking girls under the age of ten. I'm quite interested in trying my hand at building a virtual environment for her and her friends. Let's hope I get the chance!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Metaversed meeting

Koz Farina was to kind to forward my Metaversed meeting snapshot to me. Here it is:


Tonight it's the Metanomics 101 meeting, but unfortunately I won't be able to make it due to activities. Maybe I'll catch the rerun on - if they have reruns!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A cool picture of the Metaversed meeting

When attending the metaversed meeting friday evening, I took a couple of snapshots and emailed them to They should have appeared on my bloghud page, but that, unfortunately, didn't happen. Koz Farina, the bloghud guy, did some investigating (thanks!) and found the second snapshot, stuck somewhere in the system. The first one apparently never made it to bloghud's mailbox. Koz will forward me that second snapshot; hopefully it will appear here later.

But for the time being, make sure to view this picture , posted by Metaversed's Nick Wilson. It is a beautiful picture of the roundtable meet. I'm on the picture as well; at approximately 17.30 as it were, in my grey t-shirt.

Lessons learned: if you don't want to lose a snapshot, also save one to the harddisk..

Friday, September 14, 2007

Metaversed meeting

Well, that was interesting. Tonight, we had a Metaversed meeting, chaired by Metaversed's 57 Miles. I have only been a member of metaversed for a couple of days, so it was all a bit new to me. But it was nice, we all introduced ourselves to the others, talked a bit about who we are and why we're interested in SL and/or metaversed. That took the best part of the first hour, but was interesting and useful nonetheless.

After that, we had a conversation on how to proceed with these meetings. Keep them informal, maybe do something with smaller groups that share a common field of expertise, who knows. Then, the discussion moved to what tools we can use in SL to facilitate meetings like these. Powerpoint obviously has it's limitations, and there aren't many other tools around.. yet? Several people, among them 57 Miles, had kind words for the i3dnow tools, so I'll check them out one of these days.

All in all, it was good to be there and met some interesting people.

voice and/or text
The introduction round was done with voice. The sound quality wasn't always what it should be, and I failed speak at all, due to a mixup with the 'push to talk' button - very amateurish :-) Interestingly, the discussions afterwards switched between voice and text without much problems. People seemed to be able to merge the voice and text bits into one conversation, on the fly. I wonder how this will develop in further meetings. As people get to know one another better, will voice be used more often? We'll see the next time.

On a different note: I took two snapshots of the meeting, and emailed them to These shapshots should have been posted at my bloghud page, but I received no confirmation of their delivery, and up until now, almost two hours later, they have not appeared. I still hope they will show up!

Thursday, September 13, 2007


The Dutch SL blog writes about Metanomics, the "study of business and policy in the "metaverse" of virtual worlds". Metanomics looks like a series of events, lectures, on all sort of aspects of virtual worlds, mainly focusing on the business side of things. Metanomics is an activity of Metaversed.

The Metanomics activities seem interesting enough for me to sign up, there's some very interesting topics and speakers on the list. Well known virtual world visionaries, the much talked about Anshe Chung, representatives from other companies and even someone from US Congress, who will discuss US Congress' involvement in virtual worlds regulation, will appear at Metanomics events.

The events take place in world, and are hosted by professor Robert Bloomfield from Cornell University; he will also provide lists of preferred reading material. .

The second Metanomics event, which takes place on September 20th, 2007, features Sandra Kearny, IBM's global director of 3D internet. She will discuss IBM's involvement in virtual worlds. This event will take place in the real world, at Cornell University; it will be streamed to Metanomics' island in SL, and it will be broadcast at the Second Life Cable Network. Truly a 'mixed reality' event, which can be viewed by anyone with a web browser and an internet connection!

In preparation for this event, the professor has suggested reading this IBM report: "Virtual games, real leaders".

In this report, IBM says that MMORPGs are a virtual training ground for leadership skills. In these worlds, one can learn how to communicate, how to sell decisions, who to recruit (and when, and why), how to stay on top of things, and many other things - in short, how be a leader. But, being a virtual leader isn't a permanent thing, according to IBM. Fast paced and ever changing, virtual environments don't match well with the traditional view of leading and managing, where someone, once he or she's a manager, usually stays a manager forever, quietly making their way up the corporate ladder. In virtual worlds, someone can be a leader for ten minutes, a week or a couple of months. Transparency in a persons' qualities, ease of communication, the task or project oriented way of handling things: these (and other) factors, create an environment where leadership comes and goes, to whatever person is most suited for the task ahead. TCorporations could learn from this agility and flexibility, says IBM. The report has an intruiging story about such a change in leadership, about young woman, who was part of a Worl of Warcraft guild out on a raid. When the raid went wrong, the guilds' leadership failed too- the leader didn't know what to do and went silent. In the ensuing vacuum, no one dared to take leadership, until this young woman pressed her talk button. She spoke, rallied the troops for another attack, and that's when she assumed leadership of the guild. She went on to lead other, more advanced guilds later, and held a top rank in WoW for months, until she signed off.

