Welcome to the twelfth 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. The 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.
Those attending the Community Meetups will have been aware of an upcoming change to the Kitely login screen and this went live this week. As well as giving some background statistics on avatar registrations and new world creation, there are links to key as well as popular destinations (which could be confusing), links to new items on Kitely Market, a list of recent forum posts and finally some useful web links.
Although nothing untoward has happened so far, it is worth noting that destinations and products could potentially be M-rated although G-rated accounts will be unable to access them once logged in. Selecting a destination link automatically makes it your last visited destination so your avatar will login there if you have Last location selected as the starting world in the viewer.
In answer to a question from Serene, Charles revealed that there is also a web equivalent of the embedded information.
There were also some refinements to Kitely Market and World Search.
Louis-Francis asked whether it was possible to stop avatars flying or teleporting once they are in a world. Graham thought a scripted security device might help and suggested an existing product from Flextech that might be extended to cover this eventuality. In an excellent display of customer service, Cirrus Stratus, owner of Flextech, came up with a suitable solution in very short order. It is available in both Kitely and Export versions.
Sunday’s meetup saw a lively discussion regarding possible improvements to “onboarding” in Kitely, including establishing a panel of mentors and putting together a welcome pack for distribution to new arrivals. As mentioned in the last edition, New Media Arts (Ada and Selby) have refined the induction of new avatars for Cookie II and their experience may inspire similar developments for the Kitely Welcome Center. Moonrise, Caribia, Giz and others have been doing a great job of greeting avatars new and old.
Selby blogged an introduction to the hypergrid for those coming from closed grids.
AngelCat Wingtips has set up a new group called Friendly Chatters for people who fancy a friendly chat.
The Second OpenSim Treasure Hunt is now over and, while they didn’t win anything, Kitely residents were major contributors of worlds. Graham suspects Kitely avatars were in training for the Olympics. For anyone who missed it, the good news is that the next hunt starts on 1st July.
Moonrise Azalee has opened Abhainn Amhrán (presently M-rated but likely moving to A in due course). Druidry-inspired with rental properties (first month free).
Karima Hoisan seems to have a new world under development. Always a good sign!
Gardening in RezMela
In the unlikely event that you are bored, Ramesh has you covered with his new gardening palettes for the RezMela authoring system (or that’s what Graham calls it).
Forums milestone ahoy!
The current incarnation of the Forums opened on 23rd December 2012 and is soon to receive its 4000th registered user (3953 at the time of writing), roughly 6.4% of the 61700-ish users who have registered for Kitely (according to the new statistics box on the login page) although the latter likely includes pre-Forums registrations. It may also include alt and student accounts unlikely to engage with the Forums although there are clearly some alt accounts on the Forums as well. Note that “registration” is being used somewhat loosely here as there is no separate registration for the Forums and the same username and password apply to the website and grid login. It would appear, however, that the Forums only know about you if you log in there.
About 570 users have actually posted to the Forums, i.e. about 14% of registered users. Lurking, of course, is normal practice on the interwebz as per the 1% rule. Roughly 130 have posted 10 times or more. Some 275 users have “liked” a post while about 350 have been “liked”.
In April 2016 Kitely reported about 1200 active users (people who logged in at least once during that month) which continues a steady upward trend for Kitely and OpenSim in general. About 90 people logged into the Forums for the first time during the same period, i.e. around 7.5% of active users. That might suggest that many users either choose to ignore or are unaware of the Forums except, of course, that they may read without logging-in or follow via RSS. Perhaps the presence of recent posts on the login screen will encourage users to sign into the Forums and contribute.
Hopefully the new Evergreen Island starter world will encourage users to stick around although the first contact (Kitely Welcome Center, greeting) will also be important. For those that find them, including the 4000th forum-ite, the Forums can also play a useful role in smoothing out any bumps in the user experience. Kudos to Ilan for his many timely contributions in that regard and it’s no surprise that he comes top of the “liked” table in the Forums.
Did you know?
