Monday, March 24, 2008

Intel to EMEA, Africa: you don't exist

Intel is organizing an event in Second Life, where residents can plant sunflowers at Intels SL garden. For each flower planted, a donation is made to a conservationists group, and the avatar is entered in the sweepstakes to win a Gateway laptop. That is, if you're an RL resident of the US or Canada. If you're from another part of this planet, you're screwed; you cannot participate in the sweepstakes. I find it very strange that a company with such a worldwide presence would limit this sweepstake to US residents and/or and Canadians only. This should not be necessary in 2008.
posted by Sered Woollahra on Intel using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Too late to this party

Apparently U2 performed in Second Life once, somewhere in early 2006. I missed this completely at the time, probably because I wasn't actively participating in SL yet.
For those who missed it too: the Youtube video is here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The value of a theme

Recently I've paid a few visits to New Toulouse, mostly to check out Zoe Connolly's new project, the Zoetrope Theater. While wandering around the squares and streets of New Toulouse, it struck me how realistic it all looks. This could easily be a place in one of those countless old, slightly decrepit European towns. Maybe somewhere in France, but it also strongly reminds me of parts of middle or eastern Europe as well. Places I've been in Poland or the Czech Republic for instance.

A while ago I had a similar experience in Caledon, the Victorian steampunk themed sims. Even without being explicitly English themed, those sims exude a distinctive English atmosphere.

This phenomenon is not limited to a single place or a single sim. Caledon is stretched out among many sims, some of them sparsely populated; New Toulouse also consists of multiple sims.

Mainland SL is a jumble, it's a mess. Or, on a more positive note, you could call it "an eclectic mix". There's no consistent experience; it's the office next to the brothel next to the clothing store next to the bar next to the residence next to the griefbuild next to the garden - it goes on and on. Beautiful, exciting and surprising, ugly empty and boring, all at the same time.

Compared to that, I prefer these themed sims. Adopting a theme, and sticking with it, allows for more harmony, a more consistent experience, both in visuals and in atmosphere - not to mention roleplay, if so desired. I think the full extent of what's possible in a world like SL is best recognized and experienced in themed environments like New Toulouse or Caledon.

So if you haven't been to New Toulouse, or Caledon, do yourself a favor and go check them out.

Any similar themed sims I should definitely visit..?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Weather on a prim

Last week I spent some time experimenting with the new html on a prim functionality in SL Viewer 1.19.1 RC0. I used it to create a weathercube; a simple prim that displays a current weather satellite picture of Europe. An in world reminder of the real world!

The way this works, you have to define an url at parcel level, and a placeholder texture that should be replaced with the content at the url, if an html on a prim capable viewer is used. This automatically means that for users of older or alternative viewers, the HTML is not displayed; they get to see the placeholder texture! Therefore, I have created a special texture: a simple white field with an explanatory text.

I'm going to try to display different kinds of data on a prim, we'll see how that works out.

Street organ

A dutch street organ in SL. Nice, it works too!
posted by Sered Woollahra on Promissa using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Twinity beta update

After the first adventures in Twinity beta, which I documented here and here, I focused my attention to other things for a while. But now that I've got a new laptop, I'm giving it a second try.

Back in January, I tried Twinity beta on a Lenovo Thinkpad T43 with a single Intel mobile Pentium processor and a slightly outdated ATI Mobility Radeon X300 card with 64 MB RAM on board; the machine itself had 2 GB RAM. On that hardware, Twinity worked, but performance was not great. Now that I've got this pretty powerful machine (Intel dual core Centrino, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2300 card with 512 MB RAM on board, 2 GB RAM in the machine), I expected Twinity to perform better. Unfortunately, this did not happen. Twinity still feels sluggish, and often waits a little before responding to mouse movements. The mouse blinks a lot as well, suggesting lots of screen redrawing going on, perhaps partially causing the performance issues.

Another issue is that this version of Twinity beta, on this laptop, is much more prone to crashing than the previous combination.

Keep in mind that it's beta, so performance and stability improvements may and probably will come later, possibly after debug code is removed or the code is optimized, for example.

On a more positive note, I have seen some nice improvements, for instance the option to model your avatars' face on an existing photograph. Upload the required pictures, put the dots in the right places and Twinity will create a new avatar face for you, based on the information in the pictures. It looks promising, but I haven't seen the results yet; the process takes a very long time (in excess of 15 minutes), and unfortunately Twinity crashes each time before it's finished. A screenshot of this process can be found here at Flickr.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

photographs, not snapshots

I haven't spent much time in SL recently, mostly because I was busy uploading photographs to Panoramio, a site dedicated to, as the name suggest, pictures of landscapes, environments, nature, cities.. sort of like National Geographic channel, but in photographs. You can view the uploaded content on the site, of course, but you can also view them in Google Earth - it's the small blue dots that litter Google Earth. Click on one of them, and you get a Panoramio photograph.

Panoramio contains many thousands of pictures of real world places, from mundane villages up to famous landmarks, and for some reason they appeal to me, especially the snapshots of less well known places. Someone saw beauty there, made a picture of it and shared with all of us. And so we discover beauty everywhere, by hopping from place to place in Google Earth, or just browsing over the site itself.

It would be cool by the way if Panoramio would have a section for virtual world photographs, but I don't think that would fit in the site concept at this moment :)
And, to be honest, as much as a beautiful Windlight sunset over the SL seas appeals to my senses.. it's no match for the real thing.

So if you'll excuse me, I'm off, I still got a lot of beautiful pictures to see!