Metanomics promises to be an interesting series of events, for anyone interested in the business side of the metaverse.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Teaching in SL

The holidays are over, so blogging resumes.. slowly :-)

Yesterday, IBM Lotus blogger Alan Lepofsky mentioned an article on teaching in SL: "I Can’t Believe I Just Said That! Shamp Writer in Second Life."

It's a funny report on a NMI professors' first teaching experience in SL. Some quotes:

"But last Friday, I found myself saying things I never thought I would have to say.
“Please don’t sit on the fountain during class. Don’t forget that everyone needs to wear clothes the next time we meet. And, please, try and remember not to fly during class time.”

But the serious stuff is in this quote:

"Sure, Second Life is a little clugy and crazy. But providing a way for physically distant people to interact and experience things together in real time is an educator’s dream that had Socrates tossing in his sleep. SL is a place for minds. It is going to take a while to figure out how we should use it. Frankly, now virtual worlds seem like a powerful creative solution. We just need to find the right problems for virtual worlds to solve. Back in 1994 I felt the same way about the web. It is going to take a lot of patient experimentation to find the best way to harness its potential. And that is why the NMI is there!"

I would add to that: "a way for physically distant people to interact and experience things together in real time " is not only an educators' dream, but of many other people too, wether they are looking for conferencing means, ways of doing business or attending events. This 'togetherness' is indeed one of the true powers of virtual worlds. And yes, it is going to take a lot of patient experimentation to figure it all out. And that's probably going to be an interesting ride..

Friday, August 10, 2007

RL interference

Sometimes, SL activities suffer heavily from RL interference. Such is the case here too! Due to holidays and other stuff, there won't be much new stuff here until the end of august. Too bad, actually, because there's a lot going on that deserves coverage.. but I guess it'll have to wait.

See ya later!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Nad Gough @ Rocky Shores

Quite a lot of visitors at Rocky Shore, where Nad Gough is currently performing. The mood is relaxed - and so is the music. Crossposted to
posted by Sered Woollahra on Cascadia using a blogHUD : [permalink]

IBM Codestation

It's been listed on BlgoHUd before, but for those who haven't seen it yet: IBM's codestation has some handy open source scripts you can save into your inventory - and some other activities. But, as the pic shows, you can also donate any scripts you might want to open source, it's not just IBM coded stuff. Crossposted to
posted by Sered Woollahra on IBM CODESTATION using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Friday, August 3, 2007

multiverse 1.0 released

Today, Multiverse released version 1.0 of their development platform for virtual worlds, and I thought I'd check it out. Right now, I am installing the Multiverse client. Downloading was fast, installing too, but now that I'm actually trying to access a world, it needs to download a lot of other stuff. Apparently really a lot; this is taking a loooonnggg time.

One thing that's nice about Multiverse, is the ability to connect to multiple virtual worlds of mmogs, using just one viewer, through the Multiverse network.

Creative licensing
Multiverse is not open source, but their software can be downloade for free. As soon as you start to make money, things change.

The simplest option is to buy an upfront fee. I have no idea how much that is, but I guess it won't be cheap.

The second option is interesting: the revenue sharing license. If you choose this option, your newly developed world will have to be part of the Multiverse network, that's a requirement. Again, as long as you don't charge your end users or have paid-for advertising in your world, it's free. But, as soon as you start to earn money off your world, Metaverse wants 10% of the gross revenues. They do this by handling all your money stuff: consumer billing, credit card processing etcetera. They collect all the fees, keep their 10% plus some handling fees, and pay you the rest.

That's actually a good model for starting entrepreneurs, creative developers with little financial resources and the like. Plus, it could be very rewarding for Metaverse as well. What if one of these Metaverse worlds is the next World of Warcraft, or the next Second Life? Ten percent of "the next big thing" could mean an awful lot of money.

