Friday, April 30, 2010

22 of 52 - Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx

This week has been spent almost mostly IRL due to lots of work, and my ghostly experiences in Cats exhibition. So I don't got a lot of exciting virtual world stuff to write about (LOL do I ever actually?).

Anyway, after reading this post by Melissa Yeuxdoux I clicked Update Version on my work Ubuntu computer today, and have found that both the official Viewer 2.01 and the Cool VL Viewer works fine. As do my VPN connection. It does seem that the computer is running just a little bit faster too! Once disconcerting thing is that the close window button is now at the top left of the windows instead of top right. Oh well, will probably get used to that:-)

Glancing at the release pages there seems to be a lot of new fancy stuff, so I hope to get Lyra upgraded soon too.

Next week I hope to finally get Cats price awarded picture on the wall; I have cleaned away some stuff.

Happy Free Weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Is there anything else I can help you with?

Seems I have missed something; Jayn tipped me to try live chat to solve my ghost problem, something that I have actually never tried before. After stating my problem, the kind person at the other end responded:

[07:00 AM] Naeree: Christopher, we will restart the region to resolve this issue. Please try to log in in about 15 minutes after clearing your cache and changing your log in location.

[07:01 AM] Naeree: Is there anything else I can help you with?

WOW. They actually restarted a region just for me! And problem was solved in a few minutes. But the thing that really made me happy was this "is there anything else I can help you with?" question.

That's an attitude I like as a customer.

Thanks, Naeree, for being my personal ghostbuster!

STILL a ghost :-(

Now, here is something new. Last night I finally managed to log in and go home. I happily logged out again, from home, feeling relieved that I was no longer hanging around Cat's exhibit as a ghost.

But don't you know: Today, I was again unable to log in. And again, I was standing as a ghost in the gallery, even if I WAS NOT THERE WHEN I LOGGED OUT!

Sigh, SL....

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Art and a ghost blogger

After a RL-heavy weekend it was nice to log onto SL for a short session (I thought LOL) and sort through some group messages.

First stop was the WASP (an australian university). Never got around to see M Lindens doodles; its nice to see that its possible to sit in them at least:-)

Next off to Cat's Cyberfunk exhibit at Gualdo. Something new from her again:-) I was just sitting wondering which one to buy....

And now the embarrassing part of this story begins. My viewer crashes on me. I try to log on again, and SL insists that my account is locked in a logout process for 5 minutes. I try again, and its another 5 minutes. LOL. Well, its late, I was kind of tired,and I just closed the lid, not thinking what I left behind....

When I checked the email this morning, there where several IM's indicating that people thought I was online, but just did not bother answering. Awww. Rude. But the worst part is that my ghost was still standing in the middle of Cat's exhibit. I discovered that when I still could not log in, and checked with an Alt.

Its a strange feeling, standing there, looking at "myselves", and not being able to do anything about it.

Seems I'm really stuck in the middle of nowhere for now: In SL, I'm a ghost that's visible, but can be walked right through. I am online as seen from any friends list, but if they try to IM me they won't get the offline message. Even so, the IM's are sent to email, as if I really was offline.

The Lindens are working on it (according to the ticket system) so I hope I will be able to get off (and on again!) soon. So to you who tried to reach me last night: I really was just dreaming:-)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

21 of 52 - Fuschia again

I really don't know where she gets it from. But Fuschia Nightfire never ceases to amaze me.

Yes, I've seen all-white environments before, but they have all been huge skyboxes or full sim places. Fuschia has managed to fit the entire installation inside a 20m sculputured megaprim on the ground, and it still captures the whole screen when you are inside.

I'm usually very involved when I'm inworld, that is I have a strong sense of "being" my avatar. Ener had a blog post about this that I found very interesting. Just like me, she use to position her avatar facing the one she is talking to. It feels kind of right to keep your av aligned to the actual action. When I'm around looking at art, I mostly walk around, letting my av "look at" the work, even if I use the Cam controls to zoom a bit. Somehow it does not feel right to just let Cris sit in a corner while I cam around the whole place.

