Monday, September 22, 2008

Twinity: in world jobs

I'm trying to spend a bit more time in Twinity, to get more feel for the whole environment. To get an idea of what's possible, I'm redecorating my place, an appartment in Amsterdam. Right now it's just a bare set of rooms, with ugly wallpaper to boot; it really needs a makeover! Because I participated in a couple of beta activities, I got some Globals (Twinity's currency), which I can spend on it. New wallpaper costs 9 Globals.

If I would need more Globals, I could do two things: buy them directly from Twinity, or apply for a job. Twinity has a collection of jobs on offer: DJ, waiter, usher, photographer, stuff like that. Spend 10 hours online doing one of these, and you earn 500 Globals! To be honest, I have no idea how much that is, but it amounts to 50 Globals per hour, so that thing better be worth something :-)

Ten hours is also quite a lot of time to spend in world. But still, I like the fact that Twinity arranges jobs like these. A world like Second Life already has an established economy; Twinity obviously doesn't, and this might help to get people involved, get some currency flowing into enduser pockets.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Twinity: real and virtual mix getting better

Twinity recently went into public beta, after being in closed beta for the best part of 2008. It's nice to see it develop over time! Some parts of the Twinity vision are much better articulated these days; the mixing of real and virtual for instance is becoming much more obvious as a center piece of Twinity's offering.

A good example of this mix is the Drykorn shop in Berlin - both the real and Twinity Berlin, that is! The similarities between the two are obvious.

Nicely done, I must say! Too bad one can't control the lighting in Twinity - for the European market, it means shopping in a dark store as you can see. Twinity's day/night cycle has always matched the real world cycle, and while I appreciate why that's done (remember, mixing virtual and real), the result is that I'm always stumbling around in the dark when visiting Berlin. I'd really like to have the option to influence this daylight cycle - in Twinity, I mean!

In the past, I've had a lot of crashes with Twinity. Today I adjusted the Twinity resolution to match my screen resolution (1440x900), and this seems to have a positive effect. I now can use control-alt to switch between Twinity and other applications without Twinity crashing, and the graphics look better too. So here's an advice to Twinity users: in the menu System - Display, set resolution to the same value as your display uses!

From the 'must fix' department: I'm still experiencing performance issues. Lots of harddisk and network activity, and lots of lag, even when I'm alone in a place. I use this same setup to play Eve Online, Second Life and other stuff, and Twinity doesn't look too good, compared with those. The Twinity client still feels clunky, too. From the splash screen and the startup messages, you can gather that the Twinity client is comprised of several pieces of third party software, glued together by Twinity code. That's a bit how it feels: not yet like a tight piece of software. I know it's still beta, and I acknowledge it's getting better, but this could still be a major roadblock for enduser acceptance.

Open Grid developments

My Open Grid server is still humming nicely, so I've waited a while with upgrading to a next build. But it may be necessary to upgrade in a while, because the Open Grid development team is working towards implementing the third draft of the Open Grid Protocol, for which a number of Jira issues remain open.

In the mean time, this is a snapshot of the Open Grid region Lexania. This beta tester, Lexa Sands, actually has two adjacent regions up and running. I teleported to the first, which somehow didn't rez. The second one however did, and seen from the first region it looked like an island drifting in the void! Of course I tried to fly from the first to the second region, and region handoff between the two regions worked like a charm!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

An extra bonus for Kiva?

Kiva is enrolled in a competition that may yield a prize of 1.5 million US Dollars. AMEX card user? Then, please, vote!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Just Leap In - update

One weird thing when logging in to JLI, is the fact that you don't have or are an avatar. You move your camera around and you can even put animated avatars there, but you yourself are not yet rezzed as an avatar. But, this will be available in an upcoming release, according to an announcement on the site.

Speaking of moving the camera: this is done by rightclick - drag, just like in Eve Online. I like this very much, and miss it dearly in Second Life.

Another nice thing is the physics: stuff bounces nicely in JLI. We'll have to see how avatar movement turns out when avatars become available.

For those of you who want to share snapshots: I have created a Just Leap In Flickr group.

..and another one: Just Leap In

Earlier this evening I caught an item at Vint's blog, about a new browser based 3D environment: Just Leap In. New stuff is always exciting, so of course I signed up for the public beta right away. It took an hour or so to get access; not too bad, better than promised! I've been online in JLI for half an hour or so, and so far it's been interesting. There's a lot of rough edges, which is not strange given that it's early beta.

The installation procedure and the initial user experience remind me a lot of Google Lively; both require an install of a plugin in the browser, and both offer a range of prebuilt room templates to choose from. Both offer a host of accessories to place at your room, too. But, it seems the JLI rooms are easier to customize with your own content; apparenlty. Just Leap In features a more open approach in this regard, more open than Lively anyway. That could make JLI interesting to companies looking for branding opportunities.

Just Leap In also offers the option to embed a room in a web page. The result is this:

Stay tuned for updates!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Underwater Archeology in Second Life?