By the way, this is an awkward blog post to write.. these days, my daily job consists mainly of administering a financial application named "Multiversa", so every time I need to type "Multiverse" I am automatically typing .. well, you can guess what happens :-)

So, I am finished writing this blogpost, and updating Multiverse has finished as well. That should tell you something about how long it took..

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Take me to your leader

I just got beamed up to the Greenies mothership. What a cool experience. We come in peace..
posted by Sered Woollahra on Greenies Home Rezzable using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Apparently, greenies like beer.

Today, the much discussed Greenies sim is opened. A nice experience indeed. Where in SL does the world look like you're about the size of a mouse? Very cool stuff. There's more to explore here. This huge living room for example, but also flight packs, teleports to the greenies ufo.. I'm off, see ya later!
posted by Sered Woollahra on Greenies Home Rezzable using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Wii in Second Life

I have a confession to make: I am actually not much of a gamer. I do not own a game console, and barely ever play a game on the PC - unless you consider SL to be a game. But wether you are a gamehead or not, chances are you have heard of Nintendo's Wii game console. The Wii has a unique feature: the Wii Remote. Game consoles used to be controlled by joysticks or a mouse, but the Wiimote is different. It is a wireless device, slightly similar to a television remote control, that allows you to make 3D motions, which are translated to the game. With the Wii, you can, for instance, play a game of bowling: when you make the actual bowling motions with the wiimote in hand, your motions are reproduced in the game.

A couple of days ago, Wired reported on a new initiative by MIT research Fellow David Stone, who is combining the Wiimote with Second Life: Wii + Second Life = New Training Simulator . Dr. Stone is combining the ease of use of the Wiimote, and it's 3D nature, with the 3D environment of Second Life, to facilitate training programs of all kinds. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense: a 3D remote control for a virtual 3D environment.

Customers are looking to virtual training environments to cut costs, and Stone is looking to SL for the same reason. It's quite easy to create basic stuff in SL, and what you can't create, can usually be bought for a couple of Lindens. According to Stone, "it's a world of abundance", as he is quoted in the Wired article.

Of course, technology is only part of the equation. The Wiimote, intuitive as it may be, is still 'only' an input device, and without a good training script or scenario, it's still not going to help much. Plus, for the foreseeable future, virtual training can not fully replace real world training. These, and other, issues are fully recognized, and taken into account according to the Wired story.

As with many other developments in SL, this may very well be only the beginning of an interesting new development in electronic learning and training. Says Stone:

Such explorations are likely just the beginning. More specialized virtual worlds and input devices are likely to crop up in the future, independent of Second Life or the Wiimote.

The point, says Stone, is that "the ability to easily integrate a wide range of psychomotor activities with simulations running on standard computer platforms will change the ways people interact with computers."

Link: full Wired story

Monday, July 30, 2007

insurance in SL

The Dutch insurance company Univé, recently opened an SL office. They sell actual SL insurance, against theft, damages and care cost, for a mere 200 L$ per six months. If your claim is accepted, Univé will pay a maximum amount of 10.000 lindens.

This got me thinking.. How do they control the veracitiy of your claim? How do they insure for 'care'? Is that healthcare? What constitutes healthcare in SL? Unive doesn't tell - yet. Usually, there's lots of documentation to go with insurance, but this time it is a bit lacking.

Univé programmed hostesses to help you around. Good idea, but how do I turn her off.. she keeps following me!

Added later:
As I was trying to get insurance from Univé, I was given a notecard with more information. It's actually a nice package. Healthcare is obviously not included, although the wording of the original message seemed to imply it did. But you can claim damages or loss of value due to other avatars misbehaving, copying your intellectual property, using landbots on your land, paying for items that in the end are not transferred to you, and other similar stuff. There's more Dutch language documentation (including terms and conditions) available here .

Getting the insurance is quite easy. You click on the computer, it asks you to enter your email address on channel 1, and then you pay your 200 bucks. A unique identification code that ties you to this payment and insurance is then emailed to you. That's the code you have to use when claiming damages.