The forum thread for the SOTK newsletter has received over 3000 views during the past two weeks (yes, the highest to date). It’s likely that many came via search engines, which means that more people may be discovering the possibilities of OpenSim and Kitely. So this explainer is directed to them:
- FYI: OpenSim (also known as OpenSimulator) is open–source software for the creation of virtual worlds that can be run on your PC or hosted remotely as with the Kitely.com commercial grid. Worlds in Kitely and beyond are optionally networked via the Hypergrid. They are accessed via dedicated browsers such as Firestorm. Content can be created inworld or imported as mesh models. It can be scripted in LSL which is substantially compatible with the language used in Second Life (TM). Objects can display web content and access external web servers via LSL scripts. Subject to permissions being set, content may be exchanged with other avatars and can be sold either inworld or, for example, on the web-based Kitely Market which delivers inworld to more than 100 non-Kitely grids.
All aboard for History Month this August!
This changed everything; seriously disruptive technology for its time (the train, not the prims)
A reminder: August’s History Month is currently divided into four weeks as follows:
Week 1: Greco/Roman
Week 2: Medieval 500–1500
Week 3: 1600–1700’s
Week 4: 1800’s to 1914
Graham thinks that this is general guidance rather than “tablets of stone”.
Ghaelen has some history-related products on the Market (with an emphasis on medieval) and Tocy is drawing up a wishlist for period-appropriate clothes (mainly RP but history-oriented as well). Louis-Francis and Jacon have both expressed their support and their RP-based historical worlds have much to offer.
Freda has an awesome list of events lined up.
Serene has established a Google doc for expressions of interest.
Graham can’t decide what he’s doing but thinks it will probably involve railways. Did you know that train departures from Manchester were initially accompanied by a bugle call? You did? Oh…
Full disclosure: Graham is not an engineer. He just plays one on the interwebz.
Hypergrid visit: Hyperspace at Binders.World
This week’s selection is an example of data visualization in virtual worlds by Magnuz Binder. The build is called Hyperspace and it maps 300 hypergrid-enabled virtual worlds as a cluster of orbiting planets. There’s a bit more to it than that but the web page gives you additional background.
hop: binders.world:8002:welcome (then touch the teleporter, select Hyperspace and sit on the teleport disc)
Also, do checkout the blog Pings from the Afterlife by Thirza Ember for many, many ideas and destinations. Thirza convenes the Hypergrid Safari which had its second birthday in May. Many congratulations to them!
Nothing Kitely-based to report but a few items of possible general interest.
Probably too late to be actionable but the EVA Park OpenSim project for people with aphasia is looking for an OpenSim/HCI person for a 6–month contract. Deadline 3rd June.
Details of post here:
Open Access and OpenSim-based
Stefan, L., Moldoveanu, F., & Gheorghiu, D. (2016). Evaluating a Mixed-Reality 3D Virtual Campus With Big Data and Learning Analytics: A transversal study. Journal of E-Learning and Knowledge Society, 12(2). Retrieved from http://www.je-lks.org/ojs/index.php/Je-LKS_EN/article/view/1132
Paywalled but OpenSim-based and with a short preview “Look Inside”:
Cecilia, M. R., & Gasperis, G. D. (2016). A Study on Teaching and Learning the von Neumann Machine in a 3D Learning Environment. In M. Caporuscio, F. D. la Prieta, T. D. Mascio, R. Gennari, J. G. Rodríguez, & P. Vittorini (Eds.), Methodologies and Intelligent Systems for Technology Enhanced Learning, 6th International Conference (pp. 91–101). Springer International Publishing. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com.liverpool.idm.oclc.org/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-40165-2_10
Kim, H., & Ke, F. (2016). Effects of game-based learning in an OpenSim-supported virtual environment on mathematical performance. Interactive Learning Environments, 1–15. http://doi.org/10.1080/10494820.2016.1167744
TiddlyWiki for a MOAP-based HUD: Part 2
Last time Graham pondered the usefulness or otherwise of TiddlyWiki for HUD-based text. This week he explores a world (Kitely Welcome Center) with the aid of a TiddlyWiki-on-a-HUD*. Code to follow…
Currently the scripted HUD can help visitors by serving as a guide, appropriate TiddlyWiki-based web pages being displayed according to whichever point of interest (poi) is nearest.
The HUD has two faces, one for MOAP (i.e. the wiki), the other for standard touch (mediating teleports). It is generated by rezzing a basic cube, adding the script, saving it and then taking the HUD back into inventory. If all went well you should have seen the cube change shape and also display MOAP (media will need to be enabled) when you attach it as a HUD.
The challenge posed last time was to use this HUD to display information from the wiki relating to a particular area/poi of the world. To do this we make use of TiddlyWiki permalinks where each tiddler (pseudo-page/text chunk) in the wiki can be addressed via its own URL qualified with the tiddler name (in our case equating to a poi).
There are various ways to do this but the challenge was to come up with an approach that would work anywhere and not depend on your being able to rez signposts, add scripts or have rights to execute OSSL code.
One possibility would have been to use scripted sensors in the HUD that could detect specific objects by virtue of their name or, more likely, their key/UUID. Unfortunately sensors are limited to detection of the nearest 16 objects so they do not work well with large areas or with large numbers of objects. There is a strong possibility that the object required to trigger the wiki page change will go undetected as your avatar walks nearby. Builds with multiple entrances are also potentially problematic unless you have large numbers of objects acting as surrogates for poi’s.
Ultimately the simplest approach was to define a poi as an x,y,z coordinate surrounded by a circular (purely conceptual) “fence” of a specified radius chosen to minimise overlap between adjacent poi’s. A scripted timer is executed at 10–second intervals and the location of the avatar is compared to a notecard list of known poi locations and associated radii. If the avatar falls within one or more “fenced” areas then the name of the nearest poi is used to trigger a change in the wiki page displayed on the HUD. This works, at least where running scripts is enabled.
While several issues were raised in the previous article about use of TiddlyWiki, the advantages of this approach are:
- The wiki text is available both inworld and from standard web browsers as well as offline if you have a local copy.
- No customisation of the world is required so the approach can be used with any public world.
- It is possible to provide custom wikis for different avatars with support perhaps for different languages or levels of expertise.
- The wiki can be customised in numerous ways to support display of images, video (via iframes) and even small 3D mesh objects.
- Web hosting of the wiki is free (donations welcome).
Next time we look at use of the HUD to support teleporting between poi’s.
*Acronyms for a TiddlyWiki HUD (THUD) or TiddlyWiki-on-a-Display (TOAD)? Perhaps not then…
VR tech update
Currently there is an air of “business as usual” following the release of the major high-end head-mounted displays (HMDs) and the announcement of Google’s elaboration of its low-end strategy in the form of Daydream. Equally there is a feel of a evolutionary “bubble” with much hardware (apart from Cardboard) destined to form a fascinatingly diverse layer in municipal landfill for future archaeologists to unearth.
The trend this week has been towards nomadic computing in the form of backpacks from HP and MSI. These contain battery-powered PCs that support use of HMDs such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive and hence enable a cable-free room–scale VR experience. Graham suspects this will not come cheap.
While it is possible that the cost of high-end VR may fall over time (AMD has announced a VR-ready GPU for PCs for $199), other manufacturers are already approaching the market from the lower end. Thus Chinese HMD manufacturer Baofeng is promoting a headset with inbuilt sensors, trackpad and hand detection for $145. This will support existing Android smartphones (presumably those working with Cardboard) but it’s not clear what software platform is being used beyond this.
Rumours abound that the next iteration of Microsoft’s Xbox One will support the Oculus Rift. Meanwhile Microsoft released a nice mixed–reality concept video based on Windows Holographic and the HoloLens HMD.
High Fidelity released its roadmap for the next six months.
Sketchfab created an application for producing a single-user Instagram museum that can be viewed using a range of HMDs.
Graham found a compilation of guidance for designing and creating VR experiences. Enjoy!
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
Stay in touch
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On the Web
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Some freebies listed on signofthekite.com http://signofthekite.com/category/freebies/
On the Hypergrid
HYPEvents Event listings: