“It just doesn’t seem fair, how when we get into Second Life and can make our boobs bigger, our legs longer, our hair so big it would make Tammy Faye praise Jezus for us being so much closer to the lord, or finally getting that tail we’re convinced the doctors snipped off at birth. So it only made sense to local multi-talented researcher, engineer, electronic musician and filmmaker/director behind SF experimental music documentary Noisy People — Tim Perkis decided it was time to call a little Design Review meeting about what the “creative team” should do with his “first life avatar.” Fortunately for us, he made a video about the check-in, where he’s surprisingly supportive despite the changes they’re going to have to make in order for him to launch.”
Ann Marie Shillito from Anarkik 3D hooked the “Eightbar crowd” up with a haptic controller. Anarkik are involved with haptic input devices and have developed some really nice software which enables users to interact with virtual worlds and 3D modelling tools using a consumer-priced haptic controller which can be connected to a PC via USB.
Haptic technology refers to technology that interfaces to the user via the sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations and/or motions to the user. This mechanical stimulation may be used to assist in the creation of virtual objects (objects existing only in a computer simulation), for control of such virtual objects, and to enhance the remote control of machines and devices (teleoperators). Here they demonstrate the Anarkik 3D controller being used for navigating in Second Life OpenSim. You must admit it looks way more “kewl” than that - now suddenly boring looking - “SpaceNavigator”, no? ;)
“The demo blew us away. First we had a look at how the controller could be used to drive an avatar in a virtual world (in this case, OpenSim). It’s a considerably more natural way to navigate than the keyboard and mouse setup that is provided with most 3D worlds and should lead to a lot more accessibility into these environments. The part that really impressed us was the capability of driving a CAD-like tool called Cre8 - a free download from Anarkik, for people who have the controller - to easily create three-dimensional objects by physical manipulation… both inside and out. I remember hacking around with an old 3D package called Euclid on my RISC OS machine back in the early 90s and it was a nightmare - this was sheer joy. Watch the video to see various people playing around with the haptic controller :-)”
Numerous, more than 700, Second Life avatars are using the social networking service Plurk. Plurk? Well, it’s kinda like Twitter, but then better, with _real_ conversations and a timeline. But up to now, they were ‘homeless’. They could set their Real Life country in profile location data, but not “Second Life” or a region.
This inspired Moggs Oceanlane and other influential Second Life Plurkers, often with a karma - Plurk’s ranking system - way above that of the average atomic - to start a quest for “recognition of Second Life citizenship”, or at least location data on Plurk’s getsatisfaction.com page: Avatars want to find one another too! A successful quest, I should add:
Today, Plurk officially added “Second Life” as a country on their location list, allowing ‘plurking’ avatars to easy find each other and browse ‘Second Life’ rankings. On getsatisfaction.com, Amir Salihefendic even responded: “As of today “Second life” is a country on Plurk :-) We may explore some more integration with “Second life” later on.” Woot! One small step for an avatar, a large one for mankind avatarkind. On Plurk, the joke of the day is: “Next, a seat in the United Nations?!” :D
And me? Until I feel more ‘virtual’ than ‘real’ and we have social health benefits in Second Life, I’ll gladly stick to Belgium as an excellent country. Thank you very much for the offer though! ;)
New and direct competition to Second Life’s famous ‘BlogHUD‘ service, has entered the market. Bletaverse positions itself as the blog service for people in Second Life. “Every resident can get his own free and personal blog here. With our easy tools you can post landmarks, images and text from the inside of Second Life on your blog.”
To get your own free weblog you have to get the free Bletaverse HUD first (for instance, here on OnRez). The HUD installs your weblog automatically. Your blog will be available under the URL http://bletaverse.com/Your Name. To activate the HUD you have to wear it. Imediately you can start posting. With the Bletaverse HUD you can:
Post your current location
Post lines of text
You can send snapshots via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and they appear on your blog within a few minutes.
Where as the Free Bletaverse Service now has 3020 users (but only 9662 posts), BlogHUD has only 1146, but a whole lot more posts and functionality. The ‘PRO’ version of the BlogHUD allows you to crosspost images to Flickr and/or directly to your blogs at LiveJournal, Blogger, Wordpress, Tumbler, … . So until this functionality comes available on the Bletaverse HUD, I assume people will definitely stick to the BlogHUD (although I personally prefer Bletaverse’s blog design & site loading times.) So err… just to let you know it’s out there! ;)
Update: Jan Maroon - Bletaverse owner - answers to my remarks and asks for possible suggestions in the comments here.
After my - highly amusing to some, highly frustrating to others - encounter with Miss/Mr Prokofy Neva yesterday, I am in dying need for positive things. Proof that there are residents that don’t just talk/troll, but that are doing constructive things that benefit the whole Second Life community rather than an old hag’s ego. Was I lucky, as I found out about Brazen Women’s ‘Mature Woman Skins’: “The Classic Lines skins were created from custom modifications to Eloh Eliot’s open source skin files. This line was designed to provide a range of ages for women, in a variety of skin tones, make-up colours, hair colours, and pubic hair styles.”
See, drawing wrinkles on any texture isn’t that easy as it seems! ;)
Classic Lines I - The Skin has a hint of lines and creases on the face. / Classic Lines II - Deepens those lines for a slightly older woman. / Classic Lines III - A face of laugh lines and wrinkles, with salt-and-pepper eyebrows, and a body that is not as trim as her younger counterparts.
Hair Colour Options
Each Classic Lines skin pack includes 4 hair colours (black, brown, red, blond), in 2 pubic hair choices (natural & shaved) for a total of 8 skins. Classic Lines III skin pack also includes the salt & pepper hair color in natural and shaved versions.