One thing struck me as a bit odd: the final clause says that, for this virtual insurance, only virtual law is applicable. .Uh..what law would that be?

posted by Sered Woollahra on Unive using a blogHUD : [permalink]
edited by Sered Woollahra - corrected typos, added info.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

IBM establishes employee guidelines for SL

When blogging became mainstream, IBM established guidelines for IBM related blogging by their employees. And now they are doing it again for Second Life: IBM rules govern workers in virtual worlds. In the guidelines, IBM has outlined some rules for avatar appearance and behaviour. Nothing too restrictive, in my opinion, although I know some IBM avatars that are going to need a bit of work :-)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

all bets are off

Above this picture, it said "the bet is finished". It looks like this is true on multiple levels, after Linden Labs announced a complete ban on wagering, betting, casinos and the like, for Second Life as a whole. Apparently the move is triggered by an FBI investigation, which wants to apply the rather strict US law on betting on Second Life. By the way, the Netherlands has quite a strict law on casinos as well; only one, largely state owned, casino chain has a license. All other casinos are illegal.
posted by Sered Woollahra on Kouhun using a blogHUD : [permalink]

No more casinos in SL

Yikes, this is going to hurt. Yesterday, Linden Labs published a new policy, effectively banning al in-world gambling. SL is awash with casinos and slot machines; they also generate a lot of the in-world economic activity.

But, in a lot of countries, gambling is only legal if organized, or sanctioned by the state; this goes for the US, for Canada, but also for The Netherlands. Apparently, Linden Lab is forced (by an FBI investigation?) to apply these US laws to Second Life.

Adding to this: in recent months, there has been a lot of discussion about another new Linden Lab policy, one that prohibits "broadly offensive and potentially illegal content". This policy was created after news media reported on explicit activities in SL that seemed to involve minors and adults. It was roleplay of course, but one that generated quite a buzz in many countries. Roleplay or not, it didn't seem right to many people, and Linden Lab moved to prohibit these kinds of behaviour and imagery.

Apparently, the furries are under close scrutiny as well: animal shaped avatars, involved in explicit, adult roleplay with human looking avatars: this is bound to violate a lot of laws in a lot of countries as well.

At this moment, there's no telling what effect this will have on SL. It will become more respectable in some, corporate, eyes; it will become definitely more boring in th eyes of those in search of some in world excitement, edgy roleplay or a nice game of cards.

Undoubtedly, many avatars will leave. Some in-world entrepeneurs invested a lot of money in land and buildings, money which they earn back by providing gambling services. These people will have to quit their business, and they will not be refunded. This is going to cost some people a lot of money, real world dollars. In the end, the economy of SL *and* Linden Lab will suffer monetary losses.

This raises an interesting point: Linden Lab can, apparently, change their policies at will, destroying the value of anything you own or have built, just like that. That is worrying, if you plan to invest in SL.

On the other hand, SL will look more respectable to many other people. I know for a fact that certain companies stayed out of SL because they didn't want to be associated with all the gambling and sex that's going on in SL. Maybe these people will reconsider their earlier stance on the issue.

In six months, SL maybe very much over - a vast, digital desert. Or it may recover, and still be an interesting place for businesses and private people alike. We'll have to wait and see.

(edited, fixed some typos. No content was changed).

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ajaxlife: update

Earlier I blogged about AjaxLife, Katharine Berry's browser based SL interface. In the mean time, the project has been open sourced at Google code. The AjaxLife code can be downloaded there, and you can install it on any Windows machine. The version has been updated to 1.3, with bugs being fixed and features being added.

So, I'm going to download and test this thing.. We'll see what happens :-)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

IBM as a Caribbean beach club?

As much as I like IBM, I never thought of their software in terms of reggae, sunny beaches, steeldrums and palm trees. But at the IBM SOA adventure island, apparently anything is possible ;-)

I should add that, in The Netherlands, 'SOA' is an abbreviation that, for most people, doesn't mean "Service Oriented Architecture' but the Dutch translation of "sexually transmitted diseases", giving this island a distinctive, quite peculiar name for anyone speaking Dutch..
posted by Sered Woollahra on SOA Adventure Island using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Second Life still growing

At least, in The Netherlands it is. The Dutch SL site report a new milestone: 80.000 registered site users. That means 80.000 Dutch (and perhaps Belgian) people registered for this Dutch language community and site about SL. They reached this milestone in barely 6 months - 13.000 new users every month. That's quite a lot.

As a matter of fact, I can hardly believe these stats. Linden Labs puts the number of active Avatars from The Netherlands in may 2007 at 18180, or 3.37% of all active users. For earlier months only the percentages are available, and it usually hovers between 3 and 5 percent - under 20.000 active avatars per month. Add in Belgium, and it rises to some 26.000 users. Yet reports 80.000 users..? Either they have an awful lot of users who've registered but are no longer active in SL or double registrations. But I can't imagine that a secondary community site like could have more active users than the primary SL community.

Debunking 5 business myths about Second Life

Again via Jaymin Carthage: an insightful article on "Debunking 5 business myths in Second Life", by James Wagner Au. He debunks myths on the size of SL and the size of the community, the economy, anarchism and sex in Second Life. Good reading stuff.

