“Tata Teleservices Limited, India’s youngest and fastest-growing pan-India telecom service provider, is extending its hugely successful Suno Dil Ki Awaaz brand campaign into the Virtual World of Second Life with a first-of-its-kind Virtual Talent Hunt. This makes Tata Teleservices the first Indian telecom operator to enter virtual worlds.” ‘Follow Your Heart’ is a platform for amateurs (artists/musicians/photographers) to showcase their talent at the Tata Indicom Island in Second Life from January to March 2009.
Tata Teleservices’ build is located at the virtual “Bombay” in-between “Bollywood” and the “Bollywood Hills”. It contains a small orientation zone, a party/events area, a gaming zone, exhibition areas for the talent hunt and even a virtual football - as in soccer - field. Architecture is futuristic and well done, but could use some shading baked into the textures.
The whole area is oriented around the “Follow your hart” talent hunt and the “Suno Dil Ki Awaaz” phone network, that “lets you connect with like-minded people and make friends in Second Life using the SDA phone!”.
Prizes for the talent hunt are amongst others an Apple iPod Touch 16GB for best in Music, a Nintendo Wii Game Console for best in Art and a Digital SLR - Olympus E520 for best in photography. There’s also a “Be A Bollywood Star!” star game - which I sucked at, got stuck at the first mission objective after “press start” - with HUD.
The “Tata Indicom” island was realised by Indusgeeks, the official press release you can find on their blog. More information at tataindicom.com/sl and at tataindicomsl.com you can login to your account to upload photographs, art or music after registering your avatar at virtual Bombay (SLurl). New residents can get register an avatar at tataindicom.com.
For a “virtual first” - although a talent hunt is not, NBC did so earlier - this is definitely impressive. As far as I’ve seen, no rule states that non-Indian citizens can not join the talent hunt, so let me know if anybody of you does so! :) I only fear that with a limited amount of new registrations, and in-world voting, exactly this voting can be easily spoofed by using alts? Ah well, some snaps:
Virtual Land is always there, even if you can’t login to reach it. Regardless if you’re using it or your customers are. Regardless if you’re on a two-month break from Second Life or not. And you’re not likely to ‘get rid of it’, as Linden Lab does not offer you the ability to save the current state to put it back somewhere in the future when you’ll need it again. Of course, there are programs that let you take a ‘backup’ of an entire sim, but most of the time full perm on all objects is needed, and what about the scripts and interactive objects you’ve spend that much time on? So you keep paying your land tier, because you know it will be pain if you have to recreate all.
Balaji Sowmyanarayan and Venkatraman offer you a way to by-pass this, at least, if you wish to go ‘OpenSim‘. Their solution was baptised ‘Sim-onDemand’, and exists of OpenSim servers running on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud. “It is like using an auditorium in real life. You book it and use it only occasionally.” I have not tried this yet, and although they claim to be aiming their service at non-tekkies, I had to re-read the ‘about’ section a few times. This is what I understood:
You will be billed according to Amazon’s EC2 pricing, with in addition a monthly fee of 40 cents.
When not using your sim, it’s in “pauze”. Taking it out of pauze, your saved date will still be there: “The Sim-OnDemand saves the data in AWS’s Elastic Block Store (EBS). This ensures that the data persists across the runs.
Presently only standalone mode is supported. Although they are willing to look into running multiple connected regions and connecting to a grid if the users ask for it.
You need at least some SSH knowledge.
Balaji Sowmyarnarayan writes: “Sim-OnDemand in its present form is just a proof of the concept. It is a way to validate if there is enough interest in running OpenSimulator on EC2 on an On-Demand basis. Few more features are essential to make it useful. Here is my take on the list: User Management, Multiple regions, Grid Mode, Ability to attach to to public Sims, Previewing the latest OpenSim software - hot off the source code repository, Ability to run custom applications, Automatic scaling with load, regions, number of users logged in, Integration of OpenSim forge community contributions.”
I’m slowly starting to think that if you don’t promo the ‘virtual hell’ out of something - Group Notices, blog post, Flickr Pools, more blog posts, Triptychs, get famous people, inworld broadcast list, … - regardless how beautiful, ingenious the build is and regardless who helped construct & ‘vitalise’ it - Miki Gymnast, Madcow Cosmos, Cube Republic, Glyph Graves, Kitsune Kyomoon, Lorin Tone, Photon Pink, Seifert Surface and many others -visitors will be less.Plasma City is definitely as ‘explore rich’ as the Gardens, yet where are the visitors (become one, TP there)? Tsss… ! (Errr, yes, guys and girls girls and guys, that’s YOU!!) Or did we forget to mention it’s open to the public? Let me correct that:
Plasma City is open to the public. Visiting is obliged. You shall be amazed and utter lots of ‘Wow!’s, ‘Woot!’s and ‘WTF?! Incredible!’s.
