I must admit, I hardly ever use the ‘voice facilities’ embedded in the Second Life client, often I even prevent that part of my client to launch itself*. I do talk in Second Life, though. For me, nothing beats the quality of having a Skype conversation, if needed illustrated with my avatar standing and pointing at things in the virtual world. Especially not if native Second Life voice conversations seems to suck, even when the persons on the other side of ‘the internetz’ actually takes the effort to set their microphone settings properly. Yeah, no voice gestures then, but I can live with that, if it saves me a headache.
Voice in OpenSim & ReactionGrid?
Up to now, both OpenSim and the Reactiongrid had no voice at all, so using Skype when I felt the urge to talk was the way to go. It might soon become the official way to go, as the Reactiongrid folks got the bright idea to activate Skype from within OpenSim to meet the need for voice.
“By modifying the OpenSim MSSQL 2008 database to associate UUID’s of avatars with Skype names or phone numbers we can now setup and initialize and even update with new inworld callers from a “voip on a prim” system.”
They are using Skype’s API to introduce VoIP on their server and in their client. Initial testing is going well, and Robin promises to release the code when done: “We fully plan to release the method back into the wild - all Opensim grids should benefit.”
But Skype is closed source?
Torrid Luna from primforge.com is correct when pointing out some of the drawbacks - no spatial info and a closed source and protocol - but _any_ voice will be a great start, until they can implement an ‘open’ solution such as there are Vivox’s Open initiative and Mumble.
There were already previous voice initiatives by RealXtend - a fork of OpenSim - (more on this at UgoTrade) and OpenLife, but none of these solutions were shared & adopted on a wide scale. Maybe the most reasonable voice in this discussion of which system & implementation of it to choose, comes from Mo Hax: “I suppose the biggest thing personally I would like to see, and that many expressed, would be modularity in voice integration allowing the sim owners and grid managers to select their preferred voice implementation. This increases competition and promotes the best solution in the long term.”
* The client parameter that disables the voice application from launching together with your client is “–novoice”, without the quotation marks. Just glue that in the ‘target’ field of your Second Life client shortcut, as you do with OpenSim login parameters.
Image credit: Skype Inworld Conference Call System by ReactionGrid on Flickr.
“OMG! Vint learned how to terraform!!!” Err… guess again. I tried sim-on-demand’s utterly amazing idea of combining Twitter, OpenSim and the OSgrid for delivering free “Valentine’s gift” simulators. They’ve extended their offer during the Valentine weekend - that’s now, for those that are totally of the real life earth - so, anyone can send their Island request to @ec29 till 15 Feb and all Islands will be available fill Mon 16 Feb 10:10 AM GMT.” So if you wish a sim complete with a terrain map that has your beloveds name engraved - or something funny, or, … ‘ now is the time to order one!”
update:“We are extending the promotion throughout the Valentine day weekend! Now anyone can send their Island request to @ec29 till 15 Feb and all Islands will be available fill Mon 16 Feb 10:10 AM GMT.“
Only recently sim-on-demand launched, and now during the Valentine days, they are doing a damn great promo stunt:
“The New Improved Sim-OnDemand with ability to hookup with OSGrid is now out. As many of you are already aware, Sim-OnDemand indeed strives to create Virtual World abundance. Since this Sim-OnDemand release coincides with the Valentine week, we though we will spread some cheer with our VW abundance.” Shortly summarized: giving a way free islands, with the name of your loved one engraved / terraformed in them!
“What if you had an entire island as a canvass to scribble your Significant Other’s name? If it is a real physical one, sure it is lot of work! And a lot of back breaking travel just to show your work! But what if the Island is all digital and available online? Yes we are talking online 3D Virtual Worlds. Now that is significantly more accessible. No sweat! More like you! Scribbling your Significant Other’s name on a virtual Island online is not just possible, it is insanely easy! And it is free too on 13 and 14 Feb. Just send your Significant Other’s name as a reply message to @ec29. An Island will magically show up in OSGrid within half a day. You will be alerted via a twitter message as soon as it is ready.“
Let’s recap: you just ‘tweet’ a message starting with “@ec29″ and then the avatar name. For example, and island that would say “Greenies”:
Make sure that your message isn’t longer than 12 characters and only contains English characters and numbers. And also some disclaimers from the sim-on-demand crew: “This is an experimental service. Some or all the things listed above may break down. No guarantees, warranties implied or otherwise what so ever. The Island along with all its content will be dismantled after 15 Feb 10:10 AM GMT. Bring your own pose balls!” Of course, you need to access your island first. ;)
I take my hat off for this great promotional idea, demonstrating once again the possibilities of OpenSim and not depending on Second Life’s - very very very limited - estate management tools.