James, by the way, is the writer of a well known Second Life blog: New World Notes - a blog you should read if you want to stay up to date with all things SL. He's been covering SL for years.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Need an invitation for a private beta? InviteShare!

Many web 2.0 startups rely on private betas to initiate the avant garde to their new concept, site, product or community. Once those early adopters have generated enough buzz, more invitations will be available to newcomers. But often, these invites can only be distributed by those already included in the beta. If this strategy is executed well, and your product is interesting enough, invites will be scarce and sought after. For many, this makes an having invite, or being invited, even more desirable.

Perhaps the best known example of this marketing technique was Google's gmail; invites for gmail were, at one point, sold for lots of money on ebay.

So, these days, it's very common to use this method of invitations. But how to obtain such an invitation, if you have no access to early adopters who might have one for you? TechCrunch recently published an interesting article about a really nice initiative: InviteShare. Join the community, donate any invites you might have, and get that other invite you really, really wanted!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

blogger pirate party

Just noticed this blogger party at bloghud. Turns out it's a pirate theme party, and I am wearing my ordinary clothes. Oh well..
posted by Sered Woollahra on Chamcook using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Thursday, July 12, 2007

When the boss wants to be your online friend - in SL

Yesterday, I read an article on the WSJ Online: "My Boss wants to 'Friend' Me On My Online Profile".

The article discusses the negative side effects of social networking sites in relation to your professional life. For instance, if you're an active Hyves user, your profile may contain pictures or remarks from your friends, that you don't want your boss to see - you know, those pictures of that party last month? So what do you do when your boss requests to "friend" you? Flat out denying him or her may be a career limiting move. But accepting the friendship offer may have other, unwanted consequences, as the boss gets a new level of insight in your personal, private matters. Apparently, this is now enough of a problem to register in the media, and even warrant an article in the WSJ.

What the article doesn't talk about, is Second Life. But, I think that this problem also extends there, and maybe even more so. As more and more companies move to an active Second Life presence, employees with a private Second Life may also experience that friction between the personal and the professional spheres of life.

When my employer went in world with a company presence, I arranged much of the practical stuff in the first phase. I bought some land, and created a group where all empoyees could become a member of. Most of these colleagues were not very experienced in Second Life; as a matter of fact, only two or three had some level of experience. So, what do newbies do in SL? Looking for excitement, maybe a little adult content, maybe some gambling.. All the time with our companies' name as their active group, hovering over their heads? No thanks! That's not the kind of publicity we were looking for, so we requested that anyone who wanted to explore the darker sides of Second Life, make sure that our company group name is not immediately visible to other avatars.

Another example. A guy from IBM was on my friends list, and we had granted each other the right to see where the other one was. One day I noticed he was online, and as I wanted to talk to him, I teleported to his approximate location. Upon arriving, I noticed that this location had nothing to do with IBM - not at all. It turned out to be some kind of club or casino, with quite a few visitors and a lot of activity. Nothing too extreme, but still, he was clearly there on private matters. He hadn't noticed my presence by then, as I was standing outside while he was in, so I departed without disturbing him.

So, spare yourself and maybe your employer the embarassment: be aware of who you are, at what time and at what location. If you have a Second Life-style that's not entirely compatible with your employers' public imago, you may want to refrain from using your private, personal avatar for business purposes. Just have your boss pay for another premium account, with a completely separate identity, if you can pull that off :-)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Message liberation day, Ajaxlife: more access!

Today is message liberation day! Today's mandatory update, SL viewer (which I'm installing now!) will contain a different way of handling the exchange of information between the SL viewer and the SL grid. Until now, the grid speaks only one version of the SL language, and the viewer has to match that version. Meaning, that whenever the SL grid language changes (almost every update), you have to download and install a new viewer, one that's compatible with the grid language version.

But after today's upgrade, that should change. The grid language and viewer language versions are, as of 1.18.x, no longer supposed to be 100% equal, all the time. When the grid language version changes, there will probably be an SL viewer update, but, according to Linden Labs, those upgrades may in many cases no longer be mandatory.

As IBM's Jaymin points out, this may boost open source development for the SL viewer. Until today, you could never be sure that what you developed for the SL viewer today, would still work with next weeks' mandatory upgrade. That may explain why open source development for SL has not taken off as much as Linden Labs probably have hoped when they open sourced the client. But after todays upgrade, your SL viewer will be valid for a much longer timespan, meaning that any development you do to this version, will also be valid and usable much longer. This makes development for the SL viewer a more sustainable and rewarding effort.