Go visit NOW! Teleport!
Hmm, that should get my point across, no? And in combination with this this machinima tour of Plasma City by Nitwacket it should definitely convince you (to visit), with it’s fun bleeping sound. What I love about it, it’s that it’s not just a ‘follow an avatar around’. As there are a lot of ‘motion’ and ‘interactive’ objects in a ‘Future that Never Was’, the recording of exactly that future never gets boring… . Sit back, relax and enjoy… (and afterwards TP to Plasma City!)
Enough call to action for one blogpost? Someone recently - to my surprise - mentioned I’m not bossy enough. So, all say “Yes, Misstress Vint” and teleport to.. - you guessed correctly - Plasma City! Oh, and bring a friend or a sub! ;)
I’m sure ‘pixel boom boom’ - an euphemism for ‘3D virtual sex’ or whomever you wish to call it - happens in other Virtual Worlds and MMORPG’s too. Yet, Second Life gets always targeted by the RL press. Of course, you have ‘dedicated’ virtual worlds such as the Red Light Center, but I wonder, do World of Warcraft, the Sims, Entropia Universe, … avatars have a sex life too? And all the necessary bits & pieces to make ‘virtual intercourse’ a true ‘immersive experience’? :D
For example, IMVU has a ‘black market’ for ‘pixel boom boom’ equipment: “Don’t expect to be taking part in stuff like this often, it’s against the rules and the black market is very secretive about handing the furniture.” When asked if this ‘IMVU Orgy’ is not illegal, against IMVU’s ToS, Miss Shara Rile answers: “There is, they just hide it reeeaaally well to avoid being banned. Can’t stop people having their fun I figure.” Now, errr, I have a few questions:
What price does the ‘needed furniture’ switch owner for? (an average, converted to USD)
Are IMVU avatars born with genitals, or do these bits need to be purchased? Or even better, do they come attached to the furniture?
What’s the punishment if you get busted?
Hoping to get an answer from Miss Rile soon. In the mean while, do you know of any other virtual worlds or mmorpgs where avatars can have an - maybe illegal but healthy and more or less visually appealing - CGI sex life? ;)
Have a digital camera on hand? More likely than not, I think. If you’re free to experiment, and feel up to demo, take three photos of your mug and send them the way of Big Stage. There your profile will be displayed in three-dimensional form as part of a custom, automated design called “@ctor.” The reason for this is to create an avatar to use “through a diverse array of online media, networks and communities.”
BigStage’s tagline ‘You. Your way. Online.’ reminds me of ‘Your world. Your imagination.’ But might be that’s just me! Luckily ‘Big Stage is a new generation digital media company enabling vivid personal projection into online media and activies’ sounds way more healthy then ‘we’ll sell you virtual land’. So let’s try shall we? I took three profile photographs, as advised, with flash/facelight.
Sadly enough, I have the following remarks:
You gave me a double chin!
You made me fat.
Where are my breasts?
My right eye looks ugly when I smile!
You washed out my spots.
There are no neko ear accessories.
But overall, they didn’t do that bad (at first glance, better than what cyberextruder does for generating SL skins from your RL headshot), considering processing a white spotted avatar with giant eyes and strange Second Life shading is probably not what it was designed for. If anybody feels like testing this out with their human face, please share the results! In the mean while, Vint starring in respectively a Bigstage Horror Movie and The A-team.
Note for those who want to try: changing the appearance of my ‘@ctor’ by adding hair, hats, … does not work in FireFox. It does function in Internet Explorer.
Your own content in Big Stage? Currently, you can only import your face, but if you take a quick look at the FAQ, you’ll see that the ‘can I create my own accessories?’, ‘can I upload my own expressions?’ and ‘can I upload my own content to put my actor in?’ all have answers à la ‘we anticipate this being an option shortly’. To keep an eye on. (Who knows Vint can be the next Bond girl this way? ;))
Rule #1 for vacation - ok, maybe besides stolen wallet, lost hotel bookings and civil war, depending on where you go - is that the local tourist info is always closed, unavailable, speaks only a strange local language (French, Dutch, German, Spanish, …) or is even ‘on vacation’ when you need it. The solution? Hit the internet to find something to visit & do. As it comes to ‘cultural places’ - they are not listen clubs, yet - Wikitude might just be the solution. Well, if you have the G1 Google phone, that is:
This video demonstrates the augmented reality camera view of Wikitude AR on a G1 phone from a beautiful viewpoint looking down on Salzburg. Wikitude is a mobile travel guide based on Wikipedia and Panoramio. Search landmarks in your surroundings and view them on a map, list, and on an Augmented Reality (AR) camera view: What you see is an annotated landscape, mountain names, landmark descriptions, and interesting stories. The device displayed is a G1 Google phone, running Android.