On our OpenSim server, my kids are building underwater villas and a submerged cinema. Quite a weird thought one would say.. Yet, after seeing the results, I thought of something else: Second Life would be a great environment to recreate an underwater archeology site! Most of us never get to dive to the real thing, whether they be famous shipwrecks or lost cities in, for instance, the Mediterranean. From a promotional or educational perspective, this could be interesting!

I own some real estate in the Fortimus area; I centered a few rental houses around a water parcel; this way, every rental has open water access. Maybe I should try to create something like that, there. Too bad I'm a lousy builder :-)

Friday, September 12, 2008


I am, I must admit, a happy man. After a job switch earlier this year, I haven’t had one single traffic jam while commuting! The reason is simple: I no longer have a lease car, I am traveling by train. One of the unintended side effects of train travel is this: I used to see a lot of cars, but these days I see people. To be honest, I quite like the change, people are much more interesting!

One of the things I’ve noticed is, that I only very rarely see ugly or repulsive people. Even though most commuters definitely do not look like they could win the next Supermodel tv show, the majority of those travelling with me have something that touches me, makes them human, special or even beautiful, even when they look completely ordinary on first sight.

They are, often, imperfect but still beautiful people. Dignified, vulnerable, barely concealing emotions, relaxed or stressed out, playing a role or being their utter self - most of them have something redeeming, something that's disarming, that touches me. Perhaps it’s just a look in their eyes, or in the way they behave themselves; the way she reads a book or brushes her hair aside, the way he visibly enjoys being in the presence of his girlfriend, the nervousness in the young girls' voice, going to her first University week.

In a virtual world, we all can look perfect, if we want to. It's not that hard, if you can spare the cash for those extra nice clothes and bodily enhancements. And that's precisely why that beauty doesn't mean much to me; it lacks that human element which I notice daily in the crowds of commuters surrounding me. My consolation is that, beneath the pretty pixels on screen, you'll probably find those same humans again!

Perhaps a native english speaker would have found better words to convey what I'm trying to say here. I hope you get it just the same!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

server upgrade

When I first started out with OpenSim, I installed it on my server at home. Unfortunately, my adsl router doesn't do UDP over NAT, so I rented a low end Linux server at strato to get this stuff up and running. That was almost a year ago, and the choices for Linux distros at Strato were, at that time, not really up to par: they were all old. I finally went with RedHat Fedora core 6, because that seemed to be the best choice at the time.

Recently I noticed I could upgrade the server to newer stuff. Amongst the now available distros were OpenSuse and Ubuntu server, both contemporary versions. As I have some experience with Ubuntu 8.04 on my laptop, I decided to go with that version on the server too. Yesterday, I downloaded all my own data to my local machine and, subsequently, had the machine reinstalled with the new Linux version. That didn't take too long - only 25 minutes, instead of the couple of hours Strato indicated.

Installing the necessary software went relatively smooth, googling the necessary commands for installing Nant and Mono. The latter wasn't that easy by the way, the command 'apt-get install mono' didn't work for me, even though I had enabled all the necessary sources, because my server couldn't find the package. Luckily, after installing Nant with 'apt-get install nant', Mono was installed too, so that was solved quite easily.

Running OpenSim with MySQL would not work until I installed the appropriate code page with the command "sudo apt-get install libmono-i18n2.0-cil".

Now everything is up and running, it works, it performs better and I'm feeling a bit safe again, being on an all new and up to date OS!

Now if only I could get scripts to work I'd be a happy man. Unfortunately they don't: Mono can't find the libraries because my ../opensim/bin directory isn't in it's path. I've set it in the user session and the environment, but still no dice. I'm going to use MONO_PATH I think, even though that's supposed to be a developers' tool, a kludge, and not a proper runtime tool. But hey, if it works..

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Gridnaut Bear

Those who succeed in building their own Open Grid beta enabled OpenSim and teleporting from there to Linden's Vaak region (on their Aditi betagrid), get to call themselves "gridnaut". Gridnauts can claim a trophy bear, allowing you to show off your OpenGrid prowess in the Second Life main grid :) I got mine from Whump Linden a couple of days ago. This is how it looks:

I like it. Too bad I can't get one in real life!

Two OpenSims

Yesterday I finally finished my OpenSim environment again. There's two installs now on my server: a plain OpenSim install for the kids, and a Open Grid enabled one for myself. I didn't know for sure if two installs would work, but it seems to be fine so far.

It even seems you can run two installs on one database. I accidentally forgot to change one database value in the OpenSim install for my kids, which caused their content to end up in the same database as my OpenGrid install. Result: I suddenly saw my sons' newly built house pop up on my Open Grid island!

I'm planning on leaving the kids' standalone OpenSim alone for a bit. It's good enough the way it is; no need to upgrade every couple of days. That's what I can use my OpenGrid install for!

My son at his new underwater villa:

Thursday, September 4, 2008


It's been a while, but today I installed the latest OpenSim build on Linux, did the necessary configuration stuff, and tried to teleport from Linden's Vaak region to my own OpenSim region. And it worked!

The only problem I have is that my avatar doesn't rezz, and the terrain remains invisible. So all is not yet 100% good, but I'm definitely on my way.

I just teleported from a Linden Labs owned sim to my own and back! How cool is that!