Remember, these ‘free full perm skin files’ are NOT supplied in Photoshop format so you could import them in Second Life & resell them. They are donated to the community so you could create your own skins, based upon them and with proper attribution to Miss Eloh Eliot & Beebo Brink!
We have received your free registration for our upcoming 3D virtual world NEXT ISLAND on Entropia Universe. Thank you for signing up. We are re-modeling our portal site and the new site should be up within 3-4 weeks. But you can start now.
If you can respond to this email from your email you will be automatically eligible for drawings, contests and virtual (and possibly real world) goodies. We do need to know if you are already a player in Entropia Universe. If you are you don’t need to do a virtual world registration. Also if you would like to be a “buzz agent” for Next Island please indicate that in your response. We will send you the appropriate info. You will get a bounty for every new player who registers - only those new registrants who are not now Entropia players. Thanks - look for the LAUNCH of NEXT ISLAND - in May 2009. We think you will find it to be cool and engaging.
Besides that, not much new. If you want a copy of the “promo attachment” in the mail (summarized: Why we will succeed!) let me know, and I’ll forward it.
When I wrote about Head & Feature tracking using Irrlicht and ARtoolkit a few months ago, we all agreed we wouldn’t see this coming to Second Life anywhere soon. We all were wrong, as now there is the ‘VR-WEAR SL head analysis viewer’. Get the custom viewer (<- page not working atm, go here), hook up your webcam and make sure you’re ‘well lit’ and start smiling! Or is it a bit more complicated than that?
Stating “IMMERSION + INTERACTIVITY = ENGAGEMENT”, the VR-Wear SL Head Analysis Viewer - I suggest a short name, maybe SLmime? - at the moment recognizes the following real life attitudes and projects them unto your avatar: a ‘yes’ oder ‘no’ head motion, looking surprised, a big smile and left/right head bending. The software, as still in beta stage, is very sensitive to proper light exposure and framing.
After downloading the Second Life VRW Viewer 0.99 beta 3 (available for both Mac and PC), unzip the file in your preferred location in your PC. Then simply launch the ‘SecondLife.exe’ at the root of the directory. Once you are logged into Second Life, simply open the Edit > Preferences tab. Navigate to the ‘webcam’ tab, and click ‘Enable webcam’ then ‘OK’. The viewer is now capturing your face motions and ‘mimicking’ them on your avatar.
An added bonus is that the VR-wear head motion analysis software is ‘open’. If you are developing and distributing open source applications under the GPL License, then you are free to use VR-WEAR mod under the GPL License. Happen to be fluent in c++ and/or got some experience with the OpenCV library and/or signal processing and want to join dev? Don’t hesitate say ‘hi!’ to the VR-wear developers.
Oh, and ‘presenter’ Alex has the cutest ‘big smile’:
VRW - SL Viewer mod - 0.99 beta 1 public release
I notified ‘Vista’ under ‘issues’ - as usual -, but am I so hoping I can try this out somewhere soon. (I just need to find the combination good daylight + cable internet connection + time.) In the mean while, I’ll just practise my ‘huge smile’ some more, which is not that hard, as I’m terribly excited about ‘SLmime’. ;) But I do wonder, what is the ‘tongue out’ button for?!!
I stated a while ago that all good virtual worlds documentaries originate from the European area, I believe the same goes for films about ‘virtual worlds’ and MMORPGs. I’m a liar, you say? No. For starters, the USA does not have a film about such a topic yet. We do. Belgian Nic Baltazar wrote and directed ‘Ben X’, a movie in which you will not find an obsessive amount of guns, drugs and plastic surgery, but a compelling story that tells itself in ‘real life’ as well as the virtual world.
Ben is different. Ben is an autistic teenager and an easy target for bullying. To counter his weakness, he escapes into an online fantasy universe where his heroic avatar - Ben X - spends hours immersed in a popular video game. And that’s where he meets Scarlite, a female warrior avatar to whom he swears they’ll never fight a battle alone. So, yes, there is some virtual blood. ;)
The bullying does not stop. Ben agrees to meet the pretty Scarlite (her facebook page). Best of all: Ben’s online persona & Scarlite give him the bravery needed to start ‘a real life mission’. If that one ends well and Ben gets to level up, well, I’m not going to ruin the movie experience. ;)
The ‘popular video game’ chosen for Ben X is surprisingly not World of Warcraft, but Archlord: “Thousand of Challenges, One Archlord, Zero Fees”. (Yeah, I love the tagline.) Now, talking about a great way to boost user signups? ;)
This is a film worth watching for all that are dead tired of stereotypes like CSI’s ‘murder over virtual sword’. Ben X has a different angle on looking at ‘real & virtual persona’ and both the real life imagery and the Archlord machinima are stunning. Only one problem, there are no ‘Ben X’ DVD’s with English subtitles available. This means you either brush up on your Dutch or French, wait until March 10, 2009 or hope the remake ever happens. Maybe that leaves one solution still, but that’s up to you to decide. Oh, if you can understand/read Dutch or read French, I might consider lending you my copy!
Second Life and World of Warcraft are not really “worlds”, whatever their proponents might claim. They are sophisticated 3-D environments that allow for a much greater degree of engagement than other tools, and they offer tools for interaction and creative expression that browsers, chatrooms and e-mail do not. However, the grandiose terminology makes it too easy to dismiss their importance.
First ever World of Warcraft TV advertisement I’ve seen in Belgium. Now, why can’t we have something like this? I don’t necessarily mean a TV ad staring Heavy Metal fossils, but if WoW gets Ozzy, Twitter getsShaq, then there should be someone out there for us too? As we want that person to help Second Life’s image, I think we better pass on Ozzy Osbourne? ;)