Patagonia is somewhere I have wanted to visit for some time, and specifically to try to reach the base of a mountain in the Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina near El Chaltén. I have had an interest in rock climbing and winter mountaineering for some time and was a member of the University of Edinburgh Mountaineering Club in the 1970s, around the time that there was a controversial climb of Cerro Torre, a stunning Patagonian granite tower mountain. This was widely discussed in mountaineering magazines at the time (e.g., “Cerro Torre – a Mountain Desecrated!” in Mountain 23, Sept 1972).

We finally had the opportunity to travel to Patagonia in February and March 2017.

Our tour, arranged through Swoop Patagonia, took us via Santiago in Chile, through it’s Los Lagos region and Chiloe island, down to Punta Arenas in the far south of South America, then via coach up the East side of the Andes to Torres del Paine National Park, over into Argentina to El Calafate and the Los Glaciares National Park, with a final bus trip up Ruta 40 to El Chaltén to trek in the foothills of Fitzroy, Poincenot and then to approach Cerro Torre. We returned to the UK from Buenos Aires in Argentina.

The Andes and Volcanoes

As we flew down the line of the Andes from Santiago to Puerto Montt we could see many volcanoes and two active ones… including Villarricia.

Chiloe and its NW Coast

We stayed in a beach house on the North Coast of Isla Chiloe near Ancud and explored the NW coast of Isla Chiloe by Land Rover doing cliff and beach walks and birdwatching with Britt Lewis of Austral Adventures.

Magellanic and Humboldt Penguins share space and overlap in their ranges on islands just off Puñihuil on Isla Chiloe – Las Pingüineras.

Los Lagos Region

On 26th February 2017, there was a “Ring of Fire” annular solar eclipse whose path passed directly over us while we were near Puerto Varas… but unfortunately at the full “Ring of Fire” phase the sky was overcast and we only managed to see a partial eclipse through heavy cloud.

We stayed at the Mitico Puerto Lodge on Lagos Tagua-Tagua and did a number of walks in the region…

At night we had beautiful clear skies with the Southern Cross constellation very bright and views of the Milky Way and the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. We even had a very bright International Space Station pass to the South of us, something that surprised us until we verified the ISS current position.

Punta Arenas and Magellanic Penguins on Isla Magdalena

Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

We trekked with Explora Patagonia in the French Valley and up to the French Glacier, over to Glacier Grey and in the East side of the National Park to see Andean Condor, Guanaco, Rhea and Puma.

We discovered Pisco Sours… we had to have one with glacier ice at the Grey Glacier… and Parrilla

Los Glaciares National Park, El Calafate, Argentina

From El Calafate in Argentina, we had a trip up to the Perito Moreno Glacier to view the calving of icebergs into Lagos Argentino from the walkways and boat.

Cerro Torre, Poincenot and Fitzroy, El Chaltén, Argentina

We planned multiple days in each area on our tour as the Patagonian weather can be very wet, very windy and cloud levels very low. We planned our walks at El Chaltén with Walk Patagonia to maximise our chances of seeing the peaks and especially Cerro Torre.

Local guides indicated we had set ourselves a “High Goal” as Cerro Torre is surrounded by glaciers and situated at the head of a valley behind Fitzroy and holds clouds. But, with careful monitoring of the detailed weather forecasts on Windguru on our final day in Patagonia we woke to a rose coloured sunrise on the very tops of the granite towers – Fitzroy (3405m), Poincenot (3002m) and Cerro Torre (3128m)…

We were then fortunate and achieved our aim on a walk up to Lagos Torre and overlooking the Torre Glacier with views up to Cerro Torre itself…

Birds, Animals, Plants and Rocks

We saw many Austral birds and animals: Andean Condor, Magellanic Woodpecker, Chilean Flamingo, Lesser Rhea, Guanaco, Grey Fox, Puma, etc.

All images © Copyright 2017 Austin Tate.

Posted in Nature, Travel | Tagged | 2 Comments – 2001: a Space Odyssey


A “2001: a Space Odyssey” scene has been created using the Unity3D VR Experience which uses 2001 movie related 3D models of the freely available 3D Warehouse Sketchup Models of the 2001 Space Station by Filip and the Orion III PanAm Shuttle made by Daniel M.

Sine-Space-2001-2 Sine-Space-2001-3

Posted in Space, Virtual World | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on – 2001: a Space Odyssey

Second Life – Gardens by the Bay

Maddy (Nibby Riddler) has constructed an artistic build in Second Life that is based on the Singapore gardens by the bay with it’s “Supertrees” and night lighting.

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Visit via

See also Inara Pey’s Blog Post about the location.

Our own visit to the Gardens by the Bay early in 2016 is depicted here…

IMG_5088 IMG_5103

Posted in Second Life | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Second Life – Gardens by the Bay – RGU Oil Rig Region – Live

The RGU Oil Rig region using Colin Hetherington’s meshes is now accessible on the live server.. with a few enhancements to align the directional light with the water reflection and lens flare effects. See this blog post for details of the preparation of the region… and this blog post for details of the import of the RGU Diver outfit also by Colin…

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Update 3-Feb-2017: The “Oil Rig” region is now available on the live server via Blog post about the Oil Rig Region…
sine_space_oilrig_closeup sine_space_oilrig_deck

Posted in Virtual World | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on – RGU Oil Rig Region – Live

Significant Date

Retired, from full time work anyway. Returning part-time in March 2017 to continue to curate AIAI knowledge engineering resources and web site, and to coordinate the Virtual University of Edinburgh (Vue) facilities prior to handover to colleagues.