Ok, I know it might not be visible, but tons of effort went into this on… first take a look - preferably high quality on YouTube (and if you’re there anyway, please favourite it or leave a sweet comment *grins*) - and then let me explain…
Shot at the Techra, PGA (OpenSim based Grid) & Crimson Shadow
“I’m going to machinima this!” was something that came up in my head all of a sudden when I noticed an extremely high frame rate on the PGA, so there I was, unprepared, with only a demo version of Fraps. Which lead to me having only 30 seconds fragments, of which some even got _lost_ somewhere on my disk. Stuff I know I shot, but can’t find anywhere. Then, next in line was Windows Moviemaker Moviebreaker. It would not allow me to edit anything longer than 90 seconds, well, I could edit it, but it would refuse to safe. So I had to make this one in 4 separate parts, and then glue them together and add the audio track. Hence, not much “alignments” between video & audio, sadly enough. There are 2 things though, that I take full blame for:
I left the “avatar names” hoovering above the avatars. Basically, because I have no clue how to turn that off.
I forgot to go into “full view without user interface”. Basically, because I forgot the key combination.
Ah well, next one will be better, I promise, especially if I can get my hands on a SpaceNavigator mouse thingie. ;) In the mean while, I do like the covers I did for Foolish’ “Sweet Home on the Mainland” and “Linden’s Lament” song. What you think? (If you wish to read more about the “Live in the Cornfield” show, or hear the full recording, hup over to my entry on the Rezzable Blog. *hums “Save the Drama”*)
Vint’s summary: “Woot! Terribly thrilled!” So thrilled even, I’m going into ‘nostalgic mode’ and used my old “OpenSim News” graphic. Which is terribly-outdated as I look pretty on OpenSim now. :D You ask for more nostalgia?! K. Here you go… . (Rembember: On the PGA, I’m better looking! ;))
The end result? Virtual land that you really, really, really own. And err… if I can do it.. well… most of you can. :) May I present to you - with an uptime of over an hour on a very old XP box - “Vintville”:
A few additional bits of information:
Creating user accounts
When logging in with the super avatar created in Zonja’s Step #6, I ran into this “Could not authenticate your avatar.” Which is strange, as I triple-checked spelling. Ah well, I just created another user in the server console. This is how to:
You have your “server console” (the Command Prompt Window) still open and will see: “Region <root> # :”.
Type “create user <first> <last> <password> 1000 1000″ and press enter. (Example: “create user Vint Falken v1ntr4wks 1000 1000″.) (The “1000″ are X & Y locations, and a necessity when creating users for a standalone grid like ours.)
Login with your client and use first & last name and the password set above.
Shutting down your OpenSim
In the same “server console” (command prompt window) type “shutdown”. Your OpenSim will automatically run ‘backup’. Important sentence: “[scene]: persisting changed objects”. This means next time you start your OpenSim, your objects laid out on your virtual land will still be there.
If then you want to close the command prompt window too, just type “exit” and press ENTER.
Restarting your OpenSim
Go to Start > Run. Type “cmd” and press ENTER. Type “cd c:\program files\opensim” and press ENTER. Type “opensim” and press ENTER. Give it some time to load. Startup with me takes 14 seconds. When you see “Region <root> # :” you’re fine to login again using your Second Life client. If all went well - and you used the ’shutdown’ command for turning it off, anything created previously will still be there.
How to see the uptime
Curious how long your sim is running already? Type “show uptime” and press enter.
“Hyper” is what I usually call a person that’s suffering from the tricky combination of to much coffee, to much stress and not enough sleep. So, I kinda see why something could be called a ‘hypergrid’. It’s like second life but with more bass and more coffee. Right? No? Let’s try again: “a Hypergrid is a confederation of OpenSim systems that have enabled the Hypergrid facility. Each user has a home grid or standalone where their user profile, avatar appearance and inventory is stored. Users can travel from their home to a different grid or standalone via a hyperlink. When they arrive at the foreign grid, they carry with them the url of their home asset and inventory services.” Too long? Ok, one more time: “Hypergrid means ‘portable inventory’. No more having to leave your stuff behind.” I must say, with each definition change, I like it more.
Justin further writes: “The Hypergrid is a very promising architectural direction for OpenSim. It moves from a system of centralized services to one a user can seamlessly navigate between many different grids whilst sourcing their appearance and inventory from their own home services.”
As most things Virtual Worlds related, the Hypergrid is a concept still more than code ready for production use, but a promising concept none the less. More information at the OpenSim wiki. Besides all the technical limitations there’s one issue that stands out: What about DRM?
Scenario: User A has as home base Grid A. User B owns grid B. Now user B visits Grid A and buys SexToy A made by User A and set to no-transfer perms. Grids A & B are hyperlinked, so SexToy A gets transferred to Asset Server B. As User B owns Grid B he has the power to change perms on SexToy A to ‘full perm’. User B goes unto Grid C and has full perm powers over SexToy A which he starts selling cheaper than User A does on Grid A. Digital rights management fail? Probably.
