Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Zangrid Opens Up Shopping To Hypergrid...

I was interested to learn Zangrid has opened a shopping mall region that is Hypergrid enabled. You can reach it using this address: hg.zangrid.ch:8002:HyperShopping

Arriving at the HyperShopping Mall at Zangrid

According to Rique Giano, speaking on Google plus, Zangrid now has Gloebits currency installed which their host Zetamex Virtual Service Network is supporting. Gloebits were first mentioned by Maria Korolov in a series of articles here & here in Hypergrid Business last year although one article did say hosting firms were split on adopting the token currency at that time. However, it now appears the Gloebits team headed by Seth Alves who spent seven years developing and administering cutting edge systems for Linden Lab's Second Life Virtual World is testing a new module on Zangrid which permits direct purchases, allows cash out for merchants and offers full online accounting for users. I understand Zangrid merchants are giving full permissions on content bought at the mall so visitors from the Hypergrid who buy virtual goods for personal use can take their purchases away with them when they leave.

I visited the shopping mall at Zangrid and took some pictures but I didn't sign up for Gloebits yet. It's hard to say at the moment if it offers a better or comparable service to Podex Exchange and Kitely but it is to be welcomed of course and I hope more grids consider adopting it to help stimulate trade across the Hypergrid. I like shopping at the Kitely online market and having the goods sent to my grid at Farworldz but I also love to browse in shops at Hypergrid destinations when I travel so I'm sure the experience of in-world shopping will be given a powerful boost with Gloebits and it would be nice to have a universal currency rather than having to buy local currency.

I did wonder if a serious currency trader might bring out a universal coin and it seemed to me that Podex who is well established might be the one to do it. I even dedicated a plot on my Welcome region at Farworldz ready to invite Podex to serve my currency requirements which would have left me free from legal worries and all. So, I am interested in Gloebits but more than likely I will still take Podex who have a good reputation anyway. They've been a virtual coin trader in Second Life since 2007 and serving Opensim grids  in recent years. They offer both their own currency and they trade in local currencies so exchanging one local coin for another struck me as quite handy. The only drawback now is they can't exchange Linden dollars any more since Linden Lab imposed a ban on thrid party exchanges effectively cutting off a big part of their business. Podex also deal in Bitcoins which gambling venues like YrGrid offer. However, Gloebits is offered as a universal, or global (as in the name) currency, they hope will be adopted across many grids. Opensim has been growing steadily and the growth is largely Hypergrid traffic so a universal currency might well become big business. Of course, if it becomes big, then I'm sure it may encourage some of the banking and share dealing that Linden Lab allowed in the early years before taking a tougher approach to be sure of satisfying financial regulatory laws in the real world. 

None the less, having a universal and easy to use currency has got to be the way to go if the Hypergrid is to continue to grow. There really isn't anything quite like Hypergrid out there yet although High Fidelity is a possible contender for the crown and what with Kitely market possibly selling to HF worlds in the near future then a universal currency like Gloebits can prove itself in Opensim and expand beyond as time goes by.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

US Army, MOSES Team Report Progress with Halcyon Branch of Opensim

An actual environment, on the left, compared to its virtual representation on the right. (Image courtesy Douglas Maxwell.)
In an article by Douglas Maxwell, the Science & Technology manager of MOSES, the US Army team working on a forked branch of Opensim, he reports on the team's progress in this important development. The team are working with Halcyon, the InWorldz engine that can handle PhysiX and advanced script improvements. Maxwell has answered some of the questions raised in Opensim Virtual recently and confirmed their aim to produce an HTML5 web viewer. This article, published in Hypergrid Business, is a must-read for anyone seriously interested in the future of Open Simulator...

This is a very welcomed update on MOSES, team's progress with their branch of Open Simulator. We had been discussing this briefly at G+ Opensim Virtual recently asking if anyone had heard news on the project. Some of the user community have been talking about how we might help and have our views considered. New Media Arts (NMA) are also interested in stimulating the development of OpenSimulator software and in an article at Virtual Outworlding blog there is more discussion. This article has also been linked to G+ Opensim Virtual 

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Opensim Virtual at Google + Two Years Old Today!