Posted in Edinburgh | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Fairy Tree House

OpenSimulator Fairy Tree House and Accessories by Ada Wong on Whimsical Isle, LFGrid…

hop:// Isle/245/93/23

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Sea City

TV21 Annual 1971 published a story about a Pilkington Glass Age Development Committee design study of a “Sea City” for a community living offshore. A model was created and cutaways and renderings of the model appeared in the press. Details can be found at


OpenSimulator Project

A possible project to build a virtual reality recreation of the model in the OpenSimulator virtual world platform or as a Unity3D VR Experience is under consideration…

2017-01-12-OSGrid-Sea-City-Region-Created 2017-01-12-OSGrid-Sea-City-RGU-Diver

hop:// City/128/128/30
Posted in Virtual World | Tagged | Comments Off on Sea City

Unity Probuilder – Creating 3D Content in the Unity Editor

Unity ProBuilder is a Unity3D plug in that allows the creation and manipulation of 3D mesh content directly within the Unity Editor. There are basic (free) and Advanced (paid) versions. The advanced version allows for complete UV unwrapping, export of models to OBJ, etc.


Posted in 3D | Tagged , | Comments Off on Unity Probuilder – Creating 3D Content in the Unity Editor – Creating Avatar Attachments

As a trial, and to provide space related outfits for the Space Station/ISS experience in, I followed the instructions on the wiki to create avatar clothing and attachments…

helmet-428-321_png emu-428-321

I used the freely available NASA 3D models for the Space Helmet and NASA Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU).

In a new Unity Scene with the EditorPack-….unitypackage installed, the “2015 Male” asset is placed at 0,0,0. An empty object to act as a container for the attachment is placed also at 0,0,0. The attachment itself is then brought in and positioned appropriately relative to the avatar, and then put inside the container object. Two Unity components are added to the attachment container object: Clothing Item Settings and Virtual Good. Instructions to complete those are in the wiki page. The container object is then dropped into the Unity assets window to create a prefab. This prefab is the item that then can be selected and uploaded to the content servers.

2017-01-11-Space-NASA-Space-Helmet-Unity-Editor 2017-01-11-Space-NASA-Space-EMU-Unity-Editor


Sine-Space-Helmet Sine-Space-EMU

NASA EMU and Space Helmet on avatar at Space Station Region in


Gender Specific Variants

At the moment requires attachments to be gender specific, so separate male and female variants of each attachment need to be created and uploaded. In the Clothing Item Settings change the mesh model from “2015 Male” to “2015 Female” and adjust the position of the item to fit the different body shape and size, then resave the prefab and upload that.

Creating a Complete Replacement Avatar – Static Mesh and Non-Animated

It is possible to completely replace the standard avatar and add in a mesh (static or rigged) by providing a “Costume”…

Create an empty game object and add components for the “Clothing Item Settings” and “Virtual Good” as before, but keep the actual mesh to make the replacement avatar separate. That needs to be a prefab and dropped onto the Extended Settings -> Custom Skeleton -> Root template slot. The empty component is then made a prefab and uploaded.

2017-01-13-Sine-Space-NASA-EMU-Outfit 2017-01-13-Sine-Space-NASA-EMU-Viewer

Sine-Space-AnimatorOn the advice of Adam Frisby at Sine Wave, he provided a custom empty animation controller… and this needs to be added to the Clothing Item Settings, with the slots filled in as indicated in the diagram to the right…


Simpler NASA Astronaut EVA Avatar

The EMU mesh (and the Sintel mesh below) both proved to be quite complex meshes. A simpler NASA 3D model of an astronaut in an EVA suit was used instead. I used the freely available 3D Astronaut Nr 1 (Collada .dae format) by Max Grueter and Byr2008. Again set as a complete avatar replacement “Costume”.

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RGU Diver

A outfit was also created using the meshes from OpenSim made by Colin Hetherington for his RGU Diver suit for use in training simulations in virtual worlds for training oil and gas drilling rig workers (see this blog post). It is not intended for distribution beyond the demonstrations on the “Oil Rig” region on

RGU-Diver-Helmet-96x96 RGU-Diver-Tanks-96x96 RGU-Diver-Belt-96x96 RGU-Diver-Watch-96x96 RGU-Diver-Flippers-96x96

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Sintel Rigged Avatar

With the experience of trying a replacement static mesh model outfit/costume as indicated above for the NASA EMU, I tried the CC-BY-NC Sintel avatar (see… which is a rigged mesh avatar. On the advice again of Adam Frisby at Sine Space, its important that the rigged model prefab has the “Root Motion” unticked. Its ticked in the original avatar model. Also, as its greyed out and non-editable in the original asset, drag the one in the Assets into the Scene/Hierarchy, modify it to untick the root motion tick box, then drag it back into the Project/Assets view. Then use the new one from the project view to fill the slot skeleton template slot.
2017-01-31-Sine-Space-Sintel-Outfit 2017-01-31-Sine-Space-Sintel-2

Posted in Virtual World | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on – Creating Avatar Attachments

Virtual World Platforms – CPU and GPU Load Comparisons

I have done some performance monitor and CPU/GPU load comparisons for established virtual worlds like Second Life (Linden Lab viewer 5.0.0) and OpenSim (Firestorm Viewer 5.0.0) and emerging virtual world platforms like High Fidelity and Sine Space.