It's really not just emotional either. The main difference between virtual worlds and the Web is NOT that everything is in 3D (there are 3D web apps around, and lots of 2D content in SL). No, the main difference is that everyone viewing a location is also represented there for everyone else to see. And that's really huge. Even if it's just an avatar without any Real Life info being viewable, it still breaks the normal anonymity people are used to on the Web.

So, as a courtesy to everyone else around I feel it's right to let my avatar indicate what I am looking at and what I am doing. Because a virtual world is all about participating, not just looking.

Anyway, when the SL window goes all-white I really feel I am enclosed in a bubble of white. It's like walking inside the work of art.

Again, art in SL is evolving at a furious pace. It's a great showcase for virtual worlds, because the medium offers possibilities not available anywhere else. Not just by viewing 3D art, but also by being able to participate in the art. There is a freebe white skin available inside the gallery, and by dressing more appropriate than I did, you can add yourselves to the artistic expression other gets WHILE watching it!

The installation is currently available at PiRats. She has also made a machinema of this installation, it's on You Tube.

PiRats is an interesting build btw. It's not spectacular in itselves, but it had a quality of design and build that I find rare.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

20 of 52 - Viewer 2.0 - inspired by World of Warcraft?

First time I saw it, I was actually thrilled about viewer 2.0. It seemed slick, modern and kind of cool.

Then I had to search for the functions I wanted that was kind of hidden, to somehow hide the complexity of the UI for new users. Like showing the position I'm in. It kind of annoyed me, but OK, its fixable.

Later on I found that the chat and IM system with small icons showing in the bottom line, instead of transparent text merely scrolling up the screen was cumbersome in actual use. I spent so much time clicking on icons to retrieve conversations, it really worked me up.

The other day, I suddenly noticed I had not been using viewer 2.0 for a long time, and I also felt I really did not want to. So I wonder: What makes me react that way? Is it just a question about getting used to the interface, as M Linden says? Or is there something fundamentally wrong with it, as lots of residents feel.

Now, the above situation is not unusual: 2 Inventory windows, a chat window and the edit dialog, all up at once. In viewer 2.0, that makes your view of the world rather small I think it's safe to say LOL. In contrast with the previous viewer:

All the windows are transparent, allowing you to keep oriented all around you, even if you have lots of stuff going on. Also, the tabbed IM window with blinking tabs signalling new messages is a fast and easy way of switching between conversations, if you don't want multiple windows open.

The old UI elements is smaller and less obtrusive in the old viewer. In viewer 2.0, the buttons, fields and borders around stuff are so much more "in the way" of things.

Now, SL is not the only virtual world in town. Its not even the largest; that position belongs to the game World of Warcraft. So, I thought it would be interesting to look at the GUI of WoW, comparing it to the line of development that Linden Lab is now taking.

The incredible Hulk - Cristopher

In contrast to the viewer 2.0, there are lots of small UI elements on screen; text and graphics effects showing what's happening is popping up all over the screen.

But when you open some dialogs, your view is suddenly gone:

Please Cry Wolf if you see them, cause I certainly can't

Non-transparent dialogs. Makes me wonder: Is this where the LL developers got their inspiration from? Do they actually play WoW at Battery Road?

Walking through a toombstone - am I a ghost now?

According to Ener, Phantoms are your friends. Seems that is true in WoW too:-)

One funny detail: When you choose to exit the game, your character sits down, looking kind of tired:

Apart from the non-transparent dialogs, WoW looks nothing like Viewer 2.0. It's not pretending to be a web browser to hide it's complexity. Because a WoW screen can be fearfully more complex than the beginner examples I show here. Yet, people don't seem daunted by the complexity of the GUI; rather the opposite. More than 10 million people actually pay monthly to play WoW, as opposed to Second Life that has a little more than 100.000 paying (premium) members.

So: Did LL had to simplify the viewer to get people to stay in SL? The latest numbers actually indicates that it has not helped a lot.

For me, the hunt for the best viewer continues. But I doubt it will be viewer 2.0.

Eastern Stupidity

"Eastern Wisdom" is a proverb that carries a positive meaning in my country. I would love feedback from any Asian user that might stumble upon my blog. I have actually spent some time exploring links and translating comments, just to check for constructive remarks.

Alas, whenever I get a comment containing either Chinese or Japanese characters, they are just malicious exploits of the commenting system, trying to post links to various porn sites.

To any of you Eastern Idiots posting these: I don't tolerate it, and will just delete them on sight. So just don't bother:-)

Monday, April 12, 2010

@Palais Orleans Photo Studio

Coming online tonight I got an invite from Cat Boccaccio, offering champagne and a chance to look at some new works. I took the taxi to Tasogare, and was greeted by Cat and a nice lady called Chasity that looked anything but:-) The wonders of SL!

Cat showed some pieces that was new to me, and that I really liked. Stunning effects of water distortion on the detailed tattooed body:-)

madison Arnahan is not only the owner of this nice gallery, she is also an artist, and I really liked her work:

The combination of the B&W wood background and the delicate skin and lace colours was something new in avatar art (at least for me). I just love to spot creativity!

Again, one thing so great with SL is the possibility to meet the artist and talk about their work and emotions, even if they live on the other side of the world. This will certainly not be my last visit to her place.

I got to meet Peoney Feld, an artist that "...enjoy a little humor in my work...." Indeed she does, "postcard from SL" hit me right on target:-) Hmm this was a dangerous evening for my L$ account:-)

She had some sharp observations about peoples sexuality that I quite liked. I am looking forward to touring her main gallery.

Also on display by Cat was "Pnigalion", "...a scripted work that was entered (and won) in the then Perspectives 2010 competition.".

During my years in SL, I have seen several artists explore the possibilities of scripted art. It's often fancy to look at pictures with wheels turning around, clocks ticking, water flowing or blood dripping. But too often, it's effects for the sake of the effects. That does not make great art. But here, Cat has made great art. The work tells a story in a subtle way, so subtle indeed that I overlooked the effect first time I saw it.

This is truly where classic art meets modern virtual world technique in a novel and irresisteble combination (at least for me; I have a copy on order LOL) . If you have not seen this piece yet, go have a look. And if someone ever doubts that virtual worlds are a serious tool, show them this piece. In all its artistery, its also truly NPIRL, and shows us the way art is evolving.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Just some time off :-)

I really needed to slip out tonight, so I slid American Beauty into the DVD player, fired up Hagrid on the sofa table and dived into SL.

Nice new garden outside

Rune Shamen and Cierra Loxely runs Shamen Galleries - not long since I was there. But I've been getting these group messages about a new exhibit closing soon, so I made it my first stop on my list tonight.

Trasgo Beaumont has made this great classic statue - with some SL twists

Redecorated inside shows the fabulous range of artists these curators knows

I'm not really very knowledgeable when it comes to art. But every now and then I encounter works that just seems to reach some spot deep inside me.

gliding gulls in black sphere - I am enchanted

Who other than my favourite SL artist, Fuschia Nightfire, have made this innovative work? Fuschia , thanks for beeing in SL still. You give me a reason to stay too.

While looking at art I started getting group chats from Maximillion Kleene, a singer I have heard before. He was about to start a live concert at the Romantica Yacht Club. The black glass sphere was burning in my Recent Item pocket, but I felt for some music before rezzing it at home.

The one and only Tipping Cow:-)

"What a day for a daydream" is making me smile even as I write this:-) I just so enjoy this artist.

I do love watching Kevin Spacey finding his second youth, quitting his job, working out, flirting with his daughers girlfriends. But a great concert in SL is just such a nice end of the day too.

Now, this strange neighboor is throwing out his son because he thinks he's gay - and he runs away with Kevin's daugther LOL - but who did really shoot him at the end? The freak and the daughter? The wife? The poor mad gay colonel? hmm, I have wathed this movie several times, but I'm still not sure:-)

Ener wrote a great post the other day (she often does btw; she is just so productive, I can't really understand how she manages, something strengtening in the poutine?) Anyway, she wrote:

because LL is shifting does not mean it is evil

So true. LL is focusing. One may not like the focus, or the lost opportunities to make easy money (wow, I remember the fun I had, buying land at the auctions and selling it for profit, was so easy I almost got a bad concience LOL). Those days are long gone. But SL still grows. Art and music is thriving. And there are lots of places to explore.

I will add:

because competition grows in virtual worlds does not mean SL will not be able to compete in lots of areas.

Now Kevin is undressing his daughers GF, not understanding how bad he is off until she reveals she's a virgin. Now, they're sitting the kitchen, drinking coffe, he asks her if her daugher is happy. So cute.

SL's strenght is in the social networking sphere. But being strong there will keep other markets away. Because if you do education, you may want to keep the flirting and the dancing a bit distant, just to ensure seriousness. If I ever want to convince my employer to use virtual world technology to communicate, it seems much easier to use a grid that is not seen as a kind of game. That's just one reason I have faith in OpenSim grids like ReactionGrid.

The man is dying wathcing a photo of his lost family, finally being happy and content with the life he had lived.

The other reason is standardization. If you create content targeted to Second Life, it will not neccessarlily work in any other grid. If you create content in any OpenSim based grid however, it will be portable to any other grid or hosting provider. You can develop offline, just giving the provider a single .oar file to publish your complete region. You can copy your region to other worlds, or just move it. The lack of such possibilities have allways limited creators.

Yes, that thing of beauty is finally home in my living room!

"It's hard to stay mad when there's so much beauty in the world." says the dead Kevin. I guess that is true regarding Linden Lab as well.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

19 of 52 - TOS and the final Rainbow Viewer

A sore-eyed avatar looking at the SL TOS documents in the background

Running on Hagrid right now is Boy Lane's Rainbow Viewer final edition. There will be no more versions, due to the Labs rather messy Third Party Viewer Policy. Boy no longer feels comfortable with the expressed responsibility LL requires developers to take on by accepting the new TOS. Really sad, because the Rainbow viewer was the only one optimized for my Wind Netbook.

Btw, did you know that the SL TOS is now almost 20 pages? And that it references 17 - seventeen - additional documents containing legalese covering subjects ranging from maturity ratings to gambling policy?

To be fair to the Lindens, they do operate a large business in a world run by lawyers, and have to make sure they have their back free. But if they want to continue to run a world with content largely being supplied by end users, they need to take some actions. To take some responsibilities away from the creative minds in this community. If it becomes necessary to hire a lawyer to interpret the TOS before you start to produce and sell content in SL, then a lot of the small suppliers will just leave in disgust. Fun has left the building.

In contrast to the ReactionGrid TOS that is a simple half-page statement.

The sad fact though is that the day that RG gets to the same size as SL, it's TOS will probably also have grown. Today, the people behind this grid has nice titles like "CEO/Developer" (a clear contradiction in terms in established businesses LOL, how great it would be if they decided to keep it so! But there are foul forces in play in the business world sigh) So I raise Cris' Theorem regarding legalese in virtual worlds: "The page count of the TOS of any virtual world is proportional to its population and size of management."

In Norway, we have a beloved author of children books called Torbjørn Egner. In one of his books, The Peoples and Robbers of Cardemon Town, he formulates an even simpler law: The Law of Cardemon:
You should not bother others,
you should be nice and kind,
otherwise you can do as you please.
I think that will be the terms of service for entering my SIM:-)