Back before Google Plus took off two years ago it was hard to say Opensim grids collectively had much community. It was easy to point to the Second Life community given it was all under one roof with a central focus but Opensim didn't have that. There were numerous individual grids, some closed, insular and fiercely competitive, while others were Hypergrid enabled but still not reaching out as much as they could have. A decent social network was needed and Facebook with it's real names policy and data mining was not filling the void. That was when I thought G+ could make a difference and the fact Google have no problem with avatar names it really has become all that I hoped it would.

It was slow to start and I had to find topics to post every day to keep up interest so, naturally, my focus was on the many open grids, lots of pictures and a little praise for all their efforts. Gradually the members began to join, post new topics of their own and comment on things of interest. I decided right off from the start to welcome all grids whether closed or Hypergrid enabled. I was happy to have them post topics about what they did on their grids and what they were offering in terms of entertainment, free content and services. Event notices where especially welcomed. I believed that by allowing promotions both commercial and none-commercial we would start to see the extent of the Opensim community as it came together around G+.

Happily, it did start to take off and the membership was growing. I saw grids promoting their activities and members asking for help. New G+ communities started to appear as well which supported individual grids while others focused on Hypergrid tours and education. More opened to promote role play and services like content creation and where to find it. I don't think anyone would doubt the impact Google Plus has had on the Opensim community and the centralizing focus it has given us. I believe it has helped more than anything else to bring Opensim users together to show the world we really do have a sizable and growing community across many grids, both open, closed and even the hidden ones.

In the past I used to speak of the hidden Metaverse but today, two years after I started Opensim Virtual, I think we have become more visible as a collective community than ever before and that in itself has been attracting new people. There are more and more grids opening and the associated G+ communities just keeps adding to the promotion. That can't be bad!

The future is looking good for the Opensim Metaverse.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Crowdfund Settlement News & Next Public Meeting Info

Dahlia Trimble has fixed the llLookAt() function for OpenSim and it works beautifully according to Fred Beckhusen who has tested it extensively. It is very low-lag with a modified sensorless script Dahlia gave him to test with and he put a high-def video version of how well it works on Vimeo seen here...

llLookAt is Fixed! from Ferd Frederix on Vimeo.

Now we have this success the Pledge Makers readily agreed at a private meeting on Friday 27th to pay a bounty of $1200 to Dahlia Trimble and the breakdown of payments due by the Pledge Makers is as follows...

Talla Adam (Kitely Grid) $120
Shin Ingen  (Ingen Lab Grid) $120
Fred Beckhusen (Outworldz Grid) $300
Selby Evans (Virtualoutworlding blog) $300
Gavin Hird (Geir Nøklebye  @ Xmir Grid) $30
Terry Ford ( Butch Arnold @ 3rd Rock Grid) $60
Michael Sietz (Digital Worlds Group LLC) $210
Alex Ferraris  (Avi-Labs/Aviworlds) $60

Progress info for this fund is here.

The target sum for the fund was $2000 and that was reached but the way we work is to ask the developer what they would like for payment if they complete the work and Dahlia asked for $1200. That left a surplus $800 which it was agreed the pledge makers would hold their own share for a time and it might be called on for follow-up maintenance of the code. Dahlia agreed to make minor tweaks and adjustments free of charge but anything major will, it is hoped, be covered by the surplus fund. 

We now hold public meetings at various grids on the last Sunday of the month where we hear proposals and debate them. A proposal can be made by anyone at the public meeting for some new code feature or to fix a bug in some important feature the community really world like to see working properly. Once the proposal has been considered we ask if anyone will guarantee at least half the target sum considered sufficient to interest an Opensim developer. We then call for pledges and publish a Crowdfunding request to Opensim Virtual with details of the item proposed. It is possible we may get more than one proposal at the meeting but since this has to be handled in Administration going forward I may only take the first proposal that gets a guarantor and postpone other proposals to the next meeting. It is basically a simple system that actually works and has produced quick results in the first project.

