1 nov: physical virtuality: “what’s the weight of an avatar?”

by on Oct.31, 2008, under Virtual Worlds

FEEL the presence of virtual world avatars in a cross-world interactive installation, connecting virtual life to our physical world.

On saturday the 1st of november, visitors of the NEMO Science Center in Amsterdam will be physically connected to inhabitants of the virtual world Second Life through an intervirtual balancing plateau.

The total weight of avatars standing on the virtual side of the plateau will be calculated and processed along with the weight of all people standing on the physical side of the plateau. This outcome will trigger the synchronised real-time movement of both the hydraulic powered and script controlled side of the plateau, resulting in an experience of indirect physical contact between real and virtual beings.

A two way videoprojection will visually connect the virtual and real-life participants standing on the installation.

physical location: Science Center NEMO, Oosterdok 2, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
virtual location: Brooklyn is Watching project space in Second Life.

Date/time: saturday 1st of november 2008

18:00 – 1:00 GMT
19:00 – 2:00 CET
10:00 – 17:00 PST

I will be there in real life helping out, come by and say hi.
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Dutch court convicts teens for stealing virtual property.

by on Oct.26, 2008, under Virtual Worlds

In the Leeuwarden district court two boys, aged 14 and 15 where sentenced to community service for forcing a other boy to transfer Runescape items to the attackers accounts. The 2 boys punched, kicked and threatened the victim with a knife.

The most interesting part of this case was that the issue isn’t the assault but if virtual items should be considered goods that can be stolen. The lawyer defending the 2 boys argued that legally the items don’t exist and can’t be stolen.

The court doesn’t agree with that defence and cited a earlier ruling that electricity can be considered a a material object in criminal law and stealing electricity is theft. The same principle applies in this case and stealing virtual items is theft, the court rules.

source: RNW

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The Imprudence Project

by on Sep.02, 2008, under Virtual Worlds

ImprudenceJacek Antonelli announced today the Imprudence Project. Being disappointed with current slow pace of development of the SL viewer, Jacek and McCabe Maxsted have started a organised effort to create a user maintained viewer with a pro change attitude. From my own experience with watching the Jira it can often take weeks or months for user created patches to end up in a Release Candidate viewer let alone the Released client.

“This is probably the first you’ve heard about Imprudence, so I’ll take a moment to explain it. Imprudence is (or rather, will be) a major fork of the open source Second Life Viewer. Our aim is to greatly improve the usability of the Viewer through community involvement, thoughtful design, modern development methods, and a pro-change atmosphere.

Why are we doing this? Because we, the Second Life Residents, need a better Viewer, and Linden Lab isn’t getting it done — not fast enough, anyway. “

To give their ideas shape and direction they created a manifesto. It explains more precise why they are doing this and what the goals and methods will be for this project.

“The primary goal of Imprudence is simple: to greatly improve the usability of the Viewer. In particular, there are 3 aspects of usability that we intend to address:

  • Approachability. Improving comfort and ease of use, especially for new or non-technical users.
  • Efficiency. Improving speed and ease of common tasks and workflows.
  • Satisfaction. Improving the emotional effect of the software on the user. “

In many ways this is very exciting, reminding me of my early days in SL, when the scent of change was in the air. They are inviting everyone to help whatever your skill level or expertise. Non programmers are specifically invited, tell them what you think is important, or comeup with a new UI design, etc.

Though a project like this stands or falls by the community involvement and the original creators capability and desire to let it grow beyond themselves. But it seems like they are aware of that and have set it up in a way that it is very easy to continue or split off if so needed.

Let’s welcome their intentions, energy, hard work and help out where needed, and who knows what wonders will await us.

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Call for Submissions: SLCC machinima festival in Tampa 9/7

by on Aug.31, 2008, under Virtual Worlds

Rhiannon Chatnoir is putting together an impromptu machinima festival/screening at SLCC in Tampa, FL for next Sunday, Sept 7th. If you would like to submit a machinima please send an email by this Wednesday to with either a zipped attached file of it or a web URL where It can be downloaded it from. is a good place to upload a movie if needed.

I’m looking forward to some great submissions and seeing you there.

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Head Tracking in Second Life.

by on Aug.27, 2008, under Virtual Worlds

Our avatars usually are just standing around when we communicate via text or voice in Second Life, not adding any emotion or emphasis to what we say. Sometimes we enhance them with gestures or animations, but it never reaches the deep level of communication you can have with your real life face.

VR-Wear is about to change that, they have been working for several months now to integrate signal processing capabilities in the Second Life Viewer. The VR-Wear team is now able to connect a web cam and analyze your head motions in real-time and have them acted out in Second Life.

VR-Wear has released a short YouTube video showing the tracking of a head gesturing Yes and No. Their software will be released in September with a load of emotions and motions filters that will make your Avatar behave more like you. Maybe even exactly like you, but if really would want that is up for debate.

For the programmers amongst us will be the opportunity to participate and create their own versions. The project will be released under a dual license (GPL-like for non-commercial applications).


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AjaxLife for the iPhone

by on Aug.08, 2008, under Virtual Worlds

If you are unfamiliar with AjaxLife it is described as followed: “AjaxLife is a web app that allows you to log in to the Second Life virtual world from almost anywhere.”
Of course there are some limits to this, most notably that you don’t see the 3D world. Functionally you can do lot, for example chat, teleport, pay and tranfer inventory. This is usefull if you need to login to SL from a computer that doesn’t has or can’t run the Viewer.

To bring this functionality to even more devices and locations a iPhone version has been released. Though this version does not has as much functionality as the web app yet. So far you can Chat, send IMs to your your friends List and recieve IMs. This is a cool and quick way to say hi to a friend or answer a customer while you are on the road, or when you are at a boring movie for example.

To use it you can browse with your iPhone or iPod touch to . Or if you don’t have a iPhone you can use (seems to work best in Safari) and browse to in it.

Pictures of AjaxLife via the iphone tester

There was some trouble with posting this and had to redo it 2 times, my apologies for the repeats in your rss readers.

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How to stop the Tools menu from Hiding

by on Aug.07, 2008, under Virtual Worlds

No Tools Menu

The tools menu gets automatically hiding in the 1.20 release of the Second Life viewer. This was done to reduce the number of menus presented to the (new) users. It only becomes visible when the ‘Build’ window is open.

I like the idea of removing menu items, to make SL looks less daunting for the new User. It seems though that the change is unpopular with and it is going to be changed back in the 1.21 viewer. For the people who can’t wait to have it back, Jacek explained on her blog how to have the Tools menu back permanently with just some simple copy and paste.

This trick is a simple one. Since SL looks for the Tools menu by name to find which menu to hide, all you have to do is change its name, and SL won’t find it, and it’ll stay visible all the time!

The really easy way (download the replacement file):

  1. Download my pre-chewed XML file to “Second Life/skins/default/xui/en-us/”, replacing the existing one. On OS X, go to Applications, ctrl-click on “Second Life”, choose “Show Package Contents”, then put the file in “Contents/Resources/skins/default/xui/en-us/”.
  2. Restart SL, enjoy.

The slightly less easy way (edit the file yourself):

  1. Open up “Second Life/skins/default/xui/en-us/menu_viewer.xml” in your text editor. On OS X, go to Applications, ctrl-click on “Second Life”, choose “Show Package Contents”, then open up “Contents/Resources/skins/default/xui/en-us/viewer-menu.xml” with TextEdit (or your favorite text editor).
  2. Search for: name="Tools" (it’s on line 590)
  3. Change name="Tools" to name="Toolz" or some other non-Tools word.
  4. Save the file, restart SL, enjoy.

Voila, your Tools menu will now be visible all the time. Piece of cake

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Google Lively

by on Jul.09, 2008, under Virtual Worlds

Google dropped a bomb on the virtual world market today by releasing a new virtual world called Lively. I’m not writing a deep review yet, my first impression is that it feels like IMVU. It is better then IMVU though, you can at least move your avatar around a room, but the best part is that it runs in a browser(via a plugin). Sadly there are no content creation tools yet, or the ability to upload models, I heard those are coming.

What I really am hoping for is some sort of scripting tools to make interactive objects. That would really open up the possibility space.

I’m excited though, some people see it as yet another dress up virtual world. But I think with Google backing it has a lot more potential by the simple fact alone of the amount attention this will get. Add to that possibilities of Google earth and Sketchup mashups.

The Vesuvius Room in Lively:

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Paralysed Japanese man takes a walk in Second Life.

by on Jun.02, 2008, under Virtual Worlds

This is realy a great story:

A paralysed man using only his brain waves has been able to manipulate a virtual Internet character, Japanese researchers said Monday, calling it a world first.
The 41-year-old patient used his imagination to make his character take a walk and chat to another virtual person on the popular Second Life website.

The patient, who has suffered paralysis for more than 30 years, can barely bend his fingers due to a progressive muscle disease so cannot use a mouse or keyboard in the traditional way.

In the experiment, he wore headgear with three electrodes monitoring brain waves related to his hands and legs. Even though he cannot move his legs, he imagined that his character was walking.

He was then able to have a conversation with the other character using an attached microphone, said the researchers at Japan’s Keio University.

This is very amazing news, and something many people have hoped that virtual worlds could be used for. I wonder if the man feels like he has gained some freedom back.

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Free your hands

by on Apr.12, 2008, under Virtual Worlds

Mitch Kapor and Philippe Bossut from Kapor Enterprises designed a interface prototype that makes it possible to operate Second Life with out a mouse or keyboard, and called it Hands Free 3D.
3 months ago they started to work on this idea, they modified the open source client to support a 3D camera as a input device. This following YouTube movie demonstrates the possibilities:

It is pretty good what they already got done, but one does wonder how comfortable it is to navigate this way, it might be fun for a presentation, but I’m skeptical if this really is a superior control system. Besides they don’t show a example of building, which I’m more interested in. I can envision something where you pick up prims and mod them with your hands.

They mention that 3D cameras aren’t available for the mainstream yet, but I would think a larger screen or a beamer would be needed to, to better see where you are.

It is a cool development, and it is only the first phase. Now we have to figure out how this could be best used.

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