Windows 10 Xeon E5-1650 v2 @3.50GMz (6 core, 12 processor), 32GB memory, SSD drives, Nvidia GTX 980 GPU, 1920×1200 screen. VR Mode off (no Oculus Home, Steam and Steam VR).

  • Baseline (Idle): CPU: 3% GPU Load: 0%
  • Linden Labs Viewer in Second Life (ultra graphics, 512m view distance) (5K object region): CPU: 13% GPU Load: 16%
  • Firestorm Viewer in OpenSim (ultra graphics, 512m view distance) (Mesh base region with 12K objects and 9K mesh colliders): CPU: 8% GPU Load: 11%
  • Sine Space (Unity3D based) (Mesh base region with 12K objects and 9K mesh colliders): CPU: 21% GPU Load: 40%
  • High Fidelity (Custom region with 5 large mesh objects and two NPCs): CPU: 12% GPU: 16%

Baseline (Idle): CPU: 3% GPU Load: 0%


Linden Lab Viewer in Second Life on “Vue” region (ultra graphics, 512m view distance) (5K object region): CPU: 13% GPU Load: 16%


Firestorm Viewer in OpenSim on OSGrid “Oil Rig” region (ultra graphics, 512m view distance) (Mesh base region with 12K objects and 9K mesh colliders): CPU: 8% GPU Load: 11%


Sine Space on “Oil Rig” region (Unity3D based) (Mesh base region with 12K objects and 9K mesh colliders): CPU: 21% GPU Load: 40%


High Fidelity (Custom region with 5 large mesh objects and two NPCs): CPU: 12% GPU: 16%


Posted in Virtual World | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Virtual World Platforms – CPU and GPU Load Comparisons



Linden Lab announced a number of community and social network feeds on 4th January 2017 as they prepare for the public opening of the platform sometime in 2017.

Posted in Virtual World | Tagged , | Comments Off on Sansar

Second Life – Winter Wonderland 2016

@InaraPey has provided an overview of the 2016 Winter Wonderland themed areas in Second Life…

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On the hour, every hour in Winter Wonderland…

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“Automated” Ice Skating

The skating though does take some (keyboard) work! For a more “automated” experience with solo, couples and trick dancing try “CALAS GALADHON’S 2016 HOLIDAY SIM, EREBOR” and just sit back and watch the dance displays at…

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2016-12-15-SL-Erebor-Ice-Skating-5 2016-12-15-SL-Erebor-Ice-Skating-4

Posted in Second Life | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Second Life – Winter Wonderland 2016

OpenSimulator Community Conference 2016

2016-12-10-OSCC16-Screen-1 2016-12-10-OSCC16-Screen-2

The OpenSimulator Community Conference 2016 (#OSCC16) took place over the weekend of December 10th to 11th 2016 on the OpenSim-based OpenSim Community Conference grid (grid URI and WiFi front end

My report on the experience of attending OSCC13 is described in this blog post, in 2014 in this blog post and some activities in the 2015 event in this blog post.

The 2016 event kicked off with a panel involving the core developers of OpenSim… with approx. 86 participants in the session, peaking at 95 avatars…

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OpenSim Code Commits 2016

Nebadon Izumi produced a visualisation of the code commits into OpenSim for the last year, as he has done for previous years of activity.


Overview of the OSCC Grid Regions

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Virtual Robotics: Creating, Collaborating and Constructivist learning in a Virtual World

A session by Carina Girvan and John “Pathfinder” Lester described an EU funded project to teach using turtle graphics visualised as 3D shapes and colours in OpenSim using the SCRATCH visual programming environment.

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External Application Development for OpenSim Applications such as Large Scale Urban Simulation

OSCC16 talk by OpenSim core dev Christa Lopes of University of California at Irvine (@DivaCanto) on using virtual worlds for large scale urban simulation…

2016-12-11-OSCC16-Remote-Control-2 2016-12-11-OSCC16-Remote-Control-3

Posted in OpenSim | Tagged , , | Comments Off on OpenSimulator Community Conference 2016

Winter in Second Life

As usual there are some wonderful Christmas and winter regions in Second Life… one of the “Destination Guide” locations in Winter 2016 is the Erebor region by Calaas Galadhon.


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2016-12-09-SL-Erebor-Skate-2 2016-12-09-SL-Erebor-Skate-3


Posted in Second Life | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Winter in Second Life Regions

As described in an earlier blog post ( – OpenVCE Region) there is a route to take content created in OpenSimulator, save that as an OpenSim Archive (OAR) file, convert it to Collada mesh via the OAR Converter tool, and load that in as content to Unity3D to merge with the Sine Space “EditorPack” unitypackage. This content can then be uploaded to servers and made available to others in the Sine.Space community either through each user’s free region (an allowance of one 128MB download region with up to 10 concurrent avatars)) or via paid subscriptions.

Some of the initial testing done on regions used OpenSim OAR content and other Unity3D experiences created using freely available mesh models.