The next public meeting to hear & debate new proposals will be held Sunday 1st March 8pm GMT/ 3pm EST/ 12pm PST.
HG address: grid.xmir.org:8002:Barcola

For those of you who live in Europe and don't relate to GMT, the meeting is 21.00 Central European Time.

Friday, 30 January 2015

ZanGrid to join the Hypergrid And Other Metaverse News

On the 1st February, Zandramas becomes ZanGrid and the Club region will open to Hypergrid visitors so ZanGrid is set to join the open Metaverse and start welcoming a whole new bunch of visitors. 3rd Rock Grid showed the way last year and, after many months of agonizing on the merits and risks of Hypergrid, and working to persuade their residents that it would benefit the grid, they opened up a number of regions and gave their residents the option to be open or remain closed on an individual basis.

Butch Arnold, CEO of 3rd Rock, said their grid is seeing more traffic since they opened HG and some visitors have registered accounts with us. I told Butch I see your traffic is up some and he replied, "it is indeed.. almost doubled since October." The grid uses partial Hypergrid which blocks most content leaving the grid other than note cards and landmarks. Anything can be brought in of course so that includes deliveries from Kitely Market but Butch told me they are still working on their system.

ZanGrid has the benefit of seeing the success 3rd Rock is making of its entry into connected worlds of Hypergrid and, no doubt, they will look closely at their achievements. In any event, I am certain ZanGrid will see a boost in visitor traffic.

Opensim Virtual Crowdfund Meeting...

OV will be holding a meeting for the pledge makers to discuss the current Crowdfunding project to have llLookAt and llMoveTo fixed. 3rd Rock Grid  was chosen by me to hold the first meeting and Butch Arnold said he was happy to offer a venue and any help they can give. I'm drawing up a policy (or charter) to present to the pledge makers which sets out how we will operate the fund. 
Fred Beckhusen’s flying bee. (Image courtesy Fred Beckhusen.)

Everyone is welcome to attend the meeting though but the first part will not be open for general discussion. I want to make sure the pledge makers have their say and get to decide how we proceed. Once that is out of the way then I'll invite the audience to ask questions and engage each other in debate if they wish to.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 9 PM which is 8 pm UK, 3 PM EST and noon PST on Sunday 1st February 2015.

The pledge makers who have confirmed by email are as follows...

Talla Adam (Kitely Grid) $200
Shin Ingen (Ingen Lab Grid) $200
Fred Beckhusen (Outworldz Grid) $500
Selby Evans (Virtualoutworlding blog) $500
Geir Nøklebye (Xmir Grid) $50
Butch Arnold (3rd Rock Grid) $100
Michael Sietz (Digital Worlds Group LLC) $100

Alex Ferraris (Avi-Labs Grid) $100

That makes a total so far of $1750 confirmed pledges and the target is $2000.

Update (2nd Feb 2015): Crowdfund Meeting at 3rd Rock grid 

The meeting at 3rd Rock grid was fruitful and went well. Turnout was about 20 from other grids including all but one of the Pledge makers. They all teleported in successfully via Hypergrid. Apart from the loss of some attachments like hair everything seemed normal and relatively lag free. There is a log of the meeting posted here on it's own page together with a video from Fred Beckhusen illustrating the issues the Crowdfund is being raised to try and address. Opensim United also posted the log and pictures. 

Michael Sietz (Digital Worlds Group LLC) has also raised his pledge to $350 bringing the fund up to the target sum of $2000. I regret no more pledges can be accepted now.

Follow-up news on the Crowdfunding progress will be posted to the Crowdfund-log page on this site so please stay tuned!

 Closed Grids & Hypergrid traffic neck & neck but every way is up!
Ever since Maria Korolov published last month's traffic metrics on Hypergrid Business and declared that the Hypergrid worlds now were leading in total visitor traffic I have been watching our own Grid Search metrics closely. Our search engine updates all the metrics twice a week presently and displays a breakdown of which part of the Metaverse is getting the most traffic. Last month, according to HB, the combined closed grids figure was down below that for the combined Hypergrid worlds. But according to Grid Search, which tracks the most active grids, the none-Hypergrid worlds are still leading. In fact I have noticed a recent surge in Inworldz traffic which is helping to keep the none-HG grids up above the enabled grids.

