Welcome to the sixth Sign of the Kite (SOTK) newsletter of 2016. Remember SOTK is the shortform newsletter that keeps you up to speed with all things Kitely and OpenSim. It is written BY residents FOR residents and is neither sponsored nor endorsed by Kitely. This newsletter is also available in pdf format.
Got news of your world or group, an event, a recruitment drive, a newsworthy shop, product or promotion? Drop a brief notecard on avatar Graham Mills_2 inworld or PM Graham Mills via the Forum. All that’s needed are 2–5 sentences with a title, URL and/or hypergrid address. All times in PDT, please, and nothing A-rated/NSFW. Copy deadline is 17:00 Wednesday for inclusion in Friday’s news. Note that we’re currently running a fortnightly publication schedule. Relatively thin fare this week due to pressure of other business, says Graham.
Mesh wizard Ozwell Wayfarer has opened a region for rentals and among the early takers is another mesh guru Chic Aeon who has her own Market store (which apparently is doing quite well at the moment).
Worlds End Estates: https://www.kitely.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=3250
Date for your diaries: super-amazing Oz is also coordinating a Spring merchant fair with a target start date of 1st May.
Dot compiled a useful list of events for this week; she intends doing something similar in the future. The list is based on the Kitely Events Google Calendar, so do keep listing any events there.
This week’s events: https://www.kitely.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=3256
Kitely Events Calendar:
How to list an event on the calendar: https://www.kitely.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=2481
This week’s EYDIS prim speed-build contest was won by Jade Serenity (pro tip: include ice cream in your build). Thanks again to the wonderful Faye Doff for sponsoring and managing the event. Graham noodled.
Views for the newsletter thread on the Forum hit an encouraging 4000. Just sayin’.
This should be called the Ozwell-themed issue as he has also popped up on the forums with this excellent guide to building for Kitely.
In similar vein Kitely Market storeholder Pro Materials popped up on that “other” grid with a great tutorial on use of lighting to get the best effect from from your textures/builds.
Grid god Ilan chipped in with useful guidance on defeating the lag monster. Super-hero stuff?
VWBPE2016 on OpenSim
OpenSim day at this year’s VWBPE went pretty smoothly. The highlight of the sessions that (sleepyhead) Graham attended was the panel chaired by Kitely resident Ghaelen DLareh which also featured another prominent Kitely resident and blogger Selby Evans. If there was a theme that emerged it was collaboration, with G+ figuring prominently as a possible medium.
Graham also had a soft spot for a non-OpenSim session on educational use of marker-based augmented reality. This is an area that OpenSim needs to track but maybe there is also a take–home message from the relative simplicity of the approach and the benefits achieved for both the class and teacher.
From a tech perspective the major issue was the use of Teamspeak for voice which took some getting used to for Vivox users. Some sessions were streamed and presumably will be available online at some stage.
Kokua released a version 4 viewer with support for HTML5-on-a-prim (HOAP?) and an update followed shortly after.
Radegast dev Latif Khalifa sadly passed away. Our condolences to the family and friends of this avatar who made significant contributions to many grids, often via his work behind the scenes.
Graham takes the A-Frame
Currently Cardboard looks like the most scalable ecosystem for immersive VR. While Cardboard isn’t OpenSim, sometimes it is politically useful to be able to discuss HMD-style VR in an OpenSim context given the attention it has been receiving. While Cardboard has been seen as an inferior stop-gap measure, the cost at scale of the high-end viewers will be an issue for many educational institutions (we can debate their educational value against desktop VR another time).
There are a few points worth making:
- Cardboard has a track record in education via Google’s Expeditions programme (though Graham hasn’t seen any evaluations yet)
- It is probably best used for short experiences and hence is less subject to some of the concerns regarding safety and nausea
- While it does require a mobile phone, it is not tied to a particular manufacturer and runs on Apple as well as Android. It doesn’t require a tether to a PC and hence could be used in standard class conditions.
- Viewers may become ubiquitous due to their use in marketing (Coca-Cola and McDonalds are two names seen recently in this context)
- Google is now selling several types of viewer from its US store (Apple is selling the ViewMaster which is scheduled for an upgrade)
- Google is actively recruiting developers in this area, presumably because it wants to see this area evolve further
- * Google is supporting Cardboard developers using Unity3D
Impecunious (or miserly?) Graham has a low-end smartphone (~$150, no contract) and finds Cardboard quite usable at the 1280×720 resolution available. His eyesight maybe isn’t so sharp so the pixel-based “screen door” effect doesn’t detract overly. He also subscribes to Ken Perlin’s view that the objective isn’t to recreate a synthetic reality so much as believability. “Good enough” is also probably better in terms of cognitive load.
At first sight content development for the average educator appears pretty much limited to use of the Cardboard Camera app. However, delving a little deeper, Mozilla’s VR initiative at appears to be bearing fruit. A-Frame is an environment that allows construction of scenes from HTML tags for cubes, spheres, cylinders, etc.
A-Frame is interesting to those who once built web pages in text editors. CodePen gives you the chance to see a live update as you work.
Intro and basic demos (see Community for links to more sophisticated demos):
A useful place to start looking for education-related immersive VR content (learning experiences if you will) is
While this isn’t a web viewer for OpenSim or even a live scene with avatars as with Trinus, it appears to be a simple approach that yields simple results in a cost-effective fashion. Whether it could be taken further, isn’t clear. This is in any case a fast moving area with more to come, including inevitable shakeouts.
(streaming with Trinus Gyre)
Production team: Dot Matrix, Serene Jewell, Graham Mills_2, Shandon Loring
This week’s editor: Graham Mills_2
Thanks to forum and community meetup participants for suggestions
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