Somewhat related: Ajaxlife. If the grid's back online, be sure to try this one out. It allows you to enter Second Life through a browser. Not everything works, but basic movement and presence are there. It sounds very impressive.. but I have to try it out myself too, I discovered this tool while I was at work, and when I got home the grid was down :-)
For more information on Ajaxlife, and why this is so important, see this interview with Katharine on New World Notes: From the world to web.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Revival of the R5 "I AM" theme?

At this IBM recruitment site @IBM2, IBM is using "I AM..." on their billboards. Reminds me of the ad campaign IBM used for the R5 launch - also "I AM...". Apparently, in Australia they haven't forgotten that yet!
posted by Sered Woollahra on IBM 2 using a blogHUD : [permalink]

A virtual classroom in Second Life?

Today, I got an email from a colleague, asking if it would be a good idea to provide hands on, enduser training for client software, in Second Life. A virtual classroom, where endusers are trained to work with new features in a given software package, e.g. Office 2007 or Lotus Notes 8.

Have you encountered such an event? I haven't. And I can see some issues with using Second Life for this kind of training, as well.

Not available in Second Life itself
A big problem would be, that you can't use the application that's being taught, in the virtual classroom: you can't fire up other client software (Office 2007, Lotus Notes 8) within Second Life.

This means that for showing features, how things work, what steps to take or what buttons to push, the trainer will probably have to work with an image based presentation, for instance a powerpoint presentation, but then converted to jpg images. I am afraid it would take a lot of jpg's for convering all steps you'd normally show if you could just use the application itself!

Streaming solution?
There is a solution, however: streaming media. That could be used to overcome some of these limitations. The trainer is presenting the training in the real world, and it is streamed into the virtual classroom - either prerecorded or live. If you record a training session, it can be reused later; other trainees could watch it on an individual basis, or a group can watch it together. Wether it's live or prerecorded: in both cases a trainer could be available in the SL classroom (at given times) to answer any questions the trainees may have.

Practice makes ..
In a live situation, this still means the trainees will have to practice outside of the Second Life environment. At that moment, all contact between trainer and trainee (and other trainees) is lost, which doesn't help. Imagine the trainer, in the virtual classroom, and all avatars are set to 'away' because they are practicing outside of SL- quite a motivating environment ;-) If a prerecorded session is used, that an enduser can wach at his or her own timing, then this may be less of a problem.

Native voice
On the plus side: voice is on it's way. With voice being natively available in the client, using the SL client would be enough, both for trainer and trainees, to get an audio connection. This goes a long way when presenting content in SL, and for the 'interactiveness' needed in a training situation, but may not be enough for an entire classroom setup.

Btw: as a recreational user, I'm not sure I want to use voice. As it is now, I can sit at the kitchen table, log on to Second Life, and
quietly type a conversation with someone - even if my kids run around in the kitchen, screaming and yelling, playing gotcha. With voice enabled, that's not possible, as you probably can imagine! Luckily, voice can be disabled in the SL client, and I guess many users will do that.

Back to using SL as a virtual classroom: I think it can be done, but I think it requires some extra technical steps to get it done properly, and then it's still not that straightforward. An online meeting, using (for instance) IBM Lotus Sametime 7.5's meeting center, may be more appropriate. But - if you want to use SL, you probably can.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

This really looks like certain parts of The Netherlands.. really does. Nice job.
posted by Sered Woollahra on 0031 ZO using a blogHUD : [permalink]

spaceport alpha

Spaceport Alpha is a nice place to go if you're into space flight.
posted by Sered Woollahra on Spaceport Alpha using a blogHUD : [permalink]

VWR-1591 needs your vote

A couple of minutes ago, I entered my first Jira issue for Second Life: VWR-1591. It's a new feature request concerning the snapshot feature in the SL viewer, which lacks some features imho.

I've been using the IBM Lotus Sametime 7.5.1 instant messaging client's screen capture tool, which is great. It allows you to capture a part of your screen, annotate it or draw a freehand line on it, and then paste it in your chat automatically. The SL snapshot feature is much less sophisticated, it only allows you to capture the entire screen, and you can't edit the result before sending it off as a postcard.

So, please, have a look at issue VWR-1591, and vote on it if you're so inclined. There's also a couple of screenshots attached there, that show how the Sametime 7.5.1 screen capture tool works.