In ‘A different view on Second Life‘ I asked how that amazing stereo 3D machinima of Second Life could have been created. Was there a stereo Second Life client I knew nothing about?! Kippie Friedkin from The Grid Life was quick to point me in the right direction: the UM3D lab from Michigan University did develop such a thing - and other interesting stuff such as a Virtual Jet Ski Driving Simulator: ‘… the 3D Lab added support for stereoscopic viewing. Wearing low-cost stereo glasses, users can now experience the 3d world of Second Life in full stereo. Objects pop out of the screen and terrains stretch into infinity, a truly unique enhancement for exploring 3d worlds. Linden Lab will soon provide the stereo function as a standard feature of its viewer. Using anaglyph technology or polarized light, Second Life can be experienced in stereo on laptops or desktops as well as on advanced projection systems similar to IMAX theatres‘.
Dale’s 3D Stereo Viewer
‘Linden Lab will soon provide the stereo function as a standard feature of it’s viewer’ is a rather dubious statement, depending on your definition of soon, but yes, they are working on it. In the mean while, for all your stereography delight, you should try Dale Glass’s 3D Stereo Client which comes in both Windows as well as Linux version. Binaries as well as source files, FAQ and a whole lot extra can be found on Daleglass.net.
Not only the stereographic capabilities - anaglyph (the red/green thingie), passive and shutter glasses - are interesting, but also a different download and update system then we are used from Linden deploys of the client: ‘This version features an improved installer that automatically grabs files from existing SL installations, and only downloads what can’t be obtained from the user’s system. This drastically reduces the size of the download: Instead of the 35MB or so of the official viewer, each update only needs to download about 5MB.‘ For Visa users, beware, this - probably - caused my install to file the first time. Second try all went well, so don’t give up! ;)
Even if you’re not to keen on Second Life ’snapshottery’, you can still enjoy this viewer: zoom in a bit (ctrl+0) and just start running (ctrl+r to toggle ‘run’ on) around the grid! Mind that you can get seriously dizzy from doing that! ;)
How to work Dale’s Stereoscopic Client
You’ll find that the client - based on 1.18 - feels like a jump back into time, and that the graphics tab feels strangely uncomfortable. Regardless, that’s where you need to be:
Go into Edit >Preferences > Advanced Graphics Tab.
Located ‘Anaglypic System’ and turn that one one.
In the Graphics Tab set your draw distance to beyond 200-something, as it is standard set to a boring and ineffective for stereography 64 meters. (I had it on max. for my stereo images here.)
Locate ‘anti aliasing’ and turn that on.
Save & close the Preferences Settings.
Start taking stereo Second Life images!
Tips for great stereo images
Get a neutral or big same coloured areas as background, this makes your front image ‘jump out’ more.
Shoot a scene with not to much colour in it. To much different colours will lessen the stereographic effect.
As with RL photography (and normal SL photography), frame your image to have a a clearly divided ‘foreground’, ‘in-between’ and ‘background’. This will enhance the stereographic effect. A good example is the image of me at the Darklands Cemetery. You can place an object on the foreground by clearly cutting it off with your frame.
To have larger ’stereographic differences’ (red & cyan zones are bigger), thus a better effect, you need to fool your Second Life camera. Zoom out a lot (scroll mouse) and then zoom in again using ctrl+0. (Ctrl+9 will restore your settings to default. If using the number pad does not work, use the numbers on top of your keyboard.) Sometimes you will want to do the reversed with ctrl+8 though. Experiment! ;)
RL rule that goes for SL too: bright & heavily coloured items will appear closer, dark ones farther away. Perfect example: my (lovely, no?) pink skirt in the Darklands Cemetery stereo image that really ‘pops out’.
Don’t shoot your scenes to dark. The red/green glasses you were for viewing stereo images filter out certain temperatures of light, and thus make that less light gets to your eyes, thus that things appear darker.
Personal taste, but I ’stereo thingies’ looked best at ’sunset’ settings.