Sine-Space-Loading-Oil-Rig Sine-Space-Loading-Castle
Sine-Space-Loading-Black-Rock Sine-Space-Loading-Space-City

The OpenVCE region is “live” in and can be visited in any WegbGL compatible browser via or

Other tests of for Gerry Anderson’s Black Rock Laboratory (Supercar) and Space City (Fireball XL5) regions, RGU Oil Rig and NASA International Space Station (ISS) are in separate posts. These are not publicly accessible and are mounted on development servers for testing only.

Virtual University of Edinburgh (Vue) on

openvue-mapThe Virtual University of Edinburgh (Vue) has now taken out a subscription for three regions each with an allowance of 512MB download size and up to 30 avatars concurrently present. The regions will likely use the Second Life/OpenSim layout brought across via OAR Converter initially, and then develop specific content for testing of collaborative facilities in virtual worlds. In the meantime, temporary content may be in place for testing.

Posted in Virtual World | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Regions


See the current or historic positions of spacecraft, planets and solar system bodies with @NASA_Eyes app for Windows and Mac. Download from Checked out the view from Cassini during the flyby of Titan on 29th November 2016…

NASA-Eyes-Saturn NASA-Eyes-Voyager-2

There are a number of special computer simulations of mission highlights.. e.g. the Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) landing sequence…

NASA Eyes has a “Simple Mode” which provides a thumbnail of spacecraft missions, planetary and other destinations, and recent news items…

Posted in Space | Tagged , | Comments Off on NASA Eyes – Roller Coaster

CindyBolero has ported her “Winter Festival Aero Pines Park” content into including a roller coaster. A bit more work is needed to sync up the views that each user sees. Apparently, sync on avatar movement is the default, but it is necessary to mark other region content such as a moving vehicle or coaster train that needs to be synced between clients.


Posted in Virtual World | Tagged | 1 Comment – Castle Region by Sine Wave Entertainment is a multi-user virtual world based on Unity3D. Another blog post gives details of the development process for a custom region using content created in OpenSim and brought across to Unity3D via the OAR Converter.

I used the Unity3D Sine Space Base prepared as noted in the blog post and installed the OpenSim OAR Converter translated Epic Castle content…


The upload size was 285.19MB and the produced downloads for the various platforms were reported as:

Successful Platforms:
   win32 (184mb), webgl (127mb), android (194mb), ios (193mb)



Posted in Virtual World | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on – Castle Region – RGU Oil Rig Region by Sine Wave Entertainment is a multi-user virtual world based on Unity3D. Another blog post gives details of the development process for a custom region using content created in OpenSim and brought across to Unity3D via the OAR Converter.

I used the Unity3D Sine Space Base prepared as noted in the blog post and installed the OpenSim OAR Converter translated RGU Oil Rig content…


The upload size was 110.12MB and the produced downloads for the various platforms were reported as:

Successful Platforms:
   webgl (46mb), win32 (125mb), android (124mb), ios (120mb)

2016-11-21-Sine-Space-Oil-Rig-4 2016-11-21-Sine-Space-Oil-Rig-5

Posted in Virtual World | Tagged , , | Comments Off on – RGU Oil Rig Region – ISS Region by Sine Wave Entertainment is a multi-user virtual world based on Unity3D. Another blog post gives details of the development process for a custom region using content created in OpenSim and brought across to Unity3D via the OAR Converter.

I used the Unity3D Sine Space Base prepared as noted in the blog post and installed the OpenSim OAR Converter translated International Space Station (ISS) VR Experience content including detailed 3D models of the ISS, Soyuz, etc.


The upload size was 123.49 MB and the produced downloads for the various platforms were reported as:

Successful Platforms:
   win32 (148mb), webgl (82mb), android (129mb), ios (205mb)

2016-11-21-Sine-Space-ISS-1 2016-11-21-Sine-Space-ISS-2

Atmospheric effects, general fog, etc., were turned off in the “Post Zone Settings”, but “Bloom Settings” was left on and set to a high value of 2.0 at the suggestion of another Sine Space developer. The ambient lighting set under Unity3D menu Window -> Lighting was left on “Gradient” but turned well down to 0.4 with the sky colour set to an Earth-like blue. This meant that most light comes from the directional light which is set in the direction of the sun, with dark crisp shadows lit a little by earthlight. The image below is after this change…


Update: 5-Jan-2017… the “Space Station” region is now available on the live server via

Posted in Space, Virtual World | Tagged , , | Comments Off on – ISS Region – Gerry Anderson Regions by Sine Wave Entertainment is a multi-user virtual world based on Unity3D. Another blog post gives details of the development process for a custom region using content created in OpenSim and brought across to Unity3D via the OAR Converter.

I used the Unity3D Sine Space Base prepared as noted in the blog post and installed the OpenSim OAR Converter translated “Black Rock” region including detailed 3D models of Gerry Anderson’s Supercar and Black Rock Laboratory.


The upload size was 38.78MB and the produced downloads for the various platforms were reported as:

Successful Platforms:
   webgl (33mb), win32 (75mb), android (70mb), ios (76mb)

2016-11-18-Sine-Space-Black-Rock-Supercar-4 2016-11-18-Sine-Space-Black-Rock-Supercar-5
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Space City/Fireball XL5 Region on

I used the Unity3D Sine Space Base prepared as above and installed the Gerry Anderson Fireball XL5 Space City content converted from OpenSim via OAR Converter…


The upload size was 51.59MB and the produced downloads for the various platforms were reported as:

Successful Platforms:
   webgl (38mb), win32 (81mb), android (83mb), ios (86mb)

2016-11-22-Sine-Space-Space-City-1 2016-11-22-Sine-Space-Space-City-2
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Posted in Gerry Anderson, Supercar, Virtual World | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on – Gerry Anderson Regions – OpenVCE Region by Sine Wave Entertainment is a multi-user virtual world based on Unity3D. A previous blog post showed early experiments while the system was in test mode in 2015.

The platform is now available to all, and users can add one free “region” using an addon Unity3D “unitypackage” merged with custom content.

The OpenVCE region is “live” in Sine Space and can be visited in any WegbGL compatible browser via or

Other tests of for Gerry Anderson’s Black Rock Laboratory (Supercar) and Space City (Fireball XL5) regions, RGU Oil Rig and NASA International Space Station (ISS) are in separate posts. These are not publicly accessible and are mounted on development servers for testing only.

2016-11-17-Sine-Space-OpenVCE Resources Clients regions can be accessed via a WebGL capable browser such as Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome, or via an installable desktop application (download via link at

An avatar can be moved using the usual WASD or arrow keys, and F(ly) mode can be toggled with “F” and then the E and C keys move the avatar up and down (Page Up and Page Down as alternatives may be added soon).

It may be worth noting that Alt+U toggles the interface elements on and off in the viewers, if you want a clear image for snapshots. Creator (Live) and Curator (Preview and Test) Servers

Previews and testing is done in and live regions are served via There is a limit of 128MB on the download size of a region on the live server for the free account. Larger region downloads are available via paid subscriptions on the platform. The region size is reported when a region is uploaded from Unity3D to the review “curator” server so you can see if it will be within the size allowed for free or paid accounts..

Trial using the OpenVCE Region


A test of adding a region into was done using the OpenSimulator OpenVCE region converted via OARConv tool to Collada meshes suitable for import to Unity3D (see this blog post for details of that conversion).

Register a user as a space developer “creator” ( to get access to the relevant SDK and Unity3D package required.

Create a region API key via that account – via the API keys link at

You need to create a Unity3D application incorporating the Editor unitypackage available via a link accessible only to registered and logged in creators at (EditorPack-08p1.unitypackage as at 15-Nov-2016). Instructions for the process involved can be found in these two YouTube videos.

Create a new Unity3D base application using the following process, which you can save and reuse for any specific region creation. The process is as follows:

  1. Load in the Editor unitypackage (EditorPack-08p1.unitypackage as at 15-Nov-2016) using Assets -> Import Package -> Custom Package. This adds an extra menu item to the Unity3D editor menus – “Space”.
  2. Use Space -> “Install Editor Pack Settings” and then Scene -> “Scene Settings”. This will add a “Scene Export Settings” item to your Unity3D project. Click on that and set fields appropriately. The content type will be “Region”. Give it a name. You can “reserve” a URL for the region for when it goes “live”.
  3. Make sure you have some sort of ground plane which has collisions set so avatars do not fall through the floor. This can be removed when your region content is added if that incorporates its own ground terrain or floor.
  4. Add the provided “PlayerChar” (a blue male avatar) to allow local testing of the region in the Unity3D editor.
  5. Add a “Landmark” to act as the spawn point when avatars enter the region in In the project hierarchy use Create -> Create Other -> Landmark. Then select that object and tick it as ‘Spawnpoint’ and select its Type as ‘Landing Zone’. Place it so that its baseline is a metre or so above the ground level. So when avatars spawn their feet are definitely above the ground plane and fall gently onto it.
  6. Remove the Main Camera as that will interfere with the “PlayerChar” avatar or live avatars when the region is used in
  7. [OPTIONAL] In the Unity3D editor Window -> Lighting settings swap the Ambient Source from Skybox to Gradient, and raise Ambient Intensity from 1.0 to 1.75 to prevent over harsh shadows and lighting. If you want WYSIWYG between Unity3D editor and creator make sure Linear lighting is on via Edit -> Project Settings -> Player, under “Color Settings” there is an entry for Color Space – make sure it’s set to also Linear, not Gamma.
  8. Save this setup as a Unity3D scene and save the Unity3D project as a base for future region creation.

Now you can add your own region content into the project, testing it with the incorporated temporary “PlayerChar” to walk around it.

Lighting was a bit harsh when the OpenVCE region was first tested as the region content. Adam Frisby at Sine Wave Entertainment suggested to use Unity3D editor Window -> Lighting settings to swap the Ambient Source from Skybox to Gradient, and raise Ambient Intensity from 1.0 to 1.75. He also found a specific issue with a shader on the “Tweet Bubble” object, which was subsequently removed in the Unity3D project.

If you want WYSIWYG between Unity3D editor and creator make sure to switch to Linear lighting too via Edit -> Project Settings -> Player, under “Color Settings” there is an entry for Color Space – make sure it’s set to Linear, not Gamma.

Upload to Servers

You might want to make a fresh Unity3D scene into which these changes can be made, prior to upload, so your base project and content remains intact for continued revision and testing in the Unity3D editor afterwards.

  1. Remove the PlayerChar character from the Unity3D project inventory before uploading the region to servers. Note that just unticking the box which shows the PlayerChar in the project is not enough as hidden objects are still included in the final result. This is because components can activate hidden objects via scripts, etc.
  2. Add into the project hierarchy a new empty game object and name it something like “Space Post Zone”. Open it in the Inspector and add a component called “Post Zone”. This gives many options for settings that will be applied to your region and how it is rendered. In here, for example, you can turn off depth of field blur with a tickbox. These are only applied on sine space servers not locally in Unity3D editor player, and may cause errors there.
  3. Check the “Scene Export Settings” settings to ensure the content type is “Region” to check the region name, URI and other details are correct, etc. Most defaults for the various settings should work for testing purposes. You can add in the custom icons, etc if you wish, or test without these.
  4. Login via the Unity3D editor Space -> Upload Settings” to allow for the upload to take place. This will fill in your API key which you should have previously created via
  5. Scroll down to the bottom of the “Scene Export Settings” in the Inspector and you will see the button for “Automatic Submission”. Hit this to begin the region packing and upload process.


The OpenVCE region, unoptimised and with all the OpenSimulator region content intact was reporting a 226.24MB size.

After the processing feedback messages provided by are provided, the final message indicates the size of the download required for the supported delivery platforms. These are the sizes that will be needed for the live delivery platform. So the LARGEST of the sizes reported is the figure to use when calculating if you can fit in a free region (limit 128MB). For OpenVCE this was…

Successful Platforms:
   webgl (92mb), win32 (172mb), android (171mb), ios (169mb)

In the “Scene Export Settings” settings, this can be optimised, especially for texture quality. WebGL has a smaller download size as its textures are less detailed. The “Standalone” size is larger by default as it uses higher quality settings. Try adjusting these to change the download file size that will be required. E.g. I changed the max texture size to 512 from 2048 for the standalone. make sure you hit the “Apply Compression Settings” button under Tools in the “Scene Export Settings”.

You can also remove objects from the project. You must really delete them from the Unity3D project hierarchy since just unticking the box which shows the object in the project is not enough as hidden objects are still included in the final result. This is because components can activate hidden objects via scripts, etc.

A suggestion might be to create a new Unity3D scene from the full project and only delete the PlayerChar and unwanted items in that scene.

After this the upload file size was 213.68MB and the download file settings were lowered to:

Successful Platforms:
   webgl (78mb), win32 (127mb), android (64mb), ios (62mb)

Reducing Texture Size in the Downloaded Region

Sine-Space-Scene-Export-Settings-Texture-CrunchAdvice from developers to reduce texture size in region downloads was to set was to use the “Scene Export Settings” “Texture Compression” section. Allow Crunch and set the Crunch Level to 50 (100 is lossless, 0 is maximum compression).

Working on Multiple Development Computers

To be able to upload to the same region name and URL reservation name, you can copy the Unity3D project folder to another and make changes there. This will also work across development machines. This has the effect of copying the scene file with the scene settings component in it then it will resume automagically and allow the same region name reservation. Otherwise in a new Unity3D project folder, you need to use the ‘Resume ID’ in the Scene Export Settings, and fill in the Resume ID from either Space -> Items & Settings, or

Entering the OpenVCE Region on

2016-11-15-Sine-Space-OpenVCE-Loading 2016-11-15-Sine-Space-OpenVCE-Loaded


Look in Standard Assets -> Environment -> Water -> Prefabs… and add WaterProDaytime set at 0,0,0 and scaled to 300,1,300 (to extend beyond a 256mx256m OpenSim region). Then also add WaterProNightime set at 0,0,0, rotated to flip it upside down to act as a surface water layer when viewed from underneath 180,0,0 and also scaled 300,1,300.

For each type of water make the Water Mode be “Simple” rather than the default “Refractive” or the other “Reflective” option, as that will look better in the various viewers.

Scripts, Seats and Furniture

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Van Gogh at Arles on OpenSim

The OpenSimulator-based Littlefield Grid (LFGrid) has a wonderful “Arles” area created by Mudpuddle Cleanslate. It can be visited by any avatar from any Hypergrid-enabled OpenSim grid (such as OSGrid) via this location…


Mudpuddle Cleanslate wrote:

… Van Gogh’s Virtual Arles, a beautifully landscaped sim showing 17 of the views that he painted during his time here. At each viewpoint I have placed an easel showing Van Gogh’s finished painting. Arles is now open for visitors although there will be additions as and when. There are a few surprises only to be discovered when you visit the Yellow House.


An overhead shot of the Arles region on LFGrid is here…

Arles in Virtual Reality

The LFGrid Arles region works wonderfully in VR on Oculus Rift using the CtrlAltStudio viewer (CtrlAltStudio

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360° Snapshots in Second Life

A new Second Life “Project Viewer” has been released by Linden Lab that allows for the creation of 360° snapshots in Second Life virtual world scenes.

2016-10-26-SL-360-Snapshot-Menu-1 2016-10-26-SL-360-Snapshot-Menu-2

There is also a package of HTML and JavaScript that can be installed on a web site (supporting Python) which provides a framework for viewing the images that are created (works in Microsoft Edge, Mozilla, Google Chrome and Apple Safari on iOS, but not Internet Explorer).

The 360° snapshot web viewing framework mounted on our own server at looks like this…


The current experimental project viewer saves a set of six 1024×1024 snapshots in a .zip file. Add any new 360° image .zip files you save to the “shots” directory in the web framework, and then access them via a URL of the style…



Vue Region in Second Life


Click for 360° view…
The icon in the top left corner gives you a link to visit the destination.

I-Room on Vue Region in Second Life


Click for 360° view…
The icon in the top left corner gives you a link to visit the destination.

Fish4Knowledge (F4K) Gallery in Second Life


Click for 360° view…
The icon in the top left corner gives you a link to visit the destination.

Menu of 360° Images


A sample file menu.html in the web viewer framework can be edited to show the collection of 360 images available. Click on icon in top left corner for full sized view. See example at

360-Snapshot-Viewer-ButtonsUsing other Formats – 2:1 Pixel Apect Ratio for Flickr

Once you are viewing an image using the web viewer framework that operates on the .zip files, you can download it in a 2:1 aspect ratio suitable for upload to Flickr for sharing and viewing in 360°. The download button is indicated in the image to the right. Images download using it are in 2:1 pixel aspect ration (PAR) at 4096×2048, and contains XMP metadata specifying a “ProjectionType” which should be recognized as a 360 image. This means they can be uploaded directly to Flickr for 360° viewing. Inara Pey’s blog post gives helpful details.

Some examples produced using this procedure are available in

After creating an album and uploading some of the 2:1 PAR images downloaded in this way… here is an example of a number of panoramas in Flickr… this also works in Internet Explorer…


360° Snapshots in a Virtual Reality Headset


The “360 Photos” app in the Oculus Store can be used to view 360° snapshots saved in an appropriate format. One of the formats allowed is the same 2:1 ratio image format that can be output from the Linden Lab web viewer framework and that works with Flickr. Any JPEG photos with either an equi-rectangular projection (recommended 4096×2048) or a cube map (recommended 1536×1536 per cube side) will render in the application. You simply place these in the directory indicated below and they appear as “My Photos”…



Advice to Create Better 360° Snapshots

The Second Life Wiki 360° Snapshot Page has advice on setup of the viewer to create better snapshots, particularly for this early test version of the viewer with its limited facilities to “freeze” the scene to capture the multiple camera angles needed.


As expected there are a few glitches with this initial project viewer.

  1. When the box to “Do not capture my avatar” is ticked in the 360 snapshot creator tool, avatar attachments such as hair and shoes continue to show. A sample of this is at
  2. If you try to take a snapshot with a viewpoint that is too high up in the sky, not surprisingly, there is an obvious “box” straight edge effect on the horizon at the junctions of the stitching of the images. A sample of this is at
  3. In the menu.html web page template, the icon in the top left corner of each thumbnail opens the full sized image, but the same icon in that full sized view gives you a link to the Second Life map location. Maybe two different icons would work better, especially as the “About -> Controls” help page indicates that icon is to visit the region via the map.
  4. A few viewer crashes occurred.

Other 360° Snapshot Creation Approaches

Other approaches to creating 360° snapshots in Second Life using multiple cameras have been created and are documented in this blog post.

Happy Halloween 2016

and in Flickr…

Setup to Hide Ground in Aerial 360° Snapshots

SL-Setup-to-Hide-GroundWhen taking snapshots at a height above a region, even if the viewing distance is set low enough that all objects on the ground do not show, the surface patch, ground and water of the regions below you can show in a snapshot. To avoid this you can turn off the rendering of these elements… in Advanced (Ctrl+Alt+D to show) -> Render.


360-Supercar 360-Supercar-Cockpit

Click for 360° view…
Works in Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome and Apple Safari
(but not Internet Explorer)

Posted in 3D, Second Life, Virtual World | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

IPAB Web Site

The University of Edinburgh School of Informatics Institute for Perception Action and Behaviour (IPAB), which is Edinburgh’s Robotics Institute and part of the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics (jointly with Heriot-Watt University) has a new web site…

2016-10-14-IPAB-People-1 2016-10-14-IPAB-People-2

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Asgardia – The Space Nation

Asgardia ( is a project to explore a space-based community by creating an “Asgardia Citzenship” of those interested. It will start with privately financed spacecraft and go on from there.

asgardia-space-citizens-2016-10-12-5581 asgardia-space-citizens-2016-10-12-Joined

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DreamWorld – Outworldz OpenSim Installer

2016-10-10-Outworldz-LauncherDreamWorld is an OpenSimulator world to demonstrate an easy to use OpenSim setup program called the “Outworldz Installer” created by Fred Beckhusen, aka Ferd Frederix. It includes MySQL, the Diva Distribution (“D2”) of OpenSim, Diva’s WiFi admin interface and the OnLook viewer. It sets up a sample virtual world with HyperGrid capability along with options to load a range of alternative content via OpenSim Archive (OAR) files.



Fix to OpenSim.exe.config

It is possible that some Windows .NET4 environments might have problems loading some modules… reporting an error with…

An attempt was made to load an assembly from a network location which would have caused the assembly to be sandboxed in previous versions of the .NET Framework. This release of the .NET Framework does not enable CAS policy by default, so this load may be dangerous. If this load is not intended to sandbox the assembly, please enable the loadFromRemoteSources switch. See for more information.

A fix was made to OpenSim in bin/OpenSim.exe.config (and bin/Robust.exe.config though that is not used yet in the Diva D2 distribution) on 23-Nov-2013 (git master a68d1fa) for this, adding the following line to the <runtime> section…

    <loadFromRemoteSources enabled="true" />

If you see this error in the Outworldz console or log file (in …Outworldz\OutworldzFiles\Opensim\binOpenSim.log), check this line is present in the bin/OpenSim.exe.config. If not, add it and run again.

Posted in OpenSim, Virtual World | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

360 Degree Snapshots in Second Life and OpenSim

This is a resource area for experimentation with the production and publishing of 360° snapshots in virtual worlds such as Second Life and OpenSim.


Blog Posts


Update 26-Oct-2016: Linden Lab released a project viewer able to generate 360° snapshots along with a web to view the generated images. See this blog post for more information.

Posted in Virtual World, VR | Tagged | 4 Comments

Edinburgh MOOCs

On 3rd October 2016 a celebration of the first 5 years of University of Edinburgh Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) took place in the Playfair Library in the University’s Old College. 35 MOOCs on three MOOC platforms (Coursera, EdX and FutureLearn) have been provided in that period. A brochure was released to celebrate the occasion and publicise the work of the University in providing open online accessible educational materials in many subjects areas…

2016-10-03-UoE-MOOCs-Front-Cover 2016-10-03-UoE-MOOCs-Back-Cover

This includes the School of Informatics Artificial Intelligence Planning MOOC


We can add that the AI Planning MOOC also had 6 guest lecturers for each week and for additional study opportunities:

Guest Lecturers:
Prof. Nils Nilson (Stanford University, USA),
Dr. David Wilkins (SRI International, USA),
Prof. Jörg Hoffmann (University of Saarland, Germany),
Dr. Brad Clement (NASA JPL, USA),
Dr. Alex Champandard (AiGameDev, Austria),
Dr. Arturo Gonzalez-Ferrer (University of Granada, Spain and University of Haifa, Israel)

The materials all are available under a flexible Creative Commons Licence: CC-BY-NC-SA

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Voice Activated Intelligent Personal Assistants

On 28th September 2016 the Amazon Echo voice-activated cloud-based intelligent personal assistant device named “Alexa” was introduced in the UK, having been available in the US since 6th November 2014 (see Wikipedia article). This blog post collects resources and links related to voice-activated computer assistants such as Amazon Echo, Apple Siri, Google Home and Microsoft Cortana.

AmazonEchoLogoAmazon Echo – Alexa

Amazon_EchoThe Amazon Echo incorporates a wifi linked control unit along with a tubular speaker. The control unit on its own is available as the “Amazon Echo Dot” which can be connected to external speakers, though it also has a simple speaker incorporated for voice feedback.Amazon-Echo-Dot

Amazon Echo Dot First Time Setup

For some reason on a University network that should present several WiFi access point options (eduroam and central) only central showed. But except for that, connection to a Wifi network which requires a user name/password and conditions acceptance prompt was straightforward.

The Alexa Home Application on a web browser or mobile device shows the latest interactions, news, music player (with active controls), etc that are relayed via the device.


It appears that the ability to read out Kindle books is not present in UK devices yet.

The Echo and Echo Dot update themselves when idle for a period. See this page for the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot Current Software Version. Although my experience is that the version listed on web page may not be fully up-to-date and your Echo or Echo Dot may actually have a new version after an update.

Switching between WiFi Networks

Amazon-Echo-Dot-WiFi-SetupIf you move your Echo or Echo Dot to a location with a different WiFi access point, you will need to change the WiFi setup. The device will indicate it cannot make a WiFi connection. If you then hold the “Action” button for 5 seconds or so, it will show an orange ring and enter setup mode. This will create an “Amazon-XXX” named local WiFi setup to which you should connect your Alexa app device (such as an Apple iPhone/iPad). Then run the Alexa App, select “Settings”, select your device and enter “Update WiFi”.

Connecting a Wemo Smart Home Device

I tried to connect a Belkin Wemo smart home plug. An immediate issue was that I could not connect to a Wifi network that requires a login username and password, normally presented through a web page or pop-up dialogue. It appears that WEMO only supports WPA, WPA2, and WEP security types.

A “Restore” button on top of the device allows for the initial built in direct access Wifi settings to be restored to allow a new Wifi connection to be set up. Instructions for the procedure are here.


The Amazon Echo and Dot can relay audio books from Audible (an Amazon company) and (in the US only at present) can do text-to-speech output for compatible Kindle books. If “WhisperSync” is enabled across your Amazon devices then the last page read is saved whichever modality you use.

  • Alexa Audiobook Commands. E.g.
  • Alexa, play book <title>
  • Alexa, resume my book (on subsequent instructions to go back to last page being read)
  • Alexa, restart (to go back to the beginning of the book)
  • Alexa, go to chapter <number>

amazon-alexa-skills-kit-logoAlexa Future Developments and Alexa Prize

Developers and students can access an “Alexa Skills Kit” to add “Alexa Skills” and join in a competition to develop conversational AI extensions suitable for Alexa.

  • The Alexa Prize – The Alexa Prize – $2.5 Million to Advance Conversational Artificial Intelligence – September 2016 – November 2017.
  • University of Edinburgh Team Edina Entry (Federico Fancellu -Team Lead, Ben Krause, Emmanuel Kahembwe @MannyKayy, Daniel Duma @mstdan, Marco Damonte, Jianpeng Cheng, Mihai Dobre and Joachim Fainberg).

Apple-Siri-What-Can-I-Help-You-WithApple Siri

Google-HomeGoogle Home

Cortana-Ask-Me-AnythingMicrosoft Cortana

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