The value of these metrics is questionable however and it has been pointed out that the closed grids display only unique logins while the open grids display both unique logins and Hypergrid visits which skew the figures. What they say is the same person might login at their own grid then visit other grids via Hypergrid thus pushing up the numbers if they get around a lot of them. On the other hand, people say the closed grid owners create large numbers of alternative name accounts and log them in just once a month which also skews their figures too. Other's just ignore all this and look at the trend which is generally positive in any event.

But today's figures were amazingly close regardless. They are as follows...
Total Active Grids: 188

Distributed Regions: 34879
Registered Users: 415096
Monthly Active Traffic: 24802
Est' Daily Peak Traffic: 886
Hypergrid Traffic: 12400
Closed Grid Traffic: 12402

You can take these numbers any way you like but they are drawn from the grid splash pages either manually or by our scraper program. incidentally, I recently made some code improvements so I could start to display individual regions of interest too and I will be looking at the code again with a view to increasing the number of splash pages the scraper can read so we can run it daily. Not only will that save me a lot of work it should be possible to show which grids are online or not.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Crowdfunding Opensim Development & Metaverse News!

There have been many calls to crowdfund Opensim features the community would like to see implemented but no concrete proposals to date have been made. Crowdfunding is not new and has proved very effective in getting new projects and ideas developed. Oculus Rift came into existence due initially to Crowdfunding. The Mesh Deformer was also supported by Second Life merchants in a Crowdfunding call and, while Linden Lab rejected it, the open Metaverse Inworldz grid took it up and had it developed for their residents but also donated the code as a feature of Opensim Viewers.

A few days ago J.Duke posted a topic to OV asking when we would get Havok physics because he wanted to bring his articulated truck trail system to the open grids (see link: http://bit.ly/1DyaX15 ) and, of course, Opensim is not going to get the Havok system because it's too expensive. However, Fred Beckhusen, the well known scripter in both SL and OS, said it's not the physics we need to change but llLookAt and llMoveTo are broken in Opensim code and need fixing if we are to see improvements in vehicle function of the kind J. Duke is looking for.

I felt this called for a Crowdfunding solution to get Dev's interested in working on it so today I'm making a personal pledge of $200 ( and I might donate more if the the pledges come in) to launch the campaign to raise a bounty. Fred Beckhusen has also said he is willing to help fund this so lets get it started. Is our community committed enough to help raise this bounty? What about those who make money running a business on the Opensim platform code, the commercial grid owners and Hosting companies,  will they pledge money and earn community kudos?

Initially, I think we might set a target of $2000 which, if mostly funded, can be claimed by any developer, or dev's, that successfully solve the problems and submit effective code to the core Opensim team. I will keep the community informed both here and at OV.

How will we do this?

Keeping it simple. We can use the comments here or at G+ Opensim Virtual to discuss the project and make a pledge if anyone want to. Please don't pledge what you might not honor and not less than $10. Nothing will be collected by me but once we have the working code in Opensim and there are no issues (Members will test it for sure) then I will declare the bounty available to whoever is recognized as responsible for the code contribution. Those who made pledges will then be asked to send their donation to the named bounty claimant - probably through Paypal so the claimant will need to have an active account and let us know they have received the money. There maybe a better way to do this so I'm open to suggestions.

So, there you have it. Money will be pledged and put on the table. If any Opensim developer is reading this wants to email me and make me aware privately of their interest then you can reach me at talla0adam|AT|gmail.com

Aviworlds Re-launched & Alex strikes back with Avi-Labs
The dramas surrounding the "bouncing" grid, Aviworlds might have settled down some now as Mike Hart has finally rested control from Alex Ferraris and re-launched it but not without Alex announcing the launch of yet another grid, Avi-Labs aimed mainly at his old following in the Brazilian community. Aviworlds, however, is making a strong pitch for the Brazilians by including greeters at their welcome region that speak the language.