Dale’s 3D Viewer drawbacks
Most of these drawbacks are because the client build is based on a very old official Linden client: 1.18. This means that there’s no glow, no WindLight, alpha textures don’t always render that well (see the carrots at greenies lawn) and it tends to dislike sculpted prims. Regardless, it’s an impressive client to play around with! I just don’t think I’ll use it full time for dizziness reasons! ;)
If you did not notice yet, those virtual roaches - and human’s real reactions to those virtual bugs - keep me puzzled. That puzzled during I shared my thoughts on it with the real life friends. You know, those friends that ‘don’t like virtual worlds’, ‘prefer real life’, still ‘wonder what the hell it is that you are doing’, but that you love none the less as you forgive them their ignorance! ;) And also exact the kind of friends that - because of their ignorance - come up with great ideas regarding virtual stuff. They are able to look beyond those eye shells that grow on you when spending to much time in - any - world. And one of those friends told me about ‘augmented reality’. Using the words: ‘Having a virtual Christina Ricci projected in my bedroom would get me off, yeah, so I assume that stuff can be real. But preferably in my bedroom, yes.’*
Augmented reality is where one ads a layer of ‘virtual goodness’ on top of the real world, and do it that well that they blend in almost perfectly. But what do the roaches have to do with this all? In 2007 the clinical psychology department at Universitat Jaume I in Castelló, Spain did exact that experiment with virtual roaches: A team of computer-imaging specialists filmed the creatures, digitised images of their scurrying and teeming, and displayed the images—not on a computer monitor, but on see-through goggles. To the wearer, the virtual roaches then look as though they are really in the room. Next, university psychologists set about therapeutically frightening patients who have a fear of insects. “They put a foot on the ground and the cockroaches start climbing over it,” says Cristina Botella, who led the researchers. “The computer just pumps them out.” In November Ms Botella presented her team’s findings at the Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies conference in Philadelphia. The treatment worked very well. I would love to see them test this with virtual roaches in our brave new virtual world**. Reality, only better from the Economist states: For some things, it turns out, computer graphics can be much more effective when viewed not on screens, but superimposed on the real world. The technique is known as “augmented reality” (AR) or, less frequently, as “augmented vision”, because the real world is augmented with virtual text or graphics. Ah, yeah well… as stated before, if you spend enough time in our virtual world, it kinda grows on you, and becomes as real - or almost as real - as that other one.
Still, I guess we just can’t do without ‘real life’ - ;) - and here are some interesting applications for augmented reality:
Scan for veins under skin, processes that data and then projects the veins on your skin in real time, making sure the nurse knows where to stick that needle. Would be handy because: it sucks to go to school in a long sleeve when it’s 30 degrees Celsius because else they’ll all think you’re a junk.
Tourist information, in stead of long brochures of boring text and dates, give the visitors a pair of goggles and show them battle scenes, how the ruins looked when they were still ‘castle’, or what exactly happened in the master’s bedroom. Would be handy because: they can charge extra for the viewer that includes pr0n scenes.
Virtual safaris in France the Parc du Futuroscope. Would be handy because: Reality TV sucks nowadays and it does no harm if you feed a virtual animal. They can sell an endless amount of virtual food.
In the military: Soldiers with head-mounted displays might read street names superimposed on the ground, follow colour-coded arrows for patrols or retreats, and see symbols indicating known or potential sniper nests, weapons caches and hiding places for booby-traps. The displays could also show the locations of friendly forces and levels of ammunition and other supplies, as in a video game. Would be handy because: Flight simulator fell in enemy hands.
All sound rather kewl, no? So what use for augmented reality could you think off? I think my friend was dead on target with his ‘virtual pr0n, live in your bedroom’ idea, but I’m sure you can think of some other great innovations making use of augmented reality?
* I do not exclude the possibility that for his birthday his bedroom will be rebuild in the virtual world and a Christina Ricci skin & shape will be shopped for! ;)
** Brave New Virtual World, a world previously known as Second Life, now Second Life™.
Amazing, nah? This ‘clonies & particle TV’ is really something that can’t be captured in snapshots. As Bella says: ‘Arnout Sequent pushed particles a bit further by converting them to the so-called ‘Imposters’ and by playing videostreams on them. Amazing achievement, see for yourself.‘ I don’t know which ingenious scripting is behind this, I only know it’s all about ’speed reloading / refreshing’ and that I have two 3D Bella’s in my skybox now - and really love them. Almost as much as the ‘real’ virtual version. ;) I do know I want a Clonie-Vint. Do you think it will be convincing enough to let it go to work for me? ;)
As filmed by Mr Miyaoka, The End of the Tiny Universe Convention. Don’t worry, it is not a sad story. It was a ‘kick ass’ convention, and I am proud that through ‘Tiny Greenies’ I’ve somewhat been a part of it too:
And if you thought there was ‘Tiny’, then what are these? Tiny²? Asked them to pose next to my shoe for comparison reasons: