Thursday, April 16, 2015

Divine Safari

          Just two destinations on this 48th consecutive Safari, but this was a week when less is more.  That's what we told ourselves, as we all kept losing our hair. What is up with that? For months, hair loss has been a rare event when grid jumping, and now it's back. What we need to do is sit down with a dev and.... well, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

First stop, CrazyEaster.
          Three times a year, nani Ferguson and Ange Menges create a piece of  'art éphèmér' ' temporary, carpe diem stuff you better not blink or you'll miss it. 

          This spring is no exception to their building calendar. CrazyEaster sim offers two games. Firstly there's a straightforward Hunt (for ten eggs containing mesh prizes) and secondly, a fabulous board game for up to four players. Large signs at the landing point explain the simple rules. 

          This is a tour de force in building and artistic imagination. 
          The game, similar to Snakes and Ladders, begins at the landing point and ends in the sky above. It's a Steampunk Alice-in-Wonderland confection containing impossible creatures and hybrid objects, all beautifully textured.

            To spread the potential lag, Ange and nani put identical .oars on two different grids - OSGrid and Metropolis. So far they've had over a hundred visitors, which, is quite a feat considering the fragmented nature of OpenSim, and its population of busy pioneers. The prizes are interesting, but don't just come to grab freebies - take a good look around at the twisted fantasy world these two long term artistic partners have developed.
          You only have until the end of the month to explore this sim, so don't delay, go play today! URIs at the end of the post as always.
              So, the idea was that, in order to not lag out the extremely complex build,  the Safari should split into two groups or teams and very gently and slowly tp over to the sims. 
          Of course, we didn't do that at all. The Safari likes to hang out as a group, and nobody could really be bothered to start ordering people to go to one specific version of CrazyEaster.  Yeah, we probably should, but we don't.  Lani Global said something about that the other night when we were chatting. I said, "OpenSim is about freedom, variety and instability", and she said "Yes, just like real life." And so it is.    
              Would great crashing and lag result from people showing up willy-nilly, as everyone suggested? Not at all. Tiny bit of being stuck to the ground, but it passed off in the time it took to cam around. 
          Hopping backwards and forward between the two grids, it was interesting to compare the performance of each, bearing in mind that the CrazyEaster servers are in France, and Metro is in Germany while OSGrid is in the US. They were really very close to identical. The most noticeable thing is that in hypergridding, attachments have gone haywire again. 
           The missing attachment thing is frustrating because you can see your own hair, skirt and shoes perfectly in place, but those around you see you bald, barefoot and showing your butt. 
          Here's a HG dilemma - Which is worse - to tell, or not to tell, someone their hair or shoes aren't there? If you say something, you can become irritating to the poor baldy, especially when they can't fix the problem. If you say nothing, you're left feeling rather disloyal. 
          These technical difficulties feed in to social interaction. Do core developers really understand how that affects people's use of virtual worlds and their willingness to keep using them?
          Well, let's meet one and find out.

           Crista Lopes, also known (and worshiped) as Diva Canto, met us on the UCI grid. It was a real treat to have her explain a little about her work with students, how open sim development. We met on the beach, where Diva has a small meeting area. It's a place where she can hang out and listen to music, and also meet students.

Crista Lopes: Many times I meet my students here. I have some workstations that are good for the kinds of work I do with them - paper reviewing, presentations, etc
Crista Lopes: everyone has a laser pointer, and you can highlight areas just like I just did. this is great for when we're working on the slides
Aime.Socrates: it works! How old are your students Crista ?
Crista Lopes: they're graduate students
Thirza Ember: I'm curious, do they know about us... the amateurs who play in virtual worlds? and what do they think of us?
Crista Lopes: of course! some of my students do research in distributed real-time systems like opensim
          Isolde started touching stuff, beginning a downloading process she really didn't mean to. Luckily there is no 'end of the metaverse' button on Diva's island. Well, not that we saw, anyway.

Crista Lopes: I have another meeting room for "program committee meetings" that's where a larger number of academic meet to select papers to be presented at conferences. Do you want to see it?
snowbody Cortes:  sure. a lot of chairs !
Truelie Telling: y'all are used to large groups!
Thirza Ember: this grid is very solid... we usually start crashing places by now
Crista Lopes: so this working space is really for voice meetings. I have some scripting too, but not a lot, for example I can raise a screen, this shows the paper that's being discussed.
Wizard Gynoid: this would make a great carnival ride. just animate it.

Fuschia Nightfire: so i clicked on something and ended up in another room
Crista Lopes: that's the conflict of interest button :) when committee members have conflict of interest they need to leave the room.
           The conversation with Diva ranged from the less-than-perfect nature of LSL as a scripting language (Diva says Python is the language of the future), to how Diva discovered Second Life in 2007, to whether OpenSim will survive in its current form, to the future of virtual worlds in general.  
Crista Lopes: streaming has the potential to really make this available to a lot more people. There's plenty of space for more platforms, but one thing's for sure: streaming will change the playing field.

Wizard Gynoid: what do you mean by "streaming"? Streaming audio and media already exist
Crista Lopes: This is a technology that allows virtual PCs to run on some cloud. These are powerful PCs with high-end video cards and no constraints in networking. Then they send back the video of their "screen".  It's like Windows Remote Desktop, if you are familiar with that. Or VNC.  It's similar, but when gets streamed is actual video with really good compression. It's amazing what they have been able to squeeze, then the user input goes from the use's machine back to that virtual PC, so it's interactive. For us, it doesn't look any different than running the application on our PC, but it's completely different.

            It was a fascinating conversation, with many of the group raising questions about the viability of this method for the kind of non profit open sim we currently have, or imagine we have. She even promised to let us try something called OnLook next time we drop by. 
          She seemed quite impressed by our weekly outings, and the variety of RL countries represented. We also got her to talk about how the core developers of open sim work together, and learned that she finds coding relaxing. 
           And yeah, we did mention the list of bugs we need fixing, Not sure we talked her into fixing everything by tomorrow, but we certainly gained a great insight into how our world works, and let her know in the first person how much we appreciate all she's done.
CrazyEaster Metropolis
CrazyEaster OSGrid
Diva's island         

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed the 48th session a lot. Crista had a lot of interesting things to say about the future of opensim. In our after talk sitting on the elephant you asked us to make a list of things we felt needed fixing in opensim. Since then I had a big thing that needs fixing dropped on OSGrid Lucy. I logged on after the recent outage to find that most of my clothes and hair could not be found. I later found that most of my recently acquired or created assets were missing. DAMN! That this should be fixed is obvious but I would like to suggest an alternate path to building better and more powerful asset servers. As you are aware I am a number alternate Lucys(I am beginning to feel like the clones in the Scifi program "Orphan Black"). There are 2 stand alone Lucys on a home server and a VPN. They each have several sims and use an SQLite data base. They seem to able to go anywhere on the hypergrid except Kitely(Kitely objects to them having numbers instead names for URLS for some reason). People can also visit me on my sims. I think that you visited one of mine a while back.
    One of the bad things that was inherited from 2nd Life is the central asset server. It worked for them because it tied an avatar to their grid and they had lot of money to throw at maintaining a large data base. This is not the case with opensim. Most of the larger grids have been plagued with problems trying to contain ever increasing assets. It might help to change things so that an avatar could be part of a grid but their assets would be stored as part of their home sim on the hardrive of their server. All of the other services could be provided by the grid. I am not sure how big a change this would be but we are half way there already with people being able to participate in the hypergrid from stand alones. I am looking forward to dropping this on Bluewall when we visit him.