Presently, Alex Ferraris is not a member of OV having departed recently. Actually, he has been in and out of OV almost as often as he has opened and closed Aviworlds when he still owned it. Anyway, I have been urged not to let Alex back because people are saying he just gets embroiled in dramas which reflect badly on the Open Metaverse community in general. This does mean Avi-Labs may not be promoted at OV but I have now let Aviworlds be promoted here since the ownership issue appear to be settled. Alex Ferraris says about Avi-Labs, "steaming ahead for a place in the top ten most popular grids in the metaverse." It will be interesting to see how these rival grids measure up to each other in the traffic metrics.

Breaking News: Zandramas Grid to change name to Zangrid
Making the announcement at their new G+ community ZanGrid, Suz Blessed posted  "Soon Zandramas will be ZanGrid :)  Same grid  just a different name, That is all :)". ZanGrid (Zandramas) is a grid people can join on invite and referral only. 

Finding Grids, Venues, Shopping and getting traffic
Opensim Virtual has its own Search Engine capable of finding most known grids. See the Metaverse link above for a demonstration of it in action on this blog. The Search can also be used in an Opensim Viewer such as Kokua to find and display the login splash pages of various grids. It may be used in-world too by opening a browser window in the viewer and searching for regions to visit. The Login link may also open a Landmark in-world which you can click to teleport or you can copy and paste HG addresses directly into the world map and TP from there. It works really well in Singularity but due to the V1 nature of that viewer it tends to open a web browser on your desktop which it shouldn't. The latest Firestorm viewer is currently broken too for opening landmarks and splash pages, so testing has proved. To use the engine in world call the address: http://www.x-retro-x.com/search.php


Using Grid Search is easy. Just select a category and enter a search term and the engine will display a selection of grids and regions matching the search criteria. The displayed items also show the current traffic data and a popup preview with a brief description of the grid. If a grid is open to Hypergrid then the address is shown too for copy & paste.

Gird owners who don't see their grid in Search can ask for it to be added by sending an email to
talla0adam|AT|gmail.com. Please note that the engine is designed to rate grids according to their traffic level so that busy worlds appear at the top of the display results. This means that grids which don't display traffic data on their splash pages will always be low in results and may not appear at all if they are off-line too much.

Finally, I do aim to do more work on our search engine so it can more easily find what users are looking for but it works well enough even now.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Who will build the first billion user Virtual World?

Just recently we have learned from Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab, that they has been quietly working on a new, more advanced Second Life. But the announcement comes not only after the much hyped High Fidelity already in development by former Lab CEO and SL inventor, Philip Rosedale, but also not so long after Facebook bought up Oculus Rift for 2 $billion as well. And so we now get the ground shattering news that Facebook's Oculus developers are part of FB's aim to build the first billion user virtual world!

Interesting that Ebbe has been saying something similar stating that Second Life Two (or SL2 for want of a name) will be aimed at a mass audience with the clear intention of breaking out of the niche corner it's been in for the past 11 years and try to get on the mainstream social network bandwagon. He is on record saying it's going to be "Multi-device from day one (including phones). "We're building the next-generation platform for hundreds of millions of people; not for millions of people." he said in an interview. So it probably is no coincidence either that Oculus CEO, Brendan Iribe mentioned the "Metaverse" specifically while speaking about Facebook's Oculus acquisition at the Techcrunch Disrupt conference. He said his team were very surprised to learn exactly what Facebook's aims were which amount to nothing less than a massive Facebook virtual world with its own cities, entertainment venues, businesses including a currency and full commerce - not unlike the current Second Life model basically but more advanced and fully supporting aspects of virtual reality such as the Oculus Rift goggles of course.

So it's clear the race is on and, arguably, Linden Lab has the experience and a good head start to launch the first of the next generation of virtual worlds where cartoonish avatars are replaced by life-like virtual representations of real people. The graphics will be stunning for sure and lag will be a thing of the past. The new avatars will work, play, shop and socialize online like never before. Imagine buying real world goods in a virtual Amazon store where you get to see demonstrations exactly what a product will do. Imagine too, dressing your avatar in beautifully crafted top brand clothes that are available for real by mail order. So long as you create an avatar that is an honest clone of your real self then you'll be able see how the latest fashions look on you as you strut your stuff in your Oculus goggles. Moreover, the next generation of virtual worlds will almost certainly be seen on a web page rather than downloading a viewer for, if you recall, Cloud Party, which made use of WebGL to render their world in a browser, was bought up by Yahoo very recently too. Firefox and Google Chrome are both planning to add special features in order to allow virtual reality support in their browsers which will advance this much further (see here). What we are seeing now is that all the right peices are coming together and the big players are gearing up to take advantage of a true virtual reality revolution in the making.

gears of war 2 ipad wallpaper via: idesignnetwork.com

You can expect the learning curve to be much lower too and it is probable that new ways to interact with the world like using head sensors that detect brain wave paterns (see Emotiv Insight) so the user can literally think what they want to do or even use facial expressions to direct actions - no hands needed! Possibly there wont even be any building tools in the browser version either because it will be aimed at a mass consumer audience and the creative people and those who want to make money will be offered separate developer software at a high price no doubt thus ensuring the big players with the money to invest enjoy something like an exclusive developers club. In any event you can bet your bottom dollar all the big online stores will want a very prominent and focused presence and that will mean huge sums of money being invested in desgin and presentation not to mention the fees to the VW platform owners.
Iris Ophelia's ongoing review of virtual world and MMO fashion
cutesy of New World Notes
Identity and privacy are big issues for the current VW users and Facebook's refusal to allow pseudonyms could turn out to be its Achilles heal when it comes to trying to rule the Metaverse. Linden Lab policy is firmly rooted in respecting their residents use of pseudonyms and it's hard to see how that can change while, for Facebook users, they have been conditioned (some would say brain washed) to reveal all to the world so FB can exploit it for the benefit of the advertisers. It could happen though that if SL2 is to go mainstream as Ebbe hopes then the Lab policy might change on identity too. However, the Facebook virtual world even with it's real names policy is going to be a lot different from the current experience of checking FB 15-20 times a day to see what real world friends and relatives are doing but I doubt anyone really knows just how much of a difference it will be. People prance around in front of their Wii now to get fit and do sports so will they prance about wearing Oculus goggles doing similar things with their friends and relatives in a virtual space in stead? Will people be floating along in the new FB/Yahoo/Linden Metaverse while actually on some kind of tread mill? Mores the point will everyone want to look like super models because they can? And you can bet your life the Adult industry will wade in with every which way to enjoy virtual sex. I mean, think of Haptic technology that provides physical sensations where "acoustic radiation" stimulates a sense of touch on the skin without the need for cumbersome gloves and body suits. There are so many questions one could ask about a Facebook virtual world but it's coming and I don't think Linden investors want to miss out this time round.

Now, we know that there is a lot of disquiet amongst Second Life residents on whether the Second Life they know and love will close after the new platform is launched and also whether or not the residents can take their names and inventory with them. Ebbe gave some
Picture Credit: Emotiv Insight
rather mixed messages on this saying on the one hand you will probably be able to take your stuff but on the other hand he says they are not interested in backward compatibility. Linden Lab is a business after all so it’s not really surprising that the Lindens are saying they have no plans to close SL1 because it would be financial suicide to say otherwise. Ebbe Altberg just hasn't been choosing his words very well but there is enough in what he has said to suspect they are keeping the "antique" SL1 afloat while its high pricing model continues to finance the development of SL2 and their other products.

Picture Credit: Sinful Robot
So, the Lindens are saying they wont close SL1 but they are not saying too much about SL2 other than it will be a lot better but really a lot of this is all corporate double speak and the Lindens have a pretty poor record when it comes to dealing with their residents. The directors seem to care nothing for the fact Second Life is a social entity and huge passions are stirred up when changes are made. To the directors it's a business in which business decisions are made with all regard to what will maintain and improve the profitability of the company. Don't be surprised to be told SL1 is closing once SL2 is firmly on the road. It will just be a business decision that has probably already been taken but, for now, they have to keep the golden goose alive. Linden executives have their price like any other business the world over so don't be too surprised either if SL2 ends up another Facebook acquisition in its drive to become the ruler of the Metaverse.