So trust will become the most important issue on ‘the hypergrid’. Both User A & User C should have known better than linking their Grids with user B. Especially as User C runs a teen-oriented grid which he tries to keep SexToy-free. We might need a few more buttons on objects we allow for sale by when this becomes ‘common fashion’, don’t you think? Suggestions: ‘This may (not) be transferred on the hypergrid.’ ‘This is ‘all ages’ / ‘mature’. (And then hypergrid enabled sims could block incoming ‘mature’ items if they wished. But what if a Grid owner allows false flagging of ‘all ages’? Might be good virtual money in that business. Well, I then trust becomes important again.
Rezzable is far from the only group using & experimenting with OpenSim. Aready used for small private grids, education, and - yeah, yeah - playground for tekkies OpenSim is becoming more and more popular. Miss Gwyneth LLewelyn posted a video on YouTube where she guides us through ‘The Baroque Lisbon’, as it stood in 1755 before it was hit by a giant earthquake which destroyed the old city, recreated on Opensim.
Miss Gwyneth points out that although logging in can be a bit troublesome, and region crossings aren’t always smooth - hey, what’s new! - but on an overall scale of ’smoothness’, when all things are rezzed, Lisboa got a pretty good rating. “The result was that the technology is “good enough” for professional, regular work, although it requires a lot of time and patience in constant maintenance to make sure everything works flawlessly. For low-budget projects (where the customer cannot afford the cost of leasing private islands from Linden Lab) or machinima (where scenarios will be basically destroyed after the videos are shot), OpenSim really becomes a viable alternative.”
Another great ‘pro’ for machinima - and any builder basically -, is that you can save & restore an entire OpenSim region (for later use or prosperity). So if you have to redo a shot, you don’t need to rebuild or keep it up for 3 months while it’s not used. Add to that the idea of offering complete ‘opensim regions’ for download - tagged correctly so they are easy to find and conform W3C standards - which will probably be a major hit. Because hey, having your own virtual houses and swimming pools to choose from is nice, but owning an island for every situation could be even more ‘compelling’! If you want to visit Greenies on OpenSim this is how you proceed. ;)
One of the things I’ve been up to lately is help organise the planned ’stress test party’ for Rezzable’s Private Grid. The theme is ‘Find the 7 differences’. Of course, there are more than just seven. Those who are following up on OpenSim know it’s still under heavy construction, with daily bugs being patched, new features added and new possibilities created. Sometimes it seems they proceed 10 times as fast as Lindens do. Partly, this is because of an obvious reason, OpenSim is after all based on the ‘Second Life’ concept by Linden Lab. They do not need to think out everything from scratch. Although they often give it a different spin, if you look at the load balancing for example. But the other 2 reasons are the most compelling ones: OpenSim is less hindered by ‘corporate strategic business decisions dependencies’. (The official LL blog was moved to my ‘to depressing to read’ folder in the feedreader.) Or by ‘one size needs to fit all’. Opposed to using ‘The Second Life Grid’ (where did my trademark symbol go?) where you are depended on the limited estate management options given by LL, on OpenSim - if you have the needed knowledge - your ‘virtual land’ is actually really yours, as you own - or at least rent which gives you full decision powers too - the servers it runs on. Take a ’snapshot’ of a full sim and save it for later use? Possibile on OpenSim. Allow people to choose from ‘avatar templates’ on the web and make them pretty with the items you - and even more important, they! - desire? Possible on OpenSim. Those who know me, probably realise I’m delighted to have a good reason to keep more than 1/4th an eye on OpenSim again! But err.. I’m drifting off… back to the Rezzable Case Files! ;)
For Rezzable the above means that the ‘Private Grid’ is tied in to Rezzable.com. *Tips her hat at the whole dev crew, including Miss Malaprop* We know for certain that your Second Life ‘you’ is your Rezzable.com account - if you have verified your avatar that is - and thus will automatically annotate you your avatar name. No need for yet another identity, is there? And more important, nobody can ’steal’ your identity. There are for me tons of things to experiment with still, and tons of things to learn. But I’ll get the basics down eventually, I assume. An example of ‘things still to learn’ is how to use Second Inventory. So I can port neat things over, like this dragon, shot at Greenies ‘Second’ Home:
Of course, for that I would need to have such a full perm dragon full perm in my inventory. Which is not the case. But I am allowed to dream, no? ;) Another issue is though, that I’m not much of an einzelgänger. So testing an all that is only fun, when they are other folks around to test with. I’m no use testing ‘building’ or ’scripting’ on my own, because well.. I suck at it. (Ok, ok, and I’m pretty high maintenance as it comes to attention! :D) I need other avatars around there to test things with, people who know more about the ‘building’ and ’scripting’ part than I do, who can then report tell me about their issues and ideas and hopes and dreams. (You can leave the NSFW dreams out, kthxbye!) When lonely, I do futile attempts to sit myself on a virtual can of beer: